If you’ve had a look over at my author Site, you will have seen ‘Fragment Fridays.’ Each week I have been posting a section (fragment, if you like – clever, right?) of some of my previously published work but also of upcoming pieces, not yet published. If you want to catch up on what you’ve missed, have a look HERE. Being as we are in NaNoWriMo – 50k words in 31 days – I thought I would share some of what i’ve written so far. I’m writing a collection of short stories, rather than a novel, but i’m still aiming for that 50k mark.
Today, for your reading pleasure, I offer you part of ‘Reproductive Cycle,’ the first story that I have completed. It’s a first draft, so don’t be surprised if there are a few errors along the way. Let me know what you think, by leaving a comment. What would you like to see happen?
Immediately, with the wind and rain shut out, it became quieter. We both stamped our feet and rubbed our hands, trying to get heat back into our extremities. That was the point at which I realised how warm it was in the hallway. I let my hand drop to my side and placed it on the radiator, quickly drawing it back. “Radiator’s red hot.”
“What’s that smell?” Blowing my burnt hand, I breathed deeply, inhaling the stale air. It was a musty, old smell. I reached for the light switch and flicked it on. We were instantly bathed in the light’s glow, answering Reg’s question.”
“Mould,” I said, directing Reg’s attention to the walls, where grey-green fuzz spread from the floor, up the walls and along the length of the wall.
Reg turned his nose up as he saw the mould. “Why is it so hot?”
“I don’t know. Let’s go and ask.” I turned the handle of the door at the end of the corridor and pushed it open. The smell was immediate, causing me to cough and my eyes water. I heard Reg behind me coughing.
“What’s that God-awful smell?” Reg had both his hands over his mouth and nose.
It wasn’t just the mould that wafted to us from the room in front of us. There was something more. It smelled like decay. The smell you get when you leave fruit in the bowl for several days longer than it should be left. The kind of smell that makes you want to vomit. Well, I didn’t vomit, but I wretched until my stomach hurt. I needed to spit, like whatever it was that had entered my lungs needed to be expelled from my body. I didn’t want to spit on the floor, so I pulled out my handkerchief and spat in to that. Looking up, I saw Reg had moved into the room, hands still covering his mouth and nose. After a moment, I joined him. The carpet felt damp, spongy. My feet made sucking, squelching sounds as I moved into the room. Two paces into the room I stopped. I could see what Reg was looking at: in the far corner, I could see the dark outline of someone sitting in an armchair. If it was Jimmy, I couldn’t tell at that point.
“Jimmy? Is that you Jimmy?” Reg’s voice was gentle but firm. “Jimmy.” Louder this time. “Put the light on, Bern’.”
I didn’t want to take my eyes off the figure in the chair, still unmoving, so I reached a hand behind me, fumbling for a switch. When my fingers touched something wet and furry, I quickly withdrew them.
“Light, Bern’.” Reg asked again.
This time I turned around and looked at the wall. What little light spilled in from the hallway showed more mould, creeping up the wall, around the door frame and around the light switch. Wincing, I prodded a finger at the switch throwing light across the room. My breath caught in my throat, as the full extent of the damage was revealed. Green-grey mould and a dank, dripping moss-like substance spread from floor to ceiling, and spread around the room where the walls met the floor. In the corners of the room, the mould had merged with other putrid filth dripping down the walls creating a raised black mass that seemed to be moving. I had visited with Jimmy many times over the time I have spent here, but now the room was almost unrecognisable to me. What I had felt beneath my feet was revealed as a carpet of moss of some kind. Blue, perhaps grey, but I’m not sure that’s important. It covered almost all of Jimmy’s red carpet. Condensation dripped from the edges of the table. Worse, the mould appeared to be growing over Jimmy’s shoes.
Jimmy sat in his armchair, hands on the arms, head facing forward. This was the chair he sat in to watch TV, but today, there was no TV, and I wasn’t even sure if Jimmy was watching anything; his eyes faced straight ahead, unfocussed.
Reg moved first, stepping towards Jimmy. “Jimmy. Jimmy, can you hear me?” If Jimmy had heard, he gave no indication. He continued to stare straight ahead.
I looked back to the mould growing from the floor and over his shoes. It appeared to have spread further in the last few minutes. Now it reached his ankle, his white socks slowly being consumed. I looked up his legs and to his lap. Tiny tendrils of green snaked away from the mould, up his legs, reaching for his chest, where they spread out and ringed his arms. It look like these tendrils were holding his arms in place on the chair. Here they were thicker, perhaps the thickness of my index finger. They were moving; writhing twisting, tightening on his arms. His fingers were bright red as all his blood was squeezed into his hand.
Thats it! Thoughts, please.