A Spell of Death, the third book in the Bloodborne Pathogens dark, urban fantasy series, will be available at all the stores at the end of August. You can pre-order it on Amazon now. I’m super excited. But no rest for the wicked — I’m already plotting what to work on next.
JACK WAS DROWNING in sludge and deafened by a thundering howl that roared through his head like a motorcycle. He blinked, trying to clear the bleary grey from his eyes. The blurriness dissipated but the grey remained: he was surrounded by a bleak landscape painted in shades of slate, charcoal, gunmetal. He tried turning around to pinpoint where the sound was coming from, but it was like swimming through cement. Squinting, he forced his strained eyes to pick out shapes in the greyness. As he finally reached 180 degrees in his turn, something slammed into his cheekbone and he staggered back. The wail of anger that escaped him was muted, as if his ears were filled with water. He clutched at his shoulder and gasped, both at the sharp bolt of electricity that coursed from some wound he didn’t remember receiving and from the figure in front of him.
Still writ in tones of grey, a creature of ethereal beauty paced the slate ground. She…he…Jack didn’t know. Small breasts swelled on the torso, covered by films of black cloth fluttering in a wind he didn’t feel, but an inhumanly large bulge between the legs spoke of masculinity. They seemed to have no problem moving in this desolate topography. Long limbs, human-like, stalked back and forth, though the legs tapered into hooves. A flash of light tore the charcoal sky, and a shriek pierced Jack’s eardrums. He collapsed on his knees, hands on either side of his head, but that did little to dampen the sound. Glancing up, he saw the creature’s face was elongated, the mouth open. At that moment, pearlescent wings appeared behind it, flapping in fury, causing Jack to fall back. They turned to him, obsidian eyes boring into him.
In the vacuum of sound that filled the air when their scream stopped, Jack heard a high, quiet noise: a whimper. It wasn’t coming from the creature in front of him, but the only other thing in the dismal terrain was a lump of taupe. A rock. Then the rock moved, and Jack caught sight of a face that he thought he should know but couldn’t place. For a few long moments, pleading eyes stared at him from behind a curtain of dark curls before his attention was drawn back to the winged creature.
They opened their mouth again, and Jack braced himself for a repeat of the spear of sound. Instead, the creature strode to loom over him and spoke sibilant words, dove grey words that didn’t belong in this sere environment. They tipped their head, jutted out their chin. The tone implied a question, but Jack had no answer. It was all Babel to him. A snick sounded, and a blade appeared in the creature’s entirely human hand. A blade Jack recognized, its oily obsidian tugging at his soul.
So this is the end. Not in fire or in ice. Just grey. Jack peered at the last face he would see. Then the silver lightning flashed across the grey clouds again, this time accompanied by quicksilver rain. He spared a glance at the sky and thought he saw shapes moving against the charcoal. The creature also looked up and started a keening wail, before turning back to him, a cold fire burning in their eyes as they clutched the obsidian blade in their fingers.
Jack gasped again as pain seared through his shoulder. Then the world went from grey to black.