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.