Mercer Returns

The lights in Howard’s Tavern were bright enough to glow blue through the haze of cigarette and other varieties of smoke; but Mercer wouldn’t have needed the house lights to see the man approaching him at the bar. Priests had a way of standing out in a place like this.

Mercer didn’t glance up from his tumbler of Eurasian whiskey. “Ready to try again?”

Father Thomas wore a scabbard strapped to the back of his cassock, and Mercer knew the holy man wouldn’t think twice about whipping out his katana in here, before God and everybody—just the one-eyed barkeep and a pair of homeless codgers savoring the bottles they’d splurged on after half a day panhandling. Mercer could see it now: his head dropping off to tumble over the side of the bar, his body twitching like a drunk tap dancer while his spirit shook itself free, inconvenienced with the necessity of finding another host, fresh from Death’s door, that would do just as nicely as the fleshbag he currently wore.

Never much fun, that, and dealing with the family relations was even worse.

Thanks to the fine folks at The Red Penny Papers, Mercer the body-hopping phantasmal anti-hero is back. My Write1Sub1 for week #5 last year, this is the fifth Mercer tale to be published (following "The Second Option," "Soul Smuggler," "Mercer's Ghost," and "The Coyote"), and while it's tough to pick favorites, "Abomination of Desolation" just might be the one.

Inspired by news stories of birds falling out of the sky en masse for no apparent reason, "Abomination" finds Mercer and Father Thomas teaming up to rid the earth of a destructive menace: a boy who can shatter bone via psychic energy. (Definitely not the kind of kid I'd want in my classes.)

Thanks for reading!
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