Just a picture today.
You’re looking at Victor Poole, and I am having the worst day ever.
Just a picture today.
You’re looking at Victor Poole, and I am having the worst day ever.
Here’s a sketch I started months ago that is marching along towards a satisfactory conclusion.
And here is what happens next in Diana’s story:
“It burns, yeah. It hurts a lot,” Stuart said, his voice level. Diana thought it sounded as if he was hiding a great deal of pain.
“So you’ve—sorry, never mind,” Diana said, controlling her temper.
“No, what is it? You never talk to me as yourself, Di. Come on and be you for two seconds, please,” Stuart said.
Diana felt extremely irritable at his claim that she wasn’t herself and prodded with gentle fingers near the alien tattoo, which had faded back to a navy blue color, crushed through with gleaming hints of metallic color.
“I’m myself all the time,” Diana said, her voice stiff.
“You’re calculating and detached, babe. I know you. You’re never you around me,” Stuart said.
“Well, that’s not a lie from your point of view, then,” Diana remarked, observing the steady blue coloring of the alien marks.
“Stop avoiding the question, Di. What were you about to say and you stopped yourself?” Stuart asked.
“I’m not going to tell you, Stu, because every time I’ve talked to you as my real self, you’ve just done something horrible afterwards,” Diana said, real anger spilling out of her words. Stuart spun around and kissed her.
Diana was furious about this response to her feelings, which were quite genuine, and tried to back away, but Stuart did the same slithery, absorbing motion he’d used when the projection of him had kissed her before, and Diana found herself inexplicably melting.
“Oh, stop,” she said, but she sounded very cozy about things. Oh gosh, Diana thought, feeling many withering and scornful feelings towards herself. She really was beginning to think that her body was a base and traitorous sort of thing, to jump over to Stuart’s side just because of two seconds of kissing.
“Baby, I love you,” Stuart murmured, not stopping. Diana ripped her way out of his arms and twisted around to see the tattoo on his back, which was perfectly blue and looked calm.
“Say that again,” Diana said, breathing hard.
“I love you, baby. I love you so much. I think about you all the time, Di, and I’ve been in love with you for ages, for at least twelve years,” Stuart said at once.
The marks stayed blue and started, midway through Stuart’s protestations, to give off peaceful silver gleams in the metallic texture.
Huh, Diana thought.
“Baby?” Stuart asked.
“Hm? What?” Diana asked, studying the interesting and objectively beautiful alien mark running from Stuart’s waist to his shoulder.
You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Evie is getting beat up.
Here is a centaur sketch I’ve been working on.
And here is what Stuart says next to Diana:
What Diana Did
“I guess it’s pretty silly to talk out loud to myself like this. I wish you still wanted to kiss me, baby. I want to know what it’s like to kiss you. I mean, we kissed a ton in the simulation, but I never felt it. That was awful, you know. You’d, like, look at me, and you’re so nice. Anyway,” Stuart said with a deep sigh.
He was still walking backwards in front of her so he could stare at her face, and Diana was doing a very good job not focusing on his body with her eyes.
“But, um, that one time when I was in the dark for almost four months, it just kept going on and on, right? And finally, at the end, I decided that they had just decided to forget about me, and I was pretty much giving up on life. I started actually calming down and thinking at that point. Until then I’d been stewing, really, and just blaming you for everything, but after I really gave up, I started to think about you and me and why I like you so much,” Stuart said.
People who love other people don’t punch them or devise awful torture for them, Diana thought, feeling irritated with Stuart, who frowned as he studied her face.
“Well, actually I love you, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t count as real love because I’m still mean to you all the time. But I have the kind of love somebody has when they’re a rotten jerk who can’t change. I love you that way, and I really do care about you. I bet you’d never believe me, which is why I stopped even trying to be nice. I mean, what if you liked me back and then I was rude again? That would be horrible, so I’d rather not risk it. I mean, at least right now I’ve been with you, up until I was an idiot and ran away, but hey! I’m not in the tube, you know? So I can’t be doing the really bad stuff right now or the aliens would take me back. Oh, but I was telling you about how I figured out how to get out of the dark in the tube. Di, baby, I love you,” Stuart said suddenly, and he stepped closer to her without any warning and kissed her mouth.
Diana really didn’t know what to do about this.
She’d been pretending she couldn’t see or hear Stuart, but now his arms were around her, holding her close, and she could certainly feel the way he was kissing her. Oh well, Diana thought, and she decided to see how much of a continued illusion she could get away with.
“Kevin?” Diana asked, drawing a little back and looking around with confusion.
Stuart got really red. He went pale. He stepped back a few feet and stared at Diana as if she’d killed him.
“Who’s Kevin?” Stuart asked, his voice trembling with the sudden, wrenching terror of there being someone else Diana wanted, trusted, and kissed on the regular.
It was not lost on Stuart that they had been separated many times, and that the aliens had apparent control over a variety of timelines and simulations.
Diana looked around with great confusion and put her hands out as if to find a body she could not see.
“Kevin, did you come back again? I can’t see you, sweetie,” Diana said.
Stuart started to swear, backing up to keep away from Diana’s hands, and she spent a satisfying few minutes wandering around the empty street and pretending to look for the person she’d just made up. Stuart started to cry. He swore volubly and followed her, keeping out of reach and alternating between fury and obvious heartbreak.
“Di, it’s me,” Stuart said at last, when he’d gotten a handle on his tears, though his face was swollen and his eyes were red.
Diana kept looking for the illusive Kevin, and Stuart started to cry a lot harder. She gave up after another few minutes and resumed her walk towards her old house, and Stuart, who was now acting like a man whose whole family has been snatched away and murdered before his eyes, followed, making no effort to hide the noise of his passionate sorrow.
Well, this is fun, Diana thought, and she hid a smile as she trudged towards her house alongside the heartrending sobs of Stuart.
You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Nathan is going into surgery for the second time in one day.
This is Lysette. She’s a terrible person. Her parents are really rich, so they bought her a king for a husband.
He tried to get along with her, and to fall in love, but she’s just awful. Selfish, abusive, and, it turns out (spoiler alert!), homicidal.
Poor king John.
In other news, I’m cleaning the commas out of a previous manuscript and sweet mother of grammar, there are so many extra commas.
Here’s some Diana:
Back to Stuart
Diana found herself once more in the bedroom. Stuart, it seemed, had been fully cognizant of her absence, for he was curled into a quivering heap under the blankets and sobbing his heart out.
A spidery white script appeared along the heap of blankets that concealed Stuart.
Five of your years, Vassel, counting down from today. Then, evaluate. No more interrupting. Ha.
Diana smiled, for she felt the aliens had a pretty solid sense of humor, despite their apparent penchant for landing on the planets of other species and mucking about with ice storms and time control intervals. She wondered if there were thousands of people like her, trapped in bubbles of ice and being put through their emotional paces.
The white, spidery words vanished, and Diana reached out and put a careful hand on Stuart’s shoulder.
He screamed and jolted upright, and Diana, who was no longer frightened of him at all, smiled.
“Hey there. Have you slept at all yet, honey?” Diana asked.
“You were—you left. What happened?” Stuart asked.
“Have you fallen asleep yet?” Diana asked, her voice patient and her mind racing over all the things she might be able to accomplish in Stuart’s character in the space of five years. Can I make him into a good man? she asked herself, and she thought that at the very least she could get him to a good basic point of being able to realize his previous wrong-doing.
“No,” Stuart said, his voice ragged and his eyes bloodshot.
“Well, I’m going to go downstairs and get a snack and a couple of books, and then I’ll come and let you hold my hand while you rest, okay?” Diana said. She left the room.
With the motion of a recently-beaten young animal who is terrified of being left behind, Stuart scrambled out of bed and followed her.
You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Gabs is practicing her act with Babs in the hopes that she will attract a wealthy patron or prospective spouse later on.
And here’s a bit of Diana, for the road, as ’twere:
“I knew I was there,” Stuart said. “I mean, it was—it was like being a virtual presence, I guess. I couldn’t feel things that were happening, but I saw and heard everything. I wasn’t—I couldn’t really interact with the world around me. And then they kept control of what I said and did. There are wires in the tube, all right? And if I said something, like I’d tell you to leave me alone, right at the beginning?” Stuart asked, looking at Diana, “And those words wouldn’t come out of my mouth. I’d be almost stuck, as if the world I was in, the space with you, stopped until I said something they liked, and then I would be saying that out loud. I never knew what they’d like, though. I mean, I would just all of a sudden be talking in real time like that, when I figured out what they wanted to hear. So I failed a lot,” Stuart said with a sigh.
Diana watched his face, which looked worn and defeated.
“At the beginning, you were just paused more than anything for me, because you’d look at me, Di, or say something, and then I tried to react and nothing would get through. It was really frustrating. Once I realized what was happening I shouted a lot, or tried to. None of that would translate to you hearing me at all, but I did, I screamed at you for a long time. Um,” Stuart said.
He had taken off his shoes and crawled under the blanket, and he looked at Diana for a long moment.
“Would you mind holding my hand?” Stuart asked, sounding beaten down and miserable.
Diana felt she could risk this without calling down the aliens, so she moved over to sit next to Stuart. She grabbed his hand and he gasped and squeezed closer, breathing hard and closing his eyes.
“What’s wrong?” Diana asked, watching Stuart’s face go through a powerful revolution of misery, loneliness, and embarrassment.
“I can feel you. You’re here. I’m touching you. I was in the tube for four years, then the aliens put me in with some boys that beat me up, and I felt that, and now I’m here. I haven’t felt anything but the tube and that one thrashing for four years, Di, and I can feel your hand now. It’s just nice, is all,” Stuart said, vibrating with deep emotion.
“Poor baby,” Diana said, her voice light. Stuart laughed and moved back to lay his head on the pillow, though he kept hold of Diana’s hand. “No, they don’t like anything to calm down,” Diana said, moving closer to maintain their previous proximity.
“They’ll come down if we stop touching?” Stuart whispered, looking terrified.
“Mm. Very probably. They don’t like emotional distance after a coherent bonding moment,” Diana said.
“How’d you figure that out?” Stuart whispered. Diana shook her head, meaning that she wouldn’t explain, and Stuart sighed and wrapped both hands around her hand. “So you’ll stay here with me, please? I’m really tired, Di,” Stuart whispered.
“It’s okay, Stu. You can talk normally,” Diana said, reaching out with her free hand to pet over Stuart’s hair. Now that he was so frightened, she wasn’t afraid of him at all, or particularly nervous. He seemed like a quivering lump of sadness to Diana, and she didn’t pity him, but she felt he was being very likeable now. “Why were you so mad at me when you came back, if you remember everything that happened between you and me?” Diana asked, stroking over Stuart’s hair.
“It was real. I didn’t have a pause button anymore, Di. I thought they were going to hurt me again,” Stuart whispered.
“Honey, it’s okay. We’ve got a whole week,” Diana said.
“No. It’ll last five minutes and they’ll get rid of me again. I don’t want to go,” Stuart said, his voice shaking with nerves.
“Well, honey,” Diana said, and she wasn’t sure what to say after this.
“I don’t want to go back without you, Di. I missed you,” Stuart said, pulling Diana’s hand against his chest to cuddle with her fingers.
Diana looked at Stuart and began, in her secret heart, to revise her priorities.
You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the hunter is giving a demonstration.
Here is a bit of Diana:
“Okay. Well, hi,” James said, going back outside and standing on the porch. Diana followed him and shut the front door with a firm click that she hoped conveyed to the young man that he was not coming back inside if she had anything to say about it.
“What did they send you for? What’s your assignment?” Diana asked, folding her arms.
James instantly looked uncomfortable.
“Um, I can’t–” James paused in a very unnatural way, his mouth open and his eyes fluttering in the middle of a blink.
Diana looked around the yard and porch, waiting for a new message to appear, or for an alien to come down and chastise her for not playing by their rules. Nothing happened and in a moment, James restarted.
“Hi. It’s me,” James said. Diana stared at him with a curl of derision in her upper lip. Her ire was directed at the aliens, but James obviously thought she was annoyed at him. “Sorry,” James said, blinking. He seemed to have no memory of already having arrived. “Should we go in?” James asked, grinning and pointing at the house.
“No. We’ll stay out here. Hello,” Diana said, going to the front step and sitting down. Her heart was fizzling and the stress of possibly having just murdered five grown men was starting to settle into Diana’s gut.
She was mostly sure the men weren’t actually dead, but she had no way of finding out at this point. She thought the aliens must have just taken the men back when she’d pulled the trigger, but the thought that she might have really killed them had begun to nag at her.
“So, we decided before that we’d be brother and sister,” James said with a good deal of cheerfulness, joining Diana on the step and grinning at her.
Diana turned a cold eye on James, whose smile faltered.
“Is something wrong?” James asked.
Diana was tempted to tell him that she missed Stuart, which she was mildly frustrated to realize was very true.
“Brother and sister, then. Have you eaten anything? We’ll camp outside,” Diana said, getting up and going to the concentric garden the aliens had made spring up in the yard.
You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, it is almost Aaron’s turn for a hunting lesson out in the Domasus jungle.
Here’s another experimental sketch. This is the scene I just finished editing in my dragon book, which is slowly nearing completion.
I’m working out how I want to use layers with my current drawing program so I don’t end up coloring sky around gaps in the figures, which is, of course, silly.
Here is what happens next with Diana:
“What are you doing here?” Diana shouted as soon as the group of men approached her tree.
“She’s not stuck,” one of the men told the others.
“Hey, kiddo. You wanna come down and say hello?” the big guy with the handlebar mustache asked. Diana had a sick feeling in her gut about all the men, but this largest man made her insides curl with anger.
“I don’t like these companions, guys!” Diana shouted towards the roof of the ice bubble. The men below her laughed, and the big man came to the trunk and started to climb. “I will kick your teeth out, mister,” Diana snarled, poising her foot.
The large man hesitated, a broad grin spreading over his face.
“Oh, really?” he asked. Two of the others went around to the other side of the tree and started to hoist themselves up.
“Get out of my tree!” Diana howled, scrambling to the higher branches and glaring around at the men she could still see.
“Well, we’re to make friends with you, girlie, and we can’t do that while you’re up in a tree,” Handlebar Mustache guy called, climbing up to the first low branch.
“This is my tree, and my domicile, and you have to go live in the backyard with the spare furniture!” Diana shouted, climbing up to the slenderest branches and clinging to them. She was very sure the men wouldn’t be able to get up this far, though she was quite aware they would be able to break or bend her branches to reach her.
“You are our ticket out of here, little miss, and you’re coming down out of the tree,” one of the men in the lower branches said, lifting himself higher with caution. Diana glared around at the house; it was too far to jump to the roof, and even if she made it there would be nowhere to run.
Diana had never been more afraid in her life. There was something rough, ugly, and brash in the men’s voices, and she didn’t like to think of what the aliens might have told them to do to her.
As the three men in the tree climbed, Diana felt a lump appear under her elbow. She gasped and moved back a little. A small white piece of plastic that was unmistakably a gun was tied with a piece of yellow yarn to the tree branches. Diana spotted a paper note attached to the yarn and she snatched it up, her heart pounding.
You’re reading Victor Poole, and I need to find a new gym. Also, in my current novel, the hunter and his dad are digging through bird poop for precious stones.