Half Dead And Half Alive: Solitary Creatures Part Two

Edwin hated the smell of incense, it was too potent and the nagging voice in the back of his brain told him that it was only there to hide something from him. Something like the stench of slowly decaying bodies.

Or one slowly decaying body to be exact. One slowly decaying body that had been stuck in the basement of a church for the last eight hundred years.

‘So you’re not dead,’ croaked Syms. ‘That’s a surprise and a half. Thought you and your halfwit might have tripped over your own feet into a grave months back, but look at us now, together again, all in the same room.’

Sammy shifted at the halfwit comment but didn’t speak. He wanted to be in the room even less than Edwin and Edwin was about ready to kill to get out.

He’d cocked up Edwin decided. Syms had been a bad, bad idea and now he remembered why.

The zombie kept looking between them, his one good eye bulging in its socket while what was left of the other swung from the remains of his optic nerve. Gummy as a newborn, Syms smiled with an open mouth, showing the frayed insides of his cheek and how the light from the bare bulb above them could be seen through it. In the corner a black and white TV hissed loudly, the shopping channel flickering in and out of focus on the fuzzy screen. It was the old sort, so old that they didn’t even make them anymore.

The rest of the room was taken up by packing crates of impulse purchases charged on other people’s credit cards.

Syms loved buying things, but he rarely liked them once they were in his hands.

‘Still alive,’ said Edwin, swallowing his nausea. ‘We’re here to take up the offer you made back in Nebraska.’

‘Nebraska?’ Syms frowned. ‘I’ve never been to Nebraska, what are you talking about?’

‘Nebraska,’ Edwin repeated. ‘I’m talking about Nebraska?’

Syms’ frown deepened and he sucked in a breath that hollowed out his cheeks, the skin threatening to split.

‘Ah,’ he said at last. ‘Nebraska. Now I remember.’ He nodded to himself. ‘Sorry chaps, offer expired I’m afraid. First come first served and all that jazz. I will let you know if there’s another opening though.’

Sammy swore and jumped from his seat. ‘Told you. Told you he’d screw us around.’

His elbow caught the nearest stack of boxes and they tumbled into the next.

Syms scowled.

‘I was going to return some of those.’

‘No you weren’t,’ said Edwin. ‘You never return anything. You leave it until it starts to rot alongside you.’

He put a hand on Sammy’s arm and pulled him back into the low seat of one the deck chairs that they’d been offered on their arrival.

‘Looks Syms, we came a long way-‘

‘Barely thirty miles,’ interrupted the Zombie. ‘If you think that’s a long way you should try a crossing the north pole.’

‘I might some day,’ said Edwin, ‘but for now I think I’m fine and that’s besides the point. You asked us to help you with your little peacekeeper initiative, the way I see it, we can help you and kill monsters or ignore you and kill more monsters. Either way, I’m getting to put down the bad guys.’

‘Is that supposed to convince me to hire you?’

‘You don’t pay so you can’t be hiring us to begin with,’ Edwin pointed out.

Syms’ face broke into a smile.

‘I know why you’re here now,’ he chuckled. ‘Trying to convince her you’re not all bad are we?’ He trailed off into a dry wheeze.

‘Kara’s dead. I’m not trying to prove anything,’ said Edwin. ‘Life just happened to be getting a little dull and I fancied a change.’

‘Wouldn’t be much of a change,’ coughed Syms. ‘You’ll still be sticking monsters and trying to keep out of trouble with the so-called authorities.’

‘True. But I got a feeling that the monsters you’ll be sending us after are a few shades darker than the average variety, am I right?’

‘Aye, you could say that, or you could say I’d be sending you after the deepest shit scrapings from the most forsaken pits of hell. Either way it won’t be a pretty job and you’re likely to see your insides on the outside before too long.’

Syms scratched at his chin with a finger that was mostly bone.

‘You sure you want in? Once you say yes there won’t be any saying no. It’s a blood deal type of job, no other way about it.’

‘I’m in,’ said Edwin. ‘Sammy too.’

‘Of course, where one goes the other follows,’ nodded Syms. ‘Like a dog and a bad smell.’

He paused and mulled the idea over in his head.

‘I might have a job for you, if you’re not too keen on surviving the week?

Something has been stirring up the ancient ones. Nothing dramatic, but it has the promise to become something if we don’t take care of it in time.’

Sammy’s head picked up. ‘What makes it so dangerous that you doubt we’ll survive the week?’

‘Well apart from your general uselessness and a tendency to ignore the needs of your own arcane abilities, it has killed every other agent that I sent out after it. We found their hollowed out bodies mere hours after they set off to track the creature down. It appears to sense when someone is coming for it and more frustratingly, it has proven impossible to trace using the ordinary means.’

‘The ordinary means?’ The hairs on the back of Edwin’s neck lifted as the bead curtain at the top of the stairs stirred. The wooden steps sighed beneath her weight until she hit the concrete floor, heels clicking against the cold surface.

‘The ordinary means being myself,’ said Ivory, her red eyes streaked with black in the artificial light.

She was a spiderweb of runes, her scalp shaved to show the words inked there and her fingers ringed with chapters from books long since lost.

Edwin shuddered as she moved past him.

‘Ivory,’ he greeted. ‘Such a horror, like always.’

She smiled, snapped her fingers and fire bloomed on her fingertips.

‘Burn in hell Edwin,’ she sneered and snuffed the flames.

She took her place behind Syms, folding her arms across her chest.

‘As I said,’ continued the Zombie. ‘Ivory here has been unable to locate this thing’s exact location which suggests that it’s far more powerful than your everyday run of the mill artefact.’

‘Which begs the question, why has it not woken any of the ancients.’ Sammy’s grip on his armrests had tightened and the wood was starting to splinter. ‘It’s a trap and you want to throw us into it.’

‘Of course!’ grinned Syms. ‘It took you long enough to work it out.’ He folded forward so his elbows rested on his knees and he was almost nose to nose with Edwin. ‘It’s a trap and I want you to beat it. What do you say?’

‘We say no,’ said Sammy. ‘Right Edwin? We say no and we haul arse out of here and hope to hell that we never see your stinking face again.’

He turned to look at Edwin who remained silent, his face turning green as he tried not to breath through his nose and found that breathing through his mouth was just as bad, if not worse.

‘No Edwin! We say no!’

‘Yes,’ choked Edwin, his eyes watering. Syms moved back and he managed to suck in a breath that didn’t reek of death. ‘We say yes and we show this bastard that he needs us.’

He faced Sammy’s thunderous look.

‘We beat this thing because that is what we do and then we lay its mangled, dead corpse at this bastard’s feet.’

‘I don’t see how that helps us,’ said Sammy. ‘All I see is how we end up dead.’

‘You won’t,’ said Ivory. ‘You’ve got time yet, I’ve seen it.’

Sammy snarled in her direction. ‘I don’t want to know what you’ve seen.’

‘Then we’re in agreement,’ smiled Syms. ‘You will take the mission, swear the blood oath, kill the monster or die, and my darling Ivory will restrain from revealing any more about the future.’ He interlaced his fingers, the flesh and the bone. ‘Well,’ he said. ‘That does work out rather nicely after all.’

Edwin pulled himself to his feet, ignoring the way Ivory watched him.

‘I suppose so,’ he agreed. Sammy stood beside him. ‘We’ll see you in a week.’

‘Three days,’ said Syms.

Edwin started.

‘Three days? What the hell!’

‘Three days,’ said Syms. ‘If you can manage that then you can work for me.’

stocksnap_n67uqadhi4


Part Three: Monsters Love A Church

This was part two of Solitary Creatures. It’s a new series and I’m not sure where I will take it so do let me know what you think in the comments below.

If you’re a writer yourself then please take the time to check out the weekly writer’s feature where each Wednesday we feature a guest post talking about writers dealing with those moments where you just want to pack this whole creative malarkey in.

It’s an ongoing feature so if you fancy contributing you can find more details on the post Call For Guest Writers.

Writing and Works is heaving with over five years worth of writing so have a good poke around if you’ve got the time. If you find something you like feel free to share it, like it, write it on a rock and throw it at someone. Actually don’t do that, it’s not nice to throw things.

Thanks for reading.

[Partly Inspired By The Daily Prompt: Ancient]

Click here for Part One: Solitary Creatures

Confessions Of A Bookworm: August

My last book related posts was all the way back in May so I’m feeling a little ashamed of myself, especially when I look and see that most of the books I was reading or about to read are still unread or half finished around the house. Part of the reason was moving house, this meant I didn’t have much time for reading and alongside studying and writing, getting through actual books has been a bit tricky. I’m getting back on track though. So, for the last Wednesday in August, here is my booky post.

 

What Am I Currently Reading:

This month’s list is a lot shorter than my normal ones, just two books.

‘Legends and Liars’ is the second book in Julia Knight’s series and the first book got me absolutely hooked. It’s fantasy but with a hint of steampunk, Reyes [the main city of the first book] is a clockwork wonder and the Ikaras of the second book is a mysterious glass city of beauty and unexplained complexities.I adore Kacha and Voch already, mostly because they both come across as so realistically flawed. Voch is a grandstanding idiot who values his reputation [be it real of crafted] above everything, but who will still pull through for his sister if needed. Kacha is fierce and deadly, but she has a strong set of morals and you can see how that independence takes its toll. Overall, Julia Knight is a great creator of characters and I can’t wait to get onto the third book and see how this all plays out.

I’ve only read a little of ‘Trigger Warning’ so I don’t have very much to say about it. Since it’s a short story collection I’m enjoying dipping in and out of it. Neil Gaiman is probably my favourite writer of all time and his short stories never fail to impress.

 

What I’ve Just Finished:

As I’ve already covered Julia Knight’s series in the first part of this post I’ll focus on ‘American Gods’ and ‘This Savage Song’.

‘American Gods’ is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read for years and that everyone told me I should have read already. I’ve owned it for a while but never got around to cracking the front cover but when I saw that a TV series was coming out for it, I decided to get my but in gear and get it read.

What can I say? I adored it. As someone who loves mythology and Neil Gaiman, this book appealed to pretty much everything I adore in writing. Shadow was an amazing character and the whole way through I was rooting for him. In a lot of ways it reminded me of ‘Anansi Boys’, partly because it shares some characters and partly because it shares a lot of themes when it comes to people and family. Both books are brilliant reads however, and American Gods is one of those where the ending is something of a surprise but you can see the hints all the way through when you look back. I’m really happy that I got around to reading this and I can’t wait for the show to come out so I can be one of those annoying people who points out all the differences with the book. Only joking, I’m just really excited to watch Ricky Whittle play Shadow.

‘This Savage Song.’ I ordered this book not really expecting very much. I opened the first page thinking I would read maybe a chapter or two and then put it down.

I did put it down.

Four hours later when I’d finished the whole, flipping book!

This was another book where I fell in love with the characters from page one and the author did a fantastic job of making them seem so real and so human. Once I finished the book the first thing I did was check to see if a sequel was out. There isn’t one unfortunately but I’m keeping an eye out for one because I really want to find out what happens next.

The book’s set in a semi-destroyed city so it has that dystopian feel but there is the hint that the rest of the world hasn’t suffered the same fall out so it’s a little different to most of the dystopian books I’ve read so far which was really nice.

If you want a book that keeps you hooked all the way through then I’d really recommend ‘Savage Song.’

 

What I’m Reading Next:

29564630._UY1600_SS1600_

Only one book in this section and that’s because ‘AMERICAN MONSTERS’ FINALLY CAME OUT AND I WANT TO READ IT SO BADLY. I’m trying to be good and focus on finishing ‘Legend and Liars’ first before reading this because I need to stop hopping from book to book without finishing stuff. But anyway, you can read what I thought of this in September’s post. [Haha, look at me trying to plan and setting myself goals that probably won’t happen.]

Thanks for reading.

img_1384-0

NaPoWriMo Day Ten

Today’s prompt for NaPoWriMo was to write a book spine poem. This means taking the titles of books of your shelves and using them to write a poem. Since I own over six hundred books, I haven’t used all of them in this poem. Instead I kept it to less than thirty. I’m not sure it makes much sense so I’d love to hear your thoughts.  The title is taken from Kate Innes’ first novel.

The Errant Hours

The horse and the boy,

the man who knew infinity,

under these northern lights

watching a dance of chaos,

and the madness underneath.

A great a terrible beauty,

a poison garden.

 

Among thieves,

pirates,

at the ocean at the end of the lane.

A place called Neverwhere,

amongst returners

of the darkest mercy.

He dreams of a dark warrior.

 

His huntress

with an assassin’s blade,

a storm glass

in the centre of a city of bones.

The gathering of the lost,

mothers, mystics and merrymakers,

here lies his inheritance.

 

Wormwood

and rebel angels.

The colour of magic

for burial rights

only dead until dark.

 

Amongst smoke and mirrors,

he searches for good omens.

If We Were Having Coffee

Hi everyone, it’s that time of the week again when we you get to hear me ramble at you about my week. For once I’ve had a pretty eventful week and managed to get quite a bit done so it’s going to be a pretty full post.

So if we were having coffee I’d tell you all about…

MY NEW FISH!!!!

 

Okay, so that’s probably not the most important part of my week, but I actually went out and bought them, brought them home, sorted out the tanks and got everything sorted out by myself. Fiancée was asleep for the whole duration of my going out, buying said fish, returning and putting them in the tank.

Fish.’

‘Yes, fish.’

‘Couldn’t you have bought some better one?’

Apparently he isn’t the biggest fan of platty fish but oh well. They’re mine and I love them. I bought three, one oranda called Danny and two platty who I’ve named Thelma and Louise. Thelma and Louise seem pretty happy with their new tank, Danny however has decided that the tiny space beneath the filter column is the best place in the world to hide out from the world.

In other less fishy news, I’ve managed to complete the first 50,000 words of my novel! Yay me. This only brings me up to chapter sixteen and the second half of the novel is terrifying me because I keep remembering bits from the first 50,000 words that I haven’t come back to yet, that seem to have no resolution in sight. I’m going to keep going though and in the end I’ll have a finished manuscript ready to send out to readers. I’m defiantly getting there with my writing, I just need to remember that it takes time to write a book and just because I’m not finished yet, doesn’t mean I’m never going to finish.

This week also marked the first full week of NaPoWriMo. For those of you following my blog you will have seen my attempts at responding to the first seven days of prompts for this event. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t been the best poems, what matters is that I’ve got some poetry down on the screen and my readers seem to be enjoying it.

my_family_and_other_superheroes_covercosta_quicksand coverWhich brings me nicely to my next point. As of Monday, I am hosting a guest-post-a-day marathon for poets! If you are a poet or you know a poet then let me know if you’re interested in writing a post about why you write poetry, how you got into it and who inspires you. I have three poets lined up for the first three days so there are still plenty of spaces to be filled. Email me at caroljforrester@hotmail.com.

Poetry has defiantly been the theme of this week and I actually managed to get my butt back to the wonderful Shrewsbury Poetry night that takes place on the first Thursday of each month. Alongside the normal array of wonderful local poets, this month saw Jonathan Edwards taking to the stage to share some of his work. Winner of the 2014 Costa Poetry Award, this Welsh Poet was something to behold. He was funny and clever, reading us some fantastic poetry. I even picked up a signed copy of his book ‘My Family And Other Superheroes’ which I’m taking great joy in making through.

Also taking the stage was Kate Innes, author of ‘The Errant Hours’, a historical fiction set in the thirteenth century.

Welsh Marches, July 1284 – the uprising in Wales is over, the leaders gruesomely executed, the dead are buried. But for Illesa Arrowsmith, the war’s aftermath is just as brutal. When is brother is thrown into the Forester’s prison on false charges, she is left impoverished and alone. All Illesa has left is the secret manuscript entrusted to her – a book so powerful it can save lives, a book so valuable that its discovery could lead to her death.

When the bailiff’s daughter finds it, Illessa decides to run, and break her brother out of jail by whatever means. But the powerful Forester tracks them down, and Illesa must put herself and the book at the mercy of an scrupulous knight who threatens to reveal all their secrets, one by one.

Inspired by the seductive art of illuminated manuscripts, The Errant Hours draws from the deep well of medieval legend to weave a story of survival and courage, trickery and love.

If you want to check out Kate Innes’ website the link is here.

That’s about it for this week, not a whole lot more has happened. I’ve been getting more hits on my writing, but that could be because I’ve been more active. All in all this week has been productive and I’m hoping next week will be productive too.

How are all of the rest of you?

weekendcoffeeshare