There comes a point in every NaNo novel where it becomes extraordinarily difficult to press on. This point, for me, usually comes about mid-way through the novel, when things are starting to get really serious. I find this part of the story difficult to press through with any kind of speed because I catch myself over-thinking every sentence, wondering how things are going to turn out. I’ve mentioned before that I rarely ever plan out a novel; this is the down-side of that habit.
So at about this time every NaNo, I find myself leaving the main flow of the story to write whatever random scenes and ideas I might have floating around in my head, because that’s how you get your word count in when you have no idea where the story is going.
The scene I’m going to share today is one of those such scenes. My main story follows young adult Clover from a first-person standpoint, but I decided to write a little back-story scene of her as a child, and from a third-person standpoint. I think it turned out fairly well. Enjoy!
It was a bright, beautiful, sunny morning. Clover woke up in her cozy bed, under her pretty princess blankets, and stretched. She snatched up her stuffed kitty – who was named Kitty – and grinned in the way that only a five-year-old can grin. It was time to start the day!
She hoped out of bed and ran to the kitchen, hoping for pancakes but willing to settle for some of that cereal with marshmallows in it. She was doubly disappointed because there were no pancakes being made, and mama wasn’t in the kitchen to help her get some cereal. Neither was papa. There was no sign at all that anyone had had breakfast yet. Papa’s coffee pot was full of new coffee – full to the top, in fact, proving that no one had drunk any yet.
With a frown on her innocent little face, Clover went in search of her mama, her tummy rumbling for some marshmallows. “Mama?” she called. “Papa? Where are you? I’m hungy!”
She found them in the living room, huddled on the couch, clutching each others’ hands while they stared at the TV. Clover was young, but she wasn’t completely ignorant. She could see that her parents looked scared. “What’s wrong mama?” she asked. “What’s wrong papa?” For a moment neither of them answered, but then mama’s eyes wandered and she seemed to notice the child. She took one of her hands away from papa’s and reached out to the child. She didn’t say anything, but she waved her hand as though to say, “Come here, sweetie.”
Clover frowned and ran into her mother’s arms, still clinging to Kitty. Mama lifted the child up onto her lap and Clover snuggled between her two parents. She was still hungry – her tummy told her so – but she had a feeling that she should be quiet for a few minutes. Mama and papa seemed pretty upset about something.
It was only then that the little child finally looked at the TV. What she saw was strange and confusing to her. At first she couldn’t even figure out what it was, but there was a lady on the TV talking about what was happening, so Clover struggled to understand. It seemed that they were showing a picture of the sky, but up in the air, blocking out some of the sun, was a huge black…Clover didn’t know what, and the news lady didn’t seem to either. They were calling it an “anomaly”, but to Clover it looked like an enormous black disk just hanging in the air. The child fancied herself that it was a portal to another world and started imagining all the wonderful things that might be on the other side of it. She thought of dragons and unicorns, and whole herds of cute little kitties that never grew up and just stayed small and cute forever. She thought of fields of wildflowers and huge forests full of super friendly woodland animals. She imagined herself going there and becoming the princess of the land, and all would love her and bring her presents and toys and pretty dresses.
Clover’s daydream was interrupted when mama suddenly squeezed her a little harder. Something different was happening on the TV screen. There was a special helicopter getting ready to take off; it had been modified with a strange platform that extended ten feet in either direction away from the doors. Three men were climbing into the helicopter – a pilot and two others with important-looking uniforms on. Now the helicopter was taking off, and everyone was watching it very carefully. Clover wondered what was so interesting about the helicopter. She thought it looked pretty cool, but it was just flying straight up, after all.
Then the helicopter approached the black disk, and Clover thought she understood why everyone was so interested now. Maybe the helicopter was going to go through the portal? Maybe they would bring back all the cute animals and magical creatures that Clover had dreamed of. Suddenly she was very excited to see what was going to happen.
But the helicopter didn’t go through the portal; it stopped as close to it as it could get, and then the two men who weren’t the pilot began crawling out onto the special platform. Clover thought that they must be very scared to be up so high with no handle or anything to hang onto, but the she saw that they had ropes tied to their waists that were attached to the helicopter and she thought how fun it might be to jump and just hang in the air while the helicopter flew around. While she was thinking about how cool that would be, one of the men reached up and carefully pressed his hand to the black disk in the air.
Clover wasn’t sure exactly what happened because it happened really fast. There was a strange flash on the screen, like someone had shined a flashlight at the camera, and then for a second the picture went really fuzzy. When it came back there were people screaming. The men who had touched the “anomaly” had gone flying from their platform, and their ropes had snapped. Somebody shouted something that sounded like, “Dear god!” and then Clover couldn’t see anything because mama’s hand was over her eyes. She struggled and complained until she managed to wiggle out from under her mother’s fingers and glared up at the woman like it had been some terrible discrimination. She forgot what she was going to say in her annoyance when she saw the look on mama’s face. She looked completely horrified. Clover had never seen that kind of look on mama’s face before. “Mama?” she whispered. “Are you okay?” When she didn’t get an answer she turned back to look at the TV screen. There was still a lot of screaming going on, and the picture was jumping around a bit, but the cameraman had focused back on the sky, and what was happening in it was terribly scary. The black disk wasn’t a disk anymore. It was a monster. It was wiggling and stretching, and moving all over the place, and wherever the broadcast was taking place the sky was getting darker and darker. Soon the camera kicked into night mode because there was no sunlight left.
Clover reached up and tugged on a strand of mama’s hair. “Mama? Papa?” she whispered. “What’s happening? Where did the sky go?”
The people on the screen were screaming and running and panicking, while the news lady tried to yell a recap of what had just happened to the camera.
“What’s happening?” Clover shouted. She was scared, and more than a little angry at having been ignored. This time mama finally answered: “I don’t know, sweetheart. I just don’t know.” That only scared Clover more.
And then she had a weird feeling. That happens with children sometimes, you may have noticed yourself. Sometimes children seem to pick up on things that adults don’t. And this was one of those moments for Clover. She suddenly felt that something was very wrong. She wiggled out of mama’s arms, dropped to the floor, and took off at a run. Mama yelled after her, and then papa, but she kept running until she was at the front door. It was locked, but she knew how the lock worked, and before her parents could catch up to her she’d pulled the door open and run outside onto the front porch.
When mama and papa appeared behind her they moved to grab her and take her back inside, but instead they stopped and stared in horror along with their daughter.
The inky black mass in the sky was coming toward them. It had left wherever it had started on that news broadcast, and it was stretching across the sky with immense speed. As the family of three stood and stared, unable to move or speak, the black anomaly stretched right across the Canadian sky, blocking out the beautiful blue sky and the bright yellow sun.
And Clover forgot about dragons and unicorns, about cute little kittens and becoming a pretty princess. Because that was the last time that innocent little girl would ever see the sky.