"STATIC is an edgy, dark, and delicious read! Tawny Stokes is a tasty new voice in YA fiction." –Michelle Rowen, national bestselling author
During the summer before her senior year, 17 year old band groupie, Salem Vale, has been following her favorite punk rockers, Malice, from gig to gig hoping that one night she might get backstage and meet the sinisterly sexy guys. She’s been saving her virginity for the lead singer Thane. One fateful evening she gets her wish. It’s a dream come true.
Except the dream turns to a nightmare when she wakes up in a dumpster, tossed away like yesterday’s trash, with no memory of what happened the night before. She feels strange, different, as if something is trying to get out. Soon she realizes she’s changing…turning into something not quite human.
Now a hunger deep inside claws at her to feed, to siphon energy from those around her. Before she can do just that, Trevor, the band’s roadie shows up and stops her from killing. With his help she learns to control the hunger inside, because he’s just like her. And in return he wants her help to do one little thing…
Help him kill the members of Malice.
You belong to me…
I own you…
The hypnotic timbre of Thane’s voice surged through my body making me tingle all over. Like a rush of heroin injected into my vein, soothing me, exciting me, I was completely and utterly hooked.
The bustling crowd in front of the stage swayed back and forth and I swayed with them. I was caught in the movement—the flow of people stirred like a whirlpool to the intoxicating rhythm and razor sharp lyrics of Malice.
Your life’s in my hands…
I’m sucking your soul…
My favorite band for the past year, I’d traveled, with my best friend Chloe, across Idaho and Washington in the past two months to see them play. My mom had been really cool about it, even lending me her car—an old POS, but a vehicle nonetheless—to drive to the shows just as long as I didn’t drive home trashed. I’d attempted it one night, but got scared when I couldn’t keep it on the road, and pulled over at a rest stop. Chloe and I slept in the car.
Thankfully no crazed psycho killer raped and mutilated us. The worst that came at us was a stray dog looking for some scraps. Chloe gave it the rest of her cheeseburger that we’d picked up a MacDonald’s drive thru after the show.
For eight gigs, I’d been entranced by the four member—three guys and one girl—band. My body responded to every aspect of their music. My head pounded to the constant heady thump of the drums, my heart thrashed to every guitar riff, and my thighs clenched with every word lead singer Thane uttered into the microphone.
Some songs he looked like he was making love to the equipment, running his fingers up and down the silver pole, uttering a lover’s words in its ear. I ached and throbbed wishing I could be that thin pole of shiny metal. If only he’d hold me like that, gripping me tightly, running his sweet lips over my face and neck. My eyes nearly rolled back in my head in ecstasy imagining what that would feel like.
That was when Chloe punched me in the arm starling me from my fantasy. “Salem?”
“What?” I grunted, peering at her between strands of black and blond hair hanging in my eyes.
“Do you want some of this?”
I glanced down to see her passing me some vodka. I took the offered bottle and tipped it to my lips swallowing down a good portion. It burned going down, but it was a good burn, telling me I was still sober. Which I needed to be if I was going to complete my mission of getting a back stage pass to meet the band. This was their final gig for the summer in my home city—Boise, Idaho—and I wouldn’t get another chance to offer up my virginity to Thane. I’d been holding onto it just for him.
My mom had always told me that virginity was a gift and the guy better be someone special enough to give it to. I figured Thane was extremely special. I mean, my mom had given hers up to some Rock God in the 80’s, I suspected it was either Keith Richards or Iggy Pop because she had signed pictures of them both thanking her for a stellar night and when she mentioned either one of them she got this little smile on her lips and a devilish sparkle in her eye.
Before I could hand the bottle back to Chloe, the couple next to us bumped into my arm and I nearly dropped it. I turned around to glare at them, but they were so busy making out that they didn’t notice. That was one thing I did notice about Malice gigs, there always seemed to be a lot of couples kissing and groping each other either on the stage floor or in darkened corners peppered around the venue.
In Spokane, when I went to the bathroom at the club the band was playing in, I happened upon two girls making out in one of the stalls. Although I was an equal opportunity snogger, that had thrown me for a loop. I certainly knew some people were gay, I didn’t have an issue with that—I had an uncle who was gay and a friend at school—it was just I’d never seen it so graphically displayed before.
Once I’d finally given the bottle back to Chloe, she wiped the top with the hem of her t-shirt—I guess she didn’t appreciate my spit—and took a pull, then tucked it back into the pocket of her army green jacket that swam on her lanky but scrawny frame.
“Did you figure out how we’re going to score backstage passes yet?”
Shaking my head, I set my attention on the security guards off to one side of the stage, handing passes on strings to a few big-breasted Goth wannabes. At every show I watched similar guards giving passes to similar types of girls. The two times I’d asked for one, they’d looked me up and down, likely taking in my black 10 holed Doc Martens, jeans-a few worn spots at the knees and on the ass—shaggy mop of black and white hair, and Betty Boop t-shirt that didn’t stretch out to a DD cup, or to a C for that matter and disregarded me in the time it took to do the bra calculations.
This time I came armed. I’d shoved my mom’s silicone gel boobs into my bra under my vintage Sex Pistols t-shirt. That made me go from an A cup to a perky B. I was also wearing my extra special pair of worn jeans that made my ass look good. I’d considered also wearing my mom’s butt enhancer panties—she had real body image issues—but decided against it. I didn’t want to look like a complete whore.
“I’m going to ask real nice.” A trickle of sweat ran down the back of my neck. I wiped at it. I really didn’t want to have sweat stains on the back of my t-shirt. The heat in the club was nearly oppressive. Too many bodies packed into too small a room.
Chloe eyed me dubiously, black eyeliner starting to run down her gaunt cheeks. “You did that the last time. And the security dude was a real dickhead about it.”
“That was before I had these.” I stuck out my chest and cupped my boobs.
Chloe shook her head, her short cap of fire-engine red hair swinging. “Do you really think that’s going to work?”
“Duh? That’s all guys understand. Boobs. It’s as if they are actually communicating with them, the way they stare.”
“Well, then, good luck with hypnotizing these security assholes with your perfect B boobs.” Chloe laughed. “You should go soon cuz it sounds like they’re getting ready to wrap up the set.”
She was right. Devon, the girl band member, stepped forward to roll into her bass solo, her pink Tokyopop pigtails bouncing to the rhythm. It was the beginning of their song, Sin City, which they always played second to last. Straightening my shoulders, I made my way, by pushing and shoving, through the pulsating crowd toward the right side of the stage.
When I reached my destination, there were three bimbos standing in front of me giggling and jiggling at the two beefy security guys. It just about made me want to barf. I actually had to put my hand to my mouth just in case I did.
“Excuse me,” I yelled over top one of the girl’s bleached blond head. “Can I get a couple of passes?”
The blond whipped around to glare at me. She had one of those hoops in her nose that made her look like a bull. I wondered if I waved a red flap if she’d charge at me. She looked scary enough to do just that.
One of the security guys looked me up and down. “Sorry. I just ran out.”
I noticed the passes dangling from the all three of the girls’ hands. “They got some.”
“Those were my last three.” He shrugged and went back to ogling one of the three girls who was wearing a black fishnet top and nothing underneath. I think her nipples were even pierced. I managed to spy a glint of sliver when she turned to glare at me too.
Blondie continued to glare at me. “Why don’t you run along little girl? Go play with your Goth Barbie.”
I hated when people assumed I was so young. I was seventeen but short—five feet one—and I got mistaken for fourteen all. The. Time. It didn’t help that I was small too—a whopping size one—with petite delicate features courtesy of my mom who looked like a punk pixie most days with her short spiky black hair and colorful tattoos covering a lot of her tight compact body.
So it didn’t surprise me when my hands began to shake from the anger welling up. I despised confrontation but right now I hated not having a back stage pass even more. I glanced up at the stage and watched as Thane moved around with his long sinuous limbs and silky black hair falling in his perfect pale face making my stomach clench. I had to get backstage no matter what.
“I wasn’t talking to you.” I finally said.
She arched her pierced eyebrow and set one hand on her ample hip. “Excuse me? Who do you think you’re talking to?”
I took in her appearance, noticing she wore cheap purple hair extensions, I could plainly see one of the clips in her hairline at her temple, and her face was adorned with several piercings. She looked like she’d been put together with pins.
I smirked. “Skankenstein?”
The two security guys laughed at that, as did one of her friends but not the one with her nipples poking out.
“You bitch!” she shrieked.
I didn’t expect her to hit me. But she did. Hard. An open hand slap right across my left cheek. It stung like hell. I’d never been slapped before and didn’t realize how badly it could hurt. I think my lip was cut as well because I could taste blood in my mouth. I glanced down at her hand and noticed the solid silver rings on her hand. The bitch had turned them in.
“Hey,” one of the security guards shouted, “If you’re going to fight take it outside.”
A little crowd started to form around us. The scent of blood always got teenagers’ attentions. We were like animals in that regard. I don’t know how many times I’d been in one of those crowds watching as two or three or more people beat the crap out of each other for pathetic and irrelevant reasons.
I could read the lips of the guys standing closest to us as they passed the word on about the bitch fight about to happen. What was it with guys wanting to watch two girls fight? I really hated to be in the middle of one, all eyes watching, ready for the scratching and hair pulling that usually entailed in a girl fight and hoping for blood.
Usually a loner, I didn’t like a lot of attention. Preferring to stick to my three or four good friends, I didn’t much like being in a crowd, except at a gig. But then when I came to a Malice concert, it was always just between me and the band. The crowds never bothered me. I just came to hear the music and watch the sexy guys on the stage—I came for the rock fantasy.
So standing in front of a fuming blond bimbo out for blood in a fighting circle surrounded by twenty or thirty people wasn’t making me feel all that good. Again, I felt like I was going to barf. I didn’t want to fight. I wasn’t big on violence; I didn’t even play fighting games on my DS. But I was not the type of person to back down either. My mom had always taught me to stick up for myself. Although I’m sure she didn’t mean that I should punch the shit out of this girl. Even if I wanted to.
Rubbing my cheek, I tried to appeal to the girl’s reasonable side, assuming she possessed one. “I think for that you should give me your backstage pass. We’ll call it even.”
She laughed. “Not likely.” Then she shoved me hard. I stumbled backwards into the murmuring crowd. Two sets of hands pushed me back into the circle. Hey, thanks guys!
It was obvious I wasn’t going to walk away from this easily. Or at all by the murdering look in the blond’s eyes. But no one ever said being a groupie was easy.
Not sure what to do, I glanced up and locked gazes with Thane. He was standing near the side of the stage looking down at me; the microphone stand gripped tightly, his dark eyes piercing me. Heat blossomed inside of me. I’d never been looked at like that by a guy before. As if he wanted to devour me from the toes up. I put a hand to my stomach where butterflies started to flip flop around like beached fish.
A rush of something I couldn’t name shot through my body. Adrenaline or lust, I didn’t know which, but whatever it was made me feel really good. Powerful even. Sexy. Like one of the female members of the X-Men. Storm maybe, or Rogue, maybe even Dark Phoenix before she went insane and killed everyone.
Whatever it was, I liked it.
Putting my attention back on my blond nemesis, I decided I needed to act if I was going to get out of the situation. Faster than I knew I could move, I reached up and snatched the bull ring from her nose.
She screamed and grabbed her nose with both hands. Blood seeped between her fingers to drip on the floor.
The sound of her skin and cartilage ripping made me shiver. Even above the music I had heard it ring in my ears. I felt bad for liking the sound, but she had it coming.
Her two friends gathered her in the safety of their arms but they both stared at me with a mixture of venom and apprehension. I suspected no one saw that coming. I certainly hadn’t.
In a daze, I looked around me, and noticed that she’d dropped her backstage pass onto the floor. Leaning down I snatched it up and smiled. I finally got my backstage pass.
As I hung it around my neck, my gaze met Thane’s once again. He was singing the last lines of their last song but he was watching me. And he smiled.
I smiled in return.
“You’re going to love Static — a deep, dark and sexy ride. This is a creepy and unique addition to the YA paranormal genre that goes a little bit further and gives a little bit more.” – Janet Gurtler, author of I’m Not Her and If I Tell, Sourcebooks Fire.
”STATIC is an edgy, dark, and delicious read! Tawny Stokes is a tasty new voice in YA fiction.” –Michelle Rowen, national bestselling author of Demon Princess series
“Static is an edgy, unique, whirlwind paranormal story with great action and amazing storytelling. This one leads you down a path you won’t forget. Don’t miss it!” – Denise A. Agnew award-winning author of Dark, Deadly Love
Awake a year-long coma, where he literally spent in hell, Caden Butcher, 17, developed a special power. He can speak to demons in their own language. This new trick helps him take over the family exorcism business, from his broken alcoholic father. Having to take care of the finances, Caden makes a decent income getting rid of demons. He’s known as the young whiz-kid exorcist to the stars, obtaining most of his work in Hollywood. But what others don't know is the exorcisms are all staged with the help of his best buddy, a demon he met in hell named Dantalion (Dan).
When an exorcism goes wrong, Caden discovers the demon inside a teen girl is not the run of the mill malicious entity but an adversary from down under who is hell bent on Caden’s destruction. The International Order of Exorcists, an organization that tolerates Caden at best because of his respected father, starts their own investigation because of his screw up.
Now with the help of his demon buddy, and Caden’s girlfriend Aspen Spencer, a skilled necromancer, Caden must track down the rogue demon before he can expose Caden as a fraud and destroy everything that matters to him in his life, ending his reign as the one and only Demon Whisperer.
The skin on Alan Bigby’s pock-marked face rippled as if something was alive underneath it. Something big and bad and nasty wanted out to rip something apart. Unnatural black veins popped out on his forehead and temples as he bucked and writhed against the iron shackles chaining him to the chair. The fat rolls of his enormous ass hung over the sides and jiggled with each spasm. If it had been under different circumstance I would’ve laughed at that.
“I’m going to rip out your innards, Butcher, and eat them raw,” he spat at me.
Then he really did spit. Viscous green phlegm spewed from between his thin cracked lips and landed on the toe of my black Doc Marten. Disgusted, I shook it off, and then dug into the beat-up, brown leather bag I had slung over my shoulder and across my chest for the holy water. It was time to get busy. No more messing around. I had to exorcise this guy and be done with it. The money from this one would pay the rent for the condo my dad and I had. Groceries too for a few months.
“Not today, you’re not,” I said as I unscrewed the sliver cap on the bottle of holy water.
I glanced over at Eleanor Bigby standing in the corner wide-eyed, wringing her hands as she watched in horror as her husband twisted and pulled at the restraints I had put on him. He was bound to a metal chair in the middle of a pentagram that I’d inscribed in blessed chalk on the blond hardwood floor of their big expensive house overlooking the Hollywood Hills. I could see the white sign out the front bay windows.
She probably had no idea that when she called the Butchers to exorcize the demon possessing her husband that it would look like this. She probably thought watching her fat husband crab-walk across the ceiling of their bedroom was disturbing enough.
“Dude, is he going to hurt himself?”
I glanced over my shoulder at the guy holding the camera trained on Alan Bigby. He had shaggy blond hair and a freshly clipped soul patch that I nearly envied. Except I didn’t like him much. He was a dick with too much time and money on his hands.
“For the last time, dude, shut up. I’m the only one supposed to be talking,” I answered, forgetting that the exorcism was being televised.
Trey Summers was an up-and-coming film maker, touted to be the next Tarantino, but I thought he was a hack. He’d directed one lousy music video for some useless pop star and voila he was an insta-star. I thought he was a talentless hack with delusions of grandeur and of getting a lot of ass. Although he did appear to be getting quite a bit by the looks of the two chicks he’d come to the house with.
The red-head smiled at me around the little white straw she had in her mouth. She was enjoying that drink just a bit too much.
I didn’t smile back. It kind of made my stomach churn that she’d come to an exorcism for a good time. The fact that the house was full of people, watching, waiting, while drinking and enjoying finger food passed out by waiters in tuxes, made me down right nauseous. Why in hell did I hang out with these people? Why did I ever agree to this being put on TV? Ten thousand, that was why.
Seven in my pocket, well me and my dad’s pockets, and three to the International Order of Exorcists. Because they were going to be some pissed that I agreed to the recording. It was against the order’s mandates to involve the media in what we did. The world knew we, meaning exorcists, existed but it was in keeping the peace to keep our business on the down low. But since I’d been crowned the exorcist to the stars, I figured it was good publicity for everyone involved. I was hoping the three grand would appease the more militant members of the I.O. into letting me off with a warning.
I returned my attention to Alan, who was still struggling against his restraints and mumbling under his breath. He was speaking Latin. I recognized the dialect but not the particular words. As far as I knew, it was probably a bunch of gibberish. A bunch of scary sounding Latin words strung together nonsensically to sound menacing and ominous. It was par for the course. Every exorcism was the same. Demons were so predictable.
I took off my black wool cap, shoved it into my bag, and then ran a hand through my short mess of brown hair. I was starting to sweat a little. It wasn’t the exorcism that had me sweating it was the scrutiny from the masses of people watching. I had to be careful with this one. More cautious than I usually was in situations like these.
I took a step toward the pentagram, making the sign of the cross with the bottle of holy water. It splattered everywhere. Drops landed on Alan Bigby. Smoke curled up from blackened spots on the back of his hands, and two pinpoints on his cheek. I winced as the demon inside writhed from the pain. Holy water was like acid to them.
“Dues, et Pater Domini nostril jesu Christi…”
I started the exorcism, incanting the Rituale Romanum, in the original Latin. I’d done the ritual so many times before it was like reciting Jingle Bells at Christmas time. Cake, man. Cake. Although this time, like all the other times, I changed a few words. The last thing I wanted to do was send the demon back to hell. It just had to look like I did.
If I did accidentally send him back, Dan would be so pissed at me. And I really didn’t want him mad. He was a bastard when he was angry. I knew that well. I still had the scar on my chin from his last temper tantrum.
As I continued to say the verse, I recapped the holy water and slid it back into my bag. I figured I’d inflicted enough pain for the crowd’s enjoyment. I didn’t want to damage Alan Bigby anymore than he already had been. His wrists looked pretty raw from rubbing against the iron handcuffs. But he’d heal. Besides, Alan Bigby was a dick. He screwed around on his wife and he bilked two of his business partners for millions. I’d done my research on the guy. My marks always had certain traits—they were rich, influential and total assholes. People who had it coming to them in all kinds of ways.
Karma was definitely a bitch.
Exorcisms were never all that easy on the possessed. Some demons really messed around with their hosts. Inflicting all kinds of horrors on their bodies and minds. I’d seen one demon tear the fingernails off an eight year old girl just for fun. That image still made my gut roil. Luckily, Dan was cool. He’d never do that. Deep down he was a decent shit for a demon. Besides, that was part of our deal. No permanent physical or emotional damage.
For show, I thrust my hand out toward Alan and said the words even louder, letting the pitch of my voice rise higher and higher over the din of the murmuring crowd. They were leaning in, eager for more. I glanced around me and took in all the awestruck faces. They were mesmerized, enchanted by the scene. By my power.
Man, did I have an enormous ego. My dad was right. It was going to get me into trouble one of these days. Hopefully not today.
As I neared the end of the ritual, Alan twitched and convulsed, his eyes rolling back in his sockets. That got a gasp or two from the crowd. The demon was really putting on a show now. Undulating like rippling water beneath Alan’s pale skin. At one point, it looked like it he was going to punch a hole through Alan’s midsection. Mrs. Bigby cried out, putting a shaky hand to her mouth. I hated doing this to her, she was a decent lady, she just managed to marry a dickwad, but hell, a guy had to make a living.
“Qui cum Patre et eodem spiritu sancto vivit et eregnat Deus…”
I could feel Trey pressing in behind me with his camera, like a media happy vulture. I wanted to whip around and knock the guy once or twice in the face. He had no manners. And he had no understanding about personal space. Because he was definitely invading mine.
But I didn’t need to do anything, because the demon inside Alan took that moment to focus on Trey.
“Trey Summers, you lecherous son-of-a-bitch.”
It was funny hearing those words with Alan’s voice. Especially since the two men were business partners. Alan was funding Trey’s first movie. Which after tonight, I imagined was going to be in the dumper. I mean, who would want their exorcism broadcasted to millions on YouTube. Alan really wasn’t looking his best right now. No one looked good with a demon inside them.
I glanced behind me and saw Trey’s face pale. I had to bite down on my tongue to stifle the laugh that wanted to burst out. Not that I enjoyed wallowing in other people’s misery, it’s just that his misery was fair game.
“Have I ever told you how much of a loser I think you are, Trey? You suck.”
Trey looked around, his cheeks reddening. “That’s just the demon talking, right?” He looked at me, pleading in his gaze. “Right?”
I let him suffer for a few more moments while I finished the incantation. “Amen.” I signed the cross in the air.
Alan’s body made one more desperate back breaking spasm, and then slumped down into the chair, his head hanging slack, his mouth open, drool dribbling down his double chins.
“Yeah, Trey, it was the demon talking.” I could hear his sigh of relief. I crossed the lines of the pentagram to unlock Alan’s wrists. “But guess where he gets his material from.” I tapped my finger against Alan’s forehead.
That roused Alan from his stupor and he blinked up at me, spittle coating his chin. Wide-eyed, he looked around, taking in the spectacle that was his exorcism. He would’ve had no idea what was going on. The last thing he likely remembered was whatever he’d been doing twenty four hours ago before he’d become possessed. Everything else would be a blank. Although some demons allowed their hosts to be aware of what was going on. It was the biggest mindfuck of all to watch yourself do horrible unimaginable things and be unable to stop.
I knew Dan kept his hosts dumb. It was also part of our bargain.
I unlocked the cuffs and helped Alan to his feet. He stared at me, his dark bushy eyebrows knit together in confusion. “Who the hell are you?”
“Caden Butcher, sir.”
“What the hell are you doing here?”
“Saving your soul, sir.”
Mrs. Bigby took that moment to rush to her husband’s aid. She wrapped her arms around him and kissed his doughy cheek. “Oh Alan, I was so scared.”
He didn’t immediately respond to his wife, but continued to gape around the room as more people started to crush in on him, wanting to welcome him back, or take pictures. I saw flashes out of the corner of my eye.
“Who are these people?” Alan sputtered. “Someone tell me what the hell is happening here?”
I put my hand on his big shoulder, preparing him for my big speech. I one I’d practiced like a hundred times before in front of a mirror. Doing exorcisms in Hollywood was very much like acting. “Alan Bigby, you were possessed by a level one demon and I performed an exorcism on you to banish the demon back to hell.”
He looked to his wife for confirmation. She nodded vigorously, as she continued to cling to him and kiss his cheeks. “I was so scared, Alan. You were actually crawling up the walls in the bedroom.”
He looked back at me. “You’re serious?”
Shaking his head, his gaze settled on Trey who was still holding the camera on his shoulder. His face darkened. “Are you taping this?”
Trey licked his lips nervously. “Ah, yeah, I am, Alan, but it’ll be really-,”
Alan shrugged off his wife’s hands and rushed toward Trey. “Turn that fucking thing off you asshole!”
Smiling, I got the hell out of the way. Good thing I got my fee upfront. There was no way in hell Alan Bigby, up-and-coming producer, was going to pay me for making him look like an ass on TV.
How would you describe Demon Whisperer and Static?
Dark, dangerous, original thrill rides that you won't be able to put down.
Which of your characters do you feel you relate to the most and why?
Probably Salem from Static, because of her love of music and her stubborn pigheadedness to do things on her own.
Were you a reader in your teen years and if so, who was your favorite author?
Big time reader. Stephen King was my main source of literature. Probably explains a thing a two about me.
What one 2012 release are you most looking forward to reading next year?
Fear: A Gone Novel by Michael Grant, I LOVE this dystopian series. So good.
Are you currently in the process of writing a sequel or newer book?
I am writing the next Caden Butcher book, and working on something completely new, something really high-concept and exciting. Can't wait to talk about it.
Tawny Stokes has always been a writer. From an early age, she’d spin tales of serial killers in love, vampires taking over the world, and sometimes about fluffy bunnies turned bunnicidal maniacs. An honour student in high school, with a penchant for math and English, you’d never know it by the foot high blue Mohawk and Doc Martens, which often got her into trouble. No longer a Mohawk wearer, Tawny still enjoys old school punk rock, trance, zombie movies, teen horror films, and fluffy bunnies. She lives in Canada with her fantastical daughter, two cats, and spends most of her time creating new stories for teens.
Tawny also writes adult paranormal/urban fantasy fiction under the name Vivi Anna, and is an aspiring screenwriter.