Thing is, he was curled up in my front yard. I think he was sleeping. Our dog went right by him, and he didn't react. However, I wasn't about to go for the kill with him in striking position. So I kept checking on him, waiting for him to stretch out. During that time, I generated, and rejected, some ideas about how to get at him even so. Were I better with a gun, I would have tried that.
Then at last, he moved. My older brother held the light, and I held the shovel. I stalked him as he began inching toward the brush. He was all stretched out now. He knew of me, of that I was certain. He just didn't care. I got as close as I needed to while watching his neck carefully. If he turned toward me, I would need to retreat or strike in an instant. But he never did. Finally, I was in position. The shovel light in my hands. My arms tense. My legs were ready to go where needed. In one thrust I landed the blade right behind his head. He never even rattled. One blow was all I needed. I'd just taken a bit of a risk with my life, and won.
And not once was I afraid.
Afterward I realized I had been channeling one of my characters. The main character of a sci-fi that's in the works talks about having a "switch". An almost tangible change from normal to combat mode. When it "flips", fear is there only to keep him aware and alert. Otherwise, it might as well not be there. He's cool, collected, careful of course, but still very determined in his goal at the moment. A state I never thought I had, until I was staring down a rattlesnake without fear. Well okay, not so much without fear as without it getting in the way. It kept me careful, but I was never anything but confident.
It's not the the first time my characters have left their mark on me. Another thing this particular character has left me with is the phrase "small favors". It's a comment on little good things in the middle of a not-so-good situation.
For example: "Tire's flat on the highway."
"Look on the bright side, it's nice and cool, and there's no rain."
Not quite a dismissal, though in the novel (you can read it later), it started as something else and it just never went away.
Still, I find my worlds and characters are leaving their mark on me even though in theory, they are a part of me already. Does make me wonder. Are they changing me, or am I learning about myself as I develop them?
Even characters buried in my writing que, yet to be touched, are having an effect. From the werewolf forcing me to look at issues from different sides, to the dragon teaching me about letting others in, to the young factory worker telling me to make my choices then accept the consequences. So many things I never knew about myself are coming to light as I explore these fictional worlds.
It's all rather fascinating. Not to mention a bit encouraging. If they're making such an impact on me, perhaps that means they'll make the same or more on my readers.