It's the midway point of the weeks, which I am most grateful for as it's been a pretty busy few days for me at my newspaper job, as well as completing the second round of edits for Desolation Angel. I am so thrilled ot be another step closer to having the book ready for release and can't wait to share the band's story with everyone. in the meantime, I've turned my attention to a work in progress that has lain dormant for several months: my snake shifter story. Born out of writing prompts, it currently sits at just short of 45,000 words. The portion I am sharing today is the first three pages of the manuscript. Please feel free to leave comments in the comments section, I always love feedback.
Darrell groaned. His shoulder hurt, his lower back was screaming at him to please find it a heating pad or some ice, either one, it wasn’t going to be picky, and to top things off, his Ex had been blowing up his cell phone for the past two hours, leaving rambling streams of profanities between begging and threats. All in all it had been a shit day and all Darrell wanted was to fall on his couch, pop some painkillers and wash them down with an ice cold beer. From that point he didn’t really care what was on TV as long as the background noise drowned out reality. He’d about had it with reality for the day.
His keys clattered when they hit the battered end table, and in a rustle of leather he’d shed his jacket and dumped it on a chair. He pulled his gun from the holster on his back, checked that the safety was on and laid it on top of the jacket, shedding the holster next and then the leather throng that held his long hair back. Heavy, silken waves of black, red and gold shimmered as they spilled around his face and he rubbed at his temples, glad that the heavy mass was no longer pulling at them.
It was seven steps to the kitchen and he yanked the beer from the fridge as he was yanking open the drawer where he kept his Vicodin. The beer he used the edge of the counter to open, the sudden action sending a riot of pain reverberating up his arm. Two wasn’t going to cut it tonight, so he quickly shook three pills from the bottle and eyed how many were left. Son of a bitch, he was gonna have to go back to the docs and soon, that or him and Mr. Daniels and Mr. Morgan were gonna be getting far more up close and personal than they usually did.
As he turned around, already debating which would be the better option, a quick, questionless trip to the liquor store or thirty minutes parked on his ass in a waiting room and another thirty-forty dealing with his doc, who also happened to be his brother. God he wished Dami would give him a break with all the questions ‘cause his brother’s cerulean stare and folded arms never failed to crack Darrell just a little, or maybe what cracked him open and spilled his secrets upon the floor was that looking at Dami was like looking at everything he was supposed to be, if he hadn’t been born damaged and flawed.
He caught sight of his mismatched eyes in the mirror as he headed to the living room, desperate to put the day behind him. As always, seeing those eyes reminded him of how defective he really was, and not just on the outside, but the inside too. His green eye was blind, save for those moments when it decided to peer into the soul of another and bring their future roaring like a waterfall of images through his head.
The twisted part of him, the cold, sick, sadistic nature that set him apart as much as his stare, loved when those images spelled out pain, misfortune, and death, death was a high that left him not needing the drugs of the bottle gods. What kind of monster fed off the hurt of others the way vampires fed off blood, hell, he was worse than any bloodsucker, at least they spared their victims pain when they could, left them with pleasant, sometimes even erotic memories and licked the wound closed to hide where it had been. Him, he just busted lives open wide, sucking in all that delicious fear, doubt, paranoia, oh god but he loved when he got the paranoid ones, he’d fuck with them for days before allowing the visions to play out the way they were supposed to. Drop them a little hint here, a little clue there, let them known disaster was breathing down their necks and watch as they scrambled to do everything in their power to avoid it. Only there was never anything that they could do.
He was caught between self-loathing and longing for just the kind of paranoid son of a bitch that might help him forget this day when his eyes landed on his couch. Sitting where he’d planned to drop his ass and rest was a woman with blood diamond scales running down her arms and the brightest ruby eyes he had ever seen. Crimson lips parted to reveal a pair of brilliant white fangs and her hair was the color of sunsets, all red and orange hues spilling down her back. A pattern of scales ran up her forehead like a widow’s peak, and covered her cheekbones. Her ears were mere slits set against the silver and red prismatic colors and when she turned, he was sure he heard rattling and looked down to see a snakes tail coiled on his plush leather cushions.
“What. The. Fuck.” He stammered, wishing he hadn’t taken off his gun.
She hissed, like lips peeled back, forked tongue out and flickering in his direction kind of hiss and he shrank back, ‘cause however messed up he was, she was way on the other side of normal.
“Your crass words are offensive to my ears,” she seethed, coils uncoiling and snaking towards him and he took another step back, ‘til the backs of his legs hit the front of a chair and he dropped his ass in the lumpy thing.
“Apologize,” she ordered.
He opened his mouth to tell her to go to hell, but all that came out was a choked wheeze as something squeezed his throat so hard he was seeing red spots and haze.
“You were told to apologize,” a deeper, harsher voice ordered, and Darrell forced himself to focus, to grasp the coils around his neck and pull at the thick weight of them enough to catch a gasp of air.
“Fuck. You!” He gasped, then wished like hell he hadn’t said that because the crushing weight constricted more and no amount of clawing at it could buy him a single gulp of air. The haze grew, his vision beginning to go dark when at last the coils let up and he slumped backwards without them to hold him up. At least the chair caught him, he gave thanks for it while he sucked in as much air as he could, despite the soreness of his throat and the throbbing pain in his head.
“I would not suggest taking that tone with me again, or using that kind of language,” the female…thing said, and Darrell tried to focus on her again, while keeping his eye on the big piebald colored snake man coiled inches to his left.
“I have a name, and it is not ‘thing’,” she informed him sternly.
“You…you’re reading my mind,” he choked out.
“Not that it is very difficult, but yes,” she informed him.
“So if you have a name, what is it?” he asked, doing his damnedest not to toss a couple four letter words in.
“Kaandhal,” she told him, “my name is Kaandhal and he is Zaiden, we are here about our brother, Zxex.”
“Sorry, but I don’t know your brother,” he told them, wishing they would get the hel…get out of his place so he could lay down, not like he had any plans on sleeping after seeing these guys, this was like something straight out of nightmares and freakshows. No, strike that, he was out of a freakshow, these guys were nightmares all the way.
“We’re no different than you, Darion son of Darshan, last of the pure blooded prophets of our race,” Kaandhal stated as she studied him.
“WHOA, hang on a minute,” Darrell spat. “My name is Darrell, D. A. R. R. E. L. L. not Darion and my father’s name is….”
He choked on the words he was about to speak as images filled his head of his parents arguing, his mother’s anguished face, his father accusing her of cursing them all the moment she’d broken her vows to him and worse, when she’d given birth to another man’s son.
“Now you see?” she asked, her tone almost gentle.
“That doesn’t explain why you’re here,” he snapped, doing his best to deflect the question. He wasn’t even going to try to figure out what it all meant for him until after this pair was long gone and he’d had a good, hard dance with some good, strong whiskey.
“As I said, we’re here about my brother Zxex,” She began, calm in the face of all the anxiety rolling off of him. For a moment he had to wonder if this was how his own victims felt, right before the end, then the crash of her words washed over him, and he blinked and asked her to repeat them.
She looked him dead in the eyes, locking his stare with her own. “Where is he, Darian? I swear to you if you have caused him harm in any way your death will be more painful than anything you could possibly imagine. I can shred you from the inside out and leave you broken and still living inside that shell you call a body.”
Yeah, that was pretty much what he’d thought she said, when her eyes were going all hypnotic and his mind wasn’t trying to flash to places best left buried. With sound roaring in his ears and fear creeping up his spine like a hand of ice and swords, his brain did the only thing left that it could possibly do and promptly shorted out, leaving him tipping sideways in the chair as everything slipped to a silent, merciful black.