Week One


I’m about 25% of the way through my word count goal of 50,000 words for Camp Nanowrimo this April.  I’m averaging about 2,000 words per day.  Some days more, some days less.  The point being that I’m using this to get into a habit of writing at least every day or every other day.  The story is taking a different turn than I expected.  I kind of half-ass see it as a twisted Hansel and Gretel, because I’ve swapped from the girl being the main character to a character I’d originally only introduced at the end of the first incarnation of this story.

The world is less complex in descriptive expectation, though I’ve built the world very complex behind the scenes. I’m pretty excited, I think, to get through this story.  I guess the biggest thing that I stumble on is the fact that I’m in need of a title!  Nothing fits, but I can’t think of this project as Untitled forever!

So I plod away and hope that somewhere along the story’s road that a title springs to mind.

This Week’s Excerpt: Cam’s POV

Two men scramble over each other in the dirt, dust pluming up like some kind of putrid disease cloud.  The binoculars distort their limbs with every gesticulating gesture they share between them.  Their clothing is ratty and dirty, torn and patched so many times over that it’s easy to wonder how that shit stays on.  They are at the base of what amounts to a large pile of trash, probably setting traps for when it’s Feast Day.  Traps that will tear off the legs and limbs of the unsuspecting, but these men seem to be arguing over something stupid.  My fingers roll over the knob that adjusts the lenses and brings my vision in closer, close enough to try and catch a glimpse at one of their wrists.  My guess is that they’re getting to the age where a heated debate is going to matter.  This zoomed in, and I can see the calculation on the younger man’s face as he pushes the older man into more of a rabid frenzy.  The older man pushes the younger one, but neither of them notice the kid scrambling across the old bones of last month’s trash left to rot beneath the heat of a false sun.  The kid doesn’t matter.  Nor does her long face and starving eyes.  She’ll pick something clean, and I don’t give a damn about some heaped trash.  However, her eyes give away the drama happening out there on the mound.

Flipping the binoculars up to rest on the crown of my head throws me into the real world, where the massive food trough and the mound of trash that spills out of it becomes nothing more than a small hill more than a handful of miles away.  I’m safely tucked away in the one part of the Forsaken City that’s high enough to get a good view over the crumbling ruins of what was probably a great ideal.  A meager meal passes for what most would call lunch and I’m just about to pick up the weirdly fried dumpling when I see one man doing some kind of crazy dance.  He’s nothing more than a tiny dot until I flip the massive binoculars down over my eyes once more.  Immediately, the man comes into view and he’s flailing about clawing at his arm.  Already his hand is turning black, like it’s rotting right off his body.  The kid barely notices other than to give both men a feral assessment before she goes back to collecting trash.  A garbage kid, is what she is.  Turning trash into things she can exchange for rations of food.  It is the younger man that benefits, falling back a few steps as the older man tumbles to his knees.  If I weren’t so far away, I’d hear his cries of agony.  I’ve seen it before and I’m sure I’ll see it again.  Most of us who’ve learned to make our lives down here in the trash heap have learned that you don’t push someone like that.

Because then the Enforcers come to carry them away.  Which is exactly what’s happening.  The garbage kid has split, but the young man is too dumb to realize what’s going to happen.  Obviously, he’s here for punishment or he fell below on their stupid tests they hold in the clean parts of the city.  The parts that don’t like to acknowledge that beyond the Lower City’s outer wall, there is us.  The Forsaken.

Sure as shit, even as I absently shove half that dumpling in my mouth and chew through the rubbery noodle and the meat that’s probably rat with shredded lettuce bits salvaged from a withered, moldy stock, I watch the hover craft come into view.  I don’t know if that’s what it is, but it’s sleek and black and hovers above us in passing judgement.  Two Enforcers — clad entirely in shiny black like some strange carapace has encased them so that not even their identity is known — drop down and grab the man.  I flick my fingers across the knobs, and the lenses shift again, bringing the world into even closer view.  My sister made these binoculars out of warped glass that she molded into the brass framed lenses.  It’s bulky, but does the job.  Enough that I can see the younger man’s face when the Enforcer turns on him.

I’ve never seen one up close, and I really don’t fucking want to.  The false sunlight shines off the helmet encasing his head when he grabs the dude’s arm and yanks up the ratty sleeve.  All it takes is a second and the other man’s screaming — or I assume, given the way he’s suddenly flailing about with his mouth open.

Bottom line?  That black shit is crawling up his arm too.

I can’t watch the rest, so I pull the whole contraption off and let the sour wind cool the sweat around the crown of my head.  I wash the aftertaste of fear down with the rusty water from my canteen.  That fate is waiting for us all.

“Welp, I guess that’s two less for Trough Day.”  Sarcasm is my bread and butter and it bubbles up even when I’m alone.  Looking down at my own wrist, the bluish numbers that glow beneath the skin promise me that I am nowhere near the edge, but Trough Day always costs me at least a point or two off my total.  I got enough, I think, to last me through my twenties if I’m careful.  We don’t live long down here.  Only a few graybeards make it, and that’s only if they somehow manage to earn back what it takes to live in this forsaken place.

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