Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hellbent, baby!

Here's the deal: as of last week, due to serious stress over Crux-related issues, I decided I won't get involved in the publishing process until I return in September (or unless my involvement is mandatory; I.E. Deea manages to get the job done and I have to sign a contract). So... Sorry! If you want more updates, you'll have to pester her about it.

Still, I will continue posting and writing, and while I won't offer you any more details about THAT novel, I will share some things about the NEXT novel. It's called Hellbent and here's the first teaser!

Bright lightning struck nearby, but the thunder hesitated to join. When it finally struck, the door opened and the blond Incubus walked in with a subtle smile on his lips. His green eyes flared and something about that reminded Octavius of Thomas.

The small white boy stood by the tall window and peeked through the half-open green velvet curtains. He stood in darkness and silence and the frosty St. Petersburg air. He couldn’t feel, but there was still a macabre beauty left in his eyes – a last remnant of the humanity he had lost long ago.

“Come in,” Rene said and Octavius became one with the shadows.

The enthralled teenage girl stepped inside, her blue dreamy gaze lost in a fantasy. She wasn’t older than Marie – it made Octavius furious.

“What are you doing?” the Upir child asked through telepathy. “Have you lost all sense of decency? She’s not even allowed to vote yet!”

“Katja, won’t you please take a seat?” the beautiful Incubus said with an inviting gesture. “Right there, dear,” he added, pointing at the lavish burgundy armchair by the windows.

“Don’t you ignore me!” Octavius shouted in Rene’s mind. “If you’re going to feed on children, do it somewhere else! I don’t want to see this!” he hissed.

The green orbs locked onto the darkest corner of the room and the smile disappeared. Rene moved by the chair and slowly turned it to face the corner as well.

“Look at her,” he said softly. “And let her look at you.”

The Upir’s black gaze turned mellow; he never looked at his victims when he fed even though they were mostly criminals who deserved their fate. Octavius could never do such a thing, but he was old enough to know that someone just as old might have a plan. Though what that was, he couldn’t tell. He scanned the girl like an artist – she was truly beautiful. Golden rich curls cascaded down her shoulders and a couple of locks framed her alabaster cheeks; her skin was so white she looked like one of them.

“Who is she?” he whispered, still unseen. “Why is she here?”

“She’s just a girl I found in the lobby,” Rene replied nonchalantly. “And I feel a little offended that you thought I’d stoop so low as to harm a child,” he said, pouring himself a finger of vodka in a glass. He downed it and added: “Would you please come out? She’s mesmerized – she won’t even remember she was here. I’ll make sure to reward her with a happy memory.”

Octavius hesitated for a second, then finally walked into the blue light triangle the cracked drapes drew on the carpet. He was half naked, wearing only a pair of grey silky cloth trousers. Lightning flashed, revealing his nightmarish upper body – a deformed mass of skin and bone, the latter pointing out where his joints met looking alarmingly sharp. He was as tall as her, as she sat, but looked larger somehow, with elongated features and limbs, and his fingertips appeared as their very flesh had been honed to look like talons. The Upir was her exact opposite.

“If you won’t eat, then why have you brought this young one here?” he whispered, enchanted by those giant blue eyes, half hidden under rich lashes and baby blue powdered lids.

The Incubus almost hovered near the two. He crouched and took a knee, taking his friend’s hand in his. That energetic stare became mortal; behind the raging storm of magic shielding it, the most basic of emotions could be sensed and seen. Even the lifeless boy could feel the warmth emanating from inside Rene. He didn’t answer him, just looked at the girl again.

“Do you think she’s beautiful?” he finally said in a hoarse sad voice.

Octavius looked again, barely able to take his eyes off the girl’s rose-colored lips. She had a wonderful frame and a bohemian attire. A white wool scarf was wrapped a couple of times around her neck and a blood-red thick coat covered her upper body down to her hips. She also wore a black and crimson checkered creased skirt, thick nylons and knee-high flat boots. And she looked through him like he wasn’t there.

“Painfully so,” he whispered and his voice didn’t sound undead, didn’t screech like a crypt’s iron door. Octavius frowned and tried to pull his hand away from Rene, but he gripped it, not letting go: “Why are you doing this?”

The Incubus scowled and his vital force flooded visibly, like electric spiders crawling down his arm, into the boy. He tried to pull away, but Rene wouldn’t free him.

“What are you doing?!” Octavius growled and stared at him in shock.

“Be quiet!” the psychic vampire ordered and his gaze blazed like the flashes outside. “Look!”

His hand turned soft, meaty, even pink. It took a tremendous amount of power and energy to turn the dead flesh from its regular state into the now warm appendage Octavius glared at in awe. The vibrations and impulses soon rushed his entire body, turning the desiccated corpse back to life. Well… true life. His entire being shook like he just swam a mile and the feeling seemed so intense as nothing he had ever felt.

The black layer over his eyes had cleared like ink washed away by water, finally showing their true brown color. They were big and childish. And through the deformed dry scalp, dark chocolate tresses grew rapidly to the length they had before he died. Octavius gasped and screamed and swallowed his scream, and thought he would lose his mind right there and then.

“You can see now,” Rene told Katja, his body trembling with effort, but unfaltering, still feeding the boy his enchantments.

“What?” the girl asked in a deep Russian accent, blinking heavily a few times like she had just woken up. “Who are you? Where am I?”

“Don’t move,” the Incubus told her softly, paralyzing her body. She struggled and panic flooded her mind discovering her limbs wouldn’t obey. “Don’t be afraid,” he whispered. “Nothing bad is going to happen to you, I promise.”

“Let her go, Rene!” Octavius protested and struggled to free himself again. “Why are you doing this?”

“Listen,” he explained matter-of-factly, ignoring the boy. “We are very old, very powerful vampires. My friend here has died before he could truly live and today is his birthday.”

Octavius froze. His arm fell limp and he felt dizzy. He looked at the girl, at Rene, at his free hand and blinked dumbly. Katja stared at him for long moments, then turned to the long-haired man who seemed to have drugged her or something.

“I just want to go, sir,” she said pleadingly. “Please, I just want to go. I promise I won’t tell anyone about this! Just let me go!”

“I will,” the Incubus said and tried to smile reassuringly, but she was too afraid to take any comfort in that. “I’m being sincere, girl. I just need you to do one thing for me; I could command you to do it, but it wouldn’t feel right.”

“Oh, God,” she mumbled. “You’re going to ask me to have sex with this boy, aren’t you? This is one of those demented things I’ve heard about!” Katja said and almost started to weep.

“No, no!” the man said and put his hand over hers. “Oh, heavens no! Look,” he added with an amused smile, “I was serious: this boy really did die. We really are vampires, but we don’t want to harm you. It really is” Rene whispered and glanced at his companion “Octavius’ birthday. And I wanted him to experience a kiss. That’s all, I swear!”

The teenage girl took a few deep breaths and looked at the boy who seemed almost catatonic – he just looked at the floor, lost in thought.

“I think you’re insane. Both of you,” she said. “You’ve drugged me and this is part of some sick twisted game. And I won’t play!”

“Fine, I’ll prove it then.”

“Why?!” she yelled at Rene. “Even if you are what you say you are, what makes you think I’ll kiss him? He’s so young… It’s so weird! This is all so weird!”

Rene took his hand off of hers and closed his eyes for a moment. She could move. But she was too scared to do anything. The girl looked at her fingers and flexed them, then stared in surprise at the blond man.

“I could wipe this memory clean for you if you want,” he whispered. “And that’s no figure of speech so don’t fret. Like I said, we never wanted to hurt you. All I wanted was to offer my good friend an experience he never had the chance to live. He’s not like me – his body’s true appearance is… not pretty. He can’t smell, taste, touch…”

Katja listened and looked at Octavius. The green waves of energy emanating from him rose like steam and dissipated. Her eyes followed the source to Rene’s hand where the energy chakras joined and communicated.

“You may go if you want to,” Rene added sadly. She relaxed for the first time and sensed he was actually telling the truth. “I’m sorry I brought you here without your consent. I had no right to manipulate you so.”

“You’re damn right you didn’t have the right!” she scolded him. “How would you feel if you were in my place, huh?”

“I was. That’s why I said I’m sorry.”

Katja blinked surprised – she didn’t expect that. She stood slowly, still insecure and looked down at the Octavius.

“He’s really…?”

Rene nodded and pointed at the boy’s other hand, refocusing his energy away from his limb. The hand turned dry and bony and Octavius hid is behind him in shame.

“Please stop this,” he muttered, too embarrassed to even look Katja in the eyes. “It was a nice gesture and I appreciate it. Now let the girl go so we can get on with our boring-“

He stopped and gasped as she felt the girls hand cupping his face. She lifted his face towards her, making him shut his eyes tight and tense his whole body.

“Look at me,” she whispered, but he wouldn’t listen. Her arms came around him and embraced the naked cold flesh. He could smell her sour-sweet perfume in her silky hair and her warmth made him relax. Slowly, his eyelids rolled up. Katja’s cheek brushed against his as she turned and followed up with her lips. The air refilling his working lungs didn’t want to come out. “Look at me now,” she added in the same low gentle tone.

Their eyes met up close, as she held his forehead against hers. Octavius took deep breaths, scared out of his mind, but forcing himself to look at the girl and feel the intimacy. She smiled a bit and finally pressed her perfect soft lips against his in a long kiss.

When he was finally released, a whole new sensation overwhelmed Octavius. His knees went weak, his chest felt warm and tingly. He was high. Katja caressed his cheeks and pulled back, then looked at Rene, her eyebrows meeting slightly.

“You’re a jerk for forcing me to come here.”

“I know,” Rene whispered back.

“But you’re a good friend,” she added and faced Octavius again. “I wanted to do this,” the girl explained. “It wasn’t pity. It was a present. Maybe you are real, or maybe I’m just dreaming, but everyone deserves a moment of happiness. Happy birthday.”

The Upir looked at her still speechless. He wanted to say something, anything, but the words just wouldn’t come out. The words wouldn’t even be formulated in his ancient mind, ironically. Katja ruffled his hair.

“Bye now,” she said with a delicate smile and turned to leave. She expected them to stop her, but nothing happened. Still, as she opened the hotel room door, Katja heard in her mind: “Thank you.” Her hand froze on the handle for a moment. She nodded and walked out.

“You…” Octavius finally said. “I… This was completely crazy. I don’t understand the way your mind works! …Well?” he asked, as Rene was trembling slightly in silence. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

“Pull the drapes before the sun rises or I burn to a crisp,” the Incubus replied with effort and collapsed on the floor.

The boy sighed deeply while his hand was finally released and turned back to its undead appearance, along with the rest of his body. He withered in seconds, but this didn’t bother him so much; he was more worried that Rene might have just killed himself for a foolish gesture. Sweet, but incredibly stupid. Sometimes he wondered how his companion survived for over two millennia being such a hot head. He pulled the drapes together, sinking the room in complete blackness, and dragged the limp body to bed.

“Thank you,” he whispered while he watched the slumbering man with emotionless coal eyes. “you moron.”

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