Monday, August 31, 2009

First Teaser of September

It's been slow as proverbial molasses on the WIP, this is from the first part. Katya and the good Lieutenant (Andrew) have finally reached the last pass, the one that marks the border between China and what was, then, India and is now Pakistan.


Katya shivered and paused to fasten her jacket. The trail seemed to go on forever, weaving across the loose stones as it climbed towards the pass. She no longer felt like talking. She just wanted to put her head down and get it over with. One of the pack ponies had stopped, its sides heaving.

“Keep going.” Andrew told her. “I’ll see to the pony.”

Katya saw no reason to refuse. She really wanted to be away from the barren, silent slopes. The roan followed her as she carried on. Once or twice, alongside the grey scatter of stones, she thought she saw bleached bones, heaped beside the track. It was a cheerless place. She kept walking, raising her collar to keep the rising wind from her face. After a while, she could only hear the roan’s shuffling steps behind her and paused.

Andrew was working his way up some way behind her, shooing the black pony in front of him. Katya waited, trying to draw as much air as she could into her lungs. She leaned against the roan, feeling light-headed. A dull ache nagged at her forehead.

“Are you all right?” Andrew asked, as he fell into step beside her once more.

“No. I think the altitude is beginning to get to me again.”

He looked up the slope. “It’s all right. We’re nearly at the top. Do you see the stones?”

Little black spots floated across Katya’s vision but she could make out the cluster of stone pillars about fifty feet away. “Yes.”

“That means we’re nearly there. The worst will be behind us.”

“Thank heavens for that.” She took another deep breath, it seemed a lot of effort for a meager lungful of air. She curled her hand into the roan’s mane and struggled on. Her legs felt heavy and her head light. She was convinced that, if it wasn’t attached to her neck, it would float off.

“Here, let me help you.” Andrew’s arm slipped around her waist. “You’re doing splendidly.”

Katya leaned against him, as much for the warmth as for the support. It did feel easier. She liked being close to him. There was something solid and comforting about his nearness and she felt that odd little tug in her gut once more when she looked at him.

The final few yards seemed to take forever. Beyond the pillars there was a small stone hut.

“Let’s rest here a little while.” Andrew told her. “We can wait for the horses to catch up and let them catch their breath.”

Katya slumped onto the bench inside the hut, glad to be out of the wind. The light was rapidly draining from the day. The cliffs were dark and the wind sang through the tumbled boulders. She clenched her teeth to stop them from chattering.

“Are you cold?”

She nodded. “A little.”

“We shouldn’t sit for too long. It’s best to keep moving.” He put his arm around her shoulder. “Does that help?”

“Yes.” Katya fought a sudden urge to rest her head on his shoulder.

They sat in silence, Katya listened for the shuffle of horses hooves. The roan had kept pace with her. He stood in the door way, watching her hopefully. He turned away and whickered as the remaining horses approached.

“Are you feeling a bit better now?”

“I think so.” Katya didn’t want to get too comfortable. It would’ve been too easy to fall asleep.

“Let’s get going then.” Andrew rose, took her gloved hand and pulled Katya to her feet. “I’d like to get over the next bit before the snow or rain starts.”


  1. Okay, Katya's exhaustion is crystal clear and I get sleepy reading the description! Very vivid portrayal of what it's like when a person is worn to the bone. I love how you always have a nice interplay of "what if" going on between your male and female characters. Are they going to kiss...are they not? How do they feel about each other? It definitely makes me want to read more, to be sure! Excellent job, missus!!

    xoxo -- Hilary

  2. You paint a vivid picture with your words. I can always envision the scene so well. And I agree with Hilary, I enjoy the what-if factor.

  3. I'm enjoying their burgeoning relationship. When/if they are torn asunder, it's really going to hit me. He comes across as very steady, very heroic. Even without knowing he's a soldier I can picture that erect posture as he holds out his hand. Good job,Sue.

  4. Great sense of how exhausted she's feeling! And I like the connection between the two of them--I'm waiting for something more to happen (wink wink!)

    Tiny nit-pick--I feel like the "It was a cheerless place" line diminished the horror of seeing what she thinks are bleached bones just prior to it. I don't think you need it--JMO. :)

    Really well-done--I'm eager to read more!

  5. Personally, I kinda liked the line "It was a cheerless place"... but that's just me ;)

    I can only echo everyone elses' sentiments on the writing, the descriptions, etc. You've done an awesome job, yet again. :D

  6. Its beautiful and tight with a wonderful sense fot the scene, the people, the ponies, etc. You manage to convey quite a bit with very few words.

    I'd say that my main concern with this piece, or just the snippets I've read so far from it, is pacing. Gorgeous writing, vividly drawn scenery and characters but I'm not get much of a sense for the story, the action, etc.

    Again, so hard to judge from just a few teasers so I could very easily be out of my gourd, but it crossed my mind so I thought I'd mention it.

  7. I really like the way your developing their relationship. And the description is so vivid I feel like I'm losing my breath as I read. Excellent!

  8. I'm totally loving the growing connection between these two: as with all your writing, there's such a lovely sense of *longing* in it.

  9. Thanks, Purgies!
    There's still alot of work to be done on this. HR, I agree about removing the "cheerless place", it ain't necessary.
    Gretchen, good point, there's some stuff I'll be adding in the second go-round.
    As for Andrew and Katya, Hope, you may need a stout hankie at some point in the future. :(