A Strange House: a non-excerpt from The Wounded World

This is a piece I wrote to help me characterize a certain individual in my next book: Meriym. Although this excerpt will not actually appear in the novel itself, it played a huge role in the plot development of my current NanoWriMo project. Enjoy!


Footsteps thundered in the silent and empty air, magnified by the hollowness of the space under the bridge; Meriym was running, terrified of the thing that chased her. Sweat dripped from every inch of her skin, and droplets of blood leaked from her hands where her nails pierced her fists from the intensity of her grip. She gasped and ran, one foot after another, praying for salvation and never looking behind her.

And then she tripped. The world slowed around her as she saw the brown and dusty earth rise up to embrace her – every speck of dirt seemed to float slowly by her eyes. The hungry, blade-like grass lashed at her arms leaving a trail of blood across her skin. A crow screeched overhead. She bounced a little on the hard ground, and then, with gritted teeth, rolled over to face the thing that chased her. The sky was greyish-blue, as if the sun hadn’t quite finished rising. And the path behind her lay empty.

She sat for a few moments, her chest heaving, gasping for much-needed air. Her hands feebly felt the ground around her. Her eyes took in the colours, the sights, the bridge – she was nowhere, yet she was safe. For the moment.

Standing slowly, she brushed off her skirts. Where had it gone – the thing that had chased her? A frown settled over her hardened eyes. What if it had the power to become invisible? She may not be safe after all.

Meriym turned and strode down the path, away from the bridge. There must be someone in this new world that could help her, protect her. She walked slowly, listening, hardly breathing, looking in every direction. With patience and perseverance she could – she would – outwit the creature. She would kill it, and every creature like it, revenge for destroying her people. She squared her shoulders and lifted her chin, only to see a strange shape emerging from just over the rise.

Hastening, Meriym’s eyes widened as she saw the strangest-looking house. Each side was perfectly square, and the four sections of roof peaked together in perfect isosceles triangles. Each side contained two windows and one door; the door was placed perfectly in the center and reached all the way to the top of the wall. The doorknob stuck out in precisely the middle of the door. The only thing that was not symmetrical in every direction was the set of steps that led up to each door on each side of the house.

Despite the uncomfortable balance of the building, the steps had begun to rot, and small tufts of grass grew through their weakened wood. Square shingles lay broken on the ground. A deep, dry, and unforgiving field spread out in all directions, with only one path leading away from the house towards the river which flowed a deep and unnatural red.

The house was odd, unusual, and utterly foreign. But it was a house and it appeared abandoned. Meriym swallowed and stepped towards it. With time, patience, and perseverance, it would become her fortress.