First things first. (If we do things out of order, my brain may go to pieces at this point.)
I am happy to announce that the winner of the giveaway is Liz @ Out of Coffee, Out of Mind. (If you would be so kind as to email me with your mailing address, I can ship the books to you! My email is somewhere on the sidebar to the right.)
By the way, I really think you should go follow her. She's always has such excellent discussions and content and she's just awesome in general. So go read her blog.
Again, thank you all for participating in Of Beasts and Beauties. You do know I was terrified that nobody would like it or have fun, right? I don't even know why.
So today I'm doing Starting Sparks, AND it's only the 25th! Huzzah! Don't start celebrating too soon though. My entry comes in at least three or four parts. My apologies. Sort of.
I co-host this link up with the fabulous Emily @ Ink, Inc. Whom you should go follow pronto. Her writing style is superb and her blog is beautiful. So, um, go visit her blog. Now.
So about this story that comes in multiple parts. Let me explain.
No, it's too much. Let me sum up.
1) I wanted to smash a bunch of fairytales together. And this just kind of happened.
2) If you are unfamiliar with the Oddball characters. . .Just hang on to your hat.
3) It's very badly written. Which is kind of the point. I break a lot of rules. And a wall or two. On purpose. (I've been on a writing hiatus with this blogevarsary thing, okay? I am now terrorizing the literary world with revenge for. . . something? #not really)
4) It's in omniscient present tense, and I have no idea how to write omniscient.
5) It kind of makes fun of younger me (think twelve) when I used to write very tell-y, info dump-y scenes. (Yes, info dump-y is a legit term.)
6) I hope you like it anyways.
7) I am irrational nervous. I don't get nervous like this. What is going on?
8) I hope you laugh. That's kind of why I wrote it.
An Odd Tale
Part the First
Once upon a time, I turned a world upside-down.
But I always do that.
Once upon a time, I deported my characters to another land for, for— vacation! Yes. Of course. Vacation. . .
No, that won’t do either. Not at all, at all.
Aw, whatever. Let’s just begin at the beginning.
Once Upon a Time, there lives a Beastie Wolf.
A Beastie Wolf, in case you don’t know, is half human and half wolf. Why then is he not called a Humanie Wolf? For the important reason that Beastie Wolf sounds much better than Humanie Wolf, which sounds wholly laughable.
This particular Beastie Wolf is the Northern Beastie Wolf. Are there Southern, Western, and Eastern Beastie Wolves?
I am uninformed on that topic.
All that matters is that people refer to this Beastie Wolf, our Beastie Wolf, as the Northern Beastie Wolf. He is greatly feared, not for anything that he has done. I am sad to say it is only because he is a Beastie Wolf and that his appearance and his 50% wolf blood scares people witless.
To protect themselves from the Northern Beastie Wolf, a witch cast a deep curse on him and his wood. She enchanted his wood so that he may never leave it without the acceptance of another. Nor can anyone enter his wood without the same. Of course he has tried to escape. But every time he reaches the treeline of the Northern Enchanted Wood (I have it on good sources that there is an Eastern Enchanted Wood.) he always runs into an invisible barrier of some rot. It is much like smashing his face into an invisible pane of glass.
You may prefer to call our Beastie Wolf, Oddball. He has long since given up the idea of escaping his fate. There he is now.
Do you see him? Sitting on his human hunches. His furry hands with fingers. His face much like a human’s.
“Ashley, what’s going?” Oddball says.
“Shush,” I say. “Can’t you see I’m narrating?”
He’s quite covered in fur. It sticks up in all directions, a tangled mess. See here, he even has a bur stuck behind his sharp ears atop his head.
“I do not!” Oddball says.
“You can’t see behind your ears, can you?”
Oddball crosses his arms. “I don’t have any fur for burs to get caught behind my ears. Nor do I—“
“You may want to check in the creek.”
Oddball stomps over to the creek. “What even is a Beastie Wolf? Do you ever stop making things up?”
“Lucky for you, no,” I say.
Oddball leaps away from his reflection. “What in the sun’s name is that?!”
I sigh. “Weren’t you listening at all?”
“I zoned out around,” he uses a girly voice, that sounds more snarly than girly, “I turned a world upside-down.”
“Stop that. You can’t even get it right.”
“Neither can you. Look at me!”
“That’s all we’ve do so far.” I glare at him. “If you quit your whining, we’ll commence with the story.”
“Some story.” Oddball glares back.
“Just read the script!”
“Read the script. Look in the river. You’re a Beastie Wolf, now Oddball. Next, I’ll be fetching chew toys.” Oddball grumbles.
“Beastie Wolfs do not fetch. It’s too undignifying.”
“Oh, Beastie Wolfs are dignified, are they? Then what is with the bur behind my ear? Huh?”
“You’re a distraught Beastie Wolf.”
“No thanks to you.” He sits, and scratches behind his ear with his foot. “I can’t even—“ Oddball freezes. “What am I doing?”
“Good.” I smile. “The change has finally become subconscious.”
“Hang in there,” I say. “Something’s going to happen.”
“Sure. Do Beastie Wolfs attack Writers, by any chance?”
“No. You’re a nice Beastie Wolf. Now shut up.”
Something crashes into the trees. A girl. With red hair. A lot of frizzy, tangle-curled kind of red hair.
“What is that?” Oddball asks.
“Please.” I roll my eyes. “You’ve not been away from civilization so long that you’ve forgotten what a human looks like.”
“Wait, that’s human?” Oddball points through the trees at the small, thin – yes – human with a fuzzy red cloud on her head.
This new creature, uh human, wears a red hoodie that’s about two sizes too large. She has a knee-length black skirt, knit black leggings, and some hunting boots to match.
“It looks more like a tuff of red fluff floating through the woods.” Oddball slides a suspicious glance at me.
The remarkable size of her hair and hoodie, dwarf the rest of her in every way. She appears to be a wispy willow twig beneath red fuzz. Across her shoulders is a satchel with the words “Pastry Deliverer” written across it, uh, in marker. She glances over her shoulder. She appears to be humming and, and—
“The narrating thing is kind of tiresome,” Oddball very rudely interrupts.
“It’s not your cue to talk yet!”
“Actually it is.”
“Well, at least have the decency to say your line.”
Oddball huffs. He forces the words through his teeth. “Is she making a daisy chain?”
I shrug. “Suppose you ask her?”
“I’m not going to— to talk to that thing.”
“Really now, Beastie Wolf. You are very distraught and lonely.” I give him a pointed look. “Don’t you think a friend would be nice?”
“There’s you.” Oddball nods to me.
“Yeah, and how’s that going for you?”
“You drive a hard case.”
“Read the script.”
Oddball sighs and walks over to the Red Fluff. He clears his throat. “Excuse me?”
The girl whirls around. Her hair bounces around her. “Yes?”
“Um, you must be lost.”
She looks around as that very fact now dawns on her. “Yes. How could you tell?”
“Well, nobody is able to—“ Oddball screws his face in a scowl. “How did you manage to come in?” He circles her with his hands behind his back.
“Well, I guess I just, um, walked in?” She turns with him. “I can’t recall exactly when.”
“You didn’t smash into the barrier?” Oddball says.
She gives him a strange look. “Barrier?” She’s thinking he might be mad.
“Hm.” Oddball sets his chin on his fist. Sniffs the air. “Something smells wonderful.” His eyes land on her satchel.
“Oh, that’s my pastries.” She looks over her shoulder.
“You cooked them?” Oddball is having the thought that if this girl ever put anything in an oven it would come out black.
“No.” She laughs. “I just, um, deliver them. I have strawberry kiwi tarts—“
Oddball makes a face.
“Apple cream cake—“
How was he thinking this smelled good?
“And of course, chocolate chip cookies.” She raises her chin proudly. Her hands clasp in front of her with her daisy chain draped on the ground around her. She has worked on it for quite a time.
“Oh,” Oddball says. “And these chocolate chip cookies? What are they?”
“You’ve never had a chocolate chip cookie?!” She gives him a goofy look. If you want to know, she wonders what horrifying accommodations an enchanted wood must have if there are no chocolate chip cookies.
“Not that I can think of.”
“Well.” She glances over her shoulder. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to let you have one. It’s not like he would miss it.”
“The Master of the Misfit Lands.” She blinks at him as if he must be the dullest Beastie Wolf on the face of the world. Her gaze jerks away as she digs into her pack. “What’s your name?”
Oddball swallows. “How did you come in here?”
“Well, I don’t know. I got distracted I suppose.”
“Yes.” He glances at the daisies. “You shouldn’t be here.”
“Because, because.” He sits down. “Don’t you know I’m the Northern Beastie Wolf?”
“Oh, I suppose.”
“Well, as you are a Beastie Wolf and this is the north. It’s the north, right?”
He nods and scratches absently at the bur behind his ear.
“Then you must be the Northern Beastie Wolf.”
“But aren’t you. . . scared?” He stares at her. Is she really that stupid?
“You don’t seem scary.” She grins.
A cookie sits in her hand. She stretches it out to him, as there is a rather wide space between them.
He stares at it, then glances at her. She looks over her shoulder. Why does she keep doing that? He edges forward. It does smell really good. Whatever it is. He makes a quick snatch for it. He takes a nimble.
It’s almost as heavenly as leaving this wretched wood.
“So?” she says.
“Mfph gooph.” Which is supposed to mean, “It’s good.” His face says it more than his words.
She sits too now. “So what’s your name?” She stretches to touch her toes. “It’s not the Northern Beastie Wolf, is it? Because that’d be rather disappointing.”
“Um, it’s Oddball.”
“That’s a nice name.”
Oddball screws his face up. (He does that a lot.) What is with this girl? “Then what can your name possibly be?” he asks. If she thinks his is nice, then hers must be horrendous.
“Oh, some people call me Lucky,” she says. “But mostly just Peril.”
“Just Peril?” The words drop from his mouth before he thinks. He lies down. The act makes him look more wolf-like than human-like.
She nods. “They say I get into all sorts of scrapes, but then I get out again.”
“That does makes sense,” he says offhandedly. “If you didn’t get out of the scrapes then you couldn’t get into all kinds. Just one.”
She looks around again. “Which way is the Misfit Lands?”
He shrugs and scratches again. “I’ve never been beyond the North Enchanted Wood.”
“Why not?” She thinks this is very strange.
Doesn’t this, this – Peril – know anything? “I’m stuck here.”
“You haven’t tried—“
“Oh. Well, oughten you try again?”
“Why? It’d never work.”
“How do you know?” She stands and straightens her skirt.
“It’s not as if I’ve anywhere to go.”
Her face brightens. “You could go to the Misfit Lands.”
“Yes,” he says slowly. “That sounds very. . . complimenting. ‘I live in the Misfit Land.’”
“Oh, don’t be such a snob.” She swats at him, but they are too far apart. “The Master gives home to anyone who doesn’t have one already.”
“And what makes you think I don’t have a home.” He stands now too.
She throws a flared hand over her heart. “I am very uncanny like that.”
“Yeah. Sure you are.” He walks past her. “They don’t like me out there, and—“
“So you’re scared?”
“I am not scared!” He whirls back to her.
“Then what are you scared of?” She knows she has him now.
“I didn’t say I was—What?”
“Then come on.” She walks the way she came.
“Listen. . . Peril.” He was right about the name thing. “People don’t like me. You don’t want to travel with me, even if there was a small chance of me leaving. You’ll be an outcast.”
Something crosses her face. He isn’t sure what. But it looks serious which seems out of place on her. Or at least the her she seems to be so far.
But it’s gone soon.
“Do you think me that shallow?” she says.
He only has chance to open his mouth before she walks off.
Oddball crosses his arms. “I will not follow that, that. . .” Something more lucid crosses his face. “You made Peril look like that?!” He turns to me with a pinch of anger and throws a hand in Peril’s direction. “Peril doesn’t wear skirts! And she doesn’t act like that, and— What did you do to her hair?”
“Listen, you’re a Beastie Wolf.” I shrug.
“Yeah, but, and. . .” He shakes his head. “Why does she act like she doesn’t know what’s going on?”
“She knows how to play her part better than you,” I say.
Oddball shakes her head. “Oh, no. We aren’t going back to the script.” He crosses his arms. “Not until you change Peril back into Peril. She doesn’t even have a weapon! How can she be Peril without at least a knife?”
I shake my head. “Would you just—“
“Yeah, yeah. Read the script. Whatever.” Oddball sighs. “But you’d better turn her back into herself soon.”
“Trust me. Peril knows how to act.”
Oddball catches up to her at the treeline.
Peril barely turns her head toward him. “Well, so nice of you to join me, Wolfie Beast.”
“It’s Beastie Wolf,” Oddball says. “If you’re going to say it, at least do it right.” (
He is not mentally rolling his eyes because
he just quoted me.)
She steps beyond the trees and into the meadow. “Well?”
Oddball stares at what ought to be the invisible barrier. But since it’s, you know, invisible he can’t really know if he’s looking at it. “This isn’t going to work.”
“Would you stop?” Peril says. “Don’t be such a distraught lump on a log.”
“I’m sorry, a what?” He narrows his eyes at her.
“You heard me, Mister Big Bad Down in the Dumps.”
He glares at her, takes one step closer, then another—
She huffs with exasperation, grabs his shirt sleeve, and pulls him out of the North Enchanted Wood. Out of his prison. Out. . .
He is standing out. He glances at the ground. He looks up at the sky. It looks much the same. Still blue.
But it’s different. Somehow, some way, it’s all different.
He grins down at her.
“What?” She sounds irritated and releases his sleeve. But really she’s not sure what to make of his look.
“So where are we going?” he asks, which relieves her because the look leaves his face with that question.
Peril glances over her shoulder. But she sees nothing nor hears anything.
Oddball dashes a glance at me.
I point back to Peril.
He sighs. “So how are we do we get to the Misfit Lands?”
“Well.” She shifts her satchel on her shoulder. “We have to follow the yellow brick road.”
“Yeah,” Oddball says. He looks more human when walking. “That shouldn’t be hard to find. How far exactly did you wander?”
She opens her mouth, then closes it.
He narrows his eyes. “You do know where you’re going, right?”
“Yes.” She glares at him defensively. “I just, have never been there.”
“What do you mean, never been there?”
“I told you, the only people who go there are those looking for a home.” She refuses to look at him and quickens her pace.
“No, you told me that you’re delivering pastries to him.” Oddball clenches his teeth and they look a little more canine than human.
“I’m doing that too.”
He bounds in front of her and crosses his arms.
This miffs her and she makes a face. Every time she tries to go around him, he blocks her.
“Tell me what’s going on,” Oddball says.
“Well.” She stares down at her hunting boots. “You see, I just escaped and I stole her pastries because, obviously I needed something to eat and I could always offer them to the Master of the Misfit Lands in case he didn’t feel like letting me in.”
“Wow, slow down.” Oddball holds his hands up. “Escaped from where? And from who?” He eyed her suspiciously. “You aren’t some criminal, are you?”
“You’re a Beastie Wolf. What are you worried about?”
He rolls his eyes. “Answer the questions.”
“The witch who locked me in the tower I escaped from.”
“Why’d she do that?” He sits and scratches furiously at bur in his fur.
“I don’t know!” She takes the chance to shove him out of her way. “Just because she can, I guess.”
She stalks off. She wonders if he’s following. But who cares? She’s just got to get to safety before the old witch comes to—
She freezes. What was that sound?
Oddball who has followed a few paces behind with a dark look on his face, stops too. His ears twitch above his head.
They both look back now.
Another howl, louder this time.
A flying wolf crashes through the trees and lands on the ground, rather ungracefully.
Oddball glances at Peril. She has a knife now. He seems pleased with this, and I feel I’m forgiven for at least something.
The winged wolf regains his footing. He growls at the both of them. Soon another joins him. They circle our. . . heroes.
In perfect syncopation the two flying wolves lunge at them. Oddball wrestles with the first one. It is hard to tell the Northern Beastie Wolf and the flying wolf apart as they roll and bite and snarl. But finally the winged wolf lies still. Oddball springs up looking much more like a wolf than a human.
The second wolf is sprawled on the ground with blood on his face, but he is quite alive. Peril scrambles around for her knife as the wolf stands once more. The wolf races at her again. She still hasn’t found the—
Oddball leaps at the wolf. It doesn’t take much wrestling to get him down though. Oddball stands, looking much more like a human now.
In the air the first wolf flies away with Peril. She struggles but, it’s little use. Soon another flying wolf joins the first and helps carry her.
What fairytales can you find in there
because I was subtle? Okay, so not all of them are actual fairytales. Have you joined Starting Sparks? There's still time!