Placeholder (NaNoWriMo Day 2)

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: 2,215
Total Wordcount: 3,137 (includes Title, Chapter Headers, etc.)

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And Then There Was Kidnapping

“It’s Day 2 and I haven’t written anything! We’re so far behind!” The Writer flailed into the nothingness living room and darted for the writing desk. “I can’t believe I slept through Day 1, we’re doomed! DOOMED!

You might have slept through Day 1,” Simon grumped, refusing to get up from his comfy chair. The Muse had shown him the ways of the fanfic and he was busy wandering TV Tropes. “Some of us did productive things while your brain was on hiatus.”

“Wait, really?” The Writer blinked and scanned through the notes. “Your name is Simon Simon… I’m not terribly surprised, actually. But you have a good point here with the opener. Whew! I thought I was going to have to start from scratch.” She summoned her laptop from the mists and cleared enough room on the desk to set it up.

“We’re an oddly effective team this year,” the Muse pointed out from her Stargate themed blanket fort. “I still think you are writing him as cartoonishly Evil, but he’s starting to grow on me.”

“Thanks?” Simon shrugged, confused.

“Anyways, let’s get some warm up Saturday Story Prompts out of the way and we’ll get this story in gear.” The Writer grabbed a pen and got ready to stretch out her imagination. “Be right back!”

There was a poof and the Writer vanished from whence she came.

“Why does she need to do prompt sprints, doesn’t this count?” Simon looked around the proto-story fog in annoyance. “Can’t she just, I don’t know, write this place into a little more solidity?” He focused in on his chair, plumping up the cushions, and reupholstering it in worn leather with brass tack accents. “I know this place isn’t real, but it couldn’t hurt to hammer down the details if we’re going to be here all month.”

“Think of the prompts like stretching. The prompts have to be completely unrelated sentences in different genres and settings that all could start a story. This is going to be more focused, even if it doesn’t seem like it.” The Muse pulled a soda out of her cushions of her chair. “Patience grasshopper, you’ll get used to the waits.”

“I still think this is a horrible idea,” he sighed, and went back to surfing TV Tropes.


It was a pleasant late autumn evening on Simon’s side of the mountain. The fog that normally blanked the valley had rolled away and he could look out across the forests and all the way down to the hints of the river. It had been a long summer and the trees were only just starting to fade into the yellow and oranges. He had a feeling the first cold snap would happen long before they finished.

He was sitting at his writing desk facing a wide double-paned window with an awesome view of the forests below. He’d had the house built so the sunset was off to his left and the sunrise to his right, but never directly in through the window. It had taken some serious arguments with the architect who had wanted the house to blend in seamlessly with the landscape instead of standing kitty-corner along the ridge. But it was Simon’s house and Simon’s money and eventually that had won out over the aesthetics.

The rough outline of Simon’s next self-help book was on the desk, surrounded with bookmarked references and printed out copies of web postings he needed to link to. His drink was slowly warming on the coaster, he hadn’t taken a sip in a while, lost in watching the migrating birds clustering in the trees for the night.

He really ought to be working on the book, but he’d just turned in the final draft to his editor for the last one and he figured he could use some downtime. Every so often he thought that he’d finally run out of things that people wanted to be told how to do… and then his paid idea sniffers would come back with another list of things.

It was easy to write the books. Most of the work was simple culling of various scientific -and unscientific- studies into a roughly cohesive set of data points. Very rarely did he need to write anything beyond the padding needed to turn the raw data into a proper book. It was hardly glamorous work, but it paid well enough that he was here, tucked away in a cabin on the side of the mountain as far from humanity as he could safely get.

There were easier ways to earn a living than parsing through science journals, but this afforded Simon the luxury of avoiding people and he embraced the chance. His brain had grown just a little bit off and he had never grasped the concept of empathy growing up. Other people’s pain and joys were interesting in an abstract sense, but he never felt the impact personally.

It wasn’t he couldn’t recognize that other people were people, it just didn’t matter.Like dogs and cats they fell into the odd twilight where he could care about, but not empathize with their lives. Luckily he was a smart child and learned how to imitate normality exceedingly quickly. If anyone else had thought him anything beyond a slightly reserved personality, they had never said so. He blended in and played his part as long as it was required, but here, alone, he could finally drop that mask.

The concept of emphatic emotional connections was one he’d thought of with some sense of loss, back when he’d considered the fact that he was broken to be important. But over the years he realized it also let him sidestep the emotional devastation he’d seen in others. It might not be the life other people expected, or that his parents had wanted for him, but he was happy.

Simon gave up on working on the book as the sun started to dip below the horizon and got up to get ready for bed. The outline and research could wait a little longer. He had enough books published that they already paid what little bills he had. The cabin was mostly self-sufficient and off the grid, so he had few bills beyond the maintenance on the systems and food. And the real estate taxes, as annoying as those were. He didn’t use the city’s services, he’d even had to sign a waver for the fire and rescue since he was so far off the beaten path. If something went wrong he was on his own and that didn’t bother him.

The sky was clear and cold and the stars were bright and shining through his bedroom window. It was one of the benefits to living away from the civilization, he could actually see what was out there beyond this tiny little speck of a planet. He wondered if other people could see the same sky if they would feel quite so important in the end.


“What they heck was that!” Simon startled out of his chair and looked around, panicked at the sudden influx of story.

“A word sprint,” the Muse shrugged. “It’s a timed event where you write as much as possible, regardless of if it’s any good.” She surfed the archive looking for another synecdochic fanfic. “They happen a lot, you’ll get used to it.”

“I’m not sure I want to do this anymore. That really wasn’t what I was expecting at all,” Simon sat back down in the chair, looking slightly pale. “I thought this was going to be more of a rational, structured thing.”

“This is NaNoWriMo,” the Muse tsked, “that sort of professionalism only comes once December hits.”

“WOOOOOOO! WORDS!” The Writer came bouncing back into existence with a happy crow of victory. “Did you see that? I wrote so much!”

“But that was so, so–” Simon trailed off at a loss for words. “That’s not how you write a story!”

“Well it’s not a story,” sniffed the Writer. “It’s a rough draft. I’ll come back later with the editing chainsaw and turn it into a story. I think it turned out rather well for a draft.”

“Can we at least agree that you’ll give me warning next time?” Simon traded in his interdimensional soda for a stiff drink. “This sort of chaos is not my happy place.” His hands weren’t quite shaking.

“Err, sure?” The Writer glanced over at the clock. “Does this count as warning?”

Simon downed the drink in one gulp and pulled out another. “Sure.”


The first thing he noticed when he woke up was that both the morning sunlight and the birdsong were eerily absent. The second thing was that he was in a large off-white room with no apparent doors and only a large semicircle of a bed that was easily two feet too large for him.

Simon closed his eyes again for a moment, stubbornly crushing the spike of panic and waited until he was sure he was awake before opening his eyes again.

The room was the same.

With a sigh he sat up in the bed, noticing as he did that there was no pillow and that the mattress had an odd resistance to it. He felt almost weightless when holding still, but it was firm to the touch as soon as he exerted any pressure beyond static body-weight.

“Well that’s different.”

He stood up, somewhat pleased to see he was still wearing the same thing he’d gone to bed in. The worn t-shirt and boxer-shorts might not afford the best protection, but it was infinitely better than his normal summer sleepwear. Which was nothing.

He looked around the mostly featureless room for a moment, then walked the parameters, running his fingers along the wall feeling for any hint of a door. When there was none, he went back to the bed and sat down to wait.

Logically something had put him here, so there must be a way in and out. Following that, if whomever it was had made the effort to bring him here alive it could be assumed that they wanted him to survive the experience.

Which meant if there was no door he only had to wait and a door would eventually appear.

In the meantime he tried to calm his thoughts by running through the list of organizations or individuals who he had pissed off recently and extrapolating what he knew about them to the current situation. Sadly none of them fit well with the kidnapping theme and from the feel of the bed and the construction of the room, this took a lot of money or engineering and his enemies had neither.

Well, to be fair, the one self-help guru he’d been in a social media war with had plenty of cash to spare, but zero imagination. This is something he might have done, but he couldn’t think of a motive why.

The room stayed silent and unchanging for longer than he’d expected and eventually boredom got the best of him.

“Hello?” He looked up at the ceiling Although he couldn’t see an obvious cameras, that would be the logical place to put surveillance equipment. “I’m not sure what the plan is here, but I would appreciate some breakfast and possibly an explanation, if you’re so inclined.”


“You really need to work on my speech patterns,” Simon said, less woozy than he had been from the previous sprint. “Right now I don’t have a set voice, it’s a little odd to be swapping back and forth between normal person and stuff British narrator.”

“Yeah, sorry.” The Writer gave him an embarrassed smile. “I’m really bad about that, but trust me, we get a few thousand words in and I’ll have you down pat. The only speaking roles are you and Ship. Unless Cat gets some POV sections.” She paused to ponder, then shook her head. “Right, we’ll worry about that later.”

“He’s really really calm about being abducted,” pointed out the Muse without looking up from her reading. “He has rational reasons for not getting overly upset, but I think it might be better to flesh those out more. We’re not in first person POV, but you can do a closer third.”

“Mmm, true.” The Writer looked back over the scene. “Might try that on the next bit and see how it goes. It’s a little bland.”

“I’d like to think my rational response to the situation is preferable,” Simon was a little annoyed at the tone the conversation had taken. “I don’t understand why you want me to panic.”

“Not panic, per se, just–” The Writer made a indecisive gesture. “You need to be relatable, someone the reader can identify with. If I make your response to everything this uber-logical Vulcan they are going to give up on you.”

“You just need a little more POV in there to point out that you did panic, but that it didn’t last long because you are very good at controlling your emotional response to things.” The Muse added. “We’re still building out your character, it’ll tickle.”

“I suppose I should just be happy we’re on the ship,” he said with a sigh.

“Just wait ’till we do it all again tomorrow!” The Writer cheered.

Simon had another drink.


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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!