I finally have my March contribution to Out of Print up and ready for view. I learned a couple things from this one. Don’t write while ill, for starters. Half this story came out while I was running a fever and popping pain killers just so I could swallow down some tea. Secondly, it’s difficult for me to write short stories. The concepts my brain creates like to go on tangents that aren’t suitable for under 7,500 words. Also, sometimes the strongest ideas take the most work to flesh out. I thought I had this one in the bag, but it gave me almost as much trouble as ‘Techniques in Grafting’ did. Finally, I learned that computers just hate me. I don’t know what key combo I pressed but when I finally, finally got to the revision stage Scrivener randomly got stuck on auto-delete. Whole paragraphs started back-spacing before my horrified eyes. There was much cursing.
In any case, if you’ve got some time and like a decent dystopian fantasy(ish) story, go check it out.
“Please, Alp, reconsider. This isn’t wise.”
“You worry needlessly,” he replied with the laugh in his voice that Deniz hadn’t appreciated since they were small children. “It’s a petition, not a revolution.”
“But you know how the Serdar deals with threats. He’ll have you silenced for sure!”
“Me, Deniz? The Serdar and I have been long been friends. We cut through the mercenaries of Gelenek and the tribesmen of Karma to carve out a life here. We shared a common goal for Fert. Once.” His voice trailed as the Tower’s sagging imperial dome broke into view, dominating the flat, awkwardly asymmetrical construction of the streets below. The heavy gold finial slouched to the east over the marble parapets that had been known to slide free in great slabs. One block had even crushed a man, once. The sight of it terrified Deniz, but Alp had never shared her common sense.
“Alp please, think of what happened to Kųs. All he did was question the Serdar’s leadership and the next thing you know the bagum surrounded him in the streets, beat him senseless, and burnt down his shop.”
“I do think of Kųs. And all the others the Serdar has sent his secret police after. But as long as there’s still someone left to raise a voice for the people—“
“They cut out his tongue, Alp.”
“—there is still a chance to speak as reasonable men.”
Deniz wasn’t so sure.
“Could you not just send them a letter? Anything but going into that tower? People don’t come out of there… whole.” Bile rose against her tongue, but she swallowed it down again.
Her brother paused and turned, and took both of her shoulders in his hands.
“No, Deniz. I will meet the Serdar and the council on their own floor. I am not a coward, and I am not weak. Every man is equal in Fert, from the one-legged beggar to the Serdar’s seat on the council. I will have him remember that.”
“Please, Alp. You’re all I have,” she begged. His eyes swam over her face, while hers remained fixed on his brow. If only she could just penetrate that thick skull of his, make him see that a live brother under the shadow of the Tower was worth more to her than a dead one aside of it.
“Fear nothing,” he told her at last, then kissed her forehead and turned away to disappear between two sleepy looking sentries who were tilted forward against their spears, as wilted as the Tower itself.