November 5, 2009

Queens of the Cattails - Chapter 1

NaNoWriMo Novel 2009
Queens of the Cattails

Chapter 1

When I woke, I thought a monster had swallowed me, and I was trapped in his throat. It was so dark and hot and black. And the smell that filled my lungs was hot and sickening, the way meat sometimes smelled when Granddaddy boiled it in a big iron pot in Mama's kitchen.

Terror was a tiny spark in my gut. The back of my head hurt so bad, I really didn't care much where I was. I wanted Mama to put a chunk of ice in a rag and hold me in her lap while she nursed the pain away.

My mouth opened to call her, but the fear flashed inside, and I remembered I wasn't in a monster's throat. The monster was gone, somewhere else in the house. He'd put me in an attic and locked the door behind him.

In the dark, I patted my hand on the floor around me, reaching out for something, though I didn't know what. The palm of my hand caught on the head of a nail sticking up out of the wood. Dust curled into balls under my fingertips. Little living things scurried around me, and I knotted my hand into a fist, afraid whatever they were might take the skin off my bones if they managed to get their teeth into me.

I shifted my weight just a bit, and my left foot brushed something soft. It was a rotting blanket.

Just then, a cat meowed from behind the door. His small, pitiful wail barely masked the sound of a man's singing. The song was a hymn I knew well, one Mama sang in the church choir at least once a month. But the man's voice was flat, the notes sour like the stink of the attic. Suddenly, I remembered where the spark came from and why I was scared.

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