That were the story I told my pocket twister. It weren’t the most heartening, but I think confiding in him gave him some strength. He shook off most of that water and started looking more like his old self and less like a cloud constipated with rain.
Now you know whose soul I were collecting all them names for. I knew Pa weren’t at peace. He were still kept from Heaven and Hell in the ropes of Knot-eye, and the only way to get him back or get him to my mother were to obey the will of the Laudgod and eventually be rewarded. I had to be the man he told me to be, to conquer and dominate the West so thoroughly that nothing could stop me. Continue reading
The Tangent of Sara’s Sewing Spiders
I told you about my mother’s dress shop. I didn’t tell you it were driven out of business by the peculiarest of competitors. My mother, bless her glorious soul in Heaven, were even kind enough to bring the woman who owned the venture a pie as a welcoming gift. Sure it were blackberry pie, not her finest pie by miles, but you can’t expect saintly behavior from a shrewd businesswoman such as her. Continue reading
There’s a version of the wild west where the land in the westward direction just never stopped stretching, where magic seeped out of the canyons and rode the whirlwinds. That’s where Lionel Worthett lives, and it’s where he would’ve died if the almighty Laudgod had just let him.
Instead he was given a task and a document called the Manifest of the West. All he has to do is get the most powerful miscreants, villains, and varmints to sign their names so they can be turned into legends that won’t get any more astonishing, and then he can have his reward, one soul returned from the hereafter, back to the infinite west.
Manifest of the West
There I were, standing before the open mouth of the grand devil’s kingdom… one of its mouths anyway. A hot breath full of ashes descended on me. It were the first one I’d ever set my own eyes on and it weren’t what I expected. The mouth part of the name were supposed to be figurative. It were a disgusting word representing a gate so people would think even less of it than they already did. Except it weren’t so figurative. Continue reading
A House-boat on the Styx
A protest raged outside the home of Bill Smithers. A hundred boots stomped up and down on the sidewalk in rhythm. Bottles, eggs, and fruit sailed over the hedges. The crowd would’ve preferred rotten fruit, but when there’s an apple or a pear on your page it usually came out looking ready to sit in a bowl for a portrait instead of mushy and covered in maggots. Cardboard signs waved in the air or hung around the neck by rope, their messages written sloppily in big splotchy swipes, which made it impossible to tell if they were written in haste or written with the ink from an open wound. Everyone shouted the same sorts of things on the signs. Continue reading
The Ticking Tunnel
Tick tock tick tuck tick teck tick tick tick tick tack. Every other tick sounded a little bit different. She was starting to hear variation in something mechanically identical and she knew it probably wasn’t the best sign for her sanity. Tai Chen forced her eyes open. She still couldn’t see anything. Tickticktickticktickticktickticktick. She hopped to her feet, banging her knees on a groaning pipe in the process. Something fluttered against her nose. She smacked herself in the face to stop it and came away with a note written on lined paper. Continue reading
The Ambulance Taxi
Carlo’s hospital was a small building combined with the local doctor’s office. It had only three operating rooms. People in Carlo, when they got sick, usually stayed home and let the webs take them over instead of troubling anyone for an aspirin. There was no doctor on duty that day, just the nurse. Even she was absent when Tai Chen awoke. Continue reading
There’s a place, not much of one, where all the characters too old and insignificant to copyright wind up. It’s a town fading into obscurvy, the disease of irrelevance, but Wai Tai Chen is still making a go of it.
She’s a tenner, meaning her name showed up in her original work ten times or less. The reference page over her heart, all she got from her author, barely has any usable words. She mostly winds up smacking people with fish.
Still, she tries her best and minds her own business, but all that changes when the copyright company comes to town, offering jobs that seem too good to be true. All of the nobodies from the classics are falling for it, but not Tai Chen. She begrudgingly investigates, finding questionable contracts, a few old flames, and murder.
The Public Domain
The sail-barrow bucked forward on the last concrete step, sending Tai Chen and her cargo spilling onto the sidewalk. She hissed and swore, not at her ripped pants and skinned knees dripping black ink, but at the sight of the dented boxes and broken glass she was trying to deliver. She grabbed her fisherman’s cap off the ground and tucked her short hair back under it. Continue reading