Best and Worst of the First Week

8 Nov

So I decided on my National Novel Writing Month novel’s main characters and basic plot on October 31st:

It is a sci-fi Gothic horror/thriller/fiasco featuring mirror universe doppelgangers as well as bounty hunters, space cowboys, and politics.

Our narrator is Mabel, the finicky secretary to the mysterious Mrs. Beaumont, who is the CEO for Teleportation and Transportation Services, LLC (a high-falutin’ company with headquarters on the moon whose products include teleporters).  Some to-be-determined shady dealings and evil plots ensue.

With that introduction, I present to you the best and the worst of the first week of National Novel Writing Month 2013.

Worst:

The opening.

Mrs. Beaumont always insisted upon taking a morning constitutional while she read reports even though one might be tempted to think it would be difficult to walk comfortably and read comfortably simultaneously.  However, whatever one might be tempted to think would never presume to flummox or impede Mrs. Beaumont in any endeavor.  She had perfected her ways, and she was bound to them by duty, routine, and probably most particularly her own stubborn will.  She had not become the CEO of Teleportation and Transportation Services, LLC by shirking a well-established and efficient regimen, especially one she enjoyed thoroughly.  Even if she hadn’t enjoyed it, which I suspected she very much did, she most likely would have continued because it was what she had always done, and it afforded her not only physical exercise–which she prized–but also extra time later in the work day for other matters that necessitated being in her office, which she greatly prized.

Conjecture and supposition aside, she persisted no matter her state of health and especially no matter the state of weather.  On this particular morning, it was raining, but it was not a rain so much as a cloud of moisture that closed in on a person and breathed its wetness into shirt collars and whispered against cheeks and necks and twined itself into hairs lingeringly and longingly.

My function had been to hold the umbrella, but my function was worthless, as the rain clung to any surface and came from any direction and seeped into each and every crevice.  Mrs. Beaumont seemed to blame me for this but not too hostiley.  She simply said to me,

“Mabel.  Find some way to hold that umbrella so that I won’t muss my hair.”  She hadn’t even looked up from the morning’s engineering reports.  I wondered briefly why she would be more concerned with her chignon than she was with her skirt suit, which was a merry blue twill three-piece with a lavender satin blouse and shimmering pumps that, when looked at one way, were periwinkle and, when looked at another way, were mauve.  Of course, I thought a half a moment later, she kept at least one other suit at the office, if not several, so an issue of appropriate clothing would not ever affect her.  However, her hair never seemed to me to be out of place, even in extreme, humid conditions such as these.  In point of fact, I had always had a particular affinity for the way her hair seemed to gleam and grow in adverse circumstances.  She was, in my opinion, more attractive after a spell in the rain.  That was not to say she was not attractive on clear, sunny days; she was.  And it was not simply my simple girl’s eyes that beheld her as some glittering pinnacle of fashion and glamour.  No, she was consistently ranked at the top of many esteemed national and international lists, and rightly so.  She was as beautiful as she was effective in her official capacities.  I sometimes marveled at how she had chosen me to be her personal secretary, but then I counselled myself with the words my father had always uttered, “Remember, everyone’s special, but not everyone’s both special and lucky.”  And then, of course, my mother’s perennial rejoinder, “Ah, yes, darling, but the really special make their own luck.”

Nevertheless, when I had not found any way to do as requested–shield her tresses from the climatic vagaries–she frowned but said nothing else, simply walking on haughtily.

It’s so boring.  

Best:

Mrs. Beaumont has been gone for two days (before which she mysteriously gave Mabel a few instructions about what to do at the office).  She now reappears in her own office, and the whole scenario gives Mabel the willies.

I was just about to stand and use my emergency code to enter her office when another light began to flash on my console.  It was also Mrs. Beaumont’s fuschia, and it was indicating that she was buzzing me in to her office.  I sat rather stunned for a second before I picked up my pad and electro-pen and tried not to shake as I proceeded into the room.

Mrs. Beaumont was leaning against her desk in the same suit from two days ago.  It was disheveled, and so was she–with the hint of circles underneath her eyes and a hairstyle that looked as if it may have been partially slept in.  In fact, the whole of the ensemble looked partially slept in, and on her pumps I detected a hint of what might have been mud.

“Mabel.  Coffee…  Please.”  Her voice rasped, and her hands shook.  She hardly ever requested that I bring her coffee.  She had a pot in her office, and she almost always got it herself.  Nevertheless, I obeyed silently.  My stomach felt empty and full at the same time, and something felt as though it was creeping over my shoulder blades.  I tried to shake the feeling, but I couldn’t.  I soldiered on to the coffee pot anyway.

When I was closer to her, handing her the coffee cup, I caught just the tinge of a smell of smoke as well as her usual cinnamon.  Upon closer inspection, her suit appeared slightly dirty as well as rumpled, and her lips held onto the ghost of lipstick applied long ago.  Her hair, messy and–I could now tell–quite tangled in places, shone with a thin layer of grease.

Unease catapulted into my stomach and threatened to climb up from there.

Mrs. Beaumont did not go out in public like this.  I suspected she didn’t allow herself to look like this in private, either.  Wherever she had been for the last two days had inserted itself into her garments and hair and skin–even her voice–and from the evidence it had left, it did not seem an agreeable place.

She looked at me with hard eyes and smiled with her mouth.

“Get me my red satin shift and a comb,” she said, fully sitting on the edge of her desk now, with her head thrown back and to the left so that she could rub her shoulder more effectively.

I walked to her closet, and it felt as though I was actually in a cloud made up of heartbeats and shallow breaths and anxiety and the metallic and vaguely fizzy odor a recent teleportation left behind.  And everything in this cloud might or might not have actually been the cloud.  Needless to say, I felt surreally part of the cloud and separate from the cloud, and the cloud was consuming me, and I was having trouble breathing.  My feet took me unsteadily to the closet, and with trembling fingers I grasped the handle, and that, too, became part of the cloud.  It was all hazy, and then a piercing sound close to my left ear cut into the cloud so that a small stream of light and sound and smell that were not cloudy shone in:

“Nevermind.  I’ve decided on the lace.”

I stood completely still as I felt rather than saw an arm pass me, and it went straight through the fog and into the murky closet and came out again with a black appendage with a lace overlay.  The arm and the dress had somehow transcended the cloud, but I was still foggy, as was the closet.  I blinked once, twice, but nothing dispelled the irksome feeling I was experiencing that everything was blurred and melting into everything else.  I didn’t have the faintest idea why my brain was deciding at this moment to become engrossed in some idiotic illusion that was sapping me of good sense–and most importantly–my capacity for listening well.  Mrs. Beaumont detested having to repeat herself.

“Mabel,” I heard–several seconds late, I was sure.

“Yes, Mrs. Beaumont,” I said without turning.  I had a vague notion that perhaps if I concentrated on a specific garment in the closet I could will myself out of my stupor, so I focused on a black velvet blazer that had a tuxedo-esque cut.  It was not unlike having had a little too much to drink and then thinking that perhaps focusing on gripping a railing might help me not only keep my balance but also become more sober.  Nevertheless, I persisted because it was the best plan I had for the moment.  Even through all this contemplation, I was still foggy and tense.

“Have a seat. Please.”  Again, there was a delay, but I found my way to a chair in front of her desk.  She was sitting again on the edge of her desk, pulling bobby pins from her hair.  I sat, and the cloud dissipated under Mrs. Beaumont’s tired and strained gaze which also held a mixture of confusion and annoyance.  For my part, I was also confused and annoyed at my own behavior.  And my shoulders were still so tense as to pull my entire posture into something almost unrecognizably stiff and formal–or at least it felt that way even if it did not look it.

Several bobby pins clattered to her desk, and she looked at them and then looked at me.

“I need you to take a memo.”

She did not even begin to explain to me why she had been gone, where she had gone, why she had come back through her personal teleportation pad in her office rather than the one I knew she had in her home, why she was still wearing the same clothes I’d seen her in the last time we’d seen each other and she had disappeared rather mysteriously, or why she was now changing into a cocktail dress.

Kind of gives insight into how Mabel’s brain works.  Kinda suspenseful.  An ok early scene that sets up the forthcoming mystery, etc.

***

Current Wordcount:  6043 (yeah, I’m pretty behind)

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2 Responses to “Best and Worst of the First Week”

  1. silverscreenings 9 November 2013 at 3:33 PM #

    Ooh, I like a good mystery.

    While I was reading the opening passage, Greer Garson’s voice kept popping into my head. I think it was because some of the phrases seem much more formal than they are in the later passage.

    Looking forward to more!

    • TheBestofAlexandra 21 November 2013 at 12:51 PM #

      Oooooh! Greer Garson as narratrix would be perfect! Also, I haven’t really been working on this novel at all although I haven’t completely shelved it. I just was not very committed to nanowrimo this year. 😦

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