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NaNoWriMo 2016
As a writing community, I'm sure many of us have heard of NaNo. For those who haven't, NaNo is a personal writing challenge. The goal is to write 50,000 words for a novel starting on November 1st, ending on November 30th, which averages out to roughly 1667 words a day. There's no prize, but you do get personal satisfaction and a lot of writing done if you complete it on time.

I'm intending to try the challenge this year. Since I'm out of school and not working, I at least have the time for it if I try. I've attempted the last few times but never stuck to it, but hopefully this time will be different! I shared one of my potential novel ideas last night with a couple folks, and it had positive reception, so I think I can at least plan something out.

Anyone else planning to play? What kind of story do you have in mind? Any strategies you use? Feel free to share!

Best of luck to all contenders!

Forget About What I Said
Henry's surprise was visible.

Truth be told, he'd mostly expected the entire group to decline the suggestion to share. Looking out for number one, as Matt had said. But Ben and Nate had both offered to share, and Henry now felt conflicted. He'd intended to steal from them, after all! How could he now accept their food anyway, now that it was offered willingly?

He smiled, though. He was still starving. "Thanks guys, I really appreciate it. Mind if I sit?" Not waiting for an answer, Henry plopped down onto the ground, relieving his sore legs of their post.

"As for my stuff, well uh..." Henry paused. He could tell the truth, but the truth was embarrassing. Modified truth seemed more fair to him. "I lost it yesterday, it uh, got left behind when some guys chased me. I'm not hurt or anything, luckily, but uh, yeah."

He looked down at the bags again.

Early Morning in the Garden of Good and Evil
Well. That guy existed. And, as Blair was reminded in an unexpected pang of realism and regretting her snide nature, would not continue to exist for very long.

But whatever. He wasn't a concern. Sandra, though...Blair wasn't too upset about Sandra. Poor Noah looked so worried, though, that she had to throw him a bone.

"Hey, look. If we stay here and Sandra was following us, it's more likely she'll find us. Other people too, but like you said, they'll be looking for shelter, right? Not murder. We'll be safe for today, I think. Besides, if we don't know what's up with Sandra tomorrow, we can look by the south shore from last night. She might go back for something or, I dunno, to find us too."

Blair reached over to pat Noah reassuringly. "We'll be okay. Don't worry, dude." She grinned wryly, then pulled her hand back as she started coughing vigorously. Another grim reminder that for her, the time left was short in more than one way.

Clearing her throat of the phlegm, Blair moved into the room and flopped onto the bed. It was not especially comfortable, but whatever. A bed was a bed. "So, you wanna set up camp here for the day? We can look tomorrow. And I'm tired." With that, Blair stretched out onto the bed and yawned.

((Blair Moore continued in Let's Awaken, By the Day))

Down the Rabbit Hole
The atmosphere became uncomfortably morose.

Alice wondered what the other two were thinking. Contemplating mortality was an unpleasant activity, but there wasn't much else to be done, especially if you wanted to avoid drawing attention to yourself. Even searching for well-liked school companions put one at risk.

Off-hand, Alice was sure none of her good friends had shown up on the announcements as killers. They were safe, for what it was worth. But Alice didn't think she'd be able to find any of them. She liked to think she kept good company, so her friends were likely to be sensible enough to avoid danger.

But bad luck and fallibility made that a risky bet. Alice could go hunting for them, but she'd likely not encounter them before...And worse, if she did, what then? They could be comforting to each other, but eventually one or both of them would die. And leave the other alone and despairing.

Alice realized she'd been quiet for several seconds. She glanced up at the others, then moved over to get her bag. An idea had occurred to her. A new plan, riskier, not much more fulfilling, but meaningful all the same. She'd find her friends, ideally Bryony, whom she was closest two. She'd help them survive, as best she could. And hopefully, if her original plan could still be held two, one or even more would survive.

"I'll be going, then." Alice said, trying to sound more confident. "I ah, want to find my friends. Hopefully we can survive together." She smiled slightly, another show of self-assurance, and headed through the doors past the two.

((Alice Baker continued-))

Alice stopped a few feet out the door. "Oh! You're welcome to join me if you like!" She called behind her. Then she departed, hoping with every step that she was making the right choices here, with however much time was left.

((Alice Baker continued in Last Days))

Forget About What I Said
Friendly, welcoming people! Henry had seen several people like that.

It scared him.

He didn't want these people to die. As he stood there, smiling pleasantly and looking at the two guys inside the box-filled room, he recognized that their survival was directly opposed to his own. One of them would outlive all the others. Ben, Nate, Matt, Henry; one, if any, of these four would survive.

Henry didn't know if he could will himself to be that one.

Still smiling, Henry stepped past Nate into the room, where his eyes locked onto the pile of bags off to the side. Henry casually made his way towards the pile, looking over at Nate. "So how you guys been doing? I've not seen too much bad stuff, luckily. Still, better safe than sorry, right?"

Henry stopped in front of the bags. He smiled sheepishly. "I uh, did lose my stuff though. Haven't eaten all day which is, you know, yeah kinda sucky. Mind if I borrow some protein bars or something?"

He chuckled, awkwardly. "Not borrow, really, but uh, yeah, eat. And then, later, you know. I assume you don't want them back! But no seriously," His cheer faded. "That sound okay? I'm a little desperate." He made a gesture with his fingers indicating smallness.

Early Morning in the Garden of Good and Evil
"Yeah, I want to hear his story. Dunno what happened to put him so out of it."

Blair shrugged, looking back and forth at Rene and Noah. They still seemed intent on finding Sandra. which was Blair was...less than enthused about. At this point, knowing people were literally dying, Blair didn't want to hang around people she didn't fully trust and contributed nothing to her survival.She was somewhat tempted to point out the issue with this.

Eh, fuck it.

"Hey, listen. About Sandra. I don't think we're gonna find her. It's not exactly hard to follow people, and I don't think I remember seeing her with us when we got woken up." Truth be told, Blair was slightly exaggerating that; for all she knew, Sandra really had gotten lost. But this was a possible solution, and it'd solve Blair's problem. So this was now the story.

"I think-wait, did you hear that?" A voice, faint and barely discernable, coming from behind her. "Is he up?" She turned around and looked into the doorway at the sleeping boy.

Down the Rabbit Hole
It was, perhaps, fortunate that Alice's experiences, while frightening and stressful, had mostly been so from her own fears and insecurities, rather than any actual threat to her well-being.

Keith had been with a boy who was now dead, murdered by someone named Jasmine. From his reaction, Alice wondered if he'd witnessed the killing in person. Dreadful, and traumatic. The poor guy. Sandra meanwhile, had encountered the girl Kimiko before the mute girl had killed someone. Kimiko had even gotten an award of some sort according to the terrorists. Disgusting.

Alice stared at her feet as the two explained themselves. She felt ashamed, really, ashamed and mortified by the fates these two people had experienced, while she'd griped and worried and fretted. Danger was about, to be sure, but there was no reason for Alice to be a ball of anxiety like she was.

"I...I'm sorry guys." She bit her lip. "That's terrible, for both of you. I..." She trailed off.

Early Morning in the Garden of Good and Evil
((Skipping approved by RC))

Standing up, Blair irritably brushed wooden shards from her shirt and shorts, looking over at the kid, who to her surprise was still laying there. Was he actually asleep? Damn, must've gotten involved in something fucked. Or done something fucked. Hopefully not that though.

Looking around the room, Blair opted to leave the room and make sure the other two knew she hadn't randomly gotten ganked by the guy. She stepped out into the hallway, and was pleasantly surprised to find Noah and Rene after a couple steps. They both seemed pretty upset. Blair couldn't imagine why.

"Hey, sorry. That guy is somehow asleep, and I'm okay. I sat in a shitty old chair and it exploded, though." Blair's voice was quiet; she didn't want to overexert again. Especially since, if she was right, she was going to be in big trouble by tomorrow.

"What should we do?"

Down the Rabbit Hole
Alice nodded at Sandra. "Yeah. Sorry for the inconvenience, I was scared someone less friendly might come in."

Alice didn't know Sandra off-hand, but she was looking at Alice funny, which made Alice vaguely uncomfortable. Keith seemed more inviting somehow, so Alice addressed Sandra's question to him.

"I ran into a couple people before. Uh, Johnny McKay, Raina Rose, Aiden...Green..."

Scarlett.

Alice tensed up. She'd seen the poor girl yesterday. How long after had she died? Minutes, hours? Impossible to say. Had Alice's decision to flee the scene led to Scarlett's demise? That question might plague Alice the rest of her, probably short and frightful, life.

"That's it I think. Oh, and Jeremy Frasier and Scout uh, something. Them as well. What about you two?"

Forget About What I Said
Distracted by the presence of an interesting arachnid, Henry was unaware of the door opening until the person spoke up. Surprised, Henry adjusted his posture so he was kneeling instead of being awkwardly perched on his palms and tiptoes. Blinking, Henry studied the boy standing above him.

Well, not above him by much. Nate Turner was quite small, and while Henry personally found it kind of adorable, he didn't know much about the guy. He was a soccer player or something? That was about it. Nate was pretty quiet, and Henry rarely learned much about quiet people. Apparently his vocab was intimidating or something.

Still, Nate might be willing to let him into the room, and if there was food there...Well, it hadn't occurred to Henry how hungry he was. He'd last eaten...a while ago. He might've had a protein bar or something yesterday before he left the shoreline, but it was unlikely. His stomach was empty, and it hurt! He'd had a hunger pang about an hour ago, and he'd doubled over from the unexpected pain. Plus, he was starting to get a headache.

Henry stood up. "Hi, I'm Henry. Sorry to startle you, I was looking at this, uh, really cool spider." Henry scratched the back of his head and grinned. He'd never been one to feel awkward, but now was apparently a good time to start. Nate might not take well to his amateur arachnology when people were dying and all.

Henry tried to peer into the dark room behind Nate. He didn't see anyone off-hand, but it'd be good to be sure. "Are you alone, or what? Oh, not that I'm, like, gonna attack you or something. Even if you are alone. That'd be rude. Yeah." Henry smiled sheepishly.

V6 Third Rolls
Ah, unfortunate.

I'd really appreciate a hero of course, I think Blair could really do some cool stuff if she makes it further. That being said, death ideas for any of my kids would be appreciated, since I don't know if I'll swap or not. I'm leaning towards no for now, but we'll see!

So yeah, heroes or deaths for Alice, Henry or Blair!

Down the Rabbit Hole
"No, please, ssstay away!" Alice gasped, holding her hands out un a useless attempt at protecting herself.

A moment passed. As she recovered her wits enough to actually hear and comprehend what the two were saying, Alice felt herself flush red with embarrassment. She looked at them, concern written plainly on their faces, unarmed. It seemed her reaction was, for lack of a better term, an overreaction.

Giving a small, sheepish smile, Alice lowered her hands. "Ah, uh, sorry about that. You startled me and I...fell down."

Alice onto one knee and managed to stand up without tripping despite the aching pain in her hips. Hopefully she didn't bruise her tailbone.

"Sorry." She said again.

Early Morning in the Garden of Good and Evil
Blair was too out of breath to notice Alessio approaching until he walked directly past her, at which point she tried to call out to him, only to lose her wind and resume panting from overexertion. Her stamina was pretty awful even though she was reasonably fit, and running exacerbated it more than other exercises. Swimming too.

Unfortunately, Blair had a suspicion that more running was going to happen in the near future. Hopefully not followed by dying, but she had no control over that.

As Alessio entered the cabin, Blair looked back and forth at Noah and Rene, and without saying anything, turned and followed the guy. For one, he was being weird and Blair didn't like or trust that, and also she needed to sit down before she passed out. That'd be unpleasant.

Marveling at the impressively large lodge (though the tiger-skin rug was perhaps the chintziest decoration imaginable, not to mention anti-conservationist as hell), Blair followed Alessio, unable to speak, her throat burning, her chest still aching. She didn't exactly make an effort to be sneaky, as her wheezing breath wouldn't make that a pointless endeavor. Still, she kept about ten feet of distance, just to be safe.

Then Alessio did something unexpected. He walked into a room and laid down on the bed. Blair figured he must've been really tired or incredibly audacious to pull that kind of stunt. There was a chair in the corner of the small room, and Blair collapsed into it.

Literally. The chair shattered under her.

Letting out a pained gasp, Blair slammed her butt onto the wooden floor. "Damn..." She hissed. Her breath was still uncaught, but she could at least talk a little now. Instead of saying anything to the other person in the room, though, Blair just pulled her knees up to her forehead and groaned.

Forget About What I Said
((Henry Spencer continued from To Dine With the Devil))

It was maybe a bad idea to rob someone unarmed. But Henry had a plan for that. Sort of.

It was a little tougher than he'd expected to make his way down (or up? the map had implied up) the island towards the asylum. But he managed, and besides, that's where people would be. Also he had no clue what the place looked like now, so he miiiiight have wandered in by chance. Oops.

It was creepy in the asylum, but Henry liked it. The spooky, decaying place made him think of a haunted house or a film, not something he'd find dreadful in the real way he'd felt from being here. He heard noises, tiptoeing (perhaps with greater exaggeration than necessary) towards the source of the sounds, which seemed to be descending from above him.

It was maybe kinda sorta not the brightest idea to knock on the door of the huge closet thing when he heard noises from outside. But if he was intending to take people's stuff, he didn't have to be a jerk about it, right? He could just...meet up, hang out, and if they weren't accommodating to his biological need for food and beverage he'd slip off with some essentials to survive on. That was okay, right?

Oh, look, a spider! It was huge, like half an inch long, and light brown. Henry crouched on his knees with his face inches from the floor, studying the spider as it skittered about in the gap under the door. He watched as the little arachnid scuttled under the door and out of sight.

Early Morning in the Garden of Good and Evil
((Blair Moore continued from Why Y'all Gagging?))

Blair had struggled to keep up with the other two when they ran from potential detonation. Her lungs ached, and she gasped and wheezed, unable to get sufficient oxygen as quickly as she burned it. When she'd woken up, having slept like a log despite the day she'd had, she'd realized something quite dreadful; she was getting sick.

Still, she'd realized Sandra was gone as soon as they'd left. Blair was distracted by the whole 'you might explode' thing, but Sandra was an athletic person, and Blair doubted that anyone but Blair would have been bringing up the rear. Was that good? Maybe. Sandra had started to grate on Blair a bit, but if she was in danger, that would still suck.

Falling to her knees in exhaustion, Blair gave a weak salute as she arrived at what looked like a weird cabin of some kind. There were like, stuffed heads and shit. Blair glanced at the other two, her suspicions confirmed.

"Sandra's...not...here...." She managed.

Down the Rabbit Hole
The door was beginning to open, the ties starting to stretch and break. Someone was definitely trying to get in, and Alice didn't know what to do. Had she trapped herself? The other door was tied, too, and Alice was terrible at undoing knots.

Trying to keep from hyperventilating, Alice attempted to rationalize the situation as the person pushed in. Were they going to hurt her? No way to tell, but if their intentions were good, why use force to enter? Alice was in danger, she was sure of that. She looked around feverishly, stepping away from the door in the process.

There were no flower vases, no urns, nothing she could use to protect herself with. Her bag was too heavy to throw with enough force, and her bunting was wasted now. Wait, the stained glass! Perhaps she could-

The floor gave way. The worn, partly-rotten wooden beam snapped under the sudden weight of Alice's slight frame. She stumbled, fell back and slammed the back of her head against the floor as she landed.

Dazed, Alice tried to sit up and nearly vomited as the room spun. She laid back, spread-eagle, and squeezed her eyes shut, whimpering.

Down the Rabbit Hole
((Alice Baker continued from Two Mules for Sister Sara.))

Alice took the bunting and cumbersomely cut it in half with scissors in the medical kit. Then she tied the two doors shut at the handles. A makeshift shield against the outdoors, and whomever might be lurking there.

It was foreboding, spending the night in a chapel. Alice explored nervously; though she knew very real threats existed in her vicinity, she found herself vividly picturing horrible things jumping out of the darkness at her. A silly, childish thing; she was perfectly safe from bogeymen. She didn't find much in the way of supplies, and she wanted to conserve her battery-powered flashlight. So she mostly stayed in the eulogy room.

Regardless, she definitely wanted to take shelter here for as long as possible. As the days passed, the risk of a violent student coming along would increase. Alice wasn't a math expert, but she figured that anyone willing to kill would be more likely to attack people unwilling, since they were easy targets.

Alice was such a person. She tried to imagine herself swinging an axe at an unfamiliar girl, but could only shuddered in revulsion. Violence was certainly not her forte. So eventually, killers would outnumber the people like her, and her chances of being attacked would as well.

So what was all the reckoning for? She wanted to avoid people. That'd been her decision, right here in fact. She sat down on a pew, her bag between her legs. Staring upward at the ceiling, she wondered if there was any point praying. She wasn't especially religious; her parents were very lax Protestants, and she rarely went to church even as a child. What would be the point now? God wasn't going to save them. He hadn't saved the last five classes, after all.

She would need to keep herself alive until...what? She won? She had to commit murder to go home if she won, otherwise they'd keep her here and the whole thing would be pointless. All her friends dying for nothing. So, she realized, she was going to die. Unless she was saved by an outside factor. But how likely was that? It'd happened once, she knew. But that was eight years ago. Would anything happen this time?

She slept fitfully, curled up on the floor with her hard bag as a pillow. But she wasn't prepared for what morning brought; the announcements.

Jennifer Su. Alice knew her; the poor thing was even shyer than Alice. Perhaps dying early and hopefully quickly meant she was spared suffering. Alice wondered what that implied for her.

Tina Luz. The Luz family had already lost someone. Her killer wasn't someone Alice knew well, but Isabel was apparently well-known from what she'd heard.

Alice gasped as she heard Scarlett McAfee's name. She'd...she'd been alive yesterday. Alice had seen her. She'd been nice, traveling with Aiden, whom Alice had frightened. Now she was dead, and someone with an axe had killed her. If she hadn't met Alice, she might still be alive. God help her.

Cristobal was an athlete, a baseball player. She'd probably never met him. Barry Banks, too. Kimiko was in Alice's math class. She'd murdered a boy. Barry had been killed by Alvaro, a boy she knew enough to be shocked that he'd slain another man.

Abby Floyd was a legitimately good person. Alice had never heard a bad thing said of her. She'd committed suicide.

Conrad and Harold. Conrad killed Harold, and then was killed by Isabel. Someone to avoid, for sure. Alice wished she knew them better. It felt callous to not be able to think of a person as more than a body count.

Rea was aloof, but she didn't know Alice well. Joshua was a nice enough person. Alice didn't know him, either.

In a way, Alice was grateful. Nobody she knew well, save Jennifer, had died. Nobody she knew well had killed. She was also horrified that murders had been committed so near to her. They could have been her. She could be dead now.

She wrapped her arms around herself, felt her breathing speed up. She heard, or thought she did, a sound, like the doors moving. It might have been the wind, for all she knew.

But she screamed, shrill and girlish, nonetheless.

Two Mules for Sister Sara.
They departed.

It seemed Scout was searching for Clarice, a name Alice didn't recognize off-hand. It was, according to Jeremy, unfortunately too late to protect this Clarice from physical harm. Scout seemed perturbed, rushing off with barely anything said. Not that much needed to be said, really.

Jeremy left too, without much explanation. She supposed she was grateful, and she gave a little wave at the boy as he left. She let out her breath; the situation had been uncomfortable, anxious. Not overtly threatening, but with every passing encounter Alice wondered if the next one would go as well.

Still. Being alone was a nice change of pace.

((Alice Baker continued in Down the Rabbit Hole))

To Dine With the Devil
((Henry Spencer continued from Self Doubts and Hurricanes))

It was, with dawning horror on the level of 'the monster didn't die' in a film, that Henry realized he'd left his bag.

He wanted to go back. To turn around, apologize, smile sheepishly as he took back his friends' respect and his precious supplies. But he couldn't. He'd crossed the line, tried to hurt someone. Shame burned his face every time he thought about it. He rarely felt ashamed; it hurt, a lot.

That social fear was so alien and weird to Henry that he couldn't bear to stop running. With his bag gone, he outpaced the group for some time until, inevitably, he ran out of steam. Fatigued, Henry stumbled towards the nearest visible landmark, the warehouse structure they'd seen at the docks.

Collapsing at the front of the building, Henry heard no voices from within, and tentatively slipped inside. He looked around quizzically, standing in the corner and observing the mess of collapsed palettes and papers and all sorts of nonsense. There was what looked suspiciously like bloodstains all over. That was a bad sign, and Henry found great discomfort in the revelation that violence was already ongoing.

All he had was his whip. That might've served Indiana Jones and the Belmonte family, but Henry was not proficient in whipping. For starters, he needed food and water. He would be surprised to find edibles here, even canned goods. And if they were on an island, he'd need to purify and desalinate the water to drink, and Henry would need things like heat sources, containers, plastic, things he didn't have.

Death was an inevitable. Asha Sur was one of Henry's good friends, and she was pretty in tune with that kind of thing. Henry envied her now, in a way; he hoped that, if she was doomed to die, she'd at least have a peaceful passing, not one full of fear and anger and pain and brutality. Same went for all his classmates, though Henry doubted most would have that luxury.

But Henry was scared. Not just of dying; he wanted to go home, of course. It was in that little-kid-like, whiny voice he thought that. Alone and scared were states Henry was familiar with, but never together, and never scared in such a real, morbid way. Besides, he wasn't scared just of being murdered; he was at risk of dehydration and starvation, and both sounded like truly horrible ways to go.

Henry Spencer was going to die. But fuck if he was going to die because he dropped his bag. He needed a plan, a strategy, right? He couldn't just walk up to people, unless he knew them as trustworthy. And Henry didn't have much self-awareness, but he knew he was a bad judge of character. So he needed to get food and water from someone, but he couldn't trust anyone? He'd have to do something wrong, something bad.

He'd need to steal their stuff.

Truthfully? Probably not as bad as murder. But Henry didn't need to kill people. He needed sustenance, that was all. So what was the problem? He might condemn someone to the same fate he feared. Hmm...perhaps if he could just take some of their stuff? That might work. They'd both be a little tight on survival needs, but not damned to die of dehydration. The only thing now was to do it.

But first...rest. He was fatigued from all the running around. Henry made his way through the chaotic piles of junk to a secluded-looking spot. He considered the office, but found the nest of hornets within a bit offputting. So he collapsed in the corner and eventually fell asleep, using his arm as a pillow, mind full of intent and fear, hope and goals, misery and pain.

--

Henry woke up with a stomach ache and a headache, later in the morning than he'd thought. Just in time, it seemed, to hear the announced killers and victims.

Two girls he was unfamiliar with, one killed by a senior, one by a mistake. Kimiko was someone he'd met once. She'd killed a baseball player. Alvaro had murdered a boy. Conrad, Abby...so many people, faces he recognized, dead. He'd gone to prom with Scarlett, for god's sake, and she was dead! It nearly made him scream in frustration with the futility of it all. But that in itself was futile. So he remained quiet.

Oh, and he was in a danger zone. Lovely.

Henry ran from the warehouse, glanced frantically about to discern his direction, and bolted away, making sure to tightly clutch his whip as he moved further inland.

((Henry Spencer continued in Forget About What I Said))

Self Doubts and Hurricanes
((Skipping for DZ purposes. GMing of Jasper approved))

Henry rolled over as the others arrived and Jasper rubbed his shoulder. Normally, in any other situation, Henry was a touchy-feely kind of guy who was quite fond of physical affection. But right now, under the anxiety and pressures of his faltering coping mechanism, Henry reacted badly.

"Argh!" Henry let out an aggressive noise, rolled onto his back and sat up, pushing Jasper away with his hands in the process. Lunging to his feet, Henry glanced rapidly between Coleen and Arthur, before his eyes panned down to Jasper in front of him.

"I..." Thoughts raced. Apologize? He couldn't. He couldn't do anything. Jasper and Henry's continued survival were now mutually exclusive, and there was no way Henry could handle that, especially since it also applied to, oh, a hundred other people he knew from school.

He stumbled slightly as he ran off down the rocky shoreline. His bag lay on the ground where he'd first fallen.

((Henry Spencer continued in To Dine With the Devil))