Entertainingly Evil

The Marking by Edd Vick

Lud stands next to the pharmacy’s wall for a long moment, one hand held to the sun-warmed brick. He senses the layers of paint on it, the war between art and whitewash. Symon has been here, and Vibo, and the silent artist whose tag is all black and orange arrows. Their symbols are all trapped beneath expanses of paint.

He glances up the street, then down. It’s a quiet Sunday morning in Dallas, already sweltering. Lud shrugs off his pack, and pulls from it his tools. Templates and brushes, thick markers in seven colors, three spray cans. All of the cans have heavy-duty magnets on their bottoms to keep the ball-bearing ‘peas’ from rattling while he walks. It’s best not to advertise what he carries.

Donning the gloves and removing the magnets from the cans, he shakes one of them, enjoying the feel of the weight shifting back and forth. He lays down a light blue diamond on the wall. He gives it a black drop-shadow. Once he starts, he’s impatient to be done. He cuts into his first form with dark purple, then sprays through templates to build up one sigil, then another and a third. The last glyph is the most difficult, the most dangerous.

He’s halfway through it when the wall bulges toward him, as if made of rubber. It touches one of his gloves, starts to pull his hand into the wall. Utter cold flares through his bones, and he slips his hand out of the glove, sees it sucked away.

There are ice crystals on his hand. More bulges appear on the wall, seeking him. Avoiding them, he picks up a marker in his good hand and removes the cap with his teeth. Positioning his thumb over the dent he’s made on its barrel, he presses to make the ink flow and shakily completes the sigil. When the last line is drawn the wall is once more smooth and motionless.

Lud flexes the fingers of both hands, one thawing and the other cramped from squeezing the marker. He steps away from the wall and admires his work.

Tires crunch on gravel, and he whirls. A police car is moving slowly through a parking lot across the street. If they haven’t seen him already, they soon will. He pulls his hoodie up over his pointed ears and crouches to scoop his supplies into his backpack. He scuttles around a corner and is gone in search of the next wall or billboard or train car.

Behind him, the wall stands doubly reinforced, useless to the legions of Faerie seeking their lost children.

Edd Vick is a graduate of the Clarion SF Writing Workshop. His stories have appeared in magazines including Asimovs, Analog, and many anthologies. By day a bookseller, he lives in Seattle with SF novelist Amy Thomson and their adopted daughter Katie (also five chickens, a cat, and a dog).

“The Marking” first appeared on The Daily Cabal.

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