Labno & Carter – Episode 4

HOUSE OF HORRORS

Rather than suffer Dan’s bear with a sore head routine, and because it was on the way, I detoured back home. I knew he’d have at least two sets of threads to choose from, so I left him to gear up and went ahead to Sahara’s property.

When I arrived, the narrow street was eerily quiet. On alert, I climbed from the car to survey the area, catching the twitch of curtains to my left. That wasn’t the attention I was worried about, though. Some of the creatures we now share space with can go full-on invisible man. Well, not in the sense of shades and bandages, and the phenomenon isn’t gender-specific, but they can cloak themselves from view. I digress.

When I was satisfied there were no immediate threats, I continued towards my destination. I pride myself on my instincts, but I have to admit, it helps to have cool tech. The RDU has some of the best toys, too. If there had been a presence in my immediate vicinity, my watch would have lit up like a neon sign. The thing is pretty handy, but it’s not infallible. Had it been a god hiding their presence, I would have gotten zilch from the device, and I’d like to say gods have better things to do than follow me around but Eris would probably take pleasure in tormenting me.

Not that I needed a reminder, the tattoo on my wrist was a near constant itch and the closer I got to my deadline, the greater the sting. Just another of Eris’s little amusements.

All thoughts of the tournament vanished when I reached Sahara’s driveway and spotted DC Glynn. Her riotous mane was tamed into a complicated knot, which immediately gave me hair envy, but that wasn’t what I honed in on. No, that would be the steaming cup of java in her hand.

I moved so fast towards the good stuff, the young constable blinked in surprise. “How did you-“

I raised a hand as I took a sip, savouring the first hit. Then, allowing the caffeine to work its way through my system, I met the detective’s gaze. “The very fact you’re my welcoming committee, and you came bearing gifts was a pretty good giveaway.”

She frowned at that, clearly not following my logic, but not disagreeing with my assessment either.

With a grin, I stepped past her and moved into the house.

I didn’t need to be told where to go. I followed the buzz of sound. I’d also inspected the site more than once.

Finding the room – or what was left of it, since Sahara had taken a hammer to her side fo the wall, I didn’t know which unnerved me more; the detritus left over from whatever had been housed in the cavity between, or the pale sickly pallor of the officers attempting to remove the evidence.

“Thanks for the coffee,” I said, honing in on Rahim, who looked surprisingly relaxed considering his wings took up most of the space.

He didn’t question how I knew. We’ve worked together enough to establish our own kind of rhythm. One of his first instincts would have been to protect DC Glynn from the horrors being uncovered, so giving her an important task – and supplying me with caffeine could be described as a vital one – meant she would be spared some of the burden.

“You’re welcome. I spared the team from-“

“Okay, I get the point. I’m a grouch. I’m also working towards hangry, so if you add frazzled to the mix, you’ve pretty much saved the day.”

One of Rahim’s brows shot up, arching above his shades in a comical fashion. “Coffee is not food.” He threw a bar in my direction, so fast I almost fumbled with it, worse, I almost dropped my cup.

Tearing into the wrapper with my teeth, I took a huge bite and washed it down with another hit of caffeine. “Much better,” I said, grinning.

That done, I turned to the techs working on the wall. “Show me what we’re dealing with.” My voice was sober, but not unkind. This kind of processing was new to the job description and they both looked green around the gills.

Working seamlessly, and clearly, they were a familiar team, they set up the imaging unit. It probably has a fancy name I’ve never bothered to learn, but this too is an impressive piece of kit. Basically, it records every detail of a crime scene and projects a series of holographic images to examine.

They knew exactly what I was asking because less than a minute later I was looking at the wall as it had been discovered. The majority of the plasterboard was still intact, but the gruesome image was still enough to turn my stomach.

Stepping forward I focused on the closest cocoon. The person inside, or the image captured of them, certainly appeared human. The man was naked, his frame positioned upright, arms by his side and bent at the elbow with his palms outstretched and touching the membrane as though trying to push his way out.

But it was his eyes that added the macabre factor. They were wide open and held a sheen so close to death it sent a shiver running through my entire body.

If that wasn’t bad enough, an officer stationed next door shoved his head through the gap in the wall, effectively pushing through the hologram right where the man’s stomach was, like a scene from Alien.

“DI Labno, you need to see this,” his head swivelled, making my stomach roll. “Where’s-“

“Right here,” Dan said, striding into the room.

In a smooth motion, he took my cup, handed it to one of the techs and replaced it with an industrial-sized travel mug before I had the chance to protest.

“Great,” the officer said, trying to hide his smirk. “We found something.”

Taking a large gulp from my new mug – more to fortify myself than anything else – I moved forward and prepared to step through the opening. “You heard the man,” I said to Dan. “Let’s go.”

Rahim’s chuckle and my partner’s ‘you’re welcome’ followed close behind me as I stepped inside the house of horrors.

Labno & Carter – Episode 3

BEAR WITH A SORE HEAD!

If I hadn’t wanted to follow his lead and explode out of my skin, I might have stopped to admire the sight. Instead, I closed my eyes and prayed for patience. When I popped my lids again, feeling no calmer, I was presented with Dan’s very large, very angry bear form.

In the beginning, having a changeling for a partner might have phased me. Now with all the interagency working, I’m actually grateful for the extra muscle, so to speak.

I’m happy to have Dan at my back, whatever form he takes; as a human, he looks like he’s capable of pulling a twenty-tonne wagon, and as a bear, he could probably flip it with a twitch of his muzzle. 

He was certainly angry enough, his protests, somewhere between a hoof and a growl made his thoughts clear, though his uncontrolled transformation was plain enough – talk about an emotional response.

“Quit complaining and head out. I’ll meet you on-site,” I told him, meeting his deep brown eyes, a shade or two darker than his human form. 

In response, the foul-tempered oaf tapped the door with his snout so it slammed shut hard enough to shake the car. To be fair, he didn’t put any kind of strength behind it, otherwise, he’d have flipped the Audi, no matter how many modifications I’d fitted.

Perhaps it was childish, but as I shoved the car back into drive, I threw him a one-finger salute and hit the accelerator. The noise he made, which carried over the sound of the roaring engine, sounded suspiciously like a chuckle.

“I take it Danny-boy just went full-on grizzly?”

My gaze shot to the navigation screen, my annoyance overriding my surprise Gibson was still connected.

“You wouldn’t say that to his face because he’d probably eat you for breakfast and I’d pass him a toothpick and a serviette.”

Aside from the fact changeling bears are much larger than their mortal counterparts, the only similarities between Dan’s animal half and a grizzly are the claws, and the slight silver sheen to his coat. Like his hair, Dan’s fur in animal form is a gleaming black.  

“Aw, don’t be like that!” Gibson said, doing a valiant job of holding back his laughter.

“Make it up to me and fill me in on what I missed.” Navigating the long drive which took me off the property, I glanced briefly in the rearview mirror. Dan was nowhere to be seen, but that didn’t bother me. My traps wouldn’t do him serious harm.

“Long story short? I was on duty when Miller called so I went out to see what the fuss was about. Lucky for me I had Drake with me so when he saw what Miller had unearthed he hit up the RDU.” He visibly shuddered. I was concentrating on the road and I still caught it. “I’ve seen some things since the world turned to hell but those bodies, that’s some sick shit. They were in pods inside the wall cavity between Miller’s house and next door.”

“Are we talking dead bodies?” I asked, trying to picture the scene and wondering what had possessed Sahara to take an axe to the dividing wall.

“I almost wish they were. But, no, they’re very much alive. From what we can tell, they’re human, and in some sort of suspended animation. Drake almost crapped himself when he saw them. He’s the one who ordered a protection detail for Miller. I only had time to call in a report to Dan and then we were being whisked away.”

“How did they find you so soon?” I asked, easing my way through the electric gate which was programmed to register the car on approach. It closed the second I cleared the sensor.

Dan’s jeep was parked in the lay-by to the left. As I drove past it, I had a vague recollection of disconnecting the buzzer on the front gate. Not that it discouraged him. He’d scaled the gate and bypassed my security measures. It wasn’t the first time. 

“I have no clue. I swear, Kate, nobody could have predicted any of this. I mean, we all thought Miller was bored or lonely, or something at first, reporting unusual aromas as she did. Even when you and Dan looked into it, we thought you were just humouring her. But this. This is some crazy assed shit. I mean, we hit a wall of nothing, that’s how they got us. The car just stopped as though we’d collided with an invisible barrier. I’m surprised we didn’t implode on impact or something. As it is, we were flipped in the air like a Tonka toy and when we came to a stop to check we were still in one piece, Miller was gone. How the hell is that even possible, I-”

“Take a breath, Gibson, and reel it in,” I said because I could hear the delirium in his voice. He was in shock.

Hitting a button on the navigation console, the map appeared. “I’ll be there in fifteen minutes. Hang tight, okay?”

“Okay, Kit-Kat.”

Given what he’d just been through, I let that go, though the nickname grated along my already frayed nerve endings.

Definitely going to let Dan eat him.

I actually made it to him in ten, my headlights illuminating the wreck still blocking most of the road. 

A response unit had beaten me to the punch. They were in the process of redirecting traffic, not that there was much of it. People still tended to avoid travelling at night, you never knew what lurked in the shadows.

As I parked, I spotted Dan standing beside Gibson and Drake. It didn’t surprise me he’d beaten me to the scene. I was more shocked his animal half had conceded to letting his human take the helm again.

Approaching the small group, I schooled my features so I didn’t set his bear off. Dressed in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt which barely contained his broad chest, he stood out like a, well, a bear in a china shop. Not quite the right idiom, but you get the drift.

It should have been a natural sight. I’ve been around plenty of changelings – unforms are optional when there’s a need to change your threads on the fly. It’s the reason clothes shacks are now a thing, pop-up stores providing an array of attire to protect modesty. But, clearly, provisions were running low.

“Don’t say a word,” he said, by way of a greeting. That’s the trouble with partners, they always know what you’re thinking. I really need to work on my game face. “Those were my favourite jeans. It sucks I have to replace them.”

Clothes burn up during a shift which, admittedly, has to suck. “You bought it for ruining my evening. I need coffee before I can even attempt civilised.” My gaze swept the others. “Do we have any leads?”

“What? Since we spoke ten minutes ago?” Gibson asked, shock gone to be replaced by his usual winning personality.

Apparently, my emotional leakage was showing its ugly head because Drake read my face and stepped in.

“How much do you know about Club Fractured?” he asked, snagging my attention.

“Enough.” In the beginning, the demons who invaded our world, known to most as the Fractured, had established a series of clubs. These weren’t clubs in the traditional sense. Basically, they were training grounds for the sick and twisted. A sort of incentive programme where soldiers of the cause could feast, experiment, and torture to their heart’s content. Some joker had termed them Club Fractured, but from what I understood, these had mostly been disbanded.

“The Fractured learned from their mistakes, so instead of advertising their depravity-”

“Sir, we need to check your vitals,” a medic said, looking directly at Gibson. That was another new addition. Each station has its own medical team. They are highly trained and hold enough authority that Gibson followed without any resistance. He’d probably been dodging the medic for a while.

“So…depravity,” I prompted, reclaiming Drake’s attention.

His smile didn’t reach his eyes. “Yes, members are finding new ways to hide their activities.”

“So, what you’re saying is, they’re still conducting experiments but now they’re being more sneaky about it.” At Drake’s nod, I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. “Is that what’s happening next door to Sahara?”

“Yes, and we’re talking someone powerful enough to swoop in and take Miss Miller without leaving any trace of themselves behind. To find her, we have to find them, and we have to hope we’re not too late.”

“Are the bodies secured?” Dan asked.

Drake nodded again, though he looked grim. “Yes, their removal is likely what tripped the alarm. We found several triggers in the house, as well as evidence they are running the operation remotely. They knew the instant we moved in and targeted Miller to learn what she knows.”

“Then we go to the source and work from there,” I said, turning to Dan. “We need to get to the house.”

Dan inclined his head, then turned to Drake. “Keep us updated on progress at your end, and make sure you get checked out too.”

As we turned to head back to the Audi, I glanced at my partner, trying to gauge whether it was safe enough to poke the bear. The instant I met his gaze I caught the vulnerability so kept my mouth zipped. That was something else about partners, you knew when to push it, and when to give each other a break.

Labno and Carter – Episode 2

PHANTOM GAMES

Bending to snatch up the feather, I felt the subtle shift of air and knew who I would find before I rose.

“Your timing sucks!” I muttered.

Rahim shrugged, drawing attention to his wings. The feather didn’t belong to him. Rahim’s primaries were the colour of autumn leaves. Pretty close to the shade of my own locks, so I make a point never to stand too close.

Great, now I’m making redhead jokes!

The feather was a baton of sorts. It was my turn to enter the gauntlet.

“How long?” I asked, squinting up at him. Rahim was wearing his signature wraparound shades. He wore them day or night, and he didn’t apologise for it. Not that anyone would challenge him. Warrior angles were highly skilled in combat; they were natural-born soldiers, created to protect the heavens. They were also the only angels with wings.

“Twenty-four hours,” he said, the deep timbre of his voice holding a hint of amusement like he knew I was running on empty with no break on the horizon.

“Shit!”

“Your timing sucks, my man,” Dan pretty much repeated my own words as he stepped out, pulling the door closed.

“You need your own material,” Rahim said, the humour now pulling at his mouth in his version of a smile. “None of us have time for Eris’s games, but here we are.”

Ignoring the jibe, Dan passed me a travel mug. I knew better than to hope he’d filled it with the remnants of my glass. He simply knew I needed to fuel up on the way across town. A little shake confirmed the mug was empty. For now.

When I felt the burn in my other hand, the one holding the feather, I looked down. The stark white was already beginning to fade as the thing morphed into an inky substance that ran down across my palm to my wrist. It settled like a brand into my skin, the feather now a temporary tattoo to remind me of my obligation.

“I hate that part.” Talk about an understatement. The first time Eris’s baton of choice had burned itself into my wrist I’d scrubbed off a layer of skin trying to free myself of the mark. But that’s what happens when you cut a deal with a god who enjoys wreaking havoc. 

I mean, everyone knows you should never make a pact with the devil, but in my experience, gods are the ones you need to steer clear of. To stop a killer, I’d agreed to participate in seven tournaments within the Phantom Games.

On the plus side, I managed to bag myself some cool gadgets, most of which I’ve used on security. People have a tendency to underestimate me, and my bullshit meter is fine-tuned.

“I take it since you’re passing the baton, you won your latest round?” When his brows winged up above the shades, I had my answer. Rahim probably cursed the day he’d joined my team. The delights of interagency working. Had he lost the tournament, he’d owe Eris a marker. Not exactly the deadliest of consequences, unless you accounted for the fact you owed a favour to a god.

“If you’d been in the crowd, you would have witnessed my victory.” There was arrogance in his tone, definitely, but there was also disappointment. We had an informal agreement to attend each other’s games, and I had let him down.

“I’m sorry, Sunny-G, but we’re juggling some pretty big cases right now. I’ll be at the next one, I promise. I’ll even bring pom-poms.”

Rahim looked perplexed, even with shades covering his eyes I knew they would be swimming in confusion.

“She’s saying she’ll be there to cheer you on.” Dan said, losing patience. “And as much as I’d like to stand around celebrating your victory, the clock is ticking and we have somewhere to be.”

“I know. I’ve been assigned to clean up crew, given what was discovered!”

I turned to glare at Dan. “You said she found bodies!”

“Now look what you’ve done, you’ve ruined the surprise!” Dan said to Rahim, who just grinned as he spread his large, beautiful wings, the orange tone shimmering like a flame as he rose into the air. Then Dan turned to me with a cajoling look “I never said what kind of bodies, and I knew you’d want in on the action.”

“Don’t take too long,” Rahim said. “Or I might just steal all the fun. I deserve it after the last five hours.”

In response I turned my back and felt the powerful draft caused by his retreat, the laugh carried close on its heels.

“Change of plans,” I told Dan, slapping my palm on the biometric pad so I could duck inside for the keys. “We’re talking my car.” 

Dan looked towards the lean-to attached to the house and groaned.

My car was like everything else on the property, it had been fitted with security features and didn’t much resemble its original shape. It was an Audi – on steroids.

I didn’t pause for discussion when I stepped back outside. I simply pinned him with a glare. “Start talking.”

“Admit it, if I’d told you the RDU were invited to the party you wouldn’t have been so quick to jump in and it’s our case.”

The Realm Defense Network or RDU were brought in at the beginning of the war, now they were a specialist team.

“It is our case and they’re duty-bound to keep us informed, but you might have let me have a little shut-eye first.”

“No time for that, we have twenty-four hours!”

“Oh, we have twenty-four hours. I didn’t realise you were taking part in the tournament with me.”

I missed his comeback, no doubt a good one, when I climbed into the driver’s seat and contemplated setting off one of my booby traps. Then I watched Dan trying to squeeze his large frame into my passenger seat and decided it was punishment enough.

While I waited, I looked out across the land and tried to find the calm it usually instilled in me. The place had been a steal, a two-storey bungalow sitting squarely in the middle of three acres. People tended to stick to cities, especially after the war, but the small village of Friendly suited me just fine, and I’ve created some pretty inventive ways to keep out the vermin.

A call came through a second after I started the engine so the navigation console lit up to display Gibson, another member of the team, and he didn’t look happy. 

“We’ve lost Mrs Miller,” he said, without preamble.

“How the hell can you lose her?” Dan growled beside me, so pissed the energy in the car turned dangerous.

“We were escorting her to a safe house, and we were ambushed.” As he spoke, his camera panned out so we could see the wreckage behind him. He was lucky to be alive.

“Send me you current location,” I said, shoving the car into drive before turning to Dan. “Do you think you might have missed a few things out. like what the fuck is going on?”

“Stop the car,” Dan ordered, still growling.

I knew what that meant. My partner was done with being confined inside a box, and because I could literally feel his energy pushing against me, I hit the brake.

“Can this day get any worse?” I said, stupidly tempting fate, and watched Dan explode from the car.

__________

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,

Mel

Labno and Carter – Episode 1

The idea for this series formed as I was dining with my fellow students on a supervision course I started earlier in the year. One student, Kate, mentioned her childhood dream of working for the police force and I could picture her character instantly. Of course, detective Kate Labno is in my world, and things are a little different here! Enjoy episode 1!

NO REST FOR THE WICKED!

After taking a moment to admire the deep red liquid filling my glass, I quit messing around and took a swig. Okay, so I took a few, but I had plenty, it was more fishbowl than wine glass. 

The buzz it gave me drowned out the annoying sound of my phone, which was currently dancing across the kitchen counter since I’d clearly switched it to vibrate instead of silent. 

“Kate?” 

I ignored that too, and the knock preceding it. It took all my energy, depleted though it was after a twenty-four hour shift, but I succeeded in finding my zone. If I’d had a goddamn second to myself, I would have added a do not disturb sign to the door, though it could be argued if someone made it through all the deterrents they deserved my attention. 

“I know you’re in there. Let me in, Kate, it’s important.” 

Taking another swig, my swallows the starting count of finding my calm, I walked towards the front door. It didn’t help. By the time I reached it I was seeing red, and it had nothing to do with wine. 

“Do you know the last time I had any sleep?” I snapped by way of greeting. “Sunday. Do you know what day it is today? Wednesday. I deserve a break, Danny, so unless-” 

“Cool it, Labno and take a deep breath. Aren’t you supposed to know how to meditate or something,” my partner, Dan Carter muttered, pushing into the house without waiting for an invitation. “And pour me one of those,” he said, indicating the glass. “I deserve it after navigating the minefield to your door.” 

I couldn’t stop the smirk at the thought of Dan trying to figure out where the new booby traps were. I hadn’t planted a literal minefield, but the path to my door was dangerous to certain trespassers. The kind who’d stepped right out of a nightmare and declared war. 

“I’m not the one who needs to share. Tell me why you’re here.” I said this on the move, still amused I’d put my partner through his paces. He was right. He deserved a little fortification for the return trip. A small glass, at least. 

“It’s about the Miller case, and you may want to sit down.” 

More like lie in a cool, dark room. 

To give myself time to prepare for whatever crap my partner wanted to fill my brain with, I poured him a glass of wine. 

It’s not that I dislike my job, becoming a detective was a childhood dream, but the landscape looks a hell of a lot different since the world turned to hell, or more accurately, hell tried to take over the world. 

I remember watching horror movies as a kid, comforted, even though my fear, that the monsters on the screen were merely a figment of somebody’s imagination. Bringing those monsters to life was a matter of effects and creative genius. They weren’t real. They didn’t live next door, hiding out until it was time to show their true face. 

Yet now I work within a police force with a culture so diverse it includes officers, not only from different species but different worlds. 

Handing the glass to Dan, I shrugged my shoulders and squared my stance, like a boxer waiting to kick ass. “Hit me with it!” 

He didn’t delay. “Mrs. Miller took matters into her own hands and she found more than she bargained for.” 

An image of Sahara Miller popped into my brain, a tall willowy woman with white hair she wore long and loose. The moment I saw her I knew she was important. Just a glance, that’s all it had taken. On the heels of interest came irritation. This time it was aimed at the baffoon, also known as my co-worker Lundy. I saw clearly he had missed the significance of Sahara’s presence. He was interviewing her, but he wasn’t taking the report seriously. 

It took a second to work it out. Lundy was too focused on the surface. Perhaps it began with her appearance; the long black dress, the stark fascinator with black lace that covered part of her left eye and made her appear like a woman in mourning. It could have been the velvet glove she had clutched in her hand like a transitional object. Whatever had triggered his unconscious bias, it meant he missed the important stuff. The details that really mattered. 

I hadn’t missed it. I’d followed my gut and taken Sahara Miller’s story seriously. Luckily, Dan had too. We had opened a case, investigated her concerns about her neighbour’s activities, and were in the process of getting a search warrant.  

Of course, the system has changed a great deal. It tends to do that after war, and even though the bad guys lost – thanks to some pretty hefty players on our side – the judiciary system took a hit. Obviously, Sahara was tired of waiting. 

“Please tell me we won’t be visiting the morgue.” If Sahara’s neighbour was as rotten as she suspected, the danger was real. 

“Don’t underestimate her. She might be a gargoyle and genetically opposed to violence but she can protect herself,” Dan said, swirling the wine in his glass. “Besides, she didn’t confront her neighbours, she knocked a giant hole in her bedroom wall and she didn’t find cannabis.” 

This time, the image of a gargoyle, sitting atop a gothic-looking structure with short stubby wings and a spliff hanging from thin, grey lips popped into my brain. Okay, fine, so now my unconscious bias was showing, but I’d had a day. 

The jibe about cannabis was directed at me. Sahara’s concerns began with a suspicious aroma which began in her hallway and ended in the bedroom. All the hot spots had one thing in common, they were part of the adjoining wall. It permeated the air, such a distinct odour I’d mistaken it for weed.  

“She found bodies.” 

I turned back in at those words, my feet moving before my mouth engaged. I reached for the glass Dan was tipping towards his mouth and snatched it from his hand. “You can drive. Let’s hit the road.” 

He scowled. “What happened to needing a break?” 

“I’ll catch some sleep on the way,” I said, grabbing my jacket and keys. 

Dan tried to hide his knowing smile. He wasn’t fooling anybody. He’d planned this, and it meant only one thing – he was destined to set off at least one of my traps on the way to his car.  

This cheered me up so much, I was grinning as I opened the door. The smile died on my lips when I spotted the white feather on my doorstep. “Goddamn it!” 

I knew I should have ignored the door. So close. I’d been so close.  

Wishing I’d filled a travel mug with the remainder of the wine, I stepped forward and prepared to face the music.

_______________________

Special thanks to Theresa and Rosanna for the objects I was able to incorporate.

Until next time

Mel  

Challenge 2.6 Update: 30/4/2020

I’ve had a few rough days where the words trickled instead of flowed and my characters were decidedly taciturn! It’s only been four days so there’s no need to panic, but it’s at times like these I wish I was a planner! The circumstances don’t help, the sense of not knowing when the restrictions will ease up, it’s a weird kind of suspended animation. I must admit I’ve struggled with motivation in general, even P.E. with Joe hasn’t helped as it usually does.

But showing our appreciation for the NHS this evening, and celebrating Captain (now Colonel) Tom’s birthday with the nation was a nice pick me up. It’s always good to be reminded that love wins and together we can achieve extraordinary things.

Here’s a snippet (206 words to follow the theme) of my progress.

Maddison didn’t bother with fancy tricks or going the traditional route of flipping a light switch, she welcomed the dark as she might an old friend. Okay, so she’d pushed out with her senses a little, but the last thing she wanted to do was land on her ass.

Stopping by the bed, she climbed onto the mattress and made herself comfortable. There was a surprising amount of room considering the other occupant.

Silence settled around them, a regular companion of the dark. Maddison tried to wait her friend out, to let him acknowledge her presence, but she didn’t last more than fifty-eight seconds. Points for almost making it to a minute, though.

“You don’t call, you don’t talk incessantly in my head.” In fairness Donovan had never done that. He wasn’t exactly a talker.

“You’re confusing me with Tobias,” he said, the words hard to decipher given that he was lying on his stomach with his head in the pillow.

She wasn’t going there. Not right now. The Hympe King was a different topic entirely and she was more interested in her friend’s radio silence.

“What’s going on D? I haven’t heard from you in a month.”

“I’m not the one who accepted an extended assignment.”

As always, thanks for stopping by

Mel

Day 1 – A Novel Idea (Sort of!)

collective logo smallDay one of seventy-nine went as well as it could. There was a little family drama but other than that, I managed to stay focused. I still don’t have a title, but I’ve decided to go with the flow. I do have some names to announce. I gave readers the opportunity to name a character, a place/building and a virus. Here are details of the winners:-

Character name: Ruby Nettle or Vicious Ruby suggested by Lily Dodds McConnachie.

Place/building name: Veridiem (Truth Day) suggested by author M.J. Moores.

Virus: Fatuinia Agotismus suggested by Chris Heptonstall.

Keeping with the whole 26 theme (2.6 Challenge), below I’ve shared the first 206 words. I’ll edit the hell out of them another time, I’m just glad there are actual words!

Maddison had been away from Merc Hall for so long, she barely recognised the place. It hadn’t always had a kick-ass moniker – honouring the hunters who had taken up residence – but it had always held a certain appeal.

Once a prominent part of the community, its large imposing presence was still a beacon of hope for those making shit happen. Namely the hunter cell who had claimed the space and made it their own.

Now there was a darkness to it, a sense of neglect she found grated along her already frayed nerves. The large windows were like gaping mouths – especially given the gothic architecture – the spires making it appear more beast than haven.

She was tired of preparing for a war that would turn out to be the same crap with a different name. The mortal realm had barely recovered from the last one and everyone could use a damn break.

After returning home from an extended mission, she had been looking forward to shooting the breeze with her buddies. What she hadn’t expected was to find a moping, sorry excuse for a welcoming committee. Make that a party of one, and that one didn’t count since it was a soldier… (she didn’t recognise, who happened to be taking a smoking break.)

I aim to post updates on a weekly basis. Today, that’s about it! I’d better get back to Maddy…there’s still time to play before the night is up!

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

2.6 Challenge

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I wrote a blog post. It’s like I blinked and a year went by! That’s definitely how it feels at the moment, working from home and following social distancing rules – the days all blend together.

I’m aware, in the current climate, that things are tough for many people. It’s why I decided to take part in the Marie Curie 2.6 Challenge to help charities who are finding it difficult to raise money.

This Sunday I will begin the challenge of writing a novel in 2.6 months, which equates to 79 days.

I aim to post updates on my website to let people know how I’m doing, and to finally catch up with the online community because I really miss you guys!

Thanks, as always, for stopping by

Mel

Alphabet Spaghetti – A Word Game

The exercise is based on a version of the 7x7x7 writing game. This time, I tried to incorporate seven words beginning with E, each with seven letters, and selected using a random word generator. I failed to include one of the words this week, but I did keep to the 700 word count.

It is an ongoing fantasy based short story, and connected to one of my series – The Collective.

The incorporated words are; embrace, eyebrow, emotion, explode, escaped, extreme, and example.

Warrior’s Embrace (Part 4)

A crushing weight settled around Amber’s body, pulling her from a deep sleep with a panic born of prolonged captivity. She tried to take stock, tried to remember what the monsters in the dark had done to render her immobile.

If she wasn’t so scared, she would have likened the feeling to being swaddled in a deep comforting embrace. But she couldn’t convince herself of safety when she was scared out of her mind. Why couldn’t she move? And, god, but it was warm in the hellish place they were being held. They. Oh shit. Where was April?

She tried to cry out and came to the sinking realisation she was bound too tightly to make a sound. The pressure was everywhere, it covered her face, her mouth, her entire body, yet she could still breathe.

As her mind thrashed where her body could not, Amber tried to shift inside the hot, smothering restraints. She started with her toes, remembering what April had taught her about meditation, except it had the opposite effect. The journey across her body didn’t relax her, it made her heart thunder harder. She was swamped in emotion. Not only was she unable to move, her limbs felt separate – like they belonged to somebody else.

A spark of hope lit within her chest when she managed to raise her left eyebrow. That spark snuffed out when she couldn’t duplicate the movement. What the hell had they done to her? What kind of extreme torment was this?

April.

Her sister’s name ricocheted through her head as she tried to grasp their connection. Memories began to swamp her…April dragging her through darkened tunnels, a rough, bumpy ride as the bitter cold nipped at her skin. They had escaped. They weren’t alone anymore. April had made it to the safe zone.

More images flickered behind her eyes; a wolf with white fur, and a large bear of a man who liked to torment the doctor…Clayton, she remembered. The doctor’s name was Clayton, and he like to read to her, to them. April was in the bed beside her.

Oh god, why couldn’t she feel her sister? The thread that joined them together was so weak she struggled to hold onto it.

Keep it together. Keep it together.

She willed her mind to calm, releasing the memories so she could concentrate on her strange new environment.

The muffled sound of voices drifted towards her, so she concentrated on that. The wolf’s voice was the strongest, a deep rumbling sound that called to her. He rarely shifted to his human form, at least not during his visits.

“Why isn’t he waking up?”

April?

That was her sister’s voice. She was here, and she was – wait, he? Who was he?

“I may have miscalculated when I shot him up with the good stuff,” an unfamiliar voice drawled, clearly amused.

Amber had no clue what he was talking about, and it sent her pulse tripping.

“Of course, because all you did was give him an injection of angel juice. No big deal. Cody isn’t going to-”

The words blurred, buried beneath Amber’s sudden rage. She had never felt anger like it, a white-hot trail that seemed to explode beneath her skin. Had the monsters somehow found them? Had they hurt Cody?

The young soldier visited almost as often as Clayton. He was happiness and light, and soft teasing conversation. It didn’t matter that she never responded, Cody spoke to her as though she heard every word, which she did. He entertained her with stories of the safe zone, of his team, the big guy he called Bear, but was actually called Griffin.

Every memory of his voice, his scent, his appealing energy fed the flames of her rage until her body was vibrating with it. No, not her body, whatever was holding her down.

No more.

She would not be helpless anymore. She felt every ounce of fiery red anguish. The pain and fear gathered and exploded, the power running through her so overwhelming, it took a moment to realise she was finally free.


Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Alphabet Spaghetti – A Word Game

The exercise is based on a version of the 7x7x7 writing game. This time, I’ve incorporated seven words beginning with D, each with seven letters, and selected using a random word generator. I tried to keep to the 700 word count, but went over by 14.

This is the third instalment of an ongoing fantasy story. To recap, Cody (a soldier who is part of a joint task force) has been injured during a battle (it sucks to be human). On his way to the medical unit, he hears a cry for help and rushes to the aid of twins, Amber and April. He discovers something cocooning Amber’s body, and the others in the room frozen in place around her bed.

The incorporated words are; deprive, dribble, default, deserve, decline, despair, and diagram.

Warrior’s Embrace (Part 3)

Cody stayed vigilant, watching over the group as he waited for help to arrive. That’s what he told himself, at least. If the crazy mollusc thing covering Amber went full Alien on him and something burst forth from the shell, he had no idea how he would defend himself, let alone the others. He had no weapon, apart from a crutch, and his leg was throbbing so hard he felt it in his eyeballs. That had to be why the horror show on the bed was pulsating like a heartbeat.

He shivered because, damn but that thing was ugly, and he didn’t even want to think about what was happening to Amber, whether being inside would deprive her of oxygen or if, like a second skin, she could breathe through it.

A blur of colour flashed in his peripheral vision, too fast to track and trippy enough it meant only one thing. The cavalry had arrived in the form of a big assed cat with too much curiosity and a playful streak that rivalled Cody’s. Yep, Blade was in the house.

The changeling cheetah was one half of a deadly duo. Logan made the set and, as with anything involving his brother, Blade was front and centre when the wolf needed an assist.

Following on his heels, at a much slower pace, was Tamaya and her wing-man – as she referred to him – Joshua. Being that the warrior angel was rocking a kick ass pair of wings, he had to navigate the room with care.

“This is not good,” Joshua said, king of the understatement. But then, that was his default setting, the guy could be a tad morose.

“I take it from that encouraging statement, you know what we’re dealing with?” Tamaya shot back. She had Del in her hand, also known as Delphor, her weapon of choice.

Cody trusted her, he really did, but if she was going to hack away at the husk with an axe, magical or not, he would have to step in. Not literally, he wouldn’t be stepping anywhere for a while, but Amber didn’t deserve to be on Del’s radar.

“The human has been infected by erodion, a substance used by Sentinels to infect other species. She’s going through metamorphosis.”

No. No. No. That couldn’t be right.

Cody felt his pulse skyrocket. At this rate he would need a room of his own with nothing but soft surfaces. He could practically feel the dribble. “Back up a second. Why are we just learning about this? We should have been informed if they pose that much of the threat.”

Joshua shrugged, his silver eyes like heated metal orbs. “It never came up. The infection only works if the immune system is compromised, or if a person is exposed for a prolonged period of time.”

“Has the thing somehow infected my brother?” Blade demanded from Logan’s side. The wolf was still fighting the compulsion he was under, but he wasn’t free yet.

“It’s a by-product of the transformation process, a defence mechanism. Logan and the others will need to be decontaminated, and the sooner the better.” Joshua turned to study Cody. “Are you ready to take care of your little problem?”

Ha! His leg had broken in three places. Next, he’d be getting a lecture about how the angel flew home with only one wing, barely conscious. Arrogant prick. “I think I’ll respectfully decline,” he said, even though a quick fix was sounding better every second.

“Come on, Cody,” Blade piped up. “Let us help you.”

“Do I need to draw you a diagram? I said-”

The scream that started the whole mess switched back on again, drowning out his words. April and the others came unstuck at the same time, along with the tail end of a sister’s horror. “Amber!” she croaked, pitching towards the bed.

In a flash, Blade moved to catch her. It was a surprise to them all that Clayton got there before him, scooping her up and cradling her to his chest. The despair on his face was actually painful to witness. Cody couldn’t tear his eyes away, which was why the sneaky angel caught him unaware. The instant his hand made contact with the top of Cody’s head he was out like a light.


Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Alphabet Spaghetti – A Word Game

The exercise is based on a version of the 7x7x7 writing game. This time, I’ve incorporated seven words beginning with C, each with seven letters, and selected using a random word generator. I tried to keep to the 700 word count, but went over by 86.

The story is a continuation from last week. It includes characters from my fantasy series, The Collective. If it turns into a longer piece of work (and it looks like it’s going that way), in terms of timeline, it comes after book 2. The story takes place during the early stages of a Demonic War and centres around a safe zone known as Grangefield. The characters today are; Cody (a human, who we discovered last week was injured during a mission and broke his leg in three places, Tamaya (a witch), Logan (a changeling wolf), Clayton (a hympe – which is a form of shapeshifter), and twins, Amber and April. The instalment ended with Cody reacting to a scream as he entered the med centre – he dropped his crutches and set off running (injury be damned!)

The incorporated words are; crusade, chapter, certain, costume, ceiling, capital and concert.

Warrior’s Embrace (Part 2)

The instant Cody entered the medical room he stopped dead, right before he fell on his ass. He didn’t have the option of dropping to his knees, what with the giant pot on his leg, and it wasn’t the pain that levelled him. It was the shock of what he saw.

On the bed directly in front of him, right where one of the Dillon twins should be, was what looked to be a cross between a giant chrysalis and a set of mummified remains.

Please don’t let that costume of horror be what I think it is.

Behind him, Tamaya stopped just short of ploughing into him. “Holy shit! What is that?”

He looked to the other occupants of the room, all frozen in place around the bed like they were trapped in some form of suspended animation.

“I’m not certain, but I have a feeling it’s Amber Dillon,” Cody said, fighting a wave of nausea.

The Dillon twins had been rescued just outside the perimeter of Grangefield. After being held captive by a group of rogues, April had somehow escaped with her sister. Barely able to walk, she had dragged Amber on a makeshift slay eight miles through the capital to the closest safe zone. It wasn’t until they were both safe that April had succumbed to the exhaustion. The twins had been in a coma ever since. Until now.

Now, April’s mouth was hanging open in a silent scream, her blue eyes wide with a horror they all felt.

Cody watched as Tamaya walked over to Logan and waved a hand in front of his face, or as close as she could get being that he towered above her. Logan didn’t react, not with his body. His pale blue eyes were a different matter, they followed her hand, slower than normal, but the movement was there. He was fighting whatever compulsion was holding him, and it had to be powerful considering the strength of his mind. It was difficult to control a changeling wolf.

Whatever was going on, Logan had managed to execute a shift before it happened. By some miracle, he wasn’t naked either, which was what usually happened until someone threw clothes in his direction. The closest thread shack, as they were known on the base, was outside the med centre, so it explained the ill-fitting scrub pants. His shock of white hair contrasted against the dark skin of his naked chest. He’d definitely been caught unaware, because Logan rarely changed out of wolf form when he visited. His animal soothed the twins, even as they slept.

“What’s wrong with them?” he asked, glancing at Clayton. The hympe was their resident medic. He was obsessed with healing the twins, a personal crusade since he was the one who found them.

“This has Orion’s signature stamped all over it,” Tamaya said, turning in a slow circle. “But since he’s not here, and I don’t feel his energy in the room, I have no frigging clue.”

She would know, she had the whole chapter and verse going on when it came to the man with the plan. “That’s a shame. We could use a god’s help right now, either that or a Hail Mary.” He tried to get up, his mind racing right along with his heart. Which was when the pain from his flight down the hallway decided to make itself known. It was like a wave of nasty spreading throughout his body. He swore he could hear his pain receptors buzzing like a concert of angry bees in his head.

This time he found himself flat on his back staring at the ceiling as he held in the scream of agony working up his throat.

“What can I do?” Tamaya asked, dropping down beside him.

He took in a slow breath. “Grab my crutches and then help me up. We need to find out what the hell is going on.”

“It’s going to take more than crutches to hold you up.” She pulled the bandanna from her head, setting her curls free. “Here, you might want to bite on this.” It was the only warning she gave him before she shoved the material between his lips and he felt the touch of her magic grab hold of him.

It was one way to get him on his feet, though even with the powerful buffer to coax him upright, he still saw stars.

When the agony finally released him from its painful jaws, he was sitting in a chair, his injured leg stretched in front of him.

“Hang tight, you stubborn mule,” Tamaya said from the doorway, and then she was gone, leaving Cody with his misery and a roomful of crazy.


Thanks for stopping by

Mel