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.

Exploring the Shallows of Space

I’m pursuing another of the fiction prompts thrown out by Chuck Wendig, and for purposes of editorial comment, I’ll quote some if his entry here:

It’s May the Fourth, c’mon.

So obviously the only choice of what to write is:

SPACE OPERA

SPACE OPERA

SPAAAAAACE

OPERAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaa

So, get on that. Whatever it means, it means.

Length: ~1500 words

Which is neat… but there’s also a small contradiction.  Space opera, after all, is big. Huge, sweeping works, filling thick books… and frequently more than one.

This is very hard to manage with 1500 words or less.

So, I’m not entirely convinced that Seeds of Empire qualifies.  I’m also trying hard to convince myself that it’s not just a prologue for something that does.

Because I’ve got enough backlog in the Stuff I Want to Write folder without adding in a proper Space Opera.  You hear me, brain? You drop that notion right now!

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.

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.”

Outright Theft

Something that troubled me in my tender years, when idea of writing as something I might do first surfaced, can be articulated thus: All the good titles have been used. Back then, I thought that the title was sacrosanct, and since H.G. Wells had used The Star then neither I nor any other person could title a story with those two words.

I then went back to pushing a small plastic Luke Skywalker around the floor in a Kenner-made Landspeeder while enjoying Saturday morning cartoons.  My view of the world was a little naive for a very good reason.

I now know that this is not the case, and that the same title can grace diverse works of literature, and even films!  Still, childhood notions are sticky, so I sometimes baulk at a title that I know hangs on something else.  I’m hoping the latest flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig has burnt some of that idea out of me, because he’s instructed people to take a title from a Stephen King novel– just grab it and use it!

And so I have.  My little tiny Bag of Bones has nothing whatever to do with King’s fat bundle of words, bar the fact that it has the same three words stuck to the front.  I’ve slightly exceeded the word limit for flash, but since I’m on very good terms with the editor here, I’m not getting in trouble for it.

And while I’m here, I’m going to tease– stand by for a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT next week!  I’m so giddy about it I could burst, but I’m also quite good at keeping secrets.  See you then, I hope.

…ALSO also, I’ll also point out the newly-minted donation button, for those who incline that way, in the left side-bar, which looks rather like this one:
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Vacation Time

Boy, that sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it.  This winter, the living skies have been more than usually lively, and have offered freezing rains followed by the kind of temperatures only Antarctic explorers look upon as acceptable, screeching winds, and the usual crop of parhelions (which I understand some places treat as a rare source of wonder).

I mention this for two reasons.  First, I am still labouring along on The Novel, from which no vacation is allowed if it is ever to be finished.  Second, there has been another flash-fiction prompt from Chuck Wendig, on the topic of travel woes, which I thought I should pursue to remind myself that something other than The Novel exists.

Thus, Getting There is Half the Fun.  Yes, a well worn title.  I know.  My brain is riddled with the cracks of temperature stress.

(Not) Alone in the Dark

Alone in the dark?  Oh, heavens, no.  It’s the solstice, and thus dark for everyone in the northern hemisphere… although I guess those below the tropic line will hardly notice.

It being that time of year, I am once again offering a story for Christmas, because it’s something Charles Dickens and M.R. James did; I am weak enough to hope for if not to quite believe in sympathetic magic, and so try to do what they did with an eye to becoming what they were.

…perhaps, now that I think of Dickens’s last days, this is not a great plan.

Anyway, this year’s story is Snowman.  The title is a bit of a giveaway; there is a snowman mentioned in it.  They’re a staple of kids’ songs and Rankin animations, but the snowman is something of a rarity here in the land of the living skies; we get snow, but it’s usually so dessicated that you can’t form it.

I hope you enjoy reading it, and I also hope you have plenty of people of cuddle up with in this season of long nights and chill winds.  The dark is more tolerable when there’s someone to share it with.