Weekly Roundup: December 27, 2013

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            I am so glad I have a couple of practice weeks, and the goals I have set don’t begin until after January 4th(January 5th is Sunday, the first day of the week).  Last week, I surpassed 12,000 words of fiction for the week.  This week, I was lucky to reach 4,000 words, and on three different stories.  Christmas, you know; a reasonable excuse – though admittedly an excuse, not a reason.  I guess I have to be prepared for such weeks.  Sunday the 29th I begin with a clean slate, and in case you have forgotten, I am aiming at 2,000 words per day or roughly 10,000 to 12,000 words per week.  So we will see.

            This week I added about 1000 words to my MIB story, 2000 words to Avalon, episode 3.5, and about 1000 words to The Golden Door, a middle grade book that is long overdue to be done.  Avalon, Season Three is something I want to get finished so I can start posting the series in the new year.  Unfortunately, I got nothing done on Forever: On the Road, a continuation of the wanderings of the Storyteller through the Second Heavens, subtitled, “Anatomy of a Storyteller.”  It imitates an exaggerated, third person memoir with all the names and dates and exact places hidden to protect the innocent, if they exist.

            The Golden Door is a magical story for middle grade reading.  Follow: 

            Mom said the big, inexplicable golden door showed up in the middle of the living room the same time Dad mysteriously vanished from his sick bed.  The golden door may be the family’s only hope of finding their Dad, but after a week the unmovable door remained locked.  Now starting summer vacation, the young people have chosen to ignore it.  Until David finds it open.  There is another world through there.

            The following bit sets the story of The Golden Door in motion.  It is a bit over 1500 words.  I hope you enjoy it

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          David paused at the door to his parent’s room.  The bed was empty and made.  Mama said it was the strangest thing when Dad disappeared.  One minute Dad was there, and the next he vanished, like into thin air.  “Like he went invisible?”  David had asked.  Mama could not answer because her back was turned at the time.  She did not actually see him disappear.  She heard scampering like little feet, but then he was gone and all she could do was cry.  In fact, that was about all she could do for the first few days, that and stare at the golden door in the living room which showed up at the same time.

          David turned the corner to the living room – just a step away in their run-down ranch house.  He looked at the golden door, solid gold in a silver frame.  It reached to the ceiling, and stood in the middle of the room with no visible support of any kind.  Chris said it was only a solid gold slab with a handle and ignored it.  David wondered how it stayed upright.  He imagined a good knock would send it falling flat-side to the floor, and what a terrific crash that would be! 

          A scratching sound came from his parent’s room.  James heard something when they got off the school bus for the last time that year.  David turned to Doritos and chocolate and left the scratching sound to his younger brother James.  Chris said he checked when he got home.  He thought Mama went out and accidentally shut Seabass the cat into the windowless, walk-in closet; but when he looked, the closet was empty and Seabass was asleep on Dad’s pillow.  The closet was empty when James looked as well, and no one could figure out how that stuffy walk-in closet could have a breeze to blow coat buttons and zippers and empty hangers against the wall.

          “Mama would never allow the clothes to be hung in a way where they might scratch the paint,” David pointed out.  The boys left the closet with yet another unsolved mystery, but this time David heard the scratching with his own ears.  Since James was busy, and Chris wouldn’t let him use the game stuff, and Beth knew nothing about the scratching in the closet, that left David to try the door.  He hesitated at the handle.  David was not the bravest twelve-year-old, but he thought that maybe this once he might look.  Besides, Seabass the cat was no longer on the bed, though how the cat might have shut itself into the closet was beyond him.

          He opened the door quickly.  The late afternoon sun shot into the space, and he called the cat, but nothing happened.  He did not look any further.  He was afraid to look too close, so he shut the closet door again and returned to the living room where he sat on the couch and stared at the golden door for a long time.

          Seabass came to sit beside him.  Catbird, the big golden retriever yawned and got up from where he had slept against the sliding doors to the back yard.  That spot was no longer attractive once the sun dipped behind the trees and cast the whole back side of the house in shadow.

          David petted Catbird’s contented golden head with one hand while his other hand stroked Seabass’ soft fur.  They stayed that way for a time, until David abruptly stood.  Both animals looked up, startled by the sudden movement and sudden loss of attention.  David clenched his teeth.   The fact that the door had been locked all week did not matter, except in the back of David’s mind where he hoped the door was still locked.

          “Ga!”  It was unlocked.  David peeked and closed the door again with another “Ga!” significantly louder than the first.

          James heard.  He was finished with his letter writing and decided he better find out what Davey was all stirred up about.  He went next door and tapped Chris on the shoulder.  Chris took a couple of taps before he looked up and lowered his headphones.  A piece of sandwich dangled from his mouth.  He honestly wasn’t listening.

          “Come on,” James said.  “Come on.”  He had to say it twice before Chris got up.  Perhaps Chris was still not paying attention, but at least his feet were moving.  Half way to the living room, they heard it again.  “Gaaa!”  It was deliberately shouted down the hallway.

          “The call of the excited Davey.”  James spoke under his breath as they arrived and David shouted something at his brothers that they could all understand.  “It’s unlocked!”

          Chris immediately turned to get Beth and almost bumped into her as she came barreling out of her room.

          “I heard,” Beth said .  “What’s in there?” 

          Chris shrugged.

          “I looked,” David grinned and his eyes were as wide open as they could be.

          “What did you see?”  Beth was miffed that she had to ask twice.

          “Gaa!”  James answered for his brother.  He shrugged as if to say, “What else?”

          Beth looked perturbed, but David giggled.  “Gaa!”  He nodded in agreement with James. He was still grinning as he pointed at the door.

          Beth shoved Chris forward.  Chris put on the brakes.  While they stared each other down, James stepped up and looked for himself.  He opened the door a mere crack.  “He’s right.  It’s Gaa,”

          Beth frowned, swung the door wide open and almost said “Gaa!” herself.

          Green grass stretched out before them in a world that was bright with late afternoon sunshine.  They heard the faint roll of the sea somewhere, but they could not see it through the door.  They smelled the fresh air and the aroma of growing grain which they could barely make out off to their right.  They felt a touch of the cool breeze that wafted through the meadow on a lazy afternoon in late May.  The grass looked freshly cut, or grazed.  Beth judged it was grazed from the dress of the two people who stood some hundred yards off down by the grain.  It was hard to tell exactly because those people had their backs to the door, but they looked medieval in dress and the grain looked like early grain, barely up to their knees after an April planting.

          “Creepy,” Chris breathed.

          “Cool!”  David yelled.  To be sure, yelling was David’s normal volume.  “Look at the castle.”  It was up on a hill, well beyond the people.  There were more towers and spires than any of them could count including some that reached right up into the clouds.  The castle walls looked formidable enough to withstand any army foolish enough to assault them.  A clear stream came from somewhere inside the castle grounds and wound lazily down the hillside, around the occasional clump of trees, until it reached the meadow.  By then it was a very small river which found the sea somewhere behind them.  Beth looked behind, but all she could see was the kitchen.

          The scratching came again, and this time it was definite and pronounced.

          “Did you guys leave Seabass trapped in Mom and Dad’s closet all afternoon?”   Some scorn entered into Beth’s voice, but before the boys could answer, she stepped around the corner.  Chris shook his head.  David pointed, but Seabass was gone from the couch. 

          They found the cat under the couch, shivering and afraid.  With James’ help, David got the cat out and then held the beast securely in his arms as overweight, gregarious, love everyone Catbird, the golden retriever began to growl.  Beth screamed and the boys heard a tremendous crash in their parent’s room.  Beth made it to the bedroom door, slammed it shut, and while she held the door knob she poked her head around the corner to the living room. 

          “Run!” 

          The boys just stood there.

          Catbird began to dance and bark his head off at whatever was behind the door.  Seabass tried to wriggle free to follow Beth’s instructions, but David held the cat tight.  Chris stared with his mouth open.  James had the good sense to step through the door and on to that green meadow.  That movement broke the spell; that and the sudden crash against the bedroom door from the inside which almost made Beth lose her grip and which was punctuated by a loud crack.  The wood door was ready to give way.

          Chris grabbed David to keep him from running down the front hall and out the front door.  He shoved David after James.  Then he grabbed Catbird by the collar, and carefully, because the dog was agitated beyond belief.  He nodded to Beth as he dragged the dog toward the golden door, and only paused when he got to the place where the door and rug met.

          “Come on!”  Chris screamed at his sister and went through, even as there was a second crash against the bedroom door. 

          “There’s more than one!” Beth screamed back.

          “Hurry!”  The golden door was closing of its’ own volition.  A third crash, and the bedroom door came to pieces, but it held together in sharp and ragged edges long enough to keep back whatever growling, snarling, roaring beasts were trying to get at Beth.  Beth managed a good scream as she ran and dove through the doorway.  They heard the roar of the beast echo in the house before the golden door slammed shut and they were no longer in the world.

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