Self’s MC Writes a Letter to the Archbishop of Madrid

This self-isolation thing is the gift that keeps on giving. Self is churning out 16th century correspondence like nobody’s business.

Here’s an excerpt from a letter she — or rather, her Main Character — composed about twenty minutes ago. It’s first draft (though self has been reading 16th century for months now, so the voice is definitely something she is used to). Apologies for the lack of transition between paragraphs. Her MC’s a little, shall we say, distracted!

Your Reverence,

This is not the first time the English have resorted to such methods. In fact, I am told there are half a dozen Spaniards held in such manner. The situation of the prisoners is very precarious, for the English say they have no compunction about hanging them if no ransom is forthcoming.

In other news, the Filipinas is much heartened by the fact that three galleons made it unmolested to New Spain. They will shortly be on their return journey, and I have put in an order for two icons of the Blessed Virgin.

Those English blackguards! They’re nothing but mercenaries!

Also, please hurry delivering those Blessed Virgin icons to Isla del Fuego.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

“Spores” Part 3

More sorting! More profanity!

As self has already said, written in Dublin!

Thanks again to decomP for publishing this, 2016!


Now K making delicate noises over there on her side of the table.

“The fuck is this—?” I exclaim. My fingers are snagged on a Changeable. “How did these get in with the others?”

K stops. Looks guilty. Bends her head to have a closer look at what I have in my right hand. “Oh,” she says. And starts to hum. Even though her voice is low, I think I hear her say “lash” and “blood.” She swats the Changeables out of my hand, as if they were nothing. “Leave them,” she says. Against the white-tiled floor, they look dove-colored. “I’ll take care of them later.” She notices me gaping. “Seriously,” she says. “I’ll take care of them.”

I’m shaking. She isn’t afraid. Of him. She looks at me again. “I know, R. I know.”

“What the fuck is wrong with you—” I say.

“Come on,” she says. “I’m mad. Mum says I could drive anyone to…well, you know.”


K has very quick hands, I must say. I hate those slimy Changeables. They’re rascally, which means they’re quick to mutate, and almost impossible to spot. If only three or four of them had gotten through—oh, they come after ya.

My jaw starts to ache, as if the boss had just landed another good one. But now he never has to, and he knows it. Trembling at just the memory.

K nonchalantly scoops the Changeables up from the floor, with her bare hands. I’ve never seen anyone do that before. She really must be crazes.

Her fingers are an angry, violent red. They must hurt terribly. Either that, or something has killed off her nerve endings. Or she just wants to die.

She nudges the door to the ovens with her left boot. The door slides back with a rusty groan. The fire is hungry and seems to lap out at her.

“Watch out—” I say.

But by the time I get the words out, she’s dumped the Changeables into the oven and slammed the door shut again. This whole time, I’ve stood rooted to the same spot.

“Hello?” K says, snapping her fingers. Then points to the table. “Shouldn’t you be arranging those Poriales? Into brackets?” She adds, for good measure, “You lousy Common!”

I finally smile, though feels like my face is breaking.


Next post will be longer: I’ll post the whole second half of the story.

In the future, mankind is dying so reproduction is controlled by the State, and it’s very hierarchical: Earthstars mate with Silverleaf, Common with Common, etc.

Trigger Warnings: Under-Age, Non-Con

“Spores” Part 2

Context: K and R are paired up in a lab (They sort. What do they sort? Something). They don’t get to leave the lab until they’ve met their quota. K has a crush on the boss, who’s Earthstar. She and R are Common (not supposed to look at Earthstar). R (the narrator) told the boss “We be needing foxes” and got punched in the face for his impudence. That’s why K keeps offering him remedies. But he rebuffs her.

Self wrote this in Dublin. You can tell.


“Here,” she says finally, pulling something yellow, bell-shaped, out of her pocket.

I shake my head.

“You sure?” she says. “I got these fresh.”

Hours go by. Then K says, “He’s a stump, that one. Jesus.”

Me standing up straight, trying to forget the pain in my right cheek. “I don’t think we’re at liberty to discuss,” I say.

K’s eyes well up. Copious.

“Shut it,” I say. I don’t want to hear another word. Sighs and pity, I don’t need. Especially her sighs and pity. “I won’t ever look as good as I do now.”

K begins to laugh. Then she sees my face. Her right hand claps over her mouth. “Oh.” I want to cuff her.

“You might be wanting a piss soon,” she says. “Then, if blood comes out of you…”

“You’ll be wanting to feel my fist,” I say.

“Oh,” she says again. But this time, she looks sad. She says, strange-voiced, “I’ll bring oak milk tomorrow. Might help.”


When my friend Summer lay under the beechwood seems a lifetime ago, puking insides, puking until her stomach was a strange convex shape, what happened was, I heard a whooshing noise, and then from the other side of the trees came a Sand Spirit. Drum-beat Ta-ra! It came down from the sky, propellers whirring, dredging hay and thistles. Then snapped her right up.

As they used to say in Marble Arch, when some play was on: The Lady Exits.

For a long time after, I stayed under the beech, whispering Summer, whatya reckon to all this and watching two yella bitterns wing from branch to branch to branch. Until the shadows chased me home.

In P-1, the teachers tell, Heaven is up a winding stair. Hell is like falling off the Whitecliffs—down and down and down and down. Limbo is—somewhere between. Those lessons always gave me the frights.


Part 3 posted here.

“Spores”: Part I

This story, originally published August 2016 in decomP, is one of self’s favorites. decomP is no more, so self will post the story here, in sections. The story’s about violence, how it roots. How there are classes, even in the future. Earthstar is top class, and they can mate with Silverleafs. The bottom of the class hierarchy are Common. And the worst thing you can call another person is “lousy hedgehog.” (lol)

She was reading a book on mushrooms at the time. Which is how she got the idea for the story title. Because it’s about reproduction. In a world where humanity is dwindling.

Self loves playing with language. She wrote this story in Dublin. She’ll post Trigger Warnings in the later sections.


K thinks the boss is in love with her.

She looks like a mosaic puffball, her skin covered with checkered patterns.

The boss was born Earthstar. He’d never look her way. His spores were meant to go else: to a Silverleaf. Or a Shag. Not K that smelled like wet rot. All scaly cap and throat gills. She belonged with other Common.

Varnish and varnish. I’ll say this for K: she is tenacious. Especially about her delusions.

“Me mum’s a thick,” she said once. “A focking thick.”

“Hmmm,” I said.

“She a root rotter,” K said.

“Hit brew and all?” I asked.

“Twelve pints one go. Honest,” K said.

K silent the rest of the day.

I’m weary of K. We have the worst job: growing giant polyphores, thousands and thousands of them, in little paper fans studded with 4-micron ova. The fans burn our fingers. Burn like sulphur. We have to wait hours for the new skin to grow back. Fingers never feel the same, after.

We can’t leave the room until Growing’s over. That means days. We’re the slowest team in the whole White Zone, the boss says. Probably even the slowest in the whole planet.

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack. Where those words come from, I don’t precisely know.

“We be needing foxes,” I say once.

“You lousy hedgehog,” the boss says, giving me a good one. My right eye swells up almost immediately.

“You not be asking me to fetch, you lousy Common!” He gives me another good one on the way out.

K trembling there in the corner.


Part 2 posted here.

Self Writes 16th Century

Self wrote the below section in a tone deliberately deadpan. It’s from her novel, Camarote de Marinero: Voyages.

An archivist to a young missionary who is shortly to depart Spain for the Philippines (1597):

  • As regards your health. The only hospitals are in Manila. You will be ill, but there is no help. There are two seasons, the dry and the wet. Fever is common during the wet season.

Self’s Dystopia

From First Life (Juked, July 2015)

Ku Ling’s Rule: First Life began in the Dome.

Nervous? Her asked.

I nodded. Ever since they moved our colony from Tonle Sap to the Philippines, my mind hasn’t been the same.

20191228_155802

 

Love Letter: Am Writing (Historical Fiction)

Dorotea has a very complicated backstory. She is high-born; her parents were taken by the plague; she was adopted by Matias’s family, who then treated her as a servant:

To Dorotea, My Love,

 Indeed, you were a somber, quiet child, who rarely smiled. But I cannot blame you for that, as you were left orphaned at a very young age. I heard mother remark that you were strong, and quick for your age. Whatever task you were given, you performed with cheerful energy. 

And then they put you to work in the kitchen. I grew up watching you fetch, carry, and scrub. I never heard a word of complaint from you. You swept floors, you did the washing – not just of my family’s, but of the other servants. Yet you never complained.  

You served others first, and then washed their plates. Your room was a straw pallet by the hearth. A dog should have been treated better. If the highest form of prayer is patience and humility, then, Dorotea, your place in Heaven is assured.

The only time anything like emotion could be seen on your face was during the singing of the psalms. Then, you seemed to forget yourself entirely, casting aside your shyness to raise your voice, loud and strong, and so heavenly was your voice that I could feast on its memory for a week. Nay, a month!

Do you remember that day when I found you sitting by yourself in the courtyard?

Am Writing Historical Fiction: Letter to Brother Matias from Dorotea (His Secret Love)

Dorotea writes from Spain. She is high-born and literate, a rarity for those times. Also: she is married to Matias’s brother (She has

Self’s MC, Matias, is a missionary on Isla del Fuego, a mythical island in the central Philippines.

January 19th 1671

Dear Matias,

I write this by the light of a weak candle, looking out the window at the morning star. It seems to wink at me. My God, I have not been able to sleep, not since your mother’s illness. Now, the year has turned, I force myself to pick up a quill and write to you. Her cheeks were still ruddy a week ago. Yesterday, her eyes were dull as marbles. Forgive me, my dear, for I must cause you pain.

Glass, Cups, Saucers: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Part 2

So fun, being able to participate in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. Here’s self’s second post on Glass, Cups, Saucers!

She’s sipping tea from the mugs Pat Matsueda sent to all contributors to Ms.Aligned 3.

Self has a story in the forthcoming volume of Ms. Aligned, edited by Rebecca Thomas. Thanks to Lillian Howan for telling her about the opportunity. So proud to be a part of this collection!

Contributors will read at the Hawai’i Book and Music Festival in November 2020!

Stay tuned.

First Causes: Quarterly West # 89

Self’s stories have this predictive quality.

Excerpt from First Causes:

There’s a bluish-green shadow on Big’s back, right between his shoulder blades. I see it when he disrobes for inspection.

What is the cause, I think? Is it Tumor? Is it Plague? Is it Virus?

 

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