Here’s an excerpt from my forthcoming novel, Force, the sequel to last years, Inertia … this is from the non-copy-edited version, but it’s still awesome!
A massive blue funnel stretches up from the ground. It’s at least five times the size of the one in Ivanhoe. As it materializes, stretching up to the clouds with its heat and wind, snaking gracefully between the buildings, coating the bricks in heat and soot, I’m mesmerized.
The firm lines of the buildings beyond it bend from the heat. The mouth of the burning cone doesn’t face the ground like it did in Ivanhoe. It faces upward like it’s waiting for Daemon who’s still drifting in free-fall.
Are you really going to jump off a building? I ask myself as I take in the scene, trying to recall how many flights of stairs I climbed chasing Daemon. How many stories? Couldn’t have been more than seven. Maybe eight.
That’s survivable. Right?
“Sack up,” I tell myself and then take a gulp of air and hold it. He’s got my stones, not my balls.
Daemon blurs into the rainbow interior of the gateway. And I leap, just like he did, only less dramatic. I dive headlong after him rather than placing my arms out at each side like a moron.
After I’ve flung myself into the scorching storm, as I’m sailing through the blazing wind, that’s the moment I realize how stupid this is.
The rocks are what protected me from the gateway. I’m not in their protective bubble. I’m outside the funnel, contorted by the violent blue fog that burns and pushes me back from the upturned opening instead of suctioning me inside.
I’m not falling, but twisting and thrashing through the wind, making for the window that hovers high above the ground. Moving my arms and legs like I’m swimming against the current.
Hope rises as the rainbow wheel looms closer. I’m going to make it!
I’m screaming on the inside as I fly through the mouth of the vortex just as it starts shrinking. My skin feels too thin, but the rainbow wheel inside the tunnel is beautiful as ever.
And then it’s gone. I’m surrounded by darkness, folding into a forgiving surface that feels moist and smells of wet earth. I splatter like a pile of laundry hitting the end of the chute.
There’s no sound except the shuffling of feet as I get up.
My eyes adjust quickly and I don’t feel sick. This is good, makes it easier to keep pace with Daemon. And I do keep the pace right behind him, kicking my legs high.
Reaching for the tails of that damn jacket, I’m glad he’s still wearing it. I’m about to close-in on the fabric, about to feel it sweeping against my fingertips… and then the tell-tale blue fog appears again, with the crashing sound of the gateway opening.
The rainbow wheel illuminates the night ahead. I leap inside right after Daemon.
The next world is bright. Warm rays of sun are blinding. I shade my eyes and keep kicking, noticing that everything looks normal, older than the 1990’s, but normal.
My legs are stiffening from all the running while Daemon’s stride is still vigorous and quick. When I trip over a surprised kid on a huge skateboard and fall a half-block behind while getting up, I know that without a huge stroke of luck there’s a good chance he’ll get away.
A black Saab pulls up to the curb just ahead of me. A woman wearing a wide-collared power suit hops out of the drivers’ seat and casually walks around the other side of her idling car to pop a stack of mail into blue drop-off box on the curb.
My father used to say that luck is there for those that need it. He also used to say that success was for those who recognize opportunities. The empty Saab looks like both to me.
The engine purrs, smoothly shifting into fourth as I hit the intersection, taking my chances at the red light. I can see Daemon up ahead; hard not to notice a huge bald guy with a snake head tattooed on his bare scalp. He’s still on the move but looks to have slowed a little, assuming that he’s lost his tail.
He spots me at the perfect moment. Right as he comes up to the next intersection, when there’s a break in foot traffic on the sidewalk. I see the way his eyes widen when the Saab jumps the curb.
The victorious thunk of the tires hitting their target is short-lived. I don’t know how, but instead of thrashing over him, Daemon somehow ends up on top of the hood. His big ugly beard blocks my view of the road as I veer off the sidewalk and back into traffic, nicking at least one other car.
A few screams. More horns. And a black stare from the man that killed my father. I make sure to look him directly into those beads of emptiness as I make for the side of the nearest building and give my parting words.
“See you in hell.”
He glances behind him, sees the wall he’s about to munch, then turns back to say something that sounds like he’s asking if I can swim. But that can’t be right. I mean, I can swim, but what does water have to do with—
A huge vortex opens and I’m going too fast. It’s all there: the bustling city, then rainbow colors, the heat, and blue fog.
In a heartbeat it’s gone, replaced by water. Lots of water. Everywhere. Gushing in through the doors and windows.
The car is completely submerged and filling fast. I take a deep breath and brace myself, trying to think through the surprised panic.
It’s just water. Rushing into the car through open half-open windows. It’s filling with bubbling cold and Daemon is gone. Through the windshield, I make out his wavy form getting smaller and higher as the car sinks and he swims away.