Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Teaser Tuesday -- THE TRASHLINGS

This is from my new manuscript, THE TRASHLINGS, already in the hands of a few editors. It's a middle-grade fantasy. Our hero, Reese Knightling, is investigating the junkyard, where he had an eerie encounter with the pig creature, just the night before...

xoxo -- Hilary

It was going on two o'clock. Since most of their things were in a Chicago storage unit, Reese didn't have much unpacking to do. His dad sat in the family room, doing the bills on his laptop, while Darby busied herself in her room, arranging her massive collection of stuffed animals and plastic horses.

Reese grabbed his coat and quietly headed outside. The incessant fog webbed through the yard, its spidery plumes ferreting their way into every piece of wreckage, knitting them strangely together. Its vapors blanching the whole lot the color of bone. An ideal setting, thought Reese, surveying the metal cemetery of vehicles--perfect for Halloween, barely two weeks away.

A few yards to the right of the house, stood a rickety staircase leading down to the junkyard. He walked down the stairs and stood on the ground. He felt odd standing in the junkyard after what happened, but not scared anymore, at least not in the light of day.

He walked over to the old car where the pig thing had been last night. He stuck his head in through the missing door. The car looked as if it had been gutted. The dashboard demolished, smashed to a fine powder. The front seats flattened, presumably by the weight of whatever had bounced all over the inside. The upholstery was now missing, as if the seats had been skinned alive. The same rancid goo that the creature left on Reese's hand coated the bulk of the car's interior. He recoiled as the gummy balm's aroma hit his nostrils.

The scent reminded Reese of his dad's Chinese cooking fiasco, wherein he managed to ignite an entire frying pan of oil, nearly burning down their Chicago brownstone. The house stank for weeks. "At least he sticks with pancakes now," said Reese. He pulled his head back outside and took a deep breath, escaping the heady odor.

He turned in a circle, surveying the entirety of the expansive yard. His father was right. There was a lot to explore. There were cars, appliances and random junk dating back to the fifties or earlier for all he knew, a story behind every item. He maneuvered through the mountains of scrap. The lower the scrap, the older it was, eras on top of eras.

His eyes caught sight of an odd van. Not odd for any other reason, other than oddly out of place. Like the rest of the vehicles in the yard, it donned extensive damage, its innards torn out, dents galore, and all four tires missing. It had all the earmarks necessary for labeling it scrap, but with one distinction. It looked brand new. The blue paintjob shined in perfect condition, no rust or corrosion to speak of. Clearly modern, it couldn't have been more than a year or two old.

Reese examined the driver's side. A yellow logo covered the door, along with a company name, Langley Geophysical Services. Reese opened the door, revealing a barren shell. At first Reese thought maybe car thieves had stolen it and stripped it for parts. That happened in the city, so why not here? Upon closer inspection, he quickly changed his mind. Deep gashes trailed down the van's naked floor, some cut clean through, revealing the ground below. Reese couldn't figure out what type of equipment could slice metal like that. The jagged gouges looked more like claw marks than something manmade.

Reese reached for a piece of paper stuck under the driver's seat. It appeared to be some kind of Langley work order, dated only a few months back, in August. It gave the junkyard's address and listed its purpose as GPR services. Reese's brow creased, none of this made sense. Why would this van, purposely sent to the junkyard, suddenly end up as its scrap? What had gone on here?

The wind hissed, whipping madly through smashed car windows and hubcaps. Reese climbed into the van for warmth. He sat in the driver's seat, the only seat left. He spied something colorful sticking out from under the brake pedal. It was a clump of hair, thick and wiry like steel wool, a purplish color. It looked phony, like the kind on his sister's stuffed animals. Strange gold flecks stippled each individual hair. The tuft had a metallic smell intermingled with some kind of animal stench, like a rusty tin can jumbled with the ape house at the Chicago zoo. "Gross," said Reese. He shoved the Langley work order and the clump of hair into his pocket. In spite of its offensive smell, the purple tuft demanded a second look. He would check it out later. Right now, he had one more stop to make.


  1. oooooh!!!!
    What an amazing imagination you have! Purple tuft of fakey fur with gold flecks...what the hecky-peck is it?!?!?!?!

    I love your description of the fog, you make it seem like it has form and life, rather than just water vapor.

    Great stuff, as always, missus!

  2. Anonymous8/18/2009

    Oooooh, creepy car cemetery action! Junk yards are kinda scary anyway, but this one sounds terrifying.

    (Might need an adjective-ectomy in a couple spots, though. Your sensory details are better than adjectives.)

  3. I agree. I've been purging a few extra adjectives from the MS. I'm usually good about that, but creepy modifiers, get me going, what can I say? Anyway, removed a few from the excerpt just now. Man, I knew someone would zing me for that! Thanks B!

    xoxo -- Hilary

  4. Anonymous8/18/2009

    Definitely creepy. I kept expecting something to jump out at Reese!

    K. Taylor

  5. Anonymous8/18/2009

    Junkyard exploring - cool and creepy! You're setting up a nice mystery here and I love the descriptions. What's going to jump out at Reese?!

  6. Junkyard creepy is right! You're just bracing yourself for something to happen. Cool scene, even if in need of an adjective-ectomy. LOL. Regardless, I love your descriptions, Hil.

  7. Tanya Peeler8/18/2009

    Love this! Is something going to grab Reese? I have to know! Liked this from the first paragraph.

    Tanya Peeler

  8. The second paragraph of this teaser is like the perfect balance of description and voice. Your choice of tangile, exciting verbs and nouns does wonders - it jumps right off the page. Awesome.

  9. What awesome comments, you guys! Thanks for reading!

    xoxo -- Hilary

  10. Ooo love this, Hilary. Such fabulous descriptions. What the heck is the "pig thing" he saw? The same thing with the purple fur? Something else?! I wanna know! : )

    Good luck with those editors!!!

  11. Hey Casey,

    If you go on my site, there is a posting from the very beginning of The Trashlings, which talks more about our snorting blue friend. http://www.nightshadecity.com/TheTrashlings.html The purple fur is another story entirely! I've gotta keep something to myself, right?

    So glad you read!!

    xoxo -- Hilary

  12. The mom in me says "Who lets their kid go play in the scrap yard??"

    But I'm dying to know what he saw. I mean, a pig thing? Purple fur? Gimme!

  13. Yep, awesome imagery as usual! The hunk of fur--ugh! But nicely counter-balanced by the humor of the dad's Chinese cooking disaster line, lol. Really vivid scene!


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