Sunday, February 9, 2014

Outtakes: Ghastly Business

My free short story, Dead Man and the Lustful Spirit, takes place on New Year's Eve, after the events of Dead Man and the Restless Spirits. Denton and Bran go to a costume party dressed as a necromancer and a mage from Denton's favorite hack-and-slash computer game.

Originally I had the idea of Joy helping with Denton's makeup, but it dragged and I ended up cutting the whole scene. In the spirit of not letting things go to waste, here are two snippets from it:

The very tip of Denton’s nose itched something wicked, and, of course, he couldn’t scratch it. He was trying very hard to remain still but failed terribly.

“Stop fidgeting, or I’ll tie you to the chair,” Joy snapped and grasped Denton’s chin harder.

“I love it when you talk dirty, Mistress,” Denton mumbled barely opening his lips. He quickly pressed them together when the makeup sponge Joy was dabbing his face with landed dangerously close.

She only snorted in reply and kept working. Sitting still had never been Denton’s strong suit but he did his best. For a few minutes there was silence.

At last, Joy let go and stepped back. She stood there with a jar of white make up in one hand and sponge wedge in  the other. She cocked her head to the side, pursed her lips, and surveyed him with the eyes of an artist trying to decide if her masterpiece was complete yet. “It’ll do, You’re suitably ghoulish,” she declared, picking up the round mirror from the coffee table next to her and holding it so Denton could see himself in it. “What do you think?”

The ashen face of a wraith stared back at Denton, yellowish eyes glowing from dark, sunken eye sockets. Raven hair framed his face in shocking contrast. “Wow. Awesome job.” he announced grinning, although it ruined the overall effect of creepiness they were going for. “Way better I could’ve done.” He surreptitiously rubbed his nose.

“Well, that’s why I’m the artist and you the code monkey, my dear.” She put the mirror back down, stepped back, keeping her observant gaze on him. “It’s really simple if you know what you’re doing—a little makeup and color contact lenses, and voilĂ , scrawny web programmer is transformed into a minion of hell. Or something. You look ghastly.”


A short while later as they shuffled into the elevator, all of them bundled in heavy coats, Joy seemed deep in thought. “I’d like to have you over for dinner next month. You know, to make up for the Thanksgiving disaster.”

Bran didn’t have the most expressive face but the way he stiffened, practically shouted alarm. Denton sympathized, but he didn’t want to risk hurting Joy’s feelings. “It was no disaster. We had a great time, right Bran? Once we opened the windows the smell wasn’t so bad.”

“I burned the yams, and the turkey was still frozen inside. We ended up going out for Chinese,” Joy replied.

“Um yeah, sure, but it was very good Chinese.”

“No buts. You’re coming over. I have something new cooking. You’ll see.” The elevator door opened with a ding and Joy swept out, leaving no chance for objection, not that it would’ve done any good.

Denton gave Bran and apologetic shrug and followed.

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