So hey, who doesn’t want a sneak peak at a novel that some (me) would describe as “The Dresden Files meets Ghostbusters, with an edge.” What is that edge? You’ll have to read the book to find out. Or maybe just this excerpt. I feel like “edge” is an ill-defined word…
Sidenote – I haven’t run this through the usual editing process, so excuse any sneaky typos, broken punctuation, or cryptic references to ancient curses.
Riven – An Excerpt
She’d been dead for a month, but damn if I didn’t love her.
Selena look back at me from across the room, an ashen square occupied by swirling sheets of paper, a lone chair, and a closed door that Selena was standing near. The walls were cracking, bits of mortar falling like dust to the ground before getting swept up in Riven’s ever present breeze. Selena’s hand was on the knob, but she wasn’t going to open it. Not till I was ready. My right hand slipped down to the hilt on my waist, tied to my belt. The leather grip fit my hand, fingers slipping into creases. I lifted it free of the holster without a sound. As I held it up, the lash unrolled and played out along the floor like a snake waiting for its chance to strike. At the end of its long tail, the lash split into a pair of metal points. Points that glowed a faint blue.
“I’ve seen that enough times to not be impressed,” Selena said. Her voice came with a thousand memories, scratches and scars underlining every word.
“It’s part of my style,” I said. I walked forward to the door and took Selena’s hand off the knob. No reason to risk her for this. My gloved hand took her place, and a twisted.
The door opened inward, revealing an even greater disaster on the other side. Rubble from a caved-in roof spread across the floor, stone blocks split in half or smaller scattered around. Dust swirled and danced in Riven’s cold sunlight. The same gray cast colored everything in this part of the world. Sitting on the rubble, head between his hands, was a man. Or at least, what used to be one.
His hair was thinning, some spare spidery wisps falling to touch his dirty white collar. A bow-tie hung askew beneath his neck, the lone spot of black until the man’s torn trousers. He’d lost the shoes somewhere on the way to here. I noticed the watch on one hand, gold and shining. Rare to see something like that come through. Must have been a present, a treasured gift.
“Be careful,” Selena whispered. “This one’s got an edge.”
“It won’t get close,” I replied, and raised the lash.
As my lash went into the air, it’s length whipping up and stretching over my right shoulder, the man looked up at me. No matter how many times I see their eyes, they never fail to send a shiver running through my nerves. Pale blue fire burned where their pupils should be. The sign of a spirit that’s been consumed, that’s lost what little remained of who they were.
“And now you’ve come again,” the man said, standing. “Come to take what’s mine, as you have so many times before.”
“This will be the last, I promise,” I said, and then I swung the lash. It went forward, snapping in the air. The lash wrapped around the man’s neck, the metal points digging into the spirit. The points made the man’s gray skin stretch and warp as they dug in, and then I twisted my wrist.
The lash turned the same color as the man’s eyes. Blue fire tracing from my hand down the length of the lash and through those points into the man. The spirit howled, an otherworldly noise carrying all the pain the pain had suffered to bring it here. To Riven and to let it stay. As the blue flames covered the man, he fell to his knees and grew silent. Seconds later, I saw his eyes extinguish and twisted my wrist back. The lash returned to its normal black and, with a flick of my arm, I withdrew the coil. And watched.
The man stood and walked towards me. I stepped aside, back into the room with the chair, and moved to Selena with me. The man kept walking, right by us, through the room, and down the stairs at the other end. It would keep walking on a long journey until it reached the center. The thing that both made Riven necessary and terrible. The Cycle.