*cough* Bree *cough*
*cough* Bree *cough*
The second book in the Bad Mojo Series, currently untitled, has gone through some growing pains. I was shoehorning it into a certain plot that I thought would work, but it just wasn’t going well. The process is going now better now. It’s still slow, school and life take precedence, but there is progress.
The funny thing is that I’m not changing the major elements. The new villain and main plot are just getting a different angle rather than a complete rewrite. It was the minor stuff that needed more work. I found that a lot of the actions the characters were taking, while logical, didn’t have much in the way of motivation.
It was simply: here is the problem, this will fix it, let’s do that. There was no real emotional input. I had this scene where the new… badder guy is introduced, and it didn’t have any depth to it. The entire thing was too easy. While I’ve kept the character, he’s been revamped from a simple plot device to something imposing.
For my (very) small fan base out there, I hope it’s enjoyable. I’m hoping to get the first draft finished within the next couple of months. The second and third usually go faster, so I’ll have to get it edited, and a cover put together.
Of course this would all go a bit faster if I stopped writing this blog post and got back to work on the story. That is a good idea.
The stale humid air held the scent of long departed sunlight. Quint took that as a good sign. There was nothing like the smell of something rotting to kill the mood for exploration. That or a skeleton propped up in the corner of the room clutching at the handle of a broken weapon, that was usually a bad sign too. Quint adjusted his headlight, and scanned the room just to make sure there wasn’t such a surprise waiting for him. His light dropped to the floor, so far the only tracks in the dust were his. He then looked up to the ceiling to make sure nothing nasty was waiting there.
He waved a hand to his companions as he moved through the entrance.
His first companion, a lithe, green skinned Nortian whispered in its throating approximation of English. “Why are we here?”
Nortians were one of the first species to make contact with humans. Their physiology was compatible with the atmosphere of Earth Prime, and they looked like bipedal lizards. Contrary to first impressions, they were quite civilized and were happy to help their ape-kin to reach the stars. Once humans were no longer bound to Earth Prime, or the Milky Way, they began a long string of colonization on habitable planets. Along they way humans met a few other species; some friendly, and others not so much. The Nortians stood by their friends through it all, but that was another story for another day.
Quint smiled at his scaly friend. “This is a piece of history, Six.”
The Nortian looked around the dusty room, it flicked its tongue out to test the air.
Quint waver his friend on. “Before starships, cyborgs, and interspecies politics there was this.” He spread his hands wide out in front of him. “It’s called a mall.”
“All of what?” That was his other companion. Dregger was human, mostly.
“Not ‘all’.” Quint used air quotes. “A mall. It was a collection of shops connected under a common roof.”
Six flicked its tongue again. “That is an interesting piece of human history. I’m glad we came all the way back to EP to take a look.”
“No, no.” Quint waved his hands at the vast expanse in front of him. “See, this was a great gathering place for social growth, romance, and commerce. Lives were changed in this place.”
“I don’t get it.” Dregger shrugged.
“Come on.” Quint marched forward into the artificial cave. “History awaits.”
“Why do we follow it again?” Six looked at the cyborg.
“Him, Six. Humans are touchy about that kind of thing.”
Nortians were intersex, they changed to fit the situation, and didn’t care to be labeled as a he or she. “Why do we always follow him?”
Dregger smiled. “It beats cleaning filters at the port.”
Apologies for the lack of posts as of late. I’ve been lacking sleep and don’t trust my fingers to form actual words.
On a side note, I’ve really enjoyed looking into the variations on the ‘punk’ genres. Cyberpunk, steampunk, and the like. I’ve only recently found out that there’s a complete other attachment to such ideas when you switch out ‘punk’ for ‘funk’ and other witty substitutions. I’ve found these really cool to delve into. Steampunk especially is very whitewashed. I get it, Victorian England is the starting point, but there’s an entire world out there.
To date I’ve still only seen 2 Native American Steampunk/funk designs and 1 Indian.
My personal gripe with the Steampunk genre was that it excluded the US. The Edwardian/Victorian Era is the Wild West across the pond. That ignores Native Peoples, Desperados, Buffalo Soldiers, and the whole Gold Rush. How would flying ships and steampowered mechanics shape the American West?
Actually, what I’ve always wanted to see was someone take on the Zulu for a Steampunk project. Considering how much of an important part Africa and Asia played in the Age of Exploration, they get left out. I guess they don’t want to muss up their bowler hats & gowns with such messy ideas.
Does that make sense? I’m a little tired.
Virgle bounced his leg nervously as he waited for the bus. The morning air had a damp chill to it, and he was ready to get home for some sleep. Working the night shift put him at the wrong end of the morning rush, but the pay differential helped ease the transition to a nocturnal life. He pulled the wool coat tighter. Mornings like this made him wish he had taken the time to mend the missing buttons, but the second hand coat was one of the better purchases he had made since he moved to the New England Sprawl.
The NES was made up of what had once been the Canadian provinces Novia Scotia, Quebec, and New Brunswick along with the former American states of Maine, and the northern parts of New Hampshire and Vermont. It wasn’t as crowded as the other mega cities, but that was because it was winter for most of the year with a brief period of spring that led into a wet fall. Summer was a myth in these parts, but this is where he decided to hang his hat. It was a fair trade, snow and freezing temperatures for natural stretches of forest and breathing room.
Virgle sat up as the he recognized the familiar whine of the electric engine of the bus. He leaned over to look down the street, but didn’t see the doubledecker anywhere among the traffic. It took him a moment to realize that the sound was actually his phone.
He dug the slim piece of plastic out of the inner pocket of his jacket and looked at the display. His head involuntarily tilted to the side as he read the caller ID. It displayed one simple word: Morrison. He only knew one person by that name, and they didn’t have this number.
The phone buzzed a few more times before it switched to the message box. Virgle continued to stare at the small display until the notification popped up. He looked up at his surroundings, but nothing seemed out of place. This was a small corporate outlet on the edge of town. For the time of day all the foot traffic was on the opposite side of the road, even the bus had to do a small turnaround to get to his stop. No one spared a glance up the lone security guard slumped on the bus bench. They were all too dialed in to their AR displays, personal networks, and GPS overlays to really see anything about the world. He didn’t blame them, the varying shades of gray didn’t hold much appeal when a simple neural implant could connect them to a pulsing landscape of color and information.
Virgle had a few implants that weren’t anything fancy. Not because he was against them, but because they were against his budget. Being a low level security guard on a corporate site that was on the fringes of the mother company didn’t exactly make his bank account a healthy one. That was another plus of the NES; most everything was a subsidiary of a Corp rather than real deal. There were a few universal big dogs that were inescapable, Walmazon and Micron Mobile being the big two.
He blinked his left eye, which synced the phone to his AR display, and checked the message. A floating box popped up in the space in front of him. It displayed the time, date, and the caller, but the contact information was blank. That took some doing. After a moment the text was replaced with a picture. Morrison was a bit more haggard than the last time he had seen her. Her usual neon blue hair was tucked under a threadbare bandana, and she had a new scar running the length of the left side of her jaw.
“Virgle, you’re not an easy man to find.” The artificial light flickered behind her eyes as she spoke. “I knew your given name and it still took some digging.” She looked off to the side. “I get it, you wanted out. Hell, we talked about leaving so much I wasn’t too shocked when you ghosted.” Her gaze shifted back to the screen. “If you’ve got this then I’m either dead, or in enough trouble to think I need help. I don’t expect you to save me, Virge, I need you to grab my blackbox.” She smiled, it was a sculpted smile that spoke of porcelain veneers rather than genetics. It had never fit her. “Do me a solid, kid. We’ll call it even for that night in May.”
He shook his head and smiled.
The familiar squared off body of the bus came to a stop nearby. Virgle watched as the door folded open. The driver looked out at him when he didn’t move to stand up.
“You coming, buddy?” The driver leaned over with his hand on the lever.
Virgle let out a long sigh. “Yeah, I guess I am.”
Russell sat up in bed and swatted a large hand at the beeping alarm clock on the small table nearby. One mighty blow shattered the plastic device. The cheap particleboard side table valiantly tried to stay upright, but the impact was too much. It collapsed into a pile of neatly stacked slabs.
He ran a hand over the stubble on his chin as he yawned. Russell swung his feet over the edge of the bed and stood up. He picked up the folded T-shirt from the top of the dresser and attempted to pull it on over his head. Russell had lined up with the proper hole, which was stretched to its limit, but the shirt wouldn’t give. His right tusk cut jagged little line in that finally relieved the tension and his head popped out of the expanded hole. The shirt stretched taut across his muscular shoulders and broad chest, it covered to just above his navel. None of his clothes seemed to fit anymore.
His staggering steps found their way to the bathroom. Russell turned on the tap and splashed cold water on his face. The familiar face of the orc in the mirror groggily greeted him as he grabbed his toothbrush and went about the long task of cleaning his tusks; they jutted out from his lower jaw and covered his top lip when he closed his mouth. It was a common trait among orcs. As he started cleaning his right tusk he caught sight of his reflection again.
Slowly he reached up and touched his face. The olive green skin orc in the mirror matched his movement perfectly. Russell watched as strong, thick hands reached up to touch his tusks, they were real, the hands and the teeth.
“What the?” His voice was a gravelly rumble. “I’m an orc.”
That was silly for him to say. Of course he was an orc, he had always been an orc, why would he think differently? Russell shrugged and went about brushing his teeth, but the thought kept tickling the back of his brain.
He was an orc.
The argument inside his head would start all over again. Of course he was an orc, he had always been an orc, why would he think differently? It was a sound platform. Perfectly logical, and the evidence was stacked in support.
Except that most of his clothes were too small for him these days.
His eyes flicked to the calendar. He had today off, and that gave him time to do some research. Russell flipped open his laptop and pressed the power button. He had to do it quickly; otherwise he’d accidentally jump into the setup menu. Compact keyboards like the one on his laptop were the bane of his big hands.
Why would he have a laptop with such a small keyboard if he had such a hard time using it?
“It was on sale?” He answered himself aloud.
And one of those ergonomic keyboards would have cost so much?
“You’re not helping.” He closed his eyes tight.
His large hand covered the attached mouse. He opened up his pictures folder and began to flip through the photos from the past few years. The answer was right there, he had always been an orc. There he was at the park with Sabrina; he would never know what such a beautiful elf like her had seen in him. Not that it mattered now. Even then his clothes didn’t seem to quite fit him right.
“Hmm.” He scrolled through some other photos just to make sure.
In every photo he was an orc. He wasn’t even sure what he was supposed to be looking for otherwise. He closed the pictures file with a sigh, and opened up his web browser. Typing with his pinkies in a hunt-and-peck method he was able to log in to his favored social networking site. He scrolled down through the various updates. He paused every now and then to read a joke, or to catch up on the news of the few people he actually cared about.
One post finally caught his eye. It was a picture of a group of his high school friends. The caption below it read: Russell, can you believe we’re thirty?
He read it again, and then a third time. Something in his brain didn’t like that sentence, but he couldn’t quite suss out why. He had just turned thirty last month. Sabrina had left the week before and the festivities hadn’t exactly been pleasant. He had a rather low tolerance to alcohol for an orc his size, and apparently he really liked to talk when he was drunk.
“Orcs don’t live that long.” He spoke the words, but didn’t actually feel like he said them.
It was common knowledge that an orc lived maybe thirty-five years, and that was really old. Except his dad had just turned sixty-two earlier that year, and he was still going strong. Now that he thought about it, he couldn’t remember ever meeting an elf that was over the age of ninety, and they were supposed to live for thousands of years.
Something wasn’t right.
Warning: This post contains a lot strong language. Mostly fuck. I’m trying to work on some techniques. Enjoy.
Hugh flopped down on the soft grass and looked up at the night sky. He looked over at his friends and couldn’t help but laugh.
“Why are you laughing?” Aleta growled as she pulled the unconscious form of Darcy along.
“This.” He waved a hand at the glowing lights in the distance. “You.”
“You could help.” She let their friend down on the ground as gently as her sore arms would allow.
“You could take a break.”
“Fine.” She huffed. Aleta collapsed next to the pile that was Darcy and looked out at the horizon. “How much farther?”
“Is she okay?”
Aleta checked her pulse just to be sure. “She’ll be fine in the morning.”
“What about now?” His gaze turned from the stars to her.
She held his gaze for a moment, then shrugged.
“Is that your professional opinion?”
“I’m just a student.” She shook her head. “I was. Fuck, what am I now?”
“What are any of us?”
“You’re still a pain in the ass.”
Hugh laughed. “It’ll take more than the end of the world to change that.”
The words hung in the air.
“Do you really think that, this…” She waved a hand at the flickering lights in the distance.
“It could be.” He closed his eyes and enjoyed the feel of the grass against the back of his neck. “I think I’m in shock. It’s like I know that I should be freaking out, but my brain is just shut off. Is that normal?”
A small giggle started in her throat and then exploded as full laughter. Hugh opened his eyes and looked over at her.
“I don’t fucking know.” She giggled. “I was going to be a veterinarian.”
Hugh looked at her for a moment. Something deep inside him told him this was wrong. She shouldn’t be laughing, this wasn’t the appropriate reaction. He should be scared, crying, in the fetal position, or something like that. Laughter wasn’t the right reaction, she was going crazy. He felt himself chuckle. Well shit, now he was going crazy.
“We are so fucked.” He choked out between giggles.
“Do you know what it feels like to freeze to death?” Her voice had an unnerving echo to it.
“Is this a veterinarian thing?” He wiped a tear drop from his eye.
“No.” Aleta looked up at the night sky. “Last year, I had this work study job, I was a lab assistant. No matter what, I had to rotate these samples every four hours. I was the new kid so I caught the graveyard shift. It was winter, I had to wake up and trudge over to the lab every four hours. The first night, I nearly froze to death.” She sighed. “There was this stretch where I had to walk between the buildings, maybe a quarter of a mile. I had three layers on, I was bundled up so only my eyes were exposed, and I thought I was prepared. I rushed out and kept chugging. It was cold at first, but halfway there I was used to it. I slowed down to a normal walk, you know, I thought that I was fine. I opened up the door on the other side and got inside, that was when it hit me; the cold. Damn, I didn’t get used to it, I just stopped feeling it. My ears, my cheeks, my jaw.” She shrugged. “I just couldn’t feel it.” She stretched a hand out to the sky. “It feels like that again.”
“So when do we feel it?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know, but it will hurt when we do.”
Hugh stood up and walked over to where the other two had come to rest. “I’ll spot you for a spell.”
Aleta stood, brushed herself off, and nodded. “Do we have a plan?”
“Stay away from the places that are burning.”