Chapter 24: Maru is captured by some teenage louts.
I'm working on the final polish at the moment, formatting the pdf and then the book should be available for purchase early in the New Year.
Chapter one -> Twenty-five = complete, finished, DONE!
Time to get drawing!
Word Count: 46,874 /25,000 *
Story = 187% complete
Art = 1%
Got off to a bit of a slow start this morning - slogged out a few hundred words before heading off to the swamp to see what could be seen. Found some swans. Funny that to most folks the black swan is an oddity and weird, but for me to see a family of WHITE swans today was a truly beautiful and inspiring sight. They're VERY rare in NZ, and only really live around Lake Ellesmere. Also saw a pair of grebes. I love grebes, they're so angular and have awesome hair-styles.
Neither grebes nor swans appear in my story. Maybe I should remedy that.
After returning home and heading out again in search of lunch and to visit the library, I finally settled down to writing at around 3 pm. My mother rang just as I was getting into the swing of things and delayed things further.
But, now some few thousand words later I can say it.
The story is FINISHED!
So, I didnt' reach the 50k mark. I never actually intended to. The fact that I managed to do 46k rather impressed me - I didn't think I had that much story to tell. But once she was born, Aroha just took over.
But today's difficulty was the climax.
It had to be good, it had to be action packed, it had to have tension. After some rumination, I decided I needed to split Maru and Aroha up. Easily done - they needed to quarrel. Aroha's a stubborn hen anyhow and Maru's a bit on the sensible side. He called her "a pet" (and then possibly a "duck"). Then I had to make something bad happen that would get them both together.
And once I started, it worked quite well.
Anyhow, here's today's extract and now I am off for a celebratory chai.
This conversation is between the members of the (human) Stillwater "gang" who have just captured Maru (Aroha's not-boyfriend) and are planning on cooking up some WCFW (West Coast Fried Weka). Note: This is an overheard conversation (NOT seen), so I did not see the need to define who said what. She's a weka, males and females don't sound particularly different to her.
“Chop off its head, see if it runs around.”
“That's sick, man.”
“Oh, don't be such a wimp. Haven't you ever killed a chook before? We used to time how long it took before the body realised it had no head and dropped. My record was one minute thirty seconds. Dumb birds. Don't even know when they're headless.”
“Yeh, I've killed 'em. But we normally snap the neck. Much cleaner.”
“Actually, there was a chicken what lived for two years.”
“Oh yeh, right.”
“Nah, it's true. They called him 'Mike', had him in a circus and everything. Had to be fed with a syringe. Choked to death in the end.”
“No, it's not. It's fowl.”
“Oh shut up, Stephen.”
- Chapter twenty three = barely begun
Word Count: 43,479 /25,000 *
Story = 173% complete
Art = 1%
Barely eeked out 800 words today - and they weren't very good ones. Have come to a bit of a stalemate. Aroha is reaching the end of her journey, and I need one final, exciting, event to tie everything up and give us a thrill before the conclusion. But... I'm a little stuck on what that will be.
I thought I might have Maru caught by a hawk and she have to rescue him, but that seems a little cheesy.
So now I'm thinking humans. In particular, a bunch of bored West Coast teenagers stuck in Stillwater or Dobson for the summer holidays. This leads me to the next question:
What do teenagers talk about nowadays?
Keeping in mind that these are country kids - not 'townies" and they're probably not as interested in the latest celebrities or that sort of thing. There may well be some dope involved, but I don't want to actually mention that in the text, as this is aimed at kids, so it would be inferred. They will be smoking, and possibly hanging around a burned out car or EQ damaged house.
I'm not sure exactly what they're going to do to our heroes - maybe throw stones at them, making set their dog on them. Maybe try to catch them and cook them up for the BBQ.
All suggestions welcome!
- Chapter twenty three = not yet begun
Word Count: 42,924 /25,000 *
Story = 171% complete
Art = 1%
Went back and added some more to "Chapter 21: Catch of the Day". Decided Aroha had to at least try to get the fish. Also got them onto the Tranzalpine. I deliberated for ages how a weka could sneak onto the train - then I realised - she could just walk right on. The doors are left open for the passengers when they stop. The only bit of unrealism is that the train doesn't normally let the passengers off and on again at Moana. But we'll just put that down to some changes to services thanks to the EQ.
Of course, once on the train, the birds couldn't roam around at will - not one the passengers had seen them. So they would have to be captured and put into some sort of confinement until they could be safely "thrown off".
Next stop - Stillwater. A tiny township of which I remember nothing (except the lineup of cars. No wait, that was Dobson.), If I recall, Stillwater was all old wooden buildings, moss covered power lines and fense posts and very little else. Oh, I think there was a train yard too. It's the junction between the west central line and the tranzalpine line.
Here's the passage where Maru gets caught (he's a bit faster than Aroha, I guess she's eaten too much human food):
Maru was still free. He leapt up and over the backs of the seats, ducked below grasping hands and darted under a table. A human female dropped to her knees to grab her and he leapt on her head. His feet tangled in her hair. He struggled free and ran the length of her spine. She shouted and flailed, trying to push him off, then knelt upright. He slid to the floor and onto his rump. With a squawk of outrage, he ducked below another pair of hands. Dove between a male's knees. Dodged a flying tackle. Sprang up onto a seat, and then onto the back. The train lurched. He lost his balance, flailed. Flapped his wings to try and steady himself. Slipped. Landed heavily. Hands closed about his body. Shrieking fowl words, he kicked and bit as he was hauled roughly into the air and shoved beneath the basket beside her. Aroha made a dash for the gap as the basket was lifted. But the human was too fast, and she too tired.
- Chapter one -> Twenty-one = complete
- Chapter twenty two = not yet begun
Word Count: 39,589 /25,000 *
Story = 158% complete
Art = 1%
Thoughts for today:
Spent far too much time researching trouth fishing techniques today and not enough time writing. Oh well, I learnt a bit.
Looks like my weka has become a bit of a celebrity.
Extract:(no wekas in this extract, they're watching quietly from under a bush).
“Wish the missus would let me chop them up inside,” he grumbled. “But she can't stand the smell.”
He pulled the fish out by the tail and slapped it down on the board. “Now this, Thomas, is how you fillet a fish.”
The knife was shiny and sharp and he cut with the smooth skill of someone highly practiced. After slitting the length of the fish he thrust his hand inside the belly and pulled out a handful of gooey, red-brown fish guts. They were plonked onto the tin plate. He slit the fish along the spine, scooping out the blood with a teaspoon. These he poured onto the fishguts.
“That's your dinner, Thomas,” he said, pushing it towards the boy.
“Yerurgh, that's really gross, grandad!” Thomas pretended to be sick.
The old man rumbled with laughter. “Well,” he said. “You have been a good boy, I suppose you deserve something tastier than fishguts. Right now I need some water. Full up the bowl, lad.”
The boy filled the tub at a tap and struggled back carrying it. Water sloshed over the side.
“I”m gonna give the fish a good rinse now,” the old man said.
- Chapter one -> Twenty = complete
- Chapter twenty one = not yet begun
Word Count: 37,804 /25,000 *
Story = 151% complete
Art = 1%
Thoughts for today:
- I guess December will be drawing month...
Today was my 4th class on "writing for children". This time we were discussing the older age group - 10-12. Still pushing home the "show not tell" style of writing.
Now, off to bed because early to bed = early to write and my head hurts. Tomorrow Aroha and Maru will go fishing.
For those of you that haven't guessed, Maru is NOT Aroha's boyfriend. He's just this male she's hanging about with. Okay?
In today's extract, Maru and Aroha discuss trains:
The iron road began to throb beneath her feet. She pecked him harder. “Come on, off we get. Train's coming.”
The two weka jumped down the embankment and stalked through the forest of broome. The bright yellow flowers looked like gorse, but the leaves were less spiky. Maru chased and caught a red and black butterfly. He passed it to Aroha. She ate it, and then retaliated by catching a cricket and giving it to him. Even though crickets were far tastier than butterflies. They were crunchy.
The great metal caterpillar trundled into view. Aroha had seen many trains in her life and remained unimpressed. Maru, however, was a weka from the forest and he gaped at it. It rocketted past, ruffling their feathers.
“What is that?” He exclaimed.
“A train,” Aroha explained. “The humans use them to carry stuff across the mountains. More stuff than they carry in trucks and cars.”
Maru scratched his head. “What do they need so much stuff for?”
“They're like us,” Aroha explained, “you know how we like shinies, and when we have a proper home, we like to collect and keep them. Just to look at, and sometimes play with?”
Although he still looked a little confused Maru nodded. Forest wekas probably didn't find as many shinies as the low country weka.
“Well, humans are like that. Only their shinies are bigger and brighter and harder to carry about. So they need to use trains and trucks and buses and cars.”
“That whole train – it's filled with shinies?” Carriage after carriage whizzed by.
Bored. Aroha was bored. Bored. bored. bored. She walked around the pen. She gave herself a dust bath. Still bored. Did anything ever happen in here? It did not seem so. Mites, it was big news when one of the domestic hens laid an egg and that seemed to happen every few minutes. The stupid things just sat around all day and gossiped. And it wasn't even interesting gossip. This hen had laid her forty-fourth egg, that hen hadn't laid for two weeks. She'd be next for the slaughter.
There was an outdoor yard. A small opening lead out into the area. It was 30 steps long and 14 steps wide. Aroha knew this. She'd stepped it out. If she took little steps it was 50 by around 22. If big steps, she could cut it down to 26 and 10. There was grass. If felt nice beneath her feet.
She stepped in and closed her beak around the fruit. Jerked it.
Behind her something fell. She jumped, hitting her head on the wire ceiling and whirled about. The opening was gone.
She was trapped.
“Oh crikey...” she muttered. Then she ate the apple.
Ringleader ran along the dresser. With his beak he picked up one of the little glass perfume bottles. These tiny, colourful bottles had survived the earth rattling, dancing closer to the edge, but not quite making the plunge. He tossed it in the air, lobbing it neatly at the bedpost. It struck the wood and smashed in a lavender-scented spray of liquid and broken glass.
“What fun!” He chortled, bouncing up and down before picking up another one and repeating the process. SMASH – SMASH – CRASH – SMASH! The room smelt like a flower garden – lavender and rose, lily of the valley, vanilla now overlay the stink of mildew and mould. Tiny broken bottles littered the floor. Dim sunlight shone through the rain and made them sparkle.