I’m going to give you a sample of my work to read.
Just one chapter. It’s from way later in the whole big damn story, waaay down the track in book 3, but I’ve been working on it lately, so that’s what you’re getting. For context, well, I won’t spoil too much. This works pretty well on its own. Jessica is a psychic sniper, but she can’t exactly use her sniping skills in this situation, so it’s psychic powers to the max. Which is cool because she’s been growing in her powers, over the course. A running joke – at least it would be if anyone knew – is that she learns a new power every book. Not sure what she learns in this one, to tell the truth.
Anyway, that’s enough talk. On with the sample.
* * * * *
Rorschach’s Journal. October 12th, 1985: Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout “Save us!”… and I’ll whisper “no.”
~Rorschach, Watchmen, by Allan Moore, 1986.
Jessica stepped out of the building. Her energy was returning. So she went for a walk to gather some info. She asked random strangers about where she could find a dire wolf’s fang, and was directed eventually to a shop in the Valley.
Fortitude Valley. It had to be the Valley. The accumulation of the city’s filth in the red light district, full of homeless people begging for money or drugs or else antagonising people; prostitutes and sex shops and strip clubs; gangs of kids looking for trouble. And that was just during the day.
Jessica didn’t see a single cop anywhere, not even walking down Brunswick Street (dodging five homeless people and walking right on past two prostitutes). She thought of one of her heroes, the uncompromising Rorschach from Watchmen, and what he’d say about the Valley and all its accumulated filth and blood and greed.
Not to mention the sex and violence. You couldn’t forget the sex and violence.
She found her way to the shop in question, an occult pawnshop named Lazarus’ Lair. Yeah right, she’d thought. Except she was psychic, and they liked psychics at places like this. Maybe this wouldn’t be that bad. Then again, this was the Valley.
‘Authentic Riftwares’ the sign read. Rachel and Sarah might like this, she thought. Even though it’s in the middle of Hell.
She stepped through the portal to a world of occult paraphernalia, from crystals to charms, beads and bracelets, obscure books, incense, bones and teeth, everything for both your hippies and your Satanists. Of course, people only laughed at that stuff Before. Then the mages and monsters appeared and people realised that evil could harm you, so they spent big on protection wards. Salt, iron, paint—for the pentagrams—and all sorts of powders and chemicals to keep evil at bay.
The middle aged woman at the counter looked up at her entrance.
“You need anything specific?” she asked.
“Do you have dire wolf fangs?” Jess asked, making a note to avoid this place in further ventures.
“In the monsters section,” the unfriendly woman said, pointing, and busied herself again.
Jess went into that section and looked through the items on display. All kinds of monsters, all kinds of trophies—teeth, bones, scales, fur, claws… she found the dire wolf section, first trying under ‘d for dire’ then ‘w for wolf’. There was a label on the shelf, but the section was empty. She scanned around for any kind of supply, anything that might indicate they had more not on the shelf yet, but found none.
“I think you’re all out!” Jess called. The shopkeeper came over to inspect the shelves herself.
“Well, that’s too bad.”
“Can you tell me where I might find one?”
“You could always hunt one down. But you won’t find many in Australia, what with monster-rifts being specifically linked by common factors.”
“Like climate?” Jess asked.
“Ah. So, I can’t get any around here.”
“Just sold the last one yesterday.”
Jess pursed her lips. Very, very not-good.
If she didn’t get the dire wolf fang, Jarred would die. Simple as that.
So she opened up her mind, and focused her will into reading the older lady’s mind. A year ago, Jess would have been pressed to read only what was currently on someone’s mind. But her power had grown a lot since then, and now she could read a mind on rewind as well as on play. So she rewound the woman’s mind. It wasn’t easy, but Jess found she could manage about a day or so. She rewound to when the woman sold the fang to a probably-roided-up bodybuilder type, likely a drug dealer.
She couldn’t check the address on the man’s ID—they only asked for ID at second hand places—but she could hold the picture of the man in her mind, and search for him on foot.
“Well, thanks anyway,” she said at last. The other woman had gone back to whatever it was she was doing, so Jess exited the store and began walking around Fortitude Valley, searching minds for any images of the man in her mind, a slab of meat with a sloping forehead and muscles upon other muscles. That was kind of generic, but his mismatched eyes were a clear giveaway.
Then she stumbled across a boy drawing in an art journal. And an idea occurred to her.
“Hey, what’re you drawing?” she asked, as polite as she could. The boy looked up.
“Aliens,” he said.
“Mind if I see?”
“Well, okay…” he reluctantly passed her the journal. It was impressive. The amount of detail and realism was uncanny, even on an alien.
“Can you do humans?”
“Sure, flip back, you’ll see some.” She did. His humans were just as good.
“Listen, I need a favour. See, I need to find this man, and it’s very hard not being able to show people what he looks like. But I have a damn good memory, and I can remember exactly what he looks like. So, if I describe him to you, could you draw him?”
“I guess. Won’t come free, though.”
“How about I hook you up with Charles Kingsford Smith?” she asked, placing a $20 note on the surface.
“Okay, what’s he look like?”
Ten minutes later Jessica Mirani had a pretty decent picture of a man from her mind. Now she could go around showing his picture, a stark likeness, asking people if they’d seen him. Eventually someone gave her directions… and a warning. Jess thanked them and gave them ten bucks.
Then she followed the directions to the apartment—on the first floor of a seriously expensive building—and scouted it out from all around the building. The fire escape was just a jump away from a balcony attached to the apartment she needed, so she leaped across and landed silent as a cat on the concrete outside the glass door.
Inside, a group of six men—as best as she could tell from this angle—lay or sat around the lounge room, unconscious. A cartoon blared from the gigantic TV. Drug addicts. Dealers. The scum of the Earth. That was the gist of the warning. Drug dealers were a whole different breed of bad guy. She wasn’t sure if she could handle them on her own. But if she was very, very careful, she wouldn’t have to.
The door slid open easily, making exactly zero noise. She forced herself not to celebrate that minor win, and slowly, carefully moved through the drug dealers. They snored, and the smell of the drugs almost overpowered her, but she moved along regardless, because her leader’s life depended on her. Her heart beat so hard she feared it would wake them up, however.
This sneaking about reminded her of the mannequin job Tesla Squad took a fateful year ago. They had to sneak through a den of sleeping goblins at one point, and that scared her to her bones. This was no different, except that this time it was tattoo-covered drug dealers beefed up on steroids. And the drugs she could smell reminded her that these were the scum of the universe.
She found the dire wolf fang on the mantelpiece in pride of place. Prestige. Of course they felt like they should have the status such a thing brought the owner. It was at this point that she thought that maybe this was a bad idea.
But she pressed on. For Jarred.
She crept up to the mantle and examined the stand it was on. The thing was twice the size of a normal wolf’s. That made sense, dire wolves being larger than ordinary wolves. Not that wolves were actually that big, really. She’d seen actual wolves, and they were amazing creatures, especially for something their size. She knew the facts about wolves, that they didn’t attack humans unless provoked—generally because of humans getting too close—but as for dire wolves, the data wasn’t as clear.
She carefully lifted the thing off the stand and turned around to find one of the drug dealers standing there, eyes red, Magnum .45 pointed at her. Time seemed to freeze as neither moved.
“Who the fuck are you?” the gunman asked.
Jessica’s grip on the tooth tightened. Could she use it like a dagger? Probably not—it’d need a handle. And a dagger was no match for a gun, unless she could throw it before the drug dealer fired. But her aim would have to be spot-on. And she didn’t think any human was faster than a speeding bullet, to borrow a certain phrase. Except maybe Jarred.
Psychic power it was, then.
“I’m nobody,” she said. “Nice to meet you.”
“Nice to fucking meet you too, Nobody. Now, hand that over.”
“What, this thing?”
“Hey, who’s the slut?” Another drug dealer had woken and stood up.
“We got some hookers in here?” Another one. Then they were all up and awake. This was going just great.
“Hey, yeah,” the first guy said. “Hookers and drugs! We should have another party!”
“Fuck, I’m hung over though,” one of them said.
“You drank a whole bottle of tequila, you magnificent cunt.”
“Just drink some more, ya pussy. Dog’s hair!”
Jessica thrust a concussive psionic blast their way. It pushed everyone off their feet and tipped the furniture over. At the same time she put up a psionic shield. So, when she pushed everyone over, and a stray bullet from the first man’s gun came her way, it bounced off the energy-surface of her shield with a loud ping and hit another guy in the leg.
She then dashed for the open door. One of the dealers sprang back up and emptied his mag at her back, thinking it was just in front of her protected by the barrier. His bullets sprayed all around the room at crazy, ‘fun’ angles and impacted wetly with yielding skin and muscle and bone.
Turning to the room again, Jess grabbed two grenades from her belt, primed them, threw them, turned, and leapt off the balcony as the room exploded behind her. She hit the ground hard, rolled, rolled over onto her front, put her arms around her head and closed her eyes as glass and other shrapnel rained down upon her.
Six drug dealers didn’t scream in agony. Apart from electrical sizzles and the sounds of things burning, there was nothing. No chance of being followed, then.
Jessica Mirani turned up the hood of her jacket and pulled out a pair of shades, and walked casually from the scene, making sure to go the other way that what she’d taken to get to the fire escape in the first place. Then, tooth in her pocket, she slipped away into the panicked crowd and made herself a ghost in the minds of everyone there.
I’m wondering if I can make the drug dealers symbolic or metaphoric, ie ‘drug dealers = zombies? Saw that in a short story once. Very cool metaphor/symbol/whatever. Shut up, I’m done ‘braining’ for the night.