Monday, December 13, 2010

Pocketwatch Excerpt

I'm a little further behind than I would like to be with this story, but I've been having difficulty getting started with the re-writes.  Too much procrastination, basically.  Anyway, I haven't quite finished it but I thought I would share a short section of the story with you.  It's currently un-edited, so it could probably use some spit & polish

I guess I'll set it up a bit, as if I were on a talk show and setting up a video clip for the host.  So the main character, Larry Adelstein, was sent to clean up the attic as punishment.  For what, I don't honestly know at this point as I'm writing scenes out of order.  Anyway, after some "scary" moments trying to make his way up there in the first place, he discovers the titular pocket watch...

Dad sent me upstairs to clean the attic that night.  I hated going up there; actually, it was probably more accurate to say that I was afraid to go up.  That fear was probably helped along by the fact that I’d only been up there once, when I was about seven years old.  And even then, I went up in the daylight.  I still get a chill thinking about going up there at night.
 We had one of those old attics that had a folding staircase that pulled down from the ceiling.  The stairs were made of very old wood, and creaked even when they were pulled down.  When I looked up toward the attic from the bottom of the stairs, it was pitch black.  I could make out some cobwebs here and there, but nothing beyond the gaping black mouth swallowing all forms of light.
 I placed my hand gently on the railing, careful not to grip too tightly.  It was very smooth, like it had been sanded down recently, but I couldn’t convince myself that I wasn’t going to get a sliver anyway.  I lifted my left foot and tested out the first step; it seemed stable enough, even though I thought that it felt a little soft.
 I took a deep breath, and stepped onto the stairs with my right foot.  I climbed carefully up the stairs toward the maw waiting for me above, wincing at every creak and groan with each step.  I was waiting for the boards to give out from beneath me, causing me to fall and probably break my leg. 
I knew there was a light in the attic; there was a long string attached to a short metal chain that I had to pull in order to switch it on.  I knew it was somewhere in the middle of the room, but I couldn’t find it because I stupidly forgot to bring a flashlight with me.
 I walked slowly toward what I thought was the middle of the room, bumping against boxes along the way.  The floorboards in the attic were no better than the ones on the staircase; they protested with every step I took, and my pulse quickened as I expected my next step to send me through the floor.  When it didn’t, I breathed another sigh of relief.
 There was a small sliver of light filtering in through the window from the street lamp around the corner, but it wasn’t providing enough light to be any help.  Thankfully my eyes were starting to adjust to the dark, and I could at least make out the outlines of the boxes I was tripping over.
 I looked around the attic to see if I could spot the old white string that ran up to the light.  A few feet in front of me, I saw a light cord sway in the chilly breeze that was flowing through the attic.  I grabbed the string and pulled, and shielded my eyes from the suddenly bright light that flooded the room.
 It was no wonder I tripped over what felt like every box ever stored in the attic.  As smart as Dad is, he was pretty dumb about storing his stuff up here.  It looked like he simply brought the boxes up just far enough to get them on the floor, and then pushed them as hard as he could toward the other side of the attic.
 I had a look around to see where I should start.  It seemed that at one point Dad did put some effort into organizing the attic because there were a few metal shelves against the wall where the ceiling was a little higher, and boxes stacked neatly beside them.
 There was a weird smell, too.  It was the musky “old” smell mixed with a thick layer of dust.  The combination wasn’t pleasant, but I was also thankful that there weren’t any dead animals lying around up there.
 I decided that it would be best to just take the scattered boxes and stack them with the others against the wall.  I picked up what looked like one of the heavier boxes and heaved it over to the corner with the others.  As I set it down, something on one of the metal shelving units caught my eye.
 It was an old pocket watch; it looked like it was made of solid gold.  While the years hidden away in the attic dulled it a little, the light from the bulb in the centre of the attic was reflecting brilliantly from it.  I picked it up, and I was surprised at how much heft it had.
 Despite the cold air flowing through the attic, the watch was strangely warm, like someone had just taken it out of his pocket.  On the front of the hunter case was an elaborate engraving of what looked like a snake eating its own tail.  I ran my fingers over the engraving, and marveled at the craftsmanship.  After staring at it for another few seconds, I popped open the hunter case.
 The watch face itself didn’t look as fancy as the case.  It was a simple white face with black roman numerals, perfectly preserved underneath pristine glass.  Other than the dulled gold, the watch looked like it hadn’t been touched by time at all.

I cut out some bits in there that are a little too rough.  But there you go.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting start, Steve - looking forward to seeing more :)