Merry Mischief Making, everyone. Those of you across the pond, please forgive my lack of cultural understanding about Mischief Night on November 4, and then Bonfire Night on November 5. That stated, I find it intriguing this was the night in 1605 when Guy Fawkes attempted to explosively put an end to the House of Lords.
What if Guy Fawkes had succeeded? Certainly, from my viewpoint, it would be a more-than-fascinating story -- a rearranging of events as translated into current times. After all, what would our world look like, be like now?
Ah, the stuff of parallel dimensions explored, perhaps entwining, then influencing our times as some mystics and far-edge, quantum physicists believe. Likely this alternative strand of history has already been written by many authors, and I’m simply not aware of it.
To my chagrin, I wasn’t much of a mischief maker growing up, even though I ran wild every chance I got as a child. No, I never really understood the fun, the irresistible lure of pulling pranks... except! And there’s always the exception. Every now and then, I would get a wild hair and do something really outrageous.
Then, during the nineties when I was living elsewhere, a groups of us, who became good friends would have treasure hunt Halloween parties where we would have a list of items to find like hedge apples, a castoff tire, political yard signs, bricks, a lighter from a person who smokes, or pool stick chalk from a bar. I can tell you it was full-out craziness because we were divided into competing teams and were all costumed to the hilt.
Omygosh, did I discover a daring, mischievous shadow side of myself that only seemed to emerge in the dark of night near All Hallow’s Eve. I certainly gained a new understanding of what the witching hour could mean... has meant to humanity as a whole.
Because of the current times, I have become more complex. While both the light and dark facets of my nature show up in my writing, I would never have guessed at how much the dark side has surfaced... yeah, at times, I even rival Stephen King with some of my Flash Fiction. So, a friend tells me who considers Mr. King her favorite author.
However, I digress into the darkness...
For the fireworks, here’s my first attempt at a bullet point blurb, then an excerpt between my heroine, Kalypso, and the hero, Zryphus, in MURDER BY HAIR SPRAY IN GARDENIA, NEW ATLANTIS.
The antediluvian land of Atlantis has risen.
Colonized by freedom fighters after the Conflicts, a new culture has risen, and must be protected at all costs.
Kalypso, Sheriff of New Atlantis, confronts a high stakes murder, then a shapeshifting serial killer used as a pawn by the dark-side elite.
Worst of all, to save all those she loves, Kalypso must accept the help of Fed Agent, Zryphus Vasquoz.
Let the battle of the sexes begin.
"Sheriff." The man's voice commanded first, and announced his presence second. "Sheriff Kalypso Sun Wing."
"Yeah, that's me." Turning, Kalypso's gaze gave no quarter, hard as diamonds on the outsider. "Agent...?" Dang it to hang, he was a tall and broad drink of water. She'd expected the usual tight-ass wimp, with grim lips and eyes that were mirrors, reflecting nothing but the orders he’d been given. No, this man burned with sheer vitality. His gaze assessed, a damn force of nature. She'd bet if she struck a match and tossed it toward his eyes, they would sizzle like her birthday candles, then explode at his will. Yep, he was definitely a whole load of nano dynamite, unlit.
"Agent Zryphus Dolen Vasquoz," he answered. "Give me your evidence retrieval. I'll take over from here."
Audible gasps burst from Anna and Dr. Victoria at the man's patriarchal and patronizing tone.
"No, you won't, Agent Vasquoz. You're here at my invitation. Only. You follow my rules or you don't get to play 'Find the Hair Spray Killer'. Do you understand?"
"Wowzi Powzie," Deputy Anna whispered, watching her vid screen light up with the sparks flying between the Sheriff and the outsider Agent.
"It's a Federal Union case, Sheriff. I have priority investigation." The Agent's gravelly deep voice filled the entire room.
"You have nothing, Agent. Unless I say so. You can turn around, hit the portal. Or you can cooperate. You'll have full access. Anna will give you all she's retrieved so far. If you want, I'll even act friendly, let you 'analyze' this bag more closely." Sheriff Kalypso approached, a lioness with no fear. "I'll even sweeten the pot, Agent Vasquoz—let you do a quick exam of the body before we save the fetus. As they used to say, deal or no deal?"
"Whirlwind in the room," Deputy Anna whispered to Victoria, who still watched her vid screen.
"Deal. For now, Sheriff." Focusing his gaze like a cannon laser, the Agent straightened his over-large shoulders, his latent power obvious.
"Pull anything against my authority, Agent Vasquoz, and I guarantee you won't like the results. Deputy, feed your vid evidence to the Agent's data base, will you, please?"
Once Anna stood, he handed his data vid to her without looking. His gaze relentless, Agent Vasquez followed the Sheriff's arm wave to the corpse. Moving easily in the small confines of the room, despite his size, he knelt with deliberate care, scrutinizing every detail of the body.
Sheriff Kalypso couldn't deny his concentration was impressive. She watched him turn the victim over with gentle precision.
Awed, her heart tripping rapidly, Sheriff Kalypso moved closer. "Even her face resembles Jackie O."
"How do you know?" Agent Vasquoz demanded, not looking up.
"I was born in 1951. Check out your history data base, Agent."
"Call me Zryphus."
He stood, gradually moving around the corpse. His gaze never deviated until he halted, and faced Sheriff Kalypso. Immediately, she nodded toward Anna and Dr. Victoria. Kneeling, they worked as a team, rescuing the fetus.
"Got an ID on her, Zryphus?" Kalypso ignored his intense study of her.
"I know who she is. Vrilesa Corzinski. We've been looking for her ever since she disappeared. She fits the Hair Spray Killer's profile. Before she discovered her ability to bear children easily, she was an elite prostitute. Baby-making is a premium moneymaker in some circles."
"Who reported her 'disappearance'?"
"Her brother. He became suspicious of an ongoing vid relationship she had. He was worried when she just packed, and went on vacation, and wouldn't confide where. He claimed it was unusual behavior for her, even when she was pregnant."
"Then there would be parents for the fetus."
"No one on official record. She may have just conceived, and decided to keep the pregnancy."
"Twelve days ago. A Venutian hybrid is the father. That doesn't add up to a 'let's have sex fun' conceived child. Unless you know something I don't."
"Point accepted, Sheriff. May I call you Kalypso?"
With the fetus safe, Anna grinned and checked her vid. Sure as the sky, the Agent's voice suddenly registered as masculine velvet.
Kalypso hesitated. Dang and wolf's fang, was he putting the moves on her? "Why not? We try to stay friendly around here."
"Fake charm or real charm?" Dr. Victoria whispered.
"He's for real," Anna spoke near her ear.
"Now that I have new leads, Kalypso, I'll research later, discover if there are waiting parents. Where's the victim's handbag?"
"Down in that drawer. I used gloves, and had a look inside. Found this folded piece of paper at the bottom." Sheriff Kalypso handed over the evidence. "If the handwriting doesn't belong to our victim, your resource base is larger than ours. I expect full knowledge of whatever you find out."
"Mutual giving. It's a deal," the Agent purred, his meaning obviously beyond investigative cooperation. He gazed down at the unfolded paper, as if it could be the key to solving his case.
"Mean anything to you?" Sheriff Kalypso finally prompted.
"No. Not any connection to a 'Beatrice' that I've come across."
"We have a volunteer surrogate for the fetus." She arched a brow. "Do you object?"
"I can't offer a surrogate soon enough. No, Kalypso, I don't object. What autopsy methods do you have here?"
"Dr. Victoria, let me know how insertion goes, will you?"
"Sure, Sheriff. On my way."
"We have machine autopsy. Holo program or real cutting. Our town butcher knows her way around the human body. She worked forensics in Chicago before the permanent break up of the United States. You got a preference?"
"Start with Holo. From my examination it looks like 'the Hair Spray Killer'. Not a copycat."
"Anna, give a holler to Deputy Lucy. You two take the victim to autopsy after you've scanned her clothing, and all her personal items. Once the Agent and I have satisfied each other on the collection of evidence, I'll check in."
"Sure as fire, Sheriff. Sorry, bad joke. No sparks allowed in here with all these fumes. Heck, the corpse could still explode from all that hair spray covering her. We'll keep the ride real cool."
"Lost several of our victims that way, Kalypso. One static spark before we arrived, the body burned," Zryphus seriously stated. "Leave the hair spray can here. I need to do an analysis."
"How many victims so far?"
"Twelve. If this proves out, it will be unlucky thirteen. Or lucky thirteen. I have a feeling you're a very persistent woman."
"Truth, justice. That's our way here, Zryphus. Play it that way, we'll get along. Once Deputy Anna finishes scanning, you can take her data, or follow in her footsteps, and get your own." She eyed him, wondering if he was a wolf dressed in wolf's clothing, as he appeared. There was no pretense of wearing sheep's clothing that she observed. "Do you usually work alone?"
"Back up team for forensics, investigation. Yes, I work alone. No partner. You're the exception, Kalypso. Let's investigate the contents of her handbag together."
"From what I can tell. the makeup and lipstick cases look like replicas of the early sixties era. We have lab verification and analysis, if you want use of it."
"Let's see what we've got first." Agent Zryphus carefully dumped out the handbag's contents. After scanning each item, he professionally murmured, "Just her prints and bio cells. Take a look at the lipstick. Is it the color she's wearing?"
"Wouldn't your scan data verify that?"
"Wrongly phrased. You're the period expert. I wanted your impression of how real the lipstick and the makeup itself are to your recollection."
Sheriff Kalypso uncapped the lipstick. "It's been ages, but it looks real. Smells real. Not the same color she's wearing."
"The color of lipstick has been the same on each victim. Never found a container."
"How could you tell on the burned victims?"
"Enough residue remained for holo reconstruction. Take a look inside the other cases," he suggested.
"Why the nice treatment, Zryphus? I was dirt under your shoes when you first arrived." Sheriff Kalypso did some burning of her own while she picked up the mascara wand. "Black, black. Just like I remember."
"Sheriff," Deputy Anna called out, "finished the personal item scan. Got the body ready for transport. We're on our way. I'll leave the door open. Keep airing the room out."
"Thanks, Anna. You know where I am." Kalypso picked up a compact case, solid rich elegance in design. Opening it, she studied the pasty heavy covering. "Looks real. But I never used this stuff. Couldn't stand it. I used the sheer version they came out with, when I used makeup. Except when I acted in college theater. We used the heavy stuff because of the lighting. You haven't answered my question, Zryphus."
"Bluntly, Kalypso...I want you in my bed."
Placing the compact case down delicately, Kalypso absorbed the shock. "No, I don't think so," she slowly enunciated each word.
"Do you have a lover?" Zryphus handed her the powder case.
"None of your business, as they used to say. Looks real. Mind if I test it with my finger?"
"Please. You don't have a lover. Neither do I."
"Probably because you're married or in a committed partnership. Or you just ended an affair. Something like that. No!" Kalypso shifted gears. "Feels real, smells real. Are you aware of a company, or maybe a small business, that creates these replica products?"
"Three, to be exact. I can't tell where these originated. I'm a one woman man, Kalypso. You'd have all my attention."
"No thanks. I politely decline. Eyelash curler. Never used one. They always looked so barbaric. Hmmm, brow tweezers. Unfortunately, I tried this a few times. Way too painful."
"I'll convince you. What's this?"
"Eyebrow darkening powder. No, you won't. I don't like men when it comes to relationship crap. Perhaps you don't know much about our social structure here. Women rule."
"I dominate in bed. In our passionate relationship."
"No. Make me say 'no' again and something ugly will occur to you. Eye shadows. Definitely not the colors she had on. Let me see the blush."
"Ever been married, Kalypso? ...
Available at Siren Publishing ~ bookstrand.com/murder-by-hair-spray-in-gardenia-new-atlantis ~ Ebook and Print.
Happy Bonfire Night!
Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~
Savanna Kougar is the best-selling author of twelve ebooks, with five books in print – soon to be six. She pens love stories because that’s her deepest heart. She writes in the futuristic/fantasy/paranormal subgenres because that’s her fiercest passion. And, she writes erotic romance because she ferociously enjoys ripping the damn doors off.