Saturday, June 30, 2007

Extended Deadline

Vixen shook her head as far as she could. The leather across her forehead was too tight and although she should see the outline of the torture chamber – was that really chintz wallpaper? – she could see only flickers of her tormentors. Her ruined eye was a furnace of pain but there was noting she could do but try to avoid concentrating on it.

She struggled against her bonds. They had, she could tell, removed every weapon and device from her body including the three polymer needles that had been sutured under the skin of her left forearm. If it wasn’t treated soon the wound would heal badly, leaving a tell-tale scar the length and width of a finger.

The tall one was speaking again. “Tell me what you did with Harold,” he said. “You have five seconds before I let Gillian do something regrettable.”

“Like what?” Vixen spat blood from her mouth. “You’ve cut off my hand and torn out my eye. Just get on with killing me.”

“Ten seconds then.” Her captor hesitated. “Is he even still alive?”

Vixen laughed then, a shrill peal that bordered on hysteria. “He’s alive all right. He’s just dead.”

“I don’t understand.” The woman’s voice cutthrough the fog of Vixen’s thoughts. “How can he be alive and dead at the same time?”

“Easy.” Gillian had heard the woman’s laugh before, echoing from the walls of Bedlam. “He’s out of time.”


© Rachel Green 2007

Jasfoup’s Find.

A writing exercise for Evil Editor

I will send a prize for the first correct answer out of the bag at Midnight on Sunday 1st July. An exact answer, rather than a general one, will make you more likely to win. Comment with your answer. They will remain screened until the drawing takes place.


Harold looked at the object, his brows furrowing. It was unlike Jasfoup to be concerned with collecting such trivia; the demon was more likely to crunch them underfoot. It was fist sized, if you discounted the sharp points which added an extra inch or two and was a combination of peach and sand in colour, the striations lightening as they spiralled to a point. It looked more like the skeletal remains of the lionfish they’d had for dinner last night than anything else Harold could imagine.

Checking that his friend was still in the bathroom (lionfish, apparently, disagreed with him) Harold picked the spiny object up, feeling how smooth the surface was under his fingertips and put it to his ear. He could hear, as if it was on a distant horizon, a crashing sound.

“Do you mind?” said a tinny voice. “That’s my china cabinet gone over.”


© Rachel Green 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

Bought to you by the word 'Hell'

From a link kindly provided by The Moon Topples

Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

Hopelessly Devoted

“Why do you stay with me, Gillian?” Harold switched his gaze from the crack that ran along the ceiling to his lover, lying awake in the semi-darkness. “I know it’s not because you’re hopelessly devoted to me.”

Gillian was silent for a while, her eyes flickering from left to right as if she were reading an invisible book. “I feel safe with you,” she said. “It’s so rare for a vampire to have a long term partner, and a non-vampire one as well, that our situation is pretty unique.”

“Do you love me?” Harold was afraid of asking but more afraid of the answer.

She turned her head to look at him. “Love is over-rated,” she said. “If all you have is love the dream will shatter when the love fades. I like you, I’m comfortable with you and I will stay with you. Don’t ask me for love as well.” She chose to ignore the silent tear the fell from Harold’s eye and ran over his cheek to stain the pillow.

“I won’t.” He looked back at the crack in the ceiling. Had it grown bigger? “What made you give it a try at all?”

Gillian shifted position, turning onto her side to face him. “You know the way cuckoos lay eggs in other bird’s nests so that they raise the chicks as their own?”

“Yes?” Harold wondered where this was leading.

“It was like that. Had I remained independent you would have ended up hunting me. I joined you for protection from you.”

Harold stared at the crack, willing the ceiling to collapse and give him something else to think about; anything but the whole his lover had just torn in his heart. He jumped when she touched his hand.

“Don’t torture yourself,” she said. “Heaven is being glad for what you have.”

Harold nodded, then movement lost in the darkness to anyone other than his preternatural lover. “Thanks,” he said. “But just for the record, I love you.”

Her thumb stroked the back of his hand. “I know.”

© Rachel Green 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Paradox (319)

“That’s that done.”

Jasfoup tidied up the sprawl of papers on the table and stacked them neatly in a pile. The combination of parchment and vellum was prone to rolling up, so he dropped a copy of an encyclopaedia on them. Volume Ki to L.

“Ah ot un?” asked Harold, struggling over the Laverstone Times crossword. Jasfoup looked blank so he rempved the pen top from his mouth. “That’s what done?” he said.

“Oh.” Jasfoup wiped his quill pen with an ethanol-soaked rag. “number 41 to 61 of Shakespeare’s sonnets,” he said. “I’ll deliver them to him in a minute.”

Harold shook his head. “I can never get my head around time travel,” he said. “I read those as a child but here you are, just writing them.”

Jasfoup grinned. “Me?” he said. “Everybody knows that Bill wrote them, not me. His name’s on the bottom of them all, see?”

“So it appears.” Harold grimaced and leaned back to stretch his spine. “The fact remains, though, that I just saw you write them.”

“It’s a modest skill.” The demon smiled. “It does bring in plenty of money though.”

“How?” Harold looked around. “It’s not like a sudden fortune is going to appear, is it?”

“No, but the twenty shillings he’ll pay me for them will increase in value over the next three hundred and fifty years. It’s certainly nothing to be sniffed at.”

Harold pull out his copy of the Complete Works. “How do you do it though? I mean: ‘All days are nights to see till I see thee, And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.’ It’s pure genius. All the longing of a man in love encapsulated in fourteen lines.”

Jasfoup shrugged. “I don’t actually write them,” he said. “I just copy them from your book and send them to him.”

“But…” Harold shook his head. Some things were not meant to be understood.

© Rachel Green 2007

Square Eyes

The trio of statues were arranged in a perfect tableaux, reminiscent of Carravagio’s ‘Death of Mildred.’ Harold regarded the weeping angels with a frown.

“Don’t blink,” he said, holding the demon’s arm. “Don’t look away, don’t turn your back and don’t blink.”

Jasfoup frowned and regarded the sculpture. “Why?”

“They’re not statues but inter-dimensional beings with the defensive ability of stone if they’re observed. They’ll send you back in time and feed on the psychic residue of all the days you lost.”

“Tch.” Jasfoup pulled away and rapped on one of the statues. “You’ve been watching too much Dr. Who.”


© Rachel Green 2007

Wave Goodbye

Nephilim's Child has been sent out, so that's the last you'll hear of it for a while, as it's not polite to talk about it after it's been submitted.

Stay tuned for more odd flashes and excerpts from the next novel as I write it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Synopsis. First draft

NEPHILIM’S CHILD

FELICIA TURLING is an independent businesswoman running a small basement art gallery. Her life changes dramatically when, during a brief tryst with a woman in the ladies’ loo of a nightclub, she is bitten by her temporary partner. Her eyesight returns to 20/20, she has a craving for raw steak and her razor will no longer cope with the hair on her legs.

She confides in her landlord, HAROLD WATERMAN who suggests that she take a week off, especially when her mother is killed by what appears to be a demon. As she flees the scene she finds herself running on all-fours, slap-bang into GILLIAN, a vampire and partner of Harold. Gillian takes her under her wing and defends her from the attack of PURIEL, and angel bent of ridding the world of the race of nephilim of which both Felicia and Gillian are part. As they recuperate, Gillian explains that Felicia has become a werewolf and Puriel is trying to destroy the race of Nephilim before God sends another flood to destroy the world.

They ask Harold and his business partner JASFOUP, a demon from the sixth circle of Hell, for advice. As more angels attack they discover that the seraphim seek a dragon, the birth of which was foretold in the Revelations of St. John. It becomes a race to find the dragon before the angels exterminate the nephilim and fortunately Felicia’s sister JULIE happens to give birth to one. Gillian is killed protecting them but the dragon escapes. The flower bed is ruined.

The companions, with the assistance of Harold’s spell book, resurrect Gillian from her ashes but as they search for the dragon they are ambushed by Puriel. The battle goes badly until the dragon, whom Julie has named George, saves them and is killed in the process. Felicia manages to banish the angel with his own sword. Harold helps Felicia develop a plan to prevent the remaining nephilim being seen by God and the world is saved without so much as a paragraph in the local paper.

Felicia’s relationship with Gillian deepens to the point where the vampire puts a dog basket next to her coffin. Julie dates the demon Jasfoup since she doesn’t mind the tentacles. Harold brews tea to celebrate.



comments? criticisms?

Hook for Nephilim's Child

When Felicia Turling cruises for anonymous sex the bite from her twenty-minute lover leaves her both breathless and hungry for raw steak. Her body is changing and she doesn’t know why until someone, or something, tries to kill her.

Taken under the dark wing of a vampire mistress, Felicia finds herself embroiled in a world she never dreamed existed and all the fables in the world didn’t prepare her for the terror that an angel brings. Only the demon Jasfoup can save her, but when her landlord turns out to be the son of Lucifer and her sister gives birth to a dragon, she’d better learn how to make tea. Preferably with two sugars and a biscuit on the side.

Nephilim’s Child is a light-hearted urban fantasy in 120,000 words and three digestives.

Fruitless Memory

Jasfoup helped Harold carry the groceries from his van to the kitchen. It was rare for Harold to do the shopping, but asking Devious to get the exact brand of butter that Harold liked, or exactly twelve pounds and three ounces of lean venison, was like asking the Pope for a condom.

The demon poked through all the bags, discarding olives, ciabattas, cheese and biscuits by tossing them over his shoulder.

Where’s the fruit?” he asked. “I specifically requested apples, oranges, greengages, pomegranates and mangoes. Have you left a bag somewhere?”

Harold shrugged. “Sorry,” he said. “I just plum forgot.”

© Rachel Green 2007

The One Regret

Gillian has not been in love for a long time. Affection, perhaps, and definitely like but not love, not since the one boy that broke her heart.

It was the summer of 1958 when she met him. A casual glance across a smoke-filled pubic bar ripped her heart from her chest and her sensibilities from her mind. On the juke box the Everly Brothers were playing ‘All I have to do is Dream’ but Gillian knew she’d have to do more than that to have any chance with him.

Dean Harris was home for the summer, convinced that he could become a rock star. He’d played guitar since he was thirteen and now that he’d grown into his looks his skill on the strings combined with his talent at poetry – and thus lyrics – was a perfect springboard into the dream of rock and roll limelight.

He was no stranger to the art of lovemaking, either, and when Gillian pulled him into the pub yard and made love to him among the empty crates and bottles he had no inclination to decline her advances. She played him as skilfully as he teased a melody from the steel strings of his guitar and when her teeth grazed his neck he responded with an intensity surpassing anyone before him. She was impulsive and took everything he offered.

She visits him still. The stone effigy on his tomb had not changed in fifty years and she runs her hand across his cold cheek in the moonlight. Her beautiful youth has remained as unchanged as she, though the corpse beneath her beautiful youth has long since shrivelled and rotted and will never again have a beating heart within its chest.

She loved him too hard, too fast and his death under her lips took away her desire to ever want another.

© Rachel Green 2007

Stupid!

I got Nephilim's Child finished on time and then read the rules to the Daily Mail competition... Double spaced and printed out, delivered by 2nd July during a postal strike.

*If* I can get 700 pages printed, bound and posted by courier I may stand a slight chance of getting it there on time, if I can afford all that.

Buggrit!

If you're running a national competition, why ask for manuscript submissions? The chances are that 75% of these won't be read past the first page, so why not ask for either electronic submission or just synopsis and first 10K ?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Nephilim's Child

Copy edit completed. I'll be subbing this one out tomorrow.

Earlier still

At Vixen’s feet the imp considered the offer. “Fifty percent of what?” he asked. “Are we talking money of or something less intrinsic?”

“I was thinking money.” Vixen looked at him more closely. His eye ridges were stretched forward giving the appearance of a frown. “Why? What were you thinking of?”

“Certainly not money.” The imp cast a glance down the hallway to the two ghosts. “How about your soul?”

Vixen laughed aloud, the sound fading on her lips as she realised the imp was quite serious. “My soul? No, I don’t think so. That’s too high a price.”

The imp shrugged. “No harm in asking,” it said. “It’s forfeit anyway purely because of your profession.”

“That’s not very comforting.”

“Oh, don’t worry. It’s only if you believe in Hell. Come on, time we furthered your mission.”

“What about your cut?” Vixen asked, glancing back at the two ghosts as she followed. One of them, the male, broke off the pursuit, sinking through the floor to the landing below. “I can’t help believing in Hell, can I?” she said to the imp’s scaly back. “Not now that I’ve seen the evidence.”

“You could try.” The imp headed down the stair, his hooves cushioned by the deep carpeting. “You could convince yourself that I’m not an imp at all but a goblin or an unfortunate child.”

He stepped back as a figure leaped up the stairwell and hugged the nearest newel post for protection. “Of course,” he said as the new arrival drew a saber, “You’re going have to come up with a convincing cover story for a vampire.”

© Rachel Green 2007

Fun meme

Rosina Lippi is having a meme contest for her book Tied to the Tracks.

Five Reasons Why the Best Writers Come from Laverstone, home of Harold and Jasfoup:

1. As it's the supernatural black hole of England, all the muses eventually turn up here.

2. Our direct line to Hell enables us to draw on the whole of human experience.

3. Our tribes of incubi and succubi can whispers excerpts of our books into the sleeping minds of potential patrons...

4. Our legions of undead can ensure that there is always something to get your teeth into.

5. Want a review from a long-dead author? No problem. This if a veritable whimfy of a nofel ~ William Shakespeare




Tied to the Tracks
by Rosina Lippi. July 3, 2007. ISBN: 0425215326

"[This] is a hilarious, smart, sexy novel with a heart of gold." -- Susan Wiggs

"[Lippi] turns her buoyant creative talents to the romantic comedy genre with an effervescent tale of a trio of offbeat Yankee filmmakers plunked down deep in the heart of Dixie." -- Booklist

Read an excerpt. (Adobe Reader required)| Watch the book trailer

You can find Tied to the Tracks at Amazon , Barnes & Nobel, Borders, Powells, or at your local independent bookseller.

This meme has been entered in the Tied to the Tracks contest, originating on Rosina Lippi's Storytelling2 weblog. If you'd like to enter the BUCKS & BOOKS meme contest, get the rules here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

He's gone...

Mission Complete

“What did you do?”

Jasfoup stared, horrified, at the space that had been occupied by his erstwhile employer. He passed his hands over the area several times to make certain Harold hadn’t just turned invisible.

“I have completed my mission.” Vixen backed up against the wall. “He’s gone.”

“Gone where?” Gillian picked up the assassin’s dropped tantō and pressed against her neck. “I don’t think you’ll be able to grow a new head.”

Vixen frowned. Her right hand was already a pink amorphous blob as the cells re-grew. She was fortunate that the vampire had taken it off above the wrist. She knew from experience how weak a replacement wrist was to begin with. A snake would grow feathers before she could regenerate her own head. She swayed as a wave of fatigue broke over her.

“He’s gone to Neverland.”

Vixen slumped to the ground and passed out.

Julie kicked the prone form. “He’s not Peter Pan you fucking moron.”

Gillian relaxed and inspected the tantō. A frown crossed her features. “How’s your eyesight, Jasfoup?” she asked. “There’s something odd about this blade.”

“Pretty good.” The demon took the blade and whistled. “This isn’t a pound store knock-off,” he said. This is a monofilament blade. I’m surprised she only cut your saber in two and not your whole arm.”

“She’s got a gadget that makes pentacles, too,” Frederick added, “and contact lenses.”

“Has she indeed?” Gillian turned the assassin over and pried open her eye.

“It’s jus’ the one,” said Molly, appearing from the upstairs hallway. “I seen her put it in.”

Gillian looked up, an eyeball in her hand. “I worked that out. Thanks, Molly.”

© Rachel Green 2007

Later...

Jasfoup rubbed his face with the palms of his hands. His lips ached, his eyes ached. By all the gods, his brain ached! He turned his face down, shielding it from view with his hands in line with his cheeks and took a few calming breaths. Finally, judging the moment when someone else was just about to speak, he looked up at them.

They were staring at him, their faces ashen. Felicia, her normally calm composure shattered by streaks of tears; Frederick, his customary pipe forgotten; Julie, the globes of her Jupiter eyes circling erratically around her head and Gillian, her black-in-black eyes staring back at him. Only Devious seemed unconcerned, happy to work his way through the unfinished meals of the five seated beings.

The demon took a deep breath. “The question we have to face,” he said, “Is where is Harold, how do we get him back and do we want to?”

“That’s three questions.” Two of Julie’s seven eyes were fixed upon him, the other five watching each of the others.

“Um… I’m right here, actually.” Harold waved.

The others ignored him and turned instead to Frederick when he cleared his throat. “We ought to ask that bloody bald bint,” he said. “She came here to do him in and damn well did the deed. As for getting him back, of course we do. He’s the glue what binds us all together. Without him we’d just drift apart.”

“That’s touching, Frederick. Thanks.” Harold wiped a tear from his eye.

Jasfoup coughed. “Of course we want to get him back,” he said. “I didn’t mean that we should just abandon him. It’s just that we don’t want to put ourselves in danger doing so.” He paused and extended his claws. “I’m with the ghost,” he said. “Let’s interrogate the prisoner.”

“Aye.” Gillian’s fingernails grew into talons.

“Aye.” Felicia wered into her half wolf form.

“Aye.” Sparks flickered around Julie’s hands.

“Aye.” Frederick looked at his own ghostly appendages. “I’ll have a chat with her.”

© Rachel Green 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Game On

Vixen uttered a murmured prayer as she stepped forward, following the creature back toward the Eastern stairs. The ghost watched her pass, tossing the carving knife from hand to hand. “What are you doing, imp?” she asked.

Vixen nodded to herself, grateful that she at least knew what the creature leading her was. She racked her brains, trying to remember all the folklore about such creatures, but all she could think of was winged cartoon gargoyles and the creature in front of her had no wings.

The imp looked back at the ghost. “Just get back to your work, Molly. Let me deal with this.”

The second ghost glided up. “You can’t take her to Harold, mate. She’s up to no good.”

“Don’t worry, Fred.” The imp grinned. “You can trust me.”

The two ghosts watched the imp and the assassin turn the corner and head downstairs.

“I don’t trust him at all,” said Molly. “Do you?”

“About as much as I’d trust a priest,” said Frederick. “I’ll go and find Gillian.”

“Ha!” Molly grinned. “That’d be a fight an’ all. My penny on the vampire”

Frederick frowned. “You don’t have a penny.”

“I’ll think of something to pay with.”

© Rachel Green 2007

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Negotiated Charm

“Don’t!”

Vixen’s cry was sudden, breathless, almost a hiss of pure panic. The creature at her feet paused, one eyebrow ridge raised. “Why not, pray tell?” he said. “Why should I leave you in comparative safety when you’re obviously up to no good?” He indicated the female ghost hovering just outside the technogram. “Molly really want’s to make your acquaintance.”

“She’ll kill me.” Vixen slumped. “I thought I could get in, dispose of this Waterman and get out again before anyone was the wiser. I should have now he had supernatural allies.”

“Dispose of him?” The creature looked her up and down, taking note of the number of weapons she carried. “Why? What has he done to you?”

Vixen shrugged and sqatted. “Nothing,” she said. “It’s not a personal matter, just a contract.”

“From whom?” It held up a hand to the ghost and she backed off, still holding up the knife. He punctured Vixen’s protective sphere, leaving her exposed but not I immediate danger. “Talk quickly,” he said, “because I’m only patient if I’m not hungry, and it’s almost an hour since I ate.”

“I don’t know.” Vixen had no preconceptions that the creature could be trusted but what choice did she have? She eyed the stairwell leading to the roof. All she needed was a three second start.

“Well who do you work for? I could go through the directory but I’ll be more lenient if you just tell me.”

“Directory?” Vixen almost laughed. “We’re not in the telephone book.”

The creature struck her, his stature allowing him to reach only as high as her arm but with sufficient force to scratch. “But now I have your DNA,” he said. “I can have your life history in minutes.”

Vixen deflated, knowing that he was probably telling the truth. “The Shadowblades,” she said. “It was supposed to be routine. They didn’t tell me about the bodyguards.”

“Nobody ever does.” The creature grinned. “Perhaps they wanted you to fail.”

Vixen did laugh at that. “What would be the point?” she asked. “They can kill me with a word.”

“Perhaps they wanted to send Harold a message.” The creature leaned closer and lowered his voice. “What if I helped you? What would be my cut?”

Vixen raised her eyebrows. “You devious little shit,” she said. “Fifty per-cent.”

© Rachel Green 2007

Fattened Fish

Harold stood at the top of Lover’s Leap, looking down into the churning waters of the river’s hundred foot drop.

“Don’t do it.” Jasfoup called from the riverbank.

Harold chuckled. “I was just wondering how many people must have jumped from here over the centuries.”

“Three,” said Jasfoup, turning around to watch a small log on the river speed up and hurtle over the edge. “A young couple who wanted to prove that God blessed their union and the girl’s father.”

“What happened to them?”

Jasfoup looked into the moiling pool at the bottom. “We had good trout that year.”

© Rachel Green 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

On Fairies

When I was young, or at least significantly younger than I am now, I believed in fairies. I think most of us did when we were children: elves, goblins and fairies are a part of our literary life when we’re children. With the onset of age I stopped believing in fairies and reasoned that it was my parents who put sixpence (I do indeed remember sixpences, thank you very much) under my pillow when I lost a tooth. Of course, now my partner puts a gag under there instead, but that’s probably Too Much Information.

As I got older still I was able to see the magic in the world again. There is so much left to the imagination that who are we to dismiss the notion. Just because we have no proof doesn’t mean that they’re not there. Do we have proof of quarks? Strangenesses? Charms? (Actually, perhaps we do. It’s been a long time since I read up on physics so fill in your own unproven beliefs.)

In my mind, fairies do exist. The characters that appear in my novels meet them regularly, although they’re not the friendly flower fairies of my youth but a race of creatures who, while having no desire to conquer this plane, nevertheless are fascinated by it and the potential for food and trade that it provides. They may not give me sixpence for my tooth but they may well extract the rest with a pair of pliers and a chisel.

I knew there was a reason I learned self defence.

Why not do something good toady? Believe in fairies, just for a moment. What harm can it do, besides getting your teeth pulled?



This post brought to you by the fairies Good Spot, Mernac and Nightblade, and by the demon Jasfoup, who likes his fairies poached in butter.


Spagwacket

Quick, he was, and sharp. Tell him about numbers and he would deduce mathematics; tell him about money, and he’d have your credit card before you could say ‘Jackdaw’. He didn’t so much live at the bottom of our garden as consider that we lived at the bottom of his.

Seedstealer

Gossamer wings buzzed hesitantly as she edged closer, saffron yellow dress trailing the damp ground. Her eyebrows arched quizzically as she brushed back a lock of her riotous dark hair behind ears as pointed as a cats. She smiled shyly, exposing a row of sharp teeth as she bit down.


Fade

She walked with a limp and the aid of a gnarled stick; her wings tattered from a childhood meeting with a mortal dog. Hair once as luxuriant as a field of wheat in summer now hunk lankly as she raised weary eyes to the hedgerow, looking for sun ripened nightberries.


Minstrel

He’d got a letter-opener from somewhere, six inches long and shaped like a broadsword, and he brandished it with skill: defending the portal from the attentions of the tabby cat. He stood with a self satisfied smirk on his round face as he called the others to the unexpected feast.

© Rachel Green 2006, 2007

A Slight Problem (240)

Vixen backed off. Cocooned in her protective technogram the ghost was unable to harm her but conversely, she couldn’t get out without exposing herself to the carving knife again.

She took a further two steps backwards with the sphere, centred on the emitter stone in her pocket, moving with her.

“She makes it all seem so effortless, doesn’t she?”

Vixen spun around to see a second ghost, this one of an elderly man with a pipe, staring at the first ghost with what appeared to be admiration. He turned to Vixen. “Now me,” he said, “I can barley lift a teaspoon, let alone wield it with such finesse.”

“Thank ‘e, Master Frederick.” The other ghost smiled, holding the knife at the ready. “’Appen you’ll get the ‘ang o’ it soon enough.”

“How can I hear you both?” asked Vixen. “I don’t have the clairaudience chip.”

“That’ll be my fault, miss.” The voice belonged to a small scaly figure at the height of her knee. “I gated in and gave you the hearing.”

Vixen pulled out her blade again. “How?” she asked. “This shield is supposed to be impenetrable.”

The figure shrugged. “Against technology, maybe. The problem is that it’s not a real pentagram, is it? A real pentagram would have sealed the magical field an’ all. Yours just let me gate straight in.

He stretched out a finger. “It pops from the inside, don’t it?”

Outside, the female ghost smiled.


© Rachel Green 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Defensive Position

 

Vixen somersaulted backwards into the hallway and out of range of the ghost. “Holy freakin’ crap,” she muttered, holstering the needle gun on favour of her eleven inch tantō. She blocked the ghost’s next cut with a rising block against the blade and swept in for a perfect beheading stroke.

Except it wasn’t.

She’d never tried beheading a ghost before, but her blade clearly wasn’t suitable, passing through the nebulous form as if it wasn’t there at all. She swore again, backing off and using the tantō as a purely defensive weapon and wracked her brain trying to think of something that would affect the murderous spirit.

She was backed up to the cupola staircase by the time her fingers caressed the pentagram rune. She had bought it months ago and had never used it, enabling it to slip from her conscious mind. She thumbed the on switch and relaxed as the technology aligned molecules of carbon dioxide in a hollow sphere with a six foot radius, preventing the entrance of anything larger than an oxygen atom.

She was safe. Out in the open, in full view of anyone who happened to go for a 3:00 a.m. stroll along the disused third floor hall, but safe. Even a ghost couldn’t affect her through the technological equivalent of a protective circle. It could only be broken from the inside.

Which left her the additional problem of either completing her mission from within an invisible bubble or dropping in and facing the blade-wielding ghost.

At least she had time to think.

 

© Rachel Green 2007

Impromptu Day Off

The hottest day of the year occurred at the end of August, when the herbs outside the kitchen were wilting before Harold even went to work. Jasfoup was already ensconced on a lounger by the garden pond, Felicia stretched out on the grass next to him.

“Are you working today or not?” Harold had his Tupperware box containing egg and cress sandwiches tied up with string.

“Not,” said Jasfoup. “I work seven days a week and just want to relax.”

“What about you?” Harold asked, turning to Felicia.

She raised her head, squinting against the strong light to make him out. “The gallery can stay shut,” she said. “It’s too hot to sit under all those lights.”

Harold chose to ignore the irony. “I suppose it’s appropriate,” he said, sitting down and opening his sandwich box, “that a werewolf should enjoy the dog days of summer.”


© Rachel Green 2007

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mistaken Belief

 

Vixen paused at the top of the stairwell. While performing this job would give her valuable experience, her superiors in the Shadowblade would not be happy with her if she removed the wrong person. Her arm itched at the thought, and she rubbed it ruefully. The long scar that ran across her bicep had never properly healed – a reminder of the last time she had fluffed a mission.

She took a small box from her inside pocket and opened it, squinting to see the contents in the almost perfect darkness. The contact lens – just one – contained enough microscopic circuitry to simulate the effect of a sight spell and would enable her to see creatures not normally visible to the mortal eye.

Blinking as the lens slid over her eyeball, she looked up to see a woman watching her impassively. “Shit!” she said, slamming backwards into the wall, mentally kicking herself for forgetting that such an important person as her target would be bound to have supernatural protection.

The woman was dressed in ancient clothes; homespun cloth and hair tied into a lace cap. A ghost, then, and harmless despite the wicked looking carving knife at her belt. Ghosts couldn’t affect the living. It was saying something, but vixen had no way of hearing the voices of the dead; not without investing in some serious charms. She took a last glance and moved towards the stairs again.

It was only her reflexes that saved her from the carving knife that slammed into the wall an inch from her face.

 

 

© Rachel Green 2007

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Copy Edit complete.

That's it! I've finished copy editing "An Ungodly Child" and sent it back to the agent.

I'll start editing 'Nephilim Children' tomorrow.

Reticent Hero

“Timmy!”

Jennie Simmons screamed as her five year old son, seemingly in slow motion, toppled from the side of the quay into the churning waters of the harbour. It was clarity of sight that she had never experienced before and hoped she would never again. Timmy had been distracted by seagull landing close to steal a dropped chip. He had let go of his balloon (Oh God! Why had she bought a balloon?) which had floated up out of reach.

He’d followed it, of course, stepping too close to the edge so that his next step took him plunging into the water.

She raced over, still screaming his name and feeling that she was doomed to slow motion. Other people were reacting to her screams but getting in her way rather than helping. All Jennie could do was point at the turbulent waves and the scrap of wool that had been Timmy’s hat.

Onlookers wore horror as a shroud, scanning the waves for any sign of the mite as Jennie pushed past them, desperate for a sign of her son. “Timmy! Timmy!” she screamed again.

“What, Mummy?”

Jeannie spun around to the sight of him sat on a bench eating an ice-cream, sans hat but with his balloon, the one she’d seen float away, tied firmly to one wrist.

She dashed over and shook him. “What have I told you? You never, ever go near the edge!”

Timmy began to cry and onlookers turned away, cheated of the spectacle of a newsworthy drama. “You’re dry!” she said. “But… I saw you fall in.”

“That man saved me.” Timmy pointed to a dark skinned man in a grey suit. “An’ he got me my balloon an’ an ice-cream.”

Jeannie smiled at the man. “Thank you,” she said. “You must be an angel.”

The man glanced upward as if he expected to see a cloud of his namesakes. “Not exactly,” he said. “It was nothing really.”


© Rachel Green 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007

An Ungodly Child COPY EDIT

Ditching the evidence

Harold watched Edmund Braithwaite and his friend shamble across the park. He’d gone to school with Eddie and although the fellow had been three years his senior Harold could recall several essays he’d written for him. The poor chap had been bottom of his class academically, if not bottom of the school. He’d had a real talent for sports, though, particularly if the sport involved hitting someone and taking their dinner money.

“Eddie.” He nodded as his old schoolmate approached.

Edmund scowled from beneath his baseball cap. It looked ridiculous on him. “Harold Waterman,” he said.

Harold nodded. “Well done,” he said. “How have you been?”

“All right, I suppose. Nothing a new pair of legs wouldn’t cure.” He gave a laugh which turned into a hacking cough.”

“That sounds nasty.”

“Ah. It is.” Edmund lowered himself to the bench next to Harold.

“Ask him how he got it.”

Harold looked up at the speaker. He could only just remember Jimmy Harris for the boy, a perennial member of Eddie’s gang, had sought neither Harold’s services nor his dinner money.

“How he got what? The cough?”

Eddie looked up from inspecting his shoes. “Who you talking to?” he asked.

Harold made a gesture. “Jimmy,” he said.

“You want a bunch of fives?”

Harold leaned back. “Not especially. Why?”

“Jimmy’s bin dead twenty year.”

“He has?” Now that Eddie had mentioned it, Jimmy did look a lot younger than he should. “How did he die?”

“It was nay my fault.” Eddie glared at him, his muscles tense. “How was I to know the car were in gear?”

“You ran him over?”

“Just a bit he did.” Jimmy laughed. At least death hadn’t robbed him of his humour. “The getaway van wouldn’t start so I was checking the engine.”

“How did you know that?” Eddie glared. “Were you there?”

“Lucky guess.” Harold scowled at Jimmy’s laughter. “So how did you end up with emphysema at forty?”

“It was Jimmy’s fault.” Eddie stared out toward the duck pond. “It was him that thought of robbin’ Benny’s tobacconist shop. After he… died… I ‘ad to get rid o’ the evidence.”

“Let me guess.” Harold smiled to himself. “This is just a shot in the dark, but did you smoke them?”

“400 cartons in a week,” said Jimmy. “He couldn’t bear to just throw ‘em.”

© Rachel Green 2007

Saturday, June 16, 2007

An Ungodly Child COPY EDIT

Time Assassin

Vixen pulled up her velvet cat suit and buckled on her armour, the straps fitting perfectly across her contoured body. Muscles bulged beneath the nap of the fabric; One hundred and seventy pounds of toned muscle. She checked her equipment, dropping each piece into place on her armour as she verified its condition. Smallsword, needlegun, combat blade, knife (ankle holster), palm hooks, throwing discs, spare cartridges, time distortion transmitter, compass and wet-wipes.

She loaded the gun with a clip of soporifics and thumbed the safety catch before replacing it in its holster. Checking her camouflage make up, she headed out of the door to her waiting motorbike and roared into the night heading for Laverstone and her target, Harold Waterman.

After tonight, he would no longer exist.


© Rachel Green 2007

Friday, June 15, 2007

An Ungodly Child COPY EDIT

Follow-up story

Derbyshire Times 14-06-07

Salvage Rites

 

“Did she indeed?” Harold dismissed the imp and picked up his jacket. “Come on, Jasfoup,” he said as he strode through the kitchen. “There’s a witch in Slough who’s just mis-drawn her protective circle and is about the summon one of the Nine Brethren.”

“She’ll be ripped into pieces.” Jasfoup chuckled. “We can’t intervene, though. It’s a risk you take when you summon a lord of Hell and I’m not putting my neck out to stop her winning a Darwin Award.”

“I’m not going to interfere,” said Harold. “I just want to get there as soon as possible.”

Jasfoup frowned. “Why the hurry? “

Harold grinned. “If we’re first on the scene I can claim salvage rights on her equipment and familiars.”

 

© Rachel Green 2007

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

An Ungodly Child COPY EDIT

Be Careful…

 

“Is that it?” Richard turned to the demon and handed him the piece of paper. “My soul now belongs to you in exchange for three wishes?”

Jasfoup shrugged. “What were you expecting?”

“I dunno.” Richard sucked his thumb which was still bleeding from Jasfoup’s razor sharp claws. “Some sort of baptism into the Unholy Church I suppose.”

Jasfoup thought for a moment and nodded. “We can do that if you like,” he said. “I know where I can lay my hands on enough blood to fill a font and there’s a de-sanctified church in Epping at the moment.”

“That’s okay.” Richard grinned. “You’re not going to get me to waste a wish so easily.”

The demon laughed and stretched his wings. “It was worth a try,” he said. “Look. I’ve got five minutes. What do you want as your first wish?”

“To live forever but remain exactly as I am,.” Ricky glanced at his bedroom mirror. “Everybody loves my looks. I want to keep them.”

“Fair enough.” Jasfoup concentrated on the task. “Granted. What about your second wish?”

There was no reply from the impassive stone statue that wore Richard’s face.

© Rachel Green 2007

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Blood

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Vixen regarded her hair impassively. Though it had taken her ten years to grow, the shorn locks merely represented another stage in her career advancement. To be accepted into the legendary Shadowblade school was an honour she had been seeking since she’d watched her father be assassinated at seven years old.

She bent her head, relaxing into the pain as the novice tattoo was etched into her skull. It would be added to with each successive rank she attained over the coming years until she died or graduated.

The acrid taste of her father’s blood still lingered on her tongue.

© Rachel Green 2007

"The Summoning"

Rachel - The Summoning - Watercolour

 

A1 size watercolour by Rachel Green

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

An Ungodly Child COPY EDIT

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The Artful Assassin

 

Vixen sped across the neatly manicured lawns like a moon shadow, her random sweeps and turns designed to throw off anyone targeting her. She reached the stone walls of the manor house and climbed, using the claws on the palms of her leather gloves to grip the irregularities of the old sandstone blocks.

A trickle of dried mortar scattered across her books as she pulled herself over the parapet. The cupola over the centre of the house loomed above her. Her research had shown her that the stairwell that connected it the upper galleries was the easiest point of entrance.

 

© Rachel Green 2007

Concealed Truth

“Harold!” Jasfoup ran into the office. His suit was dusty and he smelled of hot sun and camel dung. “Look what I’ve found for you?”

Harold grinned at his companion’s obvious enthusiasm. “What is it?” he asked.

“The original transcript of Cain,” said Jasfoup, the reverence giving his voice a hushed hollowness. “Written in cuneiform in his own blood.”

“Fascinating!” Harold donned a pair of white cotton gloves and lifted the ancient parchment out of the wooden box. “Where did you get it?”

“In a cave in Mesopotamia.” Jasfoup moved round so that he could see the text over Harold’s shoulder. “I heard there’d been a minor earthquake so I went to see what had turned up.”

“Fascinating.” Harold trailed his fingers along the faded text. “And my brother did see me with Lilith and shouted for Adam, so I hit him with a stick to dislodge the memory and my brother fell upon the ground and layed still.”

“What will you do with it?”

Harold smiled. “File it under ‘Fiction’’”

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Small Print

“Why won’t you do this for me? You’ve done it in the past.” Harold glared at the demon, who studiously filed his nails into perfect points. He spared Harold a glance.

“It’s the new TOS that was came into effect last month,” he said. “You simply don’t have the level of service that entitles you to that. Not any more.”

“But it was never a problem before.”

“Contracts change.”

“I never agreed to a change in my contract.” Harold was almost pleading.

“You did, I’m afraid. Clause 5178/B subsection H in your original contract stated that the Terms of Service wire subject to revision at any time without prior approval and would be retrospectively backdated.” Jasfoup patted him on the back. “Sorry, old chum.”

“All I wanted was someone to scrub my back.” Harold picked up the loofah and turned around so that his back was to the stream of water.

The demon coughed and looked away from the sudden full frontal view of his friend. “I’m sorry,” he said. “That now comes under the heading of ‘Personal Erotic Services’ and has to be performed by at least a class three Lustful.” He shrugged. “It’s out of my hands. Of course, if you want me to flay the skin off altogether, I’m all for it.”

“No thanks, I’m rather attached to it.” Harold narrowed his eyes. “Wait a minute.‘Retrospectively backdated,’ you said. Backdated from when?”

Jasfoup coughed. “Next month,” he said. “As soon as I’ve written it.”

© Rachel Green 2007

A Brief Excursion into History

The battle of Lavers Field is one of the least known of the victories of the Royalists against Cromwell’s troops. Having been defeated at Turnham Green in 1642 , Charles was returning to Oxford to regroup his troops when they were met at Lavers Field by a full complement of parliamentarians.

Charles’ forces were in disarray and despite his large number of Cavalry would have been crushed against the halberdiers fielded by Cromwell. He withdrew to the nearby hamlet, commandeering the manor house for his staff and its grounds for his men and spent the night deep in discussion with his chief of staff.

On the following morning, the King faced troops that outnumbered his own by a factor of three to one and ordered his three companies to charge at a single point in the parliamentary lines, despite the threat of a crescent movement that would decimate his forces.

At the King’s Cavalry charged, the roundheads braced themselves against the attack until the piper sounded the retreat. Trusting their general and assuming that further Royalist forces had joined the fray, the halberdiers fell back and were cut down by the King’s Cavalry. Four hundred and seventy men died that day, only thirty of them Royalist.

Will Sykes, at his military trial, was acquitted when the surviving troops swore that the man who had sounded the retreat was not Sykes at all but a swarthy man reminiscent of a Saracen. No-one remembered what had happened to him afterwards, for he was not listed among the dead.

The events of that day lie buried in the archives of St. Pity’s church and are commemorated obliquely by a tavern in the hamlet of Brimmington, the Piper’s Retreat. The sign that swings over the door on even the stillest of days depicts a swarthy man with a bugle, although successive generations of publicans have had the fanciful reports of his wings painted out.

© Rachel Green 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007

Radio Jasfoup

I will be live on BBC Radio Sheffield today on the Rony Robinson show 2:15 to 3:00 talking about Harold and Jasfoup, amongst other things.

Friday, June 08, 2007

White Card

“Look at all these questions.” Ralph stared in dismay at the multiple choice questionnaire. “All I want to do is live here for a few years while I write up the New New Testament.”

“That’s Britain in the noughts for you old son.” Jasfoup patted the angel’s back. “You can’t be an illegal immigrant any more. You have to be a valuable contributing member of society and pay your taxes.”

The angel scowled. “What about you then? Did you take this British Citizenship test?”

“Of course not.” The demon polished his nails on his lapel. “I’ve lived here since 1489.”

© Rachel Green 2007

Bluff

Bluff (210)

“Mr Waterman?” The voice came from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Harold looked all around the room before replying even – knowing the habits of gremlins – behing the salt cellar.

“Yes?” he said, his gaze fixed, for want of anything better, upon the light bulb.

“Your time is up. Will you come quietly, or should I arrange a nasty – and painful – accident?”

Harold frowned. “I thought I’d sorted this out yesterday?” he said. “You’re looking at the old paperwork without cross-referencing it to the new files on the server at the Dis Bureau of Records.”

“Er… new files?” The voice had lost its self-assurance.

“That’s right. I have another three to four hundred years yet.”

“Bugger.” There was the sound of something being crossed out. “I wish people would send up form 335/R/DOD revised.”

Harold relaxed and allowed himself a smile. “I sent a 335/PD personally.”

“Did you? It must still be in my in-box.”

“Who are you?” Harold asked the light bulb, but there was no reply. Just a drop of ink on the kitchen floor that slowly faded.

Jasfoup was standing in the doorway. “What is a 335-forward-slash-pee-dee?” he asked.

Harold grinned. “I’ve absolutely no idea,” he said. “I made it up.”

© Rachel Green 2007

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Premature Appointment

Harold stared at the demon. It stank of the pit, its oily snout sniffing the air until it centred on him and took a step forward, bare feet scorching polished oak floorboards.

“Harold Waterman?” it said. “Your time is up.”

“But I’ve got years left to me yet,” Harold protested. “You must have read the wrong docket.”

The demon shook its head, drawing a sword with an edge as sharp as daylight. “No, I don’t think so,” it said. “I’ve got the right address and everything.”

Harold snatched up his mug. “If you don’t leave immediately,” he bluffed, “I’ll douse you in holy water.”

The demon frowned. “You wouldn’t…”

“I would.”

“It took a step forward and Harold flung the contents at it. It screamed as the liquid scalded its mottled flesh, then paused and drew one finger across its cheek. “Coffee?”

Harold coughed. “Do you want cream with that?”

© Rachel Green 2007

Harold, Rex

Harold adjusted his toga while Jasfoup positioned a wreath of laurel leaves upon his head. They were shown to their respective recliners by Felicia in a skimpy outfit.

“I could get used to this,” said Harold as Gillian brought out a platter of daintily garnished meat.

“It is your birthday.” Ada raised a glass of pink gin and inspected the platter. “What’s this then?”

“Flaming tongues with honey and garlic,” said Gillian. “A delicacy in ancient Rome.”

Ada nodded and tried one. “I thought the bird enclosure at the zoo looked a bit empty,” she said. “Now I know why.”

© Rachel Green 2007

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Barbarous Land

“Let’s have a reunion.”

Harold’s raised eyebrows made it more of a question. Jasfoup frowned. “What sot of reunion?” he asked. “Everyone we know already lives around here. We see most of them most days.”

“I meant a family reunion.” Harold stepped forward, his enthusiasm plain.

Jasfoup’s sharp intake of breath stopped him. “Where?” he said.

“Here.” Harold’s gesture took in Brimmington Manor. “It’s familial grounds.”

“Only for four generations.” Jasfoup stood, a fluid motion that brought him upright faster than Harold could blink. “You family’s lands are really in Nod, where your brother was banished after he killed Abel.”

“There, then.” Harold was determined.

Jasfoup patted him on the back. “They don’t have tea in Nod,” he said.

Harold shrugged. “It was just an idea.”

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Off Time

Currently conjugating ideas for "Chill of the Road" so no novel actually being written at present, and I have to edit "An Ungodly Child".

Until then, I'll keep posting odd H&J drabbles.

New Stock Daily

Harold, his nose in a book, came out of the stockroom into the expansive cellars of the shop. It used to be the cellars for the whole row of Georgian townhouses, but a few payments, legal contracts and stonemasonry had garnered him the use of the whole expansive space.

He jumped as something shrieked and looked up to see a hundred pairs of eyes staring at him. Cats of every conceivable breed (but mostly black ones) held his gaze with unblinking green eyes. A rustling alerted him to dozens of owls nesting amongst the ceiling beams and row upon row of rat cages and frog tanks.

He closed his book and made his way upstairs into the shop. “Jasfoup,” he said when he got to the kitchen. “There are hundreds of animal in the cellar. They could have killed me.”

The demon laughed. “I doubt it Harold,” he said. “I’ve only just put them there..”

Harold sat down and reached for a glass of water. “Why?” he asked. “What possessed you to buy so many cats? They’ll cost us a fortune to keep and that’s not considering the rats, toads and owls.”

“And the goats in the yard.”

Harold merely shook his head. “You still haven’t told me why.”

“I like cats.” The demon grinned. “Actually, since we get a lot of magic practitioners in here I thought it would be a good idea to stock pats associated with them.”

“In the cellar?”

Jasfoup shrugged. “Why not? It’s familiar ground.”

© Rachel Green 2007

Friday, June 01, 2007

Headhunters

Harold bent a leaf and peered through the fronds. “It’s no good,” he said. “I can’t find it.”

“A blond, you said?” Jasfoup was on his stomach in the grass.

“Yes, to send it to the museum. All I need is the head.”

“We’ve hunted everywhere. You’ll have to give up.”

“I can’t give up.” Harold forced his way through the prickly bushes. “You can’t just order a head offline, you know.”

“A pity that.” Jasfoup grinned and winked.

“That’s pathetic innuendo.”

“It’s a pathetic search. Why did you let the imps play with your dolls in the first place?”