My New Year’s resolution, writing-wise, probably won’t show up here until about March, but rest assured I’ll be working on it starting tonight. I hope to start a serial story, posting “chapters” about a thousand words long, twice a week. The story (at least so far) will be one that I’ve had fermenting in my mind for over a year and a half now, called Everything that Never Happened, and it features a zombie lawyer, a seafaring captain, a man named Fauntleroy, a jungle kingdom, an undead vizier, a treasure map, and a threat to every living soul. Intrigued? I know I am. I’m looking forward to writing it. Tonight I did 1100 words, and here’s a few of them:
Doc Hutchin came up from below, his face and hands and shirt bloody. There were men and boys down there that had been running the pumps for hours, maybe days. They’d been working the wooden handles, calluses splitting and weeping, blood serving as oil to lubricate the pumps, and no one really knew how long it had been anymore. The sun’s travels had seemed erratic ever since the cannon had exploded, but Riley was pretty sure that it was just the crisis, punching a hole in his experience of time.
Hutch came over to him, taking slow and careful steps. He never seemed to get his sea legs, ever, but he didn’t often relish going ashore in port either. The men whispered theories about his checkered past, how he had a constable looking for him in every port. One of the boys had once found a WANTED poster nailed to a tavern door which bore a decent likeness of the good doctor’s face.
“Drink?” said Hutch, sitting down next to him.
“No,” he said. “Got to get up. Soon.”
“You’re exhausted,” said the doctor. He pulled a flat-sided brown bottle out of one of his boots. There was a foomp! sound as he pulled the cork out of the neck with his teeth. “Bit o’ rum ‘ll do you some good, I reckon.”
“Doctor’s orders,” said Hutch, handing him the bottle.
He swigged down two swallows’ worth, then handed the bottle back. As he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, Hutchin took a healthy pull, then re-corked the bottle and slid it back down into his boot.
“Help me up,” said Riley. “The men need to see their cap’n.”
“Aye,” said Hutch, and rose to his feet. He put a hand on the bulwark to steady himself, then extended his other hand to Riley. The doctor pulled the captain upright.
Something shrieked from on high, and they both looked up, shading their eyes against the sun. A gull wheeled above them.
“Will we make it, d’you think?” said Hutch. His voice was nonchalant, as if he didn’t care one way or t’other about the answer, but Riley had known him a long time. The doctor was terrified; it was written all over his face, in the worried lines around his eyes, in the hard set of his jaw, clamping his teeth together so tight they ground one against the other.
“It’ll be close,” said Riley.
“Ah,” said the doctor, and bent to retrieve his bottle again. “No sense lettin’ it go to waste,” he said, straightening up. This time, when he pulled the cork out, he spat it overboard.
“True,” said Riley, accepting the bottle when it was offered. The rum burned its way down his throat to his belly, warmth spreading out like slow golden fire. “To Mandalay,” he said, raising the bottle high, then handing it back to its owner.
“To Mandalay,” said Hutch, holding the bottle aloft, then draining it and letting it drop to shatter on the deck. “Long may she sail.”
(Mandalay is the name of the ketch (or, in this particular world, the cortico) on whose deck the action takes place.)
More to come, later. Like I said, probably starting in March, and running till it’s done.