Tag Archives: writing

Returning to a Ghost

I stopped writing things in the No Man’s Land series after Ryan died. He was one of my beta readers, and the one who cheered me on; he asked the questions, laughed at the jokes, talked to me about the latest plot and idea. He was the one I’d email at 3am with a story.  And I miss him so, so much, even eight months on.

But I did some organising this week, and hauled out all my half-finished short stories…and amongst them are six No Man’s world ones (well, No Man’s Land – they’re mostly about Ghost, because I love her). And I want to finish them. I started reading them, just to remind myself. It hurts, still. But that’s now being tempered with the love for writing, and the characters are starting to talk to me again. They’re not getting drowned by the waves of grief any more. I want to write.

Have the start of a new story that might now get finished…

The air is cold and frigid, with mist creeping across the ground, obscuring my footing. The trees are long dead, their branches hung with decades of cobwebs and vines instead of leaves. The ground is a morass of swamp and rock, its stink rising until it’s almost visible. The scenery wavers between dank, dead forest and occasional rock spires, their outlines jagged against the dark sky.

In short, it’s not the nicest of places – and in addition, the path that I’m on is most certainly haunted…I’m not just saying that because it’s pretty freakin’ creepy.

I’ve got a ghost whining in my ear.

One of the downsides of being able to see spirits is that I can also hear them, and I’ve found that they fall into three categories: dull, friendly, or freaky.

This one is trying for freaky. It’s achieving dull. After all, blood-curdling moans are only terrifying when you don’t know that the ghost producing them has no torso. I know that should be scary, but actually it’s quite amusing to see a disembodied head and legs floating along, particularly when said ghost is doing the traditional arm-waving and managing to look as if it’s attempting to land a plane. I’m not sniggering, but it’s taking willpower. Ghosts tend to get touchy when their efforts to scare go unappreciated.

Old writing: Wizards

More of a character study than a story; I think these figures have made their way into other stories, or are waiting to come out!

The room was large, with several wide windows looking out over the landscape around the castle. Bookshelves lined the walls, holding ragged volumes and assorted dusty ornaments. A desk was placed in the middle of the room, with three chairs around it. A stern-looking woman with short grey hair sat on the other side of the desk. Her calm face broke into a smile as the two entered.

“Polly, Zaain. I’m glad you could come.” she said. “Please sit.”

The two took seats and glanced around the room again. There were several other pieces of ragged furniture, obviously well worn, and tables with assorted odd-looking things on them.

“I see you’re still your cheerful self, Merle.” Zaain said blandly. “Why did you summon us, then, if we’re getting straight to the point?”

“I wanted to see you because of a young wizard we have here.” the woman said. “You two…well, I’d like you to meet him. You have contacts all over the lands, and you might be able to suggest something.”

A knock came at the door, and as Merle called “Come” a young wizard walked in. He shut the door and walked over to stand in front of the desk, ignoring the two seated there.

“Zaain, Polly, this is Kar.  He’s one of our students here.” Merle said neutrally.

Zaain ran a quick professional eye over the youth. He was about sixteen, and had neatly combed brown hair and brown eyes. His expression seemed to be a permanent sneer, and his eyes were cold and ruthless. Zaain assessed him as arrogant and self-important, and wondered if that was the problem. Clearly it was.

Kar turned to the two and looked down his nose at them. “I’m pleased to meet you.” he said with coldly barely concealed disdain. Polly concealed a smile.

“When did you start training?” she asked politely.

“I was born a wizard. I came here a year ago.” Kar said. “I haven’t learned anything that I didn’t know already.”

Zaain raised his eyebrows, politely sceptical. “And where do you come from?”

“The North. My parents are the Duke and Duchess of Robane.” Kar said arrogantly. “Was there anything else?”

“Yes.” Polly said intently, leaning forward. “You have the marks of magical talent. Do some magic. I want to see how powerful a wizard you are.”

“I know I’m a wizard.” Kar said irritably, treating Polly to a scornful glance. “I’m the best wizard there’s ever been. I don’t need some rag-tag person who looks like they’ve just walked out of the caves telling me that. And I don’t need to show you that I am either. I don’t do party tricks.”

And with that he turned on his heel and walked out of the room, his ornate robes swirling around his ankles. Merle gave Polly an “I told you so” look. Polly met Zaain’s eyes and tried not to smile.

“So that’s the problem?” Zaain said.

“Yes. He has got talent…just not as much as he thinks he has. We can’t train him because he thinks he knows everything, and we can’t send him away because we have to train his talent. He could do untold harm if it isn’t controlled.” Merle said in despair. It was so unlike the calm and competent leader that Zaain and Polly knew that they both stared, surprised. Kar really was a problem, then.

What could they do about it?

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.