Years ago, I got it into my head to be a writer. So, I sat down with a pretty cool story idea (I thought) and started writing. I stalled at about 6600 words. They were not...good words. Oh, there were bits and pieces of potential brilliance with some work. I am always potentially brilliant. ;)
The story never went anywhere and I didn't do anything for awhile, hating myself for being stuck at my first outing. Then, some time later, I decided to try again. A new idea, new characters, a new attempt to do what I'd not thought possible. And, I succeeded! My first full novel is no better than my aborted attempt. It could be, should I ever want to sit down with five full novel first drafts and turn them into something else.
Which seems like a lot of work. ;) Especially when I have NEW ideas.
Still, I have all of these things.
Including that first, aborted attempt.
The story took place in a small town in OK (because write what you know) and was about a man who ran a moving company that specialized in packing up belongings in haunted houses to make sure no ghosts followed. Because, write what sounds fun. I hate the main character. He was terrible. I am MUCH better at male POV now. I think. :)
Still, I was emptying an external drive to use it for the Xbox and came across the old stuff. I've cleaned it up a wee bit and offer the beginning of When the Spirit Moves You. Which I want to finish, if only because I hate having half-told stories even if only to myself. :)
I wouldn't call this cheaty as it's all rewritten and some of it is new. Maybe I'll post a bit of this story over the next few days. A bit of rewriting, but some of it is usable. And, it's my blog. Haha! You're not the boss of me. I'll do what I want!
When The Spirit Moves You
The dream happened and I’d come to accept that over the years. I was much better at accepting it at night, in my own bed, where no one would hear me if I screamed. When I dozed at my desk and propelled into the nightmare it’s a little different.
It’s always dark at first and I heard the screams while stumbling around trying to find my way out. Out of wherever this horror lurked that wanted me close. Grasping hands found a wall and I fet my way along rotted wood and decomposing wallpaper. Probably some ugly rose wallpaper in some ugly old house, but there was no light to confirm suspicions.
If the screams were bad they’re nothing compared to the whimpering. The quiet sounds of desperation might almost be ignored in the light. In the dark they’re powerful and my feet moved faster to reach the end of the hallway. I always did. Then, there it was, waiting for me. The end, freedom, safety called out to me, but something waited between it and me. What waited was something hideous and large. And me? I was helpless and small. Trapped as it watched, patiently, for me to get close so it could grab me with its hands and hold tight forever.
I was aware enough to know it’s a dream, but not enough to break it and escape. In the twenty-one years I’d had the dream I’d never been able to break it. The nightmare ended when it was ready and not a moment sooner. Standing just out of reach, just out of sight, was the thing that called me. It was the source of the screams and the whimpers and all the dread I’d ever felt in the middle of the night. This time something was different. I felt the difference.
The door. I saw the door. I’d never seen the door before, only a pulsing darkness around the thing. Even asleep, I’d been sure of escape, but no true exit had ever appeared. Now, if I made it past the thing, there would be safety waiting. Light seeped in from under the door. It illuminated the thing, but I looked away before I saw too many gasping mouths and reaching hands.
My dream self took hold of the hope of safety and I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t.
I never made it.
No matter if I ran, leapt, crept, or dashed, it was never good enough. The thing always got me and I woke to the smothering feeling of hands and clammy breath.
This time it’s different, my dream self thought. I wanted to rail, but it’s as useless as yelling at the movie screen. I watched as the running started and then it’s me running. Always before I watched, but now it’s me and I screamed as I charged the beast and it reached for me, but this time…this time, blessed safety was mine. I felt bone break and flesh tear as one hand got ahold and didn’t let go, but there’s the door. Safety was right there and I touched the knob and turned the handle and the light spilled forth.
Safe. For the first time, I was safe. The dream allowed me think that for a second. Then, I saw what waited in the light and woke up with a scream.
The door to my office burst open and three worried sets of eyes stared. Behind the knuckledraggers, Shelley hovered with a post-it in her hand. A work call, I guessed, since no one else would be on the phone. Not Lily, certainly, who had not returned my calls since I’d forgotten her birthday.
“You ok, boss?” Chip asked.
“You see a mouse?” Marco offered with a smirk.
The new guy said nothing.
“Stepped on a nail,” I muttered. “Get back to work. I don’t pay you to lurk in fucking doorways.”
Only once they’d dispersed did prim Shelley step into my office. She said nothing, would say nothing, until she allowed herself to forget my swearing. So, lunchtime. The post-it was set on my desk and she glanced at my chin.
The door closed and I reached for a napkin from the fast food place I ate at yesterday. Wiping the sleep drool from myself with one hand, I picked up the post-it. Shit. Client on the phone. Why hadn’t she told me?
If I hadn’t promised Lee I’d keep his niece on as office manager after buying the business she’d be gone. A second glance at the number and I picked up the phone.
A timid voice on the other end responded. “Is this Aaron?”
“No, this is Joe. Aaron retired.” Aaron never existed. When the business had been started people still used phone books. Vincent’s Movers would never have been called, the company founder decided, so Aaron it was from then on.
“We need someone to pack our things. We just moved in so there’s not much.”
Another voice spoke, but I couldn’t make it out so waited.
“We were told to tell you this was a special job.”
Which I’d guessed, since their address had been the old Stevens’ place. I could put my non-existent children through college on the money I made off that house. The extra money charged for the move would be helpful, but having to call Lily would be a pain in the ass.
I half-listened as the quiet voiced man droned on, interrupted by hushed comments from his wife. Two emails came in, neither more interesting than the job, and when there was silence on the other end I transferred them back to Shelley to make an appointment.
I checked my email again after that, but nothing from Lily. This would require a gift. This would likely require groveling. Well, no one had said love was easy and I couldn’t do a ghost job without the so-called psychic being involved. Unenthused about braving the late summer heat, I still grabbed the keys to my truck and headed for parking lot.
Several of the guys hollered advice, knowing my predicament, but most of them were too young to have suffered for their passions, so I showed them my middle finger wave as I let the door slam behind me. Which left me on the wrong side of the AC. My old blue truck, waiting in anorexic shade, had seen better days, but what was the point in getting something new? I figured I didn’t put more into repairs than I’d spend on new car payments and just kept her going.
I banged the dash to see if the air conditioner wanted to work and when it didn’t I turned the radio up and rolled the window down. Fucking Oklahoma summers. I was halfway to Lily’s place before remembering my need for a forgive me gift and turned left to head to the mall. She would appreciate the gesture, I hate the mall, but I still could not screw this up.
I turned the radio up louder and ignored the glare from the sheriff’s deputy stopped next to me at the red light. When the light turned green I peeled out, daring him to stop me, but I knew he wouldn’t bother. Damned sheriff’s deputies think they’re better than a traffic stop. I might not have tried that with a city officer.
The mall awaited. With all its horrors. The things a man would do for love.