Adventures of Descent Dale

Now you really stink!

These are the words that Peeu longed to hear, but it hasn’t always been that way.

Peeu hit Ava, a neighborhood playmate with a tagball so hard, it left an imprint of muddy dimples right in the middle of her dress. Her favorite, perfectly fitting, pleated blue dress. She was upset.

Ava quickly unleashed on Peeu. Throwing herself into a handstand, she saturated him. The smell was so noxious it made him gag. Trapping him in a foggy stench.
Peeu hacked and coughed trying to clear his throat.

Ava’s pungent plume stunned Peeu.

She didn’t get her nickname Herfume because she smelled like roses.

He dared not fire back, but he thought about it.

Peeu was the smelliest skunk in all of Descent Dale. He could gas someone in seconds if he wanted to, knocking them off their feet with his noxious vapor, much more powerful than a stun. Even though he could unleash on Ava right now, he would never harm a girl.

Ava still fuming, screamed, “What? Are you blind?

Proud of the prickly orb he launched into the air, Peeu didn’t mean to hit Ava with his ball. He usually aimed at one of the tall brown Cypress trees that surrounded the park. Normally he wouldn’t even be outside at this time of day, as a matter of fact, anyone who lived in Descent Dale rarely showed their face until it was dusk dark.

He wondered why Ava was even outside.

Peeu needed to practice his pitch against the mild wind, so he bravely ventured out. He always kept his arm in shape. At 90 mph, he was the best on his team. In one week, the game of his life would take place.

Descent Dale was known as the smelliest place on earth. But to those who lived there, it was the best smelling place on earth. Descent Dale is the Mecca for skunks.

In the stinky breeze, a chase ensued at Cypress Park. Peeu snaked through the park followed by an angry Ava in her now dirty indigo smock trailing him as she clenched his grimy ball.
“My bad! I’m sorry! Peeu yelled as he fled across the park weaving around murky streams as ducks cleared the way. He was slim and muscular, his long stride against the wind made his denim jacket look like a cape.

Zigging and zagging past the benches, he picked up speed. Peeu imagined he was on the field headed for victory with rivals hot on his trail. But all victory was lost when he tripped on a knotted vine hidden in dry leaves.

Face first he hit the ground, his bottom lip filled with clumpy dirt, and his glasses became tangled in his hair. He furiously tried to spit out the gritty granules, but before he could, his head took another dive into the dirt when Ava pounced on top of him.

With one leg over his back, Ava scrapped to straddle and restrain Peeu as he squirmed from side to side. She pummeled him with his dirty ball over and over again.

He shielded his head with his forearm, letting out short deep groans with every strike to his coiled body.

“I said I was sorry!

“Sorry won’t clean my dress!

Peeu wiggled and rolled from under Ava disoriented. He was now free trying to brush dirt from the narrow stripe of white fur that ran down the back of his head.

“Ugh!! Said Ava as she looked down in disgust at the million mud spatters on her pleats.
Every spot stared back at her.

Scowling,“You stay away from me” she said

Ava turned and stormed off, leaving Peeu where he stood, that’s when Peeu caught a glimpse of a large dark shadow from above.

Huge wide wings passing through the sun, Peeu had never seen wings that big before.

What is that? He wondered to himself.

Peeu paused and stared hard up into the bright sky.

We’re his uncles stories true? Huge wings fixed on either side, gliding in the sky. Eyes locked right on you.

With his breath held at bay, he whispered “No”, it can’t be?

His jaw slackened when he then realized what he saw, but in her anger, Ava did not see it.

Peeu wasted no time heading for Ava as the shadow from the sky began to darken and head straight for them, he had to save Ava and himself.

He’d only heard tales about terror from above. The town elders would talk about things that never were again. Peeu remembered what his uncle use to say: Shadow in the sun, be sure to run, but hearing this, never meant much to him until now.

This shadow belonged to a giant gray owl.

Not just any owl. Bubo.

Bubo was the King of the Great Horned Owls. He ruled a large parliament of owls in which his father and grandfather once reigned. Bubo was strong and fierce. Him and his mob were known to commandeer towns and ravenously feed on the inhabitants after the sun went down until no one was left.

He leapt and tackled Ava, knowing he was going to pay big time for doing it, but he had no choice. He embraced her as they tumbled to the ground smashing a patch of beautiful pink stinkhorn mushrooms. Realizing it was Peeu again, she threw a fit of punching, kicking.

Medium height and slim with evenly trimmed marbled fur from head to toe, Ava looked like a rag doll having a tantrum.

“I did nothing to you! Ava said winded.

He managed to grab her flailing hands and pin them to the ground.

“Shhhhh!

Peeu learned that if owls were seen in day light, it was a sign of great danger, they were desperate. Owls normally hunted at night, but hunting in daylight meant that food was scarce at night.

In an instant he froze. He remembered listening when his grandmother would tell stories of being still so she wouldn’t be seen or heard when owls were on the prowl.

6 thoughts on “Adventures of Descent Dale

  1. Liene says:

    This sounds like a great beginning for a younger middle grade read! I could feel the terror as the owl flew overhead. I definitely would have liked just a bit more description of this town they’re living in. Otherwise I am just imagining a clearing in the woods and maybe some large mushrooms nearby (I don’t know why but they’re there in my head), but no village, nothing that would indicate there is a ton of these skunks living there. Where exactly are they when this first scene is happening?

    I like the idea of animals acting a bit like humans, it isn’t done too often and as I mentioned, great for the younger side of middle grade. It’s unique! There is lots of potential for world building here.

    There were a couple of sentences that I thought could be rephrased. ones such as “She was upset.” it just seems a bit too simple and doesn’t have much feeling. Not that there needs to be a whole lot of description there or that all sentences need to be long, there were some simpler sentences that i felt fit great. But the writing has a lot of spunk (spunk, skunk, haha) in it, so those few sentences that simply state something stick out to me in a way that distracts from the reading.

    There is also one sentence (that i noticed) where you switched to present tense. “Descent Dale is the Mecca for skunks.” Not sure if this is intentional, but it stuck out to me and distracted from the continuous reading.

    I liked this beginning of a story and it has potential for sure! But the lack of description of the surroundings and those couple sentences made it a bit hard to continue somewhere around the middle point. But then the owl came, and I was intrigued again. Still, would be nice to have a bit more before then, since the action starts already, yet I have no idea how to picture where it is.

  2. GBMeek says:

    Hey there Joyce,
    First, hats off to you for choosing this genre. It takes lots of imagination and thought of how to relate to a YA auduence. Second, you have some interesting conflict with the owl and skunk, especially where owl “knowing he was going to pay big time for doing it”. I’m curious to see how later.
    I would, however, maybe begin the story with the paragraph “peer was the smelliest skunk..” for more clarity. I got kind of confused about whi/what the characters were in the way the story currently reads.
    Also, you have a lot of references to how smelly things are; I would cut some of those out, too many.
    Last, for clarity, establish exactly who/what the characters are (skunks with human qualities?) and watch the use of some many higher vocabulary words like pummked, murky, indigo..some are ok, but you have kind of a lot.
    Curious to see how things develop with the owl and skunk conflict.
    Enjoy the process!!

  3. Joyce says:

    Thank you Liene! I thought no one would ever read it.

    I am never sure of when I go in and out of tense, so pointing it out helps a lot. You’ve opened my eyes to the world I need to work on also.

  4. Anna Orridge (@orridge_anna) says:

    A Mecca for skunks sounds great fun. However, I do wonder if the tone would make it a better for Chapter Books rather than MG, even lower MG. I can see it working really well with illustrations and a little less description, Fantastic Mr Fox style.

    I think you might need to clarify the character’s attitude to smell. You have one of the characters nearly ‘gagging” on the fumes, but you also say this city smells great to skunks. So do the like their own stench or not.

    The first few lines need some work. Why does he want to hear this and why was it not always like thus? I get you’re trying to get a good hook, but you need to explain, I think, or it’s just disorientating.

    You use speech marks at the beginning of dialogue snatches but not at the end. I find this confusing.

    The arrival of the owl is nicely done, but I’d cut down on adjectives to maximise impact.

    I like the lively tone of this piece, I just think you might need to re-think how it’s pitched in terms of age.

    Good luck!

  5. Joyce says:

    Thank you everyone who read and commented on my book. The advice helps me to know where I stand as I continue to write.

    In terms of age and genre, I purposely ignored them after learning about writing, because they box me in. Age and genre in the back of my mind don’t allow me to write freely, so I ditched them for now. I don’t know what age or genre, I just know that I want to write well, and write a great book.

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