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Paranormal Urban Fantasy
BY JENNY IROH
Natalie Gray leads a relatively boring life. All of that changes when her genetic results come in, and it’s not what she expected.
Natalie isn’t human.
Vampires and Werewolves are partnering to create a genetic nightmare. Humans don’t stand a chance. Natalie’s mother may be the key to their success. When they kidnap her mom, Natalie finds herself trapped among the monsters as she tries to save her mother, her world, and her soul.
But can any of those things really be saved?
Editorial Note: Edited for language.
One second a werewolf named Ward was eating my shoulder. The next second he was across the room.
I smelled rotten eggs, and briefly wondered if I pooped myself in fright. I read about the body’s reflexes in life-and-death situations, and it seemed reasonable.
The room was blazing hot. I did not want to know what was in the room now. If it was worse than Ward, I just didn’t want to know.
A metallic voice threatened to shatter my eardrums. It was horrific. The voice sounded like sandpaper on a tin roof, deep and grating, and amplified at the same time.
“Get. Out.” It said.
I heard the sound of a scuffle. Low rumbles, growls, thunks, whaps and splats.
My eyes cracked open. They squinched shut again pretty quickly.
Ward had wolfed out, and looked like something from a B-movie. He had a brown muzzle, wicked claws, and massive, fuzzy biceps stretching the fabric of his shirt. He was snapping at the face of … of… I couldn’t breathe through the terror. I couldn’t fathom the thing throwing Ward around the room.
The thing had a crocodilian face, massive wings, and scales. Its eyes had no pupil and flashed a dirty neon-green. It was solid muscle, and while humanoid, it moved like a snake. It was alien.
My breath caught in my throat as Ward lunged to snap the creature’s snout off, and it simply wasn’t there. The creature was gone. Ward stumbled past where the creature had been.
A blink later, the creature was next to Ward, and it hurled the werewolf through the air like he was a sack of feathers. Ward smashed into the wall above me and fell on me. He growled and snatched me up by my face.
I screamed, and grabbed at Ward’s leg as my neck strained an impossible amount.
Ward tried to drag me out of my apartment by my face.
Let me repeat: By. My. Face.
His claws punctured the side of my head. Something hot and sticky poured into my hair. I was afraid it was blood.
I tried to tug closer to Ward’s leg, to alleviate some of the intense pressure in my neck. Any second now, and the fighting was going to be for nothing, because I’d be the first quadriplegic monster. I wondered how that would work, being the Stephen Hawkins of the oogie-boogies.
I giggled as blood ran into my eyes, imagining the conversation between me and a potential victim.
“Please come here and sit on my wheelchair so I can eat you,” my machine-voice would say. “Please don’t dislodge the catheter.”
The giggles stopped when a green bolt of something pegged Ward in the chest. He yelped, dropped my face, fell to all fours, and was gone.
I stayed on the ground where Ward had dropped me. A shard of a broken coffee cup cut into my side.
I curled in the fetal position, played ’possum, and shut my eyes again. I shivered, and hoped that whatever just saved me wasn’t going to kill me in a worse way than Ward.
A soft hand brushed my cheek, and something cool was pressed into my shoulder. My shoulder felt like a toothache, something sick and deep.
I stayed totally still as whatever was attached to the hand used the washcloth to clean the blood off my face.
“Natalie? Nat, I know you’re in there,” it said. The voice was human, normal, no metal to it at all.
I sniffled and opened my eyes.
Grennon was sexy, like dark chocolate, and Ward was do-able on a bad-boy scale, but this thing, at least its human form, was mouthwatering delicious.
Blond hair, clear green eyes, strong hands and a kickass tan. He looked taller than I was. Way taller. Like, tall enough I could wear high heels and not make him feel de-manned. His eyes were slanted in an almost Asian cast, very much an almond shape like mine. I didn’t recall ever seeing a set of eyes in that particular color, and that particular shape, in my entire life.
“Why is it all of the monsters are gorgeous?” I asked.
He smiled, showing perfect teeth. He had a dimple in the right cheek. A f**king dimple. Be still my beating loins.
“Evolution,” he said. “People like pretty things.”
I nodded. Made more sense than anything I’d ever heard.
Monsters were beautiful because humans were superficial. Who’da known?!
He sat back on his heels, giving me a little space.
“Can you sit up, babe?” he asked.
“I think so,” I said. I sat up slowly; the world swished around me and my stomach rolled up. “Give me a second.”
I took a few breaths. When I was sure I wouldn’t blow chunks, I got back to … to whatever he was.
“So, name and monster-type,” I said matter-of-factly. “And hey, don’t call me babe.”
In the space of 20 minutes he was the third nonhuman to burst into my life. Also? Why the hell didn’t any of them use my name?
I wasn’t going to fool myself thinking he was just some guy, but he was some hunk. I was definitely thinking about what he would look like in underpants,
“Xavier,” he said. “You don’t think I’m a monster.”
I tried to stand. Xavier reached out a hand to steady me, but otherwise made no other move to eat me.
“Xavier, please outline in 400 words or less how you plan to kill me,” I said.
I hobbled over to the graffiti wall and rested against it. My neck was sore, but not too bad. I felt around in my hair, which was a disgusting matted mess, and felt a tender, tacky place. There were punctures, and some missing skin. They didn’t seem too deep, and the bleeding had already stopped. I guess I hadn’t had chunks of meat ripped from my shoulder. That was a definite plus.
“Well, if I were going to kill you, it’d probably be from lack of food, water, and any other necessity,” Xavier said, meeting my eyes. “Because I’d keep in you in the bedroom for a few weeks.”
For some reason, my nipples got hard when he said that. It was threatening, seductive, and the other monsters had tried those tactics – Grennon tried to seduce, Ward tried to threaten, and it didn’t turn me on. This guy had a way with words.
Jenny Iroh is an English teacher in Central Florida.
She spent years slogging in community journalism, won some awards, and then took a tour-of-duty in government publicity before she sold out. Turns out covering city council and wrangling teens are pretty much the same skills.
Iroh loves coffee, loves silence, and loves parallel structure.
She lives with her hubs of multiple decades, and their three large dogs. The Irohs are proud to announce that they are empty nesters.
Links to Jenny’s website, blog, books, #ad etc.:
Halfway Inhuman out October 15, 2021 on Amazon.
Visit JennyIroh.com or https://jennyiroh.blogspot.com/
Special Giveaway: Jenny will give away a pre-ordered paperback copy of her debut novel Halfway Inhuman to one lucky reader who comments on her Karen’s Killer Book Bench blog. Halfway Inhuman will publish Oct. 15, 2021. Save the date!
Thanks, Jenny, for sharing your story with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!