National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) takes place every November, when aspiring authors attempt to write a 50,000+ word novel within 30 days. This means averaging 1,667 words per day.
My 360 odd blog posts to date have averaged 1,246 words per day, so it shouldn't be too much of a stretch for me to write a bit more each day and achieve the goal. Plus, I have the support & encouragement of all the other authors who are taking part in this challenge.
Since leaving school, I have done very little creative writing, so a whole novel may be rather more difficult than I anticipate.
Hijacking my blog for the next 30 days seems unusual, but the general advice to authors is "write about what you know" so you may find that my novel is a natural extension of my blog, in actual fact.
Anyhoo, the working title of my novel is "Poste Restante" and without further ado, I shall begin #writing.
1. The Caravan
Neil's consciousness sparked back into existence. This was not like waking up, as if he had been dreaming. This was not like coming round after an operation in hospital, under general anaesthetic. It was much more akin to a sudden re-ignition of his brain activity, after head trauma, perhaps after being knocked out cold by a punch or a blow to the head with some other blunt object.
At first, Neil's mind was confused; everything was jumbled up. He could make no sense of what was going on. His thinking was cloudy; cognition impaired. Then, the blurry mess and unfamiliar shapes that had previously filled his field of vision now came into sharper focus. He started to see things in his surroundings that he could identify, even though he still didn't know where he was or why he was there.
Neil lay on a bed at one end of a caravan. The bed filled the width of the caravan and extended all the way to the bedroom door, which was wide open. At the opposite end of the caravan was a dining table, surrounded by a U-shaped bench of seating, with the windows behind. The bench was upholstered with a pink floral pattern. The table had a wood veneer, although it was clearly made of chipboard, which was exposed around the edge. A small kitchenette was on one side and a toilet and shower cubicle was on the other, as well as the outside door.
The interior of the caravan was not in good condition. Mildew stained everything. The ceiling had dark black patterns where the permanent dampness had allowed everything that was water permeable to fester in the moist atmosphere. The carpet, which seemed to have been some sort of dark maroon colour originally, was soggy and stained. Mud was trodden into the pile of the carpet around the entrance to the caravan. The carpet had started to rot and there were patches of blue furry mould growing in places. A lightly coloured textured wallpaper peeled away from the walls in places, revealing a layer of polystyrene insulation, as well as the glue behind, which had now turned an orangey-brown colour as it had aged and dried.
The bedroom windows were covered by navy blue curtains. These had been neatly stapled to the wall below and at the sides, so that little light could penetrate through each of the three windows at that end of the caravan. Where the curtains hung on the curtain rail, a small amount of light crept in and it was clear that it was daytime.
The other windows had been covered with self-adhesive opaque plastic, which allowed light into the caravan, but you could neither see in nor out. The plastic had been applied with little attention to detail: there were air bubbles and the edge had been cut rather raggedly, exposing some of the clear glass near the white plastic window frames. Paper masking tape had been applied around the edges of the windows, to cover the gaps between the plastic and the frame. The large window at the opposite end of the caravan from Neil had newspaper stapled above the curtain-less windows, draped down so that it covered two thirds of the window. On the left hand side, a bedsheet had been stapled above and at the side of the window. The staples were haphazardly placed and the sheet had folds and creases in it. The sheet hung hopelessly from the wall, no use as any kind of curtain. The staple-gun lay on the dining room table, abandoned almost accusingly as a useless tool for the job.
In places, there had been small craters scraped crudely in the polystyrene insulation of the walls, so that the thin aluminium exterior skin of the caravan was exposed. In each of these craters in the wall, a hole had been punched through the aluminium, so that now, a shard of sunlight shone into the dingy interior of the caravan. These beams were lit up by the swirling mists of the moisture within the caravan, almost like the silken threads of a spider's web, heavy with morning dew and shining in the sun.
Clothes were scattered throughout the caravan. Some were torn, others stretched or unusually knotted; all seemed ruined in some way. There was the debris of habitation: discarded food wrappers, dirty plates and cutlery on the floor. There were many other objects made of bits of broken plastic, rubber and string that seemed to be the twisted, mangled and knotted remains of other things that had been dismantled, torn, bent and otherwise manhandled to the point that they were no longer clearly identifiable as anything in particular. Things were strewn all over the floor, with no discernable pattern.
There were many containers that would hold liquid distributed around the caravan. Plastic bottles were filled with fluid in various hues of yellow and orange. Then there were mugs, saucepans, bowls and glasses that were filled with orangey-brown liquid. A glass on a shelf near Neil's bed had a layer of red at the bottom, then an opaque layer that was milky pale yellow and the topmost liquid - which filled the majority of the glass - was clear and brownish in colour.
After his sight, the second of Neil's senses that returned was his sense of smell. His nostrils were assaulted by a strongly pungent but not putrid smell. The smell was extremely unpleasant, but not so much so that it was causing Neil any feeling of nausea. In some ways, the smell had a kind of nasty allure, like a strong ripe cheese. There was the smell of mould, damp and decay of soft furnishings, mingled with the smell of bodily odour and distinctly, a smell of urine. Sweat intermingled with the general dampness of the interior of the caravan and ran down the walls in droplets. The windows were completely misted up with condensed moisture. The cheap sponge of the upholstery and bed had soaked up a lot of this foulness. Clothing and bedding had also absorbed some of the humidity from the air.
Neil's memory and the context of how he found himself in this position now returned to him. Things made little sense to him. They had found him; they had surrounded him; they had been readying themselves to storm his little stronghold and they would tear him from the private surroundings that he had attempted to create for himself. They had antagonised him; they had spent an incredible amount of time making noises and assembling themselves for the onslaught, the invasion of Neil's privacy, now that they had found him. They had hidden in the shadows and made themselves hard to ever clearly make out, but Neil had seen them. Fleeting glimpses, as he looked out of the peepholes he had created to allow him to look out. Counter-espionage. They were spying on him, so he would spy back at them.
Neil had no idea what their motivation was. Why was he so relentlessly pursued? Why were they so voyeuristic, wanting to intrude on his private world? Why were they so childishly antagonising? Why did they tirelessly toy with him, so close, but waiting and waiting before they made their move? He was angry with them. Quite rightly too. He had gone to such incredible effort to create a bubble of privacy, far from anybody he could possibly disturb, or who might happen upon him by accident. He was in such a remote hidden location. How could anybody possibly have taken offence at his presence?
His final memories before he blacked out were of a night filled with terror and blind panic as the forces he had tried so hard to avoid and evade were now making their final advances. All the dim shapes he could make out in the surrounding gloom of the trees were of many human figures, coming towards the caravan. He could see the movement of people in the shadows that danced on the ceiling and walls of the caravan. He could hear twigs snapping underfoot as they were stepped on. He could hear the sound of bushes being brushed past and branches being bent to make way for the advancing horde.
Then, he came round and they were gone. This was most confusing.
Tentatively, he started to try and sit up and make his way to one of his peep holes so he could look out. It was then that he realised that he had blacked out with his leg jammed extremely awkwardly underneath himself. His foot had gone to sleep. Incredible pain swept through his leg as the blood started to flow again and the feeling came back into his numbed limb.
There was momentary relief as the pain in his leg subsided, but then he started to be flooded with pain from multiple parts of his body. His hips ached, large parts of his legs seemed swollen, his back and neck were very stiff and painful; his body was covered with bruises and grazes, especially his knees and elbows.
In agony, Neil managed to prop himself up by the nearest of the peep holes and pushed his face up against the wall so he could look out. He saw nothing. Just trees. Where had they gone?
How long had he been unconscious for? It had been night time when he had blacked out and now it was daytime, but there was no way of telling whether it was the next day, or the one after that. He had lost all sense of time. Days and nights had blurred into one, although he knew with certainty that it had been dark outside before and now there was daylight.
Neil had spent a long time, afraid to leave the caravan. How long, he couldn't be sure, but he knew that they had laid seige to him and now his situation was desperate. He was dying in that caravan. He was so thirsty. He was in so much pain. It was clear now that there was a lot of blood in his urine. He felt so weak. He really didn't want to confront his persecutors and had hoped that they would act first so that he didn't have to make the decision. Now he was confronted with the dawning realisation that they had won. Surrender was his only option, if he wanted to live.
He collapsed back onto the bed to contemplate his next move, not at all able or willing to fully comprehend the staggering unpleasantness of the situation he was in.