I spent the weekend making words happen. I didn’t get as far as I had hoped, but I made progress. I promised I would share an excerpt from the book I’m working on. This piece comes from the second chapter, and serves as an introduction to our second main character, Alaric Lambrecht.
“I think recent events illustrate my point well enough,” Councilwoman Bethany Flanders said.
“Are you suggesting that we should be racist and xenophobic?” Anson Lambrecht asked the councilwoman. Alaric touched his father’s shoulder in warning.
“Is it racist to defend yourself against murderers?” the councilwoman argued. She bristled and put both hands on the table in front of her. “My husband and several other state assemblymen are drafting a bill that would require all Shades to register so that they can be monitored. All I am suggesting is that we consider a local ordinance to protect our children.”
“This is not going well.” Alaric thought to his father over their psychic connection.
“Steady,” his father replied, his thought warm and familiar.
“While I recognize that your concern is for the children, I fail to see how the proposed ordinance would do anything more than turn our citizens against one another.”
Alaric looked up at the speaker, caught a little off guard. Townsend Marley was not usually the voice of reason.
Next to Councilwoman Flanders, a slight man with almost delicate hands cleared his throat and stood. “I believe the point to be made here is that people who are different, who can kill us without a weapon, should be segregated, for the protection of our citizens. I would take it a step further, and include any person with extra-human ability.”
Alaric sat back in his chair, his eyes on the newest member of the city council. He was a local minister, the kind that had always made him nervous.
“What exactly do you mean by extra-human, Roth?” Anson asked, crossing his arms.
Alaric did not like the way Roth looked at his father then. “I’m sure you are aware, Councilman, that the Bible counsels us to expel evil. Even now, in this age, there are those among us who receive nefarious powers from the devil and use them to ensnare the godly.”
His father actually snorted. “You can’t be serious, Reverend. This is a city council, not a church meeting. You’ve been warned before to leave your religion at the door.”
“Three months ago you would have argued that there was no such thing as a Shade, Councilman.” Roth said, an eyebrow lifting. “And yet, here we have found that they do exist and that they are evil. If such an evil being, with powers beyond our own, is real, how can we deny that there are also Witches and other beings that can bring about our destruction?”
“So…what?” Anson asked. “You want to outlaw psychics and herbalists now?”
The corner of Roth’s mouth lifted into a sort of half smile. “It would be a start.” There was a smugness about him, a sense that he was pleased with Alaric’s father’s objection.
Anson shook his head. Alaric looked around the council chambers, mentally trying to tally those who would support the ordinance currently under discussion, which would limit the locations where a Shade could legally live. He scanned the surface of the minds he could, coming back with a nearly fifty-fifty split with at least one member of the council still very undecided.
He glanced at the clock. There wouldn’t be a vote now. The session was nearly over. “I suggest we table this discussion until everyone has had a chance to review the ramifications and legality of what it is proposing.” Councilman Marley said.
Alaric’s father nodded. “Seconded.”
Harold Mackey, the recording secretary held up a hand. “All in favor?”
A chorus of “Ayes” shuffled around the room. “So moved. The allotted time for this session is at an end. Do I have a motion to adjourn?”
Several people raised a hand. “Moved and seconded. All in favor?”
No one waited for him to say approved. As one, they all began standing, turning to aides and heading for the door. Alaric’s father put a hand on his arm, drawing him to the exit. He put his copy of the proposal in Alaric’s hands as they headed for his office. “Get me numbers.”
Alaric nodded, holding the door for his father. “Should I tell Mom you’re going to be late?”
Anson smiled and nodded. “She knows.”
An aide for one of the other councilmen came running toward them. “Turn on the news, right now.”
Alaric darted around his father and turned on the television in his office. The screen came to life, instantly filling with flames as a voice tried to relay what was happening. “We are in downtown Sacramento right now, where a fire is blazing after witnesses say that five men claiming to be the 8th Battalion beat a man and dragged him into this building, where they reportedly set the man on fire.”
Alaric sank into the chair, his stomach tightening as his father moved to stand beside him. He could feel the comfort his father was sending his way, but underneath it he could feel his father’s own fear.
“We have received footage that is supposedly from the 8th Battalion, a militia group that has taken credit for several attacks across the US. I warn you that this footage is graphic.”
The burning building faded and in its place was shaky footage of four men in navy blue from head to toe, ski masks obscuring their faces as they dragged a bloody black man to a column in a dark building where they stood him up and tied him. “We are the 8th Battalion. We are the mighty right hand of God. This is justice.” Two of the men doused the man with liquid from gas cans, trailing a puddle away from him. A third man lit the puddle as they all jumped back.
Screams filled the air as the fire raced up the man’s body. Alaric looked away from the screen as his hand found the button to turn the screen off.