Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat

Since it's Halloween and since SHADOW POINT is a ghost story, it seems fitting that I post another short excerpt from the novel. (no trick, all treat here at Amy's Blog-o-rama!) Here's the setup: Protagonist Madison McPeake has just spent her first night on Shadow Point in her dead brother's isolated and less than luxurious beach cabin. She awakens before dawn to get ready for a day that will include (a) her first meeting with her 5 year old niece, Katie, (b) some pretty decent huevos rancheros, (c) Mysterious Happenings, and (d) her first encounter with the intriguing marine biologist in the cabin across the way. What a day! But, first: The Shower Scene...

I again woke with a horrible start, this time due to the lunatic clamor of the alarm clock in James's room. Loud enough to wake the--never mind, I thought, jamming back there to turn it off. It was still dark outside. Shutting my mind to everything but the need to get going and pick up Katie, I focused myself on my next goal: taking a shower in that bathroom.

It wasn't that bad, I told myself. Especially if I kept my eyes tightly shut. I got through teeth brushing and the other preparatory stuff, then reached in to turn on the hot water in the shower. With a couple of clanks and a groan, the plumbing reluctantly responded. I noted the daddy longlegs up in the corner had been joined by a friend overnight. Great. At least he had one.

I hadn't bothered to shut the door to the bathroom, since I was there by myself. Besides, with no fan, I wanted the door open so the mirror wouldn't steam up too much. I waited for a while for the water to get up past mildly lukewarm, but it never did and I finally decided I couldn't wait anymore. I had places to go and people to see, so I braved the temperate water.

At least the tub was clean. The shower curtain, however, once expanded, revealed a wealth of mildew in its folds. Lovely. Good thing my favorite color is green.

Its remaining once white opaqueness enveloped me in a dreary, dreamy, milky light inside the shower. The rest of the bathroom could be seen only in vague, shadowy outlines through the curtain. I washed my hair as quickly as possible, being careful to not make eye contact with the spiders lest they viciously leap upon me. I was still plenty jumpy from the night before and felt ultra vulnerable in the shower. The less-than-hot water was not conducive to relaxation either. I kept thinking maybe I heard something. But, no, of course I didn't.

Head under the tepid flow as I rinsed, I then thought I really heard something. A thud or a bang or...something. I jerked my head out of the stream, frantically wiping suds out of my eyes so I could open them. Blinking away, I strained tensely to hear, but there was nothing but the rush of the water and the gurgle of the drain. What could I have possibly heard with my ears full of water anyhow? You dumb butt, I chastised myself. I took a breath. And realized with an agonizing spurt of adrenaline that a tall dark shape was visible through the curtain that hadn't been there before.

The worst and longest thirty seconds of my life followed as I stood, immobile with fear, with the now cold water cascading down upon me. And the shape unmoving outside.

After thirty seconds of chicken, however, I suddenly couldn't take it anymore. With a shriek, I threw open the curtain and threw up my fists, ready to take on my attacker.

Who, I realized with a gasp, was James's navy blue bathrobe, hanging on a hook on the back of the bathroom door, which had slowly swung shut while I showered. So, I'm standing there with the shower shooting water out on the floor, buck naked, fists up, ready to take on a terry cloth bathrobe, and whup its ass! Ay yi yi. How humiliating.

After all that, I was so shook up I couldn't even do conditioner.

copyright Amy Briant 2010

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