creative writing, fiction, short fiction, women

A Bridge For The Furies: Birds In A Broken Sky


Gloria typed into the keys made of light with the kind of inventive, savage joy that was all the sweeter for how seldom it had been. Throughout a steady writing career, there had been a mere handful of occasions that she had met her muse and kissed him on the lips. Her muse was a him, but it made her sad to think of his warm, brown eyes and scrub of greying stubble. Today though, she was lost to the allure of this alien, brilliant piece of equipment. Stephen King wrote a short story called ‘Typewriter of The Gods.’ but this was what he meant.

The contact lenses presented her words, putting her brain through a workout that was the intellectual equivalent of Navy SEAL initiation. Brutal and brilliant, yet she had discovered a thirst for the work that had quietly evaded her the last few years.

It took a temporary godhood to achieve that.

She was finally writing the book that had resisted her all these years.

There was always one, even the fellow travellers who had entire bodies of work, would speak in a romantic, listless mooning fashion about the one that got away. It would come up in late night conversations, chains of correspondence where it moved into the painful intimacies hidden between the pragmatic discussions of craft and Gloria noted that it would be the same tone old men used talking about their sweethearts. The ones who embodied a romantic ideal too large to be contained, or even seized within one woman.

Hers was called The Crow King. It was not made of original parts, nothing was. The idea had a mixed parentage, a short story by Terry Jones, a bit of Tolkien, a little pinch of Breaking Bad and Scarface. She had been trying to put it together but each time, it would slam into the brick wall of consensual reality, too weak outside of her head to climb over and join the world of words.

It caused her pain, but it was now replaced by a joy that had her staring into the world she imagined. Every last leaf and bird was known to her with the intimacy that she knew where the mole on her hip was, and how she favoured her left side for photographs.

At that point, she was physically writing but intellectually, it was more a platonic, perfect labour. Underwater and ripped to the tits on a brilliant cocktail of drugs as her perfect intellectual offspring slid forth from her forehead.

The scene she was bringing forth, was the second act climax where the Iron Boxers, her unarmed faux Shaolin warrior monks where attempting a defence of the Temple of Love, their sacred home against the forces of her anti-hero The Crow King. The Boxers were a risky proposition, seeing as her education in the fighting arts added up to a year’s worth of self defence at the YWCA and a few Shaw Brothers movies but here, before her, they were glorious, beautiful engines of stoic destruction. They leapt into the fray against the black armoured and brutal blades of the Crow King’s shaky alliance. To see them in action raised some interesting questions for her, like how the racial variety of her notional bad guys reflected her slightly precocious upbringing and how for a purely Oriental racial base, the Iron Boxers all seemed resolutely Occidental.

These were the last whispers of her resistance, but their reality allowed her to suspend her disbelief.

The Iron Boxers had forced the Crow King’s forces into a bottleneck, able to resist the blades with their callused, nerve-deadened fists, fighting beneath the archway which held the motto of the order.


The fight was as beautiful as it was brutal, glaives ducked and snapped with a chop of the hand, swords kicked from gauntleted hands, followed up by straight fingered throat strikes that left orcs and goblins, the classically oppressed proletariat clutching at their necks, their blue collar English accents reduced to harsh wheezing whispers before they fell off the narrow stone bridge.

Gloria noted that these issues had been part of what had blocked her when it was simply her and the page. The need not to offend, learned from mother’s table and father’s knee. To be good, to be true when inside her, some of her stories had blood stained teeth and a cheap switchblade, a taste for rough men and good drugs in terms of metaphors. The work she produced was popular, and good, but it still held her back.

Not any more.

SOWAHIMTIPSNU, now motherfucker, she thought with a lustful glee.

Which was when she spotted her late husband amongst the Boxers.

She focused on him, the conflict fading out around her as she fought back tears. He fought with the same economy and grace as his brethren but he looked up, saw her and smiled. The gaze punched her low in the belly but she kept going.

She knew the birds in the broken sky above, how they formed sigils in the air, thanks to the Crow King’s negotiations with the Kings of Hell, hastening his campaign of dominion before they claimed his immortal soul. This, though was a surprise. It made her recoil and she came out of the scenario completely.

The three women stared at her. Cara had a look of knowing concern and came over to her.

‘You hit a glitch?’

Gloria struggled to breathe until Drea pressed a drink into her hand and Gloria downed it like an antidote. She nodded with vigour.

‘I’ve always had that problem.’ she said.

The women frowned collectively at her. Gloria laughed with relief, being on familiar ground when it came to the latent ignorance of people and the craft of writing.

‘It’s want versus need. My internal narrative is asserting itself in there.’

Cara sat back, impressed but reluctant to be open about it.

‘It’s like how Twilight was a young adult book but the average age of the person who went to see Breaking Dawn was over 21. Soccer moms who enjoy comfortable lives but still dream of a handsome, dangerous stranger.’

Drea smirked and raised her eyebrow.

‘Or get a man who can do both.’

Olivia went to say something but blushed and looked down at her boots instead.

‘And this is an issue how?’ Cara said.

Gloria took a deep breath, and brought her faculties to play, cutting through the distress and surprise that she felt.

‘It’s how I think we can beat the Leviathan.’


Previous episode is here.





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