Thursday, 31 May 2012

Are These Thoughts of a Psychopath Fitting into Society?

This eerie suspense thriller follows insomniac, Luke who pays debt-stricken Gemma to perform erotic routines entitled Domestic Bliss in the dead hours. In this scene, we get a peek into the mind of a possible psychopath as Luke encounters a work colleague on the stairwell of a corporate building. It would appear this voyeur is to be feared. This excerpt is taken from Falling Awake by Charles J Harwood.

Excerpt from Falling Awake by Charles J Harwood

This Client is Best Left Alone
Charles J Harwood
Luke entered the building, took a left past the lifts and towards the stairs. The seven-storey climb never failed to provide a kick for the circulation and ensured aural hygiene from small-talk. The encroaching footfalls warned him today was not going to be one of those days. The footfalls hastened towards him and Andrew Chapelstowe, coordinator of correspondence, snagged him with his sights.
‘Mornin’ Luke. I thought I might find you here.’
Andrew waited for Luke on the corner riser dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, jeans and an appalling case of acne on his neck.
Luke drew level with him and offered a formal nod. ‘Good morning Andrew.’
Andrew’s eyes shifted in that irritatingly casual way meant to convey rebellious energy checked only by this ‘gap’ job.
We shall see.
‘We have a bit of a crisis situation. I’ve just got off the phone to Theresa and had to make some last minute changes.’
Luke waited.
‘Robert Dhumbia has called in sick. Gall stones. Won’t be in for a month. We need a stand-in to discuss the Milliband contract with Dr. Sui’s secretary on Thursday.’
‘What about Derek Johns?’
Andrew shifted again. ‘No can do. He’s tied up with the Montgomery agreement.’
No can do? Luke eyed the volcanic crusts on Andrew’s nape. ‘You’d best consult Cerys. She has my diary.’
Falling Awake
Charles J Harwood
Andrew plucked out his notebook from his back pocket. ‘No problemo. I have just taken the liberty of consulting Cerys a moment ago.’ He proceeded to flick through.
Luke watched him, his right eyelid dragging over his pupil. Sly, leering, predatory. Perhaps. Luke had a clear view down the back of Andrew’s T-shirt where boils were white-heading. Why did creatures like him have to exist in this world in place of others? Why did precious resources and time have to be allocated to those who contributed nothing but a test of tolerance for their sheer ignorance? Luke’s face fell slack like it had done so during his shower this morning. He inserted his tongue between his teeth without opening his mouth and let it rest there. He envisaged raising his right hand, fingers flexing forward. He would then administer a jab to the back of Andrew’s neck sufficient to launch him into a pin-wheel down the stairs. Luke could almost hear Andrew’s bones clattering against the concrete and something snapping with that high whiplashing sound. Luke had heard that whiplashing crack before. He had heard it many times, had felt the fissure beneath flesh. Nothing quite replicated the sound of bones cracking, particularly the fragile kind.
Andrew had done with his flick-through and was talking. A sheen of sweat dewed Luke’s brow. He didn’t wipe it on his sleeve or a tissue, but allowed the moisture to evaporate into the cool draft.
Andrew turned, his mouth still moving, this mundane quandary causing his eyes to glaze over. ‘You could free up May seventh by shifting that finance meeting to the following Wednesday.’
Luke’s eyelid remained heavy. ‘Perhaps.’
Andrew hesitated. ‘Maybe you should confirm it with Cerys.’
Luke said nothing.

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Andrew made a shuffle before bounding up the stairs. Luke would let Andrew discuss the matter with Cerys. He could discuss it as much as he liked. In the meantime Luke would engage his mind on his earlier hypothesis of bones cracking on the stairwell before continuing on his way.

Gemma would perhaps do better not to serve this voyeur.

Read Falling Awake by Charles J Harwood available on Kindle and paperback.

Or read the blurb on Falling Awake on this blog.

Related links on my author site

Great themes in literary fiction
Stories with taboo themes

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Disturbing Psychological Thriller on Abduction and Mind Games

The Shuttered Room by Charles J Harwood pushes the boundaries of abduction to the limit: obsession, forbidden love and sexual chemistry.

Stockholm Syndrome
This crime novel tells the story of hostage, Jess, who spies upon her captors from a spyhole in the bedroom floor. In this scene, she waits for her breakfast. Instead, her most feared captor, Justin emerges with a nasty surprise.

A Thriller on Psychological Warfare

The bolt disengaged on the ensuite door. Justin emerged through the bedroom door. He stood by the window and fished out a table runner from his pocket. Put this on,’ he said flatly.
Jess’s mouth fell open, a question teetering on her lips. She stood without thinking and stared at the cloth.
‘Put this on,’ he repeated. Justin’s eyes had that glassy obsidian look she’d seen yesterday.
Nonplussed, Jess took the runner and draped it over her shoulder as a scarf.
Twisted Stockholm Syndrome
Charles J Harwood
‘Not like that, stupid. Like this.’ And he took the runner and placed it over his mouth. ‘And no messin’. Do it up good and tight. I’m gonna get the loft ladder down.’
Tightness crept into her chest. She obliged, tying a double knot at the back of her head. She waited by the door, her arms hanging. With the runner over her mouth, her breathing had taken on a tidal quality. Clicks, grunts and a metallic rattle ricocheted in the hall.
Justin popped his head through the door. ‘Come on.’
Jess followed him into the hallway where a ladder had been pulled down from a hatch in the ceiling. Justin waited, indicating Her Ladyship first. The tightness in her chest increased.
Jess grabbed the handrail and took cautious steps. She looked up into the cave-mouth of the opening. A cool draft cascaded onto her face. Her heel slipped on the first rung. Her head drew level of the loft floor where she planted an elbow onto a strut. Up here, the traffic thrummed against the rafters. Jess hauled herself onto the lip of the opening. She glanced down to see Justin at the foot of the ladder staring up at her.
The weight of what lay ahead annihilated a fleeting relief that she was wearing jeans rather than a skirt. Justin jerked his head sideways indicating Her Ladyship to continue into the loft. Jess twisted her torso and crawled across the rafters, mindful of the gaps between. Clouds of dust billowed at her movements. She could imagine it coating her eyelashes and her throat if she moved too quickly. This and the gag contrived to make her breaths feel constricted.
This is a Dangerous Game to Play
Charles J Harwood
Jess twisted her body to rest her feet upon the loft insulation. Justin followed her up, eclipsing the light for an instant. Once drawing level, he took out a roll of duct tape and tweezed the end with his fingernail. ‘Hands behind,’ he grunted, ‘thumbs together.’
Jess complied, her breaths snatching. Justin tore a length of the tape with a rasping in the air and tethered her thumbs. He forced the backs of her hands together via the knuckles to the little fingers. The tape felt cold, sticky and tight.
‘Legs together,’ he said.
Again, Jess obeyed.
He lifted her jeans above the ankles and lowered her socks. He wound the tape tightly round her ankles. She appraised his lacquered, bristly hair partly concealing his pink scalp as he worked. Sandalwood failed to mask his sweat, yeasty and sour.
Satisfied, he crouched in front of her. ‘Lay on your front,’ he instructed.
Lay on my front? She looked at him questioningly. On what?
‘Lay on your front,’ he repeated.
This Hostage likes to Eye Spy
Charles J Harwood
Jess twisted her torso and lowered her stomach onto the rafter, head to the side. She followed through with her legs, resting them against the plinth. Justin rolled up the hems of her jeans and plied tape over her calves, backs of her knees and over the sides of the strut. He repeated the procedure for her wrists and elbows, urging them forwards as he attached them to the rafter. His breaths gusted into her hair as he pressed the tape down. If the rafter had been pulled upright, Jess would have stuck onto its surface like a witch about to be burnt at the stake. Try as she might, Jess could not lift her arms or her legs.
Justin adjusted the knot at the back of her head. Jess wondered why he hadn’t gagged her at this stage. Perhaps he didn’t want to hear her wittering on at him whilst he conducted his task.
Justin lowered his mouth to her ear. ‘Did anyone tell you, Jessica, everything we do in life has repercussions?’
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Jess could only respond with a sniff through her one nostril.
‘I tried to be nice to you, I really did, but I’ve moved on from that now. I’m concentrating myself on the pressing matter of your naughty little antic last week. They’re still in the area, and we’re all expecting them to come knocking. Not that it bothers me much. I’m just glad it gave me the excuse to put you up here.’
Jess closed her eyes.
‘So just remember this: you are here because of what you did. This is all your fault, not mine. Do you hear? Just think of that whilst you are up here with your little thoughts in your little head. And try to relax. The time will pass quickly if you do.’ Justin seemed to wait for something. ‘Do you understand me, Jessica?’
Jess nodded.
Justin retreated, taking his infusion of yeast and sandalwood with him. A brief eclipsing of light and the loft ladder clattered. The hatch closed, leaving her in darkness.

A Chilling Tale of Abduction
Can you guess what happens next? Read the blurb on the Shuttered Room

Note: This book is now available within a trilogy, entitled: Gone Too Far (3 Psychological Thrillers about Taboo).

Related links on my author website

The Stockholm syndrome relationship
The inner gremlins of kidnappers
What if human behavior had a voice?

Monday, 21 May 2012

A Hard Lesson the Screenplay

A contemporary English drama, adapted from my novel, A Hard Lesson, the story explores betrayal, torn loyalties and peer pressure. A character study on how people behave when under the spell of a manipulative sociopath, every character is tested to the limit.

Modern English Screenplay

The story centres upon a teacher, Sarah who is assigned to tutor a dyslexic, Josh, who becomes a suspect to a stabbing. Her boyfriend, Frank belongs to a tightly-knit clique controlled by fearsome Kurt who lacks human empathy. Little does she realise a link exists between her job and Frank’s world. But being timid by nature, she would appear insignificant to the likes of Kurt.

But the dynamics of the group begin to change when a sexual chemistry develops between her and Josh after she sets him an assignment on erotic art. One insignificant event has an unforeseen impact upon a system that would appear infallible. As a result, the story climaxes in an unexpected way.

Screenplay on Kindle

A Hard Lesson screenplay has been formatted in a unique way for Kindle in that various elements of the screenplay have been keyed for ease. Dialogue appears as normal black text; action and description appears dark grey, and character cue appears in bold.

The other elements of the screenplay exhibits sluglines (or scene headings) like a typical screenplay, and possess the other symbols that indicate the scene location and time of day. The screenplay is also available in paperback and is formatted in the normal way. A character list and a guide to reading the screenplay can be found in both the kindle book and paperback.

Character List for A Hard Lesson the Screenplay

There are ten main characters within the screenplay, which are as follows:

  • Sarah: Teacher of literacy. In her mid-twenties, she is na├»ve and timid, but tenacious by nature.
  • Josh: Sarah’s difficult and dyslexic pupil. In his early-twenties, he is a grunge factory-hand and misfit from a prosperous suburb.
  • Frank: Sarah’s boyfriend. Clever and roguish, he seems a step ahead of Kurt’s obsequious friends that form Kurt’s criminal troupe.
  • Kurt: Charismatic sociopath and leader of a criminal clique of which Frank is a member.
  • Mrs. Tobin: Josh’s attractive mother; a perfectionist who hides a manipulative streak.
  • Sue: Mrs. Tobin’s daughter; high-maintenance and uptight, she deeply resents her brother Josh.
  • John: Sue’s self-satisfied business-lecturer husband.
  • George: Kurt’s chief heavyweight.
  • Harry: Rum-swigging tramp, custodian of Kurt’s secrets.
  • Joe: An upstart who desperately wants to prove himself to Kurt but ultimately gets used.
There are also five minor characters which are: a librarian, a tourist, a barman, a punter and Mr. Jacobs.

A Play with Dramatic Scenes

There is plenty of subtext within the scenes, that clearly indicate what is said does not correlate with the body language, which sets up tension within the story, particularly in the scenes between Sarah and Josh, which features sparring of dialogue but which hides an altogether different undercurrent.

Dialogue for A Hard Lesson

I really enjoyed writing the dialogue for the screenplay, as there was so much going in within each character’s heads, and which would leak out unintentionally. Every character has a different agenda, and each clashed with one another in some way.

Buy A Hard Lesson Screenplay

The screen-time for A Hard Lesson is around 90 minutes, an average feature film or full-length drama. There are around 16,000 words within and is available on other readers as well as Kindle, being Sony, Apple and Android.

Related links on my sites

My other screenplay, Nora
Character development in screenplays
Family and group dynamics in gangs