I just spent an interesting day. I’ve been making revisions to one of my novels. You know, spelling, prose, fixing scenes, et cetera. I dare say this is the closest any of my novels have ever come to a final draft! I’m psyched!
But yeah, in case you missed picking up on the down trend, I have yet to be published. It’s a bummer.
Still, I’ve got the bug again. I’m not dead yet. And this novel has a lot of promise. So who knows. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get one published yet.
It’s also making it cool to have a nice full duplexing printer. I really like my Brother HL-5250DN. I can set it up to print like a paperback book, basically. Okay, so I still have to do the binding myself, but that’s about it. It’s pretty sweet!
So, to commemorate my good mood as my writer’s blood gets boiling once more, I give to you the first chapter of Hunter Hunted, one of those nice little vampire fiction novels. Enjoy.
Chapter 1 – Wakey Wakey
Lars awoke with a splitting headache. An intense light burned right down through his sensitive eyes and into his brain like a red-hot poker. The considerable distraction caused by this intense pain was so great that it took him a moment to realize that the violent sounds that threatened to shred his eardrums were his own screams. Unconsciousness finally reclaimed its lost victim and he found peace in nothingness.
The next time that Lars regained his awareness he felt much better. He only vaguely remembered having woken up in such pain. It all felt as if a dream. Even now he wasn’t sure if he had actually broken free into the conscious world. A strange cloying feeling of uncertainty clung to him. He half expected that at any moment he would wake up from this.
Not that Lars wanted to wake up from anything at the moment. If it was indeed a dream then it was the best dream that he had in ages. Usually his dreams were dark and bloody; his subconscious filled with the macabre casualness of working in the meat packing industry along with the other more general stresses of life. The pleasant feeling that was washing over him right now was a stark contrast that he enjoyed thoroughly. For the first time in years he felt just plain good. For him it was a huge improvement.
Lars decided to open his eyes. He was not completely surprised to find himself in a drab hospital room full of the trappings of human suffering. He imagined that doctors probably saw it differently. Their job was to heal, but no one ever needed healing if they weren’t first suffering. That was perhaps the crux of the misunderstanding between doctors and patients.
Still, for being in a hospital Lars felt awfully healthy. He looked himself over both with his eyes and with a sense of searching for any pain. The only thing that felt out of place was the IV needle that had pierced his flesh just above the wrist. He sat up slowly with care, but the expected dizziness did not occur. He shrugged and hopped out of bed. No muscles complained. No aches evinced themselves. His balance was as good as ever. His body seemed whole.
Deciding to press his luck, Lars pulled the IV from his arm. There were no nurses in his room to stop him and he was sure that he did not need it anymore. He was the one in charge of his body. He didn’t trust anyone else to be, not ever since.
Lars checked the clipboard at the end of his bed. As he had expected he was a John Doe. The events of last night were still foggy at best, but he seemed to remember his wallet being stolen. That had happened right after she had kicked him in the stomach. He quickly checked his stomach, chagrined to find no bruising whatsoever. He seemed to remember it being an awfully painful kick, much stronger than she had looked capable of delivering.
She. A fleeting memory of her came to him. He had been sitting in a bar. She had sat down next to him. She had offered to buy him a drink. Normally he was wary of strong women, especially in bars, because they usually had ambitions that rarely coincided with his happiness. She had been different though. She had put a spell on him. Maybe it was the cute wisps of blond hair that had escaped the confines of her hair spray. Maybe it was her eyes. She had the most unusually large round eyes, not so much freakishly large, but cute like she was pleasantly surprised. Were they blue? He thought that they had been blue, but something nagged at him that said it wasn’t quite right. All that he could remember was blue though, so he decided to concentrate on more important aspects of his memory.
She had been cute, and that was what had disarmed his cynicism. Sexy women were dangerous where as cute women were, well, cute. Cute women weren’t predators. Of course cute women also didn’t typically hang out in bars alone, which should have tipped him off. Cute women generally traveled with a friend, where as she had been alone. It had been another indicator of strangeness that he must have ignored then, something that he was kicking himself for now.
She had bought him a drink and he had been buzzed enough already to gladly accept it with whatever strings might have been attached. He had expected to have his ear chewed off by a talker. That was usually the way of it with cute women and drinks. At least she had been nice enough to look at. He had been prepared to pretend to listen, for a while anyway.
Much to his frustration any clarity to his memory pretty much stopped there. At that point he could only remember disjointed clips. He remembered letting himself get pretty intoxicated, more so than he had been in a long while. He just hadn’t been able to stop himself, which, when he thought about it, was a first. She had kissed him. Then she suggested that they move to somewhere more private.
And then he was sprawled on the ground staring up at stars that were blurry even through his glasses and she kicked him in the stomach to turn him over. She lifted his wallet and left him there, blowing bubbles into a mud puddle. They had tickled. Everything after that was blank, up until he woke up again.
Lars was pretty sure by now that he was really and truly awake. As dreams went it was a little too mundane to be anything but reality. The usual gore, elements of the dead and undead, and other weird things just weren’t there. He relieved himself in the bathroom and took the opportunity to check himself out in the mirror. He had to lean in closely to see himself clearly without his glasses on. His face was slightly scratched and he had a raging fifty-past-five-o-clock shadow of the truly scruffy, but he looked none the worse for wear. His light brown-gray eyes squinted back at him, scrutinizing him just as deeply as he them. He tried to push his short sandy brown hair into place, and mostly succeeded after adding a little water. He looked at himself squarely. How had such a tiny thing of a woman taken him down? He was a strapping five-foot-eleven and thanks to the rigors of his job he was well on his way to two-twenty pounds, none of it fat. He wasn’t ripped like a body builder… yet, but he was certainly no soft-bellied couch potato either. He was just, hard. He knew from experience that he could toss around sides of beef with ease. She must have drugged him. Yeah, that had to be what had happened. He told himself that it must have been that.
With a sigh Lars returned to his bed. As he had expected his clothes were fairly dirty with splotches of mud that only reaffirmed his memories. His glasses were caked with it. He pressed the call button. Hell and damnation if he was going to wait for a nurse to stumble across him. He wanted out now. If he was lucky he could still make it in to work before they fired him. The sun outside wasn’t very far up into the sky yet, but he was going to have to change into some clean clothes first. Grudgingly he crawled into his muddied ones on his way back to the bathroom to wash his glasses. He would rather walk home in dirty clothes than in the hospital gown that left his ass hanging out.
The door to his room opened. A cheerful if chubby middle-aged woman in what should have been a looser-fitting nurse’s uniform popped in. Her nametag read “Dora”.
“Hey Dora, thanks for dropping in. I’m ready to check out now,” Lars threw at her quickly, not wanting to give her time to come to her senses.
“But … but,” she stammered as she tried to take everything in. Her eyes darted to his clipboard.
“Really, I’m feeling quite well and whole again and I have to get to work, so if you could just send me off on my way I’d be obliged.”
“But, sir, you shouldn’t even be standing in your condition, not with the way you were acting last night…” she got out before he interrupted her.
“And yet here I am, standing. I could walk a line while I recite the alphabet and touch my nose if that would make you feel any better. Whatever. Just let me get on my way.”
Dora’s mind however seemed to be cementing in place. He could practically feel it happening. She was not going to let herself be befuddled.
“Look, sir, I am sorry but I cannot allow you to leave yet. We have forms to fill out and the police are expecting a statement.”
Lars sat down hard on the bed. He hadn’t thought of the police. Of course they were involved. He remembered that now, as it flashed into his brain like a gunshot in the night. Much to his surprise he had woken up again after she had left him there. He had been in pain, in so much pain. It had been beyond imagining. He was sure that it had been poison that had weakened him now. It must have messed with his mind too.
He had struggled back to his feet. He remembered yelling. He had yelled a lot, and mostly it had been for help. He had been in a park. A police officer had found him. They had stumbled together to a car. He couldn’t remember any more, but no doubt that was how he had ended up here in this hospital. No doubt the police would want to talk to him now that he was coherent again.
That was the last thing that he needed though. He felt just fine now. She couldn’t have stolen much from him because he didn’t have much to steal. He didn’t even have a single credit card. All that he lost was his driver’s license and maybe twenty odd bucks. Live and learn. It was hardly worth losing a job over.
He wanted to tell Dora that he did not want to make a statement, but it was too late. She had already slipped off in his moment of recollection. He was not surprised to find the door locked. Maybe it was a nightmare after all.