Paraworld Chronicles-Alphas, Coffee, And Mr. Sloshy
After a night of torturous lectures and unbridled scolding from Gran and Brie, I found myself standing in line at my favorite coffee shop. I wasn’t quite sure which was creepier: the dead guy standing on my right whose face was falling off or the shifter in the corner whose eyes were glued to my back. He was definitely an Alpha, judging by the amount of power rolling off of him. A shifter being in the human part of town was weird enough on its own. What the hell was an Alpha doing here? Ever since the para-worlders unveiled their existence ten years ago, para and human relations have been a bit shaky. Most paras tended to stick to their own territories. It had only taken five days for the para-worlders to gain control after the Unveiling. It still amazed me how coordinated it all had been. I was in high school at the time. One minute, I was sitting in calculus, tapping my pencil against the desk as I impatiently waited for the remaining fifteen minutes of class to be over. The next, I was staring wide-eyed, mouth agape, as over half of the class dropped their glamour and turned into fairies or shifted into animals.
Apparently, the same reveal happened everywhere, all across the globe. 10:45 AM on a Tuesday and the world as I knew it changed forever. The vampires unveiled later that evening, just when all hell was breaking loose. The humans had either ran away screaming in terror or attacked; the latter having been exceptionally stupid. No human could stand toe to toe with a para-worlder. They’re supernatural beings. Oh, the humans had tried. They’d brought in armies, weapons, tanks-the whole shebang. Most of the armed forces had been supernatural in the first place, however. Once they’d weeded out all the paras, the humans were left with a fourth of the military personnel they’d thought they’d had. The news, radio, and Internet were flooded with statements from high-ranking paras asking the humans not to panic. They claimed they weren’t interested in taking over. Their only goal was to live out in the open but the humans idiotically attacked anyway. They lost. Quickly. Sending the human military to fight the supernatural had been like pitting a toddler against a full-grown rhinoceros. The whole thing had been ridiculous. Tensions have gradually eased over the years. Especially, once the humans realize the paras really didn’t intend to control them. There is still some prejudice out there between the paras and humans but, overall, things ran smoothly.
The world is now split up into territories. There are Shifter, Fae, Vampire, and Human territories scattered all over the place. Each territory governs itself and has a leader that is voted in by the people living in that territory. Humans have presidents for their territories. Shifters have Alphas, Faes have Lords and Ladies, and Vampires have Masters. These leaders make sure those living in their territories follow the laws and bring any issues or requests for improvement to the Councils. Councils rule over regions, which are separated by continents. The councils consist of at least one member for each species, and officially their job is to promote peace among the species by passing laws which benefit everyone. In reality, though, the counsels are groups of terrifyingly powerful paras (and their one token human) who keep the region in check. Break the law enough times or in a really bad way and you have to answer to them. No one wants to go before the Council. It’s worse than a death sentence if you are found guilty. A few years back, an older vamp went crazy with bloodlust and killed a bunch of humans. The Council sentenced him to 100 years of torture for his crimes. Seriously, 100 years. A shiver ran down my spine as I thought about the kind of torture a para could inflict. Of course, it could also have something to do with the two creepers I was currently dealing with.
I turned my head to the side slightly to make sure I wasn’t simply imagining the shifter stare and our eyes met. His forehead creased and an almost imperceptible glow began to emanate within his gaze. I snatched my head back to the front and began to panic. Shit! He didn’t know what I was, did he? Had my illusion spell worn off? I couldn’t remember if I’d checked before I left the house this morning. All those damn lectures had kept me up most of the night. In fact, I’d slept through my alarm and had awoken to a still livid Brie reminding me of our meeting today. Not only was Brie my much more talented sister, but she was also my partner in B&B Investigations. Yes, Brie and I had our very own private investigation firm. It was a family business.
There aren’t very many jobs out there witches could fly under the radar with, so to speak. P.I work was perfect though. No one else to pry into our personal lives but each other. No dealing with the public on a regular basis and clients usually didn’t ask questions so long as we got results. Even if our customers did suspect us of being paras, they definitely wouldn’t think “witch.” After all, Gran, Brie, and I were almost certain we were the only ones left. We’d held out hope for a while that there were others. But, after the big reveal happened and none of our kin was invited to the party, it became fairly obvious that our kind was extinct. Well…nearly. There’s us, the McCrearys.
I could give you a plethora of reasons why our kind has dwindled down to basically nothing. The witch trials (not the Salem ones, that was just a bunch of humans suffering from hysteria) took out a huge chunk of us. The supernatural community blamed us for starting the bubonic plague which affected paras and humans alike and was consequently slaughtered by the other pair races. We had nothing to do with starting the plague. If anything, we were the ones that helped stop it. It was the witches who kept Poland and Milan relatively plague-free. There just weren’t enough of us to help any more than that. More specifically, there weren’t enough Earth witches. They are the ones with the healing mojo. Then, there was the big Fae and Witch war during the 1800s. Supposedly, it had all started because of some illegal breeding between a few witches and Fae. They claimed our blood tainted an entire generation of their people and started killing us off. The Fae don’t mess around with their bloodlines. The war hadn’t lasted very long and, in the end, there had been just as many Fae dead as witches, but we somehow gained a reputation for being dirty and less than the other paras. This led to witches being ostracized even more and, eventually, we decided to hide amongst the humans rather than live among the parrots.
The crazy thing is, the paras have no clue just how much they need us. We’re the only ones standing between them and total annihilation. What could destroy supernatural, you ask? It’s simple really-demons. They’re more powerful than any of the para races and witches are the only ones capable of keeping them from crossing into this world. A few lower demons slip through every once in a while, but the big guys can’t cross as long as we’re alive to hold the gate closed. It’s also our job to track down and kill the lower demons that get through. Back in the day, it wasn’t that big of a deal. There were more than enough witches to ensure the demons couldn’t get through. Now it seems like more and more lower demons get through every day. That’s another reason why B&B investigations is a family business. While we do have the occasional cheating husband or wife case, our business is really just a front for the real job we do. We’re demon hunters. Well, Brie and the rest of them are. I’m basically just bait.
Spirit witches, like me, are more like candy to demons. One drop of my blood and any demon in a 10-mile radius is on me like white on rice. So, I go in, spill a little blood, then run like hell while the rest of my family takes the demon out. It’s pretty much all I can do. Being a spirit which is fairly useless as far as power goes. There are some cool things I can do though, like connect to the life force of others. It’s what allows me to be able to sense para worlders, even when they’re trying to look human. The enormous man sitting at the corner table would never be able to pass for human, though. Even sitting down, I could tell the man would be well over six feet in height. He was massive. It was almost comical seeing him scrunched into a tiny chair at the table. His legs dwarfed the poor thing, making it look as if he were playing tea party with a child.
His skin was what my cousin, Shayna, would call sun-kissed. He wore a simple black T-shirt and jeans. The shirt stretched and strained over the large, taut muscles which were indicative of his kind. Shifters are hot. They’re dangerous, scary as hell, and completely off-limits. But they’re definitely hot. Every female patron in the shop had their eyes glued to the Adonis in the corner and more than a few of them were drooling. Under normal circumstances, I would’ve been one of the ooglers too. Hell, I’d probably be one of the women who had to mop up drool after the man left but, on this occasion, I was a bit too preoccupied.
The reason for this was the constant sloshing and gurgling sound coming from my right. Being able to see and interact with ghosts is another one of my abilities as a spirit witch. Most ghosts that appear to me look normal. In fact, I often have a hard time distinguishing who’s alive around me and who isn’t. It’s caused some pretty embarrassing moments in my life. There was no mistaking the guy next to me though. He appeared in his death state, which meant he either didn’t realize he was dead or he had been messed up in the head before he died. Judging by the fact that the dead man kept trying to replace pieces of his rotting face, I was going with the latter. He also kept trying to talk to me which was impossible because he was missing the second half of his face. This was what was creating the gurgling sound. Every time he’d try to form words in his throat an astonishingly disgusting substance would bubble its way up and out of the space where his chin and jaw should have been. Thank the gods I was the only one in the shop I could see it. The scene would’ve created hysteria, and all the humans would perform a massive exodus. Then, there would be no barista to make my coffee which I desperately needed if I was going to be dealing with Mr. Gurgle and Slosh all day.
And I would be dealing with him all day. Tag-along ghosts didn’t go away until I figured out what they wanted. Hell, Edie had attached herself to me when I was 10. Apparently, considering me to be her “charge.” I was trying not to think about how long this one would take considering the man couldn’t talk when I felt the Shifters eyes on me again. His power was incredible. All shifters feel earthy and raw to me, and I can usually tell how powerful one is by how far away I am when I first pick up their presence. The one casually burning a hole in the back of my head had to be most powerful one I’d ever come in contact with. What the hell was he doing here? I could feel him four blocks before I entered the coffee shop. That fact was making Mr. Sloshy’s presence next to me seem downright pleasant. There were very few reasons shifters took an interest in someone like this. And not one of them were good.