Sunday, May 25, 2014

Blaze is talking to me again

As some of you may know, I've had a pretty hard time writing one of my current WIPs. Not only did I lose a massive amount of the story that I'd written, but I found that after starting another series, I had a hard time refocusing on my delectable Guardians again. Throughout this week, I've felt that spark of life in my Guardians again. Where there backs have been turned to me for not making backups of my backups of my backups, they're at least starting to peer at me from over those shoulders, and my main hero in this novel has finally started talking to me again. So, below is a section of Blaze's story. For anyone who has read the story so far, the end of this section may sound familiar...only from a different view. I hope you enjoy, and no I haven't paid much attention to editing, so I apologize in advance for any mistakes.

No flippin’ way. There was a body. She walked right up to it and snapped a few pictures from different angles, narrowing her eyes at the strange elongation of the guy’s face, and the dark bluish-black liquid that ran off his body and pooled in the snow. What the heck was that, oil?


Sophie cringed at the familiar, gruff voice and turned, seeing Detective Harris stalk toward her. “Harris,” she greeted. Dammit, she’d thought she’d be here longer than a few minutes before the jerk saw her.

“What are you doing here? You know you can’t get this close.” He lifted his hands up as though he was going to herd her like some sort of cow back to the police line.

“Freedom of the press.” She shrugged, lifting her chin a degree. She refused to back up a single step. She was not a heffer, thank you very much.

“Freedom, my ass—” 

“I’ll handle it from here,” another officer said. 

She turned toward the newcomer and smiled as Harris’s partner strolled up to them with a shake of his head that was directed at her. 

“Detective Larkin. Nice to see you.” She lifted her camera again and snapped a picture at Elongo-Face without even looking through the viewfinder. No need. She was pretty sure she nailed it.

He cocked an eyebrow at her, though she knew damn well he found her charming. Why wouldn’t he? “Right. Listen, you’re disrupting a crime scene and we’re pushing everyone back anyway.”

“Disrupting? Me? Nuh uh, I’m just minding my own business. I promise, I haven’t even approached any dead bodies that have cops around them. Just this guy so far, and he was all alone over here.”

Larkin shook his head warningly. “Sophie. I’ve known you a long time. Your Dad and I—”

“Nuh uh, not tonight, Larkin.” She shook her head, not wanting to hear about how close he and her dad had been when her dad was still alive. They’d been partners in crime, keeping the good city of Newark safe behind their shiny badges. She reached into her bag and extracted her voice recorder. “Can you give me a report on what’s going on here?”

“No more than what I’m sure you heard on your radio. Put that thing away.” He reached for it and pushed it down as Detective Harris sauntered off to speak with other police officers, all of which were tense as they kept guns trained on the house. Even Larkin kept his hand on his gun, even though it was still holstered. It was then that she noticed that he kept himself between her and the house. “Listen. This isn’t some quick story that I can help you out with. This is serious, Sophie. And if I let you get in harm’s way I wouldn’t be living up to the promise I made on your dad’s headstone.”

Sighing, she clicked off the recorder and dropped it into her purse again. “I’m just really trying, you know? I’m up for a promotion.”

“I know,” he smiled kindly, but with an air that he was still keeping an eye-and-a-half on the house. “I heard you were up for it. Put in a good recommendation for you too.”

That was a surprise. “What’s going on? Off the record.”

He eyed her silently for a minute before he released a slow breath. “I can’t say.”

“Come on. Don’t make me sit here all night.”

“Stubborn as your old man.” A sympathetic smile appeared. “Off the record, we haven’t gone in yet, but we have a team on the way. There were…violent sounds inside. It’s gone silent since then, but we have no idea if it could be a hostage situation.”

“Another one?” Jack-freaking-pot.

“Yeah.” He wasn’t nearly as enthused. Not that she was enthused. She hated violence. But this could be just what she needed for a certain promotion and, even better, raise. 

“Have you gotten out the xylophone—”


Yep, as soon as she’d said it, she knew she’d called it the wrong thing. Damn, she needed another shot of Buzz-Be-Gone. “Whatever. You know what I mean.”

“No, we haven’t. We’re working on getting a visual. If you’ll just go back to the street and stay on the other side of the tape, I’ll get statements together and I promise I will talk to you if I get clearance. I just need you to go where it’s safe.”

Larkin looked exhausted. No doubt this new development was nerve-wracking, especially after what happened at the Children's Hospital in Newark. The police had been cautious then as well, and an even bigger disaster had struck, which had rocked the entire state of New Jersey. Investigations were still going on, and a lot of families mourned those lost, hoping and waiting for some kind of answer. 

“Deal. Just give me two minutes.” Sophie stepped around him, heading toward the house. She couldn’t help but take a few more pictures of another body that was in front of the home, despite the detective’s attempt to stop her. From this view she had a nice angle of the house as well, with two windows behind the body—one of which was broken. Holding the viewfinder to her eye, she snapped one picture, then another. 

Something moved in the background as her camera snapped a picture. She quickly zoomed in for a better look, focusing on the windows. She snapped another pic without even realizing she’d moved her finger. Sophie lowered the camera, unable to rip her gaze from the unbroken window. 

There'd been a man peering through a gap in the curtains. In that split second of seeing him as her flash went off, she'd noted black and blue, spiked hair, and wide frame. And if she wasn’t mistaken, she’d seen blood on his face before he’d dodged out of her view.

Detective Larkin stood next her, so close that her shoulder brushed his arm. “What’s wrong?” 

Her eyes never left the window, even though she couldn’t see that deadly apparition anymore. “There are definitely people inside. Or, at least one person.”

“You saw someone? Where?”

“In that window. He’s gone now.” Hitting the view button on her camera, she pulled up the last picture she’d taken, holding it for Larkin to see. Yep, right there. The man’s eyes reflected back at her in the picture. Coupled with his large build, spiky hair, and blood streaked face, he looked a good deal more than merely frightening.

Detective Larkin cursed under his breath and gripped the radio at his shoulder. Speaking into it, he informed the station that there was confirmation on people inside. The crunch of snow under his boots alerted her that he’d hustled over to other cops, where he told them to watch for movement in the windows. 

Sophie pulled the memory card out of her camera. There was no way in hell was she giving that up if they seized her camera. She removed the card and stuck it in her pocket, all while keeping her eyes trained on that window. 

She willed the man to return to the window so she could catch another peek. It hadn’t been his hair or the blood that smeared his face that had captivated her. There was something in his eyes that took her breath away, that made her feel as though she’d never forget the way they looked. His eyes hadn’t just reflected back at her in that picture. They’d been that way when she’d seen him in the window, when there’d been no flash at all.

It was almost as if they glowed.

© Copyright Katalyn Sage

Friday, May 16, 2014

Poverty's Pool

I know it's out of character for me to do a serial, but this story was getting too long for one post. Here is part one of Poverty's Pool.

The decaying sign swings in the cold breeze. Only desperate people come here. I’ve always known this place existed. I never wanted to walk through those doors, but I’ve run out of options. It’s not the first time I’ve been this desperate. I push open the door and Ethan follows me.

I’m glad he came. As much as we argued about it and how badly I wanted to hit him over the head for his insistence, I need him here. If I came alone, I would have run back the way I came screaming my head off. If anyone understands my desperate situation, it’s him. He’s just as poor as we are. He has just as many siblings to feed as I do. And his parents are just like mine: dead.

We move to the end of the line. I’ve sold everything I could possibly sell for money. I’ve asked every business in town for work, any kind of work. No one cared that we would starve if I didn’t find a way to feed us. They threw me out their doors, worried I’d scare off business. I couldn’t blame them. That's how it's been my whole life. I can't change the way I look.

They say I can do this just one time, that I don’t have to commit to more than one night, to one customer. Even once is too much, but I’m down to the very last thing I have to sell: myself. I am nervous as hell.

I turn to Ethan. “How bad is this going to be?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know who is going to choose you. I…” His hand trembles as he scratches his forehead. “I don’t think they’ll care if they hurt you.”

“Maybe you should do it to me first so I can be prepared.”

He takes my hands but keeps his eyes on the floor. “You get five times as much if you’re a virgin.”

My hands are shaking in his. I know he’s right. I just don’t want someone rutting at me like a hog. At least I know Ethan. It wouldn’t be so bad with him. But to have a stranger’s face so close to mine, foreign hands touching me, it is almost more depravity than I’m capable of. Almost.

There are four of us to feed. I would rather die than let those helpless stomachs ache for want of food. Those little hands that curl around my neck at night after the meager meals I manage to scrounge up for them are more precious than anything I have left in my life. I can do this for them.

I take my hands from his. “You’re right. That kind of money will feed us for at least six months. That will give me time to figure something else out.”
                I get back in line. We’re at the front. “Name?”

“Cass Mullen.”

Ignoring the papers I shove in front of her, the receptionist clacks on the computer. From a drawer, she hands me a folder. Pins hang next to my name. I know what they mean, but it can’t be right. I tell the receptionist so.

“My records are never wrong.”

Ethan looks at me. I can’t read his expression. I can’t tell him I’ve been here before. How am I supposed to tell the receptionist that the man who chose me took me to a back room, but didn’t use me for sex? I didn’t tell anyone I didn’t sleep with him because I couldn’t bring myself to come back here. Payment is only given after customers file a satisfaction report. My payment never came. It’s my word against his. It’s not even that. It’s his money against my poverty. Money wins every time. If he’s buying virgins from the prostitute pool, he’s got lots of it.
                “There was never a report filed. There was never an exchange of money. It never happened.”
                “Like I said before, my records are never wrong. Move aside.”  

I’m shoved out of line. Ethan doesn’t look at me. I don’t know why I kept it a secret from him. He was the one who found me in the street after that bastard beat me. He was the one who nursed me back to health and fed my family while I recovered. I grab his hand and pull his face to mine. “Do you remember that time you found me half dead in the gutter?”

He pulls his hand away from mine and nods, refusing to look at me.

“It was when the infection had you. I went to the apothecary shop to get some herbs to heal you, but the owner didn't want me in there. I begged him to sell me the herbs. Finally, he told me he would sell, but for eight times their value. I could either hurt him and steal the herbs or I could come to the pool to get the money." I look up at him and take courage. "I came here. The man that bought me didn’t use me for sex. He was just looking for a punching bag. After he got tired, he threw me out. He never touched me that way.”

Finally he looks at me. He studies my eyes.

“If it really happened, we wouldn’t be starving. I would have been able to buy the medicine you needed and I wouldn't have been unconscious for three days.”

"You had the physical exam and everything?" He is looking me over with panic. There's another emotion on his face, but I don't know what it is.

                "Yes, I got the health injection too. I am healthy, but underweight. What else would you expect though." He isn't upset with me. That's more than I hoped for.

                 His expression changes. He believes me. A huge breath is released from his chest and he relaxes. “Why didn’t you tell me? Why did you lie about it?”

                "It would have upset you more than the lie I told. It was the only option I had. Just like now."

He looks uncomfortable, like he knows what he wants to say but doesn’t know how to. “Look, I’ve been setting aside what little I can for whenever I marry. I…What if I let you have the money?”

“You can’t give me your money. You turn seventeen in two months. You only have four months to convince some girl to marry you or you’re thrown in the work camps. Two months isn’t enough time for you to save up enough for a girl who deserves you.” I don’t tell him he could never save enough money to get a girl that deserves him. 

He shifts on his feet. “I wouldn’t be giving you the money if we were married.”

“Ethan, you've never looked at me that way. I've never thought of you like that either. There's never been enough comfort in our lives to think about anything beyond survival. You don’t want to marry me. You want to protect me. Don't throw your life away looking after me. You don't have any obligation to us. Besides, I’m not good for you. I’m not good for anyone.”

“But I want you. Ever since I first saw you, I’ve wanted you.”

I know I’m not good for him, but I’m selfish. He’s a hard worker. We've been pooling our resources  together for over a year now, feeding both our families. If we were married, it would be even easier to keep food around. Married people have more job options, more ways to make money. 

I stare hard at him. He doesn't flinch. I make up my mind. “Okay. Let’s do this.”

Just as we push open the door to leave, someone shouts from behind us. We freeze. Turning, I see the man from that night a few months ago. He’s walking toward us. An officer is with him. “I want her. I never got to use her for what I wanted.”

The receptionist moves from behind her desk, toting my record with her. “What do you mean?”

We all know what he means. The receptionist is already scribbling a change in my record. She pulls the pins from the frame. Now my record is clean. Shining, just like my virginity. Everyone in the building is staring at us.

“I’ve changed my mind. I’m not for sale.”

The man scowls. I brought on his rage that night. He had every intention of using me as the prostitute he purchased. I thought I could sacrifice myself for Ethan. I thought I appreciated all his work for my family that doing something like that would be a small price to pay for him. He would die without the medicine and that was the only way I could pay for it. When the man touched me though, I knew I wasn't selfless enough. My instincts took over. I kicked the man in the throat. Then I ran for the door. It was locked. There was only one key and he had it. I went back for it, but he'd recovered by the time I reached for it. I didn’t stand a chance. He was a grown man. I was an undernourished, skinny sixteen year old. I thought I was going to die that night. But I didn’t. Once he'd worn himself out, he couldn't stand the sight of me. There wasn't much to see other than blood, bruises, and open wounds. He threw me to the gutter.

“No one tells me no.”

“I did before, didn’t I?”

The officer fires a shock bullet at me. I fall to the floor. My mind is jumbled. Ringing clouds my hearing. I’m taken away to a back room. I can’t believe this is happening. My body is paralyzed from the shock bullet. The man is shutting the door. Now he’s taking his clothes off. I can’t feel my limbs. I cry to get them to move, to run, to fight. I can’t do anything but lay there.
                The door flies open. Ethan is there, shouting. I can’t hear what he’s saying. Officers push into the room and tackle the naked man. Ethan runs to my side. He’s saying something, but all I can do is stare. I’ve never seen him look the way he does now. He turns to the officer bowing beside him. An officer bowing to Ethan.
                “The medics are out front.”
                My hearing comes back. The words are muffled, but I can finally hear what’s going on.
                “What good are they doing outside?” Ethan growls. “Send them in now!”
               “Ethan,” I try to speak. My throat is dry. It’s barely a whisper. I try again. “Ethan.”
                He turns to me. “Cass!” He grabs my hand and sits next to me on the bed.
                “Ethan, what’s going on?”
                “I’m getting you out of here.”
                “But how? Where is the money to pay for the officers? What about…”
                “Hey, don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of you. You promised to marry me, remember? This is what husbands do. They take care of their wives.”
                 Feeling is coming back to my limbs. I curl my fingers around his hand. Before I can find out more, medics enter the room. He steps aside for them to reach me. The chief of police is in the room now and he’s approaching Ethan. The probing of the medics doesn’t hinder my hearing.
                “Your father hasn’t heard from you in years. Why now?” The chief’s moustache bristles with his words.
                 “I was fine on my own. Money doesn’t buy everything.” Ethan’s voice is hushed. He doesn’t want me to hear him. Of course he doesn’t want me to hear. He’s lied to me. His father isn’t dead. And Ethan isn’t really poor. I keep my eyes on the ceiling, but strain to hear every last word.
                 “So you wanted this prostitute for yourself and you didn’t have the money for her? Someone outbid you?”
                 The sound of a fist connecting with bone resonates through the room. Even the medics pause in anticipation. “Don’t you ever call her a prostitute. She is my fiancĂ©. There was a misunderstanding here today. If my father doesn’t want to see me, that’s fine. I’ll take her and we’ll leave.”
               I can’t find anything on the ceiling more interesting than the exchange taking place in the room. My eyes find Ethan. He stares at the chief who holds his hand against his eye. I’ve never seen Ethan so full of fire or confidence. Normally, he cowers under authority. Now he is the authority.
                 “My apologies, sir. I didn’t mean anything by it. Your father wants to see you. A car is waiting out front.”
                 Ethan stands straight. He looks at me. I'm staring at someone I've never seen before. Even his eyes have changed. They are still the startling green they’ve always been, but now they control the room and everything they touch. “Are you okay?”
                 Shoving medics hands out of the way, I sit up. “Yes. Since I’m going to be joining the family, let’s go meet your father.” He pulls me to my feet and warps his arm around me for support. Under my breath, I add, "Because apparently your father is alive and your not really poor."