Tag Archives: excerpt

A Tentative Excerpt from Free Fall

I’m not going to lie, I’m normally very cagey about what I post with regards to NaNoWriMo. Most of the time, whatever I do share, in terms of excerpts, can already be found on my NaNoWriMo profile, under the Novel Info. These are, of course, the only excerpts I feel somewhat confident in sharing. They are also, usually, the first part of the first chapter, or something to that effect. So, guess what I’m going to be posting here?

I have other reasons for this, though. The main reason this year is the difficulty I have in trying to find an all-ages-appropriate excerpt, because there always seems to be something with me. Anything. If I was a director, I’d be notorious for getting my films an 18 certificate or above, I’m almost sure of it, and my novels, I will admit, have this tendency to go a similar way. This year, this is especially prevalent. More so than any year before, and most of my novel thus far has been laced with … well, we’ll call them ‘literary nasties’ shall we?

So yes, indeed, this is the excerpt from my profile, possibly with more to come as the month goes on, however, this is entirely dependent on 1. my cumulative word count at any time and 2. whether or not I feel it’s appropriate. I’m also doing this, somewhat, to see if I can clear my name, perhaps? What I mean is that I don’t think that this excerpt is terrible, but alongside the rest of the novel, it needs work. I like it better than some of the things I’ve written, which says a lot, considering this was a part of what I wrote on the first day … and the general consensus seems to be that writing 17,000 words in a day cannot possibly yield results.

I’ll leave that up to you to decide, however. Critique, criticize, something else beginning with C here and feel free to rip this to shreds if you do so desire!

“Courtney smiles at the woman opposite, wearing nothing but a satin gown, one elbow resting on the counter top while she sips her coffee the way she’s always liked it: black. Her short, blond hair is a mess, poker-straight layers curling at the ends, at the edges, the bottom layer falling in soft waves. Every morning, and he knows this because he’s watched her do it, still feigning sleep, she gets up a half-hour earlier than he does to put on a thin layer of make-up, the layer she’s wearing now. Her second skin. The only face she wants him to know, a fake beauty that he can wake up to every morning.

Her nails, manicured, on her free hand, they trawl through her hair, feeling for split and damaged ends, the ones she cuts off after she colors. She could almost look as though she doesn’t quite know where she is, as though the world is a new, foreign experience for her, every morning waking up to the early noise of a city just taking its first steps. Taxi cabs and cars stuck in traffic. A crash that almost happens, but doesn’t. She uses her free hand to pull her robe back onto her right shoulder, then to check her cell phone resting at the edge of the counter. She purses her lips, takes another sip of coffee, and says nothing.

She could be any other girl in the city, looking this way, only Courtney doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want her to think that there are a million others like her, even though this is a cruel truth that both of them know. It’s why she bleaches her hair lighter than the rest of them. It’s why she tries to make sure she’s the best dressed at every work function, every dinner party. Every time they go out for sushi, she goes the extra mile. And he loves her for it.

Courtney’s tie hangs loose about his neck, silver-gray, looking almost as though it’s attached to his pinstripe white shirt. Some object, some accessory, that doesn’t move. A different tie for every day of the week, a new appendage that flaps around while he looks for more coffee grounds, while he offers to cook the bacon, Monday morning’s treat that Alison insists he cut every last sliver of fat from. Most days, she leaves it there in the middle of the plate, not as an insult, but because she just can’t take the risk. Because just sniffing it piles on calories.

He runs a hand along his shaved, stinging face. He checks for stubble. He knows there’s an ingrown hair or two, but he can’t do anything about it. This is something he realizes as he checks his watch. His hair is dry, now, combed flat, not blown dry. His pants are neatly ironed with the creases perfect, meticulous, like some invisible housekeeper did it in the middle of the night, rather than him doing it, in the evening before he slides into bed. All part of the same routine. He doesn’t quite know why it is that they keep doing this same thing, over and over again, but the fact remains that they do, and he doesn’t see sense in refusing to go along with it; they have a good life. Whenever things start to seem wrong, this is what he tells himself.

Whenever things start to go wrong, this is all a part of what Courtney thinks to himself. Death and destruction in the news once again. Gunshots. Sirens. Things he knows he’ll end up dealing with in the morning, in the evening, whenever he gets that call. If he’s not due to do it, he sits behind the same desk all day and files the same paperwork, trying to remember a time when his life wasn’t made up of the same routines. As a kid, all he did was stare at the television screen. He’s still staring at it, only now, it’s a pile of papers that need to be signed, or the raw ingredients he needs to cook for when the girl, the blond, Alison, gets home from work late, or the pants he needs to iron before he goes to sleep, or his girlfriend waiting for him in bed. Do something too many times, and it all becomes a part of the same ongoing routine.

When she’s done with her coffee, Alison gets to her feet, hopping off the high stool with the gown fluttering around her thighs. Courtney, he finds it difficult to care about it anymore, but then he reminds himself who he’s looking at. Alison. It almost seems impossible for him not to love her, he’s been doing it for so long.

The two of them, Courtney and Alison, they’ve been living in the same co-op building, the same apartment, for a decade. They’ve had the same décor since 2001; the same off-white that never dates or goes out of fashion. The two of them, they’d like to live in a home that’s on the cutting edge of the latest trends, but the fact of the matter is, they have better things to spend their money on. A cabinet behind the dining table displays an array of vintage wines, spirits matured for half a century or more. They live on a diet that, over the years, has come to cost more than the rent on the place. They try to eat out more times a week than they eat in, so Courtney knows which days he’s going to be preparing a meal, and when they do eat out, it’s never takeaway or pizza. Sometimes this is all Courtney wants.

Courtney and Alison, they’re both the ailing product of a world raised by pop culture. A world that refused to look on in shock and awe, and instead either turned away or joined in, aware of how the depraved were now the center of attention. In a world where indecent exposure and lewd behavior became common practice. After Courtney turned seventeen, he stepped into this world and now he can’t get out. He can’t escape it. He grew up in a decade of unrest and dissatisfaction, where he never could see why everyone was so distracted by their finances. Where he never wanted for anything, except his parents.”

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Excerpt: Where Jackals Lie

So, the NaNoWriMo website resets tomorrow, and in ‘memory’ of last year’s event, I thought I might take the time to share an excerpt from the project I was working on at the time, ‘Where Jackals Lie.’ That, and I haven’t posted any of my writing in quite some time, the only story on here being Girl Talk … so it really is about time. Most of this project is pretty much irredeemable, entertaining enough for me to read through in my free time, but not something I’d ever look towards getting published. Unlike the rest of the book, this excerpt has been edited and polished for your enjoyment! Or … uh … well, feel free to laugh at this. If nothing else, it’s proof, to me, that I have, indeed, improved since last year. Critique at will, I just thought it was about time I shared some of this.

He had always hated the taste of his own blood. This morning, it was no different, although he was forced to consider just why he could actually taste blood, and why there was so much of it. He opened his mouth, sore lips hanging agape, the substance dried, crusted, cracking as he moved his jaw. It was not only his face that was bloodied, however. He chanced a glance towards his chest, bare, patches of the red-brown working their way down, almost to his navel.

That was not right. He had been fully clothed when he had been wandering around the streets last night, dressed all in black so as not to garner unwanted attention. His sweater may have been soaked through, he was sure it had been wet from the rain, but at least it had been on. His dampened jeans, on the other hand, did not seem to have been touched and he noticed that during the night he had worn a dark patch of collective rainwater and sweat into the white fabric of the bed. He could not focus on this, though, not while his head was pounding, aching more viciously than he had ever known it to before. He was probably bleeding all over the bed, or at least the wall that was supporting his head.

What else was supporting him? The base of his spine ached too, though was nothing when competing with his head, which had probably been cracked open at some point or another, he was relatively sure of it. It was a pain he vaguely remembered, isolated, but too overwhelming to even want to remember. Apparently, he had not been laying down for all this time, and the reason became immediately clear as he mustered the courage to turn his head gently to the side, neck stiff, threatening not to move at all if he couldn’t sustain his will. Silvery metal cuffs held him on each side, cold against his skin and tighter than he would have considered comfortable, even pleasurable. On each hand, one end of the cuff was attached to the bedstead, while the other was fastened tightly around his wrist.

Bryson groaned and tipped his head back, closing his eyes. He instantly wished that he had not done so. Whatever gash was in his head, wherever the blood was seeping out from, hit the wall painfully and he twitched, although the cuffs would not allow him to move too much. The scene in front of him was a difficult one to discern. His vision had not fully returned, and he knew that he had not felt this since the first time he had downed alcohol, mixed as many spirits as he could find until he passed out cold in the middle of the bar. His head was heavy with the pain and agitation, but he could vaguely comprehend the things that had been clear from the moment he had woken up, but that he had chosen to ignore until now; that it was morning, that the room was a minimalist type with light decor, and that he was chained to a bed.

Next to him, a mirror was situated upon a table laden with various knives in a selection of sizes, or with decorative grips, serrated edges. Weapons, not curios. Items used to kill, not merely to display. Most of the knives were small enough to be concealed, glimmered and told him that their owner truly cared for them … whoever it was knew the difference between a switchblade and a bayonet, for example. Some of these glittering implements were a little longer, much more brutal things that warned him not to make a wrong move, not to say anything out of line, because otherwise, he would pay dearly. It was these longer knives that caused him to look down, impulse leading him rather than the logic he could not find at present. Nothing but dried blood and dampened fabric.

It was what was laid out in front of him that demanded his attention. Anything that had once been in his pockets – two pistols, a switchblade, his lighter, half-finished pack of cigarettes and some spare change – was now set in front of his crossed legs, displayed as if to tell him that it was all over. Someone was on to him. An involuntary shudder ran down Bryson’s spine as he stopped to consider this prospect, distracting himself eventually with the thought of where the rest of his clothes might be. It did no good. His half-closed eyes scanned the room one last time, but it was spotless, effortlessly clean and white; the closet door was closed, vanishing into the white wall, and nothing else caught his eye. To anyone else, the sight of this endless, white room might have been maddening.

He swallowed, a metallic taste, is throat rough and mouth seemingly swollen, detached as though it was not his own. He felt as though he would never properly move his head again. Severe whiplash or the worst crick in the neck that anyone could experience … regardless, he had the strangest feeling that he had been suspended in the same position for far too long, and hoped dearly that whoever had him here would let him go soon. He grinned at the thought, more blood oozing out onto his chest.

“Not fucking likely,” he muttered, his voice hoarse, throat cracking from the liquid that had already dried in it. It was not likely, after all, that someone who had gone to the trouble to chain him up like this simply wanted to have their fun with him. He had never met someone so obscenely sadistic in his entire life, and he liked to think that he had already met a great deal of strange people, enough that he might have already met a closet sadist or two without knowing it.

“Well, aren’t you a mess,” the speaker’s voice croaked a little, like she had just woken up and was trying to get back into the routine of using it. However, he knew that there was no need to contest or doubt her. Every word suggested that she had the utmost control of the situation. He attempted to laugh, but only ended up spraying a mixture of blood and saliva on his skin. “I guess you can deal with it for a while, though.”

Slowly, he allowed his gaze to rise. She had left the door behind her open and a smoldering cigarette hung loosely between two of her fingers; he could see that the room in the background was crowded with smoke – she had not left a single window open and had, instead, let him sit here, protracting what was beginning to seem like her torment. It was not the cigarette that captured his attention, as much as he had started to crave one already. It was not even the swagger she presented herself with, a sheet of dark brown hair fluttering at her back as she crossed one leg in front of the other, stepping delicately on a smooth, cold floor.

No, if there was one thing that enticed Bryson more than anything, it was the fact that the woman approaching him was wearing little more than her underwear.

Her figure was desirable as any he had seen, not perfect by any means, but more than enough, and she did not have the flighty, absent quality that Elaina did. Everything she did, from each step she took towards him to the way in which she held herself, shoulders back, elbow bent so that her cigarette hovered somewhere near her shoulder, was a controlled action. She inhaled, took a long drag on the cigarette as she set herself down in front of him on the bed.

“I guess Eddie got a little carried away. He does that,” almost too gently, she placed a hand on his chin and jerked his head up. “It’s his hobby. He only messes people up if he wants to.” Too careful. Dangerously false. That smile was not real, it did not suit her, she was disguised in front of him. He could not muster anything to say, however, and remained silent as she smiled … sneered. He didn’t fully understand the expression.

She seemed irritated at his lack of a response and her smile faltered before she threw it away entirely in favor of an expression that so suited her. She twisted her head to the side a little, swelled her chest, licked her lips before looking back at him, directing her focus, her smile gone.

“You’re a bitch to track down.”

“I try.” He was not going to meet her with the kind of submissive response her presence commanded, not going to She narrowed her eyes, a gesture every woman he knew would perform at some stage or another, but here, it was different. A kind of malice. Threat.

“Ever since that councilor got himself killed. You remember? You’re a bitch to find, but you’re also sloppy. Some guys, they mentioned something about two-twelve, but I couldn’t quite understand them,” her hand neared him, the one clutching the cigarette between two of her fingers. “You wouldn’t know anything about it, would you?”

“What makes you think I would?” he breathed in sharply as she pressed the lit end of the cigarette into his forearm, grinding ash and ember into a burn, a perfect pink circle. It was an extended gesture, but he could not bring himself to writhe, exhaling instead, the cigarette still not gone from his arm. She paused for a moment, he watched as she glanced slowly over at the dressing table, the knives – the conclusion was working over her, a simple enough one to come to, and one he was sure she would enjoy. Who was he to deprive her of such pleasure? After a few minutes, however, watching her gazing almost listlessly away from him, he understood that the silence had gone on for too long. “Why am I here?”

First, she removed the cigarette, seeming to awaken as he asked her this. She pulled herself delicately up onto the bed, shifting his belongings that she had placed in front of him for no apparent reason, and sat back on her heels, her hands resting upon her thighs.

“Because … I can’t risk you getting away, not just yet,”

“I don’t think there’s much of a chance of that happening,” he grimaced as he tried to move his head once again, motioning towards the handcuffs holding him in place. He watched as she grinned at him, momentarily, her hands sliding along her smooth, olive thighs towards her knees and back again. She cocked her head to the side again, this time examining him, his eyes, his face, the blood crusted around his nose and lips. Large patches of it running down his chest, towards his navel. His eyes followed her hands, clear nail polish and three or four silver rings with no discernible significance; she didn’t stop once she noticed him looking, pulled her hands further up towards her hips, moving them in longer motions now, aware that he was paying attention.

“You know, you look so much better in the photo, ” he didn’t quite know if his heart stopped at that moment. He didn’t feel as though there was much need in asking the question that struck him at that moment, but he did it anyway.

“What photo?” she grinned, removed her hands from her thighs, seemingly knowing it was futile to continue anyway, and lifted herself from the bed. As he watched her stretch out her perfect legs, he noticed how his own didn’t seem to work any more; as though he had lost all feeling in them. Not surprising. They should have gone numb long before. Standing there in her underwear, she unfolded a copy of the Report that he hadn’t noticed before, and his own clean face stared back at him. An accident. The photographer had been trying to get the body, and failing that, Carruthers.

“I took that mask you were wearing off shortly after you got here. I must say, detective, you do an impressive job. Why would anyone suspect you?” he didn’t need her to tell him how perfect the idea had seemed at the time. Now, not only was he wishing he had never so much as started the job, he was starting to wish he hadn’t gone into work the day after. Hadn’t gotten in the way of the photographer. He was starting to wish that he could have avoided the whole situation; he didn’t need the smug look on her face, the way she straightened up before perching herself on the edge of the bed once again to tell him where she had him.  “So, detective. Why did you do it?” he didn’t suppose that acting like it never happened would benefit him right now. He was damned if he wasn’t going to try it, though. He gritted his teeth as he spoke.

“Do what?” she leaned in. Picked up the pack of his cigarettes that had been lying on the bed and withdrew one, before placing it between her nude, glossed lips and flicked open his lighter. She took one drag, before nearing him with it.

“Why did you kill the councilor?”

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