Starting the Week of Right (Novel Sneak Peek)
Joel’s Journal - January 14, 2018 - Volume 3 - Entry #14
This weekend was an excellent chance for me to recover from the madness that was last week, as I get prepared to do it all over again. There’s lots of follow-up to do on both the fires that happened last week, and the city’s budget deliberations are this week. I’ve already written about how important this one is.
However, I don’t want to talk about reporting in today’s entry, I think we dealt enough with that heaviness last week.
I want to talk about my novel, and I actually want to share a bit of it with you!
Yes, it’s something I’ve done in the past when I’m feeling particularly happy about how things are progressing, and right now, the story is rolling out the red carpet for me.
Each time I sit down at the computer in the morning (which has been a consistent 14 days so far), the words just start flowing, despite the fact that most of the time it’s before six in the morning.
With that said, below is a scene I wrote this morning. It’s a couple thousand words of fresh and raw fiction right fresh my my brain to yours.
Perhaps Stephen King was right, writing is like telepathy.
And as always, thanks for reading! Have a great Monday. Let’s make this week a good one.
At first she winced, Harriet’s head jolting left then right. Sweat was starting to bloom on her forehead, and the strands of hair on either side of her face were becoming wet with it. “It’s okay, love,” NoNo said. “It’s okay.”
The words did nothing to allay Jax’s worries. He glanced down at the ground, having trouble staring into Harriet’s pained face. He noticed her other hand, pale and alone, resting in the dust of the alley floor. A smudge of black ash was smeared across the back of her pale skin. Jax lifted the hand, rubbed the ash away, and clutched her fingers into his.
When he looked back, NoNo had managed to remove Harriet’s hand, which fell down into her lap, crusted with blood that looked black.
“Shit,” Scarlett whispered, her head dropping as she looked away.
Being so close to the mouth of the alley, the bright light of morning allowed Jax to see all that he would have preferred not to.
The wound was deep. The arrow piercing flesh and muscle. Thankfully, Jax was pretty sure there were no vital organs that close to her shoulder, but it definitely looked like it hurt. There was something else too.
As NoNo pulled the t-shirt down off Harriet’s shoulder, revealing a bright green strap of bra (which was now streaked with blood), Jax could see aggressive black lines snaking their way out from the wound, like someone had drawn on Harriet’s skin with a thick black marker. The lines were short, maybe a couple inches long, snaking out from the wound, but they moved in all directions and Jax was certain that wasn’t a good thing.
Harriet glanced down at the wound, winced and turned her head up to the sky. Jax could see tears glowing in her eyes and he knew she was doing her best to bite them back.
“Poison,” NoNo said. He moved quickly, ripping a length of rope from the inside of his coat and tying it in a thick knot at Harriet’s shoulder and beneath her armpit. “I think it’s a Necrolyzer,” NoNo added, moving closer to Harriet and dipping his nose down closer to the wound where he appeared to be smelling it. “Yes, definitely.”
“Wha-What is that?” Harriet asked, wincing as if the words hurt her to speak.
“It’s not good,” Scarlett said. “It means we need to get you something to flush it out, and quick.”
“Flush it out?” Jax said, trying to keep the fear and worry from his words, but failing. “Where? And how?”
“I don’t know,” NoNo said. Scarlett was also shaking her head. It was perhaps NoNo’s words that cut the deepest. This was the man who lived on the streets, knew all the ins and outs, he lived in an underground cave for fuck’s sake. If he didn’t know how to fix something, well, that just wasn’t a good sign.
Jax wasn’t having it.
“What do you mean you don’t know? What the hell are we going to do? We have to help her!”
“The poison is already seeping into her veins, deep,” NoNo said. “We need either a blood transfusion or an anti-venom, and we need it soon, like today, if we hope to save her.”
“Well that what the hell are we waiting for?”
Jax turned toward Harriet. “Don’t worry okay,” he said, still holding her hand. He was now rubbing his palm across the top of her hand. “We’re going to get you some help.” The sweat was now leaking freely down her face, which seemed to be turning whiter by the minute. The half circles under her eyes now looked almost black. Her breathing came in short gasps. Despite all that, she managed a smile, and squeezed his hand lightly.
“I know,” she said. Her mouth opened as if she had more to say, but her chest hitched and she coughed on the words. Jax waited, still rubbing the top of her hand and fighting off his own tears. She tried again. “I guess it’s your turn to take care of me.”
Jax smiled, his cheeks pressing up and squeezing a tear from his eye. He looked up at Scarlett and NoNo, who were both staring down at the two of them with looks that Jax didn’t like. Their faces were dark, expressions suggesting they didn’t like where things were going.
“Alright,” Jax said, patting Harriet’s hand once more than standing up to face the two of them. “Where do we go?”
NoNo turned to Scarlett and the two of them looked at one another, seeming to have some kind of silent conversation.
“Fuck!” Scarlett exclaimed, taking a step away from the group then quickly coming back. She looked up at the brick walls of the alley around them as if it would provide some kind of assistance. “That’s crazy.”
Beside her, Twix was staring up anxiously, her bum planted firmly on the ground, her tail wagging lightly.
“What’s crazy?” Jax asked, their lack of communication with him starting to become extremely frustrating.
“The hospital,” NoNo said, turning to him. “It’s one of the only places we’ll be able to find what we need.”
“Alright,” Jax said, looking between the two of them, neither of whom seemed capable of meeting his eye. “What’s the problem then?”
“It’s been infested from the very beginning,” Scarlett said. “Completely.” Jax could see that, even in the light of day, the thought scared her. “There’s absolutely no power, no lights, and quite honestly there isn’t even a guarantee that we’ll find what we’re looking for.”
“The odds are in our favour though,” NoNo said, looking down at Harriet. At this, Scarlett only laughed.
“Yeah, the odds that the stuff will be in there, sure, but the odds of us getting in and out alive,” she blew air between her lips. “Those odds are definitely NOT in our favour.”
“You continue to forget that we have him,” NoNo said, lifting a hand waving it slowly in Jax’s direction like a salesperson showing off a prized item. “I don’t think those things would stand a chance.”
Scarlett glanced from him to NoNo, Twix’s head followed her gaze, moving back and forth right along with her. Harriet had gone back to clutching the wound on her shoulder, her pale face stared straight ahead as her eyes continued to droop. She didn’t look entirely convinced.
“I don’t care if the entire American army is inside that hospital, there’s nothing that’s going to stop me from getting what she needs,” Jax said, the aggressions in his voice was starting to electrify the alleyway. A few pebbles around his shoes bounced away like mice fleeing from large prey. “How far is it from here?”
“It’s a few blocks further into the Flash Zone,” NoNo said. “And with our recent, not so discreet arrival, we can count on it not being an easy go.”
Jax nodded. “I’m not worried.” He really wasn’t. NoNo nodded, as if he expected nothing less.
Jax bent back down to Harriet’s level, taking her hand in his. Her eyes were closed now, and when they didn’t immediately open upon his touch, he gripped her a little harder. Slowly, her bright green eyes opened to his. He tried to smile, but failed. Harriet was able to succeed, the look filling his stomach with warmth.
Her breathing was quickening, and when she tried to speak, it took her a couple tries to get the words out.
“How long?” she managed.
Jax, craned his neck back to look at NoNo
“Probably an hour or so, depending on how much trouble we run into,” NoNo said. “Scarlett is going to give you something to help with the pain.”
He looked over at her, and she glanced between NoNo and Harriet as if not completely understanding.
“She needs boosters, Scarlett,” NoNo said. “She needs something that will dilute the poison and strengthen her body so that she can not only walk on her own, but she will be able to survive long enough for us to help her.”
“You think that will work?” Scarlett asked.
“I know it will,” NoNo replied.
“You mean drugs?” Jax exclaimed, dropping Harriet’s hand and straightening up. “You think drugs are going to help her?”
“Yes,” NoNo said, calmly. “It’s really the only option.”
“No,” Jax said, his head shaking violently. His mind was locked on his mother. “No, no, absolutely not.”
“Jax, you want her to live to see that hospital, this is really the only option.”
He looked back at Harriet who didn’t appear to be listening to their conversation. Her hand was still pressed firmly to the wound on her shoulder. The blood that was leaking between her fingers appeared almost black. Her face was the colour of printer paper. Jax bent down again. There were tears forming in his eyes.
“What do I do here Hairball?” The nickname brought a twitch of a smile to her face.
Slowly, Harriet’s head turned to Scarlett, who looked back at her with concern. Harriet appeared to be trying to speak, but the words just wouldn’t come. Scarlett knew what she was trying to say, so she bent down to help.
“It’s okay, sweetheart,” Scarlett said, placing a hand on her shoulder. It was a light touch, like a butterfly, and rested on top of Harriet’s own blood-crusted fingers. “Are you ready?”
Harriet’s head slowly moved up and down, the effort causing her to wince. Twix had followed Scarlett to Harriet’s side and was looking at her with an angled head. Her ears were erect and a low whine was coming from her throat.
Jax wiped tears from his eyes as Scarlett deftly reached inside her jacket, not taking her eyes from Harriet and pulled out a small vial filled with glowing white liquid.
“Which booster is it?” Jax asked.
“She’s a Viewer, right?” Scarlett said. “You always want to boost your own power for the best high.” From the other side of her jacket she’d pulled a small plastic package. In one motion, she brought the packet to her mouth, bit off the top and spit the piece onto the alley floor. She removed the syringe and spun it around with fingers that looked well practiced. “Taking the others can be painful at first, like pushing a square peg through a round hole.” A mini vortex appeared in the vial as the syringe punctured the lid and began to pull the liquid into the needle. Jax watched in fascination. The vials looked familiar, he’d seen them in the trash at his apartment before and laying around the alley beside Bones’s Bar. However, he’d never seen the drug in action before. “But if you boost your own power, it’s like…” she paused bringing the needle down to Harriet’s arm. Scarlett rolled up the sleeve on of her shirt revealing the pale skin beneath. To Jax, it looked extremely vulnerable in the shadow of the alley and with the sharp metal of the syringe pointed directly at it. Jax could see the blood running in thin blue lines beneath Harriet’s arm. “It’s like sliding into a warm bath,” Scarlett finished.
She pressed the syringe to Harriet’s arm. Jax watched it first dimple the skin, like a rock just before it breaks the surface of the water, then it pressed into the skin. He expected Harriet to wince, or whip her head around as the needle pressed through her body, but she barely appeared to notice.
“Yeah, like a warm bath of adrenaline,” NoNo said, his arms folded over his chest, a smirk on his face.
There was silence in the alley as the entire vial of glowing liquid disappeared into Harriet’s arm. Jax watched it disappear beneath her skin, before reappearing in the blue veins. It sparkled and twirled like glowing strands of DNA as it made it’s way up her arm to her shoulder. He watched fascinated as it made it’s way slowly around the bend of her shoulder toward the wound only a few inches away.
Scarlett and NoNo had both turned away and made the few steps back to the mouth of the alley.
He still held Harriet’s hand in his own and he gave it a small squeeze as the glowing strands moved beneath her other hand, which was still pressed to her shoulder. He knew it wasn’t going to the wound, but the heart that pumped a few inches below it. Harriet’s breathing caught in her chest, then like a button being pressed, the glowing strands exploded out from her heart, flashing through the rest of her body like the flash of a camera.
The force of it straightened her spine and she moved off the alley wall, falling forward into Jax who caught her. Her hand left the wound and clutched Jax’s arm. Her eyes were wide and her breathing coming a lot faster now.
Without a thought, he gripped her cheeks and pressed his lips to hers. At first, there was no response, but he could feel her heavy breathing against his lips. His heart sank. Then her hand gripped the back of his head and her lips came to life, moving against his like they had a mind of their own.