Welcome Back! Would You Like a New Excerpt?


It’s been three months since I last did a post, and I’m as at a loss for what to do as I was then. Not to mention school, countless other things I get working on, and life in general. I will put up a top five books of the year, and I’m sure I’ll find other things to talk about, but for now, I’ll show an excerpt of my latest endeavour.

In August, I started a story by the name of Oleander (which was never featured on the blog, or else maybe you would know what the heck I’m talking about). I may pick it up again when I get around the road block my own brain cheerfully lobbed my way, but in the mean time my brain has also cheerfully plopped a new world in my head. This world came almost fully formed, but without characters or a solid plot. It took up residence and said, “work with it.”

Then I ignored it for a while.

Funny thing about new ideas, they don’t like being ignored. Not even necessarily creative ideas. They take to you like a leech that can’t be gotten rid of with something as simple as sunlight or salt, and nag at you day and night. This imaginary world has been running on background in the tabs of everyday life for months.

In all that time this idea has been around, I have constructed a bit of plot. A few characters as well, here and there. Still, I didn’t act on it until I was sitting in class after finishing a test and boredom aided the leech in finally getting me to write.

There isn’t much you need to know going in with this excerpt, except the fact that this story is what comes to my mind when sci-fi fantasy is involved. Just plug your nose, dive, and hope there isn’t a shark.

It was a lovely night for something catastrophic to happen. There was a storm, for one thing, and everyone knows that storms are never a good sign in theses situations. Lightning licked the sky in long, illuminating bolts and thunder rolled throughout the lands. Rain was pattering against bulletproof windows.

It was truly a wonderful night for something to escape the facility.

Abram Cadmus could sense the ominous atmosphere in his bones. He shivered, and began making his way down the main hall past bustling scientists and agitated guards. They feel it too, he thought. Great. A splendid development. He held the statistics package close to his chest and kept moving.

The main hall of this facility, which will not be named for secrecy reasons, was an amazing sight to see. All polished marble surfaces and golden archways. There’s no point in describing it, however, because Cadmus was there for a mere few seconds before he took a quick left into a much less interesting elevator.

Cadmus had a five second trip to get to the bottom of the building. When the elevator reached his stop, the man riding with him, sitting on the floor with a gleeful expression, looked up at him.

“You going to see the big man?” he asked.

“Well, yes,” said Cadmus. “I-” He was cut off by a burst of laughter.

“Ooh, you’re in trouble, pal. The last guy that went to him came back with a black eye and a limp. Statistics, eh?”

Cadmus nodded wordlessly. He was mostly focused on planning a trip to the infirmary.

“This should be good, then. He’s gotten himself into a horrible state of anger.”

“Has he ever gotten himself out of one?” Cadmus asked in a far away voice. “Look, do you even work here?”

The man flashed a grin, and held out his grubby hand. “Stuart Wilson. I work in testing. Uh, and by testing,” Stuart said, and winked, “I mean Operation Dragonfly.”

Cadmus went through a few stages of reaction: first was surprise, next was disbelief, and finally he landed on placidness. The man was obviously mad. He might as well humour him a bit. He shook Stuart’s hand firmly, and tried to resist wiping his palm on his shirt afterwards.

“I see. I’ve heard it’s quite something.”

“Ah, you don’t believe me, do you?” Stuart leaned against the elevator wall. His sardonic cheerfulness was beginning to unnerve Cadmus, as if he wasn’t already on edge. “That’s fine. I wouldn’t believe me either. Now, run along to the big man, and good luck to you.”

As Cadmus stepped out of the elevator, Stuart’s cackling followed him. Yes, that man was definitely mad. Cadmus had half a mind to call security, but there were more important matters at hand. He tugged at his collar, and continued on his route.

The room he arrived in had only three occupants. One stood against the wall, and had the distinct air about her that said ‘I don’t want to be here.’ There was another person with a gaunt face who hovered near the third life form like a hummingbird. He flitted around, fidgeting with a large load of nervous energy. The man he stood near was none other than Laric Stunfyr. Honestly, he wasn’t much to look at, except for the constant blaze in his eyes. It was the same blaze that refocused on Cadmus the second the door swung shut behind him.

They all stood there in silence. Cadmus couldn’t handle the staring contest with Stunfyr, and let his eyes drift away. He examined the table, the large tubes mounted in the walls that bathed them in green light, whatever was being read on the holoscreen, and ended up staring at Laric again. For reasons he didn’t understand, Cadmus decided to salute.

“The statistics package is in, sir,” he announced. The sir was a nice touch, very formal, although he would have to be careful not to lay it on too heavily…

“Great,” said Laric. “And who are you?”

“Cadmus. Abram Cadmus, sir.”

Laric straightened from his bent position over the table. “Ah. Well, let’s see it, then. This had better be something good that you’re interrupting me for.”

Cadmus realized he was still saluting, and quickly pulled his arm back down to his side. He really didn’t want to go over and show Stunfyr what he was interrupting him for. It didn’t seem like he had a choice, however, because Laric went over to him instead. Sweat beaded at his brow. With jerky movements, he handed the package to Laric.

The hummingbird man winced in sympathy. Maybe he was thinking of the guy who received the black eye and the limp. The woman leaning against the wall, who presumably was thinking of the same thing, snorted.

Laric returned to the table, and slid Cadmus’ statistics package into the slot in the side. Whatever he had been looking at before flickered away and was replaced by a group of awful graphs and numbers. The silence from before returned with a vengeance. Cadmus swallowed, and edged his way towards the door. Laric’s voice, dangerously quiet, was enough to stop him in his tracks. He had been so close to the handle, too.

“Come here, Mister Cadmus.”

And that was it. Everything had been leading up to that point. The storm, Stuart Wilson, and even that soggy sandwich Cadmus ate at lunch. His life flashed before his eyes as he took step after step in Laric’s direction. Most of it was of school, which roughly meant the disapproving looks of teachers, hiding at the library at lunch, and descending dodge balls in elementary PE classes. Cadmus regretted never learning how to catch one of those things with his hands instead of his face. Maybe Laric would let him do so as his dying wish.

“I know a guy up in the infirmary that can patch people up like no one else,” the hummingbird man whispered when he passed, and Cadmus felt a card slip into his hand. “Just show him this and tell him Ty sent you.” Cadmus glanced down at the card. It appeared to be a coupon for healing services. What kind of a person made coupons for healing services?

Finally, he was standing face to face with the Stunfyr, and there would be no more stalling. Laric jabbed a finger at the screen. “Tell me what you see here, Mister Cadmus.”

“Well, sir, we’ve been spending most of our money on Operation Dragonfly,” Cadmus replied, staring at the space just beside Laric’s head. “And we now owe the government about fifty million Enchaelian dollars.”

“How interesting. What else?”

“There have been, erm, several more close calls with sightings by civilians. Not just human ones, either. The Otherlings are beginning to suspect us too, sir.”

“Your abilities of observation astound me, Mister Cadmus,” said Laric, to which Cadmus flinched. Stunfyr turned to the sole person there who had yet to speak. “Let everyone know that we’re to be on top security. No one gets in or our without close inspection. How is it coming?”

Laric switched topics so fast that Cadmus nearly received whiplash, but the woman against the wall took it in stride. “There are still a few bugs that need to be worked out. It won’t be ready when you want it to be.”

“All right, Miss Flynn, then when will it be ready?” The way Laric spoke to her was different from how he spoke to anyone else. Cadmus could swear there was some respect there. Flynn, likewise, spoke to Laric differently from the rest of his employees. For example, she glared while she did it.

“I don’t know, Mister Stunfyr. Our top scientists are up to the seventh experiment for Operation Dragonfly, and they simply can’t tell when it will be completed. Personally, I believe quality is more important than a due date, sir.”

“Not if there’s fifty million Enchaelian dollars on our back.” Laric rubbed his chin, growing lost in thought. Cadmus saw this as the perfect opportunity to make a break for it, and jerked his thumb back at the door.

“If you don’t mind, sir, I have things…to do…”

“You’re not going anywhere, Cadmus.”

He froze. That time he was going to die, for sure. Laric removed the statistics package from its slot. The holoscreen winked out of existence, and with it all evidence of their troubles.

“Set up a team to deal with the money,” Laric said to Ty. “I want to have a meeting with them in an hour. On the dot.”

Ty paused. “But, sir-”

“On the dot, Murray!”

Ty practically squeaked, and zipped to the table to begin sending out messages, further enforcing the image of a hummingbird in Cadmus’ head. Next, Laric directed his attention back to Cadmus.

“You. I don’t see why you don’t deserve a good old fashioned punishment.”

“I, well, I,” Cadmus stammered. He took a step back for every step Laric took forward. “In all, err, fairness, sir, I was just delivering the package.” The two came to a stop when Cadmus’ back hit one of the green tubes, and suddenly Laric was only inches away. “Don’t shoot the messenger!”

It occurred to Cadmus too late that Stunfyr probably didn’t understand the meaning of that saying. He followed one that went more along the lines of ‘shoot everyone, no discrimination.’ His life flashed before his eyes once more, if only to make him more miserable. The man glowered down at him, his height making up for what he lacked in bulk. Cadmus looked away.

He yelped about a second later, but not because he’d been hit. A horrible blaring sound rang in their ears. The green lights of the tubes were then flashing red, as was the screen Ty had been working with. There was a brief gap in time where none of them knew what was happening or what to do, and then they sprang into action with the arrival of an automated voice.

“Sector breach. Sector breach. Code Alpha. Initiating lock down within five seconds.”

Cadmus had always thought that five seconds was not enough time. While it made sure that whoever, or whatever, was running around where it shouldn’t be wouldn’t have the chance to get away, it also meant that no one else had the chance to do so. Cadmus very much liked the idea of getting away. It was Code Alpha going off, and they all knew far too well what that meant.

Something in the facility had escaped. Outside, lightning cracked again as if to mock them.

Following his own survival skills, Cadmus bolted for the door. The other three fell in close on his heels, with Stunfyr shouting instructions to Flynn and Ty. They ran the entire length of the hall, until Cadmus was at the elevator where Stuart was still seated. He surveyed them all with nothing more than mild curiosity.

“Mister Wilson, there’s been a breach,” Laric said. Flynn seemed determined to stay by his side, but Ty kept going. Cadmus would have happily done the same, yet his feet remained rooted to the spot in response to Stuart’s behavior.

“Oh, yes,” Stuart said, and pointed at the flashing lights. “I’m aware. Hey, if it isn’t the statistics guy! Looking well and healthy, I see.”

Cadmus frowned as Laric pressed on. “Well, man? What are you doing sitting on the floor!”

“There’s really no need for alarm, Mister Stunfyr. The kid’s harmless. Give her a juice box and send her back to the capsule, it’ll be fine.”

“The kid?” Cadmus repeated, gaining looks from Laric and Flynn. Stuart shrugged, and grinned.

“Yeah. I mean, she’s probably around sixteen at this point, given that she hasn’t had much time to mature and all.”

“You’re telling me that you think experiment seven is what escaped,” Laric said bluntly.

“I don’t think it, Stunfyr, old pal.” Stuart leaned forward with gleaming eyes. “I know it. Code Alpha wouldn’t be triggered for anyone else.”

“You work on Operation Dragonfly! It’s your department that needs to make sure things like this don’t happen!”

“Wait,” said Cadmus. “That’s actually his job?”

Stuart put his arms behind his head. “Mistakes are impossible to avoid entirely. Just do what I do, and relax. The guards will catch her, c’mon, she hasn’t even been conscious before now. I bet you she barely knows how to walk!”

“He actually works here? Are you serious?”

Laric opted for ignoring them both, and marched away from the elevator with Flynn in tow. The second they were out of sight, Stuart’s grin dropped. It was a strange transformation. Suddenly the easy going, slightly insane man was gone, and the man that had come to take his place meant all business. His intense stare was enough to make Cadmus wish he was anywhere else in the world but there.

“Get on the elevator,” said Stuart. The words made a long trip through Cadmus’ one ear and out the other, and he blinked.

“What?”

“It is crucial,” said Stuart, slowly that time, “that you get on the elevator. Now.”

“I rather think the elevator is the worst place to be in an emergency.” That, and Stuart was really creeping him out.

“There isn’t an emergency. At least, there won’t be if you do exactly as I say.” Stuart finally stood up, and Cadmus realized he was tall, even taller than Laric. Reality itself seemed to get out of the way to make room for his height. Stuart walked to the center of the elevator, and stood there with red light pulsing all around him.

“I don’t understand.”

“I’m not asking you to. I’m asking you to get in the elevator already, and to stop making things difficult.”

So, it seemed as though Stuart was still insane. As such, Cadmus didn’t get in the elevator, and stared at him blankly. Stuart got tired of waiting. He made as if to grab Cadmus, and Cadmus panicked, slamming the button that would close the doors. Then he ran without chancing a look back. Even while he left, he could hear Stuart trying to wrench the doors back open and cursing.

“Don’t go down hallway C-Five, you hear me?” he shouted after him. “Don’t go down C-Five!”

Too late, Cadmus thought. C-Five was the closest hallway with stairs, and he wanted to get to the main hall as soon as possible. Where there was a lot of people. A lot of people with guns. A lot of people, in short, that could protect Cadmus from a rogue experiment better than he could. Cadmus skidded around the corner, and tumbled full force into the space Stuart had obviously not wanted him to tumble into. For what reason, Cadmus couldn’t be sure. The hall was completely empty.

It was a quick walk from where Cadmus stood to the stairwell. He tread quietly and cautiously, Stuart’s words echoing in his head. Cadmus was only half way across when he heard footsteps sounding from the joint hallway to the end of C-Five. They echoed off the walls, growing closer to Cadmus with each passing second. He felt his mind go blank.

The legs, recognizing that the brain had turned to mush, prepared to run as instructed by the backup of Cadmus’ conscience. This backup was called, plain and simple, animal instinct. He never actually got the chance, though. The moment Cadmus was about to bolt, a figure came zooming around the corner. It spotted him and froze like a deer caught in the headlights.

A few things became apparent to Cadmus as the newcomer stared him down. One, it appeared to have a female build. Two, it was in a white nightgown like a hospital patient. Finally, its eyes were glowing a freakish purple and it was beginning to advance. Cadmus gave it a rather undignified scream in response.

There was a flashing button near Cadmus. He jammed it quickly, to alert the guards to his coordinates as well as the coordinates of experiment seven. Next thing he knew, it had him pinned against the wall with his arm at an awkward angle. It started applying pressure. Cadmus whimpered as it kept pushing and pushing, right up until the shoulder popped out of its socket. It’s to be assumed that Cadmus screamed again.

The experiment let go and allowed him to fall to the floor, where he hit the side of his head. Cadmus had thought for sure that he would die at the hands of Stunfyr that night, but it seemed he would perish because of a haywire teenager. It dropped down in front of him in a crouch.

Cadmus tilted his head up and searched its face. Eyes bright, nostrils flared, mouth drawn in a neutral line. There was no humanity, not even anything Otherling, to be found there. It took a hold of his legs, and Cadmus closed his eyes in resignation. He listened to the frantic thrumming in his skull like it would calm him down, and tried very hard not to think about the fact that the thing was probably going to break his limbs.

For a second time, footsteps echoed down hallway C-Five. Hope flared in Cadmus’ chest. He looked to the staircase and shouted. “I’m over here! Help, it’s crazy!”

The experiment promptly smothered Cadmus’ mouth with its hand. It looked a little startled, he realized, with its eyes focused on the end of the hall. A moment later the expression was gone, replaced with a calculating one. Before Cadmus fully knew what was happening it had slammed his head against the wall and was sprinting away.

Good riddance, you filthy duck, Cadmus thought. After a second, he added, I am definitely not okay. He reached with his good arm to feel where his head had met brick, and his fingers came away sticky with blood.

There were people yelling at him. They sounded concerned. They were asking him what had happened, but Cadmus only managed to point where all of Operation Dragonfly’s hard work had run off before he slipped into unconsciousness.

I remember the good old days when the first chapters were only about two pages. Oh, well.

The title, if you hadn’t already guessed, is still pending. I do have a few ideas, though. As for Cadmus, I’m sure he’ll be all right. He’ll be in the infirmary for a bit (maybe using the “coupon” from Ty) but won’t be featured for most of the story. It’s a shame, really, because I found that I actually liked his name a lot.

I’m pretty excited to play around with this world; this excerpt has barely even scratched the surface.

Another Comparison and Story Excerpts

I’m back again, now on summer break. The sweet, sweet feeling of freedom (even if it seems to me like I have five projects to hand in tomorrow).

At the present, I’m still sort of on writer’s block. Oh joy. I’ve done a couple of writing exercises-meaning, like, two or three. In addition, recently I rewrote the introduction of one of my older stories. The excerpt I featured in the last post with horrible grammar? Yeah, this one is worse.

Here’s my rough summary of the book: There are these two book characters who find out that their author is planning on ending the story with them being sent to the dungeons and later sentenced to death, so they go through all these different tasks trying to find a way to stop that from happening.

The chapters shift between the narrator being the “author” of the book, which features the story from the book my protagonists live in, to the main character, which features the actual storyline.

I’ll show you the original and the latest, in that order. Hope you enjoy.

 

Introduction

Hi, I’m Kate. Tina told me not to write this into the book, but here we go. I’d just like you to know that this story is intirely (cough entirely cough) true. Well, it is for us story character’s (I’ll stop after this but cough characters cough). It’s not like you normal people will find witch’s and flying pony’s in the real world! And to all you author’s, the point of this story is that when you insist on making us the bad guy’s, we don’t appreciate being thrown in jail and stuff. Why can’t we just all be freind’s and go home in the end? Or atleast have a water bed and proper food in jail. Anyway’s, I’ll let you get on with the story reader’s.

Sincerely,

Kate, fourth book on the first right side book shelf, third shelf.

 

(Then there’s a “how this book works” side note, but I’ve already explained it to you and it’s not part of the story itself. I told you this was worse. Not to mention that I had no perception of paragraphs. Anyway, here is the new version.)

 

Prologue…? Let’s Go with Prologue

Dear reader,

Yes. I’m talking to you. It’s not even the supposed “author” that “made” this book leaving you a note, I’m the character. The protagonist…and the antagonist. I guess it mostly depends on perspective. What I’m really trying to say is: forget the fourth wall entirely. It doesn’t exist anymore. This is real, this is happening, accept it and move on.

…That sounded a little too intense, didn’t it? I better get on with this before I write something to scare you away.

Ahem. Dear reader,

My name is Priscilla Orlena-Scarlett Turner. But, for simplicity purposes, you can call me Post. (I swear though, if one more person makes a Post-it Notes joke, I’m going to scream.) I’m from the kingdom of Sceneferlen, just south of Ragnol Mountains. Which would be a great introduction if you had any idea of what all that is.

This is stupid. Maybe I should get Anya to write it.

All right, look. Whoever you are, I think you picked this book up for a reason. There’s no way that something that’s going to become as insane as this collection would end up in your hands easily. It doesn’t matter now what drew you to us or why you’re reading this, just that you are. And that I’m going to make a perhaps unwise decision to trust you.

I need your help. I need you to read through this, no matter how weird it gets, and no matter how much it tests your sense of reality. I’m asking you to help me change my fate. Don’t worry, Anya and I will do all the heavy lifting, all you have to do is stick with us until our story is done, one way or another. We both think that having a little outside human support will go a long way. After all, it is your imagination that’s bringing me to life in your mind as we speak.

Wish me luck. I’m counting on you.

(Post here again. To avoid confusion, I’m letting you know beforehand that you may come across chapters from my novel. You’ll know if it’s me communicating with you or the author, trust me. I’ll talk with you again soon.)

 

(Another note, but it’s actually me this time and not part of the excerpt. I left the “how this book works” side note of the newer version in because it’s actually part of the message. All in all, there you have it, folks! Also, can you tell how much I enjoy breaking down the fourth wall?)

Yet Another Book Excerpt for the Story With No Name

Post: Chapter 12.

Reasoning: I’m alone and I’m bored.

Hey, so…That excerpt I posted on New Year’s Eve? This won’t make much sense if you haven’t read it. Actually, this is a while later in the story and a lot of things have happened that I’m not going to even begin trying to explain.

Long story short, though, all you need to know to read this is the information from “Second Book Excerpt! (Untitled)” and a few things I’ll go through very quickly.

  1. The general lied to Cowen when he asked him about his real name, telling him it was Taylor
  2. Ms. Stone is a woman who runs the orphanage Cowen spent most of his life at. It’s called Stone Family Orphanage; I know, I’m very creative.
  3. General Gonosz went to that orphanage early on in the story to get some information on Cowen, but he didn’t really find anything important except for his birth date and little things like that.
  4. In addition, I’m a teenager trying to write in the point of view of a full grown man, and I don’t know how that’s going for me.

I guess I’m just putting this up because I had fun with this chapter, and also, I don’t have much to do at the moment. Here it is-ta-dah.

After the past few days, Gonosz felt the need to just go take a walk. He wanted to clear his head. Once he got outside, the fresh air greeted him, rolling by him and instantly making him feel better. He looked over to the nearby village, and figured he had time to go into town. The general really had to get away from the place.

Where he walked, everyone’s heads turned. All of the villagers did their best to put as much distance in between them and Gonosz as possible. Some people went into buildings and shut the doors, others made sure to take wide detours around him, and many adults shielded their children behind themselves. In addition, Gonosz felt as if the town had become much more silent after his arrival. Not very calming in the least bit.

Gonosz slipped into an alley. He wasn’t going to be able to go through with all of this, not if he was walking through town to take his mind off of things. After a few moments of hesitance, Gonosz took off his mask, and slipped it into his inside jacket pocket. He checked his clothes; average enough. There was a lump where the wooden mask stuck through but no one would suspect what it actually was.

The general went out of the alley and looked around. The villagers were still a little on edge, looking around as if wondering where the dreaded General Gonosz had gone, but none of them paid any attention to Gonosz himself. With a small smile tugging at his lips, Gonosz walked around the village like a normal person with the wind blowing in his face like it hadn’t for years.

For the most part, Gonosz glanced into the windows of all the shops to keep occupied and occasionally rolled his eyes at the daily tasks of the townspeople. Everything seemed to be going fine and then suddenly a woman shot out of a building and randomly grabbed his wrist.

“Please, sir, I’m in dire need of assistance!” she yelped, pulling him inside. Gonosz stumbled through the doorway, looking around. A sense of familiarity settled over him. He was in the Stone Family Orphanage and, yes, there was Ms. Stone in the flesh beside him.

The caretaker winced. “I’m so sorry to bother you, sir, but there are too many of them and none of the other staff are here and-”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Gonosz said, holding up his hands, still disoriented. “Slow down. Too many of who?”

“Children! I can’t handle them all on my own. Please, sir, please look after some of the kids for a moment and I promise I will pay you afterwards.”

Gonosz paled. This was what he got for strolling around without his warrior mask. Out of all the people in town, he happened to be the one walking outside of the orphanage when Ms. Stone rushed outside. The atmosphere there still bothered him, and it seemed to be closing in on him. Gonosz took a few steps back towards the door.

“Miss, I’m afraid I am the wrong person for the job,” he told Ms. Stone, reaching blindly for the handle. “I don’t really do children.”

“They’re no trouble at all, it will only take a second of your time,” Ms. Stone rambled.

“You’d really trust to put a bunch of kids in the hands of a stranger you picked up off of the street?”

Ms. Stone hesitated, then smiled weakly. “Well, I mean, you can’t be worse than a palace soldier, right?”

“Ha. Right.”

There was a sound like something smashing in the back room, causing both Gonosz and Ms. Stone to jump. Ms. Stone was obviously desperate. She turned back to Gonosz and clasped his hands, looking at him pleadingly.

“I really need help. Please, sir. All you need to do is watch them until I find some of the little rascals that have run off. Please?”

Gonosz opened his mouth, about a hundred replies racing through his brain. Most of them weren’t very kind. The one that ended up coming out, though, wasn’t rude and wasn’t one he had been expecting.

“Alright,” he said to Ms. Stone. She beamed at him and led him through another door before he had time to change his mind. Gonosz found himself in a room full of children from ages five to about sixteen. Ms. Stone clapped her hands, and soon all eyes were on the general.

“Everyone,” Ms. Stone said with a warm smile. “This is…”

“Taylor,” Gonosz supplied. If it worked with Cowen, it would work then, too.

“Taylor. He’ll be watching you while I go get Tina, Carter, and Ally. Be good, okay?”

“Yes, Ms. Stone,” the kids chorused.

Ms. Stone turned to leave, smiling at Gonosz and mouthing, Thank you. Soon enough, Gonosz was alone with approximately thirty children, all of them still staring at him. Gonosz straightened his shoulders, sat on a seat in the room, and stared back. No way he was going to let a bunch of little tikes bother him.

Slowly, some of the older kids peeled their eyes off of him and continued chatting with each other over several varying topics. The younger ones sat down on the carpeted floor with their eyes riveted on him. Gonosz cleared his throat, giving them pointed looks that in his opinion were quite clear: Go back to what you were doing or else there is a spanking in your future.

This didn’t have quite the effect he wanted, though, so he chose to directly speak to them. “Is there something you lot need?”

“I’ve never seen you in town before,” a nine year old said.

“I’m new,” Gonosz answered, mildly irritated. “Go play.”

“Where are you from?” asked another kid.

Gonosz chose a kingdom at random. “Teiallha.”

“Where’s that?”

“It’s down south. Is there anything you want to do besides play twenty questions with me?” Gonosz was beginning to wonder if all of the orphans from that place were the same level of annoying.

“What’s your favourite colour?” asked a shy little girl, barely making eye contact. Gonosz groaned internally.

“Twenty questions it is then. For the sake of forwarding this conversation, red, I guess. Anyone else have something they just absolutely need to know?”

Sarcasm was apparently lost on the group. A little boy raised his hand. “Can you tell us a story?” Gonosz paused, frowning.

“A story?”

“Yeah!” The first kid put her chin on her fist. “Pretty please tell us a story.”

Right. A story. Why not? It wasn’t as if he was a cold-blooded general who didn’t specialize in telling fairy-tales to little children. Gonosz looked around as if searching for a way out and his eyes settled on a stuffed dog clutched tightly in the shy girls hands.

“What’s the dog’s name?” Gonosz asked, pointing at the plush toy. The little girl looked startled, lowering her head to study her dog.

“Anna,” she squeaked, holding the stuffed animal up in front of her like she was shielding herself from anyone’s gaze.  

“Anna,” Gonosz repeated, all the while thinking to himself, What the heck do I think I’m doing. “Well, it just so happens that I knew a dog called Anna like yours back in Teiallha.”

His listeners all watched him with wide eyes, excited to hear a story. Gonosz just hoped he could tell a valid one, or at least part of a valid one, before Ms. Stone got back. How long did it take for someone to find three kids in a village that small?

“She lived with her owners; Ben and Sarah. They always took little Anna out on walks around the countryside, letting her run through…Fields. With flowers, and sunshine.”

This is horrible. I can’t believe they’re eating up this garbage, Gonosz thought, amazed.

“Life was good. Anna had everything a pup could ever want. But, one day, when she was exploring out in the woods on her own, something terrible happened.” Gonosz paused for dramatic affect and let his audience gasped. “Anna was chasing a, uh, butterfly or something when she came to a large stream. The water was fast and always moving. Anna thought to herself, I’m a long way from Ben and Sarah and I should get a drink before I go looking for them.

“Anna leaned over to sip some of the water. She was very small, though, and she slipped. Anna fell into the water and got carried away through the forest, away from her owners.”

One of the kids cringed. “Oh no.”

“Was she okay?”

“What happened?!”

Gonosz held up his hands to calm them down. “She found herself far outside of the kingdom. Anna was even more lost than she had been before. She tried howling, barking, and trotting along the edge of the stream to get someone to help or to find her way back, but nothing worked. She was stuck.

“Anna spent the next few days alone, sleeping in the shelter of a small cave and eating whatever food she could find. A little kitten came along and found her-”

“What was the kitten’s name?”

“Bob,” Gonosz said, saying the first name that came to mind. Why did it have to have a name, exactly? Before any more questions could be asked, Gonosz rushed on. “Bob took Anna in, helped her into a nearby village where the kitten’s owners were. She was given proper food and a place to sleep, then the owners of the ca-Bob put up lost dog flyers.

“Ben and Sarah came to find Anna and took her home, and they all lived happily ever after.”

Gonosz cringed at his own storytelling and waited for a booing or rotten tomatoes or something. However, the next thing he knew, the children were clapping their hands enthusiastically and cheering for Anna’s return to Teiallha. They chattered to each other about whether or not all of the stuffed animals had real life counterparts that went on adventures, or why the kitten’s owners chose to name him Bob. The group got into a very detailed conversation about this and Gonosz couldn’t help but shake his head in exasperation.

To his relief, Ms. Stone walked back in along with three more orphans, who were red in the face. The caretaker stared at the kids gathered around Gonosz, while he smiled in relief and got up.

“Glad you found them,” he said, trying to slip out of the room. “I guess I’ll be going now.”

“Bye, Taylor!” exclaimed one of the children, waving to him.

“Thanks for the story!”

  Gonosz frowned in confusion. He brought up his hand and gave a small wave back as Ms. Stone scolded Ally, Carter and Tina, telling them to go to their room. She closed the door to the room Gonosz had been in a second ago, then faced him.

“Thank you so much for watching them. They seemed to like you,” she said, fishing around in a bag for money to pay him with. Ms. Stone brought out some coins but Gonosz shook his head.

“Don’t bother, it was no problem.”

Ms. Stone hesitated, nodding to him. “Thank you again, Taylor. You know…Something about you is familiar. Have I met you before?”

“I don’t think so,” Gonosz lied, opening the front door. “Goodbye and, ah, good luck with those kids.” Ms. Stone chuckled.

“Goodbye,” she echoed, closing the door for Gonosz once he was outside. He studied the orphanage for a moment, then began heading back to the palace, the mask heavy in his pocket.

(Okay, I enjoyed putting Gonosz in that situation far too much. And the dog story is credibly horrible. Yay.)

Thief (Excerpt)

So. I decided to give an excerpt, for no one in particular. This is from a book I started writing in May, finished the first draft in June-July, typed it up during the summer break, edited it, and had it mostly done by the end of September. Which doesn’t mean I’m not still making tiny tweaks to it. I mean, there was one thing I had to really fix and that was…Nope. Too embarrassing. Only a few people would know what I’m talking about if they read this and I’d like to keep it that way.                                                                          The title’s Thief, if you hadn’t already guessed. It’s, like a lot of my books, fantasy and one of those cases where I got the idea from a dream. Although the final product was barely anything like the dream. Extremely different, I am not exaggerating. Only one kingdom in the world of my book is originally from my dream I had about half a year ago and the story line is as far off as can be. But, that’s probably not too unusual. Books go through a lot of changes, right?                                                                                                  Without further ado, here is the first chapter of Thief. Um, enjoy, I guess.

Note to self: The next time a shady figure slips you a pouch of gold coins and tells you to steal something, just say no.

Actually, I probably wouldn’t follow that note. As long as I wanted to eat the next day, my whole life revolved around shady figures slipping me a pouch of gold coins and telling me to steal something. But this, oh, this had been a step too far.

I snuck towards the giant structure ahead of me. It had been a long trip to get from Zybinaro to The Dome in East-Arcane. It had taken me…how many days? It didn’t matter now. All that mattered was finishing my job, and getting out of there. Not getting spotted would be ideal, too.

The Dome is a hard place to get into. Crossing the kingdom’s borders had been easy, the East-Arcanians dwelling place was what had me worried. Built into the side of the Edge of the World, this cylindrical building was big, easy to get lost in, and heavily guarded. You’d have to be an idiot to try and break into the place.

I stared up at the pastel coloured building, re-thinking my life choices for a moment, then I ran over.

I inched along the wall until I found a large window at ground level. I set down a sac I’d slung over my shoulder and rummaged through it silently. It was my bag of tricks-everything I needed was in there. Well, hopefully.

Out of the bag, I retrieved a thick blanket. I grabbed a large enough rock from nearby, placed the blanket against the window and kept it there with one hand, while with the other I rammed my rock into the window. There was a tinkling of glass.

I winced. Had the guards heard that? The blanket muffled the noise a little bit, but that had been audible. I briefly considered running, however no cavalry was coming to skewer me, so I continued to break the glass until there was a big enough hole for me to crawl through.

I stuffed the blanket back into the bag. I stepped carefully over the shards of glass, all the while assessing my situation. The Dome had several rings, levels with houses and marketplaces picturesquely sitting together like matching flowers in a garden. Guards patrolled each of these levels, and in the center, was the castle.

The Arcanian castle would definitely go against every law of physics that exists. Since these people love their magic so much, in the center of The Dome the castle sat suspended in the air, grand and tall and ultimately impossible. There was only one bridge connected to the structure and that was the one connected to the level I stood on.

And it was absolutely crawling with guards.

I ran through The Dome, using the many pillars to hide behind. I counted the levels of the castle in my head-one…two…three…Once I was sure I’d found the sixth floor I pulled a long piece of rope with a hook out of my bag. Then, I had to get as close to the castle as possible.

I was mentally kicking myself the entire time for accepting the job. The idea of running floated in my mind, taunting me, telling me how completely stupid I was. But if I wanted my full pay, I had to get my employers item. So I launched my make-shift grappling hook up into the air and towards the castle.

The hook hit its mark, lodging onto a castle window. I ran towards the edge of the level and climbed onto the railing there. With as much momentum as I could manage, I leapt off of the railing and flew fast towards the castle wall. I bumped against it so hard I almost thought that the whole structure would go plummeting to the bottom of The Dome.

When my ultimate demise by a falling building didn’t seem to occur, I started climbing. Don’t look down, don’t look down… I told myself. Naturally, of course, I looked down. My stomach did its own little gymnast routine. The depth of The Dome seemed to never end. It just dissolved into darkness. Suddenly my hands were way too sweaty. Suddenly the castle window was too far away. Suddenly that same idea of running was hitting my consciousness over the (metaphorical) head with a log.

I gulped and forced myself to look away from the never ending abyss. Just a little farther. You can do this. Don’t let go of the rope… I attached the end of the rope to a metal clasp on my waist, then I pulled my good old glass breaking rock out of my bag. Quickly I broke the glass, got into the castle, and touched solid ground before I had a heart attack.

Trust me when I say I would have loved to just lay there for about a day, but I still got up and kept moving. I replayed the conversation I’d had with the shady figure back in the kingdom of Zybinaro:

“A drunk Arcanian guard that had been out of Arcane on official business said it would be on the sixth floor of their castle. You’ll know that you’re in the right place if there’s large gold double doors at the end of the hall, with half a dozen guards standing in front of it.”

Well, I guess I’m in the right place, I thought with slight disappointment after I’d explored the castle a bit. If I peered around the corner I could see the same gold doors the shady figure had talked about, along with, yes, half a dozen very alert guards. I reached into my bag and closed my fingers around three small circular objects. I threw them behind me before ducking further behind a pillar. The second the objects (oh yeah, those objects were bombs) hit the ground they exploded and filled the hall with a thick cloud of smoke.

Several guards’s footsteps echoed through the area as they came to investigate. I watched them from my hiding place then I peeked at the doors again. To my dismay, two of the guards had stayed behind to guard the door. I grumbled internally before running over to them.

The two remaining guards raised their long silver staffs and yelled. The yelling only increased when I threw a couple of my bombs at their faces. The two flailed around, running into everything-walls, pillars, each other. I took it to my advantage and found the doors through the mist so I could pick the lock.

I slipped into the room and closed the golden doors behind me. And, just for good measure, I dragged a nearby cushioned bench over and placed it against the only thing separating me from the guards. It wouldn’t be long before they got in, so I had to move quickly. I looked around wildly. The shady figure had been very vague on what I was supposed to steal, saying simply that I would “know it when I saw it.” My eyes landed on a pedestal in the middle of the room, and what sat on top of it.

It almost made me scream. It was a little porcelain dove, carved to look as if it was taking flight. It could have easily fit into the palm of my hand. I’d gone through so much trouble to collect a common knick-knack? I sighed and pulled out the small lock-picking device I’d used earlier. I flicked it onto the pedestal, and ducked down.

My justification for these actions? Well, there were rumors of the spells East-Arcanians put on their valuables. You heard all over that thieves often found themselves teleported to a dungeon, frozen in time, or-and this seemed to be a favourite of most people-turned into a frog.

So I didn’t know what to expect. A small explosion, even a puff of smoke, but nothing happened. Nothing at all. I peeked up at the pedestal. The lock-picking device laid safely on top, just touching the doves foot.

That’s when, despite my bench lock, the golden double doors burst open and the guards filed in. All hesitation left, and I grabbed the porcelain dove. I found a single window, broke it open, jumped out and mentally kicked myself for the second time that night.  I fell. I fell fast and hard, tumbling down the hollow center of The Dome. What had been my thought process when I jumped out the window? Hey, I might fall to my death, but at least I won’t be a frog?

I put the dove safely into my bag and pulled out my grappling hook before throwing it up to the ring at ground level. I missed.

My scream probably woke up all the inhabitants of The Dome, and the neighbouring kingdom at that. I continued to plummet until my hook caught onto the railing of one of the levels. Then I swung about in the air, keeping a death grip on the rope until I stopped moving.

“Near death experience, check.” I muttered to no one but myself. I climbed up the rope, taking my time, because although I wanted nothing more but to get out of there as quickly as possible I didn’t want to shake the rope so much that the hook came loose.

When I got up onto the level I left the grappling hook, figuring I didn’t have time to stuff it back into my bag, and instead ran to a nearby ladder. I climbed so fast that I might have been traveling at the speed of sound. It turns out my hook had caught onto the ring just below ground level, and now I was close to the window I’d entered The Dome through. I threw a couple of bombs at some guards coming my way, then crawled through the window and ran.

Little did I know that my actions would lead to the biggest riot the world had seen in fourteen years.

(…Wow. It took me eleven days to actually post this. Somebody give me a medal.)