Tag: Fiction

Writing Fiction Again

Writing Fiction Again

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Yesterday, I wrote my first words of new fiction in about three and a half months. 261 of them. It felt so good, I wrote 270 more today.

Now, I have been doing some fiction work, but it’s all been editing, and mostly short stories. I’ve also been writing quite a bit of non-fiction, philosophy, family history, a few book reviews, and the occasional blog post like this one. But nothing like the pace I set for most of last year. In fact, last year, if I total things up, had almost 700,000 words in it and 450,000 of those were fiction.

This year has 117,000 so far, which puts me on pace to brush up against 300,000. Not exactly a good follow up, but probably still a pretty good year, overall.

I’ve got lots of reasons, and some excuses. Family, career, karate, volunteer work at the shelter, busy life. Too many ideas and the inability to settle on one of them. I’ve been trying to figure some things out about the mental and philosophical space I’ve moved into. I’ve been tired, burnt out, need to rest. I get bored easily. I joke about having adult onset ADD (which might be less of a joke than I think, but only in certain neural pathways).

The truth of the matter is, for whatever reason, I haven’t felt like it.

And I have that luxury at the moment, the luxury of letting the stories and characters bounce around my brain and flesh themselves out as long as my subconscious, and conscious, feels like working with them. I don’t have to put them down on paper, tablet, or computer.

After all, I still have all of those other stories I have written that need to find homes (note to self: get on that, will you?) and a couple of novels that might actually be worth reading to someone else (three out of eleven drafted, of course, only those three have been edited and polished).

Except I’ve been getting itchy again.

So I started a new story yesterday, one that’s almost certainly a novel-length story. And it’s scratching that itch, so I’m going to keep doing it.

Secondary world heroic fantasy with tastes of late 17th or early 18th century technology at the end of an ice age.

I’m not sure what kind of pace I’m going to work towards on this, but it doesn’t matter as long as I’m enjoying the story. Wish me luck.

Be well, everyone.

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Back to the Fiction

Back to the Fiction

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So if you’ve been reading (or even just noticing) my monthly writing reports, you’ll probably have the impression that I’ve been getting a lot of writing done for about a year now. And I am. I’m closing in on half a million new words of various sorts for 2014, but most of it is raw first draft because I haven’t been able to squeeze nearly as much editing time out of my life as I’d like.

But that’s okay. All of those words will be waiting for me when I can get to them. I’m trying to find a little time lately, but life has been giving me a few extra balls to keep in the air. (Insert circus music here.)

And, in fact, most of what I’ve written has been non-fiction for the month of September, and a far larger share than I originally expected for the three months before it. I’ve been struggling to get in a fiction frame of mind a lot lately, and I miss exploring ideas and creating new worlds. I need to get back to fiction.

To help me out on both fronts, I think I need a goal or two, as if I haven’t got enough of those already. My thought right now is that it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve put any fiction up for general consumption. So perhaps it’s time to change that.

Starting Friday, I’m going to serialize “Babysitting the Taran-Saurus”. Near future SF, it’s a 12,000-ish word novelette that breaks fairly well into ten pieces with lengths ranging between 700 and 1500 words.

It’s also still being edited.

You see, I think I need a time crunch, something to force me along the road to getting this story done and polished, to get me motivated on the fiction side of things and back into the groove. Knowing that I want to put a new piece of “Babysitting” up on the website every Friday (because that’s when new scenes will come out, starting October 3rd) might be that little push to get things done.

Call this announcement number one. I’ve got more planned.

So stay tuned.

And be well, everyone.

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State of Graceland

State of Graceland

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Once upon a time, there was a teenager named Lance. Growing up in the pre-Internet era, Lance was still quite fond of media: TV, movies, and especially books and music. He read voraciously, started to figure out writing (though that would mostly come later), and always had the radio or a record or cassette playing in the background. This as the 1980s. There would eventually be CDs, but they were expensive in the early days and he didn’t have a CD player until the summer he was nineteen.

In the fall of 1986 he heard, “You Can Call Me Al” on the radio. Without knowing exactly why, he found it turning into one of his favourite songs and he bought Graceland on cassette as soon as his finances would allow.

And so it began.

It’s hard to say how many times I listened to Graceland, but I knew all the lyrics to every song within a week or two, and had my heart broken when the cassette got eaten a few years later. I immediately replaced it with a CD version, which I still have and from which I made MP3 versions of the songs for my iPod, and now in my phone. Yes, they’re all in my playlist.

In early July of 2009, listening to “The Boy In the Bubble”, I got the germ of an idea for the story that would eventually become “Miracles and Wonder”. Six months or so later, I wrote the first draft of “Pilgrimage” after something tickled the back of my brain listening to the title track, “Graceland”.

“Light Pressure” came near the end of 2010 with “Dancing in the Rain” following before too long. By then, I had an end goal in mind: there would be a story inspired by every song on the album. Perhaps, if they eventually proved worthy, they might become an e-book or a even, dare I contemplate, a podcast.

The rest of the stories were written across 2011, a strange and tumultuous time in my life, but they got written. In the first few months of 2012, I edited, polished, then edited some more until each of the 11 stories made me happy.

After which, I put them away for a few months. Letting things rest for a while helps me approach them with fresh eyes. When I read through them in October of 2012, I was still happy. Oh, I made some minor changes here and there, different word choices or alterations to punctuation, but nothing big. I started to think about what I should do with them.

But then, oddly, I put them away again. Yes, I had the intent to publish or perhaps submit them, but I never did. At this point, it’s been long enough that I felt the need to do another read through, and I’m glad I did. I made a few tiny tweaks here and there, some word choice changes, really but nothing big. The stories stayed the same.

Well, all but one which suffered a couple of structural alterations but kept the story intact. “Fingerprint Dreams”, the last story in the sequence, had a couple of odd POV shifts, with the main protagonist dropping into first person for what were essentially either interviews or flashbacks. I found this jarring when I read the story, and liked it less than I used to, so I changed them. As a result, the story got almost five hundred words longer, breaking over that magical 10k mark. It’s still the same story, but I think those scenes flow better now and the reader gets more out of them.

But I’m done reading, and that brings me back to what should I do with them? Try to find a publisher? Submit them to markets individually? Publish them myself? Publish them myself and send a copy to Paul Simon?

For the moment, I think I’ll go pop a certain CD in the player, but I’d welcome any thoughts or input.

Be well, everyone.

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Do Not Disturb

Do Not Disturb

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So, I don’t consider myself a Horror writer. Science Fiction and Fantasy usually fall into my keyboard. My heart belongs to them, reading and writing.

It’s not that I have anything against Horror, because I don’t, and not solely because it’s not my way to piss on other people’s art. Although that’s a nice rule to add to your personal book.

But I don’t enjoy being disturbed by my entertainment. I get enough of that from my reality, thanks.

No, I should correct that. I’m not interested in being disturbed by my entertainment when that’s its sole or primary purpose. There’s nothing wrong with having disturbing situations in a story to advance the story or particularly having your villains do disturbing things. The first can do wonders for your characters’ development. The second can do that, and may your readers cheer when the villains get what they deserve. (And they should get what they deserve. I have a personal preference for happy endings, but it’s more important that they be satisfying endings. If you can save or redeem the villain, that can be okay, too.)

When the primary purpose of the disturbing situation is to disturb your reader, I have to ask, what’s the point?  What do you get out of it as a writer? What does your reader get out of it? What is the message you’re trying to give?

Because there’s always a message, whether you intend to give one or not. And people will read things into it that you didn’t put there. That’s one of the beautiful things about being a writer: not everyone sees or reacts to things the same way.

I have written Horror, and I have sold a couple of Horror stories. I may do both again. In fact, I’ve got a couple of submission out right now to Horror markets. But I don’t read it much and I don’t watch it much. When I do, it’s because I’ve been promised by sources I trust that there’s more to the story.

On those rare occasions I’m writing in Horror mode, I don’t promise not to disturb you, but I do promise there’s a reason for it. For my part, when I’ve written Horror, the character(s) learn something or figure something out. At least the ones who survive. And maybe the ones who don’t, as well.

My own published examples, I think, back me up. First, three stories I’ve published that have been classified as horror (mostly by someone else, but remember that labels are personal), along with my intention when writing it:

“Searching for the Sea Monster”, published in the Dead Bait anthology from Severed Press in September 2009 (Amazon.ca listing). Not so much horror as suspense.

“Absence of Garlic”, published in the October 2009 issue of Bards & Sages Quarterly. Sort of Vampire Noir.

“Common Ground”, published in Alienology: Tales of the Void by Library of Horror Press in May 2011. Deep space SF action on a derelict alien space ship.

These next three, I did intend to be Horror when writing writing them. All are weird (one is icky). All might be disturbing, depending on your experience and perspective. But all were written with the intent to be something more than that. Of course, your mileage may vary. I’m just the writer. It’s the reader’s impression that really matters.

“The Bacon Cometh”, published in Baconology by Library of Horror Press in September 2011. (Amazon.ca listing)

“Worm Bait”, published in the Dead Bait 3 e-anthology from Severed Press in June 2012.

“Mummy Powder”, posted as a 7-part serial here in 2012. Still completely free and a good read, if I do say so myself.

(With the exception of “Mummy Powder” and Baconology, everything here also has an e-book version on Kindle and Nook, if you’re interested.)

So that’s my perspective as a writer, backed up with my own examples. Anyone else have any thoughts on horror for horror’s sake? Agree or disagree that there needs to be more?

Be well, everyone.

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My Destiny Awaits

My Destiny Awaits

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So as I look back through my writing log, I find that there’s been about exactly 275 words of new fiction since I finished a flash piece on May 29th. Oh, I’ve written. Blog posts in the main, at least recently. Book reviews, scripting and show notes for Days of Geek. But not fiction.

The summer was weird, though it did have a fair bit of editing involved, most of it on a single project that’s now only a handful of days from being finished the third draft. I’ve got lots of other things to edit, too, but I suddenly, finally, desperately need to work on something new.

So I dusted off the fragment of an idea I had a while back and turned it into a super bare bones story kernel. Beginning, a handful of major plot points, and end. Stretching that out, I filled in a few phrases in between to get a very rough scene breakout. Voilà, a 255-word outline.

Okay, not exactly an outline, but the beginnings of one. I took a little time each day in the back half of September to turn that basic framework into a real outline. Over the course of the last two weeks, it’s grown from 24 Chapters to 26 and some of those will get broken up because I’ve settled out to 37 scenes and usually like those to be self contained chapters.

It’s now a 5200-word outline for a Science Fiction novel with a working title (Manifest Destiny) and I’m going to start writing it tomorrow. The catch: I want to finish the first draft by the end of the year.

My estimates show about a 60,000 word short novel. Based on past experience with my estimates, it should actually come in somewhere between 66 and 69k. So let’s assume the upper end of that 69,000 words / 92 days = 750 words per day. In the past, when I’m struggling to get the words out, that’s about 45 minutes. I think I can cover it.

I hope I can cover it.

Wish me luck, because I’m still doing the podcast thing while I’m at it and I have lots of editing to do. And plotting the next project. And a full time job, and three kids, and… well let’s just say a life.

But the next three months are a test. Can I get back into the groove, and can I get far enough into it that I go back to working on more than one project at a time? (Sooper Sekrit Projekt still a possibility).

The reason I need to know that is that I want to get to the point where I can replace some or all of my income through creative endeavors. Yes, I know that’s everyone’s goal, but I’m not getting any younger (who is?). Enough waiting, enough stalling, enough excuses. Time to get to work.

If the next three months are successful, I’ve got a serious year planned for 2014.

Manifest Destiny begins tomorrow.

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The Making of a Fiction Podcast

The Making of a Fiction Podcast

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So, aside from the recently launched/about to launch Days of Geek podcast, I’ve been talking about podcasting fiction for a long time.

I’ve finally started, picking a ‘get my feet wet’ project to begin with, a 13,000-word fantasy novelette I wrote a couple of years ago. Thorvald’s Wyrd is a good trial piece in a lot of ways, but there are two big ones.

First, it’s only 13,000 words. That should make it an audio project with a clearly visible end right from the beginning.

And second, the scenes in the story are very short, exactly 100 words long apiece. I’ve broken it up into 10 episodes of 12-14 scenes each with nice little cliffhangers for every episode but the last one. I don’t know if that could have worked out better with planning.

Oh, and third, the non-immediate family feedback I’ve had on the story prior to now has been almost universally good, so I’m comfortable putting it out there. In fact, it’s already out there as a long series of blog posts.

The process is a little more involved than you might think if you’ve never thought of podcasting before, but I’ve simplified it down to 8 steps for my own piece of mind.

Pre-Production Steps

  1. 1.     Scripting: the story is in its final form, but here is where I go through and highlight every speaking characters lines in different colours (there are only four with more than one line of speech). I’m planning effects on a couple of voices and may want to get a woman to speak for Sunna to avoid any falsetto issues.
  2. 2.     Planning. This is the figuring out of what I need to do for the story to fit a podcast format. Episode length, intro and outro, and so on.
  3. 3.     Hosting. One needs a place to put the audio files for other people to be able to download them.
  4. 4.     Theme music. That fits the podcast. I’ve got a couple of awesome possibilities, but I’m not sure how rights will shake out at this point.
  5. 5.     Artwork. Needs to be eye catching and appropriate. Still on the list.
  6. 6.     E-book formatting. I need a few more self-study sessions before making the first run at this, but I want to have an ebook available when the podcast launches. Toying with the idea of print, too, but it is only a 13,000 words long.
  7. 7.     Production. Broken down into steps by episode, see below.
  8. 8.     Marketing. Not that I plan a huge marketing campaign, but I will be talking about it and posting about it pretty regularly in the weeks before, during, and for a while after it runs.

Steps 1-3 are taken care of. Step 7 is in progress. Step 8 I’m going to suck at, but I can probably blame most of that on everything else going on in my life.

On a production basis, episode by episode, it’s a fairly straightforward process:

  1. 1.     Record. Find a quiet place and talk into a recording device for a while.
  2. 2.     Edit. Test runs have shown me that between long, drawn out pauses and having to repeat things I screw up, what I record will be just a little bit less than twice as long as the final product. All that extra stuff has to come out.
  3. 3.     Voices and Effects. I’m not going to be doing special effects, but I am adjusting some character voices. This will require a little re-recording of certain lines to paste into the reading. There may be a little processing, too so the voices fit how I think things sound in my head. And, like I said earlier, I think it might be beneficial to have an actual woman play the female character. This might get a little more difficult with the next project as it has several significant female characters. And even more so with the novel I have planned where two of the three primaries are women. But I really don’t think I want to get into the whole full cast thing because time commitments go up exponentially.
  4. 4.     Intro and Outro. These need to be recorded once each, probably, and then added to the front and back of each episode.
  5. 5.     Upload. And schedule for timed release. I plan to have the whole thing done. Before Christmas would be nice, and I think quite manageable.

At this moment:

Episode 1-2: Edited

Episodes 3-4: Recorded

Episodes 5-10: Scripted

There will probably be a short blooper real after the fact (I’ve got a couple of good ones already), and potentially a feedback episode, if I get any.

Once Thorvald’s Wyrd is complete, I’m going to breathe a little bit before I start working on my second audio fiction project, slotted to be my 35,000 word novella, Turn the World Around. Like Thorvald’s Wyrd, it also appeared as a serial on my blog and I’m pretty happy with it. (Although a couple of recent news events threaten to make a small piece of it alternate history at any moment.)

The third project will be either an 80k+ word novel or a roughly equivalent in length collection of short fiction. Whichever isn’t the third will be the fourth. After that, we’ll see.

At least, that’s the plan. And Life has flipped around many of my plans in the last few years, which is why I’m not publicly attaching time frames to any of them. Make no mistake though, I have time tables I’d like to hit and they’re probably more aggressive than they should be considering recent experience.

Still, shoot for the stars and you might just make the moon.

Be well, everyone.

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A Quick Writing Update

A Quick Writing Update

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So I haven’t blogged much lately, but I have been getting some stuff done. Christmas, mostly, but a little bit of writing and related activities as well.

I’ve done most of the pre-writing I want to do for Dreams of Freedom and expect to start writing it somewhere between now and Christmas. The story is taking shape pretty well in my head and I hope that’s a good thing. Previous experience with detailed plotting has had me lose interest pretty quickly once I start writing. I’m usually better off only plotting three or four chapters ahead at most. Trying things a little differently this time, so we’ll see how it works.

I might have mentioned “Klaatu Barada Nikto, Baby!” somewhere, probably on Twitter. It’s a long novelette (or possibly short novella) pulling several ancient SF clichés together with a character who can only speak in slightly mangled SF TV and movie quotes. This is from an idea I had at least five years ago, and even wrote a little bit of at the time. The story has shifted but character never went away and I feel like it’s finally time to tell Klaatu’s story. So far, I’m about 6600 words in and feel like I’m at the midpoint, but we all know how good I am at projecting story length lately.

A couple of years ago, I wrote Warforge: Caledonia, calling it a novel made up of three interlinked novellas. It was fun to write, had concepts and characters I enjoyed, and seemed pretty good at the time. I put it away for a couple of months after the first draft and didn’t like it when I pulled it out again. Fast forward a couple of years, and it’s not nearly as bad as I thought, but needs work. I spent a little bit of time untangling the novellas before reading through critically to make revision notes for each. As part of the process, I added notes at a high level to fill in what I perceived to be the missing bits. The project needs some significant changes and additions, totally 30-50,000 words at a guess. Which <counting on fingers> is going to put all three stories outside novella range and into short novel territory at 40-50k. And when do I plan on doing this? An excellent question. Yes, I’m crazy.

You might have heard me complain on Twitter that I was having trouble with a story I intended to submit to an anthology. Well, I didn’t submit it and not because the story didn’t turn out well (I think it did), but because I beat the high end of the submission guidelines by 2,000 words. Natural Order has gone through two more drafts, and is better for both, but still comes in at just over 6,800 words. Considering my rough estimate for the original story was for 3.5-4k, that’s still on the long side. And I didn’t submit it; not because it wasn’t done on time (it could have been, but I let things go when it became clear I had no possibility of coming in under the max word count), but because I couldn’t justify to myself even asking the editors if they’d still like to see it. “Hey, I know your guidelines say you’d like things around 3-3.5k and will look at things up to 5, but my story is so good you should give it the space you’re planning to devote to two other stories.” Sure, that’ll go over well.

Perhaps it’s a sign of encroaching middle age, but I’m finally committing to keyboard some of the philosophical thoughts I’ve slowly developed over the course of almost forty-two years on this planet. I don’t expect them all to remain static, but there are a lot of small points I seem to feel the need to make more concrete. The Book of Lance so far contains about 2,000 words worth of point form notes. Eventually, it will encompass 40-ish short chapters. I don’t intend it for public consumption, but who knows.

So that’s what I’ve been up to in the last few weeks, aside from work, family, and getting Christmas organized (it’s a slam dunk this year, if I do say so myself).

Be well, everyone.

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The Doorbell Rang

The Doorbell Rang

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A quick little bite of fiction for Friday…

The doorbell rang.

Harvey stared at the front door, dreading what might stand on the other side.  What horror might await the unwary?  A salesman?  Perhaps one thinly disguised offering a prize or special discount.  Or the young variety, fundraising with chocolate or magazines.  Perhaps someone canvassing for charity?  A politician?  It might even be the dreaded invitation to a local church.

The doorbell rang.

It could be worth a man’s wallet, life, political allegiance, or immortal soul to answer the door. 

The doorbell rang, but Harvey didn’t answer.  He didn’t even bother to bark.  The rug was too comfortable.

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Mummy Powder, Part 7

Mummy Powder, Part 7

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The renewed hollow grinding sound startled me.  I didn’t know how long I’d lain there, but I must have been asleep.  Falling asleep in a sarcophagus, wrapped up like a mummy.  No point in struggling.  They’d wrapped me too tight.  Nightmare faces jumped out of my memory.  Mummies, the old Pharaoh and the young one, Bruce.

Ah hell.  Bruce.  No tears, but I felt his death again.

Grinding.  I knew the sound.  Someone had started to move the sarcophagus’ lid.  Was it opening?  Had Pharaoh changed his mind?  A chill ran through me.  I’d be fodder for his restored youth after all.  Or could I be so lucky that the mummies were gone and someone had come to rescue me?  Was there a Van Helsing for mummies?

Voices.  Muffled, but definite voices.  I tried to say something, but my lips locked shut.  Talking right now might not be the best idea I’d ever had.  I didn’t know if I wanted to be discovered yet.  Only a few words reached through the mask, not enough to make sense of anything except that there was more than one voice.  Accented English but not Egyptian-flavoured, or even anything from America.  A couple more words, and I pinned it to the British Isles, probably, but couldn’t do better than that.  Mediterranean accents were more my specialty.

Fingers wrapped around the mask’s edge and lifted it away.  I wanted to close my eyes, but needed to see what was going on.  When the mask had risen far enough to be clear of the edge of the sarcophagus, it moved aside and Doctor Harold Witkinstein held it.  That didn’t make any sense.  I’d seen his body, or parts of it at least.

“What did I tell you, guv?”  A broad grin showed several missing teeth and half of the rest were crooked.  His bushy eyebrows jumped up and down at someone I couldn’t see.  “Look at the preservation on this one.  Why, three thousand years old if he’s a day, but he doesn’t look a day over three hundred.”

Not the accent or the dental work I expected from a member of the modern German upper class.  The second voice, belonging to someone I couldn’t see, fit a little better.  Cooler, even, and with the barest touch of an accent.  Probably still British.  “Indeed.  It appears well preserved.”

Witkinstein reached into the coffin and slapped my stomach.  I didn’t have time to flinch, but the touch was weird, hollow, and didn’t carry a lot of sensation with it.  It didn’t feel much like a slap, but more like remembering what a slap to the stomach might have felt like.  It wasn’t worth a flinch or even an ouch.

And I couldn’t say ouch, anyway.  I tried opening my mouth to say something, anything and couldn’t feel my lips move, couldn’t make my lips move.  Breathing deep, I found I couldn’t breathe and fought down a sense of panic.  What had they done to me?  Why didn’t Witkinstein and his unseen friend see me?  They acted as if I weren’t present.  Thoughts tumbled in my head, coalescing and shattering again.

Three thousand years old if he’s a day, but he doesn’t look a day over three hundred.

“As well preserved as you can get, guv.  So, is it worth a few pounds to you?”

“Yes.  Yes, I think so.”  A sniff.  “I’m quite willing to pay a few coins above the current market rate.  You can keep the stone box, though.  I’ve no need for that.”

“Of course, of course.  The customer’s always right, isn’t he?”

“Indeed.  I understand you have the ability to powder them?”

Sleep now, if you can, though when you wake, you will wish you had not.

Witkinstein bowed.  “Aye.  We grind the mummies to order for a nominal fee.  It’s all about what the customer wants.  There’s them what want the whole thing shipped back home, box and all, but those in the medical profession, such as yourself, usually want just the powdered remains for treatment and whatnot.”

“Exactly.  The grinding will be fine.”  A short pause as a shadow shifted just out of my sight.  “Just be sure you don’t cut it with anything.  My master treats a higher class of patients than most.  Only pure ground mummy will do.  Anything else, aside from being less efficacious, would be insulting to his patients.”

Look at the preservation on this one.

The look of shock on Witkinstein’s face, so obvious, so expressive, belonged to an earlier age when haggling was part of every transaction, as much friendly banter as driving the price up or down.  “Certainly not, guv.  You’re in Egypt, the land of mummies.  That kind of thing might go on back home, but there’s no need for it here with a nearly limitless supply at hand.”

“See that it doesn’t.”

You will suffer the indignity of the New Kingdom’s dead.

If I could feel the cold, it would wrap around my heart.  If I had a heart.  I wondered where the jars holding my organs were.  And shouldn’t my brain be in one of them?  How could I be aware and thinking in my present state?  Why should I expect any kind of logic to hold sway in my present state?

Money changed hands.  The clink of metal coins in a leather bag.

“How soon can I expect delivery?”

Witkinstein bowed and bits of dandruff rained down over my face.  “We’ll have it rendered down for you and packaged by lunch time tomorrow, if that’s acceptable.”

“Quite.”  Departing footsteps.

Tucking the small bag of coins into his shirt, the old Doctor, if he was a doctor any more, looked down at me and smiled.  He reached into the sarcophagus and patted my cheek, not using enough force to give any sensation to my preserved flesh.  “Alas, it’s the grinding mill for you, my lad.  I don’t know if it’ll hurt much the first time, but the Holy Master assures me you’ll come back in every mummy that goes through the rods.”

You will suffer the indignity of the New Kingdom’s dead.

Witkinstein chuckled and dropped the mask back onto my face.

End

The Beginning * Previously

Note: “Mummy Powder” is released on lanceschonberg.com under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 Unported License. It can be shared, copied and distributed in its current form, but not changed or sold.

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Mummy Powder, Part 6

Mummy Powder, Part 6

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We stopped five or six feet from the sarcophagus, my feet still dangling above the floor.  A slightly more mobile mummy stepped into view, bits of its exposed flesh a little lighter, a little less like leather, and the rags covering its chest stained red.  The red of fresh blood.  I closed my eyes for a moment.  Fresh blood could only have come from one place.

They flew open again when something grabbed my foot.  I kicked and squirmed even before I looked down to see the stained mummy grasping for the other.  It straightened its arm, locking my knee while taught fingers snatched at air.  The mummies were strong, but not very fast and I didn’t see any reason to make it easy for them.  Pharaoh’s voice floated through space from somewhere behind me.  “If you struggle, you will only add to your suffering.  I leave the choice to you.  Perhaps you may enjoy a few broken bones, though I doubt it.”

“Fuck you.”  I kicked harder.

Something smashed the back of my head and the world went very dark for a moment.  I didn’t lose consciousness, but I stopped struggling long enough that the newest arrival caught both of my feet and I felt something pressing them together.  By the time I could open my eyes long enough to focus on anything, my legs had been wrapped in linen nearly to my crotch.  Before I managed to pull one coherent word out of my head, they had me wrapped to the waist.  After tilting me back, something braced me from below and the wrapping continued.  Slow, but somehow their extreme age had only built their strength and the hands that held me still could have been carved from the same limestone as the coffin.

They bent my arms into the classic mummy pose and wrapped my chest so tight I had to work to draw breath.  When only my face remained free of the bandage, the hands tilted me back further until I rested flat in the air.  I hung suspended for several seconds before they shuffled to the side and lowered me directly into the sarcophagus.  Even through my wrappings, the stone felt cool, cooler than I’d felt since coming to Egypt.

I tried to flex my arms, to move any muscle, but they’d wrapped me too well, too tightly.  A slow suffocation instead of a quick knife to the heart.  I wasn’t sure which would be worse.  How long did Bruce’s death last from his perspective?

Pharaoh leaned over the edge of the sarcophagus and smiled.  “I hope your discomfort is not too great.”

Not too great?  Wrapped like a mummy and stuffed in a coffin?  God, were they really going to leave me in a stone box to die?  I wished I could come up with something clever to say, or just something, but my brain refused to cooperate.  All I could manage was a weak glare.

“Your thoughts are plain enough, if simple.  Sleep now, if you can, though when you wake, you will wish you had not.”  With both hands, he lowered a mask over my face.  I wondered what it looked like, if my features were worked into the surface.  From my side, without holes or even slits for my eyes, it served only to block out the light, to leave me in darkness.

I felt as much as heard the thud of the limestone lid and then the low, steady grinding as it slid into place.  After that, nothing but hollow sound of laboured breath and my own heartbeat.  Would even loud noises come through the stone walls?  The coffin was pretty thick so I doubted I’d hear anything.  I didn’t think it could sealed completely, but I might easily use up the air faster than it could be replenished.  Horrible as the thought was, I decided that would still be better than slowly starving to death.

No, don’t think about that.  Focus on breathing and think about options.  There had to be a way to survive, but how the hell could I get out?  Unwrap myself from the ridiculously tight cloth, push the lid from the stone coffin, and fight my way through a horde of mummies into the streets of Cairo without my bodyguard.

My dead bodyguard.

I tried to wiggle my toes.  Inside my shoes, the circulation to my feet hadn’t quite been cut off but they already felt a bit numb.

I wasn’t going anywhere.

#

The Beginning * Previously * Continue Reading

Note: “Mummy Powder” is released on lanceschonberg.com under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 Unported License. It can be shared, copied and distributed in its current form, but not changed or sold.

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