Authors: Kenya Wright
Tags: #Habitat Series
|Habitat Series |
|Dragonfairy Press (2012)|
Set in a caged habitat, where supernatural beings have been trapped by humans, the dark fantasy Habitat series follows Lanore as she solves mysteries while struggling for equality in the face of prejudice among supernaturals.
Since the 1970s humans have forced supernaturals to live in caged cities. Silver brands embedded in their foreheads identify them by species: a full moon for Vampires, a crescent moon for Shifters, a pair of wings for Fairies, and the list goes on, for each supernatural species has been tagged and categorized by humans. Lanore Vesta is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds; second-class citizens shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress, she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to stop finding dead bodies in her apartment. Enlisting help from her Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend Meshack and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she is steered through the habitat’s raunchy nightlife. But their presence sometimes proves to be more burden than help as they fight for her attention. While the corpses pile up, and the scent of blood fills the air, Lanore is left wondering: Will she find the psycho or die trying?
Book One of the Habitat Series
This is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are products of the imagination or are used fictitiously.
Copyright © 2012 by Kenya Wright
All rights reserved
Cover design by Damonza
Dragonfairy Press LLC, Atlanta
Dragonfairy Press and the Dragonfairy Press logo are trademarks of Dragonfairy Press LLC.
Amazon Kindle Edition v1.1: January 2012
Published in the United States of America
To my genius stepson DeShawn,
who told me to write this book.
To my sister Alicia and my husband Jacob,
for helping me actually do it.
I raced past the university’s gates, splashing water onto homeless Vampires. The campus security Trolls would’ve caught me if I were Human. Mixbreeds didn’t have Pureblood speed, but we could outrun Trolls.
“Drop those books!” The Troll’s voice sounded muffled against the books’ alarm spell, which blared in a long staccato pattern.
“Where is she?” another Troll asked.
Heart pounding, I stayed close to the buildings, hoping my brown skin would blend with the night’s shadows. Cold rain dripped into my eyes. My wet dreadlocks fell onto my face, sticking to my cheeks and blocking my view. I pushed the dreadlocks away. Some of them fell back in my face. Others flung over my shoulders and down my back.
Almost out of breath, I trudged through a flooded street. Water filled my sneakers, making my feet feel like they were enclosed in sponges. The blare of the books’ alarm spell almost drowned out the Trolls’ distant shouts.
“There she is! Over there!”
“She’s going to Shango District!”
The Trolls headed my way. I sped up so fast, the streetlights above me blurred together in one long, illuminating line. My numb hands held the satchel of books closer to my body.
My Sociology of Shapeshifters course required the books. I’d been stealing from the campus bookstore for years. It was just my luck; the store’s security had been improved during my senior year. When I stole the books, their attached alarm spells gave me away. I took them anyway. I knew an Air Witch in Drum Housing Projects who would remove the alarm spells for twenty bucks.
I passed a flooded playground and then glanced over my shoulder, only seeing obscure shapes through the rain.
Did I lose the Trolls? Maybe.
I crossed the street, barely looking both ways. A car horn blared. I jumped on the sidewalk, slipped, and cursed as my body crashed into the wet pavement. Sharp, raging pains shot through my arms and legs. It took me a few moments to stand up.
“What a great day.” I’d ripped my
MIXBREEDS FOR EQUALITY
shirt, but there was no blood. I checked my satchel. The books were still there—loud, but secure. I looked behind me. Supernaturals with umbrellas ran for shelter as thunder roared, but there were no more Trolls chasing after me. Perhaps the tropical storm drowned out their motivation. Relief poured over me, knowing I’d escaped campus security again. Letting out a long breath, I kept to the shadows and moved on. All I needed now was to get out of the rain.
August marked the peak of hurricane season in Miami, the home of the Santeria Supernatural Habitat. Tropical rainstorms occurred weekly. Our caged city needed an irrigation system, but no Human contractors would enter the habitat’s walls and barred ceiling.
I speed-walked, my jeans sticking to my legs as the storm picked up. A furious wind blew through the palm trees and dragged debris through the habitat’s ceiling. I brought my arm to my forehead, shielding my eyes as I searched for shelter. Lightning flashed near nightclub signs that said,
No Mixbreed Customers Allowed.
A stray crimson and gold Pixie scurried by my feet. His soaked gold wings dragged on the ground behind him. I considered catching and taking him home, but decided against it. MeShack would kill me if I brought another stray to our apartment.
Seeing the Black Closet Shop ahead, I crossed my fingers. Two figures lurked under the shop’s awning as the red light glowed from inside. I sighed, hoping they still had cashew butter cookies on the counter. The owner always let me grab some since I helped her kid get an A in English.
“Is the shop open?” I asked as the shorter of the two guys walked to the edge. A silver crescent moon embedded in his forehead identified him as a Shapeshifter.
He waved me over. “It’s open.”
Walking toward him, I noticed the raindrops falling on his pale hand and images of dogs biting each other tattooed up his arm in liquid silver. Just when I was going to compliment him on the tattoo, he grabbed me, flinging me into the air. I screamed and crashed into the shop’s door. The
sign fell to the ground. He grabbed me again before I could catch my breath and threw me against the door. Pain surged up my back. His hand clamped over my mouth.
“You got anything that’ll make me happy?” he said with his lips next to my ear and his body pressed into mine. I shook my head from side to side. The slime of his hair dripped on my cheek. He moved his face in front of mine.
Our eyes met, putting him at my height of five-foot-two, but his short stature gave me no advantage. A Pureblooded Shifter’s strength outranked mine. He snatched my satchel away from me. The smoky scent of the drug Hemo Drop filled my nose. Red tinted the whites of his eyes. He looked over his shoulder. “Check her bag, Tony.”
Tony stepped out of the shadows. “You hear that alarm spell? She must’ve stolen something good.” He dove into my satchel, grabbed each book, and then threw them across the street.
Realizing that my left arm remained free, I focused on creating fire. A tiny flame formed near my palm and then faded out. I tried releasing more heat. The flame faded again.
Fire is created when flammable liquid and oxygen are exposed to heat. My pores naturally released heat and flammable pyrobem oil. Presently, water drenched my skin, depriving my fire of the oxygen and heat it needed for combustion. I rubbed my hand again.
“What’s she got?” the Shifter asked, tightening his grip on me.
“She’s just a university girl.” Tony turned my satchel over, making everything fall out. “I don’t see any wallet.”
The streetlight reflected off Tony’s forehead brand, displaying a silver crescent moon.
I looked back at the guy who was holding me and tried to figure out what type of Shifter he was. All Shifters had the same crescent moon brands. I hoped he shifted into something small as I continued to rub my hand against my jeans.
“What are you mixed with?” he asked, tightening his grip on me with his right hand and moving his other to my face. His calloused fingers rubbed the silver X brand embedded into my forehead, scratching my skin.
“You’re a sexy Mixie, aren’t you? Dark, like chocolate. You Haitian?” He looked at my chest, licking his cracked lips. “Big tits, too.”
Hot bile rose in my throat.
“Shorty, she doesn’t even have a penny.” Tony threw my empty satchel onto the ground.
So, this Shifter’s name is Shorty. What a surprise.
“No drugs either? I thought all those big-time university kids did drugs.” Shorty continued to lean into me. The storm transformed into a light shower. The streetlights became more visible. I watched Tony pull out a cigarette.
Please have a lighter.
“Nada, Shorty.” Tony patted his ragged shirt pockets. “Why would somebody put a spell on books? They ain’t worth shit.”
I looked at his cigarette and focused on the pocket he was searching, my heartbeat pounding in my ears. Tony rubbed the back of his jeans pockets. “Might as well let her go. She’s not going to the Habitat Police. Those Humans don’t care about Mixbreeds.”
“No, she won’t go to the habbies. But let her leave? You’re crazy!” Shorty focused his eyes on my breasts. “Might as well have fun with her.”
Tears appeared in my eyes but didn’t spill over. I focused on my left hand. Two fire marbles formed at my palm. I closed my shaking hand around them, attempting to intensify and hide them. I’d been held down before, but I’d never had to surrender.
Come on, Lanore, focus.
“I don’t really care,” Tony muttered, taking a couple steps toward me. His eyes focused on my face and followed the curves of my body. He nodded. “I would do her.”
“Ever had a Shifter?” Shorty’s hand left my arm and glided down my breasts. He pressed his body closer into me and licked the right side of my face.
I wanted to vomit and hoped I would. If the fire didn’t work, I would throw up all over him and run.
“Let me finish my cigarette. I’ll hold her down,” Tony said.
What a great guy.
He pulled out a lighter and placed the cigarette between his lips.
I swallowed, watching the lighter produce an orange flame, and mentally reached out for it. The fire leaned in my direction as if in a trance.
“Come on, Tony. Smoke it later.” Shorty put his hands down to his jeans. The sound of a zipper made my tears spill over my eyelids and fall down my face.
Tony dragged the lighter to the cigarette’s tip. I increased the flame until it was a foot long.
“What the fuck?” Tony opened his mouth. The cigarette fell to the ground. In a flash I pushed the flame to his face, commanding the fire to snatch at his flesh. He violently hit his face. Fire spread to his wrist and swirled around his elbows. He screamed, his head forming into a glowing mass of fire. He fell back to the wall, skin crackling like bacon in a hot pan. His eyes bubbled and bulged, while the flames swallowed his head.
I held in a scream, knowing that I would have nightmares about this.
Shorty released me. His mouth opened, looking from side to side, while Tony’s high-pitched screams rose above us. The smell of meat cooking filled the air. Tony moved away from the wall and fell into the street, thrashing madly at the flames.
“Oh, shit.” Shorty stumbled back, covering his nose and gaping at Tony. I increased the fireballs in my left hand, sparks flickering in the air. Smoke rose and carried ash around me. I threw one of the fireballs, aiming for the back of Shorty’s head. The ball flew over him and captured his attention. He snapped his head to me.
“Shit!” Shorty gazed at me, then at the fireball. A growl came from his chest. He fell to the wet ground in a crouching stance, skin rippling in large waves around his forehead brand. If he shifted quickly, I would be screwed. My left hand shook, making the last fireball bounce up and down.
“You Mixie bitch! Y—you did it,” he stuttered, pointing at me. “Your eyes are on fire.”
“Yeah. I did it.”
His pupils expanded and shifted into black pools.
Okay. He isn’t from the Were-cat family.
Brown bits of fur sprouted around his face and arms as his jaw began to extend and reshape. Claws erupted from the tips of his fingers. I almost choked on the ash that floated near my face. A cracking sound came as his back rose to a hump and his shirt ripped away. I brought my left hand to the front of me, letting him get a closer look at the fireball. He froze. The cracking stopped.
“Shifting is useless. I can make hundreds of these go to your face like a machine gun,” I lied.
He quickly held his paws up as if to shield himself from oncoming rapid fire.
Paws? Fuck, a Were-dog.
I pointed to Tony. His burning body lay on the pavement. The rain had smothered the flames, leaving charred flesh and a pile of ash in place of his face.
“You want to burn like him?” I asked.
“No!” Shorty yelled, guarding his face with his paws.
I sighed, wishing I really could blast fire like a machine gun. “Put the books in the bag and leave.”
“Huh? What books?” Shorty’s eyes widened. I raised the fireball in the air. He fell to the ground, covered his head, and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“Those books.” I pointed to them. “Put the bag there and leave.”
Shorty ran to the books and slung them into the satchel. Once the books were put beside me, he darted away in the direction that I was heading.
Rain tapped against my head as the book’s alarm spell began to fade in and out. I counted myself lucky, grabbed the satchel, turned the corner, and hoped I wouldn’t see Shorty again on my way to the apartment.
I passed Linderman Blood Factory on my left, slowly inhaling and exhaling. The cool wind carried the scent of blood as it blew past me.
I’ve got to get out of the Shango District before I end up getting raped or worse.
I shook my head from side to side, quickening my pace. Out of all the districts in Santeria Habitat, Shango had the most deaths and highest crime rate.
One day, I’ll move to a nice place.
Broken streetlights met me as I turned the corner.
Maybe I’ll get a good job after college or go to law school.
I passed the border wall on my right, which was glowing with multicolored graffiti.
was spray painted near the wall’s attached bars that extended thousands of feet in the air and covered the habitat’s districts like a ceiling.
The alarm spell buzzed a little then stopped. A low-level Air Witch must have cast the spell.
Silence greeted my ears. Smiling, I sped up, glad to finally get a break on a night that was becoming the worst night of my life.
A female screamed.
I stopped walking but couldn’t see anybody, so I leaned forward, straining my ears for another sound.
Is Shorty with victim number two?
He’d run this way. I should have given him Tony’s fate when I had the chance. Wind blew, bringing more rain.
“No!” a woman yelled.