4.01.2010

My First Novel Attempt--at Age 17

My friend dear friend Chris and I tried writing a novel together the summer after we finished high school. Our first idea involved some cataclysm involving the "New Millennium" (it was 1997, see, so it was timely...ish), but then we decided to go a more literary route and write a story about 4 different people whose lives intersected in some way/shape/form in this town called Donner's Mill. We decided to call it A Light from the Windmill, though I'm not entirely sure why anymore.

As green collaborators, we each gave ourselves 2 characters to write. Chris had a psychologist in crisis and a struggling waitress with an abusive husband. I had an ad executive on a quest to learn more about the death of his estranged priest brother and the maniacal Father (the priestly kind) who killed him. We had the plot all mapped, but we didn't make it more than 8 chapters or so before realizing we really had nothing. We had printed out all our completed chapters and put them in an accordion file. It was last in my possession, and it sat in my mother's guest room closet (which used to be my bedroom) for 12 years before she finally found it and mailed it to me.



Reading through it was both amusing and enlightening. I wrote a lot as a teenager, but I had lost almost all of that work when I gave away my old word processor. It was nice to see something survive that time. The internal editor in me definitely saw some potential in that wannabe novelist. Some parts were utterly atrocious, melodramatic, simplistic, overly-gothic, naive, while others were surprising. In some ways, the writing feels freer and more enthusiastic than my current work. It's the writing of someone who has yet to discover "the rules" and is writing to her heart's content, damning all convention. On the other hand, it's the work of a girl who had yet to learn certain punctuation rules, who was obsessed with passive voice, italics, exclamation points, adverbs, and overly formal dialogue. I'm still editing some of those old habits out of my work. At any rate, it seems that girl from way back then might still have some lessons to teach me. I was definitely writing from a different place then: my gut. Anyway, I'm going to post an excerpt. Unedited and just as it is on the page. Feel free to laugh at most of it. I sure did.

***

The camera flashes were bright in his eyes, and the hopeless bodies roaming around the church were enough to drive him insane. They were all questioning him, blocking him into corners with their probing eyes, persecuting him with every swipe of their pens across their little notepads. Did they not know he was a man of God, borne of the cloth and sworn to serve Him? Who are these hypocrites, thinking they are out to stop evil. They were all looking in the wrong place, for the shadow of death rests within all of them, and there are those of us, handpicked and strewn among the masses to bring the will of God to where evil rests it's damned head.

"Yes, officer," Malcom's eyes gazed back at the fat man in the black uniform, whose shirt looked two sizes smaller than it should. "David and I had finished a meeting involving a change in our Sunday mass. As he was leaving, he but slipped where you found him lying. The basin has been leaking for a couple of days now, of course there is nothing worse than water on marble."

"YOU ARE A LIAR! A HYPOCRITE!" David's willful yet naive face was furious.
"Don't mock me, boy! This is the way of the Lord. The Catholic Church does not promote behavior that resembles selfishness. Even you as a convert should know this, boy!" Malcolm was making his way down the isle between the rows of pews. His stiff, solid figure was outlined by the dim lights shining from the pulpit. He resembled a phantom.

"The word, my son, says it is easier to put a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into heaven! Know you, that this church does not tolerate acts of self-indulgence. We are here to praise only one! ONLY one! And I will not have people residing in my fellowship that refuse to live by the word of GOD!"

David was starting to back away from the dark figure approaching, its face cloaked by the shadows emanating from the dark sacred walls. The young boy, so unknowing, was afraid of him! Afraid! And for what? Malcolm is but a medium through which the voice of God travels!

"--this happen? Father? Excuse me, Father?"

Malcolm blinked away from the lumbering figure of the man before him. "Pardon me, son. What was your question?" Malcolm's eyes wandered to the figure resting beneath the white sheet, now the boy's shroud. May the Lord bless him and keep him.

Hypocrite.

"We said, about what time did this happen?" The officer was still looking at his pad, writing mechanically.

"Oh I'd say about an hour ago, perhaps at 7. I called you immediately thereafter."

"Who's going to save your soul, David, when it's black with greed! You of all should know the importance of enforcing the giving of tithes. You know this is not a house of self-worship!" David was backing further away, not far now from the foyer. The boy looked utterly terrified now, as if he were witnessing a demon terrorize the body of another man. What little he knows...the wretch is doomed, as they ALL are.

"Father Malcolm, please...we should talk about this later after we've cooled down. I'm going upstairs. Perhaps we can think of a compromise."

"Compromise! The Lord does not compromise! There is good and there is evil! Heaven and Hell. Earth is what lies in between...for now." 


David's eyes were getting wider. Obviously he was getting too anxious, too afraid. However it was too late at this point. Malcolm couldn't stop now, not anymore...he felt as if he were being driven.

Mother?

"Greed will consume this earth! It's hypocrites who run this show now. Lawyers, politicians, all the work of the devil!"

David was scrambling now as Malcolm's arms swung about amidst his raving. "Father Mal--" Abruptly cut off, David lost his footing and went falling to the floor, but no before a loud crack, the report of David's skull connecting with the marble of the holy water basin, reverberated off of the walls of the church. Malcolm winced, his face suddenly clearing as if he was emerging from water.

He now stood alone; observing from a dark corner the commotion that was finally starting to wind down. David had been taken away, and the absence of him as very dulling to his senses. The large doors of the church were propped to open to the cool, spring night, and the stars were like nails on a coffin. Who was he now? What was he now?

Murderer

Who is to blame for his? Certainly not himself. But why was he feeling such darkness where only light resided before?

Because you have killed, and thou shalt not kill.

"Father, we thank you for your help. We aren't going to treat this as a homicide, so you can feel free to go home. We'll call you with any questions or information we might have."

He knows.

"Thank you, Officer. I believe we all will feel this loss when mass approaches this week." Malcolm was feeling his pulse in his ears. That whispering. That whispering must stop!

"Yes, well he was known in the community, Father. We are all familiar with Brother Wells' generosity. Good night, Father." Malcolm watched as the bulky policeman retreated toward a group of other cops standing in the doorway. He was in view of the yellow tape blocking the stairway, contrasting so heavily with the density of the night.

God, I have sinned! I have killed!

"The blood will cleanse you, Malcolm. Only the lamb will forgive." The small boy took the chalice reluctantly; his eyes fixed on the stony face of his mother.

"Drink, boy drink. And thou shalt be cleansed."

"But mommy, it's gross!"

The boy's face stung as a very hard and calloused hand connected with it. His tears came easily enough, but he wiped them quickly away. "This is your communion boy! Take it now."

Malcolm's stomach was rolling, and his breath was short. The room around him was fading in and out, as random voices whispered in and out of his mind. "Dear God, forgive me of this duplicity." He slowly began walking toward the toward the doors when the cool breeze caught his brow. Before he stepped outside, he heard a faint rustling from behind him. Ducking back inside, eyes darting quickly around, they caught the sight of something dark fluttering in the rafters. Malcolm's heart caught in his chest as he gasped for an icy breath.

"Who are you?" he whispered, his eyes thinning to mere slits as sweat formed a thin film on his face. It was a bird, black as the deepest pool of crude. Malcolm's tongue was compulsively licking his lips as he crept closer and closer to the figure.

"What are you doing here?" he asked it, no longer caring if any of the remaining investigators noticed him. All was gone, except he and this menacing creature. He heard a whisper--a faint whisper like a voice stirring his soul.

Harbinger, my friend...

Malcolm turned and fled.

2 comments:

  1. Way better than my early writing. Or my current writing.

    When I was 17-18 my longest work was a novel in which a demon got turned into a ham sandwich after a summoning went wrong, and subsequently got eaten by a dimension-travelling psychotic clown. Probably my finest work.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh give yourself more credit, Anton! lol

    By the way, that story idea sounds awesome. ;)

    ReplyDelete