We’re back from our travels, and back to the Tuesday Teaser posts, getting you all in the mood for the release of fantasy novella, Repeat Offence. I’ve been sharing from this story for a little while now. If you’d like to catch up:
- meet Taz and Hiro
- find out about the cover and the story’s background
- watch Taz waking after being sentenced
- listen to Taz contemplating death on a pyre
- find out what happens when fate throws a spanner
And after all that, on with this week’s Tuesday Teaser.
My next release day is getting closer, and am slowly starting to get the jitters. That happens however many times I’ve gone over the book, however long I’ve fiddled and edited and made changes. But these days, I’m becoming used to the feeling, and I don’t wind myself up endlessly, second-guessing everything from the blurb to the cover to the names of the characters. Instead I’m trying to focus on what made me write the book in the first place, on the parts of the story I found particularly exciting.
The concept of Repeat Offence was one that latched onto my mind like one of those little dogs people carry around and that everyone underestimates, latches onto ones ankles.
In the first instance, the idea that every human is watched over by a Guardian seemed a little bit twee. So it wasn’t until I considered that arrangement in more detail, that the Judges entered the picture. The Judges are the power behind the story. They’re the ones who arbitrarily make decisions over Taz and Hiro’s lives. And I knew right from the beginning that their decision had to be flawed. What I didn’t know right until the end was how that conflict would be resolved.
Because the Guardians in my story aren’t angelic beings. They aren’t pure and flawless entities that have assumed the task to watch over humans. They are not just as flawed as the humans they watch over, they are, in fact, the humans they watch over. Both Taz and Hiro take turns living as human and Guardian. And that fate is part of their punishment.
Living as a Guardian means having to exist in total darkness, in a space that is neither hot nor cold, where there are no scents and no tactile stimulation of any kind. There’s no furniture. There is no food. There is nothing that any normal person would expect from their surroundings. There are no sounds and there is no company.
All a Guardian can do is close their eyes and watch the other half of their pairing live in the human world. And yes, Guardians are powerful. They can manipulate air and light and heat. They can neutralise poisons. They can combat the signs of aging. But as powerful as they are, they’re also shackled, human, and vulnerable.
It was this mix of human and powerful that intrigued me so much. That, and the fact, that eternal life is a punishment. So, for today’s Tuesday Teaser, we have Taz’s thoughts about the Guardians…
From Repeat Offence
I was falling now—no longer diving—skin on fire and air burning my lungs. Maintaining form was a struggle, a battle fought between heartbeats, but I kept aiming at the centre of the inferno. At the place where Hiro would be.
Had I ever had faith? I couldn’t remember, and it mattered little. Hiro had grabbed his protective garb on his dash and had thrown it over the heating nexus. I hoped that it would shield him from the blast long enough for me to reach him.
The light dimmed a fraction, and the sunstorm-hot air cooled against my skin.
What—? How—? My body absorbed heat and radiation as I passed through the inferno, but the change I sensed had its origin ahead of me.
Panic sped my breath. Had Hiro—? Was he—? I didn’t dare finish the thought. Didn’t dare contemplate failing again. The air cooled more, to a white-hot burn rather than the relentless blue, and a new source of light bloomed in front of me. One that offered warmth and comfort instead of fiery heat and bone-shredding radiation.
I slowed my descent and opened my eyes.
Guardians aren’t meant to be beautiful. Between our human lives we languish in eternal darkness, our eyes closed, our wings useless. We’re part-powerful, part-shackled, neither seen nor revered. And as we descend to take our place in the human world, we die in fire and agony to be reborn, mortal and vulnerable.
As a human, Hiro delighted my eyes. In his Guardian form, he was beautiful, and awe-inspiring, and terrifying. He glowed with fervour. His perfectly chiselled body towered over the nexus, his wings containing the blast. He’d put himself into the path of the explosions, shielding both the humans and the city from their effect.