Sneak Peak: Journal into Madness


I participated in NaNoWriMo last November (National Novel Writing Month). I wrote my fingers off, and actually came up with a decent story.

I took a couple months off, and then went back and edited it. There are always little formatting glitches, wrong usage, and words like "not eh" that ought to be "no the" but the spell checker doesn't catch it.
It should be available though Pay As You Exit Publishing by Valentine's Day, or the week after, and I'm super excited about it. 

So, without further ado, a sneak peak from my novel, Journal Into Madness, a detective noir/Lovecraftian horror set in modern time.

Prologue

She walked into the small loft, fairly wreaking with curiosity. No one had ever called her, specifically, to a crime scene before. Stepping daintily over the stacks of books, and around the boxes, she was drawn ever closer to the center of the room, this office at the top of the stairs in an old carriage house. There was something ominous about the entire situation, starting as it had under the bright, artificial lights of her examination room, yet ending here in the cobweb strewn darkness, only broken now by police spotlights, and a small, elegant lamp sitting precariously atop a stack of leather-bound books.

"Oh, Doc, you’re here," the detective in charge turned to speak to her, obviously troubled. He moved to interpose himself between her, and a view of the chair behind the desk. He nervously ran his fingers through his thinning white hair, "I've never seen the like, Doctor, but that agent over there gave the go-ahead and so I need you to sign for this." He handed her a large envelope containing what felt to be a journal of sorts. "Her parents don't want it back when you're done, they wanted to keep all of her case files—that's that this is-- but her Mum says she left it for you, for a reason. Doesn't know, or care, what the reason is. You'll have to ask her for sure, but she said something about you two being like sisters, so you'll have something to remember her by. So you can do whatever you want with it."

She took the envelope, warily, turning it over in her hands. "Is she dead?" the doctor asking the strangest, and most obvious question, but the only one that would come out; the one question she didn't want to hear answered in the affirmative.

The officer's right eyebrow crept up, almost to his hairline. He wasn't sure if he was supposed to comfort this woman, or be blunt with her. Blunt won out, "Yeah, she shot herself in her heart with her pistol. She cleaned up everything, even put on a plastic bag, so there was very little mess. She really thought this through." He shook his head, sadly. He looked directly at the doctor, "Dr. Maddox, was she crazy?"

"No, I don't think so," Theodora Maddox said after a few moments. "I think she was deeply troubled about her last case. She never told me anything about work-- confidentiality and all that. She would talk instead about the various people she spoke to, or the funny things she saw. But no, I don't think she was crazy. I think she was very scared, very lonely, and probably depressed. But not crazy."

"What color was her hair?" the officer near her cabinets asked.

"Hair? It was brown, she had long, dark brown hair," Dr. Maddox said, puzzlement dancing across her face.
"Brown, you're certain?" At her nod, he made a note in his little pocket notebook, and repeated her to the rest of the crew gathering evidence.

"Why are you so surprised, did she shave her head or something?" she asked.

The officer in charge turned behind him, and carefully pulled a white sheet down about four inches. Instead of a glorious mane of chestnut hair, Theodora saw only white strands. "Her hair is completely white. Not bleached, no evidence of that. It's just white, and it's the strangest thing."

Dr. Maddox nodded to herself, it was indeed the strangest thing: she was only 35.

Signing the slip, she took possession of the medium sized, leather folio tucked away in a large manilla envelope. Peeking inside, Theodora got a whiff of perfectly-cured leather and ink. There was a thick, heavy pen inside the book. It smelled new, but Theodora knew she bought them in bulk, and kept them sealed up to protect them against mould. It was one of her oddest quirks, writing like she did, but it was her, and everyone who knew her, knew she wrote. Feverishly, almost as if possessed at times, but always she wrote; always long hand, with beautiful fountain pens. She said it calmed her down, and helped her not completely lose hope in humanity. Amidst the murderers, cheating spouses, missing parents, lost children, missing heirs, she felt that if humans could create something as lovely as a perfect fountain pen and leather-bound folio, then things would be all right.

Maddox crept outside again, into the cool summer morning air, and took a deep shuddering breath. She did not know if she could process the news right now. She felt her composure hanging by a thin thread, and made haste to leave the small house at the end of Cemetery Road. Ironic, she though, dead on Cemetery Road, and there is no cemetery there to be buried in. The graveyard had been moved a century before, but no one changed the street's name. She had always loved living in that tiny little house, the sexton's house in former days, laughing about being in the safest neighbourhood. "No one bothers you here, they’re all afraid of the ghosts of the people who were buried here."

Theodora felt her eyes pricking with unrealized tears, and slid quickly into the driver's seat. She peeked into the envelope, again, seeing the letter that caused her to be called out there to begin with. Sliding it out of the smaller envelope, scribed with her name, and sealed with a dollop of sparkly purple sealing wax, another affectation that spoke volumes of the writer. She propped the letter against her steering wheel, hearing the voice of her dead cousin:

Theo:
My dearest Cuz. I'm sorry that you're the one getting this book. You're really the only one I can trust to do with it what I want done. I know my Mum will read it, but she will discount it completely. She doesn’t believe half of my cases, let alone something like this. Hells, I would discount this... but I hope you don't.

Some where out there, in this world is some thing, Some One awful... and I think He is coming awake. What will happen when He wakes up, well, it fills me with dread, my throat closes up, my heart races and my vision starts to darken-- like when you faint. But I don't faint, I just sit here, having something very much like a panic attack.

This case that I took, I should have listened when they told me leave it alone. But I thought it was the usual "Leave Us Alone blah blah blah" BS that happens in this business. I decided that I couldn’t handle it any more. The nightmares, the night terrors, the weird visitations, I've been on anti-anxiety for the whole summer now, and even that last bottle of anti-psychotics didn't help... so I don't think I'm thinking this stuff up...

Because it's happening to me all the time now, I just can't take it.

I tried to burn the book, but it won't catch. It ought to catch, but it didn't. I even doused it with lighter fluid, but it all just rolled off-- like the leather was plastic or something. I'm sure you can find something to destroy this thing with. Please, for me?

Forgive me, Theo. I know we were supposed to retire to St. Croix together, to travel the world as little old ladies in gigantic red hats. I can't. I can't do this.

I love you, Cuz.
-M

Starting her car, she pointed it toward her office. Tears slid softly down her face. She intended to clear her schedule, send some flowers, make a casserole, visit with the family as they sat shivah. The journal could wait.



(C) E. Crawford, 2011
PAYE is a small publishing company that has branched off my friend Dan's music label, and we'll be making use of Amazon's easy to use self-publishing. I love the internet! It will even be available if you want a paperback; I'll even sign it for you, and ship it directly to your house!

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