Listening to: Florence + the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Gah, guys! I feel like such a slacker because I haven't written a blog post in over a month! And not because nothing’s happening, because SO many things are transpiring right now. But with my new job, Bloodbird revisions, Thrall to the Burning Sky edits, and the new Sci Fi ms I’m slowly working on, the RWA Conference in July, along with general life happenings, blog posts fell to the wayside. Sorry.
I promise to write more updates soon. Because I have so much to tell you all. SO. MUCH. GOODNESS. But for now, I leave you with the first part of an Emmy Riley novelette I’ve been playing with. It takes place many years before the events in SOUL SKINNED, so Emmy is much younger (and greener to the Bureau). Keep in mind it’s rough and unedited, since it’s something I’ve just been tinkering with recently. Whatever the case, I hope you enjoy!
The front of the house looked like it had been chomped to splinters by ginormous teeth.
Of course, that couldn’t have been what happened. There wasn’t a single creature I could recall from my extensive training at the Bureau Academy that was big enough to chew such a huge, gaping hole.
Next to me Oliver Kinlan, my partner and best friend, surveyed the scene. I've never seen anything like this. You? His voice was a gentle brush across my mind as he used his Communicator ability to discuss the scene.
That was the million-dollar question. No idea. I think we should go inside and see what kind of shape the body is in.
Oliver tilted his head to the side, brow furrowing as he tried to figure out how the house in front of us had become a Level 4 disaster zone. Our first Level 4 disaster zone. The Bureau’s Torch team hadn’t arrived yet, so at this point we would be able to explore the wreckage without anyone bothering us. A few realmbound police officers were working to cordon off the house, but otherwise the area was disconcertingly quiet.
I’m ready, as long you are. Oliver responded in my head.
We were nine months out of the Bureau Academy, and by some fortuitous twist of fate, we’d been assigned partners upon graduation. Oliver and our other best friend, Clare, were the only two people who managed to keep me sane. Between a daily struggle with my empathic controls and the constant memories of victims I Soul Walked, my fuse was ridiculously short when it came to dealing with people. Or situations. I was trying to work on it, but some days I couldn’t even bother.
“Are you two just planning on standing out here all day?” Salvatore Domingo asked in a hollow voice as he glided past us, his movements liquid and graceful beneath his black-on-black attire.
I’d gotten used to the ghoul, but the eeriness of being around someone that was not really alive and not really dead hadn’t dissipated. Plus, witches and ghouls have never been the best of friends, even before Vanth forced us to make our species – and many others – known to humans.
“We’ll be there in a moment,” Oliver said, his tone was respectful but the stiff line of his body told another story.
In just three short months we would be on our own, but for now we were assigned under Salvatore's care. He was the agent responsible for our field training, and though on the outside he seemed like a hard and cold undead man, I knew it was just a façade. Despite Oliver’s opinion of him, I thought we’d lucked out having Salvatore as our trainer. It could have been worse. We could have been assigned someone who made us do their paperwork all day.
Salvatore let us take on investigations almost completely on our own, showing up at scenes we were called to only observe us and offer advice. We’d solved three homicides cases and captured a few petty criminals since starting our field training, which was more than a lot of other new agents.
Still, Oliver didn’t see it that way. He thought the Bureau needed me and that’s why Salvatore was so lenient with us. I was the only Soul Walker in the city.
I offered Oliver a small smile, then pushed into motion, following Salvatore. Oliver kept pace next to me as we advanced over the neatly trimmed grass, stepping over shattered glass and ruined wood siding.
Salvatore slipped into the house, but Oliver and I halted in front of the spot where the front door had once been.
“By the Gods,” Oliver muttered.
The back of the house mirrored the same destruction as the front. The damage was like a bullet that had burst a path all the way through a body, leaving a bloody disaster in its wake. Except instead of blood coating everything, strange orange goo was smeared along the floor and walls.
In the center of what had once been a living room, Salvatore stood next to a man with a no-nonsense military cut hair, a hint of grey peppering the otherwise dark strands. I’d met Detective Miller several times since beginning my field training. He worked on the homicide beat in the Seattle Police Department. Since I dealt with the souls of the departed as a Soul Walker, we’d crossed paths a few times.
“Agent Riley, Agent Kinlan. Good to see you both,” Detective Miller said and motioned for us to enter the house.
“Hi, Detective Miller,” I said once we’d reached them. I extended my hand, and he gripped it in a short professional handshake. Oliver did the same. “Sorry it took us so long to arrive. Traffic was horrible.”
The detective nodded. “We heard reports of a sinkhole stopping traffic along Aurora Avenue. We expected that to delay you, so don’t worry about it.”
“Good, thanks. So, this house is an obvious disaster area, but I’m certain that the owner’s poor decorating ability wasn’t the reason you called us,” I said, flicking a gaze over the demolished room before settling on the detective again.
Detective Miller shook his head. “No, we found a body too. I mean, we think it’s a body.”
“You think?” Oliver asked.
“It doesn’t look like much of anything anymore,” Detective Miller said.
“Well, what does it look like?” I asked.
"I’ll show you,” the Detective gestured for us to follow him. We carved a path around an upturned couch, over a shattered television, and into a wrecked kitchen. Detective Miller stopped a few feet away from what looked to be a large blob of glistening orange mucus on the beige tiled floor. “Here it is.”
© 2015 Rachelle E. Morrison