For #SampleSunday (Twitter), I offer an excerpt from Raven Memory, a novel and part of Draco Torre’s world. On Smashwords you may sample the first half of the book in your favorite format, so this excerpt is from the second half found in chapter 24. Find Raven Memory for Kindle (Amazon US) or Amazon UK, for iBooks, for Nook, or at Smashwords.
On Smashwords, Raven Memory is free this month (until October 31, 2013) with coupon code: VP76W
Find out more about Sample Sunday at Pixel of Ink.
Steve strolls among the crowd, a waving mass of dark colors. The occasional white shirt glows purple in the ultraviolet light. The mob dances to music beyond the quiet place. Holding his coat closed, he navigates the swarm, walking between worlds part in this one and part in the shadows. Some eyes fall on him for a brief moment then move on forgetting him. No one notices his passing.
Very few ever do.
Looking over the heads, he glances around the club named for the city of the dead, Necropolis. The wall of stacked bones stands near stairs leading up to a balcony. Tables gather in the corner before a bar lit by purple rods.
Fewer guests hang in the back away from the dance floor. Beside the stack of bones, a bouncer stands with bulging arms folded. He is human, but that is no fault of his own. Contrary to popular rumors, nearly all of the employees at Necropolis are human.
A young woman dressed in a short black skirt, legs in fishnet, glides away from the bar. Feet in soft black shoes walk on toes. Nearly exposed breasts snuggled in a white blouse tied in a knot jiggle with each step. Blue eyes glimmering red meet his.
He steps deeper into the other world watching Julie fading into a ghost, a memory blazed into the fabric of the cosmos. Satisfied seeing the woman turn her attention away, he continues into the back among the memory ghosts gathered around tables.
Approaching the bar, he returns to the world. Apparitions become patrons enjoying drinks and chatting as sound explodes from the silence, music thundering. Looking over the bar, he spots an Itoril with shaggy hair carrying a case of beer.
The eyes grow big, brow pushing up into the hair.
Spotting recognition on the face, Steve searches his memory. He finds nothing.
Releasing the case of beer, the Itoril man stumbles back. Glass crashes.
A woman behind the bar spins around and throws her hands on her hips. “What the hell?”
Watching the shaggy hair disappearing into the back room, he puts it together. This is the individual that sets off the alarm.
He enters the quiet place. Sucked in by the silence, sounds vacate the club. The world fades away leaving a phantom outline of the bar and walls.
Searching the back room through the murky haze of wall, he traces the route through a door into a back hall where the back door waits. Taking the direct path, he passes through the insubstantial stool, through the wall into the back hall.
He steps partially into the world. Silence.
An apparition runs in slow motion away from the emergency exit. Hand flinging over shoulder, an object falls to the floor. The pieces scatter in slow motion, sliding against the walls on both sides.
Strolling down the hall, he gains ground on the apparition running in slow motion. Watching the fleeing phantom flatten out sneakers, he cuts the corner passing through the wall. Turning in the direction of the corner, he returns to the world, music blaring and sneakers squealing.
He reaches into his coat digging for the notepad.
Arms flailing and eyes bulging, the young Itoril gasps and backpedals. He cries out disrespectful words. Turning, he sprints back down the hall sneakers slapping the floor.
“Now the emergency exit.” Steve heads back the other way. Flipping through the notepad, he scans recent entries. He finds the notes given by Julie and nothing more.
The alarm bursts, clanging throughout the building.
Laying on the floor, a bouncer holds his nose.
Spying the door slamming shut, he marches down the hall while marking in his pad. He notes the location and a brief description of the fleeing young man. It is probably nothing, but might as well find out what this is about.
A step carries him into the quiet place. He walks through debris, splinters of wood from a broken door frame on the left. His feet pass through without disturbing anything. Clearing the mess, he exits the quiet place and the alarm beats into his head.
Among the clanging, he hears an explosion of gunshots, an automatic weapon. He passes back into the shadow world. The ringing fades away, and he passes through the door.
On the right, the alley ends at a dumpster and a dead man on his back. To the left, another dumpster stands against the brick wall. Beside it, two figures stand at the edge of light both in dark clothing as silhouettes with the street behind them. The larger one lifts the other by the neck.
Standing still against the door, Steve returns to the world. The clanging attacks his ears, and the cool night air kisses his face.
Grasping at the hand around his neck, the Itoril balances on his toes and forces the words from his lungs. He coughs. “I don’t know. No idea where she is.”
Steve steps closer trying to get a better look at the young Itoril’s face. She? Cassandra? He finds fear on the boy’s face and nothing more.
The alarm cuts off into a single trailing clang.
The large figure pushes the young Itoril. Long coat waving, an arm swings out drawing a sword in one smooth arc slicing through the neck of his opponent. Spinning to the side, shaggy hair flying, the head topples over smacking the pavement, rolling over nose sending it bouncing. The body falls onto its knees and flops chest down, blood pouring from the open throat.
The tall figure glances over his shoulder. Two orbs void of pupils glow white brightening the tops of the cheeks and sides of the wide nose.
“Hold on there.” Steve raises his hand.
The killer smiles exposing perfect row of gleaming teeth. Pulling a hood up over the flat buzzed hair, he turns away. The form dissolves into a glimmering wave, disappearing.
Peering down the length of the alley, Steve searches the shaded alley.
Beside the dumpster, the severed head stares over a dark puddle of blood at its own body. An automatic weapon rests three feet away. Movement catches his eye, a shimmering in the center of the alley beyond the body and dumpster.
Looking at the foggy outline of a tall figure, he realizes the killer wears some sort of camouflage bending light around the garment. To the unwary, the killer is near invisible, but reading the fabric of the universe reveals the killer as bits of information forming an android.
Striding through the swirling purple and black clouds making up the walls, pavement, the very air itself, Steve rushes to the end of the alley and returns to the world. The purple clouds and darkness recede replaced by bricks on each side and asphalt beneath. The overhead lamp illuminates the street corner.
Spotting the shimmer, he latches onto the shoulder and pulls.
The android spins around sending the image of the street behind bulging and rippling like water. A gun appears floating in air.
Instincts taking over, Steve moves into the quiet place reaching for the shadows. The gun fades into an apparition. Gunfire bursts in slow motion, ghost light flashing from the muzzle without sound. A burst fades and another flames from the barrel scattering purple bits of the information, shock wave rippling through the currents.
He steps aside of the muzzle and returns, the world speeds into full motion, gunfire explodes. Fist flying, he punches the killer square in the jaw. The gun flies up, cutting a swath into the sky shattering the lamp, the street corner falling into darkness.
Boots scuffle back, the floating gun pointed straight up in the air. Footsteps clomp away into the road, the shimmering thing bounding across three lanes.
Light floods the street, a car turning a corner, electric motor whirring over rolling rubber. Within the bath of headlight beams, a faint shadow of a man in running stride stretches down the street. Center of the hood collapses, and the windshield explodes into a web of shattered glass. A pair of boots appear at the end of legs disappearing into the shimmering veil, rolling over the top of the white wagon, metal crunching and popping as the roof gives and flexes back. The killer rolls off the end of the car flopping onto the pavement.
Brakes howl, and the white car slides sideways careening onto the sidewalk on the far side of the street. Metal crunches breaking a street sign twisting beneath the car. Front end compresses as metal folds against a stone building, white and amber plastic pieces spray the sidewalk. The back end leaps from the ground twirling sideways and lands on the ground, bouncing and swaying.
Glancing the other way, Steve searches the street. The gun rests in the center of the road. Standing at the next corner, curious onlookers gaze at the wreckage, more joining them. Reading the information, he searches for the invisible android, but finds increasing numbers of curious faces.
The killer is gone.
As the only witness to a murder and a traffic accident, the right course of action is waiting for the local authorities and supply a statement as required by law. Assuming the local authorities might misunderstand a story about a killer with white glowing eyes wearing light refracting camouflage, he decides on fleeing the scene.
Avoiding the curious eyes searching the street thirsting for carnage, he steps into the shadow side. Gliding through the phantom gazers, he turns the corner and heads up Washington. Beyond the crowd, he returns. The cold air licks his moist brow. Cars roll down the road, some rumble while others whir.