A Snippet of Something

‘Sup, John here!

 

Writing is hard. I know, whodathunkit? Like any skill, it must be practiced, honed. And like with more visual arts, sometimes a bit of doodling is helpful to shake out the creative cobwebs. My Nanowrimo attempts are good examples of that; very seldom are they something I’m going to do anything with, but they’re helpful for keeping the writing muscles in good shape.

That said, sometimes little things stand out, things that turned out better than you expected. Things that deserve a place in something you’re taking more seriously. Not all of those things get that chance. That said, I thought it might be fun to share some of these once in awhile. Here’s a passage from my latest NaNo novel, On the Edge of the World.

~*~

Maelstrom Valley was a harsh place, a deep, wide, valley of dry, blasted wastelands, thorny scrubs and deep, sucking marshes, ringed by a row of jagged mountain peaks, said by some to have protected its inhabitants from the worst of the radioactive fallout. It is harsh, indeed. But it is also home.

Humans are nothing if not adaptable, and resilient. With what was left of civilization, they carved out a niche for themselves in the valley, building settlements, finding ways of life, innovating. And through endless sweat and blood, ceaseless determination, some of these settlements have become places where people do not just survive, but thrive. In some stretches of the wasteland, hope is not dead.

This stretch was not one of those stretches. This stretch was the other kind of stretch.

A fierce battle had gone down here, not long ago. For miles around, the wasteland was strewn with the debris of wrecked vehicles… as well as that of their drivers. Bodies – and parts of bodies – littered the sand, some of the blood still wet, even in the searing midday sun. Some of them were still clutching weapons, others clinging to what was left of their vehicles. Dotting the landscape were a number of burnt husks, some of which continued to burn. And central to it all, the nexus from which all of the death and destruction was radiating outward, like the ripples from a stone thrown into a sandy pond, was a huge pile of wreckage.

There was nobody left to observe any of this but the carrion crows. But if they cared at all to look (and why would they, when there was a veritable feast around them), what they would see is this:

Slowly, a small segment of wreckage shifted a bit, back and forth. Faster and faster, a bit of car wriggled… until finally, a chalk-white fist punched through it, and a figure crawled out, like a chick making its way out of an egg.

The figure was a woman, wearing garments of sewn-together scraps of whatever she could scavenge, her skin caked with white clay. Her hair was a fiery red, cut into a crude mohawk, and on her face was the remains of a crude death’s-head insignia. A little trickle of blood ran down her brow as she straightened up and stretched. She surveyed the wreckage around her. Then she looked down at herself. She gave her arm a pinch. She winced.
“Aw, son of a butt!” she screamed out, causing the crows to scatter. “Not again!”

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