A bit of an old one, but I love these so much. NASA produced vintage-style posters of the planets – aren’t they just fab? And inspiring! They’re free to download and print, too.
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.
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?
An excellent post shared on the Writing Resources group on G+ – the average travel times and distances for a variety of methods.
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?