Greetings. For my first proper post… here is the first draft of the opening to my work-in-progress novel, The Violet Dark. The Violet Dark is a ‘beautiful nightmare’, a hallucinogenic road thriller/horror. I hope you enjoy.
The violet dark
The horror’s heart
He found her crouched like a dog over the corpse of her father. He was cruising on violet and she appeared to him then an angel, hair so white it hurt his eyes and her own eyes bursting with life.
He knelt down beside her as she quivered. ‘What happened?’ he said, raising a hand to put on her shoulder and then thinking better of it, hovering it in the air.
She told him between coughs and cries that he had been murdered. He looked and saw the hole through the chest, the drying blood sticking to the tarmac.
‘Let’s get you off the road,’ he said, and she stiffened as his hand fell on her, but she allowed herself to be moved to the verge. She didn’t ask who he was.
He looked up and saw the moon blinking cold and yellow; greasy and indolent and huge. It seemed to dwarf the land, a zoomed in face with its pots and scars oiling the sway of the wind and leering down at him. An owl sat in a grand spike of a tree, eyes like headlights. He heard the hoot like a foghorn and the grass at his feet moved in moans and soft howls.
He closed his eyes and opened them again before the bursting brilliance began, before the violet could pull him deeper in. He found himself hugging the girl, rocking back and forth as far off he watched lights click on and off in the town, bathing the streets in their white-yellow pools. He could hear the clicks as well as if they were doors closing right by him, though the town was miles away.
‘What was he doing out here?’ he asked, and silently smelt her hair. It smelled of incense and earth.
‘We – we heard a noise. He went to go see. He didn’t come back -’ She started sobbing again.
‘Easy,’ he said. He glanced at the farmhouse, a mountain in the moonlight, a fortress of shadow that whispered in creaks. He shivered and once more he heard the foghorn of the owl. He was always on the watch for shadows. They could come from anywhere.
The girl suddenly affixed him with eyes of a blue so radiant that he could have plucked them out and called them jewels. He moved his gaze down, fascinated, to the ruby red of her lips that lit up the jostling shades of her face. He stroked her back and swore his fingers passed through wings.
He gestured to his chopper, to the beast waiting to growl. ‘I was riding fast,’ he said. ‘I heard your cry in the dark. It was lucky I didn’t hit you.’
‘I wish you had.’
He shook his head empathically, and the trees blurred left and right. ‘Don’t say that.’ He shook his head again, admiring how the land became a melting pot yet her figure stayed constant, as perfect and still as an oil painting.
‘He was such a good man,’ she said, tears leaving her face in pearls and icicles. ‘He didn’t deserve this.’
He breathed in deeply, sucked sickly clamour and spice. He took out his hipflask and offered it to her. ‘Here, drink this.’
She trembled in her grief. ‘What is it?’
‘It’s a dream for a better world.’
She took it and sniffed at it. He knew the smell, just like the colour. The smell of violets. She drank.
‘We need to get you a bike,’ he said.
‘Get me one,’ she said.
She lay on the road looking up at the night. The man had gone to get a bike. She didn’t care, for the world was changing.
Time was slowing. The patches of darkness around her grew like children. Solidifying and looming, growing tall, growing fat, growing protective and malicious. From either side of the road black trees reached out their arms to pull her in.
Bursts of dark colour around her eyes, dull flashes with every blink. The mind winds down, pads softly, carefully, a cat through the bracken. She closed her eyes and felt herself sway and spin at the top of a spiral staircase. A jumble sale of shapes and ideas thrown and bouncing around her. Melting fragments, elliptical omens and geometrics cavorting like gypsies at a funeral.
She opened her eyes before she fell through the road and down into the depths. The stars glimmered soft and warm, coins of burnt gold scattering the heavens. The treasures called to her with such siren intensity, her body floating so light in its struggle to be free of gravity that she had to turn her head away from the sky before it pulled her up like a UFO abduction and swallowed her whole.
The violet kept on.
She was in a deep hollow of white – decorated in snowflakes, each pattern as sharp as knives, as skittery as spiders.
Feel the frogspawn as it swims the long silent lake of the soul. Twitching paddles breaking the divine lines. Flick. Twitch. Alien species find new holes to enter.
We feel fate… our hearts beat softly, so deadly softly, like a quivering fly… tears slide down the thrumming wall of blood. Oh, oh we feel fate alright. Father. Mother’s egg. We feel fate.
The mush of the brain eaten by the higher forces… gobbled spoons… lipsmacking by those that dwell beyond fate: monsters, monsters out to get you, just nothing and nobody.
Crocodile werewolves and nothing and nobody.
The road helps those who help themselves –
‘Can you feel it?’
She opened her eyes into a shrouded world. He stood over her, his grin leaked out, pulling its milky whites past the edges of his teeth, becoming lunar and painterly and yet with only a pinprick of a snarl it was ghastly in its Cheshire madness.
‘I can feel the dying calls of the dead,’ she said. ‘I can feel the beasts feeding on their new kill.’
‘The dead have instruments,’ somebody said.
A slow pluck at the world’s strings. A black note. Somewhere in the darkness something hatches.
My father is – who was he – fifty-two years –
‘You’re lying on the road. That’s not good.’
‘Get whatever you need,’ he said. ‘I got you a bike. Get your things and ride with me back to where I left mine.’
She swayed through the cruel corners of the house. Moving as if in a dream. Once familiar shapes foreign and lurking, waiting for their chance. She tried to focus on the rest of her essentials. A toothbrush. Toothpaste. She grabbed them from the bathroom and tried not to look at the grotesque manikin that watched her from the mirror.
As she moved back through the ground floor she saw a figure standing quietly by the living room door. She shook her head and it sat down. Crossed its legs, saying I’ll be here if you need me. Not speaking, not even there, but time isn’t for the conscious, it isn’t for the rational. It isn’t for thinkers. It’s for the doers. It’s their king and it’s their world.
She left the front door wide to the night like an open mouth. She had her things and she had no idea how she had got them. Not like this. The house shuffled forward full of monsters and she ran to the bike and got on behind him and they drove off down the road, away from her life.