Whispy drafts of her forlorn cares,
amplified
by a roiling beckoning
of fractured heart and vacant dreams.

Having streamed her anger
like a bitter sap,
I recoil at the vapid sting
which dresses my mouth
like a ruby curse.

An alabaster prison.
A darkened glimpse.
A broken longing.
A slender curve torn by
a passing glance.

Stay.

Harvester’s Journal

My name is Kylie and I’m a Harvester. I collect people’s thoughts as one would ceramic penguins. The only difference is I don’t place them on a pressboard shelf somewhere. Instead, they end up in the local Collector where they’re sorted. If they’re good ones–and I always pick good ones, well, mostly anyway–they are picked out by the Handlers. To date, I have 42 hit songs, three nine figure movies and two successful military campaigns.

I sometimes think of all the people out there who had these great ideas and wonder what would of become of them if they were the ones who marketed them, packaged them, sold them. They can’t though. They don’t have the means. It’s sad, but it’s the truth. Instead, I pluck them out. Ripe fruit.

I could always read minds. My first credible memory was from when I was ten months old. I could sense that my mom was going to leave my dad. I didn’t understand at the time but now I know it was because he was a drunk. And he was. Haven’t seen him in twenty years and I don’t want to now. I probed for him once but his mind was silent which usually means they’re dead. Oh well. Another worthless shit gone.

Some think that reading minds would be a great gift, but it’s not. Not at all. If most people knew what others were thinking about them, the world would be in more chaos than it already is. I spend most of my time in the Chrysalis, the quiet room. It’s the only place where the voices stop. Before I was tapped by the Collective, pills and booze were my chrysalis of choice.

There are about fifteen of us Harvesters. I say, about, because we’ve never met each other; our Handlers won’t allow it. I don’t think we can sense other Harvesters because I’ve tried multiple times. But, I know they’re out there. Over the years, I’ve written down their names. The Handlers are smart but they can’t read minds like we can and their thoughts are unguarded from time to time.

Oh shit, gotta go. Where is it? Arkansas. Yep, I think I just caught Taylor Swift’s next hit.

The Adventure of Igdryll the Drunken Gnome (Intermission and uncogent diatribe sprinkled with lack of focus)

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I am taking a break from posting more of Igdryll’s drunken shenanigans for a while as I’ve run out of copy and must trudge, once more, into the great unknown. I’ve revamped much of what was posted on this blog (it was barely a second draft) and added several more chapters. I think the wordcount is a little over 11,000 now with a target of around the typical 40k to 50k novel range.

Why am I telling you all of this? No idea. Probably I’m tired of working and reworking the story and need a diversion.

Continuing, I am intrigued by reading about the writing process but lousy when it comes to writing about the writing process. I read a lot about the writing process which may or may not be evidenced in any of my work. I’m intrigued especially by all of those tips floating around about how to get motivated as a writer. Tips for managing time, eliminating distractions, how to defeat writer’s block, and so forth and so on. I read or heard once, I can’t remember, about a writer who would set an alarm clock for “X” number of hours and when the alarm went off, BAM, he was done, oftentimes walking away mid-sentence. That’s some serious discipline. Other writers hole up in an office, isolated from the world, and hammer out whatever number of chapters they set as a goal for themselves for that day. Others can’t turn it off and work in a feverish, meal-missing, no-sleep-getting orgy of word vomit as if some great muse came down from the heavens and threatened to shove a sharp stick up the author’s bum if they dare stop. Regardless, it boils down to plain old work, I suppose. Writing, re-writing, putting the work away and letting it simmer, then coming back and re-writing again. No magic formula, I guess, which I find depressing because I want the magic experience, the sit-bolt-upright-in-the-middle-of-the-night-magic that changes paradigms. Instead, it’s often a tedious sludge, cold-soup eating, full steam ahead.

Signing off. Good night.

The Adventure if Igdryll the Drunken Gnome (Part 11)

          “I’ve never seen that level of control, Igdryll,” the Elder said. “It was remarkable.”
          “I don’t know. Something about using the creatures that way didn’t feel quite right.”
          “You may want to work on your speech, Igdryll. If the townsfolk hear you speaking in such a cultured fashion, it’s going to rouse suspicion. Anyway, I think you really scared them off this time.”
          “Maybe.”
          “What is it?”
          “I don’t know. All of my years, I’ve heard nothing but talk of how much of a threat the Talls are, how they destroyed our old home and forced us to leave the sacred grounds.”
          “Do you doubt the old stories?” The Elder paused. “Look, Igdryll, I know the going under changes you. It certainly changed me when I was your age. We now share a frightful burden. One that we of our calling always carry and, with good fortune, always shall. A part of your soul that was dormant has been activated but you mustn’t lose focus, particularly when victory is close.”
          Igdryll continued walking without saying anything.
          “Give it time,” the Elder continued, “you’ll see. When we return, we shall meet with the Council. They will put your mind at ease.”
          The two of them came to the river bank. Igdryll raised his arms and whispered. He and the Elder floated across, let down and walked back home through the forest in silence.

The Adventure of Igdryll the Drunken Gnome (Part 10)

          “I still had the sparkplug in my hand,” Roger said.
          “What?” Dave asked.
          Roger was driving down the highway towards the entrance to the construction site. They just got the truck out of the shop after having the rotor and the windows fixed. It still smelled like burnt leather in the cab.
          “The other day, before the track broke, when the dozer just quit running. When I turned the motor over, I still had the plug in my hand.”
          The truck rumbled down the two-lane blacktop. Dave reached down and pushed the cigarette lighter in while he reached for a Marlboro pack in his shirt pocket.
          “Ya mind?” Dave asked.
          “Nah. Truck still smells like shit anyway.”
          The lighter popped out and Dave held it to his cigarette. He inhaled deeply. He returned the lighter with a metallic chucking sound.
          “Well,” Roger said, “I had a VW Bug once. It ran on three cylinders with a plug out. Just a fluke. Engine was still hot on the dozer, it just turned over is all.”
          “This ain’t no VW. It just isn’t possible. On a motor that size?”
          “Okay. Are you tryin’ to say it was goblins or somethin’? Maybe the freakin’ Easter bunny slapped the motor around a bit to get it runnin’?”
          “Shut up. I’m just sayin’ it don’t make any sense, is all. That dozer ran for the rest of the afternoon just fine.” Roger stared ahead at the road for a moment. “Anyway. You talk to, Mike?”
          “Yeah. He’ll meet us there with another dozer in ’bout an hour or so.”
          Dave took a drag from his cigarette and exhaled sideways out of the window. He flicked the butt out, sparks shattered behind them on the pavement. Roger slowed and turned into the dirt road that led to the work site. The truck fishtailed a bit in the wet clay. Rounding a curve, Roger slowed.
          “Look at that,” Dave said. In the clearing near the excavation spot, a gathering of deer stood. “There must be fifty of ’em. Maybe more.”
          A large buck, its head crowned with a snarl of antlers, looked up at them. It snorted, its breath a cloud of fog in the cool morning air. The rest of the herd looked up and turned towards the truck.
          “What are they doing?” Roger asked.
          “Never seen such a thing. Huh, I think they’re comin’ this way.”
          The buck walked towards the truck, the herd following. The buck snorted and let out a loud bleat. It echoed through the damp air. The herd charged.
          “Uh, Roger…”
          Roger ground the truck into reverse and smashed the gas pedal. The tires spun, throwing mud, but found solid ground. It slowly moved backwards. Roger rocked the wheel back and forth and managed to get the truck sideways on the narrow clay road. The buck lowered its head and smashed into the passenger door, shattering the side window.
          “You all right?” Roger shouted.
          “Yeah, yeah. Fine. Get us out of here, god dammit!”
          The buck twisted its antlers loose and reared up to ram again. The smaller bucks and does surrounded the truck, butting and kicking the truck. Roger got the truck facing back out towards the highway and he stomped on the gas just as the large buck managed to send half of his rack through the right front quarter panel. Air hissed from a punctured tire. The truck lurched forward and they sped off back down the driveway. Dave turned around to look. The herd was watching as they drove off. Roger nursed the truck onto the blacktop and pulled over onto the shoulder. Neither of them spoke for several minutes.
          “Gimme a cigarette, Dave.”

The Adventure of Igdryll the Drunken Gnome (Part 9)

          Igdryll had woken up at some point in time after drinking the elixir from the stone basin. He looked down to see his body lying in the brown, crispy cedar boughs. It was still. A corpse. The sight of this normally would have struck him in the heart except that he had no body now. He looked down at where he felt his hands should have been and there was nothing. He knelt down to touch his old body but felt nothing and nothing responded to his touch.
          “Where be you, Bornless Ones?” Igdryll waited. “Nameless Ones, you come to me now!”
          He collapsed on the ground. Nothing stirred. He cried. Howled. He resigned himself to the fact that he was dead and no longer had a place in the world. He waited some more. The Nameless Ones did not come back.
          Dawn broke. The sun slowly arced across the sky, set, and the moon returned. The cycle continued. Many times Igdryll tried to walk away from his body but it was as if he was attached to it by an invisible cord. The body began to rot. The eyes collapsed and sang into the sockets. The tongue became swollen. The body, likewise. White skin became grayish green, then dark and black. Bugs and worms came to call his body home. He attempted to shoo them away from time to time with no effect. It didn’t matter. He kept trying as there was nothing else to do with his time. The skin became oily and putrid, eventually sliding completely off the bones. A day came when nothing was left but a white, sinewy skeleton. Eventually, this disappeared into the roots and undergrowth.
          Igdryll lost track of how long he had wandered about the cluster of cedars. He had no way to make marks or keep track of anything so he gave up. From time to time, he would call out to the Nameless Ones but they never answered. Deer and other animals would pass by him but they didn’t see him.
          A day came when Igdryll sat, took a deep breath and tried to push out all of the disparate thoughts wandering within his head. He remembered that he had seen the Elder do this once, how long ago? Igdryll had asked him what he was doing but thought the answer ridiculous. He dismissed it until now when the chain of days threatened to drive him into madness. Now, Igdryll was willing to try anything to take his mind off of existing. He breathed and listened. The sun and moon crossed overhead several times, but Igdryll continued to sit and breath. Ages passed.
          “Igdryll,” a woman’s voice said.
          “Bornless One.”
          “It’s time.”
          “Yes. It is.”
          Idgryll opened his eyes. The sun hung hot and still overhead. The cedars swayed, their boughs whispering in the breeze. Igdryll looked at the spot where his body melted into the ground. A circle of red-capped toadstools marked the spot where his body once was. Igdryll closed his eyes again and the next thing he knew, he was waking up in his own bed.

The Adventure of Igdryll the Drunken Gnome (Part 8)

          Igdryll opened the door to his house and let his hammer drop on the floor beside the entryway. Whatever magic it once held was spent. Hanging his hat on a peg by the entrance, he closed the round, oaken door and sat on his unmade bed. Puffs of dust skittered into the pale light of the room. Evening approached. His walk back with the Elder was silent and he thought about the implications of what was said, or rather, what wasn’t said. Igdryll never gave much thought to notions beyond the day-to-day events that primarily occupied his time. A job done half-well and a mug twice filled had been contentment enough.
          Igdryll looked out the window. A few folks meandered about but as the glow of evening dwindled, the street was largely absent of the usual bustle. He took his boots off, letting them clunk to the floor and rolled into bed. He stared at the ceiling, counting the cracks and the cobwebs over and over until sleep finally came.

          “Igdryll,” an unfamiliar voice said, “Igdryll.”
          Igdryll was awake now but couldn’t open his eyes. He tried to get up but his body was paralyzed.
          “Igdryll,” the voice repeated.
          “What?”
          “Open your eyes now.”
          “Can’t open…” Igdryll’s eyes flew open and he looked around. He was in a lush garden. It was dark and a sliver of moon hung in the indigo colored sky. Stars were strewn above like flecks of glittery powder. The Milky Way, brighter than Igdryll remembered, arched above him. A heavy perfume from what he guessed was a flower clung to the warm night air, it’s cloying scent broken only by an occasional light breeze.
          “Where this,” Igdryll asked.
          “You’ve been here before. This is the chamber inside the council.”
          “Who speaking to me?”
          “We are the Nameless Ones, the Bornless Ones. We have been with your people since the beginning. We help ensure your legacy remains unbroken.”
          Igdryll touched a leaf on a low hanging limb. It felt real enough but it shimmered in a strange manner. Birds chattered back and forth in the distance but he couldn’t see them. Their calls sounded shrill and ethereal.
          “Walk with us, Igdryll.”
          Igdryll couldn’t see anyone but felt compelled by something to move forward. An invisible but tangible presence guided him down a cobble path into a copse of hoary cedar trees, their ancient trunks twisted and braided. Within the center of the stand of cedars stood a large stone with a water filled hollow. Tendrils of moonlight danced across the surface of the basin.
          “Drink of this,” a woman’s voice said.
          Igdryll was not generally keen on drinking water from old stones but felt compelled by some unnamed sense of responsibility to do as he was told. Cupping his hand, he scooped the cool water and brought it to his lips. As he drank, he felt the cool moisture crawl throughout his body seeking out every hidden recess of his veins. He felt a crushing feeling in his chest and he fell to the ground, the scent of rotten cedar filling his nostrils. ‘What’s happening,.’ he thought. The icy feeling slithered from his chest to his neck and up into his head. His eyesight went dim then danced with sparkly dots of light. His blood flowed feverishly, thumping and occluding his hearing. Paralysis slowly crept from his toes to his legs and then to his arms.
          “I’m dying,” he whispered. There was no response.
          He tried to cry out but his voice was nothing but a hoarse rasp. His body stopped responding. The whooshing of blood hammered his skull, slowed, then stopped entirely. A still, velvet blackness encompassed his being and Igdryll remembered nothing else.

          The next morning, Igdryll woke up, took his hat off the peg and placed it on his head as he had done innumerable mornings before. He went to Dallver’s to drink his breakfast as per his custom. The streets were empty. The door to the pub creaked and chattered as he opened it.
          “Mornin’, Igdryll,” Mr. Dallver said.
          “G’morning, Mr. Dallver.” Igdryll took the pint Mr. Dallver extended to him and sat down at a corner table. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary and anyone who would have taken notice of Igdryll would not have suspected that he had lain dead last night for nearly two hundred years.