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Monthly Archives: August 2011

But you know something? There it is. Look up there. ^ That way, at the top of the page. –>

That’s right. Microfiction page is established. Thanks, insomnia!

I’m getting ready to say goodbye to my home for the last year. Since I started college, this has been the longest I’ve ever lived in any one place. Granted, I lived on campus for four years, but there was always shuffling around from one side of campus to another, usually after nine months, and then again after three. This time I’ve actually managed to spend a full calendar year in one apartment. It’s absolutely bizarre.

I’m torn on the whole moving thing. I like solidarity, or at least, I did. I blame living in the same damn room for the first nineteen years of my life. Now I’m staring at a two day period in which I can pack up my stuff from my first real off-campus home. Naturally, I am choosing to write something at the moment instead of actually packing. This doesn’t surprise me. I’m guess that maybe I’m waiting for last-minute panic to sink in. My walls are bare. That’s a start.

I can’t wait to get a fresh start in a new home. I can’t wait to find my footing. I can’t wait to be able to set up my makeshift desk and get to writing. I’ll keep you informed. In the meantime, I’m knee-deep in George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. I’m loving it so far. It’s some of the best fantasy I’ve read in a long time. I’m also still, as always, pondering the questions that are shaping Aurellis as a world, and the people who inhabit it. Of late, there is one pressing question. Who is Rhu? I’m not sure yet. I don’t know any details about Rhu, or who he or she may be, but I feel that, regardless of these questions, Rhu is important.

Here it is, boys and girls! I’m ahead of schedule with this one, and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. That’s right, it’s time for the August Writing Challenge entry! Thanks to Sonia over at Doing the Write Thing for this month’s challenge prompt. This month, Sonia asked us to write a 500 word short story about doorways. It’s a little bit “Adjustment Bureau” and a little bit “Monsters Inc.”, and was a blast to write. Maybe I’ll tie it in to my May entry, “Fiction or Non?” just for kicks. Anyway, here goes. Bonus points to anyone who knows where the title comes from without googling it. 😀

“A Ball of Light in One’s Hand”

Damien gasped for breath as he ran across the temple’s cool, slick marble floor. He didn’t know where he was, or when, but he knew he was being pursued. He knew why. When he saw the tall woman, he sensed maliciousness, and he had fled through the nearest door. She followed.

Where had this all started? The bookshop, he thought to himself, careening around a corner through a stone door into a dimly lit log cabin. The snow outside the window hinted at a northern climate, far from his home, far from the room he’d just exited. He paused for a moment while the rest of his body caught up to his racing heartbeat before he moved to the nearest door. His raven hair surged behind him as a gust of wind greeted him, and he rushed through the portal into the unknown beyond.

He blinked. Bright desert sun shone down on him, and the smells of the marketplace he’d stepped into surrounded him, overwhelming and discomforting at the same time, for there was something familiar behind the smells. Paper. Paper and ink. Paper and ink and death. The bookseller was near. Damien’s nostrils flared as he tracked the tall woman’s scent.

She’d had the gift first. The book describing the techniques of door travel had been in her possession longer than she even knew, he suspected. There had been others before. Now Damien had learned, and she would pursue him until she killed him, as she killed all who attempted to use the door portals as she did. He’d heard the tales.

He turned and saw her, tall, thin, grey, cold, seeming to grow and blot out the light that surrounded them. Damien held up the book, knowing he had one desperate chance.

“Give me the book, boy, and I’ll kill you quickly.”

“‘The book should be a ball of light in one’s hand,’” he replied, quoting the book, remembering the day he’d first made his way into her bookshop. It had smelled of paper. Paper and ink. Paper and ink and death. Just like the woman who stood before him now. He’d not known the scent of death at the time, but as he had journeyed through the doors, he had learned many things. She had pursued him as soon as she realized he’d taken that book.

He had read it, learned the ways of the doors. They let him go anywhere, anytime, but he could not control it well. Not yet. Now he had little time to make a choice, and the tall woman who smelled of paper and ink and death stood before him. She had learned of his deception and tracked him through every door he’d ever used. Now she was here. Damien’s body tensed. The book began to shine. He opened to a picture of a great oaken door, open, waiting for him, threw it to the ground. Damien leapt, vanishing through the door, the book snapping shut behind him before vanishing as well.

What with the impending move, a second job somewhere out there, waiting for me to find it, and whatever else life feels like throwing my way, I’ve not had as much time as I would have liked for writing of late. I apologize, dear readers, because I feel as though I’ve been letting you down. It’s my own fault, really. I have fallen to the greatest foe of writers everywhere: sheer laziness. It’s not even been writer’s block. It’s just that I’ve not been setting aside time dedicated to writing.

This is going to change, starting as soon as I get settled in a new place. I’ll still get my August challenge entry in on time, but I need to be able to get a little stability going again. It will vastly help things, and then I’ll feel far more comfortable getting into a writing rhythm. When that point comes, I’ll be making some additional changes. A few of these come from my latest conversation with V over what really needs to be done to be a true professional writer. In all likelihood, I will be following in her footsteps, establishing a twitter account and knuckling down on my novel. It will take time, and it will be stressful, but I know that if I don’t do it, I might as well give up on the whole idea. “You’re going to have to come out as a writer,” she said to me. It’s probably the best bit of advice I’ve been given since I changed my degree to English. This could mean some big changes to the blog structure, but I’m hardly going to be going away. Ideally, I’ll be posting far more often. You have been warned.

I’ve got great support from my friends and my girlfriend, so I know that I can do it. In the meantime, I’ll keep working intermittently on some microfiction pieces for you. Stay tuned.

 

Ah, winter beers in summertime. I’ve got a bottle of Old Rasputin in front of me, and in his honor, I’ve got this on youtube. Mastodon has got to be one of the best bands I’ve come across in the last few years. Their music has yet to disappoint me.

Tonight is the eve of one of the biggest weeks of my life to date. I say this because this week marks the true turning point. I’ve been out of school for a little over a year now, and my lease on my first off-campus apartment is ending at the end of this month. I’ve got two weeks to find a new place to live, so a decision really must be reached in the next day or two, in order to allow for processing of my application and time to move. I hate it. I’m ready to get out of my current place, because I know that I can’t afford to pay that much for rent, but I’m a little sad to be leaving such a nice place for something that is, at the moment, completely unknown.

I’m torn between a couple of options right now, since I’m down to a single part-time job. I could get a one bedroom or studio apartment somewhere, and try to find a 2nd job to cover the costs of living on my own. This would mean I have all kinds of space to myself, but it would also mean that all expenses are completely on me, and me alone. Option 2 is teaming up with some of my friends and getting a house together. Less privacy, to be sure, but also roughly 1/2 to 1/4 of the typical rent somewhere. We can pitch in for utilities, internet, netflix, etc. It’s a tough call.

In the meantime, I’m toying with less critical things, now that I’ve done my editing for V. Just a heads up for those of you who follow her: the book is glorious. I’m not trying to be flattering, or anything. It’s just the truth. You’ll see, ideally within the next year. I’m working on a pitch for her right now, and trying to come up with potential publishers.

On an almost entirely unrelated note, I’ve found a couple of other things for you. First up is an article from cracked.com that nearly caused me to fall off of my couch in laughter. I’ve found a few of the techniques described within to be quite useful, for the people who have given up all sake of maintaining their sanity.  Second is this, an article about a man who has decided that print media must be maintained. I applaud him for his attempt to do this. I personally have a great devotion to printed media.  It’s probably the reason for my love of libraries and bookstores, and my constant desire to find work in those areas.

Anyway, it’s time for bed, I suppose. I’ve got a lot to do tomorrow, starting with an early morning of phone calls to real estate agents. I’m so excited, can’t you tell? 😀 Yeah, no, not really, but it’s better than the alternative. Goodnight, dear reader. I’m off to dream of potential builds for a necromancer character.

“Would you consider it?” the stranger asked me.

“Seriously?” I was incredulous.

“Seriously. The offer is being extended to you, and to you alone.”

“Why me?”

“They say that you’re the most suited for this particular task.”

“And it’s just open to me.”

“That is correct.”

“So none of my family or friends would be there.”

“In all likelihood, you wouldn’t see anyone you’ve ever met before for at least the next ten years.”

“Oh…”

“Is that going to be the determining factor? Should I tell my superiors that you’ve rejected our offer?”

“I just…I need some time to think about it.”

“You have 24 hours. I will leave you to your decision.”

“Thank you.” I ended the call. My mind was still racing at the idea of what I’d just been offered. Somehow, they had come up with my name. They wanted me. I had to tell my girlfriend. This was the opportunity of a lifetime, and it was being given to me first and foremost, out of all of my peers.

The Mars mission was scheduled to depart Earth in six months time. Six months that would be spent in heavy training, preparing for the duration of the expedition, and I, a civilian writer, had been asked to take part. I told them that I was no journalist, I was a fiction writer. They wanted one of my colleagues, someone in better shape, someone more suited to human interest pieces. I had told them this, and they still persisted.

They said that they wanted someone who was familiar enough with Earth’s earlier fiction about space travel, someone who would be able to break down the barriers between fantasy and reality, and make the space program shine again. I asked them if they’d tried finding a publicist. To me, it sounded an awful lot like propaganda work. That was when they’d mentioned my dreams.

They knew all about the childhood fantasies of space travel, dreams I’d dismissed when I didn’t even manage to keep myself in the condition I’d need to play on the 7th grade football team. They knew that I longed to experience the kind of travel and exploration that had ceased to exist on our home planet, the kind that could only be found somewhere beyond Earth and the moon.

It would be a long trip, all of it spent in real-time. There was no way that any kind of stasis was viable. That technology was years, decades away. I didn’t care. We would have near-real-time transmission contact with Earth, so I would be able to send back stories from the ship on a weekly basis. It would be an all-expenses-paid trip to another planet. I would be one of the first humans to set foot on Mars.

I’d asked them why they picked me. They told me it was all about the dreams. They knew that mentally, I was more prepared for this trip than any other candidate that they had considered. I was more than intrigued, but still…leaving my family and friends behind for ten years, only able to communicate with brief messages back and forth.

I thought long and hard about my decision. I called my girlfriend and asked her for her advice. I consulted my father, and my closest friends. Everyone told me the same thing.

“It’s a chance to realize your greatest aspirations.”

“You can write the first piece of Martian literature!”

“We’ll miss you…”

Could I really do it? Could I leave them all behind, knowing full well that some of them might not be alive by the time I could return to Earth? My sleep that night was restless. When I finally managed to reach REM sleep, I dreamed of a small, secluded cabin, reminiscent of an old train compartment. Through a small porthole, I could see the Earth, far distant. In the cabin, a small desk sat with a computer terminal built into it. On the screen was a flashing cursor, preceded by the words “Greetings from the Trans-Planetary Express!” I saw myself, a wistful smile on my face, as I glanced through pictures from home.

When I awoke, I knew that my decision had been made. I picked up my phone, dialing the number that the man from the agency had given me.

“Have you made your choice?” a voice asked.

“I have,” I said calmly. “How much time do I have to say my goodbyes?”

“As much time as you need.”