I'm not doing great at adulting this week. I should be working on my next novel series, hocking my wares by dropping off sell sheets at local stores and booksellers, getting pushy-pushy-pushy with marketing my published books, throwing around on all social media my cool book trailer that was made up by the team at Austin Macauley for An'ji, and getting a plan together for Tracon for when it comes out next month. What I am doing? None of that. Instead, I'm playing in a fan-fic story that will likely never leave my desktop, building vegetable gardens for the kids, and trying to stay ahead of laundry (which is physically impossible).
I'd like to say that I'm feeling productive because of what I've accomplished, but my brain is wired that I only see what I haven't done yet and then feel bad about not working on what I "should" do. So, to my brain: I've still written 20,000 words in the past few weeks, my back yard really is nearly done and will provide some tasty treats later this growing season, and my house isn't a messy disaster because vacuuming, laundry, and play-space cleaning up happened this week. Those accomplishments still matter.
For everyone else feeling like I am today, your "not-what-I-had-planned" accomplishments matter, too. Hope your weekend goes great, even if it's not what you had planned. :)
1. The Hour of Eternity
The Fates met at the start of the day and took up their five seats of Decision. Future, Past, Present, Change and Chaos adjusted their robes and settled in for the long hour ahead of them.
"Everyone ready?" Present asked. Change shifted in her seat once, then again, before lifting a single eyebrow at her sister. Chaos slouched, scowling, and kicked at the cornerless table in front of him. Past shot a tight-lipped glance in the young Fate's direction before nodding to Present that at least he was prepared. Future simply shrugged as if already bored and stared off into the shadows. Present shook her head, sighed, and turned the heavy glass.
The sand remained suspended in the upper half.
"The hour of eternity begins."
"Oh, happy time," Chaos muttered, glaring at the center of the table. Present gave him the stiff-lipped look this time. Past stood and faced the shadow around them.
"The world as it was," he stated simply.
The shadow exploded into light, crystal sharp images of millions of lives a million times over erupted around the Fates. Everything that had occurred since their last meeting was displayed in textbook clarity all in one moment, advancing to the exact point that the glass had been turned.
"The world as it is," Present stated. Every life lay open to them, frozen in time, in all its truth as of that moment. In the midst of the absolute stillness, one child was heard to sigh in her sleep. A grain of sand fell to the bottom of the glass.
Present scowled at her sister.
"She was uncomfortable," Change muttered, shifting again. Chaos snickered, drawing a frown from Past.
"You two never learn," he reprimanded. "The seats you take so lightly are a great responsibility, and one that –"
"There was no harm in it," Future interrupted. "All still passes as it should."
Past gave the dreamy-eyed Fate beside him a sideways glance from under his thick brows. Chaos smirked across the table at them both.
"The way the world shall be," Future said, cutting off any further arguments on the topic of Change and Chaos for the moment.
Faster than times gone had been presented, the coming times blinked by. Drawing more and more hazy and blurry as time progressed, the shadows that had blanketed the room when the Fates had arrived began to block out the transparent and fuzzy images. When Future blinked, the images as seen by her eyes froze in place.
About a dozen lives, stopped at various points throughout the history of the future, were shown in clear, solid detail.
Chaos finally sat up and looked about at the lives before him. "Give me that one," he nodded to one of the lives off to his left.
"No, give him the choice of his own Fate," Change argued.
The other three Fates sat back and settled in for the long haul. The two younger ones starting their arguing this early in the hour over only a single life that had not even been set to be conceived yet was a bad foot to start on. But, as the three periodical Fates knew, Change and Chaos had to be decided between each other before paths could be decided. Otherwise they would have barely the gap of a generation between these meetings, and none of them could stand the others enough to see each other that often.
Almost missed remembering that I had to do the post today. Yard work has returned in full swing, the trade show promo pack for An'ji arrived yesterday, and today is the first day off from school for my oldest in her five-day long weekend! Everything is upside-down at the moment with feeling summer-time busy. It's kinda awesome.
(The awesome is likely due in part to the amount of coffee I've had already today :D )
4. Not Dead
My hand shot out as the zipper passed my shoulder. Both men yelped and leapt away as I slid out of the bag and landed on the floor in a crouch, putting the autopsy table between them and me. The bullet plopped out of my stomach and dropped to the floor as I finally let the wound heal.
Contrary to popular belief, vampires still have souls. We get to keep our souls when we cross over into being the undead. We lose the conscience, but when you’re made to eat other people you don't really need the guilt hanging over you. For all people, your soul stays with you until it gets released either by fire, ritual, or basic decomposition. When a body dies, the soul passes naturally and comfortably into the true afterlife by whatever means it is given. Tdrue, the Soul Stealer, skips the natural and comfortable part and quite horrifically rips the soul from the body. No matter if you are living, dead, or undead, it is the most awesomely terrible pain you will ever feel. He then follows that up by taking your soul into his own self so that he can sustain his pathetically manufactured immortality by devouring your life force. You spend eternity in pain, in him, wishing you were in whatever Hell you used to believe in. He has minions who worship him as a demigod and bring him sacrifices, both dead and alive. Many of us vampires don't mind sucking a Tdruist dry.
And these two bastards had chosen to work in the easy pickings of a low-end, city center hospital morgue. I could feel my retractable fangs drop as my muscles bunched for a pounce. Their hearts were beating wild and loud, so I lined up to attack the nearest one first.
Then I heard a lock click and the main door slammed open.
"Freeze!" the command was unmistakable. Cops. I could smell six new bodies as they flooded into the room.
One of the men who had been ready to feed my eternal soul to Tdrue stumbled and fell as he turned to face the ambush. He spun around on the floor and stared at me through the legs of the table. He wasn't the one who had opened the body bag. I snarled at him. He pissed himself and started screaming as he scurried backward towards the cops. One of them billy-clubbed him in the back of the head, knocking him out.
The other man stood in the middle of the floor, babbling. "She was dead, I swear it. Dead people don't move. She was shot. I swear she was dead!" he babbled as another of the cops tossed him to the ground and cuffed him. "I swear she was dead..." his eyes had gone wild and he stared in every direction, blinking randomly.
Four of the six cops dragged the Tdruists outside. The other two stayed standing just inside the door as it swung closed behind them.
"You feel like checking out the dead body? See if she really is dead?" one asked the other once the sounds of voices and footsteps faded down the hall.
"We could just ask. Didn't the crazy man just say that the corpse was moving? She might also be able to speak."
Nice. Comedians. My undead life had been about to end painfully and horribly, and these two were cracking jokes. I reached up and pulled the body bag off the table.
"Assholes," I muttered.
"What was that, oh living corpse?" the two of them snickered, one finishing the other’s sentence, both voices dripping with mock solemnness.
That's when it hit me. I tucked the body bag around me and stood up, still snarling, really angry, and fang-faced.
"You assholes! You knew there were Tdruists working here and you used me as bait! You jerks!"
"Hey," the cop on the left held up his hands. "You're still in possession of your soul."
"And it was you who asked to be shot because you needed to be dead again," the one on the right chimed in, holding up a folded piece of paper that he seemed to pull out of thin air. "Authentic confirmation of Accidental Death, right here," he pointed at it and it disappeared again. "Or around here somewhere, anyway," he patted at his pockets as if looking for the piece of paper. Like he didn't know where it was.
"We needed to prove that there were, um, body-snatching perverts working here. The whole room was bugged for sound. You were totally safe," said the first one. I was stalking my way across the room toward them.
The cop on the right suddenly pulled his sidearm and leveled it at me.
“Two for two?” He was still grinning. The bastard would do it, too.
I paused and retracted my fangs with visible effort – getting shot did hurt something fierce – and crossed the distance still separating us. One day, I promised myself, I was going to kill these two.
"Now, my lovely Undercover Agent, it is time for you to allow us to make you vanish into the night," the one on the left said with a flourish, handing me a handkerchief that he appeared to pluck out of a fold in the body bag to cover my face. You think just vampires are bad? Try dealing with vampire magicians.
He threw his coat over my head and wrapped an arm around my shoulders so that he could lead me out of the morgue. The other cop did a quick check around the autopsy table. He found the bullet from his gun that had been in my stomach and dropped it into his pocket.
"I’m going to kill you two one day."
"You're so beautiful when you're angry."
So now I'm here in a Safe House, wrapped in a body bag, waiting for them to come back. Hopefully with clothes. At least they left me a few prote tarts.
I need a holiday.
Me update: chronic pain sucks out the happy like nothing else I know. I'm starting to feel back to normal, but that was a rough week. Giving my youngest her Big Girl Bed even though my hubby is working nights was totally worth it. My plan for getting to yard work now that the snow is completely melted from even the shady part of the yard... is delayed until further notice. Then again, real sunshine isn't that important when you can write about sunny days, right? ;)
Writing update: Woo! Tracon got a planned release date! That one can be expected June 29, 2018. *Happy*. My writing vibe has suffered over the past couple weeks (ie: the main story was usurped by a couple other ideas that I'm playing in rather than what I'm supposed to be working on), but I think I have an iota of focus coming back now that the random brain-candy stories are wrapping up.
Yay for the return of good weather (especially with it happening on a weekend)!
The zipper at my feet was pulled open, the toe tag yanked out – ouch – and the plastic cord bit into the top of my toe. These guys were pissing me off. Only four groping morticians and one asshole priest scattered across close to seven hundred years wasn't a bad record. Humans can rest easy knowing that nearly all the men and women who make a living dealing with the dead are honest and caring. Then out of nowhere come clowns like these two. Why couldn't I have gotten a doddering old doctor who was a couple of years away from retiring and just wanted to get through their shift so they could get home to their wonderful spouse? Those are the ones I like the best: efficient, knowledgeable, and quick. As it was, I get stuck with two jerks that both were up for a little grab and feel – and possibly a little slash and explore – on the dead chick.
I had the option of playing this out one of two ways if things got worse. One: wake up scared, confused and horribly in shock, then start crying and asking where I am. Two: eat. It had been nearly three days since I'd fed last, I really had been shot, and the prote tart (get it? Protein tart/blood bag? Pop tarts for vampires?) wasn't what you can call long-term filling. Usually I eat about one a day. One person can fill me up for almost a week, although I try to avoid that. It's been nearly one hundred years since I've eaten a human, and the six hundred or so years before that I typically stuck with fish and animals. Lately, thanks to technology, I choose the prote tarts. Just so you know, most vampires don't like feeding on people. It seems rude considering that we live and work together.
"She's twenty-seven and died of a single gunshot wound to the stomach. The medic that brought her in said that she'd bled out in an alley behind a dumpster at least two days ago. Some guy tossing out trash found her. I saw her last night and knew she was going to be perfect."
"What about any family?"
Good luck finding them. But seriously, let's give three cheers for modern technology and the wonder of the computerized background check. Computers are so easy to hack when you have nothing better to do than to learn how to do it while you hide out for ten years. Homicide detectives are so persistent. It was just one guy who had it coming. Girls bond in dance club bathrooms, that hasn't changed since the dawn of drinking and I don't see it changing any time soon. Pricks just need to understand that. Eventually their victim is going to meet someone like me. Hey, I'm single and I'm little, you thought I wouldn't take a martial arts class or two? Or thirteen? Then that someone-like-me is going to break their stupid prick necks. I didn't even get a meal out of that guy; he disgusted me too much to eat.
"No living or known family, and no friends who came forward to claim the body. We're totally clear."
"Ok. Let me see her."
I took a quick smell as the zipper was starting to get pulled back: plastic, dead, disinfectants, cologne (two kinds), blood (two kinds), and all the wrong pheromones. Apparently these weren't perverts. What the Hell was going on? I relaxed my chest around the air in my lungs and let it leak out on its own. The zipper finally made it up to and around my head so I relaxed my eyes into the stare that only dead people have. The top of the body bag was swept back with a flourish. Fluorescent lights burned into my retinas as I forced my pupils to stay motionless. Dead eyes don't dilate.
Two men stood beside the autopsy table, one at my head holding the body bag open and one at my feet, both were young. I could hear their hearts beating faster as they stared at me. I'm not going to flatter myself, I'm fit, and being immortal has helped greatly in keeping me that way, but I'm no super model. I'm short, my face is plain, and my hair is nondescript. I can dress up pretty good, but twenty-four hours in a fridge after two days waiting to get found since being shot behind a dumpster isn't being dressed up. Body bags aren't that flattering either. They grinned at each other and the one from by my feet moved up by my head so he could slap his friend on the shoulder.
"Drew is going to be very happy," he said.
Drew? Why did that set off little alarm bells in the back of my head? These boys were collecting corpses for someone named Drew. Bodies to give to Drew. I should know what that means.
"Do you think so?" asked the one holding the top of my body bag.
Bloody Hell, I should know who Drew was! I was trying to drag it up from my memories, but it was like dredging a lake beside a landfill.
"We have to move her quickly. He'll want her while she's still fresh," they were both still grinning like damn fools.
Drew... Drew... why did I know Drew?
They folded the top of the body bag back over me and started the zipper on its reverse course.
Drew... Drew... No. Not Drew; Tdrue.
The Soul Stealer.
So apparently mid-week updates effectively eliminate my ability to have anything interesting to talk about on my regular posting day. Lol :) I can summarize my after-mid-week post happenings with:
Have a great weekend!
2. Ugh, Great...
I slowly relaxed my legs so that the body bag didn't crinkle suddenly. I just wanted to get some feeling back into my butt, okay? I was flexing. I hoped it would be the same idiot from the night before who jolted out the slabs. Then I would be able to slide my obligatory two or three inches and no one would notice the stiff’s feet and legs moving without external cause being applied.
The slab didn't move. I waited, holding my semi-flexed pose and thanking my Pilates instructor for the great ab exercises that were keeping me from freaking out right about now. Still no removal from my fridge, though, and thankfully no pulling at the zipper to get at my toe tag.
Suddenly there was music. Well, at least the merged sounds that currently pass for music. Actually the noise bouncing around the morgue seemed to be the match for the chorus playing in my head. My inner thoughts cringed away from the sound and I had to force myself not to follow up with a physical shudder. I don’t like pop music. I did allow myself an eye-roll. Get zipped up in a cheap body bag with your head at the far end of a fridge and you can get away with stuff like that when you're dead.
Then wham! and I slid to a relaxed stop about four inches from where I had been lying. Good acceleration on that one. I bet the night shift jerk could market this as a carnival ride. Whatever happened to respect for the dead? Being as we vampires don't age, we have to be dead at five to ten year intervals so we don't cause suspicion. If you knew the treatment some dead people could get, you'd forgive those of us who decide to keep eating live food. I'm not saying that it's correct behavior to snatch and snack, but there is a certain satisfaction to it when the meal deserved it.
I have this one friend who's the cause of most urban legends about corpses re-animating on the autopsy table. He likes to die whenever possible just to check up that people take care of their dead properly. His family was wrongly accused of some crime or other, and their bodies disemboweled, quartered, and refused proper burial rights in the eleventh century. He takes respect for the dead pretty seriously.
As for me, I die when I have to. Being dead is an irritating hic-up in my life. If I have to be in a dark, cold place that smells odd, a morgue is my second choice. I'd rather be at a movie theater.
"Ready? One, two, lift."
Well, that was a gentle and caring hoist and drop. I hate it when they bounce my head off the gurney, the morgue ones don't have cushions. And I have at least one more to go when they pummel the autopsy table with me.
Yup. That hurt.
In all honesty, being undead does give you increased strength, speed, and pain tolerance. The body loses its caution about getting hurt when it just heals back up again, so in turn you forget to worry about what you can and can't lift or can and can't dodge. You just do it. Things that were impossible become easy. Take (for example) that I'm dead, but that the fingers of my left hand are against my body and not touching any part of the body bag. This means they can freely twitch with the desire to beat the snot out of the two pricks tossing me around like a sack of rotten potatoes. There is one thought that helps me get my fingers back being dead like they're supposed to: fifteen minutes and I'll have my Accidental Death papers signed and sealed. Then these idiots will shove me back in the fridge and I can get back to escaping and getting on with my life.
And how does one escape from a morgue fridge you might wonder? Yoga. Yoga and twelve years working with a pair of magicians a few lifetimes back.
"Did you lock the door?"
"Good. The camera is set to re-record last night, so we don't have to worry about a thing."
Great. Just bloody well great.
Two men, one was nervous and the other one was cocky. I would guess either perverts or overly zealous med students. Either was very dangerous to my rather precarious situation. I've only been in a truly bad situation once before in all the times I've had to be dead. The priest who interned bodies in that village so many years ago had decided that because I wasn't breathing, sex wasn't a sin. Too bad for him I was undead. Too bad for me hygiene and diet during that century wasn't what it is today. I would have killed for a breath mint or a single piece of minty gum after that experience.
"Can we just hurry up?"
"What, you scared or something? These kinds of things you have to move slow so you can experience them fully."
A weekly blog updating on Fridays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!