Serenity Corbin

serenity-corbin-coloredI’ve had the idea for a while about a character named Serenity Corbin, a crash, tactless woman in her mid-forties. I’ve played around with her story some, but I’ve only gotten a few chapters in. I usually work on it for a few days after I complete one of the books of Grevared. Below is the beginning of the first chapter. Again, the things I post here are for fun, and most of them haven’t had more than a cursory glance through.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

 

Broken glass.

Drops of blood.

Water everywhere.

Not a stellar start to a day that began at butt-crack-thirty before even God rose from his holy slumber.

I cursed as I climbed from my battered PT Cruiser and stomped to the door of my neighborhood Mighty Mart, glass crunching under my feet, to see just what the hell had happened now. I wasn’t deluded enough to think something as minor as a break-in, a dead body, or a flooded store would be enough to convince the owner to let me close up shop and go back to bed. Hell, no. He’d just tell me to clean it up and keep the store open.

Sure, boss. I don’t mind doing double my workload, taking care of your responsibilities,

for absolutely nothing in return. God forbid you should have to cut your yearly vacations down from four to three and get me some effing help. Whatever would we do?

I opened the door and slogged through several puddles, soaking my tennis shoes in the process, and typed in the code to turn off the alarm. That done, I surveyed the damage. And breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn’t as bad as I’d first thought.

The puddles were our typical ‘after heavy rain’ flooding. A couple of hours with the wet vac, and they’d be cleaned up. The broken glass appeared to be the remains of several beer bottles, and I could sweep that up in a few minutes. But the blood was an issue. Well, that, and…how did all of this wind up inside the store? It was one thing to see it in the parking lot, I could rationalize that. But inside? In…side? The water was a no-brainer. The store always flooded after a hard rain. No big. But the glass? Night shift should’ve cleaned that up. And the blood? Ditto.

I moved behind the counter, the cigarettes to my back, and counted the money. I typed in the passwords to get the register up and running and checked all the numbers on the lottery tickets. I grabbed the form for counting the cigarettes and cursed under my breath as I stomped off into the back storeroom where we kept the cartons. I made a quick count of them and the extra lottery tickets then flipped on the coffee. After all, I had to have the store opened on time regardless of what else was going on.

Now, I could focus on the mess. So far, I hadn’t seen any notes, any indication that second shift had run into any trouble. At all. Would it have killed them to leave me a sticky note? Send me a text? Shoot me an email? Hell, even pick up the phone and call? It would’ve been nice to know about this disaster before I got here.

I fumed for a moment, then it dawned on me that they would’ve clued me in for something like this. And, yes, they would’ve cleaned it up. So…that meant all this had to have happened after the store closed.

“Ah, shit.”

I looked around the store. The only display was for Rock Stars, and they were all still piled up in the middle of the floor, the different flavors artfully color coordinated by the lovely folks at Pepsi. Granted, the boxes were soaking wet and would probably collapse at some point, but that wasn’t my problem. My problem was the broken glass, the glass that was both inside and out with no apparent source, and the blood, blood that was the crimson of a fresh cut and not the duller brownish color of blood that had dripped hours before.

I checked the bathrooms, the stock rooms, and the cooler. There was no one there. No one. Nada. Not. A. Soul.

So, who’d made the mess?

I still had a few minutes before the store opened, so I knelt to examine the glass. It was crystal clear with an opalescent sheen to it. And it was thin. Really thin. And delicate. Not like beer bottles at all.

What the –?

I picked up one of the shards, and my mouth fell open when it dissolved in a flash of light. I jumped to my feet and wiped my hands on jeans that had seen better days. My heart raced in my chest, and I gasped for breath. Glass didn’t just dissolve. Nope. It was solid, material, sharp and pointy, but it didn’t just disappear. Not in the real world.

I rolled my eyes to the ceiling, profanity rolling from my tongue, and I was suddenly really glad we didn’t have audio on the billion cameras that watched the store. You’ve gotta be kidding me. Really? You’re gonna do this to me now? Haven’t I been through enough?

The outside lights clicked on, signaling time to open. I cussed – cursing in my world is a whole ‘nother kettle of worms – and unlocked the doors with less enthusiasm than I’d mustered for the colonoscopy I’d had several years before.

 

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River of Blood – Chapter One

Shizzuria Wasteland and Riverland Pearlrest VintageThis is a WIP that I completely forgot I had; I found the file this morning. It hasn’t been edited, so please excuse typos and the like. I just thought I’d put it up for the fun of it.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

Newpost, Shizzuria Wasteland

 

Erastus raced through the streets of Newpost with a band of boys behind him. He hollered as they did, and the group barreled down the road. He turned a corner and slid on a patch of ice. His long legs tangled, and he landed on his butt to slide several feet before coming to a stop against a crate. Erastus winced and climbed to his feet. His trousers were damp from the ice, and he shivered.

“You okay, man?” One of the boys asked.

Erastus nodded. “Yeah. I only cut my finger. It’s no big deal.”

Erastus stared in fascination at the blood that oozed from the small cut. It formed a drop, round and shiny, then slid down the side of his finger. The droplet hung there, suspended, then it rose from his hand to hover before his eyes. Erastus’s mouth dropped open in shock as he simply gaped at this freak of nature.

“Hey, dude. What’s up with that?”

Erastus shook his head but didn’t answer. He couldn’t. He’d never seen anything like it before.

The other boys pulled away, fear written in every line of their bodies, and disappeared into the shadows without a word, while Erastus stood there. Another drop formed, bright red in the gloom of the day, to join its brother in front of the boy. Erastus moved his finger, and the blood drops followed. He shook his head to clear it of any hallucination, but the blood stayed where it was. He used his uninjured hand to wipe his crystal eyes, but that, too, proved futile. Erastus squeezed his injured finger and watched as the drops became a trickle. He watched with morbid enthrallment as the dribble of blood swirled upward instead of falling to the street.

Footsteps on the cobblestones penetrated the edge of Erastus’s hearing. He turned his head slightly, but never let his attention divert from the phenomenon before him. The swirls broke apart into separate drops then came back together into a ball. The ball elongated and twisted to form a small knife in the air before Erastus.

“What the hell are you doing? Cover that up.”

Erastus jumped at the sound of Dooby Hallowell’s voice. He turned to see his father coming toward him with hurried strides, his usually kind face red with fury.

“Did you hear me, boy? Cover it. Now.”

Erastus nodded once, but he couldn’t get his tongue to work. He wanted to ask his father what was happening, to get an explanation, but all he could do was stare wide-eyed at the man who’d raised him.

Dooby pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wrapped Erastus’s finger. The swirling drops fell, staining the handkerchief with bright red.

“Put some pressure on it to stop the bleeding, and come on home.”

Erastus didn’t argue. Instead, he followed Dooby back through Newpost to their small cottage at the edge of town.

“What the hell did you think you were doing?” Dooby demanded again once they were inside.

Erastus still refused to answer. His mind swirled with confusion over what he had seen.

“Did you hear me?”

Erastus looked up at his father, his eyes wide and frightened. “What happened? What was that?”

Dooby’s face softened, and he motioned for the boy to follow him into the kitchen. It was a simple room with a coal stove, a Cold Box, and a sink. A scrubbed wood table sat in the center, and a small counter held fruits and vegetables.

“Sit down at the table, son, and let’s get that tended.”

“It’s only a little cut, Father,” Erastus replied. His voice was hollow, uninflected, while his mind remained trapped in its muddle.

Dooby brought a clean rag and a bandage and stood before Erastus. “For others, yes. For you, any wound could be a potential problem.” Dooby cleaned the cut and bandaged it, then he sat down in the chair opposite Erastus. “I suppose you have some questions.”

Erastus nodded.

Dooby took a deep breath and blew it out. He looked at his son, then he nodded once and rose to his feet. Erastus watched, as it always seemed to take his father forever to reach his height. Dooby Hallowell wasn’t a small man, not by any means. Wide shoulders and over six feet of height filled whatever space he occupied. But Erastus didn’t want to think about that. He wanted answers, something to quell the fear that threatened to choke him.

Dooby pulled a bottle from the top shelf over the sink and poured himself some of the amber liquid. He returned to the table without speaking and lowered himself back into the chair. He took a long sip and sat the glass down, then he turned to his son and took another deep breath.

“All right. This is gonna take some telling, so don’t interrupt me once I get started, or I may not be able to go on.”

“It has to do with Mother, doesn’t it?” Erastus whispered. In all Erastus’s thirteen winters, he’d seldom heard Dooby Hallowell mention his deceased wife. When he was little Erastus had asked questions, but Dooby had always fallen into a sullen silence instead of answering.

Dooby nodded and drained his glass. He rose and refilled it before returning to the table and rubbing his face with his hands. “All right, son. You’ve asked about your mother your whole life, and I’ve never been able to talk about her.” Dooby paused to drink then looked over at his son with eyes swimming in tears. “You know she died just after you were born.”

Erastus nodded.

“We had to get a wet nurse to feed you. She wasn’t even able to do that.”

Erastus hung his head. For years he’d lived with a secret guilt, one that told him again and again that his mother had died because of his birth. He’d never shared that with his father. Or anyone else. But it gnawed at him in the quiet hours of the night, kept him awake when he was at the pinnacle of exhaustion. “I’m sorry.”

Dooby looked up, comprehension dawning. He reached over and patted Erastus’s hand, a hesitant gesture. “No, son. It wasn’t your fault. Your mother was injured by another.”

Erastus’s head shot up, and anger flashed in his gut. “What?”

Dooby took another sip from his glass. “It wasn’t your birth what killed her. It was something else.” He looked at his son with admiration. “I’m just glad she was able to birth you before she died, or I would’ve lost you both.”

Erastus stared at his father. Confusion was a shadowy veil that blocked all thought. All these years. All those nights. And it hadn’t been his fault? “What happened?” he asked, his voice more demanding than he’d ever dared be with Dooby.

Dooby sighed and rubbed his face. His eyes teared, and the color drained from his ruddy skin. “All right, son.” He looked up at Erastus as if judging his age and maturity, his ability to handle what he was about to say. “It was like this….

 

Writing Update

img_20160428_203226.jpgI’ve been talking about the trilogy, nicknamed ‘the novel that never ends’, for over a year now, and I’m happy to say that I’m finally getting something done on it. I was glad to see that I actually had more done than I’d thought, and there are only five or six scenes that need writing before I can start revising. I’m not sure how long it will take me to get the first one completed, but I’m hoping to have it out by the end of this year. I can’t make any promises on books two and three, though three is pretty much completed, and book two is pretty complete in my head.

Below is the first chapter, though it still needs editing and revision.

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com

Chapter One

 

 

Sister Gabrielle Corcoran darted behind Shadowhell, glancing over her shoulder to see if anyone had seen her. The building was quiet, the only sounds the occasional cry of a child or the hollow bark of an n’kita.

Gabby propped against the rough wooden wall of a housing complex and leaned her head back to catch her breath. For a moment she considered the folly of her actions; Sisters of the Arcana Maximus weren’t allowed out into the city of Freywater, and never after Middle Night Contemplation, but Gabby had to know the truth. She’d simply heard too many whispers over the last few months to remain cloistered within the Arcana.

Gabby’s mother had placed her with the Arcana Maximus when she was just thirteen winters old – she had never known why – and Gabby had devoted herself to the Arcana, learning the rituals of contemplation and working with the other Sisters to provide for their needs. When she was eighteen winters, she had been told that her mother died of natural causes in a hovel in the Warren, and Gabby had grieved but possessed no real reason to question the information. But now, almost ten years later, Gabby had overheard whispered conversations and begun to believe there was more to her mother’s death than she’d been told. That coupled with Gabby’s increasing restiveness and impatience with the rules of the Arcana had led her to slip out into the town in search of answers.

Gabby pushed herself away from the wall and turned to face the depths of the Warren. The entire area was a collection of wooden structures reinforced with sheets of metal, the few that could actually be considered structures. Pipe chimneys belched coal smoke into the air and caused a perpetual fog the dim gas lanterns couldn’t penetrate. Piles of refuse added to the acrid scent of the smoke, and rats scuttling through garbage reinforced the general sense of desperation. A feeling that Death himself stood as a barrier between the Warren and the rest of Freywater snuck into Gabby’s mind and made it nearly impossible for her to breathe.

Then there were the rumors.

Tales of mechanical biotic experiments gone badly were interspersed with stories of demons from Moirena. It was even said that a banished elf princess from the Kingdom of E’ma Thalas was hiding within the Warren’s depths, and that Oberon, king of that land, would pay heavy coin for her capture. These, coupled with the whispers she’d head, caused Gabby to shudder and turn back. Ludicrous. That’s what this was. None of it could really be true.

Gabby didn’t really believe the rumors. She couldn’t. In Gabby’s mind the Warren was nothing more than a place populated by the destitute. At least, that’s what she’d always told herself. She’d insisted that all the rumors came from drugs that could alter the mind to such an extent that reality could never be regained. She’d told herself the rumors were nothing more than vivid imaginings of those who had nothing better to do and nothing to look forward to.

But what if I’m wrong?

Footsteps echoing on the cobbled street in front of the building kept Gabby frozen where she was. Voices, barely head, drifted on the breeze, and Gabby held her breath while her heart tried to escape from her ribcage. Enforcers. It had to be. For they were the only ones likely to be strolling Freywater at three hours after midnight, especially with the rumors of animated corpses attacking people.

Gabby shivered as she waited for the footsteps and voices to fade into nothingness. There had been a lot of rumors lately, enough to penetrate even the cloistered halls of the Arcana Maximus. The rumors of elves crossing the Borderland Mountains and harassing the smaller towns north of Freywater led into whispers that the Ibunana, the head of the Arcana, had petitioned the emperor to reinstate the ban on all magical people put into play several hundred years before. Gabby wasn’t sure if she believed it, not that it affected her, but just the thought of the empire being invaded terrified her.

Gabby strained her ears, and when she was sure the Enforcers had gone, she took several deep breaths to calm her nerves and choked on the putrescence of rotting food and excrement. She trembled and looked up at a sky that was nothing but swirling gray.

Doesn’t matter now.

Then, with a sigh, she crossed the dusty street and plunged into the Warren.

Darkness closed around Gabby. She squeezed her eyes as the miasma of misery crushed her chest, then she gasped and forced herself forward on shaking legs. The ground beneath her seemed to radiate despondency, and Gabby had to constantly fight the urge to run. A discarded board reached for her legs and caused her to stumble, and the ramshackle constructions around her tried to trap her in their grasp.

A baby cried, and a cat rowled, and Gabby stopped, straining her ears to locate the distorted sounds. Shadows moved in the corner of her vision, and Gabby jumped as she tried to see what was there. But all that appeared was yet another pile of rubbish.

Candlelight flickered in a small wooden shack ahead, and Gabby made her way toward it. She used the feeble light to dodge a mound of refuse as high as her shoulders and to avoid puddles that reeked in the summer heat. She knew her mother had died in a hovel near the city wall, but Gabby had no idea just which home had been hers.

“I wish I could just come during the day,” she whispered to the darkness.

More sounds, distorted by the haze and night, reached Gabby’s ears. Her legs trembled and her gut twisted around a solid mass of terror. Something thunked then shuffled, and Gabby froze where she was. She tucked a strand of auburn hair behind her ear and strained her eyes. She could dimly make out hovels cobbled together with scraps of wood and bits of paper, each a testament to the tenacity of its residents. Mountains of garbage rose around her, and Gabby’s imagination provided myriad possibilities of what could be hiding behind them. Or within them. She reached into the leather pouch at her waist and removed the forbidden knife. She held it loosely, ready to use it if need be.

Gabby had no sooner convinced herself that she was being ridiculous when a creature emerged from the darkness bit by bit, the reek of death preceding it. It was a small child, a girl, dressed in a navy dress trimmed in pink. Long fuchsia hair matted with gore framed a baby doll face the color of creamed coffee. Gabby relaxed for a moment, prepared to help the child, but the malicious hiss that showed a mouth full of serrated teeth caused Gabby to stumble backwards and land on her butt in a puddle. She noted the child’s bleeding eyes and the vine-like stitches on her arms and legs and the way the girl shambled forward.

The corpse lunged, arms outstretched and fingers clawed. Gabby tried to raise her knife, but the creature dove at her before she could do more than scream.

 

*****

 

The city of Freywater was dark, the only sound the chug of generators that kept necessary equipment running. Detective Timothy Hawkins trudged along muddy roads on his way home from his shift with the Enforcers and wished the city would add cobbles to this part of town. His black cloak billowed behind him in the gentle breeze, and the black pants and shirt of the Enforcer uniform lent him a commanding appearance. The bronze trimmed chest plate, the maces across his back, and the sword at his side caused him to look downright deadly. At least in his own opinion.

He paused a moment beside the Fading Jug Tradepost and contemplated stopping for a Fizzy Drink, then he shook his head and continued onward. He shivered when he passed Neverfair, one of the housing buildings common to Freywater. The structure loomed above him, its bottom built from stone and wood, while its upper floors were corrugated metal. Like the other housing buildings in this part of town, Neverfair was a tall building that somehow managed to look squat.

As he neared his building, Timothy stopped. The wind tickled the leaves of the few nearby trees, and tiny frogs plopped in puddles. Conversations buzzed in the neighboring homes, whispers that grew and faded, but Timothy could discern no cause for the sudden arresting of his attention, no reason for the stirring of the hated magic within him.

A scream echoed through the haze, high-pitched and grating. The sound bounced off the buildings around him and returned as a pitiful cry. Several n’kitas took up the cry, but no one lit a candle or lamp. The Warren held its breath and waited for the danger to pass, not daring to interfere.

Timothy took off into the Warren. His boots pounded the ground, and his breath came in gasps as the exhaustion of his long shift drained what little energy he had.

He skidded to a stop and pulled a mace from the holder on his back in one fluid motion. He swung the mace with a grunt and connected with the head of a little girl. Timothy grimaced and jumped backwards as bits of bone and brain matter exploded from the creature’s head. The woman on the ground in front of him tried to protect her face, but one of the corpse’s eyes bounced off her cheek anyway. The woman’s sea green eyes widened, and tears ran down her face.

“Are you hurt?” Timothy asked. He squatted in front of her and tried to make out details in the faint light.

The woman shook her head, and Timothy extended his hand as he stood. She grasped it and rose to her feet without speaking.

“Why are you out here, Sister?” Timothy asked in a deep whisper.

Timothy looked more closely at the woman and noted her soiled gray skirt. Her shirt buttoned high on the neck, and she wore a black leather bodice with belts over her left shoulder. A dark gray cape rested across her shoulders, and a small leather pouch hung from a belt at her waist. Her heart-shaped face was a mask of terror, and bits of blood and mud speckled auburn hair. Eyes wide and breath gasping, she stared at Timothy with a complete lack of comprehension, and Timothy feared she’d go into shock.

“I didn’t think they let the Sisters out wandering.” Timothy checked his clothes for corpse bits then looked back at the Sister.

He watched as she examined her own clothes with shaking hands, then she seemed to come to a conclusion of some sort and looked back up at Timothy. There was a resolve there that bespoke of an inner strength not yet tested, and Timothy was reminded of another, one he had known long ago. “They usually don’t, but I needed some information, and this was the only way I had to get it.”

“By creeping through the Warren in the middle of the night? Do you have any idea how dangerous that is? Do you know what kind of people live here?”

Gabby’s eyes widened, and tears again began to flow. “I’ve heard the rumors, but just because people are poor doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them.”

Timothy made a disgusted sound and turned away from Sister Bleeding Heart. “Sister, I know you’re taught to believe in the good in people, and no one knows more about the good in some of these people than I do, but there are those here who would slit your throat just for the knife in your hand.”

“But –.”

“Sister, listen. Whatever information you think you need isn’t worth the risk you’re taking by being here.”

“I came to find out about my mother!” Gabby’s cry echoed through the silence, and Timothy reached for his knife before the sound died.

“What about her?” he growled. His eyes never stopped moving.

“They told me she died because of her heart, but I’ve been hearing whispers around the Arcana that it was something else. No one will tell me anything, so I came to find out.”

Timothy sighed and rubbed his face with his free hand. Gods preserve us against all curious women. “Okay Sister, what was your mother’s name, and I’ll see what I can find out for you. There’s no need in your risking your life.”

“Lucy Corcoran.” Gabby lowered her gaze to the ground and nodded her head. “Thank you, Detective. I appreciate it.”

“Anything else?”

“Anything else what?”

Timothy rolled his eyes. “Any more information you can give me?”

“My father was a stone mason and died when I was little. Mother always said he left plenty of money, and she always had a job. I don’t understand how she could’ve wound up here.” Gabby waved her hand at the cramped buildings that closed in upon the muddy street.

“How long have you been with the Arcana?”

“Since I was thirteen winters. About fifteen years.”

Timothy raised his eyebrow in askance. “And you chose to go?”

Gabby shook her head. “Mother insisted. She never told me why.”

Timothy simply stared as something about the young woman tickled the back of his mind. Something she’d said, perhaps, or some oddity of energy from the Spear of Victory he carried. He wasn’t sure.

Timothy was quiet for a moment, then he sighed and took Gabby by the arm. “Come on, let’s get you back to the Arcana before your Ibunana finds out you’re gone.”