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Sunday 10 April 2011

Sample Sunday - Basement Blues Part 2

As it's Sample Sunday, and the response from the first Basement Blues excerpt was so positive, here's another snippet from the same story. Hope you enjoy.
So I was starting to moon-dream, and Astrid was trying not to get twitchy over how long Ruth had been in the house. 
 A rumbling, coughing noise erupted from below the porch and a rolling ball of ectoplasm was forcibly ejected into the garden. On the bright side, she missed the rose bush I'd baptised earlier. As a negative, she brought with her quite a few dust bunnies, a number of centipedes, and a couple of large, extremely traumatised spiders.

"No."  Astrid placed one hand firmly on the back of my neck.
"Billy!" Astrid bent over and hissed into my ear. "We are in a human neighbourhood. If I ever have to explain to another one why you are chasing the wildlife in human form, I swear I will put catnip in your underwear for the next fifty years!"
She hopped off the car as the front door burst open and Susan came running out, looking horrified and wailing. "Stay here. Calm zombie-girl down before we end up drawing attention."
"Astrid." When she turned back I asked, "Have you ever heard a noise like that?"
She nodded. "About once a month. You get hair balls, Billy. It's gross."

She went off to comfort Ruth, who was flickering - something she only did when either extremely frightened or angry. Catching a glimpse of her face, I was betting on the pissed off option.
I did what any sane man does when confronted with an angry red-head, and headed off  to calm the zombie.

"I don't know what happened," Susan said again.  "She wanted to see the house, so I showed her. Then we went down to the basement and everything went nuts."
"Nuts in what way?"
"The lights started flickering on and off. Then the washer lunged across the floor at us. I was running for the stairs when the main light exploded, and there was this big dark shadow and then something yanked Ruth through the wall."  She sniffed. "I thought - I guess I thought she was dead."
"Susan," I said. "She's a ghost. Trust me on this, she's already dead."
She sighed. "I know. But she looks like a living  person most of the time, and - and she was nice to me, okay? That doesn't happen very often nowadays."
"Okay. Why did you run? What scared you so much down there?"
"I told you," she said. "The washing machine tried to get us."
I must have looked as confused as I felt.
"Billy," she said. "I can't heal. If that machine had hit me and broken my leg, I'd be crippled as well as undead. "
"Has-" my throat was suddenly dry. "Has this thing attacked you before?"
She nodded. "I stopped going down there after the last time, and it wasn't as fast or as scary then  as this time. I thought maybe nothing would happen with Ruth being there." She shrugged. "I guess it doesn't mind an audience."
I rubbed a hand over my mouth and stared at my client. "Susan, you aren't being haunted. This thing is trying to kill you." Permanently. Or even worse, trap her in the basement with it.

Birthday Round-up

Today is going to be kept short, because it's my birthday and I want to go and play in the sunshine.

The past week could also be summarised quite easily as follows:
Work. Work. Study. Work. Have hysterics at pc. Study. Write. Work. Last day at work. Study. Have hysterics at pc. Write. Night out with LSH. Whimper. Whimper. Post blog.

(Said whimpering caused by first consumption of alcohol in 6 months.I pretty much knew it would happen halfway through the first glass of wine. And yes, I drank a lot of water with it. Didn't matter; my body and alcohol are not friends).

Anyway, I thought rather than summarising a relatively boring, though short week, I'd run through my list of Good Things in My Life.

1) Family. I'm so lucky to have my folks, my brother, and a huge assortment of cousins, aunts & uncles, not to mention the rug rats multiplying each year.
2) Writing. I love to write. There is something about falling into your own world that is more addictive than coffee, and without any nasty side effects. When I write I don't worry about money, or my weight, or passing my university course. I just am, it's just me and the story, and I don't think there is a drug on the planet that could replicate that feeling. I've also discovered the world of indie writers, bloggers and readers in a very positive way. And twitter, which has a fairly high percentage of crazy scrolling past my nose each day, and never fails to amuse.
3) Reading. The greatest gift my parents gave me was teaching me to read at a very early age, although my gran was less than amused some time later when she realised her 7 year old grandchild was reading Cujo.
4) Health. The flu has almost totally gone, and the weather is fine and sunny so the plates in my leg are behaving. I feel good.
5) Holiday. I travel to Australia tomorrow, which is a place I've always wanted to go. I get to see my brother and some totally awesome wildlife. I can't wait!

So, it's a beautiful day and life is good. I probably won't be on the blog while I'm torturing the Aussies, but promise a run-down when I get back. Until I do - I wish everyone who reads this joy. Live your life guys, and enjoy every second of it.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Sample Sunday - Basement Blues

Here's a snippet from "Basement Blues", just for Sample Sunday (and a huge thanks to Mary Beeson from mystic thoughts  who put the idea into my head to start with).

The woman sitting in my office chair was stunning. White blonde hair carefully slicked into a chignon, dolce and gabanna bag, smartly tailored blue pants suit. She was also dead, which I was having a bit of an issue with.

Not that I'm prejudiced - my own partners are what you might call life challenged, and I have a little condition of my own - but the smell was getting to me. She'd sprayed some very expensive perfume over herself, and the average human wouldn't have noticed it through the  scent. I am not average. I'm also not human, and the scent of decomp was growing stronger by the minute.

Eventually I lunged for the window, pushing the sill up and leaning out for great gulps of fresh night air. It was either that or throw up on our latest client, and I was fairly sure that suit was designer. I couldn't afford the bill.

 "I'm sorry," Susan Armstrong said from behind me. Her vocal cords were starting to rot, giving her a husky, slightly grating voice.
"It isn't your fault," I said, still leaning as far out of the window as I could. I didn't have to turn around to know that she was crying. I could smell it.

Sunset had been nearly twenty minutes ago. Astrid was late and Ruth was in the field. I needed at least one of them here. I never know what to do with a crying woman. How to handle a crying zombie was so far out of my league I might as well be on Pluto.

A noise outside the main door caught my attention, and I started to relax. At least one of the girls was in.

A moment later, Astrid stuck her head around the door jamb and took in the scene.
"I think we need to go upstairs," she announced, and disappeared again. Vampires have a strong sense of smell - not on the same level as mine, but still acute. She would have smelled the corpse - now wobbling to her feet on 4 inch heels - from the lobby.

Our building has a roof terrace. It was late enough that nobody else was using it - no office drone in their right mind hangs out after sunset in this part of town - and although small it is open to the night air, which was a major requirement right now.

We sat Susan down at the little plastic garden table with the cracked white chair.  Astrid produced a pack of cigarettes, and I almost pounced on her to get one. I hate the smell of tobacco smoke, but even in the fresh air Susan was pretty ripe.

"Hope you don't mind," Astrid said as she lit up. Her tone left little doubt that it wouldn't matter much either way. Never get between a vampire and her nicotine fix. Actually, never get between a vampire and anything they really want.

"Hell, go for it," Susan shrugged. "It's not like it'll kill any of us." She smiled bitterly.

"How did you hear about us?" I asked. Our agency wasn't known for advertising. The paranormal community is pretty small and very firmly in the closet.
Our walk-ins were usually humans who had no idea what we were.

"Your on-line ad." Susan rummaged in her bag while Astrid and I looked at each blankly. 
"We have an ad?" I whispered.
"We're on-line?" Astrid whispered back.
"Here." Susan held out the print-out of a web-page.

""Human or superhuman - or just plain inhuman - we can solve your problem. Blue Moon Detective Agency." Seriously?" Astrid rolled her eyes and passed the sheet back to Susan. "Bloody awful tagline."

"You do understand we can't cure you?" I said. That solve your problem thing was worrying me. I could imagine a number of ways potential clients could take that.
"I imagine a good splash of butane and a match would cure me just fine," Susan said dryly. "At least according to Hollywood."
Astrid shrugged. "That works on most things. The movies can't get everything wrong."
We both sniggered.

"So - you want us to find your killer?" I asked.
"I know who killed me," Susan said.
"Do you need help bringing him or her to the police?" I was groping at straws here, and knew it. Astrid sighed.
"Now that would be impressive." Susan raised an eyebrow. "Hello, zombie? I ate the bastard."
"Much as I'm enjoying watching Billy stuff both feet in his mouth," Astrid said, nudging me to close my mouth, "why do you need to hire us?"
"I think my basement is haunted. I need you to find out why, and what I need to do to stop it."

Okay. I didn't see that one coming.

Weekly Roundup

Due to my PC throwing all of its toys out the cot, plus one hell of a dose of the flu I missed the last weekly round-up. This coming weekend is going to be crazy study wise, since I now have a full week & a bit to catch up on. So ..

Not for the last two weeks. Was supposed to be in Bristol this Tuesday, but banned from anything work related due to the flu. Been working (or trying to - hard to concentrate on anything except shivering and feeling pathetic) from home and haven't actually left my flat since last Friday.

Technical Malfunctions
My PC is trying to break my heart, and possibly what's left of my sanity. Couldn't write. Couldn't study. Did remember how to swear in Portuguese and Zulu. LSH kindly talked me out of dropping it from the 2nd floor window. It appears I either need a new graphics card (Scream!) or a new screen. (HOWL!) Since right now I can't afford either - visiting Australia in a couple of weeks and scraping every penny together, it looks like I will continue whining about The Infernal Machine for a while.

Study and writing
*Sigh*. See above.. I haven't been able to read for pleasure, never mind study this week.  A couple of well-meaning friends suggested I catch up on writing. Sadly, there is no way I can write anything coherent while feeling like hammered horse-shit, so nothing on that side either. 

In the week before I got ambushed by the snot troll, I found a few real gems:

Flies for the Mayans by Ian Fraser. Disturbing, gorgeous writing.  Don't touch the book with a bargepole if you are sensitive about religion, drugs or sex. On the other hand, if you want to read one of the best stories ever written, I'd recommend snapping this novella up. He also has a  free story up at - once again dealing with some incredibly dark, usually taboo topics and beautifully written.

Ungrateful Dead by Naomi Clarke. Ethan Banning may just be one of my favourite characters ever. I would have liked a longer story, since I just didn't want this to end either. For 0.71p, it's a good fun read.

No Fear by Allie Harrison - currently free on Amazon and a fun read. Sympathetic characters and a cool little vampire story.

Indie Book Blogger has just posted his best books of March list - cool list. I already have these downloaded to my kindle, saving them for the flight to Australia in a week. Congrats to all the authors on there, I can't wait to read your stuff! Indie is also doing the A-Z blogfest, which sounds like a massive undertaking. 

For the first time in a week I no longer feel like my head is going to explode, and am no longer barking like a small Alsation every time I try to talk. Unfortunately, it appears LSH now has the bug, and is giving me the evil eye every time she shuffles sadly downstairs for more med-lemon. I'm just grateful I'll be allowed back to work next week. Although you know I'm sick when I don't even have cabin fever from being in pretty much one room for a solid week.

Now all I need to do is panic over catching up on university stuff..

Mood: Not quite dead yet.