A couple of excerpts from Stirring Lost, a whimsical paranormal novel that I’ve wanted to finalize, but haven’t because I keep switching between wanting to write it in first person and writing it in third person. This is the third person version, and, because I like the ability to switch between character POVs, I think third will win the battle and the war.
And battles and a war are what this book is really about, in between the humor, the paranormal deviations, and romantic interludes. It’s about battles sparked by differing perspectives and the resulting war that results when fear, even terror, clouds truth and reason.
From Chapter One
By two a.m., Harg was sitting at her table…or pretending to, his splendid mount, Night-Moves, nibbling at a bowl of Quaker Oats. Luckily, the oats would still be suitable for tomorrow’s breakfast, and doubly good by being blessed with glee from the Betweens. “My name is Joy,” she said, answering Harg’s question. “My purpose? Stirring Lost.”
He nodded, a certain melancholy coming over him.
“And I do enjoy watching disbelievers twitch,” she added.
Harg laughed at that, a bold, big, hearty chest laugh. Again, the dishes in her cabinet chattered. Harg was powerful. That was fact. And he was open to negotiating an agreement.
“So, you’ll consider it?”
“I will. But, in return, you must ride the Never with me, gathering the Banished.”
“Gladly,” Joy agreed. In fact, that suited her just fine. She’d need an army. She was on a mission now—at least until she found escape—and that mission would include several sides of Eternity’s Forever, both In- and Out-of-Time—the Ever, the Never, and all spots Twixt and Tween. And just because she happened to have landed conscious on the temporal side of this backwater cosmic puddle by a stroke of Hoax’s hand wasn’t going to dim the purpose Joy had found here. It gave her something useful to occupy her powers. “So we’ll meet tomorrow night to plan?” she asked.
His helmet horns dipped, dropping toward her in acknowledgment. “Granted that the Never wills it,” he replied. He looked about then, his eyes alighting on her nest of crystals. “Do we seal this bargain?” he asked, a slyness creeping into his mien.
It was a test. A crystal would tune and clarify their powers, making them perceivable on both sides of the Veil. It seemed they were to measure one another’s potency and strength.
“We do,” Joy said, getting up to gather what she knew he wanted. At the nest, she decided to play fair and picked the one that shot a spark, then toned. Grasping it, she turned and held it out.
Harg rose and, extending his gauntlet-encased mitt, engulfed her hand with his completely, crystal crushed within. A sudden shock of icy fire went through her at his potency. She was startled, but it was Harg who gasped. He tipped his head, horns tilting delicately as their wrapped around his chin, seemed to pause a moment, then relaxed back to their more rigid, hostile pose. “You are more than you appear,” he said, then bowed his homage, the curling horns of his helmet descending from above to drop over Joy’s head and down to either side of her body. They stopped descending when they reached her rib cage, framing her in the cold fire of his spirit. In turn, Joy dropped a curtsy, ducking out of the embrace. Night-Moves gave a whinny, his steel hooves pounding the stone floor.
From Chapter Eleven
“What were you thinking going up there, anyway?!”
Tom Payne studiously avoided his sister’s face. Instead, he watched the elderly doctor who was working on him swab the wounds on his arm, wincing a couple of times when the swab went deep enough to penetrate through the local anesthetic. Gritting his teeth, he watched his skin bulge obscenely around the swab’s white plastic stick as the doctor stirred vigorously around inside a particularly deep wound.
“Sorry,” the doctor muttered. “Odd bites—flat teeth like a beaver’s, not pointed, and rather widely separated. Really long and tiny.” He looked up, and Tom grunted. “What kind of an animal did you say this was?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, no foreign bodies. That’s a good thing. Just have to reach all the corners so they don’t infect.”
“Tom! Are you going to answer me?!”—Myrna, again.
Turning his eyes to his sister’s ugly mug, he just stared at her. He hated her whiny voice, her pasty, flat, colorless face, her squinty eyes and thin-lipped, sour, sorry excuse for a feeding hole. He wished he’d brought his ear plugs. He wished that one of his sons had come, instead, but both of them were up logging.
He eyed some cotton balls in a jar on a far counter, took a quick, deep breath when, again, the doctor’s swabbing reached real deep, and hoped that, soon, someone would tell Myrna to move her fat ass out of there.
“We can’t afford to keep bailing you out, you know!”
Yes, you can. Just like I can keep affording to bail you out every time you wind up in the drunk tank for driving stupid. He kept his mouth shut, and simply stared her way, then purposely blinked once real slow.
Her face changed as she finally caught on, warned quiet, at least for the moment. It took her a good five minutes of blissful peace before she forgot, again, (like she always did) and resumed her bitching. Five minutes was good, though, maybe a record. Better than the one or two minutes it usually was.
By the time that Myrna started in again, the nurse had given him a shot of antibiotic. Another had administered his first rabies shot, and the doc was wrapping up his arm. The deputy who was standing by moved nearer, handcuffs ready.
“I wouldn’t put those on him,” the doc said. “These wounds can’t stand the irritation.”`
The deputy frowned. “Standard procedure.”
“Well, I think my medical opinion supersedes your protocols, young man.”
The doctor won, and Tom was escorted out of ER without being trussed up like a turkey headed for the oven.
Tom’s lawyer, Joe Kelly, was standing talking to Sheriff Will Townsend when they pulled into the SO parking lot. He sauntered over as the deputy let Tom out of the back seat. “Already spoke to Judge Harding, Tom. You’ll be out on your own recognizance by this afternoon.” He grinned. “Home in time for lunch.”
Nodding his thanks, Tom walked himself into the office, the deputy trailing him to the booking room. After the formalities, Tom got ushered through the covered walkway leading to the courthouse, straight into Harding’s private chambers. Once there, he didn’t have to wait long to hear the exact same question come from Harding that had come drooling out of Myrna’s mug. Harding’s version was a lot less whiny and a whole lot more perturbed.
“She’s stirring up demons, John. And the one she stirred up last night all but killed me.”
John Harding just stared at him. Finally, he blinked—twice—took an audible breath, then sighed, closed his eyes, and shook his head. “Tom, I don’t believe in demons.”