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The Writing Thread

posted by DAISHI on - last edited - Viewed by 2K users

Herein lies the Writing Thread! Usually I just post something brief and then allow the participants to engage one another, unshackled by rules like a meeting of Tea Partiers in a debate with Muslims.

However! I propose the following rules to the writing thread, and what this thread should be about.

1.) This thread should obviously be about your own writing.

Your post should be about one of the following things.
2.) A pitch. A story you're thinking about writing, ideas you're tossing around to solicit for feedback.

3.) Brief poetry can be posted in full. Just don't make your poetry a full length story.

4.) A short story you've written that you would like to post, in part. Since a short story can run 2000 to 5000 words, do not post in full. You may post sensible length excerpts, preceded by synopsis of that portion of the story for context.

5.) A long story or novel you've written that you'd like to post, in part. Since a novel can run from 80000 words to 120000 words or more, do not post in full. You may post a sensible length excerpt, preceded by synopsis of that portion of the story for context.

Things to avoid.
Don't get in a hissy fit about criticism. It's the only way to grow as a writer.

Don't just criticize to criticize. In other words, don't be a Debby Downer. List what you think a writer did well, in addition to criticism. Tone means a lot. Don't be overly negative in the tone of your criticism.

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  • This was the second half of my Superman story:


    Chloe Sullivan-Queen buried her head in her hands as she sorted through the stacks of papers in front of her, each containing a list of numbers so long that she thought, if she continued to stare at them much longer, her head would explode. When she'd first committed to coming to Star City, it was invariably to work for the Star City Register, allowing her to rekindle the journalistic passion she'd had when she ran the school newspaper at Smallville High. She'd been so talented that she'd gotten one of the few intern positions at the Daily Planet, and her future as a reporter had once looked incredibly bright. Now, it was her cousin, Lois Lane, who got all the spotlight as the face of reporting at the Planet.
    Not that she wished anything but the best for Lois. No, that wasn't it at all. She'd just spent so much time trying to find what she was supposed to do with herself, she'd forgotten that, as a journalist, she'd been at her best. The problem was that the Daily Planet was one of the few papers in the country running with good profit margins. The Star City Register was performing well, but people were reading the newspaper less and less in an internet age. With the numbers at the Register slipping, it wouldn't be long before layoffs came, and she'd find herself without a job again. At this point, that was unacceptable. After Queen Industries and Luthor Corp had attempted a merger, the fallout of its failure had devastated her husband Oliver's finances and he'd been struggling to restore the company to its former glory.
    He worked tirelessly at it, day after day, and they had been slowly returning to firm footing over the years. Still, he'd sunk the majority of his fortune into doing it, and had in turn gotten them into the sort of debt that could make a person dizzy. Week to week, Chloe chipped in helping with their financial reports, the young couple walking a razor's edge between profit and bankruptcy. They were wealthy only in terms of their stock, and Oliver couldn't sell that off unless he wanted to lose the company for good. Meanwhile, they were busy trying to fund his lifestyle as the Green Arrow, and her extra endeavors assisting those with superhuman abilities. With everything going on, she couldn't afford to simply be without a job.
    That's when it had dawned on her. Instead of waiting for a layoff, she needed to carve a niche for herself at the paper. As a young journalist she'd been on the cutting edge of online media. With her incredibly computer skills and knack for technology, she'd been one of the first to run online blogs, tweet, post youtube video reports and generally use the internet to generate a following. The Star City Register had none of that, and was far behind the Planet in terms of an online presence. So, confident that she could convince her editor that such a role was necessary, she'd put together a presentation to sell her value as an online journalist. She'd stormed her editors office, explained all the ways the Register could start generating online revenue, presented the role she could play in helping the Register generate online traffic, and left the meeting confident she'd earned her way into a pay raise.
    She hadn't, but she'd at least been able to save her job, at least for now. She'd been tasked with generating online reports to go alongside with her normal columns, which basically meant double the work for the same amount of pay. Still, there was a vague promise that at some point she'd be compensated for it, so she'd continued working away at it, filming and uploading her videos, tweeting them out to her followers, maintaining her Facebook page and constantly updating her blog. All while helping with Ollie's finances. And helping superhumans coming to grips with their powers. Not to mention the duties of helping maintain the house, and the occasional intense worrying for Oliver when he went out to fight crime. It was quite the busy life.
    Given all she did, it was nice to occasionally get a break from the normal routine. Still, the sort of break she got that day didn't come along often. Her hands had been flipping through another stack of finance reports when a ping at her computer caught her attention, her eyes moving to the small Skype symbol in the toolbar. She spun her chair around, settling her headset onto her desk and checking to see who was calling. Her eyes squinted as she examined the name in front of her.
    "Lois?"
    An image sprang up on her screen, her cousin's smiling face coming to life. In the background the walls of the Kent apartment were lined with photos of the couple, and Chloe couldn't help but immediately return a smile of her own. "Lois! So glad to see you. You're usually so busy over there at the Planet, I never know when it's a good time to call you."
    "Yeah well, you know, keeping tabs on Lex Luthor's a busy job."
    "I remember, I used to have to do the same thing. So what's up?"
    "Well dear cousin, I was thinking that, maybe, we could help each other out. In fact I think this is something you'd be really keen on. See, we're going after Luthor on some shady business dealing, could be big. Thing is, it's me and Clark working on this, and there's a lot for us to track down. I've got leads to track down out east, Clark's got some things he could follow up on around here, but we'd sure like to have some feet on the ground out where you are. I could ask someone else for help, but on something like this... well, you know, it'd be like the old days. It's big enough for all of us to go after, and it might really help boost your career."
    Chloe let slip a frown at those words, though it was true. The Star City Register was not the Daily Planet, and she was fighting for her job. She could use a big break, and there had been a once-upon-a-time when her, Lois and Clark had all gone up against both Lionel and Lex Luthor, trying to expose the company for its many misdeeds. In retrospect, it'd only been because of Clark's amazing gifts that they'd avoided getting killed. In the years following, only Lex's amnesia of his time in Smallville had prevented an all out conflict between LexCorp and everything Clark held dear. Even without those memories, Lex had still managed to raise hell in Metropolis, both legally and illegally. Sometimes it had been Lois and Clark's investigations that had kept him in check. Other times, it had been nothing less than Clark in the blue suit and red cape. Either way, they'd had to save each other enough times, and if Lois really thought there was something big here, Chloe wanted in on it for a number of reasons.
    "You know Lois, anytime that you give me a chance to go after Lex, I'm going to take it. Yeah, you're right I could use the boost to my career. Papers aren't selling like they used to in Star City. But, I'd help you regardless. So, what is it you're looking into?"
    "Well I don't want to bore you with all the details Chloe. What we're looking at is Lex illegally shifting military contracts to LexCorp to shrink Wayne Enterprise's profits and boost his own. If nothing else, that sort of stain on his rep is exactly what we'd be looking for to get him out of office at the next election."
    "No, I hear where you're coming from, and I agree. Anything that lets us get at Lex, that weasel." She huffed, blowing a few strands of her out of her face. "So I'm guessing there's a few companies out here you want me to investigate."
    "Right. We haven't been able to tie them directly to LexCorp but I'm sure they're just dummy companies to fatten up his bottom line. Technically he's not running things there but we all know he's the hand behind everything they do."
    "Well, I'm not sure about everything. Marcus Tyson may be Lex's stooge, but he's more than capable of acting on his own. I'm not sure how much you know about him, but Tyson's been putting businesses on the map for years, a long time before he met Lex, and it hasn't always looked legal. Besides, have you seen the guy? He's built like a giant, seven feet tall and all muscle. Scary stuff."
    "Chloe, you've got a man who can knock a gun out of a man's hand with his bow and arrows, and I've got one that can fly. I think we come out ahead on this one. Besides, is this Tyson guy smarter than either one of us? I highly doubt it."
    Chloe shook her head, grinning. "Oh Lois, how do I argue that. Anyway, I'm onboard with this idea, I just need you to send me a list of the companies you want me to track down. Bet you I'm still the better journalist and get my information before you get yours."
    Lois cocked an eyebrow, her lips curling upward at her cousin's brashness. "You're on, Chloe. I'm getting a bottle of wine out of this, just so you know."
    "I think I'll be the recipient of that, thanks."
    "Hah, we'll see. Anyway, I'll email you the information in a few minutes. Hope you have the time to jump on this."
    "Not really," she said, holding up a stack of papers. "But I'll find a way to make time. I always do."

  • An ebony moon
    hangs in the sky
    On a dark afternoon
    No one wonders why
    I find you are gone
    I don’t believe its true
    What did I do wrong
    To have gone and lost you
    My bottle got between us
    My smoking did it, too
    The cheating didn’t help
    And now I feel blue
    These dreary Southern skies
    Bring tears to my eyes
    I hang my head and think of you
    And sing these weary blues

    (Guitar solo)

    You act like it meant nothing
    When we first embraced
    When my lips met yours
    and my hands touched your face
    You took my Cadillac
    And my love, it did drown
    You ripped out my poor heart
    And it stomped it on the ground
    These dreary Southern skies
    They bring tears to my eyes
    I hang my head and think of you
    And sing these weary blues.

    I’m bored, so I just wrote an improv blues song.

  • Chapter Two

    "For 100,000 years the people of Krypton spread their influence across the stars, spreading peace and prosperity and presiding over the younger races of the Universe. Most planets they integrated peacefully, merging them into the empire and bringing the scientific and economic benefits of Kryptonian technology and policies. Some, though, resisted, and these Krypton subdued by force. Judging them warlike, or ignorant for their resistance to their plans, Kryptonians brought quick ends to the rebellions that sparked as its began to encompass ever growing numbers of planets. At every turn, Kryptonians truly believed it was better to wage war for a brief time, if only to bring lasting prosperity to the future generations of the conquered races. A Kryptonian's greatest weakness is the one he is least aware of: his pride in thinking he or she knows better than those less advanced."

    - Jor-El

    Warm sunlight poured down over the golden wheat fields of Kansas, a gentle wind sweeping the tops of the stalks and sending a wave through the fields that carried onward to the fence separating the Kent farm from its acreage. A two story structure that sat adjacent to a red barn, it was something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, a picture of American life from a bygone era. Time stood still on the Kent property, far enough from Metropolis that its towering spires were not visible on the horizon, but close enough to feel the effects of its business and political decisions. Jonathan Kent had spent the better part of his life defending the farm, bring in the crops year to year, following in his own father's footsteps. It hadn't always been easy. Lionel Luthor had, at one point, aggressively sought to buy out his property and that of his neighbors. They'd been squeezed as the agricultural giant had tried to monopolize the farming industry in Smallville. Still, they'd emerged triumphant. After Lionel's death, it seemed that Lex would be content moving LexCorp in a different direction, investing heavily into military contracts. That didn't mean the Kent family had it easy.

    The sound of the front door clicking open caught Jon by surprise, and he quickly shuffled a stack of papers away, stuffing them into the drawer beneath the kitchen counter. His face shot upward as the image of his son appeared in the kitchen doorway, his lovely wife beside him. Even if Clark hadn't been blessed with amazing superpowers, his physical frame was that of an athlete. Jon could remember the day his son had grown taller than him, and he'd been forced to start looking up to see into Clark's eyes. Then there were the broad shoulders, and that barrel chest. It hadn't been a surprise when he'd been asked to play football for the Smallville Crows, but Jonathan had opposed it from the start. He knew what would happen if Clark lost control, even for a second. It was something his son had only barely begun to understand at the time but that he now fully contemplated. After all, Clark was flying all over the world these days, saving people. He knew his own powers better than Jon could have ever imagined doing.

    "Clark!" the old man exclaimed as he crossed over to his son, the two embracing each other tightly for a moment. Jon was still a muscle of a man, even if those muscles were weakening with age, and he held a tight grip on his son for just an instant. "Glad you came to pay a visit." His face skipped over to Lois, her bright smile shining in the sun. He could still remember when they'd invited her to live with them on the farm, while she got her footing. Now her and his son were married. "Please, Lois. Hope you're not causing too much trouble for my boy up in Metropolis."

    "Are you kidding me Mr. Kent? Clark gets into enough trouble without my help."

    Clark shook his head, removing the glasses from his face and tucking them into the breast pocket of his suit. "Is that what today's going to be?" he asked with a smile, lightly punching at his father's shoulder. "Pile on Clark day? Because I think I can handle my own."

    Pa Kent smiled as he turned to the side, heading toward the rear door of the kitchen. "I don't doubt that, Clark. "You've proven it enough over the years." He yanked on the handle of the screen door and stuck his head out for just a moment. "Martha! Lois and Clark are here." Jon hauled himself back inside, turning toward the pair. "She's been splitting time between working out in the garden and cooking up dinner. That woman was always the hardest worker I ever knew."

    "That's moment alright," Clark replied with a shake of his head, his eyes darting toward the kitchen counter for just a moment. "I'm guessing she's excited with Thanksgiving just around the corner?"

    "Oh, you bet Clark. You know how much your mom loves the holidays. She's already got a turkey lined up over at Jerry Lowell's far, so you'd better be on time when it rolls around."

    "Short of an alien invasion, I think I'll be able to manage getting here for Thanksgiving turkey," he said, grinning as he walked over to the table, hand resting at his stomach. "Thanksgiving dinner's a while away though. Let's focus on tonight's dinner. I'm starving, and there's nothing as good as mom's cooking." His eyes moved to Lois, whose smirk was boring into the side of his head. "Sorry, Lois."

    "It's fine Clark," she said as she folded her arms at her waist, leaning back against the frame of the doorway. "But next time you want one of my amazing microwave dinners, you'd better be prepared to use that heat vision of yours, because I'm not opening one of those for you."

    *****

    Dinner had run late, as it usually did when the Kents had Clark over, and night had fallen on the farm. Plates were still sitting out, cleaned of their contents, a few spare bread rolls heaped in a basket at the center of the table. Shelby, their family dog, had been excited to see Clark at the start of dinner, but as the hours rolled by had settled onto his stomach, lying at the side of Clark's chair at the table. Years before they'd save the poor dog from a series of experiments that had used Kryptonite to try and give the dog super powers, but the effect had been temporary. Ever since, Shelby had been a part of the family, and had aged gracefully as an icon of the Kent farm.

    Martha Kent, as always, had been overjoyed to see her son. Almost as soon as she'd entered the kitchen she'd moved straight from hugging him to preparing to serve dinner, which Clark had insisted on helping with. She'd resisted, on principal, but had given in with only a bit of prodding. As a mother, she took whatever time she could with her son. Still, the conversation that dominated the night, of Lois and Clark's upcoming investigation into LexCorp's potential contract manipulation, hadn't been pleasant. They all retained bad memories of when Lex had been a perennial figure in the town.

    Martha shook her head. "Even at his best, you always felt something dark inside of him. I just couldn't help feel, though, that somehow we could save him from his father's influence." She turned to her husband, a hand gesturing outside. "Jon, you remember when he was staying here, after his father disowned him? He was as hard a worker as any farm hand we've ever hand. I remember him doing backbreaking work out there, trying to earn his keep."

    Jonathan nodded, though his face was grim. "That was the good Lex, something we didn't see enough of. Look, we all know, there's no such thing as a purely good or purely evil man. We all do things we're not proud of, but it's how we respond, what we do as a whole, that determines how people judge us." His eyes shifted to Clark, hands folding on the table. "Son, you tried more than anyone to get Lex to see the light. I'm not saying you always made the right decisions, but Lex never had the right to blame you for his downfall the way he did. Regardless of whether you weren't always truthful with him, that didn't give him an excuse to do the things he did, and he constantly used your secrecy as a reason to continue in his downward spiral. Honestly? That's a coward."

    Clark couldn't meet his father's gaze, instead looking just aside, out the window and into the field. "Yeah, I know dad. I had to keep trying though. I couldn't just let him become like his father. But, I guess I wasn't as successful as I'd hoped I'd be. In the end, Lex isn't just like his father. He's worse."

    "That he is, son." He leaned back in the chair, hand locked in front of him. "I'm just glad he doesn't remember his time here in Smallville. Even not knowing your identity, he's caused you enough trouble in Metropolis over the years since then. Let's forget the villains he's hired or the machines he's created to fight you, we're talking about a guy that's figured out your weakness to Kryptonite. And he's president of the United States? His reelection is coming up next year. If you two can come up with something to get him out of office, you need to go for it. I'm as forgiving as the next man but Lex is way beyond forgiveness."

    "I know dad. I know." He sighed, his barrel chest heaving upward as he did, eyes still locked on the evening outside.

    "You still want to save him."

    Clark turned to his father, nodding. "I wasn't sent here just to inspire good people, dad. If I can somehow change people like Lex, then anything's possible."

    "I'm just not sure you can do it at this point, Clark. He's too far down his own, twisted path." At that, silence hung in the air between the small group, each of them at a loss for words. Finally, Jon pushed his chair away from the table, getting to his feet. "Hey, enough of that talk. I've got to take care of checking the grounds before I go to sleep, but I'll be back in a few minutes." His feet carried him to the rear door, but he flicked a finger backward at his son, winking. "If you leave before I'm back you're not welcome at Thanksgiving dinner, got that?"

    "Got it dad," Clark said, his smile returning as he watched his father dissapear outside. For a moment he hesitated, listening until he knew his dad was far away enough that he could start talking again. He leaned into the table, staring at his mother. "Mom. What's wrong with dad?"

    Distracted, she glanced at him, her hand running through her hair until she'd wrapped her fingers around the back of her neck. "I don't know what you mean?"

    "Mom. It's me," he said, gesturing at himself. "When I came in, I could hear dad stuffing papers pretty quickly into the kitchen drawer. I hear his heart beating pretty quick, not to mention see it. His pulse was up, his breathing was shallow. What was he looking at that had him so upset?"

    Ma Kent looked aside toward the kitchen drawer for just a moment, sighing. She knew she couldn't lie to Clark, not if he really wanted to know the truth. "Clark, the truth is that things aren't good for us here on the farm right now. Money's tight."

    "Tight?" Clark sat back. "How? What's going on? Things have been great ever since Lex got out of the agriculture business."

    "Yeah, well, he's not the only business man that wants in on Smallville's farming business."

    "There's somebody new?"

    "Well, not a someone. A something. It's an agriculture company called Miles Farming and Agriculture. Farming's tough, Clark. You know that. To bring a crop to harvest you've got to make sure insects don't kill them, and a lot of pesticides are illegal, plus unhealthy. Your father and I don't want to be selling bad food, but the only alternative in this area is Miles. They've got these seeds we basically have to use, designed to resist insects, but also to resist a type of pesticide that Miles sells. So we have to use Miles' seeds, and their pesticide. It's expensive, plus we can't reuse the seeds the following year, so we end up having to buy even more from them. You keep doing that year after year and, well, it's going to be hard to run a family farm like this. Miles has been buying up all the old Luthor Corp plots that were scattered after Lex left the farming business, making huge farms where they can raise their own crops and bring them to market. We have to buy from them, then we have to compete against them, and to be honest with you it's driving us into bankruptcy. I'm not sure how we hold out much longer."

    Clark shook his head, eyes boring into his mother's. "That's legal? How can the government be okay with allowing a company to force its products on people, not to mention compete against them in business? That means Miles will always have a cheaper product."

    "And always undersell us. Your dad thinks the only way for us to survive is to go the organic route, since it's the complete opposite of what Miles does, but that's going to take a huge investment. All natural routes to combat pests, new types of natural seeds to replace Miles' genetically modified ones, and all sorts of other things." He shoulder hung, her face falling as she struggled for words. "We didn't want to bother you with it Clark, but we may not have the farm after this year."

    "No. No, that's not right." He looked over to Lois, hesitant, his hand moving to envelope her. "Lois, I know I said I'd help you on this case with LexCorp, and I will. It's just..."

    Lois smiled, lowering her head slightly. "Smallville, come on, you don't have to explain anything to me. I get it, you need to take a second to look into this Miles company. I got it. I mean, I'd rather have you on the LexCorp case with me than not, but this is something you've got to handle." She turned to look over at Martha, still trying to appear chipper. "Mrs. Kent, I know me and Clark have spent all night talking about how we need to go after this Luthor case, but I don't like big companies bullying anyone."

    Martha looked up, a smile returning to her face, though it was faint. "Thank you Lois, you've always been so kind." Her eyes went between the two of them, that smile widening slightly. "Look you two, the farm's okay for the rest of the year. Don't give up on this LexCorp case, Clark. Your father wouldn't want that, and neither do I. Lex can't be allowed to have that much power, that's something we all know, so you've got to get to the bottom of it."

    Clark shook his head. "Mom, it's not one or the other. Lois was thinking about heading out east to do most of her footwork, and I was going to stick around here, anyway. I can work at both of these. I'm the fastest man in the world, remember?"

    Lois looked aside at her husband, a slight grin on her face. "Are you, Clark? I think Bart might have something to say about that."

    "Hey, what?" he protested, shooting Lois an offended look. "Now, listen, Bart just surprised me during that race, that's all. I underestimated him because I didn't know just how fast he could go, oaky? How was I even supposed to know?"

    She held her hands up, shrugging, her grin never fading. "Hey Clark, I'm just stating what happened, that's all. Prove me wrong. I believe in you, after all, I just, you know, need the proof."

    Clark turned away, silently fuming as the two women at the table shared a laugh at his expense. He sighed, finally allowing himself a laugh, the family ending the night on a high note.

    *****

    Oliver Queen rubbed a green leather encased hand through his spiky blonde hair, shaking his head at his wife who, he'd just now learned, was about to embark in an investigative case that might involve Lex Luthor, former CEO of LexCorp, now president of the United States, and often times villain that had gone to war against both him and Clark in the past.

    "This feels like the 2000s, you know that?" he asked, watching her wrap a brown trench coat around her frame as he sat at the edge of their bed. "I mean, I know you're here in Star City to do investigate journalism, but I thought at least we'd moved past this phase."

    She glanced over her shoulder, smiling because she knew he was feigning his protest. "And what phase would that be?"

    "Oh, you know, the 'Clark is the world's hero, Lex is his ultimate villain, but for some reason, despite the fact he can move a mountain, go without breathing, and run faster than sound, he needs people like you and Lois to help him take Lex down' phase. That's the phase I pretty much thought we'd gotten past. He's got the blue and red on these days, you know."

    Chloe turned fully to face her husband, a brown fedora in her hand that she brought to her head, tipping its edge down so that it slanted across her eyes. "How do I look?"

    He tossed a hand up, flustered. "Uh, like a sexy Humphry Bogart, if that makes any sense?"

    "Glad to know you think the star of Casablanca is sexy."

    "Veeeery funny, Chloe."

    "I know." She took a few steps toward him, setting her hands on his shoulders. "It's cute when you think you can stop me from doing something, you know?"

    "Honestly, at this point, I don't realistically think I can get you to change your mind about anything once you've got it made up," he said, settling his hands on her hips as he looked up into her eyes. "So where's my beautiful investigator going tonight?"

    "Oh, a few places. This is a reconnaissance mission Mr. Queen, so I'm just scouting a few locations around the city Lois wanted me to look into. I'll get a bit more in depth with my investigations once I know what I'm looking for."

    "And you think the 1920's gumshoe look is the way to stay under cover while you're snooping around the city?"

    She faked a frown, grabbing the top of her hat and tossing it into the corner of the room. "I'll have you know it's getting cold and rainy outside. I'll leave the hat behind, but the coat's coming with me. Besides, who are you, of all people, to criticize how I stay inconspicuous? You're the one trying to hide in the shadows while you're wearing a garish green hood and a bow and arrow. At least Batman wears black."

    Oliver shook his head at the mention, flustered. "That guy stole my shtick, you know that?"

    "Yeah, yeah Ollie, you only remind me at least once a week."

    "It's true! We're talking about a guy who, if the reports are right, is basically running around his hometown without any superpowers and using fancy tricks and gadgets to track down criminals. That was my shtick!"

    "Hate to tell you darling, but I think his a little more popular at the moment. See, that's one thing you don't have that Superman and Batman do. They've got symbols, so it's easy to sell them. You don't."

    "Oh, I'm sorry, when I was investing my fortune into developing advanced weapons for fighting crime, I didn't realize I'd have to spare some money for marketing. Besides, those two clowns are running around town with terrible costumes. One's got an S on his chest, the other's got a bat. How original. At least I look like I'm the spirit of Robin Hood."

    She laughed as she stepped away from her husband, returning to the dresser. "Alright big shot, I get it, you're the original costumed crusader of our modern era."

    "Well it's true, isn't it? I was wearing the green tights a long time before Clark dared to put on his blue ones."

    "No, I'll give you that, you were the first." Chloe smiled as her fingers sorted through a number of items laid out on the dresser's surface, picking up a comb and some chapstick. "So where are you off to tonight? Got any leads or are you winging it tonight?"

    "Actually, I thought it was funny you mentioned you were investigating some companies around town, because I'm sort of doing the same. I've got word on some pretty heavy duty tech being shipped in, nothing too dangerous on its own but when you combine it all together, I don't know. It just looks suspicious, since it's all coming in at the same time, even if it's through different sources. I get the feeling that somebody's trying to stay out of the spotlight. By ordering all these parts from different sources and having them shipped in from different places, it'd be easy to miss if they were building something dangerous."

    "Any names you've got to follow?"

    "Nobody

  • I miss DAISHI. His writing is freaking fantastic.

  • Well, I occasionally write as well. In fact, I've just finished a novel a month ago. I'm still looking into publishing options.

    In other words, Dagoncroft is a short story I've written. I've been wanting to write this for a very long time now, and now seems to be the right time.

    Oh, and I'm also planning on doing a 14 days of Valentines, which is basically me writing an anthology bundle thingy for two weeks.

    EDIT: Screw this, I'll just post it here. I've been wanting to stress-test the Markdown on this forums anyway.


    Dear Mr. and Mrs. Dagoncroft, I am so sorry, but what I have seen I cannot bear to live with. When you read this, you have already found my lifeless body hanging from the balcony, for what I have witnessed will forever be ingrained in my memories. I thank you and your ancestors for your kindness, you have always been right to all your employees, so forgive me for what I have done, but more importantly for what I have to say. I do not know what your dear daughter lady Marion is, but I am most certain that she is not human.[break]

    It should have been obvious really for everyone who has seen her. Those pitch black eyes this young girl possesses, and that pale skin, everybody describes her as a very beautiful young girl, and they are right, I cannot deny that. But even for a Dagoncroft her beauty is something that's rather unnatural.

    I have served the Dagoncroft family for three generations, starting when I was a young boy. During my life I have encounter things that no man should have to see. Aside from all the dread that would surround this house, a feeling everybody shares save for those inducted in the Dagoncroft family, I have seen things, heard things. To this day I still was not sure whether it was all real or just a figment of my imagination, but I'd like to believe I am just turning mad.

    I have witnessed objects being displaced, sometimes finding them in places no human, at least no sane human, would voluntarily go to. I have heard voices, seen figures even, some resembling the family members I have seen in the pictures. One time I even thought I saw the image of the long lost first Dagoncroft, Lynora Dagoncroft, whose disappearance will stay a mystery.

    But what I have witnessed last night has shaken my beliefs. But what more, it confirms what many had thought before, that the family gets aid by someone or something from the other side.

    I knew that night that I should have stayed in my bed. It was a request by you, although not a demand, so I was always free to do as I pleased. That night I had to go, however, due to the diuretics my doctor had proscribed. I knew you had said you would make the necessary preparations the day I got these medicines, which had stricken me as odd, but I assured you there was no need for any preparations, at least none that I needed. However, you insisted.

    However, these preparations weren't made for me, apparently they were for the young lady Marion. Bars were placed on each window of her bedroom, and a lock was placed on her bedroom door. You said it would be for her own safety, and gave me the key for whenever I would put her in bed, so that I could lock the door whenever I was done.

    It was that night when I had forgotten about locking the door. I had already gotten out of bed and went to my personal bathroom, when I heard it again. It was a soft banging, as if someone wanted to get in from the outside. This sound had only been since these bars were added to the young lady's windows, so I always figured that these bars worked. I would then hear the sound of handles being pulled, and this time was no different.

    Something seemed off though. This time the routine seemed a bit on the short side. I tried to finish it up as quickly as possible, then took my lantern and went to the hallway. I looked, and could not see anything. I was about to turn around when suddenly I felt something rushing behind me. I froze, did not want to know what it was, but quickly decided to get back to bed.

    I then laid in my bed, having extinguished my lights. It was cold, as if I left a window open. In fact, one was open, but I was sure I kept it closed. I looked for a bit, and noticed something. I could not see what it was, not only was it too dark, but I also needed my glasses. I quickly but quietly took my glasses and put them on.

    There I saw it, as clear as day, fully lit by the moonlight. The creature had long and slender arms, sometimes appearing to have more than the regular pair of limbs. Its long dark hair was waving in the wind, and when it turned around to look at me, I could immediately recognize the pitch black eyes, and the way she looked at me, with her sad eyes. These eyes then quickly turned more sinister, as her mouth contorted into a smile, her voice sounding demonic as she quietly began to laugh. I could see lady Marion climb outside and let out a loud howl before passing out.

    I swear on my soul that what I saw was real. I do not know what she is or how she came to be, but every time I look at her I cannot help but think of the horrors that lie within this girl. So please, forgive me.

  • I'd be around a lot more if I could look at this forums on my phone :P

    That said, my agent is still negotiating for the publication of my book.

  • Good to see you again. Everyone's pretty much retreated to Double Fine Forums.

  • Okay, so, time to post my three-parter into one.

    You can find the original story here:

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3


    == Mahnorrak ==

    Death loomed at every corner, as Mahnorrak, the Death God, lurked in the shadows. It's an old belief on Zholhu, and unfortunately the death part seems to be true. In every street there is the awkward silence, which only gets broken by the footsteps of bypassers. Nobody really makes small talks, at least not in Darrow. Not even the rising industry improved the situation, in fact, it seems to be worse than ever. Crime rates have gone up, and everywhere there are thugs. Most are just there to beat you to a pulp, so that they can take your valuables, but you also have those that hide and wait for their next victim, either to kill them or to rape them before killing them. Yes, Mahnorrak is having a wonderful time here.

    It was cold. I remember going to some friends, who were engaged. Yeah, friends. You don't really get to make them on Zholhu. Nobody here trusts each other, so meeting new people pretty much is a challenge for most. I myself met my friends at kindergarten, and we've stuck with each other ever since.

    It was only a few blocks when I heard something from an alley, a woman screaming for help. It was common knowledge to never follow these pleas, as you might find yourself to be the target as well, so I didn't really know what I was thinking when I did run towards the sound. Once there, I found a group of three men trying to rape this woman. I stayed in the shadow, silently took a stray pipe. Any piece of debris would do, you could find anything and use it as a weapon in any part of the streets. Discarded boards with spikes, broken baseball clubs, the occasional crowbar. Even a regular piece of wood would suffice most of the time, as a swift swing to the face would be enough to at least incapacitate a moderately sized thug. I myself was just lucky I found this lead pipe.

    I slowly moved towards the gang, as the woman was begging for help, crying. They were already in the process of ripping her clothes off, when I swung my makeshift weapon. A loud snap was heard as I broke the neck of the first thug. This was the first time I took the life of someone. I had no time to let it sink, though, as the other two were storming at me. I quickly took a swing again, and bashed the head in of another thug. The third one unfortunately was able to take a swing at me, knocking me off my feet. He came at me, at which I instinctively kicked his crown jewels. He hunched over, which allowed me to charge at him, knock him over. I then furiously punched him in the face several times, until he didn't seem to be moving anymore. I got up, stood over him, and then looked at the woman, who was now terrified. I looked back at the thug, his eyes half-open, still breathing. I knew I should have kept him alive, but my body did otherwise. I lifted my foot, put it on his throat, and kicked his throat in. I'd like to think Mahnorrak was pleased.

    She was still lying on the floor, between the trash and filth, only small splatters of blood covering her. I tried to help her up, but she appeared to be scared of me. I reassured her that no harm would befall her. She hesitated a bit, then slowly stretched out her arm, and I helped her up. There was no way she could walk the streets like that, her clothes all torn up, certain parts exposed. I took off my coat, and at first she backed off, but then I handed her my coat. It was only then I noticed that I was covered in blood. Not my blood, of course, but still, it really looked bad.

    I remember when Katrina opened the door, and was shocked. She immediately called Francis, and we were both rushed inside.

    "What happened?" Francis said. I told him the entire story. I knew they wouldn't like it at all, but Katrina remained calm.

    "It was all in self-defense," Katrina said, or at least something similar to that. "Just remember that. Without you she would have died."

    Katrina then left to get us some clean clothes.

    "What were you doing in a place like this, anyway?" Francis said. "At this time a woman like you shouldn't be walking the streets."

    The woman then said, "I was looking for help."

    "What kind of help?" I asked.

    She didn't say anything for a while, most likely because she didn't want to burden us with her problems, but eventually she said, "I'm looking for something. Some place, actually."

    "And where is this place?" I asked, curious of what she had to say.

    She replied, "I have reasons to believe this place is below Darrow."

    Now Darrow had a long history, starting out as a small town, growing into a big city, until a great fire burned most of it to the ground. A new city was built on top of these ruins, but the cleanup did uncover an underground city, a place where most scum reside. Most of these hideouts were closed off, many collapsed in the following years, but nobody knows the exact amount of passages that are found underneath this city, never mind how many are still left. It had been documented that these big tunnels couldn't have been made by humans, that these tunnels were there for centuries, even before the first Urudo or Oukora set foot on Zholhu.

    "Why do you need help?" Francis asked.

    "For obvious reasons," Katrina responded. "These underground passageways are dangerous. Even if you ignore all the muggers, murderers or rapists, these tunnels are unstable, they can cave in any moment now. Which is why we need to know. Why is it important for you to get there?"

    "It's because I only have a few days to live," she said.

    We all remained silent for a while. I might not have remembered what they said exactly, but those are the only words I really remember. "It's because I only have a few days to live." Those were here exact words. If she didn't say that Katrina wouldn't have said she'd help her out, and Francis wouldn't have gone as well. I myself already made my choice. The moment I killed the three men, I already had decided to protect her to the end.

    We went to the Darrow cathedral. It was one of the places that was still left standing after the great fire. It hadn't been in use for a very long time, but it was relatively in good shape, or at least from the outside. I assume it's because the Dagoncroft family has maintained the place for all these times, likely because this was the last place where the first Dagoncroft was seen before her disappearance.

    Nowadays the cathedral is used as a place to sleep for wallers, madmen who keep saying the same thing over and over again, referring to pages of non-existent books, or talking about buttons and keys. They were unsettling, but nothing to be afraid of. Many were too preoccupied with their own thoughts to notice others. It gave us enough room to explore.

    We went downstairs, as that would be the main place to find any secret passageway. There was no electricity here, so we had to take a torch with us. If I had known we would end up here, I would have taken a flashlight, but right at this moment, we had to do with a torch.

    "Where do we need to be now?" I asked. She showed me pages which she copied from a book she found in the Dagoncroft Library. There was some sort of map which corresponded to the layout of the cathedral. I wasn't sure if we really had to be at the basement, which appeared to be a wine cellar. We walked around until we found the spot we were supposed to be. It didn't look right, as there was no place to go from here. All we saw were some large vats where wine would be stored. She insisted though that this was the place.

    I looked around for a bit, and then noticed something. There was one of these vats that seemed particularly close to the wall, almost as if it was embedded inside it. I tried to move it, but then gave up due to how heavy it was. It then occurred to me to try to open it from the front. My hunch was correct. The entire vat was an entrance to a passageway. One by one we all entered, and because I was the last one, I closed the vat.

    The tunnels really did look like something that was not from this world. There were arches everywhere, and the grooves seemed to be glowing although it might have just been a mind trick. It didn't feel old, in fact, it felt like something you'd find on Chakar, or maybe Craneus, yet the way it was built did felt ancient.

    We silently moved along. There were various splits, but fortunately for us, the notes she brought along gave us help. The right path was marked with a certain glyph. At times we had to hide, as we seemed to heard something, mainly criminals. There was still this eerie feeling that something was following us, and at times, I almost seemed to see something behind me, trying to grab me.

    It seemed like hours, but finally we made it down to a large cave. The path we were on was high above a big chasm, but it was wide enough for us to cross it safely. The cave was particularly dark. Only the light of our torch lit up the place around us. The path took us further down, until we finally reached the bottom of the chasm. We all looked around, and then noticed light coming from a path. We silently went there, expecting there to be a group of bandits. Instead what we found amazed us.

    Instead of a campfire or other things you could find in an ordinary cave, we instead found an entire ecosystem with its own source of light, even seemingly an entire sky. If you wouldn't know any better you would think you had found the exit. It was still clear though that we were still inside, as we could see the rock ceiling. The illusion was caused by a thick mist or fog hanging on the ceiling, creating clouds of various colors. I wasn't sure where the light came from, but it was bright enough to light this massive place, which seemed to be going on forever.

    It took us about an hour before we found the perfect place to rest for the day. There was enough foliage to hide in, in case somebody would walk by us. I looked at my friends, who seemed to have a good time together. They did realize the dangers that lied on our path, but as long as they got each other, they wouldn't care much.

    She was standing at a cliff, looking out at the view. There was this sadness in her eyes.

    As she stared, she said to me, "Thanks for, well..."

    I smiled to her, and said, "It's what people should do for each other, help."

    "No, not that. I mean, back then I was vulnerable, you could have taken advantage of me."

    "Well, maybe you were just lucky enough that I'm not really into women."

    She looked at me for a while, then smiled. "Well, I guess I was lucky."

    She began to stare again in the distance. "I guess this really puts things into perspective."

    "What do you mean?" I asked.

    "Well, you never really know what it is to be assaulted until you've experienced it yourself. I mean, especially for..." She paused.

    "For what?"

    "Never mind." She went back to the rest.

    We were all pretty tired. We haven't slept for quite some time, so it was nice to take a short rest. For a while, everybody was vast asleep, but for some reason I woke up early. I don't know if it was the light or something else, but I couldn't fall asleep again. There was this feeling that we were being followed by somebody, I just wasn't sure. The place we took our rest was literally walled off, nobody could ambush us without me noticing, and there was nobody on the road.

    I carefully crawled out to take a better look, but when I turned around to go back I could briefly see the face of a woman staring right at me. It was the kind of face you'd see on a corpse that had been laying out in the open for quite some time, almost decomposed, but still in a state where that person was recognizable. Needless to say I was startled, but it only took one blink and she was gone.

    I wasn't sure whether I should tell the others or not, but I didn't want to worry them too much. For all we know she was just a figment of my imagination. Either way, we moved on. I wasn't sure how long it would take before we would get where we needed to be. My two friends were still motivated to go through, holding hand all the way. I myself walked besides the woman. She told me her name was Nora, although she wasn't exactly sure what her last name was.

    I noticed that this underground place held more than just plant life. There were species of birds I haven't seen on Zholhu before, and I assumed there was also life on the ground below us. I was curious what was there, but we had no reason to climb down. Sometimes I could hear the stomping of a large animal, accompanied by trees moving. There were also monkey-like creatures sitting on the tree tops.

    In the hours that passed Nora had grown onto me. I wasn't sure why. It wasn't a physical attraction, but something about her was different, off. There were times when I just straight out wanted to ask her, but I didn't want to sound rude. Eventually though, when we found another place to rest, I found the right question to ask.

    "Where exactly are you taking us?" I asked.

    "I guess it's only fair to answer that question," she said. "I... have to be honest. I wasn't born in this body."

    Her answer shocked me. "What do you mean?"

    "This place where you're taking me, if I don't get there on time, I will die, for real this time. I'm already dead."

    I was at a loss of words. Now I know that the way I worded it here doesn't make it sound spectacular, but the way she said it, it's hard to put it down in words.

    She explained further. "Long before you met me, I was a young man. I'm not even sure who I used to be, it was a long time ago, but I do remember that I was killed during a ritual on Phandagron. I believe I was born there as well. That is all I remember. I remember dying, and my body being turned to nothing but a shell, a burnt husk. I'm not even sure if they cremated me, but there was no way I would get back to my old body. I also slightly remember that something was taking me away, leaving me in complete darkness. A few decades later I found my soul on Zholhu, right when she, Nora, was raped and killed herself. All I knew was that I had to go here with her body, and that he was going to give me mine back."

    "Who is he?" I asked.

    "I don't know. He was the one who preserved my soul for all these years."

    "And you've remained in darkness all this time?"

    "Yes. It seemed like ages. It did do something to me, though, it made me forget the pain I felt when I died."

    I was horrified. I didn't want to know what she, or rather, he had been going through.

    "So," I said. "What's going to happen once we get there?"

    "I don't know," he said. "I'll hopefully become a man again, I guess. Nora will probably get hers back as well."

    I still wasn't sure what we would find there, but we all just moved along. I couldn't help but look back every once in a while, though. It was as if something was behind me all the time, and at times I could almost see it, but just as I noticed something, it disappeared.

    After a few more hours we entered yet another cave. It was still lit, but the mood was much more grim, and the environment was really damp and cold. Huge rock walls were blocking the sight of what might have been ahead of us. In the shadow I could see things moving. I wasn't sure if it were rodents or other creatures that have yet to be discovered, but it was making everybody uncomfortable. I once again looked behind me, and again, for a moment, I thought I saw something, except this time I could see more clearly who that figure was. It was the same ghostly lady I've seen earlier.

    It was getting late again, or at least it felt like it was really late. We were all tired, so we searched around for somewhere to hide. There were various holes in the walls, and most of them could function as places we could rest in, so we chose one where we would be able to hide from sight, where we could finally make a small campfire without being seen. It wouldn't be easy to make one, especially with the humidity of the air, but we had to try.

    Our meal wasn't grand. We didn't pack a lot of food, but what we had was sufficient, it would last us for a few more days. After the meal, I noticed my friends had already dozed off together. I then looked at the man in Rosa's body. I got closer, wanting to ask how he felt, but then noticed that the body was beginning to turn cold. I asked how he was holding up, but he was fine. Strange. It's rare to refer to someone as a male when that person's in a woman's body, but he preferred to be referred as that.

    "Why don't you have somebody yet?" he said.

    I thought for a while, then replied, "I'm not sure how it is for the other planets, but on Zholhu we don't really hook up, especially not, well..."

    "You mean gay people?" he said. "Well, in that regard, Phandagron is a better place. Maybe you should consider moving there. Who knows, maybe, well, you and I..."

    "I think those are just the female hormones talking," I said.

    "I don't think so." He smiled.

    It wasn't long before we moved on again. We were all a bit tired from our journey, so we hoped that this would finally be it. This would be the final stretch, and it didn't take long before we finally reached another big cave, with at the end a temple. That would be our goal.

    We hurried to the temple, but I noticed the man inside Nora's body was falling behind, as if it was beginning to fall apart. It was already starting to become pale and a bit stiff, but we couldn't stop now. I carried him the rest of the way, while my friends moved ahead.

    "I was serious back then," he said. "I know it's my own feelings."

    "How are you sure?" I asked.

    "I just know it. I'm already in the process of departing this body. I'm not even sure we're going to make it."

    I quickened my pace. "We are going to make it, I promise."

    My friends were already inside, but when I got closer, I heard a scream. I was about to rush in, when I felt something was stopping me. I looked behind me, and I could see it was the spirit of a woman.

    "Nora," he said. I could now see it more clearly. It indeed was Nora.

    "I need to help my friends," I said. "Something's happening there."

    "I know," I heard her whisper. "But it will kill you. It will kill you without our help."

    I was unsure what she meant, but all of a sudden a mist fell down, darker than the darkest night. She pulled my arm, and we went inside. It felt really heavy to move, as if I was walking through a thick fluid. I also noticed that her body wasn't moving anymore.

    "Don't worry," she whispered. "We've only stalled the process."

    Everything around me went dizzy. I was starting to see things, visions of people, wailing, screaming, stretching out, either trying to pull me in or trying to get out. I wasn't sure what it was. I could hear the pleads of help.

    We entered the temple. I could now see why I heard screaming. I could see Francis and Katrina, and various bandits, at least ten. Two were holding Francis down with a knife, while three others were holding Katrina, trying to rape her in front of her fiance. Everything was standing still though.

    "Time has stopped," I said to myself.

    "Time needs to be stopped," Nora whispered. "My body wouldn't have lasted long enough otherwise."

    I was about to break my friends free, when Nora stopped me.

    "A single touch can have consequences," she whispered.

    She floated to a bandit that was neither touching Francis nor Katrina. She might not have had a solid form normally, but in this state her touch could be felt, and when she did touch that bandit,

  • Well, I finally finished Telltale Murder Mystery. And now I've been asked to write four sequels by some other guys. Ain't writing grand?

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