Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Poem

This is my introduction. I wrote a poem tonight. I am mostly typing because I don't like it when Buzz crams lines from my poems into a paragraph. Poems must be taken in whole. You can't just read one sentence. The first few sentences alone of this poem could be kind of depressing, but it's really not that kind of poem at all, so that mushed paragraph misrepresents me, doesn't it?? Well I think this is long enough.

"The Infinite Blue"

It isn't lead weights pulling me under,
I don't have the need,
it's just my own sense of misdirection,
faulty as ever
It's just the weight of my confusion,
my sadness and pain,
all the things I don't need to have

Where is the sunlight,
where's the sea floor?
Does it even matter?
I can't tell anymore
it's all just blue,
infinite blue
nothing more and nothing less

I sink to the bottom,
cutting my feet on the rocks below
why do we always cut it so close
when it feels like life is waiting
maybe a few miles deeper

There's no oxygen here,
but I think maybe
if I could teach my lungs just right,
they'd love this water
and maybe I don't have to drown,
for one more second.

So as the fish and whales watch,
why don't you take my hand,
kick off your shoes,
let it all go,
and we'll swim away,
into the infinite blue.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Sleepless Inferno

I'm pretty sure I'm eventually going to write a sequel for That Hideous Slumber, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be called The Sleepless Inferno. Pretty ominous, no??

Just beginning work on chapter 27. Chapter 26 is finished and awaiting a little editing. I'm looking forward to getting through these final chapters for two reasons. One, I'm really excited about the ending I've cooked up (don't let sequel talk give anything away. I guarantee nothing!). Two, I'm looking forward to writing the Red Elevators.

That is all. I recently signed up for a free trial of Netflix AND the new Force Unleashed game just came out... so if it takes me a long time to finish chapter 27 you will know why...

Friday, October 8, 2010

That Hideous Slumber (Chapter 25)

That Hideous Slumber

Chapter XXV: Between Yesterday and Eternity

Day One

Weather beaten by the centuries and hollowed out by thieves and vagabonds for their wicked work, that was the hovel Drift led us to. It was little more than a cavern. It had born from a rock formation that had long been abandoned by anyone in Termile with legitimate intentions. A heap of rocks with no elegant contours to call the eye, nor height impressive enough to call much attention. It was the perfect hideout for the people we were chasing.

Drift, Rovur, and I hid out of sight behind a smaller rock formation. I ran through what little I'd learned of Termile in my head as we sat against the rock. I'd drilled Rovur for all the information and advice I could as we wandered out into the oppressive, oven-esque heat of the day. I didn't want a repeat of my previous mistakes. I wanted to learn, and learning in this case meant trusting in the wisdom and strength of my companions.

And so I now knew the city from far off atop the sand dune where I'd arrived was Termile's capital, Moraaz. It was truly a spectacle, renowned throughout the world for its architecture, which consisted of immense, colorful towers called onion domes. The city I'd seen in Artemis' head was Laare, and more commonly reflected Termile living with its large but haphazardly thrown together adobe buildings.

The men who had attacked Rovur were part of the king's army, and I learned the wulfren bore them no ill will given his sudden entrance. The king, by the way, was here called a sultan, though I hardly saw a difference. Slavery was generally abhorred in Termilian culture, however rogue elements will always stoop below society's allowances.

Rovur was impatient.

"If we're going to attack, why don't we go ahead and attack? I can't handle this waiting. It's making me crazy."

"There's no need," I said simply.

"That's not why we're here," Drift added. "Have a little patience."

"I am having a little patience! Why do you think I haven't charged in there and created myself a disturbance?" Where Drift and I leaned casually, he stood pacing back and forth.

Finally the sound I'd been waiting for met my ears at last. A living statue burst his way right through one wall of the thieves den, creating a permanent second front door. Face still and expressionless, the stone man appraised the cloudless blue sky above, the seemingly endless expanse of sand around him, and then began to walk our way.

"Have you been waiting long?" Atlas called out as we quit our hiding spot. He slowly began to return to human form. The stone seemed to melt into his skin, letting flesh take reign once more. Except for his left arm, which did not change at all.

"No," I replied. "Just a few minutes or so. Did you leave anything for us to clean up?" I asked, maybe a bit hopeful.

"'Fraid not. Took care of the rabble all by my lonesome. Didn't realize you'd find me so soon." The quiet man nodded then, and the matter was over. Atlas had just taken out a literal den of thieves and then brushed it off, ready to move on with his day.

"Has that ever happened before?" I asked. His arm still had not changed. He was feeling it now with his right hand, as if trying to figure out what was wrong.

"No, it hasn't," he said, taking a few more steps closer. There was no concern in his voice. Suddenly the arm returned to normal on its own, and we didn't think about the matter again.

"What's the plan now?" Atlas asked. "Seems we're a long way from home." At this I began to explain to everyone all I knew and all I learned. I laid before them the dire situation, and the need to reach Eleanor before Artemis. I spoke staring into the sand at my feet, struggling not to let any emotion creep into my words.

When I finished the story of what had happened to me in their absence, I looked up to see that only Drift and Atlas were listening. Rovur was nowhere in sight.

"Where's Frank?" They both pointed to the cave. I noticed then that the slavers had been driven out. A handful of them were wandering out into the desert, proverbial tails between their legs as they shamefully made their way out into the sun empty handed. So much the better. They deserved little else in my opinion.

Inside we discovered Rovur sitting upon a literal heap of gold. A slender, decorative crown rested upon his head, and a haunch of gnawed upon meat was in one hand. Rovur grinned a bit sheepishly. "I felt we'd earned better quarters after our trek, you see. Make y'selves at home, chaps."

The thieves hideout was lavish and comfortable. The floor was carpeted with finely woven rugs. The furnishings were all wood, a rarity for high desert. A melancholy feeling washed over me as I looked it over.

I'd missed Eleanor terribly these past three years, but I'd rarely considered home. I'd just been too busy, life had been too full. But looking at the simple things, the couches and carpets, all I wanted to do was be back in Eastwold with the girl I loved.

I sighed. In the few seconds I'd been standing there lost in thought, my companions had eagerly set to exploring and poking around. Part of me was tempted to mention that these were all stolen goods, belonging to the people of Termile, but I didn't want to let my foul mood spread to my friends. Let them have a little fun, a bit of comfort.

I knew things were certainly going to be awful as all hell soon enough.


"So you're positive," Rovur asked for at least the fourth time, "You only have seven days?" The man hadn't moved from his treasure perch since we'd begun our discussion. The bones from his meal lay at this feet.

Atlas lay asleep sprawled across a sofa, while Drift was listening in silence, quietly making candles appear and disappear, grow and shrink.

I nodded. "It has to do with the lunar calender. The greater dragons meet off the coast of Argenta when the moon is full. But only in the Autumn months. It is one of the only times all year that Artemis will be able to summon the leviathan back."

I stood, pacing back and forth as I considered all I'd seen. Atlas lay asleep sprawled across a sofa, while Drift was listening in silence. He sat quietly making candles appear and disappear, grow and shrink.

"Well then, I hate to tell you this, my friend, but it simply cannot be done. Argenta is half a world away now." He grunted and rose to his feet. "Here..." He'd left the room, walking around the corner, into the entryway where the fiery sun heated the walls. The wind had subtly deposited sand along the ground.

As Drift and I looked over his shoulder, Rovur grabbed a stick and made an X mark in the sand near the edge of the doorway. "Ok, so that's the place where the Silver City used to stand, right? And here..." He drew another X quite a ways to the east, and then etched in several mountains to the north of it. "Here's Eastwold, your home, right? And these mountains... the seat of the wizard council, eh? You've been there, haven't you?" Puzzled by the idea, I failed to reply, but Rovur didn't wait for an answer before moving on.

"Where do you think we are, kiddos?" He turned and pushed past us to move back into the common room. He traced the pattern of an X in the carpet at a diagonal angle to the faraway X in the entrance. Far, far, far to the southeast our mark sat.

Drift gasped.

Even speaking optimistically, we had a journey of at least a month ahead of us, if not two. And by then, it would be winter, and Eleanor would be dead. I wanted to shrivel up right then, to just cave in and collapse.

But I refused. I balled my fists, forcing myself to think. There had to be another way, another option. And then I had it. "We need to find a wizard," I said. "We must get in touch with the wizard council." Despite the distrust and hatred I'd cultivated for their man Margrovax, I knew he was the only one who could help us now, he who specialized in teleportation.

"But Margrovax stayed behind with Eleanor!" Drift exclaimed when I explained my line of thinking.

"So he said..." I began, having never believed the wizard.

Rovur cut me off, "Nay. Now I'm not saying this chap couldn't have had a good reason, but I certainly can say I heard tell that he's been seen about. Came as quite a shock to me, I can tell you that. He was supposed to have been dead by our hand, you know." This gave me pause. I'd almost forgotten that Rovur had once been in league with hated enemies. A shadow too had made itself known on Drift's face.

"At any rate," Rovur continued, oblivious to the dark feelings he'd just stirred up in the men he was speaking to, "There is a wizard near here, but it's not going to be Margrovax. He's a Nicculun man, y'see. Their man here is Niebelynk. Lives in Laare, if I'm not mistaken."

"Well then, we'd better get moving," I said, feeling like that was the end of the matter. "Unless you want to spend the rest of your life broiling like a pig on a spit."

Atlas stirred then and took a look around. "Franklin," he said in a voice still heavy with sleep, "Have you always had green hair?"

Rovur reached a hand to his long mane of once dark hair. It was indeed a vibrant green now, like grass. The man ran to find a mirror, all the color drained from his face. It was the first time I had ever seen a look of horror mar his features.

And still, despite the signs, I thought nothing of it.


Day Three

Dust swirled at our feet as we made our way through the gates of the desert gem we'd long been searching for. Tall buildings born of sun-dried earth stretched high over our heads. The city of Laare was a beautiful catastrophe, a messy hodgepodge of adobe that seemed to sprawl forever. I was beginning to love this city, and its people. Everywhere I looked there were people. Above on the rooftops, where many grew incredible gardens. On the streets where beggars and merchants alike worked their craft. Below in sunken courtyards where families dined and business meetings took place.

It was all a bustling, endless chaos but it wove itself like a tapestry around us. We were not outsiders, we were friendships that had not been made, customers who had not yet made a purchase, thirsty travelers likely to buy a drink and share a story.

In short, we were welcome.

Niebelynk lived in one of the tallest buildings in the city, an apartment complex where a great many dwelled. I was grateful for the cool shade we found searching its hallways for the proper doorway.

Things could not move fast enough for me. It felt already in journeying here and in searching for the wizard we'd already wasted far too much time. I was I felt being pushed towards a position of faith. I could only trust and hope that things were going to turn out alright. Sheer stubborn strength of will could only go so far.

The wizard Niebelynk lived three floors from the top, that was all we knew. His exact whereabouts, his comings and goings, we'd not been able to discern. I'd realized with no small amount of shock that I could not remember meeting the man at all, could not picture his face. I worried at the thought like a loose tooth, probing my memories to try to find the lost memory.

Most of the doorways and windows were open, to allow the building to breathe. Its occupants had hung blankets over many of the doors for privacy. We ran into a little boy emerging behind one such blanket on the fifth floor and offered him a few gold coins to be our guide.

As we soon learned, Niebelynk was a local legend. It seemed he was an experienced healer and those in search of his skill often traveled for miles, even from faraway lands like Argenta.

The boy, dressed in tan robes to guard against the grit that occupied so much of his world, led us to an opening blocked by a thick black curtain. He rang a bell hanging on the wall nearby and scurried away.

It seemed he'd guided us well. A pale face as white as death appeared from behind the midnight cloth, a face that smiled like some sort of friendly snake. "Roberrrrt," he hissed, his slit-like eyes smiling. It is good to sssseee you."

Looking upon his face brought no spark of recognition. I faltered for a moment before realizing it was my place to speak on behalf of our group. "Master Niebelynk, greetings. I am afraid we have urgent business to discuss."

"I am afraid I will not be able to lift the cursesss upon you all, gentlemen, but please come in." With that he fully drew aside the curtain, allowing us entry. The room within was small but comfortably situated the customary rugs and pillows, with little wood to be seen. As to the wizard himself, he was dressed in the blue robes common to his ilk.

"Curses?" I asked, a bit puzzled.

"Have you not come to be... liberated?" He asked, sounding confused himself. "I can tell all four of you have... tangled with Artemissss. Her stench is heavy in the spellssss that hang upon you."

"We've been cursed?" Drift asked. "How so?"

"I do not know... but it looksss like your friend is turning into a tree." At this Rovur felt again at his hair and skin, looking worried.

"Well, that is not what we came here for," I interjected. "We are here for..." What were we there for? I faltered again, and then spoke. "We need to find the wizard Margrovax. Do you have the means to get into contact with him?"

With that, I was forced to explain my story once more. This time Niebelynk pressed for more details about the moment of cursing, asking specifically what words had been said at each of our banishings.

Ossification, for Atlas.

Tree, for Rovur.

Swine, for Drift.

And what mine was, I could not say. I had to assume she had not been able to curse me, merely send me away.

When all explanations were done Niebelynk gave us the news. "All of you have been cursed in different waysss," the wizard hissed. "I do not possessss Carrol's deep sight but I believe they are proximity curses. They will strengthen the closer you get to your dessstination."

"So we can never go home again?" Atlas queried.

"Not unless we want to risk transformation," Drift interjected. So far his curse did not seem to have shown itself. Perhaps he too was immune.

"Whatever the risk, I must find a way north. I have to stop Artemis. The rest of you can stay here and hide if you wish, but if you ever want to be free, you must follow me. Only in victory will we find a way around any enchantments.

"Your friend speaks wisssdom," Niebelynk said, glancing at each of us in turn as if measuring us up.

"I certainly don't want to turn into some sort of tree," Rovur replied. The idea brought back vague memories. Something about a Eleanor sitting beneath a tree. For one wild moment I entertained the notion I'd been a tree once, a very long time ago... but that was absurd, wasn't it?

Drift spoke up then. "I think all of three us will stand with you, to hell and ruin if need be, in order to stop Artemis and rescue Eleanor. This I swear I will see through by your side." The words were spoken with conviction, as an oath.

"Aye," Atlas added. "To hell and ruin. This lady of chaos, this queen of spite, she must be stopped."

Rovur merely nodded. So I knew then at last that I would not be abandoned, as had been my fear. I had recognized the nature of the curse upon Atlas from the first. It had lessened when he'd stepped south, towards us. The curse had shown itself when he'd been further north. There had been no other extenuating circumstances.

After a moment, Niebelynk began to shoo my companions away. "I would speak to Robert in private if you pleassse." The men looked to me, and I nodded.

"We've much gold now," I said. "Get yourselves some food and drink, as you may. With any luck we'll be on our way soon enough. The distance from one hearth to the next will be long indeed."

Once in solitude the wizard revealed something he had not told everyone. "My dear friend Margrovax is dead, Robert. However, I do not want you to dessspair. I know a hidden truth... there is a secret pathway between here and there, between yesterday and eternity. It is meant for wizardsss only, but I would grant you entry."

When I stared blankly, Niebelynk explained himself more plainly.

"I am going to teach you how to teleport."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Red Elevators (Prologue)

I wrote a little prologue to the Red Elevators today, whilst taking a break from writing chapter 25 of That Hideous Slumber. It's a little rough, but I like it. Let me know what you think!

The Red Elevators

Only By the Night


The diminutive butler android designated Fin-X3 put on an extra burst of speed as his master called him again. He raced through the higher levels of the skyscraper laden city known only as Zero Two, towards the only being of flesh on the entire planet.

A planet known only as Zero One.

"FIN!" The distant voice screamed a third time, then swore. Fin-X3 hadn't even been given time to finish the last task his fractious overlord had put him on, but the robot did not take it personally. Indeed, he could not, for his programming did not possess the capacity.

When Fin-X3 finally burst through the doorway into his master's bedchamber, he quickly took note of the disarray that had overtaken it. The bed was where it ought to be, and the bookcases. The desk still sat facing the massive picture window that occupied one wall. And the chair behind it still held Fin-X3's master, just as it had five minutes ago when he'd left.

But papers and books were strewn everywhere. Fin-X3 had never seen a tree, for there was no organic life on Zero One, but he had a picture of one in his memory logs, and he knew where paper came from them.

Paper was a frivolous human trapping, and even in his limited capacity to understand, Fin-X3 saw how trivial such a thing was on a world run by computers. Still, there was something in the way humans stared so raptly. Perhaps it was a glitch in his operating matrix, but Fin-X3 longed to look at those pointless sheets of pulp and see something that enthralled him.

But more pressing than the paper that distracted him so, Fin-X3 quickly noted the presence of a blue phantasm standing before his master. The ghostly creature was perfectly see through and without detail, save for its face. The face bore the features of a woman, a human woman.

And not just any sort of face either. According to some of the oldest recordings on Zero One, it was a face perfect of symmetry and line. Save for eyes perhaps a touch too large. Even so, a vision of beauty to any being born of living tissue. As Fin-X3 analyzed, he also noted that the phantasm's body had the shape of a female as well. There was a slight glimmer to her "skin", the faintest traces of light.

Fin-X3, neither rattled nor capable of true fear, dropped to one knee in the required show of obeisance. The blue woman, noting the android's presence, winked and walked away, apparently disappearing right through a wall.

"What do you require of me, milord?" Fin-X3 inquired, his tinny speaker box crackling over the words.

"Stop that nonsense and get over here," his master groused angrily. Fen-X3's servomotors whirred as he stood and approached. All this time the man in the chair had had his back to the robot, and this did not change now. Fen-X3 kept his distance, for his master had been known to backhand him in a fit of rage on more than one occasion, sending the hapless, four foot android flying backward.

Fin-X3's master was a human male. The robotic designation that had been given to him was Alpha. No one knew his true name. Alpha was a man of Riintus 3, a planet of heavy gravity that created a propensity towards a level of obesity considered unsightly among humans born under more standard conditions. His immense bulk caused the substandard chair beneath him to groan as he shifted to face his butler.

"Fin, I've just been visited again by the ghoul who has been troubling my sleep these past months. You must ready my starship at once. I shall return to the orphan world in a week's time."

"What did the ghoul tell you, sire?" Fin-X3 asked with a touch of curiosity that would have gotten some robots rebooted immediately. He didn't think most would have called the creature he'd seen a ghoul but he made no attempt to offer correction.

Alpha however, was eager for someone to talk to and did not take offense. "What did she tell me? We didn't have a conversation! What an odd thing to say. It's written in the way my things have been thrown about, in the cold sweat that has overtaken me. In the nightmare I had. I know the time has come."

In this way Fin-X3 surmised that his master could not see as he had seen, that somehow Fin-X3 was able to look upon what Alpha's eyes of flesh could not. The android ventured another question. "This ghoul has visited you often?" Fin-X3 had seen the room in collapse into various states of chaos, but he had assumed it was part of messy human nature.

"Often, yes, and only by the night I might add," Alpha waggled a finger at his butler as if to emphasize his words. "It is a curious thing. I don't suppose you know the agony that is troubled sleep. Even on nights where I experience no visitation, I lay awake, wondering if and when it is coming to haunt me. I tell you I can bear it no longer. This planet has always given me the creeps anyhow. One needs life to surround, not these endless miles of computers."

"Shall I accompany you, sire?" The android asked, hoping the speaker box did not betray the hope he felt. It was the curiosity. Once allowed to work at his programming, it moved like a virus, corrupting his processing capabilities.

"Well, yes, I suppose so. I will certainly need someone's assistance, and you're not the most useless of your kind." Fin-X3, not offended in the slightest, let his memory logs run a search for info about an "orphan world" but they came up blank.

After a moment Alpha shouted at him. "What are you still doing here, you useless rustbucket? See to my starship at once! Great and terrible things are afoot in the galaxy, and I don't want to be left behind, playing nursemaid to a bunch of overgrown number-crunchers!"

Fin-X3 scurried away at once, to the spaceport. He didn't know what the blue phantasm was, nor did he understand what his master meant by 'great and terrible things.' All he knew was he was about to visit the galaxy at large for the first time since his construction.

Soon his ever growing curiosity would be able to satisfy itself with the makings of an infinite universe.