Sunday, May 21, 2017
1st 5 Pages May Workshop - Vogel Rev 2
Thirteen year old farm-girl Ellie Bauer is about to hear the biggest and best kept secret in all of humanity. No, humanity is too small a word. This information predates us by eons. Only five people, including a few well known historical figures, have been entrusted with this knowledge. It’s a secret that comes with great responsibility.
Ants, the little six-legged kind, have been evolving for a hundred million years longer than humans. It's a staggering advantage. They live in advanced hierarchical civilizations, cultivate crops, and employ aphids and caterpillars just like humans use livestock. Ants are masters at manipulating other species for their own benefit, and they don’t stop at caterpillars.
The ants have chosen Ellie to steer the fate of our entire planet — a role critical to the survival of all of Earth’s creatures. This mandate is a tremendous honor, but it ejects Ellie from her carefree childhood and hurls her deep into adulthood in just a few short weeks.
Join Ellie as her tiny ant ambassador pulls back the curtains on the true path of human history. Accompany Ellie as her faith and her comprehension of what it means to be human become unfathomably challenged.
Week 3 Draft:
Name: Zack Vogel
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Title: Our Mother Not in Heaven
"Oh God no Gita. You must pronounce that one correctly," Kenna snapped.
Gita’s body segments tensed up. "What did I say?"
"You said 'nucular'."
"That's what you said Kenna, 'Nucular'." Gita shot Kenna a fierce look that went unseen. All looks went unseen in their pitch black chamber two feet below the surface. Living in complete darkness most of the time works wonders for the brain and the non-visual senses. Their sightless communication evolved over millions of years into a rich bouquet of smells, vibrations, and sounds.
"Nuclear, nu-cle-ar, NUCLEAR! Look, I think we should call it a day. We're both getting tired, and the sun has nearly set."
Gita cracked her stiff neck from side to side to release some tension. She gazed and clawed at the dirt floor buried beneath the labyrinth of earthen tunnels above. "I guess you're right, but bzaenim..."
"Stop! You have to stay in English. Think in English. You're perfectly fluent. This is no time to revert," Kenna admonished. She normally oozed calm, but time was running short and the whole world hung in the balance. It would fray anyone's nerves.
"Right, right, sorry. I was going to say we should go over that again tonight, but maybe you're right. I am exhausted, and I guess, a bit nervous," Gita admitted, returning to the careful enunciation of her English words.
"That's totally natural," Kenna responded. Her antennae had stopped nervously twitching. As part of her multifaceted role she fed Gita a quick bite of loamy mush. "You're fully prepared. I know you don't feel like you've done anything yet, but you've already proven yourself to me. We'll rest now, but there will be time to review a few things in the morning before you embark — like nuclear — that's an important one!" Kenna never stopped working.
"Thanks Kenna," Gita sighed.
The two, six-legged, exoskeleton clad females marched down the moist dark tunnel to their sleeping quarters. The reek of fear pheromones from an afternoon scare had been sponged up by the porous walls of soil. The community drifted into its familiar nighttime tranquility.
Gita tossed and turned on her bed. “Nuclear, nuclear, nuclear,” she thrummed to herself, mandibles twitching. Her mind scratched away at one last pre-slumberous thought in English, punctuating her tiring eve. “I hope Ellie can handle this. I hope the queens are right about this human child.”
Gita's nearly massless body sank deeper into the wet dirt, pressed by the weight of enormous responsibility.
Elita Bauer, Ellie for short, jumped off the school bus and ran down the long dusty driveway to her family's small but stately red-brick farmhouse. The Bauer's waist-high wheat stretched in all directions toward the unbroken horizon separating earth from sky. Like strands of a shag rug stroked by the hand of a child, each thin stalk of wheat did its part to sway in the breeze, yet remained indistinguishable from the whole. Not Ellie. She would be asked to stand out above the rest. Ellie blissfully knew nothing of her fate. And, she certainly never had any reason to think twice about ants.
Ellie darted in through the backdoor and tossed her backpack onto the chunky, weathered kitchen table of red oak. It had been built to last forever, hand-crafted by her grandfather decades before she was even conceived. Ellie downed a tall glass of water without taking a breath and ran back outside.
Pent up excitement had whipped her into a Christmas-morning-like frenzy. She yearned to see that her new tree house withstood the day's moderate wind while she sat bored and distracted in the hot classroom. Ellie built the tree house with her own two hands, and a smidgen of guidance from Dad when the power tools came out. Just like grandpa with his table, the accomplishment made her proud. It was erected as a place to play just as she was maturing beyond such childhood trifle. The shack on a limb would serve a wholly different, unexpected purpose. Unfathomably weighty secrets would soon be divulged within its modest four walls.
Ellie's older brothers contributed to the tree house in their own special way. They doubted her capabilities loudly to her face. She had no lack of self-motivation, but her siblings’ sneers assured the project's success. Anything Ellie was told she could not, or should not accomplish, became an immediate possibility, a likelihood. That trait rubbed some adults the wrong way, but in certain situations it equaled power.
In contrast to her farm-destined brothers, Ellie aspired to things beyond her family’s small patch of soil.
Just as she barreled back outside through the creaky screen door, a loud bang rattled the center pane of the kitchen's plate glass window. The crash stopped her in her tracks. Sadness gripped her immediately. She had heard these thuds before. They were on the rise ever since Dad replaced those little panes with that big one. This was the third, sudden and tragic interruption of flight this month.
There in the mulch between the house and the flowering inkberry bushes, lay the comatose body of a male robin. The sight of the grounded bird's red-breasted body injected Ellie's sadness with a dose of excitement. A travesty, yes, but also an opportunity given her dreams of becoming a veterinarian. She had a new patient.
Ellie sprinted away toward the back corner of the main barn. She slid to her knees in the dusty dirt, skidding to a stop beside her humane animal trap. She tilted it on end, dumping the day-old cubes of cantaloupe into the groundhog hole at the base of the barn's foundation. "I guess you get a free lunch today,” she hollered toward the empty hole.
The trap, once again, would be called on to double as an ambulance for an injured bird. Then, fingers crossed, a safe place for the robin to regain strength before beating wings for the sky.
Trapping was the original purpose for the galvanized metal box. It was the only gift Ellie admitted wanting — to insure its receipt — for her thirteenth birthday. It came with a contract. A truce really. Dad agreed that anything Ellie trapped could be released alive. Farm intruders too smart to be lured in, would continue to be shot.
Ellie would halt the animal rights protests. Dad would be spared the drama surrounding each and every death. On those days when she came home from school to find the trap occupied, mostly by gullible groundhogs, she would toss a towel on top, bungee it to her bicycle rack, and pedal back to school. There, behind the ball fields, her chubby brown friends could roam free in the shade of the woods.
Dad and Ellie both knew that the school grounds, eight miles away, wasn't always far enough. Dad was too tired to reopen the negotiations, and Ellie secretly longed for reunions with her bucktoothed deportees. Her chest burned with a deep love for all things feathered or furry. Ants, needless to say, are neither.
Ellie made it back to the house in seconds. The bird hadn’t budged. She placed the empty trap down in the mulch at the robin’s feet, and swung her braided blonde pony-tail over the back of her shoulder. Her cupped hands formed a gurney and slid beneath the delicate avian frame. She would have made a darn good veterinarian if the world had been different, and if the ants hadn’t spied her potential for something critically bigger.
She glided the bird into the cage, steering clear of the sensitive trigger-plate, and carefully lowered the trapdoor. Little could be done to help this bird, but she longed to be there by his side if and when he came to.