Scene From a Novel
prompt: No prompt this time. This is a short scene from one of my unpublished (for now 😉 ) manuscripts. Please see the author’s note at the end.
The sound of the door shutting behind her seemed very final as it cut off the few street noises at that hour. In the sudden, uneasy hush, a scrabbling sound came from a shadowy corner. Rats. They came big in buildings like these but she didn’t flinch. She’d seen too many. Hell, she’d slept with too many to really care much about them.
Not very much light found its way through the partially boarded windows but that, too, was familiar to her. The instructions were clear enough, even for her scattered attention, and the man said he’d be there by 1:00 a.m. She’d checked the time on a clock in the pawn shop window so she knew she wasn’t late. Apparently, the man was not so conscientious. The building was empty.
Waiting was nothing new to her, either. With wonderful pragmatism, she took a seat on a broken wooden pallet and rooted through one of the overstuffed shopping bags in which she carried her worldly possessions. She’d had a better than average day panhandling on her corner and a bottle was now well-hidden in a little welter of dingy, bedraggled bits of clothing.
“Ah, there you are pet,” she grunted, taking a deep pull. “I been left waiting before with worse company.” She looked around. “Looks like you and me.” She raised the bottle in the direction of a rustling sound in a shadowy corner. “And to you.”
It didn’t occur to her to worry. The man would come eventually. After tonight, after what she had to say to the man, she figured she’d always have a drink and a good place to wait out the night. A few more pulls at the precious bottle and she settled into a comfortable stupor, ready to outlast the darkness, dust, and rats.
So settled, she didn’t notice the changed quality of the scuffling sounds in the shadows – didn’t notice that the building contained something more. So profound was her torpor, she didn’t even notice the cord around her neck until the airway was already too restricted for sound. With nothing more than a gurgle, she slid sideways from the pallet to the dusty floor.
Author’s Note: This scene has changed a few times in editing and was even cut entirely at one point. It’s final incarnation is yet to be seen, I think. It shouldn’t surprise you that the novel is a mystery, right?