Friday, October 14, 2016

'On the Other Side of the Mask' Snippet

I submitted a much shorter version of this story to Lethe Press's 'Gents' anthology back in April. I got the sweetest rejection letter I've ever gotten from the anthologist, saying he was really torn about to accepting it or not. He encouraged me to write an expanded version of 'On the Other Side of the Mask' for Lethe Press's general submissions.

I finished a longer version in July, when I realized my story was still too short. I started expanding again, before I got distracted by working on 'Aissa and Polyxena' and 'Seven Tricks'. However, I haven't forgotten this novel. I've got every intention of finishing it. :)

Here's a little teaser from this m/m surreal steampunk WIP, which has more than a touch of gothic horror about it. The fact that I've got characters named Byron, Shelley, Lord Ruthvyn, Olympia, and Nathaniel only adds to this ambience.

Poems can shape the world, just as poets shape it with their thoughts and ideas. Their legacy causes ripples across realities, inspiring the inhabitants of other worlds. Their very names invoke power. 

Which was why two, shivering boys brought before the court, before they were consigned to the church’s grasp called upon them. The court warden looked down upon them from her lofty dais, only to scowl upon her wards. 

“Your bodies and souls belong to the temple,” she said, as she turned her scowl from their small faces to their tiny, clapsed hands. Affection had no place in court, or in church, unless it was given to the Goddess. “The only thing, which belongs to you is your name.” She rose from her seat, the judgment of heaven resting upon her powdered head. “What name will you choose?”

The first boy, a sleek, dark haired lad, with bluish veins standing out from his small hands, raised his head with the pride of an aristocrat.

“Byron, Your Honor,” he said, in a clear, ringing voice, which carried throughout the room. 

Byron. The name send a ripple through the room, particularly through Paradise’s unclaimed children, gathered for their naming. It was the only choice most of them would ever have, deciding on a name. Your name was the essence of your being. It set the path you’d follow in Paradise. 

The second boy shot him a surprised look, which set his strawberry blonde curls to trembling. A tiny smile touched his lips, as he looked, not at the judge, but at his companion.

“Shelley, Your Honor,” the second boy said, as he exchanged a secret glance with Byron, who squeezed his hand tighter.

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