Tag Archives: Dominique Goodall
Not sure on the title for this piece, but it’s the short story for February, theme of dystopia. I really enjoyed this month’s challenge, which means I’ll likely continue this piece at my own pace! Challenges will resume this week, but for now – enjoy this piece of writing! I loved writing it!
It doesn’t matter where I go. They can always see where I walk, who I talk to. The emotions I feel aren’t even safe. I’m paranoid, but only because the government have driven me to it. They even decide, thanks to the loose, but not too loose, metal collar around my throat, what time I should be indoors. I’d not be surprised if they even monitored what food I’d eaten that day. I’d often had less than nutritious cravings vanish without me biting into a single, fatty pastry or piece of chocolate. I didn’t understand why they saw us as cattle for them to rear in the way they decided. I hated it though. It wasn’t a life, I knew it. I had family who were free once. Free, but no longer.
I was a number without a name in their database. To my family and friends, my name is Shannon. To those who mattered, my number shows clearly on my collar for all to see. 134-546-6734. Try remembering that at a young age – when your teacher at school refuses to call you by anything else. It was because of school that I was walking around now…or that was the excuse I’d use if I happened across one of the NSG. The Night Safety Guard were able to use any brutal force they wished on citizens caught out of their section. My section was the western most flat block. I was in the north east sector, walking quickly, my head down. I didn’t need them to catch me now. I just wanted to get home.
If it wasn’t for the stupid school, I could have been there now. I could have been eating a lovely dinner, nutritionally balanced, of course. More vegetable products than I could bear to eat, a slab of boiled grey meat and something akin to boiled potatoes. I hated it. It was bland. The vegetables were either overcooked and watery, or undercooked – tough and cold to chew. I hastened along now, my head dipping forward so my short hair, a mix of brown and blonde that wasn’t one or the other, covered my face. The thought of food had made my stomach ache, reminding me how long it had been since I’d last eaten.
I passed a dark alleyway, not even darting a look down into it. Dark people lingered down there, almost enticingly free of the metal wrapping around my neck. I breathe carefully. I give them no reason to come close to me. I don’t couldn’t let the NSG arrest me for breaking some rule I’ve never heard of. It made me cringe as I heard the ringing footsteps behind me. I wasn’t sure who it was. If I’d see the silver baton of a NSG, looking out for my safety or coming to arrest me, or if it was one of those who wandered the criminal underbelly, undetected. I didn’t lift my head to look. I didn’t hurry my steps. I gave them no reason to notice me, while expecting to find a fist in my hair.
I couldn’t hear anything as my heartbeat began to throb in my ears. I couldn’t even hear my own footsteps. My breathing was sawing in my chest. I was panicking. I bit back a whimper, sinking my teeth into my lip. I couldn’t even begin to think about where I was going, but I needed to stop. I made a show of pulling out my directions from my pocket. I then lifted my head, looking for one of the street signs that would point my way. The footsteps had halted, but I didn’t look behind me. They couldn’t think I knew they were there. My heart continued to race. The sweat on the back of my neck dried under my hair, and I almost forgot my troubles as I realised just how matted it would be.
Instead of complaining about my hair, I lifted my head upwards. I was standing under a streetlight, one of the few to remain. There were rumours that the NSG were sensitive to light, but I knew otherwise. The government didn’t have the money to keep the lights on all the time. As I hesitated about which way to go, I heard a cruel rumble of laughter from behind me.
“Looks like a little girl is lost…where are you going, sweetheart?” I sank my teeth into my lips before squaring my shoulders and straightening up. I turned on my heel, promising myself I wouldn’t act like a wimp.
“None of your business. I was just resting for a moment, that’s all.” I snapped the answer back, the gnawing pit in my stomach telling me how stupid I’d been.
“Well aren’t you a confident one? Don’t you know what roams this street could curl your hair and turn it grey before your time?” I’d already noticed that he didn’t wear the same collar I did. His was larger. He had no numbers stamped onto the thick metal. Where mine was loose, I could see the light gleaming off shiny scars – ridges of them, building up towards his chin. I wanted to wince, to show sympathy. Some gut instinct told me that he would see it as pity. Hardly anyone wore the old collars. They were prototypes, punishments reserved for the most heinous of crimes. Staring into his eyes, I knew I should have run. I could still have time to – but I didn’t want to show how scared he made me feel. I wiped my clammy palms down my trousers before lifting my chin defiantly.
“I don’t care. I’m not going to be out much longer, anyway. So why don’t you leave me alone?”
I didn’t expect the low chuckle, warmer this time. He stepped closer, his cold grey eyes seeming to warm a little as he looked at me.
“With fire like that in your stomach, I don’t think you’ll do too badly here. But let me walk you. The NSGs see you alone, they will take you. You don’t want one of these.” He rapped on his collar, the metal ringing out dimly. I could see where his flesh was beginning to grow onto the metal. I winced a little before he watched me. Now he was closer, I could see that the corner of his eyes lined with laughter, and that he didn’t seem so rough. Even with the fading remnants of inked designs on his arms. I knew I shouldn’t, but I nodded.
“I’m looking for building 157 in the north east. I’ve gotta give a message and pick something up.”
He nodded, but I sidestepped when he came close. I still wasn’t going to let him get close enough to grab me. He sighed, but I didn’t care how much I hurt his feelings. It was a hard world – one made worse by the government. They made sure we were under control, and much as I hated it – I was no different. They had conditioned me to not accept the aid of one man – simply because the hunk of metal around his neck told me he caused trouble. I dropped my eyes guiltily as he led me along, taking a direct route that was mostly lit up. The pools of light were where he hesitated, looking around for some unknown landmark.
I was sure by the end of today, I’d have frown marks permanently embedded in my forehead. I’d be old before my time, and all because my teacher was too lazy to go home. I wanted to say something now, but the only person I could speak to was the man walking just out of reach, in utter silence. I opened my mouth to speak once – before hesitating and shaking my head.
“Just spit it out, will you?” He didn’t snap the words out, like I would have. He spoke gently, almost like he cared about me.
“What’s your number?” I knew better than to stop and talk. Already, I was expecting to have to make a report to someone. I’d broken curfew and the boundary where I should be of an evening. If I lingered too much, they might send an AVR out to find me.
AVRs were nothing to snort at, either. Armoured Vehicle Response has to be the last thing I ever wanted to be involved with. They tranquilised first, asked questions later. A lot later.
“I don’t have one. They wiped me from the system after I upgrade to this beauty.” He knocked again on the hollow collar, and now I looked, I could see a darkness to his eyes. Darkness that spoke of evil deeds done. I swallowed softly before lifting my chin.
“What did you do to get one of those?” It was a question from the gut. I hadn’t wanted to ask it – and yet I knew it was the right thing to do. I just had to know – now, rather than later. He stopped in front of a tall building, and looked up.
“Here. Building 157, as you asked. I’ll wait here for you, then walk you back to your area. Hurry now. AVRs patrol here. This isn’t a nice place to be.” I snorted at his words as I entered the block of flats. I was hoping the elevator worked. My teacher lived on the fifth floor, and I didn’t want to climb all of those stairs. That was just asking for me to be too exhausted to even walk back to the tiny room I call home. My stomach called out for food, and I pressed into it with my free hand for a moment as I pushed the button on the ancient rickety lift. I held my breath until lights gleamed. I could have danced with the relief of knowing I didn’t have to walk. I stepped inside, wrinkling my nose at the smell inside.
This place must have truly been a punishment. It was worse than where I lived. That was saying something. I lived in a nasty area, where criminal activity was rife. Most of them wore collars however. Collared and permanently cuffed with trackers and ways to stop any undesirable behaviour. I wasn’t impressed. I’d never been tempted to be a part of one of the gangs, going around and antagonising any of the guards. I waited patiently for the elevator to rise the five floors, ignoring the shuddering and trembling. I knew that it would get there, it was just a sluggish thing.
The lights dipped and I held my breath, gasping as I clutched the mirrored edges of the elevator and waited. Please…please don’t go out now…I wouldn’t be able to escape. I bit my lip, chewed it until I could taste the sharp rust of my own blood. I growled under my breath as I shook my head. Stretching upwards, I touched the low ceiling for reassurance. This wasn’t a small box, caving in on me. This was a piece of machinery that had lasted centuries, repaired and upgraded where needed.
Finally, the lights flicked back on. The doors whooshed open, sliding apart smoothly – as though they had never caused me a worry. I sighed as I stepped free, leaving the bobbing box behind me. I knew this wouldn’t be easy. I had her key, but I didn’t want anyone to accuse me of breaking in. This mattered too much to my teacher for that. I blew a breath out, lifting a sweaty strand of hair that threatened to bother me. I found her door, marked with her number – 167-547-6975. I knew it well, stared at it every day I was in class. Her key worked fine, though the door creaked open. I cringed, closing my eyes, recoiling. This was too loud.
A stench came from within. A horrible smell making me gag. Stealing my breath. Thick and cloying enough to coat my tongue, so I could taste it. I hesitated to enter. I wasn’t sure I could do this. I wished, with all my heart that I could walk away. That I could turn, go home. That I wasn’t alone with the sickly sweet scent, like a warning. Like a creature I’d heard tales of in the past. I pulled the neck of my issued top over my nose, trying to filter out the smell as we filtered our water. Stepping inside, I cleared my throat slowly.
“Hello? Is there anyone in?”
I was hoping that there’d be no reply, but I knew my luck was awful. Why would this, now, have to be any different?
“Third door on the left. She said you were coming.” I wondered how, but I soon remembered that adults received chips that transformed their info-tabs into phones. I moved forward reluctantly, dipping my head forward. “Come on, girl! I don’t have all day!” The thought that it was night hovered on the tip of my tongue. The next was that his voice seemed to change. From croaking to easier, as if he’d cleared his throat. I shook my head a little, opening the door with no small amount of trepidation.
“Come on then! Where I can look at you, or are you too much of a wimp to come and see me?” He offered me a challenge I couldn’t deny. I stepped forward, the fire in my heart flaring fresh. I wanted to snap, to shout. Only respect for my elders stopped me.
“I’m no wimp, sir. I just came to give you a message. Your daughter just told me to let you know that she has a meeting with her friends tonight. And she asked me to collect her overnight bag.” I stood upright, back straight and chin jutting forward stubbornly.
There was humour in his eyes. He was wrinkled, deeply so. It looks as though his eyes were disappearing into the loose flesh about his cheeks. His jowls hung low, hiding the thin snaking metal that no doubt tracked his movements as surely as mine tracked me. I didn’t think he moved much, however. Despite the wrinkles that spoke of an opulent lifestyle, he seemed gaunt, lacking something in the face. No matter what I did, he wasn’t going to look happy. There was a sad look to him. It was almost as though someone had forgotten him. I felt ashamed. I didn’t like how he seemed forgotten. There should be a pride in reaching old age, especially in a place that seemed festooned with mould and damp.
“Well done for speaking up, young lady. Now…what’s your name?” I caught a glimpse of something in his eyes. A sharpness, glimmering deep within those pale, pale orbs.
“134-546-6734.” I spoke crisply. I knew he meant that, he had to. There was no way anyone else could ask if I had a real name. I knew I didn’t have one. Well, not one that anyone would know. I was a number. We all were.
“Your name, not your number, child.” His words were harsh. I cringed back from them, not sure if I even dared to speak. “Now, before I die in front of you.” He gave me no chance to say no.
“Shannon…” I spoke carefully. I spoke reluctantly. I knew there was no way he could help me if something changed, or if someone came after me.
I’d admitted to a cardinal sin. I knew the punishment. We all did. We had it drummed into our heads from the moment we went to school at five until the day we died. I could have spoken the rules in my sleep. It didn’t mean I believed them, had to follow them. I did everything I could to keep my head down, so no one knew – but this old man had wrinkled my name from me in moments. He held me with his glazed glare, the wrinkles in his head giving his skin the appearance of a pile of folded towels.
“So do you want to know how to avoid get a ATC or not? Speak up, I’m deaf!” He barked words at me, and forced me to answer. I couldn’t refuse an answer to that tone.
ATCs were the first level of punishment, and the least invasive. Activity Tracking Collars worked by connecting special wires to all of your limbs. If you moved away from your designated zone, you would experience an electric shock that would knock you out. It was the easiest punishment. The next level involved cuffs around your ankles that locked together and stopped you in your tracks, would make you vulnerable to anyone walking by. The third was the worst, to my mind. You disappeared. There was no record of you even existing. No one knew what happened when you vanished, but no one ever mentioned you again. Even your family didn’t seem upset. I was a wimp, when everything came down to it. The thought of pain, of hurting – why would I even want to do that to myself? But to lose myself entirely? To vanish? I didn’t want that.
“Yes please, sir. I have this pass from my teacher, but – I don’t know what I can do. Please, tell me?”
I tried to speak clearly, but I was afraid that fear had lodged my tongue against the roof of my mouth. That I had lost my voice, simply because I couldn’t even bring myself to look at him. He seemed to settle back in against his flat pillows, reeking of old person and the cabbage they fed us every meal. I sighed softly, shaking my head as I clenched my fists, digging my nails into my palms. I tried to force myself to relax, but his eyes moved, and I realised I was edging towards the door. I was moving toward my escape. I needed to get out of here. A sobbing breath rang out, and I shook my head when I realised the feeble sounds were coming from me. I was embarrassed, hating myself for being so weak.
“Scared, little girl? Well you should be. There’s a world out there, and it ain’t as pretty as you think.” I watched as spittle dribbled down his chin and tears sprang into my eyes. If this was what old age made you, then I wanted to die young. I didn’t want to be so bitter. “Ach, dry those tears. You need to be strong. Learn to have a spine and say what you feel.” I felt his eyes on me and flinched. I wished I’d had the courage to say no. He wiped his damp chin with the back of one skeletal hand, skin sagging. He looked like he was shrivelling, in front of my eyes, and I hated it. This wasn’t how I wanted to live. I had been happy.
Had been happier. It would end up being the story of my life, or so I feared. Instead of speaking, he began to laugh. A guttural laugh that led to him coughing. After coughing, he began to choke and I ran. I couldn’t be there. Even as I fumbled with the door, breaking a nail, I heard him gasp for breath. There was a rattle in his chest that terrified me – but not as much as the sound of screaming bells outside. I sobbed a breath before running for the door at the end of the corridor. I forgot everything but to escape. For the NSG to be here would mean that he had died. His collar would have reported his failing life-stats. I knew it, we all did. And I was responsible for him dying, because I hadn’t even used the compulsory first aid taught to us to save lives.
The bells grew louder as I forced myself through the door. My lungs burned, tears scalded my cheeks. The muscles in my legs threatened not to work, until I was stumbling down ten flights of stairs. I knew I wasn’t going fast enough. The only way I would go faster would be to fall – and then they would catch me. This fear was too much for me. I stopped, somewhere near the bottom and retched. I gagged until bile soured my throat and splattered on the ground. I’d killed a man. They would make me disappear. I didn’t run any faster. Simply by being there, I’d incriminated myself. I was the one who was in the wrong. I had shown myself to be a guilty party. My collar would let them know I’d been there when he died.
A hand covered my mouth as someone tugged me into the shadows. The hand stifled a scream as I slipped from a step and my ankle. Tears built again in my eyes as the taste of my own vomit made me gag again. The hand loosened as a low voice rumbled in my ear.
“Stay still. They’re looking for you, but if you stay still, I’ll do what I can to keep you safe. It’s what she would have wanted.” He cursed behind me. I paid no attention to what he said then. The question of who ‘she’ was instead made me frown. I had to question him.
“Who would want me-” I was hushed again, his hand smothering my mouth, my words lost to his palm. I felt him fumbling with one hand at the back of my neck.
The collar snicked…before slipping from around my neck. I felt naked without it. One hand lifted to my throat, stroking the skin that felt roughened. I brushed my fingers across the flesh before I felt cold metal slipping over my neck and tightening a little. I was ready to gag, but then I realised that this wasn’t my number. I couldn’t feel the familiar embossed edges, sharp enough to slice my fingers. I lifted my eyes to the man who had escorted me, but he was doing something weird with my old collar. The metal had wires sticking out from either end, and he was twisting different coloured ones together. I heard the quiet snick of a door opening and my breath caught in my throat.
I would have cried out, but the door shut and I let go of his shirt. He nodded at me, unable to smile. He seemed worn, exhausted. I spoke in a whisper, hidden inside the echoing shadows of a stairwell.
“Who is she? Please tell me? And…why did you even save me? I’ve…I’ve done wrong. Too much wrong.” I was about to break down. I could feel a lump in my throat. I wanted to leave, wanted to go back to this afternoon. Wanted to say no to the teacher who taught me the most important of things – how to survive in this world.
“Your mother. Before she died, when you were no taller than my knee. She told me I had to watch out for you.” He spoke quietly, but not in a whisper any longer. He seemed to know something I didn’t – but it was the mention of my mother.
She’d died when I was five. I had been at a friend’s house, learning to spell and read. When she’d not picked me up, her friend had alerted my father and the DSG. The Day Security Guards had found her dead, her wrists slit in the kitchen. Suicide. The least preventable death, as the body released nothing until blood began to drain away, too fast to halt. My dad allowed me to say goodbye. To kiss her blood-smeared cheeks. I didn’t cry. I didn’t understand then why her cheek was pale and her eyes open, staring. I didn’t know why she was cold – I just remember turning to my daddy and telling him to give mommy a blanket, as she was going to get a cold. I must have been nine or ten before I realised that she was dead, and that was when I started worrying about the collar I wore.
“How…how did you even know her?”
“She was my younger sister, she wasn’t even meant to be here. There are places…outside this place. Small cities, where you don’t need a collar. Where you can talk to anyone you want. I only came here with her because she met your father, and fell in love. Otherwise, I’d never have this thing on.” He kept his voice low as he rapped his knuckles against the metal that he had lodged in his skin. I flinched and shook my head, wincing. It was…my fault? Was that what he meant?
“So…why don’t I know you? Why can’t I remember you?” I was practically pleading with him at this point. I didn’t have a clue how to get away from where I was – or even if he was lying to me. It was possible, I knew.
The frantic beats of my heart must have done something to the collar around my throat, as I heard a frantic beating, muffled by his soft curse.
“Don’t tell them you saw me. Just say – someone threatened you. When you can, come to this place.” I didn’t know where he meant – I hoped he didn’t mean here. I’d never be coming back here again. He forced a piece of dirty tissue was forced into my clenched fist as he leaned forward and kissed my head. I startled back, but he simply ran his hand over my hair before fleeing. I waited for the sound of a call or boots thumping on the ground. Nothing happened bar a shout from above me, and I wrapped my arms around my legs and prepared for them to take me away.
In the eyes of the law, which I knew as well as any other citizen, I’d committed murder. I closed my eyes and tipped my face upwards. I just hoped – whatever they did to me didn’t hurt. That I could once again walk the dingy, cracked pavement that was my home. I wanted to find this man who called himself my uncle, and see what he had to say for himself. It seemed like he’d woken something inside of me. Maybe – there was a cat-like curiosity within me…and I’d have to reign that in the whole time that they interrogated me. After all, if there was a way for me to escape this collar, judging every little thing I did, everything I said – then I would take it.
Shard is a gryfon entrusted with a great responsibility. A dragon of the Sunland has left her newborn kit to his care, and now Shard has difficult decisions to make about how best to keep the swiftly growing dragonet safe, while remaining true to his own destiny and the prophecy of the Summer King. He sets out to return the dragonet to his kin in the Sunland and find help for his own quest, but his hope for making wise and benevolent allies is quickly replaced with the reality of cold, mistrustful dragons who want nothing to do with gryfons, Shard, or his wars in warmer lands.
In the Silver Isles, the warrior gryfon Caj sets out on a dangerous hunt for his mad wingbrother, Sverin, once the mighty Red King. The safety of the pride, and in the end, Caj’s life, may depend on his success or failure.
Meanwhile, Shard’s wingbrother Kjorn seeks to find him and reconcile, and his quest will take him across the land that was once his birthright and into the heart of tricky alliances, enmities, and the ever-looming threat of the Voiceless, fear-mongering wyrms.
The Song of the Summer King promises that one will rise higher, one will see farther, and his wing beats will part the storm . . . but as Shard learns more of the world and the tangled threads of fate, he begins to fear that no one can part the storm of growing hatred and fear–not even a Summer King.
A Shard of Sun does what the previous two books have promised (and delivered). It brings you deeper into the Silver Isles and even Sunland. You learn more about the deepest secrets of Sverin…about the Dragons and the wyrms. Besieged by darkness, can Shard truly do as he promises, and fly high? Kjorn is seeking Shard in the Sunland, with the Nameless again named. Shard is the only one who can bring together all the species – gryfon, eagle, painted dog. They gather in his name, in his honour. When it comes down to it, will Shard find his path through the stars?
There is even an amazing twist for certain characters. The wolves of the Silver Isles feature in this book more than in Sunfire. Catori, my personal favorite, shows herself briefly, but I love the way that Jess Owen has managed to advance the storyline without sacrificing the characters that I personally have come to love. The dragons are revealed to be entirely different to what you expect – there is a unique slant on them that I cannot help but love.
If I could, this would receive 10/10, but for now, 5/5 will suffice! Get the rest of these books as soon as you can – I’m waiting eagerly for the next book already!
A Shard of Sun is available on Kindle on March 14th, 2015!
Yes. I missed posting last week, as needed a week off from this challenge! Not because it’s boring, but because it’s truly challenging me to think in different ways (and I kinda hit a small slump >.<). But, cracking on with the challenge – this week was, again, from the Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide To Creating Imaginative Fiction. Page 25, this week, as chosen by Jennifer Don. This was a doozy of a challenge. A picture prompt, nothing to really learn – bar writing from a prompt, I guess! This was just entirely different for me…a fun, short, flash fiction more than anything else, however. So – without further ado – the challenge (and prompt)!
If suddenly confronted by an image like this from Jugend magazine (c 1900), could you create a story about it? Write one right now.
You can see it’s hard, right? Well this is what I came up with – and think….1600s/1700s for the time in this. Or….Victiorian Britain. That works rather well!
He reclined, shoulders back, against a wavering tower of books, already searched through for answers. Not the smallest of men, Sir Benjamin Cherry rested his fists on his ample hips. Scurvy, his cockatoo and Scrumpy, his parrot fluttered down, landing on his shoulder and arm respectively. He was frowning, the birds quivering with fear. The reason – this unknown taxidermy-preserved creature, currently menacing him from the corner. It was almost like some kind of wild hybrid, of unbelievable proportions. The body was that of a fish, absurdly spotted. Set in some heavy stone, the creature also bore wings, as spotted as the body – matching those of a bat. Absurdly swollen, it looked about to burst, and he was pretty sure that was what was happening. Perhaps the heat had caused something to ferment inside…
Two days later, he still stood in the same place, though now joined with another three towering piles of books. Nothing had compared to what he had read. No creature, real or imagined, matched the unrealistic proportions of the one he had in front of him. He wandered closer, picking up one of the quills he’d been using to make notes. ‘This’ll make a good tool to check on it…I’m pretty sure, anyway. It had better not be Sir Thomas and Sir Barry poking fun at me again!’ He would be sure to wager against them next time they were sure to use. Turning to make sure both birds still remained safely tucked away behind bars, he drew in a deep breath before tentatively poking the flesh of the creature. He recoiled back.
There was no boom. No bang. No pop, to make his birds keel over of terror. Instead, he observed, through weary eyes…the creature losing air. A squeak, long, loud and shrill rang out. He pulled back, believing it to be some sort of incendiary device, until it moved again. It sagged, an empty sack on the ground, leaving behind an awful smell of rotting fish. He snorted, using a handkerchief tucked in his pocket and scented, to protect his sense of smell. He saw, pinned to the back of one of those wings, now loose from the fish flesh.
I truly hope you enjoyed the look at the world’s fast spotted flying fish.
Remember, take care of it! No sharp objects.
This fish can truly fly, but they are particularly vulnerable to damage.
I return in a fortnight.
Of course…Sir Benjamin had no option except to curse, loudly and fluidly, in a manner that did not suit his station as a noble sir.
Of course – this is why I dislike this challenge. It was rather limiting, in my opinion – however – why not join in? Come and have a go, and join me here next week for another challenge!
So, it’s Wednesday…and that means a challenge to be posted! This was through the Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction again, this time working around the idea of hooks! How do you hook a reader? Do you go before the ‘main event’, during it or afterwards? How do you create any tension? It was interesting to read the chapter, as hooks are important in books. I’m now not too sure on what I’ve come up with…but it’s 11pm and I’m getting tired! 😀 This was chapter THREE of the Wonderbook, which makes the journey through this book much skipped through!
Even if your scene starts with a scene as intense as a giant squid attacking a ship, you still have decisions to make about what to emphasize and not emphasize.
Using this image by John Coulthart, plan the opening of a novel entitled, ‘Krakens Attack at Dawn.’
You’ll need to know who your main characters are, and the context for the scene pictured – when and where does it occur, and why does the beast attack? Then list possible ways to begin the scene that change the emphasis. For example, do you begin with the beast being sighted, the attack underway, a few minutes before the attack, or…? What do we see first, second and third? Provide an explanation for why each opening might be effective. Then come back to your list after you’ve finished reading this chapter. Has your perspective about what might work changed? If so, how?
This was NOT an easy challenge. Not at all. I don’t even know if I did it right….but oh well! I’m doing my best, but some of these challenges are kinda tough! Get ready to be wowed by my extraordinary skills in creative writing…when I’m exhausted!
Krakens Attack at Dawn.
Three main characters. Kraken, John Smith and Boris Bobson
Kraken is attacking under the command of Boris Bobson. Boris wants the ships that John Smith owns. He sees nothing wrong with sacrificing the one ship that John Smith is on in order to get what he wants. John Smith has his own Kraken army, but he won’t bring them into play unless he knows there’s really a problem or chance of his death. As dawn approaches on the third morning since John left port, the seas boil around his ship and the first reaching tentacles reach towards the wooden planks…
Beginning with the attack will bring the reader straight into the tension, straight into the action and the hook of the story.
First thing to be seen with the attack would be the ship sailing on water what is beginning to stir. The second would be the first reaching tentacles. The third, a lone figure calling the alarm.
Beginning before the attack would give the reader a little bit of backstory before the attack begins, creating a mood of anticipation.
A single man, calling to the waters, calling forth a kraken marked with *one colour*. Second scene would be ships pointed out in the distance. Third would be the kraken and man making an agreement.
After the attack would create mystery and get the reader asking questions. Something which is needed sometimes.
A ship splintered into pieces. People clinging to the pieces. Tentacles disappearing into the water.
As usual, feel free to take part if you can – and even understand this. I don’t…so who knows if you do! Definitely not my favorite challenge. It was tough, and I don’t mind admitting that!
STAR CROSSED Series
Book 3 – Winter of Discontent
The art of deception will lead back to the truth.
After experiencing a little bump in the road, Kayla and Kaleb are stronger than ever. But they are about to encounter their biggest challenge yet.
Kaleb is determined to teach Kayla the art of teleporting her body safely from one place to another. However, her frustration lands her in a parallel life. Much to his dismay, he discovers she’s traded places with an even sassier version of herself, and her alter ego is on a mission to seduce him.
Meanwhile, Kayla discovers her mistake, and is now faced with fighting off the advances of a Kaleb whose dark desires spark an answering interest inside of her. Determined to remain faithful to the true Kaleb who shares her heart, she must use deception to escape in order to return to her correct time.
Will these star-crossed lovers be able to deceive their alter egos long enough to set things right, or will they get lost in their baser desires?
Kayla closed her eyes, and brought her Light energy closer to the surface. Her body hummed, and a smile graced her lips.
Kaleb’s voice broke her concentration. “Focus.”
Irritation disturbed the peace that had transcended over her, and she cracked one hazel eye open. Kaleb Warner stood a few feet from her, ever the patient teacher and friend. His green eyes sparkled from under the rim of the black wool hat covering his bald head.
He stomped his feet on the spot to warm up, and clapped his gloved hands together, speaking in the same gentle rumble she’d come to know and love. “A friendly reminder.” He crossed his arms over his chest, the action bunching up the white parka he’d donned in order for them to train in her backyard on the calm, wintry day.
“I know,” she grumbled. “But I like how it feels when I summon my energy like that. It tickles.” A small giggle escaped, and she puffed out a breath, watching as it made a cloud of steam in the cold air, then disappeared. She lifted her arms to the side. “I feel free.”
“I hear you,” he said, smiling, “but you need to clear your mind, and keep it devoid of all emotion and thought, even positive ones. Otherwise you’ll end up stuck in a tree again. Or a rock. Or the side of the house.”
An exasperated sigh escaped, and her smile vanished. Did he have to remind her of her trials and errors while learning to teleport again? Thankfully, she’d always managed to get out of whatever pickle she managed to get herself into, with his help, of course. Sometimes it bothered her that she needed his help at all. Due to a childhood incident where she’d hurt Kaleb, she’d blocked out some of her abilities, allowing fear to rule her heart.
He came to stand in front of her, brushing back a few strands of chestnut hair that had escaped from her grey, fuzzy cap keeping her head warm. Even with the layers of fabric of their winter outwear, when he rested his hands on her shoulders, she could feel the heat of his touch. She looked into his eyes, seeing love reflected back at her. “I want you to be able to do this at will,” he said. “It should be as automatic as breathing. When you can do this, it opens up a whole new world for you. You’ll be able to blend in with your surroundings like a chameleon, teleport vast distances in an instant. It’s amazing.” He placed a kiss to her forehead. “And the best part—we’ll be able to do it together some time.”
His words should have been a soothing balm to her soul. They weren’t. Kayla frowned, anger rising inside of her; anger for forgetting her powers, guilt over hurting her friend, and healing old wounds were still close to the surface. She wished she could get past things already, move forward. Healing could be a slow process, especially with wounds that cut so deep.
A tired groan emanated from her throat. “Can’t we take a break?”
Kaleb pulled back from her, one eyebrow raised. “We just started. Now—do it again. Tell me where your destination is going to be.” Snow crunched under his black boots as he stepped back.
Kayla rolled her eyes, receiving a stern look from him. Damn, pain in the ass. As good of a friend as he was, sometimes she wanted to shake him for being such a slave driver.
“I heard that.”
Of course, he did. They could read each other’s thoughts. In a fake show of defiance, she stuck her tongue out at him. His snort of laughter reached her ears, but she closed her eyes, jammed her toque down onto her head a little more, and blocked out everything as he’d taught her. “I’m reappearing over by the shed at the edge of the property.”
Summoning her Light energy to the surface once more, she merged her body and soul. With a pop, she disappeared, reappearing at her intended destination. She opened her eyes, and looked over at Kaleb. “I did it!”
This month’s writing challenge was potentially the hardest one I’ve ever experienced. Writing a utopia is hard work, not least because I can’t understand how a perfect world would work. I ended up regretfully having to go to my ‘fall back’ of writing an animal utopian city. The story is meant to exemplify what I wish would happen within the rescue world. I’m looking forward to this month’s challenge, however! Dystopia is something I’m pretty good with! (Yes, that’s this month’s challenge, and it WAS chosen at random.) And take a look at Jennifer’s own utopia, The False Perfection. She did a much better job than me!
“Can’t we go outside to play?” The trio of pups begging would have softened the hardest of hearts, but I wasn’t buying. With a hiss, I swiped at them, claws retracted so the blows wouldn’t hurt. They were young, they didn’t know what generations of our kind had gone through outside of these walls. I backed them away from the exit I guarded. When they moved out my way, I uttered a low growl that had them quivering in their brindled coats.
“Please, Miss Shenai, don’t tell our ma!” I wasn’t as soft as any old dog – but those wide brown eyes did seem to swim with apology.
“Maybe I can make an exception, this time.” I couldn’t hold back the purr in my voice before they converged on me. Small whimpers and wagging tails assaulted me. They beat me into submission before I could finish what I was saying. They weren’t getting away with this entirely. “But…you have to go and talk to Apollo and Banjo. You want to know why we can’t leave here, they remember why.” I fought back a laugh at their identical looks of despair. If I had been them, I wouldn’t have much enjoyed a visit to the old tortoise and parrot. I didn’t give in though. “It’s either talk to them, or I go and see Sprite. Your ma will not be pleased to find you are trying to leave safety.”
I ignored their scoffing sounds of disbelief. We all knew what it had once been like. I knew that only the unlikely pair of friends remained of those that had lived through what had happened. I stood and padded delicately at the flat rocks below us, using my blunt nose to push the puppies along. Humans passed us, splitting to either side to allow us space to pass. I mewed my thanks and received the odd, lingering stroke. The puppies led the way, no longer as interested in me as the people around them. Time was passing by, and like the litter of kittens I had in my stomach, they would go off to their humans soon, to live in happiness until they passed this world for the next.
Our little procession wasn’t unnoticed. Soon, the tom I had mated with walked at my side, his ginger-pelted frame shiny with health. I purred at him, my side brushing against his velvet-soft fur.
“Where do you take the pups, Shenai?” He always spoke so casually. It made my cream coat bristled against the air. I smiled at him, taking my time. I didn’t need to worry, or hurry as the humans watched us go by.
“To see Apollo and Banjo. They wanted to leave the city, Magus.” His face wrinkled a little before he sighed.
“So that’s why you take them then? To go and see those crazy creatures?” His purr was a soft laugh, even though there was a worry in his green eyes.
I nodded. Magus understood me. He understood what I was doing with the pups. They needed to know just how important our small world was. Just why it was that we didn’t leave, why no one wanted to leave. They wouldn’t understand until then. I realised we were almost at the home where the pair were looked after. I could hear soft songs coming from Banjo, his wings beating the air. I laughed, padding to the front as the pups hesitated. I butted my head against them in turn, my tail swatting gently from side to side.
“Come, learn why it is we all live in peace. We all came to these two as pups and kittens ourselves.”
The group around us, the honour-guard slipped away. Magus watched for a moment longer, before giving a bow I was impressed with. I’d remember that, next time. I purred and dipped my head at my sometimes mate. I had a duty to do – a duty that these pups would one day perform themselves. I stepped forward, the pups at my hips. My stomach was beginning to protrude, and perhaps they knew. They weren’t as crazy as normal. As hyperactive, and loopy. I smiled at them, rasping my tongue across my lips before letting out a low mewl. Apollo stuck his head out from his shell, his wizened, leathery old face seeming surprised to see me.
“My…Shenai. How…you’ve…grown.” His voice was soft, halting. I purred, walking forward smoothly. I felt the bated breath of the pups behind me as I rubbed my head against the hard edges of his shell. A beak tugged gently at my ear as I lifted my head, purring under my breath.
“What Apollo means to say is that you are a very beautiful queen, Shenai. A queen among queens, if he had his favourites. What can we do for you?” I loved how accommodating these two were. I circled round to herd the pups forward, towards the pair, speaking the whole time softly.
“These pups need to learn our history. As you once told me, will you now tell them?” I was polite. One day, these old creatures wouldn’t be here to tell us all that had happened. We would have to tell each other the stories. As the pups sat and sprawled down, I sat sedately upright. I did as I needed to, as any guard, as any mother to be would do. I could no longer act like a kitten. I was in my third spring now. My third year of being with a human that loved me, and that I cared about. Only dogs truly loved their human companions. My tail swayed back and forth, my eyes gleamed. My ears perked upward, as I waited, alert. I enjoyed hearing this story, much as it made me hide in fear at times.
Our past was horrible. We’d lost a lot of kin, we all had. Only the humans could have changed our way, and that was what they did. They changed. Life was better now, from what I knew. From what I’d been taught. Banjo preened himself before he turned his attention to us, his beak running gently through dull green feathers.
“I wasn’t very old when the world was bad for all pets. Humans were cruel, forcibly mating their pets, their dogs and cats, until so many existed that they had only one solution. They would leave them in tiny places called ‘pounds’.” The parrot extended his wings at the last word, uttering a squark. He was clearly unsettled in a way I hated to see.
I stretched a little, curling myself around the wide-eyed pups to wait for him to settle his ruffled feathers.
“When no one came forth to give them homes, the humans had no choice but to send each cat, dog and other animal to the endless sleep, to the eternal dream. Don’t fear your humans, pups. Those that had to do it loved us so much they wouldn’t see us suffering. Never the sun on our backs. Never a breeze through the fur, or feathers. There was no freedom, not for any pet. Even those much loved – they weren’t allowed to roam. They had to be tethered to their humans, all the time.”
I could see the shock welling in their eyes, in those brown, wide-eyed pools of innocence. They still wouldn’t understand the depths of this until they were older. I wish I could have eased this from them, but now they needed to know what the world outside was like.
“Those humans that loved us dearly decided one day to gather up all the animals humans had cast aside, and built themselves a city. A massive city, where we can roam the streets. Where every human is brought up to love animals.” He shook himself, his tail feathers dipping as he changed his grip on Apollo’s shell.
“Now, we live in peace. No animal wants to leave the city. The humans grow their own food. They keep us as their companions. That is why only certain among us breed at certain times – such as Miss Shenai, there.” I dropped my head, purring as I rasped my tongue over one of my slender paws. I wasn’t embarrassed. I was a cat, I knew how wonderful I was. I was instead pleased. I was proud in myself, in the fact that my perfection had a reaction. “She paired with the best male she wanted to choose from. She’ll provide a litter of kittens that will go on to new homes in our fine city.”
I watched the pups before they turned from me to watch Banjo and Apollo. I stood, determined to draw their attention before a low purr ebbed from my lips.
“So, pups. Do you want to leave the perfection of our home now? Or will you return to your mother?” I waited, aware of the squirming kittens in my heavy stomach. I tired quickly this day, even as I uttered the lowest of purrs, curving my lips into a smile.
“I don’t want to leave here now.”
“Nor me, it’s safe here!”
“I would rather stay with my ma…” The last pup caught me. I purred at him, bumping my head against her shoulder.
“Then run on home, little pups. And remember what you learned today.”
Once again, I’ve gone on to another challenge, another sauntering look at what I can do to make myself a better writer.
Last week’s challenge was a little bit of let-down, to coin a phrase. I was hoping someone would comment on it, take part – anything. Instead…it went unnoticed. That was upsetting. I wanted people to be able to join in, to explore what can be done. To find new ways to teach themselves as writers. However, this journey isn’t just about others, it’s about me. That leads me on to the next part – this week’s challenge!
This week, the challenge is again from Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. Jennifer Don chose this week’s challenge, which was to do with Worldbuilding – something which every author should work on – especially if you write any type of fantasy or science fiction. This is something so close to my heart that I cannot help but to enjoy it. I enjoy looking at ways to craft my own worlds, to make them unique, compelling and able to be related to. Characters in this setting are often formed by their world, which made this challenge a little more exciting. Coming from page 222 of the book, this week’s challenge was definitely a fun one. It didn’t require too much preplanning, thankfully!
Take a close look at Aeron Alfrey’s flying city (2009). Several questions might occur to you. Is the setting fantastical but realistic – or is it surreal? What kind of cause-and-effect might exist here? What are the creatures lying dead on the ground? Is the city fleeing? Is it in the midst of being destroyed? Construct a reasonable rationale for the setting of this image that might lead to a story, even if it uses the logic of dream.
This was what I came out with – I enjoyed this challenge, especially when looking at the shapes the flames made – monsters, seeking something? An idea that came from a character inside there…something different, for me!
The world burned beneath us. Creatures of flame licked at the bottom of our home, the earth clods supporting it dropping down into the fire-drakes. My father stood at the doorway, his arms lifted as he sought to keep us from landing, from the fire eating up our home, and then – ourselves. We were lucky to be in this world of magic. If we were like a normal family, we would be down there now. If things were different, our bones would have blackened in the touch of the lashing flames. Instead, I sat on the bay window of my room, and read. Dante’s hell had come on Earth. I just had to hope we were strong enough to keep ourselves above the ground long enough for it to die down. I jumped a little as one building tottered on the edge…and fell, to be devoured by the ferocious inferno.
Why not join in, see what you get from the same prompt! Let your imagination run wild. I know mine did! See you next week for my next challenge!