Crossed Wires – a short story

“It’s this way.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

Alice looked at the map. “Yes,” she snapped. “I do know how to read a map.”

 

“Okay, okay, no need to get tetchy.” Jack turned the wheel hard to the right, steering the old camper van onto a narrow gravel road. “This just doesn’t seem right. I mean, we’re not even on a proper road.”

 

Well, you wanted to get off the beaten track,” his wife reminded him.

 

“Not this far off the track.”

 

The van bounced over potholes hidden by the gravel. 

 

“I hope the suspension on this old crate is up to the job,” he grumbled. “This thing has seen better days.”

 

“Oh quit grumbling,” said Alice. “You’re the one who wanted to go camping.”

 

“Yeah, and you’re the one who booked it. We must have taken a wrong turn. There’s nothing out here.”

 

Alice traced the line of the road on the map with her finger. “It looks like the site is just another mile ahead. If we go two miles without finding it, we’ll turn back.”

 

Jack glanced sideways at his wife. “Is that your way of admitting you’re wrong?”

 

“I’m never wrong,” Alice sniffed. 

 

Jack shook his head. “You women always say that.”

 

“Although, I will admit I may have made one mistake in my life.”

 

“Go on then, I’ll bite. What was that?”

 

“I married you!” Alice winked at him.

 

Jack glared at her for a moment then laughed. “Yeah, yeah, I don’t know how you put up with me.”

 

“Two large gin and tonics every night. Nothing else would do it.”

 

The old van bounced over a particularly large pothole. Jack’s head hit the ceiling. “Ow. Dammit.”

 

Before Alice could say anything, she spotted two buildings ahead. “See? What did I tell you? I’m never wrong.”

 

“We don’t know if that’s the right place, yet,” Jack reminded her.

 

“Of course it is. You just don’t want to admit I’m right.”

 

Moments later it became obvious they’d found the camp site, as tents came into view.

 

“It looks very basic,” Jack commented. “There doesn’t seem to be much of any amenities.”

 

“Well, you wanted to get away from it all,” Alice reminded him.

 

“Yeah, yeah, you said that already. It’s just that I don’t fancy driving along this road at night. Not that there’s anywhere nearby to drive to.” He noticed something and slammed his foot on the brake, throwing them both forward against their seatbelts.

 

“Jack! What do you think you’re doing? Have you lost your mind?”

 

“Something’s not right.” Jack leaned forward, peering at the campsite ahead.

 

“What on earth do you mean?”

 

“Well take a look at those two over there, walking to that tent.”

 

Alice followed the line of his arm as he pointed to the people he meant. They were facing toward her and walking to a large four man tent. They were a man and a woman, walking arm in arm. Alice could clearly see the woman’s breasts, bouncing and unfettered. And she could see the man’s… “Oh! They’re naked!”

 

As the middle-aged couple looked around they could see other people similarly unclothed.

 

Jack turned to his wife. “What was the name of the campsite you booked?”

 

“Back to Basics, “his wife answered in a small voice. 

 

“And where did you find this camp?”

 

“On a camping website. I called the number shown on the site. I said we were looking for a back to basics sort of camp site.”

 

“Well, didn’t they give you any other information?”

 

“Only that it was very secluded and private.”

 

“I can see why.” Jack nodded to the camp.

 

“What do we do now?”

 

“I guess we go in. I don’t see that we have any other choice since there’s nothing else for miles around. Besides it’s going to be dark soon. No wonder this place cost so much.”

 

“I can’t go around naked in public,” his wife shrieked.

 

“We’ll just have to hide out in the van. Like I said, it’ll be dark soon anyway. Nobody will be able to see much. We’ll just stay for tonight and try to get some money back tomorrow. This is some vacation. At least you can’t say you’re never wrong any more.”

 

Alice huffed and folded her arms over her chest. 

 

Jack drove up to the main gate. If nothing else, it’d be something to tell his friends about at the bridge club.

 

When Characters Revolt!

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs about how I’m stalled on my first novel, Psychic Witness.  Something is just off with the story.  I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, something was just not working.  I couldn’t get the voice of my main character, Toby Manning.  The story is in first person so a good strong voice is obviously vital for the story to work.  But whatever I tried, I just couldn’t seem to get his personality or his voice right.

Yet there is another character, Lori Marshall.  I created her originally as a plot device to bring Toby into conflict with his antagonist sooner rather than later.  But she wasn’t happy with that.  Oh no!  She forced her way into the story more, becoming a vital part of the plot.  Then she started making eyes at Toby’s best friend, Pete Hannity.  Now I think she’s making a play for becoming the main character herself!  What next?  Lori Marshall for President?   Lori Marshall to take over the world?  The thing is, the idea of her becoming the main character is starting to make sense.  I don’t think Toby is right for the role.  Maybe I can find a bit part for him!  I can see how I can make the changes.  Right from the start Lori stood out.  The story comes alive when she’s on the page.  I definitely have her voice and personality much stronger than Toby.  Sorry Toby, you’re getting downsized!

All this will have to go on the backburner though as i have a new project I’m working on and the way this one is going I’ll have it finished in a month or two.  Psychic Witness: delayed, not denied!

When Magic Happens

I’ve written a couple of blogs already about how I’m stalled out on my novel, Psychic Witness, and how I bought five notepads with the intentions of writing some short stories with the intention of kickstarting my writing again.  Well, I seem to have started a major project.  My first short story looked to be a futuristic heist-gone-wrong type of tale.  Only it seems to have expanded into something much longer and more complex.  In short, I seem to have a full blown novel on my hands. 

There’s something very strange and magical going on with this story.  While I’m writing, it’s as if there’s a little voice whispering in my ear telling me what to write.  The words just flow.  I never have to stop to think what to write next.  Not only that, I can’t plan ahead!  Whatever I think is going to happen when I next get to write is always completely wrong.  Every time I sit down to write, something completely unexpected happens.  Something that never even crossed my mind when I was thinking what to write later.  This story is so organic it’s almost alive. 

One time I wrote about one of the two characters getting captured.  I thought he was the main character who was going to feature the most.  The second character is more subservient, more used to being told what to do than think for himself.  Now he’s thrust into the limelight, having to fend for himself in a dark mysterious forest.  I never saw that coming before I sat and wrote it.

Today the unexpected happened again.  I’d been thinking about what was going to happen to my secondary, now primary character, Raygon..  Where would he end up.  I’d imagined several scenarios.  So this afternoon, I finally had time to sit and write.  I had him wander through the forest until he was exhausted and collapsed to rest.  He’d just drifted to sleep.  The name Ryda popped into my head from nowhere.  The next thing I knew, I was writing about an encounter Raygon has with what I can only describe as a magical being.  She looks like a teenage girl.  She’s childlike and petulant.  And so vivid.  It’s almost spooky how this story is evolving.  Now I seem to be writing a fantasy story.  I sense this tale has only just begun and there is a lot more to come.  I don’t know what’s coming next and I’m not even going to try to guess because I’ll probably be wrong.  I’ll just let this story unfold as it wants.  I’ve never written this way before but it’s just so much fun!

Below is a snippet from todays writing, introducing Ryda.  it’s my first draft so it’ll be rough but I just wanted to share her with you all.  I know she’ll be back in this story.  I don’t know how, but I’m sure I won’t be able to keep her away.

 

 

A childish giggle dragged Raygon from slumber’s beckoning embrace.  He lifted his head and looked around.  Nobody was in sight.  “Hello?  Is someone there?”

The giggle came again, sounding just to his left.  The giggle had a mischievous quality that chilled him.  Was this a ghost?    All thoughts of sleep fled as he tried to make sense of the situation.  He stood, his body tense, ready for fight or flight.  “Who’s there?”  He unholstered his blaster, gripping it tight.

The giggle sounded again, from his right this time.  He turned, blaster held up.  “Who are you?  Show yourself.”

“Why?”  The voice had a sulky petulant quality.

“Because I want to see you.”

“Why?”

“Because I need to know if you’re a friend or an enemy.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m alone and afraid.”:

“Why?”

“Because…Look, don’t you ever say anything other than why?”

“Sometimes.”

The change in dialogue threw him a little.  “That’s better.  Now, who are you?”

“Ryda.”

“That’s a pretty name.  Why can’t I see you?”

“Because.”

“Do you ever speak more than one word at a time?”

“Sometimes.”

“Can I please see you?”

“Maybe.”

“Does my weapon scare you?  I’ll put it away.”  He holstered his blaster.  “See?  you’re safge now.”

The phantom voice giggled again.  “I’m not scared.  That toy can’t harm me.”

“So you can speak more than word at a time.  May I please see you now?”

The air in front of him shimmered like a heat haze.  A figure slowly coalesced into view.  At first just the outline, then the features appeared until a small human girl appeared, no more than four feet tall.  She had soft delicate features, a heart-shaped face framed by vibrant red hair that fell to her shoulders.  She was waif like in appearance, had a waif-like body and she wore a short green tunic that left most of her legs bare.  She looked roughly like a sixteen year old girl, but she felt considerably older.  Her eyes sparkled and her lips quirked as if she was ready to giggle again.  “Is this better?”

Raygon nodded.  “Much.  It’s nice to be able to see the person you’re talking to.  What are you doing here?  Are you alone?”

“The forest is my home.  I’ve been following you for hours.  You are noisy.”

“Why did you wait so long to contact me?”

“You amused me.”  She giggled again.  “I get so few visitors these days.  Nobody ever comes here any more.  How did you get here?”

 

That’s all I’m sharing for now.  I hope you enjoyed it!

 

 

 

 

 

Writing By The Seat Of your Pants

A strange thing is happening with my latest writing.  When I wrote my novel, Psychic Witness, I pretty much mapped it out so I knew what was going to happen.  There were a few surprises, but nothing major.  I was in control and I knew what was going to happen next.  I’ve been stuck in editing hell for a while now.  I haven’t touched the manuscript in weeks.  I’ve missed writing so much but I can’t bring myself to touch this story right now.  I don’t know what the problem is.  I think it’s something with my main character.  I just can’t seem to get into his head.  I’m thinking right story, wrong character?

As I wrote in my last blog, I bought a set of five notepads on Friday with the intention of writing some short stories to blast through my block and get me writing again.  Well, that very night two names popped into my head from nowhere.  I wasn’t even thinking about writing.  In fact I was watching an episode of Doctor Who!  I grabbed one of the notepads intending to just write the names down so I wouldn’t forget them.  Then a scene came fully developed into my mind of two men standing in front of a steel door that led to some sort of vault.  One of the men had used a pass card to try to get into the vault.  But it hadn’t worked and in fact it set off an alarm. 

Naturally I started writing.  What came out was an intense chase scene that ended with them jumping off a ledge to fall fifty feet into a lake to escape their pursuers. That’s how I left it that night as it was late and I was tired.  The next day I continued writing and the pair’s dash to safety continued only to end with one of them being captured.  The other escaped into a forest.  The strange thing is I don’t know what is going to happen next until I pick up a pen and actually start to write.  I had no idea one of them was going to get caught until it happened.  It wasn’t something I’d considered.  I don’t think I can even plan ahead because whatever I think is going to happen probably won’t even be close when I come to write it.  It’s almost like reading the story.  I have no idea what’s going to happen until I actually write it!  This short story is also threatening to grow into a full blown novel.  I sense there is a lot more to this story to come.

Has this happened to you?  Is this how you write?  As someone who usually plots an outline, even just a vague list of plot points, this style of writing is very liberating and even exciting.  It’s also a bit scary.  What if the story just runs up against a brick wall?  What if I write the characters into a situation that I have no idea how to get them out of?  At this moment I have no idea who these two men are.  Are they good guys or bad guys?  What were they after in the vault? All I know is the story that I thought was going to be a sort of futuristic heist tale seems to be heading into the fantasy realm.  Not something I have any experience of writing.  Though I do enjoy a good fantasy story.

The main thing though, is I have rediscovered the joy of writing.  I no longer look at the computer and think I should get back to writing.  I AM writing and it feels great!

Blog Hop – What I’m working on now – TheNext Big Thing

What is the working title of your book?

My book is called Psychic Witness.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It came from an idea that’s been rattling around in my brain for years, about a movie I’d love to see on the big screen.  But if you want it, I guess you have to write it yourself.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s hard to classify my story.  It’s not a horror.  And it’s not really urban fantasy as there are no paranormal creatures roaming my fictional world.  I’ve been calling it a supernatural suspense.  Is that even a genre?  Maybe I’ve created a new sub genre!

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

My wife and I discussed this as I was in the early stages of brainstorming the story.  The only actor we could really agree on was we’d love Tom Hanks to play the antagonist, Frank Sweeney.  So if you ever read this blog, Tom…

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Oh, that’s a toughie.  I haven’t really gotten this far yet.  Off the top of my head, “When Toby Manning has a brush with death, he witnesses something that sets him on a collision course with a serial killer.”  Still doesn’t really sum up the essence of my story, but it’s a start.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m going to try my hardest to go the traditional route.  I’d love to see my book on the shelves of my local Barnes and Noble one day.  If it doesn’t work out, I’ll consider my options.  I just want to see my book out there.  After I’ve made it as good as I possibly can, of course.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Honestly, about two years.  That’s because I wasn’t disciplined enough to sit and write every day.  Sometimes I’d go weeks without writing anything, especially if I was stuck on a scene.  It’s something I’m working on.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

It’s hard to say.  I’m not aware of many books that deal with the subject of out-of-body experiences.  One that comes to mind is Nobody True, by James Herbert.  I’m not ready to compare myself to him, though!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I have to give huge credit to my wife.  For years this story was just an idea for a movie I’d like to see.  She’s the one who prompted me to write the book and she’s been my source of inspiration, as well as my cheerleader, ever since.  Without her, this story might well have never been written!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I try to keep the out-of-body scenes as true to the myth of astral projection as I can.  I also inject some humor in the story.  I’ve always liked a story that can make me laugh, even in the suspense genre.

Here’s a link to a friend’s blog who is also taking part in the Next Big Thing series. She’s a talented writer.

http://allthethingsaroundme.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/blog-hop/