Today I talk about writing, rewriting, and the novel that I co-wrote over the last year with Katherine Guevara.
The first in a series of stream of conciousness podcasts aimed at consolidating my thoughts on development, writing, and communication.
Here is the third installment of Shadow People. I have a few ideas on where the story should go from here, so it might be a bit before the next installment. If you want to read more of this story though, comment on it. Nothing motivates me more than people interested in the things that I do. I hope you are enjoying the story so far, and now, on with the story.
Three days later, I found myself distressingly back to normal, blessedly back to normal. At least my outward routine hadn’t changed. I told my wife that I had hit a deer, and the car was in the body shop for repairs. I however, would take a lot longer to get over that late night incident. I’m still not over it actually.
“Max. Max? Hey Man!” At the shove on my shoulder, I shook myself out of my memories for the fifth time that day, and focused up on my boss, Terry. He’s a large man, made larger from years sitting in a chair looking at code on a screen. Which is the same thing I do, and only through decent genetics have I avoided the worst of the weight gain that most people in my line of work get as they get older; though I am by no means thin. “Sorry Terry, must be the lunch catching up with me.” He frowned, “We have to get this thing out the door tonight. Quit daydreaming and get into it!” He walked off with a “hmpf,” and with him went most of my drive to code. I tried for the sixth time to get back into the code that I was working on. It’s not brain surgery, just a financial web site, but the client wanted it out yesterday and was paying my company big bucks to make it happen. Were we going to see any of that money? Nope. Which is why I have been spending most of the last month at the computer, up late, and is the reason I was on that road at 3am to meet my date with fate.
I hunkered down for the last few hours of the day, leaving after 7pm, late again. My wife wouldn’t be happy, heck I wasn’t. Once again, it was getting dark as I left the building. I hurried a bit to my rental car, a fairly nice one, well at least nicer than the 5 year old car that was currently in the shop. I just didn’t want to be outside when the sun finally did go down. Turns out, that was a good thing.
I was driving home, avoiding “the road”, as I had ever since the accident. It was a longer route, but I didn’t want to be anywhere around there since that night three days ago. It didn’t matter. As I was coming down the hill near my house, I saw them. The shadows out of the corner of my eye, the ones that I used to see all the time on the road. I leaned forwards to get a better look out my window. Like that ever helps. It made me feel more alert though. My hands grew cold, and I don’t mean from the temperature, I mean they grew cold. My breath started to steam up as it passed over the top of my hands, and I knew that wasn’t a good sign. They hurt a little, like I had just shoved my warm hands into wet snow, but I wasn’t going to pay attention to that when I was seeing those shadows outside. I was coming up fast on the stop sign at the end of the street, just a few blocks away from my home. I debated about running it, but saw that there were cars already there, so running it would mean running into one. I really didn’t want to stop, but I didn’t want to get into an accident and have to get out of my car even less. I’m still not sure if I should have stopped, but I did, and that is when they came.
I pulled up short at the stop sign, the tires screeching a bit. I had every intent to start up again as soon as it was my turn to go, but I never got that chance. The shadows that I had been seeing, the ones shaped like people, that always got out of the way before, didn’t. They got closer instead. Suddenly, the only light that I could see was that of my gauges on my car, and the reflection of them in the windows. Everything else was pitch black. I was terrified. I couldn’t move, even though I knew I just needed to pull my foot off the break. I couldn’t move, because I could see faces, faces in the blackness. The faces were similar to the one I saw three nights ago, but each was different, like a ghostly people. Each was looking at me. It seemed forever, them staring at me, me staring back. I half wondered what it looked like outside the car, if anyone else was engulfed in the blackness, probably me just sitting in my car, the car just sitting there at the stop sign. I slowly raised my hands in a conciliatory gesture. When I did, all eyes went from mine, to my hands. I swear I saw several of those eyes widen, and then they all disappeared back into the dusk. My world returned to normal, instantly, and my hands began to warm up. The intersection was empty, all the cars must have gone while I sat there encased in shadowy forms. I slowly looked at my hands, backs, then palms, nothing strange to the eyes. So I put them back on the wheel and slowly started through the intersection. I drove the rest of the way back to my house in silence, and blessedly uneventfully.
I pulled the car into the garage, not sputtering, but still giving off noises that told me that it had taken some fairly expensive abuse. It was then, as the garage door shut and I turned off the engine that I said my first words since the accident. “Shit! Shit, shit shit!” I’ve never been one for flowery cursing. “Damnit!” I shouted in the confines of my car, slamming the heals of my hands into the steering wheel time and time again. I cried a little. “Fuck! I just killed someone! Something at least, what the hell was he?” I got out of the car, squeezing out since the garage is crammed on my side. I went around the back of the car, avoiding the lawn mower at the front of the car. I got over to the front passenger side of the car, where I had hit the man, and looked at the streak of blood on the hood. I sort of just stood there, staring. It looked human, red and dark, but the man had disappeared. “Ok, ok. So what the heck do I do now? The guy is gone, Damn.” I was coming down off my adrenaline, and the fact that it was 3am was starting to catch up to me. Moving to the workshop I grabbed a rag and toweled off the blood, making sure I got all of it that I could see. “Going to have to tell people I hit a deer.” I took the rag with me into the house, and rooting through the kitched drawers, pulled out a Ziplock bag and stuffed the rag into it; sealing it shut.
As I watched my hands I started talking to myself again, which is fairly normal when I am under stress. “Ok, ok, not sleeping tonight. What in the heck was that guy? I mean I always wanted there to be stuff out there, but never really believed it. Ok, maybe I did when I was a kid, but not for a while now. Even then I knew that it wasn’t real.” The soap, got to have soap. “So what do I do now? Look into it obviously, but how? If there were one of them, there have to be more.” At that thought, I remembered the feeling of people looking on just before I left the scene. I took a moment to flip on the lights above the sink in the kitchen. Then, hands still wet, turned on the main lights as well, suddenly afraid of a shadowy reprisal. I looked over both shoulders, just to make sure nothing was there. Luckily, nothing was.
I finished washing my hands, and dried them off. Moving to the living room, I turned on all the lights, and sat on the couch. It’s a nice couch, comfortable, but sometimes takes my body heat and turns it around and heats me up. It was then that I saw the remote across the room, got up, and turned on the tv with it. Returning to the couch, I dropped into it, and slouched. Flipping channels until the sun came up.