Regular life has kept me ultra busy over the last day or so and I haven’t had time to write up my dame post. So, seeing one of the requests we got from Dame Kaz’s post was for snippets of works in progress, that’s what I thought I’d post. This is from Dark Angels (aka Risa’s story) and it’s basically raw. So, there may be errors because I don’t do major edits until I finish the story. It is also contracted so I won’t be posting a whole lot of it–just enough to tease 🙂
This is from the first chapter. Risa has been asked by her mother to visit a client’s daughter in hospital. Said daughter is on life support and the doctors have advised turning the machines off. Risa, who can see reapers and talk to the souls of the dying, is there to see whether the daughter’s soul has already moved on.
A nurse looked up as I approached the desk. “May I help you?”
“I’m here to see Hanna Kingston.”
She hesitated, briefly looking me up and down. “Are you family?”
“No, but her parents asked me to come down. I’m Risa Jones.”
“Oh,” she said, then her eyes widened slightly as the name registered. “The daughter of Dia Jones?”
I nodded. “Mrs. Kingston is a client. She asked me to come down here.”
“I’ll have to check.”
I nodded again, watching as she rose and walked through the door that separated the reception area from the intensive care wards. Down that bright hall a shrouded figure waited. Another reaper. Another soul about to pass.
I closed my eyes and took a long, slow breath. I could do this.
The nurse came back, and with her was another woman. She was small and dark haired, her sharp features and brown eyes drawn and tired looking.
“Risa,” she said, offering me her hand. “Fay Kingston. I’m glad you were able to come.”
I shook her hand briefly. Her grief seemed to crawl from her flesh and made my heart ache. I pulled away gently from her touch and flexed my fingers. The grief still clung to them, stinging lightly. “There’s no guarantee I can help you. She might have already made her decision.”
The woman licked her lips and nodded, but the brightness in her eyes suggested she wasn’t ready to believe it. “Your mother’s already explained all that. We just need to know-” she stopped, tears washing her eyes. She took a deep breath, and gave me a bright, false smile. “This way.”
I followed her through the door and down the bright hall, the echo of our footsteps like a strong, steady heartbeat. The shrouded reaper didn’t look our way–his concentration was on his soul. I glanced into the room as we passed him. It was a boy of about eight years old. There were machines and doctors clustered all around him, working frantically. There’s no hope, I wanted to say. Let him go in peace.
I looked away. I’d been wrong before. Maybe I’d be wrong this time.
Although it wasn’t likely with the reaper standing there.
Three doorways down from the reaper, Mrs. Kingston swung left into a room and walked across to a dark haired man sitting near the bed. I stopped in the doorway, barely even registering his presence as my gaze was drawn to the small form on the bed.
She was a dark-haired bundle of bones that looked swamped in the stark whiteness of the hospital room. Machines surrounded her, doing the work for her body, keeping her alive. Her face was drawn, gaunt, and there were dark circles under her closed eyes.
I couldn’t feel her. But I couldn’t feel the presence of a reaper, either, and that surely had to be a good sign.
“Do you think you can help her?” a deep voice asked.
I jumped, and my gaze flew to the father’s. “I honestly don’t know. I can try.”
He nodded, his gaze drifting back to his baby girl. “Then try. Either way, we need to know what to do next.”
I took a deep, somewhat shuddering breath, and blinked away the tears stinging my eyes once more.
I could do this. For her sake, for their sake, I could do this. If she was in there, if she was trapped between this world and the next, then she needed someone to talk to. Someone who could help her make a decision. That someone had to be me. There was no one else.
I forced my feet forward. The closer I got, the more I could feel…well, the oddness.
Pain and fear and hunger swirled around her tiny body like a storm, but there was no spark, no glimmer of consciousness, nothing to indicate that life had ever existed within her flesh.
It shouldn’t have been like that. If death was her destiny, then there would have been a reaper here waiting. There wasn’t, so either the time for her decision had not arrived or she was slated to live.
So why could I not feel her?
Frowning, I sat down on the edge of the bed and picked up her hand. Her flesh was warm, though why that surprised me I wasn’t entirely sure.
I took another deep breath and slowly released it. As I did so, I released the awareness of everything and everyone else, concentrating on little Hanna, reaching for her–not physically but psychically. The world around me faded, until the only thing existing on this plane was me and her. Warmth throbbed at my neck–Ilianna’s magic at work, protecting me as my psyche, my soul, or whatever else people liked to call it, pulled away from the constraints of my flesh and moved gently across to hers.
Only it felt like I’d stepped into the middle of a battle ground.
And it was a battle that had gone very, very badly.
Fear and pain became physical things that battered my psyche with terrible force, tearing at my heart and ripping through my soul. My chest burned, breathing became difficult, and all I could feel was fear. My fear, her fear, all twisted into one stinking mess that made my stomach roil and my flesh crawl.
And then there was the screaming. Unvoiced, unheard by anyone but me, it reverberated through the emptiness of her flesh, echoes of agony in the bloody, battered shell that had once held a little girl’s being.
Her soul wasn’t here, but it hadn’t moved on.
Someone–something–had forcibly ripped it from her flesh.