Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Snippet Day!

Hyena reality
Since I signed the contracts for PHANTOM FEARS and UNDERTOW, I've fallen off the writing wagon a bit - but for a positive reason: too many ideas. I've got plans for the next Ethan Banning novel, an Urban Wolf spin-off, a couple of short stories for various anthologies, a return to the third Urban Wolf novel that I started last year, a f/f urban fantasy novella...And I just couldn't decide what to work on. In the end, I decided to just start writing and see what happened.

The piece I finally started was going to be a submission for this anthology, but I already know it's going to rocket past the word limit. I'm really enjoying writing it though, so I'm going to finish it up and see what can be done with it. And since I'm enjoying it, I thought I'd share a teaser with you all. What's it about, you ask? The picture is kind of a clue...

Happy reading!

The Tevershams were the perfect couple. Rich, superstitious, and dripping with gullibility. I’d known that before I even walked through their front door, but if I hadn’t it wouldn’t have taken me long to figure out. There was an old horseshoe nailed into the door frame, rusted, weatherworn, and made from real iron. Iron warded off evil spirits – supposedly – and an upright horseshoe was supposed to gather luck for the homeowners. I liked seeing such a countrified tradition kept alive in a big city like Lacebark. It was so sweet.

Inside the house, the atmosphere was thick with the pressure of restless spirits – but I’d known that already too. Cool air ruffled loose strands of my braided hair as I stepped across the threshold, and the whispers of the departed filled my head. Pleas, threats, cries, croons, they swirled around me, plucking with cold, invisible hands at my coat sleeves. I pushed them away with a mental hand of my own and focused on the Tevershams. Mrs Teversham was toying with a locket round her neck and chewing her lip. Mr Teversham, gaunt and grim, clutched a walking stick as if it was some kind of defence against the phantoms filling his home. They both looked desperately relieved to see me.

If I was a different kind of woman, that might have made me feel guilty.

“Ms Robertson, so good of you to come,” Mr Teversham said, stiff and formal.

“When can you start? What do you need?” Mrs Teversham, full of nerves, rushed towards me with grasping hands and I fought the urge to step back. Instead I painted on a compassionate smile and took her hands in my own, squeezing them gently.

“Why don’t we get comfortable and have a chat first?” I suggested. “Before I can decide how to proceed, I need the facts.”

“Your assistant took quite detailed notes on her visit,” Mr Teversham said as his wife started tugging me down the hall. “Don’t you have the facts already?”

“It’s one thing to have someone else’s notes,” I said, letting myself be dragged. “It’s another to experience it for yourself. I’m a very sensitive psychic, Mr Teversham, and I knew before you opened the door that your home is possessed. But deciding which ritual will be most effective for exorcising it is a complex process.”

“Of course,” Mrs Teversham said. She all but pushed me into a plush lounge that would have been beautiful if it weren’t haunted. A crying girl sat in the pale marble fireplace; a man swung from ceiling beams that were no longer there, neck snapped at a sharp angle. His ghost moaned, low and pained. The Tevershams probably couldn’t hear that, but they would feel something. Something deep in their bones knew that death lingered here and the knowledge would leave them restless, paranoid, and always chilled.

The ghosts’ presence, and the cold it brought, permeated the tasteful room and turned it from a place of comfort and indulgence to a psychic nightmare. I gave a mental flick to the girl and sent her running through the wall. The hanged man stared at me, his eyes deep, black pits of despair. He’d been handsome in life, and far too young for such an end. Chestnut curls tumbled artfully around his angular face and his pouting lips must have driven girls and boys alike mad with curiosity. What did they taste like? How did he kiss?

Go away, Archie, I ordered him. Go and play with the electricity or something. Nothing too dramatic.

You never let me do anything dramatic, he complained as he drifted down from the ceiling. His neck straightened and his eyes returned to their usual hazel. If I’d known this job would be so boring, I’d have stayed in my grave.

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