I haven’t posted in a long time, and when I did, it was less than hopeful. I was on the verge of letting go of my dreams of writing. Sales have been down on Juniper Crescent and Hallow Terrace, and my muse for anything new has been giving me the cold shoulder something fierce. I had found other things that I enjoyed spending time doing, and even more distractions I didn’t mind giving my time to. (One of them being Fire Emblem: Conquest. I still play every now and then.)
But, that changed recently. I don’t know what happened, really, but I’ll try my best to explain it.
So, there I was, staring at my computer screen as I tried to get words on paper.
I knew what was going to happen next in Critical. I knew what my outline said should happen. My characters were dynamic, real, and well-developed. It’s building up to the big climax with potential nuclear explosions, people getting shot, giant robots in the name of the law, and more atompunk designs than you could wave an alternate history at. But the words wouldn’t come.
But, I threw a word out there. I was pretty sure that it wasn’t the right thing to put down, but I launched it like a water balloon filled with paint.
Something stuck… There were other words with it.
And more words. They formed themselves into a paragraph. When did that happen?
I was getting somewhere. Another paragraph showed up and images were coming as the scene unfolded. In the space of a few hours, I had almost 1100 words on paper. It’s not as much as I could do when I completed NaNoWriMo a few years ago, but it’s MUCH more than I had written in any stretch of time.
To all of my fans who have stuck with me: I’m back.
To all of you who understandably don’t believe I’m doing anything significant, I offer this snippet from Critical, the current work in progress, the white whale, the atompunk gender-bent Les Mis with giant robots:
“You are here because you have chosen to be useless to society.” Sergeant Meng Jakarta paced before the three women and two men standing against the wall. “It is now our job to make you useful. By any means necessary.” She eyed a rather scarred man in front of her. Every line and crease in her uniform bore an edge and placement of terrifying precision.
“Each of you will be given an assignment. A full-time job, if you will. You will complete the assignment each and every day you are here. This will earn you money as you pay off your court-determined debt to society. Any further infraction of penal discipline and you will be punished.” Officer Jakarta rested her left hand on the two hilts attached to her belt.
“There are only two methods we employ here at the Melbin Prison Colony to maintain peace and efficiency. We will either add money to your debt or we have the authority to utilize corporal punishment as a response to crimes committed while in this facility. If you are lucky, you’ll be monitored by guards who’d rather add money to your debt.”
Sergeant Jakarta turned to a guard tapping a clipboard against his leg. “Are you bored, Officer Garrison?”
“I beg your pardon, Miss Jakarta?”
Compared to Sergeant Jakarta, Officer Garrison looked unkempt and un-mended, despite a tidy, professional appearance.
“Are you bored?” She enunciated slowly. “Is this job boring to you?”
“No, not at all.” Officer Garrison’s head shook, or rather vibrated out of fear. “Usually this job keeps me on my toes.” He laughed nervously and gazed at the newest inmates.
“I see. Then you should have remembered two things. First, that I am an officer and a Sergeant and will be addressed as such. Second, if you have some reason to be in here, spit it out. You aren’t paid to listen to me in the course of my work or to provide decoration. Do I make myself clear?”
“Y-yes, Officer Jakarta. I mean, Sergeant Jakarta” Officer Garrison bowed his head.
“Do you have a reason for being here?” Jakarta sharpened her voice to a stiletto point.
Officer Garrison nodded.
“Then don’t waste my time.”
“Inmate 9340 has put in the paperwork for the payment of her debt and her release.”
“Then send her to interview room three. As soon as I’ve welcomed our latest guests I’ll meet her there.”
Officer Garrison cleared out of the room, leaving Officer Jakarta with the five new inmates. “Now, in a little while you will be handed over to Officers Jerrome and Castille. They will issue you your uniforms with your prison name and number. Then you will receive your job while you are here. Do not expect a pay raise, do not expect a promotion, and do not expect smoke breaks.”
“We can’t even smoke here?” The scarred inmate scoffed. “What kind of prison won’t let you smoke?”
“The kind that utilizes its residents to recycle scrap metal. The process uses flammable components to clean the metal, and we have enough chance of fire without people trying to do it on purpose.”
“And if I just don’t want to recycle scrap?”
Officer Jakarta narrowed her eyes at the man. “What’s your name?”
“Donny Russon.” He announced as he attempted to cross his arms over his chest only to remember he was still wearing handcuffs.
“Russon. You’re wanted for the murder of a family in the San Luis Valley.”
“Yes, then you got caught trying to outdo yourself here in Utah. Two more murders before a husband decided he didn’t enjoy you breaking and entering and opened fire.”
“The world’s full of surprises.” Donny shrugged.
“Well, here’s another surprise for you.” Jakarta unsheathed the second instrument from her belt. Two metal rods tapered a foot and a half long from the hilt and a mere quarter inch apart from each other. She set the points directly against Donny’s thigh. “Your wants are irrelevant.” She pressed a button on the hilt and sent blue arcs of electricity into the inmate’s leg until he fell to the floor convulsing.