It occurred to me that I’m just over 19,700 words into the rough draft of this novel that I’m writing and I haven’t given you any excerpts from it. Some of you are probably thinking, “It’s about time. He’s been holding back from us this work he keeps going on about.” I blame part of that on the fact that I don’t usually write until after I’m done with everything else online for that day. I usually unplug the ethernet cable from my computer and don’t think about plugging it back in until I’m done writing, by which point I turn off the computer. Others are you are probably going, “19,700 words? He’s been at it that long and that’s as far as he got?” I’ve been busy.
Anyway, I’ve gone over this several times before but it’s relevant that I give the idea behind the book. I’m taking the song titles from the first two albums from my goth/dark rock band Shadows of Immurement and using them as inspiration for the different chapters. Sometimes I’m taking the title itself as inspiration. Sometimes I’m taking the meaning behind the lyrics. As I’m not even halfway through yet I’m unsure exactly what I’m going to do for each one. I have some ideas in advance, although they depend on how the story progresses. For a while I was fixed on the idea of naming each chapter the same as the song title it drew inspiration from. I might change my mind now. I was stuck on what I should do for “Them from ‘Campires'” as it made an awkward chapter title. It held me back in trying to figure out what to do for the actual plot. It just occurred to me as I write this that I don’t need to name the chapters at all. Then I won’t have to worry about it.
So I’ll give you a synopsis of each chapter and then an excerpt from it. I’m not going to analyse what I’m doing as it’s only the rough draft. Keep in mind that means that there could be grammar mistakes that I don’t know about yet although I’m not going to fix them here. I also am sure I’ll change a bit of what you see in this post.
The first chapter is based on the instrumental “Entrance.” It describes the protagonist’s relationship with this abandoned house that’s situated on the end of a dirt road by the ocean. He has felt drawn to it ever since he was a teenager, possibly younger. He and his friends would go up to the house, jump over the wrought-iron fence, and then head back quickly. Only one made it inside only to run back out again and then died of exhaustion. The main action of the book takes place in the present, when the man is now in his early thirties. He goes back to the house alone. He runs into an old man who’s the only one left who lives on the road and warns the protagonist not to go inside. The young man ignores him and keeps on moving. He jumps over the fence and ends up hurting his leg in the landing. That doesn’t stop him from going inside.
I limped over to the driveway that went from the gate to the front door. Looking upon it then from that side of the gate I felt a chill that I never felt in that area before. The temperature must have dropped again. This time I certainly noticed it. I heard no wind but felt it. It was slight but strange. I could have sworn that it passed through me. I gave it no thought as I made my way up the driveway.
The next chapter took the inspiration from the song “Whispers.” Throughout the book (at least as far as I have written) the protagonist will hear whispers coming from the walls in the house. It’s in this chapter that he gets a first taste of the whispers as he explores the first floor. He also gets flashbacks to earlier time periods. So far they aren’t as clear as they will be later on, so he still has no clue that he’s receiving visions. At one point he examines a fireplace in the largest room.
My rational mind told me no but my fears told me yes. Fortunately my fears weren’t strong enough at that point to overpower me completely. Still, in my state it wasn’t easy for me to get up from the position I was in. I hadn’t realized how awkward it was until I tried moving my bad knee to get out of it. It as a struggle but I knew it would take a few moments. I tried blocking the sound out of my mind as I focused on what I was doing. Then a new sensation came over me. My head was directly over the old, rotting wood. While I was moving to leave another what I suppose was a memory came over me. I suddenly felt a swelling of heat behind my head which rose to either side. The heat became so intense that I actually thought that somehow the wood caught fire. Inspired by this knew sensation I sped up my efforts, and was soon free of the fireplace.
The next chapter is based on the instrumental “Brick By Brick.” Our hero (or perhaps anti-hero—I got tired of using “protagonist” all the time) explores the basement. He discovers it is huge and also a labyrinth made up of poorly constructed walls. He panics when he tries to find his way out. He starts hearing the whispers again, mixed in with the waves crashing from the ocean. He finally finds the stairwell that led back to the main floor. He tries to go up but as he rushes he crashes through one of the steps, and possibly knocks himself out. Whether it’s a dream or an altered sense of reality somehow, he then finds that he’s sharing an experience with somebody who lives in that house a hundred years ago (whom I’ve given the working name “Rudolph” although so far he’s not named in the book). Rudolph is inside a cell made of brick walls similar to what our hero saw in the basement. A cell is being built right in front of him, walling him inside. Our hero feels everything that Rudolph feels, and has flashes of knowledge that Rudolph knows. He can’t control Rudolph but he shares the experience.
I suddenly had the urge to get back up on my feet and pound on the wall with my fists. Perhaps I couldn’t fight my way out of this cell for which I was eternally doomed but I could have the last word. With nothing to lose I screamed as loud as I could. I can’t remember at all now what the words were that I had said, but I distinctly remember at the time I had use real words an everything had made sense to me. Now, whenever I try to think back on that incident all that comes out is a garbled yelling sound. I can remember the emotion and intent of what I did more than the actual action. I suppose in the grander scheme of things that’s all that really matters. Still, it was such a strong emotion I wish, at least for curiosity’s sake, to know exactly what it was that I had said.
Then we get to the chapter based on the song “Spread My Wings.” I take the theme from the song about forbidden love as the source of inspiration for this one. Rudolph’s spirit, accompanied somehow by our hero, travels through the walls through the house. He sees a meeting in the large room from before. The man who sentenced Rudolph to die is there surrounding by a large group of people. On a sofa in the room is a woman whom Rudolph recognizes as his lover, Sophia. She mourns for Rudolph, although her father (the same one who sentenced Rudolph to die) is agitated with her. She says something to her and she leaves. The father then gives a speech to the rest of the people in the room. It’s here that we reveal that he’s the leader of a sort of occult group.*
Then Rudolph travels to Sophia’s bedroom where she’s alone. Her father bursts in and starts beating her. Our hero recognizes through Rudolph’s memory that Sophia’s father was abusive towards her. She tries to defend herself with a knife. Her father overpowers her, takes the knife, and murders her. Finally Rudolph and our hero are back in the wall in the basement. The wall is broken down. The father dumps the girl’s body in with Rudolph.
On the bed sat the poor young woman from before. She held a handful of tissues with black mascara on them. The make-up on her face was smudged with streaks going down her cheeks. I knew, or at least the ghost knew, that this was the same house and was her bedroom. Despite being in a rich family she was allowed to have very little. The poor child was abused, mostly by negligence. She never talked fully about the ways that her father had treated her but the ghost always suspected that the man had beaten her or worse. Suddenly I knew that the man who sent me to my death was this her father. It was as if the swelling of the ghost’s love stirred enough focus on the woman that I was able to gather more facts that he knew. I mused on the possibility of being able to communicate with this ghost, or if it was even wise.
Next comes the chapter based on the song “Behind The Wall.” The hero comes to in the present. He examines the wall opposite him in the basement. He wanted to make sure what he had seen was just a dream. He notices that the wall was hastily put together, so he takes it apart it with relative ease. He then discovers that there aren’t just two but several corpses in the wall. Many of them have been reduced to skeletons. The whispers return and are more persistent. He hears one in particular calling to him directly. It is a female voice calling for him to dig her out. He digs through the bones and discover’s Sophia’s body. Even though she’s been dead for about a hundred years, she hasn’t decomposed aside from a slight paleness. He pulls her out of the wall. She’s motionless but can still communicate with him with a sort of telepathy. She pleads with him to make love to her.
I didn’t realize how much it had interested me until I happened upon it. I shouted in fear for the first time I entered that house. Yes, the gloves were similar. Yes, the dress was the same that I had seen earlier. In fact, the girl looked very much the same altogether when she was tossed upon me while I shared the past with her lover. She hadn’t decomposed at all. Even her black mascara was intact, streaked down her cheeks from crying. The wound in her chest was still there with blood running down her bosom, all looking as if she had been recently stabbed. Her eyes were closed and her lips were slightly open. She looked as defeated and in pain as the day that she died.
Then we come to the chapter based on “Hot When Cold.” The protagonist debates with himself to have sex with this corpse. He is tempted, even though he has never had a taste for such a thing before nor does he since. It is possible that she compels him with methods other than words. He gives in and does the deed. When she reveals to him that he wasn’t the first. It turns out that when men have had sex with her over the years it helps preserve her in that state. She intends on keeping the protagonist here so she doesn’t decompose. He refuses and attempts to put her back into the wall.
“So you’ve rejected me,” she said. “I doubt there will be another soon enough. So I’ll let you see what happens to me now that I’m alone.”
In a matter of seconds a century’s worth of rigor mortis and decay happened in my arms. I watched in horror as her skin and flesh disintegrate first. For a brief moment I got to see the same eyes that I had seen on the lovely young girl of a hundred years prior. However these were now naked eyeballs resting in sockets of a rapidly decaying skull. Ultimately all that was left was the skeleton, which fell to pieces out of my arms, smashing on the floor below and turning into dust.
Finally, I’m in the middle of writing the next chapter based on “Darkness Is My Only Friend.” I won’t give a synopsis on this one yet as it’s unfinished. I will say that our hero discovers that now the whispers can only enter his head when he can see when there’s an abundance of light in the room. Even by closing his eyes he can shut them out. However, he has to navigate through the house in order to leave it. As this is at night by this point it should be even more dangerous.
The crashing sound of all of those pots compared very little to the deafening sound those whispers made directly in my ears. Instinctually I clasped my hands to my ears with no effect whatsoever. I could hear the whispers as I would hear any other sound but they must have made their way to my mind. I still didn’t think to close my eyes when huge flames burst from the stovetops in that kitchen. I collapsed to my knees and stared at the flames. The room became hotter and hotter, with the raging inferno suffocating me with heat. The flames grew brighter as well. I stared at them as they did so, which finally caused me to close my eyes.
And then the whispers stopped again.
*For those keeping score, yes this is the group I made up called “The Order of the Shadows.” I only hint at their name in this text and they don’t play such a large role as they have in some of my other works.