A Compendium of Lesser-Known Time Travelers and Other Terrors

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Story-a-Day comes ever closer! I’ve taken a few notes already. Even last night while at a live music event, I jotted some notes down. One of the songs gave me an idea.

So, the long title of this May’s collection: Time Travelers, Witches, and Saints: A Compendium of Lesser-Known Time Travelers and Other Terrors. Sometimes I love a long title, especially for a short story collection.

I don’t have enough ideas to get me through the month, but hopefully my imagination and desperation won’t let me down.

See you on the 1st! Happy writing!

*

My first novel is here.

My art is here. Thanks again, and feel free to share.

Story-a-Day May is coming!

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Story-a-Day May is coming! I’d forgotten that I gave up last year. I must have blocked that out.

Well, I’m going to try again. And this time, I have ideas. I prefer to think of each year as a collection of stories with a kind of theme. So, this year the theme is time travel, and I want my time travelers to be somewhat unexpected. Meaning characters who don’t often get to time travel in stories. Or at least, not the stories I’ve read and know about.

Every story might not deal with time, but an overarching theme usually helps me come up with ideas. I’ve been tossing around ideas for a title for this year’s series of stories. We’ll see what I end up with once the month begins.

I’m excited for the stories to begin!

Who’s with me?

Story-a-Day May and Friday the 13th!

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Yesterday, while in the shower, I had a great idea for a scene in Ida’s story. But I had to go to work, and by the time I returned home and could spend time writing, the idea had faded. It’s still there. I’ll just have to wait for it to resurface. Eventually. Fingers crossed.

Nonetheless, I did write yesterday anyway (hoping the morning’s revelation could be lured back) until I got stuck on what the characters of Ida Wayward Ravenstar and Millie-Marie looked like. I decided to go back to the story I started this month with–the story of Miranda Magpie Jones. She’s the character who inspired A Night in a Graveyard and Other Stories of Immortality, and she’s still there, waiting for her story to be told.

Now the story of Ida and Millie-Marie seems to be bigger than a short story, so that will take some sorting out come June. Not to mention the other stories I want to finish.

This is the one morning I can sleep in and take my time. So, I was being slow and lazy in my morning routine. La-la-la-di-da… and I was when the shower when I realized something about Miranda Magpie Jone’s story line. (Why do some many ideas show up in the shower?) And this time, I could sit down to write it out. It is still a rough, rough draft, but at least the idea is there and I know what the character wants. That’s some kind of progress, right?

Thanks as always for reading.

Miranda Magpie Jones stood on the rough sand and stared out over the ocean. She didn’t stand exactly as she was a ghost, but few of the living could see her, floating inches above sand she couldn’t feel. A seagull swooped down, flying straight through her chest. Neither she nor the bird felt anything, though the seagull missed its quarry scuttling on the ground.

In her new form, scarcely a form at all, she decided to go by Magpie. The living called her Miranda, and she didn’t answer to them anymore. They hadn’t been much help in the end, after all.

Across the water in England was her murderer. What was he doing? Luring another victim? Nursing guilt? Most likely not the latter, though if he were, she’d consider sparing him. Perhaps. Forgiveness didn’t come easily when there was only one way to end this ghostly existence.

She braced herself and concentrated. Slowly she drifted out over the water. Several feet out, she picked up speed, her faded image speeding across the ocean. Rain began, falling through her. Schools of fish darted under her. The fins of dolphins cut through the waves. Clouds rolled and churned. It must have been cold, but she felt nothing but the sense of speed. She knew she was moving but she could have been in an empty room for all she felt.

But the view was beautiful. In the distance, a ship traveled. By the time she reached it, the sun peered through the clouds. People walked along the deck of the ship and a few people stared out at the sea. Miranda Magpie waved, but no one waved back. Of course. She skirted the sides of the ship, catching glimpses into portholes. People dressed, dozed, kissed, and danced. She used to do those things. Maybe she would again, if everything went to plan.

Soon, the ship disappeared behind her and she focused on the horizon. His heartbeat drew her on. She could just barely hear it. She could hear it everywhere and anywhere in the world. His heartbeat would always be there in her head until it stopped. And how hard could stopping it be?

Story-a-Day May! Not even halfway…

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When I started Story-a-Day May this time around, I planned to write a series of stories. But I seemed to have gotten sucked into a longer storyline! Because that’s what I needed, right?

Anyway, slowly but surely my characters set out on their journey.

When Millie-Marie appeared at the edge of the square, she had a bloody nose and disheveled hair. She carried a small shoulder bag and a hefty looking stick. Her eyes met Ida’s, and she waited, stock still, for several heartbeats before marching across to the clock tower.

Ida said nothing. She nodded at the stick.

“Old Mortar took issue with me leaving,” Millie-Marie said. “He tried to relieve me of my bread and wages.”

Ida raised an eyebrow. She hadn’t considered Millie-Marie would say anything to either boss, least of all Mr. Mortar.

“It’s all right. He looks a right sight better than he’s looked in years,” Millie-Marie continued. “Looks a lot more graveyard.”

“Did you tell him where you were going?”

“I don’t know where we’re a going. How I gonna tell?”

Ida patted her coat pocket. “I’ve got us tickets on the overnight train.”

“The train?”

Neither girl had ever been on the train. Only one train worked and that was the overnight, and it didn’t always run. The governor didn’t care about much townspeople making their way anywhere. He had a private car and permits for every checkpoint. One of the last journalists asked him about the state’s plan to fix the train system. “Trains?” the governor laughed. “People are going to be expecting unicorns next.”

But the governor’s wife took on the cause. She was expected to have a cause after all. And she had a great ribbon cutting ceremony for the new overnight train. The questioning journalist disappeared a short while after and a few souls took to wearing unicorn on their lapels. Someone, no one knew who, spray painted unicorn on the side of the train. By then the governor’s wife was dead and the white scrawl remained on the side of engine, darkening with rust.

“How in blue blazes you get tickets?” Millie-Marie asked. She pulled a stray lock of hair from her face. “You don’t even got parents!”

Ida couldn’t help but grin. “Best you don’t know yet.”

Millie-Marie rested a hand on her hip. “Listen up, Miss. Princess Pants. I done beat a grown man with a stick and helped myself to a week’s worth of bread and cheese because you asked me to see the world. Don’t you go telling me it’s best I don’t know. I best damn well know everything.”

Ida took Millie-Marie’s rant in stride. “Course, I’m going to tell you. But if you don’t know, you can’t tell if we get in trouble.”

“You think I’ll blabber?”

“I just don’t want you to get in trouble.”

Millie-Marie shook her head. “I don’t ruined the boss man’s good eye. I already in a heap of trouble. Listening to you. Now you get yourself sorted, and you tell me how you got train tickets.”

A loud clatter echoed across the square. The vendors were closing up their stalls. Ida wasn’t ready to tell the whole truth even though she wanted Millie-Marie’s trust. And images of Mr. Mortar’s eyes pushed into her thoughts. Lots of adults who managed to live as long as he had possessed damaged senses—failed hearing, partial blindness, numbness in the limbs. Only the very rich avoided such plagues, and even they had trouble. “I stole the tickets, of course. I’ll tell you the details when we’re on the train. But we’ve got to get going or we’ll miss it.”

A hint of suspicion clouded Millie-Marie’s face, but she nodded. “That story’ll do, I guess. I’m already in deep here. Can’t never go within a horse ride of Mr. Mortar. He’d have me strung for sure.”

They both shuddered. Ida picked up her own bag and slung it over her shoulder. Her hand trembled slightly. “All right, Millie-Marie. Let’s go catch that train.”

Millie-Marie laughed. “I’m not sure I believe this train exists. I never have seen it, you know. I heard a couple grown ups tell about it, but I never laid eyes on it. What we gonna do if it’s a fairy tale?”

Ida shrugged and headed down the nearby alley. “Walk,” she replied. “Catch a unicorn.”

 

Thanks for reading!

Story-a-Day May! Day 10.

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I wrote yesterday but was too tired to think. And while I’ll willingly share rough drafts in much of their rough and tumble glory, sometimes I have to say no.

I’ve written a little this evening. I was exhausted after work today, and maybe I can get enough sleep tonight if I walk away from the computer at a decent hour.

But here’s what I managed to write today. I took some of the scene I tried to write yesterday and redid it. It’s still rough, VERY ROUGH! But thanks for reading anyway.

The clock tower no longer told time. City officials said the gears came to a halt after the Workers Rebellion twenty years back. The trains failed to run, leaving the needed parts undelivered. The Clock Master joined the rebellion and no one else could see to the needs of massive machine. No one seemed interested in fixing it, and Ida thought of it as nothing more than a landmark about as significant as the non-working petrol station at the end of her street.

Ida leaned against the tower wall, near the plaque declaring it a monument to those who stood for tradition and against the rebellion. People didn’t read the plaque. Not even Ida read it as she stood there idly waiting for Millie-Marie.

A few city officials argued the city clock stopped turning when the governor refused to pay the engineers and staff who kept the clock tower and most other municipal offices in working order. The clock tower could work again if the governor released the funds and apologized. Ida knew nothing about this. She’d have needed a bit of time to remember who the governor even was.
Citizens believed other stories. Ida’s mother had repeated a rumor she claimed not to believe but that she couldn’t stop talking about. The clock tower ceased telling time when the governor, or his henchmen perhaps, threw the Clock Master into the gears. The Clock Master, Ida’s mother assured the children, hadn’t joined the Rebellion. He’d lead the damn thing until crushed at two minutes to twelve.

Ida’s classmates had sometimes dared each other to sneak into the tower and crawl into the works. “You’ll see the Clock Master’s bones jammed in the teeth,” said one boy Ida never particularly liked.

“I heard they used the blood of unwanted children to grease the gears,” she’d replied. She’d never heard such a thing, but she couldn’t resist adding bloodshed to a story. Her embellishments had made her mother laugh.

“That why you missing so many brothers and sisters?” the boy asked.

She pushed him. “Am not.”

“Uh-uh. Your mom’s had so many kids, she’s been selling them for body parts.”

She’d kicked him in the shins. “Go to the tower and bring back a bone if you’re so clever.”

Now, Ida leaned against the tower and its shadow fell over the marketplace. Few people ever looked up at the tower’s worn face. Ida didn’t believe any of the stories. She believed what her father had told her. One day the great clock quit. The gears came to a stop and the Clock Master vanished. Perhaps he never existed. Once in a while someone wondered out loud about fixing the old thing, but the town needed more fresh food brought in and more armaments at the wall. Who argued for wasting resources on a timepiece? Who even cared about time?

I haven’t even figured out what genre this story is going to be. Hmm…

Story-A Day–What do you mean it’s only been a week?

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Wrote a little. I’ve got to get my characters on the road…and then what happens? No idea!

Tomorrow, vacation time is over. We’ll see how the writing goes… (And I’m saving the research for June.)

In the meantime, here’s a bit of what I wrote today. Thanks for reading!

Ida sometimes wore a hat with a veil if she went anywhere they didn’t know about her tears. She wore it know to avoid attention because no one paid much attention to veils anymore. So many wore them to hide scars and depression and honesty. Few people wanted to look anyone in the eye.

She found Millie-Marie cleaning out the stable. Her hair, which she usually kept down and flowing romantically for the mourners, was pulled into a tight ponytail. She’d already washed the makeup off her face and changed her floral dress and shoes with jeans and work boots. The horse would be brought back soon, and she’d take care of all its needs.

“Whatcha need?” Millie-Marie asked without looking up. “I gotta muck out this stable before there’s hell to pay.”

“You want my help?” Ida asked.

Millie-Marie snorted, not hesitating even a second with the metal pitchfork in her hand. “You and your bucket of tears ain’t no help with straw and manure.”

“You know I can’t stop the tears.”

“It a wonder you never dry out.” She shrugged and set the pitchfork against the wall. “But anyways, I can do this in my sleep.”

“Do you sleep?” Ida wondered about this. She’d heard Millie-Marie never slept. They’d all been born with something askew, and while for her it was endless tears, for Millie-Marie it was endless wakefulness.

“No. But I still got no time for your chatter. So off with you if you ain’t got something useful to say.”

Ida took a deep breath. “Let’s get out of here. Now. Tonight. Let’s save the world.”

Millie-Marie, who was about to pick up her broom, stopped. “What the blue devil are you talking about? You lost your soppy-headed mind?”

Ida grinned. “No, ma’am. I’m as clear headed as I’ve been. We’re going to die, and you know it.”

“Everybody gonna die,” Millie-Marie replied.

“You know what I mean. We’re not getting old. We’re getting sick. Like everyone else. And soon enough some other girl will be here mucking out this stall.”

“More power to her. I don’t ever want to shovel manure again.”

“Millie-Marie,” Ida said, taking a step inside, the toes of her shoes at the edge of the pile of dirty straw. “You want to stop because you’re dead?”

The stared at each other.

Ida held out her left hand. “I got the tremor. On the way to the graveyard it started.”

“Oh, Ida…”

“And I’m not hanging about this place waiting to take orders from Crick Mortar and waiting on my siblings. I’m going out into the world and you should too.”

The front gate creaked. The funeral procession, the hearse and the horse, were coming back. “I don’t got the tremor yet,” Millie-Marie replied quietly. “It might be years.”

“Might not.”

The procession came closer. “I’m running home to get a few things. If
you want to come with me, meet me at the clock tower in a hour.”

“What about money?”

“What about it?”

Millie-Marie sighed. “Ida Ravenstar, you get the craziest ideas.”

“The end of the world does that to a girl.”

See you next time.

Back to Day 6 of Story-a-Day May

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Yesterday, I did more rewriting, but I also added a short scene to the other work in progress, The Book of Astrophilia. And I’m going to post it, but I’m not going to give any backstory or explain anything. Because.

“Well?” Shalanda asked Tas. Tas had yet to leave the mortuary archive office, pacing behind Shalanda while Shalanda finished up her report on the dead engineer.

“Get him out. You could do it. You have more freedom than anyone.”

“I thought,” Shalanda said, turning away from her computer, “you were all Miracle June! Miracle June!”

Tas stopped pacing. She smiled her sly smile. “But she’s fine, isn’t she? You heard Marcel. They’re back on the ship, we’re leaving the port, and the students are fine.” She paused. “Except for the one. Omaze?”

“Kazu Omaze, and he’s a bit more than not fine. They should be bringing his body along any time. Oh. You want to see it, don’t you? The slit in his throat.”

“Marcel said Ethorian.”

“You don’t trust my reports?”

“I trust you to the end of the Oort Cloud, but I still like to see things for myself. But you know that’s not why I’m here.”

Shalanda sighed. “Right. Your dad. I’m supposed to stroll into the Prison Nebula and walk out with him.”

“Yes.”

Shalanda leaned forward and lowered her voice. “We’re Archivists. Not gods.”

Tas leaned in close as well. “Really?”

The whir of a gurney echoed down the corridor. They were bringing Kozu Omaze’s body to the morgue. Shalanda laughed resignedly. “All right. What’s the plan, my lovely Tas, goddess and guiding star?”

Thanks again for reading!