I’m spending most of November pounding away at the keyboard for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. Meanwhile, I thought I’d share the first chapter of my 2018 NaNoWriMo attempt, “Welcome to Betelgeuse,” in installments. This is Part 4. Thanks for reading; feel free to comment below.
Continued from Part 3.
She rode a long stretch in the woods with no turnoffs save for little vistas and parking areas that, had it been summer, might have been filled with young lovers. The cold, damp, late fall air and the clouded sky had sucked all the romance out of the evening. There were no lovers, not that she would have interrupted their rendezvous if there were.
She shuddered at the thought. It reminded her too much of that night in the woods with Derek. No, she wouldn’t make another girl go through the shame she had endured.
Then slowly, barely perceptibly, the woods began to change.
Abandoned ruts split off from the road and cut into the forest, blocked by fallen trees or young saplings growing in mid-trail. The ruts were once roads to somewhere. Old quarries? Hunting camps? Homes?
She bumped over an overgrown rail line, barely maintaining control of her scooter as its front tire got caught in the recesses of the crossing and started to follow the tracks, as if with a will of its own.
The road continued past some seasonal stops that were chained off for the winter. On the right was a silly sign for one of those children’s camps, Camp Granada. On the left, the road led down to a rundown cabin motel — Gates or Bates or something, she couldn’t make out the sign in the dark. The place was obviously deserted, as was the owner’s house that loomed on the hill behind it.
Based on the leaves on the driveways, these places had not been used for weeks. She knew from her end-of-the-season work at the motel what that meant: They were closed up tight for another six months. The food was gone, telephone disconnected, power off, well water shut down. But if she had to break in, at least there would be shelter and probably a bed.
Still, these were good signs. The empty road was beginning to look like the outskirts of a town, one she hadn’t yet seen in her prolonged time in the mountains of New York. She knew the signs of life outside a village: the old trails, the abandoned houses, the closed seasonal businesses, and then the full-timers, the diehards who made their town, whatever it may be, their home. Safety — food, perhaps a room for the night, was only a mile or two away.
Once more she revved the engine and sped into the night.
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