An Update 24/10/13

A friend of mine has started her own blog (it’s both in Polish and a work in progress). That reminded me of my own little corner of the Internet. So I’ll bring you up to speed, since I know you’ve been dying to know.

Currently I’m working quite a lot as I’ve taken on an additional role at work, along with a number of YL classes. I’m also coming towards the end of my Distance Delta with a lump in my throat. I need to pass this next assignment.

What else… Oh, I’ve started working on a piece of writing that might actually go somewhere long-term. I can best describe it as Noir Urban Elfpunk, I think. Those are three different links, by the way. It’s all thanks to this Youtube video, which inspired me to slide a character who has spent quite a lot of time in my stable into a newish genre for me. It’s working rather well so far, I think. We’ll see.

Anyway, it’s about an “Odd Job Witch” who gets embroiled in some mysterious vampire stuff which opens glimpses into her own past, whilst also working on a personal case for a high-ranking fey. Hopefully it’ll work out. I might post a bit for you when it has taken more shape (or just because I feel like it).

Oh, and I’m looking for a new housemate at the moment. I’ll be taking on the lease and as a result I’ve actually started getting the landlord to do stuff. It’s going to be expensive buying furniture and stuff, but it’ll all work out in the end.

Other than interpersonal dramas and a couple of tumbles of my bike, that’s all, really.

Here’s a picture I like. Have a good one, Mexico.

wpid-1374550021.jpg

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Jonathan Abel

Really lacking inspiration at the moment. The writing challenge petered out. The truth is, I thought I had my first novel, but that just turned out to be a bag of tropes. I’m trying to find a project now into which I can pour the same amount of time and passion, but I’m struggling. Here’s me trying to work out who the hell my sci-fi narrator is from here. This serves as a kind of prologue to the following post.

secret_agent1Jonathan Abel “Able Johnny” Reyes was famous, even if that wasn’t his real name. Not “lots of results on the Metanet” famous, but he was famous. Certain circles knew the right number to call to get something done. Indeed, as the human race started to expand out of the atmosphere, his kind were needed more and more.

For more than twenty years he was one of the best. No coup, industrial sabotage or revolution succeeded under his watchful eye. Of course, given the long leash the Human Alliance gave him, Johnny was able to partake in a wide variety of side projects. There wasn’t a gambler, importer or specialist retailer who didn’t know him in one context or another.

Then one day he disappeared. Able Johnny was just no longer on the grid. His comms went to answer services, his holos bounced and his name was irradiated from all records. That same week, though no one made the connection, a man apparently in his mid-thirties took over a grotty bar a mile above the London Gutters. He had cheap cybernetics in the shape of a left hand and walked with a limp a bar owner ought to be able to fix. That was five years ago.

Marcus Rodriguez didn’t like guests from his past. He assumed he didn’t, anyway. Tina was the first.

Living the Life Fantastic

Living on the Earth, living in the sky and living above the sky are three very different states of being. You have no idea.

On Earth

Earth

They don’t do tours of the Ground Floor, as a lot of city-dwellers call it. They can’t afford the insurance on the necessary gas masks. Even the Guttersnipes don’t walk around the Ground Floor without some kind of air filter or mask. The air smells like oil, grease and damp. The secretions of a couple of centuries of oil abuse now coat what we used to call ‘street level’. Even with modern electronic transport and the space fuel the throw down at us, we still can’t clear the filth that’s already here. And of course there are the industries down below who cannot or will not make that great extraterrestrial leap and who still pump their poison into the world. The Toffs have to have their tennis balls after all.

Of course, some ‘Snipes have their implants to keep them safe. Hell, sometimes you see a Joe on the street and he looks more toaster than man. Don’t know how they manage it myself. I like the pink squishy parts of a person myself. Then again, I don’t smuggle, smash or slide to earn my money. Not usually anyway.

Speaking of which, down here you can buy anything. I know that a lot of people say that, but I mean it. I once sat in a bar while a guy scarfed down a brown paper bag full of what looked like eyeballs. All blue. I stuck around though. Good beer in that place.

My advice? Wear a barker on your hip to save any part of you from ending up in a brown paper bag.

In the Sky

Sky

 

Here in the clouds you’ve got your styles and your fashions and whatnot. Up here with the Toffs, you can buy anything fancy. The architecture ranges from glass and steel from historical. None of the Old Earth landmarks are down where they started. A lot of them have been status-locked or reproduced up on Cloud 9.

The fashions are a little unpredictable. “Future of the Past” was a thing for a while; all silver jumpsuits and skin tints. A lot of the sentient gadgets got a boost for a while too. All pug-ugly if you ask me. Although I shagged a green ‘Martian’ fashionista once. That was fun. Couple of months later it was Victoriana chic. You couldn’t swing your cane without knocking off someone’s topper. I like Cloud 9, but it is a silly place.

In Space

SpaceI lived on an Outpost for a couple of years back in the ’20s. Just a small solar mine out near Venus. The funny thing about space and the asteroid quarries is that building this stuff is dirt cheap, so everyone lives in this idyllic Mediterranean community with a simulated sky and simulated sea breezes. The European ones, anyway. They’re also really subcultural. Aphro-3 was made up entirely of Italian Cybergoths and their families. Beautiful to behold but damn strange in their little mock-terracotta houses. Still, the pasta was good.

It’s funny the detail the build into these places though. I remember the fishing being excellent. In space. They were real fish, too. Not like the creepy little robots you get in the Earth resorts. I remember eating an Aphro-Salmon that was absolutely delicious. And not a circuit board in site.

As you can imagine, the night life is a bit niche-y, but an awful lot of fun. If you fancy getting off with a girl with a short skirt and plastic hair then I recommend Aphro-3 immensely. I’d skip Metabilis, though. Those chicks are freaks.

 

Writing Challenge Day 11

Day 11: What does your character do on a daily basis? What is their job? Do they have one? Write a scene from a normal day in your characters life.

I was having some real difficulty with Day 10, so I’m going to come back to it later. Is it cheating? Maybe. But I think I can give the blog police the slip if I’m careful.

 

It might surprise you to learn that I do in fact have a nine-to-five job. I do. No, really. It’s part of the Keepers’ Guild, so I can sleep out if needs be, but I really do do it. I work as an archivist at the City Library. I organise things, manage the online systems, direct people to where they need to go… oh, and I co-manage the secret library with a dragonblood.

Yeah, it sounds cool, but he’s always riding my arse about something or other. Despite the fact that Guild give me special dispensation as a “defender of the weak”. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it makes my extra-curricular work that much easier.

Florence the Dragon was waiting for me when I arrived. Yes, Florence. His long white hair was up in a ponytail above his tweed waistcoat and pants. I guess he’d already taken off his jacket and hung it over his scratched oak office chair. His shoes were cleaner and shinier than anything I owned.

He coughed significantly and gestured to a pile of translated Magic Era texts that I’d been avoiding and watched down his pointed noise as I approached. He didn’t say anything. Dragonbloods aren’t the chattiest of beings. When he was satisfied that my hands were getting dirty – quite literally; these books are old – he returned to his desk.

It took a couple of hours for us to get out first customer. By then my.admittedly shabby outfit was covered in dust, woodpolish and whatever other grime an ill-kempt library can accumulate. I shudder to think.

The customer was human, more or less. A warlock by the name of Jackie. Not a spellslinger or anything like that – that stuff isn’t possible in our world. All they can manage is a bit of low-level alchemy. He came in looking for magical viagra for one of his customers. I chuckled from the back shelves. He probably had “defender of the weak” status, too. I just got back to stacking the shelves.

Writing Challenge Day 9

Day 9: How was your characters first kiss? Who with? Where was it? How old were they? Write the scene.

Maria Fleming. She was amazing. She was a skinny little blonde thing who could read people’s minds. I didn’t meet her until about a year later – after her granddaughter had taught me a great deal about the Underworld as he rather melodramatically called it.

There was a party for all the ‘folk’ at a dingy little Working Mens’ Club a few miles away. It wasn’t the first time I’d met people like me – Mr. Fleming had introduced me to the community once or twice – but it was always an eye-opener. One time I went, I’d been in a mood because of some adolescent thing I couldn’t remember. I asked a dwarf about Snow White. He didn’t like that much.

Anyway, on this occasion I came out of the school around 5 to meet Mr. Fleming at his little pea green VW. He was leant against the bonnet smoking a handmade cigarette and talking to an angel sent down from heaven. Or at least that’s what my hormone-pickled brain thought at the time.

A bad experience in college taught me that angels don’t exist, just so you know.

Slim, blonde, skirt-wearing and outside (which is worth a lot to a boarding school kid), it was like Cupid’s arrow had hit me right between the eyes.

Cupid does exist. He’s gay and kind of a dick.

“Jamie, what took you so long? This is my granddaughter, Maria. Maria, this is my protege, Jamie.”

“Nice to meet you,” she almost-whispered in my direction. I think I just smiled like an idiot.

We jumped in the car – Maria and I in the cramped back seat ‘to have a chance to get to know each other.’ We didn’t say a word the whole way.

At the Working Men’s Club, the Unity, we quickly got lost in a crowd of handshakes and introductions. Non-humans have a real way about hospitality in my experience. Lovely, but terribly overwhelming when you’re a confused teenager. After a half-troll’s slightly sticky bear hug, I had to sleep away. I told everyone I was going to the bathroom and hid inside the fraying black velvet of the DJ booth. Like I said; classy place.

I had discovered my hidey hole on my last stressful visit to meet everyone. It was pretty spacious, since there wasn’t any built in equipment; just places to plug it in. Nonetheless, it was a bit cramped since it appeared to be full of an angelic blonde girl gripping her knees. I saw for the first time that she was a little younger than me. I pushed my nerves up into what I hoped was a comforting smile and scootched in next to her.
“First time?” I asked with a sudden burst of confidence.
She just nodded, not lifting her forehead from her knees.
“Yeah, they’re kind of intense.”
She nodded again.
“Are you okay?”
Finally she lifted her head.
“It’s just a bit scary.”
“I know. I think that’s why your granddad only comes every other month.”
She giggled. “Maybe. I’ll tell him you asked.”
“No!” I mock-gasped.
She smiled at me while the noise escalates outside our den.
“Thank you, Jamie.” She kissed me on the cheek and crawled out of oír hiding space.

I do have another story of teenage lust where I got my first ‘real’ kiss, but this is the kiss I always go back to: the kiss I earned. That was my first kiss.

To the full list of challenges.

Writing Challenge Day 7

Day 7: FREE DAY! Write any scene you want!

Today I’m going to work on a piece that I wanted to advance, and that was the inspiration to start these challenges. I’m hoping that by the end I’ll have something formed in my mind that can ultimately become a longer-form piece. Anyway, I’ll put the original in italics and go from there (including a little editing). I hope you enjoy it. As always, critiques are welcome.

She uses her body in a very interesting way – in exactly the way most woman get it wrong. She does not wear particularly tight or revealing clothes, and yet she uses her body in a way that ensures she keeps his interest entirely. Whenever she answers, her eyes flick from left to right as though she’s tracking some invisible sprite of conversational inspiration. As her large brown eyes are her best feature, this is a clever strategy. His eyes are fixed to hers. When she laughs, she tosses her head back and laughs with her whole body. Her lips shape each word perfectly and distinctly, engaging even those of us who can’t hear or understand what she says.

Her whole way is to make her utterly and completely inescapable. It works perfectly on the uninitiated. Hell, it almost works on me from the opposite end of the greasy train carriage. Then I remember why I’m following her. I remember what’s she’s done and worse; I remember who sent me and the things he would do if I failed. I needed to focus, I needed to forget about this ignorant idiot, but most of all, I needed another cup of coffee.

——————–

So here’s what happened: I was tracking down info on a cell phone for a rival company. Not a difficult job – just a case of finding the right email address, really. Anyways, I’m just leaving the Starbucks close to the cell company’s head office when a guy pulls me aside. Big guy. Like cartoon Superman big. All made out of square body parts. Big. Anyway, Big McBiggerson pulls me into an alley, right? Here’s me readying myself for a fight, and he says my full name and the job title the hidden folk use.

“James Matthew Wilson, Infomancer?”

I probably winced. I usually do. Damn silly name for a job. I kicked a juicy pizza box away before I answered. Best to show them you’re not afraid. This is doubly true if your underpants feel like an old pizza box. Did I mention he was big?

“How can I help?” I asked with my biggest shit-eating customer service smile. Under a gallon of beard, I don’t think he was impressed.

“It is time for you to repay your favour to Him.” I swear he pronounced the capital letter. I licked my lips and tried to think about how to say ‘no’ to Him. He had saved my life that time, but then again, he never called in nice favours. Then McBiggerson spoke again.

“Do not disappoint Him, Wilson. He would not appreciate that.”

——————–

packed-subway

So there I was on a late night train pretending not to watch her stalk this idiot norm. I’d never seen anyone flutter their eyelashes in real life before. It was utterly distracting. She led him off the train at the end of the orange line. I followed at a discrete distance. I ignored the beggars, street musicians and vendors of dubious food to the stairs out of the station. It was raining up at ground level and water had drenched my feet through the dark red Converse I’d chosen for a light stroll through town hours ago.

I followed them down a couple of crowded streets – she seemed entirely wrapped up in him and whatever he was saying. I knew that wasn’t true, of course. I’d seen her clock me by the ticket booth. It was only a matter of time before this became a confrontation. What was she? Far too smart to be a vampire, too real to be an elf and far far too beautiful to be a dwarf (no offense to any lady dwarves reading). I did a quick Google search using the area’s awful bandwidth, but to very little advantage, really. When it comes to monsters, there’s a lot of crap on the Internet.

Eventually, they came to a nondescript red door between two e.coli peddlers masquerading as fast food restaurants. She ushered him inside and leaned against the door jam. From my position at the other end of the dark street, I couldn’t see her too well. Ultimately I think she got bored. She looked towards me an beckoned with one slender arm.

She was waiting for me with hip and eyebrow cocked in amusement. She looked me up and down and licked her lips. Every movement carefully designed to turn my legs to jelly and my confidence to dust. Still, I managed to remain standing, and got the chance to hear her syrupy voice.

“Hello,” was all she said.

“Hello.”

“Why are you following me?”

“You know why.”

She looked me over again. Her nostrils flared and her tongue flicked out for a second. “Mmm.” She mmmed beautifully. “You aren’t a fighter.”

“No.”

She made to pounce at me, and I thought I saw her eye teeth begin to extend. I felt my heart stop for half a second and the world slowed down. My head Googled “mysterious animal attacks” without my permission and I saw what my body would look like in a few moments’ time.

That was when a dozen little metal flowers with yellow and red petals started sprouting all over her body. I tossed myself aside onto the wet concrete as her body jerked and shook. Hand-sized fangs burst through her gums before her body hit the ground. That was when a group of men in black combat gear started to surround us, their angry-looking tranq rifles still aimed at the downed creature. Not a vampire. Chemicals can’t take down a vampire. They don’t have the right internal organs to get bogged up the way humans do. And the way this thing did.

A man with a huge moustache and the biggest gun nodded down to me.

“Piss off, Wilson.”

I did as I was told. Sometimes survival was payment enough. That was when my phone rang.

“Good work, Infomancer. Although your debt to me is not yet paid.” It was Him. I’ve tried to remember what His voice sounded like. I just… can’t. I just remember the words. “You conducted yourself well. Although you might like to consider taking up arms. Your next test will not be so easy, nor will your backup be quite so formidable.

“I-”

The phone rang off. What comes of as mysterious in the movies is actually just bad manners. I hate that. I also hate imminent and inevitable danger.

To the full list of challenges.

Writing Challenge Day 6

Day 6: How was your characters childhood? Write a scene about them as a child. How was their home life? Their family? Their upbringing? Where did they grow up? What friends did they have?

2012-02-05-ALBERT-EINSTEIN-everybody-is-a-geniusPrimary school was pretty normal for me, really. I played, fought, bullied and got bullied. The whole thing was just normal. It was only in my first couple of years of secondary school that I really started to feel different.

“Genius” is a word we here a lot these days. Footballers, actors and musicians can be geniuses in their fields as much as physicists or biologists. I don’t mind that so much, but I did mind when it started being applied to me.

Thing is, when I was about 11 or 12, I started being able to answer questions. Any questions. About anything. If you asked me a question on any subject, I could answer in a snap. I didn’t really know how at the time, but I just could.

They pushed me into advanced programs and gave me extra homework and the rest of it. It was all very scary and exciting for a kid who was being told he was the best in the class, school or school history. Of course, that was when the beatings started. A day didn’t go by where I wasn’t bleeding, bruised or humiliated in some new and creative way. It’s funny how the stupid kids come up with the most inventive tortures, isn’t it?

Then I began to fail all of my advanced classes and a few of my normal ones. Since I just knew things, I’d stopped studying. This was fine for the simple, direct questions where they ask “who” “what” “where” or “when”. I had no real grasp of the answers I was providing, so I couldn’t analyse them in any real way. When I got all those pesky “why” questions I had absolutely nothing to say.

That was when they started testing me for autism and other learning disorders. They poked and prodded me; gave me a tutor, councilor and a “specialist”. It was never explained to me what his specialism was.

None of this helped with the daily beatings, of course.

One day I was putting on my shoes for school. Dad was usually still in bed while mum prepared me for the day. My older sister usually left half an hour earlier than me. That day was different, though. I had pulled on one shoe by the front door when I heard my mum call me into the living room. I answered its call immediately since adolescence hadn’t yet stripped it of all its power.

There they all were: mum and sister sitting on the sofa and dad in his time-worn armchair. He told me to sit. I did; on the floor by the cold fireplace. They told me that I would be changing schools to one that was much better suited to me. Somewhere were I could get more help. They didn’t tell me that the school board had voted to have me removed as a “divisive element” or that the counselor had given up on me. They just told me that I was going to a nice place, and that I’d sleep there during the week as it was very far away.

I remember sitting there on the cheap carpet wearing one shoe and one white sock and wondering what I had done wrong. Of course in hindsight, that was probably the most important day of my life. And maybe the worst.

 

 

To the full list of challenges.