top of page


   “Are you going to answer it?”

   I’m looking at the phone screen light up on silent next to me, wondering how he noticed so quickly.

   ‘SIREN CALLING…’ is unmistakably visible, so there was no use pretending it could be anyone else.

   “No. There’s your answer,” I respond and laugh a little. He should know better by now.

   “She’s going to keep calling. You can’t ignore it forever.”

   The whiskey I sip while I flip him off is amazing, the ice cold against my lips.

   “I can ignore her all I want, thank you.”

   “You know what I meant. Besides, that won’t make her go away. Talk to her, and she might.”

   “I’ve got nothing more to say.”

   “Then why is she still in your contacts list?”

   “Because I’m lazy,” I sigh, annoyed, setting the glass down after another large gulp.

   “And because I don’t want her to call and for me to not recognize her number and answer by mistake.”

   “Look, end it or don’t. Just don’t ghost her, man, that’s all I’m asking. You did say you loved her once…”

   “Nope. I loved the idea of her. The version of her she made herself out to be online.”

   “You could still be friends. You got along so well, after all, before you went to go meet her.”

  “Friends don’t lie about that kind of thing, okay? Not a good start to a friendship.”

  “Fair. Then again, if I recall, you and I first met under false pretenses also.”

  “That was different. Very different. I told you my skills, didn’t I?”

   “Yeah, just not what you need in order to use them.”

   “Alright, alright, look, I’ll call her back, okay? Just…go over there, or something. Use the bathroom, I don’t know.”

   He walks away to do just that, but I catch his smug smile on the way to the door.

   The bartender leans over.

   “So who’s the lady?”

   “A little privacy?” I ask, putting the phone to my ear after dialing and flicking a lighter on and off to settle my nerves a bit.

   “You’re the one sitting at the bar, asshole. Be careful with that thing, by the way” he says, pointing at the lighter, “Wolves are out tonight. Hey, I got another mark for you when you and your friend are ready.”

   I nod and hold up a finger as the phone rings.

   “Okay yeah, yeah, when he gets back show us. Hang on.”

   “There you are…” she says into my ear, and once again I’m reminded how seductive she really does sound over the phone. “And I was beginning to worry you were still mad at me.”

   “I am. I’m only calling to ask you to please stop. I’m not interested in talking anymore.”

   “Are you sure? You seemed really, really interested in doing more than just talking not that long ago…”

   “That was before. Now I know, and there’s no going back. Sorry. Your little thing is up.”

   “Excuse me, but you don’t know the size of my thing or whether or not it is up. Missed your chance to see for yourself.”

   “Look, I know I was kind of…rude about it. Maybe I hurt your feelings. Sorry, okay? But you should have known I would react like that. You lied to me.”

   “I’ve been calling myself the Siren ever since we met. Don’t you know mermaids have a surprise below the waist?”

   “Yes it’s all clear now, you lure men to their demise, very clever.”

   “Any worthy woman does, Darling.”

   “You’re not my kind of woman. Sorry. I like the ones with, you know, lady parts.”

   “I seem to recall you being quite fond of my lady parts in that bra, and in that thong from behind. I believe your words were ‘tits and ass of a goddess’?”

   I wave at the bartender for another whiskey, who does a poor job disguising his amused eavesdropping.

   “Trick of the light,” I protest, drinking deep, and the lights flicker for a moment. “You’re skilled with your voice and illusions, I’ll give you that.”

   “Darling, I’m not mad that you’re upset. I knew the risk of waiting to tell you. I’m just disappointed. I thought your love would outweigh your hesitations.”

   “You don’t get to catfish people and expect them to still be your friend.”

   “Would it help if I told you I’m no longer interested in men? Or you, for that matter.”

   “What do you mean?”

   “Look, you weren’t the only one frustrated by your visit. You helped me realize I’m not really interested in you after all, or for any man for that matter. I’m into women again. You’re off the hook. I’m a lesbian.”


   “I’ve been calling to tell you that I’m over you now. I’m sorry if this hurts your feelings.”

   “It doesn’t.”

   “I don’t know, I had you wrapped around my finger. And you’d be surprised what I can do with that finger.    Tell me, have you deleted those photos yet? Or do you still have them?”

   “I’m hanging up now.”

   “You still fucking have them, I knew it.”

   “Goodbye now.”

   “Wait–I want you to know that if you change your mind and ever want to be friends…I’m here for you. You may not be my type anymore, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a real connection for a while there. I’m heading out from Seattle and will be in Austin soon to see a friend of mine, if you want to join. She’s actually quite a gal, has all the parts you are looking for too. Promise. That is, unless I get her first…”

   “Right, may the best cock win, got it.”

   She laughs, and the sound of her cackle is agonizingly beautiful and womanly.

   “You’re a good man,” she says suddenly, “you’ll find someone. Just try not to think about me too much. You may want to delete those photos if you start dating someone else again.”

   “Okay nice talking, bye now.”

   “Call you later.”

   “Nope, not answering.”

   “I’m a Siren, Love. No one can resist my call.”

   I hang up, only to realize that my partner has not returned from the bathroom. The bartender leans over, placing a wanted poster on the counter.

   “Witch,” he states simply. “She’s wanted by her coven. Wolves haven’t found her yet, so the Vamps are putting this out. Quite a bounty for her.”

   “We’ll take it,” I reply, pulling it closer to look over.

   “She’s dangerous, but alone,” the bartender explains, “Last seen in the Driftwood area. You think you can find her?”

   “We have ways,” I reply confidently, still flicking the lighter. A few onlookers have started to notice the open flame and wonder, but I don’t care. That is, until I can smell dog coming into the bar as the doors open.

   “Easy, son,” the bartender says, “hey where’s your partner, anyway?”

Hopefully already slipping out the back door near the bathrooms and circling around the place to get behind the Wolves now entering. I shake my head and the bartender greets his new guests with the most sincere smile he can muster. I brush the poster with my hand and let it slip to the floor behind the counter. I make the lighter disappear in my sleeve, but it’s possible they caught the glint.

   One of them pulls up to the bar next to me. Even with the gray uniforms, you can always tell. Something about the way they walk with their legs and the hunched posture gives away their true form and nature. It is like they had forgotten what it means to be human, the furless skin their real uniform they put on for the rest of us. The Wolf’s partner pulls up to the other side of me, and I glance at each with as much casual indifference as I can manage.

   “Heard they put the bounty out,” one of them says to the bartender. “Got any takers yet?”

   The bartender shakes his head, not even glancing at me.

   “No luck yet. Why, afraid of a little competition, lawfficers?” he responds playfully, giving an exaggerated laugh as though to clue them in that he is on their side and scoffing at the idea. The Wolves are quiet for just a second too long before they decide he isn’t serious, so they laugh back awkwardly.

   “Vamps think we can’t do it ourselves. But who do they trust to patrol the streets and enforce their laws? Us. That’s right, us. They don’t do it themselves. Put a few more Wolves instead of Vamps into office and things’ll change. Then we’ll get the respect we deserve. Bounty hunters…”

   The Wolf gives a snarl. The bartender takes the cue to offer them drinks on the house. A patron of the bar approaches the Wolves.

   “Excuse me, sirs? I just wanted to thank you for protecting us and keeping our streets safe. Human criminals are bad enough, but a criminal Witch is even scarier.”

   “Not to worry, ma’am, she won’t be a danger to y’all much longer. And it’s the Fur that will bring her to justice, not anyone else.” The bartender nods quickly, pouring them some beer. “I was actually thinking something a little…thicker.”

   “I got just the thing,” the bartender replies, turning to open up a small fridge with jars of blood for them. “Brewed these myself from my own veins the last few weeks, for just the occasion.”

   “You know, I notice your Operating Permits are expired by a couple days. That’s quite a blood fee for one man and his family to pay. Maybe if we had something a little fresher to drink, we can forget about the whole thing and you can go get those permits renewed before we stop by next week. How does that sound?”

   The bartender nods slowly, taking out a knife and cutting into his own arm to pour them each enough to satiate their thirst. He looks about to pass out before they finally tell him it is enough and begin to drink. I try to stand up and help him, but a powerful hand slaps my shoulder, and fingers claw harshly, pushing me back down in my seat with unnatural strength.

   “Let him be, let him be. Don’t embarrass the man, he can take it. You can, right?”

   “Of course,” the bartender mutters weakly.

   “Officers…” the bar patron says, still hovering nearby, “…the other reason I came over, is…that man between you has some contraband. I saw him with a lighter, open flame and everything…”

   Fucking bitch.

   “Is that right?” one of the Wolves asks. “You know, fire is very dangerous. Not safe for humans to be using without permission. Why don’t you hand that over then? I’d hate to get thirsty again. Or else hungry.”

   “Fellas,” I reply calmly, as the whiskey begins to kick in a little more. “I’m sure this is all a misunderstanding. It’s entirely possible I’ve slept with her and forgotten all about it, and this is her revenge. Well played, Miss, but it’s not my fault you have a forgettable face and are a forgettable fuck. Gentlemen, how about I buy you a couple shots? Real shots, with alcohol, not blood. Come on, you haven’t forgotten how to have a little human fun, have you? What do you say, on me?”

    The Wolves seem to like seeing what I might offer them before they will likely strip me anyway for the lighter afterwards. Minimum sentencing could put me at five to ten years for possession of a dangerous weapon. Who knows how many these two had already locked up for less. I have no idea if my partner is ready, but figure I should buy him all the time I can. Too long, however, and I could end up as one more victim of another ‘accidental’ transformation and throat ripping.

   The bartender manages to make the shots as he recovers from his draining. He knows to pour whiskey like I had asked. Whiskey will usually do one of two things. I offer the shots to the Wolves, but they shake their heads, predictably.

   “How about a couple waters, then, to wash down the blood?” I ask the bartender, who begins pouring clumsily while I down each shot. I can feel the lighter in my pocket and figure I will try that first. I wait until the first Wolf starts gulping down the water. “Alright, I confess,” I say, withdrawing the forbidden item and flicking the flame to life, “Boo.”

   I focus everything I have into that tiny flame, expecting a fireball to erupt into the face of the Wolf, but nothing happens.

   Nope, not fire this time. Water it is.

   I freeze the water in the throat of the Wolf still chugging. He begins to choke and falls off the barstool, an icicle still protruding from his open mouth, the glass falling and shattering. The other Wolf picks me up and throws me across the room.

   “SPIRITMANCER!” he howls angrily, beginning to transform.

   Before I can hit the wall, a gunshot erupts. The levitation spell hits me midair and keeps me afloat for a moment before dropping me back to the ground. My partner turns his revolver towards the fully changed werewolf on all fours lunging for the kill. The second gunshot erupts, and the Wolf hovers in the air for a second like I had. The third shot goes into the ceiling above, and the Wolf is pulled forcefully against it, pinned by the magic.

   The icicle is beginning to melt inside the other Wolf’s throat. He rolls over and begins to transform. The bartender stumbles up from behind and dumps an entire jug of water, soaking its fur. I reach out my hands and freeze the creature in place in an icy prison. The other Wolf begins to fall from the ceiling, and so my partner fires another pulling spell into the floor, hastening its descent into a bone-crunching slam.

   “SPELLGUN!” the Wolf howls, as if naming his enemy could change his defeat.

   “What do you have in your last two rounds?” I ask my partner.

   “Nothing that will finish them off, but I can reload.”

   “That’s okay. I got this.”

   The lights begin to flicker again, and this time, I can feel the two shots kicking in. I take out the lighter and stand between the paralyzed Wolves. The place has since cleared of patrons who fled right away. The bartender watches as the lights give out and all goes black.

   I flick the small flame on in the darkness.

   “You’re right, officers. Fire is a dangerous thing. For humans, yes. But for monsters, most of all.”

   This time, the fire answers when I call.

Illustration by W. David Lilley Jr.

bottom of page