Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Morning Exercise #1: A Tale of Neptune

Fiction writing doesn't come naturally to me, probably due to natal Mercury in down to earth Capricorn, but I felt a need to get away from talk of elections and politics so decided to try something completely different: a little fiction writing practice. Some suggestions at Wake Up Writing got me started, what follows is my first attempt. (Warning: others may follow in due course). I've added an extra challenge: to include a little astrology.

Use all of the following 10 words in a piece of fiction or non-fiction:


THE RESULT: (specified words highlighted bold)

What was once a shrubbery was now a disgrace, an overgrown tangle of vegetation, grown to well over 6 feet tall, rotted and fresh mingling and meshing overhead, forming a multi-hued canopy.

Petra threw down the hose in disgust after watering a bed of squash, herbs and salad vegtables grown lovingly in the sun for flavor. She took a few steps into the shady tangled area, glad to move out of the scorching heat for a while, began pulling dead stalks and pushing slim branches aside. A sudden sharp pain to her ankle caused her to stop, wince and reach down thinking she'd been bitten. Instead she found her fingers wet with blood, and a sharp edge of metal protuding from the dense undergrowth.

On her knees she pushed aside the weeds to uncover what appeared to be a rusting metal cube. She lifted the object from its half buried resting place and returned through the sunlight, limping, back to the house.

Petra and her family had arrived here in the midst of an uncharacteristically severe winter, followed by a monsoon of a spring. Only now had the weather turned amicable enough for her to properly explore the rambling grounds of the historic house they had beggared themselves to own. It stood on the edge of rolling hills, far from urban sprawl and polluted air, probably the first structure to blot the virgin Texas landscape of two hundred years ago.

After attending to her damaged ankle, Petra wiped the rusty cube and investigated the possibility of a lid. If lid there was, it was either rusted shut or locked. With a nail file she prodded various ridges and indentations. After exhausting all possibilities, reaching to put the cube on a nearby table it slipped from her grasp to the floor and, magically, a lid flew open.

The contents fell, sliding a little way across the polished wood floor. A rolled piece of vellum, skidded across the oak boards, and what looked like a medallion or large coin spun, rattled and fell flat, disclosing a web of markings.

Petra retrieved the items. As she handled the cold metal and smooth parchment she shivered unaccountably. The vellum roll was secured by a piece of hempen cord which she carefully untied, wondering how long it was since hands had secured it. The vellum felt stiff, she unrolled it with care. Beautiful script covered the inner surface, with some glyphs and a few figures. The only word Petra could easily decipher was "Neptune" in illuminated letters center page. The circular metal object had been crudely engraved with glyphs, and again the word "Neptune".

From Petra's knowledge of astronomy she recalled that Neptune, the planet, was discovered in 1846, but these items and their container seemed older, by at least a hundred years, maybe more. She resolved to take the items to a local museum for advice, next time she visited the city.

Five years passed. Surveyors applied for a license to explore for oil on the land attached to Petra's house, and found evidence of large deposits.

Petra never did take the objects she had found to a museum, but she did go on to study astrology, discovering along the way that planet Neptune is said to rule oil.

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