Friday, July 30, 2010

Creating worlds

A curious factoid: I run roleplaying games online, often a couple of nights a week. Sometimes I throw in novel ideas to test them, but mostly they exist as their own things. However, years of creating settings that existed for mere months became tiring, so I made a promise that games, especially small one-player side games, would involve much less writing and time spent from working on novels and stories.

Despite this, I have written over 3K in notes for a side game in the past couple of days and have vague future plans involving horror and gnosticism running about in my head wanting to be written down. End result? Despite intentions, I always put more into such projects than I initially plan to.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Court

He came dressed in black, and the Court was silent when he entered. Some things are so deeply forbidden no one need ever actually forbid them; but since no one had, he continued to walk in slow, measured steps to the throne. The King sat on it, listless, unmoving: the Bishops hovering about moved quickly, buzzing about to offer advice and keep others away.

They did not stop him, because he was beneath their notice.

The Queen looked down upon him and her smile was as brittle as the paint on her face. “Why are you here?” she said in her great and terrible voice that could be felt over the whole of the kingdom.

“I bring word from the front lines,” he said.

“The Knights do that,” she said.

“The Knights are dead,” he replied, and the court was hushes for a moment.

The King roused briefly to murmur something only his wife heard.

“All of them?” the Queen snapped.


“And you, peasant; why do you come here in the colours of the enemy?”

“Black is also a colour of mourning,” he said.

“There are always more Knights; we can promote from the ranks,” she said casually.

“Not without cost,” the peasant said.

The Queen gazed down, her pale face gleaming in the light from the floor. “You have a problem, peasant?” she said, drawing up her office around her.

“The enemy slipped through our lines too easily, and left without being harmed,” he said, the words tumbling out in a spasm of guilt and desperation.

The Queen raised her pale eyebrows. “Sabotage?”

“Treason,” the peasant said. “Someone broke the laws, worked out a deal. Or was jealous,” he added, and knew himself damned.

“Jealous?” the Queen said.

“In all the land, there is only one Queen, and you are a Power of our land. You can do anything your bishops can do, even what the towers that guard the kingdom can; you see it all, but there is one thing a Queen cannot do.”

Her smile vanished, and her face was colder than winter as she stared at him.

“I am only a pawn in the games of the Court,” he said into the terrible hush that gripped the court. “But Knights can move in ways even the Queen cannot.”

“Guards,” the Queen said.

The peasant smiled then, mirthlessly. “I will not serve a kingdom whose honour has been tainted. I do not just wear the black!” he cried, and the court froze as he lunged towards the King and stabbed him once, in the heart.

For a moment, as only the peasants could, as only a pawn in the game could, he briefly was the queen and then the king, and the world fell away as the Queen screamed her rage down into the swirling void of white and black and silence that engulfed them all.

Plotting Oddities ...

I am currently ~30K into Falling To Sky (formerly titled Boy and Fox). The write, edit, submit to writing group, alter future sections based on that etc. method is proving interesting. Definitely a better story, though it takes longer to write. At present there is about 15,000 words that have been deleted, became irrelevant, or were redone entirely from scratch. Whole scenes and characters no longer exist, which is always fun.

The current oddity is that the novel now has an Antagonist of sorts for Boy, which was never intended at all. As Shing doesn't show up until this point regardless, it doesn't change what has come before, but will alter future plans enormously. At some point, Boy will realize that Shing isn't a Villain, if only because people so seldom are and I've no intention of writing a simplistic Good vs. Evil story but the main character needs to THINK the story is like that at this point in his development.

Or so I hope. Shall be interesting to see what the writing group makes of it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Horrors.... ?

According to I Write Like my current WIP is written like James Joyce. I shall go off in a corner and snuggle stuffed animals and weep now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


“Why am I here” Father Black said. “I left the order years ago.”

“You are still a priest,” a man says roughly to his left, fingers holding his arm tightly.

The bag over his head is tight, but not enough to choke: he can't see, but it isn't restrictive. It occurred to Father Black that the two men walking to either side had put bags on heads often, easily dragged people from their lives and to.... where?

“Are you with the government?” he tried.

“After our fashion,” the man on on his right says; they both sound alike.

“Why am I here?”

“A baptism is needed,” the man on his left said.

Air hisses, cool and sterile, and Faqther Black finds himself guided into a room andn brought to a halt. The hood comes off, and the man to the right tells him not to look around, says something about security, but Father Black doesn't here. He's busy staring at a silver incubator devoid of tubes, and a small figure is lying in it. Not wrapped in clothes, but naked like a doll, with skin the colour of a dead body and wide black eyes that didn't blink at all. Small, long fingers reached up towards them

“I was asked a question?” Father Black said.

“They can't talk; most of the time we get images,” the man to the right says.

“This is an alien.”

“Yes,” one of them says. Father Black doesn't hear any weapons, see any movement, but the dark eyes of the creature in the incubator grow wider.

“What – what I am supposed to do?” he asked.

“You are a priest,” the man to the left says. “We have water.”


“A baptism,” the man to the right said, without a threat of humour in his voice. “The aliens rarely produce children, but those they do must be blessed so they will not burn in hell. Baptism is a kind of exorcism, you know.”

Father Black nodded numbly and took the water from them, saying the words. The alien did nothing in return, and the water sank into that strange skin as though it were more sponge than flesh.

I'm sorry, he thought, not sure who he meant, or who he was speaking to; if the alien could hear his thoughts, it didn't react. The bag was placed on his head again and Father Black led from the room.

“Do – do you plan to wipe my memory?” he whispered.

“Who would believe you?” the one on the right says, and sounds almost sad.

Father Black said nothing else.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A first attempt at a back cover blurb

This is a story about maps, and what happens when you fall off of them. About how you lose your self to find it, the thin line between a blessing and a curse, and – like all stories ever told – about family. It's a story about dreams, what can come to pass if we lose them, and the prices we may to make them come true.

Once upon a time, perhaps tomorrow or maybe yesterday but not that long ago, a boy found his way out of the Wasting at the end (or, some said, the heart) of the spirit world, so far from the real world that the sky was devoid of even moon or sun. His name had been lost, and even the name of the person he had entered the spirit world to find, but the boy was determined to find his quest and the questions he had come seeking answers for.

There is a also a fox, because every real story has a fox in it.

Or, as I think of it, pretentious twattle. But it is something: it's hard to write any kind of blurb for this story that doesn't give it all away.

Journey's end

“I was going to call,” she says.

I speak a silence filled with unsaid words.

Her eyes flit about the room, taking everything and nothing in. The walls peel with the smell of chemical cleanings.

“I was going to say I love you,” she says brusquely. “But I thought, you already know that. Not much point in saying what you know, is there?”

I am dying, I think, or whisper, or say.

She pats my hand as though it were the paw of a dog. “I was going to talk about the weather, but it's not nice. All rain and chances of snow. It has to be above freezing to snow, you know. I read that somewhere.” And she laughs, the sound entirely devoid of a sob. “And here I am talking about it anyway.”

She reaches for the cigarettes in a pocket, drops her hand. “The doctors tell me you aren't in pain. They have you on drugs, so many drugs. You might not even know what I am saying.”

She looks at me, holding my gaze with hers; I see no tears, but a tenderness that confuses me.

“You never sent me letters; I almost didn't find you,” she says, soft, almost gentle. “But I did, and your eyes are so empty now, so very empty again.”

I want to ask how that can make her happy, what she could even mean, but my voice is a single breath, croaked, and she squeezes my hand and tells me she is here.

And somehow, despite everything, it seems right.

Thursday, July 08, 2010


I remember you, sometimes. Not as now, but when your eyes were empty, drinking in the world without conditions, watching to learn and learning to watch. That is what a mother can love, what is remembered. There was a time when you were so empty you were beautiful.

I left when you were six to return when you were sixteen. I do that to all my friends, all my family: vanish and return, to see you with new eyes. We change slowly, but we do change, and if I had stayed with you, remained with any of you, I would never have been able to see your song except to confuse it with my own.

I don't have roots, you understand: I don't want to cease changing, to be a stone ground down by the river. And I want to see you change, how you grow and become someone new, each time I visit. I can remember each you that was, and each you that is, and when I try I can love them all.

I wonder if our eyes become empty again when we die?
I would love this to be true, but love has no place in truth.

You prove that to me with your tears, and all those letters you never write. If you really missed me, you'd find a way to find me, I said, gently, and you said you were going to travel too, as if you could hurt me with words. I remember your colic-crying; nothing you say can hurt worse, and I told you that you won't find anything that you can't find here as well.

I should have told you that we only travel to lose ourselves. I should have asked you if you ever thought I had changed as well. I wonder how empty my eyes are.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


They have done this since the time when the stars were young, when the earth was fresh and new, each year one meeting, one night on the earth and together.

"It should have rained," he says, after their bodies have had their way with each other,as flesh cools and they become two people again, no longer strictly whole even with their breath enfolding each other.

She looks up, startled; they have met for so long that no words are needed. One a day, aye, but more lifetimes than the human mind can easily compass.

"The rain makes it more piquant the next time," she says. "We never talk, then."

"No." He does not ask how she is, she does not ask of his year: they are here, and nothing else has any meaning before that.

"We could," she offers. "Only not politics," with a smile at some private joke he does not know.

For a moment he is angry with himself, and then with her, but he lets it pass. "I meant the magpies," he says roughly. "The rain would have washed away the oil from their wings."

She looks surprised at that, then looks at the bridge with fresh eyes. One hand rises to her mouth, reminding him of when he first saw her, but her eyes have ages and lifetimes in them now, and her hand lowers as she smiles sadly.

"I would have come anyway," she says. "I could not call this day off."

"Do you live for any other days?" he says, half-dreading her reply.

She just looks at the birds dying for them and says nothing.

He holds her tightly for a moment, savouring the smell of her hair.

"We could end our night early, send them home," she whispers.

And it is his turn to be silent. He kisses her again, to end speech, to dissolve thought, and loose and lose himself in their aching greed.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Why I should not have begun work on a sci fi novel

On the second page of the first draft of the opening, a character asks what day it is. There is an hour-long pause while I realize that they wouldn't use the current calendar and consider various metric calendars before settling on one, altering some bits of it and printing it off. End result: "It's the 42nd day of the second month."

OTOH, it does add a certain realism that is fun, but damn .... :p