I love a good scream. Zombies are my kith and kin. But I don't actually write much real horror myself. Still, when I heard about the Primal Scream Blogfest over at Raquel's place, well, I had to throw SOMETHING into the pot. How could I resist?
So without further ado, here's an excerpt from my retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Thornbriar. I'm still writing the story and in fact this section was written only days ago, so while I've tried desperately to work out kinks before posting, I'm sure it will lack somewhere. A few things to set you up: The bats aren't what they seem to be and they're large, like small cat large. Beauty's hair is very long. In my version, the Beast is called the Woodlord. And Kuliaet is one of Beauty's tutors.
That night Beauty’s sleep was deep and dreamless. It was the slumber of someone pushed beyond exhaustion. It was a slumber that very nearly ended her.
She awoke to the angry cries of a bat at her ear. Instinct told her that it was trying to help her in some way. She bolted upright in the blankets, the bat tangled in her copper tresses. It continued squeaking, desperate in its manner. Before Beauty could free herself from the bed something hit her new chamber door with astonishing violence. The Woodlord.
He howled savagely, the wood of the door groaning under his attack. Her servants had apparently reinforced it but it wouldn’t hold for long. Beauty couldn’t understand what he was shouting through his roaring snarls. Calmly, she carefully freed the bat from her hair, shooing it towards the open balcony doors. Then she snatched her knife belt, buckling it on over her sleeping gown. She had no choice but to flee.
And then an entire section of her chamber exploded. She was thrown to the side, overwhelmed by the fey odor she now recognized as magic. Scrambling like a rat caught in the pantry she dodged around behind furniture and rubble, trying to keep from sight.
“You should have said you love me!” The bellowing words were barely discernible.
He moved with wild speed, almost too fast to see. Beauty swallowed her own screams, trying to find a way of escaping her chambers. It was impossible. The Woodlord leaped and lunged, scenting the air and ferreting out her hiding place in only moments. She had no memory of him catching her, only of his hand around her slender throat, hoisting her high above the ground.
And she remembered his eyes in the moonlight, glacier blue, the iridescent flecks within them sparkling madly. It was then that she stopped fighting him. She simply stopped, allowing herself to go limp within his grip, her elegant mouth open to draw air that could not reach her lungs. Then abruptly, it could, and Beauty fell gasping into a painful heap.
She did not stay there long. Stumbling and staggering she fled to the balcony, intending to climb down the rose vines as Kuliaet had climbed up them. But her roses were gone. The vines were torn apart and destroyed. Blooms littered the stones and fragments of thorny stems pierced her bare feet as she ran back and forth. Inside her chambers the Woodlord howled.
Finally Beauty discovered a narrow scrap of vine still clinging to one side of the railing. Without hesitation she slithered over the wall using the vine as a rope. It was weak, her arms exhausted, and slivers bit into her fingers and palms. The entire thing gave way while she was still more than a dozen feet off the ground. The landing knocked her senseless for a few moments and she never really got her breath back, even after she started running again.