I’ve had some great feedback on this story, and it’s made me think about how I categorize my writing. Looking at some of my unpublished work, and even some of my published, I didn’t realize how close I had wandered into the urban, dark, and contemporary Fantasy subgenres. Even my first novel, WOLVES OF VENGEANCE, is closer to dark and urban fantasy than it is to horror. Also, a little while back, I let you know I received an Honorable Mention for my novelette, Blade of the Vagabond, which is a traditional high fantasy story. It’s all very interesting, and I’ll be discussing what I’ve learned shortly.
On this NaNo project, I’ve reach about 10,000 words. I’m still very behind, but I’d rather have a fairly clean first draft than a pile of words I have to shovel out to get to the story. Understand, what I’m printing here is not everything I’ve written. Before I post here, I do a quick edit and remove as much as I can to tighten the final published product. Also, I count notes that I make to myself in with the word count, and I do my best not to include that information here on my blog.
The next time I post, I’ll try to break down some of what I was trying to do and why I added some potential complications to the plot. Again, this is a very rough first draft written organically (by the seat of my pants) and is not what it will look like in its final published form. Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think. Really! I have a think skin.
BLACK MAGIC BULLETS
An Urban Fantasy
Working as an Inhuman Resources Recruiter is no walk through the cemetery, especially when you’ve been cursed and your head is filled with stollen secrets from one of the most powerful occult groups in Boston. To survive, you might just need a few…
BLACK MAGIC BULLET
We stopped outside a women’s locker. Kenzi entered and a few minutes later returned with a duffle-bag stuffed with equipment she’d curated for me, along with a go-bag of her own.
Mine included a concentrator with three canisters of ethylene gas. I wouldn’t want to run out in an emergency, I guess. The time wouldn’t arrive soon enough when I could traverse the Collective naturally and on command.
“This will get you started,” she said before leading me back to the armory.
There, she removed a Smith & Wesson M&P .40 caliber from a gun safe, seated a magazine, racked the slide to put a round in the chamber, and then engaged the safety before holstering the weapon in an inside the waistband (IWB) holster. Two spare magazines slid into a carrier on the opposite side of her belt.
“Okay, let’s get out of here.”
“I’m not carrying?” I asked. Not that I cared. I was very happy to leave sans-firearm. I had never conceal-carried a pistol in my life.
“No. You’ll buy one and Dreadstone will reimburse you,” Kenzi said. “Until you’re able to manipulate within the Collective, we have to do everything above board. If a cop stops us, in Mass, you’ll need to have a firearm that’s on the Attorney General’s list of approved firearms and have the transaction recorded by the Firearms Records Bureau.”
“Things can get real messy legally if you don’t.”
Shlepping our bags down the hall, we headed to our next destination.
“We can take your car or we can take mine,” Kenzi said. “Your choice.”
“I came here by ’T’,” I said feeling wholly unprepared. The “T” is the colloquial name in Boston for the subway system and is short for MBTA, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and stands in contrast to the Commuter Rail, run by the same authority, which provides train service to surrounding communities and goes as far as Rhode Island.
“Mine it is then,” Kenzi said matter-of-factly. I didn’t notice even a hint of annoyance or sarcasm in her voice. “Do you have one?”
“A car?” I asked, without thinking.
“No, a time machine,” Kenzi said. “Of course, a car.”
“Not yet,” I said and steeled myself against an onslaught that never came.
“Dreadstone will help you buy one,” she said. “You just accepted a job where you’ll be on the road a lot. You’ll need something that fits your station and your style. You’ll be living out of the thing. I also suggest all-wheel drive. This is New England, after all.”
We entered the ground floor garage and I followed Kenzi to her vehicle.
The parking area was filled with various vehicles I can only assume were all owned by Dreadstone employees, but I did wonder if some belonged directly to Dreadstone and what enhancements might have been made for various purposes. I would find out later
We both slid into the leather seats of her shiny black BMW. I envisioned her as more of a Mustang girl, but I had to admit the Bimmer fit her style—luxurious on the inside, sporty on the outside. I wondered how much it had set her back, and how much of the tab Dreadtone had picked up. The thought made me anxious to car shop.
As we pulled out into crazy Boston traffic, Kenzi laid down a situation report on the way to our first stop.
“Here’s what we’re working with just so you know. There’s a time-limit on spirit bargains. We have about three days to seal the deal. If it doesn’t happen in by then she’ll drift.
“I’m not sure I understand. How did Dreadstone acquire her spirit in the first place?”
“Okay, I can’t go into all the whats and wherefores it’s too complicated. Here’s the layman’s explanation:
“When Dedra died she was able to attach herself to an object. In this case a doll. Dreadstone acquired the doll, and through a series of arcane rituals, I don’t fully understand, transferred her spirt to a containment vessel. Once they released her spirit in the ritual room, to make the pact, the clock started ticking.”
“They can’t just put the genie back in the bottle, so to speak?” I asked.
“Easier said than done. She can attach willingly to an object. To force her would be very difficult. That’s why we have recruiters.
“Your job is to make the pact and help hold up our end of the bargain. Once we get her as much as we can of what she wants, we still have to hold something over her, and it has to be enough that it keeps her spirit restless. If not, spirits are prone to drift. If she drifts, we breach a contract with our client.
“How do you keep her from drifting from the location she’s been assigned?” I asked.
“Simple. She self-attaches to the house for the required amount of time,” Kenzi said.
“She can set a time limit?” I asked.
“No. That’s where things get tricky,” Kenzi said. “Once the contract ends Dreadstone sends a wizard or psychic medium to release her. They’re supposed to fully release her.”
“Supposed to? Do you mean they don’t always hold up their end of the bargain?”
“These contracts can play out over fifty, sometimes even one-hundred years. By the time the contract is up—,” Kenzi trailed off, thought for a moment before continuing. Well, let’s say sometimes things fall through the cracks.
“I’m not saying it’s on purpose or anything, but it does happen. We have some spirits, and… other things, still in our employ well past their expiration date.”
I didn’t like the sound of that. I could be all for both parties entering into a contract, even if I thought Dreadstone might be exploiting their workforce——they wouldn’t be the first company to do so——but not honoring the contract seemed beyond the pale.
I didn’t like it, but I wasn’t sure I had the power to do anything about it. When the time was right, I’d have to weigh my options carefully.
At a light, Kenzi asked me to enter the first address into the onboard GPS—safety first!
Then we were weaving in and out of congestion, traversing tunnels, and avoiding one-way streets that always seemed to pop up out of nowhere overnight.
“Are you buckled up?” she asked to my puzzlement. Using a seatbelt had become as automatic as breathing, I didn’t even have to think about it anymore.
I acknowledged in the affirmative and wasn’t shy about asking why she was asking.
“We might have a tail,” Kenzi said shitting the vehicle into sport mode. “Hold on.”
What the hell was going on? Who was after us——or was Kenzi just paranoid?
Kenzi bolted left then (in Boston parlance) banged a right. A few quick turns with one eye on the road and the other on the rearview mirror and Kenzi seemed to relax a bit.
“Who the hell was after us?” I asked.
“I can tell you it wasn’t a government agency. They’re total professionals. You’ll never see them coming. If we were being followed, the people in the vehicle behind us were amateurs at tradecraft. Dreadstone has plenty of enemies. Congratulations, now they’re your enemies, too.”
To be continued…