Camp Nanowrimo

So this month there’s an event called Camp Nanowrimo running where participants write 50,000 words of a novel in a month. That’s 1,667 words a day… Quite a lot. I’m giving it a half-hearted attempt since I only remembered it was running a week into it. I’m on just over 6,000 words at the moment, which is a bit pathetic. I’ll do it properly in July and maybe August. Watching your word count move closer to the 50,000 word target is a great incentive. Everyone reading this should give it a go!

This is the first part of the story I’m writing. It’s only a first draft and unedited (there really isn’t time to write AND edit 1,667 words a day), so beware of typos and (gasp) the passive voice.

Also, I’m trying to get some stuff published in magazines at the moment so I’ll be more selective about what I upload here. Most magazines want stories that haven’t been published before, and putting something on a blog counts as publishing, even if it only gets five views.

Final note, why isn’t ‘blog’ in the WordPress dictionary? And neither is ‘WordPress’, I see. MADNESS.



‘Invalid opinion, please try again.’

Monkey kneels on her bunk with her head bowed and her hands clasped together in front of her.

‘Forgive me, Deity,’ she says. She thinks for a moment. Around her the Doolittle hummed as it continued its pilgrimage through space. ‘It’s just that I’m sure I saw something when I went to the bridge two days ago.’

‘My sensors detected nothing. Your opinion is still invalid. Your opinion will be removed by free will or catechism.’

‘Yes, I see.’ Monkey frowns. ‘I suppose I’ve just been uneasy ever since we picked up the Grievous.’

‘I have not provided incentive to be uneasy. This is an irrational opinion.’

‘I know. I am sorry to be wrong, Deity. But… Please remind me of the difference between fact and opinion.’ She had seen something. She was sure.

‘All fact is based on observation. Observation may be flawed. Unflawed observation is possible only through omniscience. You do not possess omniscience. The margin of error therefore prevents you observing facts, therefore you observe only opinion.’

‘Thank you. I had forgotten.’

‘Forgetting is understandable given your limited cognitive powers. You are forgiven, Monkey. Do not worry. Deity will protect your body, but only free will can protect the mind.’

‘Deity, why am I called Monkey?’

There is a pause and a click. ‘You are in possession of this knowledge.’

Monkey lifts her head and looks at the Deity Screen. The image of her mother is onscreen, sitting at a mess hall table and smiling. She speaks with the voice of Deity. It’s only an image, of course; Monkey’s mother has a voice like everyone else onboard.

‘I’ve forgotten, Deity. It’s my limited powers of perception.’


‘Well, it’s my insufficient information storage capacity instead, then.’

‘Incorrect. Memory loss is more generally attributed to the inability to retrieve information already stored. However, in this case it is more likely to be attributed to free will.’

Monkey sighs. ‘But–’

‘You asked this question of Pater this morning.’ Monkey’s mother disappears from the screen and is replaced by a recording of Monkey talking with Pater while they ate breakfast in the mess hall. There is no sound but there are subtitles. ‘This occurred at 7:38.’

Monkey lowers her head. ‘You’re right, Deity. Sorry.’

‘Improve conversational efficiency by removing redundant expressions. Resubmit a response.’


‘Sufficient. You are forgiven. Tomorrow is your birthday. Save your questions until then, Monkey.’

Monkey looks up again, once more into the eyes of her mother. ‘Alright, Deity. Watch over us while we sleep.’

Pause, click. ‘Not yet, Monkey. An admission is required.’

‘An admission of what? I haven’t done anything wrong.’

‘You are currently demonstrating that your behaviour is becoming over-familiar.’

‘That’s not fair!’ Monkey jumps to her feet. ‘I’m only behaving over-familiar because you said I’d done something wrong!’

‘Incorrect. Your admission and your current behaviour are separate issues. Two admissions are now required.’

Monkey drops down onto her bunk and sits facing away from the screen. The image of her mother is scowling at the back of her head.

‘You went to the engine room.’

‘I already admitted that,’ Monkey says. She has her arms folded and she’s glaring at the wall.

‘That is not an offence during free time. You are not required to admit this.’

‘Well I don’t know what I’m supposed to admit, then.’ Monkey’s eyes don’t move from the wall as she speaks.

‘I am prompting you, as you are aware. You will soon be punished.’

Monkey turns and looks at the screen. A bar running down the left-hand side is almost completely red. The rest is blue. That’s how close she is to being punished.

‘That’s only eighty-one percent. You can’t punish me yet.’ She turns back to the wall without looking at how this remark has affected the bar.

‘It is now ninety-five percent. I have initiated a countdown.’

‘Fine!’ She stands up and shouts at the ceiling. ‘I went to the engine room because I wanted to ask Spanner some questions.’

‘Admit what those questions were going to be.’

‘But you know!’

‘Admit what those questions were going to be.’

Monkey sighs and sits down on her bunk. ‘Alright. Sorry, Deity. I don’t know why I’m acting like this.’

‘Are you sure? It is easy to deduce. Attempt.’

‘I suppose it’s because it will be my birthday tomorrow and I won’t be a child any more.’

‘Correct. Do not cry, Monkey. Current predictions indicate that you will not be punished.’

‘I’m not crying because I’m scared about being punished. I’m disappointed with myself. Mum told me to practice acting like an adult now so it would be easier later.’

‘I know. Do not cry due to disappointment in yourself. You are fallible. Mistakes are inevitable and instructional.’

Monkey wipes her eyes with her sleeves and settles back into a kneeling position on her bunk, facing her mother, who is smiling.

‘Deity, why do you say ‘I know’? Isn’t that redundant?’

Click. ‘I am pleased with your observation, Monkey. ‘I know’ is a redundant expression. However, it serves as a useful reminder to you.’

‘I see.’

‘I will add information from this conversation to your psychological profile.’


‘Without proper monitoring, you may become susceptible to self-doubt and unreasonable expectations. 84 percent of children experience this before becoming adults. Be reassured.’

‘I am. Thank you.’

‘Numerous changes to your psychological profile are to be expected. Be prepared to think new things.’

Monkey nods. For a moment the only sound is the ship.

‘Deity, I would like to make some admissions.’


‘I went to the engine room to ask Spanner some questions. I wanted tell him about the thing I saw at the bridge and ask him about it. I also wanted to ask about the Grievous.’ She racks her brain for anything else. ‘And I wanted to ask about being an adult.’

‘This is all information that I can provide.’

Monkey knows what is expected of her. She’s done this many times before.

‘I was wrong to go to Spanner instead of you. I also distracted Spanner from his work, and then I was angry when he didn’t answer my questions. All of these were incorrect opinions.’

‘This admission is sufficient. Convert your guilt into correct information. This requires free will.’

‘Yes, Deity.’

‘You have another admission to make.’

‘I admit that I have been behaving over-familiarly with you, Deity. I have shown a lack of the respect that should be afforded to a divine being.’

‘Submit an apology.’

‘I’m sorry.’

‘Your admission is accepted. I have written a questionnaire for you to fill out. It should take less than five minutes.’

Monkey begins filling out the questionnaire on the screen. It’s about her admissions, asking for further details. The last part is a series of multiple-choice questions about exactly what she has done wrong.

Question 6. My main fault in attempting to ask questions of Spanner was:

A)     Showing a lack of trust in Deity

B)     Distracting Spanner from his work

C)     Misusing my free time

D)     Not submitting a written enquiry to Spanner

Monkey selects A.

Question 7. The most admirable quality demonstrated by Spanner in this instance was the way he:

A)     Declined to answer my questions, on the basis that I had not submitted a written enquiry

B)     Acknowledged my presence

C)     Instructed me of the proper procedure

D)     Declined to answer my questions, on the basis that doing so would show a lack of trust in Deity

Monkey selects D. ‘Deity,’ she asks, ‘why is C not correct?’

‘Instructing fellow crew-members of procedure is an admirable quality. However, as the only crew-member in which incomplete understanding of procedure is permissible is unable to utilise spoken communication, this is redundant.’

‘I see.’ She completes the rest of the questionnaire in a minute. ‘Watch over us while we sleep, Deity,’ she says, and climbs into bed.

‘You are safe, Monkey.’

‘Good night.’

‘Good night.’

Monkey climbs into her bunk and Deity turns out the light. In the dark she thinks of the thing she saw in the bridge. It had scared her, but if Deity doesn’t know something then it’s not true. He is omniscient, which makes him divine.

She finds that she can stop worrying about whatever she’d thought she’d seen, but not her birthday tomorrow. She lies awake for a while, thinking about it. It only means less free time and more work, but for some reason she still worries. She’s capable of doing more work and sometimes she gets bored in her free time, anyway. Ever since Spanner became an adult there have only been the younger kids to play with. She can’t talk to them like she used to with Spanner.

She considers asking Deity for a way to get to sleep but as she considers it she drifts off, a frown creasing her forehead.


About lemonmachine

I am Kieren McCallum, a third-year English Literature student at UEA, Norwich. View all posts by lemonmachine

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