booksandstories.com

August 2002 Review

Web Page Progress

Nothing much to talk about on the website front this month. I'm still here, the site is still up and running and people keep popping in to have a look. I still haven't delved too deeply into where you go or how long you stay, but you seem to keep coming. As usual, none of you out there email me, so I suppose I'm going to have to pull my finger out and start looking at the stats to see what you are really up to. When I fnd out I'll let you know.

Next month I hope to put up the Review a little earlier. It seems that I have floated towards the end of the month for a while now, and by the time I get the Review up for one month, it's already the next month. I'll try and do better next time.

Writing Progress

"The Friendly Ambassador" has reached twenty chapters. I needed to do a little tweak here and there, which is all done now, and then it was html conversion time. Strangely enough, this will be the first time I have put up the first twenty chapters of a story before completing any others. "The Return of the Sixpack" had already moved on quite a few chapters before I put up the first twenty. And all the previous stories (up to "The Lost Girls") were completed before any chapters were put up on this site. I prefer to almost finish the story before putting any of it up for the simple reason that updates afterwards always take longer. And you know what its like, you get to Chapter Forty-one and realise you need a change in Chapter Twelve. Even the very last chapter can highlight a mistake in continuity. But you have to take a chance, don't you? So...

The first twenty chapters of "The Friendly Ambassador" have been added to the List Page. Please take a look at it, but be warned, it's big. If you do decide to read it, I hope you enjoy it, and (gasp) email me about it.

The Short Story Serial continues as usual this month, but with a much shorter and seventh instalment. The sixth part of the story entitled "The Dreamer:Part VI" has been added to the List Page. As I said above, I'll try and do the Review earlier next month and do a better (longer) installment. I'm beginning to think that I should submit this story to a publisher. I do this from time to time with my longer stories with little luck so far, but I have never submitted any of the Short Stories. The reason for this is simple, short stories don't sell very well unless you are already an established writer and there would be interest in other examples of your work. The home for most short stories is in periodicals and magazines, and I haven't really looked into that too much. Maybe I will.

August's Short Story: The Dreamer: Part VII

The twin suns were high in the sky. It was hot in the valley, but not too hot. Across the peaceful lake the city still lay, glinting in the light from the suns. On this side of the lake, a group of small and elegant four-footed creatures grazed on the grass by the shore, their hides a delicate brown. On top of a flat mound of rocks, the upper section of two of the egg-shaped containers around the hexagonal central piller of the Hexogenic Intensifier hissed and slowly opened.

Angela raised her head from the cup and blinked. She looked around, completely dazed. She felt the breeze on her face and suddenly sat up, pulling her hands from the appertures. She was instantly awake, instantly alert. Her head spun round, and she saw Nac Tikmak sitting up in the next container. He smiled at her. It was a beautiful smile, very pleasant and warm. Angela's eyes narrowed.

"Liar."

Nac Tikmak looked surprised and hurt. "Why this accusation? When have I said anything that was untrue?"

Angela waved her hand at the scene around them. "This is a lie!" she said in rising anger. "The whole thing! How could you do it to me? How could you think I wouldn't notice? Do you think I am that stupid?"

He now looked confused and even more hurt. "I don't understand. What have I done?"

Angela stood up in the container. "What have you done?" she repeated. "You've lied to me from the start! You made me think I was seeing my friends when all along that was a lie too!" She leaned forward and snarled her words at him. "And I was falling for it! The whole damn, glorious, stupid bloody thing! But then you got cocky, didn't you! It didn't work quite right so you went and changed it! How dare you! How dare you even think I wouldn't notice!"

Nac Tikmak had stood up in his container and now he climbed out of it and came towards her. He held out his hands, pleading for her to understand. "Angela, darling, tell me what's happened! I don't understand any of this!"

Angela put her hands on her hips. She was extremely angry now, and her expression showed her anger. She was red faced and trembling and the words came out in a torrent. "Oh, yes you do! I bet you thought it was fun! I bet the way I felt back at the hotel was all down to the same stupid manipulation! How I hate myself! How I hate you!"

"But I haven't done anything!"

He tried to hold her but she smacked his hands away. "Liar! You did it all! I hate you!"

"Angela! Please!"

"I hate everything about you!"

"Stop it!"

"I hate this place!"

"Stop it!"

"I hate being here!"

Nac Tikmak's expression turned to one of equal anger. "Enough!"

Everything went black.

Silence.

Darkness.

Cold.

Angela was conscious and aware, but completely cut off from everything. She didn't even have any thoughts, no fears, nothing. She felt aware of only one thing. She felt aware of, of....being totally alone. For some reason it was very calming. She should have felt scared, but she didn't. It was really strange. She could feel her arms and legs, knew that she could flex her fingers, but she had no sensation from the movements. And she couldn't see anything at all. It was as if someone had painted her eyeballs black. She was just drifting along in something or other, thinking about nothing very much. She couldn't even remember how she got here. Had she always been here?

Noise.

Lights.

Warmth.

Angela was sitting on a sofa in a large and sumptious room. There was a deep pale blue carpet, light pastel coloured walls, and furnishings in a light red wood. The many chairs and sofas had deep red cusioned seats, and in the middle of the room was an open fire with a canopy above it that took the smoke somewhere outside. And on the low tables and sideboards were statues and carvings that Angela recognised as being her own. The room was hers. Familiar, comfortable. In front of her on another sofa sat two people. She knew who they were instantly. Nac Tikmak and Lucy Crow-Bennett. They were locked in an embrace, kissing pasionately. Lucy was wearing a tight fitting and skimpy top in white with a short white skirt. The outfit showed off her ample curves and long tanned legs to perfection. On her feet she wore white, sling back heels. Nac Tikmak was wearing a loose white shirt that hung nearly open. The exposed part of his tanned and lean chest had a faint covering of blonde. On his legs was a loose fitting pair of trousers. On his feet were sandals. As they kissed, Nac Tikmak allowed his hands to wander over Lucy's body from shoulder to thigh.

They weren't a surprise. None of it was. But yet...

There was a 'ding' from the elevator and Nac Tikmak and Lucy broke from their embrace. They both looked towards the elevator and Angela followed their gaze. The doors had opened and Angela recognised the walnut shaped Humpty-Dumpty character that emerged. He seemed to waddle into the room with that all body rotating gait that all the Humpty-Dumpties had.

Nac Tikmak smiled. "Ah! Humbolt! You bring presents for our guest!"

Humbolt held up two large bags. "Yes, Captain. Big bags I bring, two for the Missy. All she needs are here in, or what she left out then thought to remember. Unpack shall I, or Missy to do?"

"I think we should let Angela do that. They are her things. Come, Lucy." He got up and helped Lucy to her feet, then he turned to Angela. "And maybe you would be happier if Humbolt answered your questions from now on. There would be," he paused, "less distractions. Yes." He had decided. He bowed. "We will leave you now. When you have rested, eaten,and are more relaxed, we will talk again. In the meantime, treat Humbolt as your personal aid, confident, guide and manservent. He will be happy to serve."

Lucy leaned forward and gave Angela a peck on the cheek. She even took Angela's hand and squeezed it comfortingly. "It'll be alright, Angela. Don't worry. It just takes a little getting used to, that's all."

With a final smile, Nac Tikmak and Lucy walked casually towards the elevator. They walked hand in hand. Angela watched the elevator doors close behind them. The last thing she saw was the smile on Lucy's face as she moved closer to Nac Tikmak. They must be very much in love, Angela thought.

Why did that thought hurt her?

Why did she feel that she was missing out on something?

Humbolt put down the bags and came forward. "Missy alright be?"

"Yes," Angela replied. "I think so. It's just that I keep feeling that I've forgotten something, that's all."

"Maybe I can help?"

Angela looked up at him, her eyes focussing on his big round face. There was a very calming innocence about that face. Angela couldn't envisage Humbolt or any of his race doing anything evil. It just wouldn't look right.

"Are you my friend, Humbolt?"

"Of course, Missy!" He sat down beside her, his whole body perched on the sofa with his two legs sticking straight out. It was both comical and endearing.

Angela sighed and turned to him on the sofa. She brushed her long hair out of the way and said, "What is this place?"

"Hotel Qualoon!" he said proudly. "Best in city!"

"No, I mean this place! Peleonika."

"Captain not tell you?"

"He must have done, but I seem to have forgotten. I remember being- " she thought for a moment, " -of being somewhere dark and peaceful. But I can't seem to remember anything that happened before that."

"Ah! Captain turn lights out!"

"Turn the lights out?" she repeated, puzzled.

"Yes, Captain do that sometimes. Shock to system it brings to clear head. If confused you be, lights out focus mind quickly."

She sat back on the sofa. "Explain."

Humbolt didn't hesitate. "Lights out best solution when confused or at risk you be. To allow to continue more at risk you may become. Best from beginning all fresh and new to restart. Take better path and try again. But too many times avoid lights out as limit there be and no return from one after."

Angela did a double take, shaking her head. "Say that again?"

"Lights out best solution when confused or at risk you be. To allow to continue more at risk you may become. Best from beginning all fresh and new to restart. Take better path and try again. But too many times avoid lights out as limit there be and no return from one after."

"I mean explain it better!" Angela said when he had finished.

"Lights out best solution when confused or at risk you be. To allow to continue more at risk you may become. Best from beginning all fresh and new to restart. Take better path and try again. But too many times avoid lights out as limit there be and no return from one after."

"Are you doing this on purpose?" she asked in exasperation.

"Best to choose other path if lights out wish to avoid."

Angela opened her mouth but then closed it again. Humbolt was staring at her with those big eyes of his, just waiting for her next question. Something about the way he had spoken suggested that pursuing this line would not be a good idea. She decided to try something else.

"How many times have I had the lights turned out?"

"Twice, Missy."

"Why?"

"Once for better result for Missy to make, and once to prevent damage to Missy when wrong path did you take."

"And the Captain did that each time."

"Yes, Missy."

"How did he do it?"

"He been here longest. That why Captain he be." Humbolt used his hands to turn himself more towards her. "You have nice spongy bits. Touch may I?"

He reached out to her breast and Angela slapped his hand.

"Humbolt!"

"Sorry, Missy. Fine specimen you are. Not like you before we have had. Not female either. Like you we do. Interested we are. Mind not please if too forward we are."

Angela now stared at him. He seemed chastised, humbled. But what he said caused various trains of thought. Something in her mind told her that it wouldn't be prudent to miss them.

"What about Lucy?"

"Lucy not count, not Missy she be."

"What do you mean?"

"Lucy be Lucy, not Captain or Missy. Transient her existance be. Once in elevator no longer she be."

Angela stared at him. "Lucy doesn't exist?"

"Lucy be Lucy, not Captain or Missy. Transient her existance be. Once in elevator no longer she be."

There it was again, like hitting a wall.

"Does the Captain control you?"

"No, Missy. But Captain is Captain, top of rank."

"Does he boss you?"

"Captain made to boss. He command, we obey. That is the purpose for we are. You too have this rank as Missy you be. Say and we do. Fetch and bring, carry and take. Ask, we tell."

The last words were spoken very firmly. Angela got the hint.

"What happened when he switched the lights out?"

"Existance stopped for you. Back in chamber you be. Restart from beginning you do. Not good for you, Missy, to be there often."

"The chamber?"

"Back at beginning where you came from."

A cold feeling overtook Angela. She asked Humbolt the next question without really looking at him. "If I was in the chamber before, where am I now?"

"You are in Hotel Qualoon on Peleonika," Humbolt said proudly. "Best in city!"

"And where is that exactly."

"Here. Now. Around."

"Where is here, now?"

"Hotel Qualoon on Peleonika," Humbolt said proudly. "Best in city!"

That was the end of that route. Angela tried another tack.

"If the lights went out for the Captain, would he also be in the chamber?"

"Yes, Missy. But if lights out for Nac Tikmak be, then Captain he not be."

"I thought Nac Tikmak was the Captain?"

"Only Captain as you are Missy. Captain is Captain and Missy is Missy. Only Captain turn out lights."

"Why do you call me Missy when my name is Angela?"

"Because Missy you are here, like Nac Tikmak be Captain. You begin to understand now?"

Angela ignored his question as the ice ball began to form around her heart. "And the Massen'Acra, the Captain's ship, is it outside the window, or is it outside the chamber?"

"I like you, Missy. Ask good questions you do. Not for long time had questions so good. Yes be the answer to question. Outside the window the ship seem to be, but outside the chamber the ship must be still, or inside none could be."

Angela now just stared at Humbolt, until the pause grew longer and longer. Humbolt waited, but when she still didn't speak he broke the silence.

"Missy not scared of us be?"

"Am I dead?"

Humbolt sounded deeply concerned. He put his hand on hers. "No, Missy. Not dead you be. Somewhere else is all. If not here or in chamber, dead you would be. But here have life, have breath, have chance. If chance you wish."

"What if I don't wish?"

"Then back to beginning you will be, but no more advanced will you become. Dark and dismal this choice would be. And no return for mind to change. Sad I would be, and empty this place be. Miss you I would. And Captain too."

"He wouldn't miss me," Angela scoffed. "He's got Lucy to play with."

"Lucy not Missy. Only transient she be. Alone now Captain is only with memories he be."

There was a pause while Angela thought about that.

"Who was here before I came?"

Humbolt removed his hand. "Only Captain be here, and very sad he be. Everywhere to travel and see he had been, but only with those whose existance be transient to share. Very worried for long time we be. But now you are here, and happy we are, if here you will stay."

"Who are you?"

Humbolt smiled. "Who can tell? But remember you must. Count can you, or inumerate you be? The answer is here and in memory it be. Look with your eyes did you but nothing to see? Or passed us by as uninteresting we be?"

Angela collapsed back on the sofa. "Why is everything you say in riddles?"

"Life be easy if path you take be already known. For adventure go blind and all things new find. What do you wish, Missy? An easy route where all is known, or an exciting one where every turn is surprise?"

"I'd like the easy route please!"

"Not Captain you be, so wish cannot grant, but surprises be fun as you will see."

The elevator 'dinged' and the doors slid open. Inside was revealed a glistening red creature with a long shaped head adorned with fins and horns at the top and back. It's eyes were set in the front of the head, and below them was a mouth full of long and curved teeth. The body was just as remarkable. Almost an upside down triangle, the top was wide and powerful while the lower part was small. Only the short but powerful looking legs gave the lower part of the creature any proportion. The huge arms almost allowed the creature to rest it's hands on the ground. It had enormous claws on both hands and feet, and as it sprang from the elevator and bounded towards her, it used it's front two hands every second step as it switched between all fours and running only on it's hind legs.

Angela jumped from the sofa screaming her head off. She ran around the room with the creature giving chase while Humbolt sat on the sofa unconcerned.

"Humbolt! Heeelp!"

End of Part VII. Part VIII next month.

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