(The Clarion Write-A-Thon fundraiser was…unsuccessful, to put it mildly. I wasn’t able to drum up any donations for the workshop and subsequently my will to follow through on writing Unstable Future plummeted. I didn’t actually write much of it at all during the write-a-thon, and to date have raised no money for Clarion.
I’m still planning to write it though — it’s an exciting world and I’m really excited about the serialized concept. Right now I’m learning Scrivener so that I can take advantage of its organizational capabilities to keep me together through the project, and once I feel I have a good handle on it Unstable Future will be the very first thing I work on there. For now, though, here’s a small bit of Chapter 1. We’re introduced to the setting and the main character here, and I wanted to make it something that folks outside of the furry fandom could pick up reasonably quickly.)
Waterford Avenue in Oleander City was named after the town’s founder, a Human named Samuel Waterford. He and a dozen-other shell-shocked families stumbled through the wilderness of Farellia after the war that had threatened to end their civilization until he arrived at a large valley nestled between ranges of hills. The land was good, the weather was temperate, and the wood was plentiful. Here is where we will settle, he decided. So he spent a fortnight sketching out plans for a small farming community and together the settlers built Oleander from their bare hands over the course of several years. The city was named after Waterford’s favorite plant, the nerium oleander. For all he knew, it was extinct, one of those things that was lost with the conflict that had consumed the known world. It was the only way he had to remember it, and it was a fitting name for the 83 survivors who now lived there. They were hardy and pretty in their own way, but each one of them were deadly poisonous if they had to be.
Over 150 years had passed since Oleander was founded, but Waterford Avenue had kept much of its ancient charm. Buildings of wood and brick lined the streets, fitted with raised porches that protected people from the dirt of the road. Each building housed one or two shops, many of which had been there since the town’s inception. Roland’s General Store, The Rose’s Thorn Restaurant, Bambarella Hardware. There were other shops that were newer, of course, but each was owned by a member of the community that was known by most of the town’s 200 residents. Oleander hadn’t grown much in the past century and a half, but many changes were evident.
The road had been paved very recently with smooth asphalt, blacker than the night sky in October. A few of the stores had replaced their old signs with ones of neon, and Shackleman’s Dive, the most popular bar in town, even fitted their storefront with a hologram. In the center of town, where Oleander’s clock tower had stood for over a century, a floating observation deck was being built on the rubble of the old structure. It was nominally a gift from the technological college that had risen to prominence in the last twenty years, but several of the long-time residents saw it as a clear message: progress is coming, and we will build it upon the bones of the past.
Many symbols of the past were still around, however, rolling slowly down the newly-paved road. A Rabbit drove a large cart down the right side of Waterford Avenue, pulled by a large workhorse. The Mare was solidly built in the manner of her wild cousins, her thick fur and tough hide revealing tremendous strength rolling underneath it as she easily brought the Rabbit and his cart behind her. The Animal sitting in the cart’s high seat was bipedal, like a Human, but looked like a leporidae in every other way. He had white fur, brown eyes, long ears and a short, spaded tail that currently flicked in annoyance as he spotted the line stretching out the front door of Roland’s General Store.
“Goddamnit,” said Abernathy Jones. He tugged on the reins of the cart in front of the nearest hitch (there weren’t that many any more; most of them had been pulled up and replaced with parking spots) and sighed as Krystal slowed quickly to a stop.
“Watch your fucking language,” the Horse said, turning her long head on her thick neck to look at him over her shoulder. “You shouldn’t be so crude in front of a lady.”
Abe quirked an ear and smiled. “I’m very sorry,” he said. “I forgot my company, and it shan’t happen again.”
“It fucking well better not.” Krystal turned to investigate the trough of water in front of her. She took one sniff at it and snorted; Abe would have guessed that it wasn’t fresh, and wouldn’t be surprised if it had algae growing in it. Gerald Port, the current owner of Roland’s General Store, couldn’t be bothered with paying attention to the ‘small’ details that were easy to take for granted. Abe would surely have to badger him into filling a fresh bucket for her when he got in.
“Just stay there, and I’ll make sure you get some fresh water and some nice oats. If I ever get to the front of the line.” Abe hopped down off of the cart, right onto the raised platform that served as a walkway between shops. A few of the Animals in line glanced his way, then turned right back to their conversations.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Krystal replied. She took a long, lazy look at the line, then stared at Abe. “It doesn’t look like you’ll be, either.”
Abe grinned at her in a way that let her know how much he hated her in that moment. She responded by snorting before finding something very interesting on the road in front of her. He walked back a ways to join the back of the line, ignoring the chatter of the Animals along the way.