Title: Empty Threat
Author: Danny Bell
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Hosted by: Lady Amberâs 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 powers.
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?
âThe stairs, come on!â 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.
âAll right. Okay. New floor. Thatâs something. We just need to figure out what we do now.â Olivia said pensively; I wasnât sure if she was talking to herself or me.
âCan we stop for a moment?â I demanded. âWhere is all of this coming from?â
âWell, I donât want to die, and one of us had to do something!â she snapped back with a mirthless laugh.
âI was going to figure something out!â I began to protest. I stopped, seeing how Oliviaâs expression changed.
âAre you serious? Have you seen yourself?â she asked. âYouâre sweating. Youâre literally shaking. I had to physically drag you away from danger. Look!â
She spun me around towards the direction of a mirror. I couldnât believe it; I was a portrait of panic. My left hand was actually shaking and wouldnât stop. âIâm trying to keep us alive! I am not at all equipped to survive this, but we both canât be petrified. Iâm scared too, but whatever. Unless youâre either going to get it together, or get a new superpower, you just have to trust me.â
I took a few breaths. I couldnât let us die here, so yeah, it was time to make with my best superheroine impression.
âRight. Youâre right. Iâm better,â I said with a couple of quick hops to release some of the tension. âYouâre right. We got this.â
âThatâs fantastic because I have no idea what to do next,â Olivia replied with a sigh.
âYou know, my superiors seem to think you deserve a warning,â Bres interrupted over the PA system. âI donât. I donât think thereâs 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, youâve already figured out the Cruz girl, so youâre not likely to stop, are you?â
âWhat heâs talking about?â Olivia asked.
âNo clue,â I answered. âHeâs probably just trying to get under our skin, right?â
âI have a plan, but itâs desperate and stupid.â And largely based on television because Iâve never really been in this situation before.
âIâll take it,â Olivia replied.
âThis 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 theyâre probably sending people up, but theyâre going to be gathered on the ground since thatâs the only feasible way out. Weâre not getting out the front, but if we can get to the roof we might just be able to, I donât know, flag someone down or something. Or just lock everyone inside and wait until they leave or maybe theyâll just, I donât know, burn down the hospital themselves.â
âThe stairs are still blocked, how do we make it there in the first place?â Olivia asked.
âThis is the dumb part,â I continued. âWe send the elevator down to the first floor. Thereâs like, a thirteen percent chance that they bite. Before you ask how I came up with that number, donât. This probably isnât going to work, and Iâm going to get us killed.â
âIâm not scared at all,â Olivia said, about as sarcastically as Iâve ever heard her.
I shrugged. âLetâs do it.â
As we left the room, Bres spoke again, and it took everything within me not to yell at him to shut the hell up.
âYou 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.â
I hit the button on the elevator. I could hear the movement in the staircase. It might have been working.
âAnd while you indeed have been messing with forces much bigger than yourself, something Iâd love to make you pay for; I want you to be assured that those are not the forces you need to be worried about.â
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.
âThe 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.â
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.
âThe smaller they are, the harder they fall, eh?â 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. âGood enough, all. Go home; Iâll handle the rest.â
Olivia was still down, but I tried to get to my feet, my legs shaky; maybe from the shock, maybe from the fall, I donât know. The instant I was upright, Bres sharply pointed a finger in my direction. Immediately, something I couldnât see slammed into my stomach, harder than I could ever remember being hit. I didnât even make a noise as I doubled over; one just wouldnât come out of me.
âYouâve got to learn, Ms. Black, that your actions have consequences. The world will always demand balance. Thatâs the job itâs given me.â
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. Iâll 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 thenâ¦ 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.
âNice,â Bres said flatly. Then, with a casual wave of his hand, he excitedly said, âLetâs see you do it again!â