Friday, 25 March 2011

Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony

As our school expanded, so did our playground areas, and our playground duties. I picked up one in a new area, which was forlorn and lifeless as it was just used as a thoroughfare. Practically my only companions there would be the occasional teacher passing through... and Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony. After a while (over a term late, of course) our sports supplies arrived, and the area sprouted badminton nets and a basketball hoop, so there was an explosion in the student population. Through long months of playground duty, Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony stood vigilant guard with not just me, but other teachers on duty, but I think she went largely overlooked. Incongruous, yet easy to miss... a light blue, with a smattering of rich dark purple stars on her hind quarters and matching hooves. Her mane, flowing free in the wind of the ether. Her face was joyous yet solemn at the same time, and she had a wistful look in her eye. Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony had a coat that felt like suede. “Merely” a sticker, placed by some happy student on one of the windows, overlooked by most. I always greeted her as I walked past, and waved goodbye when I went off duty.

Its the little things, the silly things, that I keep looking for. Who needs a gorgeous sunset over a beach, or other magnificent sights on a grand scale, when you can have tiny patches of wonder. Lower the bar, and keep your eyes peeled for small gifts. Then your joys are abundant, and the payout is even greater when you do ser something large and awe-inspiring.

I kept meaning to take a photo of Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony, and even though I always have my camera on my hip, I was hesitant to do so. It may have been I just wanted to hold her in my mind, pristine and ranging free, instead of corralling her in a soulless picture, miss-filed and then forgotten. Last week, when I went on duty, she was gone. That doesn’t mean she didn’t touch my life. A damp and miserable duty meant there wasn’t many kids to supervise, so I spent time daydreaming about her instead. Where she came from, and where she went, because she couldn’t have been only a sticker. I started to write a short silly story in honour of Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony as a creative writing exercise one night, but then we went to bed after the first paragraph. Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony was in my mind as I was drifting off to sleep, and I couldn’t help but think there was something familiar about her.

A bolt from my subconscious jolted me awake... Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony was a My Little Pony! I wasn’t completely sure, but my hunch felt reasonable. Last night, I started poking around, trying to find out if my suspicions were true. Her form seemed similar to the ones on their website, but I couldn’t find an exact match. Maybe a knock off. Maybe I was wrong. How about an image search, with a few terms thrown in to narrow it down. I found her, my poor Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony. Good old Rule 34 strikes again. At least it wasn’t too extreme. So after that, the wheels fell off my version of happiness for her. My inner child isn’t just an inner child, but more of an complete unit... I don’t really have much space - or use - for an outer adult (except maybe to buy booze). I’m happy and confident with my inner child, and while I don’t mind rainbows and bright shiny colours, I’m not so sure I can knock out a paean of happiness to Blue Belle the My Little Pony. To Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony yes... but it may take a little coaxing to get her to trot back into my life. So instead, I expanded this explanation as the writing exercise. So that’s two unfinished ones in quick succession. Let’s hope that someday, the publication deals come as thick and fast and easily!


Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony

The herd stirred, and nickered softly in the glow of the Aura of Happiness. It was time for them to go out into the myriads of worlds at different periods in the timestream, taking diverse forms. The stallion whinnied in benediction, and dismissed them with a flick of his tail. Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony galloped without motion, and after an infinitesimal moment that somehow seemed stretched, she found her place and purpose. Part of a set of children’s stickers, Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony knew it would be easy this time for her to spread joy. Much better than last time, when the only way she had been able to do so was by being eaten. When she was depressed, she could still feel the tiger’s claws rending her. It had taken the herd many revolutions indeed to be able to summon her back into existence.


Ceased due to Rule 34, even though it wasn’t overly graphic. May come back some day. I will always love you, my Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Monosyllabic - Swords at Dawn

I wasn't a fan of Chuck Wendig's challenge for this week - baby noir - so I finished (well, restarted really) an idea I had a few years ago. I remember I was playing Pirates of the Burninng Sea when I thought of it, a monosyllabic story. A duel seemed the best bet (again, probably influenced heavily by the game) and I started it, but got sidetracked.

It was fun doing it, and harder than I thought it would be. A couple of times, I found a turn of phrase that was good, but it fell down when I realised something was polysyllabic. A few words are a bit dicey if they're one or two (steel, duel, wild, a few others) but I did the clapping thing like I teach my kids in class, and even after doing that, moment nearly slipped through until another read.

That's enough yammering, on with the short story.

Swords at Dawn

Dawn. First light with a glint of sun in the dew on the grass. A few days gone by words had been said and it was time to seek an end. So it had come to this, drawn swords and bare steel. They could not turn back now, a sneer on the face of one proof that this must be. Sad eyes, mad face, low bow, curt nod... duel!

Slow, step by step, they spun, to seek flesh, to cut. Tense then a thrust, the clang of steel, a curse. First blood! A small cut on the hand, just a nick, but it led to rage. A wild swing... a deep breath then calm once more. Look for a way, test with a feint, then drive the point home. A miss, this time. Their world shrunk to the blade, the eyes, the foe.

Beads of sweat drip from his face, fear in the eyes as he knows that his skill is less.  Sweep the blade in an arc, and hope to hit. Aim for the head, but no luck. Fall back, give ground to a rain of blows. He is sure the end must soon come, arm sore, a hand that shakes. A cut to his arm, and his blade starts to weave as the blood runs free.

The next thrust, less of a block than a weak push. His foe grins and steps in his guard, spears his leg with the tip of his blade. As flesh is torn, so too is a cry from his lips. Red stains his pants, his groin hurts. He steps back from the lunge at his chest. Too slow, too late, pain there as well. A weak cough, blood on his lips, last words just a croak. He falls to the ground in a heap and can’t move. He does not want to feel this, wants it not to end this way. His foe wipes his sword on the grass with not a glance spent on the dead. It is done.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Writing Challenge

 Chuck Wendig has decided to throw these up every week. This time, it was a picture entry the one above... Can't do the direct link to his Flickr due to scotch, but somehow I don't think I'm neccessary to drive traffic to him, so its all good.

My entry was supposed to be a hard boiled private dick sort of story. Didn't work. This is all I've got, it sucks dead donkey balls. Maybe I'll fix it. Maybe I won't. Maybe its just a start that'll get fixed someday. Didn't even finish writing, it wasn't going anywhere. Didn't really edit, either.

I'm not too down, while the picture is great, I couldn't get in the style this week. But I've done a bunch of reviews, so I am writing (a few meh's and a fail I think, but screw em).


"Same again, thanks sweetheart" I say, waggling my empty coffee cup at the dame in the waitress uniform. She sighed, and came back with a fresh cup of Joe. I'd had two already, and a third would mean no sleep for a week, but when you're on a stakeout, you gotta look the part. I slurped off a mouthful and then surreptitiously turfed the rest out in the potted plant. With a generous pour from my hip flask, I refilled the cup with the good stuff... just enough to counteract the caffeine high. In this line of work, you need steady hands. It's not so bad, being a private dick, sure the hours are longer than back when I was on the force, but I'm my own boss, I don't have to answer to no-one no more. I notice a twitch at the curtain to the room the mark is in, and like a shot I'm engrossed in the funny pages... head down, just a regular schmoe having a break. This dive of a flop-house is more up market than his usual haunts, so business must be on the up and up. I'm sure the boys in blue would love to have a chat with him about that, but they'd only scare off the big fish. In the reflection of the glass, I see him heading out the door, so I throw down a five spot to keep the waitress sweet on me tomorrow and hoof it after him. I've got a knack at being a subtle tail, after the time I put in down in the Bronx, but a New Orleans Jazz band could be banging and blaring away for all the care he's paying. Can't say as I blame him, as its bucketing down and the wind is making sure that your birthday suit gets soaked.

Down to the wharf, and into a little hole in the wall bar - not his usual stomping ground, so maybe he is working tonight after all. I give the area the once over then head on in. I order a beer and a bourbon, and hunker down at a table with my back to him, but close enough so I can hear what he's saying, and fish out my deck of cards and get all engrossed in a game of solitaire. Our chum is getting nowhere fast with the skirt behind the bar, and I think the evening may be a complete washout. Then bold as brass, in waltzes one of Harvey's boys. So I'm back to earning my keep, as even if these hours ain't billable to my current client knowing what Harvey is up to is always bankable.

Next morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed, I'm warmly greeted by the dame in the diner. I take a stool where I can see the hotel out the front window, and order the blue plate special. I think I'm gonna haveta linger over coffee yet again, but once more there's the twitch to the curtain, so I shovel the last of the eggs and hash into my gob, and wolf it down. Telling her to keep the change, I'm out the door and after him like a flea on a dog. After last night's conversation, I definitely don't want to lose him so I stay as close as I can, doing my best not to be too conspicuous dodging the puddles. We go by Shanks' Pony over towards Brooklyn and in my head I'm already counting the notes, crinkling that filthy lucre in my fingers and trying to decide if I should pay my overdue rent or splurge.

There's always next week, as he's doing it every week now.  And there is my stuff too, so I don't look at it as a defeat.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Must... focus...

Its all well and good finding a bunch of inspirational websites to read, but I have to make sure I don't fall into the trap of just reading them, rather than trying to write stuff too. I've found some corkers of places, really good advice, interesting, well written, motivational and all those other positive epithets. But rummaging through their back catalogue of posts doesn't get words down on the page for me.

In fact, one of the websites specifically warns against reading through the archives. Instead, they suggest only coming when you need some motivation or specific advice, doing a search for something relevant, and reading just that.

Its not a bad idea. So that's enough for now, and down to being productive!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Irregular Creatures - Dogspider

Part of the productive reading I was talking about was Chuck Wendig's Terrible Minds. He put up a writing challenge, that sounded interesting... write a thousand word story, based off the seed idea Irregular Creatures (the name of his book). Once I get me a kindle, I'll definitely be getting his book as his site is interesting, funny and informative all at once.

At 555 words, here is my story.


Lieutenant Jess Sanderson leaned against the bulkhead wall clutching her weapon and raggedly gasping for breath. Far behind her, she heard the eerie drawn-out howl of the dogspider, its chitinous claws scrabbling for purchase on the smooth plascrete floor. Shuddering, she could see in her minds’ eye the drool surrounding its maw, gobbets of spittle breaking off to land smoking on the deck below its pincers.

Refusing to cower behind such paltry cover, she willed herself to get up, and sprint through the airlock. She sensed movement in the corner of her eye, but her course was set now, it was too late to turn back. Frantically spinning the handle, she made it out before it crashed shut again. For a moment she exulted, and drew a deep breath of unrecycled air - it always smelled better out in the colonies without the funk and stench of hydraulics and ship processes. Shaking her head to free herself from her dangerous tangential thinking, Lieutenant Sanderson applied herself to the task at hand - getting away. After all, that door wouldn’t hold back the dogspider forever.

Over there - the boundary fence of the settlement, and on the rise just behind it, some spongiform plant-like cover that was better than nothing. Lieutenant Jess Sanderson headed for it at full pelt, as the dogspider came bursting through the airlock with a resounding crash. Sniffing the air for her spoor, the dogspider’s muzzle swung slowly to bear on her position. A flurry of limbs and it returned its inexorable progress towards her. After diving behind the straggly plant, Jess realised it was futile to keep running... she would have to make a stand here and now. Standing up, she wound back her arm and threw her jitter-bang... a semi-autonomous weapons platform meant to distract and hopefully kill - but the latter was unlikely. Once released, it started to exude a range of sensoria - scents, flashes of light, temperature fluctuations, radiation, you name it - it did it. Once it identified the target, it sped away on an erratic course, until it was overhauled. Then the particle cannon would open up, but Lieutenant Sanderson didn’t hold much hope of its success against a fully grown dogspider.

Indeed, the beast closed upon it with a single minded devotion. Shrugging off the jitter-bang’s feeble assault, the dogspider swatted it with one fearsomely clawed appendage then wrenched it from the ground with its slavering jaws. It bit down a few times, causing a cacophony of rending metal, then once again turned to glare balefully at Lieutenant Sanderson. The dogspider cleared the low boundary fence in a single leap, contemptuously dropping the mangled remains of the jitter-bang at her feet. A low, menacing growl started, and Jess flung herself at the beast, dodging the rasping tongue with its acidic slime; the grasping claws trying to rake her flesh. She wrestled with the creature, hauling on the thick matted hair on its body, until a shout shattered her concentration: “Jessica Amanda Sanderson! Get out of that garden this instant! Back in the house, young lady, and finish your homework!”

“Aw mum, Spike and I are only playing! It’s not like we’ll hurt your stupid daisies!” sulking, Jessica stomped inside, leaving Spike wagging his tail and chewing on his red rubber ball in the sun.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

This time, for real

I've tried blogging before. Its not really for me I decided. That's fair enough really, as I can't think of many people that would want to read my daily goings on. But writing for fun (and maybe someday, profit) well, that's a different kind. I enjoy writing reviews for New Hanoian, and I decided I'm going to have a crack at writing stories, too. I sort of tried but not really in Nanowrimo last year, but my plan was to do it all while I was at work. Not the best plan in the world, when a few days into November they decided we had to benchmark the reading ability of all our kids.

But now, I have Tho on my side. I talked to her (and apparently I also rambled to her at length one time after a bender too, so I must be serious) about it, and she's supportive, by getting on my case and making me write at home too.

At the moment it's little things, but you've gotta start somewhere. If you don't, then you're only awesome inside your own head, and that makes it hard for other people to see how kick arse you are. So far, a few outlines for some stories - character descriptions, world building, very loose outlining but that's better than what I've done before. I'm also doing some fables, as they're quick and punchy, and you can mix up your writing style for each time.

And rather than time-wasting games and idly surfing, I'm doing some writing and productive reading, too. Well, it feels like productive reading. Some of its about writing, some of its inspirational, some of its general knowledge but its surely more useful than just lolcats and rage comics.

So once I get into the swing of things, get a better handle on direct speech (you'd think a teacher would be good at that, yeah?) and beat my crippling comma addiction (23 so far in this post and counting) well then watch out! And here's your chance to say you knew me before I sold out.