As most of my followers may be aware, I’m in the process of working on a horror novel. I’ve posted a little bit about it here, but today I thought that I would share the first chapter. I completed the first draft a bit ago and I was super excited that it was finally done, at least in some sense, but it wasn’t over. The process is never easy and it takes a lot of time. I don’t always get to write or even have the desire to so this WIP will take probably another few years at this rate.
However after starting my blog and posting about it I’ve felt more confident in working on it. I’ve gotten closer to a finish product than I ever have before. I’m so proud of myself for getting this far. I’ve been working on drafts, my first draft was not large enough, trying to get it up to a better word count. Ideas were flowing, I was reading more which was helping me figure out how to write better for my novel.
All that said, I got a first chapter that I really think is solid. I think it’s vastly better than what I started out with and I think that it sets a good tone for the book. The first thing I wanted to do was share it with all of you! So tell me what you think. The good, bad and ugly. I’m sure there will be some grammar errors because sometimes that gets me. I know there will be misused/misplaced commas because apparently I have a serious thing for commas that I’ve been working on getting remedied!
I want to preface this with, it’s a long first chapter!
DANA – DAY 1
The ring of the alarm sounded out, loudly signaling that it was time to wake up. Her dark hair, currently a mass of frizzy curls, blocked her hazel eyes as her hand reached out to silence the awful sound. Early mornings were never her thing, but Dana Mathews knew that today was going to be different. She yawned loudly, her arms stretching out, and she sat up blinking as she looked around the room.
The person shaped mass in the darkened corner didn’t register with her brain as she flicked on her bedside lamp and it disappeared. Dana shook her head and rubbed her eyes with the heel of her palms before she pulled back the covers and got up. She yawned again as she slowly made her way to the bathroom only to see a light on under the door. “Vi!” she banged on the door. If Dana didn’t get her roommate out of that bathroom they were never going to be able to leave at a decent out. “Vivian Waterman! Hurry up!” she yelled as she turned to go into the kitchen.
The calendar on the fridge had the date circled in red marker with ‘Road Trip’ written in the box. Today was the day, they were leaving the confines of their tiny college apartment to travel cross country. She didn’t have a destination in mind really, just needing to get away from it all. Her parents had called her at the beginning of the year to tell her that they weren’t paying her way anymore. It didn’t matter that Dana hadn’t asked them to in the first place, but she started the semester off wondering how she was going to pay for it.
That was the day that Vi had suggested that after the semester was over that they go on a road trip. She made it sound so easy, just driving all over without any cares at all. They’d stop at all the dumb tourist sights and take pictures of the largest ball of yarn or whatever they’d find. It’d just be the two of them and Dana couldn’t wait. She had busted her ass to be able to make this work. The loans she had to take out, the extra shifts at the Diner that she worked at during school she had to take on, the long nights studying after all of that just so that she could keep her grades up because she’d be damned if after all that she’d flunk out.
Dana wasn’t the type to just give up, she was a fighter. “Vi! I swear to god,” she both yelled and mumbled to herself as she started to make coffee. They had to finish packing, get the car packed up and get on the road. Her eyes lifted to look at the clock on the microwave. 6:20 am. “Jesus it’s early.” She yawned again. The door to the bathroom opened, Dana looked up to see her roommate and best friend standing in the hallway glaring.
“Morning to you too,” Vi said with a sigh but then she laughed. “You know you could just come in if you needed to.” She wasn’t the modest type. It was part of her charm.
“Yes I’m well aware but still don’t want to see you naked Vi,” Dana said with a laugh. “Coffee is on.” She pushed herself off of the counter and went into the bathroom.
Vi was the first friend she made when she was little. It was a time that she didn’t have a lot of memories of, mainly because her parents were terrible human beings, but Vi was always someone she would remember. Her bright red hair, her big smile and her soft voice. She was kind and caring. Someone that Dana had needed most of all when things got really bad. Dana left the bathroom to see that Vi was in her own room, probably getting ready. She decided getting dressed was a good idea. She really wanted to be on the road before nine if it was possible.
Vi was sipping on a mug that she held tightly in her hands when Dana walked back into the living room. The door at the end of the hall was open, showing Dana that Vi had packed multiple bags but looked like she was close to being ready.
“All packed?” she asked as she opened the freezer to get the last two frozen waffles for breakfast.
“Just about, you?” Vi smiled.
“Same. I’ll start packing up the car after breakfast. Have you heard from Mike yet? I thought he’d call by now. She looked at the clock and it was almost seven.
“Nope. But you are his favorite so I’m sure he’ll call soon,” Vi laughed.
“He doesn’t have a favorite,” Dana said, pushing Vi out of the way to put the waffles in the toaster.
“Sure he doesn’t. I’m sure he’ll call before we leave anyway. I wouldn’t worry about it. I’m going to finish packing so eat fast woman!” Vi nudged Dana with her hip before walking out of the kitchen and down the hall to her room.
Dana started out the window that looked over the parking lot as she waited for her food. She could see her car from here, but something beyond the parking lot caught her attention. Her eyes lifted to see someone standing in the trees. The sound of the toaster popping the waffles up caused her to jump. She shook her head and focused on getting food in her stomach so she could finish packing. She really just needed to get on the road and get away from everything that had happened in the past few months.
“Okay you cannot take another suitcase of shoes with us, Vi,” Dana said with a laugh as she packed her car for the road trip.
“Oh sure I can, I mean..wait why not?” her roommate Vi said in a huff, her hands on her hips, her wild red hair pulled back in a high ponytail. Her chocolate brown eyes were glaring slightly, she took fashion very seriously.
“Um..because no one, not even you needs that many shoe choices okay? We are going to be sleeping in a tent, hiking, and all the non-dressy shoe required type activities,” Dana grinned at her.
“Ugh,” she groaned loudly and threw her head back dramatically. “Fine. No more shoes,” she threw up her hand and carried the offending suitcase back up the stairs to their apartment. Dana closed the trunk and headed back inside to make sure they had everything.
This trip was one they’d been planning since the middle of last year. They just needed classes to be over and they had it all planned out. Cross country trip with stops all over. Dana wanted to see the outdoor sights and Vi liked the social ones. So they compromised. Dana just walked into the apartment when she heard she cell ringing. She crossed the living room to her bedroom to find the phone on her nightstand, smiling at the caller ID showing their close friend, Mike’s face. They’d all been friends since they were kids, he was a little odd but Vi and Dana didn’t mind that part of him. She placed the phone to her ear and her eyes scanned the room.
“Hello,” she said as she moved along. She checked to make sure that she grabbed her charger as she sat on the bed which was underneath the window across from her door. She pushed herself up to unplug the tall, silver lamps that were in the corners. Moving around the bed she peeked her head in her closet next to her bed, happy to see that everything was packed up.
“Don’t go,” he said and she smiled. Mike fancied himself a psychic or at least someone that could see things. Dana didn’t really believe in that sort of thing, not anymore.
“Missing me already?” she asked as she left her bedroom to circle the living room. She didn’t like forgetting things. Always had to check things twice. The room wasn’t that big, but it was an open layout, with kitchen in the side of the room closest to the front door. Their discount sofa and loveseat rested in the middle of the room. As she moved back around the couch and faced her half open door she saw someone in her bedroom, how did Vi get in there without her seeing? Her foot stepped towards the door but Mike’s voice caused her to pause.
“No, no. You know I have dreams sometimes. I just..I had a bad one Dana and you shouldn’t go. Something bad will happen,” he said, hurried and a little frantic. Dana sighed. She’d gotten used to this, when he’d have a dream, he’d always get a little panicked over it. She stopped believing him a long time ago. She turned to look back at her bedroom only to not see that there wasn’t anyone in there. She could have sworn she saw someone in her room. She collected herself, shaking her head a little, and continued moved out of the living room to check the bathroom.
The fluorescent light flared on as her fingers pushed the switch up. She opened the medicine cabinet, pausing to view herself in the mirror. Her brunette hair was a frizzy mess, even with it braided back. She ran her fingers over it to try and look less like a crazy person.
“Mike. Everything will be fine okay? Just relax. I will check in with you at each stop and you can text whenever you want,” she tried to soothe him.
“No!” he yelled and Dana stopped, her hand on the cabinet door to close it. She could hear him breathing heavy but she didn’t say anything. “I’m sorry. Look, let me go with you two at least?”
“No, Mike. This is a trip that Vi and I have been planning for months. I’m sorry you had a dream but seriously? Stop. You aren’t prophetic okay? You aren’t some psychic. Enough is enough. I’ve got to go,” she said, her words coming out harsher than she meant and hung up. She closed the cabinet with a slight slam.
“He had a dream?” Vi asked causing Dana to jump. Dana just nodded. “You should believe him, he told me that I was going to find my mom and I did remember?” she said and moved away from the bathroom door. Dana shook her head, she didn’t like fighting with Mike.
“You weren’t in my room were you?” she asked leaving the bathroom and following Vi.
“No, I just finished checking my room, why?” Vi gave her a funny look.
“Nothing,” she said deciding not to tell Vi what she thought she saw in her bedroom. She grabbed a few last minute things she found before she locked the door and headed for the car.
Dana was this close to throwing Vi’s phone out the window. She had been forced to listen to the same five songs for the last three hours because Vi just had to have those five songs. She gripped the steering wheel tightly, her knuckles turning white. Vi looked over at her and smiled, knowing that this was probably driving her best friend crazy but not really minding so much.
“Come on Dana! You know you love the Beibs,” she said with a laugh as she restarted the latest Justin Bieber song and Dana just groaned.
“I’m going to kill you before we make it to the first stop. They won’t be able to find you when I’m done. I swear,” she growled and Vi just laughed harder, finally turning off the music.
“Fine. How about we talk about Mike,” she turned slightly to face Dana. “Aren’t you a little worried about something happening if he was so freaked out? I mean I could hear him through your phone.”
“No. I’m not because all that stuff with what he can do or whatever it is just..nonsense. He’s never really done anything but talk about something bad. Something ominous. That isn’t being psychic. That’s just being weird,” Dana sighed and shook her head.
“Yeah but..I mean he isn’t always wrong you know. And it’s not always bad,” Vi’s head fell back against the headrest but her eyes remained on Dana.
“Okay, so he happened to mention you’d find your mom but that doesn’t mean anything. Lucky guess,”
“Dana, he told me where, what day. I mean he said that he had a vision and he knew details. Then it happened exactly as he said it would. He’s not messing around. You used to believe him too!” Vi sighed. “Just..when we make our first stop, call him okay? Let him tell you exactly what he dreamt at least. Then if we find ourselves in those circumstances we can be prepared,” Vi reached over and patted Dana’s arm before she turned in her seat and looked out the window.
It was true that there was a time that she believed in a lot of things. Mike said he could see ghosts, that he had visions, and when she was younger she believed it all. She didn’t see anything herself, at least not since she was really little. She remembered seeing something but she was so young that it was hard to put a face to it, or to really remember it exactly. But she grew up and know Vi wanted her to believe it all still, to talk to Mike like that was going to make it all better again.
Dana didn’t really know if she could do that. Listen to him and believe him, he never told her anything that came true, but most of the time the things he mentioned weren’t directly about her. They were about other people or something that happened on another part of the world that she never bothered to look up. She didn’t say anything else, continued to drive as she thought about what Vi said, and what she’d do when she called Mike. If she called him.
It took another hour before she pulled the car into a gas station and got out to fill up the car. Vi, of course, went inside to get snacks and drinks, waving her hand dismissively at Dana’s request for Chex Mix. Dana’s phone rang in her pocket, she locked the hand of the pump so she could step away from the car just a bit to answer. Normally she would smile when he called but seeing Mike’s face now just made her frown before she answered it.
“We stopped for gas so I don’t have a lot of time,” she said in a huff that she didn’t really mean.
“I know, look, I’m sorry for calling you like that. I know that you don’t believe in this stuff but just please promise me you’ll be careful okay?” he sounded different from before. She wasn’t sure he meant it but she was sure that this was him trying not to upset her further.
“Tell me what you saw in your dream,” she said simply. Maybe Vi was right and she needed to hear it. She glanced back at the pump and noticed that it was still going. She stepped closer just to hear the sound of it clicking off so she could replace the handle and get back in the car. She could hear him sighing on the other side but she was sure he’d tell her. Her eyes moved between the pump, Vi and the surrounding area. A tall man caught her eyes, standing in the distance, under an awning that was fully shaded from the sun. She couldn’t see much but she knew he was staring. She turned her head away to focus back on Mike.
“I just..I saw a lot of darkness around you, I saw you trapped somewhere, and Vi not being able to find you. I..I saw you not being able to come back,” he said with a shake in his voice that she didn’t think she’d ever heard before.
“I don’t really know what to say to that but I’ll be careful okay? I’ll keep checking in and Vi will tell me when you text and respond for me while I drive. Just, please don’t worry okay? I’m sure it was just a dream.” Dana didn’t know for sure if she believed it or not, but she couldn’t let it ruin this trip.
“Maybe it was. I’ll let you get back to it, he paused. “I love you Dana.” He hung up before she could respond and she didn’t know what to think about that. They never crossed the line of being friends, but she knew they all loved each other. It was the way he said it this time that made it feel..different. She must not have heard the pump stop, as she turned she saw that Vi was putting the handle back and tightening the cap on the tank.
Vi looked over at her with a raised eyebrow, Dana waved her phone and it seemed to be enough as Vi lifted the hefty bag full of crap, grinning. Dana shook her head and moved back towards the car. She looked up at the spot where she saw the man, he was still there staring but a light turned on above him and he was gone. She blinked and shook her head. Mike’s dream must be messing with her head. She got in and closed the door, staring at the wheel.
“Okay so I got your crap but I-,” Vi started but stopped when she noticed the look on Dana’s face. “What’s up?”
“He told me the dream,” Dana said, trying to forget about the staring man and focus on Mike again.
“Well? Tell me Dana, how bad was it?” Vi put the bag down and waited. Dana turned the key to start the car and looked over at her roommate.
“He said he saw me trapped and surrounded by darkness, that you couldn’t find me,” she said flatly. The car started moving forward and there was a weird silence between them. The talk of food stopped and Dana wasn’t sure if she should be worried by what he saw or not. She figured it best not to mention the weird things she’s been seeing. Vi looked shook up enough as it was.
Vi was terrified, she believe in everything Mike told her when it came to his visions. She had this sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that things were going to go just as he said. Badly.
Okay so that’s it! I hope that you enjoyed this post and a little inside track to my WIP. I’d love to read your comments so please feel free to share your thoughts on the chapter with me!