I am attempting to write a novel in the course of November. 50,000 words. That's 1,667 a day. I will probably be updating once a day, every day, so the cutoffs might not make a lot of sense-a day's writing may not be an entire scene. Here is day one: 1,779 words.
Jason Darling in: Forbidden Fruit
All but one of the fruits in this story are real. Everything else is fictional.
Jason Darling held the peach gingerly in his fingers. Trying though he was to be delicate, his thumb was almost piercing its skin. It was so ripe as to be almost rotten-its scent was already powerful enough to be smelled from several aisles over in the bustling marketplace, if you had a nose for that sort of thing, which Jason prided himself on having. His crooked, Semitic nose nicely matched his crooked, mischievous grin. He raised it to his lips, closing his eyes and inhaling the almost alcoholic smell. The old fruit vendor smiled an almost-toothless grin and said something which roughly translates as “Yes, you must appreciate her romance!” Jason nodded, not opening his eyes, and pushed the fruit into his mouth. It immediately exploded in juices, filling his mouth and dripping down his chin. The flavors were powerfully, sickly sweet. His earlier estimation was right; pungent alcohol vapors were already starting to form. A few more days and a few more peaches and it could get you drunk. He bit into the fruit, his teeth stopping just shy of the pit, and pulled the fruit away and sucked the flesh into his mouth with a twisting motion of his wrist. He stopped chewing and let it savor, unspoilt, on his tongue, for a few long moments, and then began to chew it slowly, appreciating the ease with which the textures morphed from one to another, releasing even more juices that he eagerly swallowed. He breathed in, swallowed his bite, and breathed out through his nose. An old sommelier’s trick, this coats the throat with the flavor and then the breath picks it up and pushes it through the nose, hitting the olfactory organs in the opposite order than sniffing it, and giving a unique, nasal quality that you can’t get elsewise. He sighed in contentment and opened his eyes.
“I’ll take them all. Do you have any prepared seeds?”
Jason stood in line at the border. Transporting these seeds across national lines is illegal, though most border guards don’t know that, and the ones who do are unlikely to be able to recognize them when mixed in with perfectly legal almonds, as these were. Still, Jason was nervous. There was an officer on duty whom he recognized from the market. He had wanted some of the fruit that Jason had bought the last of, and what’s worse, Jason suspected that he had accidentally picked up the soldier’s favorite bargirl the prior evening as well.
Finally, Jason arrived at the front of the line. The private inspecting his bag was bored and unconcerned, but was quickly pushed aside by officer, who gave Jason a malicious grin. Sorting quickly and roughly through his electronics, clothes, and other personal belongings, he came to the bag of mixed nuts. He pulled it out and held it up to the light so all could see, as though exposing an obvious bag of cocaine or a stolen artifact. Which, in a sense, it was.
“Well well, what do we have here?” he asked in surprisingly good, though heavily accented, English.
“Just some nuts,” replied Jason. “Those aren't controlled, are they? If they are, you can just throw them out,” he bluffed. The officer’s grin was cut short by the private lazily responding “nuts aren’t controlled, just seeds and animal products.”
“No, nuts are not controlled. If these are nuts, then you may go.” He stuck his grubby fingers into the bag, searching through it, until he came upon what he was looking for. Something that, to almost all appearances, was just another nut, but was in fact much more. It held the genetic key to the succulent fruits Jason had so savored earlier, and wished to share with his half of the world. It also contained a sizable dose of cyanide. “Prove they are nuts. Eat one,” challenged the officer, holding it up. Jason swallowed, looked at the seed, looked at the border, and edged his fingers towards his bag. The officer’s grin inched towards being a scowl, and he started reaching towards his truncheon.
Jason snatched his backpack in one hand, the seed bag in the other, planted his foot on the table, and vaulted over the officer. Or would have, if the officer hadn’t caught his ankle. Jason fell on his back, rolled to his side, and kicked the officer’s wrist, forcing him to let go. The other hand already held the truncheon and was swinging it in a vicious arc towards his head.
“Jason, Daaaaarling!” cooed the Contessa. Jason whirled around, flashing his once-lopsided but still winning smile. His recently healed injury had forced his jaw to be reset in a way that actually made his teeth line up more evenly. What remained of them, anyway-one of his top front teeth had been knocked clear out of his head, but the replacement silver tooth only served to make his smile literally dazzling. All in all, he considered it about the best possible result that could come from being hit in the head by an angry man’s stick.
What’s more, the arduous recovery process (eating nothing but juice and smoothies for months) had cured him of the habit of setting his teeth on edge when he heard his name pronounced as an affectation, as the Contessa was so fond of doing.
“Jason, darling, I haven’t see you in aaaaages! I’m so glad you came to my little soiree. There are so many people I simply must introduce you to! This is Jay Pottingham, he owns some bakeries that make the most delectable little fruit tarts you simply must try, you simply must. Do we have any here, Jay?” Mr. Pottingham opened his mouth to respond, but before he could he was cut off by the Contessa breezily moving on to the next person that Jason simply must meet.
The woman in red ran down the street, her heels striking up miniature tornadoes with every pounding footstep. Her heart was jackrabbiting as quickly as her feet, and she held her skirt up with both hands. She ducked down alleyways and around corners, occassionally daring to dart a glance behind her to see if her pursuers were still there. They were. Implacably, indefatigably, they were always there.
Jason reached over the Contessa’s head and exchanged his third empty champagne flute for a fresh one as a waiter walked past and raised the tray. The waiter and Jason exchanged a look which clearly communicated Jason’s thanks and the waiter’s intention to supply ample liquid entertainment for anyone forced to appreciate the Contessa’s social entertainment. The champagne, actual champagne, from the region in France, had a variety of small delicacies in it. The one Jason was currently taking generous sips from had a bed of crushed elderberries and was topped with a not wholly decorative elderflower.
Jason managed to extricate his non-champagne-holding arm from the Contessa’s by saying “I simply must try some of your hors d’ouevres, I do recall so enjoying them when last I was here.” The flattering of her ability as a host, plus the imitation of her speaking style, made her giggle, release him, pat him on the arm, and then forget all about him as she turned back to her other guests. Jason headed towards the balcony where he had last spotted the waiter with the food.
The woman in red ran into a blind alley. A wooden wall, topped in barbed wire, made it a dead end. She cursed, tore at her skirt, ripping more than half of it off, and launched herself up from the ground. She stuck the toe of her boot into a spot missing a brick in the wall next to her, pushed up again, and kit-katted over the wall. Her coat snagged and caught on the barbed wire, but she expertly let her arms be pulled backwards, in a way that would have painfully dislocated a less flexible woman’s shoulders, and landed on the balls of her feet. The stiletto heels of her boots didn’t touch the ground until she had already taken two more steps and rounded the corner.
Jason found the waiter and two more guests on the balcony, enjoying the frigid night air. Breathing in reminded him of drinking vodka: so cold it burned his throat, and sent shivers through his skin that made him appreciate the warmth he would soon return to. Soon, but not yet. It was actually a touch overwarm inside and he had been sweating-now, outside, his sweat was a mysterious combination of steam rising from his warm body and what felt like ice forming where the liquid remained. He grabbed a canape from the waiter and popped it into his mouth, and then another, for when he finished the first. He crunched on the salty snack, swallowed the remains of the biscuit, inhaled, remembering his last vodka feast, and sipped from his champagne. It didn't go with the snack. The other two guests spoke with each other in low, romantic murmurs, ignoring him. He recognized them: she was the wife of Lord Morris Wimbley, and he was the husband of... someone else. Jason marvelled at the fact that they seemed oblivious to the obviousness of their dalliance.
He leaned over the railing, peering down a dizzying height. It can hardly be said that the Alps sloped away from the lodge, a word which calls to mind a dune of sand, or a gentle, rolling hill-more, they fell away, as though the world itself were a beam cleaved with an invisible axe. Jason wondered at what had first possessed someone to build a home in such a seemingly inhospitable place. When a light appeared in the distance, he wondered more.
The woman in red ducked into a clothing shop hurriedly changed into a garb of local attire that, in addition to removing the obviousness of her sobriquet, also covered up her less clear though still identifying attributes. The shopkeep slept, reclining in a chair clearly not meant for that purpose. The woman no longer in red observed her for a moment, glanced out the window, picked up her old clothes, and exited through the rear of the store. Along the way, she deposited her old clothing on what appeared to be a pile of unwashed sheets, pulled a thin bill from under her new robes, and tucked it in the pocket of her old blouse. More than enough to cover the charge for her new clothes.
She exited into an alleyway, and, she hoped, anonymity.