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BEYOND THE RAINDROP (NOVEL)

CHAPTER 1 - JACOB BOLT


The old and battered abandoned motel was located in an undefined point of what everyone now called "Infinite Desert".
It was somewhere along what used to be, a long time ago, the stretch of a very busy road. Now around the desolate building it was all empty and desert.
The sand covered half the asphalt and no kind of plant grew on the side of the road.
The shabby building was a large, horseshoe-shaped building, with more than forty rooms inside.

Perhaps, once, it had been one of the busiest motels in the area, the ones that always had parking lots full of cars and trucks, all the rooms already occupied, and you had to work hard to find a vacant place.
Now it was in total ruin, and rooms could be found free in abundance.
No one else had walked in there for years.

Even the owners had left it, due to lack of work and drinking water, to seek their fortune elsewhere, perhaps in the hope of finding a better place to live.
In the room number 12, on the first floor of the old motel in ruins, the atmosphere was warm and almost motionless, static.
The only source of a small breeze of air was the compact portable fan perched precariously on a pile of empty boxes that occupied one of the corners of the small hotel room on the first floor of the motel.

Empty beer cans were scattered around the room, abandoned a little everywhere, along with a vast assortment of other bottles of alcohol, all meticulously drained of their contents.
There were also a few cans of beans and an old cardboard with a slice of moldy pizza inside that had been lying in the same place for who knew how long.
Pages of old newspapers covered the dark wooden floor next to the only chair in the room.
There was also a square television, with a huge black hole that disfigured the screen and even some cables were burned.
It would have been impossible for anyone to fix that television, and even if someone had managed to fix it, it would not have changed anything, since now nobody cared about certain things anymore. No one wasted time watching TV, and therefore no one produced more programs that could be broadcast by local networks.

The room was totally deserted, except for one man, lying on his stomach on the sofa, one arm dangling and his hand brushing against the wooden floor, next to four completely empty beer bottles.

<< Ummmh... wh... What?!...>> the man muttered with a battered voice as he slowly awoke from his sleep.
He reluctantly opened his eyelids to the world around him.
<< Is it already morning?! >>
He had never needed an alarm clock to wake himself.
With the powerful light of the sun that roasted the "Infinite Desert", it was practically an impossible task for anyone to manage to keep sleeping after the first light of dawn.

When the man originally moved into that shabby hotel room, he had thought to close and lock all the windows, nailing them on some old wooden planks to prevent heat and sunlight from penetrating the room.
That would transform it into a real oven.
The wooden planks that he had used, however, were totally infested by a prolific colony of woodworms which had made the planks very similar to a long colander full of holes of various sizes.
So, at the moment, those boards were almost useless.
Moreover, in the cracks between one table and another, sunlight could penetrate the room in luminous rays, almost blinding in the semi-darkness.

Simultaneously cursing the worms, the broken planks, the sunlight, and the headache that tormented him, the man stretched his left arm towards the back of the sofa, revealing a completely metallic hand, forearm, and biceps.
Only a small part of the man's arm was still present near the shoulder.
The rest that limb was composed of screws, iron, bolts and other materials that seemed to have been assembled together almost at random to give shape to the mechanical arm.

With a vague grunt of protest, the man clenched the fingers of the metal hand on the edge of the sofa and sat up, raising an eyebrow when almost all the non-mechanical joints of his body began to ache.

<< Dammit. >> he gasped, running his good hand over his chin covered with a thick beard.
It was brunette, sprinkled with gray hairs here and there.
Slowly, almost cautiously, he leaned his legs over the edge of the sofa and sat up more comfortably. The boots he wore, which he had not even taken off the night before to lie on the sofa, produced a light thud on the dark carpet when his feet touched the ground.

For a moment, the man stood still with his back bent, and his hands resting softly on the torn fabric of the sofa, listening to the slight pounding of the headache that tormented his temples.
He slept badly almost every night, lying on the couch with his good arm dangling, and the metallic arm crushed under his body.

The awakening, then, was never a pleasant moment for him.

Passing the good hand on his face in an attempt, unsuccessful, to drive away the last residual sleep, the man yawned loudly, then calmly looked up at the room that surrounded him.
What he had been calling home for several months was only a small hole, and at that moment he looked even more disordered than usual.

<< Oh, heck, look at this mess...>> grumbled the man, talking to himself almost in disbelief of having caused all the chaos he was seeing.
<< Yesterday I must have drunk too much beer and too much whiskey together.>>.
He sighed, lowering his eyes for a moment, and then he noticed the enormous tear in the knee of the faded jeans he wore.
Where the fabric was missing, a white cloth had been wrapped.

<< Uh ?! And this?!>> the man stretched his right hand towards the tear, barely touching the shreds of frayed fabric that drooped down.
<< When the hell did I ripped off my pants?! >>.

No matter how hard he tried, he could not remember how he had gotten this tear, or whether he had repaired the damage himself with that rather unusual bandage.
The knee did not seem to hurt, so it was possible that there was no wound below the bandage.

Blinking, the man moved his head from side to side.
He passed his good hand on the stiff neck, grumbling with an unsatisfied grimace: << Here's what happens when you drink too much. Next time I'll have to remember not to overdo it. >>.

He paused for a brief moment, then a sad smile crept into his lips as he added, shaking his head. << Ah, but who am I kidding? I know very well that I will never stop drinking, just as I will never stop smoking. >>.

Instinctively, he turned his gaze, still tarnished by sleep, on the pack of cigarettes placed on the table next to the sofa.
It was as if he suddenly made the decision to immediately start to do what he had just promised to keep under control.
The package still contained a couple of cigarettes.
The other several dozen butts were piled up inside the now overflowing ashtray placed on the same table next to four desolately empty bottles.

In addition to drinking the night before, he had also smoked excessively.

But it was nothing new for him.

The man remained for a moment to look at the half-empty packet of cigarettes, with the same expression on his face as a hungry man in front of a stuffed bun.
Then, finally averting his gaze, he mumbled: << In any case, it's time to get up.>>.

But when he started to move, he was forced to put his hands at the level of his kidneys, when his back began to hurt.

<< Ouch, it hurts everywhere... >> the man complained, unable to avoid clenching his teeth.

<< Damn couch. >> he cursed addressing a distorted look at the ugly sofa with cushions of frayed cloth and springs that came out everywhere, located next to the wall: << Last night I must have fallen asleep without even realizing it and I must have slept in a really uncomfortable position... >>.

It was useless to say that he hated that couch, old and worn, a bit like everything in that house.
It reminded him of the situation he was in, the turn that events had taken in his life.

A life that, moreover, he loathed.

With his mind still clouded by sleep and all the alcohol he had drunk the day before, the man staggered into the bathroom, stumbling into the various cans and bottles abandoned on the floor, grumbling against any object with which he involuntarily came into contact.

Pushing the bathroom door inward, he opened it completely and headed for the sink that was just before the door.
He had just moved a few steps towards the inside of the room, when he was seized by vertigo. Awkwardly he clung with both hands to the white marble sink, tightening the edges with excessive force and slightly scratching the surface with the fingers of the metal hand, but he did not mind. That motel room was already quite disastrous as it was.
No one would have looked after the broken edge of the bathroom sink; also because he was the only one who lived in a similar place.

He clung to the edge of the sink, while the room kept swirling around him, then, as suddenly as it had begun, the dizziness ceased.
Those were other symptoms of the notorious hangover from the night before.
For a moment, the man looked at the bottom of the sink as if the only short trip from the sofa to the bathroom had exhausted him.
Then he slowly raised his head and suddenly realized that he was right in front of the small mirror hanging on the wall just above the sink.
He had entered the bathroom a thousand times, but he had almost always meticulously avoided crossing his gaze with that cracked and misty mirror.
He did not like having to clash with the reflection of the man he had been now for a couple of years. In fact, he could not even remember the last time he had faced himself in a mirror with the intent of really looking at his reflection.

His reflection... Or rather, the blurred image of the man who had once been.

Now he was very different from that time, and while he looked absently at his reflection, the man realized that he almost did not recognize the bearded and unkempt individual who stared at him with blank eyes on the other side of the mirror.
It was as if he had now become a stranger even to himself.
What he saw through the mirror was the image of a man who had let himself go and did not do anything to maintain a decent appearance.
His cheeks and chin were covered by a curtain of unkempt beard.
He would have to shave, he knew it.

He could have done it without water if he wanted to, but he did not want it at all; he did not feel the need.
Even the hair, like the beard, had grown too long, and came down to his shoulders, ruffled and out of place.
They would need a nice little trim.

<< Other gray hair. >> he moved away a lock of gray hair from his eyes, muttering to his own image: << Perfect! Now you're really a beautiful man! >>.
He shook his head, almost disconsolate, adding << Ah, I'm definitely getting older... >>.

He could take care of him, his health, his physical appearance, but there was no reason why he should do it.
There was no one else for whom it was worth doing.
There was no one left for many, too many, years now.

Even the clothes he wore could not be called clean and tidy.
He wore an old undershirt that had once been white, but which by now had assumed a strange and undeniable yellowish color.
It was full of motor oil stains and drops of whiskey.
And the faded jeans were certainly not in better condition.
Overall, he gave the impression of being a bum just emerged from a dumpster.

Annoyed by his own thoughts, the man turned his gaze back to the sink.
His name was Jacob Bolt, but now he rarely used it.
He did not talk to other people very often, so he did not need to introduce himself to people.
Also, the fewer people knew about his existence, the better it was for him, since no one would go looking for him.
He did not like the company of people.
He had no friends and nobody had to take care of him and his health.

Actually, not even he was taking care of his health.

It had been months since the last time he'd left the motel room.
The only times he had moved, leaving the aforementioned shelter of the motel to get out in the sun and the hot air, he had done it just to go and look for something to eat.
Anything was fine to put under his teeth: canned meat, beans or maybe, if he was lucky, bags of chips still sealed, even if it was rare that he could find abandoned food around.
More than anything else, Bolt left the motel to look for food, and when he thought of something refreshing, he was certainly not referring to simple water.
Wine, beer, whiskey, scotch or other, he had no preferences; it was enough that it was something alcoholic.
The more alcoholic it was, the better it was.
Hell, he would even be satisfied with a methylated spirit if that was all he could find.
He had just become an old drunk, but this was his way to survive, to try to forget his past...

Before he wasn’t a man like this; he wasn’t just an old alcoholic who spent his days drinking and smoking lying on the couch of that dreary motel room.
He remembered being a sociable and kind man many years ago.

But then, something terrible had happened that had totally upset his life; something he did not talk about so easily.
Something that he always tried to forget, but never succeeded.
Since that fateful day of many years before, he had changed more and more.
He had become gruff and shy.
He had begun to drink and smoke without respite and with the passage of time, he had closed more and more into himself, becoming a solitary man.
In the depths of himself Bolt knew that his was not an exemplary behavior.

It was not for nothing, but he could not and did not want to do anything to change the situation he was in.
He had touched the bottom of the barrel a long time and did not have the desire or the courage to try to get up to come out of that dark hole into which he had fallen.
He was a lost man and would remain so, perhaps forever.
Because he could not forget his past.

He could not forget the day she was...
... She was...

Bolt shook his head quickly, clenching his eyes that had suddenly begun to burn.
It was an attempt to ward off those tormenting memories; memories that were always very vivid and present, indelible from his mind.
I also tried to make a novel version of Beyond the Raindrop.
This first chapter is just a test, to see how it goes.
Here are the first 10 pages of the comic, naturally written in a different, more serious way.

I already know it will be full of mistakes, but be understanding, okay? :blush:

If you try to read them, I'd be very happy!:)
And maybe tell me what you think of it.
Beyond the Raindrop is more beautiful as a comic or a story / novel?

Characters and story (c) :iconladymintleaf:
Copyright Statement 3 by Sophibelle
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:icontrainscribbler:
TrainScribbler Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Gah I loooove this, I mean I enjoy the comic but I also enjoy reading it in this format to give us the extra emotional/contextual information. I am so very fond of Bolt. They're two very different ways of telling the same story, and you get different things from each <3
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:iconladymintleaf:
LadyMintLeaf Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much!!:huggle: 
I am very happy that you also like this format of the story. 
With the written story, I can better describe the moods of the characters, their emotions ... This is why I am always so indecisive (whether to continue with the comic or if I dedicate myself more to writing).
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:icontrainscribbler:
TrainScribbler Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
I have to say, I am a sucker for the visual take on the story. The detail and care you've taken into creating the aesthetic of your characters and the world, I enjoy seeing it on the page >.>
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:icondevil-inthe-details:
Devil-InThe-Details Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This was amazing! There are a few grammatical errors and formatting errors, but your word choice and storytelling are phenomenal! Absolutely love it, this paired up woth the comic, is just amazing content.
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:iconladymintleaf:
LadyMintLeaf Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for reading this chapter! :)
And thanks also for the comment! I really appreciate it! :hug:
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:icondevil-inthe-details:
Devil-InThe-Details Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You're welcome!
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:iconsmilingy:
SmilingY Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
nice
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:iconladymintleaf:
LadyMintLeaf Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much!!:)
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:iconcrystal-of-ix:
crystal-of-ix Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
:jawdrop:
This is amazing!
The way you describe everything is so detailed! I'm super excited to read more!!
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:iconladymintleaf:
LadyMintLeaf Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much!!:hug: :happybounce:
Can I ask you something?
Do you prefer this or the comic?
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:iconcrystal-of-ix:
crystal-of-ix Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
I love them both! I honestly can't decide! I didn't know if it would work better as a comic or a story, but it just depends on the pace you're going for.
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:iconladymintleaf:
LadyMintLeaf Featured By Owner Edited Jan 29, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Indeed, the story can change a lot if I write it as a novel. 
When I write different ideas come to me, I imagine the landscapes and I describe things that I can not insert in the comic, like some emotions of the characters and some scenes that I have to remove in the comic. 
Meanwhile I write I imagine everything as if I were seeing a movie or a TV show. For the comic is different.
It does not have to be too serious and therefore I add more things that should make people laugh (like silly expressions). But with the comic I lose many details that I like to describe.
The book is more serious, more ... real.
If I have to tell the truth I am very undecided.
I like to write, but I do not know if people like to read what I do. I think many people prefer comic because it's faster to read and has pictures. 
But "Beyond the Raindrop" has many details in the story that may be better suited to a novel.
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:iconcrystal-of-ix:
crystal-of-ix Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, I like it no matter which way you do it.
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:iconladymintleaf:
LadyMintLeaf Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks again, dear!!:huggle:
Reply
:iconcrystal-of-ix:
crystal-of-ix Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome!
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