Title: Empty Threat
Author: Danny Bell
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Book one of The Black Pages
Elana Black has the power to make herself fictional. But when she decides
to start saving all the people in books and TV shows who die just for the sake
of advancing the plot, she quickly learns that she’s not the only one with her
All Elana wants to do is save people. But these others don’t want the
stories to change, and they’ll do everything they can to stop her.
If you had the power to change fate… to create a happy ending where
there wasn’t one before… would you do it if it meant risking your own?
My name is Danny Bell. I want to tell stories and avoid writing author profiles. I
read–when I should be interacting with people, I named my cat after a cat I liked in a book, I’m pretty sure I saw a ghost one time–though I’ll never admit it publicly, I’m too tall for the earth, and I’ve never eaten a vegetable. I lied about the vegetable part. Wait… is someone going to read this?
“The stairs, come on!” Olivia hissed back, grabbing my arm. We ran as silently as possible. When we got to the stairs, she peaked her head inside, gave a glance up and down, then motioned for me to follow. We made our way up a full floor before we heard movement above us. With no other choice, we ducked into the sixth floor, opening and closing the door as quietly as we could. No one was waiting for us, fortunately. Without waiting an extra second, Olivia dragged me into a small examination room.
“All right. Okay. New floor. That’s something. We just need to figure out what we do now.” Olivia said pensively; I wasn’t sure if she was talking to herself or me.
“Can we stop for a moment?” I demanded. “Where is all of this coming from?”
“Well, I don’t want to die, and one of us had to do something!” she snapped back with a mirthless laugh.
“I was going to figure something out!” I began to protest. I stopped, seeing how Olivia’s expression changed.
“Are you serious? Have you seen yourself?” she asked. “You’re sweating. You’re literally shaking. I had to physically drag you away from danger. Look!”
She spun me around towards the direction of a mirror. I couldn’t believe it; I was a portrait of panic. My left hand was actually shaking and wouldn’t stop. “I’m trying to keep us alive! I am not at all equipped to survive this, but we both can’t be petrified. I’m scared too, but whatever. Unless you’re either going to get it together, or get a new superpower, you just have to trust me.”
I took a few breaths. I couldn’t let us die here, so yeah, it was time to make with my best superheroine impression.
“Right. You’re right. I’m better,” I said with a couple of quick hops to release some of the tension. “You’re right. We got this.”
“That’s fantastic because I have no idea what to do next,” Olivia replied with a sigh.
“You know, my superiors seem to think you deserve a warning,” Bres interrupted over the PA system. “I don’t. I don’t think there’s a damn thing any of us can say to get you to stop really, so why bother? You insist on leaving a bloody mess everywhere you go. Hell, you’ve already figured out the Cruz girl, so you’re not likely to stop, are you?”
“What he’s talking about?” Olivia asked.
“No clue,” I answered. “He’s probably just trying to get under our skin, right?”
“I have a plan, but it’s desperate and stupid.” And largely based on television because I’ve never really been in this situation before.
“I’ll take it,” Olivia replied.
“This is pure speculation, but I think the higher up we go, the more spread out they are. There are multiple ways up to the higher floors, and they’re probably sending people up, but they’re going to be gathered on the ground since that’s the only feasible way out. We’re not getting out the front, but if we can get to the roof we might just be able to, I don’t know, flag someone down or something. Or just lock everyone inside and wait until they leave or maybe they’ll just, I don’t know, burn down the hospital themselves.”
“The stairs are still blocked, how do we make it there in the first place?” Olivia asked.
“This is the dumb part,” I continued. “We send the elevator down to the first floor. There’s like, a thirteen percent chance that they bite. Before you ask how I came up with that number, don’t. This probably isn’t going to work, and I’m going to get us killed.”
“I’m not scared at all,” Olivia said, about as sarcastically as I’ve ever heard her.
I shrugged. “Let’s do it.”
As we left the room, Bres spoke again, and it took everything within me not to yell at him to shut the hell up.
“You know, when people talk about forces bigger than them, they often speak of things outside of their control like shadowy government agents or earthquakes, or God, or any number of other stupid things they could have just planned for.”
I hit the button on the elevator. I could hear the movement in the staircase. It might have been working.
“And while you indeed have been messing with forces much bigger than yourself, something I’d love to make you pay for; I want you to be assured that those are not the forces you need to be worried about.”
We stood still, quietly, until the footsteps faded away. I threw open the door and we dashed up the last flight of stairs to the small ladder leading to the roof. The hatch was even unlocked, our luck was actually picking up.
“The only force you should worry about, the one who decides if you live or not, is me. And Elana, I am so much bigger than you.”
As I pushed the hatch open, a gale force wind sent me hard to the ground, taking Olivia with me and, ironically, knocking the wind out of both of us. I found it oddly funny for half a moment, but as I looked up, the wild-haired silhouette framed by the sunlight pouring in through the hatch removed any humor.
“The smaller they are, the harder they fall, eh?” Bres gloated into a wireless microphone, his voice still echoing from the PA. He floated down to the ground somehow, as if he had always been standing in mid-air, but there was no time to be shocked by this. “Good enough, all. Go home; I’ll handle the rest.”
Olivia was still down, but I tried to get to my feet, my legs shaky; maybe from the shock, maybe from the fall, I don’t know. The instant I was upright, Bres sharply pointed a finger in my direction. Immediately, something I couldn’t see slammed into my stomach, harder than I could ever remember being hit. I didn’t even make a noise as I doubled over; one just wouldn’t come out of me.
“You’ve got to learn, Ms. Black, that your actions have consequences. The world will always demand balance. That’s the job it’s given me.”
As he said that, a sickly red glow began crawling up his fingers, growing brighter, extending further from his skin with each subtle flick of his hand. A sick grin spread over his face as he gestured at Olivia, releasing a fireball towards her.
Even before the flame left his hand, I was on my feet again. I’ll never know where I found the energy to move as fast as I did, or remember what I screamed as I moved, but I somehow threw myself between the fire and Olivia, squeezing my eyes shut in the process. Through my closed eyelids, I saw a bright flash of blue and red competing with each other, followed by brilliant black and then… nothing? No burning, for a moment not even any sound.
I opened my eyes and blinked rapidly as they adjusted to the light again. In front of me stood a bright shimmering half sphere crackling with sparks, like a curved wall of electricity. Around us, the stairwell had been scorched. Bres for his part looked amused. I remembered to breathe, and then the half sphere evaporated.
“Nice,” Bres said flatly. Then, with a casual wave of his hand, he excitedly said, “Let’s see you do it again!”