I’m taking a bit of a break this month while the world cooks outside in the heat and Camp NaNoWriMo is in full swing. Last night we had a 5.8 earthquake, which is a big deal in a region that doesn’t normally suffer them. It was just enough to provide the true earthquake experience without causing damage.
The cats didn’t approve.
My official goal is 50K this month, but my unofficial goal is to complete the draft for Traversing the Astral Plane. More than likely that means 110-120K. Sounds a lot like my crazy goal in April, which I made.
Still, you never know what might be on the horizon later in the month.
So far, so good. I’m off to a great start and even a bit ahead, which is how I like it. Today, I’ll share a first draft excerpt that’s easy to explain since it’s the story’s opening…
The storms, beasts, and screams gave way to falling, as if running for her life without respite wasn’t bad enough already. It was nothing like peering through one of the open doorways too often mistaken for escape. More like plummeting with no sense of where or when the landing would come.
Yet, for all that imagination could conjure the landing was softer than expected.
In a puddle.
In darkness, but not total darkness.
She grunted with the impact, fingers clawing at the hard surface beneath. Stone. Rock. A solid place. Was it real? What did real mean? What did anything mean?
What was her name?
“Teacher? Are you here, Teacher?”
Raising to her hands and knees, she shook her head. A long, dank place. A light mist falling. At the extreme ends of the narrow space there was dim light.
Still on her knees, she straightened her back and dipped a hand into the puddle. “Water.” Extending farther, she ran a hand over the surface beneath the shallow pool. “Texture.” Air moved over her skin. “Temperature.” She wiped her brow. “Moisture.”
The words weren’t lost after all. They were returning.
“Ahh…!” She doubled up, clutching her middle. “It hurts…pain, it’s pain. Teacher, please, what is this place?”
Perhaps Teacher wasn’t in the mysterious place either.
The pain eased, but deep within, in the place where it originated, she was no longer the same. Why? It was beyond words—and spreading.
Eyes adjusting, she raised her hands. They looked as they should. Didn’t they?
In the distance glass smashed and there was swearing. To either side came rough, agonized coughing. Echoes carrying footfalls floated down the alley and she jerked back. The sound moved past as if a shadow, which made no sense.
She wrinkled her nose. “Smell.” It was foul.
Swaying, she stood, stumbled forward, and collided with a—wall. She ran a hand over the rough surface. Not rock, but—brick. More words, but still not her name. She turned around and explored further with her hands. More words came. Skirt. Blouse. Cloak. She tapped a foot. Shoe. Hand to her head, she ran a hand through hair falling to her shoulders.
It was all too real.
“Teacher?” It was pointless. He was gone forever.
Wiping the grime from her hands, she headed left and collided with a broad chest and big hands. In the meager light a wide grin and missing teeth appeared. The big man coughed and she recoiled, but he held her firm.
She pushed against his chest and contacted bare skin. Heat and chaos ran up her arm and flooded through her. She coughed.
“Where ya goin’, little miss?”