Chapter Four (first draft)

Standard

This is my first draft of Hunters Chapter Four for comparison, and for an example of the extent of changes during the editing process.

Again, still in present tense, and I added conflict and sexual tension in future drafts. You can check out the current version of Chapter Four here.

Back to Hunters

Back to WilliamReidLit.com

 

Chapter Four

The Cursed

 

I say I’m going to kill Sebastian Essex. I really mean I’ll try. Not only am I still beat to shit from the club fight, but Sebastian has at least two centuries on me. For the Cursed, age means power, and it’s going to be a bitch if it comes down to a fight.

Lucky Sebastian was never much of a fighter. Might mess up his suit.

My puke-green Mercury Montego is twice as old as the college-aged valet that has to park it, and looks twice as shitty in front of Millenium Towers, where base-floor studios go for a million. The hundred I hand the kid doesn’t soften the horror on his face. Maybe he’ll at least get a contact high from the coke Gordon snorted with it.

I disguise my limp as best I can as I walk across the lobby to the bank of elevators. Mirrors and brushed steel abound, and I can’t risk staying down here. The staff are too fixated on my bruises, ripped clothing and splattered blood to notice my lack of reflection anyway.

“Can I help you, miss?” The clerk asks. His voice cracks on the last word.

“Sebastian Essex,” I say, punching the elevator button. The doors slide open in seconds.

“He’s on the-”

“Top floor, I’d guess.”

“But he has to buzz you in!”

“He will.”

The closing doors cut off any reply.

I pound the button for the 35th floor and wait. The monitor above the panel shows the video feed from inside the elevator, empty.

The speaker clicks and buzzes. The elevator rumbles to life. There is no preamble, no questions. Sebastian would know exactly who the cameras weren’t showing.

The doors open onto a dim penthouse. The wall of windows looks out over the glittering sea of downtown Seattle, limning in silver the modern lines and sweeping curves of the room’s embellishments. Leather couches and recliners face a cold hearth. No artwork, no plants, no color but black and white. Even the granite, appliances and tile in the overlooking kitchen lack any disrupting shade.

Two lean, wiry bodyguards, clean shaven and angular, flank the elevator. Both step forward as I enter, one holding a metal detector wand. I’m used to some level of desire shadowing eyes that look upon me. Both of them stare with numb, lifeless eyes.

“The hand comes off with that thing,” I say, without looking at the one with the metal detector.

Both guards pause at my tone, and shoot blank glances toward the living area.

A flare of red – the tip of a cigarette – winks to life in the shadows.

“Tricia Fucking Priest,” Sebastian Essex says, proper British laid thick over his words. “Already threatening to remove limbs. You’’ve been in America too long.”

“So have you.”

“No shit. Please, be a dear. They’re only doing their vertical jobs.”

I glare the two monkeys away, then slide my twin kukri from their sheaths and drop them on to the countertop. The machine pistol next, then the pistol shotgun, knife, and phosphorescent grenades. Each lands in the pile with a satisfying clang.

“Christ. You are a Yankee now.” The cigarette tip floats across darkness as Sebastian steps into the light.

Sebastian Essex may have been black in life, I never asked. The ages have scoured all color from his skin save alabaster and pale lead. His one eye shines dark as he regards me, his other covered by an eye patch. His black dreadlocks cascade to his shoulders. His matching goatee frames his gray lips. A golden coin, its markings the dead orange of burning coals, is tucked snugly in one ear.

I make a show of looking around the penthouse. “Nice place.”

“Isn’t it. It will do, I suppose. I refuse to live in squalor while in this shithole of a hemisphere.” He makes a slow, appraising circle around me. My gaze doesn’’t follow him. “You’re still the ray of fucking sunshine I remember.”

“And you’re still an asshole.”

“With the same ten word vocabulary.” He takes another pull from his black Sobranie cigarette, lets the pale smoke slither from his lips. His eye lingers on my bruises, the blood on my clothes. “I thought Seattle was a haven of tranquility. Only you could manage to get into a fight here.”

“I just had a metric fuckton of shit kicked out of me by an Andrasi.”

“What’s the standard conversion for that?”

“Fuck you.”

“I figured even pack demons would stay clear of you.”

“They came after me because you’re here.”

“Well, if you need a topper, feel free to take one of my guards. They’re shit outside of bed anyway.” He chuckles. “Speaking of, how long has it been since you’ve enjoyed a proper fuck?”

Our eyes meet, and his domination scrapes my mind. Raw desire, incubus and succubus fucking each other mercilessly, two Cursed the incarnation of desire unleashing our passions on each other. I feel jealousy swallow the two bodyguards. They can feel the temptation flaring between us. Even without Sebastian’s attempt to dominate my will, the seduction of demonic sex is luxurious.

I don’t move.

He lets out a one-breath laugh. “I see you haven’t let your mental guards slack.” His eye drops to the cross around my neck. ““I suppose our Curse doesn’t allow us to change much over the years, does it?”

Less than ten minutes and I’m already done with him. “Why are you checking up on me?”

Again he studies me. “You don’t know, do you?”

“Know what?”

“Tricia, Tricia, Tricia. I don’t give a fuck about you.”

I can’t keep the surprise from my voice. “I’m the only Cursed in this city you’d care about.”

“You’ve gained American arrogance, too. You are a blunt instrument, Tricia. A pretty one, but no great mystery. The only way you could garner my attention is if you fucked the entire city into submission. Which, let’s be honest, would take even you awhile.”

I stare at him. “Then why are you here?”

“Because,” he says, taking another drag from his Sobranie, “Hinge is here.”

Holy fuck.

I snap invisible out of reflex. My senses lash out around the condo, hunting for the presence of my former master.

Sebastian breaks out in laughter. “He still makes you jump, doesn’t he?” He sweeps his hand in the direction of the windows. ““I meant in the city. Even I have difficulty feeling his presence.”

I slip back into visibility. “What is he doing here?” The panic in my voice is humiliating.

“That should be obvious, even to a blunt instrument.”

I grind my teeth together. “Me.”

“The prodigal daughter. You didn’t think he would just leave you alone, did you?”

“I’d hoped.” It has been almost a century.

“Hinge has many irritating qualities, but the most vexing is his patience. Which seems to go against his typical batshit insanity.”

I bite my lip, watch Sebastian’s face. His expression betrays no thought or emotion, but I can feel it. “You’re scared of him.””

His gaze narrows. He turns away from me, walking back toward the leather recliner. “You would know he’s the scourge of all Cursed in Europe if you had any way to find out.”

“How’s he a threat to other Cursed?”

“He’s eating them.”

My open shock renders my long-practiced mental guards irrelevant. “You can consume other Cursed? Is that possible?”

“Christ, you live in the wild Goddamn west out here.” He rests his elbows on the armrests and steeples his hands as if giving a lecture. “You get old enough, mortal souls no longer sustain you. So you start feeding off other Cursed. Hinge is ahead of the curve by several centuries. We usually don’t worry until someone hits a millennium.”

“‘We?’”

“When a Cursed goes off the rails, the most powerful of us organize to stop them. The one time Cursed of all types can get our shit together.”

It’s my turn to laugh. “You’re what, three centuries old? There were Cursed older than you… and Hinge… in Europe. Victorian. The Roman. Why aren’t they dealing with him?”

“Hinge has consumed them.”

“Fuck.”

“That’s an understatement. No one noticed what he was doing until he ate Victorian. These days, even a mildly content Hinge is a disaster of biblical fucking proportions.”

My head swims. “How powerful is he now?”

“Powerful enough that mortals don’t even remember him when they see him. He can rewrite the memories of newly Cursed with impunity.”

 “That was always his gift,” I say. “Probably how he got away with eating those elders from under your noses.”

“Slow down there. You keep thinking, your brain will fucking explode.”

I glare at him. “I came here ready to destroy you. I still might. Don’t treat me like an idiot.”

Sebastian lets a cloud of smoke stream from his lips. “No, you are definitely not an idiot.”

“How did he manage to destroy elders? He’s barely half Victorian’s age.”

“Never underestimate the power of a Cursed who Descended.”

“Hinge Descended.” It’s as much a statement as a question.

Sebastian rolls his eye. “He told you fuckall about anything, didn’t he? No one made him. He was fucked up enough as an inquisitor to become Cursed all on his own.” He points his cigarette at the cross around my neck. “He must still have some Catholic guilt knocking around somewhere for that thing to work.”

“Which means his age means nothing,” I breathe.

“Not nothing. If someone Descends, I assume their age is doubled.” The corner of his mouth curls. “And I’m conservative.”

“So you came here to try to destroy him. Alone.”

“Fuck no. I’m here to watch him.”

“Really. And leave me out there as bait.”

Sebastian shrugs without answering.

I run my hand through my hair. I never expected Hinge to give a shit about me, much less come after me. My brain scampered through the facts I knew, assuming Sebastian wasn’t feeding me utter bullshit.

“There have to be other Cursed that could stop him. One Memnonite would do the trick. Hell, look what one Andrasi did to me. A pack would rip him to shreds.”

Sebastian shakes his head. “Beings fuck for lust. They also fuck for pride. They fuck for greed. For envy. For gluttony. For wrath. A powerful lust Cursed will take any other Cursed with ease. It’s hard for a Memnonite to fight through an orgasm so powerful it would turn a mortal’’s brain to mush.”

“What am I supposed to do about Hinge, then?” I turn to the countertop and start re-stowing my weapons. The bodyguards both start, but retreat further when they sense my fury.

“I don’t give a shit. Ignore him, fight him, fuck him, it makes no difference. I’m only here to see what he does about you.””

I hold the kukri in my hands, feeling their weight, balance. I imagine Sebastian’s head flying off his shoulders.

I gasp and force the sudden building orgasm down. My hands tighten on the kukri as I steady my breath.

“That’s just a taste of what Hinge can do,” Sebastian says.

“Thanks for the help,” I growl, and sheathe the kukri under my jacket. “You’re still an asshole.”

“Tricia,” Sebastian says. I turn to him in surprise. For a second, his voice holds a note of concern. “Don’t trust any memories of your time with him. There’s no telling how long he’s been fucking with all of us.”

“Hopefully that means my past is a lie.”

“Oh, no. You were a murdering, stark-raving bitch. You still have to seek forgiveness for that.”

I can hear the mockery in his tone.

“Stay out of my way, Sebastian.”

“No worries. I plan to.”

I can’t even muster a retort. I spin on my heels and pound the elevator button.

“But if I did want to get in your way,” Sebastian said from behind me, “I’d probably start with your friend, the good pastor.”

Anger again swells at my vulnerability – Sebastian has laid bare how out of practice I am – but fear sweeps it aside. Sebastian isn’t the one who wants to fuck with me.

I bolt into the elevator and try to will it to plummet to the lobby. Descended or not, Hinge will pay if he has touched Pastor Tom.

 

Chapter Three (first draft)

Standard

This is my first draft of Hunters Chapter Three for comparison, and for an example of the extent of changes during the editing process.

As the first introduction to Garrison, I felt it started too slowly. I also added an additional Cursed to deal with in future drafts to better show the difference between types of Cursed. You can check out the current version of Chapter Three here.

Back to Hunters

Back to WilliamReidLit.com

Chapter Three

The Telepath

 

The worn flask felt warm and comfortable in my gloved hands. It had been my constant companion through miles and years and wars, and my fingers traced the stories held in every dent. The vodka within, just as warm and comfortable, but the past dimmed with each swallow, an amnesia as fleeting as the heat it brought. Watered down, the vodka aroused my thirst more than quenched it. Still I stopped while it remained half full. Even the predawn cold and the sour bromide aftertaste on my tongue couldn’t justify draining it.

I knew I would need the rest once I was done here.

A patina of ice glittered over the bronze R on the carved double doors in front of me. I pulled my coat tighter around my throat and shivered in the chill. Rough cement lions, covered by a carpet of frost-brittle leaves, flanked the long low steps leading to the doors. I knew from Lilly that a multitude of entrances existed to the upstate manor, but all were heavily secured. Not unbreakable, but a time waster. Better to be welcomed in.

The doors swung open. I couldn’t see what lay past the hulking man who opened them. Eduardo. His bleached hair and eyebrows made his mahogany skin all the darker. Tattoos peeked from under his collar and cuffs. He moved with a deliberate grace that belied his size, of a height with me but with fifty pounds more muscle.

“Mister Decker,” he said, in a voice an octave higher than I expected. “Lady Rothchild isn’t expecting you.”

Brazilian accent, which explained the capoeira training. Eduardo was not employed based on any butlery skill. I plucked other details – number and general location of security, basic layout – that were on the surface of his thoughts in case I caused problems.

I smiled and took off my cap. I felt steam curl off my bald scalp. “I’m sorry to call so early, but can I speak with Lilly? It’s urgent.””

“Lady Rothchild does not entertain visitors without an appointment, even at a sensible hour,” Eduardo said. His mind blossomed with images of the doors to Lilly’s study. He had never been inside, but she was there now, and seldom left when home. As far as he knew, she never slept.

The other two members of the Rothchild family had equally inexplicable eccentricities, though I already knew what I was up against from Lilly’s thoughts.

Eduardo started to close the doors, but his eyes lost focus as he listened to his earpiece. His expression changed, as if any concern over my presence had evaporated. He nodded once and swung the doors wide.

“Lady Rothchild will see you. She is waiting for you on the balcony landing.”

He stepped aside to reveal an elegant foyer. The intricate marble floor, inset with a coat of arms and another stylized R, reflected a cascade of light from the chandelier overhead. Two broad staircases swept up to the overlooking balcony. The still air was warm and smelled like leather and old books.

I hung my satchel on the coat rack beside the door, clicking the locks as I did so, and walked toward the stairs. My footfalls resounded on the marble. Eduardo’s eyes followed me the whole way. He was accustomed to people showing up to see his employers at odd hours, and he assumed that I, like many guests, would quite possibly never leave.

Poor guy had no idea what he was part of.

Lilly stood at her open door when I reached the landing. Slim, auburn hair pulled back in a bun, face ageless and smooth. She wore a crisp gray business suit with a light blue blouse at four in the morning, with a microphone at her lapel to summon staff at any need.

“Garrison,” she said. “Our next session is not for six hours. And I do own a phone.”

Her voice held the lazy southeastern accent I knew well from my childhood, and held no displeasure at seeing me.

“I prefer to do business in person,” I answered, letting the same easy drawl touch my words. “And the opportunity you alluded to sounded far too lucrative to pass up.””

“I thought that might be what drove you here.” She smiled and gestured for me to follow her into her study. “Money never rests, does it?””

I could feel her hunger crash in waves, nothing like I’d sensed in our sessions. She had been feeding, and cradled the thought that she already had me. I fingered the metal loop on the inside of my jacket. I needed a minute more, at least.

Her study looked out over the frozen grounds of the estate, shadowed blue and gray in the cold dawn. Decadence draped the room, illuminated by lamps and a flickering fireplace. An antique and well-stocked bar spread below oil paintings that would break millionaires. Her massive cherry desk held no paper, pens or a computer, just a desk lamp and an ancient wooden globe. Greek statues stood vigil in the recesses. The only nod to technology glowed on the wall behind the desk, a massive screen that tracked the indices of every market on the planet.

Light crept from under the solitary door opposite the desk, muting murmurs and the clack of keyboards.

“What is it you want, Doctor?” She said. “What do you desire?”

“A glass of your Balvenie Fifty.”

She chuckled and gestured toward the bar. “I feel you’re thinking a little too literally.”

“Not at all. I seldom get fifty-year-old scotch.” I filled a rocks glass with two fingers and swirled it under my nose. “This would set me back six grand.””

“Six thousand dollars is nothing. What is it you really desire?”

“To hear more about the opportunity you mentioned in our therapy sessions.” I took a sip and let the flavors explode on my tongue. It was the first thing that managed to cut through the bitter taste of the anti-nerve agent that clung to my throat. ““This is good.”

“I should hope. You’re dancing around the question.” She leaned against her desk and crossed her arms, regarding me. “The investment requires one million initially.”

“I would have to liquefy everything I own. That’s quite a risk.”

“We both know that’s not true.” Her lips curled into a smirk. “You could pay for it all if you cashed your wife’s life insurance policy.”

The hook. I grimaced as I touched the bump of my wedding band under my glove. “How did you know that?”

“It’s my business to know. You could come up with the money quite easily.” She took a step toward me. “And you would never again want for anything.”

The nearer she came, the more real the temptation became. Mansions, women, cars, jets, drugs, every vice imaginable. It could all be mine.

“It’s been two years,” Lilly whispered. “Whatever your reasons, they don’t matter. What is it that you most desire, Garrison? Anything could be yours. Everything.”

I shot a blatant glance at the door opposite. Her eyes stayed on me, but her thoughts went right where I wanted them to. Laptops manned by empty-faced men and women, wasting in their endless pursuit of wealth, draining family savings and sacrificing friends in pursuit of one more million. One more dollar. One more penny. Their avarice sated Lilly’s hunger, so she was free to cultivate other more difficult – and satisfying – manifestations at her leisure.

The keyboards had stopped clacking.

I smiled at her, my clenched teeth betraying my anger. “I want my wife back, bitch.”

Lilly took a step back in surprise. She watched me with her dark eyes, calculating, severe. Her mind scrambled, unsure why I was there. What I intended to do.

“Eduardo,” she said into her lapel, “send in my uncle and aunt if you would be so kind.”

She waited a beat for a reply. Her brow furrowed.

“Eduardo.”

She shoved past me out the door of the study, and stopped at the edge of the balcony. In the center of the marble floor, highlighted by a sea of reflected light, lay the prone body of Eduardo.

I ripped the garrote wire free from my jacket lining and charged her. She had just started to turn when I looped it around her neck. She tried to scream and choked on her own blood. I planted my knee in the small of her back, pressing her against the marble balcony rail. A red fog sprayed out from her neck.

“Tell my wife Helen that I will avenge her, demon.”

I sawed the garrote back and forth. Lilly struggled, gurgled, went limp. The wire snapped free. Lilly’s head, a twisted and horned green reflection of its human guise, rebounded off the marble below before disintegrating in a smear of ash. Her body crumpled, imploded.

The nerve agent in my satchel would have dispersed through the entire mansion by now. I pulled out my pistol – a refurbished LeMat Confederacy revolver – and backed into Lilly’s study. Everyone here would be unconscious except for me and the two demons that still remained.

I had never taken on more than one demon at a time. They seldom worked, let alone lived, together, especially not ones of different types. But these three came from the same corrupt mortal family. Lilly was the youngest, untrained in fighting and new to her powers. Neither of the remaining would be as simple.

Angus Rothchild was a sadistic rage demon. Lilly had been terrified of him, even after her transformation. The Carolina slave master was the eldest of the clan, and might have been the patriarch if his grandniece Aissa didn’t control him.

I knew intimately well the power a succubus could wield. I touched my flask, then frowned and left it in my pocket. After.

Stillness and silence draped the mansion. From behind me, a grandfather clock beat its steady rhythm. I breathed the warm air, forcing my heart to match time with the clock, and edged toward the doorway. Back against the doorjamb, I darted my head out onto the balcony to make sure the floor was still clear.

Hands the size of turkeys clamped the sides of my head and dragged me out of the study. A nightmare Colonel Sanders with baleful eyes stared at me as I dangled in his grasp. Then he threw me. My stomach crashed into the balcony rail and I cartwheeled over. Floor rushed at me. Instinct kicked in. I tucked and rolled and tumbled onto my back. My flattened lungs refused to drag in breath. I lurched to my knees and grabbed for my pistol as it skidded across the floor.

Angus smashed into the marble in front of me. His white hair and moustaches glowed stark against skin the color of hot coals. Two wicked horns twisted up from his temples.

I finally managed a trembling breath. I raised my pistol, trained it on the demon’s chest, then dropped it and gasped. I collapsed to all fours as a wave of euphoria clenched my midsection.

“Why, you do not want to fight at all, do you?” A soft voice whispered in my ear. “I hardly had to try.”

I kept gulping air, trying to will my sluggish limbs to respond through the afterglow haze.

“He beheaded Lilly!” Angus snarled. His Appalachian twang was so thick I had trouble understanding it.

“You would have done that anyway, like you’ve done to all of the rest but me.”

I made a clumsy swipe for my pistol. Then another orgasm seized me, more powerful than the first. I felt cool marble against my cheek as I writhed.

“Stop it, you harlot!” I felt the floor rumble as Angus neared me. A constant growl churned from the depths of his barrel chest. “I’’m gonna kill him.”

“Oh, Angus. This doesn’t mean you don’t get yours.”

The rumble of the floor stopped, the growl changed to a soft mewl.

Aissa crouched over me. Her creamy bronze hair, the same color as her eyes, cascaded down in graceful curls to her shoulders. The light passed through her gossamer white gown to reveal her slender body, her delicate curves, her tattoos and piercings.

“I can make him come as easily as I can you, old man.” She laid a smooth, cool hand on the side of my face. “You’ve been the minion of a Cursed before, haven’t you?”

My mind screamed for me to pull away before she killed me, to grab my gun and shoot her in her lovely face. My lips brushed her palm, tasted her silken flesh as I raised myself toward her.

“Do you want another?” She cooed. Her lips were the color of raspberries. “Those were so rushed. So… weak.”

No, God no, get away from me. No words escaped my lips.

She patted my cheek. “Not yet. You did kill my niece. Angus will make you pay for that. But I want you to enjoy every minute of agony.” She leaned closer, curling her finger under my chin. “I want to make you beg for every minute of it.”

Our lips touched, first a casual brush, then deeper, my arms were around her and rapture filled me until her mouth became bitter ash. She screeched and tore herself away from me.

“What did you do?” She shrieked. Smoke belched from the blistered skin around her mouth, her skin now black with fiery red cracks and hair a mane of flame. Her talons clawed at her sizzling lips.

I ground my teeth together in fury. Emotions seethed through me in a torrent. I saw what she wanted to do to me. I saw my own weakness through her eyes. I felt disgust at my own vulnerability. At least in my haze I had managed enough self-control to grab my gun.

Most infuriating of all, I saw Her in Aissa’s mind. The one who corrupted Aissa. The same one who corrupted Helen.

The pocket of my jacket ripped as I tore the vials of holy water free. I mixed enough of it with my vodka that my urine would consecrate any toilet I used for a week. Before I could lose my determination, I hurled the vials at Aissa.

They shattered against her skin, fried like napalm. Shards of chandelier rained down on us, shattered by her shriek. Light flickered and died. She twirled and collapsed and bucked on the ground and dissolved into a smoldering heap.

Angus smashed into me like a boulder. His momentum carried us across the room, crashing into the far wall.

The demon could barely make a coherent sound. He clamped his meaty hands around my head and squeezed.

I fired the shotgun barrel of the LeMat, inches from his heart, loaded with rock salt.

The pressure on my head disappeared. Angus stared stupidly at the burning crater in the center of his chest, where his heart should be. His body shattered like leaves as he toppled to the ground.

I stood trembling in the again silent mansion. The pistol dangled from my limp hand. Sweat drenched my face, my clothes. I fumbled the flask out of my pocket and drained the last of the holy vodka in one long swallow. The horror never left.

On shaking legs I walked up the stairs to the balcony, back into Lilly’s open study. I took the Balvenie Fifty from the bar, not bothering with a glass, and collapsed into the leather chair behind the desk.

Lilly had shown me the existence of three demons, and their weaknesses. In my arrogance I thought I could destroy all three, but one succubus had brought me to my knees.

While showing me the one demon I had been hunting since my wife was taken from me.

I swallowed deeply from the bottle, but a gnawing need had grown since Aissa’s touch. The same insatiable need that had plagued me since Helen’s corruption, the need I could never satisfy. My hand went for my inner pocket. Empty. For an instant, panic gripped me, then I remembered I left my works kit at home when on missions. With everyone in the mansion waking up within the hour, I couldn’t dose here and risk capture.

But there was one thing I had to do, while the images from Aissa’s memory were still fresh. Taking another pull of scotch, I slipped the wrinkled slip of paper I kept always close to my heart and smoothed it out on the desk.

I had updated and redone the charcoal drawing countless times over the years, every time I saw her more clearly in a thought or more precisely in a memory. The demon had hung ephemeral since Helen, appearing in memories when I least expected it. And my rendition was all I had to go on.

Aissa had given me the piece that might lead me to the end of my journey.

The scotch had steadied my hand enough for me to draw in the simple wooden cross that hung around her neck, and sketch the faint outline of the Space Needle overshadowing her.

I’ve looked for you for two years, I whispered as I stared at her striking burgundy eyes. The one that destroyed my world, the one that took everything from me. And now I knew where you were.

I am going to destroy you, Tricia Priest, and finally, truly, avenge my wife.

Chapter Two (first draft)

Standard

This is my first draft of Hunters Chapter Two for comparison, and for an example of the extent of changes during the editing process.

Again, previously the tense was present, and I moved the Andrasi encounter entirely to the second chapter. I also amped up the sexual tension Tricia feels. You can check out the current version of Chapter Two here.

Back to Hunters

Back to WilliamReidLit.com

 

 

Chapter Two

The Cursed

 

I step out of the private room, leaving crumpled rapist husks laying in the darkness behind. Constellations of body fluids flare across my body under the black lights of the dance floor.

It will be awhile before anyone finds them. They would have made sure no one would interrupt their conquest of a drugged teenager. No rush to leave. But a club is a dangerous place for me to be. I just gorged on four corrupt souls. They are mere sustenance, not nourishment. Their memories, their sadistic plans for me, their recollections of past conquests strip their souls of any purity. I feel satisfaction ending their miserable lives, but I still hunger.

Holy Christ, I still need to fuck. Really fuck.

I close my eyes and stand still. The body heat of the dancers flowing past beckons me. Desire, everywhere desire, need. Theirs are mere whispers next to the screaming inside me. Every doubt about coming here explodes. The hunger is too powerful to resist. I have no desire to. My mind goes numb.

I reach out into the human sea, grasp the nearest person by the hair and spin her toward me. She lets out a squeal of surprise, cut off when I drag her lips to mine. At first she stiffens and presses her lips tight. Then they quiver, open, and we devour each other. She tastes like spearmint, cigarettes, cum. Her embrace is sudden and fierce. The world dims. Her body melts into mine, scorches like an inferno. Our hands move over each other, exploring, wanting. Her rich and intoxicating scent engulfs me.

I feel her passion, her power, her eager soul. The lasers strobe over the seething dance floor around us. Lust thunders from the crowd. I tremble as it pulls at me. I want more. I want it all. The dancers are so embroiled by lust that I could drop my human glamour, walk across the dance floor in my full demonic glory and take every last soul in an orgy of desire.

Her mind opens to me the second we touch, and Stacey captivates me. Not like the worthless raping shits I ate. Stacey is kind, she doesn’t steal or lie, she doesn’t cheat on her boyfriend and wants a family with him. My God, she is the purest, kindest, most delicious creature I’ve tasted in decades.

And if I enslave her, I would damn the soul I’m struggling to redeem, if it’s redeemable at all.

Fuck. I shove Stacey away.

She stares at me, gasping. Her short-bobbed blonde hair curls over one eye, but the other stares, the thin rim of her dilated eyes the color of a winter stream. Her cheeks flush fire.

“The fuck,” a guy next to her says, and wheels her away by the elbow. The boyfriend. His haircut is a mirror of hers, but brown with gilded strands like wood grain. His shirt looks painted on his sculpted torso. Groomed stubble carves out his jaw, and his straight teeth glow in the black lights. My head barely reaches his chest.

I turn my attention to him. I couldn’t actually feed from another woman, just enslave her, but her boyfriend was another matter. I can feel desire mixing with his anger. Seeing me kiss Stacey again would shatter his resistance.

I stop myself before I indulge the thought further.

“Thought she was someone else,” I say.

“She’s not. Fuck off.”

His biceps strain as he holds Stacey back from me. Her gaze hasn’t left me the whole time.

God damn it. I spin away and bolt deeper into the crowd. In a moment I can’t see them anymore. I’m trembling with desire, but my sanity slowly claws back. Rapists and sinners, their souls empty of true satisfaction, at least deserve death. But a few more seconds and I would have enthralled that girl whether I wanted to or not, and I would have consumed her boyfriend’s soul for the fuck of it. A succubus isn’t built to cope with abstinence or control. Demonkind call themselves Cursed for good reason.

I can’t let myself give in to my nature, and a feast like this club is too much temptation. I won’t be able to look at Pastor Tom again if I throw away all my work fighting my Curse now. I have to get out of here before I do something I’ll regret. I push my way toward the doors.

I feel its presence behind me an instant before its sword slashes at my head. I wheel to the side. The black sword misses me by less than an inch. The blade carries straight through two guys dancing in front of me without slowing. The music drowns their screams. Blood sprays over me and the dancers around them.

An Andrasi rage demon towers behind me. I’m at eye level with its belly button. No glamour to disguise its nature. Angelic wings fan out behind it. Its muscular arms hold a blood-stained sword as tall as me. Long hair that looks like a tangle of wet eels hangs to its shoulders. Its translucent crimson skin glows from the fiery black skeleton underneath. Its eyes blaze emptiness.

“You die, succubus,” it growls, straight into my mind.

“What….” A girl turns as blood splatters across her face. She stares at the two bodies on the dance floor, shocked in to silence for a handful of seconds. Then she looks up, straight into the eyes of the Cursed that cut them down. She screams.

The club goes apeshit.

Humanity surges past me in terror, scattering in all directionss. I use the chaos to crouch and draw the kukri at the small of my back. I had spent the last century working to become a physical badass – a necessity in the Northwest, alone and surrounded by Andrasi – but I haven’t needed to draw a weapon in decades.

Since the last time a rage Cursed swung a five-foot sword at my head, come to think.

A vacant bubble has formed on the dance floor around us. Hentai sex screams over the screens. Lasers ripple through the translucent body of the Cursed as it stares at me with those empty eye sockets. Blood curls down its black blade.

“You don’t want to destroy me,” I say, as calmly as I can. Despite my mental guards, I feel the Cursed’s aura of rage needling at my self control. It smells like blood and ash and mindless anger. The shouts and crashes from the fleeing patrons confirm that the mortals are as intent on fighting as getting away, all because of this fucker.

Its voice boils into my brain. “You break oaths, you die.” It laughs, a chilling sound that claws my mind with fury, and strides toward me.

I skip sideways, keeping out of sword range. “I’m not the one in someone else’s territory,” I say. “Makes you the oathbreaker.”

“You die, then I kill your friend,” it says.

Friend? Oh for fuck’s sake. Talking to these things is like throwing eggs at a brick wall.

“Fight me,” it says. “I like when you fight.”

“Well, then.” I snap invisible, then lunge.

It’s one of my tricks. Makes up for not showing up in mirrors, cameras or video, which is a bigger pain in the ass than you’d think. The Andrasi know I can do it, but I need every millisecond of surprise it might give me.

The Andrasi swings its sword across my expected path in reflex. I roll out of its path and spring to my feet at its exposed side. My kukri chews crimson jello. No blood from the cut, it just opens like raw steak. Arcs of chartreuse energy flicker from the wound. I hope that means it hurts like hell.

Its elbow smashes the back of my skull. The world sparkles and tilts. I turn the fall into a sideways tumble away from the Cursed, cradling my head. Agony.

“I smell you,” it growls. Its eyes no longer follow my movement, but it charges straight at me.

I slash the kukri across its wrist on its next swing and break for the doors. But thoughts of escaping that way vanish. The front of the club is pandemonium, a pile of people tearing themselves apart, some to get out and some overwhelmed by the rage aura. Not getting out that way.

“Fight me,” it says again. Its blind slash takes a chunk of my jacket.

I wheel around and charge it again. Badass or no, I can’t go toe to toe with a rage Cursed. Need to get out in the open.

It smells my approach and swings again. This time I leap over the blade and spring off its rocklike bicep into a somersault over its head. I grasp where its wings meet its back as I tumble by. It roars. My momentum drags it backward, upside down in front of me with wings and feet thrashing in midair.

I sprint forward, smashing my shoulder into the small of its back.  Its screams shake my body. It feels like carrying an active volcano. I barely hang on long enough to plow it into the wall.

Masonry and rebar explode. The impact knocks the air out of my lungs. A second crash, a second wall. My shoulder wrenches and shatters. Rock cascades over me seconds before the constant Seattle mist. I let go of the Cursed and collapse on all fours. The momentum carries the Andrasi face first into the opposite building, cracking brick. It collapses onto its back, leaving a cracked indent half a foot deep in the wall.

I will myself to stand and leap on the Cursed’s chest before it can recover. It tries to get up, but I hang on by its greasy hair, ignoring the pain of my broken arm. I hack my kukri repeatedly across its neck. It howls in my head. My side explodes with pain, I feel its sword plunge into me and split out the other side, but I keep slashing. Its body glows putrid with each cut.

I hit spine. The jolt travels through my body. Its howls silence and it collapses back to the ground.

“Don’t die yet,” I say, and plant my lips on a mouth big enough to swallow my head.

Flashing, discordant images fill my mind to replace its dying whimpers. Images tear through my thoughts, and I shove myself away with a gasp. I grip its head by the sides, my broken arm howling in protest, and twist.

Its head tears off with a wet, ripping sound. The Cursed begins to smoke as it crumbles. The smell of burning carcass fills the air.

I stumble back on the surrounding rubble, hitting the ground hard. My entire body is agony. I touch where it stabbed me, confirming the sword dissolved along with the Cursed, and focus my energies on sealing it and mending my shattered shoulder. It takes most of the power I got from the rapists to heal the damage.

Holy fuck. I lay in the drifting mist for what must be minutes, still invisible, trying to make sense of what happened. The Andrasi haven’t bothered me in years, because we stay out of each other’s shit. They keep out of Seattle, I let no other Cursed – specifically, no incubi or succubi – in. But this one decided to kill me in the middle of my city, in a nightclub full of mortal witnesses.

And I find out why as I sift through the jumble of its dying thoughts. A pale man in a tailored gray suit worth more than a car, getting out of a limo at the most expensive condo tower in Seattle. Long black dreadlocks, a goatee and eye patch, smoking a black cigarette. Just a momentary image, but the image bites just as deep as the Andrasi’s sword had. Nothing has changed about this Cursed beyond the cut of his suit in the century since I last saw him, or in the centuries before that, knowing him.

My end of the bargain with the Andrasi is easy to keep since no one gives a shit about a place surrounded by roving packs of rage demons. Besides, I don’t like my kind any more than they do. But there is an incubus in Seattle. One purposefully shielding his presence from me, or I would have felt him the second he entered the state. And one I know more intimately than I would ever want.

Sebastian Essex is going to tell me what the fuck he’s doing in Seattle, or I’m going to kill him.

 

 

Chapter One (First Draft)

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This is my first draft of Hunters Chapter One for comparison, and for an example of the extent of changes during the editing process.

This chapter was totally revamped. I started with it in present tense (as opposed to Garrison’s chapters, in past tense) since it was happening right now, while Garrison’s were happening in the past. Also, I have it from Tricia’s point of view, which took away the suspense of what she was and planned, plus made her less sympathetic even though her victims were rapists. You can check out the current version of Chapter One here.

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Chapter One

The Cursed

 

The eternal hunger is my Curse, and it’s a bitch.

It’s not like I don’t deserve it. My mortal life brought this shitstorm of an existence on me. A mortal life I try to atone for, whatever good that will do. I believe in God – who else could Curse me? – and that He can forgive. But I also believe that omnipotent Fucker hates my immortal guts.

And though I say the Curse caused my current mess, truth is it would have found me regardless.

 

I feel the pounding beat inside the club. The music is so loud the tempo reverberates through my bones. Each throb reaches inside and caresses my heart. The press of writhing bodies, the scents of alcohol and sweat and sex and passion, feed my desire.

My leather midriff jacket is open. The top underneath is not low cut or flattering, and the miniskirt reaches the top of my knees. But both hug every curve of my body. The outfit was good enough to keep the bouncer’s eyes on my tits rather than my license, with its picture of a 40-year-old blonde with glasses and hair three decades out of style. I used to dress for the club scene, whether I needed to or not. The best I can do with my current wardrobe is forgo a bra and panties.

Humanity swallows me, surging with the rhythm. Lasers etch a carpet of shifting light above us. Colors pulse to the music. I can barely see the stage above the crowd, where the DJ spins in front of a video wall playing hentai clips. I can’t make out the bar at the back wall at all. Shadows obscured by smoke move and watch and lust in the balconies. Silhouettes flow together and break apart in passionate tempo. The candle lights at each table flicker like stars in an artificial night.

I close my eyes and stand still, feeling the body heat of the dancers flowing past. Desire, everywhere desire, need. Theirs are mere whispers next to the screaming inside me. Now that I’m inside, every doubt about coming here explodes. The hunger is too powerful to resist. I have no desire to. My mind goes numb.

I reach out into the human sea, grasp the nearest person by the hair and spin her toward me. She lets out a squeal of surprise, cut off when I grab the back of her head and drag her lips to mine. At first she stiffens, her lips pressed tight. But then they quiver, open, and our tongues dance. She tastes like spearmint, cigarettes, cum. Her embrace is sudden and fierce. The world dims. Her supple body melts into mine, scorches like an inferno. Our hands move over each other, exploring, wanting, her rich and intoxicating scent engulfs me as we devour each other, warm and wet and desperate and fuck I shove her away.

She stares at me, gasping. Her short-bobbled blonde hair curls over one eye, but the other stares, the thin rim of her dilated eyes the color of a winter stream. Her cheeks flush fire.

“The fuck,” a guy next to her says, and wheels her away by the elbow. His haircut is a mirror of hers, but brown with gilded strands like wood grain. His designer shirt looks painted on his sculpted torso. Groomed stubble carves out his jaw, and his straight teeth glow in the black lights. My head barely reaches his chest.

I turn my attention to him. I couldn’t feed from another woman, but her boyfriend was another matter. In the old days I would seduce them both and have my way with them, him as sustenance and her as a playtoy. But I stop myself before I indulge the thought further.

“Thought she was someone else,” I say.

“She’s not. Fuck off.”

His biceps strain as he holds her back from me. Her eye hasn’t left me the whole time.

God damn it. I spin on my heels and bolt through the crowd toward the bar. In a moment I can’t see them anymore. Some level of sanity claws back. Losing control like that would undo all my efforts in an instant. It’s the reason I cut myself off from this scene in the first place. A few more seconds and I would have enthralled that girl whether I wanted to or not. I’m trembling with desire, but I can’t give in. I convinced myself I could slake my hunger without returning to my old ways, ignored the doubts I could control myself. I wouldn’t be able to look at Pastor Tom again if I fucked it all up now.

I slip on to a barstool still warm from its previous occupant. Multicolored slashes of spilled drinks, blurred with smudged fingerprints and discarded napkins, glow in the underlighting. I lean to avoid the wall of mirrors behind the bar without conscious thought. The two bartenders, one of each gender and wearing emo outfits that reveal more than they conceal, are both occupied with other customers. I’m in no hurry. I’ll have a drink before they notice me.

“You look a little young to be in here,” a masculine voice says, so close to my ear I can feel his breath on me. The sound is smooth like chocolate melting on the tongue, as only practice can achieve.

I don’t turn to look, but push my stool along the bar rail to open up space beside me. “That’s a lousy line. Hear it all the time. Makes it even worse. Your next will be about my stunning eyes.”

The man slides in to the space. He is at least six feet tall, and wears a red v-cut sweater over a purple tee. A seashell choker glows around his neck. His deep brown eyes, cradled under dark eyebrows and short cropped hair, take in every inch of me. “It’s no line, sweetie. You’ll have to tell me who did your ID.”

“What do you need with a fake license?”

He grins, dimples kissing the smooth skin of his cheeks, and he leans closer to me. He smells like bottled leather and spice. “I’m only twenty,” he says with mock conspiracy. “You going to turn me in?”

“Hardly. I’m seventeen.”

His eyes go wide, and he starts to laugh. No shock, disgust or horror on his face, even though I can tell he believes my every word. Good.

“Sweetie, no seventeen year old has curves like you,” he says, his stare continuing to drink in my body.

“Whatever you say.” I lean back in my stool to give him a better view. “You going to turn me in?”

“I’m going to buy you a drink.” He tugs the bartender’s sleeve as he passes by. “Lemon drop?”

I purse my lips. I loved the chase, drawing out the pursuit as much as possible, making my prey so overcome by lust that the final payoff was a feast. A brush of my hand against his, a purr, a moan of acceptance as I lean forward to display my neck to him in submission. But this isn’t about the chase anymore.

“Only if the lemon drop is yours,” I say.

He flashes his teeth at me again. “Wanna play with the big boys, huh? Two vodkas. Neat.” I notice his eyes flick across the crowd. He’s not alone. Even better.

He says, “My name’s Derek, by the way.”

“Tricia. Never met a Derek before.”

“I’m one of a kind.” The bartender places the drinks in front of Derek. Derek takes my glass by the rim, palm cupping its mouth, and scoots it in front of me. Smooth.

“Cheers.” Our glasses clink together, and he lifts his drink to his lips.

I throw my head back as if laughing and drain my shot in one swallow. The liquid, hot and biting, slides down my throat, a pleasant warmth descending with it.

He laughs. “You keep drinking like that, you’ll be on the floor.”

“You keep drinking like that, I’ll look for someone else to get me drunk.”

“Not if I can help it, sweetie.” He nods to the bartender and taps in front of him. Moments later another vodka fills the empty space. He passes the glass to me with the same motion as before. The fucker’s doubling down. “Let’s go.”

 He slams his vodka, his eyes fixed sidelong on me as he swallows.

“Shit.” I down the drink, letting a little dribble out of the corner of my lips. I remember to cough this time. “God.”

He pats me on my back, and his hand drifts up to massage my neck.

“We’re in the advanced class now. You took those like a pro.”

“I’m not as naïve as you think.”

“Oh, I’m sure. Seventeen year olds don’t sneak into bars alone if they’re naïve.”

“They don’t flirt with twenty year olds if they’re naïve, either.”

“Sure they do. Teens sneaking in to bars like to live dangerously.” He nods with his chin at the wooden cross hanging around my neck, nearly lost in my cleavage. “Or you expect that to be your protection?”

“More than you know.”

He snorts a laugh, and his eyes stay fixed around my cross. “You’re not like any of the teens in bars I’ve met, sweetie.”

I nod my head back at the video wall, showing an anime girl with huge tits fucking a demon with two cocks. “Because most aren’t in bars that show shit like that?”

He turns to the wall and his breath catches.

“You’re too young to watch this stuff.”

“But old enough to be here? This is tame compared to the shit I watch. And you’re tame compared to the guys I normally flirt with.”

 I see a flush of excitement on his dimpled cheeks. “We need more drinks,” he says.

“You need another one to catch up with me.” My words tumble together.

“I’ve already had three. You’re the one playing catch-up, Tricia.”

“Mmm? Don’t remember….”

I slip a little from the stool and let him catch me. He hands me another shot and nods to his friend in the crowd. “Tell you what. I’ve got a private room upstairs. How about you finish your drink and we head up? It’ll make conversation easier.”

Another set of hands wraps me from behind, bigger and rougher than Derek’s. I look over my shoulder to see a block-shaped head, shaved bald. A thick brow ridge shelters black darting eyes.

“Easy, babe,” he says. The smell of rum and chicken wings coat his slow words.

“This is Steve,” Derek says. “He’s a friend.”

“You came with a friend.” I swallow the shot and knock the glass over as I put it back on the bar. “Hi, Steve.”

Steve’s granite brow crumbles into a frown. “All three?”

Derek nods.

“Fuck. We’ll have to carry her with three.”

“I can walk,” I protest, but both of them take me by the elbows and steer me up the spiral staircase. My feet don’t touch the ground.

Their desire seethes as they carry me, and I struggle to control myself. I have to let them dig as deep as they want. The passion of the crowd flows around me. Hands, not just those of Derek and Steve, brush me secretly and intimately as we move through the crush. In moments a door clicks behind me. The music muffles, the press of dancers disappears, the air cools. The private room.

“Holy shit.” A third voice says, nasally and high pitched.

I loll my head to get a look around the room. Plush red couches line the walls. Darkened one-way windows overlook the dance floor. The anime demon on the video wall has grown dick tentacles. Liquor bottles and electric candles stack the circular glass table in the center. At least one of these kids is loaded.

The one that spoke is short and at least a hundred pounds overweight. His rolex and thick gold chain scream he’s the loaded one, his body screams why he lets his buddies do the work in the club. His pale, moist flesh smells like he bathed in Axe. A fourth guy sits on the couch smoking a cigarette, his shoulder-length black hair parted neatly in the center. He wears a tailored black suit with a red silk shirt.

The sharp-dressed one whistles through a fog of smoke. “Bravo. She’s built like a brick shithouse.”

“This brick shithouse is in high school,” Steve growls.

“Holy shit,” the fat guy says again.

“Didn’t know you had so many friends, Derek,” I mumble. “Sweet digs.”

“And he dosed her three fucking times,” Steve continues.

“She’s going to OD,” Sharp says.

“Then shut up and let’s go.” I feel Derek’s lips on my neck, one hand pulling my head back by the hair, the other cupping my breast. “You taste delicious, sweetie.”

My self-control snaps. Dropping the act, I straighten and collapse into Derek’s arms. “So I get to fuck all of you, or the other three just watch?”

Sounds of soft laughter, buckles and movement fill the room. Derek’s already hard, but his excitement swells even further. I grab the sides of his head and plant my lips on his. My legs wrap tight around him. His hands are already up my skirt.

“You’re not wearing panties,” he moans. His eyes are mindless with lust.

“They get in the way.” I fumble at his pants. “Like your fucking jeans.”

Derek groans. He picks me up and I feel him slip in to me, small and unremarkable.

“Holy shit,” Fatty repeats again, breathless. “She wants it.” His buckle clinks rhythmically, the fuck is jacking off.

“Come on,” I hiss. The hunger is everything. I don’t hear or see the three others in the room. I grind in time with the throbbing music, the flickering lights on the dance floor. I used to savor sex as long as possible, enjoying the deliciousness of every moment, making them wait for days sometimes for release. But him I need now. Derek’s life force pulses inside me, surges, and my hunger swallows it whole. I pull more from him with each thrust. More, more, I want it all, the ravenous desire is all that matters and Derek is bucking and screaming in ecstasy with the most mind-devouring pleasure he will ever know. His orgasm slaps inside me. I devour the explosion of power that travels with it and moan with the pleasure. God, too long, it’s been too long. Derek drops me and falls away.

I collapse onto my back on the table, shivering. Bottles crash out of my way. Derek’s life courses through every inch of me, power I haven’t felt in years, and I want more. I want every last one of these fuckers.

“Shit, I get her next,” Fatty says, and climbs on top of me.

I latch onto him like I did Derek. “You didn’t have to wait.”

“Derek?” Steve says. “Holy shit, look at him.”

Sharp dashes over to his side. “Oh my God. I can’t find a pulse.”

“Holy fuck, look at that bitch.”

Fatty raises his head to stare at me, but he’s too consumed by passion to care that my skin is now obsidian cracked with fire. I can never hold my human glamour after feeding.

Steve shoves Fatty off me and hauls me up by the shoulders. Fatty crashes to the floor with a cry of dismay.

“What the fuck did you do to him?” Steve screams.

I smile and grab his arm with both hands. The crunching and ripping is louder than his scream. His arm explodes in a mass of shattered bone and blood, bent straight toward the floor.

“I ate a rapist.” I grip his neck with my talons. They sink at least an inch into his flesh. Steve gurgles, and I rip his throat free. His blood hisses against my skin.

Fatty gropes at my calf. “God, don’t stop,” he mumbles. Steve’s blood, still spraying from the mess of his neck, splatters across Fatty’s face.

“Get out of the way,” Sharp says, and levels a pistol at me.

His dress pants are around his ankles, his cock still erect and pulsing. I laugh at the sight.

“I will have you all.” I stride toward him.

Sharp’s voice trembles. “Stay away from me.” With monumental effort he steadies the pistol on my chest.

I slide the kukri from the jacket scabbard at the small of my back and lop his hand off.

Sharp screams and collapses into the couch. Blood fountains from the stump of his hand. I leap on top of him.

“Don’t die yet,” I whisper, and slide him inside me. No finesse. I rip his orgasm from him. He explodes in seconds, spurting blood as he thrashes in bliss. He arches his back and goes rigid. His eyes turn white, his cheeks sink, his skin drains of color. I scream with the ecstasy of devouring his soul.

Fatty scrambles over the table, slipping on the blood and alcohol on its slick surface.

“Please,” he begs. His hands stretch out to me, imploring.

I wheel off Sharp and throw Fatty against the window. My right hand wraps around his neck. His cock throbs eager in my left.

I feel his passion, his power, his eager soul. The lasers strobe over the seething dance floor behind him. Lust thunders from the crowd. I tremble as it pulls at me. The power of the two I consumed, the power of the one I’m about to, fills me, and I want more. I want it all. The dancers below are so embroiled by lust I could walk onto the dance floor in my full demonic glory and take every last soul in an orgy of desire.

And I would damn the soul I’m struggling to redeem, if it’s redeemable at all.

“Fuck.” I release Fatty’s cock, but keep him pinned by the neck. “What’s your name?”

His throat bobs under my palm. “Scott.”

“Scott. I’m leaving. When the police come, you say you wanted to drug and rape a girl, you fought over who got her first, and you killed them. Make them believe you. If you do this, I will find you, and you can do whatever you want to me.”

A grin spreads across his face, and he giggles. “I can?”

“Anything you desire, Scott. But only if you do what I ask.”

“I would do anything for you.”

I lean forward and brush my lips against his. “I know.”

He shivers. His cum spurts across my top, and he slumps back against the wall.

I wipe the cum off and flick it in his face before leaving. My glamour is back up. Just another clubber, probably glowing in the black lights with all the body fluids on me. No one seems to notice as I push my way downstairs. The afterglow of feeding lingers, turning down the urges that buffeted me before to a manageable hum. About ten minutes before a waitress goes in and notices the mess. Plenty of time to….

I feel its presence behind me an instant before its sword plummets at my head. I wheel to the side. My kukri is out in the same move. The black sword misses my head by less than an inch and cuts through two guys dancing nearby. Blood sprays over the dancers around them.

The Andrasi demon towers over the crowd. No glamour. Angelic wings fan out behind it. The Cursed’s muscular arms hold a blood-stained sword as tall as me. Its translucent crimson skin glows with the fiery black skeleton underneath. Its eyes blaze emptiness.

“You die, succubus,” it growls, straight into my mind.

“What the fuck….” A girl turns as blood splatters across her face. She stares at the two bodies on the dance floor, shocked in to silence for a handful of seconds. Then she looks up, straight into the eyes of the vengeance demon that cut them down. She screams.

The club goes apeshit.

 

 

Keep The Ideas Coming One: READ

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Every author has experienced, or at least dreaded, the curse of writer’s block. Sometimes this is in the midst of a longer work, but often it’s because we don’t know what to write about. My next blog series focuses on getting ideas on topics to write about so that you always have a story to work on.

Keep The Ideas Coming One: READ

books

Some of the best sources of new ideas are from other materials you read or watch. Not just books or TV shows; magazines, newspapers, blogs, journals, the nightly news, anything can give you ideas for a character, a setting or a conflict you can turn into a story. And it’s important to expand your reading and viewing material outside the genre you write, to give yourself the broadest selection of ideas.

I just read an article on how life might exist on a comet. It may never blossom into a story, but it’s intriguing enough to put in my notepad app for ideas. I have gotten other ideas that have turned to stories from 1491, Guns, Germs and Steel, American Lion and other books I’ve read. My writing is typically science fiction and fantasy, but none of these books are. Any type of book can give you an idea for any type of story.

History is a great source of ideas, and comes with the added advantage of detail. George R. R. Martin famously pulls ideas for his Song of Ice and Fire novels from history, which gives his crises and characters an element of veracity they might lack if events were entirely imagined. Little true anecdotes can weave dimension and depth into characters and events in your story that your readers will appreciate.

Suffering from writer’s block? Worried about a lack of new ideas? Watch the news. Read. Take a history class. Read the featured article button on Wikipedia. You’ll be surprised how many ideas start flowing.

Amp Up Your Conflict Four: Throw a Rock at the Planet

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Amp Up Your Conflict Four: Throw a Rock at the Planet

A great way to raise the stakes in your story is to add something that’s beyond anyone’s control.

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The title of this post is a bit facetious. Hucking an asteroid at the Earth does not make PLOT! appear, contrary to what Armageddon would have you believe. I am not a fan of making natural disasters the antagonists in your story. (This does not mean the man vs. nature conflict is invalid. The story still has to be about character, and giving your antagonist a face keeps that focused.) However, as both a setting and a crisis, natural disasters can add urgency and suspense to your story.

Think about any story set against the backdrop of greater calamity (Gone With the Wind, Slaughterhouse Five, A Canticle for Leibowitz, The Postman, The Stand). All of these use various disasters like war and disease outbreaks as the setting and much of the conflict in the story. Natural disasters can add tremendous conflict and add tension to normally mundane tasks like day-to-day survival. But we still remember Scarlett O’Hara and Billy Pilgrim. It’s their struggles against these disasters that give them conflict and drive their characters. Even minor disasters like a power outtage, a flood or an unfortunate storm can drive forward a plot that doesn’t have the disaster as a central theme.

The Odyssey is popularly characterized as a man vs. nature story, and in a way it is. Odysseus is struggling against nature to get home. However, nature has a “face” through the Gods, which make it a struggle of Odysseus vs. the Gods more than nature.

Disasters (like an impending asteroid!) can crank up the tension in your story. Just remember that the disaster isn’t the point of your story. Be sure to keep your characters in the forefront and disasters can add an unexpected twist to your tale.