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Author Topic: The Crumbler: Book I - Six Sides  (Read 15773 times)

George Potter

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The Crumbler: Book I - Six Sides
« on: January 10, 2007, 10:18:13 pm »

Chapter 1: Dollybones[/i]


      Sometimes, just after midnight, the thing that pretended to be her old doll would wake Marie up, whispering. Most of the time, she could sing songs under her breath just loud enough to block out that insidious little stream of suggestion. Sometimes, though, she couldn't.
      And sometimes she wanted to listen.

      "Mr. Douglas down the street is dying." the thing told her, silken voice slipping from the smiling facade of her plastic face. "He has thousands of dollars buried underneath his porch. No one would notice if you climbed under there and took some."
      "Stealing is bad." Marie insisted.
      "So is going to school in ugly clothes that people make fun of." the thing reminded her. "He's not a nice man, anyway. He does awful things to kittens."
      Marie shuddered. The thing was scary, and almost everything it suggested she do was naughty in some way or the other, but it had never lied to her. In fact, everything it said was perfectly, awfully true.
      "Two wrongs don't make a right." Marie said. It was one of her mother's favorite sayings.
      The thing laughed, a hoarse little chuff of sound. "Wrong. Right. Simply ideas. People like you, Marie, do not have to pay attention to such simplistic nonsense."
      "Just shut up and leave me alone!" Marie said, in a fierce whisper. "I have to go to school tomorrow."
      "Very well." the thing said, in a condescending voice. "Sleep. I'll visit you in your dreams."
      And it did.

      In the dream, the doll is a miniature little girl, sweet and lively and fun. They go under Mr. Douglas' porch and find a huge roll of bills inside a mason jar, mixed in with the kitten bones.
      "See how easy?" the thing pretending to be a girl said. "See how fun?"
      Marie refuses to pick the jar up, but discovers that it's in her hand anyway. She tosses it away, and it shatters. She feels the money in the front pocket of her now filthy jeans. She pulls it out and tosses it to the ground.
      "I won't take it!" she says, angry and on the verge of tears.
      The dollgirlthing rolls its pretty blue eyes. "You are such a tiresome creature, Marie Hanson." it chides her. "Ok, fine. But pick up your house key." It points at it, on the ground by her feet. "You must have dropped it when you threw the money away. Your mother will be angry if you lose it."
      Marie does so.
      The thing laughs.

      The laughter faded as the space under the Douglas porch dissolved into the familiar confines of her bedroom.
      Marie shivered and rolled over, relieved that the dream was over and the morning sun was peeking through the curtains.
      She felt a lump by her knee. A similar lump rose in her throat.
      She whipped her covers off the way she tore off a scab: in one go to get the pain and anticipation over with.
      The lump dropped from her throat to settle like a jagged knot in her stomach.
      A roll of bills rested accusingly by her knee. Her sneakers were on. Her sheet and jeans were covered in filth.
      Furious, she snatched the doll up and shook it. "You tricked me!" she spat. The doll made no reply, just smiled back at her with painted eyes. In the light of day, it was just a doll.
      She threw it to the floor, anyway. Kicked it under the bed.
      She managed to clean up decently before her mother called her down to breakfast -- stuffing the sheet and dirty jeans to the very bottom of the laundry hamper. Tonight was her turn to do the wash, anyway.
      What to do with the money was a tougher decision. She might be able to sneak it back under the porch  next door, but the thought of those kitten bones didn't make that an attractive option.
      She couldn't keep it, she knew that much.
      She was still diliberating when her mother called her name. "Breakfast! Hurry up or we'll be late!"
      For the moment she decided to just hold on to it. She wrapped it in toilet paper and lodged it deep into the duffel bag that was her mother's concession between the purse she wanted and the backpack she was sick of.
      I'll figure something out later, she thought, on her way down the hall to the kitchen. But the last glimpse of the roll kept dancing behind her eyes. Twenty dollar bills, and the roll was bigger than her fist. She'd never seen that much money, not in her entire short life.
      Stop it, she told her mind, as she always did when it started talking in the voice of her doll.
      Just stop it!

      On their way to work and school, Marie's mother looked tired. She always looked tired, but lately it seemed worse. She'd been taking all the overtime  she could get at the factory, where she worked an assembly line that made flourescent lights. Sometimes Marie had to cook her own dinner, something that bothered her in a strange way no matter how much she liked the Banquet microwave meals.
      And, despite the overtime and exhaustion, all her mother seemed to do was worry about bills.
      "Rents due tomorrow." she muttered, more to herself than her distracted daughter. "And next month it goes up fifty freakin' bucks. I don't know what we're going to do."
      That last sentence was one that cropped up ever more frequently these days. It always served to make Marie feel confused and guilty. She wasn't doing anything, after all. She didn't even know what she could do.
      You're such a liar. the dollvoice said in her mind. You have hundreds -- maybe more than a thousand -- dollars a few inches away from you.
      It's not mine. Marie thought back hard.
      Who does it belong to, then? the voice replied. Oh, how she hated that silk voice. How it seemed to slip past everything she knew was right and lodge down in the confused and scared part of her. Mr. Kittykiller?Mean little giggles accompanied this. Don't worry about him -- he'll be dead before you get out of school.
      SHUT UP! Marie screamed at it, and she meant it, and -- like always when she really meant it -- the thing listened to her. She imagined locking it in a steel cage, and wrapping the cage in chains, and dropping the bound cage down a well.
      It wouldn't stay there, she knew. Not for long.
      Her mother didn't shut the car off as she dropped her at school, just gave her a dry kiss to the cheek and a wan smile. "I'll be late tonight. You have your key, right?"
      "Yes, Mom."
      "I love you baby. Be good."
      "I will."
      As she climbed out of the car, tossing the duffel bag over one shoulder, Marie succumbed to the urge to climb back inside. She wrapped her mother in a fierce hug.
      "I love you too, Mommy." She almost never called her Mommy anymore. "Everything will be OK."
      Mellissa Hanson, her tired mother, faked an optimistic smile. "I hope so, baby." she whispered in her ear. "I really hope so."
      Marie watched the car pull out and motor down the street. She tried not to think about the money in the duffel bag, or the thing in an imaginary well, as she walked gloomily towards another day in the fifth grade.
      But, even over the sound of the bell announcing the start of classes, she could hear chains rattling, down on the darker levels of her mind.

George Potter

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Re: The Crumbler: Book I - Six Sides
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2007, 10:19:33 pm »

Halfway through her first class, Marie knew it was going to be what her mother called 'a real shitstorm' of a day.
      The dollthing was angry. Extremely angry. It was not content to patiently wiggle from its bindings this time. It was tearing at them. It was also screaming at her -- it's shrieking voice echoing up from the black place she'd consigned it to.
      Little miss priss! it sneered. Willing to let her mother work and slave to death rather than break some ridiculous little rules! You're nasty, child! NASTY!
      Two things really ate at her. If not for those two things, Marie could have probably ignored the tantrum.
      The first was that, on a scarily big part of her, she thought the dollthing was right. The image of her mother's exhausted eyes haunted her. The idea that the money -- no matter where and how she had got it -- might let her rest was hugely enticing.
      The second was worse. The second was a growing conviction that she had hid from for many years. Since the dollthing had shown up, almost as far back as she could remember.
      The conviction that the dollthing wasn't a thing at all.
      That it was a part of her. A part of Marie Hanson, age nine, who had lost a father long ago and was watching her mother drift away.
      A really bad part of her.
      It was Tuesday, so second period was free computer lab, usually Marie's favorite part of the week.       She was fascinated by computers and the internet. For the past two years it had been her only request for Christmas. A request that was always met with a 'Maybe' that inevetably transformed into a 'Maybe next year.'
      But she walked into the lab without her usual enthusiasm, just wishing for the day to be over.
      Her assigned seat was by the window, something she normally ignored, preferring to use every second of the hour to wander the web of information and oddness before her. She glanced out of it today, an idle glance, mainly wishing her head would stop hurting. The thing had stopped screaming, but the thumping and banging from the bottom of the well was getting louder and more frequent.
      Across the street, on a city bench, a young man with dark hair sat, attention focused on a laptop. There was no mystery as to why he was there. The school lab was the only area in town that boasted an open wi-fi connection. During lunch hours and on nice days, it was common to see people lounging there, enjoying a chance to access free broadband.
      But the reason she stared, almost goggled, and finally -- despite the pain in her head and the dread in her heart -- broke into a delighted smile was not common at all.
      The man had a cat perched on his knee. A small gray cat that sat there, balancing on that skinny denim clad leg, like a queen on a throne, surveying her kingdom of worshipful followers with indulgent eyes.
      Those eyes suddenly met hers. Instantly, the young man looked up and did the same.
      He smiled at her. Tossed off a little wave.
      For no reason she could name, Marie blushed, and turned quickly away. When she looked back, he was engrossed in the laptop again, typing something with speed and skill.
      Marie shook her head, and called herself a goof, because she was still blushing furiously.
      The blush faded instantly when she realized that the headache was gone. And that the noises from the well had stopped. The thing was still there, she was certain of that. But it had stopped. As if it were listening.
      As if it were afraid.
      She heard an impossible sound. The ping of an instant messenger. Impossible because instant messengers were forbidden on school equipment. She only recognized it from sleepovers at her friend Cindy's house.
      But there it was. A message pane, right on the screen. An unfamiliar one. Instead of the AIM logo and the comical little running man, this was a black and red box with the unknown acronym HMS V.07.
      The message inside was from  a "MrSlip" and read, simply:


      She turned, slowly, and looked out the window again. The man was no longer typing, just looking at the laptop in a pose of restful intent. One hand drummed a beat on the park bench, and she noticed suddenly that he had on a pair of headphones, also connected to the laptop.
      I'm just gonna ignore this guy. She told herself. Could be some perv-o who wants to pick up elementary school girls for...perv-o stuff.
      The cat just stared at her. Stop being paranoid, its eyes said.
      I'm not gonna answer, she told herself firmly. She meant it too. Then she typed:

Stop yelling.

      ...and blushed again. It was a total rip off of something she'd seen Cindy type to some person who messaged her in all-caps.

Haha. Sorry. Capslock. :P

Ur not a perv r u?

Come on kid, would I admit it if I were?

Good point.

We don't have time to chat. I'm here to help. With your..ahem...toy problem.

      She went cold. She glanced out the window. Both cat and man met her eyes this time. The man shrugged.

How can u know about that??

No time. In thirty seconds the printer will start. Take the three sheets and do exactly what they say, OK?

Who R U???

NO TIME. Do exactly what they say. I might answer questions later. On any comp hold down Shift & CTRL and type MRSLIP. It might take me a minute, but I'll get back to you.


EXACTLY what they say. Bye, Marie. Be careful.

      The message pane blinked from existence. Marie turned back to the window. The chill returned.
      Gone. Man and cat. As if they were never there.
      In answer to that, the printer hummed into life and scritched out three pages.
      "Station three, pick up your printout." Mr. Calley -- the lab  teacher -- droned without looking up.
      Marie walked to the printer  feeling a little unreal. She picked up the three pages and walked back to her seat, eyes down.
      When she was safely back, she looked at the pages.
      The instructions were simple, if strange. As soon as she read them the thing in the well began fighting furiously again. It was this, more than anything else, that made her believe that what the man had told her was true.
      At the end of the third page was some sloppy handwriting, in the grayed out style of a faxed document.

"Marie --

Follow these exactly. As soon as possible. None of this is your fault, but that won't help if you let things go any further.

Remember two things. One is bad, the other good:

This is all far from over.

You are not alone.

Good luck,

-F. (aka MrSlip)

PS: Death to the Crumbler."

      When she read that final sentence, Marie felt the strangest feeling. It meant nothing to her, but it sure felt like it should. It vibrated in her heart.

      On her way out of the lab, Mr. Calley asked to see the printout, which was the rule.
      He glanced at each page. Marie saw his eyes glaze over. "Pre-Revolutionary French archithecture? Interesting." He smiled at her, and handed the pages back. "Have a good day, Marie. Death to the Crumbler."
      "What?" Marie asked, taken aback.
      "I said 'See you on Thursday'." he thought he repeated.

      It seemed to take forever for school to be over with. The thing in the well alternated between frantic fighting and deadly silence. Both un-nerved her.
      But, as with everything, the end of the day came.
      She knew bad things were brewing when Cindy's mom dropped her at home and there was an ambulance parked in Mr. Douglas' driveway. The stretcher that emerged moved too slowly. A sheet was over the old man's face. The money in her bag seemed to burn with guilt.
      She ignored it, letting herself in. She was moving down the hallway, pulling the pages from her pocket, when she realized that the thing was no longer in the well.
      She stopped in her tracks, frozen.
      From her room, a sick little giggle erupted.
      From behind her, the slamming sound of locks engaging rang through the house.
      The creature now possessing her doll stalked from the room, stiffly at first, moving quicker as it came, growing larger. It's painted eyes bored into her. It's fake ruby smile burned in a pale plastic face.
      "Could have done this easy, little bitch." It told her, voice dripping in glee. "You could have came to the Master so gently." Stiff steps became more fluid as it moved. "All you had to do was spend the money. All you had to do was help your mother you nasty little thing."
      "You can't hurt me." she whispered, not really believing it. "You're just a part of me. You can't hurt me.
      The thing stopped to spout hysterical giggles. "Stupid bitch. People hurt themselves all the time." It began to creep toward her again, outstreched arms reaching, tiny plastic fingers gripping in spasms. "Going to crawl inside you, bitch. Going to eat your insides. Break your bones and heal them and break them again, for fun. Eat this power you have. Take you to the master as a husk for him to fill."
      It shuddered, seemed to swell.
      "Burn this hovel. Your mother will think you are dead. Maybe kill herself. Delicious."
      And then, at those words, Marie was angry. Furious.
      "The hell you will." she said.
      On the first page of the print out were four large symbols. They entered her eyes as nonsense but emerged from her mouth as power. They hurt and felt better than anything at the same time. She glowed with fire as they spoke from her.
      The thing screamed and fell painfully flat to the ground, as if a huge fist had slapped it there.
      She tossed the first page aside. It evaporated into smoke.
      "Now you are bound." she told the squirming thing. "Second stage: realization."
      She sawspokepoured out the second set of symbols. The doll became flesh colored, the blush of life filled its cheeks. Real pain entered its now tearing eyes.
      "Why make me real?" it whispered in horror, perhaps knowing what was coming.
      "So I can do this." Marie said, stepping up to it, reaching down, and breaking both arms and legs in deft motions.
      The things cries cycled into the ultasonic. Every dog in the neighborhood began to howl.
      "Dollybones break too, you monster."
      It lay there, immobile. Hobbled.
      She looked at it in disgust. She wished she could throw it away.
      She couldn't.

      The most disgusting thing of all was that she needed it.


George Potter

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Re: The Crumbler: Book I - Six Sides
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2007, 10:23:17 pm »

Gonna post the first six chapters in this thread, for ease of finding later.

Feel free to comment after each entry.

Please keep in mind that these are first drafts and subject to later revision, etc.

And, gets even weirder. :P
« Last Edit: January 10, 2007, 10:25:28 pm by Gloryroad »


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Re: The Crumbler: Book I - Six Sides
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2007, 10:56:14 pm »

   George, this makes me think of Jerzy (?) Kosinski. He was unafraid to delve into the furthest reaches of his mind, and nothing was held back, nothing was sacrosanct.

Shorty Dawkins Freedom Outlaw


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Re: The Crumbler: Book I - Six Sides
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2007, 12:38:25 am »

Odd thing, and this might not make sence, but since when does sence have to make sence. This reads like a novel (I know, DUH!), but it has that epic sort of feeling to it, a grand depth that you can feel from the first moment you begin reading the story. I like where you are going with it and like the energy, atmosphere, and tone of it so far. The narration flows excellently, the scenes are well drawn, the characters are full and you can see them in your mind, you want to read ahead but also savor the writing.

It has the feeling of a good Steven King novel - say a mix of Dark Tower, the Talisman, and one other (whose name for the moment escapes me) along with a mixture of Clive Barker thrown in (Great and Secret Show, Weaveworld, and Thief of Always). Definately a "sellable" commodity.

There was one part in the house with the doll where I was expecting to hear noise - the tick tick tick of the dolls plastic feet upon the floor running furiously about. It was something that entered my mind when I was reading the chapter.

I'll already put my order in for several books so I can distribute them here, there, and wherever else the wind blows me.


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Re: The Crumbler: Book I - Six Sides
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2007, 09:39:23 am »

Wow... I think this one'll be at least as good as Roberta.

"Dollybones break too, you monster." :love4:
I have never regretted that I chose to "take the red pill." But there are days, just rarely, when the truth is so ugly, so brutal, so unmerciful, so relentless, that even if I wouldn't rip the truth from the wall socket and hurl it out the window to crash on the sidewalk below, I wouldn't mind if it featured a snooze button so we could savor just a few more moments in slumbered pretension and warm, fuzzy lies pulled snugly up over our heads.

George Potter

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Re: The Crumbler: Book I - Six Sides
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2007, 09:13:23 pm »

NOTE: Only half a chapter tonight, folks. Surprised I got this much out. Many distractions. I'll edit in the second half of this tomorrow when I post chapter 3 (one of the distractions! :P).

Chapter 2: Lady Of Blades[/size]

      She moves with quiet grace down the stairs, swords dripping and flashing in the inadequate light, and she has never looked more beautiful.       
                 One nostril drains blood, stitching an ignored rune of liquid red on her t-shirt. Her left eye swells in shades of purple and almost black. Her hair has wrenched free of her ponytail and floats about her face, an electric dancing halo.
      Her eyes. Her eyes throw sparks. They shine with the light of righteous anger.
      She has left three men dead upstairs. Three large men, well armed. One choked on his own blood and a whisper of razor steel. One discovered what it felt like to have his heart split open. The third whined complaints to the universe as he tried in vain to collect his guts from the floor.
      She moves down the stairs and she has never looked more beautiful. She stops.
      Six sets of eyes stare at her in disbelief.
      She smiles. She places the blades in perfect attack form.
      "These are killing tools." she tells her enemy. "They are not made to wound, or to frighten. They're made to kill. They don't do nothing else."
      The six men arrayed before her stare stupidly at each other, foolishly ignoring the only true threat in the room. They have guns. Some of them have badges. All of them think, incorrectly, that those things will protect them.
      One even laughs. "Good God, honey! What kinda dope you on?"
      She ignores him. She repeats:
      "They don't do nothing else." Her breath is calm, even. Her words measured and clear. "Give me my son and I won't kill you."

      "You," Sheila Glynnis said, pausing to suck down a quarter of a Kool, "are the most worthless whore this world has ever seen."
      Kelly didn't even look up from her packing. She continued to stuff baby clothes into the diaper bag. "You'd know, Aunt Sheila." she said. "You raised me."
      "Don't blame yourself on me, honey. You are your own doing."
      Kelly did glance up. She favored her aunt with a withering look. "I sure am." she said. "The good and the bad."
      "What good?"
      Kelly ignored her. Instead, she picked up her eight month old son. As usual, his sleeping face made her smile. "You wouldn't understand." she whispered. She held him close and gathered the bag and the slim suitcase in her free hand. She started for the door.
      "Don't sell him for pills!" Sheila said, intending a parting shot. She'd probably been saving it up.
      Kelly stiffened. Sheila started to laugh.
      She never even saw her niece move, and the laugh was never released. In a single motion Kelly whirled and slammed her foot into the womans throat, shoving her and the Laz-E-Boy she lived in against the wall.
      The sleeping baby in the crook of her arm didn't stir.
      Sheila goggled at her, wishing for air.
      "Say anything you like about me, Auntie." Kelly spat, tone dangerous. "But keep your filthy mouth off my son."
      Another graceful move and she was walking again to the door.
      "Don't bother threatening me with the law. You got three warrants I know of." She dropped her worldly goods to the floor, opened the door, and retrieved them.
      She took her own parting shot. "And don't pretend you're kicking me out. The only reason you're pissed is that I wont be around to score dope for you. Lose some weight and maybe you can fuck for it yourself."

      She left the door wide open, just to be a bitch.

      Speak of the devil, Kelly complained to herself as she made her way down the rusting steel stairway outside her aunts apartment, and there he is.
      At the bottom, leaning indolently against his car, stood Deputy Sherrif Ronnie Kinsmore. As usual, the ghost of the old Kelly surfaced, judging every male she encountered via the arithmetic of the pillwhore: looks plus make and model of car divided by likelihood of holding dope.
      Ronnie wasn't a bad looking man, if you discounted the ever swelling beer gut and the beady eyes. He had a decent build, was tall enough, and had a nice smile. When he smiled. Which wasn't often.
      She didn't have to wonder about the dope. Ronnie Kinsmore was king shit of the county when it came to that.
      But that didn't matter anymore. The baby in her arms had cured her of that.
      "Afternoon, Kelly." he said. "Off on a trip?"
      "Moving out." she said, trying her damndest to keep her tone neutral. "I got a job."
      He laughed. "Really? You?"
      Her eyes tightened. "Really. Me."
      "Lemme guess." he drawled. "Janitor at the pharmacy?"
      She bit back a nasty remark about his dick size. "Just a cashier, Ronnie. At Big Lots."
      "Classy." He turned his eyes to the baby. "How's the runt?"
      "His name is Sean. And he's fine. Why do you care?"
      Ronnie pretended hurt, placing his hand over his heart. "Why Kelly -- can't a daddy ask a simple question 'bout his own son?"
      Now she was getting pissed. "You may have shot some spunk, cop...but this boy is mine."
      He didn't argue, just looked her up and down, appraisingly. "Lord god, girl. You're still hot as a firecracker. Hell, even the baby weight left on you looks good. You never did have any tits."
      "You'll never see 'em again, Ronnie. So no worries, huh?" Where the hell was her ride? It wasn't like David to be late.
      "That so?" He eyed her for a second. "Look, I don't give a damn about the runt. But my mom is just dyin' to play granmaw. What say we let her babysit tonight and have a little fun?"
      She almost laughed. He couldn't be serious.
      He played his hole card. "Got a whole bottle of Oxy 80's. The pretty orange boys you like so much.
      And there it was. She damned herself because a traitorous little piece of her perked right up at the words. A nasty, degraded little piece of her that lived in her spine. The spine never forgets. she knew. Never ever.
      But Sean wiggled a little in her arms and made a bubbling happy noise. Case steel slammed down her spine, walling off the traitorous bit, choking it in determination.
      "Fuck you." she said, and thanked god because she heard David's car rumble at the turn and head for her.
      Ronnie straightened up. He couldn't let the public see him nonchalantly chatting with a pillwhore.
      "Still seeing that little faggot?" he asked.
      Dave stopped a few yards away and waved at her out the driver's window.
      She turned to go. "He's not a faggot."
      "He writes poetry for fucks sake."
      "And he fucks like a God, buddy."
      "This ain't over."
      "Yes. It is." She hurried for the car.
      "We'll see about that!" followed her.
      She didn't turn and look.

      They were almost to Dave's house before she let herself cry. As usual, he just patted her shoulder and let her go. He knew she would dry up in a minute or two.
      When she did, she hugged him clumsily and kissed him on the cheek.
      "Better?" he asked.
      "Yes. But I want an hour with the swords before I have to go to work. Will you keep Sean occupied?"
      "Of course, grasshopper." he said in the fake Asian voice that wasn't very good but always cracked her up.

      She'd met David when she was four months pregnant and only twenty days clean. She had been miserable and sick and scared.
      He had just moved to town, from down South, and they met at a church. She was there to suffer through another rehab session for expectant mothers. He was there to listen to the choir.
      Unlike almost every other guy she'd known, he didn't hit on her. He didn't make slick little comments. He didn't stare at her ass.
      He talked to her. Really talked to her, about things she hadn't known she was interested in until he brought them up.
      And he'd introduced her to the swords.
      "It's called kendo." he told her. "It's like a combination of martial arts and ballet."
      "My granddad has swords kind of like these." she told him.
      "Yeah. Brought them home from Japan after World War II."
      He raised his eyebrows and how she'd loved the light in those eyes. "Damn. Probably not like these then. These are Pakistani steel replicas. I'd love to see them some day."
      She'd sighed. "My grandad is weird. Lives in the mountains by himself with a bunch of dogs. Hates everybody. I haven't seen him in ten years. He might be dead."
      He'd shown her the basic moves and let her go, claiming she had the perfect body for it. She didn't know if that was true or not, but was certain of one thing: dancing with the blades was better than rehab. Two weeks later she quit the classes, but still sometimes went with David to hear the choir.
                 A month after that -- torn by hormones and self doubt -- she'd foolishly accused him of being impotent because he hadn't even tried to sleep with her. To a 22 year old woman who had been fighting off the advances of men since menarche, this seemed an insult.
                 He'd shook his head and handed her a sheet of paper. In very careful handwriting, she read the first poem he'd ever written for her:

Only the moon was high
the first night I saw you.
Wrapped there in her light
you seemed to gleam.

You are all angles
knife edges
My lady

          "There's more to love than sex, silly." he told her while she sobbed.


George Potter

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Re: The Crumbler: Book I - Six Sides
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2007, 11:04:26 pm »

So this morning I decide to clean my keyboard. It stops working completely. Sigh.

My cousin Bob came to the rescue, sent me a very nice Memorex MX5200 via his mom.

(Yes, I saw the many offers of keyboards on the other thread and appreciate them. But the shipping would have probably been close to what a new one would cost. Thanks much anyway, folks. :) )

The only writing I got done today was some work on the novel outline. It's funny how many 'hexes' you can work into a concept when you try. Structural, personal, geographical, metaphysical, mystical...:P

Gonna stay up late and try to play catchup.

My, this keyboard makes a nice clicky sound! :D


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Re: The Crumbler: Book I - Six Sides
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2007, 08:16:08 pm »

Awaiting with bated breath am I.

and you've given me a mite scarier walk home tonight.  Ice and snow are bright though.
The 'ideal' America praised by so many is nothing more than smoke from the propaganda machine. At best it is an idealized abstraction, at worst a wall to rational thought -IKDR

"But there's nothing wrong with me,   This is how I'm supposed to be,   In a land of make believe,   That don't believe in me"
"To find what you believe,   And I leave behind,   This hurricane of fucking lies,    I lost my faith to this,   This town that don't exist" - Green Day

George Potter

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Re: The Crumbler: Book I - Six Sides
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2007, 09:08:00 pm »

Having some problems keeping the characters seperated in my own head -- even though none of them are at all similar.

I 'finished' Chapter Two, but I'm not happy with it at all. Something about it doesn't hang together right -- and a big thing is I haven't yet managed to work Mr_Slip into it, and he has to be there -- he's the only connective tissue in Book I. It's also sad as hell and pretty damned bloody.

Jumped ahead and wrote chapters Five and Six. And most of three. There's also a certain amount of research that has to be done for later on in the book. I'm going to need geographic and historical detail for the Southwest. Any volunteers raise your hands now.

I guess what I'm saying is: this is freakin' harder than I thought it would be! :P

I'm still having fun, though.

I'm going to work tonight and in the morning on the rest of chapter two. Even if I'm not happy with it, I'm gonna post it. Wednesday of the week is my deadline, and I'm determined to stick to it.



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Re: The Crumbler: Book I - Six Sides
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2007, 09:05:08 am »

Jumped ahead and wrote chapters Five and Six. And most of three. There's also a certain amount of research that has to be done for later on in the book. I'm going to need geographic and historical detail for the Southwest. Any volunteers raise your hands now.
I have never regretted that I chose to "take the red pill." But there are days, just rarely, when the truth is so ugly, so brutal, so unmerciful, so relentless, that even if I wouldn't rip the truth from the wall socket and hurl it out the window to crash on the sidewalk below, I wouldn't mind if it featured a snooze button so we could savor just a few more moments in slumbered pretension and warm, fuzzy lies pulled snugly up over our heads.


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Re: The Crumbler: Book I - Six Sides
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2007, 11:23:35 am »

This reminds me of Orson Scott Card, and his 7th son series.  You've got a good concept by the tail, work it.  It reminds, you definately have a very different way with stuff like this.  I can feel new brain cells knitting and stretching with the concepts you work with- good thing- it is one of the reasons I read so much.

It has been years since I have seen a unique and good new story angle, and I think you got it.
........Duct tape is like the force, it has a light side, a darkside and holds the universe together.  It is theoretically reinforced with strings too.  (The dome has a darkside, lightside and strings of rebar for reinforcement too!)
Most of the time news is about the same old violations of the first principles of consent and golden rule with a dash of force thrown in........ with just enough duct tape to be believable.

George Potter

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Re: The Crumbler: Book I - Six Sides
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2007, 09:06:03 pm »

Kelly had her baby and found her job and moved out. Some part of her expected that her life would mellow out after that. She had given up the things that had ruined her life so far. Was the hope that the rest of it might run smoothly too much to ask?
      Apparently so.

      She finished her hour with the blades and David offered to take her for ice cream. She didn't even bother to take a shower, since they only planned to be gone for a few minutes.
      Even years later she'll never remember exactly what went down from the time they left the house to the moment, days later, when she woke up in a strange bed.
      These are the things she remembered:

      Being stopped at a roadblock.
      Ronnie Kinsmores grinning devil-face.
      David being beaten.
      Ronnie Kinsmore prying Sean from her arms and telling her: "Should have played the game, bitch."
      David's head exploding like rotten fruit when two cops shove him at Ronnie, who draws and fires.
      Her own screams.
      Being beaten, being beaten for what seemed like hours.
      Running. In the mountains, through leaves and briars and bushes, up and down hills.

      It was the dogs who found her. Four of them. Dogs that had never in their lives laid eyes or nose on her, yet smelled connection to their master on the deepest of levels. Sensed such a connection that three of them remained at uneasy guard duty while the fourth loped hellbent back to the den to report the news. News of an uncanny stranger in their woods.
      The old man was not amused at being roused from the rare deep sleep by all hell breaking out among  the dogs.       Fargo, the messenger, was both a runt and barely out of pup-hood -- low man on the pack totem pole. His excited arrival led to several fights as his betters reprimanded him for impertinence. Rather than the usual roll-over and submission, Fargo fought back angrily this time. He was, after all, on a mission from the Queen, to the Master.
      It was this disparity among his only friends that brought him limping out of the house to squint at the fracas in the afternoon sunshine.
      Fargo danced a crazed tango in front of him -- rushing into the woods, stopping, yelping like a fool, turning around and repeating the pattern.
      "OK, boy." the old man said, grabbing his walking stick and stopping by the rusting remains of his Chevy to snag a shotgun. "Hold your horses."
      Knowing his message was received, Fargo relaxed, in an unmistakable mood of mission accomplished. The old man had to laugh, looking at the bedraggled pit and lab mix grinning crazily at him. A few shallow but messy wounds adorned his head and face. The old man figured that Fargo had just moved up a rank or two in the hierarchy of the pack. There were no politics among dogs. Only actions and performance mattered. That was why he preferred their company.
      "Let's go!" he commanded, and the dogs were on their feet, fanning out in formation around him in seconds.
      His suspicions were confirmed.
      They let Fargo lead.

      Haylie, Queen bitch of this side of the mountain, sits regally by the unconscious girl. Bolo and Katie, two of her underlings, wander the area, ears and noses alert to possible danger and for the approach of the Master.
      Only Haylie notices the  other guardian; the one with no scent or presence beyond the crackling thereness that burns behind her eyes. The other guardian hovers close to the girl, surrounding her with its invisible power.
      She doesn't fear it, because it means no malice. It simply pours love and concern for the strange woman bleeding in her territory.
      Before the sun has reached midpoint in the sky, the master arrives, bringing the rest of her pack. He gives her only a cursory acknowledgment before turning to the stranger. Haylie sees, in his eyes, that their instincts were correct: this is no stranger to the master.
      "Lordie god, child." the Master whispers in a tone foreign from his mouth. "What mess have you gotten your self into now?"

      Kelly woke up, days later, bruised and bandaged, and thirstier than she'd ever been in her life.
      That first day was a confusing rush of hours; of blurred light and shadows, of familiar voices and the smell of dogs. The voice, gentle yet insistent, gave her water in small delicious sips. It fed her thin soup in the same fashion.
      She spoke only one word that day. "David." and failed to cry, body unable to spare the liquid for a luxury like tears.
      I'm here, baby. her lying mind said in David's voice. Right here with you.
      She knew it was a lie, but let it comfort her anyway. She didn't have anything else, drifting in the black.

      When she finally regained true consciousness, she did so in a blink. She opened her eyes. The world was bright and fuzzy, but unmistakably there. Real.
      She was too weak to move more than her head. She lifted it slightly, wondering what the weight on her feet might be.
      At the foot of the bed, grinning madly at her, was the ugliest dog she'd ever seen. It's lolling tongue protruded from a blunt, oddly colored face. It's stumpy body boasted fur the color of rust. One ear was longer than the other.
      It had a cute smile, though -- despite the insanity.
      Noticing that she was awake, it started wagging it's stubby tail. The motion made a thumping whisper against the quilt. It cocked its head and uttered a single, low 'whoof'.
      The door to the room opened and the old man walked in, slowly. He didn't so much limp as aggravate his way through space. He sat down beside the dog and sighed.
      "You're awake then." he said.
      "Yeah. Guess so." she replied. Her voice was thick and mushy.
      The old man produced a pen knife and a small block of wood. Arthritic fingers began to do impossibly convoluted things with wood and blade.
      "I see you met Fargo. He's both the ugliest and smartest dog I got. Trust him to be the one to get all addlepated at the first pretty face that showed up."
      A pause.
      "Ain't no SWAT team showed up. No helichoppers flew over." he said, as if discussing the weather. "I figure that means either you ain't running from anything too bad or you covered your tracks. Which is it?"
      "It means they think I'm dead."
      The old man nodded. "Best track cover there is. And the way you were when I found you, they wasn't far wrong."
      She managed to lift herself up a bit. She was rewarded with a stab of pain from head to spine and a slightly better view. The old man ignored her. The ugly dog looked concerned.
      "You're my granddad."
      "I reckon so."
      "Thanks for taking me in."
      The old man laughed, and spared her a smile. "They say all chickens eventually come home to roost. I've found that to be true with everything from automobiles to love letters. Never figured family was any different."
      She painfully raised herself up even further. The dog slapped a paw over her, telling her to stop. Don't push it, lady. those big brown eyes reprimanded.
      Kelly grinned at him, and settled back. "I won't be here long." she told her grandfather.
      He continued to whittle. "Got plans, do you?"
      "They have my son. I'm gonna get him back."
      "Is that all you plan on gettin'?" The knife blade silently tossed slivers from the block to the floor.
      "No." she whispered.
      "Revenge." the old man said.
      "Revenge." she agreed.
      He finally looked at her. His eyes held true curiosity. "Was he a good man?"
      Tears finally came to her, burning a passage down her cheeks. "The best." she said.
      He nodded. And stood up, blade and block disappearing into the pocket of his coat.
      "Then I'll help." He straightened up. "You rest today. Tomorrow get up for breakfast. We'll start then."
      He left the room.
      She let the tears come until they stopped. No one saw but Fargo, who didn't mind.

      David was right. Her granddad's swords were nothing like the kendo blades.
      "They're not Japanese." he told her, as she experimented with them. "Made in that style, sure enough. But that writing on the side isn't Japanese. Nobody can tell me what sort of writing it is."
      She was in the front yard and he sat on the front porch, in a lawn chair, puffing contently on a pipe.
      "They can't tell me what sort of metal that is, either."

George Potter

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Re: The Crumbler: Book I - Six Sides
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2007, 09:09:31 pm »

The writing was peculiar. Runic, the David voice says in her mind. The metal is gray and flat. It doesn't reflect light. In fact, it seems to eat the light.
      The swords weigh almost nothing, but can cut through other metal. They can shave slices from an iron girder like her grandad's pen knife shaves wood.
      She likes them.
      She starts learning to use them. 

      Two months.
      Every day, from dawn till dark, she practices with the blades. She learns their desires and needs; they way they want to move. The ways that they want her to move.
      Movement defines desire, desire precedes movement. In this unbreakable loop she dances.
      Two months.
      Then the dream comes.

      In the dreams she climbs her granddad's mountain. She knows that at the top someone is waiting on her.
      She reaches the summit and looks around. She sees no one at first, then:
      A glimmer. The faint outline of a man.
      "David?" she asks, hoping.
      "Not yet." comes the ghostly voice.
      Sadness rises in her. She fights it down.
      "Who are you?"
      The phantom clarifies a bit. He's tall and skinny; this she can tell despite the fact that he's sitting in lotus position, attention focused on something in his lap.
      "Call me Mr. Slip." he says. "Call me the middleman."
      He flares then, shuddering into and out of reality. He types furiously at what she realizes is a computer in his lap:
      "Signal is faint. Let me see if I can amp it a bit..."
      She feels frozen. Moments pass like ice ages. Then...
      Mr. Slip reaches out a hand.
      "He's ready to talk."
      She hesitates, then lunges for the offered hand.
      Touch. Strange electricity pulses through her. Mr. Slips vague features melt and boil in a silver chaos.
      David stands before her, holding her hand. Smiling at her.
      "Told you I wouldn't leave you."
      "I saw you die." she whispers.
      "More to death than being gone, grasshopper."
      She laughs, like always, brushing tears away with her free hand.
      "Are you ready?"
      With dream-reason she knows what he's asking. If she's ready to go get Sean. If she's ready for revenge.
      It's like lust in her, those desires.
      "Sean is the important thing." David tells her, forever practical.
      "Of course." she agrees. "But the two are so interlinked. It's impossible to separate them now."
      David sighs, a spectral sound. "We're setting out on a strange path, baby. Are you ready for that?"
      She grips his hand as tight as she can. "I'm ready for anything. As long as you and Sean are with me."
      He nods. "Sean is at his father's house. He's fine as far as that goes. He misses his mother."
      He's fading. "Look for that guy. That Mr. Slip guy. He's...important. He knows things. Will you do that?"
      "Then wake up." David says, and slips inside her...

      She did, tossing the covers aside in annoyance.
      She dressed in front of the mirror. Skinny blond girl, not tall, not short. She thinks she saw a glimmer to her skin. She can feel David deep inside her.
      She took the swords and headed outside. She wasn't surprised to see Fargo waiting for her.
      "Can you keep up?" she asked him.
      Hell, lady -- I'll lead! those brown eyes and that mad grin told her.
      And he did.

      Ronnie Kinsmore lived in a large house on the other side of the mountain from her granddad's hole in the wall. Fargo led her there via secret dog trails. She had no trouble keeping up. Her muscles seemed on fire with energy, lit by the power of her desire for revenge, blazing with love for her son.
      They arrived at two minutes past midnight, stopping on the top of a small rise that afforded a good view of the house.
      Every light in the place blazed into the night, music blared and she could hear drunken laughter throbbing beneath the heavy bass signature.
      Ronnie was having a party, it seemed. The driveway was packed with cars: police cruisers mostly.
      My son is in that madhouse she thought, and the fury threatened to choke her. She took a deep breath and forced it down, forced calm into her muscles.
      Then she slipped from the rise and made her way to the house.
      Do this top down, instinct told her. She agreed.
      It's easier than anything, climbing the drainpipe to the second story window.
      Angie Duran shivered violently on the bed. Before her stood a ghost. A ghost she'd just watched kill three men with a pair of swords that fucking glowed.
      The guys had got a few licks in, but it had really been no contest. The ghost didn't even appear to be fighting.
      It looked like she was dancing.
      "K..K...Kelly?" she finally said. "You're 'sposed to be dead."
      Kelly stared at her, swords at her side.
      "Where is my son, Angie?"
      Angie swallowed. She was stoned out of her mind. What had been a pretty good party had went south mighty fast. But something told her not to lie to this ghost.
      "Ol' lady prolly has him downstairs." she said.
      Kelly nodded.
      "Put your clothes on and hide, Angie." the ghost told her. "That's your best chance if you want to live.
      And then she was gone.

      "Give me my son and I won't kill you." she repeats.
      She sees Bedelia Kinsmore passed out in a recliner beyond the knot of cops staring at her, her son squirming on top of her. She sees various pillwhores and hangers on abandoning the house like rats from a ship. She sees Ronnie Kinsmore's ugly face reacting badly.
      She sees Ronnie go for his gun.
      The swords decide for her. The runes flare, and she is in motion.
      Dancing, turning, movements performed before she thinks of them -- into the cops who become a gory mess of severed limbs and torn open throats.
      It lasts less than six seconds.
      None of them even get a gun out.
      Bedelia is awake, staring at her. Staring at the skinny blond wraith standing atop a pile of meat that used to be men. The swords hum with blue fire, dripping blood that boils from their metal. Unknown energy arcs between them.
      "What are you?" she whispers.
      My lady of blades David whispers to her, deep in her heart.
      "Sean Glynnis' mother." she tells the terrified woman.
      She sheathes the swords. She reaches for her son.
      Bedelia Kinsmore hands him over, trembling violently.
      She holds him, ignoring everything. Ignoring Angie Duran's half naked form running past her and out the open door. Ignoring Bedelia following her example.
      She holds her son and everything is allright. At least for the moment.
      One blessed moment.

      She goes through the cops wallets without a single misgiving. She finds three thousand dollars among them.
      On Ronnie she finds the two other things she needs. The keys to his Mazda and a Zippo lighter.

      She packed the car quickly, the way she did everything now. She took only essentials -- mostly stuff for the baby.
      In three rooms - one upstairs and two down -- she lit fires with the Zippo. Curtains, a bed, a closet full of clothes.
      The three grand she separated. Two thousand hidden in a tear under the back seat upholstery. Five hundred in her bra. Five hundred in the left front pocket of her jeans.
      The swords went under the driver's seat, arranged so that they were ready at a moment. Even that close, her hand itched for them.
      "Load up, Fargo." she said, opening the back door. He complied happily. She was proud of him. He'd left the fight to her but stayed close. He settled in and stared at her with devotion. He didn't care where they were going, only that they went together.
      The last thing she did was strap Sean into the passenger seat. Her son smiled at her and grabbed for her. He giggled.
      She smiled back and felt the same as Fargo. But she knew where she was going. Or at least the direction.
      West, David whispered in her head.
      "West." she agreed, and cranked the car.
      Behind her, Ronnie Kinsmore's house burned, a battle over and done with.
      She headed for the horizon, and the war just begun.

George Potter

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Re: The Crumbler: Book I - Six Sides
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2007, 09:11:37 pm »

Still not happy with Chapter Two, but tired of fucking with it. I'll revise it later.
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