Every writer has a file full of these somewhere. Stories they started and never finished, or started and finished only to realize at the end that the idea was so half-cooked, so lame, that it wouldn't be a good representation of their talent or creativity. I was reorganizing my computer documents the other day and I happened across the sub-folder that contained the old ".txt" files of some of my earliest writing, all the way back to the very early 90's. Talk about a walk down memory lane. It was like finding a box full of old toys or photographs, but instead it was old ideas. None of them anything I'd plan to pin a career on, or even probably develop futher, ever, but mine just the same. I found when I dragged these out that each othem carried some temporal significance to me and like photographs they help me remember how I was thinking and where I was in life when I wrote them. So, for this week's entry, I want to share them with you. Most of them are too embarrassing even to this day to post online, but I'll give you the general gist. If you're a writer, especially an aspiring one, I hope you can see a little of yourself here too in these lost, unfinished, and ultimately abandoned stories.
The Story: A three-page scene from what I envisioned as a longer story involving a private detective, a shady, rich, eccentric gangster, and the girl caught between them. This consisted of pretty much just a single scene of prose where the detective is visiting the mansion of the rich gangster (not sure if he even had a name, since I’ve long ago lost the actual pages of text and I’m just recalling this from memory), and meets the girl, who is practicing competitive diving from a private high-dive-style diving board. She is nervous about talking to him and indicates that the gangster is keeping her there against her will.
Age: I guess about eleven, though I turned twelve later that year. Hard to remember exactly how old I was.
Inspiration: Films like Dick Tracy and adolescent hormones, no doubt, in addition to books like Harold Robbins’ Descent from Xanadu, that I used to sneak peeks at from my parents’ collection when I was starting to get bored of what then passed for young adult books.
Significance: The first piece of prose more than a page long that I have any memory of writing.
Chances of it ever being dragged out and finished: None, since I don’t even have the original paper I wrote it on.
Title: The Doomboys
The story: Two chapters of a story about armored, robotically-enhanced super-soldiers. Hypothesized Saddam Hussain’s return to power and eventual assassination by US forces. Written on an old, obsolete (even at the time) 386 Windows 3.1 IBM computer. Hilarious premise, worse dialogue.
Inspiration: The first Gulf War, Iron Man comics, every bad early 90’s action film ever made.
Significance: This was the first story I attempted where I was trying to predict what the future would be like. It contained things like whip-like non-lethal riot weapons and extensive computerized telecommunications between soldiers. I remembered everyone that I told about it laughing that Saddam Hussein would ever regain power in the Middle East, so it may also have been the first time I realized I could predict things in fiction that might eventually come true after a fashion.
Chance of it ever being dragged out and finished: Nonexistent.
I wrote several short stories during the 1993-94 school year during which I was a freshman in high school, again still on that old IBM 386.
Title: The Lincoln County Incident
The story: A completed short story about a high school student whose girlfriend is raped and beaten and later dies from her injuries. The student then plots an elaborate revenge that includes he and three of his friends taking the teacher responsible for the attack hostage in their school and broadcasting his execution by electrocution over the high school television public access station. This was, of course, pre-Columbine, so it didn’t get the same scrutiny it would today. Of course, probably only three or four people ever read it.
Inspiration: High school drama and revenge-fantasy films like School Ties and The Crow from the early 90’s.
Significance: The first story I remember writing that wasn’t dreadfully, embarrassingly derivative of something I’d seen on TV, or having taken scenes directly from other books or movies.
Chances of it ever being published: Zero. It’s a groaner to read, though not horrible for a very young teenager.
The story: A short two-person, one act play, during which two high school age students have lengthy separate internal monologues about their attraction for each other, eventually culminating in only one moment of actual dialogue where they meet and sparks fly.
Inspiration: Reading Romeo and Juliet for the first time, meeting my first high-school girlfriend.
Significance: None, really, aside from being my first experiment in narrative dialogue.
Chances of it ever being published: Never. I’m blushing just thinking about it.
The Story: A first-person narrative of a man who has gone on a desperate gambling-debt-fueled robbing and killing spree being slowly closed in on by the law. This was only 1200 words long and focused largely on the man’s growing paranoia.
Inspiration: At this point I had started to read Stephen King extensively and I loved how his characters slowly went insane. This was my first shot at writing a character like that.
Chances of it ever being published: None.
The Story: A spaceship carrying a rescue team to a distant colony arrives and finds that the computer controlling the automated mechanisms of the outpost seems to have become possessed by Satan and murdered the colony’s inhabitants in colorful ways.
Inspiration: Bad sci-fi films, and some good sci-fi films. Can’t remember how Satan came into it.
Significance: Second completed short story that had a beginning, middle, and end that followed a discernable narrative format. It was awful, but I remember finishing this story gave me some confidence.
Chances of it ever being published: None.
Title: The Line
The Story: Can’t even properly be called a story; more like a scene in a story that was never written. The designated hitman of a high-school gang sneaks up behind a football player during a game and, at the moment the crowd is distracted by a touchdown, shoots him with a pistol silenced by a bottle of Mountain Dew.
Inspiration: Football star envy, maybe? No idea.
Chances of it ever being finished: None.
Title: The Slammer
The Story: In the future (2003 Hah!), a hacker falls victim to a sting operation bent on enforcing new, draconian anti-computer-crime laws. He is sent to a special prison where inmates are summarily killed for small transgressions and coerced in certain circumstances to fight each other to the death. Our protagonist, who has a cipher instead of a name, makes a daring getaway with implausible martial arts and balletic gunplay.
Inspiration: Not sure. There was a stretch where I read a couple of prison-riot drama novels so maybe that.
Significance: One of the first of a handful of original stories that wasn’t totally derivative, and long-ish as well at 3,600 words.
Chances of it ever being published: None.
Early High School 1994-1995
During this time I became friends with a young man named Paul Hughes, whom I had known several years before but lost touch with. Read his hand-written first draft of Enemy in spiral notebooks and he read some of my stories in a stapled booklet I made. He encouraged me to continue writing and I told him Enemy was one of the best things I’d ever read. Enemy would go on to be published in 2000 and win the Editor’s Choice award at GreatUnpublished.com. It’s sequels, An End and Broken would win and be nominated for Independent publishing awards, respectively.
Title: “Moon 247”
The Story: A space-faring sci-fi action-er that used a back-and-forth Tom Clancy-style perspective shift to tell the story of an extended space battle between starships (The Republic Starship Wyvern and “Blackjack Gunship #77”, giggle) from several different points of view. Sort of like a submarine naval thriller in space. The story culminates with one mildly creative scene where both spaceships crash spectacularly and the crews bail out in time to parachute to the ground, where the battle resumes on foot. Dialogue is nearly all of the militaristic question-and-answer type. At 6,100 words, though, there was at least some story there.
Inspiration: The Hunt for Red October, and early 90’s military techno-thrillers like Larry Bond’s Red Phoenix and Vortex.
Significance: The longest thing I’d written at that point. Hilariously, 6100 words is about 22 pages in Courier New font.
Chances of it ever being published: None.
Title: One Slight Error.
Story: This was the first time I attempted a true novel-length work. The plot was that the first manned Mars lander returned to Earth carrying a number of soil and rock samples, among which were curious microscopic photosynthetic lichen that could exist in the Martian atmosphere. Due to the radically different climate, the lichen’s metabolism was sped up considerably in Earth’s atmosphere and a tiny sample was lost in a plane crash in the ocean and began to grow exponentially until it formed a gigantic semi-sentient plant creature. At the end of what’s written, the plant started to emerge and creep up onto land and destroy everything in its path. All of this, for some reason, takes place hilariously among the backdrop of a second major Cuban political revolution. The original draft stands at about 10,000 words, and is just side-splitting bad.
Inspiration: The Blob and other “unstoppable alien invasion” type sci-fi stories and movies.
Significance: The first time I was able to write anything of significant length, even though it remains unfinished and the plot had spiraled off into nonsense by about the middle of what I wrote. Also included the same multiple-narrative POV style as the techno-thrillers I was devouring at this time.
Chances of it ever being finished: Slim. It’s not a terrible idea, but it would need to be completely re-written from the very beginning just using the original idea and all-new context. Probably will never happen. I’ve got too many other good ideas on deck that need some eventual attention.
Late High School 1996-1997
For a time, I became somewhat disillusioned with my writing ability. I hadn’t managed to make much of One Slight Error, and I was starting to read beyond simple paperbacks now and get into real literature. I was finding myself woefully intimidated both by my lack of skill and my lack of what I felt were legitimate and original ideas. I only wrote one story this year that I still have, and it was in play format. It would become possibly the point where I decided I was going to keep trying anyway, and fight for as much originality and legitimacy as possible with my writing. The dialogue is awful and hilarious of course, but this is the first point I wrote something that didn’t just feel like a poor second-rate derivative of another, better work.
Title: The Soldier
The Story: A three-act play centering on a young woman who is heavily addicted to heroin and becomes part of the entourage of a dangerous drug gang in order to support her habit, as well as prostituting herself. During a police raid on the residence that the gang members use for their hideout, Rosa (the woman) escapes with the help of a mysterious man. She wakes from the pain of withdrawal several days later in the apartment of a friend wearing a necklace with a small silver toy soldier on it. She returns to the gang via another member named Vega, who is more vicious and brutal even than her former boyfriend, and immediately returns to shooting heroin. When Vega and his friends attempt to gang-rape an incapacitated Rosa, the man from the first scene returns and fights them off, this time taking her with him.
Rosa awakens again in an unfamiliar place, this time in the apartment of the man, who calls himself Hazard. Hazard tells her that he has been silently watching and protecting her for some time, and after the initial uncertainty and awkwardness the two of them fall in love. Hazard is a huge and physically imposing man who is also somewhat disfigured due to childhood abuse at the hands of a religious fundamentalist father. He explains that in a rage he murdered and crucified his own father on the cross that dominated their living room wall, and as a symbolic penance has chosen to atone for this by helping Rosa get off of drugs and reclaim her life.
Some time later, after Rosa has completely kicked her addiction and several scenes of she and Hazard trying to live a normal life, members of the former gang happen to run into her on the street and start to harass her. Hazard steps in to stop them but this time the gang is ready for him. They drag Rosa into an alley and make her watch while they shoot Hazard. They stuff her into a car and drive away.
The final scene begins with Vega, Gino, and the others opening up the trunk to once more rape and possibly kill Rosa, but this time she pushes open the trunk lid and stuns one of the gang members long enough to get his gun away from him. There is a shoot-out and Rosa manages to kill the others, including standing over Vega much the way he did to Hazard and delivering a fatal shot.
In an epilogue to the play, a young boy with the same colored eyes as Hazard is seen walking down the halls of an elementary school and looking at a necklace with a silver soldier on it. Behind him, the blackened shadows of Hazard and Rosa look on as a narrator reads the description that Rosa died some time later of complications from HIV.
Inspiration: This was about the time when I started to get away from pop-fiction and discovered magical realism literature. This sort of story was legion in early graphic novels, and though I don’t write anything like this these days it was enormously appealing to me as a teenager.
Significance: Though I am still somewhat embarrassed by the quality of it, this did appear for a time on my webpage in college for people to read, and it was the first thing I ever felt comfortable sharing with a larger audience than just myself or my close friends.
Chances of it ever being published: None, but interesting as a turning point in my early writing career.
Early College 1997-1998
My first year in college I wrote very little up until nearly the end of the school year. Shortly before finals week began, I wrote the first three chapters of a novel titled The Blue East that would remain unfinished but is (at over 70,000 words), to date, still the longest thing I’ve ever written. It was perhaps half finished when I abandoned it, and I did so not because I disliked the story or my writing, but because the plot had become so convoluted and ponderous that going further would have necessitated re-writing huge swathes of the beginning to conform to where I eventually steered the plot. Today the prospect of rewriting a novel isn't as daunting but in the end, I ran out of ideas and lost a clear direction for where I wanted the story to go. So still it sits. This was a project that I worked on for a number of years, and the most recent updating done to it occurred in January 2001 where chapters of it became part of the original stories published on the fledgling Silverthought.com. At the time, The Blue East, Paul Hughes’ An End (IPPY Award Winner) and Carl Rafala’s Red Dust and Dreams presented serially as they were written, were the site’s only content.
Title: The Blue East
The Story: In a distant future, a near-miss by a comet called Dante glancing off of Earth’s atmosphere ravages the planet’s geology, dragging away a significant portion of the Ozone and atmospheric layers that protect the Earth from the killing cosmic UV rays. The sun has become death to the inhabitants of the world, and society has broken down into pre-industrial, chaotic, anarchy. A city in the American Midwest is walled in castle-style and kept safe from the predations of roving packs of cannibalistic mutant humans called Peregrines.
The protagonist, Milo, is the second in command of the city’s loose army/security force called the Daens. His father, the Captain, explains using an old globe that once there was a place where water would stretch away to the horizon. If they could reach this place, they might be able to avoid the effects of another generation of living in the poisonous desert that the Midwest has become. Milo’s common-law wife is named Elimande. They decide to put together an expedition East to see the “blue land” themselves, and they gas up an ancient Jeep and take what weapons they have that still work. As they prepare, however, the Peregrines mount a massive attack on the city. Milo and his driver Henry escape from the city, but not before the Peregrines destroy the city and kill both the Captain and Elimande.
Devilled by guilt, Milo and Henry bitterly cross the barren Midwest and Milo recalls how he met and wooed Eli in earlier times before the Peregrines came to power and wiped out the neighboring sister city she was from. Along the way, they meet another woman named Sophie who joins them and she and Henry are immediately attracted to each other. Sophie is later wounded in an attack by flying Peregrines who have mutated to grow wings, and they take her to an unfamiliar gated, walled city to try to find help for her. Instead of help, the city guards incapacitate and disarm them and throw them all, including the wounded Sophie, into a jail cell. Milo has hidden a pair of sharpened steel knives in the soles of his boots and he and Henry use these to kill a guard and escape.
As they run, their escape is assisted by the simultaneous attack of a Peregrine war band on the city, and they stumble out through a sewer tunnel with the injured and possibly-dying Sophie strung between them. In order to draw their pursuers off, they split up. Henry takes Sophie through the sewer system and Milo tries for a separate gate, drawing as much attention as possible. A gun-battle ensues in which Milo commandeers an ancient rusty machinegun and unleashes it on the city guards and Peregrines alike. Eventually he manages to escape in the chaos that follows. Henry and Sophie are not followed, but Sophie’s condition begins to rapidly worsen.
At this point, the main narrative splits into two separate parallel storylines. Milo is pursued out of the city by a pack of Peregrines leading mutant hunting dogs and a huge, apparently friendly, mutant steps in to help, slaughtering them all easily. The Mutant’s name is Vagnar, and Milo learns that he is of a strain of mutants that have adapted to the killing rays of the sun and can survive them. Vagnar takes Milo to his people’s fortress high in the trees of the gradually-thickening eastern forests.
Henry and Sophie are met by a mysterious and unusual-looking woman named Selyth, who is of a separate race of mutants that have developed technology to keep themselves safe from the sun. Their skin is such a pale white that it nearly glows, and they appear such that Henry calls them Angels. Selyth quickly hides them in strange invisible tent-like structures that the Angels use for shelter, and heals Sophie’s wound. While Sophie is unconscious and healing in the next tent, Selyth steals into Henry’s tent and seduces him.
The two then later meet each other in parallel trips East to find a place where they believe the Peregrines may be holding prisoners from their conquests of the Midwestern cities. The Aeiri (Angels), however, hate Vagnar’s barbarians, and the humans find themselves in furious negotiation to keep one from wiping the other out. An uneasy truce is made, and the band continues East.
The final two chapters that were written concern the last leg of the journey before they reached the Peregrine stronghold in permanently-ice-covered Canada. Chapter 11 has them traversing the Great Lakes (which have frozen completely solid due to the climate shift), but walking through cavernous tunnels in the ice. They walk through the actual lake and see in the light of their torches the wreckages of old ships, and of mutant monsters that formed in the brief years before the lakes froze solid. Immediately after emerging from the lake, they discover an old communications bunker from before the Char which houses the remains of a detachment of military personnel including a man named Niles Nazereth.
At this point, it is revealed that during the years preceding the Char, mankind was well aware that the comet would strike the Earth and used virtually every resource still remaining on the planet to build a pair of giant spacecraft called Arks to escape with. Nazereth, a disgruntled divorcee whose ex-wife took a place on the Ark without him, uses his military clearance to gain access to the bunker, which houses the targeting system for an orbital laser battery designed to knock solid objects out of the sky before they impact Earth. Since the comet Dante is not solid, this battery is useless. Instead, Nazereth trains the weapon on the Arks and shoots them down, killing all aboard, only hours before the Comet impacts the earth and glances off, causing the Char.
I have some outline material that remains for the group encountering the terrifying leader of the Peregrines, Onelannor, but it is sketchy and there are plot holes in the story large enough to put my foot through. (Fun fact: I did re-use the name “Onelannor” later in my early POD published middle-grades novel The Prince and The Pitchman.)
Age: Eighteen when I began, twenty-two when I abandoned it.
Inspiration: Loads of classic sci-fi. By this point in my life, I had started to delve into some of the best sci-fi from the 1960’s and 70’s, both film and books, and they inspired it heavily. I had also started to favor dystopian, apocalyptic fiction by then, and knew I wanted to write something like that.
Significance: Enormous. This was the first time I could see a story evolve into something original, of appropriate length to be considered a viable novel, and with at least the chance of being finished. Though The Blue East will likely never be completed and published, Niles Nazereth was the subject of two further short stories, both originally meant as back-story for The Blue East. “The Reading of the Riot Act” and “Ballerina” were eventually published in Carl Rafala’s collection Alien Light, and became my first print publishing credits.
Chances of it ever being finished/published: Slim to none. Again, not because I didn't like it as much as I've just already got a whole bunch of other ideas, most of them a bit more creatively mature, that are waiting for me to make stories out of.
Middle College (Fiction Classes) 1999
I wrote a number of short stories this year for fun and for the advanced techniques of fiction class that I took with visiting guest author Elizabeth Stuckey French. Most that I still have are under 750 words and are just writing exercises, but three stood out. The first was a full-length short story about astronauts stuck in a space-shuttle that’s slowly decompressing into the vacuum, sadly I lost the original draft of this story and the file on my computer was corrupted. I don't even have a more detailed synopsis or hard copy I can reference. The second one was a peculiar little non-sci-fi piece, and the third was a completed short story called The Crying Dragon submitted as a semester-long project.
Title: Hot Tin Roof
The Story: A 1,300 word story told in the Second Person about a man who takes his work-related aggression out on his family and eventually loses them.
Inspiration: The story was an exercise that was supposed to contain the first line “I met him on the stairs.”
Significance: This was the first story I remember receiving significant positive feedback about from my peers and my instructor for the course. It was a big boost for my enthusiasm for writing.
Chance of it ever being published: Slim to none. Too short, too obscure, and too amateurish, but not bad at all to read all these years later.
Title: The Crying Dragon
The Story: A dragon named Isaac is holed up in his mountainside lair one day, recovering from a sickness that makes him sneeze like a sick puppy, and a knight named Sir Gabriel wanders into his chamber. The dragon initially suspects the man has come here to kill him, and so easily disarms the knight. Questioning him briefly before planning to barbecue him with a blast of flame breath, Isaac learns that the knight has come to slay him in order to obtain his tears, which he hopes to use to bring his beloved Lady Victoria back from the dead. He goes on to say that his lady was ambushed and slain by poachers and he was forced to watch. The injustice of it makes Isaac upset but, having killed many humans in his life already, Isaac is unable to shed a tear for the knight. Sir Gabriel, realizing he cannot win and not wanting to continue on living without Victoria, snatches up his sword and stabs himself in the heart, dying instantly. This bothers Isaac even more, but still no tears. Isaac scoops the knight up and takes him down the mountain to the kingdom there where the knight came from. As he approaches, he notices that a funeral procession for Lady Victoria is in progress, and he flies down to the middle of the town square where the stunned humans are preparing for her funeral. The King, terrified but indignant and beside himself with grief over the Lady Victoria, snatches Sir Gabriel's body from Isaac and accuses him of murdering Sir Gabriel. Isaac tries to protest, but he can see in the eyes of the people he has terrified and wronged for so many years that they don't believe him. Very upset now, Isaac finally does begin to cry, and the tears that fall on the bodies of Sir Gabriel and Lady Victoria bring them back to life. The people of the kingdom welcome Isaac in an uneasy truce, and the dragon wonders idly at the end of the story how this will affect his image among the other dragons. Eventually, he decides he doesn't care.
Inspiration: I think at the time I was reading quite a lot of short fiction and learning how authors I admired managed to work compact and layered themes and plots into something only five or ten thousand words long. This added to the fact that I've always been something of a high-fantasy fan as well.
Significance: I remember getting quite a lot of positive feedback about this story from other writers in my class and the instructor. Ego boosts are sort of the whole point to classes like these, but still. One of the first handful of things I wrote that didn't feel derivative, uncreative, undercooked, or incomplete.
Chances of ever seeing it published: Fairly ok, actually, depending on which venues would publish such a story.
Late College (DyingDays) 2000-2001
During this time, I began posting short fiction and serial fiction on DyingDays.com, a site which I co-founded with Paul Hughes. DyingDays.com wasn’t a fiction site, per se, but did feature initially some creative work and eventually a large wealth of fascinating proto-blog-ish material from a wide variety of creative people who would eventually form part of the bedrock of Silverthought.com and a modest sliver of the first generation of modern indie authors and bloggers.
The Story: A man is trying to work on his typewriter in his den, all the while his wife and mother-in-law are noisily disregarding his passionate pursuit of finishing his opus. As they continually intrude on his space and his thoughts, he eventually decides that his work is the most important thing to him. The final line involves him calmly getting up from his desk, opening the drawer, taking out a pistol and two bullets.
Inspiration: This was sort of my response to the Tarantino-ish/O. Henry style noir-twist fiction that was popular at the time and which I liked and felt comfortable with.
Significance: My first fiction piece posted online in a busy website.
Chances of it ever being published: None. Like most of these, even though it was fine at the time and even modestly creative for me at the time, it feels hopelessly amateurish to me in retrospect.
Title: The Ninja and the Pizza
The Story: A very short story that runs just over 1,000 words involving a ninja sent to retrieve a pizza. He is intercepted and killed by a second ninja in the process.
Age: Twenty-one, and apparently enjoying it.
Inspiration: Late-night pizza cravings my senior year during all-nighters to finish my homework.
Significance: None, though there is a fun tie-in: I wrote this without the benefit of having read Neal Stephenson’s enormously popular Snow Crash, in which the main character is a ninja pizza delivery guy.
Chances of it ever being published: God, I hope not even after I’m dead.
Title: The Rationalizations of Elwin Pitchpocket
The Story: This was originally written as a multi-part serial story for Dyingdays and released as it was written. It’s a 5,000 word short story about a nerdy young corporate pen-pusher named Elwin and his neighbors and their daughter, the Hanrattys. The hyper-confident and aggressive high-school age daughter, Darlene, flirts with Elwin a bit and then bluntly propositions him, but with the caveat that she is HIV positive. Elwin is indecisive and more than a little terrified and unable to decide, and she continues to taunt and entice him. The story ends with her coming over to his apartment only to find that he is gone, abruptly moving. It is never stated, but implied, that he did so because he knew the temptation would eventually have been too great for him.
Inspiration: There was a whole rash of this sort of drama in the late 90’s and early 00’s where films and books started adult-izing teenagers and treating them not as fumbling, comical adventurers (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Ferris Beuller's Day Off) but as savvy, powerful young people whose mere inexperience, rather than their completely inappropriate attitudes, were what got them into trouble. I guess this was about the time I saw American Beauty, Fear, The Crush, Cruel Intentions, and in particular Larry Clark’s Kids, which hammered home the AIDS and HIV terror that was ground into my generation from almost the time we could read.
Significance: I remember feeling vaguely like I was trying to comment on what it would take for the media and our culture to snap out of our growing and unhealthy obsession with teenagers. This was right around the time of Columbine and the rise in MWWS (Missing White Woman Syndrome) where the media started an absolute uproar over kidnappings and murders of young white women like Chandra Levy while simultaneously glossing over important world-altering political events like the WTO "Battle in Seattle" and the A20 protests in Quebec.
Chances it will ever be published: None. Though I’ve gotten good feedback on it, it’s a very unoriginal, thematically dated piece and doesn’t stand up well a decade later.
Summer after College 2001
By this point I had started posting most of my work on Silverthought.com, where the stories I haven't mentioned from this stretch of time still reside in the archives. The only really "lost" story that I wrote up to then was a short story I wrote in a notebook while on my lunchbreaks working at Xerox in the summer of 2001, just before 9/11. I think it was eventually posted at DyingDays.com and it was the subject of a short-lived eBook experiment with Flagstone Publishing before that outfit became defunct. It's the last completed story of this type that sits in the folder of my old stories and ideas. I have a new folder of current ideas, chapters, treatments, and even several half-finished subsequent novels that I'm in the process of working my way through, but those are still quite viable in my mind, and I want them to be a surprise if and when they make it to completion in whatever format is most appropriate for them.
The Story: Benny, a seventh grader, is sitting in a darkened classroom watching “West Side Story” for his music class. He is bored and thinks the movie is lame so his mind wanders. When the bell rings, he gets up to go out to the school busses and go home. He lines up at the door and on his way out he sees a pretty girl in what looks like a bunny costume, out of the corner of his eye. He turns and she disappears around the corner of the brick building. Stepping out of the bus line, he follows her only to have her once again duck behind another edge of the building and out of sight. He reaches the spot where she disappeared and finds a single bunny slipper at the opening of an exhaust vent in the exterior wall of the school. He looks into the vent and sees her further in, hiding, and smiling at him. She turns and vanishes down the vent pipe, and he climbs in to follow her. Stumbling around in the pipe, she grabs his neck and shoulders and gives him a thrilling kiss. He chases her around bends and turns into the darkness, all the while finding his way by following a trail of discarded scraps of fur and from the costume. Eventually, in the pitch dark, he discovers a piece of it that feels like the main leotard portion of the costume and he realizes she’s naked and running ahead of him through the vents. He starts to feel some apprehension about being there and starts to get the feeling that something very wrong is happening. As he turns the next corner, he realizes the light is completely gone, and all he can hear is the girl’s voice whispering to him. “Psst!” She says. He doesn’t respond, trying to figure it out. “Psst!” she repeats. At this moment, he wakes up from his daydream, startled, still at his desk and still watching “West Side Story”, and inadvertently staring at the girl, who is sitting next to him in his class. “Are you looking at my chest?” she whispers loudly, prompting laughter from his other classmates. He slinks down in his seat and looks away embarrassed.
Inspiration: I don't think at the time I was going for a Lewis Carrol tie-in, I think it had more to do with me thinking about boredom and daydreaming and the sorts of fantastical stuff that happens when your mind wanders. I can't remember if there was anything else specifically influential to this piece.
Significance: As I mentioned above, this was the first piece of mine that was made into an eBook and one of the first pieces I can remember feeling represented me as a maturing author with something to say and the skill to say it. Of course, now that I look back at it there are huge chunks of it that need to be rewritten to reflect my now thirtysomething narrative voice, but it's still a viable, entertaining little story.
Chances of seeing it published: Fairly good, depending on the venue and pending some revision.