Posts Tagged ‘ Fictions ’

From the Ashes

2010.08.02
By

AS DETAILED ELSEWHERE, I DID some freelance work in the early 1990s for an eccentric Northern California non-profit called Obscure Research Labs.

Well… when the phone rings at 3 a.m. and the familiar metallic voice offers an occasional work-from-home project featuring fabulous prizes, free virtual travel and a steady below-poverty income, all I could say was http://metaphorager.net/orl: ORL’s new Facebook page. And I’m told that if enough people “like” it, They might even throw in some food chips. True, it’s a long way to the surface from this new office, but They assure me the packaging will prevent most breakage…

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Flash Fiction: Death Finishes His Drink

2010.07.23
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THE MAN WITH YESTERDAY’S EYES put down his glass.

“Well, it’s 3 a.m.,” he sighed. “I guess those poor bastards aren’t going to terrify themselves.”

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Under Oasine: Chapter 3 Synopsis

2010.07.22
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WHEN LAST WE MET, OUR heroes (the reluctant Hapler, the wounded Ij, and the idealist Twiz) were either successful or not in their quest to prove Twiz’s Theory of Oasine Connectivity: they did discover a new oasis beyond their native Fint, but have been deterred in their return by some unexpected visitors of unknown intent…

After some tense fumbling, conversation is established. The visitors call themselves Aquans (at least, for now) and call the new-to-our-heroes oasis something translating as “Good Fruit and Game, But Watch Out For Leaping Teeth.” They are led by a young woman (for now named “Possible Love Interest, But Watch It Buster”) and are uncertain what to do with the Finter trespassers, especially since their waterpod is broken and Ij injured by the aforementioned Leaping Teeth.

The Aquans then conduct the party (and pod) to their undersurface city, there to consult the Old Aquan. After a couple of pages of travelogue, they arrive and meet the appropriately named Old Aquan — polite, curious and gruff as he cautions the newcomers that they have entered a bigger world than they expected. He does not elaborate, but urges them to leave at once; when told of their difficulties, he orders PLIBWIB to see to the healing of man and pod.

A week later, Ij is fit as a Finter fiddle, developing a crush on his nurse (much to Hapler’s amusement), and ready for the PLIBWIB-lead journey back to Fint. The four set off in the repaired-and-spiffed-up pod: but after a page or so of narrative feint, they run smack into the bigger world of which the Old Aquan warned them…

And that’s all you get ’til I write the next chapter! (See http://metaphorager.net/under-oasine-synopsis1/, second paragraph; for an Oasine Overview, click to http://metaphorager.net/tag/under-oasine/).

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Spacetime Coordination

2010.07.17
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“So the first thing is where. My first thought is the Heart of Green.”

“Off to the Right?”

“No, before that and down hill. At the base of the Stairstream.”

“Oh. Under that cliffy flat place that leads to Blasted Heath, over the cliffs.”

“Yes, where Keith started cursing out the valley in neo-Sumerian.”

“—hole.”

“Quite. Anyway, what about there?”

“Okay. Sure. Then we could go by Elven Rocks…”

“The rocks on the right, or the ones on top of the hill with the view down the back and, what is that, north?”

“Yeah … I think they filmed part of Harold and Maude out there. Looks like it. The bridge scene.”

“That was San Mateo.”

“Right, but if it wasn’t, then there. But on the from where the view is.”

“Roger Dean Rocks.”

“Roger Dean Rocks. Right. The acorn mortars.”

“Right. And through that sort of on top of the hill lane. You know? By the rock by the tree.”

“Oh! Yeah! The birthday rock!”

“Didn’t you play the flute up there once?”

“I’ll bring it.”

“Who else can we invite?”

“Who else knows the way?”

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Prosatio Silban and the Disconsolate Wineherd

2010.06.25
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EVEN OVER THE CLANK OF his galleywagon, Prosatio Silban could hear the sobs.

The weeper, a well-to-do farmer by his dress, was standing beside a well-appointed and -laden wagon at the crossroads leading out of Vineol, a town renowned throughout the Uulian Commonwell for the delicacy and refinement of its wines. The day was hot for the region and season, and had been so for many days – hot, cloudless but with an occasional breeze at the right moment. Prosatio Silban wondered why the man was giving such unguarded vent, and reined his galleywagon to a halt.

“It’s too warm a day for such distress,” Prosatio Silban offered, dismounting.

The farmer produced a large handkerchief, blew noisily. “Not if the sun has blasted your crop, and with it your hopes for wintertime eating,” he said, and bowed. “Pars Killiup.”

“Prosatio Silban, The Cook for Any Price. May I be of service to you?”

Pars Killiup turned to his carriage. “Only if you can turn dross into gold, or rot into bounty. Look.” He drew back the wagon’s canvas cover, revealing several barrels, then pried the lid off of one. Inside was a tight-packed mass of what looked like black wrinkled berries, glinting here and there with rainbow sparks. A musky, tangy aroma rose from the barrel; unfamiliar, yet not unpleasant.

“Some of the finest winefruit this side of the Rimless Sea, or was before the heat ruined it,” he said. “I harvested the raisings anyway, just to give the lads something to do, and was taking it to the river. But the thought was more than I could bear, and so you found me.”

Prosatio Silban thought of the Uulian proverb, Disaster: Opportunity for the attentive. Aloud, he said, “Everything has its proper place. We will take these to market.”

“What? Why? So my neighbors can share my disgrace?”

“Not in Vineol. In Pastisi.”

“Pastisi? But Pastisi is nothing but brewers and bakers! They don’t even buy wine, let alone winefruit. Besides, it’s at least a dayride from here.”

“Nevertheless,” said Prosatio Silban. “You will sell these for more than they would bring if fresh.”

“Eh? Are you some sort of wizard?”

“No. Simply a cook who knows his customers.”

“Well, then. I have already lost my livelihood; I suppose you can’t make things worse.”

And so, following a journey divided by supper (grilled something and beets with a half-bottle of white duliac), a peaceful sleep, and breakfast (eggs with gravy, biscuits, sliced citrion and a bracing pot of yava), masters Silban and Killiup wedged themselves into the bustling marketplace of Pastisi.

“Now then.” Prosatio Silban opened the barrel they’d unloaded. “Within an hour, you’ll be the richest man in Vineol.”

“How so?”

Prosatio Silban was cut off by a gruff “What are these?” from a brawny chap in a brown baker’s tunic.

“‘These?’” Prosatio Silban replied, raising his voice a trifle. “’‘These’ have never before been seen on this side of the Rimless Sea. Taste one.”

The baker sniffed, raised an eyebrow. “Hm. Sweet.” He chewed, eyes closed, nodding. “Not cloying. Fruity. What are they?”

“That is the secret,” Prosatio Silban said. “My friend, Pars Killiup, has developed a method whereby the essence of a fruit may be concentrated within its skin by removing its waters.”

“Eh? Magik?” asked an old woman who had stopped to listen.

“No, madam,” Prosatio Silban replied. “Not magik, but a simple process sanctioned by the Flickering Gods—and, of course, Pars Killiup.”

The woman wrinkled her brow. “Looks like ruined winefruit to me,” she said.

Prosatio Silban closed his eyes as if in pain. “Ruined fruit is garbage. One does not sell garbage in the marketplace of Pastisi.”

“True,” said a boy leading a goat. “What are you selling?”

The old woman chewed, raised her eyebrows. “Something tasty, whatever else it be,” she said.

“How much d’you want for them?” asked the baker.

“What are you selling?” asked a man in the livery of a Pastisi noble.

“Something good for custard,” said the boy with the goat.

“Or bread,” said the baker.

“Or biscuits,” said the woman.

“How much for that barrel?” asked the liveried noble.

That evening, Prosatio Silban and PK dined on a truffled squab apiece atop a rich pilaf of rice, jo-beans and cashews – sweetened with the last handful of Pars Killiup’s accidental discovery. “This is delicious,” he said, raising his empty glass. “But how did you know?”

“Everything has its proper place,” Prosatio Silban replied, pouring the last of the duliac. “You just have to know where it is.”

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Under Oasine: Chapter Two Synopsis

2010.05.16
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NO ONE WAS MORE SURPRISED than I to have finished the second chapter of my novel[1], nor when the characters hijacked the plot (at about the 0.23 mark. Stephen King said that was going to happen eventually). Thus, in all its synoptic glory[2]:

In our previous chapter, our three heroes (one reluctant), in their quaint craft the Deeper, tumbled deep into the oasis of Fint to surface only the Hydrator knows where. Are they lost, or is their hometown, or…?

After a brief discussion, Twiz and Ij take the Deeper’s small-boat (and a variety of weapons) for a closer look at their new surroundings while Hapler putters with the quaint craft’s gomaker: a complex assembly of pith and vegetative muscle, now damaged from the Deeper’s tumble.

Twiz and Ij soon discover that, wherever they are, at least they won’t starve. Fish are plentiful within the oasis lagoon, and fruit from its overhanging palm trees; but these are as unfamiliar to the explorers as the songs of afternoon insects. Ij is so taken by a clump of flowers that he doesn’t notice the beast until it leaps on him. A quick struggle, some deft spear-work by Twiz, and the sharp spindly thing lies dead.

Meanwhile, Hapler has troubleshot the damage and is heartened to see that it’s minimal. He is about to effect repairs when a banging on the hull draws his attention: Twiz, with the delirious form of Ij. The two lash their stricken companion into his hammock, then medicate him into sleep.

After a fitful dinner, Twiz and Hapler divide the night between them. Nothing happens during Twiz’ watch (beyond some intense apprehension and self-castigation); Hapler is just beginning to enjoy the strange insect-song when he notices a ring of eyes all around the Deeper. The eyes belong to slender grey-green figures — about a dozen of them — who swarm over the craft and subdue its astonished occupants.

Tune in next time (say, another 5,000 words) for the next thrilling chapter of Under Oasine!

[1] “My novel” (I love saying that; insert Peewee Herman giggle) is called “Under Oasine.” It’s set in an otherwise desert world, and everything I blog about it is tagged, well, http://metaphorager.net/tag/under-oasine/.

[2] Sorry, that’s all you get ’til the whole thing is done. (See http://metaphorager.net/under-oasine-synopsis1/, second paragraph.)

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Under Oasine: First Chapter Synopsis

2010.04.29
By

AS NOTED EARLIER, THIS BLOG will feature periodic updates on my new Work In Progress, Under Oasine: the adventures of Twiz, Ij, Hapler, and the author as they pursue a desperate quest to save their world.

(I want to bang out a first draft of the entire novel on the thousand-words-a-day plan before I polish (and post) the first two chapters, while (partly to motivate myself, and partly to come down off the inCREDible buzz one gets from making up and banging out a thousand words a day) posting occasional synopses.)

Thus: With 4,000 of an estimated 50-70,000 words in the bag, our heroes have reached the end of the first chapter, wherein we are briefly introduced to the world of Oasine and its inhabitants. The planet is one big desert from pole to pole, orbiting a big red star; life evolved late in its history, and only around scattered oases of various sizes. Some are connected by caravans, but in the oasis of Fint one man wants to prove they’re also connected by water.

Twiz Beelan and his best friend Ij have talked Hapler the podgrower into growing a mobile pod big enough for two, stocked with everything needed to withstand a two-day journey to the neighboring oasis — assuming that Twiz’s theory is more than just a crazy dream. The big day arrives, the Deeper is set for its maiden voyage, when disaster strikes! and the pod sinks into watery darkness!

Apparently stranded, the three work out a desperate plan. Soon they are heading surfaceward once more — but when they break water, Fint is nowhere to be seen.

Reaction: Novels are very, very different in process from short stories. My reporter training makes short stories a natural medium — clean, concise, pointed — but something as big as a novel? With multiple characters, viewpoints, subplots, etc.? It’s really hard, as all writing is hard, only more so.

But it’s also fun. I’m using the ol’ index-cards-for-every-chapter-character-and-setting method of organizing my notes and keeping track of new ideas. (Annie Lamott’s first draft advice from “Bird by Bird” is very helpful too.) This is also entirely different from the Prosatio Silban pieces in another way: this isn’t a world I’ve been working on since 1978 in my scrap time, but something which came to me idly drawing (now worries, no spoilers): “What if there’s a world called Oasine, populated only around its separate oases but linked by the water beneath them? And what happens if somebody goes under Oasine?”

And remember; Just because I’m writing it, doesn’t necessarily mean I know what’s going to happen next. I hope you enjoy finding out as much as I do.

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Introducing: Prosatio Silban

2010.02.24
By

THESE FABLES CONNECT A NEED to tell a particular story with a near-lifelong habit of worldbuilding. They are self-contained excerpts from a picaresque novel-in-progress titled Around the Rimless Sea: Mystic Fables for Religious Misfits, and though set as fantasies, the Prosatio Silban fables are intended for anyone seeking the Divine in a day job, so to speak. Because the “Land of Two Names” is a big world of spectacular landscapes and ancient ruins, teeming with vastly different and occasionally commingled cultures, religions, prophecies, species and cuisines, all created in my spare time since 1978 or so, those curious to explore it may benefit from the following helpful words. (Otherwise, please enjoy an appropriate anagram.)

= – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – =

Beyond the sunrise lies the Land of Exiles, where dreams come to die – or so say the coffeehouse wits of Soharis. But they are a professionally cynical lot, thus fervent in their presumptions.

Here, by the southern edge of the Rimless Sea, two abler-than-wise peoples anciently fought each other to land-cracking dust, leaving their now-primitive Xao descendants wandering the shattered plains and scorched forests with no greater legacy than a few artifacts, mutual blame, and the hope of future redemption.

This hope was handed across the generations through tales of Rimless Sea-borne saviors who would restore their Land of Exile to lush pristinery before conveniently withdrawing. Some Xao believed this, others pretended to, and those who did neither made plans of their own.

Thus, when the Children of Huua washed ashore in three great fleets filled with agricultural necessaries at the mouth of the Great Bloody River (as it was then known), the indigines greeted them with a mix of joy, surprise and consternation. The Huuans were fleeing their own self-made catastrophe and, according to the Flickering Gods and their High Sacreants, had finally reached the Land Beyond the Sunrise — and where to show themselves repentful and worthy of returning to their own homeland renewed.

Heedless of their role in the local mythology, the Huuans could comprehend neither the Xaos’ initial amazement nor eventual irritation as they proceeded to restore the land and build the Three Cities and Thousand Villages of the Huuan Commonwell. While the Xao grew more perplexed, the Commonwell ripened into that state of elegant decadence without which no civilzation can honestly be called interesting. Still, despite all that had happened or was expected in the Land of Two Names, some (Xao and Huuan alike) continued to believe in their ancestors’ prophecies; others pretended to; and those who did neither made plans of their own.

One did all three, often simultaneously and sometimes successfully. His name is Prosatio Silban – former Sacreant, mercenary cook, and subject of these fables.

Prosatio Silban in his galleywagon / Illo (c) 2008 Alana Dill, http://youbecomeart.com
Prosatio Silban in his galleywagon / Illo (c) 2008 Alana Dill, http://youbecomeart.com

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War Prints – A Prosatio Silban Saunter

2010.02.22
By

(THIS POST ONCE CONCLUDED A three-act Prosatio Silban story posted here out of self-motivation. (Never can write without a deadline, me.) The entire eight-page story is now available in .pdf format, so print it out, kick back and enjoy the existential hijinx as Prosatio Silban’s flat tire leads him uphill into perplexity. (Afterward, you may click on “Comments” above or email same to scoop at sonic dot net.)



War Prints – A Prosatio Silban Saunter

by

Neal Ross Attinson



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Awe and Inquiry

2009.11.04
By

He looked up. “What are you sketching?”

She held out a pad, on which was written:

AWE AND INQUIRY

God is good.

God is.

God.

.

He frowned. “What’s the point?”

She grinned. “Exactly.”

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For Franz Kafka

2009.09.10
By

The old woman sat, softly singing, on a blue wooden chair in the middle of the vast cobbled square, rippling a carpet of birds with each cast of her hand.

Tall jagged buildings loomed on all four sides around her — blocky and black-windowed, granite-yellow in the light of the dying sun, their shadows not quite lengthened to cover her frail red-shawled form. The air was cold and redd’d her cheeks as the birds fought for dried corn and cracker crumbs.

A tall man strode toward her — dark blue and broadshouldered, a cap visor shading all but a dour mouth.

“Leave.”

“Why?”

She rolled with the blow which sent her sprawling.

“Now.”

“No.”

Fluttering clucks roared the birds swept round and round him. He raised his arms, alarmed; they were wings and he dwindled, his voice a querulous chirp among hundreds.

She felt herself, sighed, and satisfied, arose. She shifted her shawl and sat, singing softly and scattering seeds.

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Hometown Haiku

2009.08.16
By

Sonoma Plaza.
Tree-shaded northwest corner.
…is that a fiddle?

Morris dancers leap
Today! Where a month ago
Two Jews laid tefillin!

Diff’rent traditions
Laughing under the same trees.
My town. Sonoma.

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