I’m working on two tonally very different books at the moment, which makes dreaming weird. The stories keep folding into each other in the small hours and I’m left wondering about curiosities and art and clockwork and charm.
The one book is a young adult urban fantasy. I guess. I mean, it doesn’t have vampires or angels or fairies in it. It does have a (maybe) dead man in a leather trench-coat and a girl with serious issues in the crush-department. Also, rats. Lots of rats. And the other is adult set in a secondary world, and much more traditional fantasy, whatever that means. (It means it has dragons, I suppose.)
I find it easier to work on the YA in the morning when I’m feeling bitter and filled with hate for the world. Angry Cat likes to lash out. In the afternoon, once the coffee has soothed me, I can tackle the more intricate world of the other book.
It’s kind interesting seeing how my mood affects what I’m working on.
So the morning voice:
Rain sits close, and leans back on the palms of his hands, relaxed. “Sit, he won’t bite you,” he says.
“I’ll start at the beginning,” Caleb says.
Well, I guess we have time enough. “What’s that – Genesis?”
“I have the art,” he says, simply. Like I’m supposed to know what that means.
“Great,” I say. “Good for you.”
“There are very few of us who can use the art and charm people and things with magic and music.” His face is very serious. “And not all of us are nice.”
“Tell me about it.” I hope my sarcasm is showing because, really.
“Some of us are dangerous.” He sighs, leans back. “All you need to know is that one of those dangerous and not-nice people is in Joburg right now, and that’s why I’m here. He has something I want. I was in Egypt when I heard the rumour that he had risen here again and that he was looking for someone, and I came down. For a while, I had his scent, and then I lost it.”
“What happened?” The room feels unreal.
Caleb shifts, the smoke clouding around him, obscuring his face. “The most prosaic of endings,” he says. “I’d been back here a week when I was hit by a taxi.”
It was him. He surprises a choked laugh out of me. “I thought you have this art thing; couldn’t use it to step out of the way of a hurtling mini-bus?”
He draws on his cig and says nothing.
“So you were dead,” I prompt. Under my shirt, the icy pendant seems to be sinking right into my skin, burning a cold hole all the way to my breastbone. “That must have put a damper on your plans. What are you now – a zombie? Let me guess, you ate Rain’s brains and now he’s a zombie too. Except,” I glare at Rain, “slim pickings.”
Rain just flicks his middle finger at me, lazy, unconcerned.
And the afternoon voice:
“I cannot rule you with a name like Tet-Nanak,” she says sourly, “and you know it.”
“And I have no name to give you in exchange for my soul.”
“Then we have no bargain.” She drops her hand and turns to look at me. Her eyes are slanted and large, her eyebrows like the wings of birds. Her nose is long and narrow. She is a handsome woman despite the pale skin.
“Then I will die.” I’m desperate. She must give me my soul back. All she can do with it is torture me to a slow nameless death. Perhaps she is petty enough to think that fitting. “I cannot tell you my name, but I can promise to help you retrieve the breastplate Shoom is paying you for.”
“You think you know everything, Tet-Nanak,” she says softly, and her breath is cold and her hair is fragrant as seven-petals. “You would be wrong.”
“Give me my soul.” It is close enough to grab, and casting all instinct aside, I reach up and close my hand around it, willing the magic out from the stone and back into me.
Kani laughs and catches my wrist with her right hand. It is very cold and hard, and she crushes my grip easily, She is stronger than I could ever have realised. “It will not work until it rests around your own neck.” I can’t see the wards on her skin, not now, but I can feel myself being shifted back, pushed away. She lets go of my hand and uses her magic to send me backward.
“Please,” I say, broken. I will beg, if I have to. I have no pride left, just the empty prospect of my approaching end.
Kani turns to hold the fur at Nanak’s neck, and swings herself back onto her mount. “I’ll think about it,” and for a moment her voice is not the haughty, throaty voice of the princess. Pal-em-Rasha’s market accent flickers below it like a fish in a muddy stream. She is losing her grip on her fiction as she spreads out her magic to keep me away from her.
Actually, now they feel more similar… hahaha who knows.