Here’s a sample from the next book of mine due to come out from Per Bastet. The book was originally published as EEL’S REVERENCE, way back when “electronic publishing” meant sending the publisher a check by snail mail and getting back a 5 1/4 disc with the book on it.
I’ve rewritten the book a bit and changed the name to THE WOLVES OF PORT NOVO. Better title, yes?
In this excerpt from the first chapter, the narrative character, an elderly female priest named Aunt Libby has gone on “a Final Wandering,” and is within sight of Port Novo.
excerpt from THE WOLVES OF PORT NOVO
by Marian Allen
Someone drawled from just ahead and to my right. “What have we here? This must be my lucky day.”
I looked for the speaker, and there stood a young mermayd. I’ve been around the world four times, and the youngsters of my late parish included the usual percentage of ruffians, but this was one of the toughest sprigs I’ve ever seen. He looked like he ate oysters in the whole-shell….
He slouched against a tree just around the point of the rocks, his silvery tail, six feet from his waist to the tips of his flukes, curled loosely around the bole. His pearly skin glistened with the oil mermayds secrete out of water, and showed fresh bruises and old scars, especially on his arms. His eyes looked completely black through the inner lids now protecting them from the glare of the un-watered sun. His sleek, waist-length blond hair hung in a braid over his shoulder onto his muscular chest.
The gill-band around his neck wasn’t the standard, three-to-a-pack at any apothecary model: It fastened with a lock and bristled with short spikes. Nobody was going to snatch that band off in a fight. He wore a wide belt with a knife sheathed at either side and a large pocket hanging on the right.
I guessed him to be not much more than a tad, about five years old, equivalent to a fourteen-year-old among us landfolk; a young adult, in other words.
“Hello,” I said. “I think it’s going to be a fine day, don’t you?”
He looked puzzled as I came up to him, going so far as to slit open his inner lids to show himself some color. He didn’t speak again until I stopped at arm’s length.
“Alms?” he said, with a dazzling grin.
“Are you asking or offering?” I said, surprised into a smile.
“Priests are poor prospects for robbery. Either way, the answer is ‘yes.’” The mermayd looked puzzled again, but held out his hand. He spread his fingers, making a cup of the webbing between them. I emptied the pockets of my cassock and covered his pearly palm with copper.
“Is that all?”
“You’re welcome to it,” I said gently. What did I need with my pennies? If I found something to eat as a gift from Micah-on-the-sea, I would live. If not, I would die. Either way, I could afford what I gave.
He dumped the coins into his pocket and uncoiled his tail from the tree. “I’m going to search you,” he said. “Dump your stuff and throw away the stick.”
I had to laugh. I shrugged off my bindle and leaned my walking stick against the rocks. “Surely you don’t think a desiccated old scrap like me could hurt you with my little staff.”
“Dried meat’s tough,” he said.
You can read some short stories about the mermayds and humans of Port Novo in my science fiction short story collection, OTHER EARTH, OTHER STARS.
A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Somebody is robbed with menace.