Nearly the End of the Holiday Season

Gotta get this monkey offa my back.

Honestly, it can’t come soon enough.  I don’t mean to come across as a scrooge, but it’s been a lot of work and agony exacerbated by poor health.  I’ll spare you the details.  Soon to be New Year’s Eve.  I’ll be staying home while the cops are out targeting the drunks.  “Amateur Night,” is what my grandfather likes to call it.  Maybe I can squirrel away a liter of spirits for the occasion.

it stinks of popcorn in here.  We weren’t cooking popcorn.  I’ll spare you the details.

Did you ever have anything so disturbing happen to both you and a friend or family member that neither of you talk about it for the rest of your lives?  I used to think it was a cliche, but I can verify that it’s quite real.  And I’m not sure precisely what it is, what makes it so miserable that the mere utterance is too inimical to even conceive–too inimical for anyone but a writer I suppose.  I doesn’t even feel real.  I’m not entirely convinced that I didn’t dream it.  No-one else will mention it if I happen to meander about the subject.  I bet you’re thinking that I and a schoolyard buddy both got buggered by the cow-faced school nurse.  Nothing of the sort.  What’s remarkable is just how mundane it was.  Avoid subjects pertaining to the death of loved ones, especially if you have a tendency to forget if you’re actually speaking or merely thinking.

The next serial is being written stream of consciousness.  Science Fiction, following upon the heels of Gregory Samuels, I’m sitting currently at thirty-five chapters.  The end will probably come at sixty chapters.  Did your teachers ever teach you about absolute constructions in grammar school?  I’m reminded of the story of a Viking woman extremely pregnant and living at the New World colony founded by Erik the Red.  Apparently visibly pregnant, when the Skraelings produced themselves from the woods on the warpath, she picked up a fighting axe and threw down with the rest of them, proving her quality in the process.  Some people, apparently, are just good at violence and were always destined to be good at violence.  Others, despite months or even years of training, struggle to squeeze the trigger when the moment of truth arrives.  Apparently, two sorts of people are good at violence–sociopaths and true believers.  The sociopath makes sense enough, but bear in mind that when I say “true believer” I mean someone who, heart and soul, believes in the cause.  Everyone else has to be horse-whipped into fighting, unless the fighting is immediately proximate.  In that respect, the protagonist of an action film who can just mysteriously outfight trained soldiers isn’t entirely unbelievable, just bloody unlikely.

I’m not an heroic person.  I don’t remember anything I’ve done for the sake of someone else that wasn’t family or friend, and I don’t think any of those deeds could be construed as heroic.  I think if I come out in one piece on the other side, it will be because I survived, not because I’ve conquered.

Sometimes I give myself license to meander.  This is just one of those days.  If you can connect the dots, where applicable, I ought to send you a cigar.

Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Eight

On hands and knees and stolen sandals he was scuffling about on the immaculately fashioned marble floor, desperately attempting to retrieve some facsimile of his own locomotion, periodically falling upon his face and hands as the titanic reptilian servitors, handily bearing about the hafts of sturdy partisans, bore absolutely no witness to his dignity or comfort as the far-flung paladin recommenced with the usual “Come on guys!  It’s not a big deal.  Just a scar on my hand!  My mother had a wicked temper and my father was slow to rise!  You know what I’m talking about, right?”  But his candor fell upon deaf ears as his gaze whirled about to the left and right to catch the sideways glance of his scaled wardens, which he couldn’t tell were grinning or stalwart with their toothy countenance resembling that of river predators.  “You can just let me out here,” he vainly attempted.  “I’m sure I can find my way out.  Find my way back.  You won’t even have to tell anyone—just our little secret.  Come on!”  But with a titanic thud he was silenced as they, attempting to round the corner into an adjoining room slammed his forehead mightily into the jamb, silencing his pleading candor into blithering consonants as the world ever-so-slowly returned to him, before depositing him numb before the talons of a museum reptile.

“Is this really he?” he imagined to hear vomiting forth from the mouth of a mountain-consuming snake arching over the horizon.

“See for yourself,” a self-flagellating pick requited.  “He’s got the brand.  And they really don’t mess about with that on the mainland.”

“He’s covered in shit.”

“Supposedly the ship he came in on exploded on the ocean.  No survivors save for he.”

“Ehh…  is this really the best they could—.”

“And look at the man,” he heard as invisible hands jostled with his limbs, laying him out straight.  “When was the last time you saw a human that tall, old-country legacy?”

“I just wouldn’t want to disappoint.”

“Frankly, you should be pleased this creature arrived at all, nearly on his own power.  He was caught bearing the pretense of being a beggar while trying to enter the city.”

“If we’re that lucky, he survived for a reason,” she rejoined, slowly coming around, “where everyone else drowned.”

“From what the exterior guards said, even unarmed he’s viciously dangerous.  Escaped the grasp of several of our more reliable braves and even robbed several custodians on the road.”

“I know—personal experience.”

“You’ll be right as rain in a few days.”

“I need his willing compliance.  This doesn’t bode well.”

“You really think she’ll prove inadequate in that department?”

“It’s not her.  It’s him.  You know what they’re like.  Better on the battlefield than in—.”

“I’m sure the girl can handle him, especially considering.”

“No lack of enthusiasm.”

“Well have you got anything that might suffice?  Perhaps some of the women’s silks might prove his size.”

“Has to look manly.  I’ll see what I can manage.  In the mean-time, bathe the brute yourself if you have to.  Hold him down.  He smells like shit.”

Drinking Before Noon

I’m not terribly photogenic.

Gotta say, it feels nice to have your shit sorted out.  Research completed, writing begun, the continuous feeling of nagging worthlessness at least temporarily mollified, and my Christmas presents are even sorted.  I may need to check with the shipper just to be sure.

I was told, initially, that it was important to have as many fingers in as many pots as possible–great way to get syphilis.  Supposedly that’s how Nietzsche died, that beast.  Maybe that’s not a bad way to start, but it’s certainly not a desirable status quo.  I have pruned my obligations in social media to only what actually matters.  This means dropping the vast majority of my Twitter followers, who are predominantly just advertisers anyways.  DeviantArt is gone.  Wattpad the same.  I’m sure there’s something else I’m missing.  Oh Tumblr–gods above–who could forget or forgive such a hive of scum and villainy?!  And I’m not being ironic when I say that.

Anyways, this allows me to focus my time and budget on what really matters.  Most of my updates are now focused upon Facebook, which has proven to be a cost-efficient means of getting people to read what I’ve written.

Anyways, this will be a working weekend.  I’d like to get the lion’s share of work completed on the current project so thereafter I might move on to the next.  Two serials and another book are currently up in the air, and I’ve found that focusing on one project at a time is most desirable.

In personal news, I am no longer infected.  Deathwing came out.  Not really sure what to read next.  My parents are coming down to visit for two days.  Besides eating and drinking, with the accompanying disapproving nods, I have no idea how to entertain them.  I could go out to a movie.  Most things would have to be out.  I don’t have a large apartment.  Truth is that I’m a workaholic who spends days at a time without human interaction to complete projects.  I am about the least fun as they come, so I don’t have any good ideas.  While we could go to an art festival, frankly I hate the things, and so does my dad.  My mom probably wouldn’t mind though.  Incidentally, comments are appreciated.

Not much of an update, is it?  Once you get beyond a certain level of activity, you realize that everything that’s plain as day in your head is like a fire-hose vomit of information to even close relations.  It’s better to mention as little as possible, lest you be labelled a lunatic and returned to padded walls.

Anyways, obligatory cat, right?

P.S. I had to blow two hundred dollars on updating my operating system.  Apparently Windows 7 Home Premium artificially restricts random access memory to 16 GB.  Fucking obnoxious.  Been updating parts as necessary.  I always have to spend more money than I’d planned.

Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Seven

It was a strange sort of speech—abounding with plosives and angry toothy fricatives seemingly delivered about the rungs of a serpent’s tongue, but it was also chopped, truncated, as if abandoned of any resemblance of inflection.  Nevertheless, it was strangely familiar, essential terms very little changed and the general thrust and victorious cadence undisturbed; in many ways it did resemblance Braxosian, which would presumably be no surprise—but how far to have fallen, spitting out the obscene vitriolic gutturals of broken backs and miserable contempt reinforced from generation to generation until the cause has become long forgotten.  A pidgin, a miserable pidgin, a half-language typically only the ken of far-flung sailors and dock-workers alike occasionally blasted upon the gambling table in half-sunken gambling dens—that’s all it was, an obscene and crooked facsimile of the great father’s tongue ruined with the depredations of something hideous, slithering, dark.

It was wondrous how tightly packed were so many, adorned in their simple black and tattered robes—terrified to illustrate the blemishes upon their sun-stained skins—thickly within the tiny parlor of the village elder.  The edifice just thickly-wrought earth and packed clay attempting badly the elegance of the vaulted arch and nowhere to rest but your ass flat upon the frequently swept earth.  There was no money to be found within, no wealth within the community—farmers one and all—but farming hardly at all, or so it seemed.

“I really can’t thank you enough,” he began incoherently, as the old man fumbled the cup of brownish water to the cavalier’s undiscerning lips, hungry for the very vapor.  He sputtered violently as the water attempted the ingress past his uvula.  But patiently, the elder waited for the fit to subside, and with a fatherly eye that crossed what had once been an aquiline nose, he drew the container again to the recovering man’s lips, who fought tooth and nail the frequent urge of regurgitation.  The surrounding crowd, mailed in dust-stained black, whispered amongst themselves in rolling thunder abounding in crinkled sibilants and unfamiliar stops.

The vigor slowly returning to his salt-stained limbs, with a simple “Thanks,” that the old man seemed to understand, Arius arose to his feet, clasping the offered drinking vessel with his right opened palm, the very sight of which stunned and horrified the surrounding forum, who commenced hither bitter disputation and commenced elsewhere headlong flight, as the gentle winds that buffeted and penetrated the minute cracks in the packed-earth walls whistling was replaced with an altogether uproar of violent imprecations and steel on steel.

Wild-eyed and confused, his gaze drifted to the discriminating eyes of the old man, who only sighed sadly and turned away.  An unfamiliar tongue filled the air, something inhuman, something maniacal, the throaty roar of some sapient swine screeching through impossibly jagged teeth, an unimaginable sound that strove ever closer, as the old man in rags of black quickly hurried through the unperceived vestiges and apertures of the networked buildings, and Arius found himself instantly alone.

Afraid to approach the completely insufficient wicker door, Arius began, attempting to conceal the terrified warbling of his throat, “Is someone there?”  A victorious ululation and the deafening blare of a deformed brass horn was his only reply, and as the figure slashed the paltry door aside, keen on the contents within, its eyes caught only the retreating feet of a man struggling through the parlor window into the contested streets below, abandoned now of any clear evidence of human habitation as the location seemed a ghost town, with the level of degradation to prove it; a home of tumble-weeds only and the occasional wandering serpent.

Carefully examining his environs, he made slow progress, until rounding a village corner abutted by a corner wall, he was horrified to find himself eye-to-eye with the serpent-slits of an armored figure on massive, digitigrade legs, a figure evidently scaled beneath the layers of scaled mail, who bore a countenance so insidiously inhuman, more like the snout of a reptile or the angry muzzle of a snake—or god knows what else!  With an open hand, whatever it was, crouching mysteriously as it was—god’s above it must have been more than seven full feet tall—it snatched out with an open palm to seize Arius away, but he eschewed his grasp just barely, the product of a youth half-spent evading the righteous recriminations of those wronged.  Bare-foot and out of his wits with wild imagination, he tore down the abandoned streets like a bat out of hell, narrowly dodging the several taloned claws of his several pursuers that alighted up upon the dusty trail until, rounding a corner, he came upon the familiar sight of a figure clad in black, untarnished and unblemished and strangely untattered in countenance clasping the reigns of several steeds mighty enough to carry a full trio of manly men into battle each.  He didn’t ask any questions, did not making any assignations, did not care for the elegant frame nearly his own concealed entirely beneath the pall of deepest black, but with a fist that seemed to glow, his solid blow laid the figure flat, and the bounty of this cavalry he made his own.

Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Six

A torrid mixture of exasperated gasping and dry and occasionally briny heaving poured forth from between the fence of his teeth, as grasping against pickled and salty digits he dragged himself between half-rotten logs and an apparent ceaseless forest of desiccated kelp upon the sandy bier of a distant beach, white in the blinding rays of the following noon.  What remained of his panoply, what remained of his gear had utterly betrayed him, lying now at the shivering feet of the unrelenting ocean that had battered and buffeted his superlative limbs unceasingly—now a twisted facsimile of their former glory robbed of their puff and moisture and starving for five nights irresponsible feasting.  But he was alive; he was alive; the breath continued to fill and then eschew the myriad vestibules of his lungs, hoarse and raspy though their respiration, as if drawing in daggers through the air exacerbated with the granules of sand carelessly cast skyward in his maddening progress up the shore in utter terror of the proceeding tides.

He tried upwards, but he tumbled forwards painfully into a bed of fragrant coast-line ivy.  Spitting out the unusual flavor from his starving, white-speckled tongue, he dug his fist hard into the earth, and with all his fury—evident in the crimson strain of his face—he strove upwards, only to collapse a second time—head first—into the unforgiving soil, nearly cracking his teeth upon a misplaced stone.  The familiar flavor of iron poured past his taste-buds as the sanguine trickled down his teeth—strangely pleasing with the utter desiccation of his pores.  He whirled about on his back in desperation, again catching the increasingly unwelcome glint of his own skyward companion from what seemed a lifetime ago.

“My father will be displeased,” he mumbled, spitting out the sand between his teeth.  “His father’s panoply irretrievably lost at the bottom of the sea, and I’ve exacerbated my gambling debts.  Just don’t tell mother.”

Straining against the force of his own weight, he sat up, wobbly in disposition with the peculiar tunnel-vision attributed to fish, as he cast his gaze up and down the long silver strand of the beach running on into the fine edge of the horizon.  In the distance, a pair of blackened specks, juxtaposed maliciously against the samite sand, approached at a cavalry pace his own little beach-head.

Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Five

In the dark tumbling dungeons of Erebus flooded with the endless tears of dead and dying mortals, even there is light, as bubbling forth, yearning to crest into the amicable shine of day and join the everlasting sky came a man’s final panicked and exhausted exhortations and wild exclamations as he vainly grasped and fussed at the fastenings of his divine armor appointed in whirling stars as he sank further and further into the nether vorago voracious to steal his mortal breath forevermore.  On all sides, the broken and blasted bodies of slaves and sailors drifted aimlessly downwards, strange and blinkless as if the very wax figurines of some monstrous diorama.  Just the broken tip of a sailor’s lance had he, dulled with the long years of use and abuse—now little more than a bludgeon, his sole implement against the sinking steel dragging him ever downwards—slow, slow, proving ever more finally his downfall.  Garbling black imprecations at the outrageous cast of fate muddled in the blackening waters threatening the bloodied burst of his eardrums to undoubtedly attract the predatory gaze of murderous things conceived before the first tread of land, exasperated he tried and tried with every last exasperated essay only to witness the stiffening of his extremities as invisible hands continued to pull him downwards—the abyss increasingly his home.

But like the screaming, howling resuscitation of the struggling dying, heart pumping with every last gasp of berserkergang vigor, he strained just one last time, as the invisible tears drained down his cheeks with his final glimpse of the escaping star stalwart above, an old friend from what seemed a bygone age consumed with the inevitable progress of time and the obliteration of childhood innocence within the unceasing blows of the practice yard.  And then he whispered something only for his fiery ears contemptuous.  His dying hand drifted aimlessly to his hamstring and fixed meaningfully across his own leathern snap, which rapidly gave out and burst under the merest expression of intended force, and so similarly gave way the clasps of his greaves, which sunk with accelerating desire for the far-flung ocean floor.  And so, as if by miracle, the grand part of his panoply gave away, and with a renewed desire to live a long life—if only to escape such a fate—he trailed the final abandoned bubbles of his violent imprecations towards the shadowless noon forever away from the drifting, swaying dance of the horrible drowned.

As his head crested the remunerating waves, with the sound of slaughtered swine gasping the beloved respirations of the gentle air, he couldn’t help but notice—quite impossible—the inferno oven of something nearby crackling and exploding like the collected contents of a thousand overheated furnaces.  Whirling about hither and thither, seeing only dissident refuse of timber and canvas in his waterlogged vision, he suddenly came to rest upon something brilliant and bright, blinding against the sky.  She was alight, the brigantine.

“Nothing could survive that,” he mumbled without evident sadness, as he clasped upon the nearby flotsam straining to see upon the horizon any evidence of friendly land.

I’ve Got Pipes in my Knees

cats-oct2012-16Not sure about that capitalization. In any case, it’s been somewhat more than two weeks, and the fans are due something of a progress update. Been working solid in research for an upcoming serial. Never really understood what called for the movement from ships predominantly of oar to ships altogether of sail. The more you know and all that. By this, I can keep things going. Anyways, the research is heretofore completed, great as it was. Perhaps under a month’s writing and the next serial can be completed, but with what level of editorial finish I cannot so far state. Then it’s to write the next book. As I say again and again, I’ve already got two completed volumes waiting in the wings, but there’s absolutely no hurry. For one it’s just to determine the title. I’m thinking “Cruelty and Castigation,” or “Pain and Pugnance” or Pugnation but these latter do not seem an active part of the English vocabulary. How wonderful.

The other book will occur within the same universe as Sword of the Saints: Sinner and even possess similar titling. I was thinking Sword of the Sinner: Exile, but I’m sure I’ll be convinced upon some other moniker.

Much of the rest of the recent effort has been to redirect my marketing efforts.  Some people might think that my status as a writer precludes me some such adventures, but things simply aren’t the way they were fifty years ago.  A writer has to be first and foremost an entrepreneur and only a writer afterwards.  Imagine my shock upon such a revelation, bookish and otherwise swine creature that I am.  Anyways, most of it just has to do with how I decide to spend my time and budget on such projects–what works and what doesn’t.  As such, in addition to too many things not even worth mentioning, I’m restructuring my facebook [hah, I used undercase like you so hate–fuck you, facebook] account to make use of a pair of permanent pages in addition to my author’s page, one of which will emphasize the works incident upon my science fiction universe and the other those upon my fantasy universe.

If my communication seems strange, it’s because I’ve spoken to about three people in about as many weeks.  This is probably my native tongue.

Aside from the aside from, I’ve just been reworking my home life.  Been a lot of things to move around, many things to receive and many things to rubbish.

Anyways, just let me find some photograph of a felid and we’ll be off.

Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Four

Like the seven winged bearer of light rising from the deepest throes of endless Erebus, he shined in the undifferentiated dark like sparkling starlight, tawny mane fluttering in an imaginary wind reflected upon only his unblemished features.  Time seemed to slow, time seemed to crawl, and time seemed to cease as slowly he ascended the ashen and grimy staircase at the head of the starving and insatiate damned, doomed to live evermore—according to the firmament’s canon—eking out a miserable existence underneath the unfeeling tread of the living, persecuted for merely being on the wrong side of fate while the common man and the abbot both call it “justice.”  The sailors were dumbstruck, weapons held only limply in their crinkled hands, having already long forgotten the miserable death of their leader and employer, whose head even now tumbled back and forth upon the shit-riddled deck, reverberating through the timbers as its fractured fence of the mouth rolled to and fro.  His smile was remarkable, his teeth shining white, his cheeks a-glow with genuine crimson; they nearly threw down their weapons then and there.  But he wouldn’t stop, climbing at a resting rate ever closer, step-by-step, as all and one were universally held firm, only able to address his approach with the twinkling glimmer of their awe-struck eyes dilated almost entirely black.

He laid his hand upon the foremost’s shoulder like father and son, and reproachfully withdrew the man’s battered and half-rusted hewing spear once clasped tightly in hand, but before the man’s eyes could again address his face, the armored knuckles of the cavalier’s free hand collided with the force of typhoon, rendering concave utterly the whole of his face, and as if stricken by lightning, the man fell down there at once dead.

All thoughts turned at once to flight, but he was already heaving forward their whole host under the length of his liberated hewing spear, untowardly mighty and emboldened with the pedagogical fury of the daylight bronze that robs midnight.  And as he rose above decks, the sky smiled again to see him, and he hurled a full score of men backwards, who fell helpless to be the prey of his lethal lacerations to stain his gauntlets crimson bright.

But he did not relent and lunged on ahead, the collapsed to be the prey of the eager hordes throbbing with the unimaginable fury of the enslaved.

His first succeeding opponent, unarmored and unprepared, fell down dead, bludgeoned lethally through the lungs with the reverse stroke of his haft.  Another, terrified stiff, he smote down to hell with a draw across his carotid that sprayed his immediate companions in a spurting shower of his essential ichor.

But a third found his wits, casting forward with the poorly constructed blade of a sailor’s dirk, but erring of his target he was fortunate to just very nearly turn the eerily concise and immediate counterstroke of his opponent’s spear intended for the yokes of his head.  Nevertheless the cavalier was a talented fencer, abounding in ruses, and the rebounding point lodged in the throat of the sailor’s immediate compatriot staggering in a wild-eyed jig before slumping to the rollicking floor.  Unnerved, but not to be outdone, the sailor lunged once again for the undefended face of his striking assailant, only to collapse upon the point of split wood, the haft in the cavalier’s hands smitten in a moment of need.

Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Three

“I knew you were stupid, Macheda,” the tawny-bearded cavalier rejoined, his voice wavering as if the words unusual.  “But there’s nothing I can do for you now.  No more cheap whores and expensive swords.  You’ve already stepped into your grave.  Your crew will arrive insufficiently.  My apologies, in advance.”

With the experience of decades, the captain’s hand flashed to the golden-engraved ivory handle of his cavalry saber, bitten and struck with indelible marks of edge upon edge blows, a survivor—if not always a victor—of a lifetime’s worth of battles, what had once been an excellent prize robbed from the stiffening corpse of an overcome privateer.

“Comrades,” the captain announced with a concluding whistle, “the cargo’s escaping!”

“Fool,” the cavalier mumbled, as he stepped into the elegant crescent of the falling saber, which clattered helplessly against his pauldrons.  Grasping the captain firmly by the offending wrist, he launched his gauntleted fist with the force of an angry god into his low cheek-bones, which yielded into the air the sanguine spray of uprooted teeth which danced upon the shit-soaked deck like dice.

Having liberated the long-lived saber from his tumbling opponent, with a single motion handed down in the scope of long generations in the Perihelion’s alabaster square of childhood bruising, he freed the captain’s head from his shoulders, completing the sickle-shaped motion with the return to an imaginary sheath held customarily in the free hand.

They were falling over each other in the unabashed greed for a day’s more freedom even if it should be bought with enough sweat and bloodshed to drown the decks altogether in sweet crimson.  Their chains jingled as they vainly arose to the reverberating thud of the checking links, slipping and falling upon the slick, feces-stained wood finish.

“They didn’t have to ask,” Arius marveled, spell-bound by the obscene display of wicked and contorted limbs indivisible in motion.  “I need a good slave revolt.  And gods, miserable as they are, they look ready.”

A good majority of the prisoners were held by a system rooted in place by a single, long chain of particularly heavy and cumbersome character, much more than a man could violate with his hands; it would take a stout hammer and a broad steel splitter to see them off, things that weren’t available, unless he should deign to risk alone the hurricane footfalls streaming this way and that overhead.  He addressed a connecting link, fixing his newly acquired decades-abused blade like a wedge, and he began to twist with all the might that was available him.  And while to a common observer, it might have seemed an impossible task, the blade more surely to break itself than the impossible rounds of iron, a sufficiently holy man might have observed to glow from the circular brand, the burned imprint of his right palm as he strained against the very powers of nature herself.  It split, his woeful saber, the shattered edge launching itself like the blast of lightning to come to rest into the oaken walls, but so split the rung as well, which clattered to the floor in miraculous pieces shining like starlight.

So taken were they that all the madness and confusion at once terminated, and their eyes rose to meet his, as if staring into the unmarked countenance of a saint.

“Up there,” he began with a whisper, “they’re arming themselves, ready now to return you to bondage.  Come with me.  Stand by my side.  And follow my way.  We’ll win your freedom by the sweat of your brow and the blood on the timbers.”