Maelstrom Extra: A Little Peace and Quiet

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 reviews (Comments): 8
The thumping bass intruded on Ricky’s thoughts as he huddled over the laptop, peering into the screen. He willed himself to concentrate. There was something odd about the indemnity clause; something critical he needed to understand.

The pounding died away, but only for a moment before returning with a force that sent tremors through the floor and rattled the pictures on the wall.

He got to his feet and roused Kalila out of her lamp. When she was standing before him, sleepy and still wispy with smoke, he explained the problem.

She yawned. “I don’t see why it’s an issue. You spend nearly every night listening to louder noise than that. And you like it, too.”

“Not when I’m trying to get some work done,” he said. “I need to think, and it seems like no matter how many times I ask that guy to quiet down over there, he ignores me.”

“So tell the landlord.”

“I tried. You can hear for yourself how effective that was.” By now the glass was trembling in the window frames and a faint fracture line Ricky didn’t remember seeing before had appeared in the molding near the ceiling.

Kalila sighed. “Okay. So what exactly do you want me to do? I suppose I could incinerate him.”

“Nothing too illegal, please.”

“Power outage?”

“Can you do it without cutting off mine, too?”

“Probably not. The wiring in this place is very substandard. You’re lucky there hasn’t been a fire yet.”

“Thanks for the reassurance.”

“You’re welcome.” She paced the floor, pondering. “So how about I vanish his stereo? Or maybe just his speakers?”

“That would do it,” Ricky admitted, “But don’t you think that would be a little obvious?”

Kalila looked at him in exasperation. “Why did you ask my help if you aren’t going to like any of my ideas? You should learn not to be so picky.”


She silenced him and gestured toward a small object on the desk that hadn’t been there before. “That should solve your problem. Now go away and quit being a pest.”

While Kalila poured herself back into her lamp, Ricky walked over to the desk and examined the item she had conjured. It was a library card. He pocketed it with a sigh and began shutting down his laptop. Like most of her solutions, this wasn’t quite what he wanted, but for now, it would do.

Maelstrom Extra: A More Graceful Decay

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 reviews (Comments): 4
Kalila put her hands on her hips and glared. “What kind of wretched place have you booked us into this time?”

“It looked better on the website,” Ricky admitted. The 1872 mansion, now turned nightclub, exuded an air of graceful decay, from its weathered bricks to its rotting gingerbread trim. “It’s supposedly the most popular live music venue in town.”

“And not much of a town, either,” Kalila sniffed. She walked up the steps and put her face to a window, trying to peer inside. “I bet the acoustics suck.”

Ricky pulled her away, lest she set off a burglar alarm by mistake. “Well, we’re here, you’re booked, and if you hate it, we don’t ever have to come back.”

“I’ll say.” She tipped back her head and gazed up into the rafters. “There’s probably bats here. I’m sure Vic will like that.” As if on cue, a riot of small brown bodies and flapping leather wings burst from under the eaves and tittered into the sky in a confused and milling mass.

Ricky stared after them. “Bats don’t fly in daytime. Kalila…?”

She tossed her russet hair over her shoulder and laughed. “It’s okay, Ricky. We’ll find ways to make this fun.”

“I don’t know if I want you making it fun, other than by putting on a good show.”

Kalila sat down on the steps, conjured a blue flame in the palm of her hand, then abruptly snuffed it out. “You know, one of the problems with you is that you’re all business.”

“That’s what you hired me for.”

“But not so you could be boring all the time.” A rubber ball appeared in her hands and she tossed it to him. “I saw a park on the way over. We don’t have to set up for another two hours, so let’s—”

“No.” Ricky caught the ball and held it gingerly, not sure what to make of it. “I have calls to return, bookings to finalize, and we need to round up your disreputable fellow band members. I don’t have time for games.”

Kalila stood up with an attitude of weary patience. “Fine.” She waved a hand and the ball became a bird that struggled from Ricky’s grasp and soared into the air. “But just remember something, human. One day you’ll be old and your life will be reduced to eating warm Jello, watching TV reruns, and complaining about your arthritis. You’ll regret not enjoying these moments.”

Ricky watched the conjured bird disappear into the daytime sky, untrammeled by the narrow asphalted pathways of human life on earth. With a sigh, he reached for Kalila’s hand. “You’re probably right.”

Maelstrom Extra: Uploaded

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 reviews (Comments): 3
“What the—” Ricky punched a few keys and cursed.

Kalila came and peered over his shoulder. “What seems to be the trouble, human?”

Ricky rebooted the computer, sat back in his chair and folded his arms. “I swear this video is jinxed.” The login screen came up and he typed in his password. “Every time I try to upload it to your website, the computer locks.”

“Oh.” She pursed her lips in bored impatience while startup windows flashed across the screen. “Skip it. It’s not that important.”

“Are you kidding?” He spun his chair around and looked at her. “This is your best quality video yet. You know how hard it is to capture images of you guys.”

“Not my fault the lead singer is a vampire.”

Ricky turned back around and opened the web browser. “Of course it’s your fault. You hired him.”

“Well, what I mean is…what are you doing?”

“Trying again.”


“I’m just stupid that way.”

Kalila failed to pick up on the sarcasm in his voice. “I’ll say. But you know what?” She spun his chair back around so he was facing her. “I like you anyway. Human faults and all.”

“Thanks, but that doesn’t—”

She climbed into his lap, straddling him. “Doesn’t what?”

Her touch was electric and her lips on his sent fire through his body. He wrapped his arms around her as she ground her hips into his. The video could wait. “I guess it doesn’t matter all that much.”

Maelstrom Extra: Unscheduled

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 reviews (Comments): 6
“No way,” Vic said. “He’ll never go for it.”

Bo frowned and tapped the tabletop with his fingers. “Sure he will. We’ve just got to pitch it right.”

“I’m telling you, Ricky will never in a million years try and book us a gig at the porn star convention.”

“Sure he will. We just need to accentuate the publicity benefits.” Bo reached for a notepad and pen. “For starters, we’ll be making new fans who know how to work the media. They have lots of money and like to party.”

Vic picked up the newspaper and read the article again. “Ricky will say we just want to glamour an easy meal.”

“So what if we do? It's an added benefit.”

“I like the idea,” Vic said, tossing the paper back onto the table, “But that kind of gig isn’t Ricky’s style. He’d rather book us for some wretched charity concert that’ll improve our karma.”

With a sigh, Bo conceded he had a point. “The human is kind of a prude in that regard.”

“So what do you want to do?”

“I don’t know. Call them on our own and see if we can sell them on the idea without Ricky’s help?”

“Yeah, we could. Then again…”

Their eyes met, and Bo nodded understanding. “Agreed. It sounds too much like work.”

“What’s the date again?”

Bo reached for the newspaper. “Seventeenth and eighteenth.”

“They’ve probably already lined up their entertainment months ago.”

“But we’re not playing anywhere those nights.”

Bo flashed a wicked grin. “Crash the party?”

“Oh, hell, yes.” Vic stood up and smiled, flashing a bit of fang. “This might end up being the best gig we never booked.”