Table of Contents
Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective (excerpt)
Colony Ascension (excerpt)
The Switch (book I of The Switch II: Clockwork)
Stealer of Souls (Immortal III excerpt)
“The caretakers’ offices are on the ground floor.” Karla pointed to each of the four cubicles, two on both sides of the shuttered kitchen. Silver’s application had been accepted with only one dissenting vote. Hung Wai said he didn’t trust him. Now, Karla was giving Silver a tour of his new home.
She gestured to the flat screen mounted to a post in the center of the room. “On this console you can listen to music or watch net shows. If it’s after 11:00 o’clock, just keep the volume settings low.” The youth trudged alongside her, dragging a green knapsack.
Karla pointed to the bag. “Is that your stuff?”
Silver grinned, his teeth were surprising white and even. “Yeah. . .”
Boy, he’s got great looking teeth for a junkie. “Is it heavy?”
“Little bit, but I’m okay.”
She returned his smile. “We don’t have far to go.” They boarded the elevator and got off on the sixth floor. “Seventy-five residents share floors two through six. Every floor with living quarters has a pool table and a weight room, and there’s a library on the third floor.”
“CLEAN doesn’t have an in-house medical staff, but if you have an emergency we’ve got a 24 hour hotline that can be accessed using any console; and a panic button on every floor.” Karla pointed to the red button next to the elevator.
“Or you can tell one of our enforcers. They’re here round the clock.” She waved at the two golden-skinned Telphranes flanking the left wall and they nodded their bald heads in greeting.
“Come on, I’ll show you to your room.” Karla walked him to his cubicle: one among the fifteen, rectangular stalls that lined the floor; followed him inside and settled in one of the two armchairs, while he sat on the bed
She grinned, “Believe it or not, I’m almost finished. Breakfast is served between 9:00 and 10:00; lunch between 12:00 and 1:00. Meditation is at 10:30, and living sessions are from 2:30 to 4:30. Matt’s been assigned as your personal caretaker. During your first week, he’s available to you 24 hours a day.”
“The house rules are posted on every floor, but I’ll go over them because you can be evicted for breaking just one. No drugs allowed unless they’re prescribed. No visits to a resident’s cubicle unless you’re invited—this one’s really important because we’ve got male and female residents living here. You’re adults, we don’t care what you do, so long as it’s consensual and it’s not group sex. No rapes or orgies allowed.”
“No physical violence allowed either. If you’ve got a problem with one of your housemates, see your caretaker. That’s it,” Karla stood, “any questions?”
Silver shook his head. “Naw, I’m cool.”
“So you think you’re gonna like it here?”
He smiled shyly. “I think I’m gonna love it.”
Karla leaned down and hugged him. “Welcome to the family.”
Tehotep sprawled on the cushioned divan, one leg thrown over the couch arm, Red and black hued carpets were scattered over the hardwood floors. Black marble columns supported the ceilings. The warehouse was lit by oil burning lamps and scented candles, the walls, decorated with paintings of mortals coupling with daemons.
He eyed the six addicts lounging about the room: four sucking greedily on rush pipes, two others making love in the corner. For weeks, he’d been luring them here. They preferred his house to the dormitories —and even the nightspots. There were no rules here, no credits to worry about. They only had to remember that his commands were law.
Now they numbered 60. Soon, he would have hundreds. For a moment, he gazed feverishly at the two slaves and was sorely tempted to join them. No, it’s time for the ceremony.
Tehotep rose from the chair and spread his arms. Come to me. . .In moments, he was surrounded by his acolytes; surviving for weeks on a diet of little more than drugs, his slaves were emaciated. He wondered if they would all survive the transmogrification.
“Take off your clothing and go to the basement.” They glanced at each another fearfully. He’d threatened to kill them if they ever went into the basement. Now he was ordering them to break his own edict?
“Obey me now.” His voice would brook no refusal. They disrobed and in twos and threes began to board the elevator. When they’d all reached the ground floor, Tehotep appeared in the center of the room. The acolytes jumped then stared at him fearfully.
Yet another sorcerer’s trick to prove he wasn’t human.
But once they got a good look at the room, they were ready to bolt.
The cellar was bereft of furniture or windows and lit by four candles, one in each corner of the room. A huge, half circle had been etched into the floor and painted with a crimson substance that glowed eerily in the dim light. Those standing near the door started to back away, mumbling under their breath.
“If you try to leave, I will kill you where you stand!” His voice held them immobile.
“You!” He called a thin, trembling woman to him, and directed her to mold her body to the design. He ordered a second slave to lie beneath her, so that his fingertips touched her toes. One by one, at his command, they fitted their bodies to the diagram.
Tehotep stepped inside the fractured circle, raised his hands and began to chant: “Transformai edivai, transformai edivai…That which is whole, let it be broken, that which is pure, let it be defiled
. . .”
Ghostly shadows appeared along the walls, their voices merging with his. The chant grew to a roar. His acolytes began to scream. . .
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