Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book Excerpt: The Beast Without by Christian Baines

The Beast Without
by Christian Baines

[We are very pleased to be offering another book excerpt from a work by a Canadian theatre writer, in this case, our Toronto Associate Editor, Christian Baines]

Set against the dark backdrop of Sydney’s supernatural underworld, The Beast Without is the story of Reylan, a secure and successful vampire, and Jorgas, the murderous young werewolf who crosses his path. Initially determined to track down the beast, Reylan soon finds there’s more to this werewolf than a body count and a bad attitude. And what evolves between them may be far more dangerous than some rival predator in the dark...

I checked every side street on the way home, determined to find some lost soul either coming off a night on the booze, or with no place to go, looking for someone to take away the pain. Soon enough, I realized that I was being stalked. Faint, awkward footsteps, failing dismally in their attempt to remain silent. That at least ruled out the Cloak Walker, who’d never have been so careless. I slowed a little to inspect the streets around me, but it was mainly for show. The footsteps were clearly behind me, and they’d gotten louder. Then came the subtle, familiar odour of that greasy hair. I couldn’t believe it.
Jorgas screeched as I rounded on him and pinned his human body against the wall. His clothes were fresher this time and he smelled marginally better, but there was no hiding that obnoxious sneer.

“Problem, bloodsucker?” he hissed at me, trying with futility to push my hand away from his neck. Strong as he was, without his wolf form, his strength was only human, and that, I could handle. 
I shoved him back harder against the wall, just to drive the point home. “You’ve got a lot of nerve, trying to hunt me. Do you know that?” This was my opportunity. I didn’t care how he tasted, or how I’d feel the next night. I was going to enjoy this.
Again, Jorgas screamed, a long, deep cry of powerlessness and ecstasy as I pushed my body against him and buried my face in his neck, opening those two little holes and drawing deeply. His low, angry moans faded as the blood began to flow faster. 
He tasted… good. 
In human form, his blood tasted fine – better than fine. It was somehow stronger, sharper and more potent. I recognized the vague hint of cheap scotch drunk hours earlier, and the smoky strain of even cheaper cigarettes that he’d been smoking. I found myself utterly intoxicated, despite his monstrosity as the blood surged through me. I gripped his writhing young body tighter, sucking the tender flesh surrounding his wound clean as I siphoned his blood.
This would end now, if I had to drain the murderous bastard dry and dump his shrivelled corpse with Rory’s.
He grabbed at my shoulders and tried to pull me off his neck, but quickly surrendered to my thirst as the erotic thrill surged through him. The thin jacket slid off his shoulders, revealing part of the tiger tattoo, its head and claws hidden only by the stained white singlet that clung to his body. I could feel the jewellery on his chest press against me as he pulled closer, nuzzling my throat as eagerly as I did his. 
Then, he seized the scruff of my neck and broke my hold. 
Blood spurted from his wound as I cried out in shock. But he didn’t hit me. He just let go of my hair and stared into my eyes, the base of his neck, bloody and bruised from the battle between my hunger and his flesh. I licked a spot of blood from my lips, watching him as my breath slowly returned. In that moment, I almost forgot who he was. Before me was an athletic, even handsome young man. A faint red glow tinted his dark eyes, catching the reflection of the blood across his shoulder that now marked him as mine. I owned his body. I owned his blood.
Before I could move, he grabbed my collar, pulled me close and kissed me. His tongue pushed through my jaws, lapping the blood – his own blood – from my lips as he held me fast. The wounds in his neck spurted blood over us both as he kept on kissing, the sensual warmth of sweat, breath and blood filling the air as I pulled him closer still. It wasn’t until I’d pushed deep into his kiss that I realized what I was doing. 
I felt sick.
I quickly pulled away as he tried to grab me. His mouth was wet with blood and he stared at me, eyes full of wonder, perhaps fear – or raw hatred. I couldn’t tell which. 
I felt the sting of incipient claws as he hit me across the face. He’d begun to change.
He bounded up the street, his speed already enhanced, as the first fibres of the monster took hold. Still stunned, I struggled to keep up, managing to keep him just in sight as he rounded back streets he’d obviously worked many times before. I couldn’t let him go, with my body so weakened. If he came back for me, the fight would be over before it began. 
My exhausted legs screamed for blood as I lurched clumsily after my slowly changing prey. A cat hissed as I leaped over it, careful not to send it flying with a misplaced foot. Even like this, I couldn’t bear the thought of feeding from animals. Besides, any delay could be just the chance Jorgas needed to escape. He had to die and it had to happen before he changed again. I’d make sure of it. I followed him around one more turn and saw the wall ahead – a dead end. 
Or so I thought.
With a single, mighty leap, Jorgas grabbed hold of a fire escape ladder that was a clear eight feet above his head. Then another, across to the scaffolding of an adjacent building, then from wall to wall until he grabbed the lip of the rooftop and disappeared over with a canine snarl.

The Beast Without is now available via Amazon or at Glad Day Bookshop, 598 Yonge Street, Toronto. Christian will be reading from the novel at Glad Day’s ‘Dirty Sexy Queer’ Pride week event, Sunday June 30 at 7pm.

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