NaNoWriMo – Day 5

This has been the most productive day I’ve ever had in NaNoWriMo–8,700 words, and I surpassed the halfway mark in word count and reached 27,536 words. I’ve done nothing except write for as many hours as I possibly could in the past five days, and, frankly, I’m exhausted. Tomorrow is a break because I’m driving a friend to DC for the day. I think that’s needed because I don’t think I can keep this pace going.

Here’s today’s excerpt, from Chapter Seven, Tools of the Trade:

“What else did they tell you about Mir Saradi?” she asked.

“He is a legend already, and many tribes have joined with him to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda. He is a Russian who came to fight for Allah, may we bless his name,” said Hawat.

Hawat told the soldiers’ stories of Mir Saradi, all heroic. Saradi rode into battle on a magnificent white horse, though she found that hard to believe, knowing Alexei’s distrust of horses. 

Saradi prayed before battle, he quoted from the Quran to inspire his men, he turned the truth of the Quran against those who perverted it. He carried his Quran, in Russian, as a battle shield. He gave alms.

“They say he hunts bin Laden to avenge his murdered family,” Hawat said, “but he carries the blood vengeance for many with him.”

That Mai did believe. As in the Balkans, Afghani tribesmen would understand blood vengeance. Hawat’s effusions added to what the Talib had told her painted an interesting picture, a portrait of a man she wasn’t sure she knew, a holy warrior.

“The soldiers say they do not fear his blue eyes,” Hawat said, “because they shine with the holy light of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate…”

“Fine and good,” Mai interrupted. “Did they say where he is now?”

“He and Abdullah Ignatsiev went to Abdullah’s house here in Kabul.”

Mai went back over the condition of Atef’s body. He’d been killed less than a day before.

“Hawat, would your uncle know where this Abdullah Ignatsiev lives?” she asked.

“Of course,” Hawat boasted. “He knows everyone in Kabul.”

(c)2013 by Phyllis Anne Duncan

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.

NaNoWriMo – Day 3

Update: I added 700 words this evening for a daily total of 4242 and a three-day total of 11,140.

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Combine going to bed at the ungodly hour of 2000, a time change, and an early wake-up, and you get another 3,542 words–and all before starting another jam-packed day of choir rehearsal, choir, and a birthday party for the two best five year olds in the world. That brings a three-day total to 10,440 words. And I’m glad for the cushion because I know there are days ahead where I’ll be lucky to get 1,000 words.

Here’s today’s excerpt from Chapter 3, Power Play:

Boyd Wahler stood before the painting, which had hung in every office he’d ever occupied—when he was a Congressman, a Senator, White House Chief of Staff, National Security Advisor, now Director of the CIA. He had painted it himself, based on a picture someone had snapped of him during his first tour in Vietnam. He stood alone in a field of high grass, a Huey in the background, and stared at something in the distance. Improvised camouflage adorned his helmet, and his rifle pointed at the ground. For the life of him, though, he could not remember what it was that caught his attention, what he stared at so intently. The photo, which he’d carried in his wallet, had long since disintegrated, and he’d done the painting from memory.

It reminded him that, at all times, no matter how many people worked for him or supported him, he always stood alone. When he needed someone to rely on, he could only count on himself. A carry-over from the previous administration, he knew the ground he now stood on was as mine-filled as the fields he trod in Vietnam. He knew, as well, the leverage he had over this Administration would take him only so far. Still, it hadn’t been a difficult call when one of his agents, Winston Everette, had requested Wahler’s presence at Everette’s cubicle in the Executive Office Building.

“Tell Agent Everette I’ll be glad to see him in my office at his earliest convenience,” he’d told his secretary. Her admiring smile had bolstered him for the rest of the day.

 (c)2013 by Phyllis Anne Duncan

NaNoWriMo – Day 2

A long day today. I had to drive to Richmond, VA, where I spent most of the day. I didn’t get home until after four, but I managed 3,242 words in just about three hours. My two-day total is 6,898, which ain’t bad.

Here’s an excerpt from what I wrote today, from Chapter 2, Arrows of God:

Patience was something else he’d almost forgotten. Living in America, the land of instant gratification, could do that to you, make you forget the best things were the things you waited for with patience. He was fifty-eight years old, far above the life expectancy of the men of this country, even the country of his birth, and if it took him another decade to do what he needed to do, to find the man he wanted to kill, he would wait. With infinite patience.

Above him, quite suddenly, the night screamed, but he didn’t move. He could sense the nervous shuffling of the man at his back. Below, in Mazar e Sharif a mushroom of fire exploded, then another and another.

In Russian, Abdullah said, “Bozh’ya strelki.” Arrows of God.

He nodded in agreement as the explosions lit the city in predetermined locations, some of which he and Abdullah had provided to the CIA. The noise was distant, muffled, and reached him several seconds after the silent flares on the landscape. Satellite guided bombs from B-2s or Tomahawk missiles were modern arrows of a sort, aimed from a distance and true on their mark.

The United States had begun exacting revenge for September 11, 2001.

NaNoWriMo Day 1

An excerpt from what I drafted today for this year’s NaNoWriMo project, Meeting the Enemy – Book 2: Retribution, Chapter 1, “Twilight in the Tunnels”–

“Alexei,” Sergei said, hand on his brother’s arm, “don’t go out there.”

“I’ll be fine, Sergei. I trust her with my life. If I didn’t she wouldn’t be with me. Besides,” he said, lowering his voice and smiling, “she likes me in bed. We’ll be drinking vodka together, soon, brother. Don’t worry.”

Sergei gripped Alexei’s shoulders with both hands. “Alyosha, I’m sorry for the things I said, about you being a traitor…”

“No need for sentimentality, brother. All that’s in the past. Now, no one is going to die here except maybe that presumptuous Muj out there, eh?” He released his brother before the emotion rose too high. “What do see out there, Mai?”

She waited until he was beside to answer in a low tone. “Just the one,” she said. “What did you say his name was?”

“Osama bin Laden.”

(c)2013 by Phyllis Anne Duncan

Friday Fictioneers and NaNoWriMo

I’ll make a brief appearance here for Friday Fictioneers, then I’m back to the word count for National Novel Writing Month. I think this year, I’ll pull a paragraph from what I’ve written that day and post it here, and comments are welcomed.

Friday Fictioneers LogoToday’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt is a little fishy, as in a picture of fishes, koi to be specific, and it brought to mind a hotel I stayed at on the Hawaiian Island of Maui, I believe. The hotel had been around for decades and was surrounded by a moat full of koi. Guests could feed them, and I remember being amazed at the size of them. I don’t know why that surprised me because I know they’re essentially carp, and I’d seen some huge carp in the Washington Channel. At this hotel, when we’d scatter koi food for them, the smaller, younger ones would go into a feeding frenzy while the bigger, older ones swam around the edges waiting for bits of food to get splashed their way. It seems for koi, too, with age comes wisdom.

That memory led to the story “Lure of the Nishikigoi.” As usual, if you don’t see the link on the title, scroll to the top of the page, click on the Friday Fictioneers tab, then select the story from the drop-down list.