Excerpt: Vial Things by Leah Clifford

vialthings Vial Things
(Resurrectionist #1)
By: Leah Clifford
Publisher: Self-published
Published: Aug. 9, 2016
Genre: Young Adult

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When the resurrectionists of Fissure’s Whipp begin disappearing, eighteen-year-old Allie knows someone is after their blood—or, more accurately, the genetic mutation that allows their blood to heal wounds, save lives and even bring back the recently deceased.

Raised by her aunt after her parents’ deaths, Allie knows staying vigilant means staying alive. She’s trained her whole life to protect herself by any means necessary, from self defense classes to extensive weapons training in knives. Now, she’s gone so far as to befriend a homeless boy named Ploy who unknowingly trades a few nights a week on her couch in exchange for being a human tripwire to those hunting her.

But as Allie and Ploy’s feelings for each other grow, Allie realizes this time, she’ll need more than fighting skills and a sharp blade to beat a villain literally out for blood.

Protecting a girl he shouldn’t love, from a threat he understands too well, Ploy must face his past to save his future in Allie’s world—a world where bringing back the dead can cost you your life.

 

 

Excerpt…

 

 
Chapter 1

ALLIE
 
When the call for the job comes in just past midnight, there aren’t many details—a teenager, an accidental drowning, and an address. The street name tells me the place will be colossal, so I expect the columned entryway over the shoulder of the girl who answers the door, the expertly lighted canvases on the walls. Even the grand piano in the great room doesn’t come as a surprise.

I don’t even need you to collect any payment, Aunt Sarah had said. Come on, Allie, it’s a huge favor. If there’s no payment, I’m guessing there’s some sort of way back favor owed between my aunt and the girl’s mom. One of those ‘If you’re ever in trouble’ things. Or maybe Sarah knows not to push the issue of the money with me.

“Time of death?” I say as I slide past the weeping girl who answered the door.

When the rare person who knows about us makes the call for help, I’m sure they half expect some gothic voodoo priestess to show up on their doorstep. An eighteen-year-old in shorts and a tank top, blond hair in a messy bun, tends to throw them off. I’m used to being met with hesitation.

Right now though, I don’t have time to set her at ease. “We’re on a deadline. You called about a boy. How long ago did he die?”

“A few minutes,” the girl stutters, and begins wringing her already reddened hands. “An hour? It couldn’t have been more than an hour before I called Sarah.” She closes the door. Her tears appear to have tapered for now. I wonder if they were mostly theatrics. A straggling hiccup escapes as she eyes me. “She said she was sending a guy.”

“Yeah, well you got me.” I tug my burner phone from the pocket of my jeans and check the time. Dead an hour, plus the thirty minutes it took me to get here means we’re halfway to the point of no return. Every passing minute risks another complication. “Where’s the body?”

“S…Simon,” she says. “His name is Simon.”

“Right. Simon.” I scan the scene. Beer bottles and a few red cups line the kitchen table. Abandoned on one of the bar stools are an empty bottle of Jack Daniels and a trio of shot glasses, tipped over. “And this Simon’s your boyfriend?” I ask.

I’m only making small talk to keep the girl calm. She shakes her head.

“He lives down the street. I didn’t even know he came,” she says, already leading the way through the house, toward the rear door.

“He’s here,” the girl whispers, opening a sliding glass door to a patio. Beside the water of the pool lies a boy a couple years younger than me, about sixteen from first look. A wet puddle darkens the concrete around him.

At the shallow end of the pool, I spot the blurred brown splotch of a sunken bottle. The filter gurgles. A Styrofoam noodle floats languidly in the water.

Aside from the dead body, nothing seems amiss. The glow from the pool lights is poor, which is actually a plus. We don’t need any witnesses. “Anybody else see him like this?” I ask. “Neighbors?”

“No. Just me. I found him. My mom knows Sarah.”

“Yeah,” I say, slipping my messenger bag off my shoulder. “Sarah and my mom knew each other, too.”

‘Knew’, past tense. I don’t know why I say it at all. Sarah’s my aunt. I could have bypassed the mention of my mom altogether. The girl’s expression shifts from nervous to confused the moment the word registers.

I focus on unzipping my bag with a vague hope she won’t have the balls to ask why I didn’t bother to save my own mother. There’s a pause where she waits for me to fill in the blanks. Another when I don’t. “You are a resurrectionist, though, right?” she says finally with newfound skepticism.

“I can go if you want,” I snap. I’ll take any excuse to pack up and get out of here. This isn’t exactly my idea of a fun Saturday night. Three months ago I’d told myself I was walking away from this life for good once I made it to Fissure’s Whipp.

But I couldn’t walk away from blood. Not when Sarah was all I had left as far as family.

In my head, her voice reverberates. We demand payment for a damned reason, Allie. And then quieter, It’s more important to be owed than collect. The shame keeps them from talking about us.

I sink to the concrete and start setting up, digging into the bag for one of the boxes inside. From it comes a syringe, sealed in plastic. Seeing it will make her think I’m injecting him with some sort of drug instead of my own blood. For now, I leave the rubber strap I’ll use to tie off my arm inside the bag and out of her sight.

“Can you help me?” I ask as I strip away the protective plastic layer on the syringe.

Usually, when I show up at a job, whoever found the body is frantic. This girl seems to be holding her own. Rich kids tend to think their parent’s money is a bubble, protecting them from birth, sweeping problems under the rug for the servants to deal with. And with the money we’re paid for what we do, they tend to be right. Still, it’s better to give her a job, something to focus on before she takes it upon herself to question me about my mother. “Can you get some blankets? He’ll need to be warmed up once I do my thing.”

I take my first good look at the body.

After death, there are certain reactions, flags to tell me it’s too late, that the victim is too far gone. The pale pallor is normal and expected. The dark coloring where his skin touches the concrete is not, especially because he died in the water and was moved after.

Blood is liquid. When the heart stops pumping, that liquid starts settling half an hour after death, pooling at the points closest to the ground. From this angle though, his eyes already look deeply sunken. It must be shadows. A trick of the light.

If she was right about the time.

“You were having a party?” I ask. I turn in time to watch the color fade from her cheeks.

“My parents are out of town. Sarah promised she wouldn’t tell them.”

This close, I can smell the alcohol on her breath. Dread curls in my stomach. “When was the party?” I ask quietly.

“This afternoon?” Her chin trembles. “I passed out. Everyone was gone!” she says. She scoots closer to me, eyes anime-wide, wet and brimming. “I called as soon as I got him out of the pool. I promise. You can still save him, right?”

I reach forward for the boy’s arm and try to lift it. His muscles are locked, frozen in rigor mortis. Not a chance in hell, I think. Aside from the time limits, anyone at that party could have seen him die before they took off. If he shows up in town, a bunch of teenagers start whispering zombie or miracle. Either one draws too much attention to people like me. Our resurrections are regimented for a reason.

“I’ll pay extra,” she blurts, as if it were so simple. As if I can rewind time for a couple extra twenties.

“I would have thought Sarah tapped you out,” I mumble. Her friend’s toast. It’s everything I can do to keep the mask of confidence on my face as I raise my voice. “I’ll do what I can,” I lie.

Glancing around the yard, I spot a latched gate. Common sense suggests it’ll lead to the driveway.

It’s better to look like things are going according to plan. Right now, I’m this girl’s savior. When she realizes I can’t deliver…well, some people get violent when their miracle doesn’t come to pass after all. I’ve got a nice scar from a knife wound two years ago to prove it.

“Hey!” I say too brightly. “Let me get to work and you go get those blankets, okay?”

She bobbles her head in a relieved nod and smiles through her tears. “Of course. Anything. Thank you,” she murmurs as starts toward the house. The genuine gratitude in her voice only ups my level of discomfort. “Thank you so, so much.”

She’s nearly at the door when I toss the syringe into the bag. It takes everything in me to wait until she’s inside before I scramble for the gate. In my rush I knock over a lawn chair. A dog barks. Inside the house, a light goes on upstairs.

I’m out the gate and running full tilt down the street long before she knows I’m gone.

 

 

Meet the author…

cliffordLeah Clifford was born and raised outside of Cleveland Ohio. She has an affinity for all things weird and creepy as made evident by her oddity shop Petite Grotesque and her previous young adult novels, A Touch Mortal, A Touch Morbid and A Touch Menacing.

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8 Thoughts on “Excerpt: Vial Things by Leah Clifford

  1. Ooo this sounds perfect for Fall!

  2. I love the sound of this!! Allie sounds so “bent” and not happy at all. Makes me want to go and find the first book 😉

  3. This sounds good! It reminds me of Holly Black a bit and her writing!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Emily @ http://www.rabbitholereviews.com

  4. This sounds good! I think I’ll be getting this one- that excerpt definitely grabbed my interest.

  5. Ohh what is this? A book that sounds right up my alley!

  6. Sounds like this will be an interesting book. And I like how the book takes the sentence “being out for her blood” very literal. And it sounds like there will be some romance as well.

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