sneak peek--A Song for the Seacrossing
Quick blog post to keep my promise and share a bit of the book I'm working on!
This is from the first chapter. To set-up: Kirby is an undercover cop who survived a car bombing and has just gone back to work beside his partner Gabe. They are part of a team on a drug bust and are searching a dealer's warehouse. That's where this sequence picks up.
Kirby gave the cramped office another once-over, noting a second door closed and half hidden by stacks of office supplies. A closet in a closet? he wondered. Curious, he shifted the piles of stuff and tried the knob. Naturally, it was locked. He stood indecisive for a moment, then muttered, “Oh, what the hell, I haven’t let my baser instincts loose in a long time,” and kicked the door open.
He nearly fell headlong into the blackness that yawned beyond. A rickety flight of wooden steps led downward. Gingerly, Kirby put one foot on the first; it held, and he felt his way down, gun at the ready. After several steps, the space was suddenly lit by the dazzle of electric bulbs in the basement ceiling. Whirling, Kirby aimed his piece back the way he had come, but saw only Gabe standing in the opening left by the door, one hand on a light switch and a set of keys in the other. “They were hanging behind the desk. Don’t you ever do anything the easy way?”
“You know better. Besides, it’s more fun this way. C’mon.” His partner joined him at the foot of the steps. The basement smelled—well, like a basement: damp, musty, the way Kirby imagined earth would smell if it could go bad. They split and began to work their way around, searching for anything relevant to their investigations, until he thought he heard something like the mew of a kitten. Gabe was about to say something, but Kirby cut him off with a raised hand and listened intently. There it was again, a faint noise, and definitely not a cat. “Hear that?”
Gabe’s dark eyes widened. “Somebody’s down here.”
“And if I’m any judge, it doesn’t sound like they want to be.” Kirby raised his voice. “Hello? Anybody there?” When he got no reply, he asked. “Which way did it sound like to you?”
With his gun, Gabe gestured to the right. Kirby nodded and they moved that way. Roughly twenty yards from the base of the stairs, a partition had been set up, apparently to block off one corner of the basement from floor to ceiling and create a separate room. Despite the fusty smell, Kirby noted the area was oddly clean and neat, without the grunge that filled most basements.
There was a door in the near side of the partition. Kirby knocked on it a couple of times. “Anybody in there?” Silence. Kirby stepped back to get a running start at the door, but Gabe forestalled him by pulling out the keys he had appropriated upstairs.
“Let’s do it my way this time.” The first few keys proved unsuccessful, and Gabe was about to try another when a sound issued from behind the barrier: the unmistakable if weak cry of a person in pain. Gabe dropped the keys. “So much for the civilized route.”
Both men’s shoulders smashed into the door in unison. The tiny cell beyond was pitch black; evidently the lights for the main basement were on a different circuit. Enough light filtered through the now open doorway, though, for Kirby to make out a body huddled against the far concrete wall. He rushed over and touched the side of its thin neck. The skin was beaded with sweat as if from fever, but was cool to his questing fingers. He found a pulse, though it was weak and incredibly slow. “Must be in shock—”
Gabe found the light switch, and Kirby dropped his gun. Literally. The nude, semiconscious form on the floor was green—not an unhealthy color, an inhuman color, the pale shade of very young spring leaves.
“Sacre—” Gabe’s mouth fell open and he knelt beside his partner. “What is it?”
“Damned if I know.” Almost immediately, however, Kirby found himself thinking of the being as female. It had prominent breasts, four of them, one pair smaller and set below the other. Its hips were wide, at least in comparison to the pitiful thinness of the rest of its body. Its lips were full, eyelashes long, and it bore none of the equipment he associated with the male of any species, which was obviously a fallacious assumption, but he had to start somewhere. His most immediate concern was the handcuffs and shackles fastened with brutal tightness around her wrists and ankles. “Let’s get these things off her first.”
Two of the keys on the office ring were up to the task. Kirby pulled his light jacket off and wrapped it around her, taking her into his arms to get her off the dank, chilly floor. Dark olive bruises splotched her flesh, and the steel restraints had left burnlike marks on her limbs, open sores weeping greenish fluids. Each foot, he noted, had six toes and each hand six slim fingers. Once freed, she had begun to jerk restlessly, but the tension seemed to ease the longer he held her; she sighed and relaxed, her head lolling against his chest. He looked down and found time to register that her hair was a deep shade of blue, short and curled tightly against her scalp.
A voice from outside the room jolted both men from their momentary amazement. “Hey, who’s down there?” The partners’ eyes met, both realizing at the same time that neither was about to tell their superior officer what they had just found.
“I got this,” Gabe hissed and scrambled to his feet. “Just us, Cap,” Kirby heard him say in a moment. “Doesn’t look like anything down here. Give us another minute to finish our sweep and we’ll be right up.”
So, there you go! Comments, et cetera are welcome. I'll put up a real blog post later this week with mom updates and such.