I wrote a short story to share with my email list.
It’s just 6,976 words. Anyone interested in beta reading?
I’m too lazy to write a synopsis, so here are the first five paragraphs.
Abdar shuts the door, clattering loose, rusty hinges. His own body creaks, his heart jump-roping inside him to an off beat rhythm. He must restock his medicine. For that, he is to visit town. The town that won’t leave him alone. The town that won’t leave his Valley alone.
Leaning on his walking stick, he treads the dusty path to the old road. A road older than he is, running from the heart of Toshbet to the now abandoned wildernesses of the North. Stopping beside a lizard basking in the sun, he looks back—past his house, into the valley of Rocks and Bones, a name inspired by its predominant life forms. It lies majestic and swollen, gleaming like a sun, malicious. Nothing can compare to its size but the angry ocean.
He lingers longer than the scene has a right to demand, then jerks his gaze back and, with a kick to the stone the lizard rests on, travels on with a slump and limping gait.
The village pokes its head over the crest of the long rise. Some hundred cottages with thatched, bowing roofs, chicken pens, and gardens. He braces himself for children, air of bustle and excitement, and people avoiding him. The village didn’t used to be here. Not when he first settled by the valley. It crept around him like a blight at the heralded news of the deep springs and fertile soils.
Some blamed him for the vast desert valley nestling beside this fertile land. He alone lived there to blame when they arrived. This is Abdar’s secret: He alone is to blame. The valley is the symbol of his sin, of the loneliness he alone brought on himself.