I’ve been working on this one for a while now — a few months — and it’s in that awfulGod will I never be able to stop working on this stage of it, but I’m plugging away, I’m about two-thirds done, and I do at least have a pretty good idea of where it’s going.
As I said a few weeks back, it’s set a hundred years or so into a future where the US is in shambles and the gap between the rich and the poor has become unbelievably huge, where the currently questionable line between corporations and governments and the military has eroded into meaninglessness, and where augmentation of the body is commonplace and, for certain elements of society, basically necessary. My protagonist is a Good Samaritan for Michael, a guy who ends up having weird and worrying powers and who may — or may not be — an angel. And the two of them get wrapped up in trying to find a stolen and highly dangerous weapon. And there’s a sister with dubious allegiances. And yeah.
Excerpt after the cut. Quick setup: Samir, Michael, and Ashmita have arranged to meet with a dissident group who they think is involved in the theft of the weapon. But they aren’t the only ones looking for it, and — predictably — things don’t go smoothly.
– – –
Samir dropped to the tiled platform floor. It was all instinct—he hadn’t heard any shots fired, but that didn’t mean that none had been. Dimly he was aware of other dropping bodies all around him—Ash, the woman, and two heavier but more distant scuffling thuds that might have been her bodyguards.
The light was blinding. He squeezed his eyes shut, thinking, We’re dead, we’re all fucking dead. Or maybe not dead. Maybe just hours from it. DiSec was hard to predict—you hardly ever heard about them catching dissidents or what happened to them after. Things like that didn’t make the entertaining parody that passed for the newsfeeds.
But Samir thought it likely that the sheer lack of information didn’t bode well.
“Come up the steps in single file,” came a voice from the station’s upper level. It didn’t exactly boom. It hardly even sounded amplified in the traditional sense. What it was hum; it vibrated through the concrete and stone and seemed to push itself up into Samir’s head through the cheek that he had pressed to the floor. It was literally dizzying. That was likely by design.
“Come up the steps in single file with your hands behind your head. You are being detained for questioning and investigation of your persons and your purpose. Do not resist and you will not be hurt.”
“Fuck that,” spat the woman. She had crawled closer and was now only a foot away from where Samir lay. “We had you tracked here this whole way. No one was tailing you. How the fuck did they make us?”
“You were tracking me,” Samir pointed out, breathless. If Phoenix had been able to do it… “Maybe they were tailing you.”
“Shut up,” she hissed. She pushed herself up on her hands, craning her head to look around, behind her, toward the rear of the station. “The tracks. Some of the tunnels are blocked, but not all.”
“We can—“ Samir was raising his head, looking for Ashmita, when he saw it.
Michael. Standing. Staring up into the light.
“Michael!” He felt a clutch of terror, then, and wasn’t sure where it actually originated or toward what it was actually directed. “Get down! They could start shooting any—“
Michael was changing.
It was at once exactly like the night market and nothing like it. In the night market, whatever Michael had become had already been in full effect; there had been no change to witness, no body slowly tearing itself bloodlessly apart from the inside out, skin peeling away into nothing in ripples and waves and swirling tendrils of spinning blades. They rose from Michael’s body like clouds of shining insects as he lifted arms that were no longer arms at all. There was the whispering hiss of metal on metal as he moved, as the thing inside him emerged.
From his back erupted two greater and more massive waves, more solid than the rest. They beat slowly. They pushed him gently into the air.
Wings, Samir thought, and then he thought he might be screaming.