Placeholder (NaNoWriMo Day 7)

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: 1,214
Total Wordcount: 8,427 (includes Title, Chapter Headers, etc.)

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First Contact

The Writer crept into the living room from the story fog darkness, trying not to catch the attention of any of her fictives. It had been a long day and a long week and she was significantly behind where she was supposed to be in wordcount.

With a sigh she sat down at the writing desk and looked over her notes for the nine thousandth time. Sadly they had not magically transformed into a coherent story in her absence. Either way it was late, she needed to get words on the page and this story needed to move forward.


She set the sprint timer and started writing.


Waiting-by-the-water slept on the floor by where the door to room used to be. He was still furious and he knew if he went back to his own room there was a good chance the ship would lock him in.

He’d been locked in before and the confinement was incredibly boring. The cat knew the whole of the ship by heart and there was nothing really to do, but the ability to pace the ship and patrol the territory was calming. This was his ship, even if it wasn’t, and he would keep his home safe.

Even if it meant killing the other crew.

He could hear muffled noises through the wall and could catch faint echoes of the broadcasts from home he used to rewatched obsessively. Watching them on the tablet wasn’t the same as on a proper display, but it reminded him of home.

Which is why the ship wouldn’t let him view them anymore.

The cat snarled quietly to himself at the remembered slight. True, he had been obsessive and buried deep in those echoes of what he had lost, but they were his. They were all he had left of his world and it frustrated him that the new creature could view something he couldn’t.

But he had them memorized and if he closed his eyes he could see the shows play out in his head. News reports, dramas, there was even on of the stupider sitcoms in there. Something he’d hated when he was at home, but something that was as precious as water here.

He pounded on the wall halfheartedly. There’d been no answer to his efforts, most likely the ship was right and the new creature was harmless. Still. He gave the wall another hard pound and then tucked his head under his arm and went back to sleep. He’d have to give up and leave for food at some point, but a little fasting would do him good.


The Writer sat back, checked word count, and reset the timer with a sigh. It was going to be a longer night than she’d hoped.


Simon had a rough night, between the high stress and the banging on the wall sleep had been hard to come by. But after breakfast and another few hours on the tablet he figured he had enough to at least bring them to a stalemate.

“I need black and white facepaint.” He stood, stretching, and waited for a cubby to open.

There was a long pause.

“Why?” The voice finally asked.

“Because I am going to go out there and I’m going to do what you apparently can’t. But I need to speak it’s language.” Simon crossed his arms. “Facepaint please.”

With a reluctant noise a cubby opened with two jars of paint.

“Try not to get killed.” The voice finally said.


“I have to say I’m a little amazed,” the Muse wandered into the pseudo-living room and collapsed into the comfy chair next to the Writer who had paused to sketch fictives and ship layouts. “Most years you’ve given up by now if things don’t just flow from the start.”

“I’m practicing being stubborn.” The Writer frowned down at her notes. “Although I think I’m stuck again. Working out the motivations for Cat when I don’t have any real backstory for him is harder than I was expecting. I was hoping it would just sort of come to me on the fly, but it looks like I might need to go for a walk and sort him out.”

“Sounds like a plan,” the Muse grabbed her tablet from in-between the cushions and pulled up her fanfic bookmarks. “Y’all have fun, I’ll be here if you need me.”

The Writer rolled her eyes and reset the timer.


Waiting-by-the-water surged backwards as the door suddenly reappeared in the wall and opened. He was halfway into a instinctive swipe with his claws when the vision of the weird alien in front of him finally processed.

Its furless skin was the color of dead grass and it wore fabric coverings, but what caught the cat’s eye were the markings in white and black across the creature’s face. It was a rough approximation of the aggressively-neutral pattern, matched by a better approximated interrogative stance.

Cat cocked his head and rolled onto all fours. The alien was roughly the same height in this pose and he sniffed, reflexively searching for the scents that weren’t there. His own fur had settled from alarmed-aggressive white to just shy of aggressively-neutral and he frantically reviewed the possibly broadcasts the alien had to choose from.

Hah, that’s why the pattern was slightly off. Cat finally recognized the style from one of the overly theatrical dramas. So this was ‘new arrival meeting established host’, he could work with that.

Cat sat back on his haunches and let his patterns fade to unimpressed-neutral.

The alien shifted his weight and swiped hands across his face, adding paint and blurring the markings into a decent attempt at offended-dismissive. It turned slightly so was looking slightly away and the cat nearly fell over laughing.

Ah yes, this should be fun!


“Well at least someone’s enjoying this.” Simon said, wandering in with a cup of coffee in hand.

“Actually I’m starting to have a lot of fun with the communication,” the Writer said leaning back to survey her expression sketches. “Describing the initial attempts at talking is going to be a bit of a pain, but I figure I can rough it out and then just refer to it now and then as we go.”

“I almost hate to ask, but why not just have translation technology and skip over all of this?” Simon sat down on the sofa carefully, then shook his head at himself and summoned a proper coffee table from the mists instead. He set the coffee down on the table and then pulled out a book from between the cushions.

“Where’s the fun in that?” The Muse looked up from her tablet. “The whole premise of Science Fiction is about finding ways to work with the unknown. You throw in a babelfish or a TARDIS and then where’s the challenge in that?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, and I don’t think I want to.” Simon grumpily settled down to read his book. It was one of a pile of tomes on writing that he’d liberated from the interdimensional library. He wasn’t sure if he was going to need to know any of this, but he figured it was best to get some sort of grip on what was happening to him.

After all they were several thousand words behind and Writer didn’t seem that worried…


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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!