Archive for August 1st, 2011

Fortnightcap Bonus: The Rock

The Rock

A Fortnightcap by DL Thurston

Creative Commons License

I was reminded recently of the geology class I took as a kid.  It wasn’t anything more than a program to give bored kids something to do during the summer, and I can’t remember how old I was except that it was at a time when the word “schist” was extremely funny.  We got to collect rocks, we were given others, and the activities included things like gluing rocks to bits of index card and labeling them with their type.

The highlight was going to involve a wet saw and a bucket of rocks each a little larger than a shooter marble.  It was geode cutting day.  Each kid got to pull rocks at random out of the pail and the teacher would saw them in half until there was a geode.  It was exciting.  Normal rock shops, even the ones that have cut your own geodes, tend to just give you one chance to get lucky.

I can remember the whine of the saw.  It was damn loud.  Then again, most childhood sense memories get amplified don’t they?  It would roar to life, then whine through each of the rocks in turn before spinning down just to start the whole cycle again with the next rock.  Each time it was the same.  Except for the one time it wasn’t.

I can remember that sound, too.  It was like the scream of the saw going through the rock, but there was something else.  Something more.  I don’t think the teacher heard it when it happened, he had ear protection on, but we did.  The teacher picked up one of the halves of the rock, and we could see it was hollow inside.  But it wasn’t a geode, they tended to have intricate crystals pointing inwards from all directions.

And it wasn’t empty.

The thing in the rock was green.  I don’t know if that was its true color, or if that was the result of the blade slicing through it.  I just remember an intense green, and some sort of fluid dripping from the cavity.  We’d learned the smell during the class.  It was sulfur.  A few of the kids screamed, others rushed forward the way kids will do when they see something gross.  I wasn’t part of that crowd.  I hung back, not getting a good view until the tight ring of kids pushing in to see scrambled backwards.

The thing was moving.  It was alive, for however much longer.  It wasn’t more than a half an inch long, and pulled itself forward with two limbs just above where the saw had cut it through.  It had eyes.  I can’t remember much more of the details, but I remember the eyes.  It looked at each of us, and as the eyes fell on me I heard a voice, soft and dying, in my head.  The word is one I don’t know, I never knew.  Then it collapsed, and died.

It’s odd that I have difficulty now remembering this.  It’s all so clear, but even as early as my mom picking me up I just showed her the geode I had, and happily went home.  I remember mostly in dreams, or in that odd floating period just before falling asleep.  I remember its eyes.  And I remember the word it spoke.  I know it’s important somehow.  I just wish I could hold onto the memory.  Hold onto the word.

If only I knew why it was so important.

Fortnightcaps are biweekly experimentation into short form fiction. All Fortnightcaps are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. So if you like the story, please feel free to link people back here. And if you didn’t, maybe the one in two weeks will be better.

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State of the Writer: August 2011

July was a month of submission, waiting, and maintenance.  It wasn’t nearly as productive as June, but that’s to be expected.  June was about setting myself up in a position where I could have five submissions out, and July was the month they were out.  So far those submissions have resulted in a short listing, a rejection, and three I’m still waiting to hear back on.  The short list thrilled me, I thought it was probably the strongest of the five submissions, and the rejection didn’t surprise me, as it was the weakest.  I’m wrapping up a huge reedit of that story, and looking for another good market for it.

July also saw me put a few new projects together.  My wife and I are in the initial stages of noodling out what we’re hoping will end up as a trilogy of steampunk novels based in 1870s America.  In fact, my last writerly activity for the month of July, completed around 10:30 last night, was assembling an alternate map of the American south to use as the main setting for the first novel.  There’s a big unfamiliar state sitting in the middle of the south that I’m going to have to get used to staring at.  Step one is to stop thinking of the capital city as Huntsville, Alabama.

But that’s a future novel project.  July also ended with me getting slowly back into the right frame of mind for Capsule.  My optimistic goal is to finish the first draft of it in August.  My realistic goal is September.  Either way, it’s a story I’ve been talking about returning to almost since the day I stepped away from it, and with several short stories making the rounds, this feels like the right time to finally do so.  And I’m excited.  I remember the last scene, know the next scene, and have a clear path through to the end of Act Two in what should be a nice three act structure.

State of the Writer’s Beer:  Mustache Cat gets better and better with every bottle, but there’s a clear upper limit.  It’s crisp, a little more bitter than I’d like, but certainly drinkable with a nice strawberry finish.  And that’s really about as good as I expect it to get.  We have started sharing, so we’re about halfway through drinking the batch.  Tonight the first bottles of Lazarus Ale go into the fridge, so we’ll be drinking lemongrass ginger ale next weekend.  I’ll not be started a new batch until a significant amount of the current beer is gone.  Good target will be having enough empties to bottle the next batch without buying more.

State of the Writer’s Blog:  July saw this site have it’s biggest day, week, and month since relaunching.  I don’t normally talk about actually numbers, but I’ll pull back the curtain and show how low they are.  The big day was the 28th with 22 visits, the first time the blog has topped 20 visits in a single day.  That lead to the week of the 24-30 seeing 73 hits.  Month total just passed 200 for the first time.  Yeah, there are blogs out there where my monthly totals would be a lightly traveled day, but things are growing around here, which excites me.

My quest to collect visits from all 50 states has now reached 40, with first time visits from Wyoming, Nebraska, and Maine during the month of July.  That just leaves Alaska, Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, Louisiana, Vermont, Rhode Island and Delaware to go.

Coming this week:  Speaking of best month ever, I made a promise in Twitter that I’d do a bonus Fortnightcap today if the site hit record monthly views.  I don’t think anyone actually saw that promise, but I’ll still follow through.  Also, look out tomorrow for the first details of the #flashathon that I will be hosting in conjunction with Unleaded Fuel for Writers in October.  Well, the first details other than “cohosted with Unleaded” and “October” that is.  It’s an event that I’m excited about.

Edit of the Writer:  Seems every time I do a State of the Writer, I end up doing an edit to it.  Just got in my email the cover for Steam Works.  Still needs all the text on it, so I’m probably not supposed to share it yet.  But there is a cover.  And the anthology is still happening.

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