Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Excerpt of group novel! Lookit!

Hey all my Friends!
Here's a little taste of what I've been working on lately. I decided to let each writer create their own character for the novel and write a complete chapter of him/or her. What follows is some of mine. Your thoughts woould be good. Thanks!

Chapter 1: Blake Olson

Tilting his head to the night sky, eyes fixing for a moment on the fat, bright moon and then shifting away, Blake brought the bottle of Wild Turkey Bourbon to his lips and knocked back a couple heavy swigs. When done, he hissed out a long, hot sigh, and rested the bottle on his right knee.

Beside his lawn chair, lying lifelessly on the dewy grass, his dog, Pepper, a mutt if ever there was one, began to snore. Back in the house, Rowdy would already be in bed, fast asleep and dreaming whatever kids dreamed about these days. But then again, Rowdy wasn’t your average kid. Blake had never known a person with so much imagination. And talent! Christ! The kid had the talent of Da Vinci, with a dash of Todd McFarland thrown in for good measure.

Rowdy also had Downs Syndrome. And that was too bad. To Blake it seemed like such a waste, because, folks with Downs, or any other mental challenges, would never be accepted in today’s world of low carb diets, glamour shots and Deal or No Deal. Blake sighed, eyes returning to the moon.

“Well, Pepp,” he said and lit a cigarette. “Here we are again. Two bachelors just kickin back and watching the moon. Feels good, huh?”

Pepper let loose a bubbly fart in response and went on snoring.

Blake glanced down at the dog, then threw back his head and brayed laughter into the night air.

Across the street, the bedroom window of his friend and neighbor, Ralph Ramsey, flickered alight.

“Uh-oh,” Blake managed when he saw and continued to donkey laugh himself into heavy wheezing.

Something that felt like steel bands clamped around his chest and the wheezing thickened. Phlegm built up in his windpipe, threatening to drown him alive. The cigarette dropped from his hand, landed on Pepper, bounced off. Pepper didn’t notice. The bottle of Wild Turkey spilled from Blake’s lap and toppled to the ground, gurgling out its brownish contents. Blake doubled over, breath shallow, filled with phlegm. He groped for the right pocket of his jeans. Reddish blobs burst before his watery eyes.

He shoved his trembling hand into the pocket, and yanked out an albuterol inhaler. He felt a firm hand grasp his shoulder. Someone was telling him to just take it easy, and breathe damn it, breathe…He pulled off the cap of the inhaler, his vision blurring, fading, stuck the mouth piece between his lips, pushed down the cylinder as he sucked in what little air he could. He did it again, and again. Finally, the medicine took hold, and his wheezing softened, the steel bands around his chest loosened slowly, the phlegm trickled down his throat. The hand on his shoulder eased, dropped away, and Blake fell back in his hair, taking long, slow breaths, eyes closed. As always, after a bout like that, he felt drained and embarrassed, weak and inferior.

My lungs, he thought. My fucking weak ass lungs.

Then—“You stupid sonofabitch,” a man’s voice, old but strong, quaked him from the inside out. He knew that voice right away, as he had known whose hand it had been on his shoulder. Ralph. Ralph Ramsey. When he opened his eyes, Ralph was standing in front of him, frowning in the gloom.

“Hey Ralph,” Blake breathed.

The old man’s face contorted into what appeared to be frustration. “Don’t ‘Hey Ralph’ me, you nit-wit. What are you doing smoking when you know you’re not supposed to?”

Blake shrugged.“Seemed like a good thing to do at the time,” he said. Ralph rolled his eyes. When he spoke again, his voice was like thunder. “You’re killing yourself, kid! Can’t you see that?”

Blake chuckled; the bourbon was really kicking in now. Ralph appeared to be wavering where he stood.“Monkey see, monkey do,” Blake said, and laughed.

“Yeah, well, you’re gonna be one dead monkey if you don’t watch it. And what about Rowdy? What’s gonna happen to him if you go? Ever think of that?” Ralph said.

Now the old man seemed to be dancing, bopping and jiving in front of Blake. The world around them began to spin like one of those old record players. Slow at first, but gaining speed.Blake opened his mouth to respond, but instead of speaking, vomited into his lap.

“Christ, kid,” Ralph said.Blake leaned forward, vomited again. And then the spinning world faded away. He hung in darkness.

He floated in the darkness. But it was the darkness of his nightmares now. He jostled, floated, like a human bobber on a wavy lake. Floated, jostled, floated, bobbed. Blake knew he was in his nightmares again. He knew it, but had no power to wake his outer-self up. Besides, his nightmares wouldn’t allow such an easy escape so early in the game. His nightmares were real pricks, to be honest. Real fuck-a-roos.

Blake swam, bobbed, glanced around. He knew they’d be coming, yet he felt calm about it. He always felt calm until they actually came. Was that madness? To feel calm in an unstill darkness, knowing evil things were about to emerge, claws outstretched, fangs gnashing? Maybe, but what else could he do? How else should he feel? Sure, okay, he could be scared shitless, but this wasn’t the first time his nightmares have stolen the real world from under him. Or was this the real world? Jesus, he didn’t know anymore. Since Rowdy’s and his parents died, run over by a semi crossing the street downtown, he wasn’t sure how to feel about anything. He was twenty-five, and had his own apartment over in what Masonites called “The Old Town”, had a great job writing for the local paper.

Then his parents were killed, and there was no one to take care of Rowdy.Now, twenty-seven, working two jobs, one still at the paper, the other working the night shift at a steel fabrication company just outside of town, and living in his parents house again, he wondered if this was his punishment for letting them die? Of course it was. Hadn’t been he who wanted them to check out a new apartment downtown because he was too busy to do it himself? Yep. Check mate. Do not pass Go. And what was the real truth why he couldn’t look at the apartment? Why, the ghost, of course; the ghost that haunted his apartment building. The one that liked to yank the blankets off him every time he was about to doze off. So he had been tired. Blake had slept through his parents’ death. He didn’t know anything, except how to work, get drunk, smoke, and take care of his kid brother.

In other words, he knew how to kill himself. In the dark, Blake shivered.The first one slipped out of the wavy dark, shrieking his name, red eyes slanted downward in an ominous glare, long fangs bared. IT moved swiftly to him. And here was Blake’s cue to start screaming. The second emerged, crocodile maw snapping, ragged talons lashing the oily air. Blake’s scream never wavered and real horror burst through his dream self, freezing him in the dark waves of his nightmares.

The third swept in, and he was consumed by their brutality. His skin was ripped from his body, slashed off with every sweep of a claw. His muscles were torn from the bones, his eyes poked out by sharp talons. The pain, the sheer agony, the horror, blasted through him as he was torn apart like shucked corn. He screamed…

Blake snapped awake, bringing the scream back with him to the real world, the outside world. He sat bolt upright in his bed. Yes. He was in his bed now, in his room. Sunlight shined in through the drapes over his bedroom window, bathing him in a dull yellowish color like a nicotine stain.

Sweat oiled his face and body, soaked the sheet covering him.


Charles Gramlich said...

I'm liking it so far. I'm not clear on how the two scenes interrelate but that's probably just because it's early in the work.

Donnetta Lee said...

Hi there, Lucas! Putting in a person with a disability as a character. Good for you. I hope Blake will learn through the story that his brother's life isn't a waste at all! Will the intellectually challenged brother rise to the occasion and prove himself to be 100% and not just 50%? Only the author knows.

Fab said...

Hi Lucas,

It's been a long time.
I like what you wrote. It's a bit different. Will you publish the other characters as well or will you simply post a link to them? Just curious.
Keep well and keep writing!

Lucas Pederson said...

Thanks Charles! Yeah, it's early yet. Once everything's said and done it will becaome clear. Good to see you.

Donnetta, thanks!Oh, the mentally challenged boy isn't what he seems to be. He's actually the source of what's happening...though he doesn't know it. Besides, that character isn't mine. Another author is writing HIS chapter.

Hey Fab, sure has been a long time. I'm not sure my fellow contrubuters will be willing to have me post theirs. I've asked, but got no definate answer. Maybe. Thanks! Talk to ya later!

Fab said...

Hey Lucas

Just wondering how you are doing, cause it's been a while since you posted. But I imagine it is hard to combine with work and all. Just curious after new stories and how the publishing world is treating you.

Till next