Of Blood and Honey (Fey and the Fallen)

BOOK: Of Blood and Honey (Fey and the Fallen)
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of
Blood
and
Honey

A BOOK OF THE FEY AND THE FALLEN

STINA LEICHT

Night Shade Books

San Francisco

Of Blood and Honey
© 2011 by Stina Leicht

This edition of
Of Blood and Honey
© 2011 by Night Shade Books

Cover art by Min Yum

Cover design by Claudia Nobles (
www.claudianobledesign.com
)

Interior layout and design by Ross E. Lockhart

All rights reserved

Lyrics from “Johnny Appleseed” and “Hate and War” copyright the estate of Joe Strummer, used with permission.

First Edition

ISBN: 978-1-59780-213-0

Printed in Canada

Night Shade Books

Please visit us on the web at

http://www.nightshadebooks.com

To Dane Caruthers

Always remember these three words: as you wish.

Callaghan [in frustration] remarked, “You know, Mr. Paisley, we are all the children of God.”

Quick as a flash came the implacable answer. “No, we are not, Mr. Callaghan. We are all the children of wrath.”

—from
Ireland
by Paul Johnson

Chapter 1

Londonderry/Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland

13 November 1971

“Got one of the yabbos, sir!”

Liam lay on the cracked pavement with a British soldier’s boot planted in the center of his back, struggling against the pain to breathe. Thoughts galloped through his head in one long stream.
Oh-God-please-don’t-shoot-Wasn’t-throwing-stones-I-don’t-want-to-die-I’ll-never-sleep-with-Mary-Kate-if-I-do-Shite-Jesus-I’m-sorry-I-swear-I’ll-never-touch-her-again-I-know-it’s-a-mortal-sin-no-venial-no-mortal-oh-for-fuck’s-sake-what’s-thedifference?

The BA soldier leaned closer. Liam could feel his breath on his neck and itched with the need to escape the cold gun barrel pressed to the back of his skull. As if to illustrate the point, the thud-thud of riot guns went off somewhere. Peppery CS gas drifted by in a wispy clump. Among the crowd, those caught without vinegar-soaked handkerchiefs gagged and coughed. Someone shouted in the chaos. Liam guessed it was one of the Frontliners—the boys who regularly rioted on Aggro Corner—because the words weren’t complementary of BAs, nor, apparently, the farm animals that might accompany them on cold lonely nights.

“Don’t you fucking move. Bullet may be rubber, but at this range it
will
fuck with your day. You got me?”

“Y-Yes, sir,” Liam said, desperately trying to remember the Act of Contrition, but the pressure on the back of his head won out over Sister Margaret’s ruler as far as his memory was concerned. He began to shiver—whether from cold or fear he wasn’t certain. He’d seen what happened to Annette McGavigan last September. She’d been standing with a group of girls watching the Frontliners at their work—hoping to collect a rubber bullet souvenir. Everyone did. In the course of the riot, a BA fired into the crowd. Liam had happened to glance her direction when the top of her head had come off. It’d given him nightmares for weeks.

A pair of boots appeared inches from his nose. Afraid he’d be kicked in the face, Liam flinched. The BA whose foot rested on his back brought down his full weight. Liam went from struggling to breathe to not breathing at all and for an instant the gun dropped one level of importance beneath the ache of his ribs.

“I said, don’t move, Irish scum.”

Part of the prayer finally surfaced.
I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee.
It repeated over and over like a cracked record. He
was
heartily sorry—very fucking heartily sorry for not having gone straight home to his stepfather’s flat in Bogside.
I am heartily sorry—

Something smacked the corrugated iron covering a gutted building not far away, and an explosion went off. It was difficult not to throw his arms over his head. When his ears recovered he heard the sharp crack of live rounds.

“Is this one of them?” the new BA asked. His accent was crisp and very English while the other was more nasal and clipped. Both sounded foreign.

“Yes, sir. Saw him throwing rocks over there,” the nasal voice said.

Liam gasped in an attempt to explain that he was only watching, that he hadn’t even cheered—well, not much—but the only word to escape his lips was, “Didn’t.”

“Shut it, you.”

“Get off him, Private,” the BA officer said. “He’s choking.”

The weight lifted, and the world went from black and dark gray to black and dingy concrete. Liam gulped air.
Oh, Jesus, please. I just want to go home.

As if he had read Liam’s thoughts, the BA officer said, “Give the names of the other rioters, and we’ll let you go.”

No. Can’t. Frontliners are Bogside,
he thought.
Won’t be a coward. I won’t. What’ll Mary Kate think, I go and give them over?
Liam shut his eyes.

“I see,” the BA officer said. “Take him away.”

The gun barrel vanished, and there was an instant of relief before Liam’s hands were yanked behind his back. Pain shot up both arms, and cold steel trapped his wrists. The clock-tick of the cuffs locking into place crystallized the realization that he wasn’t going to see home or Mary Kate or his mother for what might be a long time.

Two BAs pulled him up from the pavement, and his knees gave out almost at once. They yanked him up again, more roughly the second time. There were no more explosions or insults or thrown rocks. A few feet away, a young boy snatched a rubber bullet from the ground. The Frontliners were long gone. The Royal Ulster Constabulary advised people to go about their business—whatever that might be—provided it did not include watching people being arrested for standing on the street. The RUC weren’t popular, and one brave soul told them what they could do with themselves. The crowd began to break up nonetheless.

The open doors at the back of the Saracen Armoured Personnel Carrier threatened to swallow him up.

“Liam!” It was Mary Kate.

He searched the street but didn’t see her. For an instant, what he did see gave him pause. A grizzled man with wispy white hair and a blood-red cap gave him a toothy smile. His eyes glinted red, and his teeth had been filed to sharp points.

The soldier gave Liam a shove, and he stumbled. They threw him against the door of the Saracen. He crumpled and for a few moments wished like hell he’d been born a eunuch.

“Let him go, you bastards!” she shouted. “He wasn’t doing anything!”

He wanted to warn her off, but he didn’t have the breath. The soldiers didn’t wait for him to recover; they tossed him into the gaping maw. Others stumbled up behind him. With his arms trapped behind his back he couldn’t get up even if he could manage it. So, he lay as he was, curled up in a tight ball, his eyes watering from the pain. The doors slammed closed, shutting out the light. Someone screamed.

“Shhh. Easy there, son. Easy. You’ll be all right,” one of the men sitting on the bench in front of him said.

Liam looked up. He had good night vision—better than anyone he knew. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness he got the impression of an elderly man with curly grey hair. He was leaning forward to make room for the handcuffs at the small of his back. Liam matched the shadowy face with the voice.
It’s Mr. O’Keefe,
he thought. Mr. O’Keefe lived in the Creggan, a block of council houses near St. Mary’s.

“Roll onto your back as much as you can. Then sit up,” Mr. O’Keefe said, “Take your time.”

The doors at the front of the Saracen thumped closed. By the time the engine roared Liam was able to sit up. The transmission snarled into gear, and the Saracen rolled forward with a jerk. With nothing to hold on to, he slid across the floor.

“Don’t you worry,” Mr. O’Keefe said. Liam wasn’t sure who the reassurance was for—himself or Mr. O’Keefe. “You’ve not been in trouble before. Like as not they’ll let you go after a chat on Bligh’s Lane.”

One of the others snorted. Liam thought he recognized him as a regular from the Bogside Inn. Rumor had it the man was a volunteer for the Provisional IRA.

“Don’t lie to the boy,” the Provo said. “We’re proper fucked. Bound for Long Kesh, we are. You wait and see.”

Liam’s heart stopped.

Mr. O’Keefe’s voice was so sincere that it almost hid the sound of his panic. “Don’t worry, son. I’ll look after you.”

It was the last white lie Liam allowed himself to believe for nearly three months.

Chapter 2

Londonderry/Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland

15 November 1971

Kathleen Kelly knelt in St. Brendan’s church vestibule, slid a coin into the offering slot and touched a lit match to one of the few candles available. It took two tries, and her hand visibly shook as she blew out the match. Fear for her eldest son mixed with anger, tightening her jaw. Hadn’t she told Liam to stay away from the ones who were causing trouble? Had she not told him to be careful? She’d been down to Bligh’s Lane three times in the past twenty-four hours but still the RUC—the Royal Ulster Constabulary—refused to tell her anything. She had no idea where Liam was, if he were hurt, or what could be done to get him free. In spite of everything she’d done to keep the lad safe he seemed determined to get into the worst of it. None of her other children were as much a problem. Quiet and obedient, they were for the most part, but not her Liam. She supposed it was his father in him.

Why have I not heard from him?

She struggled with old feelings of abandonment and guilt and whispered a Hail Mary, imploring the Mother of God to intercede. Kathleen breathed in the church’s perfume of old incense, furniture polish and hot beeswax to slow her heart and ease the tension in her shoulders. She knew there wasn’t much hope. After all the sins she’d committed—sins for which she’d paid dearly and yet, still didn’t regret—she couldn’t bring herself to ask the Lord directly for help, but surely He wouldn’t punish her boy for what she’d done for love.

The sins of the father shall be visited upon the sons.

Once more she thought of Liam’s father and resisted an urge to light another candle, pulling her coat tight instead. She had fought with him the last time they’d spoken and six months had passed since then. She knew because she’d counted every day. It’d been her own fault, of course. Much as she loved the man, all she ever seemed to do was drive him away. She added a quick prayer in spite of herself.
Mother of God, I know he isn’t one of ours, but would there be any harm to look out for him, nonetheless?

She got up and exited the church, almost walking into her neighbor, Geraldine McKenna. The McKennas lived in the same apartment block, the same floor but three doors down. Geraldine was a small woman in a faded wool coat. Her head was down, and her shoulders were up.

“Is something wrong?” Kathleen asked.

Geraldine looked up, and Kathleen saw her eyes were brimming with tears. She was only a few years older than Kathleen but looked twice that.

The worry does that to you,
Kathleen thought. “Have you had word?”

Geraldine’s son and husband had both been arrested in August. It had been awful, and Kathleen remembered it well. The soldiers had come in the middle of the night and kicked in the McKennas’ door. The banging and shouting had terrified the children. Both men had been sent to Long Kesh internment camp. With more being rounded up every day, it was a common enough story—one Kathleen wanted no part of. She had troubles enough of her own, and all those years ago when it was rumored that she had run off with a Protestant only to have the man die before the babe was born—wasn’t it the very same Geraldine who’d turned her back? It was right that those who stirred up trouble drew the attention of the BAs. Perhaps breaking into homes was a bit harsh, but terrorism had to be fought. The IRA went too far. Kathleen believed it. Only now it was her Liam the BAs had lifted, wasn’t it?

“Our Michael is sick. A fever. Got the letter this morning.” Geraldine sniffed. “They won’t let me in to see him. I called.”

“I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Kathleen said and upon seeing Geraldine’s distress, regretted her previous uncharitable thoughts. “Probably nothing. A wee cold.”

“My Barney isn’t political, you know. Never has been. So, why is he in prison? All our men. Without so much as a trial. And whatever for? They told us the soldiers were to protect us from the Loyalists. I wish the BAs had never come.”

Hoping to stem the stream of animosity, Kathleen said, “Come by the flat later. We’ll have some tea. It’ll soothe your nerves.”

“Mrs. Foyle told me about your Liam. I’m so sorry.”

The meddling old baggage,
Kathleen thought.
Why couldn’t that woman keep her gob shut for once
? Her Liam wasn’t like the ones that rioted on Aggro Corner. He was a good boy. He didn’t cause trouble—at least, she didn’t think he did.

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