Read Red Devil (Dangerous Spirits) Online

Authors: Kyell Gold

Tags: #furry ghost gay russia

Red Devil (Dangerous Spirits)

BOOK: Red Devil (Dangerous Spirits)
4.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Red Devil

by Kyell Gold

 

This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed within are fictitious.

 

RED DEVIL

 

Copyright 2014 by Kyell Gold

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or

portions thereof, in any form.

 

ISBN 978-0-9857778-5-2

 

Cover and interior art by Rukis

 

Ænigma Scrawl font by Brian Kent (freeware). http://www.aenigmafonts.com/

Gentium font by SIL International (SIL Open Font License). http://scripts.sil.org/gentium

 

Acknowledgments

 

Many thanks to my friend Kougo, who helped with the Russian names and translations and the general feel. Anything that doesn’t ring true is due to my stubbornness or my need to remain consistent with previous books.

 

Note on the usage of “Siberia”

 

In order to make my furry-inhabited universe distinct from our familiar world, I replace place names with older names (
Lutece
for
Paris
, for example) or with names of a small region of the larger place (
Siberia
for
Russia
). This allows people to get a feel for which city or region I am obliquely referring to without saying “this takes place in Russia,” for example. The downside is that people familiar with Russia and its geography may be confused and think I am referring only to our world’s Siberia. I regret this confusion; unfortunately this is one of the aforementioned consistencies with previous books that I must keep in this one. My world’s “Russia” has been already referred to as “Siberia” many times (I suppose that for fairness, I should call the United States the country of “Virginia” or something, but I have established it as the “States”).

 

For the Russian LGBT community

 

любовь-для
мечтателей.

так
что мечтай.

 

 

 

Prologue

 

The first tsars came from the north, fierce tigers with blood on their claws and death in their eyes. They cut into the soft southern lands as easily as they opened the bellies of their prey, and they named the land after their home: Siberia.

For centuries, the wild tigers of the north ruled the empty reaches of the eastern deserts, the western mountains and fertile river valleys, and all the land between. All around them, the savage horses of the steppes, the cunning malaya-pandas of the river valleys to the east, the bloodthirsty wolves of the west, all of these rose to power and shouted challenges or hissed threats. Still the Siberian tigers dug in their claws and held fast to the land while their rivals and neighbors faded and died.

Throughout the world, Siberia’s legend grew; her death-eyed rulers were spoken of in whispers, her soldiers used as bedtime stories to frighten children. Wars flared, revolutions blazed, but Siberia stayed straight and true, the will of the tigers guiding the nation to prosperity. Where people questioned that will or threatened rebellion, the tigers moved quickly and brutally to crush dissent so that none would doubt the divine right that led the tsars to their noble position. For years, that right remained the surest proof of God in a Siberian’s life.

But the softness of the southern lands dulled the claws of the tigers over time, weakened the fire in their eyes. By the time the world celebrated the dawn of the twentieth century, Tsar Nicholas had only enough strength to whine at the incessant politicking in his life, unable to defend himself against the currents of power that coursed around him rather than through him. As the leader of a proud people, he lost the faith and following of all but his most devoted subjects. For the first time in centuries, Siberians looked to the West with envy, and many left their ancestral lands, a journey that would have been unthinkable but a generation before. Had the old emperors—even Nicholas’s own grandfather—survived to see him, they would have gutted him on the spot.

And to think I named my son for him.

Chapter 1

Even in the height of summer in Samorodka, back in his native Siberia, Alexei Tsarev had not panted this hard. He was in better shape than he’d been in years: not underfed like in Samorodka, not gorging on fried chicken and peach and pecan pies like six months ago at his host family’s home. But that didn’t help on a summer day in Vidalia when the humidity thickened the air, made breathing an effort even when the young fox wasn’t running around playing football—no, it was ‘soccer’ here in the States. On defense, he didn’t run as much as the strikers did, but he ran enough that after an hour, he had to rest with his paws on his knees while his muzzle hung open and his tongue dripped onto the grass.

Sol, whose athletic body Alexei envied, panted just as hard. Of course, the black-furred wolf had it worse than the red-furred fox, even with a white shirt and shorts to reflect the sun’s heat. Alexei knew how much warmer his own black paws and feet felt compared to, say, his white-tipped red tail. But Sol didn’t complain, just said, “Good game,” then gulped and panted again. He looked ahead to a thin muskrat in a gold and blue polo shirt, standing with paws in his pockets, watching the game. “I think he’ll be impressed.”

“Hope so.” Alexei appreciated Sol’s support, but still, he didn’t want to go talk to the muskrat with his tongue hanging out. The muskrat’s name was Colin and he played for the Vidalia Peaches, a semi-professional soccer league. If they sponsored Alexei, he could apply for a visa that would allow him to stay in this country indefinitely, so he would wait until he’d recovered his breath and could be bright and friendly.

Mike, the big Dall sheep who played at one of the forward positions, walked up to them with a big smile. “You did great,” he said, patting Alexei on the shoulder, and then he, too, turned toward the muskrat. “Think he’ll be impressed?”

Where Sol spoke with a southern twang that helped him fit in with everyone else in Vidalia, Mike talked with a broad, slightly nasal Midwestern accent—not as out of place as Alexei’s Siberian, but still foreign. Alexei smiled broadly up. “Sol thinks so,” he said.

“I’m gonna get a drink.” Sol raised a paw to Alexei and hurried off to the open cooler on the sideline without even a look at the sheep.

Mike watched him go, big brown eyes creasing. Alexei bit his lip. “I am sorry about Sol. It is not your fault. I have told him to give you a chance. His former boyfriend was a sheep.”

The sheep’s eyes widened, and he nodded slowly. “So that’s it. Well, don’t force him. I know it’s hard.” Mike shook his head, great golden horns swinging from side to side, and brought the smile back to his muzzle. “I mean, my ex is a rabbit, and still when I see a rabbit, my first reaction is, like, ‘I bet you don’t have a real job.’” He laughed shortly. “Then I have to slap myself.”

“It is like me seeing another fox,” Alexei said. “Only backwards. I always feel more comfortable.”

“Oh yeah, they’ve done studies on that.” Mike reached up to scratch the base of his ear, and Alexei got a whiff of his scent, which made it hard to concentrate on the words. “It seems like it’s at least partly based in the family. Like, if a fox was adopted by rabbits, he gets that feeling around rabbits as well as other foxes.”

“What if you are raised in a terrible family?” As Mike’s eyebrows rose, Alexei added quickly, “Like those gay cubs you have told me about.”

“Oh.” He shook his head. “You mean, like, if a rabbit is raised by abusive parents, does he not trust rabbits? I don’t know. That’s a good question, though. I’ll look it up.”

Alexei looked after Sol again. “It was a very bad experience for him.” He realized he was on the verge of revealing something private about Sol, and shut his muzzle.

Mike stood awkwardly for a moment, then forced a smile and said, “Hey, if you go play with the Peaches, does that mean you can’t play these games anymore?”

“I will always come play with you,” Alexei said, though he really had no idea.

“We appreciate it.” Mike stared at the sidelines. “I think Zayda would have to play defense if you left, and Kendall would hate that.”

Alexei stiffened reflexively and then forced himself to relax. “I would not want to upset Kendall,” he said.

Mike either didn’t catch his tone or ignored it. “It’d be worth it—I mean, you could stay in the States without having to worry about your student visa. And without going to those bigots in Millenport. I swear it’s as bad as—well, not Siberia, I guess.”

“No.” Alexei breathed in the sweet, humid air, and exhaled slowly. “It is not as bad as being gay in Siberia.”

It was still a marvel to him that he could stand out in a public space and say the word ‘gay,’ and that Mike—everyone on their team, of course—was also gay. It was incredible that Alexei was standing here talking to him and wishing Mike would have left that big hand on his shoulders a little longer, that the brown eyes would stay focused on him just a little more. Warmth spread through his chest.
Ask him now
, he urged himself.

“You could always go to Port City,” Mike said, and rubbed his head. “They’re pretty good with Siberian immigrants. You’d have to stay there for about six months while they process you, though. We’d miss you back here.”

Now!
His mind yelled at him in Siberian, but what if Mike didn’t want to go out with him? What if he just liked Alexei as a friend? What about all the time he spent with Kendall? All the fox managed to say was, “I would miss you, too.” Sometimes English, with its unspecific ‘you,’ was a curse.

“How’s your sister doing? Any word from her?”

Alexei shook his head. “I have written her twice, and sent her my new address here.”

Mike nodded. “Maybe she’s on her way over?”

The fox smiled thinly. “I would like to dream that. But I think it is more likely that our father does not allow her to write. She graduated a month ago and she always wrote me from school.”

“I can’t believe he won’t let her call.” Mike held up a hand. “No matter what they think of you leaving…but I know, parents aren’t rational.”

“I wish I had your parents,” Alexei said, because he did not want to tell Mike about his father breaking the phone and nearly breaking Caterina’s arm. “I would never have left.”

Mike laughed, and his eyes lit up when he did. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe with your thick fur you’d be okay in Hilltown, but the food there is terrible.” His smile retreated slightly. “Is it so bad in Siberia?”

“Siberia, no.” Alexei sighed. “Moskva is lovely, the hills are beautiful, and the river and the flowers around my town—”

“Somoroka?”

“Samorodka.” He smiled. “There are many kind people. Just…not in my house. I worry about Cat.”

“My older brother worries about me, too.” Mike’s smile was fond, slightly sad, and his eyes focused somewhere far off. “He keeps asking if I’m staying safe.”

“He knows about…?” Alexei gestured to the field, the team.

“That I play soccer?” Mike laughed, his attention returning to Alexei. “Just kidding. Yeah, he knows I’m gay. My whole family is pretty supportive.”

“I cannot imagine that,” Alexei said wistfully.

The sheep paused, but didn’t let the silence go on for long. “Oh, my brother—younger brother—sent me some MP3s of his metal band. Did you want to trade for your Siberian death metal? I can’t wait to hear it.”

“I would like to hear your brother’s band, but…you could find Siberian metal on the Internet.” Alexei did not particularly want to listen to his Siberian metal anymore, but Stateside metal was different, more comical.

“Yeah, but I don’t know what’s good. I want to hear the stuff you like.”

The warmth of Mike’s smile overcame any reluctance he had to revisit his childhood music. “All right,” he said with a smile.

“Cool. I’ll bring them to Jerry’s barbecue Saturday. You guys are coming, right?”

The fox nodded.
Let’s listen to them together sometime. Let’s get a cup of coffee. Let’s have dinner.

He opened his muzzle, and just then a slender pine marten jogged up and slapped Mike on the rear. “Mikey boy! Come meet Colin.”

Alexei’s ears flattened. Mike elbowed the marten lightly. “We were waiting for you, Kendall.”

Kendall wrapped an arm around Mike’s waist and squeezed. “Come on, then.” He glanced across Mike at Alexei, both of them half a foot shorter than the sheep. “You too, dear. Don’t worry, he won’t care about your English, but if you want, I can talk for you.”

“I can speak for myself,” Alexei said tightly, trying not to look at Kendall’s brown paw on Mike’s red athletic shorts. “And my name is Alexei.”

“Pity he’s not trying to recruit you,” Kendall said up to Mike. “You’re stunning.” After a slight pause, he added with a sly grin, “And you played pretty well, too.”

Alexei clamped his jaw shut, lagging behind the other two. “You were pretty good yourself,” Mike said as they approached the muskrat, who lifted his whiskers and smiled. Kendall’s arm slid off Mike’s waist.

“Not too bad, K,” Colin said. “I thought for a minute you were going to let that raccoon waddle past you with the ball.”

Kendall affected a laugh with a pretentious toss of his pointy muzzle. “We were up three-nil, and he was trying so hard. I thought about it.”

“Hi,” Alexei said, and as soon as his muzzle opened, he was panting again. With an effort, he closed his mouth and smiled. “Thank you for coming.”

The muskrat turned away from Kendall. Alexei could see the embroidered logo on his shirt more clearly now: a cartoon peach kicking a football—soccer ball. “Sure. Alex, is it?”

“Alexei,” the fox said as Sol came up beside him, holding a Bolt Energy Drink in one paw. “This is Sol.”

Colin’s eyes flicked back and forth between them, and his whiskers twitched. “Okay. You’re the one who needs the visa, though?” Alexei nodded. “Good. Well, we’re in the middle of the season and we don’t normally do tryouts, but you’ve got a deadline or something?”

“My student visa is only valid for three months after graduation.”

“We graduated the first week of June,” Sol put in. “Almost a month ago.”

Kendall stretched, showing off his lean, sinuous form with his back to Alexei, his chest and stomach and smile toward Mike. The damp shirt clung to his muscles, which wasn’t fair at all. The marten sweated and it made him look good; Alexei’s tongue hung out and it made him feel awkward. He focused on Mike, who had muscles he didn’t need to show off.

“…be a little more aggressive,” Colin said. Alexei’s ears snapped forward; the muskrat was talking to him. “I know it was just a community game—”

“Yeah,” Kendall said, relaxing out of his stretch and leaning up against Mike. “You guys don’t ever have to stop a game when four armadillo kits roll out onto the field, do you?”

The muskrat laughed, and kept talking to Alexei. “But you hang back a lot, waiting for the play to come to you. If you can show some more movement…”

Of course, he would list off all the things Alexei was doing wrong right in front of Mike. Frozen, the fox nodded without opening his muzzle, fighting back the urge to flatten his ears and tighten his tail.

Sol jumped in. “We’re playing a college team in two weeks, Vidalia College or something. They’re probably better.” They all looked at him. “And, uh, Alexei’ll do better against them. That’s what I mean.”

“I might actually get to make a pretty good save or two, too,” Kendall said. He might not have his arm on Mike’s waist, but he was still standing close, closer than most same-sex friends would normally stand. Sure, most of the people around were in the Vidalia Lesbian and Gay Alliance, but they were still in a public park, Alexei thought.

The muskrat turned back toward Alexei and Sol. “You guys aren’t playing next week?”

“Westside Insurance.” Kendall laughed and leaned his whole body into Mike. “I bet the big guy here outscores their whole team by himself.”

“All right,” Colin said to Alexei. “I’ll bring Vic to that game in a couple weeks, and we’ll see how it goes. You got good footwork, and you could help the team.”

Sol clapped the fox on the back and said, “Good footwork!”

“Yeah, I’ve helped him out a lot.” Kendall had his chin out, chest puffed up. “He’s got a lot of potential. Say, if you guys need a backup goalie for the playoffs, I’m free…”

Alexei’s paws scuffed the dirt. Between his father’s house and the dam in Samorodka stretched a long dirt path along which Alexei had spent countless hours kicking an old, grimy football. His feet remembered the feel of a ball, and the years of practicing along the path, away from the eyes of the other cubs, had worn themselves into his reflexes. In the States, he had found arcade dancing games, and he and Sol enjoyed playing them. But the training in Samorodka felt primitive, the dancing game juvenile, so Alexei hoped the muskrat wouldn’t ask further about his footwork, even though it would give him the chance to say that Kendall had done nothing to help him, which he itched to do. He forced a smile. “Thank you very much.”

Fortunately, Colin didn’t follow up. “Glad to help out a friend.” The muskrat turned from him to smile at Kendall.

Alexei looked over to see if Mike had noticed the muskrat’s praise of him, but the sheep was smiling at Kendall, too. “So, if we bring you on the team,” Colin added, “that would be enough to qualify you for a new visa?”

The fox nodded. “Liza says so.” He gestured to a bright white ermine standing farther down the sidelines, talking to a rabbit and a red squirrel.

Kendall laughed as they all turned. “Those are the ‘L’s in our VLGA family.”

The muskrat brushed his whiskers back, squinting at the ladies with a hungry look. The ladies were pretty, Liza especially, but Alexei wondered if Colin realized what the ‘L’ stood for, and how uninterested Liza and Alice would be in him. After that first look, though, the muskrat just twitched his thin tail and returned his attention to Alexei. “Well,” he said, “we won’t sign you if you’re not qualified, you know. But you looked pretty good. You guys go for beer after games?”

“Sure,” Kendall said.

“Alexei and I are underage,” Sol put in.

The pine marten laughed. “So what? We can go to my local bar. If you’re with me, they won’t card you.”

BOOK: Red Devil (Dangerous Spirits)
4.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Ghostly Hideaway by Doris Hale Sanders
Brenton Brown by Alex Wheatle
The Alpine Recluse by Mary Daheim
All That Glitters by V. C. Andrews
Unexpected Mr. Right by Kelley Nyrae
Maigret Gets Angry by Georges Simenon
Down in The Bottomlands by Harry Turtledove, L. Sprague de Camp