The Chalzan: How many times can you write a beginning?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Because it is the thing I love most about books.
Also the ending.
The middle is filler, so throw it at me with lemons and candy.

So, after struggling for like 3 months to write, I came up with this.
Everything is welcome.
Now read, Reader!

The red front door swung open.

Zachary Jones walked out of his house, trying not to make any noise as he did, and locked the door behind him with the key he found under the doormat—his mother’s favorite place to hide an extra house key. The morning was quiet and cold, colder than usual, which was new, because it had never been that cold during that time of year in Zephyr-Qualm, Georgia.

The morning was also rather foggy, and Zach couldn’t help to notice the dew covering the grass on the frown lawn. At that moment, he was glad he was wearing a hoodie and pants to wander into the forest.

He walked north on the sidewalk. His steps were as quiet as the steps of a mouse, so he was sure his siblings wouldn’t realize he had gone out. They wouldn’t miss him anyway; with the recent loss of their parents, Zach was sure his siblings had enough on their mind like to worry about him going missing for only a couple of hours.

Zephyr-Qualm was a strange town, in my opinion. It had only about one thousand inhabitants, and most of them had enough wealth to retire at any given moment. However, they were not very social, and walls or tall fences surrounded all their houses. Zach’s house was one of the few ones not sitting behind a brick wall or a tall wooden fence. His house was simple, with a nice lawn and a few trees spotted here and there. Some people thought the house had no protection, because his parents could never afford to get one, but Zach knew his parents never liked the idea of isolating their home from the small town they lived in.

Courtiss Road cut the town in half—it ran east to west. Thirty minutes to the west was the closest city, and an hour to the east was the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, since it was the main road, most businesses were located alongside this road.

A branch slapped Zach hard across the face as he entered the forest and he winced, cursed under his breath. It was colder here, and the inky shadows of pines and other trees replaced the tiny specs of morning light.

He was trying to reach a lake that lay about a mile away. It was not a long walk, and it wouldn’t feel like a long walk if he could make it there before he’d forget the dream he was having less than twenty minutes ago. Yesterday he had visit the lake, and while remembering how his parents died, he fainted. Upon waking up, his hands were on fire. No real flames, but his hands burned, scorched like hot coal. He submerged them in the water of the lake and his pain ceased. He tried to remember how his parents died again, but he felt it again: the burning and the pain, the skin fall off his hands. He had no idea how or why this was happening to him, but he wanted to find out.

His hands burning were not the only strange thing that had happen after his parents’ death. Perhaps the strangest thing was that no one who was at Donny’s House Restaurant the day they died had the same memory he did. Everyone remembered a different version of the event. A few people claimed to remember nothing at all. His siblings were all there, and they had no recollection of anything that happened. Zach was the only one who remembered seeing his parents die and take their last breath before he saw nothing but brightness.

Maybe now, he thought, he could remember more; maybe his memories would tell him who killed his parents. Being attacked by his own body for trying to look into his past hadn’t been fun, but now that he had found a way to deal with the burning pain, he was going to look deeper into his mind, and stare harder at the face of agony.

Pine needles covered the ground, and if it hadn’t been for the light layer of water covering them, they would’ve probably made crunching sounds as Zach stepped on them. He stared ahead and saw nothing but a clear shot at the lake in the distance. He smiled and ran. The cool air in his lungs made his shiver under his sweater, so he ran faster.

His heart was beating fast, and it beat faster when his eyes lied to him and made him think that the trees moved for a moment. The shadows around him did move, though, and without him noticing them, he feared them, unable to explain why. He felt as if something or someone was following him, but knew there was no one around, not even crawlers; otherwise, he’d have already seen them, hear them.

“Zach,” he heard someone say from out of the gray—maybe from behind a tree.

He slowed down, breathing fast, and then stopped. There was utter silence, and then he heard the songs of the morning birds.

He yelled, out of fright, and just to make sure he was alone, “What?” He anxiously looked around, ignoring his common sense.

No reply.

He felt a ball stuck at his throat, and his bright blue eyes began to drown in warm tears. He ran again. Knowing he was completely alone made him feel empty, and the tears streamed out of his eyes uncontrollably. He knew running wouldn’t help, because eventually he’d have to return home, but wouldn’t find what was gone: his parents.

The lake didn’t seem far; he could make it—

“Zach,” the forest whispered. “Zachary Jones, Jones…Jones.”

He ignored it.

The palms of his hands tingled. He kept running, stepping lightly on the forest floor, just in case something would try to grab him by the feet. He looked down but then his hands began to hurt, as if a thousand bees were going at them with their poisoned stings, and they ached, and they had a heartbeat of their own.

He kept running, ignoring everything his body felt.

His eyes, however, fought against him as well, and they twitched and turned opaque. That’s when the trees began to rumble. The noises took control of his eyes—he looked side-to-side, only able to see slightly; his sight was nearly gone, but he was not afraid. Now he was certain something or someone was after him.

“Run,” a tree in front of him commanded with a subtle voice.

The lake was where he needed to get, to aid his pain, to be next to something that could save him from his own self. He was tired, his legs felt heavy, and his muscles had turn hard as rocks.

He ignored the noises that whispered, the voices that whimpered as if they were ill—

“ZACH!” the trees shouted at him.

He panicked and a branch collided with his shoulder—it sent him plummeting toward the ground. He landed back first and saw a few flashes of light travel across his eyes. There was no air in his lungs. Breathing was impossible. His lungs wouldn’t stretch, no matter how hard he tried. He gasped, gulped air like a fish out of water.

The clear sky above made him forget why he was running.

He felt safe laying on the cold, stable ground—alone, on top of the earth.

He tried to calm down by staring at the treetops that seemed to brush against the blue sky and hurt it, making it bleed orange.

A sigh escaped his lips. He was unable to stand up. Earth had glued him onto her, and wouldn’t let him go. The dim light around him waned against his darkness. He was thinking about many things, trying to lock out the memory that taunted him.

A harsh obscurity settled on his eyes, and his eyelids fell shut. The trees continued whispering, mourning. Zach was still conscious when a shrilling sound throbbed in his eardrums, and he couldn’t help but to remember.


  1. I really like the paragraph that starts "Zephyr-Qualm was a strange town, in my opinion". This would be a great opening. However, there is a change in POV. This sentence is in first person. The rest of it is in 3rd person.

    I feel your pain. Beginnings are so crucial. You have to grab the reader in the first few lines or they'll move on.

    1. Yes. This is chapter one, there is a prologue. The person narrating the story is in the story, but it is also telling the story in the moment, in past tense, 3rd person POV. Confusing?
      And yes! I Will move on now, though. And I will come back when the whole thing is rewritten again!


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