Retreat, Day 21

IMG_6608Feeling a bit more caught up, some solid word count today. If I can bank a little more tonight, I’ll give myself a treat tomorrow and go down to check out the Santa Cruz boardwalk.

Today’s wordcount: 5102
Current Hearts of Tabat wordcount: 119160
Total word count for the week so far (day 2): 10976
Total word count for this retreat: 57637
Worked on Hearts of Tabat, Bloodwarm Rain, “Blue Train Blues”
Works finished on this retreat: “California Ghosts,” “My Name is Scrooge,” “Blue Train Blues.”
Time spent on SFWA email, discussion boards, other stuff: 45 minutes

From Blue Train Blues, completed today in first draft form:

The next obstacle presented itself a few miles further on. Fog covered the road, and the car swam in and out of it, a submerged salmon leaping through foamy water, curls and tendrils swirling in its wake. My lord drove slower, but barely, and more than once we swerved to avoid an incautious cow or deer. I tried not to think of how many things stood too low to be spotted through the fog.

We ascended to a hilltop and saw a basin of fog in front of us, an immense white bowl. I started to say something about the odd flapping noise that was just starting to creep up on my consciousness but before I could begin, my lord shoved me sideways, then rolled in the opposite direction himself. A massive claw flashed in the space between us and rasped against the metal before the dragon swooped back upward.

“Hold tight.” We leaped down the hill and into the fog.

My lord steered with face tense, watching the road flash by mere feet from our front wheels, not slowing. Overhead we heard the flapping of the wings.

Then the hoot of a train, off to the right, somewhat ahead.

“What are you thinking, sir?” I asked. “That’s not the Blue Train. It’s the train to the western coast.”

“I know,” he said. “But the crossing is up ahead, I can hear it.”

“But not see it.” Fog thickened and lessened around us; sometimes I could see his resolute face, other times he was lost to me. Overhead those wings flapped, and sometimes fire coiled, once a great wash of it directly overhead accompanied by a foul, sulfurous stench. My cap had blown off my head many miles ago, and I felt the hairs atop my head singe and vanish.

“Hold tight!” my lord yelled over the roaring of the wind and if he added anything to that, it was lost in the howl of the train and the sudden flap of wings and then somehow we were soaring through space just ahead of the train, so close I could count every bar in the cowcatcher in front of it and there was a vast scream and crash as the dragon and the train collided, and then a whoosh of flame, exploding outside, that cleared the world of mist and revealed chaos.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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