So tonight on day 6 of NaNoWriMo, I have decided to change things up a bit. On every Sunday of November I will release a sample chapter of my first book of The Hoarding Series called Junkland.
What I will be posting is not the final draft! It is as final as I could make it before sending it out to Beta Readers and an editor. After writing my second book and all of the world history, I will still need to go back and fix a few things in Junkland to make sure it fully lines up. But overall the story will be the same.
On a further note, the writing will be choppy in some places and awesome in other places. This will all be fixed shortly down the road. But I want everyone to experience the story and hopefully get some quality feedback!
THE WIND WAS HOWLING in all directions, like a pack of wolves. The trees danced and whistled in the night as if they were alive. The air was thick and humid, almost suffocating. The sound of war faded in the distance as she ran towards the mountains.
Her hair was blowing in a sweaty tangled mess, making it difficult to see in front of her. She didn’t have a free hand to fix it nor readjust the bag digging deep into her shoulders like razor sharp teeth. Her heart was racing in her chest as she moved one foot after the other; she had to keep moving.
Her baby was crying in her left arm, wrapped in a blue woolen blanket. She clutched him close to her chest as she clenched her staff tightly with her right hand.
They were close behind her. She knew she could stop them in a heartbeat. But she had to save it. She knew she didn’t have much left as she took a quick glance at the glass sphere at the end of her staff. It was glowing a faint blue.
The dried up leaves beneath her feet crunched as she ran through the dense forest. The branches swayed violently, cracking and snapping in an angry off beat rhythm.
She heard something whip past the right side of her face. She felt the heat as it zipped by. A blue light collided into a tree five feet away sending shards of wood flying dangerously in the air. She ducked to cover her baby. The sharp pieces of wood dug deep into the soft skin of her arms but she ignored the pain as she kept running.
She took a quick glance over her left shoulder. She saw their yellow suits amongst the dark green foliage. She spun her head back around, wincing as a thin branch whipped across her cheek. She felt the warm blood slide down her skin as the wind blew on it. But she kept running. One foot after another. That’s all that mattered. She couldn’t be caught. Not Now. Not until her baby was safe. She had to make it to the mountains.
She heard another blast echoing behind her. She covered her baby’s head as she ducked behind a tree. The blue light blinded her as it exploded into the tree trunk, catching it on fire. It didn’t take a second for it to start spreading quickly throughout the forest.
She found herself covered in a dense cloud of smoke. Coughing profusely, she hunched over, staying as low to the forest ground as possible so she could still move forward.
She was fighting her own battle out in the forest while leaving the war behind her. The whole night had been chaotic. Ever since her husband flew through their front door.
She had been lying anxiously in bed, worrying about John out there fighting in the war. He had told her that everything would be okay. That she and the baby would be safe in their home and that she should get some rest. But how could she rest while he was out there? When she didn’t know if he would ever return to her?
Sleep eventually had come to her. But it didn’t last long.
She had bolted up. The sound had come from downstairs. Was that the door? She heard footsteps running up the stairs.
Her heart had almost jumped out of her chest. It was him. He was safe. But he sounded—
The door to her bedroom had flown open. John stood in the doorway. He was sweaty and the expression on his face held utter fear. His yellow helmet was shaking on his side.
Partha had flung the white sheets to the side and rushed towards her husband. “John! What is it? Is the war—”
“We need to leave. Now!”
“John, what is going on?”
“She is coming for him,” John had told her. There was sweat curving down his thick jaw line.
“Who is coming, John? Not—”
“Your sister, Partha. Your sister is coming for our boy!”
Partha could not believe what she was hearing. “My sister? Our boy? The king would never allow her—”
“He is too busy fighting the war. The Witch is taking over. We aren’t going to last much longer against her. She is too powerful.” He stepped towards Partha and took both her hands in his. “I was there, Partha. I was there in the throne room with her. Your sister saw something in her sphere. I…I don’t know exactly what she saw but she kept muttering something about using him to end this war…to stop the Witch! She is coming for him this very second.” He looked deep into her eyes. “You must believe me, Partha…you must!”
Partha felt tears coming. “Oh, John!”
There was shouting from outside the window across the room. Their heads turned towards the sound.
John turned back to his wife. “Partha. Please. We must hurry. We need go to the mountains.”
“No. I do not believe this. Let me go and speak to her.” She was tired and confused. She didn’t know what to believe. “She will listen—”
She began to move past John but he stopped her. “There is no time, my love. We must go now!” He held her there, gently. John had placed both of his hands on either side of his wife’s face. He stared deeply into her eyes. “Trust me.”
“No! This isn’t happening.”
She cried. John pulled her into her chest. She sobbed as he placed his hand on the back of her head, holding her close. It was soothing. She liked when he comforted her. She pulled away. There had been hair in her face. John brushed it gently behind her ear. He then wiped the tears with his thumbs; the touch tingling her cheeks. “We need to leave right now. I will bar the door and we can escape through the back. We will head towards the mountains.”
Partha had wrapped her arms around her husband. She dug her head into his chest again. John cupped the back of her head and rubbed her back smoothly with the tips of his fingers. “I know. But we will be free from all of this soon enough. We will start a new life beyond the mountains and be rid of the Witch and this war once and for all. Get your things together and grab the baby. I will meet you downstairs.”
John left the room.
Partha had changed out of her sleep clothes and into her leather tunic and boots. She had stuffed whatever her hands could find into a small bag: money, extra clothes, and a few knives they kept hidden in their dresser. She rushed downstairs and gathered a few apples, a loaf of bread, carrots, and some berries. When her bag was full, she threw it over her back. It was heavy but she would manage. She ran back up the steps to her bedroom. She grabbed her staff that was leaning against the wall, next to her bed. It was glowing a faint blue. I barely have any power left, she recalled thinking. She had grabbed it, took one last look around her room, and left.
She had walked out, down the hall, and turned right into the baby’s room. She nudged open the door, being careful not to wake him as she crept in. The moonlight was shining on the crib across the room. She walked over to him and looked down. Her baby was sleeping peacefully, sucking on his thumb. He was just shy of one year and beautiful. He was starting to grow a nice set of hair. She wrapped him in his thick blue blanket and held him close to her chest with her left arm as she walked back downstairs.
“You look stunning as always, Partha.” John smiled at her while he stood in the hallway below the stairs. Partha stood on the very last step, eye level with John.
“Is this really the time?” but she couldn’t help but smile back at him. He was tall, had a nice set of brown hair, and a thick jaw that she always liked to trace with her finger tips.
“I love you, Partha.” John had said when he leaned closer to his wife. He had kissed her firmly on the lips. The kiss lasted for what seemed an eternity.
“I love you too, John.” Partha took the last step off of the stairs.
John rubbed the baby’s head. He rolled inwards towards Partha’s chest as if not wanting to be disturbed.
“I barred down the front door. It won’t hold long but it will suffice.” John left his yellow helmet on the table and unsnapped his weapon from his belt, attaching it to the tube that ran to a large pack on his back. He placed his right hand on the handle and his left on the bottom, towards the front. He turned to Partha. “Quickly now.”
John opened the back door and held it open for her. When she was down the steps to the backyard, John walked out and closed it quietly behind them.
The sound of war could be heard in the distance. She remembered hearing screaming and shouting. There were explosions that echoed off the mountains in the distance. And she remembered the night sky. It wasn’t dark and black like it normally was; it was glowing blue and red.
There was a crash from inside their house; the sound of a door being blown off its hinges.
“Quickly! Cross the yard!” He had yelled to her.
Partha had looked up. The giant mountains were looming over them. They don’t seem so far away, she remembered thinking as they crossed the yard to their back fence, towards the forest.
The sound of footsteps were marching through their home. People were shouting, searching for them.
Partha, John and the baby were half way across the yard when their backdoor burst open. Partha looked back. There were three men piling onto the lawn.
“In the name of the king, stop or we will shoot!” One of them had ordered.
“Keep going Partha! I will hold them off!”
“No! John? What are you doing?” she had turned around to look at him.
“Trust me! I will hold them off and meet you in the forest.”
She had turned and raised her staff. “I can save us! Let me save us!”
“Don’t Partha! Save your power! We will need it for later. We have a long journey ahead. Save it…I will hold them off. Run!”
Before she could argue, John had turned. He raised his weapon towards the three men in yellow suits. His fingers pressed down on the trigger. He fired. A blue light shot out at the closest man.
Partha listened to John. She had turned and ran. She was closing in on the gate up ahead. The gate that would lead her into the forest. I will leave the gate open for John and meet him on the other side. Everything will be okay. I will meet him on the other side. The baby began to cry.
She had heard more blasts coming from behind her but she dared not look. I will meet him on the other side.
“AHHHH!” There was a yell.
Partha had turned around. Her heart sunk into her stomach.
John was lying on his back. He was facing her with his head upside down on the grass. He was looking at her. She remembered the blood…
“Partha…” he reached a hand towards her and their baby. “Run…to the mount—”
There was another blast. A blue light shot out from the center man’s weapon, hitting John in the chest.
Partha remembered the scream. It was so high pitched and painful. She remembered the moment her husband stopped moving.
Another man lifted his weapon and walked around the body. He pressed down on the bottom trigger. The earth had suddenly begun to shake. There had been a deep low humming sound, gradually growing louder and louder.
“John…” she took a step towards him.
A blue light, brighter than the last, shout out and encompassed his body. It had blinded her. She had to cover her eyes with her staff. When the light had cleared…John’s body was gone.
“No…” she couldn’t recall if she had said it or thought it.
“Stop her!” One of the men had yelled. “Don’t let her get away!
Partha didn’t look back. She had turned and ran, towards the mountains.
She did not know how long she had been running; maybe an hour, maybe more. All she knew was that her feet were killing her. But she wouldn’t give up. She would not let John’s death be wasted with her being captured. She would not let that happen. The mountains were closing in ahead of her.
The smoke was spreading amongst the forest but she kept low to the ground, covering her baby.
There was another flash of blue. She heard it wahhing behind her. This one hit the ground by her feet. She went flying forward, crashing into the blanket of leaves on the forest floor. Her baby’s crying turned to shrieking as he rolled out of her arms. Her staff was gone from her hand.
Her head was spinning from the explosion. The baby’s cry sounded far and distant, almost hollow. She heard shouting from behind her. That regained her consciousness.
She saw her baby, not too far up ahead. Her staff was lying on the ground next to him. She had to reach him. She had to reach her staff. She crawled, clawing at the loose dirt beneath her fingertips. She pushed herself forward with her legs. A root scraped her lower stomach, peeling the skin away. She stretched another hand forward and another. She was almost upon them. A blast hit the ground a foot away from her right hip: too close. She picked up her pace. She recalled her husband’s last words as she pushed forward. ‘Don’t Partha! Save it! Save your power!’ He was right. But what choice did she have? They were closing in on her and she would be caught. She had to use it. Only a little.
“I’m sorry John,” she whispered as she dove forward. She crouched over her baby, protecting him from the blasts. She grabbed her staff with her right hand and turned.
Partha raised her staff and closed her eyes. She breathed in a deep flowing breath. It ran down her throat to her lower stomach and curved back up to her chest and back out her mouth. She felt the power. She felt it running from her heart, down the veins of her right arm, and up into the glass sphere. She let her mind focus, letting it flow through her. Every muscle in her body pulsed. A blue light shot up and out from the glass sphere, forming a bubble around her and her baby like a shield.
The three men broke through the dense trees to where she was standing. They stopped.
“Where did they go?” one of them asked.
“I don’t know. I could have sworn they went this way.” Another said.
“Do you hear anything?” The third asked.
“No I hear nothing.” The first man pointed his weapon at where Partha was standing. “They were right here.”
Partha held her breath.
The third man took a step forward. “Let’s keep moving. We cannot lose her. She will not be happy if we let them get away.”
They marched forward, deeper into the forest.
Partha felt the power fading. She held it for a little longer. She could not chance wasting it all. But she had to make sure they were out of sight. When their footsteps faded, she let go. The muscles in her body ached. She brought the glass sphere down in front of her face. I used too much. She turned her gaze towards the mountains and then back down at her baby.
“We are going to make it little one. We are going to make it.” She gave her baby a little nuzzle with her nose. She continued her journey towards the mountains as the sphere on her staff glowed an even fainter blue…