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Skyglass: Chapter 7

Buy the complete novel: ebook | paperback (coming fall 2016)

Hunger and Hype

PHOENIX

SKYGLASS_tastyPI.bup

A pretty man hangs among stars–spine bent, limbs asprawl. His hair is just a haze against his skull, the color of a platinum rose; nebula metallics bend around his arched body. A grinning girl, with small breasts velvet and violet as plums ghosted with morning’s breath, rides him. Her fingers are locked around the collar he wears; the attached leash is coiled around her wrist like a bracelet.

SCENE CHANGE:

The man is running. He sprints down a brick tunnel. The tunnel smells of rainwater and dirt and cum. Orange algae grows on the bricks; blue light strains through the seams. The splash of his feet through puddles echoes loudly against the walls.

A new smell: meat. Raw, red.

And pain: the bite, the urge of hunger.

His collar strains against his throat. It’s rubbed away his skin in places, revealing not blood, but the gleam of machine-flesh. Behind the man, his leash stretches back into the dark tunnel. A glow approaches, the color of dewy plums…

 

I cut off the Blowup I’d prepared for Skyglass. Devin whimpered at the interruption.

“Tell me what happens!” he demanded. “What’s gonna happen to the cute guy?”

I shrugged at him, smug and pleased as can be. “Can’t tell! Agree to Sable’s plot, and maybe you’ll find out.”

Devin twisted his mouth to one side and wrinkled up his nose. He fidgeted on the spot of floor he’d claimed for himself and his three boxes of stale, crunchy-looking Peeps, right in front of Moss’ kick drum. “I wanna know!” he burst out.

“Is that a yes, then?” Sable asked. “A yes, we’ll record a show with Phoenix’s Blowup and send it into space despite all my whining?”

Devin let out a growl. “Guys?” He looked around at Moss and Zinn.

Moss muttered a muddled, “Whatever,” and looked away. Zinn smiled tightly. “That’s fine.”

Devin threw his head back and grinned at the cracked ceiling, tightening one hand into a fist. “Yes!”

“Really?” Sable snorted. “You really don’t hate the idea anymore? ’Cause if you go back on this, I’ll gut you.”

“Well, Phoenix seduced me with her terribly sexy stories. Her wiles are irresistible!”

Sable didn’t bother answering, and instead drew out a crystal-bladed knife I’d never seen before–a com, I realized as she raised it to her face and began speaking at it. Brief images shimmered across the p-com’s surface, while black numbers coalesced and dissolved at its core. Just the sort of intrigue that made me want to chew on it with my teeth.

Minutes later, Sable grinned and put her com away. “I’ve made some threats, so we should have a show very soon.” She turned her hunter’s gaze on me. “Phoenix, we’ll send it live with your Blowup to my friend at the Star-Dusted Ventriloquist. We’ll be more than good enough for him, and on the off chance that we aren’t, well. I have ways to fix things. Him, in other words.” She laced her fingers together and quirked the corner of her mouth at me.  “Thing is, this upcoming show of ours is gonna set a stupidly high standard, which means we’ll need a bigger, shinier Blowup for our space show.” Her quirked-up mouth was grinning now. “You’ll do that for us. Won’t you, Phoenix?”

I popped a bit of candied goat liver I’d found in my pocket into my mouth and hmed at her. “Sure,” I said, after a moment’s thought. And why not? I liked making Blowups, and Skyglass certainly presented me with plenty of interpersonal inspiration, which made me wonder what sneaky, bombastic things I could say about their relationships in my next creation–especially considering the newest development between Marko and Moss.

“Good,” Sable said, while I was still mulling things over. “I want you to meet with Zinn soon, so he can tell you all about the Ventriloquist.”

Curious about why he was the Ventriloquist expert, I snuck a look over at the bassist–just in time to see him hide a grimace. He caught me watching and turned his mouth contortion into a bittersweet smile. While Sable blabbed on about other technicalities, I slipped out Zinn’s unembedded com and sent myself a message, assuming that he kept tabs on it remotely from the com in his brain.

Am I bitter as dandelions to you now? I asked him, flavoring the text so it would zap his mind with a charge that tasted of batteries.

A moment later, he pinged me back with a note. He hadn’t flavored his text, but had injected it with a scent instead: that of a fresh kill and the sweetness of plantcrush underneath, like some dark musk from deep in the Gut. No, he wrote, you’re…savory. It’s the venue. Bad things always happen when I’m there.

You’ve been there before? Bad things like what? I goaded. He kept hinting at a delicious, chaotic past, then leaving me hanging, in need of completion.

Later, he said. I grumbled at that, but refrained from any further poking. For now.

“Excellent.” Sable’s smug triumph broke through my thoughts. She flashed her knife-com at all of us, as if we had the ability to interpret its flaring jumble of visuals and numerals. “A friend of mine decided he wanted to keep his kidneys, so we’ve got that show. We’ll make our transmission in two days, at Fester’s Fling-n-Sing.” She began collecting her guitar and jacket.

I pocketed Zinn’s com and buckled on my hood. “See you glorious people in two days,” I said, teeth glinting. “I’ve got a Blowup to finish.”

Devin choked on the handful of Peep sugar he’d been lapping at. “You mean you don’t know what happens next?” he cried.

“Nope. But I will by showtime,” I promised with a gnash of my teeth, and waltzed out of the studio.

Proceed to Chapter 7, page 2–>

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