Boy Between: Rough First Chapter

rough

The writing has begun.

Last week was all about planning out the fourteen chapters of the novella I’m working on. The funnel starter for a little fantasy/horror series. Well. Maybe it’s more of a novelette. I’m aiming for it to be around fourteen thousand or so words. A quick read.

This week, I start to actually write the thing. Which is exciting. I won’t do this for the whole book, I don’t think, but I thought I’d pop up the first chapter. It’s pretty much unedited, only tweaked for spelling, so may very well be rough as hell. At the point of writing this post, I literally finished the chapter about five minutes ago. So this may be a terrible idea. You may read this and think ‘What a pile of bum-plop’, and you may well be right.

Ah well.

Be interesting, when I’ve finished and polished the whole book, to look back at this post and perhaps put up the chapter in its final form, see how it’s changed. Or how it hasn’t.

Anyway, here you go. Enjoy? I guess??

Boy Between: First Chapter, First Draft.

This sort of thing happens all the time. More often than you’d think, really. Wherever the dark night falls and tired eyes falter.

Sam didn’t know that of course, because no one really does. The only people who do are those who it’s already happened to, and who are they in a position to tell?

‘What voice?’ Asked Sam’s Mum, with her thin frizz hair and red plump face.

‘I don’t know.’ Said Sam, prodding with suspicion at the sickly grey mash on the plate before him. Sam wasn’t much more than a small boy, eight years old at best, though he’d swear blind he was touching nine to anyone who didn’t know better.

‘Well there either is a voice or there isn’t.’ Said Sam’s Dad, ‘And there isn’t. Obviously. But if there was and you’d heard it, you’d know what sort of voice it was. Seeing as there wasn’t one, you don’t. QED.’ His coal shovel hands straightened his newspaper by way of punctuation.

Sam attempted to push a small amount of the mash to the back of his throat, but failed to completely bypass his taste buds. ‘There was a voice. I think.’

‘Now just stop it,’ Said Mum, ‘You’re too old for monsters under the bed. Act your age.’

Dad peered over the top of his newspaper at Sam, eyes narrowed like he was examining a specimen in a lab. ‘You know I never believed in all that nonsense growing up. I had a straight head on my shoulders. Things that go bump in the night is for soft-brains.’ He snorted and straightened his paper again, eyes darting away from a squirming Sam at last.

Sam often got the feeling that his Dad didn’t really like him. Which was okay by him. You can’t like everyone. In fact, the feeling was pretty mutual. His Dad was too fierce and distant. Always talking about all the different medals he won as a kid, playing football, and rugby, and tennis, and swimming, and on, and on. He could’ve been the countries next sporting hero, the way he told it. As opposed to what he actually was. Which was… something to do with numbers. Money. In a bank, maybe. Something like that.

Not so much the sporty type now, he’d three chins and a stomach that sat over his belt, hanging down to obscure the buckle. Sam had once seen his Dad roaming the house in just his boxer shorts, his upper body was like a pink, bulbous fungus bursting from a pair of twigs. He was a heart attack in the making, Sam was sure of that. He’d thought about designing a health and fitness regime for him, even looked up a few routines and recipes, then realised he’d probably be much happier with just his Mum.

Sam successfully negotiated a mouthful past his taste buds, swallowing the cold, lumpen mass un-chewed and with a shiver as it went down.

‘A voice,’ Said Mum, shaking her head, ‘You know Val never gets any nonsense like this from her Todd.’

The blessed Todd. Sent by our Lord and Saviour to make Sam look like crap.

‘Fine boy, Todd,’ Said Dad, ‘Won the under tens rugby tournament almost singlehandedly last month, you know. Four tries and seven conversions. Seven! Fine boy, yes. Fine boy.’ Sam felt the narrowed eyes briefly slither over him before they returned to the news of the day.

‘Make anyone proud, a child like that.’ Said Mum, smiling wistfully, her eyes turned vacant as she looked into an unrealised reality.

Sam was under no illusions as to what his Mum thought of him. If his Dad seemed to resent him and his disinterest (and plain lack of ability) in sport, then his Mum had chosen a different path, settling into a comfortable disappointment. Sam could deal with being disappointing. You knew where you were with disappointing. Resentment was uneasy, threatening, violent, but disappointed was like a cosy blanket. He supposed that’s why he still loved his Mum. He could hardly blame her. He was disappointing.

‘Maybe there wasn’t a voice. I was probably just dreaming stuff.’ Said Sam.

‘You don’t say, genius.’ Said Dad, this time not bothering to drag his eyes away from the paper. Sam finished the rest of his tea in silence as his Mum regaled them with a story about how Todd had arrived home the previous Friday with a bunch of flowers for his Mum. ‘No reason, he’d just thought she’d like them..!’

Sam wished an early death upon Todd. Nothing too painful. He wasn’t a monster.

###

Sam slipped on his Batman pyjamas and checked again that the door was shut. He didn’t like it being open when he was in bed, who knows what could silently slip in as he slept, unguarded.

‘Things that go bump in the night is for soft-brains.’

Sam gave his Dad a mental middle-finger and checked again in the wardrobe. A rack of ironed shirts and trousers greeted him. No monsters.

Next he knelt by the bed, breathing in once or twice to settle his nerves before he ducked down sharply to see what lurked beneath. Nothing but an abandoned sock, a broken water pistol and a few books.

He stood and shook his head. Soft-Brain. He clambered under the cool covers, springs squeaking their complaint, and turned off the bedside lamp. Within minutes, sleep took him…

…That night Sam heard a voice,

and for as long as his eyes were closed,

he remembered.

@MattStottWrites

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