Here is another excerpt from my work in progress, EDWIN COPPERPOT, which is going on about 20k right now and climbing fast! I'm really having fun with this one, although I'm at quite a tricky part right now. If you're not familiar with what this MS is about, just think black comedy, a little romance and creepy, slightly ghoulish fun! Oh, and all the players have kicked the bucket! Did I mention creepy? The first excerpt is 2 posts below, and this follows directly thereafter! As this is a first draft, please forgive any and all typos. All comments welcome as always! xoxo -- Hilary
Edwin trounced down the manor steps, slamming its gates behind him, glad to be out into the night. It was always night. Fitting, he thought, rounding the corner. He lived by night, now he died by it. Alive, he'd found the daylight rather annoying. It may have been his nagging headache from the prior night's merriment, but even as a youngster he favored the witching hour or thereabouts. He thought more clearly, felt more inspired--his mind and body more alive. As he grew older, so did his affinity for the covering of night, comforting, cloaking arms of darkness that seemed to always take him somewhere brilliant, more brilliant than the most brilliant of suns could ever produce.
Edwin glanced at his pocket watch. It read midnight, as usual. When in a hurry, he'd forget from time to time, that there was no hourly time in his world, the underworld, the afterlife, the booming necropolis, whatever you wished to call it, it all meant the same--you were dead.
In any case, the time didn't matter. When the moon had reached its highest point, Maura could always be found sitting in the same café, at the same table, reading the same book, wearing the same crimson chapeau. She was happily predictable. Predictability, something he would have most certainly recoiled from in his living years, now it meant everything to him. This world had the predictability of a drunken sailor. At any given moment, a new strangeness entered his realm. One could not slink by on normality. It simply didn't exist here. Death, same as in life, was never straightforward.
He crossed the street to the café, barreling through--literally--an elderly couple, who'd spotted a spirit child floating near a lamppost. They tried to call the toddler over, but to no avail. He stuck out his tongue and kept on drifting, not interested in new dead grandparents. His living ones comprised of a reprehensible crew.
"Ah, there she is," said Edwin. He beamed. Maura was the only inhabitant of his world that could make him beam. Despite her shortage of frippery, her pursed lip grin, which highlighted her already high cheekbones, made him melt. Even in death, most women required their daily dose of puffery, at least the ones Edwin lazed with. He didn't need to flatter her and never attempted to. She'd see right through that.
Dead at twenty-two, consumption the criminal, Maura was not the pretty sort. Not that she was lacking in the looks department, but more that she didn't care so much to attain them. In life, she'd been a bookworm, now dead; she took on the more literal sense of the term. As she flipped through the pages of her novel, a maggot escaped her ear and dropped onto the table. "Sad little fellow," she said. She flicked it away with her thumb and index finger, sending it hurling into the fireplace. It burst into blue light.
"Good shot!" called Edwin, from the street.
Maura was neither the pretty sort nor the giggling sort, but she giggled all the same. She beckoned him in with a gaunt finger. "Come sit, you fool," she cooed from her seat.
Edwin shot through the wall in an eager flash. She could tell he was in good spirits, not his normal restless soul. He sat at their usual table, placing his hat on the floor by his feet. It couldn't possibly get any worse for wear. Everything in their world was dusty and dank, covered in something or other. After all, this was the afterlife, what did they assume dust consisted of.
Edwin leaned on his elbow, resting his cindery chin in the palm of his hand. He stared with dreamy eyes at Maura. The kind of dreamy eyes the living had upon waking from a deep sleep.
Maura cocked her head, probing his face. "What's got you in such a fanciful state?"
"Why, you, of course."
"You're nothing but a bounder, Edwin Copperpot. Now, tell me."
Not the patient sort, Edwin loved to make Maura wait. It killed her. "Steady now, I'd like to order up some tea, if you can spare a few minutes of eternity for me."
Maura scowled at him, she swiftly raised her arm and snapped. The click of her fingers like cracking twigs. A short hunchback, with droopy features, wobbled over on notably uneven legs.
"Madam?" rasped the Frenchman.
"Yes, Didier, my companion would like a tea, no sugar, extra cream. And please, Didier, the cup, do make sure there are no uninvited guests in it, will you? It's simply a bore fishing them out." Edwin watched Maura as she spoke, so refined, even when ordering tea.
"Madam," said Didier, with a stiff nod of the head. He lumbered off to the kitchen.
Edwin chuckled. "Madam--I believe that's the only word I've ever heard that one utter. Was he cursed at his reckoning with a one word vocabulary? You'd think his looks would be curse enough."
Maura set down her book, not amused. "Out with it. Why are you not your usually dour self? Your face is far too angelic."
"If you must know, which I know you must, I been called to meet with the Warrants."
Even when surprised, Maura rarely looked it. She pushed to the edge of her seat and opened her delicate, slightly mummified, yet still lovely mouth ever so slightly. "The Warrants have called you forward? Edwin, how excited you must be." She set a hand on the sleeve of his coat. "How did this come about?"
Edwin sat up. "I was biding my time at the manor parlor, when the bell rang. The bell never rings. One and all come and go as they please--day and night bursting in and out of the walls. Being far too slothful to open the door myself, I waited for someone to greet the poor soul, but no one did, in fact, no one seemed to hear the ringing but me. Long story short, unless I wanted to hear the blasted ringing all night, which I did not, I had to answer it myself." He smacked the edge of the table. "Lo and behold, the ugly chap was ringing for me."
"Thank goodness your low tolerance for noise outweighs your indolence. You'd never have known you were called upon."
"Ah, yes, my comedic companion, you are correct. That being said, the ringer was a Servant to the Warrants. He informed me of my calling and said he'd be round to fetch me when timing deemed appropriate."
"And when will that be?"
"I have nary a clue. I only know it is happening and for now, that's good enough for me."
Maura sat back in her chair. "Did this Servant give you any indication as to what the Warrants' proceedings entail?"
"So dumbstruck, I forgot to ask. I've never met anyone who's been before the Warrants. Everything I've heard concerning them came through someone who knew someone, who happened to be an acquaintance of someone else, and so on and so forth. No first hands accounts. It's all very mysterious." His air shifted. "Will you come with me when I'm formally called upon?"
Maura's lips coiled impishly. "I'd rather die than miss it."
Edwin grinned. He flicked another maggot off the table that had escaped her hair. "Maura, you are my favorite dead person."
The tea had arrived.