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Chapter 22. Write a Novel Challenge.

Chapter 22. Write a Novel Challenge.

by Philip DackiwJune 28, 2020

Gradually, Neina emerged from her exhaustion induced trance, the tantalizingly vague recollection of a memory long past submerging into the recesses of her mind. A beam of ray enveloped her frail frame, currently resting in a fetal position that protects and shelters. Warmth, a nourishing, comforting warmth, coursed through her body thawing segments of her soul previously exposed to the horror that accompanied entering the Realm of Mors. Gingerly her eyes blinked open, bracing for the piercing rays of sun which instead caressed her; comforted her. Gusts of wind tousled Neina’s hair, reminiscent of a motherly hand praising her.

Growing accustomed to the surprisingly bright light, Neina surveyed her surroundings, realizing that what she previously perceived as a golden hue was in reality a barren land unfolding into the horizon. The morning had arrived in all its glory, its rays dispelling the darkness that clung to the various dunes that towered above, reaching for the heavens. Vibrantly, it illuminated the surrounding landscape, displaying it in its entirety and accentuating the sheer magnitude of the region. Several shrubs desperately clutched the undulating sea of sand, teetering on the very edges of the mounds of desert. A trail of footsteps, their impressions curious looking, extended past several dunes. Receding into the distance, a silhouette, noticeable against the stark contrast of amber, was barely visible. Tentatively at first, Neina began her trek, in hope of pursuing this mysterious figure.

Write a Novel Challenge illustration showing the image of Janus

Step after step, stride after stride, this embodiment of hope continued, now more determined than ever to find answers. Trudging up the face of a dune, riddled with the occasional sharp stone which consistently found a way to her naked feet, Neina unsuccessfully attempted to forget the events of the previous days. A frenzy of questions regarding her mother, Isla, and the curious phenomenon she was enveloped in, plagued her mind, forcing her to acknowledge the complete strangeness of all that had recently transpired. Despite these unanswered questions, a calmness settled over Neina. Here she allowed her thoughts to drift and recollect; everything appearing clearer, more centered, following the mayhem and disorder of her previous experiences. Dutifully, the sun continued on its ceaseless journey throughout the sky and the figure drew nearer now, unmistakably strutting towards her. Its manner of walking was perplexing, each leg sporadically extending in an effort to move forward. Undoubtedly this creature’s gait was odd, slightly lurching as it went, perhaps leaning too far forwards; it was hard to tell.

Eventually Neina reached her sought after destination, recognizing the frame assembled with an array of buttons, clothes, an argyle scarf and really anything else available at the time of his creation.

“Janus…” she exclaimed in bewilderment, finally recalling the name her siblings christened him with.

“How nice of you to finally address me by my proper name!” he remarked in a slightly condescending tone. “Apologies for the separation. Nothing I could’a changed about that.”

Contrary to his stature, his voice possessed a hint of more power than that suggested by his figure. It was a deep, resonating speech that contained a certain twang, occasionally stumbling over words. Immediately his manner conveyed one of friendliness and compassion. Recovering from her incredulity she responded “No… No problem”.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Neina”, said Janus extending his arm.

Shaking it, she began questioning. Initially hesitant, once her first question formulated itself, dozens more replaced it, erupting in a steady stream until her thoughts, increasing in fervor, overwhelmed her and incoherent phrases were articulated.

“Hold your horses, Neina. Now I’m aware that you have questions, but you’ve also just hiked a long way. Managed to save you a little something. You must be famished – here, this should satisfy you for the time being.”

Abruptly her queries stopped, replaced by the groaning of her stomach begging for a mere morsel of food. Throughout her adventures she had suppressed this urge, realizing only now the protests issuing from her body. Gratefully, she accepted the stew Janus provided her, heat originating from the bowl blossoming outwards into her fingers. An explosion of scents reached Neina’s nostrils, largely dominated by the sweet smell of marinated meat and fresh bread. Propping the bowl against her legs, she shoveled its contents into her mouth, trying to suppress the thought that this might be her last warm meal in a long time. Wolfing down the majority of the meal, Neina settled into the food induced trance that is so warmly accepted and began conversing with her newly discovered companion.

“Allow me the pleasure of introducing you to the Tutumni.

“The what?” replied Neina, remnants of her dish escaping the confines of her mouth.

Staring disdainfully at her, he continued, “The Tutumni. As you previously may have noticed, this region is one of relative safety, which will protect you from any occurrences beyond its reach. Do not, however, let this deter you from your real purpose  – and only access it when in great peril. One must only remain aware of the light that casts the temporary shadow to access this segment of the mind unbeknownst to anyone.”

Minutes faded into hours as the two conversed; Neina posing elaborate questions and Janus responding to the majority of them. Unsuspectingly, evening had encroached upon the pair, the faint light of the moon announcing it. Dusk had begun to settle and enveloped the world in the mysterious twilight that precedes it. Once Neina’s queries had been answered to her satisfaction, a period of rest was announced by Janus who abruptly nestled into the embrace of the sand and subsequently fell asleep. Despite her exhaustive efforts in recent days, Neina struggled to transition into the realm of sleep; instead, she gazed at the canopy of stars illuminating the dark. Some were dull, barely flickering into existence, other radiating intense light, filling the dark cavernous void. Her drowsy brain tossed and turned; her stomach satisfyingly full as she recalled countless, perplexing answers from the day before, each usually responded to by an alternate question. One especially concerned her, namely, the prospect that all these events were occurring in her mind, a mind which was unable to distinguish reality from imagination. Gradually her thoughts drifted, disassembling and rearranging themselves in delightful patterns. Hours passed and all she wanted to do was hand herself over to her pursuers – to sleep – to let go of her miseries…

© and 2020. All rights reserved.

For further information on the Write a Novel Challenge by and, please click here

To read Chapter 1, click here.

To read Chapter 2, click here.

To read Chapter 3, click here.

To read Chapter 4, click here.

To read Chapter 5, click here.

To read Chapter 6, click here.

To read Chapter 7, click here.

To read Chapter 8, click here.

To read Chapter 9, click here.

To read Chapter 10, click here.

To read Chapter 11, click here.

To read Chapter 12, click here.

To read Chapter 13, click here.

To read Chapter 14, click here.

To read Chapter 15, Click here.

To read Chapter 16, click here.

To read Chapter 17, click here.

To read Chapter 18, click here.

To read Chapter 19, click here.

To read Chapter 20, click here.

To read Chapter 21, click here.

For our independent review of Cranleigh School Abu Dhabi, click here

For the official Cranleigh School Abu Dhabi web site, click here.

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About The Author
Philip Dackiw
Philip L Dackiw is 15 years old, of German-American nationality and a Year 10 student at Cranleigh Abu Dhabi. He writes: ‘I was under the impression that in recent chapters many narratives have been dedicated towards Neina and the perils she encounters. I therefore thought it suitable to provide a moment of tranquillity and a harbor of safety for Neina to return to whenever in mortal danger. This chapter was further meant to provide insight to the reader of the actual purpose of Neina’s quest. During these unpredictable times I have realized the joy in contributing to a creative story devised by many young authors and wish the next in line good luck! The name Janus is relevant ...

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