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An excerpt from The Res (work in progress)

@WritersRT #fantasy #policeprocedural

I have WAY too many works in progress. This one is an urban fantasy starring a spellcaster who works for the FBI in forensics, but, of course, has connections to a dark and powerful villain whom he must confront. Not too sure when this one will be ready for the world, but I’m crossing my fingers for this year. Here is the teaser, with links to work that is available right now below it:

          The Special Projects Unit of the FBI, while it did officially exist, did not do what it was officially designated to exist for. Its handful of agents had jurisdiction wherever they chose to claim it, and many a field agent for other divisions had been angered by their flagrant disregard of standard protocols, not to mention actual laws. Since their cases came to court with a rarity approaching that of the unicorn, their authority had yet to be challenged legally.

          Bill Paris was one of twenty-four agents who worked in forensics for Special Projects, but he was well-known to everyone within the unit because of his accidental relationship to a subject of a large measure of the unit’s resources. He, himself, had been such a subject for many years of his life. He wasn’t entirely sure that investigation was concluded, but he acted most days as if it was. It made his job easier.

          The day before, he had been asked into the Unit Director’s office and told that he was being given the murder case of his second cousin, Rachel Williams. It was routine for a forensics agent to be assigned to a crime committed on or by a close relative, so they quickly grew immune to the shock of their kin’s mishaps and misdeeds. Most of Bill’s assignments, however, came through his relationship to one particular criminal; it wasn’t very often that he was related to the victim.

          Today, he was working on the report detailing what he and his partner, Agent Milam, had found out. Rachel had been killed by a death spell from her uncle, Lucas Marquette. When she noticed that he was in her apartment, he had disarmed her by blasting away her necklace, which she used as her magical focus. He had asked her, cryptically, about some individual, doubtlessly related to his decades-long war against the mortal-aligned governments of the spellcasting reservations. Rachel, like so many other spellcasters who had left the reservation for DC, worked for the federal government, and probably knew someone useful to Marquette. When she refused, he used the death spell.

          Per protocol, Bill listed the spells he had cast during the investigation and hit the print button on the word processor. As the pages ground out of his printer, he leaned back and stretched out. Seeing his grandfather again had caused a large spike in his blood pressure, and he wanted to massage out that familiar tingle in his arms. He really had thought that the Thunderbird had finished off Grandpa Lucas, but that damned protection spell didn’t seem to have any limitations.

          He pulled the pages off of the printer and marched over to the Unit Director’s office. Milam caught up with him just before he knocked. “We’re done, huh?”

          “Probably. Grandpa’s beyond our pay grade.”

          “That’s not what I’ve been hearing,” Milam said, lowering his voice. “Samson told me that you took care of him the last time he surfaced.”

          Bill’s face went blank. “It was a long time ago, before I moved to forensics.”

          “Davis’d probably still let you keep working it if you want.” He tried to read Bill’s expression, but it was useless. “But, I guess you don’t want.” Milam’s disappointment was palpable. “C’mon, I’ve never had a case this big. All we ever do is figure out what some drunk caster threw on a mortal he got pissed at and hand it over to enforcement. Lucas Marquette is historic, Bill.”

          Bill could smell the adrenalin rushing through Milam. He sighed, deeply weary, and said, “Yeah, Milam, he’s historic. A big part of the history of this unit. You know why he’s such a big part? Because he’s responsible for eighty-five percent of the deaths in the line of duty that’ve been suffered by this unit.” For once, his unreadable features betrayed a flash of anger. “I’ve been a part of too many attempts to take him in, Milam. I’ve watched too many people die because of him. I don’t want to watch any more.” He pushed past Milam and knocked on the director’s office door.

          “Come in,” the director called out, and Bill left Milam behind.

          “Here’s the report on the Williams murder, sir.” Bill laid the papers on the cluttered desk in front of him and turned to leave.

          “Just a minute, Paris,” Director Davis said, stopping him.

          Bill took a deep breath and hissed, “Milam already talked to you.”

          Davis nodded. “He reminded me that you have been the most successful agent we’ve ever sent against your grandfather. That’s not even counting your confrontations with him prior to joining the bureau. Christ, we’ve only caught him once without you.” The director barked a small laugh. “There’s advantages to being the one man he can’t kill.”

          “But,” Bill hastily said, “what if he captures me again and… well, we don’t want a repeat of that last time.” That gave Davis pause, and Bill thought that maybe he’d dodged this bullet.

          “You broke him,” Davis said, trying to reassure himself more than Bill. He swept a hand over his balding head and composed himself. “You broke him, and the Thunderbird made him disappear for - how long has it been? Six years?”

          “Seven.”

          “Seven years. Time we used to research and build better defenses against him.”

          “They don’t seem to have worked very well,” Bill said, pointing at his report. “Rachel’s dead.”

          “Addison says that a couple of Allies are being negotiated with that have the power to break his protection spell. Without that, he’s as vulnerable as any other caster.”

          “Allies,” Bill muttered. “The only Allies with that much oomph don’t even care about human beings anymore. You can talk to them for a century before they decide to do something.”

          “Which is why we need you to buy us more time, Paris.” Director Davis stood. He was a little bit taller than Bill, but his gut and easy smile rendered any attempt he made at intimidation worthless. Instead, he walked around his desk and put an arm over Bill’s shoulder. “Every year, every day that you keep him out of commission is another day we can use to convince these Allies to help us, Paris. I know you’ve been here before, and I know it all seems pointless to you, but you’ve got to take the long view on this, son.” He patted Bill on the back. “You’re the best one for this job, Paris. We need you. Will you do it?”

          Bill dropped his head. He hated it when the higher-ups made a fuss about him, especially when it was in order to send him on dangerous assignments. But, he had to agree with the logic. As far as Special Projects knew, Lucas Marquette was unable to kill Bill Paris. Bill knew better, but that was a secret he’d kept from everyone else at the Bureau, and he wasn’t about to reveal it today. “All right, sir,” he said, defeated. “Do we have any leads on my grandfather’s current location?”

          “I had the boys in surveillance scry for him, but you know how well he can hide. Last intel we had in the field was that he was based in the Selkirk Mountains.”

          “M’Quetsuway,” Bill said, nodding. “Just popped away long enough to kill his niece, then back home. She must have been important to him; he usually doesn’t like to stray that far from a ley line.”

          Davis picked up the report and flipped a page. “She lived outside of the DC enclave?”

          “She didn’t like to socialize with other spellcasters.”

          “Hmm.” He looked through a couple more entries on the report and asked, “What were her sentiments towards him?”

          “Not sympathetic, as far as I know. He doesn’t have much support from the immediate family. My aunt actually kept in touch with her more than I did, so she’d know.” That reminded him that he needed to call her. He hadn’t broken the news to her yet.

          “You should speak with her about Miss Williams, then,” the director said, echoing what Bill was thinking. “If your aunt knew her well, it could give us a good clue to what Marquette wanted her for.”

          “Whatever it was, he’d talked to her about it before.” Bill took the transcript he’d made of the conversation between Williams and Marquette and placed it on top of the rest of the report. “They didn’t mention it specifically when he popped in to kill her. He just said, ‘Who is there for you’, and she told him, ‘No one to help you this time’.”

          “Then he killed her?”

          Bill shook his head. “He destroyed her focus, first, so that she couldn’t do anything to him. Coward.” He smiled, the left side of his face lifting in a grin. “She insulted him for a few seconds afterwards.” The grin dropped. “Then, he killed her.”

          “OK.” Davis sat down and shuffled through a few papers from the pile scattered across his desk. “I’m gonna get Milam running through her coworkers here in DC, finding out who she was friends with. You find out what you can from your aunt, then head to M’Quetsuway and start rooting out Marquette.” He held out a form. “Need a travel voucher?”

          “No, I’ll just hop out there.”

          “Good. I’ll send Milam out once he’s run the trail dry here.” The director raised an eyebrow. “He’s never been on a res before, so try to keep him out of trouble.”

          “I’ll do my best.”

          Davis regarded Bill for a few seconds, then said, “You don’t have to do it alone this time, Paris. We can back you up.”

          “I had backup in ninety-nine, too.” There was only a hint of bitterness in his voice as he said it, but Director Davis’s lips tightened.

          “We made some tactical mistakes then that we won’t make again.”

          “For Milam’s sake, I hope not.” Bill stood and opened the door. “I’ll contact you once I’m back in M’Quetsuway.” He walked out of the office without letting Davis reply, and bumped into Milam. “You got your wish, Art.” Milam’s face brightened with a smile, and Bill felt his heart sink. His expression was bland as ever, though. “You have some work to do here, but then you’re on the next plane to Seattle. You’ll need to call me for help getting to the reservation; it doesn’t appear on any maps.”

          “Sweet,” Milam said, unable to contain his excitement. “I don’t want you to worry about me, Bill. I’ve done a lot of reading up on Marquette since last night, and I’ll have everything memorized by the time I get to Washington. We are gonna own that old man.”

          Bill shook his head and almost smiled at his partner. “OK, Milam. Just try to remember that real life isn’t always reflected in the reports.”

          “Right, right.”  He turned to run back to his cubicle, then skidded himself to a halt. “Are you leaving right now?”

          “After lunch. I’ve got to make a call first.”

          Milam narrowed his eyes at Bill. “You’re not gonna ditch me, right? Do cell phones work in M’Quetsuway?”

          “Yeah, they do, and no, I’m not.” Bill felt the blood pressure rise even higher. “Do me a favor, Milam, and try not to look so much like a fed when you get out there, all right? It’ll make both our jobs easier.”

          “Sure,” Milam hastily said, a little crestfallen. “I won’t embarrass you, Bill.”

          “I’m more worried about the random spells that’ll be cast on you once you get made. The spillover from those alone could kill me.” He strode away towards his cube.

          “You’re kidding, right, Bill?” Milam called after him. He looked over at one of the spellcasters in a nearby cubicle. “He is kidding, right?”  Milam gulped when the caster slowly shook his head.

HOPEWhat if you could have fame, fortune or love - but each was mutually exclusive? Johnny Crane is a young Texan living in New York City in the 1990’s, trying to break into the worlds of publishing and acting and trying to navigate the world of love without breaking his heart. But his walls are papered with rejection, and his loneliness is only eased by his best friend, a fellow Texan in the big city. He floats at the edge of success, but finds himself unable to land. When he is tempted with the culmination of each of his dreams, he sees no way to combine them. Can he hope to find a way, or must he choose?

Barnes & Noble (Nook)   Amazon (Kindle)   Smashwords (Any ereader) Lulu (print edition)

WARP: When the alien Mlosh landed on earth in the 18th century, the human world warped around their presence. Now, some humans want them gone - and they are using the Mlosh’s own tools against them.

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Smashwords  iTunes  Lulu

BEFORE/AFTER: A lottery winner, a divorcee and a conspiracy theorist awaken after the unexpected victory of John Kerry in the 2004 election to a world that has changed drastically. Together, they will fight to do what is right.

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Smashwords  Lulu

3rd M: The talk show of the 3rd Millennium! Meet aliens, matter transportation accidents, over-assertive clones and more in this sitcom pilot screenplay - EXCLUSIVE TO KINDLE!

Amazon

Hope by Robert A. Taylor for the Nook

Filed under magic fantasy excerpt

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An excerpt from a work in progress (Chelsea Perkins trilogy)

@WritersRT #fantasy

This is from the beginning of a work in progress that I hope to have finished for release later this year. It’s going to have to be re-titled, because I named it The Tree Of Life, (Damn you Terrence Malick! I thought of it first!), and it’s the first book in a trilogy starring the main character, a young girl named Chelsea Perkins. Links to buy other stuff of mine follow it - enjoy.

    A face peered into her room.

    She almost screamed, but something about the face was familiar. It was a man’s face, with a small, trim beard and dark eyes shining behind a hook of a nose, and a mouth full of bright teeth that were now smiling at her. “Chelsea, let me in,” the face was saying. “I’m your father.”

    Chelsea blinked. Yes, now that she thought about it, the man did look like the few pictures that had managed to survive her mother’s wrath, and her own eyes were practically clones of his. But, she didn’t quite trust that. “How do I know that?”

    “I know your name.”

    “You could be some creepy stalker who’s heard my mom call me.”

    He seemed a little non-plussed at that, then recovered himself. “I named you after the president’s daughter.”

    Although that could have just been a good guess, she was convinced enough. She got out of bed and walked over to the window. She threw aside the pink, girly curtain that her mother had decorated the window with and that she detested with deep and sincere passion, and opened the window. Mr. Perkins crawled inside and opened his arms to her for a hug. He lowered them a moment later after seeing the look on her face. “I suppose I deserve that,” he said.

    “You suppose?” She didn’t even try to keep the sarcasm from her voice.

    “Yeah, well…” He looked around the room, trying to gather his thoughts, and pulled the chair out from her desk and sat down. She sat down on the edge of her bed. “Look, honey, there’s a lot we need to talk about, but I don’t think we can do it here without waking up your mother. I don’t think she’d take very kindly to me coming through your window in the middle of the night.”

    “Why didn’t you come to the front door? During the day? About 12 years ago?”

    He winced. He was clearly uncomfortable about abandoning her, which made Chelsea brighten a little bit. She had fantasized about her reunion with her father for years. It usually involved face-slapping, tearful apologies, and promises of vast inheritances. For a few years there had been ponies. It had never involved him barging through her window in the middle of the night.

    “I’m not really a front-door kind of guy, Chelsea, and I needed to see you when your mother wouldn’t interfere.” He looked nervously over at the door to her bedroom. “Look, can you meet me at the waffle place on 6th tomorrow after school? I can talk to you about everything then.”

    Chelsea crossed her arms. This was too weird. “If you can’t talk about it now, I don’t think I need to hear it.”

    “Chelsea, honey, please. If your mom hears, there’ll be a restraining order on me faster than you can say ‘police brutality’. Just meet me tomorrow, ok?”

    She sighed. “This better be good.”

    He smiled brightly. “Not necessarily good; but important, yeah.” He stood, walked over to her and kissed her on the forehead. She wasn’t prepared for that, and it made something catch in her throat for a minute. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then. Don’t be late, all right?”

    “I won’t, dad.” She chastised herself for sounding so dorky. She got a grip on herself and gave him a surly, “Bye.”

    “Goodbye.” He walked over to the window and lowered himself out. “Don’t forget. It’s really important. I love you.” He blew her a kiss, closed the window and then was gone.

    It wasn’t until she was almost asleep that she thought about the fact that their apartment was on the third floor and she hadn’t seen him using a ladder.

Here is other work of mine that is currently available:

HOPEWhat if you could have fame, fortune or love - but each was mutually exclusive? Johnny Crane is a young Texan living in New York City in the 1990’s, trying to break into the worlds of publishing and acting and trying to navigate the world of love without breaking his heart. But his walls are papered with rejection, and his loneliness is only eased by his best friend, a fellow Texan in the big city. He floats at the edge of success, but finds himself unable to land. When he is tempted with the culmination of each of his dreams, he sees no way to combine them. Can he hope to find a way, or must he choose?

Barnes & Noble (Nook)   Amazon (Kindle)   Smashwords (Any ereader) Lulu (print edition)

WARP: When the alien Mlosh landed on earth in the 18th century, the human world warped around their presence. Now, some humans want them gone - and they are using the Mlosh’s own tools against them.

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Smashwords  iTunes  Lulu

BEFORE/AFTER: A lottery winner, a divorcee and a conspiracy theorist awaken after the unexpected victory of John Kerry in the 2004 election to a world that has changed drastically. Together, they will fight to do what is right.

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Smashwords  Lulu

3rd M: The talk show of the 3rd Millennium! Meet aliens, matter transportation accidents, over-assertive clones and more in this sitcom pilot screenplay - EXCLUSIVE TO KINDLE!

Amazon

Hope by Robert A. Taylor for the Nook

Filed under fantasy young adult excerpt tree of life

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Excerpt from a work in progress

I hope to have this done for an April release date. I’m working on a horror novel based off of one of the more extensive timelines from my old Today In Alternate History web site. It’s a sort of Cthulhu-meets-the-cave-paintings-of-Lascaux story, and people enjoyed it when it first appeared on TIAH. This is from the beginning of the book:

1940

 

Henri slid down the side of the small ravine and hid himself under the bank. Marcus had heard him come this way, but he was certain that the older boy hadn’t seen him. He smothered the giggles that were almost uncontrollably bursting forth from his mouth and snuck his way a little further down the muddy bank. He almost tripped on Xavier, who cursed at him in a sharp whisper. “Merde, Henri! Watch where you’re putting those big feet.”

"Pardon," Henri whispered back. They both silenced themselves as they heard Marcus’s stomping feet come up to the side of the ravine they were hiding in.

"I’ll find you any second now," Marcus cried out in a loud voice. "I know these woods better than anyone." The slide of a little mud over the side accompanied the unmistakable sound of Marcus’s backside thudding into the dirt above them, and the two younger boys nearly burst from having to contain their laughter. "You’ll see. I know everything here." They heard him stumble off in a direction that was not where they were at, and relaxed. After the noise of his passage faded completely away, they felt safe enough to talk again.

"Where’s Philippe?" Henri hadn’t seen him hide, but had seen some tracks veering off towards the small hills.

"I think he went to the caves," Xavier said. Henri didn’t feel brave enough to hide over there; the stories that the older children told about the caves were enough to keep him away. Philippe obviously hoped that Marcus felt the same way.

"I hope he doesn’t get lost. You know we’re not supposed to go in there. Sondrine’s father beat her blue when she just went in one of the caves last month."

"He’ll be all right." Xavier looked around at the ravine, then stood up and craned his neck over the edge. "Hey, do you know where we are? I’m not sure which way the village is from here."

"You just follow the ravine back to the south and take a right from that big rock. It takes you straight back into the town."

"You’re sure?"

"I’m sure."

Xavier sat back again and breathed in deeply. The air was filled with the crispness that the advent of autumn brought, and it invigorated him. “Come on, let’s go find Philippe.”

Henri was highly put out at that suggestion. “What for? This is a good hiding spot.”

"I just want to make sure he’s all right."

Xavier looked concerned, and Henri couldn’t come up with a good enough reason not to, so they both slunk off towards the caves, head swiveling around every few seconds to see if Marcus was about to leap on them.

Most of the trees in the small forest still had their leaves, but enough had begun falling that their feet made a constant crunch as they strode along, completely negating their efforts at stealth. After realizing that they were being as quiet as a marching band, they gave up sneaking and moved towards the caves as quickly as they could.

The small hills that held the caves were not very impressive. You could easily miss them if you didn’t know they were there; they looked for all the world like giant green mounds. For those who knew where to look, the mounds revealed their porous innards, which the young people of Montignac had been told never to explore. Some of the adults went so far as to say the caves ate children, but most just sensibly told their youth that it was easy to get lost, and curiosity had not driven too many to test these claims.

Henri and Xavier approached one of the cave entrances now, one they had both peeked into many times, but had never been in. There had been several dares, but the courage had never been summoned up to face that darkness. Now, they both stood at the mouth and called in quietly for Philippe.

They both nearly jumped out of their skin when they heard him shout, “I’m over here!” He was at a different entrance than they were used to, one they hadn’t even known existed. “Come on, this one has something on the walls.” He sounded terribly excited, not frightened, so the two other boys hurried over to him. Philippe, the thinnest of them all, was covered in mud and dust, with a leaf here and there as garnish. He was holding a stout stick that he had stuck a flaming bunch of brush on – a very rudimentary, dangerous torch. “Vite, vite,” he encouraged them. “Somebody’s been drawing on the walls.”

They followed him into the cave, and stood in the darkness for a moment to let their eyes adjust. Once they did, Philippe motioned down a passageway. “This way.” They stepped carefully, because the rock under their feet was slippery. The torch that Philippe was holding spluttered and gave off only enough light to keep them from tripping over each other, and air was oppressively still. They were all uncomfortable, but after several minutes of twisting and turning, Xavier had had enough.

"Zut, Philippe, where are you taking us?"

"It’s just a little bit further," Philippe said, looking around. The mildly confused look on his face did little to instill confidence in his companions. "I swear."

Henri patted Xavier on the shoulder and said, “Don’t worry, there weren’t that many turns to get down here. We can find our way back.” It was a total lie, but it seemed to make Xavier feel better, and they pressed on.

Finally, when even Philippe seemed to be about to give up hope, he announced, “Ah! This is it!” He moved slowly over to the wall of the cave and almost touched his makeshift torch to the rock.

There was a sharp intake of breath from Xavier and Henri as they involuntarily stepped back from the mouth of the creature on the wall before them. This was followed by nervous laughter as they realized it was nothing more than a painting of a bear. They stood with noses nearly pressed against the cave wall as Philippe shone his light around at the myriad images that had been painted there.

On the one wall alone, there were great hunts with bows and spears, animals as much as ten times the size of the little men who were hunting them, a spread of hands in various colors; it was all too much to take in, especially with the tiny amount of light they had with them. For some reason, though, the light increased as they were watching…

"Got you!"

The three boys screamed. Xavier nearly fainted. Marcus laughed so hard at their discomfiture that he nearly dropped the torch he was carrying, which would have been bad for them all, because Philippe did drop his, and it immediately extinguished itself. “Zut alors, Marcus,” Henri strangled out, “don’t ever do anything like that again!”

"What is this place?" Marcus had lost all interest in their game now and was gazing at the wall in fascination. "What is that?"

"Paintings," Philippe said, kicking at his torch. "I think they must be from a long time ago, too. Point your torch at this one." Marcus obliged, and they all looked at a portrait of a creature that looked vaguely like an elephant, but with far too much fur. "That’s a mastodon," Philippe told them in a hushed tone. "They’re extinct. Cavemen used to hunt them."

The boys all looked around the cave again, wonder in their eyes at the age of what they stood in. Henri was the first to recover his voice, and asked them, “Do you think we should tell someone about this?”

Marcus grew excited at the suggestion. “Mais oui,” he said. “They’ll put our pictures in the newspaper.” He looked at his small, pitiful torch. “Perhaps we can get some decent light in here, as well.”

Henri eyed Marcus’s dying flame and said, “We should get out of here now, while we can still see.” The other boys agreed, and they threaded their way back through the passages as quickly as they could, Marcus holding his hand in front of the flame to protect it from the wind of their passage.

Before they could see the cave’s entrance, though, the light flickered and went out, plunging them all into pitch blackness. They whimpered and gathered in close together as Marcus searched in his pockets for a match. The scratch of it igniting brought light back to them, and they all breathed a little more easily.

That is, until they heard another scratching sound from behind them. “What was that?” Xavier made no attempt to try to sound brave, and none of the others even thought of ridiculing him for it.

"Vite," Marcus said, hurrying ahead with the torch. The other boys scrambled to keep up, their hearts pounding in their chests and lungs aching with the need to breathe the fresh air outside.

The cave’s entrance was the most welcome point of light any of them had ever seen, and they dashed for it as if Hell itself were at their heels chasing them. Marcus was the first out, casting his now-dead torch to the ground and flinging himself away from the cave as he was followed, in turn, by Philippe, Henri, and finally the terrified Xavier. They all collapsed on the ground, sucking in air and watching the cave as if they expected some horrifying beast to hurl itself out after them.

Nothing happened, though, and the light of day soon relieved the terror they had all been feeling. “I think Xavier wet himself,” Marcus said, prompting peals of laughter from all of them, even Xavier. “I know I did,” he added, rolling on the ground and guffawing.

After they recovered themselves sufficiently to where they felt capable of walking away from the hills without someone watching their back, they headed back to town. Henri had convinced them to pay a call on the editor of Montignac’s paper as soon as they walked into town. “I just hope the Nazis let him publish this,” he said mournfully.

"It’s not like we’re resistance fighters," Xavier said. "Why wouldn’t they?"

"They’re strange people," Henri said, looking at their village, where he could see the swastika flying over the city hall. "You never know what they’re going to do."

Filed under Alternate History horror excerpt work in progress Lascaux cave drawings Montignac Cthulhu