Excerpt of “The Clockwork Seer” and Character Casting{0}

The Steel and Bone anthology will be released on Saturday, and in addition to pre-ordering the book, you can enter a Rafflecopter giveaway with a lot of awesome giveaways (free books, a ThinkGeek giftcard, and more!).

While you’re waiting, here’s an excerpt of my contribution to Steel and Bone, “The Clockwork Seer,” and my Character Casting.

Excerpt from “The Clockwork Seer”

There were too many people, but once the music started Medina could ignore them well enough. Her private viewing box made it easier, giving her a little separation from the crowd. Well-dressed men and women pushed through the aisles of the concert hall, finding their seats. Medina tasted cinnamon, a product of her own excitement and the energy of those surrounding her. Today’s performer hailed from the mainland: the brilliant Lucio Adessi, the best musician to visit the island this year. It was Sunday, the one day of the week that offered midday concerts.

The muscles in Medina’s arms convulsed. She clenched her hands onto the sides of her chair. The vision came as it always did: a shaking of her muscles, and a flash of colors and emotions. This time a spattering of small black and brown shapes cavorted across her sight, the taste of sour grapes sat on her tongue, and the scent of burning coal invaded her nose with a touch of fear. The vision was mild though, not overwhelming, thanks to the clockwork in Medina’s body which translated her visions into words and actions. Medina was mostly human—only a small part clockwork—and she often wished the sight would stop afflicting her so she could live a normal life. But she couldn’t do anything to prevent her clairvoyance. She waited expectantly for the typewriter in her right hip to print out instructions.

Thud, thud, thud, went the type hammers as they swung, pressing the metal slugs of type onto a small piece of paper. Then the typing stopped.

Medina paused with her hand to her hip, hesitating to take the paper. She tasted pickles, as she often did when she felt uncertain. Even when not receiving precognition, Medina experienced tastes and smells related to her emotions. Fortunately, this medical condition only ever heightened those two senses, while the visions flooded her five senses and all the nerves in her body.

The island caused her extrasensory gifts—or curses. The visions in particular tended to trouble her at inconvenient times, such as now, with the concert about to start. She did not want to miss it.

But she could not ignore a vision. She dared not risk it. Especially since the experience tasted of sour grapes, which she generally associated with monsters.

Medina glanced around to make sure no one was watching her, then opened the metal compartment in her side, which jutted out about an inch from her hip. She removed the piece of paper.

Tell the hall master to put out the nets.

The nets had only one purpose: to catch mechanical spiders. The newspaper hadn’t mentioned mechanical spiders in today’s forecast, but that didn’t matter. Medina’s visions were much more limited (and incredibly less useful) than those of the seer who worked for the newspaper: Medina could only foretell things directly related to herself, and only in the immediate future. Unlike most of those gifted with clairvoyance, she didn’t actually view the future; rather, what specifically she should do about it. But Medina’s visions were always accurate, so even if life would be easier without them, when they came she had to act, because of the small chance it might be about something important.
Medina dashed out of her loge—her private viewing box—not caring that people noticed her exit. She ran to the lobby of the building and hailed Mr. Frederic Cunningham, who owned the concert hall.

“Mr. Cunningham!” she gasped. “You need to put out the nets.”

“Spiders only come in the evening,” Mr. Cunningham replied. “It’s midday.”

But Medina had not planned to be here this evening, which meant the spiders could come at any moment. “You must put the nets out now. It’s important. I swear it on my life.” Medina’s hands shook. She folded them in front of her body, trying to stabilize herself. Even when ameliorated by clockwork, visions made her body weak and fragile.

Mr. Cunningham looked at the metal compartment in her hip. He knew she was part clockwork, and a seer. He’d grown to like her, as she had come to every single performance in the hall for the last four years. He had noticed that she preferred to sit alone, so he had given her one of the private loges without extra charge. Yet he obviously did not want to look like a fool by putting out his nets in the middle of the day. And she had never had a vision while in the concert hall before—in fact, she had never told him specifics about any of her extrasensory experiences.

“Please,” Medina pleaded. “Do it right now.” She had her own nets at home, but she could not bring them back in time.

“Very well,” said Mr. Cunningham. “But it better not deter anyone who is late to the concert.”

He instructed his assistants to put out nets. They looked confused but did not argue with him as they turned the cranks to lower the nets outside of the entryways and windows.

And then they waited, staring expectantly outside. No one knew exactly where the mechanical monsters came from or why there were so many more of them on the island than on the mainland. Rumors spread constantly about their mysterious creators and their plans, but Medina did not know what to believe.

A few seconds later, Medina gagged on the taste of sour grapes. Mechanical spiders rained down from the sky. They were the size of large dogs. Normally they rained all over the island, injecting venom into anything that could move and then crushing them with their mechanical jaws. But today they rained only on the street of the concert hall.

Men, women, and children on the street screamed and dashed away from the spiders. But the spiders did not attack them: they scampered on their eight legs across the road’s concrete surface towards the music hall, as if drawn by a magnet. She’d never seen them act like this before.
Medina tasted blood: fear.

 

#sorrynotsorry for leaving you with a cliffhanger. Now go pre-order the book!

Character Casting

My main character, Medina Nejem:

Clockwork Seer Profiles - Medina Nejem

 

My leading male, Lucio Adessi:

Clockwork Seer Profiles - The Virtuoso

 

And the tinker:

Clockwork Seer Profiles - The Tinker

 

And here’s a final link to the Rafflecopter. Lots of goodies await you!