Sunday, 24 April 2011

Blackest Black

P   R   E   V   I   O   U   S   L   Y      I    N 
S   P   I   D   E   R   F   I   N   G   E   R   S
Gods cannot afford to empathise, not when they’re at war.
The tale Hara’s pen delivered took hold of her imagination, eliciting her lips and tongue to dance its magic, a growing magic, a story-spell of Gaia’s words, each and every syllable tumbling out, growing bold.  To the examining therapist, the old woman had merely retreated to a safe place. “It’s not every day that someone you trust scuppers your rehabilitation with a flask of alcohol, but the police have been informed.  We will protect you, O.K?” No one could see Gaia’s arcane language break and grind the walls of her residency into nothingness.
Up and down the halls she shuffled, paper clutched in hand, mumbling through a strange narrative, the setting stranger still, a telling populated by a warrior and lowly street conjurer.  A scaly monster the size of a jet plane threatening the both of them.  She came to rest in her room, legs needing rest whilst her mouth garbled on.  The croaky tones of Hara Carroll ‘Earth Shaman’ reverberated throughout the solitude of her chamber, filling it with sounds understood by hidden vermin, but no one else.  Inside the inner sanctum of her brain, images of Mother Nature’s story burst to life, a report intended for her runaway idol:
With an almighty slash, Ungumpo sent his axe through the great lizard’s head, cleaving its flesh and skull.
“Po!” The warrior roared, before wind-milling his weapon, flicking reptile blood at walls, painting the treasure-strewn ground in sickly yellow sludge.  The monster was finally dead; Ungumpo could leave the cave. 
He had spent too long in that musty place – surely the bleakest in all of the Oma – and with strength renewed, he marched his way out of the rocky belly of the world.  The village chief had journeyed underground days ago, taking only his battle axe and his wits into the earth.  Now, he held a new treasure in his grasp: an egg the size of a tribesman’s head.  He cradled his reward with great care, for he had not trudged all this way to have his prize smashed, leaving Po’s villagers with nothing to eat once more.
The flatlands of Un and the violet Mirror Mountains that stood beyond Ungumpo were awash with cobalt light, a light so dazzling that it stung his eyes.  He was topside again, reacquainted with the splendour of a remote and ceaseless landscape, his snout drawing in clean air.  Subterranean mouldiness all but forgotten.  He caught himself immediately, and chastised his foolish daydreaming.  There is no time for this! Ungumpo increased the width of his step and budged his focus away from the tranquillity and quiet majesty of his dominion.  And that was when he noticed it.  Had he been so tired that his instincts had not alerted him to the nonsense? Sure, the cerulean rays beamed down and the odd feathery Earth Sprite would cross his route, as always.  The occasional eye of a divinity unlocked in the heavens, spying down with jealous hungry thoughts, but the wind? Where had she gone? The warmth of the valley was present, but there was no gale to shift it.  He wiped his brow as his ears pricked up.  He listened intently for the gusts of Un.  Not a blow.  Not a whistle.  No slight breeze at all.
“Bow to us and you will live forever.” The familiar calling from the North, vanished without trace.  Ungumpo scanned around the horizon, battle ready.  Magic and its makers were about.  He became hushed inside, breathing deeply.  Controlled.  A warrior must beware of the inconsistencies in his environment. 
Despite the strangeness of the land, the chieftain’s trek home was not at all treacherous.  There were many distractions – beasts and enemies to be slain for sport – but nothing compared to his recent quest.  Sprites – not the most intelligent game – would scamper a distance before a turn to observe their predator, to see if they were still being shadowed.  This morbid curiosity proved to be their downfall.  Sprites might taste like rotten egg, but to a fighter Dilf such as Ungumpo, food was merely fuel for the next aggressive encounter.  Unarguably it was the fourth tenet of Po, “Live for the hunt, eat for the battle”, that knocked him off course and into the tall grass of the wild.  There, deep within the dried undergrowth, Ungumpo netted and ate no less than eight Sprites.  The orange feathers of these icy fleshy treats entwined within his coarse beard.  Now, with his hunger sated, he snuffled his snout, tracking the weather lashed scent of his cart.  He waded in its direction, splashing his way back, heaving himself through marshland, trying vainly to recollect the last time the choral winds of Un betrayed their relation to the grasses.  Every reed so still.  Unnatural.  When he was but a few paces from his wagon, he froze.  There stood an old man.  Grey in garments, his skin pallid and pock-marked.  An unremarkable, colourless imp, thought Ungumpo.  In his right hand the old man held a dark fire cane.  A magician, then.
“Hello Ungumpo.” The old man stretched out his free hand as he spoke.  Ungumpo released his axe from his back-strap.
“Away!” Ungumpo growled, baring his fangs and stroking his deadly cleaver, still speckled with flaking viscera.  Dilfs advertise their kills.  Weapons are never swabbed!
“I mean you no harm.  My main trade is farming, but I’ve come by a tarn.  Would you care to look inside?”
“Are you deaf?” His paws tightened round the hilt.
“No need for violence, Ungumpo! No need! Look, see – my tarn, it’s just over there.” The pauper pointed with his fire cane, the free-flowing flames dancing in the direction of a clearing.  There was a small pool of water there.  It shimmered.  Its light danced.
“I have no interest in your pond.”        
The man in grey tried to mask an expression of hurt. “Just one look? What you find beneath its waters will charm you.  Sights to make you happy.”
“I am happy!” Ungumpo roared.  Without thinking, and with his eyes firmly fixed on the dancing light of the magician’s tarn, Ungumpo broke the shell of his egg with one enormous paw.  Some of the gooey yoke spilt onto his chest.  This egg was supposed to last for the entire winter.  He stared down at his shame-matted solar plexus.
“One can always be happier.  Wouldn’t you agree?”  The elderly fellow patted his stomach.  Ungumpo didn’t know how to answer.  He silently looked down at his paw, examining the sticky mess there.  This thief-mage was naught but a pauper, a beggar, seeking to trick him with cheap conjuring tricks.  He may have halted the winds briefly, but this temporary feat would come to nothing.
“All right,” announced Ungumpo, “I’ll attend your puddle.  But first, food! Conjure us a banquet! Refuse me and I shall devour you whole, and without the cooking!”
“All as you say.  Let’s travel to my cottage.  It isn’t far.”
“I’m not stupid little man,” Ungumpo stroked his axe. “Me? Follow a magic man to his home? I think not! Use your craft to summon me eggs.  Use it now or I’ll tear, I’ll rip.  I’ll drain your body of all its blood!”
“As you insist.” The old man produced a small lizard totem from his tatty folds.  He placed it on the ground and the both of them stood waiting.
They waited a good long while.  
The silence of the land unnerved Ungumpo as they waited and waited and waited, still.  Seemingly, they would wait forever.  An eternity of a pause for them … until … tired of the delay, the mighty Dilf warrior raised his weapon just as the man in grey announced, “It begins!” Lightning struck the ground a great distance away, and the creatures in the sky flocked out of it.  The Martletts, the Spows, the Griffins; all winged life flapping for welfare in the tall grass of the marshland.  The old man’s dark fire cane began to smoke, and the guff was vivid yellow, the colour of lizard blood.  The fume spread up into the atmosphere, and Ungumpo watched the buttery miasma smoulder and swirl.  It morphed, reshaping itself into a greener form, a fiend the village chief thought he’d sent to the underworld.  The monster’s one terrible eye, flashed ruby red, fixated on him.  Ungumpo released a paw from his axe reaching for the spice pouch on his belt.  He rubbed the pungency under his schnozzle, inhaled slowly, and clamped the hilt with both paws once again.  Down dived the creature, an imposing bulk, angling for the spot where Ungumpo stood.  The Great Lizard wailed the music of furious anger and irreconcilable vengeance that only beasts and children understand.  She scorched the ground around the warrior’s legs with her sulphuric volcano breath.
The battle was short.
His hooves barely moved out of position.
The hawks soared chirping, wild Griffins flapped skyward, shrieking passionately.  The flying insects, they too returned to their air-bound haven, for the blue firmament was safe once more.
“You should thank me,” began the old magician, stooping low to collect the lizard totem from the ground. “There is no glory in a bloodless harvest.  A great battle for Ungumpo!”
Ungumpo bellowed with joy and swung his axe above his head.  He yelled the name of his village – “Po!” – and sneered down at his accomplice.
“Thank you trickster, but I’ve spent the better part of my life hunting and studying all cold-blooded kind.  Their manoeuvres hold no surprise for me.”
“Ungumpo: animal-killer, this is your name.  A name to challenge the steadfastness of Mount Ekul, the Unmovable, the majesty of the mirror mountains and the fiery bolt of the High-Father himself!” Ungumpo flexed his body, devoid of any cuts or swipes – a true exhibition of a lifetime of precise and infallible battle-play.  He launched himself on to the upturned belly of his deceased opponent.
“Protect your hooter little wizard, the innards of these devils smell worse than they taste, and they taste as bad as hog dung.” He freed a horde of eggs beneath the beast’s scaly hide.
“Why in all of Oma would you taste hog dung?”
“Hmph, men.  You know nothing of the land.  Its medicines, its secrets.  These eggs are savoury, but the season of dragon flight is only a quarter period long.  Hog’s? They crap all year long.  Weigh up pleasures of the taste with the wait between seasons, and you’d feast on the dung of swine too.  Hmph.”
“You really are the champion of Po, aren’t you? Not some proud pretender – and there are many I’ve met today that have claimed your name.  Oh yes, many, many pretenders.” Ungumpo raised his axe aloft in response.
“Then please, oh Mighty One, there is an evil warlock.  He is my big brother, and he threatens all of Un.  He is foolish enough to move against Village Po.  My skills pale against his, but together, we can stop him.  Will you help me slay him?”
“Po this and Po that – there is no Village Po.  The High-Father razed its people long before you and I were born.”
“Ungumpo, I know all about your god tricking his brethren into believing Po desolate, no longer a threat.  Unfortunately, so does Aronson.  Let us defeat him, together?” Ungumpo became still, like the bush in a quiet windless plain.  And then …
“Bah! More battle? Ungumpo must rest.  But first, let us look into your tarn, shall we?” The man nodded, clapping with childlike abandon.  Ungumpo felt a reluctant affection for this new ally, who reminded the warrior of his absent chaos god, for the conjurer’s smile was wide and just as warm.
Hara collapsed into the corner wall of the room, overly fatigued, in need of proper relaxation.  Her weakness prevented her from comprehending the deeper meaning of the words, let alone read them off the page she’d inked them to.  She would torture herself with the recounting of a story meant for her god, but not now.  Now there would only be sleep, and the echo of cadences between her ears.
Ungumpo felt a reluctant affection for this new ally, who reminded the warrior of his absent chaos god, for the conjurer’s smile was wide and just as warm.
N   E   X   T      T   I   M   E      I    N     
 S   P   I   D   E   R   F   I   N   G   E   R   S
If he were a superhero, if the side street he fought in were a scene cut from a graphic novel, surely he would find some non-lethal way to stop the creature, this animal that used the body of an innocent woman to strangle him.  But as his attackers’ vice-like grip threatened to crush the life out of him, the very idea of him out of existence, well, the heroes’ choice - if it was ever available - it was surely gone now.

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(N.B The comments posted below pertain to an extended version of this story, truncated due to issues of pace). 


  1. I'm pretty sure I will have nightmares as a result of this post! So I guess that's a job well done. Some of the more horrific elements in this piece really did make my blood run cold, and I don't think I would have continued reading, had I not been critiquing it. This is my problem rather than yours, and I am clearly not your target audience! That being said, your prose is very accomplished, so that all scenarios are vivid and the sense of tension is palpable. The horrific elements are sparse enough that the story is not overwhelmed by them, and as such, they punctuate the story, rather than having it dissolve into 'slasher fiction'. The narrative is well-structured and I'm impressed by the narrative devices you've used to enable the babuska stories to unfold.

    A few ways to improve the piece:

    In the second paragraph, you say 'Blue Cerulean light of Un'. Blue and Cerulean both refer to the colour, so it's as if you've said 'the blue blue light of Un'. In this instance I'd suggest choosing one adjective and sticking to it.

    I think that the contrasts between the narrative voices could be stronger, so that we as the readers are better able to distinguish between perspectives. At the moment, the main clue that the POV has changed is the change in font. Although this is good, you might also think about further developing each character's voice. This includes differences in sentence structure, vocabulary, speech patterns, use of contracts etc. You already have a good deal of this with your Ungumpo character and his references to 'moving metal boxes' etc. But the differences between Steph's voice and Spinderfingers' voice are less distinct. Stronger narrative voices for both of these characters would mean that readers would be better placed to follow the plot as it twists and turns like a snake with an itchy back. It would also mean that the transition between narrative voices would be more jarring – a good way to further unsettle your readers.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go lie down for a minute. ;)

  2. All your comments are spot on! My main issue that i had b4 posting was wishing i had more time to make Steph's dialogue more 'separate' from Spiderfingers. I also wanted the night influenced Spiderfingers to sound just a little more different from the day one. But you're right, Steph needs a clearer voice. I think I'll get her to be a lot more of a nihilist. In fact, that's deffo how I'm gonna write to her :)

    Time and moving house has really affected this instalment but hey, I love the challenge.

    Was it really that scary? You should see what I've left out.
    In a few issues time, you will ;)

    Oh and by the way, this is probably the most balanced most helpful comment I've EVER been given. Really, this kind of feedback is why I write. Thank you kindly ;)

    I'll check out your stuff soon. Unlike the structure of this story, I really haven't planned today as best as I could.

  3. I had trouble concentrating on the meat of this story, becuase it was so well written. The form i excecuted very well, finally embracing the babushka doll element, and nigh on perfectly. Slipping between the different perceptions.

    Strangely i didnt find it that horrific. Yes some of the events are horrible (stomache turningly sick in the baby's case). But you present them as boiled facts, rather than gruesome brush strokes of description. For me it was heavy on the sci fi (which isnt a bad thing). From skimming your earlier work ive been intigued by your tales of the Oma, and to have them, the horror of Rooen and Sfs increasingly fragile was good.

    Quite like the parrales and contradictions between Steph and Ungumpo. Oh and love the overones of African mythology in Ungumpo's world.

    Have to agree with Leanne in her critisms. Steph still isnt there yet as a person. D you know what she wants? Does she? There always seems to be something missing.

  4. Thanks for liking the prose as it took ages to get the tone of Ungumpo's world right. I think - well I know, they'll be more messing around with narrative devices and parallel. Tell me of the specific contradictions tween Steph and Ungumpo? I hadn't consciously written any? I am INTRIGUED.

    Stomach turningly sick is enough for me. They started off quite graphic but had to be toned down. Why? Well, it stopped being story led and instead became what people refer to as torture porn.

    It is not great when you truly realise what it's like to inhabit the mind of a character such as Rooenn. Morals just make no sense to him/it. However, the Terrorsmith is a master at amoral activity. I was going for dark fantasy and i ended up with sci-fi? Weird. But cool!

    Tell me what you thought about Aaronson and how this issue compares with those of the recent past? I am OBSESSED with improving myself. Each issue is an exercise in stretching away from comfort zones;)

    Leanne commented on Steph's speech, not her character. Didn't we agree last issue that Steph had been 'revealed'? She wants to be a more prolific writer and there seems to be a great contradiction in the way she runs her life (Milo and her religion).

  5. See i read steph very differently to how you see her i think...

    Steph is like a russion doll. On the outside she is proper. A teacher, giving. The burka, religious, pious. These things are her costume.

    Then her roles. Mother, Lover. These come across as duties, she follows the accepted paths of such encounters, but her heart doesnt really seem into it. She lacks the love that would give greater depth to these roles.

    Beneath that you have her darker desires. She seeks to channel these into writing, but it seems she is not honest with hereslf, she doesnt awknowledge the darkness. Yet her actions bend her towards it. Her taking a lover, her encounter with Sfs.

    And then Umgumpo glipses deep within her, hungar and anguish.

    She is strong, yet fragile. And spread far to thin. Al her little dollies are lying scattered, we havent seen her whole.

    Here Umgumpo seems to embody all that she represses; he lives by his desires, his hungars, takes pride in them. And in doing so he becomes greater, he holds to his duty (until his demise, of course), and becomes good.

    It seems in Sfs world if you want to be happy you have to embrace yourself wholly. Any sundering, or repression leads to damnation. If a greater life expextancy. Livelong or prosper...sorry.

    Stomach turningly sick; horror doesnt necessarily have to mean graphic gore. Think on where the horror genre started. Horror is a taste, an atmoshpere. I guess this ties in with more distinct voices. SFs/Rooens horror merges ith Steph's bleakness. When i want to capture an atmsphere, i tend to play with the language as opposed to the story. Employ poetry techniques. Assonace, et al.

    Aronson?? Whos...oh yes. A good plot device, wonderful part in the narrative. But as a characer? I didnt expect to see him again. And not becuase he's an apparition!

  6. Ashley's analysis of Steph's character seems quite accurate, at least that's the way I have been reading her. I think her actions are mainly motivated by frustration and a suppressed desire for something beyond the mundane. This is evident, especially in the last few segments of the story. But her motivations do get lost a little in among the narrative of this particular section. This is only to be expected in such a densely-packed piece, and I'm not too upset by it, as long as we see more thoughts and emotions in subsequent pieces. I feel like this part of the story arc is setting up the structure a little more, the stories within stories are really starting to appear, and that's no bad thing at all.

  7. It's wonderful to write a character, realise you've left enough space for interpretation AND that those interpretations can help push the characters awareness/motivations. The plot will benefit greatly from these statements:

    'It seems in Sfs world if you want to be happy you have to embrace yourself wholly. Any sundering, or repression leads to damnation. If a greater life expectancy.'-A Fox

    'I feel like this part of the story arc is setting up the structure a little more, the stories within stories are really starting to appear, and that's no bad thing at all.'- L. Moden

  8. Another unexpected one! ^_^ I'm really enjoying this... so much so I decided its probably best to split this in two parts – Part one being start till our cross dimension/story intersection :)

    So yeah, really enjoying this story. ...I found the intro/beginnings pretty colourful (in character language) and well paced from the get go and (a few words I haven't heard before but the context makes their meaning somewhat clear).

    I find myself being weary of the wizard at times, and wondering why this warrior is taking his word for things, being that we have established that wizards can be bad as well as good. I also find myself wondering if this story was in part inspired by Warcraft ^_^ (There was even a point that rung of Rashamon, but I think that may have been accidental)

    ...Well I wanted to break this in to 2 parts for this reason, I have reached the middle(ish) and have become pretty invested in this Character and it is at this point you decide to weave the backplot in ...So at this point these are the questions and thoughts running through the windows of my mind:

    Is this Wizard a mischievous character or 'for the real'? And if so has our protagonist allowed himself to be charmed in to a trap, or on the other hand is he allowing his would-be trapper to fall in to a false sense of control?

    What about Our Warriors 'people' ? How are they getting on without power/wind?
    So what exactly has happened to the wind? - This evil Wizard? Or something less sinister?

    When the stories merged we seen a peek at a recurring character having troubles with technology (as seen by our primary protagonist for this story..) for a moment I thought it was like MK2 where and we got all interactive :) Then I realised what was happening. ...I'm really hoping that THIS is a story that she has wrote in the recurring story/plot/theme. I expected it was a tale as told by Spiderfingers however at this point I'm thinking perhaps this may not be a Spiderfingers story but a Steph story. ...or perhaps Spiderfingers weaving an element of Steph's life in to one of his tales (which admittedly would be the more logical choice, but THIS story has such a different feel to it its as if it were written by an alternative character ….but maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, for all I know where words are concerned maybe Spiderfingers is flexible, mailable even, as Clay :)


  9. So happy that someone who plays World of WarCraft appreciated the language and the colour inherent to the tales expression. I was reading Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors at the time (a short story compendium) and since that has quite a few stories based in such realms, I was happily influenced!

    I’m sure that Warcraft indulges a lot of the tropes that would fit into the part of the Oma we are seeing here. In fact, the type of story that I’ve constructed is not particularly original in concept although (it is arguable) the use of it to reveal that goings on in Steph’s world via the tarn is what gives it it’s flair. It did for me anyway!

    The feel of the story is significantly different to those that have come before, but if it lead you to thinking that it is in fact a story written by Steph then great – good for you! I have never considered that interpretation, mainly because it would be such a headache to get one’s head round. The Russian Doll Stories have rules that Spidefingers has lain out…I don’t think that Steph’s ability to write comes from the same place. In fact, in this story, Steph is concerned with perfecting slasher/horror stories. Maybe the real question to ask is why on earth does the tarn reveal her thoughts to Ungumpo? Is Aronson aware of this? Hmmm…
    I found your interest in Spiderfingers' interest in Steph revealing, especially since the overall tale get's even more meta later on and yes, reality will definately be bent and twisted by forces so omnipresent that what you read will be questionable. Don't worry I've given nothing away although, considering my tagging of pictures for current stories on FB, you've probably gathered in part some of the future events. I envy your particular perspective on the story and please, feel free to allow it to bias your opinion. Foreshadowing is something I really want to get just right.

    Now for your questions!
    Q:What about Our Warriors 'people'? How are they getting on without power/wind?
    A: We will discover the plight of Ungumpo’s village of Po but much much later (Volume II: A Doll Inside). The winds of Un have been halted but whether or not this will become something to return to in a later story is best left for now. Suffice to say that it is not of great importance, merely a motif of the supernatural genre. I wouldn’t put it past the wizard to have affected the land in some way since his power is revealed to be so outlandish that he can resurrect dead dragons!

    Looking forward to part two of your comment!

  10. pt2. Thoughs as the come:

    ”His vessels clothing was odd (defiant clashing hues of red, yellow and blue) “ my fav line ^_^

    Are we our characters, in this case... 'Are our characters us'? :)

    Ok you've done it again (Spiderfingers has defiantly stared speaking this time), Youve gone and created an engrossing story that demands to be read to the end then dropped this major thing in the end that is equally as demanding, ...As subjects go this is a pretty fucked up one, but one that is worthy of telling... I'm somewhat uneasy about reading this 'element' of the story. Im hoping Spiderfingers or Ungumbo can bring a satiffactory ending to this tale (though at this point I dont see how).
    Oh also there was a moment where I sensed some kind of similarity between the wizard and a drug dealer 'you enjoyed the tarn?' - Is this tarn addictive? Could it be the Wizard's brother in disguise (or the wizard – having been evil all along).

    Lol, ...ok so we get to a point where the (first) protagonist goes in and kicks shit up like only a fantastical character can and then Spiderfingers comes in and gives his commentary. ...and I'm thinking 'this is not a satifactory ending (thinking it has ended) then POW! What I can oly describe as Hillarious ^_^ ...I didn't expect you to flip the situation. Its brilliant! ...So I guess metaphorical justice has been served lol “‘Believe in me, for I am the way!’ “

    Ok ...what... Theres more?
    having some troubles distinguishing characters at this point until the first protagonist returns to the story. - At the exact moment I start to wonder what happened to the original story :)

    Hmm not sure is this is an anti-climax or a neutral ending. ...So were just left there with the potential endings (for better or worse) ahem 'blowing in the wind?' hehe

  11. pt3

    Jeez, there was alot to this I'm going to need some time to digest.
    Multiple stories woven together as expected but I wasnt expecting the darker twists that come in to play as the recurring characters were introduced.
    Something seems dstinctly different between this 'edition' and the previous ones. I think its either the humour or the fact that its a fantasy story we started with. I really liked the ideas with the wizard and would have enjoyed that as a stand alone story. The OTHER side/stories however were a lil fucked up at times, but the humour overcome the sick bits for me :)

  12. More of your thoughts on my elaborate sci-fi/fantasy/horror story? Cool!
    Firstly, I wasn’t consciously posing that age old question -Are we our characters- but if you have anything to say on the subject then be my guest. I think that since My name is John Clay and I wear clothes that Spiderfingers does then whether I intend to or not, Spiderfingers as a character will get people to think on such subjects (topics that I’ll touch upon a lot more blatantly in Volume II).

    ‘I'm somewhat uneasy about reading this 'element' of the story.’ Human Nature

    What element are you talking about? I’m no mind reader – I don’t own a tarn! Spell it out ;)

    The tarn has a debilitating affect upon the appearance and mental state of Ungumpo but again, I wasn’t thinking drug dealer and junkie during the drafting or editing. I will definitely point this analogy out to those I enlist to provide a final edit of volume II. Cheers!

    Leanne and Ashley both recommended (check out their comments if you haven’t already, they are great custodians of my wayward imagination!) that I work on making each voice in this more clear and personalised. I read this back only a few days ago and wholeheartedly agree. Regardless of this being written in a month, the narrative risks confusion simply because of its structure/ambition. Hey, after writing Man is the Meal, I NEEDED to try out something more advanced. Believe or not, the story demanded you all to be in various places at once.

    I write with the intention of giving people something that they can digest slowly over the month. I don’t read all of these chapters in one sitting. Why is Wigloo (the first episode of this year’s Volume II) often takes about three or so sittings to read. Take your time. Define your own rules as to how to read Spiderfingers. God knows Invisible is another long read whereas Trust No One Under Twenty and Big Yellow Baby can be done in one or two readings.

    What do you think of stand-alone episodes of a series that have the dual agenda of supplementing an arc/bigger story? I love them! Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Twin Peaks, Star Trek…I love that kind of writing and I hope Blackest Black is a good attempt at such a format.

    The horror had to be stuff that I found repugnant and inhumane simply because Spiderfingers has the personality switch that occurs at night. He is part Greek god, if he had the time to share some of ancient Greece’s horror stories with you. I guess through me, well, he kind of has.

  13. I'm strangely, inexplicably enamoured with the opening character by the phrase “Po!”. Perhaps it's because I'm a sad act with an affection for Pokemon... But I read on, your piece has naught to do with Pokemon but is an interesting change of pace/focus. I'm writing this comment as I go, it's quite exciting. I definitely, immediately feel more sutured into your story than previous chapters, which is enjoyable and adds to the relevance behind the previous chapters being rife with distanciation (I don't know if that is a exclusively Thatrical/Brechtian term – you'd be forgiven for imagining I made that word up).

    I can see the development of super ego vs Id in the characters/archetypes of the wizard and the warrior, especially as the latter is very caveman in his sensibilities, I enjoyed their 'battle' and had a sense that the wizard had always set out to fox the warrior.

    I'm not sure how the infanticide fits in but it does add to the creepy danger Spiderfingers presents especially with the passage watching from inside Steph's head while she writes. The story within a story is becoming much clearer now. I think! The cross overs are becoming more clear to me now I feel this is down to enough establishment on both sides of the stories. I do still get the impression I am missing some finer details but this is perhaps down to how well the story carries my attention – perhaps what I sense I cannot grasp yet is to be revealed at a later time - One thing is obviously the inhabitants of Po visit Steph's world but does Steph's world pass back? Rooenn is interesting but I feel I am missing his/her/its relevance!

  14. Po!
    A cool made up word for a village which has been made up. Very happy that you are excited by the continual morphing of tone and intention. There is a sense throughout of me keeping seemingly important details out of sight, all the while hefting others boldly into view.

    'One thing is obviously the inhabitants of Po visit Steph's world but does Steph's world pass back?' - Katherine Broadbent

    Interesting theory. Interesting because with all that's going on in this slice of madness, I didn't think anyone would ask such a question till much later...