The Secronomus, its face and body of black shards jutting forth and its eyes of red crystal, impartially watched from its throne as I performed an act of transmogrifying juggling. Simple, smooth balls of silvery metal effortlessly circled into the air from hand to hand before whirling and warping into different beasts and entities that continued the pattern above my hands without further need of force. A low harmonic pulsated into the air, initiating a cadence, while dancing imps ascended from the floor and twirled around the display.
I walked in front of the flying creatures and dissipated, my cloak and clothes dropping into a heap while shadow forms spun up from the floor that joined the imps in dance. After a few moments of cavorting, the shadows draped over the imps, melting away their flesh, leaving them as bones that spread out in connection to form a cohesive circle that rotated around and contained the stage. The entities in flight transformed into balls of fire that altered their trajectories and matched the rotation of the bones, varying their heights and circumferences to form a funnel. Within the rings of fire, my shadow dancers joined together beneath my clothing to bring me back into form.
The fireballs then—one at a time—plummeted upon my figure. As my body was covered in flames I warped into a fire elemental that rose in height and fierceness while the circle of bones’ circumference shrunk. Soon the spinning bones were at my feet and began to slide up my form into my fiery core. In finality, I, and all of my devices, exploded into a bouquet of red tendrils and wisps, leaving me in my original embodiment.
There were palm readers, fortune tellers, and clairvoyants, but I was nothing like them. Where others saw auras and energies, I saw numbers. Each and every person that ever entered my view was accompanied by a number—a number that could not be known by the individual it belonged to unless I divulged it. The numbers I saw—or, more accurately, were imprinted within my mind—were the times of people’s conceptions—the specific and astrological moments when these individuals’ spirits came forth from an unknown realm and converged with the fertilized egg of a woman’s Fallopian tube or of an in vitro Petri dish in a laboratory. I saw the timestamps of people’s exact emergence into existence.
For the first part of my life, the ability did not offer me entirely useful information—other than for guessing ages—until I came to the realization in my teenage years that with it came the knowledge of the authentic date and time of the birth of the universe—the point of origin for all the numbers I perceived—and that, therefore, this gift was more than supernatural—that this unusual information came from a source outside of myself. Unlike the ambiguity of a mystic’s powers, I was given concrete, factual data. Reading someone’s future or past is much different than seeing someone’s inarguable genesis. This meant that someone, or something, was giving me this faculty, and that gave me purpose.
The pig brain swelled. Fluids popped and hissed from its folds and grooves. Dr. Mayoris slightly increased the temperature inside the incubator containing it.
“So are you still set on the placement of your angel?” he asked me. His black and white hound’s-tooth coat offset his ungainly face.
“Yes, behind my left eye,” I said, pointing to it.
“I tried to convince him to get a nose angel and join the circus as a clown, but he has his plans,” my mom said jokingly as she raised her eyebrows and smirked.
“Many of the world’s finest artists have behind-the-eye angels. Is that what your plans are?” the doctor asked me, pushing up the large-lensed, horn-rimmed glasses on his nose with his right hand. A gnarly growth rippled and squirmed in the center of the back of the hand.
“No,” I said, curtly.
Technology had connected the universe, making space suitable for recreational and residential dwellings, travel between livable planets acceptable in duration, and old age such a slow onset that populations overran worlds. Death was still the unknown, and I wanted to find it–not by dying, but by seeking its destination.
The purple sky—mingling with aqua light from the moon and a mercurial haze—crackled as if it were a pixelated gif. On the horizon, parallel, horizontal lines of neon green stacked—radiant skeletons of Twelpinc City’s downtown skyscrapers.
High on a hillside on the outskirts of the city, I extended my rocket bike’s rear, tripodal landing gear and tipped it backwards, propping its lightweight composition in the upwards position. The pearlescent finish on the burgundy metal husk sleekly reflected the slender, missile-shaped design and beauty of the chassis hidden beneath like a muscular body in skintight garments. I stepped up into the small, one-person cockpit, remaining in a standing position, and engaged the tinted canopy shield that slid behind me and enclosed me. After adjusting my jumpsuit, I activated the bike’s launch mode. Two sharp wings jutted outward and a resin compound enveloped my body, excluding my arms and face, and compressed, securing me in human shrink-wrap. A digital prompt with the options “launch” and “disengage” appeared on the visor display of my helmet. Below the “launch” option, a systems check icon flashed green, notifying me of systemwide approval.
I selected “launch” by focusing on its words with my eyes and double-blinking.
This book giveaway is celebrating the awards The Spirit Collectors dark fantasy novel has picked up! Comment on this post before 10:00PM PST on Monday, May 16th to be entered in a chance to win one of the following:
Ten (10) signed hardcover copies of:
THE SPIRIT COLLECTORS
Winners will be chosen at random (at random.org) from the entrants after the cutoff at 10:00PM PST and will be announced by Sharkchild via email and on this post within 24 hours after the end of the contest.
The winners can be anywhere in the world! The winners must be at least 13 years of age. A winner must respond to Sharkchild’s email within five (5) days to claim a prize.
Cathy Doyle (36)
Eivind H (41)
Philippe Fontaine (16)
Calum Sanderson (45)
Joe Burrell (37)
Jason Caldwell (53)
2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards
Gold Medal Winner for Fantasy
2016 National Indie Excellence Awards Winner for Fantasy
2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Finalist for Fantasy