Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Wednesday Snippets Will Not Die

I'll admit that work on In Cold Blood isn't going as fast as I'd like. Real life has been busy and a tiny bit stressful, insofar as Remic's Grotesque Bulge and Kyle's on-again-off-again back surgery goes. This past weekend I was working on edits for NIGHT AND CHAOS, and I think generally speaking I'm just a bit burned out. Balancing my writing goals with my day job and Common Brimstone can be tricky to say the least, and I think I'm approaching the point where I need a holiday from one thing or the other.

Last June I shut Common Brimstone for a couple of weeks, and I'm probably going to do the same this June, too, especially since I potentially have two books coming out that month. Hopefully the timings will work out so that I can finish In Cold Blood in June, if I haven't already.

Anyway! I am still beavering away on it, and I offer you proof. Enjoy!

Night fell and the she-wolf was restless. The inky sky was perfectly clear and full of stars, promising frost in the morning. Distant owl calls and the rustle of the cool wind through the heather were the only sounds. She sat at the mouth of her cave, watching the stars pass her by, and tried to ignore the itching under her skin. There was no point hunting, not when she had a deer carcass stowed away in the cave, but she longed to hunt anyway. To push her body, work her muscles, exhaust her senses.

The tiny human voice in the back of her head told her she was worried about something, and that exercise would burn away the worries. The bigger, louder, wolf-voice only knew it would feel good to run tonight, better than sitting here, better than waiting for…something. She didn’t know what she was waiting for, but she knew her water still tasted faintly of sweet rot, and she knew the night was too quiet. The small prey she was used to hearing were all silent. Her presence alone wasn’t enough to drive creatures like mice and voles into hiding. Even the constant swooping of the owls didn’t deter them from their busy nocturnal chores, normally. But tonight her territory felt abandoned and she felt…uneasy.

That human voice spoke up again. You want to make sure there’s still life out there.

The she-wolf didn’t mull on that. It wasn’t in a wolf’s nature to be philosophical. The thought was fleeting and it slid away, leaving behind simply that wolfish notion that she wanted to hunt.

She stood and stretched with a whine. She lapped at the icy water, pleased to note she could barely detect the sweet rot at all now, and then she set off. With no quarry in mind, at first she ran for the pure joy of movement, and soon left her little den behind as she broke onto the open moors. The further from her den she ran, the more the night came back to life. The yips of foxes melded with the gurgling of water, and the owls’ cries were closer. Underfoot and all around, tiny animals scattered in her wake. The soft swish of bat and bird wings echoed on the wind. The she-wolf grinned, her uneasiness fading until she could no longer remember what had caused it in the first place.

With her head clear of any lingering, too-human worries, she stopped running and flopped down in a patch of heather to catch her breath. Steep, craggy cliffs loomed to her left, covered with drifts of dead leaves. Higher up the cliffs, in the summer, she’d found sheep grazing on the rough grasses. They were delicious and stupid, far too easy to catch, but she’d resisted them. That human voice had scolded her for the very notion, and she’d remembered barns filled with hay bales and the sweet bleating of lambs. She’d left the sheep alone, but it was a relief when they disappeared as summer changed to autumn, removing the temptation.

The cliff was pockmarked with caves, deep and shallow. She’d explored them when she first reached the moors, and scent-marked one or two as potential dens before she found her spot by the stream. She watched now as bats darted out of the cave mouths in a vast, chittering swarm. Their tiny bodies were soon invisible in the darkness, and she knew the image of them shouldn’t stick with her, but something about the sight brought her disquiet creeping back. It wasn’t the bats themselves, but the sheer number of them, and the fact they were all leaving. She was used to watching them flit back and forth tirelessly, but this was more like…

An evacuation, her human voice suggested.

The she-wolf whined and rolled to her feet. A tug-of-war ensued in her head, her human-self curious, her wolf-self reluctant, and her body seemed to move despite itself. She didn’t like listening to the human voice. She didn’t trust it’s judgement. That why she’d been a wolf so long, after all, because being human was difficult and painful, and completely avoidable. And she knew, with a prescience that wasn’t remotely wolfish, that she’d regret going into those caves.

And yet she did it anyway. 

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