Valkyrie Rising- Part One
“Arliss Bennett, you were the one who scheduled us a client at 8:00 in the goddamn morning so get the fuck up already!”
Wearily, I rolled over and glanced at the clock. 7:45 AM. Ah, hell. I’d barely slept two hours. No wonder Skena was about to blow a gasket. She must have been trying to wake me for a while. I threw the blankets off and unsteadily made my way to the door. Taking a deep breath, I mentally prepared myself for the onslaught of curses about to be thrown my way and opened the door. Skena opened her mouth, no doubt about to launch on a seriously impressive vent using numerous colorful, though, mostly impractical scenarios that may or may not involve various body parts of mine. Instead, she took one look at me and her beautiful face softened.
Skena was hands down the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She was tall with long dark hair and a slender body with curves in all the right places. Her deep green eyes sparkled in the light, and her skin was the very definition of sun-kissed. She had this golden hue that made her look like she had just stepped off of some movie set. Sometimes, I really hated her. I mean it’s just unconstitutional to look so good this early in the morning. Then again, Skena always looks good. She has this uncanny ability to stay pristine in filthy situations.
I thought back to the Puttman Case from last month. Darcy Puttman, personal secretary to Doug Worthers of Worthers Industries, had walked into the little private investigation practice Skena and I shared convinced that her boss was trying to kill her. It took less than a week for us to realize that not only was she telling the truth, but we weren’t dealing with your average assassin for hire. Worther Industries was a major human owned pharmaceutical company. During our investigation, we discovered that her boss was working on a new drug whose main ingredient was demon blood.
Demon Blood or “Blue” was the human drug of choice about 10 years ago. It wasn’t popular for very long because the side effects were somewhat of a bitch. Humans determined pretty quickly that lifting cars and shit was cool and all, but being a slave to a demon until it decided to release you was not. Humans. Didn’t they learn anything from Hollywood (I mean hello, Pumpkinhead, The Exorcist, All nine of The Amityville Horror movies, any of this ringing a bell?)? Demons equal bad.
Darcy told us she had accidentally taken home the wrong paperwork one day, thus putting her at the top of her boss’ shit list. But Douggie-boy couldn’t just hire some asshat sharp-shooter to off his secretary, no, he had to be creative. He summoned a Boroth Demon and sicked it on her.
Boroth demons are, in a word, disgusting. Let me put it this way, if Nessie and the Glob had a love child, Boroth demons would make their offspring look good. Boroths aren’t enormous, but they’re fast as hell and have a penchant for spewing slime all over the place. Oh yeah, and they smell bad, really, really, really bad. It took Skena and me six horrifically stinky hours to evict Slimmy from Mrs. Puttman’s apartment.
Afterward, Skena strutted out the door looking like some warrior goddess. She almost got picked up by the resident hot guy in 2B. I say almost because while Skena was doing her sexy Xena impersonation; I happened to crawl out of apartment 2A. I looked like a hot mess. My normally long shiny black hair was matted and speckled with things I’d rather not mention, and my clothes were shredded to tiny black scraps that barely covered my lady parts.
My skin, which Skena kindly referred to as elegantly pale, looked practically fluorescent next to the bright green and yellow splashes of slime that covered me from head to toe. I had a gash over one of my violet eyes with a tooth stuck in it and blood was dripping down one side of my face, while the other was covered in Boroth particles. I looked like the Swamp Creature’s long lost love. The hot guy took one look and me and practically ran back inside his home slamming and dead-bolting the door after him. I didn’t blame him, really. Although, at the time, I thought the deadbolt was a bit overkill. I was thrown out of my musings by Skena placing a gentle hand on my shoulder.
She gave me a knowing look. Not really having the energy or desire to do anything else, I simply nodded once. I had been having “bad nights” for the past few months. Ever since the resident spooks in the area figured out, I could not only see them but actually talk to them. Because of some freaky accident of birth not only was I the twin who got the short gene, but I was also born with the incredibly annoying ability to interact with the deceased.
I have no idea why I was blessed with this weird gift. Skena’s theory is that it has something to do with the time of my birth. Skena and I were born on Halloween night. The story goes something like this: Our mother was a Valkyrie who broke a sacred rule and got kicked out of Valhalla Hall (the all-powerful and incredibly secretive Valkyrie coven located somewhere on the other side of the world). She fled from their righteous wrath and ended up in America with a new name, a new look, and a much bigger, rounder belly. She had Skena first at 11:55 PM.
Being the firstborn, Skena was gifted with all the regular Valkyrie gifts. Strength, beauty, agility in battle, and overall kick-assness. I was born five minutes later a little less strong, a little less beautiful, with zero agility in battle. I do, however, kick-ass. Just in a different way. For reasons unknown to either of us, I have a mix of unusual talents. While I can’t swing a sword matrix style to defeat my opponents, I can send them flying through the air with my mind. While I can’t move from one side of the room to the other in the blink of an eye, I can drop kick someone in the private parts and run like hell. And, while I can’t use my feminine wiles to distract my enemy, I can use Skena’s to do that, so it all works out in the end. Other than the telekinesis and unwanted ghostly connections, I can also see the future. Sometimes. On occasion. Okay, okay, rarely and it’s usually just a mix of mumbo jumbo that doesn’t make any sense and leaves me with a migraine the size of Texas. Skena squeezed my shoulder sympathetically.
“You look like hell Lis.”
“I’ll leave now and meet with the client. Go back to bed. You can meet me at the office later.”
With that, Skena turned and sashayed down the hall. I watched her descend the stairs perfectly in her stilettos and had a sudden urge to add bleach to her shampoo bottles. Apparently, getting only two hours of sleep makes me evil. Promising myself to be nice to the perfection that is Skena later, I made my way back to bed and collapsed. Just as I closed my eyes, I got those oh so familiar tingles, and I groaned.
I grumbled and rolled over. Of course, the spook didn’t listen to me (they never do) and the temperature in my room dropped another 20 degrees. I buried myself inside the covers and prayed this wouldn’t take long.
“Oh, my! Dear, you should use some moisturizer before you sleep. You know a lady can never have enough moisturizer. You look simply awful.”
I opened my eyes to find the apparition of an elderly woman floating at the side of my bed. She was dressed in what Skena calls a muumuu. It was a long nightgown with no shape and covered in a floral pattern. Her robe, however, was red silk and printed with white magnolias. The old woman had her enormous white hair in curlers and wore a pair of small cat-eye glasses that hung from a chain around her neck. Her face was made up in a manner that every Elizabeth Taylor wannabe would be proud of.
“Oh, where are my manners! I’m Gertrude Hemmingway. But my friends call me Gerty.”
Wonderful, I thought, a chipper ghost…