Category Archives: Writing

A Snippet of a New Story

A random snippet from the new No Man’s series story…

“I am the Emissary of the Elven Kingdom of the Golden Sycamore.” The sylph turns her head back to Luk. “We wish you to deny Stromberg the lives. When previously informed of this situation, the Merlin was accepting of the urgency and problematic nature of this.”

“Which Merlin was this?” Elise asks, in her sweetest and most confused elderly-lady manner.

The sylph shrugs. “Human names are not memorable to me.”

“Nevertheless,” Luk puts in. “Stromberg is going to, at some uncertain point in the future, try to…what? Kill a bunch of humans? And that somehow powers their Castle?”

“Steal,” the sylph corrects. “We do not know what they do with them, only that they are taken into the Castle and Stromberg’s power is renewed. We do not want this to happen.”

“Yes, I got that. So, the million-dollar question: why should I care?”

Rachel’s sigh is strong enough to blow biscuit crumbs off the plate. Elise reaches out and carefully brushes them up, before standing to deposit them in the sink.

“The previous Merlin considered this-”

“Yes, I’m sure,” Luk says. “But I don’t care. Stromberg can’t have been kidnapping ridiculous numbers of humans, otherwise the rest of Faerie and most of the human world would have taken steps, so I don’t see why you’re trying to get me involved in something that’s obviously a power play between two Courts.”

“If they’re kidnapping people, Luk…” Rachel starts.

“People die every day. The Fae kidnapping humans is nothing new. I’ve got enough to do without getting my ass put on the line by a power that’s perfectly able to deal with it themselves if they wanted to.”

“Do young humans going missing not bother you?”

“Children?” Rachel says, giving Luk a glare. “They’re kidnapping children to somehow power their Castle?”

Luk rolls his eyes. “Go join a charity commission if you’re going to be that much of a preacher! If they’re still powerful it’s obviously not the first time they’ve done it, so there’s still no reason why I should care.”

“If you do this,” the sylph says, “then the Elven Kingdom will consider one of your debts to us paid.”

Luk pauses, and then says, “Well, that’s just fucking bollocks. I don’t think I-”

“Fickin bullcks?” a small toddler’s voice says from the doorway.

Random Writing: The Bells

The start of something, inspired by a peal on a Saturday. It’s still quite rough, and I’m not sure where it’s going yet! I may turn it into a flash piece.

It never fails to surprise me how, two cities and a continent away, the sound of the bells can still wake me from my sleep, bringing me bolt upright and sweating into the musty darkness of my room.

It was another life away, that peal – although it was not one, never one. There were bells for mass and ceremony, liturgy and matins. There were bells for birth, and marriage and joy; bells for death and separation and trouble.

And bells for disaster.

It is always that peal I hear, deep in the night. The slow, solemn thud of the ringer against the largest cloche; the deep, throbbing tone ringing out across the rooftops, shaking the birds out of slumber and the mortar in the walls, shaking the cobbles and the bricks, shaking the air itself as it bestirred all of us out of our lives.

Danger. Danger.

Help.

Greensky Writing: Obak and Iilde

A random piece of writing that I’m not sure I’m going to use for anything…although it might develop into a longer story! This is a continuation on from Salt Winds & Wandering, so potential spoilers if you haven’t read it. If you haven’t, then it is stand-alone, and it’s only novella length!

Obak lay in his swaying bunk, listening to the waves against the hull of the Gull. The storm had passed over an hour ago, and they were now in the lull that always came after the winds had battered their fury out against the waves and the small ship that bobbed on them. He knew Henyrich was up at the tiller along with Karin, and Iilde was in her bunk for some much-needed sleep, and so he could lie here staring up at the low ceiling above him.

But he wasn’t seeing the wood. He was seeing the stars that he knew were overhead, probably half-hidden by clouds. The pinpricks of light against the dark sky, turning slowly around the world, guiding them across the oceans…

He absently wondered how Catter Jeck was faring, in the now far-off city of Meton, half an ocean away from the Gull. He was in the middle of another study of the ancient city of Treloolir, and his last mail packet to Obak had been full of drawings of the carvings on the-

Oh.

Wait.

And Obak swung his legs over the side of the bunk, tangling the sheets in his haste to find a robe and spill the news of his realisation to his partner. “Iilde! Iilde!”

 

Mage Iilde, 3rd level Water, did not enjoy being woken at the best of times. She wasn’t a morning person, and as they often sailed overnight, ‘morning’ meant the end of any sleep cycle. It would be fair to say that Iilde wasn’t an anytime-of-day-if-you’d-just-woken-her-up person.

She lifted her head from the pillow blearily as Obak stuck his head through the small hatch leading into her bunk-room. “What broke?”

“Nothing! The stars, Iilde. Catter’s carvings. They’re stars.”

Iilde stared at him for a long moment, taking in her partner’s wide smile and bright eyes, his tousled hair, his baggy shirt barely covering his hips. And then she sighed and flopped her head back down on the pillow. “You’re not going to let me sleep, are you…what’s stars, Obak?”

The Mage sat down on the end of her bunk, flipping through something. Iilde sighed again. “You can’t even see! Put the light on!”

The spark-light lit the tiny wood-panelled room in brightness, and Obak thrust a sheet at her. “Look. The drawings they did of the patterns…Catter didn’t know what they meant, but they’re stars.”

“So what?”

“It means they had a reason to use them!”

The woman rubbed her eyes. “So what?”

Obak rolled his eyes.

Iilde squinted at the drawing. “They don’t look right.”

The Mage glanced down. “That…half? That does.”

“But that one’s not anything,” Iilde said.

“But this is!” Obak almost smudged the drawing in his excitement. “I know I’m right, Iilde. They’re stars! They’re a map of the skies. That’s what the ancient cities had on their walls. This is going to be huge!”

“Obak,” his sailing partner said slowly and patiently, “we’re in the middle of the ocean. We’ve got no way to contact anyone until we’re back at the coastline, whenever we finish this latest survey. It’s exciting, yes, but it can most definitely wait. Just….let me sleep, would you?”

Random Writing: snarky Ghost stories

Stories about a character named Ghost, that is. I probably should change her name, although it’s already confusing, so…meh.

I went to the Salisbury Writer’s Circle this week, just to see a) what it was like, and b) if I met anyone. It was ok – I’m never sure I’m the right candidate for writer’s groups, as I don’t often have work to share, write fantasy, and do not get on at all with language analysis. So the meeting was ok: it was busy (they had a lot of new people) but they had a fun interview with Barney Norris, and we also got given some writing prompts – so I thought I’d share the snippets!

The first was the prompt of a mobile phone not working, with a focus on the phone itself. This is straight from my scrappy notes!

I step out of the gateway, fish my phone out of my pocket, and thumb the button. In true helpful fashion, nothing happens. I swear – quietly – and push the power button. Two…three…there.

Still nothing.

I’m mindful of the commuters rushing past me, and manage the next virulent swear under my breath. Press and hold. Two…three…four…

I want to slam the damn thing into the ground, and manage to turn it into a snarl of frustration. Of all the days for my phone to break, it has to be now?

And the second prompt was “mist”.

I’m being followed.

In most cases, this wouldn’t be a problem. I’d slip on my invisibility, walk lightly, and hightail it out of there. In this case, though, I have two problems. One, it’s misty – so thick that I can pretty much walk on it. Being invisible ain’t going to help me if whatever is following me can follow through this cloud of misty, white cold.

And two, I have a strong suspicion that what’s following me is something rather nasty. Like…a hag. Skeletal, bent, and with a taste for human flesh.

This isn’t good.

Even having typed them out, I can feel my fingers itching for tweaks and amendments! I have no idea where either of these would go, but they definitely could be story starters.

Old writing: Moon Story

My first attempt at sci-fi from about 2006! I might go back to this someday, or see how it goes into something else…I did like the story, but it never got fully fleshed out. I’d be interested to see how it does morph if I pick it up again.

As soon as she entered her small, neat room, Tanine knew that there was someone else there. Was it just her thoughts? Was she being silly, just because she had just been…no! But the presence was there, she knew – it was almost tangible to the senses. She shut the door firmly and looked around, but there was no one to be seen. It was her imagination! But no, it wasn’t…the slender girl licked her lips nervously and spoke, feeling a little silly at speaking to empty air.

“Who…who are you?”

Butterfly.

They had answered? As the shock faded, the girl quickly assessed the voice. It seemed to be in her head, not heard, but still there. It was a light tone, neither masculine nor feminine, but with the slight stilted accent that spoke of computers. But the accent could be stimulated. What did they want with her?

“What are you?”

I am a computer programme, similar to the IHEG system. My access code is Butterfly.

A computer. Tanine sat down on the bed and activated the screen to her personal monitor. She shook her head slightly, dismissing the jumble of thoughts and emotions and concentrating on the task at hand.

“What do you want with me?” she asked softly as she ran a search on the name. Oddly, she was not afraid of the silent presence – she knew that it would not stop her; that it was strangely friendly towards her. How did she know that? she wondered.

It is more what do you want with me. You found me.

That brought reality crashing back down to the girl as the computer brought up no results for the search. Several days earlier, she had found a locked system while searching for something for school on the network. It had been pure accident that she had happened across the gateway, and she was fairly certain that no one had come across it before. But she had no password for it and hurriedly retreated before security was triggered. So was the thing now talking to her whatever was behind that locked gate?

Yes. I am Butterfly, created by Aleut Hume. I am a purely personal system, but I have access to most of the network. More than your systems have, at any rate.

The voice seemed to be laughing. Had this system been given more human characteristics than the normal ones? How…what was it? Questions revolved round Tanine’s head. And…it had answered her thoughts. The thought sent an icy shiver down her back. It could hear her thoughts?

Maybe I had better explain. Aleut created me as a companion, but also as a protector. Butterfly said. I know everything that goes on in this base, and a lot of what goes on in the others. I was given an almost human character. Go back to the gateway you found three days ago.

The girl did as she was told, remembering the pathways with ease. Her memory tricks were one of the few things she was proud of at school, but she chose not to let on about it – it would attract too much attention. She went quickly through the network, accompanied by silence from the computer-person. And then there was the gateway, a blank screen with the simple word across it:

PASSWORD

I told you what it was. Butterfly reminded her softly.

Password…access code. Butterfly.

Tanine typed it in. Nothing happened.

You have to speak it as well as type. Put your hands on the access plates so I can get your prints as well, and your datachip. the mental voice instructed.

The girl spoke the password softly, and touched the screen. She suddenly felt a deep wave of fear sweep over her, but if faded as fast as it had come, leaving her nervous and puzzled.

ACCESS GIVEN

As soon as the words on the screen came up, the blackness dissolved into a whirl of colour. Then, on the screen, came the hazy figure of a person. It resolved into a human, a slender woman wearing a subtly coloured cape of all colours, an old-fashioned style from another century, times ago. The hood covered her face, leaving darkness beneath it, hiding the features. She seemed to be looking directly at Tanine. She seemed almost…real.