Monday, July 29, 2013

Surface Blip

Hi there!

As expected, work and personal obligations have been keeping me mighty busy lately!  So I haven't had time to push revisions forward as much as I'd like, though progress is being made!

In the meantime, I've got this first draft manuscript.  It's got a long way to go in terms of polish and structural revisions, but I hate to see it languish all unloved on my hard drive while I work on making my schedule more manageable.

I don't know, this is probably dumb.  Who ever heard of a writer that lets everyone read their first draft?  That's the awful draft, isn't it?  The one nobody's supposed to see.

But as a designer, I try not to be afraid of failure.  Failure is how we make progress - it is the only way to become better.  And there's a certain heft to seeing a such a thing in all its ungainly glory.  A blog site doesn't look like a novel.  A novel looks like a novel.  Right?

So, here's a link to that first draft, all 500 freaking pages of it.  If you want to read it, I'd be most obliged.  If you want to provide opinions and feedback, that'd be even better.  Like I said, there's plenty I intend to rework, but I'm sure your wisdom and insight would benefit me even at this stage.

Ehaema - Alpha Draft

And while I'm at it, here's a link to that short interactive fiction I put together over a weekend:

Cyclic Dream

Download, and use your browser to play it.

Back to work for me, but I'm keeping an eye on the place, never fear.  See you around - and don't be a stranger, stranger.


Eidolon

(Edit 8/25:  Okay, I think everyone that wanted to see this has probably grabbed it.  Now that I'm getting into editing things, I'm going to go ahead and take this link down.  As always, if you want to read it, you can just visit the February 29th entry on this blog and read forward from there.  Meanwhile I'll just be over here, typing.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

One Step At A Time

An ant carries a one millimetre square microchip in its mandibles, illustrating the work that is being done in nanotechnology.

Source:  Reuters

 

On the Death Rituals of Ants

 

The Order of the Good Death never fails to brighten my day.  I may try and work in a reference to oleic acid on my revision pass.  

 

I'm enjoying working with Scrivener.  The book is now divided into greater sections and chapters, and I'll be working on summarizing each of them using the index card tool so I can get a better visual sense of flow and pacing for each of the storylines.  It'll also generate a version in e-reader format (or any of several other choices) when it's that time.   

Sunday, June 09, 2013

STATION IDENT 060913

Source:  Bryan Calloway

Projects for today:

Top Priority

  • Import novel into Scrivener, chop into chapters, improve structure.  (in-progress)
  • Push-ups, sit-ups, nourishment, wash gym clothes.  Maintain the Machine. 
  • Hyperventilate about things, alternate brooding with existential terror, 10 reps each

2nd Priority

  • Write up first impressions of Remember Me; post blog to Dtoid.  
  • Fix bugs in Cyclic Dream, add variant endings, make it nicer.
  • Notes for next novel concept
  • Research grad schools as a pacifying escape fantasy, ponder life choices
  • Jump around to angry music
  • Plug in the Ouya I got in the mail on Friday, investigate

3rd Priority

  • Sleep
  • Can't sleep; clowns will eat me


Sunday, May 26, 2013

STATION IDENT 052613


Excellent HDR Photography - HDR Architecture Wallpapers  - HDR Architecture Photos - Airport  Space29
Source

Hi there.  How are you?

Just dropping a line to let you know I"m still lurking.  And still writing.  I didn't forget about you!  But it has been terrifically busy.

I have a short story - two, actually! - being published in a cool zine format which I'll let you know more about as soon as it breaks.

I've been putting some effort into doing a little world-building for a work project.

And - I made a game!  Okay, well really I've only spent today on it.  I'm practicing in twine.  This is my very first interactive fiction creation!

It's nothing special - mostly I'm teaching myself to operate and understand the logic behind conditional branching pathways, and seeing what I can accomplish with that.  It's got too much complicated crap in it for a beginner project, and I think the next one I do will be simpler.  Also, it could use some pictures and music to jazz it up!  But it was fun, and I learned a lot!

There are some rough edges and I may have missed a few bugs, but it seems reasonably stable.  Have a look and tell me what you think when you get a chance.  Pitch me an idea for another one, if you like!


Play Cyclic Dream

Oh, here's a soundtrack for it, if you like that sort of thing.  Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

STATION IDENT 032713



From the updates to Kim Boekbinder's SPACE! album project:

"Chorus consists of brief, rising-frequency tones that sound like the chorus of birds singing at sunrise, hence the name "chorus" or "dawn chorus". Chorus at Earth is generated by electrons in Earth's Van Allen radiation belts. Once generated, the chorus waves affect the motions of the electrons through a process called a wave-particle interaction. Wave-particle interactions disturb the trajectories of the radiation belt electrons and cause the electrons to hit the upper atmosphere." - Donald A. Gurnett/U/Iowa.

Every day the sky is singing electromagnetic songs to you.  No one knows why.  

Would you consider that to be trivial knowledge, or significant? 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

STATION IDENT 032013


Source:  Fiction-66


Well!  So ends the tale.  It didn't set out to be a novel, but we so rarely set out to be the things we eventually become.

Did you like it?  I did!  I mean, let me be clear - already there are a hundred-hundred things I want to fix on the 2nd draft, and even paging back through entries now I get a little nauseous and upset with things, but I had a lot of fun writing it.  More than fun; the exercise of writing a novel helped me get through some bleak moments this year.  There were times when it was the only creative activity that I was happy with.  Knowing that I was making progress made me feel better about everything else in life.

And I like what it became, warts and all.  So much so that, even though the 2nd draft will most certainly incur  a good deal of revision - I'm resisting the impulse to break it down to what other stories are. Clear victory over adversity, 3 act structure, all of that sort of thing which you know you've seen a hundred times before.  This doesn't need to be that kind of creature.  It grew up the way it wanted to.  I'll clip some of the excessive wording, and maybe shuffle the order of events a little, but overall I want to enhance its rough edges, not sand them off.  Confusing and contradictory perhaps, but a unique thing - that's the future I envision for it.

Needs a title still, and maybe a few other bells and whistles, but all that's still to come.  I promised to put it to bed for at least a couple months, and I'm sticking to that.

But what of the blog?  What of daily updates, what of Station Idents, what does the future hold?

I promise to check in and drop some thoughts regularly.  It'll be a bit quieter for a while - I need to regain some energy.  When I do swing into editing pass number one, I was thinking maybe I'd post about what I'm doing and why.  Again, not because I want anyone to use it as an example necessarily - just to show you the process.  I love it when my favorite writers post scripts, notes on the context of a scene, where they were in life when they wrote it, why they decided to structure their creations in a certain way.  So hopefully I can do the same, on the off chance that someone out there might benefit just by seeing what it is that goes on behind the wizard's curtain.

And eventually, there will be more writing.  A New Thing, this is guaranteed.  So go get some air, visit some new sites, think some things.  Create.  We'll be here when you get back.

This was merely a beginning.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Always

The sky was always the bluest blue.  

From time to time, feathery grey clouds would skip through the high air - just a few, like ripples from a toe stuck tentatively into the mirror-clear surface of a fathomless crystalline pond.  But it never quite reached the null grey state that had so often been marked the endless day of One’s previous trek through the Windswept World.  

He mostly slept out in the open, though from time to time he would visit the little hut that Base lived in. He had found the monk there, alone and staring vacantly, and had helped coach him back to mental health.  It was a journey the monk could probably have made on his own, as he had so many times before, but One had grown to enjoy having company.  The spider-gliders were no more, but when occasional spider colonies made themselves known in distant fields, One hunted them down ruthlessly, and Base learned to do the same.

One told the Base the story of how they’d met, but while his companion enjoyed the tale, he had no memory of the experience, not the Garden of Memory nor the Sunless Village nor any of it.  At odd moments, a shadow would cross his features, and he would turn to face in the direction of the trench that led down to the Blood Lake, but he did not know why, and One chose not to raise spectres of a bygone day.

Instead, he told stories.  

At first they were simply recountings of his adventures across the fabric of Time.  The monk, who had no particular memories of his own, delighted in these tales and contributed surprising insights as they sat around their campfire at night, smoking blue fungus wrapped in dried blades of grass.  Eventually One began to embellish his stories, and soon to create new tales, an art in which the monk participated and at which he soon grew surprisingly adept.  

Sometimes they would go fishing, taking woven lines and casting them into the invisible pools of deep grass that dotted the landscape.  They only rarely caught anything, but the things they did catch were surpassing strange, dreams of creatures with many legs, or no eyes, or the wings of moths where their feet should be.  Some dreams passed out of being within a span of days, while others grew wings and flew, or came home with them to grow large and strong.  In the days to come, some of those dreams would take on their own names and personalities, and later began to roam the Fields of Study on their own adventures, seeing doors and clues, pieces to a riddle that has no beginning or ending, answers to a question that is everywhere, and meaningless, and also the only thing worth seeking.  

So the dream shepherds whiled away the seasons and aeons which passed like so many falling leaves upon a dragon’s breath, dreaming until dreams turned into doing, laughing until laughter turned into learning, sometimes simply being and breathing, until the shining verges of the Shimmering Path began to edge their way into visibility once again.

But that is a story for another day.

-fin
___

9:27 PM, 3/3/2013
KB

Friday, March 15, 2013

It Just Was

“You’re not going down there to say hi?”

“Ah, I see these guys every day,” said Rey, waving a hand dismissively as he sat with Halliday in the lighting booth.  On the floor below, he could see Kris and Anna, Kalli and Alex and Heck all getting their groove on.  “Besides, I ain’t doing much dancing with this here.”  

Halliday raised an eyebrow, tapped on her phone, and flashed the illumination of its screen on Rey’s pant leg. There was a ragged hole from where the crossbow bolt had punched all the way through the door of his car and sunk an inch or more into his left thigh. It wasn’t bleeding heavily, but it was bleeding steadily.

“You’re going to go get that taken care of right now, okay?”  She waved away his protestations and objections, and handed him a card.  “Look, as soon as it hits 8 AM, go to this urgent care at this address and ask for this guy, all right?  He’ll take care of you.  He owes me a favor.”

“Girl, how many people owe you favors?”


“Everybody,” she replied with a cute and insufferably self-satisfied smile.

“Except me,” he corrected.  

“But of course, monsieur,” she said, pulling a roll of bills out of her pocket and peeling off several large ones for Rey.  “Oh, hey, I didn’t mean right n--” he began, but he faltered as he she silenced him with a look, and then elevated his temperature further by reaching over to tuck them firmly down into his hip pocket.  “There and square.  I’ll get Heck later.’

Recovering admirably, the ninja said simply, “I ain’t complaining, but what was it about this lighting program that was so important you couldn’t have just made a different one for tonight?”

Halliday let her gaze travel for a moment.  From his position on top of the speaker stacks, Drew flashed her a thumbs-up and a grin.  She shot a mock-salute at him, a collaborator in phantasm, and nodded at the DJ.  Vanya was inexplicably inside as well (no bouncer should have let him into, well, anywhere really, ever), peacefully catatonic on the ground near Drew, staring up at the lightshow with a child’s expression of wonderment.

Not too far away from the crowd, a strangely familiar shape was crossing the floor.  She caught a flash of ash-blond hair, and the gleam of one shockingly deep blue eye met hers for just a moment through the booth window.  Then the shape was gone.  

“It just was,” Erika murmured finally.

“Well, at these rates, if you got anything else needs doing, you let me know.”

She raised an eyebrow and smirked at him.  The young man flushed slightly but held her gaze and his ground, and she nodded in approval, as though it had been a test.

“First, get yourself cleaned up.  What I’m-a do with a gimpy ninja?  After that, we’ll see.  You a traveling man?”

Rey was watching Alex and Kalli make out on the floor, to the general admiration of the crowd at large.  “Yeah .  I’m down to go places,” he said, keeping his voice carefully neutral.  “Anyway, whatcha got in mind?  Like, out to the coast?”

“Like, how do you feel about the Bay Area?”

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Wonderful Dream

“Home.  I would like to go home, just for a while,” sighed the dauntless soldier.  

“At once, and for as long as you like, dear One,” smiled Lane.  She held out her hand, and One, shrinking rapidly as he did so, stepped on to the surface of her palm.  There was a winking flash of pure contentment that radiated palpably out through the transforming cavern, warming his Queen to her core.  Then he simply vanished.

The final shreds of rock and methane deconstructed into nothing.  Now there was a console, and a slowly growing array of shining motes.  On the horizon was a pale light, cast by the fires of an extinguished city too beautiful to be envisioned in its entirety by mortal minds.  And stretching from her feet out into the distance was a path that still echoed with the footfalls of one whose left wonder and woe behind him each time he skipped from one era of existence to the next.  

“I had a dream, a wonderful dream,” purred the knife sleepily when she laid her fingers upon it. Its voice was grinding gears over viscous oil, blood and rust and the harsh cold mineral reality of asteroids in space.  The vicious metal creature conjured blissful pictures of being a mechanical god, of ordering all life in the universe under the crushing heel of a sharp and rational scientific authority - a bloody benevolent dictatorship that gave birth to an age of pure mathematical existence.  A golden era of abstraction.  A machine dream.  She nodded thoughtfully and stroked the knife until it once more fell asleep.

It didn’t take very long at all for Lane to rearrange the space to her liking.  She hung a window over the view of the Last City, and then drew shut the curtains over it.  She ran a subroutine that caused all the motes to look like television monitors from the 20th century.  She added some lounge furniture to the place.  And between these projects, she continued to research the name Freeman within the Lattice, combing eternity for the answer to a question she was not yet sure how to phrase.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Stranger and More Beautiful

There was a ringing clatter; the noise caused One and Elan to dip back into the world (or plane, or mode) of the Hollow Earth.  

The world was dimming, becoming less concrete in the way that a lucid dream does in the moments before waking.  Elan paused, realizing that she could see the contents of her small containment on the ground, nearly underfoot.  

“Was I so small?” she wondered aloud, picking through the fragments with her fingers.  

“It was only a piece of you, and a piece that felt powerless.  Perhaps that is why your self-representation was small,” offered One.  

She found the labeled pieces of the canister; the word “E-L-A-N” was broken immediately after the “E.”  She pursued her lips and, without knowing why, swapped the order of the two pieces.

“Lane,” read the myrmidon.  

“It’s missing something,” said his companion, “But it’s a start.  A fitter name for one who’s of a mind to start a journey.”  

In the center of the cavern, the enormous, alien, fleshy mass had disappeared, and the canyon was sealed closed somehow.  Around them, the walls were disappearing, thinning out into blank and empty space.

Avernus was gone as well.  The remnants of his mechanized frame were clustered on the ground, stitching themselves together into a new shape - the shape of some kind of informational console.  

Sitting on the ground nearby was a carbon-steel combat knife.  Elan -- Lane -- picked it up after a moment’s consideration.  It pulsed warmly to the touch, but if it contained many dark secrets, it revealed none of them to her on first glance.  She ripped a length of fabric off of one of her sleeves, wrapped the blade, and tucked the dark weapon into her waistband.

“Where would you like to go, One?  My hero,” she amended, beaming at the creature who now was standing near the console, brushing his fingertips along its forming surfaces.  With each movement of his digits, new glimmers appeared and began to hover in the air around him.  Some looked like remnants of the dancing bones from a certain angle, or cousins to the distant stars.  The longer one looked, the stranger and more beautiful they became.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Damn Good Question

The door refused to move.

She let loose a string of expletives and ringing kicks before realizing that the door had a pushbar.  Yelling “Jesus fucking Christ!!” in exasperation more than anything else, a devil-horned Anna finally threw the door open wide, knocking some hapless partier out of the way, and stopped short.

Standing directly in front of the door, a few feet away, was a tiny Jesus Christ on a crucifix, stuck upright into a crack in the asphalt, merrily burning away.  
Oh shit.  It’s Jesus, she thought.

A moment later, Did I just curse god into flames?  I’m really going to hell.  Holy shit.  Goddammit, that was probably another demerit.  Jesus, why can I not stop fucking swearing in my head?  This is so bad.  I’m going to get murdered by this girl gang and literally go to hell.  What a stupid way to die.  That is the last time I let Erika talk me into...

And then the hapless partier swung her around and it was Kris.

“What the-- where have you---?”

“I take my eyes off you for one day and already you’re out here stealing souls and causing trouble.  Honestly, you’re a handful, you know,” he grinned, pulling her gently to the side and wrapping her into a hug.  After her brain finished doing the equivalent of a 10-car pileup on the freeway, Anna returned the hug fiercely.   

“Why do you smell like lighter fluid?” she mumbled half into his shoulder without reliquishing her hold.

“That’s a damn good question,” he replied.  “Why are you the devil?”

“Um, there’s--” she began.

A moment later, three girls burst through the door right behind her.  They stopped short in front of the tiny burning Jesus, dumbfounded, until a snicker drew their attention.  Leaning against a dumpster was a gypsy in a battered military jacket with a manic gleam in his eye.  In one fingerless-gloved hand he flicked a lighter once, twice.


“Who the fuck are you?”  asked the girl in the lead, pointing a carbon-steel knife in his direction.  The Martyr smiled weirdly, cheeks full and puffed out and lips puckered, with a trickle of the Chalice’s glory trickling down his chin.  He looked like one of hell’s own imps at that moment, and the girls had just enough time to memorize his expression before he flicked the lighter one more time and called down the breath of the dragon upon them.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Walker of Worlds

“So I was too late,” observed One.

“No!  No, it was you, you and Kris who saved me at the end.”  Elan flung her arms around his midsection, briefly but urgently.  “I heard you on the other side of the doorway, and I saw Kris in the Hollow Earth with me.  The both of you helped remind me of who I was, of how to be that person again.  You saved my life.  I wouldn’t be standing here now without you.”

The myrmidon twitched his antennae in embarrassment.

Kris reached forward, rapped his knuckles against the inside of the containment cylinder.  He was conscious of the need to breathe, but something was closing his throat, fixing his lips in place.  At the fringes of his consciousness, pale lights bloomed, and there was the sound of a musical loop, a melody he could not quite identify.

“Kris.”  One’s face did not contain the tissue necessary for smiling, but Kris thought he could see the expression nonetheless.  “When I sent you away, I thought I was helping you.  I did not realize that, in turn, you would come to help us as well.  Remember me well, and remember the language of the land beneath the Moon, little daemon.  We shall meet again.”

Kris struggled to reply, but his sight was growing dim.  There was no air.  

And then there was Elan, no longer a creature in miniature, with her eyes of cobalt, regarding him warmly.  She gestured, and vanished, and before him now there was a simple door.

“Fear is no longer your my prison, nor yours, Kris.  Walker of worlds.  Remember this.  Remember us.”

He felt something in the pit of his stomach, something under his heart, loosen and give way like a rotted pillar or an infected tooth.  All of a sudden, he felt and saw everything that had happened in the past - day?  Hour?  Eternity?  break loose and wash free with a sensation of cool release.  

There would still be fear, sometimes.  But the moments would always pass, changing as he changed, as his context shifted, as he learned and grew.  There was a rhythm to fear, a rhythm to life, like the beating of a dark heart under the world.  Endless, and frightening, and sometimes strangely reassuring.

He reached towards his chest and grabbed hold of something, something cold, something that had give in it, like a cable or cord, and he pulled.  Pulled until the resistance weakened, until there was a rush of pain around his face, until he was retching up mechanical fragments of things that had been buried deep inside him for years, until burning cool liquid (the key, the smell of the key) rushed down his throat and burned ice and fire into new shapes within.

Elan’s final whisper caused him to laugh, caused him to choke.

“Breathe.”

He fumbled towards the door handle.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

STATION IDENT 031013


Source: Christopher Frank Beitz

And just as I'm saying goodbye to Draft 1, I find out that some dear friends of mine are moving and I have to say goodbye to them as well.  This, as the French say, sucks.  ;)  But this is the way of stories and the way of life.  Paths diverge and reconnect.  That's part of how they work, and they are often all the better for having done so.

All my tribe are nomads.


On the plus side, the week has also brought a small tide of treasures - gorgeous concept art for a game project I'm working on, good news, lovely scotch, nice food, and excellent company.

And now, I have to start brainstorming on a short story - this time for a 'zine.  I'll keep you posted about that, as soon as I know more.

Friday, March 08, 2013

You Made It

... the dancers.  As they really were.

Orphans of potential were dancing in the rubble of the Last City, alone and together, enacting an invocation old and modern, young and ancient.

They parted, glowing from their bones, vibrating on the same celestial pitch as the audience of stars above.  In ritual space, Halliday’s light show cordoned off the dancers into nodes of meaning, and created links between them.  

They were echoes of an ancient people, who delved ever deeper in their search for unity within the hollow earth.

They were the stars in the heavens, humming songs of life and light, and of the beautiful emptiness that showed them as they were and kept them drifting apart for the duration of their long, long lives.

They were children and young adults just learning how to be, just moving to the omnipresent rhythms that would mark their pace all down the shimmering path of life, skipping to robot songs and anachronistic samples and they hypnotic visual melody of shifting colored lights.

Kris looked through a window that floated near him in the blue as One strode through the final archway onto the floor of a placeless place and knelt at the feet of his Queen, placing the ruins of a fallen sojourner at her feet.  

“You made it.  You both made it,” breathed Elan.  

She was dressed in an unfamiliar ensemble, a loosely-woven grey shirt and trousers that covered most but not all of her strange scars, and reminded Kris vaguely the Matrix.  Maybe she wasn’t even wearing that at all; perhaps his Hollywood-addled mind simply chose to recognize and represent her newfound freedom in that way.  He didn’t know, and for the most part did not care.

The pale girl bent low to trace a line in the monk’s cheek with faltering fingertips.  One remained silent as she closed both of the fallen man’s eyes and bent low to whisper something into his ear.  They could not hear what was said, but as she whispered, the monk’s form began to shift. He became a strange collage, a composite of blurring memories. old photographs and dreams, a broken heart, a dharmic ambassador, a three chord punk refrain echoing over the New York skyline in 198X, ash in the wind, and he was gone.  

Then she stood, facing the myrmidon.

“The Mad God?” he asked.

“Alive.  But banished, regressed to the corner of my mind where he always lives.  He cannot be killed; in his way, he is as necessary to me as you are.  He is the face of Law without love, and he has his part to play.  But his time of ascendancy has passed; it will be an Age before he accumulates such strength again.”

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Exhaled A Cloud

Drew exhaled a cloud.  

He couldn’t remember when he’d stopped working.  The spaces behind his eyelids showed him a chiaroscuro of events; they had started somewhere in the middle of the afternoon and hadn’t stopped since.  He drifted through a set of doors, watching his body navigate easily through dense crowds of revelers.  He was a leaf on the wind.

The world of people was one he maintained a very tenuous relationship with.  He wandered through it gamely, until some chance event kicked up a path of associations like the one he was trapped in now.  A light changing color, a word that triggered deja vu, the smell of concrete and paint, any seemingly inconsequential event had the potential ability to stir a powerful, creational part of his soul.  When this happened, he would simply tune out and walk or find a canvas and work; the call was too powerful to ignore.  He’d been known to drop out of conversations in mid-word.  People assumed it was because he was a pothead, which was certainly true.  

However, Drew’s truth was different.  For him, the world was a running film projected onto a fragile screen - captivating and sometimes beautiful, but vulnerable to being ripped apart at the lightest pull of his mindscape.  And behind that fragile curtain were notions and visions that were a constant source of wonder.  

The paint was not so much a work he did, as a place he went.  The murals were his footsteps across the place, hands swept across windows filmed over with the dust of consensus reality so that glimmers of magic could shine through.  He rarely dwelt upon finished pieces; they were relics to him, the husked leavings of bygone beauty.    

But on this night, he found a place high up on one of the speaker stacks to perch, and he looked around at the room he’d spent the day working on.  And he saw it differently.

We are thee, whispered a chorus of synth augmented singers as the tempo accelerated.  In one corner of a painted world, an armored, four armed myrmidon rose from a broken throne, carrying a corpse towards a pair of outstretched arms beckoning from the empty space within an ancient archway.  The lights bloomed around the painter in tones of red, green, and blue as he sat rapt, motionless, straining to see...

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Time For Change

“We are false.”

The world went blue.

Kris tried to move, tried to speak, succeeded at neither.  He was hooked into an apparatus that immobilized him - a sealed tank of heavy blue liquid.  Stunned by the shift of context, he struggled to understand what he was seeing through the glass.  

Avernus’s strike had split one of the pyramidal prisons in half - the one Kris had believed himself to occupy.  But there was nothing within it; merely a husk shaped like blurry memories, which choked up a gout of spiderine shadow shapes before collapsing into something like ash.

The cancer in the heart of the world was speaking.  It was addressing Avernus.  The harbinger was confused but not hesitant; he turned and sprang back for the cliff’s edge with inhuman velocity.  But it was too late.  

Rootlike tendrils spiked out of the ceiling and floor, shattering the Iron King’s great machines, lifting the King himself as though he were no more than a fly.

The fleshy mass in the canyon’s center spoke again through many mouths.  None of them were alike in shape, volume, or register, but they were all unmistakably speaking with Elan’s voice.  “We wear many faces in this life, as we walk the path to the Last City.  The path lies in all directions; we forge its shape through the decisions we make.  This path we now stand astride, leading from me, leading to you - we are at its terminus.  But only if we will it so.  The world is vast, and it does not end here.  Nor will I.  Nor can you.  It is time for change.   

And she, the cancer at the heart of the world, the new life at the heart of the world, began to sing through many throats, and the song was one that continued always, beyond the range of hearing until brave throats picked it up again and gave it breath, as they all did once in every lifetime.  The song was magic.  The song was an incantation in the Command Language.

As it spiraled out into the air, shapes began to glow, visible inside the earth around them.  Lucent skeletons, the bones of a people who had merged with planet in a dream of earth still distant.  Avernus shrieked, and the skeletons ignored him.  Alive within rock, alive within the living tendrils of an omnipresent creature, the skeletons began to dance.

Kris knew that he should breathe, but the knowledge was distant, buried in a wonder as powerful and fundamental as bedrock.  Through the rock he could not only see the fallen dancers moving in sync with the hollow earth’s song, but the moon overhead, drawn close by the revelry of the world’s final song.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Worse Than I Thought

“He’s just up ahead.”

“Whaaaaat the fuuuuuck is this shit now?”

“I SAID -- ”

“No, man, I mean what is going on?”

“We’re following this guy because you specifically asked me -- “

“I KNOW THAT.  I know everything, motherfucker.  You’re not understanding.”

“Reliable sources inform me that I’m incredibly understanding and infinitely forgiving, so I forgive you your trespasses, Vanya.”

“What are we trespassing in?”

“I mean, I’m kind of the exact opposite of a motherfucker according to the myth, right?  So that seriously doesn’t make any sense.”

“I’m the one that doesn’t make any sense!”

“Wh-- that doesn’t -- what?”

For quite some time, Tiny Jesus and the Martyr had been traversing an urban path that was desolate and nearly abandoned, in near-total isolation except for the intermittent gazes of car headlamps and the footsteps of their not-quite-elusive quarry.  Slowly, however, the stage of night began to fill with many players.  Punk rockers, spiked and patched with tribal insignias that belonged to a bygone decade, poured beer into their selves and their selves into gutters.  Children of the future, sporting day-glo hair and latex bondage gear, huffed Vicks VapoRub and flicked menthol cigarettes.  B-boys and fly girls struck beautiful poses with unconscious grace, leaning up against streetlamps or fire hydrants, occasionally blooming into laughter and joyous dance movement.  

“It’s worse than I thought.”

“What is this guy talking about?  He is off the hinges,” commented Tiny Jesus to no one in particular.  At times the quality of his voice changed, as did its volume and orientation, but the Martyr never worried about it.

“The barriers between realities are breaking down.  And now things are slipping through the cracks.  We’re almost out of time.” He pulled the wooden idol out of his pocket and studied its serene gaze, searching.

“Hey, man.  Do you know where you are right now?” asked Tiny Jesus.

“Never,” scoffed the Martyr.  “But I got to catch up with Kris, man.  This is tied to him, I can smell it, sizzling off him like bacon, man, significance.  But we can help.  I got a plan.  I got the Chalice.  We can fix him, fix everything.”

“Okay, buddy.  Whatever you say,” replied his guide.  “Lead the way.”

“I always lead the way.  I’m a trendsetter,” said the Martyr.  “Gimme smokes.”

Monday, March 04, 2013

Are You Ready?

“Have we failed?”

The air was flat, and words fell against it like water spilled across sand.  

The world was a monochrome rush of frozen night.  In the lonely graveyard of a messenger fallen from the heavens, a massive antlike warrior sat atop a throne of rock and starborne iron.  In his lap lay a much smaller man in monk’s robes, coughing his way weakly towards an end that seemed to grow more certain with each passing second.

“I have never...” the monk began, before falling prey to a spasm of dry retching.  Gently, his guardian wiped away a few of the tiny arachnid specks that escaped the corner of his mouth with each cough.  The monk smiled a lorn smile, and continued.

“I have never made it past this point, in all of the times I have attempted it.  So if we have failed, then I have been failing for as long as I can remember.  Enough to be good at it.  If I have learned only how to do one thing well, and perhaps,” he chuckled weakly, “perhaps learned more than a touch of humility along the way, then it has been a successful failure I think.  Would you not agree?”

“Perhaps,” mused the myrmidon.  “Yet, acceptance of my limitations will not save my Queen from the worldkiller.  Nor will it bring Kris back from the realm into which he was cast.  Nor will it save you, unless we are very, very lucky.  Are you ready?”

The monk reached into his robe and withdrew two objects that looked like halves of a palm-sized egg.  The mote which One had carried back with him from the very edge of time, ruined by an avatar of Avernus hidden within the garden of memory.  Anchored thus, with half a sundered hope in each hand, the monk nodded assent. Spiders crept from his nostrils, rippled the tattooed skin of his neck.

One sighed.  “I made a vow once, never to self-replicate again.  But after all this time, I cannot tell whether we are defined by the vows we keep, or the ones we break.”  So saying, the myrmidon bent his great head low, as if in prayer, and regurgitated a translucent stream of mint-green gel directly onto the monk’s face.  The fabricated substance, a lattice of nanobots modeled on One’s original architecture, piloted their green liquid environment into the monk’s ears, nose, and throat, descending into those red wet caverns much as Base and One had descended into the darkness beneath the Windswept World, to do battle with the same creatures of nightmare.     

One held the monk while he twitched, and thrashed, and finally fell still.  After a time, the broken halves of the mote began to glow. Within each half was a shining word, and the light of those words fell upon a Smaller Daemon of Information sitting alone under a corpse upon a dead throne.  He read them, first forwards, then backwards, until the sky began to move.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

STATION IDENT 030313




And that, as they say, is that.

Still a couple of weeks worth of entries coming your way, but there's first draft, done and done.

Time for a victory whisky.

Cheers!  And thank you all so much, for reading along and watching me figure my shit out here.  There's more to come, in terms of new writing and other stuff - I intend to keep on updating this blog as I figure out what order to tackle things in.  But for now, I'm going to put my feet up for a bit and bask.


Friday, March 01, 2013

Then Help Me

"There are three."

Kris's fingers clenched and unclenched into fists as he saw, through Elan's words, the cabal of sinister shapes surrounding his sister's sleeping form.  "That's my fault.  I need to be there.  Now."

"Go then.  There's nothing left here."

"Come with me."

"I can't."

"Why?"

"This isn't a place.  This is a being.  This is me.  I can't step outside myself."

The young man agreed with his eyes, but denied with a shake of his head.  "Then help me."

And she did.  She spoke a word he could not decipher, and once again there was the shimmering network of lines and connections between things, almost exactly like the network he'd been able to perceive in ThirdCity.  Kris pulled on one thread and moved, anakata, and just like with the security cameras, sight and thought and presence became one experience.  

He was there, in the dark, and he felt the bass pump through the walls, and he felt a sickening void of self in the pit of his stomach, saw a funhouse maze of mirrors reflecting perceptions, model-thin bodies and vapid gangster fantasies and the bilious taste of speed and hunger under her tongue, and all of the mirrors were wrong, they were wrong, she needed to see herself but all of the mirrors lied, so she was forced to look for herself through other people, hate her flesh through other flesh, need and fear and the obsessive need to cut away the excess, just cut and cut and...

For just a moment, he was the serpent.  His arm was her arm, and it held a living, buzzing, angry presence, one that pulled him forward and burned and pulled with the burning.  Anna was before him, kicking, shoving, scrambling to escape.  He felt his knife arm straining forward like a wolf on a leash.  With every fiber of his being he forced ice into that grip, trying desperately to freeze that terrible hunger before it broke free from his control.  

Her grip slipped.  The knife lunged forward but at a bad angle, a swinging blow that bit flesh but missed everything vital, and then the tail of Anna's coat was disappearing through the door, and a mechanical scream shattered the scene and brought him back.  

The burning was still there, but it was no longer coming from a knife.  It came from his grip upon the Iron King's system architecture.  Through the window of his prison, he could see Avernus's sensor array projecting a baleful beam of light directly at him.  The mechanical entity struck, and there was the sound of something breaking.