On November 1st, I began work on Haunt Me as part of NaNoWriMo 2013. Haunt Me was meant to represent a shift away from the gore and sex that marked Live Undead and Nothing Zero. It was supposed to be a straightforward supernatural novel for general readers. In a word, it was supposed to be “mainstream”.
Funny how things work out.
One week later, I realized I had made a mistake. Haunt Me wasn’t ready to be written. The concept was there, but the storyline and characters simply weren’t developed enough to support the breakneck pace that NaNoWriMo requires. So I shifted gears. I decided to move away from Haunt Me and toward another book that had been in the back of my head for nearly two years. The book I had originally envisioned as the follow-up to Live Undead. I started writing Psychopomp on November 10th and completed its first draft on November 30th.
Psychopomp is a grim and gritty superhero story; sort of a 90s style comic but in novel form. Blood is shed, limb are severed and hell is literally unleashed on a city. It’s pretty much the antithesis of what I intended Haunt Me to be. Psychopomp is blood soaked and powered by Satan; but it won’t be released for a while. I have unfinished business to take care of first.
Today I start editing Nothing Zero. Weighing in at 90,000 words, Nothing Zero is morbidly obese. I know I’ll need to cut it down to size. Ideally I’ll be able to chop some 10,000-20,000 words out of its bulk. But it’ll take time. I plan to spend the entire month of December working on the first edit, which means January will be dedicated to finalizing the final draft. Currently Nothing Zero is schedule for release on February 11, 2014.
With Nothing Zero keeping me busy, I won’t be able to give Psychopomp the attention it deserves until January. Hopefully I’ll be able to release it in April or May of 2014. But the edit process for it will be much slower, as I intend to start work on my next novel in January as well. Hopefully I’ll be able to walk and chew bubblegum at the same time, but I’ve never tried it before.
I currently have no idea what my next novel will be. I could write the zombie Bigfoot story that’s been floating around in my head for a while. I could tackle a Gothic horror. I could write a slasher novel. Maybe a biker werewolf tale? I might even revisit Haunt Me. Regardless of what I do next, it won’t be for another month. Right now, I have a vampire rock star that needs my attention. He hits the stage on February 11th and I don’t want him to be late.
“If you die, I will die too.”
Tracing his razor across Kimber’s snow white wrist, Adam knew her promise to be true. Teasing the delicate blue of her vein with the blade, Adam kissed her. When their lips parted, he caught a fleeting glimpse of the deep unending misery behind the icy blue of her eyes. In that moment Kimber had never been more perfect.
“I want you to know, I belong to you.” Adam took her hand, razor blade pinched tightly between her delicate fingers, and led it towards his wrist.
“I know.” Kimber pressed the blade in, gently breaking the skin.
Again their eyes met and Adam couldn’t find any trace of apprehension or regret. Not that he expected to. There hadn’t been an idle moment during the past six months where the seventeen year olds hadn’t discussed the act. Be it laying in Kimber’s bed after making love, doing homework in Adam’s room or even curled up on the couch in his parent’s rec room watching The Evil Dead, they inevitably returned to the idea of taking their own lives.
Adam often told Kimber that there was a short in his brain’s wiring. He simply couldn’t experience pleasure or happiness like a normal person. While other boys would celebrate having Adam’s effortless 4.0 average or savor the attention his brooding good looks brought from the girls, Adam simply couldn’t care less. Depression and indifference grew where pleasure and happiness should have taken root.
While Adam’s emotions could be described with a thousand indifferent shades of gray, Kimber experienced the whole rainbow, often swinging from the brightest shades of delirium to the deepest hues of depression in a matter of minutes.
After meeting during their freshman year, it didn’t take long for each of them to realize they had found a partner to help cope with their damaged psyches. But as they opened up, sharing their favorite music, books and movies, they discovered they had far more in common than just their faltering mental health. Joy Division, Kurt Vonnegut and Lucio Fulci finished forging the bond that misery had started. As the days turned into weeks, the weeks piled into months and then the months amassed into years, things couldn’t have been more perfect. They were two miserable kids destined to become miserable adults together.
Then Adam started hearing the voices.
Clawing forward from the dark recesses of his mind, the voices embodied all the hatred and self-loathing that Adam felt. But regardless the obscenity they hissed, the violent action they urged or ugly truth they whispered, Adam resolutely ignored them. He hoped they would eventually sink back into the black pit from which they came.
But his burgeoning psychosis would not be ignored.
No matter how often he ignore them, the voices kept returning. Screaming, growling and hissing. He couldn’t stand hearing them. Growing tired of their abuse, he told Kimber.
When he confessed his troubles, Kimber’s understood his admission to mean only one thing. It was a diagnosis Adam feared, but could never allow himself to believe. Schizophrenia. The word was ugly but the truth it carried was even uglier. The voices would only progressive become worse without medical help. But medical attention meant medication or even hospitalization. Neither were options Adam could live with. They decided they would fight Adam’s condition together.
Less than three months later, they realized it was a fight they could not win.
The voices had grown so disruptive Adam couldn’t ignore them, even when Kimber was around to help him focus on reality. As they stared down the possibility that Adam would be hospitalized, Kimber suggested they take their own lives.
It was a desperate and stupid suggestion, but as the days passed it was one they kept returning to. The thought of taking their own lives was so simple but yet it was somehow deeply profound. They had lived their lives on their own terms and they would end them the same way. In death, they would be together forever.
“Together forever,” Kimber stated.
Pushing the hair from her face, Adam leaned forward. Wanting to taste the warmth of her lips one final time, he kissed her. Soft, fleeting and perfect; it was their love perfectly summarized in a single act. “If we part, my pulse will guide you through,” Adam said. Despite the conviction behind his words, Adam heard his voice falter and fade. It sounded painfully thin and weak. He just hoped Kimber hadn’t heard the same weakness to his words.
“I love you,” she said.
The unending darkness of her eyes never wavered as Adam cut her wrist.
Her blood drizzled in a long languid crimson trail down her wrist and along her hand. Kimber smiled and tenderly stroked Adam’s face. The wetness she left behind was warm and sticky, like paint that had freshly dried.
Now that it was Kimber’s turn, Adam took a deep breath.
The cut was smooth and perfect, Adam barely felt the razor slash his vein. It wasn’t until he felt the warmth of his own blood pulsing down his arm that Adam realized Kimber had followed through.
Slowly exhaling, Adam mentally counted down. He started at sixty. By the time he reached thirty, his head felt hazy and the world started to spin. Kimber blurred into a ghost like presence. He barely felt her hand gripping his own.
After a minute, Adam realized the ghost was gone.
His whole body growing number by the moment, Adam looked around. He found Kimber on the ground and gently consigned himself to the floor right beside her.
The warmth of their collective blood cutting through the numbness of his body, Adam smiled and pulled Kimber close to him. As her body slumped against his own, Adam found a stunning moment of clarity. He could see the two of them on the ground. Neither of them breathing. Motionless, in a dried pool of crimson, they were young and beautiful. Together forever. Feeling his vision growing ever clearer, Adam noticed a shape in the distance.
Kimber’s mother entered the room.