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20 September 2009 @ 09:46 am
NZ Spec Fic Blogging Week Opens New Horizons  

Today is the last day of NZ Spec Fic Blogging Week - a week which has given me a lot of interesting reading material and pointed me in the direction of some great writing fun.  Having now found and joined www.kiwiwriters.org I decided to jump into the September Zing Thing Challenge.  The challenge is to write and edit a short story this weekend using a set of ingredients.  I wrote my story yesterday, edited it this morning.  I plan to make a few changes before trying to find somewhere to send it.  Here's the current version:

 

In the beginning it had all been simple. Johan’s life had been crumbling into despair and ruin and he’d been on the verge of suicide. He was at Rock Bottom, no hope in sight. His bloodstream was saturated with The Fix. It had seeped into his muscles, a need that would consume him, and no matter how much he took he would never feel high again. He’d lost everything to the drug and every second he was without it was agony. It was time to die.

Then he met Solomon.

Solomon who dragged him back into the light. Solomon who descended in a blaze of fire and swept away the pain and terror of withdrawal. Solomon who asked so little and gave so much.

Life was complicated now because Johan had a future again.

He straightened the collar of his robe, checked that the incense in the censer was burning well, and looked at Solomon in the mirror. The warm brown surface of his chitinous back was rising and falling slowly as he nuzzled into the side of Johan’s face, tiny threads of deep red trickling through it as Johan’s blood cycled through Solomon’s body. Solomon’s legs gripped Johan’s face softly, one across the bridge of his nose, one resting across Johan’s left eyebrow and gripping the skin of his forehead, and one stretching along the line of Johan’s cheek and curling under his jaw. He could feel Solomon’s other legs entwined in his hair and Johan smiled at the intimacy of it. Solomon’s shape was a familiar one, but his similarity to an Earth tic was not complete, for he had a long tail that coiled around Johan’s neck, and he had a retractable ovipositor which dispensed what Johan had come to think of as holy beads.

In the main room of the compound the fellowship was gathered, ready to receive the sacrament. There were a few members absent, manning the gun towers and casting pitying looks down on the assembled Federal Agents and media outside the compound walls. The siege had been going on for weeks already and though there weren’t as many cameras now as there had been in the beginning the big networks were willing to keep people on the ground in case The Church of the Divine Visitors turned into another Waco.

Johan stepped onto the stage and raised his hands to silence the congregation. The steady whupping of distant helicopter blades provided a backdrop to his words.

“Brothers, sisters, the world outside does not understand us, cannot understand us. They have not tasted the blessing that has come. But we know, we know how good and right it is. Do not be afraid. Solomon has led us this far – he will not let us down.” He stroked the carapace of the creature on his face and it vibrated gently. It whispered to him, encouraged him. With its voice in his head Johan was free from doubt and worry.

“Come and receive the sacrament, my friends!

The congregation pressed forward as Solomon began to vibrate more quickly. Johan could feel the kitten-sized creature humming with excitement as it fed off the energy and excitement of the room. He began to feel light-headed too, and reached out one hand to grip the home-made pulpit. Solomon shuddered slightly and began to excrete a string of tiny pearls which slid along his tail and around Johan’s neck, a warm inviting necklace. Members of the congregation reached out carefully to pluck them from Johan’s neck and swallow them delicately, one apiece. One was always enough.

A kind-faced woman in her mid forties reached down and plucked a pearl, placed it delicately on Johan’s tongue. Her children and husband had died in a car crash two months earlier and she had been distraught when he found her but now she was able to smile again. He smiled back at her, his head swimming with love and contentment, and swallowed the pearl.

He could feel the minds of the congregation, feel them nuzzling his own just as Solomon embraced his face. The warmth of the hive was moving, was a deep and wonderful thing that was far greater than any narcotic. They moved as one, they laughed as one as the pearls united them. They worked as one.

Down through the trap door, along the tunnel into the hothouse. Glass roof and walls yet steamed up and opaque. Tropical plants seasoning the air and other plants too, giant twisting shapes that had no place existing on earth. In amongst the leaves, hundreds of pods. Seed pods with tiny shapes inside, overgrown insects with broad backs and long tails, wriggling into consciousness. As Johan and the others approached the hothouse vibrated with consciousness, with interconnected love.

"Hey babe,” the kind-face woman said softly to one of the pods.  She stroked its mottled surface. “Let me bless you with my holy waters.”

She reached over to a bench and took a sharp-bladed craft knife, rolled up her sleeve. “If you know what I mean,” she added with a smile, and Johan knew that she was laughing at the words, the fiddly messy human words that were getting in the way of her thoughts.

Later, when the congregation had bandaged each other up and were back in the mess hall, Johan addressed them again.

“Solomon is pleased. His children will soon be born and can spread through this world, taking his message of peace and tranquillity with them. But he needs our help.”

His followers were tired. He could see that the sacrament had taken a lot out of them. But the ships were not ready, not complete. The parts were all there, the engines assembled and the housings in place, but they were not fully operational. With the outside world so distrustful of Solomon just because he looked a little different to the prophets that had come before, how long would it be until they stormed the place?

“When we have eaten we must go to the workshop. We must finish. Tonight.”

The sacrament had almost worn off but he could still feel the emotions of his flock. Despite their exhaustion the image that had been burning in all their minds, the image of the hothouse exploding like a dandelion ball into hundreds of seeds, each hoping to find fertile soil in which to grow another church, drove them on. Love for Solomon and his vision had pushed them all beyond any limits they had known for weeks now. He was the best thing that had happened to any of them, and Johan felt it not only with his own heart but with the hearts of dozens of others, too.

At midnight the Federal Agents cut the power.

The backup generator kicked in.

At one a pair of Special Operations officers placed explosives on the generator. At five past one they detonated them.

At ten past one the guards on the main watchtower opened fire on intruding agents, killing a father of three.

At two a light armoured vehicle deployed a flame thrower onto the rear fence, accidentally setting the schoolhouse on fire.

At five past two the entire congregation gathered in the hothouse. Even the guards were called down from the towers, firing into the blackness of the night as they went to keep the Federal Agents at bay. Johan gathered them all in the hothouse and thanked each of them in turn. He clambered up onto a bench, his feet scratched and torn by shears and barbs and a bloodied craft knife. Solomon didn’t let him feel it.

“My friends, the time has come! To your ships!”

Johan gripped the rungs of the ladder which ran up the inside of the hothouse wall, climbed steadily to the reinforced lookout on the roof. He’d ordered it to be built to withstand any assault and he smiled as saw how good a job his followers had done. They truly loved him.

He reached over to a junction box, flipped the lid open. Inside was an orderly tangle of wires and switches. He’d never looked at it before but he knew exactly which switch to flip. His instructions had been followed to the letter.

“Good luck, my children,” he whispered, and he flicked the switch.

The glass roof of the hothouse shattered into a million bright shards as the charges blew. The tiny explosions of the blasting caps shone out like stars in the darkness, like the stars that Solomon had watched burn themselves into oblivion. Solomon, the last of a dying race that had found on this ball of mud a tiny, flickering hope for a future. Solomon, whose arc had crash landed in an alley next to a suicidal drug addict who had gone on to build him a church. Solomon, who had taken a human male name to help the sadly limited creature who was providing his nourishment to understand the thoughts of something ancient. Solomon, whose children would change the world.

In the wreckage of the hothouse below a hundred lights shot out, screaming into the night. Ships, each carrying a child and washed with the blood of a follower shot into the air and disappeared into the night, their propulsion systems humming and their newly awoken pilots eager to find hosts.

Solomon was happy. After eons of searching his race had finally found a new home. Johan was almost spent now, but it didn’t matter. An agent would come. Solomon would endure. As the armoured vehicle crashed into the mess hall and the gas ovens exploded, and the random burst of gunfire sounded in the night, he watched the last ship until it was out of sight.


There are 16 writers signed up to the challenge (Debbie is one of them and has completed it) so I will link to further stories as/when they're posted up.

 

 
 
 
Matt Cowensmattcowens on September 21st, 2009 12:58 am (UTC)
Two more stories are up on the kiwiwriters.org forums:

http://www.kiwiwriters.org/my/forum/zing-thing-2009/