London—If I have my time-zone calculations right, then as I lay ensconced and asleep in my comfortable bed, people were dying in London. By now this is news to no one, I’m sure.
I don’t know what to say. I just don’t know.
Here at home—I’ve been struck by the Inspiration Fairy (or maybe I should call her my muse, or maybe it’s even Terry Pratchett’s Inspiration Particles at work). Of all things, a Dilbert cartoon planted the seed of a story in my head. In it, Alice tells Asok that “Now I have to kill you.” Asok, a Hindu (I think), says, “Please do. Reincarnation is my only hope.”
And I was off and running. Here’s the first bit, written at lunch hour:
The entrance to the bardo was a baroque arch, a single massive piece of sandalwood carved nearly filigree-thin with inset images: goat-footed satyrs, ravens in flight, sauvastikas and manjis, entwined serpents, fat cherubs of the Renaissance, capering monkeys, a single massive elephant with a broken tusk, and a seeming infinity of other signs and symbols, wrapping around and over each other in a gestalt that was definitely more than the sum of its parts. It burned, too, burned with a flame that did not consume, but merely hovered above the surface of the wood like the breath of some lost angel.
She passed through the arch, and from one instant to the next her memories fell away from her, burned by that white-hot flame. All she had known, all she had been, floated away as ash, carried up and up on the rising air, into the bright blue sky. All that was left was the knowledge that she was dead.
A line of people stretched long before her and (craning her head around) behind her too. Were they all dead? she wondered. But of course they were. If they weren’t, how had they come here, and why?
She tried to remember dying, but it was gone, floating with the ash of all her memories, gone, gone, gone against the sun-bright sky.
So far it has two possible titles: “The Ash of Memory” or “The World Beyond The World”.
It’s not the first time I’ve done a story about reincarnation, I know, but hey. It’s a different angle, and I hope to do something interesting with it.
On another note: I really have to get into this whole blogging idea. Force myself, even when I don’t feel like it, to sit down and do an entry a night. Find something interesting to say, about anything.
I guess maybe my problem is, I’m self-conscious. And maybe blogging isn’t exactly the activity of choice for an introvert…
Oh yeah… Asimov’s SF rejected “Outside, Looking In”. So on to the next one. F&SF, I think. (I know, Doug, I know.)
One thought on “Inspiration”
Don’t you love Asimov’s rejection letter? For sheer fart-in-your face badness, it’s a corker.
Your snippet reminded me, I don’t know why, of the beginning to Niven & Pournelle’s Inferno. Nowadays, all I can remember from that book is that they snarkily stuck Vonnegut in hell with a tombstone, “So It Goes”.
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