Cian stopped typing and picked up the clipped newspaper article again. It was a review of the newest Peter Dark novel, The Stranger Inside of Me. It was a very favorable review. He read it again and as he did the corners of his mouth rose. He was pleased. Peter was pleased also. He had said as much in the note he had included with the review. The note had been brief and to the point in Peter's no nonsense manner.
Here's the feature from the Times' Book Review. Get ready for the next. Will send source material/etc. Soonest possible. Setting? Your old haunt, D.C.? "Bad" is Masai were-demon. Good shapechanger story. Pretends to be friend, kills prey by ripping apart victims chest and devouring still beating heart (and liver if woman). Leaves rest. Artifact found in Kenya (yours truly) suggests legend at least 5,000 years old. Only way to kill - grab tongue and pull demon inside out.
Start the machine, will see you in two weeks or so. Have to go to Prague to see a collector.
Am pleased, congrats,
Cian put the article down on top of the note and started typing again. The source materials for his and Peter's latest book had arrived in the morning mail. He immediately devoured it and had decided to start out with what he referred as a "mood piece" for it. It would set the tone for what he wanted the book to be like. He had started this from the viewpoint of a poet living in D.C. loosely based on a writer friend of his who had sadly died of pneumonia a few years ago. It was his own way of honoring the dead.
The perfect day flowed over him relentlessly. The beautiful bright light of the sun washed away the Winter shadows that had obscured his broken city.
Spring had come the the District of Columbia. The homeless and the unemployed walked the streets and felt the terrible vitality of life bearing down on them. They dejectedly bore their fearfulness, knowing that soon enough Summer would come, bring it's killing heat.
He watched them as always, with hooded eyes and tight lips. He watched it all; the kisses, the muggings, the heartaches, the fights, the births and the tears. He watched the pain of it all. He watched and studied. He watched and he wrote.
The choreography of life. The crazed polka of hate. The mad jig of love, The clumsy waltz of apathy. They all had a a place here in the city. From his stoop, beer in one hand, pencil in the other and a pad on his knee he watched the stream of life sliding by.
As always he kept apart from it.
He was not part of the equation. Not part of the process. He was the watcher, the scribe. He was not of this place, nor of any place. He felt himself to be a self-contained living machine. One that was dropped somewhere and whose function was to observe all that happened around it, collate the data, encode it and then spew forth a ticker tape of poetry.
Jericho was 29 years old and a poet. Jericho had been born in Southeast D.C., but had escaped to sunny Berkley, California on a full scholarship. Until the accident. Now Jericho was missing his left leg below the knee and back in D.C.
Jericho had few friends.
Sometimes Jericho thought that he might not be a complete person. Sometimes Jericho thought he might be a little crazy.
Those were the times that he often saw things that didn't make sense. those were the times that he would retreat, the times he would hole up in his apartment to drink cheap wine and smoke hash until the panicky feelings would go away.
The thing that he saw that Tuesday made him believe it might be time to whole up again. The thing that he saw was a man who had stepped into the alley across from him and come right back out, but as a woman.
It only took two seconds.
He didn't think that was right. He didn't think he had made a mistake. He knew that alley. He had been staring at it all morning. It was a dead end, no way in or out.
Jericho was scared that he had imagined it. Then he was scared that he hadn't imagined the whole thing. Scared because the man/woman had been looking right at him when he/she came out. And she had been smiling at him. A smile filled with preternaturally white and large teeth.
It was not a kind smile.