I don’t know what I should write and I have a deadline in two hours.
My head is not in a place right now where I can concentrate on story arcs and character dialogue. I sit down at my desk and pull up a blank document and all I see is white and gray. Business, as usual. Boxes and rectangles that help me do my job; to make it look appealing to my readers. Tools of manipulation to make them reach for their credit cards and buy my crap. It’s what it’s come down to and I’m too ashamed to move my fingers over the keyboard.
But I have to try. One glance to my right at the sleeping girl on the couch has me clicking away mechanically. I start with a dream I had the night before that seemed fairly interesting:
“She twisted the mewling kitten’s head around until she heard a squelching pop and then let the furry body drop down to the wet ground. She watched as it’s little paws twitched and waited until they stopped. Then she stood and watched for the others, white face as still as stone.”
Inside my conscious head though, there are swirls of color and glittery fireworks. Up there I’m wearing a yellow polka dot bikini, burying my toes in warm sand while long arms wrap around me lovingly. There, I’m getting my knees melted with a deep and passionate kiss against the wall of a dark alley and hot fingers are teasing the edge of my lace panties. I’m in a blanket fort with a tall, dark-haired man watching TV shows on his laptop and eating pizza, laughing as we paint each other with grease smears.
“They came, as she knew they would. The Mongrels of Hell. Growling, hissing, spitting; a dozen in all. Only six small ones. Damn. Her hands would be dripping red that night. She took one step forward, over the dead kitten’s body and stood in front of it, daring the rest to come for it. She flexed her fingers, feeling the joints crackle. Her palms grew warmer the longer she glared at the hairy demons. It was the only part of her that was ever warm.”
The text came in and I snatched up my phone, eager for anything to get me through the doldrums. Eager for the man behind the text.
-Come visit me, Elena. I’m home alone right now :* –
My heart gave a quick warm squeeze and I typed back swiftly, the colors and images in my head blurring together into one big happy mess.
-I’ll fire up the private jet. brt :* –
“Ellie, what time is it?”
I quickly powered off my phone and turned to cock an eyebrow at my rumpled blond husband who was shuffling into the living room to peer at my computer monitor.
“It’s 5, dear,” I said shortly.
“In the morning? What chu doing up so early?”
His hands dropped to my shoulders and gave me a brief massage. I smiled tightly at the bright screen and tried not to let my irritation leak out too obviously.
“Trying to make some money. The usual.”
Just not for you, I added silently.
“Good luck then. Make us rich.”
He kissed the top of my head and patted my shoulders. I subtly ran a hand through my hair to dislodged the feeling of his lips in it. Then he noticed Anya on the couch and looked down at me questioningly.
“She was complaining of a stomach ache so I told her to come lay on the couch.”
“You were up with her all night?”
Another kiss, this time on my cheek. My nostrils flared at his death breath. His beer breath.
“Thanks. Good job. Had a late night.”
As fucking usual. Video games and beer. He had probably just gone to bed when Anya woke me up complaining. She always came to me. Even at 5 years old, she knew who the real parent was.
The fat lush shuffled back into the room, flopped back in bed and was snoring within a matter of minutes. I sighed deeply.
“Mongrels weren’t terribly smart, being a lesser species of demon so they tried to challenge her one at a time. One of the big ones went first, a streak of gray and white. The kittens hissed and egged him on, pacing behind the adults, impatient for some revenge for their sister. The girl raised her hands, a pair of crackling yellow beacons now, and slapped it out of the air. It screamed and stumbled as it hit the ground. There was a sharp acrid smell of burning hair from the seared hand print on its side. She watched as the burn inched over the fur, the cat demon rolling and writhing in pain. Soon, it would be completely cremated and sent back to Hell. She gave it a cruel smile and raised her eyes to the others.”
I was being showered with rose petals. All different colors, sprinkling down on me from a balcony up above. When I looked up, there he was, grinning. He tossed a velvet box down to me and I opened it with trembling fingers. I was sitting on the edge of a rumpled bed, the blush of love making still making me glow. He was brushing a hand down my back and over my hip, running his lips and tongue over my neck and nipping playfully.
-Hurry up! It’s cold! I need my snuggle buddy 😀 –
-Keep the bed warm darling!-
Gold shimmer wafted over my mind and settled low in my stomach, tickling me with awareness. I poised my fingers over the keyboard and typed out words I felt nothing about. It was a throw away story and I knew it. Business was business. Anya stirred in her sleep and I eyed her warily. She’d been asleep for a long time. I didn’t have much time left to finish before she woke and I had to ply her with breakfast.
-Almost done with the book you sent <3-
-I’m glad you enjoyed it my love-
-Gonna be bored after it’s done though-
I grinned evilly and took a selfie of me in my low cut pajama top. I sent it and tried to rapidly come up with an ending for this stupid story. I wanted more shimmer and sparkle and heat. I wanted to get lost in my fairy tale brain.
-Can’t concentrate on finishing now! D: –
-Good. I like it when I’m on your mind –
-Like you’re ever NOT?-
Swirls of black on white. Sharing coffee in the morning with bed head, the newspaper rustling. Walking hand in hand down the grocery store aisles. Bubbles in the bathtub with candles and his hands massage my neck while he whispers in my ear sweet wonderful things that lift my heart out of chest. Shimmery peach. Bright fuchsia. The bright green of a flower stem as he slides it behind my ear and bends to kiss my forehead.
“Another one tried and she swatted it the same way. It’s screams made the others back away uncertainly and the kittens quieted a little. Dumb demon spawn they may be but they were smart enough not to repeat the crispy demon cat’s mistake. The next one tried to distract her by moving in a circle around to her back, leaving her open to attack from the others. She let out a soft snort through her nose and squatted down. She didn’t have time for this. Summoning up the power of the sun through her palms she slammed them into the ground and a wave of yellow rippled swiftly out, chasing the Mongrels that tried to scurry away in panic. No, this wasn’t any normal girl twisting kitten necks. She was a Shucker, someone who caught and banished demon souls back to hell. A tiny Constantine with the power of the sun in her white hands.
The demon spawn was caught in her bubble like a bug in amber. They made keening, agitated noises but she didn’t relent. Slowly, finger by finger, she closed her hand into a fist. The closer her fingers came together, the harder it was for the demon spawn to breathe. They frantically twisted this way and that, trying to break her hold on them. The girl stood unflinching as their death cries echoed through the street nor did she blink when their heads exploded, spraying her and all surrounding asphalt with blood and brains. She licked her rose bud lips, feeling the acid burn of their blood her tongue.”
“Mommy? I think I’m going to puke.”
I turned, alarmed, as Anya proceeded to do just that over the side of the couch. Luckily I had foreseen this as a possibility and laid towels down on the floor in case she couldn’t make it to the bathroom. I edged around the mess and held her hair back as she gasped for air, vomit clogging her throat.
“Breathe deep through your nose Annie. Don’t panic,” I said, soothing her.
I held my breath as she heaved once more. I gagged and led her to the bathroom where we stripped her down and gave her a warm shower to calm the shivers. I glared at the bedroom where my ball and chain slept, oblivious.
Your ass is GONE as soon as this book is finished, I promised darkly into the black abyss.
I scurried over and typed out a quick text before frantically trying to finish before sun up.
-Daughter puked. Be busy for awhile-
– I’m sorry D: Give her some crackers and water and a hug from me-
-I love you so much! Thank you ><-
Anya was left to play under the warm stream of water while I scraped puke into the trash can and threw the towels into the washer with a scoop of bleach.
PLEASE, I begged the universe, my brain spiraling into black spikes of panic. Just let me make the deadline!
“With the adults gone, she turned to the kittens, who had been held immobile but unharmed by her amber bubble. They fluffed out and tried to back away.
“Stop it. Struggling won’t do any good. Your fuzzy asses are toast.”
She grabbed the nearest one and in quick succession twisted their necks and dropped them to the blood splattered ground next to the other one. Then she took a small book out of her jacket pocket and flicked through the pages, her dead eyes skimming the contents. She paused and uttered 13 words in a voice much more clear and pure than her body could manage on its own. The furry kitten bodies twitched into animation, rising from the ground and slowly righting themselves. Their bodies inflated with life, their neck bones re-aligned–“
“Mommy the water is turning cold!”
“Don’t play with the faucet Anya!” I scolded.
I rushed over to the steamy bathroom and turned the dial to a warmer setting again. She gave me a guilty look and I handed her a couple toys to occupy her then wiped my hands off on a towel and typed some more. Fifteen minutes!
“-and their dead eyes opened. Color returned to them and their pupils grew as life and light flooded them. She released the amber bubble and the kittens floated down to the ground. They looked at her now with the innocent and wary eyes of regular animals. They turned tail and ran from her as fast as their stubby legs could carry them. She was covered in blood and had the stench of death surrounding her. What innocent things would stick around? The girl put the book back into her pocket and turned her back on the spiky haired babies. This was the thanks she got for saving their sorry pathetic asses. She was used to it.
People loved small fuzzy things. Some soft-hearted kid could take them home now and not get their soul corrupted by evil devil spawn with whiskers. The police would explain the blood away. Animal mauling. Ritualistic Satan cult worshiping. Psychopath. It wasn’t her concern. She should probably change though. Humans get too queasy around blood. The girl snapped her fingers and a new black dress and coat covered her. She walked down the street, hands in her pockets, humming tunelessly. All in a day’s work.”
I didn’t bother to edited it or check for grammar errors. I copied and pasted the text into an e-mail and sent it to my editor. 7 minutes to spare. Jesus Christ.
I laid down on the still-warm couch and allowed myself two minutes to appreciate the gauntlet I just ran. Sick kid, deadlines, drunk husband, lovely distractions from the phone and absolutely no sleep in the last 24 hours. Today is a good day. I think. I raised the phone to my face and typed.
-Killing kittens is kind of cathartic
-……….I appreciate your alliterate articulation but WHAT?? O__O?-
I smothered my giggles with my hand. I felt black glitter sprinkle softly in my head, coming down like ash, or dirty snow. It coated everything for a moment and I drank in the somber mood.
-Never mind. I’ll be okay-
-I love you o.o –
A blue wind swept all the black away in a tornado. For today, I would be okay.