They are consistent, if nothing else. You charm a stick into looking like a human and you can guarantee those Christians will plant it in the ground way before the glamour wears off.
It is day 67 since I took over Delaware and there are two crows sitting in the tree next to me.
It was easier than you might think, taking over the state, since there’s mostly not anyone in Delaware, actually, other than the 32,000 or so vehicles that tear through it on I-95 every day. So no one really noticed that I’d taken over until day 4. By then, at the risk of sounding like very villain that’s ever lived, it was too late.
I have made my court in the front yard of an old brick municipal building of some kind. I pretend like my court is really inside the building, because I think it gives me more panache, but I never actually go in, because the thing reeks of iron and sulphur and gasoline to me. So I stand out in the front yard and negotiate with humans, moving impatiently from foot to foot as if I’m dying to get out of the sun and into the air conditioning, but really, as soon as they’re gone, I just walk around back and crouch beneath a Rose of Sharon tree and play around with the colors of my skin until I’m needed again.
Glamour. That’s my super power. My kin, poor repressed bastards, were clever enough with glamour, I guess, in a whooo-this-was-cool-in-the-5th-century kind of way. They charmed themselves to look like humans. They charmed useful things to look useless and useless things to look useful. They charmed wood to look babies and hot wives and swapped the bits of dead tree for the real thing. They were, I think, like really smart children who went to crap schools. You know, at first, you were like “oh wow, they are smart. Scary smart!” and then they just grew up to be normal, boring adults. Because They had all these abilities that They never really cultivated and so the abilities didn’t ever amount to anything.
You might think that glamour isn’t really that big of a deal. Well, my human child, let me tell you, it’s not the size, it’s how you use it. My kin, They kept using the glamour to disguise wood as live people. The thing about humans, though, is that they sort of get offended when their live siblings and mums and love slaves and what not turn into chunks of wood after a few days. It sort of clues them in, as we like to say in the 21st century.
But glamouring chunks of Delaware pine to look like dead bodies? Oh, yeah, send a couple of those out of a hostage situation and soon you’ve got the state to yourself.
Like I said, I love me some Christians.
After awhile, they began to send negotiators to me. They being the White House or the FBI or something paid for by you. You being the citizens of the United States. Some twitching Delaware resident would approach me and say that a negotiator was here to see if I needed anything. And I would go all theatrical and say “I’ll show you what I need!” and I’d go around the back of the municipal building and break a branch off the Rose of Sharon branch and charm it to look like some mutilated corpse. And I’d scream a bit to make it sound good. After I heard the messenger piss themselves, I’d come back around front and thrust the corpse into the shaking Delawarian’s arms and say “tell them to stay the hell away from my state!”
And after they’d gone, I’d laugh my butt off and wonder what I ought to do with Delaware now that I had it. I wish I’d taken over Boston instead — better musicians — but Delaware had seemed like an easy place to start.
So. Day 70. Two crows in the Rose of Sharon. The humans who bring me fruit and beans call me Scarboro, which is not my name, but it’s close. If any of them knew my real name, they could put a stop to all my admittedly self-centered machinations, but there’s only one human in the world that ever knew it. So I think I’m pretty safe to continue my benevolent rule of terror.
Of course, the rest of the country didn’t really see me as benevolent. After awhile, they tried sending swat teams with their negotiators, but hey, throw in a few blocks of wood charmed to look like maimed little girls (little girls really did work the best, sexist woman-savers all of them) and maybe call in a death portent or two to freak out the swat dudes, and I had all the ingredients for a quality stalemate.
I guess eventually they’ll do a tally of the bodies and figure out that then number of bodies I’ve sent out has exceeding the total population of Delaware, but until then, I guess this is how it stands. I’m in Delaware, and it’s mine, and I am profoundly bored by what the fine state has to offer. Some days, I really wish I hadn’t killed all my brothers back in the 11th century.
Day 82 and there are three crows sitting in the Rose of Sharon tree, which is a change. I see someone approaching down the long cracked asphalt drive, and she (even from her, I can smell that it’s a woman) is wearing a blue shirt that says negotiator on it in yellow letters. I can’t see the letters from where I am, but I have seen the shirt enough times now to recognize the damn thing.
But then I see her face and I swear softly to about fourteen different gods (none of which I believe in, for the record) and smile at the same time because finally things have gotten interesting. They (they being the people of the United States) have finally gotten wise and sent someone equipped for the job.
Because the woman is Elaine Clancy and she knows my name.
"Welcome to Delaware!" I say as soon as she gets within earshot.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she asks me. She’s not as young as she was, but she is still pretty foxy.
I grin widely. “Playing.”
Stopping in front of me, she crosses her arms across her chest and says, “What are you even doing with the state of Delaware, anyway? If you were going to do something as stupid as this, I would’ve figured you’d take over some pub in Boston.”
Ahh, the woman knows more than my name. “I’ll admit it hasn’t been as fun filled as I expected,” I say. “I think I would’ve liked it better a few hundred years ago.”
“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t just say your name and put a stop to all this right now?”
“One?” I blow some rose petals out of thin air in her direction. “I’ll give you three, for old time’s sake. What do you say?”
“Never yes,” she reminds me.
“I know it. But let’s play the game anyway.” When she doesn’t stop me, I say, “How about a long life dancing on the faerie hills? That’s always popular.”
Elaine purses her lips and looks bored. “I don’t have the knees for dancing.”
I pretend to consider my next option before saying, “Then perhaps a tongue that will never lie? Perennial favorite, that one.”
“Be serious,” Elaine says. “I already have that one.”
I glance at the Rose of Sharon tree; three crows look back at me. “How about you be my queen, then?”
Elaine actually laughs. It occurs to me that I haven’t heard anyone but me laugh in eighty-two days. That’s fewer laughs than a Will Ferrell movie.
“Be your queen,” she echoes. “I don’t think you’ll love me any better than you did last time.”
“It’s been a long time,” I say. “I’ve changed. What do you say? Queen?”
“Queen of Delaware.”
I smile charmingly. “And I’ll throw in the dancing for free. If you call the number on the bottom of the screen within the next fifteen minutes.”
She raises an eyebrow as one of the crows flaps away. “You have changed.”
“Sign of the times,” I say. “Change or die and all that rubbish.”
Another crow flaps away, leaving one crow sitting staring at us both. One crow for sorrow, and I know what she’s going to say before she says it, because she was right — she does only speak the truth. “That’s pretty sad,” she says. “But you’re pretty much human now. Maybe just a bit of glamour thrown in, but . . . “
The crow caws, just once.
“This is for your own good,” she says, and she whispers my name to me. “Now come with me and let’s get you out of here.”
I let her lead me away, because I can’t do much anything else. I hear the residents of Delaware clapping as she does, and I feel edifyingly criminal, like I’ve really accomplished something.
I’m definitely trying for Boston next time.
Author’s Note: Yes, I know it’s surreal. It’s been that kind of week.
image courtesy jimmywayne22