Fan Fiction

I’ll Show You Around
by Skullduggerant
Harry Dresden is the property of Jim Butcher.

There's something really unfair about monsters. To start with, most of them are faster, stronger, or smarter than the average human. Given that the majority of them are malevolent, human-hating creatures, this is generally a bad thing. They tend to chew and swallow first, and ask questions later. Also not a plus. On top of this, many of them have bizarre, inexplicable, and supernatural abilities stemming from their magical origins.

They often specialize in making you look like a highly outclassed idiot.

I gathered my legs for another deaf-defying leap, this time to a rooftop that looked like it was several feet away from reasonably reachable. Ah, well. I should have considered that before I started running.

Hurling myself across the empty space, I slammed into the edge of the next apartment complex chest-first, scrabbling to haul myself up before gravity noticed my cloaked ass hanging out in full view and decided to do something about it.

This was hard to do with a large wooden staff in my right hand, but I made it. Ha. Eat that, gravity. I took a deep breath to steady myself.

And Pooka Zin jumped to the next building.

Hell's bells. There was a limit to how much of this crap I could take, and I was fast approaching it. Part of me had already started not to care how many babies he had stolen: there was something utterly ridiculous going on here, and it had to do with me hopscotching roofs just to try and catch up with him.

There had to be a more creative way to go about this. I watched Zin do a graceful backflip and land neatly on an air conditioner unit. The bastard was always a few steps ahead of me, but maybe if I could use his momentum against him somehow, crash him into a water tower...

For those of you who've just tuned in, I'm Harry Dresden, wizard and part-time private eye. I moonlight as a wiseass to help pick up the bills, but snappy banter wasn't doing me any favors here, because Zin wasn't even close enough to talk to.

Which was odd, really. The first time I'd met him, he was just oozing with delightful nuggets of foul, menacing repartee. This time, after a brief verbal sparring match, he'd taken to the air like Springheel Jack. The ensuing chase had since entered into my "worst pursuit ever" list. It was almost as if he was trying to lure me somehow. But towards what, or away from what?

That's the trouble with bad guys. They tend not to tell you until you're dead.

He cheerfully waved at me, like we were on some kind of nature hike and I'd fallen behind. I rolled my eyes.

"You know, it'd be a lot easier to mock me up close!" I yelled at him from several blocks away. He slipped behind an air conditioner unit and the next thing I knew, his voice was right next to my ear.

"You're quite right, good sir. I say, you're performing rather well given the conditions. Do you do this sort of thing often?"

I jumped as one of his needle-teeth brushed against my ear, and swung my staff in a vicious arc at the sound of his voice. Naturally, my blow met nothing but air. Damn, but he was good. Of course, he was fey in nature (or something close to it), so it was to be expected. Creatures of Faerie can disappear like nobody's business.

"Yeah, I go on hurdling expeditions with weird misanthropic monstrosities all the time," I growled, turning in circles to find him. "I'm thinking of putting together a club, actually."

Ah, there he was, sitting on top of a disused chimney like an oversized furry gargoyle. Up close, Pooka Zin looked like someone's vaguely lagomorphic nightmare-a seven-foot-tall, razor-furred jackrabbit in a Victorian jacket and tails. He even had a top hat and a cane, and he twirled the former on the latter as he hopped down to face me.

"Splendid!" he crowed, his voice a cross between a clipped Oxford accent and the sound of nails scraping velvet. "I do so hope we can do this more often. The fresh air does a body good, no?"

I was trying to calculate if I could nail him with a gale of wind even as I circled around him, trying to get his back to a nearby brick wall. "Yeah, it's doing the good right out of my cracked ribs, that's for sure. Where are the kids, Zin?"

"Oh, here a few, there a few." Pooka Zin picked some nonexistent dirt off his claws. "Honestly, my dear fellow, you've much more serious things to be worried about."

"More serious than eleven mothers in a possibly suicidal state of shock after you stole their newborns?" I shook my head. "I don't think so."

"Oh, come now, Dresden." The inglorious bastard leaned forward on his skull-topped cane, coattails flapping in the rooftop breeze. "You and I have both seen the larger shape of things to come. Kingdoms won and lost, rulers deposed, your own race slipping into a new and delightfully unpleasant age." He smirked at me, for once displaying a fairly normal set of sharp canines. "How significant could the tears of eleven mortal sows possibly be to you?"

There's a rule in my line of work: if you see a straight line, take it. I whipped my hand forward and released a sorcerously charged burst of pure kinetic force from the silver ring on my index finger. I got immense satisfaction from seeing Pooka Zin's yellow eyes widen as the rippling bolt of power swept toward him.

On any normal day, when someone disses innocent women on my watch, the ol' chivalry kicks in; I then proceed to make a fool of myself. After being forced through half an hour of rooftop hopscotch with a creature I despised in every way...well.

I had a lot of power behind the blast, compressed frustration and focused anger augmenting the stored power in my silver ring. It should have smashed him against the nearby wall like a paper origami statue getting punched in the face by an angry fat man.

Unfortunately, Zin had been around a lot longer than I had. He was in the air before the shimmering wave of energy could even touch him, and was somersaulting neatly onto the edge of the roof even as my force wave smashed the bricks of the wall to dust.

Without skipping a beat I spun around, spinning my staff and roaring, "FUEGO!"

A lance of bright flame shot from the end of my staff, whirling through the air to lash at him like a whip. But again, you gotta get up pretty early in the morning to beat something that's been outfoxing humans for centuries. He simply twisted around it like a gymnast, crouching on a rusty water tower as my fire evaporated into the air.

"You can't jump around like that forever," I panted at him, trying to maintain some aura of dignity. "Sooner or later, I'm going to wipe the floor with you. Just tell me where the infants are and you can leave Chicago without me kicking your supernatural patooshkie the whole way."

The hare-like bogeyman leaned on his cane, much like a foppish nineteenth-century aristocrat might do. Being an asshole never goes out of style. "As I've said, you have better things to be directing your considerable talents towards. You've missed quite a lot of the story already, and honestly, if you don't get there in a hurry you're going to miss the finale as well."

I stared him down, gathering my will. If he kept talking, maybe I would have a chance to sucker-punch him at some point. Right now it was my best shot. I started formulating a plan as I said, "I must have missed a memo somewhere. Enlighten me."

He cleared his throat, straightening his cummerbund. Seriously, he had a cummerbund. This guy was old-school. "In a town that is neither here nor there, several fine young people are in a lamentable state. Personally, I don't like to interfere with a lady's entertainment, but-"

I lined up the shot and took it. The Smith & Wesson .38 Special isn't a big revolver, but it packs a hell of a punch, and God help anyone who doesn't see it coming.

Pooka Zin was quicker than mercury on ice, just as expected. Without skipping a beat he ceased his monologue and simply vanished into thin air. My four shots punched directly into the water tower, scoring a neat little diamond shape in the old metal. Small streams of water arched from the bulletholes. Cool, I made a rhombus. Or was it a parallelogram?

I had a moment to wonder where that darn varmint had gotten to, and then he slammed both fists down onto the middle of my back. Even with my enchanted leather duster weakening the impact, it felt like a pair of double sledgehammers coming down. I'm tall, but I'm built like a birch tree, not a stone pillar. All six feet and nine inches of me went down like a ton of bricks.

An incredible weight pressed down on my arm. Then I was lifted bodily into the air and hurled straight up. I had a moment to think Oh, this isn't good before I hit the concrete on my way down.

Stars breakdanced in front of my eyes, and then I nearly vomited up my breakfast as Pooka Zin pressed a foot down on my stomach. "I don't usually resort to fisticuffs, sir, but honestly: you are quite successfully trying my nerve. Can't a chap even finish a sentence without being heckled by your little mortal tools?"

"I've got a bit of attention-deficit disorder," I wheezed, spreading out my arms as if to try and rise. "Can't seem to help myself."

He frowned, an abhorrent sight to see. With his other leg, he pinned my left arm, and using his cane he pressed my right hand down against the grit of the roof. "That's a terrible shame. And here I was trying to give you some useful advice."

Any minute now. "Well, I'm not always receptive to advice from baby-snatchers." I felt what I'd been waiting for-only a tiny touch, but it would have to be enough. "Hey, Zin. Before you kill me, I've got a question for you."

His eyes, the insane amusement now almost drained from them by impatience, pressed down on me. His top hat blocked out the sun, leaving his gangly frame a black silhouette. "And what might that be, wizard of the White Council?"

"Ever read Watership Down?"

I could practically hear his brows furrowing. "I can't say I have, no."

"Hmm. I thought it'd be mandatory reading for rabbits," I said, struggling a little as the thing I needed slipped around my hand in a cold little trickle. "Too bad, really. Good book. Lots of moral lessons."

Zin wasn't even slightly amused now. I could see his teeth gleaming as they lengthened, preparing to sink into the flesh of my throat, no doubt. "Like what?"

I shrugged as best I could without tearing my arms off. "Things are always better on the other side of the river." I twisted the fingers of my right hand in a savage beckoning gesture. "Forzare, aquilevitas!"

Connections are very important in magic and sorcery. For instance, if you have a piece of someone's hair, or their clothing, you could potentially affect them over vast distances with the right spell. Things like thaumaturgy and voodoo are based on a simple premise: that even the smallest part of something is connected in a very primal way to the whole of that something.

In this case, the spreading pool of water from the water tower was connected to the structure's contents. Directly connected, in fact, so much that manipulating the larger body of water through the little streams of liquid was as easy as pulling on a rope.

Like a spark from a fuse reaching a keg of dynamite, my will traveled up the stream, through the arc of leakage on the side of the tower, and into the water inside. There was a wrenching, crunching noise as the metal buckled and gave way to a deluge of tidal insanity that, according to my will, rushed directly at me.

And, correspondingly, at Pooka Zin.

The wave rolled over us both like a living thing. The carpet of dank-smelling liquid crushed against me, sweeping harshly across my face and shooting straight up my nostrils. It was a lot like being plunged a gigantic, rust-flecked jacuzzi. I was swept across the roof in a tumbling tornado of elemental fury and deposited like flotsam near the edge.

It cleared very quickly, but I'd gotten the job done. When I sneezed the water out of my facial orifices, I got to see a beautiful sight: Pooka Zin, hunched over and gagging nearby. His fine clothes were now soaking wet, the coattails drooping, and he'd lost his top hat in the flood.

There are very few things that can cut off a powerful supernatural creature from its connection to the dark and spooky. One is a ritual circle. Another is running water. By dousing Pooka Zin in several hundred gallons of rushing H2O, I'd effectively grounded him, neutralizing his ties with the Nevernever and stripping away his magic-at least for a minute or two.

With his spiky fur matted to his angular face he looked pathetic, almost pitiful. But there was no way I was going to call it quits now. We weren't finished here.

As soon as I got up I walked right over and kicked him in the face. "Hey Ugly. Give me the babies. Now."

"Foolish wizard," Zin hissed. "You've thrown away your own magic while shearing me of mine." He puked up a lungful of stagnant water. Nice. "Your spells are gone. You have no power over me."

"Yeah," I said, pulling out my .38, "but I still have this." I pointed it at his head.

I thumbed back the trigger, all nice and dramatic like. I knew that it might or might not be functioning after our little scuba expedition, but Zin didn't have to know that. He eyed my piece for a minute, his yellow eyes roiling with a greasy kind of hate, but eventually nodded.

"So be it."

He leaned over like a college frat boy over a toilet bowl, and retched. First there was only a thick stream of bile and bilge water, but soon he started making a thick gagging noise, and a pair of tiny feet appeared in the gap between his needle-fanged jaws.

My own jaw started to drift on a leisurely downward course as my fiendish enemy lowered his head, throat bulging, and deposited a perfectly unharmed and naked baby on the slick cement. The little guy couldn't have been more than a week old. He was covered in some kind of transparent gook, but other than that, he seemed fine; he was breathing and for all the world looked to be peacefully asleep.

I was nearly ready to puke myself when Zin arched his back and yukked again. I stared in fascination and increasing nausea as, one by one, he literally vomited up five more newborns-seemingly out of nowhere. His narrow waist and small ribcage didn't appear to shrink at all during the process, which somehow added to the disturbing sight.

Once the sixth one was out, he coughed, spitting a ropy pile of mucus on the ground beside him. Wiping his mouth with one damp sleeve, he coughed. "There," he said. "You have your mortal grubs. Now let me depart in peace."

I kept the gun on him. "Not so fast. I can count. Where are the other five?"

He rolled his eyes, as if I was wasting his time. "Under a bridge of crimson hue, on an avenue called Montahue. Satisfied?"

I knew the place. Montahue Bridge, just five blocks down from my house. "Do I have your word that they will be where you claim, unharmed and un-tampered-with?"

He spit a smaller glob of bile beside the first. "Yes, yes. You have my word."

"Very well. Then you have mine, that I will neither slow you nor bring you any harm in your departure." You gotta be specific with faeries.

He shivered and stood slowly. Standing straight, he towered over me, a good eight feet at least. He seemed to be recovering his strength, and I suddenly wished that I'd made him promise to leave in peace. He looked pretty pissed.

His arms stretched out, and I tensed. But the spidery limbs elongated, picking up his hat and cane, which he returned to his person. His foul-tempered expression melted away into one of diabolical politeness. "My thanks to you, wizard. Most of your ilk would not be so ingratiating."

"Get thee hence," I snapped, "before I start getting ideas." I leveled the gun at him, edging to the right to recover my staff from where it lay in the puddles.

He nodded slowly. "Certainly," he said, and gave a stiff bow.

Sweeping upright, he grinned, tilting his top hat slightly to the left. "It's been smashing, Mister Dresden. We must remember to do this again sometime." His claws, growing to the length of small sickles, wrapped around his cane. "And do take care to remember my words of warning. After all," he purred, "you wouldn't want to miss the fireworks, would you?"

I put a warning shot through his top hat. I'd had enough of his bullshit for one day. "Move your ass, fey. Now."

He grunted. Tapping his cane on the ground, he simply rose off the roof and shot straight up into the sky, for all the world like a furry version of Mary Poppins.

A twisted, demented, evil version of Mary Poppins. I shook my head. Whatever he'd been before he became what he was now, Pooka Zin was one weird son of a bitch.

Coming from me, that's saying a lot.

My warning shot had woken up the babies. Wiping rabbit spittle from their eyes, the little ones set up a chorus of tiny, wet wails. I rubbed my dripping forehead as I heard sirens gathering around the roof.

I removed my duster, gently placing the babies on the soft inside of it. I glanced up at the sky just as the first of the boys in blue appeared up the fire escape. I then made a vow that, given the circumstances, could not be passed up.

"I'll get you someday, you wascally wabbit."