It looks like the aftermath of a gang fight between bottles, the victim smashed to death. Shards of clear glass litter the center of the table. Empty beer bottles, fifteen of them including the bottle on its side, surround the victim. Probably some national light beer trying to dance with the tough local microbrews. Roseland is home to some of the toughest ale in the country.
On a sofa, a clothing pile shifts. A sweatshirt covers the lamp shading the room except for the far corner where cobwebs darken the wall. More clothes form a pile between the lamp and sofa. A trail of clothing—enough for three people—leads from the sofa across the carpet onto the tile of the kitchen area. A lacy black bra hangs from the handle of the refrigerator. Back against the stove, a woman wearing only black bottoms rests in a fetal position, arm over knees and face pressed into a puddle of vomit.
The apartment unit smells like alcohol, sex, and an overused toilet after weeks of neglect.
“Hey, man.” Clothing flops off the sofa, and a shirtless young man sits up. His blond hair stands up, spikes pointed in every direction. He glances around, his pupils growing large and shrinking again. He grimaces at the shaded lamp. “Some party, eh?”
This is the aftermath of a brutal orgy of overindulgence.
“What’s your name?” The shirtless man holds his hand up. “No, don’t tell me. I’ve got it.” He snaps his finger. “Roger. No wait. Steve.”
Steve sounds right. A hand on the table edge, he shifts around looking the kitchen over. Pizza boxes cover the stove. He looks down at the woman on the floor growing concerned about her health.
“Okay,” he says, “I’m Steve. Who the hell are you?”
The shirtless man makes a popping noise that sounds almost like a laugh. Flopping back, he lays on the sofa and rubs his face. “Torx.”
Standing, Steve pushes the chair under the table. Looking down, he finds black slacks and a white buttoned shirt. His clothes are spotless and free of wrinkles. Even the creases in his slacks appear sharp. His shiny leather shoe steps on a sliver of pizza crust.
Torx releases more popping sounds. “You know it was a great party when most of it is a haze.”
Steve glances over at the woman on the floor. She appears no older than nineteen. Her shifting body tells him she is alive. “I don’t remember anything.”
“Good stuff, eh?” Torx sits up and shakes his head. He laughs, popping like firecrackers.
“I feel fine.” No headache. No grogginess. He feels like a bear after a winter nap, or a newborn baby with enough energy to cry for days. “I just don’t remember anything at all.”
Torx bats a hand at the air.
Steve looks at the beer bottle gang fight on the table. He scans the kitchen, the floor finding more beer bottles, and the coffee table covered with more pizza boxes. No drug paraphernalia. No needles, no bongs, not even a cigarette occupies the flat. Kneeling, he lifts the young woman up into a seated position.
Dark mascara drains from her closed eyes. She groans and waves her hands at the air. Her breath smells like beer and vomit. Dried pizza sauce speckles her breasts. Steve turns her arms around searching for needle marks. Patches of freckles on her upper arms disturb the serenity of her pale flesh. Her nose appears clean.
Spotting a red dot on her neck, he pulls her hair aside and turns her head the other way. The puncture wound is under her chin in the soft place beside her throat. The wound appears too large for a needle. On her wrist he finds pink scars, two curved rows of slender gashes appearing like a bite mark.
“No drugs here.”
“Come on,” says Torx. He slaps his arm. “I’ve got a big fresh mark on my arm. Julio delivered.”
“Where’s the needle?” Steve looks around finding the room darkening. The rumbling fridge falls silent. Toilet smells fade. It is as if his nose stopped working along with his ears.
Ghostly forms appear, people moving about the apartment. Holding a beer bottle, the young topless woman dances in the kitchen. The apparition moves her hips in circles. The ghost takes a gulp from the bottle. Two other ghosts—men—sit at the table. One watches the young woman, nodding his head and grinning in the lustful way young men do. The other ghost opens a beer bottle, the pale cap bouncing silently onto the floor. A pair of ghosts occupy the living area. A female dances on the coffee table, lifting her shirt up, exposing her breasts. She throws her shirt down, and the other ghost, Torx, laughs silently.
An apparition leans against the door. He watches the others, head rolling against the door as his gaze moves from one ghost to another. He appears like a leather-clad rockstar with long dark hair and pale skin. His gaze pauses on Steve, makes eye contact, and drops to the table. Between two brown beer bottles, six capped vials stand within a wire tray. A white cloud floats in clear liquid.
Sounds come crashing back, and a wave of pungent odors attacks.
The ghosts are gone leaving Steve holding the young woman in his arms.
A voice booms within the apartment. “What are you? A cop?”
Lifting the young woman, Steve climbs to his feet. His gaze sweeps the table. There appears to be too much broken glass for six vials.
“Look at you with your spiffy clothes,” says Torx, rising from the pile of clothes standing naked. “And your buzzed cop hair. Who the hell let your old ass in here anyway?” He swipes at the air. “Was it Sabrina? Get out of here and take that slut with you!”
Hand around Sabrina’s waist, Steve holds her limp body against him. Her feet slip and stumble around the table. Torx shouts terrible words as he marches around the other side of the table. Shoving the chair aside, Steve pulls Sabrina towards the exit.
Opening the door reveals a dim hall lit by a buzzing light, the blinking sends their shadows jumping across the worn carpet and onto the wall. Steve supports the young woman as she stumbles down the hall passing closed doors marked by brass numbers. The naked man shouts from the doorway. Finding stairs at the end of the hall, Steve heads down the creaking steps.
Folding her arms over breasts, Sabrina shivers.
Nothing is familiar. The acrid odor, the peeling paint, the blinking lights tug at his senses. “How about,” he says, trying to find the right words. “How about we find somewhere warm and safe?”
At the landing, he grabs the banister and swings Sabrina around the corner. Within his grasp, he feels the banister give, wood splinters, and the handrail breaks free. He falls, darkness swallowing him.
Instead of tumbling down stairs, he feels as if he plummets, his gut rising into his throat. Finding his arms empty, he reaches out. Sabrina is gone. From the darkness below, churning purple and black clouds curl around him. Gut lurches, feet touch down, and silent steps carry him through the rising violet fog.
Dark shapes appear within the haze. Swooning and swaying, the shapes surround him. They appear like smoke, their motions leaving wispy trails, and he realizes they dance in slow motion. He finds more of them, a mass of smoky forms in every direction. They dance, waving arms building smoky clouds above their heads.
Purple haze lifting, dancers increasing in speed, the smoke trails fade leaving solid forms. Clothing ripples out of the blackness. The ghosts dance, their pale forms turning and moving on a wood floor. Dark columns holding purple rods rise up into a white fog where lights spin splashing red like blood dripping from the mist.
Thunder erupts pounding into the floor. Another dull boom, and another, the increasing beat becoming alive, sharpening. The dancers stomp to the beat, their movements increasing in speed. A chorus of guitars join in, and music explodes.
Standing at the center of the dance floor, Steve glances around at the crowd. White shirts and waving colored bracelets glow in the black light. Some of the eyes glow as well like phosphorous discs floating on white orbs. The discs bounce and weave. The floor shakes to the beat of the drums and dancing feet.
Standing on a stage, a woman with deep crimson hair screams into a microphone. Her voice, harsh and demonic, shouts about blood and death. Behind her, the musicians shake their heads and stomp. A bald man pounds drums splashing sweat glistening into the spotlight flooding his bare chest decorated with a dark dragon.
Feeling a gaze piercing into him, Steve turns around finding a woman staring at him. Her hips throw her black dress swaying and shifting about her leather boots tapping the floor in time with the beat. Her body flows, twisting and swaying, her arms climbing up over her head like snakes swooning about each other. Her dark hair bounces on her shoulders. He recognizes her pale face, her cute dimples, her slender nose. Her strong gaze pulls him in.
She smiles, her glossy red lips curl deepening her dimples. “Nice to meet you, Steve Reynolds.”
A wave of nausea rushes over, and he concentrates on the woman before him, focusing on her glistening lips. He watches her tongue slide sideways licking her upper lip. Smile growing, her mouth opens wider exposing glistening teeth. A red spotlight flashes over her face. Staring at her open mouth, he notices her canines are slender and long.
“I’m sweet like candy,” she says. Spinning around, she gazes over her shoulder. Her thin eyebrows bounce. “With a K.”
Watching her smile, her pointed teeth, he realizes her name. “Kandy.”
Led by the hand, he follows her off the dance floor. Climbing a staircase, she says something about having what he’s looking for. He doesn’t recall asking for anything, and he feels doubtful she can help him find Sabrina or the apartment building. However, her kind smile tells him she may have something. He tries placing her face, but nothing sticks. Even her cinnamon scent is familiar. Somehow he knows her hair always smells like cinnamon.
Candles barely illuminate the leather sofas lining the dark walls of the lounge. Music drones in the floor, and Kandy bounces to the beat. Passing a bar on the right, the bartender dressed in puffy sleeves and a bow tie frowns. Hand pulling him the other way, he slips off the red carpet and onto the smooth tile of a room, music growing louder.
Kandy slams the door closed. One foot in front of the other, hips rocking, she struts over to a leather sofa sitting against a wall of glass. With the red lights spinning through fog beyond the window, Kandy is a dark silhouette. One hand on her waist, she stands there waiting, tapping her toe to the beat.
Raising his hand, Steve finds dollar bills in his grasp. His feet shuffle taking slow steps.
Lashing out, Kandy grasps his shoulder jerking him onto his toes. His elbow cracks, and her jaw crushes his wrist. Pain shoots up his arm into his head cracking into silence, a scream fading into the background.
Kandy Fangs is a free ebook available at Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/88665
Life is a memory, and Steve Reynolds starts his life caught in the middle of a political issue involving a rare venom used as a drug. Kandy, a professional killer, helps him find his way through the time-shifting shadows of his life and into hers. Haunted by wraiths from his past, Steve puts his past together discovering not all of his memories belong to him.
Kandy Fangs ebook novella is available for free.
Where to Find
Novella vs Serial
At about 43,000 words, the novella is slightly longer than the serialized version found at www.KandyFangs.com. Besides polishing, the novella includes a few longer scenes with more details. I edited the two versions separately since the serial requires different breaks. The novella has 14 chapters compared to 27 episodes in the serial.
Comments on the Serial
Thanks for following the serial and sharing your thoughts.
Notes on ebook formats
If you’re not sure which format to pick, epub is the most widely used including iPad, Android devices, and Adobe Digital Editions for the desktop. Choose mobi for Kindle.
Smashwords is having their annual Summer/Winter sale all July with participating ebooks at 25% discount, 50% discount, or free. Raven Memory is 50% off and profits still go to KIPP as detailed in this post. Shadow Memories is a free download for the sale.
Thanks, and go read some books this Summer/Winter (depending on the hemisphere you’re in.)
Welcome to the book release party
Grab a book marker, munchies, bubbly, and say hello. Careful of the wraith skulking about. He won’t bother anyone unless provoked.
Before this story had a title, I referred to it as my “practice novel.” Two years ago some anonymous test readers (I still haven’t met them) reported with excitement and urged me to seek publishing. I wasn’t convinced. It was in poor shape in need of editing. The strange part: after being passed around, the draft was finally returned to me a year later.
So, I decided to share this novel as an introduction to Draco Torre’s world. (Who is Draco Torre?)
The two main characters in Raven Memory have different, but related, memory problems (read the summary in Books menu.) Steve Reynolds uses notepads to help him keep things straight. His new employee, Julie Walsh, begins suffering black-outs, but out of order. Her kiss on Tuesday melts into a kiss the day before. A familiar medallion sparks a memory, and she begins seeing a wraith following her through time.
The story asks some questions:
- Do memories define identity?
- Is it possible to remember the future or change the past?
- What happens when memories from two different people intersect?
Steve and Julie offer their views.
Raven Memory is an urban science-fantasy taking place in Roseland, a modern city home to a species with ideas of their own. Recommended for mature readers. See the teaser page for a summary at www.RavenMemory.com.
You may sample or purchase Raven Memory at
Celebrating the release of this novel, it is available at 40% discount on Smashwords until September 5th. Use the code: VB68E. In addition, you may download Shadow Memories story collection for free using code: NE26E
How to read Raven Memory ebook
- iPad: Download the ePub from Smashwords. In iTunes, select File, Add to Library. Sync. (Coming soon to iBookstore.)
- PC: Download the ePub from Smashwords and use Adobe Digital Editions or download the PDF for printing.
- Kindle: You may purchase from Amazon or Smashwords using mobi.
- Phones: try ePub with a reader like Stanza.
- Sony Reader: get the LRF.
The contents page links work on the PDF and ePub including support for the contents feature in iBooks on the iPad. An interesting note: Raven Memory appears in the latest revision of Smashwords Style Guide by Mark Coker as a well-formatted ebook with working contents page, including screen shot. Thanks J. Dane Tyler (DarcKnyt) for the tip.
Thanks to the mystery readers. Without them, there would be no Raven Memory. Thanks to Mom for patience while I worked on editing and formatting this instead of writing the next story. And thanks to the readers.
Feel free to ask questions, leave comments, or share your thoughts. Enjoy the story. Thanks for stopping by.
~David G Shrock
Raven Memory ebook release day is Tuesday, August 31. Available on Smashwords and Amazon. Join me Tuesday.
Years in the making, this day finally arrives after much writing, editing, and decision making. I originally had no plans to publish this novel, but after several anonymous test readers demanded I publish it, I spent two years considering which direction to go while I edited the story. During this time, ebooks have finally gone mainstream, a perfect time to share my story with you.
To celebrate, I will give a promotional code for a free download of Raven Memory from Smashwords to all those that follow these simple steps:
- Follow dracotorre on Twitter.
- Post a tweet (or RT) including the tag #RavenMemory between August 31 and September 3rd, inclusive.
I will send you the code via Twitter DM. The code is valid until September 7th. If you already have a copy of Raven Memory or choose to pay, you may use the code to give a copy to a friend. If you are under sixteen years of age, please ask your parents. Raven Memory is marked for mature readers on Smashwords.
Sample Raven Memory on Scribd covering the first seven chapters (about 25%) of the novel. At just over 29,000 words, it’s a good size read. Meet Steve Reynolds and Julie Walsh while learning about the issues they face. The seventh chapter is a good place for the sample to end. It reconnects with the opening while setting up the remainder of the story.
If you enjoy the sample, look for the ebook coming in the next few weeks.