It’s only Tuesday and already this week is busy. I’m hard at work finishing the last preparations for the publication of “Raven’s Fall” this Friday and before the entire short story collection of Musings becomes available for preorder in a couple of weeks. I cannot wait for the Musings book cover unveiling! The cover art is so beautiful! For now though, I hope you’ll be content with a short story excerpt from the book. The short story “City of Twilight” is about a pack of werewolves living in Central Park. It is also the first fiction short story I ever wrote. Enjoy!
The setting sun peeked through the gray clouds, illuminating the cracked concrete with its wan light. Darkness would soon overtake the city and once again release the Nightmares, but for now the sunlit ruins were relatively safe.
“I hope so anyway,” Carn murmured.
The shaggy black werewolf sat quietly at his post on the grassy hill and surveyed the shattered buildings closest to his forest home. His hazel eyes constantly darted from shadow to lengthening shadow as he searched for movement among the ruined streets while his nose continually sampled the damp air for unnatural odors.
He could still make out the architectural details of the crumbling building nearest to his section of forest—a stone virgin stared at him with blackened eyes as she knelt beneath the remnants of a cracked cross. There was little left of the structure’s steep roof and even less of its flower-shaped, stained-glass windows. What had the church looked like when it was whole? How manicured had Carn’s forest been when it still acted as the central park to this enormous American metropolis? The Human Plague had reduced the city surrounding Carn’s home to a necropolis. Then the subsequent 40 years of Nightmare Wars had twisted it further into a ruin. It was a pity that so much beauty had come to such spoil.
“A pity, but not unexpected. As my father always said, ‘Pride goes before destruction.’ And the human scientists had more pride than even the worst angels,” Carn said and shook his head. “If the fools hadn’t tried to kill us off with the Henbane Virus, most of them would still be alive to threaten us today. How ironic.”
Carn’s tongue lolled out, but his silent laugh quickly faded as a cold tingle suddenly crawled the length of his spine. Frowning, he checked the nearby underground cache of Henbane Catalyst that he and his packmates used to bolster their shape-shifting abilities. Carefully he pulled out the black rubber stopper of one of the glass vials with his fangs and took a small sip before resealing the container. His laugh returned as the warmth of the formula spread out from his stomach to his extremities. He flexed the muscles in his limbs appreciatively as the serum took full effect. He would be ready to shift from a wolf into a human and back again in a few moments’ time if the need came.
He took a quick inventory of the full vials as he stashed his brew once again. More than enough to last the month. Good, he thought. We’ll not have to run to the Sinai Ruins for more until the next full moon, then.
And speaking of running…
Carn’s ears perked at the sound of fast footfalls. His eyes followed his ears to the corner of a half-shattered apartment complex and spied a frantic human female sprinting across the broken pavement toward the safety of the trees.
Her eyes and voice were filled with terror. “Help me, someone, please!”
The werewolf growled in surprise. He knew of only two human families still living on the outskirts of his forest territory. His pack held protection pacts with both of them, which allowed their members to come to the forest on hunting and bartering trips. This female belonged to neither of those clans. Carn howled a warning to his scattered pack as he ran to intercept the stranger…
Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia C. Cooke and/or Alycia Christine Sears at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!