28 March 2013

Abraham's (new) backstory

Years of his life, his happiness, given for the safety of another. He had had a choice, of sorts, if he had been less concerned with morality. He could have given her up. Could have let them take her. He knew she wouldn’t have survived. Theodora was too frail, and that life wouldn’t be kinder to a woman. He tried not to blame her.

Her crime, as Abraham saw it, was falling in love with the wrong man. That man had been the real criminal. She was just a hanger-on who’d been there when the law found him and his gang. But she was small and clever, and had slipped away in the confusion of the arrests. They tried her in absentia, figuring if she were so damn clever, she must have been helping the gang out all along. She was sentenced to work in the mines for the remainder of her days, but they never did find her. They tracked her to Abraham’s house, then charged him with hiding her – obstruction of justice, the sheriff called it – and fined him. He paid without a second thought, happy they weren’t aware of the mine tunnels under his house, dug by his mad great-grandfather. When the months dragged on and she didn’t turn up, they charged him with murder. Abraham’s mistake, as he saw it, had been in loving her, but that couldn’t be helped.

He was too big for the mines, but they needed soldiers, too.

For twenty years, he held her peace while she lived out her days, back with her family in Arkansas. He wondered if she ever married. He wondered how many men he’d killed, fighting for a flag he wasn’t sure he believed in.

Amelia, her sister, had sent word when Theodora passed on, taken by the coughing disease. You can’t protect her anymore, Abraham. She’s beyond all our reach. What will you do, now, I wonder?

He told the cavalry commander he was retiring. He’d been in twenty years, he said, and he had earned it. Besides, with his mount being recently put to pasture, if he retired now, they wouldn’t have to find him a new one and take the time to train it. Abraham didn’t remind the commander how he got in the military in the first place. That bit of information had been forgotten six commanders ago, at least. It was in his records, but who ever looked at those? It was a sunny October day when he walked away from Fort Bowie and back to Tombstone.

He had been a man of means, once. He still was, he supposed. His accounts had been held by the bank all these years, owing to the faith his cousin Annie had in his innocence, and the fact that she still owned the bank. So he had the means, just not the possessions. Back in Tombstone there was property with his name on the deed, complete with a house full of furniture, but he’d walked away from all that twenty years ago. The house was boarded up, the furniture covered. Theodora had taken care of that for him. It was the least she could do for him, she had written feebly. Annie still checked in on the house every week, or sent her son to do it. Abraham had gone there before leaving Tombstone. He’d meant to go back home. But when he got to the gate, he couldn’t make himself go in. There was no use for all that anymore. So he just kept walking. 

21 February 2013

first round of edits

Abraham's story is about to change.
His background wasn't coming together for me. It was too disjointed. Too unwieldy.

It's ok though, because I figured it out.

You know how sometimes a whole story will just come to you, complete? Yeah, it was like that. Abraham isn't a terribly communicative person, but he finally told me his story.

Thank freaking goodness.

Gramma Crow's recent excursion into town is changing, too.

The story of the Qinti and the mining company will be tweaked, while I'm at it.

I'll have the  revisions posted soon. 

07 January 2013

the Cavernites

Those first miners who found them called them Cavernites, because they had no other name for the pale people. They were deep underground in the Mule Mountains, under territory that hadn't even been named, much less explored.

The Qinti, as they call themselves, had been driven northward by fear and the promise of their Spirits until there, beyond the sight of their warlike neighbors, the ravaging conquistadors and encroaching pioneers, they found a place that thought could not be conquered. They built their haven in the natural caverns of the mountains, using the very stones which surrounded them and reveling in the beauty of the Earth. They did not seal the opening through which they found the caverns, but they camouflaged it well, and used it to take their livestock to pasture and work the terraces they built into the sides of the mountain. They called that opening the Last Gate, and they called the bowl-shaped meadow they farmed the Blessed Shakra. Their Chaskis, the spirit-workers, built a strong defensive shield around their new homes so that strangers would not wander too close, and even the curiosity of prying eyes would be quenched. They did their work well, tying the strength of the shield to the strength of the mountain they believed to be eternal, unshakable. For many generations, the Qinti lived in seclusion, safe in their mountain home. When the newly-minted United States government bought the Arizona territory, nobody thought anything of that blank spot on the map, just a few hundred acres in the middle of the Mule Mountains. When the dynamite and the big machines of the mining operations began, the Chaskis felt the tremble, and began to worry - something unnatural was happening to the mountain range, but they didn't know what. They felt the disruption, but couldn't identify it. They never dreamed a threat would come from within the Earth. They didn't think that was possible.

The miners didn't know all that. They weren't even sure those Cavernites had a spoken language, or could speak at all. The Company figured those people must just be stubborn, of course they could talk, but did it really matter? The people who had carved out those glorious caverns were surely talented miners, and those cities would be worth a fortune, once dismantled and parceled into salable chunks. Probably should keep this hushed though, wouldn't want the competition to get wind of this. If those people did turn out to be mute, so much the better.

Sensing an opportunity, the miner's union offered to keep the secret in exchange for better pay and shorter shifts. In the Company's eyes, those miners were suddenly expendable, and dangerous. More time off would give them more time in town, more chances to spread the news. That just wouldn't do. As the miners's union called for a strike, the Company was making arrangements for new workers to be shipped in on trains. They wouldn't need so many, now. A few dozen workers who didn't strike with the union were held at the company operations center, for their own safety, the managers said. They were promoted, and tasked with building barracks adjacent to the operations center. In the meantime, the managers told them to sleep there in tents procured by the Company - the townsfolk would kill them, the managers said; the striking miners would be so angry. The barracks went up with a quickness. The newly-promoted miners were issued shiny starched uniforms and encouraged to think of themselves as the lawmen of the mine, answerable only to the managers. They started calling each other "Officer -" and "Sir."

Outside the mine, a massacre was being committed, one miner at a time, from the old oak tree on Sacramento Hill. The swinging bodies were disposed of in an old dry shaft, which collapsed under a sudden cave-in just as the last bodies were dumped, trapping the executioner and his aids in their shiny new uniforms. Oh, such a loss, said the managers when the security guards didn't return from their special, secret, mission. Well, back to work boys, back to work. We'll honor their memory by moving on. These mines won't work themselves.

The new workers were processed right from the rail cars. They never even knew there was a town outside the company's fence. Out in the middle of the desert, they thought, not a soul in sight but the managers and the security guards.

26 December 2012

author's note - reading challenges

I've decided to join a reading challenge or two... or three. 

I currently have a revolving stack of eight to ten books next to my bed. I'm somewhere in the middle of each of those books. As much as I read - for pleasure and for academic work - I think I can keep up with these challenges, and they look like fun directions in which to take my bookish adventures this year. 

Check em out: 

The Dystopian Reading Challenge, hosted by Blog of Erised:

The "This isn't fiction" Reading Challenge, hosted by The Book Garden:

And, the "Get Steampunk'd" Reading Challenge, hosted by Bookish Ardour: 

(Images link to their respective reading challenges.)

*You might notice, they're all somewhat related to research I'll be doing for the story I'm writing on this blog. Very observant, you. Indeed, that'll make it easier for me to keep up with the challenges - they meld quite well with things I'll need to read anyway, and give me a little more incentive to do my homework. 

01 December 2012

Warren's story notes

Warren Darris has eyes the color of azurite. He grew up strong and takes after his mother's symmetry of face. The young ladies of the town are smitten - wealthy and  handsome, they say in tittering voices. He's annoyed by their concern over material gains. He has more important things to do than toy with those twits.

His coming-of-age party will be held soon. He and his best friend, Miguel SanPedro, had plans for that. 

Derek and Udela's story

Derek's story by tarot:
4wands - celebration of a creative achievement
the Sun - happy knowledge
4swords(r) - resting despite ongoing troubles (denial of problems)
7pentacles - stopping to analyze midway through coming to a conclusion
7wands - defensiveness
2pentacles(r) - (im)balance
5pentacles - physical need, deprivation 

He sought perfection, in himself and in his woman. When he reached it (as he saw it), his drive to achieve was sated, and gradually his intrinsic unhappiness surfaced. He denied his unhappiness until he could do so no longer. Then, he defended his unhappiness by attributing it to imperfections in his wife. She was an heiress; he was impoverished when she renounced him.

His mother thought he went a little crazy, then. She was embarrassed by the apparent weakness of her son, and ceased communications with him. He was cut off by the matriarch, and thus by the family. The Page family no longer had four sons, but the loss wasn't spoken of. It was swept neatly out of view, which would be easier if he would just go away.

All he had left was his resentment, and pain.

Not one to wallow, he took a position with the mine. They looked at him suspiciously, at first. Locals just didn't apply at the mine. It wasn't done. But they saw his anger, his desperation, and his unattended loneliness. They concluded that he would make a valuable recruit.

Over the years, he worked his way up in the mine. The first local to do so in a hundred and twenty years. Now, he's just one promotion below Them. He doesn't realize that promotion will never come. This mine is his purpose in life; he runs it, perfectly.

Udela, Derek's estranged wife, has taken back her maiden name, and again goes by Udela Darris. The Darris estate is located high in the canyon and overlooks the town. She had been quite young when she chose Derek as her suitor, believing that it was her duty as a daughter of the Darris clan to marry someone who would compliment her family's pride and position in society. The experience taught her that 'perfection' had limits. When she spurned him, it was because his company had become distasteful to her. Her own pride wouldn't allow his poor treatment of her. She no longer knew what she would look for in a potential mate, but she didn't concern herself over it anymore, either. She had done her duty by marrying, and producing an heir. Unbeknownst to Derek, she had a child. She discovered her pregnancy just days after she had forced him to leave her house. She named the boy Warren Darris, and - unable to locate Derek - told the child his father was a brave man who had died too young. All boys should have a father they can look up to, she thought. 

30 November 2012

Sasha Hemingway, dancing girl?

[story notes]

She might be Jacq's sister. I'm not sure yet.

If Jacq is my masculine side, then Sasha is my feminine side. Sasha is graceful, soft but strong, and confident in her femininity. Jacq is confident in her competence; her body is only her vessel, and an imperfect one at that although she appreciates her physical strength.

The two women are very close. They're like sisters, if not in fact. They love each other, and are familiar with each other's secrets. Sasha is far more open, in general, than Jacq, and she encourages Jacq to be more outgoing, more 'friendly' with her friends.

I not sure yet whether Sasha works and lives in a brothel, or if she's a dancing girl at a saloon, with her own separate housing. We'll see as the story unfolds.

The Madam of the brothel (there's probably more than one of those - we'll see) is an evanescent woman in her forties. She's energetically outgoing and bluntly opinionated (sometimes to a fault). She strongly dislikes passivity. She's unnamed, for the moment.