It will be closer to dawn than now before I have my next review and interview up and ready for the blogosphere… so … in the interest of not letting the blog die during Coffin Hop 2011, I’m going to post an excerpt (and work like crazy on the review!) from my barely-edited 2009 NaNo Cut Time. This scene is towards the end. It had the potential of starting out as a bad joke: two seriously dark demons walk into a field …. in this case Creamer’s Field in Fairbanks, Alaska. They’re discussing how they believe it will end ….
The hint of light diffusing softly through the sky tinged the clouds a strange orange purple. Dawn was still several hours away, and the gloom continued to gather across Creamer’s Field. Not ice fog, since a Chinook wind had stolen in overnight and pushed the negative temperatures away,sending the mercury soaring into the upper twenties, but a chill mist that crawled across the ground, swirling through the stands of spruce that dotted the edges of the field where, in a matter of months, the riotous meeting of Canada geese and Sandhill Cranes would herald the beginning of an Interior Spring. Early February. The cacophony of birds in flight was still thousands of miles to the south. No sound. No living thing moved among the trees, through the mist. All quiet. All appeared as it should on a Saturday morning in Fairbanks, Alaska….
No living thing…..
He wore a long black wool coat only because it had been what he was wearing the night before. It wasn’t like he needed it to ward off the cold any longer. He continued down the path through the trees….waiting… pacing… his Hi-Tecs making no sound on the softening snow, his breath no longer warm enough to condense in the winter air. Pacing…waiting…. He cast his eyes down at the snow and stopped abruptly. Before him
lay one of the more curious sights of the morning… a broken walking stick that some unlucky hiker had cast away lay across the path. The handle was intact, but the bottom was a torn and splintered tangle of wood fiber. He knelt and ran a hand across it. He smiled. His hand closed over it as he rose up to his full height. His eyes darted across it, examining it, as he turned it over in his hands….
“You’re looking well,” a low voice cut through the silence behind him, “for a dead man.”
He hesitated. He blinked. He smiled as he felt the darkness seep across his eyes, filling the sockets completely. He had forgotten the feeling of not closing his eyes… of letting the blackness swirl through them…infinitely deep…through infinite darkness.
“And you’re late,” James told him smoothly as he turned, his hands still holding the broken walking stick.
Alan shot James a wicked smile as he stepped closer. “Traffic,” he explained softly with a faint laugh. Alan’s eyes flashed momentarily… red flecked with yellow…the yellow creeping languidly across them.
James smiled. “Of course,” he said quietly.
“How was the hospital?” Alan continued conversationally.
James laughed quietly as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of torn paper. He let the paper fall to the ground. It fluttered before it landed noiselessly in the snow. “Let’s just say I didn’t appreciate the toe-tag,” James said with a smile. Alan laughed quietly. James watched as Alan’s eyes darted around the stand of spruce in which they were standing.
“So,” Alan began easily, and James raised an eyebrow at him, “nearly finished, then?”
“Precisely as we’d planned,” James replied. He hesitated. “I’ve done everything you asked–”
“Everything,” Alan agreed as he stepped still closer. “You’re very nearly there, you know. There to be with your Wisteria.” Alan paused. “I still don’t understand you, though, James. How much easier it would have been to just use Michael–”
James eyed Alan cautiously and chose his next words carefully: “She doesn’t love Michael–”
Alan smiled and nodded. “No,” he said quietly, “she doesn’t. You believe she loves her James…”
“She does,” James replied. He unconsciously began to turn the walking stick over in his hands. “She’ll understand that it was me–” Alan was quiet as he watched the stick turn in James’s hand.
“Really,” Alan started, but James cut across him.
“When she comes to understand the alternative,” James told him.
Alan nodded. “And now all we’re left with is the problem of the others…” His voice trailed away thoughtfully, his eyes flashing a deeper red, the flecks flashing deeper gold as they watched the stick in James’s hands.
“Not so much a problem,” James told him. “They’re merely human–”
Alan eyed James skeptically.
“You don’t agree?”
“I believe one of them is more,” Alan hesitated, his lip curving into a smile, “problematic.”
James stood a little straighter. “You believe Raf is more problematic,” he said simply. “He’s human, Alan, and therefore of no consequence. I’m sure you could kill him in your sleep—“
Alan flashed him another wicked smile. “Interesting choice of words, Dr. McCallom.”
“I know how you think,” James’s voice dropped to a deadly whisper. “And how you like to kill—“
Alan hesitated and smiled again. “As if I could keep any secrets from you…”
James stood up a little straighter as Alan moved closer to him. “I know about Drew,” James started. He hesitated. “And Evan…”
Alan stopped. “Evan,” he said lowly, the color of his eyes changing to darkest scarlet, the yellow in them changing to the brightest burnished gold, “was unlike anything I have ever encountered, James.” Alan smiled. “He knew, you know,” his voice dropped precipitously as he said it. James tried not to flinch as Alan drew nearer, his face inches from James’s face; he could feel Alan’s breath against his cheek. “Can you imagine? It was pure pleasure that drained my inclination to kill him. His body was like a drug to me, James. I could never have enough—I always craved more,” he whispered. Alan’s mouth twitched into a smile that quickly faded. “And in return, I gave Evan everything he desired,” Alan breathed. He laughed softly. “More lover than victim, at least, until that night. I believed it was my error—that he saw my eyes.”
James said nothing.
“My error was in believing that he did not know, James. Evan’s eyes shining when I
unsheathed the blades. That smile. There was no fear—even when I allowed him to
see my true form. When Alan fell away and he saw what I am. No fear. So rare in a human, and I wondered as I descended on him, just what he was.” Alan was silent for a moment. “And do you know what he did at the end?” Alan did not wait for James to answer. James started as Alan slipped his arms around him. “He laughed,” Alan told him, the gold moving through the red of his eyes more rapidly. Alan’s eyes slowly closed, his lips nearly brushing James’s lips. Alan sighed. “And then he simply said,
‘please.’” Alan dug his fingers sharply into James’s waist as he gently pressed his lips to James’s. Alan smiled as he drew back slightly. “So, I sliced him to ribbons in our bed. And when the sheets were soaked in his blood, I devoured him…. So he is always with me,” Alan’s voice dropped to a whisper. “Unlike anything I had ever encountered, James. The one killing I regret…”
James pulled back quickly from Alan’s embrace and backed away. Alan laughed quietly as he let James go. “Fascinating,” James said, eyeing Alan warily.
“I wonder,” Alan started quietly, still watching the walking stick move nervously through James’s fingers, “if Wisteria makes that request, what will you do, James?”
James bristled visibly. “She won’t,” he said almost defiantly, his hand gripping the stick tightly, no longer twirling it. Alan sensed the change in James.
“Are you arming yourself against me? Alan asked suddenly, his eyes falling on the walking stick. James’s eyes followed them. “After all I’ve done for you? After all I will do for you—to ensure you and your Wisteria are together forever? “ Alan took another step toward James. “I admit,” he said softly, “I’m disappointed.”
James’s grip on the stick tightened momentarily before he tossed it aside into the undergrowth. “Now,” James started smoothly, regaining his composure. “Why would I need a thing like that?”
Alan looked at his watch. “Nearly 8 am, James,” he said in a cast off sort of way. “You must be hungry.” Alan shot him another wicked smile. “Breakfast?”
James’s lip curled into a wry smile.
“Coffee?” Alan ventured.
James continued to smile and say nothing.
“We’ve hours until we’re to be there,” Alan told him. Alan watched as James stuffed his hands into his coat pockets. “What is it?”
“You’re doubtful… about Raf,” James replied, his hand fumbling with a set of keys in his pocket.
“Not merely human,” Alan told him with a shrug. “There’s something else there… lingering…” Alan watched as James pulled a set of lab keys from his coat pocket. “Better to possess him and use him, James. That would be the far easier path.” Alan watched James turn the keys over in his hand.
“No,” James said to the keys in his hand. “Not him. Never him. He dies today.”
“She won’t kill him, you know,” Alan said. James shook his head.
“She will,” James replied absentmindedly as he looked down at the keys in his hand. The final vestiges of a former life, cold and sharp against his palm. He sighed.
“She wouldn’t kill him when you gave her a chance earlier,” Alan reasoned.
James’s hand closed around the now-useless keys. He flung the keys away from him, into the woods before turning to Alan and smiling. “She will,” he continued. “I can guarantee it……”
COFFIN HOP 2011 CONTINUES!