As many of you who follow me on social media know, I am doing National Novel Writing Month this year, and as I do most years, I would like to share a little bit of what I'm writing with you. But first, the numbers!
Last year was the first year I did not win, but I am definitely going to this year! Take a look:
Also this month I've done a lot of working out...
Hung out with Grandma...
Done a bunch of craft fairs...
Bought new books (as if I need more of those)...
And hung out with the cats.
I started this month right here:
Chapter 1: In Which Edna Finds An Old Map And A Key
Boxes upon boxes. Thousands of dusty old papers, covered with the incoherent scribblings of an insane Oliphant that few had ever heard of. Edna was drowning in dribbling ink, ancient pieces of wax that crumbled into dust when she touched them, and oddly sticky glue. She found it surprising that she hadn’t seen the little tails of a family of mice scurrying to avoid her ruthless digging.
She coughed a few times as she pulled another stack of papers out of another box and another plume of dust billowed into her face. Blinking to clear the dirt from her eyes, she glanced at her watch. 2 AM. She should probably stop working and get some sleep.
“Eh, just one more box,” she muttered to herself, reaching out for her favourite caffeinated beverage—Closest Friend. Empty.
She groaned, and leaned down to peer at the paper on the top of the pile she held in her hand. It read:
The Contents of this Book of Edward Oliphant the 4th are as Follows:
1. His Last Will And Testament, To Be Read Upon His (Likely) Ill-fated Demise
2. A Diary of His Years As A Fortune Hunter With Diagrams Included
3. A List of Crucial Items To Be Preserved By His Estate Upon His Death
At this, Edna chortled. He had died penniless, and his so-called estate was non-existent. His years of “fortune hunting” had left him with nothing except piles of boxes and a heap of “Crucial Items” for Edna to sift through. Normally, she would have briefly sifted through the contents, but her aunt had made a special request. So she obliged.
She continued reading:
4. A Series of Letters To Those Held Most Dear from the Deceased
5. A Map Showing the Location of Several Highly Valuable Items Found by the Deceased
6. A Map Found By the Deceased Upon Which He Places Great Value But Which Leads Nowhere
Edna frowned. How could a map lead nowhere? If it if led nowhere, why did Edward the 4th put so much importance on it?
She flipped through the pages in front of her until she came to a map. It clearly depicted Pomegranate City, circa 300 years ago. That wasn’t it. A few pages later, it appeared, aged and weathered, severely water damaged and with a big tear across the center.
Across the top, spidery letters spelled out “Yuva.” Edna frowned. Yuva was a mythical planet. Below “Yuva” more letters spelled out, “founded in the year 1021 by Alexander and Theodore Finnegan” which was punctuated by the Finnegan seal next to the Oliphant seal. Edna’s frown deepened, and then she laughed.
“A hoax,” she said out loud, “but poor old Edward thought it was real.” She shook her head.
The door on the other side of the storeroom suddenly burst open and Edna shrieked.
“It’s just me!” her brother called out, raising his hands. “Just me.”
“Lance!” Edna exclaimed. “You scared me half to death.”
He laughed and tossed his silky grey hair back. Grey hair had suddenly become popular, and while Edna didn’t understand it, she thought it looked good on him.
He smiled and strode over to her, his long legs stepping carefully between boxes.
“Clearly,” Edna replied. “What are you doing here?”
“Jack said he saw the lights on, so I thought I’d come make sure no one murdered you in your sleep.”
“No one is going to murder me,” Edna protested. “And I’m not sleeping.”
“That’s what everyone says,” Lance countered, “right before they get murdered.”
“Well, I’m pretty sure there’s not good reason for anyone to kill me,” she said dismissively.
“You don’t know that!” Lance crossed his arms and frowned down at her. “Who knows what magical treasures are scattered across the floor of this storage facility? Who knows!?”
Edna rolled her eyes. “Did you happen to bring any Closest Friend with you?”
He grinned. “I got your back!” he said, pulling a can out of his pocket.
Edna popped the tab and gulped down half the can.
“Find anything interesting?”
“Edward’s last will and testament sound fun?” she asked.
“If you think it is, I’m sure it must be.” He made a face at the boxes that filled up almost every inch of the room.
“Not really, but I found another Yuva hoax.”
“Really?” Lance’s eyes lit up. “Can I see?”
She handed him the old map.
He whistled. “This is good! I mean, it looks real! As in, really real!”
“Well, it’s super old. Anything that old is bound to look real, even if it’s not.”
Lance nodded and drew his finger across some of the topographical lines carefully drawn across the page. “Amazing.” He flipped it over. “It has the Finnegan seal on it.”
“Yeah, but it’s in Ed’s box. So, it’s ours?” She had no idea. The Finnegans and the Oliphants had feuded for generations, since shortly after the founding of Pomegranate City. Edna had only met one Finnegan in her life, and she planned to keep it that way.
“We shouldn’t mention finding this,” she said.
Lance nodded. “I think you’re right. Anything else useful in that box?”
Edna reached in and pulled out a stack of papers. “Have a seat!” she exclaimed, and handed him a pile.
Lance dropped down on the floor across from her and grinned. He flipped open a notebook and began to read aloud:
It’s been a long time since I’ve been this angry—almost two whole weeks! I can’t believe daddy made me clean my room all by myself. The maid wasn’t even allowed to help! Ugh, he is the worst! All I did was mention that his ugly new wife might consider going on a diet, but for health reasons not for weight! I meant it to be helpful. Instead, here I am, VACUUMING MY OWN RUG. It’s ridiculous and unfair and I hate it! And him!
Anyway, I’m planning on sneaking out to go see Leo. That’ll show him! Leo loves me for who I am, and daddy just wants to boss me around. And Leo—I think he’s my true love. But, Diary, don’t tell anyone! I swear I will burn you if you do.
“What is that?” Edna exclaimed, laughing.
“A very angry diary entry from a very volatile little girl,” Lance replied, chuckling. “It’s signed, Nelly. Know who that is?”
“One of Edward’s daughters, I think,” Edna replied. “No one important. She works at a cake factory across town.”
“Why is his daughter’s diary in a box of his things?”
“Maybe it was important to him for some reason,” Edna suggested. “Maybe she says something nice about him later, or maybe he stole all of her diaries.”
“Seems like a weird thing to do.”
“All I’m saying is that people often have reasons for doing things that are incomprehensible to the rest of the universe. This might be one of those things.”
“Fair enough.” Lance shrugged. “You find anything interesting?”
She held up a piece of paper with a key tied to it and some writing scribbled across the top, and then read aloud, “To whom it may concern: this key maybe be useful in the pursuance of Yuva. Please be advised against using it with unnecessary force. Thank you very much. Sincerely, R.”
Lance raised an eyebrow. “That’s not his handwriting, is it?”
“No, his name doesn’t start with an R. And look at the way the person writes his ‘f’s.”
Leaning forward, Lance peered at the writing. “They’re backwards!”
“Yeah. That’s how they teach proper handwriting at butler school.”
“So you think this was written by his butler?”
Edna shrugged. “A butler, at least. Or someone who learned to write from a butler.” She set the document in a separate pile, on top of the maps she had found earlier.
They sat quietly for a few moments, leafing through the piles of papers and notebooks. Then Lance looked up at Edna and frowned. “So, tell me seriously—do you think that there is any way this particular Yuva conspiracy could be real?”
Edna rolled her eyes. “Lance! We all know Yuva isn’t real! We learned about it in school since it caused such a controversy when the original hoax surfaced, and because no one ever found out who started the rumor. But, how can it be real? I mean, it’s an invisible planet that hasn’t been located with any telescopes, and that doesn’t have a Door leading to it?”
Doors were a helpful technology that allowed people to travel great distances in a very short period of time. Edna’s own society, the Sagittans, had developed the technology and now had Doors which led to other planets and civilizations all over the universe.
“But look at this,” Lance said, holding up a notebook. Bound with leather, it was beat up and dirty, but in largely good condition. He opened the notebook to the first page, and read:
We did it. We did it, we did it, we did it! The Oliphants, those arrogant bunch of jerks, aren’t the only ones who can build planets. Father and I have finally succeeded. I am thrilled. Our new planet is called Yuva, and we hid it behind a star on the other side of the galaxy, so it is unlikely to be detected by mere telescopes. We hope to set up our own civilization there, and leave these dang blasted Oliphants behind us.
“It’s dated over 2000 years ago.”
“That’s ridiculous. It’s a forgery,” Edna scoffed. “If it was 2000 years old, and had been in that box this whole time—or in other boxes for that matter—it would be crumbling to dust and we wouldn’t be able to read a word!”
Lance shook his head, eyes wide. “It’s made of teal cow skin and glazed.” He reached out to hand her the notebook.
Surprisingly heavy, the book almost fell as she grasped it. The pages were stiff and cut into uneven rectangles. It had clearly been made by hand by someone, and the glaze, designed to keep different types of paper and leather from deteriorating over time, was starting to peel in a few places.
“Okay,” she mused. “I’m not an expert, but you could be right about its age. But it still could be a forgery. Maybe someone found this old book, wrote in it, and then glazed it.
Lance gave her a look. “You’re stretching. We have a really old journal which claims to have built the planet Yuva, and two really old maps that supposedly show us the locations of said planet. It might be a hoax, yes, but don’t you at least think it’s worth checking out?”
Edna sighed and nodded, smiling at her little brother. A head taller than her and easily a hundred pounds more, his curiosity never ceased. Good thing he was a detective.
She decided to try a different tactic. “Don’t you have cases to be working on, or something?”
Lance just grinned. “Nope! Things have been quiet around here lately. Which is, of course, a good thing, but it makes my life a lot less interesting. Come on! Humor me, just this once.”
“Alright.” Edna placed the rest of the papers in the box and stood up. She brushed the dirt off of her pants. “Where do you want to start?”
A massive grin blossomed across Lance’s face.
“Where do you think?” he asked. “The Bloodaxe.”
Stay tuned for more :)