Day 287: Five ideas for a novel that you’ll never write.

 

The day that the demons came, I was making pasta bake for Suzie Macmillan and Edwin Hall. Our lectures had finished at three on Tuesdays, so it was only right and proper that one of us made food before we all headed to the bar. This particular Tuesday, the wheel had turned once more to point to me and my sub-par culinary skills.

“Do I have to cook?” I asked as we walked away from Professor Edward’s talk on Demons in Fiction and Fact. We figured it would be an easy way to make up some credits, thus allowing us to spend more time in the pub. It turned out to be very dull and uninteresting, just Edwards droning on about representations of demons in the Catholic Church.

“Yes, Darwin.” Suzie replied, tossing her hair over her shoulder. She had a habit of doing that, as if she were using it to flick away a fly or something. Either way, her tone made it clear that I would be cooking.

I hate cooking.

Edwin had moved off to one side, squinting through his thick glasses as if he were staring at the tip of his nose. “I’ll see you guys in a bit. Meet you at Darwin’s, yeah?” Then he just ran across the green, clutching his books to his chest.

Suzie stared after him, then shook her head. “I’ll never understand that boy. Right, I’m off. I’ll be round at six, yeah?”

“Yeah. It’ll be ready.” I said, knowing two facts perfectly well. Dinner would not be ready and Suzie wouldn’t be at my place for six. She preferred to arrive… Fashionably late.

It was one of the reasons I knew something was wrong, actually. Five to six and Suzie was banging on my door and swearing at me to open the door. She’s never been on time for the past three years.

Something was definitely wrong.

The ideas here are: 

  • The demon invasion
  • The odd love triangle
  • The strangely specific story telling
  • The mentor Professor Edwards
  • The character called Darwin

I’ve had a few of these ideas floating around for a while, so I thought I’d throw them all in together and see what came out.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 264: A storm destroys your uncle’s shed and kills his six-year-old son. Describe the color of the sky right before the storm hits.

landing-stage-sea-nature-beach.jpg

Nathan,

This is the note found in the lodgings of Mr Harold Harvey. It seems perfectly normal and yet… Have a read.

Clear skies are simply a canvas awaiting dark clouds. That’s what Uncle Aloysius always said to us. He never was the same after Frederick died.

I was thirteen years old, the day the storm came. Freddie and I had been playing out on the beach, playing catch with a tennis ball. Freddie was a good kid, always scrambling to explore and to learn and living by the beach gave him everything he wanted. Every time we went to visit, he’d rush back from the beach, blue eyes glittering with a smile and whatever new treasure he’d found clasped in his hands.

His smile gleamed in the sunlight. The world got a little bit darker after the storm.

We came back in, Freddie covered in mud and scrapes from the rock pools we’d had a look at and me in my strange combination of shorts and wellingtons. We must have looked a right pair.

By this point, I was about twice the size of Freddie, all arms and legs and the beginnings of teenage angst. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be at Aloysius’ beach house, but Freddie could still pull me into being a child again. He could make anybody feel that way, like his energy was a virus that infected you and made you think like him. I loved that kid.

His mum, Auntie Suzanne, sent him out to the shed to put his clothes in the washer. I always wondered why they kept it out there, but hadn’t bothered asking before. Of course, there was never really a right time for it afterwards.

He did his best to wheedle out of it, but you can only argue with Auntie Suzanne’s stern face for about three minutes, then he stuck out his bottom lip and said “Fine.” He rushed out to the shed.

That’s when I heard the argument. Aloysius and Dad, just raised voices to start with, but it quickly devolved into shouting. I snuck through the house towards the lounge, where they had a few empty bottles kicking around.

“Your son needs an education! He needs a strategy! You can’t just abandon him to the wilds because you don’t know how to deal with him!” That’s Dad. A man who looks as though a brisk wind would send him flying away, but if you got him riled, you had to be on the lookout. He’d use words like a lumberjack used an axe; swift, effective and you’d be the one falling over at the end.

“He’s my son and I’ll do what I damn well please. You get that? Just because your boy is a waste of space.”

“Say another word about my son, you piece of shit.”

The blue sky outside was descending into a grey haze and a wind began to swirl around the house. The beams of the old cabin rattled as their argument raged on. My heart was beating as if it were trying to shatter my ribs, something I firmly believed it would accomplish if I didn’t do something. I pushed the door to the lounge open, only to have it pushed right back by a gust of wind, screeching through the house like the breath of a vengeful god. People hurled themselves from the walls to the relative safety of the floor as the grey haze outside faded into black, ominous clouds.

I looked up, directly out of the back door towards the shed. I saw Freddie curled inside, eyes wide with terror. I knew that once again, I had to do something. My heart was striving to escape now, hammering away as my breath came faster and faster. I crawled towards the door and his eyes met mine.

He nodded at me, then bolted from the door towards the house. There was a wet thud, then where Freddie had been, there was nothing but a long scrape in the ground. I closed my eyes, tears rolling uncontrollably down my face as I curled into a ball on the hardwood floor.

I don’t know how long I lay there crying, but by the time I stopped the skies had cleared again. Uncle Aloysius had found his son, down by the rock pools he’d been searching earlier that day. Or at least, he’d found what was left of him. A sign, proclaiming Freddie’s favourite beach to be the most beautiful spot on Marie Le Noon had been torn from its foundations and flown through the air like a kite.

Freddie would have gone instantly.That, and the fact that the shed had come completely apart as well, were the only small comforts I had. That freak storm, as the media called it, tore our family apart. My grades hit the floor, Aloysius and Suzanne broke up, Mum and Dad even moved to Russia. It wasn’t far enough though.

That freak storm wasn’t the only one I came across in my lifetime. They followed me, everywhere I went. Every time I got scared, or angry, or upset, the skies would darken and the storm would rise. Which always put me into a downwards spiral as I would remember what happened to Freddie and the vicious cycle would continue.

So today, I close the circle. I’m sorry, everyone. But I can’t hurt anybody else. By the time you find this, I’ll be dead. There are no storms in Heaven.

I’ll see you soon, kid.

Harold Harvey, 12th December 1990

Beside it was located a diver’s knife, a bottle of prescription painkillers and a noose, very neatly laid out on a small stool. The confusing matter is the fact that the knife was clean, the bottle still full and the noose untouched and of course the fact that there was no bloody body at the scene either. The story of Harold Harvey requires some digging. Are you up to the challenge, brother? 

Meet me at the Docker’s cafe, three o’clock on Monday. I’m sure we can come to some arrangement. 

Victor

In my head, I have this as a mystery story. A puzzle to be solved by my protagonist, Nathan. Of course, this also means I can bring in either a supernatural element by saying that Harvey’s has weather controlling abilities, or I could make him the victim of an attack by somebody else who can. It could be science, it could be magic. Either way, this is one I intend to check in on again. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 97: A soldier is about to embark on a mission that she knows will kill her.

Captain Janet Harker stood tall in the bright halogens. She held the forty page report in her left hand, staring at the black ink waiting on the innocent white page. The words stamped across it are blades that cut deep into her soul.

MISSION REPORT.

OPERATION CALICO

15 JULY 2020

She focused her dark green eyes on those words, raising the glass of whisky in her right hand to rise to her lips. A slow sip later, and she flicked through the pages, one by one until she reached the final page. She read those printed words aloud, rolling them around her mouth, off her tongue.

‘We find that the actions undertaken on 15 July 2020 lead to the approval for OPERATION HESSIAN. The intelligence gathered and potential further intelligence outweighs the risk. Following the overwhelming success of CALICO, Captain Harker will lead HESSIAN. Briefing is 13 December at Renfield Barracks.’

She grasped the papers tight. HESSIAN had been an insane proposal. A full frontal assault on the border, intended to push the Aberinese back to Carapur. CALICO had revealed a weak point in the Aberinese defences, a tendency to cluster to the sides and leave an effective chute through the middle. It would be suicide to take a section through the centre, but a positive enough thrust could get them to follow, leaving them to get rounded up by the following company.

And that’s what HESSIAN was. A run down the centre. They were asking her to lead her men to their deaths while they sat in their offices. Some of them haven’t seen active service in fifteen years and they were expecting the charge. It was madness.

She picked the phone from her desk. Slowly punched in eleven numbers.

‘Castor.’ A groggy voice rolled slowly through the speaker, like thunder over the plains.

‘Cas, it’s Harker. I need to see you.’

‘Harker? Are you for real? It’s four o’clock in the fucking morning?’ Sergeant Castor Ferkin had responded in his usual manner. Gruff, but vaguely well meaning.

‘Cas, I’ve not got time for the crap. Get to my office. Now.’ She ended the call before he could protest, then smoothed her uniform down. She took long strides to the desk and poured another glass of whisky. A large one this time.

It took Castor twenty-three minutes to get to the office. Not that Harker knew, she just registered it as three whiskies. He broke her from her stupor by crashing through the door like an angry bear, his shirt buttoned up in the wrong holes, odd socks adorning his feet. ‘This had better be something big, Harker.’ He growled. For most people, that would be hyperbole but Castor’s voice was a genuine growl, a legacy from CALICO.

Thirteen men  had been captured, Castor among them. Aberine practice was to cut a prisoners throat and dump his body in the river. They called it returning, part of their religion. Well, Castor got returned. They slit his throat and dumped him like illicit chemicals into the Arabine. Whoever killed him did a real botch job though. His vocal cords took some damage, but the tendons in his neck had stopped the knife cutting the carotid. Hence the growl.

Harker just pushed forward the crumpled stack of paper, taking another sip of whiskey as he picked the papers up, rifling through them.She placed her black boots on the desk, staring into the glass. ‘We’re going back to the border, Cas. They approved HESSIAN.’

‘They approved it.’ Castor put one of his giant hands against his scarred throat, pulling at the skin in desperation. ‘Well, shit.’

I think I’ll be returning to this world in a future episode. I’m enjoying the characters and scenery, but unfortunately, like all mortals, I have to sleep and have a tendency to get caught up in this sort of thing. So, stay tuned. Captain Harker and Castor will be back. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil