Off the Beaten Track
I'm alone, half way through a three day trek through Copper Canyon in Mexico,
but I ran out of water a day ago and I haven't seen anyone since I set out. My
thirty kilo backpack lies discarded as I follow a dry water-track downhill.
It's a strange place to begin a writing career but I had a number of adventures
while backpacking in Latin America and wanted to share them. Stephen King said
that he's terrible at telling stories in person which is why he has to write
them down. I'm the same, as anyone knows who has asked me about an extended
backpacking trip only to find out it was grand or something similarly
monosyllabic. So wrote long stories about my adventures and emailed them back to
friends and family. I enjoyed it, and when I returned I began to write a novel
and study the art and craft of writing.
Twenty minutes since I dumped my possessions, I hear a trickle of water. It
flows above ground and pools in a small basin before disappearing again. Wasps
buzz protectively above it. I fill my water-bottle, add a purification tablet
and wonder if I can remember where I left my backpack.
My first novel Crimson Dream a Young Adult Fantasy, is released in February. Check out my website www.davidjnormoyle.com for further details or follow my facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/David-J-Normoyle/157832707561908
Haunted by a dream of his beloved sister's death, an asthmatic seer leads his
people against a long forgotten enemy.
Icy wind greeted them when they reached the pass. He felt a surge of excitement.
Mythica was divided by these hills into Westerdell and Fairdell, and he'd never
been to Fairdell before. He'd have to wait; Bennie hadn't yet caught up. He and
Tenu saw her behind them. Tenu decided to wait at the pass for her.
They turned to watch her bound up the slope. Tenu gave a grim smile. "Like a
young pup with too much energy and hasn’t learned the value of it."
Loose pebbles crunched as she approached. Deren lifted his arm to wave
encouragement only to find he couldn't move. His limbs held fast as if the air
solidified around him.
With mounting horror, he saw a flash of red cloth behind Bennie. It coalesced
into a figure, a man in a crimson uniform. On the right breast of the uniform
was a golden circle with spikes emerging in all directions. The figure seemed
too bright and too large, filling the whole of Deren’s vision. The man was upon
Bennie; she didn't react. She was still smiling. Deren tried to shout, his mouth
opened, but no sound came out. The man’s right arm was outstretched, muscles
tensed. Aghast, Deren watched his arm swing, and a long blue flame cut through
the air, arcing toward his sister’s unprotected neck. A scream rent the air as
the whole world turned scarlet and then black.
Deren slumped against the donkey as the air released him. Shock and loss jolted
"What happened, boy, what did you see?" Tenu's voice seemed to come from a long
Then another voice spoke. "Deren. Deren are you okay?" It was a female voice
sounding worried and breathless. It couldn’t be. Deren raised his head to find
Bennie putting her hand on his shoulder.
"Are you okay?" she said. "This wasn’t one of your attacks, was it?"
"You were attacked," Deren said.
"Me?" Bennie looked confused. Deren's brain began to work again. Nothing had
happened; he imagined it all.
"No. Not a breathing attack." He shook himself. "Sorry, it was just a dream."
Some dream, he thought. "A nightmare."
"Eli be praised." Bennie’s smile returned. It was never far away. "It was
strange, you were smiling, and then you went still and pale. Your breathing was
normal, but your eyes went...weird. What did you see in your nightmare? Your
mouth opened, and your eyes bulged. You screamed and slouched over."
So he heard his own scream. He was afraid to ask what else was real.
"How was it a dream if you were awake?" she asked with a puzzled look. "What did
Tenu snorted in disgust. "Nothing would surprise me about that boy, screaming
like a girl over some daydream."
He picked up the lead rope and started down the valley. The donkey followed,
Bennie walked alongside. "I love dreams. Lately I've dreamed of running through
the woods unseen. Of sunbeams that dance as they approach me. Princes rescue me
even though I don't need it. Perhaps, I need more interesting dreams."
To Deren, those sounded as interesting as dreams should get. "You wouldn't want
a daydream like this. Trust me on that."
Deren couldn't remember his latest dreams or nightmares too well, but he did
know crimson-uniformed soldiers appeared in them. And now he saw one while
awake. What was wrong with him?
The rocky trail through the pass opened up into the valley of Fairdell. The
valley didn't look much different from Westerdell. It was smaller with no
grasslands, just a large forest, broken by two lakes. Vegetation crept up the
sides of the mountains until the greenery became a rocky purple and then white
snow and grey clouds. In places it was hard to tell where the snow ended and the
Those tall mountains circling Mythica were one of the reasons his dream was
ridiculous. They were the impassable walls of their land. No one entered or left
Mythica. It was said the air at the top of the peaks was poisonous, and the cold
turned flesh blue until it withered and died.
There were no soldiers in Mythica.