If you’ve followed my blog in any capacity, you may have noticed I’ve been gone for the past 8 months. Well, I assure you it’s not because I’ve been twiddling my thumbs, staring at a blank screen. I’ve been focusing all my writing efforts into writing a book. More accurately, I’m expanding a serialized short story I wrote a long time ago into a full novel.
The story right now it tentatively called “The Long Walk”. It’s about a Muslim walking across a post-apocalyptic Canada on his journey toward Mecca for Hajj. Along the way his faith is tested and he must survive horrific creatures and, worse still, other people. He is joined by a young girl who, over time, becomes his protege, and the story becomes her journey as much as Hanif’s. A major theme in the book is the purpose of religion and belief in human society, even after society has collapsed. My goal is to write a I’ve uploaded all 3 parts of the original short story here onto my blog for you to enjoy (and critique! I appreciate the feedback).
I’ve decided to document my experiences writing this book in my blog. My friend Adeel (who is also writing a book, and is an editor for my book) recommended doing this, so you may hear from him from time to time.
Will it get published? Only God knows. But I’m hoping to share some experiences I’ve had writing, and my thoughts on the creative process along the way. I’ll share excerpts, character sketches, inspirations and writing tips along the way. I mean, at the very least I can show this to future publishers to hopefully get a leg-up in the slush pile.
For now, I’ll leave you with an excerpt from an early chapter of the book. It’s the first encounter that the protagonist has with the girl that follows him. Of course, it’s still in its crappy-first-draft form (actually, most excerpts will be), but I still appreciate any feedback you can.
The voice was small, yet commanding much like the barrel of the gun pointed at the back of Hanif’s head.
“Hands up,” the voice — small and definitely female — commanded.
Hanif did as he was told.
“Good to see you know English, that’s good,” the small voice remarked.
She must have heard me praying in Arabic, Hanif thought. How long was she there?
Hanif felt a tiny hand start to rummage through his coat pockets, pulling out his compass and scalpel before tossing his backpack in front of him.
“You don’t have to–”
“No, no, no.” The gun pressed further into Hanif’s head. “That’s not how this works. I talk, you listen. Now, dump it out.”
Hanif dumped out the contents of his bag. Some potatoes, flatbreads, the toothsticks, a flint, tarp, fishing line, hatchet and his water canteens lay on the ground.
He felt is ball-peen hammer in his pants pocket. She hadn’t noticed it.
“Now put your face on the ground. Like you did before.”
Hanif prostrated and listened to all of his contents being shoved into a plastic shopping bag.
Hanif sat up on his knees. It took her a couple seconds to notice.
“What are you doing?” she asked from behind him.
“I’m sitting. Too much blood going to my head. Started feeling nauseous.”
“I didn’t say you could.”
“I didn’t ask.”
The gun quickly found its way back to Hanif’s head. He felt it aiming directly into the back of his head, with barely an angle. Judging by that, he imagined that the person was short and was aiming with her arm straight.
“Do you have a death wish, old man?”
“I could have killed you five different ways already.”
Bluffing and confidence, the best distractions, Hanif thought.
The gun pushed harder.
“I’m not screwing around.”
“I know you are because your gun is empty.”
“Do you want me to prove you wrong?”
“I know that after the Cataclysms, we ran out of bullets to kill each other with. Only place you can get them is through survivalists, Rangers or the black market. I also know–”
He cut himself off with a quick turn of his torso, pushing the gun away and grabbing the arm of his attacker as he rolled over, pulling her down with him. He quickly pinned her wrist down with his one knee, knelt on her chest with the other and struck down with the hammer.
But his hammer froze before it connected.
A small, oval shaped face with slanted, raindrop shaped eyes looked at him with terror, and a tiny, pencil-thin mouth was open, his knee trapping a scream in her throat.
She was just a girl.
A moment of stillness no longer than the moment you catch a raindrop to when it hits the ground fell between them. She was just a girl, and she was scared.
Then she drove a knee up into Hanif and his groin exploded in pain. She did it again and Hanif was shoved off with her one arm, and he felt like vomiting. She kicked him in the face for good measure, then grabbed the shopping bag of supplies that she had pilfered and made a run under the bed. He made a pathetic lunge for her, and actually managed to grab her foot.
“Just give me the compass!” he shouted. She responded by kicking him in the face. His grip slipped but when he clawed back at her feet, he only managed to pull off her shoes. He shoved himself under the bed and saw her disappear a hole in the base of the wall, like a crudely cut out mousehole just big enough for a girl.