Authors: Phaedra Weldon
Tags: #genies, #feral, #dags mcconnell, #the abysmal and ethereal plane, #zoe martinique, #djins, #pheral, #the peripheral plane, #urban fantasy
MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT
Copyright © 2013 by Phaedra Weldon
All rights reserved.
Cover Design Copyright © 2013 Design by Trap
Cover Image Copyright
This book is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All
characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any
resemblance to real people or incidents is purely fictional. This
book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without
I think weird shit lives somewhere between
the movies and Channel 10 on my TV. I never thought or even
considered in the slightest that some of that shit on there was
real. Take zombies for instance. I mean, seriously? The walking
dead? Vampires had more of a chance of fitting into the waking,
sane world of the mortal, especially if you explained them as
Totally makes sense, right?
But an animated, walking corpse that feeds
off of brains? How is it supposed to eat the brains if it's dead
and the stomach's not working? And if it's dead, that means the
heart isn't working, which also means there's no blood pumping into
the brain, and it's not getting oxygen because the lungs aren't
working. So it's just not feasible for such a thing to exist.
"Dags! Stop daydreaming and whammy this
My name's Darren McConnell, though most
people just call me Dags. I can't remember where that nickname came
from. Before all of this happened to me, I was just your average
run-of-the-mill ghost-sensing human during those awkward,
adolescent years when trying to fit in was harder than passing the
eighth grade. Either way, I was small, weird, and a bit of a geek,
so I spent an inordinate amount of time inside my own locker or the
trashcan just outside the gym door.
I grew to about five-seven—missing the
magical height of six feet. That's when I learned height didn't
matter when it came to perception. Wouldn't have mattered if I'd
grown to be six-seven because my face seemed to be a problem. I
looked more like my mom than my dad, and my choice in hairstyle
wasn't popular. I told a kid his dad had died and the kid didn't
know it yet, so several of his classmates tied me to a tree and
gave me a raw razor buzz cut. After that, I never told anyone else
what I could see and vowed never to cut my hair again. So I sported
a ponytail until recently. I don't know why or when I cut it all
So by the time I got involved with a
ceremonial cult at the age of twenty-four, I was well established
as a long-haired hippy freak.
Weird things happened with
that cult. Weird things that lead me to having a witch shove
soul to save my life.
Yes. I have a book in my
soul. And not just
book. A book of magic spells. Got that? Good. Because I need
to duck now.
The zombie swung the top
half of a concrete tombstone at my head. I crouched down and ducked
to avoid having my brains spattered all over a nearby set of
ancient headstones. I was sure my blood would add a certain sense
of ambience to the graveyard, but I liked having my brain
As I hoped, the force of
spinning that hunk of rock around took the creature into a second
rotation. I stood up as it moved the stone away from me. There
wasn't going to be a lot of time between passes before the thing
swung back around at me so trying to pull a spell from the
And using a sword against the zombie or the headstone wasn't gonna
So…the third option I had
was to attempt to
as my best friend wished, with fire.
I moved as far back out of the thing's range
as possible. Bonaventure Cemetery was a tight bone yard, speckled
with plot-to-plot family gatherings of headstones and mausoleums.
Luckily we weren't in one of the larger plots where massive stone
and marble monuments were built to the memory of some patriarch or
matriarch of the family. That would have been way too close an area
for me. I like open space for that fourth option.
I turned and faced my
opponent as I shouted a single word.
It was Sumerian for fire,
and boy did it make fire.
Initially I wasn't sure
where the power came from. I assume the
worked as the catalyst and my
own energy, chi, ka, whatever you want to call it, fueled the
Of course, I could be uber wrong.
Fire engulfed the rotting corpse with a bit
more force than I intended. Tiny pieces of flying concrete stung my
face and bare forearms as the headstone exploded. Then silence.
I had my eyes closed. Which of course was a
habit I seriously needed to correct. But I didn't want them to get
hit with flying zombie guts.
When I opened them, nothing moved in front
of me. Bits and pieces of zombie embers floated in the sky like
sick little fireflies. I heard a brushing noise just before
something clamped onto my ankle like a vise. I looked down to see a
bony hand—what was left of the zombie I'd just blasted—gripping me
for all it was worth. I screamed like a little girl and hopped
around on my non-zombie-grasped foot while I tried knocking the
hand and lower arm off the other.
A hand grabbed my upper arm. "Hold
That was Mike Ross. My best friend. One of
his Desert Eagles gleamed in the moonlight as he pointed it at my
My eyes bugged. "Not the ankle, not the
He fired, and bits of flesh, bone, and goo
splattered on the concrete of a nearby headstone. A closer look
showed that most of the exploded zombie covered the nearby azaleas
and trees. I don't know why I yelled. Mike never missed what he
aimed at, and barely missed what he didn't.
He looked around the cemetery, the weapon
pointed skyward with a bit of wispy smoke curling up from the
barrel for effect. Dude was ultra cool. Tall, well-muscled, and
rugged. Women always saw him first.
Well, he was a good foot
taller than me, so
saw him first.
His body was tense. Mike either sensed other
zombies in the cemetery or he was looking out for us. I propped
myself against one of the adjacent headstones not covered in zombie
guts and surrounded with a large cropping of weeds, to take a look
at my ankle. Other than some seriously gross body fluids smeared
over my boots, it felt okay.
Instant, burning pain sliced
through my calf on the other leg. I dropped the just-rescued leg
and looked down to see a zombie sinking its teeth into my
jeans. One of its hands—no, its
hand—grabbed at the ankle below its tasting point
of choice and pulled. I lost my seat on the headstone and slipped
down onto my ass. The back of my head connected painfully with the
"Sonofa —there's another one!" Mike
Mike's discovery did not give me comfort because
he wasn't aiming at the one biting me. He had turned and started
shooting at different one as the zombie chomping on my calf dragged
me away from him.
Mike's voice was somewhere over my head,
meaning he finally noticed I wasn't with him anymore. He was coming
up behind me as I traveled. I tried grabbing at anything I could as
I passed it. A different headstone, a bush, a piece of statuary.
Unfortunately, the same things I tried to grab hold of also worked
as instruments of blindsiding. After the third stone knocked
painfully into my right elbow, I gritted my teeth and kept my hands
inside the ride. This gave me a more than disgusting look at the
muncher on my leg. I realized immediately—from what I could see
between crashing into obstacles—that this zombie was less decayed
with more meat on his frame. What I initially believed was a
one-armed zombie was actually a two-armed zombie. As it tried to
grab my other leg, I started stomping at its head in
"Dags—you need to smite it!"
Who gave that man a dictionary?
One problem I'd come across
when using the fire spell I'd received from the
was that it drained my
energy. One or two big blasts and I was ready for a nap. Anything
more than that and I was out cold. I had maybe one good blast left
in the arsenal and I intended on keeping it handy.
So smiting was out. But chopping was a good
secondary. On command, a huge sword appeared in my outstretched
right hand. I instantly put my other hand on the hilt—it wasn't a
light-weight sword—and started hacking at the thing's head. I had
to be careful for two reasons: one I didn't want to hack my own
leg—it already had a bite in it that was stinging to high hell—and
two, I didn't want the sword knocked out of my hands by passing
Luckily I wasn't clobbered by either as I
successfully lopped off the thing's arms at their elbows. Somewhere
in there we stopped moving and I continued rolling to my right. I
didn't lose hold of the sword, but I did connect pretty hard with
the side of a mausoleum. Those things are made of marble.
No stars this time, just the fringe of an
inky blackness closing in from all sides. I could feel what was
left of the bastard chewing on my muscle.
That is not a sound I recommend anyone ever
have burned onto the hard drive of their brain. One of being
I managed to lift the sword
and saw the head moving up and down just past my chest. I hacked at
it again, but nothing was working. My position was too awkward. It
was time for that second smiting and it didn't have to be a big
one. The sword vanished and I held out my hand.
Fire flared from my palm and incinerated the
zombie where it was. This was nothing like the floating embers from
my fire before—this was vaporization Sci-Fi style. It was also an
exhausting exercise and I lay on my back, panting, my eyelids
The pain of the bite didn't disappear with
the blast. I lay somewhere behind a huge marble structure with a
bleeding zombie bite on my leg. My head hurt and I wanted to throw
up. I wasn't even sure if Mike knew where I was or had seen where
I'd been dragged.
This was really bad.
"Mi-Mike," I called out, but I wasn't sure
if I used my outside voice or not. My ears felt stuffed with
cotton. I recognized the signs of shock—and I was heading down that
road. The bite was going to be bad enough—I mean, it was a ZOMBIE
bite, for crying out loud. Mike was going to have to kill me now.
If we pile on the fact I used magic spells twice and summoned the
I was heading toward the great Land of La-La
and not expecting to wake up.
Something brushed against my neck, but I
wasn't able to move. My eyes were closed, and a weight settled on
top of me. "Mike…" I whispered. "It bit me…gonna have to kill
Soft laughter stayed my dive into oblivion
for a few seconds as I felt knuckles brush against my cheek, and
then a cool hand covered my eyes. "No…not tonight, my love. That's
not something I can allow." The voice was female and the accent
southern and sexy, but not one I recognized.