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February 2017

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At long last: Excerpt from "Lady Marmalade's Special Place in Hell"

Um. Yeah. So if you haven't noticed, I've been spending the last week stringing the reader along with the promise of a story excerpt. Hoping, as I went, to get you excited about the Kickstarter campaign for Scheherazade's Facade. Heck, I'm excited about it. So excited, I launched into a lengthy series of posts that seems more appropriate for a much better-known writer with a huge existing following. 

Ah well. Here at last, below the cut, is the long-promised excerpt from "Lady Marmalade's Special Place in Hell (A Picaresque Burlesque of the Nether Realms)":

For starters, honey, I don't believe in Hell—that's just some old man's way of telling me reasons why I can't be me. Like “biology is destiny” means I have to be a boy. But somebody believed in Hell—believed in it loud enough that I wound up there—with tortured screams, blistering flames, and all that sulfur stinking up my hair. But hey, as Jean-Paul Sourpuss liked to say, "L'Inferne, c'est les autres”—and I just adore les autres. So I went out to make some friends.

I walked out on an outcropping over lava as red as bordello curtains. This yellow-ocher guy with a big potbelly was whipping a line of anorexic-looking people, some of them so far gone you could see their innards. "And what are you trying to do?" I asked the yellow guy with the whip.

He glared at me. "You dare address me thus?" He had hooves with a split down the middle and big curly goat horns with ridges like a rumble strip.

"I'll address you however I want to, sugar," I said, my voice all sweetness on top but no nonsense underneath.

That big jaw moved unbelievingly, with the pointy teeth too far apart. "But
you‍‍—” he stammered, "—you should be in unspeakable agony!"

"Agony? Bitch please. Don't talk to me about agony until you've walked a mile in my shoes. And by shoes I mean those black pumps I picked up last week in the French Quarter. Half a block should do it, really. Then I'll talk agony with you."

"Why—" he said and started to raise the whip.

"Don't you crack that whip at me," I said, and I showed him what a glare is really like.

He backed down.

"Give me that," I said, and I took the whip from his hand. "See, you never give a straight boy a whip—they just want to prove their manly strength." I bent it partway down the lash and examined the weave. It was very well made, and supple, and finer than I would expect in a place like this. But then, a lot of places spend extra on the equipment they use a lot.

"A little finesse," I said, running my fingers along the lash, "and you can achieve outstanding results with a gentle touch." I looked over the crowd and picked out the guy who really wanted it. There's always one. Cowering theatrically, with his face low to the ground, but with anticipation in his eyes, sticking out in that sea of terror like...well, you know what sticks out if you don't strap it down.

I snapped the whip right at him so the tip barely kissed his flesh, in a tender place right over the shoulderblade—stung him so gently that the real torment was that I didn’t do it harder.

He gasped.

"I want to see you beg," I said, and I cracked the whip again, just over his head.

"Please," he whimpered, with a shudder in his voice.

"Please, what?"

"Please, mistress." And the quiver of his shoulders showed he knew I was in charge.

I didn't know his safe word, so I had to take it slow, but honey, speed wasn't as important as reducing him to tears. So I built it gradually, bit by bit, until his moans filled the caverns of Hell, and by the end he was trembling, curled in a ball, letting soft little sobs shudder out of his quivering mouth. And everyone else on the outcropping was cowering with fear.

And ugly yellow goatfoot boy was standing there all stunned. So I coiled the whip back up with a fluid motion of my wrist, and I proffered him back the tool of his trade. But he did not move to take it back from me. I put my other hand on my hip and waited, holding that fine looped whip there in the empty air between us, a long and drawn out moment until finally, slack-jawed goat-boy found his tongue. “D’y’wanna job?"

"Depends," I said. "Do I have to grow horns?"

I won't bore you with the negotiations, but eventually I came out of the deal with little red horns that just poked out of my bouffant, and faux-distressed bat wings with holes in the skin like pre-worn jeans. They gave me a black leather corset that fit around the wings, and knee-length boots with stiletto heels. I don’t want to think about what the leather was made of. Most important, I got the run of the place, so I could go where I chose—or as far as I could make it in those boots.


Thanks, all, for taking the time to read. If you liked it, please visit the Kickstarter campaign and pledge enough to get yourself a copy.


That's really funny.
I remember you reading from this at Arisia. Is there any chance I'd be able to get a copy from you?
Certainly. I'm looking into getting you a comped review copy when they're available. In the meantime I can send you the MS for the story if you'd like. Is the e-mail on your Facebook page the best one?
Certainly. I'm looking into getting you a comped review copy when they're available.

That would be amazing of you! Thank you.

Is the e-mail on your Facebook page the best one?

Er . . . my e-mail is visible on Facebook?

*moment of internet privacy panic*

Okay, no, it's some kind of Facebook address; I've never used it and I have no idea what it's doing there. I should have your e-mail in my editorial account; I'll contact you.