Toast? Thank you. A towel? Ants, so many ants. Dry laughter in the tomb. Setting goals for the month. Taste of lemons when I squint. A thickening. From under the left front wheel. Drips. Simultaneously attracted and repelled. It’s kind of you. Under the shirt. The Worcestershire. Singing below, like wee folk, or a sentient fungus. Cornflowers by the road. Wasps. Ran over my viola with the new Subaru Wagon Crossover. I don’t know, I’m all confused. Aliens? I’m not saying it was aliens. Toad! Welcome to the darkness. It is certainly very dark here. I have a skull. I don’t have a skull. Come, children, we need you for this task. Wandering down to the corner of Elton and Wabansia. At the corner, a witch. She can’t speak German, she’s crying in the cupola. It’s all over. Periwinkle blooms next door. I am monitoring the situation closely.
From my sure-to-be-a-smash-hit Dystopian YA novel:
DIFFERENTER by Yolanda Purplean (my pen name)
I am a student in School 19. I am in the Eighth Grade. We line up in the pale grey dawn light for inspection. Ms. Smith, our Educator, inspects us.
“Jones, Bob,” she intones. “Registered as a Jock. Where is your sports-team-branded forehead badge?”
Jones, Bob stutters. “L-left it at home, Miz Smith.”
Mrs. Smith frowns. “Failure to Conform! Report to the Beatery for a Beating.” We avert our eyes as the SWATS escort Jones, Bob away.
The Inspection continues. “Williams, Joan. Registered as a Creative. Blake, Sarah. Registered as a Studier. Park, Lana. Registered as a Fashionista.”
Ms. Smith comes to me. “Freespirita, Katpeacenik. What are you Registered as? I don’t see an Affiliation on your dossier!”
I hold my head high as I reply. “Ms. Smith. I do not conform to your…categories!”
“REBEL!” our Educator shrieks. “NONCONFORMIST! To the Beatery with you! And then to the Starvery! And then…if you will not Conform…away with you to the Tortury!”
The SWATS lead me away in the chill morning wind. All the other students avert their eyes. She is Different, they think. She doesn’t fit in.
I’m in tears. No one understands me. What I am is Bad. And now I’ll be punished.
Blam! The SWATS double over and fall to the ground. A handsome boy with a cleft chin wearing camouflage puts his hand on my shoulder.
“Katpeacenik!” he shouts. “We’re the Outsiders! Come, join our rebel group! We’ll bring this conformist society to its knees!”
“NOOOOO!” Ms. Smith shouts, but they’ve already whisked me away to their underground HQ….
Science Fiction Writer. It’s not a totally ridiculous thing to pretend to be. Although I’ve entered early middle age without so much as a single writing credit, who cares? In another life, I pretend to be a musician. So fuck it. If Dan Brown can pretend to be a writer, so can I. Hey lookee, I’m a science fiction writer!
So, from my initial research, I gather the way to write science fiction is to read Discover magazine and find some truly horrific article about ant-brain-fungus or what-have-you, and then rewrite the article only with the insects swapped out for spacemen.
Here is my first science fiction novel. It’s 200 words long, and goes by the title DWAYNE GETS EATEN BY MAGGOTS IN A MANNER EXTRAPOLATED FROM FACTS I GLEANED READING A RECENT ARTICLE IN DISCOVER MAGAZINE ABOUT HOW CATERPILLARS GET EATEN BY MAGGOTS AND THEN ACT LIKE MOMMIES TO THEIR DISGUSTING BROOD OF PARASITES.
The rule on 55 Cancri b, which the beryllium miners called by the pungent name of Fuck This Rock, was simple: any injury received on the job, no matter how insignificant, must be reported. So the foreman wore a sour expression as he regarded the figure of Dwayne Pordle in the sickbay bed. Dwayne Pordle, a tattooed rill-digger, had not reported his injury, until he was writhing in an unseen fire of pain and had to be braindrained. Today Pordle reported he was feeling better. Upon seeing his foreman’s expression, Pordle wasn’t feeling so good again.
“Tell me again. What was it exactly that bit you?”
“Bug. Bout three inches long. Big ole stinger like a needle.”
“And you failed to report this why?”
Pordle shrugged. “Had a big ole seam to dig out. Little bug bite. Didn’t hurt none.”
The medics said Pordle was “recovering.” That prognosis was drastically overturned two days later. On that day, Pordle ate three times his normal amount at morning mess, and was later described as distracted, feverish. Later, Pordle sought out the darkest corner of the compound, and huddled there as sixteen to twenty fist-sized maggots burrowed out through his abdominal wall. Sec reported they’d found the victim crouched over his brood of maggots, brandishing a sidearm. “Don’t you touch ’em!” he shrieked. “Thems are my babies!”
See how easy it is?
Yes, I gratefully accept this Hugo award. And the Nebula too, thank you, you’re too kind. Uh-oh, Zombie Isaac Asimov doesn’t seem pleased…
“I’ve designed a prison uniform. It limits the wearer severely. The prisoner can’t fly, he can’t shoot lightning bolts, he can’t bend space and time to his will. He will not recall he was once a god; the suit instills fear and respect for his masters.”
Accordion. Aces and Kings. I’m playing cards in the stairwell of the ruined palace. The flight of pigeons rattles in the clouds overhead. All my games are solitaires of one sort or another: Alhambra, AllIn A Row. Amazons. Aztec Patience.Who brought friesias to our clockmaker, the one whose knees ached as he crooned to hisworm and his escapement? Surely there is an intrigue afoot. It could be the jawless girl who sluices the kitchen flags. For the clockmaker’s sake, I hope it’s not her. I lay down cards for Babbette, Baker’s Dozen,Beetle, Brisbane, British Square….