Blog Chain: Where Am I?
Yikes! I've been away from posting here for some time. So you know when you see a new one here, it must be part of the blog chain series. This round's question comes from the wonderful Cole who asks:
Are you querying? Gearing up to go on submission? Writing? Revising? I'd love to hear what's new with you. And if you'd like to share a snippet of your WIP, even better!
Um, well, really I haven't done much in the querying or submission department. Much of life's happenstance has gotten my mind completely from the blogging community. From where I've left off, I have two finished fiction manuscripts ready for revision/crit/querying. Other than that, I've been busy with other things.
Yeah, I know this wasn't much of a blog post. I'll make it up to you with a snippet from my suspense manuscript, The Stone Man. It's possible I posted this snippet before, but I'm too busy to check. Hope you enjoy it.
When the car reached the gravel road, Graham pushed his foot down on the gas. His fingers gripped the steering wheel, mentally urging the car faster. Instead, the wheels turned slower. Pings and clanks sounded under the hood. All the warning signals in the instrument panel lit up, flashing many red angry eyes at him. He didn’t know whether the bumpy ground had done something to the car or the salesman had kept something hidden from him. Either way, the car slowed. Wisps of steam escaped from along the edges of the hood.
Graham kept it going while knowing those wheels still moved faster than his walking feet. Then a wall of steam poured through the hood, fogging up the windshield and blocking the sight of the road. A busted radiator. He knew it immediately. His hands steered the car off the road as it coasted to a stop. Then Graham pounded his fists against the steering wheel to release the pent-up anger before stepping out.
He hiked along the road. By the time Graham reached the junkyard, his nose sniffed at the breeze. Fresh shit. Cotter had a holding tank for the barn runoff from his dairy cows. The farmer would store it until the spring when a big truck with a pump would syphon out the mess in the hole. Then the farmer would fertilize his fields before he planted his corn.
Graham looked forward to the smell although he never planned on breaking his promise to the farmer about filching any more of his livestock. Yet Marty needed the energy, and Cotter’s cows had nowhere to run in their pens. If Graham could wake them up and herd them in a tight group, he could fill the stone even more than with the two deer he’d hunted. Graham placed his hands on top of the wooden fence.
Something cracked against the back of his head. His chin knocked into his chest. Graham’s hands reached up and held his throbbing scalp, a bump already rising along his hair. His eyes winced as he gazed into the field and saw something sparkle in the grass. Another star?
Glass. Long. Round. He sniffed his hands. Despite the manure smell from the storage tank, he caught a whiff of alcohol. Then something hard and sharp crunched into his back. Graham’s hand went down, clutching the sore spot. He saw a large rock sitting beside his feet.
A grumpy voice shouted, “Hey, now. What you doing all climbing over people’s fences?” A loud belch interrupted the slurred speech. “Go on, get outta here. Nothing but a worthless con man. Ain’t nobody want you here.”
Graham shifted around. He now noticed the drunk up against the junkyard fence. Obvious the man headed toward Sumter’s Pub although it didn’t look like he had enough change to buy anything. Dirty clothes hung over his body in four layers. All browned from the dirt and his own sweat. Forward and back, he swayed on his feet. The man held a large garbage bag over one shoulder. A thick piece of rope wrapped around his knuckles and tied the opening close. The drunk reached down to pick up several more rocks while stumbling. The weight of the garbage bag tipped him forward. He slammed face first into the ground.
Graham assumed this’d be the end of it. For almost three minutes the drunk sat there with his face flat on the ground and his rear end pointing toward the heavens. The garbage bag had busted open. Old newspapers, ripped clothing, and hundreds of bottle caps spilled across the road. A high groan escaped from beneath him. Then the drunk flopped to the side. Scraped skin covered his face along. A good amount of blood ran from the man’s nose bent with it in a crooked position. He gazed at his trash on the ground while wiping at the blood.
The man looked all right beside the busted nose. Graham turned toward the fence. One foot pushed on the bottom beam when the drunk started screaming.
“HE GONE PUNCH ME AND STEAL MY STUFF. I’LL GO HAVE YOU ARRESTED, BAXTER.”
At the mention of his name, Graham halted in his climb over the fence. He had no idea who the fool was yet the drunk obviously knew him from somewhere. After a sigh, he climbed down. His eyes gave a long stare, then he glanced up the road searching for any movement outside the bar. Loud music blared from inside. Old man Sumter must’ve gotten a local band in to entertain the folks tonight.
Graham strolled toward the drunk with his hands in pockets. “I didn’t hit on you. You fell and hit yourself.”
“YOU GONE AND DONE IT. GIVE ME BACK MY THINGS. THIEF! HELP! HE BEATING ME.”
Graham growled, “You threw a bottle at me. I should’ve come over and pounded your sorry ass. I didn’t. And you got nothing in that bag I want. All your things are there on the ground. Leave me alone.”
“Judge will lock you up good, Baxter. Good hundred years in jail. I’ll live in your place. Make myself comfy there,” the drunk said.
He had Graham worried with the threat. Even if the lawmen didn’t believe the drunk, they might hold both of the men in a cell overnight. Best if Graham did his business in Cotter’s barn and leave. His chances would be better if the lawmen found him back at the fort rather than standing over the bleeding drunk. Besides, Marty was alone in the storage room with his health worsening.
Graham walked back toward the fence. His hands grabbed the beam when something rammed into him. The boards broke and they went sprawling into the field.
He groaned and rolled up to a sitting position, his body throbbing everywhere. His eyes watched the drunk man stagger up to feet. The man’s hand reached into the grass and lifted the bottle. Then he strode over, a little steadier now with his anger helping his cause. A bad situation. Normally, Graham would beat on the drunk without giving a second thought about it. Yet he was unsure whether he had the strength to lift his arm in protection.
The drunk stomped forward with the bottle raised over his head. He muttered, “You give me everything. Empty your pockets and give me all you have. Give me your cash. Watch. Everything. Or I call the sheriff. Call him right now.”
Graham’s eyes stared at the drunk’s serious face. He had nothing valuable on him. Only things he kept in his pockets were the car keys and the convention center keys. The last of Cotter’s money went toward Marty’s comic books. Graham reached into the pocket and listened to the rustling plastic. He pulled out the sandwich bag and debated it for only a second as the drunk man’s arm trembled, ready to split open his skull. He held up the bag.
The drunk frowned. “Why I want a rock for? Plenty of them on the road for me to use on your head.”
Graham shrugged. “This one is different. It’s a fallen star. Came right out of the sky.”
“You think I fell off the truck yesterday? You pull out something better than that or I bust this bottle apart and slit your throat. Then I go into those pockets anyway and take what I want. Your choice on whether you want to stay alive,” the man threatened.
Graham snorted. “Do I look like someone who carries rocks in my pockets for nothing? If you know my name then you know I don’t steal worthless things. This is valuable to the right person.”
“What you mean valuable?” The drunk’s arm lowered. He hesitated before darting fingers snatched up the bag. The man opened the top and peered inside at the stone.
“Museum people, for one, like those who study the sky for a living. They’re always looking for stuff like this. Pay people big money when the rocks come from there.” Graham pointed upward.
The drunk’s eyes moved along Graham’s arm and stared at the sky. He hiccuped and shook the bag, excitement showing on his features. Then he looked down suspiciously. He backed away several feet before upending the bag. The stone fall into his hand.
Graham kept his face lowered while he looked at his dusty shoes and listened to the man’s heavy breathing. His palms flipped upward. The evening deepened more yet he could see the paleness of his skin, the round circles and the streaks moving up along fingers and down past wrists. It looked like he held stars. Pale and cold. Twenty minutes passed by the time he glanced upward.
The drunk man now sat on the grass with his eyes fixed on the stone sitting in his palm. Blood dripped off the top of his lip and splattered on pants. His body trembled yet he was too drunk to notice what was going on or even pay attention to what he was feeling. Also, his body had thinned into a less solid form. Along the edges of the drunk’s clothes, Graham could see through him like one of Marty’s comic book heroes who had special x-ray vision.
“Let it go,” Graham whispered. His own body trembled, yet with fright. He knew what he’d done, always known with the flower and the deer. Yet this was too much. He’d gone too far. What Graham had just done was worse than a knife shoved into someone’s gut or a gun pointed at a person’s head. He’d beaten people before and stolen from them. Yet he’d never taken a man’s life deliberately, despite how many people in this town believed he did from his second conviction.
“LET IT GO,” Graham shouted. In the distance, Cotter’s dogs barked. The drunk man lifted his face, snorted, and tossed the bottle. Graham’s arm came up. Yet the bottle broke apart, sending glass across his body. He shook the pieces from his clothes and hair. Then he charged forward with his shoulder up and aimed at the drunk’s chest, wanting to knock the stone from the man’s grip.
Graham felt himself enter the drunk's ethereal body. Veins slithered across his skin. Muscles bunched at the contact he made. Moisture slimed his jacket from bile and blood and liquid he had no name for from organs he had no right in touching. Then his elbow neared the stone. Pain. Heat. Heaviness. Uncanny power.
Raw energy smacked into every part of Graham’s body and sent him airborne. He flew backward eight feet and then struck the ground, wisps of smoke rising from his jacket. His eyelids fluttered as he tried to stay awake. Yet his mind and body hurt. Graham’s eyes took in the sight of the deepening night, just staring at the stars and the blackness beyond them. When his senses returned, he flipped onto his side and shook off the dazed sensation. He looked over at the drunk man.
Gone. Yet Graham knew the man would be. Only thing left was the blood spatter across the grass blades. The black stone sat near the bag, vibrating.
Okay, I know that was more than a snippet. But hopefully it was entertaining to you, or at least passed a few moments of your time. Please visit the ever popular Eric for his post. And don't forget to drop by and see the talented Kat tomorrow for her answer.
Posted by Michelle H.