Actually, I've been engaged in a singular project: writing an entire novel that I have actually outlined beforehand. It has a beginning, a middle, AND - most importantly - an ENDING. I know where the story's going, and what each character does in it. Not every scene, mind you, but enough that I can usually figure out what the next scene is - which is always the thing that trips me up.
Thus, without further ado, an excerpt is in order.
Please understand this is still a draft, but I really like this chapter.
Fallo Gapple was convinced that he'd heard his master's voice up there, calling for help. It didn't really make sense that Madame Voskamp would be in that particular apartment, but Fallo's knowledge of his master's social schedule was somewhat limited beyond the portion of the day when he was at her beck and call. He listened, trying to hear again what he'd just heard and convince himself it wasn't what he'd thought.
“Help!” The voice was faint, but it very clearly belonged to Madame Voskamp. Fallo sprung into action. Well, sprung might have been a bit of an overstatement. He said “pardon me” to a portion of the sea of human legs swirling around his small frame, said “excuse me” when the “pardon me” proved ineffective, and finally waved his orange arms over his head and made a ululating noise that he thought might scare them off. He was finally able to get across the flow and to the door, where he was presented with another problem. The buzzers for this building were quite high up, and he found himself hopping and reaching to get to them. He did the old trick of hitting every buzzer in hopes that someone would just open the door.
Fallo pounded on the front door.
Fallo jumped up and hit all the buzzers again.
“Can I help you, little fellow?” A voice from behind. Fallo whirled around and faced a set of knees. He looked up into the leaning face of a particularly tall human.
“I need to get in there. My master is in trouble,” said Fallo.
“Now how do you know that?”
“I heard her. With these,” said Fallo, pointing to all three of the ears arranged around his vaguely pyramidal skull.
“Well, I live here, so I'm going to open the door, and I'll let you in, but you behave yourself, ok little guy? I don't want to have to call a Reclamation unit on you.”
Fallo bristled at the human's condescension, but held back any insult.
“Yes, sir,” he said instead. “Thank you, sir.”
The human's legs swept past Fallo, and the human's hands opened the building's door with a swipe card. Fallo followed behind and entered the building.
The lobby had been hexed to be bigger on the inside, so what had looked like a simple brownstone from the outside was now a sumptuous mansion's entry hall, and a sweeping staircase led upward. An elevator with blue doors stood next to it. The human walked to a bank of mailboxes on one side, and Fallo walked to the elevator and pressed “up.”
The elevator arrived a few minutes later and opened. It, too, had been hexed to be bigger on the inside, no doubt an expensive touch to quell claustrophobia in the building's residents. Still, Fallo found it disconcerting to be constantly thrust into spaces that didn't make dimensional sense.
His ears had pinpointed the sound of Madame Voskamp's voice to an apartment on the fourth floor, so he pressed the button to go to that floor. The elevator doors, much farther away from him than they should have been, closed, and the elevator started moving.
At the fourth floor, the doors opened, and Fallo felt a weird sense of vertigo as he exited the cavernous elevator into a narrow hallway that could not have possibly contained it.
A scream to his left. It was definitely Madame Voskamp. He launched himself at a door, hit it, and bounced off, his thin shoulder throbbing.
Still, he'd clearly made enough noise to rouse the occupants. The door opened, and a human male, who Fallo estimated to be somewhere in that vague age range humans called “middle,” answered wearing a shiny purple robe that flowed down to a bare set of feet. Fallo looked past the human to see if he could get a glimpse of Madame Voskamp.
“Yes?” The human male asked.
“Is Madame Voskamp here?”
“Fallo?” The voice was clearly coming from inside. “That you, Fallo?”
“I'm here, Madame. I heard you calling for help.”
“What? No I didn't.”
“We're all fine here,” said the human male, blocking Fallo from entering.
“But I could swear -”
“Did you just talk back to me?” The human male asked.
“No, sir. I just -”
“Fallo, it's all fine,” said Madame Voskamp from somewhere. Fallo trained his ears, trying to get a sense of her state of mind.
It honestly all seemed to be fine.
Then what was that all about?
“A- are you sure you're ok, Madame?”
“Yeah,” said Madame Voskamp, coming to the door at last. She was clad in a skintight plastic leotard. A set of handcuffs dangled unlocked from one wrist. Fallo began to get the picture.
“Oh, um, very sorry to disturb. I thought you – I'll just...I'll show myself out.” He bowed effusively and backed into the hallway.
“Be at the club early tonight, Fallo. I'm doing my special act,” said Madame Voskamp. She gave a little giggle. The human male closed the door.
The humiliation burned a pink hue into the orange skin on Fallo's cheeks. He took a deep breath.
“What are you doing in here, imp?” A short human was addressing him, a male child, about Fallo's height.
“Nothing, apparently,” Fallo responded. “Wasting my time,” he added.
“Is it true you can walk through doors?”
Fallo winced at that. “No.”
“But I heard -”
“Some imps can walk through doors. I cannot. Which, to be honest, was a good thing just now.”
“Because of reasons.”
“Reasons you'll know about when you're older. Now, please excuse me.” Fallo turned away from the human child and walked down the hall back to the elevator. The blue doors opened and the impossibly large space behind them caverned away from him. He decided to take the stairs.
Back out on the street, Fallo seethed. He knew that nothing that had just happened had been Madame Voskamp's fault, per se, but it was the sense of obligation he had for her well-being that was really pissing Fallo off. Fallo was a smart imp, smarter than a lot of other imps he knew. And yet here he was. Subservient. Menial. Doing his imp duty.
“Hey, brother,” a voice Fallo recognized said behind him. It was Ganna Magog. Fallo was glad to see an orange face at his level, and he embraced the other imp with enthusiasm.
“Ganna, glad to see you,” said Fallo.
“What are you doing in this part of town?”
Fallo shook his head. “Don't even ask. It's just...don't even ask.”
“Ok, brother, fair enough. Listen, I'm glad I ran into you, actually.” Ganna reached into a pocket of his work shorts and pulled out a rumpled leaflet. He handed it to Fallo.
Fallo began to read the leaflet. “FELLOW IMPS,” it began portentously.
A human bumped into Fallo's arm, making him drop the leaflet. It was immediately trampled and lost in a sea of human feet.
Ganna cursed under his breath, watching the leaflet disappear.
“Sorry,” said Fallo.
“It's ok. Hell, I could just tell you. There's a meeting in three days. A meeting of imps. I want you there.”
“What's the meeting about? Is it a religious thing? Is this that weird cult of Garroth I've heard about? Tell me you're not into that...”
Ganna shook his head. “No no no...nothing like that. This is...ok, I really think we should keep our voices down. Come over here.” Ganna grabbed Fallo by the elbow and maneuvered him around the current of knees to the mouth of an alley.
“What's so secretive?”
“SHH. Look, this is about imp self-preservation. Imp self-determination. It's about thinking about our relationship to humans in a completely different way.”
“Whoa, slow down. This is a political thing?”
Ganna nodded. “Yeah it's political. It's about rights.”
“What are you two imps conspiring about?” The voice came from a green clad Reclamation officer standing nearby. The sea of pedestrians parted for him.
“Nothing, just catching up on old times, officer. Sorry,” said Ganna.
“Move along, you two,” said the officer.
“I'll get in touch with you later,” said Ganna. Fallo nodded. Ganna walked away. The officer gave Fallo a sideways glance and then moved on.