What’s your life worth on the open market?
A debt collector can tell you precisely.
Lirium plays the part of the grim reaper well, with his dark trenchcoat, jackboots, and the black marks on his soul that every debt collector carries. He’s just in it for his cut, the ten percent of the life energy he collects before he transfers it on to the high potentials, the people who will make the world a better place with their brains, their work, and their lives. That hit of life energy, a bottle of vodka, and a visit from one of Madam Anastazja’s sex workers keep him alive, stable, and mostly sane… until he collects again. But when his recovery ritual is disrupted by a sex worker who isn’t what she seems, he has to choose between doing an illegal hit for a girl whose story has more holes than his soul or facing the bottle alone–a dark pit he’s not sure he’ll be able to climb out of again.
The first three episodes of the Debt Collector serial are collectively the length of a short novel, or 152 pages. These are the first three of nine episodes in the first season of The Debt Collector serial. This dark and gritty future-noir is about a world where your life-worth is tabulated on the open market and going into debt risks a lot more than your credit rating. Episode 4, Broken, releases 4/17/13. For more about the Debt Collector serial, see DebtCollectorSeries.com
“Hello boys.” I salute them. “Made it home without losing my breakfast.” They’re still judging me with their looks, so I pick up Larry’s shot, throw it back, and slam it down, his look of frozen disgust turned away. The vodka burns, and I cough even though I expect it. The ten percent still buzzes inside me, and I know the life force is kicking against the alcoholic onslaught carving a liquid path of happy through my system.
I’ve already placed my order with Madam Anastazja for one of her high-end sex workers who cater to collectors. No familiar faces, I added online this time. It’s easier to get lost in a girl when I don’t know her face, yet. Lost is where I need to be right now, and I have just the recipe to get there. Wait till the nausea passes. Get a hot shower and a change of clothes. Stow my trenchcoat in the closet by the door until I need to dress the part of Death again. Do three shots with the boys to get me started, then spend an hour of tangled limbs and ecstasy in the sheets with the girl. Finally, split the rest of the bottle until we’re both so stupid drunk we don’t remember any of it.
It’s my routine, it makes me forget the spook and the fresh black mark on my soul, and I don’t mess with it. The next day, I’m back to normal, on the sort of even-keel that gets me through the day and the night and the day after that. Until I collect again.
Plus it saves me from drinking the entire bottle alone.
Susan Kaye Quinn grew up in California, where she wrote snippets of stories and passed them to her friends during class. Her teachers pretended not to notice and only confiscated her stories a couple times.
Susan left writing behind to pursue a bunch of engineering degrees, but she was drawn back to writing by an irresistible urge to share her stories with her niece, her kids, and all the wonderful friends she’s met along the way.
She doesn’t have to sneak her notes anymore, which is too bad.
Susan writes from the Chicago suburbs with her three boys, two cats, and one husband. Which, it turns out, is exactly as a much as she can handle.