Thursday, May 10, 2012

Black Diamond Jinn (A Hot SF/Fantasy Novella) Excerpt!

 Have sex, avert doom, save the world.

Black Diamond Jinn (A Hot SF/Fantasy Novella)
Copyright © 2012 by Mary Hughes

The Mayan Doom is real. Government witch Amaia Jones has the spreadsheet to prove it.

Amaia is a desk-bound research wizard, living uncomfortably in the shadow of her famous Venus-magic parents, when she discovers the world is ending. Tonight. But her bulldog of a boss not only refuses to believe her, he won’t give her the secret to calling the one force powerful enough to help—the jinn. Amaia turns to her mental guardian angel, Rafe, the darkly handsome presence who has comforted her since her parents died.

Rafe has a secret of his own. He’s a black diamond jinn, one of the deadliest and most powerful of his kind. He’s detected a ruthless enemy using blood sacrifice and stoking Y12 public panic in order to summon the nightmare gods. Rafe needs to get into the human realm to stop the Doom. But when Amaia finally calls him, she’s threatened by his scorching sensuality.

Amaia’s guardian angel is a stunning jinni and suddenly her job is way more complicated. Jinn are known for taking their pound of flesh in exchange for magical help, but the only flesh Rafe wants is hers, taut with delight. Venus magic is the very thing that drove a wedge between Amaia’s parents, but her alternatives are rapidly dwindling. With four hours to go on humanity’s darkest night, the only alternative to surrendering her flesh may be surrendering her life.

This title contains explicit sexual language and may not be suitable for all readers.

Note: The following excerpt includes strong language.

December 21, 2012
7:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time

“The Mayan Doom is real, Chief. I have proof!” I shoved the stack of papers under my boss’s nose, spreadsheet on top. Not because I’m a dick (just the opposite, in fact—unless you counted Mervyn’s opinion that my lady parts clanked when I walked) but because I was trying to save the world and Chief Wizard Arnie Wenkermann was as nearsighted as a myopic bull dog and twice as stubborn.

“Damn it, Jones!” The Chief jerked back. “Your job is to reassure the public, not fan the nonsense higher.”

His ex-drill sergeant bark nearly blew me away, but I stood firm. “It’s not nonsense. The world is ending tonight. Look.” I shook the papers.

My boss clamped his eyes shut. “Numbers mean nothing to me.”

“Fine.” I pulled out a page. “See the pretty graph?”

He cracked an eye at the plummeting black arrow, squinched it shut again. “That can’t be right. The adepts would’ve noticed it. The ones who bothered showing up for work, anyway.”

“Adepts?” I snorted. “Part-time school kids?”

“You’re barely out of school yourself.” He upped my snort with a Chiefly sneer. “Class of 2012.”

“I’ve had six months in the real world,” I said, stung. “And Mervyn…I mean Wizard Analyst Johnson will back me up. Chief, we’ve already gone beyond what a team of adepts can handle. Look at my numbers and you’ll see—”

“Wizard Jones.” The title was a slap. “It’s just numbers. You’re overreacting.”

“Really Chief, I’m not.” Didn’t he understand that, as a government witch, this was the part of the job that I knew cold? In case it was his myopia and not his stubbornness blinding him, I traced the line with a finger, starting at business-as-usual and plunging to screaming end-of-world oh-shit. “We’ll be past the help of full wizards in a couple of hours. Ground zero in four. We must attack this immediately.”

“Jones, I have enough shit to shovel in the final hours before Y12. I don’t need a newbie witch gone Chicken Little.”

I held my temper, barely. Thank you, mandatory unfunded anger management classes. “Fine. It’s almost too late to chart a neutralization spell anyway, much less set it up. So give me the secret.”

“Secret? What secret?” He slit both eyes, cutting-narrow. Yeah, he knew what secret but wouldn’t say it first. “What are you suggesting?”

No less than counter-doom, but the world was mere hours from getting fucked without a fondle and I was dying anyway. With the cancer eating my lungs and my life, I was down to months, so this was my last chance to make a real difference. No time to hold back. I took a long, shallow breath. “I want to call a jinni.”

“A jinni—! No way.” He went red, paper white, and back to red. “No fucking—”

“Chief Wenkermann, please. We can try other things first, but we have to be prepared to take extreme action. The end of the world—”

“No.” He grabbed my graph, ripped it in two and tossed it behind him. I guess he’d flunked his anger management. “The Mayan calendar is ending, not the world. Even a desk-bound research wizard like you should know better than to panic just because an arbitrary cycle is ending.”

The desk-bound comment pinched but I pushed it aside. “Arbitrary, except John Q. Public doesn’t think so. Something’s shoving mass gullibility darkside, stoking fear and paving the way for the ultimate destruction. The nightmare gods will be loose, Chief. It’ll be Armageddon.”

He popped at the A-word. “For fuck’s sake, Jones. No end-of-world scare has come true, not the 2011 rapture or Y2K or the Disasters of ’88 or Comet Kohoutek in ’73. Y12 is just more of same. The public loves its disaster drama but doesn’t know shit about karmic physics.”

“Hey, Y2K was a real problem that came out okay because smart, dedicated people—both wizards and not—worked years at it. This is a real problem too—and we have less than four hours before all hell breaks loose. I’m not saying a jinni would be my first choice, but we have to be prepared.” I straightened to my full five-two. Even desk jockeys were sometimes combatants in war. “Chief Wenkermann, as a Research Wizard for the National Center for Behavioral Physics, with all the rights that entails, I officially request the secret of calling the jinn.”

“Abso-fucking-lutely not, Jones.”

“Why not? I’ve met all the requirements. I filed a form S-1519J. I have clearance and as a full witch I’m more than capable—”

“I said no!” He speared a hand through the thin strands atop his shiny dome. “Do I need to spell it out? You’re a full witch, ten times as strong as adepts which makes you some hot shit, yeah. Except jinn are a thousand times as powerful, which makes them scary dangerous.”


“Shut up and listen. Not only are jinn damned dangerous, they don’t give away jack shit for free. To pay the karmic balance that jinni’ll take a pound of your flesh. The harder the task the more he’ll carve. End of the world?” He made a loud, rude sound. “End of your world, because you’ll be the one to die.”

Dying already, so that didn’t scare me. But I wanted to save everyone else the grief. I wedged my original spreadsheet under his nose. “Armageddon is coming, Chief. Humanity has exercised its free will and united behind a single idea—fear. We think the world will end so it will. The nightmare gods set free, the world plunged into chaos, terror darkening each and every human mind and soul.”

He snatched the spreadsheet and ripped it too. “For the last time, Jones, it won’t come to that. That’s what we’ve been working on, what you’re supposed to be working on—Project Y12 Serenity, remember? Which has been entirely successful, so your numbers are wrong. They must be wrong. For fuck’s sake, do you think I’d send the teams home if we were in danger?”

“Nobody’s chanting Serenity on seven?” My cheeks iced. We’d had round-the-clock Serenity chanting on the seventh floor since the first squeak of Doom. If Chants, Rites and Rituals had stopped production…no wonder the graph was plummeting.

“Listen up, Jones. The problem’s solved. Damned good thing too. The overtime was eating my budget alive. Which reminds me—it’s quarter to eight and you’re not salaried. Go home.”

“I can’t. Those numbers clearly show—”

“Shut it.”

“Just give me the secret—”

“No. And in case you have a problem with English, nein, non, nyet, fucking N-O!” He spun and stalked away.

“Oh, you’re no better than the Mayan kings,” I shouted, snatching up the torn halves of my proof. “Stupid knowledge hoarder.”

He spun at his office door, every inch the sergeant, so much that I expected him to bark “down and give me twenty”. He gave me the civilian equivalent. “Go home!” He slammed into his office hard enough to rattle the window.

“Wenkermann!” I balled up the ruined pages and tossed them into a recycling bucket ten feet away, hitting it dead center. “Don’t you dare shut me out. This is serious. The Mayan Doom—”

The door slapped open. “I said no. Since you have trouble with that word, let me use another one. Suspend. As in, if I hear another word about any Mayan Doom, you’re suspended.”

I stopped breathing. “You can’t—”

“You want me to use another word? Like fired?”

Air exploded from my lungs along with every Joule of body heat. “I don’t—”

“Then don’t. Listen to me, Jones. You are not, under any circumstances, to call a jinni. You are not to ask anyone for the secret. In fact if I even hear a whisper of you and jinn in the same sentence you are fired. Is that clear?”

“Yes.” All too.

He raised his voice to carry to the rest of the cubicle farm, where the handful of wizards too junior to escape the holiday ghost town were heads-down pretending to work. “Calling a jinni is fucking dangerous, people. I hear anybody in my office has tried, they’re fired. You—” he poked a stiff finger at me “—have too much time on your hands if you think anything is happening at midnight besides the Maya starting a new calendar.”

“And the Ball dropping,” I said automatically.

“What?” He bit the word off. “What the hell are you talking about?”

Should have kept my mouth shut. But having started I bulled on. “At midnight. You said nothing’s happening but a new Mayan calendar, but the Times Square Ball is dropping too. That’s why the public has glommed onto Midnight EST as The Time. Why it’s vital to nip this in the next four hours. Once midnight passes we’re safe but—”

“Rein it in, Jones! You are over-the-top catastrophizing. Obviously you need some real work to keep you busy. I’m assigning you to the karmic math project, effective immediately. One helper. And listen up—any work outside normal hours will not be paid.”

“Chief, no. Not FKME.” Should definitely have kept the old trap door shut.

Project FKME, full title Project to Facilitate Karmic Mathematics Education, was originally designed to help adults understand karmic math. It had turned into the mindless job of taking spreadsheets and kerchunking out stupidly simple graphs. Insert a UC after the F and you’ll get the picture of what we all thought of FKME. “I have way too much to do. You can’t—”

“Fight me on this, Jones, and I’ll take away the helper. Dismissed.” Bang.

***Check back next Thursday for another excerpt!

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