Writing project

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.”

I don’t–”

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.

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