As I mentioned in posts previous, I am currently at work on a new story. A tale of a young girl, seventeen or thereabouts, who falls into a state of comatose and shortly thereafter finds herself in between worlds. Interim, I've chosen to call it. At least, for now. And I guess there is as good a place to start as any.
What exactly is... interim? By definition, interim means a temporary pause in a line of succession or event. It is often used as an appositive noun, thereby serving as an adjective meaning "in between," "transitional," or "temporary." It suggests a time intervening. An... in the meantime. Or, an interval between events.
And that, dear reader, is precisely the pickle in which our heroine, Samantha Chase, finds herself. One moment she's looking down at her friends, all of whom gaze up at her from the cool river water, urging her to jump, and the next she's... here. In this strange place. And in possession of an equally strange ability. Foresight, or so it certainly seems. But how did she get here? And why?
So, for a little bit of fun on this fine Thursday morning (tomorrow's Good Friday and no work... hooray!), I'd like to share with you an excerpt from Chapter 1 of my current WIP. Mayhap, if we cross our fingers real, real tight, it'll end up on the YA bookshelf in your local bookstore sometime in the (preferably) not-too-distant-future. Cheers! And pre-thank you for reading. :)
No one knows when they’re going to die.
Not for certain.
Oh, we’ve all listened to the drivel of proclaimed prophets, of gypsies and mediums, psychics, palm-readers, and infomercial preachers. But none of those flamboyant fools can really predict the future. Or dredge up the past. They can’t, with the snap of a finger, the scanning of a few tarot cards, or the pass of a hand over a crystal ball, predict when a person will take their last breath. See their last sky. Weep their last tear.
Because they’ve never been there. Never experienced the terrifying strangulation, the mortal pain, the sheer panic of death’s unyielding stronghold.
But I have.
I have, and let me tell you… It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. And, please, spare me the dumbfounded expression. Every last person in mankind knows exactly what I’m talking about. Because we’ve all been led to believe death is just a natural part of life. The End is the Beginning is the End, to quote Smashing Pumpkins, though I’m not so sure even Billy Corgan understands the true meaning of afterlife proceeding death. Or vice-versa.
And, yes. There is a vice-versa.
But I’ll get to that later.
Passing from one realm to the next should be easy, right? We do the best we can on earth, drift into death while sleeping – or, in my case, while attempting to prove I really can free-jump off Plymouth Bridge with the popular kids – and then… bam! There we are enjoying the good life, floating down a chocolate river and sipping on a blue raspberry ICEE, while admiring our new home in the clouds. Sounds a bit like Willa Wonka decorated Heaven, I know, but that’s how I’ve always pictured it.
Before you ask, no. I’m not dead.
At least, I don’t think I am.
One, there’s no chocolate river in this… place. Two, I’m parched, but I see no Seven-Eleven for my blessed ICEE, only blocks upon blocks of dilapidated buildings with busted windows and big red X’s on the front doors – that is, the ones that actually have doors. Three, soot and ash, not big fluffy clouds, and some substance which looks too close to blood to be anything but, scatters the blacktopped streets.
I can almost hear Dorothy whispering, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto.”
I remember very little of the accident. Flashes, really. Nervousness roiled low and persistent in my belly, heart hammered wildly in my ears, much as it is here, now. I could barely make out the sound of my friends, half-submerged and cheering me on from the water below. Christian Harlowe resting his lean tanned arms on a black inner tube, golden head craned backward. Squinting those deep blue eyes up at me.
Gosh, how I love those eyes.
Unfortunately he chose that moment to turn them on Larissa Slade, the dark-haired goddess of our little group. She’s beautiful, fun, fearless, and she’s known Christian since kindergarten.
I only just met him last year, when Dad’s job moved us to Cherokee County, Iowa, and I matriculated into Aurora High.
Tough break for a girl on the tails of her junior year. But one smile from Christian Harlowe, captain of the football team, track star, and, I soon learned, the most popular boy in school, made everything – the awkwardness of my parent’s divorce, uprooting from our posh London condo to a 1960’s subdivision in America’s farmland, God help me – all worthwhile.
Yeah, I can do this, I thought. Foolishly, of course, now I look back.
Deep breath. More nervousness. The tiny hairs on my neck, just beneath my long blond ponytail, stood on end.
“Come on, Chase, jump! The water’s warm!”
That’s me. Samantha Chase. Sam, to most people. And those particular words of encouragement coming from Del Ringgold, my best friend, who always calls me Chase just to be different and ornery, meant the aforementioned water was probably freezing.
Nevertheless, I inhaled deep through my nostrils, shook my hair from where it had lodged in the back of my Speedo one-piece, and jumped. Mere milliseconds passed, but I remember the rush of the wind, the whistle of it in my ears, the faint gurgling bark of a heron. I could’ve sworn it pleaded for me to, “Stop! Stop! Stop!”
But I couldn’t.
The impact came swift. Blinding to every sense. I remember trying to imagine what went wrong, how I’d managed to muss up a simple cannonball that badly.
I sank fast. Panicked. Tried to scream, and water filled my mouth, rushed straight into my lungs. Helpless, I fought for purchase, struggled and kicked to swim upward – up, up, up – but to no avail. Invisible chords reeled me lower. Lower still. My hands flailed, gripped nothing but liquid space.
To fight suddenly became inconceivable. Useless. Blackness overtook light. Surrounded me like a woolen blanket, fresh out of the dryer. I gave in, fell into nothingness.
Now I’m here. Wherever here is.
Smoke billows upward, pillar-like, in the distance. Beyond the tops of the mottled stone buildings, dark gray clouds hover in monstrous clumps, thick and completely opaque. The atmosphere resembles nothing short of a warzone. Chaotic, and yet… eerily quiet. One would almost think to hear machine guns and helicopter blades, not the phantasmal chill of dead silence.
I move forward, carefully, because my feet are bare. In fact, whoever saw fit to send me here apparently didn’t think to provide me with a new set of clothes. God? I wonder, and quickly push the notion aside. Certainly I’d be in diaphanous white robes or a Juicy tracksuit or something less… well, revealing than a swimsuit if I were in Heaven.
No. This is definitely not the work of angels. Fallen angels, maybe, though surely even they have higher standards than an atmosphere which, now I think about it, looks very much like a set from one of the Terminator films.
Chills slither all over my skin, and I rub my upper arms, inch forward. An odd silvery disc, no bigger than a quarter, rolls past, slowly. Grazes each of my OPI Holy Pink Pagoda! painted toes, as though controlled by some unseen force. My heartbeat quickens, sweat forms on my upper lip. Suddenly I am aware of much more than the spooky buildings, gothic skies, and the fact that I’m standing virtually naked on a trashed street.
How long have I been here? Yesterday’s pedicure still looks fresh (though it will doubtless be ruined should I stay much longer), but was it really yesterday? Did the accident just happen? If so, then it’s Saturday, and nothing bad happens on the weekend, right? Or maybe that’s just on Sundays. Heck, I don’t know.
I look again at my feet, the only color in this gloomy place besides my African violet one-piece. The disc, lingering beside my left pinky-toe, vanishes. Literally. Into thin air.
Of their own accord, my eyes seal shut.
And then it happens.
That's all for now. But I'll most definitely drag the lot of you through research and all sorts of paranormal goodness as I plunge deeper into the story. Hope you stay along for the joyride.
Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,