Although I am not as yet published, having hidden behind editing others work so to avoiding dealing with my own novel editing, I thought it would be prudent to share a sample of my writing. Both of these stories have been written and edited by myself in response to the Coursera creative writing courses I undertook.
*** For this assignment we had to give our character an object they greatly desired, and then give them a disease that would kill them within 24 hours. They then had to choose between the object and an antidote – all in 400 words. ***
Alysia took a deep breath, putting the cramps in her belly down to nerves. It was time. Her days of servicing the sexual desires of repulsive, sweaty men were over. Her wrist would soon adorn the object of her desire—a silver bangle—plain in design, yet it would allow her to pass the barriers of her confinement. She would be free to leave the brothel—free to return to Earth.
A creak disturbed her. She spun around, glaring at the old woman in the doorway. ‘Did you want something, Shonia?’
Shonia gestured to the suitcase on the bed. ‘I don’t know why you bothered. You won’t be leaving.’
‘Odiah has nothing to tempt me with. I’m going home.’
‘Of course you—’
Alysia shoved past her, ignoring the callous laughter. It was no secret that not a single woman had left Odiah’s employ. Rumour said he offered the women a prize they couldn’t refuse. Despite repaying their debt, they continued to serve him, at least until time addled their bodies.
That would not be Alysia’s fate. She yearned for home and had saved hard. Besides, she had been foolish to enter into a bargain with Odiah the first time. Little more than a child, barely surviving on Ruined Earth, she exchanged her freedom for a warm bed and three meals a day. She hadn’t known she would whore to earn them, and on a faraway planet too.
Odiah’s quarters were exquisite but too hot. He pulled the bangle from his pocket. ‘You’re a talented whore, Alysia. Let me make you an—’
‘I’ve more than repaid your kindness.’ She snatched the bangle, turned too quickly and stumbled.
‘You’ve not heard the value of my offer yet.’
Her legs weakened, and she thudded to the floor.
‘Are you unwell, Alysia?’
‘For now, perhaps.’
He placed a vial before her. She whimpered as pain tore through her belly.
‘An antidote.’ He smiled. ‘For the poison you consumed last night.’
Odiah reached for the bangle. She yanked her arm away, gritted her teeth. ‘I’m… going home.’
‘Of course.’ He stepped back, gestured to the door. ‘Enjoy your freedom. You should have a few more hours to live.’
The pain in her belly intensified. With a trembling hand, she removed the bangle, exchanging it for a warm bed and three meals a day—at least until time ravaged her body.
*** Our assignment for this task was to write 1,000 words with ten lines of rising action and incorporating five structural elements: action, background, dialogue, climax, and an ending ***
Harry scrabbled through a tunnel of boulders inch by precious inch. The air was thick with dust and he could scarcely breathe but had to go on. Nearly ten thousand people populated the underground sanctuary and they were relying on him to find a way out. He wasn’t the first to scout but was confident no one had gone further. He hadn’t seen any markers since entering the tunnel. He could have taken a wrong turn of course.
“You haven’t taken a wrong turn,” he said through gritted teeth, spat out a mouthful of dust and gained another inch. There was a single route out of the sanctuary, through a long-forgotten door marked exit, an old word meaning ‘freedom,’ according to Davidson, the leader of the insurgents.
The first part of the journey had been easy. The door had opened onto a wide open tunnel with a spiral staircase. He’d walked until his strength left him, dropping to the stone floor with near-exhaustion.
It was several hours after he’d rested before he reached the wall, a plate of thick metal, once whole, but now buckled and broken. Large rocks protruded through the tears, evidence of Earth’s trauma. He surveyed the area as he ate his last protein bar. The earlier scouts were right. There was no obvious way out, but then he saw it, a narrow space where the rocks didn’t quite reach the ceiling—a space wide enough for a child his size to crawl through.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it was slow-going. His mother would be beside herself with anguish by now, and the Authority must surely have noticed his absence. If he turned back, he was going to be in big trouble.
Harry pushed on. He wriggled into the gap ahead. The ceiling pressed his back, the rocks his underside. If the gap lessened further, he would have to concede defeat.
His head torch flickered. He froze, holding his breath. The spare batteries were in his trouser pocket but he had no way of reaching them. He shuffled forward, jamming his elbow in his haste. Tears sprung and panic took hold. “Please…” he whimpered. “Don’t let me die… not here.” An image of his long-dead father came to mind. What would he think of his snivelling? Harry should have been sitting in the safety of the schoolrooms, worshipping the glory of the Council of Twelve, condemning the dark history of the world above, not trying to reach it.
He took a deep breath, calmed himself, and wrenched his elbow free. It was badly cut and his sobs grew louder. He choked and cried and cursed his ancestors for surviving in the pits of the earth, condemning him to a life of near starvation and despair under the brutal rule of the twelve. They’d killed his father for openly challenging them, and many others besides. Harry tried to follow the rules, but as the son of an insurgent, he suffered regular sessions with the disciplinarian, a brute of a man who enjoyed beating the rebellion out of children.
“Bastard!” Harry said, spitting a mouthful of dust out.
The light in his head torch fluttered and pinged. Harry closed his eyes and continued. There was no way he was going back to a living hell. He’d rather die.
Hours passed. Harry took his time, pushing forward an inch at a time. Finding he could breathe a little easier, and with less pressure on his back and chest, he opened his eyes. In the far distance, a speck of light glistened. Enthusiasm gripped him. He shuffled forward and without light or warning, the ground disappeared. He lost his balance, tumbled out of the tunnel, and landed heavily on a stone floor.
He replaced his batteries and shone it around. He was on another staircase. Rocks littered the tunnel but weren’t as compact as the ones he had crawled over.
Harry broke into a jog. Air tickled his face—fresh, sweet smelling air. Tears dampened his face and he let his tears come. There was no shame in crying for joy. He imagined finding help for his people; doing what his father and the other insurgents couldn’t—freeing them from the Council of Twelve’s control.
Travis approached the figure on the rock warily but shouldered his laser rifle when he realised it was a child. A skinny, filthy, ragged looking boy. He wore plain clothing, not the military regale the general insisted on. A frown deepened Travis’s brow. He reached down, grabbed the boy’s arm and yanked him to his feet. “Trying to run from your duty, are you?”
The boy stared back at him with bleary eyes, his mouth hung open.
Travis marched to the well-trodden mountain path, dragging the boy behind him. “Where’d you think you could run to? Look around,” he said, gesturing to the ocean below. “There’s nowhere else to go. This is it!”
The boy pulled his arm free. He took a step back and started jabbering in a tongue Travis had never heard before. He held up his arm and the boy quietened.
“I don’t know what you’re playing at, boy. I don’t care. You’re the general’s problem, not mine,” he said, pointing to the walled fortress below. The boy followed his gaze, nodded, and then smiled. He uttered another absurd sounding word and raced ahead.
Travis shook his head. Whatever the boy’s game, whether he’d run from the fortress or a hidden dwelling, the general would put a gun in his hand soon enough. He was in desperate need of soldiers.
He sighed heavily. Between the Afflicted—primitive humans with a lust for blood—and the continually rising ocean, their chances of survival were slim. Even if he found every last human on the mountain ranges, they would still number less than five-hundred. Mankind was a dying breed. The general was just too pigheaded to admit it.