Interlude: Christmas Shoppin’

Not a lot to report again. Last night’s Westworld marathon was brilliant[1], with an amazing dinner of jugged hare that Mr. BRKN shot (with a bow!) in the field in front of our house in our front yard, for the purposes of strict legality.

[1] What a series of twists, what a cool story. I’m going to have to watch it again now that I know roughly what’s going on, and also so I can hear more than 17% of what’s happening. Why do we try to watch complicated-arse shows with noisy-arse people? Oh right, because they’re excellent people. But still, I’ll be rewatching.

The hare was delicious, well-cooked by Mrs. Hatboy, the wine and gin and snacks were great, and … okay, the salty liquorice potato chips[2] were pretty awful, but the rest was nice.

[2] Seriously.

Today, we Christmas shopped. Majority of prezzies taken care of, cards posted to the rellies in Australia, and a free lunch at Burger King[3]. Still a few things to post, and a few things to take care of, but very pleased with the progress.

[3] For real. A Trainee (not his real name) at Burger King last time messed up my order, giving me a Whopper with cheese instead of a double Whopper with cheese. I asked for the right burger, and they gave me a double Whopper without cheese. I asked for the right burger again, and got the right burger and a pair of free meal coupons. Which Mrs. Hatboy and I ate today. Also I filled out the online questionnaire so I get a free Whopper next time, too. God, I’m a tightarse and I love it.

Tonight, the final Harry Potter movie on DVD with Wump.

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The Myconet, Part 19

I pushed myself to my feet and dusted my pants off. It was hot, and dry, and bright light shone in through the windows and through the slats in the door and a couple of other gaps – this was basically how I knew something funky had happened and I’d wound up back in time.

Okay, so that was something of an assumption on my part. It was just possible that I’d stepped into the full and active replica of the olden-days town, complete with artificial light and heat sources – yes, and smell – and I was in fact still underneath the L&E tower. It was possible. It was also possible that I’d simply stepped through a gateway of some kind and wound up in another point in space, somewhere outside the city where it was summer and not overcast and not slimy. It was possible that I’d stepped through a door, and either been knocked out or slipped some kind of powerful hallucinogen or hypnotic suggestion, and this wasn’t really happening at all.

Oh yes, there were plenty of explanations. They just weren’t all that likely.

The thing you have to remember is, whatever had happened to set off the curse of the Barnsley Yard Cookhouse Trumpet, it had echoed up and down time between the point at which Creepy had tooted on the darn horn, and the point at which the Barnsley Yard Cookhouse was actually a real building in the middle of a prison complex filled with doomed convict salt miners. Something had sent the lake rising, something had sent the bodies to the surface, something had awakened the restless spirit of the old prison camp. It just made sense that, close to the epicentre of a multidimensional event like this, there be a certain amount of interchange, folding, and overlap of chronological profiles.

For Creepy and me, Occam’s razor was a murder weapon.

I was in a plank-floored, log-walled, shingle-roofed house that looked like some sort of administration building from back in the day when “administration” meant “a big crate of papers and a table for a literate person to sit at.” There was nobody around, the table was empty apart from an inkwell, and I could hear pink-and-grey galahs and the sound of men shouting and digging or something in the distance. The heat, baking in from the walls and down from the ceiling, was like an oven.

I looked behind me, and was only slightly surprised to find that I’d stepped out of an equipment cupboard that now contained a broom, a rifle, a couple of hammers and someone’s heavy navy-blue felt coat with polished brass buttons, an item of clothing which made me almost pass out from heatstroke just looking at it. There was no sign of the cool, clammy darkness of the basement I’d left behind. Shrugging to myself, I turned back and surveyed the room – arguably the first office ever to occupy the approximate site of the L&E tower – again.

Aside from the table and the cupboard and a couple of crates, there were no furnishings. Not even a chair, a fact which I found momentarily arresting. There was a pair of windows with glass too impure to see out of – and the light was too blazing-bright anyway – and a single poorly-fitted door.

I strode forward, opened it, and stepped outside.

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The Myconet, Part 18

It didn’t take long, shuffling through the slightly-manky darkness, for me to realise that the L&E tower basement was quite a bit more spacious than I would have expected. I don’t actually know much about how skyscrapers work, because I’m not an architect or an engineer, but I always sort of assumed that they had a lot of concrete and steel girders and stuff in their foundations, because they have to bear a lot of weight. At the very least, I would have assumed their subterranean levels to be smaller, more solidly built, or to have a whole mess of load-bearing walls and pillars and stuff to help support them.

Even in a usually-fairly-dry city, without the risk of – for example – the sudden appearance of a salt-lake filled with decaying corpses, you’d want a good solid foundation. I don’t know, maybe the darkness was playing its usual trick, making an unknown space seem that much bigger. But when I finally did reach a wall, it was quite a long way away from the threads of light from the trapdoor. And it seemed to be made of wooden planks instead of concrete.

Now say what you like about my lack of expertise, but I firmly believe that wooden planks at least have no place in a skyscraper foundation.

I supposed, as I felt around blindly, that the planks could be some kind of fashionably rustic cladding on the concrete for the purposes of … I don’t know, I’m no more an expert on skyscraper interior design than I am on their architecture. Maybe the basement held some sort of Olden Times museum display of buildings and stuff that had been here back in the time of the Barnsley Prison Yard, with some replica houses and … I’m not sure why there were no lights and the only way into it was through a trapdoor in lost and found. Look, it was just a theory.

I felt my way along the planks, which were smooth and slightly slimy as befitted a poorly-irrigated cellar but – as I said – really didn’t befit a below-ground level of the L&E tower. Maybe, I thought in a very vague and uncertain way, this was a behind-the-scenes part of the historic L&E replica village of yesteryear, and the main – and fully-lit – entrance to the exhibit was from somewhere else in the building. I’d just wandered in through an almost-unused back way, that employees of the lost and found had been using as a secret route for generations, assuming of course that any employee of the lost and found actually succeeded in breeding.

My theory, I felt, was coming along really well, right up until the moment I found the outline of a door in the planks, and I opened it and fell through into Barnsley Prison Yard.

See, this is why there are theories, and then laws.

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The Myconet, Part 17

Day 85. 315 pages, 101,664 words.

Yeah, this “short story” just refused to let go of me. I’m going to stop the count at this point, since I don’t think this “count by the story” system is working out anyway. It might have worked if I’d done one 5,000-word story every week or two, but these are obviously not manageable. For now, let’s focus on the release of Human, then see where the anthology is at.

The cool, dark, slightly manky basement was, I had to acknowledge, a slightly more appropriate setting to find a mushroom.

“Hatboy,” the Myconet said, serene as ever. She was scarcely visible in the darkness, illuminated with a sort of pallid glow that might have been a result of my straining eyes trying to pick out the shape of her, or might have been her own mild phosphorescence.

“Don’t take this the wrong way,” I said, “but are you following me?”

“That is a more confusing question than I think you know.”

I shook my head. “Never mind,” I said. “It’s just unusual to see you twice in one day. What brings you down here?”

She didn’t answer immediately. “It seemed the most logical course,” she finally said, “considering that you would be unable to traverse the city using the surface streets, and that you would be searching for a way to get underground. Perhaps I saw it in your future, and wished to take the opportunity to demonstrate my powers – just in case you had begun to doubt them.”

“Never,” I said loyally, and grinned in the dark. “So you did turn up here just to see me? It must have been something important.”

“Perhaps I was here to talk to Rose.”

“Right, like you had a meeting with Mister Hammersmith upstairs?” I rolled my eyes, then realised what she’d said. “Aha – Rose was here, then?”

“You know she was.”

“Fine,” I said. “Did you happen to see which way she went?” There was a long silence. “If you’re pointing one of your tentacle things,” I said, “you know I can’t actually see it in the dark, right?”

“I was pointing one of my tentacle things.”

I tsked. “Okay,” I said, “well unless you have anything of driving importance to tell me, I’m afraid I’ll have to wish you a good day and do my best to find my way back to the surface, preferably in some part of the city that isn’t flooded with carcass-slime.”

“The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be for you to escape,” the Myconet warned. “And the more people will suffer as a result.”

“No pressure, then.”

“I will do what I can to guide you.”

“What, like that pointing you were just doing?” I tried to moderate the sarcasm in my tone. “Sorry, but maybe a more direct verbal set of instructions ‑ ”

“You do not need my assistance in finding your way to Collins square,” the Myconet said. “Your disagreement with Rose, the mystery of the Prism, even your inadvertent awakening of the Barnsley Yard Cookhouse Trumpet’s curse ‑ ”

My inadvertent awakening ‑ !”

“These are not important. These are small rooms, the details of which are unimportant and therefore invisible to me. I have faith that you will find your way through them.”

“So the guiding you were planning on doing,” I frowned, “something more important, then? A bigger metaphorical room, perhaps a metaphorical house?”

“You are distracted,” the Myconet said. “I will come to you when you are ready.”

That was the Myconet for you. “Um, well, okay,” I said, and shuffled across the black, mouldy-smelling basement in the hopes of finding a wall. Too late, I realised I should probably have taken better care to ensure I could find the ladder-stairs thing again … but when I looked up, I could make out a faint, fine square of light outlining the trapdoor. That, at least, should help me get my bearings. “Thanks for the tip about Rose, and I guess I’ll talk to you later.”

“I hope it will not be too late.”

I turned back in puzzlement to where the Myconet had been sitting, but of course she was gone.

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The Myconet, Part 16

I climbed down into the trapdoor, immediately regretting my decision but fairly sure it was my only choice.

At least it wasn’t stinky down there, I reflected as I descended the ladder-stairs thing that angled sharply into darkness. By the time I was halfway down the smooth wooden construction, I knew I was past the level the sludge had reached. Whatever else this basement was, it was waterproof.

I’d been wondering how to get back down to the old Yard with the trumpet. Maybe this was my ticket, as well as being my way to the antique shop.

Of course, the question now was whether Rose had taken this route because it would take her to Collins Square, or simply because it was the only clean way out of the building, and was headed somewhere else entirely. A further question was, if there were multiple options available at the bottom of this ladder-stairs thing, how I would be able to figure out which way Rose had gone.

I regretted leaving my torch behind after we’d escaped from the old Yard and made it home. It hadn’t occurred to me that I’d be going back underground so soon, although in retrospect it should have.

I reached the bottom of the sharply-sloped stairs. Waterproof though it may have been, the basement was dank and slightly slimy. Very un-Rose, really – although again, she’d evidently felt she had no choice.

And that was odd, wasn’t it?

I thought about it more as I stepped carefully into the pitch blackness, waiting for my eyes to adjust. The easy solution, for Rose, would have been more or less what I’d theorised about with Marion, wouldn’t it? Replace the specs while I was running down the false lead she’d given me, save face, claim it was all a misunderstanding. She must have known we’d all be fine with laughing it off.

So she was either really invested in getting something for those specs, or they meant something so special to her that she was willing to go to these lengths to keep them … or she was willing to go to these lengths to keep me from getting them back.

Which was weird.

My eyes adjusted.

“Oh,” I said, looking down. “Hello.”

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Interlude: ID6

Day 84. 161 pages, 58,131 words.

Yeah. Nothing today. Fuck it. I’m going to write something at least.

Happy Independence Day, Finland!

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Interlude: Shit Shit Shit Shit Shit

Day 83. 161 pages, 58,131 words.

Ended up with no time to do anything again today. Well, I was able to vent some hysterical sleep-deprivation-related material onto Facebook and Twitter, but I can’t faithfully repost that stuff here on my wwork PC, I need to use my home rig for screenshots.

Also ended up with no time for the writing I wanted to do, although I got a bit done this morning because I got up early. Still not done with short story #3. Maybe this evening. I don’t know. Not that bothered by it, just trying to avoid being a frustrated crank for the girls’ sake.

I went for a walk yesterday, for the first time in ages. It was great. I remember, now, why I do that shit. A whole bunch of short story and Human pieces fell into place and now I just need to get them down on the page.

Independence Day tomorrow, so it’s a day off. Hopefully will spend it working on Christmas stuff with Wump and Toop, that is long overdue and of course none of it is going to make it to Australia by post now. But at least we’ll try.

Additionally, finishing the last couple of chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with Wump, and will be watching the second Deathly Hallows movie just to put it all to bed. I have to say, Fantastic Beasts was a vastly superior movie, even if the book series is a classic. Man, the last few chapters of Deathly Hallows got weird though, didn’t it?

Also heading out to do some Christmas shopping in the company of and with the assitance of – but under no circumstances with – Mr. BRKN today. Long story. Going to get something for my lanttumies.

What else? Oh right, this:


The end. Talk to you later.

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