Friday, June 9, 2017

First Draft Friday: Through the Spiderweb Door

First Draft Friday

Trying out a new idea for a post series where every Friday I post a rough draft. In my mind, this will something similar to my NaNoWriMo post but maybe less intense and only one day a week. The purpose is the same though: to encourage other writers. More often than not, we only get to see a finished polished version of fiction writing and it's very easy to get discouraged by their quality, even though we know, logically, whatever we're reading has a horrible first draft too. In my first draft posts, I want to share my first drafts as they are written more or less out of my brain. I say more or less because if I wrote the first draft longhand, then I'm usually going to clean it up a little bit or make all new mistakes or bad decisions as I type it up.

For my first, non-NaNoWriMo post, I'm submitting the first draft of "Through the Spiderweb Door". You may remember this title from a previous post where I shared a writing process video of me writing this story. Now, here's what I wrote that day, plus a little more.

Through the Spiderweb Door
first draft, incomplete, 1,734
By: Stephanie Thompson

The sun wasn’t even up yet and she was already suffocating in humidity and tortured by bug bites. Jocelyn was ready for summer to say goodbye. As it was she kept putting one foot in front of another.

“You still with me Jlyn?”
“She looked up to respond and caught her heavy booted foot on God knows what. She stumbled, bit her tongue, and fell face first into a spider web.
“Fuck,” she said, spitting blood onto the rocky path in front of her.

Jocelyn stood up. She wiped her dirt streaked and scratched up palms on her new khaki shorts. Then she looked ahead for Dean and his dog Bruce to answer his question and say she was fine though she was significantly less fine than she was a moment ago which already wasn’t that fine to begin with. Instead in the space we he should have been there was nothing - a blank space at the top of the hill where Dean and Bruce had been waiting on her an instant before.

Since the beginning of their hike both man and dog were consistently a few yards ahead of her but always in sight and she could hear Bruce’s heavy pant.  Now there was silence. No Bruce. No Dean with his hiking stick, smiling, happy like there was nothing better in the world. There was just Jocelyn, alone, wishing she’d never put ‘loves the outdoors’ on her dating profile.

The early morning light trickled through the trees. A dazzling spectacle of flickering light that made her dizzy. She spat more blood from her stinging, throbbing tongue. She wiped sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand. She looked behind her and saw no familiar land marks. They had passed several on the way to their (her) current spot: a tumble down house, an open glen edged with thistle, and most recently a fork in the path. They’d gone down the right-hand path (Dean said it had less hills and made for an easier loop- great for beginners) with blue flags (blazes he called them). Jocelyn remembered because from their first date on Jocelyn associated blue, any shade of blue, with Dean’s eyes. ‘Blue like you,’ she thought though it made little sense outside her brain.
Just past the fork was a slight incline up into the trees. Dean and Bruce were at the top. She’d fallen at the bottom. But now behind her was none of that. There was a big open meadow of knee high grasses. Then behind that more tress. This wasn’t the same place they’d walk through. No fork. No blazes. No blue. No Bruce. No Dean. Jocelyn looked in front of her again in case it all was a trick of the dappled sunlight and they were waiting for her all along. He was not.

Should she turn back, fork or no fork? She should she go forward? Hope to catch up ? She knew she wasn’t where she was, where she should have been, but maybe she was wrong about that anyway. Maybe they’d walked further down the blue (like you) path further than she thought and Dean was just over the small hill in front of her, waiting. Or should she stay where she was, wait herself , for anyone to find her, the way all the safety guidelines said to do when you’re lost.

“What is it?”
“You mean, who is it?”
“It came through the door.”
“Through the secret door?”
“How did it find it?”
“It has the heart, obviously.”

“Hello?” Jocelyn asked the open air because while there was voices she couldn’t see anyone.

“It has a heart? Where?”

She looked around again, for the third or fourth time and still got nothing for her search. The voices continued.

“Stop asking me questions. We have to go get Dariham.”

“Wait, don’t leave. I need help,” she directed the plea all around her hoping to discover the source  of the voices and maybe get some actual help, like directions back to a reality without invisible voice or perhaps a drink of water.

“What kind of help?” asked voice 1.
“Don’t talk to it.” ordered voice 2.
“But shouldn’t we take it with us, to Dariham instead of leaving it here to be eaten? Drama will be pissed we bring him all the way out here and it’s gone.”
“I need water . . . or maybe soap. I could go with you. I just . . . I just. . .I can’t see you. I don’t know where you are.”

Sweat beaded on her arms, dripped over her brow, soaked into her shirt. Her stomach bubbled with unease. Her dizziness increased as she kept spinning around trying to find the source of conversation and look out for whatever it was that might eat her. The whole adventure was worn pretty thin even before she fell. Now, she was very much through with the whole ordeal. She wanted a place to site, a cool drink, and air conditioning. If she had to follow an invisible voice or two to that end then she was willing to do that. She was as sensible as the next woman.

There came no reply however.

Jocelyn sat on the ground, tired of going in circles. She sat right in the middle of the path careful to avoid the places she’d spat. Shelled the knot on her right boot, loosened the laces, and pushed the boot off with her left foot. She repeated the process on the left and peeled off her socks. They were damp and a relief to remove. Free of the weight of the boots, Jocelyn felt better. A strong warm wind rolled across her skin and while it was just as hot and humid as it had been, it felt like a sigh of relief to her. Somehow it made even her tongue throb less.

She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath and then blew it out through her pursed lips and whistled a bit as she exhaled. She needed to think of what to do next. Trouble was she didn’t know hot to begin. She was injured but not severely, only annoyingly. Yet if she didn’t wash the dirt from her scraped up palms, it could get worse, though it wasn’t likely. She wasn’t hungry. She was some kind of lost but not in a way she could explain and she didn’t full heartedly believe that any amount of directions could get her back to where she belonged. Then in the back of her mind lingered the  danger of being eaten by unseen creatures.

Jocelyn laughed out loud and lightly tapped her forehead. Of course, she was being ridiculous and this was just a dream she was having. She was laying unconscious in the back of Dean’s car probably. She must have hit her head when she fell - she wouldn’t know any difference being knocked out. That’s why everything was wrong and didn’t look the same. That’s why the voices.

She laughed again. She scooted off the path, until her back was against a tree. She was so much more at ease, having solved the puzzle.  Soon she’d wake up in the hospital, her family around her, maybe Dean if the entire thing didn’t scare him off.  For now she flexed and pointed her toes, stretching out her legs. She watched the grass of the meadow bend in the wind behind the trees, and watched the sun rise in the sky. Fuzzy sleepiness made her eyelids heavy. A few thoughts moved through her mind, slowly and lazily. She tried to imagine what kind of thing could possibly eat her. She questioned the sanity of waiting for invisible voices to come back for her and if she’d be waiting forever. She unwillingly thought of Waiting for Godot and really hoped her Wizard of Oz style coma dream wasn’t going to boil down to some post-modern existential bullshit. When her eyes closed she wondered if she should sleep in a dream caused by a concussion then she was asleep and wondered no more.

“I told you we should have taken it with us? Now it’s gone. Or dead. Dariham is going to hide us for making him come out here.”

Jocelyn hear the voices and pushed through the vestiges of sleep to talk to them before they scampered off again. Maybe she’d even see them this time too.
She opened her eyes. The sun was no longer over the field anymore but directly overhead burning down hot and strong through the leaves. The wind had stopped blowing and everything still and silent. She rubbed her eyes, yawned, and stretched out her arms like a cartoon princess. It struck her that waking up still in a dream instead of in a hospital probably meant something bad was happening in real life. Was she in a coma? Was her brain irreparably damaged? Was she dead?
But that seemed less when important when she caught sight of at last of the sources of the voices. There were three of them, including the oft-mentioned Dariham, presumably the one 10 feet behind the others since the other two were still talking about him. All three of them shimmered in the open sunny meadow like they wore silver iridescent body paint or glitter. Jocelyn shielded her eyes and squinted hoping they became clear, easier to see but there was no coup d’oeil. They shimmered and further the two up front were flying. Floating above the grass, their toes making trails in it as their large dragonfly wings brought them closer to her.

As if silver flying creatures weren’t hard enough to believe, none of them were taller than four feet tall. They didn’t look like children, per se. They looked like full-grown men. Like Greek statuettes come to life wearing just as many clothes too. It was nearly impossible to believe her own eyes.

“Now where did it get to?”
Jocelyn didn’t step out onto the path. She wasn’t hiding per se but she wasn’t as eager as before to be found or follow these creatures back to their lair. As angelic and magical as they appeared, an uneasy acid bubbled in in her stomach.
When the two approaching her got to the edge of the trees, they disappeared again. They flashed into existence

I don't know if I'm going to finish. It's one of those stories where sometimes I think I will and other times I think I won't. If there's more I will share it so you can find out what happens.  Thanks for reading!