Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fallen Angel

Here is my second stab at first person. I wrote it some time ago. There's more to the story, but it stalled. Maybe I'll rewrite it as a short. I'll get to it one of these days. In the mean time, enjoy. My brain does go to strange places sometimes.

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Who am I? I am a black man and I have never been anyone that someone would be proud to know or meet, including myself. When they say life has its ups and downs, well my life had been so down for so long I could see absolutely no hope for me or my future. With that outlook on life, I’m sure no one would be too surprised that I submitted myself for experimental surgeries in cybernetics, not that anyone would care.

I didn’t care what they did to me, it was my next meal and a roof over my head and I could drift in my depression without being disturbed very often, they even paid me some money, but I didn’t care much about that either. When they asked me to fill out this form that asked for next of kin and who to notify in case of death or disability, all I could do was hand it back to them blank saving my signature on the bottom; I had no family or friends who would be the slightest bit interested in me or my fate. When they were reluctant to accept that, I filled in the name of the head doctor here; it was the only name I knew so far and I figure the only person who might be interested in what happened to me since he was accepting my application.

So that’s how I became a lab rat. Over the next few years, pieces and parts of me were replaced with mechanical pieces and parts, and over time, they were improved and upgraded until they almost looked normal. These scientists were constantly trying new ideas, so it’s not surprising that I had a mechanical eye as well as a mechanical ear. Any piece or part that might replace a nonfunctioning piece or part of the human body, I had at least one of them implanted in me.

Somewhere along the line, I found my way out of my funk and could function again, if only within the orbit of the medical community in which I was now completely buried.

One day, I noticed new scientists were beginning to show up to replace the older men in our group of doctors. No longer, were they solely concerned with improving the life of the disabled; there was now an interest in such things as flight or seeing great distances. It almost sounded like some kind of military application, but then I have always been a little paranoid.

The new series of surgeries I was subjected to, began with reinforcing and restructuring the bones in my back and shoulders so that I could support the weight of the wings as well as my own weight while in flight; there were also plans that it would ultimately need to support an assortment of mechanics needed for navigation that they planned to install at some later time. All of this would be tied into my nervous system, and it would draw on my energy reserves. The sensitivity of my eye implant and my ear implant were increased, it seemed like, a hundred fold.

In between surgeries, they had me on an exercise regime that would make an Olympian proud. Though I have always been, for the most part, healthy, and I was used the physical therapy they had me do almost all the time, I have never been a runner or a weight lifter. Now they had me committing at least four hours a day every day to a variety of sweat-wringing exercises, to include aerobics and karate exercises as well as kung fu, not to mention the running and weight lifting. The list of things they had me do was a long one and they all had some kind of name, I’m sure, but I stopped trying to keep track of them; I just did whatever they told me to do each day. If I didn’t know what was coming tomorrow, it made getting up in the morning that much easier.

Eventually they started me doing exercises associated with flight. They put me in this thing; I think they called it a gyro, or something like that anyway. I was supposed to learn how to control my own equilibrium with no outside help. On command I was supposed to lay horizontal or move to vertical, then it was on my head or on one side or the other, and I was supposed to do it in this thing that spun around in any and all directions at the slightest twitch. As soon as I thought I was getting the hang of it, they started to throw things like wind and rain and other distractions at me. Now, understand, I don’t have any wings yet, so I had to balance myself in driving rain and lightning while being over balanced with all that extra weight in my shoulders. I don’t know how those men did it but somehow they devised a way to approximate the worst Mother Nature could deal out to any unwary bird on this earth. I was the only one who seemed to realize that you never saw a bird flying in that kind of weather.

Finally, the day arrived when they thought that I was agile and strong enough to earn my wings. They hinted to the fact that I would have to do it all over again after I recovered from the last of my surgeries, but what I had accomplished once couldn’t possibly be so hard to accomplish a second time. Besides, what else did I have to do with my life?

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Who or What Peoples Your World

Most of my worlds are peopled by 'people' just like you and me, more or less. I mean, it's the simple thing to do; everyone can relate to the descriptions. I've given a couple of my peoples wings in one way or another, and I've made some shapeshifters, but in one of my stories I've taken it a bit farther.

I took a race, humanoid in basic form, and fragmented it into four groups that, because of the life habits they chose to lead, they evolved in four drastically different directions.

Like all bipedal creatures we are most familiar with (humans), they farmed crops, herded an assortment of livestock, lived in wooden structures of a log cabin design, and so on - your average very early western settlement, so to speak.

On this world, the trees are immensely tall - maybe something like our redwoods, only rather than being only something akin to a spruce tree, they all were this tall, even the fruit trees. SO - one quarter of the people took to the trees in search of the fruit up there, and since it took so long to climb up there and back, not to mention hauling their harvest around, they took to living in the trees all the time.

And as we all know, there are those people who simply must climb mountains, so I made the mountains in my world viscous crags that were much easier to attain on the wing. Now since wings aren't really an evolutionary trait I can see spontaneously developing, the root race of this planet may have been winged to begin with and only those who remained in the mountains retained their flight ability. I did make them all egg-layers with many of the nesting characteristics of birds. Who knows, maybe severe mountain cold drove many of the people out of the mountains and only the hardiest remained. Then, after generations of life on the ground, wings atrophied away.

That leaves the fourth and last quarter of this fragmented race. As in all peoples there are those who might be called the criminal element. As life becomes rather specialized, the selfish and mean, the greedy brutes, bullies and other such personalities were ostracized. Unwilling to do the work to pick the fruit or till the fields, they took to hunting within the fringes of the great forests, and they hunted anything that moved, to include any of the other humanoid members of their world.

The tree-dwellers I came to call Eanders. They were frail but very strong and ghostly white in appearance with an elven beauty.

The people of the mountains I call Winders. They were tall, fine-boned people with an average wingspan of around fifty feet. They built grand open stone structures and hunted the tops of the trees or the open plains.

The farmers of course were named Landers. They lived near the fringe of the forests walking a fine line between the demons who stole their livestock or the unwary citizen and the plains where the Winders hunted whatever they could swoop down on and carry away.

Then there was the Honders. Raised in such a way that only the strongest of their young survived to procreate, they were heavier than any of the others. They were the most brutish and unforgiving of all the peoples.

Despite all these physical differences, and the obvious hate or fear each has for the others, they all have quite a few similarities.

They all have bony stingers located on the inside of their wrists at the base of their palm. Per race, these had also evolved differently. The Winders were highly poisonous; prey needed to die instantly if they were to successfully hunt on the wing. Eanders poison wasn't so vital to their survival but it did paralyze. Being blood-drinkers rather than water-drinkers, Honders' venom was a strong anticoagulant, which in itself was fatal enough. The Landers also had the barbs but their poison cause a wasting infection that might cost a victim to lose a limb if the sting went untended too long.

They also had spinnerets located between their thumb and first finger, but the uses of their webbing was drastically different per race. The Eanders were by far the most talented:their homes were spun into a hollow ball, which they camouflaged with the leaves of their host tree. It lasted a lifetime unless damaged. The Landers were next in proficiency; they spun all their clothing and material. The Winders could also weave but they did little more than create their sleeping nests. The Honders used their webbing to bind their prey until they were no longer of use alive, or they make sacks to transport or store meat.

As I mentioned before, they all laid eggs that looked something like a turtle egg, about the size of a softball. At first the outer membrane is transparent and the yellow yoke is clearly visible. As soon as the male fertilizes it (after being laid) the membrane turns white. How the egg is tended after fertilization is drastically different per race.

At any rate, I had a lot of fun creating these divergent races, while at the same time tying them closely together. You see, the plan for the story is to end up with one young man who can claim blood ties to all four of the races, and then just maybe bring them all back together, maybe not to live, but at least to work together rather than hunt or prey on each other.

So how did I do that? Well, when I finally get it all written, you'll find out.

Out of curiosity, how would you manage to pair these four races together? You gotta have two of them somehow create a girl and the other two somehow create a boy, at about the same time, and somehow this girl and boy should fall in love (an important step, I think) and create the child who will try to bring peace and understanding, or at least cooperation between all four of the races. Who knows what that will start.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Connecting the Dots

Have you ever read one of those books where there's this character that just pops in once in a while with some cryptic message or vague clue? They can be fun to work with, and of course they can add to the puzzle of what is coming in the book. That is they can be if the dots are properly connected.

If the dots are poorly connected, the reader can get used to the character and learn to recognize their touch, but you as the writer really shouldn't make your reader work for these connections. It robs them of some of the joy if they have to stop and wonder if the person in the second scene is maybe the same person as showed up in the first scene.

Remember, you're showing a blind person a movie he has never seen so you need to use your words to see for him.

Your clues can be as blatant as having this person be the one and only Gothic student in the school - an object of interest but not someone easily approachable, or you can use clues as small as a facial scar - something that doesn't disfigure but still attracts attention, while at the same time be hard to inquire after. By clues, I mean something you can mention, something you notice each time this character appears.
The girl passed me a note as she shoved on past. I noticed that she only had a gold hoop in one ear, and then I noticed why; her other ear had no earlobe, just a blue line where the scar cupped her lower ear and dripped down her neck. Did she have that tattooed? I couldn't tell before she was gone.
Now the next time this girl appears, you might want to take a closer look at that ear but she's facing the wrong direction. And the next time you see her, you might take a moment to make sure you cross paths in such a manner so you can get that look.

The ear is the dots. You mentioning them is the connections. What she does is the important part of the story, be it pass a note or give some dark warning, or even something more up front.

Eventually this person might develop a name and maybe she will become a topic of conversation. She might even become a major character in your story, but if you go that far, the 'dot' part of her should remain one of those cryptic mysteries. I mean, what's the fun in revealing ALL her secrets.

The character I used in my trilogy wasn't even a character, in fact he scarcely qualified as a ghost, and he might have been one of two ghosts, it was sometimes hard to tell. The clues he left were indecipherable compulsions and confusing dreams and visions. He did his best to keep us all confused throughout the story. hahaha Did he keep you guessing too?

So what are the 'dots' in your story, and how have you connected them?

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