Friday 7 October 2011

Fifteen Feathers - pt. 2

- Part 1 -
- Part 2 -

Why is it impossible to call in sick without feeling guilty?

Katya was on the sofa again, having slept there, fitfully, and she really was sick. She wondered if this was what a migraine felt like. Her head throbbed. Closing her eyes was some sweet relief, and she wasn’t feeling as ill as she had the day before. She thought she might manage some toast. And a cup of tea.

The TV was off; the distraction wasn’t a distraction, and trying to watch the screen had just made her feel worse. She was playing a Classic FM CD at low volume, it was helping, after she’d skipped Ride of the Valkyries. The off-white curtains were still drawn, glowing with the sun directly behind them. That hurt to look at too, but she couldn’t exactly turn that off, could she?

She heard someone at the door, rustling, then a short, firm knock. Nope, not moving, definitely not letting anyone see her after a night on the sofa. She smelt funky and her hair would be like a nest of black vipers; she would probably turn them straight to stone if they didn’t just run off, screaming. The letter box creaked, she could hear something squeezing through, barely fitting. Oh well, that was probably something important, crushed now.

She twisted round, trying to make herself more comfortable. She wanted to call Larry, moan, whine, get him to come over and make her tea. Not going to happen. That was the worst thing about break-ups, the person you most wanted to go to for comfort was suddenly the last person on earth you could go to. What an awesome birthday tomorrow was going to be.

That did it.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Kitty Kat.

She was going to have a shower, throw on something clean, make that cup of tea, make herself feel human, make herself better through sheer force of willpower. She swung herself off the sofa and stood up. Then faltered as all the blood drained from her head and her vision blackened. OK, wait a minute, then, slowly, do those things.

The shower was a revelation. The water seemed to sluice away more than just the miasma of overnight sofa; the eucalyptus-scented shampoo and conditioner seemed to untangle far more than just her crazy hair. She didn’t feel great, but she felt better.

She wrapped her hair, and then herself, in fresh, fluffy white towels and wandered down the stairs. Next stop: breakfast.

But halfway down the stairs she froze. Her heart skipped a beat.

On the doormat, by the front door, on top of a crushed, white, puffer bag parcel, was a small black envelope.

It looked exactly like the one that was on the table in the living room. The one with the five black feathers inside, which she had reacted to so badly the day before. And now her heart seemed to be falling over itself trying to catch up.

She warily descended the last few steps and crossed the couple of paces to the door, bent down and picked it up.

It was identical. High quality black paper, completely unmarked.

She opened it and reached in, clenching her jaw, gritting her teeth and steeling herself for... something. She didn’t know what.

Soft to the touch. Feathers, again, black. But four this time.

She clamped down on the rising nausea. No. She was not going to vomit. Dark drops slipped down the walls, leaving lines like black paint drips; glistening sick black streaking down from the corner crack between ceiling and wall. She clenched her fists.

And then. It subsided. She was standing in the hall, still standing, trembling, breathing heavily, panting. So much for feeling better.

-Part 3-

Recommended Reading: Loose Ends by Peter Newman.
Let snoozing demons lie... humorous and strange, just the way I like it. =)


  1. This has the feel of a much longer project than you normally post John, you have resisted the temptation to make every episode a page-turner, and continued building the opening tension, thus leaving the reader's curiosity still very much at work.

    Nice writing.

  2. This was just as good as the first part. I'm very interested to see where this goes in the next four parts! Nice usage of the words 'sluice' and 'miasma'... in the same sentence even! :)

  3. Thanks, Steve. =)
    I'm trying something a bit different to my usual, seeing if the first few parts can still carry it, even though not a whole lot happens, at least action/ cliffhanger-wise. =)

    And thank you, Xanto. =)

  4. I think what your achieving is bringing the character to the fore. The four feathers in this batch brings out a lot of tension and provides a strong sense of movement forward.

  5. I am so curious as to what those feathers are and why she reacts to them - this is an intriguing and captivating story, one where the reader just wants to know what will happen next.

  6. It unfolds just a little more… what's going to happen in three days when the last letter arrives with the last feather?

    Why her? How will she cope? So many questions, and I have to trust the next some parts will answer them!

  7. Thanks, Aidan. =)
    There's a few things I'm trying with this, part of which is trying to let the character carry more of the story.

    Thanks, Helen, FAR. =)
    I'm trying not to give too much away too soon. We'll see what people take from the next few parts before we reach the grand reveal... ;)

  8. Why is it impossible to call in sick without feeling guilty!

    Katya feels very real to me and reminds me of what I might do if I were feeling sick. I feel like I'm getting to know her a little better and getting invested in her life. I feel her anxiety and I want to know what the feathers mean! :)

  9. Reading this puts me in mind of a post you wrote about the pressures of writing a serial. Where there has to be enough clues to make the twists work but not enough to make us guess too early.

    As our expectations are building up (and they are) I think it puts more on you to deliver in the later episodes. My fingers are crossed for you!

    It's a bit like the opposite of Godstorm where we were given lots of world very quickly, this is much more focused.

    Oh and thanks for recommending me! I was delighted to see my name at the bottom of your post.

  10. Thanks, Zaiure. I think it just means you don't like letting people down, even when you have a good reason... =)

    Thanks, Peter. No problem, I like to share when I've read something I really like. =)

    This is quite different to my usual, and I hope it pays off in the end. =)