Snippet Saturday – Dark Goddess

It’s Saturday again, so here’s another part of my novel, Dark Goddess.

Previously Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6 , Part 7

Kali fit quite nicely into the trunk of Gabriel’s car with room to spare so she wouldn’t be too cramped.  Not, Garrison hastened to assure himself, that he cared at all for her comfort, even the slight comfort that breathing room in a tight space might lend her.  Human though the girl may be, she was still an abomination that must be dealt with ruthlessly.  She was not an innocent child to be pitied.

Except, in some ways, she was.  This girl, this incarnation, had no memory of whom she had once been.  No real idea of why she must forfeit her life for the greater good and to pay for past crimes.

The demon, Azazel, had obviously failed in some way when he’d taught the vampire of the past how to preserve her memories and history into the eternal unconsciousness.  Once they were safely tucked into the ether, she’d explained to Garrison so long ago, they would never be lost.  And, if she were ever to die—as she so obviously had—and return—as she had—her new incarnation would remember the life she had once lived through the memories, which would come to her in dreams.

Except, they weren’t.  Or, rather, maybe they were, only Kali didn’t see them as anything but strange nighttime imaginings.

It was hard, Garrison knew, to accept something like this.  Magic.  Vampires.  Reincarnation.  He’d had difficulty believing it himself, and he came from a time when magic and spells had been just as commonplace as computers and aeroplanes were today. And yet, he’d never quite been able to bring himself to believe.

Well.  That wasn’t exactly true.  Garrison had always believed in her.  From the moment she’d first told him what she was, he’d believed.  It was everything else he had failed to grasp.

Nowadays, the average person was much too skeptical to believe in demons and magic.  Those who did believe, or thought they did, often were so enchanted with their own fantasies, they failed to see the world that was right in front of them.

Kali, thankfully, was not one of those horrible children who dressed in black and cried over pain that did not exist in their lives.  For a young woman whose life had been filled with so much pain and frustration, she was remarkably practical and intelligent, just as she’d been when they first met.  She had no time for nonsense such as vampires.  Of course she did not believe him.

Garrison drove up the I-5 until he came to a small tourist town nestled at the base of the Grapevine.  He could save that hurtle until tomorrow when he was rested, the tank was full, and Kali could sit in the car proper, not the trunk.

Of course, it was obvious threats and pain would not keep her docile.  She was, as she used to be, a warrior, ready to defend her freedom no matter the cost to her life.

He’d have to drug her into submission.  He hadn’t wanted to, although he had prepared for this contingency.  Drugs were easy enough to obtain, and there had been many times in the past he’d needed prescription sleep-aids to send him into the land of Nod.  After what he’d seen in his life, it wasn’t a surprise.  The challenge would be keeping her sufficiently subdued without overdosing her.  His plan was contingent on her surviving four more days.

There were other supplies he needed, so he stopped at a store that was one of those miraculous marvels of modern convenience that sold everything from clothing to hunting supplies.  Inside, he purchased first aid accoutrements, food, clothing, undergarments, toiletries, and a book or two to keep the girl occupied on the long drive ahead.  He also refreshed his supply of duct tape.  He’d prefer handcuffs, since they were harder to get out of, but even this store didn’t sell them.

Motels were plentiful in this area, and Garrison was able to find one that was relatively vacant.  It was run down and could be rented by the hour.  Kali had to be worn out by now, and he was going to get the drugs in her as soon as possible.  However, if she did give him any trouble, he wanted to be isolated as possible.  This den of sin would do nicely.

After depositing his purchases in the room, Garrison went to the car and opened the trunk.

Kali opened her eyes right away but didn’t say anything.  Nor did she struggle as Garrison took her by the wrists and hauled her into a sitting position.  She merely sat there and looked at him from world weary eyes.

He hesitated only a moment before he released her wrists.  He wrapped his arms around her waist and gently—probably too gently–lifted her from the trunk and set her on the ground. Tiny thing that she was, she weighed next to nothing.  When she didn’t fight him, she really was quite easy to move.

“Where are we?” she asked, shivering.

Garrison wrinkled his nose as the stench clinging to her hit him.  She stank of vomit, blood, and dried sweat.  Her curls were matted, and she had blood caked across her face, arms and clothing.  Miraculously, her nose didn’t appear to be broken from when he’d planted it against his car, although her eyes were bruised.  She looked as if she’d been fighting for her life, though.  He needed to clean her up before anything else.  He didn’t want anyone to see her like this.

“Home, for the night,” he said in response to her question.  He shut the trunk and took her by the wrists once more.

I’ve heard it’s better to post small chunks than entire chapters, so I’m trying not to overwhelm. Let me know what you think. I’d love some constructive comments.

Snippet Saturday – Dark Goddess

Previously Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, Part 6

“I’m a vampire.”

She laughed.  The laugh was as weak as she felt.

“I need to sit.”  She stumbled back and sat hard on the toilet.  “Vampires don’t exist.  It’s not real.  There are people who… What are you doing?”

Gabriel had her hand in his and was peeling a bandage away.  “The modern world is so strange.”  His pale fingers rubbed at one of the scrapes, drawing blood from it.  “You are religious and believe in miracles, or you say you do, but you have ceased to truly believe in anything else.”

“I believe in the devil.”

He snorted.  “Not really.  Even I don’t believe in the Catholic Satan anymore.  I’ve seen too much evil without him, but never him.”  He raised Kali’s arm and fastened his mouth around the bleeding wound.

She shrieked and pulled her arm from him. “What the hell are you…. Holy shit.”

The scrape had healed over leaving smooth, unblemished skin behind.

Gabriel smiled at her.  On anyone else, it would have been a smug smile.  On him, it was beatific.  “One of the gifts of the goddess.”

“Oh my God.”  She reached with a shaking hand to his mouth and scraped her finger on his pointy-sharp incisor.

It retracted under her touch.

“It moved.”

“They do that.”  He opened his mouth.  His eye-teeth extended almost to his lower lip.  “Easier to eat when they’re long,” he lisped.  “Not so easy to talk.”

A gunshot went off downstairs.

“What was that?”  She leapt to her feet and rushed past Gabriel, the pain in her head and knee forgotten.

“Tell me where she is!” she heard as she opened the door.

Garrison.

Gabriel was behind her.  “He found you.  We have to go.”  He took her by the wrist.  “Come on.”

“Wait!” She struggled against him as he dragged her away from the door.

The gun went off again.  People screamed.

Both Gabriel and Kali froze.

Feet pounded on the stairs.

“He’s coming.”  She broke away from Gabriel and slammed the door.  “Help me move the desk!”  She ran over to it and pulled.

It didn’t budge.

“There’s no time.”  Gabriel pulled her away and swept her into his arms.  Then, he leapt out the window.

Kali screamed as glass shattered around them.  Shards sliced into her face.  She pressed he face against Gabriel’s neck.

They hit the ground with a jarring thud.  Gabriel set her on her feet.  “Come on.  My car is close.”  

The ground was hard against her socked feet.  She took a few stumbling steps, but her legs protested.  She fell.

“Gabriel!” Garrison shouted.

She looked up.  He was leaning out the open window, shotgun in his hand.

“You can’t save her!  Give her up now.”

“I won’t let you take her again, Father Pike!” Gabriel picked Kali up again and ran.

“Where are we going?” she gasped.

“The parking structure!”  He rounded a corner and pointed.  Even running and carrying her, he didn’t sound winded.

“Here.”  He stopped in front of the parking structure, looking up.  “I’m on the fourth level.”

“Stairs.”  She pointed to the end of the building.

He looked at her and smiled.  “I don’t need stairs.  Hold on.”

“What?”

He put her down and turned to present his back.  “Hold on.”  He took her hands and wrapped them around his neck.  Then he leapt halfway up the side of the building.

“God!” Kali squeaked.

He was gripping the concrete with his nails as he climbed up the sides like he was a cat.  They scrambled to an opening on the fourth level, where Gabriel heaved himself over the ledge and planted his feet on solid ground once more.

Kali let go of him and took a few shaky steps away.  “How did you do that?”  Her legs threatened to give out.  She leaned against a car and took a few deep breaths.

“I’m a vampire.  We can do that.”

Of course.  He could heal cuts, he had retracting teeth, why couldn’t he climb up walls?  “How did Garrison find me?”

“He used magic.  Probably a tracing spell using your blood.”

“My blood?”

He nodded.  “I just don’t understand how he got past your guards.  He broke through all the protections we had around you, which should have been impossible.  But…”

“What guards?”

“You’re our queen,” he said, looking at her with simple and complete adoration.  “Our creator.  Our goddess.  Even though you’re human, we do what we can to protect you.”

She snorted and thought of the myriad of foster homes and relatives’ houses she’d been in and out of her whole life.  She thought of hungry nights and days, and the times when she was too cold or too hot or too tired because the adults around her couldn’t take care of her properly.  Thought of the abuse and the fear and the all too few moments of peace.

“Yeah, well, you’ve done a bang-up job.”

His face reflected guilt and anxiety.  With a hesitance that made her want to cry, he stepped forward and took her hand.  “I’m sorry,” he whispered.  His hand was so cold.  “I always thought we should do more but was voted down.  I have a history of making a mess of things.  Morgan thought it best we allow you to live a normal life without us interfering.”  He kissed the palm of her hand, eyes falling shut.  “We kept our kind from hurting you, kept Garrison from taking you.  We tried to protect you, but obviously something happened.”  He opened his eyes again.  “Forgive us?”

“Gabriel, I don’t know anything about you.  I don’t know if I can even trust you.  Aren’t vampires evil?”

He never got to answer.  Just as he opened his mouth to speak, a van tore around the corner.

“Run!” He shoved her away from him.

Kali flew across the structure.  She landed hard on the concrete floor.

“Take my car!” Gabriel threw the keys at her.

The van rammed him.  Tires squealed.  Gabriel was plowed into another car with the horrific sound of crunching metal.

“Oh no.  No, no, no.”

Smoke rose from the van’s hood.  Everything was silent.  Gabriel lay still, trapped between the cars, skin completely white.

            hen, the van door opened.  Garrison climbed out.

Kali moved.  She scrambled for the keys that had landed inches from her.  Hit the alarm the moment she had them.

A blue BMW down the row started wailing.

She ran to it.

She never saw Garrison move.  One minute, she was running, the next, she was on the ground, black dots flying at her face.

“Stay.” Garrison bent down and took the keys from her numb fingers.

“Garrison,” Gabriel moaned.  Metal screeched against metal.  He groaned.

“Gabriel, don’t move.”  Garrison sounded almost… fond.  “You can’t save her.  You will only cause yourself pain if you try.  Let her go.”

“No.”

Kali struggled to sit up.  Her head pounded.  Holy God in heaven, she probably had the worst concussion by now.  She’d be lucky if she survived without brain damage.

Garrison went to Gabriel.  There was a crowbar in one hand, gun in the other.

Gabriel pushed the van off him and stumbled forward.  There was a determined look on his too-young face.  His eyes were impossibly blue against his marble white skin.

“Gabriel…”

“No!  Don’t you understand?  She’s returned, just like she said she would.  Just as she promised.  Kali is stronger than you and the church and…”

Garrison fired.  The gunshot echoed loudly in the cavernous structure.

Kali screamed.

Gabriel took a step back.

“I won’t…” he said through clenched teeth.

Garrison fired again and again until the gun clicked, out of bullets.  Gabriel fell to his knees, still conscious.  His chest rose and fell with a strange sucking sound.  Blood bubbled at his lips.

“Please,” he exhaled.  More blood trickled from his mouth when he spoke.

Garrison dropped the empty clip on the ground.  He knelt in front of Gabriel and touched his cheek.  “I’m sorry, my son.  If not for her, you might have been saved.  But she never gave your soul a chance.”

“Don’t.”

Garrison stood.  He swung the crowbar at Gabriel’s face.

Kali’s hand flew to her eyes.  She couldn’t watch.  But she had to.  She opened her fingers and peeked through them.

Gabriel was unconscious.  His chest wasn’t moving anymore.  Even the blood had stopped flowing.

Garrison hit him again.

Gabriel’s beautiful nose broke, marring his perfect face.

“Stop it!”  Kali leapt to her feet and stumbled to Garrison.  “Stop it!”  She grabbed his arm and yanked Garrison away from the man who would have been her savior.  “He’s dead!  Leave him alone!”

Garrison rounded on her, face a mask of fury.  “That boy has survived hundreds of years past his time because I cannot bring myself to kill him.  And even now…” He stopped abruptly and gave a sharp shake of his head.  Grabbing Kali by the arm, he pulled her to Gabriel’s car.  “Come.  We need to go.”

“No!”  She fought him, kicking and clawing, trying to get away.

“Kali…”  His grip loosened.

“Let me go!”

“Damn it!”  He grabbed her arm and swung her.

Kali tried to brace herself, to stop her movement, but she had no control.  The last thing she saw before blackness took her was the back of Garrison’s van rushing towards her.

Snippet Saturday – Dark Goddess

Previously, on Dark Goddess:

Part 1, Part 2

Hands reached out, touched her.  Grabbed at her arms, at her clothes.  Her panic made thinking impossible, and every hand belonged to her captor.  She jerked away from them.

A body planted itself in front of her, white and blue, hands out, blocking.  She saw its mouth moving, heard words but didn’t understand them.

She tried to sidestep, but tripped.  She fell, landing on her elbow.

The body knelt in front of her.  “Miss, calm down,” it said.  “You’re fine.  You’re safe.”

The security guard.  He was there, kneeling, looking at her through concerned eyes.

Kali pushed herself up.  “A man tried to kidnap me.  He had a gun.  At the movie.”

“Is he still here?”

“I don’t know.  I ran away.”  She swiped at her chin, her hand coming away streaked with blood. 

“He hurt you?”

“He twisted my arm.  Threw me on the ground.  He…” She broke off and inhaled.  Her lungs made an unfamiliar wheezing sound as she did.  The block in her throat made it impossible to get enough air.

“Have her put her head between her knees,” someone in the surrounding crowd said.

“No, she should lay down.  Put her feet up.”

“Anyone have a paper bag?”

“I have an inhaler!  Do you want to borrow it?”

The guard pressed the talk button on the walkie-talkie on his shoulder.  “Operator?”

“Operator here.”

“I have a fifteen-year-old…”

“Seventeen,” Kali corrected, still wheezing.

He raised an eyebrow, but said, “Seventeen-year-old female in respiratory distress.  She says she was forcibly taken at gunpoint from the movies.  Contact the police and call for an ambulance.”

“Ten-four.”

The guard placed his hand on her shoulder.  “Just close your eyes and try to relax.  Take deep breaths.  You’re going to be fine.”

Kali nodded.  Closed her eyes.  When she tried to breathe through her nose, she couldn’t get enough air.  At the end of each breath, she had to open her mouth and gasp.

“Miss, can you describe your assailant?  Hair color, clothing, and feat…”

He was cut off by a piercing scream.  Breaks squealed.  There was a loud crash. 

Kali turned.

A van barreled through the plaza.  It plowed benches and kiosks in its path, barely missing people as it bore down on Kali and the security guard.

Kali’s gaze was riveted on the man behind the wheel.  The cold grey eyes staring at her.  Determination in every line of his face as he glared at her. He didn’t look at the people who fled his path or the kiosks that dented and scratched his fender.  He didn’t notice the security guard next to her that had drawn his gun.  The man’s gaze was for Kali alone. 

“That’s him,” Kali whispered.  She stood.  The world around her moved in slow motion.  Screams dimmed.  Bodies faded.  The air went still.

Then, the guard planted himself in front of her.  “Stop!” His arms trembled as he took aim at the van racing toward them.

Tires screeched.  The van swerved to a stop.  The man climbed out, shotgun in hand.  He aimed at the guard.

“Get out of the way.”

“Put the gun down and get on the ground.”

Kali shook her head and covered her eyes.  She knew what would happen, and she didn’t want to see.

“I said, ‘get out of my way,’” her captor repeated.

Kali peeked through her fingers.

“Put it down!”

The man fired.

The sound echoed off the windows of the shops.  A silence fell, like all the air had been sucked off the earth.  Like time had frozen.

The guard collapsed.

Chaos.

Her captor was at her side before she dropped her hands from her eyes.  He took her wrist and pulled.  “No more fighting, Kali,” he said.

A cold, dark anger welled through her.  Fear fell away.  She tightened her jaw, tossed her hair back from her face, and met his eyes.  “Fuck you.” 

Too late, she saw the butt of the shotgun.  The world exploded in a red, hot light.