The story I am going to write next month is going to be sort of a cross-genre world hopping thing. I think giving myself permission to write about any topic at all will be good for keeping me interested and pushing the story forward.
The as yet unnamed story is a reincarnation love story, a tale of a man’s journey from total despair and ruination through life and death into a world bigger and weirder than he could imagine.
A desperate unemployed man is thrown from disaster into a dizzying multiverse the scope of which extends to such worlds as: a computer constructed steampunk paradise, a world that obeys strict laws of magic and sacrifice, an apocalyptic nightmare of telepathy and all pervasive surveillance.
Well, that’s how I envision it occurring anyway. I’m sure it will become more defined and concrete as I write it. In the mean time here are some ficlets I’ve written as sort of practice for it:
A Night Out
“Yes that’s right.” she said. “In the old days you needed quite a lot of ‘money’ just to survive. ‘Cost of living’ they called it then. It was barbaric, people starving and living on the streets and such.
These days of course you don’t have to do that. You can always feed your body the free food, and it’ll be nutritious and taste terrible but it’ll keep you alive.”
But there was always a catch, wasn’t there? Ethan thought.
“Well yes, there is the peer pressure to not be a drain on the Aether that no one seems to acknowledge nowadays. Stiff upper lip and all that.”
I don’t want to be a Leech, he thought.
“Oh that is a terrible term.” she said, spiky protuberances on her avatar indicating her displeasure. “I wish you wouldn’t say such things.”
Sorry, I don’t mean to offend.
“It’s ok,” she said, savoring the lemon curried paneer. “Just remember, I didn’t always have the kind of credit it takes to eat out at a place like this, myself.”
Ethan filed that bit of knowledge away somewhere safe.
“Anyway, that’s why I’m here.” She said. “As your patron, it’s my job to fill you in on the niceties of society on this side of the Firewall.” She stirred her drink lazily, and the turbulence between the cream layer on top and the brown sweet liquid on bottom created a row of perfect little swirls.
I appreciate that, he thought.
“Speaking of which.” she said, “You’re going to have to get used to speaking out loud. People around here prefer doing things the mechanical way. The whole instantaneous silent communication thing is a bit too personal for most people. Maybe when you…” she blushed visibly, ”…get to know someone a little better you can try that out.”
“Ah. Terribly sorry.” Ethan stuttered, “I did not mean to give offense. I have not been in this body for very long, and this place is very different than what I am used to.”
I’m dying over and over and over and over again.
Ethan shuddered involuntarily as he recalled the image of his former body lying slumped in a gutter, lifeless.
It had to be done. The old life wasn’t working out, so Ethan emigrated here to what was supposed to be a perfect utopia. His only regret was that it had to be done so quickly. He hadn’t had time to say goodbye to his wife and daughter before he was forced to hit the eject button.
Well, they would show up here eventually. Everyone would. Hopefully the two that mattered would remember him when they came over.
“You ok?” Ziyi said, breaking his reverie. “You looked far away there for a minute. Thinking about your other life?”
“Well it’s best to try and focus on what’s going on right here and now, you can’t go back there anymore, you know.” She looked to Ethan as if she really were concerned for him. “That world doesn’t exist now.”
“So what do I do now?” He said.
“Go out, meet new people. Get used to being in a body. Find something you are good at and practice doing it for a while.”
She smiled. “Have you ever been sailing?"
“Sailing?” Ethan used to sail regularly, two lifetimes ago.
It wasn’t sailing as Ethan remembered it, but it operated on some of the same principles. The cabin he was seated in evoked something of the Nautilus from Jules Verne, from the intricate whorls designed into the mahogany chair, to the tiny polished brass portholes that looked out into the night.
The ships’ means of locomotion, he had been told, was a metallic sail a million kilometers square that propelled the ship forward. Steering was accomplished by manipulating a magnetic field in some way, and he understood none of it, but all of the comforts of a normal sailing vessel were here.
The other passengers smiled and nodded at him, amused at his wide-eyed wonder.
“How long have you been on this side?” said a pretty face from beneath a hideous Victorian hat adorned with peacock feathers and fluff.
“I’ve only been here for a few days.” Said Ethan. “Does it show that much?”
“It’s alright.” She said. “You’re managing better than most.” The ruby lips curled in a smile and she reached out a lace gloved hand.