PicoWriMo is going well, and I'm sill on target to get my current short story written within the month. Excerpts on the community by day, and gathered here for reference:
"Michael!" Mr Patel was standing at the bottom of the stairs. "Post for you."
Stumbling blearily down the stairs, almost tripping on the worn patch of carpet three treads from the bottom, Michael retrieved the bundle of envelopes and junk mail brochures. Two bills, one reminder of a dental appointment, multiple fliers from venues he'd played in the past. Also, a plain, white envelope. It was the same size as those the fliers came in, but with no return address on the back. The postmark across the first class stamp was smudged and indistinct, but the letters spelling out Michael's name and address were sharp and precise, in a shade of crimson that made Times New Roman look more sinister than any of the spiky gothic fonts so loved by goth clubs.
After arranging the other envelopes into two piles: those needing dealt with, and those he could ignore, Michael picked up the bread knife and opened the mysterious white envelope.
Inside was not the expected folded sheet of paper, but a postcard. The photograph on the front showed a church, nestling in a small dip in a green field where sheep grazed peacefully. On the reverse, a caption gave the location as St Gilles' Church in Timberly-St-Gilles, Suffolk, while written across the whole of the white space was a simple message, written in large, looping, cursive letters:
Meet me here. Friday. Midnight.
Michael compared the reverse of the postcard with the front of the envelope. The colour of the ink used was identical, although the message was written and the address was printed. He looked at the photograph again. He didn't recognise the location, but East Anglia had a lot of rural churches, and almost as many tiny villages. The names seemed wrong, though. Shouldn't it be St Giles? The only historical Gilles he could think of had been far from a saint.
"I'm sorry, son." Rick, landlord of the Castle, picked up a glass from the dishwasher behind the bar and started to dry it. "Your music's not really what my customers are interested it."
"They liked Cynical Waste well enough, even when we were charging a fiver a head. I'm offering to play for free."
"But who remembers you? What were you? Half the rhythm section. Now if we were talking about your lead guitarist, or that pretty girl singer..."
"Just one slot, and then we'll talk again?"
"I'm fully booked until after the summer. Not many pubs offering live music these days, and not so many punters wanting it either. Some weeks I'm tempted to jack it in and buy myself a karaoke machine."
No work on the main story due to Lit Fest stuff, but I managed a 208 word story for a workshop on writing picture books.
To wit: Mrs Murgatroyd and the Missing Doll
He didn't actually need the torch, or the map. A full moon hung like a lantern in the sky, illuminating the church steeple that lay beyond the point where the path breached the brow of a small hill. Then again all the hills in East Anglia were small. This one was quite a moderate size by local standards.
By halfway across the field, the dew had worked its way through the canvas of his boots and was doing a good job of soaking into his socks. If it hadn't been for Mr Patel's van and its over-sensitive clutch, Michael would have worn his usual leather army boots, but he suspected even they would have been no match for the damp that seemed determined to attack him.
His arm ached from two days of lugging the bass, two days of unreceptive audiences, and a lifetime's worth of disappointments crammed into those two days.
Michael slipped the torch into the inside pocket of the jacket he had crammed on over his hoodie, and flexed his fingers, feeling the joints protest at being forced to work against the cold and damp of the night air. The torch was reassuringly weighty; he could always use it as a weapon alongside his knife, should a situation develop.
The first chime of midnight woke Michael from a doze. He spun around, but still it seemed he was alone in the graveyard.
The clock chimed again, and again. On the twelfth chime Michael heard a faint sound behind him. The crunch of thick-soled boots on gravel, followed by a soft cough.
Michael turned around.
"I want my friends."
"Are you certain about that? There'll be no changing your mind once we've struck a deal."
Michael hesitated briefly, but what was the point of fame without his friends? "That's what I want."
"Then we have a deal." The old man opened up the case, and Michael's world exploded.
And because I'm not completely evil, from a little further on:
Michael glanced down at his cards. He remembered his hand all right. Those were the cards he had been holding when they'd crashed before. Except they couldn't have crashed before. If they'd crashed, then why was everyone here now?
He turned towards the window, and rubbed a clear hole in the condensation. A motorway sign flashed by. They were fifty miles from Cambridge, heading North on the M11. Not far from where the crash had happened. Glancing down at his watch, a cheap digital he'd bought in the supermarket, Michael recognised the date. The day of the crash.
He laid his cards face down on the table, and pushed himself to his feet.
The Winnebago lurched. Michael kept his balance, but Patricia was thrown into Nigel's lap.
She looked up at him and giggled.
"Go 'way, Roger. 'S my day off." What was Roger doing in his flat anyway? Had Mr Patel let him in? Michael didn't remember telling anyone where his spare key was hidden.
Someone, Nigel possibly, muttered that there were going to be a lot of days off in Michael's future. What did he mean? Were they sacking Michael for crashing the truck, even though it had all been Roger's fault really?
"It's okay." Patricia was at his other side, lifting his hand from the covers, and stroking it gently. "There was an accident, but you were the only one that was badly hurt. You saved us all."