Sunday, January 26, 2014

Super top secret project

I'm working on a super top secret project.

shhhh, don't tell anyone about it.

-D

Friday, January 17, 2014

Catching Up

Hey gang! Sorry about all the delays to the three or four of you actually interested in this blog, but lately, I have been a really terrible person about updating. There are a few reasons, and I feel like I should share them with you guys!

The first reason is simple: I got a brand new computer and it has been distracting me with the delights of video games. It is a dreadfully low and selfish reason, but it is a reason.

...I'm not as guilty as I should be. Assassin's Creed 4 is REALLY fun!

The second reason is also fairly simple: I've been a little burned out on writing, thanks to doing quite a lot of it. Furthermore, I'm soon going to be given some official writing that I will need to do RIGHT WHEN IT ARRIVES or else I'll be shot by angry Germans, and I'd rather be refreshed and ready for that than to be even more burned out by forcing myself to write when I wasn't inspired.

This is very exciting for me - as it may mean a brand new novel for my fans to buy - but it also means not writing for a bit. And I'm not the kind of author who stops writing and stops writing forever - new ideas always pop up, and new inspiration always comes.

At least, it has thusfar, and I don't think that is going to change anytime soon!

The third reason is where things get a tad complex: I'm a...little...stuck on the Immortals storyline. I do have general ideas of where to go, but getting there (from a nitty, gritty, "what happens next" perspective) has gotten...

Stuck! And that is a tad awkward. See, I usually write novels until I get stuck, and if I don't get unstuck, I move on to a new project until a solution occurs and I come back to the issue, or until I forget about the novel in question. You'd think this would lead to a lot of unfinished products (and you'd be right!) but I still do finish quite a few books.

So, this leaves me with a bit of a quandary: Should I leave the Immortals laying fallow until I figure out where to go next, and write something else for you lovely people...or should I (once my break is done) man up and barrel through this part with an idea, any idea, no matter how bad or forced it is?

Because sometimes, breaking through a tough scene will open the book up, and quality will go back up.

If you have an opinion, feel free to comment!

If no one says anything, I'll go with option 1: Start a new idea and post it here, 1k a day, and try to pick one less...confounding.

Thanks, all!

-D.


Monday, January 6, 2014

The Immortals: Chapter Three, Part Four



Apologies for the lateness of this post! I got a new computer today and have been drowning my time in a lot of Bioshock Infinite! 

###

                When Kendra had been younger, her mother had read her The Hobbit. When Kendra had been younger, she had decided that Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins were both women – mentions of beards and hairy feet notwithstanding. Despite strenuous objections, her mother eventually relented. But it was not the rather amusing mental image of a tall, stacked mature woman brushing her hands through her long silvery beard that stuck in Kendra’s mind for her stay in the hospital.

                When the dwarves and Bilbo had stayed at Rivendel (or Rivindel, or however you spelled it) the narrator had taken a moment to opine on how it was easy to write about terrifying, unpleasant, or dangerous times. Adventures filled whole books – and those could last as short as a single day. But try to describe a single week of having a good time, and it rapidly became impossible.

                For Kendra, if she were to write a novel about the half a month she spent in the hospital and the two weeks she had spent bopping back to physical therapy, she would have just been able to write two sentences involving the occasion and left it at that.

                It. Sucked.

                And they weren’t even grammatical sentences.

                Bijay – in his guise as one of the nurses – kept careful watch, but Adder’s death and the attention drawn by the police had given Crichton a bit of a scare – apparently, he didn’t want to make his innocent and law-abiding fa├žade take a hit in any universe or any version of the past, lest he be forced to stay there for reasons unknown. That meant that while she did wake up every time someone walked past her room, and she tried to brain one of the nurses when she changed her IV – no one had figured out how she had gotten a club in her hand so quickly.

                But most of the time, she spent it bored.

                Bored. Bored. Bored. The kind of bored that seeps into your bones, which couldn’t be cured with anything short of a bullet to the head or a change of venue. She watched TV shows, and read books, and even played a bit on her laptop – all while keeping her immobilized arm immobilized and taking a nearly continual spray of drugs – some to fight infection, some to speed the healing, some to just make her suffer.

                When, finally, she was released, she came back home and found that her parents had invested significantly in…security.

                Which replaced boredom with frustration, which to Kendra was not an improvement!

                “How am I supposed to do anything with my friends with this?” Kendra used her good hand to rub at her neck. The new necklace that she sported was a little long, and at the bottom was – rather than a gemstone or a bit of pewter – a small plastic disk marked with a C and a U.

                “Easy!” Mom smiled and tucked the disk under Kendra’s shirt. “See?”

                “But…you can use your freaking phone to track me! Like I was…a...a…a pet!” Kendra tugged the necklace back out from under her shirt. “It’s humila-“

                “Kendra, you were almost hacked apart by a machete.”

                That voice had been Dad – who had been sitting in a nearby chair, reading the instruction manual to their brand new Cordine and Ulysses security GPS tracker. He closed the manual and looked over at the two of them, his eyes serious behind his glasses.

                Kendra found it remarkably hard to argue with that. So, while she went to high school and found herself in a curious position of having far too many people caring far too much about everything she said, and yet no one actually seemed to want to sit with her during lunch or group with her in groups. She always got into the dreg groups – the ones with the people who never did any work and just let the rest of the people carry them.

                The only people who did sit beside her at lunch were Jessica – who treated this entire thing as incredibly exciting and encouraged Kendra to enjoy the attention and the drama that it allowed her to access – and Theresa – who worked her hardest to try and pretend that nothing had happened at all. It made for some surreal conversations…

                “I think you should try and get your hooks into Marshal. Let’s be honest, he’s cute, and someone is going to notice how heroic he was-“

                “He…was kind of heroic. Sort of.” Kendra tried to cut in, but Jessica continued forward like a machine.

                “-and sweep him up!”

                “Did you guys hear about the new library section they’re adding in?” Theresa said. Jessica glared at her, but Kendra – who was kind of eager to get away from the whole ‘machete dude’ topic that had been hanging over her life for the better part of a month – grabbed onto the change in topic with both hands.

                So, between the shambles of her social life, the indignities of having to wear a GPS tracker everywhere…Kendra didn’t think she would have had time for meeting the other Immortals.

                She was wrong.

                The Immortals – Nef and Bijay and...actually, none of the other Immortals were eager to get her back together and ready to fight. But Nef and Bijay were the ones she knew the best, so they counted for more.

                “Crichton is just marshaling his forces…” Nef said, leaning over a table in the Denny’s that dominated the corner of two of the busiest streets in the town. “Mortals are somewhat useful in these issues, but he is also sending out feelers to other Narcissists.”

                Bijay – who sat right across from Kendra – leaned in to speak, but before he could, Kendra held her hand up.

                “Let me guess, people like Adder, who think they’re traveling through dimensions, rather than changing the past?” She asked, smiling slightly.

                “Coffee?” The waitress asked for the fifteenth billionth time – she made circuits throughout the Denny’s at a rate of one revolution per minute, and it was starting to get on Kendra’s nerves.

                “No thanks,” Nef said. She somehow managed to look normal and calm, as if she had never lost a loved one in her life. Kendra didn’t like to think about that.

                When the waitress went on, Bijay took the conversation back up again, saying: “Yeah, though, that’s just about what the Narcissists believe.”

                “Good name.” Kendra shuddered, remembering the insane light in Adder’s eyes.

                “Still, we need to start thinking about how we’re going to strike back, if we want to get some peace for a while.” Nef leaned back in her seat. “Bijay, you’re the only other person in the group who is interested in doing anything beyond a defensive action…did you have any actual ideas?”

                Bijay grinned, but before he could say anything, Kendra raised her hand. The two other Immortals looked at her, and Nef gestured to her, as if to say ‘go ahead, you have my blessing.’

                Kendra asked the obvious question: “Why am I here, then?”

                “You’re new and got a reason to want revenge.” Nef nodded.

                “I think you’ve got promise.” Bijay added. Then, grinning, he murmured. “And you’re pretty cute…”

                Kendra turned bright, bright red, but nodded. Bijay, seeing that it was his chance to explain his plan, laid it out.

                “We need to hit Crichton where it hurts, and we need to tie it into his life, so he can’t just ripple away from it without losing something he’d rather keep.” Bijay rubbed his hands together. “I have two candidates, and a way to tie the events together. But I’m thinking that if we each take a part of the plan, we’ll weave it more into the world’s events and really get it to stick.”

                Kendra nodded. That seemed like a pretty good way of doing it.

                Then Bijay explained his plan, the full plan.

                Nef nodded. “I’m in. I can handle the hijacking.”

                Bijay glanced at Kendra, who was cupping her face in her hands.

                “Kendra?”

                “We…” She paused. “We are the good guys, right?”

                Bijay grinned, his face so disarming and cute that she almost forgot her own question.

                “We are.” He paused, just fractionally. “Kind of.” 
 

###

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Friday, January 3, 2014

The Immortals: Chapter Three, Part Three



                “And the man then tried to attack you with a machete, correct?”

                “Yeah…” Kendra tried to not lift her hand up to touch her wounded shoulder. The pain that oozed from underneath the bandages like a running sore made that easier than it would have been before a psycho tried to hack her head off with a weapon she associated more with Rwanda and jungles and maybe a few really cheesy slasher movies than with real life.

                Wait, since when was Rwanda fictional?

                She ignored that thought, instead looking back up at the pair of officers who were talking to her. Both of them looked so similar – despite being opposite races, genders and varying heights – that she had a hard time remembering which one was which. One of them had a small pad of paper which was socketed into a larger hunk of plastic and metal. He was using a mechanical pencil to make scribbling notes that were far shorter than the sentences she was saying.

                That, plus the sunglasses that the other officer wore despite being inside, gave Kendra a distinct feeling of being untrustworthy. She found it far too easy to imagine that the officer was writing nothing but the words ‘totally nuts’ over and over and over again.  

                “And you had never seen him before in your life?”

                “Now, just wait a second here!” Dad cut in. Dad was tall and stork-like, complete with a too long, too thin neck. He thrust it forward at this moment, showing off the bad posture that comes from decades sitting at a desk. “This…crazy person was some PMC operator, right? How would my daughter have met him before?”

                “That is just what we were going to ask her, sir.” The officer clicked the mechanical pencil he was using, then scribbled again as Kendra shook her head.

                Mom, Kendra saw, had put her hand on Dad’s shoulder. Kendra was pretty sure that she had just stopped him from asking for the fifth time if they had read her her Miranda rights…despite those for being when people were being arrested. Right now, they weren’t arresting her. Kendra wasn’t really sure if that was actually true, but even if they had been arresting her, she didn’t have anything she particularly wanted to hide.

                Except for, well…you know, the whole being an immortal.

                That part, she definitely did want to hide.

                “Do you know why he kidnapped the student Marshal Kliner as well?”

                Kendra closed her eyes, then said: “Because he tried to rescue me. Kind of. Okay, like…” She paused. Weird. The events that had happened were so clear, at the time – everything happening in a kind of crystal focus. But now that it was over, everything became blurry. Had Marshal come out to rescue her, or had he just been curious? Had they grabbed him just to stop her, or…or…

                She shook her head. “No, no, he wasn’t trying to rescue me. Sorry, he…we were practicing. Uh, that is, the saxophone section…” She continued to explain, shakily. And, like picking at a scab, tears started to prick at the corners of her eyes.

                Kendra decided right then that she preferred how Bijay had let her talk to this questioning. After managing to get the lump out of her throat and continue speaking – detailing what she remembered the goons – she realized that the big part was that Bijay knew what was going on. She didn’t need to explain it. Also, she didn’t need to lie.

                At least the lies were by omission…

                When the two officers left, the one with the sunglasses said something that might have been meant for comforting: “Don’t worry, this is a clear cut case of self-defense. You’ll probably be fine.”

                “Probably!?” Dad exclaimed as the door swung shut behind the officers. He stepped over to stand beside Kendra’s bed. “You’ll probably be fine? That’s ludicrous, absolutely ludicrous! This man kidnapped you and-“

                “Harold.” Kendra’s mother managed to stop Dad’s whole tirade with a single word and a soft touch. Once he stopped raging, Dad let Mom speak. “They say that you should be out of the hospital in a week or two...but we know that you like your cartoons and your pony things, so we will swing by every day with your laptop!”

                “Um, they’re anime, Mom-“

                “And…oh! Oh!” Mom reached behind her back and pulled out a large card that had a cardboard angel pinned to the front. Opening it, she saw half a dozen names had been scribbled in there – along with a few sentences, the best being “Sorry you god kidnapped and machete’d – J&T” – and a smile came to her lips.

                “Your friends signed it and dropped it off at the house,” Dad said, nodding sagely. Kendra sighed, softly, closing her card up and sliding it under her pillow.

                There was a moment of silence, where the only noise was the faint mutter and murmur of the P.A system – paging someone, without a doubt.

                Then Dad spoke up: “So, why did he kidnap you?”

                “I already said!” Kendra looked at her parents. Mom was looking exasperated, but Dad ignored her for the moment. “I have no idea.”

                “But we’re not even rich!”

                “He tried to…” Mom cut herself off – clearly unwilling to say the words ‘kill her.’ Instead, she leaned Kendra gently.

                “Dad, I don’t know why crazy people do crazy t-things, that’s why they’re c-crazy!” Kendra’s voice caught and she shook her head. “I…I was too busy being scared…”

                Dad sighed, then reached down to pat her unhurt shoulder carefully. That didn’t seem to be enough, so he also ruffled her hair – eliciting a ‘Dad!’ from her.

                “You showed him what a Watt can do!” He said, sounding very proud. Kendra knew that the only reason why he was proud was because he didn’t think about how she had ‘showed’ Adder what a Watt can do.

                “Yeah, Dad…” Kendra gulped. She smiled at her parents…

                And was already wondering when she’d never talk to them like this again. How long would it take?

                As her parents left without her saying a single true thing to them, she realized…it had already happened.

###

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Immortals: Chapter Three, Part Two



                Kendra ducked. The machete came down on her shoulder – skidded against bone, then sunk deep into flesh. She felt a moment of pure, hot white pain, and then fell to the side, the machete jerking free. She expected – for a few seconds – to feel the dislocation of shifting to another universe or changing the past or whatever it was that she did. But instead, she felt pain and the hot, sticky blood pouring from the deep cut. She felt her bone grate against itself, and she looked up at Adder, grinning manically as he lifted his machete for another blow.

                She kicked at him, desperately. Her shoulder screamed, she screamed – a kind of agonized yelp that didn’t even sound like her. But her foot still connected to Adder’s gut. He took it like a battleship taking a pea fired by a bored student – he didn’t even rock. He grabbed her ankle before it fell, and twisted it. Against the shoulder, the ankle breaking like a twig shouldn’t have felt that bad.

                Instead, it felt even worse. Kendra closed her eyes, arched her back, and made a noise that wasn’t even a noise. She couldn’t scream, because she was trying to scream too hard. Adder let go of her leg and when she opened her eyes, she saw that he was kneeling down beside her, his grin and his glowing maniacal eyes lost in the sunlight that shone behind his head. Kendra gasped, her throat raw, her eyes burning with tears.

                “It’s okay, you’ll be free soon-“

                Her good hand scrabbled, and more by chance than anything else, found a large, sharp rock. She clenched it, tensed.

                Adder set the machete against her head, like someone setting a hammer, testing the angle before he would bring it back-

                He brought his arm back…

                -and smash down like a-

                Kendra rolled. Her bone grated, her ankle sent popping-white flashes through her eyes. She made a wet, gasping noise, but that didn’t cover the loud CRACK of the stone hitting Adder in the temple. The sharp point drove home a small amount, leaving a little dimple in his head. He peeled to the side. Kendra got her knees under her and – feeling faint from the hot flow of blood that ran along her arm and dripped from her fingers – brought her rock up.

                Adder slashed with his machete. The blade opened her rock-carrying arm open, blood soaking her sleeve. But her hand still came down, smashing the rock into his nose. He made a shocked noise and Kendra sobbed, her eyes closed tight.                

                “Mother…” She gasped, not sure if she was going to swear or if she was just wishing Mom was there to help. She lifted the rock with her arm, her fingers refusing to open – maybe he’d missed the tendons, and she could still grip. Maybe it was just adrenaline, holding her body together by spit and bailing wire.

                Adder’s nose had been broken and his eyes looked dazed and slightly confused. She brought her rock down against his forehead. She could hear the crunch and felt sick. She almost wanted to stop…

                But then she brought the rock down again. The rock’s weight was almost impossible to lift, but bringing it down was…easy…

                Crunch.

                Crunch.

                Then there was a wet noise, a bit like when she had dropped a bowl full of jello. Remove the crashing noise of ceramic, and replace it with the crunch of bone snapping between some evil giant’s teeth and…

                She saw what she had done…

                Bits of purple and-

                Oh…

                Kendra closed her eyes, then somehow managed to stand. Her head swam and she staggered backwards, her back caught by the chainlink fence. Her mangled arm dripped down her fingers and she panted, her breath coming in quick gasps.

                For a moment, when Kendra opened her eyes, the world seemed dim. No, it didn’t seem dim. It was growing dim. The space around her started to fade, creating a tunnel that stretched before her. But as she looked, the tunnel grew longer, then split again and again. Down one of them, a glowing hand reached towards her.

                Come on… A voice that wasn’t a voice spoke and she trembled as she felt the great stillness of the universe.

                Take my hand.

                Kendra untangled her arms from the fence. No. She didn’t move. Someone else was holding her.

                Take…

                Kendra tried to reach, but someone was holding her down.

                …my hand…

                Kendra felt something slide into her neck, and heard the voices.

                “She’s going into shock.”

                “Type?”

                “AB+.”

                “She’s a lucky one. All right, what about-“

                Kendra heard the door slam. But at the same time – echoing through the tunnels of the universe, she heard a single word.

                Dead. 

                ###

                Kendra’s eyes opened. She was lying in a clean white room,  and her arm and shoulder both felt as if they had been completely wrapped in warm, gauzy stuff that made her feel one half marshmallow. Her head felt as if someone had shoved more of that marshmellow stuff between her ears, but it had been quite cleverly targeted. Rather than just insulating her brain, it just insulated the bits that had to think about stuff.

                “That…” Her voice startled her – it felt scratch, and it sounded like it came from someone who smoked too much. She tried again. “That’s a stupid thing to think…”

                She looked around the room again. She saw the things that went ping and blip and boob and had lines that ran along them. She saw a hanging curtain that blocked off the part of the room that held another bed – that other bed was empty right now, so she had no company, and so the curtain hadn’t been drawn either. She saw the window that looked out on…was that the San Pedro expressway? She knew that expressway, she had marched down it every year for…

                Band! Marshal! Machetes!

                Kendra looked back at the door – there was no one beside it. Then she saw something sticking into her vision, thrust almost into her eye it felt. She slowly tilted her head down and saw that there was her thermos, sitting right there on the nightstand.

                Kendra grinned, weakly.

                When she laid back in bed, though, she wasn’t able to just go back to sleep. First, the pains and aches of her immobilized body parts started to reassert themselves. Second, it was the fact that the door opened and a nurse came in, checking her over.

                “You had a bit of a close call, there…” The nurse murmured.

                “A bit…” Kendra said. “Where are my parents?”

                “They’re waiting in the lobby. We weren’t sure your condition would stabilize this fast, but you…were pretty lucky.” The nurse smiled at her, his face more wan and thin than she’d have expected.

                “Great…” Kendra nodded, her eyes closing.

                When the nurse stepped out, she found that the aches had faded – maybe he’d upped the painkillers? But she still couldn’t get to sleep, because as the nurse slipped out, the door opened and in came…

                “Bijay!” Kendra’s eyes widened. He came in wearing a nurse’s outfit. “Do you work here?”

                “I do now,” he said, smirking as he walked over to her. “I’m sorry about that…are…do you want to talk about it?”

                Kendra paused, thinking for a while. She remembered the feel of the stone. She remembered the hand, reaching to her from…where? Heaven? Hell? Nothing, but her own brain hallucinating? She remembered the Holy Ground, and the view from the other side.

                “Nah.” She shook her head.

                Bijay nodded, then smiled at her. His hand found hers, squeezed, and he stood.

                “So, not going to work your mojo?” She asked. “Make it so the fight never happened?”

                Bijay sighed. “Too much depends on the fights happening…Crichton made sure of that…”

                Kendra sighed. “All right then…”

                Bijay squeezed her hand, then turned to go, his fingers sliding from her grip. She shifted, moving ever so slightly, to grab and hold onto his hand.

                “I was so scared…” She whispered, so softly that she barely heard it herself. “I was scared a-and…”

                And it all came out.

                Bijay listened, and didn’t say a thing. 

###

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