Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesday!

I've been a little down in the dumps about my writing this week, probably because Forget You by Jennifer Echols features both a main character named Zoey and this said character getting amnesia. A little to close for comfort for my tastes and people keep telling me to change my main character's name, but I'm so stuck with it that I can't, at this point. Maybe I'll just scrap the whole project, because both The Unlikelihood of Nostalgia and The Shape that Breaks officially suck.

So, this is a little excerpt from something I'm working on based on a short story I wrote. It's thoroughly depressing and totally fits the mood of this week's writing:

The radio signal cut out right about when the eye of the hurricane began to hover over us and for a moment, there was complete silence. The world outside was still. And then, in loud capital letters, the radio began to yell: “THERE HAS BEEN AN INFECTION IN RUSSO COUNTY. I REPEAT, THE INFECTED HAVE REACHED RUSSO COUNTY.”

We listened like there was nothing strange happening, even though my heart began hammering like the Infected were right outside our front door. Then my dad’s eyes opened wide and he pressed a finger to his lips as he twisted the volume dial on the radio. For a moment, I didn’t know why he looked so frightened, but then I heard it too: the high-pitched chuckle, like a hyena laugh, near the back porch.

In one hastened breath, my father, with his scratchy beard and huge brown eyes, said, “Go, the attic, Hollow, go.”

Irrationally, I grabbed the bag of marshmallows and ran up the stairs. I pulled the string and the ladder fell, creaking so loud I was sure that the something’s (they weren’t the Infected, no, no, no) outside would hear me, but that was when the huge crash, the shattering of glass, shook the house. I threw the bag of marshmallows up into the attic, and in one big breath, I was up the ladder and pulling it shut behind me, slow, slow, no creaks, please, please.

I don’t know what happened to my mom, but I heard what happened to my dad. Death gave him no dignity. I covered my ears and wished and hoped and prayed to a god my dad had told me didn’t exist. I breathed hard so that the noise covered his screams, but it didn’t, it didn’t, it didn’t.

The screaming seemed to go on forever and day and my heart was broken but the news prepared us for this. The television told me that they were too stupid to think about people hiding, but if they heard you, if they saw you, they would find you. They were stupid, yeah, but they knew that bullets killed people. They knew that if you pulled a trigger, it would spill the blood of the target. They didn’t get bullets and they didn’t get gunpowder, but they got guns. But they were too stupid to look for them.

I lay on my back, hands pressed over my ears, until there was almost silence. They were listening, heads cocked, distended teeth spilling over their lips, for more prey, for more blood to spill. The way the news had described them at first was halting, like they were afraid to offend, but as the Sickness spread, the descriptions became more sensational. My favorite one was, ‘half-vampire, half-zombie’ because it fit the pictures well.

They did not hear me. They did not wander up the stairs. I heard, briefly, the pantry door open and close, and then their hyena laughs, and slowly, painfully, they left the house, laughs fading, fading, fading in the distance.

How do you go downstairs? How do you know that blood will be everywhere, yet open the ladder anyway? How do you smell the blood – the tangy, metallic smell – and still go downstairs? How does your heart break and you do not die?

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