The NaNoNess Continues…

“Raina, look at me. No, look at me. We’re going to be okay. I know we will.”

“How?” she asked him. “Just tell me how and I’ll believe it. I’ll throw myself on the fire to put it out myself if you can just tell me how it will be okay.”

“I can’t answer that yet, but I just know it. Can’t we hunt around here? Is there anything we can find to eat? C’mon, you’re the Find, remember?” She did smile a little at his remembering her job back in Refuge.

“I’m the Find,” she sighed. “We’ll hunt. Come on, I’ll need help bringing back whatever we kill.” She stood to go, grabbing up her slingshot rifle and pocketed some shards of glass out of a pouch on her pack. Xander made to go with her.

They walked a good ways from their makeshift camp to a thicker part of the woods, hoping animals might be more plentiful away from the path and where the trees would hide them. Raina crouched low suddenly, holding a hand back towards Xander to make him stop his walking. She squatted close to the ground and held both hands to her mouth, using their twisted shape to whistle a bird call. Xander whispered a scoff.

“The two of us are going to eat sparrows? Are you going to call the little woodland birdies to your hand like the princess in the story?” He managed to hold back his laugh, but only because they were hunting. Raina sighted something through the trees and immediately shouldered her slingshot and fired in one fluid motion, then darted off into the thick patch of brush and trees. Xander simply stared after her, afraid to follow her and risk making a noise that would scary off any potential dinner.

She returned only minutes later with a largish dog thrown over her shoulders, its neck dangling at a nauseating angle, blood seeping from where her glass shard had hit it directly through the eye. She tossed the dog over her head and off her shoulders, letting it land directly in front of Xander.

“No, we’re going to eat the coyote that thinks we’re birds. Now carry that back to the fire.” She turned her back on him and slung her slingshot up on one shoulder, walking with a cocky saunter. Xander couldn’t see her face with her back turned to him, but he knew she was smiling that annoyingly smug grin of hers. Again.

 

NaNo Novel: Excerpt II

Xander made his way over to a rotting tree with a fallen log across it, half-dragging Raina as he went. He shoved her under the log and up into the cavernous tree then followed her in. He lowered himself to sitting and pulled his injured legs up around him, letting Raina climb into his lap and burrow her face into his shirt. He put his arms around her awkwardly, unsure how good manners would dictate comforting an unfamiliar little girl in the face of dozens of dead people swaying from trees, their arms and legs askew like so many wind chimes. Xander wished there were someone to cradle him in a comforting hug.

Raina eventually slept in his arms but Xander stayed awake for the next several hours, listening to the sounds around him. Every movement of the leaves or crunch of a twig outside the tree caused him to sit up straighter and prick his ears in that direction.

NaNo Novel : Excerpt One

The clicking of the guards’ heels on the pristine tile floors was the only noise as the trio made their way through twisting hallways under the glare of industrial lighting. Xander wanted to look back to make sure no one else had joined them. Obviously someone would have to be coming to stop them. This had all been too easy, or easier than he had been told to expect.

The last time he had walked a gleaming hallway like this between two armed guards in crisp uniforms, it hadn’t gone well at all. At least this time he wasn’t wearing handcuffs. Still, he couldn’t help clenching and unclenching his fists as if preparing to fight off the two soldiers flanking him.

“Aren’t there any guards from their side coming to meet us? Don’t I need to show my paperwork to someone over there?” Xander asked, trying to make small talk with the soldiers who had been strangely quiet ever since his approval for escort.

“They don’t have any guards, senor.”