Five word Flash Fiction Challenge

This week’s Chuck Wendig flash fiction challenge was to pick five words out of ten. I picked Dolphin, Storm, Cube, Ethereal, Library. They had to be not just words used but components of the story. I don’t quite know if I succeeded with that. That’s for you to decide. My word count clocked in at 995.

The Poetry of War

by Trine Toft Schmidt

“Sire”

Davion sighed and looked up from the book. It was not every day the book-searchers managed to dig up a book by Servante.
“Yes Carny, what is it? I do believe my half bell is not yet over.” He let his irritation shine through, which almost always swayed Carny to retreat. Today was one of those times when it did not.

“Commander Alax, sire, he requires your presence urgently on the battlements.” Carny bowed deeply, his back stiff as a board.

Commander Alax of the Dragon Squadron could honestly go bite his tail, but that was not a sentiment to relay to the servants.

Davion carefully closed the fragile book, The Poetry of War, dug up in the ruins of Castle Dunroch. With another sigh he heaved himself up from the deep chair and made his way out of the library.

 

“Commander Alax.” He made sure his voice carried his displeasure. But Commander Alax was not one to be cowed by his liege’s annoyance.

“Sire. There is troubling news from the western rim.” He paused and Davion only just managed not to put his hands around his neck.

“There is always troubling news from the western rim.”

“True sire, but I fear this may be news more troublesome than usual. It is said a cube has been found. By the Westerlings.”

Everything inside Davion softened, from his knees that buckled to his bowels that… well made their presence be known. He grabbed the weathered dark gray rock of the battlement and made sure his knees wouldn’t topple him.

“A cube? But that is impossible.” Rumors of cubes were always swirling about in the main populace, but it was the first time since he was a lad, he had heard it said with any credibility.

“We all thought it was impossible sire, but my spies assure me that it is true. Catiana now has a cube in her possession. And…” he paused. A bead of sweat was making its way through the creases that folded the skin of his face. That alone told Davion that this was no unfounded rumor, this was real. If the Westerlings had a cube, then the Rims would soon be ringing with the trumpets of war.

“By the dragons. War, Commander Alax, it will mean war.” But Commander Alax waved a hand rather forcefully.

“.. And my spies also tell me that Catiana has already begun the march for Lancashire Pass.”

Davion’s knees buckled and he slid down the wall, did not even feel the roughness of the stone tear his shirt nor did he feel it carve a rather deep gash along his spine. War was going to be on them. The first war in five hundred passes and he would be the King to loose the Rims.

 

Carny led him to the northern wall, through the Sea Gate and onto Widows Island, an inlet that ran as a tongue out into the Mild Sea. Here the Sea Widows hung hollow bones in every tree and it was said that you could hear the souls of the dead when the wind howled in them. They hung still and lifeless as the two men passed them.

When they neared the sea Carny pulled in his reins and stopped.

“On the beach sire. She said you should come alone.”

“Who did?” But Carny shook his head and only looked worried.

“You will see sire, but you have to hurry, she is not a patient one.”

 

The gray waves were peaked in white and they were crashing angrily onto the beach, but no wind buffeted Davion as he made his way over the last dune. A woman dressed in emerald green stood on the sand before him. She was ethereal, pale and beautiful, her features elongated and serpentine, her dress hung as a living organism on her flesh. Her was dark hair was auburn and gold. Davion’s mouth dried up and his heart swelled.

“My lady.” His voice rattled in his throat and she smiled and bowed her head ever so slightly.

“King Davion.”

“You are a Sealing.” Again she bowed, acknowledged the fact. For the second time in a week he felt his knees buckle under him. It seemed now was the time of myths. First a cube, then a Sealing. If the dragons woke now he would not be surprised.

“A storm is coming.” Her voice was liquid, it flowed and swelled like waves around him. Legend told that Sealings had but to sing to win a heart. And that the Sea Widows hung the hollow bones in the wind to mimic the sound of singing Sealings, to lead the souls of dead sailors home.

“We offer our alliance.” Her eyes were emerald like her dress and she held his stare.

Davion closed his eyes. Her eyes alone could sway him to do what she pleased, but as King he had to remain more than a man. Her laughter rushed like water on sand.

“I will not demand your soul, King. But we do demand the cube. Give us that and we will fight with you.”

“We have no cube.” He kept his eyes closed and his fists clenched.

“Not yet. But you will. Catiana will loose it and you will happen upon it.”

“Do you tell the future as well as take the souls of our sailors?”

“In a manner of speaking, yes.” The sand under his feet shifted and then she was standing up against him, her dress wet and cold against his chest. His heart stopped. Her salt and seaweed breath tickled his beard and she ran a finger down his cheek, laughed and then the sand shifted underneath him again. He opened his eyes. How could he not?

The Sealing was straddling a huge dolphin at the waters edge. She turned toward him.

“Don’t wait for the dragons to wake, this is not their time. It is ours.”

“You have one moon.” Then she was gone.

Twitter

So I’ve got a Twitter profile, though if you follow me I am probably the most boring tweeter out there. I hardly ever tweet and when I do it is mostly to retweet something someone said so far back in history that it is probably irrelevant to anyone anyway.

What I use twitter for is to keep up with authors out there that are active tweeters, both authers I know and have read, and authors and writers that I don’t know. I use it to book browse and to feel connected to other writers out there even if I don’t really participate. Which for me is important since I don’t really talk much about my writing. Reading tweets islike walking around a huge market quietly listening in on multiple conversations around me, and most of the time what people is talking about are my favorite pass times in the world. Reading and writing.

But listening also shows me how differently other people use Twitter. Some like Ian Rankin (@beathhigh) Stuart MacBride (@StuartMacBride), Joe Hill (@joe_hill), Russel McLean (@RusseldMcLean), Mary Robinette Kowal (@MaryRobinette), Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig)…the list is long, share thoughts, pictures, political views, writerly facts, and tell you about appearances, book signings and book news. They are fun to read and instructive as well.

Then there are the others. The ones who send you a “thank you for following me” tweet when you press follow, like you are doing them a favor. This always causes my guards to slam into place. In my market analogy they are the hawkers, the ones standing on the street corners shouting about their wares to create an interest, or the shop owners who crowd you in the narrow streets and pester you to come in side to look at their books.. They make me feel pressured and coerced. In the real world I call them the tweet spammers. Those who offer no or very few insights into themselves, they publish mostly tweet after tweet of facts and praise about their own books, hoping to make me want to read their books.

To compare let me just pull up a few tweets from two different tweeters:

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These are the last three tweets from author Ian Rankin (26th of March 2013 11.17am)

And from another tweeter:

 

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These are from author Matilda Wren, embedded at the same time as the Ian Rankin tweets, except I culled the second last tweet as it was identical to the last one, just sent 12 hours earlier.

I admit I am biased, I read Ian Rankin regularly, and I do not know Matilda Wren’s books. But nor is that likely to change when this is what she’s doing to make me read them. She has not even made me curious enough to go to amazon and find out about her book. Not once have I clicked her links to find out, because presented with her tweets I get defiant and stubborn. She is trying way way too hard. I’ll most likely unfollow her eventually, defeating her very clear purpose. To make me buy her book.

But writers like Russel McLean and Chuck Wendig who I had never heard about before I followed them on twitter, they make me curious. Not by forcing their books down my throat, but by being living thinking individuals that seem to use twitter, not as a publishing gimmick, but to be themselves.
It is their personalities, shining through their tweets, that make me want to read what they write. Both Chuck Wendig and Russel McLean are wickedly hilarious, and Russel’s next up on the to-buy list.

Tanker om Marco Effekten

Det er efterhånden ved at være et stykke tid siden jeg blev færdig med krimithrilleren Marco Effekten af Jussi Adler-Olsen, og det har hele tiden været min intention at fortælle hvad jeg synes om den, men det har været lidt svært for mig at sætte ord på.

For selv om jeg helt vildt gerne ville elske denne her bog ligeså meget som jeg elsker de fire foregående bøger i serien om Afdeling Q, Carl Mørck, Rosa og Assad, så kan jeg ikke lide den ret meget. Den er faktisk ret kedelig. Velskrevet, men kedelig. Og det i modsætning til de foregående bøger, der er hæsblæsende og fik mig til at bide negle og sejle igennem siderne så hurtigt som jeg overhovedet kunne.

Men først lidt om handlingen:

Marco er en del af Zola’s “familie”, en tigger- og tyvebande der opererer i København. Marco er egentlig for klog til arbejde for den karismatiske og voldelige Zola, men han ikke kender til andet og hans far er også en del af gruppen så han føler ikke han har andre muligheder. Men da han overhører Zola planlægge at ville invalidere ham for at forlænge hans “brugbarhed” stikker han af. Jagtet af Zola’s mænd falder han over en hemmelighed begravet i skoven og nu er det endnu mere nødvendigt at han kommer væk. Lykkeligvis undslipper han Zola og i et par måneder virker det til at han får skabt sig et slags liv, han tjener penge på ærlig vis og drømmer om at få en uddannelse og en fremtid i Danmark.

Men så går det selvfølgelig galt. Zola, der ved at Marco kender den grumme sandhed, har sat alle sejl ind for at finde ham og det lykkedes ved et tilfælde. Marco bliver opdaget og det lille liv han er ved at opbygge for sig selv falder fra hinanden. Nu er han jaget vildt i rundt i København. Og det er det hans store del af bogen handler om. At skaffe mad, penge og husly, og samtidig finde ud af hvordan han skal komme af med den hemmelighed han bærer.

Imens har Carl Mørck også problemer. På hjemmefronten går ikke alt som planlagt og det eneste lyspunkt er vel egentlig Hardy, der viser sig at have gavn af Mika’s ministreren. På arbejdet er Assad stadig ikke helt rask efter sidste bog’s (Journal 64) genvordigheder og Rosa har fået en tilbeder, nemlig den irriterende sidste års jura-studerende Gordon, der, i Carl’s øjne, mangler en ganske stor del respekt for sine ældre. Internt på politigården er der også nye tiltag undervejs og i det hele taget er Carl Mørck ret hårdt spændt for. Ved et tilfælde bliver Afdeling Q, også blandet ind i sagen om Marco, og så kører historien.

Eller gør den? Marco Effekten er styret af tilfældigheder af mere og mindre sandsynlig karakterer, og jeg synes bare slet ikke det kører.

I de andre bøger i serien er det Carl Mørck og det kaos der befinder sig i og omkring ham, der har den delte hovedrolle sammen med det forhåndværende mysterie. Men i Marco Effekten er der for det første ikke ret meget mystik. Inden for de første hundrede sider er de fleste af hemmelighederne og spillerne præsenteret, og for det andet så har Carl Mørck ikke nok sammenspil med nogen i bogen til andet end at antyde problemer, der hverken får afslutning eller forløsning af nogen art. Der er slet ikke nok tid i selskab med tre-enigheden Carl Mørck, den kompetente rapkæftede goth pige Rosa, eller med seje mystiske Assad.

Marco har overtaget fortællingen og efterlader Carl Mørck som en statist i hans egen bog. Det lider bogen rigtigt meget under. I de foregående bøger er det samarbejdet og handlingerne, detektivarbejdet og de doserede øjenvidneberetninger og afsløringer af hemmelighederne, der giver liv i bøgerne. De driver bogen frem i hæsblæsende og åndenødsfremkaldende fart. Men i Marco Effekten er der bare ikke overraskelser nok til at opretholde spændingen på de 506 sider bogen varer. Det eneste vedvarende spændingsmoment er om Marco gang på gang kan blive ved med at stikke af fra sine mange forfølgere.

Marco’s historie er helt klart indlevende, jeg hepper på ham, gisper lidt af frygt på hans vegne, men side-plottene er kedelige og forudsigelige. Der er for mange skurke og de virker alle karikerede og overfladiske. Set igennem Marco’s øjne er selve Danmark også en skurk. Vi er, som mennesker, for det meste nogle utiltalende bæster. Vi er tillids- og medlidenhedsnærige og vi mistror alt hvad Marco/udlændinge/sigøjnere/østeuropærere viser os. Det bliver i bogen udlagt som om vi udviser realistisk sans, men er samtidigt virkeligt usympatisk.

Et eksempel er de to mænd der tager Marco til sig og giver ham en tryg base at eksistere udfra. Han bliver en del af deres liv i et par måneder, han spiser og sover hos de to mænd, men i selv samme øjeblik katastrofen indtræffer vender de ham hadefuldt ryggen. Hvad han end har optjent af tillid og velvillighed igennem måneders hårdt arbejde forsvinder på mindre end to sekunder. Venskab vender sig til had In the blink of an eye. Dette skift er er forsøgt rationaliseret men er stadig så utroværdigt at jeg måtte bladre tilbage for at finde ud af om jeg havde overset en uheldig handling.

Carl Mørck oplever ganske vist en del ting i bogen, men de virker påtagede og falske. Det rige liv der plejer at foregå omkring ham i hans hus og med hans ekskone, er tilsidesat som små paragraffer et par steder i bogen, men ikke som en vigtig del af Carl Mørcks indre konfliktliv. Dertil bliver der så tilsat nogle nye karakterer til det voksende karaktergalleri, og de forplumrer billedet endnu mere. Der er for mange spillere på banen, for mange at holde styr på og få et forhold til. Især hvis de ikke får mere plads på siderne. Der er tilmed alt for mange skurke, til et så enkelt og basalt motiv som historien egentlig bygger på.Det virker mere som en tirade imod den kapital stærke bankverden end som en ægte farlig gysindgydende FJENDE. De mange tynde lag af historien er ikke særligt velfunderede og logiske.

De eneste små lysglimt er Assad og Rosa. De driver det, der er godt i denne historie. Mysteriet om Assad får mere energi og det kribler i fingrene af mig for at finde ud af hvad hans hemmelighed er. Assads kamel analogier er hysterisk morsomme og Carl’s og Assads dialog er stadig uovertruffen. Rosa er kompetent, rapkæftet og tyve skridt foran Carl Mørck til enhver tid. Det er bare ikke nok til at gøre Marco Effekten til en spændende bog. Den halter i mål, med en enkelt lilleoverraskelse eller to. Den store forløsning indfinder sig ikke.

Synes jeg så du skal lade være med at læse denne bo? Jeg synes godt du kan springe den over. Hvis du vil, så skal du læse den for de små detaljer der gemmer sig hist og her, især om Assad. Om de er nødvendige i den fortsatte fortælling om Afdeling Q, kan jeg selvfølgelig ikke spå om.

Flash Fiction time again.

This week Chuck Wendig sent us to this theyfightcrime.org to get a flash fiction prompt.  The site presents you with the most amazing, if a little repetitive, crime-fighting duos.

I think I refreshed twenty times and in the end I chose “He is an ungodly neurotic werewolf in drag. She is a time-traveling stripper with an evil twin sister. They fight crime!”

This was much harder than the last prompt, there’s a lot of characteristics to fit in and a 1000 words is so constricting for me. Good practice though. Word count is 999 in Scrivener.

Blood

by Trine Toft Schmidt

Serapheena stepped back from the door to room 3251 and spread her arms in a mock welcome. Corwin eyed her suspiciously and she smiled her good-girl smile and held his gaze.

Out of the corner of her eyes she could see the cops look at him, talking about him with tight lips and beady eyes. They were probably all holding their breaths, waiting for the inevitable. Corwin, as always, was oblivious to the attention.

His eyes flickered, and Serapheena widened her smile. He stepped around her and into the room.

“FUCK ALMIGHTY” His voice was two octaves lighter as he stumbled backwards out into the hallway.

A beat-cop high-fived his partner in the periphery of her sight. It was a show, the Chief Inspector of the Time-Core City Force, afraid of blood.

“Fuck you Seph.” He sneered at her and she grinned at him.

“I can give you a lap dance Cor, but you gotta pay.” He scowled and returned to the doorway and its relative safety. The blood started two feet from the door.

Serapheena stepped closer and surveyed the room over his shoulder. The blood covered everything. The floor, the furniture, the walls, the ceiling, it even dripped from the chandelier in slow sticky drips.

“Has anyone been in there?”

“The bell hop. There was a request, placed last night, to pick up luggage before check out. He opened the door to this.” She slid next to Corwin and pointed down on the floor. “He made it a few steps into the room before noticing.” An outline of a single footprint hung suspended in the blood, Corwin followed her pointing finger and she could feel his shiver through her shoulder.

“Is that a halter top I see under your coat? You dating this close to full moon?” His only answer was a growl deep in his throat, inaudible to anyone but her. Professional to the bone. Except when blood was involved.

He turned from the doorway, forcing Serapheena to step backwards.

“I saw no body parts. Are the bots here?” She nodded. “Send them in, there can’t be much left to find, but there’s got to be remains somewhere.

 

“Something is off Seph.” Corwin had the reports up on the screen in front of him.

“Why don’t I just go back. I could clear this up in a heart beat.” Two months ago it wouldn’t have been a question. Back then they would have a suspect in their sights already.

“No!”

“But Corwin, goddammit, it was one time, out of all of the hundreds of times.” She put her hands on her hips and gave him her cold hard stare she used to warn off lowlifes, that thought the long silver pole she fondled professionally, was an open invitation to stuff more than just one dollar bills into her thong.

He looked up and fixed his eyes on her jaw, and the scar that ran a jagged line from her left ear to just under her chin.

“I am not sending you back. Not for this.”

“Oh for the love of god Corwin. I am not a baby. I can handle myself.”

He didn’t take his eyes off the scar, given to her courtesy of the Circus Man, a serial killer who’d very much resented getting caught back in October. Since then Corwin had been more than reluctant letting her time travel back to scenes of murders.

“Besides, we don’t need your special skills. There’s no murder here.”

“What? There’s a room full of blood and you’re telling me there’s no murder?”

“As I said. There’s something off. How on earth do you get blood evenly spread all over a room, and not leave a single piece of evidence? Not a footstep anywhere, not a flaw in the layer of blood. This blood isn’t from arterial spray.” He flicked through the reports spread out across the screen, pulling up the blood analysis report. “I am sure someone spray painted the room with blood. Which is also why there’s no remains.”

Serapheena pulled up the crime scene photos and studied them. He was right of course. The layer of blood was near perfect, more perfect that the hack job she’d done painting her walls at her apartment.

“Look at this.” He flicked a finger and a page of the report pushed the photos to the side. She read it, but shrugged. What did she know of velocity and spatter? She raised her eyebrow at him.

“The blood is human, but there’s no clear DNA. And…” He paused, “…they estimate that there’s around 10 liters of blood in there.” He looked at her, a smile curling his upper lip. She shrugged again. She was a crack shot, she was a natural with witnesses and she could time travel. Techno-babble was not one of her specialties. “An average human body only hold around 4-5 liters. Either the victim is huge, or someone is messing with us.”

“But why the hell would someone spray paint a room in dripping burgundy?”

“I don’t know. To fuck with us? Remember two weeks ago? The bloody mannequin filled with human bones that turned out to be stolen from the medical department? I think this was done by the same person. Someone with a grudge and a flair for the theatrics. Someone who probably enjoyed humiliating me a little.” So he had noticed the snickering cops behind his back.

His meaning hit Serapheena square in the chest and she rocked back on her heels.

“You think it is Trix?” She chewed her lip. Trixia, her twin sister, who looked just like her.

Trix tbe self-proclaimed goddess of the center stage.

Trix who resented her time-traveling abilities and had spent the better part of a year trying to convince everyone that Serapheena was going crazy.

Trix who’d been dodging her calls since the summer barbecue where Corwin had turned her advances down.

“God, I think you might be right.”

No Brain Works

I make a writerly point in this post. I promise.

I am one of those people you’ve probably sworn and cursed over if you have ever assembled a piece of furniture hauled home from a furniture store. Especially if there was something wrong with the parts or something was missing in the box.

See, I work in a factory that supplies furniture to stores all over the world, and I’ve got two separate types of jobs that fill my work days. Sometimes I am packing those flat-packs of dressers, beds, desks and what-not’s that can drive people to insanity and/or divorce. And if I am not busting my ass doing that I am busting part of my brain in the office doing office-like jobs. (I am also the safety rep in my department and a few other things that don’t take up much time.)

There’s a saying in Denmark about this type of job, namely: That it doesn’t require a brain to do it. You can hang you brain on the coat hook next to your jacket and you can still do it well. I have an ambivalent relationship with that saying.

I hate it, I find the saying derogatory and demeaning, I bristle when co-workers in the machine halls around us imply that our job is easy and stupid, I hate that they treat us like we are at the bottom of a pit of garbage and are hardly word a hand up. I hate it when they bitch because they have to give us a hand on the packing line and I secretly (or not so secretly) gloat with glee when they can’t keep up and bitch even more. I have taught myself the nerve to let management know when they piss on us by implying that we are lazy and stupid. I care about my work, and I want to do it right.

Saying that it takes no brain to do the job is ridiculous. It takes will and skill to do it. You need to be able to focus, concentrate, make decisions and move. Fast. When we are at our fastest we have around 5-7 seconds to grab the parts, check them and put them into the box. If you are uncoordinated and/or lazy, you will probably never learn to keep up.

But, to be honest, you absolutely do not need to have a higher degree in astro-physics to do my job. It is pretty straight forward. Put the right parts in, in the right position and in the right amounts, and we are pretty much set. Most people will learn the basics in a day or two, and then spend a month or so picking up the routine of movements. Thats it folks.

And sometimes I use that saying myself. It drives me up the wall when people treat their job as a no-brainer, when they could care less about the hows and whys, the wellfare of their colleagues and the company that pay their salary. I say it in frustration when people are offered a chance to voice their complaints, their suggestions and their problems and they just shake their head and look elsewhere, I get downright bitchy when they then turn their backs and complain some more. Why? Why act like sheep waiting to be herded, why not take matters into your own hands and do something to better your situation? If you want to be taken seriously then start by taking yourself seriously. If you have an opinion, voice it. DO SOMETHING *.

Ahh… sorry. Pardon my ranting. I will get back to my point. No Brain Work.

This past week I have been very much Not Writing. I still get up at half past four, but instead of using my stolen half hour of Alone to write, I read flash fiction and blogs. When my daughter is tucked in bed at night, I avoid my story to read twitter, blogs and watch TV with my husband. I feel guilty. I get angry with myself but I actively avoid my story nonetheless. I fear for the future of this story that currently resides in the folds on the gray matter I call my brain. Is it slipping away? Have I spent hundreds of hours plotting, devising and scheming, just to feel my story to wilt away like a spring flower hit by heavy frost? It wouldn’t be the first time.

So I was contemplating my writing laziness today. Last week the story was bubbling inside of my brain like air being blown into frothy glass of milk shake. Bubbles that grew slow and huge, and then burst and splattered words all over the place once I found the time to be alone. This week? Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. No bubbles. No froth. No word splattering.

But I have figured it out! I have played Sherlock Holmes in my own brain and it is very elementary Watson:

Last week I was packing boxes on the line with my colleagues. This week I have spent almost all of my working hours in the office squinting at the monitor.

Last week I was so tired I could hardly walk to my car when the day was over. This week I haven’t felt my back twitch painfully once when I bend down to pick stuff up.

Last week I had extended dates with my sofa (and chocolate). This week I have had the energy to bake and clean and cook lovely food when I got home.

Last week I had all the mental time in the world to twist my plot while working. This week I have twisted numbers on a monitor instead.

I think the conclusion is pretty clear. When I work on the packing line I have amble time to think, plot and devise. Meaning, if I wanted to, I could hang my brain on the coat hook next to my jacket and stop giving a shit about anything.

 

* I am aware and accept that some people don’t have the courage or urge to say things openly to their boss, or that they don’t want to turn the beacon of attention onto themselves. But lack of opinion can also be a kind of laziness, used to not take responsibility, or to lay the burden of accountability on someone else. There is a difference between being meek and being silent.

Flash Fiction 1.0

So this is my first attempt at flash fiction. It was prompted by Chuck Wendig here, and a sentence generator linked in his post. Among the ten sentences I recieved I chose this: “The sinister rectangle balls the gentle link.” and without further ado I give you what my brain spat out.

Link

by Trine Toft Schmidt

I am Link and I live in the deepest basements of the com, where people don’t gawk at me all the time. Most people that make it this far down hover over me for a short moment before deciding to visit elsewhere. I suppose my next door neighbors stroke people’s fancy better. I am not complaining, I’ve had my share of likes, though I am rarely the object of ejaculation. But sometimes even I attract attention of the troubling kind.

It all started when a virus crashed through the com. The virus caused a widespread panic that attracted attention from the outside world. Men and women who had previously been unaware of our existence joined up and one of those was L7. He was an older guy, burly and tattooed with a floppy mustache, graying hair that curled at the ears and he often sat at the monitor with a nude chest. He had a small heart tattooed there with ‘Silvia’ written across it in faded gray letters. He could have been a sailor for all I knew, but the sailor-like tattoo might have been a satirical one. I never know much about my viewers, mostly I see them squinting intently on the monitor for a few minutes while one of their hands jerks them off. It gives me a rather shaken view of the people in front of me. You get used to it.

In the beginning L7 used a lot of time browsing through the Plain Sex section with a single mindedness that was quite abnormal. Most people progress in time, at least somewhat, from their most innocent fantasies to the more perverted ones, but this guy who I took to calling Square never strayed far away and always returned. To me. The virus that had affected most of the com had never made it down to my level, and at first I thought it was because I was the safe bet he kept returning, but he must have liked my unusual ending. I have no money shot, no white gunk licked off glistening pouting lips, just a shaggy haired guy spasming deep inside a dark haired beauty with broad hips. Something about the non-visual ejaculation got Square going I suppose.

The first week Square visited me 34 times. I was happy with the attention. My neighbor ‘Harlot Harass Hairy Ass’ had been gloating for awhile that even she got more traffic than me. She’s quite a piece, round and heavy and shot rather unfortunately from the side, while doing her business with a very hairy ass. It was nice to be able to remind her that there was nothing wrong in being ‘Plain Vanilla, Straight Up Missionary from the 70’ies’. So I was a happy link for awhile. For one glorious day I was even featured on the front page under the Retro Porn heading.

By the third week Square had settled into a routine. He would log on around 6pm, spend a few minutes browsing the front page offerings, but was soon back to the lower levels following search leads like: Amateur, Normal and Missionary, around the com. At 6.30pm he would click me for the first time, settling in. First he’d watch the whole video, sliding closer and closer to the monitor until he was almost pressing his nose against it. Then he expertly maneuvered the video time slide to 1.27 where the camera zooms in on the brunette’s face as she moans with very realistic passion. Something about that girl in the clip fascinated him. He would watch it as many as twenty times, before moving on. His next favorite part, was where the man thrusts for the last time and the girl squeezes his butt hard enough to show whitening skin. This part he watched over and over until finally he climaxed. Not very exciting to be honest, but I am even tempered, what do I know? I have no sexuality. As Harlot later said, I am a gentle link.

But things with Square went south very quickly. At week five Square logged on at 5pm, at week six it was 4pm, spending hours watching me. He visibly changed, became paler and thinner, his hair grew out shaggy and eyes was circled with black. He looked like a deranged madman to be honest, his mouth sometimes frozen in a sneer of pleasure.

My neighbors started to notice. Harlot laughed at me, and called Square ‘the sinister rectangle’ in a mocking tone. Whenever he logged on, she whooped “The sinister rectangle balls the gentle link” throughout the com. Two dudes upstairs, who hadn’t been getting clicked in a long time, started glaring at me when we met in the halls. But others, if they weren’t busy at the time, would watch from the sidelines as Square shook and lurched in front of the monitor. I never made it back to the front page, but I became a local celebrity among my neighbors, and the cool links started nodding to me in public. But such attention never last.

On the fourth day of week 9 Square could barely hold himself upright. He was sagging and wincing as he shook, squeezing his eyes myopically at the monitor. His greasy hair hung lifeless on his shoulders, and his skin had taken on a very unhealthy bluish color. The room behind him was a horrible mess and I swear that right before he keeled over, I saw a rat running across the back of his chair. He had been at it for two hours, when he suddenly clutched his chest with his free hand, and his head slammed into the monitor and then the desk in front of him. The last I saw of him was when he looked up at the girl in the clip with a pained look, whispering something at the monitor. It sounded very much like he said “Silvia”. I felt a twinge of sadness before I disappeared back into obscurity.

Happy World Book Day

It is World Book Day, not in Denmark, in Britain. But I am more than happy to celebrate books every day of the year if I could no matter in what country.

So books huh? Pages of words that opens up worlds that are scary or delightful, fantastic or dreary. They are all an escape from reality even when they resemble it quite well.

It has never mattered to me in what format a book is in. Hardback – Paperback – E-book. I don’t care. I would read books if they were printed on toilet paper. It is the words that make up the story that counts (*), and not the package that contain them.  But at the same time, as self-contradictory it might seem, I love owning them. Especially when when I was younger I loved owning those packages, lining them up on my shelves and fiddling with how they were ordered. Author vs Title? Hardback vs Paperback. Tallest books first or last? Of all my stuff I had as a teenager I was most proud of my books.

Most of the time I borrowed my books at the library, only filling my stacks temporarily (**). It wasn’t very satisfactory handing them back, I wanted them on my shelf forever, to pull back down to re-read if they were good enough. But books are expensive in Denmark. A new book, Danish or translated, in hardback will easily cost around 300 kroner (equals to $40-50). There’s no way I can feed my addiction at that price. Not when I was a student and not now, when I work my butt off to pay the mortgage and loans and what have you. When I was younger I resorted to mail order book deals, where I would get 1-2-3 books for free against having to buy at least one or two over the span of a year, at full price. I got some great books that way, but I always forgot to cancel the monthly book and thus ended up with books I either couldn’t pay or didn’t want. So that wasn’t a very viable way to gather books.

Then I moved to Greece for a year and discovered english language paperbacks. There was this small shop filled with books priced so I could afford to buy one every week and still have money enough left over to go to the movies once or twice a week. The shop was in a small back alley close to the marina in Piraeus, and whenever I had the time I would walk to the shop, buy a book and then go sit on the low white wall that edged the marina reading for an hour or two.(***).

Once home I started scouring our local bookshops for imported paperbacks which were more affordable at 100-120 kroner (which is $20 at the current rates). But that was not enough either, the selection was limited to say the least, booksellers didn’t want to import books they weren’t sure would sell and I could never really fully satisfy my need to browse for new authors or new books by beloved authors.

Thankfully the internet happened, Amazon happened. Books priced at £5+, a little bit of p&p on top and new books were in my possession.

The Kindle appeared. Oh how I wanted one. Imagine having your entire library with you at all times. Imagine buying a book and within seconds it was virtually in your hands. No hellish two week wait. Instant gratification! HEAVEN!

5 years ago when I finally had the money to buy an e-reader I couldn’t get the Kindle. But I got a Sony Reader instead, which served me well for close to three years before the world of E-books started go a little weird! I usually bought my books on Waterstones.co.uk or whsmith.co.uk. Until they decided they didn’t want to  to sell to me because I was a few hundred miles across the wrong sea.

Buying books before e-books were troublesome because of price, lack of choice or time of delivery, now it was difficult because of reasons still not really clear to me. The internet was depriving me of my english language books. but for the love of god, why? Nobody has really explained this to me in a way that I can accept as reasonable. A book is a book (in my opinion) whether it is made of paper or small pixels.

For awhile I actually considered downloading and reading pirated books, threatening to undermine everything I hold true as a reader and a wanna-be writer. If I don’t pay for the book, the authors I love won’t get paid. Its another discussion, but at desperate times I seriously considered it. If the booksellers didn’t want to sell to me why should I care if I stole from them. I never got around to it because I am too conscientious. and I am glad because…

…then my beloved Kindle finally made it to Europe. For what equals 3-4 new danish hardbacks I bought a Kindle and now have the whole Amazon to choose from. I have never bought as many books as I do now. I am almost back to the one book a week deal. And I love it.I love reading on the e-reader (****), I love that my hands/wrists don’t get tired holding a heavy book upright while lying in the sofa. I love that I can use the app on my phone to read in the dark of the bedroom, or in the car when we are driving home at night. I love my virtual library almost as much as I love my physical one, dusty and disorganized as it is.

So Happy World Book Day out there. I hope you enjoy them in whatever shape or format they have.

* And the worst thing in my world was when I turned the first few pages and read the legal mumbo jumbo written there, seeing the most hated word. Abridged. That word would wreck the whole reading experience. How could they? How could they take a book and then cut things out of it? Words were missing meaning beautiful parts of the story were missing. For years I always scanned the first pages before buying a book, dreading the eventual find of that word.

,** or sometimes for a long time, I could have bought many a book with the money I have over the years paid to the library in late delivery fees.

*** Needless to say I had to pay extra to get all my luggage home with me when I flew back.

**** I also love the added value of the dictionary in the Kindle. So much so I the other day when reading a physical book actually tapped a word to get the definition. Thank god reading is not a team sport or I would have been disqualified.