Composed of Nows: An Excerpt

Recently, my dear friend and occasional co-conspirator, Mel Sayre produced two amazing pieces of art (one of which is featured above) depicting one the characters that has been dancing around in my head for a long time as part of my extended story universe.

Seeing this, and with Camp NaNoWriMo right around the corner, I realised that I wanted, desperately, to write with her – Jeska – again. So, Composed of Nows will be my project for next month.

So here we are, another excerpt of utterly unedited work. This is, quite literally, how it came out of my brain one night. I’ll be posting an edited version sometime after or during Camp NaNoWriMo for comparison’s sake.

There will be more on this, so do let me know what you think.

And please go have a look at Mel Sayre’s Patreon to check out more of her art (including the second piece of Jeska she surprised me with) and her amazing writing. The Sirens, one of her current projects, comes highly recommended.

(Not to mention that she and I have such things planned.)

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Composed of Nows

The moon’s whispered lunacies, delivered by thin streams of white light, scattered into nothing as they struck The Bazaar’s ash-blackened windows, breaking apart and falling away like they’d never been. Quietly spoken promises of madness, or so they seemed to Vae as he stared up at the impossible building, breathing heavily as an unfamiliar — but not unexpected — dread crawled its way through his gut.

The tower rose into the night sky like a black and white vision of elegant insanity. Endless storeys of sweeping archways and flying buttresses of black-stained wood. Barely translucent paper doors and walls behind which shadows danced and curled like smoke in suggestive, sinuous motions. Balconies and open walkways and external staircases that led into open air and windows that leaked thin streams of black smoke.

The floors didn’t stretch beyond his sight, but he knew better than to try and count how storeys made up the tower’s crawling architecture. The attempt could drive him mad, he knew, but he couldn’t stop his mind from speculating about the structure’s nature. Was it changing, or was it simply being multiple things at once?

Why was it that if he put his head down and focused on walking along the path of white sand that his periphery saw a small, ramshackle shop? But when he tilted his head to the left to see the roiling mass of black gravel that passed for a garden the building struck him as being missing altogether? And when he looked to the right, why did he have the impression of a cave, leaking darkness and hungry smoke?

Vae didn’t know whether it was a reflection of its mistress or if the building was simply a place she had found to her liking. He’d heard enough stories to believe either, but even for someone of his considerable experience he couldn’t imagine the nature of a creature that could comfortably call a place like this home.

And now she was waiting for him.

He mused for a moment, as he climbed the short stairs that led to The Bazaar’s yawning doors, whether waiting was the right word to describe what she was doing now. Expecting him, perhaps? She’d known he was coming before he did, had always known he would come before he even existed.

Or had he always existed in her eyes?

“Because you chose to.”

The voice came from somewhere ahead of him. A rich, deep, hungry voice that tantalised and horrified him with equal measure. There was a contempt in the words, a disdain, but something sinfully enticing too. He felt a flush of excitement and a cold fear that fought against a wave of hot shame that rose to meet it.

The darkness of The Bazaar’s smoke-filled interior parted like a curtain, revealing a long corridor of black-lacquered floorboard and brilliant white ribbons of silk that hung down from the impossible blackness above.

They rippled in an unfelt breeze, and he bit back a scream as he suddenly realised that he could see her, standing at the end of the hallway with her fingers dancing through the ribbons.

“Why am I here?” The question rose to his lips and clawed its way free as a harsh, terrified whisper.
“I already told you,” Jeska said, her heels clicking on the wood as she moved slowly towards him. Fear clawed at his mind, but he fought to hold it bay as his mind converted what he saw into something it could understand.

Over seven feet tall, with hair so black it was almost blue, Jeska’s slim body moved with the sinuous grace of a dancer, skin the colour of moonlight, eyes like black smoke, there was something both painfully arousing and nauseatingly repulsive in her lithe curves.

“I didn’t choose anything,” he managed, fighting back the bile as she approached him, the thin silver chains she wore to compliment her grey outfit chiming softly.

“Oh, but you did, little snake,” Jeska assured him, her perfect and abhorrent lips curling into a small smile. He collapsed to his knees, as she reached him, his skin crawling as the back of her elegant fingers with their lacquered nails trailed past his cheek. “And don’t think I’ll forgive you for that.”

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