Novel Excerpt from
EMPYRES:BLOODBLIND by John Koloski
I steal a Corvette and supplies so Yve and I can leave Ithaca. She and the baby are all I think about as I drive. Only them. Not Karl and Gustav, not a hidden cure and not my dream of hearing my heart beat again. She hides it well, but I know she’s terrified oflosing me to the sore on my leg. It’s bigger now and spreading. It won’t heal, and that means I’m not regenerating anymore. I’m dying, really dying. Yve worries that I won’t make it to Philadelphia, and secretly I fear she may be right.
My horoscope for today, August 3rd, warns: “A new moon during the Dog Days brings uncertainty in love, luck and travel.” Yeah, I’m pretty much striking out on all three. But do I hide like the moon behind clouds? No! I speed down Interstate 81 in a stolen ‘Vette. Do I fear the police? No, but I fear for them, especially if they try to stop me. Sure, I can lie about the car and why I don’t have a driver’s license. But what about Yvette? How do I explain away a dead pregnant girl in the passenger seat? If I get lucky, maybe I won’t have to.
# # #
At ninety degrees going eighty-five down the highway, tires are caramels, and asphalt’s a sponge. Even the blasting AC couldn’t decrease my drowsiness. I rub the rabbit’s foot on my key chain for luck. That’s right, my hands aren’t on the steering wheel. Since my battle with Sterling, I find I can move things with my mind. Telekinesis, or something similar. With a thought, I move a CD, The Rasmus’ Dead Letters, from a jewel case to the player.
I levitate a pen and an artist’s sketchbook. My words spill onto the page as I record simple facts, like my full name and last address. Stuff that’s easy to prove. In the end, though, I can’t give any proof of who (or what) I am. That requires faith. I pray for guidance as I begin a letter to my child.
Evil and desperation differ in intent, even if they cause the same results. I’m desperate, not evil. And I never intended to harm anyone. Those who chase me are truly evil. They’ll kill me to get to you, and they’ll kill you to acquire your power.
I nod off for a second as my words bleed onto the page. Book and pen drop, and the ‘Vette drifts into the oncoming lane. It seems like a minute later that a red glare and siren startles me awake. The Rasmus finishes “In The Shadows” as I pull over.
I place my hands at the top of the steering wheel as the officer leaves his patrol car. I glance toward the window toggle and push it with a thought. The tinted glass is down when the uniform reaches my door.
“Evening, officer.” I say. His badge reads GARRITY.
“License and registration, please.”
He’s young, early thirties. I read all of him — his anxiety and his impatience. His shift is nearly over. His son waits at home for a goodnight kiss, and his wife for that and more. I hand him my gold ID card.
“This is a New York State identification,” he says, adding as he reads it, “Mr. Morrow. Do you have a valid driver’s license?”
I stare ahead, concentrating on changing what he sees. My focus is total, but nothing happens. Because I don’t reply, he rephrases the question.
“Do you have a blue photo driver’s license, Mr. Morrow?”
“Is there a reason you were going 95?”
“With your lights off?”
My matter-of-fact reply quickens his pulse. Drugs, he wonders, shining his flashlight into the car. I hear bloody tides wash through his veins. His heart beats like a bilge pump on a sinking ship. His blood pounds against his eardrums, slapping like rhythmic surf.
“And why is that, sir?” His face stiffens. DUI, I hear him think as he aims his flashlight. A flick of his wrist splashes bright light across an unresponsive cascade of blonde hair.
I think of a lie as I fight the urge to devour him. He stands so close I can almost taste him. Josh used to say all good lies are pearls, deceptive layers wrapped around a grain of truth.
“He’s chasing me. My uncle. This is his car,” I confess. “I borrowed it from his dealership to impress her…” I point beside me. “…but she got too drunk at the party to care.” Though I can’t see it, I feel through the door that his free hand rests on his gun. “I thought I saw my uncle behind me,” I finish, “so I turned off the lights. Stupid, huh?”
He looks back, past his patrol car, at the flow of traffic.
“I don’t see anyone chasing you.” He turns back to me, holster unsnapped, ready to draw. “Stay in the car. Keep your hands in view on the steering wheel.”
He doesn’t buy any of it. He’s going back to his cruiser to call for backup, not to check my ID. He’s calling for backup! I have to stop him. “Why do these things always happen to me?” I mutter as I think the headlights on. Ahead stretches a long flat shoulder perfect for running. I need him to witness my flight, even if it means getting shot. I open the door and hit the ground.
With my back toward him, sprinting away, I can still see him. He drops the mike, bursts from the car and gives chase. When I have him where I want him, I push both hands into the air and stop.
“Drop to your knees! Keep your hands up!” His words hit me square in the back, right where his pistol aims. Can I survive a shot to the heart? Or the brain? I don’t want to find out. “Put your hands behind your head and interlock your fingers!”
I do as he asks. Fatigue grips me, and I fight temptation as he approaches. I want to dive, headfirst, mouth open, into the tidal wave under his skin. If he cuffs me, disaster will follow. I picture myself, like Jack Ruby, helpless as my enemies kill me.
My mind explodes, sending out a billion thin purple streamers. I’m searching for help. I’m calling for backup.
Yve sleeps through the whole thing, but a presence comes toward me from the car. It’s ‘Shassa. She hears me; senses my fear and responds by drawing tremendous energy from her mother. Now I know why Yve is unconscious. Behind me I hear Garrity, and behind him I hear the second chance I desperately need: a baby cries.
“What?” Garrity turns, surprised and distracted. I twist and grab his gun hand. He drops the cuffs to fight for the weapon. When the gun’s muzzle flashes, it brings the stench of rotten eggs and rancid meat. Garrity’s mind unzips when he sees the chunk missing from my calf, the spatter of pink flesh on my cuff, and the hole that won’t bleed.
Curtains of expectation and reality part in Garrity’s head. I dive through the gap and go deep. He’s mine before he can flinch.
I wince and hiss with pain. The instinct for revenge fights my intellect, an epic battle to control my rage. My flesh, like his, won’t regenerate. I draw back to punch him, wanting to break his neck, but instead I drive my fist into my other palm. As I collapse, he stands frozen above me, gun pointing into the darkness.
It takes a moment before I can stand. I’m not that tall, so looking up I guess he’s about six feet or six-two. He quivers, incapable of voluntary movement. I tear through his mind, past his hopes and dreams, to his deepest horrors.
In a memory, he stands before a barbeque grill. Children squeal with delight as they splash in a pool. He flips hamburgers and hot dogs, and a pretty girl with curly dark hair brings him a beer. After a quick hug, then a drink, he speaks. “All right, I admit it,” he says, “I’m most afraid of getting shot.”
When I pull out of him I scream. “I am your fear!” My words rattle the night. His eyes widen and swell with tears, and his nostrils chuff like locomotives. I draw all power from my injured leg, numbing the pain and gaining enough energy to control his arms. I force him to point the weapon at his own groin.
“Please don’t, please don’t, please!” his thoughts beg. His wife, his son, and my own memories of pleading for mercy swim through my head.
“If you follow me, I swear I’ll make you pull the trigger!”
His eyes close and squeeze out tears. “Stay here for fifteen minutes,” I say, “then quit your job and go home!”
“Thank you, Oh God! Oh God! Thank you!”
His mantra recedes as I limp back toward the headlights. I lean on the Corvette to rest before making my way back to the cruiser. Reaching in I grab my ID from the center console under the radio. I pick up the microphone and push the button. “Officer Garrity is having car trouble. He needs a ride home.” I drop the mike on the console and walk away from requests to identify myself.
Back in the Corvette, I turn the lights off again and pull back onto the highway. That’s the last time I see Garrity alive, as a statue in the cruiser’s white headlights. The roof light bar lashes him with alternating whips of red and blue in the rear view. As I’m watching, another car pulls over. I’m at least a mile away, but I still feel Garrity’s fear and hear his gun firing. Nobody else will ever know the truth about Garrity, about his fight with my enemies, about his death. But I know everything: as I drive away, Sterling’s followers are eating him.
Yve, beside Adam in the Corvette, is also an Empyre. She’s pregnant with Adam’s child. And Patrick, an ex-con and serial killer, has sworn to obey him only until they reach Philadelphia. Will Patrick kill him then?
Not likely, because Adam’s already been dead for a week.
Now, pursued both by police and Richards’s murderous Empyres, the three of them race toward Philadelphia, where a hidden cure might restore Yve’s life and his own. Amrita, an Empyre elixir, promises Adam, Yve and their baby a normal future. It makes the living immortal, and even brings the dead back to life. The key to finding it lies in Adam’s painfully fragmented recollections of the accident that blinded him and killed Leiko. Reliving those memories might be worse than dying.
But the real struggle isn’t to save Adam, or even Yve: it’s really a fight to save their unborn child . . . the already-conscious, half-human fetus, gifted with unimaginable power, that they’ve begun to know as ‘Shassa.
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BLOODBLIND (Empyres #1) by John Koloski (PAPERBACK) US ONLY?
GIVEAWAY ENDED OCT 30 2013 – Binners are bn100 and dragonkeep62
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When: Saturday October 19, 2013 2:00 PM
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