Tag Archives: Online Storytelling

[BOOKSTORE WINDOW] The Boy in Brown #amwriting #storytelling

The result of my sixth #bookstorewindow fiction writing exercise, inspired by the late Harlan Ellison, based on writing prompts supplied by Enigmatic, Entropymanor, and comics creator David Napier. Wrote it live on our Slack site in about 20 minutes:

The discombobulated devil chicken staggered across the damp cobblestone street, and the boy in brown followed.

“Come back, chick-chick!” the child called after his clucking quarry, his reddish-blonde curls wet from the now-misting rain. He waved the iron skillet over his head. “Let me hit you some more!”

“Fenrin!” The shriek came from above and to the right, where two shutters clattered open and a broad-faced woman stared down, red-cheeked, at the child. “Drop that skillet at once and leave the poor rooster alone.”

The boy hesitated, watched in frustration as the ruffled bird disappeared around the corner toward the Mercantik Bloc. “Awww,” he grumbled.

“Whose skillet is that, anyway?” His mother asked, eyes narrowing.

“I found it,” he said, not looking up.

“There you are!” Old Jasper Boots, wiry silver hair puffing around his mostly bald head, limped onto the Trade Road from Sway Alley. He waved a knotted oak cane at Fenrin, demanding: “Give that skillet back to me right this very moment, you conniving sneak-thief!”

The woman in the window gawked and snapped: “You watch what you call my boy, you rotten drunk!”

Boots stopped to poke his cane in the direction of the window. “Get a good man to raise that silly-haired mutt of yours, Gillen Monstep, maybe I wouldn’t have to call him anything!”

Her eyes widened. She ducked out of view.

“Better run,” Fenrin advised. He knew that look well enough.

“Skillet, boy,” the old man urged.

“You’ll be sorry,” the child warned him. Again. He knew perfectly well why his mother had such a difficult time with relationships. She often ended them. Violently. Something he expected a wise old crack like Jasper Boots to know too.

But wisdom didn’t always amount to intelligence. The old man was still standing on the street, shaking his cane at the boy, when the kitchen knife slammed into his right shoulder.

He stumbled backward, a baffled look on his face as he gingerly tapped the hilt of the knife jutting out. His mouth fell open, then he looked up at the window to see Gillen Monstep holding two more knives just like it – one in each hand.

“Next one goes in the other shoulder,” she said calmly. “After that, I give your other leg a limp.”

“Lunatic woman,” Boots whined.

“I told you to run,” Fenrin said, raising the skillet over his head. “But now I want you to stay right where you are.” He took a step toward the old man.

Jasper Boots turned and limped away as quickly as he could. The boy ran after, shouting, “Come back, chick-chick!”

“My boy,” Gillen said with a smile, setting down the knives and closing the shutters.

[BOOKSTORE WINDOW] Night at Remembrigans #amwriting #storytelling

The result of my fifth #bookstorewindow fiction writing exercise, inspired by the late Harlan Ellison, based on writing prompts supplied by Colchek, Enigmatic, Lamia, and Azureus. Wrote it live on our Slack site in about an hour and a half:

“Breadsticks?” the harpy asked, sliding the wicker basket across the table toward the dumbstruck treant, who stared in horror at the basket.

“Cannibalism,” he rasped.

“I ordered the chicken,” the winged woman with the beak-like nose snarled. “Do you see me whining?”

They sat in a dimly lit corner booth in Remembrigans, which most people agreed was nothing more than a front for the Pineapple Upside Down Mob, but likewise didn’t care as long as the lolo wine kept flowing and Fiffen the Were-Chef served nightmare cuisine.

The treant, who called himself Birch, grunted in disgust as he pulled a brown twist of dough from the basket, dipped it in some kind of black gravy that looked like the ichor of a dying Soul Spider, and gnawed on it with bark teeth.

The harpy, who called herself Shrewd, crouched on the cushion of the booth, clutching the end with the talons of her feet. She smiled as Birch started eating, but kept one hand on the holstered slugthrower and the other on the hilt of a throwing knife. Her amber eyes took in the crowd, scanning for threats.

Birch followed her gaze. “No one knows. You worry too much.”

Of course, like always, he was wrong. First, he saw Soup sidle in through the North Arch, his wet, leathery flippers equipped with neutralizer pistols. Then his own cousin, Salad, whose canopy of green had gone more orange and brown in recent years. The treant with the crossbow lurched in through the South Arch, knocking aside a grumpy-looking Nar-lamb. The Nar-lamb turned with his mouth open, ready to bleat a few choice curses, but ceased and whinnied apologies instead.

FInally, through the double doors of the East Arch, the oozing slug in charge of the Pineapple Upside-Down Mob slithered in and brought the music, amiable chatter, and high-stakes bargaining to an absolute standstill.

“Shrewd!” Fudge Pop roared as the crowd parted before him. “You’ve crossed me for the last time!”

The harpy drew her knife and pistol. Birch fumbled for the fighting staff slung over his shoulder.

Shrewd assured Fudge Pop: “Don’t know what you’re talking about. You got your money.”

“Fudge Pop don’t take croats,” Soup burbled through his gills as he aimed his neutralizers at the harpy and her treant companion.

“Yeah,” Salad rumbled over the sight of his crossbow at the pair. “Who does that?”

“Right,” the mob boss said, pointing a slime-dripped digit across the room at Shrewd. “Those coins might’ve been worth something on Earth in the 11th Century, but they’re just ballast here in the Bleak.”

“Croats?” The harpy shrieked as she scowled at Birch. “You paid them in those old metal shavings? You idiot!”

He opened his mouth to protest, but never got a word out before the blast from her pistol punched through his trunk above his eyes and into the pulp of his thinkbud. He sagged back in the booth. A hundred people in the pub raised their mugs and shouted “Timber!” in unison.

Fudge Pop eyed Shrewd with understandable suspicion. Salad, on the other hand, seemed ready to fire a few bolts into her chest. “Not just yet,” the slug insisted. “I want my payment.”

Shrewd nodded at the red Coleman cooler on the booth next to Birch’s corpse, which was already losing leaves and peeling bark. “It’s all there.”

Soup flapped his floor fins back and forth until he arrived at the booth. He used his bottlenose snout to nudge open the cooler. He peered inside. Looked toward Fudge Pop. Gave a series of squeals and squeaks, then said: “Nice-looking blueberries.”

“Picked them myself,” the harpy assured him. “Birch whined about it the whole time, called it an atrocity and a war crime.”

Salad lowered the crossbow, but said: “He wasn’t wrong. Those are…”

“Delicious,” Fudge Pop replied, glowering at Salad. “Those little blue children are a tasty treat, so rare in the Bleak. Don’t you agree?” He glanced toward the rotting treant with half a breadstick dangling from its mouth. Salad said nothing more.

Soup closed the cooler and collected it under one fin.

“All good?” Shrewd asked the mob boss.

“For now,” the slug said.

What’s next for a 20-year-old interactive space saga?

View post on imgur.com

Originally, my online persona of Brody was inspired by the police chief in Jaws who warned “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

I was so much younger then. So energetic. All-night roleplaying marathons? All I needed was a two-liter of Mountain Dew and a bag of Doritos to get me through the weekend.

And, over time, our little group of literary adventurers grew until we really did need a bigger boat.

That’s an era in the rear view mirror these days, though. We don’t actually have much of a who list left to break on any given night. Nowadays, I feel less like I relate to the resourceful police chief and more like I’m akin to the affable curator who gets lost in his own museum.

View post on imgur.com

On June 28, OtherSpace turns 20. It’s old enough to vote. Old enough to go to war. Not quite old enough to drink. It’s still living under my roof. And it’s not entirely sure what it plans to do with the rest of its life.

Our Slack site is a good way to touch base and stay in contact with old pals. It’s shinier, more accessible than the old-school MUSH. But, like the old-school MUSH, it’s only ever as active as its most visible contributors. And now, with kids and a full-time gig outside OtherSpace, I’m one of the least active contributors anymore. I used to pride myself on the ability to keep the adventure plates spinning on multiple worlds – pirates rampaging among the stars, a crisis on Sivad, menacing military leaders on Mars. Not so much now.

A lot happened on OtherSpace in the past two decades. I feel like we’ve got more stories to tell. However, the next evolutionary phase may take a cue from the 1999 “Sanctuary” story arc. Rather than offering so many options for worlds/channels in Slack, perhaps it’s time to narrow everything down to a single ship again – a rather large one, probably – with a crew made up of the friends who join the saga.

I’ll muse more about this in the coming days as the anniversary approaches.

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] Back on Big Blue #storytelling #amwriting #OtherSpace

Landon Briggs sits at a table, reading the local news reports as he sips his coffee at Fred’s Diner. He offers a smile to the waitress as she refills his cup, smarmy as ever, and says “Thanks. Earth has the best coffee. You just can’t get a good cup out there.”

Briggs has contacts everywhere. Including Consortium government and the Vanguard. None that would betray the government for him, but some that may pass on some unclassified information. So here he sits, awaiting one such contact to ask about the recent bounty on the Queen Anne’s Revenge. He let slip that he may have a lead, but wanted some more info before risking his life.

Not long after, a man in sunglasses and a dark suit settles into the chair across from Briggs at the table. “You’re absolutely right about our coffee.” He nods to the waitress. “Sivad may be second best, though.”

Briggs politely chuckles. “Tea perhaps. The coffee is shite.” He sets his datapad down and offers a smile to the man. “Thanks for meeting me. What’s new here on the Big Blue?”

“Few things are new *here*,” the man in the suit replies. The waitress returns a short while later with the drinks. He asks for two glazed doughnuts and then, conspiratorially, informs Briggs: “I really shouldn’t, but it’s been one of those weeks.”

“I’ll have scrambled eggs, bacon and hash browns.” Turning back to his companion he says “So what’s the deal with these marines? I may have stumbled across a lead and that bounty is pretty juicy.”

The man in the suit takes a drink of his coffee as the waitress departs to relay their orders to the cook. He then replies to Briggs. “I am curious to hear more about this lead.”

Briggs rolls his eyes, “Now now. I can’t give away my sources. And I’m certainly not going to give up the info and lose the bounty. But I may know someone who saw the Queen Anne’s Revenge leaving Tomin Kora and has their heading. Tracking them from there is within my skill set. But I need to know what I might face. What you know of the crew. How many brutes I’ll need to hire.”

The waitress returns with a plate of doughnuts for the man in the suit. She informs Briggs: “Your breakfast plate will be out directly.” After she walks away, the suit says, “We know a man and a woman appear to run the ship. We also know more than a dozen special ops personnel are dead, possibly because of them. Take that for what it’s worth.”

“So they think the crew was involved in more than just cleaning up after whatever happened? Any idea of motive?”

The waitress delivers breakfast to Briggs, then leaves the two men to continue their discussion. The man in the suit bites into the first doughnut, then washes it down with coffee. Finally, he shrugs. “You’re after a bounty. Leave the investigation to the professionals. Bottom line is: We really don’t care if they were just the clean-up crew or if they pulled the trigger on our people. We want them, alive if possible, so we can get those answers.”

After thanking the waitress Landon digs into the eggs. With a full mouth “Extra money if alive? Bounty said dead or alive. Dead is a lot easier.”

“The Consortium government isn’t going to openly condone vigilante justice,” the man in the suit replies. Another bite of doughnut, then: “Pay’s the same, either way. Alive or dead, we won’t get our soldiers back. We can safely assume someone on Tomin Kora had a role in their deaths. Lord Fagin may not like it if we decide to bust that dome of his.”

That gets a laugh, “I don’t even think Fagin exists. It’s some rogue AI is my guess.” He finishes on the eggs, barely stopping to chew, then goes after the hash browns. “I’m surprised you guys put up with him for this long. Or is that what that squad of marines was doing on TK?”

The man in the suit smirks. “Criminals can be useful.” Then he says, “Our soldiers didn’t go to Tomin Kora on Vanguard orders. They were participating in a readiness exercise on Sivad before they were ambushed and kidnapped. So, perhaps a caveat you should consider before accepting this…opportunity…is that the people behind this possess the means to take out a spec ops squad.”

Landon finishes his meal, sends payment through his datapad for both meals and stands. “Alright, well I think I know what I need to know. It’ll all depend on how much muscle I can get and if it’ll be worth it. And of course if I can actually track them. Thanks for the info.”┬áHe also passes a few untraceable credit chits discretely to the man in the suit.

The man slides the chits back across the table to Briggs, offering a thin smile. “You’re working for the Consortium government, at great risk to yourself. You owe me nothing but results. Good luck.”