Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Flash Fiction : Intruders

So. I've been busy. My hubs and I just bought a new house. My daughter is having surgery on her ears and her insurance is being a JERK. Also, I run a small business in addition to writing, and I've got an event this Friday. A big one. Plus, I'm trying desperately to finish my WIP so my agent can read it (and hopefully love it and then sell it).

So the blog?

It's kind of been on the back burner. I feel so bad. But I guess the fact that I care at all about the blog is a step in the right direction. Last time I tried a blog, I hated it. This time? I'm kind of getting into it. So, even though I'm ridiculously tired and creatively drained, I wanted to share something with you all. It's a little story I'm working on. (I have about a million of those) It's only about 2,000 words so far, so it's just a baby. Be nice to it.

I'll share the prelude and call it flash fiction so we stay within the theme of the blog.


His fingers grasped my arms like the puffy tentacles of a dying squid, desperate and unyielding as he struggled vainly for life. But everything he said, even his voice, was false. Demanding – savage in a way he’d never been before. Hands that used to touch me with infinite tenderness now terrified me with their strength. Dustin’s face, normally calm and stoic, was now a rage of orange light and fear that seemed to leech into my veins through his clenched hands.

Overhead, hovercrafts whizzed past, sirens blared over the loudspeakers INTRUDER ALERT. SECTOR FIVE. INTRUDER ALERT. SECTOR FIVE. People in the streets rushed past on their way to the barracks, children cried, mothers charged ahead with hardened expressions. No one will take my child . . . no one will take this last happiness from me. My own mother’s words played back in my thoughts from a similar night many years ago when I had frozen in the streets, unable to function through the terror of the alert. She had slapped me – actually hit my face—and pulled me back into reality. Syrie, you will move. Do not give them cause to suspect.

Cause to suspect – this phrase has been drilled into my brain since I could speak. Never, never, give the sunguard cause to suspect us. Once suspicion has been raised, you’re as good as dead, because one would take the chance of Infection spreading throughout the last clean community in Northern America.

That’s why we had to get inside.

But Dustin wouldn’t listen – couldn’t over the din. His mouth moved ceaselessly, yet no sound came out. I could read his lips and caught my name, please, and go.

I nodded and he started running, yanking me with him. We ducked into an alley off the main street and began weaving through the barracks. Tents, lean-tos, and brick structures for the wealthy whizzed past in a blur of yellow and red, and indigo. But it was wrong. We were approaching the wall – the opposite of where we should be heading. I stopped when we were feet from it – a towering impassable structure that stretched so high it might as well have gone all the way up to heaven. It was made of just brick and mortar – no electric, but it didn’t need any. It was sheer, no footholds, no way to climb. The only way through was under, and that was how the intruders always tried to get in.

“Dustin, we can’t be here,” I pleaded. What if one had actually gotten through? We were sitting ducks. If one of them touched us . . .

“What are you talking about?” he said, panting. “This is the only way out.”

“Out? I don’t understand.”

“I told you before—”

“I couldn’t hear!”

He paused, raked a hand through his dark red hair. “I’m not . . . me, Syrie. I’m not a sun child.”

I almost laughed, but the look on his face forbade it. “That’s impossible,” I said. “You were born here; everyone in Helios is a sun child.”

“Everything I’ve told you about me has been a lie. I tried to tell you so many times, but I thought if you knew . . .”

“Knew what?” I searched his face – a face I knew better than my own – and saw what I felt in my heart reflected on his features: fear.

When he spoke, his voice was nothing more than a harried rasp.

“I’m an intruder.”

I faltered, stricken. “But, you’ve lived here all your life. I’ve known your face since I was five, I—”

He shook me. “Can’t you hear me? It’s all a lie! I snuck under the gate when I was six and left my entire family behind. My name isn’t Dustin, its Alex Cropp. My hair is black not red, I’m secretly the best boxer in Helios, and the only reason you can even touch me is because I’ve never seen the sun. The Infection has never been activated.”

Somehow my mind seemed to be in slow motion. “But, you go outside all the time.”

“This is a dome. It’s not real – there is no sun in here.”

Dome? Not real?

“Your parents,” I tried weakly. “Aren’t they –”

He flung his arm out behind him to point at the barracks above us. “Those people aren’t my parents, they’re other intruders—they pretend. We all pretend. But someone discovered us. Those sirens are for me, Syrie. I have to leave here. And so do you.” He began to tug on me, but I couldn’t move.

“Dustin,” I gasped. “If you’re an intruder, that means . . . you’re Infected?”


“So that means I—”

Yes,” he said. “That’s why we have to leave. Even if I get away, they’ll test everyone I’ve ever been in contact with. You. Your parents. All our friends. But I don’t care about any of them, I care about you, and I won’t let them destroy you. Please, Syrie. Come with me.” He stared me down. “Come with me.”

The sirens blared through the loudspeakers so loudly I couldn’t hear him anymore as he continued to plead with me. His fingers slipped into mine, a perfect warm fit.

Suddenly, I snatched mine away. His hands . . . his lips, his hair, his very skin – it was all poison. Death.

Dustin stepped back, jaw clenching.

“You already have it, Sy.”

I mouthed the word no, but nothing came out.

I could hear voices in the distance, the sound of the hovercrafts whooshing through the air. Someone screamed in the barracks behind me. A door cracked open.

“There’s no more time,” Dustin said. “I know you’re angry with me, but you’ll die if you stay here.” He pulled me to him and held my face against his chest. Burlap and sweat mingled with the chemical scent of the factory he worked in washed over me, momentarily calming me. I wanted to stay with him.

I pulled away.

“Syrie,” he said, more harshly. “You’ll die if you stay here.”

I looked up into his deep blue eyes, knowing it would be the last time I could ever look at him, and not think traitor. “Because of you, I’ll die anyway.”

Another door burst open behind us and Dustin slipped into the shadow of an alleyway, still grasping my fingers in a death grip. I could just see his face, the glint of his eyes. He pulled me toward him.

And despite everything, I let him.

Just a moment too late.

Hands came down hard on my shoulders, yanking me away. Hard metal tubes poked my sides, voices shouted, “Surrender!”

I clamped down on Dustin’s hand. In an instant it was ripped from my fingers, and I knew that Dustin was gone forever.

* * *

So then I pick up two years later and Syrie is a pariah and everyone is afraid of her because she was dating someong unclean. I explain everything that just went on, and then bring on the shananigans! Secrets are uncovered, people go on adevntures and risk death. And -- SHOCKER -- there are zombies. Yes. I am facing my fear. I want to write about zombies.

This will likely be my next project after I finish the one I'm working on now. And then finish the third (and final) Blood on the Moon book. And also the other project that's waiting to be finished after I do those two things.

Then I'll write the zombie book.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dream Journal Experiment

I’ve heard that if you write your dreams down every morning when you wake up, that you’ll start to have stranger, more vivid dreams. I’ve never actually done this, but something about it calls to me. Lately I’ve been having some abnormally realistic dreams, but when I wake up in the morning, I can’t remember most of them. I just have this empty feeling that I had an awesome dream with none of the details.
It’s like when I get a story flash in the shower. I start imagining dialogue, setting, characters, plot, and I run out of the shower, dripping, to scrawl down my great ideas. But when I get everything written, I still have this feeling that I’m missing something crucial. It’s frustrating as anything. I usually end up sitting there for a good then minutes, staring at the ceiling as I mentally shake my pockets inside-out.
So to me, this dream exercise is connected. In the shower, my mind is blank – on autopilot – as I wash up. At night, it’s the same, only better. It’s not just on autopilot, there is no pilot at all. My brain is free to go off on whatever wild, ridiculous, awesome tangents it wants. And I love it. I only wish I could actually remember some of it!
Therefore, I’m going to try this experiment. I’m going to write down my dreams every morning – if I have a dream – and see what my subconscious is doing at night when I’m not looking. I have a feeling it’s a genius and it’s just not telling me. We shall see . . .
And maybe you will, too. If I get a good/really creepy/really weird story idea, I’ll share it! Feel free to share yours, too in the comments.  If you’re anywhere near as crazy as me, it’ll be a fun feed.