I’ve been having a go at word sprints with some of the members of my local region (although not technically my region, they’re the closest one after that who have generally adopted the members of the Europe: England: Newcastle & Durham region) to help boost my word count and generally interact with other ‘wrimos. I’ve not really done word sprints before so I’m surprisingly slow compared to others amongst the group (I’m averaging on 400/500 words in 15 minutes, whilst others are doing 1000 odd regularly). I thought I was a quick typer, but maybe writing long hand during tea breaks and copying up/expanding on/taking further on an evening is helping me chew up the miles.

But we’ll see.

Yesterday was a bit of a crazy zoom of writing whilst today was building on that on a day where I was expecting to get nothing done, so I’m more than happy since I’m currently over and above what I had set myself. My MMC is also ticking along quite happily as you can see below (an excerpt of something I wrote this evening) and I haven’t encountered anything that’s made me grind to a halt and go “eh?”.

It might be too early to say, but it looks like I might be onto a winner.

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Word count – 6889

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As I began to walk down the drive I felt the vague recollection of childhood memories spring to the surface as I passed a wizened old tree that I had fallen out of numerous occasions and the lowered dip in a wall where a water grate had once been installed before it rusted and fell away, causing the wall to shift and crack and sink into the surrounding landscape. I hesitated at the gate, feeling like an intruder to the sense of peace and tranquillity that radiated from the stone. The thought crossed my mind to step away and find the nearest Bed and Board and forget the whole idea, but as if someone had read my mind, the heavy door in the wall swung open and a figure waved me through.

Stepping in from the thickening mist I was hit by an overwhelming sense of home, this place where I had grown up to the age of the draft and where I had come back to on the few occasions where I was in transit between assignments and after I had finished my initial training. The cool stone flags rang beneath my boots and the sense of age and stillness permeated through to my core.

I cannot describe to you the sense of awe and wonder that filled me as I stood dripping in that hallway as a hooded figure pushed the heavy door back into its frame, closing with a definite sense of finality as it thudded home. In silence I was guided into a side room where I was peeled out of my heavy overcoat, now sodden since my arrival on Erska, and took my bag from me. Politely I was indicated to follow another hooded figure further down the hallway, out across the courtyard and through a set of double doors. Further we travelled into the monastery, skirting grated panels and turning through the maze of interconnecting passages until I was sure I was losing my sense of direction, until I was brought to a door of darkened wood which opened at the lightest of touches. Inside a man in the habitual robe of a member of the Sirene Order glanced up from the flexi set before him and his eyes narrowed as he took me in.

“Adrian” He stood, eyes crinkling into the folds of a smile and he reached out to embrace me. “Goodness how you’ve grown.” His voice felt familiar and as I was manoeuvred onto the low bench opposite his work desk and a cup of tea poured into a cracked china dish, I scoured my brain looking for a memory. But none came to mind, and yet he knew me by name. “Drink up” he gestured to the tea as he lifted his own saucer, but I pushed it aside, clearing the space before me.

“Sir” I began solemnly. “I have my transit papers here. I’m on extended leave for the duration of my stay here on Erska”

“Yes I know. Terrible thing that happened to you” The man exhaled nasally as he slurped his drink. “But you’re here now”

I tried to ignore him. getting back to the point. “Do you have a doctor who has experience with field medicine? With burns and lacerations and the like?” I had some limited skills from field training, but trying to apply a gel pack with one hand was not amongst those trained at the Academy. I had hoped that someone could assist me with my care but perhaps I was out of luck.

“Many come to us here at Sirene” came the answer between mouthfuls of tea. I took that to mean I was in luck and held out my flexi-card for him to take but he ignored me and motioned towards my tea. “Drink”

“I don’t drink tea”

“You should” The monk tipped back his dish, drinking down the dregs before sighing with satisfaction and smacking his lips noisily. For a monk this man made a lot of noise. “You will in the end”

Somehow I doubted that.

“Can you please show me to my bunk space?” I unfolded myself from my seat and stood. “I would like to have some time to adjust to my displacement from Capital”

“I’ll send for one of the servers. The steward will know where to put you” I was being dismissed, I could tell by the tone of the voice and I felt the piece inside me that still rankled under orders uncurl and rear its head. He reached out and took up a bell which he jangled gently, a deep soothing chime echoing through the empty spaces. I felt it rattle its way around my implant and shook my head, trying to dislodge the uncomfortable buzzing feeling it brought to my inner ear. For a moment nothing happened, then the door swung open and a hooded servant stood in the doorway, hands folded in the attitude of patiently waiting for instruction. Which the man sat behind the low table gave. “Take this one to the Steward and then on to the room he has been assigned. Fetch him hot water, clean linens, a towel and a number of guest robes. You may go.” The figure bowed and bent to collect the used tea cups, picking up the tray without spilling a drop of my un-drunk cup. It inclined its head in my direction and then shuffled off with a fluid, practised gait.

Clearly I was meant to follow.

We travelled back through the maze of passageways and panels until we came to a wide stone doorway, large blocks crouched about the open space like cats waiting to pounce. Passing under, having to duck to avoid hitting my head, we came into a cold, open plan kitchen where a portly man was stirring the contents of a large black kettle whilst issuing instructions to more of the hooded servants. Seeing my entrance, he snapped a set of orders in their general direction before wiping his hands on his apron and crossing the space between us to shake me by the hand.

“I’m guessing you’re Adrian, am I right? Bill Boxley, Steward of Sirene, at your service. I’m guessing you’re wanting to freshen up, catch some shut eye, maybe grab a bite to eat? I’m afraid you missed the evening meal and we’re a few hours off supper, but I’m sure I can scrounge up some leftovers that might whet the appetite. Say, how far have you come today?” All of this was spoken without apparent need to breathe, a chuntering friendly monologue that led him towards a large, well-scrubbed worktop where the beginnings of a meal had been laid out. “I knew you were coming so I set aside some broth and noodles to reheat. Hey, you” He snapped chubby fingers at a passing servant, “fetch me a small kettle and get this heated up for this gentleman here. Now, as I was saying, Supper is a good few hours off after the afternoon prayers and meditation, though I doubt you’ll need to attend those. I suppose you’ve not been given a room yet?” I managed to shake my head before he rambled on, getting a feeling that any words on my part would be steam rollered aside by this weighty figure of a man used to people doing as they were told. “Thought as much. I suppose I could put you in the guest rooms, though these haven’t been used in some time, or I could put you in one of the cells, though these might be a touch on the small and simple side for what you’re used to. I supposed I could put you in with the lay brothers, who wouldn’t mind entertaining someone like yourself for the duration of your stay, but then that raises the question of where to put the young Master. What do you want?” He snapped at a shrouded figure that was standing gazing directly at him from beneath the fold of its hood. It appeared to shake its head and then gesture at myself, making the Steward shrug and turned a wide smile on me. “I don’t understand what these things are trying to say most of the time, but I think you should go with this one. Leave your luggage here and I’ll send it along after your bath. Now, run along”

“Bath?” What happened to food, or bed, or both?

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