Wednesday, January 20, 2010

WIP Wednesday: Brain Splatter

I'm juggling two short stories right now, one without a prospective market (why do I do that to myself) and one that's lighter than I usually write.

Both are about 1/2 done.

The first finds four men in an Antarctic research post. No, it's not The Thing or a riff on "Who Goes There?" I wanted isolated, and a tiny research post in Antarctica was about as remote as I could muster. Then the rest of the word goes dark (no satelite feed, no radio, nothing). Did I mention a stranger shows up - *poof* - literally on their frozen doorstep crying about "all the dead people"?

From "The Last Listening Post":

“Invaded by whom?”

The question came from across the room. Lieutenant Frank Garry, tall and lanky with close-cropped hair the color and consistency of straightened steel wool, stood with arms crossed in the doorway linking the administration building with the main corridor. His face was a mask, a near-perfect replica of any recruiting poster in an Army office in any shitty little town in America. The mask turned down in a scowl.

“There’s a man,” Lehman gestured.

Gardner stood at the lockers, his bright orange parka hanging loose on his shoulders, unzipped. His hands clutched the collar of another heavy coat. His eyes traveled between Lehman and the lieutenant.

“Security first.” Garry didn’t flinch. His face barely moved as he spoke.

“He’ll die.”

“Doctor, you might be the reason for our little oasis in this frozen hell, but I’m in charge of keeping you alive. I’m in charge of security.”

God, how I love tension.

The other piece, "The Trouble with Breadcrumbs", goes something like this:

I wanted to ask, but really, what was the old man going to say, “Your fake mother has taken the house and moved it. Left this one instead”?

It was my sister that worried me anyway, especially since Dad went AWOL, so I went to the door of the wrong house and twisted the beaten-brass knob, squeak-squeak, until the door nodded and bowed open. Inside, I found a regular dust and cobweb carnival, tumble and twist in the light. A feast of untrodden planks, wood which had forgotten it was wood lay in lazy-grey lines on the floor. The walls leaned in, once having ears but now must have been hard of hearing.

“Hello?” My question went out like a sonar ping, and came back in a whispered, “Go away.”

So I did.


Elana Johnson said...

Excellent use of language, Aaron! I love "the door nodded and bowed open." That is bloody brilliant!

Cate Gardner said...

If I had to pick one line, this one stood out for me...

The walls leaned in, once having ears but now must have been hard of hearing.

...but quite frankly, I refuse to pick just one line, they're all brilliant.

I think the best character machine you have, is the one hiding beneath your skull.

Aaron Polson said...

Elana - the line between brilliant and just plain bloody is (pardon the potential pun) razor thin.

Cate - I will have to pry it loose with a screwdriver then!

Fox Lee said...

Your protagonist in the second story seems infinitely sensible. I hope he keeps his wits about him until the end!

Akasha Savage. said...

I liked both of those. Will we beable to read them when they're finished?

Aaron Polson said...

Natalie - Me too, but I think he finds some courage.

Akasha - Perhaps maybe. Lots o' work to be done until then...

Katey said...

Tension is fun to write, but even more fun to read. Awesome! Also, the second bit made me giddy with surreal coolness. Sounds like I'll be all over it.

Ah, but which one has no prospective market? No wait, don't tell, I want to be surprised!

Alan W. Davidson said...

“Hello?” My question went out like a sonar ping, and came back in a whispered, “Go away.”

If that line doesn't inspire to want more, nothing will... great job, sir.

Danielle Birch said...

Both stories sound great. Several of my stories start with no market in mind - so I hear you.

Unknown said...

OOOH. I like them both. But I really like the second one.

Aaron Polson said...

Katey - There's always a market, I suppose. Does the market care? --that's the real question.

Alan - Job #1: Inspire readers to want more. Check.

Danielle - I just write. Sometimes, when I read guidelines for an antho, I'll get a brainstorm. Usually, I just write.

Jeremy - Me too. That's why I put #1 on pause to finish #2.

K.C. Shaw said...

Excellent! It's amazing how different both stories sound. They both sound fascinating, too. Good luck on them!

Aaron Polson said...

Thanks, K.C.