Sunday, 18 July 2010

Blogfest of Death Entry

Being the second half of the first bit of the third novel (sorry, I'm in that sort of mood) my entry into the Blogfest of Death:

Grave pushed the memory away and went back to searching. A few seconds of further effort yielded a pair of neatly wrapped egg and cress sandwiches and a folded piece of paper, only slightly stained so far by its stay in Grave’s possession. He unwrapped the sandwiches and ate one handed while scanning the paper. It was always best to check these things. Three names had been crossed off, in a mixture of pens that had, in the general manner of pens, proved impossible to find twice. Three other names were still neatly printed below.

‘Elizabeth Peters,’ Grave rumbled to himself, sending a faint spray of breadcrumbs into his beard.

Something skittered in the darkness at the sound, and Grave absentmindedly kicked a discarded can in its direction. A resentful squeak told him he’d connected. He was in the right place at least. That was a blessing. There’d been that time when he’d been sent over to Egypt and had found himself on the wrong side of the Nile. He’d had to swim. Come to think of it, didn’t he still have a pair of crocodile skin boots from that somewhere? Or was that some other time?

Grave sighed. Other times. There were always other times these days. A thousand years of other times, all tangled up like the web of some giant arachnid. He’d probably hunted one of those too, back in the twelfth century, or was it the thirteenth? His memory played tricks if he let it.

A faint scent brought his mind back to the present. Like cinnamon, but not quite, mixed in with the usual scents of humanity. Even over the car-fume stink of the city, it was easy to pick out. Grave took a quick look at the remains of his sandwich, wondering whether he should finish the thing or push it back into his pockets. The first raised the possibility of trying to do his job with a mouth full of egg and cress, while the second seemed like a recipe for pockets Grave could never put his hands in again. He threw it off to one side instead, hearing the scurry of rats as they scrambled for it. Grave filed the information away for later.

For the time being though, there were more important things to do. Now, which pocket? His massive hands resumed their search, darting between the inner surfaces of his coat, and fetching out objects almost at random. A piece of string? Usable, but no. An unused ticket to an opera that had closed two hundred years before? An antique silver cow creamer? How had that got in there?

Grave’s movements grew more frantic as footsteps came closer. They were a woman’s footsteps, light and fast, with the click of heels striking concrete. That was good. Even though Elizabeth Peters took the same route back from her work each evening, it was better to be certain about these things.

It would have been good, at least, if he could just find the right pocket. A tulip bulb? No. A pair of reading spectacles that weren’t even his? This was getting embarrassing.

She came round the corner right on time. Thirty years old, attractive, though looking worn out from a day spent planning marketing strategies. Elizabeth Peters was huddled in the jacket of her business suit against the evening chill. She didn’t even look across to where Grave stood. Everything was perfect, or should have been. At this rate, he was going to have to improvise, and the foremost Huntsman of the Courts working with… he looked down… an expired library card, just wouldn’t look right.

Elizabeth Peters was past him now, making her way along the side street. Much further and he’d have to go with what he had. One more try. Grave’s hand dipped into another pocket and he smiled as his fingers closed around the hilt of a knife.

‘Ah, finally,’ he muttered, loudly enough that Elizabeth Peters turned, startled that she’d walked past someone without noticing. The movement meant she was just in time to meet the sweep of the knife as it slashed across, throat high. She held her hands to her neck for a moment, her eyes wide with shock, before her knees buckled.

Grave caught Elizabeth Peters as she fell, lowering her carefully to the ground and watching as the light started to fade from her eyes.

‘Well,’ he said amiably as he stood, ‘that was almost a complete cock up. Still, all’s well that ends well.’

Cleaning the knife, he resolved to make a special note of which pocket he put it in this time. Grave walked to the mouth of the street as casually as someone the size of a small giant could, checking that no one would be running to Elizabeth Peters’ aid. That sort of thing was always annoying. About halfway there Grave stopped, looking around, and then sniffed as something came to him on the breeze. He sniffed again, just to make sure. His broad forehead wrinkled in puzzlement.

‘Another one?’


Delia said...

A nice balance between the timeless and the mundane. Funny, too. Well done.

Andrew Rosenberg said...

Stupid pockets!
That guy needs a trip to REI to find some organizing equipment.
I always like putting on jackets I haven't worn in a long time and finding what's stashed away in there.
Nice job!

Suzie said...

I loved the little bits of humor sprinkled throughout. :D You can practically feel his annoyance as he dug through the pockets. Great job!

Raquel Byrnes said...

Loved your take on the blogfest. Graves is a great name for a death dealer. Poor Elizabeth, she almost got away.

Wonderful entry.

Indigo said...

Loved the many pocketed coat and assortment of finds. (Hugs)Indigo

Christina said...

Creepy. I love it.

So this is a blogfest. I'm nervous, but maybe I'll give it a try.

Donna Hole said...

Wow, that was interesting. You made the pockets feel like a second character to be dealt with.

Excellent transition into the next scene too. I regretted that it ended, and would have kept reading.

Well done.

I won't be looking at pockets in the say light anymore . .


Sangu said...

I love the mixture of humour and drama here. The name Graves is brilliant, though corny in a good way.

clutterbug said...

I totally loved reading this. Although I felt sad for Elizabeth ... death by library card would have been interesting though ;)

Nicely done :)

February Grace said...

This piece struck a fascinating balance between chilling and hilarious- I loved the can 'connecting' to the squeaking noise. I love your voice here.

Anyone who says why choose between swords and pens has got to be cool with me. So glad to have found your blog- thank you for comment on my entry too! Add me to your Followers list :)


Nicole Murray said...

Murderouse hit men can be just as unorganized as the rest of us. I always get a laugh and shudder out of casual, professional killers. Thank you for sharing!

Christine H said...

Intriguing, if a bit confusing. Now I want an egg and cress sandwich. I love the part about three kinds of pens. That is so true!

However, I am quite appalled that you killed off Elizabeth Peters (one of my favorite mystery writers). I'm currently reading her latest... Will it be her last? Ironically, they are mostly set in Egypt. Just kidding, of course.

I love your style, Stu. Well done.

RaShelle said...

What a great feat - making me LIKE the killer. Damn library card and a tulip bulb. Someone else's glasses. Hi-larious!!! Loved it. =D

Mesmerix said...

Again, I really enjoy your writing. Your ability to completely characterize Graves so quickly as well as mix violence with humor is brilliant. My only critique is that I wanted to get to the action faster and I thought some of the earlier lead-up could be cut down.

A fantastic job though, truly. You have a talent.

Scribbler to Scribe

Deniz Bevan said...

Great snip Stu! Love the tone and the Doctor Who-esque pockets and especially this line "The first raised the possibility of trying to do his job with a mouth full of egg and cress, while the second seemed like a recipe for pockets Grave could never put his hands in again."
Can't believe you and Tessa and Andrew are all making me empathise with killers...

Justin W. Parente said...

Thanks for your comment and follow! This story was so entertaining, but had me leaning away at the creepy parts. For real. Your inanimate second character is just the best though. Thanks for the read!

Tina Lynn said...

I think I might have killed myself if I was working marketing strategies all day. He may have done her a favor. And it would have been interesting to see how he would have used that string...

Tara said...

I was a little confused about what was really going on. But who cares. You're great writing and terrific snip carried me right through. Loved this.

stu said...

One curiousity arising from this is that everyone who has used the name of my character Grave has felt the need to stick an s on the end. I wonder why.

Tessa Conte said...

That was funny and exiting, all at once. I love the endless search of pockets, and how he throws in those memories of his. Those pockets remind me a little of my handbag...well without the murderous intent, of course...

Thank you for sharing this with us, and for joining my Blogfest!

Is there anywhere I can read the rest of the story? I want to know, another WHAT??


Sue London said...

Hi Stu! As you might expect, I noted that your character's name was Grave - explains why you liked my Graves.

This scene was great and most of the reasons have already been analyzed in the other comments. It is interesting to be feeling sympathetic with the murderer. Look forward to finding out how this scene fits into the rest of the work. :)

stu said...

This is from a currently unpublished novel (my attempt to switch from urban fantasy to comic fantasy)and is by way of making fun out of the current slew of Urban Faerie stuff.

The other one in question is my MC who is about to find out that he is a faerie prince, whether he wants to be or not, and that it mostly involves having to run away from people like Grave.

Lovy Boheme said...

Loved the character building that happened here and that intriguing last line. Another what?! Nice excerpt!