As you’re probably aware, I’ve been writing a new WIP. It’s title at the moment is The Leaking Manuscript. Instead of blogging, I’ve been spending my time working on that, so I thought I might share the beginning with you all and hope you like it enough to read the WIP when I release it as a PDF. Anyway, here you go:
The Leaking Manuscript
My tired eyelids weighed heavily down on me as I sagged over the keyboard. Almost blind from the urge to sleep, I felt for my coffee. It was black, extra strong and tasted like grit with every sip. It was the only thing keeping me awake any more.
The late nights were getting to me.
My eyes tipped shut and my head lolled forward, but Lydia started screaming at me and the doze was short lived. She was determined that I finished the chapter before I slept. My head started to nod again, my fingers stilling on the keyboard.
Don’t you dare leave me in limbo! Don’t you dare!
I snapped my eyes open. “I’m awake. I’m awake.” The words were slow and slurred, but I could see Lydia’s sadistic smile unfold in my imagination. Sometimes it felt like she was more alive than I was.
I swilled the coffee and took another gritty sip. Putrid.
Why do you drink that stuff?
“Don’t talk to me while I’m working,” I muttered distractedly. The words on the screen swam before my eyes. I squinted and rubbed my forehead like that would somehow help everything focus.
You’re not working. You’re sitting there screwing up your face. You’re supposed to be finishing the damn chapter.
I muttered something and wiggled the mouse.
You can’t kill me off. Kill off the protagonist and you kill off the story. You’ll never get published if you kill me!
Her shrill, know-it-all voice cut right through me. Why did I have to create the characters that were smart arses? She flicked her blonde hair and poked me right in the grey matter. I rubbed the back of my skull where my brain had started to ache.
Lydia stepped back from the dark shadow filling her doorway. Her green eyes lit up with fear. She snatched the carving knife, brandishing it in his hidden face. “Come any closer and I’ll carve you up!” she screeched with a trembling voice-
Carve him up? Carve him up?! This isn’t some silly teen movie. I thought you wanted to be a real writer?
My forehead thudded against the desk with a muted note of pain. My eyes were black with smudges. I couldn’t keep this up. It wasn’t like I could even get any respite. How can you when the person giving you grief is in your head?
I hit the backspace with a little more gusto than needed to delete the snatch of dialogue. I clicked the x in the corner of the screen before Lydia could realise what I was doing. She started screeching as soon as the save prompt appeared. I imagined her standing in front of me as the computer buzzed and shut down. She had her arms folded angrily across her chest.
Don’t think I’m going to let you sleep! I know what you’ll do; you’ll just leave me hanging in that scene for days! You’ll say it’s writer’s block! Well, I don’t buy it, missy!
In my head, I saw her push over my computer chair, but my whole body felt so much like lead that I just flopped into bed, fully clothed, and drowned in dreams of the shadowy character in my manuscript.
Somewhere in the inky black scuffle with the shadow creature my alarm went off. I peered into the too strong daylight, wishing it was my day off. My feet swung out to find the floor, but I moved too fast and fell over something on the floor.
Lying on the floor in a sleepy heap is never the best way to start the morning. Confusion overtook tiredness, when I realised that the chair was overturned on its side. I was sure I hadn’t left it like that last night. It had been upright when I’d imagined Lydia tossing it to one side…
The imaginative side of my mind stayed mutinously quiet.
Now that really was ridiculous. Characters can’t come to life and knock over chairs. I’d probably just done it in my sleep or maybe I’d walked into it when I’d gotten out of bed.
I changed my clothes and brushed my hair through, heading down to the kitchen. Marmalade on toast and a swig of last night’s cold coffee were all I had time for before I left the small house.
Part of me worried that Lydia wasn’t bothering me. After a writing crash like that, she usually bugged me for hours.
Keys clicked in the lock and I hurried down the street to the café. Waitressing was the best that I could do until I finally finished my novel. When I finished it there was still no guarantee that Lydia and the mysterious shadow would be accepted or become a success.
I hurried into the café, slapped my coat on the hook and apologised for being late. The hours were long, but the pay was welcome. Waitressing isn’t the most highly paid job, but it’s still demanding both physically and mentally.
A few hours in, I was already ready for my bed. If Lydia thought I’d have enough energy left to finish off that scene then she was sadly mistaken. She’d been quiet all day, though, and that incident with the chair was still niggling at me. I moved to a table by the window where a crabby old bat was complaining about her drink. I offered to get another one for her and dallied behind the counter, imagining that a team of armed police officers would jump on her and get rid of her.
There was a loud noise and the glass of the front window shattered. I froze a few steps from the counter. The other younger waitress ducked behind with a high screech. It was like slow motion. The glass fell in a curtain of frosty shards, special operation police officers jumped through with snipers and black uniform.
My jaw dropped.
They surrounded the old bat and yelled out an arrest warrant. I didn’t catch the words, but they hauled the woman out of the door. Officers swarmed around us, telling us to keep calm, that they would need statements, but I backed through the kitchen doors and stood, shaking, with the old bat’s drink still crushed in my hand.
That was a coincidence, right? The chair and the old woman were just coincidences. It didn’t mean anything.
I looked up and saw a shadowy figure in the kitchen, the same shadowy figure that Lydia had been faced with last night.
The hot chocolate slid through my hands like warm butter and splintered when it hit the floor. China and scalding liquid burst across the tiles in a firework of chaos. The shadow stepped closer to me, hood drawn up to shield his face…
Read the final PDF to find out what happens…
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