(back to part one)
(reading time: 1 hour, 17 minutes)
Under the Hood
The Drymouth Desert was deceptively small. A person on foot would claim it an endless sea of inhospitable madness, where sand dunes atop red clay occasionally lurched forward to eat tumbletrees, which were the only available prey. It would be the last claim that person would make before their voice was baked out of them and they were heat-blasted into a strip of anxious and peeved leather.
The issue was the lack of perspective, much like Silver and Roman needing to seek higher ground in the bear trap to get the lay of the land. The dunes were too high for a person on foot to see over, so natural odds-confounding forces got them turned around, had them walking in circles until their final quarter circle. Continue reading
(back to part one)
(reading time: 1 hour, 1 minute)
Popette at the Door
Ra-da-dang-dong. Ra-da-dang-dong. It was a surprisingly cheerful doorbell, not at all like the welcome she remembered. Of course, that was more than a lifetime ago. That said, the exterior of the Billity Catholicish School for Girls hadn’t changed all that much. The giant stable nearby, nearly three times the size of the house, was a new addition, but the school itself was still that drab green and white monolith under its four cardinal direction willows.
Now as I’ve said, Poppy and Suzette were in an odd state, with the latter being largely in control, but operating within the template of the mischievous child. They couldn’t converse with each other, talk over what was a good idea and what was bad. Continue reading
(back to part one)
(reading time: 1 hour, 25 minutes)
Catalogues of Women
“Thank you all for coming out this afternoon, I know it’s hotter than the devil’s bedpan out here. Leave it to a South Reap October to turn pumpkins into prunes; that’s what my father always used to say.” There was some light laughter, less than he expected, but he chalked it up to the fatiguing heat.
There was at least some shade thanks to the garden trees behind the town hall, where Mountainblood always held its press conferences. Journalists for local rags, both clean and oily, were clustered under the crab apples, fanning themselves with hats because their cards were busy recording the event. Continue reading
Chat Libs is a ‘Mad Libs’ based activity over on our Twitch live stream. The audience suggests a scenario, I write a story template with missing words, and they fill in the holes. Hilarity ensues. If you wish to participate you can join us at twitch.tv/blainearcade
Scenario: the cowboys agree to never talk about what just happened
“So it’s agreed,” the tone deaf cowboy said, whispering so all those over by proxima centauri wouldn’t hear. It was a miracle they hadn’t noticed the blood of their enemies coating all 89 cowboys. They were all wide-eyed and in shock; none of them had ever seen a reaction like that from what was supposed to be a fully domesticated cyborg. Continue reading
(reading time: 41 minutes)
The Legend of Broadside Barnaby
Old Thresher the card shark. Remember him? I bested his challenge more than a hundred times over and it were way past due for him to give up the location of Broadside Barnaby. He were the last name left. With him collected the Manifest would be complete, everyone accounted for in myth, and I could have my pa back. My family could have the eventual peace that I worked so hard to disrupt. Continue reading
(reading time: 1 hour, 2 minutes)
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
(reading time: 50 minutes)
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.
(reading time: 52 minutes) (reading time for entire novella: 3 hours, 25 minutes)
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