So I just hit 25,000 words last night, which sounds great right? Except it’s Nov. 20 and I only have ten days to write 25,000 more words. Geez. I had gotten so close to being caught up, and then school hit, and right after that Wal-Mart’s Thanksgiving rush hit. Being a cashier during Thanksgiving means working mucho hours. In fact, I have to be at work in an hour. So, I’ll probably attempt to work on my novel a bit before I go. After all, I did catch up on sleep last night finally. But all I really want to do right now is finish reading Wicked by Gregory Maguire.

It’s not that I’m out of ideas. I still have plenty of outline to go off of. Actually, I think that might be the problem; I already know what’s going to happen. I may not have all the details worked out, but I know how the story is progressing, so it feels boring to me. Whereas even though I’ve read Wicked before, it’s been a while so the story is like new for me again and I can’t wait to see what happens. I think I need to figure out how to get that magic back for my story. But how?

While I try to figure that out (please feel free to suggest some ideas as well) here’s another short excerpt to mark my halfway point, two-thirds of the way through the month:

The Scorpio guards led Belle out of the tunnel into a large round chamber. A hole in the ceiling showed stars, and Belle searched in vain for Orion before they pushed her into a small room off to the side. The walls were the same red brown stone, and wall sconces black with age produced a flickering luminescence. Andavar spoke from the door before it was shut.

“You’ll be staying here until it is time for your part in the ceremony. It should be a short wait.” With that, he closed and locked the door. After that ominous click, Belle turned to check out her latest surroundings and found that she wasn’t alone. Lord Regus was in the corner on a crude wooden bench. He was staring into space just as before.

“I don’t suppose you know what they have planned for me?” Belle asked. Surprisingly, he answered.

“You are the key,” he said without looking at her, “and you shall unlock the door to Orion’s prison.”

“But I thought these guys worshipped Orion’s arch nemesis,” Belle said. “Why would they want to let him out?”

“If you have a key to one door, and the key to the one you want to open is behind the first, how do you get it out?” Lord Regus asked.

“Orion is the key to Antares prison?” Belle asked incredulously. Lord Regus shook his head, but Belle could get no more out of him, no matter how much she pleaded and berated him.

Finally, Lord Andavar returned with the guards. Both Lord Regus and Belle were led into the circular chamber. Now Belle could clearly see Orion through the hole in the ceiling. They were both brought to the altar at the center of the room, and Belle’s uneasiness increased. These people were willing to kidnap and die for their beliefs. Did they believe in human sacrifice, too? For a few moments, Belle fought not to throw up.

“Greetings, my brethren,” Andavar said to the congregation. He stood square with the altar; Belle and Lord Regus had been placed to either side of him. “Tonight, we will finally obtain what we have sought for so long: the key to our Lord Antares’s prison. But first, we must undergo a task most regrettable. We must unleash the enemy of our Lord. The heathen hunter, that man upon whom the gods wasted such greatness, when it should have belonged to our lord. Orion.”

A sibilant hiss ran around the room amongst the cloaked figures. Lord Andavar nodded sympathetically.

“I know that it grieves us all to release him from his most just punishment, but it is a necessary evil. Without the sons of Antares, we are helpless to release him on our own. We need the secondary key; we need the belt of Orion.”

Belle instinctively looked up at the line of three stars, which were so discernible from the rest of the starry sky.

“And although we have lost our key somewhere in the sands of time, we have the key for Orion.” Lord Andavar gestured to Belle as he spoke. A few of the Scorpios hissed at her, too. “No, no, my brothers. Do not disdain the presence of Orion’s daughter. For through her, all of our toils will reach fruition. Through her, our centuries of waiting will be ended.” Andavar turned to Belle. “You will be praised in the annals of our brotherhood, Lady Bellatrix.”

She had a strange urge to spit on him, but with the guards standing so close and surrounded by fanatics, she didn’t want to risk the reaction. Andavar took her silence for acquiescence, or at least forced cooperation, which it was.

“And now, with Orion high in the sky, we shall begin the ceremony.” Andavar began to read in Greek from an ancient tome laid on the otherwise bare altar. The hair at the nape of Belle’s neck tingled as though someone breathed down her spine. She shivered as the words wrapped around her like a cold blanket. As Andavar continued reading, she felt a pressing weight on her.

The guard next to Belle grabbed her hand and made a small cut on her palm. Belle tried to cry out at the sudden pain, but her throat was blocked by the intense pressure, which continued to grow. It wasn’t until Andavar was grabbing her wrist and pulling it to touch Lord Regus’s palm that she realized he had also been cut. As their bloody hands touched so that the red mingled, the pressure became too intense and Belle cried out, “Open to me Betelgeuse!”

And just like that, the pressure vanished, as though sucked away by a vacuum. Belle was breathing heavily from the sudden change. Lord Regus’s hand slipped away from hers, and he fell to the floor. He was dead. Belle simply stared at his ashen face; it was like someone had fastforwarded the clock 20 or 30 years for his face was so much older. Belle turned to Andavar angrily.

“What have you done?” She shouted. The guards moved to grab her, but then a strong male voice spoke out.

“Do not dare lay one finger on my daughter.”

Belle whipped around, emerging from the shadows was the man from her dream: Orion. Her heart was in her throat and she had time to think, It’s all true, and then, all hell broke loose.

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