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Fantasy Coming of Age Gay

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

TW: Swearing, guns and black mold.

Esmerelda banged a sack of skulls down on the bar. The barman looked at her with disgust.

            “You know we don’t conduct business here Es, take them through the back.” He pushed open the door beside him printed with the words STAFF ONLY. The door creaked on brass hinges. Behind it was a room of kegs and bottles. Behind that, another door.

            Hammering the reinforced door with her steel toe capped army surplus boot, she waited. “Who is it?” The voice from the slot was low pitched, a boy fresh from his balls dropping and working on some peach fuzz facial hair.

            “Its mom, Darren. Open the door.”

            “How do I know it’s you?” Asked her son.

            “Same as always. Do you never pay attention? Stab me with the silver needle and watch the monitor.” She pushed her hand through the slot and winced. Out came her palm with a fresh puncture wound.

            A bolt slid back. A lock clicked. Gears turned. A handle creaked. Darren strained to open the mighty door.

            “Those skinny arms of yours need to come into muscle. Merl not getting you exercise? He used to work me until I was sweat on a skeleton.” The door opened slowly, Darren struggling with the weight. She pushed with her free hand, outdoing the efforts of the boy.

            “We do boxing and firearms practice every morning but he’s always busy on the phone in the afternoon.” Darren pulled up his shorts and cracked his neck. The Linkin Park T-shirt emblazoned with Chester Bennington hung off him like a wire hanger.

            “You could beef up one arm watching porn?” She smiled, giving him a gleam from her gold tooth.

            “He only gets straight porn on the TV here.” Darren huffed and picked up a glass bottle of coke from the table by the door. Without the soda bottle, the shotgun on the cup marked table looked lonely. Skinny fingers locked and bolted the door behind her.

            “2022 and there’s no gay porn on cable? What is the world coming to?” She teased him, ruffling his buzz cut hair. “Don’t worry, I’ll get you a cheap laptop and some headphones, you can download stuff when we go out.”

            With the luminescence of the New York Christmas tree, he hugged her. “Thanks mom. You’re the best.”

            “I always thought you were going to grow into that shirt, maybe not.” They walked to the stairs and down concrete steps.

            “What did you get?” He thumbed an arrow at her sack as he led the way.

            “A few werewolves, enough to get myself more ammunition and my gun fixed.”

            Her boy stopped dead on the stairs, reaching into her black denim jacket. Out came the gun from her holster as if easily charmed telekinesis had held it in place.

            “How did you do that?” She asked.

            His grin was the same mischievous one he’d given her as a baby, running around the place naked instead of putting on his diaper. “Ace was back for a few days, he showed me how he picks pockets in Vegas.” The boy aimed as he walked, he knew the stairs blind. “Doesn’t seem too bad, what’s wrong with it?” Light from above made him look completely bald.

            “Pulls a little to the left when I fire, can’t fix it. Merl will know what to do.”

            Darren put his palm down on an iPad. The door clicked and opened. “He just had that installed. You’ll need to scan your palm for it.”

            The mine that the monster hunters had made their home was a paradise for fans of skulls. Big game hunters could only dream of a collection like Merl’s. He hadn’t killed them all, but it was his collection. He was the ghillie, the boss.

            “Ah, black mold, farts, and whiskey. I’ve missed this place.”

            “There’s whiskey?” Darren joked. “Merl must be hiding it.”

            Regulars in the bunker came to welcome Esmerelda back. Some nodded. Some hugged, one grabbed her ass and got an elbow to the nose.

            “Don’t do that again,” said Darren. “I don’t want to have to defend my mom’s honour.”

            The man with the burst nose and the dragon tattoos on his naked arms backed away with his hands raised. The bar beneath the bar had as much drink as the one upstairs but for prices no civilian could pay. Teeth, skulls, and ash were the currency.

            “What can I get you Esme?” Asked Juliet, the bartender. She also sold guns.

            “Cash this up for me please Jules.” She slammed the sack of skulls down on the counter. “And get womb spawned reprobate another of whatever non-alcoholic beverage he wants.”

            “Wouldn’t want the beer anyway, it tastes like piss.” Darren guzzled down his black syrupy caffeine and slammed the bottle down as if he was chugging beer.

            “It is piss, handsome, but these losers drink it anyway,” she said. Kissing his forehead, she took her gun back from him. “Can you get Merl to look at my gun, it’s not firing straight.”

            “Every bad builder blames their equipment,” said Juliet. She had blue hair and the tattoos of the girl from Arcane: League of Legends. Esmerelda could never remember the name, that was more Darren’s thing. Unlike the twiglet character, Juliet was curvaceous with brown eyes.

            “Nothing wrong with me, ask the dick with the broken nose.”

            “Fuck you Esme, said the man bleeding into a handkerchief.”

            “Nope. Keep dreaming cowboy. I’ll take a lemonade and vodka Jules.” Behind the bar the drink was the easy stuff to get at in illuminated fridges. Ammunition was locked away in cages above it, filling the wall.

            “You brought five skulls,” said the barmaid. She poured lemonade from a tap into a glass and then switched to vodka. Darren was already sipping another coke. “That can get you a sack full of pistol rounds, unless you’re after something bigger?” The white bubbling bliss slid across the bar.

            Cooling Esmerelda’s hands, it was magic. Her eyes were drawn to the high calibre guns on display, assault rifles and huge pistols. “Nah, unless you’ve got silencers to go with them it’s not worth it. Low cal means accurate. You don’t need power if you hit the mark.”

            “That’s what she said,” Darren smirked.

            “You been watching The Office again?” She asked as if she was angry. “Without me?”

            “You were gone for a week,” he shrugged.

            “Five days.”

            “A working week.” He pulled out his phone. She could see he was sexting again, he liked to send long, sordid stories to boys all over the state.

            “Anyone cute?” She asked.

            “Would I message if they weren’t?”

            “What do you tell them I do?” She asked and put her favourite gun down on the bar. Pulling the other from her ankle holster she slid it to Juliet, who pushed them though a slot in the wall, to Merl’s room.

            “I don’t mention you, obviously.” Darren didn’t look up from his composition. It looked long enough to have chapters.

            “If they show up with fangs, that’s when you mention me.” She patted his back and left him to his messages.

            Corridors snaked beneath the world. Concrete held back stone from collapsing in on her. Sliding her key into the lock for her room, she heard the click and threw herself down on the bed. “Goodnight boys,” she said to her poster of Sam and Dean from Supernatural. They’d inspired her to go into that line of work in the first place. She was thankful that her world wasn’t as grim as theirs, climate change notwithstanding.

August 16, 2022 13:22

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44 comments

01:23 Jul 01, 2023

I love the fantasy elements! I'm working on writing more pieces with fantasy features and this story is my little work awakening.

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Graham Kinross
01:33 Jul 01, 2023

Thanks, Dylan. There’s more of this is you like it. Thanks for reading.

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12:38 Jul 03, 2023

I just checked out your account and... wow im impressed. What series is this story from? I'd love to read more.

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Graham Kinross
22:15 Jul 03, 2023

The first story in the series is this one, thanks for reading. https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/fdu4oq/

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14:37 Jul 06, 2023

i just read the whole series and it was fantastic, you have to let me know when there's more!!!

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Graham Kinross
22:23 Jul 06, 2023

I will, and thank you.

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Annalisa D.
19:16 Feb 02, 2023

It is cool to read there is a whole group of the monster hunters and I like the underground area you've created for them. You established some nice world building with this one. "Stab me with the silver needle and watch the monitor" - I apologize if I'm just not understanding a reference, but I was wondering what this would be testing for. If it's possible to add in a little detail that would be cool. If it's something that we'll figure out over time or should know, I can appreciate that. I wasn't sure if it's checking her identity or chec...

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Graham Kinross
22:47 Feb 02, 2023

Thanks Annalisa. Him taking the gun could be clearer. I think the Christmas tree reference was because I had just watched Hawkeye on Disney. It was meant as a comparison, not that they were there. The silver was a test. It was believed that pure elements like gold and silver would show up ‘impure’ monsters, mostly because of the weird religious belief that evil is impurity and can’t survive pure things like the pure good of the cross and pure elements. I’ve soaked that up from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural and Dracula, blah blah, ...

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Annalisa D.
17:09 Feb 07, 2023

Oh I see. Did you like Hawkeye? That makes sense.

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Graham Kinross
22:00 Feb 07, 2023

I liked it. It being a Christmas thing seemed like it would be weird rewatching it at the rest of the year but it was funny. Humour is the backbone of the Marvel films and shows, they wouldn’t work if they were serious.

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Annalisa D.
16:22 Feb 13, 2023

I agree. I think the ones that are more serious confirm that. I think Hawkeye was one of the better shows they have. I appreciated how fun it was.

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Samuel Yates
11:55 Aug 22, 2022

Great story, loved the 'Wild west' atmosphere, and the monster hunter concept. Well written!

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Graham Kinross
12:39 Aug 22, 2022

Thank you. I'm expanding it into a series.

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Mavis Webster
21:30 Aug 21, 2022

You paint a really interesting setting here, with characters to match! I enjoyed reading this. It was both grim/intense but funny and sweet. Honestly, I wish there was more! Great job. Keep writing! :)

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Graham Kinross
02:27 Sep 22, 2023

There is more of it now, a short series. I’m going to add links in the comments from one story to the next. Thanks for reading and commenting Mavis. Sorry for the late response.

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Tommy Goround
09:35 Aug 19, 2022

clapping.

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Graham Kinross
02:27 Sep 22, 2023

Thanks Tommy, sorry I didn’t respond earlier.

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06:25 Aug 19, 2022

Wild west bar + fantasy + lgbt, an interesting setting. The writing reminds me a lot of the first few chapters of a best-selling fantasy book I read last year. You have nice descriptive prose, I need to learn how to write more like that. This line made me laugh, "Darren didn’t look up from his composition. It looked long enough to have chapters." haha I've seen people just like that. It seems the world has short text people and looong text people.

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Tommy Goround
09:34 Aug 19, 2022

I'm thinking Graham might have spent time with the poets. Scott, let's put you in an online poetry room for 2 years with mostly people going through puberty. It will... Give you new expressions. (Daniel went there this week with his story)

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Tommy Goround
09:36 Aug 19, 2022

https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/w1ev6c/#comment-652945

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Graham Kinross
07:07 Aug 19, 2022

What was the book? Are you a short text or a long text person?

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07:26 Aug 19, 2022

I'm usually a short text message, "what time is good for you today?" etc most of the people I know will either text me a half a sentence, or send a novel. probably the later are better writers. ah found it.. House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas. just checked it out from the library for two weeks while I was travelling, opening was also very wild west + hunting/survival in a fantasy setting..

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Graham Kinross
08:10 Aug 19, 2022

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse is like that, I read it a while ago and I think it was post apocalyptic about Native American people and their gods. I read them both and they were really good. What are you reading at the moment?

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08:39 Aug 19, 2022

Been trying to refire my fiction reading and picked up 'a gentleman in moscow' which is pretty good and sort of crosses the line between fiction and non-fiction. Somehow spent the last ten years reading Malcolm Gladwell sort of books but the style of writing is very different from what I'm trying to learn here.

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Graham Kinross
09:09 Aug 19, 2022

What is Malcolm Gladwell’s style? I’ve never read his books.

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Philip Ebuluofor
15:49 Aug 17, 2022

Dialogue first class as usual Graham. It captured interest.

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Graham Kinross
21:10 Aug 17, 2022

Thank you Philip.

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Philip Ebuluofor
12:25 Aug 18, 2022

Glad to be of help.

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Kendra Lindholm
12:43 Aug 17, 2022

Great worldbuilding! I love the nod to Supernatural at the end. Top-tier show! lol

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Graham Kinross
13:00 Aug 17, 2022

It’s an awesome show, always fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I like that the apocalypse happened and they just rolled with it. It almost started with the endgame from Buffy. I hope they get back to it eventually. They all seemed to love making the show. If I can’t have a continuation of Buffy the Vampirie Slayer then I’ll take another few seasons of Supernatural.

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Graham Kinross
13:02 Aug 17, 2022

This was the first story about Esmerelda if you’re interested. https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/fdu4oq/

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Aoi Yamato
01:09 Sep 22, 2023

there are no links for this series. you should make links.

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Graham Kinross
02:26 Sep 22, 2023

I will. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/shsdvu/ This is the next one.

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Aoi Yamato
00:48 Sep 26, 2023

Welcome. I will read more.

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Aoi Yamato
03:47 Sep 20, 2023

she is a cool mom

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Graham Kinross
11:12 Sep 21, 2023

Yeah, partly inspired by Jody from Supernatural.

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Aoi Yamato
01:04 Sep 22, 2023

? What is this?

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Graham Kinross
02:25 Sep 22, 2023

Supernatural is a modern day monster hunting TV show that’s gone on for a long time but somehow maintained quality. I’m a big fan.

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Aoi Yamato
00:47 Sep 26, 2023

i will try to see.

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Graham Kinross
06:01 Sep 26, 2023

You should. It’s awesome.

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Graham Kinross
02:42 Sep 22, 2023

Thanks for reading Down in the Dark, Where the Hunters Lark. If you want to know what happens next then you can use the link below. https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/shsdvu/

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