For today’s free read, an excerpt from Armoire–my contribution to the Detritus anthology. Click the link in this paragraph to visit Omnium Gatherum’s Detritus release announcement. Now, on with the excerpt.
by Louise Bohmer
“He’s behind me right now, isn’t he?” Xian leaned forward, tented his fingers over a book bound in leather, and studied her with eyes so brown they were almost black. “Your expression tells a story.”
Ophelia felt her face tense in a mask of fear. The shadow man stepped away from the single bulb covered by a green light shade, which dangled just above Xian. She nodded, watching the shadow man stroke a wispy hand over Xian’s shoulder, before the illusion wedged himself in a slender space between two filing cabinets.
“I felt him then.” Blue smoke drifted up, forming a halo around her mentor’s slicked back hair. “He’s been in there a while.” Rising from his plush, leather office chair, he tapped Ophelia’s forehead. “You’re still collecting rather than banishing, aren’t you?” He blew three rings, watched them float away, then pinned her with another cold, matter-of-fact stare.
“But if I see them,” she whispered, “I feel safe. In the jars, they can’t hurt me.”
The man sitting across from her was the real deal. Not just a tarot reader looking for a quick fifty bucks. Mother told her he was born in Vietnam. Spent a great deal of time studying shamanism as he made his way through India, the Middle East, Europe, and eventually here, to North America, where he’d studied with her mother, until she died from a brain aneurysm. When he gave her occult advice, she trusted it implicitly. In esoteric circles she once frequented, rumor had it he was her father, but he’d neither confirmed nor denied it.
“And what has this one done?” After crushing out his cigarette, he threw his hands up in the air. “This isn’t the first time one has gotten loose and embedded in your brain. You should be banishing the parasites, not binding them to this world. An extended stay only allows them more power over you. You know that. Not to mention, you’ve trapped their brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, in there. It’s inevitable they’ll come seeking revenge.”
She fidgeted with the hem of her sweater, looked away from his gaze that saw all within her. “They’re getting trickier. I lock the armoire every night. They’re still getting out.”
He sighed and rubbed his brow as he frowned. “And why do you suppose that is? Your lessons are sorely behind. Would it kill you to come to me once a week for our sessions? It’s been over a year. This isn’t like riding a bike, you know? Training is constant, and diligence is a must.”
Nodding, she huffed her red bangs out of her face. Now, would he throw the whole, “your mother would be so disappointed you’re not following in her footsteps,” spiel at her? She hoped not. Instead, he took a different track, but no relief came. His next question clenched a cold, tight fist around her stomach.
“Does Marta know about the inter-dimensional parasites you’re keeping in your mother’s armoire?” Xian’s eyebrow rose.
Copyright © 2011 Louise Bohmer. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be changed and/or distributed without the author’s permission.
The impulse to collect springs from deep within the human psyche Squirrels gather acorns, rats collect shiny things, but only humans assign meaning to the objects they collect. Detritus is a collection of stories about the impulse to collect, preserve, and display gone horribly wrong.
Featuring: Kealan Patrick Burke, Jeremy C, Shipp, Mary Borsellino, Brent Michael Kelley, Phil Hickes, L.S. Murphy, Michael R. Colangelo, Neil Davies, Louise Bohmer, Edmund Colell, S.P. Miskowski, Michael Montoure, Lee Widener, Pete Clark, and Opal Edgar.
Paperback available from Omnium Gatherum for $13.99 (coming soon on Amazon).
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