I’m trying to add a page with the stuff I wrote today–I did 2150 words in a new/old project, one that has its genesis in a Writers’ BBS challenge a while back–but WordPress isn’t cooperating. I’m not sure what the problem is, and I’m too tired right now to work on figuring it out.
Here’s the very beginning:
Riley had been sitting on the hard pew for less than a quarter-hour when he heard the door creak open at the back of the chapel. He glanced around at the others in the room, but none of them seemed to have heard a thing.
Footfalls now, coming up the aisle behind him. The floorboards creaked under the familiar, impossible tread. Then the dead man slid into the pew next to him and said, “Afternoon, cap’n.”
“You’re not really here, Charles” Riley hissed, not looking at him, not daring. “You’re dead.”
“And don’t I know it, too, siah, that’s me body up there in the casket.” There was a horrible mirth to his voice. At the edge of his vision, Riley could see Charles’ pale hand gesturing toward the front of the chapel. The plain box holding the body was closed, its lid adorned with a paltry bouquet of drooping white lilies in a chipped glass vase. “But here I am nonetheless.”
“Look,” said Riley, “what do you want?”
“Ah, siah, you can speak quieter. No one else in here can see me or hear me.”
“That’s because–” The woman in front of Riley turned and gave him an odd look, half pity, half fear. He smiled what he hoped was his sunniest smile at her, and she turned away, looking not a whit reassured. In a whisper, he said, “That’s because you’re not here. You’re a figment of my guilt, a ghost of my imagination.”
“No,” said Charles, “not entirely.” He belched, and Riley winced, but the woman in front of him–of them–showed no signs of having heard. “I s’pose it’s possible, cap’n, that you’re feeling guilt on account of me, but that’s not why I’m here in this particular moment.” There was a shuffling sound from Riley’s right. In his peripheral vision, Riley could see Charles digging in his coat, fetching something from an inner pocket. The hand that held the card out to him was wan, moreso than it had been in life, and the nails were thick and yellowed like horn. “I have a message,” said Charles. When Riley didn’t take the card, he motioned, making spastic little jerks with his hand that were entirely too much like his last spasms, his last gasps, aboard the ship. Riley snatched the card from that horrific hand, closing his eyes as he did so. “From a lady,” said Charles, “a right gracious lady.”
Riley kept his eyes closed, concentrating on the feel of the card, the rough weave of the paper between his thumb and forefinger, while Charles rose from the hard wood bench and creaked his way down the floor to the back of the chapel, out the door and into the world. Only once the door had slammed shut–and still no one else in the little room noticed–did he open his eyes.
The card was creamy white paper, stiff, folded once. On the front it said
NATASHA NOIR, Esq.
∞ Dim Street
Black-hand letters crawled beneath the address, unreadable on this side of the grave. They made his eyes water just looking at them.
Inside, in perfect cursive, it read
I own Mandalay.
He crumpled the paper, whispered “God damn it” loud enough that the woman ahead of him turned and glared at him, then pocketed the card, rose, and followed Charles’ footsteps out of the dim chapel into the bright glare of afternoon of Littlesnow.
More later, I hope, so I do.