Here are two short, teaser excerpts for your reading pleasure, taken from the new anthology ‘People Are Strange’, the latest addition to the Mind’s Eye Series. Each anthology in this series features stories and poems inspired by photographs. When I was asked by fellow author Maria Savva to contribute to this anthology last year, it was such a confidence boost for me: I was thrilled to be part of such a great group of writers, and excited to get a chance to put together a story to go with the photos assigned to me.
It’s a different and rather exciting way to write, to have to wait and see which photos you get, and then wait and see what ideas those photos spark in your mind.
The first teaser-excerpt is from ‘Long As I Can See The Light’ – my take on a science fiction / alien invasion story. It’s set in and around Vancouver: familiar territory for me, since it’s where I live!
“Do you remember that night when we saw the light?”
She asks this as they’re sitting on the balcony, and he turns to look at her. When he meets her gaze he can see the thing that lurks within her now – the presence that isn’t really her – look back at him, peering out through those familiar blue eyes. A cold trickle of fear runs down his spine, and he almost gets up, he almost runs away from her again, but he has been running for so long already. He’s too old to run, too tired.
What year is it? What month? He has to think about it for a while, and when he eventually remembers, he realizes that it’s almost exactly forty years since he ran away from her the first time.
He inhales deeply from the cigarette, knowing it’s his last smoke: a filthy, hand-rolled, slim and rather bitter stick of something that is supposed to resemble tobacco, but doesn’t really. She asked him about that: where he got the cigarettes, why he started smoking. “No one smokes anymore,” she said. “No one even manufactures cigarettes.” And of course that’s true enough. He could have told her that he picked up the habit in recent years when he lived rough in the alleys downtown. He could have told her that there are times and places and situations when sharing something, anything – even a lousy cigarette – with a stranger is a way to feel a connection, however briefly: a fragile tendril of community and communion. But in the end he said nothing at all, just shrugged.
“Do you remember?” she asks again, prodding him. As if he could forget. As if that one memory is not his everlasting, never-ending nightmare.
The next teaser-excerpt is from my other story in ‘People Are Strange’: ‘The Breaking Of The World’, a fantasy-romp inspired by my love for MMORPGs.
The morning itself was hardly worth a smile. Whirling wraiths of mist swirled and gathered between the dark, twisted trees as the pale and sickly dawn peeked through the heavy, lichen-bearded branches. Here and there between the gnarled roots a frightened swamp rat or water mouse could be seen scuttling about—their scattered squeaks and rustlings greeting the gloomy daylight.
Shreds of fog swayed in the chill wind as it gusted through the clearing, fanning the flames of the small campfire where they had just risen from an uneasy night’s sleep. Leyra looked around at the group as she secured the two short swords at her waist and adjusted the supple leather armour that covered her from head to foot.
They were a good bunch, she thought, feeling both proud and pleased. A motley crew, but then that was the way of things ever since the Great Breaking when all tribes and peoples had been forced together in what little remained of the broken world, mixing and mingling, even though that was not really the natural order of things. She was the only wood-elf here, the only ranger, too. And she was also the unofficial leader of the group: the one who had brought them all together, turning them into a small and strange but fiercely loyal family, held together by mutual respect and trust earned in countless fights and brawls.