Faster than you can say SET-UP

MC’s girlfriend is DULL. She does all her shopping in Knightsbridge. She is being set-up so that MC can find a more exciting life. After decades of reading novels, self is pretty familiar with every single narrative ‘tell’ in a book. And it’s really disappointing coming from Gaiman.

Listen, you aspiring writers out there: you do not need to set up a girlfriend/straw woman just because your MC is going to go in search of adventure, with a capital A. That is the most tired, cliché trope ever.

MC’s girlfriend provides him with uplifting reading: Dress for Success.

The deck, in other words, is stacked.

Not funny. Self was counting on spending at least a few days with this book.

SquareOdds #3: Fleet Street by Night

What is the SquareOdds Challenge all about? Go find out on The Life of B!

London has so many tiny alleys, so many nooks and crannies. She loves exploring by night. One year, she was in London to attend the annual Journalists’ Mass at St. Bride’s. She stayed at a wee hotel on Fleet Street. One night, she went exploring with Old Map Man, and he led her down narrow alleys and into wee churches, and pointed out the building that housed Friends of Friendless Churches.

Neverwhere, p. 9:

  • He realized that the actual City of London itself was no bigger than a square mile, stretching from Aldgate in the east to Fleet Street and the law courts of the Old Bailey in the west, a tiny municipality, now . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Goodbye, Neville! Hello, Neil!

Self decided Neville Chamberlain is a very, very limp reading subject. She’s sure he was a very upstanding gentleman, but please. In hindsight, he just looks really, really . . .

Onward!

She’s passing over Britain’s War in favor of a Neil Gaiman. The last Neil Gaiman she read was American Gods. Which means, it’s been a while between Neil Gaimans. And she decided to go with an early one.

Just look at the cover of this book! WOWEE! She heard it’s about a “secret London” that exists underground.

The first few pages are giving her a Philip Pullman/ Will Parry vibe.

Sold!

Made the Longlist

Found out today that my story made the longlist of LitMag’s Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction.

It was speculative fiction. I took a chance!

That is all.

“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.

Self’s Dystopian Imagination

dscn9988

Lake Annagmakerrig: 4:30 a.m., 8 November 2018

Boy was the last of four. Alive just this morning. Fell through the ice chasing after a shadow that he thought was food.

What food. What a fool. There’s no food on the ice. Not on top, not under.

Hadn’t he told the boy, over and over: Watch the sky. The food will come as a drop.

I been watching, the boy said. For weeks.

— from self’s short story “Ice”

Her piece was published in Bellingham Review’s annual on-line issue, November 2017.

Read it in its entirety, here.

Stay tuned.

Gloomy Forest 1 (#amwriting)

Self is attempting to finish all she has left unfinished.

Attempt # 1:

The woman took the letter and set off, but soon got lost and found herself wandering in a forest. In the gathering darkness she saw a faint light glimmering among the trees. She made for it and eventually found herself in front of a cottage. Inside, an old woman sat dozing at a cheerful fire. The old woman took fright at the sudden appearance of the stranger and demanded, “Where have you sprung from and where are you going?” The woman answered, “I’m taking a letter” but forgot everything else. In the end, what is true is what remains.

 

When Will She Finish This (From a Year Ago)

TO DO

Weekend in Mendocino: Clouds lower, spit rain. The meadows on the headlands are green like Ireland’s. No flowers yet, it’s still early in the year.

Out there, where the surf meets the cliffs, lives a Kraken.

Aliens! The Overstory, p. 97

  • Aliens land on earth. They’re little runts, as alien races go. But they metabolize like there’s no tomorrow. They zip around like swarms of gnats, too fast to see — so fast that Earth seconds seem to them like years. To them, humans are nothing but sculptures of immobile meat. The foreigners try to communicate, but there’s no reply. Finding no signs of intelligent life, they tuck into the frozen statues and start curing them like so much jerky, for the long ride home.

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