Today I thought I'd do an excerpt from the YA Dark Urban Paranormal (aka Horror) novel that I'm working on.
As I said yesterday, there is an essence of good vs. evil in horror. It creates both the internal and the external conflict of this story. Some basic background here.
Parker is a 16-year-old boy who sees other people's dreams when he goes to sleep at night and it's killing him--literally. That is, until he meets Mia and his brain can finally enter REM sleep inside her dreams. The sweet sleep is more addictive than any drug and he finds himself stalking her in order to get his fix.
This scene is after he's already got her extremely freaked out. She receives a threatening e-mail and assumes it's from Parker. This is her dream that night.
I’d watched Mia’s dreams, and now her nightmares. I didn’t care what anyone said—I knew her. I cared about her way more than I should and if she kept looking at me like a monster it was going to rip me in two.
The scene changed and we were at school. It was dark and there was a thunderstorm outside. Mia ran to the wall and flipped the light switch, nothing happened. This was a typical nightmare scenario, but for some reason my muscles tensed. It was like they knew this dream wasn’t going to get any better.
A low, devious chuckle came from the end of the hall and then footsteps. I squinted in that direction as Mia froze, both of us trying to make out who it was. The figure stayed in shadow and I couldn’t discern any features at all.
The footsteps moved faster and a primal growl filled the air. It made my hair stand on end, but Mia sprinted down the hall in the opposite direction from the figure. I was jerked along with her, the jolting movements totally disorienting. Finally, I got my feet under me and ran beside her and the jerking stopped.
The hall seemed to go on forever, the pursuer coming closer with every breath. Mia pushed until she was panting and clutching her side. My heart pounded in my ears from the exertion. Finally we got to the end, but instead of the doors that led out to the back parking lot, it was just another wall of lockers—a dead end.
Mia looked around for something to defend herself with, but there was nothing. She tried to open a locker, any place to hide, but they were all locked.
The footsteps slowed, and again the chilling laugh echoed around us.
“Please—leave me alone,” Mia whimpered.
“You know I can’t do that.” The voice from the shadows was distorted and gravelly. “I told you in my love letter.”
“Threatening someone isn’t love,” Mia spat out the words like they disgusted her.
“Maybe you don’t know what real love is.”
The monster was just feet away now and still I couldn’t really see him until he lit a match. I choked as I watched myself lift up a torch and light it. The sneer on my face and cold light in my eyes looked inhuman. Mia cowered away from the flames as the monster-me walked closer.
I didn’t want to see what she thought I was capable of, but I couldn’t drag my eyes away. Standing in the corner, I shook as the monster-me reached out and touched her face. She cringed and he grabbed her hair, smashing her head into the locker. Mia screamed and blood ran down the side of her face.
“You’ll learn to love me—and no one else.” The voice was mine now, not the gravelly distortion of before. I felt sick.
Mia whispered something too low to hear, and the monster-me brought the torch near her face. She froze, wide-eyed unable to move with the flames so close. After seeing the nightmare of her parents deaths, I knew why.
I watched as I—he grabbed a strand of her hair and touched it to the fire. She squeaked as the flame leapt up almost reaching her head before the monster-me squished it between two fingers. He laughed—he was enjoying this.
I knew I had to stop him—me, but I doubted I could. Apparently, I could affect the dreamer—but I knew from experience I couldn’t affect the dream.
Monster-me opened a locker and pulled a metal stand out. He placed the torch in it, tilted at an angle that placed it far too close to Mia’s face. Her entire body was shaking so hard the locker behind her made a strange rattling noise that echoed through the hall. The monster grabbed the hair on the back of her head with one hand and crushed her face to his. His other hand wandered freely over her body, as she squeaked in protest.
No matter what he did, she couldn’t seem to move. Her eyes locked on the flame that was inches from her face in paralyzed fear.
I felt the same. I knew it was irrational, that it was only a nightmare—but I’d never experienced anything so terrifying in my life. It was like my worst fear was playing out before my eyes. The fear that I’d become this monster. That somehow it was within me, aching to get to the surface.
Monster-me rammed Mia’s head into the locker again, growling, “Kiss me back, or I’ll make you wish you had.”
Mia didn’t blink, she didn’t lift her eyes from the flame, but she was still in there—striving to fight back. I could almost see her stubborn streak flare as she opened her mouth and brought both lips inward until there was only a thin strip of pink showing. I was so relieved I almost laughed. She was still herself, just paralyzed in fear.
The monster roared. It was a sound of pure fury unlike anything I’d ever heard before. He rammed Mia’s head against the locker again. Ruby blood started dripping down on the floor. He did it again—again—again. Her eyes were still open, but they started to look unfocused as the dream began to blur.
“Stop!” I felt my real voice tear lose from my throat. “Stop hurting her!”
Nothing changed, no one heard. I kept yelling until my throat was raw. I pounded my hands against the locker behind me until they bled, but it made no sound. I crouched further into the corner, quivering and sobbing as I watched myself beat Mia to a bloody pulp. Her face was unrecognizable except for her violet eyes. They weren’t looking at the flame anymore. It almost seemed like they were staring straight at me. Then with one more bone shattering smash against the locker, they closed and I was finally released from my own private hell.
Okay, so that's one of the most violent scenes in the book, but (in the way of horror) it's far less scary than some others. It's difficult in such a small section of the book, but did it achieve any physiological reaction from you?