Placeholder (NaNoWriMo Day 18)

The last place Simon expected to wake up was on an alien spaceship, but there are worse ways to start a NaNo novel…

This is the daily posting of my 2016 NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) attempt at a novel. It’s a brand new world and new fictives and although I gave a shot at planning things (see: Chasing Falling Stars), it’s another pantsing effort. So MuseFics away! 🙂

Read at your own risk/amusement: There will most likely be spelling and grammatical errors afoot as well as flat out bad writing, info dumps, plot holes, contradictions/retcons, uneven characterization and pacing.

Daily Wordcount: 1,995
Total Wordcount: 24,244 (includes Title, Chapter Headers, etc.)

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Weird Dreams, Dropping the Bass, And Other Fancy Stuff

“Every time I think you’re going to get caught up again, something happens.” Groused the Muse as she and the Writer tried to relocate the faux-living room in the story mists. “Have you ever thought about getting ahead of wordcount once in awhile?”

“I have good intentions!” The Writer objected as she frowned at the fog. Was that a unicorn? “And I could have sworn I put the living room right over here. If Simon moved it I’m going to kill him.”

“You can’t kill him, he’s a main character,” the Muse said, poking around in the mists. “And the path is right over here, it’s just hiding.”

“So it is.” The Writer gave the hints of the path a cross look and it guiltily rematerialized beneath their feet. “Why do I have a feeling it was trying to lure us off into another story again.” There was a brief glimpse of a dog pack.

“Because it does that?” The Muse shrugged “Like, a lot?”

The path refused to comment and led them back to the story.


“We’re throwing all the dream rubbish out,” said Simon the moment they were in view of the writing desk. “Do you know how many telepathic bug races are out there?”

“Yeah, that’s why I thought of it.” Said the Writer as she sat down at the desk. “Come on, isn’t that a more interesting way to get the bugs off the ship than just noise and light?”


The Writer looked over at the Muse who shrugged and refused to join the fight.

“Alright, alright,” the Writer sighed. “I guess you do have a point. I’d like to use the dream sequence to do some sort of character building in the edit though. Having you drugged is such a nice opportunity!”

There was a pause.

“Okay, so that came out wrong, but you know what I mean.” The Writer pulled up the Google Doc, set the wordcount timer and got to work.


The pounding on the walls had worn down the rough edges of Cat’s hunting drive and it seemed to have driven the bugs back to the top layers of Ship’s material storage. The ceilings looks like melted wax, but at least they were somewhat safe again.

For various values of ‘safe’.

Cat padded back to the bedroom, tired and still a little jumpy. He’d been on this ship for years now and they had rarely run into so many issues all at once. Cat wondered if maybe Simon was some sort of bad luck charm. But the human was the first person in a long time to actually treat him as someone worth interacting with and bad luck or no, Cat wasn’t willing to give that up.

Cat snuck back into the room, but Simon was already waking from his nightmares. Cat loved dreaming, it was the only time he could get off of the ship and hunt again. He was always aware it was a dream, but to feel the ground beneath his paws and the taste of real prey. But he couldn’t tell what sort of dreams humans had, or if they dreamed at all, and he had no idea how to put that question into words Simon could translate.

With a sigh he flopped out next to the bed and waited for the human to come fully awake.


Simon broke from the nightmare with a flash of panic, but clawed his way back to being fully awake slowly. He knew he wasn’t dreaming, but the world still seemed soft around the edged and unreal in a way he couldn’t quite put words to.

He felt more than saw Cat pad into the room and flop down beside the bed. Simon wasn’t expecting the arrival of the alien to feel quite as reassuring. It was still a very large very unpredictable alien predator, but for some reason he’s brain had unconsciously slotted the cat into a support position.

When the room stopped being foggy, Simon sat up. He was still feeling a little hung over, but it was fading rapidly as he woke up.

“So what’s our status?” He wasn’t sure who he was asking, but it was Ship who answered first.

“Waiting-by-water has confirmed that noise and or vibration will make them move and the bugs are now safely on the outer layers of the storage. However I don’t have the material on hand to repair the hull, so I’m merely shifting things around for now. Thankfully the damage we took earlier was not enough to breach any of the rooms, so they have no way in. Other than the burrowing, which they seem to have stopped for now.”

“Did we get enough space between us and whatever is chasing us to try driving them off?” He wasn’t expecting a happy answer to that question, but he was a little surprised when Ship didn’t respond at all.

Simon looked down at Cat who rippled his fur patterns in what amounted to a helpless shrug.

“Are you going to let us know?” He finally asked the ceiling.

“Please do not think that my asking for your help in brainstorming ideas means that you have any input on how I carry out my mission.” Ship said finally. “If something happens where I need your assistance or if it will require action from you, I will let you know.”

There was a long silence.

“Well, at least someone has a plan.” Simon said with a sigh.

Cat ruffled his fur in agreement and they got back to working on their shared language.


“That was a bit rude,” Simon said as Ship glided into the living room.

“But it’s the truth,” said ship with a wiggle-shrug of his wings. “I can use your help in brainstorming, but the actual execution of the plan is outside your control.”

“I am all for letting him fix it himself,” Cat said as he walked into the room trailed by the Muse. “We’re pretty much just glorified cargo, maybe death would be a better alternative to a lifetime of imprisonment.”

“There’s no need to take that tone,” Ship started, but stopped when the Writer suddenly looked up from her notes with a happy whoop!

“Wait, we can use these!” She flipped through her notes. “Look, we have to get rid of the bugs, but why not play Galaxy Quest with them and use them to attack the other ship?”

“I don’t see what good that would do,” Cat said as he burrowed into his beanbag chair. “It’s going to be made of the same composite that Ship is, or something close and it doesn’t have the limitation of having to keep passengers alive.”

“Stupid question then, why hasn’t it caught up to us already?” Simon looked over at Ship.

“It’s already going as fast as it can,” said Ship.

“They why weren’t we going faster before?” Cat sat up. “I would have happily been sick for a bit if it meant we could finally get away.” There was a pause. “Oh, yeah, forgot you weren’t trying to get away.” He shook his head. “Story me and me-me are overlapping.”

“That ought to occur to story-you as well at some point,” the Writer said thoughtfully.

“Can I please get rid of the bugs first” Asked Ship.

“Fine, fine.” The Writer set the timer and they were off!


Ship had a plan, of sorts, now it was only a matter of executing things.

He carefully retrofitted one of the smaller bots that was capable of moving along the ceilings with a set of bass speakers and tweak the settings until it was able to produce a strong vibration in the hull. He tested it out on some of the bugs and was able to move the more or less in the direction he wanted, so he built a small fleet of the things.

The downside was that creating the vibrations guaranteed to move the bugs could only be done from a close range and he’d discovered his robots stopped responding to his input within a certain radius of the bugs. That radius was, of course, larger than the range of the vibrations.

He’d recovered communications with the first robot once the bugs had moved far enough away. He still wasn’t sure how the bugs were causing the interference, but it looked like some part of their biology interfered with the frequency he used to control the bots.

Ship had worked around that by giving the bots a very simple set of instructions to follow when communication was lost so they could continue moving the bugs in the direction he wanted. It was hardly foolproof, but since the bots were on the inside of the ship there wasn’t much harm they could cause if they went off-track.

Using them he was able to drive the bugs from around one of the hatches so he could get a few more bots on the surface. Then he very slowly brought them around to the iron deposits that the bugs hadn’t reached yet.

Thankfully there didn’t seem to be anything the bugs liked to eat better than iron, so there was a good chance this would work.

He had the robots create a rope and mesh net out of inedible materials and then load the netting with iron and dust the ropes with small chunks of iron so that the bugs would follow it down. He wasn’t willing to sacrifice all of his iron in case this didn’t work, so he also had the robots bury the remainder deep under other materials that seemed to taste bad to the bugs. He needed just enough so he could keep them eating while he made sure they were all in the netting.

The rope was long enough that once all the bugs were down in the netting he would be able to communicate with the robot holding the rope. Then it should be good riddance and he could continue on with his repair work.

Once everything was in place he brought the other robots back inside and began moving the net robot towards the bugs and herding the bugs towards the robot. He ended up opening a series of small tunnels for the ceiling bots, since using the normal layout of the ship wasn’t enough.

For a brief moment he thought about letting the rock go so that it would strike the shadow ship, but there was no real point. They other ship was made of similar inedible materials and carried no stores with it. That ship had slowly been cannibalizing itself over the years as it hadn’t been built with a way to gather repair materials.

Eventually the other ship would wear away to nothing and Ship would be free, but that was a long time from now.

Once Ship had confirmed all the bugs were safely on the netting he had the robot release the rope and all was well.


“Well that was… anticlimactic.” Simon said as the Writer finished shooing the bugs off onto the realm of ‘concluded story plots’. “I’m assuming they’ll be a little more interesting in the second draft.”

“That or swapped out for something more malevolent,” the Writer agreed. “But for now, we’re good. Time for the next thing to go wrong!”

“Can it be something non-bug related?” Asked Ship, resigned to his fate.

“We could just skip right to the colony planet,” offered the Muse. “You have a general idea of how that’s going to play out. Better that then having to come up with some other space adventure. At least for now.”

“I vote planet,” said Simon, without hesitation.

“Seconded,” said Cat.

“Good, we’re going then,” said Ship.

“Do I get a vote in this?” The Writer asked, somewhat amused at the mutiny.


And so they made notes about planetfall for the ‘morrow and headed off to bed.


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Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!