On the spectrum of authors, I’m what is commonly referred to as a “plotter.” At the other end are the “pantsers.” I used to be one, and today I envy their word counts with my every breath. Years ago, I could spit out epic length novels in ten months. Now, I spend that much time writing down notes about characters and fragments of scenes to be stitched together later. Finally, after a year, I have the first 10,000 words complete on my current work-in-progress "Glitch," the first book of a paranormal series. I hope to have a complete first draft by this summer.
The scene below is part of chapter two. Micah’s scenes are told in 1st person POV, and present tense.
I keep my eye on the scope of the rifle. Trigger finger rests against the gun, above the trigger guard. Behind the crosshairs is the most beautiful animal I’ve ever seen in the wild.
“Strange stag,” I reply.
My dad asks, “How so?”
The old buck turns his head toward me and looks up across the water of the stream. Ears are wrong for a mule. Color is right for whitetail this time of year, but my gut says he’s not.
“He’s still got his fall rack. Thirteen points.” In April.
I’m a hunter. I have been since I could aim a rifle. Four years old, I was, or so my dad says. The memory is lost to me now, replaced by farm chores, gospel, and the Pledge of Allegiance. Filling in the spaces between are bits of trivia about deer that tells me this one doesn’t belong in my woods.
He dips his snout back toward the water and takes another drink. I adjust my aim once again to a spot behind his shoulder and watch his chest pulse with each breath. The woods around him are peaceful. He’s calm.
I raise my hand from the trigger and wrap my thumb around the bolt. Slowly, I swing it up, pull it back, and then push it forward. I lower my hand and wrap it back around the stock, returning my trigger finger to the guard. My lungs draw in a deep breath, which I hold for a long moment.
My parents have a picture of me with my first kill. I’m wearing an orange vest over my coat. My knees are pressed in the dirt. It’s cold. I can tell because my cheeks are pink and I have a knitted cap pulled down over my ears. In my left hand is a .22 bolt-action rifle. I still have it, that gun. It’s in a case under my bed. It’s just the right size for a child, and I hope to have one someday.
My father is kneeling next to me in the photo. His hand rests on my shoulder while I stroke the bloodied fur of the animal in my lap.
“Ready when you are,” my father says.
I exhale the breath in my lungs and move my finger to the trigger.
Through the scope, I see the stag lift his head. I’m too far away for him to have heard the dry fire, but he looks straight at me. He sniffs the air, then turns to his right and walks away.
I push myself up to my knees and sit back on my heels. Something hard taps my shoulder. Looking toward it, I see a scuffed silver flask. The cap is hanging by a chain over my father’s calloused fingers and I can smell alcohol.
Holding it out to the woods, I tell the stag, “Good day, Old Man.” The small sip I take goes down like liquid fire and I give the flask back. Dad nods at the woods as well before taking a drink. The flask goes into a zipped pocket of my dad’s backpack.
With my rifle in one hand, I take my dad’s hand with the other and let him pull me off the ground. I have an AR-15 slung around my shoulder, hanging on my left. It’s good for getting attention should I need to, and the .40 cal holstered on my right hip is for just-in-case a badger gives me no choice. In all my years up here, that’s never happened.
The AR and the .40 are loaded, but the rifle’s not. The freezer’s stocked and hunting season’s half a year away. I have ammo in my pack, but we’ll only need it if we have to shoot dinner, which does happen.
That picture, the one of me and my dad and the dead rabbit, hangs at eye level above my light switch. Every time I see it, I hear my father say, Never for sport, Micah. You shoot it. You eat it.
And my reply, he says, was, Thank you, Mr. Rabbit.
“Day’s-a-wastin’,” Dad says. “Whaddya say we get at that cave?”
I smile. “Yes, sir.”
I follow my dad into the cave.
We know this cave well, having explored miles of subterranean caverns over the years. Once, we got caught in a snow storm and sheltered here for several days. My dad’s flashlight shining up ahead is all I need until I secure the rifle to its sling. Something is wrong.
With each step, the cave gets darker, the space around me stiller, until the world is pitch black and dead silent. I stop in my tracks and turn my head, first right, then left, before turning around in a circle. No flashlight. No daylight. No light at all.
(First Draft of a) Glitch Blurb: Ruby Sakai isn’t supposed to have friends over when her parents aren’t home, but when her almost-boyfriend, Micah Hartman, is taken out of her house in an ambulance, there’s no hiding that she broke the rule. She might even care about the trouble she’s in, if the doctors at their small town hospital knew what was wrong with Micah. As the hours roll by, she worries that he may not wake up at all. When he does wake up, the shy farm boy she’s fallen in love with is gone, replaced by someone who looks like him but is confident, even sexy, and ready to seize life for all it’s worth, starting with her. She buys into the new him. At first.
For more information about Wendy S. Russo, click here.