We write. We rant. We wrestle the magic.
This is an excerpt from the latter half of the second chapter for Crossroads: a Demos City Novel. Thought it might be fun to share something outside of the traditional first chapter of the book. Release date is November 4th to all major booksellers in both paperback and e-book formats. Needless to say, I’m beyond excited. Enjoy and let me know what you think!
“C’mon buddy. Chances are the guy’s a drunk and just looking to sleep it off. There’s nothing to worry about.” The door has finished opening, and by the sound of things is on its way to closed again.
“So you believe me then?” he asks.
“I believe that you sure as hell believe it,” I say as the inner cell door begins sliding open. “I can respect that kind of conviction.”
The figure on the other side fits his way into the detention area. He’s not steady enough on his legs to make it very far before collapsing. Hastings stands, takes a step toward the man, but I throw up a hand in his path. The gesture is enough to keep him rooted to the spot while I walk over to investigate. The guy is face down on the concrete floor. Looks like he’s wearing just about every shirt he owns underneath a tan canvas jacket.
“Hey, buddy, you all right?” I ask, kneeling down to turn him over. The guy’s breathing is on the rapid side. His clothes feel moist.
“How is he?” Hastings asks from behind me. “Shouldn’t the police have taken him to a hospital or something?”
Yep. They damn well should have. I turn the guy over on his back and notice his eyes are wide open. His pupils are the size of dimes around a thin brown hoop—like he’s high on something. Young guy. Could be just out of college. Throwing his life away for certain.
“Can you hear me in there kid?” I give him a couple taps on his scruff-riddled face to bring him into the here and now. No such luck. His eyeballs dart around in their sockets, never fixing on one thing for more than a second. Who knows what the hell this guy sees. My ears pick up a low murmur from his lips.
“It hurts,” he says. “You put it in me. It hurts.” His saucer-like pupils park right on mine while he’s repeating the phrase. His breathing is still picking up, heart rate right in step with it.
If this keeps up … shit.
I grip the man’s jaw in one hand while using the other to pry it open. There they are, fresh forming fangs. The fucker is on some kind of stimulant, probably meth or cocaine. It’s accelerating his heart and pumping all kinds of chemicals through his blood stream. I let go of his body and back away. So, this is their plan. Toss a homeless drug addict into the detention area and push ‘blend.’
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Hastings asks.
The new guy’s form begins to work its way to the surface. The change for a werewolf is an unconscious effort—at first, no better than a kid trying to play an instrument for the first time, but the more it’s done, the less time it takes to change. This guy is on autopilot right now thanks to the drugs. I’d say the clock has five minutes on it—tops, and when he changes in full, he’ll strike at the first thing he sees.
“Davey,” I say removing my shirt. “I need you to get in a corner and stay there. Don’t come out. Don’t move, and damn sure don’t speak until this is over.” My pants come off next.
“My name is David,” he says eyes narrowed. “And what the hell do you mean? What’s happening? Why are you getting naked?”
My change begins with a tingle, like the fingertips of a lover touching the back of my neck. The sensation works its way inward until it turns my heart into a cannon firing in time to feed my growing form. I intended to respond to David, but I think he must understand what’s at stake. I can feel him move away from me and into a corner of the detention area. The kid has a head start on my change, but I’ve been doing this a lot longer than he has, and my body knows what it’s doing. That doesn’t stop the searing pain. The change always hurts. I’ve never gotten used to it; it drowns my human self, sends it to a depth where the sole thing left is the image of my daughter and the searing need to make it home alive.