It was a dark and stormy night.
Silas Slovotsky leaned back in his chair and studied the words he'd typed into his computer.
He grinned. Perfect. The very words he needed to set the scene. And they had the added benefit of being true. It was a dark and stormy night. Except when the lightning lit up the sky, of course. And the thunder-
He leaned forward and peered at the computer screen. Did the sentence seem a bit trite? Maybe he needed to spiffy it up. He opened his thesaurus to the word dark and ran a finger down the page. Stygian. That might work.
He cleared his computer screen and typed: It was a stygian night.
Nope. Didn't have the euphoniousness of the original sentence. Perhaps if he reread what he'd already written he could figure out how to proceed.
He printed out the manuscript he'd been working on for the past four months and read the single page. Dark as Night by Jack Kemp.
A thrill ran up his spine. He could see it on the shelf in the bookstore. Kemp, King, Koontz. He'd chosen his pseudonym specifically so the reviewers could call them the unhallowed trinity. And he deserved the accolade.
A knock on the door startled him out of his dream.
Who could that be? His friends-all two of them-knew he didn't like to be disturbed when he was writing.
He tiptoed to the door and peered through the spyhole. His heart pounded and his knees went weak. Cops!
With sweaty hands, he fumbled with the lock and slowly pulled open the door.
"We won't take much of your time," the female cop said. She had shoulders like a linebacker and a face to match. "We just have a few questions. Do you know Jill Allenburg?"
Silas swallowed, trying to summon up enough saliva to moisten his voice box. "She's my next door neighbor."
"When was the last time you saw her?"
"Two days ago."
The male cop, who seemed about half the weight of the female, gave him a stern look. "You haven't seen her since?"
"No. Why? Has something happened to her?"
"What is your name?" the female cop asked.
Silas opened his mouth to say "Jack Kemp," but "Thilath Thlovatthky" slithered out. His cheeks burned at the hated lisp that showed up when he was nervous.
"Where were you yesterday afternoon between two and three?" the male cop asked.
Silas drew up his shoulders. "Here. Writing my novel." He waited expectantly, but both cops managed to hide their awe and admiration behind hard stares.
"But you didn't see Jill?" the female asked.
"I never looked out my window."
"Was anyone else here?"
"No. Am I a suspect?"
"Thank you, sir. We'll be in touch."
The two cops marched down the sidewalk.
Silas blew out a breath, locked the deadbolt, then rushed to his computer to get it all down before he forgot the feeling.
It was a dark and stormy night.
There was a knock on the door.
He hugged himself, barely able to contain his glee. Only a great author could pen such brilliant prose. These sentences told the whole story. The sinister ambience of the night. His weak-kneed trepidation at seeing the cops. The sweaty horror of the interrogation.
Now he needed to find out what happened to Jill, dash off the rest of the story, and send it to the publishers. If he kept his attention focused on the task, he knew he could finish the book in a month. Two at the most. Or three.
He placed his fingers on the keyboard and listened to the waning storm. The rain slanting against the window sounded like the tapping of typewriter keys, and the air smelled like-
Some hot chocolate sure would taste good. With marshmallows. No, with whipped cream.
He rose and wandered into the kitchen.