[Fiction] Friday: Conjunction

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #148

March 26th, 2010: “Shhh… did you hear that?”
XXXX

“Shhh, did you hear that?”

“It was my stomach.”

“What did you eat for dinner?”

“I didn’t eat anything?”

“How come?”

“Because I didn’t feel well.”

“We don’t have to do this tonight.”

“Yes we do. Tonight!”

“But, if you’re sick.”

“Shhh. I was nervous. Toby, why don’t you quit talking and give me a hand out the window… How long have you been waiting?”

“I don’t know. My watch doesn’t have a light. Hey, keep off the gravel. Come round this way. I hid my bike round here.”

“Do you sneak out often?”

“Not really. My parents let me go wherever I want, just as long as I’m home by eleven.”

“Sure – you’re a boy. I’m never allowed to go anywhere or do anything I really want to do. I’ve never done anything like this before. You must be a bad influence.”

“Perhaps – but you suggested it. Here sit up on the bar and I’ll double you down to the beach. Which way?”

“Down here, left and then right and we’ll be in the public car park. You don’t think there’ll be crocs or anything down there?”

“If we stay away from the estuary we should be right? What are you laughing at?”

“Just an old memory that’s all… A really… old… memory. Yeah – sorry. Don’t you ever get that – you get sucked back into a memory.”

“Most stuff I’d prefer to forget.”

“How come?”

“Because dwelling on the past gets you no where.”

“Do you think of Davina much?”

“No.”

“Does it bother you if I ask about her?”

“No. I told you, she dumped me and I’m over her.”

“Is that why you agreed to come look at the moon with me.”

“No, I came to see Mars.”

“You only knew about Mars because I told you about it.”

“Why did you ask me to come down to the beach with you if you’ve never snuck out and you think I still have a thing for Davina?”

“…I wanted to see it with you. See the moon represents the things which are hidden – consciously or unconsciously and Mars is all about action and momentum. It seemed like the perfect time to sneak out. Seeing Mars sitting right up there next to the moon is pretty amazing.”

“You’re pretty amazing.”

“No. Not really. Hey – stop. You’re going to go into the resort. The beach carpark’s there.”

“Sorry. It’s dark. You were meant to be giving directions. How far down the beach do you want to go?”

“We don’t have to go far. Will you hold my hand?”

“Let me just hide my bike. So that’s Mars.”

“Yep, kissing the moon. Masculine and the feminine side by side. It will be more than a year before it is there again.”

“How do you know all this stuff about the planets.”

“Astrology – I’ve been into it since high school.”

‘You’re at high school.”

“Yeah, um right.”

“Where did you learn astrology. The newspaper?”

“That’s crap what they print in the newspaper.”

“So?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“Is it like, confidential and you could tell me but then you’d have to shoot me?”

“More like if I told you, you’d never want to have anything to do with me ever again.”

“I don’t think anything you could tell me would make me want to do that.”

“…In my world you and I don’t ever talk.”

“Your world?”

“Yes my world. Here – this is your world. I’m not from here – well I was from here once, but I’m not from here now.”

“Are you moving away or something?”

“No – look, I came here by mistake. Well, I’m not sure if it’s a mistake or not.”

“You’re not making any sense.”

“In my world, next year, in 1990 I get off the bus round there near my house and you never see me again. I move back to Victoria and that’s it.”

“Hold on – you’re talking like the future is the past.”

“It is for me. You are my past, well you were until two weeks ago. We met up on Facebook.”

“Facebook – what the hell’s that… Kara look. You’re not making any sense.”

“Listen to me Toby, because this changes everything. Two weeks ago, in my world you we spoke for the first time, because I had such a crush on you at high school I could never bring myself to even sit next to you on the bus much less talk. When you broke up with Davina, you then started going out with her older sister. When you popped up in the Facebook chat box it was 20 years. You remembered the last time you saw me. You told me you’d always been keen on me. I felt like it was the biggest travesty because I carried was in love with your for years. We had lunch.”

“So you’re saying – you’re from the future? My future or your future? Hold on – you don’t look any different than you did three weeks ago? You can’t be a different you.”

“Toby I don’t understand it either. I don’t know if I time travelled, or I slipped between parallel worlds. I don’t know how I got here or where the other me is. All I know is, I woke up on the concrete at school and they told me I walked into a pole looking at you and I’d been unconcious. And suddenly I’m 15 again.”

“How old are you?”

“35 in December.”

“Whoa. This is crazy.”

“I understand if you don’t believe me. I just wanted to tell you – well, in case this gets serious.”

“In your world you and I never get together.”

“No. You go out with Davina’s big sister for years.”

“I’m not sure I can even understand half of what you’re saying. And I don’t even like Davina’s sister. Kara – all I know is, right here, right now, I want to be with you. And if you’re telling the truth – I definitely don’t want to wait twenty years.”

Advertisements

Friday Flash: Redemption in an Alleyway

The Hartog series of stories are set in a near futuristic world as a cross genre exploration of speculative fiction and detetive noir.  A list of episodes to date can be found at the bottom.

The taxi door shut followed by cheers and booing, drifting down into the canyon of the road from the apartment buildings.

Hartog was glad to be out of the taxi. The digital air freshener dispensing an invigorating spray of pine every three blocks combined with the plastic slip covers on the seats and foot wells left him feeling as though he were transiting in an artificially, fragranced body bag.

The taxi eased down the lay-in, waiting to re-enter the flow. A space appeared, the tracks moved to connect and the taxi merged into the slow lane joining others taxis moving across magnetic repulsion rails which crisscrossed the city.

Taxi was a hangover terms related to the concept of individual public transit. While the body shape was similar to the now defunct car, the taxi Hartog had just stepped from would never shoot down a side street looking for a short cut. All taxis were fixed into a locked transport grid. Here on an arterial there were three lanes of taxis, each lane moving faster and stopping less.

Big fares were not made in the slow lane and Hartog wondered how any driver piloting there could make a living.

Home was three block away and now Hartog wished he’d continued on rather than getting out to walk and clear his head. The night air was heavy and moist after the airconditioned overkill of the taxi. Sweat ran down the back of Hartog’s neck, pooling and soaking the collar of his shirt. Even the Stadium with its 70,000 bodies crammed sardine-style was cooler.

Hartog walked beneath the halos of the solar-powered streetlights, berating himself with the same line of thought.

Over- confident. The hard work of the set up undone.

But Benjamin recognised the InfoCap.

It didn’t matter – he’d lost the upper hand. Tomorrow Benjamin, on his home turf, would be calling the shots.

Victorious roars descended through the night air, and up and down the street like an audible Mexican wave.

Hartog looked at his watch –five minutes left of the derby – or maybe longer if they went into overtime. Did derby have overtime? He didn’t really care now. He’d only learnt what he thought was necessary and now he just wanted to sleep.

Sleep deprivation put you in the path of stupid mistakes and he wasn’t going to be the roadkill of bad decisions again. Sleep then he would be able to deal with Benjamin tomorrow.

Hartog crossed two streets and was almost home. He paused at the alleyway between his building and the next. It was habit now, so on the nights when he returned home unburdened he was reminded the city was still a dark and murderous beast, even where the ‘nice white people’ lived.

For the past few months the alleyway had been empty, since they hauled the hopper at the end away.  But tonight, like that night back in April, there was a body hunched halfway along blending with the shadows. Hartog went into the alleyway slowly, trying to be quiet.

“Joe?” he called. The shadow against the wall moved slightly. “Joe?”

When he got to the end of the alleyway he recognised the coat. Hartog pressed his head against the cool concrete blocks wondering what to say.

“What are you doing here?” he said finally.

“Sleepin’ – carn a man ge’ some quiet.”

“You know you can’t sleep here.”

“I slep’ here for months ‘fore you stuck your nose in my business.”

Joe’s words were slurred and the smell of cheap scotch rose pungently from him.

“C’mon, get up Joe.”

Hartog bent to grab the man who shrugged him off.

“Thought you going to give up the grog, getting a job. What happened to hostel room I organised for you.”

“Jus’ piss off.”

Hartog bent down and dragged the man to his feet.

“Jus’ leave me. I wanna die.”

“Not in my neighbourhood you don’t.”

Vagrants were tolerated in other districts of the city, but no one in the First slept rough. If you did, you weren’t on the streets long. Hartog knew Street Patrols who took delight in beating the homeless to death. It had been the hopper at the end of the alley which had saved Joe originally.

The two men wobbled in a drunken pas-de-deux until Hartog got a strong arm around the man. They took a few faltering steps together and the old man began to cry. His sparrow shoulders shaking violently as the sobs tore through him. Hartog propped him up against the wall.

“Pull yourself together. You can sleep on my couch tonight, but the doorman won’t let you in like this.

“I don’ care.”

“Yes you do.”

“No… I wen’ to see my daughter today.” The words came out in between each sob, sounding as though they were strangling him on the way out.

“That’s good Joe. This was what you were working towards. Putting your life back together. Everyone has bad times, and then you pick yourself up.”

“No,” he shook his head and the paper-thin hair falling into his eyes. “No’ wiff my daughter.” He started to cry again and the words blurred into one another. “She tol’ me ta bugger off. Tol’ me if anyone eva foun’ out her father wa’ homeless she’d neva have a chance fo’ pro-pro-motion. She’d be bl-bl-black li-li-listed.”

The man dissolved into long weazing sobs and Hartog waited while the emotional tempest raged.

“So your daughter hates you,” Hartog pulled Joe from the wall and gave him a shake. “Never let the poison of a someone who is meant to love you get under your skin.”

Joe tried to push Hartog away and fell to the ground. “Jus’ leave me Mis-tar Har-tog,” the words were once again broken apart by sobs. “Led’em fin’ me here. It can’ be any worse than this. I’d be beta of’ dead.”

Hartog hefted him to his feet again.”

“Not on my watch you don’t. C’mon. It’ll look better in the morning. It always does.”

Other installments in the Hartog Series:

Blood Derby Redux (Part 4)

Blood Derby (Part 3), 

Miss Amanda (Part 2)

In the Whorehouse (Part 1).

2010 Month in Review 1

Gratefully my business plan was rather specific and itemised what I wanted to achieve under some broad headings. Here we go for a look at what happened in the first month of the year and what I’m aiming for in the second.

Reading Goals

– Read three books a month (or a minimum of 900 pages)
– A short story a day for a month

Books read this month past:

  1. The Shining – Stephen King
  2. Stop Me – Richard Jay Parker
  3. From Dark Places (Anth) – Emma Newman
  4. One Book, Many Brisbanes (Anth) – various

I also got half way through HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Books to be read in the coming month:

  1. HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  2. Possession: a love story – A. S. Byatt
  3. Cat’s Eyes – Margaret Atwood

And a short story anthology (I haven’t decided yet)

The short story reading was going great guns until I hit the current anthology and have been struggling to face up to reading each morning. Resolution: get a new bloody anthology to read!

Blogging

  • I’m struggling with being as attentive as I need to be with my blog. I’m rarely hitting the pre-req of three blog posts a week – even with a weekly fiction piece and an old WA column. Unless I make blogging a priority it is not going to happen. The old WA columns I’ve posted so far have generated some interesting discussions – as I have new readers and new writing friends from a year ago.
  • 365 Day Photo Challenge is dragging and I’m wondering if it is time to take a break from something which is quite obviously not fitting into the mix. I keep being dragged down by the things “I’m meant to be doing an not” which is a mindset I’d prefer to do without.
  • Have approached a new editing friend who is setting up a blog about writing a guest post for her.

For the coming month:

  • Pre-post the old WA columns.
  • Give the Photo Challenge a break
  • Follow up Abigail about the guest post.
  • Put down some thoughts for a blog make over.

Writing

– A writing exercise every morning
– Fiction Friday/Friday flash twice a month
– Submit one story for publication a month.
  • I haven’t quite got into doing writing exercises in the morning yet. I have been struggling to get the balance between writing and editing correct. Again, like blogging, it is making writing the priority and not editing.
  • For the past two Tuesday I have been logging in and doing the writing races on the Australian Writers Marketplace – to give at least dedicate one portion of the week to writing (a bit like Friday evenings used to be.) The first week I wrote some Hartog and the following week returned to Second Chance.
  • Took Pearls of Wisdom to writers group, along with Summer Girl (more on that below) – Pearls got the thumbs up.
  • The much maligned 12.10 of my novella was written and now there is an empty space as I try and work out what needs to go in the final two episodes.
  • I have decided to dedicate the Hartog series to #FridayFlash and haven’t done any fiction Friday – though have had ideas floating around. Friday’s are now dedicated to doing stuff at Dylan’s school, so Thursday might need to be come the day of fiction writing.
  • Nothing submitted for publication this month – going to make up for it with two subs next month. I did do the required edits for the two stories which are due to be published – The Chameleon in Thieves and Scoundrels will be released on 31st March.

For the coming month:

  • Dedicate Tuesday night writing races to writing Hartog.
  • Thursday is a CW free day… reserved for writing – looking to hit four Fiction Friday inclusions.
  • Write and post 12.11 of Novella before the end of the lunar cycle
  • Submit Pearls of Wisdom to Australian Women Online.
  • Submit Graceville to Meanjin.
  • April 1 – new Flash Fiction Challenge from Absolute Xpress… ideas for a story.

Editing

– Edit two stories.
– Beta read – no more than 4
  • My entire life seems to be subsumed by editing at the moment – as Chinese Whisperings goes from strength to strength this year. In the past month there have been new stories from Em, Carrie, Paul S and Chris for CW – all of which I’ve had editorial input into. All the beta reading went into those stories. Ive also edited three stories for BOFF09 and have one left to do.
  • Wrote a WA column about structural editing which got lots of fabulous feedback and helped to solidify the process in my mind – after struggling a bit.
  • Editing hat took a bit of a battering when an edit I did on a piece wasn’t well received. Took a week to climb back onto the bike – but all is well now.
  • I spent an entire day trying to do a rewrite of took Summer Girl to take to writing group this month – I was glad that I at least took the day to work on it, but was tired and distracted, unable to get into the guts of the story and ended up jettisoning the edits I had didand taking the original. It need another complete rewrite.

For the coming month:

  • Do a complete rewrite/make over on Summer Girl (Marion suggests writing from scratch– which I think I have to agree with) for the next writers’ group in April.
  • Fix the ending of ‘Pearls of Wisdom.’
  • Edit and refine each Hartog installment before posting.

Professional Development

  • After fluffing around – I am finally registered at Australian Writers Marketplace Online and renewed my QWC.
  • Considering joining up for the Year of the Novel Online.. think it starts on the 1st April. If I’m going to get my novel written this year – I honestly believe this is going to be the only way to do it.

For the coming month:

  • Investigate YONonline

Movies

Watch a movie a week.

This month I watched:

  1. Orphan
  2. Mad Max
  3. Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief
  4. Fame
  5. C.R.A.Z.Y (French-Canadian)

This month coming:

  1. Remember Me
  2. Time Travellers Wife
  3. Alice in Wonderland
  4. The Rebound
  5. Date Night

Projects

  • Chinese Whisperings coming along wonderfully for 2010. It is much more work than last year and while it has been draining at times, I am loving working with all the writers involved.
  • eMergent Publishing has it’s first non-fiction ebook project to be completed early April for a 14th April launch.
  • More talk about Captain Juan & Reclaim Sex – but no action yet. They’re no high priorities so that’s fine.

The Great Adventure

This is my year of adventure – and last month did little to embrace this. My great adventure for this coming month is to take myself off to a life drawing class. I’ve wanted to do this for the longest time and I don’t see any point in putting it off longer.

Friday Flash: Blood Derby II

The Hartog series of stories are set in a near futuristic world as a cross genre exploration of speculative fiction and detetive noir. Blood Derby Redux follows on from Blood Derby (Part 3),  Miss Amanda (Part 2) and In the Whorehouse (Part 1).


Hartog turned to Benjamin who was quietly fuming at being man-handled by Mustard Fingers next to him. A small snort came out of Hartog’s nose, as he enjoyed his guest’s discomfort and his face twisted into a dysfunctional smile, one corner behaving as nature intended it and the other slack, as though the side of his face were affected by Bells Palsy.

Hartog could have chosen to have the nerve damage repaired quickly and easily, but he’d chosen not to. A quick fix society didn’t tolerate sickness or disfigurement. Only perfection would be tolerated. It meant guys like him could literally wash away the scars – on the outside. But Hartog liked to be reminded. And it made others, like Benjamin, uncomfortable.

Anything and everything could be repaired. The blood derby girls would be patched up like new after tonight’s bout, ready to skate next week. The trick was to keep the heart pumping. Sometimes the ref’s whistle ending the bout came too late and all the blood had drained away, the heart stuttering to a heroic end. Or the girls were caught out in the Danger Zone.

“Never been to the blood derby?”

Benjamin shook his head with a violent movement more emphatic than any words he could have mustered. His pale face stood out amid the red faced sea of fanatics surrounding him.

“I’m a hockey fan. This is barbaric.”

“Only if you go down in the first minute and your team mates can’t or don’t want to defend you before you make it to the Blood Zone.”

Hartog kept smiling and Benjamin looked away, unsettled by the asymmetrical smile.

“You know they can fix that,” Benjamin’s said, his eyes glancing down to the massive electronic bill boards encasing the inner fence of the rink, advertising the two major sponsors – leading biomechanical firms.

“I was going to say the same about our razorblade belles there.” Hartog’s face ached from the effort of smiling. “Just as long as you keep the heart pumping. I hear the fans show their loyalty in the number of pints of blood they donate each week.”

The injured Penetrator inched her way across the rink on her belly, one hand pressed hard against the gash in her thigh, blood leaking from between her fingers and the other fist clenched, as she used her forearm to brace and drag herself towards the inner sanctum of the rink. The Blood Zone – where she would be able to bleed free of the fear of further injury. If she could make it before the pack returned.

Hartog imagined Portia had employed the same manoeuvre, broken and cut up by her attacker, trying to escape. The finger tips on her right hand had been torn – down to the bone on one digit. Soft pink fingers scrambling to make purchase on the coarse grey concrete. Dragging herself away as she bled to a terrified death. Whoever had murdered her had meant it to be a painful and undignified end.

Benjamin shifted in his seat.

Hartog was certain Benjamin had the technology and the expertise to find out the exact manner of his sister’s death. Only select details had been gifted to the feedos… crumbs to the pigeons. Benjamin’s stared down at the rink and the wounded woman’s desperate attempt to remove herself from harm’s way.

“She’s haemorraghing.” There was an unmasked urgency in Benjamin’s voice that heartened Hartog – he could not have scripted the bout any better. And so early on in the bout too. With any luck they’d both be out of there before quarter time.

The Penetrator’s movements were slowing as the pack sped towards her, the blood slick behind her growing wider.

“Why don’t her team mates do something? Shit.”

Team mates, regardless of personality clashes and disparity in corporate sponsorships, kept each other safe in the finals series. The blood letting always happened in the opening rounds when scores were settled and sponsorships were still in flux.

Two Penetrators cut from the pack to run defensive sorties across their injured team mate’s path. There would be no sudden blood in the semi final.

“They just exposed themselves to an unwarranted attack to protect her,” Hartog said, feeling the fifteen minutes of study on the way there in the taxi a fruitful use of time. Benjamin’s eyes were fixed on the bleeding woman crossing into the blood zone. “You just don’t understand the intricacies BenJin.”

Hartog noted with satisfaction his guest flinched at the use of his name.

“It’s Benjamin. I’m not here in a professional capacity.”

“I thought this was the sort of thing you feral feedos got off on.”

Hartog put his hand into the inner sanctum of his trademark overcoat and wrapped his fingers around the InfoCap.

“That’s where you braindead coppers don’t understand the different between hype, sensationalism, voyeurism and integrity. Look at any of my news feeds and you’ll know I’m not interested in this -” waving his hands about at the rink “propaganda of the irrelevant. It’s just another fucking Coliseum.”

Without shifting his eyes from Benjamin’s Hartog lay his hand in the feedo’s crotch, so only the two of them would see, and allowed his fingers to open like a defiled lotus blossom.

“What the … Shit!” Benjamin’s voice softened. “I told her not to.”

Hartog’s fingers closed around the InfoCap.

“Will you agree to talk to me now.”

BenJin nodded getting himself to his feet.

“Meet me tomorrow at 11am at The Eucharist in the 3rd. Don’t be late. I won’t wait for you Hartog,” and Benjamin was off forcing his way through the baying crowd.

Image:  Blood Splatter by Mr Goh via Photobucket.

Friday Flash: Blood Derby

Blood Derby follows on from Miss Amanda (Part 2) and In the Whorehouse (Part 1). The Hartog series of stories are set in a near futuristic world as a cross genre exploration of speculative fiction and detetive noir.

“Zero one hour and fifteen minutes … and holding.”

The bass thundered and Melody MC’s “Dum Da Dum”, the retro 90’s dance mash-up began, pumping the crowd, who needed no additional priming. But it was tradition.

The semi final bout had drawn a capacity crowd of fanatics and another record bidding match for the broadcasting rights.

Blood Derby had become the official National sport earlier in the year after the ice was pulled on the Hockey League – the Elders citing environmental concerns. The water conservationist applauded it, as did the derby sponsors. The hockey managers said they couldn’t compete with short skirts, plunging cleavages. The cynics whispered private visits from the Derby girls to the Elders had sealed the deal. Hartog didn’t really care. After tonight he was unlikely to ever set foot in another derby arena.

Hacking into Miss Amanda’s client base hadn’t been easy, but it had been worth it. He was learning. Learning quickly, aided by pass codes he could only have ever dreamed of possessing. Portia Nader’s case was opening previously guarded doors. This was no ordinary flasher/slasher case torn straight from Vice and Device case files.

Coming across Richard’s name had been like mana falling from digital heaven. A quick call had relieved Richard of his two season derby tickets, bought Hartog the perfect meet-up venue and gave him ammunition to throw at Lucinda should she ever crow Richard’s virtues in his presence. A promise to a man like Richard was a flexible notion and he knew he never intended to actually stay mum about Richard’s extra curricular love life. It was amazing what you could learn from an itemised bill. Not that he was planning on seeing Lucinda any time soon. She’d made that abundantly clear.

Hartog slipped his hand into an oversized foam hand he’d bought from a stadium vender. The middle finger was upstanding in a singularly unpatriotic pose. He laid it across his lap and tried not to image it was a huge penis resting in his lap, reminding himself he was determined to look the part, without going all out on an overpriced t-shirt and hat.

Hartog’s visitor sat ramrod straight next to him, even as he was sideswiped by the huge arse of an overweight man, trying to return to his too small moulded seat, mustard oozing over his hand from his second hotdog in ten minutes. Not that Hartog was counting.

The ref’s amplified whistle shot outward from the centre of the rink like a line of gun powder, racing towards the keg. A cheer exploded from all sides of the stadium as the two Jammers, skating ten feet behind the main pack accelerated forward to make their first jam.

The Scarlet Penetrator’s jammer in her diamante encrusted red tutu and black leather bustier nudged ahead with two huge strides. A naughty peek of ruffled black lace knickers showed, as she bent down. Her fishnet clad legs criss-crossed as she cut directly across the path of her rival, tacking for the outer most edge of the pack. Hartog caught a split second flash of the blades on the hubs of her wheels.

His guest remained unnaturally still, obvious, in the seething maelstrom of Penetrators supporters, hands folded in his lap, knuckles white in the roaming strobe lights.

The Betty Buster’s ‘blockers’ at the centre of the pack, kitted in skimpy lycra nurses dresses barely containing their iconic large breasts, drove at opposing points in the centre of the pack, forcing open a rush space. The Buster’s ‘jammer’ hurtled through but was caught at the last moment as the Penetrator’s ‘pivot’ threw herself against The Buster’s ‘block’, forcing both of them into the ‘jammer’s’ path.

The ‘pivot’ and ‘block’ won the battle to stay upright. The ‘jammer’ fell as the pack sped past.

First blood!

It splattered the white uniform and flowed out onto the pristine, polished floor. The howl of protest from The Busters camp on the opposite end of the stadium was reflected and amplified on their side by cheers.

“This should be interesting,” Hartog said, leaning into his companion’s ear to ensure he was heard.

The injured ‘jammer’ clambered to her feet and after a few wobbling strides, gained her equilibrium and rhythm. The blood flowing down her leg pooled at the top of her boot and then down the sides, leaving red tracks as she sped towards the pack. The blood slick made the coming lap more dangerous.

“The lame duck flies again.”

Hartog got to his feet and rooted with his arms in faux animation, taking the piss more than finding solidarity among the Penetrator’s fans. He thrust the ostentatious foam finger in the air just for the hell of it. Christ, he wished, somehow, that his boss was watching. He shoved the rubber digit in the air one more time, because he could hope and then sat down.

On the opposite side of the rink a Penetrator was down and from the huge real time screen above the score board it was obvious she wouldn’t get up. The tide of blood beneath her was spreading quickly.

The fans were on their feet screaming out in protest and outrage, then in encouragement. Her injuries had the potential to be fatal. The seat beside Hartog was suddenly empty.

“Time out. Time out. You can call that?” He looked hopefully down to Hartog who shrugged his shoulders. “Surely you can call time out. TIME OUT.”

“Shut up, dickhead,” the guy with the mustard stained hands yelled, grabbing at Hartog’s companion and shoving him back down in his chair. “Our girls ain’t pussies.”

There had been two reasons to insist his guest meet him at the Blood Derby. Firstly Hartog had heard, this man had a penchant for girls iwith long legs, short skirts and big boobs. A bit like Richard. There was plenty of those here tonight. Secondly, Hartog was counting on the sight and smell of the blood to loosen Benjamin Nader’s tongue.

Thanks to the Brisbane roller derby bad girls, Sheryn and Gabrielle ,who first introduced me to roller derby via their Facebook Statuses. Looking forward to seeing you girls in the flesh at the Convention Centre!

Image from Crude City Roller Derby located in South Texas.

Interior Monologue: Missing

On Monday for my Write Anything column, I wrote about interior monologues in literature and put out the challenge to readers, to sit for 10 minutes and write one. Here is my effort, with just a little editing.

… I shouldn’t be here. I’ll put my hazard lights on. It will look like I’m lost, or having engine trouble. Or I’ve taken a phone call and I’m doing the right thing. Pulling over to the side of the road. See – doing the right thing… the right thing. Here and doing the right thing.

The flooring shop is now an office of some sort and the café down the road – gone. When I worked at the bakery they used to order their hot dog and hamburger buns from us. That was the year after I first came here.  Or was it two? Certainly not three.

The houses across the road are different. I look once and then twice. Looking for the white and green one.

I’m walking down your street again. Past your door…

… a green front door and squeaky wire one. All cream and burgundy now. Tittle-tattle wire door gone.

But you don’t live there any more. It is years since you lived there…

… no one lives there. It is a business now.

There’s the wire gate. It hasn’t changed. That’s the gate I went through in the pouring rain. We were yelling. I was crying and saying I wasn’t coming back again. He didn’t yell back. He didn’t beg me to stay. He stood there. Stood there at the gate in the pouring rain and watched me leave. Was he crying like me? Rain covers your tracks. I always meant to ask him if he cried that night.

Now you’ve disappeared somewhere … you found some better place. And I miss you… like the deserts miss the rain.

It is the song which reminds me of him. No wonder I’m sitting here singing it in my head. Can’t think now who sings it. It was on the charts when we were together. It is like that song spoke to some deeper part of me and stayed like an echo – echo-echo-echo… a song trying to reach the sensible bit of me which knew nothing good would ever come of him and me.

Guys who have girlfriends… they are bad news. You don’t love someone who is already tangled with someone else. The tangle becomes an ugly mess. And you pretend it will all be OK when it can never be OK.

Oh, we were so good at pretending. Pretending we were just friends. Pretending we could be together and not feel guilty for it. Pretending not to be there… the squash of the space between the bottom of his mattress and the carpet. Hiding. Always hiding. Lying.

Listening to voices. Waiting. The wire door screaming – pointing its finger at me. Fleeing to my car in the dead of night parked just up there… up the street outside someone else’s house.

Where is he now? Does he ever think of me? Does he even live in this town still? Does he drive his car past my old house? Sit out the front like this. Hazard lights flashing… warning, warning. Heed the warning. Drive on.

Authors Note: There wil be another one coming at some stage this week – which bounces straight from Dorothy Parker’s interior monologue/short story “One on the Right”.

Image via Travel Pod

Monster Hall of Fame

“Your historical monsters are the building blocks of your core negative beliefs … It is necessary to acknowledge creative injuries and grieve them.  Otherwise they become creative scar tissue and block your growth.”

Julia Cameron – The Artist’s Way

mind

Stephen King and Julia Cameron both speak, in their own ways, of creative monsters and the havoc they bring to the creative life.  Creative Monsters are the people we let into our lives who shame us about our writing or who seed self doubt that renders us creatively impotent.  If we have more monsters than creative champions in our life, it can be hard to keep writing.

King writes: “I have spent a good many years … too many, I think – being ashamed about what I write.  I kept hearing Miss Hisler asking why I wanted to waste my talent, why I wanted to waste my time, why I wanted to write junk …. I think I was forty before I realised that almost every writer of fiction and poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent.”

By age forty King had sold millions of books, best sellers such as It, Pet Sematary and The Stand. It would be incomprehensible to believe that such a popular and successful author had been so susceptible to doubt and shame, if we hadn’t experienced the exact same thing ourselves.

We all have them, a monster or perhaps a whole crew who hang out in the recesses of our memories, on the periphery of our creativity, making us ashamed and doubtful of our talent.

How dare you write that?

You really  think that’s good?

Writer – pft.  Who are you kidding?

I’ve realised the idiom sticks and stones may break my bones ‘cos names will never harm me is a load of bollocks.  Words do hurt and especially for writers (whose creative ‘mud’ is words) they leave an indelible print on our creative psyches. Like Cameron writes, they are injuries and they do need to be healed if we want to reach our potential, or even just begin to explore it. Creative Monsters are  mud slingers and it’s time to take ourselves down to the creative river and wash away the dirt.  I know I love the feeling of cold, crisp water coursing over my body and how you can’t help but feel refreshed afterwards – body and soul!

But how do you do it?  How do you find your way down to the river?

The answer is simple. You need to start by ousting your monsters. To listen to what they have said and to understand how you’ve taken their nasty words and made them part of your creative reality.

I have had a number of creative monsters in my life, but the most influential of them was a Writer in Residence I consulted during my first year at uni.  I was 18, passionate about writing and excited at the prospect that the In-Residence program offered … to grow myself as a writer. We were asked to bring along a piece of our work to the first session, and I took along a story called And Juliet Met Romeo in Hell.  He looked over my work, and then point blank told me that I needed to go out and live in the real world.  I was naïve and people didn’t really act like that out there. And that was it.  I was mortified and shattered. I wonder now if that guy ever watched Underbelly?

I don’t deny that I was naïve – I’d spent almost all of my education in a Catholic high school and I hadn’t been adventurous as a teenager. But I read through his words and heard that I was an imbecile, and that I had had the audacity to write. What’s more, his words were instant creative castration for my vulnerable muse.

From that moment onwards, my passion for writing waxed and waned.  I created projects that could never be completed, boxes and boxes of first chapters that I would never show anyone.  I felt a fraud – I was waiting tables and working crap jobs because the only career I had ever wanted was writing, but I couldn’t turn up to the page.  I focused so long and hard on ‘going out and living in the real world’ that I never made time for writing.  Part of me could never make it a priority in my life.

What I still shudder at was that I was so willing to take his words on board.  Thankfully now I understand how to deconstruct criticism and to know the difference between the constructive criticism of your work and a cheap personal shot. (I encourage all writers to find time to understand how to deconstruct criticism.)

Excavating my creative shame and doubts over the past two years has allowed me oust guys like that Writer In-Residence and to begin to heal the injuries they caused, wash away the mud and the blockages to my will and confidence to write. As a consequence I have become alive and brilliant as a writer for the first time in over a decade.  I’ve let go of the notions that I’m not smart enough, nor worldly enough to write.  I have the audacity to write badly, and feel OK about it.  I have the confidence to try new things.  And I’ve reclaimed the thrill; the pure, unadulterated love of the process of writing.

Who are your creative monsters – today is your opportunity to expose them?  What was the shaming charge levelled at you? What self doubts did they seed? How has it fashioned the way in which you perceive yourself as a writer and your ability create?

Original Artwork “Mind” by Danae Sinclair

This was originally posted at Write Anything on Monday 16th February 2009.