They're going to show it this month. Presscon is on Monday, and could I come?
I said I'd check schedules. Truth is, I have nothing to wear. :)
Trailers are here:
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It was all black and terrible in the hole. And ick, Nurian thought. ‘Terrible” was Nurian’s vocabulary word for the week, and he still had a little trouble figuring out what it meant exactly. His sister Kolana said it meant worse than bad. Scarier than scary. Uglier than ugly. If you make it into an adverb, take away the letter E at the end and change it into a Y, it does exactly that, make things worse than they are. The pit was terribly black, Nurian thought. There. That seemed right. It still didn’t mean anything to him, but at least it seemed right.
He wasn’t scared of the dark, of course, not since daddy took him into the basement level and showed him that it was all exactly the same whether the lights were on or not. “I’ll be here, and even when I’m not, just stay put, and I’ll come to get you,“ his daddy had said, carrying him and letting him turn the lights on and off several times, until he was satisfied that the only difference between dark and light was that you just couldn’t see things.
Daddy wasn’t there, but he was pretty sure he’d be there soon. He wasn’t scared, but it was really tight and stuffy in the hole, and there was something terribly slishy-sloshy by his feet. And it smelled bad. Smelled terrible, he corrected himself, just like the bins outside the meat market.
He sat hunched into one little corner, because the other side had the slishy-sloshy gooky things on the floor, and besides, he’d gone number one and number two there earlier. He told the men he needed to go to the bathroom, but they just laughed and said to go right there, the meanies. He had tried to hold it in for as long as he could, but he finally had to, because he was a big boy and big boys don’t go in their pants.
He could hear the meanies laughing outside, making lopsided sounds, and one of them made a loud thud falling while everyone else laughed. A loud creak, and he saw little sliver of yellow, like the tip of a nail where the cover of the pit had been shaken loose by the drunken man’s fall.
“This is no fun, “ one of the men said. “Why doesn’t he cry?”
“ He’ll cry later, “ another voice said. “You’ll have your fun.“
“Maybe he’s dead, “ another one said. “What if he’s dead?”
“It doesn’t matter, “ the first voice said. “He’ll cry later. “
Someone banged on the steel cover overhead and yelled, “Hey, are you dead?”
“No, “ he answered. “Where’s my daddy?”
“He’s not coming,“ one of them said, then laughed. The others laughed too.
He felt like crying, not that he was scared, no, he knew they were lying, daddy would come, he said he would, and daddy always came to get him. But he was a little hungry and really sleepy, and it had been so long and daddy wasn’t there yet. He willed himself not to cry; his daddy would frown if he found Nurian crying when he got there, so he just stared up at the sliver of yellow, trying not to think of the slishy-sloshy gooky things by his feet, or whatever it was that went crunch when he stepped on it, or those things that felt like clammy jelly on the walls.
Staring at the yellow sliver made his eyes tired and sleepy, and he closed his eyes a little, ignoring the rumbling hungry sounds his stomach made.
A loud sound jolted him awake. Something crashed, and he could hear glass breaking overhead. He heard the sound of leathery flapping, and the yellow sliver disappeared, making everything around him black again. He could hear loud screaming, terrible screaming for what seemed to be a long, long timeand then suddenly, everything was quiet.
He heard the grating sound of the steel cover being removed, and he blinked as a leathery claw reached down, the black nails sharp and glistening as they closed around his little arm, pulling him up.
“Daddy, “ Nurian said, holding on tightly. “You took so long! Terribly long!”
"Sorry, " his daddy said. "You weren't scared, were you?"
Tsk.There it was again, that unmistakable, universal sound of disapproval, that of tongue going clack against the soft palate. It came from somewhere over my left shoulder, so it couldn't possibly have been an angel, unless it was the fallen kind. Nah. I was a nonpracticing Buddhist, and t didn't believe in those anyway.
I deleted an entire paragraph this time, then another, then a sentence, faster and faster, one after another trying to write and rewrite fast enough so there wouldn't be any time to make those velaric sounds that were getting really, really annoying.
Oh, goody, I outwrote it, I thought, then proceed to work on the next chapter.
Then it came. Not a tsk, a click or a clack, but a long drawn-out sigh, the kind that comes from more exasperation than a mere ' tsk' can express.
That was it. I lost it. "What the hell is your problem? So you don't like my work, fine! Go away and leave me alone!"
I wasn't really expecting an answer, except maybe the computer flying right through my or a dozen pencils pinning my bleeding carcass to the wall, like they do in fun Thai horror movies.
"Oh no, I like your work, " the disembodied voice said. "Except..."
"Ummm, I'm not really supposed to tell you this, but ..."
"Okay, it's like this. You only get to write ninety-three million nine hundred thousand and forty-seven words in your lifetime-- are you sure you want to waste them all on robot zombie pandas? “
If I had been younger I would have cried. Most likely deleted everything, swearing to never write again. But by now, I'd been through worse critics than this-- people who actually weren't me, so I kinda knew a bit about what to do by then. Don't cry. Don't scream. Don't bargain.
I raised an eyebrow, and answer calmly. "You got any better ideas?"
I typed one word, just to test. Nothing.
I started typing for real, going back to work, and I'm up to maybe 600 words when I heard the voice, smaller, this time. “Uh, sparkly robot pandas?”
Silly Queen was wailing again.
If she didn’t shut up, she was going to wake the baby, and it would be MY problem. I’d be annoyed, except I get paid well, and I do like taking care of the baby. Except for the part where I have to change diapers, of course. Do you have any idea how hard it is trying to change a diaper made of silk and gold thread?
People said that all the knowledge of the world--its history, its arts, and its science -- are hidden away inside a cave, behind a waterfall near the top of the seventh tallest mountain in the world. To get there you would have to battle a one-eyed captain with a cutlass, as well as all the men the captain had.
Estiv knew it was a lie, of course. Not the cave or the waterfall, but the mountain.
“What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?“ asks the wolf-face in the top hat as he grabs me and turns me around so gracefully the wine glasses on my tray don’t even tinkle.
“Serving liquor, “ I answer, as the music stops. “And I’m a boy.”
“Oops, sorry. Didn’t notice, “ he says, winking, “ The tail and the beads got me confused.”
A golden-gowned swan hits him on the head with her fan. “Stop annoying the help, “ she says, thwacking him on his hat. “Go dance with the banker’s daughter, she’s the vampire with the ill—fitting nightgown of flimsiness at the corner.”
He nods, bows, and blows me a kiss as he runs off. The Swan turns to me, and says, “Sorry about that, Lobito is always annoying when he’s had too much to drink. Peninsulares are such a pain,” she sighs, “but they’re the ones with money, and after having money for a couple of hundred years or so, they’re considered de buena familia, and so must be invited. “
I smile and don’t say anything. It’s not my place.
“I don’t recognize you, though, “ she says, and now it hits me. She’s the organizer and hostess, the Hermana Mayor, the eldest daughter of an old family from the outskirts of Madrid, last haciendera scion of the sugarcane plantations on the island.
“Grandmother could not make it, señora, “ I answer quietly. “She’s getting on in years, and her joints now ache when it rains.”
“Ah,“ she smiles and I look, amazed at how beautifully golden she was. “ I know you now! Ruben! You're all grown! Didn’t we send you to the city to study engineering?”
“Yes, señora, thank you very much.”
“The one that graduated summa cum laude?”
“Yes, señora. I’m working at the local office of the Department of Public Works now.”
“How wonderful! I must introduce you to the governor!” she turns around, grabs my waist and hustles me off towards a grim-looking gargoyle, talking with an equally grim-looking camel (dromedary?) who was smoking a brown cigarillo and flicking the ash in a brass saucer held up by a four-foot tall (on his hind legs) cat.
I finally recognized the cat as the parish priest, the cura paroco. I almost didn't recognize him with the marmalade-marked fur covering his tonsured pate. But he gave me a beating once, when I was small, and I never forgot those knuckles. Oh well, I'm bigger than him now.
“We must do something about the indios and their uprisings, “ the gargoyle was telling the dromedary (camel?) as the cat yawned boredly. “The indios are getting uppity.”
My swan-sponsor thwacks his head with her trusty fan. “Get with the program, Carlitos! There hasn't been an indio uprising since 1898. Besides, it’s their island now! We sold them to the Americans a hundred years ago, don’t you remember? “
The camel nods and harrumphs, “And those idiots set them free. “
“Hush, we have an indio in our midst, “ my swan-sponsor said, “This is Ruben, the son…son...?”
“Grandson, señora,” I mumble.
“Grandson of Corazon, my upstairs maid. He’s working in government now. “
“Can’t be an indio, if he’s Corazon’s grandson, “ the cat purrs. El cura obviously didn't recognize me. “ She came with my family on a ship from the Motherland, remember?”
This triggers another discussion of the good old days, when the indios and chinos knew their place, and the Church was still Head of State, and no one cared if a priest had sons and daughters and no one gave a whit if indios disappeared in the tall grass only to be found later with their hearts and livers missing.
I slip away, it wasn’t my place to be there, listening to their bitter, mean conversations.
I used to hate them when I was little, but I realize now how pitiful they were, these insulare snobs. Their days of money and power were long gone, replaced by the bumbays, chinos and indios they detested.
Let them have this night, it happens just once every hundred years anyway, and only when the moon and planets are just right.
Tomorrow they will have to put their masks on again, hobble along with their canes or be pushed in their wheelchairs like the pitiful old people I see in mass at the Iglesia Catedral every morning. And sooner or later, die the lonely deaths of homesickness and heartsickness on this godforsaken island where La Madre España exiled them.
I make my way to where my place was, behind the curtains, near the kitchen, and peek out once in a while, amazed at the sight of wolves dancing with vampires, and horse-headed men dancing with ebony-haired pale women with only skeletons for backs, whirling and twirling gold, silver, purple and maroon.
The Philippines was a Spanish colony from 1521-1898. Spanish words are in the Philippine colonial context: insulare is a Spaniard born in Spain, while a peninsulare is a Spaniard born in the peninsula (the Philippines here), and thus considered 'noveau', an indio is a native Filipino often of Malay or Indonesian descent.
bumbay, chino (or intsik) and indio are derogatory terms for Indians, Chinese people and Filipinos
For inkstains , the sin challenge entry thingy
*less than 500 words, unless you believe in how many words a picture is worth. lalalala.
**I was tempted to recycle the angsty Lucifer Falls story again, but I thought I'd recycle Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf postcards instead
***and I'm probly doing this all wrong
Susan tried to reach nirvana from Topeka.
And when she died, like people do, they put her on trial. But first, they had to determine if what she did was, like they contended, sin indeed.
“ Jesus is the only way to heaven. Yoga? Bah! Pagan new age witchery! “ the people from Sunday school said, sputtering. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live!” This last one made her frown, since she was dead anyway.
Next, they brought in her children. “ She neglected us because of the yoga,“ the children spat, “She forgot to feed us. And the few times she didn’t, it was all birdseed, sprouts and tofu. Evil, evil woman.”
They brought in her husband next, and she wondered whether he remembered the vows they took, to be on each other’s side, no matter that the world would turn against them, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health. “She loved her yogi more than me, “he muttered. “That’s adultery, innit?”
They brought in person after person to testify. Some said it was a mortal sin, some said it was venial, but the majority made no such distinction. Sin is sin, the Protestants said, and while she used to be one of them, she knew better than to protest.
“Idolatry,” said the priest.
“Pride, “ said his altar boy.
“Murder, “ said the little child who looked at the skinny children thinking she would rather die than eat soy milk.
“Covetousness, “ said the nonpracticing Hindus and Buddhists. “How dare she appropriate a culture not her own?“
(Of course, the advocate objected to this as immaterial and irrelevant on the grounds that they had no place using the Christian commandments when they weren’t Christian. The objection was overruled-- the prosecutor was wily and quoted some similar version off their tenets.)
“Thou shalt not lie!” the butcher boomed when it was his turn. “ Passing off tofu and shiitake as steaks! Liar!” She found this funny and giggled, just as her advocate was objecting yet again, saying that her vegetarianism wasn’t what the trial was about. Again, the objection was overruled.
When it was time for the closing arguments, the prosecutor argued passionately for her to be sent to hell, while the defender argued that it was all a case of insanity. But insanity pleas rarely work, and when the verdict came down, no one was surprised.
Guilty, the little piece of paper said.
The judge sentenced her to two lifetimes with her previous life counted as time served, and no one complained. The second lifetime would be on probation.
The judge himself led her out of the courtroom for processing, saying ,“Don’t ever let me see you in my courtroom again. You can do better this time.”
She looked at the judge, wondering what he meant. He smiled and said, “Susan. You’re not in Kansas anymore. “