Today I’m one of the hosts of Shadow Man Blog Tour. I’m giving over my blog to Tara Fox Hall with a guest post about the spirit of animal rescue. This blog tour is presented by
PAGE TURNERS BOOK TOURS
In the spirit of this blogsite, I would like to share a true story from my past of animal rescue. I often find that animals that need my help cross my path. Not all of them are furred and cuddly. —Tara Fox Hall J
One morning in late fall, I was hurrying out the door, swearing to myself because I was going to be late. As I was walking quickly to my garage, I happened to look down and see a snake. It was a small female red racer, about 7 inches long. The first hard frost had occurred overnight, and it looked like the weather had caught her unawares. She seemed to be frozen solid with her mouth hanging open. I assumed because she was laying right across the path that one of the cats—most likely Kesteral or Cavity—had left her there for me to find, in a misguided yet tender effort to teach me to hunt.
It may be surprising to hear—or not so surprising if you’re a fan of my Lash series—that I have a soft spot for snakes. I don’t mean rattlesnakes, or 10 ft. boa constrictors, of course; I mean snakes of the smaller, non-threatening persuasion. Garden snakes, corn snakes, ring-necked snakes, and red racers never want to bother anyone, and try to get out of your way as soon as they know you’re coming. Even when I’ve held some that were agitated, I’ve never had one strike at me. So I make an effort to keep all my small local snakes as safe as can be, including rescuing them from my cats.
Sadly, this one was past my help. I carried my work stuff to my car. Leaving it there, I went back and picked up the snake, prepared to take her out to leave in the field for scavengers. But when I picked her up, I discovered she wasn’t frozen solid. More amazing, after holding her for 30 seconds in my gloved hands, I thought I saw her move. Anxious for a miracle, I took off my gloves and held her, willing my heat to bring her back to life. But she didn’t stir. Worried my hands weren’t warm enough, I breathed on her. After a minute of being enveloped in my warm breath, the “dead” snake started to revive. First her mouth closed, then her tongue slowly flicked out and in. Finally, she begun to feebly move. I held her another minute, sharing my warmth. By that minute’s end, you wouldn’t have known that she’d almost died.
I took her to the side of the garage, and let her slip underneath through a hole in the gravel, hoping she would find a ball of snakes to twine up with to keep warm. Being almost winter, there wasn’t much more I could do.
I never saw her again, but I like remembering the experience, the startling feeling of her coming back to life in my hands. It felt a little like magic. And in a way it was, that a human shared her breath and warmth with a snake to save its life . . . and counted herself the more fortunate party.
A renegade vampire begins amassing a flock of true believers, threatening America’s vampire hierarchy. Weresnake Lash partners with old enemy Danial and new allies Burl and Spiderboy to track down and annihilate them. Betrayed and left for dead, Lash reemerges the victor, edging ever upward in the Assassin’s Ranking, and catching the eye of the sultry nightclub singer Cassandra Nile. Drawn into drugs by Cassie, Lash begins to doubt himself, yearning to leave his life of violence, even as enemies close in from every side.
History speaks of the months after the Crash of 1929 as desolate, and hopeless. I’m sure that was true for many. But I wasn’t unhappy, even though my days seemed to have lost their color, and my nights blurred one into another until I sometimes lost track of the date. My problem was that now that things had calmed down, some of the horror of my life had caught up to me, hurting me in the one place I wasn’t defensible: my dreams.
I had often dreamed of Giselle after her death, and of my other slain sisters. Those dreams had lessened in the years that had passed. Now they seemed to come back with a vengeance, and they brought friends.
I awoke screaming most nights, with one of Abraham’s guards pounding on my door, asking if I was okay. I was reluctant to go to an alchemist to ask for any help sleeping. I had to be ready in case of attack, either on my vampire boss, Abraham or on my sister Sam and her children, not to mention myself. I couldn’t be off in dreamland with big-bosomed women and still be of any use.
Fortunately, I was able to function fine with only about four hours sleep, which was what I usually got when the nightmares were said and done. I learned to control my cries with help of a book Abraham got me, so I didn’t have someone pounding on my door most nights. But I could do nothing about the dreams. It got so fucking bad that I would dread going to sleep and would find any excuse to put it off, until I was so tired my tail would have been dragging if I were in snake form.
There was something good about being awake in the early morning hours: Abraham and I were becoming friends. We had been together for almost ten years now. I was his first weresnake friend; he told me himself. I was probably the first weresnake he’d given the time of day to, though he never was rude enough to say something like that to me. It wasn’t out of fear, but rather because he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. He alone seemed to get how I felt, being snake in a world that hated snakes. It was hard not to like him just for that. Not to say he wasn’t hard with me, or even terrible, when he felt he had to be. But he was almost a gentler version of my father, and I admired him greatly.
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Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include nonfiction, horror, suspense, action-adventure, erotica, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal action-adventure Lash series and the vampire romantic suspense Promise Me series. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chain sawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.