Friday Excerpt: A New Nano

Friday Excerpt: A New Nano

It’s that time of year again!

Even though I’m a professional writer and I write nearly every day, I still enjoy doing Nanowrimo. It gives me an excuse to do something challenging or different. 

In the interest of challenge, I’ve decided to attempt to complete two projects this November. 

1) The first is a huge departure for me. I got an idea for an amateur sleuth character (I watch a ton of detective shows, so I’m not surprised that my subconscious decided it wanted to try writing one). What makes this really different is that the character is a female wheelchair user. What can I say? Olive just came to me and she was so delightful that I had to write about her.

2) In the second half of the month I’ll be trying out the serialized format that I’ve been itching to try. I’ll be writing an episodic story about a man who is searching for his wife, who has been kidnapped and taken through time. 

So here is an excerpt for you guys. Remember that this is rough, rough, rough! It’s what I typed out in the early hours of November 1st. I started both of these stories fresh with nothing more than an outline!

Olive Windon’s heart beat sped up as she noticed a large crowd gathered on the other side of the quad. She looked up at her boyfriend, Pete, and he was staring at the same thing.

“What’s going on over there?” he said, raking a hand through his dark brown hair and frowning.

Olive grinned. “Let’s go find out,” she said. She grabbed the pushrims of her wheelchair and zipped down the smooth concrete sidewalks towards the steadily growing knot of people, Pete jogging beside her. From the corner of her eye she could see his lanky body easily stride across the grass.

Her attention was captivated by the curiosity of what was happening on their campus, though. A white tent was still up from the fundraiser the night before, but it was now empty. Olive glanced at it on their way over and saw that cleanup had been interrupted and there were abaondoned trash bags beside half-cleared tables.

When they arrived at the throng of people it was at least ten deep and Olive couldn’t see what they were looking at. That’s when she saw an ambulence pull up on the far side of the crowd and fear tightened in her. Pete was on his tip toes, weaving his head back and forth.

“Can you see anything?” Olive asked, pushing her hands against the tops of her wheels to lift herself as high as she could. It wasn’t high enough to get past the shoulder blades of the students directly in front of her.

Pete grunted and started darting around the people, working his way into the tight crowd. Olive looked up at the heads of the people around until she recognized someone from her chemistry class and wiggled in as close to her as she could.

“What happened?” Olive asked and Amanda started.

“Oh, hey, Olive,” she said. A light breeze was blowing strands from her long ponytail into Olive’s face until she pivoted to allow Olive in beside her. “Someone died,” Amanda said.

“Oh my God,” Olive said. “Someone we know?”

Amanda shook her head, looking back towards the center of the crowd, not wanting to miss anything. “An older guy,” Amanda said. “Maybe someone who was here for the fundraiser.”

Flashing blue lights joined the ambulence and car doors slammed. “Move back, people,” someone was saying in a voice full of practiced authority. Slowly the crowd inched back and Olive hurried to pull back on her wheels and get out of the way before someone tripped on her. “Keep moving,” the police officer continued. “Back away, get to your classes.”

Amanda peeled off in the direction of the library. Though not everyone left, the throng dispersed enough that Olive could finally see what was at the center of it. On the threshold of the door to the history building, one foot still inside, lay a middle aged man. There was a pool of blood under his head and he lay face down, wearing khaki pants and a long sleeved t-shirt. If he was here for the fundraiser, he had clearly gone back to his hotel room and changed out of a suit before coming back to campus again in the middle of the night.

Olive pulled up beside Pete and watched as the police stretched yellow tape in a wide arc around the entrance to the building. She scanned the officers until she saw her father approaching. Instead of a uniform, he wore a suit and wool overcoat, but the way he strode towards the crime scene gave him away as a detective. His young partner trailed behind, looking confused as he always did.

Pete leaned down, with one hand on Olive’s shoulder, and kissed the top of her head. “I’m gonna head to track practice,” he said. “Let me know what you find out.” Olive smiled to herself as she watched him jog away, but she was only distracted for a moment. Soon she shifted back to the dead man a few feet away. Her dad saw her and his pudgy face lifted into a smile. “Hello, love,” he said, changing his path so he arrived in front of her, only the yellow tape separating them. “Not too upsetting, is it?”

Olive shook her head. “Do you think he’s someone from the fundraiser?” she asked. Her dad looked back over his shoulder and swatted at a stray bit of dandelion fluff that was floating past him. “Could be,” he said. “Could be. Keep an eye out, love. See what you pick up.” With that he continued over to the corpse.

“Hello, Olive,” his partner said, giving a nod before following her dad.

“Hello, Roman,” she said. She rolled as close to the scene as she could and set her brakes, pulling a notebook out of the backpack dangling from the low back of her chair. Even with all the electronic technology, Olive preferred a small yellow legal pad and a drug store pen for taking notes. She put the notebook on her lap and scribbled some initial impressions, already imagining the headline in the school paper.

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