I’m sharing another work-in-progress. (You do know that writers have squirrel brains, don’t you? Oh, look! Shiny new story idea!) You’ve reacted so favorably to my past sneak peeks posts, I thought you might enjoy a sneak peek at Paladina.
I chose the working title Paladina as a play on the theme song of an old television show, “Have Gun-Will Travel,” starring Richard Boone.
The title of my story will likely change as the story morphs through subsequent drafts but for now, this one works. It’s a novel-in-progress and plays with Greek mythology, alien cultures, and psychopaths. I’m estimating the length will be about 100,000 words. And yes, I’ve worked on it off an on for a long time. I’m working on pinning that writer’s squirrel down to finish some of these projects.
The Story Sentence
With each story I write, I draft a sentence that captures my plot. If you want more information about what I mean, check out my article, The Best Writer’s Tool.
This is my sentence for my most recent draft of Palidina:
A protection specialist, sworn to defend a tiny Greek village, discovers they are pawns of treasure-hunting alien knights whose game pits her against her long-lost brother to save all of humanity.
Does that pique your interest? I hope so. *grin*
And now, for the peek into the story.
Lynette M. Burrows
George Lerios ignored the chill October wind, the aches and pains of his arthritis, and the anxious double-time throb of his pulse, unable to tear his eyes away from the scene beneath the giant plane tree. Who does this xénos think he is to come and threaten our village? George stood with the men of his village, on the downhill side, along one of the cobblestone streets that formed the platia. He wore faded American jeans like many of the others. Some wore woolen slacks with long-sleeved shirts peeking out of gray or black wool jackets. He and the other men stood with their backs to the stone buildings, smoking or fingering their komboloi beads, uncharacteristically silent. Watching.
The women sat on stools or chairs or on the cobbles of the uphill side of the street, their thick lamb’s wool sweaters and hand-knitted shawls fended off the chill wind. Their dresses, many of them widow’s black, primly covered their knees. Gone was the usual gossip and banter; they, too, watched.
The xénos, who called himself Mr. White, arrived exactly as he had before, in a dark green Range Rover filled with armed men, each of whom wore a crisp, olive-colored shirt and sharply creased pants. The only thing that distinguished Mr. White from the others was the deference with which they treated him, and his burgundy beret. He reset the back of the beret tightly on his head, then squared his stance before the table. Towering over elderly Father Theodoros and the three village leaders who sat at the backgammon table, he said, “Well, Father…gentlemen. Where is it?”
Holding his tall-crowned, black beaver hat and his long, white beard against the wind, Father Theodoros looked up at Mr. White. “As I told you before, Mr. White, we are naught but farmers and shopkeepers. Old men and women. Look around you. We have no apple of gold. We have nothing of value. Nothing to give you.”
“I don’t have time for games, Father. I told you before. We know you have it. We know that Cyril Hatzikyriakos stole the apple while working for Herr Schliemann. He sold it to a merchant. It passed through the hands of a healer, a soldier, and a dozen more until Panos gave it to Isidori.”
“Saint Isidori,” Father Theodoros corrected him.
George crossed himself at the name of the blessed lady.
“We know it came to this village. The apple is here. And I will have it.”
Yiani, the eldest, spoke without raising his head. “Perhaps he does not understand Greek. If he did, he would know that if such an apple existed it could not have survived the past three thousand years, for every aunt, uncle, brother, sister, and cousin of any man who owned it would have taken a piece of it. There would be nothing left. There is nothing. There never was.” The breeze stirred the edges of Yiani’s black jacket, revealing a little of his best white shirt.
Yiani could not see the tiny narrowing of Mr. White’s eyes, but George did. His chest tightened.
Mr. White scanned the men and women lining the streets. “What is it with you people? No one else will pay what I’ve offered you. Don’t you understand? You could fix up this pest-hole.” Silence. He turned back to face Father Theodoros. “My offer expires today. Turn the apple over to me and your village will live.”
“Only the one, true, God can say when a man will live or die,” Father Theodoros said.
Mr. White looked at the priest. “No. Believe me, Father. I have that power. I can say that this man,” he placed his hand gently on Yiani’s shoulder, “will die soon if you don’t give me the apple.”
George balled his fists. If I were even just twenty years younger, I would… He looked down at his fist and saw the arthritis-gnarled joints and parchment-thin skin. His anger did not slacken, but he wished that the young men of Obelia had not deserted their mountain village for the more modern life of the bigger cities. Younger men would fight the xéni and win.
Father Theodoros looked at Yiani, whose return look was steady. Holding his hat still, Father Theodoros raised his gaze to Mr. White. “We can not help you.” His tone as gentle as his eyes.
“We would not if we could.” Yiani rolled the dice.
George didn’t think it was Yiani’s turn.
Mr. White looked down at Yiani. “Your town will fall, not unlike Troy.”
Yiani tossed his head back with a click of his tongue.
“You leave me no choice,” said Mr. White. He pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his shirt pocket, tapped out an unfiltered cigarette and transferred it to his lips. He lit it, then took a long drag on it. Smoke streamed out of his nostrils and swirled in the wind.
The side of Yiani’s head exploded in a pink mist. His body sagged back into his chair.
Father Theodoros and the other two elders leaped to their feet, knocking the chairs and table over in their haste. Backgammon tiles and dice skittled across the grass and onto the cobbles.
George’s heart beat against his ribs but he did not allow himself to look away. Neither did any of the other villagers. They’d all seen worse during the Coup.
Mr. White turned toward George and the other men of the village with a cold, hard stare. “I understand Greek,” he said. “Now, you understand me. I will return in one week. You will give me the apple and be paid half-price for it, or I will be forced to find it and you will pay the price.” He continued his slow turn, meeting any and all who would look into his eyes. “I don’t like killing old men and women, but I will have the apple. Anyone want to avoid all the grief and tell me where it is?”
George held his head high. Not one villager said a word.
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek at Paladina, a novel-in-progress. Do you like having sneak peeks? Would you prefer sneak peeks from published fiction or do you like getting an early peek at works-in-progress? Your answers may influence what appears in my Wednesday posts in the future. Thanks for reading!