Over the years I have written what feels like hundreds of story fragments, endless snatches of prose poetry, a dozen random horror stories and tons of incomplete plot sketches. After sifting through these endless TXT and DOC files, I’ve uncovered about fifteen short stories of any worth. They’re finished, and some have a lot of potential, but I’ve never done anything with them other than send them out to a couple of friends for their immediate reactions.
Now, with my novel finished (well, alright, merely the first draft, but still!), I’ve decided to take Stephen King’s advice and focus on something else. I relish the break – it’s been a long, lonely slog with only a handful of characters for company down the length of that novel, and I’m looking forwards to playing with different points of view, trying my hand at different styles, and getting to write about different characters.
Towards that end, I’ve printed out a bunch of my short stories and am now going to go over them one by one with a red pen, editing and working them over so as to perhaps begin sending them out to magazines. Some of them are ancient (I wrote ‘Free Fall’ while in college) while the latest was completed but a month ago. Their subject matter is all over the place, from horror yarns to science fiction to character studies to magic realism.
Here’s a shot I snapped off of them piled up on my desk:
In no particular order, they are (I’m going to write out their hooks so as to get a feel for them, what they’re about at their core):
Electric Heart Koi (2003): In a Blade Runner styled future, a lonely grounds keeper works to perfect a synthesis of machine and fish that he hopes to sell as living art, and in doing so provide himself with a ticket out of his squalid world. Just as he’s on the verge of succeeding, however, a young waif fleeing the riots turns up on his doorstep, and challenges him to examine the morality of his choices.
Blind Dog (2006): A former Jesuit in training turned mortgage broker seeks to impress the cold hearted and beautiful top producer in his company by making as much cash as possible. But when the opportunity to rip off an old lady with a disturbing German Shepherd comes along, strange visions and memories of the past come forth to disturb his quest for success.
Funeral Thoughts (2006) (working title): When a young man’s ex-girlfriend reportedly kills herself mere months after their break up, he can’t help but be flattered and horrified both. Resolving to attend her funeral, he encounters her sister by the freshly dug grave and learns more about himself than he had ever wished discover.
Cruel Red Mouth Like a Venemous (2006) A WWI vet freshly returned from the trenches encounters a mesmerizing young nurse who urges him to resist the accepted wisdom of blocking ones memories and instead vividly relive his traumatizing experiences with her. As his passion for her grows, so does his burgeoning suspicion that her interest in him is more than mere prurience or passion, but rather of a depraved kind that exceeds the horrors he witnessed in the war.
Megaera (2003): A cold blooded killer believes he has pulled off the perfect crime until one rainy night he is confronted by one of the ancient Greek Furies, come to avenge his murdered wife.
How Does It Feel? (2006): A scientific prodigy seeks to create genetic duplicates of himself and the woman that scorned him in order to stimulate true love in a modern Garden of Eden.
Me and Mrs. Jones (2006): In a post-holocaust world, two robots meet each evening by the light of the dying sun in an endless dance of courtship, until a gang of human survivors break into their haven in an attempt to wreak that which they don’t understand.
Coral Beds In The Growing Gloom (2006) (working title): At the ends of the earth on the perfect beach, a young man contemplates his life, his past, and why he hasn’t slept with the girl he’s been camping with.
Carbon 12, Carbon 13 (2007): Scientific advances in space travel and memory logging result in a trap that sends an estranged couple mad as they voyage alone towards a distant star system.
Free Fall (1999): A short short in which a mother keys into her young son’s tragic attempt to find his dead father via the myth of Icarus.
Velocidad (2005): In a wine bar on the Lower West Side, a man contemplates lost loves after a final meeting with an ex-girlfriend.
Cold Fever (2001): Feverish and alone in the frozen depths of Northern Maine, a man is hunted by an implacable zombie girl who won’t take no for an answer.
The Monk (2005): A cruel tyrant kidnaps a monk, and engages him in an ultimately fatal exchange about faith, truth, and earthly resolve.
Strange Horizons (2005): A series of SF cliches are explored and tested to see if any tales of worth can yet be wrested from their worn and withering grasp.