NaNoWriMo Day 1
It has begun. The NaNoWriMo is upon us. Don’t worry I won’t be constantly talking about it but since this is the first day and I got my word count goal finished (Though I did cheat a little by taking about 500 words directly from another story I had written) I thought it would be a good post to put up. I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee at home so I was thinking of doing a review about instant coffee here in Japan. If you have any recommendations let me know.
Anyway as a special treat here is the complete first scene from my novella. Only 26 more to go!
Nick shoved his front door open. It sticks in the humid summer heat. He put a little too much force into it so the door crashed against the opposite wall of his cramped entryway. It was late but the other residents of the tired, worn out guesthouse were prone to slamming doors at all hours, so Nick didn’t care about his noise.
Despite the trouble, he did try his best to slide the door shut with some degree of courtesy for the neighbors. It didn’t work too well but he knew the short bang could have been worse. Nick set his keys on a dusty ledge next to the sink and slipped off his shoes. The light in the kitchen was an old fashioned pull string switch, hanging from a frayed main wire. When Nick turned it on the kitchen was bathed in a depressing yellow glow. Nick paused by the sink to gaze at the stack of dirty dishes sitting there, stagnant water making a foul soup from his left-overs. He glanced at the files in his left hand, then back to the sink, then to the grocery bag in his right containing a bottle of cheap red wine and nothing else. There was no need for clean dishes if he didn’t plan to cook anything.
Nick went into the main room and sat down on his uncomfortable couch and turned on his 32’ plasma TV. Nick was a man of simple pleasures and a strong tolerance for filth. It came with the job. His penchant for electronic gadgets, however, is where most of his disposable income went. He flipped through the channels and settled on a shampoo commercial. The file still in his hands was choaked with papers, wrapped with a thick, red rubber band. Nick dropped it on the table. He pulled the bottle of wine out and tossed the bag aside. With a practiced twist of his wrist he cracked the screw top. He didn’t waste his time or money on wine fancy enough to have corks.
Nick leaned back on the couch, resting his legs on the short, IKEA brand, wood-like coffee table. He had the file on his lap and his cup of cheap wine in his hand. The rubber band took some deft movements to remove it without spilling his drink, but eventually he got it open. On top was a stack of typed reports. Dry, boring affairs that Nick had read at the office. Some parts were redacted, however, as his source within the department wasn’t exactly at the top of the ladder. Still, he always came through when Nick asked for a favor as best he could. Nick set the reports aside carefully, he needed to return the file before work in the morning, then picked up the first of the crime scene photos.
It was a close up shot of her face. The patch of fur under her throat was once white but had turned a deep yellow. Not the kind of yellow that they use in commercials for lemon scented cleanser. No, that was a happy kind of yellow. Fresh and vibrant. The yellow on the fox’s neck was dull and dirty. The color of phlegm during a strong cold. Nick remembered a time in high school chemistry class when he spilled some iodine solution on the floor. Those tiles were stained instantly. He was just happy that none got on his shoes. As far as he knew, the stain was still there. This shade of yellow staring back at him from the photo brought all these memories back from deep corners of his brain.
The next photo in the stack was a picture as he remembered her. A modest pose, perhaps part of a modeling portfolio. She’d mentioned that sort of thing a few times while she was walking on his back, working the stress from his shoulders with her delicate feet. The picture was likely the one the police would take around the neighborhood. Potential witnesses don’t react well to gruesome photos of corpses. He knew this first hand but sometimes those kind of shots were all he could get his hands on. Nick set the good picture aside. Massage girls that turn up dead don’t often get the full attention of the Metropolitan Police. That goes double for foxes. Nick was sure this one wouldn’t be missed.
The rest of the pictures were shots from every angle of her, the alley she was found in, and the recycle bin she had been stuffed into. No visible wounds or damage except those suffered from the gymnastics required to fit into such a small container. Coroners report suggested that she moved into her new digs post-mortem. Took the boys an hour to get her out she was crammed in there so tight. Every inch of her was stained the same horrible yellow color.
Nick closed the file then finished his glass of wine. When he reached for the bottle he was a little surprised to find it already empty. He glanced at the clock in the bottom corner of his TV. It was late, so the grocery was closed, but there was another convenience store a minute walk from his place. He stood on unstable feet, struggled into some pants, grabbed his keys, then headed out to buy some beer.
Nick arrived into that haze between sleep and waking. His sheets were twisted around his body in a corkscrew, the covers long since kicked to the floor. The air conditioner coughed on the wall above. It had given up on it’s duties to make the room comfortable and had instead chosen a path of dripping foul smelling water onto the floor. To describe the air it belched forth as mustier than a desiccated corpse would be doing it a service. The many layers of padding scrounged from friends that made up his bed had shifted during the night and had arranged themselves into a mosaic of lumpy uncomfortableness. That spidery, itching feeling Nick had on his arm could have been cockroaches wandering past or just the imagination. At this point Nick was unsure which and had long since crashed through the wall of not giving a shit.
He tried to sit up and reach for his water glass that he kept on a nearby table. However, this was impeded by a heavy weight sitting on his chest. Heavier than a cat and lighter than a box made of iron it sat there in the dark, restricting Nick to his unwashed prison of sheets.
He rubbed the gunk from his eyes and tried to figure out what the hell was sitting on him so casually. Dirty gray sunlight was starting to filter through the nicotine stained drapes but it was hardly enough light to clarify any detail no matter how obvious.
I killed your friend.
The amorphous darkness on his stomach had spoken. Though not quite speak as much as echo inside Nick’s skull. He attempted to engage it in conversation.
The shape came closer and against all laws of physics as Nick understood them, he saw the pale morning sunlight flash off of five slender steel claws. Thin as a pencil lead they were. The beast, as he now considered it, dragged these filaments across his cheek.
The friend you always kept with you.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Nick said.
The beast withdrew his thin claws from my face but Nick could hear them in the dark. A smell of honeyed wine drifted through his nostrils. Other scents lingered there. Freshly poured beer over cut grass. The smell of a concrete sidewalk after he’d sprayed it with a hose. Smells of summer back home. What torture was this?
You abandoned her.
“This is so not what I need right now,” Nick said, “I’ve got work in the morning.”
The creature rushed him. All Nick could see was a darkness that deepened but the smell hit him with the power of a subway train. It took a brief moment to place it but he knew the stench all too well. It was the smell of a third dry heave, head stuffed firmly into a porcelain bowl. Praying to anything that will listen to please release him from this horrific pain. Then it came, the muscle pain and acidic bile rushed up his whole body.
That is what this creature smelled of now. What it made him experience again in vivid detail. He tried to look at it’s face but saw only a swirling black. It grabbed Nick with those thin metal claws and twisted his head around, as if it was searching for something. The thing leaned down and Nick heard it sniff him. Rapid and broken like a dog searching for a treat hidden inside his skin.
She wasn’t the first. She won’t be the last. I have your scent now. Sleep well.
Nick’s eye snapped open and he shifted around in his bed, trying to regain his sense of place. He was covered in sweat despite only having a thin sheet over his body. He stared hard at the shapes in the room, frightful things that he knew by instinct were nothing dangerous. He just had to let his eyes adjust. After a dream like that it was difficult. The sinister figure with bat-like wings eventually coalesced in to his laundry, hanging up to dry. The evil clown face on the ceiling turned back into his overhead lamp. After much internal coaxing, Nick’s brain woke up enough for the world to return to normal. Nick swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat up. He massaged his eyes in the still dark room. He checked the time on his nearby phone. Still several hours until sunrise. Nick knew he wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep though.
He went into the kitchen to set a kettle boiling for coffee. While he waited for the whistle he searched underneath the sink for his emergency bottle of whiskey. It was set all the way in the back, past the pipes, to discourage unnecessary use. In Nick’s opinion, nightmares on the level of the one he just had qualified as a whiskey emergency. The kettle went off, spewing hot steam into the air. Nick turned off the burner then poured his cup. The coffee was instant but the decent kind that included the milk and sugar in the powder. Three steps, boil water, open package into cup, introduce coffee powder to water. He usually didn’t have to stir it either. Three steps was about the most that Nick was interested in when it came to food or drink.
He tried to take a sip but soon regretted it. Still too hot, the coffee burned his tongue. Nick went to check the front door while he waited for his coffee to cool. What he saw almost made him drop the cup. Only the strong repulsion to cleaning lodged deep in his lizard brain kept his fingers around the handle.
On the inside of the door, five razor thin, equally spaced lines were carved into the poor quality wood.