All words presented in this blog are purely opinion, not fact - unless specifically stated otherwise in the post.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Hunting the elements

Today, for your reading displeasure I present the first 10 pages of my fantasy detective novel, currently untitled.
It's about a private detective who has no powers in a world where people can control the elements. enjoy :)

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Prologue


Thurs. 01/05/2011 01:54 am

The warehouse was large, abandoned, and silent. Oh so silent. He liked the quiet.  It was the only time he could hear him, really hear him. He liked to think that he was always there, silently watching, but in the quiet… oh in the quiet he sang.
He told him who was innocent and who was guilty. He told him their crime and their punishment. He told him who should live and who should die.
She’s one! The voice chimed. She did it, she should be punished!
He smiled and stood up from the metal staircase; the voice was so beautiful, so precious, his pleas had to be answered.
She was young, mid-twenties. She had blonde hair and blue eyes with flecks of yellow in them. A half breed Lord, bastard child of one of the noble houses and mother to another mongrel bitch. He didn’t know how he knew, but the voice had assured him of her guilt.
She was dressed in a long skirt, low cut shirt and sweater, a meter of rope and a cloth gag. Her makeup was run down her cheeks, staining the cloth.
Her name was Jessica Winters and she needed to be punished.
“Do you know what linchpin theory is?” He asked, walking around her and placing a hand on her shoulder.
Even if she knew the answer she couldn’t tell him. Her mouth was stuffed with the gag and her breathing was too ragged from the crying.
“No? Let me tell you. It’s a theory that explains that making yourself indispensable in a job makes you far less likely to get fired. However looked at in another way you could argue that it explains a way to take down an entire company. Take out the vital employee and the company falls apart.
“It applies to all sorts of things. Families, clubs, teams, governments, the economy … a man’s sanity…” He paused for a moment, breathing hard, looking away and listening to the voice as it whispered in his ear. “Even the evolution of the human body.” He paused and allowed her to turn her head to look up at him, such terrified eyes. The voice cackled its pleasure. “The heart has evolved as a linchpin of the human body. It’s done a good job, you can’t imagine anyone getting rid of their heart can you? A kidney, a piece of liver, some blood or bone marrow, sure, you can even survive without a lung. Hell you can even damage your brain and everything else might keep working… but your heart? No-no-no-no… still if someone took that heart away from you..?”
She tried to fight against her restraints and he let go of her shoulder, backing away a step.
He walked around to look at her, smiling down as she looked up, terrified. “Don’t worry. I won’t be taking your heart. This all really has nothing to do with why you’re here.”
She seemed to relax a little, but his expression turned hard. “You, mongrel, are accused of diluting the blood of the pure, and in turn causing the murder of future elements.” He said. His hands moved behind his back and he spread his legs to rest shoulder length apart.  “Your selfish ways will be destroyed and the world will be a better place for it.”
She screamed against her gag, crying out for someone who wasn’t there to save her. They didn’t. Her eyes pleaded to let her go but he did not oblige. “For this crime you have been sentenced to death.”
She moaned against her restraints, tears flooded her face and she lay forward on her knees.
“You will not destroy anyone else.” He raised his hand toward her and turned its back to her. His hand tensed, the fingers curved slightly and her eyes widened. She gagged, sputtering, trying to breathe, but she couldn’t.
A few moments passed and the girls head lolled forward. She was dead. He relaxed his hand and let his arm drop to his sides, leaning his head back and letting out a sigh of relief.
One murderer dealt with.  The voice congratulated.
“Countless to go.” The killer replied. “But don’t worry; they will all pay.” He promised, turning to look at the whisperer.



One


Tues. 06/05/2011 4:54 pm
Ferron Tower

Why do you do it? I always get asked the same question. I’m always asked ‘why’. There are a million other careers I could have chosen. So many other choices I could have made. So many other things I could be doing. I had so many opportunities, but every time I think about it I always come back to this choice. I know that this is the path I should be on.
Still… that doesn’t mean I always know why I do it. It doesn’t mean I never question my choice. I’d be insane if I didn’t.
I’m a private detective. A guy with a laminate and a gun. If I were an element maybe it’d make more sense. If I could throw fire, control water, move the air, control electricity, hell even augmenting my body with the world’s natural minerals would be a huge help in this line of work, but I can’t.
I’m not an element. I’m just an ordinary guy. Well… not ordinary. I’m smart, very smart. They told me when I was a kid that I’d be a doctor or an astronaut. An accountant or a scientist. Never an investigator for hire.
I had a lot of options. A lot of options. But no matter what I imagine I keep coming back to this.
I must have a death wish.
“Alex Ferron, put the gun down.” I call across at the soon to be former heir to the Ferron house. He’s a lord but he lost the right to be called such when he murdered his brother.
He wipes the sweat from his brow, eyes darting around the room looking for both a way out and a reason for the sweltering heat.
I ignore the sweat dripping down my forehead, keeping my eyes focussed on him. I’m not as hot as he is; I took my coat and jacket off before I came into his office. I’m no fool, I know what I’m doing.
I believe that fact less every time I have to remind myself of it.
My gun is level, held straight and braced against the recoil that I hope I don’t need to feel. His gun is shaky, pointed over my shoulder more than it’s pointed at me but he can’t be expected to know that. He’s not trained with a pistol.
Unlike me, he is an element. He’s a Soaker, capable of releasing water through his bodies pores or controlling and manipulating it telekinetically after drinking or absorbing it through physical contact.
I knew he was a soaker before I came in to confront him about the death of his brother, that’s why I went down to the boiler room and turned all of the heating systems up to maximum.
A little uncomfortable for me, paralysing to him. The heat dries out the room, dries out his skin, the water he’s absorbed to fuel his magic evaporates and he’s left as a normal man. A normal man with a gun. I wasn’t expecting the gun.
Most elements rely so heavily on their powers that they don’t carry weapons. Their arrogance is usually why I can best them but when Ferron realised I’d come here to arrest him he drew the pistol from the top draw of his desk.
“I said, put the gun down.” I repeat as he levels it on me. Now it’s aimed at me. Suddenly I wish I owned a bullet proof vest. I make a mental note to have my office administrator buy one for me- then remember I’m in the process of replacing the admin after my last one quit. “The police are on their way. You can’t run from this.”
“How did you know?” The lord asks, wiping his shirt sleeve across his head. “How did you figure it out?”
Why do they always ask? Do they think they’ll be able to get a do-over?
“Murder weapon was too clean.” I tell him. “When a normal person wipes their finger prints off there’s still traces of blood. A soaker cleans it and they remove all traces. The blood becomes a part of the magic and it gets taken away.”
“That’s all you got?” He asks.
I notice a slight upwards curve of his lips, relief? I’m not sure. Put me in a controlled setting and I’d be able to read him like a book, but here? Now? I’m not sure. The heat, the high stress indicators..? I’m just not sure.
“No.” I shake my head. “That’s how I figured out I should be looking at the nobility, not the staff of his company. At first I thought there was a house war I didn’t know about. Killing one of your father’s sons would be a strong message from the other nobility, but it’d have been a stronger message if they went for the heir.”
“He was about to be made heir.” Ferron Shouted.
“Yeah, I know.” I respond. “Your father told me. He told me how he was planning to name your younger brother heir to the Ferron fortune and take your name off the inheritance documents.”
“One of them found out! They wanted to hurt him!” Ferron argues.
I shake my head. “It wasn’t public knowledge. The only people your father had told were your mother, you and your brother.” I pause and take a step forward. “Must have made you angry; to have him take everything you worked for, and give it to your little brother?”
“I didn’t kill him.” He shouted. Anger shows on his face. His hand moves up to touch his hair. A subconscious indicator of guilt, corroborating what I already know.
“Your dad told you what he planned to do and you lost it.” I tell him, calmly. “You confronted your brother, but he wouldn’t listen, so you took the tyre iron from his tool kit and you hit him over the head with it.” His gun lowers slightly as his eyes dip and his lips curve down in shame. That one I can tell. “You hit him again and again and again…”
“I-” his gun droops to point at the floor. Mine remains raised, but I’m less worried about his. “I didn’t mean to-” he looks up at me, “I was just so angry!” He reaches up and runs his hands over his face. “I just wanted to talk to him. I offered to work alongside him. Me and him running the company, but-” I step forward and let go of my gun with one hand, reaching out for his. “He told me that as soon as he had control; I’d be out on my own.” He looks at me again as my hand grips the barrel of his gun. He lets go and looks into my eyes. “How could he do that? He was my brother.”
The irony isn’t lost on me.


Two


Tues. 06/05/2011 7:29 pm
Hunter’s Upper West Office

I walk through the front door of my office and duck as a fantasy novel slams into the wall above the door. I hate fantasy novels, why do people need to read about worlds with fake magic when you have crazed Elements running around the real one.
“What the crap, Amy!” I shout, straightening up and hitching my bag back up on my shoulder. I look up at the frustrated young woman sat at the desk just outside my office. She’s sixteen, blonde with green eyes. She looks just like her mother- my late wife Millenia, ‘Lenny’ for short -except for the hair; she has my hair.
“Where the hell have you been!” she shouts. “You know I don’t have a ride home without you!” I notice the worry lines and downward curve of her lips. It’s fear not annoyance that she’s displaying.
“I’m sorry, hun, you knew I was going to confront Alex Ferron. After I cuffed him I had to wait for the cops to arrive, then I had to go with them and give them my statement. I’m sorry it took me so long, but you knew it was going to be a late one.”
Her expression softens. She’s temping as my assistant while I look for someone new. My last assistant quit on me, something about sexual harassment.
Not from me, from Will; my occasional partner.
I had intended to call an agency, but it’s the summer holidays and she offered to do it for less… and I couldn’t think of a good enough reason not to let her. It was either bring her in here where it’s relatively safe or let her find a job with god knows who- or even more terrifying; send her to stay at her low born hating nobleman grandfather while I was at work.
“You should have called.” She decides, moving around the desk and walking to me. She punches my arm, I pretend to be wounded and she hugs me briefly before picking up her book. “Better not have lost my page. You ready to go?”
I smile. She’s a smart kid, top of her classes at school, or close to it. “Almost, just got to e-mail Lord Ferron the invoice for having his son arrested.”
I step past her and walk through the door to my office, quickly reading the lettering across the frosted glass; James Hunter P. I.
“So it was the son who did it?” Amy asks, following behind me.
I pause and look around at my office. Three years ago the room was practically empty. I’d paid for the large office to be impressive, but the ply-wood desk and un-cushioned high school chairs did a lot to take away from the décor. Now though… glass desk in front of the window across from the door with a high backed leather swivel chair behind it. A black leather sofa and arm chair set with a small glass coffee table to the left of the door and a personal bar to the right. I don’t drink on the job but sometimes my clients need a stiff one.
On the wall to the left are thirty nine framed cheques with ‘validated’ printed across them. One for every successful case. Sometimes the trophies worry me, I’ve seen so many low life, serial killers with their trophies not to create a parallel between the cheques and some psychos collection of their victims hair.
“It was.” I say in response to her question, bringing myself back from the brink of psychotic accusation.
“Not the foreman?” My initial assumption. He’d just been fired by the victim and his home was in foreclosure. There were angry voicemail messages, provided by the actual killer, and testimony from a lot of workers that they had argued. Seemed to make sense. He was very angry and angry people do stupid things.
“Nope.”
“You’re sure?”
“His father was going to name his younger brother heir to the fortune.  He confessed that he’d got angry and beat his brother to death. Plus the gun he pointed at me was a pretty good indicator.” I explain, switching on my computer and sitting down behind my desk. I grimace slightly at the mess. I like tidiness, but sometimes I just can’t be bothered.
Amy paled a little. “A gun? I- I thought he was a soaker, that was bad enough.”
“He was, but he was a smart Soaker. I heated him up, made it so he couldn’t use his powers, but he had a gun as backup.” I look up, noticing her discomfort. “Hey, it’s alright, I survived didn’t I?”
She nodded, crossing her arms, self-consciously. “I know, but… I don’t know, I think that him having a gun makes it more real.”
I raise an eyebrow and the computer chimes on. “Sorry, I’ll be sure to tell you something more fantasy next time.”
She smiles slightly, covering her fear. I bring up my e-mails and wait a moment for them to fill into the inbox.
One e-mail from my informant in Amy’s mother’s estate, one from the police to acknowledge my report, ten from various spam sites that I’m certain are illegal, but instead of reporting them I send them to the spam folder.
“Any phone calls while I was out-”
“-Trying to get yourself killed.” I look up at her. A raised eyebrow expression with head cocked to the side, arms crossed and body leaning cockily on her right leg. She got that sarcastic expression from me, the humour was forced but the worry behind it was real. “Yeah, a couple of telemarketers and a Mrs Rhyan; Wants to know if her husband’s cheating on her.” She sighed, recalling her list. “You get a lot of calls about watching husbands, don’t you?”
“Yup.” I nod, double clicking the e-mail from her mother’s family. They used to be all I did, but since saving Great Lord Bowler’s niece from her then boyfriend my reputations improved and I can afford to be picky. “That’s the trouble with having publically displayed, number, people think their partners are cheating and run straight to the nearest business phone book.”
“I noticed, though, it’s all lantines-”
“Amy.” I say, sternly, looking up at the girl. “You know how I feel about that language.”
“Sorry.” She responds, embarrassed.
“We’re all people. Humans. Noble or common born.” I remind her, looking back at the e-mail. The word ‘lantine’ was what the slave class was called centuries ago. Common people had dropped the name, believing that all people were born the same, but the Nobles, like Amy’s grandparents on her mother’s side, clung to the distinctions.
“I just noticed; it’s always common-folk.” She continued.
“Yup.” I agree, reading through the e-mail from her grandfather’s people.
“Do nobles not cheat like common-folk?” She asks.
I look up at her and frown, shaking my head. “The common-folk get married for love, so when they think that their husband or wife is cheating; they care, they want to know what’s happening, they want to stop it if they can.”
“And the nobility doesn’t?”
“The nobility already know. They marry for money, power and alliances. Once they have an heir to their estate they often get mistresses, servants that they sleep with…” I explain.
“Mother loved you.” She disagreed.
I looked up at her with a soft expression, nodding. “There are exceptions to everything, hun. We married because we fell in love, even though your grandfather disapproved, cutting her off from the family fortune.” I look back down at the e-mail and smile, chuckling to myself. “Speaking of your grandpa…” I say as my eyes zip down the page in front of me. “He’s filing for custody again.”
Her arms drop dramatically to her sides and she releases a sigh of exasperation. “What now?”
“Citing a dangerous environment.” I read aloud. “Told him you’re working here then?”
She curses and I look up at her with a strict eyebrow raise. “It was his idea.” She sighs. “I thought he was just being a good grandfather…” I roll my eyes. I love her but she’s incredible naive. “Don’t worry, he won’t win.” She promises, sitting down opposite me and resting her hands on the table.
I raise my eyes in surprise. “He won’t?”
“I’ll just tell them I want to stay with you.”
I smile. “You’re not going to do that.” I tell her, “Just because your grandpa doesn’t want me near you doesn’t mean I’m going to have you alienate yourself from him.”
“Why?” She asks. “He’s nothing but horrible to you.”
“But he’s your family, you love him. I know you do.” I say. “Besides, who else am I going to turn to when I run out of money if we’ve both alienated him?”
She laughs and nods.
“Don’t worry about it.” I tell her. “We’ll get through it.” This was the sixth time he’d tried to take her away from me. He lost his petition every time- partly because the courts maintained that I was a capable and loving father, partly because the social care professional assigned to my area is a former client I saved from jail who keeps helping me out –but that doesn’t mean I’m not worried. He has a mansion and access to all the best schools. I have a three bedroom apartment overlooking Alduain square. Incredibly nice for someone who’s not a Nobleman, but it’s still not a mansion.
I bring up my invoice template, fill in all the details and attach it to an e-mail before sending it off to Lord Ferron. I doubt I’m ever going to work for the old man again, but he wanted to know who killed his son and now he does.
I stretch and shut the computer down, grabbing the days newspaper out from under the pile of documents I was reading before I realised what Ferron had done, and stand up.
“Ok, grab your things and we’ll head out.”

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That was it,  hope it wasn't too tedious.
Video!
- James

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