So you can read my books

Sunday, October 28, 2012

TO DARE THE NIGHTMARE a request answered

{From the 4th novel in the Victor Standish series: 


This is for those of you who emailed me,

 asking what happened to Victor after he saved Abigail Adams Halloween night}

It was All Saints Day, and my throbbing body hinted I might be close to joining those saints in their pearly clouds.

I might actually fit in with them.  No, think about it.

Recall the adventures of all those old Testament saints: pillars of salt, rivers of blood, skies of fire, angels of death.

I used to think those tales sounded so outlandish ... until New Orleans when my life took a sharp turn into the Old Testament. Maybe these were the Last Days?

Or maybe the World was always more than we suspected ... until the bottom opened up beneath our startled feet.

A black mist with threads of burning silver flowed around me worriedly. I caught the perfume of apricots. I smiled despite the pain. It died a quick death.

Elu husked from the mirror beside my bed, "I need you to come and die, Standish."

Never my best bud, Elu had increasingly become meaner of late. I swung with a grimace of agony to the side of the bed. "Let me get my boots on, Elu."

He grunted, "Do not even think of calling for help."

Bending to tie my hiking boots, I said loud, "Wouldn't dream of it."

Under my breath, I whispered to the agitated mists, "Like at Ada's. Remember?"

Memory must have served correctly for the mist was suddenly gone, and my chest felt full to overflowing.

I staggered up and walked into the misty prison of Elu's mirror world. I shivered. Like him, it had grown colder of late.

The Apache shaman, Elu, studied me like a bad meal he was being forced to eat. "You can barely walk, boy."

"Yeah, well, Trick of Treat was mostly trick."

I waved absently at the billowing clouds of thick mist all around us and smiled wide,

"But it was worse for Empress Theodora and her pet bear, Strasser."

Elu looked like he was smelling something bad. Must have been his curled upper lip. "They were only Whites."

"White 'revenants,' Ton--"

A corded hand covered my mouth and squeezed hard. "Never use that name in front of me!"

I muffled, "Guut ya, Aye-lu."

He let go and waved angrily to his left, making the mists go crystal-clear. I looked and my heart sank.

"Oh, crap."

Elu's window out of his prison, the Mirror World, showed a rocky slope of a jagged desert mountain and

... a very roughed-up Abigail Adams ... surrounded by ... I counted, getting more depressed as I went ... seven Apaches.

The cloud slipped like a dropped veil from the face of the moon. Its pale light struck fire from the long, sharp canine teeth of the Apache revenants ... think vampires on crack but without the morals.

The elegantly dressed leader of all the white American revenants was tied to a stake of all things.

I sighed, "First, Theodora. Now, this. Jeez, Elu, is she trying to commit suicide?"

His dried-apricot face went sad. "Yes, I believe she is."

I went stiff. "Well, we're not letting that happen. She's gotta give Alice away when we get married."

The fullness inside me bristled, and Elu arched an eyebrow. "Have you even asked the ghoul yet?"

"Hey," I said, gesturing to my chest. "This is me we're talking about. Who could say no?"

The fullness bristled more, and I sighed, "Besides, Elu, you and I both know I'm never going to make it out of my teens."

Elu depressingly nodded. "Yes. But you need to die soon so that Dyami may live."

My heart joined the Titanic. "Captain Sam?"


I made a mental note to myself : In front of Elu lose the "Captain Sam" and keep the scalp.

"Why soon?"

"Your weakness distracts Dyami and makes his enemies think he is weak as well."

"So you want me to go rescue Abby so that I can die?"


I smiled wide. "Well, why didn't you say so? Of course, I'll go."

As he eyed me warily, I dropped the smile from my face. "And then, I'll be back to whip your ass ... Tonto."

His fingers actually bristled in flames. Jeez. What was he?

Invisible hands seized me and hurled me through the crytalized fog. I hit stony ground with a stumbling, awkward attempt to keep from falling on my face in front of seven Apache revenants.

I thrust out my arms in a flourish. "Tada! Abby, you're rescued."

Abigail's mouth dropped, "Standish, are you insane?"

"People keep asking me that."

I eyed the Apache leader, who waved his men back, and smiled at him. "Go figure."

My heart became as cold as his eyes. Jeez. I recognized him from the history books. Geronimo. Great. It kept getting better and better.

Like slates of rock scraping against one another, Geronimo asked, "Why are you here?"

I nodded, remembering what Captain Sam wrote in his journals of Apaches. They respected only strength, sneered at weakness. "Show no fear" had been his words of advice.

Yeah, right.  I knew I wasn't shivering.  My skin was too busy clutching my skeleton in terror to quiver.

The Apaches blurred, then re-formed feet from where they had originally stood. I was no match for them in speed. I saw the moonlight gleam wet from their bloody fangs. I was no match for their strength.

I smiled crooked. I'd just have to cheat.

I went stiff. A woman was staked on the ground. She was all but dead.

Geronimo smiled cruel at me. Bad mistake. I was Death's son. To kill someone near me was to bring Mother to my side.

I whispered low, "Mother, end her pain."

There was a movement by the poor tortured woman. I saw a flicker of Mother, tall, skeletal in tattered black robes. The moaning stopped. Mother was gone. I smiled so sad it tasted of salt. Mother was gone but so was the woman's pain.

Mother was Allwheres, AllTimes, all at once. I tapped into the power of her echo, though blood seeped from both nostrils. I appeared right in front of the coward.

I muttered to myself, 'All right, Victor, time to earn that reputation of yours.' I gave him a wolf's smile.

"Well, Elu thinks he sent me here to die."

Geonimo's eyes narrowed. "Why would he do that?"

He blurred to rip out my throat as I knew he would. I sent myself right next to Abigail. She jerked in surprise. I winked up at her.

I edged closer to Abigail and flashed a gypsy smile. "He's jealous of me."

Standing right by her stake, I gestured grandly to myself. "Can you blame him?"

Geronimo looked like he was about to speak my death sentence, and I hastily said, "Of course, he wants you dead, too."

He barked a harsh laugh. "He sends a boy to kill me. I am so afraid."

I pulled myself up as tall as I got, the fullness growing heavy inside me.

"I killed an Old One when I was twelve. I outran the Soyoko and rubbed their noses in their clumsiness this August. And Empress Theodora and Major Strasser are a little worse for wear from this Halloween."

Geonimo gave an Oscar-winning look of contempt to Abigail.

"Why do you need me and my men for your war against Empress Theodora when you have this great warrior?"

Abigail glared down at me as if I had just sunk her great scheme. Yeah, like she wasn't already tied to a stake to greet the dawn when I got here.

Stroking Abigail's arm and stopping at her wrists, I turned to Geronimo.

"Well, she doesn't want this widely known, but ever since I got a grip on her corset at Halloween, she's been sweet on me -- doesn't want me to be in harm's way and all."

(Of course that hand had been there to keep her from falling flat on her face in front of Theodora but Chief Long-In-The-Tooth didn't have to know that.)

Abigail husked, "Standish, if my hands weren't tied ...."

"Ah, no kisses in front of these guys, all right. I get embarassed easy."

The cruel smile dropped from Geronimo's thin lips. "You have been amusing. Now, you die."

I held up the cords that once held Abigail helpless (hey, Harry Houdini was my teacher.)

"You really want to dance this dance, Chief?"

He snorted, "You two can barely stand."

My own smile dropped. "You've forgotten the first rule of hunting: never get inside the cage with the wolf."

His body blurred. He stood right in front of me, his fangs becoming longer. "You are outnumbered."

Fear made a jackhammer of my heart. But I looked at the tortured corpse of the woman. He was a coward. And even if it killed me, I'd spit in his fangs.

I shook my head. "No. You are."

The heaviness flowed as mist from my chest to reform into Alice in her short gothic Lolita outfit. She smiled with her own sharp teeth.

When someone like Elu invites me to his deadly Mirror World, I just naturally think of having an ace up my sleeve or the ghostly ghoul, Alice, inside my chest.

"Oh, Victor, you sweetheart. You know how much I like Native food."

Geronimo was only a foot away. There was no way he was getting out of this alive, or as alive as the undead got, if things got ugly.

He husked, "A ...."

"Hey, that's my ghoul friend you're about to call names, Chief. Now, we can either be friends, or you can be spare ribs. Your choice."

And that is how Abigail got her Apache warriors, and Geronimo became my ... well, his place in line to take my scalp is right behind Elu's. Like I should worry. It's a long damn line.


  1. An interesting adventure of Victor's. It sure is handy to have associates like he has (Alice and his mother) I like strong women characters.

    Alice's sense of humor is charming!

  2. Thanks for visiting, D.G.:
    Yes, I love best the novels and movies where the women are strong and full of wit and fire.