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Jack Horton

Jack sat in a small independent cafe, a black coffee to his right, a small laptop before him. This was his daily ritual. This was how he existed now. A body within a crowded space, hunched over a screen, catching up on current affairs. The look was far too familiar in this part of the city - young writers worked on novels, fuelled by caffeine. Social Media Influencers updated their followers with filter-edited Instagram stories of iced coffees and artisan cakes. And Jack Horton, re-reading the handful of emails sent to him the previous day - updates of the events of the realm, of the lives and deaths, of the shapes of things.

’You want to give this a go?’ comes a voice to his side, but Jack his too lost to the music playing in his ears to take notice. It’s only when a gentle hands reaches out to press fingertips against his bare forearm does he look up, wide-eyed and alert. He instantly catches himself as the barista lets out a light gasp of surprise, and the two take a moment to exchange smiles of recognition and the unspoken invitation to proceed with the conversation.

“Sorry about that.” Jack apologised, pulling at his headphones until they wrap about his neck, large leather-clad ear pieces resting upon his collar bone. The barista shrugs and smiles in acknowledgement before holding out a small plate of brownie pieces. Jack eyes them suspiciously. “Dare I ask?” he continues with a smile, reaching out to take the piece with the most outer edge - aka the best bit of a brownie. The barista grins, hesitating before replying ’Chilli and lime’. Jack nods, popping the piece whole into his mouth before chewing. After a moment, he swallows, taking time to pick at pieces of cake stuck between his teeth with this tongue before speaking. “They’re good. These ones are actually really good!”

This was yet another part of Jack Horton’s daily ritual - food tester for the resident taste creator. A young aspiring baker far too inspired by a popular TV baking show and far too daring with their flavours. Before anything made its way to the counter, it seemed to go by Jack’s tastebuds first - mainly because the man seemed to be able to tackle any heat, any flavour combination, without complaint or stomach upset. So while he took up his daily residence of the table in the corner, abusing free WiFi and bring-your-own-cup discounted refills, his payment came in the form of guinea pig for culinary experimentation in the back kitchen.

Jack enjoyed the interaction, lacking in contact with people once he left the building come closing time, and had soon learnt the names of the small pool of staff members by heart. And they, in turn, simply knew him as ’ Black Coffee French Guy’, despite their attempts to learn his true name.

Rumours circled, as they always tended to do, about what he was doing day after day, lost in his headphones and screen. And once, when a new staff member managed to sneak a glimpse of his email, they assumed him to be writing some sort of fantasy story and that was that.

But the information on his screen, the locations of vampires, the actives of werewolves and the names of angels, were not fantasy, nor fiction. They were truths, each and every one, and Jack sifted though every document send to him, looking for familiar names, for threats on those he cared deeply for, and for rumblings of anything untoward.

There were always deaths, plagues and murders and acts of revenge, and there was forever conflict in some city or another, between one crew and some retaliating coven. But nothing caused him concern today, and nothing had caught his attention since he’d seen the note of death for Solomon King.

That one had stung. And for a week following, his fingers had hovered over the mobile phone on the table, desperate to make calls that were no longer welcome. So instead, he’d had to follow events via the words in his emails and figure out the aftermath through the movements of related parties and the inevitable closure of Mackenzie’s crew.

That’s when the text finally came from Tanvir, the angry rants that would not resolve themselves, no matter how much advice Jack tried to offer. In the end, he told her simply to leave town and get some air. And that she had, not returning a single call since. Her email updates had dried up, and now he was left with the few contacts that remained, though their information was never as thorough, and often lacked anything he’d find of interest.

And today, there was nothing at all. And he was starting to feel the panic build in his chest as he continued to hit refresh on the email client.

No new mail.

No new mail.

Still no new mail, chill the f*ck out, man!

When the barista left his table, content with the two thumbs of approval given for the brownies, Jack hit refresh one more time, letting out a sigh of relief when one new message popped up on the screen.

From: 163672876382

Elouise Warrock resurfaced in New York City. Last seen entering last known location of Elis Griffyn. Jack, this is important. I’m sorry but I can’t tell you why.


Jack re-read the message, clicking for more details on the bot-looking email address that his contact list didn’t recognise. He quickly typed a reply, asking ’Who is this?’ but within seconds, a mail undelivered report appeared on screen. After several resend attempts, each with the same outcome, he groaned, sitting back in his chair.

’Refill?’ came a voice nearby, but he was already packing away his gear, slotting the laptop into his backpack before dropping coins on the table surface. Despite the heaving body count of the small cafe, he skirts by tables and people with ease, spilling out into the sun-lit street of London.

While he recognised both names in the email, he knew neither of them personally. And as he jogged up the street toward his apartment, his fingers glided across his mobile phone, Jack checked for flight times to New York within the new few hours.

Curiouser and curiouser, he was packed and stood in line at Heathrow within an hour.
April 29, 2018 04:32 pm

Elis Griffyn

New York was a sunny seventy-seven and Elis, who had recently relocated to the city, was enjoying the summer wardrobe he’d borrowed from his room mate George. Bringing his aviators down onto his nose from their resting place atop his head, he stepped out into the Upper East Side, filling his lungs with the fresh air that surrounded him. Or, well, as fresh as New York City would ever allow the air to be.

Elis never really enjoyed New York. He hadn’t enjoyed it when helping to build the brave new world and he hadn’t enjoyed it during the war. Nor had he enjoyed it during the height of industry when the place was thick with smoke and revolution. And now, with the constant car horns, waves of people and ridiculous amount of crime, he wasn’t anymore the fan. But he had a few connections in the city that needed some attention, and until England decided whether it was winter or summer, he’d stay somewhere with at least a smidgen more sunshine that ol’ Blighty was offering. So, to New York he came and in New York he remained.

Meeting East 89th, the man had a meeting with the Museum of Natural History within the hour and decided to take advantage of the day by walking across Central Park.

Central Park was a favourite, at least now the city of homeless had moved out after the depression. Bright and busy and brimming with life, it was the one public space he allowed himself to venture without concern. Yet, there were certain parts of the city where he’d not go. Any location Jack has mentioned with fondness during their time together had since been labelled no man’s land for Elis. Better to keep distance from the man than bump into him. For while Elis knew Jack well, the Jack that currently existed in this time had no idea of their relationship. While their meetings had happened in Elis’s past over the last few centuries, they were yet to happen for Jack.

Try explaining that to someone whose eye you accidentally caught when recognition caused you to stare a little too long. It had happened once or twice during the last ten years or so, when a young Jack Horton roamed carefree wherever he pleased. From innocent and mortal to new blood and monster, Elis had been forced to witness the transformation, yet no Jack he'd met now came close to the one he'd known from his past. That Jack was colder, more worn and broken. And while Elis always sensed a great selfishness in the man, he also sensed his vulnerability. Elis didn't know what date his Jack had travelled from and the vampire had refused point blank to tell him. At what point would their paths meet when both were reunited in what they'd shared? And what dangers awaited Elis when he'd been told time and time again that he had to remain alive and prepare himself for the worst, for only he could save them from the unknown threat in the future.

Much too deep. F*ck it; Elis stopped and bought an ice cream before continuing on his journey.
May 01, 2018 12:57 pm
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