SA Collins has a new queer alt-earth sci fi book out, book one in the Cove Chronicles: “Beware Mohawks Bearing Gifts.”
It’s 1847, New York. William Matthias Hallett is a fashionable dandy of the Manhattan social set. His life is laid out before him: a world of soirees, riches and luxury. Yet all he wants to do is find an adventure so deliciously wicked that it would satiate his soul for an eternity.
So, disguised in a lower-class manner, into the notorious Five Points he goes, seeking that spark of adventure. That is until it greets him in the form of his old schoolmates from Dartmouth College – a pair of Mohawk warriors who will up-end his world and all he knew it to be forever.
Set in an alternative Earth that deviates from our own known timeline, William Matthias Hallett, a Mohawk/British New York socialite and dandy, who wants very little to do with his upper-crust Manhattan set, sets out to the notorious Five Points, seeking an adventure so decidedly wicked to satiate him for a lifetime. He gets far more than he bargains for when he crosses paths with two Mohawk warriors from their days at Dartmouth college.
Thrust into an unseen war that the Mohawks and the rest of the Haudenosuanee Confederacy has been fighting for over 600 years, William must come to terms with his maternal heritage that is pressing ever forward as their newly created sovereign nation rapidly expands, isolating the burgeoning United States along the eastern seaboard and now reaching a boiling point with the new Americans.
Central to this sci-fi adventure is the creation story of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy where myth becomes reality in ways that William can scarcely imagine.
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The Five Points existed where Cross and Orange streets intersected with Anthony, bordered on the east and west by Water and Mulberry streets. Hell’s residence on earth, if there ever was one. And now I found myself swimming in the rip current of their existence.
And therein lay my current problem: I labored too long to find the men. A woman, who might have been quite striking save for how life had dealt her blow upon blow so now she bore a mere shadow of what God had intended at birth to qualify as beauty, made her way toward me. The purposefulness of her stride left little doubt that I had a target painted upon me, and I had only been on the sidewalk ten or so seconds.
However, I discovered an added benefit to my notice of her advance, for just behind her I spied the last of the gentlemen making their way down Cross toward Mulberry. I surmised their goal lay beyond the Points, but as to their exact destination, their plan escaped me.
The wharf, perhaps?
I did not know for certain. ’Twas the only thing I could think of lying in that direction. I tried in vain to circumvent the advancing barracuda harlot.
“Well now, a strappin’ man like yerself. Where ya off to in such a hurry?”
She stood in front of me, attempting to ply her trade, as if I could not deduce her ulterior motive. I would have definitely been put off by the state of her teeth, which ran the gamut from putrid yellow to mildewing green and resolved themselves into decaying black. Her breath billowed about me, a mixture of the death that had already manifested itself within her and whatever ale she had consumed thus far to mask—poorly—the putridity of her pre-decomposition.
The harlot, for all intents and purposes, embodied a walking prostitute corpse. If I was clear on one thing, Necromancy did not fall under the classification of adventure in my book. I possessed little stomach for death. Little did I know how wrong I was to be on this singular, salient point.
“Eh, not interested,” I replied with much haste and attempted to slip from the grasp of her left arm around my neck, entwined like a serpent hellbent upon consumption. Adam should have kept a better eye on Eve as the female sex had learned far too much from that reptilian encounter of biblical verse.
“Ah now, a virile buck of a man, howzabout a quick one in the alleyway?”
She ground her hip against my thigh, and the frailty of her form along with her breath nearly made me retch. However, I had not lost sight of her ulterior motive, which was to rob me of my money whilst she plied the dregs of her feminine wiles upon me. She did not think I noticed the sly movement of her right hand that ingeniously held a small knife where she was actively slicing the threads along my pocket and the few coins stashed there.
“I said, no, thank you.” I slipped from her grasp, and she attempted to move on with my coins in her right hand. I promptly grabbed and applied the right pressure to her wrist and forced her hand to relinquish the coins back into my own. I smiled and moved on, the confident winner in our cutpurse mazurka. I pushed my finger through the hole of the jacket, silently cursing. At some point I would have to mend it but pressed on lest my adventure slip away from me. And I had little intention of allowing that to pass.
She stood there eyeing me with a knowing look, as if to memorize every last line of me so she could challenge me anon.
Good luck with that, m’dear.
As I moved down Cross Street in pursuit of the men, I spared a glance back at her and noticed that while she took stock of her loss, she unwittingly broke the rule of the Points as well, standing too long in one spot. For now, she was being accosted by some young boy who obviously intended to pickpocket her tattered purse.
“Barracudas, beware the little piranhas…” I murmured as I moved out of view.
I finally reached the corner of Mulberry, stopped, and scanned the other options on that corner until I spotted them to my right, heading down Mulberry toward the docks.
“Just as I thought.” Though who I was speaking to was beyond me. I guess I took stock that I had survived another night in the Points and now had a lead on what might unfold before me.
With as much stealth as I possessed, I raced along Mulberry Street, and in my haste, I closed the distance to barely a half block behind the quartet. I could not see the boy, as the three imposing dark figures were surrounding him. Only when we moved several blocks toward the docks alongside the Battery did I notice the men had produced rather odd-looking walking sticks. Long and darkly metallic, as if made from a highly polished gun metal, gleaming in the meager reflective light. I had not noticed the sticks before, and this piece of male accoutrement would have sure caught my eye, for I possessed a rather large and tasteful collection of walking sticks.
The night air was becoming chilled along the river front. Yet, for some reason I could not discern, I became acutely aware that I may not be the only one doing the following. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as if, like a predator caught up in chasing his prey, I never bothered to take note that a larger predator was on my heels. I did my best to convince myself it was nothing more than the thrill of the oncoming adventure that had me so on edge and keyed up.
::This is not your game, William…::
I stopped suddenly as the voice played upon my ear, as if whispered to me and me alone. I looked around and found no one else, save for the quartet moving off further the longer I stayed and tried to figure out what had just happened. The only sounds were my quick, panicked breaths.
::You should go home, Will…this is not for you.::
I spun around, to find only breathing and most assuredly the rapid beating of my heart keeping me company.
Damn it all, that infernal voice!
At first, I might have mistaken it for my own inner voice warning me to be wary of what I was doing, but upon review, I realized the voice bore little resemblance to mine at all. Though, somehow, I knew I had heard it before.
Who in blazes could it be?
I had precious little time to think as my conundrum foursome made their way just beyond where I could make them out. I renewed my efforts to close the distance.
A few moments later, I found myself only ten or so feet behind them, worried now that whatever throng recently occupied this area had thinned out to a few people along the waterfront. I decided to duck into one of the building doorways to allow a tad more distance between me and my quarry, trying not to draw too much attention upon myself. The ruse worked, as I observed that one of the men to the rear happened to glance back just as I slipped from view into the darkened doorway.
Rather than suddenly appearing along the path at a later time, I decided to dart across the street and appear as if I had approached from dockside, merely paralleling their advance down the road. It was then I felt the “pursuer being pursued” again. Only now it seemed to overtake me and whip along the street as a gust of air that came from out of nowhere yet carried none of the chill night air. The breeze felt oddly warm and held a very familiar scent, though I could not recall, even with every part of my being working upon it, where I had smelled it before. So now I had a voice to pair with the olfactory sensation of a moment ago. I knew the two connected themselves somehow. I stalled momentarily as I contemplated this, before picking up the pace along the sidewalk nearest the docks, lest I lose my quarry altogether.
SA “Baz” Collins hails from the San Francisco Bay Area where he lives with his husband and Zorro, a character of a cat. A classically trained singer/actor (under a different name), Baz knows a good yarn when he sees it.
Based on years of his work as an actor, Baz specializes in character study pieces. It is more important for him that the reader comes away with a greater understanding of the characters and the reasons they make the decisions they do, rather than the situations they are in. It is this deep dive into their manners, their experiences and how they process the world around them that make up the body of Mr. Collins’ work.
You can find his works at sacollins.com, violetquillredux.com and as a co-host of the wrotepodcast.com series.
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