Novel #14

After the not too good Power came the not too good vs. Yep, vs. Just like that. The title is relevent, though.

This was from another idea formed during university study, and in fact I wrote the entire first section one day during a lecture for something. It ended up at 60600-odd words, finished a month after Power. I think the main problem with vs is twofold – it has yet another whiny, why-me central character, and the idea or concept is not a good one.

First, though, a positive – the style. The story is written in alternate chapters and interludes. The chapters are the story, the interludes are the reflections of the story from the first person point of view of the only surviving character ten years later. I think that works well as a mechanism, if only that character telling the story ten years later did not sound so damn pathetic.

Now, the story. I wanted to write an updated version of the Biblical tale of Job, of some one used as a pawn between good and evil by the powers of both, but without the ability to make the right choice. I made the powers of evil more cunning and better able to hide, but the powers of good a little more naive and almost pathetic. And so the main character was torn between his best friend and his new girlfriend, while the McGuffin of a series of priests who had performed successful exorcisms being killed was woven throughout the narrative. The names were also important. Peter Young was the main character (Peter, the rock, the younger, a new version); Michael Noone was the good guy (Michael, the archangel, Noone, no-one), and the girlfriend was Lilly Starr (Lillith, the demoness, Starr, for the morning star – Lucifer). Very clever, I thought.

To say the whole thing didn’t work is an understatement.

And yet at the time I liked it enough to submit it twice. One no response, one form rejection. Now I read it and cringe.

Oh, and don’t worry, there’s only one more whiny, pathetic main character to come. then they become a little more realistic, and, in general, more confounded by what’s happening to them, not just pathetic emo-lite adults. But the ellipsis, that still runs rampant throughout the work. Damn them!

Excerpt

The dreams were some of the worst he had had since they had first discovered the body of Father Peake in the school’s chapel. Fire and death and blood and pain. That was all he could remember, but he still woke up with the sheets curled into a ball between his legs and his fist thrust so deep into his mouth that he had drawn blood with his teeth. He stared at the alarm clock beside the bed; the green numbers flashed at him ‘12:00’ over and over. He shook his head and fumbled for his watch. That also flashed with the ‘12:00’ at him. He shook his head. Power failure and watch battery broken? He grunted to himself and pulled himself to his feet, dragging the sheets with him, as he made his way towards the kitchen where the battery operated wall clock – a gift from his mother when he had moved out of home – stood over the serving counter.

The second hand was not moving. That and both the other hands were all pointing directly upwards.

He felt a tingle run through the hairs of his spine and he shivered a little.

“Ah yes, time does indeed stand still,” came a voice from behind him.

He turned quickly and immediately moved backwards until the small of his back painfully hit the counter.

There was no-one there. His eyes darted about his surroundings like a frightened a rabbit but he was quite definitely alone. But he was not alone. He could feel that some-one else was here, and that that voice had not been the product of an over-active imagination.

“But for you time will not.” That voice was coming from his bedroom. “You will live with your decisions forever.”

He walked carefully forwards, each step feeling as though he was moving through molasses. He so wanted to turn and run, to flee this place, but he also wanted to know what was going on. After his conversation with Brother Nicholas the previous day and what he had seen in Michael’s house, he was not sure he knew what exactly was going on here… or even if he wanted to know.

But he did want to know… Of course he did…

He paused at the door, slightly ajar, the last barrier between himself and whatever lay behind it. “Make the right decision. Our lives depend on it,” the voice said, now filled with emotion.

He pushed open the door and stared. Laying on the bed was a figure he recognised. Thinner, with less hair, a lined, drawn face and dull, lifeless eyes, but still recognisable.

And if he did not know better, he would have sworn he was staring at himself twenty years older…

And now he screamed, and he screamed and he could not stop screaming…

Rejection total: 67 + 2 = 69

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