A short excerpt from my next novel in progress, Sanity’s Edge. Enjoy.
I slipped off the ship after dark, once I could sense that everyone in the village was asleep. The forest was new but Mama had found me a new friend. We stared at each other under the shade of a mango tree as the Moon climbed into the sky. Its tongue flicked the air in the three-meter space that divided us. This wasn’t one of the gen-altered snakes I was accustomed to from my home. This bugger was all wild, possibly the first of its kind that I’d seen since childhood, possibly the first I’d ever seen in my life. Sweet Ngai, was she massive! Her trunk was thicker around than my thighs.
I sensed her full belly, so I had no worries on that score. Her scales had a fresh gloss, as though she had just completed shedding not too long ago. I suppose she wouldn’t object to a warm body to enfold. I closed the distance between us and stepped into her embrace.
I knew this would be a problem as soon as a hundred kilos seemed to land on my hips, pressing me down. My knees buckled at first, but I kept to my feet as a second curl of muscle wound behind my legs, brushing the skin of my thighs before plopping atop the first coil, in the process pushing up my breasts.
Both were solid rippling muscle. A thrill shuddered through my chest, and perhaps a little excitement. I’d never given myself to such a beast before. A third coil slipped past my shoulders, pressing my breasts into flattened ovals between them. Sweat trickled over them and down the middle of my back; but that was probably just the heat of this place. For now, I was content. As I held out my hand, the last meter of its tail settled in my palm, circling twice before cinching tight. With my eyes shut, we dropped as one bundled mass into the soft grass.
Of course that wasn’t the end of it. When was it ever so? The sun had barely emerged as a pink fingernail on the horizon when my hand comm chirruped in my waist pouch. This was ten meters away, along with the rest of my clothes.
Brutus, for so I named her, showed no inclination to release such a rich source of warmth, and gods, I didn’t want to leave this body hug just yet, either. Oh well. I stretched forth my free hand, the new new left one.
The hand comm made an oddly hard thump as it whipped through the grass into the false meat of my false hand. I settled back in Brutus’s coils, pillowing my neck on hers as I put the comm to my ear. “Jambo?”
“The correct greeting would be I ni sogoma, young miss, but we will let it pass this time,” a firm male voice replied. “Am I speaking to Miss Jamai Dlamini?”
“Yes,” I said, suddenly a little nervous.
“My name is Magistrate Oumar Hadad, the local prefect for this hamlet. Would it be possible for you to spare me a few minutes?”
“H-have I done something wrong?”
“Not at all. Your Captain Ismalla discovered you missing this morning and got it into his head that you would be in the fields, with a snake. And so you are.”
My body seemed to have frozen, even snug in Brutus’ coils, though my stare darted left and right. “Don’t be alarmed. The local children spotted you sleeping from some trees they were climbing. They almost took you for dead, but for the fact that you were snoring.”
“My deputy has been watching you via long-range glasses, to see to your safety. He will escort you to my office, in your own time.”
My own time…I could make them wait another hour…No, best to be done with it. “Whenever he’s done masterbating, I’d like to dress in peace.”
A deliberate pause followed. “Let me speak with him. You can pull yourself together while I’m berating him.” And the comm chirrped off.
This is a short excerpt from my novel-in-progress, Sanity’s Edge. Our protagonists Jamai and Youssou have left their homeland in exile; Jamai has chosen to leave Youssou, due to his erratic mood swings, and has joined a branch of the Order of Elias in the hopes of finding a place among people of her own kind. This is proving not so simple as she believed.
This is still a draft version and will be liable to revision. Comments and critiques are welcome. Enjoy.
The debriefing began that afternoon. Cyrano had the appearance of a well groomed wild man. He was taller than average and had to duck stepping over the threshold into Alejandro’s casa. His was a thick body with a flat nose that might have been broken on more than one occasion. And he had a mane, a literal flame red mane and beard with no hint of a mustache. All that was stuffed inside a deep blue dress suit whose creases had seen better care than his beard.
The other fellow, Lloyd George, was not so tall but unnaturally thin and clean shaven, even to his scalp which bore the signs of week-old stubble. He was also in a dress uniform, though his seemed more comfortably ivied-in than Cyrano’s. His stare darted here and there, taking in the surroundings while being unfailingly polite to Alejandro and me.
I found the big man’s interrogatories usually came in the form of a one-way shouting match. That, combined with the fact that apparently I might have been a little soft spoken, made for a bit of a tense session.
“I suppose the first time was when I was seven and the village ant totem–”
“SPEAK UP, GIRL! I CAN BARELY HEAR YOU!”
“–and that’s when I found out our elder Odu Molefe had been collaborating with them the whole time, can you believe–”
“DON’T MIX SUPPOSITION WITH THE FACTS! FOCUS, GIRL!”
I had to endure two days of this interrogation before I could even slip in one question, perhaps the only one that mattered to me. The small fellow, Lloyd George, tapped his padd like a mad keyboardist while the fat guy Cyrano sat as a rock on the Mara Plains, glowering directly at me. Alejandro was getting up to fetch us all coffee when I blurted, “Is there anyone else like me?”
Alejandro paused, recalling the one occasion I’d put the same query to him. Cyrano scoffed, “Certainly not. That kind of power in so youthful–”
“No, I mean, are there any other gifted people out there?”
“Like you?” Lloyd George prompted.
The two interlopers exchanged arched glances. Perhaps it wasn’t so much a telepathic exchange as they’d worked together so long as a team that they thought along the same patterns. At any rate it was Lloyd George who answered.
“Why yes, we have wards much like you in our branches all across the globe,” he beamed. “Some have similar power levels to your own, some can be quite innocuous. Alejandro for example–”
“There’s nobody exactly like you,” Cyrano emphasized, and here his bushy mustache twitched at the right cheek. “Your powers are unique. That is why we’ve taken such an interest in you.” He seemed prepared to move along but I wasn’t done.
“I had another question.”
“Oh, what now?”
“I was wondering if you could help me find something to do with myself. Some kind of employment…”
“You want a job?”
“Y-yes,” I nodded. “I want to do something useful. It doesn’t have to be anything big. In fact I’d prefer it if I could find someplace not so public, where I could disappear in the back or something.”
“What do we look like, an unemployment office?”
“No, but you must have connections.”
“For Chrissakes, what do you think you’re doing here? You’re a murderess!”
Some dishes clattered in the kitchen. “I’m sorry…?”
“Huh, she’s sorry,” Cyrano huffed, nudging his companion. “You damn well ought to be. You should be grateful we’re even taking you in. we could be breaking ten thousand laws just hiding your sorry ass!”
“I didn’t mean to kill them, I panicked!”
“And how do we know you won’t panic in the future? What’s to stop you from doing it again?”
“Because I remember it! Because I can’t get it out of my mind!”
I had to stop; I’d started breathing in shallow gulps. Alejandro had to catch me as I slumped over the table with one hand bracing me up. Cyrano was noticeably silent, though his spirit matched the slow boil in mine. “Getting back to this business with Sydney,” Lloyd George interjected, “may I ask, umm, how did you know all that?”
“She told me. I already explained that.”
“Impossible,” Cyrano said. “We–!” He hesitated, cracking his fists as he huffed more deeply than before. “These are things known to only a handful of us on the Order’s Inner Circle. Sydney Merryman is gone. That’s established fact.”
“You may be wrong,” I said. “From what I could perceive Massoud didn’t want to steal our bodies. I don’t think the vast majority of Sydelle’s kin want to. They’re not after our bodies, our children, for their own pleasure. That’s just what we think based on what Sydelle has told us. I think they just want their purgatory to end. I think they just want to die.”
Our guests exchanged another doubtful glance. Lloyd George began, “Cyrano, maybe we should consider–”
“Oh don’t you be stupid too, man! It’s pure bullshit. Talking spirits? That’s never happened before. In the last five hundred years not one soul has been recovered, not one! Am I supposed to take this shit to the Inner Council, tell them everything we KNOW is wrong, based on the word of a stupid girl?”
“But my vision–what I saw–!”
“Maybe you filtered what your thought was a vision through your own perceptions,” Lloyd George suggested. That creature suffocated you. Perhaps oxygen deprivation caused you to fashion your ideas into a comfortable narrative.”
“Miss, it is a possibility we should consider–”
“I said NO. I know what I saw and I won’t be dissuaded from that by the Fat Guy here.”
“Settle down, girl,” Cyrano growled.
“Who the hell do you think you–”
Was it me, or did the rafters shudder? Dust sifted down from above as he continued. “Our people have been watching those maniacs for five hundred years. You can’t come crawling up out of the bush at nineteen years old telling us how to run our affairs. You’re barely out of diapers.”
“I’ve lived more in those twenty years,” I corrected him, heat rising into my cheeks, “than either of you fucking toubabs.”
“Cyrano…” Lloyd George’s eyes shone bright. He slapped a palm onto his companion’s knee. The fat one’s brow furrowed as his knuckles popped with what should have been a painful balling of the fist I was glaring at.
I had no idea what he could do and didn’t much care. “Oh please, try it.”
“Senores,” Alejandro called, though honestly I think his voice only penetrated the periphery of our mutual glares. “Let’s call it a day, debemos? We should give these tense sessions time to rest before we resume.” Lloyd George nodded at least. After a few more moments where our eyes locked, Cyrano swerved his gaze away.
I pushed off the divan without a backward glance at either of my two acosters. “You can see them to the door, padre. I don’t know why I’m wasting my time with you people.”
Alejandro followed me as far as the circular stairwell leading upstairs. “Thanks for standing up for me,” I muttered. “You don’t believe me either, do you?”
“You have to understand it goes against everything we know,” he said.
Sweet Ngai, I didn’t want to talk about this. “Maybe I’ll just leave.”
Both hands slapped on his hips. “And where will you go?”
“I DON’T KNOW! Maybe I’ll go back to the bushes I crawled from, or maybe I’ll see if they’ll have me back at Abyei-Bentiu! That’ll make everybody happy!” it should have been satisfying to slam the door to my room on his face, but somehow it wasn’t.
Mikes’ latest book, FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS, is available at amazon.com. Mike’s Amazon page:
Looking ahead a bit, I think. This sketch details where I want to take Jamai, although to be perfectly frank, this brash happy version, confident in herself and her sexuality, will have to pass through fire getting to this point. That’s where the third book in the trilogy, Sanity’s Edge, will take her. I’ll keep you posted.
Mikes’ latest book, FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS, is still available at amazon.com. Mike’s Amazon page:
The third book in the Butterfly & Serpent series has logged another chapter, so I am making progress. The challenge is getting into another culture, another mindset, which might be hampered a bit by an inability to travel. The problem is compounded by the fact that just in the first section of the new book, I’ve had to learn not one but two cultures, diametrically opposed. But I’m keeping at it.
My biggest regret in this regard is that I wasn’t ready until now. I would have loved to have asked my grandmother Elsy about Spain, she was very knowledgeable about all things Spanish. That’s my bad. I’ve finished Vicente Blasco Ibanez’s classic novel Blood and Sand. If nothing else I’ve come away sharing the author’s healthy disgust with the whole ‘sport’ of bullfighting. I feel more for the bulls than the matadors. I can’t even talk to my wife about what happens to the poor horses. The people who go to these things are animals.
That’s where I’m at. I’m moving on to the next chapter. Thanks for the support, everyone.
Mikes’ latest book, FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS, is available at amazon.com.
Mike’s Amazon page:
BLOG–You’ve consistently refused being termed a ‘mutant’, ‘psychic’, ‘medium’ et al. May I ask why?
JAMAI–Because they’re just labels. They’re another way of saying ‘you’re a freak, you don’t belong.’
B–I take it you’re not fond of labels.
J–I despise them. It’s just another way of dividing people, of keeping them down. Listen, my husband’s uncle once told me that words have a profound effect on our social relations. When I was young I was stupid enough to let myself be blinkered by these insults.
B–I’d never call you stupid.
J–Appreciated. I’ll give you an example of what I mean from your own day and age. The great Miles Davis was invited to participate in a charity record–“Sun City”, and the umbrella title for the group was Artists United Against Apartheid. The project was spearheaded by Steven Van Zandt. Miles’ part was to be edited into a jazz track, but at some point in his performance, Miles started muttering, “you can’t go in there, you’re the wrong color.”
B–“The Struggle Continues,” that was the track.
J–Good. There’s hope for you yet. Well, Miles’ rap was entirely spontaneous, but so truthful, that they built that whole track around it.
B–I guess what you’re saying is today, right now, you’re comfortable with who you are?
J–Why shouldn’t I be? I tried to fit in, to be like ‘everybody else’. But the truth is, people or bosses or your leaders will never be satisfied no matter how much you try to fit in. Why should I change to satisfy them? Why make myself uncomfortable with myself? I’m a person and I’m different. So what? I don’t have to prove anything to anyone but myself. And neither do you. If who you are isn’t good enough form “them”, whoever “they” are, they can get stuffed!
FATHERS & DAUGHTERS, the second book in the BUTTERFLY & SERPENT book series, is now out on http://www.amazon.com as a paperback & Kindle.
We’re in the final stages of proofing and I’m looking forward to putting this baby to bed.
I never really intended this to be a trilogy at all. I hate trilogies; they’re as bad as cliffhangers, or major motion pictures of books that stretch ONE book into two–or three- pictures. Thank you very much, Harry Potter, for starting that trend. I thought this series would wind up at two books, at best.
Well, the first book, Butterfly & Serpent (above) was already clocking in at over 200 pages. Once I finished the first section of the follow-up volumes, I realized this section would be completely different from the rest of the material and would probably work best as a stand-alone.
Not to give away too much, but in Book 2, Fathers & Daughters, Youssou is forced to call on Jamai’s help when a new situation rises, and he has to confront his family’s pains of the past. Jamai will come forward as a stronger, more assertive personality.
For Book 3, because of their actions in the previous adventure Jamai & Youssou find themselves thrown into the wider world. Their relationship will be tested, with the usual troubles one can expect from two very young people.
That’s all for now. I’ll keep everybody up to date as things move along.