Monday, April 30, 2012

Neither Snow Nor Rain

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As promised, dinosaurs. This story is basically dumb, but damnit it, I like it.

Neither Snow Nor Rain…
By Mark L. S. Stone

The land before him dropped away rapidly, spreading into an overgrown plain. Jack sighed, thinking about the miles he had yet to go.

Blossom nuzzled Jack’s shoulder, bright feathers tickling his ear. Jack laughed and scratched the huge lizard behind her tympanic membranes. Looking past her head, Jack saw the satchel still clipped to her saddle, and what was embroidered on it:

"Jack McKinley, Colonial Utahraptor Express"

Jack sighed, laid a kiss on Blossom’s nose, and moved to mount up.

“Come on, Blossom,” Jack said. “Let’s deliver the damned mail.”

Hike

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The Abigail and I went for a hike yesterday and got lost. This didn't happen, but there was a point where it wouldn't have surprised me. Not at all.

I almost went with dinosaurs, but at the last second, I changed my mind.

Hike
By Mark L. S. Stone

“I think we’re lost,” Anne said.

Matt didn’t even look up from his map. “No, that’s ridiculous. See here? We’re at the juncture of Old Railroad Trail and India Grade Road. If we continue along this path we’ll get to North Peak Trail, and from there we can-”

Anne threw herself off the path, grabbing Matt about the shoulders and dragging him down with her into the underbrush. They both watched in amazement as five horses shot down the narrow trail. The riders were tall and elegant, archaically dressed, with flowing hair and pointed ears.

“Ok,” Matt admitted. “We’re lost.”

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Freaking Sundays

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This Sunday has gradually become an incredibly full day.

There may or may not be a story today.

There will be two tomorrow to compensate, if there is not one today.

That is all.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

What Counts?

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It's a conversation it's important to have in every relationship.

What Counts?
By Mark L. S. Stone

“Does it count if I’m drunk?” he asked.

“Of course it counts!” she replied, laughing. Then, she continued. “What if you’re in another state?”

He frowned. “Still counts.”

“Another country?"

“Maybe… only if it’s for a long time.”

“What’s a long time?”

He thought about it. “Six months.”

“What if he’s my fate-ordained foe, and we’re doomed to battle each other again and again in a thousand lifetimes, but we’ve got this weird hate-sex thing going on so that sometimes we screw before one of us dies?”

He blinked.

“Well?”

“Yes, that counts as cheating!”

She chewed her lip. “Damn.”

Friday, April 27, 2012

Light a Candle?

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Remember a while back when I mentioned Matt McFarland, my editor during my two freelance gigs with White Wolf, was designing his own roleplaying game Curse the Darkness? He even started a blog about it, though he doesn't use it often.

What he is using, though, is Kickstarter (linky linky). Drop on by, check out his ideas, and see what you think of them. If you like them, drop him a pledge. For $5 you get your name in the book. For $15 you get a pdf of the game when it's done, and for $25 you get that and a physical copy. If you want to go all crazy-like, you can even pledge $800 and Matt will run a game for you and your friends and cook you dinner (assuming you're within driving distance of Cleveland). I can and will personally vouch for both Matt's game-running and his dinner-cooking skills.

Anyways, this signal boost is concluded, and stands in place of today's story. Stories will begin again tomorrow. Until then, remember.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bad News IV

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There. The mammal is alive again.

I hope the other mammal - the girl one - stops crying and yelling and jumping up and down. She's keeping the mammal from feeding me already, and I'm hungry!

Whatever. It's night-time, anyway. All smart creatures should be asleep. I'm sure the mammal will feed me tomorrow. He's a good mammal.

Goodnight, everyone. The mammal will probably notice that I stole his computer, soon, and take it away. I hope you liked my posts. Maybe if these posts are popular, the mammal will give me a computer so I can start a blog of my own.

Bad News III

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Where did I bury it again? Under the branch? In the front, next to my hide?

Ah, there it is. I wonder if it still works.

Only one way to find out.

Bad News II

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This is unacceptable. The salad is dry. There are no worms, or even crickets. I'm thirsty and there's no one to spray me with water.

Oh, that's right. The mammal is dead.

I'll have to do something about this.

Bad News

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This is Jabberwock. I was the mammal's lizard. I write 'was' because I have bad news: the mammal has died. I am not surprised. Being a mammal seems to have caught on lately, but it's very stupid. Being a lizard is much better.

It is sad. The mammal gave me crickets and worms and salad and made sure my tank was always warm.

Speaking of which, I am hungry. I'll go and find something to eat.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Death

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Vegetable broth is my new best friend.

I have a terrible disease. There will be no stories today, and possibly none tomorrow, either. If I die, there will be no stories for ever. The Abigail will let you know if that happens.

I love you all.

It is unlikely that I will die. I will simply drown my troubles in broth until my invaders are conquered.

Old Man Barnsworth

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Old Man Barnsworth
By Mark L.S. Stone

The flashlight revealed Old Man Barnsworth’s true nature: rotting flesh, moldering bathrobe, empty eye sockets. He roared. The scream trailed off into a wet, hacking cough.

“You’re not a zombie,” Sally said.

“I know how this goes,” he muttered, not really listening. “You’ll tell everyone, and soon they’ll be here with pitchforks and torches, and I’ll have to find another place.”

“I saw the books. Zombies don’t read. You’re something else.”

“Yes! I’m a powerful wizard. Leave now or I’ll turn you into a toad!”

Sally switched off the flashlight. She sat on the floor.

“Teach me,” she said.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

An Ill Wind from Rahmares

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Another 200 word story for you today, this one set in the world of A Blessed Lineage, a story yet to find a publisher. In many ways, this story is a follow-up. Who will Cerugon be to the physician Helokar and his apprentice, the mageborn Acar? I don't know, yet.

But if I figure it out, you'll be the first to know.

An Ill Wind From Rahmares
By Mark L.S. Stone

“An ill wind blows from Rahmares,” the bird said. “Dark magic.”

Cerugon did his best to ignore it. He had fields to plow.

Something scratched at the window in the night. Cerugon rose from his bed and opened the window so that the noise wouldn’t wake his wife.

“They are killing men in Rahmares,” the small grey fox said.

“What do you care?” Cerugon replied in a harsh whisper.

“You’re Cerugon, aren’t you?”

“I’m not that man anymore.”

The black-helmeted soldiers from the capital claimed men and boys as a tribute for the new queen in Rahmares. They said it was a work levy, but Cerugon knew otherwise. Cerugon made his house invisible and kept his sons hidden inside. His magic ached like a muscle that had been cramped for so long that it became numb – a good hurt.

The next day, Cerugon dug in the herb garden until he found the crystal sphere he had buried there years ago. The orb hummed joyfully in his hand.

“Thanks for watching this for me,” Cerugon said.

“You’re welcome,” replied the oak tree that stood at the edge of the garden.

Cerugon shouldered his pack and started down the road to Rahmares.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Earthblood

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This is not a drabble. This is a 200 word story. It's my blog and I can do whatever I want.


This story is inspired by the recent reports of the horribly mutated fish and crustaceans that are still being found as a result of the BP oil spill of 2010. I won't try to find a link to articles about those poor creatures, because then I might see pictures, and... well, the Abigail has been bugging me to get more sleep. You can google it if you're interested. And masochistic.


This story is also not a part of a world I've already worked in. Though, now I kind of want to.


Incidentally, I think that I like 200 words a lot more than 100. I know that part of the point of drabbles is to help me develop my literary discipline. However, I feel that it's practically impossible to really express anything in 100 words. There are some exceptions, but I feel that most drabbles are almost identical. With only 100 words to work with, stories develop a certain rhythm that is hard to break out of, and the author's own voice becomes indistinct. I want to work on my discipline, but I'd like to find a sweet spot where I can work on both my discipline and my voice.


The long and the short of it is that you'll probably see 200 word stories on a fairly regular basis.

Earthblood
By Mark L.S. Stone

First Captain Illyanor of the Kaiserin’s Guard, retired, had made the Earthblood the object of study for nearly a decade. We heard reports of the lesions that emerged on skin habitually exposed to the Earthblood. A farmer whose lands had been blighted by tainted runoff spoke. We saw the pickled remains of the pitiful, eyeless, twisted creatures born in places effected by the Earthblood.

“How is this possible?” Lady Trentine demanded.

“The Earthblood is still a mystery,” Illyanor replied. “But my theurgists believe that it may be rendered, by natural processes, from the remains of ancient life.”

A gasp ran through the room. Power rendered from death. Necromancy. It had been illegal in the Republic for centuries.

“Does the Northern Coalition know?” another asked.

“Of course they know!” Illyanor snapped. “All of this has been either willfully ignored by or intentionally hidden by the Northern Coalition and Earthblood Discovery Company. That is not the question!”

Illyanor caught my eye and nodded almost imperceptibly. I stood smoothly, letting my hooded cloak fall to the floor. All who looked at me recognized Gallus Franz, the Kaiserin’s only son.

“The question is,” I declared, “what are we going to do about it?”

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Hungry Earth

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And this one is from my novel, Knights of the Land.

The Hungry Earth
By Mark L.S. Stone

“The land is the source of all our power,” Sir Vindaril had said.

Shey drifted deeper into her trance. Her soul drifted into the land. The love and power surrounded her, permeated her, consumed her.

The blow sent Shey careening back into her body She looked up at Sir Vindaril, her bruised cheek hurting almost as much as the sudden separation.

“Do not go so deep,” Sir Vindaril barked.

“But-”

“No. The land is wounded. Until it is mended, it will consume you to assuage its pain. Never forget that your own power will kill you, if you let it.”

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Eye of Illusion

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This one is part of an experiment I'd like to try: can I write drabbles set in the worlds of stories I've written - or want to write - and have them still make sense? Can I express the relevant parts of an entire setting in a hundred words?

You be the judge.

Anyway, I haven't actually written this story, yet, but someday I'd like to.

The Eye of Illusion
By Mark L.S. Stone

“Do you embrace the sacred sun and her light, and forswear the treacherous moon and his lies?” The witch-hunter asked. One hand held the girl’s wrist, the other the knife. 

“I do.”

The knife drew blood from the center of her palm.

“They’re all the same,” Solis mused.

Solis’s fellow warder shrugged. “They’re used to this.”

“Listen – they’re saying it in almost the same voice.”

A rock extended a left hand towards Solis. The eye in the center of the palm winked. Before Solis could speak, the town disappeared, leaving nothing but a laugh echoing in the empty valley.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Souls Will Seek Their Own Level

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This one is vaguely inspired by the latest Radiolab.

Souls Will Seek Their Own Level
By Mark L.S. Stone

“Don’t you think it’s ironic that you must bargain with me, even though it will empower me to hunt your kind?”

The demon’s expression remained mild. “It is my nature to accept your offer. As water runs downhill, souls will seek their own level.”

“So you see no irony?”

“You are the one who fails to understand this situation. The nature of a thing will out. You cannot fight darkness with darkness. Darkness can only be defeated with light, strength with weakness, pride with humility. It is a lesson that you will never learn.”

Unfortunately, he was only half right.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The End

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This is an idea that's been kicking around in my head for a long time. I've always had a thing for stories that explore the relationship between heroes and villains, and the way that they create, empower, and need each other. It's kind of fun to get to finally express it, even in such a small form. It's also fun to finally write a short story that's an ending, not a beginning, as most of my stories turn out to be.

Though I guess this one is kind of a beginning, too. Damn.

The End
By Mark L.S. Stone

Enhijar sat his throne of basalt and bone, smiling. The tortured sky boiled with black lightning.

“No,” I said, shaking my head.

“No?” Enhijar gaped at me.

I dropped my weapon to the broken earth. My companions followed my lead.

“What are you doing?”

“We’re leaving, Enhijar. All this – this is yours.”

“Where will you go?” Enhijar asked. His voice was almost pitiful.

I turned to leave. “We’ll find somewhere else. You threw open all the doors. Or we’ll die in the waste. Enjoy your victory.”

None of us turned to watch Enhijar and his throne disappear into the distance.

Monday, April 16, 2012

To

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I'm really not happy with this one at all. But, bed beckons. It's a story. It's a hundred words. It's quite possible that it's much better than I think it is. Goodnight.

To
By Mark L.S. Stone

From: drjacobs@sccal.science.edu
To: anne.djarmendi@sccal.science.edu

Anne, 

I know you’re upset, but I can’t believe that you would be this irresponsible. Have no idea of the consequences of this technology. If it works – if it doesn’t just fizzle, or blow out the power grid – it could have entirely unforeseen side effects. When the time wave reaches us – if the time wave reaches us – the changes will be swift and unpredictable. 

Of course, sir, I am happy to support you in any way necessary. And in reference to our earlier conversation, I would be honored to attend your son’s Bris.

Sincerely,
Tom Fuller

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Potion

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Sorry about yesterday! I'll have to make it up to you some time this week.

Potion
By Mark L. S. Stone

Krell pulled the vial out of the holster on his belt with his shield hand and wrenched the cork out with his teeth. He tilted back his head and let the stuff inside slide down his throat, shivering at the itchy sensation of his wounds closing.

Townsfolk liked to talk about healing potions: they’re addictive, all the injuries eventually come back all at once, they’re made of something terrible. The only concern Krell had was that one day, he’d come to like the taste.

Krell grimaced, grinned, and charged back into the fight. Today was not that day.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fad Diet

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Why, yes, I am starting a new diet on Monday. Wish me luck.

Fad Diet
By Mark L. S. Stone

Simon was starting a new diet on Monday. The refrigerator had gradually been filling up with strange new foods: pickled meats in cloudy brine, thick-skinned fruit covered with long tentacles, pungent spices.

“What’s this one?” Valerie asked. “It’s a stone jar.”

“Screw top or cork?”

Valerie frowned. “It’s sealed with wax, I think.” Valerie worked at the seal with one finger. Instead of a smell, a gust of wind blew Valerie’s hair back from her face.

Suddenly Simon was there, taking the jar from her hand and smoothing the wax back into place.

“That’s for the fifth week,” he said.

Sleepless

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I know the actual poem is all about God and death and stuff. The Unitarian Universalist church that my family used to go to - the one that took us in after our synagogue kicked us out (long story) - used to read it on Christmas. However, something about the closing lines always struck me as a little sad, and a little sinister. Perhaps Robert Frost meant to say something about life, death, and the soul, but what I always imagined was something a little more like this:

Sleepless
By Mark L. S. Stone

I didn't think that the bloodstains would do any harm the motel’s hideous goldenrod bedspread, so I just sat down. I didn’t have the energy to change any of my bandages, but it was good to just sit. 

"How long has it been?" my reflection in the dark TV screen asked. “That nap in the semi doesn’t count and neither does that half hour sacked out in the MUNI station.” 

I shrugged. “Who cares? I have promises to keep.” 

My reflection in the TV laughed. “And miles to go before you sleep.” 

Then, I heard the sound of gunfire.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Balls

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This? This is balls.

Seriously, it's been almost twenty days since I posted, and almost a year since the last time I wrote anything worth a damn. This is balls. Solid. Goat. Balls. Am I a writer or a wannabe, here?

Hint: the answer is that I'm a writer. I refuse to "wanna" anything.

Anyway, it's time to jump start this shit. Winter is over; this is spring. I have a personal trainer, a professional organizer, and two kinds of therapist. It's time to get things started, kick ass, and take names.

Starting tomorrow, this blog is a thing-a-day blog a la my friend Nathan's Mirrorshards. For the next year, or longer, I'm going to write something - a drabble at the least - every single day and post it. It may not be great, but it will be here. And you will read it.

And it will not be balls.

That is all, ladies and gentlemen. Watch this space for a 100 word burst of creativity, every single day. No balls about it.