An editor and multi-published author, Nerine Dorman currently resides in Cape Town, South Africa, with her visual artist husband. Some of the publishers with whom she works include Dark Continents Publishing and eKhaya (an imprint of Random House Struik). She has been involved in the media industry for more than a decade, with a background in magazine and newspaper publishing, commercial fiction, and print production management within a below-the-line marketing environment. Her book reviews, as well as travel, entertainment and lifestyle editorial regularly appear in national newspapers. A few of her interests include music travel, history (with emphasis on Egypt), psychology, philosophy, magic and the natural world.
She is also a founding member and co-ordinator for the Adamastor Writers’ Guild, and edits The Egyptian Society of South Africa‘s quarterly newsletter, SHEMU.
See her list of publications, including links to Inkarna, following the excerpt.
You are welcome to stalk her on Twitter @nerinedorman where she often provides free entertainment whenever she’s on deadline.
The following excerpt from Inkarna has always been one of my favourite scenes, and pretty much sums up that horrible, immediate sense of wrongness my main character Lizzie/Ash feels upon waking in the wrong body. Everything is absolutely and irrevocably WRONG. And I love how uncomfortable it is.
And things just get progressively worse from here on in.
Something’s wrong. It’s a gradual realisation, a slow sinking into flesh. Like a dream, everything that has taken place before becomes hazy; smiling faces, a sense of being loved, of farewell. I want to go back but that door has been shut. The light of Per Ankh is extinguished, for now. I have unfinished business here.
Which is where, exactly?
I’m supposed to do something but the heaviness drags me down into discomfort. Dim memories assail me, vague knowledge, which slips through fingers like drops of mercury.
Something’s wrong. This isn’t how it should have been.
Lub-dub, lub-dub. A pulse. I have a pulse—that much I know, and the air rasps into my lungs painfully, as though fighting a great resistance. Live, breathe!
We love you; we are watching.
Who is watching?
A roiling dense fog tugs at my limbs, holding me back from wakefulness. The Sea of Nun. Forgetfulness.
A measured, bleating tone becomes a continuous electronic whine.
A sensation, as of falling, of snapping into solidity. Someone cries out, a man.
A continuous bleep gives way to a measured bleep-bleep-bleep-bleep.
Open your eyes, damn you. Open your damn bloody eyes.
The flesh obeys the spirit, albeit with great reluctance. The light blinds me, and another strangled cry escapes my lips.
“Ash?” a woman says. Her voice is heavy with grief, and warm fingers enfold mine, squeezing.
Another time, another place, someone holds the hands of a much-older woman. Grey eyes fill with tears. The recollection slips into dull opacity.
This time I dare to open my eyes again, slowly, filtering the glare through my lashes until I can focus on where I am and what the hell is going on. The woman who holds my hand is silhouetted against a window covered by vertical fabric blinds that were once white. An antiseptic stench clings to this place, a hospital ward some fragment of my memories informs me.
My companion is in her late teens or early twenties; it’s difficult to tell for sure.
Auburn hair spills in ringlets down her shoulder, escaped from a knot pinned loose and skew on one side. Wide brown eyes study me intently, reminding me of…
Who or what is Siptah? No memory responds. It’s as if neural pathways that should have been there are excised. I need time…time to figure out what the hell is going on here.
“Ash?” Tears run freely down her cheeks and she gives my hand another squeeze. She is a pretty girl with a round face, a small spattering of freckles across her slightly upturned nose.
The hand she has trapped within her grasp is larger than I’m used to.
This is wrong!
The fingers are long, the bones bigger than… Dark hairs on the wrists, but I gag when I see the ink on the skin that starts just above the wrist, travelling up the arm—skulls, demonic faces, writhing snakes, flaming pentagrams—the stuff of fanciful imaginings of amateur occultists.
This is a man’s arm. This should not be.
Pinching shut my eyes won’t help.
The first memory smacks me from the side, of Meritiset flowing ahead of me, tugging at me. “It is time, Neffie, we must hurry. They cannot wait any longer, you must punch through. There has been a change in plan.”
Where time should be is a nebulous grey haze.
I gasp, shifting, but the body doesn’t respond properly. The Ba must yet take root and the flesh is weak. A great ill has befallen this Kha. This knowledge to move slowly, to grow into the situation, is clear, but impatience causes me to twitch, my hand to slip from the woman’s to claw at the bedding.
“That’s not my Ren!” I want to shout, but my voice comes out a croak, like dry leaves, my tongue cleaved to my palate.
“What are you talking about?” She entraps my hand again, shifting closer so her scent washes over me—mint and roses.
“Who are you? Where am I? When am I?” The when seems more important than the preceding questions.
“Don’t you know me? The doctor said—” The woman turns her face away from me, probably because she doesn’t want me to see how upset she is. Her grip on my hand is fierce.
“Answer me, please?” I breathe out, stare up at the ceiling. My stolen Kha belongs to that of a man, not the… It was supposed to be a girl, my treacherous memories inform me, locking into place. Her name was Catherine van Vuuren, and she was three years old. She fell into a coma after drowning in a swimming pool. You were supposed to have her Kha when her Ka and Ba fled for judgment.
“There’s been a mistake,” I tell the woman at my bedside. “I’m not the right…” Stupid fool, I can’t tell her. I clamp my lips shut and keep my gaze firmly on the strip-lighting on the ceiling. How does one explain the existence of the Inkarna—Those who Return?
We are the few who remember, who refuse the lure of the Sea of Nun and its promised cycle of eternal forgetfulness.
Her published works include Khepera Rising, Khepera Redeemed, The Namaqualand Book of the Dead, Tainted Love (writing as Therese von Willegen), Hell’s Music (writing as Therese von Willegen), What Sweet Music They Make, Inkarna, and Camdeboo Nights.
She is the editor of the Bloody Parchment anthologies, Volume One, and Hidden Things, Lost Things and Other Stories as well as The Root Cellar and Other Stories. In addition, she also organises the annual Bloody Parchment event in conjunction with the SA HorrorFest.