The Dorley Cycle XX

TO START THE CYCLE :

First segment

It’s only a siren’s song baby

 Part I ; Part II ; Part III ; Part IV

Prelude

Second segment:

Hey there Mr. Cthulhu

Part V ;  Part VI ; Part VII ; Part VIII ; Part IX ; Part X ;

Third segment:

Got some toxic truth?

Part XIPart XIIPart XIII

Fourth segment:

Squid Kings and Greek Fires

Part XIV ; Part XV ; Part XVI ; Part XVII ; Part XVIII ; Part XIX

AND FOR A LITTLE COMIC STYLE TREAT: Homecoming & Hey There Mr. Cthulhu

 THE DORLEY CYCLE 

squidkingsandgreekfires8

XX

Previously: Jackson made his move: the town of Dorley is burning; the monsters are on the run and Guy is nowhere to be found; Paulie is presumably dead and Eli is missing in the raging sea; Jackson found a hidden cave and hoped to find vengeance most of all in there. Now..

I sat down working a way with shaky fingers to strap my broken wrist. I tore at my sleeve and I continued shredding it till there was a reasonable looking piece that I could tie and swing around my neck. I rested the broken bones, flinching at the injection of pain and stood up, feeling the throbbing of snapped bones slightly eased.

Behind me swelling tides were reminiscent of the storm that was so near I could smell the sweet strong aroma of fresh ozone. I took that remarkable scent of new beginnings and filled my lungs with it.

Then I climbed the steps and disappeared through the jagged fissure of the cave.

Inside the moist quickly damped my clothes and stuck them to my shivery skeleton. In some fury of their own the waves threw themselves inside and bathed my numb feet. I walked in cold pools of water, slipping to hit hard stone, scratching at the wall, my only solace to steady myself up again. For what was darkness in my first blind steps, which led mostly down, I lost the break of the waves and above all the deep gulping voice of the sea groaning from its core. This cave was the silent pass, the ritual chamber of Dorley’s people. Bad memories and ill fates stormed the air along with the fragrance of moist and sweat.

I started hearing my own blood hammering inside my ears, trying to fill in the emptiness, which seemed impossible and delusional, or maybe I was those. I coughed and thought it be someone else standing behind me, his coarse throated whisper brushing at my earlobe. I rushed along the uneven path and discovered in the echo someone else’s footsteps catching up in the dying splashes. I stopped unable to move, forgetting distance and time in the pitch black. My eyes adjusted as much as to find stalagmites and stalactites looking like the sharp teeth of this monster mouthed cave. I shut them close sinking into my own darkness which seemed more familiar and comforting. Then I heard a buzzing sound and with wide opened eyes found the faint flicker of electricity.

The light burned out when I stood before it, but in a chain along the wall the others were working, old timey electric arc lamps modified from their floor vintage selves to those, deeply nailed into the stone. Their rusty enclosures were ancient. I wondered if Guy had put them here once upon a time.

Now with the light on my side the cave seemed shorter, but casting me shadows I didn’t want to see. I thought about man’s ability to find faces in objects. I thought about how diverse that shared horror power was, because all I could see where monsters with spread whipping arms. Ain’t something one would want to walk among. Dragging my chains, without a body to hold my hand to the bottom of this journey, I walked, a prisoner of twisted fate and the good lord I presumed.

The light showed me the cave was after all just one large chamber which walls wept in small rivulets. The slippery slide that guided me to its center was nothing but 200-300 meters in half of which I had lost and baffled myself. The suicidal arc light beamed here and there, just enough for me to walk a circle.

If the group of people I followed came in here they were either long gone or hiding in the shadows my artificial lights couldn’t reach. But there was only one spot which caught my attention, crawling along the far wall of the cave which slept in total blackness. So then, I was open prey. I was in a spotlight from which any of them could steal me in the dark and induce their poison down my body. My face stiffened. I was, in this state, vulnerable to be have and be killed.

Killed…But the darkness lured.  The longer I stared, the less emptiness I found. Suddenly the opposite stared back.

I crossed the chamber balancing my numb and heavy body, the sensation of solitude lifting up from me. I had something here with me, without a breath, without a heartbeat, but definitely present.

The whole of the dark smelled foul; the closer I got the stronger the odor got.

My trembling hand, outstretched fingers fumbled in the ghost air, penetrating the curtain which I tried to blink away; but it was unforgiving now and it no longer molded me and guided me. I grazed with the tips, my nails scraping at something soft and mushy and I pulled my hand back quickly feeling my fingers sticky. I stepped closer, determined to examine more.

I got the idea of something growing on this wall, something I was certain I wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. I ran my hand up and down measuring in my mind the size of this parasite, shaking with tremors genuine fear of the big and possibly asleep, possibly alive. But then a brighter beam of light from behind me bathed the entire wall and mouth agape, not caring of who stood there, I saw it.

Its eye, the size of a basketball, weak in color, a white pupil rotated upwards, glowed somewhat alive with the light on it and I saw myself inside it, shivering uncontrollably now. I traced its full length, from the mantle to the very tips of those whipping tongues – it covered the entire of the wall glued to it in a slimy cocoon, the massive bleak reddish- purple body of the creature preserved in some final charge, eight arms wild and spread, crimson-red veins mapping the semi-transparent skin. The same limbs as those Guy and Paulie had shown me, but ten times the size and ornamented with subspherical suction cups bigger than my palm; its two long tentacles though, were clubs hiding enlarged suckers gifted with rows of small sharp teeth.

I stepped back from this colossal cephalopod creature that extended beyond 20 meters and beyond any of my so hated childhood stories. I fell back, my body pressing against that of another, who still held the light high. 

Chapter XXI

The Dorley Cycle XIX

TO START THE CYCLE :

First segment

It’s only a siren’s song baby

 Part I ; Part II ; Part III ; Part IV

Prelude

Second segment:

Hey there Mr. Cthulhu

Part V ;  Part VI ; Part VII ; Part VIII ; Part IX ; Part X ;

Third segment:

Got some toxic truth?

Part XIPart XIIPart XIII

Fourth segment:

Squid Kings and Greek Fires

Part XIV ; Part XV ; Part XVI ; Part XVII ; Part XVIII

AND FOR A LITTLE COMIC STYLE TREAT: Homecoming & Hey There Mr. Cthulhu

 

THE DORLEY CYCLE 

squidkingsandgreekfires6

XIX

The whiteness bleached and blended back to color, the pier reappearing engulfed in flame. The ringing in my ears though remained so as I was flung away from the blast, the burning heat pushing my body, I watched, deaf, how part of the pier collapsed into the sea, and how Ferris wheel caught fire. It was in an instant that I hit the water with a force that left me breathless and invited a mouthful of water inside my lungs.

I sunk along with floating pieces of coal-black wood, but I was alive.

Slowly my limbs came back to life, brushing the heaviness of the sea in a mad churn in search for up, but finding down, facing what I couldn’t see. I felt raindrops like bullets rain over me.

I swam frantically, kicking fiercely to push myself upwards and find the surface. Not long after my fingers dug into wet, hard sand, and I crawled into the very shallow, breathing in the salty water that clung to the whole of my body, biting into my open wounds. I vomited blood and water till I had those to vomit, feeling my stomach hurt and my guts shrunk in my belly. Then I just lay in it, cold as the water was, warm as the air was, harsh as the rain was.

Noises came and went around me, my eyes finding seizures of bright explosions swept away by black skies that expanded in bursts.  I smelled the smoke and choked on it, fits of confusion and alarm overcoming me. After heartbeats, clearance came, having me hear sirens loud and clear and thunders dry and overhanging. I stood up, whiplashed by the rain that did nothing to stop the spreading disaster.

Dorley was burning.

I watched mesmerized the sight, admiring the aggression I had set free. I let ash stick to my face and I welcomed the heat of nearby fire, letting it dry me up. To my right ol’ Dorley was in flames too, puffing out the blackest of smokes and combusting in the brightest orange that reflected dark red in the water.  At first I couldn’t tell where the fire had started but there was one place that could have ignited such a beautiful spark. I wondered who had set the fuel shacks on fire.

Kicking sand and half-running I tried to get myself back on the street. The fire had caught on the entire length of the pier and had spread, taken by the wind to the buildings across the street. The bottom of the hill was fiery speckled and I had no doubt it would soon spread further and climb up to the hotel.

The Ferris wheel protested, its lights popping out. The cables sizzled and snapped free from the arm of the wheel, flapping electrical tongues that transformed the air around into a sparkling net, charging the raindrops as they fell, absorbing. The wheel flickered and went dead, the leather seats shedding in lumps of stench down through burned holes.

People ran past me, frantic in their own try for rescue. I made my way through their ricocheting screams, tourists, reporters, desperate policemen, children crying for their parents, all black-faced and terrified. I didn’t care which of them were monsters.

I didn’t see Guy’s burned body anywhere near the pier. I didn’t see him limping away. I kept looking, almost tempted to call his name over the roar of everything else.

It had become Hell in less than fifteen minutes and no one knew where to go. No one, except those that amidst the chaos were different. I found them burning in the middle of the street, melting but still alive, their weak tentacle arms darting helplessly from their coal parched mouths as their bodies lurched into a mindless flee in and out the fire. I heard them screech, such a low and hurting noise that would exist otherwise only submerged, and I knew that what I saw in that dream of mine was true – it was weak, and it could be killed.

But then as I walked further, I also saw them hurrying in groups towards the beach over which the pier was collapsing and I followed.

I kept my distance from the path of falling things. Wannabe survivors made a run for the sea and shadowlike I moved with them, hunched in my mess of a figure. My group was making way down the coastline to the end of it where the largest of white stone sea cliffs stood rough shaped. I found footprints, quickly washed away by the ever-growing ill foamed waves and I stepped in them before they disappeared. Treading like this, towards whatever comes I kept thinking of miracles and weighted in my chances of winning right now, because it wasn’t over, that much was clear. Guy was not dead for sure, but he wasn’t human and he was a fast healer. He had lived here long before me, molding Dorley in his own liking. He wasn’t going to let go easily.

The sea-washed my feet. I half expected Eli’s body to wash at my feet and blame me. I was alone again, and that mesmerizing, powerful sensation of being in control evaporated. Realism hit hard; me, bare handed and broken, steamed by the fire, shaken by the cold, cold water, soaked to the very bones.

Soon the sand was gone and I had slippery stone under me. I curled my fingers for a grip somewhere on the slick rock that extended large into the sea. There was a man-sized arch cut into it and I carefully squeezed through it. On the other side there were small inner islands of sharp rocks that led to a piece of land, three steps carved into it which ran to the entrance of a cave.

I watched my way going there and then I stood on toes on the first step looking up into the gaping void feeling the cool breath of its insides.

Chapter XX

The Dorley Cycle XVIII

TO START THE CYCLE :

First segment

It’s only a siren’s song baby

 Part I ; Part II ; Part III ; Part IV

Prelude

Second segment:

Hey there Mr. Cthulhu

Part V ;  Part VI ; Part VII ; Part VIII ; Part IX ; Part X ;

Third segment:

Got some toxic truth?

Part XIPart XIIPart XIII

Fourth segment:

Squid Kings and Greek Fires

Part XIV ; Part XV ; Part XVI ; Part XVII

AND FOR A LITTLE COMIC STYLE TREAT: Homecoming & Hey There Mr. Cthulhu

 

THE DORLEY CYCLE 

squidkingsandgreekfires5

XVIII

Paulie sat down hard and when I turned to see my damage he was tracing his shaking fingers along his face. In my panic I hadn’t noticed how long it was, but seeing it pierced through his cheek down inside his mouth and out of his chin, a dripping half tip that his finger grazed I understood his shock. His eyes filled with tears and he moaned into the cold glass, his tongue darting to lick away the pooling blood. He wanted to grab at it I saw, pull it out. I picked whatever adrenaline I had and surged into one mighty kick and tumbled Paulie over and left him laying, a close call from falling into the dark waters.

I stood up and limped back, holding what was broken close to my chest.

Eli had just untied the boat. He jumped in and started the engine.

“Jackson, get in.”

There was about a two feet gap between the dock and the boat. I prepared to leap over it.

“Jackson!”

There was a gunshot. I turned. Paulie, dear ol’ broken Paulie had saved the best for last, aiming my own gun at me. His face was contorted.

“You gotta jump Jackson!”

I jumped and at the same time the gun fired again. The bullet sliced, hot, burning hot. I fell in the boat among red bottles of fuel

I curled into a ball, squeezing my leg, blood seeping between my fingers. I tore at the fabric, clawing my way through the denim. The projectile had struck me in the thigh, living a fresh bleeding wound, but as the blood soaked into the torn piece of cloth, I saw it was nothing more than a deeper scratch.

“Are you okay?”

Eli drove the thing as fast as he could, flying bullets shattering the glass of the cabin.

I managed a positive sort of hum and peeked out from my hiding. Paulie ran along the dock till there was a dock. Then he disappeared out of sight and soon the pier along with the Ferris wheel came into. I heard sirens coming to life in the background.

We had the pier ahead of us and the boat rumbled lowly towards it. The drizzle had turned into a steady rain. A thunder rolled in the distance.

“Okay what now? How do we load this stuff to your car?”

Ahead, the Ferris wheel swam, rotating in a counterclockwise mirage conjured by my pain and exhaustion. Even in the beat down daylight its bright green lights shone emerald. I scanned the pier further on.

“Is there a ladder there?”

Eli nodded.

“Steer her near it.”

Eli aimed the boat for the narrow gap between the widest pillars, just behind the ladder, and turned off the engine. He walked out of the small cabin holding a lighter in his hand. I took it.

I ran my bloodied fingers along the lids of the bottles, unscrewing one of them, reaching for the second before stopping myself. The boat rocked gently in the quiet dark and I rocked back and forth in my own black pit, setting my feet at the bottom of it. I was lead, I was an anchor, I was the skin that made the hole, I was the sea that filled its belly. Washed, I remembered, cleansed, the gentle flesh though no longer hurting, no longer sensitive. It was, beforehand surreal to think me in the pattern of death, but now as Dorley is at its weakest I have a different taste for surviving. I’ve made my peace with the sea and with the constant growl inside my ears. I’ve been cold, but now I’m warming up.

I gestured Eli to climb up. I suffered a little with my one-handed grip, but once up he grabbed me and pulled me onto the pier.

“Jackson…”

His voice trailed off and I could see why when I got to my feet. Guy was there, striped and entertainment like, but no smile.

“Hear those sirens Mr. Jackson? I haven’t heard ones like this in twenty years. Sounds like murder to me.”

He pointed at me like trying to imply my murder.

“Hope they find Paulie where I left him.”

A nerve convulsed on his perfect face at my lie. Paulie no doubt was coming here, knowing we would come, like he knew about us going to the docks before. I’d be more than happy to have them both here with me when I light everything.

“You’ll be dead too, Guy. In fact we all will.”

“By what right?”

“By the one that put us four limbed fucks on this earth and not you tentacle sons of bitches.”

“Primitive of you. Imbecilic. Don’t think of this as devolution of your kind and evolution of ours. We are merely trying to coexist, have some solidity. Merge perhaps, no?”

Guy licked his lips with a crippled limb, one I had vague memory of having bitten into.

“Are you so injured and tormented Jackson that you would waste yourself and that poor boy’s life? Can’t you just give up and go home? Make it a nightmare, nothing more than sweat on your brow.”

He smiled at me.

“Look at you, battered and abused. What now, are you going to die? After all you went through? In fact why don’t you let me help you forget everything and put this lunacy behind us. Let Dorley be peaceful again. Let us keep it safe.”

I shook my head violently, looking at my feet, seeing a crack instead, and through it the bright red of the fuel bottles. Why not now?, I thought, why fuckin’ not?

I smiled back at him.

“This is my home. This is me keeping it safe.”

I showed him the lighter.

“There’s a boat full of fuel bellow me. I let this Zippo go we all fly up.”

Eli pushed away from me.

“You promised no one will get hurt Jackson! You promised!”

“I lied.”

I took him by surprise giving him one hard shove with my shoulder sending him flying off the pier and down to a big splash.

“Swim fast kid.”

I flicked the lighter and dropped it, watching the dancing flame fall through the gap, licking the fumes first and spark a fiery cloud. Guy was already turning to run. Where to, I don’t know; as the pier shook between our legs, I ran too, but the groundbreaking groan filled the space in an instant, and grew into an eruption of fire from below. A second one boomed somewhere near as the explosion made everything go white.

Chapter XIX

Hey there Mr. Cthulhu in one comic strip

In between Dorley chapters, I sometimes draw Jackson and his thoughts in short comic strips, and it’s great fun, partially because I can’t really draw, but hold high hopes during the drawing process and mostly because I love comics and well, it feels good after its done.

I did one sometime ago, which you can check here: The Dorley Cycle: Homecoming & now I did another one and will be doing one more in the upcoming days.

Hope you enjoy this new small comic strip from The Dorley Cycle!

 

Dorleycomic2

A Christmas Horrortale

Daddy Longlegs was a shy and ancient creature. He lived under the stairs of the Flincher’s. Each day he scolded back into the shadows when he heard the children hopping down the stairs. Hop- hop- hop they went and laughed all the way. But the stairs were old, as the house was old, and Daddy Longlegs feared the wood might split and the children fall.  He was, you should know, a giant of his kind, older than the world perhaps, bred and fed in the moist of corners dark. His legs were long and thin, and he knit the corners of his web with them; his eyes were shiny black dots in the dark and he watched the insides of the house with six of them.  He wasn’t vicious, not at all; he grew fond of those who didn’t even know he kept in hiding under the stairs in their home.

So Daddy Longlegs decided what was best; he propped the stairs with his body and slept, assured the children would be safe.

One night a scratch inside the walls awoke Daddy Longlegs. Scratch-scratch-scratch. He felt the air with the tiny hairs on his round body and knew winter had come.  He looked from the gap in one of the ledges and saw lights, bright and many running up and down a tree…what kind of tree was that? Daddy Longlegs had forgotten that with winter came Christmas! But there they were again, the scratches; something fast and something large it was. Daddy Longlegs pulled away a wonky ledge and squeezed outside the hole; tip-toeing he came into the house. He crawled silently, his eyes rolling left to right.

The children were asleep in their rooms; the parents were asleep in their room. What was making that sound?

So down he went into the living room, where the lights of Christmas shone upon a figure, knelt before the tree.

“Oh no!”, he thought, “Someone is stealing Christmas away from the children!” and off he rushed, angered and enormous.

The figure turned in panic when a shadow crept upon him. His scream froze in his throat, for he had come from a land where there were no nightmares, and he did not know what to do when facing one. Thus, he ran, straight for the chimney. But Daddy Longlegs was faster. Swiftly he swung one of his eight legs and pinched the cloth of the running man, dragging him back across the floor. The man carried a huge bag and with it he swung. He hit Daddy Longlegs and he rolled until he smashed against the wall. Then the man took a dip into his pocket and filled his hand with sparkling dust. He blew it into the fallen creature and in the artificial storm created he tried to disappear again. Daddy Longlegs stood furious, and saw his leg was damaged; it had been squashed there in the middle. He saw the man half up into the chimney and jumped on the ceiling. From there he spat a thick layer of web that caught the man just by the leg.

Descending in a spiral way he pulled the man inside again and laid him off beside the tree, his mouth muffled and his pinched to the floor. He didn’t know this intruder, and nothing in him seemed right. He was fat and old, yet he moved fast as a child would; his cloths were bright, yet he came and went through chimneys. Daddy Longlegs didn’t like this man at all. He was a…burglar. Fat and naughty.

He sat upon him with all his mighty weight and began knitting his web around the body. He knit and he knit until the man had become a cocoon. Then he carried him inside the stairs and crawled low into the basement where and glued the man in a corner, where no one would hear him, ever. Then he left.

Daddy Longlegs was pleased. He had saved Christmas he thought, and the children too. So he propped the stairs and slept again, hidden in the dark and lonesome observatory of his.

The Pendulum and the Mosquito

The Pendulum swung, slashing the air as it picked up speed. The mechanical shrill scream of old and taut parts coming back to life filled the vast temple and the rusty monster soon roared with full power.

Standing in safe distance the Mechanic slid his finger down the glowing screen, going through the list of task performed and tasks about to initiate. He tapped on each running task, making sure the procedure was performed as planned. He smiled behind his mask at the excellent results reading on his screen.

On both corners of the chamber under the fluorescent light the Mechanic had installed prior, two crystals glistened; one ruby, one emerald. They were both grand, an impressive size, artificially grown. The Mechanic traced their crystalized roots descending all the way town to the floor of the chamber and digging into the foundations. But what mattered to him were the cocoon crystals that embraced the vessels carrying the virus and the antidote.

He checked the time. According to his statistics for the Pendulum to interact with the crystal fully and begin piercing through the thick material the estimated time was 16 hours. The Mechanic nodded. It was a hard task to crack the alien armor that had formed around the core, and the Pendulum would only suffice to penetrate inches inside and weaken the core. After that it was time for the Mosquito to play its part.
After 10 hours the first glistening ruby pieces started falling off. The Mechanic smiled once more.

Outside a snow storm was in its culmination, mad and swooshing, a white freezing fog that hid the peaks of the Himalayas. It was a ghost storm, a phantom wind that pierced through leather and skin and bones.

The mage was meditating in the midst of the happening, his palms upon his legs, opened upwards, two small balls of nature’s fury forming in each.

The mercenary’s were sitting in the throat of the cave serving as entrance to the temple inside the mountain.

“We’ve got company.”

Inside the howling storm, aside from the voices, another sound was making itself persistent, drawing nearer, sounding louder. It disappeared only to be replaced by an even louder one.

An aircraft swam out of the cloak of the snow, firing rounds from two Berezin B-20’s attached to it.

The mercenary’s scattered, picking on the run their weapons and firing back. One of the machine guns bursted into flames.

The mage was on his feet, charged with ice spells. He casted a rain of frozen spears which punctured the airplane top to bottom and it lost control, smashing into the surface of the mountain.

Two new crafts of the same model appeared from left and right. The mage built a resistance wall, giving time for the mercenary’s to load the RPG. His spell shattered just as the missile was fired. The airplane saw it and dodged it. Four of the mercenary’s were shot in the moment of distraction. The second airplane moved away, whilst the first one was spitting rounds at the walls of ice the mage was continuing to cast. Seconds later a squad of dark clothed soldiers with goggles and shotguns was dispatched at the narrow terrace. The mage was taken down and the remaining five mercenary’s took three more lives before getting thrown off.

The first group of soldiers was followed by a second, and the two squads entered the cave.

The Mechanic was witnessing the almost complete process of core removal. The shards were nearly destroyed, and now that the Mosquito was piercing through the created gap, neatly puncturing the surface, the vessel carrying the virus was pealing off even more. Soon the tip of the Mosquito would be able to poke and extract.

There was a series of thumps echoing throughout the temple walls.

The Mechanic turned at the sudden noise.

Soldiers were aligning at the top of the stairs, their rifles and shotguns pointed at him. Between the heavy-armed lines an admiral walked. His face was pink from the biting cold and his hair was sandy blond.  His voice carried an accent when he spoke.

“I’ve dreamed about this discovery ever since I can remember. I’ve read so much about the crash, about the myth that a ship carried two artifacts, one of sin and one of purity, but they were a myth, always a myth, though I believed with my entire being. My scholar said they couldn’t be created, because no human being had ever created perfection. But this is the perfection of life and the perfection of death. It is the most dangerous weapon known. I wanted to own that kind of power. It would cleanse me too, no? Knowing I could do so much good. Help people. Kill people. The ultimate antidote! The ultimate plague! Imagine the wonders!”

The admiral walked down the crumbling steps of the temple. He stopped when he was next to The Mechanic, staring at the Mosquito working on both the crystals.

“I could have never gotten here without your help and your brilliance. Your devices are magnificent.”

The Mechanic cocked his head to one side, the black orbits on his gas mask reflecting the glow of the crystals.

The admiral gave him a smirk and a funny look came to his glassy blue eyes.

The Mechanic knew that look. It meant he had just a second or less. It was his goodbye moment, the frame he would to death, a neo communist’s smirking pink face.

In his pocket he kept the small tablet, the navigation program still working. He gently slid his finger upwards, maximizing the speed of the Mosquito. The machine freaked out instantly and charged at the crystal, breaking the needle, setting the arm on fire as it pulled out and swung sideways, smashing into the other arm still working on the antidote crystal.

“What are you doing you bloody fool!”

The crystal shattered, crimson red liquid dripping from the sharp edge, evaporating when meeting the still air in the temple. The virus dispersed everywhere, silent and invisible.

The Mosquito hit the ceiling of the temple, bringing down chunks of rock and the remains of the core. The whole place began to collapse like in a dream, simultaneously, slowed in time, slowed in realisation. The soldiers opened fire on The Mechanic, but their shots were dodgy and missed him. The Mechanic used the opportunity to kick down the admiral and make a run for it. The air was becoming horrid, Pandora’s box opened, skin decomposing, blood spitting, choking.

The Mechanic ran.

The temple collapsed without warning, shutting itself inside the belly of the Himalaya, blockading the discovery of the centuries.

One body sat on the snowy terrace, breathing fresh air through the mask. His inventions were destroyed, his life’s work and research gone. But on the tablet in his pocket, a formula was writing itself, and it was one element away from becoming dangerous.

“Previously on…” – The problem with gaps

 There are times when a 1000 words story expands beyond the set limits of the flash format. Exceeding with a number of words is one thing ( I hear the flash set’s its boundaries somewhere around 1500, correct me if wrong), but when the story, in the process of writing, starts feeling like it needs more space, more time, more development, it grows into a serial.

I find serials tricky. At first they seem like a great idea, allowing the writer to set a future point, to add more and cut less, and when the installments come once a week there is plenty of time to build the next chapter. There is certain flexibility and new ideas are generated as the process of creating the universe of the story deepens.

I have personally felt much freedom in several cases. I had stories which I couldn’t tell in 1000 words and arranged the initial idea into one, two, three or more parts. The ways into which one flash story may develop, as a serial, are multiple. And because of that I believe them to be tricky and often fall in gaps that sometimes last longer than intended.

John Wiswell pointed himself and his ongoing serial “The Only Thing Worse is the Cure” as examples for such gaps. Maybe based on a few comments, but I still think the gaps between the installments are minor and don’t have effect when it comes to following the story. Perhaps the change in narrators and perspectives did that, but John would know better than me.

Whereas I on the other hand…well I have created gaps as vast as canyons between one part of an ongoing serial and the next. It ends up being paused rather than ongoing. I am going to use myself and my writings as examples.

I battled “Nightshift” a six part serial reasonably fast, with just one small gap. But two other serials I have abandoned at present time. I left creepy, ghostly “Sunflowers” hanging in the dark and am not sure if I am ever getting back to it, at least not soon. I left “Monsters” with only two chapters in order to transform it into a graphic novel which someday will meet light in 2 beautiful volumes.  But there is one which I was super excited about, still am, but I don’t write it.

First to say, I think the problem with the gaps to originate from the fact that some stories are not initially intended to be serials. I trust my gaps to come exactly from that.  The bigger the pause is the less the readers remember. And who would go back to read per se 10 chapters and try to remember what the heck was going on in this story?

I did a little experiment in my political sci-fi thriller (which still doesn’t have a proper name) and wrote some details to hint the upcoming events, and details which led to the first installment. I don’t think they hinted anything. I’ll allow myself to use this serial as the main example because I am working on it (in my head mostly) and thus I count it as an ongoing thing.

Here’s how I picture my failure: I have it planned ahead, but that would require time, something which I don’t always have on my side and sometimes feel the pressure of. Having a clear idea as to what will become of it in future terms I would want to write it down, but take time (extending it even more) to do that properly. That means I won’t be posting every week. Slowing down the tempo means I lose the readers, because they lose the original concept. Thus the gaps swallow all and at times I don’t see how and when this serial will be over and complete.

Now that I’m thinking, what’s the point in blogging a story piece by piece in this bizarre manner, I consider, why not pack it up in a small novelette and then offer the complete “product”? It would be easier, it will relax my anxiety of not meeting each week’s deadline, and it won’t trouble the readers of going back through posts and trying to make sense of what’s been happening and what’s to happen.

Could be the smart thing to do with a longer piece. It has its downsides, but the outcome might be more pleasing.

One thing is sure, gaps are mean and sometimes they stay for more than awhile. How to tackle them?

What do you think?