We hit another (and not the last) glitch in the road after Invisible Friend.
Brooke was written at the end of 1996, after almost a year of churning out cliché ridden fantasy short stories. Clocking in at 50000 words, it has a flawed premise, and poor writing. I think the only bits I like are the first meeting of the titular character, and the ending where the narrator, Rick, finds out what she is going through.
Brooke tells the story of Brooke, a girl who is fostered by a family who are friends of Rick’s family. She turns out to be a demon who has no memory of her demonic nocturnal activities. She is an evil killer at night, but an angst-ridden teenager during the day. Okay? Rick goes out of his way to save her, but fails spectacularly, though she is not longer evil. Stupid, odd, and probably I wrote it 15 years too early. It’s the sort of childish tripe which seems to get a huge audience nowadays.
Much like Invisible Friend, the main character is whiny, though he has no reason to be. And Brooke is a two-dimensional cardboard cutout of a girl who needs the man to save her. Pathetic.
But it does have some good bits. Some of the descriptions of transformation I think are well done, and I like the seminary library I created for this tale. I also revisited Mondragon, a town I invented for Invisible Friend… and would subsequently revisit a few more times. And my love affair with the ellipsis continued unabated…
But a bump in the road is what this is, a bump I think I needed to get this sort of supernatural horror cliché out of my system, so my next novel actually had a sort of original premise. Sometimes it’s good to drive those clichés onto paper…
Brooke sat beside me in the car in silence, not even complaining about my choice of music for a change. I had told her that we had to go somewhere, that it was important, that it could even help her. I could not bring myself to tell her that I thought the person we were going to visit was potentially our only hope. Yet she had just shaken her head and curled up in my arms, sitting there on the floor of our apartment. She fell asleep quickly; I not long after. I woke sometime after eleven in the morning. After laying her on the bed I showered and cleaned myself up. Then I very carefully dressed her, carried her to the car and took off; we were both going and that, I decided, was that. I had all but convinced myself that this was her only chance. She did not actually awaken until we were well past Gawler and on our way headed north. And for more than half an hour she just sat there, tense, refusing to speak, even shrugging off all of my attempts to touch her. It was only when the cassette stopped and I fiddled with a second one that she finally spoke. “Where are we going?” she asked, her voice full of fear.
“We’ve got to see some-one,” I responded carefully, repeating the words I had been saying all morning, sounding harsh even to my own ears.
She stared at me out of the corners of our eyes. “You’re not going to kill me, are you?” she asked pathetically.
“What?” I asked in confusion.
“I’m a monster.” She was crying. “Isn’t that why we’re out here? So you can get rid of the monster?”
I sighed and grit my teeth as I pulled the car to the side of the road. The two cars that had been following us since Port Wakefield zoomed past at high speed, shaking my old vehicle a little, and then I faced her. She almost seemed to shy away from any contact with me yet again, but I grabbed her hands with mine and stared into those wide, deep, brown eyes. “Yes, it is why we’re out here,” I stated. “To get rid of that… that thing. But I’m not going to kill you.”
“I am a monster,” she whispered as if the realisation had only just dawned on her.
“Come on, Brooke…” And I dragged her in close to me. She resisted at first, still trying to keep away, but I held firm. She stared at me, looked into my eyes, then grabbed me just as tight, suddenly not wanting to let go at all.
“I’m a monster…” she sobbed, over and over again. She was twelve years old again, trying to cope with an all-too realistic bad dream. And I did what I had done back when, as a fifteen year old, I was extremely uncomfortable with a situation that had been forced upon me with this youngster: I simply reacted as I would have back then – I stroked the top of her head and rocked her back and forth, but said nothing. Too much like when I was that teenager being asked to help a poor, sick child who had taken a liking to me, who I considered one of my best friends, I did not know what to do. So I did nothing really; I was just there for her.
Like once before (and at least twice more to come), tough to find a good piece here…