As promotion for my upcoming book, I thought I would release the first few pages to you all. I hope you enjoy!
Side note: I am setting up as many places to purchase the book as possible. So far, I have Amazon and Kobo set up to start distribution on the 5th. Do you know of somewhere else I can release it?
A new town. A new place to create a name.
If only Joel looked around upon earlier visits, he may have noticed just how dilapidated everything is. Run-down stores with broken windows and doors, the road was cracked and tarnished, and there was a distinct lack of population. The trees looked tired: their leaves were scarce and branches broken. Even the clouds looked as if they hated existing and the sun was keeping its face hidden.
Joel was a standard mid-twenties North American. He has no illusions for how difficult life is going to be financially. The financial markets were already ruined by the generations of the past. To get into the job market as a graphic designer took years of school. He would be angry about everything, but he knows there is no point in complaining about it.
“That is just the way things are.” is his mantra.
“The things I do for a new opportunity…” he muttered to himself. He had just accepted a transfer to a location near by for work. Rent here was substantially cheaper. The only downside was that he had to move because of proximity. His prior job was a quick ten-minute drive from his apartment, where this new place was still going to be thirty-minutes if he moved to a few towns over.
Why had he not seen people? It was a Saturday afternoon, yet the roads were bare. Yes, the stores in the area were derelict, but there was no one even mowing lawns or driving to near by towns. It all seemed surreal and left a horrible taste in Joel’s mouth. He found himself dwelling on his purpose here once again while he turned the corner off the main drag.
His piece-of-shit car moaned as he sped up to hurry to his destination. He was close, and he was almost excited. He got a place already furnished, and he was very excited to lie on the couch for an hour while he got to contemplate how the next week will go. He was too far from home to have visitors.
Finally, he arrived at his new house. There was no drive way, so he parked on the side of the desolate street and oozed out of the car, closing the door behind him gently as to not knock the bumper off.
The house was a shit-hole: it reminded him of something from a cliche horror movie.
At least it matched his car.
The front had a screen door that was barely on its hinges. There was little grass on the front lawn, and the bits that were there needed to be mowed. The windows looked tired: he could see through the frame almost better than the glass.
“How fucking bleak.” Joel said to himself out loud. No one was around to hear him. He chuckled in spite of himself.
“New trait: talking to myself!”
He walked towards the property. There was a tiny walkway that, at one time, had been beautiful. Now it was just a collection of light-grey cement stones. The path went near a tree that had clearly been in that place for over a century. The leaves were looking nearly dead, and several branches barely hung on. At least it still had bark.
The door was preceded by a porch that had five stairs leading from the ground to it. Far from grand: the wood had started to decay and Joel was instantly concerned that there was mold. Somehow the house was looking worse and worse every second.
Joel stepped onto the porch and was pleased that he did not sink to the dirt ground. The wood was sound. He pulled out his keys and slid them into the lock for the screen door. The lock squealed when he turned the tumbler. The door swung towards him and slammed hard into the opposing wall with a loud bang. Joel spun around, concerned that he disturbed someone. Kind of hoping he would see someone if, for no other reason, to ask about local news, weather, anything. Unfortunately, no one was there. He was alone. Deflated, he collected himself and proceeded to unlock the interior door.
Or, he would have unlocked the door, if it had a lock. He turned the knob and the door slowly creaked open.
“Nice and safe.” Joel said with a heavy sigh. “Why have a lock on the flimsy outer door and nothing on the strong inner door?”
Confused, he walked into the front hall and was pleasantly surprised. For having such a terrible introduction, the house was beautiful. He was met just inside the door by a simple staircase going up to a second flood and an opening into the sitting room. Through the frame, he could see the okay-condition couch and a CRT television.
He was taken back for a moment: it was 2017! CRT’s have been out of mainstream production for at least 10 years.
“Well: home sweet home, I guess…” Joel mustered the strength to make a snide remark instead of being too disheartened. He did not hate the ascetic, to be clear. He just never pictured himself living in an 80’s horror movie.
At the very least, the air in the building was clear and clean.
Benefit of being out of the city, Joel thought to himself.
He took a quick look around the house. He was quite happy to find that there was a sturdy looking bed upstairs and a stove and fridge in the kitchen. The stove has a very old gas-burning range but the fridge looked to have been replaced in the last ten years. He turned the knobs on the stove-range and it clicked to life.
“At least that works.”
The fridge was in tandem with a freezer on top. Very traditional, but he at least knew that it would work.
Suddenly, the day took hold of Joel. He felt exhausted. The drive was not far but it was far enough.
He changed into his night attire and retired up the old stairs. They were beautiful: dark wood and the staircase was bordered by two light-wood banisters. The bars that connected them is a black steel. The stairs followed his steps with a deep creek. He expected as such.
He could not believe how almost exhausted he was. It was only nine-o’clock. He was used to being out seeing friends and experiencing what the city he lived in has to offer.
Now, there were some positives in the situation. He had moved out on his own, finally. He was away from his friends who, though he loved them, were all bad influences on him. He had a car, and civilization was not too far away. The property was also near main highways and arterial roads so he knew that, if he wanted to, he could go into the bigger city. Yes: he was exactly where he wanted to be. Just out of the way to not be badgered, but close enough to everything that no-one had an excuse not to come around.
He was still bothered by the lack of people walking around. Though the clouds, it was a beautiful day! It seemed like a ghost town where he could have screamed in the streets and never have hear about it again.
“Fuck!” Joel exclaimed. “I forgot my bedding in the car!”
He was too tired to dwell on this, he thought. Joel called it early. He would wake up early tomorrow to move in his belongings in: the green couch on the main floor was perfect for sleeping on tonight.
Note to self: get blinds.
Joel woke to the sun glaring through the window. He was disorientated, still sleepy, and had a headache.
“Good morning, world..” he mustered through gritted teeth.
He slowly got to his feet. His head felt heavy and his limbs were sore. It turns out that sleeping on the couch was not the greatest idea. At least he figured out which way the sun rose in the morning.
He wanted coffee.
He left his coffee beans and grinder in the car last night.
Last night he thought that to be a grand idea.
This morning he thought it was stupid.
“Damnit, Joel! Why do you do this to yourself?”
He stood up slowly and stretched. The house looked beautiful in the morning he thought to himself as he wiped the sleep from his face. Beams of light cascaded through the window in the room he was in and he could see it radiate into the hall beside him.
He put a light-fabric hoodie on, adjusted the jeans he slept in the night before, and pushed open the door. It had stayed shut all night, but it was still more of an image thing than a safety thing: the latch had not even fastened, and it was only held in place by the frame.
He slowly marched down the “path” back towards his car. There was something strange that he noticed: there were no birds calling. Joel knows that he is not literally in the country, but he thought they were far enough from civilization that he would hear them on a morning like this one. Even in the city, he would hear one or two serenading the morning.
He arrived at his car and opens the back right door. His things spill out onto the shoulder of the road. Joel moves as fast as he can for it being first thing in the morning, but fails to save majority of the luggage.
“Fuckin’… I’ll deal with it later.” he mutters in contempt.
Joel is smart.
Joel kept his coffee grinder and beans near the top of the pile for such a situation.
Joel is stupid.
Joel had to take another eternity of routing through the car to find a mug.
A total of twelve minute. Joel cannot hide his smile as he heads back to the house, beans in one hand, cup in the other. He was successful.
He loved his coffee, and he needed it to survive the day.
It was not quite a physical addiction to caffeine, but an emotional dependency was still in the cards.
On his walk back, he finally got to see the house in the sun. There used to be grass in the front yard, but now there were just weeds. The tree that he half noticed last night was a lot worse than he initially thought. The porch was actually in better condition than he thought, but it desperately needed a new coat of paint.
The house was a very traditional-looking two-story house. Pointed roof, huge front window that opened into the front room, and entrance doors that were completely useless. Considering his impressions when he pulled in, it could have been worse.
Just then, a loud noise startled Joel from his thoughts.
THAT IS ALL YOU GUYS GET FROM ME!!!
Seriously, though: if you know of somewhere else I can distribute it, let me know. Unfortunately, I am (again) doing it all myself.