Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sneak peek

Something I've been working on and I wanted to give you guys a peek, but first, I want to let you know what's happening on the writing front. I submitted a short story to Strange Horizons. The story about the woman who starts aging backwards. They've got it, they'll review it, and we'll see what happens in about 30 to 40 days.
A while back I submitted my full novel to Library Journal Review. I'm doing some follow up with my contact. Originally, I wanted to ask them what their submission guidelines were. I've been rejected before for not having all my ducks in a row, or in this case, the proper format. Barring that, I'm thinking I should just put on the best font I have and send it in. Worse they can say is no, right?

Today I'm sharing a scene where Daniel Wolfstalker gets himself into some deep doo-doo in Dallas. Is the honeymoon over before it has a chance to get started? We'll see...
Like lucky Buck had promised. Doc Harrison's office was down the street.
As I stepped onto the side walk, a hand snaked through the curtains to turn the open sign around to read 'closed.' I knocked anyway.
“Doctor Harrison,”' I said. “I'm Mr. Wolfstalker, Texas Ranger, and I'd like to have a look at the body.”
A narrow female face briefly poked through the curtains before disappearing again. The slide of a metal bolt sounded the opening of the door. “Please come inside quickly.”
No need to tell me twice.
The plain brown haired woman quickly closed the door behind me. The office was ordinary enough, but for some reason the room felt humid.
“As you surmised, the doctor is taking care of the patient. If I may have your name and badge to show the doctor you are waiting for him.”
Asking for ID may be a good idea where I came from, but this was the first time I'd been asked to prove it. Holding the badge between my thumb and forefinger, I paused before giving it to her completely. “This badge doesn't leave my sight. If you're going to the doc with my credentials, I'm going to hang back out of the way. If he can't spare a minute, I'll be on my way.”
After a moments hesitation, the woman silently nodded. “Follow me please.”
The next set of doors led to a metal spiral staircase. Condensation formed on the railings, leaving no doubt we were heading toward some place with higher humidity. The woman noticed me running a finger along the metal, tracing through the water droplets.
“This building sits over a mineshaft. The doctor finds the temperature ideal for cold storage.”
“And for surgery,” I added.
Turning to face me, the woman stared blankly. “That too.”
Not all the walls were cut out. Stalactites and rock formations suggested this was originally a cave system that had been adapted to suit the miners needs. Several walls with steel doors were bolted to the rocks. Coming to a small room, my guide lit a torch with a little help from the hot coal sitting inside a Franklin stove.
“The doctor and the patient are in the next room. If you would be so kind as to wait here...” She turned away from me before I could answer her. The feeling I got was it wouldn't matter what I said.
Shadows crossed in front of the light beaming through the doorway curtain. Listening intently as I could, soft whispers floated toward me as I waited for someone to come back.
Doctor Harrison burst from behind the curtain. His disheveled brown and gray streaked hair sat matted to his skull. “Mr. Wolfstalker,” Harrison began. “You work for the Rangers?” He said as he handed my badge.
Doctor,” I said.”Forgive the intrusion, but I would like to know if the man is contagious.”
Regarding me suspiciously for a moment, Doc Harrison then said, “Damned if I know.” Then he added, “I've never seen this before. Our best bet is to contain it. Beverly and I will quarantine ourselves here.”
Two choices stood before me: Go back to my honeymoon suite and try to wait out the infection, or see that body and determine if stronger measures were needed.
“I don't want to get too close Doc,” I began. “But I need to see the body. If someone else comes down with it, I want to know what it looks like.”
Thinking over what I said, Doc Harrison finally nodded. “Cover your mouth, it's right past the curtain.”
Parting the curtain and keeping my handkerchief over my mouth, I cautiously walked into the dimly lit room. The corpse on the table appeared out of focus to me. The table, a nearby stool and even a small medicinal cabinet seemed sharp in contrast. When I gazed on the body itself, I thought my eyes were going out of focus.
“Fooled us all too, at first,” Harrison said. “Don't look at the whole body, look at the hands.”
Following doctor's orders, I focused on the nearest hand. Veins stood out in sharp dark contrast to the pale skin. The bony fingers extending from the skeletal wrist. Slowly working my way up the forearm, I noticed fine dark hairs covering the limb all the way up to the shoulder. Still on the verge of being fuzzy, I could still see this was once a person, but the skin disappeared under the layer of burgundy follicles. The torso and head were fully covered in fur, the face, blank and featureless. No depressions to suggest eye sockets. No protruding nose... I could only guess where the mouth and jaw would be.
“This building is sitting over a cave system that goes deeper than anyone thinks. Even the miners who first explored it fifty years ago never got as far as I did.”
“Exploring caves can be pretty risky, doc.”
“Not without the proper equipment. Look at the hands again.”
Glancing down at the fingers, I immediately noticed they were longer, growing more talon-like by the second.
“I started out as a camp cook for the miners. One day I went off exploring the cave. Unfortunately, my candles ran out. Stumbling in the dark, I fell off a cliff into an underground river.”
Damn me and my curious nature, the doc was doing a villain monologue. Putting two and two together wasn't hard. One thing for sure, I wasn't in the place I needed to be.
“Well, thanks for letting me see doc, if anyone has these symptoms, I'll be sure to send them to you,” I said as I turned away.
Blocking my path, Beverley shot me a sinister grimace. They weren't going to let me walk out of here.
“Oh, jeez,” I said. “You too?” Drawing my gun didn't impress her. “I'm leaving.”
“Who said anything about leaving?” Beverley said.
Not wanting to shoot her, I gave her a shove with my left arm. Beverley didn't move. Putting my hips and shoulder into it, I pushed her again. This time it felt as though I were pushing against a brick wall.
I was in deep shit and didn't really want to test the depth. Firing into her belly from point blank range, I tried to escape. My first mistake was thinking a bullet would hurt the woman. Second mistake was trying to get past her.
Beverley didn't double over like one would expect from a gunshot wound to the stomach. In fact, the bullet ricocheted off the cave wall behind her, shattering the glass in the nearby case. Arm lashing out faster than anyone would expect, she clotheslined me, knocking me to the floor and preventing my escape.
“I'll take that,” she said while relieving me of my gun. “Not that it will do you any good.”
“As I said,” Harrison said from behind me. “You might be infected with the spores. We're taking you to make sure you are.”

Now it's up to Charlotte to rescue him.


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