Muse Tuesday – The Eternal Frontier | Ant-Man

When he woke, Hank found himself wedged into a runnel of wood grain. Wide-eyed, he checked the time and found he’d only been asleep for a few hours, as planned.

“Son of a bitch.” He sighed through his nose. “Shrinking faster than I thought.” 

Maybe exponentially.

“Or with serious gains.”

You’re talking to yourself again, Hank.

“Not like there’s anyone here to listen.”

But if there was?

He shrugged.

And then sat up. The grain flowed around him in a dark river of iterating rings, dappled and imperfect. If the malfunction in his suit was speeding up, he’d be able to watch the dapples get bigger as he walked over them, becoming holes he’d step into.

And then pits he could fall in.

Eventually, pigment would turn into patterns–messes of atomic structures that would be impossible to recognize as blue or red. Nets of molecules that would part beneath his feet.

“Okay. You know what? I like talking to myself.”

Talk to Jan.

Blinking, Hank pulled the recorder off of his suit–a piece of black box protocol just for such an occasion. He took a deep breath. “Jan . . .”

The edge of the grain river was up to his ankles. Had it already been there?

He shut his eyes. “Beautiful . . . impossibly intelligent Janet Pym . . .” He swallowed, and licked his dry lips.

Walk. You can still get to the manual particle override, but only if you start walking now.

“I know.”

Then why aren’t you walking?

He adjusted his grip on the recorder, fabric creaking. “I’m going to take a moment with this. Because it’s maybe the last time one of my experiments tries to kill me. And I know you love when that happens–these stupid adventures of mine.

“But I’m pretty sure the experiment’s going to win this time. And that . . . feels depressingly appropriate. Of all of the ways I could die, this, somehow, feels right.

“So, what I’m going to do is, I’m going to detail this entire, stupid adventure of mine–this last one–so you can at least laugh at it some day.”

Please.

The river curved away ahead of him–an arc of thirty paces.

“But, ya know, as I explain, I’m just gonna walk too. Because the only thing scarier than the idea of dying here . . .

“. . . is the idea that this is the last time I’ll ever fuck something up.

“And, having said that, I realize now that I didn’t say I’m afraid I’d never see you again. I also realize that this recorder has no rewind feature.”

He sighed as he started walking. “Goddammit.”

~~~

So, this is the one idea I’ve ever had for an Ant-Man story. It was super fun playing up Hank Pym’s tendency to be terrible, but toning it down–making him a combination of genuinely horrible, abusive Hank Pym, and lovable, clueless scientist Hank Pym (who’s my favorite). The result was a total fuck up, which feels like a perfect fit (especially after his arc in The Ultimates).

At any rate, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

If this is your first time here, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

No matter what you do, though, thank you just for dropping by. And, as always, write well.

Muse Tuesday – Jadha Swayne | Freewriting

Hi there, and welcome back to Muse Tuesday.

This week, I’m drawing from the ether; this isn’t going to be a WIP or a fanfic–just freewriting with a single goal in mind.

Write a character I absolutely hate.

It’s an exercise to expand my range as a writer. I don’t want my characters to feel samey, so I’m trying to broaden my horizons.

And,  I feel like the best way to do that . . . is by writing a character I despise, based on some of the weirdos I’ve encountered here in New York.

Enjoy!

~~~

Jadha Swayne always shook her head when she invented a deity.

It bought her time. Gave her a heartbeat to find a name, the beginning of a story.

“Konlo, the Despoiler.” She said. “You’ve heard of him, right?”

And the man who’d come to her–a villager named Gavin–shook his head.

Of course he did.

By reflex now, Jadha lifted an eyebrow and looked as disappointed as she could. “You never heard of Konlo? A demon lord from the east. Konlo the Jealous, they call him, too. He steals children. Not himself–he whispers in the ears of the weak while they sleep. He convinces the jealous and the lonely to steal other people’s children away.”

When Gavin’s brows furrowed, she suddenly remembered this man’s son had fallen into a coma, not been kidnapped. Shit.

“Sometimes, they do it physically. But, most times . . . Konlo tells his people how to steal children’s souls.”

She watched Gavin’s face pale, his lip quivering. “He–”

“Yes,” Jadha said, controlling the conversation. Always keep talking. Always steer the dialogue in a direction you could control. “Yes. I’m saying that your son’s asleep . . . because Konlo had someone steal his soul.”

Gavin looked away, shaking. “How? How did it–?”

“There are many ways,” she said, steering toward a wild current now, almost smiling. “This person–the one who has your boy’s soul–might have a painting of him. It doesn’t have to be new; Konlo often tells them to paint their victims onto canvases that have already been used–scenes that were already hanging in their homes. It makes it harder for people to find their children and free them.

“But it could be something worse. A pinch of arm hair, torn out while they stared at your son. A mirror with his soul burned onto it. A stoppered flask, hidden away in their home, warm from the soul light inside of it.”

“Just,” Gavin cut in suddenly, eyes wet. “Just tell me . . . how to get my son back.”

And Jadha breathed deep, finally reigning herself in. “You have to find this thing. This painting. This tuft of hair. The mirror or the bottle. And you must destroy it. Without the captor realizing it. Only then can their bond with Konlo be broken, and your son’s soul set free.”

Gavin breathed deep for a moment, looking away. Jadha had to wonder if he realized how impossible that task was. How difficult it would be for him to find the one hidden flask among all the houses of his neighbors–without getting caught.

For a moment, his brow sharpened, and Jadha’s heart raced. For just a moment, she was certain that Gavin saw through her lies.

But then he was up on his feet. “What do I owe you for this counsel, sister?” he asked, reaching into his pocket for a bundle of spare notes.

And Jadha, putting so much sadness into her eyes that they shined, shook her head. “You don’t owe me a thing, Gavin Cask. It is enough for me to have told you what you didn’t know.

“It is enough for me to have helped educate you.”

~~~

Phew. Well . . . that was surprisingly easy. And fun enough that I might actually use Jadha for something in the future. And, man, I have to say, moments like these are part of the reason why I love this site. Without this site, I never would’ve pushed myself to practice like this.

Of course, the other reason why I love this site is you guys. I don’t want to get too mushy, but thank you so much for reading. For coming back, for liking, or just for passing by. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it absolutely keeps me going. Thank you.

My name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Regardless though, thank you just for dropping by. And, as always, write well.

Muse Tuesday – Blood He Couldn’t Feel | Warframe

Welcome back to Muse Tuesday.

This week, I’m doing a little fanfiction.

If you haven’t heard of Warframe, it’s a sci-fi, free-to-play online shooter, the selling point of which is that you’re an insanely powerful space ninja–one of many known as “Tenno.” As such, you wear a selection of armors called Warframes that adhere to certain motifs and allow you unique abilities. All of which add up to you killing hordes and hordes of enemies.

I thought I’d take that . . . and try to do something incredibly serious with it. So, apologies if any of this is lost on you; the challenge here was definitely on explaining without over-explaining.

Anyway, enjoy.

~~~

There was blood on the Tenno’s knees.

Not only a spot–a pool that he knelt in. A dark splash that glowed with sunlight. He’d watched it slowly roll toward him from the pile of dead Grineer meters away–had done nothing but blink as it reached him, kneeling there. Blink and listen to a chorus of birdsong and rushing water.

It all made the overgrown forests of Earth strangely empty for him, listening to a language he couldn’t understand, being touched by warm blood he couldn’t feel.

Another moment more and he would be done with this ritual of his. He’d lost count of the times he’d done it, but the exercise was always the same; he knelt near a group of Grineer he’d just killed and tried his best to feel something for them–before their blood reached him.

He hoped for anything. Regret. Sadness. Because they were still people.

Just cloned–so often that it’d driven them insane and ruined their genetics. Many of them were more machine now–men and women with complex prostheses, living in alloy shells.

Who terrorized the galaxy. Who killed without mercy.

The only reason the Tenno was planetside in the first place was to stop a Grineer plot to poison the forests of Earth, making it easier to terraform–a new planet of factories to process their weapons of war.

No. It’s impossible, he thought. I can’t feel sorry for them. They’re savages. Killers.

And as he thought it, the blood reached his feet.

Suddenly desperate, the Tenno closed his eyes, willing himself to try again. To try to be better than the things he’d just killed.

Angrily punching the ground when he still couldn’t feel anything.

“Whoa.”

He spun around and found another Tenno behind him–another lost child of space, this one in her Warframe: a birdlike Zephyr, her carbon composite feathers and metal skin regal in shades of white and gold.

“Are you . . . okay?” she asked, lowering her weapon, oddly tender as her clawed hand reached for him.

The Tenno closed his eyes, activating Transferrence, pulling himself back into his own Warframe–an Ash that he’d left standing on a Grineer structure a half mile away, just in case he needed to vanish.

Since he’d left, a new platoon of clones had arrived, cleaning up the mess he’d left behind. Already restarting the machines the Tenno had just shut down, repairing those he’d destroyed. They shouted at each other, angry only then. Careless when they pushed their dead into the river nearby.

The sword in Ash’s hand twitched.

Time to try again.

~~~

Thanks for reading.

A quick notice: I’m going to be at PAX this weekend, but my journey to get there starts tomorrow night. I’ll still be posting tomorrow, for sure, but whether or not I post Thursday and Friday depends on how much of a pain it’ll be to post from PAX.

Anyway, if you’re a regular, thanks again for the read. I’ve tried my best to make it easier to comment on my posts, so if you’d like to drop any criticism down below, please feel free. Writing this often is starting to make some of my writing habits stand out and I want to take care of those immediately.

If you’re new, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Regardless, thank you for stopping by, and, as always, write well.

Muse Tuesday – Some Kind of Bow | Rainwater Archaic

Hi there, and welcome to my first Muse Tuesday, a series of practice scenes from my WIP’s, and my favorite canons, just for practice.

Now, I know Workshop Wednesdays would technically be a better fit for these scenes, but I want a dedicated place to explore characters and dialogue, separate from Wednesday, where I focus on descriptions.

To be clear, Muse Tuesday scenes might be a little rough, but I still invite comments. If you notice that I rely too heavily on certain descriptors, if you feel characters are just completely unlikable, or if you just want to say you enjoyed the scene, please feel free to comment.

Now, let’s get right into this scene, set in the world of my next project Rainwater Archaic.

~~~

Musa Dajen lifted an eyebrow. “What the hell’s it?”

“Whelp,” Zircon started, smacking his lips in that way everyone hated, holding the ‘it’ in question up to his eye. “Looks like some kind of bow.”

“A bow?” Musa grumbled, all attitude and skepticism. It was a long contraption of pitch-dark metal, alive with odd, sparkling patterns where the light hit it. Attached to it were smaller limbs of the same metal, fanning down its back, and a flat, wooden handle, oddly placed.

Musa had tried swinging it like a sword, but its flat handle was unwieldy.

Rook had given it a long, half-lidded stare, the tattoos on her arms coming alive with blue light as she burned from the inside with magic. When the light faded, she’d handed it back with a terse, “Not a catalyst.”

Otar had refused to touch it altogether, rubbing his giant hands together nervously. “It would be best if we . . . just took it back to Rainwater, perhaps?” he said, with a hopeful shrug.

And naturally, Zircon nodded in agreement . . . before pulling the thing up to one eye again anyway, shouting, “Crossbow!”

Everyone sighed.

“Just, put the damn thing down, Zircon,” Rook groaned, knowing he wouldn’t. And then quickly adding, “And don’t point it at us.”

As if that was a reminder, Zircon immediately started pointing it at everyone. “Really though! A crossbow, innit? Gotta be!”

“I’ll cross your goddamn bow if you point it at me again,” Musa said. When he noticed Rook staring, he shrugged. “I’m tired.”

She kept staring.

“The threats’ll be better tomorrow, I promise.”

The staring intensified. By merit of not changing at all.

“Bloody hell, woman. I’ll carve you a new tattoo if you don’t stop staring.”

And Rook, knowing Musa too well to be intimidated, nodded. “That’s bett–”

The room shook with voiceless godsong. Everything turned purple in a glaring flash as wings flared out, two whipping to each side of the contraption in Zircon’s hand as it fired–a single, crackling bolt of violet energy. All of their heads turned, watching the bolt arch up, hitting a wall.

And passing through it, completely silent, leaving no trace of its passing.

Musa, closest to a window, ran over and threw it open. The purple bolt was a dot on the horizon, slow to disappear.

When he turned around, everyone was cursing at Zircon, who cradled the crossbow to his chest. “Well, I was right, weren’t I!? I said it was a crossbow and it was!” he was shouting over them.

Musa, seeing the distraction, managed to sidle close to Zircon . . . and snatch the crossbow the moment it was held in only one hand. The motion, the quickness of it, shut everyone up, making it easy for Musa to command their attention.

“Only thing this is–right?–is mine.”

~~~

Again, this was a practice scene from Rainwater Archaic, a WIP. If you enjoyed it, let me know with a like, because I loved writing it. I’m finding myself super familiar with these characters immediately and I’m looking forward to the point when I can devote myself to making them bicker about whether things are crossbows.

But, even if you don’t like or comment, thank you for passing by.

And, as always, write well.