Like most things in life, my writing goals for this year have changed. During the last few months I thought I might have to put some personal projects on hold as I focus on my involvement with the writing project Ten To One (hopefully you know what I’m talking about – as I blogged about it not that long ago). Unfortunately, however, I was not selected to be one of the final ten writers for the project. While I am disappointed, I still can feel some pride in knowing I made it into the top twenty of who really knows how many writers (I heard that there were nearly 100 short-listed writers and from those one hundred, I was one of twenty long-listed writers). It is a little disheartening to get rejection (but it is not the first time my writing endeavours or efforts have ended this way). I do feel a bit of relief, though, because the project is scheduled to start this summer and continue through to next year, which would overlap with my university schedule. Now I don’t have to worry about having the pressure of going to school and trying to meet writing deadlines for this project. It was learning experience, nonetheless, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to work and brainstorm with other writers from around the world, if only for a short time.
Now that I am not involved in Ten To One, I can once again focus my writing efforts on some personal projects which I am extremely passionate about. The first thing on my agenda is to finish the first draft of my novel, Black Ice, which I started for NaNoWriMo in 2011. After I get there (hopefully before the summer ends), I end work on re-writing and editing. My ultimate goal is to have the first draft finished by the end of August and a final, publishing-ready draft completed by the end of the year so that I can send it away to various publishers and hope for the best.
Rather than explain to you a bit of the back story to my novel, I figure that I should just share a small section of it with you. Some of you may have already read it, because I have posted it to my blog before (yes I am BORING and REDUNDANT, but yet YOU keep coming back anyway). So, here is a ‘teaser’ of Black Ice, which also serves as the prologue to my novel:
A Novel By William Louison
The dirty street was crowded, noisy and filled with people from nearly every planet in every known sector. Most were lower class citizens, in clothing and garments that were old, a little rough and out of style by at least a year. The rest of the people were even worse off, a few so underprivileged that they couldn’t even be classified as poor. A surprising, unseemly amount of homeless souls were skinny, pale and adding to the already existing stink of the place.
Some of these people work as merchants and some make their money serving lunch in the unsanitary cafes, while others spend all they have, and more, on gambling and alcohol, both available at any of the numerous bars and casinos – the only businesses that seemed to thrive in poor areas like this one. Well, the only legal businesses.
Despite not having much money, there is one other aspect of their lives that a large number of these people have in common. In this particular precinct of the city Jallin, it is statistically proven by the Supreme Court that fifty-four point two five percent of all these people will be involved – in some way – with something illegal today. Petty thieves and pick-pockets run rampant through the crowds, snatching enough of other people’s things so that they may eat for the day. Fewer, more ambitious thieves also stalk the streets and run-down stores, more often than not working for an organization that is bigger than they are. And, of course, there are the illegal substance sellers and their unfortunate addicts, most of who will die from a drug-related problem before they reach thirty nine cycles – also statistically proven.
Smog hung like a cloud over the low roofs of the old buildings, one of the not so beneficial aspects of living next to the industrial area of the largest city on Warden. No one ever paid much attention to the sky anyway; they were too busy watching their backs or too concerned about whether they’ll be eating tomorrow. So they kept their hands in their pockets, fingers wrapped tightly around the little money and other trinkets they carried with them. Their heads and shoulders hung loose and they just tried to blend in with everyone else who was making their way down the teeming streets.
The sun still shone, if barely at all, through the thick layer of smoke, and the wind was calm. Yet, despite this and all the signs that pointed towards today being an average day, just like all others, there was something different; something not quite right. Something was attracting attention, and usually when attention is drawn to a particular something, there is trouble.
And there she was, the focus of everyone’s attention, trudging through the crowd. The red-skinned Tavian was moving quickly down the street, every aspect about her making her stand out even more. Her dark hair was slightly unkempt and frizzy, but there was evidence that it was once done up quite fancily, like the hairstyles the upper class citizens always sport. Apart from this, she wore a jeweled headpiece that hung across her forehead by a chain and clipped to her hair at the back of her head. A medallion hung around her neck, on a chain lined with animal teeth. She wore a long, regal dress, topped in fur that wrapped around her shoulders, which were only a little dirty.
The dirt and grit didn’t show too much on her dress, which was a chocolate brown colour, except near her feet. The bottom of her dress was tattered, practically shredded in some places, and the torn, multilayered garment was dragging on the cracked road. Her arms were covered in tight, patterned sleeves ending with bracelets of fur. Her crimson hands, even more red against the chocolate fabric, clutched her dress at waist level, holding up the long skirt so that she didn’t trip on it.
Everyone’s eyes were on her, wondering what she was doing on this end of the city, and a few were thinking that she must be very brave. Despite the worn down appearance of her clothes, it was obvious that they had originally cost a lot of money. Even though the dress was probably worthless now, too ruined to be of value, hungry eyes were focused on her, each pair having the same thought. The dress wouldn’t sell, but that jewelry would. And if she had jewelry like that, and clothes that were once expensive, now just over worn, there was a possibility that she could have money on her. A lot of money.
Without knowing whether she did have money or not was beside the fact. The jewelry alone would buy someone meals for a month, or more. And so, hundreds of hungry eyes were following her. The pickpockets were cautious of whether they dared to try and snatch the necklace from her throat, and most of the thieves hated confrontations with others around. But there were many, still, who played around in their minds with the idea of an assault on the lady.
There are no police here, unless some crime that affected the upper class citizens could be traced to this district of the city. Most of these people were not registered citizens, and there was no one important enough to the government to miss if they were gone. And so, confrontation was very likely. It didn’t happen often because usually many others from the street get involved. On the other hand, however, a target like this is almost unheard of. The money from her headpiece would probably be more than most of these people see in a year. Confrontation was not just a possibility – it was most definitely going to happen. It was just a matter of time.
The Tavian knew this. She could feel all the little beads that were eyes peering at her, looking her up and down. She noticed that many of the people were moving farther and farther from her, hoping to be far enough away to not get caught in the middle of a fight. The space left by those who did not want to get involved was filled by those whose selfishness overpowered their moral values, if they had any at all.
She could sense the conflict that would break out, practically smelling the greed of those around her. The sole reason she had not yet been attacked was not because the onlookers feared her, but rather that they feared each other. For when one person confronts her, it would become more than an attack for him. He will have to be on the defensive as well. For, as soon as one person makes his move, the situation will turn into a competition among them all, with the Tavian as the prize.
And then it happened.
She was walking, trying to increase her speed, and passed several restaurants with some faded and even burnt out signs. The Tavian took the next left and found herself on a street with considerably less people than the other, larger one. She wasn’t sure where she was going. This was her first time in this city and she was just looking for a large bar where she could slip inside. Most bars were similar throughout the galaxy – dimly lit, smoky and crowded. She was looking for a place where it might be too dark to notice the high quality of her clothes; a place where drunken patrons might not realize how fancy she appeared in this run-down neighbourhood. Somewhere that she would have the chance to stop moving, and try to conceal her jewelry better. But she never found that place.
A man stepped out in front of her, blocking her path. He was from a species the Tavian did not recognize. In this case, it did not matter. An attacker was an attacker, the same across the galaxy. And this man was definitely an attacker.
The Tavian stopped as soon as the man stepped out, with a curious grin across his face. “Aren’t you a little fine for this dirt bath district?”
When she stopped, the Tavian felt a fierce hand grab her right arm. “I think she’s lost her bodyguard,” a voice said, cutting through the air behind her. “I would hate for someone like you to take advantage of this poor soul,” he said, his comments clearly directed at the first confronter.
“Now, now,” a third man said before the first could respond. He moved up closer to the scene, flashing a long knife he held in his hand. “If this girl’s lost her bodyguard I’d be happy to help her find another one.” He turned to look at the Tavian. “I can take you somewhere safe.”
The Tavian was on the verge of laughter. She saw this coming from the time she started walking down the street. She knew there would be a confrontation, it was inevitable. Working on instinct, the Tavian surprised the unsuspecting attackers when she made the first move.
Her hand slipped inside a concealed pocket of her dress, and she withdrew from that pocket a knife, which she drove backwards. She felt it bite at flesh, and when the man let go of her arm and screamed, it was confirmed that she had hit her target. And now that she had started the fight, it was only going to get worse.
Another man, with green skin and a shaved head, lunged forward, hands outstretched to latch onto her arm or snag a handful of her dress. He never made it, because the man with the knife got to him before he got to her. In a matter of seconds, two men were down, clutching their stomachs in pain as blood started spilling onto the dirty street. Several more hands reached for her just then, and about a dozen knives started slashing about.
She managed to duck and jump away from one attacker, stumbling into the arms of someone else. A hand clutched her throat, grabbing at her necklace. At the same time, she saw a knife swinging down at her. She held her breath, expecting the knife to plunge into her chest, but the attacker was not aiming for her. The knife tore into the hand that was around her throat and the Tavian was able to slip free without losing her necklace.
Taking what seemed to be her only free chance to escape, she fled, her brown dress waving behind her. She heard shouts from many of her attackers, but didn’t look back. She didn’t want to slow down, nor could she afford it. She didn’t get far before she heard the running footsteps of the many thieves now pursuing her. She had a head start and hoped that it would give her the time she needed.
As she ran, the Tavian’s eyes were scanning the buildings and streets, not missing a single sign. She turned a corner sharply, joining back into a large group of people, some of whom had seen her earlier and were now even more surprised to see her still alive, and running. She paid no attention to them and continued to run.
What she hadn’t realized, though, was that another thief had seen her and was moving through the crowd to catch her. The Tavian, still running, only saw the pale skinned man when he lunged out from the crowd, hands snatching at her back. All he managed to grab was the back of her dress, but it was enough to knock her down.
She fell, palms first into the rough, hard ground and felt some of the skin scrape off her hands. Her left knee slammed hard into the road, and she felt a sharp pain instantly. As she had been falling, however, her leg went backwards and tripped her attacker, sending him on a spiraling fall towards the ground as well.
As her bleeding hands were pushing her body up, she looked up and saw a neon sign that appeared to be glowing brighter than all the other signs on the street. It was right in front of her face – bright red with black letters on it – hanging above a set of doors on a large, grungy looking building. Before she could get completely up and run into the safety of the crowded bar, the thief that had knocked her down was back on his feet. Something hard hit the Tavian on the base of her skull and she fell back to the ground. The last thing she saw before her world went black was the neon sign that read: ‘Black Ice’.
Thanks for reading!
Please share with me your thoughts on this little piece of my novel.