Well, this is it…
The first draft…
Oh, who am I kidding, I post my first drafts all the time on Wattpad and I have no problem sharing my dirty work with the world. So here’s how this will work. I’m going to post my TWO first drafts – yes, that’s right, (2) two – because I actually posted my first, first draft really early, then (if you’ve been following my other posts you’ll know this) decided I wasn’t all that into it, and wrote a second story.
Given that I’m posting two stories, I’m going to do a process/structure post separately so this doesn’t get too long.
I’m posting these in order of how I like them since I’m planning to move forward with Story #2.
Story #2 – Aesthetic.
Story #2 – Draft #1
Age group: MG-Adult? I dunno, you tell me.
Word Count: 999
The stars in the sky over the old, abandoned boat twinkled as they spread the latest celestial gossip. Theirs looked like eternal existences when compared to most living creatures, but true objectivity is nearly impossible. Time, it turns out, is a gravitational matter; it relates to each and every thing in the universe in proportion to its individual gravitational pull. As such, gossiping galaxies have much the same perceived life span as a cockroach – though only if you’re experiencing it from their point of view.
Cockroaches, depending on who’s point of view you’re currently inhabiting, also have eternal existences. From humanity’s point of view they all look much the same and in so far as a human is unable to tell one cockroach from another, immortal. The fact that they can be hit, stomped, or attacked by numerous means and still apparently reanimate to drag themselves from the scene, only to come back the next night as good as new, lends substantial weight to this theory. This is, of course, preposterous, but their survival abilities are impressive.
It is said if anything could survive the apocalypse it would be the cockroach. This theory is absolutely correct. Two such survivors are just a couple of a colony of hundreds inhabiting the aforementioned boat. They’re looking for dinner.
“Oy! Bob! Found anything?”
“You mean, have I found anything new?” Bob said.
“No. There’s just this last bit of eyeball hanging by a hair. I still can’t reach it.” Rolf’s voice echoed in the hollow skull. All other edible parts of the food source had been cleaned out long before. The body’s exterior shell, which had once been skin, was dried and hardened in the harsh desert air.
Bob scuttled up the face to the edge of the open socket, antenna twitching back and forth, feeling the opening.
“Should we get a harvesting team out here?” He called.
Rolf scurried up and around the inside of the skull until he was upside down at the top where the hair hung, quite unexpectedly, from the surface, a last bit of what once had been white tissue swung slowly on the tip. It wasn’t very large, but it could feed a family or two for a lifetime. Too many harvest teams were coming up empty recently, and things in the colony were turning ugly.
“Look, Bob, I recon if I use my head to push this part of the hair back and forth, it might swing the food to you, and you could catch it,” Rolf said from above.
“Well…” Bob surveyed his perch on the edge of the orbital socket. It felt a little precarious. “I guess that could work. I could catch it with my mouth, you think?”
“Yes. But Bob, you need to promise me, this doesn’t go into the colony harvest. This is for us – our families – nobody else.”
“Well gosh, Rolf, that doesn’t seem very charitable. What about old Mrs. Dervish over on starboard south? She’s in a hard way, you know.”
“Now Bob,” Rolf twittered, “This is end times here. It’s not like it used to be. Our ancestors had plenty of food, before and after The Time of Fire. The colony thrived easily once it was safe, but we don’t have that luxury ya hear? We’ve got to think about survival.”
Survival. Bob let the word pass through his tiny brain. Rolf had always been the smart one. Always finding him the best bits of food, or doing new things. He liked Rolf for that, but that word pulled at something deep within him at a molecular level.
“Ready?” Rolf called.
“Ready,” Bob said.
The hair began to swing. At first the wrong way but Rolf corrected the direction and the food came closer and closer. Bob missed it as it passed by his mandibles, once, then twice, but on the third time he caught it. The force of the swing threatened to pull Bob off his perch and he nearly let go of the food, antenna zooming wildly around as he tipped forward. Only Rolf’s quick catch saved him from toppling over into the skull. Together they detached the food from the hair and set it down. It was bigger than they thought. Maybe enough to feed four families for a lifetime.
“Good job, Bob,” Rolf said. “That was a close one.”
“Thanks for the help, Rolf. I was sure I’d end up flat on my back at the bottom of that skull, and that would be the end of me.”
“Well, we’ve done it. Let’s get this back to our families before some turd muncher like Francis sees our haul and squeals to everyone else,” Rolf positioned himself on the inside edge of the skull to push the food forward.
Bob was standing funny, like he’d been caught in one of the sticky traps which were still dangerous to young roaches even after all this time. Then all at once he grabbed the food and pushed.
Rolf lost his footing and fell over the edge, landing on his back at the base of the skull. He kicked his six legs wildly, antenna flailing, and tried to right himself, but he was stuck.
“Why, Bob, Why?” He cried from below.
“It’s what you said, Rolf: Survival.” Bob watched him flounder from the edge of the orbital bone.
“This food will feed four generations of my family if preserved right, and I’ve got to think about them if we’re really running out of time. It’s been good knowing ya, Rolf.”
Rolf’s calls of sad betrayal echoed out of the skull, following Bob as he scurried home. They were carried on the dry desert winds up through the atmosphere, where they dissolved into the darkness of an equally unforgiving universe. The stars took no notice, as they twinkled, equally concentrated on their own survival. Their time, they felt, was also running out – which is, perhaps, debatable – but then, it all depends on your perspective.
Story #1 – Aesthetic
Story #1 – Draft #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Age group: Adult
Word count: 2,307
(WARNING: There is swearing in this story.)
The sky changed from black to turquoise as the ship descended through the atmosphere. The beacon’s homing device blinked on the screen. They were near. The ground came into view as they dropped out of the sky, the engines switching to hover-mode resulting in stomach rolling sensation. Max never got used to that change, no matter how many hundreds of times he went through it.
“UGH, I hate that,” Amelia said behind him. “You’d think they would have come up with a softer transition after all this time. I never get used to it.”
“I thought you liked it rough,” grunted Dalton, he looked at her pointedly over his shoulder. “If you wanted a gentle ride, maybe you should go back to mommy and daddy and…”
“Shut-up D-bag,” Amelia spat. Dalton chuckled as slowly he turned back to the display. He might be the best flyer on this side of the Milky Way, but his inability to keep his mouth shut coupled with a volatile temper narrowed his career choices.
“You can take a man out of the Bama, but you’ll never take the Bama out of the man,” Max said. Dalton flicked him off with both hands and did a stomach rolling maneuver using his knees to drive.
“What was that?” Dalton said as the ship righted itself again.
“Just get to the damn beacon, Dalton,” Max whispered. He really wished he hadn’t eaten so recently.
“Aye aye, boss.”
Max and Amelia found themselves flattened to the back of their seats as the ship jumped forward. The beacon was less than five kilometers. Clearly Dalton was in the mood to be a dick. Max would have to go easy with him if they were going to get in and out of this planet without unwanted attention.
Dalton slammed on the breaks and they were thrown forward in their restraints. It took most of Max’s concentration not to lose his lunch as he rebounded. The ship tilted up as the did a slow circle around the location of the beacon.
“Is that a… boat?” Amelia squinted her eyes. The moon was full as it rose over the far mountain range, its light glinted off the parts of the metal hull which hadn’t completely rusted over. Night was descending quickly, but there was enough left for them to just make out the boat’s form without using their ship’s lights.
The boat was tipped to the side, leaning against a mound of sand. What had once been a body of water was just a cracked bed of clay. Since their entry there had been no signs of life, and a quick read of the surrounding area confirmed it.
“No wonder the sky’s so clear,” Amelia said, “the report shows barely any moisture in the area. Whatever water used to be here is long gone, sucked up faster than the boats could get to shore.” Her voice sounded strangely hollow and caught Max’s attention.
“You said ‘sucked up,’ like someone took it all?”
She shrugged, intent on the screens near her seat.
“Hey, Dalton, what’s the name of this planet again?”
Dalton scrolled through the info on his screen, “Tantalus Prime.”
“That name sounds familiar. Was it in the vids or something?”
Dalton scrolled through another screen and shrugged, “Nothing recent, Boss.”
“Hmm, ok, well lets see what that beacon is about and get out before anyone notices us. There’s not an interstellar ban on this planet for no reason. Hatha’s paid us well to grab whatever information is in there – enough for us to retire on once we deliver it.”
Dalton set their ship down gently next to the boat.
“The air reads clear, we won’t need the full suits.”
“Still, better to be safe. This place must have some reason it’s off limits. You don’t just put a planet off limits for shits and giggles,” Max said, pulling his helmet over his dark black hair. He looked good for his age, smuggling tended to have the side effect of premature aging, but so far he’d been successful at plucking out any grey hairs he found. It wouldn’t last, though, and this was his shot to make it to the luxury worlds before he started to noticeably age.
Amelia and Max cautiously walked down the ramp as it descended to the ground. Dalton would keep the lowest level of power on in the ship, just enough to keep scanning for anything, or anyone, uninvited. The stars, moon, and small lights on their helmets and guns gave more than enough light.
Making their way around to the side leaning against the dune, Max realized the boat was much larger than it seemed from the air.
“I hope this thing is easy to find,” he said through his com link, “If it’s somewhere deeper in there, we might need climbing gear and it could take all night.”
“My family had boats like this when I was little,” Amelia said, trudging up the dune in front of him. “I’d guess whatever it is, it’s probably in either the pilot house, or the captain’s cabin.”
“I knew I took you on for a reason,” Max panted, the sand was harder to walk in than it looked.
“You mean, you took me on for a reason other than to warm your bed?” She chuckled.
“Well, I mean, there’s that, but I don’t bring everyone I sleep with on as crew members.”
She laughed, “If you did that you’d be running a cruise ship by now.”
Max scowled at her back as she flung first one leg, then another over the rusty railing. She looked back at him and winked as he worked to get his body over the rails, as he pulled his foot over his boot caught on a jagged edge and he went down, gun clanging loudly on the metal deck. When he got himself upright the world spun for a moment and he had to grab onto the rail to steady himself.
“You ok?” Amelia asked from further up the deck.
“Yeah, I think so, just felt a bit lightheaded. I blame you all talking me into eating lunch earlier. I hate eating before a job. Shouldn’t have done it.”
“Sure, blame it on the food. Maybe you’re just getting old, Boss.” She walked into the cabin and out of sight.
“Not you too!” Max groaned. “Don’t you start calling me boss,” he said as he turned and began to make his way down toward the other end of the deck. He swung his gun around corners, and into any crevice he saw, making sure there wasn’t anything there. Was he sweating more than usual? Must have been climbing the dune, he wasn’t used to sand.
“Max,” Amelia’s voice sounded strained, “The signal isn’t in the pilot house, we’re going to have to go down to the cabins.”
He walked quicker to the other side of the room she had entered. The glass in the windows had all been blown out long before. There was a small ship’s ladder leading down into the boat and he hurried down. Something in her voice propelling him.
He nearly crashed into her at the bottom, she was just out of view from the stair. She was standing looking at something. He peered over her shoulder and saw them. Bodies, still miraculously preserved. If it hadn’t been for the withered features, and gaping holes where their eyes should have been, he would have thought they were alive.
Four men, just sitting around a table, their final moments preserved for eternity in a mummified state.
“Fu….ck,” he whispered, his heart was racing.
“Boss?” Dalton’s voice broke through their coms. “Everything ok down there?”
“Yeah. Just some dead guys playing cards. All good.”
“Wait what?” Dalton asked.
“Don’t worry about it, we’re fine,” Max said.
“Fuck off D-bag,” Amelia hissed, “Have some god-damn decency.”
“Now wait a minute…” Dalton began.
“Cool it – both of you,” Max said. “Lets find the damn thing and get the eff out of here because I don’t want to end up like these guys.”
Amelia seemed rooted to the spot, and he had to push her to get her moving again.
“You’re familiar with this kind of boat, so where’s the Captain’s cabin?” Max asked.
“Should be right down here,” Amelia’s voice was soft and tight as she pushed open a small door that was already ajar.
Max forced his gun through the door and surveyed the small room. There was a small desk with a pile of papers and books on one side, and on the other was a bed. His light bounced back and forth over the bed, taking in the scene inches at a time.
There was another body there. Mummified like the rest. His beard and hair were still curly. In hands he held a gun, which it looked like he’d used. Next to him, in a small built-in alcove, was a box which had a blinking light.
Max quietly reached over the body and grabbed the box. When he stood again the room reeled and he tripped backwards into Amelia’s arms.
“Boss?” She asked.
“I told you not to call me that,” he gasped.
“Why don’t you sit,” she said, helping him to the captain’s chair.
He tried not to look toward the dark corner where the dead captain’s body sat.
“Just rest a moment, while I see what this thing holds,” she said.
Max put his head in his hands and tried to breathe slowly as his heart hammered in his chest. What the hell was wrong with him? Clearly he needed this “retirement” more than he knew.
When he lifted his head again Amelia had the box open, exposing a holo-vid log. They had been popular in his father’s time, during the war. There were museums dedicated to the trials and tribulations recorded on them by those who suffered under the hands of the rebels and traitors across the galaxy. Governments who weren’t interested in human or alien rights, who didn’t want to allow for free trade or travel across their world. Backwards places like the BAMA zone, where Dalton was from, filled with planets who despised alien races, and where an unwary traveler could find themselves working in slave camps if they weren’t careful.
The holo-vid whirred to life and the face of the captain popped into being above it, shifting in the green light of the vid.
“They came three days ago. It was an enormous ship, like something out of a movie. Aliens, though they looked like us from what we could see of them. They came with huge hoses and they sucked up the water into their ship. Reports from the internet say whole oceans have been drained dry. We were in the middle of crossing the narrow sea when they came. There was nowhere to go. They’ve taken everything. Every ounce of water on the planet has been drained by these aliens and nobody seems to know why. Our weapons don’t touch their ships. There is no hope – we will all dye within a week or two – 10 billion people, dead. If anyone finds this, the only identification of the aliens is symbol on their ships.”
A piece of paper came into view with a shakily drawn picture and Max’s heart shuttered in his rib cage as the holo-vid ended. He knew that symbol. It was a C inscribed with an P. The Sigil of his family for generations, Chthonia Plouto – it meant Earthly Riches in the ancient language of his family’s ancestors.
His heart shuddered again and his chest was on fire. He grabbed at Amelia’s hand, and she looked down at him. When had she removed her helmet? There were tears on her face, and the she looked at him with pure loathing as she yanked her hand out of his reach.
“Don’t touch me,” she whispered.
“Amelia, I didn’t…I was just a boy. I didn’t know,” Max struggled for air, what had he done to deserve this?
“Someone had to pay,” she said. “My parents and I survived out of pure luck. They were off planet when the war began. A war started because the republic decided to give people like your father free range to do whatever they wanted to planets like mine. They wanted to teach our government a lesson because our government didn’t want to ship the Earth’s resources all over the galaxy. That’s the name of this place you know, Earth. Not Tantalus Prime, or whatever the Republic wants to call it. Most of the people on earth had no clue we were even a part of a larger galactic accord. Our planet was minding its own business and your father and his government cronies took every bit of water we had. Billions died, every single living thing on the planet. And for what? To get other planets to give up their resources because the luxury planets are too lazy to actually preserve their resources responsibly?”
“I’m sorry,” Max whispered from where he lay crumpled on the ground, “but you’ll never get away with this. Dalton…”
Amelia laughed harshly, “You think Dalton will do something? No, his planet was subjugated by the same ass holes who let disgusting pirates like your father murder a whole planet of life. We’ll take this,” she shut the holo-vid and placed it in her pack. “And maybe, we’ll find a way to get justice.”
Max’s vision was getting dark around the edges as his body struggled to hang onto life.
Amelia stepped out of view, her gun’s light swinging around to blind him until blackness overtook his vision. He could feel his body twitching as his life fled and her voice echoed too loudly in his ears.
“If not justice, I’ll settle for revenge.”
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