Today, while going over some of my old files (organizing… or maybe procrastinating from chapter ten revisions), I found a scrap of an old project. Just a single typed page of writing, nothing long or involving. The document properties says that I haven’t touched it since March ’08.
I know it’s mine. I know the characters. It’s based off of an old version of ‘The Artificer’s Angels’. I even recognize some of the turns of phrases that one of the character uses. After a good twenty minutes of strenuous recollection I have an inkling of what might have been going on, but I can’t be sure of that either.
I don’t remember writing it.
The funny thing is that it’s really, really good. The tension is excellent, the conflict hits in the gut, the dialogue has the stiff flow of the very angry, the description is short and vivid. The worst that can be said for it is one or two contradictory narrative lines. And then… and then it ends. In the middle of the scene.
… I kindof want to strangle the author.
(If anyone wants to feel my pain (or tell me that I’m delusional and it’s not that good) I’m posting it unedited under the cut.)
Ess had spent the entire day cutting down improvised targets with his sword, nicking the steel blade as he hacked and raged his way through trees both living and dead, polluting his hands and sword with amber pine-pitch and the dust of the red, layered bark. His boots moved through the scattered clumps of tall yellow grass and dry dust. Twice he stopped, but today it was for water and not because he felt the presence of his siblings, and he felt some comfort, and some resentment, for having slipped out of their prying eyes so easily. The second time he had knelt down by the stream to drink he grew too impatient with even that, because he ran a moment later with his sword in hand and buried it firmly in the trunk of an old tree, almost chopping through to the middle in that swing.
That evening he sat beside his planted sword on one of the many broken logs with his knees curled to his chest, his face cradled in his filthy palms as his fingers combed through his green hair, and secretly, reluctantly even to himself, wished that he was between linen sheets with Merrily: too afraid to even reach out and enjoy how soft her skin was, waiting for her to move to him first and let him know that she’d like him. The image came coupled with the feel of her lips, the smell of sweat and nervous embraces, of whispers that her brothers were just upstairs, so don’t be too loud, and it all left a bitter aftertaste in Ess’ mouth. Eventually he moved to rise, picked up the hilt of his sword.
Again he almost saw linen sheets. He would always know that voice: the uneducated, sloppy, rushed speech was distinct even among the Soarins. He tightened his grip on his sword and turned around quickly. She was halfway down the ridge, picking her way down the steep hill and holding her skirts above her knees. Ess saw his chance and turned to leave before she could reach him.
“Oh, oh no you don’t!” she shouted after him, and from the sounds of it her steps became leaps as she pursued him. “Get over here! You gotta talk to me sooner or later! Ess!”
Ess growled under his breath and turned around again. Oh, he’d talk to her. “What are you doing, Merrily?”
“Looking for you, you big stupid! What’s it look like?” she demanded, now on level ground. She sprinted toward him and only slowed down once she’d gotten near enough to speak without shouting.
“Looking? With your eyes?” Ess snapped.
“I could be deaf and dumb, too, with all these dead trees layin’ about.”
She stopped talking abruptly, short on breath. Ess took the opportunity to speak while he still had it. “I don’t want to be found, if you didn’t notice. I’m not coming back, and I don’t want you to look for me. How did you even get all the way out here?”
“Shadow,” Merrily replied. “The other fellows said that you kept movin’ away from them ‘fore they could catch up. So I got one of the angels without the connection-thingy inside of ’em. I wanted to talk to you…”
“Um. Things…” she replied, rubbing her left hand.
“Sorry. I don’t. Go away please, Miss Soarin.”
“Uh uh. No. I ain’t gonna…” She reached out for him.
Ess brought his arms up and put the blade of his sword between them. “I said go away, Miss Soarin,” he repeated through grit teeth. He could feel his rage building again; a day of killing trees hadn’t seemed to have helped at all. It felt even stronger now, rising from his chest into his throat and constricting his breath.