The blog of author Harper Alexander

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Queen of Spades Excerpt

An excerpt from Queen of Spades that I wrote while enjoying the beach yesterday.


I closed my eyes then, just for a moment to collect myself, and when I opened them I was running.

Through my vision landscape I blazed. Back over all the snatches I had seen Damien dragged through. I was hardly aware of myself, immersed instead in this driven current of mystical guidance. I didn’t feel my limbs; I just felt that thing inside me. Like an anchor, or compass, or perhaps just an axis that had found its equilibrium, causing other things to shift in accordance around it.

I was a wheel finally escaped from its dizzying groove, spinning headlong in a rebel direction. Faster and faster, cartwheels of adrenaline and shadow and starlight.

Red, black, white. Red, black, white.

I was a card being shuffled. A flurry, a whirlwind.

Red, black, white. The colors of magic, astir in my blood, aswirl all around me.

Red for blood. Red for anger. Red for pain.

Black for endless nights alone, on the road. Black for the darkness that hounded me, for my own shadow – darker than the average man’s.

White…for the light they always said was at the end of the tunnel, for the rebel angels that must have been watching out for me, all this time, because Damien had made a good point but I could never believe I was lucky.

White…for the white-hot fear that coursed through me as I approached a fortress of such pivotal significance. For the blank page, the unknown, that was a runner laid out before me.

That page always looks so pristine, laying out before a person.

Only in hindsight did it so easily become streaked with those other things – the red and black, the blood and ash, the crimson and ebony, the scarlet splashes and charred tears.

I could actually see it, in my driven daze – the white runner, the luminous silk of it, billowing out before me in the night. It was dreamlike. Beautiful.

I knew without looking that the other two counterparts, the red and black embellishments, were there too, behind me. I could feel their grime on my boots, sullying the path underfoot, making it slippery. I could feel the tatters of silk billowing like ghostly tendrils in my wake, snapping at my heels.