Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Piece of the New Story

For the One Hour Challenge today (which was interrupted by the second year English teacher wanting to tell me about what happened after the earthquake last March for about fifteen minutes), I wrote a scene that would maybe happen somewhere shortly after the second chapter of the Detective Lory story. No proofreading, of course, as per the rules. Proofreading comes later. Here is a scene from Detective Lory's story.

The house was, or so it looked from the outside, completely desolate. The yard was dried up and dead, a testament to those who frequently visited it in the waning hours of the night. The front door had been boarded up and then subsequently broken into more times than was necessary to count, and the most recent time was still evident by the shards of splintered wood still clinging to the rusty, jagged nails that protruded from the cracked and broken doorframe. As I approached the place, that feeling of dread I'd long since learned to ignore (though not to suppress—it still came, now and again) crept into my veins, reminded me that there were places that exude an aura of unfamiliarity, of foreignness that warned against entering. I entered.

The first thing anyone could have noticed was the furniture, covered in old sheets like that would somehow retard the passage of time and save the plush couch from the dust that crawls and the rats that chew. It was all arranged very neatly in a circle, facing outwards, closing off a space in the center that radiated stink. The circle’s inside was completely sullied, stained with old and perhaps not-so-old blood and littered with bones that looked unsettlingly human. I had certainly seen worse before, but that everything else in the place was free of gore and instead caked with dust while only this circle was painted red and brown made my reason-centers churn a bit. I tore my eyes away from the strange circle, and scanned the floor.

Footprints. Footprints, and not my own, appeared here and there where the dust would show them. And the lot of them was pretty new, to boot. Three, four, maybe more had been through here recently, though not through the front door, through which I had come. No, their prints led back deeper into the house. Of course they did. Of course. I undid the leather strap on my hip holster and loosened my revolver, just in the unlikely event I would need it, and strode quietly toward what I assumed would be a kitchen area.

Telltale signs here told of habitation. Empty cans were stacked up in the corner, dirty dishes not far away, and half a jug of water was on the table next to a kerosene stove that was still lit. The goddamn fire was still lit? Then someone must have been here just minutes ago! Did they hear me coming and split? Dammit!

I turned the stove off (after all, I’d read enough stories of houses burning down with people inside) and yanked my gun from my hip, looking to make sure all the chambers were packed. If someone was here, they might still be, and if they were, then they might be keen on my own exit, regardless of how it was executed. I listened closely, for a long minute, but I could hear nothing. As silently as I could manage, I slipped toward the door that led to the basement, which was ajar and inviting (like the maw of some strange beast waiting to prey on the unsuspecting passer-by).

The stairs were warped and mouldering, so if I wanted to get down there, there would be no chance of doing it without anyone noticing. My best chance was to do it fast, get to the bottom landing, and stay low. If anyone shoots, they will likely be shooting at my chest, not my knees. I took a deep breath, then steeled myself and kicked the door all the way open, in the same movement starting my descent. I definitely heard something down at the bottom of the stairs, I know I did.

Taking the steps three and four at a time, I hit the bottom and ducked, and just in time, too. A loud crash rang out, and the wet wooden wall above my head splintered into bits. I swung back behind the stairwell and fired blind around the corner, and heard a cry. Good. The sound of something clattering to the ground and a soft thud of a person’s knees were drowned out by the growling cry that issued from my attacker’s lips. I poked my head around the corner to check: safe.

The possibility that there would be more of them was definitely there, but for the moment, I had to get the gun away from this one. It was a shotgun, with a short barrel, and it was now a disassembled shotgun. I had hit the man in the thigh (a lucky shot, really), and when I got close he spit and cursed in a language I don’t think I had ever heard before. I leaned down to him.

“You have two choices. One, tell me what the hell you are planning, or two, get shot again. Then we move back to step one,” I said, cocking my hammer. “Up to you, champ.”

After a bit of deliberation that may have involved a bit of extra gunpowder and the infliction of another wound, I was informed that the people I was looking for called themselves Cat’s Silver Eye, that they were powerful and influential, and that I would never stand a chance against them. Of course, more information came afterward with a bit more persuasion (“I’m halfway out of bullets, now. Would you like another?”), and he mentioned that they had some item of great power. Mumbo-jumbo magic quack work, if you ask me, but it was something. They were trying to get the other half of the key (oh, so it’s a key, is it?) so that they could open a vault that contained some infinite thing or another.

I’d heard about enough of his talk, though. I left him cuffed to the stairs and went further into the basement. It was damp down here, and smelled like moldy paper and kerosene, with just a touch of something foul. The walls were plastered with scraps of paper covered in scribbled notes, diagrams, maps… and then there was a Polaroid picture, a copy of one of the ones in that package from before. A lady in a long dress with a handbag smiled brightly as she walked arm-in-arm with a sharply-dressed man into a restaurant. The same figure in the background, standing under a theatre marquis that touted the playing times for “Ace Backwards,” a new film.

No, hang on. Wait a second. Ace Backwards? That film isn’t supposed to be released for another three days…?

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