Apr 10 2014

Golem Detective

Deep, jagged scratches in the pavement. A little blood. There was more police tape than evidence.

“What do you think?” Finley asked, gesturing at the grooves. They were clustered together, overlapping, like someone took a construction digger to the street but gave up when it turned out to be more work than they thought. Five or six feet long, and nearly as wide. Shain ran a gloved finger down the shallow trenches, pebbles scattering before her hand reached them.

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“Claws,” she said. “Something big. Made of metal.”

“We didn’t find anything nearby.”

“No body, either?”

“No.”

She nodded. “It took the victim. We’ve got a kidnapping here. If it were a murder they’d just let the golem collapse after the kill.”

#


Feb 21 2014

Citizen Journalist

I have a photo and a blurb I wrote about my commute up over at the esteemed Guardian. Check it out!

In other news, the writer’s group critique of my latest story went really well. I have a bit of work to do to polish it up, but I’m looking forward to you guys getting to read this one. It’s a lot of fun.

Other thing I learned from the meeting? Apparently lady-on-dinosaur erotica is a thing that exists. I will not link to any of it for fear of ruining your fragile, delicate minds, and can only recommend that you heed my advice not to look it up. Now it’s on you if you decide to look up “Taken by the Pterodactyl” on Amazon. Perhaps it was naive of me not to assume long ago that it existOH god, oh god, there’s a “Taken by the Minotaur” someone please kill me.


Feb 13 2014

Lairs

On Wednesday nights I seek out the solitude of my favorite local hit-or-miss-coffee-but-good-wifi-and-plenty-of-wall-outlets joint, and there I toil at this writing business. Of late there has been a group of Magic the Gathering players squatting at one of the tables near the front. This is offensive to me, as I am clearly several levels above them on the unwritten but universally understood hierarchy of nerds. Still, I push past their “tapping” and cries of “land!” or whatever and work. It is thankless work, but I do this for you, my gentle readers. Why they can’t play a proper game like HeroClix or Star Trek Attack Wing is beyond me.

Also, if the coffee is bad that night the beer is exceptionally cheap.

I finished up a rough draft of a new story last night. It is good, and fun, and involves sex with a beautiful alien space man. It’s about 1,200 words or so at the moment, so I’ll need to decide if I can whittle it down to 1k for flash or expand it a bit for short-story size. I will say that when I go back to trim things I keep adding more, so we’ll see.

While I was out I stopped by the greatest used bookstore in north Texas just down the street and nabbed these for a buck.  If you ever think you’re writing something too weird or crazy for a broad audience, just remember someone probably got there first, they probably won a Hugo or something for it, and don’t worry about it so much.

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Jan 30 2014

Bendy

I’m super looking forward to Captain America: Winter Soldier and am glued to every little image that comes out for it. They just released these new posters, and I had two immediate reactions to this one:

If you're into that sort of thing.

The first was: aHOOOOga *pant pant pant*

The second was: hold up, how did a Black Widow image that doesn’t feature her twisting her torso to show every single part of her anatomy off at the same time slip through? Someone is losing their job over this.

(Neither here nor there, I still can’t give my daughter a Black Widow toy because they all have her toting giant guns. If someone could fix that next, I’d appreciate it.)

Anyway, you should go see Her, because it is incredigood and I’m not sure why anyone would have the gall to ever make another movie about relationships again.


Jan 13 2014

Deep Inside

I managed to get out and see Inside Llewyn Davis this weekend and it’s fantastic. A must-see for anyone involved in the artistic endeavors. It covers the hunger to create something great, the struggle to survive off that hunger in a society that’s largely bent against the commodification of creativity, and the inevitable failures most of us will experience in the attempt. How rare it can be to find that person who fits you and gets you, creatively. It’s a devastating movie.

Partial-soundtrack-cover-for-Inside-Llewyn-Davis-photo-Nonesuch-458x276

So, yeah. Go see it. But it’s a Coen film, so I didn’t really need to tell you that, right?


Dec 19 2013

Charlie Spider continued, in which our heroes book fancy travel accomodations

Even further months back

Charlie had lost his body. Most of it. They graciously allowed him to keep it during the game, though he had lost the legs three hands previous, and now owed them his arms and the nuclear-powered torso. The only thing he had left to him was the helmet he lived in and the little dry-erase board he kept to communicate. Zoetrope didn’t mistake this move for kindness, though; they merely granted him the opportunity to lose more.

“Hard to play cards without your hands, boy, so you hang on to those until we’re done,” the winner said, and they all laughed.

Zoetrope watched the door, fidgety, her rifle across her lap. She made like she were cleaning it, but was ready to snap it back together in an instant should the need arise.

Charlie’s opponents were a motley group. The richest among them, a heavyset fur trader from the inner worlds, sat smiling, a tidy sum still on the table before him. The other two were mercenaries who worked for the trader, guards for the rougher parts of the caravan’s journey into the boonies. One of them had done well, but the other grumbled, little better off than the spider.

“Bad enough you got the damn hat and sunglasses-” the loser whined.

“Again with the hat and glasses,” said his partner with an eyeroll that nobody could really see.

“-but the spider don’t got even a face! How can I tell he’s bluffing?”

The fur trader leaned forward, squinting at Charlie. “Jetson, this boy’s got more eyes than all the rest of us combined. Should be easy!” He and the other merc laughed.

Charlie tossed the key to his helmet on the table. The fur trader eyed the key, then eyed his own all-in bet. “I’m not sure, boy. I don’t really have an arachnid on my crew, know what I mean? Might need more than this. Or we can just call it a night here…”

Charlie hesitated, then placed his dry-erase board on the table. More than just a method of communication, it was his service. The table went quiet. The human eyes at the table went to Zoetrope, who fought to keep the panic from her face. She shrugged.

“Oh come on!” yelled Jetson.

“You in, Jet?” the other mercenary, who had already folded, grinned. He would probably walk away with most of his pay for the trip, but Jetson was looking a bit broke. But the sheer amount of cash on the table, and the prospect of an arachnid underling, was too much for him. He fished in his pocket and came up with a docking port card.

“Aww, Jet-”

“Shut up!” he shouted at his friend. He looked at the spider. “My shuttle. It’s a little old, and it’s small, but it’s in good shape.”

“I think we can all accept these wagers,” the fur trader said. His smile was frozen in place, a little tight. We’ve got him, Zoetrope thought. She saw one of Charlie’s back legs twitch and quickly looked to the others, but didn’t think anyone had seen it. It was too late anyway. The bets were made. There was only the reveal.

“Gentlemen.”

They all eyed each other. Jetson’s hands shook.

“Let’s see ‘em, people,” said the second merc, who was enjoying the game immensely more than the three people playing.

Each of them laid their hands down in turn. Expressions shifted. The fur trader looked wistful. Charlie looked…like a spider. Jetson quivered.

“Wha…wha…”

“You just won, Mr. Jetson. Congratulations,” his employer said. The trader leaned back to light up a pipe.

“What the fuck?”

“You just won, dumbass! Hah! You lucky sumbitch!”

Jetson seemed at a loss for words, evidently never having won anything before in his life.

Charlie’s leg twitched. Zoetrope clicked the rifle together. All eyes went to her, narrowing in suspicion.

“Ain’t nothin’ personal, boys,” she said.

Charlie jumped to his feet, heaving the table into the air. Chips, keys, and people flew, but Charlie snatched the ones they needed out of the air. Zoetrope leapt to the door and struck it wide with the butt of her rifle.

“Let’s move, Charlie Spider!” Charlie’s massive metal body swept past her, into the dark, dusty street beyond. The mercs and their boss scrambled to find their feet as she followed her friend out the door. She paused just long enough to deliver a shot into the control panel, and the building’s automatic defenses triggered. Heavy slabs of metal fell into place over the windows and across the entrance. She heard the bartender inside yelling about how much it would cost just to have the security system reset.

Zoetrope Jones didn’t care. As they ran for the launch pad hangers, Charlie tossed her the keycard to their new shuttle. They had a ride now.

 #


Dec 4 2013

Charlie Spider continued, In Which Our Hero Is Named

Three Months Ago

The sheriff, went by Yidel, was pale and thin. Looked like he’d fall over if he fired the shotgun slung across his back. He sweat despite the chilly air. But Charlie vouched for him, and she trusted Charlie. Yidel wiped his forehead and replaced his hat. He pointed up the trail.

“He’s up that way. Nothin’ up there but the old Anselmo place. Easy to find.”

“Abandoned?” she asked.

Yidel nodded. “Anselmo up and died, I guess it was fifteen years ago. Not much but a shack.”

Buth had eluded them before. Many times, in fact. Though, most frustratingly, he seemed unaware of their pursuit. Dumb luck had kept him alive this long. Now, they stood in a thin copse of trees on a thin, sandy hill on a world with only one port. Good place to hide if nobody but mercenaries were after you. But no amount of dumb luck would save him here, from her.

Her mother would have called this planet a “shithole world in a shithole system.” Zoetrope Jones didn’t like to use that kind of language. She was just a kid. And anyway, where had it gotten her mother but a dead husband, a runaway kid, and an empty house? Then again, wasn’t language had left the mutual man in their lives a pile of ash and bones in a Carter City’s First National security uniform.

The shithole world in question was Stockham, just inside what most people would call the fringe of civilized space. The lone inhabited world in an system that was mostly empty but for some mining operations. An old space lane nearby kept Stockham in a steady trickle of trade and justified the small post office inside a space port that mostly just saw mining freighters. Just large enough for word of a fugitive to get out, but not close enough to attract bounty hunters, who would have had to spend more getting here than they would earn on Buth’s flea-bitten carcass.

Zoetrope motioned to Charlie, and he took the lead. She stepped lightly in the deep, heavily lined footprints he left behind as he trudged up a path that was barely visible among the sparse trees.

“He’s got friends with him,” said Yidel. He spat.

Zoetrope hesitated. “How many?”

“At least two, is the word. Ladies from the Ranch, I expect.”

She walked a moment up the path, then noticed Yidel didn’t follow. “You coming?”

“No ma’am. Wait here for you, though, for a couple hours.”

She scowled. “Don’t you care there’s a murderer on your world? How can you be so indifferent?”

Yidel looked her in the eye. “Girl, the problem in the universe isn’t indifference, it’s people caring too much about the wrong things. The Scorpion,” he nodded up the path, “caring too much about money, and your daddy caring too much about protecting that money, got your daddy killed. Maybe you get killed, for similar. A little more indifference from all parties involved woulda saved us all some trouble.”

Zoetrope nodded and turned away, disappointed but not surprised. The law was unhelpful in most places they’d gone.

“Maybe,” Yidel said in a low voice she could barely make out, “he shoulda cared more about getting home to his little girl.” She trudged after Charlie, knuckles white on her revolver.


Nov 11 2013

Tales from Snoozeland

I was in a Halloween mood when I wrote that “Tales from Oakwood” post. Then I started to continue it and immediately grew bored with the whole thing. So it goes.

I’m in the middle of two rather large projects. If and when either comes to fruition I will not only speak of them at great length, you will grow weary of my constant plugging of them. “Stop going on about these awesome things,” you will cry, with much gnashing of teeth. I’m quite excited for both and hope you guys get to see them one of these days.

I’m also working on the occasional flash piece. I have one making the submission rounds now. It collected its first rejection this past weekend!

I don’t recall if I mentioned it before, but I got the schedule for Big Pulp’s upcoming stuff, and Mercier’s Flight will be in the September 2014 Issue. Big Pulp is changing up their publication schedule and format next year, and it’s all pretty exciting. It’s a pleasure to be part of the experiment.

Speaking of pleasure, I saw Thor: the Dark World and loved it. I would like to live in this world where everyone you meet is stunningly beautiful and charming and live lives of epic nobility. Later that evening I went to a Janelle Monáe concert and thought: oh, here it is.


Oct 15 2013

Tales from Oakville, Part 1

Kelly squinted at the words, trying to make the print line up properly. Since the power had gone their job had become immensely more difficult. She couldn’t imagine trying to do this paste-up nonsense every day. A weekly paper was more than enough.

“Hey Jim,” she called without looking up from her work, “Usage for ‘wolfman’?”

The clack of the typewriter never ceased. “Wolfman singular, usually for a particular werewolf. Werewolf for general use. Plural werewolves.”

Kelly straightened and stretched. “So is this talking about The Wolfman? Like…The Wolfman.”

Jim stopped typing and looked up. His eyes were tired, his face haggard. He hadn’t shaved in a week. “Just print it up, Kelly.”

They didn’t bother with bylines anymore. Jim and Kelly were the only ones left to put out the Live Oak Ledger. Reggie, before he’d vanished, had joked that they should change the name to the Dead Oak Ledger. Nobody laughed.

Kelly looked at her watch. “I need to call the guys soon. We print in an hour.”

“Paperboys,” Jim muttered. He resumed typing. “Those poor bastards. They lost another man yesterday. Tell them to avoid 6th. Mummy spotting.”

“We have fifteen subscribers on 6th.”

Jim looked up at her over his glasses. “Not anymore.”

#


Aug 22 2013

Charlie. Charlie Spider.

A saloon much like any other, with the swinging doors and the window that had been broken so many times they replaced it with a forcefield. The floorboards creaked under her partner’s heavy feet as they made their way to the bar. The pianist, a consummate professional drunk, played on, but the half-dozen patrons stopped to stare and the bartender eyed them as he wiped off the counter.

The girl was perhaps ten years old (the bartender had never had children and was bad at gauging these things), dressed in a black duster slightly too large for her. A fringe of short blonde hair peeked down beneath a wide-brimmed hat. A holster on her back held a rifle nearly as long as she was. She grasped the counter and swung up to sit on a stool in front of the bartender.

“What’s a woman gotta do to get a juice around here?” she asked.

Her companion was, if possible, even more remarkable. Heavy, gray metal hands came to rest on the counter. Round cylindrical body and arms, topped by a transparent bubble of a head. Within the bubble sat a spider about the size of the bartender’s fist. It was purple, and wore a grim expression.

The girl caught him staring. “This is my partner, Charlie. Charlie Spider. Say hello, Charlie.”

A robotic hand lifted briefly to wave.Charlie.

“He’s a spider,” she said.

“Yeah.”

The girl continued. “We’re looking for a man by the name-”

The bartender leaned forward and tapped the metal torso, where gleamed a faded yellow radioactive symbol. The tap echoed around something heavy and solid within the hollow body. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to take the power plant outside, mister.” He turned to the girl. “And I’m not sure you’re even old enough to be in here, young lady.”

She frowned. “Just point me towards who we came for and we’ll be right out.”

“A fly? Plenty of those in the kitchen!” some wag in the room called, and the customers laughed and laughed.

The girl smirked and locked eyes with the bartender. With a sudden swift move she had a revolver drawn. The laughter choked short.

“No. Don’t be ridiculous,” she said. “This man is wanted in five systems. Man with a talent for killin’ little girls’ daddies. His name…” Her eyes wandered from the bartender to the line of IDs pasted to the running tab list behind the bar, “…is Frank.” She clambered up onto the bar and leaned over to prod one of the ID cards with her gun. “Frank Buth.”

The room went still. Even the piano went quiet.

“The Scorpion?” breathed the bartender.