Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wyre-rat (part 17)

"Why would I do that? If I was one of your supervisors, why would I tell you things that go against everything you've been taught?"

His breath came a little deeper. "I don't know." Abruptly his shape shifted, shrank. He fought his way out of the clothes and stared at me. After a moment of contemplation he jumped up on the edge of the bed and bumped his head at my hand.

Did he want me to pet him? Weird. I held my hands away. He put his paws up on my knee, looked me in the face. I knew he was using the cat's senses to determine if I was telling the truth or not.

"I will try to get you out, if that's what you want," I whispered, and found my fingers running through the soft fur along his back. "I am not one of your supervisors, and keeping any human being captive like that is just..." I couldn't think of the word. "Disgusting."

He bumped his head against my hand and curled up with both paws on one thigh, an odd rumble shaking him. Purring?

I moved my hands uneasily, brushing him away without actually touching. "Get off me."

He jumped down and curled in the nest of clothes, as if determined to keep to his cat shape. I pulled the light blanket up. I'd be more comfortable as a rat, but best to stay human while he was a cat--particularly while I slept.

After a while I peeked over the edge of the bed and he was staring up at me. He twisted his head oddly, purred again. Stopped. Took a step closer to the edge of the bed and butted his head against my hand.

I yanked my hand away. "Will you stop that?"

The volume of his purrs increased. I've heard of a cat smile, but I don't think I've ever seen one. Obviously, just like every other cat, he wanted attention from anyone who wasn't interested in him.

"You jump up on this bed," I whispered fiercely, "you will find out what flying feels like." He peered up at me with that same grin, then put his paws up on the edge of the mattress and stared me in the face. A dare?

I stared back. "Try it, fur-ball."

The cat's head twisted to one side, and I could swear he was considering whether he wanted to push it. I raised my eyebrows at him.

After another contemplative moment, he put his paws down and curled up, still purring loudly. I settled back, pulled the blanket up and drifted off.

I woke up with a warm weight on my feet.

I sat up, glaring. He peered at me from under one paw, trying to look innocent. With the blanket wrapped around my feet I couldn't do much, but I flipped him over the edge of the bed. He thumped, rolled, sat staring at me in the dark. The way a cat's eyes glow is really eerie.

Part 18

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

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wyre-rat (part 16)

Good. He handed the bottle back to me and I gestured to the bathroom. "You can refill it and keep it, if you'd like."

As soon as that stuff got into his system, it would attack and neutralize whatever tracker they'd implanted. These were the kind of precautions that had kept me free this long.

He got to his feet and did as instructed. He settled back to the pallet with his water bottle clutched in his hand. "Who are you?"

No way I was going to tell him that, when even without the tracker he might go wyre and take the information back to his "Center."

"I'm a free wyre. I run an underground for others who want to get out."

I studied him, waited for his reaction, and wished I was in rat form. The rat would have known whether he was lying just from the smell.

He stared, blank-faced. "Want to get out?" He said it like it was unbelievable to him. "We're taken care of, we have everything. Why would we want to get out?"

So he had been part of a trap.

He stared down at his hands, turned them over. "I don't want to leave. I..."

I heard panic in his voice. "Then why did you come with me?"

"I thought you were a supervisor. Only a supervisor would be allowed out... unmonitored." He blinked, squeezed his eyes shut. His breath came very shallow, and as if I was still in rat form I knew his heart was beating too fast.

Frightened. He looked down at the water bottle. "Did you poison me?"

"No." Let him make of that what he would. "I am not one of these supervisors."

"There's no way." The words were nearly inaudible. "People hate us. The Center saved our lives. Wyre couldn't live out here, you're talking about an impossibility."

"Then why did you come with me?" I asked again. "I'm serious. I can try to get you out, if that's what you want. In most of the rest of the world, we live like anyone else. We're trusted, paid for our work. Treated like human beings."

"You're trying to trick me."

Part 17

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

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wyre-rat (part 15)

I magnanimously let him use the shower first. The blood, reekish as it was to my rat nose, barely registered as a human. I made up a pallet on the floor, since the single bed in the room was far too narrow for two.

Still a very real possibility that this was a trap, I perched on the windowsill in my rat form listening for any hint of unexplained movement outside the apartment.
He emerged from the shower, toweling his hair dry with one of the used-to-be-a-sheet towels the landlady had provided. He stumbled over the pallet, and stared in surprise at the rat staring out the window.

I jumped down, strolled past him into the miniscule bathroom and shut the door. After a moment I opened it again, still in rat form, and dragged my clothes through the door by my teeth.

He continued to stare, or I assume he did.

No big fancy tub here, no thick soft towels. And apparently no hot water. I shivered through my shower, dried off as much as I could and dressed again in the flippy white dress I'd started the day in.

I fluffed my hair with the square of cloth I presumed was intended to take the place of a towel and walked out into the bedroom. He was already curled up on the pallet of thin blankets, and looked so much like a human sized cat that I wondered for a moment. He looked up at me as I edged around him.

I sat on the bed, curled my feet under me and cocked my head to one side, waiting.

"You look like a rat when you do that." He uncurled himself and sat with his hands on his knees.

"You look like a cat when you do that," I retorted.

The corner of his mouth turned up. "You know they'll be after me."

"They can't track you any more." Of course they would use an implanted tracker as well, but it might be a while before they decided to use that.

"No one has ever gotten away." He looked away, studied my temporary refuge.

"They're holding you prisoner then. That's what the Center is for."

He blinked in surprise, looked me straight in the face for the first time since I'd shifted to human form. "Of course. Did you think otherwise?"

I reached into my bag and handed him a bottle of water I'd brought from my hotel room. "Drink that."

He stared down at it as if expecting poison. I grabbed the bottle, uncapped it and took a swallow. "Satisfied?"

Confused, he downed the water. He did seem thirsty, because he drank the whole thing with only a few stops for breath.

Part 16

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

Monday, July 8, 2013

My turn! My turn!

Hi! I was hoping you'd all show up here eventually, and here you are! This is the last stop before we head back to the party, so here are the questions:

What color are Ethan's eyes?

What does Val call the desk monitors at her work?

1/2 point: Is there a DSMV?

Personally I think the screen-on fairy is hilarious. A final bonus question: Look back through the other posts on this blog. What does Val think of the decor at the restaurant called Caliente?

Link to Sample pages of Spirit

Back to the party

Launch Party Tonight!

Tonight is the launch party for Spirit, and you're all invited. We're having a facebook/blog scavenger hunt, with points and prizes. Let other people know who might be interested. A free e-copy of Spirit to the fourth person to tweet about it with the hashtag #spiritthebook.

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?

Sample (from chapter 2):

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.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Wyre-rat fail

I forgot to schedule Wyre-rat when the old episodes ran out. Back on schedule.

Wyre-rat (part 14)

I took my attention from the mouth of the alley, stood and paced forward, then sat again. I studied him. Some kind of calico, which in my training meant "mongrel."

His fur was mostly dark, streaked with odd patches of a lighter color that I couldn't identify with the rat's color-blind eyes. He blended well into the darkness.

He stared at me for a time, then slowly sat up, his front paws not curled beneath him but crouched low and ready if I should attack.

Likely that's exactly what he expected.

I stayed were I was. We couldn't communicate--one or the other of us was going to have to shift shape.

Instead he extended a paw toward me, claws retracted. I bent over to look and almost lost control. Buried in his fur, in a bracelet of stretchy material much like the one I'd worn last night, a tracking device.

His head dropped and I wondered. Taking a single step forward at a time, I crawled to my belly in front of him. Even slower, I reached out a paw. With my paw resting over his but not touching, I waited to see if this was what he wanted.

His head bobbed. Cautiously, still not touching in case this was a trap, I hooked claws over the edge of the stretchy material and pulled it off. It was tighter than I'd expected, which made sense if they didn't want him to be able to take it off himself.

It lay there on the cement, blinking at us.

He was apparently shocked when I lunged at him and bit him on the cheek, claws scrabbling against his skin so that blood dripped onto the pavement around the tracker. He fought, as expected, but I leaped away to the top of the dumpster.

I sat there, waiting for him to get it through his thick skull. It took longer than I'd hoped, but no longer than I'd expected. He stared down at the blood, then squalled and began rolling it across the cement with his paws.

Oh, man. I hissed and he looked up, obviously surprised. Balancing on my hind feet, I waved my paws at him and then deliberately put them down flat on the dumpster lid. One, two. One, two. Footprints, idiot.

He blinked, looked down at his bloody paws and then jumped into a puddle. With a final glance back at the scene of the crime, he leaped up to the dumpster lid and followed me across the rooftops.

Part 15

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