Time Shared, Time Lost

Once again before I present this year’s Christmas story, and as I have done all month, I’m linking back to past stories. This one is from 2014. And I’ll be presenting two links. One for the story titled, And It Came To Pass, and the second a personal wish for this time of year, and of course this was for 2014. If this is the first time here and you are interested in reading the other Christmas stories you can find them in the sidebar on the right under December 2015. Each link is presented at the beginning of the post for that week: https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/and-it-came-to-pass/ , https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2014/12/25/a-christmas-wish/

In my short stories of Christmas I try to present different views, lives, and directions instead of the traditional “feel good” story. Because not all have what we have or will this season go as planned or desired. These stories are written to remind us that others may be in situations that do not allow them to appreciate or enjoy what this season represents. And many times because we have loving families and friends it is easy to overlook these other situations or worlds. And we forget how fragile our way of life is, and because of this have a tendency to take it for granted. When we do these things it can trivialize what we truly have and our personal blessings.

This year’s Christmas story is from the perspective of a five-year old. In a way it is funny for me to try to see the world from one so young. After all it was sixty-one years ago when I was five. Could I have used grandchildren for inspiration? No not really as the two we have are grown, and are adults. When they were young we had no contact with them since our daughter and her husband lived across the country from us. Yet, is this not part of writing? As a writer putting one’s self in the shoes of your characters and seeing the world from their perspective? So I guess the obvious question would be: What do you remember of that time in your own life, unless, of course you are five. And for your enjoyment is, Time Shared, Time lost:

A few months ago she had turned five. Five! Who’d have thought she’d be so big? Not her for sure. And while it had been a great birthday party with many of her friends, in the end, the day went too fast and he didn’t show up. Carie looked up at the big calendar. While she had learned to count, it was still hard to do. Still with mama’s help she knew that Christmas was only a few days away. And she could feel the excitement building inside. She really hoped she had been good enough to get those wonderful presents from Santa Claus. Yet, if she wanted to be honest with herself, things hadn’t been going well. And she knew that while she had tried to be good all the time, well, sometimes things just seemed to go wrong.

She had been four when all had changed. She remembered daddy all full of energy and getting ready to leave on one of his trips. She always missed him when he took those trips. Still with what they had they could talk over the computer, (such a big word) and she could see him like he was on TV, which helped keep the loneliness away. She could tell that mama didn’t like to see him go either, but it had been explained to her that this was part of his job. It was a job that took him away from them much too much. In a sense she hated that job. After all he needed to be here for her, and especially mama. She could see how much mama needed daddy even though much of what they talked about she didn’t understand. All they would say to her was “Someday you’ll understand”. Well, she’d really like to understand now. No, not those grownup things she’d overhear now and then, but “why”? Why wasn’t he here? Why things had changed and they were no longer living in that nice house with the really big yard. And why had most of the nice things gone away? And mostly why was mama sad most of the time?

She had to admit that she was too. She had tried to help, but being so young, (she’d heard that word a lot) she didn’t know what to do. So at times she’d crawl into mama’s lap and hold on tight. Many times she’d fall asleep because it was so comforting and nice there. And she had to admit she felt safe there too. Maybe mama felt safe too when they were together this way. Looking out the window she could see the snow beginning to fall. The house, part of a duplex she had been told – whatever that was, was cold. Not freezing, but one had to wear jackets in the house. Jackets in the house, really, she always thought they were for when she went outside. She had complained, but mama had explained they didn’t have the money to be able to keep it as warm as they would like. So blankets and heavy clothing became the rule. It made it difficult when one had to really go – so many layers that had to be removed. Still one learned not to wait too long, reducing those embarrassing accidents.

She sighed wishing for some hot chocolate with marshmallows, but it was something she rarely had now – again, that money thing. “Would you like to go out and play in the snow?”

Carie hadn’t realized that mama was standing behind her watching her look out the window. Yes it would be fun, but they had moved here only a short time ago and her friends were far away and she hadn’t made any new ones yet. She shook her head, while smiling. “No . . . no, I’m good.”

“If you change your mind let me know, okay?”

She had to admit it was tempting. It was always fun to go out and make snow angels, to catch snowflakes on one’s tongue, to try to build snowmen, but there had always been a warm house to go back to once one became cold. She was cold enough here inside. So she continued to look out and imagine how it would be. She heard her mother withdraw, and soon heard her doing something in the kitchen. The kitchen was something else that had gotten smaller as well as her bedroom and every room in this house. And there were times they could hear their neighbors through the walls. When she first heard them she was surprised, but now she was used to it. Part of the changes since daddy hadn’t come home, hadn’t come back to them.

She remembered the day when a stranger showed up at the door and could sense the dread from mama. Mama opened the door, and after a brief conversation with the stranger slowly closed the door, stood there with her head against it, and began to cry. She didn’t understand. What had the stranger done to do this to mama? She had gone up to her and grabbed her leg trying to get her attention, but it hadn’t worked. It was later she learned that the plane daddy had been flying had disappeared, and no one had been able to find it so far. If something wasn’t found soon, the searches would be called off. And nobody knew if he had survived the crash or not. So daddy was considered lost. She wondered how a grownup could be lost. It made no sense to her. Maybe it was like when they would be driving around and mama would tell daddy to ask for directions and daddy would say while smiling, “I’m okay, we’re not lost”.

That first Christmas after daddy “becoming lost” had been really really sad and hard for both of them. But another was approaching and while she hoped for some really nice things what she wanted was for mama not to be sad, and for daddy to come home to the two of them. She knew that both of them had prayed for that to happen last Christmas. Yet here they were alone with each other. Not that she wasn’t close to mama, it was, just that they seemed, well, not whole, not complete, (another of those big words that she thought she understood). Like part of them was missing or broken and couldn’t be fixed. She needed daddy, and she knew in her heart that mama did even more. So once again every night with her prayers she asked God to bring daddy home to them so they could be fixed, and be happy once again. Yet, for all of her prayers there had only been silence.

She wondered if it was her fault. Maybe she wasn’t asking right. Or maybe she had unknowingly done something wrong. She didn’t know, and she didn’t have any answers. So she continued to pray at night before climbing into bed hoping God, as busy as he must be, would hear her desperate prayers and answer them. It would be so nice, so wonderful to see him come back through their front door once again. She then worried, because they were no longer where they used to live that if daddy did come back he’d not know where they were. So she added that to her prayers that when God answered her prayers God would lead daddy back to them.

The days moved past faster than she expected and suddenly it was Christmas Eve. She and mama went to visit her grandparents, and while there she saw many of her aunts and uncles, with her cousins. She had to admit she didn’t know anything about family relationships, or how she was a part of this boisterous, (Even though she wasn’t sure if she really knew what that word meant.) group of people. Still the house was warm, the food great, and the games she and her cousins played made the time go fast. And yes before they left everyone had a gift to open. Most of the time, she had to admit, she was disappointed with what she got from her grandparents. It was always clothes or something similar. What she really wanted was a toy or something she could play with. At least she had fun with others around her age. Yeah there were older cousins, and she had to admit that many times they could be bossy and mean. Eventually it was time to go home. And even though she didn’t want to say or think it she was tired.

Somewhere during the drive home, as she stared out the windshield, (She couldn’t see over the front of the car so she was always looking up into the sky.) watching the falling snow, hearing the steady sound of the motor, and the warmth of the car, she fell asleep. She really hadn’t wanted to but it wasn’t the first time, and she doubted it would be the last. In the distance she felt the car stop, and the motor stopped, leaving only silence. Still half asleep she felt the cold air when mama opened the door and immediately closed it. She heard mama as she crunched through the snow, coming around to her side of the car, and felt herself being lifted by loving arms. Drowsily she smiled at the loving face looking down at her and put her arms around her. The next thing she remembered was mama undressing her and putting her in her night-clothes. She was asked if she needed to go to the bathroom. She shook her head, and felt herself being put into her bed. She was barely awake. Still she remembered the covers being drawn over her and once again smiled. Christmas was tomorrow, and that was all she remembered as she fell into a deep sleep. Yes she did remember mama saying, “Sweet dreams”, before leaving her room, and that was it.

Sometimes, close to morning, she’d have to get up and go to the bathroom. This was one of those times. Maybe she should have gone before bed. But she had been so comfortable, so tired, it just seemed like too much effort. So now she paid for it. More asleep than awake she took care of business and headed back to her room, and her warm bed. On the way she thought she heard voices from mama’s room, but knew that now and then mama watched TV, and figured it must be what she was hearing. Back in her room she glanced outside and it was still dark. She shrugged, climbed back into the warm bed, and was asleep almost instantly – whatever she heard forgotten. Morning, and Christmas wasn’t too far off, but for now sleep was more important. She burrowed deeper under those covers feeling the warmth and comfort. She smiled in her dreams and anticipation of what waited for her under the tree, even though it was a small one.

Suddenly she was awake and excitement filled her. She glanced out the window and could see the gray of dawn and knew it was Christmas morning. She threw off the covers and immediately regretted it as she shivered from the cold. At least the pajamas had footsies so her feet wouldn’t get cold. She grabbed her jacket, and quietly, since she figured mama had to be still asleep – what’s with that really – snuck out to the living room where the tree was. “After all”, she asked herself, “it’s Christmas and who can sleep on such an important morning?” She knew she could go look, and she would, of course, pick up the brightly wrapped gifts and see if she could guess what was inside, but knew she would have to wait until mama came out to join her. The waiting seemed like a lifetime as those gifts begged to be opened, begged to become hers.

She heard the coffee maker start and smelled the wonderful smell of fresh coffee being brewed. She had begged, at one time, to taste coffee, and like the vanilla flavoring which smelled so good, she learned that it didn’t taste anything like it smelled. This was something she’d never understand. How could it be that way? Didn’t the way something smelled mean that how it should taste? Anyway, this meant that shortly mama should be getting up and they could open these wonderful gifts together. She glanced out the front window as it became light enough to see outside, and could see that another layer of fresh snow had been added and there were no tracks in it making the world look new.

She turned in anticipation when she heard movement coming from mama’s room and went over to sit on the couch eager to get on to the next part of this wonderful morning. And to her unbelieving eyes, and such a wonderful gift and surprise, daddy walked out the bedroom with a huge smile. “Hello munchkin”. He held out his arms to her which she gladly ran to as she screamed, “Daddy”, hugging him so tight and almost afraid to let go, God does answer prayers, she thought as she watched mama come out next. Now they were a family once again. Now they were fixed. And as she put her head on daddy’s shoulder and as he carried her to the couch, she thought, It really is the bestest Christmas ever.

* * *

I truly hope your Christmas has been wonderful. It is important to remember the reason for the season and why gift giving is such a large part of what it is. Yes commercialism has taken control, as has the fictional stories, those traditional ones of Santa, and Rudolph. Still if the gift given to mankind over 2000 years ago hadn’t happened then what we celebrate now wouldn’t exist. Take time to look back, and to understand what this truly represents and means to each and every one of us personally – God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

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A Christmas Wish for 2015

Last year for the first time I linked a video for this important time of year. This year and since this is Christmas Eve, I’ll be doing the same. On Saturday I’ll be having my regular weekly post with this year’s Christmas short story plus links back to last year’s story and my wish for the 2014 Christmas season, with that link to a video, of course. This year throughout the month of December, on my Saturday posts, I have been linking back to my past short Christmas stories starting with 2011 the year I began this blog.

I recently heard this song by Casting Crowns and thought it appropriate. Peace on Earth is a wish most of us pray for but have never seen. May your Christmas be a time of friends and family, and a remembrance for the true reason for the season. God Bless, and enjoy.

 

Published in: on December 24, 2015 at 7:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Hunt, Part 1

The 2013 Christmas story is titled, Storms. This is one of those stories that readers wanted to know what happened beyond what the original story presented. So as a result I wrote the sequel to it titled, Storms – The Rest of the Story. And here are the links back to these short stories:  https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/storms/ , and  https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/storms-the-rest-of-the-story/

This week we begin the new episode or short story. Jay and Elsa are now out in the real world and after a couple of false starts are working hard on tracking down the raider networks so they can establish where their temporary camps, and possibly permanent camps are located. Here we begin in one of the many roadhouses that exist close to the trading centers. For the owner and his family it is just another day as they continue to try to survive with what they have. Their original plans had first panned out, but as time has moved on their original plans hadn’t given them the success they expected or had hoped for. Still in most situations we learn to adjust, to make the changes necessary to continue on, and it’s no different here.

We begin this episode from the owner’s point of view as he works the bar. It is late in this day, with it being no different than any other, yet in the roadhouses of the day, one never knows when guests will arrive or what they are about. And for your reading pleasure is part one:

Jason stood behind the makeshift bar that was located in the corner of the roadhouse, (An old word whose origins were unknown.) that he, his wife, and their children owned. Of course they ran it also. There never had been enough coming in to be able to hire anyone. Here in the bar they served beer and wine – made on the premises of course. His roadhouse was on one of the major trails just outside of one of the larger trading centers. And when he had chosen this site, too many years in the past to count, he figured it to be a good location. Far enough out that it would be a good stopping point, a place to refresh before entering into the trading center proper, and all its hustle and bustle, and close enough that they could go there to get anything they personally couldn’t supply themselves. And there had been trees of plenty so they could use some of them to build this place. And the water from the well was sweet – some of the best in the area. So he and his wife decided it would work. Work it did, but never to the level expected.

What had happened was something they hadn’t anticipated. At first, once they were open for business, things went well and they had many visitors, and many who would stay the night. And in those first few years they continued to add to their buildings. But now during the heavy trading season they couldn’t fill their rooms and while they had enough income, it barely met their needs. Because of this they had expanded, growing their own food, and running a small herd of cows to provide milk, meat, cheeses and such, which they would sell here and in the market places inside the trading center. Yes, this trading center had been successful and as such began to grow in their direction, shortening the distance where eventually they were being bypassed because of the proximity of the center. Now any who would stop, would do so because they had arrived at the end of the day or because they had left late on the way back to wherever they might be going.

It was as this growth had been happening and the lessening of the customers that led to creating of the small bar area, plus a few round tables and a small sitting area. It had forced them to begin to grow the grape vines for wine and plant the grains necessary for the beer. The first few seasons had its share of failures, but now after all this time their product was consistent and that was all one could ask – thusly leading to the regular clientele he saw here today, in the late afternoon. Some were from the trading center, and a few were local farmers and such. Still, there were always a couple that remained secretive, and to themselves. He suspected they were spies for the raider clans, but they always behaved themselves, bought a few rounds – generally beer only – and would leave. They would arrive one at a time, and never sit together or even acknowledge each other’s presence. Still it was obvious they knew each other.

When they first began showing up and he surmised who they possibly were, he worried that they were scouting his place. Yet, over time nothing bad had happened, and so he figured they were here to see who might be coming into or leaving the trading center. Still, in the end, he had no proof – none at all . . . Just an uneasy feeling that all was not right with the world. This brought an inward smile. Of course all is not right with the world idiot. Word comes in often enough to let us know that the raider clans are strong and dealing death and destruction wherever and whenever they decide. I guess being this close to the trading center, and one of this size, gives me some protection. I don’t think they’d attack such a large settlement. And, for whatever the reason, some of them spend time here. Maybe that in itself gives me some protection also. In the end I have no way of knowing. And the ones who stop by and loiter about never do anything to raise suspicion anyway.

As he wiped down the bar with a damp cloth he shook his head. He and his family were stuck here, and while they have been doing okay, there had never been enough to make a move, or change their location. Well for good or bad here they’d stay. He had been looking down when he heard the door open. It surprised him in a way, since this was one of the two doors – this one opened to the bar, the other to the area where one rented the rooms. And while on that subject he had been approached a few times where some of the lower class members wanted to use their vacant rooms for the oldest profession. They said they would pay well, and he was sure it was probably true . . . But he and his wife didn’t like that kind of thing – the selling of one’s body, and he knew that in the end they would be drug down into the lawless underworld for which they wanted no part of.

All the regulars for this time of day were here, and while the day was close to ending, any arriving now would be looking to spend the night. It would be some time before the night regulars showed up, and began their tall tales of today’s business. And he suspected this was another reason for the ones he considered spies for the clans to be here. Looking up he was surprised to see a young – not a bad looker either – woman who obviously was wealthy, enter. She stopped once she had come inside, and with what appeared to be indecision, stood there for a few moments as her eyes adjusted to the dim interior. No surprise since he only had a few candles on the tables, and a couple of oil lamps sitting on the counter, in a room with no windows. Is she alone? No one is that stupid – especially a young woman such as this one. She has to be in her mid-twenties, and with what she’s wearing she must have guards somewhere. And usually someone would precede such as this one into any unfamiliar building.

She smiled, even though it was a nervous one, “I’m sorry, I think I’ve entered through the wrong door. Does the other lead to where I can rent a room for the night?” There was an innocence here, as if this was her first time away from wherever she came from. “It seems we are arriving late, and we decided to stop here instead of heading into the trading center where at this time of day it would be difficult to find lodging. You see we are looking to set up a contract and supply some needed items.” Here she paused followed by a frown. “Oh, I wasn’t supposed to say that.”

Jason smiled and asked. “You said we, can I assume that whoever is with you is out taking care of your animals?”

Once again she smiled a dazzling smile, and nodded. “Yes! Yes, that exactly what he’s doing.”

“He? You mean there is only one other with you?”

“Oh, we can take care of ourselves if that’s what you mean.” Her response was quick and somewhat defensive.

“It’s a nasty world out there. Usually someone of your class has a small army to protect them, why only one?”

“It’s simple really. And it’s something we’ve done a lot. With just the two of us it is easier to move, to camp, and it requires less supplies, animals, cost, and such to make the trip. With two we can disappear and not be seen unless we want to be.”

At that moment a male stepped through the door, He had the look of a servant, but seemed to look somewhat like the female albeit older. And Jason had to admit, even if it was to himself, he appeared to be able to take care of himself and this young woman. “Ah madam I believe you have come through the wrong doorway. We need to leave here so I can get a room assigned for you for the night.” He took a quick look around eyeing all who were here and shook his head. “I find nothing but trouble here. Maybe we should move on and chance it in the trading center.”

She smiled at him and shook her head. “No, I’m not ready to face that crowd. We’ll spend the night here.” Once again she turned towards the bar and smiled that dazzling smile. “I’m sorry if I interrupted anything. We’ll be going now.” With that she withdrew back out the door with the servant following.

After she left he could see knowing smiles on much of the crowd and a few cat calls. Naïve that’s all I can say. How’d they ever get here alive? Well, however it had been, luck must have been with them. One of the things he noticed as the two of them left was an increase of interest from the ones he suspected were spies from the raider clans. Not a good thing for those two, but who knows, they just might be able to disappear like they said. Still he suspected that the next time they disappeared it would be permanent and their bodies plus what they carried would never been found.

* * *

Now what? And who is this young woman of wealth? And the thoughts of Jason about where they will most likely end up is probably a more common end to many. With what we know of this world, we know that death comes often, and many times sudden and unexpected. So Jason’s conclusions fit within the world they live. Next week is Christmas weekend and as such I will be presenting my annual Christmas story, and the link back to last year’s story. The one for this year is titled, Time Shared, Time lost. Have a great week, and God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Published in: on December 19, 2015 at 7:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Time of Learning Death and Thoughts of Revenge – Changes

As I presented here last week, Christmas 2011, here for your enjoyment is a look back to Christmas of 2012, and the fictional short story titled, A Darkness Incomplete. If you haven’t read any of my seasonal stories then you will see they are not the traditional types of stories. Not everyone has a great Christmas. In the recent past I watched an animated short titled, The Match Girl – a Hans Christian Anderson story, and animated by the Disney Company. If you have seen the short or have read the story, mine follow more in this direction then the standard “feel good” stories – not to say that many do have happy endings. And here is the link back – enjoy:  https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/a-darkness-incomplete/

If you caught last week’s post you also know that starting this week you will see the changes made to this novel, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown. First off what I’m presenting here is the end of the above titled episode as it has been rewritten or revised. To make it flow into the new episode much of the ending had to become new and move our protagonists in a different direction. And what originally constituted the ending of this episode is now part of  the ending of The Hunt, which only makes sense, since what was the ending of this episode still needs to exist as it moves you into the final episode, Reconciliation.

I begin this post with a portion that hasn’t changed so that you as a reader of the original can re-orientate yourself to where in this episode the changes happen. The actual revision begins after the three stars. I had a reader point out to me that this place appeared to be a mostly empty world. With the story revolving around the three Ed, Elsa, and Jay, and with only the raiders mentioned prominently, it could, in the end, be only a small group of people still surviving. Yes, there was an encounter with a caravan, and a mention of their traders going to the trading centers somewhere out in the world, but that was the only time there were hints of others. So as to reveal their world more fully required this revision and changes, plus the addition of an episode, besides the necessity of bringing in the additional history for the protagonists. And here, revealed to the world for the first time, is the first part of the revision:

. . . After testing out the night vision goggles they no longer had any doubt about the descriptions presented in the archives and lessons. They then searched small scouting teams and found two groups that were used and were famous for their successes. Most of the time they would go in silently, do their assignment, and withdraw successfully, leaving their target confused and damaged, with minimal casualties. These two groups were known as the Navy Seals, and the Army Rangers. And since they were only two (There were other such teams in other parts of the world, but these were the better known.), the tactics used by these specialty forces would have to become their way. It had taken them over two years of hard work to learn what they could. Still with no one alive who had been part of either team, they could only use what they had, and hope for the best.

* * *

Still both were a long way away from being ready to attack the raider clans. One of the most obvious facts lie in the fact they had no idea where any of the clans lived, camped, or gathered. It is one thing to be ready for revenge, but another to carry it off. While they both knew who they wanted to destroy, it still required a target or targets, and at this moment such didn’t exist. Yes they had caught one of the clans on the move, but it would be stupid to attack a force that was ready for battle. And to be honest with only two of them such an attack would be pure stupidity, let alone suicide. “So bro, how are we really going to do this?” There was incredulity in her voice. “I mean it’s all good and well that we are prepared. Well as much as we can be. Still here we are and somewhere in the great vastness of this place there are the raiders and all the ones who help them, and nowhere do I see something that says ‘X’ marks the spot . . . Unless I’ve overlooked something.”

Jay shrugged what else could he do? What she had pointed out and had asked really did sum up what they faced. “I don’t know. I guess we keep practicing what we’ve learned, but there must be some way to begin to track the movements of the ones who are responsible. Come on sis, back when we were both innocent and our village was still alive our lives were going in a completely different direction. I’m sure there was some boy back there you had a crush on just like there was a girl I was interested in. And if life had continued, at this time in our lives, we would have possibly looked back on how naïve we were when we first began looking at the opposite sex.

“I suspect we would have followed in both our parents and our older siblings’ direction. You know, be with our true love, probably with children of our own, laughing about the first ones of the opposite sex that caught our attention. Instead of that future, this is the one we are living now. In a sense it’s ironic. And what I mean by this is we are living our future through the past of our ancestors. Not our sires or our family, but our ancient ancestors. We are using ancient technology and methods that haven’t been rediscovered yet. And other than each other we have no family. They are all dead. And we have decided – yeah I know I kind of pushed it a little – that it’s only right that we should return the favor to the ones who changed our future forever.” He stopped and was silent as he continued to think.

A little subdued by his response, Elsa said, “True. Everything you just said is true. To be honest I think I’d prefer the future that was to be to this one. But no one ever gets to go back. What is is, and what was shall remain. Look we still need to figure all of this out. Yeah we have the most important part of this behind us, but now what? In a sense we live in a vacuum here. We have no contact with the world outside of ‘The Deeps’. So we are kind of isolated here. And maybe that’s our answer.”

“Answer? What do you mean answer?”

“We haven’t been outside of here other than maintaining the equipment. Maybe it’s time we go and see the world. Well, not all of it. Still we need to get out there.”

“Hmmm, you’re right we do. So how do we do this?” Jay shrugged. “I guess we could be just who we are – sister and brother. Maybe with the different traders and caravans we can tag along using them for safety.”

“Sounds good, but from what I remember from our own traders and the town meetings most won’t take on strangers for obvious reasons.”

“True and it makes sense it should be that way. After all, you really have no idea who the strangers are and what their purpose is when joining a caravan.” Both were silent. Then Jay continued. “Maybe we just go out by ourselves for the first few times. With only the two of us, the modern or ancient weapons, to be honest, that we have, we should be safe – more or less – and maybe start to become known. I know we do have some distant family members, or at least I think we do, in some of the villages further to the south. Maybe we should seek them out and maybe tag along with their traders.”

“It’s a thought. Maybe for the first couple let’s just head out to the west and see if we can find some of the trading centers our traders went to. Maybe we can use the fact that we are the only survivors from there – our village, as a way in. I don’t know. Still somehow we need to get out there.”

“Okay, let’s do it. Still we have to figure out ways to follow the raiders when they are on the move and not be seen or caught. Otherwise all of this will come to nothing.”

“Maybe we’ll have more ideas once we’ve done some traveling on our own.”

“Might – just might. So when do you want to do this? At this time we don’t even have the clothing that would match what we used to wear. And to be honest, while we still have our old stuff I doubt either of us would fit into them now.”

Elsa laughed, “No doubt about it. It would be funny to try, but we are no longer teenagers and both of our frames have filled out.”

It was Jay’s turn to laugh, “Yeah, and you especially. Yup, you definitely have filled out and you’re no longer that skinny little urchin who always bothered her older brother. If I was looking you surely would be one of the first to catch my eye.”

She blushed. She had never heard Jay talk this way. In fact when he first started to comment she could feel anger rise a little. Filled out indeed! Yet he, in the end had actually complimented her. He was full of surprises. “Ah, I guess, thank you should be my response?”

Again he grinned, “You are most welcome, sister of mine.”

* * *

How long had they been away? Overall it wasn’t that important, still their time on the trails had been eye opening. Had things changed that much or had it been them who had changed? Of course both knew the answer – it had been them. In a sense it had brought them back to the time of the first conversations with Ed. They hadn’t realized that their way of thinking and of speaking had moved to the old ways. This became obvious the first time one of the caravans overtook them as they headed south on one of the main trails. Both at this time were trying to be more observers than participants. They had been away much too long to jump right back into the society they had left.

As the caravan had passed they waved and smiled, and first saw suspicion from some of the ones guarding, but once it was obvious there were just two it went away. And as any came close they’d pass on words of pleasantry – words that would be forgotten almost immediately. The problem for the two of them lay in the fact that they couldn’t understand them at all. Both looked at each other shocked by this revelation. So they smiled, waved and didn’t say anything. After the caravan passed and was out of sight they pulled off the trail where they could remain hidden. Elsa asked, “Did you understand any of that?”

He shook his head, “No, not at all.” He was silent for a short period of time. “This isn’t something I expected. Okay, I guess this means we have a lot of additional work ahead of us. I think I now know how Ed must have felt when he first heard our conversations.”

“Yeah, really.” Elsa could feel her nervousness grow. At least their first contact had been brief and on the trails. What if they had been entering one of the trading centers or maybe one of the villages where they might have relatives?

In the end they cut this first time out short. Once back inside “The Deeps” they went to the archives and began to study the recordings Ed had made of their conversations when they had been inside the Welcome and processing center. And it was during this time they had come across ways to become others in those same archives. It appeared that spying and spies had existed throughout written history. And when they saw the many disguises the spies used it became obvious it was the route they would need to go.

* * *

With these changes we can now begin the new episode. From here we can see where this will take Jay and Elsa, and what they (and we) can learn about their world beyond their destroyed village and “The Deeps”, where they have been living. If you are one who would like to compare the revision with the original you go to the sidebar on the right and find the ending of A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge under short stories. Until next week when I present the beginning of the new episode, The Hunt, Part 1, God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Bonus Material

Throughout the month of December I’ll be posting links back to Christmas short stories of the past beginning with the oldest from 2011. And on Christmas weekend I’ll be posting this year’s short story with the link back to last year’s. In at least a couple of the short stories they begged for a second part which finished the story and was posted later, and this first one is such. So on this first series of links we will have two. This first one is titled A Christmas story, followed by A Christmas Story, Part 2. https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/a-christmas-story/, https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/a-christmas-story-part-2/.

Beginning next week and for those who have been following the series of episodes from the manuscript or novel, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown, there will  an additional episode. Also there have been a few other changes that will be revealed here in the proper order within the story. So as not to confuse the issue it I’ll begin with the end of the previous episode. After attempting to go with less words than what I normally write it appears to have been largely unsuccessful.

After four months of keeping the manuscript under “exclusive review”, the publisher has rejected the story. And as I stated in the past, rejections are part of this industry. So with the novel free it has allowed me to make changes to the story. I’d say that 95% is exactly as you have read it – that’s if you have been with me from the beginning of these series of episodes. Still when one went from the episode titled, A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge, to the one titled, Reconciliation, it seemed like something was missing. And if I want to be honest there really was. Still, and at the time of writing, I needed to keep the word count down.

In this industry word count is everything. Word count leads to costs. If you do not have enough then you are rejected  because there must be a minimum or “we aren’t interested”. And it is the same on the other side. Too many words, especially if this would be considered a debut book or novel, resulting in the same – rejection. Here on the upper end the costs are in the printing. And if history shows anything within this industry, they lose on that first novel. So as a writer trying to get that “debut novel” out there one must find that sweet spot. That point in the word count where it draws the agents, publishers, and editors interest, but not too short or long so you will be overlooked.

Obviously the story, your characters, the world the story takes place, and all the other mundane details must be there otherwise it’s just words on a page. And in a sense this takes me back to elementary school when a friend and myself were passing time by writing a story. Our goal simply was to get as many words on those lined sheets of paper we could. And probably in the end it was no more than gibberish. And in many ways that is exactly what we can see in some of the writings of today leading one to wonder how they were ever published. So the story must be strong as the characters. And the characters must be living breathing three dimensional people.

These individuals who drive the story must have a life, a history, and a possible future. They must be believable, and even the antagonists must be someone who could exist. The characters must be real enough that readers would love to meet them if such were possible. Still if we do not have a world for these actors to live in then the story can still fail. These worlds do not have to be real in the sense of the physics of this universe. Fantasy comes to mind as it is the realm of magic and myth. The critical component is that the laws of these worlds must be consistent within themselves. And if not the stories will fail just as quickly. (An example of these types of worlds is Ann McCaffrey’s “Dragon Riders of Pern” series. When one first looks at the titles it would be assumed we would be in a world of fantasy. Yet, the books are science fiction. And they work because the laws of our universe are consistent, making the dragons part of this universe, and thusly believable.)

Back to the series of episodes that constitute my novel. So once I got the rejection I immediately began to write the new episode. It’s titled, The Hunt. And with the addition of this one it required changes to the one that preceded it. Instead of A Time of Learning Death and Revenge, it is now titled A Time of Learning Death and Thoughts of Revenge. By adding those two words we now change the whole tenure or direction of the episode. By adding this new episode it also required a rewrite of the ending of this one stated above.

So now we have a new ending to A Time of Learning Death and Thoughts of Revenge, which now flows better and leads one into the next episode, The Hunt. What this new episode does is fill in what would have transpired to our two protagonists before they attacked that raider encampment. Now we learn what led up to and how they were able to do this. This was then followed by a rewrite of the ending. Now there is an epilogue which makes the close of the novel work much better.

The cost? As there is always a cost to these things. Word count has climbed from 82,000 words to just over 98,000 words. Meaning that it barely fits into what would be considered a “debut novel”. And truthfully even here it is short of my normal length, but not by much. So it seems, for me, I need to come close to what I’ve written in the past as far as length. Otherwise the story suffers by not bringing out the experiences the characters must have, must live, so that in the end, after a reader has completed the story they can say it has been a great ride and adventure. And maybe wish that the novel hadn’t ended or hope that there are sequels.

The crazy thing about any novel is the fact that what the writer originally envisioned, and eventually publishes is not what it becomes. Since all of us are in our own personal worlds, what we see, what we read, is ours alone. And as such each time a novel is read, it gets a new vision. And many times it isn’t close to what the author saw.

So in the next few weeks you, once again, get a chance to read and make it your own, this upcoming episode – The Hunt, plus the portion that changed leading into this episode, and the new ending. And once again it gives you a window into the creative process of bringing a story to life. It is one of the things you rarely get a chance of experiencing, unless, of course, you are a writer. And one last thing; to bring any of these pages to you requires lots of work. First, obviously, is the writing. If I stopped there and posted what I originally wrote I doubt I’d have any followers at all, since what would be here would be rough to say the least. Each and every one of these posts are edited and revised a minimum of seven times and could easily go twice that high. As an example this post has fourteen revisions. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Published in: on December 5, 2015 at 7:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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