The opportunity to repeat a past post couldn't have come at a better time. I just got line edits for my novel, and the publisher wants them returned this week, so I don't have time to write a brand new post. (Yes, I'm a slow writer. You probably suspected that, since my posts usually come in barely under the wire.) So what better post to repeat than the first page of said novel?
When Natalie recorded the final reading for the blood she had drawn from her guinea pigs that afternoon and looked up from her meticulous notes, she realized how quiet the lab was. No wonder. The clock over the door read 11:30. Once again she’d lost herself in her research so completely she’d stayed far past the building’s official closing time. She sighed. If she didn’t leave soon, the janitors would be knocking on the door to chase her out. They got a little testy when students interfered with their work.
She quickly gathered all the slides she had prepared and cataloged them for later study in case she found something she wanted to revisit. When she slipped into her denim jacket and walked out of the lab into the dim, silent hall, the hands on the clock were nearly touching twelve.
As Natalie stepped out of the building, the moist south wind clutched at her jeans and the long braid of her hair, making her struggle for balance. Dead leaves skittered around her feet, then escaped into the darkness across the parking lot. She glanced up and shivered. The full moon always made her anxious. When she was a child, her grandmother sometimes sat up with her until she finally drifted off to sleep—often well after midnight.
Natalie's eyes misted over. Grammy had died six months ago, and Natalie felt foolish still getting weepy at every thought of her. But Grammy had been Natalie’s only family, and her sudden death left Natalie feeling very alone.
The feeling of aloneness hovered over Natalie as she walked toward the ‘78 Omni at the far end of the back parking lot. The ten-year-old Plymouth was the only car left. Back here, the full moon's silver light was lost in blacktop, leaving only swarthy ponds created by lights in widely spaced medians.
Then the feeling of aloneness was gone, replaced by an eerie presence of evil behind her and to the right near a clump of trees. Fear tightened her stomach.
Natalie walked faster. She glanced back over her shoulder. You're being silly. It’s just the full moon. But her heart continued to pound, and gooseflesh crawled up her thighs. Absorbed in her fear, she stumbled over a pile of damp leaves. The musty smell nearly made her gag. Light glinted off little patches of moisture on the blacktop. She glanced back again.
Two men had stepped out of the trees and were following her across the parking lot. She gasped and started to run. Get to the car. Just a few seconds. That’s all I need. But now they, too, were running. She could hear their breathing as they drew closer. She reached for the door handle.
The car was locked. Frantically she tried to open it, but the keys slipped from her shaking hand. As the crash of their fall reverberated in her skull, she smelled the men's excitement and knew they were reaching for her. She sobbed.
Then her fear grew cold, and colder, until it became anger and turned to heat that ran through her body like fire, and she realized she had nothing to fear as she turned to meet her attackers.
When the Moon Is Gibbous and Waxing by Angela Parson Myers is scheduled to be electronically published about the middle of next month by Etopia Press.