Flash Fiction Month 2014, Day 30
Challenge #14: Write a 666 word urban fantasy story featuring a monk or holy person. It must begin with an argument, and the main character must be marginalised in some way.
“What did I tell you about coming here? Fourth Street’s ours!”
The voice carried all the way up to the window of Vittore’s fifth floor apartment. He glanced down at the street below, but couldn’t see anything out in the open. It was the alley with the bins again. It always was.
“And what did I tell you? This bit ain’t Fourth. You on our turf.”
“The hell I am! Get out of here, dog!”
“What did you just call me?”
There was a snarl, and a crash as something bashed into the dumpster around the side. Vittore grabbed his keys from the bowl, locking the door with a trembling hand. He knew that the fight would be over before he’d even hobbled to the elevator, but he had been a priest once, and despite—perhaps even due to—having been cast out of the church, he could not simply sit inside like the rest of the residents and pretend not to hear. The doors pinged open, and he stepped inside.
When the elevator reached the ground floor, Vittore was surprised to find that he did not need to go any farther. A girl in a battered grey hoodie was sitting on a bench by the main doors. Vittore’s neighbour Mrs. Rennolls was standing over her.
“You can’t just walk out of here.” She said it with force. “I’m calling an ambulance.”
Vittore stepped forward. “I’m sure that won’t be necessary.” He put on his most convincing voice, taking care to hold eye contact with his neighbour. “I’ll see to it that she gets home safely.”
“There’s gangs out there!” Mrs. Rennolls waved an arthritic hand towards the doors. “And they’re dangerous! All that fighting…”
Vittore had been momentarily taken aback—when he had a mind to persuade someone, they usually came around immediately—but he recovered quickly. Where polite persuasion failed, there were other methods. He stepped towards Mrs. Rennolls, baring his teeth. “You would do well not to interfere with what you don’t understand.”
Mrs. Rennolls shrunk back. “Alright, dear.” She started towards the elevator. “If you’re sure.”
Vittore waited until the doors closed and the floor number started counting up before speaking to the girl. “Are you hurt?”
“Just a little, Clanfather.” She unfolded her arms, revealing a sharpened length of dowel jutting out from just beneath her ribcage. When she tugged it out, the wound did not bleed.
“If that had been a little higher,” said Vittore, sternly, “you would be dust right now. Was that one trespasser really worth risking your life over?”
“It wasn’t about that one,” she replied. “Everywhere we go, they’re watching out for us. Everyone’s watching out for us. But they only stand out at the full moon.”
“I know, child.” Vittore placed a hand on her shoulder. “So choose your battles better. It will be a full moon tonight, but now you’re in no shape to defend the clan.”
She stared at her scruffy canvas sneakers. “I’m sorry.”
“You’ll do better next time.”
Vittore spent the evening quietly watching TV. He would have liked to read, but his eyes weren’t what they used to be and the large print section at the library had little to offer him. He considered that he wasn’t much help to the clan now either. Unfortunately, for him there was no next time. The most he could provide now was a stern word or some brief advice, and even then there weren’t many opportunities. That was why, when he heard a muffled thud from the apartment next door, he went to investigate.
“Mrs. Rennolls?” he shouted through the wood.
Vittore reached for the handle, then hesitated. “Are you inviting me in?” he asked to make sure.
“Yes. It’s open.”
Vittore stepped inside and found Mrs. Rennolls collapsed in front of the sofa, tufts of fur sprouting from her cardigan, claws sprouting from her fingertips.
Yellow eyes looked up. “I think I’ve thrown my back out…somehow. Little help?”