November 20, 2015

NaNoWriMo and What Resulted

Just as many other writers did (and are still doing) this month, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  My goal was to reach 50,000 words before Thanksgiving, but things went well and I reached my goal at 1:30am on Thursday, November 19th.  I am terribly thankful to have reached my goal... so I decided to write some more!  :)  I'd love to tell you a little bit about the story that took up all my free time for the past 20 days.

Oh, and by the way, I hope to finish it before the end of November, but we'll see if that happens.

But now on to the fun part.  My NaNo Novel last year focused on Kellen (you can read about it on the Books page above).  This year, I focused on Kellen's sister, Jenna, in the story Jenna.  (I'm not very original with titles as you can tell... but there's time to work on that.)   Here's a summery of Jenna's story in her own words. 
My name is Jenna Lynn Fayette and I'm a lover of many random things... old movies, new games, dry humor, and practically anything that makes me laugh or think outside the box.  My story unfolds on an evening, just like any other.  At least, that's what I thought, until I descended the stairs after my evening shower to find both my parents lying dead on the floor in the living room of my family's old Denver townhome. 
Needless to say, that was the last day of my life as I knew it.  After a blur of florescent lights, questioning, IDing mug shots, and trying not to think about the horror I'd seen just hours before, I agreed to being enrolled in the National Witness Protection Program, also known as WITSEC (for Witness Security, I guess).  My death would be faked and an empty coffin would be buried beside my parent's in the cemetery not far from our house.  Friends and family would attend the funeral... it would be sad, them thinking me dead, but I knew faking my death was the only option.  
But first I had to testify.  Until the trial, they told me I would be kept at a safehouse in the Rocky Mountains, protected by four deputy marshals. I had no idea what I was in for.  Not that things were terribly different than I expected.  The days were long, the food became monotonous (when it was edible - it all depended on who cooked it), and the company....well, quite honestly, that's what surprised me the most. 
Jason, married with an adorable daughter, offered me the only shred of conversational entertainment in the entire safehouse.  We joked, insulted each other, and warred at our favorite childhood board games.  I'll remember him forever.  
Next were Pete and lane, and I lump them together because they are practically clones of each other.  Mum is the only way to describe them.  Mum and dull.  They possessed no entertainment value whatsoever.  As you can see, the paragraph describing them both is quite short. 
Lastly, Agent Tael Dante (and I use his full titled name because it describes his character better, perhaps, than I can).  I call him Man in Black, partially because I'm a stickler for old movies and partially because he never wears anything but black.  He intrigues me, possibly too much for my own good.  He seems to me a walking contradiction, a paradox, my friend and my enemy at the same time.  So, of course, me being who I am, I set about unveiling the mysteries that surround this altogether mysterious man.  
The day of the trial comes and goes, but I never make it to the courthouse.  Instead, I'm whisked away to another hideout in the mountains... however, in contrast, this one is not safe, a house, nor am I taken there with my consent.  The day goes from long to torturous in length.  Mostly, I just want to die, but no matter how hard I try, I can't.  Tael won't let me. 
That's pretty much all that can be said without exposing spoilers, so I'll end the summery there.  However, I will leave the first chapter here, in case you're interested in taking a peak at Jenna's world.
“Look at you, so dashing and beautiful.” It would have sounded better if it wasn't her own voice saying it, but the frizzy haired, half-drowned looking rat of a twenty year old needed all the encouragement she could get. “With a little work...” she drew a brush through her wet hair, “you will take Mr. Darcy's breath away.”
Leaning close to the mirror she investigated a suspicious redness on her forehead. “Ah, perhaps a bit of apple cider vinegar will be needed on that bambino of a pimple.” Not that it mattered much... Mr. Darcy wouldn't be looking at her, only Elizabeth.
“Well, at least Rick Blaine needs a new leading lady.” Then mimicking Humphrey Bogart's voice as best she could, “Here's looking at you, kid.”
Sighing with resignation, she finished taming her mop of thick almost-black hair. Casablanca was an option for tomorrow, but she already promised her parents that Pride and Prejudice, the five hour version, would finally play in their living room theatre tonight. No use upsetting the public for a small childhood infatuation.
Glancing at her bathrobe hanging on the back of the door she twisted up her face. Bathrobe or blanket? “I'm already dressed.” Though a t-shirt and jeans didn't really flatter her figure, it was almost as comfy as a robe. “Blanket it is, then.”
Her father often complained about the extended length of the Pride and Prejudice, but Jenna shook her head as she descended the stairs. She whispered, “Too much of a good thing is probably just the right amount.” Yes, she talked to herself all the time, but she didn't want to worry her parents. Mental stability had very little to do with who one talked to, despite what most people believed.
As she rounded the landing halfway between the first story and the second story in their old-fashioned Denver town home, she expected to see her parents sitting on the couch waiting for her.
First her eyes caught two large men, tattoos shadowed their faces.  Her feet stuck on the stairs.
Blood. That's what she saw next. Lots of it. The man kneeling beside the couch stood, an eight inch long knife dripped blood like a leaky faucet leaks water.
God, no. This wasn't happening. Her father lay across the couch, her mother on the floor at the second man's feet. Blood poured from gashes in their necks.
Three seconds passed, maybe less. Fear, the kind that lends you wings, gripped her insides. It was too late, the men already saw her.
Her feet fled, but her mind stuck on the image of her parents. A single bound carried her over the banister and onto the tile floor of the dining room. Four more steps to the kitchen door. Three, she was off the porch. Right? Left?
The men pounded behind her but she barely heard them over the thundering of her heart. Across the grass, the porch lights faded as she plunged further into the yard. Darkness reached out to her. She dashed between the fence and the shed, using a wooden crate to help her over the six foot privacy fence that hid them from their neighbors.
The men's voices faded into the night as she ran. She didn't know where she was going, but she didn't stop until she no longer recognized any of the houses around her. Her muscles cramped and her lungs burned as she slowed to a walk.
An Elm tree stood between two houses, shading the ground from moonlight. Jenna stopped beneath it, listening for the first time. Crickets. The sound of distant sirens.
Sinking onto the grass, she leaned against the trunk of the tree as she hugged her knees tightly. The air wasn't cold, but she shook uncontrollably. Her mind was blank. Somehow, not even the image of her parent's mangled bodies found its way there. Nothing. Simply the silence of the night, the wailing of the sirens, the blackness before her. Nothing else.

By the time she stood again, her joints ached from her position. How long had she sat there?
The sirens fell silent sometime between then and now, all was peaceful again. She felt trapped, knowing the horror that faced her back in her living room but unable to prevent her feet from taking her there. It was like a magnet drew her back to the scene that was her worst nightmare made a reality. Bile soured her mouth at the thought of what stood before her as she stopped in front of her house. Yellow crime tape stretched out into the front yard, emergency vehicles took up the rest of the street. Red, white, blue flashed constantly, dizzyingly. Floodlights lit up the house like a dancer on stage.
Her eyes drifted and stuck to the front window of the living room where they remained.
She couldn't even feel her feet, her body was completely numb. How was she still standing? Her eyes couldn't move. There. That's where her entire life lay, bleeding out on the carpet. Disappearing from life like snow melting in spring. Nothing left but a muddy mess. Sticky red mud.
“Miss? Miss, are you alright?” A hand touched her shoulder and she flinched. The man was tall, dressed in a black uniform, a peaked cap set precisely on his head. “Are you alright?” He repeated his question, but she didn't need him to.
Glancing back at the house, she folded her arms tightly over her chest, as if that would keep her heart from breaking. A deep breath – the night air chafed her throat. “Yes.” Her voice was strong, fake.
“Are you Jenna?” He spoke carefully so as not to scare her, though she didn't spook easily.
“I am.” With a blink and a hard swallow, she turned toward the officer. You can do this.
“Will you come to the station with me? I have some questions for you.” He motioned towards a squad car parked across the street.
Looking down at her bare feet, she nodded. Where else would she go? “My shoes... they're inside the front door...”
He nodded quickly, reaching out and taking her elbow. “I'll get them for you. Would you please climb into the car?”
Another deep breath. A step off the curb, the magnet was reversed now. Walking this way was hard.
The officer matched her pace, allowing her slow tight steps to carry her across the street. She climbed in and soon after, her shoes were handed to her. She half expected them to be covered with blood, too, but they weren't. Not a drop. Not even a freaking speck.
She leaned back against the seat as the drone of the wheels against the asphalt hummed constantly. The darkness covered her like a blanket. Warm. Safe.
The next several hours blurred together. She told the story at least a dozen times. Blood, tattoos, the knife... she ran. She ran. How she hated that fact. Florescents flooded every inch of the police station with yellow light. People spoke incessantly. With every recounting, the blood turned redder. Her head ached. Her heart lay in pieces at the pit of her stomach.
She just kept remembering the night, the darkness, warm, safe.
Finally, darkness came with a blanket that smelled strangely like sourdough. But it came. She settled on a short couch in a back room. With the door closed, only a slice of light peeked beneath. Her eyes wouldn't close, so she didn't force them. The darkness was enough. The quiet, though she could still hear lots of activity beyond the door. At least it didn't involve her.
Witness Protection was being arranged. “WITSEC.” She whispered the word to herself. Somehow, somewhere along the way, she had agreed to give up her old life for a new one. Whatever that meant. A safehouse until the trial, and then a new life. What is left of my life to salvage? She never made many friends. The guys were too pompous and the girls too giggly. Her parents were her best friends. But now?
She rolled over and pressed her face against the cool leather of the couch back. Now, she would sleep. But sleep didn't come.

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