Writing Update #7

Howdy Folks,

I hope this blog post finds you on a fine Sunday morning/afternoon/evening (depending on where you might be on this here planet, maybe even Monday morning).

It feels as if I have been neglecting my blog after the non-stop posts in February during NewNoWriMo (remember that?). But really, posting once a month is far closer to my normal output than once a day.

Still, I figured I should post something. And since a writing update is always a good idea, here it is.

The last time I did this, back in October 2015, I hadn’t written very much. Since then, I did write like a fiend. I am currently on the fourth episode of an urban fantasy series I’m working on.

This story is about a woman and her problems with ghosts. Here’s the pitch:

The solar storm of the century has thinned the divide between the living and the dead. Most of the dead pass on to where ever it is souls go, but the murdered are clamoring for justice. The State of California has responded with an acronym: SPI – State Paranormal Investigations.

Lorena Tesseract is a spook, one of the few of the living able to see and talk to ghosts. While the rest of us only experience slammed doors and the trembling ground when a ghost goes berserk, spooks can actually do something about it.

Recruited by Oakland’s SPI office, Tesseract joins fellow spooks Sarita Reyes and Keith McLean cleaning up the streets of Oakland, one ghost at a time. But when things get personal, Tesseract is torn between fleeing her problems or doing the right thing.

I just made that up. It’s all true. That’s pretty much what the story is about, but I just wrote that. I think I can make it much better, but for now, that’s a good start. What do you think?

Written during NewNoWriMo, here’s a snippet near the beginning of the third episode. Keep in mind, this is very drafty first draft stuff. Most of it will change. For the better. I hope.

I toss the bag of my father’s clothes onto my ratty couch when I get to my apartment. It is still dark outside, and I know I should head on back to my father’s place to clean up and talk to Jules, but instead I take a quick shower, dress, and call Reyes. I ask about the missing homeless ghosts.

“We’ve got it covered, Lorena,” Reyes says, her voice soothing.

“You have to watch out for those two,” I say, not sure if I should tell her about what I saw Tyler try to do to her.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, they escaped, right?” I say. “How many ghosts do you know that have escaped a control room?”

During my spook test, I knew there was no way I was getting out of a control room. Just thinking of moving had made the magnetic-electrical field scorch my skin. The memory sends shivers up my spine.

“Is that all?” she says. “Don’t worry. We have a lead.”

“Oh?” I say, trying to keep my enthusiasm down.

“Don’t worry about it,” she says. “We’ll take care of it. You take care of your family.”

I want to say that with Diego gone, I don’t have much of a family. Father hates me and Jules is pretty much the same. Both keep blaming me for something I had, and have, no control over.

My eyes fall on the bag of clothes and my father’s personal belongings. I guess I should get them to Jules.

“I’ll be in later this morning,” I say. “I just have to drop something off.”

Then I hang up before she can tell me not to come.

My bike ended up in the back of Reyes’ car, so I jog back to my father’s place.

It feels good to run. I haven’t had a drink since…when? A day and a half? A smile creeps onto my face and the muscles in my shoulders relax. I lengthen my stride and wonder if maybe it’ll be alright now.

Diego, rest his soul – we know those are real now, though we still have no idea where they go – is dead, but no matter what we thought of the officer who shot him, that’s what Diego wanted. He wanted to be with Jonas. If Diego was at peace, maybe I could find that too. I would rather I do it while still alive, though.

A dense fog has crept in from the bay, smothering the city. When I cross under Highway 980, the condensation drips off the concrete bypass, as if it’s raining.

A hear a shout in the distance. I duck at the sound of a crack. But the gunshot is muffled, as if far away. I resume my jog, glancing over my shoulder, my heart pounding in my throat.

“Fuck,” I say to myself. “What’s scarier? Demon’s or gangsters?”

I laugh out loud at my own joke, but my hands start shaking. The image of Diego splashing into my father’s pool threatens to fill my head, but I mentally shove it aside, concentrating on my breathing and the sounds of a city in uneasy slumber.

The rest of the way is uneventful. When I get to the house, the lights are on upstairs, in Diego’s room – it was his room – but otherwise, the street is dark.

When I go up the porch steps, a neighbor’s car starts up; an early morning commuter. I lift my hand to knock on the door and then hesitate. Maybe I should have called first. Jules probably thought I was making a bad joke.

“You didn’t have to come,” Jules says from my side.

If I could have jumped out of my skin, I would have.

He’s sitting in a chair in the shadow of a tall azalea. I hadn’t even looked. What makes me think I could be a detective? Let alone a spook detective?

“I’m sorry,” he adds. “Didn’t mean to scare you.”

“You didn’t,” I lie. “Just wasn’t expecting you outside. It’s fucking freezing out here.”

“Is it?” he asks, and stands up.

Jules is the spitting image of my father: face all angles, tall and dark, with a full crop of blue-black hair. Diego and I took after my mother; lighter brown skin and hair.

I wipe a bit of sweat from under my nose.

“I ran,” I say.

“Worked up a sweat,” he says.

“I needed to,” I say.

I notice how quiet Jules’ movements are. There’s a peace in him I’ve never seen before. Usually, I’m the last person he wants to see and does a mighty good job of ignoring me. Last week when I came to wish dad a happy birthday, Jules told me to leave. But here he is now, talking to me like I’m a normal person.

Looking back to the closed door, I say, “You knew.”

“About Jonas and Diego?” Jules says. “Yeah, I knew what they were. It’s about time they got what they deserved.”

“Are fucking kidding me?” I say. “You do know they have rights now, don’t you? He was your fucking brother.”

Jules doesn’t miss a beat.

“Yes, he was my fucking brother. And he and Jonas got what they deserved.”

My body moves faster than I thought it could, faster than Jules can react and I collide into him, fists pumping into his midsection.

I’ve wrestled enough times with Jules to know he’s way stronger than me. If I don’t get in quick, I don’t get in at all and he’ll knock me out before I can get out of his way.

“You fucker, how can you say that?” I say before jumping away.

Jules tries to bear hug me, but I slip out of his reach. I take two steps backwards down the porch steps, keeping my eye on him.

He has one arm cradling his torso and the other outstretched towards me.

“Fucking spook,” he says. “Get the hell out of here.”

An automatic retort to deny I’m a spook dances on my lips. But we all know it’s true now.

“Fuck you,” I say.

I kick over the bag of father’s clothes. It had fallen from my grasp when I jumped Jules.

“What’s this?” he asks, but he doesn’t move.

His eyes are on me, but they’re still calm. I may have hit him, but I didn’t touch him. His only sibling and he really couldn’t care less about me. And he obviously thought so little of Diego that he thought Diego’s death was better than…what? Living?

I’m sure the only thing Diego ever wanted to do was live. Live and love freely. And I had never even suspected. Hell, I lusted after Jonas every time he came over to clean the pool.

“Dad’s stuff,” I answer. “You better go talk to him. I’m not sure if he called a lawyer or not.”

Jules’ face goes hard and he squints at me. “What do you mean?”

The light is changing. There are more people out on the street, folks with an early class or work schedule, making their way to the bus stops.

I straightened out my jacket and the ferric scent of Diego’s blood fills my nostrils. It brings bile to the back of my throat.

“He confessed,” I say. “To killing Jonas.”

Jules eyes go wide, his lips press into a thin line, and I back up the rest of the way to the front yard.

But he doesn’t come for me; instead he goes into the house. I can hear him pound up stairs, then back down. His steps get muffled until I can’t hear them anymore. The back door of the house slams, then soon after my father’s ’67 Chevy roars to life.

Jules is at the wheel as he backs it out of the side garage and into the busying street. He takes off without giving me a backward glance.

That’s it for now. Until next time, join me on myWriteClub every weekday at noon.

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