Placeholder (NaNoWriMo Day 3)

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: 1,390
Total Wordcount: 4,532 (includes Title, Chapter Headers, etc.)

< FirstBackIndex | Next >


A Meeting of the Minds

“I don’t know what to do next.” The Writer stared at the scene from yesterday and doodled random plot dragons in the edges of the novel.

“We ended with me asking a question,” Simon said, reappearing from the mists. “It would follow that the very next thing that happens would be Ship talking.” He was dragging a rather heavy-looking wooden side table with him and he set it up next to the leather comfy chair with an accomplished grin. “You’ve already described the room and my state of mind, there isn’t anything else to do but move the story forward.”

“Meh, I guess.” The Writer added plot bunny doodles to keep the dragons occupied. There was the smallest hint of movement from the olive green dragon and she wasn’t ready for a proper Writer’s Block yet. “I was just trying to think of a way to make the conversation more exciting.”

“I’d say ask the Muse, but she never came back from her last bathroom break.” Simon eyed the swirling mists, but there was no hint of movement. “But this is NaNo, right? I thought the point was to keep going anyway, even when the inspiration is a bit… missing.”

“Yeah, pretty much.” The Writer frowned and started back into the story.


“I wasn’t expecting you to be this calm.” A voice said from the ceiling and Simon chalked up a small win for guessing the correct direction. “There’s normally a bit of an adjustment period.”

“Do you kidnap a lot of people?” The voice was much more relaxed than Simon had been expecting. There was no hint of grandstanding or gleeful vengeance. There also wasn’t any kind of accent, which meant the speaker had to be from the same area he’d grown up in.

“More than you might imagine.”

“I don’t suppose you’d care to elaborate over breakfast?” It was quite a bit past when he’d normally eat and his stomach was starting to object to the impromptu fast.

In response a small door slid open in the wall and a plate of what appeared to pancakes and fried eggs was revealed. A glass of water sat beside it in the cubbyhole. There was no obvious door on the other side of the cubbyhole that held the food and Simon couldn’t feel any depression where the door had slide up into the wall. It was the same seamless texture as the walls and floor.

Simon took breakfast back to the bed with a thoughtful frown.

“Would you prefer I talk as you eat? The conversation will be distressing to most and I need you to maintain your appetite.” Said the ceiling.

“Then wait please.” There was an oddly silted manner to the voice and Simon took a moment to mull things over as he ate. The food was good, but also slightly off. Much like mass produced cafeteria food, it had the appearance and rough taste of the objects, but lacked the true flavors a proper home cook could bring to the meal. The odd food combined with the odd room had gotten his hackles up. As much as he would have liked to pin this on one of his rivals, everything since waking hinted that such a mundane answer was hardly likely.

Simon gave a short stab at trying to twist this into some odd government conspiracy, but even if they had the money and the technology, he couldn’t see anyone wasting the time on him. Which meant he had no idea what was going on.

Ignoring the cold shivers that ran along his skin at the thought, Simon finished his breakfast and placed the dishes back into the cubbyhole. The door closed with a nearly silent purr of machinery and the wall was as seamless as before.

“If you could sit,” prompted the voice and Simon reluctantly returned to the bed. “As I said before, this conversation has historically been… unpleasant. If you could face the wall please, yes there, thank you.”

The wall suddenly vanished, replaced by a floor to ceiling window into the night sky. Deep rich blacks that he’d only glimpsed in the darkest winter months drew his gaze and countless stars shone bright and strong.

Simon clung to the fact that he’d only yelped a little as he leapt backwards away from the view. The light touches of terror from before were now freezing cold bands that restricted his chest, sending him gulping for air and trying not to scream. Either this was a really really impressive hologram or he’d just been kidnapped by a spaceship.

“You’ve been kidnapped by a spaceship.” said the ceiling voice helpfully. “I’ll give you a minute to adjust.”

Simon just nodded shakily, still plastered to the wall and trying very hard not to lose control of the situation. As if he had any control. A small semi-rational portion of his brain took a moment to really appreciate the view. He’d always loved stargazing and even if the view was projected looking into the expanse filled him with as much joy as it did terror.

But there was a lot of terror.


“Now that’s a proper reaction,” said Ship happily as he bobbed into the proto-living room.

“Abject terror seems a bad way to start a relationship,” Simon growled.

“Well, it’s a great stress test, I guess.” The Writer was frowning at Ship who circled the not-room in cheerful loops. “Still, why are you trying to scare the people you kidnap?”

“I need to know how they react to being scared.” Ship sniffed. “I can’t afford to have them run amok and damage me or the other crew members. Better to start off with a jump scare.”

“So if they respond badly, do you open the window?” Simon asked.

Ship just gave a noncommittal wiggle.

“Wow, okay, that was a little dark.” The Writer was quickly losing control of the fictive, which was slightly earlier in the story than she’d expected. “I know you’re going to be more a pragmatic character, but can we tone it back a little?”

“Why?” Ship hovered a little higher so he was safely out of reach. “These are all expendable passengers to me. He might be a little more important, since I’m down to one crew member, but there are plenty of other carbon-based lifeforms that fit the requirements. I’m just fond of the ones that can talk.”

“Wait, you could have taken a deer and still been okay?” Simon lobbed a pillow from the sofa at Ship who bobbed out of the way. “Why the hell would you do this then? It has to be much harder to keep sentients alive and healthy than stupid animals.”

“It’s well within my capability to do both.” Ship sounded offended. “I prefer company that’s worth the conversation, for obvious reasons. Sentients also tend to live longer. The average lifespan for a human is seventy years. A deer is only twenty.”

“And a tortoise is 250 years.” The Writer pointed out.

“They aren’t mammals. I need a warm-blooded creature of 150-250 pounds, preferably compatible with whatever crew member I already have. There has to be a brain over a certain size, a basic level of electrical activity– but these are all simple things. It takes me longer to find intelligence, thankfully the universe has plenty to chose from.”

“That doesn’t make sense.” The Writer sketched out some quite math. “Either you can move incredibly quickly or you have some sort of remote scouting capabilities. You can’t be finding that many warm-blooded lifeforms around, much less intelligent ones.”

“Precursor aliens?” Simon suggested, “Seed the galaxy and then we’ll have a bunch of things to choose from. Plus we could use that somehow. Make it part of the larger storyline?”

“I’m hardly old enough to be a precursor ship.” Ship said, uncertainly. “Travel will warp time, of course, but I can’t have lost that much time believably. Could I?”

“Now that’s something to think about!” The Writer looked down at the paper, made a few more doodles and then yawned. “But that’s about all I’ve got for tonight. Might not have hit word count, but we came close.”

“And we’ve maybe got a larger plotline,” Simon pointed out.

“Well, we’ve got space travel to work out math for at least.” Ship said grudgingly.

“Just wait ’till tomorrow!”


< FirstBackIndex | Next >

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!

Leave a Reply