Today, while clasping our glasses of chocolate milk, Jason Craft and I have made a celebrator toast to a year and a half’s worth of literary work (Amanda White not here at the moment). All three of us aspiring authors have worked and toiled, written and rewritten, fought aver and compromised for a brand new urban fantasy set in our very own city of Shreveport. Shadeskin is an anthology of five short stories written by Jason Craft, B. L. White, and Amanda White (not related to me). We have created our own brand of creatures, based upon the angel and demon archetypes.
The Illumin are bold creatures of light, sent from another world to protect us from sinister specters that hide behind the mask of humanity. The Shades are the origin of these specters, brooding beings of shadow, forever trapped in our realm. The Raven family are the only humans aware of these creatures and they’d like to keep it that way. They fight alongside the Illumin.
The first anthology is based upon an ancient Aztec relic set loose in the nearby town of Wheelbarrow Creek. The common folk have been rudely awakened to the supernatural as the relic reanimates anything that is dead, including skeletons, dead relatives, road kill, and Mrs. Atwater’s cat graveyard.
Here is an excerpt of my story Zombie Delivery Service:
He knocked on the door. Forty-five seconds later the blinds on a nearby window parted. Matt conjured up a smile and a wave. The door opened to reveal Mrs. Atwater’s ancient frame, hunched over. She was gibbering as usual about her long-deceased cat.
Matt handed her the dry-cleaning and went into his conversation on auto-pilot as she droned on about her dull life. “Here you go Mrs. Atwater…. I’m terribly sorry about your loss Mrs. Atwater…. Perhaps you should get another cat Mrs. Atwater…. I didn’t mean that…. No cat in the world could replace your Percy.”
It was then that Matt’s auto-pilot ears went haywire. “What was that you said, Mrs. Atwater?”
Her gravelly voice spoke as high as it could, “It’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. My Percy’s come back to life and he’s trying to get at me! I just don’t know what to do about that.”
Matt stood there stunned. The grandfather clock behind her tick-tocked in the background, keeping time for no one. Mrs. Atwater’s cataract pools stared at him from behind wide-brimmed glasses. He could see she was more worried than usual and really did believe her dead cat was alive and out to get her.
“Well, Mrs. Atwater, I don’t know what to say about this. Perhaps you’re just going through a time of mourning. Maybe you want to see your cat alive and—”
“Young man, the only time I want to see my Percy again is in heaven. My cat’s alive and certainly not well. He’s been viciously attacking all my other cats, poor dears. Tried to get him to stop.” She lifted her right hand, still holding the church clothes. “Look at how he bit me!”
Matt saw the bite marks on her arm. Something whispered at him to get out of there. He took a few steps back, trying to hold on to reality. “Maybe it’s another cat. Some cat that looks like Percy but—”
“No, no, NO! I know it was him! Only way I could stop him was to cut him up myself.” She pulled the door open all the way, revealing a bloody left hand hooked around a large red blade. She took a step toward him, “My strength just isn’t as good as it used to be. I only stabbed him once, but it sure felt good!”
Matt stumbled backward.
“Why are you stepping back? I won’t hurt you. You’re not Percy.”
Matt stepped farther back. Mrs. Atwater’s eyes were blazing now. She threw her freshly-pressed dresses into the well-manicured flower bed. “You come by here every other day, young man. I see you looking down at me, all high-and-mighty, too young to speak to little ol’ Mrs. Freda.” She aimed the bloody knife at him, “You think I’m crazy, don’t you?”
“No ma’am. I don’t think any such thing.”
“Just some crazy old basket case asking for nothing less than a few moments, just to share her life with someone, anyone that will listen before she nods off to heaven. All you do is come here, drop off my clothes, and run away scared of talking to me, scared of talking to an old, decrepit lady!”
Matt was really backing up then. Her sweet, grandmotherly disposition was gone, vanished and snuffed out, replaced with something less-than-human.
Then he heard a hiss and a growl. Turning around, he saw Percy surrounded by ten other cats. These were not the laugh-out-loud, hold-me kittens he often saw on the net. They were something else entirely—mutilated, decrepit things with skin hanging from their teeth.
Matt didn’t have to think very hard to conjure up the pitchfork.
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