Ok folks! I'm done. It's finished. It comes in at 125 pages . . . but that's OK. I'm sure it will be hacked to bits before being sold/published/used to make a movie.
Refer to earlier posts here for the start of the story.
EXT. EDGE OF CLEARING - AFTERNOON
A fire is lit in the same pit, work is started building shelters. The children run around playing in the meadow. The explorers set out to trap a large quantity of food. Everyone eats their fill, then sleeps well in their new home.
EXT. EDGE OF CLEARING - NIGHT
Joshua looks over the entirety of the community feeling a sense of peace. Life in the canyon was such an odd mixture of boredom and near-panic, to just live and breath comfortably was foriegn to them all. Feeling good, he falls asleep by the fire.
INT. HOLLOW - DAY
Ryan, Donald and Sally are relatively comfortable in their hollow. Ryan started to carry Donald outside each day for some sunlight. At first they didn’t range far from the hollow, cooking inside for safety. Eventually the got used to the night noises. As the days dragged on and Teone’s group didn’t return Sally and Ryan became restless so they would secure Donald inside the hollow and go for short excursions, learning their immediate surroundings very well.
EXT. HILLCREST - DAY
Sally tries not to be bitter when thinking of the decades her people had spent in the dark caves, in the cruel canyon believing the ground surface to be a dangerous place when they could have been living comforably up here. Ryan senses her anger
It’s wonderful to see how everything has grown back after having been completely devastated.
On another of their regular short trips of exploration Ryan suddenly lets out a sharp CRY. Sally runs over, fearing the worst. She comes across him crouched on the ground, moving the brush over with his hand. She peers over his shoulder, GASPS at what she sees. There is a smooth, flat, very shiny piece of metal, brightly coloured and highly polished. Once they clear the foliage away they see it’s fairly large, but with jagged edges which indicate it’s been broken from a greater whole. Also there are strange markings stamped onto it.
What in the world is it??
I have no idea, but it’s clearly not from nature.
They stand over it for a while, gaping, trying to make sense of this discovery.
Do you think this could be a remnant of our people before the attack from the skies.
Ryan CHUCKLES to be reminded of the stories he had enjoyed as a child, but come to regard as escapist fantasy as an adult. He bends to touch the metal again.
You know, I think it is! What else can it be? A thing like this can only be made by people. Come on, help me get it up. Let’s bring it back with us.
It takes them a while to free it from where it is wedged in the earth, then the rest of the day to struggle up the hill with it. Finally they reach the hillcrest, propping the item outside the hollow they race inside to reassure Donald about their extended absence. After their explanations, they all sit around in silence, thoughtfully chewing their food.
EXT. HILLCREST - DAY
Sally, Ryan and Donald are sitting outside the hollow’s opening when Sally hears something approaching. Sally and Ryan grab some stout sticks, and stand in front of Donald. If it was one of the big, brown, furry predators they could probably scare it off, but they had never seen one venture this far up the hill. Out from the bushes emerges Sidney and Patricia, with them some strangers. Sally YELLS, drops her stick and races towards them. They share a tight embrace. Ryan comes up behind her, SHOUTING a million questions. Everyone is LAUGHING and TALKING and hugging. The village warriors stand a little apart, watching with smiles on their faces. Donald continues to sit on his spot, his mouth a wide-open smile. They sit for several hours outside the hollow catching up on their respective adventures.
INT. HOLLOW - EVENING
Sally shows the village warriors the hollow. Impressed, they GRUNT a few sounds of appreciation to each other. They have a small meal, the village men try not to register their distaste at the tough meat, then spend the rest of the day planning what to do next.
We’re meant to get word to our community in the canyon that it is quite safe here in the forest, and that we have discovered a village of people that share our ancestry.
Donald clearly can not travel. The twins should stay here with him, rest up from their many, many days of walking. I will go with one of the warriors back to the canyon, everyone else stay here.
Much gesturing between the twins and the warriors to explain this. They agree; Jared had been quite clear that it was meant as a gesture of good will for the warriors to know where the explorers’ canyon home was. They eat another meal, the warriors frown and exchange glances at it’s rough preparation.
EXT. HILLCREST - DAWN
They bid each other farewell, Sally and one warrior head down the hill. Sally is somewhat unsure of herself, being so unused to meeting new people. But they have a mutual goal to achieve, which the warrior understands well. They move quickly, being comfortable in the familiar surroundings of the forest. When they reach the clearing the both stop short. The sound of CHILDRENS’ LAUGHTER rings up the hillside softly, there is smoke visible from what must be a large fire, and the stuccato of wood being CHOPPED. The warrior is alarmed, Sally hunches on the ground as a reflex. Suddenly the obvious thought comes into her head, she LAUGHS, grabs the warrior and starts running madly down through the clearing. The first person they encounter is a child who, in playing hide & seek, is not impressed at having her spot revealed. They continue to the camp, where they are greeted with much joy and surprise. There is great confusion, with everyone SHOUTING and hugging, and Sally’s family CRYING. Joshua finally manages to get Sally’s attention, brings her and the warrior to The Elders.
EXT. EDGE OF CLEARING - DAY
It takes Sally a long time to explain everything. This time The Elders do not need to deliberate for long. The next morning, the twins, Sally and the warriors would return to the village to tell of what had transpired. Everyone’s relief when it turns out that Jared and Teone are quite safe is apparent. Joshua and George sit together for a quiet moment; they had developed quite an affection for Teone during her lessons.
EXT. EDGE OF CLEARING - MORNING
The rest of the explorers and some of the stronger members of the community ascend the slope with Sally and the warrior.
EXT. HILLCREST - MORNING
Sidney, Patricia, Sally and the warriors proceed almost immediately back to the village. Their spirits are all very high, even the warriors - who may not understand details but clearly perceive such positive feelings. Everyone else carefully carries Donald down to the camp.
INT. ROUGH HUT - MORNING
Jared and Teone awake early, quite refreshed. Outside the hut the village is beginning to stir.
EXTT. VILLAGE GROUNDS - MORNING
The two explorers haven’t even had a chance to get some breakfast when a great COMMOTION rises up at the village gates. Everyone turns quickly, hunters reach for their weapons. But it’s the search party! They have returned, and Sally is with them! Teone almost falls over in surprise. The entire village LAUGHS and dances and CELEBRATES to see them all back so soon, and completely unharmed. Teone manages to drag the twins aside to get an update. They both BABBLE in their excitement.
SIDNEY & PATRICIA
You’ll never believe what happened! We got to the hollow OK, but Donald could not travel. We stayed behind while Sally and one warrior started the long trek back to the canyon. We had explained about the giant beasts that occupy the valley. Everyone was ready for the mission . .. but once they got to the clearing they found everyone there!!
It was Jared and Teone’s turn to speak at once.
TEONE & JARED
What?!? What do you mean everyone? What do you mean at the clearing??
I know! We didn’t understand at first either. No one had been harmed the night they left the clearing. The noises we thought was them coming to harm caused them to think WE had come to harm and they left the next day.
Jared and Teone shake their heads in amazement.
They went back to the canyon, telling everyone of the forest. It was decided life would be better there so they packed up and left. These forested hills are our new home!
The relief and joy on Jared and Teone’s faces is undeniable. With their mission completed successfully, everyone celebrated all day and long into the night.
• END •
EXT. CANYON BOTTOM - DAY
Teone, the five members of the previous expedition plus four others deemed strong and capable enough to travel to the ground surface are gathered at the bottom of their crystal stalagmite home getting ready to meet again with Jared’s group.
EXT. CANYON BOTTOM - DAY
They reach the pre-arranged meeting place to find Jared’s group already waiting. Everyone is wearing leather armour; Teone notices that she is the only one with an insignia stitched on the chest. Jared and Joshua again confer, then the two parties are split into smaller groups of equal numbers from each dwelling. They are to get to know each other, and compare supplies to see if anything else is needed. Teone finds herself responding according to the strictest rules of her people, is surprised that this seems to earn instant respect.
Preparations have been made, it is time to venture to the ground surface. Whatever we encounter there, we must survive with the resources we now have and our wits. Some of you will be lost, this is for sure.
Several of the younger members look uneasy.
But you have been well prepared, and this mission is vital for the survival of our people.
Tonight we will sleep in our old home, as it is closer to the path to the surface. Tomorrow before dawn, before the beasts start to stir, you will make your way up their path. Only then will you know what you will encounter. You must be prepared for anything, try to stick together, look out for each other, and remain quick on your feet. George and I will remain behind with The Elders in our old home, to await your eventual return. If things go well we expect a small party to return in a couple of days with news. If things go badly, then we expect to never see any of you again.
Joshua, Jared and George survey the collected group carefully.
Anyone that does not feel they are ready should speak up now.
No one stirs.
Good, let’s go back up to the cave now and retire early, you have a long day ahead of you tomorrow.
INT. CAVE - NIGHT
They are awakened by Joshua and George long before dawn breaks. Their packs still ready from the night before, they need only to don their leather armour while munching some food. Teone does not feel much protected by the lightness of the garb, again briefly notices the insignia that only she carries. After some brief words of wisdom from The Elders the explorers make their way to the cave mouth.
Jared, one of us will be stationed here at the entrance keeping a lookout at all times. If someone can find their way to that ledge across the way and make a fire or send some kind of message, we will at least know you are OK.
EXT. STALAGMITE WALL - NIGHT
The fifteen explorers make their way to the canyon bottom. The silence of deep night sends a chill through the group. Teone leads the way to the path up the canyon wall. As they reach it a dim pre-dawn light starts to show, offering small confidence.
Teone, you lead the way with the twins close behind you. Everyone else form a single line and walk carefully in the same footsteps as those before you. We don’t need you falling to your deaths before we even get started!
It’s a bad joke, but the constant talk of death and danger serves well to keep everyone alert. The path is well worn by so many trips of the lumbering beasts, but the ground is soft and gives way often so Teone must be careful not to slip into the others behind her. As she comes close to the top it is the full light of morning, and she begins to hear the SCREECHING and HOWLING of the creatures that dwell on the ground surface. One of the twins taps her shoulder.
Jared has sent a message up the line: when you get close to the top, stop sowe can decide how to proceed.
Almost there now!
EXT. TOP OF PATH OUT OF CANYON - DAY
Teone catches her breath as she looks back over the canyon, the only place she has known her whole life. The rock crystal stalagmites of her home shine brightly in the distance, like beacons in an otherwise bland landscape. Further off she can see the shimmering of Jared’s peoples’ dwelling. After that the canyon turns a sharp right and disappears from view. Over her shoulder, the other direction of the canyon is still bathed in murky darkness.
We’re to find a close place on the surface to stop, that can fit everyone.
EXT. GROUND SURFACE - DAY
Sidney nods in agreement and the three of them move a short distance into a hollow of sorts, that could act as a protective place for them to hide from the predators. But Teone is overcome with a bad feeling, and when Sidney goes back to get the others she orders him to hurry.
EXT. DUSTY HOLLOW - DAY
Soon everyone files in, last of all Jared.
We can’t stay here long or we will be detected.
The beasts that have been slowly awakening a good distance away have started to stir more quickly and are looking around for their morning meal.
Quick, into that collection of vegetation!
EXT. OPEN GROUND - DAY
They race as a group, made fearful by the ROARS of the beasts. They all make it to be well-hidden by the greenery around them. Teone tugs at a leaf, rolling it in her fingers and marvelling at the texture. Just then a monster ROARING blows up and they all duck down. Jared pokes his head out to see, goes quite pale. A huge beast is on it’s back rolling and scratching itself in the very hollow they have just evacuated!
We are going to have to be very, very careful. If we had stayed there a second longer we would surely have been eaten by now. I think it’s best if we don’t stay in one place for very long.
The others nod in agreement as the twins scan the horizon for another place to hide. Everyone else watches the nearest group of beasts uneasily.
Some of us should watch the beasts closely to learn of their habits.
There’s an outcropping of rocks to the left but it takes us closer to the beasts over there. And there’s a larger collection of vegetation to the right but it’s further off and the path to it is exposed.
We’ll move in smaller groups. It’s faster, and more difficult to detect, and if some get into trouble the others will be able to help from a safer distance.
EXT. OPEN GROUND - DAY
In groups of five they race across the field into the forest. At the slightest RUMBLE or ROAR of the beasts the runners drop to the ground. By mid-day they are all safely in the forest.
EXT. FOREST - MID-DAY
Teone breathes deeply of the strangely moist and flavourful air.
Well! Let’s not stay here at the edge, move in a little further so the beasts can’t see us!
Everyone jumps up. As they make their way deeper into the forest there is a CRY from within the group. JOHN, a small but quick member of Jared’s group catches his foot in a tangle of roots, twisting his ankle. Two others lend a shoulder for John.
Now we will be slowed down by John.
EXT. FOREST CLEARING - MID-DAY
The group removes their heavy packs and sits for a well-deserved rest. Some take a bit of dried meat or drink some water. Teone notices Jared lost in thought again, so studies their surroundings carefully for anything she might recognize as food. Perhaps some roots or grubs, even a small rodent. She taps the stem of some very tall vegetation, finding it sturdy and strong.
I’m going to climb up this to see what I can find in the distance.
NO! Not you.
He selects STEVE to do it. She manages to hold herself back from scowling at him, some of that stringent training must have sunk in after all!
Suddenly Ginger jumps up, flailing about and SCREAMING. Everyone looks up in confusion and alarm, too much noise could attract a predator. She cannot be quieted. Just as suddenly she stops, slumps, and falls to the ground. Jared comes forward, telling the others to keep their distance. There is a column of insects stretching from her body to a nest, right where she had been sitting.
A chill runs through the silent group, this quick succession of bad luck does nothing to raise their confidence level. Someone silenty re-distributes the contents of her pack.
You MUST take care! Watch closely where you sit and step. Keep your eyes out for the people around you.
Just then the tree-climber jumps down breathless with excitement, having missed the whole thing.
We are in a valley that is ruled by the beasts, but surrounding the valley are hills with more vegetation like this!
His laughter dies quickly as the crowd parts and he sees Ginger’s corpse. Jared and Teone move away to discuss what to do next.
PHIL, from Teone’s dwelling, takes the loss of Ginger particularly badly. He’d had a difficult time climbing out of his canyon home, so gripped by fear he could not turn back, blindly following the person before him with all his senses screaming.
He grinds his teeth, staring at Jared and Teone with cold hatred, blaming the two for their collective dangerous position.
John, do you feel that, without the burden of a pack, you could make it back down to the canyon alone to deliver the news that we will be proceeding up this hillside to look for a safe home?
John nods dully.
We will send an escort to take you as far as the top of the path. In the meantime we will investigate this strange landscape more carefully. Who would like to be in charge of putting Ginger to rest?
A few hands go up. Those move off to set up a funeral pyre, and hold a sombre ceremony of remembrance. John’s escorts leave, with each of his arms draped over their shoulders. The others move off in groups of two or three to familiarize themselves with the territory.
Ok dudes, this is where I'm going to stop posting! I'm on page 50 of my 195 page manuscript, so I'll probably put a 'tease' or two up as I keep working. I would expect it to take a couple of months on the outside to adapt; once I'm finished I'll be actively seeking an agent/publisher.edit - skip to the end . . . can't very well give the WHOLE THING away? Can I!
INT. DEEP INSIDE CAVE - DAY
They retire to a quiet corner of the cave with their own little fire, away from the bustle of those who are getting ready to move out and the rest who are helping them.
Our people have had a long and distinguished existence on this world. This harsh life we now know is a recent development. The stories that you have heard but not wanted to listen to are all true, although somewhat exaggerated. Not long ago there was a great and terrible war, brought by those foreign to this world, that came down from the skies and wreaked havoc, death and destruction on our forebears. Their weapons basically wiped out the race - until yesterday we thought this tiny group all that was left - and did irreparable damage to our planet. The water supply was poisoned with some very concentrated toxins, to create the bizarre acidic walls of water you see rage below us intermittently. Before that the water flowed in an endless stream; calm to the touch and sweet to the taste.
Teone GASPS in surprise, unable to imagine being able to immerse herself in water.
The races from other worlds didn’t stop there. They assaulted the surface of our world from the skies, pounding us with bombs and weapons we had never known before. Some where impossible to detect, but they did terrible things to the animal communities; altering and mutating them into the raging behemoths you see today. Almost entirely everyone was killed, and the great-grandparents of this small group you have known all your life finally gathered together at the top of this canyon. The canyon had been quickly worn away by what was then a constant torrent of acidic water.
Eventually the torrent slowed to the occasional floods you know today; by then the full effects of the animal mutations had taken hold and even more people were lost. The survivors fled down into the relative safety of this canyon. They tried to hold on to as much knowledge of the times gone past as they could. That they instilled into the parents of our current Elders, who now try to pass it on to us.
(bursting with questions)
Why did these other races attack us? Why did they want to kill us? Where did they come from? What do you mean ‘from the skies’? Why couldn’t we defend ourselves??
She stopped when a warning glance from Joshua causes George to raise his palm, facing her.
I cannot answer all those questions now, there is too much. But I will say this: our people were strong and illustrious. They held great knowledge, wisdom and power. Our world was rich with resources and treasures, and our people dwelt in peace, harmony and perfect co-existence with the plant and animal life. The other races wanted to get some of what we had for themselves, but we would not give it to them. Fighting was unknown to our people; for so long they had thrived in cooperationg and agreement with each other that there was no need for weapons or defenses. They refused to give in to the irrational demands of the outsiders, giving good and solid reasons. They thought that was the end of it. Being completely defenseless and unprepared, our planet was basically destroyed.
Teone sits completely still, mouth open, stunned at these revelations.
When I was a young boy, my great-grandfather was still alive. He used to tell me every day what life was like before the wars, what he used to do, how he used to look, how things used to be. For all my life I have carried the knowledge that our people were once great and strong, and that this world was once plentiful and beautiful. That is why I spend most of my time inside this cave; I cannot bear to see the devastation and destruction.
What is my job going to be in this cause of ours?
There is a pause as both George and Joshua are too overcome with memoris to speak.
You are going to help prepare those from the other community defend themselves against the raging beasts on the surface, and to help lead the expedition to the ground surface.
This will be difficult and dangerous, and take much tedious preparation. Once you set out at least some of you will die.
Joshua and George exchange glances over Teone’s head.
Well, now that I know all this I will surely perish if I don’t do something about it. I promise to learn quickly and do my best.
Good. Then you are ready. Go now with George and the others from yesterday to begin your training. I must consult again with The Elders.
INT.CAVE - DAY
Teone follows George to where Sally and the twins are sitting together, waiting. George puts them to fashioning tools and making weapons, while she sits for long periods and studies the history and customs of her people.
This is boring! Why do I have to learn this?! Let’s just get out and get to work.
You are going to be interacting with strangers as a leader and must know WELL the rules of association.
INT.CAVE - DAY
Preparations have been underway for days. Teone is beginning to look somewhat weary from all the mental effort and lack of activity.
Quickly! Keep working. There isn’t much time. It was very important in the times before, that people interacted correctly. It was one of the signifiers of how great our people were.
But it’s so stiff and formal! How is this going to help me when we are on the ground surface and I am helpig battle a charging beast or other dangers?
That is why you must learn it so well. As a leader, it has to be instinctive and automatic. Even in those times you must respond correctly to the strangers.
But what about them?? Why don’t they have to learn any of this??
Enough questions. Back to studying or Joshua will want to know why you have fallen behind.
Teone runs down, once again, all the reponses that were expected of one in any eventuality. Just when she thought she might burst from the boredom of inacivity it was time to gather up the new items they had prepared and go down into the canyon to meet with the other explorers.
INT. CAVE - NIGHT
Teone’s people erupt into CELEBRATION when she produces the bones and pelts. A good meal for three days running! She decides this is a good time to reveal her discovery of people in another dwelling.
I found something today that is going to change all of our lives forever.
Her people fall into a wary silence.
There is another community that dwells a ways down the canyon in this direction. They are just like us except we do not know them.
A GASP runs through the CROWD.
They do not live with the danger of the surface beasts as we do, and they have devised a system to be able to predict when the acid water will flow next.
A GROUP ELDER steps forward.
This is importance news. We will go to committee and discuss this immediately. Teone, you come with us. The rest of you go about your usual routine.
At the word ‘committee’ Teone rounds her shoulders but follows The Elder to their place by the fire in the back of the cave regardless. After their meeting she is sent away to have dinner as they deliberate. Much sooner than she expects another ELDER approaches her.
Teone we have decided to send a delegation in the morning, and are now selecting the five that will accompany you.
(stammering in surprise)
Oh! Good. Yes! Ok, I will be ready to lead them in the morning!
INT. CAVE - MORNING
Teone awakens earlier than usual, is surprised to find other already preparing to depart. The leader, JOSHUA, is a medium-aged, reasonable man. SALLY is younger, agile and strong. GEORGE is weak in body but quick of mind. SIDNEY and PATRICIA, twins, are good climbers, with sharp eyes and excellent aim when pitching rocks.
Be on your way then. Joshua and George have been told what to say to the other delegation. And take care!
Those of the rest of the community that aren’t completely adle-minded give well-wishes and good-byes.
EXT. STALAGMITE WALL - MORNING
The delegation helps George climb down the crystal face. When they reach the bottom Teone begins marching to the meeting-place but is stopped by Joshua.
I want to take a minute to regroup and make sure we all know exactly what we are doing. Don’t roll your eyes, Teone; always impatient. It is very important our approach to the other delegation. We have to make sure we come across as capable and in our strength, so that when it comes time to make decisions we have equal voice to them.
Teone feels sheepish in realizing this is a good point.
They might think themselves somehow ahead of us or superio since they have lived with one less danger than we. But we hold the key to the information they want, and they will not be able to take on the challenge of the beasts down here without us.
Joshua looks sternly at each delegate in turn.
When we come within sight of their group, I want you to all walk straight and tall and bear yourselves with dignity and honour. Let me speak and do not interrupt. However when it comes time to introduce yourself speak in a loud and clear voice. Be brief and to the point. We will have to discuss and I want to get back here well before nightfall.
Joshua looks about nervously; George goes quite pale.
EXT. CANYON BOTTOM - DAY
The group sets out, with Teone in front, Joshua and George clustered in the middle, Sidney and Patricia flanking them, and Sally bringing up the rear. They walk steadily and quickly, soon arriving at the designated meeting-place (about half-way between the two dwellings). They are surprised to find no one there.
Perhaps we are early.
The twins eyes’ carefully scour the canyon, looking for signs of movement or a possible ambush.
I’ll go off ahead to check things out.
She is stopped short by Joshua’s voice.
NO! We stay here as a group. They will come shortly and we will meet them with dignity.
Almost immediately they hear VOICES (O.S.) approaching and station themselves according to the pre-decided arrangement: Joshua in front slightly, George behind and to his right, the rest in a solid line at back. A MURMER runs through them at what they see next.
EXT. CANYON BOTTOM - DAY
The six members of the other delegation - lead by Jared - are dressed, not in rags and pelts, but in robes of finery and colours the others have never seen before. Worn and ripped in places, and faded, the garments are a clear indication of some former glory. With them they carry a banner bearing some unfamiliar symbols.
Immediately Jared and Joshua step forward, speaking quietly for quite some time.
Teone strains forward to hear better; Sally’s arm on her sleeve holds her back. George steps up, producing some mysterious objects from his pouch that Teone can not see clearly. One of them glints and glitters in the dim daylight, as if to shine with a light of it’s own.
Finally they are given a chance to introduce themselves, then briefly to intermingle and speak some polite words to each other. The groups part, starting back to their respective dwellings, after setting a time and place for the next meeting.
INT. CAVE - NIGHT
By the time Teone is ready for bed, Joshua and George are still in deep discussion with The Elders. She falls asleep, grumpy that her discovery has been taken over.
INT. CAVE - MORNING
Teone awakens first, looks around herself, seeing the cave differently than she ever had before. She gets up, noticing that Sally seems to have bonded with the twins, while Joshua and George have also moved their sleeping arrangement, to be closer to The Elders.
Hmph! Everyone’s got a sense of belonging except me.
She chews on some leftover stew from the day before, planning to spend another day on the canyon floor, when suddenly George is beside her.
Come Teone, The Elders want to speak to you.
She’s so annoyed she briefly considers refusing, but her curiosity gets the better of her.
INT. DEEP INSIDE CAVE - DAY
Teone, you have a special role to play in our new existence. Not only because the other community was your discovery, but because you possess a special combination of wits and physical prowess.
Teone blushes at the unexpected praise.
We have much work to do, and we have not yet decided precisely how to proceed. But we want to start getting you ready for the trials ahead right away.
We are in agreement with the other community that we must make an effort to move to the ground surface if our race is to have any chance of survival. The weakest and youngest of us are going to move in with them immediately, out of the constant danger of the hulking beasts. That way they can at least get some fresh air and movement when the acid waters are not running.
Teone agrees with this reasonable idea.
As well, our two camps are going to start preparing a unit to explore the ground surface and find a safe place for us all to live. Would you like to be involved in that effort?
Teone nods vigourously.
Good, I thought you would. But you must be prepared, and learn from Joshua and George the secrets and old ways of our people.
What was that shining object George and Joshua showed the other delegation yesterday?
All in time, Teone. All in time.
He turns her attention to Joshua and George, who are waiting to begin her instruction. They retire to a quiet corner of the cave with their own little fire, away from the bustle of those who are getting ready to move out and the rest who are helping them.
I find myself well suited for this kind of writing. I worked very hard to get good at prose, but this visually-oriented style works for me very well. I checked some scripts on the web yesterday; "The Abyss" is the closest thing I could find to my story. An Action-Adventure story with a great challenge in an unfamiliar environment with an element of the fantastic, some love, a little bit of death, and eventual success. It comes in at just over 31 000 words. My novel is just over 64 000. So, to keep the pace the same I am matching 2 pages to 1 . . .it's working.)
INT. CAVE - NIGHT
She gets a warm RECEPTION when the others see fresh meat, then rests at the cave entrance to ponder over the day’s events.
INT. CAVE - DAYBREAK
Teone stirs in her bundle of pelts; even before she is properly awake she knows she can’t get down to the canyon today. The burning odour of the acid river passing below them permeates the cave. Teone rolls over to sleep more, as it will be a couple of days before the acids fully evaporate from the canyon floor.
EXT. CAVE - DAY
Teone tumbles down the stalagmite wall, almost falling in her haste to get back to the meeting-place. She is running even before her feet hit the ground. In the opposite direction a group of surface beasts devour a prey they had dragged into the canyon. Teone sticks close to the opposite canyon wall, dodging rocks and obstacles, running full-tilt.
EXT. SHARP CURVE IN CANYON - DAY
Teone almost collides with Jared, who has been waiting a long time.
He catches her arm as she stumbles.
Are you OK?
Fine. I’m fine.
They stand a bit apart, again trying to size each other up. Jared is tall with dark hair and blazing dark eyes, lean, with an intelligent forehead. Teone is shorter but also lean, with curly light-brown long hair and blue eyes. Teone pauses, trying to think of something to say.
Where do you live again? You didn’t tell me last time. Are you alone or are there people with you?
Teone pulls him to the other side of the canyon, pointing around the corner.
There, a good distance this way is our dwelling. We have several families together in a cave just like yours here.
They both squint into the distance.
Have you been living here long? I can’t believe we never knew about each other’s communities before!
As long as anyone can remember, we have lived like this. The Elders tell stories of a time passed when things were different, but that is far before anyone’s personal recollection.
At the mention of the stories Teone makes a face. Jared looks at her with curiousity.
We should eat. Do you want to some to our dwelling for a meal?
I can’t go any farther than this, some of my people are stationed a ways up the canyon there. I was told to keep to this distance.
Jared knows she is lying.
Well, let’s at least sit down here and have something to eat then.
Teone begins moving towards a crevice in the canyon wall.
What are you doing?
Well, if we’re going to sit here then it’s best to keep out of the open. Here, I think we can both fit into this space.
There is nothing to fear, our calculations show that the acid river won’t pass again for several days.
Teone is surprised by the unfamiliar word and the fact that these people can determine when the acid water will flood past, but tries to cover up.
Oh I know that, but we must still be aware of the beasts that venture down into the canyon at times. There were some devouring a prey on the other side of our dwelling when I left this morning.
The beasts stay up on the ground surface. We have never seen them come down into the canyon.
There is a path on our side that they sometimes take. They use it to chase down and kill prey. We must be careful when picking over the remains for our own meals, lest we become prey ourselves.
Jared grabs her arm excitedly.
You have a way to get to the ground surface??
Teone takes notice of the feel of his hand on her arm.
But we don’t go there! To walk outside the canyon means sure death.
Jared, lost in thought, absent-mindedly hands Teone some meat and roots to chew on. Teone, caught up in her own thoughts realizes that Jared has been sitting motionless, staring in front of him for quite some time. She nudges him gently.
Are you OK? What’s the matter?
Jared starts, and frowns at having been interrupted so.
He seems perturbed so she turns away from him gazing in the direction of his dwelling. After a time she glances at him quickly to see if he’s still deep in thought. This time he notices her attention.
I wonder if . . .
I was thinking we might ..
They both laugh as things settle between them again.
I wonder if there are other dwelling with even more people further down the canyon that we don’t know about?
Not that way. There is a steep incline that creates a waterfall when the acid waters flow. Even when the canyon is dry it is impassable.
Perhaps in the other direction from where we live. As far as I know no one has ever explored it.
Jared is again lost in thought and does not comment. Teone brushes his sleeve gently to get his attention.
What were you going to say before?
I was wondering how we could organize an expedition up to the ground surface using this path you say is there. My people are fed up with this paltry canyon existence and have been trying for a long time to find a way up to the surface.
I am going to have to bring this all to the attention of my community. I haven’t told anyone yet what I found here because I knew that it would go to committee for a decision, and once something goes to committee with us it never comes out again.
You came here all by yourself without telling anyone you were looking for us?
Yeah, well, they’d just hold me back and I’m best on my own in a fight anyway - if I had to fight you which I didn’t think I would - but it’s not like I’m not prepared!
I think you must know now that you have nothing to fear from us.
So how do you think I should bring this up to my people, so that they will view it as a good thing and not take forever deciding what to do?
Just tell them that only today you met me and the others. We should set a time tomorrow that delegations from both our groups can meet at some middle distance. Only then can a proper decision be made.
You can do it! Tell them they are invited tomorrow morning to meet us . . . there, at that outcropping towards your dwelling. Bring five others besides yourself and I will do the same.
Teone nods. Realizes, reluctantly, that she has to leave now.
Until tomorrow then!
EXT. CANYON BOTTOM - DAY
Teone runs home at full speed. Once there she continues to where the hulking beasts had fed that morning, gathering a few bones for soup and pelts for clothing. She climbs up the stalagmite home before dark.
All right, with the help of a nice fellow on MySpace (filmmaker from NY) I have started to convert the TEXT of my book to a screenplay, drawing new images plus incorporating the ones I already made. It's tiring! I've been at it for six hours today. 11 pages of the book become 4 pages of the screenplay . . . only 183 to go!)
edited to remove drawings because it's not a proper storyboard and I don't need them for what I'm doing right now anyways
EXT. CANYON - DAY - ESTABLISHING
A parched and sterile canyon winds through a barren landscape. In the canyon rise two groups of crystaline stalagmites, seperated by a considerable distance and a sharp curve in the canyon path. Caves have been burned into the upper portion of the crystaline stalagmites caves; here the people have made a home. Otherwise the canyon is bare and stark. On the ground surface above the canyon the ground is worn away by the enormous hulking beasts that dwell there. In the distance can be seen grasses and even further off an hill on which grows healthy trees.
INT. CAVE - NIGHT
There are people gathered around a burning fire listening to THE ELDERS tell stories of the past. In the background there is the HOWLING and SCREAMING of those possessed by madness. TEONE, 22, brings her younger siblings to the fire so they can be calmed by the stories, then goes to sit against the wall by herself, as usual.
EXT. CAVE ENTRANCE - EARLY MORNING
Having woken earlier than usual, Teone pauses on her morning exit to find food, scanning the horizon of the ground surface across from the cave to check the raging beasts’ activity and sniffs at the breeze to confirm no acridity from a possible approaching wall of acid water. In no hurry, she stretches languidly. Once she is confident there is no danger she begins to climb down the stalagmite to the ground surface of the canyon.
EXT. CANYON BOTTOM - DAY
Teone walks along the canyon bottom looking for any insects, grubs or roots she may collect for food. Whatever she finds she puts into a pouch stapped across one shoulder. Deep in thought she walks absent-mindedly until she comes upon her usual turning-around point. Looking up at the hazy orb of the sun she realizes it is well before mid-day and deliberates whether to turn around or keep going. Before she realizes it her feet are moving her forward. She stops to pick up a few rocks in case she meets with some unexpected danger.
EXT. SHARP CURVE IN CANYON - DAY
Teone begins to consider returning home when she hears voices (O.S.) She crouches behind a rock, shocked to see complete strangers.
Come on, push! You’ve almost got it, just get the boulder rocking and I’ll grab the rodents as they run away.
Teone almost falls over from surprise. Her people had always believed they were the only ones living in the canyon! She screws up her courage and steps from behind the rock
You know, if you brace the bottom with a smaller rock you may be able to actually tip this thing over. Although I don't see why you would want to, there doesn't seem to be any use in it.
At the sound of a stranger’s voice Jared spins around while another man and a woman dive behind the boulder for safety.
Where did you come from?? I've never seen you before!
Oh, we're just travelling in a large pack looking for food when I decided to explore a bit by myself.
By now the two that had ducked behind the rock, Lila and Tomas, came out to gaze in wonder at this stranger; just like them yet completely unknown. The four of them faced off against each other for a moment, trying to size each other up.
Look, you three heave on this rock like you were before and I'll jam this smaller rock under it. That will act as a fulcrum and the four of us should be able to roll this thing over.
Jared, Lila and Tomas push on the boulder until it starts rocking and Teone is able to jam a rock under one end. Caught by surprise some rodents come scurrying out to be promptly clubbed to death and divided amongst the foursome.
I'm Jared. This is Lila and Tomas.
I'm called Teone.
The four exchange nods.
I must get back, my people will wonder what happened to me.
Teone begins to move away unsteadily.
Bring your people here. We should all meet and have a feast of celebration.
I will, but probably tomorrow. Where do you live anyway?
Lila and Tomas start to walk away. Teone is delighted to see another set of stalagmites in the distance.
Do you live there?
We live this way, but it's a long ways off and I really must go now! I will return another time.
Before Jared can answer she breaks into a run, dashes behind the rock and heads for home.
"This way," whispered Patricia, her sharp eyes caught sight of something already. Sydney nodded in agreement so the three of them moved a short distance forward. There was a hollow of sorts, formed in the ground, that would act as a protective place to hide them from the predators. But Teone was overcome with a bad feeling, and when Sidney went back to get the others she ordered him to hurry.
She and Patricia did not have long to wait, as soon everyone filed into the hollow, last of all Jared. He said, "we can't stay here long or we will be detected."
Indeed, the beasts had started to stir more quickly and look around for their morning meal. "Quick, into that collection of vegetation!" he pointed to some weeds and growth not far off.
They raced in a group, made fearful by the roars and screeches of the beasts. They all made it, however, and finally sat down well-hidden by the greenery around them. Teone tugged at a leaf and rolled it in her fingers marvelling at the texture, having never seen or felt such a thing before. Just then a monster roaring blew up and they all ducked down!
Jared poked his head over the top of the vegetation to see what was happening, and looked back to the hollow that they had just come from to see a huge beast on it's back rolling and scratching itself! He sat down quite pale, and the others looked quickly to see what has happening.
"We are going to have to be very, very careful around here. If we were still in there we would surely all be eaten by now." he said. "I think it's best if we don't stay in one place for very long."
The others nodded their agreement, made sombre by the thought of what could have happened if they had waited just a little bit longer. The twins scanned the horizon for another place to hide as the others watched the nearest group of beasts uneasily.
"I think some of us should watch the beasts closely to learn their habits and characteristics," said Teone.
Jared nodded in agreement and selected a group of three people to keep their eyes on the beasts and remember any possible useful details.
The twins came back, "There's an outcropping of rocks to the left but it takes us closer to those beasts over there" they pointed in unison, "and there's another, larger collection of vegetation to the left but it's farther off and the path to it is exposed."
Jared deliberated while Teone made her own assessment.
"We'll move in smaller groups. It's faster and more difficult to detect and if some get into trouble the others will be able to help from a safer distance."
It was now broad daylight (or rather the misty, opaque kind of light that seemed to drown the planet in perpetual near-twilight) and they were all anxious to get under good cover quickly. Groups of five were selected to move to the forest in the distance. It was slow going. At the slightest rumble or roar from the nearest beast, whichever group was making it's way would drop to the ground as they had been taught to do. Finally, by mid-day they were all safely in the forest. The air was strangely moist and flavourful compared to the dry, hard air of the canyon floor. Teone breathed deeply for a moment.
"Well! Let's not stay here on the edge, move in a little further so the beasts can't see us!" barked Jared.
Everyone jumped into action. As they made their way into the forest a bit there was a cry from within the group. John, a small but quick member of Joshua's group, had got his foot caught in a tangle of roots and twisted his ankle. Two others lent a shoulder for John to lean on, as Jared -yet again- instructed the group to be careful!
"Now we will be slowed down by John," he remarked testily.
John returned a bashful look, as the others tried their best to console him. They stopped not far away, in a small clearing that was cool and damp in the mid-day, and Jared told them it was time to rest.
In their planning they had decided to move only at the very beginning and the very end of the day, when the beasts were least active. At mid-day they should rest and try to gather as much information about their surroundings as possible. A few of them took a bite of dried meat or a drink of water. Teone could see that Jared was lost in thought again. She studied their surroundings carefully, looking for anything that she could recognize as food. Some roots or a rodent perhaps, even some grubs or maggots. She didn't want to eat from her supply of dried food until it was absolutely necessary. As she was looking around she noticed that some of the vegetation grew quite high, and when she tapped on it she found it to be sturdy and strong.
"Hey Jared," she exclaimed, "I'm going to climb up this to see what I can find in the distance."
And she prepared to climb up the tree.
"NO!" barked Jared again, "Not you."
He selected someone else to do it. She was startled at his tone and angered to be instructed so, but as the other person was already climbing up the tree there was nothing she could do. she didn't even throw Jared a scowling glance as she so wanted to do - part of her instruction had been about the hierarchy and that if she allowed dissent to show then there would be less obedience by the others - but she filed the incident away with the other things that she wanted to talk to him about when there was a moment. As they waited for the person to climb back down the tree with a report, there was another cry from the group. Someone jumped up and started flailing around and screaming. Everyone looked on in confusion, what could be the problem and tried to quiet the person down. Too much noise might attract a predator!
But she could not be quieted, until suddenly she stopped and slumped and just fell to the ground. Noone knew what to do. Jared came forward and told them to all keep their distance. It was Ginger, a quiet young explorer from Teone's dwelling. As they watched a row of insects marched from her to back where she had been sitting. The column stretched from her to the nest and could not be interrupted. The unfortunate soul had sat in a nest of apparently poison bugs, and they were now feeding from her somehow. Probably her blood.
Another chill went through the group, especially the ones that knew her well. Everyone was feeling rather sombre at this quick succession of bad luck. If this kept up, most of them would be hurt or dead by the end of the day! Someone silently picked up the unfortunate soul's pack and distributed the contents throughout the crowd. Jared made yet another lecture on the importance of being careful; watch closely where you sit and step, keep your eyes out for the people around you too. Just then the one that had climbed up the tree to survey the landscape jumped down breathless with excitement.
"We are in a valley that is ruled by the beasts, but surrounding the valley is hills with more vegetation like this!" he said laughing.
His laughter died quickly as the crowd parted and he could see the corpse lying on the ground. Jared told them to stay where they were as he consulted with Teone about what to do next.
(I'm still getting used to this kind of drawing so don't laugh too hard . . by the time this operation is over I should be an expert! But I don't know how I will do it. With 153 pages to go but only two weeks vacation left for another year . . . )
The group packed up everything that they had prepared; they needed to know that they could travel with it, and once they met the other delegation at their spot in the canyon they needed to compare items to see if anything was missing. Teone put on the leather armour that had been prepared for her by the others, wondering briefly at the insignia that was stitched on the chest. None of the others had one like it. She put on her pack, filled with items of survival, some weapons and a small supply of dried foods. The others all had similar packs, some of the stronger ones carried more than their share. This time the group consisted of nine people; the original five plus whatever volunteers were deemed strong and capable enough to be of service. They moved out of the cave as one unit, surveying the surrounding landscape for any lurking danger carefully before - one by one - they began to climb down.
Again they proceeded to the pre-determined meeting place, again with Teone in front and the rest assembled behind her. But when they reached the spot, where this time the others were waiting, Joshua and George again stepped ahead of everyone else and Teone was left to line up with the others. The other delegation was dressed similar to them this time; in leather armours and carrying packs. They also had some kind of spears with them.
Teone briefly wondered where they had got such long and straight branches to use. But quickly forgot when she saw Jared step forward from his group again. He conferred briefly with Joshua and all must have been to their satisfaction because the parties were divided into smaller groups of equal numbers from each delegation. This was in order to get to know each other and also to compare supplies and weapons to see if there was anything needed. Teone found herself responding and carrying herself according to the strictest rules of her people, and she was surprised to find that this seemed to bring an instant respect from the others. But she wanted to talk strategy! Just when she was going to bring it up, Jared spoke to the entire assemblage,
"We have decided that our groups are as well prepared as they are ever going to be for this mission. There is little more that we can do here, it is time to venture to the surface. Whatever we encounter there we are going to have to use the resources that we have now and our wits to survive. Some of you will be lost, that is for sure."
At this some of the younger members looked uneasy. "But you have been well prepared, and this mission is vital for the survival of our people. If we continue to live this subsistence we will surely die out."
Joshua spoke up now, "Tonight we will sleep in our old home, as it is closer to the path to the surface. Tomorrow before dawn, before the beasts start to stir, you will make your way up their path to the surface. Only then will we know what we will encounter. You must be prepared for anything, try to stick together, try to look out for each other, and remain quick on your feet. George and I will stay behind with the Elders in our old home, to await your eventual return. If things go well we will expect a small party to come back in a couple of days with news. If things go badly, then we expect to never see any of you again."
At this, Joshua, Jared and George surveyed the collected group carefully. "Anyone that does not feel they are ready should speak up now."
"Good, let's go back up to the cave now and retire early, you have a long day ahead of you tomorrow." Teone was overcome with a tense feeling of dread and worry that was most unfamiliar to her. In all the time of preparing she hadn't really thought ahead to what they would have to endure and the treacherous circumstances of their mission. She had often watched the beasts fight and take down prey across the canyon from the safe vantage of her cave's entrance. She knew how quick and vicious the beasts were. How constantly hungry, how easily enraged. She looked again at the spears the others carried and did not feel much consoled. The worry must have been apparent on her face because when she looked up she saw Jared watching her. She tried to cover up her concern without much success, and was relieved when he nodded encouragement to her.
None of them slept very much that night.
They were awakened by Joshua and George while it was still pitch darkness out. Teone had never been awake at this time of night, she found the total darkness and the silence outside eerie. Their bags were still packed from the day before, so all they had to do while munching on some breakfast was to don their leather armour. Again Teone did not feel much protected by the lightness of the garb, and again she noticed the unique insignia on her uniform. None of the others had it. She made a mental note to ask Jared about it later. But now they had to move out. The Elders gave them some brief words of wisdom, and Joshua and George walked them to the cave entrance. Teone noticed a peculiar feeling in her stomach; like butterflies were running amok in there.
Joshua said to Jared, "One of us will be stationed here at the entrance looking out at all times. If someone can find their way back on the surface level to that ledge across the way that we talked about and make a fire or send some kind of message to us that we would at least know you are Ok."
Jared nodded. The rest of them, fifteen in total, were listening intently in the darkness for any rumblings or rustlings of the beasts on the canyon bottom below. The silence sent a chill through the group. Teone sniffed at the breeze to see if she could detect the acrid odour of the acid waters, then felt sheepish when she remembered that Jared's people had calculated the next wave to be a few days from now.
They had already begun the descent down the stalagmite in the darkness. The group moved quickly and soundlessly down the rock crystal. The others were not as familiar with the landscape so Teone and her group lead the way to the path up the canyon wall. Everyone was tense and silent, and they all kept their sense awareness for any movement. But all was still. When they reached the path a dim pre-dawn light started to show, which was good, since noone had ever ventured up the path before.
Jared spoke, "Teone, you lead the way and the twins will stick close behind you. Everyone else form a single file and walk carefully in the same footsteps as the one before you steps. We don't want any of you falling to your deaths before we even get started!"
It was a bad joke, but the constant talk of death and danger did much to keep them alert and aware. Teone started to pick her way up the steep path, worn down by so many trips of lumbering beasts dragging their prey behind them to feast on the canyon floor in peace. It was not as hard going as she expected, but the ground was soft and gave away often so she had to be careful not to slip into the others behind her. Already she was noticing a difference in the terrain from what she was used to on the canyon floor; there it was all hard, unforgiving rock, but here it was sandy and her foot could dig into the ground. She wondered in anticipation what other novelties awaited her on the surface. The group wound slowly behind her, with Jared bringing up the rear.
As she came close to the top it was the full light of morning and from here she could begin to hear the screeching and howling of the beasts and creatures that dwelt on the ground surface. As she considered what to do, one of the twins tapped her on the shoulder.
A message from Jared had been sent up the line, "When you get close to the top, stop so they could decide how to proceed."
She sent a message back down to him, "Almost there now!".
When the opening of the path on the ground level yawned before her she stopped her march. While she waited for instructions she looked back over the canyon that she had known as her only home. From here it was a breathtaking view.
The rock crystal stalagmites of her home shone brightly in the distance, like beacons in an otherwise bland landscape. Off farther in the distance she could see the shimmering of Jared's peoples' dwellings. The canyon floor, so dry and barren, from here looked varied and interesting. Ahead of her the canyon snaked on for a bit after the sharp incline by Jared's home, then turned a sharp right and disappeared from view. The ground surface on the other side of the canyon looked just as frightening and uninviting as the side they had just climbed up to. She looked back over her shoulder to see what was in the canyon on the other side, but the light had not yet reached that far and it was still bathed in a murky darkness.
Another tap on her shoulder as instructions came up the line, Teone and the twins were meant to go up to the surface and try to find a quick place to stop that would fit everybody. They proceeded slowly to the top, and looked over carefully to see if there were any beasts about. Nothing that they could see close-by, just off in the distance some large shapes slowly rumbled and moved languidly in the early-morning light. The three of them scampered up to the ground level and felt quite exhilarated at having come this far.
(no drawings for this one because there's no action. but wait until this afternoon!)
"What is my job going to be to help with this cause?" she asked them both fiercely.
There was a pause as both George and Joshua were too overcome with the memories to speak right away. "You are going to help us prepare those from the nieghbouring community make defence against the raging beasts on the surface," said Joshua after clearing his throat, "and to prepare an exploration party to go to the surface and try to find a place for us all to live there."
Teone's eyes must have shone at the idea because George spoke next, "This will be difficult and dangerous and take much tedious preparation, and once you set out at least some of you will surely die." The two men exchanged glances over Teone's head. "Well," she answered, "now that I know all this I will surely die if I don't do something about it. But I promise to learn quickly and to do my best."
"Good," said Joshua, "then you are ready. Go now with George and the other members of your delegation from yesterday to begin your training. I must consult again with the Elders."
Teone followed George to where Sally and the twins were sitting together waiting for them. They seemed as eager to get started as Teone was, but immediately she noticed a difference in their treatment and the tasks that they were assigned from what it was for her. George put them to fashioning tools and making weapons, while she had to sit for long hours and study the history of her people and the customs that used to be.
"This is boring!", she declared at mid-day, "why do I have to learn this! Let's just go out and get to work."
"It doesn't work that way," said George, "you are going to be interacting with strangers and you must know the rules of association before you can begin."
So she started to recite again the protocol and politenesses of times gone by.
It was something new to Teone to have to listen to others, to take instructions and to be told what to do and how to do it. Even as a very young child, her mother saw that Teone was capable of taking care of herself, so delegated her time to the younger, more needy siblings. Teone roamed about the cave on her own, going from group to group, watching their actions and listening to their talk. As she grew into childhood she learned which members could impart useful learning, and which ones were likely to burst out into screams or flail about with no warning. The latter she quickly learned to ignore. She would return to her mother with the knowledge of skills or habits that she had just seen, and they would briefly deliberate over which way was better. But her mother often didn't have time, and as Teone got slightly older, her talk became less about chores and responsibilities, and more about her observations and assessments of things around her.
This would often cause her mother to frown, as she couldn't bear to be distracted from her work. So Teone started to keep many ideas to herself, rather than burden her mother with unnecessary talk. But she was still very young, and Joshua and George -being much older- did not have time to teach a youngster the ways of life. Then, after her father's accident, she started spending much less time in the cave, so she never really got to know the two men in any meaningful way.
Now, as they sat with her new lessons, she realized briefly that she wasn't really getting to know the people at all; being so focused on learning. But again, she didn't have time to consider what she COULD be doing, as it was imperative to keep working at what she SHOULD be doing.
In the days that followed Teone was immersed in her new studies. Often she would grumble and complain about the seemingly endless insignificant details that were being taught to her, and look jealously over at the others who were busy preparing weapons, leather armour and packs full of supplies for their mission. Once in a while one of the other would wander over to see what she was doing all the time, yawn with boredom and go back to their busy group. Teone waited until Joshua was occupied in discussion with the elders before she asked George precisely why she had to learn all of this stuff. Joshua didn't like it when she asked, he became impatient at her complete unawareness of the rules and mores of her once-great society and just prodded her on her learning.
"Quickly," he'd say, "keep working. There isn't much time."
George gazed at her and thought about how to answer the question. "It was very important in the times before," he explained, "that people interacted with each other correctly. It was one of the signifiers of how great our people were."
"But it's so stiff and formal!" she said, "how is this going to help me when we are on the ground surface and I have to help battle the charging beasts or other dangers??"
"That is why you have to learn it so well," answered George, "because it has to be instinctive and automatic. Even in those times you will have to respond correctly to the strangers."
"But what about them?" she indicated the others in her group, "why don't they have to learn it like I do?" "Enough questions," answered George, "back to studying or Joshua will want to know why you have fallen behind."
She started to run down, yet again, all the rules and responses that were expected of one in any eventuality.
Just when she thought she was going to burst with boredom and from inactivity, it came time to again meet with the other delegates. The youngest and weakest from their community had already moved over to the other dwelling. They had been given a stalagmite all of their own to live in together, so there was minimal disruption in everyone's daily habits. Reports were good that the children especially were spending their days on the canyon bottom, and the weakest and palest of them were getting stronger every day. All that remained at Teone's home were the Elders and those that could help in some way to prepare for the challenges that lay ahead. All of Teone's family had moved over; her father, crippled and slightly mad could be of help to noone, and her mother had to look after all of the younger siblings. Teone did not think of them much anyway, she had far too much work to do here and was far too excited about what the future might hold.
To be actually doing something important! To actually do something that could make a difference to the future of her people! The very thought filled her with visions of glory and rewards. To think that just a few short days ago she thought that the rest of her life would consist of scraping roots from the unforgiving ground of the canyon and running from the raging beasts. Now she was going to go off on an exciting adventure, with people she had never known before, to explore parts of her world that she had never before seen and couldn't imagine how it was. Suddenly her mind turned to Jared, and she found herself wondering if he would also be a member of the expedition. She was surprised to find that it actually mattered to her. That if he were not she would miss him. She shook her head briskly as if to shake this thought out of it. There were much more important things to think about than some stranger she had just met!