Category Archives: NOVEL WRITING

Aeroquest… Canto 42

Canto 42 – The Dancing Doll

     After three days of Ged’s attempts at teaching, Shu Kwai was still kneeling stark naked in the practice grounds.  He refused to accept any clothing he felt he had not earned. Ged quietly shook his head in despair. Junior Aero and Sarah Smith each had a linen robe with the White Spider symbol stitched into it.  They also had tabai boots for their feet, cloth footwear with the big toe tied off for climbing and sure footholds.  The two of them worked together with their telepathy to absorb the thoughts of their sensei.  Shu Kwai would only stubbornly continue to struggle.

     “What is it about the inner eye that you can’t get, Shu-sama?” Ged asked.

     “I apologize, Aero-sensei, I do not see the pictures in my mind that you suggest.  What do they look like to you?”

     “I suppose the problem is that all Psions do not use the same inner eye to focus their power.”

     “How do you mean, honored one?”

     “I mean, I see molecules.  I can read DNA strings with my inner eye.  If I have eaten the meat, I can call up the proper shapes and spirals to make the creature. I can focus my power and shift my own DNA molecules in every cell of my body.  I don’t know how I know this, or can do this, but the power wells up in me like a cup that fills itself.”

     Shu Kwai’s face showed stern concentration.  As the boy knelt there, quivering in the cool breeze, he continued trying with all his youthful might.

     “Please, Master Ged, let me help,” said Sara, large eyes pooling with liquid sympathy for Shu’s dilemma.

     “All right,please, Sara-san.”

     “Shu-bozu, it is true that we all see the inner eye in different ways.  Mine is like Ged-sensei’s vision.  I can see molecules and DNA.  I can rearrange the flow of power in the minds of others to effect healing.  I have seen into Junior’s mind as well.  His is different.  He sees circuits and electrical links.  He can trace the patterns in a human mind as I can, or in a computer mind, as I cannot.”

     “So, what does my mind, my eye, look like?” asked Shu Kwai, looking with puzzled eyes into Sara’s face.

     “Can I take a look?”

     Sara reached over to Shu with a tender hand and touched his temple.  Shu cracked a smile as her beautiful essence flooded into his head.

     “Your inner eye sees motion.  Flickering motions.  Energy paths of movement.”

     Shu nodded with his eyes closed.  “I see it.  It is just like chi.”

     “Spirit force, yes,” said Ged, finally realizing where he had gone wrong.  “Girl! Come here!”  He motioned to a girl attendant who waited beside the practice field for just such an order.  “Girl, we need a loose-jointed doll or a puppet.  Can you fetch one for me?”

     “Yes, Ged Aero-dono!” she said in breathless awe.

     In minutes the girl had returned with a small wooden marionette from the Akito House, smiling and well-pleased that she had been honored to do this service for the White Spider’s special school.  Ged took the doll and gratefully patted her powdered cheek.

     “Picture this doll in your mind’s eye, Shu Kwai.”  Ged sat the doll on the grass.  “Picture it rising to its feet.  Make it do something.”

     As Shu Kwai concentrated, the doll stood up and bowed to Master Ged.  Then it slowly began an undulating dance.  The dance got wilder and happier as Shu Kwai began to feel his success. Finally, it ended with a flourish and a bow.

     “Clever boy!” said Ged, feeling warm inside for the first time all day.  “Let me give you a robe!”

     “No, Sensei.  I made only a first step.  Give me a loin cover only.  I must work harder still.”

     “As your teacher, I say you accomplished at least two steps today.  You learned to focus the inner eye, and you learned not only from me but from your classmate Sara.  That is worth a robe, surely.”

     “You are anxious to cover me in cloth, Sensei.  If I may choose, I would rather have the tabai boots like Sara and Junior.”

     “Very well,” said Ged with a smile.  “You are determined to remain a naked barbarian.  But I respect you very much as a student, Shu Kwai.  Your victories make me proud.”

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Writing a Horror Story

Candle-lit nightmares become stories and keep me awake late at night.

I am now closing in on the publication of The Baby Werewolf, a novel whose story began with a nightmare in 1978.  It was a dream I had about being a monster.  I woke up in a cold sweat and realized, to my complete horror, that I had been repressing the memory of being sexually assaulted for twelve years, the thing that almost brought me to suicide in 1973 and that I couldn’t put into words when I talked to counselors and ministers and friends who tried to keep me alive without even knowing that that was what the dark black words were about.

I don’t normally write horror stories.  Yes, it is true, a character of some sort dies at the end of practically every novel I have ever written, but those are comedies.  I am sort of the anti-Shakespeare in that sense.  The Bard wrote comedies that ended with weddings and tragedies that end in death.  So, since my comedies all seem to end in death, I guess if I ever write a tragedy, it will have to end with a wedding.

Torrie Brownfield

But writing this horror story is no joke for me, though I admit to using humor in it liberally.  It is a necessary act of confession and redemption for me to put all those dark and terrible feelings into words.

The main theme of the story is coming to grips with feeling like you are a monster when it is actually someone else’s fault that you feel that way.  Torrie, the main character, is not the real werewolf of the story.  He is merely a boy with hypertrichosis, the werewolf-hair disorder.  He has been made to feel like a monster because of the psychological and physical abuse heaped upon him by the real werewolf of the story, an unhappy child pornographer and abuser who is enabled by other adults who should know better and who should not be so easily fooled.  The basis of the tale is the suffering I myself experienced as a child victim.

It is not easy to write a story like this, draining pain from scars on my own soul to paint a portrait of something that still terrifies me to this day, even though I am more than sixty years old and my abuser is now dead.  But as I continue to reread and edit this book, I can’t help but feel like it has been worth the pain and the striving.  No one else in the entire world may ever want to read this book, but I am proud of it.  It allowed me to put a silver bullet in the heart of a werewolf who has been chasing me for fifty-two years.  And that’s how the monster movie in my head is supposed to end, with the monster dead, even though I know the possibility of more monsters in the darkness still exists.

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Aeroquest… Adagio 9

Adagio 9 – The Planet Dancer

    I can give you rather accurate and unique insights into the planet called Dancer.  I was a resident there for nearly twenty years, working first for the Pirate King, Cat Five, then for the maniacal Mechanoid, Khoolbas DiQuiri, and finally for his usurper, the Pirate King Razor Conn.

     When the great explorer Martin Faulkner first surveyed the Beta-Regulan Star System, the system where Dancer was the only livable planet, he wrote it off as a place useful solely for refuel and resupply stops. The planet had a breathable atmosphere, but no land masses at all.  Everything was salt water.  It rarely ever rained there or had clouds in the sky.  It was a lonely little water-ball. 

     It was part of the genius of Cat Five that he chose Dancer as the planet for his throne world.  No other pirate king ever chose an Imperial Rimworld without any land surfaces as his home base.  It proved to be a wonderful spot for ambushes as the system increasingly became a necessary stop for the Rimworld Merchant Fleet, Orchides’ Delivery, and GTS(Grand Transport Systems).  Cat Five got obscenely wealthy off a mere five percent of the space trade.  He designed the underwater city of Castle Orpheum and supervised its construction himself.  Soon the master smuggler known as the Thin White Duke, Sir Carleton Keyser, moved in and made the world a key link in the “package industry”, what you and I, being less criminal in nature, would call smuggling.

     As with any profitable venture, there would be those who would lust for control of it.  The obese Mechanoid known as Khoolbas DiQuiri was Cat Five’s second in command. That motorized fat-thing was my boss during the worst years of my life.  He was crafty, conniving, and he smelled terrible. He had been a blobby man in life, but as a Mechanoid, he was a transistorized stack of cyborg Jell-O.  When Cat Five met an untimely end at the hands of the Monopoly Brigade, Khoolbas took over as regent.  Cat Five’s son, Cat Six was only seven years old at the time.  Khoolbas secretly connected himself into the city’s power and environmental systems, as well as the main computer.  He secretly administered youth drugs to Cat Six, effectively trapping him in childhood forever.  He even tried to take over the package industry from the White Duke. The fat one built an indestructible power base for himself.

     I was serving as a computer technician and research physicist to Duke Keyser, the White Duke, when Razor Conn first showed up.  He was a swaggering swashbuckler with a cowboy hat and a knack for winning the fights he picked.  He was the one who revealed all of the plots Khoolbas was running on Dancer. With the Blackstone brothers as his allies, he made the people, especially the pirates, see that Khoolbas was cheating and using them.  He found enough gifted malcontents among the spacers to form his own strike team which he named the Blackhawk Corsairs after his favorite interstellar hockey team. The Blackhawks overran Castle Orpheum and took Khoolbas prisoner all in one swift battle action.  He ended up ruling the place, though he showed mercy to Khoolbas DiQuiri and a great deal of administrative wisdom in setting up his democratic government of the world.

     The Thirties Gangster Culture that predominates the world of Dancer is mostly a matter of tough-guy posturing and the obsessive-compulsive design tastes of some of the powerful residents, but, corny as it all is, it works.  It is a stimulating and imaginative place to live.  A water-world pirate kingdom where space pirates could happily live with the fishes.

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Aeroquest… Canto 41

Canto 42 – Agent Ace Campfield

     Arkin Cloudstalker had stepped out for a bit of a look around.  Castle Orpheum was too dark and mysterious for his taste.  He preferred a cockpit in space, or even the open air to this dim and dreary underwater place.  He missed his family, wife and kids who lived parsecs away on a moon of the wealthy residential planet called Bird World.  Being a corsair had driven him further and further away from his original vision of being a Galactic Hero.  He wanted to make the universe a better place to live, but more and more it seemed that all he could manage was to become a better killer and criminal.  The lamp-lit streets of Castle Orpheum were deserted at this time of the artificial day-night cycle.  Most intelligent residents were in bed asleep.

     Someone was walking towards him on this particular street. This someone had an orange Kevlar jumpsuit and a very big gun.  This someone clanked as he walked, metal striking the pavement to the beat of a slightly off-kilter step.  Arkin slowed to a stop.

     “Don’t stop on account of me, Cloudstalker,” said the figure. He pulled up short under a streetlamp so that Arkin could finally see his face.  It was an undead Mechanoidface, skull-like and one-quarter metal. The enlarged right eye was a glowing red computerized visual sensor.  “I came to see you face-to-face about a little matter of a bounty.  I am an ace bounty-hunter, Argo “Ace” Campfield.”

     “I didn’t call for any bounty hunter,” said Arkin, measuring the distance between them at about forty paces, easily within the range of the big gun the Mechanoid carried.

     “No, Count Nefaria hired me with money he got from a Galtorrian Knight he called Sir Saurol.  With Nefaria dead, I’ll probably get even more money for your severed head.”

     Arkin leaped for a nearby alley opening, rolling and coming up with his emergency blaster pistol, a one-shot plasma gun that he kept in his vest for occasions like this one.  Campfield’s deadly green beam burned leather, hair, and the top layer of skin off of Arkin’s left shoulder.

     “Gazzool!” groaned Arkin, using the only Bird World cuss word he still remembered, mild though it was.  He aimed unsteadily and fired his blaster.  The air sizzled with a beam of pure star fire and Campfield’s robotic right leg melted into two pieces.

     “Hah!  I laugh at losses like that!” growled Ace Campfield.  He hopped on one metal leg in Arkin’s direction.  “You may have slowed me down, but my sensors tell me you have no more shots left to take.”

     Arkin knew the undead death-machine was basically right.  He was slightly wounded and weaponless against an enemy who was tireless and had nothing left to fear from him.  He was as good as dead unless he did some very quick thinking.  The alley he had dodged into ended in a ladder that went all the way up into the subsea dome’s catwalks.  From there he could make his way to the submarine pens if only he could get out of range up that ladder before Campfield hopped into position for a good shot.  That would be a darn good trick, since the robotically enhanced senses of a Mechanoid were bound to make Campfield’s marksmanship superb.

     As swiftly as Cloudstalker could run, he bounded towards the ladder.  It was only a matter of moments before Campfield would lock on him as a target and burn a hole through his chest or back with that energy beam.   His heart pounded as he looked up the ladder into the distant grill-work of the catwalks above.  His heart almost stopped for a moment as he saw another face peering down at him over the edge of a catwalk platform.  Did Campfield have a partner?  Was he trapped as well as doomed?  The face was almost as unusual as Campfield’s skeletoid visage.  This new face had crossed eyes and a white fright-wig of frizzy hair crammed up underneath a black top hat.  The silly pink tongue, longer than the normal humanoid tongue, lolled out of the slack mouth.  Before Arkin could yell, the strange face dropped a coil of rope down on top of his head and motioned for Arkin to grab hold with one hand while he waved a skinny rubber chicken with the other hand.

     Having little other choice, Cloudstalker firmly took hold of the rope.  Instantly he was dragged upward by some high-speed winder that thumped him several times against the ladder, but pulled him up to the platform in a matter of seconds.  Campfield spotted him, but even robotic reflexes didn’t allow him to get a shot off before Arkin was safe.

     Face to face with his weird rescuer Arkin tried to thank the man.  “You saved me from certain death just now,” he said, gasping for air. “May I know your name?”

     The man, his tongue still flopping out of his mouth, shook his head yes and handed the rubber chicken to Arkin. 

     “What does this mean?” Arkin asked.

     The man pantomimed turning something over.

     “What?”

     Looking stupidly impatient, the smiling fool took the rubber chicken back and now slapped it forcefully down in Arkin’s hand.

     “I don’t have time for this.  What are you trying to tell me?”

     The man pantomimed turning something over again, then slapped the feet of the naked rubber bird.  Finally realizing something of the nature of the message, Arkin turned the rubber chicken over in his hand.  There was a name written there in purple crayon.  It said, “White Dook”.

     “The White Duke sent you?”  Arkin was incredulous, yet at the same time amused.  The fool grinned and handed him a second rubber chicken.  He turned it over to see the word “YES” in purple crayon.

     Below them, Campfield was at the base of the ladder.  His robotic muscles pulled the one-legged bounty hunter up hand-over-hand at a frightening speed.

     “We’d better get going!” said Cloudstalker.

     He received a third rubber chicken.  When he turned it over, it said, “You said it, sister dear!”

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Aeroquest… Scherzo 4

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Scherzo 4 – Rolling a Twenty

“So, Trav Dalgoda does it again.  Your total roll of the dice with your skill of plus eight added to it is an impossible success of twenty.  You fly the burning spaceship into a curly-patterned rendezvous with the Leaping Shadowcat.”

“That’s a load of bull-puckie, Mr. M!” said Arturo.  “He always rolls a perfect twelve on two six-sided dice!”

“You agreed that he could use his jack-of-all-trades skill to do this.”

“But it’s a plus eight!  That is just too unfair for a skill you can use to do almost anything.”

“You let me spend all my adventure points on that one skill,” Eddie said.

“He’s right you know.  And besides, if he were to fail that role, then the two ships could crash, killing your two characters as well as his.”

“And mine too!” said Amanda.  “Trav rescued Madonna from the slaver pirates of Mingo remember.”

“Yes,” said the game master, “and her little blue son too.”

“Aw, that little bugger is just an NPC that you put into the story.  I really don’t care if he dies.”

“Eeuw, cold-hearted woman!” said Eddie.

At that moment, Dr.Hooey opened the front door of the young teacher’s apartment.

“Oh, hello.  My time machine must’ve had another brain fart and brought me to the wrong time and relative dimension.”

“Wait a minute,” said Eddie, “Who the hell are you?”

“Yes, exactly, but maybe hell is a bit too strong.  My name is Dr. Hooey.  I am looking for a place to leave a baby from the distant future.”
“A baby?” Amanda gasped.

“Oh, yes.  And who are you, young lady?”
“I’m Amanda Lilliput and this is my boyfriend Arturo Castrovalva.”

“Would you like to raise a baby from the future?”

“Um… no, thank you.”

“May I ask what you people are actually doing?”

“It’s a science fiction role-playing game.  These former students of mine are all playing space-faring characters in a space adventure set in the distant future,” said the goofy-looking teacher.

“Oh, my.  That is somewhat worrisome.  Are you sure you don’t want a space baby from the future?”

“Oh, I do!” said Eddie.

“No, he really doesn’t,” said the teacher.  “Thank you anyway.”

So Dr. Hooey left and closed the door behind him.

“That was weird,” said Arturo.

“Mr. M, I need to make a new character for the game,” said Eddie.  “He will be a time traveler, and I will call him Dr. Hooey.”

 

 

 

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Living On After Writing

I finished a novel over the weekend. It was one of those novels that you have to write before you die because anything short of finishing it would leave your whole life incomplete.

So, now that it is finished, I can go ahead and die, right?

4clownsWell, of course, it is not as simple as that.  I created a cover for it.  But it is not proofread and formatted and I have to give it time to cool down, being fresh out of the oven, before I read it over again, make adjustments, and publish it.  And I have two other novel drafts that haven’t yet reached the published state of being.  So, I better put off dying for just a bit.  Any clown can tell you that giving birth to a novel that you have been composing for 4o years and writing down for six months takes a lot out of you.  And you have to stop and take a breath.  At least one.  Before you forge ahead with the next one.  I do have Recipes for Gingerbread Children already formatted and I am working through the final edit.  I am still in poor health yet and could drop dead at any moment.  My computer is all funky from some sort of virus, hopefully not computer flu… or computer black death.  So, I am still in a mad rush to beat an unknown deadline beyond which I am really dead.

I don’t have the luxury of dying yet.

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I have to deal with the death of another beloved character,  I can’t seem to write a comedy adventure novel without killing somebody at the end of it.  Shakespearian comedies all end in marriages, and it is the tragedies that end in mass deaths.  But like any clown, I have most things backward in my life.  You learn that as a teacher in public schools, you really are just another form of professional fool pursuing your profession foolishly.  That is kinda what life is for.  And it doesn’t change when you retire and try to become a foolish writer of foolish novels to leave behind as a foolish legacy to a whole foolish world.

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But, as for the question of whether there is life after writing… I really don’t know, and I am still not ready to find out.

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Another Novel Done

Sing Sad Songs cover a

I finished another rough draft novel last night.  And when I say rough draft, I really mean I have pieced it together at a rate of about 500 words a night, about two nights per Canto (What Mickey inexplicably calls a chapter), with revisions and editing already complete.  Of course, there is no such thing as a final draft.  The majority of my novels have been plotted and planned and created over the last 40 years of my life.  I will continue twiddling, correcting, and messing with all of my novels until I drop dead.  But this draft I just finished is actually 95% finished and almost ready for publication.  The books I have lined up now for a final effort are Recipes for Gingerbread Children, The Baby Werewolf, and finally including Sing Sad Songs.  Look for all three of them soon.

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