I am personally a big fan of prologues. Here is the brief prologue that begins Immortal.
* * *
The dream is always the same.
It starts on the hunt—running hard through the tall grasses in the heat of a blazing, midday sun. My tool is a stick with a sharpened stone tied to the end of it; the second crudest weapon imaginable, barely one technological step up from a heavy rock. It resembles a spear but that’s misleading because throwing one of these would be a stupid thing to do. Rather, one is advised to hang onto it until close enough to stab something. Even then you’d better hit the thing you’re stabbing in just the right place or the point can bounce off of bone and you’ll have succeeded only in pissing off something much bigger than you.
There are four of us in this chase, and we’re tired. We’ve been after the beast for two solid days without food or water. We want to stop, all of us, but we won’t because this is our job.
The youngest one keeps lagging behind. It’s his first time on the hunt and he’s only just discovered it’s not a lot of fun. We call him the Kaa, which is what we call all the young ones. He won’t get his name until he’s made his first kill. Which will be soon, provided he doesn’t quit on us.
The thing we are hunting—our name for it is a somewhat un-spellable guttural noise—is wounded. We hurt it the first time we tried to bring it down. As the leader I remain many paces ahead of the others, stopping periodically to check for tracks, and for blood. I’m a very good tracker.
The dream leaps ahead to the moment we finally come upon our prey. It is, in the modern parlance, a giant cat of some kind: a lion, or a cheetah. Only it’s not exactly, as this dream is taking place tens of thousands of years ago. It is perhaps an evolutionary offshoot of a lion, or a cheetah. There were few of them then and none of them now.
With great pride he strides forward and raises his spear, meaning to strike the creature’s soft underbelly, which lies exposed. But I’ve made a mistake. The cat-thing isn’t quite ready to die yet, and just moments before the killing blow is struck it lashes out with its sharp claws and catches the Kaa in the stomach.
In shock and pain, the Kaa lurches backwards and unfortunately drops his spear. Never drop your spear. The cat is upon him before the three of us can do much of anything about it.
I jump onto the animal’s back and wrap my arm around its neck, rolling him on top of me and then throwing him away from the Kaa. (The Kaa is mortally wounded already, and will die without reaching his manhood. This I know without looking at him.) Then the three of us surround the cat as it decides which of us is the greatest threat. It settles on me. With a mighty lunge, it pounces.
The creature bites into my shoulder with its sharp, jagged teeth—not a mortal wound, but painful—but I get the better of him, sliding my sharpened stone spear between his ribs. We land on the ground together. I feel its jaw slacken and the teeth slide loose from my flesh as it dies.
Pushing the dead thing off of me, I rise. I am bleeding from my own wounds and also covered in the creature’s viscera. And I am happy. I howl in triumph.
It’s at that moment she appears. She walks out from the tall grasses, a pale white woman with long red hair and devastating blue eyes, and a regal carriage that speaks to me of royalty not yet even imagined in this time and place.
Her clothing varies from dream to dream: a Victorian dress; a sari; simple peasant rags; or a smart business suit. And sometimes she’s wearing nothing at all. She looks down at the dead thing, and then at me. She speaks. Her voice is an ice-cold splash of water, and seems impossibly loud.
“Urrr,” she says, tears streaming down her face, “how could you?”
And that’s when I wake up.
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10 – 1 – 10
IMMORTAL IS COMING