FIRST LINES FRIDAY 56: Shallow Grave
First Line Fridays” is by Hoarding Books and is all about the first line of a current/upcoming read. Friday 56 is a meme hosted by Freda’s Voice, where you turn to page 56 (or 56%) in what you’re reading a find a snippet that jumps out at you. The idea to combine the two came from Kat @ Here There Be Dragons“
I found this meme on The Writerly Way. And I’m doing this on a Thursday just to be difficult.
October 10, 1881
The trch, trch, trch of Gatling gun rotating cylinders had been my only warning before the gunfire began. Bullets pierced the sun-bleached façade of the gambling hall behind me, and splintered wood rained down like an unexpected desert shower. I held on to my bowler, dove behind a nearby wagon, and scrambled up against the wheel. By way of defense, it offered little, but I desperately needed half a second to gather my bearings. I’d just entered Shallow Grave, Arizona, hadn’t even flashed my badge yet, and already I was being shot at.
I yanked my traveling goggles over my head and accidently dropped
them as another round of shooting began. Windows shattered, a woman’s scream echoed from a few storefronts to my right, and the scorched red earth around me billowed up in miniature dust storms where bullets became embedded in the packed clay.
I lifted the headband and over-ear receivers of my Personal Discussion Device from my neck and fitted them into place. I raised the handheld transducer, punched in a code on the brass buttons that would connect me to my director back in New York City, and waited for Loren Moore’s smooth tenor voice to answer.
But nothing happened.
I tried again.
Not even static.
56% of 280
Ferguson tightened his grip on my neck, the cogs of his glove whirring and releasing steam. He lifted me off my feet, leaned in close, and growled, “Not even Gunner will recognize your whore face when I’m done with you.” Ferguson tore the badge from my waistcoat with his free hand and tossed it carelessly over one shoulder.
I kicked wildly, held his massive forearm with one hand and punched at it with the other, tried to cast a spell—any spell—but I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think.
“Let him go.” Gunner slid into the edge of my blurring vision, the
barrels of the Waterbury pressed against the side of Ferguson’s bald head.
Ferguson’s hold loosened enough that I was able to gulp for air like a landed fish, but he still kept me pinned with my feet dangling. “Howdy, Gunner,” he drawled, unfazed by the weapon.
“I said, let him go,” Gunner repeated.
Ferguson tightened his grip again.
“I’ll blow your brains out, Milo.”
“No, you won’t,” Ferguson answered simply.
Gunner cocked the pistol.
1881—Special Agent Gillian Hamilton is a magic caster with the Federal Bureau of Magic and Steam. He’s sent to Shallow Grave, Arizona, to arrest a madman engineer known as Tinkerer, who’s responsible for blowing up half of Baltimore. Gillian has handled some of the worst criminals in the Bureau’s history, so this assignment shouldn’t be a problem. But even he’s taken aback by a run-in with the country’s most infamous outlaw, Gunner the Deadly.
Gunner is also stalking Shallow Grave in search of Tinkerer, who will stop at nothing to take control of the town’s silver mines. Neither Gillian nor Gunner are willing to let Tinkerer hurt more innocent people, so they agree to a very temporary partnership.
If facing illegal magic, Gatling gun contraptions, and a wild engineer in America’s frontier wasn’t enough trouble for a city boy, Gillian must also come to terms with the reality that he’s rather fond of his partner. But even if they live through this adventure, Gillian fears there’s no chance for love between a special agent and outlaw.
Based on the short story, “Gunner the Deadly.” Entirely revised, newly expanded, and Book One in the exciting new steampunk series, Magic & Steam.