Indie Author Excerpts: The Wilds by Jules Hedger

Posted on 11/07/2014 in Indie Author Excerpts / 1 Comment

Indie Author Excerpts Welcome! Indie Author Excerpts is a feature allowing indie authors the chance to showcase one of their books and allows readers to find their next favorite story. Each week, an indie author gets to promote a 1-2 page excerpt of their book here at BookShelfery. This is a win-win for everyone! This feature was inspired in part by Indie Author Spotlight, a meme hosted by Beckie @ Bittersweet Enchantment and CYP @ A Bookalicious Story.  Are you an author that would like to be featured in Indie Author Excerpts? If so, check out this page and fill out the form.   [indie-author-excerpt] His eyes were twin infernos of fire, burning in the gas light, and before Lucan could move Timothy lunged forward to wrap his torso in a gigantic bear hug. Lucan struggled, fighting desperately against the grip, but Timothy was as solid as a pillar of concrete. The Ringmaster pulled the whip through his hands slowly, his gaze scorching and unwavering on Lucan pushing and twisting in Timothy’s arms. “Take him outside,” he said softly. It was too soft, like the calm before a terrifying, death-defying storm. “A lesson needs to be taught for boys who put their hand in the cookie jar.” And with that Lucan was pulled out of the red chamber and back through the dark room to the ring. I was left alone and knew I could run. I knew that I could grab my backpack and run back through the sands of the Wilds. But my brain wasn’t speaking to my limbs and I found myself staring blankly as a particularly shiny cat’s eye marble that had settle by my heel. But then I heard a sharp crack in the distance and all at once my feet were moving towards Leof before I could think. I had no time to close my eyes, calm down, think this over. My hands reached to his belt – he was still breathing – and pulled out the pistol. Crack. I moved quickly through the middle chamber. No one noticed as I broke back through the tarp into the large performance ring. Crack! Lucan was on his knees and I could already see the blood dripping softly down his tanned skin and down the sides of his muscled calves. Timothy stood a few feet away, biting his fist and rocking back and forth. The Ringmaster had removed his red coat and top hat. His hair gleamed in the torch light and glistening sweat had begun to gather on his brow as he raised his arm and brought it down, expertly lashing his bull whip across Lucan’s torn back. Crack! Crack! Lucan let out a strangled cry and stiffened against his binds. None of them noticed me raise the pistol. Until I cocked it backwards with an ominous hammer click. I had never held a gun before. My mother was strictly anti-gun, but my uncle had one in the house. It was stashed underneath the sink and every time I got a glass of water, I faintly remembered it was there, wrapped in a piece of greasy dish towel and loaded. At least, I think it was loaded. Marty once got so high he convinced my uncle to get it out. They ended up trying to shoot the rats in the street below, but they couldn’t see straight and left the gun beneath the window. I kicked it under the rug because I couldn’t stand to touch it. And now here I was, shooting my own kind of rats out the window. The Ringmaster’s arm froze and when he turned around, his face was a mask of fury. The blood had rushed to his face and sweat dripped down onto his collar. He no longer looked terrifying, only ugly and cruel and out of control. But I was the one with the gun. “And when she was good, she was very, very good,” he breathed. “And when she was bad, she was horrid.” I regarded him evenly down the nose of Leof’s pistol. I was remarkably calm and centered. Or at least I think I felt calm; perhaps it was just incredibly similar to bat-shit crazy. “This is not how you gain followers here,” he said. “You know what I’ve realized?” I laughed, “I’ve realized that unless I have one of these no one is going to follow me anywhere. I’m better off alone.” “You will never be alone in Palet,” he said. “I am always alone.” My voice came out in a grim whisper like the rustling of dry leaves. I straightened my arm and looked down the barrel of the gun. It was surprisingly easy to envision myself pulling the trigger and releasing the burning, grey bullet into the air. It didn’t scare me at the time. But it should have. I didn’t think what it meant for my soul. What it was doing to my heart . . . “You will let Lucan go and you will allow us to leave,” I said. The Ringmaster’s mouth twisted up over his sharp teeth, emitting a low growl, and I saw his fingers tighten around his whip. “And if you want a bullet in your skull, keep grinning.” Timothy was staring at the gun like it was the one thing he could understand; there was no help coming from him. “You have so much courage now,” the Ringmaster purred. “But I remember how you quailed at the sound of my boots. Will you have the courage now to kill a man?” “Want to find out?” He shook his head pityingly. “He’s not worth it, you know. A coward through and through. He wouldn’t kill for you.” He smiled. “It’s the real measure of a man, that. The ultimate sacrifice.” Those words would forever follow me. I did not know it then, but they would, like an ancient, gypsy curse. And I am truly sorry for that, but how was I to know? If I had, perhaps I could have said something, something that would make the declaration untrue. But it hung in the air like perfume, clinging to my clothes and seeping into my skin . . . The Ringmaster made to walk away and my arm relaxed, but with the sound of a cat he turned on his heel and reared forwards towards me. His arm flashed and I reeled back from the whip approaching my face like in slow motion. I squeezed my eyes shut tightly and saw fireworks, red and blue stars exploding in the black. And my body was suddenly thrust backwards, shaking with a force like a locomotive and sending vibrations down my limbs that made my teeth rattle. My ass hit the ground and the air burst out of my body from the impact. My hand was suddenly extremely hot and I dropped the pistol to the ground with a cry. My ears rang with a loud, pulsating hum. The light swirled the images around my vision like a kaleidoscope but as my eyes adjusted, I saw the small wisps of smoke rising from the mouth of my dropped pistol. Raising my hand to my face, my fingers felt along my unmarred cheek. The whip must have missed. I numbly lolled my head around and saw the Ringmaster standing where I had left him. His whip hung limp in his hands. It didn’t take long for it to register. As his eyes rolled into his head and his tall body made the long fall to the ground, I realized that the bullet had left the pistol and hit his stomach. Or chest. I hadn’t had a chance to look closely before he fell, but I was definitely the one who put it there. My hand had pulled the trigger and I had killed him. I killed him.  

About Jules Hedger

Originally from California, Jules Hedger now lives on a houseboat in London with one husband and one cat. She's been a carny, a macaroni and cheese waitress and currently works in genre fiction publishing. The Reign and Ruin series is her debut.

Disclaimer: All material and links in the Indie Author Excerpts feature have been provided voluntarily by the author, publicist or publisher. Any materials quoted before publication date may change with final copy.  No affiliate links were used in this post.
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Jennifer is both a book nerd and professional photographer. That means she lives in the fantasy world all the time, whether of her making, or someone else's. She collects books like the Duggar family collects kids, and began waiting for her Hogwarts letter at the tender age of 33.


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