Your cart is currently empty!
A Sneak Peek at My Current Project…🤫
Hello persons of quality!
When I was writing Switchers, nobody cared. Why would they? I’d put nothing out into the world previously in that capacity, so no one was paying attention. Makes sense to me. So what are we talking about here?
Oh!–thanks to the warm reception Switchers received, I’ve been asked, “When’s your next book gonna come out?” in several forms over the last year.
Early to mid-2024 is the best answer I got right now.
Writing with an expectant audience is a new feeling, but I think I’m onto something at the moment. And since this won’t come out for awhile still, I thought I’d at least give anyone who was curious a look at what’s going on over here.
My Work-in-Progress (WIP): Some Context
Alright, so I’m working on a book right now about an EMT who dropped out of college and has supernatural abilities. But she can only access these abilities (at first) when she’s unconscious.This book has–for lack of a better term at the moment–a grim reaper, the spirit of a dead grandmother (whose demise opens the novel), and a suspended police officer who are assisting the main character (Natalie, the EMT) in the land of the living and the dead in a stand-off against a twisted rural cult leader.
Death, religion, family, social issues, and a tiny bit of medical sci-fi. Good times, eh?
I’ll let you know the title for sure when I’ve got everything a little more done and polished.
For now, here’s the epigraph–which fittingly is (allegedly) Emily Dickinson’s last words–and the first two chapters. Keep in mind this could change. A lot. But here it is after one or two look overs. See ya on the other side, Ray.
My WIP: Epigraph and Chapters 1 & 2
“I must go in, the fog is rising.”-last words of Emily Dickinson
Jolene had opened all the windows to let the house breathe in the fresh air. The wind coming through the window blew stray hairs across Jolene’s face, making white and gray stray hairs dance across her creased forehead. Late spring sunshine bounced off Jolene’s wrinkled face and shoulders, filling her old farmhouse on the edge of town. She looked out the kitchen window while she ran cold water over her aching, arthritic hands under the sink. She turned off the sink, shook her hands, then used the residual water to tame the stray hairs.
Dang it all, Jo. Don’t forget the bread…
She grabbed the hand towel and dried her hands. You’ve been making bread for over 60 years, and you still can’t remember when to take it out. She replaced the towel and grabbed the oven mitts from the counter. She cut the heat and opened the oven door in one motion, then removed the bread. She set the bread down on the stove, then, as she put the oven mitts back, she saw it.
A thick fog. Rolling towards her house.
But it wasn’t a fog. Fog covers large areas. This looked more like a puffy cloud had fallen from the sky, landed in her yard atop the grass, and continued drifting in the breeze, across the open field, once upon a time used as farmland, straight towards Jolene’s house. It reminded Jolene of the clouds she stared at as a kid. She would stare and hunt for hidden objects. But, Jolene thought, what the heck is a cloud doing at ground level?
Jolene leaned toward the window, hands on the edge of the sink, transfixed by the phenomenon before her. She saw someone—inside the cloud, standing near its edge. It was impossible to make out the features clearly with the cloud around it. From her vantage point, all she could see was a pale, thin figure with no discernible features, wearing something like a monk’s robe. Jolene squinted through the fog but couldn’t get more detail. Focused and unmoving, the figure was looking in her direction. Almost as if it were driving it, the figure moved with the cloud as it settled in Jolene’s backyard about fifty feet from the house. The cloud kept shifting and moving over itself. Slowly.
Jolene could only look at the pale, robed figure for a moment. Its featureless face chilled her heart, which her hands went to cover. A creeping panic set in but she couldn’t look away from the cloud. Without her glasses Jolene squinted at it, but found the longer she stared, the clearer her vision became. Suddenly she wasn’t squinting at all, and the pain in her joints was like a phantom limb, the sensations and feelings should be there, they just…aren’t.
The robed figure moved. It turned, looking at something behind it. Then it turned back to Jolene, as the center of the cloud cleared for her to see inside. As she looked inside tears fell from her eyes. She covered her mouth. After a moment, she took her hand off her smiling mouth and wiped at the tears streaming down her cheeks. Her eyes returned to the pale, robed figure.
“Is this real?” she barely managed to say.
It bowed deeply and slowly. As it stood back straight, it extended its hand in a gesture of what Jolene took as an invitation.
Jolene bit her lip and looked down at her feet, trying to think. Her thoughts were going faster than she could keep up with. She took in a deep breath and looked out the window again. She looked past the figure—hand still gently extended—and into the center of the cloud again. Then she smiled. Exhaled. And closed her eyes.
Jolene’s granddaughter, Natalie, comes by for Saturday coffee and cinnamon rolls. (And to pick up a few fresh loaves of bread. (And sometimes to eat whatever leftovers grandma had, if it was a busy shift.)) This was a tradition dating back to when Natalie was little, and her mother brought her over. It was a regular thing they did almost every weekend without fail ever since her parents split up. But since she quit college and started working overnight as a paramedic, Natalie started coming on her own. Sometimes her mother met them, often she came later in the morning. Lately she didn’t come at all about two out of three times.
Natalie was looking forward to seeing her grandmother. It felt like she couldn’t escape death the last few shifts. Wherever she was, there, too, was death. Besides emotionally, she was physically exhausted. She barely had time to pee once and was mostly on her feet hunched over someone. She grabbed some a cup of dayshift coffee for the road, worried about doing touch-and-go’s behind the wheel if she went uncaffeinated. It was a short drive on mostly open roads with the sun coming up over her shoulder. Natalie pulled into the narrow driveway at Jolene’s and set her car in park in front of the side kitchen door.
Natalie was singing along with Taylor Swift on the radio as the car slid up to the detached one-stall garage. She parked her car and slammed the last half a cup or so of coffee, waiting until the chorus was over before she went in. But halfway into the second chorus she noticed something.
Geez, grandma—you’re gonna burn the whole fuckin house down! She killed the engine, pulled the keys, and tossed them on her dashboard. As she stepped out of the car, she yelled towards one of the open windows, “Hey Grandma! Everything OK in there?”
As she jogged to the side door of the house, the smoke dissipated until, whammo, it vanished like a ghost. Natalie wondered if her vision was actually foggy from how tired she was, or if she was seeing things…
Must’ve been the vent from the dryer.
“Grandma, it’s me,” she said, pushing open the old screen door.
She heard a WHACK, WHACK, WHACK as the door bounced back into place. Natalie only made it a few steps into the house before the sight of Jolene laying face-down and motionless on the floor stopped her.
If You Have Feedback…
If you have any feedback (and I’m not only looking for the kiss-ass-y kind), please let me know. Typos? Feels a little slow? Too fast? Confusing wording? Looks good? On the right track? Absolute garbage? Let me know! Comment here, let me know on social media (@tallonwrites on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter), or send me a note via carrier pigeon. If you do the latter, I’ll be seriously impressed and will sell you my finest sheep. (Subject to sheep availability.)
Thanks. You really are pretty cool, ya know that?
Christopher Tallon is the author of the dark, adventurous, time-travel novel Switchers.
Row row row your boat / Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily merrily merrily / Life…is but a dream