A little excerpt form my story, “The Bloody Eagle.”

My author copies of _Sleeper Straddle_ arrived! I’m looking forward to reading the whole book — so far, I’ve only read my own story. 🙂 I think this one should be a reasonable stand-alone, if you haven’t read Wild Cards before, although fans of The Sleeper will be delighted to get a book dedicated to exploring more of his life.

I’ll be bringing two signed copies at Berwyn Sprout tomorrow for the open house (Friday 4-8 p.m.), if any locals want to pick one up. Everyone else can find the book in libraries and bookstores, wherever books are sold.

Here’s a little excerpt form my story, “The Bloody Eagle.”


Sri Lanka, 2003.

She found him in the jungle, sleeping.

Nikisha’s first impulse was to run – her second, to kill him. He was no one she recognized, and in their territory, where no stranger should dare to come. He had to be an enemy, and her duty to the movement was clear.

But the man looked so helpless, fast asleep and naked as a baby, curled into a tight ball, snoring a little. A slight hiss of air, mingling with the sounds of the jungle at night, the incessant chittering of monkeys, the whirring thrum of the tree frogs. And if her sister Udhya had been there, Nikisha would have had to admit that the fact that he looked like a film star might have factored in – nut-brown skin, a sleek fall of black hair, and finely drawn features.

Udhya wasn’t there, of course. And the truth was, Nikisha had never actually killed a man. Not on purpose, anyway.
She pulled the kaetta out of its sheath to have it ready. Nikisha didn’t need the knife, of course, wouldn’t even try to use it. But in the last bloody year, she’d found that there were plenty of men willing to press themselves on a young woman, alone, without protectors. Having a large kaetta at the ready served to save her from needing to prove to them that they couldn’t touch her. It was for their own safety, really, though they’d never admit it.

She settled down on her haunches, watching. He couldn’t sleep for that long, and when he woke, she had questions.


When she’d finally become a big girl at 15, Amma insisted on holding a party, no matter how much Nikisha protested that in the year 2000, such a thing was hopelessly outdated, not to mention humiliating. She called their cook, Soma, to the dining room, and rattled off a long list of instructions: celebratory dishes to make, auspicious elements for the occasion. “I want Marina’s biryani, you understand? Yours is not so good; everyone knows hers is the best. And there has to be plenty of cutlets – we don’t want anyone to think they need to be careful with their portions…”

Nikisha held her tongue while Soma was in the room, but as soon as she went back to the kitchen, the words burst out:

“Amma, you’re basically announcing to the world that I’m menstruating…”

“Chee! Don’t talk like that!”

“Oh my god!” Nikisha threw up her hands in frustration. “You won’t even talk about it, so why would you want to throw a party for it? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Udhya nodded silent agreement, knowing that she’d be having the same argument with Amma in not too long – they were only nine months apart, as close as sisters could be in that, as in most things.

“Aiyo! You don’t understand what you’re saying. You should be happy about this. I was thrilled when I attained age. My parents threw me the biggest party the village had seen, almost as fancy as a wedding. If anything, you should be mad at your father; he’s the one refusing to let me do this properly.”

Appa winked at Nikisha from across the dining table, and then retreated behind his newspaper again, saying only from its shelter, “Money is tight these days, you know, kunju. The economy is bad; patients don’t have as much money as they did, so we have to extend credit. And we need to save for the girls’ schooling…”

“Credit, credit. You’re a soft touch, Manesh. As for schooling! Tcha!” Amma had a master’s degree in accounting herself, did all the billing for the medical practice, so it wasn’t as if she was against school. But she hadn’t actually ever applied for a job or worked outside the home, not since marrying the local doctor.

“Schooling is all well and good, but getting Nikisha properly married is the priority. Do you want her to grow wild? You indulged the girls too much; it’s your fault they’re so spoiled.”

“Yes, yes, kunju,” Appa said soothingly from behind his paper.

“But I only have two darling daughters, no? Whom else should I indulge?”

Nikisha smothered a grin; it wouldn’t help her case. She’d probably lost anyway – when Amma made up her mind, she was the famed unstoppable force. Every else had better just bow their heads and try to make the best of it. Maybe she could at least get Soma to make her some cashew milk toffee for the party; it was her favorite sweet, and Amma usually said she ate too much of it, and it would make her fat.

Maybe if she got really fat, Amma would realize no man would want to marry her, and they could cancel this party?

Fat chance.

(…to be continued…)


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