October 3, 2013

A Short, Short Story by Nicolas Wilson, author of "The Necromancer's Gambit"

Nicolas Wilson is a published journalist, graphic novelist, and novelist. He lives in the rainy wastes of Portland, Oregon with his wife, two cats and a dog.

Nic has written eight novels, and several short story collections. Nexus, Whores not intended to be a factual account of the gender war, and Dag are currently available for e-reader, and paperback.
The Necromancer's Gambit, Banksters, Homeless, Singularity, and Lunacy are all due for publication in the next two years.

Nic's work spans a variety of genres, from political thriller to science fiction and urban fantasy. 

Nic has stopped by the blog with a short little diddy to help promote his new novel, The Necromancer's Gambit. Enjoy.

a short story
Nicolas Wilson

He’s got a face like a stomped-in grapefruit. He’s pitiful, and under any other circumstances I might feel bad for him. “What the fuck were you doing?” I ask.

“What did you say?” he asks, indignant. He is the victim, after all. But he’s also trespassing- culturally. So I fix him with a glare and don’t give him anywhere else to go but where I want him. “I, I was getting the shit kicked out of me. Which you know.”

“Because I stopped it. Which I’m already starting to regret.”

He swallows. He was barely conscious, but he knows some of what happened to the men attacking him- enough to be afraid.

“I was doing research.” Great. The last thing I need is another muckraker like the Eyeblogger. “For my novel.” Or J.K. Rowling.

“Urban fantasy, dark fiction?”

“Dark fiction, I like that,” he sniffles, but not because he’s about to cry. His nose is starting to bleed again. I hand him a tissue and he tears off a corner and shoves it in his nostril to stop up the blood. “Thanks. I’d heard, well, I’d heard there was a coven, in Portland. I’ve gone my entire life without having anything interesting happen to me, and in my own backyard- wizards.” His eyes light up.

“I think wizards, I think the Cookie Crisp mascot, in the blue robes with white moons and stars on it.”

“But they’re real,” he says. “I saw it.”

Yeah. I was hoping he wouldn’t remember; they gave him quite a kicking. Plan B, then. “How exactly does that help you?”

He respects the answer, or mistakes it for me respecting his intelligence by not lying to him, when really I just didn’t like my odds if I try to. He was stupid enough to get beaten by some delinquent mages in a dark street, I’m not impressed by his cognition. “I love writing. Always have. But the filthy little secret about writing is it’s needy. It doesn’t work without an audience. I need an audience. But audiences don’t want to be needed. They want you, and your work, to be so damnably impressive, that there’s no way they could not read it. And that requires something. I’ve published before, several exciting things that I think mix fun, interesting characters with bombastic action and intelligent conflict- think the best combination of the cinematic stylings of Michael Bay and Stephen Spielberg.”

“Didn’t they work together on Transformers?” I ask.

He wants to argue, but realizes I’m right. “Hmm,” he says. “I’d say with no undue humility I think my work has been better than Transformers- all of them- even the best of them cut into a sizzle reel. But I haven’t struck a chord with the audience yet. And something about the concept of a coven operating out of Portland-”

“Not a coven,” I interrupt him, which is probably a mistake, but there’s only so much crap about his process I can stand without wanting to finish what those thugs started. “Covens are witches, small, basically unorganized and usually without any centralized leadership. Tend towards communal rule.”

“Like anarchists. But there is a magical government in Portland, isn’t there?” I don’t answer. “Hmm. But it’s not a coven.”

“We call it a gambit. The name goes back centuries. It was essentially what we did in response to the Inquisition- it was our opening move, and worked well enough we kept it up.”

“Hmm,” he says with a little self-satisfied grin. “It even kind of sounds like ‘government;’ perhaps too clever by half, but still, not without its charm.”

“You know what is? I’d lay even money those three punks wanted to eat you.”

His eyes get wide as the night’s moon- not quite full, but nearly there. “The tall, skinny one, was a vamp- that I could tell you. They aren’t supposed to know what he did- so beyond the assault he was an outlaw- even among his own kind. The stocky one had a tattoo, one associated with ulfhethnar culture.”

“Ulfheth-” he tries to mouth the word as if that will explain its meaning to him.

“Werewolves, the genetic bloodline who mostly tend to keep to themselves and not eat people. Mostly. Could be he’s a poser, but with the company he keeps, I’ll say I wouldn’t put money on that hope. And you notice the mannerisms of the last? How he wouldn’t stop shaking, or laughing uncontrollably? I’ve known one diet that makes a man act like that: human flesh. “

That seems too much for him to believe, and his fear turns to incredulity. “Fuck you, I’m not stupid enough to-”

I stop him with a raised eyebrow, and he knows I’m sitting on a whole pile of shoes I’m waiting to drop on him. “Comes from kuru, a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy- think mad cow, and you’re not far off. A specific magical discipline involves the use- sometimes including ingestion and sex- of and with the flesh of corpses. I can’t say for certain why they jumped you, but I’d surmise you were in for an unpleasant night.”

I can tell he’s teetering on the edge. He wants to run away, and forget everything about tonight. But he knows there’s a world of weirdness just behind a few closed doors, if only he can figure out the magic words to open them. I give him one last, good shove. “You’re standing on the precipice of a world that wants nothing but to devour you. This is not a place for spectators, or the curious. I’m offering you advice, the last friendly words you’re likely to hear- and know that next time I won’t happen around the corner at the last minute. Turn around, unless you like being at the bottom of the food chain.”

“I will,” he lies, uncertain if he can. He pushes out of his chair, and leaves.

I know how he feels.  


About The Necromancer's Gambit: Knight, the sheriff of the local magical government, or “the Gambit,” is called to recover a mutilated body, tainted with magic and dumped at a popular haunt. When the corpse is identified as a close associate of the Gambit, he suspects a larger conspiracy threatening the fragile peace amongst the city's magic-wielding factions. As more bodies fall, Knight finds himself fighting for the lives of those he cares about.

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