I invite you to take a trip to listen in as I interview a character of my current work in progress (my science fiction novel Blood Feud). So strap on a seat belt and take a trip far into the deep reaches of space with me…
Deep in the heart of a galaxy more than 100,000 light years away, is a city-world that has become eaten up by a landscape of mountainous architecture. But underneath the Capitol mega-city lays a dark underworld of labyrinths and secret places. Where those in the Ethian Empire go to become forgotten, or the Fazha find a home to scratch out an existence. In this dark and dank place I go into the depths of the city of rejects, abandoned, and lawless to find the person I seek.
After traversing a mind-numbing amount of tunnels stretching deep into the planet, I enter a door carved into ancient stone. And nearly fall over from the stink of unwashed bodies and some indiscernible rot. I take shallow breaths to help keep me from throwing up.
The garish dim green lighting from the tunnel I’d been in is replaced with a deep red hue, splashing those inside with a sinister tone. I gulp down the fear exploding from my chest and take hesitant steps inside. A thing with purple skin and sharp fangs protruding from a snout jostles me to the side as he walks out. Fazha.
My gaze wanders the smattering of tables in the room. I see a short man with long ears that droop to his shoulders, a tall hairy man who makes me shudder as the thought “werewolf” comes to mind, and a fuchsia face fellow with web-hands who looks more fish than man. Fazha.
I see their looks of distrust and even hate, so I let my gaze fall to a spot against the back wall where a long counter sits. I know I look too Ethian, too human for them, even though I am not (well, not Ethian that is). But explaining that would be pointless.
Another Fazha stands behind the counter. A woman. Her skin a sleek gray and a silk dress that accentuates four breasts with perky nipples. Again I try not to stare, but fail. Her crimson lips give me a hint of a smile as one of her six hands places a tall mug of foaming liquid before me. I look down into the frothing drink, pulling my jacket across my own chest feeling inadequate with only two and a much smaller bust.
I wonder if I should have come here but then I see him from the corner of my eye. A dark shadow, but I know it’s him. The only Ethian in the room. I take an absent-minded sip from my drink. It tastes like moldy socks. The liquid burns all the way to my gut and makes the room spin for just a second. Whoa. But an instant warm feeling seeps into my body, giving me courage as I stand up and walk across the room to the far corner.
I sit down across from him, but he does not even acknowledge me.
“Hi,” I manage to squeak out. I needed to get my act together. I take another swig from the swill I’m still clutching. This time managing not to gag after I drink, well not as much anyways.
I sit the mug down and stare into the darkness across the table, only shadows and a feint silhouette of a man greets me. All my courage and boldness seeps away as I realize I’m at a loss for what to say. What can I possibly ask this man that I didn’t already know? And what can I say that wouldn’t completely offend the infamous renegade Markus Nador?
“Do you miss your home world of Darat? I know it’s lovely this time of year.” As soon as I say it, I know my words are lame, but the pressure of the situation leaves my mind blank.
And as I expected, the silhouette doesn’t even move. The silence it’s own terrifying rebuke.
I attempt to lighten the mood. “Soooo what’s your favorite color?” And end the question with a silly laugh, but the laugh only makes me feel inferior, stupid even.
“Mines purple, in case you were wondering.” I blurt out to fill the uncomfortable silence, but my words only make me feel ridiculous, so I take a huge gulp of drink. The liquid seers my belly and I’m glad for the distraction.
I clear my throat, and feel just a little bit bolder. “So you heard the news? About the lost Zahn? What are your thoughts on how his sudden presence will effect the Blood Feud?”
No respond. The shadow motionless. Even this close I still cannot see his face or eyes, the blackness clings so tightly to him. But I can feel them, his eyes. They are heavy on me as if staring in judgment for a crime I had yet to commit, or maybe I already had and did not yet know it.
“I heard a rumor that you and the lost Zahn had once been friends a long time ago when you were children.”
The dark man grunted. A sound that reminded me of a lion before digging into newly killed prey.
“I even heard he saved your life once.”
The shadow moved in a blink, leaning across the table and making the space between us disappear much too fast. I try to move backward, but his dark gray eyes root me in place. But I can see him now. The broad cut of his chin, the cropped ebony hair that I know once flowed freely all the way down to his shoulders, but the most noticeable is his eyes. The pain lurking there. The sorrow. The revenge still waiting to be doled out to those most deserving.
“What do you want?” his voice cuts deep and I feel I might bleed.
“You should give him a chance. He isn’t like the other Zahns, Markus.”
He grunts again and sits back into the shadows, but my fear of the man falls away, realizing his use of the darkness is a cloak to hide what lay beneath.
“So I see you just came from the fights.” I gesture to his still bloody knuckles and the telling trickle of blood running from temple to neck.
He picks up his own mug and takes a great long drag, then lets the container slam back down with a jolting thud. I feel the sound rip through me and know it signals the end of a conversation that never had a chance in the first place. Why did I come here? Why did I think he’d talk to me or anyone else for that matter? But out of all my characters he had the most to divulge, if only I could persuade him to talk.
“That’s it, that’s all I wanted to say.” No. Not really, but I stand up anyways.
“You came a long way for nothing.” He replies.
“Did I?” I can’t help but smirk. I’d gotten him to speak. That was more than what many were able to accomplish, but I had hoped to get more from him. I turn to leave.
“They deserve to die, every single last Zahn. I’m just glad the Blood Feud will be here soon. It will do what I failed to do.” Markus stands, his gray eyes full with the hot fire of hate.
I can’t stop the shiver that courses through me. What had I done? What started as something so innocent had turned into a terrible fury. A fury I could no longer control.
“Don’t let the hate destroy you.”
He scoffs, “And how do you suppose I do that?”
I shrug as nonchalantly as I can manage. “Perhaps, embracing the thing you hate most?”
He laughs, a deep condescending laugh and I can’t help but feel anger rise up inside. “Do you want to keep going as you have? Living a life of nonexistence? Fighting for sport? You really like putting on a show for all of them?” I gesture to the now staring members of the tavern.
Markus stares them down, every single one, and the Fazha return to their drinks. “I like a good fight.”
“The fighter’s circle will get you killed.”
“The Zahns would certainly like that.” He says quietly and sits down. A whispering shadow of defeat hangs about him.
This time I’m the one who grunts, “And since when did you ever do something because someone else liked it, especially the Zahns.” I shake my head more than a little disappointed at the man before me, but I suppose I should have seen this coming. This had been a bad idea. I walk from the tavern.
“No, you don’t,” I hear a shout from behind. A hand grabs my shoulder and stops me from entering the main thoroughfare where a slow procession of Fazha and an occasional Ethian traverse the cavernous chasm to destinations unknown.
I stop surprised that Markus followed me. He didn’t often leave his dark corner of the tavern except for an occasional night’s rest in his meager living quarters three levels up, or go a few rounds in the fighter’s circle.
“What do you want, Markus?” I say, looking down at my watch. My son would be home from school soon. This was taking longer than expected.
“You don’t get to walk away like that. I have questions for you too, things I demand answers for.” I cannot help but notice his body looks relaxed, too relaxed, and I know Markus is ready for a fight.
I consider making a run for it, but know I am way out of my league so I gulp back my fear and nod. “Fine. What questions do you have?”
He gestures back to the tavern’s gapping door where a red haze lights the way. “Have a seat.”
… catch the second part of this interview next week in An Author Interview and a Journey to Another Galaxy!