Shadows on the Moon (Alphabetic 20)

Atypical shadows on the moon’s surface were the first hints of something unexpected in the second extra-solar system mankind had reached. By the time the images of those anomalies had been analysed and inflated by the media, the first manned mission to its surface was underway. Complications dogged their journey, from equipment failures to broken bones.

Despite all the problems the eight man crew achieved orbit only one day behind schedule. Each man had his face pressed up to a porthole to get the best view of the lunar landscape. For Charlie, captain and leader of the expedition the sight of the moon’s uneven surface gave him an unaccountable tightness in his chest, but as it matched the usual tension in his stomach just before a mission he dismissed the feeling.

Gel sprayed into the gap between man and machine, filling the exotic armoured spacesuits to pressurised perfection. High-fiving and joking, Charlie, Alex and Samuel climbed into the orbital shuttle and prepared for their lunar expedition. In between the release of the docking clamps and the shuttle sliding free something went wrong. Just as the three men began to fall towards the surface their ship exploded – that image of the shuttle falling away to the moon was the last thing mission control saw.

Knowing that they were going to die on the moon was a secondary concern for the three astronauts. Light from the explosion had briefly blinded them and its force sent their shuttle into a dangerous spin. Maintaining their even approach was vital and they had almost regained it when they hit the ground. No one was hurt; their cushioned armour protected them and had drawn out their lives. One hundred days had been the target length of their mission – there, and back: they would surely be dead by the time help arrived.

Petulance gets you nowhere in space and so the trio of stranded astronauts were determined to do something useful for the three days worth of air which they had left. Quickly, but without haste Samuel established their location and found they were only slightly off target. Riding high with each step they strode across the barren landscape. Soon they reached the area of unusual shadows which had inspired their disastrous journey.

The ground sloped sharply upwards and the rock thrust out in strange conical structures. “Unless the termites got here first, someone made these,” commented Charlie. Virtues in space include calmness and reason – both of which were forgotten when Alex started screaming. When Charlie had idly joked about termites he had no idea how accurate he was. Xenobiologists from home would find the creatures fascinating, but as they gnawed their way through the spacemen’s armour they were terrifying. Yellow gel leaked and mingled into the dripping blood as the alien insects dragged the men into their nests.

Zooming in from space, only the abandoned shuttle and the bloody trails gave any indication of how badly the previous expedition had ended.

Erratic Scribbles

All quiet on the Pigheart front eh?

Yes I’m afraid so. I do have a couple of stories of the piratical knave in the works but I have been neglectful this past week. That said we’ve had a pair of de Gashes of late which I’m quite pleased with: The Eldritch Entertainment (in which poor Franklyn takes a sideways slide into some more HP Lovecraftian territory) and The Recreational Entertainment (a tale of dogging, of all things, and a general massacre in the park). I have been adding pirate stories in audio form onto Reverbnation, which assuages my guilt somewhat.

How Scrawleth Thee?

Their development has caused me to muse on my writing process, such as it is. Both of the de Gashe stories above have been hanging around for a while in various stages of development. This is because I tend to write in flurries – scribbling as much as I can on a given topic or storyline until the muse deserts me. And who knows when she will return? Some stories I find I can pick up again easily and add to or write it through to completion.

In The Recreational Entertainment‘s case it was a straight scribe of half the story in one go and then caught it up the next day. The Eldritch Entertainment hovered at three paragraphs for about three months until I stumbled across it in my writing book, chuckled and proceeded. That’s nowhere near a record for me – the most recent Captain Pigheart, The Selachian Damsel Adventure was started two years ago with the opening drowning story. Then… nothing. That’s all I had, so I left it. The Booty Adventure was scribbled over three weeks during one of my favourite writing slots – the half hour I carve out before the weekly climbing session.

Musing Away

I try to write whenever I’m inspired to do so – almost all of the pirate and de Gashe stories start with a phrase or sentence which pops unbidden into my head. If it’s not captured in a writing book, on Twitter or tapped into Evernote I know it will be lost. This butterfly attention span can be beneficial – when I’m stuck on one story I can flutter over to the next, and back again. The best bit is when I finally hammer out a first (hideously handwritten) draft and get to type it up, then print it out and scribble all over it again with pink ink. Not all of them need it though. The Harmonious Adventure did – that was a bastard to hammer into the shape I knew was lurking within. Some just write themselves – it’s great! I’d really like to know what makes the difference.

Discipline (is in the eye of the beholder)

I’m trying something new. Well, something old that I haven’t done for ages. My sleep habits are generally terrible, but I’m fixing my life (sort of) by getting up at a set time and having a half hour after breakfast and before work for writing time. I originally found this practice labelled ‘morning pages’. The idea is that you write something, anything, dear god whatever pours through your pen just to be in the flow of writing and creating.

So you should be seeing more very short stories which will be fairly rough around the edges. I’m aiming to write a 300-800 word story a day (unless I get involved in something like I did today and stretch it across a couple of mornings) which I then need to type up (I cannot deal with keyboards in the morning), tidy a bit or discard. I reckon that’s going to equate to at least two stories on’t site per week. If it’s not – complain. I will listen, fret, and sort it out.

For now I’ll be posting them under Morning Pages – I hope you enjoy them, and that I manage to keep it up! Please let me know.