Other people just think they’re “haunted by the past.” In Vi’s case, it’s true.
Clairvoyant Viola Thorne wants to forget about her days of grifting and running errands for ghosts. The problem? Playing it safe is dull. So when a dead stranger begs for her help, Vi jumps at the chance to dust off her hustling skills. The unlikely companions are soon tangling with bandits, cheating at cards, and loving every minute.
Meet Mary from Phoebe Darqueling’s No Rest for the Wicked
Mary Baker’s real life truly began the moment she died.
Sure, she’d had forty-odd years on the planet first, but she’d spent them clawing out a living. After a string of attempts at various jobs, she finally settled on the world’s “oldest profession.” Mary was neither young nor beautiful when she became a lady of the night, but the scratch she made on her back was far better than what she got for back breaking labor scrubbing on her hands and knees.
Until one day when a John decided she didn’t deserve even her pennies. So Mary decided he didn’t need to breathe any longer. The trial garnered quite a few headlines – her hanging garnered even more.
Her angry, wrathful spirit dribbled from her body and pooled beneath the platform as she exhaled her last breath. The ghost was confused and disoriented, but immediately felt a pulse of power from a man in the crowd. Mary drifted through the assembled jeerers until she was in front him. He tipped his hat and said, “How would you like a job?”
Excerpt from No Rest for the Wicked by Phoebe Darqueling
The whir of the belt system covered any possible sound, and with her abilities repressed, Mary’s azure aura disappeared. Now neither could detect the other, or at least, that was what Vi hoped. Her limbs twitched with unspent adrenaline, urging her to take action. Instead, she pressed her back against a wall cloaked in shadows.
A mirthless snort, and the assassin’s voice rose up sickeningly sweet with condescension. “You’re going to hide from me here in the dark and the noise, is that it? I see you haven’t been listening to anything I’ve said.” She cackled, then a hissing whisper tickled Vi’s brain, coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. “I don’t need my eyes to see you any more than you need your ears to hear me. I will find you.”
The machines continued their whiny rumble, but a tense stillness descended between predator and prey. The energy inside of Vi clawed away at her resolve, begging to let it pinpoint the source of the danger, but she swallowed it down. It could be a bluff. The ghost had to have limits.
Mary’s voice eventually continued conversationally. “I meant what I said before. If you don’t come out and face me, soon, I’ll be forced to pay a visit to your home again. I don’t really believe you’d be stupid enough to go back there. But I would be remiss in my duty if I didn’t return to at least… ask around.”
Though Vi couldn’t detect the ghost distinctly, the air grew colder, signaling she’d started to cross the factory floor. The movement was slow, probing. Mary still didn’t know. Vi pressed her cheek against the wall, reveling in the distraction of the soft drag of her flesh against the brickwork.
“The old woman, a relation of yours by what I observed. Never seems to leave that house,” Mary said, her voice thick with mock concern. “Which is dangerous, considering how easily those big, old houses burn.”
Even as Vi pictured the manor in flames, the air grew a few degrees colder. The assassin gathered the stray energy in the room, seeking whatever quality she knew belonged to her target. The crackling ball in Vi’s gut grew denser and larger as she pushed away the image of the house engulfed in fire.
“That sweet young lady, she’s there, too.” The ghost taunted. “Not to mention that little boy who follows you like a lost puppy. You led me right to them, you know. And now, they’re the ones who are going to suffer.”
Her anger flared at the taunt, and Vi desperately tried to pull it back in again. The weight became a molten churning of power fed by her rage.
“Don’t you want to know what I did to your precious Peter? You’d have thought he already suffered enough at my hands, but you put him in my way again.”
Vi barely contained a gasp at the blistering pain that sliced through her. Though she needed to hide, there was no going back to the way things had been. The energy had grown too large to bury, and now it spilled over the edges and burned everywhere it touched.
Satisfied laughter bubbled up from below her as Mary picked up the trail alight with agony and guilt.
Find out what happens to Mary and Vi in No Rest for the Wicked, available now from Black Rose Writing.
- Amazon: http://bit.ly/ViolaThorne
- Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130645733
- Other: http://www.blackrosewriting.com/sci-fifantasy/norestforthewicked
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About the Author
Phoebe Darqueling is the pen name of a globe trotting vagabond who currently hangs her hat in Freiburg, Germany. In her “real life” she writes curriculum for a creativity competition for kids. She loves all things Steampunk and writes about her obsession on SteampunkJournal.org. You can find her short stories in the Chasing Magic and The Queen of Clocks and Other Steampunk Tales anthologies, and her contributions to the collaborative novels, Army of Brass and Esyld’s Awakening. Her first solo novels, Riftmaker and No Rest for the Wicked are available Spring 2019.