I spent time this evening trying to create some semblance of order to some of the short fiction I’ve written, including a number of pieces I’ve posted here. My objective is to collect pieces that might reasonably be said to contain a common thread, then weave them together as a collection. Many of the pieces are just vignettes that would need work to flesh them out to the extent that they’re actually stories. Once the shell exists, though (and it does with virtually all of them), fleshing them out becomes a matter of imagining the scenes coming alive and then letting my fingers carry them forward toward a satisfactory conclusion. It’s not as simple as scrambling eggs, but it’s not microsurgery on unborn seahorses, either. The trick, I think, will be finding the common thread. To illustrate the challenge, here are just a few I’ve been considering:
- Out to Sea, in which two men are beginning a very long walk across a stretch of South Africa, during which one of them relates facts and figures about Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, the main settlement of the island of Tristan da Cunha. We don’t yet know the purpose of their long trek, though we know one of the two of them would rather be making the trip by car.
- Surgical Misstep, which takes place during a surgery in which the patient is awake. A device is first connected to his occipital lobe through a painless process, which enables the patient to see what the surgeon sees. He then watches her connect an electronic prosthetic to the stump of his arm (blown off in a fireworks explosion), and finally is able to control the device. But then something goes suddenly and perhaps catastrophically wrong.
- ¿Son Otras Inquisiciones?, a tale in which the narrator relates his experiences traveling with Jorge Luis Borges in Europe, including flying Borges’ plane, drunk, and having a psychotic episode. He describes the psychotic episode to Borges and says Borges’ ideas for The Book of Imaginary Beings arose from those descriptions.
- Fulcrum, a vignette in which a would-be writer with bit of a drinking problem finally writes something of consequence. The words he wrote lead him to look at suicide as the inevitable outcome of his failures.
- Fairytales on Acid for Demented Adults, a mashup vignette involving the Seven Dwarfs, Santa Clause, Goldilocks, Sinbad the Sailor, and others, in which the characters sit in a restaurant in Berlin, discussing criminal enterprises they might pursue to pay their bills. The characters are at odds with one another from the start.
- The Story of Steve, telling the tale of a now-dead man who learned to communicate with ants, compiling an enormous fortune through that communication before his death.
- Sharecroppers, a short but convoluted tale in which the descendants of sharecroppers who build enormous wealth, triggered by the bequeath of land, grow their empire by raising herds of unicorns and, later, dragons.
And these are just a few of the more outlandish ones. The more serious stories, in which characters develop a bit, are in contention, as well. As I was going through posts, I came across one from 2012 that had a title similar to one I posted just days ago: Weather Forecast. Here’s that post, in its entirety:
Today: Expect cataclysmic thunderstorms, some capable of producing epic floods and nuclear-force winds, to form before noon today along a line from Anchorage, Alaska to the western edge of Iceland. A line of massive thunder showers was observed moments ago by Channel 666 weather-spotters from the western edge of the state of North Dakota to Nova Scotia, moving south-southeast at the speed of thought. Doppler radar has confirmed the ferocity of these storms and their potential to cause volcanic eruptions, polar shifts, and the transmogrification of time. With cloud-tops reaching past the troposphere and stratosphere into the mesosphere, these fierce storms threaten to flush the skies of air, water, and hope.
Tonight: Considerable cloudiness with occasional rain showers. Low of 41F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 50%.
Tomorrow: Solar winds that could incinerate the northeastern seaboard of the U.S. and boil the northern parts of the western Atlantic ocean are forecast for the morning, with gradual weakening throughout the day. Temperatures during peak solar windstorms could exceed 10,000 F but should drop to -75 F by mid afternoon in effected areas.
Tomorrow Night: Considerable cloudiness with occasional rain showers. Low of 41F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 50%.
Wednesday: Expect huge swarms of EF-5 tornadoes and category 5 hurricanes, exacerbated by magnitude 9.9 earthquakes that give rise to devastating tsunamis worldwide. Large pieces of the moon, which was unexpectedly shredded by massive new gravitational forces of the sun on Sunday, along with shrapnel from the explosions of Mars and Venus, are expected to rain on the eastern Atlantic Ocean and northern Europe throughout the day.
Wednesday Night: Considerable cloudiness with occasional ice showers. Low of -540F. Winds light and variable. Chance of layers of atmosphere, crytalized into ice, crashing to the surface of the planet 50%.
Thursday: Due to geotechnical difficulties, our computer models are incapable of providing a Thursday forecast.