Grit: Vacuum 3

Marsh had a bit of a better poker game than Samson but he still came up woefully short – grit knew lots of people who would chew him up and spit him out in ten seconds. If these were the kind of monkeys who were making it into important positions these days then he had to wonder what the hell the rest of the crews were made up of.

Marsh had a suitcase of money that he flipped open and it looked full enough to satisfy Grit; looked full enough to fund a few different things which grit had been looking to do with his spare time.

Marsh didn’t speak much – none of his men did either. Grit could tell that they knew their words weren’t their strong point so they kept them to a minimum – no point advertising your weaknesses. Some people had to talk up a good fight before they ever landed a blow on their opponent, and some people just went for the knockdown in the first ten seconds. It was the difference, he supposed, between a street fighter and one of those pretty boys who stood in a ring fighting for a big glittery belt. Sure, Grit probably identified with Marsh more – didn’t mean he wouldn’t kill him, but it was reassuring to meet someone who he at least could stomach.

The transaction was smooth – the death would be smooth too. Grit was kind of suprised about how easy it was to play this game but he was damned well enjoying it.

So, he had two of the so-called big wigs lined up – time to draw in some of the next level players and get them suckered into the scheme as well. Just the promise of a leg up at the hands of someone like Grit would have them chomping at the bit. Grit allowed himself an uncharacteristic smile – he would enjoy delivering the punchline to this elaborate joke.

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word gains 4

The reader is fictionalised; an unreliable narrator is built into the narrative; another layer is added to the obfuscation. One might see it as a mutual interpenetration of that which is exterior to the text and that which is interior to it. But there is a distinction to be drawn between actual audience participation and imagined audience participation, although for future purposes either can be seen to function as a driving force where the shape of the narrative is concerned. If no one intervenes and actually interjects with what they perceive the texts to be about will they become an increasingly baroque extended metaphor that grew out of what was initially an exploration of the process of writing, rather than a piece of writing essaying the very essence of what a piece of fiction is in an interactive environment where the writer may be influenced by such things as ‘number of his’ and variously nested comments? Who knows? The author behind the author, who is the author behind the audience? Maybe – it is definitely a variable.
The text conceivably will reach a collapsing point. It is a black hole crushing all light and time within it, for it shall become an extemporaneous example of a spontaneous reaction to both an actual contemporary commentary and a secondary branching from the original narrative intent which runs concurrently alongside. It baffles its readers, baffles itself, becomes so labyrinthine in its plotting that its ultimate pointlessness dooms it to a possible judgment of irrelevancy at any point from the writing of the piece, to the reading of the piece, to the comments upon the piece, and the construction of the subsequent piece, whether said piece be reliant on actual and existing input or not.
How far has the piece strayed from the original intent? It is hard to gauge. For the original intent of the first piece has changed because of the interaction of its observers; has changed in light of the writing of the second instalment; has been re-drafted by the implications of the third piece; and re-shapes itself in the irregular mould of the fourth piece.
What form will the eventual piece of writing take? Will it make sense? Will it cook like souffle for so long in promised perfection only to collapse in the middle? He suspects not, for each element of the larger piece is somewhat self-contained and therefore non-reliant upon earlier instalments, though each instalment talks about the previous parts and intuits the mayhap of future parts. In theory you might put out a part called “word gains 56” and no others and it would intimate things about the rest of an untold story with no need for that actual story to be manifest anywhere other than in the implication that the piece was preceded by 55 other parts. or you might put out part 57 with no intervening parts between that and part 4 and people might start a hunt for the missing segments in their supposedly unfinished story.
part 4, which is this part obviously (though being labelled that doesn’t necessarily mean it is so, though it was indeed written fourth in the series) might suggest to you that there were preceding parts which existed in history which now no longer exist because they were burnt, and part of you would not know whether this was true or not. you might search for the lost chapters and, if those lost chapters turned up later, labelled as such, you would not be surprised. but what if you never knew that were a lie and continued searching, what would you consider the text to have done to you? what would you wish to do to the text?
if i say there are 56 pieces of the story waiting in the future. that there are twenty pieces which were unwritten thoughts intended for this story which are lost to the past. what does this do to you? to the story? what will your reaction do to the story? were you to demand it be so rather than waiting to see where the author leads you, would you uncreate something which, until that moment, because it was an idea cherished, held a high chance of being made?
you scratch you head. the piece does not comment. yet it does. it offers and provokes comment. it waits and does not wait. it is an object infused with a subject trying to be objective about an objective in a subjective way that hopes to trap the readers attention long enough to bleed fuel from them so more attacks may be made upon them and allowed from them.

word gains 3

Reading the second piece he wonders at the wisdom of writing it; wonders at the whole exercise. Then he thinks if I move this to the third person will the exercise begin to take on more reality as a fiction? Strange notion, to be dealing with the truth of an untruth. But the whole point is to build into the forced artificial structure that a piece of fiction colliding with a misperception of it as real has produced. Is it that he has enflamed some existential condition that was heretofore unknown in him? Maybe.
Games. Word games. Could he pull comments into the mix? Make the real people who he reaches to from within the fiction part of him; xerox real world beings and hang them up in the church of his altered textual flesh. But then, would they assume that this is what had occurred, or would they merely see themselves misrepresented instead of fictionalised?
The compartmentalised consciousness of the metafictional author as funhouse mirror version of actual author smiles like the flexing of a reflection on the backside of a spoon which is bending. Except this is the actual author representing his own self exterior to the meat of the story. With the story there is an inside and an outside – at least for the writer, who places himself both interior and exterior to the experience.
The reader, as he reads, shifts from being external to internal as the narrative goes from being purely physical on a screen, to something he is thinking about, a thought he is having. The nature of the experiment changes the more people choose to interact or to not interact. Nothing exists in isolation, even a piece of fiction is not hermetically sealed.
He wants it to leak, to be confusing. And perhaps he will allow some confusion to leak into the narrative, the narrator, the reader – whatever it is that he is in the process of regarding.

Played Your Eyes 5: Lobby

Banks sat there in the lobby of the Hilton hotel, slouched in his chair, looking like a drunk that had stumbled in and taken up residence there instead of some doorway purely by chance. Asa had worked hard to try and get him to smarten himself up, but he was actively resistant towards any imposition of order.
Asa was trying to smooth over relations with the ARMY representative who was understandably not impressed. The guy had expressed an interest in walking up to Banks and shooting him in the head and it had taken a lot to talk him down.
‘What is this shit, Ms. Blumen? Granted, at the moment we need a representative of the established press to get our message out there and calm down the country, but looking at him, i have to ask, are we really that desperate? What the fuck is he supposed to be?’
‘He’s a world class reporter – he is used to reporting on war zones. He has lots of experience.’
‘Pull the other one – it has bells on it. He’s washed up – anyone can see it. Can he even string a sentence together?’
‘Oh, yes, he’s quite verbally dexterous.’
‘Christ, do I have a choice?’
‘I’m sure Mr Hent will find him admirably suited to the task.’
‘Ms. Blumen, no offence, but given how strongly you’re defending someone who looks like they have  a whole raft of problems that makes it a miracle they are still here, one has to wonder if you’re just being paid really well, or if maybe you’re on something even better than he is.’
‘Blumen! – Blumen! Can you come over here for a second? I am being hassled by some grubby little oik who claims to be working for this establishment. All I did was ask the stupid fucker for a drink and he starts trying to push me out the door. Blumen – sort this out or I’ll have your job!’
‘Ms. Blumen, I wonder, do you understand how delicate matters are at the moment? Do you believe that our efforts to stabilise the country are going to be helped any by having this drunken buffoon interviewing a representative of our cause? It shows that we are willing to accept your establishment’s insults and that we do not take ourselves seriously, and nothing could be further from the truth. If you were confronted by a situation such as this, what would you do?’
‘Mr Shirk, I can assure you, no matter how bad he looks, when you put him in front of a camera he will perform perfectly. He was apparently always like this before a show and no one ever suspected who saw him on TV.’
‘Apparently? Meaning you’ve not exactly seen this miraculous change occur? Tell, me Ms. Blumen, as a journalist, how reliable is hearsay? Are you really willing to gamble your future on this man?’
‘I don’t have a choice.’
‘Maybe. But we do.’
‘Do you? Aren’t we really in the same boat? Look, if Mr Hent does the interview and it goes wrong and he wants to shoot Banks through the head then who is really going to complain? I’ll be ruined and won’t have anything to lose. The interview can be effectively buried – no one loses.’
‘Hmm, a strangely persuasive argument, even if aall this jumping through hoops is not something I would ever haave wanted to be doing.’
‘One does what one must.’
‘Yes, of course. And I think you need to go and deal with your charge.’
‘Yeah, maybe you’re right.’

Played Your Eyes 3: Headshot

He wasn’t a spokesperson, he was a tactician – he was somewhat good with words so they hoped that he would be able to convey what it was that ARMY stood for and what this last action they had carried out meant for them and the rest of the country. The government was in disarray and what remained of the cabinet had been unable to offer anything to assuage the fears of the country. That was not unexpected though, given that it wasn’t their country anymore.
The King and all his heirs were either dead with a bullet in their skull or on the run somewhere. They had taken all of the major settlements across the country – there were still small pockets of resistance scattered in certain places but how long would it take them to mop those up?
His group was composed of one particular section of the community but he had to speak to the whole community – had to let them know that ARMY was here to free everyone; that it realised everyone was held in chains. PEACE was the next phase – Project England: All Communities Embraced. That was the important thing that he wanted to talk about – the war was yesterday and it was tomorrow that they were interested in.
He was worried, because they believed that the media was not sympathetic to them – that it supported the deposed government and believed that the remaining royals with a rightful claim to the throne would rise up and claim back rulership. They had to be convinced that this was not a conceivable option for anyone anymore – that England had moved beyond such considerations. He had to convince them that he and the others who represented ARMY were not just some bunch of thugs who had driven away the bigger kids so they could just play with their toys. ARMY had to seem more than just a fighting force; ARMY had to transform before their eyes into its adult form: PEACE.
They’d been working on this a long time behind the scenes – everyone in the army knew of the intention; knew that this was what they had been planning – knew that it was their final goal. What use would it have been if they had fought to get all this way and then the troops had felt like they had been cheated by what kind of system was put in place to replace the old one?
Peter Hent was one of the first to step up and say – they all know what we’re against, but what are we for? And it had been a question that not one of them had been prepared to answer: no one had thought beyond the possibility of ousting the oppressors. Before the war he had been studying politics via the internet, trying to get a degree – here he was getting a chance to bring what he had learned to bear on the future of the country … it was terrifying and it was exciting.
Who would they send? What journalist would get the scoop? He kind of wished that there had been more options as far as media groups but that was part of the set up of the country they would soon change.

Dogleg Hinterland 3

Shaking her head free of bad dreams, clutching her empty stomach, she made her way towards her appointment, trying to compose herself as she walked along. The thoughts birthed in the nightmare troubled her like a fishbone stuck in her throat; she attenuated her breathing and repeated a little mantra that was supposed to cage this kind of bad ju-ju. She had to be on top form – it was well known that you couldn’t trust Regrew even if he was your best friend, so casual acquaintances really had to watch themselves.

The walk seemed to take forever, the road doubling back on itself in several places. There were no short-cuts – getting off the fixed direction the road wished you to go in was dangerous – you might snag yourself on some spell-bone left jutting to capture careless burglars. You might break a hold-web and find yourself dropping from the roof paralysed and destined to break apart on the hard ground below. The Inn Spires of this settlement occupied concentric circles which were divided by a complex system of heredity, influence, race, and luck – part of her upbringing in the trade had involved extensive study of the customs which governed the delicate machinery of the society they, as merchants, had to interact with.

Lizardkind tended to occupy the third circle and were said to have a hard time progressing beyond that – the fact that Bartolph Regrew had moved into the second circle and looked likely to move up into the first circle very soon spoke volumes. If she played this right she would be able to eat well for a long time, and if she managed to convince that the merchandise she wanted to sell him was somehow tied into the desired ascent she might be able to ride his coattails to even greater heights.

It was noon when she reached Regrew’s abode, and it was not easy persuading the guard on the door to let her in. They tried to trick you into promising something of yourself in return for entrance, and there was nothing with which she wished to part at any cost, apart from of course the dreamstuff.

Regrew was Geckoskin; not one of the common Lizardkind, and that perhaps explained his rapid rise in a place where being exotic was a definite boon. She looked into his large eyes and muttered an anti-glamour under her breath; he was quite beautiful and she knew immediately that this made him doubly dangerous.

‘So, little girl, where is your mother?’

‘What? I don’t know what you mean.’

‘Hmm, you’ll have to do better than that. Your mother child – what has happened to her. I heard about your father, so that needs no explanation. Please, it must be obvious to you that I can see through the illusion you have tried to weave about yourself. I have farsight; it is one of the gifts that allows me to be a better salesman in this place. Just tell me the truth and we can get it out of the way – try to lie and we might have a problem. I’ll know.’

‘She joined the Whispergate Sentinels.’

‘And you haven’t seen her in a while?’

‘No; I haven’t.’

‘Okay, now that wasn’t so hard, was it? Now the plan is, or at least my plan is – that you eat and then you rest and then we do business tomorrow. I know you were worried that I wouldn’t deal with you because you are so young but, Madrigal, there are very few of your kind left anymore, and I need the services of someone such as you; so, you see, I never really had a choice.’

Else City – Part 3: Suited Not Suited

O’Halligan was told to suit up — to FESS up as they termed it; First Encounter Suit Situation. He hated to think what in the hell it was that they were going out there to look for — he didn’t want to go, but like everything that had happened to him from his death onwards he didn’t have much choice. They had struck it lucky — Langston Through had only had one appointment on the day of his death and the property had been standing empty for a fair while — long enough that something might have been able to lay eggs there and for them to have come full term.

Forbes was all gung-ho about the whole thing; really stoked to have something that she might be able to work her frustrations out on. The way she told it — if they couldn’t immediately recognise the species of whatever it was that had killed the victim and couldn’t establish sentience pretty quickly thereafter then they got to basically pump it full of bullets and do the research later. This kind of shit happened all the time — beings from other levels escaping and making their way here for a snack; sometimes it turned out that it had been sanctioned and these creatures had immunity from prosecution. She was looking forward to finding out what the case was with this one.

The suit was uncomfortable: it was unwieldy and it was hot inside there; claustrophobic. He did not like this situation in the least. They both had their weapons drawn. The back-up team — three examples of varying incapability had just EMP burst the house to shut down any systems that might be operational in there and to open the locks. He got to go in first — a privilege, he supposed, afforded to newbies who were obviously more expendable than an experienced officer, of which there were few.

They stepped inside the house and their visors immediately steamed up, the humidity was off the charts in there and it seemed like some kind of new ecosystem had been established. The EMP had apparently been unnecessary — nothing had been working in here for a while. It made him wonder when was the last time Through had checked out this place. He thought he saw something edge by in his peripheral vision but he couldn’t be sure. He stepped on something, it gave under his foot and burst like a boil, hot gobbets of pus shooting up his leg. He took a step backwards and tried not to vomit inside his suit. The suit’s monitors began to beep — whatever it was that had coated him was eating through the suit.

‘You need to get out of here, ASAP,’ said Forbes ‘We both do. This is going to need the big guns. Look over there,’ she said, pointing.

In the corner, thrown in a pile that nearly reached the ceiling, were human ribcages stripped of meat and to the side of them were the shattered remnants of spinal columns, broken skulls, other smaller bones. He turned and moved quickly towards the door, surprised that nothing had suddenly leapt out at them. He made his way to their vehicle and began to strip out of his damaged suit.

‘What the fuck was that in there, Forbes?’

‘No clue, I suppose we’ll find out when clean-up get out here.’