So I thought I might put up another chapter of Book Of Pain, my new novel. With some shock I've reached two hundred pages and realised that I'm barely half way through. I know that 100,000 words is supposed to be the new norm but if I keep it to that I'll have to rush it and cut out bits that are important. So I'm just going to write it and when it's finished ask my wonderful, wonderful did I mention wonderful? beta readers to tell me what should go.
This is the first draft. There's a long way to go before it's anywhere near finished.
For the first time in his entire life, Tom found himself alone with the whole abbey to explore. And explore it he did. From the gruesome windows screeching their silent torture to the nave; silent now except for the perhaps imagined sobs of the damned. In that moment he almost ran back to his cubby hole behind the root cellar. A long wail of absolute terror echoed trough the abbey. Tom sunk to his knees, expecting at any moment for the abbot to come running. Yet nobody came. It was just his imagination, Tom reassured himself. Surely there had to be a few lost souls wandering in such an grim place.
For almost an hour he continued his inspection. Yet he found nothing untoward. The central part of the abbey was as always, cold, smelly and forbidding. Though he paid this little heed. Then the place where the monks ate, the odours of yesterday’s meal reluctant to depart no matter how much Tom scrubbed. And so there was only one further place to look.
Think, he told himself. Do you really want to do it? Tom did want to do it. He might never get a chance like this again. Timorously, he approached the caged lectern. Few of the candles remained but from the guttering light of those that did he saw the heavy edges of the book. The book! The thing he’d always wanted to see. Finally the day had come. Yet Tom still had not learnt to read and possessed no real expectations of ever doing so. But still, it was the sacred book. After once more searching for any sign of life save his laboured breathing, he crossed himself for protection. Then as carefully as he was able padded up the ten faded steps to the cage. The door was unlocked! He almost turned and fled right then. It was all very well wanting something, but at the moment of getting his dearest wish, he was afraid.
Do it, he commanded himself. You might never get another chance. Admittedly, it wasn’t as if he was going to steal it. All he wanted was to gaze down at whatever the monks held so dear.
The hideous squeal of the cage door opening almost made Tom vomit from terror. Yet nobody came. On the verge of fleeing for his life he waited. He waited for almost five minutes before the pattering his heart slowed enough for him to enter. Then he was inside the cage and there was the book. It was closed. First Tom gazed in awe at its faded red leather cover. It seemed incredibly old, the leather rotting and desiccated like old skin.
‘And you want to touch that?
But Tom did. His hand, shaking, drawing back three times, he was finally able to touch the book with the absolute end of his outstretched finger. It did not bite, it made not a sound. Slowly, holding his breath, Tom began to lift the cover. Just a fraction, then a little more. He began to make out the first snatches of words. Reassured now, his dream approaching, he opened the cover to its maximum. And there were the words he had no understanding of but that which he had waited almost fifteen years to see.
Then something curious began to happen. Or perhaps it did not, Tom blinked once, twice. The book seemed to be vibrating. And the words, they were becoming brighter. No, it was just a trick. His eyes were just becoming used to the light. But the words were changing, transforming, their hard ridges moving, vibrating and almost prizing themselves free of the page. Tom heard a noise, he froze, the glowing sensation too wonderful to ignore. But someone was coming. Now Tom knew that he had to go. He released the ragged cover of the book. Yet it did not close. Tom's heart fluttered then for a moment faltered or perhaps it stopped. He could not let go of the book. He shook his hand, he sobbed yet nothing he could do would make the cover leave his finger. Now he used his other hand to push it away. Only for that hand to become stuck. Involuntary sobs of fear tumbled form his lips. The glow, the words they all seemed to be sinking into his hands, pouring like a stream directly into the pores of his fingers.
Crying freely now he looked up. There standing, some staggering but all present and staring at one person: him. And before them Father Emmanuel stood below, the fat monk aghast, his face white for the first time. The finger swung round then pointed at Tom, the man's face horrified, spittle now running freely from his mouth.‘Violator! Desecrator!’