This is NOT an Anniversary Present

Today is my wedding anniversary (my wife’s as well, by happy coincidence!). It is purest chance that I’m putting forth a story today.  Especially one that takes the theme of vengeance as its seed-crystal, once again at the suggestion of this guy who writes somewhat more than I do.

No, the anniversary present involves going out to a nice sushi restaurant, son in tow, and eating until we’ve all got That Innsmouth Look. This because we like sushi, we don’t have use for any more china (which is what “tradition” has as appropriate for this year) and watching my son eat “exotic” food gives me strange joy. But while we’re off doing that, there’s no reason that people who aren’t us can’t enjoy a short story about revenge, which is precisely what Dig Two Graves is about.

A small semi-spoiler of a note to go with it, which I will go down a couple of lines to reveal:

 

Almost…

 

OK. Here it is:

 

I am not specific about the offense at the bottom of the vendetta. I was intending to be less so, to the point that I chose the name “Felix” as being reasonably close in meaning to “Fortunato” without actually lifting from Poe. That I then give a sense that there is some actual reason behind the plot beyond a possibly-imaginary “thousand injuries” is probably a tacit admission that I’m perhaps not quite as good at this writing wheeze as was Poe… but you may also ponder just how culpable Felix is

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It’s in the Trees!

That’s a line from Night of the Demon, the excellent 1957 film adaptation of M.R. James’s “Casting the Runes” and I seriously recommend giving an evening over to watching it.

But that has nothing to do with this post.  I ran into something on Twitter that gave me a spasm of creativity, and I thought I might as well preserve it here, for my own future amusement at least. First of all, here’s the triggering image:

Twitter screen capture: Unusual 65ft-tall beech tree found in the Balkan mountains (photo: Deyan Kossev) over a photo of a tree which has somehow come to look like human with arms upraised.

And here’s what fell out of my head:

Twitter screen capture: The mad old woman had gold, as they had said. It jingled in his pouch as be ran from her cabin. When he got back to town, he would buy all the lads at the tavern a drink. He would embellish the story, of course. Something about a vast guardian demon...

Twitter screen capture: Suddenly, she was in front of him. Too surprised to shove her aside, he threw his arms up to hold his balance as he skidded to a stop. They stayed up. He felt the blood going cold and thin inside him, felt the inverse of pain as roots drove down out of his feet.

Twitter screen capture: She looked into his remaining eye, sinking into its socket of wood. "The theft," she said, "I might have forgiven; there is always more gold. But to do that to a harmless old cat... for that, you may stand there and lament your fate until the woodsmen come for you."

Twitter screen capture: For long ages, he felt insects and birds at work on his flesh. As he grew to join their canopy, he learned the language of the trees; they insulted him daily. Once, a person stopped in front of him and took a picture. He could not call out the them, his mouth long grown over.

Oh, Me of Little Faith

Yesterday, I was concerned for having gotten people all stirred up about my upcoming story at Pseudopod, as there was apparently a delay.

It turns out the delay could have been, from the time of my posting, measured in minutes without being inconvenient to the measurer.

This morning, then, I sit in a state of radiant giddiness, having just listened to Free Balloons for All Good Children read by a rather good narrator, Rish Outfield.  Not only that, host Alasdair Stuart said some things in the following notes which brought such a state of happiness to me that I can hardly breathe at the mere memory of them.  The words “Lovecraft with all his ridiculous toxic nonsense stripped away” said in conjunction with something I’m responsible for…

Sorry.  Had to go lie down for a moment. I suspect this state I’m in, feet well clear of the floor, will persist for some time.

This also brings about a rather unusual state of affairs in the sidebar; two Current Stories.  I don’t think this will persist beyond the time that “Free Balloons for All Good Children” is the top of Pseudopod’s roll, because even as swollen as it currently is, my ego is still governable.  But, for now, my Current Story is a two-headed freak.

And I love it, in all it’s alien wrongness.

Small Consolation

Well… it appears that I should have reserved the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT until Pseudopod updated.  The schedule I was shown does, after all, have the word “tentative” in it.  Even if it did agree very well with the past couple of months’ worth of released up to Episode 590, I accept that stuff beyond human intervention will throw itself in the way.

So, we wait until the events predicted in BA come to pass.  It’s a delay, not (so far as I know, he said with a cringe and a glance toward a comforting contract) a cancellation.  In the meantime, here’s a little flash fiction I ran up, once again at the prompting of a famous profession writer guy— the theme is heroism’s consequences, and the story is The Savior.

I place it under speculative fiction because the setting is, purposefully, obscure, all the way down to which end of the political spectrum is involved.

I Promise You, It’s True

All right, it’s time for that BIG ANNOUNCEMENT, so I hope you’re all either sitting comfortably or have a firm grip on your hat and/or wig.  I should also suggest monocles be safely stowed elsewhere for a moment.

One week from today, a story of mine called “Free Balloons for All Good Children” will be released by Pseudopod.

…which is amazing to me.  Not only is it a sale at professional pay rates, which means I can start pretending to be a professional author… in fact, “not only” is too strong, because sweet jumping catfish, have you seen the sort of company this thrusts me into?  Honestly, use that link and flip through the amazing bunch of talented folks they’ve presented over the years.  I can feel myself glowing from the mere inclusion on such a list.  The money is nice, but it’s very much secondary.  Imposter Syndrome is in what I hope will be a long period of remission.

What you won’t find there, currently, is any mention of my story, yet. So why am I announcing it now?  Because I want to make sure everyone has time to get their Eyetunes or other etheric transmission interceptors set to the correct co-ordinates to listen in. Also, there’s more than a decade of other stories that you might want to hear or read as well, if you’ve somehow been missing out on the dark splendour of it all.  So turn your selectors to Pseudopod, and stand by for emanation!

Fallout of Friday the 13th

This is not the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT I said would be coming this week.  It is still coming.  Never fear.

This is an announcement of merely average dimensions, to let you know that a new story has been added to the heap here.  Lucky Day is an outcome of yet another of the Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Friday challenges, and since it fell on the 13th last week, the challenge was something to do with luck.

Luck was with me, and I finished briskly, so there will be the two announcements this week.  Hopefully, you will feel that this is also a stroke of luck (“Oh, boy!  Extra words, and all of them free!).

The challenge was not concerned with what flavour of luck was involved.  I decided, because the world needs more of it, to go with good luck.  Of course, me being me, there’s a particular slant to the interpretation of “good luck.”

Something Short About a Tree

The season of incandescent ursine juggling has passed, and I am able to bash out a story in pursuit of the Friday Terribleminds Challenge.  The most current item is to be about a tree.

So that’s what I’ve done, and it’s called Sheltered.  Like the last time, it’s more fantasy than anything else.  I appear to be running all my horror into the novel… and into my reactions to current events, which I will not mention in any further detail.

Picking a Side

Well, look at that.  I’m holding to a resolution, at least for a second week, and developing a story for the Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge again despite huge if unconscious opposition from the non-writing elements of my life.  This week’s challenge was a quite simple one: a story about good versus evil.

He who provides the challenge declares that its inspiration was no more than the fact of watching a horror film.  I will admit that I allowed a little of current events to colour the small not-quite-steampunk fantasy of Between Good and Evil, Some Grey; there are some things that you just can’t claim neutrality in without at least tacitly supporting one side.

What? New Content?

Yes, indeed.  While I am still devoting the largest part of my creative energy and time to the novel, I’ve decided that I’m going to make a serious effort at posting some fresh fiction here more than once every… six(ish) months.  I am motivated in this by reading the work of other authors.

Particularly, by the blog of Chuck Wendig.  He does a regular flash fiction challenge over there, and while spending idle moments at the day job reading through back numbers, I was struck with this thought– a prompted flash fiction is something that I can probably do during these same idle moments, and a prompted flash fiction with a deadline means I might actually put words where people may enjoy them (hopefully) before the projected end of the second draft effort on the novel.  Which may, possibly, be done by early December.

So, today we have I Held Your Heart Once.  The title comes from the challenge, as do the first and last sentences.  I might have been at this sooner, but those three elements were the products of the previous three challenges.  You can, therefore, understand me to be blaming a famous and rather good author for keeping me from posting any new writing here for a month.

You can.  But I think I’d prefer if you didn’t.  I’ve been busy.