Last year I decided to give National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) a try. I had a story, it seemed to be destined. And then November became the month of hell and writing was the very last thing on my mind. I did get started though, so I will share with you the first chapter.

Remember, the idea of NaNoWriMo, is to just write, no editing, just get a rough draft of a story on the page. So this is it, undedited, unread, unspellchecked until now.

The story is a superhero story I guess, a little influenced by Heroes, a lot influenced by Buffy, particularly the montage of ordinary people around the world becoming slayers in the Season 7 episode, Chosen.

If you can can get through to the end, please give me some feedback, words of encouragement or just plain tell me never to lay a finger on a keyboard again. I intend to try and finish at least the rough draft this year.

Chapter 1
It Hadn’t Always Been Like This

She closed her eyes against the light that still managed to seep through the thick dark curtains, shifted in the bed with slow careful movements, trying to move her tired, aching limbs into a more comfortable position. Had she slept through the night or was it still the same day? Impossibly, a shadow seemed to pass across the window, blocking the light for a second, a moment of darkness, a blessed relief. Impossible as her room was on the seventh floor. She sat bolt upright, shook the cobwebs from her brain, to see the four confused faces staring back at her.

A pain shot through her arm, a fiery bolt of hot poker relentlessly pressing into her inner elbow, she awoke with a moan, eyes flashing open and then closing against the light that still managed to seep through the thick dark curtains, another pain shot down her neck as she tried to turn her head away from the light.

Fragments of the dream floated through the muddled mess of cobwebs that passed for her brain, that same shadow, those same faces. Nothing more. The faces felt familiar, but she couldn’t place them, couldn’t put names on their confused looks. The same with so many faces, places, now just spaces in her brain where her memory had been.

She opened her eyes again, slowly this time, letting them get used to the dim light gradually, she took in her all too familiar surroundings. It was a ritual. Start at the left, the darkest corner of the room, pass over the bedside table with its assorted clutter of potions and pills, the book she would never finish, the worn out rug in front of the dresser, the dressing gown hanging from a hook on the door, the dusty TV on it’s stand at the end of the bed, now ready for the light coming from the window to the right, and finally the empty chair next to her bed. Everything still there. Everything in it’s place. How long before these things became strange to her, despite being the only things she saw every day?

It hadn’t always been like this.

As little as six months ago she had been able to get around, even leave the house occasionally, her dreams hadn’t been quite so vivid back then, but real life had been clearer. Before that was harder to recall now, but she had flashes of a busy life belonging to someone she barely recognised now.

A little shorter than average, long dark hair fastened tightly in an intricate design, bright eyes and flushed cheeks glowing with the alcohol and the exercise, vest top, tight jeans that glittered slightly as she moved away from the lights and fell laughing into her seat, grabbing her drink and leaning back as she threw booted feet up on the table. She took a long, satisfying pull at her bottle, balanced it on her thighs, and glanced around at the important people in her life.

*************

“What’s wrong with you guys, anyone would think you’d been working all day.”

They looked back at her, barely out of breath as they sagged in their seats, the weariness of the day clearly outlined in their gait.

“You’re all going home, aren’t you?”

They nodded almost in unison, as they stood up to make their farewells.

“Tomorrow morning then.” She waved at them cheerily, as they shuffled off home to their beds, where she should be, but the music was still playing, the DJ wasn’t done with her yet. She took another pull at her drink before sashaying back to the dancefloor.

*************

She brushed the crumbs from the black waistcoat that covered her t-shirt, and then from the dark jeans they fell on. The remains of another working, what was it now, supper? She looked around, the glow from the computer was the only light in the office, her colleagues long gone to their families, their TV screens. She glanced at her watch, gym class was in an hour, and she really needed to swing by the grocery store on her way home, a bottle of wine and a mouldy piece of cheese really wasn’t going to feed her for the next week. Granted the cheese was intentionally mouldy, a present from a client, but she would be forced to eat it soon if drastic measures weren’t taken.

She grabbed her bag, one last check around the darkened, empty office, the phone on her desk rang, she managed two steps away before returning to pick it up. So much for the groceries.

*************

Sweat dripped from her lean frame onto the bikes illuminated screen, onto the pedals that spun faster and faster and faster, the music booming, the lights dim. She slurped at her water pack as the instructor shouted encouraging messages through her microphone, “Work it”, “Keep it up” “Are you even putting in any effort” “Come on, girls, kiss that fat goodbye!”. Her head cleared, the stresses and strains of the day draining away as the aerobic rush hit her, giving her that last bit of energy required to finish the class.

The steaming water poured over her, the lather revitalising her aching muscles, she let out a breath, leaning into the stream and relaxed finally. Ending another day as it had started, in the gym. She thought of home, the man waiting for her, the cat that would be curled up on the bed, she would just have time to ruffle both their heads before collapsing into bed. She’d make time for them this weekend, she swore.

*************

She shook her head, mentally not physically, that would have hurt too much. Was that really her, the slim, pretty, vivacious girl with the hectic schedule? Or was it just something else her muddled brain threw in there to confuse her. A depression on the bed, a drilling purr and a wet nose in her ear reminded her that the cat was real at least. The only thing left from those times. The mere effort of searching her brain for clues, trying to differentiate between reality and dreamworld wore her down and she relapsed back into her usual state, a mental haze somewhere between awake and asleep, and waited for the faces to come back. She needed her energy for her daily visit from the nurse.

He ran, faster than the cars, faster than the trains, if he could fly, he swore he would be faster than a plane too. But he couldn’t fly. Well not yet. Well, he hadn’t tried. Should he try? “Concentrate” Izzy came through loud and clear and his focus returned. He ran, he wasn’t sure where he was running to, nor was he sure what he was running from, but he was sure that this would work, that they would finally figure it all out. He had to be sure, because he really wasn’t sure of anything else anymore. The streets seemed familiar now, though they passed in a blur, and he wasn’t sure if they were familiar to him or familiar to Izzy. Just how much control did she have over his brain?

It was getting closer, he could feel it behind him, around him, still nothing more than a shadow, but an ominous presence nonetheless, should he fly? He still didn’t know if he could. But Superman could fly right? And he was as fast as Superman. Maybe he needed an outfit. His mind was veering dangerously off course to world of spandex and wearing your underpants over your trousers when Izzy called him back again to the job at hand.

It hadn’t always been like this.

He should be sweating really, out of breath, there should be some indication of the weight he was bearing. He looked down at his ripped body. At 40, this wasn’t what he had been expecting from a mid-life crisis. Hanging out with teenagers was one thing, he had always hoped the cliché would come true, but he had wanted the young nubile secretary he was to have an affair with to be over 20 at least, and preferably into men, although that wasn’t mandatory. Of course he had always intended to use that gym membership he had been paying for indefinitely, get rid of that slightly rounded, okay, full on, beer belly that protruded from his otherwise slender frame. He should really cancel that, didn’t seem like he was going to need it now. He shifted the weight a little, not because he needed to, just for something to do. His mind was wandering again, he could feel Izzy trying to get in, but he was blocking her, it wasn’t intentional, he cleared his head, tried to concentrate on Izzy. Concentrate, that was what she was telling him. It was nearly time.

It hadn’t always been like this.

Izzy’s grip on her hand became more intense, she tried to stop her whirl of thoughts so that she wouldn’t affect Izzy’s concentration. It was so hard though, her mind was dancing, whirling, twirling, twisting, turning, She shook her fair curls and looked at Izzy, such concentration on her face, she knew Izzy was using too much energy trying to calm her to keep her eye on the boys. She should simmer down, let the energy flow steadily to Izzy instead of in giddy bursts. She drank in the Izzy goodness with her eyes, longing to reach around and kiss her, take her in her arms again, smother her with adoration, dance with her, spin her around, kiss her exasperated pout and make her laugh. That tinkling laugh that was so rare but so rewarding when it finally came. She let out a giggle, she couldn’t help herself. Took a deep breath, as Izzy had taught her and calmed herself, letting the build up of energy flow steadily into Izzy through their clasped hands.

It hadn’t always been like this.

Izzy stood motionless, hands clasped with Kaylee. This was the moment, she thought, this must be the moment, must be the reason. There had to be a reason, a point to all of this. And if it meant it was over and they all went back to their old lives? If that had to be the price, then it would have been worth it. If only Kaylee would calm down, she was affecting Izzy and through Izzy the boys, making them all lose concentration. She could feel her own mind wandering, thinking of Kaylee, of last night with Kaylee. She took her mind off the boys for a moment, let it wander to Kaylee, gripped her hand harder, trying to make the calm flow through to her. She felt Kaylee relax a little, her mind had wandered, their minds had wandered. She could feel it was nearly time. They all needed to concentrate. Concentrate.

It hadn’t always been like this.

She awoke with a start again. A strange feeling down her spine. Tingling. A different type of tingling. The stirring sensation all over her body she had felt in her dreams lingered, a brief moment of clarity in her mind remained. She clung to it. In her dreams they fought and they tried and they wouldn’t give up and it was all for nothing. Precious energy wasted. She thought she had lost that driving will to survive, but it stirred still in the depths of her brain, she pushed it back, blocking the desires, but it stirred still. She gave in, as she knew she always would, tentatively she wiggled a toe, nothing, she paused, clenched her teeth, and using all her tiny strength, lifted an arm. Nothing. She let it drop and waited for the pain, for the ache that didn’t come. She’d pay for that later, she thought as the door opened and the nurse walked in all smiles and geniality.

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