Thursday, April 03, 2014

Another Murdered Darling

Most remember the line differently, myself included, but when I looked up William Faulkner’s quote, what I got from multiple places was, In writing, you must kill all your darlings.

Here, my murdered beloved is this excerpt from Chapter 5 of Grace Among the Dead, “Sweat Lodge.” I found myself forced to remove this passage detailing Derek Grace’s escape from his now-deserted former home in north Colorado Springs because I couldn’t make the transitions in and out of the flashback work as smoothly as I liked. It also went on too long, hobbling the narrative rhythm.

Fortunately, I have a blog so good stuff like this won’t go to waste. If this is the kind of stuff I’m throwing out, I can’t complain. The rewrite is going very well.

Here’s the setup: Off-camera, and between books 1 and 2 in the Dead Silencer series, Derek Grace arrived at his Colorado Springs home only to find it empty, with a three-page note from his daughter telling him the general location where they’ve gone—as well as detailing the final hours of his wife Claire’s life as she succumbed to the Final Flu.

As the neighborhood is infested with the hungry dead Grace sneaks out the back door of his house, flanking the small mob at his front door. He barely makes it into his truck. 

Roll clip:

I drove as fast as I dared along the western edge of the park abutting my son’s old elementary school. The park where we used to throw ball, the broad, steep hill we slid down in the winter. The wide green field was dotted with jaundiced ex-humans, their arms swinging limply from their shoulders as they hiked one leg in front, then another. However damaged and mindless, they were locked in on the sound of my truck.

I swerved through the remains of my former neighbors as they piled out of their yards to send me off, through the thicket of dirty, grasping hands. It’s just as well I didn’t know these people. Like most good Americans, my family kept to themselves. I avoided my neighbors then; we’re definitely avoiding them now. 

I blazed through the three-way stop at Austin Bluffs before skidding into the intersection at Woodmen Road, just missing the abandoned police car parked in the middle. A blue-green corona of shattered safety glass fanned out from the smeared and dented hulk like confectionary sugar garnishing a dessert. The front tires were flat, the front end caved in as if so many bodies had piled themselves atop. Which they likely had.

I steered into the eastbound lanes of Woodmen and gunned the truck up that last high, terraced ridge separating the foothills of the Rockies from the eastern Colorado plains. The hospital straddles the spine of this ridge, and I eased my foot from the pedal as I approached. 

The Life Flight helicopter was gone from its pad. Aside from a few scattered wads of blankets and some dark stains on the concrete there was no sign of all the people Sybil reported laid out around the emergency room. No shattered glass, but I noticed the double glass doors standing wide open to darkness and God knows what else.

Jesus, Claire. All these years, everything we went through. Just to end up here. And for what?

To think maybe it began again for you here…. 

The grunt of an approaching walker brought me back to the present. I looked over, half-fearing it might be…no. Just some poor bastard who got caught on the job at the home improvement store down the hill and across the street. Pieces of his face stained his orange apron. I hit the gas and sped away. 

Don’t get comfortable.
This set and others available from It’s Alive! Designs.
I drove as far out as Falcon, turning on a side road a few blocks up from the intersection with US 24. Somehow I found Hidden Farm. How I caught that opening in the trees, the total lack of opposition from living or dead, I might have called it a gift from God, if I believed in that sort of thing. It was getting dark. I had just enough time to get my bags and some cans of food inside.

I slept on the floor that first night. When I got up the next day I discovered I had running water. I showered, washed my clothes. I walked around. I assessed security, and hid my truck in the barn. I set my living area up so I could grab everything quickly and go. Then I made my biggest mistake.

I got comfortable.

Grace Among the Dead: Book 2 of The Saga of the Dead Silencer
Copyright © 2014, 2017 by Lawrence Roy Aiken. All rights reserved.

And in case you missed Part 1 of the Saga, here’s Bleeding Kansas! (Apologies for the shameless plug, but I’ve got a family to feed. Unlike the dead, we’re really into that shelter and electricity and clean running water thing, too.)