Category Archives: Writing

Old writing: Mugglethorpe

A piece written about a gnoll-type creature, and its adventures…I have no idea what I wanted to happen in the end, but I liked the character!

Singing echoed through the trees; a slightly cracked, not unpleasant voice that broke on the higher notes and resonated on the low ones. It bounced off gnarled trunks and climbed up through the mossy leaves, creating odd echoes and harmonies.

“Knowing the land, knowing the ways, living here ‘til the end of days…” the voice continued, obviously in time with a walking stride. Then the voice lapsed into prose and became more of a happy chatter. “Well, we seen Mumps, and Gnoel…we has got lunch and dinner, and probably supper as well…and we had a good walk. Ent that right, Triffid?”

Triffid doesn’t seem to answer. The voice continued, “And today we be going to plant the mosses, and weed ‘em out as well…and Mumps gives us some seeds to plant as wells. We do that today, okays, Triffid?”

The voice came round the corner, appearing from behind a willowy tree. A small, squat figure, covered with a rather tattered square of material tied with a twisted, gnarled root that traps the fabric very effectively. It carries a small grubby pack on its back, and is followed by something that looks like a large, hairy woodlouse – either that or a spiky pillow on legs. Wandering over to the huge, gnarled specimen that stood to the side of a small clearing, the singer rummaged in the depths beneath the tatty cloak and produced something. Carefully inserting it into a crack in the trunk, the little singing figure turned it and slipped through the crack that appeared, followed by the woodlouse. The trunk snapped shut again and the woodland becomes silent.

Old writing: Earth story

I was branching out into sci-fi, trying to do a futuristic apocalyptic piece about astronauts returning to a broken Earth. Again, it ended up more of a character study than any sort of plot. There is a little more of this but it didn’t really go anywhere – you might be sensing that plots are my weak point!

Kawaii went into the medical room to see the people they had picked up. A vote had been taken, and they had decided to remain at the station until any more information had been gathered. Aver had recruited Lance to help him continue through the records, trying to work out what had happened to their planet.

The three people lay in the beds set into the walls, the healing mists gently curling over them. The Doc chimed as Kawaii walked in.

“Stable and successful.” it said quietly. “Shall I wake them?”

“If you could just wake the girl for the moment, Doc, and leave her slightly sedated? I want to talk to her. Let the other two sleep.”

The mist over the second bunk retreated. Kawaii pulled one of the chairs out of the wall and sat down, watching as the girl’s eyelids flickered. She wasn’t pretty, having a slightly mis-shaped nose and a thin face, but Kawaii could see animation and beauty in the face as the girl awoke. Her character gave shape to her features. She was still bemused as the mist fully retreated, so Kawaii put out a hand to stop her as she tried to sit up.

“Stay there.” she said gently, putting all the reassurance into the tone that she could muster. The head turned towards her, eyes large and an odd grey-green colour, filled with a slight panic and looking a little scared. “I am Kawaii, and you are on the spaceship Starlight. What is your name?”

Ah-ha, so she really was a telepath. Kawaii felt the touch on her mind and smiled, but tried again to get the girl to talk. “Do you have a name? Where are you from?”

A feeling of incomprehension, of curiosity, a slight fear. Kawaii fed reassurances back, and then began to make the link stronger, trying to get images, beginning with the Earth and the bundles tied to the metal, adding a sense of curiosity.

Back came a feeling of time and fear…her fear over their ship? No, other people’s fear of the ship. The choice of three outcasts as a sacrifice, maybe a wonder – they would delay the monster. The vibrations of the ship, and then nothing.

Why her, Kawaii mentally broadcast, why the three outcasts? Why outcasts?

The youth, a flash of an image – the boy bending over a heap of metal that Kawaii recognised as a skimmer, fiddling and mending. And a flash of triumph as he managed to power it, the hum starting again, even through they had found him and smashed it before he had got it to lift. He had been beaten for that, and not trusted. The other man knew stories and believed old tales of the moon, explained what the light in the sky was, tried to piece together records. He had come across them suddenly, from somewhere else. He looked different. And she knew what people thought, she was strange. They did not belong.

So what had happened? Did she know anything about the past, why the cities and machines had crumbled?

Fighting, anger. Something had gone wrong. The machines had gone wrong? The man would know. She didn’t.

Her name? Kawaii tried to frame the thought, as she had no real way of asking. In thoughts, people were automatically who they were. There was no need for names.

Incomprehension.

Kawaii resorted to sign language, pointing to her chest and saying “Kawaii.” The girl’s smile was shy, but she pointed to her chest and said, “Mere.”

Kawaii pointed to the where the young man was. The girl’s smile faded, but she said, “Willam.” Kawaii caught hints of an attraction and a sexual encounter in her portrayal of the young man. To the older man, she shrugged, then said, “Nou nom e Peter, but ich ne known em nom.” Kawaii smiled, understanding from her mind that they had called him Peter, but that Mere didn’t know his real name. She nodded, and then mimed hunger. Mere nodded.

“Doc, can you wake the other two?” Kawaii said. “I think I should introduce them to the rest of the crew.”

Old writing: variations on a theme

Two different versions of a scene that fits into a wider mythological story about Luck falling in love and requesting immortality for her lover. I’ve got the date as 2006 so I had read Sandman by then, but I know I was thinking of a similar idea before I read Gaiman’s excellent work.

It was Love who had come, hopping impatiently from one foot to the other. “C’mon, Time. I want to get this done.”

Time simply continued rummaging through the records in contentment, finally picking one out and holding it up. “Dark Side of the Moon. My player chewed up my third copy.” he said cheerfully. “Let me buy this and then I’ll come.”

“You’re asking the wrong person to hurry, Love.” Luck said from behind her sister. “He considers us too hasty. He has all the time in the universe, after all.”

“I know. It’s just that the rest of us haven’t.” Love said impatiently. At the counter, Time was rummaging in his pockets for change, and pulled out a few crumpled notes.

#

A record shop, with LPs and CDs in boxes and posters on the walls. Time is standing at one of the boxes, flicking through. He wears jeans and a jacket, scruffy and worn in a well-loved way. Love enters, trying to conceal impatience, and walks over.

LOVE: Will you come, Timos?

Time just gives her a glance and continued rummaging, seeming to be looking for something in an unruffled way. Love gets more impatient, hopping from one foot to the other and fidgeting. Time eventually finds what he is looking for, and holds the LP up with a contented smile.

TIME: Dark Side of the Moon. You ever hear Pink Floyd live?

Love shakes her head and continues fidgeting. Time takes the LP over to the counter. Luck enters the shop and comes to stand beside Love.

LUCK: You picked the wrong person to hurry, sister. He’s got all the time in the universe, after all.

LOVE: I know, but we haven’t. I want to get this over with.

Time is rummaging for change in his pockets and pulls out a few crumpled notes. He stows the LP carefully under his arm as he comes over and then nods to Luck.

TIME: Shall we go, then?

Old writing: Archivists

cartographerI’d forgotten how much I loved Mir…I’ve got this marked as 2006, which is probably about right. This is just a snippet, and it transformed into a story about people living on another world with the addition of a mystery bunch of time-and-space-movers, of whom Mark is one. It’s definitely got too much tell rather than show, and is still very mystery-girl-saves-the-day, but…I do keep meaning to go back to this sometime. Maybe Mir will show up in a future work.

The image is Cartographer by Donato Giancola, which was a lot of the inspiration.

A girl had been working at the table by the wall, unnoticed by Mark. All that he could see of her was a black leather jacket with the sleeves rolled up. She had dark trousers and sturdy calf-length boots, and she was bent over a scroll, drawing something onto it. Mark slipped off his chair, moving slowly over to try and see what she was doing. She was drawing on one of the scrolls, using red ink…he could see a brown hand holding the quill, with a green bracelet curving up her arm. The girl seemed to sense him watching and turned her head to see who it was.

Mark blinked. The girl had fine brown hair that framed her oval face, and dark eyes that met his with surprise and shock in equal measures. She was pretty in a quiet sort of way, and seemed quite young. The girl carefully put her pen down, frowning, and then unbent from the table to look properly at Mark.

The girl’s eyes scanned the boy’s face, noting the blue-green eyes and brown hair, the boy’s high cheekbones and straight nose. He was wearing slightly odd clothes – a rather ragged grey top and dark trousers. He seemed about fourteen, but had a bewildered look that made him seem younger. His hair was messy and he looked tired, and his eyes had a look of hopelessness in them that seem to be ingrained. What had happened to him?

“Who are you?” she asked, her voice faintly accented. “Did Mirell bring you in?”

“Mirell?” Mark said, his voice suddenly becoming husky. He swallowed hastily. “Who’s Mirell?” Did they speak the same language or did she speak his, he wondered? He obviously wasn’t at home, and it didn’t look like anywhere on Earth. Maybe he was dreaming…he’d got hit on the head and this was a delusion. It had to be.

The girl pointed behind him to where the two men were bent over another table, discussing something intently. “Mirell’s the younger one – he’s got blue-tint hair. The other’s Teol. And Jir just left, just before you came in.”

Mark stared at her blankly. “Mirell found me. Someone called Liumenn wanted to know who I was and what I was doing here, and Mirell pretended he knew me…how does he know me?”

“And brought you up here. We’ve been expecting someone.” the girl said simply. “We’re the historians, you see. The Archivists. We keep the records, the maps, the files. Everyone else regards it as a lost subject. So we don’t bother correcting them. There are only a few of us, spread amongst the centres, but we have some special skills.”

“You shouldn’t be telling him that.” said a grumpy voice behind them.

“Why not?” the girl answered calmly, looking over Mark’s shoulder at Teol.

“We don’t know who he is.”

“Alright.” Mirell said, walking over and touching Teol on the shoulder. “Let’s get this sorted. We have a strange boy who has simply appeared in the middle of the centre. We have no idea who he is or where he’s come from, yet I bring him up here…mainly to get him out the clutches of the professors and scientists. He’s not from our world and has no idea of what’s happening. About right, Mart?”

Mark sat down on the chair again, feeling bewildered as Teol and Mirell began to talk together again. So he had just appeared here? He didn’t understand…what had happened? Where was he?

The girl was looking at him in sympathy. “You won’t have any idea about our world, I guess.” she said. “It’ll be totally strange. I’ll try and help you, because until we figure out where you’ve come from and why you’re here, you’re stuck here.”

Mark met her dark eyes, feeling despair slowly creeping over him. Everything was far too strange and was too much for him to take in…what had happened?

“You’re on a world called L’uimal.” the girl explain quietly as Teol and Mirell began to talk about something else, Teol hurrying over to another table to find a piece of paper. “This is a centre, a place of learning. There are three continents, and this area is called Reingnne. Are you okay so far?”

Mark nodded.

“Now, the Archivists – which is us – are special. We have some contacts with other worlds, mainly through documents left by others who travelled. In the past, there used to be people – called Andres – who could travel between worlds. We’ve lost the skills and we don’t think that any have visited us for the last three hundred years. We don’t know what happened to them. But anyway, that’s purely academic.” The girl smiled. “Mirell studies that. It’s his subject. Anyway, you’ve just suddenly appeared from nowhere. I…I felt it happen, and Mirell happened to be down there and brought you up. Liumenn would have loved to have you to study.”

Mark stared at her. People who could travel between worlds? “How many worlds are there?” he asked after a moment of silence.

“There are numerous spheres – I used the wrong term saying worlds. There’s one universe, and millions of spheres in that. The worlds are inside the spheres. There can be several worlds inside one sphere, for example.” she explained.

“I come from…” but he couldn’t really remember. It all seemed like a dream. He didn’t want to go back there, to be hit and starved…how could he get back, though? If he didn’t know how he got here how would he get back?

“Earth.” the girl filled in softly. “Mirell got your name wrong, but Mart is a better version for here. Mark is a little odd.”

“How did he know my name?”

“It shows. You look like a Mark.”

“How much do you know about me?”

“Enough.” the girl said absently, listening to Mirell and Teol. “I think Mart is better. And you’re a youngling…that’s someone who comes to see what we do, or gets adopted and becomes an apprentice later. Mirell seems to have adopted you, so that’s okay. We’ll have to see what you’re here for. I don’t know how you got here but you must be here for a reason.”

The door opened and Jir slid back in, his open, honest face smiling. “Greetings, people. Who’s this?” he added, spotting Mark.

“Mart. Mirell’s adopted him as a youngling.” the girl said before Mirell or Teol could speak. “He’s from Earth. I’m wondering what he’s here for.”

“What’s your name?” Mark asked as Jir wandered over and the two older men began to argue the girl’s question between themselves.

“My name?” the girl said with a grin as Jir leaned on the table nearby, listening. “Which name would you like?”

“She’s Mira, normally.” Jir filled in. “Your full name’s Miranda, isn’t it, Mir?”

Mark stared around him, the knowledge that he was in a foreign and alien world finally sinking in. He couldn’t get home, and had no idea about how this world worked. Abruptly, he put his head in his hands and began to cry with helpless tears.

Old writing: Dragons

This is likely from around 2000, and it’s definite cringe for me – I’m putting this out there in the name of entertainment! You can tell I was reading the Dragonriders series at the time, and I can see some of S’ian and an early incarnation of Toru in the characters, but…oh dear. I wonder if I’m going to look back on my current writing in seventeen years time and have the same reaction?

The people in the street gaped up at the sentry who shouted, then turned to gaze at the sky. Within a few seconds, the whisper spread throughout the city, the trickle turning into a stream. It spread through the households like fire, engulfing everyone in its path. The news reached the centre of the city within a minute and sent servants running.  People rushed out of their houses to stare at the two patches of shimmering colour in the sky. When the lord of the city had the news brought to him by a flustered servant, he blinked several times in surprise, then hurriedly gave several shouted orders to his functionaries and sent them scurrying. All through the city, the trickled news turned into a stream, then into a river as more and more people stopped what they were doing and hurried towards the walls.

High up on the two great beasts, the dragonriders watched as a stream of people poured out of the gates and up onto the walls. A glance passed between the riders, and the dragons began to spiral lower and lower towards the green fields outside the city walls.

The lord of the city was worried as he rode towards the gates. Sitting in his carriage, he could see the air of excitement on the peoples’ faces. It was like a celebration, he mused. But the dragons were living legends, as the riders did not visit the country very often. He had only seen them once before in his lifetime. It was a great honour to be visited by the riders. But all the same, it had only been, what, 20 orbits since they visited last? They must have some reason for coming again so soon. They couldn’t have…The Lord found that he was nervously fingering the great gold ring of office on his finger and tried to calm himself. The carriage passed through the gates and came to a stop on the edge of the crowd. The lord dismounted, and despite himself, gazed upwards with the crowd to watch as the two dragons circled closer and closer.

As the dragons came closer to the field and the waiting crowd, the riders could see the carriage drive up and the man, ridiculously small from this height, step out. The rider of the silver dragon, a young elf-girl, patted its side, as if in sympathy to something it had said. A glance passed between her and the boy riding the golden dragon, and although no sound passed between them, they seemed to speak to each other.

They are expecting us, Ben

Did you expect anything less? It is good that the sentries were alert-

 -Yes, but do they know why we are really here? – 

 -We have to have a purpose…we don’t visit for fun, Cian. – 

-Agreed, but we must be alert. They will be expecting a reason-

The gold dragon turned its head to the youth riding it.

-They are scared of us, Ben. Raider says that the people have not seen beasts like us much. Why do we scare them? –

-Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. –

– And Raider says please pay attention. We are landing soon-

-Tell her we know what we’re doing, Manooth-

They turned back to watch the city as they circled closer.

#

As the dragons came in to land, the lord could see them close up for the first time. They were truly magnificent. Their skins shone in the sunlight and their wings spread the full width of the gatehouse. The lord noted that although both dragons had other colours shimmering faintly along their wings and ridges, the gold dragon had more pronounced highlights of red on the tips of the wings, claw sheaths and all along the back ridges. The silver dragon only had a few faint green highlights, but the eyes of both dragons glittered like diamonds. They swooped in, and the lord could clearly hear the gasps of apprehension and feel the crowd pull back as the dragons flew straight towards the city walls. Then they suddenly backwinged with a blast of air and settled to the ground just in front of the exited crowd. The sigh was audible as the dragons furled their wings with a rustling sound like the wind. The crowd drew back as both riders dropped to the ground and one walked towards the Lord. The other turned towards the dragon and reached up to stroke the lowered head. The crowd cautiously drew in to get a closer look.

The boy up on the walls, hidden out of sight from the people on the ground, had watched with the crowd as the dragons flew in and landed. As he saw the riders dismount, he craned forward over the wall to see more clearly. He saw the boy walk forward to meet the Lord of the city. His gaze flicked to the Lord and back to the rider. The drab riding clothes of the riders contrasted sharply with the clothes of the richly dressed ruler, but he saw how the boy walked with an air of poise and confidence that both the riders had. It was obvious against with the slight nervousness of the Lord’s stance. Why was the Lord so nervous? But his gaze was caught as the girl by the dragons removed her helmet and goggles and reached up to stroke the great head lowered towards her. How he would love to be able to do that! It must be wonderful to ride a Dragon. Then he felt his breath catch sharply as the girl turned her head towards the walls, her gaze searching for something. He ducked back into the crowd and watched with apprehension until the girl turned back to stroke the head of the silver dragon as it towered above her. That was too close. He had to be careful! But still he stayed on the walls, watching with envy.

Cian was thinking fast as she turned back to the dragons. I felt him looking at me! He was watching us. I felt it. So where is he? I thought I saw him, then he was gone. He ducked back. Is he scared? Scared to face his future? Or maybe he doesn’t know. Then what was he doing watching us like that? He must know the legends, even if he doesn’t know that it’s him. She reached out with her mind but the mind she had felt before was gone. Shielded, she thought. Clever. I could break through, but not now. It can wait.

As he approached the Lord of the city, Ben could clearly feel the apprehension emanating from the richly dressed man. Dragonriders did not visit very often, and usually no one person had seen two visits in their lifetimes. But it had been only 20 turns since the last routine check, so the lord had a right to feel nervous.

–Ben, stop worrying- came Cian’s soft voice in his head. He caught his gaze on the slightly nervous lord, walking forward to greet him, and smiled.

“My Lord.” The lord could not quite mask his nervousness. “ It is an honour to meet such famous people. It is a great favour for Dragonriders to visit twice in one lifetime, and we are indeed honoured with your presence.  May I welcome you to our city and offer you the hospitality of the palace while you recover from your journey?” The lord bowed low.

Ben responded with a half bow. “I am B’ten, rider of gold Manooth, and that is X’cian, rider of silver Raider. I apologise for the inconvenience of this visit, but may I assure you that it was necessary.”

He glanced at the crowd surrounding them. The Lord looked even more nervous for a moment, but got control of himself.

“Of course. Is there anything we can, uh, do for your Dragons?”

Ben smiled. “We will see to the dragons later – they might need feeding, you know. But they don’t eat meat.” he added hurriedly. “They should be all right here for the meantime. I think your people like them.”

The Lord looked a trifle put out. “We do not see many of these beasts up close. It is a rare opportunity.”

Why did you say that name? You don’t often use B’ten. – Cian enquired in his head. Ben gave a mental shrug. – And the dragons are going to get nervous. The crowd won’t leave them alone. Can you do something? –

 Ben turned to look at the crowd surrounding the dragons. It was keeping its distance, but was rather big. He frowned. “If you will excuse my interfering, but I think that mabey you should try and disperse the crowd a little.” he said in a low voice to the lord. “ The dragons get irritated when there are too many people around them.”

That did the trick. The Lord went pale and nodded hurriedly. He beckoned a servant over and murmured something. The servant scurried away and a few minutes later guards started to motion the crowd to disperse.

“If you would like to follow me, I will escort you to the palace. I can assure you that the Dragons will not be bothered if your lady would like to come with us.”

Ben heard Cians’ laughter echo inside his head.

Your Lady! He has not even met me yet. All right, Raider. You stay here with Manooth. Fly over to those walls if anyone pesters you. –

Ben smiled at Manooth’s indignant rejoinder that no one would pester Raider. He was very protective of his flying companion and teamate. Ben turned to the Lord with a neutral expression.

“If you could but delay a moment, I think that Silver Treid would like to join us.” He used the formal title deliberately. Treid simply meant rider, but he knew the use of the word would reproach the Lord from automatically assuming that he and Cian were more than a flying pair. It was not a matter for this petty lordling to speculate on.

As Cian came over, Ben saw the Lord’s eyes scan up and down her figure. Cian met his curious gaze with one of steel and the lord hurriedly dropped his eyes and bowed to her. She returned his bow and after another exchange of pleasantries they were led over to the carriage and climbed in.