Wednesday, March 27, 2019

A Sneak Peek into Running From Demons by M.K. Theodoratus

RUNNING FROM DEMONS by M.K. Theodoratus, Paranormal Fantasy, 430 pp., $2.99 (Kindle)

Author: M.K. Theodoratus
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 279
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy

Pillar Beccon travels across Andor to discover her mother’s mysterious past. But danger is never far away as a demon seeks to destroy her.

An orphaned null without a hint of magic, Pillar can’t remember ever belonging anywhere, especially not in the Freemage commune where she grew up. After she graduates from high school, she jumps at the chance to learn why her mother ran away from her family.

During an accidental encounter, Grylerrque, a surviving commander from The Demon Wars, recognizes what Pillar is and decides to feed the girl’s life force to her clutch. The demon sends her minions to capture the girl. Pillar escapes with a help of an unexpected allay, only to learn she was pulled out of the frying pan and thrown into the fire.

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Pillar Beccon stood before the open doors of the Taddledon bus
station, steeling her nerves. She was alone with no one at her back,
not even her running buds from school. Though, now that "Te Tres
Amigas" had graduated, she'd have to get used to being alone again.
Pillar's jaw clenched as she braced herself against the coming stares.
The teen didn’t mind the double takes as she walked along a
street. They seldom pierced the walls she’d built around herself. Inside the Taddledon Station, she’d be the pale-skinned, weird-eared
weirdo caught in a sea of tan people sneaking glances at her angular,
mismatched face, wispy blond hair, and super tall height. People always gawked at her. She felt lucky when they didn’t drool when their
mouths hung open. Pillar begged the Powers for strength, not that
they ever helped nulls or mages.
Get a grip. At least they won’t tease you like the kids at school. They
don't know you're a nothing null. Pillar refused to admit she was neither human nor mage, fsh nor fowl. Besides, odds are the people waiting're only human and aren't aware.
The hair on the back of her neck prickled. When she scanned
the station, nothing around her felt threatening. You're over-reacting.
You're safe. Pillar sighed with relief. I didn’t let Delia down. I made the
test trip on my own. No glitches.

The teen had survived the day trip to the Taddledon museum
and gardens in spite of her foster mother's worries. Pillar didn't need
babysitting by the Freemage commune that had taken her in when
her mother died. Not that her mother was a born member. Mages
thought the mountain communes the only safe place for their young
since their teens made the perfect prey for demon-kind—if her yapping trainers weren't just blowing hot air. She stood taller, and her
shoulders relaxed.
Satisfaction flooded through her. I made it.
The bumblebee drone of the milling travelers bounced o the
high ceilings and washed over her. Here and there, children’s shrieks
drew scowls as they spiked above the noise. All seemed to ignore
the announcement that a bus had just arrived at the platforms. The
prickles grew sharper, and she paused.
After a glance around the lobby, Pillar guessed most were locals
returning to their surrounding small towns after shopping trips to
the big city. Te few roamers, marked by their grubby clothes and
backpacks, might be mages or might not be. Communes and towns
tended to throw out their misfits after they graduated from high
school if they didn't get admitted to colleges or tech schools.
A man near the outside door sat, slumped back on a bench and
eyes closed, with his hands resting on his ample belly. He opened one
eye and jerked. His gaze darted away from Pillar’s icy, challenging
stare, made all the colder by her pale blue eyes. A flush rushed over
his face as he ducked his head.
It’s not like I’m a total freak. All mages have long faces.
Pillar hunched her shoulders again but decided not to get pissed
o or feel sorry for herself. Both reactions were a waste of energy. Pillar ignored thousands of memories of being told nobody wanted a
null, not even the Kingscourt, unless the null was brilliant enough
to become a useful functionary. Nulls were kicked out of mage communes to fend for themselves in the slums of the cities.
Swallowing, Pillar reached out with her new, weak awareness to
a static-like buzz along her skin created by the people around her. For
her, the fluttering ambience of the station tickled rather than buzzed.
She shook her head and strode towards the end of the station's diner.
Her stomach growled its approval.
Thoughts of a toasted cheese sandwich made her mouth water.
Her always hungry stomach spurred her forward, but a jarring undercurrent sprang out from under the normal human buzz. The atmosphere of the station suddenly smelled o, like curdled milk.
Pausing again to size up the waiting travelers, Pillar chewed on
her lip. Everyone felt normally human to her. No one displayed any
obvious mage powers unless the hint of static was coming from the
security guard, a Kingscourt flunky, who would possess at least some
low-grade magic. The guarda stood alert, scanning the station with a
wary gaze.
As the waitress approached her, she chewed a wad of gum so
large her tongue appeared each time her jaw moved. Pillar lowered
her eyes at the unattractive sight, retreating into her shell rather
than feel the waitress’s turbulent emotions. But waitress's gaze rested
on Pillar’s long narrow face with its wider than normal mouth and
knife-like nose. A flash of pity crossed her roundish face. Pillar sat
straighter and smiled, revealing as many teeth as possible.
“Ham and cheese with extra cheese, please,” said Pillar.
“Cost you extra.”
Pillar almost rolled her eyes, but she had learned to contain her
reactions, much to her foster mother/mentor’s relief. “So add it to
my bill.” The waitress clomped towards the kitchen window of the
grill, writing on her pad.
Piercing shrieks echoed o the high ceilings. Pillar’s head jerked
around to see three kids running away from a taller boy, who
stomped after them like a bear. He growled, making them scream
louder. Their bright auras rose and fell with their screams.
Looks like they’re having fun.
The game continued until one of the kids tripped over a suitcase.
Angry words erupted from an older woman. She wore a hat, ringed
with flowers, as if she were someone important, but important people didn’t take buses. They owned their own cars. The kids ignored
her just as Pillar would have.
Scanning the area, Pillar tested her developing talent for reading
auras. The slow dance of dierent shimmering colors popping
through the light bluish-green glow of their life pulse fascinated her,
but she concentrated on possible threats. Everyone in the lobby felt
like nulls to Pillar. But her eavesdropping on the mage elders, talking
to her guardian, told her they worried about magical attacks from demon-kind. While no adult talked much about them, Pillar assumed
demons could camouflage themselves and hide behind shields.
Otherwise, they wouldn’t be so hard to find. She shuddered, not
wanting to think of demons possessing people. Doubt if any demons
would dare to hunt here, anyway.
The thought comforted Pillar, and she relaxed. The waitress arrived and picked a plate o her ladened arm to plunk it on the
counter with a sigh.
Pillar smiled as the waitress scooted around the counter to the
tables against the wall. “Thanks. It looks delicious.” The waitress bustled away without looking back, and Pillar shrugged.
Not wanting to dribble cheese on the new tee she’d bought in
the museum shop, Pillar leaned forward to take a bite of her toasted
ham and cheese sandwich. The gooey cheese oozed out the sides,
over her fingers. She licked them and her lips. The cost of adding
extra cheese was worth it, making a perfect ending to her first solo
venture into Taddledon. The ride home would be dull in comparison
to the carefree day she had enjoyed. At least her stomach wouldn't be
The PA system belched news of another arriving bus, adding to
the racket bouncing o the station walls. The garbled words made
no sense. Pillar ignored the announcement as she licked her fingers
clean. The tenor of the air shifted. The hair on her nape rose. Pillar
glanced back towards the benches in the lobby.
Taking another bite of her gooey sandwich, Pillar licked her lips
as she searched for the disturbance in the station’s energy. The power became so intense even Pillar’s weak talent felt the rising pulse. A
chill crawled across her shoulders and down her back. Pillar turned
around. Her eyes locked on a tangled-haired girl, clutching a backpack in her hands and using the wall by the platform doors to protect
her back. The girl's eyes grew wider as she scanned the station.
Pillar's frizzy hair stood at attention. A strange odor, the like of
which she'd never smelled in Osseran, wafted from the outside doors.
Her stomach churned, and Pillar dropped her no longer appetizing
What's going on? That girl just doesn't feel like a normal, but she
shouldn't make my stomach want to heave.

A Northern California gal, M. K. Theodoratus has been intrigued by fantasy since she discovered comic books and the land of Oz. Some of her early favorites were A. Merritt, Andre Norton, Catherine L. Moore, and Fritz Lieber. She has traveled through many fantasy worlds since then. Now she enjoys reading Lee Child, Patricia Briggs, Sharyn McCrumb, Neil Gaiman, and Carol O’Connell among others.

When she’s not disappearing into other writer’s worlds, she’s creating her own alternative worlds — that of Andor where demons prey and that of the Far Isle Half-Elven where she explores the social and political implications of genetic drift on a hybrid elf/human people. Magic and mayhem are her favorite topics.

She now lives in Colorado with her old man and two lap cats.

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