This is my last blog of October and I can proudly say I managed to meet the mission of NaBloWriMo and post a blog every day in October. Tomorrow I change modes and become a frenzied writer for NoNoWriMo and will probably fall back to my 5 days a week pattern that I had carried before October. As Insanity descends fully, blogs will probably cease to make sense and I will babble incoherently. Never mind about that though, the Typical Tart will return in December (soon if the novel gets finished, which... I have an odd history of meeting my deadlines early because I hate it when things loom...)
All secret service workers are paranoid. Everybody knows that. What they don't know, is they don't start that way. They are made that way--made that way because it saves lives. Liza Dahlmer has worked for a super secret agency for the last fifteen years instilling that paranoia through any means necessary, but what happens when the tables are turned?
In the meantime, I am leaving you with a Halloween excerpt from CONFLUENCE. It is a fun one...
Jessie had been happy to help Hannah with her costume, and it had been fairly easy. After all her years working with plays, she’d be a poor specimen if she couldn’t put together a pair of wings. She’d even already had the royal blue netting from a skirt she had worn for a strange fantasy production where she played a pixie.
On Saturday though, she passed on the pumpkin patch with Trish and her siblings. It didn’t sound like her kind of thing. Instead, she’d accepted Brian’s offer to go to a haunted barn. After some discussion they decided it was a group activity. Jessie invited Coqui and Lainey, and Brian invited Axe and Dave.
At seven Brian, Axe and Dave picked up Jessie and she guided them to Coqui’s where Lainey was also waiting.
Ms. Dexter was excited for them and had to snap a picture once Axe, Coqui, Lainey and Dave were arranged in the back of Axe’s truck. She winked at Jessie as they all drove off.
A skeleton waited at a gate, counted people and charged them their entry fee, handing Brian the receipt.
“This worth it?” Brian asked the skeleton.
“Scared the flesh off my bones,” the skeleton answered dryly.
They drove into a field of mud that was, fortunately, fairly frosted so they didn’t sink into it. As they parked, Jessie heard Lainey shriek and looked back to see a death mask fall below the tailgate.
“Nice. Started already,” Brian grinned.
There was a bang on Jessie’s window at which she started and said, “I’m coming out your side.”
Brian opened the door and hopped out, extending his hand to Jessie. Jessie could hear Lainey swearing and Coqui and Axe laughing. Dave just wore a smirk.
Lighting cast the parking lot in long shadows. Looking back they could see a few figures bobbing and lurching among the cars.
“Excellent!” Axe said as they walked, and then swore when somebody jumped out next to him then disappeared.
As they approached the line outside the door of the barn, they could hear screams and shrieks from inside, as well as the sounds that would accompany nearly any frightening situation they could imagine.
Suddenly a seven foot tall monster lurched out of the barn with a screaming girl on his shoulder. She appeared to be a normal visitor fighting to free herself. The Frankenstein looked at all the people and began to run away around the far side of the barn. A young man ran breathlessly after them. “Marie!” He chased them.
“Wicked,” Coqui said.
“That wasn’t real was it?” Lainey asked.
“Earth to Lainey… Frankenstein…”
“No! I mean the kidnapping. Did they really kidnap someone?”
“They’ve been doing this haunted barn for like… twenty years. If it was real, this place would have been shut down.”
Lainey didn’t look convinced and Dave draped an arm charitably around her shoulder which seemed to calm her. Jessie smirked at Dave.
It took almost twenty minutes to reach the front of the line and then a kindly, mystic looking woman carefully asked them whether their wills were in order and were they carrying an appropriate selection of poison antidotes. She checked their receipts, a light flashed, and she waved them through a door. Behind the door was a set of stairs, vaguely lit, which led to another door.
Through this door there appeared to be a stack of lightly lit coffins, though as soon as Axe and Coqui had cleared the door, it slammed shut behind them and all went black.
“Shit!” Lainey complained.
There was a dot of red light, but nothing else. “I guess we go to that light?” Jessie suggested.
Suddenly a coffin next to her burst open and someone reached out to grab at them, a faint light emanated from the coffin so all else looked even blacker and only the corpse could be seen.
The whole building was like that, shadowed vision, blackness, something jumping out… chain saws, car engines, human grasping arms. Jessie had never been in a scarier haunted house, yet, she was able to maintain her rational ‘this isn’t real’ in the back of her mind… until the moment she was actually grabbed.
“Holy crap! Brian!” And she was pulled off to a room where she was blindfolded.
“Trust us,” she heard. “We picked you because you can handle it. We need a customer a few times a night to keep it real.”
As she was shuttled down some sort of corridor she felt her hand scrape on something. “Crap! Ouch!"
“I think I cut myself.”
She felt herself seated, “here, use this.” A tissue was put in her hand and she wrapped it around the back of her hand. She felt her face being painted, her hair was ratted, a ragged, ripped coat was thrown on her. Her hand seemed better and the girl doing her make-up confirmed that it looked fine. Then she was scuttled down a corridor, un-blindfolded. A hot vampire winking hat her, took her tissue, and put her into what looked like an open grave. “Your friends are the next ones through, beg for help,” he instructed.
Jessie appreciated the brilliant theatrics at work. The people who’d taken her disappeared and another door opened.
“Brian!” She called.
“What the… Jessie, what happened?”
“Down here!” And then a light glowed by her foot.
Lainey screamed, “Oh my god, they killed her!”
“Help me out!” Jessie pleaded.
Brian and Dave pulled her out and then a cackling man rushed through the next door. Brian and Dave both clung tight to Jessie as he grabbed her arm, so he kept running.
There was one last scare as the floor seemed to crumble, but they only fell about six inches and then they saw the last red dot of light and burst out into the exit area.
“Holy shit that was scary! Oh my f***ing gawd!” Lainey was beside herself and even Coqui and Brian looked shaken. Axe looked confused, as if he thought he’d been tricked. Only Dave and Jessie seemed to be adjusted.
“Photo of your petrified selves?” A voice offered from behind a counter.
They stepped over. The man looked at them and pulled up a shot on a computer screen. “You,” he pointed at Jessie. “For being a good sport, you get one on the house. Everyone else, five bucks a print.”
“I’ll explain later,” Jessie said.
Brian and both girls bought a photograph of the six of them looking horrified. It was a funny picture.
Back in town at a diner Jessie explained over desserts.
“Well I’d be jealous except everyone here keeps staring at you like you’re insane,” Coqui offered.
It hasn't gone through my final polish, but I thought it was fun an Halloweenish... so there you go...
Have a great Halloween!