Bad Day


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Scene Title Bad Day
Synopsis After the murder of Elisabeth Harrison, the Department of Homeland Security shows their teeth. And so does Gabriel Gray.
Date November 9, 2014


It's a cold and clear day. Late fall. Early winter is Gabriel's preferred New York but it's already getting there, a chill in the air beneath a bright sun. The leaves are mostly stripped from the trees by now, casting little shade — just sharp, veining shadows on bricked ground that sway and shiver. People move by — students, mostly, given the proximity to a nearby campus — without giving him a second glance, especially with his head down.

Waiting, and not impatiently. His days off feel rare, and rarer still when the coincide with Eileen's days off — which this one does not. So, it's pastrami in sandwiches and a walking lunch date with Colette Demsky-Brooks as she released from the confines of her studies, and then maybe later, he'll swing by St. Luke's before he picks up Bai-Chan and

something halts his train of thought.

And he looks up. Call it a sixth sense, a shift in the wind, some unknown sound catching his super-sensitive hearing ringing a wrong chord in the harmony of Manhattan ambiance, a prescience, but by the time a black car is bumping up from the curb and half onto the quad, it's almost not a surprise. He stands, as guarded and attentive as a wolfhound, thoughts of pastrami and hospitals and school departing from his mind like scattered pigeons as more cars in ominous black come tearing onto the tranquil scene, scattering groups of university students who only form an uneasy perimeter, craning their necks.

A glossy door swings open, a woman emerging — suit, blonde hair cut severe above her shoulders, and a pistol in her hands. "Mr Gray," says Agent Hanson, teeth bared between syllables, all brimstone and badge. "You need to come with us."

Gabriel breaks his gaze from hers, looking towards where more DHS agents are spilling out. Like an infestation. "What happened?" he asks, sharp, direct. Worried.

"You're under arrest for murder. Get down on the ground, put your hands above your head."

But he hears it, first, the tiniest sound, the creak of plastic of a trigger being pulled, and he throws out his hand in time to swat the projectile out of the way with a ripple of telekinesis. A minnow's worth of metal scatters across the bricks, maybe a dart, he's not sure, his attention is scrambled and split as the gesture has the surrounding squad bristling around him with renewed hostility.

"Stop," he says, starting to bend his knee. "I will, I'll— "

He stumbles as someone slams into his back, and immediately, a crackle of energy passes over Gabriel's body, deflecting the blow, an energy exchange that tosses the agent backwards before Gabriel has time to think.

And everything happens so fast.

Gunfire and muzzle flare, and Gabriel rakes a hand out, sending bullets scattering wild. "Stop," he growls. Gunfire and muzzle flare, and Gabriel staggers as bullets flatten against the membranous electrical forcefield rippling over his skin. Gunfire and muzzle flare, and Gabriel throws a hand out, blue-green light darting from his fingertips, and closes that hand into a startled fist as he sees black, burning lines slice through Agent Hanson's torso, sees her arm slough from her shoulder, sees her collapse.

Gunfire and muzzle flare, and bullets find purchase, sinking into muscle and bone and soft guts. Gabriel howls, knees hitting the ground, blood running hot and ready, and something else, something dark. Dark like volcanic ash, creeping from between his clutching fingers in fine questing tendrils, and then billowing, and then reaching. Screams fill the air, and dark energy floods out from Gabriel's body, withering the struggling weeds peeking from between brickwork, sapping the nearby winter-bare tree of the last of its vitality, splintering beneath its own weight.

And men and women in uniforms suddenly falling, stricken, weapons clattering, as their life force is leached away, leaving them as ashy husks whose last moments are only mind-numbing pain as skin tightens across withered muscles, as bones become hollow and as fragile as glass and shatter, as they crumble to dust.

Gabriel, hands and knees on ground now slick with blood and ash, feels his own wounds close up, watching as nearby civilians having barely escaped that flood of black magic run for their lives.


A voice turns his head, and he sees her. Colette is standing in the midst of ashen bodies, and university textbooks slide from her grasp. One of her hands is half-formed, the exposed bones of her fingers yellow-white where blackened skin is curled back. A grey cast is crawling over her skin from beneath her collar, withering, ash blowing free and exposing a row of white teeth.

"No," he says, hoarse, fingernails scraping brick as he tries to move. "Colette, no— "

She staggers forward, reaching. "Gabriel," she says, his name somehow unmuddied from her distorted mouth. In a blind panic, Gabriel tries to move towards her, actions clumsy, slow. "Gabriel." She falls as she stumbles, a gust of ash painting the air grey.

That withered hand, reaching — for help, to harm — as his name rings in his ears.


DHS Holding Facility

"Mr Gray."

Consciousness hits Gabriel like a dash of cold water. He can still feel ash in his mouth, on his skin, half-dreaming still that when he opens his eyes, he expects to see grey cement ceilings, expects to feel shackles, expects to be blinded by bright white circle lights

but what he sees is a half eaten sandwich on the table he's rested his arms and his head upon, a sandwich of the vending machine variety. Wholemeal bread, mustard, pickles, ham. Remembers eating it without tasting it. Remembers the officer that had brought it to him, along with bottled water, without saying anything. Remembers, before that, declining coffee. Remembers the negation pills that were put into his willing, open palm.


"Thank you for your cooperation," says that voice that had woken him, and he straightens in his chair to look up at Agent Audrey Hanson, wearing an expression that matches her tone of voice under the harsh lights of the interrogation room. "I know you just started making yourself comfortable, but I'm sure you'd rather continue your beauty sleep in your own home."

His hand closes around the half eaten sandwich and its plastic container, Gabriel rubs around his eye sockets with his other hand. Remembers submitting to handcuffs, being read his rights, the hand on the back of his head ducking him into the car. Remembers the calm walk towards it, and seeing Colette's anxious expression in the crowd.


"You're letting me go?"

"You're being released. I'm as surprised as you are," says the agent. She opens the door and holds it wide.

Old enemies, Gabriel thinks, have the same familiarity as old friends — a shared sense of humour, for one, as they stare across at each other: him, baffled, her, resigned. She rolls her eyes away from him, regarding the mirror that decorates the length of the interrogation room idly. "We may bring you in for future questioning as our investigation continues, so I'm keeping you on speed dial, but your alibis check out. You're a free man."

The again is silent.

Leaving the sandwich behind, Gabriel pushes himself to his feet. The heavy dosage of negation immediately makes the world start to spin around him, but determination to walk out of the holding facility — or at least, this room — in a straight line has him doing so, if slowly.

"You might want to have a word to your wife, Mr Gray."

Agent Hanson is utterly impervious to the kind of look that attracts as she says it, as he stops to deliver it. She tips her head, the severe cut of her blonde hair curling a lock at her chin before she tucks it behind her ear with all the grace of a fly swat. "About her attitude. Think they heard her scream the house down all the way from Nebraska."

Gabriel is still, staring, before he says through his teeth, "Officer Gray."

Agent Hanson smiles without showing teeth.

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