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Tainted excerpt

Here's the excerpt I think I mentioned, um...yesterday. Also, PsyCop readers, dandy news. I finished the first draft of Camp Hell (I hesitate to call it a rough draft, because I've gone over it a few times and tweaked some stuff already) and neyronrose and I are talking about what works and what doesn't. I am brewing another not-PsyCop, not-Morpheus project while Camp Hell gestates a little.


Channeling Morpheus: Tainted
by Jordan Castillo Price

Heartless, soulless, generic and commercial. You gotta love these "big box" stores. I'd never set foot in one until I had a someone other than yours truly to look after. Never needed to. As long as I had enough smokes to keep me busy and a warm-blooded meal ticket nearby, I was happy enough with the clothes on my back.

The homicidal eye-candy I'd hooked up with had more needs than I did. Like food. Pens and notebooks. Somewhere to eat and sleep. And do the nasty.

So I bought us a van.

That's how it all starts, I guess. You let something stick, and the next thing you know, you start accessorizing it.

I pulled a card of earrings off a revolving rack full of shiny, shiny trinkets. Not bad. "I'm taking this," I told the clerk behind the counter, who smiled and gave me a finger wave. I tucked the earrings into my pocket.

Handbags. Slippers. Pantyhose. Sunglasses. I pulled a pair of cheap plastic shades off the display and tried them on. Thankfully the notion about vamps not casting reflections is just a weird idea someone dreamt up after chugging too much absinthe. How else would I be able to pick out a decent pair of shades if I couldn't make sure they looked good on me?

But of course they did. I snapped the price tag off and put them on. Better. The hyper-bright fluorescent lighting had really been doing a number on my impressionable retinas.

Hats. Wallets. Scarves. I stopped and stared. Some of 'em were grandma-scarves, sure. But some of 'em were slinky and long. I took a black one, pulled off the tag, looped it around my neck. Nice.

I sniffed the air. Lots of humans teeming through the store, even at quarter to ten. Despite the smorgasbord of scents, I zeroed in easily enough on the one I wanted.

Michael.

He stood at a glass countertop shaped just like the jewelry island, except this one was full of cameras and phones, and other little gadgets I'd never heard of, and had no desire to know what they did.

I unwound the scarf from my neck and wrapped it around his. Not only would he feel less self-conscious about the series of thin, neat cuts I'd left on him with my trusty flip-around knife, but he'd give Marc Bolan a run for his money in the jerk-off fantasy department. I'd refrain from telling him that, since given his age, I couldn't hope for anything more than a blank stare in return.

He leaned into me, pressed his side against my side. "Look." He pointed at a plastic rectangle.

"Yeah?"

"It's a computer."

"It is?" It was the size of the cigar box I kept my paintbrushes in, back in the Dark Ages.

"If I had one of those, I wouldn't need to spend so much time at the library. We could park outside a coffee shop and I could hop online."

I was probably giving him the same look he would've given me if I'd told him he'd pass for a member of T-Rex. "So get it."

He went real quiet. "It's almost thee hundred dollars. Plus tax."

I squatted and pressed my nose against the glass. I didn't understand money at all. Smokes had gone from a buck twenty-five a pack to six, while computers had dropped from five grand to a lousy three hundred -- plus tax. Good thing I never had to pay for anything. I'd get taken for a ride, for sure.

There was a kid in a blue polyester vest behind the counter who'd been doing his best to look close and available, but also courteous and unobtrusive. He wasn't too successful. Mostly he looked awkward. "Gimme one of those," I told him. "The pink one." Because if a computer company was ridiculous enough to make a paperback-sized laptop in pink, how could I not get that one? "Ring it up however you need to. We're taking it."

He pressed some keys, scanned the box, and gave it to me. I handed it to Michael. I could tell he wanted to whisper some token protests at me, but he also wanted his new toy badly enough that he knew better than to complain about it.

When he finally did find his voice, he said, "We should probably get a car charger."


Buy Channeling Morpheus: Tainted here!

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
neyronrose
Oct. 13th, 2008 02:20 am (UTC)
Even in the first draft, I thought Camp Hell was powerful. I don't think I'm spoiling anything when I say that Vic's memories of his time there are very enlightening.

And in the other series, Wild Bill's jaded viewpoint is always so much fun to read. :)
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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