I’ve been working on a short story (200 more words, and it can be classified as a novella), and I think I’ve got it mostly finished. First draft and revision are done, so I’m letting it stew for a few days, then it’ll be time for editing.
The title of this one is “Wolf in the Shadow”, and it takes place about twenty years before the ‘novel that never ends’. (I’m actually making headway on that one. I’m shooting for having it completed by the end of summer.) I’m still trying to make some final decisions about “Wolf in the Shadow”, but I’m planning on having it out by the end of May. Below is a brief excerpt from the story.
Constable Timothy Hawkins rolled over and snuggled down in his sleep. He reached for Eleanor and pulled her close to him without any real awareness of what he was doing. Something pricked his consciousness, an itch on his right palm, but it was a vague and distant thing, and Timothy was too lost in sleep to understand it.
Banging on the door brought Timothy awake. Eleanor moaned and rolled over, but she didn’t waken. Timothy cursed and climbed from his warm bed. The fire in the brazier had gone out, and the room was cold. His bare feet shied away from touching the chilled wooden floor, but his training as an Enforcer forced him forward regardless of his discomfort.
Timothy entered his small living room and banged his knee on the coffee table. He cursed again and rubbed his face to induce wakefulness. It didn’t help.
“Dammit, I’m coming,” he shouted at the door.
The knocking stopped.
Timothy opened the door and stood staring at the person on the other side. He was tall, well over six feet, with auburn hair and beard and a rakish grin. At any other time, Timothy would’ve been glad to see him, but at two hours past midnight, all he wanted to do was throttle Justin Harper.
“What the hell do you want?” Timothy grumbled.
Justin grinned and took in Timothy’s ragged, sleep rumbled appearance. He stepped inside and closed the door before answering, “We’ve got a good one.”
Timothy rolled his eyes and threw his hands into the air. He rubbed his itching palms on the legs of his sleep pants, flipped on the incandescent lamp, and stumbled to the Cold Box for a Fizzy Drink. He twisted off the top and downed half of it in one glug before looking back at Justin. “So? What else is new?”
Timothy plopped onto the sofa and propped his feet on the table. Justin took the chair across from him and leaned back with his ankle resting on his knee. A self-satisfied smile split Justin’s round face, and his eyes were lit up like a kid seeing Sir Klaus.
He likes this stuff way too much.
“Mel sent a beetle early this morning. It said there was a situation down in Black Crystal, so I went down there.”
“You’ve been to Black Crystal and back today?”
Justin nodded. “I took the locomotive.” He waved it off. “Ten people were killed last night, and it looked like they were mauled by a wild animal.”
Timothy blew out a tired breath. “And you saw the bodies?”
Justin nodded. “What was left of them.”
“Shit.” Timothy shifted in his seat until he mirrored Justin’s pose. The two were eye-to-eye in the darkness of the living room, just as they had been many times before. “Black Crystal sits on the edge of the forest. Are you sure it wasn’t wild animals? Are you sure you’re not just seeing what you want to see because it’s been a while since Mel’s sent you out?”
Justin gave Timothy a rueful grin. “I wish I was.” His face paled as he remembered what he had seen. “I really wish I was.” The glint in his eyes faded. “Tim, this wasn’t like the specter attacks where the person was just dead. This was…. This was…” Justin shrugged. “I don’t know.”
They lapsed into silence for a moment, then Timothy looked back up at Justin. “And Mel thinks we should check it out?”
Justin nodded. “Cooley Cray, the guy who carried the Helm of Invisibility from Hades?”
Timothy nodded to indicate he knew who Justin was referring to.