Author Topic: Paranormal Fiction - Null and Void  (Read 244 times)

Offline damekexote

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Paranormal Fiction - Null and Void
« on: November 06, 2022, 05:42:47 AM »
This is my first book in the Last Kitsune series.

It had been a particularly long and grueling shift, but I was in the final stretch and just feet from being able to face plant onto my bed. Fatigue seemed to weigh my limbs as I rested my forehead on the steering wheel. Raising my head, I admired the sunrise as it cast a shadow across the newly painted bungalow that my parents had left me after retiring to the old country, aka Tampa. I contrasted the light beige siding color with a splash of eggplant on the trim. The pop of color never failed to make me smile. However, my smile turned into a grimace when my eyes lit on a small, hunched woman as she pulled a large planter through the bungalow door. Sighing deeply, I slowly left the cramped confines of my old Suzuki X90 and quietly approached her.
 "Uka, we've talked about this. It is still too cold outside for this plant. It's just going to die if you keep dragging it out of the house." I said, amazed that this elderly woman had the strength to handle the ceramic pot. She'd gifted it to me the week before, and I'd been struggling with her ever since.
 "Plant belongs outside door to protect house. Inside, will cause trouble." Shrewd brown eyes looked up at me as my petite neighbor continued to struggle with the pot holding the St George Sword plant. She often treated me as a rather dim-witted granddaughter.
 Sighing, I helped her move it into place and shook my head. "Fine. But I don't want to hear about it if it dies."
 Taking my hand in hers, she patted it gently. "It will not die. It is one of Uka's plants. Very strong."
I smiled and wrapped the small Japanese woman in a hug. She barely reached my collarbone. But what she lacked in height, she more than made up for in what my father would have called grit. Looking down into her friendly wrinkled face, I dropped a kiss on her head and let her go. Waving over her shoulder, she walked along the well-worn path between our houses. Her yard already contained a riot of growth, even though it was still early in April. I could see daffodils, snowdrops, and hyacinths adding color to the edges of her walkway. I looked forward to the coming weeks when I would become the beneficiary of her vegetable garden.
 Biting back a yawn, I entered the house through the open door and found my roommate staring from the shadows of the front bedroom.
 "Why did you let Uka carry that thing outside?"
 Nico shrugged. "It's not like I could run out and stop her, Tai. She opened all the blinds and let the sun in." 
 That was the problem with having a vampire for a roommate. Although he could be awake during the day, any exposure to sunlight would severely burn him. Our elderly neighbor seemed to take advantage of that, though she only knew that Nico had an "allergy" to the sun. Vampires and other Supernaturals were still in the closet. I was considered a Null—someone born of supernatural parents but who have no powers of their own. Nulls could easily pass for human and often lived among them. But even Nulls benefited from the magical genes. I was stronger and faster than my human contemporaries, and my eyesight was keener. It all worked to my advantage as a paramedic. It was nothing for me to wrestle a 200-pound man onto a backboard, and I could see minor changes in a patient's breathing or color long before any instrument registered a problem. I did have to play it down and be cautious since I worked with an all-human crew. But I'd had no interest in working in the supernatural world and wanted as little to do with it as possible. Except for Nico. We'd been friends since school, and I could not imagine life without his neurotic presence.
 
 "What are you still doing up?" I asked him as I moved through the small house, closing the blinds.
He followed as close behind as he could and still avoided any stray shafts of light. I wandered into the kitchen and turned to find 150 pounds of vampire breathing down my neck.
“What is your issue?” I asked. I grabbed the pot off the coffee maker, stopping only long enough to drop my work jacket on the nearest chair. Turning to the sink to fill it, I tried to ignore my roommate, who was still mere inches away.
 “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He said, his voice squeaking a bit.
Now, here is a fact. I know books and television would have you believe that vampires are these alpha predators. All sleek and deadly, and some of them are. Then, there’s Nico. Anyone meeting him for the first time would take him for a computer nerd. They would be right. He is tall and thin, with slightly hunched shoulders, and he makes a lot of money programming computers. But his true joy comes from being an impersonator slash drag queen. See where I’m going here? It’s hard to take a vampire seriously when you have seen them made up like Judy Garland and singing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” He is the mildest-tempered (wimpy) nerd in town when he is not in one of his drag personas. Or at least in this neighborhood. But he is good-looking in that androgynous way that many of his kind are.
 Leaning on the counter, I set the coffee pot down safely. Though not so far away, I couldn’t grab it and throw it at my friend if the need arose. I knew that tone of voice. That was his “I need something from you, and you’re not going to like it” tone. The last time he used that, I had to dress up as Ethel Merman and lip-sync my way through “I Got Rhythm.” Long story, don’t ask.
“Spit it out. What do you want, now?”
 Keeping his eyes on the countertop as if the random pattern of color was the most fascinating thing he had ever seen. He cleared his throat and tried to sound casual. “It’s really nothing. I have a small party to go to and wanted you to go with me.”
Since men and women both flock around him at the club where he performs most nights, he could easily convince any one of them to go with him. There could only be one reason he wanted me to go; it involved people (and I use the term lightly) that he could not introduce a human to.
Peeling one eye open, I saw that there had been no movement and that sad little vampire was still in my kitchen, giving me a hopeful look. I closed my eyes and prayed that if I stood like that long enough, he would lose interest and wander away. A girl can have dreams, can’t she?
  His eyes pleaded with me. "I swear, it's just a tiny, itsy bitsy cocktail party. Hardly anyone will be there. Just a few hot shots have flown in for the gathering. You know, it will be mostly small talk. Hardly any politics at all. We'll be in and out in a flash. You don't have to talk to anyone except me and maybe my mother." The last few words were mumbled, and I had to ask him to repeat them several times to make sure I heard right.
 "Your mother?" I repeated. "The same woman who represents the House of Rodrick on the High Council? THAT mother?"
 "Please, please, please. Mummy has been on me for ages about my life. Who are my friends? What am I doing with my life?"
 "Really? You did not just refer to your vampire mother as Mummy!" I bit my lip so hard that tears sprang to my eyes. But hard as I tried, I could not stop the snort of laughter that escaped.
Deciding that this conversation was not worth breaking my coffee pot over his head, I poured the water from it into the coffee maker. Grabbing the decaf from the shelf over the counter, I scoop just enough into the filter to make one final robust cup before bed.
 "So, she will find your Null friend an acceptable date for her precious son?"
 "Well, it's not like I have a lot of choices now." Nico's voice fell to a whisper.
 Guilt had me turning to him and giving him a one-armed hug. I'd forgotten that his relationship with Peter, the very human owner of the club where he performed, was still new and shiny and very much on the down low. Peter was also unaware of my roommate's, let's say, peculiar diet. I hope Councilwoman Roderick was not expecting a load of grandkids anytime soon.
Too exhausted to argue, I said, "I'll think about it. Just let me get some sleep first, OK?"
 Brightening noticeably, he hugged me back and kissed my cheek. The smile he gave me only made me feel worse. "You're the best. Now get some sleep. I'd hate to see bags under those beautiful eyes."
 Watching as he turned and almost skipped into his room, I had this horrible feeling that I was missing something.

Offline susan-louise

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Re: Paranormal Fiction - Null and Void
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2022, 05:01:22 AM »

I think this shows great promise, and you've given us a good feel for the two characters. The little asides to the reader actually work well, and aren't overused. Being uber-critical, the opening lines/ paragraph don't yet draw me in. Maybe show her visceral exhaustion more, as a segue into the description of her family home... Hope the suggestions help.


It had been a particularly long and grueling shift, but I was in the final stretch and just feet from being able to face plant onto my bed. Fatigue seemed to weighed  (seem and feel etc...really stray into telling...whereas without the verb you re showing us v well) my limbs as I rested my forehead on the steering wheel. Raising my head, I admired the sunrise as it cast a shadow across the newly painted bungalow that my parents had left me after retiring to the old country, aka Tampa. I contrasted the light beige siding color with a splash of eggplant on the trim. The pop of color never failed to make me smile. However, my smile  (smile repetition jars. Try, However I grimaced when....)turned into a grimace when my eyes lit on a small, hunched woman as she pulled a large planter through the bungalow door. Sighing deeply, I slowly left the cramped confines of my old Suzuki X90 and quietly approached her. (ditch the adverb, or show her fatigue as she stumbles from the car)

 "Uka, we've talked about this. It is still too cold outside for this plant. It's just going to die if you keep dragging it out of the house." I said, amazed that this elderly woman had the strength to handle the ceramic pot. She'd gifted it to me the week before, and I'd been struggling with her ever since.
 "Plant belongs outside door to protect house. Inside, will cause trouble." Shrewd brown eyes looked up at me as my petite neighbor continued to struggle with the pot holding the St George Sword plant. She often treated me as a rather dim-witted granddaughter. (nice!!)
 Sighing, I helped her move it into place and shook my head. "Fine. But I don't want to hear about it if it dies."
 Taking my hand in hers, she patted it gently. "It will not die. It is one of Uka's plants. Very strong."
I smiled and wrapped the small Japanese woman in a hug (this is over-writing...why not..."I hugged etc..."). She barely reached my collarbone. But what she lacked in height, she more than made up for in what my father would have called grit. Looking down into her friendly wrinkled face, I dropped a kiss on her head and let her go. Waving over her shoulder, she walked along the well-worn path between our houses. Her yard already contained a riot of growth, even though it was still early in April. I could see daffodils, snowdrops, and hyacinths adding color to the edges of her walkway. I looked forward to the coming weeks when I would become the beneficiary of her vegetable garden.
 Biting back a yawn, I entered the house through the open door and found my roommate staring from the shadows of the front bedroom.
 "Why did you let Uka carry that thing outside?"
 Nico shrugged. "It's not like I could run out and stop her, Tai. She opened all the blinds and let the sun in."
 That was the problem with having a vampire for a roommate.  (ok this is nicely done...)Although he could be awake during the day, any exposure to sunlight would severely burn him. Our elderly neighbor seemed to take advantage of that, though she only knew that Nico had an "allergy" to the sun. Vampires and other Supernaturals were still in the closet. I was considered a Null—someone born of supernatural parents but who have no powers of their own. (the wrong tense jarred here...can you tighten this: "...parents...but without powers of my own")  Nulls could easily pass for humans and often lived among them. But even Nulls benefited from the magical genes. I was stronger and faster than my human contemporaries, and my eyesight was keener. It all worked to my advantage as a paramedic. It was nothing for me to wrestle a 200-pound man onto a backboard, and I could see minor changes in a patient's breathing or color long before any instrument registered a problem. I did have to play it down and be cautious since I worked with an all-human crew. But I'd had no interest in working (verb repetition jarred...try "no interest pursing a career in....) in the supernatural world and wanted as little to do with it as possible. (this is good as gives us something to wonder about) Except for Nico. We'd been friends since school, and I could not imagine life without his neurotic presence. (wondering if contractions might enhance your nice, natural flow better here...couldn't etc)
 
 "What are you still doing up?" I asked him as I moved while moving through the small house, closing the blinds.
He followed as close behind as he could and still avoided any stray shafts of light. I wandered into the kitchen and turned to find 150 pounds of vampire breathing down my neck.
“What is your issue?” I asked. I grabbed the pot off the coffee maker, stopping only long enough to drop my work jacket on the nearest chair. Turning to the sink to fill it, I tried to ignore my roommate, who was still mere inches away.
 “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He said, his voice squeaking a bit.  (Sometimes tags are surplus. Try : "...about," his voice squeaking.
Now, here is a fact. I know books and television would have you believe that (too many "thats" can impede reader flow) vampires are these alpha predators. All sleek and deadly, and some of them are. (this is lovely!!) Then, there’s Nico. Anyone meeting him for the first time would take him for a computer nerd. They would be right. He is tall and thin, with slightly hunched shoulders, and he makes a lot of money programming computers. But his true joy comes from being an impersonator slash drag queen. See where I’m going here? It’s hard to take a vampire seriously when you have seen them made up like Judy Garland and singing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” He is the mildest-tempered (wimpy) nerd in town when he is not in one of his drag personas. Or at least in this neighborhood. But he is good-looking in that androgynous way that so many of his kind are.  Try switching this  "But like so many of his kind, he is good looking in an androgynous way" slightly less clunky.
 Leaning on the counter, I set the coffee pot down safely. Though not so far away, I couldn’t grab it and throw it at my friend if the need arose. I knew that tone of voice. That was his “I need something from you, and you’re not going to like it” tone. The last time he used it that, I had to dress up as Ethel Merman and lip-sync my way through “I Got Rhythm.” Long story, don’t ask.
“Spit it out. What do you want, now?”
 Keeping his eyes on the countertop as if the random pattern of color was the most fascinating thing he had ever seen. He cleared his throat and tried to sound casual.
new line “It’s really nothing. I have a small party to go to and wanted you to go "come too/come with me? avoids repetition of "to go") with me.”
Since men and women both flock around him at the club where he performs most nights, he could easily convince any one of them to go with him. There could only be one reason he wanted me to go; it involved people (and I use the term lightly) that he could not introduce a human to.
Peeling (odd verb...cracking?) one eye open, I saw that there had been no movement: and thatthe sad little vampire was still in my kitchen, giving me a hopeful look. I closed my eyes and prayed that if I stood like that long enough, he would lose interest and wander away. A girl can have dreams, can’t she?
  His eyes pleaded with me. "I swear, it's just a tiny, itsy bitsy cocktail party. Hardly anyone will be there. Just a few hot shots have flown in for the gathering. You know, it will be mostly small talk. Hardly any politics at all. We'll be in and out in a flash. You don't have to talk to anyone except me and maybe my mother." The last few words were mumbled, and I had to ask him to repeat them several times to make sure I heard right.
 "Your mother?" I repeated. "The same woman who represents the House of Rodrick on the High Council? THAT mother?" (nice...brings in the drama ahead)
 "Please, please, please. Mummy has been on me for ages about my life. Who are my friends? What am I doing with my life?"
 "Really? You did not just refer to your vampire mother as Mummy! (This could be tightened. "Did you really just refer to your vamp mother as 'mummy'?)I bit my lip so hard that tears sprang to my eyes, but hard as I tried, I could not stop the snort of laughter that escaped.
Deciding that this conversation was not worth breaking my coffee pot over his head, I poured the water from it into the coffee maker. Grabbing the decaf from the shelf over the counter, I scoop just enough into the filter to make one final robust cup before bed.  (Do you not mean "scooped"?  Otherwise the tense juxtaposition jars.  Or it could be minor editing issue.)
 "So, she will find your Null friend an acceptable date for her precious son?"
 "Well, it's not like I have a lot of choices now." Nico's voice fell to a whisper.
 Guilt had me turning to him and giving him a one-armed hug. I'd forgotten that his relationship with Peter, the very human owner of the club where he performed, was still new and shiny and very much on the down low. Peter was also unaware of my roommate's, let's say, peculiar diet. I hope Councilwoman Roderick was not expecting a load of grandkids anytime soon. (amusing but poignant too.)
Too exhausted to argue, I said, "I'll think about it. Just let me get some sleep first, OK?"
 Brightening noticeably, he hugged me back and kissed my cheek. The smile he gave me only made me feel worse. "You're the best. Now get some sleep. I'd hate to see bags under those beautiful eyes."
 Watching as he turned and almost skipped into his room, I had this horrible feeling that I was missing something.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2022, 05:05:28 AM by susan-louise »