Zak: The Unicorn Hunter

What happened to our world?

A few years ago, the veil failed. All the mythical beings that we were so sure were fictional turned out to be real. They have lived alongside us all along. In the past, they would show themselves to someone on rare occasions and another story would be born.

What the stories also got wrong was that most of the mythical creatures only crossed the veil that hid them from us so that they could go hunting. Most of them live on flesh, not necessarily humans, but they found it easier to gather food when they were fully in our realm. Now all that has changed.

Now they live in our realm, and they hunt us all the time. Most people have moved into walled cities. It’s really the only way we can survive. Our society has been plunged backwards in time; there is magic in our world now, but we have suffered for it.

***********

Zak: The Unicorn Hunter

The darkness was thick and suffocating, like a heavy blanket had been thrown on the world. He had to get over the wall, had to get across the border before night fell completely and the guards started their rounds. After dark things came alive across the wall. All the magical beings came out to hunt in the dark.

Zak wanted to go hunting too. He wanted the fame that went with it. He wanted people to know his name. He wanted to be one of the rockstars of this age – a unicorn hunter. He needed to start small though.

He was thinking maybe a fairy or leprechaun first. They were notoriously hard to catch, but nabbing one would earn him the respect of the hunter’s guild.

They sanctioned hunting the bigger creatures like dragons. And you didn’t go after a unicorn without their permission.

Zak looked very quickly up and down the street to check for the guards one last time. He made his way to a section of the wall that looked stable but was actually loose. If the town council knew, they would flip their lids.

Joining the hunter’s guild was worth the risk.

The one’s who actually bagged dragons or unicorns lived liked gods. They had the best of everything, but what’s more, people listened to them. Their opinion mattered.

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Prepping for NANOWRIMO

How is October going for everyone else? I feel like it has FLOWN by. I have been using some of my free time this month to prep for Nanowrimo. Most of you who are reading this probably know what that is, but for the few who don’t, I will explain briefly.

NANOWRIMO = National Novel Writing Month.

During November, people from all over the world dedicate themselves to writing 50,000 words in one month. Most people try to write a fiction novel of some sort, though there are certainly others who write non-fiction, short story collections, and other things.

The idea behind this is simply that the hardest part about writing something is getting the first draft done. For me, this is definitely true… I get easily distracted.

For my novel, I am continuing one that I started as a short story on this very blog from earlier this year – UNICORNS ARE REALLY VAMPIRES. So, you may be wondering, what have I been doing to prepare for writing an entire novel in a month?

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Some things that have helped me prepare:

  1. Resources
  • In particular, the book Ready Set Novel
  • Worksheets from other writers that I found on Pinterest. Here is my pinterest board with some of the writing links I’ve found helpful: https://pin.it/d6dn4e73z666vm.
  1. Write-Ins
  • I attended two of the prep season get togethers, which are called write-ins. I didn’t do much writing at either, but I met some of the people who run things in my region.  Plus, I was able to ask questions about the process from real life people. (Some of them have been participating in NANOWRIMO for more than a decade!)
  1. Revising
  • I have already started this project, but I haven’t worked on it since July, so I dusted it off and reread what I’ve already written. It’s surprising after time has passed that I didn’t remember writing some of the scenes. I am actually funny on occasion.
  • I looked through for small errors and large plot holes so I have a pretty good idea of where I want to start in November.

Now after all that prep, I feel ready. I can’t wait for November 1st.

Happy writing and reading this month!

Quiet

Present Day — St. Louis 

It flashed through the sky and then was gone. Lucy was sure she had seen a UFO and was equally sure aliens were here to secretly make contact with a human being. Maybe they would choose her. Maybe she would get to visit their ship. Maybe she would finally get away from this place. She was tired of being lonely and isolated. She was tired of talking to herself.

Even an alien encounter would be more exciting than her life. No matter what the outcome.

***********

20 years ago

Lucy woke up late — again. Her boss would be furious. She quickly dressed and headed out the door. Her new job was exhausting. It was all the interacting with people that was wearing her out.

This was her third job this year — and it was only April. So far this one was lasting longer but she could feel the toll is was taking.

“Have a nice day.”

“Thanks for visiting the zoo.”

“Here’s a map.”

She said those three things so many times every day. Why couldn’t a recording do it?

The one redeeming factor for her new job was break time. On her breaks she would sit and watch the hippos. She wanted to watch them all day.

It was odd because before starting at the zoo, she’d never even seen a hippo. Her parents never took her places. They’d both worked so much on their rare days off, they just wanted to be home.

Perhaps that’s why all her jobs were places that families tended to visit together.

If she had a therapist, she might have asked her that.

**********

Present

Lucy walked through the grocery store selecting what foods she might eat this week.

After she’d collected enough, she went back to her house.

Two years ago she’d finally gotten up the nerve to move from her old apartment into an abandoned house.

She’d picked one in a nice neighborhood within walking distance of a grocery store, a home depot, and several clothing stores.

**********

20 years ago

It was already turning into another typical day.

“Thanks for visiting the zoo.”

She’d gotten lucky though. Her boss was out sick so she didn’t get yelled at for being late.

She tried to focus on that to get her through the day.

On her break, she put a hoodie over her zoo uniform. She’d learned to cover up as much khaki as possible or people would ask her a thousand questions. Her first two days she’d spent her breaks answering inane questions.

As she sat by the hippo habitat, she longed for quiet.

She tried to ignore the sounds of children and families. She tuned out the city noise in the background.

She longed for silence.

As she sat there, she watched the hippos. One female hippo waddled towards the water and dove in.

Lucy caught her breath.

hippo swim

This was her favorite part. Hippos were amazingly graceful in the water.

If she’d ever seen Fantasia, she might have imagined them wearing tutus.

Her alarm beeped reminding her it was time to return to work. As she stood up and stretched, she noticed how quiet it was.

She looked around. She was utterly alone. Not a single person was in sight.

All she could hear was the animals in the zoo. No cars. No airplanes. No people. Nothing.

**********

Present

20 years of quiet. 20 years of being alone. As far as Lucy knew, no one was left but her.

Was that even possible? Who knew? It’s not like she could ask anyone.

It was better to focus on what she did know.

She’d seen something in the sky. She should get to higher ground and watch for it.

Maybe she could signal it.

As she sat in her house, she heard something outside in the yard.

She looked out the window and couldn’t help herself. Her laughter startled it away.

It was a flamingo — in St. Louis.

After the first few days of being alone, Lucy had gone to the zoo and set the animals free and then never returned. She didn’t want to know which had survived and which sat in their cages without the will to seek freedom.

Freedom.

She had that in spades. She wanted someone, anyone, to talk to.

Make a signal. Right. She could do that.

September Writing Prompt

Short story of the month club continues, and without further ado, here is this month’s prompt:

It flashed through the sky and then was gone. Lucy was sure she had seen a UFO and was equally sure aliens were here to secretly make contact with a human being. Maybe they would choose her. Maybe she would get to visit their ship. Maybe…

I think this is a great prompt. As you know if you have read any of my stories, I do tend to have sci-fi bent in many of my stories.

Happy reading and writing this month!

ufo

August’s Prompt

I am running behind this month (like usual). However, I am really looking forward to everything going on this month. Mainly, school starts again.

I love my daughter, but she is an only child and I think she’s bored with me by this point in the summer. Trying to find ways to entertain her can be exhausting. At one point, I was honest with her. I said, “You have a 1,000 toys, an iPad, and a switch. If you say you’re bored one more time, we are donating all those things to someone who will enjoy them.” I think she believed me too because she hasn’t said it again. 🙂  So, I can’t wait for her to go back next week!!

vacay

Hopefully, I will have more time to write in the next couple of weeks once we get back into our routine for the year.

With writing in mind and without further ado, here is August’s story of the month prompt:

Looking back, it could have gone either way. It didn’t work out, which makes it look like fate, or a stupid decision, or both. But at the time, I did have a few things in my favor. I had ….

I think this is a great open-ended prompt. I can’t wait to get started.

Happy writing and reading this month!

Life Happens

Disclaimer: This month’s prompt and I did not get along. I tried to write two different stories with it, but nothing clicked for me. However, this was actually the better of the two. SIGH. Happy reading and writing! 

***********

The yellow lines on the highway sped by in a blur, and we flew through the night, and we felt free. But we weren’t, and we knew it. We were running away from something, and running away was never the path to freedom. I thought about telling John to turn back. I thought about suggesting we turn around and face the music, but then I saw his face. He looked carefree. It had been a long time since I’d seen him look that way. He was actually smiling. His brown hair was a little longer than normal, which was probably due to the stress of the last couple of months. Who had time for haircuts with everything we’d been through.

************

3 months earlier…

“John!” I yelled as he was heading out the door for work.

He turned to me with a question on his face. I knew he was running late. I handed him his lunch and he smiled gratefully. He didn’t actually say anything. Today was the big day. Today he would find out if he got the job. He’d been working hard for this his whole life. After 25 years on the job, he was up for a big promotion. I didn’t say anything else either; I knew he was remaining quiet to hide his anxiety.

I waited all day for him to call me, but he didn’t. I kept busy by cleaning everything I could think of. I scrubbed the bathrooms, mopped the kitchen, wiped down all surfaces, and vacuumed the whole house. When I did all that, I even washed, folded, and put away all the laundry. He still didn’t call. I decided to go for a walk. As I left the house, I found John.

He was sitting in the driveway with his car running. He had his head pressed forward on to his hands leaning on the steering wheel. I walked up to his car and tapped the window. When he looked up and saw me, I could tell he’d been crying.

After 28 years of marriage, I knew something terrible had happened. I’d only seen him cry once before this.

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Brains are Awesome

This month has been crazy! I have been participating in my first ever Camp Nanowrimo challenge. If you don’t know what it is, you should check it out. A few times a year, people actually commit to writing an entire novel in a month. My personal goal was to write 50,000 words in July. I do not think I am going to reach my goal, but the idea of making myself work on a project for that much time this month has made me realize something…

I can write a lot more than I do. I really have the time.

So, as I said, I don’t think I am going to reach my goal for Camp Nanowrimo, but I have written more this month than I normally do in 3 months! That alone made me realize I am capable of so much more.

As for my project for Camp Nanowrimo, I used my short story “Unicorns are Really Vampires” as a starting place for a novel. I knew there could be more to the story, but I am just amazed at the ideas I’ve come up with.

In addition to actually spending more time writing, I have also spent more time thinking about writing. Several times this month, I’ve felt like I hit a block in my story, with no idea how to continue it. However, by actually putting in the effort every day to either brain storm or actually write, I have been able to work through my writing blocks instead of being bogged down by them.

Sometimes without even meaning to, I will be going about my day and think, “That’s how that could work.” It’s like my brain is working on it even when I am not 100% focused on it.

All in all, and despite not meeting my goal, this Camp Nanowrimo has been a great experience for me.

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