Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Juvenilia Treat

So one of the things that happened at Worldcon was that I took my client, David J. Williams, out to dinner. And while we were stuffing ourselves to the gills with Italian food, or perhaps afterwards the next night, we got to talking about my own writing. And I explained how I had a favorite story of mine that I had kept from when I was in the seventh grade. And then Dave went and blogged about it...

So I feel compelled to type in the story below, complete with all the original grammar and spelling, as the secret is out. I wrote depressing duck stories when I was a kid. =) The only difference is that the paragraphs aren't indented, due to not being able to due this on Blogger.

Btw, I got an A+ on this story.

(And, any authors out there, particularly published ones, I want to see *your* juvenilia. =)

Jenny Rappaport
Per. #4

The Untimely Demise of the Quack-Quacks

Chapter 1
Netta Quack-Quack paddled sadly around the lake. Her husband Joshua Quack-Quack had run off with Vivian Long Neck. A swan!!! What business does Joshua have with a swan, thought Netta indignantly as her feathers ruffled.

Of course, I've still got my little ducklings. The thought consoled Netta, as she watched the little Quack-Quacks' splashing each other on the other side of the lake. Netta dropped into a pleasant reverie. In the dream, Joshua was back home and they were raising their ducklings together.

A cry of "HELP" startled Netta back to the real world. Lily and Lionel were trying to drown each other. With a rush of adrenalin Netta sped across the lake. As she got closer the sounds of their fight grew weaker.

Netta swam on, using all her strength to get to her children. When she arrived at the other side of the lake exhausted and out of breath, she was confronted by Sara and Thomas.

"Mama," they chorused, "Why are Lily and Lionel floating upside down and drinking all that water?"

"They're dead, darlings," she said with a strain, "Go back to the nest and I'll be there in a minute. Go quickly dears, I'll be there soon."

Sara and Thomas obeyed Netta and swam silently to shore, wondering why their brother and sister were dead.

When they were out of sight Netta slowly turned towards her dead ducklings. She wanted to cry, but couldn't knowing unfortunately that ducks can't cry. "Oh, why does life have to be so horrible, she inwardly wailed. First, Joshua and now my Lily and my Lionel. Now all I have left are Sara and Thomas. I must protect them from harm. Tomorrow, I'll tell them about predators. Yes, tomorrow I'll tell them."

Thinking of her plan, Netta swam slowly towards shore.

Chapter 2
The next morning the three Quack-Quacks awoke and foraged for insects and wild tubers. When all had eaten their fill, Netta announced that today they were going to learn about predators.

She cautiously made her way into the woods. Keeping one duckling on either side of her, Netta proceeded to travel farther and farther into the forest. Finally, she reached her destination. A fox's den!!!

"This is a fox's hole, children. Stay hidden in the bushes here with me. Don't make a sound," Netta warned, "If you are very quiet we may see a fox. Foxes love young ducklings, so if anything happens follow my orders immediately."

They waited and waited, until finally a red head emerged from the fox's den. Unfortunately, that was the exact moment that the now hungry Thomas chose to pounce on an insect. His feathers brushed the leaves and the fox sprang forward.

"Fly," called Netta, "Fly for your lives. Fly children, fly!!!"

Sara and Netta took off into the air, but the unlucky Thomas's tail feathers were pinned by the fox. To Netta's dismay he could not free himself. She whispered to Sara to keep flying home while she went back for Thomas.

Netta nosedived towards the fox and struck him on the back with a strong thud. The fox leaped on her while still holding Thomas and hit her on the head. Through waves of dizziness Netta watched with horror as the fox broke young son's neck. In the last moment before unconsciousness she watched the fox drag Thomas into his den.

When she awoke Netta rose into the air and searched for Sara in the growing darkness. Finally, an exhausted mother duck crept into her nest without her daughter. As the stars came out the discouraged duck fell into the blissfulness of a dreamless sleep.

Chapter 3
Netta awoke the next day when a little bill jabbed her side.

"Mama," cried Sara, "Where is Thomas? Did the fox get him? I hope he isn't dead!!!"

Blinking her eyes, Netta faced the reality of the world as she turned to face her small duckling.

"He is dead Sara," she said without emotion, "I'm very sorry. He was a good duckling." She continued in her numb voice, "He always reminded me of his father. I rem-mem-ber when..."

Netta let out a heartbreaking cry of sadness. Sara comforted her and together they went to feed on the lake.

Unknown to them a hunter lay hidden in a clump of bushes along the shore waiting to catch his dinner.

Meanwhile, Netta was talking to Sara, "Don't worry darling. I've still got you to raise. We will be the best of friends..."

The hunter raised his gun and took careful aim.

"...of course I will never forget all of the ducklings and the husband I have lost. But, I know if I am strong enough I can overcome all tragedy."


The crack of the gun and Sara's cry of "Mama!!!" echoed across the silent lake.


annathepiper said...

Sadly, I do not any longer possess my handwritten copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark II: The Adventures of Indiana Jones, Junior that I wrote in middle school.

Yes, folks, I was writing fanfic before I even knew the word. But trust me on this, it's better that that remains in obscurity. It's bad enough that I'm revealing the sheer concept of its existence. ;)

(I do have some surviving manuscripts from high school, as well as some short pieces from that era. The manuscripts have since been chopped up and remixed into backstory for something that sucks a lot less. ;) )

Just_Me said...

I don't have anything saved on this computer but I did have:

- a story about a female detective in the 1600's with a goose and two grandchildren as a side kick (short for 7th grade)

- the story of a 9 year old art thief who later wound up in the margins of my chemistry notes in college because I wanted someone to suffer with me

- the story of twin dwarves who ride wolves and save their baby cousins rattle from a band of goblins (3rd grade and already to much Tolkein influence)

- the story of an undead queen coming to life and finding love (high school- where else?)

- an ongoing serial novel about banishment and black magic in an asteroid lagoon during a period where I couldn't decide if I want to be an astronaut or a marine biologist

- the story of a family who escaped a Christmas Eve fire (from the newspaper) only to get caught in a gang war, depression, drunk driving accidents, and other tragic events that slowly killed off the family (short for a high school teacher who probably worried about me a lot)

The dead queen one was actually finished (and way to long). I've started editing it and decided I like the characters but I need to start fresh. It's been shoved into the back of the closet while I work on other novels. :o)

Natalie said...

Oh man, that is one sad duck story!

I have a little book I wrote in Kindergarten about a girl who sneezes so hard to knocks people over. It's pretty funny. I won a county young authors award for it.

It starts, "Once upon a time there was a bus. A girl named Jenny got on the bus..." (It's true, I named her after you. Okay, not really, named her after my best friend.)

TerriRainer said...

I was actually going to read that to my youngest daughter...until I got to the part about Lily and Lionel killing each other!

You sound just like I did as a kid! I wrote a story about a teenage boy who was using drugs and let his horse die of neglect. He got into a fist-fight with his dad, accidentally hit his mom, and then was in a horrific car accident, sustaining brain damage.

Ah...to be young and innocent again!

Good duck story in a twisted fairy-tale/Mother Goose sorta way.

:) Terri

Elissa M said...

I think these days such a story might earn you a trip to the school counselor- or maybe even expelled. There was a gun there at the end. At the very least they'd probably call your parents. ;)

David J. Williams said...

Somehow this story seems to perfectly match the zeitgeist that is/was junior high. An instant classic.

Chris Redding said...

I had such a crappy childhood that I wrote very upbeat stuff to make up for it
You, on the other hand, probably had a great childhood.

Sher-May Loh said...

I love how blasé you were about Violent Deaths and Facts of Life in this story from when you were a kid -- even when it's about the little duckies!

(Hamsters, though. I might have been really wretched if they were hamsters.)

I think my first story was an Enid Blyton fanfic from when I was five years old. Two of the Famous Five boys get kidnapped and remain stoic under duress from their captors as they devise a crafty way to escape. Yes, I know. It was forty pages long -- I wrote it out longhand on notebook paper and bound the pages together with string. I wish I still had it.

Thanks for sharing!

Kristin Laughtin said...

Oh man, reminiscing about my earliest stories is giving me a head trip right now. The first one that I can remember involved a detective who was some sort of aquatic creature. I can't remember what exactly, only that the bad guy at the end was a sea anenome.

The first story that I can remember my teachers loving makes me cringe now--seventh grade, about an angsty teenage girl dying of cancer while her best friend watches. I think I had just read A SUMMER TO DIE. Anyway, I switched from third person to second at the end of the story and thought I was just oh so deep for doing so.

Mary Paddock said...

I'm not sure how published you want. I've sold a fair amount of short fiction. Does that count?

As a kid I wrote about dragons, talking dogs, magic gardens, and flying horses. Oh and I once saved Santa from a mob. I don't remember why the mob was mad at him.

When I was a preteen my parents moved us to NW Arkansas where the library was twenty miles away so we only went once a month. Having gone through our home library (including all my stepfather's Stephen King novels, I started writing material of my own.
Over the next couple of years I wrote a series of interconnected love stories ("novels" I called them) about disenfranchised young women. Most of them were survivors of lousy homes or had lost their parents early and decided to chance it alone--either by hitchhiking (which was still pretty common in that era) or by traveling from town to town in clunkers. An air of tragedy (death and loss) tended to run though these stories. Ex. After a series of mishaps, Girl meets True Love. True Love dies a year later. Girl recalls friendly trucker from earlier in the book who'd let her spend the night with his sister. The sister offered the Girl a place to stay if she ever returned. Girl takes sister up on the offer. The trucker drops by for a visit. He's never forgotten her (of course). After another series of mishaps (and a bit of arguing and pushing away), they fall in love. Somehow the characters in this book would know the characters in the next. (In fact, further along in the series, one character marries the widower of the girl from the previous book).

In high school I wrote an award winning short story about a group of stuffed animals discussing the disappearance of their teenage owner and trying to piece together (with no luck) why she'd left. What I left unwritten was that the young woman had gotten pregnant and her father had thrown her out.

H. L. Dyer said...

My first book was at age 4, entitled "The Two Flowers".

I love your gruesome duck story. *snort*

Jenny Rappaport said...

Hehe, I'm glad everyone enjoyed it! =)

Jessica Freely said...

OMG, Jenny, this is a searing enditement of the insular middle class lifestyle. I love what you did with Netta Quack-Quack, positioning her as the representative of class struggle in the greater mileau of a diminishing resource environment.

My sister still has my first story, from when I was four, about a fairy that lived underneath the ice skating rink in our back yard.

Chumplet said...

If my mom kept any of my early stories, they're probably rotted away in the basement by now. I remember one story about a fox and a bear, and I illustrated it.

Boy, that duck story was depressing. I think we all had those dark thoughts when we were twelve.

Sada said...

I just randomly stumbled across your site, but I actually have an entire blog dedicated to juvenilia--and for the most part, making fun of it.

One fifth grade work I lost track of over the years was the diary of a Pilgrim, detailing her family's harrowing journey to the New World. Eventually, the ship ran out of food and they were forced to eat their pet dog.

Guy Stewart said...

Jennifer: Oddly enough I took the second story I ever wrote (the first has disappeared, though I remember is was a rip off of John Christopher's TRIPODS quartet, called (with that subtle sense of misdirection so easilt achieved in 7th grade) "The White Vines" about aliens invading through the sewers...)

At any rate, the next "book" was called "The Black Planet" and it survives extant as a handwritten, pencil MS that was never turned in for a grade -- I just wrote it. It was obviously influenced by the work of Andre Norton. It just so happens that I found the original this summer and squinting and puzzling, I typed up the MS in standard format, ran it off and put both in a transparent slip cover. Below you will find the entire text of my "novel":

by Guy Stewart

The Scout ship drifted slowly in the middle of the galaxy NY-CX4
Rand Tinnar slumped over the Con a newly developed guidance system though it could give nothing new for it was melted mass of metal and wire.
Rand had been choosen as pilot for the expedition along with Medico Neland, Con Tech engineer Filensu and mated pair of nexors. Nexors were much like Terran cats though they had three brown eyes and green fur.
The party had been assigned to explore sector ten of galaxy NY-CX4 by foot or by ship whichever planet conditions would allow.

There was a slight moaning as Rand brought himself to consciousness. He tried to stand but almost fell, he grabbed a control bar and steadied himself. In a few moments he walked to the rest of the party who lay unconscious on the floor.
He revived the quickly and told them the position they were in.
Suddenly the ship gave a lurch which threw them off their feet.
Rand moved to the fore viewscreen and activated it. The screen stayed dark except for a yellow ring in space. He adjusted the dials still nothing.
Rand yelled out, “We’ve hit a magnetic gravitational field! Get into the acceleration seats!”
He strapped himself into the seat and, put the nexors into the empty seat. He pressed a button and foam began to fill it protecting men and animals from harm.

The ship began to get hot. Rand could feel the heat building up. The ship shook as something hit it. It hit the ground and Rand was thrown forward into the foam.

Rand began to crawl out of a mass of twisted smoldering, black metal and oozing foam. He lay in the mass for a few moments too stunned to move. His head reeling, he slid out of the wreck onto the ground and layed gaping for breath. He tried to stand, suddenly a stabbing pain shot through his leg, he fell to the ground and lapsed into unconsciousness.

Again Rand awoke, still lying near the wreck. He stood up; this time no stabbing pain made him fall to the ground, he moved to the wreck and began to pull the blackened metal away trying to find the Con Tech, the Medic, and the two nexors.
First he came to the Tech, he dragged him out of the wreck and quickly examining him thought, “Dead!”
He went back to the wreck and soon found the doctor alive, but barely. He carried him a few feet and put him in a small clearing then went back and looked for the nexors but didn’t find them. He thought to himself, “The impact must have thrown them into the bushes!”
He began the slow painful search to find the valuable pair. He came upon them suddenly but tragically, or one was dead. Rand moved toward the living animal and picked it up. He put it down near the wreck. The nexor gave a sort of sigh, curled up and went to sleep. Rand walked to the doctor who began to stir.

The nexor and the Tech buried, the weakened party slept silently awaiting day.
Suddenly the silent night air was pierced by a chilling screach. Rand awakened by the screach grabbed for the beamer which he had salvaged from the wreck and fired into the darkness, the greenish beam lighting up the scene.
The screach stopped as a sickening stench filled the air, making Rand wretch violently.
He set the beamer on high and went slowly into the brush, watching for anything that moved.
Again Rand saw a shadow, the same sickening stench filling the air, though this time Rand was ready. He saw nothing else and went back to the tiny camp.

The next few days the doctor, now fully recovered and Rand explored the planet. Their only weapons were two lasers and a beamer, which had two extra charges.
The only things that the explored were usually uninteresting, though they had some encounters with hostile alien creatures one taking two beamers blasts to kill it.
The fifth day of their stay on the Black planet the saw something which neither of them had ever dreamed or expected to see in their life time; an alein fortress!

It was of no design the pair had ever seen. There were gleaming towers of heights that astounded the,, and of colors never dreamed of. The towers were linked with roads twisting and turning, rising and dropping, and of thin staight catwalks which criss-crossed under and over the roads.
Suddenly the nexor darted into a green bush; as a stunner beam or a beam from some other gun used for the same purpous, dropped them to the ground unconscious.

Rand awoke in a small room tied hand a foot. The room was small but light, blue-green light, radiated from the walls. He soon worked out of his bonds and began to pound on the metal door hoping to attract attention. Soon the door slid open and a creature walked in. The minute the creature had stepped into the room, the stench which had filled the air five nights ago, made him retch again.
The creature began to speak, “I am sorry that my odor sickens you. But reason is not of apology. I am Nardis of the race called the Kloiy I have come here of my own accord. I have come to warn you. We will, in seventy-two hours, attack your planet.”
Rand almost chocked, “No! No! Why? Why?”
Nardis replied, “For conquest. I am not that group. But I have come to help you and your people. Here is your gun. Now go! Go destroy our reactor! I will die, yes, but my mission is over! Now go!” Nardis left the room and Rand stood up, the beamer hanging limply in his hand as he thought.
He regained his senses and ran into a hallway. He looked both ways and ran down the left hall.
He began to feel vibrations as he zigzagged down the featureless hallways. He approached an open door and looking inside saw it was a radio shack, a Kloy sitting at the seat. He set the beamer on low and fired. The Kloy fell to the ground, stunned for at least an hour. Rand sat at the controls for a few minutes studying them then pressed a button he thought to be broadcast and sent his message, “This is Rand Tinnar, Scout Car 791 in sector 5B7 on, “ He thought for a moment, “The Black Planet.” He repeated the message then an answer came in, “This is Space Fleet Ship Alphatron. You a being acknologed S.C.791.”
“I am marroned on a planet in galaxy NY-CX4 on the fourth planet. Coordinates, unknown. Recommend planet scan.” Rand said.
The Fleet replied, “We are preparing to…” suddenly the radio short-circuited and blew up. Rand staggered out of the smoking room and went down the hall on his way to the reactor.
Nothing else stopped him as he went on, the vibration getting louder and stronger as he neared the end of his journey.
Then he saw it, the open door which had alien writing on it. Rand studied for a moment and read it aloud, “Reactor!”
He suddenly became more cautious and went slowly through the door watching for a Kloy guards.
He went slowly through three doors before he came to it. The last door, a giant iron door. He set the beamer on Hyper and fired at the door. He felt a blast of heat as the door began to glow and melt.
Rand glanced at the charge and said to himself, “If that door doesn’t melt in a few seconds…” He heard the clanging an alarm bell in his ears and heard running. “The Kloys are coming!” he thought frantically. He heard a yell and he whirled around, the beamer still on frying the Kloys as they came through the doors.
The beamers ray began to falter as the charge ran lower he whipped out the laser and trained it on the door beaming anything as they came through the door.
He saw the iron door cave in he thumbed the beamer on then beam and fired at the reactor. There was a titanic explosion as the reactor blew up, the lights, the circulation, everything stoped.
Rand heard all the Kloys choking in the darkness as he ran down the halls. He lasered a wall and burst into a clearing. Just in time, for he saw an army of Patrol men and space ships attack the city.
He ran to where the Kloy had stunned them to find a scout car awaiting him the xeob and the doctor inside. He turned around and looked at the city, now a crumbled burning mass and wondered, “What about Nardis and the Black Planet?”