Percentage: 86.8 (113% of target)
Wowsers - the end is in sight! Tomorrow, unless I get distracted, I will continue in my trend of finishing around the 24th by... finishing around the 24th. It'll still be another few days before I attain the much anticipated 50k, but I suspect writing an essay about kea behaviour and other appendices will be significantly easier than typing up the novel.
Also, of course, will come the PADDING.
I'm trying to keep this book the same length as Aroha's Grand Adventure, which means that the story word-count should be around 48,768. That's around 3000 words of character development - much opportunity to develop Pakari as a nasty bad guy and possibly to give Totoa and Raweke a few more personality traits too. After re-reading the bit in "Aroha's" that the star in, I've realised they're a bit nastier than I am portraying them here.
It also looks like this is going to be set BEFORE the events in Aroha's, more-or-less. I can't tie Tiriki's meeting with her in with this story because I haven't got enough time between events to make it slip in neatly. But that's okay, if Tiriki's adventures start in late winter, he gets himself captured in early spring (say.. early September), escapes less than 5 weeks later (mid october) and gets back to the Village and overthrows Pakari. Meanwhile, Weka breed between August and January, the eggs take one month to hatch the the chicks grow into adulthood within 6-10 weeks.
Kea start breeding in July, the chicks hatch after a month and take three years to reach maturity. They stay in the nest for up to three months.
This means that the chicks are probably around 6 weeks old - about halfway to fledging, when Tiriki meets them. Or maybe a bit older - I'll have to research when a kea's eyes open.
Assuming Aroha hatches in late September, gets captured at 2-3 weeks old (mid-October) and then begins walking back - since time isn't made a note of in the book - except to suggest that it is passing and that she is growing up, it could take her till early November to get as far as Castle Hill Village, where she meets Tiriki.
Anyhow, lets just say - the time line all fits, okay? And the fact that in early spring, Tiriki meets Maru, is just a fun little sight gag for readers of both books. Maru is probably a month or so older than Aroha. When it comes to padding, I might write more on them meeting. I should really make Tiriki interact with non-keas more often.
Anyhow, sleep time!
But first - here's why you should not drive with an unrestrained kea in your vehicle:
(Kaha is Josh's name for Tiriki, either he's a Craig Smith fan - or he gets the joke, it took me a while!)
At first the boy looked startled, then gave a slow, slight smile.
“You show him, Kaha,” he mouthed.
Something in his face must have alerted his father, because Maxwell snapped: “What are you grinning about, boy? You find it funny that you've ruined me?”
“Nuh-nothing,” spluttered Josh. “I wasn't grinning, really.”
The car took a bend too sharply, throwing Tiriki across the floor, Kolya's box tumbling after him. He gave a squawk, and at that Maxwell turned, and looked straight at him.
“What the....” He bellowed. “I'll wring your scrawny neck, you wretched bird!”
Tiriki launched into the air, wings pounding in fear. Maxwell seemed to simmer with rage, almost ready to explode and the kea had just one desire – to get as far away from this dangerous predator as he could. The car jolted again, as Maxwell hastily corrected its steering, taking another corner far, far too fast. Josh screamed, clinging to the handle above the window.
“Dad,” he cried, “slow down!”
Maxwell braked sharply.
Tiriki was thrown against the side window and bounced back into the back-seat, tumbling to the floor beside the crate. The car's wheels skidded in a patch of loose gravel and it lurched to one side, stopped for a heartbeat, and then, with a horrible cracking-crunching sound, sprang forward so sharply that Tiriki was thrown up and into the back seat, before being thrust forward, towards the back of the passenger's seat.He flapped furiously, his claws grazing the headrest as he tumbled over it, brushed Josh's shoulder and fell straight into the boy's lap.
Now he could see what had happening. The car, perhaps tired of so much rough treatment, had leapt over the side of the road, taking out the side rail. It now hung, caught by some scraggly bushes.
Josh fumbled furiously with his seatbelt with one hand, and with the other he shook his father.
“Dad,” he cried, “Dad, wake up!”
Maxwell groaned, blood trickling down one side of his face, he opened his eyes. “Josh,” he whispered, “get out, just get out!”
“But Dad,” tears streamed down the boy's face. “I can't leave you here.”
“Yes you can,” Maxwell replied. “I'll be alright. You'll see.”
Why doesn't he just get out? Tiriki wondered, but a glance answered that question. The driver's side had struck the guardrail and the door had buckled in its frame. Maxwell tugged on the latch, heaved his shoulder against the door, but it wouldn't open.
“Get out Josh!” He bellowed. “And that's an order! Someone's gotta get help. The bushes ain't gonna held us forever.”
As if in response to his words, the car gave another small lurch.
In the back seat, Kolya squawked and the loud pounding music droned on and on and on. Maxwell reached up and silenced both the music and the groan of the car's engine with one twist of his wrist.
The silence was so intense, that the memory of music rang in Tiriki's ears. Even Kolya fell silent.
We've gotta get out of here. And if the boy won't do it, then I guess it's up to me. Tiriki sprang across Josh's lap and onto the door's armrest.
If I can open the door, he realised, then away I can soar – a free bird once more.
He probed and poked at the door handle, the window whirred and slid down. Tiriki was about to squeeze through when the car dropped on the left side as the bushes supporting it weakening under the weight. Tiriki jerked, thrown against the window just as it window whirred up again, almost snagging a wing feather.
Maybe not that way, but what about if I do this? Driving his talons into the rubber beneath the window for balance, he leaned forward, hooking the tip of his beak under the latch, as Maxwell had done, and pulled it up. His door arced open, pulled by gravity.
“Come on,” he cried to Josh. “Follow me!”
With a short, regretful look at his father, Josh tumbled out the door, Tiriki erupting into the air beside him.
At that moment, the scraggly gorse bushes that had been holding the car in place gave way. The car lurched to the right, tilted, righted itself then dove nosefirst down the steep embankment, almost as though it were driving itself. It crashed through several gorse bushes in an explosion of yellow flowers and servered branches, and continued bouncing and jouncing its way down the hill.
“Dad!” Josh cried, looking as though he were about to run down the hill after him. The car bounced over a small rise, then nose-dived into a large pothole.
“I'll check on him,” Tiriki declared, strangely unwilling to leave the boy, even though now he was as free as he could ever be. He swooped down, landing on the top of the car, and peered through the windshield. It was cracked, and a great white balloon blocked his view, but a moment later Maxwell crawled out over the passenger's seat and collapsed into the grass. He landed in a cowpat with a bit of a splat.
“Oy!” A voice shouted from above, another human stood up at the side of the road, beside the broken guardrail, waving, “are you alright down there? Rescue's on its way!”
Maxwell dragged himself to his feet, his face a ghastly mix of blood and dung. He waved back.
Sirens then, loud and blaring, as several vehicles gathered on the road above – red and blue lights flashing. An white van; a black and white car and a big red truck with a ladder on its back.