Your’s Truly — Day 1

(The challenge … linearly write a novella online. No editing, no tricks, just out there. No prewriting, no hours of research. I must be thoroughly insane, but I’m not one to shy away from a challenge. My attempt is entitled Your’s Truly. Yes. Completely insane)

Day 1:

“Because helping you would cheapen the experience.”

Will’s brown eyes narrowed as his proffered hand closed into a fist. His body twitched as his center of gravity shifted and he felt his feet slip slightly against the scree-covered slope.

“Bastard,” Will muttered.

His companion’s blue eyes danced, laughing above him. Will watched the blond head glance up—over  the valley from which they had ascended. Snow-capped peaks stretched away from him into the distance. The two hikers were high enough that the sky was cast in that strange blue of altitude, it glowed where it touched at the mountains even though it was only early afternoon. “Look,” he continued, his smile twisting, “if I were to help you up–” He hesitated as his friend slipped a little further down the slope, his hands scrabbling madly for any purchase against the loose, angular scree.

“Jerk,” Will breathed, setting his teeth, his eyes closing as his arms shook with the effort of pulling himself upward.

“You would hate me forever,” his companion continued as if Will had not spoken. He chuckled. “And I’d have to tell Maggie how I saved your sorry ass.”

“Piss off, Eric,” Will growled as he blew out his breath, pushing himself flat against the scree in an attempt to arrest his slide back to the valley floor.

“That’s not how you do it,” Eric offered as he sat back on his heels, still smiling.

Will’s chest heaved with his breathing as he looked around for any decent handhold against the side of the mountain that seemed to be slowly sliding down toward the valley. His gloveless hands ached with the effort of curling his fingers among the jagged rocks. At least he wasn’t bleeding a lot of his blood.

“That’s it,” Eric encouraged him from the top. He gave his blond head a brisk nod that Will did not see. “Wedge your fingers in between.”

Will reset his teeth. “Shut up, Eric,” he grumbled. Will groaned as he pulled himself upwards toward the top of the slope where Eric sat back on his heels, having shed his pack and shirt, letting the sun warm him even as snowpack surrounded him.

“Don’t be a pussy, Will,” Eric continued by way of encouragement. He smiled anew as Will cursed him under his breath and scrabbled against the rock that continued to slide.

“Skinny bitch,” Will snarled as his Hi-Techs found purchase against the rock and pushed him higher.

Eric laughed and stood up, shielding his eyes as he took in the view. “Told you when we planned this that you needed to work out more.”

Will Jouray did not reply. He was not going to let Eric Mattheson beat him. No way would he let him win. As Will’s muscles strained to pull him higher up the cliff, he closed his eyes. He saw himself with Eric in the bar in Fairbanks, the music droning around them, Maggie astride his lap, his hands gently cupping that fabulous ass as she reached past him, her long, brown hair tangling around him, toward the table to retrieve her beer.

“Twelve days,” Eric was saying as Denise slipped her arms around his waist, playing with the belt loops of his Carhartts. He nodded. “Twelve days from Ice Lake through to Amy Creek. We’ll hit the Yellowcreek Mining Site and call for a pick up.”

Maggie shot Denise a glance, but Denise just shrugged.

Eric smiled wickedly before he brushed back her black hair, kissing lightly at her neck as he reached for his beer.

“What’s the catch?” Will began, thoroughly enjoying how Maggie insisted on shifting across his lap, glad he would not have to stand up for a while longer.

Eric chuckled, those blue eyes sparkling. “We agree,” he continued, his voice dropping lower, “A thousand calories a day.”

Will took the beer Maggie offered him and hesitated before he took a swig. He switched an unsteady gaze to the bottle. Twelve ounces of Alaskan Amber… 180 calories. He did the math in his head.

“Fifteen miles a day on the equivalent of ten beers.” Even then, Will could hear his speech slur.

Eric chuckled. “Five and a half beers, Will.”

Will sighed as his hands tightened around Maggie. “What will you do without me for twelve days?” he started as he nuzzled against her long, brown hair. He smiled as she took his face in her hands.

“I’ll miss you, babe,” she whispered softly against his lips. She glanced at Eric and Denise before turning her gaze back to Will. “Kick his ass,” she breathed, her lips tantalizingly close. Will felt his eyes close as he leaned closer, his breathing ragged.

“You’re on!”

Eric’s voice snapped Will back to himself and his situation. He glanced up and saw Eric smiling, gesturing down to him. “You’ve got a good foothold, dude! Make use of it!”

Will glanced down and saw that his right foot was, indeed, secure against the mountain, half-buried against the scree. He chuckled and pushed. It was all he needed.

© 2010 A. K. Marshall

And The Winners of The St. Patrick’s Day Blog Hop Contests Are……..

Thank you for your patience! I touched base with Paul and Maedhbh of The Irish Ghost Hunters, and we have our winners! These folks have already been contacted, and their prizes will be winging their way (um… does mail “wing?”) as soon as they can get off the island! The winners of the scariest and funniest ghost story win a Raven’s Brew Deadman’s Reach hoodie, and the winner whose comment was chosen at random (thanks to random.org) wins a Raven’s Brew Deadman’s Reach Ball Cap.

The WINNER of the SCARIEST Ghost Story is ….. Maria Pronounced Mariah !! She submitted this story in the comments:

 

Not sure how scary it is but it is true. It was scary when i was a 6 year old little girl!

I lived in a 120 year old refurbished school house with my parents and 8 year old brother. My mother always said that she thought the was a ghost in the house…well one night when my brother and I were sleeping in our rooms that were upstairs our furniture was rearranged. I’m talking I ended up in his room and him in mine with us still in our beds. My dad was not home that night and my mom woke up to scraping noises on the floor. She is very small and has always had back problems so there is no way she could move beds and dressers.

We used to find other things moved around and lights turned on but the night above is the most drastic ever.

Thanks!

The WINNER of the FUNNIEST Ghost Story is ….. Savannah! She left this story in the comments:

Okay I don’t know if this counts but its funny well at least to me.
When me and my hubby first started dating I told him I can’t watch scary movies and go to bed…… he didn’t believe me so that night he rented the grudge and we watched it and went to bed, in the middle of the night I got up to use the bathroom and when I came back a ghost was sitting in my bed……… I screamed and ran forward, knocked the ghost over and tried sitting on it, I was scared in my mind at that moment attacking the ghost made sense. Needless to say after a second or two I was over my panic attack and realized I just attacked my boyfriend, who was being sweet and sat up in bed to make sure I wasn’t scared when I got done in the bathroom. I still lived with my parents so my little sister came running to my room to make sure I was okay my dad came over in his boxers  🙁 which was mortifying. My boyfriend who is now my hubby laughed at me and to this day still makes jokes about the grudge ghost coming to get me, on the plus side he now believes me about not being able to watch a scary movie before I go to sleep 🙂

(I love that…)

AND, the WINNER whose comment was drawn at random for the Deadman’s Reach Ballcap is ……Pamela Jo!

THANK YOUS go out to Paul Moynihan and Maedhbh Larkin (Maedhbh, I love typing your name!) of The Irish Ghost Hunters and to Raven’s Brew Coffee (Deadman’s Reach: Brewed In Bed, Raises The Dead), to Carrie Ann Ryan, whose amazing cat-herding skills led to the creation of a fantastic blog hop, and to EVERYONE who stopped by and left a comment and read the interview with our fantastic guests!

 

Coming Soon …..

I’m losing my mind and taking up the challenge set by a fellow writer. In between posts about writing and character development and process, I’m going to write a novel LIVE–as in no editing, just OUT HERE, posted as I go (yes, I’m terrified, why do you ask?). The inspiration came from the closing words of an email from IGH Paul Moynihan. I’d seen them all my life, but they didn’t hit my like this. Hope you stop back by and read along (the fun … um … terror..?) starts tomorrow. Trust me, it’s not what you think…. and it’s gonna be great!

 

 

New and Untitled … and Unedited … but NEW

“The King commands it,” he said without looking up, his dark eyes trained on the paper spread across his desk, his thick northern accent betraying a Pyrenees heritage. He thoughtfully dipped his quill in an inkwell and scratched at the paper. The silence within the ornate great room was palpable before he continued, “And as I am the King’s servant–”

“King Charles’ servant or de Godoy’s servant?” The brown-robed priest who stood patiently across the desk hazarded quietly. The priest shifted slightly on his feet, the movement not unnoticed by the finely dressed official at the desk. The priest looked as the official had imagined, yet why he was to summon him specifically was something he could not imagine. The priest was tall, thin, clean-shaven with intensely dark, brown eyes and a face lined with all of his forty-five years.

“He is the one,” de Godoy had insisted days earlier when the official, barely daring to raise the face he kept bowed, had been ordered into the royal presence. The official had shot a sidelong glance at the Queen of Spain who sat, unmovable, as her lover paced the room. He quickly turned his gaze back to the floor.

“One priest is the same as another, sir,” he had started.

De Godoy stopped pacing. “Then you know nothing of their Order. You will send for him,” de Godoy continued with a brisk nod, “and you will send him on.”

In the silent, dimly lit great room, the official hesitated, his quill twitching in irritation.  He glanced at the red robed Cardinal who sat, his hands folded serenely in his lap, in a chair behind the priest. “I endeavor to separate myself from those affairs of state.”

Father Michele Rodriquez’s lip twisted into a smile and he bowed his head quickly. “Of course,” he managed.

“Spain’s claim to the far north of the Pacific coast is far more ancient than these upstarts’,” the Cardinal cut across Father Rodriquez as if he had not spoken.

Father Michele cleared his throat before he turned and made a deep obeisance, keeping his head bowed. “His Eminence is referring to the papal bull of 1493.”

The official smiled in spite of himself, realizing his earlier pun had escaped him. “Forgive me, Father Rodriquez,” he said, gentling his voice as Father Rodriquez turned back toward him, “but with all the bother of the French and Napoleon and the coming war with Britain, can you blame their majesties for wanting to tighten their God-given grip beyond Europe?”

Father Michele waited patiently.

“This,” the official waved his hand as if at an irksome fly, “United States of America, so self-styled a democracy, is merely an experiment doomed to failure. While Spain continues to press the advantages of her colonies to the south, there is no doubt that commodities in the northern climes beckon.”

“Commodities?” Father Michele echoed.

“Furs, whale oil, all the things the damnable Russians and the Golikov-Shelikhov Company are after, Padre,” the official replied, the irritation returning momentarily to his voice. “Our ships have sailed from Central America, past our holdings in California.” Father Michele watched as the man placed the quill on his desk and folded his hands together. The man smiled. It was a smile Michele returned. “I am the Queen’s man, since the King gives no thought for his government. As I was entrusted by the Crown with the continued exploration of the north, so I entrust the civilizing of the savages to you, Father Rodriquez.”

“Civilizing?” Father Michele asked, his brow tilting.

“We can’t have them all cast into the Pit because of some misunderstanding of salvation, can we, Father? Rumor has it that Baranov is bringing Russian Orthodox missionaries to live among them. A bastion of heresy within the bounds of a Spanish protectorate would be,” the Cardinal hesitated, “unfortunate.”

“I’ve read our commanders’ journals, Eminence,” Father Rodriquez continued carefully. “These are not men who suffer strangers to exist in their midst.”

“I have complete confidence in you, Padre,” the Cardinal said as the man at the desk bent his head back to the paper in front of him. “You and your Brethren.”

“And if we fail, we are at least expendable,” Michele said quietly.

“A foothold, Father,” the official replied, his voice becoming more grave. “The Crown is seeking a foothold—to stop the Russians, to stop the Americans, to press the Spanish right and restore some of her former glory,” he took a breath, his eyes darkening, “and the French be damned.”

“Queen Maria Luisa’s man,” Father Rodriquez said softly.

The man’s lip twisted. “I daresay that de Godoy is her man, Padre, in every Biblical sense of the word.” He sighed and picked up the quill, dipping it distractedly into the inkwell. “Better we are here, Padre. Better you go to the north and freeze with the savages than face the horror that is coming to Europe.”

“There are men who say this is the most illuminated time in the history of mankind,” Father Michele said evenly. His lip twitched into a smile as the Cardinal behind him drew an audible breath. The official’s fingers tightened around his quill. He took a breath before he raised his face, training his gaze past Father Rodriquez toward the Cardinal whose knuckles had begun to whiten against the arms of the chair.

“Even now, I begin to see what their majesties saw in you, Father,” the official said, his voice barely rising above a whisper.

Michele continued to smile quietly as he placed his hand flat against his chest and bowed slightly. The official set his teeth and nodded brusquely.

“We are four years from the end of the eighteenth century, Father Rodriquez,” he continued. He bit at his lip and continued to scratch at the paper. “I do not believe you and I will see the nineteenth.”

©2012 A.K. Marshall