The Young City Passes 40,000 Words


This picture on my left was taken on my JamCam inside the new Cobblestone Gallery at the Atrium in Uptown Waterloo.

I've had the left side of my face scraped clean of tartar. Now my whole mouth is clean. I must say that I hate getting my mouth frozen, even if it means that I can do a halfway decent impersonation of Jean Chretien.

I'm also pleased to report that I might have another interview, soon. A prospective employer called up with questions. Unfortunately, it's now after their office hours, but I'll call back tomorrow...

The Young City broke the 40,000 word barrier yesterday, as I powered through to the end of chapter nine. This is interesting, as so far my Rosemary and Peter books have stopped at the 40,000 word mark (in fact, Rosemary and Time has, after editing, shrunk down to 39,000 words), and The Young City still has a long way to go.

Right now, Rosemary and Faith are on the run, and they've discovered the portal that takes them to Toronto of the 1950s. We'll spend a chapter there, resolving the arc of head henchman Rob Cameron, and then bring the two back to the sewers where Rosemary will be captured (see this post) and taken to Aldous Birge for questioning. Then will come Edmund's moment of truth, the big fiery conclusion, and the denoument and the journey home. I can easily see The Young City filling out to 50,000 words, which puts it firmly into the realm of a teen novel.

I'm sure the word count will drop once I get serious about editing, but some things might push it up again. As I've said, I've taken a substantial risk by writing this book before I've done substantial research, and proper research could well discredit key details of my book, forcing significant rewrites. I also need some key details to better evoke time and place...

Still, a milestone is a milestone, and today I'll celebrate a little...

I've gotten back to work on the Trenchcoat Farewell Project, finishing the layout on Shepherd Moons. This means, barring artwork for Syndicate, we now have a complete issue from the beginning straight up to the end of Ninth Aspect 1. I hope to start layout work on the stories of Ninth Aspect 2 this week, possibly this evening.

I won't make a prediction on when we go to the printers, but it's still a matter of weeks, now, instead of months. If any of my Trenchcoat readership is reading this, I thank them profusely for their patience.

Here's a sample of the latest Young City material written so far. Here, Faith and Rosemary are still in the sewers, hiding out as one of Birge's condolas passes by... Forgive the roughness; it's an early draft:

Holding each other, they stepped over the small waterfall and into the hungry shadows. The small stream sloshed over their boots and swept at their sodden shirts. The slimy brick brushed their shoulders. They went as deep as they dared. Then, with a final glance behind, Faith slammed the shutter over her lantern, plunging them into darkness. They pressed close and stared out at the tunnel, waiting.

The bricks outside began to flicker with reflected light. Voices echoed through the tunnel, slowly becoming loud enough to make out.

"I'm sure I heard voices," said someone. There was a splash of an oar on water.

"Our company, probably," said another. "We're near the Watson jetty. You can ask them yourself what took them so long."

The long gondola and its three-man crew eased into view. The man at the bow stared ahead of them, frowning. "Didn't sound like men. Sounded more like women."

The man at the rudder chuckled. "Another of one of Michael's sirens, perhaps?"

"Enough of that!" snapped the oarman. "There are strange things in this sewer. I can hear them on the water. We shouldn't be down here, I tell you."

"You'd rather we try to sneak behind the constabulary's back instead of beneath their feet?" said the bowman.

The oarman muttered something surly.

The gondola slipped out of view. The watery light faded, and all was dark again.

Rosemary heaved a sigh of relief. "They haven't started looking for us down here, yet."

Faith said nothing. Rosemary could see her in the rising shadows, standing stock still, arms clenched around her chest.

Rosemary touched her arm. "Faith?"

She took a deep, shaky breath. "We must leave this place. Now."

"We will." Rosemary gave her a squeeze. "We will, I promise. We'll find a manhole and we'll get ourselves out of here. Think of the open sky, the fresh air, our feet on muddy streets."

Faith chuckled. "I might take my boots off for that."

Rosemary eased Faith towards the river tunnel. In the dark, she reached out to use the brick wall as a guide. Then her fingers met open air and she stumbled sideways, falling over with a shriek and a thump.

"Rosemary!" gasped Faith in a hoarse whisper. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah." Rosemary rolled onto her back, rubbing her scuffed elbows. She patted the rough set stone. "I'm on dry land. This branch has a branch and it's dry." Her fingers ran over a riser. "I think I'm at the base of a flight of stairs!"

"Stairs!" Faith rushed forward.

"Faith! Careful! There's a step--" But before she could finish, Faith tripped on the step, pitching forward and landing on top of Rosemary in a tangle of skirts and a clatter of lanterns.

When they disentangled themselves, Faith asked, "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine." Rosemary rubbed her stomach. "Just a little winded. Can you give me some light?"

Faith eased open the shutter on the lantern. The shaft of light blinded them. They brought it round and shone it up a flight of cement stairs, topping out six above them before an oak panelled door.

"Freedom!" said Faith, clambering up the steps. Rosemary was hot on her heels. They tried the knob. It was stiff but it was not locked. After a minute of rattling, Rosemary put her shoulder to the door and shoved it open.

Sunlight blinded them. Not waiting to see where they were, they stumbled through, catching themselves on a low wall, topped by a metal railing. Rosemary had just the presence of mind not to let the door slam; she eased it shut behind her. They leaned on the wall, blinking until their eyes adjusted to the light.

They were at the base of a small pit in the corner of a vast warehouse space. Steps led up to a dusty, scuffed concrete floor that stretched across to the distant painted brick walls. Broken crates were strewn in piles. Composite windows ran the length of the wall, just shy of the ceiling. The sunlight shone through, shooting brilliant beams through the swirling dust. There was a rumble of distant machinery that shook the floor and resonated in their chests. The air was musty, touched with sulphur, but after the stench of the sewer, it smelt like a mountain stream.

Faith rested her forehead on the metal railing. "Thank God we are free of that horrible place."

Rosemary stared at the echoing emptiness. The floor was full of footprints, but they were the only ones there. Machinery rumbled again. "Where are we?"

Faith glanced at the crates and windows. "A warehouse." Machinery rumbled again. "By a factory. We must have come very far south. We're in the warehouse district south of Queen Street." She pointed at the growing light. "It's morning."

"Morning?" Rosemary stared at the windows. Some were cracked, others broken. Sheets draped over the gaps fluttered and snapped in the breeze. "Were we in there that long?"

But Faith had mounted the stairs and stood on the warehouse floor. "We must not dally. Our pursuers are still after us. We must find the constabulary and tell them everything, for Edmund's sake!" She spotted the exit, marked by a sign, across the concrete expanse. She strode towards it.

"I suppose..." Rosemary mounted the steps, then stood, staring at the ceiling twenty feet above her. Her frown deepened.

Faith called over her shoulder. "Rosemary, come on!"

Rosemary started after her, then stopped short. She looked up at the flapping sheets covering the composite windows. The light shone through them and they glowed green. They might have been garbage bags.

Then she noticed wires hanging from the ceiling at regular intervals, ending in metal cowls painted army green. Some gaped emptily, but others still held darkened light bulbs.

Electric light bulbs.

She staggered back. "Oh, my God! Faith!"

Faith was almost across the warehouse floor, reaching for the exit. Rosemary ran after her. "Faith! Wait!"

The rumble of machinery drowned her voice.

Faith pushed open the door.

Sound hit her like sunlight. Cars screamed. Dump trucks rumbled. A passing tractor-trailer sounded its horn. The street was a blur of blacktops and chrome. There were jack-hammers, steam shovels, pile drivers. The sign across the street announced the construction of a new expressway. Faith clapped her hands to her ears. She staggered down the steps. The doors shut after her.

Rosemary burst through the front doors and saw Faith standing on asphalt, staring about, stunned. An oncoming cement truck screamed at her to move. "Faith!"

Rosemary rushed onto the road, grabbed Faith and hauled her onto the sidewalk just as the cement truck passed, the driver's curse lost in the cacophony.

"What?" Faith screamed like a man gone deaf. "What is this madness? What--"

"We've got to get you inside!" Rosemary dragged her up the front stairs. "I'll explain everything inside!" She pushed open the front doors and hauled Faith behind their cover. They closed with a click.

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