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Author Topic: Thistledown's Making Words -- Now with Nonwords!  (Read 3218 times)

Thistledown

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Thistledown's Making Words -- Now with Nonwords!
« on: October 04, 2010, 10:54:33 PM »

I'm taking a creative fiction class at college right now, and one of our assignments is to write small stories or parts of short stories or similar every week. The biggest instruction was to write outside of our comfort zone, use characters and settings we hadn't used before. Of course for those of the class who hadn't written anything it made little difference, but anyways...

So, I'm going to be showing you all my assignments when I turn them in (also found on my Tumblr), and maybe a second draft after I get some feedback from here or the class (part of the class is a workshop, part of it is isn't). So, here is my first piece.



"The Movement"

This nameless airport in a city I can’t remember is just like every other nameless airport in every other city I can’t remember. The slick smell of the crowd mixed with the grimy indifferent odor of weary travelers is a hot wave of human. Not pleasant in the least, but it learns to be comforting in its own way. For me, it means progress and change, a way to escape. I bribe customs and step out into the sweltering heat of wherever here is with the angry sun hanging in front of my face, slipping out of the sky. I realize that only three hours ago it had just risen. And then it hits me full force, a juiced professional linebacker straight through my clarity.

Jet lag is just an extended waking dream sequence. The bigger the time difference, the more vivid the dreams. Add to that culture shock (or, in my case, displacement) and you are transported to a whole new reality where everything is only vaguely familiar and your head is so fogged that you can’t remember the thought that came before it so none of it matters anyways. All you know is that your Mystery, your soul or self or whatever you want co call it, is so far behind you that you aren’t yourself.

I step into the cab (did I call call a cab?) and tell the cabbie in my best pantomime to drive. He gets it right away and pulls out into a sea of neon streaks and fading blood light and that peculiar city cacophony that becomes so loud and omnipresent that silence becomes forgotten, a myth to tell the grandkids. They’ll go “No grandad, ya surely messin’ with us,” or however they’ll say it in fifty years when language comes barely recognizable through all the slang and inflections of the future youth.

The cabbie says in mostly broken English, “Where go?” and wipes the sweat from his forehead with a practiced motion.

“Close, expensive, hotel,” I reply with a unenthused waving of hands and a wad of cash to emphasize my point, stopping after each word to check if he was watching. The sauna inside the cab coupled with the sapping reality of the dream sequence made the effort of motion monumental. Somehow this display of my pantomime prompts “Money? Hotel? Yes do” from the cabbie. I hear them words through an increasingly deep tunnel from which the world is receding. Everything becomes empty as I slip into an exhausted sleep that jet lag forces on me, despite me waking up only three hours ago. Empty save for that peculiar all-encompassing city cacophony that even dead rest can’t stop.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2011, 08:42:48 PM by Thistledown »
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Bazeleel

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Re: Thistledown's Making Words
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2010, 08:34:18 AM »

Awesome work man :) I was able to picture the settling and the way you described the smell in the airport was perfect, that was my favorite part of the whole story.

Valrick

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Re: Thistledown's Making Words
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2010, 08:59:54 PM »

I really enjoyed the scene you set - you got to describing it in very real and relatable terms, which is always great.

One thing to watch though, is the redundancy that creeps in here and there. Probably because this is just a quick draft, but where it occurs, I found the pace broke down and the sentences became "saggy".

Overall, really great.
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Thistledown

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Re: Thistledown's Making Words
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2010, 01:49:39 PM »

I didn't want to put this one up here because I am not happy with any part of it, but I'm not going to get better by hiding my failures. Also, it's unfinished and I'm probably not going to finish it.



"Sam"

He says I killed her on the dance floor, but I don't remember. The blood, though... I remember that. How could I forget? It still covers my hands. It won't ever wash off, you know. Even if I cut them off, the blood would remain, somehow, stuck there by some metaphysical superglue that attaches images to ideas.

“Sara? You still there?”

“Yeah,” I reply, “I'm still here. The funeral is tomorrow?”

“Yep. Sam would want you here. I believe you, you know that?” The voice over the speaker isn't really Michael's. He is in San Francisco, like million miles away, but it doesn't matter. That voice is right here and not in San Francisco with him. Doesn't make sense, I know.

“I'm not sure if I should be there. Really. Sam may have wanted me there, but I don't think I'm so welcome. Her family hated me.”

“I want you there. That's enough for me, and that's enough for you,” he say.

I sigh. “Whatever. I might be there.”

“Don't you whatever me. You'll be there.”

I don't have anything to say so I stay silent. “Love you.” I think I mutter something. “Bye.”

Michael kind of knows the truth. He knows more of the truth than I do. Or at least more of the facts. The truth is with me, you know? With me and with Sam, wherever she is. I put the phone down in the comically large red rotary base. That was Sam's first birthday present to me, that phone. Six years ago, she gave it to me just so she could “call the emergency line.” The red isn't the blood color but the paint color, like Candy Apple Red or Slutty Lipstick Red or That Hot Car Red or whatever she called it that week. It kind of disgusted me to be honest, but I kept it around out of force of habit. The rest of the day is empty.

At night I didn't sleep well. I had a dream with Sam in it. Can't remember too much about it, but she was there. I wear black slacks and a dark gray cardigan with a white shirt to the funeral. I only have one nice dress and I wore it to the club the night I killed Sam. Besides I don't like dresses anyways. It feels like I'm too vulnerable. Michael's voice calls before I leave. Michael is still in San Francisco, but his voice assures me that it will be at the funeral. I wonder what a disembodied voice looks like. Probably not much to look at, since it is just sound given mind. I realize this train of thought would be crazy if I were considering it seriously. Maybe I am crazy—it feels like Sam is still alive, just on a long trip.
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Thistledown

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Re: Thistledown's Making Words
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2010, 10:10:44 AM »

OH MY LORD THREE STORIES COMING AT YOU

Yeah, I've been behind on posting them. Whatever, here they are (in three posts). I don't like this one at all. In fact, I'm rather ashamed of it. But what can you do when you're stuck?



“My Side of the Story”

Y'know, you people out there, on the other side of this paper, you have it easy. All you have to do is watch me and my buddies work our asses off. You can call me Builder, and my friends are Clockmaker and Companion. We're known by you reader types as character archetypes, but we're really more along the line of the Roman genius or the Greek muse. Anyways, we tell the boss what we are doing, and he's supposed to write it down.

My boss, the author, is stubborn. He doesn't listen to me at all. I scream and scream at him to tell him what I need to do, but he doesn't listen. Well, that is unfair. Sometimes he does listen. But lately there's been this veil between us, some sort of... Well, he calls it “writer's block.” I'm sure you know what that's like. Everything you write just comes out wrong. Well guess what? You have to listen.

I know, I know, it's hard. We're like a million miles away. It's really frustrating for us too. All we want to do is get paid and it's like fighting against the current in a class five rapid, complete with all the hazards.

Actually you know what? I'm just going to quit. I do all this work and he doesn't listen. The pay is crap, too. But being basically immortal, I can't really quit, can I? Man, this job sucks. I don't even have a proper name! Screw that, my name is now Bob.

“Huh? No it isn't. You're Builder. You aren't anything else.”

Really, boss? Really? You're gonna pull that? Welp, this is over. Clockmaker, come over here and talk to the fine people.

Huh? Oh, well, I guess I could. Hello unreachable folks across the great gap. Despite what Builder said, my name is Clockmaker, and it's a real name. And, despite what he said, the author's job isn't to listen, it is to observe. We do things and the author transcribes what he sees. He isn't our boss. Honestly I don't get where Builder gets these ideas.

In fact, I'd say we don't even work. The author has the hard job. He's reaching through miles of fog to see glimpses of us. That's a lot of work. Have you ever tried to look through that thick? I'm very proud of my author.

Builder is right on one thing. Weather has been bad lately. He just can't see what we're doing and it's frustrating both him and us. Builder is quick to blame others and Companion sides with Builder on a moment's notice. I'm the reasonable one here. But enough of this, it wouldn't be fair to leave Companion out of it. Let's go find her.

“You sure you want to do that?”

What? Why? Oh, there she is...

Note: Companion denied comment. When approached by Clockmaker, she cried and quickly ran off.
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Thistledown

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Re: Thistledown's Making Words
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2010, 10:13:30 AM »

I, uh, was on SCP a lot that week. So I kinda wrote a very bad weird/horror story.



“Down”

I have to go Down. Down with a capital D. It itches up here. No depth is ever deep enough. When I go Down, wonderful pressure surrounds me, infuses me. It started after Hector died. In fact, I think he also wanted to go Down. It was staying up here that killed him, not that he shot himself. I think so anyways. It's hard to think straight right now.

My brother came back from South America somewhere. Brazil, maybe? Even though we don't talk much anymore, he called me about the caving expedition. He and his friends had a lot of success. He brought back some souvenirs and he wanted to show me them. Wouldn't tell me what they were. Told me next time he was in Boulder he'd show me. I was confused at the time, but I let it go.

I didn't hear from him for a month. One day after I got of work, he's just there, in my apartment. I'll admit, I forgot he had they keys from when he lived here.

“Hey-Aaron,-long-time-no-see.” He said it all in one word, emotion mostly gone out of his voice.

“What the hell, Hector? Did you think to even call?”

He disregarded me and looked at the coffee table in front of the couch he was sitting on. I followed his gaze. “I found it on one of the caves.” He said some more but I didn't pay attention. I could only see the statue. On my table was . . . something. It's hard to describe because I can't remember that much; it itches when I think about it. Roughly, it was a statue of a kneeling woman in grotesque proportions, about ten inches tall. By far it was the ugliest thing I've ever seen. Not ugly in the sense of beauty, but ugly in the sense that it was wrong. It didn't belong here, in this reality. What I remember most about it, however, was its eyes. They are just pits in the face, but they were deep. Probably went to the back of the head. I had this feeling that if I shined a light down them I would see the backs. I'm getting ahead of myself. I didn't get a good look at the statue until later. Hector covered the statue with a filthy cloth. Actually, that's probably when the itch started.

“Hm? What'd you say?”

“I found it in a cave. It looked like a temple or something, just upside down. The cave that is. Benches on the ceiling with an altar. This was under the altar.” He gestured to the statue.

I wanted to protest, but it felt like the truth. Or at least he believed it.

“I have to go back, Aaron. I have to. I need to see it again. Go down to it. I want you to come with me.” I gave a noncommittal grunt.

For the first time, I looked at my brother, really looked at him. It didn't seem like he had slept for weeks. Normally his hair was kept close to the skin, but it was growing longer than I had ever seen it since he was in high school. The brittle strands were matted with sweat and dirt. His face was thin, gaunt. His eyes... his eyes were those of a madman, with no emotion. Scrubbed raw with steel wool. I could fall into them.

“Have you been sleeping? Eating?” I tried to keep the worry out of my voice.

“Eating? Yes. Sleeping? Not sure.” He paused for a moment. “Yes, I suppose.”

“Why don't you stay here tonight?”

“Sure.”

When I woke up the next morning, he was gone. Left a note. “john hat cave come”
« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 01:38:35 PM by Thistledown »
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Thistledown

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Re: Thistledown's Making Words
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2010, 10:16:40 AM »

Hey, something I'm happy with! Also, something that isn't a fragment of a story! This was developed from an exercise about dialogue summary, for your information. Fix may or may not be the same character as the narrator in "The Movement." I'm not sure about that yet.



“Armand”

Fix had instructions to meet the contact on the boardwalk. Not very specific, since the boardwalk ran for at least a mile along the greater part of the Dorsett coast. All the pressure of getting to this little coastal speck without being seen and, more importantly, with all the cargo was getting to him. He was running on fumes at best, and vowed to himself to take the next job offer from Johns and tell him to shove it. Probably a bad idea, but it felt good to think about.

Dorsett itself was miles from the next accessible coast and surrounded on the north and south by sharp coastline and even sharper submerged rocks. Fix though of it as if a bay had been flooded. The town felt empty; he'd only seen a few locals who gave him strange looks, and when he'd asked for a hotel they were nearly hostile. The one hotel, Somnorum, was poorly kept and run single-handed by an unfriendly old woman with no hair by the name of King. Funny name for a place too, Somnorum; sounded like bastardized Latin, but he was no scholar. When he first arrived Fix wondered briefly how King managed to stay in business but was really too tired to give it serious thought.

The ham and eggs and bacon at Hamdollars, an oceanfront restaurant, was amazing. Somehow all the little nowhere towns got the good food and big cities had terrible stuff. Airport cities were the worst, however. Fix took his backpack and checked his watch. Ten minutes to seven, the contact time. Maybe he'd find him early.

Walking out of the dark restaurant into the bright soup of fog hurt Fix's eyes. Not a soul in sight, though that didn't mean much when he could only see maybe fifteen feet. He walked for a few minutes along the boardwalk until he got to what he thought was the center of town. At least it was the only parking lot in Dorsett that was next to the beach, so there was that. Fix sat on a bench facing the sand. It was five past seven. Maybe the contact wasn't showing? He'd give him ten more minutes before heading back to Somnorum and calling Johns.

The sand stretched into the fog and he couldn't hear the ocean not forty feet away. Fix imagined that in front of him, from here to Europe, was all sand, and if he just got up and walked he'd reach London despite it being an inland city. Maybe if he just walked along the boardwalk he'd hit Miami or Halifax.

Right as he was about to get up he heard some footsteps from behind. Was this the contact? He'd just stay put until they went away. Long seconds went by, and Fix was taut with anticipation. Maybe his pursuers had got word of something. Maybe he was a few seconds to a poke in the back of the head and then nothingness.

A woman sat next to him. Fix only gave a glance, expecting this to be another local. She had on a thick tweed overcoat and a long black dress below. Her hair was fluffy and white, but it didn't match her ruddy cheeks and sunburnt forehead.

“You're new to Dorsett. I know everyone here and I've never seen you,” she said.

Well great, that didn't give Fix any idea about who she was. “Yeah. Needed a break from... from everything, I guess.” He wasn't lying, either.

“Don't we all?”

“Don't we all.”

“Armand,” she said and offered her hand.

Fix took it. “People call me Fix.”

She asked Fix about what he did for a living. He said he was a courier. She talked about how the postal system was a giant rip and how it was easier to hire on a contract basis. Fix countered that he was part of a company that was contracted by the post when things got hectic after the war. Armand complained that it was the war, it was always the war. How could one ever get sleep with all that racket going on inland? She was happy enough that it never touched Dorsett, but somehow it was slowly becoming a ghost town. People moving on, moving out. It left a lot of things around for the people to find, but most of the town folk were kind enough to leave them as they were.

“So that's why Dorsett's so empty. I guess I can understand wanting to move around. Part of why I became a courier,” said Fix.

“So who are you delivering to?” asked Armand.

Fix paused for a moment and smirked. “You.”

“Mhm. Tell Johns hello from me.” She took the package Fix handed her.

“No. I think I'm staying,” declared Fix.

“That's what I thought,” Armand  said. She stood up and headed off into the fog.

Fix wondered idly what Armand's first name was and he headed after her.
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Thistledown

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Re: Thistledown's Making Words
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2010, 09:49:52 PM »

This was a lot of fun to write, though I'm not sure it is as fun to read.



"An Exceptionally Odd Fellow"

One might say that Mr. Rasper was an exceptionally odd fellow, and sure as hot cocoa is all too hot, one would be correct, or at least as much as Mr. Rasper would agree. Despite being told as much by his friends, one Mr. Maxwell McAllister was still founded dumb by his and Mr. Rasper's meeting. Maxwell had recently taken up the fine past-time of running in the small courtyard of Highshale University where he taught classes in the field of Mathematics. Poor Maxwell had run a hole in his left running-shoe, but the University did not pay him much to buy a new pair of running-shoes, so he desired to take it to the local cobbler, Mr. Rasper. His colleagues told him to stay away from Mr. Rasper for although he was an excellent cobbler, he was an exceptionally odd fellow. His students, when viewing his holed left running-shoe, had told him that he had better not take it to Mr. Rasper. One of the students, Diane Carter, had her dance-shoes repaired by Mr. Rasper not but four weeks ago, and said to Maxwell, “Professor McAllister, why, I had my dance-shoes repaired by Mr. Rasper not but four weeks ago and I found Mr. Rasper to be an exceptionally odd fellow. I would not return to Mr. Rasper.” And that was that.

In the morning, Maxwell had his customary hot cocoa, which was (as also customary) all too hot, and thought to himself, “Maxwell, despite having heard Mr. Rasper is an exceptionally odd fellow, he has been told to be an excellent cobbler. Despite, I do not wish to have my past-time of running be thwarted by a hole in my left running-shoe.” So, Maxwell ventured on to Clarke Street where Collins Cobblers were located. Maxwell decided that it was most peculiar that Mr. Rasper ran a store called Collins Cobblers for two reasons. First, his name was not Mr. Collins, and second, he was the only cobbler in the sleepy university village so named after it, Highshale.

It was a typical Highshale morning when Maxwell met Mr. Rasper. Highshale sat in a low valley somewhat close to the sea, and there was fog so thick Maxwell could not see but only a few feet in front of him. So thick, in fact, that would not have been able to locate the sun had he not had the experience of thirty-four years of mornings. The dusty stench from the north valley side where Miller and Sons had their quarry was located had just started to crash over the village proper. Not but a few moments from now the din of the operation would start and would not stop until close to sundown—ah, there it goes. Maxwell didn't think much of Miller and Sons; they had brought a much needed economy boost to Highshale at the cost of their infernal low clamor and miasma.

Maxwell had reached Clarke Street and felt out of place for he did not often visit Highshale proper. The cobbled street rarely saw cars because the whole town and nearby university was under two miles at its widest, though often one could see Old Webb in his pristine white town-car rolling up and down the few streets of Highshale. Old Webb (or Mr. Thom Webb, as he preferred to be called) was under a most peculiar impression that his pristine white town-car was admired by the Highshale residents when really it was just a boisterous object of disdain according to most. And, sure as hot cocoa is all too hot, of in the distance Maxwell heard Old Webb's town-car start is engine.

Maxwell approached Collins Cobblers. The façade of the place was like the façades of the rest of the shops on Clarke Street. That is, plain red bricks and dark mortar supporting a sign jutting out above the entrance. The sign for Collins Cobblers proclaimed the name in a thin rolled script that reminded Maxwell of the tops of those pillars they found in Greek ruins, the ones that looked like end-pillows or scrolls. Alongside the script was a crude last inside a dogeared shoe as to show what a cobbler does if one didn't not know. Maxwell knew but he found the image interesting anyways. The recessed door was flanked by wide windows which displayed shoes one could purchase. Maxwell thought maybe Mr. Rasper had been a cordwainer before a cobbler, but wondering would do him little good. On the right window was a replica of the sign in paint, complete with actual sign and even the grain of the wood. Most impressive, Maxwell thought. The door was cherry wood, with beveled angles over much of the surface. In the top half of the door had frosted glass, beveled in the same fashion as though it were also wood. The handle and escutcheon were cast in bronze and had ornate silver inlays.

A strange fear came over Maxwell. What if Mr. Rasper was an exceptionally odd a fellow as the folks said he was? He tried to picture what “an exceptionally odd fellow” would have looked like. After much internal deliberation, Maxwell came to the conclusion that an exceptionally odd fellow would look like a normal fellow for all his exceptional oddities would be based in his behavior. Thus, Maxwell tried to picture how “an exceptionally odd fellow” would act like. After a similar amount of much internal deliberation, Maxwell came to the conclusion that an exceptionally odd fellow would act like a normal fellow for all his exceptional oddities would be based in his appearance. The obvious contradition but his mind at unease.

Maxwell had been standing in front of Collins Cobblers for nearly fifteen whole minutes, trying to picture Mr. Rasper. He came out of his reverie, shaking his head. Old Webb and his pretentious white town-car rolled by and somehow Maxwell had just remembered that it was Saturday and Mr. Rasper was not likely to open the store. Sighing, Maxwell went home to come back the next day. And that was that.

And such, Maxwell came back the next day, and the same events transpired, down to the contradictory thought. And again, he remembered that it was Sunday and Mr. Rasper was not likely to open the store. And sighing again, Maxwell went home to come back the next day. The following, however, day he was in luck! Mr. Rasper had opened the store early, and this left Maxwell with a lot of time to return to Highshale University for his classes in the evening.

Mr. Rasper turned out to be exactly what he thought of an exceptionally odd fellow. His appearance was plain and his manner was also. Mr. Rasper had thin wispy tufts of hair in a partial halo, kept low on his head. His head was adorned with a well worn leather driving-cap, utterly dull from years of use. His leather cobbler apron, also dull from years of use, covered a crisp blue collared shirt. Similarly, his tan slacks were crisp. He had black glossy leather venetian loafers, and they were of excellent repair as could be expected of a cobbler. Yes, most exceptionally odd indeed.

Mr. Rasper's speech is plain, though he had the odd habit of referring to himself in the third person, which really wasn't all that uncommon now that Maxwell thought about it. His Ethics professor from his youth also had this manner of speech. Not exceptionally odd in that respect. He moved and had mannerisms Maxwell would expect of a cobbler. Deliberate motions without any loss of use, everything economic. Mr. Rasper did not even shift his weight from one leg to the other during Maxwell's dealings with him. Rather, he stayed centered. Yes, most exceptionally odd indeed.

A week later, Maxwell went to pick up his repaired running-shoes. Mr. Rasper was working on Old Webb's driving-shoes, for they were worn out from all his driving around Highshale, sure as hot cocoa is all too hot.

“Hello Mr. McAllister. Mr. Rasper repaired your left running-shoe, and he also did some preventative maintenance on the right also. You seem to be running on the balls of your feet. May want to watch that,” said Mr. Rasper.

“Thank you, Mr. Rasper. Your services are much appreciated. However I must say you are an exceptionally odd fellow. Not that I mean any disrespect,” said Maxwell.

“Ah, yes, Mr. Rasper has been told that. And no offense has been taken,” said Mr. Rasper.

“Well, thank you Mr. Rasper,” said Maxwell.

And that was that.
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Thistledown

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Re: Thistledown's Making Words
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2010, 06:00:13 PM »

Last one! I submitted an updated and expanded version of "Armand" for my final. I don't think the story is finished, but it is further along than I expected.



"Armand"

Fix had instructions to meet the contact on the boardwalk. Not very specific, since the boardwalk ran for at least a mile along the greater part of the Dorsett coast. All the pressure of getting to this little coastal speck without being seen and, more importantly, with all the cargo was getting to him. He was running on fumes at best, and vowed to himself to take the next job offer from Johns and tell him to shove it. Probably a bad idea, but it felt good to think about.

Dorsett itself was miles from the next accessible coast and surrounded on the north and south by sharp coastline and even sharper submerged rocks. Fix thought of it as if a bay had been flooded. The town felt empty; he'd only seen a few locals who gave him strange looks, and when he asked for a hotel they were nearly hostile. Fix guessed they weren't used to out-of-towners. The one hotel, Somnorum, was poorly kept and run single-handedly by an unfriendly old woman with no hair by the name of King. Funny name for a place too, Somnorum; sounded like bastardized Latin, but he was no scholar. When he first arrived Fix wondered briefly how King managed to stay in business but was really too tired to give it serious thought.

The breakfast special ham and eggs at Hamdollars, an oceanfront restaurant, was amazing. Somehow all the little nowhere towns got the good food and big cities had terrible stuff. Airport cities were the worst. Fix took his backpack and checked his watch. Ten minutes to seven, the contact time. Maybe he'd find him early.

Walking out of the dark restaurant into the bright soup of fog hurt Fix's eyes. Not a soul in sight, though that didn't mean much when he could only see maybe fifteen feet. He walked for a few minutes along the boardwalk until he got to what he thought was the center of town. At least it was the only parking lot in Dorsett that was next to the beach, so there was that. Fix sat on a bench facing the sand. It was five past seven. Maybe the contact wasn't showing? He'd give him ten more minutes before heading back to Somnorum and calling Johns.

The sand stretched into the fog and he could hear the ocean not forty feet away. Fix imagined that in front of him, from here to Europe, was all sand. If he just got up and walked he'd reach London. Maybe if he just walked along the boardwalk he'd hit Miami or Halifax.

Right as he was about to get up he heard some footsteps from behind. Was this the contact? He'd just stay put until they went away. Long seconds went by, and Fix was taut with anticipation. Maybe his pursuers had got word of something. Maybe he was a few seconds to a poke in the back of the head and then nothing.

A woman sat next to him. Fix only gave a glance, expecting this to be another local. She had on a thick tweed overcoat and a long black dress below. Her hair was fluffy and white, but it didn't match her ruddy cheeks and sunburnt forehead.

“You're new to Dorsett. I know everyone here and I've never seen you,” she said.

Well great, that didn't give Fix any idea about who she was. “Yeah. Needed a break from... from everything, I guess.” He wasn't lying, either.

“Don't we all?”

“Don't we all.”

“Armand,” she said and offered her hand.

Fix took it. “People call me Fix.”

She asked Fix about what he did for a living. He said he was a courier. She talked about how the postal system was a giant rip and how it was easier to hire on a contract basis. Fix countered that he was part of a company that was contracted by the post when things got hectic after the war. Armand complained that it was the war, it was always the war. How could one ever get sleep with all that racket going on inland? She was happy enough that it never touched Dorsett, but somehow it was slowly becoming a ghost town. People moving on, moving out. It left a lot of things around for the people to find, but most of the town folk were kind enough to leave them as they were.

“So that's why Dorsett's so empty. I guess I can understand wanting to move around. Part of why I became a courier,” said Fix.

“So who are you delivering to?” asked Armand.

Fix paused for a moment and smirked. “You.”

“Mhm. Tell Johns hello from me.” She took the package Fix handed her.

“No. I think I'm staying,” declared Fix.

“That's what I thought,” Armand  said. She stood up and headed off into the fog.

Fix wondered idly what Armand's first name was and he headed after her.

---

A foggy week had past, and Fix found a small abandoned apartment in the center of Dorsett, a block inland from Hamdollars. The room was damp and probably had some mold problems, though he couldn't find anything. He figured it'd be better not to look. It upset the Dorsett locals that he'd moved in, but Armand seemed to be the defacto leader of the group of fifty or so locals. She got Fix his room, as well as a job as a general handyman. He didn't think he was all that handy. Could be the name.

Fix enjoyed that week. It was quiet and he met nice people. He never learned Armand's first name, but he also met Henrietta King from Somnorum, who turned out to be much nicer than she first appeared, and Thom Filliburn, the owner and cook at Hamdollars. Fix supposed that he spent most of his days between Somnorum and Hamdollars, fixing this heating unit or that hot plate; he rarely got calls from the other locals.

He talked to Armand a lot during that week. Fix said that Johns would probably wonder what happened to him. Armand thought that Johns wouldn't because he loses his couriers so often; it's why he's always recruiting. That made Fix feel better, but he was still worried. Armand promised to hide him in Dorsett if Johns' enforcers came for him.

After the day was done and his body exhausted, Fix allowed his mind to wander, something he rarely ever did. Did Johns wonder if Fix was killed? Would he send out enforcers to find Fix? Johns was not a particularly patient man, but he was generous. Hell, he had to be to get things around after the war. Fix wasn't even labeled a profiteer by association anymore. He made a mental note to thank Armand for leaving out his previous occupation. The label wasn't even that bad. He was just happy to sit down and not worry about being followed.

The next day was the first clear one Fix had seen at Dorsett. He had finished repairing the second grill at Hamdollars the night before, so he slept in to ten. The day was cold, but the sun was uncomfortably warm for his puffy jacket. It was the first time he'd seen the ocean since he was six. Fix walked down to the beach and waved at Thom as he passed Hamdollars. Thom's eyebrows were furrowed in concentration as he looked towards town. Fix didn't pay much attention to it; Thom had an intense face.

The sand was damp and it felt good between Fix's toes. He sat on the edge of the boardwalk and looked out at sea. The earlier feeling of endless sand was still there, in the back of his mind. Just walk out into the water...

There was the faint rumble of an engine. Not someone from Dorsett. Everyone walked here; the town wasn't big enough to warrant a car. Fix rode in on a motorcycle he stashed two miles out of town. Cars were luxury items with gas so expensive. He knew who that was. It had to be Johns' men. He sat utterly still. Maybe if he just stayed where he was, the men wouldn't find him. Yeah, right.

Fix thought over his last week. It was a good week. He'd made a friend in Armand. Sure, it was a quick friendship, but those happen without realizing it. Just, bam, you're friends. However, Dorsett didn't really like him. Henrietta and Thom were the only people aside from Armand who'd really talked to him, and that was out of necessity. Still, it opened their shells. Fix was sure all the residents weren't all bitter and suspicious, given time. He liked it here. Maybe it'd be best just to go with Johns' men and avoid a confrontation.

Fix got up and headed toward the rumble, just as it stopped. It was by the parking lot where he met Armand. No one lived around there, only Jim and Terri. He made no effort to hide himself as he walked towards the beat up grimy olive green panel van.

“Short guy, sandy blonde hair? Yeah, that's Fix. He's still in Dorsett.” Armand's voice.

“Johns wants him back,” said a voice that belonged to a man that probably had been smoking his whole life, low and phlemy.

“You'll have to talk to him about that. You're his keeper, not me,” said Armand.

“And I'd find him, yeah. You're gonna help, Emily. Or whatever your name is,” said Smoker.

After a pause, Armand said, “Sure. Double shipment, next time. Tell him that. I think Fix will be at the beach.” Another pause. “First day he hasn't had work right away. Sunny too. I hate the sun here.” A third pause. “Well what are you waiting for? Get on it! Fix won't catch himself.”

Smoker grumbled, and then said, “Whatever.”

Fix stopped dead in his tracks. Armand had promised him. Promised. He felt a fool for trusting her. Had he made a mistake? It's true he thought it was a little too good to be true at first, but it had been so long since someone was kind, to trust him without motive—scratch that, she had a motive. He didn't know what and right now he didn't much care either. Maybe there was some genuine kindness in there for him. He doubted it, though. There wasn't kindness anymore. Not in Armand, not in Dorsett, not in himself.

Strangely, though, Fix didn't feel angry, just disappointed. Fix sat down on the bench where he met Armand. He didn't say anything. He heard Armand's footsteps behind him. She put her hand on his shoulder.

“Sorry, Fix. I knew you were back there,” said Armand.

She paused for a full minute. Her grip was comforting, but Fix felt sick for feeling comforted by it.  “You're a good courier, you know? The last two packages that came here were followed, usually within hours. They didn't even wait until the courier was gone, the savages. No one came with you.”

Fix grunted in response. He didn't know what it meant. Maybe it was there to fill the silence. Fix didn't care anymore. The enforcers came behind him and started to pick him up, but Armand waved them off, said that he'd go under his own power. Fix thought that was a blatant lie until he found himself walking to the panel van. Fix thought he would never see Dorsett or Armand again, and that didn't much bother him. Maybe he will tell Johns to take the next job and shove it. Yeah, that's a good idea.
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Valrick

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Re: Re: Thistledown's Making Words
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2011, 11:43:15 AM »

I was just wondering, how do you find your course? I've been looking into taking a creative writing course but I'm not sure if it'd be entirely worth it. Do you find yourself more motivated to write? I already have a pretty firm grasp on plot, narrative structure, dialogue and such from my film course, so I'm not really sure what I'd learn.
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