I’ve finished the first draft of Bitter Hollow and I’m letting it sit for a bit. I’ve started working on the book after with the working title, A Bad Place. This will likely change as I get closer to the end of the first draft. It typically does. Knocked out the following 900 words yesterday and have only performed minor edits to clean it up for inclusion today. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.
If there was one thing Gerald learned from life it was to be happy with what you had, and not worry about what others might be doing, or how they succeeded. Unfortunately, his wife Rita had yet to discover that one simple truth. Instead, she constantly worried about the success’s others had, comparing her life to that of her closest friend whose husband worked for the federal government and had moved up to a leadership position, taking over the local IRS office. In reality it wasn’t that much of an accomplishment when you considered he was responsible for an office with only two full time staff.
The labored breathing of his yellow lab, Max, brought him back to reality and he stopped.
“Do you need to take a break, buddy.”
Max looked up at him with a soulful gaze, his muzzle grey, and promptly settled onto the damp pavement. The air was heavy, damp with humidity, carrying the scent of the recent rain and an eternal mustiness. The forest bordering the road lay shrouded in deep shadows, whispering in its secret voice as smaller animals scurried about in search of food. Birds darted back and forth, calling to one another in melodic tones, greeting the approach of the new day. Beside him Max panted in a steady rhythm.
Rita had been after Gerald for several weeks now to do something about the old fella. At fourteen he at times still acted like the puppy he once was, but those moments were becoming increasingly rare. Instead, he preferred his soft pillow and a warm room, or cool depending on the season. His walked that once extended nearly to the old train depot at the top of Depot Road, had been drastically shortened by advancing age. Now he was lucky to make it to the end of Borden Road where it met Depot Road without a break or two. This morning he seemed especially slow, and Gerald knew Rita was right about one thing, neither of them were getting any younger.
“It might be time,” she said just the day before.
“Time for what?” he asked, knowing full well what direction the conversation was about to take.
“Fourteen years is a long time for a lab.” Max was asleep on his pillow in the living room, probably dreaming about taking a long walk, oblivious to the conversation and its implications.
“What are you suggesting?”
“He’s in pain. You know it, I know it. He sure as hell knows it, and if he could talk he’d ask for an end to it. I’ve already spoken to Doctor Foland, and he agrees. We can take him down tonight, stop and get him an order of the fries he likes. Let him pig out and help him along.”
“Is that what you’re going to do to me? When I become too much for you to take care of. Get me an order of fries on the way to hospice.”
Tears sparkled at the corner of her eye and Gerald took savage satisfaction at being the cause of them. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
“What is it really? Debbie at work telling you about their new puppy, I know about it, I spoke to Richard the other day and he was telling me about it. You know them specialty breeds are prone to major health issues.”
“It’s not that, I’m just…” She threw up her arms, surrendering to his argument and walked away. Later that night he apologized for his comment, but inside he was still seething. She’d shown him photos of Debbie’s new puppy. A Pomsky, and Gerald shuddered at the thought. They’d crossed a husky with a Pomeranian. What was the world coming to?
A low growl from Max alerted Gerald he was no longer alone. Footsteps came from the road ahead. They were hard, full of purpose, ringing solidly against the pavement.
Looking up he spotted someone approaching around the bend in the road. The sound of life in the forest grew still as the stranger got closer. It became so quiet the footfall of the stranger’s approach carried a warning that caressed the sleeping part of Gerald’s primitive psyche. Max’s growl became a whine, and he lowered his head to his paws, watching in silent terror as the stranger approached.
“Morning stranger,” Gerald called out in greeting and the stranger stopped. With the stranger’s face in shadows Gerald found it difficult to make out his features. He was aware of a bearded chin with what looked like several days of growth. Below the stranger’s chin, glowing in the predawn darkness, was a small white square.
Was he a priest?
“Afraid I don’t recognize you,” Gerald said, “I’m Gerald Simmons from Broken Heart Mine Road. And you’re?”
The stranger pointed at Max and Had Gerald been the more imaginative type he might have decided at that moment to push on around the stranger.
“Is that your dog?” The stranger said in a gravelly voice accompanied by the faint whisper of a million others raised in soft terror. Gerald wasn’t the imaginative sort and paid little attention to the whispers that replaced the sounds of life in the dense shadows of the forest. It felt like it had gotten darker since the stranger’s arrival and Gerald glanced at the lightening sky, the clouds above tinted at their edges with the golden fire of the approaching dawn. Around him the world remained hidden in darkness.
“Yes, it’s my dog, Max,” he answered, worry blossoming too late for him to do anything about it. The stranger had closed the distance between them and was now less than arm’s length away. Yet he still could not make out anything other than the faint glimmer of white.
“Are you a preacher?” Gerald asked, taking another step back to widen the distance between them.
“May I have your dog?”
End Segment. I know not much to go on, but I know where it’s going after this point and I’ll share later. Thanks for stopping by and if you’re of a mind to do so you can share your thoughts in the comments.
All Roads Lead to Terror
An endless night is closing in.
In a chaotic, post-apocalyptic world, an endless night is closing in, and only the strong will survive. In the midst of the turmoil, fourteen-year-old Meat, and his three closest friends, embark on a mission to rescue kidnapped children from the compound enslaving them.
Battling their way through treacherous terrain and immeasurable odds, the boys must learn to lean on each other if they hope to survive. Little do they know fate has far greater plans for them. For they represent the trinity, a symbol older than time itself, that keeps the darkness at bay.
They are three, bound by a fourth, destined to save mankind.
With time running out, and the cloak of eternal night descending, can the boys find a way to turn the tables on evil?
Or will they be the next to join the growing legion of the dead?
Featured image courtesy of <a href="http://(c) Can Stock Photo / devon