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An Excerpt From The Guardian Cats Of New York City: Kodama’s Courage

The Guardian Cats of New York City: Kodama’s Courage is still available for free download through Thursday! If you haven’t downloaded a copy yet, here’s a taste of what you’re missing:

Kodama could see the Bad Thing more clearly now.  It was still a piece of night come alive, but at least it had a shape: it was smaller than a two-legs but much bigger than himself, long and narrow like a living tube, with no legs to be seen.  Its head was an evil-looking triangle that swayed on the end of a long neck, and its eyes were two stars in the absolute black.

They stared at each other for a long moment, the Bad Thing swaying, Kodama crouched and hissing.

After that moment finally passed, the Bad Thing spoke in a soft, cold voice:

“What is your business here, little child of Bast?” It said.

It didn’t speak in sounds like the two-legs, or in bodies like a cat, but ideas put into Kodama’s mind.  The Bad Thing’s body continued to sway and its mouth remained closed, but still he knew what it meant to say.

Startled, Kodama came out of his crouch for a moment and stared, his head tilted and his ears up with curiosity.  Then he remembered that this was a Bad Thing, and he went back into his crouch.

He also remembered something else.  Something from those old stories: Bast.  That was the name of the greatest of cats, the mother of all cats.  The one who had helped the Sun fight the darkness.

“Those are my two-legs in there,” Kodama squeaked.  He tried to sound fierce, but he was still just a very young cat after all, little more than a kitten, and looking into the dark stars that were the Bad Thing’s eyes, he was very, very afraid.  He tried again.

“Those are my two-legs in there,” he said. “And I know you want to hurt them!  And I won’t let you!”

“Aaaahhhh.” The word was long and drawn out, a hiss and a sigh, and it would have sounded sad if it wasn’t so cold. “What a pity.  For you see, little child of Bast, my own great mother Apep has commanded that I must bring darkness into these two humans’ lives.  And as I am commanded, so it must be.”

“Why?  Why doesn’t Apep like my two-legs?”

“Apep has no liking for any who live under the light of Ra, child of Bast.  But as to why I was sent to trouble these two in particular?  Why, no reason at all.  And that is quite the point: pointless despair, random terror.  A man too young for such things falls dead of a heart attack because that weakness comes to him from his fathers; a young woman finds herself back in the nightmare of cancer that she thought left behind many years ago.  The venom of the great serpent kills a little more of the world’s light.”

Kodama had no idea what any of that meant.  So he stuck to what he did know:

“Well, I won’t let you!”

The Bad Thing tilted its head in what seemed to be curiosity. “What do you owe these humans, little one?” it asked. “What have they given you, that you defend them so fiercely?”

For a moment, Kodama didn’t answer.  Not because he had no answer to give, but because he had too many.  Food, warmth, shelter, love…but he knew that the Bad Thing would just laugh at all of those, because Bad Things don’t understand them.  Then, suddenly, he knew the one answer that the Bad Thing would respect.

“They gave me my name!” he squeaked.

“Ahhh,” the Bad Thing said, almost sadly. “I understand the debt that places upon you.  Then I fear that must make us enemies.  What a pity.”

Hurry on over and pick up a free copy before it’s too late!  And as always, while you’re there, check out the rest of the library!

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The Guardian Cats of New York City: Kodama’s Courage Is Available For Free Now Through Thursday!

At last, we come to the final – for now – story in the Guardian Cats series.  Kodama’s Courage honors a cat I once knew.

They are still among us, hidden here and there; the cats who remember the Old Compact: you provide a home for us, feed us, take care of us in our illness, and we will protect you from the dangers of the night. They operate below the sight lines of humanity, dealing with dangers that we would never notice until it was too late. They remember the old magics of Freya, Bast and Hecate. They are the Guardian Cats.

Kodama is a young cat who lives in a quiet, peaceful neighborhood. He has heard the stories of the guardian cats and he dreams of becoming one of them, but first he must face a threat that strikes much closer to home. Something terrible has entered his quiet neighborhood, and it threatens his humans, the kindly giants who took him off the streets and gave him his name.

As he faces one of the hatchlings of the Serpent of Darkness, Kodama must decide what price he is willing to pay to protect the humans who have opened their home to him.

Head on over to Amazon and download yourself a free copy of Kodama’s Courage.  And as always, while you’re there, check out the rest of the library.

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Tough Girls Essay Up At Author Page

Tough Girls, Class Differences and Rape Culture has been added to the Reviews and Essays page at my author site.

 

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The Discarded

A friend from Slacktivist writes one of the most terrifying dystopias I’ve ever read. Terrifying because this is the dystopia that some the Kochs, the Mercers and others of our billionaire overlords are working toward right now (after all, to them it’s a paradise).

Also terrifying because this is an oppressive dystopia that doesn’t even need to use the brute force tactics of a totalitarian government. No death squads, no torture chambers, no Thought Police (though there is a hell of a Memory Hole). Everyone is their own jailer.

House of the Dread

“You’re the reporter, right?”

“Yes, Allison Stone with the Times. You’re ‘Cindy’?”

“That’s what they call me,” Cindy said. “So what do you want?”

“I just wanted to talk to you. I’m doing a story on the-“

“Discards,” Cindy said.

“I was going to say Corporate Family Adoptee Program.”

Cindy laughed. “That’s what they call it, huh?”

“The official name anyway,” Allison said.

“I’ve only heard us called ‘Discards’,” Cindy said. “Usually by people screaming at me for taking their job. Do you mind if I smoke?”

“If it makes you more comfortable.”

“I should quit. I really should,” Cindy said. She took a cigarette out of its carton, lit it, and took a long drag. “It takes up more and more of my credits every month. Vice taxes, you know. Fucking government. What do you want to know?”

“You understand what the program is?”

“Well, I lived it. But…

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An Excerpt From The Guardian Cats Of New York City: The Black Dog

The Guardian Cats of New York City: The Black Dog is still available for free download through Thursday! If you haven’t downloaded a copy yet, here’s a taste of what you’re missing:

When she reached the source of the disharmony, her fur and whiskers were standing on end and an involuntary growl was rumbling in her throat, but all she could see was the source of the howl: a small black dog, little larger than herself, of the kind that she’d heard the two-legs call a “Skottish Tearer”.

No, wait.  When the wind shifted, she smelled nothing but two-legs, their smokes and their food.  No dog-smell.

So he was the ghost of a Skottish Tearer, then.

“Enough, enough!” Lanuine growled as she approached the howling ghost. “The two-legs can’t hear you, and the other wolves are here with their two-legs.  I’m all the help you’re going to get, and you’re hurting my ears.”

The ghost-dog stopped howling and looked at her, seeming a bit startled. “Oh…oh, oh, sorry,” it – he – said.

“Thank you,” Lanuine said. “Now.  What are you called?”

This is the polite thing to ask magical creatures, rather than “what is your name?”  There are few powers greater than the power of Names, which is one of the reasons that cats have three names.  To name a thing is to define it; to define a thing is to control it.  There were many cats who wondered if the two-legs’s peculiar talent for Naming was the source of their enormous power.  They seemed to have an odd authority when it came to names.  When a two-legs gave something a name, it stuck .

“I am Fala!” The ghost answered. “What are you called?”

“I am called Queenie, the Rat-Breaker,” Lanuine answered.  But she was almost too stunned to say it.  There had been a resonance when the ghost-dog spoke its name that could only mean one thing. “You give your true name freely?” she asked, aghast.

“My name was given to me by my alpha,” Fala answered. “And my alpha was a very great alpha among the two-legs.  He walked with wheels because his hind legs were crippled, but the other two-legs still obeyed him.  Great packs of two-legs, as far as the nose could smell…mighty alphas who could have torn his throat out like rotten meat…all of them obeyed his merest bark and growl.  The name he gave me is all the name I need.”

That was…actually pretty impressive, Lanuine had to admit.  It was true that she didn’t understand how matters of dominance were decided among the two-legs, but still.  For one who walked on wheels to lead such a great pride, his will must have been enormous even among two-legs.

Still.  Lanuine could not understand the dog-ghost’s willingness to accept the name given him by another as his only name.  Could not, and did not want to.

“Fine,” she said. “If that’s how you want it.  Now.  What has you howling so much?  You’re driving cat and dog alike mad with all your noise.”

Usually, a dog would look abashed for at least a moment after such a scolding, but Fala just looked grim.

This was serious.  Dogs were usually loud and messy and silly, and as such beneath a cat’s notice, but no cat could deny that the Tribe of the Wolf were utterly dedicated to the protection of their two-legs and their territory.

“This way,” Fala said, turning and leading Lanuine away from the two-legs’s stone path.  In truth, Lanuine didn’t need much guidance.  The farther they went, the more she could sense a…a wrongness that put her hackles up.  There was violence in that wrongness.  Violence and death and old, clotted hate.

The farther they went, the harder it was to continue.  Only two-legs ignored their instincts like this…and maybe not even them.  By the time Fala stopped walking – by the time they reached the center of the wrongness – it was like wading in a bubbling spring of poison black blood, and there were no two-legs seated anywhere nearby.

“What is this place?” Lanuine growled, her ears flat to her head.

“The two-legs used to bury their dead here,” Fala answered. “Members of the pack that they killed for turning against the pack.”

“What?” Lanuine demanded, startled.  But before Fala could answer, she turned her attention back to the center of the wrongness, this time focusing on the senses that most two-legs seemed to lack.  As she did so, her hackles rose and her ears laid back, seemingly of their own accord.

The ghost-dog was right.

Beneath the earth was the spirit of a two-legs that had not gone to one of the strange places outside the world where two-legs spirits went.

Or at least, it had been a two-legs once.  Now, it was little more than a roiling mass of hatred.

Hurry on over and pick up a free copy before it’s too late!  And as always, while you’re there, check out the rest of the library!

 

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The Guardian Cats of New York City: The Black Dog Is Available For Free Now Through Thursday!

The third story of The Guardian Cats is available for free download now through Thursday!  In this installment, we see how the Guardian Cats interact with other supernatural guardians

They are still among us, hidden here and there; the cats who remember the Old Compact: you provide a home for us, feed us, take care of us in our illness, and we will protect you from the dangers of the night. They operate below the sight lines of humanity, dealing with dangers that we would never notice until it was too late. They remember the old magics of Freya, Bast and Hecate. They are the Guardian Cats.

There is a place in the heart of the City where the lines of force converge. It is a place of peace that used to be a place of vengeance and horror. There is something there, just beneath the surface, that wants to make it a place of vengeance and horror again. And the only thing that stands in its way is a cat named Queenie and a black dog who is much, much more than what he seems.

Head on over to Amazon and download yourself a free copy of The Black Dog.  And as always, while you’re there, check out the rest of the library!

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An Excerpt from The Guardian Cats of New York City: The Watcher On The Shore

The Guardian Cats of New York City: The Watcher On The Shore is still available for free download through Thursday! If you haven’t downloaded a copy yet, here’s a taste of what you’re missing:

Nar-Tali didn’t often envy the senses of the two-legs, nose-numb and half-deaf as they were. But tonight he would have accepted their night-blindness if it had brought with it the distance and clarity of their vision. The Thing that was coming, it was coming from the water. He could sense that now, feel it in his whiskers and fur and bones like the coming of the storm. But as much as he strained his senses toward the Great Salty Water, he could detect nothing. The roaring of the rain filled his hearing; the water and the wind washed away all smells.

Then the skyfire flashed again, and he caught a glimpse of…something. It was distant and unclear and it was only there for a moment, but it was…it was like a hill had suddenly risen up out of the water, then slid smoothly back in.

The sky rumbled in response to the skyfire, drowning out all sound. But as the last of the echoes of the sky-roar faded, Nar-Tali thought he heard the last echoes of another – a distant reptilian bellow.

There it was again. Much closer this time. And much, much louder.

Nar-Tali noticed that the ragged two-legs was standing beside him now, staring out at the Great Salty Water. For all the good it would do him. Even if the hill in the water surfaced again, all he would see was black on black. Not that he, Nar-Tali, was doing much better. With all this blinding rain coming down, he might as well be a two-legs himself.

Wait – there it was. The hill in the water. It was beside the long wooden sidewalk that went out onto the water now, and it was approaching shore.

On some instinct, Nar-Tali nudged the ragged two-legs, then pointed toward the shore.

The two-legs nodded. He saw it, too.

The hill was rising out of the water. Only it was longer now. More of a ridge.

The ridge kept rising. And rising. And then it broke the surface, and…

Oh. Great. Sekhmet.

It was huge.

Bast have mercy, it was a great serpent. As long as the sidewalk-over-the-water…no, longer, as long as one of the great metal serpents that carried two-legs in their bellies as they screamed along the rails. And at least as thick.

Its head was broad and flat and angular, with horns and razored spines sticking out in all directions. Its mouth, with its three rows of fangs, was easily capable of taking the ragged two-legs whole. Its scales gleamed black in the light of the boardwalk lamps, and its eyes glowed a poisonous green.

Hurry on over and pick up a free copy before it’s too late!  And as always, while you’re there, check out the rest of the library!

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