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Writing as Rikki Sharp, Kiss-Chase © Rob Sharp 2013. All rights reserved. The right for Robert Sharp to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Further information can be obtained by contacting robsharpavalon@googlemail.com

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“You used to be in the army, didn’t you?” Jake Rivers came out of the blue with, as the two business partners relaxed in the penthouse suite of the Paris Hilton Hotel, after their charge had just completed yet another sell-out concert. Jayne Constantine sighed heavily, stretching her legs right down to her toes, glad to get out of those damn shoes and put her feet up. “In an army,” she replied, not really in the mood for small-talk. The two bodyguards had rented ‘Dirty Harry’ on the impossibly wide-screened entertainment system. Having shrugged off their black suit jackets, their ties and there boots, they were slouched, feet up on the coffee table, drinking ice cold Buds from the suite’s fridge. Wrestling the remote from her wolf buddy, Jayne pressed pause and


3 - Kiss-Chase dropped the device on the monster semi-circular couch. “Are you going to talk through all the good bits?” she snipped. “Don’t shoot me down, but I’m not in the mood for Eastwood tonight.” “Not in the mood..? You frigging picked the film!” “Can I bum a ciggy from either of you two guys?” came a disembodied voice from the next room. “No!” they both snapped in unison. Wii control still in hand, dressed only in baggy sunshine-yellow shorts and a black Transformers T, their current client 15 year old rock phenomenon, Misty Rain, hair like a blue mattress explosion, scowled at her babysitters. “Tight bastards!” the teenager exclaimed. “If the Studio catches us feeding you smokes again, they will fire our asses,” Jake growled back. “Besides, think of what that toxic shit is doing to your beautiful voice?” Misty thought about that one for all of three seconds. “Screw you!” she eventually replied, and stamped back into her room, slamming the door shut behind her. “Lovely child…” sighed Jayne. “I asked you about the army,” insisted her bearded partner, running his finger along a barely visible scar down her right forearm, as it rippled in the hotel light, momentarily marring her soft chocolate complexion. “Finnegan’s Irregulars,” she finally replied, taking a long pull on her beer. “The worst of the worst. Volunteers, criminals and mercenaries pulled from every shitty corner of the Supernatural world.” “Which tag did they hog-tie you under?” “Some of number one, a bit of number two, but mostly number three. I’d just split up with the supposed love of my life and I was raging at the whole freaking world.” “Ah… That shit of a sorcerer again.” “The very same. First mission out of the box, they dropped us in the brushwood borderline of the Eternal Forest. Strapped with as much ordinance as we could carry, the Banshees were cutting loose again and kidnapping human fodder from the edge of Reality.” Opening up two fresh Buds Jake smiled and settled back to listen to a real life tale of death and blood. Eastwood would have to wait.


Kiss-Chase - 4 The trees in the Eternal Forest stretched as high as the eye could see, their foliage letting in about twenty per cent of the available daylight. Under the dappled green canopy that was the ghostly representation of every forest that had ever grown on the Earth, Finnegan’s Irregulars had fanned out in a crooked line. Slightly forward of the Shapeshifters who were still walking on two legs, marched the Stiltmen. The unimaginative name was rather apt, as striding twenty foot high over the bushes, fallen branches and the thick layer of dead leaves, swaddled in their sacred black shrouds, the creatures who were half flesh, half wood, were scouting for enemy. “Hey, panther!” croaked one of the cheery little monsters, clutching his Frankenstein’s Uzi close to his chest like a lover. “I’z can see right down your top! Nice rack!” “Hey, stilts…” she replied with equal gusto. “I can see right up your kilt. And the view’s not worth much!” A wave of mirth passed down the line of soldiers, lightening the mood. Since passing through the first line of trees, the Irregulars had been aware of moving from the dimension of Reality into the realms of Fantasy, each measured tread taking them deeper into this phantom land with no rules, where literally anything could happen. Two minutes later, the first of a barrage of Chinese Firecrackers came whistling through the forest, trailing plumes of multi-coloured smoke behind them, leaping and exploding amongst the intruders, sending the soldier’s scattering in all directions. Changing just enough to give her the speed, morphing into that higher breed of creature that was her real being, Jayne gave herself over to the cat. Black fur suddenly rippling across her flesh, her face slightly longer, the nose more snub and shiny… she was suddenly running, running until she just had to stop, diving head-long into the brush. Only the sound of the wind in the tall trees moved around her. As she struggled to unscrew her water bottle, finally remembering paws were not as dextrous as hands, she drank at least a third of its contents before stopping herself. Lying on her back looking at the forced perspective of the forest, she realised she was all alone. Again, her fur prickled out as the familiar, thankfully distant scream of


5 - Kiss-Chase a Banshee cut across the sound of the breeze. About three clicks away, she guesstimated, rolling over on to her belly and slipping the well-oiled safety from her Daisy-cutter AK5. Keeping the beast alive and alert within her, she smelt the air like a rabbit, nose twitching. Any other day it would have looked quite cute, but her animal senses were the things that were going to get her out of this mess. Eyes narrowed with that yellow glow of the cat, she turned a full 360… only to realise that she was completely lost. Something alien barked barely two hundred feet from the bushes she was hiding in, causing her to jump. It was one of those guttural noises that could have been made by any one of a dozen mongrels that were slowly infiltrating into the Forest. It was hot today inside that memory of trees long gone, the sound only making her perspire more. Keeping as still as stone, she strained her changeling ears, thinking she caught something creeping through the green towards her. As she stared hard through the tangle of undergrowth, sweat dripping off her chin and the end of her nose, her kaki vest beneath the backpack’s bruising straps now sodden and stuck to her flesh, there was suddenly a flurry of movement. His sacred robes on fire, a Stiltman came powering through the Forest firing shots off sporadically in all directions. Fire licked the precious leaves, making them curl up and crisp brown. Branches were snapped off as the idiot ran in blind panic straight towards where Jayne was hiding. Then, just as suddenly, he was down. Pulled into the green by three, no, four large-tailed Coots, as they fought to strangle him, steal his gun and put out the flames all in one go. Finally, as she watched the thrashing bushes in horror, there was a single neck-breaking crack and all went quiet again. With a swishing noise, a second Stiltman raced through the Forest like a blur, and was gone. Moments later there came a third and a forth. Sporadic firing with the odd scream echoed from an unfathomable distance up ahead, then it all when quite again, apart for the odd grunt and muffled chewing as the Coots ripped apart their stilt dinner. Whilst the enemy’s vermin-hunters were occupied, Jayne tip-toed backwards out of the bush and swiftly put as much distance as she could between her and the carnivores.


Kiss-Chase - 6 Something massive, black and scaly humped itself upright for a few seconds to her right. A vast millipede-turned-hunting-dog tasting the air with its quivering mandibles. Just as quietly, it submerged itself back into the sea of browns and greens. Had it scented her? She felt her heart racing, having to settle on a changeling-form, animal enough to move stealthily and human enough to hold a gun. Suddenly a hairy forest Troll about chest height raised himself out of the ground, paws extended, probably more surprised to see her than she him. Two silent bullets in the head made the fey collapse silently into the brush. Stepping over the grey and peach striped furry body, she noticed its Lederhosen were round its ankles. The poor sap had been caught scatting… its bad luck and her good fortune. Anthromorphic animals in bloody clothes… she really was deep into fantasy land. All it needed next was a couple of Gingerbread men, or a rabid Thricewise and she’d be needing the toilet herself. A twig broke behind her and she froze. Nothing else happened. Two heart-stopping minutes later, Jayne took a few steps forward, and that damn Millipede rose up like a black tide in front of her, by freakish luck looking in the opposite direction. All she saw was its rigid, segmented back about ten feet across, full of twitching silver wings as a group of feral wood-faeries hitched a ride, then the great beast was gone again. But something else suddenly began to move rapidly towards her through the undergrowth. She slung her gun over one shoulder, letting the weathered leather strap stop it from falling and morphed herself that bit further into the cat. Legs bending the wrong way, feet expanding into elegant paws, boots splitting open to accommodate this new shape, then she took flight, only two breaths from dropping down on all fours and becoming her full, wonderful, werepanther self. But the enemy was after her… running where she ran, ducking under springy branches and pushing through cane-grass. Up above, a Bat-fink glided between the trees, like a moving shadow, looking for juicy Irregulars. Somehow, if didn’t see her. Deeper into the realm of fantasy she ran, twisting this way and that, batting at a cloud of tiny wood-faerie as a couple hung on to her like annoying flies and bit into her backpack, one chowing down on her left shoulder. It had teeth like


7 - Kiss-Chase hypodermic needles as she splatted the little thing with her left hand, wiping the green goo off on what was left of her camouflage trousers. Its mate chittered abuse in her ear before she flicked that one off too. This minute breed of Faerie really was a foul-mouthed little sub-species. Finally running out of breath, Jayne stopped. In a fluid motion she slipped from cat to human form, swinging her gun back round, all her changeling senses sweeping the undergrowth behind her. Her pursuer took three more steps than her then he stopped too. Single enemy… this was good. If she opened fire on every twitching bush, she’d have that Millipede rising up to pull her beneath the ground in less than five seconds. Suffocating with her mouth and lungs full of dirt, as the ginormous insect chewed through her vitals whilst she silently tried to scream. In a glint of light, a dagger flew out of the green. Jayne turned and twisted as it sped towards her, but she was a milli-second too late, and the blade ran up the length of her right forearm, leaving a red gash behind it. “Sonofa–” she got out, just as a blurred figure followed the projectile, shoving his gun in her face. Nose to nose, the two Shapeshifters glared at each other, guns trembling on hair-triggers. Her attacker was another Irregular, stripped to the waist for speed and half formed into a werecheetah. “Nice fur,” she got out first, as the two soldiers exchanged smiles and uncocked their weapons. “Delany, Scott. Welcome to the jungle,” he said. “Constantine, Jayne. I was born and raised in a forest like this. It’s just like a walk in the park.” “Walk in the park my fluffy behind!” he glanced at her wounded arm. “Sorry about that, you should let me look at it.” “Had worse cuts shaving, soldier. We better move before that Millipede hears us gabbing away like this!” So they did, very quietly. Delany checked his weapon as they picked up some pace, scanning the left flank as she watched their right, having wound her head band around the bleeding arm to stop the flow. “The Banshees have stirred up all manner of nastiness… If we aren’t extracted from this fantasy in the next twenty-four hours, we’re Coot meat!” “Cheer me up, why don’t you?” But the grunt was right. No one came out alive from this deep inside the


Kiss-Chase - 8 enemy’s imagination. They were both born and bred in Reality’s fixed state and their brains weren’t wired correctly to cope with some of the madness that lay ahead. So they did what they were trained to do – survive. Building a shelter on the bones of a nest, abandoned by Bat-finks, they spent the night huddled together, one hundred feet off the ground in the saddle of a tree. What howled and panted and paced around the forest floor when the sun went down and the nastier faeries came out, they could only guess at, but neither of them got much sleep that night. Then, just as the red sun rose above the tree canopy, splashing everything with its blood light, they heard a familiar sound. The chopping noise of helicopter blades as their command flew in a trio of Mohawk gunships, searching for survivors of the previous day’s patrol. On skyhooks, the two soldiers were lifted out of the Eternal Forest and carried back to the relative monotony of the Real World and comparative safety. End of mission. *** “Fifty soldiers went into the trees on that patrol. Only us two and a Stiltman who had cut off his own wooden legs to climb up a tree like we had were pulled out alive,” related Jayne, taking another pull on her beer. “I heard the Eternal Forest gig was a bitch,” nodded her partner. “Did three terms into the Underworld myself, so I missed out on that one. You and this Delany hook up?” asked Jake, scratching at his scraggly beard. “No… This cut on my arm got infected and kept me in the medic-zone two weeks. Delany was pronounced fit and went back into the trees after a week. Damn fool got himself blown up by a Firecracker, three hours into the mission. There wasn’t even enough of him left to scrape into a food bag. He was just turned into fertilizer for the trees, as were a lot of good soldiers.” She’d left out the private details, of course. How, almost certain of death, her and Delany ripped what was left of their uniforms from each other’s backs and spent that long night of fantasy making love. It was a singular experience almost animal in its intensity, savage in its red hot love-heat, sensual and sticky. It still made her smile as she remembered that trick the soldier had done with his tongue on her… sending her body trembling into another time-zone. They did things to each other a good girl might have normally held back on, but this was most likely the last few hours of their healthy young lives and there


9 - Kiss-Chase was no holding back on either side. After that night in the tree, certain moments in her love-making with other partners always brought back memories of that beautiful Tennessee cheetah-boy. “So did you bang him?” chuckled Misty, rising up from behind the couch where she had been hiding. “Get to bed, you! Rehearsals at six in the morning, sharp!” shouted Jayne, throwing a cushion at the fleeing, giggling teenager. “Well did you?” asked her partner, with a rude glint in his eye. So she hit him with the other cushion. They’d been friends for years, but never in that way. The cat found the wolf a little rough and large for her tastes. The thought of sleeping with Jake was sort of weird, as Jayne now regarded him like a brother. “Go see she’s tucked in for the night,” she smiled, stealing the last bottle of beer. “Or we’ll have one pain-in-the-ass diva on our hands tomorrow!” Reluctantly, with a cry of “And I am not reading frigging Cat-in-the-Hat again!” Jake did as she asked. Left alone, the werepanther thumbed the ‘on’ button and Eastwood pulled surround-sound faces on the wide-screen once again. Her eyes were watching the classic film, yet her mind was far, far away… beneath that giant tree canopy. That night, as memories of Delany’s beautiful body and face filled her mind, she realised that in her world, fact was often far more exciting than fiction. END


KISS-CHASE ©2013 Rob Sharp. All Rights Reserved. Enjoy!

Featuring Jayne Constantine from ‘YOUNG BLOOD’, out now from www.soulmatepublishing.com (Also available from Amazon)

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Kiss-chase (short story)