NaNoWriMo is almost finished and I took part for the first time ever. This was an interesting experiment for me because it was never about writing a fifty thousand word novel but rather accepting the discipline of writing fifty thousand words on a monthly basis as an author for the rest of my career. I think the experiment went really well and I am almost finished with the NaNoWriMo challenge but the work continues as the novel needs to be roughly around ninety thousand words. I never intended to post a snippet of the novel – sharing first draft work is something I usually avoid. This is a special case however. The brilliant Chuck Wendig usually issues a flash fiction challenge every week but this week he decided to issue the challenge of posting any 1,000 words from the novel we write for NaNoWriMo. I thought, why not? This is a Science Fiction novel with Fantasy elements mixed in and for the purposes of the NaNoWriMo challenge I gave it the temporary name “A Pinch of Salt, A Dash of Magic” and created the temporary cover above using stock pictures. You can find my NaNoWriMo page here. The novel’s plot summary is the following:
So, with the caveat of it being first draft and hence incomplete and in need of editing, here are the first one thousand words from the beginning:
I’m lying on a sea mattress, half-asleep on a lazy Monday afternoon, sunbathing. My left leg is in the warm water, while the tips of the fingers of my right hand touch the warm water. The sea waves are crashing softly on a tropical beach not far away from where I am. I feel content and relaxed; everything is how it’s supposed to be. The sea is calm and quiet. It carries the smell of iodine and salt mixed with burning sulphur, away from—
I opened my eyes with alarm bells ringing inside my head, the memory of the tropical beach dream dissolving rapidly like a sand castle swept away by the sea waves. The smell persisted even after I had awakened and that meant one thing only – I was under attack. I sat on my bed, legs hanging, the expensive water mattress convulsing in protest of my sudden moves, the covers thrown on the side. I usually sleep naked but modesty was the last thing in my mind. I scanned the quiet room mentally preparing myself for trouble. Trouble that didn’t come. My darkened bedroom was exactly how I left it last night: heavy purple curtains covering completely the balcony door, a pile of clothes on the small sofa opposite my desk, books stacked on the floor spread out everywhere, including my three overflowing bookcases behind the desk. Nothing seemed out of order and the room was silent.
I scanned the magical wards on the walls of my room, invisible to the untrained eye, and found all of them intact. It was obvious they were waiting for me at the other side of the door in my living room. Could I avoid fighting inside my flat? My precious apartment was my pride and joy. It was so very expensive and a fight could cause damage I probably would not afford to fix. Still, I was on the fiftieth floor and with no other way to leave other than my front door, my choices were limited, and I had to confront the quiet intruder inside my home.
I reached down in my bag next to my bed and picked my emerald pendant, twisting its gold chain around my left wrist. I stood and tiptoed to the door separating my room from the rest of my apartment, the thick soft carpet absorbing all sounds efficiently. I touched the door with the fingertips of my right hand, focusing my power on the space at the other side, seeking the elusive intruder but found nothing. How did they manage to bypass my defensive and offensive wards without triggering them?
I opened the door just a crack, the acrid smell of burning sulphur stinging my nose and assaulting my senses. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I opened the door further and inspected the living room that was sharing the space with my kitchen. My gaze shifted from the half drawn curtains doing their best to block the morning sun, to the protective wards around the front door to my apartment. They were undisturbed.
I stepped carefully into the silent living room starting to doubt my own senses. Was I hallucinating? The two soft knocks on my front door snapped my attention in that direction. If this was an elaborate plot to bypass my ward protection, it was pathetic to say the least. Two more knocks, barely heard. Why were they not using the doorbell?
I inched towards the door noticing the thicker sulphur smell. The many protective wards made my door practically impenetrable, but like the proper paranoid witch I am, I placed my back against the wall next to the door. “Whatever you are selling I am not interested. Go away this is a bad time.” This was an understatement to say the least. I needed my rest after last night’s difficult hunt that lasted six hours. Sleep is the only way a witch can replenish their magical reserves in a natural way and after only four hours, I was cranky and snappy.
They knocked quietly again.
“Go away; I will not say this again.”
“Please we need to talk. It’s important”
The voice was gruff and discordant. It was not a human voice, in fact I had heard it so many times before but never speaking human language words, only screaming in agony and pain as I was kicking their sorry behinds back to whatever hellhole they had crawled out from.
“I mean you no harm, time is running out, please we need to talk.”
I knew who or rather what was at the other side of the door. I could ignore it, I was certain my wards could withstand any type of attack but given how paranoid I am, I knew I could not just go back to my room and sleep. Not with it outside my front door. Would my employer consider a bonus payment for another banished creature?
“Please, you need to listen to me; the world – your world – is in terrible danger.”
Behind the roughness of the voice, I could discern a female voice, which meant a female victim. Yet another victim. My wards would withstand an attack but I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t bring justice for the victim and her family. I unlocked the door using my right hand, keeping my left hand raised and ready to blast the creature with deadly mind magic. I opened the door just a crack while channelling my power through the pendant. No self-respecting witch really needs any pendant to kick otherworldly visitors back to their original planes of existence, but having one helps greatly to retain high levels of energy over extended periods.
The creature outside my door was a surprise. As I had suspected a female figure indicated a female victim but she – it – was dressed in the most peculiar way even for the standards of Zyn, a city that housed some of the most eccentric and peculiar citizens on the entire planet.
Hope you enjoyed this snippet and thank you so much for reading. I’d be so grateful if you let me know what you think in the comments below – constructive critique is always a writer’s best friend.