November is “National Novel Writing Month.” The idea is to write a 50,000 word book during the month of November. I’ve sorta kinda tried this before. I committed to it a few years back, worked at it for a few days before crashing and burning. This year I’m not going to actually commit to it, but I decided I will begin the process and see how far I get. If I hit an impenetrable road block I don’t intend to beat my head against it. I’ll simply turn back to one of my many other projects.

To reach 50,000 in a month, you have to write at least 1,600 words per day. My non-goal goal is 2,000 words. That way, on the days where I don’t make it, I’ll have those other days to help me out. I know, it probably won’t work. But for today it did. I had to get up early, write during lunch and through the evening to make it work, but I did it. I might not make it tomorrow though. That kind of sustained commitment seems unlikely.

That said, here’s what I came up with for today. It’ll all need serious revision, but I made my word count:

 

Doug woke to the terrifying sound of a dive-bombing Junker Ju 87. He flinched, expecting to be hit at any moment by shrapnel , but the shrapnel never came.

He staggered to his feet in the blink of an eye, uncertain where he was or from what direction the bombs might come. He couldn’t remember where he was or how he’d gotten there. The last thing he remembered was… he couldn’t remember the last thing he remembered.

Though his eyes were still closed, he noticed he wasn’t wet or dirty. Perhaps he wasn’t still on the beaches after all.

He opened his eyes. A quick glance at his surroundings was enough to tell him that he couldn’t possibly have actually just heard the infamous screams of Nazi dive bombers. Those demons were from a far away time and place that couldn’t possibly be here or now. The here and now was much too cold, sterile and somehow weightless for those half-remembered long ago European battlefields.

He found himself standing—or more accurately floating—in the middle of a narrow corridor six feet across. Efficiently packaged equipment modules lined the walls that spun gently before his eyes. Above him at the end of the corridor just six feet away was a closed hatch. He reached for it, but found that it was beyond his grasp. He next tried to stop the spinning sensation by grabbing hold of the wall, but found it too was out of range. He was effectively centered in the hallway, beyond the reach of anything, with no means of controlling his own movement. For all intents and purpose, he was a prisoner, contained by the chilly air surrounding his body.

Just then a small explosion rocked the structure, and Doug found the wall rushing forward to meet him. He collided head first into a small computer array built into the wall, cracking the screen, but improbably not his head. As he began to drift away from the wall again, he managed to snag hold of the nearest module and steady himself.

Now that he was in contact with the wall (or was it the floor?), he could feel the shuttering vibrations from the impact as they slowly faded from the structure. Once the rocking motions ceased, Doug began the short awkward climb from one module to the next, up or along the wall to the hatch in the ceiling door.

Once Doug had climbed to the top (or end) of the hallway, he eyed the hatch desperately. He reached out for it and grabbed it with ease. Letting go of the wall, he hung on tightly to the latch. Though it was only a matter of perspective, Doug felt as though he were hanging from the hatch with a sixty foot drop beneath him. He worked furiously to open latch, but no matter how hard he turned or twisted, he couldn’t get the leverage necessary to open it.

After a few moments of useless struggle, Doug  noticed the handrail mounted on the wall beside the hatch. He grabbed hold of it with one hand while keeping firm hold of the latch with the other. Now that he had something sturdy and stable to anchor himself to, he opened the hatch with ease.

The smells, sounds and fear of Nazi dive bombers suddenly returned in all their intangible glory to Doug’s nostrils, ears and soul as he poked his head through the narrow entryway. And while there was still no sign of a Junker, the haunting omnipresent memory of danger remained.

Compared to the narrow confines he was now leaving, this new room was cavernous. A massive glowing cylinder dominated the large technological complex. Glowing amber stripes of light ran up and down the massive pillar. Doug could hear but not see people talking behind it.

“You are going to have to hold it together, Jerry. We want to take the power for ourselves, not rip it to shreds,” a woman complained.

“Almost there,” a timid sounding man replied.

The structure shook again, this time worse then before.

“Jerry!” The woman shouted. “You told me you could handle this. Do I need to get Norman to take over for you?”

“Now, Gloria, I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” a second man said.

The woman’s response was lost amid the next reverberation.

“Do you want to balance the power matrix yourself?” The timid man asked. “It’s actually a lot harder then it looks.”

“No, that’s okay. You’re doing fine, George,” the woman said as the shaking walls slowly stopped shaking.

Doug ducked back down into the hatchway as a man came floating out from behind the massive column. The man pushed off from the column, launching himself towards the far wall where a small window lay nestled between exposed electrical wiring.

“Where are they?” the man asked. “You’d think they’d be here by now.”

“Patience, Norm. My sources tell me the response time is twenty-two minutes,” the unseen woman, Gloria, reassured the watchful Norman. “The real question is, will we be ready for them when they arrive, George?”

“I’m doing the best I can here! This is a little more complicated then you let on,” the timid man complained.

“Well, do your best but hurry. They heard my ultimatum almost twenty minutes ago, and they’re bound to be upset. After all, we are endangering their entire existence here.”

As if on cue, the room began to shake again. “You see?” the woman said. “Right on time.”

A personage of transcendent radiance suddenly blazed into being in the center of the room. The figure stood erect in the middle of the empty open space, orientating itself to none of the three dimensions suggested by the interior space.

“GLORIA,” the apparently masculine figure said.

“Hello, Eric. Where are the others? Surely we’re enough of a threat to justify the entire team,” Gloria said with a small laugh.

“THIS ISN’T THE WAY TO BRING BALANCE TO THE FORCE,” the figure practically begged.

“You’re such a nerd, Eric. Only you would compare the power of this alien engine to Star Wars mumbo jumbo,” said Gloria.

The cylindrical column beside the godlike Eric began to glow brighter, actually outshining Eric’s own dazzling inner light.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING, GLORIA?”

Doug tried to look passed the light pouring off of Eric’s face. He couldn’t see Eric’s expression, but Eric sounded a lot more worried then a godlike being like him should ever sound.

“The process has started, just as you said it would. There’s no stopping it now,” Gloria gloated. “You’ve lost, Eric.”

The column began to emit a loud bass rumble as the light became blinding. Doug didn’t mind the light or the noise at first until suddenly his stomach erupted with pain. It was as if someone had taken a sharp metal hook and skewered his abdomen with it. The pain was so intense that Doug had to look down to make sure sure he was still in one piece. The reassuring sight of his untouched intact stomach did little to reassure him however. The pain drove out all other thought. He screamed.

Somewhere outside himself, a glowing man named Eric echoed Doug’s scream and magnified it tenfold.

For the second time in a handful of minutes, Doug woke up fearing the Luftwaffe.  Like before, he found himself alone, floating in the same narrow corridor as before, only this time he did so floating in a pool of his own vomit. Weightless unconsciousness wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. The hatch, which now lay just below his feet, sat twisted and blackened against the white wall.

Doug grabbed hold of a protruding wall module and flipped himself over, relying on muscle memory he didn’t even realize he had. He kicked out from the wall and propelled himself through the ruined hatchway and back into the cavernous room.

A solitary figure floated near the center of the room, curled up on itself. The massive column stood just behind the man, though the glowing light it emitted had grown much less then when Doug had last seen it.

Doug’s momentum remained still unchecked by gravity or obstacle as he sailed recklessly and relentlessly towards the fetal figure.

“Look out!” Doug croaked.

The floating man did not react as Doug sped towards him. Doug did everything he could to stop himself, but without something to grab onto or bounce off against, all he could do was flail about wildly as he came ever closer to collision.

In the end, the collision was more embarrassing then painful.

“Sorry, sir,” he told the unresponsive man as he worked to disentangle himself.

Careful to keep the other man at arm’s length, Doug grabbed the man by his shoulders and turned him around. Doug couldn’t tell who the man might be, whether he was Jerry, Eric or someone else entirely. Doug only knew he wasn’t Norman.

The man’s eyes fluttered open long enough for him to see and react to Doug’s face. “Commander Douglas! What are you doing here? Go! Before come back and enslave you again.”

“Enslave me?” Doug repeated.

“Go! Before they catch you!”

Doug stared stupidly at the man for a moment, unsure what to think or how best to react. At times like these, he wished he was quicker on his feet. Although he could not think back far enough to give examples of this, he was certain he was a better doer then he was a thinker.

The urgency in the man’s weakened gaze was enough to propel Doug into action. He searched the room looking for the nearest exit. Finding none, he remembered the long, unexplored (or at least unremembered) hallway below him. He grabbed the unresisting man and pushed him towards the ruined hatchway.

The man sailed out, headed in the general direction of the hatch. Halfway through the man’s flight, Doug realized that he was going to miss the hatch by several feet, so he pushed off from the column and raced to beat the other man to the wall. If he could get there fast enough, he would cushion the man’s impact with the wall. (Or was it the floor? In zero gravity, did it even matter what you called it?)

Unfortunately, Doug didn’t win this particular race. He was halfway to the wall himself when the other man rebounded off the wall and came hurtling back towards him. They collided in midair, their individual velocities nearly canceling each other out, leaving both men effectively stranded between floor, walls and ceiling.

With the other man groggy but watchful, Doug had to fight the urge to flail his arm and legs.

“What have you done?” croaked the man. “You’ve trapped us! Commander Douglas—”

“My name isn’t Douglas,” Doug interrupted. “It’s Doug Mitchum. And I’m no commander. I’m just some jerk who doesn’t know what’s going on or how I got here.”

The other man looked at Doug with considerable confusion. “How else do you think you got here? You came with us.”

“‘Us?’” Doug repeated. (It bares noting that Doug loved to repeat things when he wasn’t sure what was going on. He had this blind hope and faith that if he repeated a thing often enough, then somehow he would understand what it all meant. Unfortunately for Doug, this strategy never actually worked.)

“Yes, us,” the man repeated. “Gloria, Norman and me.”

“Your name is Jerry?” Doug realized.

“You really must have hit your head hard. You’re not talking any sense at all.”

At that moment Doug thought he could see as well as hear the Luftwaffe dive-bombers attacking again. Doug reacted without thought, shoving Jerry away. He pushed harder then he’d intended and Jerry struck his head hard on a computer console. Doug didn’t see this as he dived through the ruined hatch.

The narrow corridor rapidly fell away as Doug flew away from Jerry, invisible dive-bombers, and any hope at answers. He collided with another hatch at the far end of the corridor. Without thinking, he wrenched it open and rushed through, slamming the hatch closed behind him. He had entered a long narrow room set perpendicular to the hallway he’d just come through. A long tall window filled the opposite side of the room.

Beyond the window he could see the earth far below.