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> RANDOM SCENE OF THE WEEK
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Jun 07, 2013 07:57PM
I'm starting a new weekly post on my homepage featuring a random scene (200-500 words) from one of my books. If other authors want to do the same, we can use this thread to put up little snippets from our books.
Today's inaugural RSotW comes from
The Age of Apollyon
, chapter 2.
"Tantum ergo Diabulus veneremur cernui.”
The congregation repeated the incantation, and the priest spoke again. He would pause after each phrase, and the congregation would repeat his words.
"Genitori Inferi, laus et jubilatio, honor et virtus quoque, sit et benedictio procedenti ab utroque compar sit laudatio.”
The shadow-faced specters remained motionless behind the priest during the recitations. There was a thick, humid silence that filled the sanctuary, and Patric was starting to feel vaguely uncomfortable. Was there an insect swarming about his head? He glanced around in annoyance.
The solemn priest motioned for the congregation to be seated, then waited for a long, heavy moment before speaking.
"My children, you have no doubt heard of the terrible tragedy that has befallen our family. A dozen of my brothers, pillars of our venerable order, were gunned down in cold blood, without dignity or reverence. Although the assassins’ identities have not yet been determined, we can all be certain that they belong to the ranks of the Delusionals, those who would gladly see our mighty order demolished and ruined. Yet it is they who cower amongst the rubble and ashes of their fallen empire, for this world does not belong to their so-called ‘Heavenly Father’ anymore. No, this world is the domain of Apollyon the Destroyer, Prince of the Powers of the Air, and he blesses his faithful with fortune and prosperity. Those who fly his banner high are rewarded, and those who despise it are decimated like the Cathedral of Our Lady many years before.”
Patric’s neck twitched, and he swallowed dryly. A dull hum seemed to be drilling into his skull with a tiny needle. He looked around and tried to pinpoint the source of the irritation, but he could see no insect or any other cause of the invisible sound. No one else seated in the pew seemed to notice it.
"Before the Manifestation,” the priest continued with a slowly rising pitch, “the Delusionals espoused peace, love, and meekness. But we know that the world, and the future, belongs to the strong, to the brave, to those that strike back, rather than turn the other cheek. This, my children, is what has made us so strong today, and will continue to do so. The Deluded Scriptures say: ‘Love thine enemy.’ Well, we are bound by no such folly. We hate our enemies, and we have tolerated their existence too long. We tried to co-exist in civilized indifference, but they have brought the fight to our doorstep, and we shall respond!”
Patric gritted his teeth as the priest’s words failed to reach his ears. The hum had ballooned into an almost shrieking buzz. It could have been some sort of audio feedback, but there were no such devices in the sanctuary, and no one else was hearing it. He grimaced and he rubbed his ears frantically, trying to exorcise whatever it was from his skull. A few people near him noticed his convulsions and whispered for him to be still.
Patric ignored them, and the vibrations inside his head and all around him grew louder and louder. The priest’s ominous words were almost inaudible to him above the hellish noise, which was actually starting to cause pain. He moaned silently and shut his eyes tight.
The priest raised his hands to the pentagram suspended above the congregation like a grim, lightless chandelier. “My children, I bid you rise up! All across our world, the faithful are taking to the streets to show those deluded fools once and for all who the Master of this world is! Join them! Peace and mercy are virtues that have no place in this world, and those who hold fast to the feeble words of their Savior shall find themselves weeping amidst the flames!”
Patric couldn’t bear it any longer. The noise seemed to fill the nave like millions of wasps that only he could hear, and it was driving him mad. He jumped to his feet and opened his mouth to scream.
The congregation whipped their heads around, and Patric froze. There had been a scream, but it did not come from him. He looked to his right and saw a veiled woman that he had not noticed before. Her neck was arched unnaturally backwards, and her mouth was gaping open so far that it seemed that her cheeks would split. The shrill, aching shriek sliced out of her mouth like a fountain of razors. Even after the agonizing cry died away, the woman remained in that contorted position for several moments.
No one, not even the startled priest, dared to breathe. The air was completely still. With a gasp, Patric realized that the awful buzzing had ceased, but he felt a new terror crawling through his veins.
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Jun 08, 2013 02:05AM
Well here's a piece from chapter 2 of my first book,
The Spirit of A Witch
With a slow nod she took the cloak from him, wrapped it across her shoulders. Any barrier thick enough to ease the freezing cold was fine by her. If only it could lift the chill of terror gripping her heart.
‘Oh, and bring your cat too.’
‘What-? My cat?’
The man pointed towards a spot on the ground behind her. Spinning around, she traced the line of his finger to a discarded shape laying half-hidden within long grass, its eyes closed, limbs slumped, a bushy tail limp upon the floor.
The shape remained motionless.
‘Smokey!’ she cried, rushing to kneel beside the still form. Panicked fingers swept along his fur, searched for signs of life. ‘No, no!’ head shaking with disbelief. She flashed an angry stare towards Leofard. ‘What did you do to him?’
Leofard shrugged. ‘Don’t blame me, you both arrived together.’
Smokey had to be alive, he just had to be-
His tail flicked into motion, head lifting with effort, swivelling towards her, eyes just opened cracks. A deep groan rumbled deep within his tiny body before panicked eyes burst open. With head shooting upright, ears like radar dishes scanned their surroundings before they jabbed towards the now smouldering fire.
Turning towards her, his jaw twitched.
Within her mind she sensed a connection, as if another consciousness desired to share its thoughts, and a faint voice grumbled within the depths of her brain.
‘What in cat hell just happened?’
Jun 09, 2013 11:22AM
This is a great idea, sharing our favorite passages from our books. Here's a passage from the end of SUICIDAL MANIACS AND THE LADY OF SHALOTT that came out last October, but this passage I think of as a postcard from spring between a mother and daughter who are learning how to break apart without breaking in a time of constant electronic communications and social networking:
Shauna sends the letter she's written in her own hand, a letter from spring to Eliza:
You didn't ask and I didn't think to mention where I went this weekend. It was the feast, that annual affair held out in the country northeast of here. At the first sign of spring we get together, dress for the weather and drink rose hips to keep warm.
I arrived the night before the feast, as did many of the guests. (Merlin sends his regards.) They played their music and danced until late but, tired from a difficult winter, I retired early and listened to the bass notes beating up through the floor. I'd been given the prettiest room with warm pine floors and peach coloured wallpaper speckled with fleur de lis. My host made up my bed, small as a child's, with heavy quilts. I slept well for the crisp wet air.
At the sight of snow in the early morning my heart sank, but the snow melted by noon and the feast was on. The meal is held in a courtyard open to the air, set on the highest hill in the area. From up there you think you can see everything.
The table was set. Let me tell you, it is always lovely. The clothes are lace and linen and there are vases filled with lilies, ferns, tulips and freesia, the most bittersweet smell of all. China we use sparingly, knowing that it breaks like promises and can't be repaired so as not to show the cracks. We are careful. You remember? We serve the children on silver and gold.
We are all platters and serving spoons. Myself, I'm a goblet. Emptied over the winter, I finally learned to appreciate the fine striations on its interior surface. But now the cup is filled with wine like a miracle. Take a sip, I tell my friends. Just don't drain the cup; there's a few bitter flecks settled on the bottom.
But then who is who and what is what here? We don't ask. We accept only what information is freely offered in conversation. We consider this our good manners, respecting one another's privacy. People do chatter but never about each other. Eventually most everything is known and together we make a gorgeous feast.
The bread is set out. Good bread must be baked nearly every day if it is to be served fresh, and ours is fresh. Whatever is left at dusk we feed to the birds. The butter keeps longer and is spread soft and thick. The fruit, that is my favourite part. When the venison is set out on the table it leaps up off the platter and dashes into the woods. That was a joke; we are all vegetarians here.
Nibbling on nuts for protein, serving up wild rice with lemon. The proper mix of foods is part sweet, part bitter, some light as salad and some as substantial as a baked potato. Everyone takes their choice and nothing is wasted.
Come nightfall, we study the stars. In the spring sky you see Aeriga. Taurus, the bull, is setting and Leo, the king, is high. Virgo you can hardly see at all but you can't miss Venus, so bright it seems as if she is a candle lit in the centrepiece.
Now it is late and we kiss each other goodbye.
Except those with children, everyone leaves alone. No one mourns the departures; the leave taking is part of the ceremony.
So this is it. The feast ends with grace. And as sure as the weather, it will come around every year at this time
Eliza's response arrives within a week, an email:
I'm fine. Sounds like you're feeling better, but if you're still worried and if it will help, then send money.
Better yet, come down for a visit (and bring money!)
Jun 10, 2013 08:26AM
Here's one from HOPE FLIES ON BROKEN WINGS:
The afternoon light sparkles off the shoals. Our catch was light today which only puts my da in a testy mood. It'll shorten everyone's wages even though we all worked as hard as usual, but the bounty of our pay depends upon the bounty of our catch.
Chancey, Edder, and I, along with our newest crewmate Jeuy, a boy of only sixteen but a good strong rower, pull the boat ashore with the towlines and chock it upright. I join Chancey and Jeuy as Edder and Da lower the buckets of cod to us. One of the nets was ripped on the final haul and Da prepares to toss it over the side of the boat.
"The youngest mate mends the nets," he says and Jeuy scowls his displeasure but sucks up his low-man position, a position I readily relinquished to him upon his hire. Da throws the net over and the tines of his trident get caught among the loops. The fork hits the sand beside the pile of netting.
"Hand that back up to me, Dugie," Da says, extending his arm over the side.
I set my bucket down and reach for the fork but stop just before my hand meets the cold bronze of the shaft. I stare at the thing. I can't bring myself to touch it. For the several moments my hand hovers above it, all I can see is Mick's face gasping and fighting for his life inside the net below the tines of the trident that holds him down. The picture is clear as glass and even though I didn't witness it, I know exactly what it looked like. I have a good idea how it felt.
"Come on, boy, quit lollygagging and hand me my damned trident."
I stand upright and look Da in the eye. "No. I won't. I won't touch it." Not a wise choice, Dugan. My crewmates are all staring as if I've gone mad and perhaps I have.
Da moves closer to the edge of the boat and leans over the side. "Hand me my trident boy. Don't make me come get it." The threat beneath those words is loud as a foghorn.
I should just pick it up and hand it to him. There's nothing to it. It's just a piece of bronze, that's all. It's not worth pissing him. My heart races and my hands begin to sweat. I lurch back as if the fork were a snake about to strike, shaking my head. "I will not touch it."
Chancey bends down, reaching for the trident.
"Keep you bloody hands off it, Chancey," Da says. "Dugan will give it to me."
I give my head a firm shake. "No, I won't. I will not touch it."
Chancey whispers, "Just give it to him, Dugan, before he decides to use it on ye."
"Let him." I glare back up at my da. "Let the bastard use it on me, just like he used it on Mick."
"I'll not have a dry land mutiny by my own flesh and blood, Dugan. Hand me the damned trident."
We are two stubborn fishermen trying to out-stare one another. Aye, Edder, perhaps I am like my old da in a certain aspect, but I will no longer be a party to his evil. I feel a power rise up in me, both fearful and alien. I'm defying my father and I don't even give a damn. Let him do what he will--it doesn't matter. I almost wish he'd just kill me now and get it over with. Let's just put an end to this pain I call my life.
He says not a word, just stares with those gray eyes, the scar across his cheek pulsing. The veins in his arms bulge like ropes against the muscles. The man is furious and I don't even care. Deliberately, I turn my back to him and start walking away and with this action comes the knowledge that I will likely die tonight.
Da calls out, "No one gets paid today, boy, until ye do what I tell ye."
The bloody son of a bitch! Put everyone's wages upon my shoulders in this damned power play. Gritting my teeth, I stop and turn around, then stride back to the boat. "If you want your bloody trident, then take it." I snatch it up and hurl it at him like a harpoon.
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Books mentioned in this topic
The Age of Apollyon
The Spirit of a Witch
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