Friday, March 11, 2016

Finding a Story, Part Six

Parts One, Two, Three, Four, and Five

Actual writing of the story has finally commenced. It's time to throw this thing into gear. Some things have happened. No one has died yet. Well, actually, several people have died. But they were off-screen, or off-page, as it were. We assume they're dead. They've disappeared without a trace. Nothing good could have become of them.

Jake has done some exploring, and even made a friend. Well, friend might not be the right word, but an acquaintance at least. Her name is Evie, and she has a story of her own, that we (and Jake) are going to have to figure out. Who is she? What is she doing here? Why hasn't she disappeared like all the others.

I had a question posed to me on last week's article about Jake's goals and whether regaining his soul was one of them. And I don't think it is. At this point, he's just a guy who has murdered seven (or eight, depending on who you ask) people. He doesn't realize that his soul is gone, and as such is in no hurry to get it back. His first objective, I would say, is survival. He wants to get out of this place alive. Along the way, maybe he wants to help Evie. Maybe he wants to figure out what is happening in this place. Regaining his soul is merely a byproduct.

So then the question becomes: why would he want to help Evie, since he's a bad guy and all? The answer is that he isn't completely devoid of a soul. One itty bitty fragment remains. And that might be enough to get him to do the right thing. In my mind, he still has standards regarding acceptable murdering targets. He might kill a full grown man who looks at him funny, but he wouldn't kill a child. That tiny fragment prevents him from doing so. Evie is a young, defenseless woman, and so does not fall under the banner of acceptable targets. If this all seems a bit convenient, maybe it is. But that's how the story goes. I'm sure it will sound better when it's all written out.

But now, the moment you've probably all been waiting for since I started work on this story: an actual piece of story. This is an excerpt taken from the middle of what I have. It introduces some information and (I hope) sets the tone for what is to come. This is, of course, a work in progress, so it's not going to be perfect.

The front door creaked as he pushed it open. He stepped into a massive foyer from which three hallways branched off to the right, left, and straight ahead. A grand staircase forked down on either side of the central corridor. Standing still in the room, he listened. Nothing.

A heavy thud behind him made him jump. The door had swung shut of its own volition, plunging him into shadow. High windows above the door illuminated the staircase, but the light did not reach to the floor.

He headed down the central hallway, passing statues and pieces of furniture, all draped with white cloths. At each door he came upon, he tried the handle, but found them all locked. Four doors, three tables, two chairs, four statues. Nothing particularly interesting. The hallway ended at a T-junction. Jake took the left path. It circled around, past more locked doors, and ended back in the foyer. It was safe to say that the hallway on the right would do the same.

Upstairs it was, then. At the first door on the left, he went to try the knob. The door drifted open at the contact. Inside was some kind of library, with bookshelves lining the walls. A desk sat in center of the room, with various objects strewn across it. The thing that caught Jake’s eye was thick book with papers and things jutting out of it. He thumbed through the pages. It was some kind of scrapbook, but there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the entries. One page held a family photograph, another held a yellowed newspaper clipping. The collection was all different people from different places and different years. Jake turned the page to a photograph of a woman and a familiar looking man. It took him a minute before he recognized the ruddy-faced guard from the train. A page later was a wanted poster. His own wanted poster. It wasn’t attached to the page like the others, instead it was just shoved in hastily. Angrily.

Jake smoothed out the corners of the page. “$500 Reward,” it said in big, enticing letters. Below that, once it had everyone’s attention, “Jacob Barlow, wanted for seven counts of murder.” The accompanying photograph was not the most flattering.

He slammed the book shut. Somewhere behind him, something moved.

He froze and warily looked back toward the door. Nothing. Leaning out into the hall, he thought he heard it again. From somewhere downstairs.

As quietly as possibly, he crept down the staircase. There was no sign of anyone. He walked halfway down the central corridor. Four doors, three tables, two chairs, three statues.

He stopped.

Three statues.

That's all you're getting for now. Feel free to comment and let me know what you think. All of you. I know you're out there, don't be shy.

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