Friday, June 08, 2007

Unnatural Laws

Study for a tapestry The Conversion of Saint Paul,
Raphael (1483-1520),
red chalk over stylus.

Nice to be reminded that even Old Masters made drafts and sketches.

A scene from a few pages further on in A Malignity:

I looked vacantly at the shambles around us.

"I need to sit down, if you don't mind. I don't feel well. I wasn't certain the shells would work. I've never had anything to do with zombies.

I dropped the shotgun against the arm of the sofa. My standing lamp canted across the cushions, its glass shade in shards. A breeze from the open door wafted another gout of corruption. A maggot wiggled out of Nathan's nose.

I retched and lost my dinner. Scratch the sofa as seating. I turned and wandered over to lean against the cool wood of the archway.

"The shells. What the devil was in them?" Johnnie shoved his cell phone back in an inside pocket and re-righted one of the wing chairs. I noted the other had a broken leg. Modern junk. The little side table seemed intact though. The malachite figurine of the Shadow Woman which had been on it wasn't.

"Halite, rock salt, for the most part. Some fine shot, copper filings, silver grit. Some ground herbs - just to cover all the bases."

"I had salt shells mixed in my regular load and they barely slowed him." His voice seemed to cut in and out.

"Table salt?"

I think he nodded. He looked fuzzy.

"Iodized. Might interfere with catalyst. Be slower. I donno. They don't need treatment for goiter."

My knees wobbled, so I latched on to the door casing. "I donno. I never have anything to do with zombies." Maybe I already said that. Dim and distant, a banshee wail spiraled the darkness.

The next thing I knew I was in a chair with a wine glass pressed to my lips. The wail of sirens cut abruptly. Red strobed through my front door.

"Steady," Johnnie said. "I'll take care of it."


Ric said...

well, I'm intrigued. Good stuff, Bernita.

What a great way to showcase your arcane and extensive knowledge.

And I thought the nudes were a precursor to ... ah, never mind.

Jon Mayhew said...

This is becoming a habit, I want to see what happens next!

Bernita said...

Arcane, Ric?
And here I thought I'd just managed a show/not tell...
I'm going to have to find that photo of me in a harem outfit I guess.

Bernita said...

Now, you make me feel guilty, Jon, 'cause I only posted these snippits because this week I've been seriously distracted.

Steve G said...

"Table salt?"
I think he nodded. He looked fuzzy.
"Iodized. Might interfere with catalyst. Be slower. I donno. They don't need treatment for goiter."

I like the humor.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Steve.
The word "goiter" has always struck me funny.

Jaye Wells said...

It's obvious you're enjoying this story. So am I.

writtenwyrdd said...

"Scratch the sofa as seating." Hah! What a brilliant way to portray something disgusting without saying it at ALL. Besides, love the humorous outlook of the pov character. She's so cool, even when she isn't. "they don't need treatment for goiter." Another hah! Great stuff.

writtenwyrdd said...

BTW you are very subtle in showing her reaction-- a disconnect between body and mind. Very well done, that dissassociative reaction. It felt very realistic. Johnny's a good friend, but he doesn't appear as competent as she does, which is intriguing.

Bernita said...

Glad, Jaye, 'cause I'm having fun( so far).

Wondered if that was a little over-the-top squicky, Written - but it IS the smell, more than anything, than makes you hurl.
Very happy that came across. Thank you.

raine said...

I am loving this, and yes, it's obvious you're having fun, lol.

Like the balance of the subtle humor and the occasional thrust of the knife..."a maggot wriggled out of Nathan's nose..." (shudder).

kmfrontain said...

Maggots...ew! The image was well done, Bernita.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Raine and Karen.
I'm really pushing the time line with that maggot.

Scott from Oregon said...

I'm not so sure I bought into the retching on the sofa. If this woman was even reasonably adept (which she seems to be) and a reasonable housekeeper, she would have turned to strive for a rubbish bin or some form of container. Vomit gives you a second to plan your expulsion.

"The malachite figurine of the Shadow Woman which had been on it wasn't."

I don't like that construction, at all.

And my last critical bit is the time jump to the glass of wine.

I love the sophistication of this woman. It makes it all the more humorous and enjoyable for me. Since it is in first person, consider that what she says needs to mirror in tone and intelligence what she relates in narration.

Lots and lots of great discriptors here. I so much prefer a canted lamp to one just simply leaning...

And cries that "spiral"...

Loved the maggot image!

OK. I'm done.

Bernita said...

Sorry you don't like her dialogue in this scene, Scott.
Considering the stress she's been under during the last 24 hours and the events just past, the state of the sofa is the least of her concerns. Under the circumstances, vomit just happens.
Yes, think the time jump is too abrupt.Thank you.

Kate Thornton said...

Once again, I knew it was a short piece when I started reading it, but I was still disappointed to discover there was no more to read.

Good stuff, Bernita, edge of my seat what-happens-next good. Please - just keep it coming!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Kate!
I hope I can.

Scott from Oregon said...

dwgrvOh no! I didn't mean I didn't like her dialogue. I just noticed the difference between her story telling and what she says in this scene.

I get so giddy when I notice something (me not much of an editor)I wanted to share.

You aren't gonna convince me of that instant vomit thing, though.

I stand firm on my knowledge of vomiting!

Bernita said...

Scott, you have to realize she is practically semi-conscious at this point and her language deteriorates.
You based the vomit business on a false reading of her character as a "housewife."
And she probably didn't like the sofa anyway.

cyn said...

i love supernatural lore!
what's next????? =D

LadyBronco said...

Bernita ~

Every time I read more, I want to, well, read MORE!

You have a wonderful voice, ma'am.

Prashanth said...

Ha! Iodine. Food for thought there, or would you say: buckshot for zombie thought?

You have a fascinating blog that shows off your knowledge and writing so well. And I love the art pics.

A pleasure every time I swing by.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Cyn.
What next? Well, the regular cops show up...

Lady B., thank you. I value that comment.

It's a pleasure to have you visit, Prashanth. Thank you.
I've never decided if the load is buckshot or bird shot.