I’m having one of those “rebuild your process” kind of weeks where I remember how this writing thing actually works. That includes some long-delayed redrafting of Claw in an effort to produce an “other people can actually read this one” kind of draft. I’m back to remembering my issues with the first scene: so much back story, so little desire to explain it in one long dump. Things would be easier if I wasn’t dead-set on starting the story with a fight between the detective and the talking cat, but I like that opening a lot and it does something different to the opening pages of Horn.
There’s a taste of the current (re-written) opening behind the cut, warts and all, for those who are curious:
The cat fought back even harder as I slammed him against the wall, my left hand wrapped tight around his throat while my right fumbled for the Beretta tucked into my belt. He was a big cat, husky and grey, and all four claws raked at my arm. The jacket gave me some protection, but he was drawing blood. The rear claws got traction against my wrist, just north of the sleeve cuff, and I grit my teeth against the pain and squeezed until the hissing choked off. The Russian twisted, shifting his weight, tipping me sideways. Disorientation set in, the inability to correlate the things I saw with the way I expected the world to be. It felt like I’d just stepped out of a matinee movie and couldn’t quite figure out where the sunlight came from. It was a familiar sensation, one I’d been expecting ever since the cat stepped into the room. I held tight and fought through the static in my head. Got the gun free and leveled it at the cat’s face.
“Chill, Alexei, or I’m going to pull the trigger.”
The struggling stopped. I slackened my grip, letting the Russian breathe again. It stayed latched into my arm, all four claws hooked on sleeve or flesh, its thin body twisted against my arm. The Russian’s low snarl vibrated against my palm. Green eyes glared at me, pupils narrowed to an angry slit. A thin seam of blood welled up from the cuts inside my sleeve, stinging as the air hit the wounds. A few small drops made their way rolled out of the cuff and pattered, gently, against the tile floor.
My name’s Miriam Aster. I’m a freelance detective. I was doing a simple interview when the cat showed up, a familiar lump of feline with the mind of a discorporated Russian psychic living in its skull and made things complicated. Thus far it was only registering a .5 of my weirdness meter, psychic cat and all, and I probably wouldn’t have rated it that high if it didn’t dredge up so many unexpected questions. I looked the cat in the eye and started with the obvious: “Christ, Alexei, what the fuck are you doing here?”