Which Heart? A Very Bite-Sized Valentine

witchheart (1)
Artwork by Joshua Insole

 

Friday the 13th of February: Part One

The witch staggered into the clearing clutching the man’s body. She stumbled to her knees, for his weight was greater than her own, but she did not drop him. She would not drop him, not ever. With a grunt that might have been a howl of rage, she lurched to her feet, arms cradling the lifeless frame.

The plinth was just up ahead – it wasn’t far. Just a little bit further… Either side gnarled trees and twisted roots watched her progress, hidden eyes twitching in the dense foliage. The air was perfectly still; not a branch wavered, not a leaf rustled.

Agnes tottered over to the platform and carefully laid Sachin’s body upon it. She caressed his face and bellowed a sob. Raising her fists to the sky, the sob turned into a scream of grief and hatred. “Why?” crowed the witch. “Why, why, oh why?

But all was not lost – for she was a daughter of witches, was she not? Did she not have a long line of sorceresses stretching far back in her family tree? Did enchanted blood not run in her veins? Was she not trained in the magics? Was she not a skilled spellcaster and potions brewer? All that she’d learned, all that she’d dedicated herself to – her entire life’s work – if it could not be used now, then what had been the point?

Agnes took one last longing gaze Sachin’s peaceful face. With his eyes shut as they were, she could almost imagine he were sleeping. Almost. If it were not for the cuts and bruises that adorned his fair complexion, she might have been able to believe the lie. “Oh, my sweet, I tried to tell you… But, oh, you were just too pure for this world.” She brushed his cold lips once with her own.

And then she got to work.

 

Thursday the 12th of February

“There he is!” came the hoarse voice. “The one that cavorts with witches! He’s one o’ them!”

“Satanist! Filthy Satanist!” joined in another voice, bloodcurdling in its rage.

“Demon! Demon!” added another, but by then the choir of yells and shouts had blended together into one great, incoherent din.

Sachin knew what was coming before it happened, and he was powerless to stop it. What is one man against a crowd? A single person versus a murderous mob, baying for blood? She wasn’t there to protect him – a fact she’d later lock away within the chambers of her heart, where it would twist and coil like a venomous snake. Agnes would later reason that even if she couldn’t have stopped them, at least she’d have been there, with him, by his side. That would have been something.

But she avoided them out of fear. Sachin told her they were harmless, that their differences weren’t as extreme as she thought. But Agnes knew what they could be like; she’d had dealings with them in the past. They were always the same. They had been vicious and cruel to her as a child – barely older than a witchling – and they were vicious and cruel to her in adulthood. Time did not dull the razor-sharp blade of prejudice.

As far as Agnes was concerned, Sachin was the only good thing to have ever come from their community. Sachin had been the only one of them that had broken away from the pack, to speak to her, to acknowledge her, to treat her as one treats their own. And from those small gestures – those kind words, those honest smiles, those exchanged glances – a great love blossomed and grew, nurtured by the pair of them.

He tried to slowly ease her back into the village, despite her concerns. He saw the good in them. Well, wasn’t that always the case? Did he not see the good in her as well? Where others only saw darkness and danger? Did Sachin not see the wonders of the world, choosing to ignore its uglier sides? He had a childlike innocence, a childlike goodness – untainted by the world. He just wanted to unite the two halves of his life – was that so monstrous?

Agnes wanted to be proved wrong, oh, sweet heavens, she wanted to be proved wrong.

But in the end, their final act had proven her right.

They had killed him. The uneducated fools! Obsessed with their narrowminded superstitious and flawed religion! They couldn’t hurt her, so they’d gone after the one she held in her heart. And why? Because he’d dared to fall in love with a witch. Was that really such a crime?

She’d never harmed a single one of them. She’d never so much as used a flower from one of their gardens in her brew. They had it in their minds that she was in league with Satan, killing their babies in the night, blighting their crops and casting spells of disease and ruin over their village. She’d never done such things! She was a white witch, a healing witch; her soul belonged to her, it had never been sold to any other being, infernal or celestial. And yet, they’d pointed accusatory fingers at her all the same.

And they’d killed Sachin in cold blood, all the same.

 

Friday the 13th of February: Part Two

It wasn’t working. She couldn’t do it. No matter how hard she tried, no matter the number or strength of the incantations she uttered, no matter the potions and brews she anointed his cold brow with, Sachin remained dead.

Agnes buried her head into the familiar pillow of Sachin’s chest, her cries muted in the silence of the clearing. Overhead, the yellow moon hung fat and pregnant. All around the plinth, books were scattered in the clearing. Tossed and discarded when their inner secrets failed to yield the result that Agnes sought: to return Sachin to this mortal world, to have his pulse beat once more, to have his heart thud within the cage of his chest, to have his eyes look once more into hers. The tomes lay in haphazard heaps, some half-buried in piles of leaves, others entangled in snarls of roots that appeared to have grown around them, the vines trying to choke life from crumpled page.

The white witch sobbed and pounded the podium with her clench fist, relishing the flare of pain that rocketed up her arm. “Damn you!” she screamed. Agnes wasn’t sure if she spoke to herself or to the magic she thought she possessed. If she couldn’t do this one thing, then what had it all been for? The isolation, the alienation, the rejection, the years of torment and anguish… Was it all for naught? The tears overflowed from her in a deluge, she tried not to stem the flood.

But then a thought came to her. The idea arrived whole and complete, appearing within her mind with brilliant clarity. Her cries hiccoughed to a stop.

There was one other she could turn to. One she had never turned to before.

Agnes stood up and wiped the tears from her eyes and the snot from her face. The witch took in a deep breath and shook her hands, waving off the blanket of despair. “Don’t grieve yet, girl,” she whispered. “There still might be a chance.”

She looked around at the clearing. This was a place of magic, it was true. It hadn’t been used for that, at least, not that she was aware of. She certainly hadn’t used it for that, at any rate. But a place of magic is a place of magic, all the same. Agnes was now nodding to herself. If not the magics she practiced, why not the ones she’d never touched? Granted, she wasn’t well-versed in them, but there had to be some useful tidbits of information scattered throughout the library of tomes she’d brought here. There had to be something that could help her. And if not, the witch had a feeling in her gut that she’d instinctively know what to do, when the time came.

Once she’d collected her hastily thrown aside books, caressing their spines and whispering apologies into their pages as she did so, Agnes set about the first task: drawing the sign. She had no writing implements with her, but that turned out to not be an issue. The leaves still blanketed the ground from when they’d fallen that previous winter – they’d not been disturbed or disintegrated, in spite of the seasons that had passed. Time moved differently in this clearing. Using autumn’s leavings as a canvas, the witch drew the symbol in the dirt, parting the trees’ spent offerings as she went.

When Agnes was finished, she was dirty and sweating, her hands stained dark with the earth. The healing woman stood back and admired her last act as a witch of the white. The black soil contrasted nicely with the burnt colours of the leaves, revealing the sign that she’d meticulously made with her own bare hands. She’d worked around the plinth that held Sachin’s body, so that the platform that cradled her beloved sat at the centre. It was a simple symbol, but one that she knew held great power.

An inverted pentagram.

 

Saturday the 14th of February: Valentine’s Day

“Was it worth it?” asked Sachin, a grim look on his face. He was staring out of the window of their little cottage. He took a deep breath. “All of this… for me?”

Agnes smiled at him. “Of course, my sweet. Didn’t I say I’d give the world for you?”

“I didn’t know you meant literally.”

“I always mean what I say,” Agnes said in the haughty manner that had always made him laugh. Sachin grinned at that, but his smile quickly faltered.

She continued. “Besides, they were no good. Didn’t they kill you, my sweet? Didn’t they steal you from this world? Away from me? For the price of your love?”

Sachin raised his eyebrows and nodded. “And painfully, too. I still remember those last moments vividly—”

“And trust me when I say I’ll work on erasing those dreadful memories.”

“I know you will, my love,” said Sachin softly. “What you say is true. They did hurt me. They did cause anguish, even as I pleaded with them to stop. They did end up taking my life—”

“They murdered you—”

“And yet,” said Sachin, gazing once more out at the new world in which the lovers found themselves in. “Did they deserve this? Did they bring this upon themselves?”

“They did and they did,” said Agnes, swooping over to where Sachin stood. She took his hands in hers and kissed each one. “I’d do it all over again. Anything for you, my sweet. Everything for you.”

Sachin looked into her eyes, searching. For a moment, a cloud of uncertainty hovered over his face. Then he smiled, sweeping the clouds away, sunshine breaking through. “I love you, Agnes, my love.” And then he kissed her, the way he had done when they’d been young and in love. Now they were older, and much had changed, but they were still very much in love. Perhaps more so than they had been, which the witch had previously thought impossible.

“I love you too, Sachin, my sweet.”

 

Friday the 13th of February: Part Three

The wind swirled around her, the heavens above turning a ghastly shade of green. Air that had been still minutes prior now whipped viciously about her, whirling chaotically around the plinth. Skies that had been clear earlier that evening were now obscured with clouds; the fat belly of the moon hidden behind the growing tempest. The leaves that had blanketed the glade’s ground now danced on the spiralling airwaves.

But somehow, the pentagram remained. Oh yes, it remained.

A thunderclap split the sky overhead and the dirt under her feet rumbled as something beneath cracked. With a grating, tearing sound, the ground began to shift and undulate, sods of earth here and there falling away into nothingness. And beneath it all, there was another noise: the noise of souls screaming in agony, the noise of eternal fires blazing with intensity… and the noise of something roaring. Something enormous. Something animalistic. Something evil.

A pitch-black hole appeared in the ground between Agnes and Sachin, the dirt that had been there a second before was now gone – dropping down into The Abyss. The pungent tang of sulphur stung her nostrils, and she had to refrain from recoiling at the stench. Agnes understood – in spite of her sorrow – that what happened next would be crucial. She should show no weakness, nor should she fail to employ the use of her wits.

Then, as she knew would happen, The Beast crawled up from out of his pit. The nasty stink of rotten eggs was joined by The Beast’s reek. It was the barnyard’s bouquet of animals, the abattoir’s aroma of rotting meat. Agnes tried to focus her vision upon the abomination that had punched its way up from the fiery depths but found that her eyes watered, and her sight doubled and crossed nauseatingly. The witch that was white no longer settled her eyes’ focus on the ground near where The Beast stood. At the periphery of her vision, she could make out one gigantic cloven hoof.

WHO DARES SUMMON ME? asked The Beast. Somehow it did not seem to speak aloud, the words just emerged in her mind, roaring within the frail confines of her brain. Agnes winced at the volume, which sent a bolt of pain ripping through her skull. WHO DARES TO CALL FOR THE RULER OF HELL BY NAME? WHO DARES?

Ignoring the throbbing migraine that had begun to bloom behind her left eye, Agnes took a defiant step towards The Beast, still keeping her gaze locked on the ground ahead, she would never let that meaty leg leave her sight, for it would mean death. “I do!” she bellowed, not matching The Beast in volume but equalling him in ferocity. “I, Agnes Pendel! I call upon you, Satan!”

There was a brief pause as The Beast appeared to recoil slightly. VERY WELL, MY CHILD. AND WHAT IS IT YOU DESIRE? WHY HAVE YOU SUMMONED ME TO THIS EARTHLY PLANE? FOR WHAT PURPOSE HAVE YOU ROUSED ME?

“Return to me that which was stolen from me! That which I hold most dear in my heart! Return to me my love, my sweet! He was a mortal, lost before his due time! Return his heart to mine!”

WHICH HEART? asked The Beast. WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH FOR YOUR OWN? WHICH MORTAL DO YOU LAY CLAIM TO? WHICH HEART? SPEAK, MY CHILD.

“The one that lies before you: Sachin. Sachin Alby. Murdered at the hands of vermin,” declared Agnes, spitting the last word out with pure venom. “Murdered by fools and cretins!”

A second pause as The Beast considered what Agnes had said. THERE WILL BE A PRICE, said The Beast, at last.

“I’ll pay it.”

IT WILL BE DEAR, rumbled The Beast. YOU CAN HAVE YOUR MORTAL RETURNED TO YOU. BUT THESE LANDS WILL BE CURSED FROM THIS DAY FORTH.

“Will he be the same? No trickery, Beast! Answer me!”

Silence for a moment. YES. HE WILL BE. THE MORTAL KNOWN AS SACHIN ALBY SHALL RETURN TO HIS LIFE AS HE WAS.

The witch considered this, nodding. “And what of the curse? What price is it that I must pay?”

YOU WILL GIVE THESE LANDS TO ME. THIS PLACE WILL BECOME AN EXTENSION OF HELL. THE DEAD WILL NOT DIE HERE. And then, somehow, Agnes could feel The Beast beginning to smile. It was chilling, bloodcurdling sensation. THE DECEASED WILL WALK THIS EARTH.

“I—” stuttered Agnes, frowning. Her words caught in her throat.

BUT YOUR MORTAL SHALL BE RETURNED TO YOU. YOUR HEARTS WILL ONCE MORE BE UNITED, AND YOU TWO SHALL NOT SUFFER THAT WHICH I WILL SOW. A GIFT, IF YOU WILL, AS A SHOW OF… GOOD FAITH. Was that a joke? Had the infernal creature just cracked a joke?

Agnes stood there, in the eye of the storm, as the world about her swirled and her thoughts within her swirled. The witch knew she didn’t have long to ponder this oh so important decision. This was The Beast, after all. She stared at the ground, the muscular leg with its cloven hoof at the corner of her vision, thinking it over as rapidly as she could. Agnes could feel The Beast’s gaze burning into her, could feel the weight of his expectation. But, really, what was there to consider? She’d summoned him for a reason.

She glanced upwards – past the abomination which no human eyes could look upon – to where Sachin lay, lifeless upon the plinth. As her eyes once more took in the distressing sight of her beloved’s dead body, the grief that she’d forgotten during this little palaver wrapped its icy grip around her heart once more.

“I accept,” she said, firmly and without hesitation. “I accept the terms of your deal, Beast.”

The Beast grinned once more and thundered his cacophonous laugh. VERY GOOD, MY CHILD, VERY GOOD, he crooned. SO IT IS AGREED, SO IT SHALL BE DONE. And then, just as he’d entered the world, The Beast left with the booming of a thunderclap.

The wind died instantly, the leaves cascading to the ground with a skeletal clatter. The clouds that had blotted out the waxy glow of the moon began to dissipate, drifting away on the ghost of a breeze. In the glade, all was calm once more.

So lost in the tranquillity of the scene – and at the relief that the infernal creature was now gone – was Agnes, that she almost missed Sachin opening his eyes and looking around in bewilderment. She ran over to him, skirting the gaping holes in the ground that pockmarked the skin of the world. “Sachin!” she cried. “Sachin, my sweet! It worked! It worked! You’re here! You’re here!

“Agnes, what—” She interrupted him with a flurry of kisses, peppering his skin with loving pecks, from brow to chin, from cheek to cheek. Laughing, Sachin pulled her in close in an embrace, wrapping his arms around her, clutching her, squeezing her.

They remained that way for some time, holding each other, gently rocking back and forth, tears happily flowing.

All the while, Agnes tried to ignore the yawning voids in the dirt where the earth hadn’t healed.

She also tried to pretend that the lingering odour of sulphur wasn’t there.

 

Friday the 13th of February: Part Four

A dense fog started to seep through the village, nobody knew from whence it had come. It seemed to have trickled up through the very ground itself – a gift, perhaps, from the underworld. The fog brought with it an ill wind and a nasty stench. The elders of the village grumbled to themselves – and to anybody else who’d listen – about bad omens and ominous signs.

And, for once in their miserable lives, they were right.

At first, nothing major changed. The fog simply came and settled across the village, dampening spirits, extinguishing flames and candles and lights, chilling the bones, causing grown men to shiver and teeth to chatter.

But then a sound could be heard. It was hard to hear it, at first, as the heavy fog dampened all noise. Slowly, however, the sound increased in volume. It was hard to say exactly what it was, but it sounded like the shifting of soil, of the cracking of coffins, of the splintering of caskets. It sounded like dead hands clawing at six feet of dirt, scrambling to feel the cool kiss of fresh air once more. It sounded like the moans of those who have passed, the groans of those departed, the sorrowful cries of those deceased.

The first person to truly grasp the gravity of the situation that had befallen them was the local gravedigger, as he sat in his humble hut on the outskirts of the village’s burial grounds, a mug of ale clasped in his arthritic clutches. Although the fog was dense, it was not sufficient enough to strangle the agony and fear from the poor man’s screams, as they echoed into the night.

All across the village, people turned towards the terrifying shrieks and squeals; the departing song of a man being eaten alive.

It was not long until the rest of the village folk became very closely acquainted with the terrors that had not stayed dead. The death cries of the gravedigger paled in comparison the chorus of screeches that soon began to rise into the darkness, as the villagers were torn limb from limb.

There were, however, two that were left safe from the filth that had been belched from the underworld.

Only two.

 

13th February 2020

 

Written for Valentine’s Day, 2020

14 thoughts on “Which Heart? A Very Bite-Sized Valentine

  1. Gary

    Happy Valentines Day my precious…but a deal with the trickster himself? I’d call that a shade risqué…. lands, if I read right, didn’t have a radius as such. One might assume, on face value and trust, it refers to village, but track records with the beast might infer a more “global” design. Shades of the dead will rise…

    “Dr. Peter Venkman:
    This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.

    Mayor:
    What do you mean, “biblical”?

    Dr Ray Stantz:
    What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff.

    Dr. Peter Venkman:
    Exactly.

    Dr Ray Stantz:
    Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling.

    Dr. Egon Spengler:
    Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes…

    Winston Zeddemore:
    The dead rising from the grave.

    Dr. Peter Venkman:
    Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together – mass hysteria”

    Or…. Pet Semetary…. is Agnes sure the returning Sachin is not…changed beneath the veil? So many dimensions to explore…although one does note the surname is Pendal. Witch trial material indeed. Or is that Pendle? Oddly Wayland’s love was related upward in time to witch trials too in the Dragon Stone thingy.

    I do like the underlying theme of prejudice too. It’s a powerful message in today’s world too. Agnes in her twisted eternity doesn’t end up as Old Strittie I hope 😱 There’s always a price to be paid by the witch casting the spell after all. Was there unspoken “small print”?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joshua G. J. Insole

      Thanks for having a read of this one, Gary! Bit longer than the BB entries. I was quite happy with it, overall.

      I did like to leave the extent of the trade slightly ambiguous for this precise reason. 😉 Maybe I’ll further explore the aftermath, and how far reaching the Devil’s deal actually is, and whether Sachin is still himself in a BB entry? As I said on the other thread, I’ll see what the prompt is. I am feeling like doing a “sequel” of sorts, though, next time…

      Hahaha, great quote! As a sidenote: I am really looking forward to the new Ghostbusters movie. I really hope they capture the sheer maniacal fun of the first two!

      Thanks, the theme came up quite naturally as the story moved along! As I said in the other comment thread — there should always be a truth beneath it all. Hmm, now there’s an idea! Maybe there’s a subclause to the deal that curses our magical heroine… After all, there is always a price!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gary

        Trades with the Devil are always ambiguous. Trickster and always the under pin that truth is elusive there. You might agree a deal, but nothing says the bargain from hell will hold water. Think Darth Vader and Lando what’s his name when Han Solo was frozen in carbonite. “Pray I do not alter it further…”

        Then Pet Semetary… they come back changed… although I rather think I already said that! When you say new Ghostbusters are you referring to the female cast one? I thought that was true to the spirit of the originals with cameos from the original cast too. Or are you referring to Afterlife which I think is out this year?? In which case I’m with you!

        Always a price…my first thought now is he’s back, she’s fine, but they are separated somehow so can see each other but never touch or converse. Perhaps the ambition is to drive suicide so the souls are lost to the Devil in the end?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joshua G. J. Insole

        Indeed, there’s always the crossing of fingers behind the back! Good Star Wars quote, too. Accept that the Devil will trick you, hope that he won’t trick you too badly…

        “Sometimes dead is better…” I wonder, if he’s back, how would he be changed? Something to ponder, for future chapters! I didn’t even know there was a female cast one — I must’ve been living under a rock 😂 But yes, I was referring to Afterlife, which I’m looking forward to! (I know what I’m watching this weekend, though — this other recent one! Gah, how’d I miss that?).

        Oh wow, that’s a fantastic idea Gary! I think I might really have to take that idea and run with it, if you don’t mind me using it? If it’s not something you want to use for your own works, then I think I’d really consider that route!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gary

        Now that’s trying to give the Devil a nicer side ha, ha. Does said deity actually do lesser tricks? Unless of, course, they are leading towards other monstrous outcomes.

        Ah, somehow I did think perhaps you’d missed the third one. You’ll have to let me know what you thought of it. I think they did a pretty good job personally.

        Feel free, I often drop ideas out when reading others stories. Sometimes banter can help create new ways of thinking about characters and plots. Ideas I’m never short of…time on the other hand I seem to. Be interesting to see where you took it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joshua G. J. Insole

        Perhaps he does “lesser” tricks in order to dupe his would-be victims into believing he’s not all that bad, thus earning misplaced trust. And then, before they know it, they’ve fallen for a “greater” trick!

        I haven’t gotten around to watching it just yet — went to visit the in-laws near Vienna for the weekend. Caught some illness on the train home, and I’m praying that it’s not corona, given our close proximity to Italy!

        Yes, our conversations often get the ball rolling in my mind — many times in directions it wouldn’t have on its own. If only we could freeze time for a while and not age… Then we could read, watch and write all that we wanted to!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gary

        Now that is the mark of the trickster. Beguiling pseudo truths that are no more than bait to a greater prize.

        I had a weird thought too re Corona… that was the name of my BB story I Am Corona! Then again I wrote God Flu too…. that appeared in Rachaels short story anthology too. Hmm, that’s a publication so why am I procrastinating lol. Hopefully you just caught a bug. Mind you, if you have to self isolate write a book! That’s my game plan!

        Might be I need to do just that. Not freeze time as such, but slow down. Learn how to relax better. Set a day aside to just watch stuff and write or read.

        Just got my Nano camp email too…. that’s next month already. Better sort that post out as they’ve changed a few things enabling cabin chat and such like.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joshua G. J. Insole

        Ah, yes! I think I went back and read that one after reading the “sequel”. I haven’t read God Flu — sounds most intriguing! Can I read this online?

        Ha, yes, you’re published already — the first of many, I hope! I would ask, “So why the fear?” but I understand it all too well myself.

        As for the illness, I’m still not over it and neither is my partner — I wonder if we have caught mild cases after returning from Vienna. We’re young and (mostly) healthy *knock on wood* so, I’m sure it’d only be mild. That, combined with the length of this thing makes me wonder… 🤔

        I’m with you on that one, Gary. I need to learn the same. Divide my time evenly into sections. Reading time, writing time, and so on. Mind you, I’ve been saying I should do that for over a year! The dreaded P-word again!

        Like

      • Gary

        Yes, God Flu is on here, both parts in fact. I’ll dig up the link it you still want to read it.

        Really sorry about the delay too. I’m struggling to process the last two weeks. “Normality” to chaos inside the time it takes to self isolate. Pub is a Facebook tale, youngest is suddenly out of school permanently as it’s A-level year with no exams, OH working from home so case of full house, mingling with cabin fever.

        The fear with me is irrational. I know if I tread the path to self publishing I’d not baulk at it thereafter. Trad publishing is a tough one. It could take years to get anywhere. Even then no real guarantee. Anthologies are one thing yes, but that’s collaborative and in fairness Rachael did most of the actual sorting it out.

        Hopefully you’re feeling better by now too. Since we last caught up, to coin King, the worlds moved on.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joshua G. J. Insole

        Yes, I’d very much like to read it! Sounds like it’s right up my alley. I’ve got the time to read more things now! Although I find myself struggling to do things I’ve now got the time to do, even when you remove the obvious obstacles of technological hiccoughs creating roadblocks. I’ve not written or read more than usual. Perhaps the oppressive nature of a global pandemic and the lockdown kinda squeezes your motivation out of you?

        Ha, I think the delay I’ve taken has been considerably longer, so no worries there! Yes, I know very much the feeling — unfortunately my partner and I have an apartment with no balcony in the middle of the city, so we’re getting quite restless! I think it’s okay to not be operating at maximum functionality right now, given the conditions we’re under. I read a nice article quite recently, pertaining to this, if you’re interested: https://introvertdear.com/news/its-okay-to-just-exist-right-now/

        Yes, the trad route seems to be very sink or swim. Either you get somewhere or you run into walls. Even if you do get published, there’s no guarantee of repeat success or being kept on with a publisher. Self-publishing seems to be slightly gentler, although — again — there’s no guarantee that people will even buy/read the damn thing. I suppose it’s like we said on our other thread — we’ll just have to keep doing it for the enjoyment, and see what we see.

        Yes, feeling much better now, as is my partner, thanks Gary! It took us quite a considerable amount of time to get over it, and we’re still not completely 100%. Makes us wonder if we did have it — called up the hotline, but were told that testing wasn’t necessary. Isolated anyway, just to ensure we didn’t pass it on!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gary

        There are two parts. The first used a years worth of BB prompts and started with a joke challenge to do that from Rachael. Odd what it through up as I had just finished The Stand at the time too

        https://fictionisfood.com/2016/05/14/the-god-strain/#more-600

        Part two is here

        https://fictionisfood.com/2016/05/24/the-god-strain-ii/#more-794

        I’m also aligned there too. Hardly read a paragraph, let alone upscaled my writing word count. Do have sunburn though…not sure which is better. Jobs done after too long waiting or writing and adding a new book to the slush pile!

        That article is most pertinent too. Just exist in the moment and leave anything outside your direct control alone. Rather up the mindfulness street.

        I think that ethos works re publishing too. Don’t overthink why it might go wrong, just punch it and see. Self publishing does require some on costs mind where skill sets fail. Editing and proofing are sort of must do’s. The others being cover design and formatting across reading platforms. That’s before trying to promote it to actually get it read lol.

        Great to hear you’re feeling much better too. The worst thing has to be not knowing. Heavy cold or not? I feel isolating for the former on wide scales is not too hot. Society isn’t geared to being idle long term. The biggest MH lures are not knowing and losing routines to emptiness. I guess that’s why I’ve been jobbing!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joshua G. J. Insole

        I’ll bookmark those two, and get around to reading them soon! I’m very intrigued, especially considering that you wrote it after The Stand — I love that book unreservedly! Utterly brilliant. To write something of that caliber is certainly something to aim for, isn’t it?

        Oh dear, I hope your sunburn has gotten better in the time it’s taken me to respond! (Eight days? I feel like my grip on time has loosened, and the days are passing through my fingers like a slipping rope.) I aim to read the current BB entries today or tomorrow!

        I quite like the DIY mindset, although it can feel like biting off more than you can chew, at times. I have that approach with music — write it, record it, mix/master it, create the artwork, publish it all myself. Cover design and formatting I could do, within reason, but proofreading and editing I might struggle with — I’d like to have someone else’s eyes to go through it, to spot the problems I might otherwise glaze over! As for self-promotion… I wouldn’t even know where to begin with that. 😂

        Indeed — we were rather paranoid about passing it on to someone who might struggle with fighting it off, such as the elderly and the young. I must admit, our routines here have fallen into disarray — days of nothingness, followed by manic days of endless chores, itching to do things. It ebbs and flows, like the tide…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gary

        No rush, they might show my earlier word-craft lacking a tad. Love to be able to write something of that calibre too. We can but keep plodding though.

        DIY here has escalated. I’ve done shed loads at the pub while ensuring my cellar lockdown remains safe. Folk keep asking why I go round…pointing out there’s three carbon dioxide cylinders full, of gas seems to reach them after pointing out leaks are quicker killers than Covid. Better excuse than caressing the lines and checking for issues that might affect that first pint!

        Done quite a bit at home too. All those long standing niggles finally finding completion…mind you there’s a fair few of them!

        Even King says you can’t self edit as you’re too familiar with the text. It leads to overlooking things fresh eyes spot. With you on self promotion too though 😂

        Liked by 1 person

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