No Man’s Land: snippet of WIP

From No Man’s Land.

We head for Arbor Low first, rumbling along dew-damp roads in the morning light. It’s not too busy yet, and I decide I like the Peak District when it’s like this…and not full of bloody caravans. The roads get smaller and smaller, and then there’s a gravel track leading up to the circle itself. Luk rumbles us up it, and we park up in the small layby. The circle itself is in pretty good condition; there’s a ring and ditch around it, and stones lying where they fell, centuries ago. They look almost like a clock-face, pointing the hours.

I stand on the edge of the bank and spread my hands out, feeling the air rushing through them. The sky’s overcast but the view’s still beautiful, looking out over the cropped green fields and rising peaks further on into the district. It’s quiet, with only the faint rush of cars a little way off and the maaaaw of sheep in the next field. It’s a far cry from London.

Luk’s got the ward ready, and steps up beside me. “So?”

I take it, and go to step forward. But his hand is abruptly on my arm, and he jerks me backwards before I can step down into the ditch. “Take the causeway, sunshine.”

My automatic reaction is defensive, and he’s lucky that I had my hands full of ward otherwise he’d have got a clout on the ear. But I rebalance myself and blink, letting the circle come into focus.

The ditch before me is full of thorns, grey and shifting. They’d have shredded my defenses and my soul, biting inside my skin with a pain that’s unlikely to heal. Fuck.

I blink back into the real world. “Thanks.”

He lets my arm go and I tread round the outside of the ditch to the raised earth causeway. Another flick to the Otherworld shows me a clear path there, and I walk through. No need to go invisible here; there’s no-one around but two walkers a couple of fields away. I lay my hand against the rough, weathered surface and put the ward on the rune-curve with a burst of power. As I stand, I glance at the gateway – grey and matte, but not bulging with the same dark smoke as Woodhenge. I can hear spirit voices, but there’s no one loud enough to make me want to bring out my flame.

“No-one to talk to?” Luk asks when I get back across the causeway.

“Not really.”

“Do you want someone to talk to?”

I roll my eyes. “Get to the point.”

“I want to go via Five Wells.”

He gets a stare. “The names don’t mean anything. I assume there’s spirits?”

“It’s a Tomb.”

We’ve reached the bike again, and I almost miss a step, stumbling the last few to the bike. “Oh, great!”

“It could help.”

I make an irritated noise in my throat. He’s right, particularly with the current fun…but holy crap, talking to spirits is hard work.

“You’ll need alcohol,” I say.

Luk frowns in the act of putting his helmet on. “What? Since when have you needed props to talk to spirits?”

“It’s not for the spirit,” I comment grimly. “It’s for me.”

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at writingandcoe.co.uk. When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.