Notes From The Coast

The beach does funny things to the brain

No Imminent Plan – A serial novel

IMG_5453Attention Readers of this blog  (a small, wily group of people who are most likely related to me):

I’m going to try to commit to writing a serial novel. By commit, I mean I will post a short chapter every two weeks. This should give me enough time to write, edit and revise and follow my outline. The reason for the commitment publicly? I need to finish something. I can’t seem to finish anything. So, along with the voices in my head, I’m hoping you, dear reader, can encourage/chide/bully me on to the finish line.

The working title of the novel is No Imminent Plan and it’s a satirical novel about a hapless LA Times reporter who happens to stumble on to a story that’s almost too crazy to believe. But then again, it is Los Angeles. And while we’re not as off-the-fucking-rails as Florida, we have our own version of insanity going on here in La La Land. Here goes…

 

No Imminent Plan (a working title)

A story by Carrie Talick

PROLOGUE

“This town is full of zombies,” Trevor Nelson declared over an iced Frappucino on the outdoor patio of the Manhattan Beach Starbucks. He was smartly dressed in a faux army jacket, over-priced jeans, and a Dodgers flat-lid cap.

“Dude, not this again.” Jeremy Tillen, best friend and Trevor’s steadfast sounding board, sat across from his angst-ridden friend and shook his head slowly knowing that this was a direct result of Trevor’s latest screenplay having been rejected by every studio and agent in Los Angeles. Even the crappy ones.

“Seriously, how else do you explain ‘The Real Housewives phenomenon? Mindless drama.” Trevor was just getting going. His favorite targets were reality TV shows followed closely by talent shows, game shows, or any unscripted shows, really. “If zombies did exist the only city in which they would go completely unnoticed is Los Angeles. I’d put good money down that at least one of those housewives is an actual zombie!”

Trevor had won some small screenplay competitions but when it came to selling a movie, his material was generally considered ‘too cerebral for today’s audiences’, as one producer had put it. Having read every draft of every screenplay he’d written, Jeremy knew why Trevor’s work wasn’t embraced by Hollywood. It was bleak as hell. Even though dystopian novels were having a moment, all the successful ones seemed to end with either a shocking truth or a hopeful stance. Not Trevor’s. Trevor couldn’t nail the ending, no matter how many Robert Mckee seminars he signed up for. His stories all ended with a sad dissertation on human disappointment and pain. Deep? Yes. Entertaining? No. Hence, Jeremy understood Trevor’s contempt for humanity at large.

“Take a look around. Examine the faces,” Trevor motioned rashly to the innocent passersby. “The aimless wandering, the vacant expressions, the absence of thought. It’s a Xanax Anarchy limping slowly to their doom! They buy their expensive coffee, drive off in their shiny cars, and watch their reality shows. It’s the death of civilization.”

Jeremy glanced down at his expensive coffee but decided to not make a comment. He looked down the Manhattan Beach sidewalk toward the ocean. Another flawless sunny day. Then he frowned. Something off in the distance wasn’t quite right.

“Ah, yes my friend, it won’t be long until our brains are reduced to a translucent green Jell-o,” Trevor said in a sardonic tone. “GPS, iPhone apps, satellite TV, listing apps, reminder apps, even screenplay writing apps! Technology is taking the thinking out of living!”

“Uh-huh. Technology. Not our friend.” Jeremy squinted to try to make out what he was seeing down the street.

“We’re a bunch of lemmings. Constructing our own cliffs to hurl ourselves over. Great thinkers scream but no one can hear them over their Spotify playlist!” Trevor looked over at Jeremy. “Are you listening?”

“I’m with you, big guy. Lemmings.” But Jeremy wasn’t listening. He had leaned over to get a better angle on what appeared to be a man dressed in rags, without shoes that was pitching and weaving up the sidewalk in an awkward herky-jerky sort of way. He emitted a low drone causing a small group of spandex-clad cyclists to scamper out of his way.

“The best selling book in the country is self-help drivel written by Dr. Phil,” Trevor said, arms out, exasperated, “Dr. Phil!! Surely, that is one of the seven signs of the Apocalypse!”

“Uh, Trev,” Jeremy said, keeping an eye on the unbalanced man.

“We’re over-informed yet under-educated,” Trevor continued, unimpeded by Jeremy’s warning. “We reference Hollywood instead of history. It’s a slippery slope. And it’s only a matter of time before we become mindless zombie drones.”

Jeremy was slowly getting up from his chair, his eyes still locked on the lurching homeless guy, now only twenty feet away.

“Take heed, all ye zombies!” Trevor held up his coffee cup in a grand toast to the oblivious patrons. “Judgment day is coming. And I’m not referring to a new Xbox game!”

“Holy shit,” Jeremy said, scrambling to get out of the way. “I think that’s a freaking zombie.”

“No, it’s just my metaphor for our idiotic society,” Trevor calmly explained.

“No you idiot! A real zombie! The Evil Dead kind!” Trevor said, panic rising in his voice.

“See what I mean about Hollywood references?”

“Move!” Jeremy grabbed Trevor by his faux-army jacket and they ducked behind the coffee mixing station.

Trevor turned and saw the man lurch in his general direction. He ducked. But upon closer inspection, it was clear that something was scarily wrong with the guy. Beneath his stringy blond hair, his eyes looked swollen, almost bug-eyed, cloudy, and unfocused as if in a trance. The ghastly looking man launched an attack on an unsuspecting coffee klatch of housewives sitting at the next table. He groaned and snarled, and then with mouth open and rotted teeth bared, went for the neck of one of the housewives.

The housewives, strong and sinewy from societal pressure to lose post-baby weight, launched a counter attack with tartan baby bags, metal water bottles, and expensive toddler toys. A fierce battle raged with plastic giraffes and high-tech stroller equipment. The zombie uprooted an iron table and sent coffee cups and low-fat muffins flying. Finally, one of the housewives hit the zombie in the top of the head with a titanium tennis racket. With a sickening crack, he fell to the ground, unmoving. Black liquid oozed from the sliver in the zombie’s skull.

Trevor and Jeremy, along with a half dozen other stupefied citizens of the quiet beach community stood frozen trying to process what had just happened. Sirens wailed in the distance.

Trevor looked at Jeremy and said, “It’s a bitch being right all the time.”

 

 

 

 

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Firing back up…

I know it’s been awhile. I know I’ve left this poor, floundering blog in the backyard of my mind, untended and unloved. I’ve let the weeds grow thick over it, let the cobwebs obscure it from my mind. But somehow, the little starlings that nest there, come and peep in my ear that I should come back.

Lo and behold, it is still here. And it’s time for me to clean it up, mow the surrounding environs, and see if this tiny plot of internet land can still grow something on it.

So, I’m going forward. Firing back up. Hoping to post my ramblings and I might post chapters of this thing I was working on, then gave up on, then started again, then gave up, then started up again. Which might be my first post… after this one, that is.

Writing, when not in the service of advertising, is still the hardest, most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done. So, in the immortal lyrics of the hair band White Snake, Here I go again.

 

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