Only Diana This Time (Plus This Drawing of a Tree!)

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Sample

Further Details

“How do you know how long it was?” Diana asked.

“They had a countdown running, or a count up, really. I mean, there was a tally on the inside wall of my tube, so I could see the seconds counting up. Four years of seconds is kind of a while, when you’re looking at it in little segments like that,” Stuart said.

Diana didn’t know what to say.

“How long were you here, Di?” Stuart asked.

“Hey, why did they let you out?” Diana asked. Stuart blushed. Diana began to feel a burning curiosity about the reason behind this blush, as she felt Stuart looked like a person sitting on a magnificent and fascinating secret.

“I don’t want to say,” Stuart said quietly.

“Did you realize you really did love me, and they decided to let you try and be nice to me again?” Diana asked.

Once again, Stuart got up and limped away. Diana didn’t follow him, as she wanted to think over the prospect of being stuck for four long years in the kind of squished, claustrophobic tube that she’d seen Stuart in for a brief moment. She had only been conscious of a few months passing in her own experience of time after the coming of the aliens, and though she had been in the blank place for an indeterminate space of time, Diana did not think it had been anywhere close to even a month, let alone a year, or four.

Stuart came back in a couple of hours, limping and looking exhausted.

“Will you please come and sit with me, Di? I can’t go to sleep at all, and you’d help. You being there,” Stuart said. He seemed miserable to be asking, but tired enough not to care about his dignity anymore.

“You’ll talk to me until you fall asleep?” Diana asked. Stuart heaved a defeated manner of sigh.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll tell you anything you want,” he said.

“Cool. Let’s go,” Diana said, and she went ahead of him into the house and to their particular bedroom.

“Um, can we go somewhere else?” Stuart asked, his face mildly uncomfortable.

“No,” Diana said, because she wanted to maintain a sense of continuity for the aliens and because she could see that Stuart was at a higher pitch of emotion in here.

She sat down at the foot of the bed and folded her hands together. Stuart looked with some longing down the hall and then sat down with another miserable sigh on the side of the bed and pulled off his shoes.

“So how real was it for you? Were you always aware of being in the tube, or was it like you were really here when I saw you here?” Diana asked.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, a pair of newlyweds are meeting an old conquest of Telmon’s.

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Porathu Parked

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Here is the spaceship the hunting party is currently using, docked at a big port in Carnepi. They’re going to charter a larger one when they meet up with the extra hunting guests next week.

Grumble bruhamblerg.

I am titling chapters right now, which is always fun. I’ve been constructing experiment blurbs in my free time, because they scare me.

Confronting demons is useful and all that. And yes, writing blurbs can form a big, scary demon. Because I said so.

This is my brain on not enough sleep. Urgh.

Sample

Stuart’s Turn, Again

“You don’t have to make anything for me, Di,” Stuart said. He had followed her to the kitchen and was hovering and looking uncomfortable in the doorway.

“I’m already almost done. We can go sit under the tree to eat,” Diana said. Stuart took a couple of steps into the kitchen and then turned and left. Diana heard the front door open and close.

She got a couple of plates together and followed Stuart outside. He’d climbed the tree and was wedged partway up, his cheek laid against the bark and the thick leaves.

“You look kind of beat up,” Diana offered, sitting down on the ground underneath Stuart.

“Yeah,” Stuart said.

“Well, did they hit you?” Diana asked.

“No, I got–no,” Stuart said, cutting himself off and looking discomfited.

“What? Come on, Stu, we’ve got a week and we might as well talk now,” Diana said.

“Don’t call me that. They won’t leave us alone for a whole week. I don’t–I’m not sure I want to talk anymore,” Stuart said.

“Okay,” Diana said in a peaceful and understanding sort of way, and she sat and ate her lunch while ignoring Stuart, who eventually dropped down with a pained grunt and sat a little distance from her.

“I got put in with some other guys before I came back here, a kind of–a kind of biker gang,” Stuart said. “They roughed me up before the aliens got me out again.” Stuart prodded his slices of alien fruit and nibbled on one in an experimental way.

“Were they older men, and five of them?” Diana asked.

“No, just teenaged punks,” Stuart said.

“I had a kind of gang of old guys, and I killed them all,” Diana said.

Stuart glanced at her with a sort of ‘Oh, really?’ look in his eyes.

“The aliens gave me a gun, like a plastic toy, and they said it would kill,” Diana said.

“They just got taken back, then. You didn’t kill them,” Stuart said.

With a plop, five rotting dead bodies were deposited in the grass nearby.

Stuart swore. Diana laughed.

“What are you laughing for?” Stuart demanded.

“You saw me have a baby, Stu. I’m not going to burst out crying and think that’s real,” Diana explained. The dead bodies vanished. “Funny, though,” Diana remarked, sighing over her food.

“What’s funny about that? They smelled real,” Stuart said.

“Tell me what happened, Stu. Come on. We’ll just go around like this endlessly in circles until you talk. How long were you in the tube?” Diana asked.

Stuart pretended to be absorbed in his fruit.

“What, did you have some kind of time thing going on and you were in there for fifteen years?” Diana asked.

“Four. I was in the tube for four years,” Stuart said, his eyes on the plate.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, someone is about to be trained as a spy for the reputation man.

Super Fast Figures

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No, the figures aren’t fast. The sketching of the figures was fast, because LIFE.

But this is a rough-in for the night of the rustle, when the city stages a war against a handful of bodyguards. I need to design the room more thoroughly.

Anyhow.

Segue!

On the topic of acting, (’cause this is not an acting blog . . . cough, cough) my vocal damage is improving. Hooray! I’ve got old emotional scars from, well, forever, and I’m doing the old thrash-them-out-with-yoga-and-Linklater shtick. Which, of course, works. That’s the gentle, slow way, which I prefer to the fast, violent way.

Like Muscle-Splitting Massage And Other Painful Practices

You really shouldn’t attempt the quick way, in my opinion, unless you have a five or six person competent support team and reams of money lying around to live on while you turn into a blubbering wreck and process the aftereffects. ‘Cause that shit is ugly.

Anyway, being a plebe, I’m using the slow process, which I think is more satisfying anyway, since it forms a simultaneous route to exploring new impulse pathways and establishing a library of emotional patches to pull from in performance.

Look at me, talking about myself like a regular old egotist! Told you it was working : )

Here’s some Diana.

Sample

Stuart’s Version

“So I touched your arm and I vanished, right?” Stuart asked, staring at the black ice.

Diana didn’t want to interrupt the flow of whatever he was going to tell her, and so waited for more.

“Are you going to be all perfect and understanding now?” Stuart asked, sounding grumpy.

She didn’t reply. Stuart sighed.

“Yeah, you do this all the time when you’re pregnant. Like you’re thinking ahead of me. I hated it. I hate you, okay?” Stuart said, though he sounded lonely.

“What’s wrong?” Diana asked. Stuart’s mouth crimped up, and his eyes said something along the lines of ‘Now she talks.’

“Well, I got stuffed into a tube,” Stuart said.

“I saw that. What’s wrong, Stu?” Diana asked.

“Don’t–” Stuart buried his face in his arms and was still and quiet for a long time.

“Don’t call you that?” Diana asked. Stuart nodded without lifting his head. “You seem really sad, honey,” Diana said.

Stuart broke into wild laughter and got up to leave the roof. Diana stood and followed him. Stuart whirled and pointed to the blanket.

“Stay, woman,” Stuart said.

“You didn’t tell me your timeline,” Diana said.

“Bye,” Stuart said, and he went to the window and climbed back into the house.

Diana licked her lips and thought about what she wanted to do. She’d been prepared for a long and fascinating recital over Stuart’s experiences, but he now presented a different puzzle to her. He seemed so sad that Diana felt he was practically entering a coma of misery.

She didn’t like it. The lassitude of Stuart’s sudden mood seemed strangely ominous to her, and Diana picked up the bedding and went down to the window as well. She went through the rooms of the house until she found Stuart, who had locked himself into a bathroom.

Diana went down to the shed and found a screwdriver with a narrow end, which  she took back inside and tried to use to lever the lock open in the bathroom door handle.

“What are you doing, Diana?” Stuart called when he heard her fiddling at the door.

“There are other tools out there, Stu. If you don’t let me in, I’ll get something and start smashing the door down,” Diana said.

Stuart opened the door and glared at her. She was very surprised to see him crying. Diana had realized, of course, that he was very sad, but she had never seen Stuart cry in all her life, and the sight of his reddened eyes and damp cheeks made her feel  more like a person whose life has been taken over by aliens than anything that had happened to her so far.

“I’m a terrible influence, Di. You’d never have tried to break into bathrooms before,” Stuart said, trying to smile.

“Stuart, are you in love with me?” Diana demanded.

He shut the door. She felt this was as good as a yes, and so sat down on the floor and leaned her back against the door.

As she felt the situation was full of dramatic possibilities, and as she was thoroughly aware of the watching aliens, Diana set in to be emotionally clumsy.

“So was it horrible to be living with me and knowing it was all fake?” Diana called. “Or are you upset because you thought that I was really there and now you know that I wasn’t?” Diana added.

“Is this your way of showing them home, Di?” Stuart called, sounding both miserable and amused.

“Hey, sweetie,” Diana called through the door. There was a long pause.

“What?” Stuart asked.

“How long were you in that tube, honey?” Diana called.

Another pause.

“Well, they skipped bits here and there, but it was a while,” Stuart said, his voice cautious.

“Like, a couple of months?” Diana asked.

“You tell me how long you’ve been here, first. Then I’ll say,” Stuart said.

“No,” Diana said, and the two of them sat on either side of the door for quite some time.

“Hey. I’m ready to come out, I think,” Stuart said.

“Are you hungry?” Diana asked.

“Yeah,” Stuart admitted.

“There’s plenty of food. I’ve got nice stuff to eat. You want me to make you something?” Diana asked. She heard a sniffle.

“Maybe,” Stuart said.

Diana stood up and went downstairs. I will get the truth out of him with food and sympathy, she told herself, and she collected some of the eggplant-like fruits and started to assemble as soothing of a lunch as she could manage under the conditions.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and I’m thinking about buying donuts after work today. Because… because donuts. And in my current novel, a bigamous gangster is in a lot of trouble with the reputation man.

Vince the Hunter

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Here’s Vince in the screensaver from the first book in my series I’m working on. He was in the desert collecting speed-cornet lizards, but the photographer for a science magazine told him that was too boring for pictures, so Vince grabbed one of his spears.

Yay Vince!

Here’s a bit of Diana:

Sample

Post-Marriage

Stuart tried to close the bedroom door, but Diana slid into the opening and he wasn’t willing to touch her, so he stepped back and glared.

“Please go away,” Stuart said.

“I want to compare stories. I’m not afraid of you,” Diana said.

“Yeah, obviously. I don’t want to compare stories. It was all made up, anyway,” Stuart said. He clearly wanted to escape the room, but Diana was standing in the doorway. “Please move,” Stuart said.

“I’ll just follow you wherever you go. You can’t get away from me,” Diana said.

Stuart snarled.

Diana studied him and reflected on what was most likely to make him talk. I’ll be the one to go away, she thought, and she ran to the bed, causing Stuart to shout and dart out of the way, grabbed a pillow and blanket, and climbed out of the open window.

Diana did not at all know what Stuart would do, but she was sure he hadn’t expected this. She made a cozy bed near the peak of the roof and settled down, staring up at the black ice above her.

“It’s not even night or anything,” Stuart said. He’d come partway up the roof without her noticing. Diana pretended not to hear him and closed her eyes. Stuart laughed, though it was his old, mean sound, and not at all the nice way the fake him had laughed.

Diana heard the crunch of limping steps, and Stuart sat down several feet away.

She didn’t say anything at all and pretended to be sound asleep. Stuart made a couple of half-hearted opening noises, as if he meant to speak, and then stood up again.

“Stay please,” Diana said.

“Liar, pretending to be all peaceful and asleep. You’re different than the fake you,” Stuart said.

Diana was surprised enough to sit up.

“What do you mean, the fake me?” she asked.

“You don’t remember the pregnant parts, apparently. I asked you how long you’d been here because I want to compare timelines,” Stuart said.

“That’s what I wanted to do before you stomped off,” Diana remarked.

Stuart walked away. Diana, who felt that they were approaching a satisfying conversation, smiled and studied the black ice. Half an hour later, Stuart came back.

“Stop needling at me,” Stuart said.

“No, it’s fun. I will never stop,” Diana said.

Stuart left again. Diana laughed, because she was getting tremendous satisfaction out of exacting revenge on the real Stuart, who apparently had a much better handle on his temper than he’d ever had in his life before.

Two and a half hours later, Stuart came back and sat down. Diana sensed a willingness to talk on his part and so remained very quiet.

Stuart sighed.

“Well, I’ll tell you most of it,” he said, sounding resigned.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, a pair of gangsters are trying to throw an impromptu bachelor party for Mr. Weston.

Half a Sketch, ‘Cause Busy

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This is the monarch of Asoan, and it is half a sketch because he’s looking up at Claire and I’m not happy with her half of the picture yet. He’s in the library, though. Ah, layers.

(Which mean I can totally temporarily erase half the picture and work on it later. Ha ha!)

And again, busy, so here’s a bit of Diana:

Sample

The False Past

“I was–I was pregnant?” Diana asked.

“How much do you remember?” Stuart asked.

“Did we–” Diana asked, and then she wasn’t brave enough to finish the question.

“No, it was like, the biggest cut-scene of all time. You were just pregnant, and snappy, and it went on for months. How long have you been here?” Stuart asked.

“You tell me your timeline first. What happened after you got taken away?” Diana asked, sitting on top of the table.

“Don’t sit there, Diana, there are chairs,” Stuart said, scowling.

“Talk,” Diana said.

“Not unless you’re sitting in a chair like a civilized person,” Stuart said. Diana didn’t move. Stuart left the room.

“Stu, come on!” Diana said, laughing a little and following him. He turned around and glared at her.

“This is not a joke to me, Diana,” Stuart snarled, mangling her name as if it had been a very shiny and effective cuss word. Diana kept her eyebrows from climbing, but it was an effort.

“I didn’t say it was a joke. The world is not going to end because I sit on a kitchen table. The world already ended, in fact, as far as I can tell. What happened on your end?” Diana asked.

Stuart stared at her for a long time and she thought it looked like he was trying to stop his left eye from twitching.

“We were married. It was horrible. Now I’m here,” Stuart said, and he turned around and walked away.

Diana followed.

“Do you remember our wedding? Did you just plop suddenly into being married to me? What happened?” Diana asked. Stuart appeared to get angrier with every word she spoke, and Diana half suspected that he was going to explode and start punching walls, or her.

“Nothing happened. It was all a head game. I’m going to bed,” Stuart said, and he paused on the stairs to glare down at her. “Don’t follow me,” he added, trying really hard to look threatening.

Diana followed him anyway.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, someone who has been wanting to for a long time is about to ride on a hover bike. (Yay!)

Character Doodle

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Here is a woman who is in one of my science fiction books. She’s awesome. Yay fun characters!

Fun fact: I was drawing this while flux was on, so I didn’t realize I was turning the sky green. I like it, though.

Once, a long time ago, a really wicked sort of producer tried to use me as the acting version of a whipping boy, and I said “Nope,” and quit the project. It was satisfying, because I stood up for myself to the director and I think he felt pretty stupid afterwards.

Ha ha! In other news, I am thinking about scrubbing the windows.

Here’s some more Diana:

Sample

Another Deal With Aliens

The large, thick alien looked at Diana, and then turned to stare at Stuart.

“Look, life mates,” the alien said in a much smoother voice than the others had used. The alien waited, as if to see if either Diana or the young man would protest the use of this term. Neither of them did, so the alien drew a deep breath and went on. “Here we are in the domicile. Less interruptions would be ideal. Don’t touch her,” the alien said, pointing a long, misshapen limb at Stuart.

“I wasn’t going to,” Stuart said, scowling.

“Stop being boring,” the alien said, pointing at Diana, who smiled. The alien appeared to perform a manner of sigh. “What do you want, human?” the alien asked.

“Stop interfering and I’ll show you home. And I don’t even know if he’s real,” Diana said, nodding towards Stuart.

“He is. You have one week. We come down if hurting,” the alien said.

“What?” Stuart asked, but the alien was already gone.

“I think he was concentrating, and he stopped trying to speak coherently at the end. He means they’ll interfere if we beat each other up,” Diana said, eyeing Stuart.

“How long have you been here?” Stuart asked.

“I’m in charge, Stu,” Diana said.

“Yeah, I put that together for myself after they stuffed me in a plastic sleeve for an indeterminate space of time and pilfered my mind for astral projection or some crap like that,” Stuart said, practically spitting with irritation.

Diana studied Stuart, who seemed, she thought, to look kind of resentful.

“Did you actually experience all this, then?” Diana asked.

“The kissing? Yep,” Stuart said, looking angry.

“Oh,” Diana said. She hadn’t expected this development at all.

“And I was there for all the part with the baby. You’re snappy when you’re pregnant,” Stuart said.

“What?!” Diana exclaimed. Stuart raised an eyebrow at her, and her face turned extremely red.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current book, a couple of bodyguards are going to manufacture some special engine parts.

Another Wing Study

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So I had an acting teacher once who was annoyed with my cheekbones.

Color Me Elven Or Something

They’re good cheekbones.

She didn’t like how pretty they were, so she decided that I had a problem with smiling too much on stage, and she would give me feedback on scenes that mainly focused on how she had decided I was breaking character by smiling.

Yeah.

Victor Poole, You And Your Pretty Face!

She wasn’t a very nice person. ‘Cause I’m highly photogenic when smiling. Thanks, cheekbones.

One time I had an assigned Shakespeare scene in her class and the whole thing went off really well. My scene partner did a good job, and I was all gorgeous and perfect and everything. The teacher scowled the whole time and couldn’t find anything to criticize, since it was a falling-in-love scene and required, obviously, plenty of smiling.

This Woman Wanted Me Droopy And Frowny

She did make sure that I never got a good scene like that to work on again. She wanted to be sure I was playing very old or chubby characters who needed to cry a lot.

Unfortunately for her ego, I was good at that, too.

Ah, terrible acting teachers.

Topic Change!

Here’s some Diana:

Sample

The Real Stuart

Stuart came into the yard and the black ice doorway closed up with another heavy clunk.

Diana stood on the porch, her broom in her hand, and waited to see what he would say or do.

Stuart drew a deep breath, which seemed to cost him a little, and walked partway across the concentric garden, stopping in the midst of the large, vibrant plants.

“I am sorry, Diana Vassel, for touching your arm after I promised to obey you,” Stuart said, his eyes flashing with rage and his mouth in a malevolent line.

Diana nodded and went back into the house, leaving the broom out on the porch. She really wasn’t sure what to do with herself. She was quite sure this was the real Stuart. He was angry, the way he’d always been, and looked as raw and frustrated as he’d appeared when he’d walked through the snow with her months ago.

She didn’t know what he was going to be like, as the nice Stuart she’d gotten to know was apparently a figment of her mind, or some trick the aliens had conjured up.

I can’t trust him, Diana told herself, and she kept her hands from trembling as she opened the fridge in the kitchen and took out a couple of empty plates. There were floating alien lights in the house, and water from the faucets, but no power, and Diana had taken to using the fridge as a more convenient cupboard, as the ones above the counters were annoying for her to reach.

Stuart came into the doorway and folded his arms.

“How long have you been here?” Stuart asked.

Diana didn’t know how she felt at the moment, or what she wanted to say. She’d thought a lot over the last two months, since she’d found out that the Stuart she’d thought she’d been kissing had been fake, and she was not at all sure that there was anything real about that Stuart, as far as the personage being a representation of what this Stuart, the real Stuart, could be like.

She looked at the bruised and exhausted boy across the room and felt as if she was looking at both Stuarts, the angry, remorselessly violent one, and the new, trustworthy and devoted one. A faint potential of the nicer Stuart was in the young man’s eyes, but Diana didn’t trust it at all.

“I have food,” Diana said, ignoring his first question. Stuart’s eyebrows lifted and his mouth turned in an angry smile. “Are you hungry?” Diana asked.

“Hungry for answers, sure. No, I don’t want food,” Stuart said.

A crack of power made the light in the kitchen flicker, and a large alien, much thicker and heavier than the others Diana had seen, appeared.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and I’m going over past drafts with list-making in mind, to ensure coherency in the next scenes.