Who doesn't like a good DI?
What's a DI? It's a Detective Inspector. It took me quite awhile to connect with my leading man, Detective Inspector George Cooper. He was a bit out of focus through the first few drafts. Why? Well, he's a dude AND he's British. Neither of which I am very familiar. I do have an addiction to British detectives though. There all fun to watch. DI Robert Lewis, DI Endeavour Morse, DI Jimmy Perez, DCI Tom Barnaby, DCI Jane Tennison, and my all time favorite DCI Vera Stanhope. So I had a frame work, I just needed to fill him in. As I kept writing and revising (and revising), I saw a man with a troubled childhood, an exemplary military record, and a soft smile. I saw a detective who would dig up the truth at any cost. Here is one my favorite chapters from The Last Resurrection.
3 – New Landscape
There wasn’t supposed to be any more of that in death. He didn’t expect peace or quiet, but this, this couldn’t be right. A rod of agony, sharp as ice hammered from the top of his head to the balls of his feet. He was frozen in place, unable to move, unable to break through the ice. When he tried to scream, cold earth filled his mouth. When he tried to move, the heat of pain radiated from his chest, etching his bones. The weight of it compounded his misery.
Pain was a state of mind, not being. He let his mind go. In the dark recesses of memory, he found solace in the sound of gunfire. Rapid gunfire. The intoxicating singe of metal and carbon filled his mouth. Heat slithered under his skin. The foreign scents of curry, cumin, and fenugreek mixed with sweat, fear and doubt.
He awoke, escaping into memory.
His uniform clung to his skin. The heavy cotton pressed on his biceps as he held his rifle close to his chest like a third appendage. Gunfire popped against the wall, shattering windows and caking his face with more dust. He could only see through the sight of his rifle. Every time he pulled away to listen to the sounds of war, there was only darkness. He slowly walked down the corridor of an old sunbaked dwelling. He kicked open a door. A mother wept, holding her children close to her chest. He lowered his weapon, again darkness.
Backing out of the room, the rush of adrenalin beat at the back of his throat. Barked commands filled his ears. Bullets rained through the corridor, flying through the darkness like fireflies. He tumbled backwards into another room. Guttural, fragmented speech welcomed him. He lifted his rifle. Through the scope, red lights flashed on the vest. There was no second thought. He ran at the man, tackling him to the ground.
He plummeted into darkness.
His arms flailed, attempting to stop the fall and the nerves in his stomach squeezed. But there was nothing to reach for. Nothing to stop him. Nothing to catch. He was engulfed by nothing. Making a fist, he crushed the cold through his fingers. Disoriented, he prayed for the cycle of pain and memory to stop.
He awoke in another house, this one more familiar. A two-story suburban brownstone. He climbed the stairs. His clothing didn’t stick to his skin. The air was cool and crisp, held the scent of trees and fresh rain. When he came to the top of the stairwell, he tasted blood. At the end of the corridor, there was a lone room. He reached for a weapon but found a notebook and pen in the palm of his hand instead. His warrant card dangled from his neck, and salt flooded his mouth. This was all he ever wanted.
“Vic.” But the name didn’t leave his mouth. Only silence.
The door of the room swelled and fell, like it was breathing. His footing slipped. Blood coated the floor, thick as wax.
“What are you waiting for, boss? An invitation?” Vic asked.
George turned to look for Vic, but all he could see was the door. The door smelled of cigarettes, apple brandy, and drug store hair gel.
He banged on the door. Why would he find Vic here? Vic didn’t deserve hell. He didn’t deserve her company. He reached for the doorknob and it swallowed his hand, drawing him through. The room was dark, cold, and unyielding. He removed a miniature torchlight from his breast pocket.
They had been in this room before. Chased a suspect to this room. Life had changed in this room. He had trusted Vic with his life, making them partners. The torchlight slowly moved along the walls. On the floor was Vic’s prone body, her eyes wide with terror. He crouched next to her and reached out to confirm her pulse. She was cold, long dead. There were bite marks on her neck.
Piercing pain shot through his spine. The scuffling nails of rats crossed the ceiling. He shone his light up. Nate hissed, his mouth stained crimson. He kicked the torch from George’s hand.
Darkness swallowed the room.
The screams of women and men flooded his mind like ghosts crossing Hades. Memories from the corrupt blood he had consumed. Death now his constant companion.
His breaths came in quick succession, first short gasps, then long moaning wails. Leaves rustled in the distance. The earth’s cold sheet slipped away. The taste of metal, like coins rubbed clean for the arcade, coated his skin with warmth. Stuck to his skin like the cloying heat of the desert.
Blood seeped its way through the cold ground.
The ground shook, and his limbs sang with a new pain. He clawed and dug. Dirt slithered from his limbs, and the sky opened its fury. Lightning and thunder doled out its horror, loud as a witness. He stood naked cloaked in shame and fear.
The ground was littered with the dead. Some had visible traits—arms, legs, fingers extended, reaching for something. Help? Hope? Some bodies were barely recognizable, frames with tattered clothing, rotted flesh, and shattered bones.
George staggered through the hellscape, tripping on body after body. He fell, his face inches away from a familiar corpse. Those big blue eyes, the heart-shaped face, the shallow cheeks, the crack cocaine stained teeth. His mother blinked at him.
Regret held him captive.
“Mum?” he mumbled.
Her mouth moved, but no words came. She tried harder to speak. Her eyes grew wider, more panicked until her body convulsed.
Searing agony coiled in his chest—a child’s longing. He reached out to touch her face, but his hands were covered in blood. He turned them under the strikes of lightning. Where had the blood come from? There was no blood on the river of corpses he had crossed. Black blood twisted around his fingers, reaching out for his face. He yanked his head away. The snakes of black blood wove and curled away from him, turning to his mother.
“Run,” she screamed. “Baby, go.”
The blood wrapped around his mother’s face, muffling her warning, suffocating those expensive words, until she was buried.
He pushed up and ran but the bodies grew soft and squished under his steps, like quicksand. They reached out for him, convulsed like a hungry mouth, until he was sinking under the weight of them.
“Help me,” he pleaded.
After a dozen rushed heartbeats, warmth caressed his fear. A bright light shone. All of his terror evaporated. The light spread across the ground. The hands around his arms and legs released their hold, and the bodies disappeared under the light’s touch. The beacon cast a soft glow like the promise of spring. George ran to the light, hoping for escape from his death’s nightmare. The light glowed from a winged angel. Her features were as smooth as Michelangelo marble. He didn’t dare touch her.
“Save me,” he whispered, falling to his knees.
She bent her head down, examining his features. There was nothing but hope swelling in his heart as she gazed at him. She was his salvation.
“You have my regrets,” she said.
The slightest sound, like a crack, slithered across the back of his neck. Her eyes grew wide with shock, followed by despair. Her mouth parted and a drop of blood pooled at the top of her lip. It fell onto his cheek like a teardrop. A rod of ice had pierced her chest. Cracks cascaded across her perfect face, starting at the high brow, across her high cheekbones, down her chin.
Panic pumped through his veins. “Please, save me,” he said. But the words were muffled by the shattering of her wings. Cold and hopelessness rained against him. He stumbled back into darkness. She was gone. Obliterated.
The dead engulfed him, swallowing his legs, devouring his torso until the cold earth scratched at the back of his throat.