Chapter 7

Written by: Joe Labrum

The wind blew steadily through the night, shaking the old house to its skeleton. Gretchen slept in fitful periods of disjointed dreams. She tossed as a jumble of out-of-sequence cartoonish events played in her mind. Each scene seemed to get much clearer.

  Waking with a start, the unpleasantness of the dreaming disappeared.

Gretchen ran her hand across the sheet in the darkness. The infant’s chest rose and fell in even cadence beside her and she felt relief. She sensed movement somewhere. All of her senses fully alert, she strained for every sound that was out of place. Struggling for breath with the weight of fear pressing down on her, she tossed the covers back. Another sound attracted her toward the wall. In a slow fluid motion, she sat up.  Cautiously, ever so warily, she slid her legs over the side of the bed without a sound.

She breathed in long calming breaths and exhaled in short choppy pulses. Strands of exhaled vapor rose from her lips as a full moon broke through the storm clouds and illuminated the room briefly. Then it was dark again.

Sitting motionless on the edge of her bed, she studied the wall and saw something strange. Her focus was drawn to what looked like a spot the size of a pencil eraser, half way between floor and ceiling. It appeared to be reflecting a faint light. Curious, Gretchen tip toed over and looked straight at it. The light was not a reflection. Anxiety gripped her as she bent down and put her eye as close to the hole as she could. There was a light burning in the attic space next to her room. That was all she could see.

It was still the middle of the night but Gretchen was now wide-awake. Her mind raced, trying to understand. The unexplainable sounds, the feeling of not being alone, of being watched, began to make sense.

 I need to get Albert to open the wall so I can get in there, she thought. No, wait. What if Albert is the one who is in there? I have to find a way in myself. She closed her eyes and tried to visualize the floor plan.

Behind the wall was an attic space but she wasn’t sure where the access was. Matt would have been the one who went to investigate, not her. Gretchen felt the pain of loneliness. Fighting the urge to cover the hole, she decided to leave things as they were until morning. In the morning she would have a clearer head and could figure out what to do. She went back to bed feeling less frightened but aware of her vulnerability and the danger they were in.

The spot on the wall, barely visible before she was aware of it, now shone like a tiny spotlight. Through the night Gretchen stared at the hole in her wall imagining what was behind it.  

Joseph Labrum, USA


A good attempt at raising the tension and drama. There are a couple of sentences that are a little OTT but then they still create what they were intended to do for the reader. Considering this is a first go at serial writing, I think you have done remarkably well. Last line has a 'she' too many.
When you are verbally telling a story and you want to build tension you lower your voice until it is barely audible and speak in a very calm tone.  You have done this in writing--this is an unusual thing to see pulled off successfully--good job!  It is hard to believe this is your first chapter, Joe.  I especially like that she went back to bed but could not take her eyes off the spot.  You might have talked a little more about what she was think while she layed there staring at the spot of light.  Welcome to The Story Mint.
I'm confused by the "Strands of exhaled vapor rose from her lips". My first thought was, can't she afford heat...but at the beginning of the story she's about to collapse in the heat of a dry Summer. I first discounted it as the classic ghost story prop where the room getting icy cold then you didn't develop it. Other than that, you have a great way with your words that keeps my ... Ooo, shiney. Uh, where was I?
Folks the extra 'she' is my fault not Joe's.
in this format as long as they advance they story.  Each episode does not have to be in an identical style.  The reader is interested in what is happening or will happen.  Always keep this in mind when writing because you are doing it for someone else(the audience/reader) not yourself
This is a great observation, Ken. And you're absolutely right. But where this comment would be more effective is if you could show us where you found the issue. There's nothing here that specifically tells Joe - or the rest of us authors - where the problem lies. Did Joe not advance the storyline for you?
I'm not sure if you're a Reader or a Writer or a hybrid of both, Ken, but let me tell you a little secret. I believe most writers, myself certainly, write for our own enjoyment first and foremost. It's that little bugger about getting paid for it that makes us need to write for the reading audience - that and wanting someone else to agree that we are good at what we do.
Joe. This is beautifully writtten. But with only 1500 words to follow your submission, it only offers the reader a tiny taste of what should be a rollercoaster ride to the finish. When taken with Ray's chapter, it merely expounds on what's happened before and isn't moving forward. I cheered when she found the peephole, instantly afraid that she would be harmed by whoever lurked there and pensively awaiting her fate - only to be crushed and disappointed with an unbelievable return to sleep.
Annette--read the last para again!  She did not go b ack to sleep--that is what makes it so good.  I can just see her laying there looking at the spot on the wall unable to take her eyes off it and unable to sleep.  If that doesn't build tension I don't know what does!!
I really meant to say back to bed.
I was disappointed because she did nothing. I would have started tearing at the wall. But wouldn't a less aggressive person than myself at least have tried to cover or stuff the hole before going back to bed? An opportunity grab the nearest thing and stuff/cover the hole and have that item being something of Matt's would be poignant as well. Shouldn't she be railing in anger and/or anxiety that he's no longer there to take care of them?
Ken, I confess that I paid no attention to the style of the previous writers and don't believe I am skilled enough to match their style. Regarding the points about bringing the story along and writing for the audience, Do you think I was successful? I couldn't tell from the comment. I really appreciate your input. - Joe
but it takes a while to get there.  The version has a great ending leaving some stuff open for the next writer.  When you are attached (as a writer)to a project you know more about it than anyone but as a reader ou get one go at it.  Interest therefore needs to be maintained by advancing the story quicker than you think as a writer.  Accepting what is cut back is essential to any story is maintaing interest for the reader.  That is what editors are for.  
You are either a writer or a teacher.  Time to come clean and tell us!  Why don't you take a crack at the next story???  
this is my first go at something new like this.  I have a history in tv production including executive positions and some of this method is similar to tv.  I will give the writing a go but I'll get this bit out of the way first. 
'Struggling for breath with the weight of fear pressing down on her....' Well done!