Out in the Field

Photo by Erika Garcia on Unsplash


“Cockroaches.”

The silence hung in the dense air, cloistered in the darkness like a waiting beast.

“You are describing an insect, c-cccccorrect?” Came a jagged reply from the deep void in front of them; the speaker – an old-world machine they had barely gotten working – spat and fizzed when it spoke, if it did at all.

They were fine with that. The summer sun had finally dipped down, and the cool of night’s shade was a balm. Talking to the dark was a strange comfort, so far from home.

Read more

Old Wounds, Fresh Faces

The rain was heavy with purpose, landing with resounding thuds all around them; Taks thought it might be trying to cleanse the ground of battle, to remove old sins from the soil and soak the earth with hope instead. Maybe it was sick of the old world’s scars and wanted to wipe the slate clean.

With what had happened here, that was a losing battle in itself.

“Taks, damnit!” Marta bellowed as the tarp Taks had been holding slipped and flapped in the wind. “Hold it steady! Hog’s teeth, I don’t want to spend all night at it!”

Their mind was wandering again. Taks half-yelled an apology that was eaten by the storm and groped in the dim light for the tarp’s edge. Their fingers connected with the Orb’s eerie metallic surface, centuries of detail exposed to the brutal elements; it still felt hot even after so much time. They helped Marta stake down the rest of the tarp in embarrassed silence, covering the gaping hole in the Orb’s top; of the field’s choices, this one had the most intact structure, which wasn’t saying much.

Read more

Pluto’s Shore

“At last I’ve found your heart, O Dreadnought”,
Came my shout from far below;
There came a roar so deep and dark
It shook the walls, to and fro

“And with my teeth, I tear at thee,”
My cry did tremble on,
“To end this cruel and miserable war;
To finally call it won!”

Without a moment to think it through,
My mouth found purchase: veins, flesh
And I did sink those pale white stones
To reap reward, to rip and thresh

The beast’s cries drove me, madder and faster;
Its path had not changed a degree.
And so I chewed and gnashed and clawed
To be certain it would never be

This behemoth, this monolith, this absolute Monster;
It wore its intentions plain
Though it bore no hatred, no malice, in truth,
Its actions proved horrid, disgusting; Profane.

I alone had survived this terrible plunge
My shipmates left dead in my wake
And I dove and I tore into hell’s bosom, praying
That soon, too, my own soul it would take

The beast was flagging, its dread pace slowed
I could taste my victory, bittersweet,
As it stumbled, and tumbled, down shores under sea;
The world gave way beneath our feet

And the Sound! By the lord, it gave thunder a fright
When that beast did let loose a death knell
The sheer weight of defeat bore it straight, deep down
When that beast finally, truly fell.

So I sing to my people, my friends, my dear loves
We have done what you asked, and more
But I beg of you, implore you, take care below;
Beware old Pluto’s Shore.

LOG 4101.16.14

// LOG 4101.16.14
// USER: -Exobiologist Ve’ran Gazzwelle-
// WARNING: LOG CONTAINS CORRUPTED SECTORS; DATA LOSS: 41%
// LOG BEGINS

// [ExoBio Ve’ran Gazzwelle] <The moss we’ve seen here is not native to this region, and it doesn’t have a clear reproductive process. Normally, we could grow it in the lab from a spore or even a small fragment->

// [Unknown] <indistinct chatter>

Read more

The Swirling Dark – a Void Cavalcade story

This story takes place in my scifi setting for the game “The Void Cavalcade” that I GM. The party has just pulled off a heist to kidnap a local crime magnate, an alien named Rekkis. This tells what happened to them after the party turned them in…

~~~

“The scene here on Tartalus is one of shock and awe. The starport behind me was assaulted by a group of mercenaries rumored to be part of the P.A.D. around midday yesterday.”

The screen shifted from the reporter’s visage in front of the starport to a series of montages.

“The group had apparently been settled in for nearly a week before the strike, and they had acquired uniforms and passes to blend in during their investigations. Several sources say that the group hijacked a ship from the hangar after a general evacuation was sounded; external camera footage confirms they flew to the roof, then kidnapped a local person of interest: one Rekkis Yuilt, a Hox who apparently went rogue after their Inundation. Local business owners and citizens claim Rekkis was skimming profits from nearly all sales of a locally-made ceramic and halting all trade off-world of the material.”

Read more

Quick update!

Hello! It’s been some months of inactivity here, but I am planning to start posting again soon. No doubt we’re all in strange circumstances, but things are finally settling into some kind of routine.

I’m currently running one tabletop game and playing in two others that are streamed weekly (links and times at the bottom), and streaming otherwise, so my time and energy for writing has been minimal, but I have multiple stories waiting for polish so expect something in the next few weeks!

I hope you’re all doing well and that you’ve found some semblance of stability.

(If streams aren’t your thing, no worries!)

[Streaming schedule]

Tabletop RPGs, Tuesday – Water (a Subnautica-themed survival game. Player; 7 PM MST, 9 PM EST); Saturday – The Void Cavalcade (a Stars Without Number game set in an era of exploration, aliens and strange happenings, with me as GM; 1 PM MST, 3 PM EST); Animus Absentis (a Dark Matter-inspired scifi campaign. Player; 7 PM MST, 9 PM EST). All of these shows are produced and hosted on the Blackfeather Guild’s channel.

Other Streaming: Wednesday & Thursday, ~10-4; Videogames and Worldbuilding. Both are on my Twitch channel.

The Void Cavalcade

Earth isn’t gone. But sometimes, we wish it was.

When all this started, we’d just achieved long-range spaceflight with the Cleave drives – my great-grandparents were on one of the first cruisers out to the Alpha Centauri system. Kind of a big deal, getting to escape the solar system like that. We’d managed to colonize a few worlds in our backyard, but ideal they weren’t; if we could get our ships to cut through interstellar space the way they did in our neighbourhood, we might have a better chance at finding a liveable world.

Terraforming? That’s a fool’s errand. Best you can hope for is to change a series of icy moons into windy dustballs that snow like the devil’s dandruff, or make a bunch of dry rocks into slightly moist ones. ‘Course, other folks in the galaxy might have other notions, but they weren’t around then; it was just humans trying to find a new home in the badlands.

Read more

(Instru)Mental

I’ve been feeling instru
Mental
About the way I’m being held
Figurehead, like a grand tree, just
Waiting to be felled

When your time is up, timber,
The funeral march drones
Down into soil to grow the next
Regime upon your bones

You’ve got me feeling funda
Mental
With your book of holy text
Warping tales to fit around you
Like the noose around your necks

When you see the face of those outside
Your tidy little group
Do you see the people, lives and dreams,
Or only heathen soup?

Now I’m feeling senti
Mental
For the things I once held close
Shut up in some chest-of-drawers
Away from those that need them most

They tell me “give that up”;
You’re a child no more
But they hand me things no human wants
And try to sell me war

We treat them like they’re orna
Mental
Put the doll upon the dais
Worship at the feet of your idol
Before you burn and raze

If you’re planning out to conquer
All your neighbours and their fields
Reconsider who you pray to and
The power that it wields

This whole song’s experi
Mental
Digging into words and sounds
Playing up on emphasis and
Making sure the meaning pounds

Sometimes the lyrics flow like wine
But often Bacchus is a hog
And out come words that muck and mire
It’s really quite a slog


Listened to “Departure Songs” by We Lost The Sea while hashing this out. I sometimes write lyrics for songs that don’t exist yet.

Hope your Saturday is going well.

A sinking rowboat

When the ship begins to sink
And hope is tossed asea
Don’t, clinging to your anchor, think:
“Surely this will save me!”

There is an ocean’s worth of difference
In knowing your boat is sinking
And knowing how to stop it
Without even thinking

If you find yourself adrift,
No paddle to your name,
Examine why you’re left becalmed
And do not jump to blame.

If it’s your design to end up here,
Congrats, you’ve done it, led by fear;
Now you’ve an ocean to sit and dwell
On why you chose to never tell
A soul about your personal hell.

If it’s fickle mind, poor chemical synthesis,
You might find the ocean a dense abyss:
More of a mire than a wide expanse
Less of a trial and closer to dance
With a partner who gives no second chance.

“Don’t panic”, they say, all teacups and sunshine,
Medicine bags full of useless tat.
But you’ve sailed these waters line by line;
There is no one fix to solving that.

All told, it is awful, and without cure;
Though there’s nothing wrong with you
You’re not impure
Your brain’s just a mess. Diagnosis: chemical
Full to the brim with habits inimical

But I believe in you, that’s the truth.
You can win against yourself.
Just remember, you’re okay,
And leave your habits on the shelf.


Apparently the first two verses were missing, oops!

Stygian Cells

This is a story I submitted to Glitter + Ashes, “an anthology of queer joy and queer community in the face of disaster”, published by Neon Hemlock Press. It made the shortlist but not the final cut, so now I get to share it with you. I’m honoured to have made the shortlist, and if you enjoy this kind of thing (or the above description whets your appetite for less sad post-apocalyptic stories), please do check out the zine as it’s still available for pre-order! Info here, and pre-orders are here! Support small press!


 

“What do you mean, ‘your bones are no good here’?” Festree said, confused. “These are third-age roach skeletons, they’re worth at least a few old wyrds.” She picked up the bones to emphasize her point, showing their intricate branching structures. It had taken her nearly three days to prepare them, and these were the good ones; the rest had been thrown into a lackluster stew as spice. Her stomach still roiled when she thought of it.

“I’ll tell you what, little witch-” The hag hacked horribly, her misshapen, furred body wracked by the effort, “-you cure me of this wretched cough, and I’ll give you what you want.” She rubbed at her throat for effect.

Festree rolled her eyes, then scooped the bones back into a pouch. “Fine.” She drew herself level with the stooped woman’s eyes. “But if I find out these wyrds are bunk, I’ll hex you with my period cramps for three moons, you old blister.”

Carlisle wrinkled their nose, but said nothing as Festree cleared a spot on the ground.

Read more