Bleeding Empire

We won the book trailer contest! To prove it, click here. We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to vote us – we couldn’t have done it without you. We’d also like to thank Ryan Ashcroft of Fireclaw Films for making our fabulous trailer. Anyhoo, we promised you we would post the opening chapter of one of our novels if we won and the people have chosen Bleeding Empire.

We wrote this in November as part of NaNoWriMo and only finished its second draft yesterday. So it’s as raw as an open wound. It follows the offspring of the four horsemen of the Apocalpyse as they set out on their mission to end the world. Death screwed up the numbers and had twins – Morgan and Aeron, Conquest and War combined their DNA to form Marsden, Famine produced ultra-bitch Demi and Death donated his Pestilence to create Mac. Then there’s Drew – a disgraced angel kicked out of Heaven and forced to serve his time on Earth in a shitty pub. Oh and they’re based in Travelodge.

Here it is:

Chapter 1

 

Ash covered the desolate city in smoky kisses. Scarlet electricity pulsed through the clouds’ open veins. Thunder pounded like a desperate heart as night swept down on funereal wings to steal the light, and with it, all hope of redemption.

The ash spiralled faster, the city shaking as a delicate hand picked up the snow globe, running her black nails across its smooth surface. A smile crossed her violet lips then she hurled it. The glass shattered, the city exploding from its spherical prison as Hell arrived on earth.

 

***

     A black clad figure stood silhouetted on the roof of a car, the alarm wailing like a banshee foretelling a death. But no-one was listening. His hand held the black guitar neck, carved into a snake, its ruby eyes glinting in secret knowledge. The guitar body was a black skull, streaked with his own blood from when he carved it. The soundtrack to the city was silent, like it was waiting for him to hit Play. He raised his head then strummed the guitar. People stopped. He waited then played the note again. They moved forwards, a crowd surrounding the car.

He closed his eyes, took a deep breath then played their pain back to them, resurrecting the hidden desires they concealed from society’s judging eyes. He knew their inner turmoil better than their most intimate journal. His fingers moved faster, his plectrum plucking their nerves and playing them to the beats of their hearts. A fight erupted over some long ago misdemeanour involving a broken lawnmower and missing gnome. Two friends who’d been playfully shoving each other started kissing as the passion they’d been harbouring became too powerful to control. A long married couple began a war of words, their pent up frustrations becoming hollowpoint bullets that gunned down their marriage in the dismal street beneath the scattered ash that fell from the sky.

Raw emotions bled into the night. The figure watched his crowd, bringing the song to a final angry chorus. The married couple traded wounding words. The fighters wrestled on the floor, the attacker delivering one final blow to his friend’s bloodied face. The kissing friends’ clothes lay torn beneath them, bloodied scratches a souvenir on their backs as they lost themselves in ecstasy.

The song died.

The married couple stepped away from each other, swallowing the hurt that still burned inside. The attacker hugged his lifeless friend, his tears streaking through the blood and the damage he’d inflicted. The two friends shared one last lingering kiss then self-consciously dressed in their ripped clothes and went back to playfighting, smothering the fire that danced in their eyes. The rest of the crowd moved away, their gazes lost and empty.

“Marsden De’Ath. The one and only.”

The figure turned. “If you start singing that Chesney Hawkes tune, I’ll use your vocal chords to re-string my guitar.”

A man stood in the shadows. Stubble kissed his cheeks. A silver choker burdened his neck. He smiled, his face illuminating, like a beautiful statue beneath a Museum’s spotlights.

“Drew!” Mars leapt off the car. They hugged then winced as their bodies scorched. They pulled away, their skin healing.

“I was about to file a missing persons’ report for you.”

“I was lying low to avoid the pre-Christmas sales. Shoppers bring me out in a rash.”

“It happened then.” Drew nudged the fallen man with the toe of his boot.

“We all knew it would. It was just a matter of when.” Mars slung his guitar around his back. “There was nothing else pencilled in the diary for today.”

“Are the others here?”

“Somewhere. They’re probably trackable through GPS. Why are you here?”

“Damage control.”

“You can’t stop it.”

“No. But I can stop you.” They stared at each other, choking on every word they longed to say. “Or at least, try to change your playlist.” Drew grinned and poked Mars’ shoulder, grimacing when his fingertip burned.

“Sorry, I don’t do requests.”

“Yeah I didn’t think you were the Karaoke type.”

“That hurts. You haven’t heard my Gloria Gaynor.”

Drew laughed. “Promise me one thing – once a day you’ll play a happy song. Give them a chance of salvation.”

“I play what’s inside them.”

“Yes but you can control what surfaces.”

Mars wiped ash off Drew’s forehead, leaving behind a charcoal smear and line of blistered skin. “Put it in my suggestions box.”

“You don’t pick up phone messages, you’ll never empty your suggestions box.”

“People thrive on misery. That’s why Jerry Springer was so popular.”

“The world can’t exist on pain alone.”

 

***

     Demi moved through the packed club, Salvation. The music thrashed a heartbeat against her chest. Girls looked her up and down, their faces contorting as her supermodel frame slipped past them. They adjusted their clothes, holding in their stomachs until she disappeared then bitching behind her back. She climbed the stairs, her movements portraying the grace theirs lacked, her dress shimmering under the pulsating lights.

She moved onto a raised platform and danced. Other girls moved away from her, whispering together, their revealing outfits suddenly feeling too tight. They watched her then caught glimpses of themselves in reflective surfaces and looked away, their bodies which earlier had looked sexy to them, now looked two sizes too big.

Demi smiled down on them, her slim limbs matching the rhythm of the music as she sashayed her body.

“She looks like a skeleton,” one girl murmured to her friend.

“At least I don’t look like I was made with self-raising flour,” Demi retorted. She nodded at the girl. “Get a bigger top. The only place I want to see muffins, is in bakeries.”

The girl fled.

“You bitch!” Her friend tugged Demi’s hair.

Demi backhanded her, knocking her to the floor.

“Touch my hair again and you’ll lose your fingers. Some Romanian girl was paid adequate money to provide me with these extortionate extensions. She’d be devastated to learn you used her hair as a tug toy.” She adjusted her dress then moved to a different spot.

“Nice moves!” A guy approached her. “Fancy practising some with me?”

“The only move I want to do with you, is one that takes your head off your shoulders. Come back to me when you’ve lain off the pies and learned to take a bath.”

His mates whistled and shouted as she strolled to a group of girls who were dancing provocatively, trying to catch the attention of nearby men.

“No wonder they call it belly dancing – your bellies are big enough to dance by themselves.” Demi pushed her way into the centre of their circle and swayed her hips, the lights casting shadows under her sharp cheekbones. “It’s supposed look sensuous, not make them feel nauseous.”

“Skinny bitch,” one girl snapped.

“You say skinny like it’s a bad thing. I could get two of me in your clothes and still have room for that guy you’re eyeing up. He wouldn’t suffocate in my cleavage.”

“Only ‘cos you don’t have any.”

“At least guys want me for my personality – you’re just a pair of talking tits.”

In the corner, Mac watched Demi, his hood concealing most of his face. She caught his eye and smirked then gestured towards the opposite side of the club. He moved away from the wall and passed through the dancers to where a man lurked.

Mac grabbed him and pushed him through the fire exit into the dank alley behind the club. Stale urine, tobacco and the sickly sweet smell of marijuana assaulted his olfactory senses.

“Hey! What are you doing?” The man stumbled but saved himself.

“Putting you out of business.”

“Fuck off.” The man flicked out a knife.

“Sorry pal – a new corporation has moved into the area and we’re closing you down.”

Mac nodded at Mars, who leaned against a black wheelie bin then Mac disappeared into the club. He heard the first chords on Mars’s guitar before the door shut, drowning him out with the beat from the club.

He shoved his gloved hands into his hoody’s pockets and watched the dancers for three minutes. He backed out the fire exit and saw the man sprawled on the wet floor, a gaping wound in his throat, his bloodied knife lying beside him.

Mac rifled through his pockets, taking his mobile, cash and several sachets of pills before returning inside.

“You seen Vinny?” A man asked.

“He’s taken early retirement. What can I get you?”

“Two pills.”

Mac handed over the pills and took the cash with a handshake. He glanced at Demi, who winked then continued dancing. Mac worked his way through the dancers before getting lost in the throng.

 

***

     Morgan and Aeron crushed the broken glass they walked over as they headed into the street. Their PVC outfits were almost as identical as they were. They stopped by a car, where a bloodied man lay in the road, his battered face swollen beyond recognition.

“Do you want the honours?” Aeron asked.

“It’ll be my pleasure.”

Morgan crouched beside the man and produced a snow globe from his pocket. She rolled it around her fingers, the glass chinking against her Gothic rings then she gazed into the glass at the tiny graveyard beyond. She shook it, watching ash spiral around the peaceful scene. When the ash settled, a new headstone grew from the ground.

Morgan rose when she heard the beating of wings. She held her arm out to the raven and he hopped onto it. She squeezed the globe until it was the size of a marble then slipped into a black pouch that hung around the raven’s neck.

The raven took flight, a stark contrast to the crimson clouds that hovered above the earth like a blood stained cloth.

Aeron squatted by the gutter and picked up a broken guitar string. He held it out to Morgan.

“Someone’s been busy.”

“As least he’s doing his job and not being distracted by that bad influence.”

Aeron pocketed the string and they walked across the road. An ambulance raced past them, its blue lights turning their pale skin into a sickly death hue. They moved through different streets until they heard the beat from Salvation. Ignoring the club, they slipped into the alley, where a man lay surrounded by his own blood.

“My turn.” Aeron freed a snow globe from the corpse’s coat pocket and tossed it in the air. He caught it, watching the ash rest on a new grave.

 

Another Big Thing

We’ve been tagged by the lovely Bronwyn Green to do this blog hop and answer question about our latest WIP, or work in progress to you non-writers. It’s actually a weird coinkidink because we’ve done 2 of these before and since writing our new novel, have been wanting someone to tag us in one of these so we can tell you more about Bleeding Empire. Bronwyn must’ve read our minds. Sorry about that! If you want to read Bronwyn’s answers, check out her blog here – http://bronwyngreenblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/my-next-big-thing.html

What is the working title of your next book?

Bleeding Empire. Fun Fact – we actually got the title from one of those Facebook games where you make a metal band name out of these words, depending on your initials. Cat’s was Black Zombies, Lynx’s was Forbidden Zombies and Ryan’s was Bleeding Empire. We loved it so much we wrote it down to use as a book title.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

We think it was after reading a Terry Pratchett book with the four horsemen in it and we thought it’d be cool to have novel based on the myth, but with entirely different characters. It wasn’t until we wrote the words ‘Chapter 1’ we figured out who Death would be.

What genre does your book fall under?

Horror, maybe urban fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oooh tough one. Ian Somerhalder would be great as Aeron, one of the Deaths. (Death is twins). His sister, Morgan could be played by Rose McGowen. It wouldn’t matter who played Mac (Pestilence) as he’d be wearing prosthetics. Demi (Famine) would have to be played by an ultra skinny supermodel, and Marsden (War) by someone utterly gorgeous. Ooh we have a pic of a seriously hot male model. He’ll be perfect!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your books?

The five horsemen descend on earth to start the Apocalypse and bring the world to its knees.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published more than likely. That way we can retain control. We’re control freaks. If a publisher wants it, they’ll have agree to give us free reign over the cover.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

35 days 😀 It was our NaNoWriMo novel.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The closest we can think of is one we’ve written called Legion of the Damned, but that doesn’t count. Um…not sure.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

NaNoWriMo. We wanted to take part, had a really vague idea of this one so just jumped in and wrote it. With NO plans.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s the four horsemen of the apocalypse but not as you know them. They’re actually the offspring of the original horsemen so they ride motorbikes instead of horses (health and safety won’t let them use horses) and they can’t stand each other. Morgan & Aeron are psychotic, Demi is a fame-hungry super model and a bitch, Mac is a nice guy but revolting and Marsden is funny, hot and has a very dark side. It’s got horror, comedy, blood and a sexy angel called Drew who wants to stop the apocalypse but is also in love with Marsden and knows that if he were to give into his desires, he’ll fall and take the world down with him.

Apocalypse Now

The end is nigh. Well, the end has arrived. No, not the end of the world, there’s still a few more days left, apparently. But we have reached the end of our new novel, Bleeding Empire and that is sadder than the world going up in flames, or being devoured by zombies, whichever comes true. Personally we’re trying to drum up fear for the Dinopocalypse. It’s not catching on.

We reached the grand total of 107, 869 words yesterday, making it our shortest first draft ever. It’s a relief not to have a 150-200K novel waiting to be hacked up more than a character in Saw. Being written in 35 days also makes it our fastest novel yet. Although at the beginning it was tough, and writing the first 10 chapters was like trying to get blood from a sunken vein, towards the end the words were flowing like they were being pumped from a severed artery. And we didn’t want it to end.

That’s the trouble with writing a novel so quickly. The book is ready to end before you are. It’s a bit like drinking Red Bull – you’re still enjoying its tasty amber nectar and before you know it, the can is empty and you find yourself shaking it for the last delicious drop. Or maybe that’s just us. We felt like we were only just beginning to know the characters, to get into their heads and explore different aspects of their personalities, and we were enjoying the journey even though we had no map. We were falling in love with the whole idea of the horsemen, planning our bookmarks, our graphic novel, perhaps even artwork. And it was over. The book was ready to be finished. It didn’t matter how much we weren’t ready to be parted from it, there was nowhere left for it to go. Nothing left to say.

Except The End.

Writing Bleeding Empire was different to any other novel. For start, we did some research. Usually we research afterwards then alter the book so we can get on with the fun part first. But because we didn’t really know much about ending the world (which is terrible considering we plan to take it over one day), we did our research whilst writing the book. Sometimes, we’d stop in the middle of a scene, do some quick research then carry on. We were then able to use it as part of the plot, to help us when we got stuck. If you read our post about doing NaNoWriMo, you’ll know we had no ideas, except it was about the four horsemen and that most of them didn’t have names or characters. So doing the research whilst writing helped with ideas. We also know a hell of a lot more about diseases than we ever wanted to.

We’re desperate to start redrafting it, to add in all the bits we feel are missing. We need to add darkness, more descriptions, strengthen their characters at the start when we were just getting to know them. Famine hasn’t quite reached her full bitchy potential. There’s still more nastiness for her to unleash. But not yet. We know we have to wait, get some distance so we can return to it objectively. So, once we saved the final chapter, did we take the evening off to relax, maybe play Golden Axe 3 on the PS3 and just forget about writing for the rest of the day? Nope. We immediately started on Bad Romance, the sequel to Gunning Down Romance. *cracking open Red Bull* It’s how we roll.