A Look Back: The Forgotten Part 5

With the coming publication of the final volume of the Sojourners Cycle, The Sojourner, on September 30, we’re revisiting how it all began with an excerpt from the first book in the series, The Forgotten:

Meredith is the first to move, releasing her grip on my arms and plucking the button from my neck. She returns it and the one she wore to her jacket pocket while I rub my throat, the cold gradually receding from my skin. I am giddy with relief at our apparent escape and have a thousand questions, but Meredith’s face is marked by a coiled sort of anger that warns me from asking any of them just now.

By the time we leave the apartment, nightfall approaches, the sun low in the sky and the shadows long. We slip out the back into a taxi Meredith has called. She sends the driver on a circuitous route, watching out the back window for the entire trip, with the same grim expression on her face. When she is satisfied we have not been followed, she directs him to an apartment building called the Ivanhoe, an older brick building in a neighborhood I think is near to my own. Each floor, I note as we ascend up the stairs to the fifth, has a slightly unpleasant odor in its hallway, all of them distinct from the others somehow.

The apartment that Meredith brings me to is cramped and narrow, filled with ornate antique furniture too large for its rooms, forcing us to navigate with care in order to move about the place. There are shelves heavy with books, some of them very old, and the air is dense with the smell of them. Everything here seems to run counter to the person I met this afternoon; it has none of Meredith’s care or precision.

Seeing the look on my face, Meredith says, “It’s a friend’s. Someone they couldn’t possibly know, so it should take them awhile to find us again.” Continue reading

A Look Back: The Forgotten Part 4

With the coming publication of the final volume of the Sojourners Cycle, The Sojourner, on September 30, we’re revisiting how it all began with an excerpt from the first book in the series, The Forgotten:

Meredith drags me along as she runs, pulling my arm so violently I fear my shoulder might fly from its socket. Behind us I hear a cry in a strange accent, a word I think I know, though I cannot place it. I whisper it to myself as I try to keep up to Meredith and she glares at me furiously, yanking even harder on my arm. The sounds of pursuit grow nearer as we duck around a corner and into a broad alley, weaving around trash dumpsters. One of the pursuers—the man with the goggles, I am certain—utters a command that I cannot make out, and somehow I know they are splitting up to cut off our avenues of escape.

I begin to say something, but Meredith silences me with a glance. Directly in our path are two cooks in stained white jackets outside taking a smoke break, and Meredith heads for them with me in tow. They glance up in surprise at our rapid approach, their astonishment soon replaced by fear as they see the man behind us in pursuit. Their conversation silenced, they watch us, open-mouthed and frozen in place, as Meredith blows past them, carrying me with her. She throws open the door leading into the kitchen, with such violence it almost rebounds off the wall to hit us, and we plunge within before either cook has time to recover and do anything.

Inside we are met by a shout of anger from another cook and a stunned shriek from the waitress we bowl over as we dodge through the galleys. By the time I notice the scalding heat from the ovens hitting my face, we are already out of kitchen, emerging to find ourselves near a bar. A couple, with their arms slung over each other as they lean against the counter, glances up at our sudden entrance. Again I note the long delay before the surprise registers on their faces. Is time moving slower for me, each instant fuller than the last? Continue reading

Now Available For Pre-Order: The Debt

THE DEBT

HISTORICAL FANTASY

CLINT WESTGARD

1886: Inspector Archibald Constant Cumberland of the Northwest Mounted Police establishes Fort McGregor at the confluence of two rivers in the heart of the Canadian Northwest Territories. His mission is simple: keep the peace with the Cree Nation and fend off whiskey traders.

But life at Fort McGregor is rarely simple. An Indian agent conspires with whiskey traders to upset the delicate peace Cumberland has established, while his own men prove themselves untrustworthy. When they begin talking about seeing a ghost from the ramparts of the fort, he refuses to believe them, until it is too late.

1997: Daniel Archibald Cumberland is adrift and purposeless, with neither a past or future to cling to. That is until he comes across a story of a lost NWMP fort and the mad officer responsible for its terrible fate. An officer named Archibald Cumberland, who may be his ancestor.

Discovering the truth of what happened in that fort in 1886 consumes Daniel. His father denies any connection to Archibald Cumberland, but he is hiding a terrible secret. Even he doesn’t know what Daniel will discover when he goes in search of answers.

For there is a debt, long agreed to. And someone, or something, will see that it is paid.

Pre-Order Now

A Look Back: The Forgotten Part 3

With the coming publication of the final volume of the Sojourners Cycle, The Sojourner, on September 30, we’re revisiting how it all began with an excerpt from the first book in the series, The Forgotten:

The Cafe Beano is a coffee shop on the corner of a busy avenue not far from the apartment building, a place I am convinced I have been before, though no memory comes to me. Yet I know where it is and can picture its cluttered interior, with tables and chairs strewn about seemingly at random, can smell the bitter coffee and hear the chatter of the menagerie of people gathered within its walls.

It is the specificity of these memories that seems the strangest of all to me. Why can I recall with exacting detail everything about the Beano, but not remember having been there or anywhere else in this city, wherever it is? It’s as if someone planted the memory whole within me, but left aside all the context, all the things that make a memory personal. This recollection could be anyone’s, just as I could be anyone, and that is what bothers me most of all.

Meredith might be able to help there, I reason, as I walk back through the park to the coffee shop. All those things that seemed so significant earlier—the couple talking, the movement of the light through the tree branches, the damp smell of the earth—I note now in a glancing way, giving them no real thought, my mind on how to proceed with Meredith. Did I reveal to her that I have no memory of who I am? Can I trust her with this information? Best to wait until I better understand what she wants and go from there, I decide. Continue reading

A Look Back: The Forgotten Part 2

With the coming publication of the final volume of the Sojourners Cycle, The Sojourner, on September 30, we’re revisiting how it all began with an excerpt from the first book in the series, The Forgotten:

I crawl from the bathroom, choking back sobs, my whole body shaking with fear and revulsion. I want to peel off this skin, cut off my nose and lips, all of my face. Perhaps beneath it all is the person I am, not this simulacrum. But who is that exactly? I have no sense, no idea of where to even begin. My mind is blank, my thoughts as unfamiliar as the face that stares back at me, though they tantalize at moments, almost seeming to be my own. My instincts have returned me to this place, it is all here somewhere within me. But for now I remain a foreign country to myself.

When I have recovered from my shock enough to get to my feet, I go to the kitchen to see if there is anything to drink. I fumble through the cupboards haphazardly, my search of the apartment only moments before already forgotten, and come across a bottle of rye and some packets of chai tea. I opt for the tea, not trusting my stomach with the alcohol, though the thought of oblivion is tempting. I find the kettle and fill it with water and plug it in, spending a few anxious moments waiting for it to come to a boil.

A phone begins to ring as I wait for the tea to finish steeping. I locate it in the bedroom atop a dresser amidst a scattering of detritus: loose change, receipts, and sunglasses, all stray pieces of a lost life. Looking at the display I see a name and a number and, while I try to call forth from my memory any details about the Meredith whose name appears there, the call goes to voicemail. The name does not seem familiar to me, but the number is a local one. How I know that I cannot say, but a quick search of the cell for its number shows the same area code. It seems likely that my instincts are correct again. Continue reading