NaNoWriMo and the Traveling Shovel of Death

So, I’m procrastinating and reading the NaNo forums instead of writing. And there’s a thread about this shovel! Not just any shovel. A murderous, serial-killer shovel. You can read about it here Traveling Shovel of Death if you’re interested.

I think, no way can this work in my story, a medieval romance fantasy adventure (???). The next thing I know, my characters are mucking out a stable. Wait – is that a shovel? How did that get in here??

Writing in the TSoD gave me a playful moment, and it set up a plot ‘thing’ for later on. Plus, it gave the characters an excuse to leave the stable. So – useful AND fun! I’d like to find some synonyms for shovel, however. đŸ˜›

You can read about the TSoD’s adventure in my novel below if you like. Beware, however; this deceptively mild-mannered gardening tool tends to wander into unsuspecting narratives.

(Please excuse the many typos & rough spots & * (reminders for later editing) — this is NaNo, OK?)

Devon was about to make a joke when the other boy stiffened and glanced behind him.

“What?” Devon didn’t see anything, but Cyrran’s eyes were wide.

The gypsy almost ran the last few stesp up to the stable, and dropped the pails. Water sloshed up the sides and splashed over.

Devon looked from side to side, but nothing threatening caught his eye.

Cyrran grabbed the shovel from his hands. slinging its load off to the side.

“Hey!” With Devon’s luck, Galvin would come around the corner right in the path of the flying muck. “What are you -”

Cyrran clutched the shovel to his chest and crouched down, backing away from Devon and the water buckets. His eyes darted from side to side as he stared maniacally* into thin air.

Devon held up a hand. “Cyrran – are you okay?”

The gypsy’s reply was terse. “Did you see it? It was right there!”

“There’s nothing – what are you talking about?” He stepped forward, reaching out with the intention of placing a hand on his friend’s arm.

Cyrran’s body tensed. His eyes fixed on a point on the ground. “Gotcha,” he whispered with vicious intent. In a slow, smooth movement, he raised the filthy shovel over his head. Then smashed it down with all his might. Mud and Devon didn’t want to think what else splatted out from under the blow.

He flinched away, but Cyrran was already lifting the shovel and peering at the underside.

“Did I get it?”

“What in hell -”

“Aaagh!” Something flew out of the muddy mess on the ground, right at Cyrran’s face. He struck out with the shovel again, beating against the air.

Devon ducked, looked up. What was that? Something blue buzzed past his ear and dove between Cyrran’s legs. Devon stared.

cyrran yelled and leaped in the air, then hopped from foot to foot, bending down to look under his feet*. The fat speck zipped in a spiral around the gypsy, then buried itself in his hair.

“Aahh!” Cyrran dropped the kshovel and brushed* his hands against his blond curls, shaking his head violently from side to side like a dog after a swim. “Get it off, Get it off!”

The shovel was getting trampled, buried in mud. Worse, the blade of it stuck out of the dirt, and Devon could just see Cyrran stepping on it and sending the handle flying up into his face. He narrowed his eyes, and when the timing was right, he lunged forward and seized the tool, pulling it out of the other boy’s range.*

Cyrran finally dislodged the bug from his scalp, and it flew in an erratic, wobbling path between the boys. The gypsy grunted with relief and backed up against the stable’s outer wall, panting.

Devon tightened his grip on the handle of the shovel. “Do you see it?” He kept his voice calm, even. The blond was panicked enough for the both of them. He could understand Cyrran’s fear of the firebugs, if they always attacked him like this.

“N-no…” Cyrran sounded strangled.

Devon frowned. He looked around, saw nothing, heard nothing.


He turned around slowly. His eyes wandered over the wooden planks behind the gypsy and stopped when a tiny, blue glow caught his attention. He met Cyrran’s terrified gaze and tried to smile.

“Shhh…” He put a finger to his lips in warning.

The blue speck crawled down the wall towards the blond’s head.

Cyrran froze. His eyes didn’t leave Devon as the shovel was drawn back.

Devon swung hard, crashing the back of the shovel* into the wall.

Cyrran shut his eyes tight and sank to the ground, his face white.

“Did – did you get it?”

Devon pulled the shovel back cautiously. The tiny creature’s glowing light, if it had ever existed, had been extinguished. A string of black goo stretched from the tool to the wood. The strand drooped and thinned to a thread, then snapped in two. He would have thought he imagined the bug if he didnt know better. He grimaced.

“That’s disgusting.”

Cyrran shuddered. “I – I told you they creep me out.”

Devon nodded, breathing hard. “I can see why.” He looked at the gypsy crouched down. “Let’s go take a break. We’ll come back in a little while and finish up.”

Cyrran nodded*, too wornout for words.

Devon stuck out his hand and helped the other boy up. He tossed the shovel back into the shadows of the stable, and they walked through the courtyard and out the gatehouse, leaving the dead firebug’s remains behind.

Hope you enjoyed despite all the mistakes and awkwardnesses (haha)


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