Confession: I was going to give you one word, but I already gave you my best word yesterday.
That word, of course, is “Hmrflphmrmbn.”
So now what am I supposed to do? For those of you just joining us (and by the way, welcome!), WIPpet Wednesday is a fantastic weekly event hosted by K.L. Schwengel where we share a bit of a work in progress that somehow relates to the day’s date. Today is 5/1/13… let me see what I can dig up.
So many possibilities! A first kiss? First dance? First anything else? Perhaps. Paragraph one of chapter five? Nope, already did that. Something that’s in first-draft stage? I wouldn’t do that to you.
Wait, yes I would! We WIPpeteers are all about exposing ourselves, aren’t we? Wait… that’s not right. You know what I mean.
First of May, first draft. First pass at the first scene of a new series of… eh, short stories, novellas, who am I to say? Set in our own world, just to shake things up a bit, no connection with previous WIPpet posts (lest you all think I’m a less-than-impressive, amateur, one-trick pony). It’s a long one; feel free to skip if you’re not fond of questionable language, or the undead talking about sex and religion. For reals, I’d rather have you give this one a pass than offend anyone.
(And yes, I know, flogging a dead horse, but it’s fun!)
Easter Sunday, early evening.
The faithful file into the little white church, oblivious to the dark shape huddled on a rooftop across the road. It’s always cold here in the spring, especially near the water; their breath puffs out in clouds, like the wood smoke that rises from the chimney beside me. I force my diaphragm to expand, pulling air into my lungs and forcing my leather jacket tight against my breasts, but the exhalation that follows isn’t at all visually impressive. One needs body heat for a trick like that.
The river of the congregants slows, but the music continues. If you can call it that; the pre-recorded clanging coming from the speakers on the steeple is dreadful, but it serves its purpose. No one in town could possibly be unaware of the fact that there’s a service about to begin. O Come All Ye Faithful and all that. Wait. No, that’s Christmas. I should remember, but it’s been so long since I stepped into a church that it has become muddled. A minivan pulls into the full church parking lot, circles around, then winds its way through the rows of cars to a spot at the school next door. A harried-looking mother drags a crying toddler from the back while the father lifts a little blonde girl in a flowered dress to the ground. It would be a perfect picture if not for the fact that the dress isn’t nearly warm enough, and the parents hurry the girl into the church when all she wants to do is pause on the steps and twirl to make her skirt flare out. Her father drags her inside, and the door closes again.
“You bastard,” I whisper, and wish I had a cigarette in hand so I could flick the ash for emphasis.
She lands silently on the roof, out of sight, but I feel her coming. “Hey, babe,” she whispers, rousing me from my pensive state. She’s supposed to be my mentor, having been at this five years longer than me, but Trixie has always taken a casual approach. She slides down the slope of the roof and drops to sit beside me. “What’s happening?”
I’m not sure whether she’s cursing or making conversation. “Exactly. I feel a certain affinity for him this time of year. Death. Coming back. Unbelievers.”
“Fluffy bunnies and chocolate.”
“That, too.” I remove my sunglasses and squint at the cross on top of the steeple. So much more tasteful than the full crucifix displayed at the Catholic church down the road, though when I think about it, both seem odd. I was killed with a gun; if I had followers, I wouldn’t want them wearing pistols around their necks.
Trixie watches me, apparently finding the situation amusing. “Poor little child, stuck in the past.” She tilts her head to one side, flipping one of her electric blue pigtails forward over her shoulder. “Did you go, before?”
“Do you miss it?”
“Nah.” We’re not supposed to dwell on our lives. Regret is pointless, and nothing can be changed, in life or in death.
“Of course she doesn’t.” I didn’t hear Daniel coming, or feel him. I don’t spend as much time with our field trainer as I do with Trixie, and I’m not attuned to him. It’s an ability that’s been slow in coming to me, and it makes training difficult. “Shivva thinks of nothing but the future, her role in the maintenance of this miserable land’s supernatural resources, the enforcement of… what?”
Trixie is grinning at him.“Shivva’s got a girlie hard-on for church bells.”
“Oh, that’s fine. I was worried she was thinking about sampling from this holy buffet.”
Trixie giggles. “Smorgasbord of the righteous!”
I glare at them and put my sunglasses back on. It’s not summer yet, but the light is already getting to me on clear days.
“Aww, whatsa matter, Shivva my love?” Daniel asks in his thickest bayman’s accent, which he’s perfected over his years on the island. “Is de sonlight bodderin’ ye?” He laughs at his own stupid pun, and I take my time raising a fist and flipping him the bird with one pink and green-painted fingernail. “Oh, that’s not nice.”
“I’m sorry, is that too intimidating for you?” I unroll my pointer and ring fingers a joint to leave less of the middle digit exposed, and Daniel claps a hand over his heart and falls backward off of the roof.
“That hurt, Shiv,” he calls up from the ground. “That hurt a lot.”
“Come prove me wrong.”
When his pale brown eyes appear over the edge of rooftop gutter, they express more sadness than I believe he’s capable of feeling. “Be good. I shows you when we gets back to town.”
“Oh, yes.” Bullshit teasing is all it is. Maybe I would have found Daniel attractive if we’d both been alive, but it hardly bears thinking about now. Not only is he my trainer, he’s also dead. Not having a pulse wreaks havoc on a guy’s sex life, unless he’s keen on pharmaceuticals.
Trixie leans back on her elbows and watches the sun set as Daniel pulls himself back onto the roof. “We going, or what?”
“Yes, my dears.” Daniel has dropped the accent, but not the dialect. We’re not really his dears. He’s what the locals call “best kind” on days off, but when we’re training it feels more like we’re his soldiers or his slaves. “Vacation is over, and we leave these fine people to their— Oh, what in the name of everything unnatural is this shit?” He’s been interrupted by the church’s speakers, which are now blasting some hymn, broadcasting the congregation’s mixed vocal talents aver the town. He shakes his head. “I remember when church bells meant something, when they sounded good, played on the hour, and didn’t split my head open with the wailings of Mrs McGuillicutty and her Caterwauling Carolers.”
“Carols are for Christmas,” I remind him.
“Don’t care.” He glares at the church, and turns back to us, all business. “We’re needed in town, ladies.” He studies us for a few seconds, frowning as we continue to laze on the cooling shingles. “Though it doesn’t look much to me like either of you is ready for your first assignment.”
We’re on our feet before he finishes the word. “What?” we ask together.
“As I said. I told Miranda you’re ready, and she said to bring you to the club tonight. Get changed, we’re flying home. Oh, and if you disappoint me, your young, dead asses are mine. Understood?”
Trixie grins at me, and I bounce on the toes of my boots as the excitement fills me. Daniel has been telling us we’re not likely to be ready until well into the next century; this news is both thrilling and terrifying. “What is it?” Trixie squeaks.
The energy seems to flow out through the soles of my feet, leaving me empty and weak. Trixie and I look at each other, and she chews her lip. “On our first assignment?” she asks, but Darius is gone in a flurry of fog as he transforms into a hulking gargoyle-like shape and flies East.
There’s nothing for us to do but follow.
That’s it. Aren’t first drafts charming? It’ll kill me not to pick at this, screaming “LIKE ME! LIKE MEEEE!” But I won’t. Oh, also first attempt at more than a few paragraphs of present-tense, inspired by this blog post by kiralynblue- but hey, it’s first person! Oh, and their first assignment. Hey, I’ve got this May first thing locked up. 🙂
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the WIPpeteers’ works for this Wednesday and share the love. If you’d like to join the fun, click on that link and add your own work in progress snippet, as per the rules stated above.
May 1st, 2013 at 10:22 am
Um, your first draft is better than some of my third drafts. You’ve got me totally hooked!!!
May 1st, 2013 at 12:24 pm
Hooray! I love the characters, but I wasn’t sure whether other people would like this scene. I’m writing it for myself, anyway, but it’s always nice to have encouragement. 🙂
May 1st, 2013 at 10:55 am
Very good – I really enjoyed it! Loving the WIPpet idea too – may have to join in!!
May 1st, 2013 at 11:00 am
It’s really fun. The WIPpeteers are a really fun, diverse bunch.
May 1st, 2013 at 11:01 am
So, do I just go to that blog and ask to get involved then?? 🙂
May 1st, 2013 at 11:06 am
What I did was I stopped by everyone’s entries one week, said hi, commented, mentioned somewhere that I’d like to get involved (maybe it was on KL Schwengel’s blog, maybe not), and they said hop on-board, add your link, party time! When I joined I think it was all Fantasy, but that’s expanding now, with one regular contributor sharing a contemporary work about teenage parents that’s been really interesting so far. Some of very supportive people, all commenting and sharing and being generally lovely, crazy, or inspirational. 🙂
And thank you for not making fun of me for saying “really fun” twice in one comment. Obviously my first drafts aren’t always up to par. 😉
May 1st, 2013 at 11:26 am
Neither are mine! Will look into it – thanks. 🙂
May 1st, 2013 at 9:04 pm
Open door policy. 🙂 Add to the linky on my blog and WIPpet away.
May 1st, 2013 at 9:18 pm
There you go!
May 2nd, 2013 at 5:41 am
Cool! Sounds good – am just starting the sequel so will have lots to contribute, hopefully!! Thanks.
May 2nd, 2013 at 7:47 am
Awesome!! Look forward to it. All we ask is that you share the WIPpeteer love. 😉
May 1st, 2013 at 1:00 pm
“Smorgasbord of the righteous!”
I had to read this twice to realise you probably didn’t mean a “righteous sandwich”… learning way too many languages right now, they need to stop invading my brain at the weirdest moments.
Also, that’s an incredible first draft. Are you sure you didn’t cheat and put up a third? 😛 My first drafts never read this well, let alone pass as an actual finished story… 😦
May 1st, 2013 at 1:03 pm
Yeah, first draft, but moving carefully as I went rather than vomiting it all out like I do during NaNoWriMo. And this has been kicking around in my brain since Easter (guess what inspired it?), so I’ve done a lot of playing around with the characters and dialogue already, just not written out. Thank you for your kind words, and sorry about the smorgasbord thing. Around here, we just mean buffet. 😉
May 1st, 2013 at 3:04 pm
I kind of figured^^
It’s just that our Swedish teacher told us a few days ago that a “smörgås” is a sandwich, and it’s one of those words that fascinate me in a really weird way… ô.O
May 1st, 2013 at 1:30 pm
Umm…I love this. I love the banter between the characters. I’m most def curious about their training and their assignment. The only thing that kinda bothered me was that I couldn’t figure out what kind of undead they are. I want to say vampires. Are you allowed to tell? 🙂
May 1st, 2013 at 1:42 pm
Vampires would be a pretty safe assumption. It will be clearer in the next scene I have planned, but maybe I should throw a glimpse of Trixie’s fangs in there next draft? 🙂
Glad you like it!
May 1st, 2013 at 3:07 pm
Ohh, we get to read more about them? 😀
I’d really like to do the WIPpet Wednesday thing as well, but I suppose posting only German excerpts is a bit useless… :S
May 1st, 2013 at 9:24 pm
Well, I’ll be writing more about them.. I guess if you all wanted to see more, I could throw it into the WIPpet Wednesday mix. I’m running out of non-spoiler stuff from Bound, anyway. 🙂
I think it would probably be hard for most of us to read German excerpts, but we’d be very encouraging if you said you were making progress!
May 1st, 2013 at 3:05 pm
“Smorgasbord of the righteous!” I actually found that line REALLY funny. I’m not sure if you were going for humorous, but I was very amused. 🙂 Thanks for the disclaimer – I didn’t find anything offensive but I always appreciate when writers respect their readers enough to give them fair warning! Nice job!
May 1st, 2013 at 9:27 pm
I was. Or at least, the character was, and I found it amusing. 🙂
I try to give gore or possibly-offensive content warnings, or warn about trigger situations. You never know what people might be upset by, but some are more common, so I think it’s fair to offer warnings. Now, on a whole book I might not, but when casual blog readers stop by, it seems reasonable.
May 1st, 2013 at 5:44 pm
“if I had followers, I wouldn’t want them wearing pistols around their necks.”
Yeah, actually the early church didn’t do the crosses thing. I think that came after Constantine. At the time their feelings were similar to your character’s, or the way we’d feel about wearing an electric chair or needle around our necks. Too creepy.
I’d like to know more about the background. The plot sounds interesting thus far.
May 1st, 2013 at 9:29 pm
I think working background into a present-tense story will be an interesting challenge. I know it in my mind, it’s just getting it in there that will be sort of tough. I’m up for it. 🙂
May 1st, 2013 at 9:07 pm
My favorite line: ““You bastard,” I whisper, and wish I had a cigarette in hand so I could flick the ash for emphasis.”
All in all, extremely well done, especially for first draft stuff. Dang. I love it. Very intriguing, good set up of the characters, I wonder if the little girl becomes important just because you paid a little attention to her?
May 1st, 2013 at 9:16 pm
I know she’ll be symbolically important, when we get to Shivva feels about the life she lost. Otherwise, you never know. Well, I don’t, anyway. 🙂
May 2nd, 2013 at 7:27 am
‘One needs body heat for a trick like that.’ Love it, shows the differences between her and the people outside the church. Like everyone else I am in awe of your first-reads-like-a-dream draft!
May 2nd, 2013 at 7:49 am
Thanks! I’m trying to work on attention-getting openings… it’s always a challenge for me. Lack of body heat seemed interesting, if not explosively exciting. 🙂
May 2nd, 2013 at 8:17 am
Yes is very interesting. Scene too pensive for explosive excitement, would ruin your lovely tone.
May 2nd, 2013 at 8:44 am
Kate, this is awesomeI adore the banter, and in my head, Daniel is Spike from Buffy, which is no bad thing. I am so intrigued by their job and assignment and stuff. Will we get to see more?
May 2nd, 2013 at 8:51 am
If you want. I didn’t think anyone would like it this much. I have a pretty good idea where it’s going, anyway…
Mmmmmm, Spike. 🙂
May 2nd, 2013 at 4:53 pm
It’s not “perfect”, but it’s still awesome, Kate. Now I want to know what this assignment involving rogues” might be.
May 8th, 2013 at 7:37 am
[…] keeping with last week, when I showed you a first draft (of a first scene) on the first, I’m going to give you […]