Camp WriMo is coming up. Next month, to be exact. For thirty days, we writers are encouraged to set goals and reach them, egging each other on until the end.
The organisers are those of NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month) and camp wrimo has been happening for many years. This is going to be my first year attempting it, though I am not going in officially. I'm not even sure my account is still alive and accessible.
There is a novel I have been slowly adding to, pretty much a chapter a month. The going is painfully slow. But, fun. I like the characters. I'm happy that my laziness has meant I've taken time to flesh out characters. And it changed from my original plan of writing smut with the intent of getting it published and making some money (cue accented stretched out word) to something I'm more comfortable with; awkward romance.
This is what I plan to finish writing.
50,000 words (or at least the rest of it, since I think I'm about 7,000 words in).
1,557 words per day minimum.
Planning on using the nanowrimo format to get me through this.
If I do choose to send this to a publisher, that means I am giving up the sole rights of my story and will receive an agree upon percentage of the profits. But then I should be able to get my book to a wider audience and maybe make a living from it (not that I am ungrateful to all of you who read and support my work, it's just a thing I'm thinking about). And I might feel a little more legitimate as an author.
However, self-publishing is... well, what I know and means that everything is mine still and I can share what I want with the world.
I mention this, as publishers make it clear in their rules and regulations that no portion of the manuscript is to be published to the public, not if you want it to be considered for publication with them. (exhale)
Okay. Focusing on the writing and making the plot a solid thing before the start of camp (since that's where I faulted for nanowrimo last year) and then getting the words done.
Then I'll worry about a publisher or self-publishing.
Who knows what will happen in the future.
‘Scouting mission 74…’
Park glared at the page.
‘Success. No enemy found or any evidence of enemy activity throughout No-man’s Land.’
He reached for the bottle of whisky.
‘Fourteen scouts were lost on the mission. Eight killed by the yajukei and six MIA.’
He took a hard slug from the bottle, letting the alcohol sting and burn his throat before setting fire to his chest. “Fucking blood bath,” he cursed.
Fourteen families now had the great honour of having given sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers to their national security. The greatest sacrifice to protect our homes.
“Stupid idiots, fucking believing the propaganda,” he slugged back more of the alcohol.
The door to his office opened.
His superior officer, Clarke, smirked. “You kiss your mother with that mouth?”
“She’s dead,” he deadpanned back.
Clarke shook his head. “Do you have the report?”
Park glanced down at the piece of garbage he’d been writing. “I’m working on it now.”
“Anything I should know?”
“You sent fourteen soldiers to their deaths just so we can say that no-one was there.”
Park sighed. “Yes. That’s all. We entered No-man’s land, split into four squads and scouted the entire area for four days. The only thing we encountered were yajukei and they’re fucking feral out there. Eight died, we brought back what we could of them. Six never made it back to the rendezvous point, most likely they’re dead. The rest of us made it back to the wall.”
Clarke motioned for the bottle in Park’s hands.
Another quick slug and passed it over.
“The higherups are going to love this news.”
Park rolled his eyes. “Just so they can go through with their stupid plan? Morons.”
“The wall has worked at the boarder.”
“So, let’s build another. Don’t worry about the yajukei that want to fucking eat your face off while you’re still breathing, they’re not going to be a bother to anyone working.”
Clarke moved the opening of the bottle under his nose, smiling softly. “The solution to the yajukei are the hunters.”
Park frowned. “Hunters? You mean those professional ones?”
Leaning back in his chair, Park considered this idea.
“They’re already trained in how to hunt and kill animals,” Clarke continued. “They have the physical requirements to last on long missions.”
“And they’ll die just the same as a soldier.”
Clarke stepped towards the desk and placed the bottle down, careful of the neat stacks of paperwork. “This is the path that’s been chosen for our nation to survive. We can’t keep starving people with the what little land we have. We need to reclaim No-man’s Land and rebuild our farming sector.”
“I wasn’t arguing, Clarke. Just making a statement.”
“I know. Hurry up with the report. It needs to be presented tomorrow morning.” Clarke turned to leave. “And stop drinking on the job. You’re not a grunt anymore, you’re an officer.”
“That means I should drink more,” Park threw back.
Garcia swiped hastily at her eyes as she packed up her little room at the Hunter’s HQ. She had been strong when she’d gone and informed her parents, she hadn’t shed a tear in front of them and they didn’t cry either.
That wasn’t what they did.
But in the safety of her room, she couldn’t help but to let out her tears. Her knees buckled and she dropped to the floor as a jumble of limbs.
This was bad, the absolute worst thing to ever happen.
What if I die? What if I never get to come home? Never see mum and dad… never… I don’t want to go.
The tears poured. She held her hand over her mouth tight. Letting the others hear her wail wouldn’t help.
Garcia had to be strong for them. She had to be the one to keep Augie moving, stop Jin and Briar bickering, help Briar with her ideas… because that’s what she did.
Jin was being smothered to death. His grandmother’s perfume was so strong he could taste it on the back of his tongue with each gasp for air. “Let me go, old woman!” Struggling to break free of her death hold, Jin cried out for mercy.
“This might be the last time I ever get to hold you and you’re arguing with me? Shame, boy.”
A slice of guilt made him still. “I’ll be back.”
“That’s what your father said.”
“Jeez,” he renewed his struggle once again and this time slipping free. “Do you want to jinx me?”
The old woman pinched his cheek hard. The ache radiated into his gums. “Let me have my time with you.”
He rolled his eyes.
She released him and moved around the kitchen. “Your grandfather would be proud of you.”
“What for?” he frowned.
“You’ve become a fine young man, a good hunter, and now you’re going to protect our nation…” she broke off.
Jin rubbed at the back of his neck and looked anywhere but at her. “We’re not even at war.”
“We’re always at war with the North.”
Jin frowned. The North… that’s where the ferals prowled on the other side of the wall. Unconsciously, he stood and made a move to the door.
A wooden spoon struck the door just beside his head. Startled, he spun around.
“Where do you think you’re going?!” his grandmother yelled.
“Back to HQ…” he trailed off, realising he wanted to tell Briar about the idea he was forming as to why they were being conscripted.
“You are not leaving here any sooner, Jin. Sit your backside back down and let me have the last of your time at home.”
Augie ran. He pushed hard to make it back in time.
Tears hit the back of his eyes once again, this time in fear of the soldiers thinking he was refusing to serve. No, he was just late.
He’d been late because of Lettie. She was in shock when he told her that he’d been conscripted. And then pissed off. She’d marched up and down the lane at the back of her family’s property, cursing the king and the military. Finally, she stopped and…
Augie wished he’d asked her to marry him last year when they turned eighteen together. If she’d been a dependent on him, then he would never have met the minimum requirement for service.
But then he would be feeling guilty about the others. Briar, Jin, and Garcia. Garcia would probably tell him to just get on with it, that that was that. Briar would leave detail instructions about the conservation plans as well as how to care for all of the plant specimens she’d collected and hoarded in her room in HQ. And Jin would be angry and then last-minute order him to check in on his grandmother just to make sure she hadn’t died, the old woman.
Augie didn’t like the idea of being able to stay when the others were forced to leave.
Too bad that wasn’t the problem for him anyway.
“They’re late,” Briar laughed.
The four of them sat on the steps to HQ, their luggage resting beside them. Out of all of them, Briar’s bag was the biggest and lumpiest.
Augie eyed it suspiciously. “What did you pack, Briar?” he cautiously broached the subject.
“Hmm? Oh, just some books and what not.”
Garcia sighed heavily. “Clothes and toiletries are the only things you’re meant to pack.”
“No-one mentioned that,” Briar replied innocently.
“And when are you going to have time to read?” Jin grumbled.
Briar snorted. “I’ve always heard that the military is all about ‘hurry up and wait’. I’m just being prepared.”
Garcia cracked a smile. “When dad came home from the war he said the same thing. More than half the time he served he was waiting.”
Jin stretched out his legs. “I don’t think we’re being conscripted to just sit around and wait.” He made sure he didn’t turn to look at Briar. “I think they’re planning on sending us to the northern border.”
Briar’s head spun with the possibilities of going North. Feral beasts. Forests she’d never roamed around. Plants that could be used to treat all kinds of ailments. “What makes you think that?”
“Something my grandmother said; we’re always at war with the North. Maybe we’re going to launch an all-out attack or something.”
Briar started to chew on her thumb nail. “Hmm.” That didn’t really make sense then. It would be better to recruit more than just the hunters, build up the public opinion and have the people raring to fight.
“Stop over thinking,” Jin complained. “It was something I thought could happen. Who knows where we’ll be going or what we’ll be doing.”
The cart finally rumbled down the road, carrying other hunters, all wearing their hooded capes in various shades of red. The soldier driving jerked his head to the back. “Get on,” he ordered the hunters of Alburn, not bothering with any formal process.
Briar swallowed hard. This was it, the first step towards an unknown future. She climbed on behind Garcia, taking a spot on the floor of the cart, stuffing her bag between and under her bent legs. Something solid dug into her thigh. She tried to readjust it without too much movement or having Garcia realise what exactly she was fixing up.
Her elbow bumped the shin of a hunter seated on the bench. “Sorry about that,” she shot an apologetic smile up.
The young woman smiled back kindly. “That’s okay. It’s hard to find a comfortable spot.”
Whoa… Briar almost lost her breath. Beside her, Jin audibly gasped. Both women looked at him. A bright red flush covered his cheeks and he quickly looked away from the young woman, a sheepish smile curving his lips. “Sorry, I just wasn’t expecting someone so beautiful to be a hunter.”
Briar frowned at him. Was Jin attracted to the woman? Was this how he reacted? She felt herself smirk knowingly. Turning back, she offered her hand to the woman. “I’m Briar, by the way.”
“Natalie,” she shook Briar’s hand.
Straight away she noticed the callouses on her palms and the strength of her grip. “Where you from?” Briar asked.
“The Highlands. Born and bred. What about you?”
Briar smiled. “We’re all obviously from here.”
“I was born here,” Jin interrupted. “My grandfather was a hunter and so was my father.”
Natalie nodded. “So we’re mine.”
Briar sat back and allowed them to hold a conversation over her head. Each time Jin replied or asked a question she had to stop herself from laughing, he was so awkward.
Fear coursed through his body as the feral beast lashed out and struck Annie, knocking her clear off her feet and several metres away. She didn’t move again. The pack descended upon her, teeth bared and started to feast. Strip after strip after strip of her skin was pulled.
Park stood frozen in spot.
His body refused to move.
‘This isn’t right,’ he thought.
This wasn’t how it had happened.
Annie’s head rolled to the side, her eyes had gone white suddenly rolled back and pierced him with a stare. “Useless,” she gasped out.
Park startled awake. Lifting his head from the stack of paper on his desk, he quickly looked around. Office, night.
Not a scouting mission years ago.
“Fuck,” he groaned and scrubbed a hand over his eyes.
He went back over the real events, what really happened when Annie had died. She had stepped forward to attack and was knocked off her feet by a yajukei, that part had been correct. The pack had started to eat her. But Park hadn’t stayed still, he’d killed them. Each and every last one there, he cut down and made sure they didn’t move again.
But by the end of it all, Annie had died. A pool of blood that had soaked into the ground where she laid.
Park shoved himself away from the desk and hurried from the room. Down the hall his footsteps echoed loudly in the silence.
Without a clear destination in mind, he marched down the stairs and along the hall on the ground floor.
“Shh. Someone’s coming,” a person hissed. Shuffling gave away their position outside the opened window.
Park narrowed his eyes. Damned brats up passed curfew.
With quick movements, he placed a hand on the window sill and launched himself out, landing lightly on the ground outside. A metre away, crouched under the next window, three soldiers stared wide eyed up at him.
“Which of you wants to make up the lie for why you’re out of your bunks after lights out?” Park crossed his arms and stared down at the three.
None offered any excuse.
“Tch. Stand up!” he bellowed.
They jumped and stood to attention.
He could practically smell the fear radiating off of them. Good, he thought. Fucking stupid kids. “No lies to share? How about the truth?”
One brave soldier swallowed hard and stepped forward. “Sir,” she started. “We… we were friends with Private Kaden Stevenson.”
The name made a muscle jump in his jaw. MIA on the last scouting mission.
“We were paying honour to him with…” she looked back at her friends before continuing on. “A bag of sweets.”
“Sweets?” that shocked him.
She nodded, seriousness taking over her face. “Kaden always had a bag of sweets with him.”
Park stared at the three. They were breaking the rules to eat a bag of sweets in memory of a friend… it sounded so damned childish. It made him feel old.
“You’re on cleaning for the rest of this month. Go to the stores and grab a mop and bucket,” he ordered.
The soldiers cried out. “But sir,” the girl started.
He turned cold narrowed eyes onto her. “What is it soldier?”
“Um,” she froze.
“You’re awake, you might as well do something useful.” Levi turned on his heel and started for the door. “We’ll start in the bathhouse.”
Behind him, though it was quiet, they grumbled.
“Or would you prefer corporal punishment?”
“No, sir!” they quickly and quietly followed him.
Unofficially, I seem to be participating in nanowrimo (national novel writing month, 50k words in 30days) this year. The idea isn't fully formed or even well thought out. The characters are still being developed. But in saying that I have the first two chapters done.
They are unedited, written on the fly, and are going to be full of mistakes. And there is a heavy influence from Attack on Titan, Tokyo Ghoul, Nausica of the Valley of the Wind, and All You Need is Kill.
Let me know what you think.
Reclaim (working title)
Yajukei – deformed beasts found throughout No-Man’s Land. Unknown origin.
Hunter Division – Civilian registered hunters who are conscripted to make a temporary new division in the military with the purpose of mass eradication of the Yajukei. Chosen for their pre-existing skills and physical strengths, shortening military training times from eighteen months to six months.
Chapter OneAngrily grumbling under her breath, Briar dumped the animal traps she’d dragged into the Hunter’s HQ to the floor. They clattered to the stone floor of the great hall, echoing throughout the space.
The only other person occupying the space sighed heavily.
“Damned bastards. No respect. No care,” she shrugged out of her hooded cloak. “They just come to our forests and set up these brutal traps which they don’t check for days, days! Not caring about the torture the animals go through. When we catch them, we should torture them the same way.”
“Briar,” Augie tried.
She moved to the table, throwing the cloak onto the bench seat. It felt good, a little violent. “They don’t consider what animals they kill, whether they’re young or old or coming up to breeding season or…”
She jerked her head up. Eyes widening, she realised where she was and what she was actually doing. “’Morning Augie.”
He sighed. “Found more?”
“Yeah,” glancing back at the steel contraptions with their spring tensions and sharp teeth only heightened her anger. “Still no pattern. They show up one day, but not the next necessarily. And not in the same area.”
Augie sipped his tea, carefully blowing across it’s surface first. “It’s going to be hard to catch them.”
Briar dropped to the bench opposite. “All of our hard work; ever time we’ve chosen to protect a species, to let them breed their numbers up again… it’s wasted if these assholes keep poaching.” The anger was taking a toll, zapping everything from her body. Her head dropped, forehead landing onto the table with a solid thump. The impact radiated pain briefly.
Punishment, she idly thought, this isn’t punishment enough for screwing up.
“Want some breakfast?”
“Hmm,” at the mention of food, her stomach grumbled.
Ten minutes later, two steaming plates were being devoured. Augie cringed which made Briar chuckled. She knew exactly how disgusting she was; the loud smacking of her lips as she chewed, the pace at which she was demolishing the food, and the sighs and coos that came forth. The intoxicating smell and taste of the first bite triggered her.
“When was the last time you ate?”
She shrugged. Eaten a proper meal… several days. Grazed on berries or other cold things… last night.
The door to the main entrance opened and the remaining two hunters for the township entered; Jin and Garcia. They took their spots at the table.
Garcia snatched the plate from Briar. “You’re going to make yourself sick if you eat like that,” she warned in her best mother voice.
“And me too,” Jin grimaced. “That’s gross.”
Briar swiped the back of her hand over her mouth. “Then look away, Jin.” She teased.
Garcia passed back the plate, but the regular threat was still there; eat like a human or no more food.
“Whatever,” Jin rolled his eyes.
Four registered hunters sat at the table in the centre of the great hall. Late morning light filtered through the huge windows, highlighting the dust floating in the air. In the middle of the table, the four of them studied the notebook together.
“More traps but from the East?” Garcia frowned at the mess of markings. Reaching over she elegantly marked onto the small map where the last lot of traps had been found.
“They were probably done late yesterday,” Briar chewed her thumbnail. “Different spot to the last two times.” She released her nail and started to trace with her fingertip each place they’d found traps.
Jin snatched the notebook from under Briar’s finger. “Are you positive there isn’t a pattern?”
“Sure, double check,” she drawled.
“They’re not selling the meat in town,” Augie added. “None of the butchers are admitting to taking anything from poachers and there hasn’t been anything officially registered in the records.”
Jin tossed the notebook back to the centre of the table. “So, they’re not registered hunters.”
“Poachers,” Garcia sighed heavily. “Probably selling it on the black market.”
“I just don’t know how we’re going to stop them,” Briar chewed her nail again. “There isn’t enough of us to patrol the forest, the authorities don’t care,” she focussed on the map again, this time looking at the surrounding. “Maybe we can go the villages nearby, see if we can find out about fresh meat being sold on the black market. Someone is accepting from non-registered hunters.”
Jin gave a curt nod. “I’ll go to the Highlands and see what I can find there, tomorrow.”
Briar smiled. “Thanks Jin.”
“I can head South,” Garcia suggested. “Try the villages on the way to the city.”
Briar had to stop her sigh. Why did Garcia always try to take on the most responsibility? “I’ll come with you. We can check together.”
“Guess that leaves me with the East,” Augie laughed.
“Excellent,” Briar grinned. They were doing something, something that could actually lead to results. “We have a plan. Let’s just hope that they’re not taking it all the way back to the city,” she worried her thumbnail again.
All four looked to the door.
Soldiers filed in, taking up space around the edge of the room, led by a short and stout man carrying a ledger. He marched right to the table the four sat at. “Hunters of Alburn.”
They tensed. Briar narrowed her eyes on the man as he slapped the ledger onto the tabletop. This isn’t a good official visit, she thought. What does the military want with us? She shifted in her seat, dread making the skin at the back of her neck crawl.
The official flicked through the book. “There are four registered hunters for this town that meet the requirements.”
“Requirements for what?” Jin burst out.
The official ignored him and continued with his announcement. “Jin, 23, no dependents. Augustus, 19, no dependents. Garcia, 23, no dependents. Briar, 28, no dependents.”
Briar’s stomach dropped away. Shit.
“Under the authority of the King, all registered hunters meeting the minimum requirement of being between the ages of 16 and 45 and have no dependents needing their help for care, are hereby conscripted for a period of national service.”
“No!” Briar slapped her hands to the table, the sudden impact stinging.
Jin followed with jumping up. “Conscription? For what?”
“The last time you conscripted hunters,” Briar barrelled forward. “We ended up with generational gaps in the profession! Look! We’re the only hunters here! And we struggled to get to this!” she swung her hand out and over the hall. Empty tables and benches were covered in layers of dust. “No, you can’t do this again.”
The official paid no attention. He let her rant but then continued with his scripted speech. “You have until the end of the day to put your affairs into order. Return to the Hunter’s HQ for processing. Any who refuse will be arrested and brought before the magistrate.”
Briar was jerked down into her seat. She sent Garcia a seething look.
Garcia hissed, “stop it Bri.” The hand gripping her wrist was shaking.
Shit. Briar gritted her teeth.
Jin suddenly dropped down also, grumbling.
Augie… he hung his head forward and covered his eyes with his hand. Each breath was a deep inhale that jerked his shoulders up.
A satisfied nod and the official left, taking the ledger and the soldiers with him.
Silence filled the space again. It echoed around the hunters.
Augie gasped, his hand dropping from his eyes to clamp over his mouth. Tears broke free and were streaming down his cheeks.
Briar swallowed hard. Shit, shit, shit! “Bastards,” she growled. “Surely they could’ve done… something better than this.”
“Like what?” Jin snapped.
“Recruit only half of us, leave at least two hunters to work for the village,” she yelled back.
“Conscript,” he tossed back. “They’re conscripting us. We don’t get a choice, Briar!”
Her hands curled into fists. “I know that!”
“Stop trying to look for ways to fix everything, then. You can’t fix this!”
“Shut up,” Garcia surged to her feet. “I can’t stand listening to you two argue more.” She gathered her cloak, picking up Briar’s and draping it over her shoulders. “We don’t have a lot of time. We should do what we have to.”
“Augie…” Jin started.
Startled, he turned his face away. “I…”
Garcia tugged on Briar’s shoulder. “We’ll leave now.”
To escape tumbling backwards to the floor, Briar stood and followed Garcia. She didn’t look back at Augie, not to check on him, or to say anything. First, there was nothing she could say, no comfort to be offered. Second, she needed to be stable. The announcement made her emotionally unstable.
She wanted to scream.
Pretend that it wasn’t happening.
At the door, she stopped. Turning back, she marched over to Augie. It tore at her emotions, tears prickling the back of her eyes savagely. Wrapping him in her arms she let those tear fall. “We’ll be fine. Whatever happens, we’ll… be fine.”
Then buried his face into the crook of her neck.
Fine… what would be fine? How?
Briar sagged against the closed door. She felt like she’d just lied to the kid. All that was left to be said was ‘I promise’ and she’d have the biggest lie ever uttered.
They no longer had any control over their lives. Anything could happen and they’d end up dead.
She searched her memory for the latest news mentioned recently; nothing in town had been said about a possible war.
“What are they doing?” she asked her empty room. The collection of plant specimens and stacks of books and notes scattered around the place didn’t answer.
She rolled her eyes. “Shit.”