Story no. 34. Yay! I’m glad to be back!

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monster movie small

Black screen. LOW SINGING is heard in a young man’s voice, in strong dialect. The sound of wind rises and gradually overpowers his words with a LONG, HIGH WHISTLING.

Fade up. A SHEPHERD sits alone in a clearing in the middle of a deep forest, surrounded by dense trees covered in vines. This is not a natural forest, but one where strange creatures and nightmares live. The shepherd is young but looks exhausted. The ground is covered in patchy snow. His head is bowed over the wet, still body of a wolf, or something that could be a wolf if not looked at too closely. It has too many legs and too many eyes. His shirt hangs over a nearby branch, and his bare chest is splattered with dark liquid.

Cut to his face in profile. He breathes deeply, and his breath makes steam in the frigid air.

We pan down his body to see a knife, a plain blade with a re-wrapped hilt, lying on his thigh. It drips onto the snow.

We cut to his face again; he presses his lips together and leans forward, and we hear the sound of the KNIFE CUTTING INTO FLESH as he starts to skin the wolf.


Khirkara profoundly regretted taking this job. He had a degree. He had spent five years and untold sleepless nights for that damn piece of paper, and for what? So he could play some sort of historical yes-man to a megalomaniac making a psychedelic movie rendition of a fairy tale?

He ought to be studying for a professorship. He ought to be a visiting scholar at some foreign university, or at the very least Caillon. (Hell, he wasn’t proud. If the history department at Eilarao would have taken him, he’d have gone. At least it was far away.)

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Hey! I am working on reviving this blog, and soon! . . . but I am still working on The Golden City, my fantasy book, the first three chapters of which are no longer available on this blog. What gives?

Well, one, I felt weird about putting long fiction in a place that is explicitly designated to be my short fiction repository; two, I embarked on some massive edits, particularly on the first part of the manuscript, so those chapters are now pretty far from representative; and three, I am now going to be putting information about the progress of that book on my Patreon. Some of this will be publicly available, and some for $1/month patrons.

Forward! Ever forward I go! *phew*

Story no. 33. 

The jewel thing sounds pretty stupid when you first hear about it. Like something that should be in a comic book or on a trading card.

I did a sort of internship in San Francisco, on the Blue Earth, running logistics for a couple high-profile exiled Fae, which is how I know about comic books and other human storytelling-things. If you can hide magic on the BE, you can do it anywhere, or at least that’s how the industry line goes.

I like to say that San Francisco is where I got my cynicism from. I read a lot of mangas and ate a lot of carry-out Chinese that year, and my office was underneath the staircase of a burnt-out row house in the Haight. Admittedly, it’s hard to avoid cynicism when your world is an afterthought, jammed between two bigger and more believable realities. Lathustra doesn’t even have a coherent physics. The Blue Earth has got gravity, and strong nuclear forces, and ee equals em cee squared, to keep things running more or less consistently. What’s true in one place is more or less true in another. Read More

Story no. 32.

The slip splattered on Janice’s face, a long splotch of off-white goop.

Van took her hands, each finger encased in a fine layer of soggy porcelain clay, off the wheel. “I am really sorry,” she said. “Do you want me to get you a paper towel? I can totally get you a paper towel.”

“Um.” Janice didn’t meet her eyes. “Can you just point me to where they are? I’ll get it myself.”

“No no no, I’ll get it,” Van said, the pitch of her voice rising. She coughed and pushed up from her stool. “Bill, where do you have the new rolls of paper towels?” she yelled.

“What about your pot?” Janice asked, gesturing toward the slumping clay bag still spinning furiously.

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Story no. 31. Hey, I was in Ireland, cut me a break.

Ifrid felt in her bones the moment God-of-Judgment set foot into her stepfather’s hall. The men-at-arms felt it; she saw fear and awe and hunger in their faces as she sprinted past them. There was no question if Eren felt it. Ifrid was a fast runner, but the other girl outpaced her like an eagle soaring over a deer.

They had been up in the Glen, a crevasse in the mountain which rose over the keep. It had been sheer extravagance for Lord Jaoth, the father of Lord Veath, to build the defensive walls right up around the Glen with no more motivation than a murmured wish of his wife’s, so that she might go walking in the little wood and look up at the waterfall that danced down onto the rocks night or day.

But it made a fine place to hide from Veath while she was practicing her archery, Ifrid thought, and if she needed to come back in a hurry she needed only rush up the steps and run along the walltop.

The noise from the town below had gone utterly still – no carts rattling, no men shouting, no women shrieking, no stone crashing on stone as they levered rocks one onto one another for the new trade hall. What was left was the sound of a man whistling, if a single man’s whistle could echo over miles of forest and rock. Below the whistle rustled whispering, the patter of footsteps, a child’s laugh. Read More

Story no. 30. Progress! And 3/30 for April, and this time it’s actually still April 3rd even in Switzerland!

Beatrice saw the man with the glasses and the shaved head again a week later. She refused to admit to herself that she had deliberately called Mr. Billings with questions about her contract that could only be resolved in person so that she could wander the UCL campus hopefully.

But her embarrassment withered when she saw him across the yard. “Hullo! Excuse me! Sir!”

The moment he caught sight of her his whole body seemed to expand. “Oh! It is you . . . ! The woman from the, er, the – “

“The toilet, yes.” Beatrice stopped in front of him, gasping, and realized she’d been running. “Pardon – “

“My name is Khirlaeon,” he said, bowing. “Erabach Khirlaeon. Do you want to shake hands as well? I felt very stupid when I realized we had not exchanged names.”

“Shaking hands is nice – I did as well – my name’s Beatrice B. Smithwick,” she said, holding out a hand and laughing.

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No. 29, and 2/30 in the April business. 

Her friend smelled like fruit and artificial flowers. “Okay, I really have to go. I have to get home for Matt’s thing,” Emma said, releasing Hanna from the long hug.

“Who’s Matt?” her roommate asked.

“My oldest brother,” Emma said shortly.

“I thought it was just you and Steve,” Hanna said in surprise.

“Steve’s my only full brother, yeah. My mom was married before.”

Hanna moseyed across their tiny kitchen to peek out the window onto Central Square. “Looks cold out there. So you’ve got a half-brother? Any other siblings I don’t know about?”

“Matt’s the oldest of five in that bunch.”

“Holy shit,” Hanna said, turning to fix her with pale stunned eyes behind her dark glasses. “How did you never mention that?”

Emma shrugged. “My family history is . . .weird. I’d better get going.”

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