Thursday, 11 November 2010

I started doing #fridayflash when I put all other writing aside in order to promote and market my self-published novel. But as you probably all know, the ideas don't stop throwing themselves at you like wanton strumpets and flash writing in small bites seemed the perfect solution to feeding the piranha fish nipping at my synapses. Well it's been a year now with just one week missed and the art of flash has taught me a lot about writing. But I yearn to return to the longer novel form. I've got 3 other novels all in finished drafts, but can't decide how to proceed with them. Then there is the labyrinthine WIP I set aside at 40,000 words in, the time the published novel came out. But the twin prompts of NANO (which I'm only shadowing, not doing formally) and approaching my life-long nemesis of genre fiction have combined to give me the solution - a wholly new book and yes, a whole new direction for me as it's genre-based! Having started it on Sunday last, here's the opening 1000 words serving for my #fridayflash this week.


Thanks.


The two outriders slew their front wheels across the gravel, each throwing up a little cloud of brown dust. There was no other motion as the particles forged their sedate, wispy descent back to earth. Only once this tiny portion of the landscape had been allowed to resettle itself, did the two men faceless behind their mirror visors permit themselves to stir. They flicked their kick stands and adjusted their body weight to let their bikes sag from under them as the levers bore the burden of steel and chrome. Still in perfect unison like synchronsied swimmers, the men dismount and remove their leather gloves. One stares ahead of him, while the other surveyed where they had just come from. He spies the outline of a sleek saloon slowly growing larger as it gobbles up his own bike tracks, like Theseus retracing his route through the labyrinth marked by string. He briefly looks over his shoulder at his partner, the statuary symmetry between the pair finally sundered. The other curls his index finger tip to tip with his thumb and jags the 'aok' gesture back at him. They await the arrival of the car.

The car's tyres throw up a quartet of dust nebulae, out-muscling and out-trumping that of the outriders. But these brumes dissipate and disperse as if the car had wanted to spite their reunification with the ground. Behind the dark tint of its windows, the car sits utterly still, like a cat ready to pounce in the long grass. Not even the slowing revolutions and cooling of the extinguished engine dared broach the bated breath of the moment. Finally the tension is broken by the passenger window being cracked with the apologetic whine of low voltage electricity. The nearest outrider marches stiffly up to the car, ducks down to fill the purview of the voided glass. His voice little more inflected than the dull drone of the lowered window. He rights himself erect, steps a couple of paces back, then opens the door as if trying to die stamp himself. From within the interior, one trousered leg swivels, flexes and braces itself against the ground. Followed by a second. The further outrider can only see a pair of black leather shoes beneath the plimsoll line of the open car door. Virtually every day they play out this same scene in different settings, but never with any variation in the actions, the angularity and the algebra. A natural choreography evinced between men of rank.

The leather shoes pivot and the plimsoll line sinks as the mass extrudes itself from the upholstery. The outrider muses his habitual bafflement as to how so huge a bulk can be squeezed into such a confined space. The start of the old joke about how you get a family of elephants inside a Mini plays through his mind, but as usual he can never reclaim the punchline since the man mountain is barking queries at him that demand his attention. His partner is pointing beyond and the gelatinous mass of the superior's head makes an elliptical motion that could be either nod or shake, such are its indeterminate boundaries. Damn, it's happened again. The rear seat passenger has slipped out unnoticed and unremarked. Certainly the car's chassis never even dipped half an inch. For a big cheese, the luminary was awfully small in stature. Mousy. Bird-like. As gauzy as the dust cloud pressed out under his bike wheel. The superior is clearly exasperated that yet again the VIP has emerged on his own cognizance and not at that of himself who is supposed to be running the show. His bear of an arm extends, virtually eclipsing the whole of the cock sparrow. "We haven't established the security of the area yet". The VIP passenger approaches the superior officer and limbos under the outstretched arm without having to crook his body at all. "We've got a forensics team working at the site haven't we?" The larger man's redundant blockading arm drops with an audible displacement of air. "Nobody is trying to wipe out a forensics team. There's nothing to be gained from it". The large man moved swiftly in defiance of his girth, in order to interpose himself in front of Tiny Tim who had started to walk further into the gravel.

The smaller man could not help but be impressed with the man's dedication. If there was a sniper out there and he discharged a round into his covering minder, he fancied the man might deflate like letting the air out of a blow-up balloon. Presumably that's why he had been given the detail. But this whole rigmarole, outriders, bullet-proof saloon, tinted windows, minder, it just made him so uncomfortable. Giving the misleading impression that he himself was some kind of dignitary. When there was never any way to dignify these scenes he was charged with attending. Death scenes.

Fortunately, in the most miserable of circumstances that is, the present circumstance appeared to be in so blighted a spot, there was no crowd of bystanders. No members of his personal fan club to cheerlead him in his work, when all that was called for was a respectful quiet for the deceased. His presence usually engendered a delirious crowd which soon managed to turn every murder scene into a red carpet vigil. When the red carpet was usually woven of blood. But then there were flibbertigibbets at hangings of old, so maybe he shouldn't be so condemnatory. No Press today either, which was a blessed relief. Sometimes they deigned to turn their cameras on the scene of crime, but mostly they didn't even bother. They tended to be the celebrity pap smearers, rather than from the crime desk. Always their telephoto lens were pointed at him, Simon Moralee. Queasy superstar of the criminal investigation world. Maybe that's also why "Jellyneck" Morton had been selected as his minder, to block the clear shots of camera lenses as much as rifles, though the department was never averse to the unfailingly good publicity Simon raked in on their behalf.

Simon Moralee, the man who always got his man (or woman). The man possessed of a unique ability, which made him god's gift to the profession. Which every day made him want to turn his back on it all. If he ever took that fatal step, then indeed he would require a protection squad. For the populace would tear him limb from limb in such circumstance. And in passing over into death, he would be able to finger every one of his killers as his last act on earth. Providing a neat circularity to his life. Back to that moment his gift-curse first announced itself to him. When at seven years old he cupped his mother's lifeless head in his arms. And had a searingly clear image of her killer revealed to him.

18 comments:

Marisa Birns said...

Congratulations on a year of #fridayflash! And on the start of a new book...

Quite good this peek into the latest WIP. Description is very well done. Could see the dust particles slowly fall back to earth in first paragraph.

And what an intriguing character who is blessed/cursed with such a frightening ability.

Mixing police procedural with the supernatural is brilliant idea!

Sulci Collective said...

Thanks Marisa, there's also going to be lashings of philosophising about death (life) so the LitFic part of me doesn't feel dirty!

Tony Noland said...

Great language usage, as always. Congratulations on the year of writing dangerously!

PJ said...

Very intriguing start, Marc! Your use of language never disappoints and the descriptions are spectacular. This is genre reinterpreted and reinvented. Looking forward to reading more

Linda said...

Congrats on enduring a year of flashing and on the new novular WIP! Starts out with a very Mad Max feel, then that last para - whoa!

I'm feeling itchy with a 3rd novel myself, but must create the white space on the first two before I indulge in new verbage. Thanks for sharing this little gem. Peace...

John Wiswell said...

Good luck on those novels, Mr. Marc.

alisonwells said...

The whole intro very atmospheric, but in a way the last paragraph blows the rest away, it's like we come alive when we hear that, so perhaps the build up might be ultimately shorter or regigged. The characters and routine well described. A contrast between desert scene as depicted and the usual 'red carpet' venue of usual investigations. Very visual, movie like, invoked strong filmic scenes in my mind anyhow.

alisonwells said...

The whole intro very atmospheric, but in a way the last paragraph blows the rest away, it's like we come alive when we hear that, so perhaps the build up might be ultimately shorter or regigged. The characters and routine well described. A contrast between desert scene as depicted and the usual 'red carpet' venue of usual investigations. Very visual, movie like, invoked strong filmic scenes in my mind anyhow.

Laura Eno said...

Congrats on going back to a novel...or three! Fridayflash does teach a tremendous amount about writing. This is an intriguing opening with the crime/paranormal.

Sulci Collective said...

Thanks guys for the encouraging responses.

Alison, the slow pace & initial reveal is (hopefully) calculated - the book concerns itself a lot with power games between various people, especially when there is nothing material to base that power on, ie this is the death of procedure (and consequent redundancy of most police work) because Simon the Seer can straightaway provide them with the face of the killer.

The whole thing is an inquiry into murder, death and the value we have on purposeful human life.

Marc x

Bill Owens said...

Now that sounds like a great start - dangles the bait, then sets the hook and leaves me wanting to see what's going to happen next. Be careful, though, or we'll be begging you for additional 1000-word chunks until you've serialized the whole novel here!

shannon said...

Well, how exciting...starting a new novel! I like this Simon guy. Definitely someone I want to see how his story unfolds! Good luck, I'm sure you're having fun with this :-)

Liras said...

Looking forward to this new novel, Marc. Deep-seated pain and intrigue running free. *Tasty*

Harry said...

A thousand words hooked me. Looking forward to the completed novel!

Bukowski's Basement said...

You're certainly a busy guy... Kudos on the projects and kudos again on a riveting first 1000 words.

Jen Brubacher said...

Many congratulations on your year of friday flash, and I'm glad you posted this in celebration. I'm honoured I (we) get to see it, even a bit of it. And I am very intrigued.

Lou Freshwater said...

I've really benefited from you work, and I look forward to seeing what you do from here.

Anonymous said...

Great website, looks very clean and organized. Keep up the good work! antibacterial