Saturday, September 10, 2011

Banshee's Cry Sample

"I don't know, Jake." Cal stepped over the broken glass. Every window in the run-down house had been shattered. "Something's off. It just doesn't seem like a demon."

Jake wrinkled his nose at the pungent smell of decay overtaking the dusty parlor. Moonlight stole inside, illuminating white sheets thrown over chairs and tables. "All the signs point to it. Even the thermal images we nicked off the satellite cameras showed a straight line of heat from a demon passing, and then there's reports of locals suddenly going insane—six to date—all bat shit crazy enough to hara-kiri themselves. Come on, sounds like a demon getting his jollies off around here to me. Six, Cal. Tell me how six people in one little town all kill themselves in the space of two weeks if a demon hasn't been hanging around influencing them?"

"Yeah, okay. You're right." Cal pumped his splitter, the specialized shotgun that housed ice bullets in its chamber, best defense against demons in any dimension.
He didn't look convinced.

"Tell you what." Jake tapped the end of his own splitter. He loved the feel of Gertrude in his hands. Similar to a short barreled shotgun, the weapons master to the Anointed, Paps, designed the splitters with a smoother palm action trigger rather than a finger pull, and Gert had one of the cleanest pulls of any splitter Jake had used. "I'll keep my dagger unsheathed in case it's something besides a demon. Which it isn't."

"Guess we'll know soon enough," Cal replied. "Up or down?"

"I'll take the cellar. You search upstairs, then meet back here and we'll sweep the main floor together." Jake glanced at Cal's back as the young tracker headed toward the stairway. "Call out if you find anything."

Without looking back, Cal flicked out an exaggerated salute. Jake grinned. Bossing the kid around never got old.

He tried several doors off the kitchen before he found the cellar. Why a demon would want to hang out here was beyond him, but they'd pieced together that at least four of the suicide victims had come here sometime during the month—one as a realtor, two as potential buyers, and another stopped by to give an estimate for refurbishing. So far visiting this house was the only thing any of the vics had in common.

Slipping out his penlight, Jake flicked it on. The little beam barely penetrated the darkness down into the slender stairwell. His first step down squeaked across the old wood and footsteps rustled below. Yep, something was definitely down there.
Jake pumped Gerty and descended the stairs that squeaked and squealed beneath each step, which didn't matter since the demon or whatever was in the cellar already heard him. His light bounced around spiderwebs and shelves that held dust-coated jars of preserves or something before shooting across a face.

Jolting, Jake dragged the light back to the figure and the identical business end of the splitter pointed at him.

"What the hell are you doing here?" he growled out.

"Tracking a demon. What else?" Kiene tipped her head, making her long ponytail fall to the side."Nasty one by the looks of it."

Of course she'd be tracking a demon. Her kind, the narrow-visioned Anointed, had long given up tracking anything besides demons, leaving humankind unprotected against all the other supernatural monsters and beasts that went bump in the night.
"Well, leave. We got here first."

"I don't think so."

Jake lowered his gun. "You don't think you're gonna leave or don't think we got here ahead of you?"

"Neither." The girl's shotgun lowered.

A frown pulled at Jake's mouth. She looked good. Long legs snug in black pants. Tight blue T-shirt beneath a short-cropped leather jacket. She could give catwoman a run for the money any day. "Who let you out of Karavel anyway?"

Blue eyes narrowed. "How else am I supposed to gain any experience? I'm tracking demons. Same as you."

"On your own?"

No, I brought my baby sitter along. Geez."

Jake did not like her tracking alone. Not one little bit. Sure he knew she'd graduate from the Academy one day and join the ranks of demon trackers, but…hell, he just didn't like it. That's all.

"You're not ready. You need to go home."

"Says who? You?" One hip cocked out almost in defiance and Jake couldn't help staring at the curve of it.

"Someone has to say it."

"Pluuh…eease. You and Cal track on your own and you're not even—" Her features wilted. At least she had the decency to look mortified at what she'd almost blurted.

Of course Jake being Jake, he didn't let it go. "Not what, Kiene? Full-blooded?" Coming from her, it felt like a punch to the stomach. "I didn't expect that from you."

"You know I don't care about that." Her tone was quiet.

"What then? If I can track without superhuman abilities, it must be a piece of cake? It isn't. It's still hard, it's still dangerous, even for you over hopped up Anointeds."

"Stop it. You know that's not what I meant." Her temper was back, which was fine with him. Much more comfortable to deal with anyway. She headed toward a darker part of the cellar. "You can be such a jerk, you know that?"

Whatever." Jake followed after her. "Cal and I are tracking this demon so you need to back off."

"I am not backing off."

"Yes. You are."

"Look." Kiene spun around. "I put a lot of effort into tracking all the signs. It's my first solo and I'm not returning without even trying."

"Meaning you don't want to be humiliated in front of your friends."

"Fine. Yes. Whatever." She tossed her head back. "Call me shallow. Call me a suck-up. I don't care, but I am tracking this demon."

Jake swung the shotgun up to rest over his shoulder. The last thing he wanted to do was cause Kiene any embarrassment among the other Anointeds, though he wasn't sure why he even cared about that. "Fine, you can stay. But, sweetheart, we're doing this together." Where he could keep an eye on her. "I'm in charge. You do everything I say." Oh her eyes flared wide at that. Maybe this could be fun after all. "Deal?"

She glared at him. He could practically see the cogs of her mind weighing options. Finally her gaze met his. "Deal."

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