The Gates to Faerie is a new urban fantasy out now from Dan Melson
Mark Jackson’s problems begin when he wakes up with his ex-wife’s mummified corpse.
Seven years ago, she walked out on him and vanished. Now she’s back desperate for help. She claims a cult cured her cancer. Now they want to kill her. Sceptical, Mark agrees to help. But when she knocks on his door, she looks like a teenager. They patch things up and one thing leads to another…
In the morning, she’s a mummified corpse and LAPD thinks Mark did it. The solution to his problems can only be found in The Gates to Faerie
I was fourteen the first time I saw someone vanish.
It was a girl, of course. I remember her as being tall and thin, her skin the rich dark brown of fertile soil, with tightly curled black hair, falling in clumps to her shoulders. Her bathing suit was lighter brown, and looked as if it were completely dry. In fact, I don’t remember water dripping off her at all as she exited the lake.
Looking back now, I’d thought I was being cool and low key about scoping her out as she left the lake, which means I was staring and probably drooling. I knew she was way beyond me, or anyone else in the troop. We were all watching.
I saw from the way she moved that she wasn’t really a girl at all. She moved lightly, not disturbing the leaves or dirt under her bare feet. Young as I was, I knew she had to be older. Nobody that age masters that kind of grace and effortless self-control. Not the dancers who practiced in the loft above the gym and took private lessons, not the martial arts devotees who spent every possible moment at the dojo and might already be fourth or fifth dan or the equivalent, and definitely not boy scout nerds like me, no matter how much time we spent outdoors learning how to move quietly and not disturb the animals. She made the best of us look like clumsy blind bumblers, and she did it effortlessly. She looked maybe sixteen or eighteen, but she had to be older.
You could tell there was something special about her just looking at the way she moved, like the sunlight that hit her was somehow made special by her presence. Yet she had an air of complete nonchalance. She knew she was beautiful and desirable, but to her it was nothing special, it was just the way she was. She knew we were watching her, enjoying watching her, but it didn’t harm her and so she enjoyed our enjoyment.
As she approached a large stand of manzanita, she turned and I caught a glimpse of her ear as her already dry hair moved, trailing her head through the turn. The ear I saw was small, and pointed, like some of the aliens on Star Trek. Our collective jaws dropped. She looked right at me, and laughed. Canines more pointed than anything I’d seen on a human flashed momentarily.
Then she turned back to the manzanita. Suddenly, her clothing shifted, no longer a two-piece thong, becoming instead a gown in rich earth colors, somehow all the more alluring. She turned again, walked under an arch of overhanging red branches, and was gone.
Not “out of sight” gone, “vanished” gone.
Being fourteen and both disturbed and intrigued by what I’d seen, I remember picking myself up off my towel on the lakeshore to check. Several other members of the troop followed. We could barely make out that she had left a trail, light footprints with long toes in a couple of places where she had crossed bare dirt. But it stopped dead under the manzanita arch. Nor was there a path to continue. Beyond a small space under the arch, the bushes closed in and became impassable to anything bigger than maybe a cat. There wasn’t anywhere further to go.
We talked it over for half an hour, and intermittently the rest of the weekend and occasionally after, among those who had been there. We all agreed that we’d seen a young woman leave the lake. But beautiful young supermodels do not vanish without further trace in a manzanita thicket. Eventually, we agreed she’d somehow managed to go around rather than through. Agreeing that it had to be true didn’t make it so, however, and I remembered what I had seen in the back of my head. I think we all knew that something unusual had happened, but didn’t want to admit it for fear of appearing naïve.
What a group of children we were.
The Gates to Faerie is out now!
A Bite of... Dan Melson
Q1: Would you rather live in this world or the one you create in your books?
The World of Gates to Faerie (from this book) is our world with an interesting addition. Since I’d rather have the addition than not, I’d have to choose there.
The Empire of Humanity from my science fiction side is specifically designed to be a place where the average person can make themselves a pretty good life. The rulers are constrained by enlightened self-interest. Unless something goes drastically wrong, action and major risk are things the citizens must specifically seek out if they desire them. Choosing to live there would entail starting over, but the society is such that the effort will be more than repaid.
Q2: Chocolate cake or coffee cake?
There is no cake but chocolate cake, and I am its prophet.
Q3: Have you ever invented a language?
Not entire languages, like Tolkien, but my Empire of Humanity has four overarching languages which it uses for differing purposes, as well as a large number of local
Traditional is an agglomerative language much in the mold of English. It follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over the head, and goes through their pockets for loose vocabulary. It is a language for everyday conversation, as well as for poets and writers.
Technical is a designed language used to eliminate ambiguity in a take no prisoners manner. It is the language of legal contracts, of military and government orders, and technical manuals.
Mindlord is another designed language, designed to be information dense and often, to convey multiple meanings with one set of words. Its drawbacks are that it is context sensitive as well as vulnerable to minor errors in transmission or reception. It is rarely used by anyone other than operants, and usually only in the form of telepathy.
Concept is perhaps the only truly natural language, a non-verbal language of pure thought. It can only be used telepathically.
Dan is a real estate agent, loan officer, and eclectic collector of skills and knowledge. He has written eight science fiction novels, two fantasy, and two consumer guides, and has more story ideas than he will ever have time to finish. He lives in Southern California with The World’s Only Perfect Woman, two daughters he is preparing for world domination, and a variable number of dachshunds.