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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Back to Work!

My mom passed Saturday March 17th and was burried yesterday the 21st. Production to the podiobook will resume this evening in her memory.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Taking a Break

My mom is in the last days/hours of a terminal illness. Naturally, I am with her and not pouring energy into the podiobook or sequel.

Production will resume in her memory at a later date.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hell to Pay

here are the first two chapters of Hell to Pay, the sequel to Raising Hell. This is first draft material, so grade on the curve. The story takes place about six months after Raising Hell. Maeve, the queen of the Winter Court of Faerie, had helped Nate in Raising Hell but warned him not to interfere with her if she hunted in his territory. Maeve shows up to remind Nate of their bargain.....

Chapter 1
It was Friday night at Billy Wang's Wing Emporium and a reggae band was droning in the background. Nate LaCroux, a regular customer, had suggested to Billy that he should bring in a band on the weekends to drum up business and Billy had liked the idea. He booked the first band he could, Pillar if Zion, a reggae quartet from Indy. The reggae didn't really go with the of the Chinese restaurant that Billy owned, but it was a start. 
Nate was on a date. Not a real date, a practice date. He had stopped by to see his sister in-law Donna and his niece and nephew. Donna was the sister of his deceased wife , and he thought it might be a good idea to get her blessing before actually asking someone out. The kids overheard, and decided it was a good idea to take Nate on a practice date to hone his skills before the real thing. He didn't have any prospects, and after a dozen years he didn't know where to start. 
He had struggled a long time with the decision. His life had changed a lot since the following spring. He kept an innocent man from a date with the executioner and captures his wife's killer, who was presumably suffering under the hand of Uriel, archangel or repentance and judgement. It was a milestone, a chance for Nate to turn the page on that part of his life and actually start living again.
"Sit up straight uncle Nate, good posture makes you look confident." His niece chastised. The twins were fourteen. Quint, the boy was all skateboards and scars, while Allie, the girl was pompoms and bows. 
"You don't think I look confident?" Nate asked, flashing a nervous grin.
"Dude, chicks dig a guy that's confident. You've got that string silent thing going on, and scars! Chicks dig scars." His nephew replied, with great sagacity. Nate was taking dating advice from a pair of fourteen year olds. He was screwed.
It was a cool fall evening and the chirping of crickets filled the air. The summer had been long, and the fall warm, but it was finally relenting, and soon the season would begin its relentless march toward winter. Nate had enjoyed the summer, and rode hard throughout the season. It helped him clear his mind, and he was trying to get his life back on track. 
"So, do you always eat with your elbows on the table?" Allie asked, condescension dripping from every word. The bitch, who was sitting outside watching the trio closely, chugged in amusement. Nate heard it from their window seat and glared at the dog. She answered him with a doggie smile, he tongue sagging from her maw and her tall wagging innocently. "Keep it up and I'll quit sharing my beer with you." Nate spje through the glass. The dog's tail quit wagging, a d she looked crestfallen.
Nate turned to the twins. "Uh, yeah I guess, why would I want to go out with a woman who cared about where my elbows are?" Allie buried her face in her palms while Quint knuckle bumped his uncle, and have an affirming, "Word dude!" Nate thought that was a good thing, but he wasn't sure. 
A long mournful howl filled the night. The crickets quit chirping. The bitch stood. Normally she looked harmless enough, but when she stood, ears back, hackles raised and teeth bared in an snarl her jaws looked like a collection of box cutters. She growled loudly and then returned the howl as if to say, "Here I am, come and get me." 
The reggae band quit playing as Maeve, queen of the Winter Court of the Fae, walked into Billy Wang's Wing Emporium. 
Chapter 2
"Hello Nathan" Maeve spoke, her words dripping with false civility. 
"Kids, get behind me." Nate said, as he stood and grasped his staff from the wall it leaned upon. The twins looked at each other in confusion, and hesitated. Maeve sniffed the air deeply, a d smiled, stepping forward. "Now, now Nathan, there is no reason to behave like that, she said, stepping forward and running a long pale finger over Allies cheek.
Maeve looked resplendent in a long white gown. She was carrying her hunting spear, which told Nate that she hadn't come for the chow mien. There was a crowd of twenty or so in the restaurant, and they were gaping at the scene. 
Nate drew his SOG seal pup knife from a sheath that was inverted on his belt. He stepped in quickly, and help the knife a hairbreadth from her throat. Maeve had the power of a goddess, but she, and all Faeries, react to cold iron like superman does to kryptonite. "Maeve, Queen of the Fae, I offer you respect, but I warn you, if you ever touch anyone in my family again, I will slit your fucking throat with cold iron!"  The very touch of steel to a faerie's  skin was painful, a wound made with steel might never heal. 
A slit throat surely wouldn't.  
Maeve let go a laugh that dripped with contempt. "Put that toy away mageling, before you hurt yourself." 
"Walk away Maeve." Nate warned. He knew he had over reacted by threatening the queen. He owed her a favor, but the queen of the Winter Court was unpredictable and she was as likely to kill everyone in the restaurant as she was to sit down and drink a beer. Nate pulled the knife away from her throat slowly.
"What do you want Maeve?"
"Courtesy, to start. I gave you passage through my lands, and yet when I visit yours you attack me." She said, wounded. "I came to give you fair warning. I will be hunting in this plane a few days hence. Do not interfere."
"That depends on what you are hunting." Nate answered. "Or who."
Maeve smiled wickedly.  "Who and what we hunt is our own business. I have merely come as a courtesy. Fare thee well wizard." and with that she turned to leave, then paused, looking back at Allie. "And fare the well little mageling. We shall see you soon."
With that Maeve walked out of Billy Wang's. The bitch was straining at her leash, which was tied to a bike rack. Nate had only seen her like this once before, when she met the hell hound the year before. Her teeth were bared into a nasty snarl and foam was building around her mouth. 
The great black hound padded up next to Maeve, red eyes glaring at the bitch, looking back at Maeve for permission to attack. The bitch was a 75 pound Doberman, and the hound made her look small. Nate walked out, standing next to the bitch and lowering his staff at the beast. 
"Better run along Maeve, or I'm going to neuter your pooch." 
Maeve turned away, the dog following at her side. They walked through a doorway of quicksilver, disappearing from view and into her own realm.
Billy Wang's was abuzz with excitement. Pendleton Indiana hadn't seen this much activity in years, and Nate who was a hermit to the townsfolk, had just become a legend. Nate payed his bill and ushered the twins out, and into the old pickup truck that he picked up over the summer. The bitch rode in the bed, her mood improving after the hound disappeared. The kids were quiet at first, and he wanted to get them out of town and off to someplace safe. Allie broke the silence with a question. "Uncle Nate, what's a mageling?" It was going to be a long drive home.

Hell to Pay is protected by a commercial, non derivative, creative commons 3.0 copyright. The author reserves all rights.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Confession

The Confession
"I didn't mean to kill her...."  I blurted. The priest held up his hand to me, stopping me mid sentence. "We need to do this as a confession. Anything you say outside the sacrament can be used against you. You know the drill." The priest reached into his pocket and brought out the special rosary, The one without the crucifix, and placed the stole over his neck. He took a long drink of beer and nodded at me to begin. 
Most confessions don't take place in a bar; they take place in a church. Unfortunately, I can't step foot in a church. It's holy ground.  "Bless me father for I have sinned. It's been a year since my last confession." 
A year. A whole year without feeding on a human being. I was doing so good this time. The  priest took another drink. I've known him my whole life. He's aged. I haven't aged a day since i was twenty four. That was nineteen years ago, and for nineteen years the priest and I have kept  this ritual alive.
"Go on Vincent." He still calls me Vincent. He and my mom. At least she would if she you I was alive, or at least that I'm not entirely dead. Everyone else called me Vinny. But not my mom, or Father Andy O'Riley. He's not Italian, but he's still ok in my book.
"I have committed murder father. I didn't mean to. It just happened."
He wasn't buying it. "Things don't just happen. People don't just commit murder and girls don't just get pregnant. What happened?"
I told him the truth. "I got lonely." 
He buried his face in his hands in frustration. I hate disappointing O'Riley. He's the only one who believes in me. 
"I got lonely. I went out for a night. Mingling in public, just hanging out in a pub. I wasn't hunting or looking for trouble. I was just sitting at a bar when I saw her, when she saw me. Well, we saw each other I guess. That's when it happened."
"She smiled at me." 
Going out was my downfall. I usually keep to myself, trying to protect anyone I could come in contact with. It's so hard to avoid contact, to be solitary. 
"Do you always kill people that smile at you?" The priest asked.
He knew I didn't. He knew I didn't like killing. He knew that I don't line being what I am.
 I'm a vampire. 
I didn't ask to become one, and I still hate what I am after all these years. I've tried everything, but I cant find a cure. Nothing short of a stake or a sunrise can cure me, and the church frowns on suicide.
I started with only feeding on those that deserved it. I am a predator, with all the tools of the trade. I can hear a man beating his wife, smell the sweat on his body, from hundreds of yards. I can hear a child crying after they have been molested. I preyed on those that were preying on others. 
The priest would have none of it. I got the old two wrongs don't make a right lecture. He was right, as usual. I fed on bottled blood. The stuff has no life, no vitality. It can sustain me, like bread and water can a convict.
"What happened when she smiled at you Vincent?"
"Honestly?" I asked. 
"Yes, unless you want to lie to a priest."
It was time to lay it all out. "It felt good. She noticed me. She liked what she saw and smiled. It made me feel human, and I decided to buy her a drink. I didn't mean to kill her. I didn't want to."
"What did you mean to do Vincent?"
"I meant to feel human! I did feel human. We laughed and talked. We talked about life and family. We talked about the weather and the other people in the bar. It felt good! It felt so good to actually connect with a someone. It made me feel human for the first time in a long time."
"But you aren't human Vincent, at least not entirely human, I don't think. How did she die?"
This was going to be hard. I hate this part of confession. "She asked me what I do. I knew what she meant. She wanted to know what I did for a living. That meant she was interested. I caught myself, tried to stop it. It was like taking a shot to the gut father. I know what I do for a living. I know what I am."
"What did you tell her?"
"I told her the truth.i told her I kill people. I wanted to scare her away. But...."
"She looked up. That's what killed her, she in surprise and her gaze met mine. I really didn't mean for that to happen. Once he eyes met mine she was in my power, my thrall. Her life was in my hands, and I took it. She was defenseless. We walked outside hand in hand; her hand was so warm. I killed her behind the pub. I drank her blood, and she didn't even know to be afraid."
"What do you want from me Vincent?"
"I'm not sure any more. When it started I came to you because that when catholic kids do when they screw up. I knew you couldn't turn me in, and I needed to square what I was with God."
"And now?" The priest asked. 
"Because you listen, and don't judge me. You give me hope."
"There is still hope Vincent."
"How do you know?" I asked. The priest caught me off guard with his answer. 
The priest took my hand in his "Because you feel guilt. That means you have humanity. You may be a vampire Vincent, you may not be human, but you have humanity. As long as that spark of the old Vincent is still there I can't give up on you. If you ever lose it, I'll hunt you down myself. Until then, I believe you can be redeemed."
He finished his beer and gave me absolution. There was no penance. No penance could make up for what I do. No punishment could be worse than the hell I feel every day. The priest gave me absolution, and then he finished his beer and stood to leave.
"See you next time Vincent." He said in parting, and headed for the door.
Yeah father, next time.