Hey everyone. Got word back from Neil Clarke on my submission, “The Black Wind”. He stated that “…unfortunately [my] story isn’t quite what’re we’re looking for right now.” While I’m a bit bummed that I didn’t get accepted, I still appreciate the opportunity and hard work he and his team must do in order to go through so many submissions. I also wanted to extend a thank you to Clarkesworld Magazine for giving this outlet for many up and coming authors.
With that said I’m re-uploading my short story to its original post for everyone to read. I know some of you didn’t get a chance to do that. Please feel free to leave me any critiques you want in the comments section.
Now is where I put that one behind me and keep moving forward with my next projects and ideas. I’ve whittled it down to two ideas that I’ll flesh out further. Both are a couple of shorts, but I feel one can be drawn out to a full novel. Thanks for stopping by.
Going on with the idea of “The Snow Flake Method” I have written down six ideas. Some would work well as a shorty story. While others could easily be fleshed out to a novel. The first two are actually one and the same. They are both different perspectives of the same story. The reason I broke them into separate “flakes” was to be able to work on them with complete attention to its particular theme. Those two are specifically for my Dragon Age module. Each story represents one of the two origins you can pick to kick start the adventure.
Here is the list I have come up with:
1. A secret village of City Elves has been discovered and now much decide whether to fight or flee.
2. The town of Marstone is fighting off the Dark Spawn strike squads when they come across a hidden village of City Elves.
3. A Stormtrooper grows disenfranchised with the Empire and defects with explosive consequences.
4. An aging hit-man who underwent experimental bio-engineering must contend with the younger more advanced generation.
5. A young man runs a foul of an ancient artifact that hurls him into a world of horror and heroism.
6. A galactic general seeks to bring down an empire of nepotistic leaders and free the known worlds.
Each of those are more or less straight from my journal. I need to spend some more time on each and really flesh out that single sentence to make sure it is as engaging and descriptive as it can be. There are a few I’m still not entirely happy with. Currently I’m leaning the most towards the Stormtrooper idea as it is the most solid in my mind and would be a quick short story. The others (excluding the modules) will require a fair amount of prep work on designing the world and different technologies. I’ll keep everyone posted on what I decide to start on.
I’m currently getting a bunch of ideas written down in a single sentence format. I was turned onto the ‘Snowflake Method’ by Randy Ingermason and I’m trying it out for my next few pieces. So far it is a pretty interesting method to develop in. To summarize the idea; you start small by writing a single sentence that captures the entire story. Then, you move onto expanding that into a paragraph. Your next step is to take each of your major characters and write up a summary about them. This continues on, writing a smaller version and building things up. For me the term snowflake doesn’t work so well as saying fractal. Its a single part that keeps building up and up to make a beautiful image. I highly recommend other writers take a look at it.
Of these accounts I tell you now, for if I hold onto these dark dealings I fear that I may be torn asunder. I must start by telling you about my shared office at Harvard University. It was a small corner affair set in the basement of the science hall as the university no longer had decent accommodations for new staff. It was always a bit cold, even in the summers, and still had scores of discarded boxes filled with assorted equipment for the labs. This caused the already small room to close in upon us, the boxes looming precariously above our heads. We made due with two simple desks pushed together and facing one another in the middle of the square office. Mine faced into the room, but both were constantly covered in discarded class lectures and ungraded papers. Most notably were the piles of books that nearly consumed what little desk and floor space we had left. The peculiar thing about a good deal of these books were their lack of titles. They were old and forgotten by time. Their pages yellowed and stiff with age. Many were rebound by loving hands with just needle and thread. It was this obsession with discarded, ancient, and forgotten texts that my colleague and I bonded.
His name was Justin Hewitt, a professor of Ancient History. My particular area of study lay in Archaeology. We spent many an hour going round and round about our different loves, each fascinated in turn with the other. Over time we began to bring in our collections of books to show one another. This eventually grew into a sort of gentlemanly sport to try and trump one another’s latest discovery of some old text or volume. These contest built steadily over the next few years. Every week we would take turns presenting some fragment of forgotten knowledge. Now, I must confess that Justin always had a way of finding the most obscure tomes or reference papers. Many times he often would concede to defeat, but I could always see a glint in his eyes and a tug at the corner of his lip. Then, the next week he would reveal some ancient writing that made mine previously, pale by comparison. I believe now, on those particular occasions, Justin merely set me up to make my fall that much greater. On those days, I resented him the most.
It was on an October evening in the year 1936 that brought me to where I am today. I had come from one of my usual second hand book shops where I often find something rare. While doing a fairly exhaustive search, I had come across an interesting little book containing anecdotes about the East India Trading Company. A few copied manifests, a love note from a sailor to his whore, and other odds and ends. It was not my best find to date, but I felt it was a strong competitor for my latest go around. I quickly made my way to the office to wait for Justin and our appointed time of eight in the evening. I made some tea. Read more of the little book, and waited. Eight came and went. I let an hour and half pass before I grew annoyed. Generally he was never so late as this. I collected my things with a small dark hope that something befouled him, to keep him from coming that evening.
No sooner had I placed the book within my bag than Justin burst into the room. To this day I cannot forget that Black Wind that followed him into our office. It rank of death, fear, madness; a chill wind that cut to my bones and seemed to darken the very light in the room. As he shut the door, I swore I heard him grunt; as if he was physically taxed trying to close it. He latched the door, turned to me, and that glint I had seen so many times before grew bright and terrible within his eyes. His thinning mousy brown hair was matted to his head with sweat and grime. His grey woolen suit was covered in dirt and bore many tiny rips and holes in the legs. Lastly I noticed in his left hand, clasped tightly to his chest, was a shovel caked in earth and in his right a book.
“Good heavens man, are you all right?”
“Heaven? There is no place for heaven my friend.” he grinned and gripped the book ever tighter.
“Y-yes, I.. uh.. suppose. What has happened to you?” Justin burst forth from the door, a bit of a manic laugh escaping his lips. He reached my desk and with a large sweeping motion sent most of the contents of our desks crashing to the floor. He gingerly placed the leather bound book he was holding down- bits of dirt and grass fell from its cover to litter the wood. “Look!”, he said. I cautiously walked over to the desk and looked down at the book. It was mostly nondescript. Its cracked leather was old by the looks of it. It had turned a dark ruddy brown over years of use and a small black ribbon protruded out from the bottom. “Yes, this is all well and good Justin, but it’s my turn if I remember correctly. I have this wonderful book concerning the East India Trading Company…” I had reached into my satchel and produced my submission, placing it over top his and politely ignoring his unseemly nature. His claw like hand slapped it away sending it into a pile of boxes in the back corner, “Blast your damn book. This is far more important for the both of us. Look.. Look!”
I was taken aback by his sudden outburst. It was so unlike him. I finally took a hard look into his feverish face and saw a man possessed. There was a fire in him that I both was drawn to, and feared. My gaze turned back to the book once more and began to feel a weight that slowly drew me in. I reached out my hand, and as I clasped my fingers around its worn cover a biting cold and a wave of that Black Wind descended over me. I shuddered slightly as it ran its otherworldly fingers down my spine, the tiny hairs across my body stood upright, and I opened the cover. The pages were faded yellow with age and moisture. More bits of earth and stone crackled down upon my desk as I turned the pages. Scrawled in a faded black ink were the words, “The Journal of Colonel William Fawcett: World Renowned Explorer, 1886”. I started to read a few of the passages and saw nothing of particular note. It appeared to be the recollections of this explorer and nothing more, “Well I don’t see why this has caused you so much alarm. It’s a simple journal.”
“You fool, look here…here!” he took the book from my hands and searched frantically for a particular page. When he found it, his eyes grew wide and a wicked smile appeared across his lips as he pointed defiantly to a page towards the later end of the journal. I took quick notice that the precise writing that I had seen before had grown more disorganized and abrupt. And I read:
10th of August, 1886
Our guide tells us that we are a days travel out from the ruins. What an amazing moment for all of us! Years of research and discovery and we are nearly here. If it were up to me I wouldn’t stop to rest now. Why can’t we push on? Patrick, always the cautious fellow, agrees with the bushmen. Perhaps he is right to do so, but I can hardly contain myself. I must find something to occupy my mind, writing here just ignites my fervor further.
“I certainly suppose this is interesting, but I don’t see the importance or relevance. Why is this important to you, or for that matter me, that you apparently had to dig it up?”
“Because my friend, I am about to take you on a discovery that will ignite your career; your very existence. You see, this is the lost journal and only record of an expedition into the jungles of Brazil searching for the lost temple of the Igna U’wi. For a decade I have spent looking for even the slightest hint of its truth or the existence of this extraordinary man.”
“Extraordinary? I dare say not. I’ve never heard of him. ‘Nor this inga owee. Perhaps you’d be a sport and fill a fellow in?”
“Of course you’d never heard of him. At the time of his death, he was a raving lunatic that died by his own hand in an asylum. He was an outcast by the time of his death, buried and forgotten.. until tonight.”
I looked to the dirt, the shovel, and to Justin’s general appearance. “My word, are you saying you dug up…!”
“Oh do not judge me. You would have done the very same if you understood what I was offering you.” The air in the room grew hot and thick as Justin’s piercing gaze stared into my eyes. There was something about his demeanor. Something had changed, but I could not think to tear myself away him. He drew me in and I found myself listening to him. How such a fool I was.
“I have chosen you to accompany me on my life’s work. Follow me into the jungles of Brazil. Follow me into Igna U’wi and let me open the world to you. A world beyond our own.”
Justin’s fervor kept me silent again. His drive, his utter madness were like hands clasped across my face. It began to well up inside me like a burning ember that grew hot with desire. Whatever he knew, whatever he was going to have, I knew that I too needed it. I merely nodded and with great effort said, “Very well then.” A cheshire grin peeled across his face as it grew dark. I wish I had felt it that time, as it now haunts me still. For that Black Wind blew through the room once more and bound our fates that night. If only I knew what terrors lay before me.
14th of August, 1886
I say it’s somewhere around three in the morning. I could not sleep. I easily talked Patrick into going out with me into the jungle to try and catch a glimpse of the ruins by moonlight. We had gone out from the camp about ten meters when Patrick began to get pensive. He kept swearing he felt we were being watched. I cursed him for being a child, and pressed him on.
We traveled but a few meters more when I noticed a golden glint in the distance. I was positive it must be the ruins. I quickened my pace and as I drew nearer a crushing black ethereal wind came over me. I was stuck in my tracks. Tears of terror began to stream down my face. I did not, and could not tell what force held me. It was an ever present darkness, it is the only way I can describe it. Just as soon as I had seen it, the light rushed off further into the jungle. As it departed I heard a chittering and dare I say, laughter?
I was nearly frightened to death when one of our Bushmen leaped out in front of me, holding his spear out to block my way. Patrick, I noticed, was laying on the ground, his face in his hands. The Bushmen urged us, in his broken English, to return to the camp. I note here, that he too had streaks of wetness running down his face…
Colonel Fawcett’s passage of that night stuck with me. His recounting of that Black Wind elicited such a visceral recollection of that night in the office. Since then, we had begun preparation for our journey to Brazil in order to follow in the ill-fated footsteps of that damned crew. The logical part of me clawed and screamed not to go; to burn the journal and return to my humble career. But something sinister had taken a hold of me. It was a force that I was powerless to stop. I had begun to grow distant from my work. Missing lectures and dismissing students. My mood had turned sour, my eyes dark, and my thoughts darker still. My drive had become the Journal. My drive had become Igna U’wi and what lay within its hallowed walls.
Things had quickly become strained between Justin and I. As we worked in our office, prepping for the journey, we would take breaks to read excerpts from the book. This quickly brought about contentious moments as we felt the other was either taking too long, or hoarding it for himself. Twice Justin had used the excuse of it being his, but that Black Wind grasped me, and I could not let his misdirects stop me. Over time we each began to place the book within our own belongings, trying to hide it from one another. Like children, we each wanted it for ourselves. We would often fall into screaming matches, and twice a scuffle, over that damned journal. It had taken a hold of us. What evil lay upon it, I will never know fully. It was eventually decided, to purchase a safe and keep it within our office. There, each evening, we placed the book and locked it.
One particular evening as I was reading over the accounts of the exhumation of the temple I came across several passages of interest. It seemed that Fawcett and his compatriot Patrick had discovered a hidden room. Inside they described a scene of wondrous monstrosity. He talks, in great length and detail about the paintings upon the walls that I paraphrase for you now…
Radiating out from the largest wall of the room was a painted mural. It was centred upon its face in dark hues barely touched by time. A bloated woman, whose ghastly visage seemed to both exude pleasure and pain, bore forth a host of unnatural young. They were twisted men of nightmares with sunken eyes and pallid, pustuled flesh. They reached up to their monstrous progenitor with blood drenched hands. Some she had clutched within her grasp and had ripped it in twain between her teeth, or crushed beneath her cloven hoof. More still, were nestled in one of her many teets. The rest danced and bound their way across the remaining walls and as my torch light flickered, I could have sworn they writhed and heaved upon one another all the while reaching out to consume me. I had begun to hear their screams of agony, desire, anger, and wrath. Their wails grew into a mighty crescendo, threatening to burst my ears! Not able to stand it any longer, I doused my flame to let the black wind take me.
It was this description that clung to my very being. I could barely sleep more than a few hours at a time as the baying of many hounds, goats, and creatures unnatural filled my dreams. What had Justin brought into my life? Why had he done this to me? I had grown feverish as my mind slowly slipped into that blackness. I was awoken one early morning in November, just days before we were to set out in search for Inga U’wi, by a terrible vision. A thing of macabre beauty came lurching from that Black Wind. Its head was that of a black goat and its yellow eyes shone brightly against the void from which it was born. The body appeared to be a naked man that had been literally twisted about at the waist. After birth clung to the clumps of matted fur about its body, and sludged down to the floor leaving marks of singed earth. It clumsily walked on all fours towards me, its backwards hind feet searching fervently for the ground below at each step. I was paralyzed with fear. How could God ever allow such a thing to exist.
When the monster came within mere feet of me it rose to its full height. There is stood like a tower and a stench of rotten flesh and sulfur bowled over me. With a languid motion, the beast brought up a hand to meet my face. Grasped within its gnarled, lesioned fingers, was the journal that Justin and I so frequently fought over. Yes. Yes! It had chosen me to be the bearer of its weight. I am the master of its knowledge and keeper of its secrets. How could that fool even begin to comprehend the significance of what was written within? I fell to my knees before the messenger- groveled at its power, and with a swift motion my master lifted its leg high into the air and brought it crashing into my spine. Over my screams of agony I could hear, even still, her sweet whispers, “You belong to me… the mother of all… Inga U’wi gyha jy!”
“Inga U’wi! The black goat rises!”, I screamed into my empty apartment. Sweat and urine had soaked its way through my bed and in the distance I could still hear her whispers. I was invigorated and knew that I must do. I flew from my bed chambers and into that cold November night. Wearing nothing but my bed clothes I headed into that dark foggy night.
Like a daemon I burst into the office and hurled myself onto the small safe containing the Journal. The combination was no obstacle. I had turned that knob a thousand times to obtain the Journal that called to me now. With swift and sure turns it gave way to my fanaticism. As the final wheel turned, and the fence fell into place, I shuddered and a heavy sigh escaped my lips as I opened the door. The journal lay waiting for me, the only thing within. I reached out a trembling sweaty palm and grasped the book. Instantly I could tell something was wrong. I jerked it out and nearly tore it open. The pages of manifests and letters from sailors to their home stared back and laughed at me- at my foolishness.
My body shook with anger. He knew I would be here. He knew I would return for the Journal and he came and took it for himself. I spat, frothed, and with a guttural scream I threw the book into the corner, sending a cascade of boxes and equipment for our journey crashing to the floor. That is when I saw him standing in the door way. Justin the craven. Several days growth of beard now clung to his emaciated face. His wild eyes peered out from dark circles. He snarled and hissed, “She warned me of this.” Before my confusion could set in, he howled with rage and lunged at me, sending us crashing over our desks and landing twisted on the floor. Like feral dogs we rolled about, confined between the desks and wall.
Justin had managed to gain the upper hand; placing one foot upon the ground and with a great shove, spun his body on top of mine. Quickly, he clasped his hands around my throat and begun to squeeze. The pressure of blood soon welled up behind my eyes as he hands grew tighter and tighter around my neck. I tried desperately to claw at him, but he simply held his head back, with that assured smirk on his face and glint in his eye. I had resigned to my faint and let my hands fall aside when my right fell upon a large discarded tome. One of the many books we had collected through the years. I called the last of my will and crushed it against the temple of his skull. I heard a large crack, and he crumpled.
I gasped for air, coughed a little blood, and pushed him to the side. He did not have the book. But where could it be? He knew I would be here? I did not understand. I had reached the door, when a shuffling behind me bade me to pause. Turning, I saw Justin rise and stagger. He locked his eyes upon me. Murder lay in them so deep that it caused me to take a step back. That is when the Black Wind rose up around us. It consumed me. Filling me with a wrathful anger. Justin launched himself from the desk, like a savage tiger, arms spread and teeth bared. A glint to my right caught my eye. Sticking up from the fragmented equipment on the floor, was the shovel handle. The very same shovel Justin used the night he brought the doom upon us. With a single motion I wrenched the head free and brought it across his chest. The sickening crunch of bone resounded through the office as he was sent to the floor. He now laid there wheezing. Desperately he tried to crawl out the door; his quaking hand reaching out. I brought the spade down upon his wrist, nearly severing is completely. Justin let out a cracked, and blood filled howl.
I straddled my former friend, and raised the shovel above my head. The wind kicked up and born upon it where the whispers, “You belong to me.. Inga U’wi.. you belong to me!” And I brought it down upon his head. It caved with ease, sending a spray of blood out from his mouth. With a rushing torrent the Black Wind raced from me and fled out there door, causing me to stumble and fall into the cold hallway. It cracked like a whip as I came to my senses. Now here I sit upon the cold stone floor as my colleagues life pours out. I realize now that the voice upon the Black Wind did not come for me. I realize now that our outcome had always been written for us, “I can hear Patrick’s voice echoing throughout these ancient halls. His mistress calls for sacrifice- calls for a soul to feed her young. He searches for me and as he draws near I feel that black wind rise up around us. On its edges I can hear her whispers now. But foolish Patrick, it will not be I, but you who gives of themselves to feed our god. Inga U’wi gyha jy!”