Author: Valarie Savage Kinney
Exxel Jensen has spent his life finding ways to rid himself of the Heckler, and failed miserably. On the surface, his future is bright: a beautiful wife, a child on the way, and a career he loves as a stand up comedian.
Beneath the surface lurks the darkness: crippling depression, anxiety, and alcoholism.
Helena Jensen has seen her husband spiral downward before and feels helpless to stop it as she watches him falling again. She would do anything to help him, anything to diminish the pain that plagues him.
Exxel knows she would, and he also knows she can’t. Because the person fueling his depression and addictions is someone she can’t see.
And how can he explain the Heckler to anyone, when he doesn’t even understand it himself?
The Heckler handed him the knife.
The Scot had arrived this time in full Highlander regalia, the muted tones of his dark green and brown kilt with the plaid draped over his shoulder seemed appropriate for the occasion. Emeralds glinted from the brooch affixed to his plaid. The tread of his boots was heavy on the tile as the Heckler walked across the floor to Exxel; his hand held forward in offering, the blade shiny in his hand. He stood straight, shoulders pressed back, chin thrust forward. His eyes were soft and watery and as he blinked, slow, salty tears ran down his face.
Exxel’s hand shook as he took it; his hand trembled even as his fingers curled around the hilt of the blade, blue veins rising fat and solid beneath his skin. It felt cool in his hands, the metal: cold and warm, damp and powerful. It slid slightly in his grip and he tightened his hand around it. His breath was heavy in his chest; weighted and thick, and too moist to breathe deeply. Exxel closed his eyes and as he opened them, his eyelashes clung together for a second, sticky with tears. Clearly, he felt the slow pounding of his heart in his ears, a clunking, whooshing sound that left him somewhat lightheaded. He was going to try it one more time. Just once more. And then…
Valarie Kinney is a writer, fiber artist and Renaissance Festival junkie with a wicked caffeine addiction. She resides in Michigan with her husband, four children, and two insane little dogs. She is the author of Heckled, Slither and Just Hold On, as well as the short stories Copper and Ailith in the KAPOW! anthologies by 7DS Books. Narrator for Dragons of Faith.