The last thing I need is to juggle more fiction. I already have an entire blog, Tales of the Whethermen, devoted to a world increasingly populated by super-powered people, and in it I have an ongoing, ultimately novel-length (I suspect) series along with numerous short stories. I also have the in-hiatus “Cleansed by Fire” sci-fi epic I began here at this blog and will probably return to one day in the foreseeable future.
Not to mention two erotic fiction blogs I maintain under another identity that need to be populated with stand-alone short stories and which also have multiple ongoing series that need to be worked on.
Furthermore, I started a novel last year, “Necroverts” for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which is coming up again. I never got far with it because all the other fiction-writing ate up my time, and have been considering whether I should try to write it for real this year.
So, naturally, with all that, I would have a line pop into my head yesterday that stuck with me, and makes me think there is a very large story to go with it (*sigh* need more hours in the day):
The Earth is round, but the world is flat. And it has edges.
And so today, I quickly wrote a scene that I think might be the first one in a future novel. What do you think?
“I probably won’t be seeing you again, Little Rogue,” the man said, ruffling the hair of his granddaughter as if she were still eight instead of a woman of 28. He was still hale and hearty, though well into his 70s, and even with a little hunching of his back, he still stood nearly six feet tall, well over Anna’s height. “I’ll be sailing toward the edge of the world tomorrow.”
Anna almost laughed at the joke, until she realized how grave and serious his tone was. It confused her. Papa Vlad had always been a religious man, but he also voraciously read philosophy and science books. He’d never been a superstitious type, so she could only assume he was teasing her.
“The edge of the world, eh, Papa Vlad? There be dragons…” she trailed off with a smile as she looked up into his face. His eyes were still serious, but now there was a distance in them as well, as if he were looking past her into some far-off landscape.
“Dragons would be more welcome, I think, than what actually lives there,” he said gravely. “I wouldn’t tell many people this, Anna—my Little Rogue. I tell you, I am taking a ship to the edge of the world, and I doubt I will return. If I do, it will likely not be me as I once was, and you should run.”
“You believe in a flat Earth, Papa Vlad? That doesn’t seem like you. That’s not rational. The Vatican even gave up on that centuries ago.”
“Flat Earth?” he said, and managed a short, hearty laugh despite the stoniness of his face. “No, my granddaughter, the Earth is round. It is a sphere—an ovoid—as it always has been. It still circles the sun and spins on its axis. The world, though, is a different story altogether. Flat as can be. With edges aplenty, often razor-sharp ones.”
“What are you talking about?” Anna asked, not simply perplexed but now worried for her grandfather’s mental health.
“The Earth is round, Anna,” he said. “The world is flat, with many layers.”
He hugged her hard, kissed the top of her head for nearly a minute, and then he stood. Without another word, he left the room.
That had been five years ago.
She thought he’d never come back from the edge of the world. Yet there he was, seated on a bistro table outside a café, sipping from a steaming cup, with an iPad in front of him and a newspaper off to the side.
Anna wondered if she should run as Papa Vlad had warned her. But instead, she walked up to the table where he sat. She looked into his face. The set of the lines in it was different; crueler perhaps, or maybe just more indifferent. The eyes were still sharp, but no longer warm. As he set down his tea and looked at her, she realized he recognized her, yet didn’t. As if he knew her history and her name but nothing about her heart. She was data to him; something anonymous. Not his granddaughter.
This was not Papa Vlad, though it was his body. Anna almost did run then, but forced her quivering legs to stay rooted.
“Which layer of the world did Papa Vlad’s ship travel, and what did he find at the edge of it?” she asked, the words seeming alien on her tongue for the absurdity of what they described. “More to the point, who are you and how do I find him instead of just this body he left behind?”