Sharptooth: 4

Repeat intro/note: If this isn’t your thing, please come back on 12/1. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Bang out a 50,000 word (shitty) first draft between 11/1 and 11/30. I’m free-writing in Word, copying and pasting here when I get a chunk finished. No editing. There will be typos and inconsistencies. Aiming for young adult genre, with my 18-year-old daughter as my test reader.

No set up, introduction, or summary. Just writing. I’ll add some version of this intro to the top of each post, and I’ll try to keep up with the total word count, for anyone who’s counting (that would be me). And this probably won’t be a daily thing.

And I’ll link the previous entries in this header, if I can remember to do that. Why am I doing this? To see if I can, silly. Why else would I do any of the crazy things I do?

Sharptooth: 1

Sharptooth: 2

Sharptooth: 3

4

“Tell me about Firestarter,” the boy says, watching the flames of the small campfire she made to cook their lunch.

“Firekeeper?”

“Yes! Firekeeper. Tell the story about her.”

“Again?” she says, in a teasing voice. She knows this is his favorite character.

“Again!” he laughs. “The first part, where saves everyone because she is brave.”

“Ah, yes.” She begins:

At the end of the harvest season, when winter was drawing near, Strongarm knew the clan needed better shelter if they were going to survive the winter. As they moved through the forest that summer, they found caves in the rocky hills. The caves were protected from rain and snow, and Strongarm thought they would make a better home than the trees.

The problem was that  animals lived in the caves – cave bears, and hyenas, and, most frightening of all, Sabretooth.

With the weapons they had, their fiercest warriors could fight the cave bear and the hyena. But no one was a match for Sabretooth. He was the fiercest creature of all.

The only thing Sabretooth feared was fire.

Sabretooth guarded his cave night and day. But they had watched him long enough to know that when the seasons changed, Sabretooth would move toward warmth.

So they waited, and they watched, while they slept in the trees.

One day, when the cold was settling down on them, Strongarm and Sharpeyes saw Sabretooth leave his cave and head toward the river. They watched the cave all day, until the sun began to disappear. Still, Sabretooth did not return.

Strongarm told everyone the cave was safe for them to live in now.

So they gathered their belongings and their food, and they moved into to Sabretooth’s cave.

Strongarm told the clan to make a fire in front of the cave opening, to keep the forest beasts away. The fire was big and warm, and they took turns tending to it.

But they were tired from the day’s work and glad to have a safe place for the night, and soon the people were asleep on the rough floor of the cave.

Everyone but Firekeeper.

Firekeeper was the oldest woman in the clan. She stayed beside the fire and kept watch all alone. As she tended the fire through the long night, she heard all sorts of sounds.

Once a big cave bear passed close to the cave, but he sniffed and ran when he saw the fire.

Then a pack of hyenas crept up toward the cave, looking for a safe place to rest. But they, too, ran away when they saw the fire.

The night grew long, and Firekeeper was weary. But she knew that Sabretooth was also in the forest, so she kept the fire burning bright, even when the sky began to turn toward morning.

Firekeeper saw the red edge of dawn above the trees, and her eyes were heavy from the long night’s watch. She heard rustling in the woods and knew she was not alone, so she stayed awake.

And then, through the flames, on the edge of the thicket across from the cave, she saw Sabretooth. Firekeeper was very afraid. But the fire, even after burning all night, was big enough to block the entrance to the cave.

Sabretooth slipped away, into the trees, and the people in the cave were safe.

“Did she live near these woods?” he asks. He rolls over, props his head up, and looks at her.

“No,” she says, stretching the word so she can think about what to say next. “Not these woods, no.”

“Could we go there, could we see where Firekeeper lived? See the caves?”

“No,” she says again, lying down so they are face to face, eyes level. “We can’t visit Firekeeper’s cave, because Firekeeper is a story, not a real person. She is like a painting, or a song. Her story is a way to understand how we came to be the way we are now. It is a kind of truth, but it isn’t a true story.”

He considers this answer, twirling dry grass in his fingers. “I would have liked Firekeeper, if she were a real person,” he says, a little sad.

“Me too,” she says.

While they were resting, clouds returned and the wind changed direction. She wonders if they will make it back to the woods before the rain starts again.

“Time to pack up,” she says. “Help me fold up the blankets.”


Total word count: 5398/50,000 (Yes, I am very far behind.)

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