For several weeks, the members of Ruby Slippers Media have been posting snippets of our work here. At first, I had planned to share a bit of my published work, maybe something from Afterlife or Fathom. That’s the reasonable thing to do, right? Show you something that will intrigue you and possibly cause you to buy one of my books. But I’d rather show you something I’m working on right now—something that’s not finished and that you couldn’t buy, even if you wanted to.
The newest creation always burns the brightest and gives off the most heat, in the creator’s heart anyway.
So, below is part of chapter 4, from my current WIP, titled The Summer of Fire and Ice.
The room was brighter than any I’d been in before, with four oil lamps burning and a full fire crackling in the hearth. A welcoming heat rolled over me and I removed my cloak, carefully watching John as he stared down at the furry limbs spread across the table. They were from different animals, one hind leg was longer than the others and had silver fur, while the other legs were a dark grey; the torso was barrel-chested and wide and covered with black fur. I glanced in the nearby wheelbarrow and noticed that in the left over pieces, all of the heads save one had been crushed.
John reached into the barrow and drew out the one head that was still intact, jaws swinging open as he carried it to the table. I recognized it immediately. It was the head that had landed at my feet when I opened the front door.
I stepped back in horror, afraid its jaws were moving of its own accord.
“Do not worry, Mary,” John said. “It was only a reflex. Before long, the joints will stiffen, but for now they move easily. The beast is dead. But watch this.”
He took a stick and prodded one of the wolf’s legs. It flinched, as if trying to get away from the stick.
“What’s happening?” I asked.
“I’ve never seen this before, except in frog legs, but this is why I came here. For years, I’ve been looking for the right place, the right circumstances. I thought if I got to a crime scene in time, I might discover it, but I never did. Then I heard about how every year, there were mysterious violent deaths here, in the mountains that surrounded Lake Geneva, and I heard that sometimes the dead bodies that were left behind weren’t fully dead.”
He lifted his head to look at me, his dark eyes so deep that I worried I could get lost in them.
“I don’t understand. How can something be dead, but not fully dead?” I asked.
“I don’t know. But it sounded so close to the theories of Erasmus Darwin, that I had to explore it. I was the one who convinced Byron to come here, when he had to leave England. He knew some of the local folklore, so he thought this might be an intriguing intellectual adventure.” John was watching me, his gaze moving from my eyes to my mouth, then back. “But I didn’t know that he was going to invite you or Claire. I would never have willing brought either of you to a place that might be dangerous.”
“I’m not afraid,” I told him, realizing that it was true. “I don’t fully understand these theories, but I would like to know more.”
He smiled and, for an instant, the room seemed even brighter. There was a childlike innocence in his expression that I had never noticed before. Perhaps he had been hiding it from me, just like I tried to hide my bouts of melancholy from others.
“You were right when you said I was about to perform an experiment,” he said as he drew several items from the bag he always carried with him. He began by threading a long, curved needle with pale, flaxen thread. “I’m going to try stitching the animal back together. I don’t know what will happen, especially since I have pieces from different wolves here, but if there really is life left in this flesh, it’s possible I may be able to—”
He paused, as if he didn’t dare finish his sentence. So I finished it for him.
“Bring it back to life.”
He nodded. Then he began to sew.
I hope you enjoyed that portion of my latest creation! Thank you for stopping by to check out what’s going on at RSM blog. I hope you find something wonderfully beautiful and slightly scary to read for this weekend!
My book recommendations, if you're looking for something to read:
Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor
The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle
Ironskin by Tina Connolly
Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
Merrie Destefano is represented by Natalie Lakosil of the Bradford Literary Agency. Merrie’s published work includes Afterlife and Feast (both with HarperVoyager), Fathom, The Plague Carrier and Waiting For Midnight (with Ruby Slippers Press), and How To Draw Zombies (Walter Foster). She’s also the editor of Victorian Homes magazine and founding editor of Cottages and Bungalows magazine. She is the founder and owner of Ruby Slippers Media and Ruby Slippers Press, and her website is here.