Chapter Four (The Genre Dilemma)

This is the last chapter we are sharing in anticipation of the release of Demons & Angels (Walking Between Worlds, Book I). There have been many elements at play in getting this book ready, and it has been gratifying to watch one thing after another fall into place. Some of the greatest challenges have been the tasks my “Girl Friday” and I expected to find the easiest, and vice versa.

Then she asked me a simple question one day, and she was perfectly within the realm of logical expectation as she awaited an appropriately simple answer. “What genre is Demons and Angels?” she asked me.

The tirade that she got in response was hardly helpful. The only person that has lived with this story almost as intimately as me is Dawn, and she had a valid point. She didn’t deserve to be asked what single genre her life might fit neatly into; she didn’t need me to point out that love drives this story, which plays out in a number of fantastical alternate dimensions, relying on modern and ancient psychology and philosophy to flesh out the underlying message of the tale, with a little imaginative license on my part. Dawn already knew that Paul’s love for Brenna is a huge part of everything happening, and that his internal battle is as telling to his changing perspective as the bloody frays he finds himself in again and again. There was no need to mention that the parts of the story that might be considered erotic are showing examples of a great love that must be seen in all its facets to be understood in all its depth.

None of this was necessary, but the tirade spewed forth all the same. My sweet and patient helpmate listened attentively, nodding occasionally in agreement. She had seen the difficulty in pigeonholing it into one genre, and the danger of people who might enjoy the story a great deal not being exposed to it due to its classification. That’s why she was asking.

Finally, I said, “Fantasy, I guess. Maybe New Age Fiction.” She agreed, and had other wise suggestions that helped us decide how to categorize this book.

Since that conversation, an emerging genre was brought to our attention. There are many definitions of this genre, but the first and most telling that I heard was something like this: These are books about modern or futuristic heroes who do battle using outdated technology. Just as Doctor Who rides around in a time machine disguised as an antiquated police call box, other characters are emerging in popular fiction who use yesterday’s weapons to battle today or tomorrow’s antagonists. The genre is apparently called “Steampunk”.

Well, the men and women who walk between worlds in this story wield swords and battle-axes in a modern setting, so I suppose we can call Demons & Angels (Walking Between Worlds, Book I) Steampunk as well.

Whatever category you stick it in, my new book is the greatest and hardest challenge I have undertaken, and before selling the first copy I already consider it my greatest achievement. Enjoy “Chapter Four”, to follow; and look for the e-book and the print versions in December to read the remaining thirty-five chapters…

Thanks for reading!

[Need to start at the beginning? Chapter One, Chapter Two, and Chapter Three are still up for you to read, just click on the links. Enjoy! ~ Dawn]

Walking Between Worlds

Book I: Demons & Angels

by J. K. Norry

Chapter Four

With her left foot in the coffee shop and her right in the street, Jessica propped the door open behind her with one hand. The other held Kris’jacket, folded neatly to hang evenly from either side of her hand as she proffered it to him. Her smile was pretty and shy, and her bright blue eyes widened as she spoke.

“You forgot your. . .” Jessica took in the faces of the other three in a glance and must have sensed that she was intruding on a tense moment, “. . .jacket,” she finished quietly, looking back at Kris as he took it from her.

“Thanks, Jess.” Kris had his own shy smile for her; and after reclaiming the jacket, he stepped back two quick steps and then a third, slower. As he placed his right foot, toe to heel, his instep came down on the little brass bell that lay there on the sidewalk. He pitched backward suddenly and when he shifted his other foot it came down on the edge of the curb, throwing him even further off balance. The expression on his face was a combination of momentary panic riddled with embarrassment as he looked to Jessica. They all stepped forward to help, instinctively; Paul, Brenna and Matt all moving at the same time. All a moment too late.

Jessica began to start forward with the others, eyes on Kris as he tilted precariously backwards in a slow motion, unstoppable fall. Her gaze went through him suddenly then, eyes widening as they went out of focus while her mouth hinged open to scream. Then came the sound of an explosion, a rapid report that ripped through the morning chill with a suddenness and a loudness that turned all their heads to the sound. All but Kris, who was busy falling awkwardly backward into the street and into the path of the blue van hurtling cock-eyed toward him on a blown out front tire. Behind the windshield the driver sat slumped over the steering wheel, lifeless, as the vehicle canted toward the curb and the helplessly falling young man.

A shrill scream split the air, and Paul had a moment to wonder if the blown tire or Jessica’s scream had come first. He watched Kris windmill his arms as one foot held onto the edge of the curb, and Paul found himself thinking, absurdly, this isn’t happening. Then he watched his friend fall backwards into the street; and before Kris could land or take another step, the van caught him up in its grill and launched him bodily out in front of it.

A rag doll in jeans and tee shirt, Kris flew sideways through the air. Blood streaked the right side of his face, and his lower left leg stretched forward at an unnatural angle. His limp body turned slowly, almost gracefully, until the slow spin brought his head into the path of a street mailbox. Tall and wide and blue and bolted to the ground, the metal box let out a dull thud as it ended Kris’ macabre flight. But for that and a small smear of blood down its side, the unyielding blue box was unaffected by the encounter.

Then the van took it, metal meeting metal in a nasty shriek of sound that would leave them both changed forever. Its side struck the mailbox at the same odd angle it had caught Kris, the rear end swinging slowly with the impact to keep the objects locked together in a long screeching kiss as the front tires straddled Kris lying unmoving on the street in their passing. The blown tire made an unnatural rhythmic thumping sound as it rolled inches from his bloodied face. A hot exhaust pipe loomed suddenly, though his eyes were not open to see it, but his twisted leg was caught then by a rear tire. It spun him so he thumped first onto the street, around to strike the broad undercarriage of the vehicle, then again against the hard asphalt. His body was spit out behind the wild charge of the metallic beast to land unceremoniously in a twisted tangled bloody heap on the pavement.

Impossibly, he moaned.

Paul dashed into the street to help his friend. He knelt beside him,reaching out gingerly, afraid to touch him. Movement caught his vision peripherally, but it didn’t register. All that mattered was Kris, his friend, his best friend, his bloody battered broken best friend. Trying to find a pulse, trying to find wrist or neck without shifting or moving his body and possibly hurting him more, Paul was clenching his jaw and blinking back tears; but his hands were gentle as they flew over his friend’s inert huddled form.

It wasn’t until the second scream started that he realized the first had ended. This time it was Brenna who saw it coming first, and started screaming. There was a long unreal moment before Paul added it up in his mind, the movement from the corner of his eye and Brenna screaming. She was not screaming from grief or shock at what had just happened to Kris. Hers was a scream of anguish, the same as Jessica’s had been, seeing what was about to happen.

Paul looked up, suddenly acutely aware of his surroundings. Everything seemed to be happening so fast, too quickly to react, while at the same time the seconds felt like they were ticking by in exaggerated slow motion to his mind. When he looked up, his back was to his friends and he faced the street opposite the side they stood on. The last thing he saw before the car took him was the man in the strange leather ensemble, striding toward him brusquely and seeming to pay no mind to the oncoming
vehicle.

He had a thick book in one hand, bound in the same bolt of brown leather as the man himself, and his other hand was worrying at something that seemed affixed to the front cover. Finally, it came loose and he held it in his hand tight, closing his fist around it. One hand stuffed the leather bound book into a wide pocket on the side of his flowing duster. The other held out the object to Paul insistently as the man halted before him. Standing up and reaching out at the same time, Paul’s hand clasped the proffered object, round and flat and glinting gold. As his fingers closed around it, the front bumper of a forest green Chevy Malibu caught him by the shin and tossed him into the air. There came another forever moment then; and as he spun slowly in empty space he somehow saw everything happening all around him in that moment.

A strange bright orb of light formed around the man with the leather hat. His form blurred, then drowned in the light, which shrunk to a pinpoint and disappeared. A ripple started at the vanishing and spread outward rapidly like a wave, turning the air to a warped version of itself as it spread, like the air rippling above a scorching fire. It passed through Paul and he felt a calm come over him, the ridiculous feeling that everything was going to be okay.

Churning the air, the ripple of energy passed through Kris next, and his crumpled form seemed to shift in a relaxing sigh as it settled lower on the pavement.

Matt and Brenna were both advancing on Paul, in slow motion, and the curve of the ripple caught them both at the same time. They each seemed to wink out of existence for a split second as the wave passed through them, and when they winked back into existence they were no longer coming toward him. Matt was on his knees, kneeling with his hands in his lap as he stared slack-faced and unseeing at the pavement. Brenna stood rigid and still, no longer screaming. One hand covered the other and that hand clasped the gemstone at her throat. Though she looked right at him, Paul got the sense she wasn’t seeing him at all.

He saw the ripple take Jessica last. She was thrown back violently by it, and as he watched she bounced off the wall of the coffee shop and slid slowly to the sidewalk, unconscious.

The moment somehow lasted long enough for Paul to wonder if he was going crazy or just pleasantly hallucinating away his final seconds before his face flattened against the windshield in a spatter of blood. Suddenly forever ended with a dull squishing thud, and his world went black.

Dying to know what happens next? Preorder your ebook copy of Demons & Angels now at Amazon or Google Play, and read the rest of this exciting story on December 2nd! Paperback version coming December 16th.

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