Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Excerpt from Pure, Chapter 10

Hi everyone,
Here's an excerpt from Pure that's a little further along in the book.  (If you click on the posts from May on the right, you can read the first three chapters.  Work still continues on the next book, Ignis!)

I backed away from the smoke into the surrounding trees.  The smoke did not follow, as I had half-feared it might, and once I was clear of it, I could see that it was concentrated in the open space of the grove.  I looked over the whole mass of the dark, writhing vapor.  There was a line of the smoke trailing back the way I had originally come.
            There was another line running deeper into the woods.
            I had seen the smoke at Mr. Neverov's house and at Mr. Del Gatto's  was it possible the smoke trail had something to do with Gleb?  It certainly wasn't anything normal.  I wondered if I already had the clue I had been searching for – the smoke.  I had a strange feeling that the police wouldn't have been able to see it – just as Mrs. Hannity hadn't been able to see it.
            I knew I should be getting back to GM, but I wanted to find out what was going on with the smoke.  I folded up the yearbook photo and put it in my coat pocket.
            Then I followed the smoke trail deeper into the trees.
            I hurried along as fast as I could, dodging branches.  I had been to these woods many times, so I knew them well.  Up ahead, I knew there was a cave.  I had an uneasy feeling that that was where the smoke trail led.
            Following an impulse I didn't quite understand, I grabbed for my neck, searching for the iron charm William had given me.  I realized that my neck was bare – I had forgotten to put the necklace on that morning.
            I felt a brief stab of panic that I quickly pushed aside.  I told myself that I was being foolish – there was no reason for me to be concerned about not wearing a necklace.
            I hurried on.  The trees thinned, and I could see a clearing ahead.  The cave soon came into view.  As I had feared, the trail of smoke wound down into the cave mouth.
            I hesitated for just a moment, and then plunged into it.
            The cave was dry – not dank as I had thought it would be – and there was light to see by at first.  I followed the smoke deeper into the cave, and as I moved further from the mouth, the light grew dimmer.
            As the light dimmed, the smoke changed, turning white and luminescent.
            I continued to follow the writhing white smoke, even after all the natural light had gone, feeling along the cold stone walls with my hands.  Twice I scraped my fingers across sharp rocks, and shortly after that I stumbled badly, falling on the unforgiving cave floor.  My elbow hurt, and I could feel that I'd torn the knee of my jeans.
            I got up and kept going.
            Eventually, I spied a bright light up ahead, and a thick, whispering voice filtered up to me.  But I couldn't understand what the voice was saying, and I crept closer.  I could see that there was a chamber up ahead.
            Concealing myself behind an outcropping of rock, I peered into the chamber.
            A large man, heavily swathed in furs, was sitting on a flat rock with his back to me, and there was a lantern on the floor in front of him that cast a harsh glare up toward the ceiling.  The smoke that I had followed wound into the chamber – white in the darkness, black where it touched the light.  It whirled in a ghostly, windless tornado, concentrating particularly around the man in furs.  Across from the man, I could see the shoulder of a second figure – it looked to be another man – though I couldn't be sure.  The face of the far figure was blocked by the bulk of the man in furs, but I was pretty certain that the second figure was the one doing the whispering.  Now that I could hear better, the whispered words had a harsh, malevolent sound.  I felt a chill steal over me.
            I strained to listen, but I still couldn't understand what was being said.
            I would have to go closer.
            I had just made up my mind to edge further into the chamber when I felt fingers lace around my wrist, and I was pulled backward forcefully.
            I nearly cried out – but I quickly thought better of it – the two figures in the cave chamber didn't seem terribly friendly.  In the dim light from the white smoke, I could just see a large, dark shape looming beside me.  I tugged on my imprisoned wrist, but I found that I was held in a grip of iron.
            I was pulled forcefully to my feet, and then dragged back along the cave tunnel away from the lit chamber.