Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, a weekly Sunday hop where writers share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. I finally cracked and signed up for NaNoWriMo for the very first time, towards the last minute, and am doing a near-complete redo of a long-hiatused alternative history whose hero has very close to my heart since age 15. It’s hard to explain just how and why the story of this beautiful, innocent boy captured my heart and haunted me so. Maybe, from the other world, he wanted me to give him the happy ending he was denied in this life.
I began it at age 16, did a little bit of expansion at 21, and then always planned to someday get back to it. Now that time has finally come. I’m pretty embarrassed at how terribly the original was written, and happy for the opportunity to essentially start fresh.
My alternative story starts where the real-life story sadly ended. You’ll see for yourself exactly what it’s about.
This has been slightly edited to fit eight lines.
In a corner of a small cellar room lit only by a dim bulb, and with the windows nailed shut, thirteen-year-old Alekséy sat trembling in an armchair as bullets ricocheted off the brick wall. A silent scream formed in his throat, but he was too paralyzed by fear to utter it. His ashen face was already splattered with his father’s blood, and there was only so long the hemophiliac heir could be protected by the jewels sewn into his shirt. The specter of Death had hovered over him his whole life, but now it finally seemed as though he’d run out of miracles for this lifetime.
The cacophony of shooting was suddenly broken by strange voices coming down the stairs, and the firing squad turned to face these surprise intruders. Though it was hard to see through the thick haze of gunsmoke, Alekséy could see the late-night callers were clad in military uniforms; if they were from the Red Army, his life would soon be over, but if they were from the White Army, he, his sisters, and their servants could be rescued tonight and finally taken home.
The assassins, too stunned by this unexpected development, didn’t move to turn their weapons on the soldiers. After the smoky haze cleared, the soldiers could make out the freshly-dead bodies of the Tsar and Tsarítsa.
“For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'” (John Greenleaf Whittier, “Maud Muller,” 1856)