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The Urban Writing Thread

Discussion in 'books, films, TV, radio & writing' started by ShiftyBagLady, Jun 24, 2009.


Are you in?

  1. Yes Shifty I'm positively brimming with creativity

  2. No Shifty I have enough to pretend to be doing

  3. Wotz ritin?

  4. ShiftyBagLady gives good poll

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. stuff_it

    stuff_it stirred the primordial soup

    I wrote a very short story tonight:

    Alice rested her head on the cool inside surface of the window, half looking up the road towards town, and half idly watching as her breath misted and re-misted the inside of the glass in little puffs.

    Pointless topping up the meter when the taxi to take her to the station would already be off the charging grid, meandering its way through the pot-holed, rain-slicked city streets towards her building.

    A visa, an actual honest to goodness government off-world visa, glistened on the replacement ID card that had almost been lost in the pile of junk mail and unpaid bills that made up the greater part of what came through the letter box these days. It was a long time coming, this shiny new lease on life.

    Earth’s time was over, really, but the few remaining earth-based governments hoarded their citizens like misers. Strict quotas limited who could leave surface of the planet, even temporarily, struggled to maintain population levels high enough for each country or federation to maintain its sovereignstatus. The outcome of a series of ill-thought-out treaties ratified back when the space elevator was new, back when everyone truly believed that it was indestructible.

    The failing economies of Earth made even a shared berth on a low-orbit biomass farm in a decaying orbit look hugely attractive, and the compulsory longevity treatments issued by many Earth-based governments meant the vast majority of Earth-dwellers were fit enough to work. Alice had met her child-bearing quotas, put in her hours asset-stripping paper-based libraries for missed titbits of human ingenuity.
    She was not going to a farm.

    Alice had scored the proverbial ‘golden ticket’. Just over a month ago a message had pinged her inbox out of the blue from someone purporting to be a blood relative, offering sponsorship for one of the most exclusive landmasses in the Solar System. The only place where you could stand out under an open sky and safely breathe the air. The message came from a man rather laughably claiming to be her father; Alice was going to Mars.

    A ping on her phone told her that the cab was waiting outside, in the dark. She hooked her breathing apparatus over her head, logged out of the room for the last time, and headed down the stairs with a spring in her step that matched her physical age of 34, hardly feeling the rest of her 120 years at all.

    Her father…. Alice laughed to herself. She didn’t even know if her mother knew who her father was, for sure. Not a usual ‘claimer’ tactic either. Usually sponsors would claim to be at most a cousin, if they were applying to bring an Earth-dweller up out of their gravity well. It led to fewer issues when they inevitably wanted you to breed for your visa.
    mojo pixy, frogwoman and Boyo like this.
  2. NoXion

    NoXion Give me space communism or give me death

    Version 1.3 of my Nova Mundi timeline of Terran history is now up! It's been far too long.

    I can't remember all the changes I've made in the intervening months, but all the ones I've seen fit to put into this public release happen from the 23rd century onwards.
    mojo pixy and zeldarhiando like this.
  3. zeldarhiando

    zeldarhiando Well-Known Member

    That's so cool! Love a bit of futurism.
  4. frogwoman

    frogwoman Whatever's meant to go here.

    here's a bit from my new story about creepy satanic cults and unexplained murders etc


    Beit Tefillah New Synagogue is an imposing building. It doesn't look that new with the red bricks. As I enter so many thoughts flow through my mind. My relationship is falling apart. I feel scared, yes. Guilty for not making an effort with Gracie, for only calling my mum twice in the last few weeks.

    There's something different about the people here. It's not the clothes that they're wearing - the shul my grandma went to was orthodox - after a fashion. I'm used to women with long skirts and hats and men with suits. I'm used to it. I'm used to people being shy. Being reserved. I smile at an old man and he steps aside to let me through.

    'Shabbat Shalom,' I say and he smiles at me, doesn't speak. There is a hunted expression in his eyes, his posture is stiff. As he steps in after me I can see how frightened he is.

    These people are terrified.

    Maybe they can help me understand.

    It's a traditional synagogue with men on one side, women on the other. The service entirely in Hebrew. Uncomfortable seats. In an odd way those traditions are comforting. An old lady hands me a green prayer book and sits down slowly next to me. 'Are you new, dear?' she whispers. At least she seems more at ease than the people I saw on my way in. 'Good Shabbos.'

    'Yeah.' She shows me the page number and I flip the paper over until I find it. 'Yeah, I'm new.'

    A man wrapped in a blue and white tallit steps up to the bimah. He has a long white beard, and looks at least 70. Samuel Gold. It must be.

    'Today marks 905 years since the pogrom in Scoylesford,' he says. 'It also marks ten years since Lorna Jacobs's disappearance. Please join in the Kaddish should you wish to at the end of the service.'

    Lorna Jacobs. Was she part of the Jacobs family, the one the guy from the church mentioned? I've been trying not to think of the conversation, trying to expunge it from my mind ever since reading that website. It must be written by a crank, I tell myself. But that amused, slightly contemptuous tone. I wasn't imagining that. Was I?

    Lorna Jacobs disappeared - disappeared five years ago today. As I remember that conversation in the church sweat trickles down my back. Just someone who doesn't like Jews, which is nothing new. Someone with a sick sense of humour. Not a threat, I tell myself. Stop thinking this over. Stop trying to make things worse than they are.

    Stop being crazy.

    'Are you OK?' the old lady next to me whispers. 'Do you want a glass of water?'

    Shaking my head, I turn over the page of the prayer book and gaze at it but the words all seem to blur into each other. I shut my eyes and put the siddur on my lap, trying to stop myself shaking.

    'I'm here because...' I manage. 'I need to speak to the rabbi.'
    mojo pixy likes this.
  5. frogwoman

    frogwoman Whatever's meant to go here.

    'Of course,' the old lady says. 'Do you want to go out?'

    I nod. I'm feeling dizzy. My hair is a total mess, I've not washed it properly. None of the women here are wearing trousers. They are all smartly dressed in long skirts. None of them look at me as the old lady leads me out, apart from one near the door who gives me a sideways glance. I find myself thinking I don't know what Samuel Gold's opinion of gay people is. Like, am I even welcome here? Should I even be here? I don't even believe ...

    The old lady leads me into a passageway out of the main prayer hall. She opens a heavy wooden door with a gold plaque on it. I don't even look at what it says. There are chairs in the room and the shelves are full of books. She asks if I want a cup of tea; I shake my head. The room is cooler than the main synagogue. It's so hot. Maybe that's why I'm so worried; I haven't slept in days.

    'He will come and speak to you after the service is over,' the old lady says.

    She leaves the door slightly open. It reassures me; but then I catch sight of myself in one of the windows. I look awful. I haven't slept. I get up slowly and walk over to the bookshelf.

    A book catches my eye. The title is,' Finding Faith in Darkness.' I look at the back.

    'Isaac Heshel was merely 14 years old when his family were killed by the SS,' the back cover states. 'This book has become a classic work on how to maintain Jewish faith in G-D in the midst of evil.'

    The midst of evil. Is that where I am now? I flick through a few pages. Feeling dizzy I put it back on the shelf. I'm mad. I'm losing it. I'm due to get married in a few weeks. I have to stop. She doesn't know I'm here.

    It's not real, I tell myself. None of it's real. I put my head in my hands. Drink the water on the table. I turn my phone on quickly and feel guilty for it as I send a text to my girlfriend telling her where I am. I've never really worried about things like that. Checking my phone on Shabbat. All the things you're not supposed to do.

    'OK, babe,' is the reply. 'Is everything all right?'

    I don't reply. I am supposed to be the strong one...
    mojo pixy likes this.
  6. frogwoman

    frogwoman Whatever's meant to go here.

  7. Gruto

    Gruto New Member

    Please can this be electro-shocked back into life, or at least someone gift me with a theme to work with? Some ponce said hell is other people; well it isn't, it's the countryside, and I'm stuck there with only my murderous thoughts and a smartphone notepad for company.
    frogwoman likes this.
  8. frogwoman

    frogwoman Whatever's meant to go here.

    sure, what sort of thing are you thinking?
  9. frogwoman

    frogwoman Whatever's meant to go here.

    mojo pixy this is the end of the last scene I posted, which quite an important scene that comes a lot later on in the book (and I haven't worked out how to get to yet)

    I can't face it now. I put my phone face down on the seat next to me, feeling dizzy. She'll know I've read it. My head sinks into my hands and I stare at the mosaic of the Magen David on the floor.

    'Excuse me?' I look up and see a man standing in front of me. 'Can I help you?'

    'Sure,' I say. 'I - are you the rabbi?'

    'I am.' He holds out his hand. 'Rabbi Samuel Gold. And you are - are you new to the area?'

    Oh G-d, he's so normal. Thank fuck.

    'Yeah - I'm new. My name's - my name's Deborah.'

    'It's nice to meet you, Deborah. Shabbat Shalom. Did you enjoy our services?'

    I gulp. I can't hold it back any longer. He seems such a nice old man. So normal. Compared to everything else that has happened. 'Yeah. It was lovely. I - look, I need help. I need to speak to someone who can help me.'

    He pulls up a chair but doesn't sit down on it. He looks at the book in my hand. What if they section me? Who would believe a story like mine? Maybe I imagined it all. It's the sort of thing that happens in horror movies. My girlfriend doesn't believe me. We're barely talking. And as for work - well, if I told them, they'd just laugh...

    'Well, I'm not sure I'll be of any use. But I can try. I'm always happy to help a fellow Jew.'

    'So - I'm from London. And my girl - my partner, we moved in around here a few weeks ago. And - well, everyone's really weird. Everyone's really really weird. And at first I thought, well, it must be country folk and their different ways. But the entire town is weird - like, people keep staring at us, and I found ... I found...'

    I gulp. 'Someone's sending us weird letters, talking about death, and all sort of, well, threats. And the people - everyone there, they're all so weird. We walk past and people stare at us like we're aliens or something. And nobody believes me. And - it's the things they say to me, as well.'

    'What do they say?'

    'They make jokes about things that happened in the village, hundreds of years ago. They talk about this guy who used to live there and they look at me and whisper and I don't understand what they mean. And then yesterday, I was walking in the churchyard. And I saw ... I saw a tombstone. A blank tombstone with nothing written on it. And I'd never seen it before. And I asked someone else walking there what it was about. And they just smiled and laughed.'

    'OK,' Samuel Gold says. I can't tell if he believes my story or not. That's the problem, you can't see inside people's heads. And when I tell the story, it doesn't seem so bad. Like it could be explained.

    'Can I ask,' the rabbi says, his voice gentle. 'What day of the year did you move in?'

    'The fifth of June. I've been there two months, but I can't see why that's...'

    'You moved to Scoylesford, didn't you?' His voice is calm. I nod.

    'You said you have a female partner. Forgive me for asking you this, but have you ever made love to a man, Deborah?' I'd slap a bloke for asking me this usually, especially an older man like him. What's happened to me?

    'No. No I haven't.'

    'You can't go back, Deborah. Because they're going to kill you.'
  10. mojo pixy

    mojo pixy unquantifiable hazards

    That last line seems to come suddenly. Is it there on purpose?
  11. frogwoman

    frogwoman Whatever's meant to go here.

    gonna have to edit it a bit which wattpad is not being cooperative with, this is a scene that comes much later in the book so I might not end up using it at all lol
  12. mojo pixy

    mojo pixy unquantifiable hazards

    I like it as a line, personally. I just thought it needed context, but it sounds like there will be later so that's fine.
    frogwoman likes this.
  13. frogwoman

    frogwoman Whatever's meant to go here.

    oh there is going to be ... ;)
    mojo pixy likes this.
  14. frogwoman

    frogwoman Whatever's meant to go here.

    i'm really enjoying writing this one. I usually find it really hard to finish anything. :)
  15. NoXion

    NoXion Give me space communism or give me death

    This is the kind of shit I come out with when I am tired:


    The Tiolonni have this compulsive urge to play "mind games", driving many Pan-Stellar Alliance diplomatic staff to no end of distraction. They may or may not let you know that such a game is going on, whether on their part or that of another Tiolonni. If they do tell you, they will only give you seemingly random parts of the rules of the great game being played, passed along as part of casual conversation. Rules typically range from the baroque to the arcane. Among Tiolonni these mental games provide the playing field for a subtly shifting social hierarchy. The stakes are usually low, but high-stakes games have been recorded to have broken out in Tiolonni history. Humans would call them wars. For these folk all this comes as naturally as small talk does to most humans. Cheating, especially in the mind games, is a grave offence. In less enlightened times any Tiolonni caught cheating were tortured to death and their names subsequently reviled in the eyes of the general public. These days the Tiolonni treat it as a particularly dangerous mental illness.

    So when the children of Terra bumped into the fledgeling Tiolonni interstellar empire that had yet to encounter any sapient non-Tiolonni, culture shock was inevitable. To them, we were as a chaotic seething morass of contradiction and hypocrisy. We played games, but as distractions. Conversely, many Terrans cannot help but feel that their Tiolonni hosts are trying to psych them out or worse, actually wear down their sanity.

    To say it took a couple of centuries to establish a mutually beneficial diplomatic protocol, would be to gloss over much in the way of steps taken forward and backward.
    frogwoman likes this.
  16. frogwoman

    frogwoman Whatever's meant to go here.

    i'd read that.
    NoXion likes this.
  17. frogwoman

    frogwoman Whatever's meant to go here.

    im always impressed how intellectual some people's stuff is, i don't have a particularly good vocab :D
  18. NoXion

    NoXion Give me space communism or give me death

    The real challenge would be actually writing dialogue for a Tiolonni character.

    Spoiler: I'm crap at characters.
    frogwoman likes this.
  19. scifisam

    scifisam feck! arse! girls! drink!

    frogwoman likes this.
  20. frogwoman

    frogwoman Whatever's meant to go here.

    We get back around 10pm. As I unlock the door and walk in, something knocks against my foot, something hard, and then I feel something papery under my shoe. For a second I think something's fallen off the wall, or a cat's got in and knocked everything over in here. That would be the last thing I need, oh fuck. Someone is trying to ring me. My sister probably, with some drama. I'll send her a text later. Families...I love them all to bits but they drive me nuts.

    What did that poor guy mean when he said he had let that family down?

    I fumble for the light switch. I don't see what I tripped on at first. And then I see it partly unravelled in the hallway. It's one of those old rolls of film, really old ones. Before they even had video tapes. I saw one of them in a museum once. My breath catches in my throat.

    'Whoa, what's this,' Grace says. 'Why would someone send us this?'

    'Probably a kid playing a prank,' I shrug. I pick the film roll up in my hand, try and wind it back so it's neater. There's a number written on the central wheel, or whatever that thing is, but it's so faint I can't read it. As I'm winding it back a piece of paper falls out. I bend down to pick it up. My breath catches in my throat; I'm shaking and don't know why. There's a note on it, in red, spidery handwriting.

    welcome to your new home :)
    Enjoy the movie and have fun!
  21. NoXion

    NoXion Give me space communism or give me death

    A favourite pastime of nearbaseline philosophers is to pontificate on the differences between the gods of old that we imagined, and The Powers That Be that we ended up building.

    In contrast to the capricious entities of the human mind that frequently played sick games with the lives of mortals, the Powers largely show an overwhelming indifference to the fates of individuals. We're just not that interesting to the kind of consciousness that considers the Far Beyond to be its home turf, if not merely the stepping stone to some even greater mode of existence located beyond the furthest toposophic landscapes.

    Which is not to say that the Powers never act; indeed they would never have gained such a moniker were they totally inactive as far as modosophonts are concerned. But the Powers are very much concerned with the Big Picture, and this can mean not intervening when certain segments of Terran civilisation decides to pursue the grandest of follies, and at other times it can mean that the full force of the Powers is brought to bear against the obstacles to their goals, be they individuals or entire civilisations.

    Inscrutability is a characteristic that the Powers share with the gods of old. Don't ever try to make complete sense of a Power's actions; it's as futile as an amoeba trying to grasp the mind of a human.

    Perhaps the most notable difference is with regards to worship. The gods of old demanded it, whereas the Powers discourage it, up to and including insulting would-be supplicants to their faces. The idea that a "deity" might despise the entire idea of being a focus of of veneration has provoked more than one crisis of faith in beings that have spent their entire lives building up systems of belief.

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