Author's note: I finally decided to write about writers. It feels like cheating, it's so easy.
Chapter 1 (part 1)Chapter 1
Beep! Beep! Beep!
The alarm clock burst to life in the early morning darkness. A figure in the bed rolled over, made a groaning noise and then, as the alarm stopped, fell promptly back to sleep. It lasted only a few minutes.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
“Alright…. Alright already…” the figure shoved the blankets aside long enough to smack the clock with her hand and send it careening off the edge, crashing to the floor. This jerked
The light glared at her angrily and she shielded her eyes as she walked over to the sink and looked in the mirror. She jumped. Her deep brown hair was wilder than a Picasso, and she had rings under her eyes, no doubt proof that she had stayed up too late again. She rubbed a zit that was forming on her left cheek and made a face at it before opening the mirror and taking hold of her medicine bottle.
Johnson, Merry. Take one twice a day until prescribed again.
“Hm,” she said, and popped one in her mouth, downing it quickly with a shot of tap water. She looked back in the mirror and into her own, glistening amber eyes. “Today,” she told her reflection as she squirted toothpaste on her brush, “is my birthday.”
She smiled to herself, and watched as her reflection began brushing her teeth. It was almost as if it would spring to life and begin doing things on its own, but Mother said that was just her overactive imagination.
“You do have an overactive imagination,” Merry commented informatively, mouth leaking toothpaste, to the mirror. “But then again… that’s why you’re a writer.”
The reflection merely put the brush back in her mouth and continued brushing. After that it was the shower, then hair hair-combing, and then squirming into the jeans her father had bought her last week for no discernible reason.
“Grr,” she growled at the jeans as she struggled to heft them up. “You’d think my dad would know I’m not a size eight.” Dismally, she shed them and instead slipped on her comfortable size ten. Disregarding the matter from her mind promptly, she took her dirty clothes back to her room and dumped them down the laundry chute before stretching again. She quickly fed her goldfish, then looked around, satisfied. Her eyes fell on the desk by her bed.
“Ooh,” she said. She slipped over to it like she imagined a ninja would and sat, cracking her knuckles. “Merry Johnson goes to work.” She began to type.
The sun rose high above the war camp, but nothing stirred. Lore awoke with the first rays, but quickly found the air silent. Confused, he lifted his head and looked around, but there was no one. He furrowed his brow and frowned.
“Hello?” he called, struggling against the bonds that held him to the pole. “Hello, where is everyone?”
Nobody replied, and the lone elf struggled again. The ropes were too strong. He frowned again. They had taken his armor, weapons, and necklace, so he direly hoped they were still around to give them back. His fingers worked at the knot keeping him securely with his back to the pole, but it was so tight he couldn’t even begin to grasp it. Becoming desperate, he looked around for anything that might be able to help him.
There, a dagger. It was stuck point-first in the ground to his right, but it was far away. Perhaps if he reached out with his foot… Shedding his boot, he scooted around until he was facing the dagger, and then extended his foot as far as it would go in an attempt to grab it. It was just barely out of reach.
“Oh come on,” he muttered under his breath. He stared at it for a few moments before trying again, stretching to the limit. Again, it was just a little too far out of reach.
Out of nowhere, a long, loud howl suddenly wafted into the camp, and he froze, eyes wide. It sounded like a desert wolf, but they were near enough to the oasis for it to be a forest wolf too. Gulping, he wondered if it could be a desert Screecher, but they were so rare, it put his mind at ease.
Fighting the ropes again with no luck, he shifted around the pole again. He looked up at the sky and saw that it was about six o’ clock in the morning.
“Where is everyone?” he asked again, sounding frustrated. He slid his foot back into his boot wisely before kicking the dust and grumbling. If he was ever going to get out of here, he would have to find either some kind of sharp blade, or a rescuer… the latter of which he doubted was anywhere in range. He wondered how hot it would get during the day, and if he could survive on his own without dying.
As if his silent prayers had been heard, he suddenly heard footsteps. Freezing, he listened intently as they drew nearer. His keen ears picked up two voices and two pairs of footsteps before he realized they were coming in his direction. He thought they were his captors and before they arrived, he ducked his head and sat down once more, appearing asleep. Keeping his eye open just a crack, he waited and watched until the footsteps came around the corner of the last tent. They were directly ahead of him and he was unable to see who they were, but he decided to keep his head ducked anyway. Then, a voice.
“Lore!” his eyes jerked open. “I found you!” Looking up, he saw Cheera ahead of him, followed closely by some sort of old healer man in a dark robe. Lore narrowed his eyes at the cloaked figure as the young elf woman rushed up to him. “You idiot, how did you manage to get captured again?!”
“It happened at night,” he informed her, keeping his eyes on the man. “Who is that?”
“An old healer with magic that brought me to you,” she said, slashing the ropes that held his wrists easily. He broke free and flexed his hands. Lore was still suspicious.
“Are you sure?”
The old cloaked figure waved at him cheerfully and smiled, but Lore still sensed something was off. He narrowed his eyes.
Merry stopped as someone knocked on her door.
“Merry!” Her mother’s voice sounded bored, but still demanding. “It’s time to get up!”
“Already up, mom!” she shouted, annoyed.
“Are you ready for school?”
“I was half an hour ago!” she replied, before turning back to her story.
“Something about him is odd,” Lore whispered to Cheera as she helped him to his feet. She spotted his chaffed wrists and shook her head.
“You’re the only person I know who can
“Merry!” her mom shouted again, and the teen smashed her fists on her desk angrily.
“Don’t forget today you have to turn in your paper!”
Merry rolled her eyes. “I have it ready!” Muttering to herself, she resumed typing.
…get yourself injured every day of the week,” she snapped. Lore shrugged her off and approached the old man.
“What’s your name?” he asked, wondering if
“Oh, and Merry?” her mother said from the other side of the door, and Merry balled up her fists and made a gremlin face at her screen.
“Yes?” she asked, slowly.
“You have to be home by three o’ clock today,” she said sternly. Merry nearly choked.
“Just do it.”
“ You know I go to Sean’s house after school!”
Merry let her forehead rest on her desk. “Don’t do this to me, mom! We’re planning to-”
“Just be home by three o’ clock,” her mother interrupted sternly.
“Because,” she replied, sounding as if she thought the conversation was wasting time. “Your birthday is today.”
“Oh.” Merry didn’t get the chance to say anything else as her mother moved away from the door and headed downstairs. Slanting her mouth at her story, she sighed. Then she glanced at the clock and jumped. “I’ll have to pick this up later,” she said to herself, quickly saving it and shutting the laptop lid. She leaped up from her computer seat and ran for the bed before scooping up her backpack and racing out the door and down the stairs. She was glad school ended in a week.
Her house was enormous. Even she would admit it, if anyone asked, but since everyone around here had an enormous house, nobody ever thought to inquire. She pattered down the stairs in her socks and entered the kitchen casually.
Even for her rich parents, they had done an exceptional job decorating the kitchen. It had a bay window, and skylights, and a full-sized dining table in the middle of the room that still didn’t take up much room. A maid was setting the table while her father sat at the other end of the white table-clothed table and flipped slowly through the morning paper. Her mother sat beside him, stirring her tea, and her two brothers sat side by side nearby.
Of everyone in her family, the only person she really talked to was her older brother, Tristan. He was seventeen – two years older than her, as of today – and because he never judged her writing, she felt he never judged her. But he still wasn’t as good a partner as Sean. He was a calm, thin person with pale skin, blue eyes, and dark hair, like their father, but he never really spoke unless spoken to.
Her younger brother was Mark. He was in fifth grade, had the same complexion as Merry, and was terribly loud. He was as annoying as younger siblings could get, especially when he was telling dumb, fifth-grader jokes and flinging his food about, like now. Merry expertly dodged a flying spoonful of cornflakes and made a face at him, sitting on the other side of Tristan.
“Don’t make Carrie clean that up,” she scolded. The maid scurried by and cleaned it up anyway. Merry shook her head at Mark superiorly. “See what you did?”
“I don’t care,” Mark said simply, eating a spoonful as Mother looked over, just in case. She looked back toward Father and resumed their hushed conversation.
Merry looked at the table, scooped up a bagel, and put it on her plate. Some scrambled eggs, orange juice, and two slices of bacon joined it before she began eating.
“I shouldn’t be eating all this,” she thought, but went on chewing anyway. She finished up as quickly as she could without choking – or being hit with cornflakes – and then slipped into the main hall, leaving her chattering younger sibling behind.
If the kitchen was impressive, the main hall was a palace. It was laden with expensive objects her mother thought were pretty or matched the room appropriately, since her mother was an interior designer. She could have done without spending that much money on decoration, but he humored his wife often enough.
Merry slipped across the red plush rug and over to where her knee-high converse shoes were leaned against the wall. She put her backpack down beside it as she slipped the shoes on and zipped them up. She was tiptoeing for the door, backpack in hand, when Tristan’s voice interrupted her.
“Aren’t you going to wait for me?”
She stopped in mid-step and glanced over her shoulder at him, annoyed. He was lacing up his converses as well, but his were only ankle-high.
“Right, right,” she said, sighing. “I keep forgetting we’re on the same bus now.”
“Yep,” he said simply, and then stood, heaving his backpack up onto his shoulder. Merry opened the door and they headed outside onto the huge, white stone steps that led up to their house. From there they walked down the stone-and-gravel path as Merry glanced up through the orange trees to the great, California sky.
“Oh,” said Tristan randomly as they exited the wrought-iron gate and stood at their usual post by the large oak tree that marked their mansion on the long street of expensive homes in Rolling Hills. “And happy birthday.”
Merry was slightly surprised that he had remembered. “So you had it marked down on your pocket calendar, eh?” she elbowed him. “Not that you got me anything though. I know you.”
“Sure I did,” Tristan replied, seeming half-interested. Merry perked up.
“You did? What? What did you get me? Will I like it? I hope it’s not clothes. Is it clothes?”
“No clothes,” he said.
“What is it?”
He shook his head.
“Oh please! Tell me!”
“Pssh,” she gave up and leaned on the oak tree, crossing her arms. “I guess I’ll find out soon enough, won’t I?” They waited in silence for a minute or two before Merry took out her ‘NaNoWriMo’ keychain and began swinging it on her finger. Tristan eyed it but said nothing. The bus suddenly rounded the far corner and began lumbering down the street, stopping in front of the other houses on their street, and Merry picked up her backpack.