Since my very first story every, “Gho,” sold this week, the winner of 2nd place in Bards and Sages charity writing contest, I thought it appropriate to use it as my excerpt. But seeing as Gho has had two lives, fist as a novel and now as a novella, I thought I would provide two excerpts of the opening paragraphs from each gho-round, pun intended (Hildi likes puns).
Gho the Novel, 2009
The premise has stayed the same through the years–teenage Hildi Schreiber dies due to supernatural causes, returns as a ghost, catches supernatural bad guys with help from supernatural friends. In the first version, said frenimies were really over the top, a vampire, two werewolves, a dragon, a vampire, a sangoma, a lion-warrior, a kitsune, a goblin and a whole lot more.
This is the opening as I submitted it the first time to an agent. Yes it’s a tad cringe-worthy, the prose is a bit purple, and I don’t have the heart to include the miserable prologue.
By C.R. Hodges
A flash of crimson in the darkness, cauterizing the air like lightning. The sounds of a head hitting the hardwood floor, twice, counting the bounce. The creeping smell of blood, fresh and decidedly human, indelicately mixed with the aroma of burnt flesh and fresh cut roses. The feel of unseen droplets on the skin, warm and salty, licked by a glacial wind that had inexplicitly slipped through triple pane windows. Screaming, horrible screaming. These are the memories that haunted the dreams of all who were there that night.
A young woman in a blue dress, with glasses askew and windswept hair, was the only one not screaming at that moment, while the lights were still out and chaos yet reigned in the luxurious front room of the prairie castle. It was neither because she had exceptional self-control nor because she was well acquainted with death; in truth, she was quaking with fear. She was only silent because she alone had detected the unmistakable growl, not distant but mere feet away, of a werewolf. Unmistakable, to be clear, only to her, for the young woman was an authority on the paranormal in general and mythical creatures in particular. As others were screaming in fear, she was trying to figure out why a werewolf was in a billionaire’s living room while the moon was still waxing.
The lights flickered back on. A 14-year-old girl was lying decapitated on the floor. A monstrous creature, the werewolf, was circling the fresh corpse, saliva dripping from her jaws, looking for an opening to gnaw dinner from the body. Standing guard was an ordinary man, ten summers past his prime, unarmed yet bravely attempting to ward the girl’s body from the unnatural predator. He was aided by a dog, a twin to a grizzly bear by its girth, which was snarling at the werewolf. More screaming ensued, and then to the surprise of all but the young woman, an Air Force lieutenant leapt onto the back of the werewolf. The lieutenant was half the size of the werewolf, but with the strength of five men, or perhaps the fury of four women, she hurled the werewolf through the twenty-three foot window overlooking Left Hand Canyon.
After that, pandemonium.
“Gho” the Novella, 2014
In the leaner and meaner novella form, the supernatural zoo is much reduced, just Granny Hooper (“Walking with Great Uncle,” “The Confederate Cavalryman’s Saber,” “The Last Ghost of the War“) reprising her role as a kitsune–fox-witch–and General Mac Randall (“Sunset, Moonrise”) as the were-coyote. Oh, and an imp with dreams of archdemon-hood who is recruiting from al-Qaeda.
As it will appear in print in a few months, again sans (a better) prologue:
The note arrived during AP Physics. “Hildi,” the teacher said with a smirk, “your father is here to pick you up. In his limousine.” He stretched out the final syllables, payback no doubt for that fire in the lab last term.
Hildi Schreiber, whose father drove a ten-year-old Saab, took her time in shutting down her laptop. She had been trying to hack JPL’s website, which had proven to be tougher than Colorado State’s. “Hope it’s the stretch. What’s the emergency?”
“Apparently your puppy is sick.” Another smirk.
Laptop under one arm, backpack under the other, jacket in her teeth, Hildi sprinted out the door. She cut hard around the corner like the tailback she wasn’t, careened into the endless row of lockers, and took the steps three at a time up to the main floor.
A text arrived on her smartphone, which she fished out of her jeans with two fingers. Meet me at NextTehc. Puppy gone wild. N
Hildi ran faster.
A large man in a dark suit and striped tie stood in the doorway beside a black Hummer limo. “Hiya Daddy-O,” she said, panting, as she tossed her gear inside. “Nice ride.”
“I’m not your father,” the man said as he climbed into the driver’s seat.
“Duh. Either you’re some bigwig with NextTehc Industries or I made one helluva mistake getting into your car.”