Good morning, Everyone!
I’ve got a special treat today. I’ve been hammering away on my next book, The Hunting Sticks, for this whole month so far. This draft feels like it’s coming along really great! I had originally aimed for about 60k words but I blew right by that and readjusted for about 80k words. Also, I remembered to update my word count progress bars over there on the right sidebar!
It feels like it’ll be finished very soon, and then comes- bum, bum, BUM- editing; lots of editing and re-reading and editing. It’s looking like perhaps April will see this book released. Yay! For the curious minds, I’m self-publishing again. I had so much fun self-publishing Beggars in the Streets of Time, it made sense to me to do it again.
So, on to my little surprise… The first few pages of The Hunting Sticks. I warn you, I haven’t even tried to edit this yet. It’s just how I roll, no editing till the story is finished. I’d like to know what you folks think, so please feel free to comment below!
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The Hunting Sticks
A low moon hung in the night sky, shedding its silver light like a blanket over the countryside below. A second yellow moon, much like a slice of lemon, peeked over the horizon as if waiting to see if it was safe to come out . Outlined in the odd yellow-white color of old bones from the moons sat a small cluster of farmhouses, one larger house surrounded by four smaller. A barn, in poor need of new paint, creaked in the gentle breezes that sent the field of auburstalks roiling like an ocean with a quiet scissoring sound. The night birds were out now, twittering a sort of lullaby in their sarcastic throaty drone.
Through the shadows of the trees and bushes, almost dancing to the off beats of the bird-song and auburstalk calls, things moved that were not entirely birds and whispered, though not like auburstalk. Slowly drifting from one shadow to the next; and as they came, a low clicking came with them, a sound very near to pebbles dribbling onto a thick glass pane. Inside the farmhouses, the people sleeping began to toss and moan softly. The shade forms slipped like warm molasses from shadow to shadow. As the first of them slipped into the silhouette of one of the smaller houses, the clicking erupted into the night. A brilliant glimmer shone through the windows of the house as if the sun had risen from the beds and cast its light through the many facets of a gemstone.
A panic swept through the remaining houses as the sleepers started awake. The shades found purchase in the other homes and the air was filled with a clicking. A musket shot rang out and all around there were people screaming. Flashes of day-glitter sparkled through windows from the houses as the screams muffled and were all but gone. A man broke through the door of a smaller farmhouse with a lantern and flint pistol, his sandy-red hair lay in tossed curls. He tumbled to the ground with splinters of wood, nearly dropping the lantern.
He hurried to his knees and began trying to light the wick with a striking stone. The man stood, closing the lantern hatch with a shaking hand before holding the light high above him to see. His dark eyes were peeled back revealing the whites as he pushed the flint pistol out before him. He spun wildly, finding nothing to fire upon. Sweat beaded his tanned face and sparkled along his brow as it ran the grooves and wrinkles in his cheeks. He searched frantically for any sign of movement. He ran out towards the road and the widest part of the homestead.
The man stopped still and the color drained from his skin giving contrast to the red-blonde hair wreathing his face. Nothing stood before him; yet in the flickering light from his lantern, danced a shadow on the ground paces ahead of him. A clicking droned heavily in the pit of his stomach and resonated through the canals of his ears. The man shook violently, though seemed to barely move as the shadow of a giant beetle, standing erect, moved closer. The gun dropped from his twitching fingers and he too dropped to his knees.
The man’s ears began to bleed; a thin slivered curl of blood that slowly found its way to his neck. Through the light of the fallen lantern, the beetle’s shadow opened its massive wing covers. Light spilled from what may have been wing-like shapes that seemed to hover in the air. The man looked into the shimmer and his face softened as if reliving his fondest memories.
A voice came through the clicking and found its way into the man’s head, “Long ago, Naj, your family asked help of our Father.” The voice chimed in strange notes, almost like whistles filled with bits of glass. “Promises were made and we have not forgotten what you now owe.”
Naj began to weep, his body softening enough so that he dropped to his side. Naj could see the shadows of others gathering about him. The clicking felt as though it shook him, rattling his bones together and loosening the teeth in his head. As he quietly lay there, words slowly found exit from his shivering mouth, “I never made any promises…”
Through the shadows, Naj watched as the others opened their wings spilling their glorious light upon him. It felt as if every pore was burning, like something was forcing its way into his body. He lay motionless as the presence growing inside him crushed him against the walls of what was his, pressing him far into the back of his own mind. And there it held him, as a prisoner left slowly to die where none would ever find him. As the consciousness inside him grew, it felt as if hooks ripped through his vitals, attaching the thing to his every organ, his every fiber.
The shade forms of beetle shadows from other worlds closed their wings, and the light dimmed. Beneath the bone yellow moon glow, Naj stood and the beetle shades slid back to the shadows. He flexed his fingers, looking at them with a child’s bewildered stare. A smile slowly stretched across his face as he moved other limbs, extending his legs and pressing his face towards the sky. He rolled down from his toes and stretched his arms out to his sides. The dark circles ringing his red eyes twitched as he looked around the homestead. His eyes rested far to the south, where another glow lit the horizon. On a night like this, one could almost see the blazing green and yellow towers, and smell the crisp purity of the fair city Abanistad, and the child she held within her walls.
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I’d love to hear from you, feel free to comment below! See you tomorrow for another Flash Fiction. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day. 🙂