I’m thinking of writing a murder mystery/crime thriller that consists only of the victim’s queued posts that keep appearing after he or she is gone.
stronghours said: "you can kill me but you can’t kill my multiple electronic prosthetic brains contained primarily in these social networking platforms"
Oh god I would do that wouldn’t I. I think you just game theorized my brain.
Chert chewed on a bit of prairie grass and watched the world scroll past him. The prairies were remarkably flat, with low grey-blue skies. The greenery has always been tinged with yellow. The humidity sucked out of the air, but the earth remained hot. The sun dusted Chert’s face with freckles, even hints of pinkness. He bought a straw hat from a cattle driver many miles back, and a corn cob pipe, and he enjoyed them for hours before the silliness of his appearance occurred to him.
The mules they purchased were stocky and fat. Not like his and Ruby’s mules, who were still shivering in stables at the Frozen Bay. In Cupressus, Chert sent the Lady Mica a reassuring letter, indicating that he’d sold many of her books. He wrote that he relished the act of selling, the warm feeling of silver and jade strips warming in his grasp. He hoped she would understand what he meant.
The mules were strong enough to carry them all, but Ruby and Conifer walked alongside. They kept to opposing sides, Chert noticed. He smoked a whole tin of prairie grass and sang the jaunty little ditties the salt miners used to sing in his childhood.
"Haulin the white white unmelting rock from deep deep in the ground. We are digging, we are trudging, down and down and down. We will go, we will go! Where no light can be found! We will dig and bury and carry down and down and down!"
The women did not join him. Conifer had no way of knowing the words, but Ruby had grown up with the sounds of the miners singing.
They seemed so happy back then, Chert reflected. Whenever he saw the miners they smiled and nearly fell over themselves with joking and giggling. The wine and brown liquor flowed constantly from their barrels, and they worked late into the night, whistling on the way home because Chert’s father did not like to hear singing when he slept.
After the crown came and took ownership of the mines, it all changed. The miner’s faces became stony and inhuman as the crags they once carved into. It was like a curse had been put on them. No longer did they work. No longer did they sing. The sight of Chert and Ruby didn’t make them smile and play and drink anymore; instead they scowled. They made unreasonable demands. He and Ruby were moved out into the guest house, and big house was torn to the ground with the miner’s bare hands.
This in the name of equality. They had seemed so happy before! Chert’s father had treated his workers so well! It made Chert’s stomach sour and sad to think of the old days, the fat roasts on holidays, the singing of the miners in the background as they walked to their duty, singing every day, no matter the cold, no matter the date. Everything was lost now.
The prairies were a monotonous sight, but wide and open. They tool the shortest road to Igneou, but knew it would take a week at least. They passed miles of tall corn stalks. They passed high fences and sad-eyed cattle swatting flies with their tales. They passed the occasional barn or farmhouse with a roadside stand, unattended until a heavy bell was clanged.
Chert rang each one, and watched the farmers running out their doors to sell to him. He bought corn, dried beef, smoking grass, tea sachets, the hat, the pipe, a few eggs, and a miniature cheesecake. Passing money to each farmer was a delight almost on par with selling.
"You get in trouble with the crown for all this?" He asked each one.
Most of the farmers eased back on their heels or spit, unimpressed, into the dirt. “Nah. Just a slap on the wrist if a knight gets us. Some of the time. Some of the time, they buy.”
Chert expected this fact to make Conifer righteous. “See? See? The crown is reasonable.”
But she didn’t speak a word. She walked alongside the mules, not even the cart, and stared straight ahead, and said nothing.
It rained one night and they pitched a tent right in the cart. Ruby curled up close to Chert and her breathing turned rhythmic and soft immediately. Conifer put on her rain clothes and crawled under the cart with her bedroll.
"What’s wrong with her?" Chert said into his sister’s tangle of hair.
Ruby woke immediately. Her eyes flashed from under the tangle. They exchanged a glance that made Chert feel very uncomfortable, but which didn’t answer his question.
The prairie began to thin out. The cattle looked smaller and thinner with each ensuing day. Then there was nothing but goat farmers and fruit driers. Finally, they passed a mill with a base half buried in sand rather than grass and dirt, and knew they’d hit the desert.
Chert called upon the miller and exchanged a few supplies for fresh water. It turned out the miller’s daughter had sweetblood. In return for a discount, Chert told the miller the name of the paddleboat captain, and explained where she could meet him to buy medicine.
"Is it cheaper from him?" She asked, clutching at her apron.
"It’s the only place you can go for it, now," Chert said. "He’s better to deal with than the old doctor, I can assure you of that, ma’am."
They camped out next to the grain storage silo that night. Conifer rose from the fire and said she was going to trouble the household about using their latrine.
"Just use it," Chert said.
She shook her squirrely mass of hair and said, “No, I’d like to thank them for their hospitality.”
Ruby stood. “Do you need me to escort you?” she said coolly.
"Ruby," Chert said, "Cool it."
The two women stared each other down. Chert though of fighting wolves. He had seen a pack in discord before; the other wolves drew back into a spectator’s circle, and let the two with the strongest spirits bay, strike, and counter until one gave up.
Conifer turned and left for the house. Ruby watched her disappear inside, huffing.
"I don’t know what happened between the two of you," Chert said, "But can’t you just act like it never went on? Go back to the way that it was?"
Her back was to him and her fists were slightly clenched. “She’s going to run away.”
"Did you hurt her, or did she hurt you?"
Ruby shook her head. “It’s not like that.”
"They say forest people taste line pine sap down there," Chert said. "Is it true?"
Ruby sat down, legs and arms folded.
"I shouldn’t make it my business. Of course you don’t want to talk about it."
They watched Conifer’s shadowy figure creep down the stairs and into the wooden outhouse. She came back quickly, dressed down to her underthings.
"You hot?" Chert asked.
"Nah," said Conifer. She scratched at her neck and armpits. "Just tired of being weighed down with all those clothes and all."
She slept with her back pressed to the silo. They woke early and packed up. From high in the cart, Chert witnessed the miller’s daughter walking from the house with a platter.
"They’re coming," he called.
Conifer ran for the girl, quick as a flash, and met her halfway in the lawn. Ruby went after her, but by the time she reached them Conifer had already taken the platter and was giving the girl a hug with her face pressed against her ear. Chert watched them separate, slowly and tensely as Ruby stood over. Then they walked back.
"What was that about?" Chert said.
Conifer held up the platter. “Nothing. Corn cookies. Let’s go.”
Chert smiled and took one. They whipped at the mules and took off, Conifer and Ruby walking on either side, Chert whistling the miner’s song in his straw hat, eating corn cookies and sipping smoke from his corn cob pipe.
It’s September 1st, which doesn’t just mean that it’s almost spiced-apple-pumpkin-sweater-toasted-marshmallow-bats-and-spiders season.
Julie Schumacher’s first novel, The Body Is Water, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. She’s a faculty member in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Minnesota, a job that presumably gave her some raw material for her new academic farce, Dear Committee Members. Book critic Maureen Corrigan has a review:
For all you teachers out there contemplating the August calendar with dismay, watching, powerless, as the days of summer vacation dwindle down to a precious few, I have some consolation to offer: a hilarious academic novel that’ll send you laughing (albeit ruefully) back into the trenches of the classroom. Julie Schumacher’s novel is called Dear Committee Members and one of the reasons why it’s such a mordant minor masterpiece is the fact that Schumacher had the brainstorm to structure it as an epistolary novel. This book of letters is composed of a year’s worth of recommendations that our anti-hero—a weary professor of creative writing and literature—is called upon to write for junior colleagues, lackluster students, and even former lovers. The gem of a law school recommendation letter our beleaguered professor writes for a cutthroat undergrad who he’s known for all of “eleven minutes,” is alone worth the price of Schumacher’s book.
Photo Jane Inman Stormer via Flickr
moaningatmidnight said: To be fair, AHS has always been a badly-written, plot hole filled, at times racist mess. It’s totally overrated and how did it win some Emmy awards is beyond me. It’s just a laughable show.
Cosigned! I don’t understand why a bunch of otherwise really progressive, social justicey people in my life have a soft spot for that show. Coven was nothing but a thousand paper-thin white blonde women sniping bitchily at each other with like two token black characters occasionally getting to vamp in the background. Every single character, (as Tom&Lorenzo pointed out in a review) was a highly offensive, drag queen caricature of womanhood. And the plot was incomprehensible garbage.
I just don’t get how justifying really offensive content by calling it “campy” is any different from a stand-up comedian justifying problematic work by calling it “ironic”. Maybe I’d be more generous if the show wasn’t a painful mess to watch.