So this year, I decided to work on a book I worked on a couple of years ago. Its a story I’ve had in my head for quite sometime — based on or inspired by true events and historical persons, etc. Though the story itself is my own creation, with fictional protagonists and antagonists. Its a dark tale of intrigue and ethical conflict in the late 19th century, about a young girl that finds herself caught up in the morally dubious world of medical research in turn of the century America. These are the days of Pasteur and Lister, and many other men all looking to get their name on some new patent, pathology, or other medical discovery. Its the wild west of early medicine, where there are no rules and its anyone’s game.
The coolest part of the story is that one of the historical figures is actually a cousin of the famous Edgar Allen Poe, and so the story very much has the feeling of one told by the master of the macabre… that is if I can tell it write. Who knows, but I am trying.
I did hit my word count today, so here’s an excerpt. This scene takes place with the main character, Ella, first makes her way to Poe’s house where she hopes to find employment. Of course the house is in a scary, isolated wood… of course.
I’m just posting an excerpt of what I wrote below. Be kind, its raw and unedited, straight off the presses…
The Revivalist…. by Anastasia Betts
For the second time this night, Ella steeled her resolve and willed her exhausted body into action. Once again she hefted her bag, and squeezed her way, quite awkwardly, through the narrowly open gate which refused to open further. Her person made it through well enough, but her large bag nearly didn’t. Some vigorous tugging, grunting, and twisting finally saw the job done.
Ella sighed heavily. Weary and bedraggled, coated with sweat underneath her layers of clothing, she began to feel a chill of a different sort. Now within the property, she could see marginally better. Trees with sharp angled branches crowded the drive, having already lost their leaves in anticipation of a long winter sleep. It seemed too early to have done so, Ella thought, but perhaps winters in these parts were harsh and came early.
The ground was moist and soft as she walked, sucking slightly at her boots with each step. The going was slow and cumbersome, not to mention very unfortunate for her boots and skirt hem. She only hoped her new employer – prospective employer, she corrected – would be understanding. After all, she never expected to have to walk all this way in the dark, and through the mud!
Her legs were weary, her bag heavier with each step. From time to time she would stop, and transfer the bag to her other hand – too afraid to set it down on the ground lest it too become muddied. Her arms ached with the effort. “I must have walked two miles already carrying this old thing!” She said to the trees who seemed not to care one whit for her trouble. Her pronouncement was met with silence followed by the faint thudding of hooves beating a rapid tattoo in the distance. She whipped around to face the direction she had come. If her ears could be believed, and she wasn’t entirely sure they could since fog was known to play tricks with sounds, it seemed to be getting closer. She stared intently down the drive, but could make nothing out in the fog. Unconsciously, she pulled up her bag with both hands, hugging it to her chest. The sound grew louder and faster the longer she listened.
Someone was coming. Someone was coming fast.
In the blink of an eye, the largest horse and rider Ella had ever scene burst from the fog and was upon her. She had no time to react before the beast had barreled past her knocking her bag from her arms with the force of a train. Whipped around, her bag flying, Ella careened wildly off the main part of the road and into the muddy ditch beside. She lay there for a long moment, wondering if she were dead or worse. But she could feel nothing broken or injured. She supposed it providence that she had been clutching that big bag of hers, as that was likely what saved her. She lay there expecting at any moment to hear a concerned voice asking her if she was alright, but it didn’t come. Somewhere in her addled mind, she registered hoof beats sounding further and further away.
“You just leave me here without an offer of help?” She exclaimed aloud, incredulous. Once again the trees had no answer, though she imagined that they must feel sorry for her predicament. She now wondered if she wanted to work for this employer, if that was in fact her employer riding like the very minions of hell were in pursuit.