It took forever for The Daily Post to update their Discover Challenge page and give us the first weekly challenge, but now that they have, it’s pretty exciting! Today’s is called Blogging the Senses, with a short prompt post to read by Cheri Lucas Rowlands, who “recently interviewed Erik Kwakkel, a book historian in Leiden, Netherlands, who blogs on the popular blog Medieval Books.”
I then, of course, took a look at this Medieval Books blog, but I had to tear myself away from that quickly; I think I could spend days browsing that blog! I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it here, but I do have another book on the back burner, a historical fiction story about a young Muslim scholar in 11th century Spain, who worked on the first Latin translation of the Qu’ran. I always wanted this blog to be exclusively about Finding Dragons, but who knows… maybe I’ll work on that some more this year too.
But enough stalling, on to the writing prompt!
In this week’s Discover Challenge, publish a post that appeals to one of the senses: hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste. You’re free to interpret this in any way, and publish in any format: prose, poetry, photography, audio, video . . .
I may not have thought this whole Tuesday thing quite through, actually, since my Tuesday evenings are jam-packed with commitments, like going to the gym and helping my friends to victory on our bar trivia league team… hmm. I’m going to take some time in between those tonight to write, and we’ll see what comes of it.
I had a burst of inspiration on my way from working out to the trivia bar, and then I found the perfect dragon picture for today. The writing isn’t from Finding Dragons, in fact it goes with the new story I started last Saturday, but I’m really okay with that. Enjoy!
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Right on the dot at five, Neeka joined the plodding line of wage slaves out of the gleaming glass lobby of the corp tower, just as she had for the past three years. She slipped the security earpiece from her slightly pointed ear and hooked the curving dragon ornament around it instead, pinning the tail through a lower piercing to secure it, and blinked to bring up her virtual display.
The images flashed in front of her as she turned the corner, veering off from the majority of the crowd shuffling towards the mag-lev stations and their shiny high speed trains that would take them out to the suburbs and their boring lives. The posting was still there, written in the underground code she’d grown up reading: A new race. Come one, come all.
She flicked her eyes to bring up the bus timetables as a couple of junkies started arguing with their dealer down a nearby alley in orkish, the words sounding like rocks being ground underfoot. Neeka crossed the street and rounded another corner, finding the stop for the first bus in the circuitous but most time-efficient route that would swing her by her apartment to grab her gear, and then get her to the makeshift track with time to spare.
The bus trundled up moments later, and she waited through the woosh of brakes and then too-loud, especially to her half-elf ears, beeping as the driver extended the ramp for an older woman waiting at the same stop. Then Neeka climbed on, touched her gopass to the terminal with another beep, and found a seat near the middle of the bus.
It was an older model, as she was heading to an older part of town, and Neeka sat and listened to the hum of the engine and the dull thuds the heavy tires made as they hit every seam in the cement road, which grew more and more potholed the further they got from uptown. She listened to the woman who had just gotten on greet two friends, and the three of them started speaking rapidly in high elvish, the musical tones washing over Neeka as she caught every fourth word or so.
At the next stop, the doors again hissed open and a large man with a lot of optional cyberware stepped on to the bus and coughed loudly, startling some of the passengers seated near the front. The man somehow managed to look menacing and apologetic as he touched his gopass to the terminal with a beep and carefully picked his way to an empty row of seats, his heavy steps thunking on the metal floor.
An automatic, tinny voice announced stops along the way, “Sixth Street… Rust Way… Coast Road…” The names were often drowned out by sudden bursts of music coming from further back in the bus, where the rulebreakers liked to sit. Snatches of vulger rap lyrics, strings of Spanish guitar melodies, twangs of East/Country songs would play for a few minutes and then die out among the laughter of teenagers, proud to be getting away with something.
The ding of the window chain being pulled to signal another stop, followed by the squealing of brake pads in desperate need of maintenance, and the bus glided to a halt again. The big merc coughed once again and Neeka shot him a quick glance, but he was sheepishly apologizing to the chatting women for interrupting their conversation and didn’t notice Neeka making her way to the exit door in the middle of the bus.
She could have gotten off at the next stop, but something was making her nervous, and she cast a casual glance toward the teens at the back of the bus as she pushed the button and the doors hissed open for her.
They were nothing out of the ordinary for the area, a motley assortment of humans, half-elves, and elves, and one ork taking up the entire back row, laughing and chatting, and even now blasting another musical interlude to the annoyance of the other passengers seated near them.
Hadn’t there been another person back there though, someone wearing a hooded sweatshirt? Neeka thought she would have noticed if they’d gotten off on an earlier stop, but her mind had been wandering, so maybe not. Shaking her head, she stepped off the bus and right into a squelching swath of mud just off the curb, her heeled boot skidding dangerously before she could catch her balance again.
Sighing, she hopped a step into a tiny nearby patch of brown scrub that passed for grass in this neighborhood, trying to scrape off as much muck as she could without having to examine it too closely. After a moment, the bus pulled away in a hiss of closing doors and loud woosh of engine brakes, and Neeka stepped onto the broken sidewalk to make her way towards her apartment, her boots now unevenly clicking as she walked.
She breathed normally, and walked at a normal pace for someone on their way somewhere, and kept her body language relaxed. But her heart was beating faster, and she blinked to bring up her virtual display again, trying to get a better sense of her surroundings.
Because even though the bus had been loud pulling away, it hadn’t quite been loud enough to cover the sound of another foot softly landing in the mud, even though when Neeka had discreetly glanced to the side, she hadn’t seen anyone else get off the bus behind her.
Continue the tale with the next chapter, Neeka’s Story: Discover Challenge – Chance Encounters…
This post is copyright © Jamie Lyn Weigt. All rights reserved. Please do not share without credit and a direct link back to this post and my site, writingdragonsblog.com.
Image credit – Today’s dragon, which I found helpfully wrapped around an ear to complement my chosen sense of hearing to write about today, is called the Dragon Ear Wrap, available for puchase at that link from ThinkGeek.com.