So, I have this little project I’ve been working on.
It’s a novel, or it will be, once it’s finished.
I already have a contract for it, and it’s coming out in a couple of months as part of a megalithic box set with Tyche Books.
Hopefully there will be a further release beyond that in the new year, something on its own, in paperback, etc.
We’re maybe calling it FURR, and it’s a little bit… dark.
In addition to the little appa-teaser above, here’s a little taste:
It’s like some kind of apocalypse out here. Streets cold and empty. Filled with smoke and devoid of movement, except for the dense charcoal cloud that seeps off of the pitch black sky. The smoke is so thick now that the streetlights stand muted and impotent, teardrops of grey in perpetual shadow.
Goose-pimples rise on my arms.
I shouldn’t be out here.
I know it. I feel it. Athwart the gloom.
Thick as that fog is, as crushing to my senses, I still imagine a faint odor of unwashed primate.
I hunch my shoulders against the formless night and the strange quiet and I jam my hands into my pockets, wrapping my fingers around the comfort of that hard glass bottle. I want to steel my reserve. I want to comfort myself. Delude myself. I want to swallow that bottle down right now. Part of me wants that, wants so badly to just curl up in the gutter and swallow that bottle down and feel warm and forgetful and justified.
But the other part of me knows that’s a lie, and it keeps me moving. My feet shuffling, faster and faster, until I’m running through the darkness, rubber soles pounding against the cement, until the concrete gives way to soft earth and grass, and I collapse, heaving for breath, but warm and filled with something other than misery. I roll and spread myself out on my back in the grass and look up into the black-smoke sky. It’s moving, swirling with black shapes, turning in slow circles, coming closer and closer.
As much as the smoke suffocates the smells, it seems to amplify the sounds of the night, or maybe it’s just that there’s nothing left alive out here. But that would be a lie too. I can hear them moving. I hear whimpers, tears. Soft and low. Please for mercy in some ancient tongue. Then I hear the reply.
“Fucking bitch! Hold her down!”
“Shut her up!”
I’m creeping through the trees, weaving through the shadows like a ghost.
There’s three of them. Bros with flat-brimmed ballcaps and belts around the middle of their asses – except one – his belt is around his knees, and he’s fighting his way between the legs of a young Asian girl. She’s thrashing away, clawing, kicking. She doesn’t want to be there. The other two Bros are holding her down. They don’t think I can see them. They think they’re all alone in the dark. They think this is a secret. Officer Friendly, so territorial when I’m sleeping peaceful under the stars, he’s nowhere to be found tonight.
I can smell her. Lilacs and lemons. The lilacs aren’t real. Perfume, false tones of springtime, cloying and sweet. The lemon is real. It’s covering a hundred other things. Spicy, fragrant things, but the lemon cuts through it like a knife. I smell her fear. Stronger than the lemons.
Her fear is sharp, and exciting, but it’s soon over-powered by a testosterone stink, mixed with cheap body spray and stale beer.
Then comes the blood. Not much, but I can smell it. I can taste it.
My heart is pumping faster, my limbs are flushed and tight, muscles knotting and twisting. Some strange new energy is pulsing through me. There are drums pounding in my head, blocking out the misery and the doubt and the fear. Taking away everything that used to be me.
My hands are curled around the tree, clawing the bark. I feel the wood snap under my fingertips.
I’m watching them like they’re three little piglets and I’m the big bad wolf.
Dressed of fur and fierce of tooth.
The birds are screaming in the trees.
“Fuck is with those birds, yo?”
“Shut the fuck up and hold her down!”
The one that’s trying to wedge himself inside of her – he’s first.
I bound in from the treeline – fast – faster than I’ve ever been.
I grab his neck and pull. Rip. Tear. I hurl him back on the ground and pounce.
I smell lemon fading with footsteps in the dark. Smart girl.
My fists are hammers, heavy and thick, swinging from high above me, as if they were thrown down through the black clouds by Thor himself. Left and right, back and forth, one after the other, swinging wide and high and coming down with all the weight of every terrible misery that has ever darkened my mind or my heart. Nothing is wrong here. No questions, no judgments. Just blood.
His face is coming apart beneath me. His eyes are lost in folds of swollen meat and awash with red. He’s shoving fingers in my face, clawing for my eyes, finding my jagged teeth. More blood, more screams. The joints pop as they separate, the sinews snapping against my tongue.
The other bros are pulling at me, pummeling me with their fists and their feet. They are screaming, but their voices swirl and combine with the cheers of the crows in the trees. There’s a legion of them, calling to me, urging me on, daring me to make their supper an easy one.
I hear them. I understand. I’m hungry too. So hungry.
His swollen ear bursts in my mouth. The lights behind his eyes have gone out, candles snuffed with a hurricane. He doesn’t even twitch when it pulls free. The cartilage is chewy, rubbery, but the hot rush of fresh blood quenches me.
I feel something cold slide into my leg, a sharp pain, then the rush of warmth and a glorious, fresh ocean of blood. It overwhelms the rest of my senses. I lift my head and breathe deep. I scream out into the night – not of pain, but of joy.
The second one freezes when he sees my face. The knife is still in his hand, coated with red. My red. My blood. He staggers back away from me, like some stupid kid in a bad slasher flick. He’s holding the knife between us, but so shaky that I could blow it away with a breath. He’s trembling, crying. I feel the heat of the stream of piss before I even smell it. His pants go two shades darker down the front. I smile and spit, launching what’s left of his pal’s ear into his screaming face. Number three is long gone. I hear his manic steps fading into the distance a block away. Number two is mine. I curl my fists in front of me, lick at the blood between the knuckles. There’s something else there, in the spaces where my own skin has faltered and split. Tufts of pink-stained hair stand out where there was none before. Fur.
I’ve finally lost my mind. Finally.
It fills me with a tremendous sense of well-being.
And I smile.
He doesn’t like that smile. A fresh stream of piss and he shudders and shits himself.
He throws the knife at me, crawling way on all fours. The birds are all around us, black messengers from the darkness, sent down through the black cloud to announce me. The new me. The better me.
He screams when I sink my teeth into his cheek. Thrashing away, clawing and kicking.
He doesn’t want to be here.
Alone. In the dark.