Hello Commons, I have a new book out! It’s called The Monksville Chronicles.
Set around a fictional version of the Monksville Reservoir, a man-made lake in my hometown, The Monksville Chronicles tells a fantasy story of denizens and deep water; the majority of the characters are animals (shout out to Lord Hilaetos the osprey and Buggaboo the flying squirrel), there are no humans but rather giants, and it follows the goings on of the lake over the course of one year, which is called a cycle by the giants.
The story is broken into five chapters, each chapter consisting of many smaller sub-chapters/passages/whatever you want to call them. They are titled A Tale of Giants, Birds of Prey, Ice Fishing, Island Life, and Open Water; A Tale of Giants tells of how the tribe of giants found the crescent moon valley and how they filled it by performing a rain dance, and the rest take place during one of the four seasons many cycles after the fact: Birds of Prey during the autumn of the sixth cycle since the filling of Monksville, Ice Fishing during the winter of the seventh, Island Life the spring of the seventh, and Open Water the summer of the seventh.
There also may or may not be a subplot about aliens and an underwater creature known only as The Beast – may or may not. You’ll have to read it to find out of I’m full of shit.
I was gonna garble about how the book came to be, but that feels a little janky so instead, here’s a passage called Devilbird from the Open Water chapter and a link to buy the book on Amazon, not necessarily in that order.
The mountains have long claimed the great shine; the night air is chilled, haunted by the screeching owl.
Buggaboo creeps up to the entrance of the hollow. The bark is callusy and thick, knotty, as it were, and he pokes his snout over the lip and sniffs. Not safe yet. He crawls over to the beginnings of a nest he’s accumulated for himself, nothing more than a pile of slowly browning grasses, and rests his head for a moment. A small sigh escapes his mouth but his eyes do not close, not even for an instant, even though he’s more tired than the dead. All that effort he put in to find this awesome home – and it’s so awesome; fully rotted out, high off the ground, entrance facing the water – just to abandon it for taller trees. Such is life, Buggaboo supposes; the will of Mother Monksville is very much its own, and the wind blows in whichever direction it sees fit.
Before long the eyelids of the flying squirrel meet. He curls into a ball and blankets himself with his tail; here Buggaboo finds bliss, though it is not long for this world; a terribly shrill screech bombs him awake, an owl’s screech that came from nearby. That damned phantom must have heard him sigh… had Buggaboo known his dream hollow was exposed to an owl’s hunting grounds, he never would have left the last one. He would have just stayed with Nudderbudder, but it’s null at this point; another demonic screech, fainter this round. It’s hungry, getting impatient. Liable to slip up. Buggaboo doesn’t even breathe.
Silence. A gusting of wind, a rustle of leaves. The distant flapping of a pair of wings – a fading threat, or perhaps an unkept promise? Again, it’s null; the ghoul’s left and returned unprovoked once – fleeing haphazardly will surely draw it back. Bugga’ needs a plan then, an escape route along which he won’t be followed by the corrupted spirit of the moon.
He approaches the lip of the hollow again, wraps his delicate front paws around the chipped bark; he can see the water all right, black as the starpool and calm as a settled snowdrift – maybe. It’s difficult to tell with his vision obscured by the trees. The flying squirrel has but two choices, really: hop off into the branches or keep low beneath the underbrush. The owl screeches inland; not close, but not far off either. Not far off at all.
The underbrush is the only real option here. The owl, motherless as is it unfathered, reigns supreme over the star-flecked plumage of the dusk; it would be nothing short of foolish to gamble this wager in the spectre’s domain. Although, Buggaboo still must at least consider the glide. Starting from the low ground would catch our flying squirrel swimming, and the flying squirrel is no mink – his gliders don’t exactly love the water. So the branches, then… would catch him gliding through the open air at canopy level. Fuck it, he may as well swim; at least the Reservoir doesn’t have a beak.
Mounting the lip on all fours, Buggaboo checks his immediate front and smells the air. The witch doctor is in, there’s nigh a question about that, but he’s not in front. If ever there existed a moment for ‘Boo to jam, this certainly must be it – the flying squirrel leaps, stretches his limbs, and the gliders engage.
Using his tail to strafe and bank between tree branches and tall trunks, the flying squirrel glides through the forest like a leaf flits through the air: gracefully, with a beautiful intelligence guiding its movements. When he touches down, he does so with his back paws first. The menace screams from behind before his front paws follow suit.
Panic. ‘Heart racing, losing breath,’ Buggaboo thinks to himself. ‘I can’t think, can’t process. It’s coming, it heard me, it’ll have me. I’m ‘munked.’
Then he sees the long rock pile and he stops his nonthinking.
The silent flapping of starved wings looms from behind. Buggaboo can feel the presence of the thing, the harpy reject with razors for feet and a bloodlust to rival the hawks, an unfeeling feathered blaspheme who fears the light of day. Buggaboo’s a nocturne as well, but not strictly; how ironic, by mimicking the behavior of tonight’s foe he could have avoided this encounter altogether, but I digress; Buggaboo makes his approach with the owl trailing far behind.
‘A painfully fruitless endeavor,’ the flying squirrel concludes after considering the efforts of his enemy. If his memory serves true, this long rock pile should extend to the shore across the Northern Leg from the larger of the two islands before sliding down into the water; this is fortuitous for Buggaboo. He’ll be gliding through the open air after all, but not quite through the sky, not up at canopy level. The devilbird will go hungry another night.
Be well Commons~