So I Got Tagged With This Lucky Seven Thing And So Here Are “Seven” Lines From Waiting on the Dead
Posted by Alan Edwards
Pretty much on exactly the same day that I got picked for my incredibly prestigious award (I’m still waiting for my statuette. I get a statuette, right?), I also got hit with something else. No, not the bus that many people have waited years for, but something that’s actually pretty cool. I’ll let the awesome Candice Bundy explain:
The rules for this one are quite simple:
- Go to page 77 of your current ms.
- Go to line 7.
- Copy down the next 7 lines/sentences, and post them as they’re written. No cheating.
- Tag 7 other victims, …er, authors.
In her post, she asked, as an offal lover, for a bit of Waiting on the Dead. Her request hit me at a pretty difficult time in my writing. In short, I hate it. I’m good with the blog posts, but halfway through the editing of The Storm of Northreach I just hit the wall. It’s not good enough. I’m not good enough to fix it. You know, the typical angsty writer bullshit that every one of us whiny little narcissists go through periodically. Well, fine, that THIS whiny little narcissist goes through from time to time. I’m trying to get through it, there are a couple of things that need to be addressed, and part of it has nothing to do with writing but involves the other production shit and WHINE WHINE WHINE I WANT A PONY.
I hope to be over that soon.
So anyway, to make a short story long and rambling, I got tagged by Candice to produce a bit of my writing at a time when I view it as garbage, so I held off. Why? I didn’t even want to open the file. I didn’t want to see my stupid words on the stupid page looking stupid. So I put it off and off and off. Then I read fellow tagee Jen Kirchner’s post today (because I am behind in my reading) and it reminded me that I’d managed to put it off long enough to feel bad. Plus, the fact that Jen cheated and did more than 7 lines made it OK for me to cheat too. So I’m gonna cheat. I am going to cheat my ass off, so suck it, Rules.
And here it is. “Seven” lines from Waiting on the Dead.
I pulled on my best beat-up jeans, my waterproof steel-toed work boots that I bought despite not having a job that needed them but made me feel like a bad-ass, and one of my Raphaelo’s tee-shirts. That item wasn’t exactly designed to make me feel tough, but I had like fifty of them and ever since Raff came up with them I decided that I didn’t really need to buy many more clothes so they really were the bulk of my wardrobe. I had my battle dress on, picked up my baseball bat, and prepared to venture forth from the cave to find the twenty-first century equivalent of a mammoth, preferably in small handy containers that required that I just add water and didn’t require eggs.
Lin and Gloria didn’t look up at me until I undid the chain on the door. They saw me and noted the work boots and knew that something was up. Lindsay looked at me like I was pissing on the floor and asked, “What are you doing?”
I put on my best American Provider voice. It didn’t get much use and probably sounded like I had a weird sinus infection, but I tried it anyway. “We’re going to run out of food soon. We’ll need more. I’m going to find some.”
“What? Where? Out of food? Huh?” Lindsay was extremely literate and articulate and able to quickly grasp intricate political issues and turn them immediately into rote dry answers that harped mostly on standard liberal platforms. But the basic questions of survival and food preparation were always something that other people worried about on his behalf. I knew Gloria did most of their food shopping, paid their joint bills, helped him buy his clothes, and reminded him of important things to do, so it wasn’t a big surprise that he had no idea that our food was a precious and finite resource that might run out. It’s not that he was dumb. That kind of thing just never occurred to him.
Gloria, on the other hand, looked infinitely more horrified and worried and sick than she did before. I think part of her knew it before I said anything, but everything else that was going on had helped her ignore it. Now, though, it was staring her in the face and it scared the shit out of her. I actually felt bad, both for her and for making her even more scared. Feeling bad about bothering Gloria was a new sensation for me.
“It’s no big deal,” I said with a sudden turn to Hey, It’s Cool Casual Voice. “I’m just going to check the other apartments, you know, see what we can get. No biggie. It’s cool.” Despite my eloquent reassurances and winning grin, neither one of them seemed particularly calmed or placated. “I’ll be back in a bit,” I ended lamely, opening the door and checking the empty hall. “Lock the door behind me,” I added as I stepped out.
Gloria appeared in the crack of the door. “Be careful,” she said suddenly, blurting it like it the words formed before her brain could stop it. She looked surprised that she said it and shut the door.
I’d imagined that when the chips were down, Gloria and I would have locked grips around each other throats and tried to choke the shit out of the other person before we asphyxiated. The idea that I’d be concerned with her mental equilibrium and she might be slightly worried about my well-being was a very weird one. I stood there for a second, the idea that I was out in a possibly zombie-infested apartment building with a flimsy-ass wooden kids’ bat completely driven from my mind by the whole weird dynamic going on with us. I mean, we were acting like we were human. Bizarre.
The sound of the door locking behind me made me drop all that hokey interpersonal relationship shit real quick though. With that little snick I was Out There, exposed without some flimsy builder’s grade door to hold back the rotting carcasses that wanted to bite my lips off. I can admit it. I stood there shaking like a Parkinson’s patient, gripping the little bat to my chest like a blankie, looking wide-eyed at the looming danger behind all of the doors with the chipped red paint and faux-brass numbers.
Since nothing came bursting out to eat me, I eventually got myself under control. We were in the middle of our floor, three doors to either side and six matching ones across the way. The theoretical seventh apartment that would have existed to make our sides a nice symmetrical even number instead housed the stairs and elevator. As I tallied this useless information, I realized that it came up to Thirteen. Oh dearie me. I knew people, actual real live human beings that somehow managed to exist in the world and had jobs and drove cars and everything that would have been freaked out by that knowledge. It’s those kind of people who made building designers pretend like their buildings went magically from floor 12 to floor 14 without having a place for Satan’s Floor of Devil Spawn and Black Cats and Various Other Superstitious Bullshit. Man, people were fucking crazy before their dead relatives started trying to eat them.
That train of thought actually helped calm me down. I walked straight across the hall where the three girls who loved cats lived. They were always very nice and polite and looked shocked and scared at the fact that I would occasionally be carrying beer. They were the kind of college students that somehow managed to get through their collegiate careers without being surrounded by debauchery and lewdness and blackouts.
Anyway, I went to their door and stood in front of it. I didn’t know if they were in there, and the thought of sending three innocent and unblemished girls in paroxysms of terror by having a Man Force His Way into Their Home with Probable Intent of Rape and Murder made me a little uncomfortable. So I knocked. Politely. There I was, in a zombie apocalypse, rapping firmly but not too hard or too briskly like I was going to inquire if they had a nice dish of sugar for my bumbleberry pie. I never saw that in any of the damn movies.
I got no answer, as I expected. I’d thought they’d bugged out early, so I grabbed the knob and prepared to go through what was sure to be a well-stocked larder full of tasty and nutritious treats. It turned but the door didn’t swing open and grant me admittance to Dolly’s Kitten Parlor and Bon-Bon Emporium. The damn thing was locked. Goddamn it.
I knocked on every door on our floor. No answer on any of them. And every fucking last one of them was locked. No one rushed out in a panic and left their door wide open and convenient for a waiter with a goddamn baseball bat to rummage through their left-behind shit. I should’ve known, honestly, since when you live in a not-real-great neighborhood and you don’t have that much shit anyway and you have a fondness for keeping it in your possession, locking the door behind you became as automatic as a morning boner. You didn’t make it happen, your body just did it naturally.
Now, this is where I could tell you about how lucky it was that my Uncle Billy taught me how to pick locks with a paperclip and hotwire any car in the world with either a screwdriver or by finding the two unconnected wires underneath a steering wheel and splicing them together. Sadly, that kind of bullshit doesn’t happen in real life. I felt useless and thwarted. I might have been able to bash down a door with my shitty bat, and I considered briefly trying to deliver one of those kicks to the door to send it crashing in like you see in the movies, but I’d tried that once a few years ago when I was a little drunk and it doesn’t work for shit against any kind of door more formidable than a cheap plywood interior model. Instead I’d wrenched the shit out my leg and limped for four days. So I felt like I was shit out of luck.
I stood in the hallway like an asshole. I had no idea what to do. I had two choices. The first was to go back to the apartment like a tool, completely empty-handed and sheepish. The other was to keep going and try to find something to let me break into a locked door like a crowbar or something. As it happens, I’m one of those people who really hate looking like an idiot. I’d guess that eighty percent of all actions undertaken by males are done with the intent to not look like a fool in front of people, especially somewhat attractive females even if you have no intention or desire to sleep with them. Well, to be perfectly honest, it’s practically impossible to know, see, hear, or vaguely be aware of an attractive female without having a desire to sleep with them, no matter how improbable or unintentional that feeling might be. So, no, I didn’t intend on ever sexing-up Gloria, but that didn’t mean that it was out of the realm of possibility and so therefore it was a moral imperative to avoid looking stupid in front of her.
Yep, that’s how dumb guys are. Edison probably figured out that light bulb shit just because he didn’t want to look like a dumbass in front of his old lady.
Yeah, I cheated like a mofo. And honestly, I read it and liked it. It’s a good feeling. My narcissistic shallow little self is pleased.
Oh, and I’m not tagging anyone else with this, because I am not wired that way. So, hey, you, if you’re reading this, and you’ve written something, and you haven’t already been tagged, you’re tagged now. Got it? Yes, you. Don’t gimme that look.
About Alan EdwardsFormer cancer caregiver. Husband of the most magical and amazing person who ever lived.
Posted on April 12, 2012, in Stories, Zombies and tagged Excerpts, It's About Platform People. Or Is It Brand? I Can Never Remember, So META!, Whining, Writing, Zombies. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.