Sunday, May 27, 2012

Quicksand - Part 11

Minty stood in the field. It was the field now, the only one where Craven Lorne ever seemed to meet her. He found as he'd learned to expect to find her, staring mindlessly into space, unaware of just about everything around her.

She looked at him as he approached. “Hello, Craven Lorne,” she said.

Craven was surprised but not alarmed. He was getting used to Minty's airy voice. “Hello, Minty,” he answered. “I thought I'd find you here.”

“Yes,” she agreed.

Craven couldn't decided if she was agreeing with his thought or its conclusion. She was so infuriatingly vague. “Quite,” he said stiffly.

“Do you kill me today, Craven Lorne?”

“As if I would tell you when.”

“Don't.” There was a change in her voice; she was almost pleading with him.
Craven wondered if she meant don't kill me or don't tell me when you're going to. With Minty, it was impossible to be sure.

He stared at her. She stared back.

“You do not wish to,” Minty said.

“Not really, no,” Craven admitted. “Well, not that. It's not that I don't want to kill you; I do. And I intend to. But—” He looked around the field, at the blue sky, at the big, shade tree in the distance and let out a long sigh. “But I shall be sorry to see you go.”

“You should kill me now,” she told him. “Fast, like a Band-aid.”


Minty turned her head on its side. “It will hurt less,” she explained.

Craven Lorne sneered at her. “Why would I want to hurt you less?”

“Not me.”

Craven determined that the best thing he could do with that final piece of conversation was ignore it. “I will kill you,” he told her. “But not today. A little bird tells me you have some powerful friends.”

She didn't answer him.

“Rumour has it that Daisy Chain came to your rescue quite recently – and I imagine that Charm-Charm wasn't far away. The same bird tells me they're not far from here. The rumour is that the rabbits are launching a full-scale military campaign against raiders, that they're even getting humans involved.”

Minty didn't answer and Craven took her silence as acquiescence.

“They're probably lurking in the bushes right now, waiting for me to make a move. Of course, I won't give them the satisfaction.”

Minty stared. The only sound in the stale air was the whirring of her eye. After a moment, she said, “No.”

Craven, again unsure what she meant, ignored her. “But rest assured, when they're not around, when your bodyguards have abandoned you, I will be there and I will catch you out.”

Craven was tired of being the one left standing in the field. He turned on his heel and marched into the forest, sure that Minty was watching him go and not daring to look back to confirm it.

 If you enjoyed reading this, stop by next week for another instalment. You may also like my published novel, Aigaion Girl ... a story of the end of days, available here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Quicksand - Part 10

In a darkened purple forest, a possum in a bowler hat lit a paper cigarette and waited.

Darren didn't like this, not at all. He'd always known his boss was crazy, but this, pitting him against the monster, leaving him alone in the forest with Frisco—it meant Darren was a redshirt, disposable. There was no other explanation. He was completely exposed, on the edge of a big, treeless circle, clearly visible anyone who might come by. On nights like this, he wished he'd never become a raider.

“How does he even know she'll come this way?” Darren muttered to himself.

Frisco seeped out of the shadows and pushed his face next to Darren's. “Shut up,” he told Darren. “You just do what you're supposed to do.” Darren didn't even have time to shudder before Frisco had gone again.

What he was supposed to do was wait in plain sight and let the monster get close. Very close. Then he was supposed to pick up the bat that was leaning beside the tree behind him and crack her over the head with it – and hope that that was enough to keep her down. He'd heard rumours that she could burn people at a distance with her laser eye and he wholeheartedly believed them to be true. Craven Lorne had said she'd been beautiful, once. That, Darren had trouble believing.

At length, the monster came. Even with Darren's night vision, his first view of her was just a light, a floating green orb that seemed to dodge erratically among the trees. By the time she stepped into the circle and her face was fully visible, Darren had felt himself freeze. His hands were clenched so hard he didn't think he would be able to pick up the bat. Every part of him wanted to play dead.

Darren couldn't see Frisco, or hear him, but he could picture him, skulking around in the dark, getting ready to attack, taking meticulous mental notes about every movement, every sigh, every hesitation that Darren made.

The monster saw him. There was no escaping it now. Darren reached behind him and groped around for the bat. As his hand wrapped around the handle, he heard a woman's voice, tired and sarcastic, asking if she was there yet, then perking up slightly and saying, “Hey, see that light? I think that's Minty.”

Minty tilted her head, slightly, regarded Darren, then continued her jerky walk toward him and the voices behind him.

Darren relaxed. He couldn't attack her now. Clearly she had friends around and he had no idea how many. He couldn't risk it. There was nothing he could do, and no one could blame him for biding his time. For a second, relief poured over him.

Frisco poured out of the darkness, and rushed toward Minty. He grabbed her arm with his long, thin fingers and squeezed so heard that the porcelain seemed about to fracture. Minty turned her head and looked at him, her eye whirring continuously as it tried to focus.

“The things we'll do to you,” Frisco said, smilingly. “Oh, you can't even imagine.”

“Let her go.” That voice, Darren thought he could almost recognize. There was a rabbit – Darren had seen him a couple of times from a distance and heard him shout a word or two. He was obsessed with killing raiders. As if it was his personal mission.

Frisco wrenched on Minty's arm and Darren thought he heard something crack. Darren hoped, for a split second, that the rabbit would kill Frisco, that the monster would escape and he could go back to the boss and say that it hadn't been his fault – or better yet, he could just quietly disappear and everyone would think he'd been killed too. But, he realized, if Frisco was dead, there would be nothing to stop the rabbit from coming after him next.

“I said—” said the rabbit.

There was a twang and something rushed past Darren's head, passed through Frisco's arm and stuck in a tree.
Frisco screamed. Darren could just make out that the something had been an arrow. Frisco had had to melt his arm to avoid being hit and the monster had used the opportunity to run away.

Minty reached Daisy Chain and his human almost instantly and the three of them ran, for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, they reached a cornfield with pale gold stalks taller than Daisy Chain and a royal blue sky.

“Come on,” Daisy Chain said, nodding toward the field.
His human sighed, and started to walk, but hesitated when she noticed that the others hadn't joined her.

Daisy Chain was waiting for Minty. “Come on,” he repeated. “You'll be safer with us.”

Minty stared.

“Come with us,” said the human, even though the invitation clearly caused her pain to give. “Really.”

Minty turned and ran, along the edge of the forest, then veered sharply and disappeared into the tall stalks of corn.

 If you enjoyed reading this, stop by next week for another instalment. You may also like my published novel, Aigaion Girl ... a story of the end of days, available here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rules of Writing Question

When information becomes free and universally accessible, voluminous research for a novel is devalued along with it.

True?  False? Discuss.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Quicksand - Part 9

Voss was perfect. Not in a schoolgirl fantasy kind of way; he didn't seem perfect despite manifold imperfections. He was, objectively – mathematically, even – perfect. He was slender, svelte but not skinny; tall, taller than average but not a giant; his features were exactly symmetrical and the mask he wore to protect his sublime, even-toned skin, he had beautifully crafted himself. His voice was melodic, his words lyrical and intelligent. He was self-aware and he didn't suffer from false modesty.

... and in a moment, when his palms had stopped sweating and his mouth was less dry, Craven Lorne was going to tell him all of this. That day, Craven had decided, would be the day.

“It's a beautiful day,” Craven began tentatively. “Don't you agree?” It was a way to test the waters, as it were. One of the side effects of a highly sensitive and intelligent mind like Voss's was that his moods weren't always predictable to the layman – and Craven Lorne wanted to make sure he was in a perfect state of mind to receive his attentions.

Voss never spoke without thinking, and he surveyed the area slowly, examining the hot, sunny field from the safety of their spot beneath the tree. “Yes, beautiful,” he said. He chuckled sweetly. “I'm glad you suggested this, Craven.”

Craven Lorne swallowed. “Yes,” he said. “I'm glad you agreed to join me.”

Voss chuckled again. “Why wouldn't I? What could be better than spending the day here?”
Nothing, Craven thought. He meant to think it. He had the sudden and horrible realization that he'd said it out loud at the precise moment that Voss asked him to repeat himself.
Now. It had to be now. Craven knew that if he didn't take the chance, didn't say right then what had been on his mind for so long, the opportunity would pass him by. “Voss,” he said, finding his voice, “I've something I need to tell you.”

Voss sat up a little straighter. “So tell me,” he said. He looked interested, ready to listen and accept. Focused. He smiled. “Hold that thought.”

Craven Lorne was holding it – and he could almost see it slipping through his fingers as he followed Voss's gaze to the rabbit girl absentmindedly flouncing through the field.

“Beautiful, isn't she?” Voss said, leaning a little further forward. “Spectacular.” He leaned back against the tree and sighed contentedly.
Spectacular was pushing it a bit far. She was certainly a feat of engineering, but that was about it – though Craven did have to admit, if only to himself, that beautiful was a fairly accurate description. She was pleasantly shaped, which from that far across the field, had to be the first thing he noticed. She was wearing a flowing white dress which was, considerately, slightly too large to stay up properly on its own. In one alabaster hand, she twirled a small purple flower by its stem.

But, beautiful or not, she was intruding on something pure, something precious that he had been trying to achieve for a long, long time. He wished she would go back to wherever she'd come from and stay there.

She came to a slow stop and turned her head, almost as if she'd could hear them – but there was no way that she could, not from so far away. She smiled shyly, looked at her feet and back at them, then looked back to her feet and continued on her walk.

“Don't you think so?” Voss asked, snapping Craven Lorne back to the conversation.

“She's certainly passable,” Craven said impatiently. “If that's the type of thing you enjoy.”

“Not yet, but it will be,” Voss said, with a sharp laugh.

Craven tried to laugh with him, but nothing came out.

“I think I'll be enjoying it very soon, in fact. You mark my words, Craven Lorne, I will have that rabbit girl.”

Craven had no doubt that Voss was right. He couldn't imagine that, given the chance, the rabbit girl would hesitate for even a second before jumping into Voss's bed; he couldn't dream of anyone who would.

Craven Lorne watched the rabbit girl as she skipped through the field and disappeared behind a large green hedge, oblivious to the world around her and the pain that she caused.

 If you enjoyed reading this, stop by next week for another instalment. You may also like my published novel, Aigaion Girl ... a story of the end of days, available here.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Quicker Quicksand


I'm nearly 29,000 words into Quicksand, 7/800 of those written today while I was home from my day job with a bad case of having no voice (this being the result of having almost no voice yesterday and still having to talk on the phone for 9 hours).  I finished the second-to-last scene in the first story (of which there are three) - the one you've been reading with Craven Lorne, Minty and the gang - and now have only five planned scenes left to write for the whole of the book.

Then of course, I need to edit.  That's a whole other kettle of fish.

I'm toying with the idea of starting a Kickstarter campaign to publish it once it's finished.  That is, to get it professionally copy-edited, host a small launch party and send out a few review copies, since I'll likely do the cover design and internal layout myself. 

I'm a bit surprised that this one has taken me longer than it took me to finish Aigaion Girl, especially because I don't foresee it totalling much more than 35,000 words, which means it will be a novella, even with three separate story lines.  But there you go.  I suppose your priorities change as you get older, and sleep has definitely crept up on my list a bit in the last year or so.

I think that's all for my updates for the moment.  I should have more to follow soon.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Quicksand - Part 8

You like Dust.”

Craven Lorne couldn't be sure if it was a question or a statement and asking Minty for clarification rarely yielded any useful result. “Yes, of course I do,” he agreed – or answered, he couldn't be sure. “Who doesn't?”

She regarded him with her signature head-tilt. “I don't.”

Craven Lorne narrowed his eyes at her. “Really? I find that hard to believe.”

She didn't answer him.

“So, are you a teetotaller, then?” He laughed what he hoped was cruelly. “You've never tried Dust?”

“Tried. No.”

To Craven's mind, the conversation had already been going on too long. There was something about that field. It was usually so deserted, so stiflingly hot, so devoid of all life except for plant and insect – humans or no, it made him almost too tired to taunt Minty, too lethargic to think about torture. It wasn't like that now. There was a slight breeze, a change in the air, and the pleasantness of the afternoon made him disappointingly unwilling to argue or annoy.

Even putting aside Craven's schemes regarding Minty's downfall, she was not his ideal conversational companion; he was made uncomfortable by their joint attempts at small talk and became even more so when their dialogue turned serious.

There was something so judgemental about her electric green eye and unwavering stare, like she was always sizing him up, like she was some kind of divinity, in charge of his fate and trying to determine how best to punish him.

He deserved punishment. He knew that. He had made some bad choices in his life, gone down some wrong paths – but so what? Everyone had. It wasn't as if he was the only raider in Nod. It was practically the only viable profession anymore. That wasn't his fault. Craven Lorne had not introduced the human race to the printing press, he hadn't given them reality TV. He hadn't provided them with Fox News and the Internet. He hadn't told them to keep breeding until there were over seven billion of them, constantly dreaming, continuously pouring their misconceptions and misinformation into his world, making his life harder. No, they had done it all to themselves. And the wars it had caused, the civil unrest, that wasn't his fault either. So yes, the world had turned ugly. People did what they had to to get by – no one could blame them for that.

“It's not as if I enjoy it,” he told Minty.


Craven Lorne stared at her. The stupid, broken rabbit doll. She had no idea what she did to him.

 If you enjoyed reading this, stop by next week for another instalment. You may also like my published novel, Aigaion Girl ... a story of the end of days, available here.