Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday Teaser

I've seen around Blogger other writers who post a snippet of their WIP on Tuesdays. I love reading their excerpts and I thought I'd give it a shot today. I tried to trace the origins of Teaser Tuesday, to link to the blog of whoever came up with the idea, but I didn't get far. If anyone knows who I should credit the idea with, please let me know!

In the meantime, here is a peek into the chapter that introduces the story's antagonist:

Ray Manners twitched, tossed an arm across his body where he knocked a pack of cigarettes off the nightstand. His forehead creased then relaxed as the dream unfolded.

Young Ray sat stock still in the icy water of a deep, claw foot bathtub, his stare concentrated on the closed door. Peals of laughter from downstairs rang out in waves, sound washing over itself, giving little Ray the impression that the house was full of people. But he knew he wasn’t hearing the joyful timbre of friends enjoying an amusing anecdote; it was not the noise of merriment at all. There was, in fact, only one other person in the house besides Ray, and the shrill tone of her laughter smacked of asylum clamor. Had it been where it belonged, the racket would have reverberated impotently off padded walls instead of frightening a defenseless little boy. The palpable silence of the bathroom was contracting under mounting pressure from the mad hilarity wafting up the stairwell, growing nearer every moment. The meager door was as useless at preventing the cadence of insanity from reaching his ears as it was going to be at forbidding the entry of its producer once she came for him. And she was coming for him.

Ray’s eyes shifted for an instant away from the door to the high window, but snapped back; he feared being taken by surprise when it flew open. His heart hammered in his chest and despite the chilly water he sat in, beads of perspiration formed above his lip. His instincts screamed at him to flee, but his rational mind countered that there was nowhere to run. Suddenly the laughter stopped, and the air became still as the surface of the bathwater. The vacuum of silence sucked the breath from his lungs, forcing him to take quick, shallow breaths. In the stillness he dared to hope, for a fleeting second, that his aunt had left the house. But hope was for the foolhardy. Without warning the door swung and met the wall behind it with a sickening crack.

Aunt Ethyl stood in the doorway, swaying ever so slightly as if moved by an unseen breeze. Anyone who had heard the crazed laughter moments before would never guess this woman was capable of making such sound. Her dour expression seemed out of sync with the vacant look in her eyes; as if one person was looking out but another was reacting to what she saw. Ray didn’t speak, but the water he sat in was now disturbed by tight ripples of despair. A drop of perspiration leaked from under his hair and ran down his back. Aunt Ethyl seemed to hear it hit the water, for at that moment the focus returned to her eyes and she settled them on Ray. She raised her arm and Ray followed its length to the object she held in her fingertips. Light bounced off the tip of the dressmaker’s pin.

“No, Auntie Ethyl. Please, no,” Ray whimpered softly. He knew better than to speak too loudly, experience taught him that things were worse when he raised his voice.

“I must, Ray. I must take care of you. There is bad blood in your veins, Ray. But we’ll get it out. Don’t you fret, now. Auntie will get it out.”

Ray shot bolt upright in the bed; sweat covered his six-foot frame and soaked the sheet twisted tightly around his waist. Disoriented and panicked, he drew gulps of air into his lungs, struggling to quench a thirst for calm that would not come. The nightmare had been vivid and he distrusted the muted colors of darkness as belonging to reality. The gloomy room came into focus, and the dream retreated to a safer distance. Until tomorrow night, Ray thought grimly, dragging his fingers through his thinning hair...


Thanks for reading!