I got my two thousand words by ten, but only barely both ways — barely 2000, barely by ten. Still, I like what I got, enough that I figured I’d pitch a bit of raw text at you just for fun. Big huge hairy disclaimer — this is straight from the brain to the fingertips. I haven’t edited it, I haven’t spellchecked it, I haven’t even reread it. I just block-copied it from the word-processor to here, and that’s all I’ll do with it until I do a re-read and edit tomorrow as a way of warming up for the next bit.
from Gods Old and Dark, by Holly Lisle. Copyright 2002, all rights reserved. No copying, etc. You know the drill.
One instant Lauren was sleeping soundly with Jakeï¿½s back curled against her belly, and the next, she was standing barefoot on the wood floor, a knife in her hand, with the absolute certainty that something moved toward her that had no business being there.
Night Watch, a sort of second voice in her head whispered. Just about to come through your door.
How did she know this? How had she woken up? Beneath a layer of alertness and ferocity, she was still a fuzzy-headed, bleary-eyed woman who had only had — she glanced at her clock — forty-five minutes of sleep.
She almost swore out loud, but self-preservation and the warrior-skin that she seemed to have slipped into moved her toward the door instead. As if on cue, something slipped into her bedroom — something carrying a wickedly curved knife, moving soundlessly. Something big, that had about it a reptilian stink that shot clear through the base of Laurenï¿½s brain.
It wanted to kill her. And Jake.
The reflexes might have been augmented by the knife, but the rage was all hers. Lauren struck, driving into the thingï¿½s throat, feeling the knife slam into bone as a jolt through her hand and her arm and her shoulder, into her spine, all the way down to her tailbone. She yanked the knife free, feeling hot blood spurt against her hands, and with the blade, blocked her hunterï¿½s parry. Her knife sliced through the tendons at his wrist, and he dropped the knife. He made a weird, gurgling sound, soft and terrifying.
Belly, she thought, and drove the knife in low, gripping the handle with both hands, digging up through softer flesh.
Heavy liquid heat spilled across her hands, and an unbearable stink filled the room. Lauren leapt back, feeling her skin burning, and the thing that had come after her fell forward, swiping at her with talons that caught her left arm at the shoulder and dragged through her skin. The pain was blinding, and in the back of her head, the phrase poisoned claws echoed.
She didnï¿½t know if the thing was dead, but she knew she didnï¿½t have time to wait to find out. She grabbed Jake from the bed, dragged him, protesting the disturbance and the stink, into the bathroom down the hall. She did not turn on the light — just sat Jake on the toilet and jumped into the shower with her clothes on, with the knife still in her hand, not even closing the shower curtain. She turned the water on full blast and the cold as it first came out of the shower head jolted all the way to her back teeth.
“– shit, shit, shit, shit –”
Lauren realized suddenly that the monotonously swearing voice was her own. The pain in her left arm got less horrible. Water pounded the wound clean, and sluiced blood and guts and digestive juices and excrement and she-did-not-want-to-know what else from her clothes, her face, her hair.
“Mama, I want to go back to sleep.”
“In a minute, Jake.”
“You are taking a shower with your clothes on.”
“I know, Jake.”
“I have to go to the potty.”
“Okay. Your potty chair is right there. You can pull down your pants by yourself. But hurry, okay?”
“Iï¿½ll hurry,” he said.
Most of the time she was grateful that he was finally potty-trained. She didnï¿½t have to deal with diapers anymore, which was pleasant. But diapers did have that one advantage — that when things were going bad in a big hurry, you never had to come to a dead stop because your kid was peeing. You could do what you had to do, he could do what he had to do, and at a time convenient for both of you, you could clean everything up.
The pain was gone from her left arm, the stink from her body. She needed to go deal with the corpse on her bedroom floor, she though, and tried to turn off the water with her left hand because the right one was still locked around the knife. And that was when she realized that her left arm didnï¿½t work anymore. At all. That the left side of her body was going numb. That when Jake said, “Iï¿½m all done. I hurried,” and she tried to answer, the words came out thick and blurred because only half of her tongue was responding to her brain.
Lauren grabbed Jake with her good arm, with the knife still locked in her hand; she pointed the blade outward — away from him — but she hoped to hell Heyr knew what he was talking about when he said the knife would not hurt her or anyone she protected. She didnï¿½t let herself worrying that Jakeï¿½s pajamas and his Spiderman underpants were still around his ankles, though he yelled, and started tugging them up in midair. She didnï¿½t let herself think. She ran toward the stairs, thankful that her legs still worked. Then the left one starting to go numb halfway down, and the first thought into her head was, My heart is on the left side of my body, too.
The poison was spreading fast. If it got into her bloodstream, hit her respiratory center or the nerve center that kept her heart beating, she was done for.
Her gate would be ready — she should be able to open it into Oria and her parentsï¿½ old place with a thought. She should. But, stumbling down the last few stairs, making the turn toward the back of the foyer, limping — and then hopping when her left leg gave up — toward the mirror, she realized that she could very easily not make it.
She lost her balance and couldnï¿½t catch herself. She fell, Jake underneath her, only feet from the mirror. Jake shrieked, then ran to the huge old mirror and rested his fingertips on the glass. In an instant he had the gate open, with the cabin in Oria waiting on the other side.
He grabbed her and tried to pull her toward the gate, but three-year-old strength and fear couldnï¿½t overcome the disparity in their sizes. If she could push, though ….
She did, moving her good arm, her good leg, flopping into the gate.
Jake clung to her, dragging, a ferocious expression on his face. The green fire enveloped her and swallowed him — and for the time that she hung in the middle of nowhere and everywhere, suspended in the infinite, peace flowed through her, and with it, the awareness of the touch of her soul, and the comforting sense of her nearness to the infinite. She had no body, no pain, no boundaries. She was, for that time, infinite and immortal.
Then she fell through the other side of the gate into the first pale light of dawn, into heat and humidity and the sound of rain hitting the roof, and she thought, I have to heal myself.
And darkness devoured her whole.
Anyway, there’s a good bit more, but that seems a decent place to leave things.