Friday, April 27, 2007
NEW TORTUGA - Recommended by ME :)
Jessica D. Russell
Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery
Ianna James's band is cursed. Several members have died in freak accidents. Returning to the lowtown area of New Tortuga, Ianna hopes to escape the curse put on her show but now she must reconcile her disasterous past, one she'd hoped to leave behind forever.
He was dead and it was my fault.
I stared at the charred stage floor torn between horror and numbness. I preferred the numbness. Occasionally shudders wracked my body and I'd clutch the woolen blanket tighter around my body. Questions were asked above my head and all I could think about was Jhon. My beautiful Jhon.
I sat alone in the middle of a room full of people. No one but the gossip columnists and holo newscasters paid any attention to me. A thousand voices called questions from behind the cordon, but I couldn't hear them past the roar in my ears. Jhon was dead.
They'd taken his body already. I needed to call his life partner but somehow my body wouldn't move. Fog filled my mind and I welcomed it. Another death. Tonight's headlines would say something about my tour's curse. Fatal accidents followed us. I blinked. Me. They followed me. I clenched the bridge of my nose and fought off the tears.
My gaze fixated on the spot where Jhon had died. Where I should have died. Would the smell of burned flesh ever leave me? Why did it have to be fire? It had been my choreography. I made the call to switch up the moves. My eyes burned with unshed tears and I knew I had to get out of here before I lost it in front of the universe.
The media sweep cameras were trying to hover over the cordon. I shivered. No telling how much of Jhon's death they'd caught on camera. It had been our greatest performance in over a year. Guilt gnawed at my stomach. Godless law, I had to get out of here. I shoved the blanket off my shoulders and looked for the easiest way out.
"Miss Ianna James?" A sharp-eyed detective in a standard issue green skin suit smiled at me. Almost any other time I would have appreciated the sight of a well-developed man, especially one that put all the right ridges and curves in that suit. I smiled a half-hearted smile. Yeah, what a helluva companion I'd be tonight.
"Yes, Detective?" I crossed my arms and planted my feet. He'd get a fight if he wanted one. I needed to get to my room and under the influence of a nice sedative.
I watched Mickey make his way toward me with the determination of a bulldog. Mickey, my hero and assistant, oh goddess I loved him. That man could make anyone sit up and beg. I smiled at the detective and relaxed my stance.
"Ianna, love, we have to go." Mickey swept me up into his arms like we'd been lovers forever, although we'd never made it past platonic.
I nuzzled his cheek and smiled. We played it very well. It kept the wolves and fortune hunters at bay. So far anyway. He set me down and gave me a tight hug.
The detective cleared his throat and I waited.
"More questions?" Mickey's smile fell. He kissed my forehead and sighed. "I'd wanted to get us to bed and away from all of this."
He pulled me close and slipped an arm around my shoulders. I closed my eyes and longed for my room like a drug. Another round of questions and I'd fall apart.
The detective cleared his throat.
"Ianna, he wants your autograph." Mickey's murmur shocked me to stillness.
I stared, incredulous. The bastard. Sure enough he held a pen and sheet of, oh how quaint, real honest to goodness Old Earth paper for me to sign. Images of a pen nib sticking out of his jugular flashed in my mind.
With shaking hands I jerked the utensils out of his grasp and scribbled a signature glaring my disgust. He had the decency to look uncomfortable.
I shoved them back at him and turned on my heel. Mickey fell in step with me blocking the waves of media and onlookers as we made our way through the cordon line. He held my arm and I slipped from his grasp.
“Miss Ianna, what’s this we hear about a curse?”
“How long until we hear the announcement of a wedding, Ianna?”
A voice rose above the questions pummeling her from all directions, "Wedding? How about an engagement first?" The crowd broke out in laughter.
Dear Sweet Mother of Earth, I needed a break from all this. Wedding. Curse. Gossipmongers and harridans, snakes and liars. My skin crawled and right now I hated them all. A tide of neediness flooded over me, threatening to suck me down into an overwhelmed state. Everyone wanted something. Even Mickey. I jerked my arm out of his hold again. For almost six months I'd considered a break. Maybe a vacation. The crowd shoved forward against the line and I felt the desperate need to escape. I ran.
Mickey bellowed after me but I couldn't hear anything over the roar of my heartbeat. Jhon was my friend. No, more than that. He was my family. His boyfriend was my family. Stage hands, fans, and now my own team were dying off one by one.
I shoved through the crowd of people, ignoring the hands touching me or trying to hold on to me. With a desperate cry I broke through and raced to my bike outside, thankful there were no hover bike restrictions on this planet.
With tears streaming down my cheeks I jumped onto the seat of my angel and gunned the engine. Her deep red paint reflected the lights in the alley. The dark scents of fuel and ozone filled my nostrils. I inhaled deeply, letting the familiar smells comfort me and wipe away the stink of death. I slipped on my ear piece and goggles. She settled to a purr and I was off, as high as the dome would let me.
I opened her up and let her fly. We ran the rim of the dome with reckless abandon. Gods above, I loved this bike. The wind ripped the tears from my cheeks leaving icy burns in their wake.
Nothing else flew in this dome. She brought me to the very top and I floated there, my sight drawn to the beautiful image of space. I took off my goggles and let go, let the horror and the pain tear its way through my soul. Only here did I let my tears fall unheeded. Sobs wracked my body and I pulled into myself, trying to remember, something, anything that could have stopped Jhon’s death. I wish I could remember every bit, but only flashes of stage set up were in my memory.
My mind went over the day in a loop. Every detail I could remember came in to a sharp focus. Everything had been normal, had felt normal. We ran through the show a hundred times. Everyone knew their positions. It had been practiced to perfection.
After the cameras had been set up for the show, Jhon had asked if he could switch positions in the finale. We'd worked together for so long we could switch positions without a problem. He wanted the flair of lights behind him for his string solo. I’d laughed. Dramatic had always been his flair. I should have stopped him. The pyrotechnics were too dangerous. Too many things could go wrong. Godless law, he’d been thrilled when I agreed.
When the last explosion rocked the stage, the crowd had surged to its feet, stomping and screaming. I knew. I knew something had gone wrong. Jhon was behind me and the horrifying smell of burned human flesh sent me to my knees. The smoke cleared and the screaming started.
http://www.aspenmountainpress .com/new-releases/monday-39-s -child/prod_55.html