Justin Beiber says he doesn't like his picture on People Magazine. I think he should just be happy he's on it.
Today I welcome Kelly A. Harmon on her virtual blog tour for her latest Blood Soup. She's going to give us a little taste of the soup!
King Theodicar of Borgund needed an heir. When his wife, Queen Piacenza, became pregnant, he’d hoped for a boy. His wife, along with her nurse, Salvagia, were convinced that the child would be a girl. With each cast of the runes, Salvagia’s trusted divination tools yielded the same message: “A girl child must rule or the kingdom will fall to ruin.”
When the queen finally gives birth, the nurse and the king are equally surprised. The king is faced with a terrible choice, and his decision will determine the fate of his kingdom. Will he choose wisely, or will he doom Borgund to ruin?
Amalric didn’t know what he had expected to see—what he expected to feel—once he entered the catacombs. But it certainly wasn’t the empty void he experienced. Surely, these two women should mean something to me, he thought. He should feel sad for their passing. Or relief at his own existence. Or anger at his sister’s senseless murder.
But he’d never met them, and they meant nothing.
“Mother,” he whispered, trying to feel the relationship. He touched her loose brown hair, satiny in death, as if it had been oiled. Mummified flesh clung to her skull, her mouth hung slack with decay. But he could make out her features, even in abstract.
Piacenza’s arms crossed her chest, holding onto the baby she’d died birthing. The child lay on her stomach, her face turned out to the corridor. Smooth in death, the babe’s skin was stretched taut across her skull, her tiny mouth open as if searching for a breast. Amalric couldn’t picture this small babe as his twin.
“Sister,” he said, failing to convince himself of an emotional connection to the babe. He smoothed a thumb across her forehead, touched a finger to her puckered lips.
A scowl wrinkled his forehead, and he felt a tightness behind his eyes.
Now that he knew about them, how long would he continue to feel the emptiness that knowing them should have filled?
Had his father confirmed his sister’s existence in order to wring sympathy from his heart? Didn’t he realize that a man who had never known the loving touch of his mother nor felt the bond of his long-deceased sister would find nothing but apathy amid these moldering bones?
Amalric gazed at the wispy hair, the withered skin, and suddenly, he made a fist and drove it into his mother’s side. He felt her ribcage shatter beneath his knuckles, and saw his sister’s small frame sink as the bones of his mother failed to support her. A puff of dust rose above his sister’s head like a small halo in the torchlight.
He laughed, finding sudden humor in the situation. He should be rejoicing, he thought. Perhaps he should feel some harmony with his sire—the man who removed all obstacles from his path to the throne.
How pathetic of him, thought Amalric, if he felt any pride at all for getting rid of these women. Women, he thought, who are frail beyond measure and easily subdued. How pitiable that Father should take pride in such an achievement. And worse, how contemptible that he might think my seeing their mortal remains would create in me a sudden change of heart.
Kelly A. Harmon used to write truthful, honest stories about authors and thespians, senators and statesmen, movie stars and murderers.
She found reporting by turns exciting (covering a murder trial) and excruciatingly boring (covering itty-bitty town council meetings). Most other stories managed to fall in between those extremes on a sliding scale of interesting.
When not crazed with the need to freelance, Ms. Harmon writes fantasy and dark fantasy with the occasional science fiction piece. Her story, Lies, short-listed for the 2008 Aeon Award and Blood Soup won the Fantasy Gazetteers Novella Contest prior to Eternal Press publishing it. Look for her story “Selk-Skin Deep” in Bad @ss Fairies 3, debuting in May, and Establishing a Good Critique Group in How to Write Paranormal, coming this fall.
Blood Soup at Eternal Press: http://www.eternalpress.biz/searches.php?genre=22
Kelly A. Harmon’s Web Site: http://kellyaharmon.com/