Book 2: Marcus Summanus and the House of Rubicon will begin updates in October of 2020.
The first draft is roughed into position, looking a little bruised and sweaty. It’ll be in proper fighting-trim by the time you get a gander. Next steps include making it look like I knew what it wanted to be all along (I did not. The document on my hard disk is still called Cold Morning Book II – Circus of Souls.docx because I thought it was going to be about a circus. Spoiler: it is not).
A few bits and pieces:
“How many dreaming diamonds did Hilda say there were?” I ask, looking over Jenny’s shoulder.
I count the items in the list and then say: “Hell.”
Jenny stares at the note in her hand. Her eyes are whirlpools. “Your father knows about the diamonds?” She asks, but there’re a dozen more questions buried in that one.
A shiver up my spine and the slither of tombstone shadows across uneven ground whisper to me that she is gathering power. I decide to buy her some time. “My name is Marcus Augustus Summanus. You don’t really expect me to stand aside, right? Has that ever worked?”
The priest advances. “I know what you are,” he booms. “A demon in an unshriven corpse, serving she who bound you there. Did she murder your body before she called you up, or did she just dig up a grave and get lucky that you had all your limbs?”
His blade lances at me—lengthening in the air like a sunlight through the smoke. Startled, I do not respond in time, but Sylvia does. She’s between us, holding a spread-fingered winter tree-branch in her left hand. Her twig knocks his sword aside in a spray of bark.
And one last, from a completely different scene:
The lead car doesn’t try to turn into the drive. It rolls to a stop at the intersection and the driver’s window slides down. The man behind the wheel has a roman nose and skin like ivory behind his wiry beard. A suit-collar peeks past the top of his robe, but the robe is white, and its peaked hood lays spread in his lap. “How do you do,” he says, with a casual wave. “A bit cold to be out without a coat.”
“Yes,” I say.
Ageless eyes consider me. He nods in the slow and thoughtful way of the village elder considering a moral quandary. “Heard there was a colored fella living up here. Thought we aught to warn him.”
My furrowed brow disturbs the crust of snow building up there. “Warn me about what?”
His pale fingers scrape his beard. “Well we’re off to a clan picnic. Gonna have ourselves a nice little get together, praise the lord and gather the furies. You see any colored fellas, you tell them that they had better be gone by the time we finish our picnic.”
“You have told him yourself.”
“Have I?” He squints over his glasses, and then repeats his nod. “Well then. So I have.”
The wind blows between us and around us with the cracking voice of the oak trees and the ice-crusted wires. I wait. The red of his aggression is embers in his eyes. He doesn’t move. The aggression doesn’t spill out. It builds.
He says: “We’ll be back.”
The caravan moves forward. One by one their cars rumble by. A family of five children press white faces to the windows of a touring car, festooning me with their object fascination. A woman, probably their mother, points at me and speaks, but I cannot hear her words. All the children nod except one–a boy at the back with dark, sad eyes. As the car moves away, he draws his peaked white Klan hood over his face, and then the two black holes of his eyes fade into tire-dust and engine exhaust.