If you haven’t been to www.w0rmh0le.net, you should! There are games streamed, summer interviews with artists and programmers, and a new story written by me. It’s a dystopian cyberpunk story, which is waaaaaay outside of my comfort zone, but both of which are genres/aesthetics that I enjoy.
Here is a snippet from the story. You can find the ongoing series at w0rmh0le Lore.
Pretending to be human always proved difficult for Wesley, no matter how often he had to do it.
Of course, nobody in the upper echelons was truly human anymore. Augmentation and redesign were the most lucrative markets, and everybody took advantage of summer sales on new limbs, sharper eyes and, of course, weaponized add-ons. To some extent, Wesley couldn’t blame them; the city was getting more dangerous as desperation rose in the face of the new mayor. He had given jobs to AI in order to save a dime for his important corporate backers, and the workers of Sodoria felt the strain.
Too bad it wasn’t the poorest of the city that could utilize new weapons to defend themselves. The imbalance between the two made it too easy for the richest of Sodoria to decide the fate of the poorest. Illicit markets were growing, and so was the population in the cellblocks.
After an extended leave of handling some personal crises, I am back! A couple of things will start happening:
I will be updating my stories. Check here for updates.
I will be updating w0rmh0le Lore regularly. The third chapter is already submitted for editing! If you like cyberpunk dystopian stories, check it out!
You will be hearing a lot more about Hubris. I have some events coming up in the D.C./Baltimore area, as well as an interview on w0rmh0le’s Summer Interview Series on Thursday, July 28th at 3 pm. Come join as I talk about writing, inspiration and being an author while navigating a mood disorder.
Those are the plans for now. Today, I officially submitted Hubris for copyright and also sent it off for a review by American Library Association’s publication, Booklist.
Revna waited every day for the mysterious stranger to reappear in her life. She couldn’t help but wonder if she had been speaking directly to a god, and if so, which one had graced her with their presence and help. She often gazed off toward the edge of the woods, lost in her daydreams, waiting to see the familiar figure outlined in the shadows.
A year passed by, however, and that day still had not come. There were no crunches of footfall through the fallen leaves of autumn, no footprints left in the snows of winters, no treaded grasses of spring. She casually asked about her in the nearby village when going to do business, but the description was often vague enough to be confused with many of the women; tall, strongly built, blond hair, blue eyes seemed to describe a good portion of the surrounding towns. While waiting for customers to visit her cart, Revna would scan the crowds looking for the woman, to no avail.
Revna longed to traipse through the woods again, despite her last experience. She felt a desperate pull toward the trees. It sometimes felt as though her feet longed to move despite her insistence that they stay put. One day, as the summer was transitioning to the autumn and the chill was back in the breeze as it had been on that fateful night, Revna could resist no longer.
“Father,” she called, pulling on the white cloak that she kept in her pile of outer layers, “I’m going to pick some mushrooms in the forest. I’ll be back in a couple of hours at the most.”
I have decided to post my Viking Siren story in its entirety here, as well as ko-fi. If you enjoy this story and want to leave a small donation, you can do so here.
Dusk was falling over the village. The nighttime predators would soon make their way out of the trees toward any unwatched cattle or sheep. Many villagers were making their way into their homes with their livestock.
One teenage girl, however, ran haphazardly around the grazing area, trying to wrangle one errant pig that evaded her grasp.
“Come on, you stupid beast!” she called after it. “Come on inside before the wolves find you!”
Sweat glistened on the girl’s brown skin even though the night had a chill in its breeze. She ran as fast as her legs would take her, diving toward the escapee. The pig veered to the left at the last minute and the girl fell into a patch of mud, streaking her thick blouse and skirt with black dirt.
“Revna!” she heard her father call. “I said catch the pig, not become one! He’s getting into the forest!”
Revna raised her head, her black braids falling over her narrowed brown eyes. She pushed herself up to her feet with a growl and took off toward the darkening trees. “I’ll get him, Father,” Revna called over her shoulder. “Don’t worry.”
The canopy of the forest hummed with the static from countless raindrops as the Warriors gathered together. The chilly afternoon near Lysefjord brought an eternity of memories flooding back to Hel, some bitter, some sweet, all crashing over her at once like the salty waves over the longboats that had helped define her bonded people so long ago. She had offered to have the ceremony in Australia for Roxy’s comfort, but the younger Siren had refused; it was often a move of respect among the Healers and Diplomats to hold the ceremony in the relinquisher’s bonded country, and Hel was happy Roxy had decided upon this route for the Warriors.
They were in the thick of the green forest, far from where any adventurous humans might hike by and find them. The smell of wet foliage invigorated Hel as she ran her hands over the sharp needles of a large spruce tree. She thought of the timber her bonded people used to make their homes, their boats and their tools. The fresh, clean scent of the spruce needles and the sound of footsteps across the blanketed forest ground almost made her forget where she was; she felt, for just a second, that she should pick up her spear and follow her bonded people to the boats.
She brought herself back to the present, tugging at one of her braids. The Warriors were trickling in, but there was still no sign of Roxy. Hel frowned, thinking of her sister’s hesitancy earlier. She had made peace with her own decision to retire from her position. She had gone through every meditation she knew of to ease her mind. If Roxy backed out now—
There was a hiss of whispers from the gathering crowd and Hel turned her attention to a large, sprawling oak tree. There stood Roxy, dressed in a red leather jacket with her favorite crimson lace tank top underneath. She had let her hair down, her black curls falling in cascades around her face and shoulders. Across her cheeks and forehead were dots of white paint and black eyeliner outlined her brown eyes.
Another short story following my new character, Hel. Part I of II.
Hel brushed her long blond hair to the right, showing off the undercut on the left side of her head. She separated a small portion of hair and braided it as steadily as she had in the old days when the humans called her the Goddess of Death and sang songs to her on their icy trips through the twisting fjords, out into the unknown perils of the open seas and new lands. She secured the small, silver clasps around the braid, beginning another.
Much had changed since her days with the Austmen. She had traded furs and skins for leather and denim, the smear of red across her face had become bright colors of eyeshadow contrasted against the dramatic black of what may have been too much eyeliner for the more modest Diplomat Sirens. Her love for silver had never diminished, however; it covered her wrists, her ears, and her fingers. Tattoos of the old runes along with pictures of crashing waves covered her left arm, left bare for all to see, thanks to her fitted denim tank-top.
She finished her braid and checked her makeup. Bright green pigment framed her blue eyes. She stood and examined the black torn jeans. They were snug—she had never been lean or petite; just the opposite. She was tall and muscular, and nearly all of her clothes were a close fit. Still, she always chose clothes that moved easily with her movements. This was key for the Lead Warrior. You had to be ready for combat at any moment.
Hel looked down at the dagger with the golden hilt on the desk in front of her. Lead Warrior for the next four hours. Soon to be “former Lead Warrior.” She would still be called to battles, still be called upon by the new Lead Warrior for her counsel. But there would be no more planning, no more orders given, and no more weight of the lives of billions on her shoulders.
She picked up the dagger, the Lead Warrior’s dagger, and examined it. One braid twisted up the grip. The bow and arrow in the center of the grip glistened in the light. This blade had been at her side since she was traversing the green lands across the seas with her bonded people long ago. She had to admit, it would be odd to part with it.
But she was so tired of being surrounded by death.
No. To be in charge of death. To truly be a Goddess of Death. The new weapons that the humans had created to impose as much destruction and mortality as possible would never be less horrific to Hel, who had charged her people to battle with bloody spears and shields soaked with death. She, who had watched countless funeral pyres and heard the calls to Odin to take those who laid down their lives in battle and the calls to her to take the enemy to Niflheim, could not bear leading these new machines of death.
Now that Part I of Darkening Horizons is finished, I am working to plan out/write up Part II. In the meantime, enjoy this story of my viking Siren, Hel, because I’ve been listening to Miracle of Sound’s “Valhalla Calling” for two days now.
Death rotted in the air around Hel.
She should have been used to it by now, as the Lead Warrior. Still, the waves of passion and fury on all sides ebbed and drained her. She gripped her shield in one hand, her bloody spear in another. The Austmen would keep this area now, and they would build their town upon the blood of the vanquished.
Hermia—or Hel, as her bonded people knew her—stood back by the giant ash tree, watching the Gael survivors struggle as their captors pushed them forward to an unknown future. She pushed the twists of her blonde hair back, her blue eyes scanning the fields for a familiar face. Somewhere, her younger sister was gathering what it left of her pride after such a loss. Hel leaned against the ash; there was no point in worrying about Morrigan. She would show up soon.
Hel closed her eyes for a moment. Soon it would be time for her to go back to the rocky, twisting fjords of freezing waters that she called home. She could do so whenever she wanted, but she would prefer to ride on the longboats of her people. She wanted to feel the spray of the waves, hear the songs of celebration. Even the celebration of death would invigorate her again. They wouldn’t be able to see her, of course. She would make sure of that. But they would believe her to be praising them, taking their enemies to Niflheim and giving her thanks for overlooking them with her icy grasp. She would be there, however, and she would take strength from the frigid winds and icy waters. Despite being known as the goddess of death, Hel longed to immerse herself in everything that flowed from life in the northlands.
The night was chilly as Francine tried to sleep. She stood from her bed and watched the moon floating through the sky as though a galleon from a shipwreck in the sea. She tiptoed to her window to look down into the courtyard. A few people milled about, and idle chatter hummed through the air. She listened to the sound of the fountain rushing, filling her head with a fuzzy, relaxing feeling as she rested her chin in her hand. She felt her eyes closing and her breathing deepen.
She intended to enjoy the feeling for moments longer before heading to bed, when a movement by the gate caught her eye. A small flicker in the shadows of the palmettos that doused the feeling of ease.
She was suddenly aware of two glowing red eyes looking up at her.
“Cici,” she whispered, her voice shaking.
Her sister didn’t stir.
“Cici, it’s here!”
“Mmph. Go to sleep, Fran,” her sister said, and turned in her bed.
Can they defy fate when their enemy wrote the rules?
As a linguistics student and book nerd, Eric didn’t think it was his fate to be surrounded by powerful women or to travel a road filled with danger and magic. But when he picks up a dusty vintage book from an antique store, he finds himself surrounded by Light lords, Dark lords, and Sirens—the ancient, winged keepers of a delicate balance between worlds invisible to humans.
Telese, the brazen Siren who appears in Eric’s dorm room, has tried to distance herself from humans while working to keep the balance between the Light World, which wants humans to progress, and the Dark World, which wants humans eradicated. After millennia of unwilling loyalty to her all-powerful father—whose orders are as calculated and heartless as his punishments for defying them—Telese fears his latest order could mean the end of humans and Sirens both.
Telese’s yearning for freedom and Eric’s passion for knowledge bring them together in a dangerous alliance. They must challenge their old beliefs to bring together the warring Light and Dark Worlds, reveal magic to humans, and rally the Sirens against the father-leader who wrote their rules.
Can Eric and Telese save humans and create a united, harmonious system of rule, or will the worlds they must align fall victim to their hubris?