It’s been a struggle for me to write the book in the sequence the events take place. I have chapters in my head that are way ahead of the current moment of the story. It is therapeutic to get those chapters written so I can focus on the current moment of the novel. I can incorporate those chapters at a later date.
I will include the current draft of the main novel in this post. If you are not familiar with the premise of my novel, it is a high fantasy story that’s not very original, but many of the characters can speak with animals. Those persons are completely hairless. They have alopecia universalis. It is a rare condition, but about one tenth of humanity has it. And each tribe of humans lives in a mostly peaceful and virtuous anarchic existence, with each tribe having an animal as it’s totem. It’s a world where most humans are good and kind, and geography solves most problems of irreconcilable cultural differences.
There is an event in the novel, a magical or divine event, that results in a full third of humanity becoming completely hairless, and being able to speak with animals whether they want to or not. I will now share the first draft of that chapter with you:
Authors Note: This chapter is out of sequence. It is written as I am about to send Fabian and company from Camel Lot to the pyramid in the desert. Today is 1/15/2022. The chapter is inside me, and it needs to come out.
Joruun awoke to a flat, white, cloudy sky. The summer air was damp, but cool. Instantly she knew it would likely be at most a mild day, maybe light rain, but otherwise still and quiet. She blinked her eyes a couple of times, hoping the clearing of mucous would improve her vision, but the white sky remained, and she sat up in her bearskin bed.
Joruun stretched, her soft marsmallowy biceps belying the great muscle beneath, and she looked about. To her left her horse nibbled at young beech leaves, and to the right, at a stony beach, the river babbled softly over stones and log debris. Naked, and unashamed, she threw off the bearskin and stumbled sleepily to the riverside. She knelt her delightfuly plump self in the mud, and scooped water to splash her face and wash the sleep from her eyes. She then gargled and spat, and stared at her reflection in the water.
Her thick mane of auburn hair caacaded down her back with slight curls and across her pale, freckled breasts, and it was stubbled with some leaf and twig debris. After the tussle with the Manticore the previous night, she had fallen asleep exhausted, not thinking to clean herself. And so she decided it was time, and dunked her head into the stream, feeling the cool water seep into her ears and around her scalp. She felt the water soak into her hair, and was prepared to pull out her head of heavy wet hair. She exhaled, and bubbles streamed about her face, and she let water seep into her nostrils, to clean her sinuses.
Pulling back, she gasps, spraying water out her noses and mouth, and instinctively went to push her wet hair out of her face. Her hands pushed against smooth, wet, slippery skin.
It was then she heard “Mama, where is your mane?”
On guard, she glanced about quicky for some hidden foe, but there was no one else but her horse, who stared at her curiously. “Your mane is in the water mama.”
Confused, Joruun looked to the water, and saw a massive, auburn mass of hair floating slowly downstream, and then felt a distinct chill of the wind on her scalp. Her right hand went to her head, and she felt smooth skin, and suddenly she panicked. Her hair. Her glorious mop of thick, auburn hair. She knelt down in the shallows, stones digging into her knees and shins, and peered at the water. Her reflection revealed a lovely shaped bald head, no eyebrows, no hair. She looked to her armpits, her groin, and only a few lose hairs clinged, the rest had fallen out.
“Mama! You’re all naked now!” she heard. And soft lips nibbled at her back, and Jorunn startled and turned about with a splash. Her horse retreated a step, and looked at her with her right eye.
“Did you say I am naked?” Jorunn asked, on all fours, in the water, staring up at her horse.
“You can talk!” exclaimed Jorunn.
“You can hear!!” said the horse.
And then it set in, finally, that Jorunn had become blessed, and she wept. She had lost the object of her beauty, her glorious mane of auburn hair, and could hear the thoughts of animals. She rolled over and lay half in the stream, half out, on the stony beach, and wept, and her horse said, “Mama it’s okay. Please don’t cry.” And a horse tongue wiped away her tears, and horse lips nibbled her cheeks.
And Jorunn cried “Stop, please. Stop.” Joruun continued to weep, and the horse knelt down, and rested her head on Jorunn’s arm, and patiently let her cry until she rant out of tears.
* * *
Shomari surveyed his camels by the pond, a pond he created with the help of dwarfish engineers and his own magical talents. They drank, they swam, and they spat, and were content. The foundation of his prosperity, the camels were everything to Shomari, and he was glad to see they were doing well. A few were mischievious, and liked to tug on his chin braid. And so as he surveyed his camels, one came and tugged, and he didn’t feel it. The camel chewed, and Shomari assumed it was yet another camel chewing its cud.
He completed his survey, and one of the dwarfs came by to report on the digging in the hillside. “Sir, we’ve finished chamber four, and the… you shaved your beard?”
Shomari said, “Nonsense. I am a wizard.” And he brought a fist to stroke his beard, only he grasped nothing.
Startled, hes said “one moment,” and rushed to the pond, and looked into his reflection. In the still water, his round, chubby, chocolate face had no chin whiskers, and no eyebrows, and no nose hairs, and his scalp which normally had a degree of stubble from shaving was skin clean.
And he heard the camels speaking. “How far can you spit?” “Farther than you no doubt! You’re pretty cocky for a juvenile! Speaking of cocky, you’ll be surprised when your child looks like me.”
And Shomari realized immediately what happened, and laughed, and his massive belly heaved up and down like a shaken bag of gelatin. The camels continued their jibes and crude comments, and Shomari laughed all the harder. Not only had he built a successful outpost in the desert, not only had he prospered, met a lovely woman, employed his countrymen and foreigners alike, but now he could hear the speech of animals. He laughed so hard he cried, and he cried so hard laughed. He was blessed beyond his wildest dreams. The dwarf, confused, went back to work.
“Look, ol Pudding Belly is laughing! What’s he laughing about!” said one Camel. And Shomari laughed even harder, until he was short of breath, and his vision blurred, and he fell to his knees, and gasped for air, and then resumed laughing. He laughed for almost half an hour, alternating between tears, and gasping, and laughing, and back again, until he was exhausted, and had to retire to his bed. He fell asleep listening to the whispers of ants, and scorpions, and a spider in the corner of his tent that waited for flies, and the faint gossip of cranky vultures griping about the poor pickings of rotten flesh. Shomari chuckled briefly, but his diaphragm was sore, and he contented himself with cheerful amusement at his good fortune, and fell into a deep sleep.
* * *
In the wilderness between Bear and Pig country, there was a small, crudely constructed hut. A man there with a T scarred onto his cheek beat his dalmation with a stick. The dog whimpered, and cringed in the corner, and his father chopped wood on him, screaming in rage.
Then the man heard a voice, “Father I’m sorry. I don’t know what I did wrong! Please stop hurting me!”
He raised his stick again, and then stopped. The dog whimpered, and cringed, and the man said “what did you say?”
“I’m sorry Father. What did I do wrong?”
The man took a step back, and dropped his stick, and swept his other hand across his face with disbelief. He felt something fuzzy in his calloused palms, and his beard and eyebrows were laying there. He shook his head in disbelief, and felt his head become lighter, and his long, unkempt hair fell out in clumps.
The dog hadn’t been fed in days, and had taken the half-rotted remains of a rabbit from the spit over a neglected fireplace.
Not understanding empathy, the man recoiled, and fled the little hut, and ran into the forest, found a cave under a huge boulder, and dived into it. A troll was sleeping there, and awoke suddenly to a loud thump next to him. His great hand reached out instinctively, grabbed the man by the throat, and strangled the life out of him. Awaking fully, the troll realized that some fool had run into his cave and delivered breakfast. Studying the body, it was yet another Marked human. The troll could not read, but he knew which humans were rejected by the brands on their cheeks. They tended to be the rudest of all his victims. He had let some sweet, kind hearted humans go before, but the marked ones he always ate. He hadn’t eaten man flesh in many months, and it would be a welcome change. Maybe he could make human sausages, or some some gelatin, or a stew.
A day after, the dalmation, missing his master, went out searching. He came upon the cave, where he met a troll. The troll was cooking great smelling stew that seemed familiar somehow. There were also freshly tied sausages hanging over a fire, being gently cured and smoked.
Trolls, like humans, often keep animal companions. Usually they’re nastier creatures like giant spiders, or carrion crawlers, but they’re known to sometimes keep dogs and cats. The troll offered the dog a bowl of stew, which he happily ate. The dog then cuddled with the troll by the fire, and the troll gently stroked his fur. The dog quickly forgot his former master who beat him, and lived with the troll to the end of his days, and his days were exceptionally long.
* * *
Two men of the Dolphin tribe, both honorable, had an irreconcilable difference about who owned a mulberry tree. They could not be persuaded to share it, and so they fought bare handed to resolve the dispute. Witnesses to this dispute watched, sad but stoic, and the two men punched, kicked, head butt, and wresteled. Both had bloodied noses and scatches on their bodies. One man seemed to gain the upper hand, and pulling the other up by the pony tail, prepared to land a final blow, only the tail came off in his hand. His foe, not realizing what had happened, landed a swift kick to the other’s balls, and the man fell to the earth with a fist full of hair.
Both wheezed, and coughed, and there was murmering among the witnesses. The murmer raised to gasps and shouts, and the two combatants ceased and looked about. There were women and men pointing to each other, and rubbing their naked scalps where there used to be hair, and in the mulberry tree they could heart the crows say “Welp, I guess no dinner for us tonight!” “Nope! They’re not going to finish it. When’s there a good war when you want one? Remember the werewolves?”
“Aye! I enjoy werewolf flesh. It’s like eating dog and human together.”
The two combatants looked at each other, for their hair hand fallen out, and their beards, and their armpit hair, and the rest of their hair, and they noticed they were itchy, even the man who was just kicked, and they scratched at the irritation. They laughed, and listened to the banter of the crows, and the beetles, and the ants, and the worms who turned up to the vibration of two men fighting on the soil above them.
The man still on his feet offered his hand to other who laid stunned on the ground, and helped him up. And they agreed to share the fruit of the mulberry tree from now until it died a natural death.
* * *
Across the planet, the hair of human men and women fell out, and they heard the thoughts and words of animals. A great many were overwhelemed, and it drove them mad for a time, until they learned to filter the noise. Others were grateful for the newfound intimacy, and others felt remorse for treating animals not as well as they could have. There were only a handful of suicides, but most people became used to their newfound gift, and adjusted to it.
A full third of humanity now was completely hairless, and could speak intimately with animal life. Wig makers saw a boom in their business for a while, but when the newly hairless had children who were also hairless, the business tapered back to normal levels. The suppliers of warm hats and dust filtering veils did good business and prospered.
Below is a link to the current version of Zootaloot!