Posts Tagged ‘National Novel Writing Month’

Playground Temporarily Closed :-(

Playground Temporarily Closed 😦 (Photo credit: Adam Arroyo)

Well, it would seem that it is coming close to the time for me to take my traditional annual hiatus from the internet that I just started last year (it’s a tradition now). Though, last year it was for NaNoWriMo, this year I am not participating with NaNo (this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t—unless you’re also too busy with paying projects), and I’m taking off a month early. I mentioned a list of things that I’m trying to get done, ‘the Dark Crystal’ submission, a couple contest submissions, etc, and I’m really trying to squeeze all that in, and so to make that more doable, I must temporarily remove the land of the internet for a bit.

So, much like last time, I’ll be popping in to check mail and such, then popping right back out to never see it again until the next day to check mail, all the while writing ‘til my fingers cramp and arthritis themselves into permanently awkward positions.

But, being as how leaving this place unsupervised for a month last year allowed some of you to wander off and completely forget your way back here altogether, I will at least try to bombard you with reasons for why you hover here to begin with before I go. I have two ‘How I Write’ posts that I will be posting (the POV thing that I promised forever ago, and one about openings), I have at least one flash that I’m going to throw in, plus I have a review that I plan to do for ‘Agents of SHIELD’ (I’m waiting on the second ep before I do a review—plus, since I normally do two reviews for TV stuff, I need to find something else to review… open to suggestions). And, I haven’t done a food post in awhile, I’ll see about throwing something in… not sure what right now, since I haven’t really done anything new lately (though there are a few things I would like to do).

So, yea, next week, I’ll throw all that at you, then you will no longer see me until… dun-dun-dun! December! Assuming that I have the Dark Crystal thing done and ready to submit by then… which I should, but still, that’s my key goal with all this, but finishing my novel for submission on top of everything. So… yep.

English: Hostess Twinkies. Yellow snack cake w...

English: Hostess Twinkies. Yellow snack cake with cream filling. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NaNoWriMo has now come to an end. I got about half-way through, then day-job hours turned into their usual holiday self. I did get a lot further than I normally do though, so I am happy about that, and I am far enough, that I do plan to try finishing it before the year ends (but holiday hours will hit again this month, so it will be challenging).

Oddly, I’m actually glad that the hours hit when they did though, it allowed me to have chance to stop and think about what I was writing (even if you’re really not supposed to do much of that in NaNo). Basically, I started writing a chapter in the story, and it just flat out stopped flowing correctly… I actually had flow issues through a bit of the story to begin with, but this was just flat out… nothing coming together at all. But I tried to tell myself it was just my self-doubt telling me this and I should just push forward… well, I kept trying to push, and the more I pushed the more this block of bad-flow pushed back. I was thinking about the thing for almost two weeks straight trying to figure it out with nothing but bits and pieces working their way through. But then, finally, last night while working, it hit me what the problem was: I was introducing certain elements of the story in the completely wrong order… I ended completely separated my main character from my supporting characters, and then suddenly there was nothing pushing anything along… it was just there for the hell of it. So, now, I have to go back, inject at least a few new chapters, then re-write the crap out of the last chapters I had, then start moving forward again with actual direction this time.

So, how did the rest of you do? Did you write your NaNos? Write your Blogs? Skip Shaving? Hoard Twinkies?

The month is over; it’s back to work as usual. That means people need to vote on ‘Natural Selection: Part 13” so I can write 14 (I have a tie, get to work), I will be write a bit for the reviews (I have a generalized review that’s been running through my head as a bit of a rant—covers all three mediums even). After Thanksgiving came and went, I have decided that I’m going to tack on a recipe section on here… cooking is my zen, and is commonly one of the things I do to clear my head for writing, so there for it fits my main subject matter. This will all be coming with in the next couple days when I have time to actually write something out.

And, as promised, a fragment from my NaNoWriMo 2012—This is a chapter that I kinda like, and I’m pretty sure it’s about the only one safe from changes… maybe. The story has a working title of “Stiym” (I have play on word titles running through my head, such as “Full Stiym”, or “Self Es Stiym,” but that will be worked out some other time) Remember, this is unedited:

Steam Punk Background/Wallpaper/Desktop (work ...

Steam Punk Background/Wallpaper/Desktop (work in progress) (Photo credit: Buz Carter)

So, we started our morning rounds like we had been doing since we arrived in Baile. However, I couldn’t help but notice along the usual route, that Jan was looking considerably unsettled about something, “What’s the matter, the Lieutenant hurt your feelings?”

He just gave me a narrow-eyed side-glance; I’m guessing I hit a nerve, but before I had a chance to apologize—I swear I was going to—he said in a tone that suggested his mind was still processing while he spoke, “Something about the manner that the Lieutenant address things didn’t seem right… I’m not quite placing why. I don’t know, but when we went to him, I assumed he should have at least known something about it already. These attacks have been going on for over a year now, I couldn’t possibly have been the first person to have noticed such a clear pattern.”

I just shrugged, and said, “Well, you know what they say about ‘military intelligence,’ it’s—“

Before I could conclude the oldest joke in military history, we were interrupted by a scream coming from a building just down the road. We both glanced at each other and with a synchronization that couldn’t have been more perfect if we actually practiced it—and I actually think we were supposed to—we un-slung our condensed-pressure rifles and charged with full force towards the source of the disturbance.

When we got to the front of the building, the sign above the door read “Joe’s Bar & Grill.” I would have been disturbed by that coincidence if I wasn’t already completely aware of how extremely small this town was. We barged through the door with our rifles at the ready, searching frantically for our target or targets, not sure if we should be seeing a metal beast sitting in the middle of the room, or a thief holding up the place. We were greeted with only the stares of a rather baffled barkeep stopped in mid-wipe of a pint-glass, and a young raven-haired girl standing on a stage at the back end.

“Can… I help you gentlemen…?” The barkeep asked with a confusion that matched our own.

“Screaming…” Jan blurted out through his noticeably still pumping adrenaline, “We heard screaming…”

The barkeep’s baffled expression broke into an amused smile, “Oh, that…” He chuckled, “That was nothing to concern over, that was just the young, Miss Alice Ceol, here—“

“I’m so sorry,” the young raven-haired girl interrupted coming down from the stage, “I didn’t realize I was loud enough to be heard outside. I was just screaming to give my voice a bit of a raspiness, I like the way it makes the song I was about to rehearse sound. You’re not going to fine me for public disturbance, are you?”

“Um… you weren’t… I mean… we’re not police…” Jan stammered in response.

I allowed myself to relax my guard and re-slung my rifle with Jan follow the same, “No, ma’am, we were just making sure nothing was wrong. Sorry for the intrusion, we’ll just be on our way now.”

“You stormed in here believing I needed saving?” the girl said putting her fingers to her lips, “I am so sorry—can I at least try to make it up to you two? How about a song and a meal, on me?”

I was at a bit of a loss, and almost found myself stammering like Jan, “Um, no, miss, that’s ok. We were just doing our job, you don’t—“

“Nonsense, I insist.” She looked over to the barkeep, “Joe, could you set them up with something to eat on my tab while I go prepare?”

“Sure thing, Alice,” Joe responded, heading immediately to the range-stove, placing strips of bacon and cracking a couple eggs over it.

“Now you boys just sit right down here and wait for Joe to serve you up something, and I’ll be right back out,” she said while dragging us by the arm to a table with Jan glancing at me looking as unsure of what to do as I was. “And by the way,” she continued while walking back to the stage, “my name’s Alice, what’s yours?”

“My friend here is Private Jan Leighis, and I’m Private Stiym Waalv,” I responded.

She stopped and looked at me for a second, “Really?” I was almost about to give my usual grunt of frustration in reaction to most people’s response to my name until she said, “That’s such a wonderful name. It has a very ‘old country’ sound to it,” a smile perked across her face that just left me stunned for a moment before she disappeared behind the stage curtain.

“We’re supposed to be patrolling,” Jan whispered to me, as if I didn’t already realize that.

I just put my hands up helplessly, “We’re actually supposed to be taking a break for breakfast soon anyway. And if we’re gonna hear singing while we eat, I’d rather it be from an attractive young lady here, than from Trodaire in the dining tent—he seems to only know the key of yelling.” I couldn’t say how much he really agreed with my line of reason, but he surrendered to it all the same.

Shortly after, Joe came out from behind the bar carrying two plates loaded with mounds of crisp bacon and extremely fluffy scrambled eggs, and slices of dark rye toast smeared with a red, chunky fruit preserved jam that all gave off an aroma so tantalizing that I almost passed-out from the overwhelming stimulation. He then put a couple of pint-glasses in front of us filled with a slightly beige colored, sparkling liquid.

“What’s this?” I asked examining the beverage and putting it up to my nose, taking in a sweet fragrance.

“I haven’t given it an official name yet, but it’s something I created almost entirely by accident,” Joe responded with a rather proud look on his face, “basically, it’s excess yeast gas from the beer still, combined with regular ol’ water, plus I added in a bit of sugar and gingerroot extract for flavor. The kids around here seem to like it, and I figured since you two boys probably shouldn’t be consuming alcohol while on duty, you might want to give it a try.”

I first watched Jan take a brave swig and responded with a pleased grin before I did the same with mine. The sparkles popped, and tickled my nose, and the taste of sweetened gingered went in. I’ve had ginger tea a few times before back in Cathrach, and that’s about what I was expecting this to be like, but I was surprised to discover that something as simple as adding bubbles would almost completely change the way the tastes would hit my tongue. Yeast gas and ginger water—quite possibly the most ingenious accident a person could come across.

Not too long after we began digging into our meals with blissful satisfaction, Alice came out onto the stage. She had changed out of the town’s typical female attire of a blandly colored skirt and blouse—that she was actually making look rather attractive on her—to a black dress covered in sparkles that glimmered against every little speck of light in the room as she moved. The bottom came down to just above her ankles with about two-feet of a slit up the left side; while the sleeveless top outlined around her B-sized cleavage coming down in a long V shape that went to just above her stomach, revealing a teasing eyeful of her perfectly smooth, ashen skin.

It wasn’t until I received an elbow to the side from Jan that I realized I was staring gape-mouthed, with pieces of half-chewed egg dribbling down my chin.

Alice stepped a little forward, bowed her head with closed eyes, and lifted her cupped hands to her chest for a moment. Then, slowly, she raised her head and her eyes in time with the first notes, moving her hands with sorrowed expression. She sang with a jazz-styled rasp, while harmoniously combined with a calm soothing melody. Even with her singing in entirely a cappella, she managed to fill the place with more sound than a full orchestra could have pulled off.

The song was not one I had ever heard before, but it told a story of a land far away, where young boys went off to become soldiers to fight for the country, and left their families behind to morn with pride for their bravery in going, and sorrow for them never returning.

I took the song in and let the images it cast float through my mind, and I couldn’t help but feel myself being filled with a painful bitterness as I was forced to realize how little I could relate. I was a soldier that left with an ultimatum, not for my country; and I had no one at home who would ever morn for me, with pride or otherwise.

I glanced at Jan, and felt jealousy for his militant ancestry and litter of sisters at home. Realizing that his father probably looked at him with obvious shows of pride as his only son gave in to their family’s tradition of joining the service, where as my father kicked me out the door, with me dodging shards of flying glass from the bottle of spirits he chucked at me on my way out. And Jan’s mother, she probably still cried for him now, even after all this time of him being away, where as mine simply lay rotting beneath a crudely carved headstone after she was taken by a sudden and violent fever a couple years before.

The remainder of my breakfast was getting as cold as I felt as I sat lost in the melody and my self-pity. If I wasn’t so busy feeling sorry for myself, I might have heard the high-pitched squealing of heavy machinery moving outside before the wall to our right suddenly came smashing down.

Jan and I just barely had time to react and dodge the falling debris, as Alice’s song turned to terrified screaming—a clear difference from the screams before—and a large metal leviathan came crashing through. My mind could barely process what I was seeing, but it was huge, just barely short enough to make it into the building through the newly form hole in the wall without its head tearing completely into the roof along the way. It had tracked wheels running below it, completely destroying the tables and chairs in its path like they were made of saw-dust and tape. And from the plates covering its tracks, to its cylinder head above its bulbous body, it was complete covered in a bronze-colored metal. And on either side of its body, it was equipped with two large cannons, mounted like arms.

With barely a thought, I grabbed my rifle, and shifted its pressure switch active, giving it a slight fluctuation in weight. I pointed the barrel directly between what would have been eyes on a man, and fired. The rifled jolted back as a bolt went flying faster than a person’s ability to see, and clanged with a slight spark against the metal skin, making home in the wooden floor below, leaving the beast un-phased, without even a scratch.

The machine rolled forward towards Alice. She tried to get away, but the heels she was wearing didn’t seem to agree with the idea, and sent her stumbling to the ground, helplessly looking up at the metal monstrosity lurching closer.

Joe began throwing glasses and bottles, and whatever else he could get his hands on, with them flying and smashing into its body, dripping the expelled contents from it, “Get away from her, you hideous freak!”

For every bit of bravery Joe was mustering, it was quickly drained out of his face as soon as the Tom slightly turned its body, redirecting one its cannon-arms towards him. Steam spewed out a hidden exhaust, and the huge barrel let lose a giant iron ball, hurdling at high speed. Joe ducked behind the bar just barely in time for the blast to miss his and exit through the opposite wall, and continuing on into the next building over, only to assume it eventually stopped.

I raised my rifle again, glancing at its pressure-gage reading “ready,” and began looking for a soft-spot to call my target when Jan grabbed my shoulder, “Stiym, no, we’re under orders not to engage!” He yelled over the sounds of screams and machinery, and his eyes turned to compassion as he looked at my wrath charged face. He then said with as calm as a voice as he could get through the rest of the commotion, “We can only observe and report…”

Just then, the bronze abomination’s belly began to open like two split doors, and a large wire-coiled claw extended out from an inner compartment towards Alice.

I looked back at Jan with furry filling my eyes, “You go report, Jan, I’m gonna have my blade do some observing,” trust me, you say that line next time your brain is over flowing with adrenaline, and it will sound completely clever at the time to you, too. With that, I shrugged Jan’s hand away with him looking vividly torn about what to do, and I drew my sword.

The Tom’s claw stretched down and grabbed Alice around the waist. Futilely, she struggled and banged at it with fists that looked like children’s hands against it. All the while she continued to scream for it to let her go, and shouting curses that would shock members of the Defense Force Naval Division, and then a giant needle began to extend out from the claw’s side. Slowly rising, it suddenly stuck her bare back like a scorpion’s tale. Almost instantly, she went from flailing and fighting, to falling limp.

And just like the day at the bar that set me to this path, my brain was flooded with only anger and reaction. All other sounds and images were blotted out as muffled thumping and hazed frames of red, as I charged at the Tom. I dodged beneath a cannon-arm and lunged myself to find footing on top of its plated tracks. I grabbed the arm of the claw with one hand, as it began trying to retract back in to consume Alice in its chamber, and I brought my blade down across it with my other.

The blade my about and inch deep gash, that required me to pry it out raise it back up for another strike. Just as I was bout to bring the sword back down, the wire coils running up the arm quickly hummed, and shot a jolt of electrical charge through my gripped hand. My muscles tensed helplessly until the surge ceased and I fell to the floor in front of the machine in a tingling daze. My whole body felt suddenly exhausted and drained as I forced myself back to my feet.

Searching for my fallen sword, I looked up just in time to see the Tom take Alice inside it and close its chest around her. Its track began to rev themselves in reverse to exit through the hole where it came in. And just as quickly as it came, the Tom was gone.

I stood there for a minute that felt like hours as my mind raced around what just happened and what I should be doing next when I was pull from my trance by Jan who seemed to be suddenly next to me, “But, that doesn’t make any sense…”

I looked at him completely lost about what he was talking about, “What?”

“She wasn’t even blonde, why did it take her?”

It was like he was speaking a foreign language that my brain only barely understood, but I eventually remembered his theory about the abduction patterns, “Well, maybe this Tom’s colorblind…” I said flippantly.

He shook his head, “But colorblind can see the difference between black and white—“

“You know, you’re right,” I interrupted, not really wanting to hear anymore of his attempts to wrap logic around things, “how ‘bout we go ask it what the hell its problem is.”

I charged out the hole in the wall and began following the clear trail of track lines left in the ground, only half noticing Jan behind me trying to keep up. Even though part of me knew I should let him catch up, the anger over-ruled for only the set mission of hunting down the Tom and tearing it apart until nothing was left, but an unharmed Alice.

The Tom was moving with impressive speed, for in the short lead that it had, it already managed to get far enough that it took me running down a couple of long streets, and around buildings that had civilians poking their heads out of with fear-filled faces that told me I was definitely going in the right direction. And with the sound of machine squealing ahead and a last turn around another building, I finally locked eyes on my prey again.

I brought my rifle up from dangling around my shoulder, and took quick aim at the base of the thing’s neck, and fired. With no effect, I ran a few steps forward and the pressure-gage reset, and I took aim at the joint of a cannon-arm—again, with no effect. I repeated the jog forward and took aim again at the seam between the left track and its body. Just before I squeezed the trigger back, I was slightly jolted from my frenzied-stupor by the sound of barking, that my brain for some reason considered familiar and important.

“Private, just what the hell are you doing engaging a Tom in a clear disobedience of my direct and lawful order? Stand down now, Private, and you might stand a chance that I do not have you court-martialed!”

Trodaire’s voice echoed all around me, and conflicting instincts fought like rabid beasts. One side insisting I follow my military training and comply with commands, the other simply screamed in my head like rumbling thunder, roaring on until I destroyed the thing that created it.

“I’m just eating breakfast, sir.” Did I mention that my brain was shut down right now, and making sense was pretty much minimal, at best?

Still holding my target, I took a few steps forward to compensate for the distance lost in the brief discussion. I commanded the rifle to its magic and let the bolt fly from it. It was most likely entirely in my mind, but I thought I could actually see the projectile as it jettisoned from the barrel, and cut a swirled line through the air until it reached contact with the Tom’s joint, and somehow, managed to tear through the seam and into the track.

It stumbled and tripped over its damaged track a few more feet before coming to a halt. My blood still thumping in my ears, I just barely heard the Lieutenant announce his surprise with expletives that I would probably have joined in with equal, if not greater demonstration, if my mind had slowed down enough yet to fully realize what I just did. Instead, without chance for any other thoughts, I charged on towards the Tom with the Lieutenant changing his expressions of surprise back to orders of immediately standing down.

I was stopped in my pursuit as the Tom suddenly began turning a full 180-degrees at its base, and was now facing directly at me. I stood there for a moment at a loss for why it just did that, and then the part of my brain that stored the detail about “cannon-arms” started screaming, and I yelled an expletive of my own before ducking and rolling to the side of the street. Both cannons exploded towards me, and as I moved, I could feel the gust of the flying iron blow past me, tearing into whatever stood in their path. And it shifted again, with the cannons themselves slightly re-angling at the joint. With only the street at one side of me, and a building walling me in at the other, I had little option left. So, just as the steam shot from the cannons’ exhaust, I launched myself through the glass window of the building, with the giant bolts going through, and destroying the rest of the wall.

The occupants of the shambled building came in from another room with alarmed looks on their faces.

“Don’t worry, folks, all just part of the show,” I uttered out before finding a position at the remaindered of the decimated window frame.

I took aim at the Tom’s opposite track this time, in the same spot as the other, and squeezed the round out. The damage was less impressive this time, but it still at least began the cut through. So I let another shot loose, and another, until I saw the track flap freely beneath the bronze shielding that was itself now nearly separated from the Tom.

And then I charged in, unsheathing my sword and launching myself at it. I climbed without stopping to it meet its eyes with my own. Looking in behind black grates I saw wires, coils, and bulbs, and things I couldn’t quite recognized, but was certain if I stabbed a blade into them, would stop this thing from working. I drew my sword back as far as I had room to do so, and thrust it through the mechanical pupil.

The Tom jolted and flailed in reaction to the surgical intrusion, and had me clinging to whatever I could find to grip on to with the very edges of my finger-tips just to keep from being flung off. The death-thralls finally ended, with the Tom letting out a building-sized tea-kettle of a squeal while leting out a last burst of steam from all over.

I drew my sword out from its eye socket and slid down to its chest door. I thrust the tip of my blade between the bronze gates, and began trying to pry it open.

“Private, can you hear me? Say something; do you know where you are?” I heard Trodaire yelling behind me.

A bit confused, as my adrenaline was just beginning to slowly come down, I looked over and was about to respond with, “I’m pretty sure I’m still in Baile,” when what I saw caught my words in my throat like a jagged stone.

Trodaire was frantically hunched over a body wearing a Defense Force uniform. I just saw him lying unmoving in the dirt road; a stream of blood ran from him, pooling and mixing with the dirt into a caked, red mud, “Jan…”

I ran to him, completely uncertain of what I was about to see. Kneeling over him on his opposite side from Trodaire, I yelled with my voice cracking, “Jan, are you ok?” I looked at him as he continued to lay limp, covered in blood, back at Trodaire who was checking for vital signs—something I’m pretty sure I was supposed to have learned back at basic training—there was something about black-boots being shiny, or something—anyway, I heard myself yelling at the Lieutenant, “What happened? How did this—“

“Medic…” Jan suddenly coughed out.

I looked down and saw his eyes slit open, as I was flooded with relief that he was still alive, “Don’t worry, a medic should be on its way—just hang on, you’re gonna be ok…”

He shook his head with exhaustion, “Not for me, stupid, for you—what the hell happened to you?”

“Huh?”

“Good-lord, Private, did you just jump through a damn window?” Trodaire’s voice rang while I suddenly started noticing that I was almost completely covered with shards of glass and streams of blood. And now that I noticed it, my adrenaline levels also decided this would be a good time to start letting all the pain through at once, “What the hell were you thinking?”

I fell to the ground writhing in sharp agony, trying to pry out the few pieces that I could grab, “Mostly avoiding the flying ball of death, sir—I think that’s about as far as thought got.”

As I was pulling out a rather unrealistic sized shard from my leg, and wondering if it reached bone a loud banging rang from behind. Trodaire instantly rose to his feet while simultaneously drawing his condensed-pressure pistol from his side holster and directed aim towards the battered Tom.

It banged, and thumped while it sat motionless. That thing can’t possibly still be function—Oh, crap, “Alice!”

I stumbled to my feet, cringing as shards poked, and jostled in excruciating and unpleasant ways. Running back to the Tom where my blade was still wedged between the slats in its chest, I began prying with every bit of energy I had left in me. I could feel the world swirl around me, as my body was clingy to fight against the overwhelming pain. Then the pressure through my sword gave way, and I felt myself simply fall forward with a sensation of floating rushing over me.

{I was only able to get through decent for the first couple days, then the day job decided to go from almost no hours to I have no time for anything but working and sleeping. I got to 6,544 words. This is still unedited, but to at least hold you over a bit ‘til December, I thought I’d share. I do have plans to finish this someday since I do actually like the direction it was taking, but as it is, I haven’t even looked at it since last year. I never came up with a title for the story, although it takes place half as almost a complete autobiography (with only slight alterations for story’s sake), and half in the universe I use for ‘the Hole World’ (I have short-stories scattered all over the net for ‘the Hole World,’ plus it is the novel that I have declared must be written before I die—at its present progress, I’m going to be immortal). Enjoy…}

The chains couldn’t have weighed more than a few pounds, but they have grown to feel like mass tons, with the combination of drudged-up dirt and rock, plus the effect of overall fatigue. But he took another step forward, dragging against the chain’s resistance around his feet.

He picked a decent rock as his target, and pulled up his pick-ax that greatly competed with the weight of the chains. Lifting the ax over his head, he focused on the rock and allowed gravity and what was left of his strength to force the ax down as it pulled him down with it.

The thud to the ground knocked the wind out of him, and left him slightly dazed for a moment before he realized with alarm what happened. Oh no, it’s going to come for me, he thought panicking to get himself back to his feet before he’s noticed. But the sound of snarling above him told him it was already too late. He could feel the hot breath on the back of his neck, with its putrid stench to follow like a thick cloud.

Forcing himself to turn and look with every ounce of fear in the world holding him back, telling him it will go away if he just doesn’t look—but still, he looked. He pried his peripheral vision to catch a glimpse just as the sharp clawed hand quickly tore into his shirt and pulled him up, forcing a full-on view of the horrid beast. It pulled him closer, with its mouth dripping and snarling, and its claws digging deeper. He could do nothing but watch as those yellow teeth came closer and closer—but then, from somewhere, he heard the sound of a bell ringing.

Steven woke-up with a puddle of drool pooling on his desk. He looked around in a daze, noticing other students doing the same. The ending of Mr. Wicks’ English class, the final hour of the day. Mr. Wicks was a well intentioned teacher, but unfortunately, he seemed to have been cursed with an extremely mono-toned voice that even the strongest willed students couldn’t help but fall prey to. If any student here ever went on to do a research paper involving the benefits of subliminal learning, it’d be unavoidable that they would somehow include Mr. Wicks’ class as an example.

Steven got up from his seat, stretched his muscles and wiped the stream from his mouth. Gathering his books, he headed for the door, nodding a departure to Mr. Wicks’ who was already lost in whatever piles of papers teachers seem to always have to get lost in.

He went down the steps, across the hall, and up the next set of steps to his locker, without a single glance or gesture of any kind to anyone around. He exchanged the books in hand for the books that had homework associated, shoved them into his backpack and grabbed his jacket, and just as routinely, went back down the steps. He glanced at the school library, deciding if even felt like stopping in for anything. Without pause, chose against, and walked out the door.

This was how almost every day went for Steven. He had developed very little social connections with the other students at school, that so rigid of a routine was all there really was for him. He developed this habit as a result of the first five-in-a-half years of him attending the school system of Park Wood he had not actually lived in the city due to issues with his parents’ finances, plus numerous delays in selling the house in the other city. Because of this, he was unable to let much of anyone into his life for fear that they would discover his less-than-legal living arrangements, and be expelled from the school system. Although he presently lived only two blocks from Park Wood Secondary, the habits still remained.

And so Steven cut through the student parking lot, and walked the two blocks towards his house. Once he got to the back corner of his yard, he threw his bag over the chain-link fence, and, with little effort, jumped up with both legs split to his side, parallel with the fence, just barely tapping the fence with his forefingers for momentum, and landed the opposite side. A talent that he discovered he could do by bored induced accident, and, even though it became as much a part of his routine as everything else in his day, it was something that still always amused him. Not just because of the super hero-like skill, but from it being one of the few things he could do that seemed to get equally amused attention from other students walking passed.

He grabbed his bag from the ground and walked in the backdoor. He greeted his mother and whatever child she was watching in her in-home daycare that day. He took a cup and bowl from the cupboard, filled the cup with pop, and the bowl with chips, and headed down to the basement.

He placed the cup and bowl on the end-table next to the old ‘70’s styled couch. Threw his bag and jacket onto the cot he set up not too long after moving into this house, after coming to the conclusion that sharing a room with his poor-hygiene-alarm-sleeping-through-snoring of a brother wasn’t going to work out anymore. He had already been staying in the basement for most of his day to watch TV, play video games, and “work” at his desk as it was, so what difference did it make to add sleeping to the list. The steps that led below the ground, into this whole other place where no one else went for any reason other than to do laundry became a path to a sanctuary from the world outside—a place where he could become lost in his thoughts and not be bothered by anyone.

Jumping over the back of the couch and plopping down in the spot that had become perfectly curved to his form, he clicked the remote to whatever cartoon was coming on. It didn’t take long before he heard the sound of tapping coming down the stairs from his well-aging dog, Scraps, paying him a visit to listen to his mind ramblings, and barter for a share of the chips. He watched as Scraps, who stood just barely short of the couch, measured to jump with less certainty than she used to have. With as much thrust as she could push out, she jumped up with a half climb, to get her back half all the way up, and plopped down next to him with her waiting eyes. Steven smiled, mussed her head, and rubbed behind an ear and tossed her a chip that she munched up with barely taking time to chew.

Steven then allowed his attention to be taken by the TV for a couple minutes before his mind started wondering back to the strange dream that he had in class. The details of the dream weren’t actually what he found strange at all—he actually had that dream, or dreams similar to it many times before, for as long as he could remember. But what was odd about it was the timing of the dream. Normally if he fell asleep in class, the closest to dreaming he ever did usually was in some surreal relation to whatever was being discussed in class as he was still listening to everything while he slept. However, this time he had a dream that he’d normally only had when he slept at night, when his mind would have reached a deeper level of sleep.

Of course he remembered this dream, he actually remembered a lot of things, plus he only had a small number of dreams that he considered to be recurring types. There was the weird dream he sometimes had about driving a car off a bridge which commonly ended as he forced himself awake in mid-flight, unless he couldn’t, then it ended after the car plunged into the dark waters below and slowly sank, and choked the breath out of him—he never understood where that dream came from, but it had been something he’s placed in connection to his fear of heights, bridges, and dark-water. Then there was the dream that he hadn’t had in awhile, but he had it enough in the past that he still clearly remembered it. It was the one where he’s running from a large dog that eventually catches him and begins to eat him—that he attributed to being mulled by a dog once when he was about 4 years-old. Although he still remembered the event that once haunted his dreams, he didn’t fear dogs as a result, he felt it made no sense to hold an entire species accountable for the act of only one of them.

And then there was the dream he had earlier in class, the one where he’s a slave working in dark, grimy tunnels filled with other kids his age, and some younger. He sees the other kids fall in exhaustion only to be picked up and devoured by a large beast that he could only describe as a grizzly bear on steroids. This was another first detail, though, the part where this time he was the one that fell and was devoured.

He was in the habit of trying to analyze and determine logical reasons for why things are, and constantly reading to gather more information to refine conclusions. Though, despite all his efforts, he couldn’t determine the meaning behind this dream.

He looked at Scraps after relaying all this out-loud as if waiting for a response, and she just gave a baffled looked and glanced at the bowl on the table. Steven tossed Scraps the last chip, and flipped himself back over the couch and walked towards the desk in the corner covered with pens and assorted papers and books. He sat down and opened the cabinet next to the desk and pulled out a drawing pad filled with sketches of comic book heroes, cartoon characters, and then, finally, the images that have been coming to his mind more commonly—images of fierce battles between a strange warring race of what looked like bipedal snakes, and the large “steroid grizzlies” clad in spiked metal armor, brandishing blood-soaked swords, and axes.

He flipped through the numerous drawings, viewing fight after fight so brutal from both sides that for anyone who didn’t have the dreams he did, wouldn’t even know how to determine who was the “bad-guy” in the scenes—assuming there was actually a “good-guy” to begin with. He searched, hopelessly to try to find logic or reason that he some how missed the many times he analyzed the drawings before, but was still left with a loss. So he closed the book and chucked it back in the cabinet in frustration, and began pulling out the night’s homework.

Even as he worked out math problems, his mind was still wondering its focus on to the dream, and the images in the drawings, which continued until he finally retired for the night. Pulling back the sheets and blankets from the cot and slipping himself beneath. He made mental noted plans to visit the school library during lunch period tomorrow, closed his eyes and drifted off.

“Are you Ok?” a small voice asked from behind him. He turned, looked around and saw nothing. “You look a little shaken still—but I can’t really blame you, that was definitely a close one.”

Still looking for the source of the voice, he suddenly saw a small figure, about four inches tall standing on a rock in front of him. At first glance, it looked like a small toy action figure, but it moved freely and glistened of flesh. Steven fell back in surprise, and knocked the wind out of himself for a second, “Wh—what, are you?”

The small figure looked at Steven with a confused expression, “What do you mean, what am I? I’m Beag… I’m your friend.” The small figure called Beag suddenly paused and began looking around and sniffing the air, “Oh no, their coming… I was afraid they might try. Escaping makes them mad enough, but after what you did to that guard—I think they might have taken it personally.”

From somewhere in the distance, Steven could hear the sound of the snarling that he heard so many times before getting closer, and closer. “What is that—what’s happening?”

“Come on now, Rohe, we’ve got to go. Let the running clear your head, but we have to go now.”

Beag’s line of reasoning made as much sense as anything could, so Steven forced himself to his feet and started running. He didn’t really know where he was running, except he was running in the opposite direction of the snarling sounds.

“Rohe, this way!” Beag called out.

Steven looked over and noticed that Beag was now fluttering on dragonfly-like wings. He pushed the shock of this sight aside for the moment and began following Beag towards a wall of trees that seemed to instantly dissolve any traces of daylight. Ducking under branches, and jumping over fallen limbs, he followed the small figure moving in the darkness like a humming bird in the night, doing his best to keep his balance through it all.

As he ran, he could feel his chest constricting, as his body began reaching its limit, but as soon as he was about to slow down and rest, he heard the snarling again as loud as if it was directly above him. He then pushed himself forward with a renewed burst of energy.

“Come on, Rohe, we’re almost there!” Steven heard Beag call out from somewhere in the darkness ahead. Aside from the occasional silhouette fluttering in and out of view, he could barely tell if he was still following Beag at all anymore. So, he just kept running forward, until a tree root caught him by surprise. Before he could dodge it, his foot hooked it and threw him hard to the ground. Pain shot through him in more places than his body knew how to respond to, and he could feel the warm ooze of blood covering across his right forearm that he apparently gashed.

“No! No, no, no. There’s no time for resting yet, Rohe,” Beag said, fluttering back to Steven, hovering just above his head, “You have to get up, the passageway is just over there.” Beag pointed at what looked like a random brush by a tree about twenty feet away.

Steven pushed himself to his knees, with pain shooting in all directions, and thrust himself towards the targeted tree. Once he got there, his body gave in and he threw himself to the tree’s base only to unexpectedly fall right through it. He didn’t know what just happened, but he was too tired to care, and so just lay with his back flat on a dirt floor, surrounded by stringy looking roots covering the walls and ceiling.

Just outside the hole that he fell through, he heard the snarling of the beasts. Branches shattered beneath their heavy foot steps, and their growling increased as their numbers caught up to each other. All at once the snarling and growling became the sounds of snorting, as if they all began sniffing everything. The snorting sound of one got close enough to the hole that Steven could see the wet nose poking through the brush in front of him.

He was frozen with panic. He was exhausted, and cornered. The beast in front of him suddenly turned his snorting into a growling howl, and tore the brush away, giving Steven a full view of this giant beast. Its yellow eyes stared into him, as its fangs dripped. Steven could do nothing but allow reflex to force his arms over his head as the beast was about to leap at him.

The alarm clock began to blare and threw Steven awake with his heart racing. He looked around confused with the images of the dream still rushing through his head. Steven pushed himself upright to make his way across the room to hit the alarm—having it across the room made it easier to get moving and wake-up for the day—but as he rolled and got up on his elbows, he immediately pulled his right arm back in pain. He examined it and noticed he had blood seeping out of a cut across his forearm. Looking at his arm in confusion, he couldn’t figure out what could have happened while he slept. He looked at the cot he slept on to see if there was anything that could have cut him, but aside from the blood that was beginning to stain through to the mattress, he saw nothing obvious.

He got out of bed, and slapped his alarm off. His mind fluttered through reasoning, finding himself having to remind himself multiple times that the cut on his arm couldn’t have anything to do with the dream—if anything, what happened in the dream was somehow a response to what must have happen for real… now if he could only figure out what that was.

He went up-stairs, no one else was up yet—he usually woke-up earlier, it was the easiest way to get first dibs on the bathroom. He went to his bedroom where he still kept his clothes. He opened the door while covering his nose and holding his breath in preparation for the plume of stench that his still sleeping brother, Shaun, would have collected.  He walked passed the unrealistically loud snoring and over to his closet. Without even needing to turn on a light, he was able to pull out a black long-sleeve shirt—he had the entire closet purposely organized so he could easily get dressed in the dark and still know exactly what he was wearing. He pulled the sleeves up just before the cut—so he could still be “styling,” but without the need to worry about explaining the cut to anyone.

He went into the bathroom, relieved himself, cleaned his face, and fixed his hair, and left towards the kitchen just as his older sister, Kristy, was zombie-walking her way into the bathroom behind him.

Throwing a frozen waffle into the toaster, he heard his mother shuffling in. She went over to the coffee pot and began the process of preparing her start-of-the-day fuel to start sipping at before the first of the kids arrived. The silence was broken with the sound of an alarm clock blaring from his closed bedroom—that wouldn’t be getting turned off for at least an hour later.

“So, when’s your next tournament supposed to be?” His mother said out of nowhere.

It took Steven a moment to even place what she was talking about, but was able to respond with, “I’d have to check, but I don’t think there’s anything ‘til next month.” Since he was 12 years-old, Steven was taking martial art classes. It was something he was interested in since he first saw a Bruce Lee movie when he was 3, plus, it was the only sport neither of his siblings did. It was something he considered himself good at, and his skill with jumping techniques was admired through the whole organization.

“Well, let me know, so I can arrange my schedule for it…” His mother said as she began to move herself to the recliner in the living room, with coffee mug in hand.

Steven poured milk into a glass and grabbed his waffle from the toaster when it popped. He placed himself at the dinning table, with his napkin folded with pre-folded side folded in towards the plate, and with the knife placed, blade-in, and then the fork on top of the napkin, while placing the glass directly above the plate. He was very particular about these details, there was something about it that just made the universe feel “in balance.” His father, in a teasing manner, had a few times moved Steven’s setting before, while he was getting up to grab something from the kitchen. It was nothing more than simply moving his glass a little over, or switching the order of his silverware while his dad chuckled. When Steven sat back down and glanced at the setting, he said nothing, despite the storm that was forming in his mind. He simply moved the glass back where it was, and placed the silverware back in its “proper” order—and the universe was right again.

Steven heard Kristy finally getting out of the bathroom and coming towards the kitchen from behind him.

“Morning, swine…” she muttered as she passed him and headed for the fridge.

Steven just rolled his eyes, “Morning, sow…”

She came back with half of a grapefruit with a light brushing of fake sugar on top and sat at the head of the table, “So, what do you have planned today?”

Steven lifted an eyebrow at her, “I’m pretty sure I’m going to school. The state does still require it, doesn’t it?”

“Smart-swine,” she responded with Steven narrowing his eyes at her “swine” addition, “That’s not what I meant. It’s Friday, are you doing anything after school?”

Steven had actually forgotten that it was Friday at all. Mostly because he really didn’t have any plans for it any differently than for any other day, except maybe wait for Saturday morning when he had martial arts class for two hours, then go back to waiting for the next day, which mostly just involved waiting for the next day, and so on.

“I have no plan at the moment—why?”

“Well, I have a home game right after school, you could stop by there and cheer us on.”

What season was it for her, now? Volleyball, soccer, cheerleading—did cheerleading have a season, or was it just whenever? “I don’t know, maybe… I’ll see, I guess…” He actually was in a genuine indecision about if he was planning to go. Although he had no noted plans aside from the library at lunch, there was nothing, but the need to work his way up to altering his set routine—which felt like straining a muscle trying to lift double his body weight.

He went back to eating his waffle while trying to mentally wedge his sister’s game into his day when he was pulled out of his focus, “What’s that?” He heard Kristy say, only half realizing she was still speaking to him.

Steven looked up at her, “’An introduction of a subordinate clause expressing a statement…?’”

“What?”

“’That,’ it’s ‘an introduction of a—‘”

She interrupted him with an annoyed grunt, “Shut up, that’s not what I meant. I mean what’s that cut on your arm?”

Steven looked at his arm. Apparently his sleeve got pulled up slightly while he was moving and slightly exposed his injury, “Well, apparently it’s a cut on my arm.”

“Will you stop being a smartass—“

With that, their mother looked up from her coffee mug and looked from around the recliner at them, “What cut?”

Steven glanced at her and went back to cutting at the last bits of his waffle, “It’s nothing. I just got scratched by something when I was sleeping.”

“I told you, you shouldn’t sleep down there. Who knows what’s down there, you might have gotten tetanus or something,” His sister put in.

“Why would I not know what’s down there? It’s just a basement, what could possibly be down there that isn’t also up here? Besides, I’m up-to-date on my shots—although, when’s the last time you went to the vet for yours?” Steven responded grinning as Kristy just stuck her tongue out at him.

“Well, try to be more careful,” his mother said as she turned back around and replaced her attention to her coffee.

“Um… ok, I’ll try to sleep more carefully, I guess…” Steven responded as he picked his empty plate and glass up, and carried them to the kitchen sink. He rinsed his utensils and joined everything with the already forming stack in the sink, and flooded them all with soap and water to soak and wait to be washed later.

Steven ventured back down the basement steps to gather his bag and jacket. As he went over to his desk where he left everything the night before, he heard a sound that made him suddenly stop. The sound came again, almost like fluttering, in the cabinet next to his desk. He just stood and stared at the door suspiciously, trying to think of everything that could be in the cabinet that could some how make that noise, but he couldn’t think of anything.

He slowly began moving his hand towards the cabinet knob at a rate that made the distance seem like miles. Just as his finger tips were about to touch the knob, the fluttering came again with a sudden loud bang against the door, that made Steven jump back with his breath caught in his throat. Steven quickly glanced around for anything he could grab to try to use as a weapon, but unfortunately, the pillow from his cot was the only thing that came to hand.

With pillow bravely raised up and ready to strike at anything, he counted off to push himself, “One… two… three!” He instantly grabbed the knob and pulled the cabinet open. Quickly, he stood back to take full view and search for his target. He saw art tools on the top shelf next to a couple of never-opened model car kits, and on the next a few reference books of random subjects, from Greek myth, to how-to build a cabinet, and the next was a collection of his notebooks which include notes from science classes that he felt would be interesting to hold on to for later, to his writing and drawing books.

As he let down his guard and placed his weapon back on the bed, he stared around the cabinet in confusion, and even looked around it incase whatever the culprit was somehow got passed him. But he saw nothing obvious.

Convincing himself that he must have just been hearing things, and trying to be somehow comforted by that idea, he began to close the cabinet. Then he suddenly stopped. It took him the moment for his head to clear to notice it, but once he did, he couldn’t imagine how he didn’t before. His drawing notebook that he was looking at the night before was slightly off angle. Not a lot, but it never took a lot for him to see that it, or anything, wasn’t where it should have been.

Steven called up the stairs, “Was anybody down here when I was sleeping last night?”

“Yeah, you were!” Kristy called back down as if she had just finally beaten him in come-back remarks.

“Not that I know of,” His mother responded, “Why?”

“Certain things have been moved from where I put them.”

“What can’t you find?”

Steven looked up the stairs in frustration, “I didn’t say I couldn’t find something, I said things were moved.”

“Well… how do you know something was moved if nothing’s missing?”

“What do you—because it’s not where it—you know what, nevermind…” Steven went back over to the cabinet and examined around the notebook for anything else out of place, and noticed nothing.

Picking the notebook up, he started flipping through it. He saw nothing noticeably unusual until he was stopped at his last drawing. Nothing about it really separated it much from the other drawings of the battles. It had a snake-man in the background flying on the back of a long dragon stretching off-page, while, in the foreground in a rock overhang, an armored beast had just decapitated a smaller snake-man with a blood-soaked sword. What drew his attention wasn’t so much what was there, but what wasn’t there. The whole page was full of rocks in the foreground, and even a full moon in the sky, and the top of what appeared to be part of some tower shadowed in the background—the page was completely full in everyway, except for one little corner. Just behind the armored steroid grizzly, further inside the overhang, Steven couldn’t help but notice a spot that was completely blank. Not even a pencil smudge, just… nothing. The white paper of that one small spot sat as completely virgin as a brand new notebook, and Steven, for some reason, could not think for the life of him what actually should have been there.

Even when he drew something that had little to no thought behind it, and just simply drew whatever came out of impulse, he still would normally remember everything about it. He would have remembered simply for the sake that he usually remembered everything he ever saw. However, scanning through his head in everyway he could, he couldn’t think of what it was.

“Steve,” His mother’s voice pulled him from his thoughts, “you better get going or you’re gonna be late.”

Late? Right, school. Steven put the notebook back in the cabinet in its proper place, and closed the door, gesturing to it as if telling it and its contents to “stay.” He threw on his jacket and grabbed his loaded bag, and ran up the stairs and out the back door. He normally would have gone to the back corner of the yard and jumped the fence, but lost in his thoughts still, he simply went out the side gate instead.

He walked the two blocks back to Park Wood Secondary, crossing through the student parking lot, passing the presently closed library, down the hall and up the stairs to his locker. Steven’s mind floated across more thoughts than he could keep track of. Trying to figure out the strange dream from yesterday in class, trying to figure out the even stranger dream from last night that seemed to even leave him with battle scars, and now, trying to figure out what the deal was with that notebook.

He spun through his combination lock with reflex action and threw his jacket on its hook and his books in order of the hour they came in by habit. He then went down to his first class, art. He got to the room, the door was open already, but the teacher, Ms. Ealain, was off doing whatever teachers do when they’re not in class. Only one other student was there working on some painting, Steven didn’t remember what his name was, he knew he was an upper-classmen, but he never bothered talking to him for any reason.

Steven went to the storage cabinet assigned to him and began pulling the clay sculpture that he was halfway finished with and his paint supplies. The sculpture was a snake. He originally started it entirely to be a smartass—the teacher assigned them to work on clay sculptures, so he started rolling it into a long clay snake, like any kindergartener with Play-Doh knows how to do, but then he started adding more, and more detail to it, posing it so it coiled, and sat up right like it’s about to strike; etching very detailed scales and colored diamond designs down its back; smoothing out extended flaps off the sides of its head; stretching very thin fangs; as detailed as a snake of clay and paint could be.

It wasn’t long after he finished re-wetting his paint and started detailing the lines of a diamond down the snake’s back that a few under-classmen came in. Russ was someone that he started talking to near the end of last year. He happened to run into him in the library while Russ was messing around on a computer. They started talking about nothing, mostly mindless commentary about the present state of the music played on radio—the mindlessness of it alone actually amused Steven.

This year, Russ and Steven shared a couple of electives, and as a result Russ introduced Steven to a few friends that he pretty much grew up with and also shared the class with. There was Jennifer, who seemed to have some odd new-wave-alternative-punk-grunge thing going on with her shaved hair, flannel shirt over cartoon character tee, and safety-pinned shoes—despite any first thoughts, she had a boyfriend, so clearly she wasn’t a lesbian. And there was Jamie, who was normally a fine person to talk to about anything, until someone somehow brought something about religion into a conversation, and then suddenly she was bent on saving them all. And finally, there was Lynne, who Steven couldn’t help but feel some draw to, and not just because she was cute, because even Jennifer was cute in her own shaved-head sort of way. However, Lynne came with a considerably more troubled life that seemed to always draw Steven in, more out of a need to try to help her than any physical attraction to her—although, she also had a boyfriend.

The four continued whatever projects they were working on and started going on about whatever topic that Steven was finding himself only half paying attention to. The other half of his attention seemed to still be more lost on the earlier events of the day and night. He started thinking about that small man from his dream. The one that looked like a guy somehow had a baby with a dragonfly and made… that. What did he call himself? Beag? Did things usually name themselves in a dream? That seemed to be a first as far as Steven could think of, which would be among the many details he would try to look into when he visited the library at lunch.

Just as he was sorting through his mental list of things he needed to look into involving the dreams and the small winged man, Steven notices something small quickly move out of the corner of his vision. He looked over across the room where he saw something with what looked like small shinny wings fluttering quickly behind an easel. Steven looked at the windows on the exterior wall behind him to see if any of them were left open, that maybe some insect might have gotten in through. All the windows were sealed shut.

He heard a rustling sound coming from behind the easel, that he couldn’t help but think was similar to what he heard in his cabinet at home earlier. He stared in wait for another glimpse of whatever was over there.

“Oh, my God, Steve, are you ok?” Steven was pulled out of his trance at the easel by Jennifer’s panicked voice.

“What…”

“Your arm—it’s bleeding. What’d you do?” she gestured at his cut arm that seemed to be now flowing as if it was just newly formed and began to darkly redden his black sleeve.

“What the heck, dude, what’d you do?” Russ put in.

“I… don’t know. I got a scratch from something while I was sleeping—“

“That’s more than just a scratch,” Jennifer said while dropping whatever she was working on to the table and getting up. She returned shortly with a handful of paper-towels. “Let me see that,” she said as she grabbed his arm without choice, forcing the paint brush from his hand, and slowly rolled back his sleeve to expose the rest of the cut.

“Oh, my—I can’t look at that,” Lynne said getting up as if she was about to be sick, quickly went over to Ms. Ealain’s desk and began talking to her, frantically pointing back in his direction.

“What did you do?” Jamie added on top of everyone else’s identical question.

Steven started getting frustrated with everyone being overdramatic about nothing, “I told you, I scratched—“ What the hell did I do to my arm?

Steven looked down at what Jennifer had revealed beneath his sleeve. It was very clearly way more than a scratch. Although, it was clearly just a scratch when he woke-up with it mysteriously there, and he was pretty sure it even was during breakfast. Now, however, it was a rather deep, flowing gash.

Jennifer placed a wad of the towels on the wound with enough pressure to pin his arm to the table, but the towels soaked up blood faster than she could attempt to stop it. Steven looked over and saw Lynne returning with Ms. Eelain in tow. As he watched them approach they seemed to start becoming blurry, and then he started hearing a strange high-pitched sound from somewhere in the distance.

He looked back at Jennifer disposing of a dripping wad and grabbing a new batch—the sound seemed to be getting closer, and the edges of his vision started getting dark. He saw Jennifer look up at him with panic on her face and reached out for him in slow-motion.

“Rohe? Rohe, are you awake?” Steven heard directly in his ear as something small poked at his cheek.

Steven groaned, and slowly opened his eyes. He was lying on the ground of a small tunnel lit with a dim, white-green glow that seemed to emanate from the root covered walls and roof. “What… where am I?” Steven uttered as he tried to get up before being forced back down by a pounding in his head.

“Oh, good. I was beginning to believe I had lost you to the permanent sleep, Rohe.” Beag said as he fluttered and landed on Steven’s chest, “You must have fallen into a patch of codlata vine, it cut into your arm really badly and left its bad juices in you.”

Steven lifted his arm and noticed it was wrapped with a cast of leaves, “Codlata…?”

“Yes, but don’t worry, Rohe. I covered the wound with solas syrup,” Beag pointed at the glowing walls, and Steven noticed for the first time that the glowing spots were moving, “They mix their own magic with the tree’s and make the syrup very good for healing almost anything.”

Steven lifted the leaf cast against its binds to peak under, and what he distinctly remembered being a blood flowing gash was now just a red jagged line covered with shiny goo. He replaced the leaves upon his still slightly tender wound, and began examining the rest of him. The clothing he was wearing was composed of mostly sleeveless rags made of what felt like some sort of very crudely processed cotton, with his feat wrapped in the same material.

As he tried moving around, he noticed that his skin felt stiff, as if it was completely caked with some dried up grime. Steven began brushing himself off, and paused as he noticed in the dim light, that the flakes of grime had a tinge of dark red—dried blood. It was covering him, as he touched his face, everywhere, as if he was not long ago drenched in it. “This can’t all be my blood, can it?”

“Oh, no, I’m afraid that no amount of solas syrup can ever heal him again, Rohe,” Beag responded with a cynical grin, “That’s what remains of the Loostrem you destroyed.”

NaNoWriMo Day 3

NaNoWriMo Day 3 (Photo credit: mpclemens)

This will be brief, but basically I’m just letting anyone (assuming you exist) that follows the blog that there will be a one month break coming for the blog and pretty much anything else. And, in relation, this is also to encourage anyone that has even the slightest of writing twinge running through them to take this opportunity to accept the NaNoWriMo Challenge.

On the date of November 1st every year, the challenge to write a novel of 50,000 words with in the month begins. Many authors accept this challenge, some fail, some succeed, but no matter what, you will come away from it learning something about your writing, and for those seeking a path in it, you will come away with an idea of where to go from here. This reason is why I encourage absolutely everyone who has the desire to write novels, but hasn’t worked up the courage to do it yet, needs to take this challenge… this is where you will start.

If you take the challenge and don’t complete it, don’t let that discourage you, instead, look at what you actually did finish, then move it forward, and finish it. Granted, I’ve never finished the challenge, and so far all my attempts are sitting in the to-be-worked pile, so I’m not really an example to look at—basically, I’m great at giving advice, but I’m horrible at taking my own advice.

So, as I said, the challenge is simple. The moment November 1st hits, you start writing. November is a 30 day month, that’s 30 days to finish a beginning, middle, and end of at least 50,000 words. If you write a minimum of 1,667 words every single day of November, you will finish exactly on time. It is encouraged by most NaNo enthusiasts that you try for at least 3,000 words a day to give you that extra bit of breathing room, and space for writer’s block to hit and pass.

So, if you’re gonna try it, then let me know about it, and let me know how you do in the end, share your experiences and pass on what you learn. Let me know what kind of story you write.

I’ll maybe post my results later, or at least fragments of it (assuming that I actually finish it). Mine is going to be the release of a steampunk story that’s been building up for awhile. I have a lot of stuff floating around in my head for it right now, and have been for a couple of months now, so I’m presently more confident in my ability to complete this year than I have ever been. For those on my FB or Twitter, I’ll be giving updates to my progress, but that about all I’ll be posting for the entire month.

As for things here, I have no reviews in mind at the moment, so I doubt I’ll be getting anymore of those in right now, but for ‘Natural Selection,’ I’ll try to get Part 13 written and posted before this month ends. Everyone still make sure you’re voting during NaNo (unless you’re writing, then get the hell off my blog, and get to work!), but Part 14 won’t be written or even thought about until December.