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MOOD: Supercalifragilist-screw it more coffee is required.
Currently working on: The Lexicon Calopa (Tuning the Orchestra section)
Music: Galaktikon – Brendon Small

Morning, sinners. Short one from me today, as I’m front-loading this week’s work in lieu of me going back on the nicotine patch by tomorrow (Yep- keep trying, keep pushing forward). But, I did want to leave you with something tasty to sink your eyes into—

Wow . . . that phrasing went to weird places in a hurry, didn’t it?

Anyway, I wanted to give you something. And so I did. Below, you’ll find another excerpt from “When the Man Comes Around”, book 1 of the Nine Shot Sonata series, which is due to drop early 2017. I’ll have something more in the vein of a proper article for you on Wednesday. Just keep in mind that even what you’re about to read here is subject to change, and the cruel whimsy of the Editorial Machine.

Enjoy!

And until next time, Horns Up.

“When the Man Comes Around”, book 1 of the Nine Shot Sonata series

-From Chapter 3

For my part, I’ve lived a tumultuous string of lives. I couldn’t tell you why, but I always managed to pick periods of human history where you drabs were hellbent on killing each other en masse with the newest, shiniest examples of death-dealing available on the market. You want to talk wars of religion, wars of retribution, wars of conquest, and even a war or two based purely on ego? Been there. Done that. Preferred the movies. Hell, my second trip was spent as a Roman Centurion. It’s not a chapter I like to talk about, much, other than to say it was the biggest rookie mistake in the history of rookie mistakes.

I figured that my last go around should be a bit more placid, you know? I’d check out the gift shop and all that rather than bother with the roller-coaster again. I figured at this point that I had earned at least one trip where the only battlefields I would choose to grace would be digital. What? I really like first-person shooters and fighting games. I also like sim-games, but that’s a whole other story with a whole other psychoanalysis.

I know what you might be thinking, but my hunts against the beasts in the area didn’t count. I considered that pest control, not mortal combat, and certainly not open warfare. Although, a few more heavy hitters like that Chinese thug would necessitate a change in tactics on my part, if not a change of address. Maybe. I was really attached to this little slice of the American Dream I had grabbed.

And, I really hated packing.

But Uriel’s simple question had just changed the lay of the land from something contentious to something approaching dangerous, and he had done it with a flippant air. I was done being bullied. I flared a trickle of power, grit my teeth over the spike of pain, and my eyes gave off a soft burst of fire-glow. He would know I had just tapped in, glow or not, but I prefer the showmanship. I didn’t stand a chance against him, but I wasn’t about to let him punch my ticket without getting really noisy over it.

“That a threat, Angel?” I said pointedly.

Uriel raised a hand. “Peace, Malebranche. I do not threaten. I merely point out that you are missing the obvious in assuming your part in all of this is done, whether we agree upon our arrangement or not. Simply put, I’m not the enemy here.”

The energy seeped out of me, and I relaxed a bit. “Okay, fine. Enlighten me, oh wise guru. Exactly what have I been missing?”

He slid the stool I had set up for the customer’s side of the counter closer, and took a seat. “Consider for a moment,” Uriel began. “Isn’t it curious? The strange weather patterns in Houston and surrounding towns; the slow but steady increase of strength in the creatures coming into your neighborhood, and the upswing of visits and scrutiny from the police. Your current physical state certainly speaks to the fact that there is an effort to test your limits.

“If that weren’t enough, what about your immediate affairs? How do you explain the decrease in customers that has you in financial straits? How about the dwindling social circle, or the fact that it’s become harder with each passing month for your fledgling band to find paying work? Did you not think it decidedly odd that all of this misfortune seemed to be accruing at a faster rate lately, culminating in this recent attack on your character in the newspaper that is sure to inspire action against you?”

Laid out like that, it forced me to think about it for a moment.

Huh.

Honestly, I had never really considered it. I had chalked the circumstances and all the stress attached to my life up to just a normal string of bad luck that every other schmuck out there has to deal with now and again. Ups and downs, peaks and valleys. Sometimes the trip through those lows involves a long slog across the morass, and I had pegged the past year as just that. No curses, no preternatural catalyst, nothing more than doldrums to get through, and come out tougher on the other side. You know? Life, pure and simple, as experienced by the drab and strange alike.

But it started to make a twisted kind of sense, the more I looked at it. Uriel was right. I was blinded by what was right in front of my eyes rather than taking notice of what was going on around me. I had glossed over the overt signs like the weather, because weather in Houston is a fickle mistress at the best of times. As for the stronger monsters slithering into my midst, I just figured that eventually the rest would give up once I had thoroughly knocked their champions down a few pegs. The cop situation was growing increasingly annoying, but I considered it the byproduct of over-zealousness brought on by past events and a desperate need for them to close a case. The lack of customers could have been the time of year, current trends in gardening, or just the usual business competition that I would have to adapt to.

As for friends, well they come and go. Okay, some of them had seemed to cut ties rather abruptly, but such is the age of Facebook, right? And sure, the band had been struggling more and more over the past year, but doesn’t every creative enterprise slam into the wall before they find the break that allows them to climb over it?

That’s what I had told myself.
~~~

_________

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