And Then There Were Four …

DocB sat on the side of the hill. Whew! That was one long November. I wasn’t even sure I was going to have time for this and look at me now. The brightly colored banner that said “Winner” with this year on it flew on the staff over her head. She turned as she heard footsteps.

Thompson Girl came over the ridge. She stabbed her flag-post into the ground beside Doc’s and sat down next to her. She was a veteran and knew how to pace herself. Still, she knew as well as anyone that it was awfully easy to get caught by real life on the way up the hill. She’d seen discarded novels and ideas along the way, and passed many a dispirited writer who’d started out with high hopes only to give up in discouragement.

“Have you seen WQ or TEC?” Doc asked.

“WQ was pretty close behind me,” TG responded, pausing for a drink of water from the canteen on her hip. “TEC’s farther back, but she declares she’ll be done tonight.”

“Good.” They enjoyed the rarefied air on the top of the hill and let the breeze cool them off.

A rattle of small pebbles announced WQ. She pushed her flagpole into the loose earth, stopped to pull a shoe off and dumped dust and gravel from it. “Boy, I didn’t think I’d make it, a couple of times, but here I am.”

The other two applauded her.

“I love doing Nano, but I’ll be glad to get back to real life.”

TG smiled. “I know what you mean.”

They waited for the last Nano squaddie, as the light began to die. “Well, there is tomorrow,” Doc shrugged. “She said she had to kill off a character she liked. That can make it harder.”

“Not as hard as I thought,” grinned TEC4. She brushed the dirt off her jeans, leaned on her staff and stretched to loosen her calf muscles. “Those last few words, boy, they were tough. Although I figure I’ll wind up dumping a lot of in rewrite.”

The other three groaned in sympathy. Each of them mentally reviewed her WIP and knew they were on the same route.

“So we’re done for now. What next?” WQ inquired.

“I think we need a story challenge. Anyone bring one with them?”

“Nope.” “Uh-uh.” “Not me.”

“Well, we’ll come up with something. The guys are getting soft. We need to get ’em on and off and out on patrol. Or something.”

They all stood, took their hard-earned staffs and headed back down the track. Down was a lot easier than coming up, and there were lights and letters and companionship to be had. They’d always remember November 2010.

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