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by Max Drayton 

Posted: 31 January 2019
Word Count: 2765
Summary: This is the first draft, of the first chapter, of the novel I am currently working on. It spans the Universe, with Rose developing into a Galactic Traveller. Later adventures will have romance and action, as well as mind spinning new worlds. Itís a work in progress, so any comments will be welcomed. Does it intrigue you?

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Rose was lonely.
She spent much of her time on the green tiles. Up on the roof when lonely, always the roof. For twenty years this roof was her home and the house underneath it. Her father had carried her up there a week after she was born, showing to his world as if the Lion Queen. The same view, stretching to infinity in the mist of distance. Several more houses in the valley now, more roads, more people, but still remote and silent. Even the animals respected her need to be alone and quiet.
Hugging her knees Rose felt the silky elegance of her favourite dress, white, dotted with tiny pink roses, scattered in abandonment. In her blonde hair, the scarlet rose, made from paper, years ago by her mother. Now pleading for repair and TLC, the petals slouching along with her mood.
The wind moved caressingly up here. A tall construction, on a hill, soaring above the valley floor. Secluded from the sounds of life and the cares of the world below. Chin on knees, she closed her eyes and smiled. Reminiscing. Rose Amie Taylor was always reminiscing.
The Satellite Dish, Diana, was her best companion, after her cat, Nigel. Rose confessed her secrets, desires and hopes into the silver ear. At times Diana talked back. Not out loud, that would be preposterous. But Diana did speak in Rose’s mind.
Rose’s parents and her relatives that lived with her understood this friendship. Her fellow students in college, not so much. She stopped mentioning Diana when the banter turned to persecution. Rose and Diana agreed with this decision, so their conversations remained forever private. She had enough to contend with at college when immature students realised Rose Amie Taylor spelt out, RAT.
Today a melancholy emotion swirled around Rose as if the breeze had carried it. Still early summer, the air warm and aromatic. All college work completed in record time and any further study could be ignored for a few weeks. Uncle Aden and Auntie Evelyn were again exemplary when assisting with the coursework. A soft purr announced the arrival of, Nigel, a black and white moggy.
Rose was reminiscing, absently stroking, Nigel.
Uncle and Aunt were now Rose’s only family since Mum and Dad…..left. They never appeared to age over the years. Always there, always supportive, as Dad said they would be. Relatives are not just for Christmas, he said. They’d be downstairs right now, doing something …. quietly, they rarely left the house. Rose used to find this peculiar, but it was just the way they chose to live.
Mum and Dad rarely left the family home in the later years. Now, Rose spent almost all her life here too, apart from going to college. Aden drove Rose in the twenty-year-old Volvo, dropped her off in the township six miles away and was standing by to pick her up at the end of the college day. Always. Always there, always dependable. Always with a wistful smile.
The verdant valley was still and silent, nothing moving – except a small pink dot. Far in the distance on the single narrow road out of the township. The single most compelling thing occupying her mind.
‘What’s that, Diana?’
Diana lacked an opinion, so didn’t voice it to her friend. But Rose felt … something, an uneasy stirring in her thoughts. She stood tall, peering into the hazy distance. The pink colour intrigued her, the uneasiness puzzled her. It was growing nearer. Nigel had stopped purring and was washing his left ear.
The familiar pressure started in her bladder. ‘I need to pee.’ Rose told no one, in particular, Diana wasn’t interested enough to comment. The pink dot was coin-sized in the valley and it drew awareness away from her biological needs. To pee or not to pee? That was the decision. The pink coin won. She sat, waiting to see the coin get bigger but sitting made the pressure greater.
‘What could that be?’ 
Diana still didn’t know. If she did, she wasn’t telling.
Biting fingernails is something young women rarely do, Rose never chewed hers. Until now. ‘Why am I doing this?’ she said looking at the torn nail hanging off her ring finger.
‘Bringer of Change.’
Rose looked around for the owner of the voice. She and Nigel were alone on the roof. It wasn’t a sound, it was in her mind. Diana finally had a comment to make.
‘What do you mean? Change…what?’
The pink object looked like it might be a small van, driving rapidly along the tight lane, heading straight for the house. It would be here in minutes, so would her stressed bladder. Decision?
The bladder won. It always did.
Through the tall window, nimble as Nigel and into the storeroom. Run down one floor and into her personal bathroom. The relief was blissful. No time to appreciate the amelioration of pain, a pink object needed investigating. A quick flush of the toilet, a rinse of hands in soap from the dispenser and rapid towel dry. Back to the roof.
The doorbell sounded.
Rose heard subdued voices coming from downstairs. Indistinct, no vocal inflection to understand what the caller wanted. The front door closed with an angry thud.
Rose hurried back to the roof. Nigel working on the other ear as she peered over the railing at the edge of the rooftop balcony.
On the gravel drive, a tall man looked up at her, just watching. On a leash, a huge white dog, Rose imagined it might be a wolf. They were now both staring straight at her. Beside them the open door of a large pink van. Nigel had stopped washing, a low growl in his throat and his ears were pulled back.
Without a sound, Aunt Evelyn was standing next to Rose with a melancholy look in her eyes.
‘Who was that?’ Rose whispered, concerned the two below might overhear her.
‘Wrong address.’ Said Evelyn quietly. ‘We must talk, Rose.’
‘What about?’
‘Your birthday. Twenty-one in two days’ time.’
Evelyn had consistently appeared sad and Rose had never questioned why, it was just the way her face … looked. She was the same height as Rose but much slimmer. Auntie‘s blond hair was always pulled back tight into a bun to her neck. Long sad face with pale skin. Dark eyes hardly blinking, dead eyes, no life to them. They‘d always looked that way, but only now Rose thought them strange.
‘One birthday is very much like another.’ Rose spoke with a grin.
‘This was supposed to be a special birthday, Rose.’
Evelyn peered over the railing and Rose followed her gaze. The pink van, tall man and white dog had gone. Rose saw a flash of pink between the trees as the van silently bumped along the rough lane. Nigel was washing his bottom.
Evelyn sounded distracted as she murmured, ‘We need to bring it forward a few days.’
Rose accepted that her surrogate parents had always been … unusual. Quiet, secretive, aloof, distant, but they’d always cared for her. She’d wanted for nothing since her parents … left.
The unsettled feeling crept over Rose again. What did that voice say? Bringer of Change. Was she being over-imaginative? A school teacher had accused her of that many times. Dad removed Rose from that school and eventually into another. Now she felt the same old sensation. Now stronger, more ….. real.
Evelyn reached out and held Rose’s hand. ‘Things are about to change, Rosy.’
Bringer of Change.
‘Because of my birthday?’ a catch in Rose’s voice, a nervousness squeezing her vocal cords.
Evelyn shook her head. ‘No. This time was always coming, we hoped it wouldn’t be so soon.’
‘What time? Coming? What’s coming?’
‘Aden and I must leave now.’
‘Now? Why? What do you mean, leave? I don’t understand …?’
Evelyn’s hand felt dry to the touch, the skin smooth and without blemish. Rose wondered how old was Evelyn? She must be eighty…something. She looked the same as she always had, around fifty. Uncle Aden…about the same. Always looking the same.
Evelyn’s other hand held onto the rail, her eyes peering straight into Rose’s. The old lady’s sight was questionable these days, several times Evelyn had walked into a door frame or dropped something. Eve was growing old. So where were they going….an old people’s home! Rose couldn’t let that happen.
‘What’s the matter with you, Aunt Eve?’ concern obvious on her face.
No change of expression on Evelyn’s face. ‘With me, nothing. We now have to leave, and we’re concerned about you being on your own.’
‘You don’t have to leave at all. Stay. I….will look after you. It’s my turn.’
‘This will be very hard for me to describe and very difficult for you to understand, sweet Rose.’
Despite the total lack of emotion in Evelyn, Rose felt a tear forming in her eye. Something was wrong with her Aunt.
‘We’re not from here and it’s time we went home.’
‘What do you mean? This is your home.’ Evelyn was shaking her head. ‘Where is your other home then?’
Evelyn looked upwards into the blue sky. She was seeing past the birds, the clouds into a greater distance.
‘You’ve forgotten?’
‘Not here.’
‘Not….England?’ a shake of the head, not a hair moving out of place. ‘Europe? Somewhere in Europe?’
‘Much further.’
Rose liked playing games with her Aunt, but this sounded more serious than that. What continent did she mean then, America?
Again a glance into the sky. ‘Out there. Many, many miles away from here. Too far to explain, too distant for you to accept.’
Evelyn’s lost her mind!
‘No, she hasn’t’. The words came from inside Rose’s head, but it was Diana’s voice. Rose glanced at the Satellite Dish, it had turned part way towards her.
‘It’s me that’s gone mad.’ was her silent thought. ‘Diana?’ was said aloud.
‘We knew this would be a difficult time for you, Rosy.’ Evelyn was trying to smile.
‘We? You mean Uncle and you?’
‘No, dear, Diana as well.’
Rose recalled the times when she’d discussed her talks with Diana the Dish. Evelyn and Aden always sympathetic, never questioning or ridiculing. Now, this was going too far, Eve believed in Diana too. She had lost her mind.
The thought struck Rose like a physical blow to the chest. ‘Evie, Diana doesn’t really exist, you know.’ Rose said breathlessly.
Evelyn smiled, a sad upturn of the lips. ‘You used to think so.’ Evelyn turned to the Satellite Dish. Slowly it moved, directly turning to face Rose.
Rose’s heart beat faster. What was going on?
‘Rose? I am real and am here for you.’ The voice inside her mind had the very distinct tones of her long-time imaginary friend, Diana.
‘What‘s happening to me?’ Rose’s confusion obvious as her hands covered her mouth and she closed her eyes. Would everything be back to normal when she opened them? She opened them.
Everything looked the same, the dish looking at her and Evelyn smiling.
Rose was shaking her head as she said, ‘You can understand why I’m struggling with this, can’t you? It’s insane. Satellite Dishes don’t talk, and you don’t come from…..’ a dramatic pointing towards an unknown source in the sky.
‘I‘ll try to explain, Rose dear. Please hold all thoughts and reactions until we’ve covered everything. But time is a problem here, right now.’
‘I’m sorry…I’m …confused…..’
‘Breathe Rosy. Breathe. Like we used to do when you were younger. Remember?’ Rose nodded. ‘Breathe, everything will be all right. Just a little change of direction in your life.’
Rose was hanging onto the rail, her mind struggling to grasp what was happening, her eyes in the distance. The pink dot had faded into the mist.
Evelyn followed her gaze and said, ‘He’s the reason we have to leave. He’s found us.’
Gasping, Rose said, ‘Who?’
Evelyn pointed down the valley. ‘Him. The Bringer of Change.’
‘The man with the big dog? I’m not following any of …..’
‘We’ve been in hiding, here in this valley. Now we’ve been found, we have to go.’
‘What, you and Uncle….?’
‘And Diana.’
‘Diana doesn’t exist.’
‘I do.’ The statement in her head, the voice of her friend. ‘There are three of us, Rosy. Always have been.’
Where had she heard that before? ‘But … this is a Satellite Dish!’
‘Just a conduit, a way of communicating with you. Diana is real, an entity. Nothing you can recognise, not skin and bones. But then, neither am I. Or, Aden.’
‘But…you’re relatives. I’ve known you all my life…..’
‘We’ve hidden here for many more years than that. Finally, we’ve been discovered. For our safety, and yours, we must leave before they return.’
‘They? Who are they?’
Another saddened gaze towards the horizon from Evelyn. ‘The Bringer and his pack. They’ll be here soon, and we must be gone. We need to make sure you can survive on your own, Rosy. We’ve prepared a package…..’
At a noise behind her Rose turned to see Aden holding out a large shoe box. He looked unhappy as always. Pale rimless glasses on a pale thin face. Hair almost gone completely, his eyes staring at her without emotion. He moved next to Evelyn, still holding out the box for Rose to take.
Rose’s mind froze. She accepted none of this. Her natural independence rose to the surface and poured out in a burst of emotion that was summed up in her one-word wail. ‘Nooooo!’
‘You must take this and leave the house now, Rose. Please.’ Aden’s voice gravelly and quiet.
Evelyn was looking to the horizon again. ‘Take it Rosy, they’re coming.’
‘Take the present and leave now, Rose.’ Diana in her head.
 Rose tried to form words to say. Words of defiance, of common sense. Words to break this spell, words to wake her up from this fantasy. Nothing came.
With a synchronised turn, her relatives were both looking to the end of the valley, Rose followed their stare. In the misty distance, she could see a hint of colour, pink. It seemed to expand as she watched.
‘Two minutes.’ The warning voice of Diana.
‘Go, Rosy, please save yourself.’ From Evelyn.
‘I need to understand….’
‘We don’t have time to explain. It’s all here in this box. Take it and run.’
‘Where to? Where can I possibly go to? I have…nowhere to go to. No one…..I have no one, only you two. And Nigel. I’m not leaving. I’m coming with you.’
‘Not possible.’ From Diana.
‘Then I’m staying on this roof and take what comes.’
There was a moment of silence when Rose was sure her relatives were silently communicating with each other, and possibly the imaginary, Diana.
‘Not possible. Everything must leave, including the roof and the house.’ From Evelyn.
‘What …. now?’
‘We take her.’ The voice was Diana’s but harder now. ‘We bring her back when we can.’
More silent communication.
The pink horizon was bigger now, sweeping towards the house. The time was ticking away, and everyone sensed it.
From far away a sound reached their ears, to Rose it sounded like baying dogs.
‘Time to go.’ Diana sounded in Rose’s head, quiet and calm.
Aden and Evelyn both took a hand each and Rose felt the smooth dryness of their grip. Aden placed the curious box on the floor and gripped the rail with his free hand, Evelyn did the same.
The baying was louder now, and a sea of pink was rushing towards them.
‘Now, Amie, now.’ Aden’s voice calm, but the tone sounded distorted.
‘Who’s Amie?’ thought Rose as her world changed forever.
 Rose was never certain what happened. Even much later in her life could she recall what happened next. Her mind was so confused, her plight so weird. Nothing made sense, nothing would be remembered clearly.
The floor beneath her feet throbbed as day turned to night. Not night, just an incredible blackness. Then came the stars, so many she couldn’t count. Everywhere, all around her, bright points of light. It was only seconds before Rose realised she was in space, but a lifetime before she could comprehend the spectacle of the moment.
Rose felt her relatives release their grip on her hands. She was standing on the roof of her own home and looking into deep space. No sense of movement, then the stars blurred.
‘Adieu Earth.’ Was Diana’s comment.
Spoiler Alert!
Amie is a spaceship that can morph into anything she wants to.

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Comments by other Members

Sam_H at 09:40 on 01 February 2019  Report this post
Hi Max,

I just wanted to say that I have read this and, yes, I am intrigued! I'm curious to find out who Rose is, why the truth has been kept from her and why she will need to be brought back to Earth. I don't have time to write more now, but will at the weekend.


Max Drayton at 11:22 on 01 February 2019  Report this post
I am new to this site. Am I responding to Sam H's comment here, or adding to my own?
If so....thank you for your feedback. I await with breath abated for more comments.


Chestersmummy at 17:22 on 01 February 2019  Report this post
Hi Max

First of all, welcome to the site and yes, you are responding correctly.
I have read your story, I am intrigued and want to know more. 
As I understand it, Rose is the daughter of aliens and lives in a spaceship, masquerading as a house. As is probably to be expected, she is lonely. Her only friends are a satellite dish and a cat. It seems that her parents have inexplicably disappeared and she has been brought up by a aunt and uncle, who are also aliens although she does not realise it. There are many questions to be answered in your story. What happened to her parents, and who is the Bringer of Change, why were they on earth and where are they going? It was useful that you told us that Amie is a shape-shifting spaceship. Without that, I would have been completely lost.

You have an unusual style. It is quite unlike mine and at first I wanted to smooth it by adding prepositions, pronouns, etc. Then I realised its strange, choppy nature suited the story. So I stopped doing that. Even so, I have some suggestions.

1) In the 4th sentence, 'showing to his world as if the Lion Queen'. I suggest showing her to his world as if she were the Lion Queen.
The sentence:  Even the animals respected her need to be alone and quiet. This seems to come out of the blue. What animals - we haven't been shown any apart from Nigel the cat?
3) The sentence: 'The  wind moved caressingly up here'. I think the less adverbs you use the better, so would suggest:
'Up here, the wind caressed.'
4) The two sentences beginning 'Uncle and Aunt were now Rose’s only family since Mum and Dad…..left. They never appeared to age over the years. When I first read this I got the impression that it was her Mum and Dad who hadn't aged. Therefore I suggest turning the sentences around to read something like: 'Since Mum and Dad....left, her uncle and aunt were her only family. They never appeared to age over the years....'
Not sure about dwelling on her need to pee - this seems, to me, to be too human and we later gather that she obviously isn't.

I hope the above is of some help there were other instances in the story where I felt the grammar wasn't quite right but my grammar is not great, so I won't comment on these. Perhaps others will pick them up. But, as you say it is a 1st draft and in my experiences 1st drafts can morph into 7 or 8 drafts before you are pleased with them.

May I conclude by saying this is an interesting story and look forward to reading more.

Best wishes, Janet 


Max Drayton at 08:43 on 02 February 2019  Report this post
I am delighted to receive your appraisal. I have been writing for many years but rarely anyone else gets to read my material. This is the first draft of a novel no one has seen yet.
The next chapter answers most of your questions, but to ease the suspense: Rose and her parents are the ONLY humans in this story.
I was hoping for mystery and intrigue but it appears I lost you. I must work on that. Perhaps the book cover text can prime the reader?
The style was deliberately different to my normal approach. It did seem to fit. For an idea of how and what I normally write, there are some samples on my web site: https://www.maxdrayton.co.uk.
The need to pee device is to be used later to enhance danger and urgency.
I feel you have picked up on my errors better than I can, and appreciate that. It is what I need. This is the main reason I joined WW.
The second chapter is ready, but I am unsure if I am allowed to post it so soon after this posting?
Once again I am grateful to you for spending time on my work. You are a star.

Chestersmummy at 11:30 on 02 February 2019  Report this post
Aaah! The light is beginning to dawn.

Sam_H at 13:14 on 02 February 2019  Report this post
Hi Max,

I'm not sure that there is any need to prime the audience. This chapter creates mystery and suspense, and raises lots of questions that can be answered in later chapters, which in my opinion is as it should be. I like to discover bit by bit what is going on.

There were a few things that I picked up on.

1. For twenty years this roof was her home and the house underneath it. I think the tense is wrong here. It would make more sense to me as 'For twenty years this roof, and the house underneath it, had been her home.'

2. Towards the start you say that Evelyn and Aden never seem to age, but later on you say that Evelyn's sight is going and that Aden's hair is almost gone, which are both signs of ageing.

3. The same view, stretching to infinity in the mist of distance. I didn't quite get this. Were you saying that the view is the same now as it was then?

4. There are several places where you have a comma before a name that I don't think you need: 'announced the arrival of, Nigel', 'absently stroking, Nigel', 'and possibly the imaginary, Diana'

5. Biting fingernails is something young women rarely do, This seems like a sweeping generalisation, I'm sure that plenty of young women bite their fingernails.

6. Rose looked around for the owner of the voice. She and Nigel were alone on the roof. It wasn’t a sound, it was in her mind. Diana finally had a comment to make. I'd got the impression that Rose was used to Diana speaking to her, so why would she look round for the owner of the voice?

7. It would be here in minutes, so would her stressed bladder. I think this needs rewording slightly. Her stressed bladder is already there.

8. Rose was never certain what happened. Even much later in her life could she recall what happened next. I think this should be 'Not even...'

9. I felt that there was a slight overuse of ellipses. I can understand in the first 'since Mum and Dad...left', but there are 28 ellipses in one chapter, 10 of which are in the narrative.

None of this should detract from the fact that you've created interesting characters and a first chapter that makes me want to read more. I look forward to the next instalment.


Max Drayton at 18:31 on 02 February 2019  Report this post

Wonderfully detail critique. These are the things an author misses.
I will revisit everything you indicated.
Her relatives have the appearance of being the same, but they are machines and are wearing out. As the story progresses they breakdown and cause problems at inopportune moments.
Ellipses are my indulgence. One of them.

I appreciate the time you've taken on this and will post the next instalment. Most questions that are raised in the opening are answered.
Thanks again.

Catkin at 02:28 on 04 February 2019  Report this post

The second chapter is ready, but I am unsure if I am allowed to post it so soon after this posting?

I think it's a little bit soon, personally. CC is only a small group, and there is a limit to how many pieces any one member of the group will be willing to read. Besides which, it's helpful to get a range of opinions, and if you leave this one here for a while longer, I'm sure you will get some more responses. I'll do my best to read it asap.

Max Drayton at 08:56 on 04 February 2019  Report this post
I was thinking along those lines too.
Thanks for that.


salli13 at 03:01 on 09 February 2019  Report this post
Hi Max, great intrigiung story with lots of potential. i think everyone else has covered most things but i would as a nurse say that the empahsis on her bladder is a little odd.  A 20 something female would not have bladder issues or have a problem holding on to a full bladder for quite sometime, unless linked to anxiety or some medical issue.  Also i think generally as females we suffer discomfort rather an actual pain with a full bladder - again unless there is an underlying medical issue. If this is the case then i think you need to at least hint at it IMO. Maybe you are seeing this only from the male perpective, which of course is the only one you have :)

Max Drayton at 11:25 on 09 February 2019  Report this post
Thanks, Salli for the female perspective.
I was overall surprised at the detail other writers find in something I thought I was familiar with.
With regard to her bladder: it features more later. I am toying with it is as a result of anxiety, or she becomes engrossed and leaves it too long to visit the toilet. I take on board discomfort, could that escalate tot s feeling more akin to pain if left too long?
From the female/medical point of view, can either/both work? I should ask my wife, she has renal problems. Thanks again for the insight.


Catkin at 01:50 on 12 February 2019  Report this post
Hello Max. Yes, this is intriguing. I think it has potential.

I agree with all the useful points about individual sentences that others have made. I'm not going add to those, because I think they have all been covered. My contribution is about the wider picture.

As well as being intriguing, it's also quite confusing at the moment. I've thought about this for quite some time, and I have come to the conclusion that you are falling between two stools: this opening is neither totally of this world, or totally out of it, and the result is that I wasn't sure where I was. I think you could consider re-writing so that at first, it seems that we are in the everyday world, and everything is normal, and then it gradually becomes clear that we are not, or re-writing so that it is obvious from the start that we are in a totally different reality. I feel that the reader needs to be more firmly anchored. I felt that I was casting about, looking for something concrete to get hold of.

At the beginning of the chapter, you spend a lot of time describing Rose's world, but in the early paragraphs there is nothing happening which is stressful, or frightening, or otherwise of great importance. You're just setting the scene.
If this were my story, I'd start it with Rose on the roof, being astonished as her house takes off into space. I'd get that house launched in the first two lines. That would certainly grab the attention of the readers! The advantage of doing it that way is that although it's a very weird situation, it's also an extremely simple one. We would know exactly where we were. I don't think you need to introduce Rose to start with, or to say much about her cat, or the state of her bladder, or where she has lived up until that moment. You could bring that in later, when we already know what is happening: a house has taken off into space. If we know that to start with, the backstory would actually make more sense, and, I think, be even more intriguing than it is already. So, to sum up, I'd say that you are starting in the wrong place. Getting something concrete and definite happening right away would make all the difference, in my opinion.

I hope that doesn't seem like a negative reaction. It isn't intended to be. You have all the right elements of a story here, but I don't think you are using them in the most effective way, that's all.

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