I was writing part of Psy-Clones yesterday (oh! I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo this July! And then hopefully straight-up NaNoWriMo in November!) and I wrote about hyposprays. I wanted something that was futuristic, needles being already a thing of the last century and surely soon to be replaced. It didn't even occur to me that this was a problem until I read that chapter to Sue.
"That's from Star Trek," she said. "I'm not sure you can use it."
She's right; this Wikipedia entry about hyposprays specifically lists it as being a Star Trek invention, developed because NBC would not allow them to show needles being used to inject substances. That's fair enough. It seems I'm not alone in automatically using the term 'hypospray' to refer to this device; these three articles, among others, also do. Apparently the term we should all be using is 'jet injector' which is slightly clumsy to me.
Trip tossed and turned. No matter which way he lay, the ground seemed bumpy underneath him. There was a stone poking up through the fabric of his bedroll and the cold nipped at his nose. He sighed. Victor’s snores seemed to penetrate the entire fabric of reality, never mind anything else.
The story he had told floated in his mind. One of the tricks they had taught him at the Library to take advantage of his memory was to treat each memory as an island, a piece of rock, floating in an infinite dark gulf. Bridges connected the memories, allowing him to see how one linked to another. With a thought, he could fly, run, walk, from one island to another, reviewing the objects and scenes there.Read More
For the tenth story, I knew that I wanted to return to Trip and Victor. This was also a genre I haven't really tried; horror. I think it turned more into surrealism that actual suspenseful storytelling, but I'm sure I can practise. It's not really my forté but I'm sure I can work on that!
The hillside sloped lazily down towards the path and Trip ran down it, gleefully pinwheeling his arms around. The wind whipped his robes around him and teased at the stubbly hair growing through on his head. He reached the bottom, sandals crunching on the gravelly road, and looked back up the hill. Like some dark patch of treacle slowly sliding down a wall, Victor was making his surly way towards the path.
The man looked older, Trip thought. Visibly. Like the events of Fennica, just a few short weeks, had aged him. He was still made of boot leather and twice as tough, but there was a definite slouch that hadn’t been there.Read More
Every few days I sit and say, mostly to myself, 'What shall I write about today?' Nine times out of ten, my wife would say 'Write about a kitten!'.
So here goes.
Gerald sat on the chair and watched the action with increasing interest. There was every chance that, in a moment or two, weapons would be drawn and, if he just sat here and stayed quiet, he was well out of it.
The big man with the missing finger whose beer had been spilt had turned and grasped the smaller man’s shoulder. The smaller man, who Gerald could see had at least three knives sheathed behind him, was nonetheless turning pale despite having the weapons advantage.Read More
Owen came in to the small bedroom, his face covered in ash and grime. Erin looked up from the book she was reading.
“Any luck?” she said.
He shook his head. “Almost all the paper burned. Only the items in metal boxes were saved.”
“I’m so sorry,” Erin said, her eyes burning with unspent tears. “If you hadn’t had to help me, you could have-“
“Now then,” Owen said sternly. “Let’s have none of that.” He sat on the end of the bed, which creaked alarmingly, and stroked her legs through the covers. “You’re always my top priority. Both of you. There’s nothing been done out there that can’t be undone with a little effort.”Read More
Four days went by, four long and difficult days. Erin found herself spending more time at the copying desk than she had at any of the other places they had visited, for more often than not she was able to employ someone local to help. As well as the many dozens of books in the town, each house was also home to a variety of pamphlets and scraps of paper. When asked about these, the townsfolk were noncommittal; travellers had left them and they had been saved in case they were useful. One house they had visited that very afternoon had belonged to a particularly old man. He had welcomed them in when Mead had explained why they were there. They discovered that the house contained a small metal box literally filled with small scraps of paper, none bigger than Erin’s hand, each covered in what appeared to be random scrawlings. To even get to the box, the man had dragged a piece of furniture away from a wall to reveal a hidden compartment, and the dust on the box had been years deep.Read More
Erin looked at Owen and smiled. The setting sun’s final rays pierced through the low-lying cloud and perfectly lit his golden-brown hair into a glowing halo. He looked over at her and mirrored her smile, the creases wrinkling unevenly at his scarred cheek. He turned back to concentrate on the road and Erin absently stroked the curve of her pregnant belly, buried as it was under three layers of fur against the night’s chill.
It was hard to imagine that they had been on the road for almost nine months already without break. Then again, she mused, it wasn’t as if the Church encouraged breaks in reclamation missions for anything much. Pregnancy was a mere mis-step in the grand plan, one that would lead to the child being fostered by one of the many monasteries just like Erin and her husband had.Read More
“Once,” I began, “there was a boy. The boy’s name isn’t really important right now, but his parentage certainly was. He was the son of Ming Bao, the famous investigator.”
Hiri cocked his head to one side. “You had a son?”
“Don’t interrupt me.”
He looked a little surprised at being spoken to in such a way, but closed his flapping mouth.
“Now. This boy was quite happy in his early youth, astounded by his father’s wisdom and able to follow most of the deductive leaps he made. They worked well together, and the father loved his son very much.” I swallowed the lump in my throat, straining to ensure that my voice remained strong. “Everything was fine until the day that a quartet of junior officials in the empire of Koru decided that the Emperor himself represented the biggest losses for the banks and treasuries of the empire, and that he needed to be done away with. Simple, really.”Read More
I woke early on the final day of the journey, aware that I would need my wits about me not only to survive the day, but to ensure that those I was indebted to survived it as well. I dressed in my finest clothing, that which I reserved only for visits with heads of state; a long black jacket embroidered with silk, the embroidery mirroring the sort of style found in rich Koruans, over a white shirt, dark-blue waistcoat and matching trousers, all capped off with boots shines to the point that you could happily do your hair in them. I did, for want of a mirror in the small compartment, and folded the bed away before facing the day.
Breakfast was exquisite; apparently a large pig had gotten on to the tracks and become caught in the screw. Because of the unique design of the screw, not actually touching the rails, it meant that we were saved a nasty derailment that could potentially have killed us all and instead treated to fresh bacon and pork chops. The coffee was still below standard but my palate was, sadly, becoming used to such fare.Read More
Over the twenty-four hours that followed, I kept a close eye on the the various players with whom I shared First Class. Loelle came out for meals but seemed to spend much of her time resting, either asleep or merely at peace. I had conducted a brief search and discovered that her cargo was five cabins down from ours, safely stowed. It consisted mainly of finely tanned leathers, boxes of furs, linen and several cases of completed clothing. Hoping to reaffirm the dates that her husband had been delivering, sure that they provided the alibi she needed, I performed a little light-fingered reconnaissance into the Notary’s cabin while he ate his breakfast. Sure enough, the dates matched up so that, even had she travelled with her husband on his supply route, she would have been in Rida during the first two murders and still in Zar for the third.
Jef’nerin apparently preferred to spend his meals in his cabin, for I did not see him leave once during the day. For hours I turned the problem around in my head; what was his final project? In the past he had successfully kept his business ventures a secret from me. I had been aware of a shadowy figure behind several of the criminals I had apprehended, but he had never made a formal appearance and I had only been able to garner the faintest suggestions about his manner. To have Jef’nerin laid out for my study like this was… unheard of.Read More
I sat down at my table in the dining cabin and tucked my napkin into my shirt. The smell of pot-roasted beef, spiced rice and some of the tiny onions so common in Koruan food, mixed with hearty baked vegetables, tantalised and tempted me. As our plates were delivered to our tables, I sat back and took a moment to observe my lunchtime companion.
Her name was Loelle, and she was the woman from the compartment next to mine. Having apparently passed a comfortable night, lulled into sleep much as I was by the shushing of the rail, she had dressed in a simple shirt and trouser ensemble with riding boots up to her thighs. Exuding from every pore the attitude of ‘competent adventurer’, she had simply come and sat down opposite me without any preamble as I sampled the Express’s excuse for a coffee.Read More
I walked down through the carriages towards my compartment, opening my senses to every little nuance. There, a woman going to meet her lover without her husband knowing; the tan line on her ring finger, expensive shoes but worn several times and clothing that was of a lesser quality. He’d bought her the shoes and she used them whenever she could; the ring was around her neck on a chain, though. It wouldn’t last long. I passed her by and continued on. A mother and a small boy, the former feigning sleep while the latter stared out the window at the passing landscape. A travelling bard, composing something he hoped would be the next great thing. I winced as he strummed on his lute; it was unlikely, given that one of the strings was a semitone flat. I passed by them all and a dozen others besides.Read More
This story, in six parts, represents the one and only time I will ever write a mystery detective story without first planning every detail. As it was, I deliberately didn't plan any of this and it just kind of tumbled out.
A courier arrived this morning with a message for me. Apparently my tickets for the Inira Express are ready for me to pick up from the station office. I asked the courier for something official to identify him with, naturally, but he checked out.Read More
Still marvelling at the feeling, Shep took every opportunity to touch his amber finger to every surface he could. Mardz was right; it was startling how realistic everything felt. There were even other side effects, ones that could be turned to use. Running his finger along a metal railing produced a small shower of blue sparks, as did running it vigorously through his hair. The next person he touched after that, a drunk leaning queasily against a wall, suffered a small lightning shock and jerked upright suddenly. Shep turned around and walked away before he could be identified.Read More
Waiting. Yet again. Shep cursed the fates that had caused his precious hand to break, forced him to meet with that short drunkard, forced him to wait outside in the drizzle waiting for the engineer, who was already ten minutes late.
It wasn’t even as if the mission had been that hard. Sneak into a minor general’s bedchamber; slip a little extra something into his brandy, the one he always kept by the bed; sneak back out again. Hardly the stuff of legend, but one had to pay the bills. It had been so simple as well. A whore paid to keep the guard busy, but not too busy; a small poisoner’s kit stashed in a bush on the other side of the wall into General Fong’s residence; a quick climb up the drainpipe up to the balcony and in through the window, which was never closed. It had to be while the general was sleeping because he brought the brandy to bed with him and the first thing he did each morning, the drunkard, was have a glass of hair of the dog.Read More
Shep walked into the bar with his customary swagger, making sure to keep his left hand near the hilt of his dagger. It wasn’t like he expected trouble walking into a dive like this; it was more than he always expected trouble. The shirei’s man was by the bar, of course, dressed in commoner’s clothes but conspicuously not drinking anything. They made such an effort to blend in, Shep thought as he walked to an empty table, but there was always an air of officialdom about them.
He checked the corners quickly; one exit back out on to the street, one either side of the bar itself. The barkeep was keeping to one end of the bar; no doubt his weapon of choice was there. Some of these places could get pretty rowdy at the end of a workday as the farmers and swamp-clearers returned. It wasn’t unheard of for the shirei’s soldiers to mix things up a bit, ensure drinks were purchased and then return later to mop up the overspill.Read More
Lauren woke up with a gasp. She was still slumped on her chair, but bright sunlight was shining down from the skylight directly on to her. Grimacing, she put a hand up to shade her eyes and rolled her neck, feeling the joints click and grind.
The dream was already fading in her mind, just leaving her with the uneasy impression that something terrible was going to happen and a little damp patch on her shirt where she had dribbled in the night. With a sigh, she set about making breakfast in the tiny kitchenette.Read More
It was unmistakeable; the tree in front of her was exactly grown in the image of the One Tree; it was easy to check as the silhouette of the One Tree lay on the horizon wherever you . Its leaves glowed slightly, green with a slight golden sheen, and small flowers dotted it, each with a tiny yellow dot in the centre. The bark was pebbled and there was a slight vine-like protrusion, as if something had grown under the bark, spiralling up the trunk.
The cable ran straight into the root system of the tree and disappeared somewhere into the earth. Lauren walked around the wide trunk of the tree, stepping carefully over exposed roots and avoiding patches of long grass. She saw a glimmer of something in the branches and stepped closer to look. She leaned against the trunk and immediately drew back with a gasp.
It was warm.Read More
Lauren stared at the masked man with no little fear and apprehension. He was stood in front of her doorway, blocking her way back into her workshop and appeared to have no intention of moving. She let go of the sack she was holding and it rattled onto the floor, screws and small brass rods spilling out onto the ground.
“You’re going to have to listen to reason eventually,” the man said. He was dressed in simple farmer’s clothing, a rough cotton shirt and thick trousers tucked in to heavy boots. The mask covered his whole face, a rough-hewn thing to look at; bark fronted with two eyeholes crudely cut out. The edges showed a bit more care though, sanded flat. Three or four pieces of bark made a sort of crown up from the top of the mask. It neatly covered his eyes and nose. He could have been anyone.Read More