I’ve been writing this story since 2009. It is the longest book I have; over 600 pages, and it still isn’t even close to being done. I’d like to split it up into a trilogy, but before I can submit it to an agent, I have a lot of editing to do. What do you think about this sample chapter? Think I have a shot at getting it published?
How do you face the morrow, when you are caught in the pain of the past? Can you move on? Can you forget the sorrow, the pain, and the bitter resentment? Or do you remain? Dwelling, soaking, in the memory of loved ones lost? What if the memory reoccurs in your nightmares? How would you find the courage and the strength to move on and fight for the safety of total strangers? There is only one answer: love. This is the story of my long-ago Grandfather, Lane Williamson.
A new day will always dawn. The sun over the beautiful land and the wind stirs the tree branches. A lark bunting whistles a soft song and then takes flight. A lone deer grazes in the meadow and a butterfly floats by, fluttering its soft yellow wings. The quiet of the morning is suddenly broken by the pounding of hooves.
A group of twelve horses race through the trees. The horses’ riders are sad and tired looking. They are the only survivors left from the terrible battle that was fought in the middle of their homes. They were all heavily dressed for a southern winter, not the northern summer.
No one saw them coming, just suddenly, they were upon them. There was no time to think, no time to prepare. With only the crudest of weapons, the villagers fought for their lives and for the lives of their families. One by one, they fell, leaving no one to defend the women, the children, or the elderly. Finally, the few people who were left fled for their lives, taking only a few of their belongings, with only the smallest hope of getting away. Every person who had escaped had lost at least one member of their family.
In the lead is a man with iron gray hair and a thinning moustache. Beside him rides a pale girl with long brown hair wound up into a loose bun. Behind them comes a woman clutching a baby, the arms of a small girl wrapped tightly around her waist. Close beside them rides two small boys on a swayed-back mare. Then there is a young man and an old woman. Behind them, there is a burly man and a dainty girl, each holding a small child in their arms. Behind them ride three young ladies who are fair skinned, dark eyed sisters. And last of all, comes a young man, tall, with black hair and miserable, smoldering, brown eyes.
These people have not seen any other human being in weeks. They have traveled for many, many miles. They were just about to abandon all hope of finding a civilized place to live in safety again, when suddenly, up ahead, they saw a small house! A woman leaned out one of the window and looked at them. A man stepped out the door, crossing his arms and frowning. There were two small children playing in the grass by the door, and a cow grazed contentedly in the tall grass.
As the people on the horses drew closer to the house, the man called out, “Greeting, my good people. How may I be of service to you?” The man in the lead pulled his horse to a stop and dismounted, favoring his left leg slightly. He shook the other man’s hand and said, “Greetings, sir. I am Jonas Donaldson. I humbly ask for food and water for myself and my people. We have traveled a far way, and we are weary.” The kindly man looked sympathetically at Jonas and said, “Of course sir. If you all would come into my house, my wife will get you something to eat. My name is Lukas.”
The people entered Lukas’ house and were warmly greeted by Lukas’ wife, Mary, who served them tea and small, white cakes. And while the weary travelers ate, Lukas asked them why they had come to travel so far from home. As Jonas told the unhappy tale, Lukas and Mary stared at them in horror. Mary breathlessly asked, “What attacked you?” Jonas cleared his throat and looked at the people around him before he said, “Our people knew them as the Evil Ones. No one knows who they are or where they came from, but wherever they go, they bring evilness with them.”
Mary bit her lip nervously and looked at her husband out of the corner of her eye. Lukas said, “I’m sure you will all be welcome in our village.” Jonas smiled and said, “Thank you; that would be a blessing to us all.” Lukas stood up and put on his hat. He said, “Jonas, if you will allow me to, I will escort you and your people to the village, and take you to the Mayor.” Jonas nodded and said, “Thank you.” Everyone stood up and mumbled their thanks to Mary, and then they went outside and mounted their now rested horses.
Lukas led them to a great stone house in the middle of a quaint, peaceful looking village. Lukas motioned to the door and said, “This is the Mayor’s house. Mayor Greg is a not very patient man, but I know he will not refuse you. Good luck and safe passage to you all!” Jonas shook hands warmly with Lukas and said, “And safe passage to you, my friend.” As Lukas rode away, Jonas and his people walked single file into the Mayor’s house.
The Mayor was a short, fat man with a big, round nose and small, beady eyes. He was sitting in a big rocking chair smoking a pipe. He motioned the people to enter, and curtly told them to sit down. Since there were no other chairs in the room, everyone had to sit on the floor. Two somber young ladies entered the room carrying large trays filled with cups of tea and tiny fruit tarts. A third girl entered the room carrying a big leather bound book, an ink well, and a quill pen.
The Mayor put down his pipe and surveyed the group of people before him with shred eyes. After a long pause, he spoke. His voice sounded like a thousand rasps grating across rocks. It was almost torture to listen to him. He said, “I do not know you. You are not from here. Why have you come, and are you planning to stay?” Jonas stood and bowed formally, saying, “Yes, Mayor, we want to stay. We are from a village far from here. We have traveled here because our village was attacked, and we are the only survivors.”
The Mayor rasped, “If what you speak is true, and since you have nowhere else to go, I cannot turn you away. You are welcome here. Now, I shall need to know your names.” Jonas said, “My name is Jonas Donaldson,” and then he pointed to the brown haired girl who was always by his side, saying “and this is my daughter, Lucille.” Jonas pointed to each person in turn, naming them, and last of all, he pointed to the tall young man with the sad eyes and said, “And this is Lane Williamson.” The girl with the book scribbled down all their names, then bobbed a curtsy, and hurried out of the room. “Now,” the Mayor continued, “my sons will escort you to the village and find you a place to stay.” Jonas bowed again and said, “Thank you, sir,”
Three young men led the people out of the house and through the village. Many of the village people opened their homes to the weary strangers, and in the end, the only one who still had nowhere to spend the night was Lane Williamson. The Mayor’s sons asked many people to take him in for the night, but they all refused, apparently thinking he looked like a troublemaker.
As the sun went down, the Mayor’s sons turned to go home. One, the youngest, called back over his shoulder to Lane, “Good luck, we hope you will find a place to sleep.” Lane trudged off through the twilight, looking for a hay stack or a deserted barn in which he could sleep.
*** To be Continued ***