Hiya! I’m here as Holly today. A few days ago, Batshit Bassel was released 🥳 It’s a rather short story, 75 pages, about Bassel who’s a psychic. He’s not like ordinary psychics, though.
He has no control over his powers, and therefore he can’t do what other psychics do – predict things and save the world and things like that. What he can do, and does very well, is serve soups and talk to people.
Bassel is convinced he can change the world in more subtle ways than through miracles. To give someone a warm bowl of love on a bad day and a chair to sit on can save lives. And it’s what Bassel does.
Sadly, the place he’s picked for his food cart comes with a downside. It’s next to a nightclub run by shifters, and some of the people working there aren’t pleased to see Bassel.
Thor owns the nightclub, and he doesn’t have a problem with Bassel. Quite the opposite, actually.
A couple of months ago, his sister passed away, and Thor became the guardian of his nephew, an eight-year-old boy named Dag. Thor knows nothing about taking care of a child, and he doesn’t know what to do. So when Dag starts spending time with Bassel, Thor is grateful. And it gives him a reason to spend time with Bassel too.
Below you can read the first chapter.
Some people perform miracles, others serve soup.
Bassel Uxium will never save the world. He doesn’t have the skill. He’s the product of his parents’ sin, a psychic with no control over his powers. But he can serve soup, and soup works wonders in its own way. He isn’t bitter about it. Some people create miracles, others give a frozen soul a warm bowl of love.
Thor Espen’s life changed in a heartbeat. A few months ago, his sister died, and he became the guardian of his nephew. His life isn’t fit for a child. He’s the owner of a nightclub, and his schedule doesn’t leave room for a cub. When his nephew starts spending time with the weird soup guy with the food cart outside his club, he allows it.
Bassel aches for the little boy who is cloaked in grief and tries to ease his sorrows with soup, one bowl at a time. He aches for Thor too, but in a different way. Thor should focus on work, but he can’t get Bassel out of his head. Can a bear shifter and a defective psychic have something together, or will the budding relationship turn to ashes, along with Bassel’s predictions of a fire?
Paranormal Gay Romance: 20,177 words
JMS Books :: Amazon :: books2read.com/BatshitBassel
Bassel Uxium handed over soup in a Styrofoam bowl to the woman in front of him and smiled as a sense of satisfaction filled him—hers. He rode the emotion for the short second it lingered in his chest. Often the emotions washing over him were negative, so he cherished the good ones.
His parents had sinned, and he was the product. Malfunctioning. Weird. Batshit.
He’d stopped being angry a long time ago. Anger didn’t serve him, and he was here, was he not? He had his soup stand, and he’d found the perfect spot where he would make the most impact, and where people treated him fairly.
Here many unhappy humans passed by, but Bassel could, and would, give them a warm bowl of love. Soup was therapeutic, and people might not know it, but it helped balance them. It gave them a hot meal, nutrition, and liquid. Doing what he did, he could sneak soup into people’s lives and help ease their suffering without them knowing he was defective.
Witches and psychics paired up with shifters. There was a connection, a mate bond or whatever. According to the tales, you knew the instant you met someone you could pair up with, and the bond would be there for the rest of your lives when you did.
Bassel didn’t think there was anyone for him since he wasn’t like other witches or psychics. His mother was a precog, and his father an empath. They never should have touched each other, much less produced offspring, and his mother should have known. It was her skill, after all, knowing.
The result? Sometimes Bassel experienced things about to happen. Sometimes he lived in people’s emotions, but it was never under his control. He couldn’t look at a person or touch a person and tap into their emotions. If it happened, it happened. Like with the woman now walking down the street. She was cold and hungry, and she’d purchased a bowl of hearty chicken soup. Satisfaction made sense.
Sometimes it was his mother’s precog genes shining through. He could look at a person and see what would happen to them or he could get a feeling. That was when it got tricky. He didn’t know if the feeling was current or future, and if it belonged in the future, there was no guarantee it would happen. Things changed all the time.
Worst of all was when it affected his other senses. He’d smell something about to come later but was unable to sort out if it was the present or future or feel the rain on his skin on a sunny day and not knowing if it meant rain was coming soon or a day from now.
Every day was like walking through a minefield of sensory triggers he couldn’t sort, and sometimes he was unsure of which timeline he was living on, but he’d learn to cope. For the most part.
Bassel struggled to hold on to his pleasant mood as the hyena laughed at him before heading toward Come Inside. He didn’t know if he was a hyena, but he laughed like one every time he was near Bassel.
It was the one downside to this spot. Once Bassel had accepted his fate of never being bonded to a shifter, never being accepted by a witch, and never finding a home with a psychic, he’d set out to make the world a better place. And this sidewalk, right here by the old brick buildings remaining from the industrial era, was where he connected with most lost souls.
A witch or psychic bonded to a shifter was a force to be reckoned with. They could achieve great things, borrowing power from each other. Shifters were strong and agile, fierce and protective. Psychics could see the future and help prevent crimes and catastrophes, predict the economy, and make smart business decisions.
Bassel could serve soup.
He didn’t turn his nose up at it. There were people doing big, amazing things, and there were people who affected the world in a more subtle way. His mission was a subdued approach, a gentle push in the direction of a better day and hopefully a better life—for his customers.
There were many lost souls, scarred souls, lonely souls who needed a bowl of soup. He’d never perform miracles, but he could give people something warm to eat and listen to their problems. He loved doing it. It was fulfilling knowing he’d touched a person’s spirit and made them feel better. He wouldn’t complain if it hadn’t been for the hyena, who most likely wasn’t a hyena.
Though he could be.
Come Inside was a nightclub run by shifters. One night a week they had a drag queen show, and there were small rainbow-colored unicorn sculptures in the windows, so he believed it was a friendly place. For others. Shifters would never welcome him inside since he was faulty, but real witches and psychics, humans, and shifters were accepted as they were.
Longing hit hard, sadly, his own. What would it be like to belong somewhere? To be welcomed with open arms? Missed if you didn’t show? Bassel had no idea.
He pulled in a deep breath and stirred his soups. He always made two different kinds—one with meat and one vegetarian. Today’s options were chicken soup and Moroccan Harira.
Soups spoke to him. Nothing said love like a hot bowl of soup.
Lost in his head, he first didn’t notice the boy nearing him with slow steps. He’d seen him before. Grief clung to him like a wafting cloak, and it broke Bassel’s heart. The boy couldn’t be more than eight years old, if that.
“Hello.” Bassel spoke in a slow, soothing voice as if speaking to a wounded animal. He was. The boy was a shifter and while grief didn’t bleed as a cut would, it was a wound in the soul.
The boy nodded before glancing at Come Inside’s door. Bassel turned to look too but couldn’t see anyone watching them.
“Would you like some soup?”
The boy startled and looked a little afraid, as if Bassel had tried to lure him away with candy.
“I… eh… don’t have any money.”
Bassel shrugged. “Of course not. You’re a child.”
The boy glared at him, and Bassel turned the words over in his head. Were they insulting?
“When you have a job, you can pay me back. Now, do you want chicken soup or chickpea soup?”
The boy scrunched his nose at the mention of chickpeas. “Chicken.”
With a smile, Bassel filled a bowl. “I’m thinking about adding a hotplate or maybe one of those pans to have over an open fire. I could make skillet flatbread to go with the soup. I think people would appreciate it, and if I went with the open fire option, it would help warm people in the winter.” Spring was around the corner, but he was still frozen to the bone every day when he came home, no matter how many layers of clothes he put on. “Or maybe there are portable pizza ovens. Wouldn’t that be cool?”
The boy stared at him as if he was insane—he was.
“Come sit.” He grabbed the folding chair he had standing next to the food cart with one hand while balancing the bowl of chicken soup in the other.
Hesitating for a moment, the boy then slowly neared the chair.
As he sat, Bassel handed him the Styrofoam bowl and a spoon. “Did you have a good day at school?” Bassel assumed he went to school.
The boy nodded and looked away as an ache spread in Bassel’s chest—the boy’s. He had no idea what had triggered the crushing wave of grief washing over him, but something had.
“Oh, sweetheart. Eat your soup. Everything gets better with soup.” He was quiet for a few seconds before asking, “What’s your name?”
“Oh, you’re a bear?” Espen meant bear, right?
Dag nodded and blew on a spoonful of soup before putting it into his mouth. Warmth spread in Bassel’s soul—all his own. He loved feeding people.
Dag didn’t speak but ate another spoonful and then another.
“What did you get for lunch at school today?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t go to the cafeteria.”
Bassel waited for his emphatic skill to give him any clues on how to proceed with the conversation, but of course, he didn’t get any insight into Dag’s emotions. Never when he wanted them or needed guidance. “Because you brought your own lunch?”
Dag avoided eye contact and ate another spoonful.
Dammit. This was a poor neighborhood. It was one of the reasons Bassel had chosen it as his place. Here he could make a difference. And while he needed people to pay for their soup or he’d go bankrupt in a week flat, he gave away several bowls every day. It was the right thing to do.
“How far away is your school?”
Dag pointed at one of the large industrial buildings with his spoon. “It’s two blocks over.”
Ah, Bassel knew the one. “Is your lunch break long enough for you to get here and make it back in time for your next lesson?”
Dag looked at him for a long moment. There was longing in his eyes, and Bassel bit his tongue not to offer to bring soup to his school. Lunch was when he sold the most soup. If he left the food cart in the middle of the day, he’d lose customers.
“I can make it here, but I have no money.”
Bassel smiled. He didn’t know who Dag’s parents were, and he wouldn’t go searching. If they couldn’t afford to give him money to go to the school cafeteria, and they couldn’t afford to pack him lunch, then Bassel would make sure he got a bowl of soup. Who knew? It might be the only cooked meal the boy got all day.
“Great! Which is your favorite kind of soup?”
Wide eyes met his, then they filled with tears struggling not to trickle over. “Mom used to make tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.”
“Oh…” Bassel noted the used to but didn’t want to ask what the past tense meant. “Then we’re back to the bread problem. We should find a solution. I like the open fire idea, but do you think the surrounding businesses would object?” He twirled his finger around, indicating the buildings around them. They were mostly offices, but there was the bar and one woo-woo shop. Woo-woo shop wasn’t the accepted term, but Bassel had gone there to introduce himself, certain he’d be sneered at by a witch or psychic, but it was a plump, gray-haired human woman running it. He’d been pleasantly surprised even though it meant the crystals and protective spells she sold were fake.
* * * *
The next day, Thor Espen growled as he walked through the empty bar. It was still early, and his staff hadn’t arrived yet. Normally, he slept this time of day, but since Karla had died a couple of months ago, he now had to get up and make sure the cub got to school.
Kids weren’t anything he’d ever wanted. They did not fit his lifestyle, but he couldn’t allow his nephew to disappear into foster care. He’d promised Karla to take care of him. The problem was, Thor knew nothing about children. He set the alarm every morning to wake Dag and made sure he ate breakfast before he went to school. Then he hardly saw the boy all day. By the time he got back from school, the bar had opened, and while there weren’t many customers until the after-work crowd, everyone was busy with preparations.
He pulled out a chair from one of the tables and sat, cradling his head in his hands. He was so tired. Yawning, he allowed his elbows to slide over the table before folding his arms and resting his cheek on top of them. He couldn’t go on like this. Two months without proper sleep made him prickly, and yesterday he’d dropped a bottle while working the bar. It could happen to anyone, but Thor hadn’t dropped a bottle in a decade or two. Sleep deprivation made him uncoordinated.
He needed a nanny. Did people still have nannies?
The thought left a bitter taste in his mouth. He’d promised Karla to take care of Dag, to raise him as if he was his own. Thor was the only family he had since the no-good witch Karla had bound herself to went and got himself blown up in some huge magical experiment. Part of him was glad it had happened when Dag only was a few months old. No kid should lose both their parents before they turned eight, so it was good he didn’t remember his father. Or would it have been better for him to have the memory?
Thor didn’t know, and it didn’t matter. These were the cards they’d been dealt. It was unfair, and Thor wanted to object. He wanted to file a complaint to the universe or whoever it was deciding who lived and who died, but no one was willing to listen. Bears didn’t get sick, and yet Karla had faded away right in front of him.
He closed his eyes, trying to fight the memories wanting to surface of her in a hospital bed. Who had taken care of the boy while she’d been in the hospital? Thor should ask someone. His breaths grew deeper and his muscles slowly unclenched. Maybe whoever it was could look after him again.
Thor flew to his feet, his hands changing to bear paws as he swiped the air. Ed, his chef, stood at a good distance. “Oh, hi.”
“The kid is chatting to Batshit Bassel.” Ed scrunched his face as if he’d smelled rotten fish.
“Who?” Thor tried to clear his head. Fuck, he’d fallen asleep. The kid—as in Dag?—was talking to who? Did it matter who he talked to?
“The soup freak outside.”
Thor willed his paws back to human hands before rubbing his face. “Who?”
“The guy outside, the one with the food cart.” Ed widened his eyes while making a face, telling Thor he’d better get his brain cells to wake up because this was important.
“Is he a pedophile?”
“No! Or I don’t know, maybe.” Ed shrugged but didn’t look satisfied with Thor’s reaction.
“If he isn’t a threat to Dag, why can’t he talk to him?”
Ed huffed. “You’re his dad now. You need to be a role model. You can’t let him make friends with freaks.”
Thor took a moment to breathe. Maybe he wasn’t awake enough yet to understand the conversation. He didn’t know the soup guy, had never spoken to him, and didn’t know what he looked like. Average height, on the slim side, but he couldn’t say what color his hair was and he wouldn’t have recognized him if he’d met him on the street.
He arrived there around ten in the morning and left around three, from what he’d heard from the staff. He’d been in to introduce himself when he’d first started selling his soups several months ago, but Thor had been in the office at the time so it had been Ed, Adam, and Jenny who’d talked to him, and he’d never gone out there to chat to him.
“And he’s a freak?” Thor didn’t like the term. As the owner of a queer club, he’d been called many things, and most often for no other reason than bigotry.
Ed shook his head. “He’s an abomination.”
Thor straightened his back. Abomination? He’d been called that too, and few things infuriated him more. “Is he?”
“He’s not right! His mom had him with one of her own. He’s inbred.” Distaste colored the words, and a responding revulsion wrapped around Thor. But it couldn’t be true. If a woman got pregnant with a family member, surely she’d have the fetus removed? Nausea climbed his throat, and he forced his brain to stop painting pictures. If it was true, it wasn’t the soup guy’s fault, and forbidding Dag to speak to him because of sins his parents had committed didn’t sit right with him.
“Is he… disabled?” What were the signs of inbreeding?
Shrugging, Ed walked farther into the room. “He isn’t right.”
“Isn’t right how? If he can run a business, it can’t be too bad.” Maybe a food cart didn’t demand the same brain capacity as running a bar, but there was still a lot to be done, invoices, bookkeeping, and so on.
“He isn’t right.” Ed didn’t change his words, he only spoke louder, which made Thor frown. Seconds went by, then Ed huffed again. There was a lot more huffing and shrugging than Ed normally indulged in.
“He has no skill. His mom was a precog and his dad was an empath. It isn’t right. Now he’s here, selling soup on our doorstep, and he’s as useless as a human.”
Not inbred, but two psychics reproducing. Ed was correct. It wasn’t right, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as Thor had envisioned. You couldn’t bond with the same breed as yourself, and having offspring was extremely unusual, both because it most often didn’t take and because no one wanted a child with someone they weren’t bonded to.
“He didn’t inherit any skill?” So he was like a human. They didn’t shun humans. Many of their patrons were human. Jenny was human. He wouldn’t sleep with one, but he didn’t dislike them on sight.
“He’s creepy as fuck. Go out there and talk to him. You’ll feel the wrongness from a mile away.”
“Creepy?” Would Dag talk to him if he were creepy? “What time is it?” Shouldn’t Dag be in school? He hadn’t slept for that long, had he?
“Noon. I have the dentist at three, so I thought I’d come in early and prepare and then come back after the appointment.”
Thor nodded. As Ed spoke, he remembered him saying something about it. Shit, he’d never forgotten his staff’s changed work hours a couple of months ago. “What’s Dag doing home at noon?”
Fear gripped his heart. Had something happened to him? With a growl, he stomped toward the door.
About Holly day
According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.
Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.
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