Novel #25

Almost there!

After Year Of Change, it felt like I had a bit of a lull. But I had to write a novel for my TAFE course, so I went back to a story I had started a few years before (having written maybe a page and a half), and thus was born Bunyip.

A Bunyip is an Australian water-creature, and this story was based on the floods of Victoria in Januray of 2011. Before then I had set it in the flooding of Cooper’s Creek from the late twentieth century. I like the start of the story, and think the ending is okay, but the middle loses its way, I think. Also, I think setting it in 2011 is a problem, and I may have to go back and rewrite it to set it in the much more catostrophic floods (and less technological times) of 1956.

Anyway, a group of people refuse to leave their flooded town, and take refuge in a church on a hill. But the flooding also wakes up a bunyip, and it picks off the survivors one by one until the end. Yep, a standard monster film in writing. Nothing deep and profound about it all, pulp fiction at its finest. or not.

It was sent off to somewhere almost as soon as it was finished. They rejected it, so off it went again, and this time they wanted some changes. I got some direction from friends and colleagues about what those changes should be, but the publisher hated all of them, and so it was rejected again.

Excerpt

The thud against the boat was a single, solid drumbeat, sending its vibrations through Wayne painfully.

But that barely registered as a second blow sent him hurtling through the air, landing painfully on his back on the water before he sank down. He forced himself to swim for the surface where he paddled furiously to keep his head above the water as he looked wildly around. Behind him a large eddy swirled where the boat had been moments before. The boat! Where in the hell had it gone?

He started to panic a little as he made for the telegraph pole in front of him, sticking up out of the water like a beacon. Another eddy appeared in the water near where the boat had gone down and a black shape neared the surface before once more fading into the murky depths. Wayne saw it, but it did not register with his terrified mind.

He grasped the wooden pole and climbed up out of the water, shivering uncontrollably with the cold and fear. “Wayne?” With a start he looked across to the next pole in line. There, clinging for dear life, was his brother, his head the only part of him visible.

“You okay?” he called urgently.

“Yeah,” came the unsure response. Then: “What do we do?”

Wayne looked around. There was really only one option, he knew. And even then that might end up being a temporary one. “See that house over there, the high roof?” Victor turned and nodded. It was only a little more than a street’s width away, maybe thirty metres at the most. “We’re gonna swim for it,” he called boldly.

“But I can’t really swim,” was the pathetic response.

“Neither can I, but we’ve gotta try.” He smiled as well as he could before he hurled himself into the water and struck out for the tin triangle that offered them their best hope of relief. Behind him he heard a loud splash and knew that his brother had joined him. He slowed his own strokes and moved at an angle until eventually he and Victor were side by side in the water. And without a word they made their way towards the tiny metal island, a short distance that seemed suddenly impossible to both of them. If there was one consolation, Wayne knew, it was the fact that there were no water predators in this part of the country. It would just be a matter of fighting fatigue and their own minds to make it…

There was not a sound beside him except the burble of bubbles to indicate that Victor had fallen beneath the swell. Wayne paused and looked at the area beside him. A black shape seemed to be sitting beneath the surface of the water just a little way behind, contrasting with the muddy brown of the water itself.

And then the red colouring broke across the waves.

Rejection total: 107 + 2 = 109
Also received another rejection for
To Be King
Rejection total: 109 + 1 = 110

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