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Monday, October 6, 2008

The Day That No One Died (1)

With National Novel Writing Month kicking off in just over 25 days, I thought I would get ready for it by sharing my attempt last year. I completed 11,784 words -- a long way from the 50,000 word goal. I haven't done any work on that story since then.

Here it is, in it's unrefined condition (posted in several parts over the next few days):
Crickets. Hundreds of them. Thousands, even. More crickets than he had ever seen in one place at one time. Maybe more than he'd seen ever, over the period of his short life. Daryl Campa let the curtain slide closed, stepped back from the door, and paused. Thoughtfully. Crickets.

Slowly drawing the curtain back again, he peered out the window. Tens of thousands, maybe? He released the curtain, placed his hand upon the knob, and paused once again. Only briefly, before slowly turning the knob and letting the cool autumn air rush into the room. The cool autumn air, and the pealing roar of a hundred thousand raging crickets. Recoiling, he slammed the door and wondered why he hadn't heard them earlier. Because the only thing worse than a hundred thousand noisy crickets is one cricket, he told himself. And just one lonely cricket trapped in the master bath was enough to keep him awake for most of the night.
Trudging down the hallway, clumsily wiping the sleep from his bloodshot eyes, Daryl returned to the now-steamy bathroom, and the hot shower that awaited him. And the only thing better than a hot shower on a cold autumn morning is a fluffy pillow in a warm bed, he lamented, wishing he could slip back between the covers and try to catch up lost sleep. No time now, he reminded himself. Daryl Campa had places to go and people to see, and time was wasting.

Shrugging off his bathrobe, he paid it no mind when it landed on the flattened corpse of the felonious cricket that had robbed him of so much rest the night before. It had been his first order of business to murder the little beast when he finally gave up on sleep and pulled himself from bed. It hadn't been easy, Those little suckers are quick, but he'd managed well enough. After five, maybe ten, minutes of stomping into corners, behind the sink, and around the tub, he'd finally caught the provocateur beneath the heel of his bare foot. Leaving the cricket to rot where it died, Daryl had disgustedly wiped the bug debris from his heel, wincing in disgust, wondering how the little bugger had made it into his home in the first place.

It was this curiosity that had taken Daryl to the mudroom, where he'd discovered the invading army of crickets that now blanketed his back lawn. And it was this revulsion that had made him return to the steamy hot shower that promised to bring the life back into him. Daryl Campa was going to need it. It was going to be a long day.

Daryl had a packed morning ahead of him -- meetings, presentations, interviews -- all the stuff of an up-and-coming entrepreneur such as himself. Daryl was in media. New media, to be precise. The kind of new media you found on the Internet. Blogging. Podcasting. Video logs. Daryl was into pretty much all of it. And so far, it was not a very lucrative business for him. It seemed that Internet-savvy people loved to find media content on the Internet, and they loved to download and consume said content, so long as it was free. He had tried paid subscriptions and donation buttons, but the response was less than luke warm. No one wanted to give up any money. It had only been recently that Daryl had realized that the only way to monetize his business -- this new media thing -- was to get advertising. Big advertising. All the big advertising he could manage.

For some reason, advertisers were starting to see the value of placing their thirty second audio spiel into the content put out by new media producers such as Daryl. He hadn't figured it out yet, but if it works for TV and radio, why not the web? he asked himself. Yes, why not. And he hoped to prove to himself, and to the big media megalons, that indeed, new media could be as profitable a venture as any. Thus he had peppered his morning with meetings and presentations. Sales pitches to potential advertisers. Lunch with a musician he hoped he could persuade to write a custom theme for him, free of charge. Phone calls to promoters that would someday beg to include his content in their listings.

Daryl had a busy morning planned. Very busy. And he had no time for such nuisances as crickets! He pleasured in the steamy hot water pulsing down from above as he mentally prepared for the day's activities. The sales portion of his gig came easy to Daryl. He was a natural-born talker, or so he had been told throughout his life. He warmed up quickly to people, and the more he perceived they could do for him, the warmer he got, all the quicker. Mental preparation was merely a flushing of the thoughts [crickets] from his mind that had invaded his sleep. A way to turn off all of the intrusion [crickets] that seemed to distract him. He had developed a [crickets] system to do just that. Only it didn't seem to [crickets] be working so well for him on this cool, autumn morning. This unusual [crickets] morning.

Shutting off the water and letting the steam dissipate before stepping for the shower, Daryl slumped into the tub. I must look like a [cricket] baseball catcher the way I'm sitting here right now, he thought. Like I'm waiting for the next [cricket] pitch to be thrown in. Crickets on the brain, and he just couldn't shake them. Crickets. Dabbing the moisture from his eyes as he stepped from the shower, Daryl placed one foot, then the other, onto the cold tile floor. Slipping. Falling. Landing. On crickets!

Angrier than he can ever remember having been before, Daryl Camp sat dripping wet, barely wrapped in his towel, on the cold tile floor, squished crickets beneath him. A drop of blood dripped from to his feet, and he raised his hand to his lip to investigate. He winced as he touched his lip. Must have bit it when I fell, he told himself. How did these crickets come in? He pulled himself to his feet and reached back into the shower, starting the steamy stream again. Gonna have to wash these cricket guts away, now.

His first meeting was still some time away, but this little unplanned mishap would take precious time from the leisurely morning he had planned. I'll just have to drink "that coffee on the road," he said, as his thoughts began to manifest themselves more tangibly in speech. "Or hit the post office on the way home instead." But no, that would never do. It would be the coffee he sacrificed. His much beloved coffee. His greatest weakness. The packages that needed mailing could not wait one moment longer. They absolutely had to go out with the morning mail. It had already been committed, and Daryl intended to keep his commitments.

He stepped into the shower and let the steamy hot stream wash over him, rinsing any remnants from the cricket invaders down the drain and into the great beyond. Next time he would investigate before stepping from the shower. There would not be another crickety mishap. Then he would quickly dress, collect his presentation materials, and hit the road, hoping to make up enough time to still enjoy that hot cup of coffee he was longing for. Then, when he returned home, he would deal with the crickets. Once and for all.
More tomorrow...

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