Nan-oh-noooo

Kris here,

November’s come and gone and I just wasn’t good enough to join Tina’s book club this time around. I pulled up about 35,000 words for November averaging a bit over 1000 each day – not bad, but some of the other writers out there were leaving me in the dust! I didn’t expect I’d hit the full 50k mark from the start, so making it 2/3 of the way is alright by me for now.

One important lesson I learned last month was just how many things the world could throw at you when you’re trying to get some danged work done around here. More importantly, I have 3 acts written down for my story, and in 35,000 words I’m barely halfway through the first act! The small half that is. My primary concern is that my verbosity is getting the better of me, and my main character may not need to adverb everything he does. On the other hand, shut up he’s my main character. Goddangit if I want him to thirstily gulp his refreshing spring water in order to blanket his fatigued body in the relaxing, refreshing shade of the quiet bungalow then that’s just what he’ll do.

Yeah so as you see, I have a few days…years? Worth of editing to do. It’s fine, I’ll do it all later, I just need to get everything laid out now so I can rewrite it 11 times before tricking someone I’m not married to to read it. While I’m off doing that, here’s another quick thing I wrote for my adorable wife for Christmas!

::Strangers at Dusk::

A solitary stranger rode into town on a blustery day. Snow driving itself into piles against the empty wooden jailhouse, the clanging of spurs echoed round the ghost town. He hoisted himself out of the saddle, bracing himself against the impressive antlers on this enormous buck. Floorboards creaked and groaned at his landing, glass rattling in its loose enclosure.

“I reckon I come to the right place.”

He caught sight of a few folk peeking through windows and he smiled leisurely at their panic behind the blinds. “Good.” 

Black, soft boots left no prints as he smashed the door to the jail. ‘That’s no good at all.’ Furrowed brows drew together as he casually observed the small, empty cells and grunted. Sliding his red vest aside, the figure loosed his six shooters in their holsters.

“Whoa boy. You wait here, this is like to be dangerous.” He steadied his steed with a firm touch on its glossy nose and moved ahead. He heard shouts across town from the iron mine that was these peoples’ lifeblood. 

That was where he would find his prey. 

Itching for action, the man kept his hands at the ready on his stroll through town. His massive beard catching thousands of snowflakes as his reached around and brought his rifle to the ready. Crunching snow beneath his boots, he finally came to the end of the road. 

A fierce bald man with a scraggly beard waved a pickaxe threateningly at a small pair cowering before him in the snow and demanded they open the bank.

“But sir, we have no banks. We work for the old lord in the castle!”

Biting down on the pipe between his teeth, the massive gunslinger closed the distance to the grizzled old bandit’s back and swung his rifle like a club. Crack! The old miner rolled down the hill to the mouth of the cavernous mining tunnel. “Ya ain’t good enough for bullets.”

Whirling to face the assailant, an angry prospector lit a stick of dynamite quickly and hurled it up the hill. “These people belong to me now. It’s time for you to die, fool!”

Seconds later, thunder rang through the valley. Chapped lips blew the smoking rifle barrel as the old prospector watched his dynamite fall uselessly to the ground.

“I’m afraid you’ve worn out your welcome, friend. I aim to take you down.” Another bullet loaded into the rifle as his voice reverberated through town like an earthquake. 

A roar behind him drew his gaze suddenly. The earth shook with every giant step. Dazzlingly white fur reflected the sunlight as the snow monster plowed through the pair of elves on the ground, hurling them across the street.

“Come on then, you varmant”

Widening his stance and training the sights on the enraged beast, the lone man set his rifle against his shoulder and waited.

Closer, the monster rampaged, grabbing up a dropped hatchet and flinging it at his oppenent – only to have it blasted to the side with thunderous retort.

The gunman quickly slid a large caliber round into the barrel of his Winchester with the monster bearing down on him. 

Planting the gun between him and the beast, he pulled the trigger as the monster made to leap over him with a deafening screech. The creature’s new hole and the blood staining his red suit gave testament to its pain, and proved the hunters’ wrath against the monsters’ body. It flew at him again in a frenzy, ripping the rifle away from him. 

The old man took a solid hit to the jaw. Catching the monsters’ next swing, he used the momentum to launch his massive body into the air and delivered a stunning kick to the side of its furry head. The monster howled and clamped its teeth loudly all about as if to bite him in two. Shouldering it violently, the old man gave it a heavy round of justice to the stomache before finally hurling it at the dastardly prospector below.

At the sight of his two henchmen defeated so easily, the villain moved to flee to the labyrinth inside the mine when a resounding retort of gunfire stopped him short. 

This bullet had singed his moustache clean off, infuriating the bandit. Scowling, he turned to the lawman. 

“Your aim is slipping, old man.” His eyes darted to and fro, searching for a weapon against his longtime nemesis.

“It looks like we have ourselves a problem, here. A yellow, snively coward without a gun stands before me begging to die. But no weapon in sight?” 

Drawing a peacekeeper from his belt, he shined it against the white fur trim on his coat and threw it to the ground in front of his opponent.
“Alright scum. Draw.”

Both men twitched at the trigger. Greasy, unkempt hair topping a mug who’d never known shame stared into the abyss that was the other’s face. Twinkling eyes set under a red and white fur hat, promising him an eternal reward for blinking first.

Lightning struck the old church steeple on the hill with an explosion of thunder bathing the two men in destruction.

When the light dimmed, only one man remained.

Spurs jingling against his boots, the big man sidled over and retrieved his favorite gun. Tipping his furred cap at the terrified townspeople looking out at him, he wandered back to his partner and pulled himself to the saddle once more. “Alright Rudolph, let’s get a move on boy.” The two left as quietly as they came, a wake of dead bandits at their backs.

“Merry Christmas to all, and don’t break the law.”

Kris writes a Christmas story. Well..

Let’s all get into the holiday spirits. Haha, spirits.

Kris here,

Let me tell you, Tina loves to celebrate holidays something fierce, and has ever since we met. I’m afraid my apathy and general disgruntlement regarding holidays might wear off on her eventually though and that would be super sad, so I’ve taken this year to start my holiday spiritualization quest. To begin, I’ve written a silly short story about Christmas eve. More specifically, a story to tell my child to make sure he never tries to sneak into his presents early ever.

Let’s call it “Peeking at Presents”

***

Blanketed in darkness, Mortimer began his nimble descent. His ninja-like reflexes served him well as he rolled off the top bunk, landing in a crouch with a soft thump in the night. Quickly surveying his surroundings, he was relieved he hadn’t been discovered. His room was exactly the same as several seconds earlier.

Whisking himself away into the night, Mort latched onto the doorknob and silently slipped into the dark hallway. He rolled out of his door to the pitch-dark cavern beyond.

Sliding along with his fingertips brushing the rough paint, he hit his first landmark. The bathroom door. Ever so slowly, he slid his toes against the rough carpet until he felt the cool, glossy finish of the dining room.

Suddenly he froze. Did someone whisper his name? A chill wind crept across the back of his neck. Maybe someone forgot to shut a window. He couldn’t leave any loose ends behind him though, that could only spell his doom.

Changing course, he tiptoed to his parents’ room in the hallway adjacent to the one he’d just left. Cautiously groping the still air, he found the door and crouched low to listen.

Strange, it was a lot darker than yesterday when he snuck out to acquire the gingerbread cookies.

Ah, there’s the culprit.

None of the clocks in the kitchen were on. The snow must have killed the power again. In that case, he could afford to hurry. It was too dark for anyone to see him sneaking around. Plus it seemed like it was going to get much colder. After some reconnaissance, he could retreat to the safety of his favorite quilt. He confirmed the whispering in the vicinity of his parents’ room, and it was time to strike.

Darting up off the ground, he snuck back the way he’d come. Nearly falling headlong over a forgotten chair, he skirted as far around the table as he dared until he bumped into the door joining the dining room to the kitchen. Maneuvering until he could just make out the metallic smell of the door handle, he lowered the latch to the door carefully. An icy burst of air bumped the door into his nose, setting his heart aquiver.

Blinking in a daze, he let his ears adjust in the darkness. Still with the whispering! Was he hearing things? It sounded the same as before, but he could almost make out the words this time. Was that his name? Why were his parents so loud, or was that them? Maybe it was a living room window open and there were-

Gasp!

What if robbers were trying to get in! Mort slunk to the floor with narrowed eyes.

Nobody was getting into this house on his watch.

Stalking into the living room with his arms at the ready, he crept into the middle of the room to pinpoint the direction of the whispering.

Mort almost cried out in pain then, as the Christmas tree flared up in all it’s multicolored glory. He blinked away the tears from being blinded and dove under an end table to assess the situation. The whispering had silenced itself in the glow of the Christmas lights. Are the lights on a timer? Clever mom and dad, had they minimized the lighting to deter him from this mission? It must be Christmas then, they rigged the tree to turn on at midnight!

Or was it motion activated? A trap? His parents were worthy adversaries indeed. After several minutes though, it was clear nobody was coming. What good was a trap if you fell asleep guarding it, sheesh.

Mort took a quick inventory of the windows, confirmed they were all closed and locked, and leaped silently to his quarry. Eyes all a sparkle, he marveled at the mountain of colorfully wrapped packages in front of him.

“Wooow.” Whispering in glee, he quickly took inventory and separated the gifts labeled for him. Ugh, why did Marina have so many? She already had about a thousand sippy cups and stuffed animals, how many more could one girl use? He shuffled hers behind all the others and grabbed a few of his more promising looking ones. Giving a last long look and listen to make sure he was alone, Mort carefully, silently peeled back the sticky tape sealing his treasure.

There was a painting in the first package. Cool, a painting! Turning it so the tree lit it up, he was. Well, confused. It looked like someone had thrown a bucket of red paint at the canvas and then scratched out the silhouette of a person, just black ink on their fingernails. At least, he thought it was a person. There were no real defining traits except holes where the eyes would be, the vibrant red bled through and looked right through him no matter which direction he pointed the picture. Shuddering, he shoved the canvas back into its wrapping and tossed it to the back of the pile.

He grabbed a heftier package then, one with more bulk. He rocked it back and forth and a faint twinkling sang out into the night. The boy tapped his lip in thought for a few moments before carefully revealing this one too. Inside was a magic question ball. “Well, at least it isn’t socks.” He whispered to himself.

Whipping his head around at the sudden sound of hushed laughter, his eyes swept the area clean.

“Hello”

He waited a minute after whispering to the empty living room. Must be hearing things. He shook the ball in his hand without much thought, alarmed to see a picture of himself smiling inside.

“What the?”

He shook it a few more times: Him smiling but with pointed teeth. Him cowering in fear. Him staring angrily straight at his real self. Recalling Halloween when he’d asked for some scary stories for Christmas, he silently chastised his parents. This was a little too far guys. Sliding the ball back into its box and then into the paper, he caught a glimpse of the picture glaring at him before it disappeared behind the holographic snowflake wrapping. Tossing this one back with the painting, Mort decided to call it a day.

Downtrodden, he turned to sulk back to his room. He nearly fell flat on his face tripping over a small package.

“Mew.”

“What!?” His eyes went wide as the small box mewed its little heart out. “You can’t put a kitten in a box!” Mort’s joy at hearing the meowing turned to panic as he thought of how scared a little kitten would be, how hungry it was. It must have been freezing in there! He ungraciously ripped the paper and threw it to the floor. A few minutes fighting the tape later, it was finally free.

“Got it!” He threw open one of the box flaps, and the world plunged into darkness. The Christmas tree couldn’t have picked a worse time. He groped for the second box flap when the cat inside the box yowled loudly, ferociously.

“It’s okay little guy, I’m your friend!” He cooed to the spitting feline hesitantly, then slowly lowered his hand gently until he brushed the bottom.

“Huh?”

Small hands explored the empty package frantically. Nothing. The hissing and growling stopped abruptly. Nervously, Mort tossed the box at the tree and backed away. The hair on his neck stood at end, reacting to the voices suddenly whispering his name. Harsh breath tickled the inside of his ears. Tears of fear welled up in his eyes, disorienting him even in the inky darkness. Invisible fingers traced their way up his back.. Mort panicked, bolting for the kitchen door.

Before he arrived, the darkness shifted and writhed around him, a living wall of shadow. A cat shaped itself out of ethereal shadows. Mort froze in place. The cat couldn’t be real, he could see the door right through it. But if it wasn’t real, why did he see the door in its sickly glow? He decided to take the chance. It couldn’t be real.

The apparition arched its back, growling and flicking at him with translucent claws. Shrieking in a human voice, the cat leaped at his face! Burning eyes and fetid breath burrowed into his mind. Mort yelled out and tripped over his own feet, dragging himself backward.

The cat was gone.

He flung himself off the ground into the nook of the fireplace. His back against the solid wall made him feel safer, and he could see the entire room from here. Well, would have anyway with some light. The deafening silence roared in his ears as spectral shapes flickered in and out.

Mort stayed very still, scarcely daring to breathe.

After a few minutes, he conjured his ninja alter-ego, Mortimer Wild the Kid. Elite super spy. He wouldn’t let himself be chased into corners by shadows and whispers!

Drawing to his full height, he took a defiant step forward, daring the shadows to come at him. Puffed up his chest with the next step, and then balled his fists at his side to-

An icy claw stabbed into is ankle, a strangled scream choking the boy. He fell into the tree face first. Every fake pine needle on the fake tree stabbed at him with malice, shoving him to the floor. The skeletal grip pulled him inexorably into the fireplace. His racing heart drown the rest of the world. Mort’s eyes were wide, gaping at the ethereal sinister face coalescing in the blackness. Its twisted smile laughing without a sound, opening ever wider as it drew him into its mouth.

No longer fighting the streaming tears, Mort pried violently at the clammy fist. He winced as his fingernails broke and bent backward, but still it remained.

He locked eyes with the monster in the fireplace, its gaze piercing his soul. The two stared unblinking for an eternity.

Bright light cut into his eyes suddenly, blinding him even worse than the horrible darkness.

“Mort, what the heck are you doing out here man?”

His fathers’ irritated voice rang hollow in Mort’s ears, bouncing to and fro in his head until he was ripped back to his senses.

“Dad!” Mort flung himself across the room into his fathers’ arms, burying his face into strong shoulders. Waves of relief washed over him, terrified sobs wracking his small frame. “Dad there’s something in the fireplace! It tried to eat me and I couldn’t get away and there was a cat and it tried to claw my face off and all the lights were off but the Christm-”

“Mort, Mort. It’s okay son, I’m right here buddy. You’re totally fine, you just had a nightmare.”

“No it was real! I saw the painting and the eight ball under the tree and then-”

“Judging by the paper all over the floor, I already know what you were doing.” Sighing, his father continued, “we told you if you couldn’t wait until Christmas day to open your presents that we’d have to take them back, didn’t we?”

His father’s stern voice held little room for discussion. Gathering Mort in his arms, the two traveled to his now brightly lit room.

An hour later, Mort lie in bed staring at the waving shadows on the ceiling. He promised to stay in bed so they wouldn’t throw away his presents, but the loud whispering in his bed and the yowling cat outside promised to make this night a very long one.

NaNo-more please my fingers are bleeding.

Tina here,

So with that grim title I am here to share with you all my outlook on this the day after what should be the Halfway mark of NaNoWriMo. Meaning we should have 25k words written into our projects.

However, I am working on an existing project so I should have 75k and Kris is well, Kris is Kris. He has been working so hard on his project and I am so proud of him for all the challenges he has overcome. The biggest one being him asking me to read over his last writing session to see if what he wrote sounds good or if it makes me think of fire and death. He laughed at me last year for asking him each day to review my work. Stating firmly that he would review it once I had finished with it… here we are two years later and I am still writing. However, now I feel no need to show him any of the work!

It has been fun to see him get excited about creating and moving his story along, and don’t tell him but I have been reading it each day and watching what he adds. He is building a beautiful story that I am now racing to try and beat with my own story! I can’t allow him to finish his own novel before mine is done now can I?!

Another funny thing that Kris and I discovered yesterday as we were talking was that it was amusing to us that the stories we are writing is not even what his world was created for, meaning that he created that world to tell a story that neither one of us has even touched. He is so in love with the idea of the story that he cringes anytime I bring up the idea of storyboarding it or working it out on paper. I had wondered if he just needed a push and that was why I started my story.

Now this year he is writing a story that is something completely different than what he wanted to start with but we are both so entranced with the story that neither of us mind. I just thought it would be funny that in a few years we have a few books out in this world and at a Q&A we get asked about why we started writing in the same world and the response would be because of a story that they have never heard of!

Any way, I have been mostly rambling, but since Nov 1 I have gotten really good at doing that for the word count. Don’t forget to backup your current projects and keep on writing!

Nanoprogresso

Kris here,

Tina was great enough to take care of the blog last week, which was great of her to do. Thanks Tina, for all your…erm…hilarious, jokes.

The last couple of days we’ve been making sure to take an hour or two each day to hit the ~2000 word count thing for some fancy book club she’s joined called nanowritingalotmo or something. You guys probably haven’t heard of it but I think it’ll be big in a few years.

I know Tina flashed my first act bubble in the blog last week, which is how I’ve been outlining my acts recently. I like to just cobble together a cohesive plan and then flesh it out while actually writing most of the time. It’s working out great during this adventure. Maybe too great. I’m on my second bubble out of 20 or so for the first 1/3 of the novel and I’ve hit that first 10k mark. Tina was so excited, “Kris isn’t it exhilarating!”

And you might think so, but holy cow doesn’t that mean I’ll be editing words out of this sucker for my son’s 18th birthday?

I kid of course, writing is a great exercise in creativity for us, and it’s great to be able to share that with my wife. All I can think of about last year is how she kept persevering and writing everyday, making sure to keep up a steady progress for her story while simultaneously asking me thousands of questions and wanting my opinion on her progress. Well now the tables have turned! She already did this and that makes her the expert, and that means I get to ask her to read every other paragraph I hammer out. HA!

One thing I have to be getting wrong is this chapter breakdown BS though. If you check out online, lots of people are out like “heck yeah I just busted out chapter woo woo” to which I can only be mystified. I definitely plan to write chapters, but man isn’t it a bit early to chapter breakdown on your first draft? I guess I’m probably just less experienced than say an actual author, or people used to writing giant stories who can kind of structure as they move along.

Well you’ll have to excuse me, I’m not counting the blog toward my daily word count and these spiders aren’t going to bring themselves to life. Happy writing everyone!

How we Outline

Howdy ya’ll Tina here again! You know what that means. I am just sooo much cooler than Kris. I get to say that because I can. HA!

So because thinking up a blog post on the fly is OH so much fun, I am proud to present you with, Our outlines for NaNoWriMo! This is my second year doing it, but I am kinda cheating because I don’t want to start a brand new novel, I am going to do 50,000 more words on the novel I worked on last year! And this will be Kristopher’s first year doing it so he is a fresh new little baby into the whole NaNo world. He is aiming for weekly goals and as he says, isn’t wholly aiming for 50,000 so much as for writing every week on a story.  So, I thought I would share with you some of the brain farts and dumps that we do when we were getting ready to get started!

Let’s start with me first since Kris still hasn’t sent me his pictures yet.

Binder
I have a Binder for Each of my Projects
Acts
Each Manuscript has it broken down into Acts
Blocks
Which is then broken down into 3 blocks
Scenes
Further broken down into 3 scenes

So, When I break it down like this I find it much easier to focus myself on what I am writing at that moment. I make notes on each scene as to what I plan to do within that scene and expand it with my beautiful words. Taking in those tiny little strings of thought and turning them into big fat bottomed thoughts of filled goodness. I push to have about 500-1000 words per scene but tend to end up with more.

So in that image you can see my ideas for each Scene on that Block. Then I included pictures of the word count for each of them to show you that I tend to go a bit more heavy handed in words. I enjoy adding detail, and I can always cut it out later if I need to.  Here are some extra pictures from my project I thought you might like to see.

Project Statistics
Here are some stats from my projects
Full break down
And here is just a full view of more of my acts.

Now, Kris does things a little more wonky….

Now I apologize for the blurriness and crazy tones in the pictures, that was my fault. However, you can see, Kris likes to lay out a bubble plot where he has lines that connect in various ways. How did he say it again? *shuffling papers around, flinging post-it notes here and there* AH! here it is, “double lines are plot progression, single lines or connected bubbles are relevant or progressing ideas”.

There you have it. He included several pictures of his more detailed outlines where he has it more neatly laid out but I thought the bubbles were the cooler part of that whole process.  He has pushed himself so far and I am so proud of him. I have really enjoyed getting to brainstorm with him about ideas for both of our stories since they both take place in the same world. He is even going to have one of my main plot points show up in his book for like a few seconds. *girly sequel* How romantic is that! Well, Until next time Keyboard Couple readers!

 

Same Bat Time, Same Bat Place!

 

*Groovy bat symbol spiny sound*

NaNoWriMo – Huh?

Howdy Lovely people! Tina here!

Sorry I am like super late getting a post out to you all. I have been in the down and outs with some pains and visits to the hospital but I am kicking butt and taking names now.

Starting with getting ready for Nanowrimo.

What? Podcast you say? Ohhh…uh well you see, we don’t quite have the funding to go full podcast mode on our site. So that is just something we will have to wait on and maybe look at making it a youtube video podcast or something. We are still thinking about it.

Anywhodal, I wanted to make our first podcast about Nanowrimo, which is short for National Novel writing month. Which is every November where writers pledge to write 50,000 words on a manuscript or just in general. So I guess technically our blogs can count too!

I took part last year and hit my goal of 50,000 words on my very first novel which was then put in a holding pattern as I hem and hawed over it. I have been working on it on and off around the year but now I am going to add 50,000 more words to the story. I have already outlined the next half and have talked Kris into working on it with me. He is reluctantly going to attempt to do some kind of writing.

So, because I have done NaNoWriMo before and won, I was looking around for some print outs to add to my binder of crap I need to do everyday. However, I saw a huge lack of 2017 printable things. So, I offer up to you all my super simple, black and white, no frills no fuss no muss NaNoWriMo printable for 2017 for Free! I hope you can find use for them and that they help you on your own journey too!

Link for Printable here.

(It is a Google Doc link so you can download it in whatever format floats your boat!)

Also, you can sign up to take part and track your words in NaNoWriMo at their website here.

Good luck everyone and I will talk to you all soon!

In which Kris has weird thoughts while walking Izzy

Hey guys, Kris here –

Sorry to break our normally scheduled release – Tina and I have been working on the podcast and were trying to get that up this week, but we haven’t been able to get it hammered out. This is my blog week, so I figured I’d write a silly story that made itself in my head while I was walking Izzy for a few miles.
_____________

The boy sifted through the objects in the dumpster with distate. Yech he thought, more biscuits and rawhides. The small child carefully let himself drop silently to the ground. He was told to get food out behind this old warehouse, but it seems it was all for the dogs. Slinking into the narrow shadows cast by the streetlight, he looked about for any other refuse. Spotting a promising looking trash can with a lock, he softly padded his way over.

*SQUEAK*

“Crap!” Tripping over a small pile of squeaky bones he hadn’t noticed, he pulled his emergency axe from his waist pouch and picked up two of the bones. Sprinting back toward the woods, he doused the two toys with the bodyspray, careful not to get any on himself. About halfway to the forest, he tossed one to the side. Then a few meters later, chucked the other in the opposite direction as hard as he could. Sliding into a bush, he lay very still, catching his breath and listening to the alarmed barking.

The two guard dogs were sniffing the pile of toys he’d stepped on a minute earlier, smelling them carefully. The two guards wore handsome uniforms with crisp collars, so he knew they were professionals. The boy made sure not to move, not to make any single sound. He knew society had a special place for him and he couldn’t let himself get caught now. The dogs tracked his scent through the field easily, when they suddenly stopped. Sniffing experimentally, the two split up to search, sniffing in circles and looking questioningly at the sky. The boy heard the howling of sirens in the distance. One of the guards stopped, jumped a few times and started barking at his partner. The other jumped into the air once, ran in a few circles and bolted to the first. Picking up the squeaky bone, the first guard bit down twice and bolted for the other. Just before they colided, the first stopped all of a sudden, squeaked the bone twice more, and sprinted back toward the warehouse complex.

Watching from the shadows, the boy let out a sigh of relief. Dogs are so easy to distract, it made him wonder why his pack was in this predicament in the first place. The sirens came to a stop as several more dogs filed out of a police vehicle marked DPD. They were all armed, armored and very serious. The two guards arrived back to their posts just as the squad car emptied out and the new group stared at the other two expectantly. After a moment of silence, the dog with the toy leapt into the ready position and bit down as fast as he could. The somber group broke out in excitement, each dog barking or chasing his own tail individually, then all chasing after the first to tackle him and wrestle the toy from him.

Feeling it was as good a time as any to slip away, the kid slipped away into the moonless forest.

***

“Oi!”

He awoke to a rough shove and a rougher voice.

“You didn’t bring anything back!?”

Tonight had been his turn to scrounge up dinner, but he’d come home empty handed. It appears he’d fallen asleep waiting for the others to arrive.

“You told me there was food at the storage complex! Well I went there, I climbed inside every trash can and dumpster, crawled under every porch and there was nothing.” The boy crossed his arms. He was hungry too, but there was no helping it tonight.

“You go, sleep on the ground. Blankets are for good boys” Scowling, the grungy man yanked his covers away and wrapped them around himself.

Tears welled in the boys’ eyes, but he didn’t let himself cry. He refused to show weakness to this pack of brutes. He needed protection it’s true, but if he could just find his own pack he wouldn’t have to put up with any of this nonsense.

“Fine!”

Storming off, he angrily took the pack and what clothes he had left and set off. He knew there were few places in the forest to sleep safely, so he opted instead just to try another hand at getting something to eat. Stashing his clothes inside a tree at the edge of the woods, he crept out into a small neighborhood this time. Houses where everyone lived were much more likely to have food thrown out. Rummaging a few cannisters and barrels, he scored a jackpot.

“Carrots!”

They were a little mushy it seems, it’s probably why they were thrown out. Who wanted to chew on mushy carrots when you could chomp into fresh, snappy carrots. Shoving his mouth full, the small child devoured the carrots until he could eat no more. “Ahh,” he sighed happily. He spent a few minutes looking around for a quiet place to rest. Finding a caged trampoline by the edge of the wood, he crawled underneath and used his clothing as a bedspread.

***

“Mom! Can we keep him!”

He opened his eyes and immediately shut them against the bright glare of the sun. Covering his face, he opened his eyes more slowly this time, allowing them to adjust to the light. He was surrounded by what he assumed was the family of the house.

“Patches, you don’t know where he’s been darling. He could have lice!”

“Aww mama, he doesn’t have lice. Look at him! Pleeeeeease. I’ll feed him and walk him everyday and he can sleep with me!”

Things were looking pretty bad, his eyes started darting around looking for an escape. He hadn’t noticed the tall privacy fence around the yard last night in his tired wandering and now there was only one way out. Growling and barking at the other trying to reach out and pet him, the boy bolted for the open gate to the yard and leapt as far as he could. Freedom! He cleared the gate easily and looked to check his pursuers. Ha, they hadn’t even started moving, he was too quick for em.

“Whoa there little fella, nobody’s gonna hurt you. Come here, I got some pizza-flavored pringles for ya? You like those” A man stepped in front of him, setting a small can on the ground.

Warily, the boy eyed the dog catcher’s truck and the y-pole he carried.

“There now, come on over here and we’ll take real good care of you.”

The catcher set the pringles on the ground and backed away. The boy sized up his chances. They were probably faster in the short run than he, they had four legs after all. But he had experience on his side, and could probably lose them in the forest if he made it that far. The boy turned disinterestedly, casually turning his body away and mozying a few steps in the wrong direction. As fast as lightning, he bolted for the can on the ground and used his momentum to roll between the legs of the dog catcher as he turned to get him. Getting to his feet, he made a break for the treeline with the prize. Heart pounding, gasping for air and his mind whirling a mile a minute, the boy pumped his legs as fast as they’d move and barrelled headfirst into the trees.

*Hurk!*

A tightening around his neck choked him fiercely, dragging him back. Wrenching at the rope around his neck, he bit the hands that reached out to him and struggled to free himself.

“Easy does it kiddo, easy does it” The dog catcher eased him back into the grass, the pole securing the boy to the harness around his waist. The terrier spent a minute sniffing the boy and smiled.

“It smells like you’ve been living out in the trees! Don’t you worry, we’re going to take good care of you. We can get you bathed and fed, and maybe find you a nice family. Come on little guy”

The boy pulled as hard as he could against the leash, but it was no use. He’d known it was a risky move and now he’d pay the price. If the price were 3 meals a day, maybe he’d spend a little extra time paying it anyway. The boy was helped inside the back of the truck with the other stray humans while the terrier climbed into the passanger seat.

“Alright Spot, I think we should head on back to the shelter, this one’s gonna need some attention right away.”

“You got it ruffles” replied the Bulldog behind the wheel, who kicked the truck into gear and sped off. The boy watched out the back window as the family of great danes moved their trampoline back into place before they were out of site.