Story-a-Day May! Day 10.

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I wrote yesterday but was too tired to think. And while I’ll willingly share rough drafts in much of their rough and tumble glory, sometimes I have to say no.

I’ve written a little this evening. I was exhausted after work today, and maybe I can get enough sleep tonight if I walk away from the computer at a decent hour.

But here’s what I managed to write today. I took some of the scene I tried to write yesterday and redid it. It’s still rough, VERY ROUGH! But thanks for reading anyway.

The clock tower no longer told time. City officials said the gears came to a halt after the Workers Rebellion twenty years back. The trains failed to run, leaving the needed parts undelivered. The Clock Master joined the rebellion and no one else could see to the needs of massive machine. No one seemed interested in fixing it, and Ida thought of it as nothing more than a landmark about as significant as the non-working petrol station at the end of her street.

Ida leaned against the tower wall, near the plaque declaring it a monument to those who stood for tradition and against the rebellion. People didn’t read the plaque. Not even Ida read it as she stood there idly waiting for Millie-Marie.

A few city officials argued the city clock stopped turning when the governor refused to pay the engineers and staff who kept the clock tower and most other municipal offices in working order. The clock tower could work again if the governor released the funds and apologized. Ida knew nothing about this. She’d have needed a bit of time to remember who the governor even was.
Citizens believed other stories. Ida’s mother had repeated a rumor she claimed not to believe but that she couldn’t stop talking about. The clock tower ceased telling time when the governor, or his henchmen perhaps, threw the Clock Master into the gears. The Clock Master, Ida’s mother assured the children, hadn’t joined the Rebellion. He’d lead the damn thing until crushed at two minutes to twelve.

Ida’s classmates had sometimes dared each other to sneak into the tower and crawl into the works. “You’ll see the Clock Master’s bones jammed in the teeth,” said one boy Ida never particularly liked.

“I heard they used the blood of unwanted children to grease the gears,” she’d replied. She’d never heard such a thing, but she couldn’t resist adding bloodshed to a story. Her embellishments had made her mother laugh.

“That why you missing so many brothers and sisters?” the boy asked.

She pushed him. “Am not.”

“Uh-uh. Your mom’s had so many kids, she’s been selling them for body parts.”

She’d kicked him in the shins. “Go to the tower and bring back a bone if you’re so clever.”

Now, Ida leaned against the tower and its shadow fell over the marketplace. Few people ever looked up at the tower’s worn face. Ida didn’t believe any of the stories. She believed what her father had told her. One day the great clock quit. The gears came to a stop and the Clock Master vanished. Perhaps he never existed. Once in a while someone wondered out loud about fixing the old thing, but the town needed more fresh food brought in and more armaments at the wall. Who argued for wasting resources on a timepiece? Who even cared about time?

I haven’t even figured out what genre this story is going to be. Hmm…

May 25th. Did not miss it!

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Well, I missed yesterday, but I wrote something today. Thank goodness.

Hannah let herself be led out of the basement and into the hall. She didn’t trust this nurse, but she had no place to run.

Your heart is bent on chaos, the nurse had said. Holding the nurse’s hand Hannah knew it was true. Like her grandmother. Her grandmother caused trouble. Hannah knew that much. She slipped the metal pick-pocketing tool into her hand. If the nurse wanted trouble, she’d give it to her.

Nurse Meredith knew the Asylum and she knew how Security thought and acted. She also knew they’d checked this corridor already. They wouldn’t be back for a while yet. “You want to unlock everything. Is that right?”

“And what if I do?” Hannah answered.

“Then start with that door over there. I assume you’ve a key or something. I’m going to start on this side of the hall. You start over there.”

“Seriously? You. But you work here. Why are you telling me to—”

“Get to work, you little fool. Before Security starts thinking. Just unlock the door and move on to the next.” Meredith pointed. “Face what you wanted.”

Hannah hesitated, but she took the lock-pick and knelt at the door.

May 12th and fitting the writing in where I can

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I’m writing in the afternoon instead of my usual late night, last minute time. My hair is coming out like crazy and tonight I’m getting what’s left shaved. I’m guessing I won’t feel like writing after that. And I’m not even at home. I’m watching my son and his dog in Agility class. Sort of watching. Trying to balance everything.

Hannah didn’t understand why it was so easy to walk thorugh the halls in the dark. She looked in corners for cameras and kept glancing over her shoulder. She came up to a door that was a prettier wood and that had a brass plate at its center. Office.

The door was locked. She knelt down to pick the lock, but when the metal of her lockpick touched the keyhole, she heard a low whir. The door swung open.

Hannah hesitated. The empty office beckoned. File cabinets waited behind a large desk next to a wide window. Things of metal and glass gleamed in the dark. She entered the room.

In other parts of the Asylum, patients were waking up. In one room woke a woman in her middle years. She dreamed every night of night of shoes. Her file said she’d killed her sisters in an argument over shoes and a man.

Next to her woke a young man accused of following one too many dancing girls. And in the next room woke another young man who believed he’d been turned into a swan.

All the patients woke, but they didn’t all get up from their beds. A few were afraid. They had no memory of waking up in the night and they imagined monsters or witches in corners waiting for them to give themselves away.

A few though were thrilled at being out of bed even if they couldn’t open their doors. One woman immediately began to dance. Another woman worked at pulling her bed apart as if she were searching for something under the mattress.

The night had been disrupted, and management was about to notice.

May 6th and almost out of time.

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Okay. Started late, but here it is. Six days down! Thanks to everyone who reads.

Hannah Martin liked dark places. She liked scary stories, black clothes, and Oujia boards. She believed in impossible things and once talked to her father into spending the night in a cemetery.

Her father encouraged her. He told her she was born at midnight under a full moon. He let her dye her hair black and fill her bedroom with curiosities and charms. But he wouldn’t talk about his mother or say how she died.

At six years old, Hannah noticed how her father would always glance in the direction of the Asylum when he drove nearby. At ten years old, she discovered that he visited the Asylum once a week. And after all these years, he still never talked about his mother in the past tense.

But all of inquiries about her grandmother were ignored, and Hannah decided to find out for herself. She wasn’t frightened by stories of the Asylum. Besides, she reasoned, even if her grandmother wasn’t there, the place had plenty of mysteries to explore.

Now on the inside of the Asylum grounds, Hannah left the rope hanging down the side of the wall and she listened for any sign that someone might have seen her. She hoped there were no guards making rounds.

Fairly certain no one had seen her come in, she looked up towards the roof. The angle was all wrong to see if the boy was still up there. Maybe this place let children out on the roofs at night. Who could say a place like this didn’t. Maybe the inmates ran the Asylum. What did she know? Rumor and speculation.

The night air was cold, but she was too excited to feel it. She took a few steps towards the nearest window when she heard the first bird overheard. Odd to see such birds this time of night. Another bird came, and another. She leaned back against the Aylum wall as the sky filled with black birds. They made no noise other than the flapping of their wings, and then they disappeared from her line of vision and were quiet.

Passing by the window, Hannah ducked down. She planned to find the back entrance and pick the lock. She’d bought a set of lockpick tools online, and she’d practiced on as many locks as she could with getting caught.

A great rustling of wings brought her to a stop. The birds soared from the roof in a tight flock. It looked for a moment as if they were carrying something. The boy? Hannah shook her head. She believed in fortune-telling, auras, and talking to the dead. But birds didn’t carry little boys of roof tops.

Watching the cloud of birds move away from the Asylum and over the woods, Hannah remembered the guys who’d come with her to the wall and who were supposed to be with her now. She didn’t regret leaving them behind, but she wondered if they were waiting for her or if they’d get lost in the woods on the way back home. She shrugged and turned her attention back to the task at hand. Being lost for one night in the woods wouldn’t do the guys any harm. Might do them some good.

The Princess Detective: excerpt 7

You shouldn’t visit the wolves when the moon is full.

The Princess knows this. Every child is told. Keep your knives clean and sharp. Listen when your elders tell you their dreams. Eat well. Ask permission. Stay out of the woods–especially when the moon is full.

Most houses have these rules on a wall in their house.

The winter air slipped under the folds of her coat. She wasn’t sure she’d see her house again. How, she wondered, did the Prince feel the last time he walked in the woods? Cold, probably. And as if he’d walk out again.

Footsteps in the dark behind the trees made her forget the Prince. She focused on the unhurried steps and kept walking.

The Princess Detective: a narrative break

The townspeople dream of killing the wolves. The wolves, able to do as they please, dream of very little.

Every few years to town sends a fighter to challenge a wolf. Sometimes the wolf allows the fighter to live. But the Prince was no fighter. He had no reason to approach the wolves.

The wolves, the townspeople concluded, must have approached him. The more the townspeople talk about it, the more convinced they become that promises were made and broken. Everyone knows you can’t trust wolves. How, they wondered, did the Prince forget this basic truth of their lives?

Another truth of their lives that they were quite keen to remind the Princess of at every opportunity was chosen to find the truth. They waited for her to do her job. When she walked into a room, they looked at her expectantly.

The Princess realized the moment the crown was placed on her head that while she was expected to find the truth, nothing in the all of the documents and scriptures of the town said that she had to share it.

The Princess Detective: Excerpt 6

Cordelia, thought the Princess, would love nothing more than to provoke a princess to fight. The Princess wouldn’t give Cordelia the satisfaction.

Finally cutting Cordelia’s throat wasn’t what she needed to do. Focus on what you need, her father always said, not on what you want.

She hadn’t wanted to be a princess and she didn’t see how she or anyone could need her to be. The Princess sighed and stared into the woods. Cordelia’s house behind her. Not doubt Cordelia was watching, but the Princess wouldn’t turn to see.

Night fell early in the woods. The Princess pulled her black cloak tighter and chose her path. She wished she had a way to know if the wolves were hungry.

*

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