Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sleep or the rescue of a vampire

Yay! Sleep, my novella for Cobblestone Press releases this month as part of The Vampire Oracle Series. In the excerpt below, Kai and his team have just defeated the Haitian witch doctor, Vixama, but their rescue of the vampire, Gabrielle, hasn’t gone according to plan. Enjoy!

“We’ve got Vixama, Ivor,” Devlin reported, looking Jamal over.

“Good job. The chopper’s on its way.”

Already, Kai could see the lights of the helicopter advancing over the dark fields.

“What about Gabrielle?” They couldn’t mean to just abandon her there.

“We’ve got to get Jamal back to base where he can get the medical attention he needs and quickly,” Devlin said, coming up to Kai and putting a hand on his shoulder. “There are a few others who are wounded too, but those of us who are able can stay and resume the search.”

“I can tell you where she is now, but if you’re down there and she breaks and runs we’ll be out of radio contact, and I won’t be able to help you,” Ivor broke in. “You’ll be on your own.”

“I’ll stay,” Kai said. “But, by myself. Nobody else.”

“What?” Devlin looked at him as if he was crazy.

“Why, Kai?” Ivor asked. “Devlin and his men are experienced in these situations.”

“Yes, but I know her.” Kai was desperate to make them understand. He had to do it alone. “I discovered her and I…I can’t explain it, but I know her.” He couldn’t tell them about the dreams. “I can do it. I can find her.”

“Devlin?” Ivor deferred to the commando’s judgment.

“We’ve captured Vixama, and the zombies who haven’t been eliminated are neutralized so there’s no danger on that front.” Devlin rubbed his chin. “As for the vampire, clearly, she is fearful of us. I think it might be a good idea to let him try on his own. One man is less threatening than several. She might respond better to him.”

“All right, then,” Ivor said, shouting to be heard over the noise of the helicopter’s descent. “That’s it, Kai. We’ll give you twenty-four hours, and then we’ll be back.”

“Thank you.” Kai shook Devlin’s hand, already impatient for them to be off.

“She’s cowering in a cell about twenty feet north from where you found her,” Ivor said as the helicopter rose back into the air. “Be careful, Kai. You’ve seen what she did to Jamal. Be very careful. Make no sudden movements. Avoid contact. Her long captivity could well have turned her mind. You don’t really know what you’re dealing with here. It may be fear or it may be worse.”

“She’s Gabrielle,” Kai replied, plunging back into the dark, chilliness of the citadel. “She was once a beautiful woman, who men desired and women envied.” He said the words aloud, as if repeating a mantra. “Jewels shone in her hair and on her fingers. She wore silks and satins from fabulous lands and ate only the choicest of meats.” Kai sensed Ivor’s worried puzzlement, but the other man remained quiet until a burst of static and then dead silence indicated he’d lost radio contact. “She was as beautiful and mysterious as a dark tropical moth. Her lips were designed for lovers’ kisses, her glances thrilled men’s hearts and stirred their longing.” It wasn’t the Song of Solomon, but it was the best he could do as he descended into the dungeon to look for the woman whose face and body had haunted his nights ever since he’d found out about her."

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