Mama Lona's Man by
Brett O'Neal Davis
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Number of pages: 219
Word Count: 74,000
Cover Artist: Cate Meyers
Mama Lona’s Man combines a Caribbean love story with a zombie thriller. It’s a bit James Bond, a bit "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" and a dash of "Night of the Living Dead.
The leading man is a ex-Navy SEAL controlled by a witch doctor. When he meets an American girl caught up in island intrigue, they fall in love even though he's been dead longer than she's been alive.
Abigail cautiously opened the bathroom door. The large men were gone. A guard rushed down the hallway past her without even glancing in her direction. She heard shouts echoing off the walls. She was beginning to think she wasn't going to get that ride home after all.
She heard what sounded like machine gun fire down the hall, coming from what she thought was the outside of the house. Looking behind her she saw that while the bathroom was large it offered no place to hide. She could sit on the toilet and try to wait out whatever was going on, or she could go deeper into the mansion and find a place to hide or a way out. Another machine gun burst, this one accompanied by the grunt of a man in pain, settled the question. She opened the door and ran down the hall, heading for what she hoped would be safety.
Having some knowledge of how the president's house was laid out would have been helpful. After a few minutes, Abigail realized that she was just circling around a large inner courtyard where fighting was taking place. She hid behind a sizable marble column and peeked around it. The president's guards—she recognized them from their uniforms—were arrayed against what looked like a ragtag militia, although one that was equally well armed. The militia members had no uniforms, just ratty T-shirts and stained khaki pants. The guards were hidden behind the furniture, including several overturned tables, and fired wildly through the front windows and doors. Everything was in tatters. The windows and doors were now nearly nonexistent, the drapes looked like moths the size of Mothra had eaten them and the furniture was riddled with bullets, although it was holding up surprisingly well. The guards no doubt were glad that their boss had not cheaped out on the décor.
The militia was not making much progress. One of its members would briefly appear in a window or door, get off a shot or two and fall back. The guards, for all their firing, did not seem to actually hit anything and the militia members were no better. The noise was incredible, like an indoor thunderstorm, but as far as Abigail could see hardly anybody had actually been hit yet. She was just about to try to find her way out through the back of the mansion, leaving the guards and militia men to their target practice, when something amazing happened.
One of the militia men went suddenly went flying to the side, losing his rifle in the process. He didn't seem to be shot. It looked like someone had just grabbed him from behind and flung him into the air. A few seconds later, a man walked right through the middle of the room. The combatants were so stunned by his presence, and his audacity, that they stopped firing. He was unusual not just for standing up in the middle of a firefight but because he was the only white man in the room. He was young, about Abigail's age, with straight, sandy-blonde hair that was a little disheveled. He wore a stained blue T-shirt and dark green pants but no shoes or socks. He seemed to have no weapons of any kind except his muscles—the T-shirt and pants revealed that he was lean and fit. Abigail was pretty sure he was also about to be dead, but still no one fired. The man stood still and gazed around the room as if in a daze. He did not seem surprised, or even particularly interested, to find himself in the middle of a small war. Not finding anything in the room of interest to him, he started to move on, heading for the doorway just to Abigail's right. That was when one of the guards remembered that he was supposed to keep people out of the house. He stood up and fired two shots into the man's chest.
Abigail squeezed her eyes shut, not wanting to see her first dead body. She waited for the thump of the young man falling to the floor but it didn't happen. She opened one eye; he was still on his feet. Maybe those weren't muscles showing through his shirt, maybe they were actually the ridges of a bulletproof vest. The man walked over to the guard, who had a stunned look on his face, picked him up by his lapels and hurled him against the wall as if he weighed only a couple of pounds. The guard sagged to the floor and lay still. The man continued on his way. Another guard rose from behind his hiding place, an overturned table, and fired a shot right into the man’s back. There was no bulletproof vest—with her own horrified eyes, Abigail saw a hole appear in the front of the man's shirt as the bullet punched through; though oddly there was no blood, just a yellowish stain. Still the man did not fall or even break stride. He completely ignored the fact that he had just been shot three times.
He stepped through the doorway and noticed her crouching behind the column. His eyes, so dead in the other room, suddenly seemed to flare to life. He seemed surprised to see her.
“You should come with me.”
He extended a hand but she just stared at it, not knowing what else to do. The firing renewed in the front room. A bullet dug into the column above her head, showering her with dust.
“I'm pretty sure that's not real marble,” he said. “You should come with me.”
His voice was calm and even, just a little bit scratchy, and had more than a hint of the American South.
About the Author:
Brett O’Neal Davis is a native of Florence, Ala., and attended the same high school as Sam Phillips, who discovered Elvis Presley. He studied journalism at the University of North Alabama and the University of Missouri, writing about music whenever possible. He also briefly “fronted” the one-man punk band Screwhead. Despite clearing $1.50 in profit on consignment sales of the band’s lone album at Salt of the Earth Records in Columbia, Mo., he turned to the slightly more stable world of aerospace and defense journalism, working today in the field of unmanned systems and robotics in Washington, D.C.
He is the author of four science fiction and fantasy novels, all published by Baen Books. The first, The Faery Convention, was listed among the best fantasy novels for 1995 by Science Fiction Chronicle, and Two Tiny Claws was named to the 2000 Books for the Teen Age List by the New York Public Library. An occasional panelist at area science fiction conventions, he also has discussed fiction writing at National Press Club events and at literary festivals, including the annual T.S. Stribling celebration at the University of North Alabama. Mama Lona’s Man is his first foray into paranormal romance, but it won’t be the last.