Thursday, October 11, 2007

There be Dragons here

Okay, I've been outed by one of the best. There is a Dragon in my house. I have several other books to write before I can get to him. However, here is an excerpt from HUSH BABY, SLEEP.

Hush Baby, Sleep
Chapter One

Pain. Worry. Desperation. Despair rejected. Determination. They drifted past his nose like rose petals fluttering to the floor. Their fragile scent barley there, then gone. He was aware of them in a hazy half dream state and inhaled deeply.

Abruptly fire burned low on his back and jerked Trev awake. He jackknifed to a sitting position and swung his head around dazedly. Nobody was in the dark room with him. He was certain of that with more than his human senses.

The burning crawled up his spin like a swarm of bees. He shook he head to clear it and glanced at the clock on the batter night stand. Four a.m. What the hell was happening?

A wave of pain washed over him. He fell forward sinking his head between his knees to breath through it. Perhaps he was dieing. Was this what happened with there was finally nothing left? He didn’t know. His kind were so few, scattered across the globe. He hadn’t seen another like him in more time than he cared to count.

The pain subsided and there was the mist of rose petals for a brief moment. Trev frowned. What did rose petals have to do with dieing? He’d smelled all the scents of death, every damn one human kind could dream up and there’d never been rose petals before. The burning up his spine spread to his shoulder blades. He gingerly stood up and found he was steady on his feet. Kicking an empty bottle of Scotch out of his way he stumbled to the kitchen. Jerking on the facet he thrust his head under the water.

Ice cold well water penetrated the mass of tangled hair and the Scotch induced fog. Trev gritted his teeth and endured it a little longer just to make sure. Flipping the long ropes of coal black hair out of his eyes, he straightened again.

That’s when he felt it. A call to, “Come now!” It came on the wings of white power like a bolt-arrow shot to the heart. It jolted his body back against the wall and he nearly blacked out as it thundered through his body. Gasping as sensations sizzled out through his extremities, he looked down at his hands just to be sure they were still there.

White power! Where had it come from? It’d been thrown at him with a clumsy strength as if the wielder had no idea how to handle it. That was dangerous.

Cautiously he breathed in deeply, testing the scents left in the wake of the hit. Yes! There it was, the trail of power. There were no rose petals on it, no, something else he didn’t recognize.

Trev strode from the cabin. He’d fallen asleep in his clothes so there was no need to dress. Grimly he swung up into the truck. There was no thought besides finding the source. No other options. This time he felt it coming and braced for the hit. Even more powerful than last time it pounded through him. Gritting his teeth he drove, ignoring the burn as long unused faculties roared to life. Tears streaked down lean, almost gray cheeks. It was almost too much to endure. In the wake of this one he sent a response.

“Calm. You must calm down. I’m coming.” He didn’t know if the sender could even read him. He’d put as much push as he could afford on the thought, infusing emotions into it of peace and security.

Immediately he felt the call again. Faint, almost whispered, “Now, now!”

That was confusing considering the strength of the wielder. He hadn’t felt that kind of white power since…okay, perhaps he’d never felt something like this. The Silver Fin Wizards were long gone from the planet as were their ladies, the White Witches. But even back in the time Before, he’d never encountered this concentration in one individual. And he knew it was one person, there were no melodious strains of music to the power. No singing of harmonious voices melding together to throw it. This was a single voice that didn’t sing, chant or even speak it seemed. The person had simply hurled the power at him as if it were a ball to be tossed about.
Barreling down the mountain he skidded around curves, often driving with only two wheels on the road. Speed didn’t bother him, the wielder bothered him. He had no option but to respond and that’d never happened before. If someone could compel him from this distance, why the hell hadn’t he heard of them before?

Thinking about the feel of the throws, Trev automatically slowed as he neared town. The scent was getting stronger. The power pulling him was forcing it’s way into his body, his eyes burned and tears trickled down his cheeks uncontrollably. His hands and feet tingled as a thousand needles poked him in an endless staccato. But it was his back that was on fire.

“Be calm. I’m coming!” he sent again, trying to get the wielder to tone it down.

“Much hurry!” was the insistent pull, the wielder didn’t pull back the power.

A child? Could this be a child? It didn’t seem possible. Deep within him the beast stirred as he’d known it would. His nostrils flared on the smell of that response. Baby powder? No damn way! He didn’t even know what baby powder smelled like. The only babies he’d ever known hadn’t worn it.

Pulling in to the drive way he sat panting a moment looking at the tidy little Cape Code Cottage before him. The house almost vibrated with white power, but there was another voice that he’d not been able to hear from a distance. Well, not after the wielder called him. It was the rose petals. She was here and it pain!

Trev jumped out of the truck and started running up the short path to the frond door. He was half way there when the front door opened. Trev stumbled as power flooded his system. Framed by every light in the house behind her stood thee feet of trembling, sobbing power. Pink footy pajamas and a purple bear clutched in her arms. Ash blond curls rioted about her face and large hazel eyes sent tears down plump pink cheeks already glassy with damp misery. Trev dropped to his knees on the bottom step of the porch.

“Please, sweetheart. Try to calm down,” he gritted out as gently as he could.

“Mommy! Basesent!”

Staggering to his feet he mounted the stairs slowly, hoping he wouldn’t scare her. Currently his frame was six foot and lean. He knew he hadn’t shaved in at least a month and didn’t recall the last time he’d had his hair cut. Bathing might have occurred last week. He was a shameful mess and he knew it. Tears were still dripping into his beard. Haggard would have been a kind word for what was visible of his face.

“Honey, I’m here to help. You’ve got to believe me,” he crooned gently hoping to reach her with is intentions.

“Yes, yes. Hurry,” the clear tones of her voice held no fear. No fear of him at least. Her little hand reached out and grabbed his. Pale as a Paper White Lillies, her fingers curled around one of his to drag him inside. “Dagon hurry. Mommy basesent!”

As soon as she touched him the pain disappeared and he was able to concentrate on the situation as the footy pajamas led him into her house, down a short hall to the kitchen. His eyes caught every detail. Boxes stacked against the wall. Some open ones on the floor. Half the walls bare, the others partly decorated. Things stacked on chairs. The occupants were either moving in or out.

To the left in the kitchen a narrow door was standing open. Feeble light barley punctured the damp darkness below and the scent of rose petals rose from the darkness.

“Mommy, basesent!”

Trev looked down at the tearful face of the little miracle in footy pajamas and surrendered his future. Her perfect little fingers couldn’t even close around on if his grubby digits and she clutched him extending perfect faith that he’d rescue her and Mommy. The most amazing thing was, she knew exactly what he really was. She knew everything and she knew nothing.

At the door to the basement she let go of his hand and stepped back, clutching the purple bear. Thankfully she was calmer and the thundering power emanating from her churning emotions was mostly a roar. It was a roar of faith, confidence that everything would be fixed now.

“Stay right here, sweetheart,” he tried to sound parental so she’d understand the importance of remaining in close proximity to the basement door.

Little Miss Miracle nodded and jammed a thumb in her mouth.

Trev turned to the darkness and hurried down the stairs. He eyes didn’t need even the pitiful light from the bare bulb to see the problem. But it was his nose that told him he was in real trouble. The woman passed out on the floor was the rose petals. Her scent invaded his system and went straight to his libido. The shattering power emanating form the little miracle upstairs had shielded his senses from the real danger.

A feral growl built in his chest and he has no way of stopping it. She lay there with an ancient hulking water heater tank crushing her left leg. He could tell she’d been there a while, trapped and alone. He was thankful she’d passed out. The emotions swirling around the basement were strong enough to tell him she’d been through hell. If she’d had an implement she’d have cut off her leg to get out and back up to her daughter. The wisps of that determination offended his sensitive system so much he nearly upchucked the bitter remains of the whisky he’d drugged himself with for the last week.

The tank on her leg was from one of three unused heating systems in evidence. It must have been brought down here in peaces and built in place perhaps a hundred years ago. The rusted iron carcass was at least four foot in diameter and perhaps six foot tall. At full strength he could have lifted it easily, but he’d given that up around six hundred year ago. Currently he was a starved, gaunt shadow of a being and had almost no hope of moving it. Almost didn’t mean none at all.

Bounding back up the stairs he came to his knees in front of Miss Miracle. “What’s your name, sweetheart?” he asked as calmly as he could.

The thumb came out, she glanced at the open door and back at him, her forehead wrinkled in distress. “Bing Mommy.”

“Yes, I will bring mommy, but I need your help. Tell me your name and then we get mommy.”

“Minuet.”

“Alright Minuet, have you been down to see mommy?”

The kitchen light shimmered of blond curls as her head shook no. “Minuet skeered basent,” she confessed solemnly.

Damn, that was bad. “You know what I am, honey?” he asked cautiously to see how much she was actually aware of.

“Dagon. You hiddy dagon.”

Again he was stunned with her innocent, clear understanding that was so uncluttered with normal human perceptions.” Yes. Hiddy dragon. Do you know why I look like this?”

Minuet frowned again, “Dagon sick?”

“Yes. Exactly. Dragon sick but I need to lift a very heavy thing to help mommy. Will you help me?”

“Minuet berry small,” she informed him holding out one hand to show him, her look telling him she was concerned that he’d missed this critical point.

He took her extended hand and folded it in his. The connection with pure power snapped back in place. He knew he was like a polio victim, not just weak, but one who’s muscles had actually wasted away.

“Do you feel what happens when you hold my hand, Minuet?” Kneeling in front of her he searched her eyes. Desperately hoping shock and revulsion would not suddenly bloom there, unable to quite figure out why it didn’t.

“Dagon feel better?”

“Yes. Much better. Minuet is medicine. Will you come with me to help mommy?”

Big eyes glanced at the door to the basement and back at his eye, her forehead wrinkled in concentration and she stepped closer to him. “Me skeered basesent,” she repeated directly into his face.

“I know, sweetheart, but mommy needs both of us. Can you be very brave? You don’t even have to walk down, just climb on my back, close your eyes and hold on. I’ll bring you both up the stairs and then you open your eyes. Can you do that for mommy?”

Nodding she place the bear carefully on the floor and held up her arms. Trev helped her climb onto his back, her little arms clamped around his neck. The two pink covered feet couldn’t reach very far around his chest, but she did have the clinging abilities of the very young in any species.

“Close your eyes. You must be calm to help,” he cautioned, “Ready?”

“Yes.”

Trev hurried down the stairs, the little body on his back acting like a power pack, he lifted the huge cylinder and set it aside, being careful to place it so it appeared he’d been able to tip it off. Scoping up the woman he tried to ignore burst of need exploding up his body. Delicate and light as a feather he carefully carried his burdens up the stairs.

For an instant he was loath to put her down, carrying both of them created such an intoxicating mix of power and passion, his starved frame hungered for them with the need of hundreds of years without even a taste of what he craved.

Placing the woman carefully on the table his hand went to her leg without hesitation. Passing over it he felt the crushed bones, mangled arteries and dieing muscle. Even with the little one on his back he didn’t have the strength to fix it all, so he swiftly did what he could with the arteries and veins she needed to have a healthy leg. The rest modern medicine could set and heal, the tiny blood vessels would be beyond them.

He turned away from the table so Minuet would be facing away from it when she opened her eyes. “Okay. Time to get off. You did very well.”

Her little body slid off him and she dashed around him, grabbing the purple bear off the floor as she went to her mother’s side.

“Mommy wake up!” she clutched a limp hand and shook it. Power was building in the room again as Minuet struggled to wake her mother.

Trev went down on one knee beside her, and arm around her shoulders. “Mommy is sleeping and that’s good. Her leg would hurt her very much if she were awake,” he tried to explain and calm the tearful child.

Her vibrations at this level of distress would echo too far, the consequences could be disastrous and she was dangerously young. There was no way to explain to her the real consequences. His own actions were compounding those results but he couldn’t do otherwise. The directive he was ignoring was a lovely theory, all tidy and efficient. It had never been an option for him.

From the first rose petal sent to penetrate his booze induced fog he’d been helpless to over come the natural instincts that had brought him to this moment.

8 comments:

Kelly said...

Yay Dragons!!!!

zinreads said...

Cool -- very, very cool.


Ann

N.J.Walters said...

OMG I wish you could chuck the rest of the projects to work on this one. It's fabulous. We want more! We want more! *NJ leading chant*

Gail said...

Oh you guys are wonderful. NJ, you know how it is to suddenly be taken with a story that has no place in the writing schedule. LOL This one is huge, long dragon back story that I have to find a way to tell in the actual adventure. sigh...Also it's the start of a dang series!! grrrrrr

This story is not Minuet's story, and she is the key to both past and present. At three, being a key is not as important as Barney. Complications are many.

Anonymous said...

i can't wait for this!!! i love the way you pull me in and i fall in love with your characters each time. i am glad that you are going into a sci-fi type one. you are a great writer and i am so looking foreward to where you will take this!!!! (sorry for the run on
)

Marty said...

yummy, dragons! You've been holding out on me *sigh*

Georgia Woods said...

Gail, you've done it again. I can't wait to read this one - I've yet to find one of your books I didn't just love. Whew, boy!!

Gail said...

Oh? I get ya? Thanks. Makes a writer happy to hear she reaches others. Makes this writer exceedingly happy.

See, now the dragon is restless and there are so many books in front of him. Thinking I need to invest in fire extinguishers.