Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Where it Wanders

I haven't had much time to work on a blog post so I thought I'd put up a scene from a work in progress called "Where it Wanders," which will be a horror/thriller. This scene introduces a major character. Hope you enjoy.

WHERE IT WANDERS

In a service road motel, near the I-10/I-35 merge in San Antonio, Layne Gabriel snapped awake. Listening intently, he heard only the groaning whisper of the cheap window heating unit and a faint snick of breathing from his most recent bed companion. But he knew there had been another sound here a moment ago. A sound, or maybe an absence of sound. The air tingled with it.

Sliding from the worn and rumpled sheets, he padded naked to the small motel table where his laptop stood open and on. The screen was black and it took him a moment to discern the message he’d been left. In places the normal flat slate of the computer face had grown depth, had taken on three dimensional form. He made out a phrase in the black on black. It said: “Ozark Mountains.” There was nothing else.

Layne shrugged, padded to the bathroom to do his business and then dressed in jeans and a navy blue T-shirt with faded white letters across the front that read “Hell Dog.” He turned off his laptop and packed it away in its weatherproof carrying case, then moved over to study the woman in the bed. She slept on, the sleep of the exhausted, with her short bottle-blond hair ratted around her head from where his hands had tangled during sex.

He leaned a little closer and sniffed her, and the combination of scents and sights brought a slice of poem driving hard into his awareness.

For the whiskey-breathed.
For the faint-beating heart.
Sweat-stained in the memory of love.

He smiled. The woman hadn’t been a very good lay but at least she’d been enthusiastic. That was worth something, he decided. He’d leave her a gift.

He turned away, slipped on his motorcycle jacket, lowered the laptop into his saddle bags, and quietly left the room. He had slept away the afternoon and evening. It was dark outside, the moon sailing black waters above him. He figured it for about 11:00 o’clock.

His bike waited, purple in the shadows, and he strapped the bags on it, then unlocked his full-face helmet and slid it over his head after tying up his hair. The night was chilly, and though he had a high tolerance for cold, he slipped on a pair of leather gloves. He didn’t want his hands to stiffen up on the ride.

Straddling the bike, he punched the starter and listened to the low growl of the modified Honda Magna 750 engine, the sound so different from the raw-throated chuckle of a Harley. The woman was probably waking up to the sound now, and he pulled from the motel’s parking lot and onto the street before she could come looking. He didn’t want to see her as he left; that might change his mind about giving her his gift.

He chuckled to himself as he thrust his boots up on the highway pegs and leaned back into the customized seat. Of course, the woman probably wouldn’t even realize he’d left her anything. But he’d left her alive, hadn’t he?

The road unfolded in a silver ribbon as he headed north in the wind.
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50 comments:

Sidney said...

Nice!

Ron Scheer said...

Way too cool. I do believe this is my first killer with a laptop. I need to get out more...

ivan said...

Charles,

Don't mind me saying this, because I think we are a pair 0' Docs.


Crap. After years of teaching, I'm always editing somebody elses copy.

How about opening with

In a service motel where the freeway killed the business (the 1-ll0 Merging in San Antonio) Layne Gabriel snapped awake.

Worry not.

I made the mistake (I think) by guest blogging about my own book over at a really Conservative site in Canada, ChuckerCanuck 2.0 (you can paste).

Says one commentor: "This new blog sucks!"
Wow. The ego keening like a trapped hare.

I was tempted to say, "Don't talk with your mouth full, commenter."

...But I tried to keep a lid on the id. Also the ego.
I think I may have said something elegant, like does your peg-legged mother write into this blog too? Hoo ha.

Merisi said...

"The woman hadn’t been a very good lay but at least she’d been enthusiastic.

Now that is something I imagine only men would understand. ;-)

All in all, I see a screenplay on the horizon.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sidney, thanks.

Ron, lol. He's a tech savvie kind of guy.

Ivan, you and I don't write anything alike. Other than the fact that we both use English! :)

Merisi, he's not a very nice guy. But on the other hand, he may turn out to be the best of a bad lot.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Awfully nice writing there.

David J. West said...

I love the metaphors and color of the setting-I need to read more.

sage said...

After "No Country for Old Men," all Texas hotel rooms are suspect... it was intense from the beginning with a surprising twist at the end.

BStearns said...

Ooooooohhh....exciting. I like it so far Charles. Do post more when you get a chance :)

Charles Gramlich said...

pattinase, thanks. I appreciate that.

David J. West, much appreciated. Thanks.

sage, I still havent' read that book but I loved the movie and will get to the book before long.

Bryan, glad you enjoyed. I appreciate the support.

laughingwolf said...

greatest gift, that wee thing called 'life'... look forward to reading it all, charles

Deka Black said...

"The road unfolded in a silver ribbon as he headed north in the wind." ---> I love this line. Madly.

Very poetic. All storys need a bit of poetry, in one or another way.

Deka Black said...

Amost forgot: sorry if the comment is too short, I'm writing right now ;)

David Cranmer said...

"It was dark outside, the moon sailing black waters above him." If it wasn't wrong I would steal that.

Very fine, sir.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

He's a killer? Now that's a twist. Leaving her alive was generous gift then.

Charles Gramlich said...

Deka, don't worry about it. I appreciate any comment and any amount of time someone spends. I"m grateful for it, knowing how busy one can get. Glad you liked it.

David Cranmer, my critique group particularly liked that line too.

Alex, a stone killer, although maybe not as bad as some in the story.

Natasha Fondren said...

Enthusiasm makes up for a bad lay? Must know, LOL!

Love it, Charles! Very vivid!

Travis Erwin said...

Very engaging. As I expected from you.

Steve Malley said...

Not sure I like opening with a wake-up, but you did it well and I don't have any better ideas. At least it wasn't weather. :-p

All in all, nicely done! REminds me a bit of that whole 'reverse-Magnificent Seven' thing in John Connolly's 'Bad Men'...

G said...

Kewl.

Love the little twist at the end. A killer with a conscience.

Charles Gramlich said...

Natasha Fondren, maybe he's not that demanding, being a Hell Dog and all.

Travis Erwin, thanks, man.

Steve Malley, interesting. I've heard good things about that Connolly book. I read it but don't remember much about it. I had to check my shelves to make sure. I've read two of his books but I like Michael Connelly's stuff better.

G, I plan for that to be important later in the book.

Travis Cody said...

I like it.

Deka Black said...

Thanks, Charles ^^ Is a matter of being concerned abourt my manners.

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis Cody, thanks, man.

Deka, your manners are always impecable.

Evan Lewis said...

This is going to be a great one.

Lana Gramlich said...

You're so talented, baby. I love your poetry snippets in the prose, too. :)

Harry Markov said...

It's good. Not exactly my type of read, but entertaining nevertheless.

Carole said...

Creepy character. Love his name though. Great job of introducing him.

Gaston Studio said...

Nice lead in and totally nice follow through Charles.

Charles Gramlich said...

Evan Lewis, thanks, man. I'm having fun with it. I love creating villains.

Lana Gramlich, thank you gorgeous.

Harry Markov, so what is your type?

Carole, I appreciate that. The name works well for him, I think.

Gaston Studio, thankee. I'm glad you enjoyed.

BernardL said...

Great hook, my friend!

Jodi MacArthur said...

This reminds me of a modern Mad Max is some cool, sick way. Love that last sentence.

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernardl, thanks, man. I'm glad you enjoyed.

Jodi, that's high praise indeed. I'm glad for the comparison. LIke that movie a lot.

jodi said...

Charles, what a tough customer! I do love his name..

Charles Gramlich said...

Jodi, there's a story behind the name as well, which will come out during the story.

Vesper said...

Cool fragment! I love it!
A very interesting character, with his laptop, and his motorbike, and his name...
I also find it interesting that you call it horror/thriller - I must think of your interview at Richard Godwin's site (really excellent interview, by the way) and wonder if this character will be "pushed to edge and then come back" or if he "will break"... :-)

Cloudia said...

I liked that and got pulled in.

Plus I LOVED my Magna and her road pegs (OK, engine guards I laid my calves across)


You da real deel, prof!



Warm Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

eric1313 said...

A modern western! At least that was what it was like for me. Cool and chilling, and not in the same cold sense, of course.

Thanks for sharing a bit of your work.

Charles Gramlich said...

Vesper, Thanks. glad you enjoyed. As for the character, I'm not sure whether he'll bend or shatter yet.

Cloudia, Magna is a great bike. Very much a good fit for me.

eric1313, there is definitely a western element to a lot of my writing. From all the reading I've done in that genre.

Heff said...

He "padded" more than once ?

The NERVE.

Erik Donald France said...

Nice and creepy -- I dig it.

Charles Gramlich said...

Heff, he's a nervy sort of guy. I figure he looks a lot like you.

Erik, thanks. Glad to hear that.

raine said...

I like the subtlety of this.
Verra nice.

Akasha Savage. said...

Loved it. Loved his gift. Loved the fact he has a motorbike. Loved the writing. Good stuff. :)

Jess said...

I was dying to know what the gift was. Thought it might be the poem. Life! Wow.

I feel like a kid who's got hands over face but peeking through fingers. Looking forward to more but just a little scared.

Charles Gramlich said...

raine, I appreciate that.

Akasha Savage, thanks. It's the same bike I used to have before I got run off the road by someone and totaled it.

Jess, Layne is that kind of guy! Thanks for reading.

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

Wow ~ I really enjoyed this, and you got me! I was wondering what he might have left her...great twist! Your descriptions are spot on. I could see the room and hear the sounds. Cool!

Charles Gramlich said...

Kathleen, thanks very much. Glad you liked it.

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

I LOVED it!

Dayana Stockdale said...

I did enjoy! Smooth voice, great flow, and of course--intriguing!