The beginning chapter of the first novel I wrote can be found below. Note that the novel is not edited, not published, yet still fully my property!
There’s never really a good way to start a story; and that’s a fact I learned a long time ago. Do you start with a flashback? At the time of the event? At the end? The possibilities are endless…But still, you have to start somewhere. I guess the best place to do so in this case would be the day that James Caulfield arrived. He always told me about his first few months here, telling me that he was a nervous wreck when he moved and how exactly things began to change when we met…
The tension in the small taxi was palpable as the elderly driver and the young passenger travelled along rough roads. The light, constant cold fall rain that was pattering down made the old town appear as though it were shimmering; highlighting the vintage looking buildings, the twisted lanes and several slightly overgrown plants and bushes. The town, while truly filled with life, currently appeared to be dead and deserted. The large archway at the centre of town explained the place and the ambiance perfectly.
“Welcome to the Ghost Town of Cambrian,” the young man read quietly, breaking the uncomfortable silence, adjusting his glasses and tilting his head to get a better view of the sign. “Why do they call it a ghost town? It’s fairly popular, right?””
The older man chuckled. “That’s a question you should’ve asked before comin’ here, son. Lots of legends around this God forsaken place. You’d do well to chat up some of the locals about ‘em before settling in; you might just get scared away.”
“I thought legends were to bring in tourists, not push them out,” the man stated dryly.
The elder tilted his head in acknowledgment. “That may be true, but our town does alright for itself. We bring in a lot of artists and freaks…Kids tryin’ to get away from life. They never stay. Which are you then?”
The man turned his head to look at the window, focusing in on his reflection. The short, spiked dark hair and deep blue eyes framed with thick black lenses, accompanied by his youthful shaven face and lanky build often had people believing he was a college student. He had graduated a few years ago, however, and like the old man had said, he was trying to get away from his life.
“I’m a photographer. James Caulfield,” he introduced himself. “The town has a sort of…depressing beauty to it. I’m hoping to bring in some more people, maybe move here permanently.”
“Photographer, eh? Don’t get many of ‘em up here…” the driver laughed. “Maybe you can use that camera of yours to capture some ghosts on film.”
James smiled lightly. “All due respect, I don’t believe in ghosts.”
Another laugh fell from the driver’s lips as the taxi began to slow down and pull over to the side.
“Son, alldue respect, but you will if you live here long enough. That’ll be twenty-seven fifty.”
With the money all but thrown at the elderly driver, James was standing outside of an old, shambled maroon hotel with a small black duffle bag in hand and a book bag slung over his shoulder.
Grimacing up at the cracked old bricks that were highlighted by the flickering ‘Hotel’ sign, he glanced one last time at the barren streets that were shining with rain. It was an old town surely, but could they not maintain the appearance of this area a little better? It was helping with the idea of a ghost town, what with the town currently looking like it was straight out of Silent Hill, but that aesthetic doesn’t appeal to many people.
James shook off the rain and his thoughts and proceeded to enter the saddened building, lugging his bags with him. He was shocked at how comfortable it felt inside.
The front room was warm, with deep red seats, brown plush carpet and warm walls. It wasn’t high class, but it was welcoming and reminded him of home. It was when he was admiring an old fashioned fireplace in the far wall that the silence was broken.
“You must be Mr. Caulfield,” a bright voice called from behind him, and he turned to be met with a woman who would’ve been roughly his mother’s age. Her short, greying black hair stuck up in violent directions from her head, contrasting with her warm, open face. Her reddish brown eyes were soft and open as they observed him. “I’m Darleen Valentine, the owner of this establishment. If you’d like to check in, I can show you to your room.”
“That would be wonderful, thank you,” James stepped forward, shaking the woman’s offered hand and smiling at her. “This is a magnificent building, stunning on the inside.”
“The outside is pretty misleading, huh sunshine?” the woman chuckled, opening up a sort of log book and passing him a pen. “Sign there. Yeah, some higher ups with sticks up their asses want me to do renovations on the exterior. But this place has history, and it’s still holding itself together, so they can go and eat their words.”
“What kind of history?” he questioned, passing back the pen and grabbing the handle of his bag.
“Started as a hotelin the old days,” Darleen explained, grabbing a key from behind the desk and beginning to walk down the hall and to a set of relatively new elevators. “Back when the town could probably be considered new. It grew and aged with the times, although the outside hasn’t quite caught up yet. Still, its standing tall, used more as a sort of apartment building than hotel.” The elevator arrived, so the pair stepped in and she hit the button for the second floor.
“A lot of people here end up staying for weeks or months at a time. We even have a few permanent residents here, a young woman in 4A, a man in 3B and an elderly woman in 1A. You may get some of their mail by accident as well; usually it gets sent to the front desk and I sometimes mix up the rooms,” she chuckled.
“That’s understandable. I’m not expecting much mail aside from the bill for rent, unless my parents decide to harass me again,” James laughed as the elevator stopped and they stepped out into the hallway. “
“Well, I wouldn’t worry too much about that to start. You settle in here first, and who knows? Maybe you’ll find a house or something right quick.”
“Or maybe I’ll get scared off by the ghosts,” he joked as they stopped in front of the door. The faded, rusted sign reading ‘2B’ hung centered just above the door handle, teetering as though it were about to fall off.
“Well, don’t anger them and you should be alright,” Darleen responded, gesturing towards the door. “So, this is your new home. You let me know if there are any problems, you hear me? And if any of the neighbours cause you trouble give ‘em a good whack in the head.”
James chuckled at the fire-fueled woman. “Yes ma’am. You have a good evening.”
“You too dear,” she smiled warmly and turned around, walking back the way she came.
The young man breathed deeply, right hand resting on the age-dulled door handle in suspense.
This is it, he thought to himself; the new life he wanted. A quiet escape where he could work and live in peace; a small town where no one knew his name or his family.
Steeling his nerves he opened the door to the room, flicking on the light as he stepped into the unknown.
The room was interesting. Clearly old and in desperate need of some cleaning – if the dust caked on the dresser was any indication – yet it retained a sort of warm feeling to it that seemed to be absent from the rest of the town. The room consisted of mostly brown and dark green colours, a soft yellow hue being given off by the lighting. There was a single bed, a desk underneath the windowsill, a dresser with a TV perched atop of it, a small chest of drawers in the corner next to the bed, and a bathroom going off of the small entry hallway. On the other side the room branched into what seemed like a newly added tiny kitchen.
James set his bags aside, letting out a huff as he flopped pathetically on the bed. Glancing to the side he noticed a small brochure welcoming him to the O’ Rodagh Hotel.
A new life, he thought, mind drifting off regardless of still being dressed, and of the glasses digging into the sides of his head. A new life, a new start, a new adventure. This would be a good thing…right?