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Love Amongst Strangers: Careless Whispers

 
h1=. Love Amongst Strangers:

Careless Whispers

By Jason S. Kenney

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The moral rights of Jason S. Kenney to be identified as the Author of this Work have been asserted in accordance with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.

First published in 2013 by

Artifice Comics in Bento Box #11

Editor-in-Chief Jason S. Kenney

Copyright © Jason S. Kenney 2013 – 2016

Love Amongst Strangers created by Jacob Milnestein, property of Artifice Comics © 2000 – 2016

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used factiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

 

LOVE AMONGST STRANGERS:[
**]CARELESS WHISPERS

By Jason S. Kenney

 

“I was such a sickly kid.”

Jeffery Carter was hunched over, arms on his legs, a latex George W. Bush mask in his hands the focus of his attentions. He sat on the edge of Hana Abramczyk’s bed in her home in Greater London, Hana digging through her closet while listening but not responding.

“Three cases of pneumonia by the time I was two,” Jeffery continued. “Horrible ear infections. Once had a fever break 104. Just a miserable time of it.”

“When’d it stop?” Hana asked, as she stepped back and studied her closet with a sigh, trying to find this damn box.

“The sicknesses?” Jeffery looked up to her as she went back into the closet and sorted through boxes on the top shelf. “I dunno. The most serious ones seemed to stop by the time I was four. I would still get allergies and random colds. I think the last time I was sick was probably eleven.”

“And then you stopped being sick?”

“As far as I can remember.”

“Huh.” Hana stepped back out of the closet and closed the door, looking around the room in thought.

He was here practically on orders. Miss Direct (he suspected that wasn’t her real name – call it a hunch) had left him Hana’s address. That Hana greeted him by name when she opened the door didn’t settle his mind. The home cooked meal she had waiting for him did.

And now she was digging for something she said would help his problem, though he hadn’t brought up any problem and she hadn’t said what exactly it was.

“Do you need help?” Jeffery asked and she shook her head.

She snapped her fingers. “The attic.” As if in response a small cry began down the hall. Hana sighed. “Emilia…”

Jeffery crammed the mask back into his pocket and followed Hana out of the room and down the hall to a crying infant.

“You really don’t have to go through all of this, you know,” Jeffery said as Hana picked up her daughter and tried to calm her.

“Yes,” Hana said, “I do.” She glanced at the scarab that hung around Jeffery’s neck and nodded at it. “Do you like living with that?”

He didn’t answer, which was answer enough.

Emilia started to calm, her crying becoming fussing as she squirmed in her mother’s arms. “Here,” Hana said, holding the child out to Jeffery. “I need to check upstairs.”

“Oh, jeez,” Jeffery hesitated then awkwardly took Emilia. “I haven’t held a kid in forever…”

“Just relax. And don’t worry. They bounce.”

“Let’s not test that.”

“No, let’s not.”

Hana stepped past Jeffery and into the hallway, pulling on a cord and bringing steps down to the attic.

Jeffery began a staring contest with the infant in his arms.

“Hi, Emilia.” She, of course, didn’t respond, just stared at him, fascinated by this awkward stranger. He stuck his tongue out at her and rolled it. Her eyes widened and he sucked his tongue back in. He repeated the process. She stuck her tongue out at him. “Eureka! First contact!”

“What’s that?” Hana called from the attic.

“I’m teaching your daughter how to stick her tongue out at ugly boys.”

“Teach her to throw a punch,” Hana said as she started back down the steps with a box in her hands. “It’ll do her more good.”

“Aim for the soft spots,” Jeffery told Emilia who just stuck her tongue out at him.

“Come downstairs.”

Jeffery followed her, making faces at Emilia along the way. She smiled and laughed.

“Sounds like she likes you,” Hana said as they walked into the living room. Hana set the box on the coffee table and turned to take Emilia.

“It’s because I speak on her level.”

Hana took Emilia and laid her in a playpen, shifting a fascinating mobile over her and then sitting on the couch. She pat the spot next to her and Jeffery sat down.

Hana picked up the box and turned to show it to Jeffery.

“What is it?”

“It’s a box.” They shared a smirk. “I don’t know the wood, forgot the name, but it’s over five hundred years old.”

“Family heirloom?”

“No, got the thing for three pounds in a second hand shop. Owner didn’t know what they had.”

“How did you know?”

“It spoke to me.”

“It can tell you how old it is but not what it’s made of?”

“It’s five hundred years old, it’s allowed to forget some things.”

“So what does it do?”

“It can hold that for you,” she said, pointing to the scarab that hung from his neck. He resisted clutching it, hiding it.

“Typically you need to use the scarab’s material to bind them,” she said as she opened the box.

“Really?”

“You didn’t know that?” he shook his head. “Like, gold for Yehovah Vehayah or for Malek Taus a crystal box would hold him, just like the scarab does.”

“Could the material kill them? Like, a crystal sword?”

“No, only they can truly harm one another.”

“But they can be bound…”

“Yes. Only the scarab material. Or,” she held up the box. “See the detail on the inside? The woodwork? It’s a binding inscription.”

He took the box and studied it.

“What language is that?”

“Whatever language it is that God speaks.”

“Seriously?” she nodded. “What does binding them do?”

“Keep them. Trapped, hidden, away, safe, whatever. Or, for your sake, it shuts them up.”

“How?”

She took the box and mimicked: “You put the scarab in the box.” She closed the box. “You close the box. Tah dah.”

“And that locks them away?”

“As long as it’s closed they stay in the box.” She handed the box back to him. “And out of your head.”

“Does it have a lock?”

“Not in a traditional sense.”

“An untraditional lock?”

Hana leaned toward Jeffery and lowered her lips toward the box, whispering to it, “emetgis.” She straightened up and nodded to the box. “Try to open it, strong man.”

Jeffery tried but to no avail. “So you whisper sweet nothings to it and that’s it?”

“Not just any sweet nothings.”

“What about careless whispers? Does this have to do with Wham?”

Hana cocked her head and stared at him for a moment. “Are you finished?”

“Now I have that song stuck in my head.”

Hana leaned forward again, whispered “odo” to the box, and sat back up. Jeffery opened it.

“Odo. Wasn’t that the dude from Deep Space Nine?”

“It means ‘open’,” Hana said. “To seal it, whisper ‘emetgis’.”

“Emetgis…”

“Emetgis, soft -g.”

“Funny that, Soft G was my rap name.”

“You’re an odd man, Jeffery.”

“Says the lady who can talk to five hundred year old boxes.” They shared a smirk before Jeffery turned his attention back to the box, opening it, studying it.

Jeffery reached into his pocket and emerged with a crystal scarab. A voice raged in his head but it wasn’t this one, this angel that screamed. He looked down to his chest, where the gold scarab was tucked behind his shirt.

“You can put them both in there, you know,” Hana said.

“How many scarabs you think this thing can hold?”

“Five or six, if they’re all about the same size. More if you come across smaller ones.”

“They come in different sizes?”

“They aren’t all exactly the same.”

Jeffery smirked. “In more ways than one.”

He set the crystal scarab in the box and closed the lid.

“You don’t want to put them both in there?”

Jeffery tugged at the chain around his neck and fished the scarab over his collar and into his hand. Hana stiffened at its appearance.

“You OK?” Jeffery asked, wrapping his fingers around the scarab as if to hide it from her sight for her sake.

“Yes,” she said quickly, nodding, “it’s just… I can hear her.”

“You can?”

Hana swallowed hard and nodded.

“Did you hear that last bit?” Hana nodded again. “I’m sorry, she’s usually much more charming.” Jeffery gave her a smirk but Hana didn’t return it.

Hana held out a hand. “May I?” Jeffery hesitated. “She can’t possess me if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“That’s exactly what I’m worried about.”

“It’s OK,” Hana said, lowering her hand.

“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude about it, but…”

“I understand, Jeffery. Believe me, I really do.”

“Is she right? You know of her?”

“We have a history, yes,” Hana said, looking at the gold scarab. “Though that’s a story for another time.”

“But not right now?”

“To be continued.”

      “Huh.” They shared a smirk and Jeffery tucked the scarab back under his shirt. He brought the box up to his lips and whispered, “emetgis.”

“Come on, Soft G…”

“Was I too careless with my whispering?” Hana gave him a look that she wasn’t amused but her smile betrayed her. Jeffery whispered it again, softening the -g, then tried to open the box with no luck.

“Better,” Hana said.

“Never gonna dance again…”

“Oh, god, no…”

“Guilty feet I’ve got no rhythm…”

“Is that supposed to be singing?”

“Though it’s easy to pretend…”

Emelia squealed from where she lay in her playpen and Jeffery turned to look in on her.

“I know you’re not a fooooollll…”

She stuck her tongue out at him.

 

 

Jason S. Kenney writes stories that sometimes amuse and entertain. He is based in Richmond, Virginia with his wife, son, dog and cat. His wallet is brown.

 

 

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ALSO AVAILABLE

PSYCHOBILLY

 

 

 

 

 

Loco rides with loco,” Virgil chided. “You could have hung back in Tombstone, Jim. Or ridden onto Tucson with Stillwell and Ike.”

Filled to the brim with tales both wild and weird, PSYCHOBILLY is a homage to the genre tropes of the Western as depicted on television and in print. Collecting together stories of wandering national deities, corrupt mansions, unspeakable underground horrors, pacts with the Devil himself, this volume promises celebrates the stoic steadfastness of lawmen and outlaws in the face of the arcane and the obscene.

Featuring the work of Greg Rosa (Dreamer’s Syndrome: New World Navigation), Adrian J. Watts (Guardian Force Roboman), Matthew Cavazos (Ars Magna: Talisman), Tommy Hancock (YesterYear), Jason S. Kenney (Bush43 Vol. 1: Oh, the Lameity) and PSYCHOPOMP stalwarts, C.S. Roberts and John Brown this collection is the latest in a series of speculative works from Mysteria Press recommended for fans of Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, and Grant Morrison.

Visit artificecomics.com for more information.

 

 

 


Love Amongst Strangers: Careless Whispers

In memory of George Michael, Artifice Comics presents Careless Whispers, a Love Amongst Strangers by Jason S. Kenney named after the WHAM! singer's seminal hit, Careless Whisper. Searching for a way to control the scarab - magical talismans housing the spirits of angelic avengers - Jeffery Carter ventures to Golders Green in North West London in search of Hana Abramczyk and her magical heritage. Recommended for fans of Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and John Constantine: Hellblazer!

  • Author: Artifice Comics
  • Published: 2016-12-26 17:35:08
  • Words: 2037
Love Amongst Strangers: Careless Whispers Love Amongst Strangers: Careless Whispers