Friday, May 19, 2017

First Clip from Fogworld Vol. 2!!!

Aloha, Fogworlders!  I'm very happy to announce that production on the second volume in the Fogworld series is underway - and I can prove it!  Here, for your enjoyment, is the first 1,300 or so words I've written for the next book.  These may not end up being the first 1,300 words of the book itself, but they will be the beginning of this character's story.

Setup:  Frank Wurzel lives on Neso, a colossus mentioned near the end of Wandering City Blues.  You'll read his story, which takes place after WCB, as a biography written by another kaiju resident, with occasional clips from other in-universe documents.  So here's the first bit of Frank's story.  What do you think?  Share with your friends, comment here or on whatever link brought you here, and don't forget to sign up for my Patreon page!  $1 per month officiates your survival of the Fogpocalypse; $3 a month gets you the entire book delivered on a month-to-month basis while I'm writing it.  Enjoy!

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Excerpt from Biohazard: An Unauthorized Biography of Francis Wurzel

By the year 98 P.A., Wurzel had settled into what he imagined his life would be like for his remaining 20 to 30 years.  Although he and Jessica never officially wed, her children had accepted him as a funny kind of paternal role model – just shy of being a stepfather.  As the sun dipped beneath ground level, he would sit with them on the floor of their small house, any time he felt well enough, and play with them and their toys.  Zoe and Jacob would invent new games for the three of them to play, or he’d teach them old ones from his ancestors’ childhoods.  Often, the tremors in his hands prevented him from playing jacks or showing them card tricks, which caused him to suddenly alter their plans to telling stories or playing hide-and-go-seek.  This he hid, blaming his choice of activity on Neso’s uneasy gait; fortunately, the children were not yet old enough to devise the truth behind his words.
Jessica earned her share of the income for the family by fashioning and selling cloth diapers and onesies from discarded clothes and linens she acquired around Neso.  Her steadfast focus and taut needlework were unmatched anywhere on the colossus and earned her a reputation as a formidable seamstress – even a fashionable one, since the slow pace of theriopolitan life bred an appreciation for the minutest detail.  Often during the day, Jessica took Zoe and Jacob for leisurely strolls around the titan, seeking fabrics to knit into practical and eye-pleasing textiles for the infants of the city.  The children had made a sport of who could retrieve for their mother the highest quality of materials in a day, and in the largest amount, for which she rewarded them with glacé fruit from a nearby table at market.

At night, after the children had been put to bed, Frank and Jessica sat quietly on the living room couch.  He rested his weary head on her breast, the weight of his head pressing his ear to her heart.  Its rhythmic pumping provided him comfort from his day at work, and he would find himself entranced by its cadence, his eyes growing heavy and closing at an impossibly slow rate.  She ran her fingers through the thin hair behind his temple, trying to feel each strand uniquely despite her calloused fingertips.  He prided himself on having taken on the responsibilities of a husband and father without many of the rewards, courting the widowed Jessica with a sense of benevolence accompanying his affections.  In turn, she had but little affection for him beyond friendship, but something about them seemed to work, and he was good with her children.  They made love in their bedroom, performing silently and in darkness, owing as much to the expiration of their romance’s confident passion as to their fear of waking the children.   Over the last several years, both their bodies had begun to sag and there were no mysteries to discover in performing the sex act together.  Even still, when Frank and Jessica were physically intimate, they copulated desperately, their eyes closed and breaths shallow in saudade, holding each other tightly, searching blindly for something that they would never find.

The second century of life atop the great beasts began with as much uncertainty as did the first.  Mankind reveled in its celebration of 100 years above the poisonous fog that blanketed the Earth’s surface, but even as the final bell rang over City Hall on Neso, its chime echoing off the high walls of the city triumphantly, it blew an ill wind through some of the town’s more politically-minded residents. 

[A very spoiler-filled paragraph summarizing Wandering City Blues would be right here but I removed it from this blog for the sake of those of you who haven't read it. -JL.]

Two more years passed.  International relations deteriorated at a slow but unwavering pace.  Neso’s government hedged its bets, making excuses about fiscal calendars and complicated import/export agreements with Sao to avoid cutting off relations with the rogue titan without vocally denouncing it.  In the spring of 102 P.A., in response to Neso’s refusal to distance itself from Sao, the Alliance decreed that a battalion of soldiers from multiple colossi, newly trained by an experienced cadre of law enforcement, would be deployed to occupy Neso’s streets.  On the surface, their reasoning was to protect Neso from the danger and corruption of Sao’s influence, but it was said in many a tavern around the world that the decision was made to punish Neso for its disobedience.

Frank had never fully accepted the rationing of his family’s crops by the Nesoan government some 25 years prior.  The memories of his mother thinning their dinners and his father’s futile attempts to store away some of his vegetables remained a vivid and impressing influence on his societal and political views.  He needed but close his eyes to recall the detestable thrips tabaci eating so many of the Wurzels’ neighbors’ onions and tomatoes and the subsequent food shortage of 77.  Several adults had said that the McCullough family likely brought the bugs back from their visit to Nereid since their vegetables seemed to be hit the earliest and hardest.  In young Frank’s mind, that was enough to warrant an investigation that he was sure would lead to legal punishment, but this lead turned up nothing in the eyes of Neso’s elected officials and the agricultural rations had followed instead.  It birthed a paradigm in Frank about government overreach – a paradigm that was nourished frequently since he regularly served as audience to the tirades and inebriated ramblings of his father until death took him in 86.  Following the infestation, the justice denied the victims of the Moscow Tower Incident in 82 and Frank’s father’s influence on him, it was with a sense of foreboding and disapproval that he received the news of the occupying force that would soon fill their city.

The first of the allied troops boarded Neso on August 18th, 102 P.A..  The storms of autumn came conspicuously early that year, the troops’ arrival marking the first of 10 straight days of rainfall.  It was murmured through Nesoan neighborhoods that it was a bad omen.  As the soldiers’ boots marched uneasily through the streets, fat drops of rain fell noisily on their covers, but it wasn’t enough to deter the locals from staring at the company from retailers’ awnings and residential overhangs.

Ran our first patrol today.  The CO told us at boot camp we wouldn’t be makin’ no friends here, but I don’t think nothing could’ve prepared me for the reception we got.  We only been on Neso two days but if the spittin’ and whisperin’ is anything to go by, these folks have had their fill of us.  They hate us worse than the fog.  I kept my eyes forward and hands to myself, but for the first time, I’m truly glad to have my issued sidearm.  Every sunrise brings me a day closer to returning to you and the baby.  You’re always with me.
- A letter from PFC James “Sandy” Sanders to his wife Susan, dated 8/19/02

A half a dozen fights broke out between Neso citizens and Allied soldiers in as many weeks upon their arrival.  The most uneasy of these conflicts involved the squaring off of a drunken group of local rain catchers against a small patrol unit in November of 102.  They met on the narrow staircase drilled into the leftmost of the twin spinosaurus-like fins that ran along Neso’s back.  The staircase was narrow enough that the rain catchers, heading down to deposit their weekly records at the water treatment center after several rounds at a tavern, effectively blocked the soldiers from beginning their patrol on the upper deck of the city.  Voices were raised, the men began pushing one another for the right of way and a local tumbled over the handrail on the staircase, following in a drop that would’ve ended his life had he not broken his fall on and demolished a uniquely high-built rooftop garden constructed along the outside of a lower flight of the same stairs. 


The unrest would likely have continued indefinitely, but the combination of the rain catcher’s near-death experience and the arrival of more Alliance troops soon thereafter sobered the residents of Neso and a shaky truce was formed.

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