So I'm up to 14, 168 words on a novella due...five minutes ago.
Due Sunday, I guess -- and won't THAT be a hit with the mumster.
Oh hey, thanks very much to M.E. Reid for a nice mention (a VERY nice mention) of the Adrien English series on her Live Journal.
I SPY SOMETHING BLOODY. I no longer like that title. What was I thinking? I think I SPY would be better. I must have been trying to avoid the Bill Cosby vibe. Is it too late to change? I have no idea.
I have to stop writing a bit today to take a look at the structure. I'm trying to figure out how many scenes left to go. Because of the story time-frame this one needs to be quite tight.
Since I'm unable to hold a coherent conversation at this stage of the game, I'll post a sneak peek. Did I already do this? If so, humor me and pretend you've never seen this one.
I think I need a Brit check as well, but there's probably no time. Any Brit authors want to exchange fast -- like brushpass fast -- critiques?
Okay, excerpt...I SPY...SOMETHING BLOODY...
The telephone rang and rang. I stared through the window glass of the
phone box at rugged green moorland and the distant snaggle-tooth
remains of a prehistoric circle. The rolling open hills of Devon
looked blue and barren against the rainwashed sky. I'd read somewhere
they'd filmed The Hound of the Baskervilles around here -- it looked
like a good day for a Hellhound to be out and about, prowling the
eerie ruins and chasing virgin squeak toys to their deaths.
To the north were the military firing zones. Silent this afternoon.
The phone continued to ring -- a faraway jangle on the other end of
I closed my eyes for a moment. It felt years since I'd really slept.
The glass was cool against my forehead. Why had I come back? What had
I hoped to accomplish? I'd barely known Barry Shelton. He'd just been
one of my team. Quiet, tough, capable. I'd known a lot of Barry
Sheltons through the years. Their faces all ran together. Just
another anonymous young man -- like me.
"He died for nothing. A pointless, stupid, violent death. For
I could still hear Shelton's mother screaming at me, blaming me. Why
not? It was as much my fault as anyone's. It didn't matter. I wasn't
exactly the sensitive type. Neither had been Shelton. The only puzzle
was why I'd imagined the news would come better from me. Wasn't even
my style, really, dropping in on the widows and orphans and Aged Ps.
That kind of thing was much better handled by the old man.
My leg was aching. And my ribs. Rain ticked against the glass. I
opened my eyes. The wet-dark road was wide and empty. I could see
miles in either direction. All clear. The wind whistled forlornly
through the places where the door didn't quite fit snugly; the old
booth shook in the wind.
Unexpectedly, the receiver picked up. A deep voice -- with just that
hint of Virginia accent --said against my ear, "Stephen Ross."
I hadn't expected to be so moved by just the sound of his voice.
Funny really, although laughter was the furthest thing from me. My
throat closed and I had to work to get anything out.
"It's Nate," I managed huskily, after too long a pause.
He was there, though. I could hear the live and open stillness on the
other end of the line. "Stephen?" I said.
"What did you want, Nate?" he asked quietly. Too quietly.
"I'm in trouble." It was a mistake. I knew that the moment I'd said
it. I should be apologizing, wooing him, not begging for help, not
compounding my many errors. My hand clenched the receiver so hard my
fingers felt numb. "Stephen?"
"Can I come home?"
He said without anger, "This isn't your home."
My heart pounded so hard I could hardly hear over the hollow thud. My
mouth felt gummy-dry, the way it used to before an op. A long time
ago. I licked my lips. No point arguing now. No time. I said, "I…
don't have any place else to go."
Not his problem. I could hear him thinking it. And quite rightly.
He said with slow finality, "I don't think that coming here would be
a good idea, Nate."
I didn't blame him. And I wasn't surprised. Not really. But surprised
or not, it still hurt like hell. More than I expected. I'd been
prepared to play desperate; it was a little shock to realize I didn't
have to play. My voice shook as I said, "Please, Stephen. I wouldn't
ask if it -- please."
Nothing but the crackling emptiness of the open line. I feared he
would hang up, that this tenuous connection would be lost -- and then
I would be lost. Stranded here at the ends of the Earth where bleak
sky fused into wind-scoured wilderness.
Where the only person I knew was Tony Shelton's mother.
I opened my mouth -- Stephen had once said I could talk him into
anything -- but I was out of arguments. Too tired to make them even
if I'd known the magic words. All that came out was a long,
I don't know if Stephen heard it all the way across the Atlantic, but
after another heart beat he said abruptly, "All right then. Come."
I replaced the receiver very carefully and pushed open the door. The
wind was cold against my face, laced with rain. Rain and a hint of
the distant sea; I could taste the salty wet on my lips.