Pretty Yakky Stuff!
Hi everyone! Today I have guest author Craig Boyack telling us all about his latest book The Yak Guy Project. Just from the cover, I can say it looks like a lot of fun! Take it away Craig …
Thanks for the invitation, Harmony, and for allowing me to promote The Yak Guy Project to your friends. This one is an alternate world fantasy, or a portal fantasy, if you like that term.
The Yak Guy winds up on a world that’s destroyed itself in a great war. The people still fight, but it’s more tribal now, since they’ve destroyed hundreds of years of technology.
Below is an excerpt from early in the book. It reveals a bit of the lazy, and nearly worthless, Yak Guy. It also involves a conversation with the yak, so you get to see a bit of his character here too. The lesson at this point in the tale is pretty basic. They get much more complicated as the story evolves.
We came to a series of broad weathered trenches. Rusted chunks of equipment dotted the landscape. One of them was a self-propelled artillery piece. Its spidery legs were twisted, rusty, and broken. “What happened here?”
The yak stopped. “The people here have waged war for hundreds of years. There are many places like this. They destroyed all their technology and now fight with rocks, clubs, and sharp objects. They usually take the metal away, but we are far from anyone. Today, they worry more about needs than wants.”
“Back to the zen shit again? Do I need a weapon?”
“Are you angry with anyone here?”
“I don’t know anyone here.”
“Exactly.” He moved across the trench and headed into the next one.
“Oh, come on. Let’s check this stuff out, maybe there’s something useful.”
“Fine.” The yak walked up to a destroyed tank. And waited.
The treads were blown off, and the turret was missing. I looked around and climbed inside. The rusted driving levers were hot to the touch. When I hopped down I grabbed the waterskin and sat in the shade the tank offered.
“There is something useful here,” the yak said. “That shiny rock at your heels. Put it in your pocket.”
I picked up the rock. It was about as big as my palm, white, and jagged. “What’s so great about it?”
“That is flint. You will need it tonight.”
I dropped it in my pocket and finished my drink.
“Tighten my saddle, time for you to ride.”
The Joshua trees disappeared, and the junipers made their own forest. Small hoof prints showed up in the dust at several places.
By mid-afternoon the yak led us to a tiny spring trickling from a ledge. “Take my saddle off. It’s time to ruminate once more.”
“Still seems kind of early.”
“This is about needs and wants. I need to digest my food and cannot do that while trekking.”
“Fine for you, but what am I supposed to do?” I removed the saddle and equipment, then hung the waterskin on a juniper tree.
“I will show you, but you need to develop some initiative on your own. I am not your friend’s pantry to steal from. Follow me.” He stuck his nose in the air and headed into a wooded draw.
Flies buzzed around the trees, and the cluster grew thicker where the yak went. He led me to a fruit tree where old fruit covered the ground. A few bright yellow apples clung to the higher branches. It smelled syrupy and sweet.
“You can eat this,” he said.
I climbed into the tree and grabbed several of the cleanest fruits. Back on the ground, they smelled okay. They had wormholes in them. “I can’t eat these. They’re all buggy.”
“Let me see one.”
I held one out and turned it so he could see the wormhole. He ate it from my hand, core and all.
“Tastes fine to me. You need to decide whether you can’t eat them, or won’t eat them.” He turned back toward the spring and left me.
I took a tiny bite as far from the worm as possible. It tasted like cantaloupe. He told me some things are different here. I nibbled deeper but discarded it before reaching the worm. Hunger got the better of me, so I scrambled back up. There were almost no fruits with a bite available, but from up here other trees were visible.
I made my way to the next tree. A pig the size of a St. Bernard fed on the rotten fruit around the trunk. He was almost a mossy green color. He looked at me and growled, like a dog. He definitely wasn’t the same as normal pigs.
He charged. I ran. At the third tree, I climbed beyond his reach. He watched and growled. I pelted him with rotten fruit until he left. This tree offered a better selection, and a few bites here and there would allow me to survive. I surveyed a route back to camp that would take me away from anymore pig trees, but took some of the best looking fruit with me.
The yak looked approvingly at my fruit, and I told him about the pig thing.
“Pigs can be very possessive of their feeding grounds. This world has dangers, like any other. You must keep your wits about you.”
“I’d like to roast him for dinner.”
“Humans eat them sometimes, but to do so you must kill him and have a fire. Let’s take this in small steps.” He looked toward the saddle. “Retrieve the pack and bring it here.” He burped up another wad of grass and went back to chewing.
I brought the pack and unrolled it. It held a bunch of worthless-looking junk.
“Take the curved piece of metal, wrap it around your paw.”
It fit like brass knuckles. I punched my other hand and smiled. “Great if we’re ever in a bar fight.”
“You are an idiot. Strike it against your rock.”
When I chipped it against the rock, sparks flew off.
“You needed water and we found a spring. You needed food, and you picked the fruit. Now you need a fire. Best hurry, it will be too cold for you tonight.”
I grabbed a piece of juniper wood and showered it with sparks.
“That will never work. The steel can only start the tiniest of fires. You will need to nurture it into the fire you want. Start with dried grass, or something even finer if you can find it.”
I grabbed a clump of grass and ground it to a powder between my palms. I put the powder inside another clump of grass and showered it with sparks. It smoldered and went out.
“You have to nurture it. A tiny bit of air will help, then add a tiny stick. A fire of tiny sticks can take a larger stick. Build it up until you have the fire you want.”
I followed the instructions and gathered everything before trying again. It took nearly two hours, but I had a tiny campfire.
The yak swallowed his cud. “It will get cold tonight. To keep the fire alive will take a mountain of wood. Gather a pile at least as large as I am.”
I spent another hour gathering wood and keeping my fire alive. By the time I finished, I appreciated its warmth.
“It takes time to address your needs. After they are accomplished, you can address your wants. There is soap in the pack and a small pool below the spring. You should rinse out your clothes and let the sun dry them while it’s still available.”
The water wasn’t really cold, but it bit where it touched my sunburned skin. Blood washed out of my shirt for a long time, and I didn’t stop scrubbing until the water wrung out clear. I hung my clothes over branches where the sun could work on them and returned to the fire wearing only my boots.
“You should put the soap away.”
“That kind of thing is why I never call my mother. I’ll get it later.”
The yak burped up another wad and started chewing. “I certainly don’t want to sound like your mother.” His jaw made a few more revolutions before he added, “Right now, you are like a spark. We want you to become like the fire. It will take time and nurturing. You learned to dedicate time to your needs, then you addressed your wants.”
“I think you were the one who wanted me to wash up.”
“That is true. You stunk like a dead thing.”
I hope you enjoyed reading about Yak Guy learning some of the basics. This is a harsh environment, and lessons like eating or not, matter. So do basics like the ability to make a fire. Yak Guy and the yak are not buddies, this is more of a mentor/mentee relationship, and this excerpt gives some of that flavor.
I hope I’ve encouraged you to pick up a copy of The Yak Guy Project, and I’ve provided all the details of how you can do that.
Thanks for stopping by and supporting this awesome author today. You can also find out more about Craig on my ‘Accompaniments‘ page 🙂