Vessel, Book I: The Advent, p.1Tominda Adkins
Published by Year of the Tiger Press
2nd edition, March 2014
Copyright 2011 Tominda Adkins. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher. This ebook is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination. All trademarks are used without permission in accordance with United States fair use and copyright laws. Characters and concepts are the property of the author. Published in the United States by Year of the Tiger Press, Seattle, WA.
Visit vesselbooks.com for more information and signed print copies.
Other books by Tominda Adkins:
Vessel, Book II: The Exodus
Drink Like A God: A Vessel Recipe Book (free e-book)
Vessel, Book III: The Deliverance, coming winter 2015
A D V E N T
Ghi cannot breathe.
It is his primary concern. He’s been in a state like this before, or so he's been told. But this time around, he's thinking that his luck won’t be so good.
Ghi is splayed out on the frozen concrete floor of a warehouse basement, not far from a flooding elevator shaft. Water pounds down from the level above, and fire roars in the stairwell. There is blood between his teeth. He is asking his limbs to move, but they are asking him for oxygen first.
And he can’t give it. He can’t pull any air in. It is wet and sticky where the air is supposed to be. The blood is gliding up his throat and filling his nostrils. He can feel it sloshing in his lungs, in all kinds of places it doesn't belong. There are broken ribs in there, he realizes. A bunch of them in a row, snapped clean and folded in neatly, like the frame of a parasail or the legs of a drawn-up, dead spider.
The Hollow moves closer and kicks him sharply in that spot, laughing into echoes. Ghi sees stars. He doesn’t see his life flash by, and that’s a real shame. He tries to validate the situation, tunneling back to the accessible parts of life. Thinks about how less than a month ago, his only duties were dry cleaning and bill paying. Water the plants. Doctor visits. Those kinds of things.
He wants to understand. He wants to jump back thousands of years to the unseen corner of creation where this supposedly all started, to make a connection, but he can't. It’s all been so quick. So nonsensical. He doesn’t know how he and the others ended up here. He can't make it fit.
Why us? is all he comes up with.
Ghi is supposed to be a hero. He is supposed to have something smart-ass or moving to say, or some ironic reflection on his mind as he dies. But let's face it: if he could breathe right now he would be screaming and begging for mercy.
P A R T I
C H A P T E R 1
My name is Jordan Murphy, and I'm the fastest one-armed bartender in the world.
Or I used to be. These days, you won't catch me behind a bar. And the bar I used to work in, you couldn't find it if you tried. It wasn't on some busy street, with bold strangers stumbling in every night or polite regulars eventually working up the courage to ask what had happened to me. You couldn't slip in from a downpour, or run in with your wedding dress on and mascara-black tears in your eyes, sit down, and expect to hear how I lost my arm, like the beginning of some tired old movie.
I wouldn't have told you anyway. Not there. Not over a couple of shots.
It's not that kind of story.
Telling it this way is easier. Writing it down, I mean. Everything I saw with my own eyes, and everything I was told about the rest―it takes a hell of a lot of time to get it all straight. It takes even more time to work up the energy to start. And god knows that these past couple of years, I've had more than enough time on my hand.
(Hand. Get it?)
Whatever. It's not like anyone else is going to tell you about it. And why am I? Hell if I know. Maybe I'm just bored. Maybe I'm bitter. Maybe I just feel like you should hear it, like there isn't any point to it all without your awareness of what happened, and your gratitude that it did happen. That could be it.
And one more thing: this isn't a story about my arm. We'll get to that part, sure. But trust me, a few missing pounds of bone and meat is totally beside the point, considering what I'm about to tell you. This story is about the air you're breathing, and the light of day you take for granted every morning. In this story, it's your life that's on the line, same as mine. The Vessel knew that from the very beginning. I only know it because I was stuck in the back seat for the entire ride. No one ever had to tell me about it, or ask me what I believed. I was there. I had to believe. There wasn't a choice.
Honestly, I guess that's why I'm telling it. And I guess that's really all I'm asking in return.
Vessel, Book I: The Advent by Tominda Adkins / Fantasy have rating 4.1 out of 5 / Based on37 votes