I finished a first draft of a new story, tentatively entitled The Crow’s Murder, today. It clocked in at 8300 words, which is technically a novelette, but I’ll probably trim enough to bring it down to official short story length, 7,500. I’m pleased with it, but there’s an angle that may let to WTFery on my writing group’s part when I run it past them. One thing I’ve done over the course of the past few days is track the progress of the story by taking pictures of early notes and saving snapshots of it from day to day. I’ll be using that in the Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction class and then looking at the story again when we get to the section on rewriting and revising.
So here it is. I hope it tantalizes you to read the rest!
I wheel the Colonel out into the day. He can walk, but prefers the dignity and slowness of the chair, in spite of its awkwardness, to having to struggle for every step. Dr. Larch will not let him have his artificial leg except when there are visitors. Otherwise it stays in the cabinet in the supplies room, along with all the rest, locked up so the patients can’t break or wear them down.
It’s just as well. Two days ago, when he surrendered it to me after a visit from his niece, the Col. said, “I knew every man of the three who owned this before me.” He slapped the brass surface. “And some fella will get it after me. Maybe someone I know, maybe someone I don’t. Do you think that ghosts linger around the objects they leave behind, the ones that accompanied them day by day? Because if so, I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t three ghosts riding this one.”
I didn’t answer and he didn’t expect me to. He knows my vocal cords were seared away in the same war that’s stole his leg, the same war that’s furnished most of the inhabitants of this asylum. Broken soldiers, minds and bodies ground-up by its terrible machines.
It used to be an injury was enough to get you out. Now if they can, they turn you into a clank, half human, half machine, and send you back to the lines. Nowadays we receive only the men who cannot be repaired, and here they sit or lie in their beds, waiting to die a slower death than the war would have given them, waited on by orderlies like me, other broken men who can function enough to pretend to work.
If you want to read the rest of the story, you can get it, along with at least six other stories, at the end of July by signing up to sponsor me in the Clarion West Write-a-thon. Even a small donation entitles you to the stories, so please do sign up!