Fiction Friday: Inspiration is all Around, Excerpt from “Zombie Road.”

By Leslie Lindsay Write on, Wednesday:  Decontrusting a Novel

For a writer, anything and everything is inspiration for writing. It’s just something with the way our brains are wired. We’re firecely observant. We scruntinize small things. And when we stare at something innocuous for a little longer than what might be “appropriate,” you can bet we’re thinking of some sinister little story or perhaps how to describe whatever it is in words that eventually make it on a page.

Yep. We’re weird.

And so it comes as no surprise that I found this little patch of land while walking my lumbering geriatric basset hound the other day. “It’s Mel’s yard!” I wanted to scream. No, not really. Well, kind of. Sure, my stomach did a little dip as I felt the story coming to life. Here’s an excerpt from an early chapter in my WIP, “Zombie Road,” which ironically contains no zombies. Sorry to disappoint.

“As I pulled the back door of Marianne Ashton’s home closed, a silent gasp worms through my throat, something grazed upon my back. I turn, but no one is there. I shake the feeling and teetered along the slate path between the side of her garage connecting our yards.

When I approach the bed where my begonias lay, the tiny plastic cartons are upturned, their heads broken off, revealing slick wet stalks.

Vandals. That word tumbled around again. This time, I consider the history of our lot. It doesn’t make sense. An animal, then?

My eyes scan the yard to the front porch, and up and down the driveway, to the small tree in the middle of the yard. No spade. Finally, I glance to the retaining wall where the land slopes downward, but no yellow spade.

Anxiety presses forth. Clumsy. Forgetful. Stupid. Maybe I took it into Marianne’s kitchen? No.

The sky darkened and appeared mottled with swaths of muslin contrails. I sit the pile of publications on the grass, patting the utility pockets of my pants. I frown at an old piece of chewing gum encased in worn, dented foil. Swarming at my ankles, as if a colony of ants has moved in, the ground peels back, revealing a patch of dead grass. Did Ran’s Lawnboy do this?WP_20140829_001

Clouds moved swiftly, an animated visage circulating god-knows-what. Just wait a minute, it will change. At least the rain will revive that dead patch of grass. Little Sally Water, choose the one you love best. I lean to retrieve the plastic flower bins as fat, heavy drops of rain splash the stack of reading materials.

A rumble of thunder, then a snap of electricity brightened the sky. No car ever arrived at Mrs. Ashton’s home depositing a music student. But her face, shrouded in a flowing curtain of Dorothy Hammil hair peers from the front window where the piano sits, a blank stare. I squint, tenting my hands over my forehead to get a better look. Maybe she’s not there, my imagination again. Maybe her student cancelled. Granite clouds lumber in from the west, darkening the sky. I raise my hand anyway, a semblance of recognition. She does not reciprocate. Embarrassed, I duck my head, scoop up the papers, and hustle to shelter in our garage, first passing by Ran’s “Big Green,” caked with cut grass. I toss the plastic tins into the recycling bin.

Another clap of thunder booms. Startled, I press the interior garage door button, allowing it to lower. I step into the mud room then, deposit water-logged papers from Marianne on the bench. A crack of lightening rocks the house with sheer ferocity. A hollow emptiness scrapes my gut. Solid, unyielding drops of rain smack the roof, resonating with life.”

[Thanks for reading! As always I appreciate feedback and “likes.” Remember, this is an original work of fiction and not to be taken as your own.]

Fiction Friday: Excerpt from “Zombie Road,” Chapter 1

By Leslie Lindsay

Let’s take it from the top. Here’s an excerpt from chapter one from my WIP. We meet one of several POVs. This is James, an old man in a nursing home. Write on, Wednesday:  Decontrusting a Novel

CHAPTER 1

The End

1984

The baby woke James McCullough. He struggled to a sitting position, kicking the pilled institution-issued blanket from his pale, knobby feet and then twisted his frame and sat on the edge of the bed, listening.

That goddamned baby wasn’t crying anymore.  

He rubbed his eyes and blew out a breath of air. His chest wheezed and rattled. Death’s cough, the nurses around here called it. He wasn’t supposed to have heard them murmuring at the nurse’s station, but his suite was so close, he couldn’t not hear. That was one thing he still had—his sense of hearing, unlike so many of the other old folks around River’s Bluff Retirement Home. In spite of the nightlights plugged into every outlet, he couldn’t see the hand in front of his face, thanks to glaucoma and cataracts; but sometimes he’d see others watching him, casting a glance of sympathy or a soft smile of pity.

When he’d pass by the mirror on the way to take a leak, he’d peer at the image. He knew that man; the face taut and tanned, gray-green eyes twinkled back, and hair as dark as coal and thick, so unlike the wisps that remained on his spotted-balding head. He wanted that younger man back. Instead, he was stuck here, in this hell-hole waiting.

Waiting for death.

On cue, the baby cried again.

James’s hand scrambled over the covers searching out the call button. Arthritis had misshapen his spotted, yellow hands, making it impossible to reach for anything. Instead, he called out, “Help…nurse!” His voice came out in long thin shrieks, nothing like the booming quality it once commanded.

A moment later, the night nurse rustled in, adjusting her starched pinafore. “Mr. McCullough,” she said. “What’s the matter?”

“The baby’s crying. Aren’t you going to take care of him?”

The nurse fussed behind him, turning pillows and gathering miscellaneous items—paper straw wrappers, plastic cups, and Kleenex. “There are no babies here, Mr. McCullough, you know that.” She looked down at him. Her frosted pink lipstick shimmered in the night glow of the room, her hair feathered along the side of her face and a starched white cap sat atop of the hairsprayed nest.

“Don’t you hear it?”

She cocked her head, “It must have just been a dream,” her eyes conveyed concern, if not disbelief. Perhaps she felt he was just suffering from dementia, but that wasn’t the case. Memories are locked in tight. Too tight. “Now, why don’t you try to get some sleep? You’ve got a big day ahead of you.”

[Please remember this is an original work of fiction and not to be taken as your own. Comments welcome. Thanks for reading.]