I am feeling more overwhelmed than I know how to say right now. Not for very good reason, I think, but I may once again be underestimating what, exactly, I'm asking of myself.
These are bits of works in progress. I counted that as things that whose draft was not yet complete, as I have really no desire to go poking through two-hundred-mumble-thousand words of Thermionic Night and Sampo for the best lines in each.
"Swimming Back from Hell by Moonlight"
In the right kinds of story, I wouldn't have known where the cave led. I would have stumbled into it. I wouldn't have sought it out. But if you ever come upon a cave that is the mouth of hell, you may trust me that you will know. I squared my shoulders and walked down to hell with my eyes open.
Midnight Sun Rising (sequel to Thermionic Night and Sampo)
"It rains frogs here?" Karl demanded, utterly out of his depth.
"It has not before," said Toimi thoughtfully.
"In 1952," said Milla. Karl blinked; it was as close to argumentative as he'd seen his colleagues get.
Toimi frowned at her. "Those were toads."
"Even Without Deceit" (in short story series with "MacArthur Station" and "Glass Wind" and "Rest Stop," the former two of which have been published)
Wisdom was shooting pool. She had taken the form of a long-haired blonde with a tiny waist and generous breasts. Her bright pink T-shirt was tight enough that anyone could see she wasn't wearing a bra. The shirt read, in large, black letters, "I'm Wisdom, you jackass."
People like to think she's subtle. Hell, no. Most of the time she's two-by-four-to-the-head subtle. But people don't want to admit to themselves that they just spent the evening staring at Wisdom's tits.
Which, when you think about it, is probably wise.
"Ilmarinen's Metal Bride"
Väinämöinen, great charmer, renowned singer, wanted me dead. But though he could not bear to hold me for more than one night, Ilmarinen could not consign me to flames, either, and so I live on.
"'Oh, yeah?' said the rock sprite" (elisem earrings)
"Anything!" he screamed. "Anything but that! If Alits wanted you to leave the underhill, Alits would have taught you how! Alits has big furry white arms for ripping rock sprites to bits! Alits has pointy vicious ivory teeth for rending rock sprites' flesh from their bones! Alits has --"
"Alits has no idea that you're talking to me," I pointed out.
When he didn't immediately reply, I knew I had him.
"Singing Them Back" (elisem necklace)
When there is nothing else to do, Minnesota girls bake. I made six dozen gingerbread and a gross of spritz that weekend. I pummeled rye bread into submission, and still the disir did not come.
The Extra Marital Affair
"You can't expect them to treat you like you're normal!"
"Erasing the Map"
But instead, she batted those contact-lens-blue eyes at me and said, "And how many people have you killed?"
I said, "Just the one."
It was the wrong answer, I knew.
"Letters to the Ancient Living"
The Brownie Scouts mumbled the words together, their leader's voice blasting out cheerfully behind them. "You -- you -- you oughta know!"
"The old folks love to hear the songs of their youth," the nurse confided in me, as the children raggedly chorused, "Evenfloooow, thassariiiislibuffliiiiii...."
My history degree never extended to nonsense songs. I waited, shifting as uncomfortably as the Brownies, until they finished.
The codgers did not look charmed.
The Mark of the Sea Serpent (sequel to Dwarf's Blood Mead -- this quote got a bit long specifically to taunt ksumnersmith)
"What are their gods like? Do you know them?"
Odin wouldn't meet Soldrun's gaze. "What do you know about their gods?" her mother asked sharply.
"We, ah, we killed them," said Odin.
"You killed them?" repeated Soldrun's mother.
Soldrun stared. "All of them?"
Odin nodded. "I'm afraid so. They were annoying."
Soldrun's mother snorted. "Whereas Loki is a summer-time picnic! And Freyja is a joy to be around!"
"Freyja is a joy to be around," Odin protested. "She just doesn't come around here to let you know it."
"And you," continued Soldrun's mother, not willing to give up any of her momentum, "you have never done a single maddening thing since the cow licked you out of the ice!"
"You don't understand," said Odin. "They were real --" He glanced at the stony expression on Soldrun's mother's face. "Real unpleasant characters. They'd take just anybody as a sacrifice -- whoever got killed on their altar, that was fine with them. And when they put their hand on a human, it was to mark them as the thrall of the god, not to give them any protection. The human couldn't complain to the other gods, either -- they wouldn't intercede for him against one of their own."
"Sounds like the sort of gods people would be well rid of," said Soldrun.
"Well, we thought so," said Odin. "Most of us did."
"The people didn't react that way?" asked Soldrun.
Her mother narrowed her eyes. "Did the Ojafnatharmen know that you killed their gods? Or did their gods just disappear?"
"Well, in a manner of speaking...."
Soldrun's mother sighed deeply.
Soldrun had another thought. "Most of you thought those people would be glad to get rid of their gods? What did the rest of you think?"
"Loki thought we should keep their, ah, their heads around," said Odin. "Like I did with Mimir. In case we needed them."
Soldrun and her mother both stared at him.
"Their heads," said Soldrun.
Her mother buried her head in her hands.
Soldrun's voice rose to a shriek. "And where, exactly, do you keep the heads of an entire pantheon?"
"In the north," mumbled Odin. "On lots of ice, guarded by frost giants."
"I just want you to know," said Soldrun's mother, "you were never one of my favorites. I don't know if you realized that. I was always fonder of Frigg, really, and I have a feeling that if she was here --"
"Frigg has not been particularly excited about the heads," Odin admitted.
"What do you need them for?" asked Soldrun, still higher and louder than usual. "What on earth could you possibly use the heads of a dead pantheon for?"
"Loki was working on that when he disappeared," said Odin.
"Did any of you check the heads to see if he was still up there with them?" asked Soldrun's mother.
"How was he working on it?" said Soldrun.
Odin ignored her. "We checked. He wasn't with the heads, and they swore under oath that they knew nothing about his disappearance."
Soldrun's mother put one hand on her hip. "Now, what kind of an oath is binding to a dead god's head?"
I'm not even close to done with half-finished work, but I'm quitting this meme now and doing something genuinely productive. Or at least an approximation thereof. Or at least something that doesn't make me want to meep with the amount of work ahead of me. So you miss out on today's just-started short story about the Calculus Plague. Sorry. Life's like that sometimes.