Monthly Archives: July 2014

“The Beast” Preview, Pt. 1

So, I’m out of town until Sunday night, and it’s entirely possible I won’t have consistent internet access where I’m going. I’ll be darned if that means I’m going to miss my updates though. But I hadn’t exactly planned ahead, because I never plan or work ahead, because I didn’t get punished enough for not doing so when I was younger so it was never a life skill I learned.

Anyway!

What I do have for you, though, is a preview of something that’s been on the backburner for a while. I call it, The Beast. You might also call it, Wherein the Author Thinks He’s Hunter S. Thompson.

I was standing in the bathroom of the shuttle, a tiny closet of a room, so small and cramped and inscrutably designed that you were apt to hit your head and stub your toe and skin your knee all at once if you sat down to take a shit. At the same time, the dark wizard that had envisioned the room had seen fit to make the space immediately in front of the sink tall enough that I, six-feet-and-change tall, could stand up straight. I suspected that, somehow, a shorter man might not have been able to. I suspected that seven virgins were sacrificed on the altar of Buj’et Erh, the blind idiot god of cheap shuttles, when the room was being designed. I suspected that the blueprints for the bathroom were not constructed in some fancy program created explicitly for that purpose, but were, in fact, drawn up on tanned human skin in the blood of a catamite.

I suspected that the flight attendant not-so-gently rapping on my chamber pot door was ten seconds away from notifying a Federal Air Marshal that I was some kind of a terrorist with gastric distress.

“Sir,” the androgynous drone said through the door. “We’re approaching our destination. We need you to return to your stasis pod, Sir.”

“One minute!” I shouted back, as friendly yet firmly as I could manage. “Nearly done! I’m full of parasites, and brother-and-or-sister, you really don’t want me sitting back down until I’m done in here!”


Not-So-Random Writing Prompt 15: Escalation, Pt. 4

After the weapons, came the armor. After the armor came stronger weapons to overcome it. Stronger weapons required more vicious warriors. More vicious warriors gave rise to more desperate defenders. Perhaps the details had not been exactly correct, but none of that mattered.

From its throne, Death looked gigantically down. Its soldiers took up arms and armors and killed without pause to rest or eat or mourn their own fallen. Instead of sword and shield they carried electric rifles and used mechanically powered suits. They did not tear open the walls of cottages and pull the inhabitants screaming out; they formed lines at door frames, threw in a grenade that shone like the sun, and rushed in to slaughter their blinded foes.

The humans had resisted. Escalation had been necessary. All knew what was to come next, though none relished it. But for a moment, at least, Death allowed itself some small measure of satisfaction.

Annnnnd, that’s less than 800 words! Be sure to come back tomorrow for something wholly unexpected!


Not-So-Random Writing Prompt 15: Escalation, Pt. 3

Why should we try the methods of weak, inferior creatures?” came the cry.

“Because the scythe and the sword haven’t been working,” Death whispered. “Because wine press does not flow. Because the wheat and the grapes are ready and we cannot harvest.”

Death reached into its cloak and its bony fingers held up something ugly, metal and plastic and heat. Pure, simple heat, like the sun in the sky, the stars in the heavens. All of them present had seen such things before, had seen the fire they spit, hot enough to burn a soul.

“But brothers, do not doubt that the wheat and the grapes are ready. We simply lack the proper tools.”

* * *

Things went much better the second time. When their armies marched, the enemy fought back as they had before. Soldiers fell on both sides, but the enemy had not been expecting to be fired on with their own weapons. They had not expected to fall in such great numbers. They had not expected to be made to feel as weak and frail as they feared they were. As they knew they were.

The armies celebrated. They roared laughter and beat drums made from the flesh of the enemy fallen, rattled bones in time to the rhythm, and they laughed in their trumph. Death watched it all unfold, and Death alone whispered, “But we can do better still.”


Not-So-Random Writing Prompt 15: Escalation, Pt. 2

The riders and their armies had been helpless. The assaults from the sky, the upheaval from the earth, all of it had been for naught. Hosts both heavenly and hellish muttered and argued and fought amongst themselves. No one had any answers.

It was Death, patient and inexorable and inevitable who’d come up with a solution that had seemed insane and insulting and beneath everyone. “They fight us,” Death said in a voice like a whisper. “They fight us because they have fought each other. Because it is in their nature to fight. Because in the Garden, when they were told they could have paradise so long as they obeyed, they could not.

“Fighting is not in our nature. We do not adapt and improvise and overcome. We play our games on different scales. We are the river that grinds down the boulder in its path.”

“And we will grind them into dust!” came the cry.

Death shook its head. “They are the boulder that rolls itself until it finds the river’s source and dams it. We must try something new. We must try their methods.”


Not-So-Random Writing Prompt 15: Escalation, Pt. 1

Man, remember when I used to follow the io9 rules for length and whatnot when writing these? Remember when they were 800 words max and not six and a half pages long? Let’s try doing that again.

The website io9.com posts a piece of concept art every Saturday challenging its viewers to write a piece of flash fiction based on that art. In the past, I would choose a piece at random, but this time I just picked one that appealed to me. Exciting, no?

This piece is entitled “Escalation,” inspired by the digital painting “Black Skull Recon Squad” by Darek Zabrocki. I don’t own this image, I claim no rights to this image, and should Darek stumble across this post and demand that the image be removed, I will gladly do so. Also, you should go check out his work at http://daroz.deviantart.com/ and his personal website at http://www.darekzabrocki.com/.

Let’s begin! Continue reading


Not-So-Random Writing Prompt 14: The Weaver, Pt. 10

Baetylus hesitated, unsure of how to answer her question. He could give her a literal response, but he suspected that wasn’t what she wanted. Her question had seemed rhetorical, as if hadn’t expected an answer at all. But he had to say something. He could see on her face that she was seconds away from leaving, and if she left and she took the child with her, it would all have been nothing. Weeks, months of work undone in a single instant.

The meatform bit its lip. Perspiration began to bead on its forehead, its nose, its neck.

“Are you an angel, Mister?” the girl asked. She slipped her mother’s hand, the woman too stunned by Baetylus’s words to properly reign in her offspring.

Baetylus searched the meatform’s memory for the definition of the word and shook his head. “No, child. I am a Somnian. I come from another world, and–”

The woman and the child’s eyes both went wide and he hesitated again. Were they frightened? Surprised? What did it mean to hear someone had come from another world?

Oh, blessed Omphalos, he thought. Has this backwater planet not yet made contact with other cultures?

A crowd was gathering around them now, hushed whispers at its edges. “What’s going on?” “That homeless guy was trying to kidnap that little girl!” “Why’s the mom just standing there?” “Wait, did he say he’s an alien?”

The crowd grew, the whispers intensified, and then Baetylus heard one of the apes say something that made the rest of the world fade away.

“I saw something in his hand. Like a hologram or something.”

They could see his weavings. There were other beings on this planet that he could perform for, that he could tell stories to, that he could show his visions. Here he would not be a failure. Here he would not be hated. Here he could simply be. He could teach the apes, and perhaps he could even learn something from them (unlikely, but in the joy he felt, anything seemed possible.)

Saline dripped down the meatform’s eyes. Its mouth alternated between a wide grin and small smile. Its throat constricted.

Evidently the apes cried sometimes when they were happy, too.

I think that’s a good place to end things. It’s not quite what I originally had in mind, but I like it enough on its own. Going on seems to me like it’d be dragging the story out at this point. Anyway, come back tomorrow for something shiny and new!


Not-So-Random Writing Prompt 14: The Weaver, Pt. 9

What is it? What is it?”

Baetylus looked down at the creature squirming in his hand and tried to decide how best to explain it to the juvenile ape. It’s a monster? It’s an animal? It’s a trans-dimensional symbiote that my people have tamed and use as decoration in their home. “It’s an animal,” he offered softly. “They live back where I’m from.”

“Where did it go a minute ago?”

“It doesn’t really exist here. It’s an illusion I’ve created from my own memories and experiences with and knowledge of the creature.”

“What does it eat?”

The meatform frowned. “It’s not exactly known. The part of them that consumes energy for sustenance exists on a different plane than my own people, so we–”

“Sweetheart, leave the nice man alone,” another ape said, it’s voice deeper than the juvenile’s but still rather high. Baetylus looked up and saw an adult female, its facial features similar to the juvenile’s. A mother, perhaps, or a sibling.

“Aw, but I’m not bothering him!”

“I don’t care. Leave him alone.”

“Really, ma’am. I don’t mind at all.”

The woman looked up at Baetylus anger and protectiveness flashing in her eyes. Her body tensed in a way that Baetylus had seen in the canids and the felines, a cautionary display before an attack. “I’m not talking to you, Sir.”

“Mommy, be nice!”

The woman grabbed the child by the wrist and began to pull her away. Panic filled Baetylus. The girl had been the only one to see his weavings. What if she was the only one on the planet who could? What if he could reach out to the rest of the apes by talking to her and being unable to do that would set back his progress by months? He couldn’t let the girl leave. He’d have to stop the mother.

He almost reached for the woman’s arm before the meatform’s memories told him that if he did that, he’d be attacked every ape within fifty feet. He had to confront her non-physically.

He closed his eyes and tried to reach out with his senses. There was happiness in her, and pain, as there was in all the apes, but she seemed to carry a greater sorrow than most.

“Your mate left you,” Baetylus said as softly as he could while still being heard by the woman. She froze in her path and Baetylus pushed on. “After the child’s birth. A revolution of the planet around its star after. You are angry at him. Terribly angry. But you are sad, too. You miss him.”

The woman’s shoulders slumped. The girl looked back at Baetylus, her gaze darting between him and her mother, confused as to why they had stopped. Despite the pain that emanated off the woman, a feeling of satisfaction came to Baetylus. He had succeeded, at least temporarily.

The feeling lasted only a moment, though. As the woman turned to face him, Baetylus saw an expression on her that he had no words for. Her voice was soft, choked, as if something were lodged in her throat, but that must have been impossible. Saline welled at the corner of her eyes and ran down her face in thin rivulets.

“Who are you?” she asked softly. “What are you?”


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