I've just returned to work after seven weeks' leave. You know how it is when you make plans for things? I had planned to spend a lot of time with my new grandson, and write another book. Completely finish the book, edits and all, and have it submitted to a publisher by the end of July.
That was the plan.
Yeah. That didn't happen. At all.
I didn't change the plan. Life just happened over the top of it. (See my Life Cycle posts from June).
When I thought all the major dramas had unfolded and settled, I made a new plan. I was going to spend my last week totally immersed in my writing. I was close enough to the end of the book (not the one I originally intended to write) that I could finish it in a week if I worked hard.
This so isn't the year for any of my plans to come to fruition. I spent a good chunk of last week driving and visiting the hospital. Then I was home again on supervision duty to make sure my partner's recovery goes according to plan, and only three days left of my leave. It's not as if watching the patient was an onerous task--everything's fine now--but my head was still in 'heart surgery space' and not at all on my book.
I had a plan for the final weekend:
*Critique six short stories for a writers' group I'm in. The meeting was Sunday so they had to be done Saturday.
*Finish the damned book before Sunday night.
Then I received a message from my daughter. Her son is smiling now and finding all sorts of things funny. Tell me: if you had the opportunity to share in that, wouldn't you drop everything and go and do just that?
*Sigh* The book will be finished. Eventually.
And, just because... here's another excerpt for you.
Heath’s stride faltered when Ardelle lifted her head.
“Zar, we’re were going fast,” she said, her voice whipped away in the wind. The landscape slid by in a rusty blur. She laughed out loud.
Heath flicked a look back at her, grinning. It was the best way to travel. “Enjoying yourself, Princess?”
Ardelle sat up straighter, using her thighs to keep balanced. “This is brilliant!” she called.
Heath chuckled, his broad shoulders rolling as he galloped across the burning earth, the black lumps of sleeping birds flitting past in a kaleidoscope of shadows. “Glad you like it but you’d better lie down again and be quiet.”
Instead of listening to him, Ardelle raised her arms above her head, swinging them out in a wide V. The scorching wind rushed past them, even as her position slowed them. Heath pushed harder, trying to keep their speed. Red gravel and round black rocks flew past beneath them, blurring in the heat and the speed.
“Yah!” she yelled.
Heath’s stride slowed further with her movements. Fuck. She was going to get them killed. “Lay down now,” he growled. “You’ll wake the Norrgel.”
Ardelle’s flopped back to her prone position. “What?”
Heath growled again, his heart stuttering as her movement caused him to knock against a sleeping bird. “Those black rocks around us aren’t rocks.” His speed picked up now their silhouette was once again streamlined.
Ardelle moved so she could see to the front, then moved again to look to the side. If she kept moving, all the corrections he had to make to his stride to keep them balanced would slow them down again. As it was, Heath wasn’t sure they’d make the next caves in time.
Ahead and all around them matt black mounds dotted the landscape, staining the red and ochre earth like pox. Chills skittered down his spine as one of the birds moved, raising its head before settling again.
Ardelle pulled herself tighter to Heath’s silhouette. “Go faster, cat,” she whispered in his ear.
Too late. They were stirring now. All Heath could do was continue. He forced a ripple ran down his spine to ruffle his fur so it lay over her exposed limbs. Ardelle kept her hold steady now but they’d lost too much time. Heath’s gaze rested on each sleeping bird as they ran. Only one had moved. The rest were as still as rocks, but Heath watched them. Once one was awake, they’d all be awake. He still had nightmares of listening to one of the Descendents after they’d been wing-struck. He never wanted to hear that sound again.
The sun crept across the sky, sliding from the zenith. Heath’s breathing was audible now but he hoped he didn’t show any other sign of strain as he galloped across the open ground. The other Mafdeti in his team drew ahead. Even Checa, larger and slower than Heath, was in front of them.
Gravel crunched as Heath’s feet missed the careful placement from earlier in their mad run. The birds began to stir. It might have been a stray breeze rifling the feathers of the birds around them except there was no breeze. The air was hot and heavy and utterly still, but the threads fluttered along the red earth.
“Heath,” Ardelle hissed. She stretched flatter along Heath’s back, her heart pounding against his spine, in time with the rhythm of his gait.
A low growl rumbled through his chest as his muscles stretched and bunched as he ran.
A few steps.
Feathers raised and fluttered.
A few more steps.
A head lifted, glossy onyx eyes blinking slowly in the harsh light. The Norrgel were rising. They were going to die.
E E Montgomery
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