A guest post by Erika Gardner!
Thanks so much to my fellow authors from Tirgearr Publishing for giving us each the opportunity to guest on their blogs. It’s been a pleasure to discover more about Elizabeth Delisi, Troy Lambert, and Kristi Ahlers during this process.
As you have likely realized over the past few days- our Press is having a birthday, their fifth, in fact! So to celebrate authors are discounting their books for a few precious days, February 26th through the 29th. Each our books will be available for just 0.99. That’s unreal to me. That means you could my book, The Dragon in The Garden, twenty times for the same price as a typical hardback. What a wonderful time to be a reader!
It’s a wonderful time to be a writer as well. While, traditional publishing is struggling, people ARE reading more than ever. They are simply doing it in new ways. The trick is to figure out how to capitalize on those ways in such a manner as to make a living wage at this business. I’ll let you know if I ever figure that part out. Still, with computers our work is faster and easier, while the digital age offers a myriad of new formats in which to distribute and market our work.
The Dragon in The Garden is my first published novel and is included in the Tirgearr Super Sale! Here’s a bit about it:
There is magic beneath the mundane and in The Dragon in the Garden, Siobhan Orsini witnesses it all. No lie can fool her, no glamour or illusion can cloud her Sight. She sees through them all and wishes she could close her eyes. Returning to face her past, Siobhan inherits her grandparents’ house in California’s wine country. She encounters a talking dragon, a hot fallen angel, a demon lord, a Valkyrie, and, oh yes, her ex-boyfriend. And that is just in the first twenty-four hours.
It’s time to find out why she has this power.
Siobhan seeks out the Oracle and learns that only her Sight can help mankind navigate the travails of an ancient war. Our world is the prize in a battle between the dragons, who would defend us, and Lucifer’s fallen angels, who seek to take the Earth for themselves. Using her gift, she will have to make a choice that will decide humanity’s future.
Please enjoy this excerpt from The Dragon in The Garden. Happy Anniversary Sale!!!
I woke filled with the dreadful certainty that I was not alone. Blinking, I tried to see around me. In the faint light, I discerned the shape of a man sitting in a chair by the window. I started to cry out when I realized a faint, growing luminosity filled the room. It came from me. I glowed with a silvery light. A slender illuminated cord came off me, traveling upward. Pulses of energy flowed along the cord away from my body, leaving me drained and weak. Movement seemed incredibly difficult, impossible. As my eyes followed the shining strand aloft, I saw in sick horror that some kind of creature hovered above me.
I couldn’t figure out at first if this dreadful phantasm actually lived. Fragile, paper-like skin covered its skeletal frame. She? He? I couldn’t say, but the thing’s emaciation made it difficult to tell if skin actually covered those bones. The thing appeared all cheekbones, its features shrunken and shriveled. The being possessed wild, wispy hair so white it shone in the shimmering glow projected from my body. The strands floated in all directions around the apparition as did its robes, more rags than clothing. I was grateful for anything shrouding any part of the wraith-like figure.
I’ll never, for all my days, be able to explain the dread radiating from its presence. The sensation came from the thing’s eyes. They burned with an electric red, yet, this flame burned in a cold fire, devoid of any warmth or compassion. Though it wore a humanoid form, nothing remotely human emanated from it.
I drew in breath to scream for Daisy, Turel, anyone. More than anything I wanted to call for help, to be as loud as possible. Instead, I whimpered. No other sound came. The thing turned its withered head to the man in the chair. “Abraxas, it speaks. Never do they talk.”
“That’s because they usually don’t wake up and even if they did, they couldn’t see you,” explained the man named Abraxas. “This one is special.”
“Yes,” it rasped. “I see it is. I like it, so delicious, my ducky.” The thing’s voice rasped as thin and emaciated as its form. The death rattle sound of those words conjured nightmares from the dark corners of my mind, places where nameless terrors lurked, and my fears scurried like beetles under a rock. The faint smell of death and decay clung to the air around us.
“What are you?” I managed to whisper. My voice sounded faint, a breath, nothing more.
The thing floating over me cackled, an insane, evil sound. “Now it speaks to me. I love its fear. See it? So pretty, wants to run and hide, but can barely move.” It drifted an inch or two closer to me and I cringed, but couldn’t look away; its hellish eyes consumed me. “Soon it will never move again. Never, ever move, little pig.”
Abraxas snorted at the creature. “Why the pet names, Hag?”
The nightmare above me reached out with one bony finger as though to tap my face. Locked inside my head, I became a screaming, gibbering thing, beyond rational thought. It didn’t touch me though; it moved the finger back and forth as though conducting an invisible orchestra, its blood-red eyes burning into me. “It is food for me. I am calling it food names it understands, so it will know, it will suffer. Going to eat you, pretty lamb, eat you up.” It made a slithering noise, a slurping sound.
I strained again to scream, but only mustered a gasp. “Why? What are you?” Speech grew even more difficult. The draining left me a shadow of myself. So tired, so very tired.
Abraxas shifted in his chair and fumbled around in his pockets. The faint flick of a lighter registered and then came a small flame as he lit a cigar. As he puffed furiously I had my first glimpse of his face and shuddered. Abraxas wasn’t human.
I’d lay odds he looked human to anyone else gazing upon him. However, to my eyes, even weakened, I saw the clever-faced demonic visage peering out from under the sharply dressed businessman exterior. It was as if he wore a people suit. He smiled at me with wickedly pointed teeth. Abraxas puffed on the cigar and remarked in a matter-of-fact voice, “You should save your strength. I have already answered your question.”
“Yes,” hissed the creature above me. “Save for me, all of you for me.”
I made my lips move. “No, you didn’t.”
The sound came out so softly, I didn’t know if I said it out loud, but Abraxas heard me anyway. His eyebrows flipped up in surprise. He leaned forward, exposing short, pointy horns on his head like a goat, or to more accurate, like a devil. He puffed his cigar. “Certainly, I answered you, she’s a Hag.”
“Hag,” agreed the terrifying vision above me. “Riding you, taking you, soon all gone.”
Abraxas shrugged. “She calls it riding, I say eating. She’s draining your life force, your will to live.”
“And fear, Abraxas, fear and hope. I take them all, yes, ducky.”
Abraxas crossed and re-crossed his legs in an impatient gesture. “Get on with it. We need to finish before Turiel returns. I don’t want to be meat for that tiger.”
The Hag snarled at him, “No rush me.”
“Oh fine, have it your way,” Abraxas grumbled, glancing at his watch. He smiled a nasty grin. “Just think, Watcher, if you had left a broomstick by your bed, folklore says she’d have been forced to ride away on it, instead of riding your spirit. A broomstick, isn’t that the craziest thing you’ve ever heard?” He chuckled, an evil sound, and shook his head. “You can’t make this shit up, I tell you.”
The Hag exhaled in a quivering, rattling way. The sound created images of broken body parts and decomposing flesh rolling through my mind as I shuddered again in pain and fear. She commanded Abraxas, saying, “We go now. No nasty angel and I take little lamb with me. I drain her slowly, play with her forever.” Her eyes burned like two pits of hellish fire as she examined me again. “So special, so delicious, little piggy.”
“No, the Black God wants this finished before Gwyrdd can find a way back to this world. I didn’t hire you for playtime,” snapped Abraxas. “Finish and let’s get out of here.”
“No broomsticks,” said the Hag. “Bad Abraxas.”
He held up his hands. “Right, no broomsticks. Just hurry up.”
“Poor ducky,” said the Hag, gloating.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered in a drifting way a program I had once seen on television. It was a wildlife show, one of those safari ones. Some lions ambushed a zebra and began to eat the poor animal before it even died. I remember being shocked at the way the zebra lay there, waiting to die, waiting to lose enough blood to bring on oblivion. I was the zebra now. My body grew colder. It no longer seemed important enough or worth the effort to be terrified, although the Hag looked even more frightening now as she fed on me. The more of my life force she consumed, the brighter she burned luminescent, as I faded. As she devoured me, she became more substantial.
The faint odor of an open rotting grave became a ripe, overwhelming stench. If I could have gagged, I would have. All thoughts of escape, of curiosity, vanished as I waited for the end. The Hag smiled, showing rotten, yellow bits of teeth, her evil, red eyes danced. In her deathly voice she said, “Good chickie. Good. Never moves again. No, it doesn’t want to. It belongs to me. Mine.”
Something stirred in me at that moment. I didn’t belong to her. I belonged to me. No one else got to decide who I was or who I belonged to. I spent my whole life hanging on to my sense of self. No one else, not even a supernatural Hag sucking out my life force, and killing me in my own bed got to take that away from me. If ten different psychiatrists and more prescriptions than I could count hadn’t changed my mind, then I’d be damned if I’d let her decide for me.
There in the darkness, with my glimmer disappearing and a chill enveloping my limbs, I found a small spark inside of me, a stubborn iota of will. I searched my mind, seeking some way out. Then I did the only thing I had left, the only recourse still in my power. I prayed.
I didn’t pray to God. At the time, I don’t think it ever even crossed my mind to pray to Him. I didn’t have the strength of Tim’s quiet faith. Still, I knew who I needed. I prayed to Turel, only this time I called him Turiel. I prayed to him, partly in my heart, partly through lips like ice; lips gone numb. I prayed with fervor, hanging on to the spark even as I grew still colder, darker, and the Hag above me glowed in stolen radiance.
My breath slowed, and I fought for each inhalation. Each heartbeat echoed through the room. That, too, slowed. My world reduced to these things: breathing and my heartbeat. Still my frozen lips moved and my spark of will pushed my prayers out into the universe. With my vision blurred as Abraxas regarded his cigar from his chair. He tapped his foot, frowning at us.
The Hag tilted her head in a gesture that in her hideousness suggested a caricature of a human’s movement. She seemed puzzled. “It is saying something, Abraxas. This I do not understand. What does my duck say?” She leaned closer and the stench of death and decay enveloped me. Still I prayed.
“What is it?” asked Abraxas, impatient.
The withered Hag tilted her head. “I do not remember the word for what it does. It is asking for help,” she answered. “It does not know no help will come? What a strange lamb it is.” She shrugged her now much more substantial shoulders, her hideous features twisting in concentration. “Ah, Abraxas,” she continued in her gruesome voice, “I remember the word. My piggy prays.”
Abraxas sprang to his feet in alarm. “She prays? To whom?”
A bolt of lightning exploding in the small room blinded my eyes. Turel appeared in its flash, his face drawn in a snarl, glorious wings extended. Sunlight, beautiful, sweet sunlight, filled my night shrouded bedroom. Turel took one look at me and the Hag over me. “She prays to me,” he roared. His arm drew back in a graceful arc and a second bolt of lightning shot toward me.
To purchase The Dragon in The Garden please see:
This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller. Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.