We are 5 days deep into Nanowrimo. I am 6500 words into my new novel. If you want to follow along, you can see daily updates on facebook.com/publishinghh or twitter.com/publishinghh. Here is the first chapter before editors and grammar.
The attack came fast. It occurred without warning, in broad daylight, among hundreds of passersby. Its horrible violence was only matched by its cruel brilliance.
Adam Rosenthal had been in Chicago for only three weeks. It was a marvelous city, and his ownership of her grew day to day. On this day, he sat fat and happy on a stool in McDonalds. The restaurant was right on Chicago Ave, and had the most foot traffic of any fast food joint in the city. He loved to grab lunch here. He didn’t so much love the menu as he loved the view. There were a dozen stools all facing the floor to ceiling window. You could sit there with your nuggets and just watch the world hurry by.
His food was gone. The cardboard box sat there still open with ketchup filling the topside. The light came through the glass and shined it up blood red. His Coke sat on the bar in front of him as he occasionally drew sips from it. And he watched.
He sometimes liked to imagine where people where going. That guy is a lawyer heading off to argue a case. That lady is a teacher getting back before the lunch bell. That kid is ditching school.
He could always tell the Moody kids. Four blocks down sat the Moody Bible Institute. It housed 1500 students but educated many more. The kids came from all over the country, but they all had the same look. It was hard to put your finger on. There was a softness to their features. Like they believed the world was a kind place where love won and everything had meaning. It wasn’t just the way they dressed either. It was on their face. In their eyes. That look was especially easy to see on the girls. He had a few friends down at the college, but he didn’t like going on their turf. He would join the Spaghetti mafia usually at his College Campus or at Winslow’s apartment.
His thoughts this day were happy. He was happy to be in the city. He was happy to be away from this family. He was happy to be able to be his own man.
He noticed the woman while she was still 30 feet off. He had scanned down the street and was taken by her sleek red dress. It seemed too nice to be walking in. Someone wearing that dress should be in the back of a car, being taken from one place to another. The dress was gorgeous, but was only a garnish on the woman who wore it. She was beautiful. He didn’t mean to stare, but it’s like he couldn’t help it. This woman was stunning. Her height, her long brown hair, her form all were pleasing to Adam’s eye.
She was a small thing. Thin and fragile, with an air of wealth to her. He wasn’t the only one to see her.
She was directly on the other side of the glass when a man grabbed her from behind. His two hands gripped her arms and stopped her cold. He had come up from behind her and scooped her up like she weighed nothing. He wore fall clothes, a few too many layers though. He was of average height, average weight, but to her, he was a monster that could not be resisted.
The second man walked up to her a moment later. There was no words. No demands. The sidewalk was full of people walking, and their was no time for mercy. He too was an average man. Adam wouldn’t be able to describe him later. Curly hair that was not short and not long. A mean face. An old jacket unbuttoned. He stepped up and punched her straight in her perfect, angular nose. One punch from a normal guy crushed that woman’s face. She went limp in the arms of the man who held her. He pulled her back to rest her body against himself. She had no life to her. She hung their limp and unknowing, eyes rolling back into herself. The striker hit her again. Adam couldn’t possibly hear anything through the glass. It was tempered against weather and cold. Chatter of the restaurant was all around him. But he swore he heard the bones crumble under that second hit. Her beautiful face was gone. Two punches from a stranger took all that beauty away. All that was left now was blood and pain and shock.
It was only after the second blow that he grabbed her purse. The man behind her let her go, and she crumbled lifeless to the concrete.
The entire episode lasted less than a minute. Adam watched the entire thing. He witnessed both blows, watched her deflate onto the sidewalk as the world stepped around her. And he never moved. They shock of the violence left him dumbfounded. Not even a sound could escape him. The men retreated back into the walking crowds and disappeared. No one shouted at them. No one reached for them. It’s like it didn’t happen.
Even with her laying there in front of his watching window, he still couldn’t move. She needed help. She needed to have her legs stretched out right, for they were all folded up awful underneath her. He should stand, and bolt for the door, and help her. But his body wouldn’t move. His brain couldn’t register what he had just seen.
After 30 seconds of lying there, finally someone stopped. He was an Asian man, maybe 50, with black glasses that needed to impress to no one. He was short, and he was not strong. But he stopped. He knelt there and began to try to speak to her. He grabbed another passerby and sought more help. The police were called, as were medics. They laid her out straight, and the Asian man pulled out a handkerchief from his back pocket to dab up the blood coming from her lips and nose.
She was loaded up into the back of an ambulance within 10 minutes. The whole time Adam didn’t move. When the police entered and asked if anyone had seen anything, he looked down. It was only when all medics and cops were gone did Adam rise and walk outside. He walked to the place of the attack and looked down upon it. He thought there would be more blood on the ground. But there only some splatter. Even that he had to look hard for. The blood was already joining old gum, pigeon crap, and the grime of the city to make up Chicago’s bones.
Staring down at the blood that was disappearing under the feet of a thousand commuters, he made a promise to himself. Next time he would act. Even if outnumbered and outfought. He would try to stand up for the victim. He swore it on his mother’s grave. But when the next attack happened, there would be no glass between him and the danger. And the promise wouldn’t save the woman he loved most.