Well now. Isn't this a pretty sight? A brand new bit of fiction for you, hot from the keyboard. It's definitely been far too long since I last posted a bit of a Work In Progress, and it's a great pleasure to be doing so now!
If you missed my last post, you haven't heard that this year - 2014 - is going to be a year full of writing for me. I shuffled around some priorities, and now I'm focusing as much time as I can on writing more fantasy. If you're already a fan of my books, then I'm sure that's good news to your ears. That's what I do, after all - I write! Not being doing enough lately.
So what is this? What have I brought you? This is something I've been planning for the last few months. I finally took the plunge over Christmas, and since then I've tapped out a good 25,000 words of it. In other words, it's full steam ahead.
This is going to be my next novel - a standalone fantasy set in an alternate 1860's Wyoming, in the endless land of America. It's not a historical novel, as I've changed to much of the world to be able to call it "history". No this is straight up fantasy. And dark fantasy at that. It's a story of a young boy, Tonmerion Hark, and his father's last will and testament.
Far from bringing him the inheritance and the life of society and business he's been preparing for, his father's last wishes instead send him to the other side of the world. To the very edge of the world in fact, where a land of dust and railroad await him. A frontier town called Fell Falls. The furthermost outpost in the battle against the deep wilds of endless America, where fighting monsters is commonplace and where a man can get lost in any way he pleases. This is Tonmerion's place of exile. His aunt, the town's undertaker, his keeper. It's a story about discovery, more than anything, as Tonmerion will find when he begins to pick apart his father's past, in an effort to unearth his murderer.
And that's all you're going to get today! I don't want to tell you too much about it, not yet (not even the title will escape my lips) but what I am going to do is show you the first few pages and give you a taste of what I'm working on. It's always fun, sharing the first few bits and pieces. Bloody nerve-wracking, but fun.
Of course, do bear in mind that this is a very early draft. If you do find any mistakes, for there will be some, just think of it as "rustic". All I can say now is enjoy, and do feel free to leave me a comment or two below.
April 18th, 1866
‘To the lost.’ The surgeon raised his tiny glass with a gloved and rather bony hand.
Tonmerion Hark did the same, though he could only summon the wherewithal to raise it halfway. He let it hover just beneath his chin, as if he were cradling it to his chest. The liquor smelled like cloves. Sickening.
However he tried, he couldn’t tear his gaze away from the pistol. That sharp-edged contraption of humourless steel and stained oak, lounging in a spotless metal tray at the elbow of his father’s body. ‘The lost,’ he murmured, and flicked the glass as if swatting at a bothersome bluebottle.
A pair of wet slapping sounds broke the sterile, white-tiled silence as the liquor sprayed the white vinyl floor a muddy orange. So that was that. The ceremony was over. Lord Hark, the Bulldog of Londinium, the Prime Lord of Britannia, the Master of the Emerald Benches, and widower of the inimitable Lady Hark, had been pronounced dead.
Tonmerion could have told them that from the start, but such was tradition. His gaze inched from the gun to his father’s pallid skin, bruised as it was with the blood settling. Or the surgeon had told him, as he had worked. Tonmerion didn’t like surgeons. They were rude, he had decided, being so bold as to poke around in the visceral depths of other people. Tonmerion’s gaze moved to the neatly sewn-up hole in his father’s chest, directly above his heart. The oozing had stopped, finally. The puckered and rippled edges of white skin were clean. Not a single drop of corpse-blood seeping through. Not surprising, thought Tonmerion, after so much of it had been left on the stairs of the Hall.
For a brief moment, Tonmerion’s eyes flicked to the closed lids of his father’s. He thanked the Presence those sharp sapphire eyes were hidden away, and not bathing him with disappointment, as was their custom. But even then, in the grip of cold death, Tonmerion could almost feel their gaze piercing those wrinkled eyelids and jabbing him. His gaze quickly slunk away.
Instead, he looked to the surgeon, and was somewhat startled to find the man staring directly at him, arms folded and waiting patiently.
‘And what now?’ Tonmerion piped up, his young voice cracking after the silence.
‘The constable will be here in a moment, I’m sure.’
‘Is he late?’ asked Tonmerion, biting the inside of his lip. The body was so white…
The surgeon looked a smidgeon confused. He pushed the wire-frame rim of his round glasses up the slope of his nose. “Pardon me, lordling?’
Tonmerion huffed. ’I said, is he late?’
‘No, young master. Simply finishing the paperwork.’
Tonmerion went to scratch his neck as he tried to think up something clever, and commanding, and… but he quickly caught himself. Gruff words tumbled through his mind. Get your chin up. Stand straight. Look them straight in their beady little eyes… Words from dead lips.
‘Then he must have been late earlier in the day. Why else would he not be here, on time, when I am ready to leave. Instead of standing here, stuck looking at this… this…’ His words failed him miserably. His tongue hang fat and useless behind his teeth. He waved his hand irritably. ‘This… carcass.’ For that was what it was. Carcass. So callous. Tonmerion could see it in the surgeon’s face. That slight curl in that hairless, sweat-beaded top lip of his.
The surgeon took a small but sharp breath. ’Of course, lordling. I shall fetch him for you.’ And with that he turned on his heel, the leather of his shoe making a little squeak on the white tiles. But before he could take a step, the sound of heavy boots could be heard on the stairs. ‘Ah,’ the surgeon said as he turned back, emitting yet another squeak. ‘Here he comes now. You shall have your escape, young Master Hark.’
‘Yes, well,’ was all Tonmerion’s tongue could muster this time. He folded his arms and watched the barrel of a constable plod down the stone steps. His bright blue coat strained at the seams, pinning all their hopes on the polished buttons, glinting in the sterile light of the tiled room. Here was a man who had seen too much of a desk and not enough cobble, his father would have said. Tonmerion almost felt like turning and shushing his dead father.
‘Lordling,’ boomed the constable, as he shuffled to a halt at the foot of the table. His eyes were fixed on Tonmerion’s, but it was easy to see they were pulling to the right, itching to gaze at the dead Prime Lord. Tonmerion didn’t blame him one inch. ‘My apologies for…’
‘Apology accepted, Constable Pagget. Have you captured my father’s murderer yet?'
‘Not yet, I’m afraid…’
‘Well what is being done about it?’
‘Everything that can be done, Master Hark.’
‘Well that’s not…’ Merion began, but Pagget cut him off.
‘Please, young sir, it’s about your father’s will.’
‘Fine. What and where must I sign?’
There was a moment of hesitation, during which the constable’s mouth fell slowly open, the ample fat beneath his chin gently cushioning the fall. But not a single sound came forth.
‘What ever is the matter?’ asked Tonmerion, impatiently.
Constable Pagget summoned the wherewithal to shut his mouth, and soon after found his voice too. ’It’s your father’s last wishes, lordling, they concern you directly,’ he said, eyes flashing to the surgeon for the briefest of moments.
Tonmerion huffed. ’Well of course they do, I’m the sole inheritor.’
‘Not… exactly,’ Pagget croaked. ‘That is to say… not yet.’
‘Yet? What do you mean, yet?’
The constable took a step back and waved a couple of fat fingers at the stairs. ’You’d better step into my office, I think, young Master Hark. We apparently have much to discuss...'