As many of you know, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) last November and was one of the many people to complete the challenge of writing a Novel of 50,000 + words. Now that a few months have passed since then, I have begun to go back and start to edit and refine the novel that I wrote. I’ve got quite a bit of work ahead, and it’s already dropped back below the 50,000 word mark, but I am sure with all the detail that will be added it will soon be even larger than it was! In the meantime though, I am going to post one of the chapters, which is currently still very unedited (which explains the shortness), to see what you guys think about it. Give me some feedback, and if it raises questions in your mind, then ask those too!
Neither Curt nor Susan had any idea how to get to the lake, but it turned out they did not have to know. The Key Blocks seemed to give them both an uncanny sense of direction that led them straight to it. When they arrived everything was just as Curt had seen it. The water was low, and just past the shore it was still muddy. Only one thing was different from the vision, Thomas was nowhere to be seen.
“Looks like somehow you were wrong,” Susan said, glancing in Curt’s direction.
“I know what I saw, and I saw Thomas floating right out there.”
“I don’t doubt what you saw Curt. Do you remember when you used the block to call me? What did you do?”
“I… crap. I imaged where I wanted you to meet me. I should have realized that. Thomas isn’t here, but for some reason whoever has him wanted us to come here. Maybe there is something here we need to see.”
“Or maybe…. “ Susan’s voice faded and a look of horror came over her face. “No! Curt, we have to leave NOW!” She did not wait for him to reply, and took off. Curt followed behind her and caught up in a matter of seconds.
“Susan, what is it?”
“It’s the Follower. He didn’t leave anything at the lake. He was trying to split us up. He knew I would not walk into a trap with all of the remaining Key Blocks, so…”
“He split us up to get to Sean and Bryan!” Curt finished.
He suddenly realized how stupid they had both been. They had to hope that there was still time, but Curt knew that they had been played. The other two men would probably never make it back to the village, and even if they did, the two blocks they carried most certainly would not.
They both rode hard for what seemed like hours until they finally saw the hills surrounding the village up ahead. They stormed on and as they crossed the last one, a sight neither of them had wanted to see greeted them. Sean and Bryan had made it back to camp, but they would get no information from them. They were lying on the ground dead, surrounded by at least twenty other men.
Susan quickly jumped off her horse and ran over to them. They each had one gunshot wound to the head, and she collapsed in tears.
“It’s all my fault,” was all she could say as she continued to weep.
Curt came over and knelt beside her, then took her in his arms. The sat in the sand while Susan continued to cry and mutter over these two who had been killed. Curt could feel anger welling up inside him. He would pay for this, he thought. He would kill the Follower or die trying. He looked back at the two men on the ground and saw a bit of white sticking out of Sean’s pocket. He slowly released Susan, who became somewhat curious to see what he had noticed. Her tears were still flowing but they had gone from a gushing river to a small trickle.
Curt leaned forward and put his hand in the man’s pocket and was startled. Susan gasped as he pulled out the Key Block. It was wrapped in a piece of paper, which ruined the notion that maybe the Follower had simply not noticed it. Curt took the paper and handed the block to Susan. He glanced over the note, then stood and read it out loud.
“I now have two of your precious Key Blocks, along with your friend Thomas. Of course you know I could have all five by now if I really wanted to, but what would be the fun in that. What do I want you might ask? I want you Curt, and that silly woman Susan to meet me at the base of the Layman Mountains. You have a map, so you should be able to get there. Do not bring anyone else with you, and do make sure you bring all three Key Blocks. I would hate for any more ‘accidents’ to occur.”
Curt turned the small sheet of paper into a crumpled ball in one swift motion and let loose a scream that cause everyone gathered around the bodies to jump.
“You want me?” he screamed into the air. “I hope so, because you’re going to get me you filthy son of a …”
“CURT,” Susan yelled before he could finish the sentence. “Curt, he’s got both of us to deal with now, and I am sure this entire village would come with us if they could.”
“We have to find him Susan. We have to show him he can not win, and we have to keep these Key Blocks out of his grasp.”
“I know.” She brushed her hand against his cheek, bringing his full attention back to her. “We will Curt. Together we will take the Follower down. First we have things to tend to here.” She motioned toward the two men lying lifeless in the desert sand. “Once we have buried these two brothers of mine, then we will set out and meet the Follower at the Mountains.”
Curt looked at Susan and saw the hurt in her eyes. The death of these two men had been a strike to her heart, and he saw that she wanted blood just as much as he did. They would find this man known as the Follower, and they would kill him., but first they would have a funeral.
There were no caskets, and there had been no time to dress the men in formal clothes. Where Curt was from this would have been a big deal, but apparently on Susan’s world, these things were trivial. It also seemed that they did not bury their dead, but instead took “from dust we came and to dust we shall return” more seriously than most humans did.
A large amount of wood had been gathered and piled in the center of the village. Both men were strapped to planks and they were stood in the middle of the pile. It looked like what Curt had imagined a witch burning would have looked like, except these men were not witches, and they were already dead.
The old man Curt had seen days ago was here again, and he spoke for at least thirty minutes about these men and their lives. Neither one of them had been married, but they had both been very dedicated soldiers and extremely valuable to this village. Women that Curt had not seen until this moment were there wetting handkerchiefs with tears and snot. Their cries and wails were such that you would have assumed these men had been their own sons, and in a way they kind of were. It was something about their way of life Curt would not learn until much later on.
All together the funeral lasted three hours, and by the time they lit the fire it was pitch black. The light from the fire made the whole village come alive with the dancing flames, and the heat worked against the desert cold that was beginning to creep in. Curt stood off to the side as the entire village, including Susan, danced around the fire in celebration of Sean and Bryan’s lives. They danced until the fire was but embers, and then everyone slowly made their way back to their own homes.
Curt and Susan went back to her house, and once they had entered the door, she fell into his arms and began to weep again. He picked her up and carried her back to her bed, and she stayed in his arms and cried herself to sleep.