Thursday, June 14, 2018

Book Snippet

I've depleted my backlog of short stories and I'm working furiously to get some finished.  That being said, I'm about to go on vacation, so it may be a couple of weeks before I have a turd that's polished enough to share.

In the meantime I thought I'd share some of the longer book I'm working on for this character.  Hope you enjoy it.

-Tole


Downtime sucks. There’s not a more delicate way to put it. I worked hard to become the best at what I am, so I live to test those skills against the next challenge. When the next challenge is taking its sweet fucking time showing up I get a bit testy. Sometimes I will take a trip into my memory and relive some event from my past. Once upon a time I used deep meditation and even a consciousness altering substance or two to enhance the memories. That was before I met Valsh.

Valsh is an orc shaman on Orta’ahn, an orc dominated world. Imagine if Sauron were an orc and had won the battle for Middle Earth. That’s Orta’ahn. It’s beautiful in its brutality. Only the strongest survive there, and it feels like a second home. I’m not the strongest by a long shot, but I’m smart and fast and that’s enough. They respect me for the killer I am. The ability to deal death in a decisive manner speaks more to them than any amount of gold ever could.

Valsh hired me to kill his War Leader. Apparently the old fellow was starting to lead his tribe into battles that were costing them dearly and his strategies had begun to cost them victories. Unfortunately he also had a very loyal cadre of personal guards that kept any significant challenge to his rule from getting close enough to do anything about it. That’s where I came in. I’m considerably smaller than even an orc runt, as if one of those would survive long enough to be able to compare it to me, so I was able to move around the camp relatively unnoticed. Only took me about two days to find my way into the old bastard’s tent at night and end his rule, but that’s a story for another day.

Valsh rewarded me with memory totems. I remember reading an article in my first life about how some psychiatrist, psychologist, self-actualization guru, or some shit had this theory that all memories are complete in our minds we just lose the ability to recall them. They said that with the proper mental discipline and through the use of meditation techniques we can recall even the smallest detail of a particular event in our lives. We can remember every smell, taste, sound, emotion, even if we didn’t give it our full attention at the time. It’s all encoded in our memories. I never got to that level with mental discipline and/or chemical enhancement. The memory totems pull all of that out of our minds and copy it into themselves. When you use one, it’s like being there all over again.

The orcs use them to store tribal history because their written language is as basic as they are. Not much use for scholars in a war driven culture, but you do need to keep records of important battles and victories. Warriors use them on the battlefield to record their deaths to bring honor to their families. You can imagine how precious these things are, and I have about thirty of them in a magically sealed chest in my room. I’m very well regarded among several of the tribes on Orta’ahn.

Anyway, back to the fact that downtime sucks. You can only train so much until muscle memory takes over and you hit the target every time. When I get to that point I turn to the memory totems kind of the way Sherlock would turn to his 7% solution just to pass the time until the next case came along. The problem with that is, just like Holmes’ cocaine, my memories are addictive and the more I use them the more I want to. Most of what I’ve stored there are memories of times with my wife, and when I use them, I want to stay in those memories as long as I can. She was glorious.

Bobby used to give me shit about not looking into her death. He just never understood why, if I loved her so deeply, I didn’t dig into why she was taken in the first place. I always told him I’m a killer not a detective. I’d dealt with the son of a bitch who killed her and that was all the closure I needed. That being said, as I stand here looking at this shelf I realize that every single one of these fucking totems holds a memory of her and our time together.

Huh. Maybe I’m not as done with it as I thought.

I carefully put the memory totem I have in my hand back in its place on the shelf. I close the door and activate the wards. I go sit on my bed and stare at that cabinet full of my former life. It only takes me about two seconds to make up my mind. Fuck it. Time to learn some new skills and go be a detective. If it just so happens I get to kill a few more mother fuckers tied up in her death, all’s the better.

First things first though.  I’m starving.  Thinking about it I can’t remember the last time I ate.  That happens when I get lost in my memories.  Better go get some Bobby Stew.

I sit down at the bar and Bobby turns to me. “Wondered if you were ever coming out of the goddam room,” he says with a grin.

“Don’t need smartass man.  I need food and beer.  Hook me up would ya?”

He turns back to the stove where the stew is bubbling away and dishes me up a big bowl of the meaty goodness.  He also gets me a really nice dark beer and a couple of hard rolls.  I’m in heaven.

“Hey Bobby,” I start and he turns to me with a quizzical look on his face. “You know much about that piece of shit bounty hunter I cooked in your hearth a few years back?”

He turns to face me fully and lowers himself down to eye level with me and fixes me in his gaze.

“Bout fucking time,” he says. 

He reaches under the bar and takes out a well-oiled old wooden box. He opens the lid and takes out a medallion made of some tarnished metal that looks kind of like old brass.  “Been keeping this thing for when this day finally came.  Knew you’d want it. Fell off of the corpse as you were dragging it across the floor.  Guild crest for that dickhead’s bounty hunter gang.  It’s a good place to start.”

I stop with a bite of stew halfway to my mouth and just look at it. After a second or two I set my spoon down and take it from him.  It’s lighter than I thought it would be.  Probably similar to challenge coins back on Terra.  Kinda shows who’s who in the guild.

“Thanks Bobby,” I say and put it in my coat pocket and go back to my meal. I should be able to use it to create a passage to the Goran home world from The Bar. Kinda how this place works.  You need an anchor to open a portal to a world.  Something to guide the magic to a destination.

I finish my bowl of stew and then another chasing them down with a really good dark that I bring back from Terra when I go to work there.  While I am chewing it gives me time to think about what exactly I’m going to do.  I mean hell, I’m usually the subject of an investigation not the one carrying it out.  The thought of me being on that side of the equation makes me laugh a little, and it catches Bobby’s attention.

“What?” he asks.

“Just amused by the absurdity of me trying to solve a murder instead of commit one man. I thought when I killed that son of a bitch that I was through with the whole deal you know? Figured life is tough and shit wants you dead.  Trick is to kill the things that want you dead before they get to you. Never gave it much more thought than that.”

He looks across the bar with a crooked grin on his goddamn ugly face and says, “Something tells me you’re gonna get plenty of chances to do what you’re best at. If you’re lucky, you might even get some answers to the shit that’s been eating you. A man should know why bad shit happens in his life, if for no other reason than to try and keep it from coming back around.”

That brings a thought up to the surface about that little punk that came after me a while back. “Damn right,” I say tipping my bottle his way. Then I turn it up and drain what’s left. Guess it’s time to get this shit show started.

Blog Changes

I spent a little time this morning changing my blog's theme and layout.  It had been like it was for over ten years, so I kind of felt l...