Itching in the fingers
Scratched, but not sated
A warm nagging that becomes
The heat of a laptop
Needing cooling, but too late to stop
The light of a blue screen
The fire keeps us going
The passion keeps us growing
A promising premise
A character's backstory
A slow burn or a bonfire
It touches us where simple flames cannot
Inspiration flickers and wanes
But the embers never truly snuff
The fire keeps us going
The passion keeps us growing
5 o'clock. Park by my house.
The bully's getting his comeuppance.
Knuckles cracked. Military dad instilled
Karate in my blood since seven.
Gloomy day at the park with mist kissing abandoned slides.
One kid sits on the swing's creaking seat,
The only sound in the drear.
No crowds because who would care?
The new kids against Drake the introverted jerk wouldn't make the news.
Greasy hair. Mocking smile sent
Too many insults hurled my way.
Standing tall. Hands in pockets.
He has no idea who he's pissed off.
No words exchanged, only a glare from my end.
Drake's traditional smirk
Interrupted by a protruding tongue.
He licks his lips and I widen my stance.
We wait, cowboys in a damp western.
First move lunge. Controlled jab.
Drake doesn't move, punch right in the smirk.
Cracking chip. Spat tooth reveals
Missing canine, gap the bully's grin.
If it hurt Drake, he doesn't show it.
Even when I lose my cool and send
Jab after jab into ever-bloodying lips.
He just stares at me
And lets me tire myself out.
Eyes drop. Drake's missing tooth.
Sharper than a human's should have been.
Pointed end. Finger-long it
Predator teeth, like a wolf made man.
Drake wipes his lips,
Licking off the red.
I realized that none of the blood is his.
It's my knuckles that have reddened his mouth.
His eyes turn black and he takes a step toward me.
"You?" I stutter.
Drake nods, dark hair hanging like nooses.
"Vam-" I start.
A finger to my face, Drake shushes.
Drakes voice is lower than in class,
The insults now
A post-realized threat.
"Believe everything you read?"
His fang is back and sinks into my flesh.
Grayson Ames, PHD
Mythological bounty hunter. Professional Haunt Disposer. Percy Jackson meets Geralt of Rivia.
Grayson Ames is cursed. He hates everyone. Or, more accurately, every regular. He gets along with prodigium; supernatural creatures that mankind has resigned to the realm of folklore. Until the day his dead partner's daughter finds him.
The White Horseman
Piggy Banks & Leftovers
One man did not look at the fire.
Flames licked at the busted-out windows of the five-story apartment building and, despite the best effort of the Progress Fire Department, it collapsed in a rush of brick, smoke, and fire.
A crowd had gathered across the street. Some were recording the tragedy on their phones. Others stared in horror as their homes collapsed. A pair of children cried on the sidewalk, gripping at their parent’s legs. They were wearing matching Superman pajamas and couldn’t have been older than five. All eyes were on this flaming tragedy of human suffering.
Except for one man’s.
Grayson Ames wore a black coat with its hood over his head for two reasons. One was to keep off the rain that was coming in fast judging by the heavy clouds that made the late afternoon appear that much gloomier. The other, and frankly more important reason, was to prevent any prods from seeing him. The last thing he wanted was for a suspect to know he was nearby.
Something caught Grayson’s eye: a wisp of red that darted down a nearby alley. It was like a piece of red smoke had drifted off from the fire, but moved like it was alive. Slipping past the horrified bystanders, Grayson made his way into the side street, following the twitch in his shoulder that pulled him behind the blood-red trail.
It was an empty alley, which was good for him considering witnesses were always bad and hard to distract when prods were involved. Empty was good. Empty was simple. The problem was that it wasn’t completely empty. Something was pulling up a manhole cover. It was covered in shadow from the high-rise that blocked out the glow of the fire and the street lights. Long fingers gripped a few glittering objects that sparkled from the flames.
Grayson ran toward the prod. His footsteps slapped on the dirty pavement. The thing looked up once before it darted down into the sewers. Grayson had an idea of what he was chasing, but he hated diving headfirst into darkness with only a hunch. He cursed, kicked the heavy manhole cover away, and jumped down into the waters.
“Stop!” His voice echoed off the stone walls but the prod was making a run for it, its scaly toes clinging to the ceiling. “Don’t make me stop you.”
With a sigh, Grayson held out his hand, extended the arms of the crossbow mounted on his wrist, and fired. The bolt whizzed through the darkness and found its mark. Farther down the sewer there was a splash of water. He mounted a hardened bolt onto the bow and fingered a dragon eye in his pocket. He was pretty sure the little silver disk wouldn’t hurt the prod if his analysis was right. But he had been wrong before. This, however, was not one of those times.
“Opi…” Grayson knelt down and fished the ovinnik out of the water. “What the hell are you doing?”
“PHD!” Opi squeaked. “Opi no know it was you. Opi woulda stopped if I woulda knowed.”
Opi had a more feline face than most ovinniks that Grayson had encountered. They looked like tiny old men who showed off their ribs and potbellies. The thing that set them apart from regular senior citizens were the cat-like ears and eyes and the propensity to commit arson with a flick of their long fingers. Opi had thick, dark fur in patches on his body. The hair was soaking wet from his dip in the sewer.
“Oh, so you didn’t know it was me when you saw me aboveground and tried to hide down here?” Grayson put away the silver disk that was a dragon eye and took out a small stone dart. “Or when you heard me yell ‘Stop’? Come on, Opi. We’ve gone through this at least a dozen times. You knew it was me. I’m not buying this innocent act.”
“Wait, wait.” Opi tried to skitter away but Grayson held his entire chest in his palm. The ovinnik kicked and held up his hands in surrender. Grayson didn’t let go. “Opi just needed a fix, PHD. Just one eensy fire…”
“You burned down a whole building. Humans can’t put out fire that fast, especially one that big. There’s no nixies that go aboveground who can handle that type of blaze.”
Opi tried to make his eyes big and pitiful. “I no know…”
“Sure. Play dumb. You know a fire that size is more than what’s allotted for a standard ovinnik within city limits. I’m taking you in on this one. You know what they say about seventh strikes right?” He took a stone dart out of his jacket and stuck it in Opi’s fat leg.
“Hey!” Opi rubbed the embedded dart. “That hurt. You not taking Opi to office?” Opi looked around with narrowed eyes. He would make another break for it as soon as Grayson took his own eyes off of him.
“Fat chance. I’m taking you there personally. The tracker is just in case you have any friends that want to test their luck trying to break you out. Remember last time?” Grayson rubbed the dart, ensuring that the barbs stuck in Opi’s leg. “You’re going to get me a lot of money on this one. I’ve had my eye on some pink potion for a while. Hell, maybe even some silver…”
Something caught Grayson’s eye. It was one of the objects that Opi had dropped when Grayson had hit him with the crossbow bolt. He pulled a soaked piggy bank out of the disgusting water. “What’s this?” Grayson smashed it on the wall. Between the dollar bills and the change, it looked like fifty dollars came out.
Opi rubbed his grubby hands together. “A shiny.”
“Don’t give me that. You stole from kids after you burned down their house? Since when do ovinniks care about regular’s money?”
“We can split it,” Opi squeaked optimistically. Hope filled his slitted eyes as he saw a way out of his capture. “Human shiny still good, right? Buy you many potions. You let Opi go and I can give you all but two shiny. Deal? You take deal?”
Grayson pocketed the money, grinning. “This will be my finder’s fee since the bounty office will barely give me anything for bringing you in.”
“Office?!” Opi screeched. “You take Opi now? You can’t.”
“You should know how this works,” Grayson said. “You screw up, I take you in, I get paid. Now come quietly and I won’t stick the multi-cuffs on you.”
“Please.” Opi grabbed Grayson’s leg. “I need shiny.”
He kicked the ovinnik off, splashing him back into the sewer water. “Tell it to the crones. You’ve got a ten gc bounty right now, Opi. That’s the easiest job I’ve had all year.”
Sopping wet, fur clinging to his pudgy body, Opi looked to the side. His body was tense, like he was ready to run, but Grayson smelled fear on him. Something more was going on. “Please, PHD. One day. Opi need one day and I turn myself in. I give you all credit. Please.”
Grayson almost laughed but he had dealt with Opi enough times to know he was in more trouble than what the crones would dish out at the bounty office. “You want me to let you go so you can voluntarily turn yourself in? Do you think I’m stupid?”
Opi shook his head, eyes wide. “You help me one time and Opi go straight. No more fires in Progress. No more trouble. Please. Please, please.”
Grayson grabbed him by his furry neck scruff. “No chance, Opi. If you stop making trouble, I stop making money off of it. There’s not a single reason why I should trust you.”
Something flashed in Grayson’s head. An old memory of a middle-aged man saying that all prods deserved a chance, even the worst ones. Patrick… Grayson stopped walking but held Opi tight.
“I need help, PHD,” Opi whimpered. “Opi promise to turn self in.”
“Dammit.” Grayson threw Opi down. He tapped on the tracking dart he had stuck in his leg earlier. Back then it had been a precaution. Now it was a reminder of some stupid guilt.
“You take care of your business,” Grayson said. “Then you are going to turn yourself in to the bounty office and you better let them know I’m the one who caught you. Got it? I’m collecting your bounty.” He lifted Opi by his leg so that he hung upside down. With a final tap on the tracking dart, he said, “And don’t do anything stupid. I’ll find you.”
Relief flooded over Opi’s face. “Thousand thank-you’s, PHD. Can you give me shiny? Need shiny.”
Grayson pulled Opi closer so that they were nose to nose. “You’re lucky I don’t break your legs and make you crawl back to the Green Market. The money is mine.” He plopped Opi on the ground. “You’ve got twelve hours. After that, I rip out the tracking dart with my bare hands.”
Opi glared at him, his hope vanishing. “You bad, PHD.”
“Sure am.” He pushed Opi down toward South Street. “I’ll take out your tag once I find you at the bounty office. And you better be there by morning.”
“But Opi has much to do. Bounty office is…”
“The bounty office will give you some rehab or maybe a day or two in jail. I, on the other hand, will make sure you never light fires again if you don’t turn yourself in.” Grayson flashed his crossbow at him. “Promptly.”
Opi gave him one last shot of visual venom before he picked up the scraps he had scrounged from the burning building and scuttled off toward the market.
Grayson sat against the curved stone wall for a moment, feeling the sewer water squishing in his favorite shoes. Well, his favorite out of the two pairs he owned. He knew he shouldn’t have worn them today. He scooped up the change that had fallen out of the piggy bank. Two bucks, give or take. With the fifty bucks (now fifty-two) he had enough human money put away for rent this month. But he could have more right now if he just turned in Opi. Wondering why Patrick’s memory had caused this sudden bout of generosity, Grayson wringed out the bottom of his pants and made his way back to the surface.
Night had fallen in Progress. The majority of the apartment fire was put out, so there weren’t a lot of crowds to push through. The kids with the missing piggy bank had gone somewhere but Grayson didn’t care enough to go find them. Even with a burned-down house and no money, they already had a better childhood than him. Besides, they were regulars. How hard could their life really be?
Rain started to fall as the street lights came on. He walked down South Street and turned into his apartment just as the skies opened up. He missed most of the rain, so there was some good luck in that. It was too bad his stupid conscience had made him take this chance on Opi. He’d have to make sure that didn’t happen again. If only he could intimidate his stupid do-gooder-ness like an ovinnik, he’d be much more successful.
But something had been up with Opi. Grayson could read prods pretty well when they were at Opi’s intelligence level. He knew the little ovinnik hadn’t been lying. Well, it didn’t matter much. The tracker dart would keep Grayson informed on Opi’s whereabouts for a three-state radius. And if it got removed, he’d make sure Opi never lied to anyone again.
Once he climbed the six flights of stairs and made it into his apartment, he was almost certain that Opi would run. Cursing his own stupidity, he unlocked the two locks on his door, scoffed to himself, and sat down by his map. The moving blue dot showed that Opi was actually in the Green Market. Grayson grabbed the nearest bottle of brown, swirling liquid on the table by the door and watched for a while. The brown tasted sour and he wished he had something less expired instead.
When he realized that Opi wasn’t going anywhere soon, he threw his jacket on a pile of pizza boxes and other garbage he had been meaning to take out… a month ago. He chucked his wet pants in the corner to dry and found another pair that didn’t smell too much like mildew and sweat. At least his shirt was good. It was only the third day he had worn it.
The innards of his fridge were just as disappointing as his day. He pulled out some Chinese food that was starting to turn and thanked his strong stomach for being able to handle it. He sat on his cluttered couch and scarfed down the cold lo mein noodles, staring out at the rain that pelted his window. What a crappy day.
With a sudden urge to salvage the night, he reached for the mason jar under the couch. He threw in the piggy bank change and then counted. Smiling, he pulled out his phone and dialed the number labeled as “The Den.”
It rang once before a slimy voice said, “Hello? Johnson’s Tobacconist. How may I assist you?”
“I’m sorry, sir. May I ask who’s calling?”
“Cut the crap, Johnson. You know who it is.”
“Ah, Mr. Ames,” Johnson said, voice dripping in sarcasm and oil. “So good to hear from you again. It has been about a week since you last called. I was afraid something had happened to you.”
“Oh yeah. I’m sure. Hey send over Meridiana. I’ll be in the usual spot.”
“Very good, Mr. Ames.”
As soon as Grayson hung up the phone, there was a knock at his door. He sprang off of his couch, kicked aside the half-empty Chinese food container and brushed his hair to the side. “I didn’t expect you so soon,” he said loud enough to be heard through the door. “Johnson has really gotten his act together.”
Grayson opened the door. He stared at what was in front of him. “Uh. You’re not a succubus.”
Standing in the hall was a teenaged girl. Sopping wet from the rain, her hair hung in strands around her face and she was dripping on the carpet outside his door. She was undoubtedly human from what he could see and she had a large bookbag on her back that was filled to bursting.
“Are you Grayson Ames, PHD?” she said with a fierce look.
“Depends on who you are.” He leaned against the doorframe, gave his best smile, and brushed some of his stray locks behind his ear.
“My name is Edith Denton. I’ve come to ask you about my father, Patrick Denton. I need your help.”
Grayson slammed the door in her face.
Title- The White Horseman
Genre- YA Urban Fantasy/Mystery
Author- K. I. Frederick
Good fit- The Grayson Ames, PHD series is a five-book epic filled with encompassing mythologies, mind-bending twists, and character development that not only progresses through each book but has an overall arc that I've spent years crafting. It's sure to draw readers into the city of Progress and keep them guessing.
Hook- Percy Jackson meets The Witcher. What's a cursed bounty hunter to do when his long-dead partner's daughter shows up at his doorstep? Easy answer; Scare her away before the supernatural and mythical creatures hidden beneath the city streets eat her alive, steal her face, or unleash a plague that might leave the entire world as slobbering carnivores. Just another day in the life of Grayson Ames, PHD.
Synopsis- Grayson and his reluctantly-accepted partner, Edith Denton, embark on a mystery that starts with the face-changing Doppel Gang and ends with the mythical Dread Wolf Fenrir. Through a series of interconnected occurences, they find that a group of radicals have harvested Fenrir's genetics to bring about a plague that could transform the entire city into monsters. Grayson will need to learn to work with the first partner he has had in eight years, or he will lose everything he's built as a lone bounty hunter.
Target Audience- preteens/ teens. Lots of epic moments as well as introductions to different mythologies. Sarcastic and dry humor, a protagonist who knows what he's doing and is also pretty badass. 6th graders in my Gifted class can access the content, and they average around 10-11.
Bio- As an Air Force brat, Kyle moved around every two to three years for most of his life. Upon meeting his wife, he settled down and became a middle school teacher, a DJ, and a father. Kyle teaches Language Arts and the Gifted and Talented program, as well as hosts a Creative Writing Club to foster new writers. Whenever he isn't DJing on the weekends, he's spending time with his son and writing a plethora of fantasy books and series.
Education- Bachelors in Secondary English Education with a Minor in History.
Experience- Self-published author, fifteen books under my belt (4 self-published).
Personality/writing style- Quirky. Dry. Sarcastic. Childish at times. Thanks to influences like J. R. R. Tolkien, I often tend to over-explain things. My editors and I have been working on that for years, making my writing more concise, punchy, and enjoyable.
Hobbies- Writing (obviously), gaming, DJing, playing with my son, creating worlds and games, telling stories.