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Drabble meme complete! \o/ Now I just need to write that missing scene for Time 3. (Job hunt? What job hunt?)

Meme: 30-Day Original Story Development Challenge
Here is a 30 day original story development challenge. It can be filled by prose or illustration or comic or even just script, whatever works for you and how you’ll be displaying the setting. Feel free to reveal as much or as little as you want.

Day 22 - What animals appear in your setting?

There were a lot of crows in the forest, flying overhead, leapfrogging from tree to tree, sitting on branches and cocking their heads as she walked. She did not pay much attention to them most of the time, focusing her attention on the way ahead and what be hiding there, but she kept an ear open in case they cawed. A few times a crow's call had saved her from a nasty surprise, giving her enough time to flip through the flight or fight options. They were better than dogs, honestly. Tracy tried to imagine her small terrier, Rumple, scuffling among the leaves and yapping excitedly at field mice. He had been a comfort the first few days, back when the two of them had still been in the city, but he had also almost gotten her killed a few times, barking at everything, attracting every kind of infected for yards around and then getting in the way.

No, crows were better. They followed and watched, waiting for her to cross paths with an infected. They were in it for the feasts she left behind, axe-hacked and twitching. The crows that flocked around her were fat, glossy and satisfied. Sometimes she tried to get close to them, holding out choice bits of meat she wouldn't eat. Once or twice one of the birds had hopped and pinned her with its shining black eye and she had been almost close enough to touch it. Its feathers, which looked black and boring at a distance, shimmered in the light and looked temptingly soft.

Walking through the underbrush, her boots slipping on roots and snapping twigs, stray beams slipping through the trees to warm the back of her neck, Tracy was comforted with the knowledge that, if it ever came to her being the one left on the ground, the crows would come for her. She would be taken up to the sky in pieces and fly through the trees, wrapped inside a hundred warm feathered bodies who knew a good deal when they saw it.

Day 23 - A unique place in your setting.

It started like a whisper, the faintest ripple in a vast ocean. But like the first drop of rain in a desert, its mere presence, no matter how small, was cause for alarm. The Host brushed shoulder to shoulder, winges flexing uneasily as the words of power rolled towards them like a war drum, coming closer and beating louder. The stir in the air turned into a howling wind, hungry and searching, wrapping itself around them as it flooded through heaven.

Suddenly there came a booming sound, like thunder or a battering ram, an ancient horn tumpet unfurling its call over them. The echoes of the impact shook through them, breaking over and into the angels like waves on the rocks, wet fingers reaching into every crevasse, hooking into them and their graces, and pulling them back out to the pounding sea.

The words spoke, the gate broke, and the angels rained down from the heavens like comets.

Day 24 - Where did you draw inspiration for the setting/story from?

They say writing is like world-building, adding up the layers and going forwards, laying down foundation, adding decoration, populating it with characters.

Or maybe it is like an oyster making a pearl, starting with a tiny little knugget of sand and wrapping it up, thicker and thicker. Maybe it is like a journey and you break your shoes on a small stretch of path, armed with a tiny little you are here. It all starts with an image, a phrase, a moment in time.

For me, that first step was the image of an angel lying in a burnt-out shell of a room, a man desperately driving away from something, and a little girl's voice saying, "There's an angel dying upstairs." And zombies. Because you've got to have zombies.

I don't know where the man came from, I just wrote a scene of him in his car like I was meeting a stranger, seeing everything he was doing but not knowing why. The angel came from a dream of exactly that, a man lying in a ruined and burnt room, unwounded or dying. The girl just whispered those words to me and set them in stone. The zombies were more a necessary by-product of the apocalypse, tinged with 28 Days Later and Supernatural's "The End" (5x04).

Day 25 - A character's proudest moment.

The first time Agatha hit her target, she whooped so loud it hurt her throat. This was the third afternoon Harper had let the children - Agatha, Pepper and Andrew - practice shooting after days of drilling them in weapon safety and maintenance. Each time, Agatha had barely skimmed her target, the post it was sitting on, or even the general area surrounding it.

But then, just once, everything lined up: her hold on the gun, gentle but firm like it was a live animal on a lead, her breath held tightly in her chest and her arms steady under the weight. The sun was low and golden and it glinted off the rusting can flew through the air like diamonds.

It might have been more luck than skill, but now she knew that it could be done. She could hold onto the memory - the feel of the gun jerking in her hands, the loud bang, the smell, the satisfying ping and the bullet hit the can - and she would strive for it each time she pulled the trigger, the gun heavy and awkward in her small hands. It was a memory strong enough and happy enough to bring forth a Patronus, she felt. Except a gun was no wand and it would not bring forth a noble deer or charming otter. But now she would never again be that little unarmed girl caught in the melee, needing others to fight for her life. She didn't have to feel helpess ever again.

Day 26 - What special talents or abilities does a character have?

Dean was good with weapons. He could assemble a rifle in the dark and shoot down an infected on the run with just one shot. He was just as good with knives, throwing, parrying and thrusting them like it was child's play (which, of course, it had been, for him). He could even excel at archery, if they ever found a crossbow. He always said it was an important skill.

He was even better with his fists. He could beat any man to the ground before they even got started, and if any were fool enough to gang up on him, they would still have a fight on their hands. Once, over drinks, Dominique compared him to Wolverine which brought on a messy discussion over superheroes until Chuck declared the Honey Badger to be Dean's spirit animal because, he said, "When a cobra bites them, they'll eat its face right off." End of argument.

Even his words drew blood. Off on the battlefield, he spoke like a weapon drawn, words sharpened against a stone-hard core, cold and brittle. In the camp, they were steel vices, comanding and confining.

The son of an ex-marine, raised as a hunter, Dean was shooting bull's eyes since he was six and putting down monsters ever since. He was a hunter, a soldier who had somehow found himself to be a leader, although if you asked him, he was just a killer. No frills, no bells, just the plain truth.

Day 27 - An average day to a character.

Andrew was the first child to make it to Camp Chitaqua. They found him hiding in a pharmacy, in the little storage room where they kept all the drugs people had to prove their doctors said they needed. It was a good spot to hide, with heavy doors and locks and those little glass windows bank tellers sat behind. Being the only kid in a camp full of people who had a enough on their hands already just trying to keep it together had been scar and lonely the first few days. Then it had just been boring.

Most of the time he hung out with Chuck, who was too awkward to tell him to go away and anyway was secretly pleased when Andrew started reading his books - tattered and scotch-taped survivors - and latest stories scribbled on mismatching scraps of paper. One day Andrew asked Chuck if he could draw the pentagram and sigils he kept mentioning in his work. Later that evening, sitting bored and alone in a corner of the cafeteria, he started carving out the pattern on the wooden table with one of the camp's dull, kid-friendly knives. He was half-way through, working on a particularly hard curve, when Dean saw him. He was so tall and stern - like Andrew's gym teacher who made them run laps until Frankie bent over and threw up - that Andrew was scared of him. So when Dean drew out a small switchblade from his back pocket, Andrew scuttled back and drew his knees to his chest.

"Easy there, kid," said Dean, flipping the knife around smoothly in his large hand and offering it to Andrew hilt-first. "This'll get the job done better."

When Andrew finally took it, theknife seemed to shrink down to normal size in his small hand. Dean ran a finger along a carved line and tapped the table.

"Keep doing these, don't matter where."

From then on, Andrew's days were still filled with endless hours of waiting, tagging behind people and reading with Chuck, but now he also had a task. He could feel like he was contributing to the camp. Once he got good at carving out the sigils and people got used to seeing him hunched over tables, chairs, posts, anything wood, he started branching out. THomas, who was just as scary as Dean for the two seconds it took him to smile and crack a joke, gave Andrew a small chunk of wood and told him to try his hand at real carving. Andrew did little else now, and by the time more kids started showing up, he was feeling much better about where he had ended up, with friends and a mission.

Day 28 - A character's most embrassing moment.

They were supposed to be working on some science project - Chip could never remember what it had been about, even though he could clearly see their old coffee table full of paper scraps and his dad's desk encyclopaedia. Instead, and in the time-honoured tradition of budding young teens everywhere, left alone with each other and bursting with hormones, he and his study partner were necking on the couch. Brian had been sucking on his neck for what felt like hours and the novelty was starting to wear off along with Chip's skin. Chip pushed him back onto the arm rest and kissed him full on the mouth, letting their hands wander between them.

Over their panted breaths they heard the apartment door swing open. Chip almost kneed Brian in the crotch trying to sit back. Both of them quickly rearranged their limbs and their clothes, pulling down shirts and buckling belts. Just before Chip's father walked into the living room, Brian hastily flattened down their hair while Chip squirmed in his seat, tugging at his jeans.

Chip's father draped his jacket over the bag of a chair and turned to greet the boys. "How's the project going?"

"Great, Dad," said Chip, his voice a touch too high.

His father nodded absently and unbottoned his cuffs. "Good to hear. Brian, you staying for dinner?"

Brian cleared his throat and sat up straighter on the couch. "Uh, no. No sir, thanks. We were, uh, just - "

"Done for the night," said Chip. When the words caught up with him he fought down a blush.

"Alright." Chip's dad loosened his tie and headed towards the stairs. "Wear a polo or something tomorrow, Chip," he said, popping his collar and looking at them over his shoulder.

When his footsteps had gone all the way up the stairs and they heard the door to his bedroom click shut, Chip dragged a hand over the tender skin on his neck, groaned and burrowed his face between his knees. "Fuck," he moaned.

Day 29 - An important thematic element.

An apocalypse is marked, above all, by absence. It is more about what it takes than what it brings, be that fire, flood or any other fashion of ending. It strips the world of what little order it had, empties cities, homes and hearts, leaving silence and gutted buildings behind. Hungry, it takes from everything and everyone.

Sometimes the loss is tangible: a dead lover's clothes in a bag, a keychain bracelet, worn photographs in a wallet. Sometimes it leaves a mark on flesh: parallels scars running down a back, deep new lines on a face. Sometimes it was just the silence of a room and a phantom pain where there used to be a constant companion. The apocalypse leaves love notes wherever it passes, a notch on the bedpost to remind the world of what it has taken. In the end, loss by loss, the notches will cut right though and bring it all down.

Day 30 - A major event in the setting's history.

Agatha huddled under the blankets, her head propped up on the back of the sofa as she looked at the window. The dim golden glow of the candles in Saunders' living room accentuated the darkness around them and make it hard to see the world outside, but the sounds of the storm came through. Rain and hail pelted the glass and the wind rattled the window like a desperate man shaking prison bars. Suddenly the room was lit up by bright white light and Agatha ducked her head down as the sharp crack of thunder pierced the silence of the room. She could feel it tingling all through her body, as if she had been struck by lightning, struck by thunder. Light flickered again and thunder crashed over them. Agatha whimpered.

A small candle bobbed out from the darkness of the kitchen as Saunders walked out with two steaming mugs in one hand. He sat down beside Agatha on the sofa and almost scalded them both with watered-down hot cocoa when Agatha quickly scooted close to his side. "Woah, easy there darling, let me put these down first," he said. Agatha pressed herself against his shoulder and twisted around to look behind them at the window. Saunders set the mugs down and wrapped an arm around her. "Don't worry, sweetheart. Those are good strong windows, and it's only a storm." Saunders squeezed her tight and wondered if even half of that was true.

"What if we get hit?"

"We won't. Come on, have some hot cocoa."

They sipped their drinks in silence, Agatha balancing the mug on the back of the sofa with her cheek pressed up against its hot side as she watched the rain splash against the window and drive down sideways, lit up by flickering lightning. Saunders flipped through an old novel, squinting at the pages in the low light. Suddenly there was a loud clap of thunder, the closest yet, and the walls around them shook. Agatha froze.

"Mister Saunders?" She turned from the window. "There wasn't any lightning," she whispered.

There came another crash overhead and Saunders looked up at the ceiling. Something clutterd upstairs, inside the building.

"Stay here," said Saunders, "and lock the door."

Links of the Day:
Addriene's Fanvid 99 Problems - I knew it was a Supernatural song the second I heard it, so I'm pleased as punch to find a fanvid for it, although the fanvid for it in my head is way more meta.
  • Soulfisting's Macro Summary The End

Other Fandom:
[ profile] cleolinda's What’s that? Oh JUST AN OCTOPUS WALKING ON LAND
Whose Line is it Anyway? Whose Line Online


* Neil Gaiman, Coraline
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