The longest thing I’ve ever written in my life is an eleven page research paper for music history. It was horribly written and I failed miserably. That being said, now I’m writing a novel! Several years have passed since I first heard about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and every year I say I’m gonna try it, but never have I made it past page three. This year I got serious and decided to really try. My first day I think I only wrote four hundred and something words. But the day after I wrote over a thousand. The daily goal is about 1,667 words a day to finish on time. I’m still a little bit behind, but I have caught way up today compared to where I was. My total word count after finishing writing today is *drumroll**crash* 11,055 words. I’m over a fifth of the way there . Anyway, to celebrate crossing the 10,000 word mark, here’s an excerpt:
A green and white house came into view on the left as we turned down East Fourth Street from Broadway. Xander lived in a pretty nice place, but it was nothing special…on the outside at least. Three steps led to a hand carved wooden door, stained dark mahogany. So many houses in this town were built from the same layout, but this house was much newer and as such built more like a modern home, larger and more accessible. A long concrete porch ran from the front door down to the right corner of the house. When we visited Xander, this patio is where we hung out. Four chairs and a table sat idle under the shade of the eave. Dead yellow grass covered the yard and a few weeds were still poking through the blades. Green tin siding covered the body of the house, faded from years of west Texas summer sun damage. A bright white garage door lay dormant at the end of the driveway. As Daniel and I neared the house, something seemed a little off. I could not put my finger on it, but the vibe was all wrong. Without thinking, I pulled my unzipped red hoodie to a close and wrapped it around my torso. It was pretty warm that day, but I could not shake the chill caused from thinking the worst about what may lie within this house. I looked over at Daniel, his short red hair sticking up in all different directions. Hoping for reassurance, his eyes let me down. We both felt the same eerie unease as we approached the front door. Air rushed into my lungs as I drew a deep breath. Exhaling in a huff, I readied my fist and knocked on the door.
Silence. While Daniel banged on the door again, I decided to see if Xander’s car was even there. I peered through the small windows in the middle of the garage door and saw the grey Honda Accord sitting between the shelves of tools and old paint and the unopened boxes leftover from the move. I turned back to Daniel, his knuckles red from knocking, and told him the news of Xander’s car. Daniel’s stocky frame sunk down even further as if a plug had been pulled and all the air in his body simply fizzled its way out. Fearing the worst, I grasped the doorknob and turned. A click released the latch from the door jamb and with a gentle push, the door swung in revealing a pristine, empty living room. Weird. There was no furniture. No sign that anyone had even been here for a while. Bare white walls met the tan carpet with white baseboards. Hesitantly, Daniel called out, “Xander? Are you here?”. No answer. We continued past the empty living room down an equally empty hallway. Two doors on the right and one on the left remained closed. Daniel opened the first door on the right to reveal a medium sized, empty room. I opened the door on the left, also empty. We both stood still in front of the third, contemplating the possibility of this room also being empty. What does one do when they come into a strange situation as this? My mind was already reeling with thoughts ranging from worry that we had lost a friend, to paranoia that our friend is a spy sent here to uncover some sort of deep political secrets hidden in Podunk America. Daniel opened the door slowly. Creaking as it swung, it revealed something neither of us had expected. This room was huge, and full. In the middle of the room sat a large square shaped desk with some sort of county map spread out over it. One wall boasted a fairly large desk, obviously kept tidy and uncluttered with nothing on it but a desk lamp and a pen caddy. The entire back wall of the room was a built in book shelf displaying hundreds upon hundreds of books of all shapes and sizes. On the right, past the map holding desk, photos were pinned up on the wall. Lines connected some of the photos to others like a police investigation room one might see on television. First, a photo of the town mayor, Arthur Felton, with a line drawn to the owner of the donut shop, Lee Davis. Lee to Ricky Lane. Ricky to Amber Chung. Amber to Sarah Peters. On the far right, without any lines connecting it anywhere, hung a photo of Daniel. But it wasn’t quite Daniel. Most of the photo looked pretty accurate, short unkempt red hair, deep blue eyes, and a strong jawline. A wrinkled forehead aged the Daniel in the photo at least twenty years. Traces of facial hair speckled his cheeks and chin. My entire life, I’ve never seen Daniel with any sort of facial hair. He always told me he couldn’t grown any. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen Daniel shave either. Baffled, I could only stand there, mouth agape, staring at this photo. The sound of Daniel’s voice snapped me out of my momentary awe.
I turned my head the direction of his voice only to see him holding his gaze at an eight by ten photograph of someone familiar. Long strawberry blonde hair, green eyes, oval face. It was me, smiling like I was posing for a portrait. Except that I didn’t pose for this portrait. The woman in the photo looked a little different as well, older maybe, wearing clothes I did not own. Something scrawled in red marker at the bottom caught my attention. Upon closer inspection I could see what the marker spelled out. The word Target sat innocent, untouched, across the printed glossy paper. Target for what? My head began to spin as my knees weakened. I was going to pass out.