Icarus Bleeds is that rare story that seemed to spring out fully formed, a gift from the muse in exchange for my long hours of grinding devotion. The novella is out today from Forbidden Fiction, and the story page here will include links to various sites where it can be purchased.
Here's the blurb:
Icarus, a man on the run, dreams of wings, and of taking flight like the surgically modified rich and famous of Central City. The hacker who harbors him will do anything to keep him, including paying for the dangerous operation in a back alley chop shop. Neither can imagine how much the wings will truly cost. (M/M)
And the opening:
I will call him Icarus, because he worked so hard to erase his birth name that I will not commit the sin of returning it to him now. The things I said and did when I knew him will only make sense if you understand how beautiful he was, so I will try to force the words of mortals to describe a man who never seemed to belong to earth at all.
Icarus first came to me in the dark, in the rain, passing out of the shadows falling over the street, slipping smoothly into the shadows I made for myself. His eyes glowed from the corner where he took a seat, huddled under shelves loaded with discarded computer equipment. Even then I wondered how a shadow could be so luminous within a shadow, how black could shimmer from within black.
I wasn’t in the habit of looking at my clients. They came because they wanted to be forgotten, and they generally did not want to be seen either. I could not help myself with Icarus. He reminded me of flesh I liked to pretend I didn’t have. Eyes, lips, fingertips, inner thighs, the sides of my stomach, the soles of my feet. And, yes. Tongue. Cock. Thoughts both crude and poetic competed to distract me from the mechanical process of obscuring someone from all the files and IP addresses that affirmed that person’s existence.
I avoided looking at his skin, a lighter shade of what is called black than my own purple-tinged pigment. Icarus’s brand of black flowed with honey, shone with sunlight, glittered with the gold that may once have be- longed to Pharaoh. Long, thin fingers, delicate as a girl’s. Red-gold palms, and the beginnings of a scar, a telltale revelation of a story that started in the hands and parted the flesh of the forearm nearly to the elbow.
He saw me looking, and pulled the sleeves of his sweater down low, clutching bunches of the material in clenched fists. “Can you really make me disappear?”
I snorted. “Of course not. Not these days, not with the backups they keep and the triple cross checks they have to avoid failure conditions. Best I can do is make them forget to look for you.”
He nodded, the gesture emphasizing the length of his neck, the quality of his silence. “How much?”
“How much you got?”
He shrank back from me, receding into the forest of parts and cords. “I’m not looking for favors.”
“I don’t do favors. I do a sliding scale. You pay what you can afford to pay. What you think is fair. I trust you.”
I sighed. No one ever understood this when I bothered to explain. “Because I’m not one of them. I don’t want to act like one.”
He swallowed, his Adam’s apple moving gracefully up and down in that impossibly lean neck. “I was going to see what you would take.” He bit his lip and didn’t explicate, but I got an idea of what he’d had in mind by the way his hands crept toward his fly, the gesture so subtle that I wasn’t sure it had been a conscious invitation.
On any other night, with any other man, I wouldn’t have. I would have kissed that smooth, wide forehead, done my work for free, and sent him back into the street uttering the vague promise that someday, when he could, he would take care of me. With Icarus, I could not resist the offer. I had to keep him a little longer. Though I hated myself for it, the sentence passed my lips as if it made up part of my daily stock in trade. “After I finish, you’ll come upstairs with me.”
His bowed head telegraphed his acquiescence well before his soft words. “Thank you.”
I should warn you that this is a dark story, but it's also one of the best I've written. You'll find the rest here.