Our Day Is Done (my novel’s first chapter)

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To hasten my progress towards actually publishing my novel on Amazon.kindle. I have decided to post the first chapter here, because if it’s here, absolutely nobody will ever see it!! So I need not be afraid of the cruel gaze of a jaded public. But if by some miracle you read this, let me know what you think (you know, what you really think which is the same as what I’d like to hear. You get that, don’t you?)

OUR DAY IS DONE   CHAPTER ONE

Everything was just off, not quite right, and pretty damn annoying. That’s how the day had been, for Kenneth Collins. It was Saturday, his day for doing his weekly chores of going to the laundromat, and cleaning his room. He lived at the Empire, a residential hotel in San Francisco, in a small room he shared with his Manx cat. He’d be 53 years old in six days, and he felt every minute of it. He had hurt his back, in his job in the receiving dept. of Lucky 13, a downtown bookstore. Soon after that, he got smacked in the face by the lid of a dumpster, while at work, leaving a nasty scar, near his already blind left eye. Luckily he had missed his good eye. He told himself that the scar, and the black leather jacket he habitually wore, might at least keep the homeless from bothering him, as he walked home from work. Finally, he had sharp pains in his kidney, probably due to a heavy dose of salt. Too much tuna and crackers, which he had been eating to save money, and because Bugbutt, his cat, liked tuna. So, he gave up salt. Of course, he still had all of the usual digestive problems that come with age, plus all of the unspeakable horrors that can be picked up from the toilet seat of a seedy hotel.
But that wasn’t why things were off. The day didn’t feel right for reasons Kenneth found hard to explain. Early on, after he’d finished his chores, he walked over to the convenience store he’d frequented for almost a decade, to get his usual lottery tickets, and a Klondike ice cream bar, as was his habit. Only this time, someone yelled out, “Kenny! I think that’s Kenny. Hey, Kenny!” Kenneth turned and saw a man with a gray mustache and beard, rather stocky, yelling “Kenny! How ya’ doin’ man!”. Kenneth had no idea who this man was. He searched his memory in vain, unable to make a match with any face he’d known. But the man appeared to know Kenneth, or Kenny, quite well. That’s the other thing. Who would call him Kenny? Everyone he knew called him Ken, or Kenneth. But he figured it was someone he used to work with, or someone who used to live at the Empire Hotel. someone he’d forgotten.
As Kenneth walked on, from the convenience store to the local Safeway, to take money from the ATM, and get food (not tuna and crackers, that’s for sure!) everything seemed to take too long. The San Francisco wind, which over the course of a decade, he ought to have gotten used to, really annoyed him. He wondered how much longer he could endure such a dull routine, the sameness. Earlier that day, at work, the UPS delivery driver had made a comment that struck home with Kenneth. The driver had been given a wooden toy figure of a delivery driver, with it’s own tiny hand cart.  The figure was crude, just a slender block of wood, the corners still intact, and simply painted. ‘Pretty much faceless, just like I feel.” the driver joked, if it was a joke. It gave Kenneth the creeps. For some reason, the idea of being reduced to a crudely created block of wood seemed to hold some kind of meaning for Kenneth. But it was a meaning that wasn’t entirely clear, and Kenneth didn’t think about it much, until now.  Now everything seemed crudely done, unfinished, like that toy. Except of course, it wasn’t really the same.  Different people walked the streets today, than were there yesterday. All kinds of events were occuring all around Kenneth, each totally new, and unique. But Kenneth didn’t care.  He yearned for something fantastic to happen. It felt like it had been a lifetime since he’d been in awe of his life. These things were going on beneath the surface of his consciousness.  On the surface, he thought about the various aches and pains that invaded his body as he walked.
Inside Safeway. something odd happened.  The check-out clerk said something, after ringing up Kenneth’s groceries, and Kenneth didn’t hear it, or, at least, that’s the way Kenneth preferred to recall the event. Suddenly, Kenneth felt a rush of anger, and the check-out clerk seemed angry too.  The clerk bagging the groceries seemed thrown off balance, not knowing how to react. The strange thing is, Kenneth had no idea why he was angry, and was not at all clear about what had just happened. It was as if he’d gone to sleep for a moment, and something happened that made him angry, or the clerk angry, or both of them angry. What was said? Was anything said? Maybe it was just a misunderstanding. The fact that Kenneth didn’t know bothered him. He walked home, trying to sort out his memories of what had just happened.  As he was walking, the woman who passed beside him, said “Did you see that?”
Huh? What?
It broke Kenneth out of his reverie. “The rat. A rat just ran by. It was huge! It ran under that car!” Kenneth didn’t look. He quickened his pace. He imagined a rat as big as a large dog, peeking out from beneath the car. Kenneth thought about all the unfortunate events he’d been through recently, and almost thought it was funny. Except it is never funny when it’s happening to you. Just one of those days. Everything will be back to normal tomorrow.
Kenneth probably should have chosen a more mundane book to read before going to bed, except Kenneth really didn’t have any mundane books. He had been toying with writing a book on the occult. It bothered him that there didn’t seem to be a decent book on the subject. I guess I’ll have to write it myself.  He hadn’t gotten around to doing that, though.  It was a rather daunting task.  It would lurk, like some deep-sea monster, in the back of his mind.  Maybe someday he’d tackle it.  Kenneth usually read for a bit in some strange book, before going to sleep, and Saturday night he chose a book about various societies. that were working behind the scenes, to bring about a unified world, based on synarchy (the opposite of anarchy).  It was dull, not because the subject of secret societies was dull, that had always excited him, but because it was filled with an endless array of tedious facts, which failed to add up to anything remotely important.  He felt himself beginning to doze off, the pungent smell of marijuana flowing under his door, from an adjacent room.  He was about to put out the light, and put the book away, when something very unusual happened.
Suddenly, he was standing in front of some kind of instrument panel, lights flashing, and some kind of alarm sounding.  He was shouting into a phone, but couldn’t understand a word of what he was saying.  He could see his hands.  They were dark.  His voice sounded very different, deeper, full of exasperation, almost panic.  He could smell something burning.  He began shouting “Archons! Archons!”.  It seemed to Kenneth that these Archons, whatever that were, were the solution, or, perhaps, the problem.  He wasn’t sure.  It sounded like something from a Greek myth, a high-tech Greek myth, that is.  As he glanced to his right, he saw a row of monitors lining the wall of an enormous cavern.  Misshapen dwarf-like beings were scurrying from one monitor to another, making adjustments, and shouting orders.  They would only stop long enough to glance at Kenneth with expressions filled with terror.  He definitely had the impression he was in charge of this underground facility.  They were under attack.  This was clear from what he could see on the monitors. He could see spacecraft attacking one another.  He felt a shock race down his spine, as he noticed an emblem on one of the ships.  It was a swastika inside a circle.  He wasn’t sure which side he was on, hopefully not the Nazi side.  One thought kept returning.  “I must reach the Nine. The Nine must know.”  It had no real significance for him at the time.  On another monitor, he could see two statues of women, completely naked, and glowing brightly.  One of them begins to speak, and the sound is unbearable.  It hurt his head, and more like a shockwave than a sound.  Once again, he couldn’t understand the words.  He felt nauseous from the vibration of her voice.  Can I throw up, while in a dream?  Her face was both beautiful, and terrible.  It was hard to focus on it.  It’s glow was too bright.  Then suddenly, Kenneth’s body convulsed. He was jerking back and forth violently, taking huge gasps of breath. He could tell he was lying on his little cot, in his little room, bathed in sweat.  Bugbutt, his cat, was beside him, gazing wide-eyed, as if to say ‘are you all right’? Kenneth’s heart was pounding. He kept telling himself to calm down and focus on his breath. In his mind, he kept repeating ‘can’t hold it! can’t keep it together!’ and as he recalled the glowing statue, it seemed it had said ‘our day is done.’

2 responses »

  1. Hi! I just wanted to say that I enjoyed this selection. I liked the character that you have created which allows you to relate to him quite easily. I am curious as to where you end up going next. I would suggest though if you intend people to read this here on your blog that perhaps you look into making sure it reads in the format of a book. I kept trying to figure out where one paragraph started/ended. I am sure it’s just a blogging issue. I have just finished my first book and have started going back to edit. I am doing a blog about what I do and where I go in life to get it published. One of the very first things I noticed about my story was that there were a lot of commas and I suddenly wondered if I was using them correctly or just because that is how I wanted a reader to pause every time my mind did. I did a reference blog for this under iwroteabooknowwhat.wordpress.com. I did think that sometimes you could use less commas and it would still make sense to your reader, but really only you can decide if you need to make those changes. Those two things are the only feedback/criticism I have for you. You have some awesome ideas here. Best of luck to you!

    • Thanks for your helpful comments. Actually, I had been messing around with this stupid novel for ages, and I have signed up with Amazon.kindle which allows you to publish your work online in kindle form. But, of course, I still don’t think it is ready. So I just posted the first chapter to see if people liked it, which would encourage (or discourage depending on the feedback), me to carry on and get this damn thing done. I’m happy that you like the character, I think he has a little bit of a Philip K. Dick quality to him. In fact, the style of the whole novel is inspired by Phil Dick. So I will soldier on and complete the novel, and get it online. Thanks!! for confirming that there is in fact someone out there. As far as the format problems, that comes from doing a copy and paste. I find that often things jump around after you paste, and I could have corrected that. How unprofessional of me! But, since I never got any comments on anything I blogged, I just figured nobody would see it anyhow. So, hey, come join my pity party. It’s Free!! And good luck on your writing as well, at least you aren’t falling into the endless editing trap.

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