NaNoWriMo – Day 4

Quite the productive day today–a morning session of about 3,200 words then an afternoon/evening session of 4,600+ words, which brings me to 18,836 after four days. (The NaNoWriMo calculator on the stats page indicates I’ll be finished on November 11. LOL.)

I also wrote two long chapters today, so you’ll get a double excerpt. Here’s one from Chapter Five, Off Limits:

How a Quonset hut ended up in the middle of a small village in an even smaller valley in Parvan Province was something Mai pondered only briefly. When she saw the Army cots in the area set aside for her and her team, she want to give the captain a sloppy, tearful kiss. She demurred; she had a reputation to uphold, after all. She did, however, give a laugh at the hand-lettered sign pinned to the blankets someone had already hung from the ceiling beams to surround her cot.

“Warning! Female is OFF-LIMITS!!! Hoo-ah!”

Someone had drawn a decent caricature of her in her shalwar and keffiyeh, funny yet flattering.

“Wait’ll y’all see what they did for the latrine,” Hatfield said.

She’d already seen that. It was quite a bit less funny and not flattering, but she wouldn’t make an issue of it. There would come a time when she’d have to pick a battle with one of these guys, and a drawing of her ass hanging out of her pants wasn’t it. She felt good, however, to peel out of the shalwar, stiff with sweat, and take off her boots.  Alex Terrell had explained a local widow did their laundry for a small fee, acceptable work for a widow, and showed her where to put her clothes outside for the woman to pick up in the morning. 

Her uncovered but French-braided hair and the fact the shalwar no longer hid her figure in the BDU pants and desert tan tee-shirt made a few of the men stop talking as she crossed the Quonset to put her dirty clothes in the box outside the door. She did manage to get the door open, drop the clothes, and close it before any villager could see her in such an immodest state. Before she went back behind her curtains she tossed the soldiers, “Old enough to be your mother, remember.” They looked away and went back to their conversations.

And here’s another excerpt from chapter six, Welcome to Kabul:

The last time Mai had been in Kabul, she’d ridden in on a Soviet armored personnel carrier. People had been on the streets then, too, but their hatred of the Soviets she could easily read on their faces. Today, she was atop an old Soviet tank, captured by the Mujahideen toward the end of that former war, well-maintained, and painted with symbols of the Northern Alliance. She could see no anger or hatred, just joy. People cheered and waved, and children ran beside the tank, reaching up to touch the hands of the victors.

Mai’s eyes searched the crowds, hoping against hope for a certain face, even as unlikely as that was. Absent Alexei’s face, she’d hoped to see the faces of women, but mostly men and boys filled the streets. The women she did see, still huddled beneath their burqas. Women, after all, were practical creatures. Just five years before, the Northern Alliance ran Kabul, then overnight, the Taliban chased them out. Now the Northern Alliance was back, but it was too soon to put the burqa in the trash heap. That, and the fact some warlords in the Northern Alliance considered rape a spoil of war.

O’Keefe and the team were somber. They’d lost Gonzalez in a fierce firefight, and the SpecOps guys had made certain his body got shipped home. Mai had tried to stop the blood from leaving his body with her own hands, urged Gonzalez to breathe while the medics worked on him, and she’d been holding his hand when he asked her to make sure his mother knew he thought of her at the end.

She’d lost people on missions before, but this was her team. And, yes, she’d taken it personally. For the first time she really understood how Alexei could enjoy killing.