Here’s a short(ish) excerpt from my upcoming novel: The New World:
Basically you need to know that Seifer is the lead singer in the band “Self-Incompatible Hermaphrodites” and was contacted by a fan, Chris, who promised that he would set up a meeting with industry big-wigs. After flying out to New York he spends a few days with Chris going to clubs, seeing the city, meeting Chris’ friends; pretty much everything BUT a meeting with music executives. Seifer learns that there in fact is no meeting and Chris just wanted to spend some time with his favourite myspace musician. The excerpt begins just after Seifer learns there is no meeting… (the overall story is about a post-apocalyptic world where the majority of humanity is infected by cordyceps which are fungus that take over the brain of their host and make it do whatever is most beneficial to the reproduction of the fungus.) yes it’s a real thing just not in humans…yet 😉
However, now that he was sure he didn’t have an interview-or any real reason for being in New York and spending his and his band mates hard earned money other than to simply indulge a misguided fan in spending a week with his idol-he had no reservations about turning on, tuning in and dropping out.
Maybe Chris knew some good places to party. Seifer considered. Hopefully this trip won’t be a total waste. He’d wait a couple days before telling his band-mates what had happened. He knew they’d be pissed, and he was too, sort of. After all, it was a vacation away from the doldrums of everyday life back home and he was going to make good on it every second he could.
He sat in Chris’ apartment staring at the interior; marveling at the fact that a man in his 20s could afford such an amazing loft in Manhattan.
“What is it that you do?” Seifer asked, and then laughed.
What the fuck had he been thinking? Flying halfway across the continent to meet a guy he only knew through the internet. How did he know that this guy wasn’t some kind of weird cannibal serial killer like that guy from Germany who’d put an ad on Craigslist seeking a man who voluntarily agreed to be murdered and eaten by the man posting the ad.
He looked over at Chris who was talking on the phone in the corner. A dark feeling sunk its teeth into Seifer’s mind. His whole body shivered.
“Hey, Chris,” Seifer’s voice cracked. “Who are you talking to?”
Chris turned away, covering his ear so he could better hear the person on the telephone.
Seifer’s mouth felt incredibly dry. He needed something to drink.
Oh my God. Seifer thought. Is this going to be my last drink? When I turn my back is he going to stab me and . . . he swallowed and felt his dry tongue grating like sandpaper on the roof of his mouth, eat me?
He absently heard Chris hang up the phone and turned around to see him coming towards him. Seifer tensed his whole body.
“Who was that?” Seifer’s voice cracked again.
“My friend Dustin,” He said excitedly.
Chris opened the fridge and pulled out two cans of Coke.
“Would you like one?” He offered, holding one out to him.
“Thanks,” Seifer cautiously reached out and grabbed the can from Chris’ hand.
“I’m sorry,” Chris said.
Seifer’s eyes immediately darted up to meet those of his host. This was it. He was sorry because he was going to have to kill him. Maybe taking the Coke was a signal or an acceptance. Maybe there was some unwritten rule that if you take the killer’s Coke, he assumes that means you agree to let him kill you.
Seifer could feel himself sweating.
“You’re sorry?” He asked.
“Yah, you asked me something while I was on the phone,” Chris said. “I couldn’t really hear you.”
“Oh.” Seifer tried to think back. “Um, oh, what do you do for a living?”
“I work at an ad agency in Chelsea.” He said, popping open the can of Coke. It made such a loud crack that it jolted Seifer all the way over in his seat.
“And that makes you enough money to live in such a fabulous loft?” Seifer asked.
It was an open concept loft, with aged, wooden flooring and grey brick walls. Pipes ran along the ceiling and light fixtures hung low above him. There were no doors on the cupboards. Everything was open. Seifer caught a flicker of light in his peripheral vision streaming in for a split second from outside the large windows. He whipped his head over to see what was going on; but there was nothing out there except for the red brick of the building on the other side of the street.
Chaos. He thought, irrationally.
The shadows in the room began to move and sway back and forth. For a moment it felt like the entire building was slowly rocking back and forth and for some reason he could hear the childhood lullaby perfectly clear in his ears.
When the wind blows the cradle will rock.
When the bow breaks then baby will fall.
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
“That’s actually a really dark lullaby.”
“Excuse me?” Chris asked.
Seifer looked over at him, horrified. “Um, sorry . . . what?”
Chris laughed. “This is great shit isn’t it?”
The way he laughed was somehow comforting to Seifer and he eased up.
No, he wasn’t going to kill and eat him.
Seifer calmed down and started drinking more quickly from the can in his hand.
“Yah, this is nuts,” He agreed with himself and found he couldn’t stop laughing.
Seifer joined in and for awhile it seemed like they were trying to one-up each other with the intensity of their laughter. Seifer’s throat tightened, however, as he looked over at Chris and saw a large Cheshire cat-like smile growing on his face.
Growing and growing.
It wasn’t stopping. His smile just kept getting large and larger, and curling up the sides of his face, maniacally.
“There’s . . . uh, there’s . . .” Seifer wanted to say: There’s something really fucking wrong with your face. But immediately realized that it was just the acid and he was high as all fuck. Instead he just rejoined Chris in their laughing fit.
Seifer thought of something: “You’re an ad person or ad guy, right?”
“I work for an ad agency, yes.” Chris said, beginning to tear from all the laughter.
“Well, could you make us an ad?” Seifer said. “For the band, I mean.”
“What kind of an ad?”
“Like a commercial or . . .” He stopped, “No, that’d be way too expensive, but um . . . what about like a poster, or a flyer or some kind of promotional thingy. Maybe this trip won’t be a total waste.” As soon as he said it he immediately regretted it. “No, that’s . . . that’s not what I meant. It’s not a waste, I’m just thinking from my band mates perspective.”
“Hey, I understand.” Chris said. “I wasn’t exactly honest about your trip here, but I really wanted to get you out to New York. And I mean, now that you’re here, who’s to say that you won’t bump into someone who can help. Or maybe you could play a venue by yourself.”
“I didn’t bring my guitar with me.” Seifer said.
“Oh, wait here.” Chris stood up and walked over to the far side of the loft. He pushed a large metal divider, which was hanging from the ceiling on a track above him, out of the way revealing a bedroom. There was a king-sized bed flanked on either side by thin yet tall, black book cases. Chris went to the right side of the bed, in front of one of the book cases and unhooked a black acoustic guitar from its pedestal.
It was fancy enough to be a pedestal.
Seifer’s guitar rack at home was just a metal rod on a tri-pod with a u-shaped cradle for the neck and another for the body of the guitar.
Chris’ was wildly extravagant for a simple guitar rack. He brought the guitar over and as he neared Seifer immediately got excited.
“Oh my God,” Seifer gasped. “Is that a . . . it’s a Gibson Monarch.”
Chris handed it over to Seifer, and he very carefully gripped it and laid it down against his knee.
“This is a $25,000 guitar!” Seifer beamed.
“Go ahead. Play it.”
Seifer looked up at Chris with large, appreciative eyes.
The feel of it in his hands was unbelievable. The strings were so responsive; he barely had to press at all. He strummed out the first couple measure of a S.I.H’s song.
“Oh awesome,” Chris sat down in the chair beside Seifer. “I love Oblivion.”
It was a little weird, yet quite flattering, that someone was so interested in music that he’d created. But wasn’t that why he was making music in the first place; to reach and to affect people?
Seifer smiled and started from the beginning.
The sound coming from the ridiculously expensive guitar was absolutely mind-blowing. He’d never believed that he would be playing anything as phenomenal as the Monarch, so early in his career. Well, it wasn’t really early in his career, he’d been playing for over fifteen years, but still, to be holding $25,000 dollars in his hand . . .
That was almost double his yearly income he was strumming.
This is nuts.
“We should see if we can’t book you to play in some little venues around the city. I’m sure there’s hundreds of open-mics in the five boroughs at any one time.” Chris said.
“Yah, we should definitely do that.” Seifer was so excited to call Erin and tell her that he was playing on a Gibson Monarch. Not that that would really mean much to her, but he just wanted to tell someone. He couldn’t wait to tell the band that he’d be playing some acoustic gigs in New York City. Well, I’ll have to wait until they fixed the problem with all the cell phon-
There was a loud crash from outside.
It jolted both of them and they looked worriedly over at each other.
“Did you feel that?” Chris asked, but before Seifer could answer the building was overtaken by another riotous fit of shaking.
Some of the dishes inside the door-less cupboards came crashing down on the floor. Seifer could hear muted screams of chaos and insanity down in the street.
“What the fuck is going on?” Seifer asked. “Is this actually happening or is my trip going bad?”
“I hear it too,” Chris said. “You are hearing this too right?”
Seifer nodded his head.
He was apprehensive about looking outside but he was so curious.
Curiosity killed the cat. A voice inside his head reminded him.
There was an earsplitting explosion and the flames rushed passed Chris’ loft window.
“Holy shit.” Chris shouted. “Did you see th-“
Another bright flare of light and sound ripped passed the window, this time piercing through the glass; letting some of the bright fingers of flame reach into the loft followed closely behind by intense heat. Both Chris and Seifer were knocked to the ground and when Seifer opened his eyes again he saw the smoking bit of burnt brick, which destroyed the window, was lying beside him.
With the window broken, the once muted voices of fear and panic rushed in with an intensity that made Seifer’s head swim.
What the fuck is going on? He heard explosion after explosion coupled with the not-so-reassuring sound of ambulances and fire trucks. Something about this feels absolutely wrong. This wasn’t just a gas leak, or some kind of minor accident. No, this was big time shit. It was something Seifer didn’t want to stick around for.
“We have to get the fuck out of here.” Seifer yelled and booked it for the door.
Maybe it was because he was insanely high, but instead of running straight through the door and into the hallway, he stopped at the door, took the time to put on his black converse, grabbed his messenger bag, threw it over his shoulder, and then left. Chris had also taken that time to collect some things that he couldn’t dare part with. He shoved all the objects in a large duffel bag and then followed Seifer into the hallway.
“Wait,” Seifer stopped.
“I should be following you.” Seifer said. “I have no idea where the fuck I’m going.”
The whole building shook again and it was all they could do to remain upright. The lights above them flickered and then went dead. They were bathed in complete blackness save for the faint street lights streaming in the windows on either end of the hallway.
“I say we take the stairs.”
They burst into the stairwell and began taking the steps two at a time. The rest of the tenants of the building all had the same idea, only some of them were hauling major amounts of luggage behind them.
That’s stupid. Seifer thought as he passed an elderly man struggling with a suitcase that was more than half his size. The wheels of the suitcase must’ve caught on something because it put it off balance enough to go spiraling down the staircase only stopping at the landing between floor eleven and floor ten.
It was like people didn’t even notice the obstacle. They were jumping over the suitcase and the old man was having a hell of a time trying to lift it up again; people were continuously stepping on it as they rounded the landing.
Should I help him? Seifer wondered, but as he did, he realized that he was already rounding the landing on between floor eight and floor seven.
The amount of people pushing from behind him made it impossible to go anywhere but down.
“What the fuck is going on?” A woman behind him was screaming to no one and no one answered her.
There was a little girl, maybe only 5 years old, sitting in the stairwell, hugging her legs to her chest and sobbing wildly.
“Mommy,” She screamed. “Mommy.”
Seifer made eye-contact with the little girl and immediately wished she hadn’t. The world seemed to slow around him and he felt as though their gaze was unbroken for minutes. He stared at the little girl and she stared right back at him with pleading eyes.
I’m sorry, I can’t help you.
The world sped up again and he was just rounding the landing of the third floor.
“Chris, what’s going on?” Seifer asked, but realized how stupid that question was. He didn’t know anything more than he did.
They hit the lobby and saw the mass of people all trying to force their way through the front doors at the same time. Everyone was funneled into the vortex, and sandwiched together as they slowly squeezed through the door.
Seifer imagined himself growing thinner; as though the group of them had just become a toothpaste tube and some invisible power was clenching its fists around them. He passed through the doorway and was ejected onto the street.
“Chris,” Seifer called. He’d lost him at some point during the vortex disaster. “Chris,” He shouted again, more frantically.
Scanning the crowd of people, Seifer made a grisly discovery. A group of about five or six white men was attacking a man who looked Arabic in appearance. The Arab man was wearing a suit jacket with matching pants and a white dress shirt with a black tie.
What are they doing?
They took turns punching him and screaming at him. They were saying something, but Seifer was too far away to hear exactly what it was that they were saying. They tackled him to the ground and positioned his face against the curb.
The pudgy white guy wearing a backwards Yankees cap, who Seifer assumed was the ring leader, screamed one last thing to the Arab man before violently snapping his foot down against the back of the poor man’s neck. A spray of blood exploded against the dusty concrete of the curb.
“Seifer.” He heard a voice from behind him.
He turned and saw the blonde man who’d picked him up at the airport, only wearing a thick layer of dust.
“Over here,” Chris screamed above the raging chaos around them.
Seifer tried to push against the heavy flood of people pushing him down the street but as he did a wave of anxiety thrashed into him. To him, it looked like all the people had melted together and were actually forming a liquid human wave that swelled and dipped its way down the street. He screamed.
“Help me. I’m stuck inside liquid people!”
Seifer saw a disembodied blonde scalp floating on top of the sea of liquid people. It was coming closer to him. He felt a tight grip around his wrist and then Chris’ face broke the surface of the swell.
They both pushed against the current, trying to make it up the street and then Seifer asked: “Is there anything special this way? Why are we going against the flow?”
Chris looked over at him and started laughing, “No, I guess we don’t have to.”
Their smiles instantly faded in sync with another large explosion from the building just down the street. It looked like a wall of smoke and dust was being sneezed out by the building; if the buildings face were on the lobby floor that is. There was a horrible creaking sound, blended with an intense grating and finally a loud crunch as the high-rise collapsed into itself. The people even thirty feet in front of them were instantly crushed under the massive chunks of marble, brick and steel.
The direction of the liquid people instantaneously halted and reversed course. Chris and Seifer were about a hundred feet away and could clearly see the wall of dust barreling down on them. The whole world slowed again as he took in the sight of billowing of the dust raging towards them as through they were little ripples in a gray, vertical pool. His sense of gravity was immediately fucked, and he had the weirdest feeling that he was standing on the wall rather than solid ground, and that the column of dust wasn’t coming towards him, he was falling towards it.
He something tighten around his wrist again.
“Come on. We can get to the subway station over here.”
Seifer turned and followed, or rather, was dragged towards a large black sign what had some writing on it that Seifer couldn’t read in the chaos; but he could make out four multi-colored circles with white letters in their centers: A, C, B, D.
Was it just cause he was fucked, or because of the insanity around him, but he suddenly worried he was dyslexic. He shook his head and looked at the sign again but he was pulled off before he could comprehend the sign.
“Help.” He heard a frantic voice scream. “Please help. Jesus, please help.”
He turned, trying to locate the source of the plea.
The current of liquid people was growing stronger with the approaching of the dust cloud. But then he saw it. A woman was kneeling in the middle of the street beside a man who was not moving. She was trying to help him up, but he seemed to be dead weight.
“Help me!” She screamed at the people who ran around her. “You fucking bastards!” She picked up the nearest rock and chucked it into the sea and it disappeared without making so much as a ripple.
Something inside Seifer was pulling against Chris, and against the sea of liquid people.
I have to save them.
He let go of Chris’s hand and made his way over to the woman and the man she was holding.
“Let me help you.”
“Oh my God, thank you so much.” She was sobbing violently. “Thank you so much.”
“Is he okay?” Seifer asked.
“Yes, he . . . he’s a paraplegic; some fucking asshole,” She shouted angrily into the raging sea, “knocked him out of his chair.”
The edge of the column of dust and debris was already reaching them; the world around them grew hazy as he was constantly being pelted by tiny bits of what used to be a building.
Seifer reached under the man’s arm and lifted him to his feet.
Chris emerged from the mass of rushing bodies to scream at him: “What the fuck are you doing?”
Chris looked upset, but he went over to the man’s other shoulder and helped prop him up.
“Thank you so much,” The woman was still crying, uncontrollably. “Thank you so much.”
“This way,” Chris instructed and now the wall of dust was upon them. The wind caused by it was tugging at their clothes and their feet, threatening to pull their legs out from under them.
Seifer closed his eyes and let Chris lead them. He continued walking, but in the blackness of his closed eyelids he saw the face of the old man struggling with the luggage on the stairwell. The old man turned to face him and mouthed: Fuck You. The image of the old man dissolved slowly, to be replaced by the little 5 year old girl crying on the landing. She looked up with him, her eyes thick with tears: Fuck You.
Seifer shot his eyes open.
They were almost to the Subway entrance, maybe fifteen feet away. The gray was becoming more and more opaque.
“We’re almost there.”
Bits of dust were assaulting Seifer’s eyes and he closed them again and he would’ve fallen down the stairs, taking Chris and the paraplegic with him, had he not opened them seconds before he placed his foot on the top step. They raced, as fast as they could connected together, down the stairs and turned on to the platform.
There were a surprisingly few people down in the subway, maybe they were too frantic to think clearly, or maybe they knew something that Seifer and the others didn’t. He tried to shake that thought off his mind. There was a loud crash and suddenly, almost too fast to see, the stairwell behind them was encased in large pieces of marble and brick with gangly fingers of rebar reaching out at them. They were trapped.