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Dark Muse
Book 1
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-278-8
Genre: Suspense/Thriller/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 256 Pages
Published: October 2016

From inside the flap

The flat was on the third floor, near the tourist section of Montreal's old port section. In the heat of her passion, Viís colours were intensifying, becoming more vivid, shifting, dancing more quickly. Down on the street below, there was still the odd passer-by. Some saw the strange display and wondered what it was. Most just looked for a second or two, then kept on walking, thinking it was a movie being shown.

But some stared for too long, and even from the distance of some thirty feet, the glow had an effect. One person felt headaches for a few days. A second, who had a thesis in ancient languages to deliver to a panel in one dayís time, stunned the panel with her all-encompassing knowledge and new insight into the topic. A third spent a quiet day, then acting completely out of character, got into a bloody brawl with a group of bikers.

Philip Mann lives in the Outremont-Mile End district of Montreal. With its rich blend of Francophone Quebecois, students and ex-pats from the world over, he finds a never-ending source of entertainment and resources for his writings. His wife wishes he would just mind his own business.

Dark Muse is the author`s debut novel and begins the series of the same name.

Dark Muse (Excerpt)

Chapter One

"I form light and create the darkness; I create peace and create evil; I am the Lord that doeth all these things"

Isaiah 45; 7

The night air was brisk and clear. The street lights caught the snowflakes as they fell, breaking up the dark with the reflected light. Mark needed a break. A break from the party, from his well-intentioned but noisy friends, from the corporate rah-rah in which he was now a fully-fledged member. He walked aimlessly to the edge of the civilised part of town where it turned into a disused industrial section, where the old canal lay still and frozen over. There he stopped and waited.

He never had to wait long after he called. She always came soon enough, noiselessly and now with hardly a trace in the new snow. The two were alone at this hour of the night, and at this empty sector.

"Mark sweetie, how are you? It's been too long since we met."

"I would have called you before, Vi, but I haven't had a quiet time in a while. I guess I need to sort things out in my mind."

"That's what a pal is for Mark, to help figure things out. Tell me, what's troubling you?"

"I can't put my finger on it. I should be happy. I have a great job with a future, like I always wanted. I even got a big promotion. And I have a girl who's just right for me."

"Don't make me jealous now. Even my type can feel envy, you know."

"Oh come on. You folks don't have the same feelings that we mere mortals do. Besides, with your looks, you can't do too badly."

"That's another story, and thanks. But this is all about you, honey. What exactly is bothering you? You seem to be on the cusp of real achievement here. Why the doubt?"

"It's my old problem, same thing. I feel empty inside. I no sooner achieve something than it tastes stale in my mouth, like biting into cardboard."

"Like you're on a treadmill working hard to stay in place?"

"Yeah, yeah... Like I haven't really improved. I have to do it all over again. Ah Vi, I just don't know how to put it. Just-¶ everything seems pointless."

"You seem to always lose your way. I wish I could help you."

"You always do, Vi. I just don't want to go through life like this, always missing a taste of satisfaction."

"Maybe this can help."

And with a simple shrug and straightening of her shoulders, her black fur jacket fell to the ground. Beneath she was wearing what seemed an elegant dress, sky blue in colour. Anybody standing nearby would see an odd but reasonable enough scene - a man standing next to a woman wearing a blue dress that had an unusual reflective quality to it. The bystander might want to venture closer to see, but that would be intrusive.

Mark however, saw something vastly more peculiar. The dress - actually Vi's body - was predominantly blue - sky blue. But it also could turn completely black, or gold, or red or any colour. Or any combination. It would pass through the entire spectrum, the colours mingling, shifting washing over and into each other holding a viewer in its awe, casting its spell.

And Mark was transfixed.

"Let's go for a walk, Mark. It's a beautiful day, so warm, and the grass is so soft. Join me, Mark." And she held out her hand to his and he took hold.

The winter night had dissolved into a glorious spring day and they walked hand in hand on a smooth field, so smooth it could have been the top of a billiard table. And it was warm, just enough to feel like a soft caress. Vi let go, and he walked a step ahead.

"How do you do that? How do you make this... this stuff happen?"

"Stuff? Mark sweetie, it's all that I do. I'm your muse."

"You mean, like my inspiration?"

"That's it. I help you move where you want to go. Right now, I see you full of despair and not able to escape. So, I'm helping you out of your doldrums as you would say."

"But this will fade away, Vi. Soon it will all come back and I'll be facing my uphill climb again."

"No. You won't Mark. Not again."

"You mean, I'll be a different person, not always depressed?"

"You may be a different person. Next time, Mark. Next time around."

"What do you mean, next time? wh-"

And the soft spring day yielded to the cold dark of winter. And the grass upon which he was walking bent and cracked with a hideous noise. Mark was dropped into the frigid waters below the ice where he struggled desperately for a few minutes, then went under to stay.

Vi stared at the newly formed hole in the ice, held her head and wept, long and bitterly for her lot and for Mark. Then, after the water stilled and she had seen too much, Vi picked up her jacket, walked into the night and faded away.