The following is the unedited excerpt from the novel INHERITED DJINN (Djinn & Bourbon Book One) releasing from Darkerwood Publishing in Summer 2019 (tentative):
“It’s been over fourteen days!” a voice, thick with a British accent, bellowed at me from the blackness of the cluttered basement.
I drew back as every hair on my arm stood on end, and fought the urge to bolt back up the stairs.
“You’re not Harry MacPhegor,” the voice said, confused.
“Harry’s dead,” I said into the darkness, realizing how cold my voice sounded. “I’m his nephew, Bill. Who are you and why are you in my uncle’s basement?”
“Oh. Is this a basement?” the voice asked. “I never know where I am.”
“Who are you?” I asked again, firmer this time. I looked around for a weapon and saw a cast iron antique fire tending set. Snagging the poker, my eyes darted around the darkness.
A shadow in the far corner of the room moved. It was the size of a rat.
“What the hell?” That’s when I realized I seriously needed a flashlight because I couldn’t find the light switch.
I turned back around and retreated up the stairs, two at a time, the voice calling after me as I went. “Bill MacPhegor, wait, come back!”
The entire incident had me so shaken, I waited a solid ten minutes before I could talk myself into going back down. In that time I was miserable amongst all the junk in my uncle’s antique shop. His haunted antique shop. I stifled a laugh. I wasn’t a believer in the supernatural and it was the most ridiculous thought to cross my mind.
Upon rifling through some drawers in the desk, I found a flashlight. Grabbing a broom, and a pair of brass knuckles from behind the counter, I got up my courage and started back down into the pitch of the basement. The disembodied voice was still chatting away.
“Maybe it’s been nineteen days, or twenty! I don’t remember anymore. I’m so cramped!” the sad voice bellowed, sounding pathetic and lost.
“Where’s the damn light?” I asked, my eyes following the flashlight beam along all the walls and to the light fixture on the ceiling in the center of the room itself. If there was a way to turn it on, I wasn’t finding it.
“Turn the bulb,” the voice told me. Then muttered, “Idiot.”
“When I find you, I’m going to kick your ass,” I said. “Besides, you’re the idiot who’s trapped in a basement that isn’t locked.”
I went to the bulb, turned it, and it beamed on, blinding me for a second. It was one of the LED bulbs that allegedly wouldn’t be hot to the touch. We’d see about that when I had to turn it off again. I was definitely going to have to replace the fixture, or at least install a new pull cord to turn the light on and off in a more reasonable way.
Looking around the room, all I saw was more junk. Old things on shelves and piled high in boxes. My uncle was a fucking hoarder.
“Are you going to let me out?” came the voice again. The voice was decidedly male, thirty-ish, and definitely British.
“Where are you?” I asked, more interested in the box of old clocks I’d begun rifling through.
“In the bottle on the shelf.”
At this point, I don’t mind admitting, I honesty thought someone was screwing with me. Maybe a neighbor, or some kids, or even one of my friends, though I didn’t have many of those, and none of them knew I was here. My eyes scanned the shelves of books and weird nik knacks. Finally, I saw it, in a corner all by itself. About a foot of space had been cleared around it on all sides. In the dark corner, the bottle appeared to actually glow. I went over to it and grabbed it, turning the bottle in my hands. I shook it.
The thing inside said, “Hey, what the fuck, man? Why do you have to be a wanker?”
I looked at the bottle more closely. It was just a syrup bottle about ten inches tall, shaped like a thick woman, but it had a cork inserted in the opening instead of a screw cap. Someone had added a strange, but aesthetically pleasing, symbol on one side in silver paint.
“Maybe there’s a light inside?” I mumbled to myself. The bottle was cold. Too cold for the ambient temperature of the room.
“Let me out.”
“How?” On a whim, and upon remembering Aladdin’s magic lamp, I rubbed it.
“Let’s start by taking out the cork, genius,” the thing said.
While the genii’s sarcasm and penchant for insulting me made me want to bury it in some deep chasm somewhere just to be a jerk, I wanted to know what it was and how it knew my uncle. The logical part of my brain wanted to make sure I wasn’t suffering from hallucinations.
I pulled out the cork, then rubbed the bottle again. The damn thing jumped in my hands and began vibrating. So I set it back on the shelf, stepped back a few paces and watched as the bottle danced across the shelf, stopping dangerously at the edge. Reaching out, I kept it from going over.
A thin line of continuous smoke, quite a bit for the size of such a small bottle, streamed out into the room, billowing in front of the shelf, culminating into an almost solid figure. It didn’t disperse like normal smoke did. It just went to the same place growing thicker and thicker until finally, a tall, thin man stepped out of the smoke wearing jeans and a black t-shirt. He wasn’t particularly built. His angular, bony features actually made him appear frail. He had the darkest eyes I’d ever seen. Even though he had humanoid shape, he wasn’t quite human. His skin had a strange blue tint to it. The thick smell of something sweet permeated the room.
My eyes went from the bottle, which had finally stopped moving and smoking, to the man standing in front of me. Was this some kind of joke? Maybe I was going crazy. “So…” I started, not sure what to say to a genii. “You’re a genii in a bottle?”
The thing looked irritated and his voice teetered on the edge of annoyance. “I’m a djinn, and that…” he nodded at the bottle, “…is my vessel.”
“The syrup bottle? And what’s that smell?”
The djinn looked around and sniffed at the air like an animal might. Then he deadpanned, “Syrup.”
I lifted a brow, not sure whether to laugh or run. “What…?”
“I am Paimon, djinn of the fifth order, ruler of two-hundred legions, and next after Lucifer. Got any port? Or bourbon?” The djinn moved past me and up the stairs.
I raced to follow, completely forgetting to turn off the light.
“Wait.” I wasn’t sure what to ask or say. After all, it wasn’t every day one saw a djinn emerge from a bottle. “Why were you in the bottle?”
The djinn had made his way to my uncle’s desk and found a bottle of bourbon and a highball glass in the bottom right drawer. He’d done this before. After pouring himself a glass and taking a strong drink, Paimon smiled and sighed contentedly. Then he said, “Twenty days. Where’s Harry?”
“You’re an alcoholic?” I asked, pinching my left arm to make sure I was awake. When it hurt, I began questioning my own sanity. “And I told you, Harry’s dead.”
“Can’t be. I just saw him twenty days ago.” The djinn named Paimon sat back in the chair, a look of confusion knitting his brow. “Besides, Hemmy would have told me. Where’s Hemmy?”
“She works here, in this shop, with Harry. Where have you been?” Paimon shook his head. “You must be the nephew Harry told me about. Always told me how smart you were. How he wanted you to take over when he kicked off. And here we are. Harry is dead, Hemmy is nowhere to be found, and I’m stuck with you. An idiot.”