Snippet again

Another story I started, based in the world of The Ace of Knives story I sold.

===

The wild yellow dance of flames.
The scent of smoke.
Your screams.

You’re in my arms, you hold onto me tight, and we sit as the flames surround us and climb into the night sky, and you whimper, a sound almost consumed by their crackle and hiss. You get frantic at them licking at your sleeve, scream as the hungry flames cause a blister to appear on your pale skin. You wonder at my own untouched black sleeves, at my implaceable calm.

“Because this is just a dream,” I remind you once more. “It is not real.”

Your fear of imminent death, your panic as your clothes begin to be consumed, fades along with your fearful moans. You regain composure. Your back straightens, a stable, confident clarity shines in your dark eyes, something I rarely see in them these days.

The fire disappears. We wake in your bedroom, on your bed. You rise and extricate yourself from our embrace. You look into my eyes, the sober clarity I saw while lost in your dreamworld replaced in the real world by a fragile skittishness that makes your eyes dart hither and yon.

“Thank you,” you say softly to me.

You look into my eyes, mother to daughter, a broken toy past its playable date, uncertainty and gratitude trading places within your eyes, along your features.

I kiss your forehead, lay you back down onto the bed, and pull up the covers, telling you goodnight before heading to my own room.

Birthday Snippet

Story I’m working on based in the world of The Ace of Knives

====

Out past the curb there’s a man covered in filth, ranting in the road. Making a beeline for where Gabriel and I are sitting.

The muscle are on it in seconds, closing in on him.

There’s something about him. An aura, perhaps, of magic. Perhaps even dark magic.

Gabriel stops mid sentence and falls silent.

His eyes narrow.

The security detail closest to us says, “That’s the guy we almost ran over, sir.”

The derelict man’s laughing. “I had started thinking that all my efforts were in vain, my resources were to no end, and I was at a loss… and you find me.”
“What is he talking about?”
“I don’t know.”

The muscle stop short of him, at a loss. On the one hand, this seems suspicious. On the other hand, it’s becoming apparent that this derelict person knows Gabriel.

The man eyes them. “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay where you are.” His words vibrate. They fall to their knees. I feel it behind my eyes. Like black trying to show itself–trying to appear–under the brightness of the sun. These guys wouldn’t be ones to shy away from a conflict, be it physical or supernatural. Something’s up, and it’s come for Gabriel. And these guys aren’t equipped to handle it. Even though they can’t move, they’re still poised, on guard.

The man seems to have finished staring them down. He turns his attention back to Garbiel. The air goes back to feeling normal.

“Everyone knows about Mary–that one was easy to cover up, cast aside–but no one knows about Barbara. Or the others. Do they?”

Gabriel’s eyes narrow. The flint flares in his pale eyes, bright like off the edge of a knife. Then, just like that, in the blink of an eye, the charm is on. I realize I’m witnessing him using his gift. His smile is brilliant, his tone warm, welcoming. The effect almost feels like a beam of light, but it’s not directed at me. “Who are you?”

“The name’s Ashe. I’m here for Barbara. You’ll remember the name.”

Gabriel falters for a bit. Maybe whatever he’s doing’s not working on the man. He tries again, a kinder, gentler tone. “What do you want?”

“You’ve got a way with words, with people, don’t you, Gabriel? Well… I’ve got a way with words too.”

The smile melts from Gabriel’s face. His features go singularly grave. The flint in those blue eyes flares up again, and I’m reminded of how he spoke to the women earlier, how he eyed the one.

“There it is. The monster behind the mask. Very few know of your lingering rage issues, do they? They think their almighty Gabriel’s no shadows and all light. Except for those unfortunate few who manage to get real close. Too close. Like those women. Like Barbara.”

Gabriel doesn’t reply. His quiet has taken on a patient, lethal quality. I’m beyond wary.

“She paid the ultimate price for not filling that void that’s eating away inside of you, that need only violence could fill.”

The man pauses.

“And for telling you that to your face.”

Something else is happening here; it’s in the air. Gabriel’s eyes flick briefly to the security men.

“Well, here’s an end to it, Gabriel. I’m gonna tell you what’s gonna happen to you from now on.

That easy likability of yours that you use, your gift to charm others so… it’s gonna turn on in against itself. Those very ambitions that got you to where you are today are from now on only going to curdle everything good around and inside you. You’re gonna shrivel up and disappear, Gabriel; everyone’s going to desert you. No one’s going to want to deal with you, no one’s going to want to risk being near you. I don’t know where you’re finally going to end up, but it’s gonna be nowhere good: maybe on the side of the road somewhere, begging for change. Ranting on about how great you once were. How your words once could move mountains. Maybe in a ditch. But when you end up where you end up, then you’re gonna be done. That’s the curse I place on you, Gabriel. If there’s any good that can come out of my gift, and if there’s one thing that I can do for Barbara, let this be it.”

And with that the man turned and walked away.

 

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Matt Moore’s thoughts on Robin William’s death

Quoth he:-

I can’t help but wonder if we are promoting a terrible side-effect: the idea among those in the grips of depression’s falsehoods and deceit that the world will celebrate you in death more than they appreciated you in life. That is, people will only love you after you are gone.

THIS IS BULLSHIT.

Read more.

And here’s Cracked.com’s thoughts on what I tend to say myself:- “Those who laugh the loudest, cry the hardest.”

Robin Williams’ death stumped me, writing-wise, for the day. I watched the 11 o’ clock news report and almost teared up.

That’s when I realised it had affected me more than I thought.

And it’s because of what Matt Moore says.

Snippet time

This novel snippet may have tongues a-wagging… as it were.

===

It would seem that I have a visitor.

Through the part my fingers make in the curtains, I noticed a black luxury car rolling up. I stepped away from the window.

Outside, in the parking lot in the midst of repairs, tires crunched over gravel. A car door slammed.

I went to the phone. Leroy picked up.

“I have a visitor. Where are you?”

“Watching you.”

“Ah. What see you?”

“A peculiar small procession heading your way.”

“Keep your eye on them. See where they go.”

I put the phone down and stood there, waiting for the wards guarding the door to go off.

One did. And it wasn’t a sure sound, the tinkling of the bell saying neither friend or foe. They have confounded my wards.

Still, if they intended to come crashing in, all pell-mell and intent with harm, I’m sure they would have done it.

So down I went to the door.

A man stood, distinct, between two others who were obviously there to guard and accompany him by their dress.

Magical wards were sewn into his fine crimson suit; from them I can feel a palpable aura of magic.

His hair was a chilly gold, gelled hard enough to stop a bullet. I looked into his eyes. They were the blue of deadly patience, the blue of the light off the sharp edge of a blade. Eyes that said, “I will wait to kill you.”

And he oozed a genteel menace.

He seemed quite sure in his power and physical autonomy as he idly removed a black glove from one hand and put it out to one of his guards. The guard lifted a decorated wooden box into view. From it too, I could sense magic. The guard opened it, taking out a human tongue. He placed the moist, pink object in the man’s waiting hand.

The man placed it in his mouth, the muscles of his pale, firm jaw working under the light of my doorway, his gaze inward. When he was satisfied he took in a deep breath, focusing his attention back to me, seemingly energized as he replaced his glove, bestowing me a smile with ashen, taut lips.

What was this?

On Fangs for the Fantasy’s post:- “Mental Illness and the Non-Neuro-Typical in Urban Fantasy”

Fangs for the Fantasy has a post over at their blog titled “Mental Illness and the Non-Neuro-Typical in Urban Fantasy“. I highly recommend it.
This applies to my short story The Ace of knives that I just sold, where I feature mental illness in a dark fantasy context. I have a novel I need to finish where the mental illness is in a fantasy context; but here are the quotes that came at me from the computer screen.
The mentally ill are often freakish horrors that add to the protagonist’s misery and torment until they can escape the unjust abuse. And that “unjust” abuse is important – because we’re expected to care much less about the torment of the mentally ill inmates; the “justly” abused.
Yes. THIS.
The cryptic information resource is one way the non-neurotypical are used to stretch out the plot, another is the random, unpredictable or even whimsical mentally ill person. They can be relied upon to stretch the plot in any direction because they do not make sense. The idea is that a mentally ill person will do ANYTHING and doesn’t need a motive (or a coherent one) because MENTAL ILLESS.

This not only advances the trope of mentally ill people being completely random but also adds to the very common and highly damaging trope that mentally ill people are dangerous.

And this is serious. Mentally ill are still being unnecessarily hurt and killed in encounters with law enforcement.

And this bit on lazy writing:-

The use of mental illness in this way is obviously dehumanising. The mentally ill person isn’t there to be a character – they’re a roadblock. Their mental illness isn’t a developed part of their character, it’s a convenient tool with which to extend the plot line for another week or so. They could be replaced by a faulty search engine or random severe weather or some other random, impersonal event. The use of mental illness in these plot lines is laziness – “mental illness” becomes an answer to any questions, a way to stretch the plot when there isn’t enough storyline, a way to add random events when they can’t be logically incorporated and a quick dash of motive for a bad guy who the writers can’t be bothered to characterise.

More on lazy writing:-

These are not characters, they’re roughly used tools, narrative tricks and lazy writing – and the result continues to perpetuate toxic tropes that continue to stain how we treat the mentally ill in society

Down in the comments, @fionnabhair says something which I agree with:- “It’s not so much relief at not being “crazy”- though with the stigma surrounding mental illness, that might still be a factor- but relief at knowing one’s senses can be trusted.”

You can follow Fangs For the Fantasy on Twitter at  @Fangs4Fantasy.

As of now, I am (going to be) a published author!

My very first short story acceptance on a story I both worked my ass off on, and loved.

The Ace of Knives” has been accepted for Postscript To Darkness 6.

A pyro in Team Fortress 2 named “The Ace of Knaves”, Amal El-Mohtar’s “Wing” and “Hoarding” planted the seed, well-timed words watered it, nourished it, made it grow.

And it left the nest, found a home.

I’ve squealed thanks on Twitter already, run amuck, hit things while running amuck, and ran amuck some more. So.

It will be published early next year.

More details then.