BACULUM (Angelbound Lincoln #4) launches in later January, but here’s an excerpt to enjoy today! It’s a flashback from Myla at age fifteen when she’s about to sneak out with Walker to attend the Viking Games.
The scene is set in the kitchen of her Purgatory home with a very-worried Mom, Camilla, who doesn’t want her baby going anywhere dangerous. Walker changes the subject in an effort to help Myla escape and have fun…
BACULUM – MYLA – AGE FIFTEEN
“Greetings.” Walker stares at my plate and gasps. “What are you eating?”
I hold up my fork. “A frozen dinner made by my ghoul overlords.” I angle the utensil so Walker can see the eyeball in my forkload of gray slop.
At this point, Walker launches what I call a Dual Maternal Distraction. Not only has my honorary older brother appeared in our kitchen—which is a great nice way to derail Mom’s Worry Train—but he’s also circling the conversation back to my ghoul-made meal of casserole du eyeball. Beautiful.
Mom clasps her hands beneath her chin. “Help me, Walker,” she pleads. “Myla needs to eat something before she goes to the arena.”
Mom doesn’t know I’m hitting a new arena tonight–as in the Viking Arena–but she certainly suspects I have secret plans. I’m not volunteering the truth, either. If I did, I’d never leave the house.
“Well, she’s not chowing down on that.” Walker scoops up the plate, crosses the room and scrapes the eyeball-goo into the trash. Next he reaches into the loopy sleeves of his ghoul robes, pulls out a handful of demon bars, and tosses them in my direction.
Best not-a-brother ever.
I catch one bar in my right hand and the other in my left. Meanwhile, my tail pops up and grabs the third.
And yes, I have a tail. It’s all part being both a resident of purgatory and quasi demon. We quasis all have a power across at least one of the deadly sins, as well as a tail to match. In my case, my sin powers are lust and wrath, while my tail is a sweet pokey number that’s covered in dragonscales. So cool.
Mom frowns at me. “Demon bars are a not a meal.”
“Yeth they are,” I say through a mouthful of chocolatey goodness. I scan the wrapper to offer up a few helpful ingredients as evidence. “It says here that Demon Bars are packed with psychocholoro-something, monosodium superyum and artificial other good stuff.”
Mom gives me the side eye. “That’s not helping your case. At least, that eyeball loaf was a warm meal.”
“Ha!” I point at Mom’s nose. “So you admit there were eyeballs!”
Walker turns to focus on Mom. “What about you, Camilla? Where’s your dinner?”
Like every ghoul, Walker has all-black eyes. Only unlike the rest of his fellow undead, Walker’s are super big and soulful. Plus, the man knows how to work them like a pro. Take this moment, for instance. Walker is giving Mom a look that’s all concerned and watery. It’s like the world will stop spinning if Mom doesn’t chow down on a snack.
And here’s where the magic happens. As Walker does his thing, Mom’s worry about ‘what I’m truly up to tonight’ vanishes. I’d say it’s a coincidence, but there’s no such thing when it comes to Walker. The man is a maestro of manipulation.
“I’ll find something to eat later,” says Mom. “Myla comes first.”
Walker reaches into his other sleeve and pulls out a small cup marked ‘freeze-dried chicken and ramen.’ He offers her the container. “You always liked these.”
Mom’s face brightens. “This is from before the ghoul takeover. I didn’t know any were left.”
Walker winks. “I have my sources.”
Once more, I hit a crossroads. In one direction, there’s the evening of warrior fun at the Viking Games. But the opposite path might be far more interesting.
I’m talking about this ramen soup revelation.
Mom never talks about her past or who my father really is. The fact that she used to chow down on ramen noodles? That’s big news. Freeze-dried stuff is the meal of choice for someone who’s knee-deep in work. I wasn’t around when Mom was a noodle hound, so what was she busy with, exactly? The undeadlies weren’t running things yet, so it’s not like she had her current job of mending ghoul robes.
Every cell in my body wants to push for answers. Not that I haven’t tried before. Mom and I have regular ‘what’s the deal with your past’ battles. I haven’t gotten anything out of her yet, but I’m confident she’ll break eventually. Another key consideration here is the fact that I’ve finished all my Demon Bars, so I can really drive my points home without worrying about stuff like chewing.
I raise my pointer finger and open my mouth, ready to unleash my verbal Kraken.
Walker glide-walks to stand right between me and Mom. He now blocks my line of sight… and throws off my attack. Walker locks his gaze with mine. A kind of electric tension fills the air as Walker and I hit a standoff about the evening’s activity. In essence, we transform from honorary older brother and amazing younger sister into two gunslingers straight out of the human’s Old West. Both of us have ideas about what happens tonight, and there’s only room enough in this town for one of our concepts. Walker takes the first shot in our verbal battle.
“Ready for the arena?” he asks. Walker puts extra emphasis on the word ‘arena,’ which means he’s reminding me of our real goal for the evening. The Viking Games.
I tap my chin. “I’ve been thinking.”
Translation: I really want to yell at Mom about ramen noodles.
Walker steps closer. He’s crazy-tall and uses that height to his advantage. “But I’m the one portaling you around.”
Translation part two: I hate being in the middle of your fights. And without me, you’d never leave this house to go anywhere fun.
Needless to say, the tumbleweeds roll on by, I reset my verbal six shooter, and Walker wins this standoff in a big way.
I hop up. “Let’s hit it.”