Fri
Jul 26 2013 10:00am
Dangerous Women: “Bombshells” (Excerpt)
Jim Butcher

Dangerous Women We are very excited to be able to preview Dangerous Women, a new anthology edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, and featuring 21 new stories from some of the biggest authors in the science fiction/fantasy field. The anthology is available on December 3rd from Tor Books!

Every morning until July 30th, we’ll be previewing excerpts from the stories, returning you to the world of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Brandon Sanderson’s cosmere, and even Westeros itself. Keep an eye on the Dangerous Women index to keep track of them all.

“Bombshells” by Jim Butcher features Harry Dresden’s young protégé, trying to carry on the fight against the forces of darkness without Harry. Read on, then join Rajan Khanna for his review and analysis of the full story.

 

“BOMBSHELLS”

I miss my boss.

It’s been most of a year since I helped him die, and ever since then I’ve been the only professional wizard in the city of Chicago.

Well, okay. I’m not, like, officially a wizard. I’m still sort of an apprentice. And no one really pays me, unless you count the wallets and valuables I lift from bodies sometimes, so I guess I’m more amateur than professional. And I don’t have a PI license like my boss did, or an ad in the phone book.

But I’m all there is. I’m not as strong as he was, and I’m not as good as he was. I’m just going to have to be enough.

So anyway, there I was, washing the blood off in Waldo Butters’ shower.

I did a lot of living outdoors these days, which didn’t seem nearly as horrible during the summer and early autumn as it had during the arctic chill of the previous superwinter. It was like sleeping on a tropical beach by comparison. Still, I missed things like regular access to plumbing, and Waldo let me clean up whenever I needed to. I had the shower heat turned all the way up, and it was heaven. It was kind of a scourgey, scoury heaven, but heaven nonetheless.

The floor of the shower turned red for a few seconds, then faded to pink for a while as I sluiced the blood off. It wasn’t mine. A gang of Fomor servitors had been carrying a fifteen-year-old boy down an alley toward Lake Michigan. If they’d gotten him there, he’d have been facing a fate worse than death. I intervened, but that bastard Listen cut his throat rather than give him up. I tried to save him while Listen and his buddies ran. I failed. And I’d been right there with him, feeling everything he did, feeling his confusion and pain and terror as he died.

Harry wouldn’t have felt that. Harry would have saved the day. He would have smashed the Fomor goons around like bowling pins, picked the kid up like some kind of serial-movie action hero, and taken him to safety.

I missed my boss.

I used a lot of soap. I probably cried. I had begun ignoring tears months ago, and at times I honestly didn’t know when they were falling. Once I was clean—physically, anyway—I just stood there soaking up the heat, letting the water course all over me. The scar on my leg where I’d been shot was still wrinkled, but the color had changed from purple and red to angry pink. Butters said it would be gone in a couple of years. I was walking normally again, unless I pushed myself too hard. But yikes, my legs and various pieces needed to get reacquainted with a razor, even with medium-blond hair.

I was going to ignore them, but… grooming is important for keeping one’s spirits up. A well-kept body for a well-kept mind and all that. I wasn’t a fool. I knew I wasn’t exactly flying level lately. My morale needed all the boost it could get. I leaned out of the shower and swiped Andi’s pink plastic razor. I’d pay Waldo’s werewolf girlfriend back for it later.

I wrapped up about the same time as the hot water ran out, got out of the shower, and toweled off. My things were in a pile by the door—some garage-sale Birkenstocks, an old nylon hiker’s backpack, and my bloodied clothes. Another set gone. And the sandals had left partial tracks in blood at the scene, so I’d have to get rid of them, too. I was going to have to hit another thrift store at this rate. Normally, that would have cheered me up, but shopping just wasn’t what it used to be.

I was carefully going over the tub and floor for fallen hairs and so on when someone knocked. I didn’t stop scanning the floor. In my line of work, people can and will do awful things to you with discarded bits of your body. Not cleaning up after yourself is like asking for someone to boil your blood from twenty blocks away. No, thank you.

“Yes?” I called.

“Hey, Molly,” Waldo said. “There’s, uh… there’s someone here to talk to you.”

We’d prearranged a lot of things. If he’d used the word “feeling” at any point in his sentence, I would have known there was trouble outside the door. Not using it meant that there wasn’t—or that he couldn’t see it. I slipped on my bracelets and my ring and set both of my wands down where I could snatch them up instantly. Only then did I start putting clothes on.

“Who?” I called.

He was working hard not to sound nervous around me. I appreciated the effort. It was sweet. “Says her name is Justine. Says you know her.”

I did know Justine. She was a thrall of the vampires of the White Court. Or at least a personal assistant to one and the girlfriend of another. Harry always thought well of her, though he was a big goofy idiot when it came to women who might show the potential to become damsels in distress.

“But if he was here,” I muttered to myself, “he’d help her.”

I didn’t wipe the steam off the mirror before I left the bathroom. I didn’t want to look at anything in there.

 

“Bombshells” © Jim Butcher


Keep an eye on the Dangerous Women index to keep track of all our excerpts and reviews, and join Rajan Khanna for his review and analysis of “Bombshells”

Dangerous Women on Tor.com: ‹ previous | index | next ›
27 comments
mndrew
1. mndrew
Oh man! You guys are evil, evil dealers of eye-crack.
Melissa McLean
3. Mello
I love it. Can't wait to read it.
mndrew
4. lkeke35
Tor, you big tease!

This book will ake an excellent BD gift.
For mself.
mndrew
5. RobinM
I may have to stop reading these tidbits waiting until December gets harder everytime I do, but I'll probably keep reading anyway.
mndrew
6. UnRiel
Dec 3!!!!! I'm so sick of waiting for the next Dresden universe story. Someone needs to make Jim Butcher a thrall ...
mndrew
7. Mick Hitch
Guess I'll be the first to bring up a nitpick.

Did anybody roll their eyes when Butters said Justine was the one at the door? Jim Butcher seems to be turning her into the MacGuffin of his short stories. Not that I don't think Justine's an awesome character, but this is the third time she's been used as the Herald for getting people around Harry (Thomas, Molly....Even Marcone!) into trouble.

Of course, maybe there's a reason for Justine playing the messenger, and there's something Mr. Butcher is subtly hinting at. Which if this is the case, I want to claim as having totally spotted it. :)
Robert Dickinson
8. ChocolateRob
Aaargh, Need more!! December is too far away. Three page down presses are just not enough.
(time gets very full for chocolatiers in the months before Xmas)
mndrew
9. David Kite
What can I say,I love,love,Harry's World.
mndrew
10. Søren Hjorth
DECEMBER?!?!

*makescrazyeyes*
We need it like a bass guitarist from an 80'ies rock band need heroin!
There's supposed to be ANSWERS in that thing.
Svartalfar!? Mantles!? AND AN GORRAM EXPLANATION!

Who do I have to cut for this thing to come out sooner?!
Who do I have to sell organs to?!
What devil do I make a pact with?! Will they accept first, second and thirdborns as tender currency?!
*twitch*
mndrew
11. matolilyfu
OK, evidence it exists. A lovely tease. Hasn't distracted from the fact that Bombshells has been dangling out there for ages and, if memory serves, was originally slated for release (in Dangerous Women) two months ago. I know, GRRM was the "issue", but geez, why throw us a crumb five (six?) months in advance? It's crappy, really.

(Any chance Mr. Butcher has spent any more time on Skin Game? News like that would be worth hearing.)
James Briggs
13. traveler
I cant wait I read anything that i can get my hands on and now this. and I am a confirmed addict, holding my breath while I wait for the next tidbit ARGGGGG
mndrew
14. C.D. Lewis
@Hitch

Justine's job involves information and deception. She's a spy, working for mindbenders. How would she not be in the middle of an intrigue?

She's ideal to have trip on dangerous information or get swept into something risky. It's a bit like complaining that M keeps sending Bond on missions for the Crown, isn't it?
mndrew
15. PeacefulPagoda
@mato,
Calm yo tits.
Thanks, Jim, for the little tidbit. I greatly appreciate the free snipit of what will undoubtedly be a great book.
mndrew
16. ZenAtWork
@matolilyfu: Dunno if it's accurate, but the Wiki page recently updated to reflect a Dec. (3, if the NeoGAF rumors are to be believed) 2013 release for Skin Game.
He's also signed on for some steampunk trilogy, though, so this may be slowing down his usual 1-1.5 year lag schedule. It always makes me feel terrible to think this, but every time an author I love in a series I love detours to do another book (or a prequil, or an anthology), I always think, "better not pull a Jordan on us."

@Hitch: knowing Butcher's rather literal (ba-bump) approach to writing, I'll not be surprised if Bombshells is ONLY female characters (Molly, Justine, Karrin, Andi/other Alpha females, etc.). Makes sense that he'd bring in Justine; Molly and Karrin have been struggling with one another pretty bad recently. Besides, can you see Karrin going to Molly for help?
mndrew
17. djkoz78
Oh now I'm angry. That's all I get to read? Freaking tease.
mndrew
18. Fansoca
I begun reading and i was feeling a bit bored, then when it was getting my interest, it ended. This is too cruel! I forgot how much I like Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. After all it has been almost a year. I tried not to look, but it was too much temptation. Well, now I will have to wait and suffer till it is out. It is so hard to be a faithfull fan.
mndrew
19. Molls
One more month....
mndrew
20. Chu
I'm seriously desperate for this and for Skin Game. I've been reading them back to back and suddenly I'm faced with waiting for the next one. I barely know what to do with myself!
mndrew
21. Seth Curran
Molly! I love it. I cant wait for Skin Games!
mndrew
22. Kebron113
AWESOME!! Been to long since I read anything from the Dresden-verse. So looking forward to this and the new book.
mndrew
23. Doug7809
Ah, some back story! We finally get to hear how Molly got her apartment, I hope. And it sounds like she helps Justine solve her problems with Thomas. Keep up the great stories!
mndrew
24. DragonEddie
I will gladly pay full price for Bombshells just to read Molly Carpenter's story by Jim Butcher. As a bonus, I can't wait to dive into the rest of the content!

Thank you to all the contributors!
Anthony Coombes
25. DragonEddie
I will gladly pay full price for Bombshells just to read Molly Carpenter'sstory by Jim Butcher. As a bonus, I can't wait to dive into the rest of the content!

Thank you to all the contributors!
mndrew
26. BrandonMc
Been waiting for a Molly POV-- this and a re-read of The Dresden Files will have to keep my busy until Skin Game comes out-- I Can't wait!!
mndrew
27. Randal Brown
Great work as always Mr. Butcher.
mndrew
28. Adam K
Very nice beginning. The girls need their own books

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