Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Hallow's Eve

Here is a discarded prologue from my novel in progress. It reveals too much about the beast too early in the story and wastes all that emotional involvement from the reader on a secondary character. I will most likely rewrite this part to feature my main character, Meridee, and place it later in the novel. However, I thought it set a perfect mood for tonight's festivities even if the fog here is white instead of smokey black…

Spooky Rock in Columbia Gorge - (cc) stewickie

A black, smokey fog roiled at Laurana Brady’s feet as she scrambled through the brush. The fog rushed along the forest floor as if searching for the twelve-year-old, hiding all it passed from view. Looking back, she saw blackness where trees should be; smoke where there should be sky. The fog spread out from the blackness like dry ice over a stage as she ran with all her strength. Then suddenly she felt pain as she slammed into a fallen tree.

Laurana pitched forward and somersaulted onto her back, letting go of her Grandfather’s tinwhistle that she had been clutching tightly. Looking upward she could still see the overcast sky. Swirling fog as thick as paint began to roll over her. A panic deep inside began to swell in her chest and became a scream.

“Keep moving! Keep moving!” she shouted to herself as she clambered off her back onto her knees. Desperately she flailed around for the tinwhistle, fingers grasping at leaves and twigs on the unseen forest floor. Finding it off to her right, she gripped the thin rod with whitened knuckles.

Laurana stumbled forward and began running again. The air clung to her clothes in the muggy heat and matted her short, brown bangs with sweat. The fog had gained on her and was up to her knees now, pooling around her legs, but she was more concerned about what was in the fog.

Far behind her she could hear something — a high pitched growl — almost song-like but not any song she would pump through earphones. Frantically, she whipped her head left and right looking for a familiar landmark, but she was too far into Hoxie Hollow to know where she was. All she saw where the murky silhouettes of trees.

The sky began to darken, and the rain that had finally let up after three days began to fall from the sky again in a misty drizzle. Still she kept running. The forest began to slope upward giving her hope that she was escaping the hollow.

Looming out of the fog ahead of her was an ancient stone wall, one of many that littered the forests of New England. As she cleared the wall and headed further uphill, the fog crashed against the wall in waves, spilling over the top and ruffling towards her.

Perhaps sensing that its prey was escaping, the beast within the darkness growled keener causing a surge of blackness to pounce over her. In complete darkness she struggled up the hill, hearing the scrabbling of claws behind her. Branches lashed her face and scraped her bare limbs. Small hillside trees tripped and bruised her. Then suddenly she was falling as she stepped off of the hill into open air.

A steeper slope greeted Laurana as she hit the ground, falling out of darkness and into day as she tumbled downward through trees and over stones. A flash of white pain silenced her panicked thoughts, and her limp form continued its way down the hillside. As she came to a silent rest against another stone wall, the drizzle became a downpour.

High above, something inside the dark fog wailed and screeched towards the sky.

© 2009 Douglas R. Cootey