Friday, January 29, 2010
In a little over a week, Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between releases at Eternal Press! As I promised last week, here is another excerpt from the story.
We rounded the corner in front of Beny’s Jewelry and I stopped. Goose kept walking, unaware that I saw something. A few steps ahead, and he whipped around, confusion changing to excitement. But I wasn’t paying attention to Goose, eyes drawn to someone else.
He stared at me just as I stared at him. His thick hair was dark, his skin barely transparent, and his eyes were the most amazing shade of green I had ever seen. He approached me, and unlike all the times before when I’d walk away, or turn in the other direction, I allowed him to.
“What do you see?” Goose asked anxiously.
“Gorgeous guy, in his thirties maybe, with dark hair and the most vivid green eyes.” My words were hoarse, my voice detached.
“Green eyes, that’s him!” Goose took my hand. The contact made me jump, but I didn’t break it. A strange undercurrent passed between us, a tiny vibration. He was silent a few seconds, then squeezed my fingers in a crushing grip. “My God, you can see them.”
I tore my gaze away from Baxter to stare at Goose. His eyes were wide in awe and wonderment.
“How do you see him now when you couldn’t before?”
“Your necromancy. You’re sharing it with me through physical contact.”
My attention returned to Baxter. His long white sleeves were covered in blood, as was his chest, which had been opened wide. The shirt dangled in ripped shreds around his torn flesh. His sternum was cracked, several ribs broken or missing, and his heart was gone, leaving nothing behind but empty red casing.
I swallowed back the bile rising to my throat.
“They took the heart.” Goose sounded repulsed.
“Look at his wrists.” I cringed, fighting nausea. The skin was ragged and raw. I could see white flashes of bone. “He was bound somehow. What kind of object can hold a vampire?”
“Holy ones,” he answered, equally horrified. “Anything blessed, especially silver, can keep them restrained. Once it’s on, they’re powerless.”
Baxter’s arm extended. The ripped skin splayed out as his hand rose palm up into the air.
“Touch him,” Goose instructed, giving me a shove but keeping contact with my right hand.
“Are you fucking insane?” I yelled in disbelief, yanking my hand free and turning on him.
“My attempts to establish contact through other mediums haven’t worked, and I don’t have the ability to communicate with him through physical contact. But you do, so touch him!” Goose explained anxiously. “Hurry up!”
“Oh man,” I whined. This was not what I wanted to do today. His face might be gorgeous, but his body was minced. Baxter was waiting, palm raised. I did the spider dance, extending my hand but pulling it back before we made solid contact.
This shit was beyond disgusting.
I held my breath and went for it, fingers sliding past until our palms touched. My hand molded into his as if he were a solid object. The skin was smooth, fingers long. I looked into his face, and garbled images flashed in my head.
A dark room, the hard concrete floor stained with blood, silver chains and knives, arms bound, cutting skin, breaking bone, unbearable pain, and then nothing. The images shifted. A bedroom painted lilac, white lace curtains, twin beds. Scratchy music from the record player as it skipped over one section and drowned out the muffled begging coming from the next room that turned to tear filled cries…
Yanking my hand free, I started to tremble—mind blank, thoughts incoherent—caught in something worse than my temper could ever be. I was suffocating in blind terror, unable to breathe. I bent at the waist, gagging and dry heaving. Something touched my shoulder, and I reacted defensively, grabbing the hand and twisting at the wrist. I maneuvered the arm around and up, forcing weight into the shoulder joint, pressing down.
“Rhiannon,” Goose screamed in pain. “Calm down! It’s okay!”
At first, I didn’t hear. My blood was pounding too loudly, chest heaving with adrenaline and fear. Slowly, my ears adjusted, and I could hear muted whispers. People were watching cautiously, afraid to intervene but too terrified to look away. Goose lay at my feet, his wrist and hand trapped in mine, forcing him to the ground.
I let go and stepped back, folding my arms to mask my trembling. I struggled to pull my shit together, taking measured breaths. Goose rose on unsteady feet, his white polo stained black from the dirty pavement. His usually tidy hair was uneven and messy around his temples.
“What happened?” he asked calmly, hands lifted harmlessly in the air.
A few witnesses stood around while I collected myself, and realizing the show was over, moved along. I glanced at Baxter. He stood waiting. For what, I had no idea.
After a tense minute, I cleared my throat. My voice came out shaken. “He was alive when they took his heart. He was—fuck, you know what I mean!”
Goose’s eyes widened in alarm. I’ve been around enough people to know spooked when I see it, and he was spooked as hell.
“What?” I barked. I didn’t go through those memories to be left hanging.
“This has black magic written all over it.” He peered at me as he started pacing erratically. “This is not good, not good at all. Harvesting organs while the victim is alive is reminiscent of voodoo magic.”
“You’ve got to be shitting me. Granted, what I’m about to say is very naïve, but voodoo magic? You can’t be serious.”
“How do you think we raise the dead? Do you think that just happens naturally? There’s a structured ritual to follow, and that includes magic. Necromancy is just one of the requirements. Voodoo works the same. There are catalysts to bring forth the magic, but the ritual and powers are still required to make it work.”
“So someone is killing vampires off for their organs? Who would be that stupid?” I was as edgy as hell. The concept of capturing vampires to collect hearts made me sick.
Someone who would willingly go against a force that powerful wouldn’t care if they lived or died.
“We need to go to my office. I need to do some digging and research.” Goose was deep in thought, fingers on his chin rubbing the skin as he contemplated where to start.
“Oh no.” I lifted my hands, stepped back, and shook my head. “I did what I promised. I’m taking my sorry ass home.”
I ran off the sidewalk and across the street. I didn’t stop when Goose asked me to reconsider, and I didn’t look back when he called my name. The constant thuds of my footsteps were the only sounds I cared about as I hauled ass to the L train and went home.