An excerpt from Siren
By John Everson
Listen to the Audiobook excerpt here.
Salt hung in the air like fog; the taste of the ocean filled Andy’s mouth as she led him along the rocks. The stark light of the night sky picked up and followed the stitching on the denim of her jeans. It was all Andy could do not to grab at the shifting moon of her ass as she stepped up and down and across the labyrinth of seaside boulders, leading him to the secret spot she’d prepared. The place where she would release that denim. The place where they would share blood.
She was an older woman. A dark-haired, slim and sexy older woman named Cassie, whom Andy had met at the bohemian coffeehouse where he studied after school. She said she was twenty-three, but her eyes held a knowledge of things far older than her years. Andy had been both afraid and entranced by her attentions, but ultimately, the lure of her dark eyes had called him out. And tonight, he would perform a ritual with her. A spell, she said, to call a power to the earth from beyond. A power that she could use. A power that would benefit them both…if he did as she said. Bottom line: he didn’t really care about getting a piece of the power…he just cared about getting a piece of her. She had haunted his dreams—waking and sleeping—for weeks.
“Here,” Cassie announced. She turned to him and put her arms around his neck. Beyond her hair, he could see the waves breaking in faint white sparks against the rocky shoreline. “I can feel something strong here,” she said. “There’s power in this spot. I’ve known it for years.”
Andy shrugged. It looked like any other stretch of this godforsaken beach to him. Even in the daylight nobody swam here; the beach was treacherous. And the bay had had more than its expected share of shark reports, even though few ever swam in it.
But when Cassie pressed two warm lips to his own, Andy forgot about the beach, and only considered the heat of the body pressing against his own. And the flash of passion in the eyes that stared back at him. She may have been older, but she was a little thing, all lithe and sumptuous against his chest, and as he stared down into her eyes, he knew that tonight, tonight…he would become a man.
For a seventeen-year-old boy, that’s an amazing, wonderful, knees-shaking kind of thought.
Cassie, meanwhile, considered the spell she planned to cast. There was power in the ocean, the mother of all life. A heavy, deep, silent power. A power as treacherous and uncertain as it was vast. And there was something more in this place, though she wasn’t sure exactly what it was. It sang in the air like a faint locust call.
She led Andy to an open space on the beach right at the tide line and emptied her bag onto the sand. With her hands she dug eight holes in a circle in the sand and set the stub candles inside them, a disembodied set of crow’s feet in the center. She kissed Andy again and pushed him backward to relax on the ground. Then, with a smile, she got up again and walked along the waterline until she found what she needed. Returning to the circle, she threaded a twine of seaweed in and out, around the perimeter of candles.
Andy watched as she set more things inside the circle center—leaves and hair and bits of dark gnarled stuff that could have been flesh or vegetable. He wasn’t sure, and didn’t want to know.
Cassie lit the candles, which despite the protection of sitting deep in the sand wells she’d dug, flickered fast in the night breeze. She sat back on her haunches then, and surveyed her work. After a moment she nodded and reached into her leather handbag to withdraw a knife. Not your standard kitchen steak knife, or even a street fighter switchblade. No, this was something special; the blade tapered to its point in a curve that mimicked the swell of an ocean wave. Its dark wood handle was decorated in strange jagged characters surrounding a bloodred stone.
“Now we’re ready,” Cassie said. Her eyes danced with the reflection of flames.
“Tell me what to do,” Andy said. He hated how his voice sounded small against the whisper of the surf. Somewhere, a night bird cried; in pain or victory, it was impossible to tell.
“We have the elements of air, fire, earth and water in our circle, as well as the seeds of life and death. Now we add the elements of blood—and passion—to complete the spell.”
“Don’t you need to say something, or wave a wand or…”
Cassie laughed. “I’ll say a few things as we fuck, but really…the magic is in the combination. The trigger is my will, and us, being together…”
She leaned forward to kiss him and Andy’s eyes rolled back. God she tasted good in his mouth. When she broke the embrace, she set the knife between them and stripped off her shirt, motioning for him to do the same. Then she stood, shucked her jeans, shimmied out of a pair of pink bikini panties, and they sat again, naked on the ground. Andy shivered as his butt touched the grit of the cold sand.
“Give me your hand,” she whispered, and he did.
“Give me your life,” she said, and drew the blade across his palm. Andy winced, but didn’t say anything as the blood welled.
She sliced a cut in her own palm and then pressed their hands together, holding their arms out over the center of the circle of flame. “My life in yours,” she whispered. When she relaxed her grip, drops of their mingled blood splattered the totems in the sand.
Then Cassie’s breasts were warm against Andy’s chest, and he was on his back, her hair curtaining his face, her mouth sucking in his tongue with a hunger he’d never known. He grew hard against her and in moments, she rolled him over so that now he was on top and whispered, “Now, Andy. Now.”
Andy slid against the velvet skin of her thighs and felt the warmth of her against him. He pressed and shifted and felt a momentary pang of fear. What if he couldn’t find the way inside her…
…And then warmth engulfed him and he was there. The feeling was amazing, as if a liquid hand had slipped around his cock, teasing and taunting him in a way real hands could never attempt. He pressed against her, trying to find his way deeper, closer to her. He kissed her, pushing into her mouth. She returned the probe of his tongue, but then her eyes flared and she pressed him back.
“Harder,” she demanded. “Make me feel you.”
He tried to comply but still she demanded more.
Andy stabbed into her faster, slamming against her with more force. Their skin smacked and echoed with the rhythm of the surf, and her cries crescendoed, tight, anxious gasps of pleasure. Still she insisted on more. She gripped him by the shoulders, lifting him and pulling him back. Her mouth lolled open as he followed her lead, and she moaned. “Grab my hair,” she hissed.
He slid a hand into her hair and pulled her neck back in time with his hips. “My neck,” she said then. “Slam me hard, Andy. I need to feel it all.”
Andy slipped his hand from her hair and held both hands around her throat, gripping her like a rag doll. She held him just as tightly at the neck, guiding his passion, pushing him back to lift her head from the sand, and then letting go as he slammed her whole body beneath him. In seconds her cries grew uncontrollable as his passion released. As the first waves of orgasm engulfed him in a fever dream, he pounded into her faster, faster, faster, lifting her head and slamming her to the sand with him, a single body in desire. Her hands and thighs urged him on, her screams moved from “yes, yes” to guttural grunts and moans. He lost himself in the motion, crying out with her in sharp staccato bleats of pleasure.
He didn’t notice immediately when her cries of ecstasy turned. But as his own wave crested, the echo of his partner died. As the euphoria slipped away like water through sand, Andy blinked and slowed, releasing his fingers from their grip on her throat as her own arms fell away from their grip on him.
Cassie was motionless beneath him, and he bent to kiss her. “Cassie?” he whispered. But the velvet of her lips didn’t respond.
“Cassie, wake up,” he urged.
The sand beside her black hair was dark, and when Andy lifted her into his arms he felt the reason. The sticky, hot, horrible reason.
The point of the hidden boulder that had been hidden beneath the sand glinted in the moonlight, its tip black with blood, and when he panicked and dropped her motionless body, Cassie didn’t move. One arm lay pinned beneath her back while her legs remained twisted in an unnatural crouch. One thin drip of saliva slid down her cheek, and Andy saw that her breasts were still. Completely, unsexily still. No breath to raise them.
“Shit, shit, shit,” he whispered, and bent to her chest. Her heart made no sound.
Andy pulled on his pants and paced the beach, jumping at every night sound. He thought of his hopes for college, his dreams of scholarships and football. His ticket away from this tourist-trap town. Every time he turned back to the light of the dying candles, those dreams changed to an image of rusted prison bars.
When he finally collapsed again beside Cassie’s body, tears wetting all of his face and chest, she remained undeniably dead. He ran a hand over the white skin of her chest, and his hand came back slick and cold. He knew he couldn’t leave her there. And he couldn’t tell anyone what he’d done. Her life was over, no matter what. Why did his have to be over too? “This is not my fault,” he cried out in anguish to the waves, though there was no one there to hear.
Under the midnight moon, Andy made his decision.
He was not going to die with her. Shoveling all of the candles and totems into her big leather shoulder bag, he lifted Cassie over his shoulder and, bag in hand, walked her body down the beach. There was a rock promontory—Gull’s Point—that extended out into the black of the ocean, and he thought that would be as good a spot as any.
When he reached the edge of the rocky finger, he laid her body down on the stone and took one last long look at her thin, still face.
His first older woman. Maybe his last.
“Shit,” he whispered again.
Andy gathered some fist-size rocks and shoved them into her bag before dragging its long handles over her head and around her neck. At first, her head wouldn’t slip through the hoops, but he screamed one long cry of anger and with a yank of pure fury, finally the leather stretched and gave way. The bag slipped around her throat, and strands of black hair specked with red were caught between his fingers. Crying silently all the while, he stuffed another rock into the bag. One thing you learned while living near the ocean is that things had a tendency to float.
He stuffed a couple rocks in the back of her jeans, and wrestled them partway up her legs before tying another heavy rock inside her shirt, and knotting that around her ankle. Satisfied that she would sink, Andy wrestled her off the ground again, and staggered to the edge of the rocky promontory. With a cry of anguish and pain, he lofted her away from the rock, to splash down and into the whitecaps just a few feet below.
She sank without a whisper. Andy ran. It was hours before his tears stopped.
Beneath the surf, Cassie sank and shifted with the fickle flow of current, finally coming to rest at the broken mouth of an old rotted ship’s hull. Seaweed fanned her head as the rock-laden purse and jeans dragged her down. From the back of her head, dark blood seeped into the sea, the steady suction and push of the water releasing more of her lifeblood to the bosom of the first mother. The ocean accepted her body home.
Blood slid like smoky ribbons over the face of a snow-white rock next to her head. That rock protruded only slightly from the heavy brown sediment of a century. But as the blood coiled and diluted in the waves, some of it lingered like a stagnant cloud.
If anyone had been watching, they would have seen the white stone shift slightly. And a few minutes later, again. They would have seen something like a funnel appear in the muck, as the tip of the stone lifted, a cloud of ocean dust swirling away in its wake.
They would have seen the skeletal joint that held that rocky white finger to a hidden piece of home beneath the mud, and they would have seen that mud shiver and slide away as the bone sought release and brought four more bony white appendages with it.
They would have seen that hand cradle the head of Cassie like a mother, only…instead of giving care, this hand was taking it. Feeding. Bony fingers stroked the softly swaying locks of her black hair.
Only, nobody was there to see.
Nobody saw that a century of sleep had at last come to the end, thanks to the call of Cassie’s spell…and the power of her blood.