The novel continues to grow. Hit the goal for today but it’s late, but there are still so many hours till light, and I feel invigorated, but also on the brink of collapse.
I think it’s worth examining my own writing at this point, though. I write in this stitched together fashion out of a weakness, but also out of a need for multiplicity, of authenticity. The problem with a singular viewpoint is that it’s always inherently so skewed. I need to have that cacophony of voices, and so I create a polyphonic symphony through dissonance. Each voice competing for truth and reality, each contradicting and undermining each other, and it’s this fission and fusion that creates an authentic reality for me.
And so everything I’ve written has had this multilayered quality to it, and that’s partly because of people like Virginia Woolf and Stephen Graham Jones and Terrence Malick and Steve Erickson. I need the voices fighting one another but also working together to create this beautiful tapestry.
I talk often about how writing for me is an act of translating the visual into language. The visions surge and rush and fill me or wash over me and I type as fast as I can to keep it all together, to capture as best I can what I’m seeing. And it’s when this happens that I know I’m doing it right. Sometimes it’s not so much a vision but a voice, singing and screaming in the darkness, and I’m transcribing that horrifyingly beautiful and haunting melody.
I can get 2,000 words in an hour, just dancing on keys when things click right. It’s when I struggle to get out a hundred words that I know I’m doing it wrong, that this isn’t working.
And so I’m 12k in. Chelsea and I watched a delightful film called Butter tonight. I enjoyed it a great deal. It’s not a great film and it’s narratively sort of shotty, but it also has some really great moments.
I think about sleep and I fear it. I overslept this morning, which put me behind schedule. I’m shooting for 5k a day, and so I’m 2k ahead right now, but I probably need to hit 20k tomorrow if this is going to be possible.
The weekend’s going to be sort of full, but I should be able to get another 20k then, which should put me at my goal. Hopefully the novel resolves itself around then.
12k is a long way, but it’s also barely a beginning. It’s hard to see the shape of this novel or where it’s headed. I see circles and spirals and a thousand kilometer tree, but I don’t know where this all leads. Eventually my little pale men are going to have a part to play in this and that’s probably what will make the whole novel.
I want to discuss the way we react to what we refer to as native. How it’s fetishised, in both positive and negative ways, which, of course, is sort of always negative. And I want the natives to speak out about what it means to be discovered to them.
So, yeah, this is my gender/race novel, and it’s carried by this noirish notion that I pretend is noir. Polyphonic feminist noir.
And then there’s the science fiction and fantasy always seeping in, but hopefully you dig it, and hopefully J David Osborne digs it, since it’s sort of for him and Broken River Books.
Don’t be afraid of turning the page or writing into darkness.
But also my interview with Nick Antosca went up at Monkeybicycle.
Only two more for the weekly series, and next week is sort of open, which isn’t ideal, but that’s the way it is. I have a few interviews in the works, so there’s no real fear here.
Things are getting wild with the novel and I just wandered over the 9k mark. It was meant to be more noirish, but I guess this is my kind of noir. Another detectiveless detective novel with a bunch of narrators, but things are getting pretty crazy, and I’ve drifted further and further into science fiction and fantasy the more I write. And so though this is meant for Broken River Books, it may be an awful fit there, but only time will tell, and it’ll only matter if I finish this by next week. Hoping to hit 12k before I go to sleep, which is very doable. Chelsea’s coming over soon, so I won’t be doing any more work until she sleeps.
It’s exciting though and I’m sort of just letting the ideas spill out. The best part is inventing mythologies/religions to contextualise a civilisation’s culture that doesn’t exist, and so I’m dreaming up all kinds of things.
Just finished this chapter, which is either an insane ramble or a factual exploration into what it means to be one of these odd tiny men.
Dust. It all comes back to Dust but it’s not really dust, or at least not the way we think of it. Everyone wonders how they remained hidden so long and why they only just emerged into existence. Trust me, it has little to do with Park and everything to do with Dust.
Park only appears important because she took the pictures and because they ate her, possibly alive, and made a carnival of the grotesquerie. But Park was brought there. Summoned. I know, I know, but bear with me, because this is important. More important than anything else you’ve probably heard. Have you even talked to the childfuckers? You won’t believe it and no one wants to admit it, but they know more about the niños than anyone else. You don’t live right along with them for that long in an intimate fashion without learning some things. And these are the kind of things the Growers would love to know about.
Dust is sacred and it’s everywhere in Antiguoniño, That’s not what they call it, by the way. They call where they live Life and everything else Nothing. This is fundamental to understanding them but the anthros are more concerned with contextualising them within our world. To them our world doesn’t exist. It’s also why they probably had no problem killing Park, and why they don’t trust us. Their word for us is a slur and though it means foreigner or alien, it’s more akin to calling me a chink or you a spic. They’re not trying to pull us into the context of their reality–they’re trying to banish us. That’s something Park didn’t realise, and also what the childfuckers don’t realise. But I guarantee you, all of those women will be dead within a couple of years, maybe even just a couple of months. They may not be eaten, but it’ll be something horrifying like that. But we’re not simply other to them, we’re nothing. We’re nothing from the nothingness that surrounds their world.
To them, the world is a cycle and their lives repeat endlessly. All of this happened before and it will happen again, and their shaman tattoo their lives onto their backs when they create their masks. Spirals represent the course of life. Circles represent the course of nature and existence. The masks identify them and separate them but also bring them all as one. And all of this comes from the Dust, which is the very soil that nourishes the Tree. They are Dust and we are all Dust. The Tree exists because of Dust and Dust birthed it into the world a hundred million years ago, long before humanity ever had a notion of existing.
The Dust lives and it sings. We can’t hear it but they can but it calls us too, though we don’t know or realise. That’s why Park found it, and that’s why so many haven’t. It’s not enough to just run into the desert chasing dreams. You have to be called or you won’t arrive. We don’t know anything about the Dust except that it exists and it covers everything. Most people you talk to won’t realise the significance of this since the world we now live in is full of crumbling buildings and broken roads and there’s dust and smog and dirt everywhere, but it’s important that the Dust covers every inch of their world.
Old stories exist about the naval of the world, the cradle of humanity. I’m not saying this is that naval, but it may be the heart, the heart hidden in the wild desolation of history.
Dust is their god. The anthros believe they have a host of gods and that this create their culture, but really it’s the single god with a billion aspects covering every inch of the world. Before they create their masks and accept the Dust permanently into their skin, they have names. Every child niño has a name, but when they create their mask and accept the Dust, they give up their name. Only when they lose their name do they begin to live.
That’s another thing that separates us. Because we carry our names as badges of honor they consider us less than nothing. We are the nothing from the nothingness carrying all that is nothing with us. That’s why they’re stealing from us. It’s to mock us. They’re teaching us a lesson about possessions. We’re so obsessed and blind with what we have and own that we can’t even see them for what they are.
They’re not a solution or a utopia. They don’t belong to us and they don’t want to be a part of our nothingness.
I think the Dust, though, is something quantum mechanical. It’s like magic and it’s infused deep into every cell of their world. It gives them life and also every part of their world. Their relationship with the wolves, their relationship with their environment, their relationship with one another–it all comes down to Dust. It gives them the ability to create new life, which is how they procreate.
All of this is speculation, granted, but it makes sense if you just keep following me down this rabbit hole.
There’s an old story but there’s never any time to tell it. It has to do with the Dream that is existence and the Tree that connects all realities. But this Dust is that Dream made real. The Dream of the Dreamers shapes all of this, and all other universes that whirl round just past reality’s veneer, and there are billions of universes just on the otherside of this dimension. Imagine reality to be like a six sided die. This die is our reality and the six dimension belonging to it. But if we turn this die over, there’s another die, and another die, and an endless number of dies, each with their own dimensions to their own realities. The niños–again, this is our term and they just refer to themselves as Us–aren’t necessarily from this reality, but they’re also not necessarily from another. This tree isn’t necessarily from ours or another’s either. On every habitable planet on every reality there is a Tree like this and it connects us and binds us all together, into one knotted multiverse and the world of the niños is more of a transitional place. It’s a home between worlds, between realities. It’s why you can’t see that Tree until you’re almost running into their home world. A tree that high should be visible for kilometers and we definitely should have known about i sometime through history, especially when we ruled the skies and space. But no one saw it then because it didn’t exist then and it didn’t exist then because the Dust didn’t call us. Do you see what I’m trying to say?
This place, Paradiso, Antiguoniño, whatever you want to call it, it’s not for us and we only appear because the Dust lets us. And though the niños accept our intrusion into their reality, they do it only because the Dust wants us there. Why it wants us there–who knows? What’s important is that it’s allowing us there.
But so what do we do with this quantum magic Dust?
We do nothing! That’s the whole thing. We’re not there to possess or to change things. We’re there for some purpose greater than any one humans could dream up.
But the Dust reacts to us. It reacts to all life and it transforms it. The wolves were born from this Dust. People don’t remember but when the Moon broke and fell to earth, it created a Lunar Desert which became a Lunar Forest and from that Forest came the wolves. A new breed, but the same breed as the niño lupine. A cataclysm brought us together across universes, across realities, and it took the dissolution of all that we are to bring us to the Dust that was calling us so long. It may mean that the dust of the Moon is our future. We’re not there to steal, you see. We’re there to understand. When we finally figure it out, when the Dust gives us whatever it wants to give us or when it uses us however it wants to use us, the world of the niños will disappear and we’ll be left with our own Dust. Our Dust that came from the Moon.
I know this all sounds crazy, but just you wait. The world is changing and it’s ready to grow. It may even be what Ming and the Growers need to understand about this world. They want to make us biofreaks, but all they need to do to reunite us with earth is to figure out where our Dust is and what we can do with it.
It’s the Dream crystallised into our reality. It’s our Dream, if only we learn to grab it.
A Royal Affair stars the bad guy from Casino Royale and is about the reign of Christian VII of Denmark. The guy who plays Christian does such a brilliant job, and the film, overall, is pretty great. I’ve been saying it for several years, but the Danes and other Scandinavians are making the most interesting films in europe right now, and this is another great one. It’s a period piece full of adultery and intrigue, and it’s just shot great and acted well.
Europa Report is absolutely amazing. Feels and looks sort of low-budget, but the film’s not about the technology. It takes us on a mission to Europa, the earthish moon of Jupiter, and from there things get bonkers. It’s all found footage, which adds a lot of depth and tension. It’s a pretty terrifying and thrilling film, with so much tension ratcheted way up. I think it’s better than Gravity, if only because it does so much more with so much less. I guess it’s silly to compare them, since they’re fundamentally different, sharing only space as a common element. But this is definitely something worth seeing.
New World is another Korean gangster film, and Choi Min Sik’s involved, so you know I’m already sold on it. The protagonist, as is sort of typical of very male Korean films, is sort of silent and doesn’t do much, unless he’s raining down chaos. But it’s also a brilliant film with twists and turns and enough character to keep you on the edge of your seat. Min Sik kills it, as always, but the other leads carry a lot of weight, especially Jung. I didn’t look up the other actor’s names, so that means nothing right now. But, yeah, Korean cinema is still the greatest place to find films right now. Though, I mean, this film has exactly one female character, and there are probably a total of ten minutes where females are on screen during this 120 minute film.
A Company Man sort of a bad version of A Bittersweet Life and/or The Man from Nowhere. Or, at least, it holds much of the same elements as those. Again, we have a male lead who doesn’t really act unless he’s unleashing violence, but this also has a sort of cute lovestory going on, which is pretty common to the Korean noir, where sappy and intense often land on screen at the same time. Some very cool action sequences, though, and there are female characters in this, which is always nice.
Tokyo Godfathers is a delightful anime that gives a lot to its viewers. It’s funny and beautiful and perfect for the holiday season. It’s Satoshi Kon, so what do you expect? It’s great.
Rebuild Evangelion recreates the series but also completely reimagines it, which, I think, is a sign that this is a recurrence in a world of infinite recurrence, but that things have changed this time. The first film is identical, more or less, to the series, with things gradually becoming different in the second film, and then the third film being so completely different it can only really be associated by the characters involved. They’re brilliant, though I think the third one suffers from not having enough time to develop its narrative or characters, relying too heavily on a viewer’s familiarity with the series. But it’s still very cool, and though the first two are sort of big budget reiterations of the original, the third goes just as wildly off the rails to keep fans of the original satisfied with this new construction.
But, yeah, trying to get back into watching films, which I’ve been really bad at the last two years. Going to try to watch one every day. It’ll help give me a break from the novel.
Got sidetracked more than expected today but I’m sitting on about 4,000 words and am about to jump back in. Thought I’d share some of the mythology that’s coming to life for this novel, though. So here’s another rough draft of a chapter:
The niños, on average, reach a height of about one hundred twenty centimeters. and weigh about forty kilograms. Their musculature is very dense and they have less fat reserves than we do. You’ll hear often that they’re not human, and this isn’t really correct, but it’s also not incorrect.
There’s no doubt about us both descending from primates, and possibly we were part of the same line until relatively recently. After thousands of years, things can change quite a bit, especially given their peculiar environment.
To put it simply, there’s a genetic difference, but that’s so minuscule as to be insignificant. We’ll just ballpark our genetic similarity to other humans as 99%. We share 98% with chimpanzees, and things taper off after you step out of primates, but s what we’re dealing with here is a genetic similarity between 98% and 99%. They don’t reach that 99% but it’s also disingenuous and, frankly, untrue to say that they’re more similar to chimpanzees than they are to us. A lot of this comes from fearmongering and blatant colonial attitudes exacerbated by their pale skin, the fact that they’re all genetically male, as far as we can tell, and the extreme difference in technological development, which can be explained quite easily. But, to get back to the point, our similarity is about 98.95%, plus or minus 0.1%.
They’re complex social primates, just as we are. The real difference was caused by their environment, which needs some explanation, I suppose.
It’s a highly sophisticated environment that is both strengthened and debilitated by its millennia of isolation. Their deification of rain and trees comes from their close proximity to them, and, of course, the Tree. No studies have been done, because the niños are extremely protective of the Tree. Upon seeing it, it’s quite clear that this is no ordinary tree, and that its closest relatives probably became extinct millions of years ago. I’ll say that again because it doesn’t look like it’s sinking in.
It’s closest relative more than likely became extinct millions–yes, millions–of years ago.
Why this one exists is impossible to really say without a proper sample, but the niños won’t even let us collect leaves. It’s all sacred to them and, for now, we respect this animism. But this tree, the Tree is the fulcrum of their society. The city is built in a spiral pattern around it and its roots connect each dwelling to each other. This is also significant and extremely peculiar. So they live in raised mounds, similar to the way the ancient celts lived. Large communal spaces that appear to be about ten thousand years old, which makes them the earliest human structures still standing, if you can believe that, and they’re each connected by roots to the Tree, which would put its age as at least that old, but considering the size of the mounds and the complexity of the city system, it would mean that the Tree was exceptionally large by the time they were created. I’d put the age of the tree at several millions years, given its size and the fact that there are no trees like this anywhere else in the world throughout history as we know it. But that’s pure speculation and I used exactly zero science in determining that age, so take it with a fistfull of salt.
But the Tree really connects it all together. You could say their city was not only built around the Tree, but because of it and by it. The roads, according to the niños, follows the trails of the roots and the city all rests under the canopy.
They farm a great deal. All tasks are shared and the assignment of tasks appears to shift. Much of niños society is difficult to pindown because of their masks, which wash away individuality. For the niños, it does the opposite, however. They all refer to one another as brother and they differentiate one another according to these same masks that appear so anonymous to us. It implies a deep artistic culture with many shared metaphors and myths, much of which is secret to us. Park Jiyun appears to have known more about this than anyone else, but we all know how that ended.
They’re very open within their society, but are extremely xenophobic. Part of this is probably explained by our drastic height and weight differences, and the fact that we’re all female, which leads me to another peculiarity.
We have no idea how they reproduce. When the last man died, we ensured our survival, but there’s no chance that the niños have anything remotely that complex to work with. We’ve seen them partake in enormous orgies and they’re very free with their bodies, and the bodies of others, but sex doesn’t appear to be a reproductive function. Some of us believe there are females and that they’re perhaps used like cattle, but it’s difficult to believe such tiny and kind people would have any practices so brutal.
But, then again, Park Jiyun’s innards were strung like garlands and her bones used for music, so there’s no telling what the niños are capable of, or why they do what they do.
They worship the rain, for obvious reasons. We’ve tried to describe to them what the world is like beyond their city and the desert, but they remain convinced that there is only desert and nothingness outside of Antiguoniño, which isn’t strictly incorrect. But if you live your entire life with constant rain, how would you imagine a world without it? How would you not believe you’re blessed by the gods after looking out into the vast desert surrounding them? So much of their iconography revolves around spirals, circles, trees, and rain. They’re intimately acquainted with water and plant cycles.
But so, because of their reliance on water and plants, especially trees, and because of the abundance of both, they never had a reason to develop technologies the way we did. And the rain keeps digital or electronic equipment from being especially useful. We’ve lost a lot of equipment in Antiguoniño. But it’s why some people call this Paradiso. It’s a utopic land of plenty, where everything is provided by the earth. There is no decay, only the passing of seasons, which is how they measure their lives, actually. By the end of a solar year, they consider themselves four years old. This led to a lot of confusion when they were discovered. We bought into the belief that these tiny people may be at such advanced ages while remaining so healthy and robust because of the Tree and all sorts of other signs. Most of them having to do with the notion of this being a utopia. Until the tragedy of Park Jiyun, we had never seen them engage in violence. We had, curiously, never even observed them eating meat. They husband animals similar to llamas and elk and they have wolves for pets and companions, but they don’t appear to eat any of them. They live right inside of nature, which is something I’ve sort of been pointing at here. It’s a very human notion to bend nature to our will. We create structures and superstructures, bend rivers, dig trenches to make the world more comfortable for us. But the niños live alongside it. They weave their lives into the natural system, rather than bend it to their lives. And this can be seen with their relationships with their animals and one another.
When the niños reach puberty, the brothers come together and celebrate with the creation of the mask. Each niño creates a mask of dust and mud and blood, which they wear for the rest of their lives. At the same time, they’re given a wolfpup, which they must raise. To harm the wolf is to harm the owner, though ownership here is a very different matter. Their language doesn’t have possessive pronouns, which complicates the language and understanding it. But their word for wolf is the same as their word for soul, so their relationship between wolf and niño is much different than the relationship of a pet and a master. It’s unclear how long these wolves live, but I’ve never seen an adult niño without one, regardless of age, and an elder never has a pup.
The elk are used for work and for transportation. I guess I haven’t mentioned it yet and you’ve yet to see it, but transportation is necessary, which complicates things for us, since we’re too large to ride their elk, which are unusually small. But we estimate that there are about one million niños, and that the city is about the twenty five square kilometers. It’s not super dense, but it’s much denser than you would expect for a civilisation of this nature. It’s not even preindustrial. They’re a purely agricultural and pantheistic animistic monogender–allegedly–society.
But we’ve only known of their existence for, what, three years? They exclude us from almost all rituals, ceremonies, and social customs. Veronique and Park Jiyun are the only people to have seen anything like a ritual, and, unfortunately, it proved to be quite a gruesome spectacle.
But what else. I have so many notes here and so many theories it’s hard to keep them straight. Things change every day because there’s so little data, and they give us so little. It’s a tricky balance. We’re undoubtedly influencing them by our very presence, but they’re also influencing us, and they’re the ones gaining what we know. I imagine they have far better records about us than we do about them. They’re extremely intelligent, and gifted with languages. Even though there appear to be only about one million of them, they have quite a complex linguistic system with at least three dialects, and they’ve learnt every language we’ve spoken to them, and even ones we didn’t speak to them but only shared with one another.
The other day I swear I heard a few of them telling jokes in Cantonese.
I sometimes don’t know what to think. It’s exciting, but also terrifying. As you can imagine, things have changed dramatically in the weeks since Park Jiyun died. Everyone’s on edge, including the niños. They’re much more reserved and I believe they’ve begun to steal from us. There’s no proof, of course, and since they don’t really understand ownership or possession, it may not be useful to consider it theft, but some of our equipment has disappeared.
I don’t know. Sometimes I guess I just get paranoid. To tell you the truth, it’s a relief to be away from them. They creep me out. It’s not the size, really, but their pale skin and their maleness. There’s something pitiful about them. Don’t tell anyone, but I see where all the rhetoric comes from. All that hateful stuff people are saying. It’s all so foreign, and as exciting as it is, from a scientific and anthropological viewpoint, it’s also absolutely frightening. When you’re there, you’re in their world. They have all the cards, even though we’re bigger and stronger. We have physical advantages, and I know that. I know if I got into a fight with one or even a few, I could probably get away unscathed. But when there are ten or twenty or a hundred so near at hand, it becomes suffocating.
For now all we can do is keep studying and searching and try to avoid whatever the hell Park did to anger them so much.
and putting on my writerly one.
Finally jumping into that novel I mentioned ten hours ago. It’s going to be very vignettey with lots of different narrators, all unnamed. And I switched the civilisation from only female to only male, because this novel is going to be about gender, in a way that none of my writer really ever has been. For now I’m calling it Be Careful, My Children.
First chapter written here:
It wasn’t how it was supposed to go, you know what I mean? Jiyun never hurt a body her whole life and I think she really loved those dirty little pale fuckers. I mean, I knew they weren’t human. They can’t be, right? Those creepy masks and the way they stand all wrong, short and wrongly pale. And they’re all male, if you can believe that. Just a civilisation of males.
Those horrible little creatures. She was an artist, you know? She brought them to the world. Do you remember how it was the first time you saw their images? A new civilisation, unknown and unlooked for, buried deep in the heart of a desert, and somehow just never seen. Jiyun told me about it before she published anything, her eyes so wide I could walk inside them, and I got drunk on her story, drunker on the photographs.
I thought they were all children at first, and that’s what she called them: Eolini, but the world called them niños. I mean, after so many years, after the entire world’s been mapped, destroyed, and rebuilt, we discover this ancient civilisation just living like none of this has ever happened. Well, I mean, you talked to everyone else, so I don’t know what you want me to say. I never went there. I mean, I was in love with the idea, like everyone else, probably, but I had no interest in, like, seeing them in real life. Add to that the fact that all those idiots died lost in the desert trying to get there.
But I can tell you about Jiyun, if that’s what I’m here for. And, by the way, I don’t think it’s said often enough, but she fought to protect them, you know? She didn’t want to exploit them. That’s not why she took those photographs. She found them on accident and photographed them out of pure curiosity and awe. There was no malice in her. Never has been. Kindest girl I ever knew, and I knew her for a long time. She wasn’t my best friend, but she was top five kind of material. We were even briefly lovers, but, um, well, just keep that private, you know? I don’t want people coming to my door and searching for answers. You saw what happened to her mothers. It’s just a shit situation and I sort of would rather not be associated with the whole thing, you know?
But Jiyun, she was kind. I know that’s what you say about strangers when you don’t have anything else to say, but she really was. She was just a kind and loving girl, and a devoted lover. Even after we ended that form of physical contact, she remained a real and true supporter of my life, defending me from all the women I fell in and out of love with. But that’s just the kind of person she was.
And to end like this, dripping down the jaws of those fucking things.
She told me about the masks, but, I mean, what’s there to say about this shit? I don’t get it. I don’t get them. It’s not even their primitive nature or whatever you want to call it. It’s this deification of dust. I mean, I get the water thing. That’s built right into our genetics, but dust? It’s like they got some halfassed translation of the bible a thousand years ago and latched onto the one word they knew.
You know they have, like, one hundred ways to say dust? Dust. Just fucking dust.
I mean, I know Whorfian theory and whatever, but what kind of mystery or truth does dust hold, for them or anyone, you know?
But Jiyun, she was so kind. Her long black hair always up in a bun, her glasses always breaking, always getting lost. I bought her one of those neck things, you know? It goes around the neck and attaches to your glasses, you know? Yeah, well, right, so she even lost that. It was funny but that kind of says some of it, right? She was clumsy and careless, but there was no meanness in her.
Even as a girl–you’ll laugh, probably, but it’s not that funny. It’s sort of sad, I think. But she loved animals, always has. Probably why she got so caught up in that shit with the niños. But all these wolves were always wandering the city back then. Mothers kept a close eye on us, what with buildings always collapsing and everything sort of just crumbling, you know? But the wolves were everywhere and I remember watching her from my window as she walked up to a wolf. Starving and terrified, it bit at her. She pulled back her bleeding hand and held it, then licked the blood away and offered it to the wolf. It snapped at her again, because, you know, it’s a wolf, but instead of running away, she just let it bite, and that bite became a lick, and that lick became a hug. She just held that mangy fierce thing back in the gravepit behind the highrises we grew up in. For weeks she fed it and just held it. I don’t know why, but she never tried to play with it and the real thing is that she always did it in secret. If I was with her, she avoided the pit and just acted like she always did. But then I’d catch her from my window, holding that wolf.
J David Osborne, the man behind Broken River Books, just put out a weeklong submission window for 2015. While that’s a crazy long time from now, I’m going to shoot for it, which means a week full of writing. Going back into the old style, shooting for 5k words a day.
It’s going to be a peculiar novel. A noir set in a surreal place where it always rains at the center of a desert, inhabited by tiny white females who tattoo their skin and create masks out of dust when they hit puberty that they wear for the rest of their lives.
It’s gonna be strange and probably brutal, and it’ll be polyphonic magic realism, because that’s what always happens when I put words to page, but hopefully it’ll be something new and exciting and gnarly.
So this is for Michael and Kyle and for metal.
Long Arms and No Beard
The first time I heard the Sex Pistols I shaved my head and eyebrows. I thought it was important I stop looking like other people. I also threw my guitar away. I don’t think I’ll ever recover from hearing how awful those guys could make instruments sound. I was thirteen and music was ruined for me.
Metal. All I needed was metal. I stole a mixing board and tore out all the guitar of all the albums I ever listened to. Bass blasting beats into me, drums rattling my soul. No guitar.
There’s something about guitar I hate. I hate the way it whines. I hate strings. I hate strings and the way they weep. I need music to be brutal. To rattle and shake my soul. My heart. I want to hear my blood vessels disintegrate and hold on as my veins splinter and leak through my body. My lungs corrode and I explode.
When I grew a beard I shaved that too. I shaved every inch of my body. My brothers look like gorillas but I turned my skin to ink and shaved everything away, eradicating all the follicles. Fifteen and I was bald from toe to skull. No one would tattoo my skin so I stole lighters and pens and carved the words and images I wanted to live with forever into my own skin. It hurt like hell but now I have all my teenage heart etched seven layers deep.
After that I fled life. Picked up and ran away. My parents were cool about it, didn’t even file a report or look for me.
I went underground and took all the metal with me. I turned brutal and lean, fighting alligators for sport deep in the sewers and bowels of the city. I made an axe and cut the demons apart to a soundtrack of my own bloodbeats and it will forever on be known as metal. As the only metal that matters.
When I emerged, eighteen and brutal and hairless and inked so deep, I killed all the other bands claiming metal for their genre. I stole their souls and ate their necks. And then I murdered guitars. I murdered every last guitar on earth with my brutal growl and then I ate the strings of every instrument still balls enough to have them. Gone were orchestras and anything made of wood. I needed metal and I surrounded myself with drums.
But it wasn’t enough to have five drums pentagrammed around me. I needed to look still stranger, brutaler, metaler. I grew my arms longer. They stretched on and on until they passed my knees. And then my fingers grazed the ground and I knew I was ready.
I set the world on fire with my metal. My arms too long and the world burnt to fire with my metal. Every word I spoke and growled and yelled and sang was brutal. Reverberating through the air, splintering the sky, and shattering souls. I tore music apart and left only a mountain of metal.
A metal tempered by rage and my unending love of all that is brutal and dangerous.
I spit out snakes and drink fires. I swallowed the sky and pissed out the oceans now acidic and horrifying. You can smell the rot ot marine life as the blastbeats of my heart of my five drums always double pedalling, always raging, breaks all that is and was. I am music.
I am all that will ever be remembered.
I murdered the music of the past and ensured a stillborn future of song.
No one can stop me and my too long arms ripping sonic landscapes from the sky and future and past and replacing them with my metal mountain, brutal and jagged.
One day I’ll grow a beard and live on that mountain whittling guitars back into existence. When I’m ready I’ll accept Death and give you music back.
Because I didn’t post anything for the entire month of November, I never talked about these two great films I saw quite a while ago. Blue is the Warmest Color and 12 Years A Slave. Both are brilliant. Both made me cry. More than once.
Blue is the Warmest Color is a phenomenal film, but it’s also one of those films I wouldn’t recommend to anyone, mostly because most people don’t like the kind of films I like, and especially not films like this. It’s three hours long and very little happens. Like, seriously. It’s three hours of watching people live their life, beginning in high school. If that sounds boring to you, I’d like to say there’s more to it. And though there’s nothing more to it, there’s also so much more to it. It’s beautiful and perfect and just like life.
It follows Adele, a high school girl trying to discover love and what it means. We see her relationship with a boy, which becomes sexual but doesn’t last. Most of the reason is because Adele is a lesbian.
I don’t know. There’s so much to talk about with this film. It’s truly heartbreaking and beautiful and horrifying and completely reckless. It reminded me very much of life, and what love has been like for me, what life has been like for me.It’s garnered a great deal of controversy over its extended sex scenes. They didn’t seem odd to me at the time. For the many minutes the sex went on, I never thought it was strange for the scenes to be there, or for them to be so graphic. And they are graphic. Extremely so, and they’re apparently not authentic for sex between two women, but I guess I don’t care about that. I don’t care when heteronormative sex is depicted unrealistically. So, I mean, while so much of the film feels so real and authentic, this didn’t bother me. Though, I mean, I’m not a lesbian and so I don’t really know what authentic lesbian sex looks like.
But I know what love looks like. I know what love feels like. And this film captures it perfectly.
But it’s also brutal. It’s a brutal and horrifying love. It’s a perfect love that destroys you and it hurts everything inside you. It’s tragic, and then it just ends, with Adele walking away, full of so much pain and regret.
Expertly acted and brilliantly shot, I can’t think of a better film I saw this year.
But 12 Years A Slave might be up there. It’s brutal. LIke, in a hard to watch way. There were parts of Blue is the Warmest Color made me squirm in my seat and break my heart, but it’s very different. This is an existential horror and pain. Terrifying things happen in this film.
It’s Steve MxQueen so it’s brilliant, and the cast is just so perfect and they’re all such great actors, so it’s definitely a film you need to see. The thing about this, though, is that it’s quite different from Shame and Hunger. The style’s way pulled back here and while it’s just as unflinchingly brutal and intense, it’s definitely more marketable. If arthouse cinema had bestsellers, this would be McQueen’s mainstream breakout hit.
It’s a very straightforward film with a mostly linear narrative that’s very easy to follow and understand. But it makes you feel the pain and horror of slavery. The dehumanisation and brutality.
I don’t know. It’s perfect but it’s not easy to watch, but you need to watch it.
I suppose I could say a lot more. I should’ve written a real film review of each of these, but whatever.
Go see these films. They’re important and they’re absolutely brilliant.
This was rejected from a few places so I’ve decided to just throw it up here. It’s a transhuman love story.
A New Life
She was too young.
I remember feeling her hips against mine as music droned, the bass vibrating in and through us, your lips on my ear, your hair so tight against your head.
My hand on the glass encasing her body, she’s still so young and I’ve grown old, sagging in all the places I want to stay firm and perky.
I turn to Dr Kawabata, younger than me and he’s smiling. I open my mouth to speak but start crying.
Um, he clears his throat, shifts uncomfortably, and approaches, allowing me to hug him. His breath is hot on my ear, She’s going to be okay. We can bring her back.
I pull away, How?
He steps back and adjusts his glasses, We would need your permission, since she’s no next of kin. But that’s the benefit of paying for her to be here, right? He laughed, ending quickly with a cough because I didn’t. So, he wipes his mouth, The plague destroyed a lot of her internal organs. We can’t fix that, but we can give her synthetic ones. The same goes for her skeleton. Her bones are–well, it’s not good. The disease got into her marrow and she’d need it replaced. As you know, this isn’t really a possibility anymore. But her brain’s intact and she’ll still be the woman you knew back then. She’ll still be Samiah, and you’ll still be Jessica to her.
A weight drops in my stomach and tears river down my face, She won’t be human?
Dr Kawabata waves this away. What is human? She’ll be the same, but with different parts. If I have a heart transplant, do I become the heart, or does the heart become me? It’s not what’s inside you that matters, it’s what all those things make together.
Sweat paws at my back and goosebumps crawl over my skin, Is it safe?
Yes, he smiles, It’s perfectly safe, but it’s not exactly routine. It will take roughly a month for her to make the transition to the living.
It shouldn’t, but this reassures me. I don’t think I could accept it if he had told me they were bringing her back to life. I tell him okay.
Great! We’ll get started right away.
Doctor, what if–I’m old now. It’s been twenty years since she–
He raises a hand, Miss Ruiz, we can give you your youth back. If you want, we can make you look twenty again.
Electric, my skin on fire, I feel the burning of my cheeks as he walks away. Turning back to Sami, I whisper that we’ll be together soon and kiss the glass above her face.
You understand, Miss Ruiz, that this is only an aesthetic transformation. You will not actually be any younger. You are forty four and you’ll be forty four when you wake up, though you’ll look twenty. Surgery’s come a long way, but we can’t perform magic. You’ll still have all the pains and aches of a middle aged woman.
Dr Minkowski’s words cut through the fog of consciousness as I slip under.
In the blank oblivion I see us meeting again for the first time as children beneath the tree in my mother’s backyard. Before words like love turned romantic, before we taught each other how to kiss, before you lost your virginity to a man, and I fell in with punks and the slums, finding relief in music and petty crime. I saw your smile and then the day you died. Lying in your bed, gasping for life, too weak to even move. And then I see us together again, bodies entwined, so in love, finally. So deeply and perfectly together, the way we were before you became sick. You told me you loved me, do you remember? I remember. I remember every word and moment, but I’ll be old on the inside and you’ll be metal and synthetic.
And then there are muffled voices calling my name and I’m adrift in a sensationless ocean. A face appears above mine and it’s Dr Kawabata smiling. His words finally reach me and connect to meaning in my skull, How do you feel?
Immobile, I say.
He smiles, That’s temporary. You’ll have to be in here overnight to make sure your new skin takes hold properly, and we can’t have you moving around. In the morning we’ll run some tests with you walking around and so on. Make sure the skin’s flexible enough for you, and then we’ll make adjustments.
Doctor, I say and my chest tightens, breathing becomes a struggle.
Yes, Miss Ruiz?
I want you to fix the inside of me. Make me younger.
He shakes his head, I’m afraid we can’t do that. We can work to extend your life but nothing can make you younger. We’re made of meat, and meat decays.
What if you do for me what you do for her?
His smile fades and he stands straight, I can’t make a healthy person–I’m sorry, Miss Ruiz. We can discuss this tomorrow. You need sleep.
He moved out of the field of my vision and the sound of drawers opening and items jumbling around reaches me. I see him standing over me, and then darkness descends upon me again, and I fall into a void without thought or feeling.
How are you feeling, Miss Ruiz?
Dr Kawabata smiles over me and says, You should be able to move around now. Start slow. Just wiggle your toes and fingers. Good, that’s great. Okay, nurse, will you help her up?
The next hours consists of me walking, jumping, running, and doing various stretches. They don’t tell me why but I assume to make sure my skin doesn’t rip or limit my ability to move. At the end of the session Dr Kawabata tells me I’m free to go.
Doctor, I’d like to talk to you. About Samiah and me.
He sighs, and I follow him down corridors into his office. I begin to speak but he raises a hand, points to a seat. He closes the door, sits behind his desk, and plays at his screen for a few minutes. I flex my fingers and stare at the smoothness of my body, even the tiny dark hair follicles peering through my pores. I’m young again. The dream hits me and I bite back tears.
Okay, Dr Kawabata says, We can talk now.
What did you do?
I know what you want to talk about and I need to make sure no one knows that we discuss it. Miss Ruiz, this isn’t a simple request you’re going to be making of me and I don’t want it to exist. For either of us. You don’t know the legal and social ramifications of what you’re proposing.
I feel different. You said I wouldn’t be younger but I feel younger.
He smiles, Good. That’s psychological, but it should be enough. It is enough for almost everyone.
Won’t she feel different? Knowing that she’s not human beneath her skin?
He sighs and leans back in his chair, Life will be different for her, certainly, but there’s no reason to believe she won’t transition well to her new life. You’ll need to bring her up to speed on the changes that have happened during her decades resting.
He smiles, Think of her like Sleeping Beauty. She was only sleeping, waiting for the kiss to cure her.
Doctor, will she age?
His brow furrows and he chews on his lip, In a sense, yes. In another, no. She will acquire new memories and so on, but her physical body won’t degrade the way ours does.
Won’t that, like, what if she doesn’t want to live with someone like me? Someone biological, who decays and dies.
Miss Ruiz, that’s all hypothetical. Isn’t it enough that you can have her back?
I’m afraid. If she’s going to live potentially forever, I want to be with her. I want to live forever with her. I feel young now, but, as you say, it’s all psychological. Maybe tomorrow or the next day, I’ll return to my age. My body’s made of meat, and meat can’t lie. I’m halfway to death and she’s only just entered her twenties.
Miss Ruiz, I want to stop you right there. Miss Said’s brain is still organic matter. Her blood is still organic. Even her organs are mostly organic. She won’t live forever, but she will live much longer than you or me. However, her brain is still her original brain. As far as we know, our brains don’t hold up that well after several decades. She’s subject to degenerative brain diseases and the simple ravages of time. Her body can live a long time and her bones will remain long after all else fades, but her brain is still her brain. In sixty to eighty years, her brain will fade, and she’ll leave this world the way we all do.
I don’t want to miss those years with her. I want a body like hers. I–
Miss Ruiz, his voice flat, Without any medical need, we can’t just build you a new body. This is a hospital, not a factory. Miss Said is getting a body because she needs it in order to live. If this is unsatisfactory, you can wait for science to cure her organic material completely and then wake her up. It could be five or fifty years. I don’t know, but it will not be today. Maybe one day you’ll be able to request a new body. Maybe even next year, but, for now, you are stuck in your original organic body. Is that clear?
I will pay you three billion credits for a new body.
His face dances through half a dozen emotions before settling on anger, I am a doctor of medicine. I am not a mechanic. You don’t make demands for parts. You get sick, and I fix you, if I can.
I reach over the desk and take his hand, Yasu, I know you. I’ve known you since you first put on that labcoat. You’ve been a guest at my home and I’ve met your wife and children. I’m not asking you to turn me into a robot. I’m asking you to give me a future with the woman I love.
Sami, I love you. I’ll see you when you wake up. I’ll tell you everything then. I have so much to tell you. So very much. Yasu’s changed his mind. It’s not the money either. It’s something deep inside him. He needs to be the best. To be first. He called a few days after I came out of surgery and put the idea in his head. He couldn’t sleep. He’s obsessed. We’ve put your transition to waking life on hold because of this. An extra year asleep while we sort this out. I’m sorry about that, but I need our reunion to be perfect. I don’t want you to see an old woman staring back at you.
Sleep well, dear angel. You must sleep a bit longer than we had agreed, but in six months you’ll be alive again, and I’ll be waiting.
Open your eyes. Jessica, it’s time.
Dr Kawabata stares down at me, stubble patches over his jaw and bags hang beneath his eyes. Hey, I say and my voice sounds like me.
How do you feel? his voice is husky, as if he hasn’t slept in a long time.
I feel fine. You look terrible, Yasu.
He smiles, And you look like you. Try standing.
My body light, I move easier than I have in a long time. We test my running, jumping, flexibility. I feel young again, able to do the splits, even. Yasu watches me and takes notes. The nurses don’t say anything and refuse to look at me, but they do what Yasu needs them to do. My skin is smooth and beautiful, but now I feel it beneath as well.
I’m ready, I say. I want to see Sami.
Yasu nods and yawns, You’re perfect now. But we should talk first.
He warns me again about how I’ll age and die internally, how my brain won’t last forever, and he talks on and on about the future of this technology and what this experiment may mean for humanity, but all I can think of is Sami’s smile when she opens her eyes for the first time in twenty years to see me, unchanged. She beat death and I beat time, and together we’ll redefine life.
Sami, it’s me. Can you hear me? You’ve been asleep a long time. A very long time. Open your eyes, Sami. It’s me, Jess.
Her cheek so smooth and soft, she opens her dark eyes and blinks many times, adjusting to sight and light. Jess?
Her voice, sweet and delicate, a smile erupts over my face and tears break free, Sami, you’re awake.
I nod, vigorously, You’re alive.
I hug her and her scent fills me. Not the antiseptic stench of hospitals or the plastic scent I expect from her new body, but the smell she always carried. Sami’s smell.
I feel weird, she says.
I kiss her forehead, It’ll pass. You’ve been asleep a long time. You need to rest now and the doctors will run tests, but we’ll talk after.
Exiting her room, I keep looking back, my heart racing as I leave her with Yasu and his nurses who still don’t look at me.
Several hours drudge by as I wait for Sami. Reading a book that I can’t pay attention to, I wait and wait, hoping she’ll come around the corner at any moment and when she does, I leap up and rush to her side.
Pensive and quiet, she walks beside me. Faint and weak, I ask her if she’s okay.
I’m fine, she says and we take the bus back to my home. She stares out the windows as we traverse the city. Sometimes she stares at my face and touches my skin or stares at the people on the bus. They smile at her and ask where she’s from but she ignores them and returns to the window, to the scenery of our new world passing by.
Inside I begin cooking but Sami doesn’t look at me. She wanders my home, touching the many surfaces before stopping in front of the porch and staring out. Behind my house, a garden rolls over grass to a forest. Above the trees, the sun blushes and the earth rolls away, the trees rising to occlude day.
Mechanically, she eats dinner.
How is it?
She pushes her food around the plate and drops her fork, The doctors said I was out for twenty years. I didn’t believe them until we got on that bus. Where is everyone?
I put down my fork and drink some water, Sami, there was a plague. It started in the 20th century. Remember all those biology lessons about antibiotics? It turns out our professors were right. By discovering penicillin, humanity sowed its own greatest threat. Antibiotics spread and multiplied, becoming so common and so widely used that they even pumped their food full of it. Hearts in the right place, their brains and science dragged behind, and by the time we discovered how quickly bacteria mutated and evolved, our greatest armor against them became more and more useless. A hundred years ago, the plague would’ve been nothing, but here, in our fragile new world, the simple sickness transformed and evolved and tore through humanity. Billions of people dying.
How many? still she keeps her eyes down, on her hands.
Five and a half billion.
She nods and eats.
After dinner she goes to her room and locks the door behind her.
She sits in the grass of the backyard, digging her fingers into the earth.
How are you today?
She still doesn’t look at me, I smell weird. I don’t smell like myself. I don’t feel like myself.
Lightning splinters my spine, It’ll take you some time to get used to life again. You’ve been asleep a long time.
So you keep saying.
I sit beside her and talk about the clouds and the wind but she only asks me why the nurses wouldn’t look at her or call her by name at the hospital.
The day passes slow and lonely. She walks through the forest and around the house, touching things, smelling them, tasting them. When it gets dark, she goes to her room and locks the door.
She spends the entire next day in her room and only speaks in monosyllables through the door.
I turn on the shower, sit on the toilet and cry for most of the day. I make sure I can see her room from wherever I go in the house, and I spend two hours pressed against her wall, silently begging for her to return to me. Sami, my Sami.
She eats eggs without looking up at me or thanking me. Coffee and orange juice and toast and I become her servant.
Why did I survive?
I cough, my stomach dropping a thousand feet through the earth, Sami, look at me.
She raises her eyes.
Even in this new body, anxiety and fear and pain run through me and I say, I had the money to keep you alive, so I did. I kept you alive until we could bring you back.
Why are you still young?
Because I chose to be. Because you’re still the age you were when you got sick, and I didn’t want to meet you as an old woman.
Twenty years doesn’t make you old, her voice flat.
It’s twice your age.
No, I’m forty five. I’ve just been trapped in my twenties.
It’s selfish. Billions of people die and you kept me alive, in youth. You’re selfish, Jess. You made yourself young out of selfishness. You kept me alive out of selfishness. What if I wanted to die? Why are there no people in the city still? When did the plague end?
I fight through the pain of her words and tell myself she’s just frustrated by missing decades of her life, The plague’s not really over.
But you said I was cured.
Inhaling deep and exhaling slow, We have to keep cities sparsely populated. The plague is very communicable and it spreads quickly, deathly. If there’s an outbreak, keeping the population density low helps us protect the species from extinction. It’s a biological imperative. There are no more concerts or sporting events like you remember. No international events with people from all over the world packed together. Kids growing up now will never know what it’s like to dance in a nightclub or fight in a moshpit or cheer for their country to beat another at a silly game.
You’ve woken me up to a nightmare. A dead and dying world.
I reach across the table but she leans away in her chair, I brought you back to be with you. I love you, Sami. I’ve never stopped loving you.
She stares at me, boring through my skin and titanium skull, I don’t even know you. The girl I knew has lived through a cataclysm. You probably don’t even remember me as I was. You’ve kept watch over my lifeless body all this time. That’s what it was, wasn’t it? Just a body. I died. I died a long time ago and you–
No, I screamed and ran to her but she jumped away. My voice weak and cracked, Sami, I brought you back–
How? There’s no cure, so how?
Sami, I say as the weight of the last twenty years drags me under a pestilent ocean.
Did I die?
I shake my head, tears running down my face, I built a new body for you.
Her eyes open wide, What does that mean? her voice sharp and painful, piercing me through a thousand times. With every word, I feel the world slipping away from me.
There was no cure, but we could make you a new body, so I did. I built you a new life. A new body for a new world. You’ll never be sick again. You’ll never have to worry about anything. You’re better.
Slowly, she sinks to the wood of my floor. Her legs give out and she collapses. Her voice weak, I feel dizzy. I feel so weird.
Rushing to her, she bats my hands away and demands I not touch her.
You did this, she says. Her eyes are wide and dart back and forth. You did this to me. You changed me. You built me a body. I’m not even real anymore. I died. And now I’m dead and walking and talking.
Sami, your body is synthetic but it’s still you. Life isn’t about what’s inside your body but about what all those parts make.
She scowls and focuses on my face, I am my body! I was, anyway.
She pushes me away again and stands, her voice quiet, I want to know what you did to me. What that doctor did to me.
I call her name but she keeps walking so I chase her and she strikes me, pushes me away, screams, and keeps walking.
Weeks without her, I’ve peeled away my skin. Beneath my skin is a new world. A new life. Mechanical and beautiful. I watch the pulsing of my organs, the beating of my heart. My body, better than meat. I pull out my synthetic hair and my acrylic nails. I take my skin, hair, and nails and burn them on a pyre in my backyard. The forest calls and I walk. I walk until the canopy protects me, and I walk on, past rivers and animals, through birdsongs and swarms of bees. I find more rivers and follow them out of forests to plains immense, through storms and deserts. I find mountains and climb. The snow surrounds me and I watch the sun tumbling over the horizon, the light dying in the sky. I sit in the lotus position and watch the world roll over. I dream of Sami and hope she’s okay. I hope she chooses to live, even if she must live an artificial and synthetic life. I imagine her meeting a man, a handsome one. Maybe he doesn’t know what she is, and maybe he’ll never know. Or maybe he does and he loves her anyway.
The sky’s beautiful at night up above the world. I remember the sky of my youth, the way the lights of the cities turned it into an inky blueblack fabric spread over the world. Now, there are so few lights across the world that the sky’s taken them all. Rivers of stars wind above and beyond me. I see my name written there and find the silhouette of my face painted deep and far away.
I think I’ll stay here.
Been a while since I posted a story and I still owe the world six more. I may try to pump those out this week. I’ve actually written closer to sixty stories this year, but I think I’m still going to be sending the others around for a while and hope they find a home in publishing land.
But maybe I’ll just post them here. Who’s to say!
Anyrate, this one was going to be for the Unstuck flash fiction contest, but I ended up choosing another.
The Word for World is Whale
I was born in the belly of the whale that is the world but I’ve lived forever watching your worlds fall apart one biting typhoon at a time. I remember the first time you died here while I watched.
A cathedral! A cathedral in the belly of this mountainous whale!
The way you screamed and cried, it’s no wonder my mother and father chopped you to pieces and threw you down below, not even willing to touch their lips to your body housing your decayed mind. It was the last thing you said, right before your head fell to the acid ocean we float over: I shall have my revenge, even if I must die a thousand times staring at this cathedral of flesh and bone!
I was only a child then and you were only a pirate then with dirty hands and foul tongue. You swashbuckled your way into the whale that is the world and only you survived, the rest of your crew gnashed to bits with the splinters of your wooden world. We smelt you people for weeks bubbling below.
I believe time works differently in the worlds you wander through because it was years before I met you again, your gaunt face bloodied and toothless this time. Still just a girl, I tugged on my braid as mother flayed you while you stared at the acid ocean. I know you didn’t know it then, but we all remembered you. We never believed you’d dare return but we knew you wandered those distant worlds beyond us. If I could go back then, I would’ve taken your hand and kissed your cheek, told you that revenge is not what you want out of eternity.
I imagine you would’ve only struck me, or spit at me. We’re both lucky that wasn’t the case, to be honest.
But you cursed us again, promised we’d meet our ends at your blade in another life.
In just a few short years you appeared again, this time not a filthy pirate but an ambassador of sorts. Clean and proper and shaved, doused with alien scents so caustic to us whalers. Prepared, you caught us off guard and nearly skewered mother before father impaled you from anus to lips. I believe he did it to keep you from voicing your horrible promise, but you screamed it out before your mouth filled with wooden spike.
Over the course of my century life, I have seen you die a thousand times. It’s tiresome, really. Completely unnecessary and foolish on your part. You live over and over only to die in an alien world amongst the loneliest creatures in the multiverse.
It’s always only been me, mother, and father. I feel odd admitting it, but during my teenage years I dreamt of you often, your skin whole and clean, your eyes piercing and fiendish. I found you beautiful until the day mother succumbed to your blade.
That was the worst of your many Deaths, I believe. Father loved mother dearly and it was a slow and meticulous process watching your body dismembered but kept alive to watch yourself rot on skewers. If it weren’t for the burial rites of my mother, I might have even felt bad for you.
Do you remember? I always wondered that, if you remembered your many Deaths, or if it was the dying promises that sealed your fate to return always here to die again, alone, with only me to watch you, no one to mourn you.
While you died on those many skewers you talked until you could talk no more and Death took you. You spent too much time detailing your revenge, but between that you talked of your world and your life there. It sounded so beautiful and amazing. A world full of people expanding in all directions until you found yourself at the place you began your journey. A world not encased by the bones of the god that is the world, but one open and free and colorful above you. It sounded like a dream and I wouldn’t have believed you had you not been dying so gruesomely. You spoke of love and women and even men. The light in your eyes and the way it faded, I fell in love with you once more, and when no one was looking I sang to your severed ears and held onto your abandoned hands.
A hundred more versions of your Death and my infatuation till you murdered father like a savage and drank his blood. The rage took me and I relived the many Deaths I learnt from mother and father.
For the last eighty years I have murdered you in every conceivable way, but now you’re here again, bound and burning. Your spine shattered, your limbs splintered, I will eat you tonight for the first time, but this is also the last time I will kill you.
You see, I forgive you. I forgive you for dying so often and so unrelentingly for my entire life. You’ve given me quite a complex and I can’t imagine a life without your bloodied corpse in all my dreams. You’ve tortured me, with your stubbornness, your foolish and ill conceived revenges.
I’ll ungag you now so you can say whatever it is you have to say, but I hope you’ll not promise my Death and your revenge again. Otherwise this shall go on forever, and I have no intention of living for your Death. Now, before you speak, remember these three things:
Be kind. I forgive you. I even loved you once.
Go ahead. Speak.
In under twelve hours, the indiegogo campaign has raised $1,000! That’s absolutely insane to me.
Nate and I were even talking this morning, wondering if we’d break $100. I can’t even begin to say how amazed and honored and proud. You beautiful people mean the world to me and I thank you.
I’ll be thanking you for every dollar, and probably every day next year.
I’d offer you all a beer, but I’d need another campaign to fund it. Just know that I love you.
Lots to update everyone on. I’ll start out with posting the interviews I’ve published in the last month:
Can’t believe it’s been so long since I updated, especially since I planned on doing it every day during November.
Anyrate, as many of you know, I’ve been defrauded. Nate Tower and so many others have helped me organise a very cool campaign to try to recoup my losses. I’m out $2,000 and I’ll write a proper post about the whole thing later. Maybe this weekend. But, for now, just check out the indiegogo campaign.
So check out The Revenge of the Scammed Anthology.
More than just helping me recoup my losses, it’s full of very cool content. The Anthology is going to be killer and then people like Ryan W Bradley, Charles Spitzack, J David Osborne, and so many others are providing amazing things for backers.
Here’s a list of the anthology contributors:
- Jesus Angel Garcia
- David S. Atkinson
- Allie Marini Batts
- Ryan W Bradley
- Paul D Brazil
- Darlene Campos
- Garrett Cook
- Sandy Barrett Ebner
- Rory Fleming
- Susan Gibb
- Michael Gonzalez
- Amanda Gowin
- Douglas Hackle
- Sally Heymann
- Don Lawson
- William Lemon
- h. l. nelson
- J David Osborne
- Alex Pruteanu
- Stephen V Ramey
- Matt Rowan
- Robyn Ryle
- Michael J. Seidlinger
- Grergory Sherl
- Ryan Shoemaker
- Sam Snoek-Brown
- Ben Tanzer
- Susan Tepper
- Refe Tuma
- Richard Thomas
- Nathaniel Tower
- Robert Vaughan
And, if you’re a fan of me doing things, there are all sorts of things I’m personally offering, such as my first novel, Ash Cinema, drawings, paintings, videos of me singing, personal biographies and novellas, and even my editing skills.
So, for this holiday season, help a poor wild ydde out and he’ll repay you in content!
It really means so much to me that this has been put together. I can’t explain how grateful I am and I’ll never be able to thank everyone enough.
So just know I love you and appreciate all you’ve ever done for me.
I’ve decided not to do what I said I would do yesterday. Rather than do a gimmick to make myself write, I’m just going to actually buckle down and write, without worrying about a daily quota or putting stuff on here. I can maybe do that experiment another time, but, for now, I’m just going to write.
More freelancing work is coming in, which is great. Should make about $400 this weekend, depending on how things go. Maybe even more than that.
But, whatever. I’m hoping to finally finish two different novel[la]s that have been in limbo for over two years, and then hopefully get an entire novel written and submitted before the end of the year.
I’ll keep you dummies updated. I’m going to try to finish my year in stories this month, which means throwing six more stories on here.
So stay posted and expect more soon.
Back to work.
The last time I had stories published was last Halloween. Three stories published the same week and nothing since. I guess I’m glad I decided to start submitting stories again.
I just put all the stories I’ve written than I want published in the same word document and it’s somehow over 500 pages. Probably time to start sending these things out. There’s probably another hundred pages of stories I’m hoping will never see the light of day, though.
I have potential plans for November. I think I’m going to try to post every day, and what I’ll be posting is whatever I write, fictionwise, but it’ll probably be some sort of novel[la], or whatever. We’ll see how it goes.
It’s Halloween but I don’t really care that much. Submitted two chapbooks in the last twelve hours, one poetry and one fiction. Made about twenty submissions late last night/early this morning to big famous magazines that pay you real live money for stories they accept.
I’ll probably just spend the night working. I don’t really like drinking that much, I don’t think. Or, I don’t mind it, but I hate not being able to work.
For someone accused of being lazy so often, I sure do work a lot.
Anyrate: fear !
She’s amazing and be sure to check out her site.
Wrote about 20,000 words of short stories this last week and I’m working on getting them all in final form, which I think I completed this morning. Doing a bunch of submissions tonight, probably. Also got an email from China Mieville telling me he can’t blurb my book but he’ll be looking for it when it comes out, which is pretty cool news. Also got an email from a publisher interested in the poetry collection I wrote earlier this month, which is pretty nifty. Hopefully it works out.
Going to try to write a poetry chapbook right now, hopefully have it ready for tomorrow.
What else? Oh, some good stuff on the freelancing front, but I did a bunch of edits for this novel I’m working on, and for whatever reason they didn’t save properly in the file, so I need to restart. And editing something twice is the opposite of fun. But, that’s the job. Should work out fine, but now I’m on a quicker deadline than expected.
Also, digitally going to Blizzcon next weekend to write about Heroes of the Storm.
Anyrate, Chelsea’s birthday went well and I go to see her in a few hours.
Another story. Wrote this a few days ago, submitted it, and already got rejected! And since they didn’t want it, and it was meant for them, I’ve decided to make it for all of us.
Writing more wikipages for the freelancing gig. There’s something kind of pleasant about doing this kind of work. Oh, I also got another book editing job, and am always looking for more. So if you need a book edited, I’m your man. I’ll do it for a good price, too.
Anyrate, this is a story made of three sentences. It’s quite short, too.
I dreamt of homes for all of us
She opened her mouth and fell into the ocean where she fell into the house beneath the waves and in the house she found a bookcase full of books full of words slipping from the pages carried away by the current of the ocean by the schools of fish moving as one in symmetry and as the words slipped off the page to float amongst the sealife she swallowed hard and the ocean filled her lungs and when they were full she read aloud the words swimming away until she closed the book and with it her eyes.
Behind her eyes rose words she had not read colored red that did not swim but flew through sky catching birds catching clouds reaching higher to rest amongst stars where the red turned to bright and the words of ink transformed to constellations writ in galactic calligraphy for all to see so far below with her breathing water in the house beneath the waves of the ocean stretching wide.
Vibrations through the water reached her though the door of the house beneath the waves was closed and locked and made of unrotted wood and the windows of glass held strong and stayed closed but the molecules of water shivered and she along with them shivered being one with the ocean round her and so she opened the book to find the draft and she watched the words slip from the page and float away with the fishes swimming as one though they were many but she did not see where they exited or how but only saw them through the glass of the windows as they disappeared against the surface where fishermen or birds picked them up and made them whole by tying them to different pages with needles and thread and so when the next word slipped off the page she took it in her hand and held on as it tugged her away from where she sat in the house beneath the waves and in the journey she found the walls did not hold words captive but let them through and she too and when she met the surface she found that it was not a barrier but an invitation to the world beyond and in the sky floating high she looked down and thought of the mother she never knew as she entered a new home and wrote a name cursive in the stars
I’ve written seven or so short stories this week, most of them about robots, which I might make into a chapbook of robotness later. I’m trying to get a bunch of work done before these submission deadlines to some paying markets. I mean, there’s no problem if they don’t get accepted, but it would be nice to get paid money for some of these things.
Look at me, a horrible capitalist! But I figure it’s better than working for the Man.
Anyrate, if all the stories I’ve written get rejected, I’ll post them on here. This is a story I wrote today that I decided wasn’t right for the places I’m submitting to. It’s quite short and magical. Maybe it’s about acceptance?
Fire Fire Fire
When the fire woke and stepped from the chimney I knew it was going to be a strange day. The house caught fire and it was snowing outside, sizzling against the fire’s flames licking at night.
The sirens blared and flashing lights approached while people screamed at the sight of the fire standing beside me. It was a small fire, only reaching up to my waist, and it didn’t really look human, but it had limbs. Fiery limbs with flames reaching upward, when I stared I almost thought I saw a face but before I could really get a proper look, it walked away, leaving wet tracks in the snow.
Muddy tracks through the snow, it was quite easy to follow, even if it hadn’t been a walking fire.
Well, needless to say it was drawn to things that burnt. It seemed to shrink as we walked through the snow. So it burnt down the whole town.
Lots of families lost their homes, and some lost children or parents. I don’t think the fire was vindictive, it just wanted to survive. I don’t think it’s our fault either. I mean, we had to live somewhere, yeah? It’s just our houses were flammable and the fire was struggling through the wet.
I can’t really explain why, but I protected the fire. We hid for a long time and waited for the snow to pass, the police and searchers to go away. Screams filled the night and I fed the fire logs. I was hungry but I figured we’d find food somewhere, sometime.
The face in the flames was my sister’s but she wasn’t dead. I hadn’t seen her in a few years but I knew she still lived and I knew she wasn’t a fire wandering around ruining Christmas for the whole town.
We sat there for a long time and it kept me warm through the winter.
It died out a long time ago, while I slept. It didn’t cry out or make a fuss. It just went out. I can almost see the sad eyes of my sister watching me sleep, watching over my dreams and life.
And we celebrated Chelsea and Viviana’s birthdays. Viviana’s my new sister in law and she’s amazing and I’ve never seen my brother so happy as the day they were married, and every day they have together. I could probably write about my brother a lot, though I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned him on here. I could write books about him.
Anyrate, the world sleeps and I dream alive listening to From the Art of Mirrors by Max Richter, which is the most perfect sound available to ears. Chelsea and I watched a documentary tonight that makes me want to write the philosophy book I’ve been thinking about writing for the last couple months. Or maybe it’s the opposite of philosophy, as if that means something.
Interview with Joe Hall is up at Monkeybicycle and he answers questions awesomely. I’m writing lots of stories about robots, but really they’re all about the same robot, though they stretch across time and genre. There are a bunch of magazines that have deadlines for the end of the month and I want to submit something to all of them. Little did I know they’d all be about robots. It’s fun though. Hopefully one or eight of them will pay me money.
What else? Oh, shadowdancing:
my body a leaf
yellowing & hanging loose
i’ll meet earth soon
Watching AdventureTime, working on different things. I need to write a bunch of stories before the end of the month in order to qualify for paying markets. Did I mention that? I decided only to submit to paying places, for the most part. There are loads of calls for submission every month for themed issues of things, and I figure I’ll just throw as many stories at as many different markets as I can until I start making money.
Also, looking for a part time job, which is going not the best, though I do have an interview on Monday for an Admin spot on a writing website, which will pay. I figure if I can get just 40 hours a month out of that, I’ll be able to cover my expenses, and any freelance work will only add on top of that.
But, yeah, gonna work on some writing this weekend. Still owe J David Osborne a novel, which I really really really need to finish.
So it goes.
When I was young we dreamt so large, so loud. There were nights I couldn’t sleep, what with the racket of us all dreaming at once. There’d be wolves howling, cats meowing, and mothers and fathers loving us. That’s what we dreamt mostly, and it’s what we dreamt loudest. Sometimes we dreamt so loud and so large that it spilt into the hallway and down the stairs to Madame’s room or wrapped round the orphanage to her window and she’d be accosted by the dreams of all us lonely kids drunk on hope.
She’d barrel in and wash us out, get us to stop dreaming of Dust and start cleaning it up. That’s what she called dreams: Dust. I never really got it but it gave me a complex. I guess that’s the best way to say it. I got a complex for Dust and while the other kids were all off cleaning it up and washing it away, I was sneaking off through the loudest nights to play with it in the halflight of the slivered moon fractured. That archipelago of moonDust catching light in the sky was one thing and it made me think of others, like maybe how this Dust in this orphanage I was accidentally trapped in was a distant cousin of that lit up far away Dust.
I’d make sure the light was catching just right and the shadows weren’t too thick and I’d set to whipping up the Dust. Like writing galaxies in the sky, I watched the Dust dance through night and halflight while those loud dreams kept everyone else busy.
In the Dust I saw things I can’t so much find the words for. Best way to say it, I guess, is that they were dreams comes real. But Dust is still just Dust, even when you arrange it so to sing like a symphony amongst the clamoring dreams of too many orphans.
That’s war for you, yeah? Some of us were probably left and unwanted but many more of us were just the unfortunate sons and daughters of people accidentally caught by bullets and bombs. Such is the world, I guess.
What I found after years of studying and collecting and playing with Dust is that the world’s malleable, just like a load of fragments cast about. If you rearrange them just so, you can make something new. Doesn’t matter if they’re Dust particles or stars or too loud dreams, or even people on the street. If you arrange it all right, you can make something real come of it. A composer turns wood and wind to sound and beauty, traffic lights turn mechanical contraptions into traffic and progress, and me with my Dust and dreams caught real built miniature realities unattached to what others perceive existence to be.
I stopped dreaming like the others. No one really knew because it was always so loud at night it was hard to tell whose dreams were shrieking loudest. But the decibels of my dreams got muffled ever since I caught Dust in my lungs and heard voices.
I made a new world with all those bits of Dust. I’d take them in my lungs, deep down, and try my best not to sneeze or cough or puke it all up. Sometimes I failed and I’d get this malformed monstrous blob that sent the rest of my tiny world into havoc, but, if I got it right, I had little Dust men and little dust women, and they made little Dust babies, even without me swallowing and bringing back Dust.
By the time I was fourteen and the orphanage was crumbling to pieces, I had built an entire world and watched as its civilisation grew and evolved. I had so many dreams for it, but the lives they made and developed for themselves were better than anything I ever could’ve made for them.
I was proud. You wouldn’t believe the kind of pride that comes with inventing a cosmos that you’re the accidental center of. After a while, I barely even had to do anything. Better than the best movie I ever saw, my little world of Dust grew big with life.
And then one day they turned to me and saw. They saw me and spoke to me. I could understand them because I saw this all come to being, but I couldn’t really speak it. Dust doesn’t talk the way we would. But I showed them my answers, drew it in their stars and skies.
It was the first time anything ever worshiped me and I wept watching my creation find their god.
And then the war returned home and the orphanage came crashing down. We all got outside, even Madame. Our dreaming may be loud, but bombs are louder and we set to fleeing the second we felt the ground shake and the earth break. But I couldn’t get to my little big world, and though I searched for them for weeks amongst the rubble, breaking my fingers and weeping smoke, I never found the reality I built from orphaned Dust and dreams that yelled.
Mostly us orphans stick together here in the military. We know we’ll die before this is all gone and our dreams are still loud, but the hope’s been lost. It’s more shrieking dreams these days, but we all keep something dear deep inside of us, for when we die.
When I die they’ll find my Dust, and then I’ll join them to say I’m sorry.
My stories I wrote the other day, so I’ll post them up today and tomorrow. Also, today marks the eighteenth month Chelsea and I have been together. Hard to believe we’ve been together so long, that love lasts this way. It’s something I’ve never really experienced before. I’m going to make her her favorite meal tonight: Juicy Lucy.
But, yes, a story today that’s pretty surreal and sort of crazy, but I dig it.
Oh, also, I finished that YA novella yesterday, which isn’t so much a novella as a long short story. Probably going to selfpublish it once some eyes that aren’t mine run over it and I can rustle up a blurb. From there I’ll probably turn it into a series.
When the storm came Hālig spread his arms before the last tree on earth, the sleeves of his robes falling to his elbows, the rain battering his face, but still the humans watched, rapt. When the lightning struck the gynoids captured it in their phosphorescent nets and redirected it to Hālig, striking him in the chest and creating a sustained low energy bolt between them. He spoke, his voice rasped and wavering, and before he finished one minute of electrelocution, the bolt bent him backwards, his hands clutching his chest. The rain whipped through the crowd and their robes hung heavy through the storm. The bold fizzled out and Hālig collapsed to one knee and hand, gasping. Heaving, nothing came and the crowd panicked, corralled by the gynoids. He pulled down his hood and his face began to tear at the seams of his mouth. His neck expanded and he opened his mouth as if to scream but an arm came out, glittering in blackness. Screams erupted from the humans and their bodies became the storm, battering against the automaton shore. The hand reached from his mouth and ripped at his face, tearing skin away and then his mouth split to his neck and a hairless head emerged, followed by another arm and then a female body blacker than night, but shimmering like distant stars. The body kicked away the husk of Hālig and spoke through the tumult of human bodies crashing through the biomechanical barrier.
Its voice was a roar and its words clanged against the raindrops, surrounding the humans, suffocating them with oppressive sonic entanglement. The body spoke and the humans shattered the gynoids at the foot of the millennia altar. The humans rushed the body, surrounding it, but the voice spoke on, ripping through spaceTime and skin, weaving in their bodies, their cells, their atoms and rewriting them subatomically until their violent hands turned to carresses, their bloodlust to adoration. The body opened itself to their hands and their lust and filled them with hope.
When the storm passed the tangled naked bodies of humans writhed round the body whose voice turned them to a swarm. When all their energy was spent, they slept, and the body with the voice like nothing and nowhere whispered into their dreams, placing a hand on each of the human bodies. It climbed the tree, its blackness terrifying and beautiful in the dawnlight. Squatting, it laid an egg, enormous and black as oil. Lifting the egg above its head, it called to the humans and they all woke to the sight of a new god rising black and glorious above them. It threw down the egg and it shattered in light, washing color from the humans and leaving them pale and white and nude.
The humans turned then to the enormous walls of the City. With each step they sewed a future of silence, a future to resemble the forgotten past. From the boughs of the tree, the new god watched the walls tumble down, the buildings corrode and crumble, the raining down of satellites and the world washed new with fire and dust. And then the storms that stretched for decades and centuries until the fallout deserts sprouted green and the last tree on earth found children again.
Another story, the fourth of the day, and also the shortest one. Maybe I’ll share the other ones later if they get rejected. That’s right! I submitted a few stories today, something I basically never do.
But, yeah, it’s Monday. I’m tired.
Ten more short stories after this and I’ll be done for the year with this strange writing experiment I began over ten months ago.
Snow falling, the river yet flows. I want to feel the taste of dirt in my mouth again. I walked between the snowflakes and filled my lungs with water just to see the bottom of the ocean. At the bottom of the ocean I find a new ocean that opened up and as I drank in that new ocean I made a desert. Belching the new ocean gone into the sky I watched the whale fly into the vast empty sky.
The desert now spread everywhere, I find the bones of humans and the bones of birds. When I look up I see nothing but when I look down I see their shadows. The shadows of humans with wings and they circle me. Only shadows. There are only shadows here.
Walking through the desert I find that the world here is made of glass. It’s made of glass and now that their ocean is lost to sky there’s only heat here. My feet scald against the glass of their world and the shadows hunt me, circling closer and closer.
There’s nothing here, only glass and hot and shadows. This world cracks open and I peer inside. Through the rift in worlds I see my homeworld, the sky above it. Then the shrieking howl of shadows. I feel their claws, their teeth, but I see nothing, and I see no damage done to my body.
When I close my eyes I see their horrible faces eating me alive, their bloody claws digging into my flesh, and I see my entire life ending in this world not mine.
I return to the rift and see my homeworld again but no way to get back there. I try to climb down but the space home is too small. I chew on the glass world and swallow it down but no matter how much I eat I’m still stuck in this foreign world.
Stuck, I wander the glass and sometimes I see the ocean I threw into sky swirling round like a hurricane.
It never rains here.
Through the rift I see my husband remarry, my child grow old calling another woman mother. I no longer wander, but live at the edge of the rift, watching the lie I made decay. The shadows continue to eat me but my body remains and they eat and they eat and I live forever in this all wrong world.
I miss the snow. I miss the rivers. I miss the taste of ocean and dirt in my mouth.
Made a lot of contacts at the Twin Cities Book Festival, but, more than that, it was just a great time. But, yeah, hopefully even a job’s going to come out of that. Met some organisations to make this freelancing thing really viable, learnt how to teach creative writing right here in Minneapolis, and how to be an adult education teacher right down the street.
One of the best parts of the Festival was Ytasha L Womack’s talk on afrofuturism. ‘Race is a technology.’ Man, hearing that, it was like my brain melted. So very interesting and an awesome way to contextualise that.
Completed a freelance job last night by writing this site for Warmachine: Tactics and also helped out on the Rimworld wikia site, which looks like an amazing game, one I may even buy. Got a few other things in the works, but if I could just focus on writing wikis I could make a living that ain’t so bad.
Anyrate, what else? Found some publishers who may be interested in some work, even one who may be interested in the Call to Artists stuff. I’m very excited today, and I had the great pleasure of reading For All These Wretched, Beautiful & Insignificant Things So Uselessly & Carelessly Destroyed by Hosho McCreesh this morning. What a perfect book to start the day. Probably perfect for any time of day, but it felt so good to have that in me right after I woke up.
Probably other things. Going to keep hustling for work, start looking for a local part time job, and get involved in all sorts of other thing. And, of course, write.