It's already been a 12 hour straight, 320 mile day -- and I'm still on-call. So while I have a breather, I thought I would post my Bad Boy Blogfest entry. I'm on first call all weekend plus filtering, most of it solo duty. Whew!
Tina Lynn is hosting the Bad Boy Blogfest http://tinalynnsandoval.blogspot.com/2010/05/bad-boy-blogfest.html
Go check it out.
My entry is from RITES OF PASSAGE set in the Gulf of Mexico in 1853. The manner of speech back then was more courtly and this is reflected as best I could without hindering the enjoyment of the story. A note : Rasha is ancient Hebrew for "one who delights in cruel wickedness."
As the entry begins, the undead Daniel Webster and Samuel McCord are standing in front of the Grand Saloon of the Demeter. Inside a most unfriendly ball is being held. Samuel's friends inside will die unless he enters what promises to be a certain death trap ...
Daniel Webster stood brooding beside me. He wore gloom like some kings wore purple. He arched an eyebrow at me.
"Do you have a plan for this evening?"
"And that would be?"
"I plan to make this Gray Man or DayStar as he's calling himself now as angry at me as I can."
Webster's face became tight.
"A threadbare plan, sir."
"Yeah, I'm all fired up about it, too."
At my words the golden doors swung silently inward. I sucked in a breath. The insides of the Grand Saloon had changed even more than its doors. Mists, cold and black, trailed up in weaving snakes from the blanketed floor.
Dancers swept one another along the huge chamber to the tune of some ancient melody that sounded somehow like it belonged in the palace of the damned.
And judging from the flat eyes behind the masks of the dancers, that was just where Webster and I were. True to his word, he slipped away from me, as if wanting to be clear of any fire drawn my way. Even though it was according to my plan, I still felt naked against the night.
I stepped light-footed into the chamber. As I walked, the dancers slowed, eyeing me hungrily. The golden doors closed shut behind me with a loud thud. The music stopped.
The dancers lined up on either side of the enormous chamber. The decor of the room had changed, too.
It looked ancient Egyptian with jackel-headed black stone guardians holding golden spears along the way. The mirrors to the walls were still there, but they were trimmed with cat-headed women.
A rich voice, like the tolling of bronze bells far off in the distance, laughed from the shadowed end of the chamber, "Dear followers, you have come to me, pleading to learn the pleasure of life and the ecstasy of passion. And perhaps I will teach you those."
Hollow laughter rose then faded. "But first, I choose to teach you this night something even more wonderful : the meaning of pain and sorrow and their beauty."
I kept on walking, feeling the lack of my Colts and knife even more than before. The mists thinned, and I spotted the bait to my trap. Meilori, Inari, Peter, Aziza, Cora, Greeley, Sir Lionel, and Count de Morny.
They were all seated in thrones of black iron, their wrists clamped down tight, their necks collared with razor-sharp nooses of diamond string. Bright tears of light gleamed from the tiny mirrors of Inari’s necklace. Blood trinkled down from the ivory throat of Meilori as she called out.
"Stop, Samuel! We are already dead. Flee while you still can."
"You should have spared your lovely throat, Lady Meilori," laughed the ghost-bell voice. "There is no escape for anyone tonight ... least of all McCord."
I didn't understand what the voice meant, so I just let it hang in the mists like the hot air it sounded.
"Well, DayStar, I can tell you like hearing yourself talk. Probably one of your greatest pleasures. I should've brought the plant from my cabin. All the manure you been tossing around would have been good for it.”
I stopped talking as a figure slowly appeared from the boiling clouds of black mist.
Tall, slender but muscular, he walked with the grace of a stalking lion. Dark gray curls frothed on his head, down upon his wide pale forehead. High cheekbones. Sensitive, soulful eyes. A young woman's dream - until she looked deeper into those glittering predator eyes, and her dream became a nightmare.
As DayStar, also called The Gray Man, smiled knowingly at me, I sighed. He looked so damn young.
When had all the people around me become so young? It seemed only last year that all the criminals I had hunted had been weathered and hardfaced. Now, all of them were children. Cruel, selfish, heartless children with rabid smiles and vulture eyes.
I looked about at the shifting, eager-eyed masked predators watching me as if waiting impatiently for a steak to cook.
These undead children made me want to take a bath all over again. Brittle sophistication, surface polish, and no insides at all. Just an unreasoning, never-satified hunger.
I studied DayStar. I had expected someone older. And as I looked, it seemed a veil was lifted, and I saw his youth was just a mask.
His eyes seemed to deepen, and they began to reflect an ancient weariness and deadliness, older than death and darkness, and echoing the longing for an ending to it all. I suddenly felt a kinship with him.
And that scared me even more than his children of endless hunger.
He laughed in hollow ripples, "Behold the Man. Man, bah! An endangered species from the very beginning. Not particularly fleet of foot - unless chasing another man's wife. No large teeth. No claws but his tongue. A wonder that he has survived this long."
I shook my head. "If you're expecting an argument from me, you've got a long wait."
He smiled at Meilori, who looked like she was going to be sick. "Listen to him prattle. Ordinarily, I would have little patience with his drivel. But tonight .... tonight, I sense the coming of the storm."
He gazed off into horizons only he could see. "I keep trying to persuade myself that it is unimportant that this Age is soon to come to an end. But when I think of the sheer pleasure of it all ...."
He shivered slightly. "Whole races exterminated by greed for gold, by gas oven ...."
His pale blue eyes sparkled. "It simply leaves one breathless."
He turned back to me. "Ah, man. What a hapless creature. In the strange twilight of the mind, man searches for himself, and when he has found his own image, he cannot understand it."
I nodded to my imprisoned friends. "I understand this : you give a lousy party."
He broke into real laughter. "I like you, McCord. What you lack in perspective and insight, you make up in sheer stupidity."
"Careful, you'll make me blush."
"There is no insulting you, is there?"
"You obviously have too much free time on your hands."
His eyes became deeper. "You have no idea."
"I have a few. Let my friends go."
He turned merrily to an even paler Meilori. "See, my little Rasha, behind the perfection of a man's style, must lie the passion of a man's soul."
He turned back to me. "The end of a man's life is not action but contemplation. See, McCord? I give you the clue of this night, if you but have the wit to grasp it."
"My mind has slippery fingers."
He laughed as if his eyes would tear up. "Ah, you speak so true in jest."
His face grew even happier. "I trust you will not hold the rest of this evening against me, McCord. I but murder to dissect the truth."
"The truth of what?"
"Why, the truth of you, of course."
His gray eyes grew cold. "Where there is pain and sorrow, there is holy ground. In but moments, this marble will be holy indeed."
"Let my friends go."
"Why, of course. But first, surrender your weapons."
Meilori cried, "Samuel, do not!"
I pulled back my jacket. "I didn't bring any."
For the first time, surprise etched across his face. "McCord, can it be that there is actually a brain under those white locks of yours?"
Meilori, her eyes desperate, spoke loud, "Samuel, there is nothing wrong in what you will do tonight, but there may be wrong in what you become."
The Gray Man twisted just a bit to her. "Little Rasha, I would hate to terminate your existence. Do not task me."
I cleared my throat to draw his attention my way as I spotted Webster undoing the diamond noose about Lady Inari's throat. "You said first, just now. What's the second thing I have to do to get my friends clear of your little party?"
His eyes went straight to Lady Inari's bare, free neck, then back to me. "Nothing horrendous. Nothing bizarre. Something merely entertaining ... for me."
"I don't do party favors."
"You will if you want your precious friends to go free."
DayStar laughed, thoroughly enjoying himself. "I am beginning to get bored, McCord - which is dangerous for those around me. Bah, this stale chamber makes me yearn for fragrances fresh as the flayed flesh of children. Do not keep me waiting."
DayStar's pale gray eyes became openly insane. "I am growing increasingly bored. You have not given me your answer."
"Well, you haven't told me what hoop you want me to jump through either."
He brought up a hand to his lips like a child caught napping. "Indeed, I have not, have I?"
His eyes seemed to sink deeper in his mask of a face. "In honor of your Native American enemies, I propose a gauntlet."
Meilori sucked in a breath, and he went merrily on. "All you have to do is make it all the way down this sprawling dance floor in one piece ... more or less, and your friends will be released."
"If you aren't lying."
His smile got wider. "If I am not lying, that is correct."
He studied me. "I do not see where you have a choice."
"There's always a choice, DayStar.”
“The delusion of all mortals.”
He expected me to stall for time. I could see it in his face. Instead I snapped, “ Let's dance!"
And then, I ....
You'll have to read my novel to find out what happens next. Besides, this is a "Bad Boy" blogfest not a "hero" one. Hopefully, you were entertained a bit. If not, blame my light head and weary body. Have a great weekend.
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