I've been working on the sequel to The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel for about six months now, and I'm a little over halfway through. If you've been following along in my A Writer's Week posts, you've got a good sense of my trials and tribulations.
I thought now would be a good time to give you a little taste of the new book. This is an excerpt from Chapter 27. Let me know what you think.
Hallo handed the torches out to everyone, and Eric was able to get a good look at the sewers. They were much like Cy had described. There was a channel running down the middle of the tunnel in which brackish water flowed. Garbage floated in the water. On either side of the channel was a concrete walkway. The tunnel was dark, although Eric found he could see a little bit as his eyes adjusted to the darkness.
“Not the most cheery place in the world,” Eric said.
“Not even close,” Kate agreed.
“Now, now,” Hallo said cheerfully. “What kind o’ talk is that? M’ folk have a sayin’, ‘It’s better underground.’ Aint no truer words ‘n that I’m a thinkin’.”
Eric and Kate looked at each other, and then laughed. “Whatever, Hallo,” Eric said. “Which way do we go, Cy?”
Cy pointed off down the channel. “That’s the way to Pig Town. We better get movin’.We gotta catch up t’ Ari, an’ it don’t pay to stay in one place for long down here.”
Cy and Chunk started off at a brisk pace down the walkway, followed by Eric, Kate and Hallo. It was funny, but after a little bit, Eric found that he couldn’t notice the smell so much anymore. He did notice other things, though.
For one thing, he thought he heard a scrabbling and scraping as they walked. He couldn’t be sure if it was just the echoes of the group’s footsteps, or if it was the sound of unseen creatures in the darkness beyond the reach of their torchlight.
“Hey, does anyone else hear anything?” he asked.
“No, no I don’t,” Hallo said. “Unless by hearin’ anythin’, ya mean do I hear the sounds o’ some creatures followin’ us out in the darkness, then yes, yes I do, laddie.”
“I was afraid of that,” Eric said, and tightened the grip on his immobilizer as they continued down the channel.
Suddenly, the quiet of the sewer was rent by a horrible screech. Eric thought it sounded like part howl and part squeak.
“We’re bein’ tracked,” Cy said over his shoulder to them. “We gotta pick up the pace!”
They started jogging down the walkway, which was a difficult thing, because the stones were broken and slimy in places. The scrabbling picked up speed also. Eric thought it sounded like mice scurrying behind a wall, only much louder. Whatever creatures were out there were much larger than mice, and there were a lot of them.
Suddenly, a host of gray forms darted out from the shadows straight toward them. Kate screamed, and Hallo shouted. Cy and Chunk both gave a quick twist, and hurled two immobilizers at them. Instantly, two of the creatures froze, each suspended in a green haze.
The rest were still coming on. Kate threw an immobilizer, and another creature was frozen. One leapt on Hallo, its jaws snapping inches from the dwarf’s throat. Eric, not wanting to immobilize Hallo, fired at the creature with his laser rifle, and the beast fell lifeless to the stones.
“Thanks lad!” Hallo grunted. “Look out behind ya!”
Eric spun around just as one of the creatures bounding toward him leaped.
“Duck!” Hallo shouted.
Eric ducked, and Hallo threw an immobilizer at the beast. It hit the creature in mid leap, and left it hanging in midair, immobilized. This was too much for the rest of the pack, which turned and fled, their screeching howls reverberating through the sewers.
Eric rose and surveyed the scene. All of them came over to take a closer look at the creatures. They were rat-like beasts, about the size of a large dog. Their lips were curled back to reveal cruel, yellow fangs. While they looked vicious, the ones that were immobilized also looked confused and even a little afraid.
“What are they?” Kate asked.
Cy poked one of the creatures with his foot. “Looks like some of the rats Trelango messed with.”
“You mean like Max?” Eric asked. “These look more, uh, rat-like than human.”
“Sure, sure,” Cy said. “Max’s different than these guys. See, Max was a person with a little rat added. What these here guys are, is a rat with a little wolf added. Trelango started off addin’ animal genes to people, but after a while, he started experimentin’ with other animals. He thought maybe addin’ wolf genes to rats would make ‘em easier to control and he could use ‘em like watchdogs. Well, the only thing it did was to make ‘em bigger an’ meaner, so he dumped the lot in the sewer figurin’ he wouldn’t have to worry about anyone messin’ around down here no more.”
They started off again. This time, Eric did not hear anything but the gurgling of water in the channel. If any other rat beasts had been following them, the battle appeared to have scared them off.
Eric was starting to relax a bit when he felt something grab him. Looking down, he saw a grayish green tentacle wrapped around his leg. It jerked him off his feet and dragged him toward the channel. He swung his laser gun around and pointed it at the tentacle, but wasn’t able to fire it for fear that he’d shoot himself.
“Snake!” Hallo yelled, and grabbed Eric by the arm. The strong dwarf kept Eric from being dragged in immediately, but both he and Eric were slowly being pulled to the edge of the walkway.
“Not snake, serpent,” Cy corrected. “The channel’s full of ‘em”
“Well whatever it is, we’ve got to do something,” Kate said. “It’s dragging Eric in!"