Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Badlands - Extracts

She raised a hand as if to touch the birthmark, then suddenly withdrew it, as though her own flesh had burnt her. She stared again at her palms, as if willing the lines there to change.

“You said it, Jack,” she sighed. “You said it, and I already knew it. Something bad is going to happen to me. I'm going to do something to someone – someone close. I'm just incorrigible, me.”

“Might be me that you do in,” I said. “Because there's only one way that we're going to get any closer.”

She did laugh at that, and leant more heavily onto me, pressing my body firmly into the mattress. Cat-like, she enjoyed playing with her prey, relishing the sense of power.

“Maybe I will. I would rather let you do it to me than anyone else, Jack. But now now. I'll know when, because I want it to be the best time ever, for both of us. I'm not ready yet.”

The gang of boys ignored Callie and I as if we were neither in nor of their world, but spectres outside humanity, the spirits of that terrible unclean place. And couldn't they see the shining face, pendant in the air? Did they think it was just the moon? And the shadowy other with us? As my frightened brain tried to fathom the Where we had fallen into the wicked voice spoke again.

“Get you both one day. I'll be waiting for you! And don't be babblers, my little dabblers.”

The shadows swirled around and began to pour back into the lips of that grinning, abominable face. An instant later they had been swallowed and then, with a movement swift and unexpected, the mask lunged at Callie. The leering mouth was puckered in a parody of kissing. She fell back to the ground and lay with hands covering her face. Laughing, the silver mask struck down against her body and then, having touched her, began to shrivel. It transformed into a rat-like thing, black and hairy, and clotted with dried and crusted blood.

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