As you probably know by now, I’ve written a novel.  I’m working on the second draft right now.

The gist: young woman living her life like any other normal person, suddenly finds herself neck deep in a mess that involves magic and a whole list of other things she’s always been told aren’t real.

I decided I wanted to share this excerpt with you. Comments are most welcome.


© 2010 Patrick Hester. All rights reserved.

Sam Kane – an excerpt.

I moved to the rail, setting my coffee cup down very carefully.  I heard the ‘snap-click’ of a zippo as he lit up.  A stream of smoke shot straight out beside me as he stepped up and looked out at the graveyard.  “What do you think so far,” he asked.

“What do I think?” I replied.  “I think I lost my job today.  I think you are loony.  I think she’s loony too.  And I think it’s time I went home, filled the tub with really hot water, had myself a good, long cry and soaked for the rest of the day because tomorrow, tomorrow I need to start looking for a new job.  Thanks for the coffee though.”

I didn’t even look at him as I turned away.  I saw my entire future going right down the shitter.  The thought entered and fluttered around the edge of my mind that I was going to have to tell my father that I was no longer a cop, that I’d gotten my partner put in the hospital with little chance of a recovery and that I was going to lose everything I had because I didn’t know how to be anything other than who I was; a cop.  And my father, the career officer, the thrice decorated beat cop, he was going to make me feel even shittier than I already did because he just has that way of making me feel like an utter waste of otherwise good genes.

I was halfway to the door when Mayfair spoke again.  “You saw a ghost last night.”  I felt my knees give way and I half-stumbled before windmilling my arms out to stop myself from falling.

“It’s never an easy thing, having your world turned upside down,” he was saying.  I heard him, heard the words, the tone of his voice so somber and quiet, but my mind was back in that apartment building staring down the hall at something that had caught my eye and held it while my partner rushed into the apartment with his gun drawn and at the ready, sure I was right behind him, watching his back.  I could hear him crying out in fear at first, emptying his gun faster than I thought possible.  Then he made a sound I would never be able to forget nor describe adequately no matter how hard I try, all full of anguish and terror and pain, how the pitch of that shriek climbed higher than I thought a human voice could manage.

“We’re told that the boogeyman doesn’t exist, that the world is a place of black and white, right and wrong and everything fits into these neat little columns that can be explained away by science.  ‘The closet is simply a closet’ they tell us, and we clutch at our stuffed animals and pray for the weak glow from the night-light plugged into the wall for our appeasement to extend just a little bit further than it does, for it to chase away the shadow we can see just on the edge of our vision.”

I don’t remember falling to my knees but I did, both in my memory and there on the porch.  I could feel the tears on my cheeks now, streaming down my face in the hot Denver afternoon and yet I felt like I was right back in that apartment building hallway again.  My partner was being ripped apart and I couldn’t move though my mind was screaming at me to help him or run away or do anything but just sit there where I could hear everything happening just a few feet away.  But I couldn’t take my eyes off the face of a child staring at me from down the hall, a child no more than ten years old and yet there was such pain and sadness on her face that it broke my heart and made me want to scoop her up in my arms and hold her safe.

“Eventually, we convince ourselves that what we see isn’t really there, that it can’t be there because that’s just childish nonsense.  We develop a sort of blind ignorance to the supernatural world.  When faced with the impossible, with what cannot be, our conditioning takes over and we cannot accept it for anything other than a hoax or a fraud, something perpetrated by kooks and phonies looking to cash in on superstitious, ignorant fools.”

Her eyes made my breath catch in my throat.  They were translucent and milky and though fifty feet easily stood between us, I thought I could see red veins crisscrossing around the irises.  A voice was whispering in my head, telling me to relax, to let go and to help her find her dolly because she couldn’t go to sleep without it.  Wasn’t I a nice lady, the voice whispered and I nodded, to help her and keep her safe from the bad men?  The air had turned thick and cold at the same time.  Every breath had become a chore, turning to fog as it passed my lips.  Still, a part of my mind was screaming that there was something else, something important that I needed to do, someone I needed to help.

“But there are those moments, those rare and impossible moments, when the world we know crashes into the one we cannot accept and we find ourselves having to cope with something our minds aren’t ready to handle.  As adults, we see the world around us as very cut and dry and so we make excuses, we try to force that which doesn’t make sense fit into those neat little columns and one by one, they start to fall apart because it just doesn’t fit, it just doesn’t work the way we’ve been told it does.”

Somehow, I managed to turn my head a little.  I could see inside the apartment just there, out the corner of my eye.  Could see that this thing, this great big hairy animal thing that was half-man half-dog like I had only ever seen before in movies, was shredding my partner’s torso with these massive claws on its left.. paw?  Hand?  Its fangs were red and dripping, its muzzle covered in blood.  My partners’ blood.  He was still alive, was held aloft by the creatures second, impossibly long clawed hand.  His face was turned to mine and there was this look there – this ultimate, final expression of utter horror.  I screamed in my memory and I screamed on the back porch at Banba as the creature tore at him, and blood splattered across my face.

“And then our world starts tumbling down around us.”

Suddenly, I couldn’t feel the cold anymore.  Everything was getting warm, warm enough that sweat started streaming down my body, clinging my clothes to me, mixing with the blood on my face.  The ghost had changed as I slipped away from its gaze, the little lost girl fading into a gruesome visage of an old woman with half her face gone and ribs sticking out of a torn and shredded nightgown.  She shrieked like a banshee, extending her bony hands towards me, grasping.  She took a halting, shuffling step forward, and I could see ragged black claws, could feel her need, her hunger to consume me somehow which just created a whole new kind of terror for me.

“Everyone reacts differently.  Some have innate or repressed abilities which can help them cope and move on.”

But something inside me had snapped.  Sure, I was afraid of the old woman, but I just knew there was something more important that needed to be done.  I turned back to my partner, back to his agonized screaming and I found myself screaming too – only my scream was pure rage.  I wanted that creature dead, I wanted it to suffer, wanted it to get the fuck away from Jorge.  I was so full of anger and rage that I actually saw red, and then the heat I felt all around me seemed to focus and move away from me in a straight line that struck the werewolf, if that’s what it was, square in the face.

“Some, a very rare few, have a certain Talent.”

The creature exploded in flames.  Then the flames licked the walls, and everything started to burn.


  • CliftonHill Posted January 20, 2010 8:39 pm

    Very good start, I am certainly intrigued. Pacing is nice with the flashback and present mixing back and forth. Is this the first chapter? Pretty good intro if it is.

    Couple notes: What's a zippo? That word totally threw me. I assume it's a brand of lighter, but…? This line is a bit weird too: "stream of smoke shot straight out beside me" – not exactly what I would expect smoke to do.

    Looks good, keep up the good work, hope to see it finished soon.

  • atfmb Posted January 20, 2010 10:34 pm

    Thanks. 🙂

    'Zippo' is probably the single most recognized brand of lighter around. (I don't smoke, btw). People collect em. They are not throw aways – you keep em. They are very distinctive; they have a lid that you flip back, then you thumb the wheel to spark the flame. Most of the smokers I have known use these and then, quite dramatically, snap the lid shut to extinguish the flame – hence the 'snap-click'. My uncle has always been extremely adept at A) lighting up at a record speed (step outside and before you can blink, he has lit up) and 2) snap-clicking his Zippo shut with flair and dramatic emphasis.

    Check out more on Zippo's here:

    This is not the 1st chapter. This is the fifth. The 'stream of smoke' would be his blowing the smoke out after sucking it in, which can be 'streamed' forth and controlled quite well. Hell, my brother used to push it out through his ears, which was just weird and couldn't have been good for his hearing… or his brain…


  • CliftonHill Posted January 21, 2010 6:07 am

    Ah, I thought it sounded familiar, but you might still lose some people there.

    Poor brain…

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