Whew! It’s another crazy round of writing frenzy as Day One of the annual thirty day circus begins. I stayed up late last night — partly watching “Ghost Hunters Live” on SciFi Channel and partly ‘plotting like mad’ in my mind. Once the official day began, pen met paper (in a virtual sense), and I was off to the races.
This year’s novel continues my political/supernatural genre with a look inside an amnesiac’s mind with Sleeper. You can find a short teaser below, and I’ll be posting the cover artwork as soon as I have it finished up. For those waiting for “Doctrines of Demons”, I’ve not forgotten! I’ve had to retool the plot a bit, but it should be ready for publication in late December.
Excerpt from my 2007 NaNoWriMo novel, Sleeper:
“Good morning, Miss Diamond,” a new face chirped as Regina emerged from the bathroom—her first solo venture. “I see you’re making progress. Excellent. I’m Dr. Meyers from the University of Missouri Medical Center. Is now a good time to have a chat?”
An odd sense of dread coursed along Regina’s spine, but she forced herself to appear calm, even nonchalant. Is this something I’m good at?, she wondered.
“Thank you for coming so soon, Dr. Meyers. I’m ready if you are.”
Meyers smiled; her mouth drawn wide, revealing smooth, capped teeth.
“Excellent. Let’s begin. I spent yesterday reading all the information we have about you. Tell me, is Regina your real name?”
Diamond blinked internally, but kept a placid face. “How should I know? I’ve heard nothing but that name since waking, but hearing it never rings a chord, if you get my meaning. Do you think I have amnesia?”
“Perhaps. I’ve seen cases like yours where the coma produced suppression of certain facts. You probably aren’t aware of this, but the St. Louis doctor—Dr. Weinstein—ran both a CT Scan and an MRI but found no organic damage. In truth, the cause of your coma has never been determined. It’s as if some external force kept you sleeping. Perhaps that same force suppresses your memories?”
Regina held her breath before answering. The tall man had come into the room—passing directly through the solid door. He stood now behind Dr. Meyers, stretched nearly to the ceiling—his silk top hat elegantly askew upon his shadowed brow.
Don’t look. This has to be a trick of some kind. Don’t look!
“A force, you say? That’s a very strange expression for a scientist, isn’t it? I wouldn’t say any force other than bad luck is keeping me from recalling everything. I do remember a great deal—insignificant things like chocolate ice cream and song lyrics. I know that I used to drive. When I close my eyes, I see ocean waves sometimes. I even have vague recollections of flying a plane. Each day brings fresh flashes of me.”
Meyers made a note with a Cross pen on unlined, white paper. “You’re angry. That’s good. What you’re experiencing is very much like mourning a death, Miss Diamond. Only in your case, the death is your own.”
The tall man ignored Meyers, passing right through her in a straight path toward the reinforced window behind Regina. He tipped his towering hat and offered a crooked smile and a curious wink. I’m glad someone is enjoying this, she thought gloomily. She kept her eyes on Meyer, whose lips continued to move, though Regina’s ears no longer focused on the sound. The man had begun to whisper.
“Listen to me,” he said, his long fingers perched like Death upon her left shoulder. “There is nothing for you outside—out there. Remain here, and you will live safely, happily, obliviously. Venture out, and I cannot protect you.”
Regina’s knees felt like water. Meyers stared now, her mouth still.
“Miss Diamond? Can you make that guarantee?”
Regina’s mind raced—what had the woman asked? What guarantee?
“I can only promise to do my best,” she bluffed.
Meyers took a long pause, and then added several lines to her extensive notes. “I think that’s fair. Very well. I will recommend your release into Officer Thompson’s care. You may live at—I believe it’s called Cherith’s Brook Inn—until you find permanent arrangements. Officer Thompson will visit regularly and make his reports to Dr. Pryce. Of course, before any of this can begin, you will have to pass one last physical examination. Although, it is a great help that an LPN will be available to you at this inn. I hope you know that our only concern is that you heal completely, Miss Diamond. How do you feel about these arrangements?”
“Stay here! Outside, you will surely die!”
“As comfortable as you’d expect. But I do like Trudy, so the possibility of spending more time in her company actually makes me quite glad. Since I’ve not met Officer Thompson, I can’t speak for his company.”
Meyers shut her note pad, zipping its contents into a black, ostrich leather case. “You may not remember meeting him, but you did. He and a female officer brought you here. I’m very pleased to offer you a new life, Miss Diamond. I’d like to meet with you again in two weeks. I’ll come to the inn. Here’s my card for now. My cell number is listed. Call anytime.”
The women shook hands; Regina kept her grip firm but unchallenging. This feels so familiar.
“You have lovely eyes,” Meyers said with an odd half smile. “I’ll see you in two weeks.”
The psychiatrist left, and Regina heard the familiar click as the door locked into place. Just behind and back at the window, the man looked over the aging grounds of the facility.
“You’ll be back,” he mused, returning his hat to his bobbing head. “But I can’t promise you’ll still be alive. My brothers—out there—are not so kind as I. It’s a pity. I’ve become rather fond of you.”
Diamond fought the urge to reply. Nor did she look toward the quiet security camera that scanned her room. They might be watching, she reminded herself. Just because I don’t see them, doesn’t mean they don’t see me.
The man laughed at her, tapping her shoulder in commiseration. “You have the drive and necessary cunning to have survived so far, Regina—not your real name, you know. However, why should I reveal what you, yourself, have chosen to forget? You might just be alive in two weeks. Or you might be standing next to me at this window—is that a fate you wish?
Regina turned to the window, pretending to enjoy the view. In another day, perhaps two, she’d be free of this place, and she’d begin anew. The first day of a new life.
“That’s what you said last time,” the shadow whispered into her ear; its fetid breath curled into her nostrils like raking claws of smoke.
He walked through her, the passage tearing into her internal organs like an invisible buzz saw.
Regina didn’t flinch. She didn’t even blink.
“Go to hell,” she told him in her mind.
The man tipped his hat once more and paused before passing through the locked door.
“Too late, Regina No Name. I’m already there….”