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Snippet Sunday: Gruesome Discovery

      Today’s excerpt comes from my current WIP: WT: Incandescence. It is from a scene in Part One in which our sibling protagonists have just heard a weak cry for help in the distance. Naturally, being the good kids they are, Mike & Hannah immediately try to help.
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      They crashed through the foliage. Hannah slipped on some wet leaves and stumbled on behind him, but he did not dare stop for her. Not for anything. That voice – the child it belonged to – needed help.
      Suddenly he found that his boots were crunching upon gravel rather than underbrush. He stopped short having at last found the source of the cries.
      About one hundred yards up the narrow gravel road there was a head-on collision. Hannah moved to dash toward the wreckage, but Michael held her back, observing for a long moment. There as no steam, no smoke, no audible dripping or frankly, any sound but the increasingly minute sobs of a child. Motioning to her to stay put, Michael approached slowly and was physically sickened by the carnage.
      A little red, open-topped Jeep – not so different from his own, though perhaps ten years older – had exploded against the grill of a monstrous, jacked-up four-by-four Ford. So had its occupants. Whoever had been driving the Jeep was now a brownish-red splotch of gore upon the dash. Michael was not sure if it were all damage from the crash or if the scavengers had feasted on the remains. The front passenger was not quite as bad off, though equally as dead, for her limbs appeared to be in tact and her torso had not been smashed as thoroughly. Unfortunately, her face was horrific, bloody pulp. One eye, a pretty blue one, dangled obscenely from the socket. The other was gone entirely.
      Had he eaten in the past twenty-four hours, he would have lost his stomach contents there on the side of the road.
      “Stay back,” he groaned, heaving again. Then he mastered himself and drew the collar of his shirt up over his nose and mouth.
      There had been a third passenger in the Jeep, but the young man had been ejected and lay sprawled across the hood of the Ford. He had lived long enough to soil himself despite compound fractures of both arms that left disturbingly white edges of bones jabbing up through the bloody flesh. Or maybe his bowels had released as he died, Michael really was not sure how it worked. Maybe he exsanguinated, Michael found himself thinking as he edged closer to the door of the truck, looking for the child. A massive puddle of blood had pooled beneath him and dripped down to the gravel road. After years of watching CSI reruns, Michael knew that a human being could not lose that much blood and survive.
      Surprisingly – or not, if you happened to be a fan of heavy-duty American pick-up trucks – the Ford appeared to have suffered only minimal damage. Though the front bumper was crushed and the hood dented, both were superficial. Michael imagined that if he had needed to, he could have started that beast up and driven it away. He thanked God that though he needed a vehicle, he was not in such dire straights that he would even consider removing the bodies and climbing in.
      “Mike? Did you find him?” Hannah had remained back, as directed, but she was leaning to one side as if she could get an angle to see inside the Ford. He shook his head at her, laying his index finger upon his lips, then turned back to the truck. On tip-toe, Michael moved around to the driver’s seat.
      The woman was dead but seemed unmolested by the wildlife, perhaps because her window was raised and her door closed. Michael could not immediately tell how she had died, but the livid bruise upon her right temple may have had something to do with it. He could not see though the tinted windows into the back of the extended cab, so he worked his way around the bed – in which he saw a shovel, a pick-axe and a wheel-barrel along with a lawnmower and other gardening implements.
      The passenger’s door hung an inch or two ajar and there were obvious, limping tracks leading north from the road. For a moment or two, Michael considered trying to follow the person, who was likely local and knew the way out of the woods. Then he heard a weak cough and his heart sank – that did not sound good.
      Cautiously, Michael peeked into the front seat and then opened the passenger side door. The child in the back perked up slightly, coughing again and asking for his Mommy. With the utmost care, Michael climbed over the seat and gave the kid a once-over, looking for obvious injuries. He found none.
      “It’ll be okay, kid, shush now. I gotcha,” Michael cooed, unfastening the seatbelt and trying to remove him from the complicated straps. The boy felt cool to the touch and gave no resistence as he was pulled from the carseat; Michael would have felt better about it if he had cried and bit and kicked.
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      And that’s it for today’s snippet. What did you think? Too much? Poor kid. In my original outline, he didn’t make it. Somehow, in the actual writing of the scene, Hannah refused to let that happen and managed to save him. For now. Comments, questions, suggestions appreciated – let me hear about it below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Snippet Sunday: A Fool Indeed

      Welcome to Snippet Sunday at PP.net! This week’s excerpt comes from my current WIP, WT: Incandescence and features a 102-year-old great-great-grandmother tromping through the wilderness with her descendants, Michael & Hannah.
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      “Ah, you had to be there, I guess,” she fanned herself, still giggling at the memory of Giacomo fainting dead away there on the side of county road three-twenty-three. It was strange how there were some moments of her vast years which were crisp and clear as one of those high definition television sets, yet others were foggy at best.
      Now, as she walked in silence beside her great-great-grandchildren, [OLDLADYNAME] glanced back over her shoulder. She could hardly make out the clearing from this distance, even knowing exactly where it lay. It felt as if they had been marching through the forest for hours, days even. Her arthritic knees were screaming with each step, though she voiced no complaint. The head of her cane wore an imprint into her palm and though she switched hands from time to time, the pain followed, like glass grinding into the knobby joints of every finger on either hand.
      It occurred to her that she really had no idea where they were headed. East, Michael had said, away from the carnage. The sun sets in the west, so we just have to head in the opposite direction.
      Although that was prudent, [OLDLADYNAME] did not see how walking in a straight line, possibly into the deep wilderness of wherever they were – because they had no idea where the inexplicable event (that was how they had chosen to think of it, rather than discuss it in earnest) had dropped them.
      For all that she had lived in Washington her entire life, [OLDLADYNAME] has not terribly familiar with its many regions. She had been born in Seattle and lived on the penninsula – near the coast – ever since. Her geographic knowledge of the Eastern half of the state was allegorical; things she had read, or seen on television, or been told, but nothing she knew from experience. In fact, she reflected as she limped alongside her grandchildren, both of whom had shortened their long strides to accomodate her ungainly pace, she could not even remember the last time she had crossed the Cascades.
      Tromping through the forest at one-hundred and two years old was a foolish idea, she decided. She had begun to wheeze, sweating despite the cold, and her feet felt swollen inside her shoes. She hated to be a burden to the children, but there was no choice. A forced march with no water, no food, and no idea what had happened or where they were was terrible.
      “Dafuzina, please,” she croaked, stopping to lean against a sturdy Ponderosa pine. She had not spoken since the last stone was set upon Adina’s makeshift grave and it scratched her throat and wounded her pride, to have to beg now. “I need to rest.”
      Hannah, proving herself more empathetic than she often seemed, rushed back to her side and helped her to sit down. [OLDLADYNAME] felt old for the first time in many years. She had always been hale, healthy as a thoroughbred with strong eyes and more endurance than she had ever needed. There had been an appendectomy when she was in her fifties and of course, some of the typical ailments of age, but she had hardly been sick a day in her life and even childbirth had been fairly easy for her. Today she felt as if all the aches and pains and illnesses she had avoided in the past century had been dumped upon her at once.
      She was afraid that she would die.
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      Yes, I have omitted the old woman’s name in the snippet. Mostly, because I am waiting to hear back from my beta readers to see if they think it should remain or be changed. But otherwise, what do you think? Comments, questions, suggestions – let me hear them below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Snippet Sunday: Sociopathic Tendencies

Snippet Sunday: Sociopathic Tendencies

      Today’s snippet is the opening of Chapter Three from the first draft of a WIP with no title just yet. I’ve referred to it alternately as Rudabet, after the protagonist, and Queendom because it features one. Either way, this chapter introduces Reeve Elsvet and she is a real piece of work.
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Chapter Three

      The hall was damnably drafty as the Reeve of Echo Bay held court. A line of petitioners stretched the length of the room and it was all she could do to refrain from rolling her eyes and heaving a sigh. Another dull, interminable afternoon wasted, she thought, turning her gaze toward the great doors at the back of the chamber. After fifteen years chained to this seat, Elsvet could tell the time of day from the light that filtered through the cracks no matter the season nor the weather. Just now, it was past noon, and she had been dispensing judgement since dawn.
      She could smell the mid-afternoon repast being set out in the anteroom, hot bread and butter, mulled wine, roast beef with thyme and basted carrots. The scents triggered memories of finer feasts and for a moment, she was a child again, marvelling at the spun sugar confections, the candied fruit pastries, braised duck, suckling pig, the puddings and mashes flavored with half-a-hundred exotic spices from places she had never even heard of, and of course, the wines. Pale gold from Gallis, deep burgundy from northern Nabarais, rich claret from Hollir and her favorite, the slightly bubbly champagne from Estros with its delicate pink color and natural sweetness.
      “…Lady Elsvet?”
      The trilling, nasal voice of her Scribe, Gunildor, interrupted her idle thoughts and dragged her, kicking and screaming, back to reality. He tapped a finger against the parchment page she held in her hand. “The guildmaster would like to request an extra twenty bushels of flour be made available to them, from the city’s own mill, to help offset the losses they took during the flood last month. Is that acceptable to you, Lady Elsvet?”
      She paused a long moment, tapping a long fingernail to her lips in a pose of exaggerated pensiveness. Best to appear thoughtful, she thought, schooling her expression and staring down at the Guildmaster with critical brown eyes.
      “Petition the seneschal on the morrow,” she said at last, standing. “If he believes we can spare the flour, then the matter is settled.” Before Gunildor or the Guildmaster could object, Elsvet lifted a hand. “Enough. I am weary. We are adjourned for the day.”
      “But, Lady Elsvet,” Gunildor began, chasing after her. The small man stumbled over his plain brown robes, struggling to match his short stride to her long-legged one. Though she was well aware of this, Elsvet did not relent, forcing him to practically run to keep up. She flung the door to her dining room open and breezed across the tiled floor, assaulted by the scents of her dinner. With a grunt, she threw herself into the plush chair at the head of the small table, one leg looped over the arm of the chair.
      “Lady Elsvet,” the scribe tried again, shuffling through the armful of parchments. “There are several vital petitions left that absolutely must be adjudicated today. For instance-”
      “Gunildor, enough! I am done listening to all these ridiculous, droning feeble-minded fools. They plague me day and night! Lower our taxes, Reeve, give us flour. The Lost Men in the forest are stealing our sheep, Reeve, send your guards in to rout them.” Elsvet scooped a fresh, hot roll from the platter and tore it open. “I am sick to death of whining petitioners. The floods were terrible, but would they not be better served if they toddled off to rebuild their hovels rather than stink up my Audience Hall?”
      Gunildor ducked his head, hiding his expression behind a veil of stringy brown hair. Though he had served the Reeve of Echo Bay for only two years, his time in the position eclipsed all five of his predecessors by at least six months. He was accustomed to her fickleness, her tempestuous nature, her queer, quiet calms and even her occasional fits of rage. Yet somehow, she still surprised him from time-to-time, usually when her utter lack of empathy reached a new low.
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      And that’s that. Hope you enjoyed it. As always, please comment, add suggestions, questions, whatever you have to say below. I look forward to next Sunday, when I should have a snippet from WT: Incandescence ready to share.

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Snippet Sunday: Light Of Lun

Snippet Sunday: Light Of Lun

      What follows is the first of (probably) many snippets which I hope to post here. It is the opening of Chapter Two in the first draft of a project my partner & I began a couple of years ago. Its current working title is The Light of Lun, but I can almost guarantee that that will change. I apologize in advance for the naughty language – but if you knew this character as well as I do, you would not be surprised by it. *grin*
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Chapter Two

      Snow smothered the land, crushing grasses and flowers with its heavy,
white girth. It weighed down the boughs of naked trees and heaped upon
bushes and hedges until they split beneath the onslaught. It blurred
out the graceful lines of the buildings and left everything looking
like unwieldy, awkward clumps of white mud. Piles of dung.
      Steaming, hideous piles of shit.
      She hated the snow, despised the cold, abhorred ice. She fucking
hated the confining clothes that she was forced to wear to protect
delicate flesh from its black, frozen touch. She hated this land,
hated the necessity of it; she hated that her brethren had taken to
using ice and cold in all its destructive forms against their wayward
enemy.
      Eyes like chips of the bluest sapphire surveyed the surrounding area.
Nothing moved. The blizzard that had obscured the moons all night
seemed to have buried everything and everyone – a solid, heavy, white
coffin that had closed upon the entire world. She snorted at the
thought. Everyone except me. And, she allowed glancing to her left,
her, I guess.
      She was a hunter and needed no heeled-shoe bitch chasing around
behind her, killing her stealth and announcing their presence with her
dramatic looks and the flash of her jewel-tipped staff in the cold
sunlight. Yet here they were, a team, a pair…partners.
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      And that’s a start. Hope you enjoyed it. Any comments? Suggestions? Requests for more? Let me know below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P. <3