Rites of Passage

Rites of Passage by Annie Reed Read Free Book Online

Book: Rites of Passage by Annie Reed Read Free Book Online
Authors: Annie Reed
Tags: Fiction
    The creep sat crouched in the far corner of the abandoned processing plant smoking a cigarette. The tip flickered orange in the hulking dark, one small spot of smoldering warmth in the damp cold of a waterfront night.
    Finn had given up cigarettes decades ago, but the old longing stole over him like it always did.
    One more smoke for old time’s sake, what could it hurt? He wanted the comfort of a lit cigarette held loosely between his index and middle fingers. The taste as the smoke rolled across his tongue. Wanted to feel the kind of heat that would fill his lungs over and over again until it killed him. Eventually.
    The creep would give Finn a cigarette if he asked.
    Creeps would give him anything if they thought Finn would let them live.
    To his left, a wharf rat the size of an alley cat scuttled along the base of the plant’s rust-stained concrete wall. The rat disappeared beneath a drift of trash, and insistent squeaks erupted from the garbage.
    Finn could barely hear the rat’s babies over the passing thrum of a heavy bass beat. A car sped past the front of the processing plant, fleeing a neighborhood no one should be driving through at this time of night.
    The creep ignored the wharf rat. It sat on its scaly haunches, wings tucked in behind its back, blowing smoke out through its nostrils and making a show of ignoring Finn.
    So that’s the way the creep wanted to play it. Fine. Finn could play along.
    For now.
    He took a few more steps inside the processing plant, peering into the darkness for the first hints of eerie green light that would signal where the creep planned to bring its master into this world.
    On another long ago night Finn had tracked a different creep to this building. Back then the processing plant had still been in operation. During the daylight hours, trucks loaded down with fish from the docks disgorged their cargo near where Finn now stood. Conveyor belts had carried the fish down the processing line where they were gutted and beheaded before they were processed for sale.
    But once the sun set, the workers had gone home to their families. The few people left walking the street shivered when they passed the plant’s battered exterior, no doubt imagining that the darkened windows along its sides were malevolent eyes that watched them hungrily.
    They weren’t far from wrong.
    That night Finn had spotted a faint green light from outside the building. The creep had made no effort to hide what it was doing inside.
    Finn had been much younger then. Maybe the creep had thought he would turn tail and run.
    That was something Finn would never do. He knew what was at stake.
    The creeps didn’t belong to this world. They had been sent here to prepare the way for the invasion of Finn’s world by their masters, massive monsters who would devour everything and everyone in their path.
    The creeps had only one job—create a portal in this world, an anchor for one end of the passageway their masters used to invade new worlds.
    Finn’s job, and the job of others like him, was to stop them.
    The only way to stop them was to kill them. Killing them interrupted the flow of dark magic the creeps used to fuel the portal.
    And the only way to kill them was to cut off their heads.
    The green light Finn had seen from outside the building signaled a location where the border between worlds was the thinnest, but the green light was only visible once a creep had started working on the portal. Even then, only a select few could see it.
    Finn could. It was the first reason Finn had been chosen for this job.
    But it was only one reason.
    The creep that night had been crafty and more powerful than any creep Finn had encountered before. Instead of starting one portal, it was creating dozens.
    Dozens of possible entry points, each one nearly complete.
    Dozens of possible places where a monster could enter Finn’s world.
    The tactic had nearly worked.
    Distracted by the sheer number of portals,

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