Assignment: Rupert Hills

For authors, by authors, one word at a time

Assignment: Rupert Hills

November 27, 2011 Writing 18

Kate sighed as she viewed the landscape around her. Alex was as good as his word, not only securing her job, but getting her promoted from journalist to field reporter. She’d already received her first assignment and found herself here, on the outskirts of a town about 45 miles from home.

It was farm country here. Black dapples spread over lush green, their brown spotted white counterparts dispersed like a chess game among them. Large metal silos and red barns with big black roofs were a common site along the highway. The houses varied from small, simplistic ranch style homes to large plantation style homes. It seemed to Kate like the smaller the house, the larger the farm was. It was an interesting sight, and one she made sure to note in her notebook. She grew up on a farm, though hers was nothing like these. The farm she had grown up on was a dairy farm, a large development on very small land space. It had been a happy home though, and she delighted in chasing the chickens on a regular basis.

This time she was returning to farm country on a sour note. Crime reporting was a new step for Kate, but she met the challenge the same way she did everything else in life. She took it head on, ready to grab it by the horns and hang on for dear life. She was here to get the facts on a murder. The body was disposed of in a grain elevator. The victim was still unidentified, but it was her job to lean on the police department there for updated information. Her first stop was at the site where the body was found. They were sending a camera crew out in a few hours. Now was her time to find the best scenery to tell the story from, and she didn’t intend to let them down.

The grain elevator was old and abandoned- a tall wooden structure that reminded her of a bell tower. Metal slabs covered the wood, though there were gaps where the metal had been ripped off along the top. The orange of rust decorated the south facing wall, as if this part of the building had pissed Mother Nature off and bore the brunt of her fury. The building itself was placed on a flat parcel of land, the dying grass all around it giving it a particularly sinister appearance against an overcast sky. It looked like the place death would hang out at. The naked trees that clustered about the land parcel did nothing to persuade against the illusion. Sudden visions of Leatherface and chainsaws filled her thoughts and she shivered slightly as a cold wind carried itself up the back of her jacket.

The sliding door at the base of the grain elevator was left slightly ajar, as if it was inviting her to come in. From her position she could only see one other door, closed and bolted on the south wall. Light filtered in from the open windows at the top. She hesitantly took a step to the door and stuck her head in. The first thing that hit her was the smell. It was horribly repugnant, the smell of death mixed with rotting grain. She stepped just inside the door as she detected no danger within the walls of the grain elevator.

She saw gold in every direction. The gold had a gray tint covering it. Columns stood tall on each wall. The silver pipes shined brightly as they twisted and curved their way to the floor, a bright contrast to their surroundings that seemed unmarked by time. Chutes were revealed all over the room. There was black mire surrounding puddles on the floor underneath several chutes. These puddles were translucent, like mirrors, that lent a surreal look to otherwise dismal surroundings. Further down the room, underneath other chutes were piles of black awfulness, not exactly mud, and not exactly grain. It was probably the source of the horrible smell. There were copies of the black grossness scattered around as if it were playing hopscotch. Rainbows of graffiti were spray painted on the side of several columns, giving out a false sense of beauty to the eye of the beholder.

Her eyes were mere slits as she tried to see further into the building without breaching the darkness. She spied the yellow caution tape securing a far corner of the elevator. Stepping carefully, she journeyed to the site, noting the barrel that stood in the center, artfully reflected in the water below it. It was the barrel where the body had been found. Just as she suspected, there was no blood on the scene here. She also knew that it was anyone’s guess as to how long the body had actually been here. It was already in stages of decomposition but there’d been no release as to time of death yet. She felt the hair on the back of her neck lift up as a cold breeze whistled through the building, bringing the smell of death and decay with it.

“What are you doing here?” A man’s voice startled Kate, causing her to jump into the air. Her eyes drank in the tall form standing near her, the overhead light casting a longer shadow behind him. His face, long and skinny, was tight lipped, his hand on his waist as if he were ready to shoot. The overalls he wore revealed the stick thin body within it. He reminded Kate of the farmer from the American Gothic painting. She found herself looking for the pitchfork he holds in the painting. He was standing underneath a chute in the center of the black grossness, his tall black boots making it impossible to see where his feet ended and the mire began. It was as if he’d risen from the mire itself. She shivered again before speaking.

“I am investigating the body that was found here and the proposed murder that caused it.”

“Ah-hmm. The police were already here. They got everything they needed. So, again, what are you doing here?” The man looked even more sinister now with his eyebrows knitting together into one over the stab of his brown eyes.

“I am a reporter. I’ve been sent to investigate by the KGLW News center.”

“This is a dangerous place, lady. You shouldn’t be here alone.” He said, the stab of his eyes still shooting daggers in her direction. “There are some not so nice things here. You’d best move along before the sun sets or you’ll get a story you aren’t reckoning on. There’s not much time.” He held his hand out, as if to lead the way. Kate held hers out to indicate that she would follow. When she exited the building, the man turned and slid the door closed and bolted it shut.

“If you bolt it shut, then how did the body get in there?” she asked him.

“I told you. There are some not so nice things here. Doors mean nothing to them.” His head turned up and he looked at the sky for a moment. “We best get moving. They’ll be here soon. You don’t want to be here when they arrive. In fact, you don’t want to be here at all.” He opened her car door for her, made sure she was secured before closing it. He took one step back and stood there just waiting as she pulled off. She tried to watch from her rear view mirror to see where he’d come from, but the road ahead was in bad shape, and she had to focus on what was ahead instead of what was behind her.

Her cellphone buzzed as she hit the main highway, and it was at that precise moment that she realized there’d been no incoming calls the entire time she was at the grain elevator. More mystery was added to the whole thing, and she decided it would be worth investigating, even if it were on her own. She needed answers. She wasn’t going to head back there alone though. Whoever that man was, he’d been successful in creeping her out.

Kate found the KGLW camera crew waiting for her outside the sheriff’s office at the county courthouse. The county courthouse was a quaint looking two-story brick building reminiscent of the Alamo. It housed the sheriff’s office and the jail on the bottom floor, the justice of the peace’s offices on the main floor, and the courtroom itself and all its necessary offices took up the entire top floor.

Nestled snugly beside it was a white brick building which contained the city hall and the town bank, and chiseled stone engraved with the town’s birth year displayed proudly at the top center. Its architecture was phenomenal, lending an old west look to the building. Another building, a duplicate of the courthouse, stood next to the white one, giving all three buildings a connected look, only this building’s lower half was painted blue, and housed a thrift shop. Above the door was a wooden awning and galvanized blue metal sheeting. The top floor consisted of five half rounded windows that revealed a loft behind them. The windows were covered inside by a deep heavy fabric so no one could see into them. It was a typical small town in the Midwest, but the beauty of them never failed to take her breath away.

“Hi, gentlemen. I’m Kate.” They took her hand generously, introducing themselves as they did.

“I’m Andy, the cameraman.”

“And I’m Abe, the sound guy. We tried to get some info from the sheriff, but he wouldn’t tell us anything without you here. He said to come in when you’re ready; he’s got quite a tale for you.”

“Quite a tale, huh? Is it going to be worth our time though? That’s what I’m worried about.” She kept the loss of time to herself. This didn’t seem like something that should be shared, at least not until she’d gathered more facts. She doubted that anyone that lived here would willfully give them up in regards to the mysterious place. As her mind flicked back to the site, she suddenly realized no other vehicles were there and she had passed none on her way out. Just exactly how the man got there became an even bigger mystery. She planned to spend her free days solving it. It would be a good distraction while Martin was deployed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

At the beginning of the month, we asked you to “Show us your world.” Your instructions were: “Build a setting for a larger story. Start by showing us the world you are creating for your characters. Is it a city? A remote village? Far away planet? What time of year is it? What types of critters are indigenous to the area? You tell us…”. I had 1800 words to use, so I offer you 1755 here.

This is the main setting for my NaNo project, where the main part of the story centers around. Can you see it? Did I put you there? Feel free to share your thoughts with me. I always welcome critique.

Thank you for taking the time to read my piece. It means a lot to me.

Wikipedia: The Was (“power, dominion”) sceptre is a symbol that appeared often in relics, art and hieroglyphics associated with the Ancient Egyptian religion.

 

18 Responses

  1. Donna says:

    Every time I read one of your NaNo excerpts I am truly amazed at how eloquently you write in such a short amount of time. You make it appear effortless. I have nothing but praise to offer. Every line was like a brush-stroke, coming together to paint a vivid image in my mind. I especially loved your description of the “American Gothic farmer” seeming to rise from the mire. Very well done.

    • DM says:

      Thank you, Donna. Most of the time when I post a piece from my NaNo, I have gone back through it and edited it, but I’m also doing that through the course of the project too. Not sure that was the wisest course of action at this point since I have 4 days and 8,000 still to go. LOL.

      I’m glad my descriptions worked. I wrote this piece when the prompt was first issued, so I wrote it with the challenge in mind. This is one of the reasons why I love writing to prompts.

  2. Lance says:

    one piece of concrit – THe line “It looked like the scene of a horror movie” works better at the end of the paragraph or not at all. You do such a great job descrining everything that the reader sees horror movie OR gets that notion reaffirmed with the line at the end.

    Now…this is super. It smells, creaks, swishes, and grooves. The setting is so what Ive imagined and what I think will be the backbone of your ebstselling novel.

    Great episode

    • DM says:

      A girl can dream can’t she? Thanks, Lance. I’ll be sure to fix that line in the final product because I think you’re right. Great catch.

      And this is where it all happens, so yeah. This setting is the backbone. I’m glad it works.

  3. Shah Wharton says:

    I cannot believe the quality of your NaNo writing. Mine is done, but needs a serious edit and I didn’t bother with bells and whistles – only the skeleton. So well done. Your novel s going to be excellent. I was right in the flesh of it. I also agree with the first comment re that line. I’m not even sure you need it becaue of how well your painted the picture 😀 Well done. X

    http://wordsinsync.blogspot.com/2011/11/interview-with-features-writer-and.html

  4. TheKirCorner says:

    I loved it, although I’m really glad the sun is shi ing while I’m reading it because it was spooky. Yes, you more than took me there. Loved how you described the rust and the grain elevator….I was standing there, smelling that scary place…your talent with words is truly amazing. I can’t wait to get my copy of this book!!!!

    • DM says:

      Thank you, Kir. Your support has been amazing during this. My feeling absolutely won’t be hurt though if you don’t rush out and by a copy when it goes to print. It is a horror after all, I know you don’t like scary stuff. 😉 Your support is enough.

  5. Brandon says:

    Not a bad start. I’m curious to see where this whole thing goes.

    A couple of things for you – and since this is a Nano work with a strict timeline, I will take it easy on you, lol!

    First, some of your descriptors aren’t matching up. The rounded loft windows, for instance. You say they revealed a loft behind them, yet you say they were covered in heavy fabric that you can’t see through. Also, at the end, you said that she shouldn’t reveal the “loss of time,” but if she wasn’t receiving calls, that could easily be a loss of signal. You made no mention of time, just that she wasn’t receiving calls. Something to look for as you edit.

    Second, be careful when you say phrases like “…the stab of his eyes still shooting daggers…” you have to consider whether they make sense. A stabbing look is going to shoot? Maybe they would pierce. Again, just something to look for as you edit.

    I think you have a good story going here. You just need to really scrutinize when you edit this over time.

    I want to ask what you think of it so far, but if you are anything like me, you will need to step away from it for a little while and come back with fresh eyes. I’m curious though. You’ll have to let me know after Nano is in the rearview!

    • DM says:

      Actually, the story jumps back and forth between Martin and Kate for a bit in the beginning, so this piece is actually 2 different parts and I omitted parts that didn’t relate to the scene here (Without thinking about things like no one knowing that she’d lost time in the grain elevator) so it flows in the larger work as a whole.

      Without stepping away from it (because even as I close on the 50K of NaNo, this book is nowhere near finished!), I’ll tell you that overall I like it. There are bits and pieces that the more I write the more I realize that they are irrelevant to the story and even in some cases while they made the story more interesting in the beginning, they become a burden later on. So, I either have to find a decent and acceptable way to kill them, or I have to cut them out entirely. I don’t care for either scenario, but it is what it is.

      I’ll also admit that I’m pleased with how it has progressed as it was almost a last minute decision/idea that developed from another prompt I received during Indie Ink. Your skeleton outline would have done me a lot of good here. I am definitely learning new things this year.

      • Brandon says:

        Oh, ok. That makes sense. Good to know.

        Ah, the beauty of the editing process… (*retch*) Ha! I’m sure there will be entire pieces here and there that will get scrapped or completely re-written. It sucks, but it’s a fact. I’m still working on how to keep edits organized. They say don’t scrap everything entirely, as in, when you do a large edit, do it to a copy and file away, but my lord, that takes a lot of space. I need to research that more.

        Congrats on your 50K! Good job!

        • DM says:

          I don’t have a ton of experience with editing a piece of this size, but for my first NaNo project, I ended up making a folder in my gmail and tucking them all away there, and took them out one by one and reworked the suggestions to make the story better. It does take up a lot of room though.

          Thanks for your support through the whole Nano process.

  6. Angelia Sims says:

    You are knocking this out of the park. I can only imagine what all you have while closing in on 50K. I am intrigued and thoroughly spooked. I am not going near a farm any time soon. LOL.

  7. strangelyd says:

    I am really intrigued to find out more about where this goes from here. I loved how you conveyed the eerieness factor if this location so well, and the man who just appears fro nowhere is creepy but not as creepy as knowing that “they” are coming and will be there soon! I like how he looks up at the sky when he says that-I’m envisioning some really scary and possibly flying creatures?
    I like how you brought us into the location too, my favorite line was “The orange of rust decorated the south facing wall, as if this part of the building had pissed Mother Nature off and bore the brunt of her fury.” Very cool.

    • DM says:

      Thank you, Lydia. It was nice to hear your thoughts on my piece. I’m a couple chapters behind but I have 3,000 words to write still to beat NaNo, so I promise I will be by. Your story deserves attention, so I want to give it my fullest.

      I would love to see you link up wiht StoryDam too.

  8. Grover says:

    Thanks , I have just been looking for information about this topic for a while and yours is the greatest I’ve discovered till now. However, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you certain in regards to the supply?

It's YOUR write side, too! Let's hear it!