So you can read my books

Friday, May 23, 2014


An excerpt from DEATH IN THE HOUSE OF LIFE --
Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace, has just warned Sam McCord that he cannot appear on the streets of Cairo in broad daylight
after having broken Oscar Wilde out of prison without dire consequences ...

I turned and followed Ada's gaze.  I shook my Stetsoned head.  A whole squad of British infantry were stepping lively towards us.  I frowned. 
They were herding a small group of children in front of them.  I stiffened.  I recognized the young 2nd lieutenant.  Winston Churchill. 
I had used my influence with Queen Victoria to get him assigned to the 21st Lancers when Kitchener had refused even the Prime Minister’s request on his behalf.  I sighed.  What was Sammy always saying?  No good deed went unpunished.
“What are they doing with the children, Samuel?”
I went cold inside as I realized why.  “Every man has his weakness, Ada.  I reckon they’re for leverage.  I surrender, or they die.”
Ada’s pendant glowed.  “This is intolerable!  I will not allow the slaughter of children."
"Nor will I -- which is what they are counting on."
Churchill looked a plea at me.  “Captain McCord, you understand about orders.  I do not like my orders but I must follow them.”
I said low, “Would you really kill those children if I do not surrender?”
He sucked in a ragged breath.  “And if you do not surrender your weapons and wear these hobbles and cuffs.”
I bent, picked up the heavy cuffs, and snapped them on my wrists.  I rose slow and stiff.  Damn, that right knee would never heal right I guess. 
Ada took the moment’s distraction to hurry the children off into the milling crowds.  She spoke hurriedly to the Egyptian men and women. 

She knew a half dozen of the local dialects.  The crowd turned angry eyes to the soldiers.
An old man in a green turban edged from out of the crowd.  The color designated him as a descendant of the Prophet.  He called out to me.
“McCord Pasha, you are hated by many here, but this tale will be told and re-told: how you surrendered to dogs to save our children.”
I nodded.  “In my way, I am a man of the Book.”
“Go with Allah, McCord Pasha.”
I figured that for my sins Allah or the Great Mystery was pretty much done with me, but it was a good thought.  Churchill gently nudged me towards where the Consul General wanted to sneer at me before my execution. 
 I shook my Stetsoned head.  No smart man ever taunted a caged wolf.  But Lord Cromer had never been accused of brilliance.
It came to me then that I could do something worthwhile with the energy I had leeched from that Ningyo torturer of small girls.  I smiled sadly.  Something decent and good would come from all their anguish and pain. 
I smiled crooked.  “I’m about to create a new legend, Churchill.  See that blind beggar to our right?”
He nodded, and I whispered, “Watch his cataracts closely.”
Being married to the Empress of the Ningyo race had changed me.  Before Meilori and I married, the blood of the Angel of Death had mingled with mine. 

And before that, Elu, the greatest of the Apache Diyi, had taught me and mingled his own blood with mine in the blood brother ceremony. 
His mother was the essence of the world herself.  To say I was different from Man after all that would be an understatement.
I whispered to myself, “Everybody is a book of blood.  Wherever we're opened, we're red.”
Ningyo’s were masters of all things fluid or moist.  As mate to their Empress, I could influence fluids and moist material … like cataracts. 
A cataract was a clouding of the lens inside the eye which led to a decrease in vision. It was the most common cause of blindness.

Visual loss occurred because opacification of the lens obstructed light from passing and being focused on to the retina at the back of the eye.
It was most commonly due to growing older but there are a wide variety of other causes. Over time, yellow-brown pigment was deposited within the lens and this, together with disruption of the normal architecture of the lens fibers, led to reduced transmission of light, which in turn led to blindness.
“What I am about to do will hurt, Lieutenant.”
“The beggar?”
“No, me.  So if I stumble, don’t shoot me. That will set off this mob for sure.”
I still had the energy I had leeched from that Ningyo assassin within me so it might not hurt all that much.  Yeah, right.  I could hope.
As we approached the beggar, I slowed and drew upon my changed nature and added soul-energy.  I paused by the old man sitting by a stall selling flutes.  I called up the power, the Orenda, as Elu called it. 
I smiled drily.  The pain was terrible.  So much for hope. 
I weaved my fingers in the patterns I saw Meilori using.  And slowly, oh, so slowly, the cataracts broke up, thinned, and then disappeared. 
The beggar stiffened, and with clear eyes once more, he looked open-mouthed at me.  Somewhere in the past our paths had crossed, for he took one look at me and gasped, reaching for his healed eyes.
“McCord Pasha!  You have healed me.  Allah be praised!  He has used an infidel to heal me!”
“You’re welcome,” I drawled drily.
As the surprised crowd milled around him exclaiming and shouting, Churchill quickly hurried me past the surging people. The soldiers looked at me strangely, holding their rifles tighter than ever.  They were a bit green about the gills. 
Their eyes were round, terrified.  What they had witnessed was impossible, done by a prisoner they thought helpless.  Now, it was coming to them what else was I capable of.
Churchill rasped, “I – I have no words.  I have never seen such a thing.”
“You haven’t seen anything yet.”
As Churchill marched me through the milling crowds down the dusty streets, I straightened out arthritic-swollen fingers and knees.  I added life to the pallid blood of little children. 
I smoothed out pain-creased faces by touching the swollen organs inside feverish bodies.  I lent of my strength to hungry old women and saw surcease of their starving cramps. 
Chants of “McCord Pasha!  McCord Pasha!” followed us.  I pretty much had drained myself dry of the leeched energy.
By the time Churchill led me weaving and stumbling to the consulate, we had drawn a crowd ten times bigger than before.  The soldiers looked at me with fear, bordering on panic.  Churchill wasn’t exactly happy either.  He muttered to me.
“What are you, McCord?  Now, the mob wants our blood for holding you prisoner and away from them for more healing.”
I shook my head.  “I’m a dry well, there, lieutenant.  Better get me inside before I collapse, and they think you knocked me down.”
He shoved me hurriedly inside.  I leaned up against the wall, sliding down it onto my butt.  I drew in a ragged breath.
“Let me rest awhile, Churchill.”
He shook his head sadly, “Sorry, Captain, but they are making such a horrendous commotion that Lord Cromer will know you are here.  I have to bring you in now.”
I nodded.  “This should be fun.”


  1. Glad to see you got not one but two entries in the WEP this month! Both are complex scenes in the novels, too.

    Hope you get some rest this weekend, Roland.

  2. Sleep... you should win every thing you enter, but then that wouldn't be fair... too many ribbons, awards or cash prizes can be harmful... just ask the beggar. Have a great weekend, make the best of all your success and successful ventures or adventures.

  3. Excellent entry.
    Sam always finds a way!

  4. D.G.:
    Being worked hard this weekend, hence the late replies. :-(

    I seem to lose everything I enter. But at least I am consistent!! :-)

    Sam is a Texican Ulysses. :-)