For these breaths, a gift:
This moment in time, see
Your enraged heartbeat for what it is –
A steady flowing forward.
For these breaths, a gift:
This moment in time, see
Your enraged heartbeat for what it is –
A steady flowing forward.
The flutter of struggling wings must have stirred the dust
Or flocked your windows with pollen.
How else did you not see
Things were changing all along.
We were all suffering.
We didn’t forget you.
We only wanted the liberty to grow alongside —
You are the ones who rejected us.
For hundreds of years we have been shoved
Into dustbins and cesspools and landfills and
Stuffed in the cracks in the concrete you laid over the living land.
And when life and joy were drawn up
From the depths of the soil still rich and loving
Waiting for us beneath your waste piles;
When leaves sprouted and buds reached up
You criticized the way in which we bloomed.
You want your change to scour.
You want your lawns clipped just this tall.
You want your concrete pale and smooth.
But we will sign our names in the borders.
Our fallen leaves will be fossil-marks in your surface.
We want our change to flourish.
We want concrete next to asphalt next to leaf-strewn
dirt paths next to lanes of wild, untrammeled exuberance.
We will not stay seeds.
If you stomp the bloom, the roots will spread.
We will crumble your foundation.
We will find our way into the sun.
Hand in hand, root
and leaf, bud and bloom together —
We take our space.
(@2016 risawolf. Feel free to share but please credit.)
I certainly didn’t expect this. I’ve been “meh” about NaNoWriMo for a couple of years, largely due to hating what I’m writing when I write it. (Seriously, HARSH hatevibes all over my computer. My poor, poor computer.)
However, the timing is right. I’m starting a rebuild of an old project and, well, why NOT make it part of the NaNo dynamic? I’m hoping to charge through it so I can start the rewrite process by January, and I’m well aware that’s an ambitious project for someone who hasn’t completed a novel since 1998.
Sooo… I’m hoping it can be more kick-in-the-pants-ish than it has been for the past few years. Fingers and paws crossed!
I’m going to be revisiting the novel I was working on in 2007-2008, Archfiend. I’m starting small, with a book jacket synopsis. This is my first draft of it.
~ * ~
Biochemistry student Mia is experiencing the worst day of her life. Still reeling from a brutal argument with her sister Kate a week before, her car breaks down in the middle of the mountains the day before her best friend’s wedding. When she finally gets a ride to meet up with her boyfriend at the hotel, she is informed by the local psychic she needs to go back to New York immediately – because her sister has disappeared, and without Mia’s help the rest of the family will be next.
As her family confirms Kate’s disappearance and adds more strange details to the story, Mia has to untangle the clues she is finding. Why was the psychic so insistent, and how does he know all these personal details about her boyfriend? Why is her best friend’s husband so critical of her efforts to find Kate, when his brother insists on following her to New York to help? Who are these European-sounding friends of Kate’s, and why won’t they tell Mia more?
One of those friends will snag Mia’s interest and take Mia down a bizarre rabbit hole that taxes all of her skills. It will take Mia more than her courage and her friends to figure out the whole story… before she follows in Kate’s footsteps.
This is based on Chuck Wendig’s Friday Flash Fiction prompt. His model this week is X meets Y, and I pulled… “Snow Crash meets Discworld.”
~ * ~
She hovered over the battered steel behemoth for a while, watching. The sides of the ship were haphazardly riveted together, and sandy skiffs were locked onto the eye bolts soldered into the front and rear seams. The effect, from the air, was millipede-esque.
She could see the faint movements from the black-clad figures along the decks of the ship, and murmurs that sounded like words but somehow weren’t. The air around her frizzled with energy*, and she could feel the small hairs rising on her neck. She swooped in lower and trailed a ragged ellipse around the stern of the ship, examining the markings on the bulwarks.
Sigils. Icons. Knots. They glowed with luminescent algae, and pulsed as she passed.
Hmph. Headology, Osmina said. No better expert, she said. She was full of it. This is all visual tricks and intimidating fakery. What can I learn here? This is no bloody witch’s cottage. You can’t even smell anyone.
She lifted up on her broomstick and was preparing to head back to the Hub when she heard it.
“Oh good, you’re here. I’m Freya. We’ve been expecting you.”
“We received an octarinote.”
Damned wizards. Meddling…
“You can land on the muster station.”
Agatha’s vision was filled, briefly, with an image of the flat part of the deck near the center, then the image faded. She shook her head, then looked up at the moon.
Gibbous. Strings of clouds.
Oh well. It’s a long way back Hubwards.
~ ~ ~
Freya was leaning against a rusted metal davit as Agatha stepped down from the muster deck. The lifeboat that was once locked into the davit was now a collection of wood planks, rattling against the steel side of the ship.
“Welcome to our humble abode.” Freya grinned. The antenna locked next to Freya’s ear drew Agatha’s gaze.
“What does that do?”
“Oh, it gets us better reception.”
“We share in experiences and pass them on. Right now, three of my collaborators are watching us interact.”
Agatha paused. “They are? Why?”
“Because we haven’t had a Ramtops witch visit us since we left Ankh-Morpork after the… ” Freya waved her hand aimlessly.
Freya’s smile shone brightly despite the gloom around the ship. “Yes! The Unpleasantness.” Her fingers found the antenna and twitched for a bit. “How much do you know about us?”
“I… I was told you know more about headology than three of the best witches in the Ramtops could teach me. According to said witches.”
“Headology?” Freya tsked and shook her head. “This is more than headology.”
“More? There’s more?”
Freya’s eyes glowed as she stepped towards Agatha. “Have you ever heard of neurolinguistic hacking?”
Agatha took a step back. “Heard of WHA?”
“Imagine being able to control not only the magic that runs through the Disc, but also how people react to that magic. Imagine being able to change another person with just two words. Or heal them, from anything, with four. Imagine never being prone to someone else’s manipulation again.”
Agatha’s mind immediately went to a long-ago time, back when she was a young child, thinking of the strange lithe beings that had thrown her into a root-cellar, laughing as they locked her in, remembering how she cried because she knew she was unworthy of their sight.
“I think that would be marvelous,” Agatha breathed.
Freya stepped forward again. She touched the tips of her fingers to Agatha’s forehead. “Are you ready to receive?”
Agatha remembered the pain, the elf-shot in her friend’s shoulder.
Freya bent down and whispered into her ear.
Agatha woke up on a raft, rocking on the waves plashing against a pink beach. In her head, a thousand images and sounds warred for dominance. She squeezed her eyes closed, trying to gain control over the many
Where am I?
Where do you want to be?
Immediately Agatha was filled with a rush of longing for home – the long cliffs on the Hubward steppes, right on the northernmost edge of the Ramtops. She could smell the ice-laden breeze coming down from the mountains, spiced with the fragrance of smashed granite** exhaling from the dwarven mineshafts.
She sat up. The greening light flowed through the forest canopy onto the bracken.
She was home.
Yet somehow, not. Her brain cascaded through the data.
4 pm. Enough time to walk to Mother’s pub and have some Lancre scumble. Enough time to fly to Omnia and buff the horns of the Great God Om. Enough time to have a late-night drink with philosophers in Ephebe. Enough time to…
YES. ENOUGH TIME.
Agatha looked up. A hooded figure was examining his nails… no, his distal carpal phalanges.
How did I know that?
WHY IS HE LOOKING AT HIS FINGERBONES?
The hood turned to her. Two pale blue stars looked out at her.
WELCOME TO TIME OUTSIDE TIME, AGATHA FARTHING. I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO OUR… OKAY, OUR TIME TOGETHER.
* They were sharing in the listening of a Klatschian play, being recorded live by one of their compatriots. Their enthusiasm was, literally, palpable.
** Humans cannot distinguish the scent difference between individual granites. Most dwarves think granite isn’t such a great smell, unless it is luxullianite granite. They are more partial to the smell of basalts like sodalite.
Old work, but still relevant.
Adenosine. Purio. Fewer than three. O2 here. Push nerve bundle into quiescense there.
Tander flew through the mods in Tania’s body – the sprites on the amygdala, the coursers in the heart tissue, the fiery in the left lung, the floaters in the blood, on and on. When Tania and Darren had provided Tander a trigger opening in their transes, accessible to her only at the moment their vitals went sour, she never knew it would feel like this. With the physical mind unconscious, she could partake in the body without restriction, without any controls from outside. It was both maddening and extraordinary: the freedom in the binding; the exultation between the walls of a single cell.
Tander raced like radiowaves through the nerve-slender polydiamond conductor channels in Tania’s bones, marveling once again at the strange intricacies of solid carbon sponge structure – walking coral reefs generating brutal age-old DNA strands, beautiful poisonous twining things swimming through the physical aether, random bombs ready to fire and either protect or destroy.
She soared out of the bone and into the lymph, activating the nanetic toxin scrubbers to cancel the Juliet drug they’d given her. Time for consciousness to be restored.
O2 escalation. Breathe.
Outside of the body, her receptors could sense the clatterhoof of Darren’s horror and fear, the damp vibration of Dak’s tension and worry. She was beyond any experience of sympathy, but could still register the expression of unpleasant emotion and respond to it in kind. That is the contribution of Tania, Tander remembered – demonstrating the hormonal broadcast, the facial expressions, the muscle bunches. From Tania and Darren’s blood samples, stolen and stored tenderly by Tania over years of marriage to Darren, Tander had learned about the difference between male and female hormonal responses. Observing others interact with the two of them had given her a better breadth of knowledge. In addition, she had been monitoring three different corporations’ Analytics for ten years, and there was a great database about the different manifestations of illness in different bodies, depending on their skein. But even with all that training and preparation, being present within the body was a unpredictably gorgeous experience, one that was both alien and beautiful, and she found herself singing through Tania’s skin like this was an old home she’d left behind.
Tania’s skin shivered. She’s awake, Tander remarked to herself. I have to try it. I must know if this will work.
Are you there? Tander pushed the vibrations from Tania’s inner ear bones to her timpanic membrane so that Tania could understand them as words. Tania jolted for a second, then relaxed as Tander manually upped the dose of opioids. It’s just Tander, she vibrated, and I wanted to see if we could talk this way. If you understand me, turn your head to your left side.
A few skittering heartbeats, then Tander registered the muscle contractions that would have made Tania turn her head. The brace of the machines in Deep Analytics would prevent her from actually moving, but Tander wasn’t restricted to visual cues.
Good, Tander vibrated. Do you give me permission to continue communication in this manner?
Tania’s neck muscles bunched in an effort to nod yes.
Thank you. Please let me know if this is too loud or painful by clenching your jaw at any time.
Tania’s jaw relaxed.
Thank you. You are currently undergoing a great many damage control operations, but I am aware you will want to know what is happening to you. I do not think we can communicate two ways, unfortunately, but I will ask you questions and choose facial muscles for yes and no responses. Tander paused and vibrated more slowly. If you understood all of that, please turn your head to the left side. If you did not, please turn to the right.
Tania’s muscles pushed for left.
Tander turned away from the earbones, thrilling at her success. Oh we are going to have a marvelous time, Tander thought, and started to work, narrating her progress all the while.
~ * ~ * ~
Tania was reeling.
She can talk to me from inside me.
If she can talk to me this way, she can talk to Darren this way. And if we have a way to communicate like that, we never have to use our trans again. Completely secure communication. Completely unhackable.
This changes everything.
We have to put failsafes in, she thought wildly, to keep her out when we want her out. Or to boot her out in case something goes wrong and she goes rogue. History’s littered with stories of rogue AIs. But who cares, really? This is exactly what we were looking for. She felt her heart skip in glee as she realized how much power the three of them had.
We will get him, she thought. We’ll get Grodd.