Well, here’s an excerpt. It’s more of an introduction, I wrote it just to get certain concepts in my head and get the plot- and character-creation process going.
“Jesus loves the little children,
all the little children of the world…”
You’ve never heard sarcasm - or shame or bitterness or grief - until you’ve heard one of the kids at the Abbey of Saint Cenodoxus sing that song.
“Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in his sight…”
That’s right. You don’t hear about green, or gray, or furred, or scaled… Seems Jesus (Jerry Jay says “Jeebus” - pretty extreme, considering how many church-tent revivals he was the star performer at, until folks figured out what he was) kind of forgot about kids like us.
Or maybe it’s just the rest of the world that forgot us. Or threw rocks and tried to set us on fire (when I find the sunovabitch that tried to burn off one of Kait’s tails, he’ll wish he’d killed himself at birth, if not sooner).
Did you know that cait sidhe and bakeneko are the same thing? I didn’t. I do now.
After all, somebody made Cenodoxus the patron saint of monsters like us. And there’s still enough priests, nuns and monks, among others, who remember what that means - even though most of them are old enough to have been character witnesses at Golgotha, and most of them have more screws loose than a twenty-year old Dodge, it seems.
Well, the people who threw Joey out of a car, in broad daylight, in front of the Abbey’s gates, they remember, I guess. If I ever track them down, I’ll make sure they remember for a long, long time. I almost didn’t open the gate before going through it, to scoop up the little six-year old vampire who already looked like he’d been slam-dunked into a barbecue grill. And that was with a banshee giving me enough warning to get to the gates in time. That vision and warning knocked Líadan out for three days.
It took almost twelve pints of our blood to heal the burns, not to mention the injuries he’d had before getting tossed out into the sunlight. And that might not sound so bad, but there were only a couple of us who he could safely take blood from (we have a crystal statue of a vampire down in the crypt, to remind us of the dangers). Jerry Jay’s siren blood knocked him right out, and mine must have been pretty potent; I freaked when I heard his bones break, but Anika explained that they had started to heal wrong. The bones had to break to align properly. I’m just glad he slept through it.
Me, I was a little loopy for a few days after that. Dejan had to keep leading me away from different obstacles, such as cows, an old combine, the south tower, and the water cloister.
Most of us were brought here by some old nun or priest. Father Barnabas drove me in himself, and spent the entire four-hour trip shoving as much as he could into my thick skull. He’d even given me The Talk, since there was no way my dad was going to.
Half the religious folks that came charging in to clean up the mess my mom and dad had made (Udrak-eruu made most of the mess, actually; seems Elder Things don’t have much in the way of table manners, go figure) had been ready to make me pay for my parents’ sins. Father Barnabus didn’t trust many people to do the right thing by me, and certainly not while he wasn’t around.
Well, he might have let Sister Margaret or Brother Phillip, but neither of them had as much knowledge as him, and getting The Talk from Sister Margaret would have been too embarrassing for words - worse than being naked as she was picking the locks on the shackles my folks had put on me as a prelude to sacrificing me.
He’d even waited out at the Abbey’s cobblestone parking lot, while I met the others. He’d told me, “If you don’t want to stay here, just say so, and I will find someplace else, Drew.”
He meant it. He never lied to me, or treated me like less-than-human. He wasn’t afraid of me, either. Where most people saw a seven-foot tall, hulking thing with tusks and grayish skin, he only saw a scared, ten-year old kid who was still getting over the realization that his parents had tried to sacrifice him to one of the oldest, most horrifying, most obscene piece of the Chaos, that had existed long before the world or people, or even McDonald’s for that matter.
Others had it worse. The old nun who’d brought Anika had made her ride in the trunk for the whole ride. I mean, what was she afraid of? That a seven-year old succubus was going to turn her lesbian?
Lupe arrived in a cage. That one really pissed me off. She wouldn’t change back to her human form in front of us, either, until Anika brought her something to wear.
None of us had it easy. Even those of us that had a bloodline, a family heritage, to explain things.
Jerry Jay’s grandmother had known what he was, but figured that being the Darling Boy of The Gospel Music Circuit would protect him.
Boy, was she pissed when she found out different. Jerry Jay says she put six Holy Rollers and four county deputies in the hospital, and she’s almost all human, no knacks or quirks to help her out.
She brought him here herself, and I feel sorry for anyone else out on the roads at the time. She also brought along half a ton of used clothes, blankets, and canned goods. She was ready to inspect every square inch of the Abbey before letting Jerry Jay out of the car, at least until she saw how big it is. We’ve got ‘quite a spread’, Jerry Jay says.
The Abbey is almost self-sufficient, or at least as much as one staffed solely by kids and teenagers could be.
Sometimes somebody drops off a basket, box, or barrel of food, clothes or other necessities. We rarely see them. That’s probably a good thing; if we don’t see them, they don’t see us. None of us have any desire to see torches and pitchforks, thank you very much. Quite a few of us have seen enough of that already.
Besides, most of us rest up during the day and stay up all night. You wouldn’t want Joey, or Beo, to be up all night by themselves, would you?
Besides, night-time is the only time most of us dare to go outside to play. And if the spriggan, or Cain or Tony, didn’t get a chance to burn off some of that energy, we’d all be ready to kill something pretty damn quick.
Besides, Greta is up all day. The less we have to deal with her carping on how we’re supposed to act, the better. According to her, we’re all supposed to be stereotypical representatives of our races. She even thinks I should be eating human flesh, even though it’s been proven that ogres aren’t really like that.
Did you know that valkyries are so militantly conformist they make Mormons look like radical anarchists? I didn’t. I do now.
Speaking of which, Beo’s up on the roof again, frozen with fear, after she badgered him for a few hours. With both ogre and troll blood, I have enough problems trying to keep a hold of my temper, I don’t need Greta lecturing the poor kid about how gargoyles are supposed to be guardians and all that crap. The poor kid is afraid of heights and the dark (the list of things he’s afraid of is pretty long; it’s probably longer than the things he isn’t afraid of).
You’d wonder how a fourteen-year old kid wound up being the leader of all these fairy-tale leftovers. Well, there’s only one person more qualified to be in charge, and Anika says she has enough problems keeping the other boys at arm’s length. If I had to choose between being of ogre-troll blood, or being an eleven-year old succubus, I’d stick with what I have, so I see her point.
And I don’t think of myself as being in charge. Usually, everybody can take care of themselves, or ask for help when they need it. And I won’t say that the Abbey can run itself, but the number of times we’ve woken up to find something fixed, or something done that we didn’t know we needed to do, is almost scary. That is, if we weren’t all monsters anyway.
And when that happens, one of us will wake up with a book on how to do it, and why, or whatever, on our chest or close at hand. The monks may have all died out years ago (the cemetery is kind of peaceful, sometimes), but I suspect some of them stuck around anyway.
Mostly, a few of us try to make sure that hurt feelings are taken care of, troublemakers are kept away from the most sensitive, and try to figure out what needs to be done next.
So, that should be enough to tickle your curiosity.