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Authors: Bryan Fields

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The Land Beyond All Dreams

BOOK: The Land Beyond All Dreams
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Back Cover

Urban Fantasy by Bryan Fields

 

In this sequel to
Life With a Fire-Breathing Girlfriend
, David Fraser has a world of trouble on his hands. Well, more like three worlds of trouble…

His mother is dying of lung cancer. His employer’s experimental weight-loss drug is turning people into flesh-eating psychopaths. And Ingrim Thain, an undead necromancer, has murdered the program’s research director and taken over his body. If all that weren’t enough, a cat with working thumbs just moved into David’s house.

Thain doesn’t even want to be enemies—he offers David wealth and power beyond anything he’s ever known. He even offers to cure David’s mother and spare those he loves from the coming war. All Thain wants is for David to stay quiet about the drug’s side effects.

Do the right thing and his mother dies. Do the wrong thing, and his mother lives while billions of others die.

For David, the solution is simple. Thain’s appetite for conquest endangers not only Earth, but Rose’s world and every other world Thain learns about. Thain must be stopped. 

But how do you kill someone whose will has already proven stronger than death itself?

 

The Land Beyond All Dreams © 2014 by Bryan Fields

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, or events, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

MuseItUp Publishing

14878 James, Pierrefonds, Quebec, Canada, H9H 1P5

 

Cover Art © 2014 by Carolina Bensler

Edited by Christine I Speakman

Copy edited by Nancy Canu

Layout and Book Production by Lea Schizas

eBook ISBN: 978-1-77127-567-5

First eBook Edition *September 2014

 

 

 

 

 

For Noelle’s father, Carlis Meade.

If there’s anything that needs fixing in the next world,

he’ll find it, and probably has a part for it around here someplace.

 

Acknowledgements

 

Many thanks to my editors, Christine Speakman and Nancy Canu, for many hours fixing errors I promised myself I wouldn’t make this time. Thanks also to Lea Schizas, Ladybug Lin Holmes, Misty Mymudes, H.K. Carlton, and the many other MuseItUp authors who have offered their advice and suggestions over the past several months.

I’d also like to express my thanks and appreciation for my readers and commentators and for their invaluable feedback on the story as it progressed. Thanks for keeping me on the path.

As always, my deepest thanks go to my wife Noelle and our daughter Alissa, for their continued support and encouragement. 

 

T
HE
L
AND
B
EYOND
A
LL
D
REAMS

 

Other Titles

Life With a Fire-Breathing Girlfriend

 

B
RYAN
F
IELDS

 

MuseItUp Publishing

www.museituppublishing.com

 

Credits

 

Portions of “The Lay of Oisin” excerpted from
The High Deeds of Finn and other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland
, by T. W. Rolleston, et al. Courtesy of Project Gutenberg

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14749/14749-h/14749-h.htm#CHAPTER_XV

 

 

Chapter One

Cat, In Hat

 

The inevitable zombie invasion of Earth began at dawn on the day of the Mayan Apocalypse, and the herald of the End of Days was a cat in a hat.

Well, sort of.

Before anyone gets excited, it was just
a
cat wearing
a
hat. And there is no “Mayan Apocalypse”—just the calendar rolling over, like a car’s odometer. I wouldn’t say the cat in question was really a zombie, either. He was more of a living mummy.

But other than those few quibbles, that was how it was. Cat in a hat. Zombie invasion. Mayan calendar. “Hark, the Herald Zombies sing, time to start the brain munching…”

For those joining our adventures already in progress, my name is David, and I’m living with a thousand-year-old Dragoness who is running around in Human form. She came here from a world of fantasy and magic, looking for a Human she could draw love and wonder from. The energy should have been used to strengthen her eggs, but she lost her ability to have children. She still hasn’t fully come to terms with it, but part of that process is going on with life.

And the wheel of life is what brought us here today. Just before dawn on the winter solstice, about twenty of us gathered at the top of Red Rocks amphitheater. We were there to drum, dance, and sing up the sun, welcoming the start of the New Year and the 14th bak’tun.

As a rule, Denver doesn’t have white Christmases, the notable exceptions being the blizzards of 1982 and 2006. Nor do we tend to have white winter solstices, but this year we did, and the predawn hours in late December were damn cold.

Rose was the only one dressed for dancing, but we clapped and cheered her on through five or six songs about the sun or sunrise. Being a Dragon, Rose was immune to the cold and could have danced the rest of the morning, while the rest of us mere Humans were ready to leave far sooner.

With the sun well up and everyone ready for coffee and breakfast, we walked back to the upper parking lot. Our cars were just as we left them.

Well, sort of.

“What the frak?” Ember pointed toward our car. “When did you two get a cat?”

“We don’t have a cat,” I said.

Ember moved to the side and pointed again. The rear passenger door of our Range Rover was partially open, giving us a good view of the seat and the cat perched on it. “Something tells me you do.”

“Pretty sure we don’t.” I knelt and pulled the door open, while Rose peered over my shoulder. The space that was supposed to be empty was unquestionably occupied by a highly factual feline. I stared at him for a moment, but he showed no signs of Cheshiring off anytime soon. I had no idea what to say, so I stuck with the incredibly obvious. “Huh. It is a cat.”

Rose said, “In a hat.”

The cat flicked his tail. He was wearing a worn leather drover’s hat, and the faded, cracked remains of a sky-blue leather collar. Bright green eyes peered out at us from under the brim of his hat. A jagged scar pulled his lip up into a permanent sneer, and a dried stem of catnip dangled through his exposed teeth. He looked to be little more than bone under thin, worn-down flesh. Whatever color nature had given to his fur was long-since bleached away, leaving him an irregular patchwork of brown, grey, and tan, mostly due to the dirt and sand encrusting his fur.

I looked around and asked, “I don’t suppose he came up here with one of you?” All around the circle, people shook their heads. I stepped back and opened the car door all the way. “Sorry, buddy, but this isn’t your ride.”

Ember snickered. “Oh, yeah, that’s telling him.”

The cat stayed where he was, staring out from under the brim of his hat. The catnip stem twitched, and nothing more. I started thinking of places where I could get my hands on a water pistol.

Rose stepped up and tapped me on the shoulder. “Let me try.” I moved aside and she knelt to look the cat in the eyes. “We’re not the right family for you,” she said. “See if someone else here will take you home.” I know cats don’t understand English, but with the magic of the imperative form, that shouldn’t matter.

The cat started to stand up, shook his head, and settled back into position. Rose tried again, speaking Draconic this time. The cat flicked an ear at her.

Rose sat back on her heels. “I don’t think he’s an ordinary cat. Maybe we should give him a chance.”

“Fine,” I said. “He gets a chance. But not here. Let’s get into town and get some breakfast. I’ll buy him some chow and we can toss around theories. Starting with how he got a locked car door open.” I looked at the thin layer of snow and frost covering the parking lot, crisp and clear and even. Our footprints and tire tracks were obvious, but the area was singularly devoid of cat prints. It didn’t prove anything, but it was something else to consider. It wouldn’t be the first time I caught a cat teleporting.

Miriam asked, “Is he wearing any tags or anything?”

“I don’t see any,” I said. “I’ll try to check his collar.” He didn’t look hostile or feral, but I still took my time and watched for any sudden change in demeanor. The only identifying mark I found was the faded remains of the number thirteen embossed on his collar. He tolerated the search, but made it clear he didn’t like to be touched. At least he agreed to move to a blanket-lined box long enough for us to drive over to the diner.

The cat breezed past the SERVICE ANIMALS ONLY sign and hopped up on the window ledge next to our table. The waitress flipped to a new ticket and asked who was paying for his breakfast.

I looked at the cat and asked, “Scrambled eggs and sausage?”

He nodded. He stuck one paw out and tapped the window ledge twice.

“Two of each?” I asked.

He nodded again.

The waitress’s name tag said
Retta
. I smiled at her and shrugged. “Two eggs, scrambled, with two sausages cut up and mixed in. Put it on our bill.”

Retta looked at the cat. “You want anything to drink, honey? Milk, water, soda, hot coffee?”

The cat shook his head, and then flexed one paw and tossed his head back.

“Six bucks for a shot of Jack,” Retta said. “You going to pay for that, too?”

“Sure, why not.” I shook my head at the cat. “You’re an expensive date, buddy.”

“A shot of Jack Daniels in a saucer coming up.” Retta looked at me and added, “Don’t you be letting that cat drive home after this.”

“Not a chance,” I said. “He lost his license over catnip abuse.”

Once our food was delivered, the cat polished off his breakfast and started nosing around, collecting leftovers and bringing them back to his plate. I looked him over as he made short work of a blueberry pancake and shook my head. “Pretty clever, cat. You picked the biggest bunch of suckers you could find. What’s the next step in your master plan?”

The cat ignored me and went back to looking out the window. Around us, the conversations went on, eventually turning to our hopes for the New Year and the new age of the world.

One of the regulars, a weathered fellow who looked to be in his sixties, kept eyeing Vickie and the harp case sitting on the floor next to her. Being both a teacher and a born performer, she gave him the Smile of Charming Coins Out of Many Pockets. “Sir, did you want to hear something?”

He nodded. “I do, but, I don’t know what it is. My grandfather was from Kerry. He used to tell me fantastic bedtime stories, about Irish heroes and ladies and such. One he told me was about a prince taken away by a woman who had a head of gold. He always said it was proof blondes were trouble, even in the old days.” He laughed, but the emotion running through the deep places in his heart was plain to see. “All I remember is the part about the hounds. Hounds that can outrun the wind. It’s not much, but…” His voice trailed off, but the hope in it was sincere.

Vicki set her harp on the edge of her seat. “I think I know the tale you mean,” she said. “
The Lay of Oisin in the Land of Youth
. The great warrior Finn and his son Oisin were hunting, when they met a beautiful woman, Niamh of the Head of Gold. She sang to them of her father’s kingdom, Tír na nÓg, asking Oisin to live with her there.” Vicki touched her nails to the wire strings and added, “This was her song.”

 

“Delightful is the land beyond all dreams,

Fairer than aught thine eyes have ever seen.

BOOK: The Land Beyond All Dreams
4.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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