Each day for the past two weeks I’ve been writing a story in one hour, taking a screenshot of it, and attaching it as an image to a tweet — they’re generally a screen long and definitely a violation of Twitter’s 140 character limit. It’s fun to scope a story to super short pieces, explore whimsical sci-fi ideas, try different tones and styles, and spend a moment or two with some characters.
The other day me and Sean were over at Mathew Borrett’s place and he showed us how he’d ported some of his mind-blowing HyperNurnia series created for 2D display into virtual reality. A few minutes after I took off the Oculus googles I knew what my one hour story was going to be that day. Above is the landscape that inspired the following story, click to enlarge and if you have a VR headset and the wherewithal here’s the stereo file. After the story, deets on how to get my graphic novel, Therefore Repent!, for free.
David watched his son rock back and forth in his chair and knew it was just a matter of time before he fell over and hurt himself.
“Harry,” he said.
His son stopped, stared at him defiantly. “What?”
“You know what.”
He stopped, swung his arm over the back of the chair. “Did you bring the cards?”
Goddamnit. “No, they’re packed in our luggage.”
“How could you be bored?” David blurted. He threw his arm around at the vista of colourful towers, bulbous temples, strange shimmering spires of crystal. “This is HyperNurnia. It’s literally a magical kingdom. You–” can’t be bored died on his lips as he felt his father’s words almost emerge from his mouth.
Harry stared sullenly at him. David noticed a small house he hadn’t seen before against the main parapet of the building they were sitting outside of. “Go look at that doll house,” he said, trying to turn what was clearly a command mid-sentence into a fun suggestion.
Harry slid off his chair and slumped over to the little structure.
David turned his attention to the mind blowing, once-in-a-lifetime view his kid was incapable of appreciating. At his age, he would have loved to go with his old man on a trip. Granted, SarDonia wasn’t going to be super-interesting for a kid, but he’d arranged for some interesting stop-overs on the way, like this one. And transdimensional travel? How many 7-year-olds get to do that?
In the distance, a multicoloured monorail slid out of a tunnel and across a thin set of tracks. Like, Harry loves trains, David groused to himself and he isn’t even appreciating the hoverrails like these —
“Harry!” David said, realizing Harry was missing it, “Check this out!”
The monorail was half-way across the tracks.
“No, check this out, Dad!”
David got up and ran to the little doll house. “Look at the–”
“No, you look, Dad!” Harry said, pointing in a window of the little house.
He gestured frantically at the train, the tail of which just disappeared into the tunnel. His shoulders collapsed.
“They’re so tiny,” Harry said, his eyes circles of wonder.
David looked in the house, defeated. And saw, inside, a tiny little living room, a tiny little couch, a tiny candelabra. With tiny little people.
“Hey,” David said. That’s not possible was the next thing he wanted to say, but couldn’t.
“There’s a little kid in there, too, but he went away. Upstairs or something. I think he was scared of me.”
“Well, sure he was,” David says. “Imagine how big you are to him.” In the room there was a man reading a book, and David couldn’t resist tapping on the window with his fingernail.
The man, smoking some kind of hookah, got up and — with a pointed glower — pulled the curtains forcefully closed.
David and Harry looked at each other and laughed.
A curtain in another part of the house moved then, but then went stil. “I think that was the kid,” said Harry.
A bleeping started behind them. “Transfer point initialized,” said the calm recorded voice. “Next stop, SarDonia.”
David grabbed Harry’s hand and they walked towards the Portal’s faintly reflective rectangle shape.
Harry looked back. “That place was cool, Dad,” he said, looking up at David.
David felt something in him relax, and he gave his son’s hand a squeeze before they stepped through the Portal. “Yep.”
I’m going to be collabbing more with artists (like you, maybe? Get in touch!) as I continue to do these #onehourstories (which you can enjoy more of via my Twitter or Medium feed) which makes this month’s 15th anniversary giveaway particularly relevant — it’s the graphic novel Therefore Repent! which was a collaboration with the talented Salgood Sam.
What if the religious right… are actually right?
Without warning, multitudes of Christians float bodily up into the sky.
For the immoral majority, life goes on pretty much as usual.
Except that after the Rapture, magic works — for those willing to risk demonic mutations.
“It’s completely nuts… It’s a book about what if the Rapture actually happened, and that’s all I’m gonna tell you.” —Junot Díaz, 2008 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction
“Therefore Repent! is an absolutely boundless piece of fantasy that he wisely grounds in very human relationships… to say it’s an imaginative work would be an understatement: ‘unhinged’ is probably more accurate. I can’t wait for more.”— Robert J. Wierseman, Quill & Quire
Back cover copy & more blurbs here.
Free in August: Angry Young Spaceman (now pay-what-you-want)
Free in September: Everyone In Silico (now pay-what-you-want)
Free in October: Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask (now pay-what-you-want)
Free in November: An Opening Act of Unspeakable Evil (now pay-what-you-want)
Free in January: Sword of My Mouth (illustrated by Shannon Gerard)