Thursday, June 27, 2013

Spirit release

Spirit will be out on July 1. I don't know whether the jitters are excitement or terror.

Valerian (Val) Howell has no intention of using the Spirit skills she was born with, until she stands over the body of another spirit worker at a murder scene.

At that point she has a choice. It's either use those skills or get flattened, with the dubious help of an irritatingly attractive coworker-turned-bodyguard who just might be working for her enemies.

She's tangled in a web of memories that aren't even hers, fighting an enemy she can't see with weapons she's never taught herself to use.

Why can't anything dealing with Spirit be simple?


I'd deliberately picked Caliente to see if he could be put off by the decor―or the food. The food's taken a sharp downward turn since the old cook left. Ethan didn't seem concerned, didn't even seem to notice the ancient hairless moose-head hanging in the shadows eying us balefully. Did it resent that we were still alive?

"I don't want anyone to know." I glared at him. "And you mention it you're dead."

What seemed to be eight generations of layered decorations, from old autographed pictures of Elvis Presley to Chianti bottles and stuffed deer heads, made the shadows into a tasteful person's nightmare. Somewhere off in a high corner something with more than two eyes glared down at us. I ignored it.

"Why? Lots of people have minor sensitivities."

I loaded a chip with salsa and crunched into it, then held up a finger as if my mouth was full. Polite. Yeah, right. It gave me time to think. "Lots of people aren't me. I don't want people demanding I do spirit work for them. I open those eyes, I'm legally liable." Thankfully foretelling had never been one of my skills so I couldn't tell anyone whether they were in line to get that promotion or if their boyfriend was going to propose.

Then again, in some cases foretelling might have been useful. This was one of them. His eyes widened slightly, and I wondered again why I hadn't just gotten in my car and driven away rather than stalking over to confront him in the parking lot. I'd just told him that not only was I sensitive, but sensitive enough to interpret what I saw.

"Then why are you here?" He waved a hand, presumably meaning not so much the schmaltzy, old fashioned restaurant as the office we both worked in. Why not join a highly lucrative profession where my skills could be utilized?

"Because," I said patiently, "I don't want to use it." The reasons behind that would take more time than he would want to spend on me. Twenty three years of living with Môma, to be precise.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wyre Rat (part 13)

Ahead, a faint scuffle. Angry squeaks and squeals, the snarl of some kind of predator. My twitching nose told me that someone had cornered a stupid cat.

I strolled forward, and looked up at the dumpster where I'd almost had to sleep the night before. Then I cocked my head to the side and looked around the edge.

A cat, yes. From the patterns, probably the same cat that had followed me before.

I considered that momentarily, remembering the animals that had walked casually into the Center. Wyre Containment Facility. Even as a rat, I shivered.

Red eyes flashed and the cat crouched down. This had to be a real cat--surely a wyre wouldn't actually hunt a rat that way...

The cat pounced, and the smallish rat turned and ran. It scuttled close to the wall, dodging teeth and claws when necessary, and squished itself down into a space that most humans would have considered too small for its bulk.

The cat snarled at the hole, its claws flexing.

Unconcerned now, I sat easily on my haunches and watched the play.

As if the cat sensed me, sensed my attention, it spun. In doing so it put its back to the hole it had been watching and the rat slithered out and ran right to a pile of garbage. It burrowed in and held very still.

Smart rodent.

The cat glared at me, crouched again. Stupid cat. I looked away toward the mouth of the alley, pretending I didn't care about the predator a few feet away.

He squashed himself flatter to the pavement, his hind-end twitching. I watched him, spread my own claws and bared my teeth--still not looking at him. If he was human he'd see that as the insult it was. If he wasn't, he'd maybe get a brain and run.

I saw the anger. His ears laid back.

Human. Wyre.

Part 14

If you want to start at the beginning: Wyre-Rat episode 1

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wyre Rat (Part 12)

I sat, swishing my tail like a stupid cat, eyes half shut as I watched. No one came in and no one left. Some time after midnight I saw the first movement--three animals approached the big doors. A dog and two cats, it looked like, although the dog was small and furry.

The door swung open--not from either side, but from the middle. The animals walked in as if this was the most ordinary thing in the world.

So at least some of the wyre were not being held prisoner. Some worked with their captors.

One of the cats turned and looked back just before it walked through the doors, looked right at me.

Time to go.

I scuttled through the bushes, looking for any hint that I was seen or followed. This whole thing was looking more and more like a trap, probably set just for me.

I got back out to the main street and crept through the shadows away from that place. I had enough information, if I left now. They could send someone else in, infiltrate the place.

I scuttled back through the alleys and streets, lost myself. Not literally, but I ran around in enough circles to confuse anything but a 'bot. At a sound in the alley ahead of me I pressed myself against the wall, whiskers quivering. My ears shifted forward and back to pick up the sound if any humans approached.

Part 13

If you want to start at the beginning: Wyre-Rat episode 1

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wyre-Rat (Part 11)

In any city there are going to be people who live below the notice of the law abiding citizens. Simple enough to identify them, and to approach one with an offer.

I took a risk. Although the small room they rented to me was not an official apartment (meaning the city got no taxes or fees) they could easily call the police about a squatter if they thought they could collect a reward.

I paid in local currency and spoke with a dialect from the north, telling her that I needed the room for two days. She didn't question me. I paid her what she asked, and no more, and I bargained as much as I could to bring the price down. My money had to last until I could get myself and the un-named wyre out, and I could very easily find myself bribing someone. Or several someones, and that isn't cheap.

I knew my landlady was watching, so I left the room through a window and dragged my bag out after me. Not the whole thing--she'd get suspicious if I left nothing in the room--but the small green handbag with all my cash. That I buried just outside the window, and shifted again to rat shape.

This area of town was all narrow streets and alleys. I followed real rats when I could, because they knew all the ways. I edged closer to the monolith they called The Center and finally crouched in hiding across from its main gates.

I'd been in the city for close to a week and never seen this building.

The rest of the city was old and rambling, houses of adobe and plaster behind high garden walls with locked gates. But this area, the center of the city, was all modern. I wondered how many ancient homes they'd flattened for it.

The space around these buildings was wide and flat, with little landscaping beyond grass and bright lights everywhere. Apparently vehicles weren't allowed either. While I could hear traffic in all directions, none came through this area.

The Center was a monolith in the middle of the clear area, probably three stories of blank, windowless walls. The only visible entrance looked like some kind of security gate and my instincts told me that the place was under constant surveillance. No guards visible, but they must be there. Paranoia.

It did occur to me that I didn't really need to do this. I could just slip back out, go to the new hotel as planned and pretend none of this had happened.

My team needed to know the truth.

I considered the monolith one more time. What would happen to that massive door if the power went out? Likely they had backup generators, but a determined rat could solve that problem. If I was right about this place, it was built to keep people in, not out.

Part 12

If you want to start at the beginning: Wyre-Rat episode 1

Monday, June 3, 2013

Two years ago...

It's an anniversary, of sorts. Two years ago (June of 2011) I decided to quit my job and write. And I have been writing. August 5th will be the next "anniversary," when I officially abandoned my old job and stepped into the dark.

I've learned so much, but the main thing comes down to this. Fear has no part in the decision making process. If you're doing something (or not doing something) because of fear, it's the wrong reason. Every time.

I'm serious. If you're facing someone with a gun and he says get in the car, fear says get in the car. But there are logical reasons NOT to get in that car, not to do as your fear tells you to do. If you want to run marathons but you're afraid you might not succeed, get rid of the fear.

If you're afraid of anything--living your dream, starting a family, changing genres--get the fear out of the way. Easier said than done, but possible. Once you eliminate the fear, the process takes on a life of its own. You can then identify the real reasons why you should or should not do something, and make a decision on that basis.

I tend to get all muddled--fear of taking any action at all. I'm afraid to, I'm afraid not to. I worry about what might happen and what might not happen. I want something and I want the opposite just as much (although for different reasons), which makes it impossible to make a rational decision.

If you're thinking of changing jobs, get rid of the fear. If you want to live your dream, get rid of the fear. Whatever your fear is, push it gently to one side and separate the fear from the decision. Decision making becomes much simpler, and you may just find answers you never expected when you take that first step into the dark.