I am pretty much done (for now) with the whole moving drama. Next year comes the house. I expect that to be just as much fun as these last four months have been. Yay!
But I sit here right now with my Word open and the clown story up and am rewriting/editing it. Mainly editing, it was pretty much set to go as far as structure. I am just making the words flow better, and making it more coherent. Some of the story simply didn’t make sense because I wrote it flash-style.
I also dug up my Nano project, The Five Deaths of Horace Gumble, and am giving that a look. That was also a piece of flash writing since I didn’t know I was doing Nano until Halloween night. I am not sure if I can use that piece (50,000 words) as a whole. Flash writing a short story is one thing, carrying it on that long? It was tough.
Since I last posted the original clown story (sorry, I still haven’t given it a name) in 2015 (I think) I’ll repost the original here if anyone cares to enjoy it. Also I’ll leave a chunk of Horace Gumble below it was well (a chunk of Horace Gumble… heh, that’s funny given how many times he get carved up in the story).
Sad Face stood in the middle of the small room surrounded by his peers. The pasty white of his face was smeared with red and his frown was twice turned down. Sad Face stroked a large orange tabby cat sitting upon his protruding diaphragm. His inquisitors made a circle around him at tables too low and chairs too small. It was a classroom, a colorful children’s classroom of rainbows, alphabets, and of bears, bees, flowers and trees; all cut out of construction paper and adorning the four walls.
Grimrole the Peeker, Curly the Cue,
Puss in Boots, Laughing Lady, and Ralph formed the opposition to Sad Face on his right. They too were of pasty reflection and sour prism. But theirs was an arrow, an angry bow, and their frowns were for Sad Face.
Rascal, Galoshes, Hubris, and Candor the Gondor, formed Sad Face’s opposition to the left. They too were of pasty reflection and sour prism, but also of envious spectrum and malice aforethought. They were the strongest of any of the multitudinous factions that made up the group of nine. At last count there were no less than thirty-six factions among the group of nine, each in a war with the other. And many more factions within the matrices of the individual members.
They were a contentious group!
The cat that sat aplomb on Sad Face’s belly was Nelly. She had lives for the each of them.
And she may need them this night.
“What have you to say for yourself, Face?” sneered Puss in Boots.
“Nothing,” said Sad Face. He petted Nelly absentmindedly and Nelly let him absentmindedly.
Hubris stood up and pointed a preposterously white and large finger in Face’s direction, “This clown is too old to be one of us! Look at the silly things he plays at! I say we dispose of him!”
There was a swell of snarling, conjecture, objection, bellowing and posing from both sides of the table. Sad Face stared at the floor. It was hard to tell if there was fear in the pancake or whether there was syrup to hit the floor. He just stood there stroking Nelly’s fur. And while Nelly may have enjoyed that absentmindedly, she did not enjoy the sudden gash of scarlet cacophony that splintered across the room and she raised her cackles and hissed at the rioters.
“Quiet!” roared Candor the Gondor. He rose as he said this and the bellow of his voice masked the breaking of both chair and table and the spilling onto the floor of his allies, Galoshes and Hubris. These two, their feet being of absurd size, struggled to get up; and their giant heads of frizzy, discolored hair bobbed up and down in their fight.
“Do we forget?” said Curly the Cue as he twirled one length of his long, green mustache, “Do we forget who Sad Face is?”
“What does that matter?” hissed Grimole the Peeker peering coyly from behind his woman’s scepter, a cream colored fan, and batted his exquisite lashes at Puss in Boots who turned away in mortal disgust (as did anyone). Peeker giggled. “We eat our young. Why not throw away the old?”
“Or eat them too!” Cried Laughing Lady and she broke into mad shrieks of laughter causing the others to cover their ears in anguish.
Ralph sprang up atop his desk and sang basso, “And just who is this Sad Face we speak of?” It was a serious question because Ralph could not remember anything that was not sung from day to day.
Ignoring Ralph except to answer his question, spoke Hubris. “He is the first of us. The first to put out a light because it lit. To dirty a puddle because it was clear.”
“But I, I was the first to stick a knife in a baby’s eye because it enjoyed its sight!” This was Rascal whose full name was Rascal Animus.
“That is all well and fine, Rascal. And surely we would not have come as far as we have unless you had brought us to such ghastly refinement. But Hubris is saying you did it because of Sad Face. He was our father.”
“Bah!” Lashed out Rascal and pulled a long knife out of his drooping drawers and plunged it into Sad Face’s belly – and through Nelly in the process.
“My Nelly!” cried Puss in Boots.
Sad Face looked up at Rascal through shaggy red eye brows, “That was uncalled for, don’t you think?” Nelly’s body sagged against the long shaft of the blade. Sad Face grabbed the handle of the knife, pulled it out of himself and tossed it ringing onto the floor. Nelly fell to the floor and Puss in Boots rushed to her side sobbing.
“Are you not going to die?” asked Rascal.
“No, I think not. I haven’t dirtied my last puddle, nor shed my last mocked tear.”
“I’ll hold a seance, a rite, a ritual, or find some patch of earth for you to spring from, my sweet.” Puss carried her off to her seat, sat down, stroked her bloodied fur and glared at Rascal with enough venom to make a coven run for cover.
“It is so odd she cares for something. Goes against our most basic objectives, does it not?” asked Rascal abstractly to no one in particular.
I’ll be done with the rewrite soon. And I’ll post both side by side (or, probably, one on top of the other).
Of the THE FIVE DEATHS OF HORACE GUMBLE I’ll just post some picked scenes since nothing put the whole would give anyone a clue to what any part of it means. Probably true of most stories, but definitely of this mess!
THE FIVE DEATHS OF HORACE GUMBLE:
Horace had nothing to say – couldn’t think of anything to say. Hi, nice to meet you, Mr. Apparition, or Dr. Hallucination or whatever part of my melting brain you represent. But he knew that the Spaniard existed outside his mind even though he couldn’t explain his existence. So Horace did what came naturally, the direct route.
“And you are…?”
The Spaniard grinned widely, “I, Mr. Gumble, am your dancing partner. We shall do quite a few numbers over time. However, I suppose I need a name to go by…hmm,” he tapped a finger against his chin, “how about Mr. Legion, would that suit you?”
“You were the one looking for me at the bar on 5th yesterday weren’t you?”
“Oh, I was! The old man at the bar thought I was the Devil himself!”
“He told you that?”
“No, I read it off the top of his soggy old brain. Or whisked it off the soaked mesh of his soul if you prefer.” The Spaniard – Mr. Legion – took a last pull on his cigarette and then it simply disappeared.
Horace didn’t know why it was this that made his heart start to beat hard and fast in his chest and for the mortal sensation of fear creep up the back of his arms and over his shoulders. Making a cigarette disappear would be an amateur magician’s trick as simply as pulling a quarter from behind a child’s ear. Now that he thought about it maybe this is what he was dealing with, a magician. After all, what he had seen was merely a man’s reflection on a mirror start walking away from the body that projected it, and the two hadn’t even resembled each other. A trick of light, two separate men, and a complicit woman… or a blind one, more likely complicit.
“But to what end?” whispered Horace to himself.
“Listen, if Legion is too direct for you, and it really isn’t accurate, how about Billy?”
“Yes, like Billy Goat.”
Horace looked away down the street, “Cute, another devil reference,” he turned back to Billy Goat, “listen whoever you are-“
“Billy – Goat,” Billy Goat offered with a slight bow of the head. Mockery? The action, the mannerism, the appearance, and the voice all clashed now each one seeming a different entity.
“Sure, Billy the Damned Goat baaa. It is obvious to me now that Mr. Taggert’s wife is onto his spying. Although why she would go through this rouse, or prank is beyond me. What’s the game?”
Billy the Spanish Legion Goat gestured across the street to the the studio, “Why don’t you see for yourself, Mr. Gumble, what the game is?”
Horace looked to the studio. And through the window he saw the Weasel take Mrs. Taggert by the hair and then come up around behind her so that he now faced both Horace and Billy Goat across the street.
Only now the Weasel had Horace’s face and grinned wickedly at him and stuck out his tongue. Then he slashed Mrs. Taggert’s throat from ear to shining ear. She fell to the floor leaving a sprinkler pattern of blood across the window. Horace-Weasel stood there with bloodied hands and knife smiling. Two or three passersby saw the carnage on the floor, the widening pool of blood and one of them, an older lady, screamed.
Screams in the middle of lunch hour!
Horace-Weasel stood looking back at each passersby, their numbers accumulating to about ten people now.
He’s making sure plenty of people see my face! Horace realized in dumb amazement.
Horace-Weasel after leering and posturing for the growing crowd broke for the studio door at a run.
“Uh-oh. Now what do you suppose Horace-Weasel is doing now?” Billy-Goat said, “Think he’s going to come over here and finish you off too? Oh, that would be delicious!”
Horace got up as Horace-Weasel dove headfirst into the street at a full sprint looking for all the world as a man on the run. He was locked on Horace and was running straight for him. Horace steeled himself into a forward fighting stance. He’d take Horace-Weasel without a weapon. Horace liked a good fight and he now felt the blaze of adrenaline pump through his veins. But just as Horace-Weasel closed in the man seemed to fade and and disappear and Horace felt something thrust into his right hand. He looked down.
It was the bloody knife that ripped open Mrs. Taggert’s neck.
“Murderer!” Yelled Billy-Goat pointing at Horace, “Help! Murderer!” Then he leaned in a little to Horace, “You better run, boy.”
The next morning Saim woke up early and got straight to his morning chores. He could no more sleep after opening his eyes than he could get the visions of his assignment out of his dreams. The Elischk book had been surreal – and he hadn’t been able to get to the end of the first chapter before lights out. The things he talked about. Surfers on the waves of time? What would that even mean? And apparently, so claimed Elischk, you could through training and a leap of faith, observe these mythological creatures as they move around our realm.
Saim was a man of faith about many things. But boy what a robe-full!
He finished his chores early keeping to himself as much as possible. His mind was preoccupied with going over what was before him. The strait of Ambiguity, it was a name he had only heard of, but it seemed like a place you could get lost in. What, he wondered, was ambiguous about them? He had read a little about the Mabi people, but he didn’t remember much. Were they the ones that ate the flesh of their our kinsmen? I should check that before I go, he thought, and laughed nervously to himself. The Great Desert was no mystery at all. It was a giant, hot, arid desert, rocky and mountainous.
Asylum of the Betrothed. Those lunatics. They worship a man they think was a god. If he remembered his reading correctly the authorities had thrown this man from a cliff similar to the Cliffs of Despair overlooking the strait of Ambiguity. They had then named it the Cliff of Silence because they had silenced the man. But they hadn’t silenced his followers. The Asylum of the Betrothed was only one of many such asylums of the group scattered over the known regions from the strait to the Great Desert to The Highlands, and he had been told by a traveler once, even on the other side of the Great Water. Some of the asylums had been burned or razed to the ground over the many years since their leader had met his death. The local rulers, or warlords usually, did not take kindly to a group of unkempt men trying to divest his subjects of the sanctioned deities of the state. So when soldiers came to destroy the asylum, they usually slaughtered the Betrothed as well.
The Riders Outside Time.
“I see you have mastered it.” Gangia was suddenly beside him.
“Mastered what? I can barely comprehend what I am seeing,” answered Saim.
“And yet here we are among the Riders surfing the same waves as they.”
“We are not moving… Are we?”
“You already know the answer to that. Only one who has mastered the situation of being here which is not a where can get his mind to grasp the Riders. Even if you cannot speak the language of eternity yet.”
“I do not understand,” said Saim flustered.
“When you first came here, and you already know came and here are contradictions here because there is not one or the other without its opposite. But anyway. When you first came here you saw and experienced this for exactly what it is. It is only by grasping it that you can start to have experience in it. But unlike the unyielding world of time and object where you are just another object in the coffin of time, here, that is not here, you have to write yourself upon it. That is why the Riders appear as they do. You see them as lacking attributes or definite attributes. But they are making attributes not perceiving them.”
Saim had the experience of trying to turn towards Gangia. Instead he simply created the attribute of turning to see Gangia. As a being of becoming, he could not turn to an object like turning to look at a book on the floor because he, Gangia, and the Riders were not objects in time. Gangia (thought of Gangia?) flowed in the flowing and then was Gangia. Gangia smiled and ascended to Saim as on a cloud to the heavens.
“And I,” said Gangia walking toward him, “have created you. You see all this? All this river of tapestry? This is the Riders creating. If we were to try to experience what they are creating we would create for ourselves sight such as to see their creation. That can be tricky because we do not know outside of their creation what they have created. Therefore how would you guess the means of perceiving their creation? I once spent a journey here trying to perceive a certain Rider’s creation, I think it was the same constant Rider, anyway. I tried a thousand if ten ways of perceiving his creation and each one was just this becoming you see before all around you now.”
“But, Gangia, what are they creating? Who are they? Are they the dead? Are they spirits that make the world?”
“Even Elischk didn’t know this. No one knows.”
Suddenly on a whim Saim produced for himself an apple and bit into it. The juices of the apple ran down his mouth and dripped off his chin, he beamed at Gangia happily.
Gangia stared back at him unimpressed. “That is the best you could come up with? An ordinary apple from our world? That shows a great lack of creativity.” Suddenly a giant beast came at Gangia, pink of skin and snarling through a wide mouth. It had great hooves for feet and floppy pink ears – a pig? A boar?. Then an instant later Gangia was transformed into an even larger beast resembling a towering ape with a head that was only a giant maul with razor sharp teeth and no neck. The beast’s arms were bulging muscles and its hands were talons of gleaming claws.
The ape-beast plunged his dagger-like claws deep into the boar’s side. The smaller beast howled mightily as Gangia-Ape lifted the pig-boar into the air. Absurdly, flame jetted out from the the ape-beast’s middle and burned the pig-beast alive still thrashing and screaming as it its flesh finished roasting to a dark crispy color. Then the Gangia-Beast pushed the poor pig into its maul whole. Saim could see the thing’s neck bulge like some man-eating snake as the boar-beast was pushed down into the ape’s stomach. A moment later the giant beast belched and the Saim felt the creation Gangia had made tremble.
The men in front of Saim stopped so suddenly at the foot of the plateau where the path met that Saim ran into the back of one of them. There was a figure cresting the path and the figure then stood at the foot of the raised plateau. It was the Dark Surfer, Legion, The Spaniard.
“Step aside, men with sticks, I have no business with you. Leave me to my prey and you will see the sunrise tomorrow. If not, you die right here.”
The men before the Dark Surfer hesitated but did not forfeit their defensive positions. They awaited command.
“Kill him,” commanded Helbec.
The two men in front of Helbec lunged forward with their swords and struck their target. One of them pierced the dark one through the chest just below the diaphragm, the other hacked sideways at the neck downward almost clear to the sternum.
Legion didn’t budge. He stood there with a look of bored amusement on his face. “Tsk tsk tsk, gentleman. You cannot say I did not give fair warning.” The two warrior in front of him stared gape mouthed at the impossibility confronting them. Both of their blows had been clearly mortal; the man should have fallen dead before hitting the ground. Instead he showed less reaction than having been bit by a mosquito. In fact, he didn’t appear to have felt anything all. Before the soldier to Saim’s left knew what had happened his own sword left Legion’s body and slipped, unresisting into his abdomen and then cut up through his intestines. Blood poured from his mouth, his eyes rolled back to whites and he fell sideways to the earth. In the next instance there was a slight gasp heard and then the sound of the second warrior’s head hitting the ground and rolling away. The body remained standing though weaving. The Dark Surfer blew at him with his breath and the body toppled over.
Awe and disbelief held the others frozen for an instance before terror set them free.
There was only one safe way off the plateau and that was through the Dark Surfer. As Saim, unarmed, backed away, Helbec’s soldiers rushed forth to attack. He saw a few of them take the opportunity to go around the foray and attempt to sneak down the path to safety. The Dark Surfer flicked his hand behind him and they were launched far into the air screaming; they were thrown far of the plateau and the path to crash far below into the trees and boulders. Then he started to advance.
Saim turned and ran. He sprinted to the opposite end of the plateau tripping and falling over he knew not what and scrambling up again and running. The sounds behind him were terrible, wails and the sound of ripping flesh and sound of bodies hitting the ground. He came to the opposing edge of the plateau and started down sideways with his hands grasping earth, twig and weed to keep from slipping into a free fall. After a moment of scrambling down the slope he heard something coming down after him. It was bouncing and rolling towards him fast. Just as he was turning to see what it was it passed him by. But a glint of moonlight struck the object as it bounced in the air in its tumble.
The midwife got out of the chair with the child in her arms and came over timidly to the tall one. She looked up at him from underneath her heavy eyelids and raised the child up to him. She began to tremble and averted his face when she saw a sneer slide across that angular face. She placed the child into his large hands and scurried back to the corner and curled up high into the back of the chair.
He looked down at the mother in the bed, “You have served your city well.”
And then all went silent and still as the dark man snapped the newborn child’s neck and dropped him onto the floor.
“Almost no life that time, Mr. Gumble,” he said with a slight smile and turned to leave the cottage.
The mother, who had remained in a state of paralyzing disbelief at what she had saw, began to scream and scream and scream. She bounded, clumsily, over the foot of the bed and fell to the floor smacking her cheek on the packed dirt floor. Unfazed she went to her child, picked him up and held him. The three remaining hooded men started, stopped, ran into each other, stammering and gibbering. Then one of them started for the door and the other two followed.
And then I just found out in preparing this that the last seven chapters of my work are simply gone. Did I seriously only save that to Dropbox? Am I an idiot? It appears so. I know better than to not backup!