For those who haven’t been following this blog, let me introduce it a little. I am currently blogging my 21st novel that has the working title Daemon. The novel is about Aksinya, a sorceress, who, to save her family from the Bolsheviks, called and contracted the demon, Asmodeus. Her family was murdered anyway, and she fled with the demon from Russia to Austria.
Aksinya learned Natalya had slept with Ernst. She forced Ernst out of her house and she beat Natalya with a poker until she was bloody. That was the climax of the novel. Now, the aftermath...
Sister Margarethe knelt beside Natalya and hesitantly touched her. She glanced up at Aksinya, “What have you done? What have you done, Countess?” Tears streaked Sister Margarethe’s face. She cried out again, “Sister Rita.” She screamed, “Sister Rita, Sister Tria, come help me.” The novice sisters ran to the room, and halted in the opening of the parlor. They glanced at Aksinya and at Natalya’s silent body beside Sister Margarethe. Their eyes widened, and they trembled. Aksinya, still filled with rage, rushed at them, and they scattered screaming.
Aksinya ran into the foyer and to the outer door. She tugged at the handle. It wouldn’t open at first. She screamed and ripped it open. She ran out into the freezing night. Behind her, she heard nothing but sobs. She knew nothing but cries, but these were no longer hers. They were the cries of the nuns who knelt beside the broken and bleeding Lady Natalya.
In the street, the cheerful sounds of the Golden Adler Gasthaus came to Aksinya and mocked her. She ran in the opposite direction. She ran, and she ran as though the devils of hell pursued her. She had every reason to believe they did.
After a while, Aksinya slowed and stumbled on the cobblestones. A carriage rushed by and almost struck her. She fell to the side and cowered against the wall of a building. She pressed her burning body against the cold stone, and crept along beside it. After a few steps, Aksinya began to run again and fell. The cobbles bruised her hands. When she raised them in the circle of gaslight near her, they were covered with blood, but she couldn’t tell if the blood was hers or Natalya’s. Aksinya let out another anguished cry and pressed against the wall. She stood and ran again. She ran until her breath was gone. She ran until she could not run any further. Her throat was hoarse. Her body ached. She couldn’t think at all. She had just seen everything in her life, every thing that loved her and that she might have loved melt away to nothingness. She had discarded Ernst. She had killed Natalya. She had threatened and cursed Sister Margarethe. She had thrown away God. There was nothing for her now. She had nothing at all now.
The darkness enveloped her and she fell again. The cold ground was hard against her burning cheeks. She lay there panting for a long time. Then before her, a door creaked open. Light streamed through the opening. Aksinya raised her face from the cobbles. A voice called out in the darkness, “Who’s there? Who is it?”
None of this should be a real surprise although I hope it surprises you. I hope it caught you off guard, but then afterward you could tell yourself--ah, I saw this coming. I hope with Aksinya's actions and reactions, you had an ah ha moment, an epiphany just like Aksinya should soon have. It is the realization that in an instant Aksinya herself threw away everything that was important in her life. We will find she has lost much more than we or she can imagine. I've already placed all the clues, and that is the point of this commentary now. If you look back at the buildup to this point (the rising action), none of what happened should be a great surprise. The foreshadowing, the analogies, the metaphors, the words of the characters themselves led us here. That is why I say, the story, plot, and theme all come together at the climax. This is where the intersecting elements of all the previous scenes, all the previous plot (the scenes together), and the theme (overarching point and idea in the novel) all led us--there wasn't any other place they could lead us.
Is Natalya dead? She certainly appears dead. Aksinya thinks only of escape. In a rational moment, she should know there is no escape for her. She can't escape the demon and she can't escape the results of her actions. Still, she scatters the novice nuns, and she rushes to the door. She is like an animal. She has fought and only seeks now to flee. Rage drives her. Rage and something else. You can guess what it is. I don't hold you in suspense long.
Aksinya rushes into the freezing night. Behind her are cries of anguish, but not from the lips of Natalya. Is Natalya dead--that is the implied question in the next reminder.
In the street to the right, remember, is the Golden Adler Gasthaus. That was the scene of the attempted rape of Sister Margarethe and Natalya. I must remind you of that with the name of the place. Aksinya remembers that incident and turns the opposite direction. She runs as though pursued by the devils of hell. An apt description at this point.
I give some descriptive details about her run. This is to make it seem as long to the reader as it does to Aksinya. All the description is intended to make you feel what she feels: shame, anger, rage, cold, fear. She is running for her life away from all the pain and suffering she caused--yet, she can't run away from what she is or what she did. The blood on her hands reminds you and her of that. Then I do make the point. I let you into Aksinya's thoughts using a writing technique. I don't actually tell you what she is thinking. Look at the method: Her throat was hoarse. Her body ached. She couldn’t think at all. She had just seen everything in her life, every thing that loved her and that she might have loved melt away to nothingness. She had discarded Ernst. She had killed Natalya. She had threatened and cursed Sister Margarethe. She had thrown away God. There was nothing for her now. She had nothing at all now.
In this short description, I add a conclusion I don't want you to miss. I give it, not as her thoughts, but rather as a synopsis of what happened at the house. I let you infer that it is what Aksinya is thinking. Then, more metaphor to drive the point home: The darkness enveloped her and she fell again. The darkness has enveloped Aksinya. She has literally and figuratively reached the end of her rope. Asmodeus tempted Aksinya and her closest friends to cause them to betray her and her to betray them. What will she do and what will happen to her. The end of this piece: Then before her, a door creaked open. Light streamed through the opening. Aksinya raised her face from the cobbles. A voice called out in the darkness, “Who’s there? Who is it?”
If you go back to the previous scenes in the novel, you can almost guess where she is. I used much description and much foreshadowing to tell you what lies down the road from Aksinya's house. This is not a deus ex machina, and I will have much to comment on tomorrow to show you how you set up such scenes to make the end of such a climax fit within the story, plot, and theme. Also, I want to point out that this novel of all mine has the longest falling action to lead to the dénouement. This novel calls for this early climax. This point leads directly to the falling action. You might guess what will happen next--then again, I hope you are somewhat surprised.