I suppose, in many ways, this will continue to be a theme in my writing. Zombies+comedy. Post-apocalyptic earth+mermaids. Logic-bound scholars+djinns. Robots+magic roads off-planet.
And now this. A blend of two (or three) well-known stories twisted to fit the parameters of this particular storyline. But I like to think of it as keeping the characters alive, changing, and growing, for surely that's better than letting them grow old, stagnant, and forgotten? Better for them to exist in a living continuum built of the collective cultural stories from our past and present, in which the reader can dive deep and emerge from the other side changed - hopefully for the better.
As both a writer and a reader, I can think of no better homage to all the authors and readers who came before.
Please enjoy my next Excerpt from:
a fantasy of organs
from Part II: Hunter
By the time I was sixteen, I had exhausted all possibilities my realm offered for finding the Piper. So I set out to the Borderland, ready to cross into the other Realms and conclude my Hunt. But the Realms were endless, one after another, and decades passed as I searched for clues to lead to the Piper. Each land I discovered let to one strange encounter after another, leading me down many unexpected paths. But for everyone I met, I never ceased my Hunt, never ceased asking: “Have you heard the music of the Piper?”
But there was never anyone who could answer. Not until one day, a harried-looking rabbit advised me to find the Worm.
I’d just cross from the Borderland into a strange world filled with odd machines and balloons that carried people across the sky. The path I was on led straight down into a huge city, hung about with clouds of webbing, scurrying creatures crossing above.
Suddenly, a rabbit nearly the size of a boy hopped past me. Something about his focus caught my attention, and I found myself running after him.
“No time to wait! I’m running late, I’m running late!” he answered in a sing-song voice.
“Just a moment. That’s all I’ll take.”
The rabbit stopped abruptly and turned on me, his eyes wide with fury.
“Oh, sure, that’s what they all say. Just a moment. Next thing you know, they’ve grown into a giant and destroyed your house!”
His words made no sense to me, so I decided to let him move on.
“You’re right, of course. Do carry on.” I turned to go.
He spluttered behind me.
“Well. Well then. Someone with Sense. Finally.”
His watch suddenly started ringing, and within those tones I caught a familiar pattern.
“Oh no! I’m late!”
He turned to hop off but in a swift move, I caught his ears in one of my hands and raised him up. With the other, I gripped his neck.
“How dare you? How utterly shocking! You ingrate! I’m late, I’m late!”
I brought his furred face close to mine.
“Your watch. The alarm. Where did you hear that music?”
“What? My watch? Got it from the Worm! The Worm! Was singing it, wasn’t he? Took it from a Piper, he said. Let go, let go!”
I shook him once, hard.
“Where is this Worm?”
The rabbit started shaking as his watch rang another alarm.
“His home moves! I don’t know!”
I shook him again, harder.
“Where was the last place you saw him?”
“In the- the Borderlands. Or maybe the Land of Wonder. It’s hard to tell. The smoke! The smoke!”
I thought about killing the rabbit, but decided his Soul would be too small for me to enjoy. But before I set him down, I asked one final question.
“Tell me, what is your name?”
He squirmed in my grip, so I tightened my fingers until he started to go limp.
“My name, my name! It’s White Hare. White Hare! There, you see? I’m… late… I’m…”
His voice trailed off as he started to lose consciousness. Tired of the encounter, I let White Hare slide out of my hand.
“If you’re lying, or I do not find him, then I’ll come back and find you. You will not enjoy the consequences.”
White Hare continued lying on the ground, gasping for air and muttering to himself as I turned and strode away.
“I’m late… I’m late… so rude… as big… as a house…”
His nonsense words faded from my hearing as I turned back towards the Borderlands. I’d never heard of the Land of Wonder, though that wasn’t surprising, considering the thousands of realms I’d yet to visit. But the Borderlands – I’d wandered there many years. That was where I’d begin.
If I hadn’t had the motivation of my missing Soul, I might’ve been daunted by the sheer scope of the area I was to search. But my Great Hunt was my Purpose, so it never occurred to me to doubt.
And in time, sure enough, I found him.
The Worm.Of the many strange manner of creatures I’ve come across along my Hunt, there was perhaps none as challenging as the Worm - though not in a manner I’d have ever expected.