Saturday 6 July 2013

Beast in the Blood

Welcome to the third Xeroversary. A slightly different, quieter, more introspective affair this year. Every day this week I'll post an extract from one of my works in progress. A little something to whet your appetite for the future, I hope.

Beast in the Blood is a short I wrote a while ago, which I really enjoyed writing but realised once I reached the end how depressing that ending was. I'm not sure yet whether to leave it like that, or keep on writing and swing the whole thing round a little. (Not that everything has to be sunshine and rainbows, of course.)

As I was scanning through to pull a little extract for the Xeroversary, I realised that with a few tweaks it would actually slip nicely (if tangentially) into the Matt Cooper universe from the Haunting of Hanford. Agents from Department Thirty Three pop up in Haunting, and Joe Bright, the werewolf protagonist of Beast in the Blood, works for a government agency... now rewritten to be the very same Department Thirty Three.

Could they one day work together...? Who knows, I'm getting way ahead of myself. ;)


Back to business, and the police station. The government department I work for has enough pull to get me places, but not without wariness and suspicion. We're official, but unheard of, and that's how we like it, even if it does make life difficult sometimes.
Department Thirty Three investigates the weird stuff. Oh, I know, you've heard it all before, it makes for good TV, but, honestly, most of the time it really is weather balloons, psychotic doctors, escaped zoo animals or some other mundane thing.
I had reason to think this one might be real though, and we were having a hard time suppressing the local newspapers. Not that it made a difference, town like Shoulton word spread like wildfire anyway. The beast was back. Something had killed a few pets, torn up some livestock, and now put a young boy in intensive care. The town was locked up tight. Last night I'd arrived after dark and the streets were empty. The old lady at the B&B had made me pass my ID through the letter slot before she opened the door.
The Inspector on the case couldn't have been more than a decade older than me but already had a hairline receding out of sight. His downturned mouth seemed to pull the rest of his face with it, leaving him looking worn and sour. He smelt of stale cigarette smoke and strong mints.
We were in a small interview room with a pile of ubiquitous, beige police files between us. I was sat on the suspect's side but I didn't let that make me feel nervous. I knew that trick, local enforcement didn't like interference so they made us feel unwelcome, while extending every professional courtesy of course.
"That's all the files, including any missing pets from around a month ago when it looks like this thing began."
"Thank you, Inspector. I'll come find you if I have any questions."
I knew he wouldn't like being dismissed, but he wouldn't want to waste time with me either. He lingered a moment. I paused with my hand on the first file and looked up into his narrowed eyes.
"Joe Bright. That's your brother Ben Bright up at Hendy House, isn't it?"
Hendy House, for the mentally unstable and often violent. I scowled.
"It is." I bit back my comment about his formidable detective skills.
"Funny how all this starts up again and you reappear."
"Hilarious. It's my job, Inspector."
"You'll find your brother's file at the bottom of the pile."
"He's still in Hendy, I assume, so why dig out his file?"
"He's still there. Doesn't mean he doesn't know anything about it."
"Have you been to see him, Inspector?"
"No reason to, yet. Maybe I should dig your file out, now you're back in town. I always thought it was funny how the attacks just stopped last time, right when you left and your brother got locked up. Plenty of people thought that was strange. But I was just a constable back then, couldn't do anything about it."
And the department had made them drop it. They recruited me and locked Ben up. The inspector might get a surprise if he tried to look out my file, though. It wouldn't be there. Department privileges.

1 comment:

  1. A Polish translation of 'Beast in the Blood' has been published by The Literary Stroller!