What’re You Up To? (Going Dark)

I’m in the final stages of thorough review of Finch–line by line, paragraph by paragraph, scene by scene–with a projected deadline of Tuesday Wednesday to turn in this version to Underland Press. This is where I take the last few scenes I’m not happy with and re-imagine them in longhand and build them back up again, add in a couple new scenes and test them, flense any fat from description and dialogue, examine the openings and endings of scenes to see if they’re air-tight, re-visit character motivations, and, yes, preserve those necessary roughnesses and eccentricities that distinguish something living from something dead.

So there will be no posting here until Wednesday Saturday. And (for real) I will resume the 60 in 60 on Monday. In the meantime, here’s one last Finch snippet. And, please feel free to use the comments thread to let me know what you’ve been up to–projects, links, completing stories, whatever.

The night half over. Something important slipping away.

Drank more whisky, and let it swirl around his mouth. Held the burn in the back of his throat. Followed by numbness.

The sounds out in the dark beyond the window hadn’t made him shudder or start for a long time. Skitterings. Moanings. A cut-off shout of alarm.

A spotlight of lavender and crimson painted itself across the far wall of his apartment, then leapt away. Once, Finch had seen a shoal of spores take the form of a huge, bloated green monster. Spiraling red eyes. It had bellowed and dived into a neighborhood to the north. Smashed itself into motes against the ground.

A child might see that and cry out in delight.

Sidle, quick-shadow, scuttled up the side of the wall near the window. Pursuing moths that had flown into the apartment. Sidle was a happy little predator with bright black eyes. Didn’t care about anything but his next meal. Finch could put him in a cage with a branch and water, and Sidle would be content his entire life. So long as he got fed.

“I guess we’ll soon find out what kind of bastard he was,” Finch said to an oblivious Feral. Feral was looking up at the wall. Mesmerized by Sidle’s stalking of the spiraling moth. Finch wondered how many Sidles Feral had caught over the years.

Finch forced the second memory bulb into his mouth. Chewed it into a dull paste as he moved from the chair to the couch. Lay down. Swallowed.

The room spun a little. Righted itself.

Woke up:
Teetering on the battlements of an ancient fortress, looking out over a desert, the sand flaring out for miles under the seethe of impending dusk.

Woke up:
A cavern glittering with veins of some blue metal, huge mushrooms slowly breathing in and out. Seen in a flash of light that faded and kept fading but never went out: more caverns, an old woman’s face, framed by white hair; another woman, in her twenties, her thirties, her forties. A shadowy figure hobbling down a street.

Woke up:
The insane jungle of the HFZ–almost floating above it, through it–coming out into a clearing ringed by twelve green men planted in the ground, arms at their sides, their mouths opening and closing soundlessly. And the jungle was made of fungus, not trees, poured over trucks and tanks and other heavy machinery junked and rusted out, some of it still slowly, slowly moving. And: back: to: the fortress, at the edge of a manmade cliff, many hundreds of feet above the desert floor, and out in the desert green lights held by a thousand silent gray caps motionless, watching. A sound of metal locking into place. A kind of mirror. An eye. Pulling back to see a figure that seemed oddly familiar, and then a name: Ethan Bliss. Then a circle of stone, a door, covered with gray cap symbols. And, finally, jumping out into the desert air, pursued by the gray cap, before the world went dark.

Wake up…Came out of it seconds, centuries, later. To find Feral and Sidle watching him. Feral on the floor near the couch. Sidle on the windowsill, a large black moth trapped between his clockwork jaws.

The phone was ringing, and ringing. Reached out for it. Put it to his ear.

“Are you okay?” Rath’s voice.

“I’m going to be fine. I think.”

Hung up.

Wiped away tears of blood.

Closed his eyes.

Was gone again.

Never lost.


  1. says

    I’m going to a Magic:The Gathering tournament this afternoon, where my might spells will slaughter the nefarious planeswalkers that have foolishly gotten in my way!

    I’m reading a lot, right now. Just picked up “Gears of the City” by Gilman last night. I’ve only just started.

    And… looking forward to Finch.

  2. says

    While many people are gravitating toward ebooks, I’m trying out a little old-school project: Perfect binding my own books. There are several instructional videos on Youtube involving acid-free rubber cement and clamps. So far, it doesn’t work as well as the videos would have you believe, but it’s a lot of fun! Good for the ol’ motor skills, y’know, like building a ship in a bottle or knitting.

    One variation uses both glue and staples. Another uses thread. I’m trying them all.

    This is only for some advance review copies. The actual book will be published professionally.

  3. says

    That reminds me, Bill. I received that copy of Tamper that you sent me a few days ago. Planning on posting a photo of it and other books received this week shortly. Hope to read it by the end of the month (I have a few books I have to read for two interviews I agreed to do over the next couple of weeks, but after that, I promise), with commentary to follow.

    As for myself, my plans are to rest, relax, explore other job opportunities for the summer and perhaps beyond (long story I don’t care to discuss now until things are finalized), review a couple of books, continue my physical therapy on my left knee, try to recover from a lingering dual ear infection that’s affected my balance, and steel myself for talking about the Holocaust in class on Thursday. That last bit alone drains me utterly every time I give that presentation I like to do to illustrate more of the horrors than what is contained in the secondary school textbooks.

  4. says

    Did some early Saturday writing before the family awoke. My boys and I are going to the Salvation Army thrift store (their idea, a good one) to look for books and pants and stuff. Then it’s “Everyone outta my room, please” so I can re-write the morning stuff while listening to Bear McCreary’s Battlestar Galactica soundtrack…loud. At least, that’s the plan…

  5. says

    Larry, I’ll never forget the time my wife, son, and I went to the Holocost Museum in D.C.
    It was sad and shocking, and yet, very necessary. It made quite an impression on my son.

  6. says

    I’m working on my current novel, Mother Maiden Crone. I’m some 40,000 words in and going strong. Well, strong except when things get a little erratic and then I stop and sit and try to figure things out. I’m following Stephen King’s advice and simply following my characters’ lead, seeing where they take me. For the most part it’s going well!

    And I’ll add my voice to the others who are awaiting the release of Finch.

  7. says

    Writing to make deadlines in a novel workshop. Decided to go with the novel that was the least formed because, more than likely, it would be the only one that I’ll write from front to back. The other two are coming out in weird fits and starts. So now I’ll have to ignore the other jobs as much as I can, this when the day thing is down to 32 hours, I’ve got some freelance design, and the village stuff is getting complicated with both managerial issues and the economy going in the toilet.

  8. says

    My last comment was not worded very well. As I’m sure you know, I meant that it’s necessary to have a holocost museum, and to educate our children about it.

  9. says


    I’ve never had a chance to visit it yet (I live 12 hours’ drive away at the moment), but I do want to visit it in the near future. I have read quite a bit of the memoirs of those who survived…and those who participated in the genocide. Very difficult for me to think about without thinking of the images and the various ways people have been so cruel to one another.


    No, I haven’t seen it yet. Have you asked Charles about it? I’m curious to read it in solid book form (so it’d be easier to read during my lunch and planning period breaks).

  10. says

    Man, February put me behind. I’m finishing final revisions on the layout for a game book that’s been plaguing me (first it’s too short, then it’s too long, now it’s too short again). I’m writing a handful of articles for a video game I like quite a bit. I’m applying for a couple of jobs. I’ve got, when I count them, no fewer than five stories in various states of being polished and then either shopped or self-published (depending on the story). I’m doing a new interior layout on another book this week, plus I’m cranking out words on a couple of RPG projects. This is the week where I’m closing out the final article manifest for the next Gameplaywright Press book. And I’ve just crossed the one-hundredth-haiku mark in my Haiku Year project, which means the next accompanying essay for that is coming, probably on Monday.

    When I see it all typed out like that, I get real sleepy.

  11. says

    I’ve been ‘outed’ as the anonymous contributor who wrote The Cone Zero Ultimatum in D.F.Lewis’s Cone Zero (Nemonymous Eight) all the other anonymous writers who were featured in the anthology have been named now too.

    CZ has had great reviews and my own CZU has done particularly well with comments such as:

    1/An excellent contribution.

    2/The next story might have been called “The Appliance Rebellion” or “Revenge of the Droids,” or even “The Brave Little Toaster, Take 2,” but instead, the author named it “The Cone Zero Ultimatum.” The characters are so well-drawn, with distinct personalities, that I found it easy to forget that they were mechanical. It’s a fun read, and I think it would make a great animated film.
    (The Fix)

    3/A story with staying power, despite some erratic moments in editing that jolt the narrative flow, is “The Cone Zero Ultimatum” – with a fun premise and an ending that really makes the reader stop and think, it also uses humor effectively, and introduces a most unlikely but engaging pair of friends: “a damaged pizza box and a paranoid clock.”

    4/For lovers of Toy Story we have the marvellous ‘Cone Zero Ultimatum’ in which a herd/swarm/pack of abused household appliances escape and set off on a perilous quest for Eden. Great fun, and utterly compelling.
    (The Future Fire (Terry Grimwood)

    As you can guess, I’m over the moon :)


  12. says

    @ Bill & Larry – my girlfriend took my to Yad Vashem last year, the Holocaust Museum in Israel. It was a very sobering experience – you walk through it via a certain route that charts the chronology of the events before, during, and after the Shoah, so that by the time you finally ‘reach the camps’ so to speak, the sadness & horror is reinforced by a better sense of how they came to be in the first place. There were groups of soldiers recently brought into the IDF for their national service in tour groups there as well (I think it’s compulsory) and it really brings home how much the Holocaust and founding of the state of Israel are inseparable events and how so much of the nation’s identity (or at least it’s roots) and need to be able to defend itself militarily have come about. It puts everything very much in context.

    What I’ve been up to lately:

    *Stressing about an essay I have to write regarding Cognitive Estragement or Extrapolation (not decided which to pick yet) in Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’. After waiting my entire academic life to date to study some Sci-Fi (Orwell not included) I now find myself standing at its gates utterly flummoxed. It’ll pass when I actually put ‘pen to paper’ though.

    *Waiting to get some feedback on the first few chapters of the novel from a writer whom I’ve asked to have a look. I’ve been slacking lately, letting other tasks & aspects of my life take precedence: this has to change soon. It’s not going to write itself.

    *Working on a short story for my university’s Creative Writing Competition/Anthology (which, without wanting to brag, I was lucky enough to take first prize in last year) also a poem for same. The former’s called ‘The Crisis’ and is a short Fantasy/New-Weird/whatever piece about a siege/war taking place in an academic institution, inspired by real-life events (figurative siege becomes literal). It’ll be the first time I’m showing the staff/students there what I’m really ‘all about’. The latter’s about my grandmother who recently died: I discovered some things after she’d gone (including her ‘original’ name, from Burma, before she took on an anglicised one) and it made me think about all the ways in which we know people during their/our lives and all the ways in which we [i]don’t[/i] and if how much it’s ever really possible to [i]know[/i] someone – or at least to know all that they’ve ever been/done. I conclude not, and never, but what we do have is enough.

    *Also I’ve been playing lots of GTA 4. I know, not exactly productive, but I play it while using an exercise bike set up in front of the TV, as part of my fitness regime, so I’m multitasking really. The game’s also actually not just an amoral orgy of violence and sex – a charge levelled at its predecessors – but goes a bit deeper, examining the immigrant experience in America, the American Dream, the nature of loyalty, how you can never really escape your past… Suffice to say I don’t feel too guilty about allowing the misadventures of the cousins Bellic a portion of my time.

  13. says

    Working on Usher the Kudlak, a novel that began as an attempt to move away from Western European-based faerie tale fantasy, and into the folklore/mythology of Central and Eastern Europe. It is modern-set, and American-set (initially), moving to Poland for the latter half of the book. But it is not Poland, exactly. More Poland as a secondary-world, fantastic setting. So, if there’s anyone out there of Polish decent, or Slavic decent, I need your help! Haha!