It's been a long road, but today Getting Ahead comes out from MuseItUp Publishing! I really love this story for a lot of reasons, but mostly for its quirky, yet gritty, tone and its characters. I adored writing Nick and Renee. Y'all know my love of character interaction and these two let me have some real fun in that arena. They work together so well, and compliment one another so much, and they just won't stop with the snark! Not that I'd actually want them to, of course!
Nick's gaze slid to the portal eddying over the old oaks. Defined only by the circular, spiraling movement of its blue light, it was easily twenty stories in diameter. The attack had occurred in a secluded area, and though a mile from the portal at the park's center, it was bathed in electric blue portal-glow. The night became a grainy monotone, like an old movie on bad film. He'd never imagined such a thing existing, but in the last five years a host of strange things had become common sights. Trolls, centaurs, and gnomes stepped through the portal and became part of his world. Not elves, though. Apparently they were mythical everywhere.
Now he saw almost as many gnomes crossing the street as humans, stood behind them in line for his coffee and glared at them in traffic. Trolls and centaurs weren't as common, but he'd stopped to give directions to a group of centaur tourists just that morning. There had been a time when all he'd seen were humans. They were everything, the whole world. The only thing one could possibly mean when one said "people."
He'd been a beat cop when the portal materialized, patrolling Crown Street when the night suddenly burst to life. The air had grown thick and hard to breathe, carrying a charge like nothing he'd felt before, static electricity mixed with cold fire. The shoplifter he'd caught had run off and instead of giving chase Nick stood staring as blue light blazed over the city. Bright as dawn, but hours early and far too fast, he thought it must be an explosion of some kind, until he got a better view. The portal--which hadn't even existed just two minutes prior--loomed above City Park, its light inexplicable and terrifying.
Nationwide speculation became an epidemic. Fact, fiction, and theory blended together and soon became inseparable. Some insisted the Large Hadron Collider experiments, half a world away, were to blame. Some said magic had created it. Some called it the work of God. Which god became a dispute of its own. One way or another, the portal was there. They'd had to deal with it. "Chaos" best described the following years, although at times "panic" and "bedlam" also applied.
Now it had become the beating heart of the city, bridging the 'old' and the 'new,' joining them. Now it wasn't just a city. It was Portal City, and if the people in Washington hadn't decided to move closer, they paid attention to what went on. It didn't make his job any easier, yet Nick turned to the portal. He followed the variations in the shades of light, eddying in a giant circle defined by no-one-knew-what. It wasn't growing. It wasn't shrinking. It showed no signs of going anywhere, but it had taught Nick that nothing—absolutely nothing—lasted forever. His entire world could change in a single, impossible moment. Nothing was ever guaranteed to be the same tomorrow as it had been the day before.
He didn't know if he could forgive that.