Can’t. Write. Panic. Attack. Plus a Research Question.

Not quite an attack, but almost.

It’s scary – feeling like I can’t write. I think it may be the kind of fear that wakes me up from nightmares. It’s a taunting fear, too – it’s like the music buildup in horror films, the kind that goes into a crescendo just to calm again around the next corner, then climb again suddenly when the monster jumps out of the shadows.

It’s a vacant feeling, too. Like something disappeared. My rational, logical mind knows that nothing disappeared, that it’s still there somewhere and that today, for some reason, I just couldn’t reach it.

Instead of writing, I tried researching. And I got very upset about that too, since I couldn’t find the price of paper in the seventeenth century. I’m not sure it matters, not really, especially as I found some cool stuff that might be very useful and that gave me ideas, but still – the thought that there will be something glaringly anachronistic in what I’m writing bothered me so much that I had to take a walk, reading The City & The City by China Mieville, just to take my mind off it.

So here’s the question – I don’t know how many of you write fantasy of any sort, but if you do… How much license do you give yourself? How much creative freedoms do you think you can take with a story that’s clearly based in a different world?

Tamer and Tamed

Lara let the snake coil around her neck, slithering over her shoulders and looping itself once, twice, until its head was comfortably level with her eyes. The effect was ominous, and it seemed to Barriana that Lara could see out of the snake’s eyes as well as her own. She couldn’t hope to stare the both of them down, and shook her head.

“No. Can’t do it, love. Sorry.”

Lara’s eyes flashed and the snake hissed, moving so its scales flashed in the poor lighting, showing off its poisonous green color. The Tamer stood perfectly still, lips pursed. She couldn’t believe her ears. Having brought Barriana  this far, and to hear her say this? That she couldn’t? Lara couldn’t think of a worse insult.

“Don’t you ever call me that again. You’re finished, you hear me? You’ll never be a Tamer, and what’s worse is you won’t be under my protection anymore. I’ll have my friends chase you to the end of the earth if you ever try to come near me again. You hear me? Do you hear me?!” Lara realized her voice was rising in pitch, getting out of control. She couldn’t have that. She stopped, took a breath, and stroked the snake softly on the head with one long, brown finger. “Out,” she commanded coolly.

Barriana took one last agonizing look at her, at the magnificent, iridescent and beautifully dangerous Lara. She turned deliberately, completely, and wondered if the snake would attack her. The nape of her neck prickled with Lara’s furious gaze – it almost burned with its intensity. But there were no fangs sunken in her flesh, no claws flashing out, no weight bearing her to the ground. So she walked. She took one step, then another, and another. She didn’t allow herself to look back, because she knew that if she did, she’d return to the Tamer and to the Tamer’s life. She couldn’t do that. It had gone too far.

When she got far enough down the tunnel that led out of Lara’s cavern, she started to run. Not knowing how much time she had, nor where she could flee to, she knew this much – Lara wasn’t the kind to forgive and forget. She’d ruin Barriana’s life if she could – and if not for the betrayal she could have done so at any moment out of sheer meanness or spite. That was Lara, alright. Barriana ran on, emerging into air as humid as the tunnel had been, and not much cooler. She took a moment to steady her breath, and then used one of the talents she’d learned from Lara – climbing up a tree, she began to swing from branch to branch, jumping and landing as lightly as she could where she couldn’t get a good grip with her hands. It would take her hours to traverse the humid jungle Lara called home, but every inch away was a bit of her soul that she got to keep to herself.

Barriana fled, using every bit of willpower and strength to keep going. But secretly, a nasty little part of brain wanted to get caught.

Flight From Hell

I am now officially back in the Holy Land, and hopefully in the next few days I will be resuming my normal updating pattern. I will also update those interested parties in which school I will end up going to in the fall and also I hope to go over my travel journal and write about the various amusing things that happened during my insane trip. Right now, though, I feel a great urge to explain just what sort of horror was vested upon my mother and I on our Delta flight home. You might actually have heard or will hear about this as a small item on the news today.

Our flight left NY late. Ok. Happens. Whatevs. I can deal.

An hour in, there is a slight commotion up front. Flight attendants are dashing up and down the aisles. Plane starts to descend and what looks like liquid is streaming out of the engines on the wings. None of the crew is telling the passengers anything besides to stay in our seats with our seat-belts fastened.

We’re finally told, after some major panic going on inside my rather too broad imagination, that we’re landing in about five minutes due to a “situation” with a passenger. A few minutes later, as an afterthought, we’re told that nothing is wrong with the plane and we can stay calm. Thanks. NOW you’re telling us.

We land. Somewhere. No one’s said what city we’re in. We all believe that a passenger is ill, has had a heart attack, a major allergic reaction, something life threatening. I stop a passing flight attendant and discover that this is not the case. It is some sort of security concern. Some sort of dangerous and destructive behavior. The flight attendant, who seems almost more panicked than the passengers, goes on to say that it is a very big deal.

Once again, fear becomes rampant – terrorist attack! Hijackers! Criminal group! Maybe there are accomplices on the plane! The FBI are involved! Rumors run rampant.

Eventually, and this is about an hour after landing, the co-pilot comes out and we get some real information: a passenger had gotten up from the back of the plane, had walked to the front and to the cockpit door and had begun banging on it, trying to guess the code to get in and punching at the number pad. He was wrestled to the ground by five passengers and was tied up and calmed down. The regulations in this sort of situation dictate that the plane make an emergency landing, which it did. The passenger was taken off in handcuffs, his luggage and handbags were removed, and the local and federal police became involved.

After another two hours or more, it is determined that the man was simply unhinged and having an anxiety attack. He is not connected to any criminal or terrorist groups. All is well, all is safe. A new flight plan is made, the plane is refueled, and we finally are able to head out once more. I must stress, though, that for a while there we were warned that we might all need to get off the plane and there was some indication that there would be an investigation. Apparently the FBI actually was involved, and thus was able to check in their databases that this disruptive passenger was acting alone as they say.

You’d think that once the whole thing was sorted out and we were able to be on our way again, all would be fine and dandy. Ah, if only. It seemed, however, that the fates were determined that my mother and I have the absolute worst travel experience of our lives to date.

During the first part of the flight, and the wait on the ground as well, there was a woman and a man behind us who had been talking non-stop. They were strangers and were having a nice airplane chat. That’s fine. What is NOT fine is that they were doing so in extremely loud voices. Once the flight had resumed, the man was exchanged for some reason with a different one, and again the woman chatted him up. She seemed determined to have as many partners in her bed that night as possible. Or something.

Basically, for the rest of the flight – ten hours and forty-five minutes, in case you were wondering – these two conversed in extremely loud, obnoxious, piercing voices, not even attempting at keeping their conversation private. Thus, I know that She has an Austrian boyfriend. I know He has problems with his girlfriends. I know which movies He and She like. I know that He and She were hitting on each other for half the duration of their in-flight-conversation. I know that She has four really good friends and I know that He wants to travel to South America. I know more about He and She than I know about half my friends. Oh yes, She was also kicking my seat for most of the flight.

So if you hear about an incident on a Delta flight, then know that I was there. And know also that the only thing preventing a second “incident” [namely, me murdering the He and She behind me] was that I really didn’t want the plane to be diverted yet again.

One-Eyed Steve: Part II

“Well, my ducks, One-Eyed Steve lived in this town long ago, when I was but a bitty boy meself. Oh, he was a fearsome fellow – long, tangled black hair over a face carved of stone. What a face it was! A wicked grin, full of yellow and crooked teeth and at least a couple of ’em were gold. The lines in his face were alike to craters and the nose on that face was like a hawk’s beak – proud, strong and threatenin’.  To finish off the pretty picture, One-Eyed Steve wore a black eye-patch over one eye, and the other was an ice-blue that would chill ye to the bone.

Now, I know what you, my ducklings, are thinkin’ – with such a frightenin’ face, gold teeth and eye-patch and all, this One-Eyed Steve musta been a pirate. That’s what me n’ the other boys thought too. All the boys in town told stories about Ones-Eyed Steve. Mikey said he heard that Steve had killed ten men and was never caught. Robbie said that he had gotten those gold teeth as a gift from wild tribes on a secret island out at sea. The girls all afeared Steve, and we boys did too, only we never admitted it willin’ly.

It just so happens, ducks, that I, your dear ol’ pa, found out the real story of One-Eyed Steve, and this is how it came about:

When I was thirteen, I worked as a dishwasher at the King’s Bard Inn – that’s what was there before they tore it down and build that Holiday Inn place. So one night, I was workin’ late ’cause Robbie was sick as a dog with the flu and couldn’t make his shift. The inn’s kitchen had closed for the night, and all that was left there was me and a big ol’ pile o’ dishes.

Suddenly, the back door of the kitchen banged open with a crack like thunder, and there, lookin’ as white as a ghost, was One-Eyed Steve. He almos’ fell into the place, he was tremblin’ that hard. I was so surprised that I jus’ stood there – hands all full of soap and my mouth hangin’ open. Steve looked around, frantic-like, and noticin’ me, he asked “Where’s the innkeeper, boy?” With one soapy, wet hand I pointed to the door into the inn proper, and One-Eyed Steve – instead of goin’ right to it – calmed right down and grinned his wicked grin at me. “Well, boy, go get him then, eh? An unrespectable man like me can’t be going into an inn now, can I? Nay, I’m fit for back doors and kitchens. Now be a good boy and get the innkeeper for me. Tell him that the eye-patch man’s here, he’ll come right quick.”

Well, my ducks? What could I do? I dried me hands, made sure there were no valubales around for the ol’ pirate to steal, and I went to find the innkeeper.”