With Created Evil, I’m going to share the beginning of the novel, then just a couple of scenes from the interior.
In Harbored, Secret Places They Do Dwell
It is said that when the moon shines full at Mabon, it is a time for conjuring both demons and the Holy angels. Though the world, exalting in its science and technology, believes that it has moved beyond the grasp of that upon which superstition feeds, its vision of reality long cleansed of pagan ritual based on forfeit understanding, the truth of coven and of cult does still exist. The creeping, seeping things, the glory light and haloed wingéd ones, do still in harbored, secret places dwell.
The Gobi Desert, Southern Mongolia
Untouched, protected from the elements, stone can wait forever. Once disturbed, a change begins to happen. It is inevitable.
One small rivulet of water, remnant of a violent storm, seeped like something searching aimlessly for meaning. Worn grooves gave it pathway. Down a gentle slope it tumbled, its travel hazarded with pebbles, dust, and bits of organic desiccation. Beneath a hard dry root, it found a crack and plunged down ancient walls of a long-forgotten grotto, hugging age-old ciphers hewn there by the long-departed of a bygone age.
Each relic symbol guiding it, the water gained volume, speed, and purpose. Swiftly, now, it moved through channels lined with silver, copper, even gold, winding through wrought tunnels that led to deeper natural chambers and, finally, into fire-molded caverns of welded rock that were far more ancient than even Earth itself.
Finding bottom in a beveled reservoir, the water swirled and finally stopped. So long lacking moisture, though, the architecture of the reservoir was slow to heed the water’s presence. In time, however, balance shifted and mechanisms did finally heed design. A pinpoint aperture began to let the water climb.
Drop by slowly seeping drop, pressure drove the water upward in a column. Reaching apex, there it caused, by chemical reaction coupled with concussion, the ignition of a tiny flame. That flame, in turn, gave fire to sconces set at intervals along unending lines of radiating columns. By pairs, those torches flared to life, illuminating that which had known no light in centuries—an immense hall with raised, inlaid, golden dais upon which stood two pillars of finest onyx, one black, one white.
Between those pillars, one stone beast stood guard. Whether trick of light, or by devised infernal mechanism, in that moment, something kindled deep within that statue’s eyes—a spark, a gleaming burst of ruby red.
* * *
While this scene, taken out of the timeline, won’t make a lot of sense as an excerpt, it is one of a handful of my favorite scenes in the book. Easing in and out from omniscient and the POV of a mouse, it has my unique stamp of verbal paucity and cadenced prose. So humor me this, even if it doesn’t seem to make much sense here. It does within the story. 🙂
A Time for Conjuring
The Warlow Estate, Western Oregon
In Tess’s study, a nose peeked out of a small hole. Whiskers twitched, then that nose emerged, followed by furred, plump body that ended with a nearly hairless tail. The creature, a small mouse, emerged to scurry down the tricky, slippery edge of one of the book shelves. Coming level with the couch back, it paused, sniffed the air tides, then bunched itself and leapt.
Landing with the smallest thump upon the top of a back couch cushion, it stilled, its eyes wary, its every nerve alert. But nothing stirred, neither cat that was its lifelong enemy, nor slumbering dog, and especially not the human whose smell it knew from waking inside hands that had once stayed its death.
It was the tea it craved, the smell of rare herb a siren call. Down the cushion to the arm, then, quick slip to seat and drop to floor, the dangerous crossing.
Scurrying, it found a likely ladder in a pile of books. On top, it carefully tread the stack of notebooks. But the added weight and change of balance was too much. The notebooks shifted, and the mouse, wish granted, wound up dumped into the cup of liquid herb it craved.
Tess and cat woke simultaneously. Mouse leapt, cup tipping on its saucer as Tess’s hands reached, her lean providing bridge for furry scramble.
Cup fell, splashing contents on precious book and reaching hand, while mouse took human ladder to the couch top. Human screamed, and, with a mighty fling and panic’s luck, soggy, desperate mouse reached the dark, deep narrows that shelf and book tops meant just as airborne cat reached where it had been. It dropped behind and down, between wall and book edges, then waited as hanging cat reached arm with claw to find it.
Books came free, tumbling from the shelves to open gaps in mouse’s fortress. Human screamed again as white death approached, and, for a second time in its existence, mouse was saved from savage end by human intervention.
And the book sang, its symbols glowing.
* * *
Another scene I really love.
IN PART II
Western Oregon Near the Coast
Before he saw the water, Sebastian smelled the salt. Parking, he let the dogs out. They wiggled and grinned, then bounded off. Finding the shortest path, he worked his way down the cliff wall, the dogs running along the top as they tried to figure out their own way down.
On this side of the continent, the ocean was blue, not grey. It felt younger, cleaner, as if more energized and alive.
The tide was out, and Sebastian played with the idea of wading out to touch the monolithic rocks that stood like sentinels just offshore. Two of the dogs went racing past him, chasing gulls. Jesse trotted up to stand by, panting happily as she watched her youngsters wheel and splash, then stop to blow and sneeze, clearing the delightful scents gathered in their nostrils in order to scoop up new ones.
The sun was setting, painting the sky with oranges, pinks and purples, the Wheel brilliant as far as he could see. Somehow, the sight of all of it brought joy instead of worry. Time was moving, but, for just this moment, Sebastian didn’t feel an urgency. He felt peace.
Jesse bounded off, racing down the beach, and, on a whim, Sebastian followed, almost catching her. Then, she shifted stride, lengthening herself, and, with laughter in her eyes, left him far behind, disappearing round the next big outcropping. Coming round it, Sebastian stopped, out of breath and happy.
Then he heard a sound that made him turn to look westward toward the monoliths and the sinking sun. It was an echo only, a sound of chorused windsong through the rocks. It also was an old song, half remembered, and it came as if released by sunset’s glow from the headland, as if released from long sealed memory of the rock.
It swelled in him, racing in the currents of his blood. In joy, he joined the memory echo, his rich voice intoning melody in half-remembered harmonies that had not been sung in eons. And, in his mind, he heard them join him—which others he didn’t know—and felt kindred with them. This world was . . . had been beautiful, the remnants of that glory still held as momentary afterglow, short glimpses of what had been so long ago.
He heard the swell, the clarion call and answer trumpet, a past never experienced kindled within his body’s memory, born again from them who, joining pieces of themselves, had brought him forth. As it had been long ago, so now, inside him, did he relive that in which they had participated, a joy untasted, yet appreciated.
Overwhelmed, Sebastian’s voice stalled. But, behind him, another voice, richer, deeper, still carried in the wind. Turning, he lifted his eyes. Behind him, high upon the cliff, glowing in the sunset’s dying light, stood the creature Saymuth, singing forth the unison.
* * *
Coming about 4/5ths of the way through the novel, this scene is critically important, both for Sebastian, one of the main characters of the book, and symbolically to the story. This is the real moment of Sebastian’s transformation into himself, and it happens because of love–his love for Jessie. Without that love as catalyst, the transformation could never occur, and that is, in fact, the key to the entire story. Unconditional love, not fear or machinations or planning or effort, brings transformation. Nothing else.
In Part III
Tires spinning, the Jeep swerved wildly. Intermittently, it lost, then gained, traction on the tarmac as Sebastian struggled to maintain control on the lurching landscape. In back, the dogs whined as they were thrown this way and that with each yaw, pitch, and roll. They half stood, half crouched, their legs splayed, leaning this way and that, trying to anticipate which way they would be thrown next.
Cracks formed, Sebastian swerving to avoid them before they caught a tire. He was riding the edge of a wave of prescient sense, letting it guide his hands on the wheel and feet on the accelerator, clutch, and brake.
Haze rose—dust from the disturbed ground and crashing trees. Light flashed, pinks and greens against the sky. A deep welling echo chattered inside him. Then, suddenly, his prescient sense stopped. Too late, he braked, throwing the dogs forward to tumble over the seat onto his backseat passengers
A rift in the pavement ahead opened, widening as it traveled toward them. Slamming the vehicle into reverse, Sebastian backed, flooring the accelerator as he tried to outrace it.
The crack caught up, catching one front wheel, the vehicle shuddering beneath his hands. Sebastian spun the wheel, gunning the engine, but the crack widened to swallow both front tires. The front end dipped, the undercarriage grinding.
They tipped, the Jeep shaking and bucking as the rip widened. “Get out,” Sebastian yelled. “Jump.”
“Locked,” gasped the old crone’s quavering voice from behind him as Sebastian tried to open his door, electronic locks preventing it.
He smashed his arm against the window, but the reinforced safety glass held.
The engine stalled. The locks released.
“Get out,” Sebastian bellowed, again, slamming his hand against the emergency door release. The doors sprang open, and Sebastian dragged Nina out the driver’s side with him, her inert body bumping over the center console, the dogs – all except Jesse—leaping out as the old man tumbled onto the rupturing pavement, the old crone with him, hugged to his chest.
“Get away,” he gasped, as the ground continued to rupture all around them. “Crawl.” Then, seeing only two dogs, he glanced toward where the Jeep swayed and tilted. “Jesse!”
He heard her whimper and lunged toward the vehicle. Another quake of ground wrenched the pavement, and the Jeep shifted as he reached the open door. Inside, Jesse struggled, her collar caught on something. The jeep shifted again, tilting forward into the yawning chasm. Sebastian jumped, grabbing the door frame to thrust himself inside, then jammed himself there, his hands feverishly working to free his beautiful, faithful Jesse.
The dog whined. The Jeep teetered, shuddering, Sebastian’s head slammed against the roll bar as they pitched forward.
Sebastian heard Mako’s yell as the Jeep broke free just as he got Jesse freed. He grabbed her, hugging her to him, a prayer coming to his lips. A jolt went through him as the Jeep crashed, grinding as it flipped sideways. His back slammed against something that broke free—a seat. He felt pain, heard Jesse whimper. Then, darkness.
Sebastian felt himself floating free. He heard a sound—a call—and something swelled in him.
Three eyes, golden white, appeared in a pitch-dark face he recognized as Saymuth. He also recognized the call, though couldn’t name or place it. Then he felt himself alight upon a summons, Jesse cradled in his arms.
Spinning upward, enveloped in a sparkling glow, he felt a rip…two…along his spine and cried out as a strange pressure was relieved inside him, a pressure he’d never realized that he harbored. An involuntary shudder coursed his body, and he felt as if part of him reached and stretched outward. Muscles strained and pulled—muscles he had never known—and then a jolt ran through him as wind caught him up and carried him aloft.
Windborne, he gasped, terrified and awestruck while, in his arms, Jesse stiffened with a worried whimper.
* * *