I'm finally past the less-interesting boring middle part of the story. It won't always be boring--I'll edit it and increase the tension through there. Today, we're building toward the climax. The gremlins have arrived at the cottage, but Thomas and Andrew need to get them inside or it will have been a wasted effort.
Whistling woke Andrew from a restless nap in front of the fire. He opened his eyes at the call of a voice.
“Hansel! Stop eating it. We’ll never find out way back.”
There was a muffled choking sound. “Look! Gretel, come and look at this!”
Andrew rose and tugged on his clothes. He met Thomas at the door.
“Where did it come from?” Gretel’s voice was filled with awe.
“I don’t know, but it won’t last long.”
“Do you think we should? What if it’s a trap?”
“Who’s trap?” Disdain filled Hansel’s voice. “He has not power over us, not while he’s trapped here by her.”
Within seconds, the sounds of gingerbread breaking off and quiet crunching, and louder moans of delight, filled the darkened room. Thomas reached for the door handle.
“Wait,” Andrew whispered. “You stay here.” Andrew sidled in front of Thomas. “I’m not a wizard, so even if they run this time, they’ll dismiss me.”
Thomas caught his arm. “No. you have no defences against them.”
“Nor do you. Your magic doesn’t work on them.”
“Inside this house, it does,” said Thomas as he opened the door and slipped outside.
“They’re not inside, you idiot,” Andrew said as the door closed in front of him. He rushed to the window and peered through a gap in the curtains. One of the gremlins broke a piece of windowsill of and chomped on it. A look of pure bliss flooded his features. Andrew felt a grim satisfaction wash through him. His gingerbread really was that good.
“Well, well.” Thomas’s dry voice drew Andrew’s attention. Thomas stood a few feet from the door, feet planted firmly on the stone path, arms crossed over his wide chest. “You’re eating my house.”
“It’s gingerbread!” replied Hansel through a mouthful of crumbs.
“Do you like gingerbread so much you’re willing to eat all that stale stuff?”
“Stale?” Gretel paused with a chunk of icing lacework in front of her open mouth.
“Of course. It’s been there for days. The fresh batch is inside. As soon as it’s cool, I’m going to put it on the door and ice it with a scene of forest creatures.” Thomas sounded so reasonable, Andrew almost believed him.
“It’s still warm?” Gretel swung to Hansel. “Hansel, it’s still warm!”
Hansel shoved the last chunk of windowsill into his mouth and darted over to Gretel and Thomas. “Bring it here. We’ll eat it first, then the rest of this.” He swept his arm around, indicating the cottage.
“The trays are too hot. I can’t move them until they cool.” Thomas turned back to the house. As he walked away from them, he said, “Come in and get it if you want it that much.”
Andrew continued watching through the curtain just long enough to see Hansel and Gretel stare at each other, then he rushed to the rope in the corner. He unwound the rope from the hook in the wall and took the weight of the cage Thomas had built in his shoulders and thighs.
Thomas entered the house and walked directly to the Aga. He kept his eyes lowered, not acknowledging Andrew at all.
Andrew leaned back as much as he could, his muscles shaking at the strain. Above the door, the cage swayed. Would the gremlins take the bait? He couldn’t see out the window from where he was. They could have left completely and he and Thomas would have to wait until they came again.
Thomas turned from the Aga, a mug of tea in his hand. He stared steadily at the open doorway. The corner of his mouth tugged in a suppressed smile.
The instalment today is a very short one. I've finished the last run-through with Dragon God and need to do another scene map structural check before the next one, so I'm editing madly and only writing bits.
Let's see where Andrew and Thomas are going with The Gingerbread House.
The pantry remained fully stocked. Andrew was amused to notice that whenever he wanted something, the container of it appeared front and center in the pantry when he opened the door, and the next time he opened it for something different, that item was right in front of him.
“It would be so easy to get used to this,” he said as he brought out a bag of brown sugar.
“Get used to what?” asked Thomas as he cracked eggs into a bowl. A box of eggs sat beside the bowl, a new egg appearing every time he removed one.
“That.” Andrew pointed at the eggs. Everything you want is automatically there when you need it.”
Thomas looked around the kitchen, a confused crease between his brows. “Isn’t it always like that?”
Andrew laughed, shook his head, and continued measuring ingredients.
An hour later, Andrew had fifteen trays of gingerbread slabs in the oven that never seemed to fill up. Whenever he wanted to test a particular tray of gingerbread, it was always the one front and center in the oven. He and Thomas worked solidly until the light began to fade. Andrew gusted a sigh and collapsed into his chair. On the table nearly a hundred trays of gingerbread were stacked with a couple of inches between for air circulation. It still weirded Andrew out to see the trays hovering in the air, but his inner freak had calmed down a lot throughout the course of the day. He regarded the stack critically, tilting his head back to follow the pile of trays up to the ceiling. “That’ll probably be enough to cover the siding on this part of the wall.” He waved his hand in front of him to the section of the wall with a large window in it.
“Is that what you’re going to do? Cover the house?”
“Absolutely. The gremlins will be suspicious if we try to lure them inside, but they won’t be able to resist tasting the gingerbread if it’s outside.”
Worrying about how my character was reacting to every little thing stopped my writing, so I decided to ignore Thomas’s character profile for the time being and just continue writing. I know I need both characters to show more emotion, but that's a difficult thing for me to do at the same time I'm making up a story. I'll come back later and layer the emotion in.
Last week, Andrew and Thomas were on the verge of making a plan to capture the gremlins. Let’s see what they came up with.
Then just as quickly, it died. “There’s no way we’ll be able to do it, whatever you have in mind.”
“You’re very fatalistic, aren’t you?” Andrew settled back in his seat at the table. “I’d have thought with your skill level—”
“They never come into the house, and I can’t go outside while they’re there. Do you think I’m going to stand at the door and hand out cookies like some trick or treat monster?”
Andrew shook his head. “Thomas, Thomas, Thomas. You really need to stop blindly following the rules.” He jumped up and flung open the front door.
A narrow path meandered between two fields of wildflower-dotted grasses. A warm breeze wafted across the landscape, wriggling the grass and flowers and making the leaves in the trees tinkle and jangle. The path petered out between two tall, narrow pines and disappeared into the undergrowth. The mystery of it tugged at Andrew and he had to suppress the urge to skip down the lane and see where it led. Instead he took five large steps outside and turned back to look at the house.
The low-set cottage sat in the small clearing as if it has grown up from the ground. Ivy covered the southern wall except where the windows sat, and stopped neatly at the corner, exposing the pale stone wall across the front. The door was thick wooden planks, secured by leather hinges that looked new. The gutters surrounding the tiled roof was simple and functional but Andrew easily imagined what it would look like in white and green lacework.
“The roof tiles would look amazing with scalloped edges, graduating from pale gray to forest green. I could do olive and blue-gray lacework with white tips, like snow, along the gutters. The walls could have a cream glaze. Rose pink and white windowsills and shutters would add sweetness. I could build a low fence across the front, and cover it in flowers, all the colors of the rainbow.” As he talked his way through his plans, Andrew wandered around the house, mentally estimating measurements and calculating how much gingerbread he’d need. When he stopped, he was back at the front door. Thomas stood in the doorway, waiting for him.
“It’s going to be a big job and take some time, but as long as you have enough ingredients, it’s doable.”
Thomas scowled at him for a few moments before pursing his lips and sighing. “The house responds to my needs. If I need four cups of flour, there’ll be four cups of flour in the bin. If I need ten, that’s how much there’ll be.”
Andrew grinned. The quicker they got started, the quicker he would get out of here and be able to buy his bakery. He rubbed his hands together. “Let’s get started.”
E E Montgomery
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