I’m exhausted! Post Halloween blues

Oh, what a wonderful night, giving away at least 700 pieces of candy for two hours straight. The streets of my little town were full, and the weather cooperated. I swear, there were as many adults wandering around in costume as there were kids. I do love my street. Add in chili, homemade bread, and family to share it with, and I’m a happy girl.

Even better, the pumpkin patch just keeps growing! The contest for the ten random and five chosen winners is now closed. I need a day to look at them and find the most sincere. (wink) You guys amaze me with your talents. Tomorrow morning, I’ll inform the winners at the addresses they used to send me their photo, so check your in-box. 🙂 I’ll also post them here in a new blog, but wait for me to contact you if you see your pumpkin. 🙂

Thank you for playing along with me! You guys made my Halloween. You really did.

Kim (who is still humming Jack-the pumpkin king’s theme song)

Trina’s pumpkins

 

Susan’s pumpkin

 

Sean’s pumpkin

 

Sanne’s pumpkin

 

Paul’s pumpkins

 

Lorie’s pumpkin

 

Lisa’s pumpkin

 

Letitia’s pumpkins

 

Laura’s pumpkin

 

Lasciel’s pumpkin

 

Jessika’s pumpkin

 

Jenni’s pumpkins

 

Jackie’s pumpkins

 

Dana’s pumpkins

 

Catrina’s pumpkins

 

Cathy’s pumpkin

 

Caro’s pumpkin

 

Ashleigh’s pumpkin

 

Amber’s pumpkin

 

Amanda’s pumpkin

 

Amanda’s Pumpkin’s

 

LeAnn’s pumpkin

 

Katie’s pumpkin

 

Janie’s pumpkin

 

Jame’s pumpkin

 

David’s pumpkins

 

Danielle’s pumpkins

 

Victoria’s Pumpkins

 

Vennessa’s pumpkins

 

Stephinie’s pumpkin

 

Sarah’s pumpkin

 

Sabrina’s pumpkins

 

Nikita’s pumpkin

 

Nadine’s pumpkin

 

Michelle’s pumpkin

 

Michele’s pumpkins

 

Meredith’s pumpkin

 

Lori’s pumpkin

 

Lisa’s pumpkin

 

Amanda’s pumpkin

 

April’s Pumpkins

 

Brooklyn’s pumpkin

 

Candice’s pumpkin

 

Cynthia’s pumpkin

 

Danielle’s pumpkins

 

Diane’s pumpkins

 

Dorean’s pumpkin

 

Edward’s pumpkins

 

Emily’s pumpkins

 

Julie’s pumpkin

 

Kelly’s pumpkin

 

Rachel’s pumpkin

 

Nikki’s pumpkin

 

Rachel’s pumpkin

 

Rayne’s pumpkin

 

Sophia’s pumpkin

 

Stone’s pumpkin

 

Tanya’s pumpkin

 

Tara’s pumpkin

 

Toni’s turnip pumpkin

 

Wendy’s pumpkin

 

Amanda’s Pumpkin

 

Carrie’s Pumpkins

 

Hilary’s pumpkins

 

Jen’s pumpkin patch

 

Kiera’s Pumpkins

 

Krisin’s pumpkins

 

Michelle’s pumpkin

 

Michelle’s pumpkin

 

Narmowen’s pumpkin’s

 

Sapphire’s pumpkins

 

Mary’s Pumpkin

 

Laura’s pumpkins

 

Christina’s pumpkin

 

Sky’s pumpkins

 

Sara’s pumpkin

 

Mikela’s Pumpkin

 

1 Comment

Filed under Drama Box

Happy Halloween!

It’s the last day to enter the Kim Harrison, pumpkin carving contest! I’ve gotten a lot the last few days, and just as a reminder, ten will be chosen at random as winners, and five will be chosen by me depending on my mood and how much candy I’ve eaten. Tomorrow I’ll share the winners with you after I get in and post the last entries from tonight.

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays, and we have almost as many decorating tubs in the basement as we do for Christmas. That you guys are sharing the fun with me has really put the boo in my step. Thank you. 🙂

I also want to thank you for all the support and shares I got from you all the last few days concerning not just the contest, but for getting the word out about PERfunctory afFECTION (or just Perfection) which just came up on Subterranean for pre-order. One of the best ways to help your favorite authors is to share their presale/on-sale announcements even if you can’t buy the book, so THANK YOU! If you are curious, there’s a blurb on their site, but I’ll feature it myself after Halloween.

I got a few more entries last night, so check them out! If you’re just now joining the fun, I’m accepting pictures of your pumpkins (taken with your favorite or most accessible Hollows book) at my e-mail address here: Kim_harrison@comcast.net. Full rules are at the original post All Treat, No Trick.  Cut off for entries is Halloween night, midnight. Good luck, everyone! And thank you for playing along with me!

 

Amanda’s Pumpkin’s

 

LeAnn’s pumpkin

 

Katie’s pumpkin

 

Janie’s pumpkin

 

Jame’s pumpkin

 

David’s pumpkins

 

Danielle’s pumpkins

 

Victoria’s Pumpkins

 

Vennessa’s pumpkins

 

Stephinie’s pumpkin

 

Sarah’s pumpkin

 

Sabrina’s pumpkins

 

Nikita’s pumpkin

 

Nadine’s pumpkin

 

Michelle’s pumpkin

 

Michele’s pumpkins

 

Meredith’s pumpkin

 

Lori’s pumpkin

 

Lisa’s pumpkin

 

Amanda’s pumpkin

 

April’s Pumpkins

 

Brooklyn’s pumpkin

 

Candice’s pumpkin

 

Cynthia’s pumpkin

 

Danielle’s pumpkins

 

Diane’s pumpkins

 

Dorean’s pumpkin

 

Edward’s pumpkins

 

Emily’s pumpkins

 

Julie’s pumpkin

 

Kelly’s pumpkin

 

Rachel’s pumpkin

 

Nikki’s pumpkin

 

Rachel’s pumpkin

 

Rayne’s pumpkin

 

Sophia’s pumpkin

 

Stone’s pumpkin

 

Tanya’s pumpkin

 

Tara’s pumpkin

 

Toni’s turnip pumpkin

 

Wendy’s pumpkin

 

Amanda’s Pumpkin

 

Carrie’s Pumpkins

 

Hilary’s pumpkins

 

Jen’s pumpkin patch

 

Kiera’s Pumpkins

 

Krisin’s pumpkins

 

Michelle’s pumpkin

 

Michelle’s pumpkin

 

Narmowen’s pumpkin’s

 

Sapphire’s pumpkins

 

Mary’s Pumpkin

 

Laura’s pumpkins

 

Christina’s pumpkin

 

Sky’s pumpkins

 

Sara’s pumpkin

 

Mikela’s Pumpkin

 

1 Comment

Filed under Drama Box

Pumpkin Contest (and upcoming PERFECTION release)

A big, sloppy-author thank you from me today to those of you who jumped on the presale of Perfection yesterday. I took a look at Subterranean’s ordering page last night, and my jaw hit my chest. The extra-special leather-bound copies are gone. Thank you for that. It made it hard to sleep. 😉 But in a good way. This book is me stretching without losing that Kim Harrison feel, and I hope those of you who get a chance to read it, enjoy it. If you are just now hearing about PERfunctory afFECTION, I talk more about it at yesterday’s post.

But we’re here for pumpkins and free Hollows books! Wow, did I get a lot of entries for the contest last night! Check them out. Some of you have taken this to a real art form. The talent! And thank you for your kind words on which Hollows book is your favorite and why. I’ve fallen back in love with the Hollows, and you’ll be glad to know I’m almost done with the rewrite for the next Rachel/Trent book (AMERICAN DEMON) and ready to send it to my agent to find a new home. I can’t wait for you to meet Hodin–a yummy slice of dark demon goodness.

If you’re just now joining the fun, I’m accepting pictures of your pumpkins (taken with your favorite or most accessible Hollows book) at my e-mail address here: Kim_harrison@comcast.net. Full rules are at the original post All Treat, No Trick.  I’m still taking entries until tomorrow night, Halloween. Good luck, everyone! And thank you for playing along with me!

Amanda’s pumpkin

 

April’s Pumpkins

 

Brooklyn’s pumpkin

 

Candice’s pumpkin

 

Cynthia’s pumpkin

 

Danielle’s pumpkins

 

Diane’s pumpkins

 

Dorean’s pumpkin

 

Edward’s pumpkins

 

Emily’s pumpkins

 

Julie’s pumpkin

 

Kelly’s pumpkin

 

Rachel’s pumpkin

 

Nikki’s pumpkin

 

Rachel’s pumpkin

 

Rayne’s pumpkin

 

Sophia’s pumpkin

 

Stone’s pumpkin

 

Tanya’s pumpkin

 

Tara’s pumpkin

 

Toni’s turnip pumpkin

 

Wendy’s pumpkin

 

Amanda’s Pumpkin

 

Carrie’s Pumpkins

 

Hilary’s pumpkins

 

Jen’s pumpkin patch

 

Kiera’s Pumpkins

 

Krisin’s pumpkins

 

Michelle’s pumpkin

 

Michelle’s pumpkin

 

Narmowen’s pumpkin’s

 

Sapphire’s pumpkins

 

Mary’s Pumpkin

 

Laura’s pumpkins

 

Christina’s pumpkin

 

Sky’s pumpkins

 

Sara’s pumpkin

 

Mikela’s Pumpkin

 

2 Comments

Filed under Drama Box

New Contest Entries (and where to get my next book release!)

Sing it from the top of my roof, and pass it on. My new book has gotten its marching orders, and if you haven’t heard, PERfunctory afFECTION is now available for pre-order from Subterranean Press! (insert wild Snoopy dance here) Yes, it’s pricy, but the print run is like 2,000 copies instead of 200,000, and they are all signed. It’s a collector book, pure and simple, and will not be readily available in the stores. There are a few reasons for this, one of which is the length, (an odd size, but I cringed at padding it to get it novel length.) It’s also not your usual Kim Harrison fare, though it’s clearly from my pen. (Tim finished it and came into my office shouting, “No way!”) Perhaps I had a few issues to work out, having just left a situation that did its best to crush my will to write, but in any case, I wanted to give you the link today to give you a shot at them in case they go fast. Link to Subterranean. As I said, it’s a VERY small print run for me, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that Subterranean picked PERFECTION up. They are a high-end publisher, and if you haven’t heard of them, you are missing out on a lot of fabulous, unique publications by authors you know and love. Take a moment to do a search while there, and check them out.

But today, I want to focus on pumpkins and free Hollows books! There was a lot of carving going on this weekend, and here are the latest entries in the Hollows carving contest! I’m accepting pictures of your pumpkins (taken with your favorite or most accessible Hollows book) at my e-mail address here: Kim_harrison@comcast.net. Full rules are at the original post All Treat, No Trick. If I don’t get many more pumpkins, odds are really good you’re going to get one of the fifteen give-away books. (wink)

Amanda’s Pumpkin

 

Carrie’s Pumpkins

 

Hilary’s pumpkins

 

Jen’s pumpkin patch

 

Kiera’s Pumpkins

 

Krisin’s pumpkins

 

Michelle’s pumpkin

 

Michelle’s pumpkin

 

Narmowen’s pumpkin’s

 

Sapphire’s pumpkins

 

Mary’s Pumpkin

 

Laura’s pumpkins

 

Christina’s pumpkin

 

Sky’s pumpkins

 

Sara’s pumpkin

 

Mikela’s Pumpkin

 

10 Comments

Filed under Drama Box

Are you carving this weekend? Hollows contest!

Tim’s and Kim’s pumpkins

If you saw my post Thursday, then you know I’m having another Halloween-themed contest this year, and it’s both just starting, and almost ending! But there’s still time.

This year, in return for your pictures of your carved pumpkins, (with your favorite Hollows book,) you are entered in my give away of fifteen signed books: 5 HOLLOWS INSIDERS, and 10 hard cover THE WITCH WITH NO NAME. Rules, how to enter, and where to send your picture is here: All Treat, No Trick

The photos are already coming in, and I’ll be posting them here for everyone! Thanks, guys, for making my Halloween a more fun than a basket of burning bunnies! You’re the best!

Happy carving!

Kim

Mary’s Pumpkin

 

Laura’s pumpkins

 

Christina’s pumpkin

 

Sky’s pumpkin

 

Sara’s pumpkin

 

Mikela’s Pumpkin

2 Comments

Filed under Drama Box

All Treat, no Trick. Enter Hollows Contest

Yep, it’s that time of year again, and I am gearing up for another Halloween-themed contest! My first contest was way back in 2007, and as always, I’ll be shaking it up a little.

This year, in return for your pictures of your carved pumpkins, I’m giving away fifteen signed books: 5 HOLLOWS INSIDERS, and 10 hard cover THE WITCH WITH NO NAME.

If you haven’t seen THE HOLLOWS INSIDER, it is a one-of-a-kind world book, full-color, spells, recipes, descriptions, all laced together by the investigations of that guy that Rachel hit with the no-hair charm way back in Dead Witch Walking. It’s really amazing, and apart from the pictures that I got from you, the readers, it’s all my work, not a rehash of old stuff pulled from the series. It even glows in the dark.

But you want to know how to win one.

Sending me a photo means you want it on the internet. Ten winners will be chosen at random to receive a signed copy of THE WITCH WITH NO NAME, but the remaining five will be picked by me, according to what I feel like and how full the moon is, and will get a signed copy of THE HOLLOWS INSIDER. (If you want a WWNN, I can do that, instead.) Chances of winning depend upon number of entries, and there’s no cash value for the prizes. Due to the high cost of international shipping, I’m not able to open this to my readers outside the U.S. but you can send me your pumpkin picture for display if you want.

To eliminate the problem we’ve had in the past of people lifting pumpkin pictures from the net that are not their own, I’m going to insist that all eligible pictures include your favorite Hollows book next to your pumpkin–the one that made you cry, the one that made you laugh, the one that kept you up all night, the one that you can find. Fly your Hollows geek flag!

How to submit:

Carve your pumpkin(s)! Take one picture of it with your favorite Hollows book. Send it to me at kim_harrison@comcast.net with PUMPKIN in the subject line so I can find it easily. Tell me why that’s your favorite Hollows book if you want. That’s it. Please have pity on me and do not send me six pictures of your pumpkins. One shot will do. One entry per email, please, but you can include more than one pumpkin in your photo and I will consider them individually. I love group photos!

 

You may drop pictures on my FB or Twitter as well to show them off, but to enter for a chance for the books, you must send your picture to my personal email so I have an active email to contact you with for your address to send you a book if you win. (This is a must!!)

I’ll be posting all the pictures here at my blog from now to Halloween. Winners will be announced after Halloween. 🙂

Happy carving!

Kim

6 Comments

Filed under Drama Box

Velveteen rabbits on fire!

I found this short while answering a reader’s question yesterday. It’s from Al’s POV, which I tend to drop into when I’m digging something out of my subconscious, which makes me wonder if he’s closer to me than I’d like to admit. It was written a few years ago when Peri Reed’s story was ready to come out, and I was rightly concerned that my readers, who liked witches, vampires, and magic wouldn’t give THE DRAFTER a try because it looked so . . . not like the Hollows, a gentle plea to look outside the comfort zone to something different, yet still pretty close once you get the trappings of futuristic science off it.

Everyone worries about being replaced, even characters, apparently, and because this scribble breaks the fourth wall, it will never be more than a bit of fluff. If you’re familiar with my earlier work, you will recognize old friends in the “earlies” but if not, it still makes a fun, fast read.

But as we all know, that ending just won’t do. You can’t keep a good demon down. He’ll be back, along with Rachel, Ivy, Jenks, and the gang.

Enjoy!

Pages From The Back Room

     Al pushed the metal and frosted glass door open, the jingling tinkle hitting him the exact second the scent of mutton filled his nose. Squinting at the bohemian, dim lighting, he stepped into the rustic tavern from an interior door. His eyes flicked to the two teenagers at one of the narrow windows, both of them ignoring him as they focused on their cell phones and takeout cups of coffee, but the medieval trio sitting before the second window looked up, acknowledging him.

He’d seen the young woman in her blue homespun dress before, that bird on her shoulder and that middle-class artisan at her side. Today, she had her dandy with her as well, the charismatic man wearing something even Al would call overdone: lace and velvet, jeweled dagger at his hip. The love triangle was obvious. Almost as obvious as who she favored.

Old story, he thought as he nodded to them and shut the door behind himself, thinking the gleaming modern lines looked odd beside the rough hewn timbers. Trees and mountains were visible through the windows, making him feel as if he were intruding. His suit and tie looked out of place, even if the teenagers had cell phones and sneakers, and he wondered if today he might find the courage to ask the young woman with the bird if the odd color of her eyes was born in science or magic.

But none of the earlies had ever talked to him or any of his contemporaries.

His dress shoes clicked loudly on the wooden floor as he went to the empty, rough hewn bar. It was awkward being the only one from his peer group here, and he grunted in appreciation when the floor beneath his feet suddenly became smoother as The Commons finally responded to his presence. The walls, too, though still wood, were now paneled instead of bare logs. Though they all could—and did—come into The Commons whenever they felt like it, today was special. An arranged meeting.

The girl and boy sharing videos fist-bumped, clearly approving of the change. The boy looked common enough, and even with her purple-tinted hair, the girl wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. But the a hint of hazy light hovering over her reminded Al of an overgrown mystic.

Two sets of earlies, he thought, curious as the view outside the window shifted to plowed fields, ridged in their mechanical rows. It was unusual to have more than one group in The Commons at once, and he looked for the medieval assassin and her even more dangerous lover, not seeing them.

Taking a stool, he settled himself, picking at a protruding sliver on the bar. He didn’t have to wait long, and in a burst of noise, Ivy blew through the same door he had. Her long dark hair swinging, she jerked to a stop, lips pressed in annoyance as she found him here first. Immediately the room brightened, electric lights now showing at the ceiling. Al shifted as the rough stool under him became leather and mahogany. It looked more like a modern bar trying to be rustic now, and the trio of pre-industrial earlies sighed, clearly not appreciating it even as the younger group plugged their phones into a socket to recharge.

Al patted the stool beside him and Ivy made her way over, svelte and dangerous in her black pantsuit, her Asian heritage obvious.

“Crap, we’re doing this from your POV?” the woman said, her low voice still having the power to make Al’s thoughts turn to more earthly desires. Not that he’d ever touch her. Even now the woman had too much baggage. “Do you have any idea what I went through to get here first? Who do you think you are? Morgan Freeman?”

Al’s lips split into a wide grin. “Someone has to explain the shit we’re put through. And you weren’t given the gift of far sight as I was, my dear.” He reached for her hand, elegantly trying to kiss it.

Ivy yanked her hand away, and Al chuckled as she settled beside him. “I’m not your dear,” she said, gaze landing on the earlies. “What are they doing here?”

“No idea,” he said softly, not liking that tiny bird staring at him. A kestrel?

The door chimes jingled again. He’d swear they were the same ones at Junior’s, and he stifled a shudder as Jenks flew in.

“Hey! Hi!” Jenks shrilled as the dragonfly-winged, four-inch man darted in, a glittering ribbon of silver dust spilling from him. “Sorry we’re late, but Rachel was hell bent on not narrating.”

“You think?” the slim redhead said as she came in, looking relaxed in her trendy skirt, leggings, and snappy jacket. Trent trailed behind, his hand slipping from her waist as he double checked that the door was shut. “Someone else can do it for a while,” she muttered, her eyes going to the low ceiling and wooden motif. “Wow, why are we still in wood?” she blurted, her breath catching when she followed Ivy’s head nod to the earlies. “Oh,” she stammered, flushing as she gave Ivy a hug before sitting down on Al’s other side.

Trent immediately went behind the bar, his trim form bent double as he looked into the tiny fridge. “There’s enough of us here for soda, though,” he said encouragingly.

“Thank God for that,” Ivy said sarcastically, spinning her stool to put her back to the earlies.

Jenks’s dust settled as he landed on Trent’s shoulder, the two of them looking remarkably alike as they investigated the fridge. “Dude. How come we never get one with my name on it?” the pixy complained as Trent set four bottles on the bar, the rustic wood now a sleek granite.

A rich carpet scuffed under Al’s shoes as he resettled himself, appreciating the lack of mutton smell. Subdued chandeliers tinkled overhead, and cars were a soft hush of noise outside the windows. But no one would ever come in. It was all for show. The trio of medieval earlies had closed the blinds, shifting in their booth table to make room for the contemporary kids as they came over. Al’s eyes narrowed, watching them through the bar’s expansive mirror as it shimmered into existence. Something felt odd.

“Let me get that for you, Ivy,” Trent said, cracking her pop and pouring it into a squat glass of ice for her.

“Thank you,” she said, eyebrows high in question as she waved Jenks’s dust from her face, the impatient pixy darting back and forth as he waited for his share.

“Good God, Jenks,” Rachel said as the pixy waved his tiny mug about. “Give me a sec, will you?”

The banter felt familiar, and a content smile curved Al’s lips up as he looked at the pop bottle with his name on it. The cold was almost an ache against his hand, and his eyes smarted from the fizz as he took a gulp right from the chill plastic.
Breath held against the sting, he watched Jenks land on Rachel’s shoulder with his mini cup of pop. Behind them, that kestrel glared from the medieval babe’s shoulder. Turning slightly, Al focused on the glowing orb hovering over the teenagers, and his watering eyes narrowed. That’s curious.

But it had gone silent with far more than the enjoyment of a cold, fizzy drink. Trent was still behind the bar, his casual confidence and silk-lined suit making the subservient post anything but. Jenks belched, and the attentive man refilled his tiny cup from his own bottle.

“So . . .” Ivy said slowly. “Does anyone know anything about the newbies?”

Al set his bottle down, an unusual sliver of anxiety cutting between his thought and reason. Newbies. The ones who had taken their place. Forced them into retirement.

Rachel chuckled ruefully. “I don’t know why you’re complaining. I’m sick to death of saving the world. Again. And again. And again.”

“Yeah.” Jenks’s his wings blurred into motion even as he remained where he was on the salt and pepper shakers. “It doesn’t pay enough, and the world never thanks you.”

Trent clinked his bottle against Rachel’s glass. “Here, here.”

Her dark eyes pinched, Ivy made a face. “Like you weren’t the one she was saving it from half the time?”

A smile, not unusual but rare in its depth, came over Trent. “Things change,” he said, and then he blinked, startled when Rachel yanked on his tie, bringing him closer for a kiss.

“Oh, for fairy-loving farts,” Jenks complained as he took to the air to get out of their way. “Can’t you keep your lips off each other for even an hour?” But he quickly dropped back down to the pepper shaker when the bird across the room focused on him. Immediately Jenks sneezed, a burst of blue dust exploding from him.

Ivy dramatically waved it away before it could hit her drink, but Al slumped deeper atop his stool. He didn’t feel done yet. But there was little he could do. There was always someone new, younger and full of potential, clamoring for attention. That the hardest lessons were learned later in life never occurred to most people.

A sigh shifted his wide shoulders. The Turn take it. They were becoming earlies, and he couldn’t help but wonder what The Commons was going to become when this new crew began making an impact.

Rachel had gone quiet, eyes distant as she sipped her drink and thought her Rachel-ly thoughts. Knowing it had to hurt to go from star to remember-that-time-when, Al gave her hand a squeeze. She started, giving him a faint smile that lingered even as Trent intruded.

“Has anyone seen her yet?” Trent asked, leaning over the bar to shift Rachel’s hair behind an ear.

“Her who?” Ivy said, lost in her own thoughts.

Rachel glanced at the new door. The slab of metallic white metal had a glowing key pad next to it that Trent had ooed and ahhed over the first time he’d seen it. “Peri Reed,” she said softly, doing a good job of hiding her melancholy. “Has she been in The Commons yet?”

Ivy pushed an ice cube around with a black-manicured fingernail. “Not when I’ve been here, but I’ve seen Jack and Silas.” A sly smile came over her and she crossed her knees and leaned in over the bar. “Silas is . . . a big man,” she finished, almost sighing it.

Jenks laughed, the tinkling sound making the orb over the teenagers glow, and Rachel rolled her eyes at the woman’s obvious lust.

“Smart, too,” Al said, then softly added, “From what I’ve heard, anyway.”

“He’d have to be to keep up with Peri.” Rachel slumped. “I hear her phone is made of glass, and she can roll it up into a tube. What kind of spell does that?”

“It’s not magic, it’s science, love,” Al said as he reached out to her.

Trent bristled. “Hey, hey, hey,” he said, pushing Al’s thick, ruddy hand off of Rachel’s pale fingers. “I wouldn’t mind having her car though,” he added.

“Where would you plug it in?” Rachel teased Trent. “I hear it’s electric.”

Trent’s blond eyebrows rose. “Electric? Zero to sixty in 3.5 seconds is electric?”

Al turned to the soft steps as a wooden door creaked open and another pair of earlies came in, the pre-industrial assassins making a beeline to the group up front. The elegant woman hid her strength under a full skirt, but he knew the darts in her drawn-up hair were lethal. The man beside her had a hard slant in his eyes, clearly knowing how to manipulate people as well as, if not better, than Al himself. They’re all here, he thought, concerned. “Magic would be easier,” he said as the pair were taken in at the table like old friends.

“Bitching,” Jenks said, the new word rolling off his tongue slowly as if he was trying it out.

Ivy stared into her glass. “I hear she shops by programmed, interactive simulations that look like her.”

“Where’s the fun in that?” Rachel scoffed, but it was obvious she was intrigued. Or jealous, maybe.

“Science,” Al grumbled as he finished his drink. “What have we come to, boys and girls?”

“It’s a full circle,” Trent said as he poured half his bottle into Rachel’s glass. “It’s the same thing that saved both our people, Al, once you push aside the magic to what’s underneath fueling it.” His glance went past Al to the earlies. “And from what I can see, it always has been.”

Lips pressed sourly, Al pulled his gaze back from them. “I suppose. But it makes me nervous putting it right out in front like that. You watch. These newbies are not going to like us,” he said, the bitter taste of jealousy rising up hot and fast–shocking him. “They’re going to think we’re backward. Superstitious. Silly. They are going to roll in here with their fancy technology and turn The Commons into some kind of futuristic deli.”

“It won’t be that bad.” Ivy stretched to show off her lanky body, taunt with lean muscle. “After all, a good story, is a good story. The trappings of genre are just frosting to sweeten the bitter bite of the human condition.”

All snorted. “This coming from a vampire?” he said, then jumped when Rachel kicked his ankle.

“Hey!” Ivy barked, her quick temper showing. “It wasn’t vampirism. It was manipulation, child abuse, and drug-induced slavery disguised as vampirism. Get with it, Al.”

“Uh, guys?” Jenks said, the small pixy more watchful than a room full of Chihuahuas.

Ivy’s anger cut off with a startling quickness, and Al turned, following her surprised gaze. The earlies had stood and were coming forward, tankards of ale and paper cups of coffee in their hands.

“Umm,” Rachel fumbled as she slid off her stool, clearly caught off guard when the blond woman with the bird was shoved to the front, apparently their spokeswoman. Her shy smile and hidden confidence reminded Al of Ceri. He missed the arrogant, timid woman, but if you didn’t survive to the end, you never found your way to The Commons.

“Ah, hi?” Rachel said, and the woman flushed.

“Hi,” she said, her lyrical voice holding the uncatchable strength of the wind. “It’s been a year,” she said, her eyes shifting to take them all in. “We’d officially like to welcome you.”

“To The Commons?” Jenks said sarcastically.

The nobly-dressed man beside the comely woman grinned impishly. “To retirement!” he said loudly, curls shaking as he held his tankard high in salute.

As one, Al, Trent, Ivy, and Rachel slumped. Even Jenks’s dust shifted to a dull brown. Retirement. To be forgotten. To go fallow. To be lost.

“No,” the young woman said, taking Rachel’s hand and make her start in surprise. “You’re not forgotten. Not by those who hear you, find comfort, laugh, or worry for you. You did more than save yourself or the world,” she added, her golden eyes riveting.

“And you’re immortal now,” the common man on her other side said, his voice slow but holding a personal strength that could only be born in great suffering. “Real,” he said, and Ivy looked up, a sheen of tears in her eyes. “Like velveteen rabbits.”

“Velveteen rabbits on fire,” the teenager with purple hair said, and the boy with her laughed and mock punched her shoulder.

“We’re glad you’re here with us. Forever,” the woman with the bird said, and Rachel, her smile wan but true, clinked her glass of ice and pop against her thin-walled wooden tankard.

Suddenly the middle ground was full of cups, and tankards, and modern glasses full of melting ice as they were all extended into a circle of shared meaning. The collective shout of celebration hit Al like a slap, and he blinked fast, never having imagined that there would be more—here at the end, and he hid a smile as he watched Jenks, that bird, and the glowing orb all fronting each other suspiciously.
Conversations, new and eager, began to rise high as common ground was sought for and found, and Al pulled back to take it in and try to make sense of it. His eyes strayed to the new door, the green light softly glowing on the panel to show it was active, and he wondered who was going to come through it.

Perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.

15 Comments

Filed under Drama Box