We had a Christmas Spring (see below) that stayed just long enough to hit us with a down pour then sent the temperatures into the thirties where they should be. There’s peace with Iran and Cuba. Trump trumped the Republican presidential race. The police killed 1,199 people last year, that we know about. No other country inflicts those kinds of casualties in routine policing. But all of this is beside the point of this blog.
For myself and my writing, things have really changed as well. I now know that I make many more rewrites than most writers. I have to cut them down if I’m going to have any chance of getting any stories done, much less get them published. I use the versions feature on OpenOffice, and I counted over twenty versions per eight page installment. The novel, The Feral Bond, is coming along very well.
Last night my writers’ group had a New Years’ Eve party. We were told to bring poetry. I thought they meant our own poetry, not anyone’s. So, I did something I hadn’t done in two years: I wrote three poems. I was amazed when people said they loved them. So, I’m going to–somehow–make it a habit.
I won’t live where my Dad dwells,
eyes that never see enough,
feet that shuffle an inching-stride,
racing snails and losing.
The grinding knee,
the sore hip.
The pause of lost words
of fading nouns
Never for me I pray
I will pull the trigger,
but everybody says that,
don’t they? And never do it.
I awaken you,
as you once did me;
you for breakfast,
I for school.
Sleep in if you want,
but take your morning pills,
or suffer your body’s wrath.
I let you dress yourself
with small help.
“First pants then shoes,” I advise.
You still shower by yourself.
Though this will pass.
Entropy and biology have agreed
on the schedule of your demolition.
Your doctors shrug
call it the “aging process,”
then look for something interesting
like everybody does.
Look for somebody young
because children mean hope.
And what’s the point in life
without that? Without what—
longevity can’t provide.
Numbers that can’t count
you fix against time
one through nine
but in anagrams.
Watch the clock.
assigned a different task
A One can’t do a Nine’s job
says coach Zero.
Eyes follow, Left, Right,
Up, Down, all Diagonal passes
Forbidden and foul.
Strange, the numbers dance and tease,
like actors, entertainers, athletes,
When my checkbook still doesn’t balance.
Santa arrives by handglider.
Ho, ho, ho, yourself.
Reindeer dead from heat exhaustion
Elves drowned as their igloos melt and sink.
Christmas trees black and charred.
A forest fire’s decoration.
A winter unready for snow.
A spring-winter, or maybe a fall-winter
We see rain and rain.
Extra rivers of hot snow
Knocking at our doors,
Coming down our chimneys.
And while we enjoy our drinks
Wadding in four feet of water,
Remind me again why we trusted
I just got done editing the novel for the day. I’m tired. I didn’t get nearly as much done as I feel I needed to. I’m learning a lot about my own writing from going through and making many notes, on how every action, every description, every character thought performs a different function. There are some that are just color, that are made to put the reader in world. There are some that are set pieces, this is either color that’s reiterated and built upon over scenes, or actual foreshadowing of plot points.
I knew that my writing was visually driven, that I’d think of the characters automatically, and then would get a vision about them. I’m finding out in editing some of the shortcomings of that approach. For one thing, sometimes the visions are very stirring, but don’t quite fit. Sometimes they’ll change the trajectory of the plot, or will over-complicate characters.
It’s a good thing that I started to edit, and had an approach different from just rewriting, because it was clear that I could rewrite forever. I don’t believe I’ve been working on this for five years and six months. It’s kept me mentally healthy, literally it has. It would be nice if I could sell it, whether it started as fan fiction or not.
I’ve rambled enough. My mind isn’t up to anymore writing now. Dreaming: I’m all for it. Make a reservation.
Here’s another excerpt. In this scene, Brigitte is very close to her final change. Like Unleashed, she’s been imprisoned in a mental health facility. The psychiatric hospital she’s trapped has been isolated by a blizzard. She has the run of the whole facility here.
Meanwhile, the spirits that have been haunting the place are in their own frenzy. Like the werewolves, I’ve played with the concept of ghosts. Even the friendly ones are a little twisted. They’re perverse, gratified by death, and therefore, very fond of werewolves like Brigitte, who create a lot of it. The spirits also have certain unusual powers, usually benign. Unless they’re the supercharged ghosts haunting this particular hospital.
Picture an unknown Stephen King pitching this idea for a novel: A bullied girl who, for very shaky reasons, develops telekinesis. King’s would-be agent would have said something like, “A mother who’s a religious nut? That’s promising. Is the devil involved? Devil stories are hot right now.”
“No, I thought I’d make it genetic.”
“Make it what?”
After a long pause, the agent says, “Could you make it genetic and have the devil involved?”
“It has nothing to do with the devil. It’s something she inherited from her mother’s side of the family.”
“Inherited from her mother, like money?”
“No like blue or brown eyes.”
“So, her mother’s telekinetic, too?”
“She just carried the gene.”
“Is that like carrying the devil in her womb?”
“No, the devil’s not involved. He isn’t in the story anywhere.”
“If the devil’s not doing it, how does she make things move.”
“She just, sort of, flexes.”
“Flexes what, the devil’s cock? I don’t handle pornography.”
“Not the devil. She just flexes something her mind.”
“So, she flexes something and then what happens?”
“Then things move. Without her touching them.”
“I don’t understand. Doesn’t that violate one of those theories movie scientists always talk about? How can things move by themselves without the devil doing it”
“Just stay with me, okay? Other girls tease and taunt Carrie all through school. Until one day they do something just totally cruel. They cross the line. I mean just a high school atrocity. It’s so bad, one of the mean girls Sue feels sorry about it and lets Carrie take her boyfriend to the prom.”
“No, please, stay with me. Another mean girl, Chris, doesn’t like that. She sets up a prank to make Carrie prom queen then spill pig’s blood all over her.”
“Where did they get pig’s blood?”
“From a pig.”
“That’s the first thing you’ve said that’s made any sense. Now I think you have something.”
Stephen sighs in relief.”Good.”
“All that pig’s blood all over that virgin girl brings the devil up from Hell to possess her . . .
“NO! There’s. No. Devil. In. This! It’s Carrie herself who gets furious. She uses her powers of telekinesis to get revenge on all her classmates . . .”
“. . . and they call an exorcist to cast out the demon, and she lives happily ever after?”
“No! She goes berserk and destroys the whole town.”
“Without an exorcist? How can this thing end without one?”
“Then she dies.”
“Huh? Wouldn’t that be kind of a downer?”
“Y-es, but you see, it’s a tragedy.”
“A tragedy? What do you think I am? An English Lit teacher? I don’t know those technical terms. Look Stephen. This isn’t completely hopeless. I thought you said her mother was a religious fanatic. Couldn’t she perform an exorcism? A female exorcist would be something new. Can her Mom have huge t*ts?”
“No, but I’ll compromise that. The gym teacher can, okay?”
“Great! She can assist in the exorcism, then. Maybe she can even sacrifice herself to cast the devil out of Carrie.”
Stephen King sighs. Bangs his head on the desk.
“One thing. You said they did something horrible to Carrie to start all this. What did you have in mind?”
“It thought maybe she’d get her first period in the school shower, and the other girls would throw, like, sanitary napkins at her.”
The agent stands up, his face red with rage. “Period? Sanitary napkins? Are you some kind of subversive transsexual?” He points to the door. “Get out of my office you vag-f*g.”
Author’s Note:I guess it’s just fitting that this would be my first post here. I did put it on my former blog, The Ivory Bunker, but blogger had a hard time transferring text from an OpenOffice document. It seemed befuddled by it by it. I had to go through and fix all the indentations and then the text glitches that kept creeping in, causing the font change colors.
So, I wanted to put it in a better, more readable format. Plus I made a few more changes at the suggestion of my writers’ group. This is final version of the chapter.
To explain, this is a fan fiction novel, but even people who haven’t seen the Canadian horror movie Ginger Snaps will be able to follow this, and will probably enjoy it. It’s an excerpt to show people the quality of it.
Here it Ginger Snaps: The Feral Bond, chapter 1.
CHAPTER 1: THE SPIRIT
I must be in a hospital bed in a coma. Please let me wake up now! Please!
For a second night in a row, an alley in the snowy Canadian town of Dauphin was haunted. If somebody saw this spirit—and only a rare person could—they’d see a teenage girl with shoulder-length red hair wearing only a long, blue t-shirt, her pajamas in life. She had no part in choosing her clothes. They didn’t matter because nobody but her sister Brigitte ever saw her. Below-freezing wind whipped through Ginger with no effect. She sat with her bare knees bent in front of her chest. Her eyes prismatic with tears, she stared at the snow mound beside her, keeping an anguished vigil over her dying sister buried beneath.
Fifteen-year old Ginger questioned whether she was dead because she didn’t remember dying and her memory of her last living month was surreal and terrifying. This was more like a string of hundreds of worsening nightmares. A freezing oblivion separated each haunt episode.
Her home, her parents, her school were all gone. Brigitte lay unconscious beneath the snowdrift—frozen, poisoned and dying—the worst nightmare yet.
I’m supposed to protect her. I’ve failed.
Death would not unite her with Brigitte. Ginger somehow knew this. She dreaded her fate if Brigitte died. Damnation, unending loneliness and eternal madness were likely.
Ginger could hear her sister’s heart, its beat grew faint and irregular. The phantom reached her hand through the drift and touched Brigitte, whose heartbeat then strengthened and steadied. A burning spread throughout Ginger’s spectral body, followed by extreme numbness. The ghost’s vision went brown. She cradled her shoulders and curled up, trying to keep her grip on this haunt. Then she bottomed out. So had Brigitte.
“There you go, B.”
Ginger’s boost bought her sister some time, but it increased the spirit’s torpor, informing her that the end of tonight’s haunt and another chilly immersion came nearer. If she went away there was no telling when she’d return, it could be few hours or a week, but Brigitte would be dead first. For a long time, Ginger went stock still, the sound of her sister’s heartbeat the only thing she heard.
A rattled growl roused Ginger to her feet. She peered down the alley. A werewolf almost the size of a bear was coming. It carried a dead collie in its jaws. Ginger ducked back.
Maybe he won’t find her?
A false hope. He came around the dumpster and gazed through Ginger at the mound. He released his prey and sniffed. His eyes were blue with no whites, his fur gray and black. He looked like a wolf, but not any existent species. His pupils reflected light back gold. She knew from over-the-shoulder reading of Brigitte’s journal who this was. In fact, if Ginger recalled her final living month correctly, she made him what he was now.
“Jason McCarty,” she hissed. She crouched. Her voice hissed, “Stay away!”
The werewolf either ignored or couldn’t see her. The ghost held still while the beast dismembered its prey, then lifted its head and stepped forward.
Ginger struck at his head. She acted on new instincts and had no idea what she could do. Her hand passed into his skull and held there. Waves of jarring heat and cold passed through her. Her vision browned out around the edges again and her ears rang until she recoiled. Embracing her shoulders, she again barely kept herself from sinking into chilling unconsciousness. She was relieved to hold on, but she was so much weaker. Jason seemed unfazed.
Shit! That hurt me more than it did him!
Nevertheless, she had done something. The werewolf shook its head blinked and sniffed at her. It growled and spoke, sounding both like a beast snarling and Jason speaking. “Ginger! What a surprise. After all this time, we meet again. I see you’ve changed.”
“I’ve changed less than you have, and at least I’m not butt-ugly.”
“Well, at least I’m still on the warm side of life. It’s been two years, and I’m not at all the boy named Jason you knew, but to keep it simple I’ll answer to his name. What makes you prowl alleys now? Looking for tricks to turn? Practical, but think you’re just a little late for that.”
“Ha-ha!” She couldn’t believe she caught his inflection. “Sure you’re not Jason? Because you still seem like the same asshole to me. I’m protecting my sister from you. Is this the first time you’ve seen me? I was there when she ran away from you this time.”
He sat down on his haunches and lifted his paw as though taking an oath. Ginger couldn’t help gawking. It was bigger than a dinner plate. “I swear, I haven’t seen you since the night you fucked me. You were very rough. Unfortunately, old Jason couldn’t appreciate it the way I do. Brigitte loves it rough too, and I’m here to see that’s just the way she gets it.”
“You fucking liar. She hates your guts and doesn’t want you within a continent of her. I’ve watched you chase her from place to place.”
The beast slammed its claws into the snow. “I’m talking about long before that, Ginger. Now, I’m just waiting for the inevitable. She’s fought her changes for two years and has made this so stupidly hard, but she’ll give in soon. I know the monkshood she’s shooting isn’t working too well anymore. Very soon, her sense of smell will tell her I’m her proper mate.”
“How do you know she’s been shooting monkshood to stop the transformation?”
“So, you did miss a few episodes between the old Jason and Brigitte? There was a time when they were friendly. When she tried to help Jason avoid the inevitable.”
“You and B? Never!”
“It’s true! The first months after you died. Tonight, I brought a kill as a peace offering. I’ve come to awaken her. Share a meal. She’s going to be starving.”
“Peace offering, or piece offering?” She sneered. “You want to hump her after she changes.”
He laughed. It sounded like an old man hocking his throat. “I know she’s hibernating beneath the snow to hide from me.”
Ginger did a double take. “Hibernating? You fucking idiot! She’s dying. She took an overdose of monkshood and she’s in coma.”
The werewolf drew back. It blinked several times causing the gold of its irises to wink. “What?”
“I was there watching. As you said, monkshood isn’t working too well. She made test cuts on herself every day. She healed in a few hours, so she panicked and doubled her dose. That’s when you showed up. She ran away from you in the storm and passed out here.”
“You’re just fucking with me!” The beast shook his head and sniffed. “Yes, she wreaks of monkshood, but she always smells that way.”
“Can’t you hear her heartbeat and how it stumbles? That isn’t hibernation.” Ginger swallowed a sob. “She’s not going to last much longer.”
He stood still. His ears and whiskers twitched. “Shit! I never knew she was so dumb! Why are you just standing there?”
Ginger chuckled in surprise. It never occurred to her Jason might help. “I can’t move a grain of snow. I can’t leave her presence. Nobody can see me. And right now, I’m weak and barely staying . . . present.”
Jason released a snarl that didn’t yield any words. He moved to the snowdrift and began to dig. “So, I’ll uncover her. But I won’t stick around. Human’s discovering me is the last thing I need, so I’m blowing town before dawn.”
Ginger nodded. She understood very well a werewolf’s compulsive secrecy. She had lived it.
“It’s up to you to get somebody’s attention, then they’ll get her to the hospital.”
He swept the snow away from Brigitte’s face. Her blue complexion shocked Ginger.
“What can I do?”
He gazed back at her sidelong. “You’ll figure something out.”
* * *
The afterlife was never longer to Ginger than the next hour as she tried to hold on, with Brigitte’s dying heart and scarce breathing loud in her ears.
She broke her stillness when lights went on in the building across the alley. For several anxious minutes, nothing else but noises emanated from the structure, muffled speech, and the sounds of cardboard being cut. A middle-aged man carrying boxes came out. The snow in the middle of the alley was cleared, but deep piles and drifts lay along the edges. Brigitte was exposed between two dumpsters but the area was shadowed, and he wasn’t looking that direction.
He halted with a jump at the sight of the dismembered dog. Jason had placed the main part of the carcass to draw attention toward Brigitte.
“No, Jeezus! A fine start to the day this is,” said the man.
“Come on,” Ginger said unheard. “Just look that way a little further.”
But his eyes stayed on the carcass, which he then stepped around on his way to the dumpster. Ginger put her hand into his head. Again, the surges of hot and cold hit as a maelstrom of words and visions buffeted her mind. It took her whole will to keep her hand in him. She shouted out into his mind as loud as she could, “GIRL. THERE.LOOK!”
She withdrew. Her vision browned out again. Pins and needles prickled in her arms and legs. Sinking was inevitable, but she held on a few moments longer. He dropped the boxes, took out his flashlight and walked toward the mound. To Ginger, the man’s attention seemed to shift at a glacial pace from Brigitte’s frozen hand up her arm to Brigitte’s glittering, icy, dark-brown hair and frostbitten face. Her purple lips were drawn in a harrowing smile, teeth gleaming white against the her blue features.
He gasped and yelped as his wife opened the door and called his name, making him clutch his chest.
“Rose!” he yelled. “Quick! Call the police! There’s a dead girl out here!”
No, not dead yet! Ginger thought as she sank away into unconsciousness. Everything went black, and cold like being immersed in ice water.
* * *
Ginger either awoke or started another nightmare. She found herself standing in the middle of a trauma center. Her sister on the bed in front of her—not dead. Ginger clasped her hands together, and relief made her levitate a foot off the floor, but she stopped short and sank back down.
This wasn’t as good as it first looked. Brigitte lay unconscious with an oxygen mask. She inhaled with choking gulps. The machine above her showed erratic vital signs; its alarms kept going off. A glance at a clock told Ginger it was now the afternoon. The trauma team rushed around, oblivious to the red-haired ghost who shunned any accidental contact with them. Ginger backed against the wall and peered at the scene. She didn’t know medical terms, but she could tell “sinus arrhythmia” and “bradycardia” were very bad.
After the battle to save Brigitte raged for a frenzied half-hour, during which they had to defibrilate her twice, a tech dashed in, mask down. “Toxicology says her blood sample was spoiled again.”
“What?” yelled the doctor. “That’s the third time!”
The tech shrugged. “Yes, but they did identify the stuff in her possessions.” He showed the doctor the tablet screen.
“Of the monkshood family,” said the tech.
“Yes!” Ginger shouted. “Finally!”
“Quite a tolerance, too. Each ampule contained enough to kill five adults.”
“Wait,” the doctor said, “The symptoms do fit aconitine poisoning.”
“Now you’re talking,” said the ghost.
He turned to a nurse. “Prepare atropine. Five milligram. Intracardiac.”
In a few minutes, Ginger winced as the biggest needle she ever saw was inserted deep into her sister’s chest. The nurse compressed the plunger. Ginger moaned. The sympathetic pain felt like a heart attack to the spirit.
As the nurse withdrew the syringe, the alarms stopped and the graphic traces became regular again. The spirit sighed; a similar relief went through the postures of the trauma staff.
Ginger walked up to the foot of Brigitte’s bed. “Oh, B., I think you’re gonna make it. You scared the shit out of me for days.”
The nurse turned and smiled at the doctor. As he began to say something, demented, hateful eyes flared open behind her. Brigitte jumped on the nurse who saved her life seconds before. She chomped and snapped at the nurse. The woman fell screaming in Brigitte’s hard grip. The girl snarled like an enraged wild beast. The noise made the whole team quail. For a moment, they looked to Ginger like they were all ready to flee.
But none of Brigitte’s bites met flesh. The oxygen mask muzzled Brigitte, who was too delirious to know. The whole team recovered and jumped on her. Despite just being on death’s door, she exhibited the uncanny strength to shrug them off. The alarms rang out, vital lines to the machines severed. “Restraints! Get her in restraints!” cried the tech who was trying to break Brigitte’s indomitable hold on the nurse.
“Too late, she’s not in the bed,” said one who attempted to use pressure points on Brigitte. Two others attempted to sit on her, but the nurse was still underneath. One other was pulling Brigitte’s hair. “Shot! We need a shot!” one of them cried.
Standing invisible and engrossed at the foot of the bed, Ginger never saw the staffer who ran through her like thin air. Ginger went blind, her spectral body aflame. She lost her grip and blacked out into the cold. The nightmare episode ended; the freezing interval began.
* * *
Ginger awoke in yet a different hospital room, standing in front of a sunny window. The rays went right through her to make a spot on the wall. Brigitte was there, unconscious, but there were no more monitors. An IV was the only visible device attached to her.
Ginger walked up to her sister. “B?”
She then jumped at the sound of a page turning. A nurse sat against the wall in a chair, reading a novel. Ginger approached and read the name tag. She shouted in the nurse’s ear. “Hi, Cassie!” Oblivious, Cassie turned the page again.
Oh, a fast reader.
Ginger was eaten by envy. It seemed so long since she read a book. She waved her hand in front the woman’s face, hoping to at least slow her. The nurse’s eyes didn’t break their pace.
Brigitte moaned. In a blink, Ginger was by her side.
“Yes! Yes!” Ginger levitated a foot off the floor in excitement. She dropped down back in slow motion.
“Brigitte! Brigitte!” she called. Brigitte moved, sniffed and frowned. “Come on. Wake up, sleepy head!”
Brigitte sniffed more, stretched her fingers, then at last opened her eyes and gazed at Ginger.