This is not a drill.
#SOON has arrived, people.
This is a present for all of my gorgeous readers out there who have been supporting me and encouraging me while I chase this crazy dream. A lot of you have been asking for more HEAT, and while I LOVE you for being interested enough to want to read more, unfortunately I won’t be posting any more for a while…Or possibly ever. HEAT is a novel that I hope to publish one day, and posting too much of it on the internet will make that much harder because who is going to want to publish a book that people have already read for free? I really am sorry to leave you all hanging, but hopefully (oh please oh please oh please) I will find a literary agent who I can trick into representing me, and together we can trick a publisher into turning my book into…Well, an actual book. Then you will all be able to buy it and see how it ends :) Fingers crossed!
HOWEVER, I would like to give you all a complete story from start to finish, because I feel like you deserve it. You have all been so wonderful and encouraging, and I want to say thank you. THANK YOU. I can’t say that enough. You motivate me to keep going, even when it is hard and I just want to crawl into a cave and stay there forever (and believe me, Query Letter Hell is hard. It burns like the fire of a thousand suns! Yes, I keep saying that. BECAUSE IT’S TRUE.)
With that in mind, I present to you all…BLAME. This is a story that I am not going to be trying to publish, because it is a story just for you. I began writing it last year as part of a short story competition, but I didn’t end up submitting it because it took on a life of its own and waaaay exceeded the word count. I am still working on it, so I will be posting it as I go along. That is important to note, because it won’t be as polished as HEAT. I finished writing HEAT in 2011, and I’ve been editing it for about two years! Cubbins would be proud.
Now that I’ve rambled on for a good 500 words, here is the first instalment of BLAME. I hope you like it. As always, comments, suggestions, and vegan cupcakes are welcomed. I’m like Tinkerbell: I’ll die without applause.*
(One more paragraph of rambling)
Before we begin, here is what you might read on the back of the book if it were actually a book. (Please note: Writing this feels a lot like Query Letter Hell and therefore I HATE IT ARGHHHH HULK SMASH. It also explains why it SUCKS.) BLAME is a young adult (naturally) paranormal novel-slash-novella (we’ll see what the word count is like at the end!).
That Day, everything changed for Autumn Matthews.
That Day, she lost everything that mattered to her the most.
That Day, she began her descent into madness.
And she only has herself to blame.
This comes with a TRIGGER WARNING. Stay safe.
*I don’t need applause, but I do need feedback. Comments make me love you forever.
Her eyes are open before the shriek of her alarm cuts through the air, announcing that morning has arrived. She lifts her hand to silence it, thumping the snooze button with a causal flick of her wrist. The movement causes her to wince and she returns her arm to her bed, slightly more mindful of the tender flesh of her forearm. She stares at the ceiling, counting the faint spots playing in her vision and wondering how many it would take to qualify as cause for concern. Her limbs are slightly spread out and strategically placed to ensure that no part of her is touching, that there is a space between every moveable part. She is an action figure, limited edition in mint condition. She is shrink-wrapped, packaged and put on display. She is ready to be purchased. Another minute ticks by, marked by the audible changing of the numbers on the old fashioned alarm clock resting on her bedside table. She sighs, pulling herself into a sitting position and glancing at the time.
She rests her hands on the side of the bed, using them as leverage to push herself out of bed. Immediately the flesh on her left forearm opens and bleeds, staining the crisp, white sheets surrounding her. She watches it for a few moments, mesmerised by the way each ribbon of blood winds itself way out of her veins, down her arm and onto the sheets. Each time a drop hits the sheets it blooms like a perfect red rose growing in the middle of a field of snow. After a few minutes she rouses herself, realising with a jolt of her heart that her father would be making the early morning rounds soon. He could enter her room at any moment. She sighs and pushes herself out of bed, dragging the purple patchwork quilt over the blood stained sheets and quietly padding towards the bathroom.
The tiles are cold under her bare feet, but she is once again infinitely grateful for the fact that she has her own bathroom. She had worn her usual apathetic hunch while she trailed behind her father at the open house months ago, grunting an unintelligible reply to every inane question he’d asked her. She didn't understand why he insisted on pretending that he didn't loathe every fibre of her being; why he continued to act as though he didn't wish that she was the one who had died on That Day. More to the point, she didn't see the need to play into his happy family facade, so she made little to no effort to communicate with him. The most he ever got was a couple of mumbled syllables, and even that was a rare occurrence. But when they had reached the bedroom that was ultimately going to be hers she’d straightened up, immediately fixated on the idea of having her own bathroom attached to her bedroom. She would no longer need to skulk around the house in the middle of the night to ease the tension that was continually building inside her; she would have private access to her tools of self-medication 24-7. Her father had been so surprised by her sudden interest -- no matter how slight -- that he’d made a rather overzealous offer on the house then and there, which was accepted almost instantaneously. And so they had moved; packed up their things and drove away into the sunset without looking back. Except it was raining that day. Naturally.
She turns the on the water and steps inside the shower, making it as hot as she can take it before bumping it up a couple of degrees for good measure. The heat accelerates the bloody droplets still trickling down her arm, and the tiles around her feet quickly become tinged in pink. Her mind grows as foggy as the glass doors of the shower and she reaches up towards the rail, moving in slow motion. Her fingers curl around their destination and she brings her hand to her face, inspecting her weapon of choice for any flaws on its cool, metal surface. Despite the heat of the shower the small razor blade still feels cold against her skin, and she twists it around in her palm, stroking it like a well-loved pet. She picks it up and raises her right hand, hovering over her still bleeding arm. She closes her eyes and sucks a shallow breath into her fog-filled lungs.
She stops herself after the third one, feeling her stomach swoop enough make her clutch the slippery walls for support. Thick ribbons of condensation run over her fingers like sweat dripping down the centre of her spine on a hot day and she straightens up, returning the blade to the top of the shower rail and switching off the water. Her head is swimming and she stumbles into the thinner air, greedily gulping lungfuls of fog-free oxygen. In the clearer light she can see she has once again gone too far and she hastily fumbles through the bottom drawer of the vanity, looking for something to staunch the flow of blood before she completely loses her head. After what feels like an eternity she finds a stiff, thick roll of gauze and she unwinds it, wrapping generous amounts around her throbbing forearm. Once her arm is tightly bound her mind goes blank and she moves automatically, removing all traces of her sin in a matter of minutes. That was the last time, she tells herself harshly, clutching a towel around her still wet body with one hand and rinsing the blood out of the sponge with another. The last time.
Just like every other time.