Tag Archives: sci-fi fantasy

The Wulf and the Tiger #2

The second part of my adult sci-fi/western novel The Wulf and the Tiger. This follows directly on from the last part. Please bear in mind it’s a first draft work in progress.

 

He tensed, closed his eyes, there was a small thuk and the pressure of the gun fell away.

He opened an eye, then both. The two men in front of him were looking around wildly, pistols in their hands. The man who had been about to pull the trigger on him was laid on his arms in the sand. A fine breeze was picking up and throwing the grains to stick to the blood.

This time he saw the arrow; it whistled in and went through the eye of the beardiest. And before he knew what was happening he had charged forward into the man remaining, headbutting him to the ground. He straightened and stamped on the man’s fingers, kicking the gun away, then kicking down hard on his neck. He put all his weight on one foot, crushing the man’s windpipe, then hopped his tied wrists over one leg, so his hands were now hooked around his crotch. He quickly switched feet before the man could draw a breath, and did the same movement with the other leg.

With bonded double fists he made to punch the man out, but by the looseness of the neck and the open eyes it seemed the man was dead.

He sat down, unsure of what had just happened. He wasn’t a fighter, but he’d just gone for a man with a gun. He could have waited; why get in the way of his mysterious saviour and his arrows?

He’d gone for a man and he’d killed him in a matter of movements – movements he’d never made before. What was worse, he didn’t feel like he thought he would, those times when he’d lay in bed and wonder what it would be like to kill another human. He tried to summon the shock, the numbness or hysteria, the overpowering guilt and regret, the anger . . . none of it came. It was though there was a new part of him, a part that dominated and reacted to the murder with a mere shrug of the shoulders.

He looked at his hands. A new part of me? I’m all new parts. His hands were red, not just the rawness around the ropes but everywhere, a deep, dark red with even darker nails. It wasn’t a dyed red, or a sunburned red. It was a skin colour red, a red like blood.

‘He dead?’

He looked up, and stared. His archer was a she, a woman – that much was obvious right from the get go. He didn’t think he’d seen anyone like her, except possibly as some kind of fantasy art back on . . . back in . . . back where he came from. She was an Amazonian: that was his first thought. He was taller in this new body, he could tell, but she was taller still. Not freakish in height, but enough to balance the sumptuousness of her caramel body with the aura of dominance. A long black bow hung around her, a stretch of black string kept tucked away in the shadows of her cleavage.

She raised one dark eyebrow at him, then, as he continued to look on dumbly, she stepped over to the man he had felled.

‘Yes,’ she said simply, returning to him. ‘Cat got your tongue, Jay?’

That’s my name. Or rather, that’s the name of this body. Jay . . . Jay Wulf. The name came to him, tumbling up from somewhere inside.

‘Who are you?’

‘Fuck off,’ she said. She sat down. ‘I know you have a dog’s eyes Jay, but this is taking the piss even for you. You look like you’ve never seen a Savvi before.’

Taking the piss. His brain was immediately translating into the most recognisable of forms, slang and all. Learning American.

‘What’s a Savvi?’ he said.

‘I’m Savvi, dick.’ Her eyes narrowed as there was no sign of recognition. ‘Sav. What’s the matter with you? You get hit on the head again?’

‘I take it we’re supposed to know one another.’

‘No shit. Oh for crying out loud. I’m not hanging around for all this.’

‘Please!’

She stood up. ‘I’m going.’

He offered his hands up pitifully. ‘Can you at least cut me free?’

She hesitated, then shook her head. ‘I’m not getting that close to you.’

‘You’ve got knives all over you, just pass me one . . . gently.’

The woman who called herself Savvi, or Sav, laughed. ‘You really must have hit your head if you think I’m going to give you a blade.’

He wanted to weep, but it seemed Jay’s body had little time for such things, and he resorted to falling to his knees and putting his head in his hands.

‘Aw, poor baby,’ she said.

‘I’ve only been here a few minutes,’ he said into his hands. He tried to make it sound self-pitying to earn some sympathy, but it didn’t work with his new voice; he just sounded frustrated. ‘And already I’ve barely escaped dying, killed a man who was probably going to kill me, and now left for dead by a . . . a woman who . . . by my own saviour, who, who won’t listen to me,’ he finished lamely.

She rolled her eyes. ‘What rubbish. I’m not leaving you for dead, there’s all manner of sharp rocks you can cut your bonds on. Then you’re free to go back to town, or wherever you want. The key word you used is “saviour”. I really should stop saving your life, it’s getting to be quite a bad habit.’ The words dripped silkily from the kind of lips that could swallow a man up but would never stoop to kiss his ass.

He watched her walk away from him. He didn’t know if she was swaying or he was. He could smell blood on the breeze.

She picked up speed, and soon she was running over slope and scree, arrows lightly quivering. He marvelled at the way she moved, like she was half elf half . . . panther. Her ebony form seemed to fade in and out of the rocks, the black and brown of the straps and scraps of her clothing the perfect camouflage. Her black hair lay as still as a dark pool, and crossed the land like a shadow of a great bird.

I wonder how many men have spent too long looking at her, he wondered, and not at her arrows and knives.

He rose suddenly. ‘Wait,’ he cried out. ‘WAIT!’ My new favourite word.

‘I’m still not gonna fuck you!’ Her voice sailed back at distance, before she was lost to him.

He stood still, bewildered. Who am I?!

Jay Wulf. That’s who I am. That’s who I am in this world. I’ll find out more about me, what kind of person I am, but I’m starting to get an idea.

I’ll find out everything. Where I am, who I am, who she is, and what the fuck happened to me.

And how to get home, and back to my old body, said a smaller voice in him.

‘Steady on,’ he said, feeling the strength in him like a second sun. Overhead the pure lilac sky was carrying away a single coupling of indigo clouds. ‘Let’s not be hasty.’

 

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The Wulf and the Tiger

This ain’t Tolkien!

The Wulf and the Tiger is my in-progress novel, still fairly early stages, that contains some pretty big ideas to it. Think a both gritty and comedic blend of sci-fi, fantasy and western, all with a real world backing to it. It’s adult, it’s humorous, it’s bloody, it’s complex (a little bit of brain melting might occur), it’s full of surprises, and it’s got some seriously badass characters. I certainly hope anyone looking for ‘strong female characters’ won’t be disappointed.

I also intend for it to be the first in a crazy series (but let’s not get ahead of ourselves).

I’ve mentioned it before, but not posted anything written until now. Here is the very first part. I hope you like it. Please bear in mind that it is a first draft, a work-in-progress, and may undergo corrections and revisions in the future.

 

All across the world philosopher scientists united, having finally discovered the Ultimate Secret: the meaning of life, the meaning of existence, and the meaning behind the universe, all of which amounted to pretty much the same thing.

In reaction to this monumental breakthrough the Earth was racked by waves of suicides. Countless others were numb and silent. Many stayed in denial.

The deniers would convert the fastest.

It was around this time that the universe (which was only a mirage, a trick, anyway – not that they knew) was Reshuffled, as it sometimes was.

The order of things is moved around. Different minds to different bodies. Some of it is repair work, but most of it is experimental. Memories are changed to fit the new build. You will always remember things just as they have always been, even if the way things have been has only been true for the last day. A body that once housed a kind, sensitive soul now holds a rough, arrogant mind – and everybody remembers them as this new sort, and an entirely new shape has had its effect on the lives of everybody that come into contact with them.

Needless to say, a Reshuffling takes an enormous amount of work. A lot of it is simple presets, now, but there are always new configurations to make, new hiccups to consider. The debug program points out any gaps or mistakes, any potential bogeys let through before the changes become live. And afterwards, mistakes can always be quickly rectified, or at least smoothed over somewhat.

A great deal of change can be made simply by putting different minds into different people in different positions.

It is no wonder the world is so confusing, and people struggle so. Their minds and lives have gone through so many changes, and many people’s minds are not in their original bodies. Some people may never be directly touched by the reshuffle, and some people’s memories will be rewritten over and over as their brains or the brains of their friends and family find themselves with new occupants.

Thankfully, Earth had never achieved interstellar contact or cross-dimensional exploration, and so the latest Reshuffle was localised to Earth. That said, it was the greatest single-planet Reshuffle ever yet done. Some would say it was in response to Earth’s self-claimed Ultimate Discovery, while others might point out that the plans had been  in motion for a long time, and Earth had been due a Reshuffle for some time.

Afterwards, the Ultimate Discovery would be seen to be bogus, a piece of nonsense so derided that people thought it was a wonder it had ever been taken seriously, and noted both the ‘discovery’ and the resulting reactions as an unpleasant black spot on modern history. The philosopher scientists were blamed wholeheartedly, and they in turn blamed each other, and all tried not to broadcast their own personal shame.

It was almost perfect. And it would have been, if not for one oversight.

That oversight was one man.

He was Reshuffled, but his memories were left intact, and his mind was sent to the wrong place. It was not sent to one of his friends, or his friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s dog’s groomer, or someone in Africa or someone in New Zealand.

It was sent to another world.

 

ONE

 

He woke up standing with a gun to his head.

Desert plain, sand-coloured rocks, a stunted shrub of a tree. The touch of hot metal against his temple.

There were two men in front of him, also with guns, smiling toothy, dirty smiles.

He blinked, and opened his mouth. ‘What the fuck -’ he started, before immediately changing to ‘Oh my -’ and then ‘what’, and finishing with ‘This isn’t my voice!’ as his knees buckled.

The smudge of a man in his corner vision who held the gun pressed to his head grabbed him roughly by the neck, keeping him upright. ‘Don’t even think bout pullin some trick,’ came the growl in his ear.

The men looked like mercenaries from an old age. They were dirty and ragged, yellowed cloth and brown belts and heads covered in bristles. They leered and snarled at him.

‘Wha – what’s going on?’ he managed to breathe, and he trembled again as he heard another person’s voice form the words.

The pistol barrel nudged harder into him. ‘Cut the shit Jay.’

‘Please. I have absolutely no idea what’s going on.’

‘You’re gonna die, that’s what. And not before time.’

He didn’t delude himself into thinking it was a dream. The gun against his head felt all too real. It seemed to be heating up under the glare of the sun. His hands were tied behind his back, and the rough knots bit into his skin.

It was that when he saw the lilac sky, a bright, alien colour that ringed the sun’s circle in purple flame.

He looked down, blinking as velvet motes danced over the sand and the rocks. He saw high boots and pants the colour of bark. His hair felt different, his face felt different. His whole body felt different. He was . . . stronger.

‘Wait,’ he said, licking his lips, trying to understand the voice. The accent seemed vaguely familiar – something exotic, a voice of spiced incense and long burning days and silks stained with blood – and yet nothing he could put a country’s name to, or even a region. His new voice was deeper, tougher, and instinctively he flexed his jaw and flexed the muscles in his arms. It felt good.

He squinted back up at the day’s light, that soft white-purple haze that quilted the land. The terrain lay about him like a bruise. There was no horizon; everything led to one slope or another. The astonishment of it all, the incredulity taming itself through a rising awe, was almost enough to make him forget the gun.

‘Time to die, tabaca.

It was then that he realised nobody was speaking English. Not even him. He hadn’t realised because while he was hearing another language, something he’d never heard before, he was understanding it in English. Words – his own words too, circling back on him – had been hitting his ears in whatever-the-fuck-it-was and appearing in his brain perfectly sensible.

Was this what been fluent was like? He figured not.

The gun clicked, ready for the end.

He wanted to say, ‘There’s been a huge misunderstanding.’ He wanted to say, ‘I’ve just woken up like this and I have no fucking idea where I am who I am and more precisely who I am to you and you’re about to kill me, possibly forever unless this really is the biggest most expensive whopper of a trick ever played on someone.’ He wanted to say a lot of things, a lot of things that wouldn’t have done him one bit of good, and yet in the end all that came out of his new mouth was ‘Wait,’ again.

One minute in a new body in a new world and I’m gonna die. Just my luck.

‘Goodbye,’ growled the reprobate in front of him.

‘This is ridiculous.’ He looked surprised for a second at himself, the words as unfamiliar as the voice. Well, at least I’m not crying at the end…

 

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Writing update

It’s been a while since my last post, and for that I am sorry. Every revolution on the great ferris wheel of life the doors open – some qualities are gained and some qualities escape me. Qualities like discipline, optimism, motivation etc.

But I’m hardly alone in that.

Perhaps I should give myself space to write about other things, or make shorter posts, so this site keeps on going. I’ve been told a blog should at the least put out something once a week, that two a week is better, and that for some blogs it should be every day (which seems like overkill to me, but no doubt it works). I’ve always preferred quality over quantity, but to keep a blog’s numbers growing perhaps means I should be both more productive (I should always be more productive than I am) and easier on myself with what I put down.

Anyway, there’s more reasons than the unpredictable ferris wheel as to the slow spin of my writing engine. I’m writing a novel again – my first since Moral Zero. Or at least I hope to write it.  That makes it a much bigger – and much more daunting task than writing short stories, or even my novella The Violet Dark. The Violet Dark was supposed to be a novel – until I suddenly found I’d already finished it.

My troubled levels of determination and motivation, discipline and self-structuring will have to really start working out , what with a new (and ambitious) novel to compose, to arrange, to finish.

I also hope for it to be the first in a series. The title, possibly working title, for this first book (my reach exceeds my grasp!) is The Wulf and the Tiger. I don’t really know what it is at the moment; I have ideas, big ideas, but a lot of them are a bit ramshackle, and I don’t have any kind of middle for the book – what takes A to B? I’m not even sure what genre it is – it already seems like it could blend fantasy, high-concept sci-fi, western, horror and even comedy. Hopefully it’ll take on its own form as I write and I’ll understand more what I’ve got as I write it.

It is very early days. Nevertheless, stay tuned for future extracts, and I’ll see how high I can pull my socks up and for how long.

 

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