I’ve been writing up a storm with AngelFire. In the last week I’ve written 10,000 words, after a decade where I hardly wrote at all. It’s marvellous. At this rate I’ll have finished AngelFire by the end of the year. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves!
Here’s a snippet from the first chapter of AngelFire. I hope you like it.
There was a rustle in the undergrowth under the great trees. The forest was usually silent, all noise swallowed up by the thick carpet of slender tan and sepia leaves underneath the giant falcs, except for the shrill calls of brightly coloured parrots, the occasional cry of an animal under the claws and teeth of a predator, the grunt of bush-pigs or baboons. He already knew enough to know that, and the noise intrigued, though it did not alarm him. He turned his eyes — a clear grey with a touch of blue — towards the noise, and waited. There was again a stillness, the windless silence of a vast forest, broken only by the chatter of a family of scarlet parakeets. He watched the place where the noise had come from for many heartbeats and his lips curved in a smile of sheer pleasure. Everything was so beautiful. He had never seen such exquisite loveliness before. He was filled with joy at the magnificence of the forest, at the layer of brown leaves on the ground, and the flaking bark of the trees, each peeling of the brown outer layer revealing a different green layer underneath. He walked forward, towards the bushes the noise had come from. They were covered with berries, some black and glossy, others a dark red, and still others a thin translucent pink. He quickly found that the black berries were sweet with a delicious tart after-taste, but that the others were too sour to be eaten with pleasure. He ate until he was full. He hadn’t known he was hungry. He hadn’t even known the word, or what it meant, but as he ate, it came into his head. Hungry.
He felt himself observed and looked up. From within the bushes, a pair of perfect pale gold eyes with vertical slits of ebony were watching him, eyes set in a face covered in short glossy black fur. He laughed in pleasure, and reached out his hand towards the face and it was abruptly gone. The smile left his eyes, and for an instant there was fear, perhaps, or sorrow, but that too vanished. He started striding over the soft carpet underfoot, with every appearance of knowing exactly where he was heading, though he could not have explained where, or even the concept, if you had asked him.
He came upon a stream in the crook of a valley, crystalline water dripping over dark branches and twigs, and cupping his hands he drank his fill. He noticed paw prints almost as large as his hand in the mud, one filling with seeping water as he watched, and again he smiled, his eyes shining with happiness. All was new. All perfect.
He kept walking, sometimes loping through the airy halls of the falc forest, at other times, stopping to eat more fruit, or mushrooms he found growing underneath the giant trees on fallen branches or the rotting trunks of some forest monarch brought down by a storm. He seemed to know which fungi were edible and safe, and which were to be avoided. His path took him ever northwards, towards a goal he couldn’t name, a place and people he didn’t know. He did not follow an undeviating line, though, turning often aside to avoid steep cliffs or thickets of thorn bushes covered with sweet-scented white flowers. From time to time, he was aware of being watched, but he had no fear, only a fine patience that this too would become clear in time. All was new and wonderful. He trusted because he had not been taught otherwise.