Too, I completed "The Gotterdammerung Gavotte" on Saturday, which was slightly surprising, given that I thought it'd take me a few days to eke out those last thousand or so words. Since I finished that, I noodled around with a few other short story ideas that I have yet to begin, and likely won't until the aforementioned 50K sprint is semi-completed.
As a nod towards omnipresent and ever-continuing self promotion, have an excerpt from "The Artist as Wolf", which appeared in Leather, Denim and Silver: Legends of the Monster Hunter from Pill Hill Press (2011):
Smythe shrugged elegantly. "I am what I am." There was an ever so-slight lilt to his words, a ghost of a memory of an accent. Gaelic perhaps.
"How philosophical," Gallowglass said. While the two men had been talking, she had sidled around behind Smythe and was now pressed close to him. Or, rather, the small pepperbox pistol she had retrieved from her garter was pressed close to him. She cocked it with a thumb and Smythe twitched. "And what are you then?" she asked. "It’s loaded with silver shot, by the by. Just so you know."
"An artist," Smythe said, not taking his eyes off of St. Cyprian. The latter snorted.
"Depends on how you define art, I suppose."
"That's a rather narrow view," Smythe said.
"Practically panoramic, actually," St. Cyprian said. "1904, Cavan, Ireland. Thirty sheep were killed by a nocturnal predator, resembling a largish black dog. Five weeks later, near Limerick, a similar occurrence."
"Dogs kill sheep often enough. Beastly creatures," Smythe said, shivering slightly. "Can't stand them myself."
"1905. Near Badminton in Gloucestershire, a large black dog was shot as it worried at the carcasses of two sheep. The dog wasn't found."
"Farmers are notoriously bad shots. Common knowledge," Smythe said.
"I didn't say it was a farmer. A month later, near Hinton, the same again," St. Cyprian continued, his voice pitched low. "Near Windsor Castle a year later, a sentry fired at what he described as a 'lean black shape'. A few days after that, a dozen of the King's sheep were slaughtered in their field. A month after that, further south, fifty-one sheep were ripped apart and scattered the length and breadth of a field. Petulance, perhaps?" St. Cyprian said.
"Maybe the creature was only minding its business," Smythe said. "If I have to guess."
"In Llanelly, Wales in 1910, a large black animal broke the spines of over a hundred rabbits in every hutch in the village. It was shot, but escaped."
"I've never found rabbits to be more than a mouthful, myself," Smythe said.
"Derbyshire, one month ago. Just before you arrived in London. Something black in color and of enormous size began killing sheep. It mutilated the remains in a particularly sadistic fashion, and even set upon a shepherd."
"I trust the poor man wasn't injured," Smythe said.
"He's dead," St. Cyprian said flatly. "Mauled. As were Sally Floyd and Anna Benson earlier this month."
"Mm, yes, I believe I heard something about that. The scandal sheets made as if it were Saucy Jack come again," Smythe said, smiling.
"Maybe he has," St. Cyprian said.
"Ha! Yes," Smythe said, his features changing abruptly from polite bafflement to cunning amusement."There's no need for the peppy, you know. I'm happy to talk."
"Call it insurance," Gallowglass said. "Can't have you getting temperamental, can we?"
Smythe made a face. "As if I would do so here. This is my big night, after all."
"Yes, your premier showing. You've been making quite a ruckus in the scene lately," St. Cyprian said. "Powerful and vivid are the commonly applied adjectives."
"You sound as if you don't share that opinion."
"Oh they're vivid, I'll give you that. Evocative, even." St. Cyprian turned. "I do happen to like that one there. What is it called?" He gestured to a nearby canvas. On it, two shapes seemed to pulse and push against one another, causing the eye to see first a man, then...something else.
Smythe grinned now, displaying his impressive teeth. "'The Artist as Wolf'."
"It is subtlety like that which renders art inaccessible to the common man," Gallowglass said.
"My thoughts exactly," St. Cyprian said, turning back. "Why? Is it just a grisly little joke of some kind?"
"Of some kind," Smythe agreed. "People are funny like that, aren't they?" He clicked his teeth together and cocked his head. "They never see what's right in front of them. Not until it’s too late."
"Except us," St. Cyprian said.