OK, so it isn't the first novel I ever wrote. But we will never speak again of the pile of poo I wrote at the of fourteen. It was hand written and terrible, but I did finish it. For a fourteen year old, I think it was a decent accomplishment. A Dream Trip to England was over 100 pages long and I worked on it day and night for a couple of weeks, and it will never see the light of day ever again.
Many years later as an adult I managed to write another novel all the way to the end. Was it a good novel? Maybe not, but it did get me past my "block" where I write a few chapters and then never write on that story again. I literally just wrote down anything no matter how crazy or exaggerated it seemed and turned it into a novel. It is the one and only time I wrote by the seat of my pants with no outline.
I do like the concept of the story which is why I've decided to share it chapter by chapter on this blog. This is the first chapter. The story has vampires so if you don't like vampires you may want to skip it. I hope it helps other writers who never make it to the end of a novel. Sometimes you just gotta write some garbage and find the good stuff with in that garbage.
Cosima shivered as she exited the door of the V.F.W. building. She forgot to put her coat back on and the night air brushed against her skin like ice. Too bad her cameras couldn’t keep her warm. She clutched them tighter in her hands as she descended the stairs to the sidewalk.
She hated shooting late night weddings, especially past 10pm. The world seemed to die that late at night. Not a soul walked the street or drove by in cars. She was completely alone.
She fumbled around her body to adjust the cameras and flash hanging from her neck, then tucked the light stands and tripod bags tightly under her arms. She struggled to keep her equipment quiet. She didn’t want to draw the attention of any unsavory characters hiding in the dark, but the sound of clanging metal traveled down the dark, deserted, street despite her effort.
Cosima glanced up and noticed Christmas decorations had already invaded the street lamps. She groaned. Christmas didn’t belong until after Thanksgiving.
She stopped for a moment to catch her breath and peered up to the sky past the streetlights. Heavy storm clouds still covered the October sky. A cold wind sent more needles across her skin. Why didn’t she wear a coat? She had one tucked in her Canon bag.
The sound of leaves scraping each other in the trees penetrated the silent street. At least there was no more temple pounding music, no more drunken chatter. She smiled; relieved the wedding had finally ended, at least for her, anyway. Maybe the silence wasn’t so unnerving after all. Maybe it was a blessing.
Cosima continued following the poorly lit sidewalk, glad the light rain from earlier had stopped. Her son would get to trick or treat one last time before he was too old. He turned thirteen this year, and unlike most teenagers, didn’t enjoy the idea of giving up his childhood. She liked to think of his condition as Peter Pan syndrome, a problem she was glad he had developed.
Her son’s grandma on his father’s side volunteered to take him trick or treating with his little cousin. Halloween fell on a Saturday and Cosima had to work.She always seemed to be working.
Cosima spotted a narrow alley between the buildings and decided to slip between them to reach her car faster. All she wanted was to crash into her car seat, blast the heat, and drive home. She’d change into her favorite pajamas, brush loose her tied up hair, and eat something chocolate. She would back up the wedding files, of course, but chocolate came first.
Darkness enveloped her as she entered the alley and the smell of putrid trash wrinkled her nose. The low light quickened her pulse and her feet sped up. She should have stayed on the sidewalk. At least there was some light from the lamps.
Cosima jogged down the alley to a parking lot behind the buildings. She focused her gaze on the lone street lamp hovering above her car. The tan vehicle her parents gave her sat alone in the lot and seemed to stretch further away the more she starred in its direction. She would’ve parked closer, but all the wedding guests had taken the best spots, forcing her to park a good ten blocks away. Cosima struggled forward with her heavy equipment weighing her down and thought about relaxing on the couch with her son instead of the darkness currently swallowing her.
A rustling sound resonated from behind her shooting chills up and down her spine. She froze and held her breath. She hadn’t seen anyone else back here. Slowly, she willed herself to glance behind and make sure no one followed. Nothing, only darkness. Maybe the sound was a cat or blowing leaves? No reason to hang around and find out.
She darted forward again and her heart jumped! Equipment banged painfully against her body as she halted. A shadowed figure stood in front of her blocking the path to her car. The shape of the shadow suggested a male about six feet tall, wearing a long trench coat and hood. Cosima stared for a moment, waiting for movement, or a polite greeting, anything to indicate the man wasn’t a threat. He stood inhumanly still, like a mannequin, not even moving to breathe. She squinted to focus on him, but couldn’t make out any details. Was he watching her, or something behind her?
“Hello?” she asked, keeping her distance. She stood still, trying not to appear afraid. What if he’s just a normal guy, hanging out in the alleyway, on Halloween night? “Can I help you?” she whispered. No response. Hot breath escaped from an unseen mouth into the night air. She backed away. Something wasn’t right with him. She needed to get out of here and quick.
Before she could leave, a strange sensation engulfed her, like someone attached puppet strings to her body and controlled her movements. Her limbs propelled forward against her will pulling her closer to the man. Her arms clutched the tripod and light stands against her sides digging them into her skin as her feet stumbled forward like a drunken man. The cameras banged into her chest. She fought the sensation pulling her, but her body only hesitated for a moment. What was going on? All her instincts screamed against approaching the stranger, but her body wouldn’t listen. The strings tugged on her feet, closer and closer. Her heart thrashed against her chest and her breathing escalated to hyperventilation. Equipment clanged with each clumsy step. Maybe someone would hear the sound and help her? A poor chance, but the noise was her only hope. If she could just get one scream out. Her mouth muscles wouldn’t respond.
The figure continued to stand statuesque pulling on her invisible strings. Silent shrieks in her mind begged herself to run the opposite direction.
A sudden calm overcame her shaking body and her breathing slowed to normal. She was close enough to reach out and touch the man. Another soft mist escaped his mouth in her direction, but she still couldn’t see his face. She should be reeling with fright, but the unnatural calm enveloping her forced her body to disagree.
The shadowed man moved closer. A strange metallic smell filled her lungs mixed with a strong musky cologne. She still couldn’t see his face, but his eyes glowed reflecting light like mirrors, like a cat waiting under the bed to pounce. Somehow, she knew he hungered for something; for her. She wanted to give herself to him. Her body slid against him and his hot metallic breath caressed her throat each time he breathed. What did he want from her? What was he going to do? Was he going to kill her? She tried closing her eyes, but they wouldn’t respond. Whatever he planned to do, she hoped it was quick. She hoped it was soon.
He moved even closer to her neck and a blast of wet heat escaped his mouth as his arms embraced her and his mouth opened.
Her body weakened with want, with anticipation. The metal stands and tripod fell from her arms and hit the ground with a sharp clang. The shadowed figure jumped back releasing Cosima. The puppet strings controlling her snapped and fell away, sliding down her body like silk, releasing her from the strange compulsion. Her feet belonged to her again. The unnatural calm disappeared, and her heart pounded threatening to explode. Her mind screamed at her to run while she had the chance, but she fought the impulse. If she ran, he might chase her down like a helpless gazelle.
Cosima crept backwards away from his arms, away towards the alley behind her, afraid to turn her eyes away from the man. She watched for movement; nothing, except the mist from his hot breath hitting the cold air and those strange glowing eyes. He wasn’t pursuing her. Why? Was he waiting for her to run, to make it more fun?
The alley came into view in her peripheral vision. Should she go for it? Yes! She dashed for the darkness, leaving her light stands and tripod behind. Blood pulsed through her veins, heating her skin as her heart hammered harder from running. She grabbed the cameras hanging from her neck and held them up to stop them from banging her chest.
Once out of sight of the man, she repeatedly glanced over her shoulder and watched for him to appear behind her. He didn’t follow. She skidded left onto Queen Street and continued to run, her eyes alert for any movement. Too many alleys lined the street. He could pop out of any of them. The sound of her shoes hitting the pavement reverberated off the buildings. She couldn’t stop now even though her side ached from running. The safety of her car grew closer with every stride.
Three more blocks. The sounds of talking and laughter intermixed with flute music grew louder as she passed the Chinese restaurant on the right, the only store still open. Relief washed over her. She wasn’t alone anymore. She sprinted across the street toward the restaurant. Loud gasps escaped her chest as she threw open the door, then slammed it closed. Cosima glared at the street outside searching for the shadow man.
“Miss, can I help you?” said a voice with a Chinese accent.
Cosima yelped and whirled around to face a short, old Chinese man. Every pair of eyes in the restaurant stared at her. The blood rushed into her cheeks. ”I’m sorry,” she said and sucked in a deep breath of air, “A man was chasing me!” Her eyes teared up even though she tried to stop them.
“Oh, I am sorry miss. Would you like me to call police?” the old man asked, concerned. He touched her arm, the unexpected sensation causing Cosmia to jump.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know.” Calling the police was a good idea, but then she’d have to wait and fill out paperwork and they’d want to take statements. She could be stuck for hours. Cosima wanted to get home to her son and away from this nightmare. Plus, the police would never believe her story.
“No, that’s okay. Can I wait here for a few minutes? He’s probably gone by now. I just need a moment to catch my breath.”
“Sure miss, you take your time. I’ll get you some tea. Please have a seat.” His wrinkled hand pointed toward a red vinyl seat next to the door.
“Thank you.” Cosima said and sat down, laying her cameras on her lap.
Other staff members continued to examine her. Once the old man shuffled away, she returned her gaze to the street outside ignoring the others. Her car was visible one block down on the other side of the street. So close. She put her hands up to the sides of her face to block out the light and searched for the shadow man. No one was outside. Against her better judgement, she grabbed her cameras and bolted out the door.
“Miss!” she heard behind her and then the door closed. The cold air clung to her as she ran across the street straight toward her car. Her eyes darted around watching for anything.
When she reached her car, Cosima let out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding. The straps of her equipment entangled her as she struggled to get them off. Calm down, it’s okay now. She took a deep breath and worked one camera off at a time, placing them on the ground and shrugged the Canon backpack off her shoulders. The weight disappearing from her back was an immediate relief. She hesitated a moment, feeling eyes watching her. Quickly, she stole a glance around. The old Chinese man watched her from the restaurant door. Cosima waved at him and he waved back. Knowing he was watching helped her feel more secure.
Was the shadow man still standing behind the buildings? She glanced at the spot where he had stood. He was gone. The alley was empty. Her light stands and tripod still lay on the ground a few blocks away. Her heart quickened. Should she get them? She twisted in every direction, darting her eyes around searching every shadow and dark crevice. She saw no one except diners in the Chinese restaurant and the old man at the door. She took a deep breath. No, don’t be stupid, buy new equipment. Only stupid girls in horror movies go back. Something unnatural happened to her; the way she lost control of her body, even her mind. That pile of metal wasn’t worth her life.
Cosima fumbled with the button on her keys to unlock the car and chucked her equipment into the back. She slammed the back door shut and opened the front falling into the driver’s seat. She locked the doors and started the car not bothering to put on her seatbelt. She jumped as the engine, CD player, and heater blasted to life startling her. The air conditioner blew a cold, uncomfortable breeze on her chest, but the sound of Bella Morte’s familiar music began to calm her. She shut off the air and started the engine, her nerves returning to normal.
Pulling out of the parking space, she took one last glance around. Still no shadow man. She turned left onto Queen Street and sped home hoping no cops pulled her over for speeding.