books, creative writing, Ogden, women, writing

Beta Readers Wanted – Horror/Crime Novella

Hi,

I have revised the Ogden Chronicle series into a novella.

I am looking for beta readers who can give feedback within six to eight weeks.

If you are interested, please leave a comment below or contact me via here.

The intention is to self publish this then have a similar process with Sir 2.0.

I am less prolific and more precise these days. 2019 is going to reflect the process as I look into getting my work out there.

I am also available for copywriting, writing and story consultancy work.

https://www.fiverr.com/mattblissett858

I hope everyone had a lovely season and is looking forwards to a year filled with possibilities.

Sure, I could flail around, saying we are doomed, but we are not.

In Cunning Talks, Warren Ellis talks about how we look at our technology through the lens of the future, which is always found wanting when we would be smarter to look at it through the lens of the past.

I apply a similar idea to myself. I am better than the man I was, yesterday. He’s my only competition in a great many respects. The responsibilities of such a thing make you stronger and more able to bear the tough times. My writing has been a healthy obsession for a while, and although progress is slow, I think about the things I’ve learned along the way.

The life its allowed me to create.

Whatever happens, we are in this together, walking one another home. The world will continue and we must strive to catch up or stand in place depending on our situation.

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A Bridge For The Furies: Too Much Gun

gun

Previous episodes are here, here, here, here and here

Olivia flushed with embarrassment as Cara leaned forward, a salacious grin alive on her features, suffused with the confident air of someone who knew that their charisma operated on a whole other level of ability.

‘Now would you like to know what’s in my giftbag for you, little lady?’

The accent was pure cornball Americana, but delivered with such gusto that Olivia couldn’t be offended by it.

Gloria was stabbing at the air with her fingertips, giving out gasps of awe as she played with her gift. She pushed her knees together and sighed heavily as she collapsed back against her chair.

Olivia glanced over at her. Drea was on her second drink, eyes glazed over with a sloppy drink. Drea had continued to assert that she was dreaming, and when a cloud of sparkling gases floated past, humming something that sounded like ‘Ole MacDonald Had A Farm’, she considered that perhaps she had a point. Her attention returned to Cara who winked at her and clicked her fingers.

Instantly, they were both stood in a room without walls, the pristine white of oblivion stretching out beyond the limits of vision.

‘Always wanted to do that.’ Cara said.

Olivia flinched, crouched and brought her hands up, made fists as she stared out at the infinite expanse.

‘Where the hell are we?’

Cara frowned and gestured around her.

‘Technically, nowhere but it would require too much explaining and I would probably break your brain in the process.’

Olivia found that a burst of incredulous laughter was the most appropriate response.

‘You mean you haven’t already?’

Cara chuckled and winked at her, bowing forward at the waist as she swept her right arm in front of her. Olivia thought that Cara was beautiful, but it was the kind of beauty that could be taken off and discarded. Olivia had a sense of people akin to the rapport she had with animals, that what someone said and did were two different things. She saw what someone did rather than said was a truer indication of how a person was.

Cara clicked her fingers again and a black metal rectangular box arose from the floor.

‘The Phantom Bunyawi Fever K.’

Olivia stepped back, appalled and fascinated.

‘The what?’

Cara shrugged and gestured towards it.

‘Kneel down and open it. It doesn’t bite. Well, it won’t bite you.’

Olivia knelt in front of it, brushed her fingers against it. It had the texture of something living, slippery and smooth, made her fingertips tingle pleasantly.

‘What sort of name is a Phantom Bunyawi Fever K?’

Cara squatted so that they were on the same level.

‘It’s when you’re translating the language of a species who communicate telepathically and visually at the same time, you run into some amusing word play.’

Cara tapped the box.

‘The beauty isn’t in the name.’

The lid rippled away as though it were a memory of a first kiss. What lay inside made Olivia gasp with appalled fascination.

It was what a child imagined they carried when they pretended to shoot one another. It had the shape of a revolver, without any visible moving parts beyond the trigger, which had the intricacy of a mosquito wing, tracings of filigree across the barrel and the butt. Colours ran through it, changing as Olivia stared at it, lost to the alien beauty of it. She barely heard Cara tell her to pick it up until she found herself reaching for it.

The butt hummed against the meat of her palm.

HELLO OLIVIA. I AM WALTER, CARA HAS PROVIDED ME WITH YOUR BASE INFORMATION. I AM YOUR CHOSEN ARMAMENT.

Olivia looked up at Cara, face turned tight and pale with disbelief.

‘The gun is talking to me.’

Cara laughed, a rich pealing sound that Olivia found quite lovely. It had no mockery in it, and Olivia could have listened to it for hours.

‘Where do the bullets go?’

Cara smiled and gestured towards it.

‘Ask it.’

IN ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION, I PRODUCE MY OWN AMMUNITION FROM AMBIENT MOLECULES TO WHATEVER SPECIFICATION YOU REQUIRE EITHER AUDIBLY OR THROUGH MENTAL COMMANDS.

Olivia looked up, shaking with awe and concern.

‘I didn’t understand a word of that.’

Walter sighed, like a parent losing the last vestiges of their patience.

YOU IMAGINE WHAT YOU WANT TO HAPPEN.

Cara stood back up.

‘OK, so you’re more practical than theory, which is good, so pick Walt up and point it -‘

She looked left and right, touched one of the glowing rings on her fingers and then smiled, pointed left.

Olivia found the gun too light to be plausible, but it sent another pleasurable shiver down the length of her arm and she adjusted without thinking.

A LITTLE INCENTIVE FOR US BOTH. NOW WHATEVER APPEARS, PUT THE IMAGE IN YOUR HEAD THAT YOU NEED IT TO EXPLODE. IT’S THE MOST FUN YOU CAN HAVE WITH YOUR CLOTHES ON.

Olivia gave a sideways glance to Cara, who put her hands up in a gesture of mock-surrender.

‘Don’t look at me, he comes as part of the gun. The Keltsey plug it straight into their third cortex but we don’t have time for surgery right now.’

Olivia decided that she would just wait and see what happened. The explanations were terrifying to her, but the feel of a gun in her hand, even an alien, talking one was comforting after a fashion.

The sound of something grinding and stomping echoed through the air. A guttural, pained roar hurt her ears. It sounded like something old and terrible, dying but determined not to do so alone. It appeared before her, and she fought the urge to empty her bladder by tightening her grip on the gun.

It was a twisted, scarred thing, with massive swollen limbs wound with barbed wire, bleeding a black ichor that dripped and sent up stinking wisps of steam where it touched the ground. It’s fingers flexed, ending in serrated talons encrusted with blood rusted to copper stains. It was humanoid, and within it’s sunken eyes, Olivia saw an eternity of pain and torment, and the utter implacability of its will to dominate and return the insult that existence had offered it. Its scarred lips peeled back over stainless steel teeth jammed into blackened gums at horrific angles, their edges glinting wetly as it looked at her with the same disdain a coyote showed its prey. It wrenched its head to the right and a swelling on its right shoulder spat out green thick pus that splattered onto the floor and a tentacle emerged with the tip flaring out like an orchid made of meat, and the interior pulsed with awful, malevolent energy before it sent a plume of black flame into the air.

Olivia turned to Cara and grimaced, but Cara bowed and took a step backwards.

‘Just something I came up with on the fly. Now you and Walter start working together.’

OH OLIVIA, THIS IS A PENITENT, PART OF THE CASTE OF THE FLAYED LAMB. THEY HAIL FROM AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE WHERE THE RELIGIOUS INTERPRETATION OF THE WORD OF JESUS WAS –

Olivia squeezed the trigger, imagined the left eye exploding in a hail of ichor and Walter shifted in her grip.

The left eye dripped down its cheek but that just upset the Penitent enough that it started to pick up its feet and run towards her.

MIGHT I SUGGEST SOMETHING MORE SUBSTANTIAL?

Olivia could not know that Walter had sent microfilaments through her arteries into the Brocas area of her cerebral cortex which is why she experienced his communication as telepathy, a muse, an inner daemon. It also surfed her neurons for associations and ideas, and found a memory of an afternoon spent just after her eighth birthday. It used the imagination as a weapon, a foundry and found what it needed to fulfil its purpose.

Olivia wielded Walter, but Walter wielded Olivia with just as much care.

The Penitent exploded in a tidal wave of meat and grue, its splash falling at her feet and staining the tips of her boots. Olivia lowered the barrel and went to slip it into a holster at her hip but instead Walter appeared to disappear, instead slipping into a pore on the palm of her right hand, waiting to be wielded again.

Olivia looked at her hand in disbelief. Cara came up and put an arm around her.

‘What do you think?’

Olivia kissed her on the cheek and grinned.

‘Can we find something else to shoot? I’ve got all kinds of ideas.’

TO BE CONTINUED.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Bridge For The Furies:Inventory

alienabar

Cara rolled her eyes in dismay at Gloria.

Gloria picked up her drink and took a sip and shuddered with the strength of it.

‘So you don’t question intelligent gas clouds, but you question a simple hack?’

It’s false nails and a set of contact lenses. You’re talking about some fucking Galactus level event and I go up against it with haute couture?’

Cara sighed as Olivia shifted in her seat, added to her ever growing mental list of questions about what or who was a Galactus. Drea wanted to punch the air that something was said that she actually understood. She ached for John and consciousness with a pang of deep, palpable longing that normally ended up in John’s hands getting the good kind of mean with her. Here, she took another drink and listened to the reserved bitching that characterised the failure of womankind to dominate society. Especially smart, white women but she kept that to herself in favour of enjoying the free show.

Cara gestured to the box.

‘Pop them in and on.’

Gloria sneered again but picked out the index fingernail, pearlescent and when she pinched it between her fingertips, it hummed pleasantly like the vibrator that laid gathering dust, hollow without batteries, much like her heart. It changed consistency, a warm plasticity as it looped over and adhered to her fingertip. A low charge ran up her forearm. The other nails leapt from their casings, with a graceful glee and the symphony of purpose used her body as the orchestra. The lenses elongated as they left the casing and attached themselves to her eyes, plasticized tears in reverse.

Gloria, in the healthy spirit of youthful experimentation, had experimented with hallucinogenic drugs for recreational purposes and the earnest, slightly grim spiritual ramifications. Peyote, psilocybin and lysergic acid had formed the river of her consciousness raising. The combination of the lenses and nails made it look like baby aspirin or the candied gummy vitamins that had characterised her sickly childhood.

Gloria had been given access to the operating system of the universe, a drop down menu floated in her vision like sunspots and she sat back in her seat, dumbstruck with a quiet awe. Olivia was fascinated by the shifting spectrum of colours that overlaid Gloria’s eyes even as the trembling posture of reverence unnerved her.

Gloria clicked on a free floating icon marked ‘tutorial’. Cara chuckled and sat back, gestured towards her with her glass.

‘She’s going to be a while.’

Olivia grew pale and gestured to Gloria.

‘What did you do?’

Cara furrowed her forehead and rolled her glass between her palms.

‘She can change things.’

Olivia swallowed and glanced between Gloria and Cara, concerned at what she might be gifted. She liked her own mind, even the distasteful streaks of self loathing and guilt were hers, goddamn it. Cara touched her hand, Olivia experienced a moment of raw satori and smiled at her.

‘I get it. You’ve put us together with the right tools for the job.’

Drea recoiled in her seat. She had seen the gesture, reminded of when John would use the quasi-hypnosis, social engineering tricks that took nervous young men and divorcees back into the dating arena with the confidence of bull studs.

‘Don’t do that to me.’ she said.

Cara smiled at her, eyes glittering as she picked up her drink.

‘Again, you mean. After all, you’re still convinced you’re dreaming.’

Drea gritted her teeth and forced a stoic expression onto her face to hide her disquiet.

‘So, what do we get?’ Drea said.

Cara clapped her hands together.

‘You two get to do something really spectacular.’

Olivia and Drea had grins appear on their faces in perfect symmetry.

‘Damage.’

Gloria, meanwhile, studied the physics of a falling leaf, the beauty of a broken hip and the pressures of being a good girl with a god’s eye for the sheer gift of it all.

Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3 and Part 4

 

 

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Two Pages (30/10/16)

 

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This morning, with the new book, I worked on a little exposition, telling rather than showing, but that can be reshaped and parsed out. Sometimes it is good to get out on paper where you are going, and allows me to foreshadow as well. Not that it was a negative thing to do, you understand but it was what was in me at the time, so I went along with it. There’s a lot of story, something came up in the writing that will hopefully give me the setting I need to really punch up the third act climax and getting the internal conflict into play will allow me some breathing room when I need to take the pace down.

The voice is there, I’ve found the rhythm, I just keep going until it’s done.

I have been reading Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, but ended up finishing Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman last night, for some relief. Pynchon is enjoyable, but it’s dense and complex writing, a playful genius but still daunting at points. Not that this is a negative reflection on Gaiman at all, I love his writing. It’s so smooth and conversational, he communicates myth and magic really well, so it was a delightful way to finish the evening. I will resume Gravity’s Rainbow this morning, I think. It’s a masterclass and a wonderful, lusty, entertaining story dressed in some exquisite writing.

I will be posting some more writing here later today. A drabble and another piece, both for the writing group. Then out with the dog and some more reading. Thank you for reading this.

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In The Library

The sunlight filters in through the large windows to my right, diffused by the glass and the public house next door. The ramshackle orderliness of the shelving appeals to me, books constantly picked up and replaced but not with the same care as the librarians show. The loudest voices of the librarians themselves and in turn, when someone goes up and asks for information.

There are the regulars, one sits in front of me, charcoal woollen coat with turn ups on his blue jeans, a mannered shock of brown hair brushed through. He sits in front of one of the computer terminals and logs on. It feels entirely modern and yet antiquated to use such facilities in an age of personal devices.

There are other regulars that I am aware of. The young woman who worked in Blockbusters and now the newsagents. She once bid on Nazi memorabilia. She has her hair in a roll and wave, which was a style at the time.

People browse the shelves the way herbivores graze, there are no children here today so the children’s books section appears frozen in a perfect tableau. Primary coloured soft furnishings, a wooden picket fence in rainbow colours next to a display of well thumbed children’s magazines in confectionery pink and orange.

Overhead the ceiling fans remain intert and the skylights give the atmosphere a quasi-religious quality. The guy in front of me is reading a news item about PMQs and hurriedly googling Google, which I think is how you’re supposed to break the internet.

At the same table where our writing group sits, two elderly women and talk in hushed whispers. The incomplete jigsaw on the table in the main area, never wholly completed, remains unattended today.

A librarian wanders the aisle, says hello with a gruff, polite warmth. Here you can be known and unknown in the same instant. Although next to the high street, the sound of traffic never quite reaches inside. A muted roar, like dreaming of the ocean.

People wander in and out, more regulars that I recognise. I’ve never said hello but we know of one another. As many people still engage with the books as they do the computers, which makes me feel good. One of the librarians is telling a story about visiting Alcatraz. It is a looping meander of a story, but he sets the scene perfectly as I check out the books that I’ve borrowed.

That I will return.

How perfect that there’s another story being born, in a place that houses so many.

(This was one of the exercises from the writing group meeting I attended this week. Write for fifteen minutes in a place, just looking and thinking about what’s around you. I really enjoyed and I wanted to share it with you. I wrote it in longhand because I didn’t want anyone I saw to think I was writing about them.)

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Two Pages (26/10/16)

teddy-617287

I started writing a new piece in longhand, having finished editing She’s Here. I won’t start on Lawful Evil in 2nd draft until enough time has elapsed that I can go back into it with a new perspective, transcribing and editing as I go. The work continues for me, always.

At my writing group last night, we discussed NaNoWriMo and one of our members is doing it this year. I did try it once, and came away with a graphic novel script called Ghost Limb Palm but it was not an experience that I felt benefited me personally or professionally to any degree. My work routine is constant, and it allows me to write to a constant degree, to detach the process from the achievement and to still achieve.

Every month for me is NaNoWriMo because I don’t stop working. I am either editing or working on something new, and that’s when I am not working on short stories or poetry. I am not disdainful of it in the slightest and I applaud anyone who takes it on. It’s important to know what you don’t benefit from, as much as what you do.

I went to the library as well yesterday, picked up a book called Spark by John Twelve Hawks which was a techno-thriller, with a lot of pulp energy that I finished this morning and I am now reading Night Music by John Connolly, which is lovely and perfect for the time of year.

Thank you for reading. I continue to grow and thrive, as I always have. Writing gives me courage, to see the worth in those who do not see it within themselves and to take flight without forgetting where you start from. I wish that for everyone.

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The Burden of Law.

 

We had been in country for six months now, making friends was a thing of necessity and all of us in the unit had developed friendships in different layers. Imogen, who had dropped out of Stanford to be here was tight with Lorraine, who had been about to start beauty school before she got drafted, giggled like she was sucking down helium and liked to do our nails and hair when we were back at base. Olive had been on a scholarship to run track at LSU and she would work out with Patsy, who had been running her dad’s hardware store when he took ill, had resented handing it over to her younger brother, and took it out on the rudimentary weights and track they had ground and welded out of jungle dirt and brush. My BFF out here was Kelly, because of the fact that we had come from the same town and signed up together. It was that or get pregnant, get married to someone who would become an obese stranger to us over time and watch the years fly by. Safety is an illusion, and it just didn’t feel right to stand by and let other people stand a watch for our safety.

It’s strange what you believe, and your reasons for doing things. They weren’t lies as such, but we believed them at the time. Boot camp didn’t abuse us of that notion.

War did.

We dealt with it in different ways. Some of us retreated back to habits that engendered comfort, like Olive running track and Lorraine doing our hair.

Then there was Laura. Law, she shortened it to that and even spelt it that way, had it stencilled on her helmet with a skull and crossbones underneath. She was married, apparently, no kids, volunteered at the church in the small town where she had been born and lived before she got drafted.  No more than 5 feet tall, about a buck ten soaking wet but she had muscled through training. She was good at it.

Too good, but we never said that aloud. It was a feeling that could only be captured in the language of friendship’s whispers.

Law was the member of the unit who was appointed to kill children. It was not an official order, nothing written down or anything that would put a five star general in front of a sub committee but it was there.

Necessary.

It did not sit well with us, a callus against the skin of our souls, a cut that would heal if we could stop touching it. Law bore the burden quietly at first, but that changed.

It was the enthusiasm that she showed.

She started to take trophies. Fingers or ears because they kept better. No one else needed memories of their kills in country.

Once you’ve shot a grandmother in the face, it tends to stay with you. At least, I hoped it did. It reminds you that you’re still human. Still a woman.

So, when I tell you about how it ended, you have to understand that we were thinking about a lot of different things.

The village was supposed to have been cleared by the 101st

Law, by then, had settled on fingers, tied onto her bandolier of shotgun shells with neat loops of string, each one woven through one of the canvas pockets where each shell nestled, snug like a baby at a breast. Her bright red hair had been shaved down to stubble, bursts of cinnamon freckles against white skin that either burned or resisted the sun. Droopy-lidded brown cow eyes that saw everything with a quiet acceptance. She worked the pump action shotgun with surgical skill. Whatever she aimed for, she hit.

So when the little boy emerged, cheap Russian AK shaking in his arms, she was already in motion. Olive shouted but it was too late.

He flew backwards, at that range, his unformed, tan chest blew apart like a pound of meat dropped from a great height. Law had done it with no more expression than flitting a bug from her eyeline. We stood there, as Hillary, our lieutenant came over and touched Law on the shoulder, as though waking her from a pleasant dream.

‘What the fuck?’ I said.

Hillary raised her eyebrows and strode over to me. Her face had tightened into a harsh scowl, the same one she had probably used as a wedding planner to deal with an errant tent rental company error.

‘Sargeant, you do not get to question operating procedure. Stow that shit for base camp.’

Law knelt in front of the cooling corpse, looked around and giggled. It was a sound that stayed with me for as long as I lived. She already had the knife in her hand, ready to take a trophy.

The next sound was the shot.

It took her between the shoulder blades. Kelly lowered her rifle, then knelt down, placed it ground in front of her and knitted her fingers at the back of her head. She looked at me, tears budding in the corners of her eyes.

‘It had to be done, lieutenant. She can’t go home with that inside her.’

We retreated at the same pace we had arrived. Kelly was by my side, relieved of her rifle but not her duty. Hillary could have shot her there and then, but there would have been enough paperwork with Law already.

When the MPs came and took her, she smiled at me. I could not bear the weight of it and as she waved at me, she had the same expression as Law, but it was overlaid with the patina of friendship. I never saw her again, but when I went home, resuming my bachelors degree, I thought of her often.

I thought of Law too, but those were done by the time that I awoke. I would wash the sheets and shower a little longer than normal.

 

 

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