Excerpt from Strange Tidings:
Throbbing chords filled me, swirling and building. The short, fierce piece was a perfect finale to my mix of progressive rock, metal, and alternative. I left the genre-less hip-hop, stained with corporate agendas, moldering in the city ruins. This music was real, powerful. My hands flew, calling forth a blizzard of notes from the embattled instruments. Legions charged down the thrumming bass line toward their final conflict. Goosebumps rose on my arms as pianos crashed in. Among the cascading chords, the pianos and guitars hesitated, belched forth a final, staccato flourish, and it was done.
“Perfect!” I panted through raised arms.
“Okiw, too dramatic,” a voice rasped from behind me.
I whirled, hands thrust defensively forward, my mind halfway between snowy mountains and reality. The man darted right, his fur coat scattering audio disks and my dinner. Sparks, and just a tiny jet of flame, shot from the patch panel by the door. Crap! The small figure popped back up in the shadows to my left.
“Mr. Conti?” I looked at the panel and winced. “I can fix that.” Hoping it was true, I grabbed a towel. Why had the boss come back?
“You harness the music well.” The dry croak was Strange Tidings not the station manager’s mild tenor.
“Who?” My head snapped up from the spilt iced tea. “How did you get in here?”
“Front door.” The man cackled and stepped into the light. He was old and bent.
“This is private property.” I scrubbed a scorch mark, paused at the thought of getting zapped, and rounded on the intruder. “New Philly isn’t some abandoned town. You can’t just go anywhere you want.”
“I visit children,” he said as if that explained everything.
Family, sure. The vagrant’s face was a desert of crags and gullies, his features more leather than skin. An impressive nose hooked out beneath shiny, black eyes gleaming with birdlike amusement or beady malice. It was difficult to tell which, with his hat pulled low. My eyes locked on the two feathers tucked in the hat’s satin band.
“Fedora!” I blurted. “You threw me that useless coin.”