Thursday, October 7, 2010


I'm listening to The Knux...yeah. They're okay.

Alright, well you didn't ask for you're getting it! More BTBBN!!!

Chapter 5
The Sorting Bat

Being woken up with his head bumping against the window was bad enough, but this time was worse. The entire bus was convulsing and leaping as it barreled down some back woods road, unpaved, with potholes the size of cows. Jacob looked around the bus; it was a scene of horror and confusion, children clinging to the backs of seats to keep from being flung out of them. Jacob’s backside hurt from the bucking which was so severe he hit the bar beneath the seat through its cushion. Somehow Ozzie remained asleep and mostly upright, and Jacob had no idea how Ozzie managed to stay in place when it was everything he could do to keep from being flung out of his seat entirely.
In fact, the rear wheels coming out of a deep pit somehow sent Jacob veritably flying over two seats and into the lap of the goth girl. With all the jostling and rocking they became entangled, and even though he was being constantly bruised and was horribly embarrassed at this upending, he was also touching a girl, and she was none too keen on it. “Get away from me you perv!” she yelled. Now there were two situations going on, and Jacob found it difficult to concentrate on both of them; blushing violently he managed, with the help of another pot hole, to roll overtop the seat in front of them. He wanted to catch his breath, but despite extricating himself from the embarrassing situation, he still had the bucking bus to contend with.
Eventually, and in the nick of time, the road seemed to smooth out. Jacob took the opportunity to move back into the seat with Ozzie, but instead of going up the aisle or over the seat, he decided to go under. He didn’t want to be seen by the girl just now; in fact, he thought it’d be best to never see her again.
He tried first to slide under head first, but the floor was disgusting, and as tight a fit as it was, he didn’t know how he could go head first and then manage to come back up; he would have to come back up feet first! So he went feet down instead, sliding himself under the seat. Jacob should have looked around before going under; if he had, he might have seen the cabins and surmised that they were near their destination. However, he was midway on his journey when the bus slowed and lurched to a stop, his feet below Ozzie and his head still in the seat behind. What slowed him down most was probably deciding which way would be the best to go; time was running short, and his primary aim was to avoid being seen by the goth girl.
He looked up, that is toward the back of the bus, and saw her white sneakers on the floor; she was standing it looked like, picking up her things. Why was she wearing white sneakers if she was goth? What types of shoes did goth kids usually wear? Jacob wasn’t sure that he knew. More immediately, kids were getting up and beginning to shuffle toward the front of the bus. At any moment somebody might look down and see him lying on the floor and immediately he’d be branded the weirdo of the camp. He couldn’t bare it; he covered up his face with his hands and prayed for it to just be over soon. If he didn’t see them looking at him, he could just deny it was him later. It made no sense, and yet he hoped it would work.
He could hear the kids passing by, and thankfully nobody was saying anything, then suddenly there was a strong tug on his pants leg and he was dragged forward swiftly until he was under his original seat.
“What were you doing down there?” asked Ozzie.
“Shhh!” shushed Jacob. Some short kid in a baseball hat with glasses was looking at them as he passed. Jacob tried to stand up as fast as he could, but it wasn’t easy; there was so little room between the seats he couldn’t figure out exactly how to get up. Once he managed to get back into his seat, Jacob just curled up into a ball and hid his face again.
Ozzie eventually coaxed him up and out of the bus. They were in the middle of a clearing surrounded by scrubby cedars and oak trees. Well, at least Jacob assumed they were oak trees; he actually couldn’t tell the difference between all the different sorts of trees that there were. The other kids were all out of the bus and seemed to be coalescing around a short old guy; he had no hair, and his face was wrinkled. He struck Jacob as being funny looking, because old people should be tall whereas this man wasn’t much bigger than most of the kids there. He wore a light cotton shirt, button up and short sleeve, with an A-shirt under it. There was a dark spot on his arm that Jacob could just see peaking out from under his sleeve, but he couldn’t tell if it was a birthmark or a worn out tattoo.
“Alright, kids,” he said in a voice at once high-pitched and gruff. “First things first; you’re gonna get your shit off that bus and stow it in those cabins over there, because the bus has to go pick up some more of you little shits. Then you’re gonna eat breakfast. Then you’re gonna get your shit out of those cabins, because that’s not where you’re gonna be staying.”
When the kids turned around, they saw that the bus driver and another man were already pulling the bags from beneath the bus and tossing them on the ground, kicking up clouds of dirt. The whole clearing was packed dirt and mud, with just a few ornery weeds sticking up on the tiny hills of dirt they managed to secure with their roots. None of the children were too pleased to see their belongings so rudely treated, but they were exhausted and in too much awe to complain. Also, despite his rough message, the old man seemed nice, and they didn’t want to make trouble for him.

Breakfast was strange, not least because it was really a very early lunch. Jacob had never had anything like it. He had expected one of two things: the same sort of cafeteria fare that was at school, or more sea cucumber. It wasn’t either. Instead, he had an ample portion of vegetables along with the tastiest hamburger he had ever eaten. The veggies were all cooked along side the meat on a griddle, it seemed, and they had picked up the meat’s flavor.
“I don’t understand this stuff,” said Ozzie, who Jacob was now glad to have as a friend, seeing as how he had embarrassed himself in front of a lot of the other kids. “It doesn’t taste anything like McDonalds.”
“No, it tastes…it tastes…good,” said a girl who was sitting with them. Her name was Betty. She was heavy set and looked older than Jacob and Ozzie, but middle school girls often did. She must have been four inches taller than Jacob and probably twice as heavy. She was not a small girl.
“It’s like it’s got…texture to it, or something,” said Ozzie, confused by the strange culinary experience.
Jacob ate most of his veggies, which when grilled up with the meat tasted far better than anything he ever remembered his mom fixing. Her vegetables always seemed mushy and somehow homogenous all the way through; eating broccoli was like eating a sponge. Still, he hesitated on the okra. He had never liked okra the few times he had it, but when all was said and done, he was still hungry when that was all that was left. He lifted one up on his fork; the outside was crispy and browned, all the usually offensive hairs seemingly seared off. He held his breath and took a bit. It was crispy, and the inside was a little gooey, but not as bad as he remembered. He still wasn’t sure that he liked it.
“Hey,” the kid beside him said, “are you going to eat the rest of your okra?”
“Y-yes!” said Jacob, guarding his plate from prying forks. He guessed he must like it enough.
The kid who had asked for his okra was named Willy. He was the same kid with glasses who had seen Jacob lying on the floor of the bus. He seemed pretty nice, all in all, if not a bit obviously geeky. Jacob pondered briefly if geeky looking people were just naturally interested in geeky things, or if they just got pigeonholed into that sort of thing because it’s what everybody expected of them.
“Alright you maggots,” said the old man in his gruff yet eerily friendly voice, having suddenly appeared at the door, “bus your plates and let’s go sort you out. The bus is coming back with more kids.”
In fact, the bus was driving up just as Jacob was putting his plate in the bin with the other dirty dishes; he heard it pull up outside and could see it through the big screen windows. There was a trashcan beside the bus station for scraping, but he had absolutely no food left to scrape. That was a first. Even meals he liked okay he usually got tired of.
They bustled outside. For no particular reason, everybody seemed eager to see the new kids arriving. They practically fell off the bus; their ride must have been even more exhausting than Jacob’s. They gathered around the old man who barked instructions fearsomely at them and then moved their things under the porch of the building that had just been used as a cafeteria while Jacob’s bunch stood nearby. Something about being there before them, even if it was only for half a morning, gave all the early morning kids a feeling of being old hands.
Jacob had no idea what time it was; he didn’t wear a watch and his phone (as per camp rules) had been left at home, leaving him feeling naked and alone. Maybe it was nearer lunch time after all; the day was hazy, but it seemed like the glare of the sun behind the clouds came from somewhere near the top.
Perhaps it was because they were tired, but all the new kids seemed pretty bland to Jacob. Nobody really stood out from anyone else. Even Ozzie, as dopey as he looked, had his own something special about him. None of these kids even seemed real. With the exception of one kid. There was this short kid with blond hair. The hair was cut short, and it looked like he had a faux-hawk except for that it appeared to do whatever it was doing naturally. Most striking were his eyebrows, which arched and were pointed at the top like some sort of owl. What got really Jacob’s attention, however, was the fact that as soon as he got off the bus, the boy was glaring at him. Straight at him. And scowling.
“So,” said the old man, once everybody was gathered in one big group, “we’re going to break up into teams.”
There were now at least forty kids in all, and just the one old man there, seemingly, along with this really non-descript guy. Jacob could never remember what the non-descript guy looked like when he wasn’t around. Sometimes Jacob would even forget that he had been around at all.
“Alright, so, you go over there, and you go over there, too. And you, go over there,” he said, pointing at Jacob.
“Hey, that’s the kid from the bus who jumped on me with a boner!” shouted the goth girl.
In a split second Jacob’s cheeks were roasting. “I did not!” shouted Jacob. It was a lie, but what else was he supposed to say. He looked around. Some of the girls looked at him with disgust, others with curiosity, still others as though they didn’t know what a boner actually was. The boys mostly looked down, the very idea of such an occurrence enough to stir their own pubescent impulses.
“Alright, perverts over there,” said the old man, pointing. Jacob walked over and stood alone by one of the scrubby weeds growing out of the packed dirt.
Once everybody was finally broken into two groups, he sent them away in different directions, but Jacob couldn’t hear well enough to know where. The old man turned around, “Oh, are you still there ya pervert? I was just kidding, go after that group over there.”
“Yes, sir,” said Jacob, not sure if he was relieved or not. He trotted away, after the other kids.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I've been lazy lately and preoccupied with my other project, an as yet unnamed board game.

So I'm in Barne's and Nobles a few times a week because I tutor in there--don't buy from them, shop local!--and occasionally I'll go pick up a fantasy novel to see what the state of the art of fantasy is. One of the more interesting things I see is this desire to make metaphors sound scary with flourishes of ghouls and such. So you end up with things like, "She shuddered as though chilled by the devil's own kiss." Or even, "The wood was rotten and old, like the wood of a vampires coffin!" And you have to ask whether these really work as metaphors when they make a comparison to something that we here in the real world are not familiar with. I've never been kissed by a devil. I mean, I think I actually misquoted the second one, because I seem to recall the author talking about something smooth, so it was as smooth as a coffin's lid maybe... that belonged to a vampire! Is that smoother than a modern coffin lid? Do vampires keep their lids extra smooth? Or "As she spoke she slurped her words, as though sucking the marrow from a bloody bone." Really, does the bone need to be bloody? Does it make a different noise? Really, I think most people nowadays have probably never actually slurped marrow from a bone, bloody or not. The bloody just seems kinda, " needs something, uh, BLOOD!" I think the image of speaking like you're sucking marrow sounds nasty enough; I think I'll swipe it and use it myself; woot.

Have you ever slurped marrow from a bone? I have. Its delicious.

Its no wonder, however, because so many people are divorced from reality, from metaphors you could find in nature, that your left making up shit...a vampire's coffin is just as real to a kid nowadays as a dank wood or a beetle's shell; those things are practically fantasy as well. Really, considering the detachment from traditional comparisons modern folk suffer from, wouldn't it actually make sense to use more anachronism in our metaphors? For instance: "Ashthar watched as Beatrique the she-wizard mounted her horse and rode away, leaving him feeling wretched and alone inside, like when a text message is not immediately answered."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Just an update

The rewrite for Oraphan Cycle continues. I'm fairly pleased with the overall change in temperament I'm doing, though some of the individual changes need more going over to get where I want to be. I'm about 1/3 through my first sweep, and after that I expect to do one more and then small fixing here and there. Nobody else is, so I guess I'll give myself some encouragement: Keep up the good work me!

In other news, here's just a little BTBBN for you; not a whole lot happening here, just finishing off the chapter and onto a new one...when Jacob gets to Camp!

BTBBN, ch3 Continues...

Jacob’s head hurt where it was tapping against the window from the bus rocking back and forth as it trundled along the highway. He didn’t even remember moving to the window side of the seat. But that wasn’t what had disturbed his sleep, anyway; he’d been ignoring that for awhile, forcing himself into a doze over and over again. What had woken him was the tugging at his shoes. His eyes half opened and he half saw Ozzie sitting on the floor beside his feet; it looked like he was sniffing at Jacob’s shoe laces.
“What’re you doing?” asked Jacob groggily.
“Nothing! What?” Ozzie moved so quickly to the seat that Jacob wondered if he hadn’t been there all along.
“What’re you doing?” he asked again, the speaking part of his brain lagging behind the sleeping part, which was trying to get elsewhere. “Were you sniffing my shoes?”
“No. I’m sleeping.”
“Snore,” snored Ozzie. It wasn’t convincing, but Jacob didn’t care and fell back to sleep.

It all seemed very real at the time, and yet sometime between falling asleep and waking, Jacob had dreamily fostered the hope that he would awake to find himself back in school, three weeks left, and never a mention of a mysterious summer camp. Never had he been so glad to be in Mr. Malachi’s English class; it didn’t even bother him that he was teaching Hungarian math techniques, had a magic wand, and kept using it to make gummy bears come out of a kid’s nose. Strangest of all was that Jacob felt really hungry, and kept having to resist eating the nosey gummy bears because it was really gross.
It still all made sense in the dream, though, and so Jacob felt disappointed surprise as he found himself looking out through the grey morning light over acres of government subsidized corn and some other crops which he couldn’t recognize because it wasn’t corn. Jacob looked around the bus. The bus driver’s capped head bobbed up and down; the hair sprouting from beneath his hat was short and coarse and mostly gray. Ozzie was sprawled languorously beside him, and Jacob had no idea how he remained upright in that position. He was snoring peacefully, much more convincingly then last night; Jacob felt pretty sure that Ozzie had been fiddling with his feet, even though he had been far from certain the night before.
There was the girl decked out in goth gear the few rows back, staring away from the window, seemingly at nothing, but definitely not at Jacob. Somehow or other, her hair was still perfectly straight and shimmery in the ironic pink braids she wore. He could see a few more heads of hair peaking up from behind seats, sleepy legs dangling beneath. Then he became aware of that distinct school bus smell: dust and cold, sweaty Naugahyde.
Jacob looked around the bus, daring to stand up, partially hoping and partially fearing that his movement would disturb Ozzie. He was bored and wanted somebody to talk to, but he didn’t think he’d want to talk to Ozzie. The movement caught the attention of goth girl, and their eyes met briefly, at which point she quickly turned away to stare outside with a smug aloofness. There really weren’t that many kids on the bus. Jacob did a quick count; there were only seven he saw, though maybe a few were curled up sleeping.
He sat back down, making the seat bounce a little. Ozzie didn’t budge. Just in the few moments that Jacob had been standing, the fake leather seat had gotten cold again. Sitting on it sent chilly goose bumps all over his skin; he very subtly tried to get closer to Ozzie for warmth, but it was no use. The way the kid was sitting was bizarre, almost like he was standing slantwise, and somehow Jacob couldn’t figure out how he was supposed to even get any closer to him. He curled back up on the seat, hugging his knees to himself for warmth and feeling very hungry. He stared out the window until he fell asleep again.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Because you Deserve it

Hey, look! To celebrate the completion of the first draft of Oraphan, here's a page of BTBBN I just now wrote. Since I'm tired, its bound to be wonderful. Enjoy with reckless abandon!

Ben Thompson Brooks: Boy Necromancer, Chapter something, part 2

The length of time during which Jacob was locked in the cooler cab seemed interminable. The shopping mall parking lot into which they finally pulled was desolate and empty, with only a few cars parked here and there. Jacob wondered why there were any cars there at all. Next to the What-a-Burger a little school bus patiently waited. It looked just like the one the Cadillac man had been in that day, but it didn’t have Jacob’s name scrawled all over the side. Instead it had in big white letters ‘WJCNCBS’. Jacob assumed it stood for ‘Wild Jim’s Country Necromancy Camp and Boarding School’, and it struck him that the acronym might actually be more of a mouthful than the name proper.
“You go aheadz,” said Virgil. “I weel get your books on dez bus.”
“Are you sure you can get them?” asked Jacob concerned, for he had no idea how the small possum could transport all the books, or even one for that matter, but he was tired and ready for any chance to sit and fall to sleep. “Thanks,” said Jacob, his eye lids drooping.
“Serzly? You will let poor little possum carry all your heavy books for you?” cried Virgil.
“But you just said…” said Jacob, too tired to even manage some good indignation.
“How boyzes raisez today? How I’m supposed carry your books? I have no even opposable thumb!”
“Fine!” said Jacob, his eyes shut.
He was mostly asleep as he stumbled back and forth between the bus and the taxi. When he was finally done, which was either much quicker than he would have thought, or nearly half the night, he crawled up the steps of the bus, taking the last one on his hands and knees. He didn’t even look around to see the other kids on the bus, but felt that if he could just stumble in the right direction he could fall into an unoccupied seat. Sensing one nearby, he careened leftward, directly into the lap of a mystified girl dressed in all black with those black, spiky bracelets you find at HotTopic.
“Get off me you twerp!” she seethed at the sudden intrusion upon her person.
“What? Ohmygawd I’m so sorry!” said Jacob, shocked, but still not really awake.
KPOW! KPOW! KPOW! Jacob suddenly leaped out of his skin at the crack of three gun shots from behind him. The girl’s face exploded into a pulpy mess but then dissolved into black goo. Her livid grimace transformed into a circular maw full of spiral rows of lamprey teeth, her tentacles showing black and oily in the parking lot fluorescence.
“How’d one of those get on here?” he heard Virgil say from somewhere.
“I dunno, just slipped on, I reckon.”
“What was that?” cried Jacob.
“Don’t worry about it, Jacob,” said a man in a cowboy hat. “Didn’t really happen; you’re just sleepy. Why don’t you take a seat next to Ozzy here and get acquainted.
“Hi, I’m Ozzy,” said Ozzy from the seat just beside where Jacob now stood. He was short and pale with fuzzy brown hair, cut short so that the loose curls formed a strange sort of flat top. His face was rough with acne and he wore a greasy peach fuzz mustache over his lip that he dared not shave lest he disturb the crop of pimples which grew there. “What’s your name? Jacob? It’s really nice to meet you; I’ve heard so much about you, the one who didn’t quite die.”
“What?” asked Jacob, perplexed, his drowsiness overtaking him beside all the activity, most of which he figured was a dream. After all, he saw no sign of the squid monster goth girl, and the man seemed to be gone. Yes, he had imagined all of it.
“Whoops, I said too much. Don’t worry about it. So my name’s Ozzy. I really like stuff and things. What sort of things do you like to do? One of my favorite things to do is play role playing games; do you know what those are?”
Jacob groaned and turned away, desperate for salvific sleep. Who cared about squid monsters and cryptic messages and geeks, he jus wanted beyond anything else on earth to be able to curl up and fall asleep. But even now, the poorly padded seats thwarted his efforts, the metal frame of the seat rubbing against his shoulder blades.
“Aren’t there any other seats?” asked Jacob wearily as he turned to look around the bus. He thought he saw an empty seat somewhere, but the haze of his fading conscious was against refocused at the pestilential poking upon his shoulder by Ozzie.
“Hey, hey. Don’t you think this cool? I’ve been waiting ever since school got out to go to this camp. Do you know what it is? It’s a necromancy camp; know what that is? We get to talk to the dead and stuff. I hope there’s other kids that like to play role playing games there, because I have lots of characters of different levels, so I’m ready to play with anybody. Hey, hey. Do you ever play Magic?”
“No,” said Jacob, which was a lie. He had an infamously bad deck. Eric had gotten him into it, even though Eric didn’t play anymore, and Jacob still spent time during the school year Thursdays in the band hall trading and playing with some of the band nerds, who were the lowest ranking nerds he was willing to hang out with. Even then, it was on a very limited basis.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A deep sigh of relief, a deep sigh for the work ahead.

The first draft of Oraphan Cycle part 1 is now complete...and available for download for the first five followers of my blog!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

I write like...

Hey, so, there's this site that takes samples of your writing and decides who you write most like.

I've been putting in the various chapters in order, and so far I think I've gotten: Oscar Wilde, Dan Brown, Dan Brown, Jonathan Swift, Anne Rice, feck! More Dan Brown! Crap. Scarred for like; I might as well quit; I'm a hack...but when I put in the whole story...wait for it...OSCAR WILDE! Yes!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Amphersand, Dollar Sign, asterix...

For some reason Oraphan Cycle has decided to lock itself from editing...yeah...ummm...I can't work on it, in other words...I hate technology.