Author: Kim Fielding
Release Date: Monday, May 7 2018
Story Type: novella
Word Count: 34K
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Genres: paranormal, historical, Romance
Tropes: Frankenstein? Lovable monster? It’s really not tropey
Keywords/Categories: gay, noir
About the Book:
Alone in a cell and lacking memories of his past, John has no idea who?or what?he is.
Alone on the streets of 1950s Los Angeles, Harry has far too many memories of his painful past and feels simply resignation in facing his empty future.
When Harry is given a chance to achieve his only dream?to become an agent with the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs?all he has to do is prove his worth. Yet nothing has ever come easy for him. Now he must offer himself and John as bait, enticing a man who wants to conquer death. But first he and John must learn what distinguishes a monster from a man?and what a monster truly wants.
One lucky winner will get an audiobook copy of ?Ante Up,? Kim?s Czech vampire tale, and an eBook copy of the first two books in ?The Bureau? series ? Corruption? and Clay White.? Enter via Rafflecopter.
John savored every page of the book, which told a story of soldiers stationed in Hawaii as a war with the Japanese began. He didn?t know anything about such a war, so he couldn?t tell whether the tale was true. And with Frankensteinas his only comparison, he couldn?t tell whether this was a goodbook. But he enjoyed it very much because it was his and because he?d been granted the great luxury of reading it.
One luxury among many, of course. He also had comfortable surroundings, nice clothing over a clean body, and the joy of seeing a great many wonders he?d only imagined. And he had Harry, who?d never once hurt him or made him feel like anything less than a man.
Ah, but John was nota man. When he finished the book and sat in the comforting puddle of lamplight, he again faced some painful truths and their corresponding questions.
What use did Harry intend to make of him? What would happen to John once Harry was done? Those were the practical questions. But more fundamentally, he wondered what it meant to be a monster. When he wore clothes, read books, conducted conversations, was he only fooling himself? Did he actually possess human qualities? What if he, like Frankenstein?s monster, turned murderous in the end?
And what did he want? What driving force kept him animate in a lifeless body? He thought he might know the answers to those questions, but the answers were far too uncomfortable to face. Perhaps that made him a coward.
Lost in contemplation, he startled when the front door opened. A moment later, Harry came stumbling into the room with his coat poorly buttoned, his hat askew, and a carrier with six brown bottles grasped in one hand. His cheeks looked ruddier than usual; his eyes, usually soft and warm, appeared dull and flat. ?You?re still here,? he said.
?You told me to stay.?
Harry left the room for a few minutes, although John could hear him rummaging in kitchen drawers. When he returned, he?d shed the coat and hat, and he held one of the brown bottles. He collapsed heavily onto the couch before taking a long draw. ?Blah,? he said, face twisted in disgust. ?The Irish coffee was better.? But he drank more anyway.
After some time passed, Harry sighed. ?What?d you do tonight??
?I read one of the books you gave me. Harry, was there really a war with the Japanese??
?Yeah. Germans too. My Uncle Jimmy died in it.?
?Yeah. I liked him.? He sniffed. ?You don?t remember that war??
?I know of? the Great War. That was against the Germans, I think.?
?That was over forty years ago. World War Two ended eight years ago. Now we?re fighting in Korea instead.?
John shook his head in confusion. There was so much he didn?t understand. During the silence, Harry drained his bottle. He left the room and returned to the couch with a full one.
?I?ll prob?ly be sick in the morning,? he said thoughtfully. ?I used to think the word hangoverwas kind of scary. Made me think of a corpse hanging from a noose.? He glanced quickly at John and then away.
?Is there anything I can do to help you??
Maybe if John were a real person, he?d know what to do. He understood that something distressed Harry but had no idea what, or what actions he should take. It was possible that John himself was the cause of Harry?s misery. Surely it was repugnant to spend time so close to a monster. John worried about Harry?and worried about himself as well. Harry had brought him so much freedom and happiness. What would become of John if Harry abandoned him?
Harry held his half-empty bottle aloft, peering into the liquid depths. ?Do you s?pose there?s demons in there??
?Townsend said that one demon keeps his ex-agent from going wild, so I guess maybe some demons ain?t so bad. Unless Townsend lied.?
Unable to make sense of this, John simply listened.
After taking another swig, Harry wedged the bottle between his thighs and stared down at it. ?Mama used to tell us that Daddy was a good man. She said the Devil got into him during the Depression, when Daddy lost his job at the feed store and we were poor as dirt. When he? Those things he did, those weren?t really him, she told us. They were the Devil?s work. If we all prayed real hard, Jesus would chase the Devil away.? He looked at John. ?We went to church every Sunday and said our prayers every night. But Jesus never did nothing.?
Those things he did. John?s otherwise faulty mind easily supplied him with possibilities about what those things might have been. His memories, it seemed, included a catalogue of cruel actions a man might visit upon his family.
?I never drank before tonight,? Harry said. ?I didn?t want to swallow the Devil. But maybe now I have.?
John moved the Hawaii book from his lap to the little table beside him and slowly pushed himself to his feet. His legs felt unsteady, and although it required tremendous effort to walk the few steps to the couch, he made it without falling. After kneeling on the floor near Harry?s legs, John looked steadily into his eyes. ?I don?t think there?s anything evil about you.?
Harry shook his head. ?You don?t know that. I?m?. Everyone?s always said I?m worthless, but they ain?t exactly right. I could do a whole lot of bad if I wanted to. Maybe if I keep drinking, I?ll want to.?
?Then don?t drink.?
Anger flashed across Harry?s face, and John braced himself for a punch. But then Harry sighed and rubbed his own chin. ?I lied to you.?
?You asked me if you were good? before. And I said yeah.?
?I wasn?t?? John was grateful he had the strength to keep his voice steady.
?I don?t know. I have no idea who the hell you were before you? before you died. You coulda been a mobster for all I know. A murderer. Maybe you deserve everything they done to you.?
Although John swayed on his knees, he didn?t fall. And he didn?t pull his gaze away from Harry. ?Maybe I do,? he whispered. ?But I doubt you deserve whatever your father did to you.?
Harry paled and blinked his eyes rapidly. Then, moving slowly like a very old man, he stood. ?Going to bed,? he muttered. He shuffled away, the bottle still in his hand.
Kim Fielding is the bestselling, award-winning author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon.
Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They?re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.