Placeholder (NaNoWriMo Day 9)

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: 1,475
Total Wordcount: 11,904 (includes Title, Chapter Headers, etc.)

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A Third of the Way to Nowhere

“This is starting to pick up steam!” The Writer said happily as she settled into place at the library write-in. “I’m actually looking forward to getting words on paper today.”

“Where are we?” Asked Cat, alarmed at the sudden change of scenery.

“It’s a Write-in,” the Muse said from a beanbag in the corner of the library’s common room. “It’s the exact same thing as the living room, only slightly less misty.” She tucked a hand in-between the folds of reality and pulled out her laptop. “Bonus is that it’s got great wifi.”

“That’s… good?” Cat stalked around the room looking at the whisper of ghosts that were the other NaNoers. “They can’t see us, can they?”

“Nope, all in my head.” The Writer said as she finished setting up. “But we’ve got word sprint incoming, so settle down and get ready for a ride!”


Ship watched the exchange between the two crewmembers with growing alarm. He had been frustrated over Cat’s reaction to the new abductee and with the attitude from the human. He’d almost been hoping the two of them would fight, just to bring the man down a notch, but it looked like that wasn’t happening.

There was nothing verbal going on between the two of them and Ship was pretty sure there were no smells. The best he could do on that was some basic air quality monitoring, which had frustrated him once he learned he needed it to communicate with Cat.

He couldn’t follow the markings that the human was making with the face paints, nor Cat’s reaction. He’d made one abortive attempt to replicate the patterns from the broadcasts with a servobot, but Cat had destroyed it as soon as he’d seen it. The fact that the human hadn’t met the same fate was confusing.

Ship didn’t like to be confused.

There was a flurry of movement, face painting and fur fluctuation and then the human walked up to Cat and punched him in the nose.

It was all downhill after that.


“This is your chance at a peaceful first contact and you end up brawling like a couple of preschoolers.” The Writer looked at her two fictives. “Really?”

“He started it,” Simon objected. “Did you see that pattern? How was I supposed to respond?”

“You wouldn’t be mad if it wasn’t true,” Cat smirked.


“You smug asshole!” Simon snarled as he punched the cat in the nose. “You think you can get away with saying that?!”

The cat froze in startlement for a moment and then pounced him with a growl and the two went rolling around on the floor cussing at each other. Simon had lost the battle of keeping the markings up to speed, but apparently yelling and wrestling was just as translatable.

The cat was yowl-growling back at him, neither one particularly caring what the other one was actually saying, and tried to pin him to the ground. Simon was too nimble and slipped out of his grip, trying (and failing) to get a pin of his own.

“STOP IT!” Yelled the voice from the ceiling, but Simon was lost in the thrill of not-quite-losing and the Cat just flattened its ears and ignored it. This was a claws-in fight and they were both putting in an honest effort into coming out on top.

Another few seconds of battle and there was a sudden loud air horn of a noise that sent both of them scrambling to cover their ears while turning their cursing to the ceiling.

Simon was breathing heavily, but was heartened to see that the cat was doing the same. He would have put a rude stripe of white across his nose, but there was no way he was uncovering his ears.

The cat snarled at the ceiling as the siren continued, but flashed a line of diminishing spots along its side at the human.

Simon kicked him in the thigh and the siren ratched up in decibel level until they we reduced to cowering on the ground, trying to bury their heads in the floor.

Once they looked suitably sorry Ship stopped the noise.


“I can’t decide if it’s nice or disappointing that you haven’t actually killed each other yet.” The Writer growled as a disheveled Cat and Simon walked arm in arm back into the room, and maybe leaning on each other so they could stand. Maybe.

“I have no idea –whew– what you are talking about.” Simon said and collapsed into the couch with a happy huff of breath. He dug out two beers and passed one to Cat who had collapsed next to him. Cat gave the bottle a curious look and then shrugged and popped the top.

“Well, it’s certainly entertaining if nothing else,” said the Muse, forty chapters deep into her new fan fiction addiction. “You were complaining that they were being boring earlier, remember?”

Cat and Simon looked at the Writer.

“Was not,” she objected with a totally innocent look that failed to fool either of her fictives. “Gah, okay, yes I might have mentioned to her that you weren’t the most dynamic of characters, but that was back before November started!”

“You wound me,” Cat said, theatrically offended, with the corresponding markings to indicate immense sorrow. He might possibly also have smelled like damp moss. Possibly.

“You have the weirdest language,” Simon shook his head in admiration.

“Do I get a say?” Asked Ship, zipping in from the mists. “Because I really want to have a say.”

“Look, I’m sorry,” Cat held up his beer and attempted to hide behind it. “I know we’ve been talking for years, but this guy, this guy gets me.” He grinned at Simon. “No my fault you are a creepy dead ship thing that insists on trying to talk to me.”

“I’ve been trying for years.” Said ship. “YEARS.”

“And you are the creepiest thing to ever exist, so to my credit I didn’t flip out and maul you.”

“You can’t hurt me,” sniffed Ship.

“I haven’t really tried,” pointed out Cat. “I know where all of your systems are, how everything goes together. I’ve studied you for years, I know how to take you apart with two claws.”

Ship did its best to glare, but it was still a spaceship and not really built for it.

“Look, can we get back to the story and worry about you dismantling each other later?” The Writer pointed at the clock. “We’ve got another word sprint in two minutes!”

“Fine, fine.” Simon sighed and finished off his beer. “Lay on MacDuff!”


“Are you two quite done?” Snapped the voice from the ceiling in English and then followed by the clipped yowling vocals of the cat.

Simon uncurled slowly, pulling his hands from his ears. He wish he had enough facepaint left to talk to Cat, but it had been smeared all over fur, skin, and clothes. He rolled over on his side to look at Cat, who was laying on his back, his eyes still closed and grimacing.

Simon did his best impersonation of the polite inquisitive grunt he’d heard on the news interview, but he lacked the curling white cheek lines to confirm the right emotional tone. After a moment’s thought he ran fingers down his face in the right pattern, trying to remove the grey goop that was caked on.

The cat opened one eye at the grunt and grinned as he watched Simon try and fake out the markings. It was a decent effort, even if it was a spectacular failure. Cat tried to ignore the ceiling but the ship queried him again and he finally sighed, closed his eyes and answered.

“All fine, leave us be. We meet.” Cat waited for a moment but the voice didn’t continue it’s interrogation and his head hurt from the noise. His fur had faded back to a solid black, with involuntary white conversational lines that bloomed into view and then faded back into darkness.

“Did you require assistance?” The ship finally asked Simon when neither of the two made any move to get up.

“No, just tired.” Simon reluctantly gathered himself to head back to the room and wash off the paint. “We’re fine, I just need to work out a better version of the paint. For now, I just need a nap.” he waved a hand and stood up in a ‘friendly-uninterested’ posture at the cat who rowled tiredly, flashed ‘fond-neutral’ hashmarks and and didn’t move from where it was sprawled.

With a laugh Simon headed back into his room.


“I give up, you two are hopeless.” Said the Writer and abandoned any plot ideas that didn’t include the two becoming Best Buds.

Cat and Simon clinked beer glasses and grinned.

It was going to be a long November.


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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!

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