I’m The Next Big Thing
Karen Toz tagged me last week for the weekly meme of The Next Big Thing! I thought about writing it about Two Moons of Sera since Volume Three should be out soon (YEAH) but decided you guys might like some fresh meat to chew on. I have 2 WIPs (Works in Progress) right now. 1 is still unnamed and doesn’t have a cover so I won’t bore you with that, the other is DEVOUR, which I’ve been working on and off on for a LONG time. I’m excited to get back to it and share it with all of you!
What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Ok, so you know how every zombie movie starts with a nurse or someone at the CDC? It basically always follows the virus. The only exception I know of is Sean of the Dead (which is brilliant). So I started thinking, what would it be like for the 3rd spear-man from the left? In other words, what about someone who is oblivious to the world around them? Someone who really and truly doesn’t see it coming.
What genre does your book fall under?
Cam -Alexander Gould
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
“Stuck in white bread American North Dakota, Anastacia Rubinski, never fit in. Now, faced with the literal end of the human race, she’ll find that maybe highschool wasn’t all that bad.”
God – that needs work. It reads like YA! But like the third word in DEVOUR is “cocksucker”. So not YA.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
DEVOUR will be published by me at Fighting Monkey Press. Viva la Indie Revolution!
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Hahahaha, oh that’s funny. Well, the first 12,000 words have been rewritten at least 4 times now. We’ll see if I ever actually finish it.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I don’t shy away from gross Here’s the prologue to pique your interest some more!
Prologue from DEVOUR by Pavarti K Tyler
CDC Alerted – Awaiting Pickup
Amina moaned as she woke. The pain in her back had receded to a dull ache, but the glaring light seared through to her brain whether her eyes were open or closed.
She couldn’t remember how long she’d been here; even her name eluded her. The pain, which had been her constant companion for so many weeks, blurred out all rational thought. Instead of thinking about her job and the days of work she had missed, she spent moment to moment in a quest to alleviate her agony.
White-blue light greeted her as she awoke, blinding her and making her lift an arm over her face.
The motion distracted her from the ice pick of light boring into her brain and brought her attention to the convulsion lashing through her shoulder. A scream ripped from her dry lips, an alien sound consisting of a gurgling, guttural voice Amina did not recognize as her own.
Muscles screamed as she pulled her aching body up into a sitting position, each movement ripping through her muscles and nerves. As the sheet fell away from her body, she felt as if something was peeling her skin away in slow, methodical movements. Sandpaper scraped against every surface of her skin. After an agonizing show of endurance, Amina rested back against her pillows, eyes still closed.
Falling back into what she had prayed would be a more comfortable position, Amina moaned. The desired relief that inspired the movement did not appear. The cool air chilled her; the delicate skin on her arms prickled with goose pimples, the flesh pulling against the atrophying sinew connecting it to her body.
She opened and closed her mouth, unable to form clear enough thoughts to realize she was thirsty. Dry and cracking skin broke her lips, the flesh around her mouth discolored and sore. One of the many enigmas about this disease was that the patients seemed to be dying of dehydration even as their bodies oozed fluids without restraint.
The light behind Amina’s eyelids dimmed, allowing her a momentary reprieve. Sighing, she lifted a hand, cautiously this time, without knowing what she reached for. Pain and thirst twisted her mind, leaving her moaning and moving without direction.
“Amina?” A muted voice asked from across the room as light slashed through the darkness. Amina’s body reacted to the light and she rolled to the side and pulled her head as far away from the invasion as possible.
“Amina?” it repeated, closing the door. The speaker seemed to expect some kind of reaction from the husk once named Amina. She moaned and gestured, her movements lacking all meaning, lolling her head toward the sound. A small movement compared to before. The brain learns quickly to minimize actions that cause pain.
The person spoke again. “Baby, are you in here?”
Amina’s eyes burned, forcing her to close them. Thick mucus ran down her face, pooling in her ears where it blended with another, darker fluid that dripped from her inner ear. Tubes connected to her body, blood thinners and saline, plus other untested drugs that may or may not slow the progression of the disease. No one knew the final outcome.
Amina had been one of the first outside the large cities to become ill. Her work had taken her to New York City just before the CDC announced a spreading contagion and warned people to wear masks and gloves whenever in large crowds. In the beginning, when she sneezed, she attributed it to the usual spring cold. She didn’t connect it with her trip or the increasing number of stories on the news about the burgeoning pandemic.
Now everyone she knew, everyone she had touched or stood next to on an elevator, had been exposed. By association, everyone they knew suffered. So far, little hope of a cure remained.
Rumors spread in Flushing, Queens, of a man who had made a complete recovery after receiving an antiviral medication for meningitis, but no one could verify or repeat the results. A hospital in Wichita claimed to have cured an ill child by introducing small amounts of mercury into her system. But the child soon died from the poison so many had hoped would cure her.
The light dimmed again and Amina sighed in relief. The stinging blue glow had been her constant companion. Now, without the initial intensity, Amina was learning to endure the pounding in her head. Thoughts tangled her mind, unable to congeal into coherent meaning beyond minimizing pain and seeking relief for the burning in her throat.
“Fadlik,” Amina moaned, speaking in the mother tongue which she had not used in twenty years. “Fadlik, Ummi…”
“Amina, baby, I’m here…”
Eric Foxx rushed into the dark room containing his wife. She was one of three patients crammed into a small triage room. It should not have been used for admitted patients, but there was no where else for them to go. The hospital overflowed with the sick, both real and hypochondriacs who feared infection.
The number of infected had escalated and no one could get accurate information from the CDC anymore, if you reached them at all. Nine days had passed since the hospital admitted Amina and she barely received enough treatment to keep her alive. Or maybe she received all the treatment anyone could offer.
Eric had met his wife during the first Gulf War. She had been too young to realize that falling in love with a white American soldier would end any ties she had with her Kuwaiti family. Still, Amina had always been strong, stronger than any of the women he’d ever encountered. Strong enough to challenge his heart and mind and always win.
When they met, Eric had be twenty-three and Amina seventeen, too young for marriage by American standards, but with the consent of her mother, they wed in Kuwait and she came to America as his wife. The day after they left her home, she had received a call from her older brother. Her mother had been punished for going against their father’s wishes by allowing Amina to wed an alshit’an a’bi. She died in a small medical clinic three days later.
Amina never again spoke Arabic or mentioned her family unless an unsuspecting acquaintance asked her about them. Few people asked a second time. Eric’s wife had a quick and vicious sense of humor few wanted aimed at them. It was one of the things he loved most about her—she never ceased to surprise him with the way her mind worked; she was insightful and cutting.
Eric sped across the dim room, maneuvering around the cots and IV stands. He couldn’t imagine how the nurses managed to get close enough to the patients to take care of them. Especially the guy in the middle. He was crammed in so tight no space existed between the cots. Between the overworked staff and overcrowded patients, conditions in the hospital plummeted. Soon, instead of being a safe haven from disease, it would become an incubator.
The room smelled of cleaning solution, sweat, and another, more primal and less recognizable scent. It singed the hairs in Eric’s nose and made him breathe through his mouth.
At the foot of Amina’s bed, Eric made out the shape of his wife and heard her soft moans. The light from the hall filtered in through Venetian blinds, providing the illusion of privacy in a public place.
“Ummi,” she moaned, startling Eric.
“Mina, baby…I’m right here…” he took a step around the edge of her bed and flicked on the small florescent light above her.
Her screams began just a second before his. Agony echoed in her brain as the light pierced her eyelids, scorching her retinas and dissolving the thin membrane holding her eyes together. Then the viscous fluid that once filled her optic organs washed down her face, leaving behind only the hollowed out sockets.
The shocking torment reverberating within her skull dulled, and the blue light disappeared. Amina opened her lids, unaware she would not be able to see. She sat up, her body still resisting movement, but now something more important than pain held her attention.
Breathing in, she tasted something familiar in the air, something enticing that awoke an unexpected hunger. Her guts roiled and gurgled within, begging to be filled.
Eric’s screams continued as he stared, mouth agape at the form that not a day ago had been his wife. His beautiful, exotic wife. Now before him sat something barely recognizable as human. Bits of her outer layers of skin peeled off, leaving her covered in raw red and fatty yellow chunks of flesh.
Beneath her skin had formed a transparent membrane, which held her organs and muscles in place. Her skin was sloughing away and being replaced with a substance more similar to the vitelline membrane that protects the yoke inside an egg.
Moisture was the single thing that would alleviate the intense pain of patients who progressed to this stage; morphine proved ineffective even in euthanizing dosages. Water wasn’t enough. They tried emerging patients in tubs only to find the membrane would dissolve, leaving the patient exposed to the air and infection until a new layer grew back. Untreated, the patients oozed enough fluid from their orifices and through their remaining flesh to coat them with a slick slime. This appeared the sole thing to offer relief.
Amina tilted her head, searching for the enticing smell. The pain in her body decreased as her focus sharpened. As she moved, leaning toward whatever called to her with the power of a siren’s song, her muscles and skin no longer tormented her.
Eric backed away from the creature before him, unable to reconcile the monstrous creature with the beautiful woman he had married. The black holes replacing her eyes gaped at him, sludge sliding down her olive skin, discolored with the tinge of death.
“Amina?” Eric asked, his back against the window, Venetian blinds bending and snapping out of place as he pushed as far away from her as possible.
A low growl came from her as she opened her mouth, almost like she was smiling at him, if not for the stench of sulfur emitting from her.
Eric inched toward the door, but each movement he made carried his scent through the air to the Amina-thing. Her tongue flicked out as if tasting him, and the empty orbs followed his movements. She growled again, a low predatory sound, before moving forward on the bed on all fours.
Naked and crouched like a wild animal, Amina allowed her instincts guide her. She couldn’t see, but she didn’t notice, instead perceiving her surroundings in sharp, clear contrast. The smells were distinct: two bodies registered as familiar, like brethren, and a third, enticing smell. The heat of Eric’s body drew her in, and the scent of his skin called her. He spoke, making a sound she couldn’t decipher, but the cadence appealed to her.
She rocked forward a bit, her need growing, creating a near-painful cramping in her body. Whatever gave off this smell was something she craved, something she needed. She needed it to survive, to exist. It had something she did not and without it she would cease to be. Biology demanded she act, that she consume and absorb this thing before her.
She sprang from her crouch. Eric fell beneath her, slipping away from her grasp. He screamed. To Amina’s new form, the sounds meant nothing. The vibrations excited her, her body quivering with the anticipation of something she could not name.
Eric shrieked as the distorted face of his wife sniffed at him. She held him down with a strength she’d never possessed and should not have after so debilitating an illness. When she inhaled against his chest and moaned, Eric’s cries became frantic.
The hallway outside of Amina’s room was empty; the shift changing, the nurses exhausted and understaffed. Orderlies and technicians kept things running as best they could, but the small triage room down one hall of the ER had been forgotten in the chaos. No one heard Eric’s wails except for the patients in adjacent rooms, too possessed with their own pain to register the sound as external.
A bloodcurdling howl ripped through the hospital as Amina consumed the source of her attraction. She crawled out of the room, still naked and on all fours. Eric’s claret blood covered her, the arterial spray coating her face and torso. She stalked down the hall, looking for another victim, someone other than her brethren who might have the same intoxicating smell. Addicted, her need overwhelmed any remaining self Amina might have retained.
The triage room door closed, leaving Eric’s lifeless body on the floor in the dark antechamber. His blood pooled around him, sections of skull and gray matter lay like forgotten puzzle pieces.
In the middle bed, John Petersen sat up, inspired by the scent of nourishment. The pain in his body receded as his eyes throbbed. Desperation to relieve the pressure surged through his limbs. Pushing the heels of his hands against his face, the ocular membranes burst. Soon he crouched on all floors and began the search for something to relieve his hunger.