Midnight Jolt Run

Caffeine tastes better when the city's asleep

Schematics – Part 4

Posted by Fiss on January 22, 2010

transmet1>part 1 >part 2 >part 3

They spent the evening in a mad dash of furious lovemaking. Making up for lost time, maybe.  Or maybe they both just realized that tomorrow they would have to return to their regular routine.  It didn’t matter.  Tomorrow didn’t matter.

Wet, soggy, but no longer shivering, they managed to make their way up into the bedroom.  Maybe it was the magic in the air, but Tom no longer felt like an old man, and Maria definitely didn’t feel like a little kid, and neither thought it completely strange when, as Maria was trying to coax him into another round with little kisses all over his back, that the sun came up before either of them felt tired.

They both used some minutes on Tom’s pay-as-you-go phone to call in sick, then continued to fuck like hyperactive teenagers until there was a real and serious danger of the bedroom floor cracking like the bathroom’s.

“You never do anything half-assed, do you?” Tom mumbled into her hair as they lay together that night.

She smiled at him lazily, snuggled into the sleeping bag with him.  “I learned from the best.”

He let out a little chuckle.

“We can finish it tomorrow, I think,” Maria whispered.  “The spell.  We can ground out any Lash into the pipe that burst.  Nice and hidden.”

Tom shifted uncomfortably next to her.  “I was thinking the same thing.  I didn’t want to tell you in case you thought I wasn’t being romantic enough.”

She settled against him with a kind smile.  “Tom, this is nice, but we both know it’s the work that matters first.  You said yourself that the sooner we complete this, the sooner it might work and change lives for the better.”

Despite the magic sustaining their work, both in and out of the sleeping bag, eventually the mortal need for food took hold and they left for a late night food and supply run.  They took Tom’s truck and got to the hardware store just before it closed to pick up a bunch of plywood and a cheap shower-stall.  It ate heavily into both of their spare cash, but the alternative was needing to contact one of the others in the coven for use of their bathroom.

“Maybe when this is all over we can look into that ‘dirt-to-gold’ thing Harold mentioned,” Tom muttered as he pat down his wallet.

Maria smiled at him, “I think you may get hired to start fixing other cities if this works the way it should.  I doubt you’ll be too worried about money.”

“Magic contracting?” Tom chuckled as they drove.  “Maybe.  I can only imagine what the paperwork is like, and trying to file your taxes would be a bitch.”

“Not so,” Maria said.  “I’m sure the IRS has something for everyone.”

“I wonder how much enchanting you have to do to move up in your tax bracket?”

They decided to have a proper night out to celebrate what very well could be their last night together that they weren’t taking turns forging wire-links and connecting matrix diagrams.  Maria lived in a dorm that was heavily patrolled for male-intruders, so they decided to instead get room service at a fancy little bed and breakfast.

In the morning, Tom dropped her off for her class, and drove to the warehouse with the world’s biggest shit-eating grin.  He had a few casual romantic encounters in the past, but this was so much more, so much better.  So much more complicated and refined.  He liked complicated and refined.

Sometimes, though, complicated was just that.  As he pulled up to the warehouse, he saw a familiar young man pacing back and forth around Maria’s car.  Josh looked like shit.  Assuming he didn’t drive here, he would have had to hike and bus it through some pretty rough areas of town.  He looked like he ran a great deal to get here.

Josh looked angry and relieved all at once when Thomas pulled up and got out.  “What the fuck are you doing in this Godforsaken piece of shit building with Maria?” he demanded.

“Nice to see you too, kid,” Tom replied.  “How’d you find me?”

“I wasn’t looking for you,” he hissed, walking right up to Tom.  “I was looking for Maria.”

“She’s at the college.  Has class today.  Can you lift?”

“What?” Josh blinked.

“I have to haul in this box.  It’s not heavy, but it will be a bitch unless I have help.  Do you want me to invite you in so you can continue yelling at me, or do you want to stay out here and piss of the locals before I tell you to fuck off and walk home?”

Josh glared at Tom for a moment, but only for a moment before walking over to the back of the truck.  “Fine.  Which end.”

“You can take the heavier one,” Thomas said kindly.  “Because I know you’re so young, and I’m such an old fart.”

They grunted and groaned and finally got the shower stall box into the warehouse, stopping every few feet as Thomas had to disconnect the security runes.  As they passed through them, Josh’s face went from boiling rage to something akin to awe as he became surrounded by the spell.

Even for Tom, it was surprising how much it had grown in the last few days.  Not counting the last two nights being filled with other activities, he and Maria had nearly covered every solid surface (and some that were hardly solid) with the magical graffiti and circuitry he had helped them learn just months before.

Josh’s tone instantly lightened up.  He realized he was outclassed here, that this was not his domain.  His face steeled into hidden wonder as he helped Tom push the shower up the flights of stairs to the residence above.

“Been busy,” he huffed as they finally relaxed, the box safely on some of the sturdier floor boards.

“They cut back my hours at work,” Tom explained.  “Can I get you something to drink?”

“Sure, uh, water is fine.”

He poured a pair of glasses full of water and handed one to the boy, who had noticed the sleeping bag in the corner with a very obvious lacy brassier flopped carelessly on top of it.  “She’s been staying with you?”

“Wanted to help me,” he nodded.  He wondered briefly if he should lie and hide their relationship, but it really didn’t seem like Josh would believe him if he did.  “And she missed me.  I missed her.”

A bubble of the rage earlier seemed to pop over Josh’s features, but he said nothing, choosing to drink his water instead.

“How’s the karma converter for Harold doing?”


“Sorry,” Tom chuckled.  “The Harold.  Maria said he was the one helping you organize the old scripts?”

“It’s fine.  Working perfect,” Josh said quickly.


“Yeah, real good,” he said, mostly to himself.  Tom could see the boy already comparing his work to the endlessly complicated scrawl around him now and hating himself more and more for not being able to measure up to it.

“You know, Josh,” Tom sighed, “If you want, you and the boys can come down here for the finalization.  I’d be honoured if you could show up.”

Josh looked up at Tom with an incredulous look on his face.  “No, I don’t think I will.”

Tom shrugged.  “Alright, well if-“

“So is this your thing, Tom?  You just hunt around for someone you can make look like a fool?”


Josh stood, slamming the glass down on the table.  He seemed annoyed that it didn’t shatter, or sound more impressive when it did.  “You practically bait me here…using my concern for my friend, who by the way, I’ve known for way longer than you have been fucking her, and lay everything out so you can get a big fucking laugh?”

Tom’s frown grew hard and jaded on his face.  “What the hell are you talking about?”

Josh, however, felt the energy of his bitching catch hold, and he paced around, pantomiming dramatically with his arms.  “I knew exactly what kind of bullshit you were the moment you flew through the goddamn door.  Walk on in and play up this bullshit accidental Master Yoda crap.  How many others have fallen for your shtick, Tom?  How many other mages thought you were some hot shit before you smacked them around and made them feel like-” he swallowed back whatever thought was on his tongue.  “Fuck you, Tom.  It’s illegal to pull shit like this in the mage community and I intend to make you pay for it.”

“I can barely even understand what you’re saying, Josh, but let me give it a shot here,” Tom leaned forward.  “Are you more pissed off that nobody respects you, or you think you had a chance to get into Maria’s panties by showing her your charming personality?”

Josh screamed and lunged over the table at him.  Tom couldn’t have reacted in time to avoid him, but it really didn’t matter anyway.  The kid was lacking fifty pounds of muscle in order to do any real damage to anything but his nose.  A punch landed there, and he felt the hot stab of pain that it induced, but it had been an all out, rage-driven explosion.  Easily redirected.

Thomas just let the kid fall over him and the table, and in the scramble to get up to continue his attack, he grabbed the kid square in the balls and twisted until he stopped moving.

Tears welled up in Josh’s eyes as Tom held firmly, ignoring the blood streaming across his upper lip.  “Get the hell out of my house, kid.”

“I’ll fucking kill you.” Josh hissed.

“I don’t give a shit.  Get the hell out of my house.  If I see you around here again, I’ll call the Herald and let him know you just threatened my life.  Aren’t you still on probation for almost getting me killed the last time?”

Rage and tears streamed off of Josh’s face, but he wisely didn’t say another word when Tom released his balls.  He just limped down the stairs and ran as fast as he could.

Tom laughed despite himself, then winced when his nose complained at him.  He cleaned up enough that when Maria showed up that evening, he was able to pass off the swelling as an accident with a hammer while installing the new shower stall.

Work continued on the spell, and they soon had to start laying planks of wood on the floors and nailing them to particularly dangerous areas on the walls in order to live their day-to-day lives in the middle of what could be the biggest Lash explosion should they stumble and knock a glyph free or have a bit of solder on their shoes.

After a few close calls, Maria began hinting that they should look at living at her dorm room, but they both knew that if they were removed from the spell they would never get anything more than each other done.  As wonderful as that sounded, she had midterms coming up as well so it was distracting on two fronts.

“Don’t throw it away,” Tom scolded her firmly in the cab of his truck as he was about to drop her off for the week of hell she had to attend to.  “I had to do the college thing too.  I just did it when bellbottoms were still in style.”

She just smirked.  “You’re not that old, and they were never in style.  Just promise me one thing.”


“Wait until I’m back before you turn it on.  Just in case.”

He nodded.  It was as much her spell as his now.   It wouldn’t be right to ignite it without her.  Even then, he had to suppress the urge to tell her it would be too dangerous.  Work first, worry later.  “I promise.”

She beamed at him and gave him a long, lingering kiss until a parking attendant made an embarrassed little noise, indicating they needed to stop or he would ticket the truck.

“Four days,” she promised.  “I’ll give you a call when my last exam is done, you can come pick me up and we’ll rush on back and possibly electrocute and erase ourselves from existence with a whirlwind of magic.  Deal?”

“You kids today,” he grumbled.  “Such optimism!”

On the drive back, Tom pondered what would happen after the spell was turned on.  It was designed to be a bomb-blast effect, and would hit everything within a few blocks instantly.  After that, it would stretch out and slowly cover the southern half of the city.  Assuming it worked, that they were alive, and that the warehouse was still standing, it would be a simple job to rent a little shack connected to the power grid up north, change a few of the transmission script plates, and recreate the effect for that half as well.  His mind raced on cataloguing the transmission requirements for a billion volts of happiness.  He didn’t know what was cooler, that he could measure an emotion more or less in electrical terms, or if he already knew what kind of relays to use to transmit the effect almost anywhere there were electrical lines.

Was this going to be an interesting local experiment, or could this very literally change the world?  The idea excited him like few other things, and he had to calm himself so he didn’t get caught speeding or something silly on the eve of this miracle.

Josh was waiting for him again outside.  It had been two weeks since his last visit.  Enough time for the kid to calm down, maybe?  He didn’t really think the boy was capable of murder, but to be on the safe side, he had created a number of protective glyphs around his truck and parking space.  When he pulled up and parked on the pad, a quick glance showed him they were still intact.  Any harmful magic would be absorbed into those little etched symbols, and would buy him enough time to at least smack the kid’s head with a shovel if it came to that.

He pulled out a shovel from the back of the truck so he wouldn’t allow himself to back down.  “I thought I told you I didn’t want to see you around here again.”

Josh raised his hands.  “I’m here to apologize.”

“So, apologize,” Tom said, leaning on the shovel, but not letting go of the handle.  Ahh, the tools one picked up after a decade of on the job problems.

Josh shifted in his skin uncomfortably.  “Do we have to do this out here?”

A small part of Tom warned him that this could be a trick, but a larger, more cynical side wanted to see the kid squirm a little and maybe finally admit to himself some of the things Tom, Maria, and likely a dozen others thought about him.

“Fine,” he said, raising his shovel.  “But one step where I don’t want you to step, and I’ll take off your legs and let you crawl home.  Got it?”

“Got it,” Josh said, then followed Tom inside. “So what exactly is all this?” he asked, carefully walking on the planks set up to provide a safe bridge over the layers and layers of script below.

“I thought you didn’t like being shown up, Josh?” Tom muttered as they walked up the stairs.  “Can I get you some water?”

“Sure, please,” Josh said, then sighed.  “Just professional curiosity, that’s all.  I saw some pretty cool transformer script by the outlets.  Are you actually trying to plug in a magic circuit to the grid?”

“More or less,” Tom said, pulling out the cups and his jug of filtered water.  “Does Maria know you’re here?”

“No,” Josh said, accepting the water gratefully and downing a few gulps before he continued.  “I just felt that I needed to apologize to you.  She and I never saw eye-to-eye anyway.”

Before he could stop himself, Tom shook his head.  “I think she was closer to you than you realized.  If you weren’t always trying to control everyone around you-”
“Oh, I know,” Josh nodded, looking down at his glass.  “Hey, you got any ice?”


“Allow me,” the kid said, then performed a simple, but seamless magic trick that very likely would impress several people at parties.  Tom tried not to look impressed as a nice, big ice-cube materialized in each of Josh’s hands, and he tossed one into each of their cups.

“Bet that comes in handy in July,” Tom said coolly.

Josh looked away, clearly trying to hold his temper in check.  “Just trying to be nice.”

“After threatening to kill me, breaking my nose, and complaining that I’ve been trying to ruin your life.  Did I get the order right? Or was it the other way around?”

Josh slammed his fist down on the table, but caught himself before he could voice the yell already gathering in his throat.  He took a long breath, then a sip of water.   “I deserve that.  Okay?  I see it.  I shouldn’t have been so angry.”

Tom raised his glass to his lips.  Poison ice-cube?  He decided that was too silly, even for this kid, and took a long drink, tasting nothing but nice, cool water.  “And?”

“And?” Josh blinked.

“That’s a good bit of self discovery, but hardly an apology,” Tom pressed.

Josh smiled forcefully.  “Of course,” he stood and politely bowed.  “Mister Markham, I would like to apologize for my long list of transgressions against you.   I acknowledge you as a good man who had no intent to have a negative impact on my life, and was foolish to think so,” he paused.  “And for punching you,” Josh said, though he sounded less sincere.

“Almost done,” he nodded.  “I’d also like you to apologize to Maria.”

“For what?” Josh blinked.

“For assuming she was nothing but bait to piss you off.”

He sighed, then nodded.  “I’ll apologize to her in person after she’s done her exams.”

“Promise me.”

“I promise.”

Tom nodded.  “Then I accept.”

Josh sat back down.  “So…we’re cool?”

“I still want you out of here,” Tom said.  “But I promise I’ll be civil as long as you are.”

Josh smiled.  “Okay then.  Right, I suppose you have a lot to do.  I’ll get going.”

He finished his water, and Tom walked him out to make sure he didn’t try to modify the spell.  Truth be told, he had a very uneasy feeling about the boy.  Something just didn’t add up with the way he was acting, but then again, he had probably had two weeks of the Herald bitching him out to maybe get his head out of his ass.  Still, Josh’s head was very far up his ass.  If he hadn’t almost lost it and started screaming, Tom would have known it was some kind of plan right away and would have tossed him out the window.

As they reached the door, Josh stepped outside and turned.  “So when are you going to try this spell out, anyway?”

“Next Friday,” Tom lied, giving him a an eight-day launch just in case the kid decided to try anything.

“Cool, I’ll be wishing you luck,” he nodded.


“Lots of luck,” Josh grinned, then walked away.  “I’ll tell Maria you said ‘Hi’ when I see her next.”

Tom let the shiver he had been holding in his gut finally escape to his limbs, and he made sure to lock the door with the metal bar he and Maria had placed glyphs all over to ward off ambient magic.

As he walked back up to the kitchen and sat down, he kept pondering the encounter over and over in his head.  The cynical, smarmy part of his mind was fading, and now the worried, analytical part was reviewing Josh’s path.  He hadn’t touched, or even come close to touching, any part of the spell.  Maybe that was what was so strange.  When he was over last time, he had accidentally walked over several half-completed circuits.  They all did.  It was only due to the spell nearing completion that Maria and he had started covering it so their shoes didn’t set off something dangerous.

Tom started thinking about the differences in the boy’s attitude between the two encounters as he sipped his water.  As he did, though, the uneasy feeling didn’t leave him, and he decided, just to be safe, to toss the water away in the sink.

He picked up his cell and dialled Maria’s number.  It got to her voicemail.  She was probably in the middle of an exam.  “Hey, Maria, it’s Tom,” he started.  “Josh was over here earlier.  He apologized for being a dick, but something wasn’t quite right about it all.  If you see him, just be-“

A beep interrupted him.

“You have ran out of minutes on this account,” his cell-phone chimed.  “Please contact your local service provider, or enter in  your credit card number to-“

Tom swore and chucked the little black piece of plastic and metal into their bedroom as he walked by it.  At least cutting off the phone’s smarmy message made him feel better about being cut off himself.

It was far too quiet and the feeling that something wasn’t quite right hadn’t left his gut.  He decided to do what he always did when he felt like this.  He worked.  Thomas cleaned off the kitchen table and began sketching the transmission-via-wire condensers he would need to work on later if the experiment was a success.  He was careful to leave safety breaks between each line and swirl and glyph.  Even just while using pencil, there was enough magical energy coming together in this building that the wrong set of characters connected together could act like a spark.  He smiled as he worked the diagram like filling in a crossword puzzle, like Maria had shown him how to do.  The girl was good.  By the time she was his age, she would be a certified genius.  He would gladly bow to her expertise once it manifested…ahh, it must be love.

A gentle dripping filled the air, and as time went on, it began to edge into Tom’s subconscious.  Something about the drip…Something about it made the feeling in his gut continue to grow.

About a minute into sketching, as he leaned back in his chair, he finally remembered where he had felt something like that before.

The bad-luck charm.

“Lots of luck,” Thomas whispered, echoing what Josh had told him upon leaving earlier that hour.  “That little fucker…” he ran over to the sink where he had dropped the ice cube and carefully peered inside.

He watched as the last bit of ice melted, leaving a small ice-coloured crystal, probably some form of quartz.  The negative karma feeling was definitely coming from it.  But just as Tom reached out to grab it, the ice gave way, and it fell into the drain through the stopper.

Thomas ran to the bathroom and grabbed his pipe wrench and solder gun as he heard it bounce around and down the pipes, imagining all the terrible things that could happen if it activated a rune.  He made a daring leap off of the second story into some trash bags, groaning as his knees complained, but then rolled off and cranked the water shut-off valve just as the clanging and clanking reached him.  The valve stuck almost all the way and the sound stopped.  He must have just been able to catch the crystal with the valve itself and lodged it in the aperture.  If it moved one way or the other, the crystal would continue on towards the ground where the magical and electrical circuits were hardwired.  Shoving concentrated bad luck anywhere near it would be disastrous…

Carefully moving some stray garbage at his feet, Thomas held on to the shut-off valve and began loosening the small hair-trap access on the other side.  It was excruciatingly slow work, as he could feel the water pressure building to fight both his hands, but he finally managed to loosen the access pipe’s cover.  An initial jet of water soon tapered off to a gentle trickle, and he watched the puddle to make sure it wouldn’t go anywhere near the important bits of the spell.  He had a few minutes at least.

One hand still on the cut-off handle, he pushed his wrench into his belt next to his soldering iron, then manoeuvred himself carefully on the slippery floor until he could reach inside the pipe itself.  It only took him a few seconds to find the crystal.  When he accidentally brushed up against it, it was a terrifyingly vacant, cold feeling, as if it was trying to suck the life right out of him.

But with no other choice, Tom gritted his teeth, grabbed it, and carefully worked the cut-off loose so he could pull it free.  It stung his soul, and he could remember times being electrified that weren’t nearly as painful, but he finally pulled it free, shut off the water, and collapsed with it in his hands.

Suddenly, there was a warm feeling around him.  Tom looked up, bleary-eyed.  The little crystal looked so harmless, but already he knew something bad had just happened.  He could feel it.

As he looked down, he saw his soldering iron at his hip had just punched through some more rotted floorboards, and the glint of copper wire underneath registered in his mind just long enough for him to remark to himself that it was a very bad thing his soaking-wet legs were laying across three major glyph sections on the floor that he had uncovered in the rush to stop the falling charm.

He tried to move.  Tried to pull free before the energy flowed, before the magic backwashed down into the power grid, and before the whole thing would go up in a ball of fire, Lash, and ash.

But then again…

Thomas Markham had a habit of completing circuits.


You can, to this day, still see the crater where the warehouse once stood.  For the longest time, a small bit of the building had stood in defiance of the explosion around it.  A brick wall, part of a kitchen, and pipes and stairs that connected it all so as to seem like it was floating in mid air.

When the firefighters arrived at the scene, so many years ago, they discovered strange writing and notes on the kitchen table that seemed to be intact despite the horrendous heat of the blast.  The police, at the time, had mislabelled it as some kind of wiring diagram, and had entered it into evidence.  Maybe it would explain why such a terrible accident occurred, but for now, it was of no consequence, and the city electricians were far too busy to bother reviewing the endless swirls and half-completed lines.

If you look in the city registries for a Thomas Markham, you’ll find only that he was killed long ago in a tree-house accident.  He hit a power line.  They had to cremate his nine-year-old body as it was nearly ash anyway.  He had never grown up, had never become an electrician, and had never learned magic.  At least not as far as anyone could ever prove.  Only a mysterious retirement fund, a half-erased diploma, and a few records of a ‘Markham – T” existed in the cracks between reality and fiction.

Only a few people know that this was a lie created by the universe; created by fate to stop the world from knowing about magic.  Some people call it Lash, or Backlash, or Magiwash or a dozen other things.  One of these people used to visit the site of what the city called an unprecedented natural gas explosion, but after months of weeping in this small plot of ash, she seemed to disappear herself.

Her disappearance wasn’t due to Lash, though.  She had been too far away to be proven to the site, so Fate had spared her body and her existence and let her broken heart deal with the rest.  But the broken heart, the frustration, and the knowledge that there was nothing possibly she could do to fix things made it all enough in the end.

Last year, my sister Maria committed suicide.

In fact, the local authorities won’t talk about it, or speculate why it has become so common in this area of town.  People feeling helpless.  People feeling useless.  Even those well to do, or those with a job.  Somehow, it seems like their emotions just get twisted around, and they can’t quite seem to figure it out.  The exact opposite of what Thomas had been trying to do has now happened.  I know some mages in the city that think he did it on purpose and curse what little name reality has left us with.  Some even think he was a brilliant man despite the negative effect on the people.  Some even think he was trying to bring a culling to the weak and useless portions of our populous and jealously work on ways to recreate the effect.

But you and I know that it was luck.  Twisted luck.  And that’s why I’ve come to the Herald today.  He’s an imposing figure, even as one so old and fragile looking, I can feel the power streaming off of him.

As I began my story, the tale that I had heard from my sister, and the way she described Josh’s actions and the final, damning voicemail (which doesn’t exist anymore, thanks to Lash) I was shaking and terrified.  But now, as I see the anger in the Herald’s eyes, I know that justice will be served.  At least justice will be served, even if the crater still is there, and the feeling of hopelessness remain.

Josh has been missing for years now.  As soon as he realized there was enough evidence implying his involvement, he knew this day would come.  I hope he runs far.  Far enough for the chase to wear on him.  To worry him night and day.  To make him old and feeble before his time.

My sister and Thomas were onto something.  As Hugh stands and nods, with the agreeing eyes of the six other council members around him, I try to hide my joy.

“Miss Watson,” the Herald says, and I swallow back the feeling of familiarity, as I realize this must have been the exact way he used to address my sister.

“Yes, your honour?” I whisper.

“I knew your sister and Thomas well.  Thank you for bringing this new evidence to my attention,” he leans forward in his seat at the back of the room.  “I will not let the actions of Josh Elian to go unpunished, and feel it will be fitting to grant you the city’s clemency against magical retribution should you find it necessary while exacting justice.”

Yep.  Tom was right.  This feeling.  Being handed the power, the authority, the right to do what you know it has always been your ability to do is an amazing thing.  Using your talents.  Feeling useful.  Feeling like you have a purpose again.

As I stand, bow, and leave the room, empowered for the first time in years, I know how they could spend so long pouring over their intricate designs and endless logic puzzles.  I realize why they fell in love, and how beautiful of a thing they were creating.  I see why my sister, even in her deepest depression afterwards, begged me to keep practicing.  Keep learning.  And why she even slipped in some electrical handbooks into my training.

Because now, I feel like I can give them justice.

They’re still trying to make drugs that can make you feel like this.


Author’s Notes:

This story came into existence due to a challenge of my good friend Brooke gave me to help her write a Mage – The Awakening story/prequel for one of her campaigns, as well as me just having read Transmetropolitan a few weeks earlier.  The images in Part 4 are directly taken from Issue 42, I claim no ownership over them, but hope this little backstory inspires people to read Transmet on their own.  🙂  (Note:  Thomas does NOT look like the “Janitor” depicted in Transmet.)  Thanks, as always, go to my peeps who prodded me to write past Part 1 with demands and fist shakes.  Maybe we’ll run an RPG campaign where we have to hunt down Josh…might be fun.  😀


Christopher Brummet

Studio Shinnyo 2010


Posted under Short Stories
  1. Mike Doyle Said,

    Well, fatigue toxins largely cleared, and comment posted. I’m not anybody’s first choice for editorial or literary critique, but…

    I like it. I like it lots. Do a polish pass (to get the narrative tuned to _your_ satisfaction), do a spelling-and-grammar pass (a few clunkers in word choice like “poured” vs. “pored”), then find a market for it. I don’t know if White Wolf will take an unsolicited ms or not, and I suspect they’ve still got a fuckton of mss in their slushpile from the ’90s, but it can’t hurt to ask.

    I’m compelled to admit that I’d not heard of Transmetropolitan – thanks for the tip. Also, I didn’t catch the Mage references while I was reading it (guess it’s been too long since I’ve gamed in that system). That last makes me wonder – if WW doesn’t buy it, could it be retooled for another market? Maybe – the making your little corner of the world a better place theme always works.

    Bottom line: this is some good shit

  2. Marie Said,

    … a bad habit of completing circuits … and then you BLEW HIM UP??!! Argh! You know what this means don’t you — in four chapters you created a story that sucked me in so completely, and made me care enough about the central characters, that I was ready to hunt you down and kick you in the kneecaps for destroying them. Well done!! Very good use of the catch phrase by the way. It set off the climax amazingly (no pun intended) and was used very successfully to propel the flow of the story. I’ve always loved intelligent fiction, and the idea of magic following the same laws as electricity – since it’s just another power source – is awesome! Having never heard of Transmet or Mage – The Awakening before reading the Author’s note, I’m not sure how much of the mechanics are outlined by the canon of that universe, but the story is solid on it’s own right, very well written and engaging throughout. You effectively pulled me along Tom’s voyage of discovery into the world of magic, providing just enough explanation within the framework of the tale to allow the uninitiated reader to understand what is relevant to this story without using reams of explanation and postulation. It’s a delicate balance, and you succeeded.

    Only one criticism – the use of much of the last of their funds to purchase the materials to build a new shower was a great part of the story, but the entire bathroom went down. Were they peeing in the parking lot??? LOL

    Great story! Thank you!

  3. Fiss Said,

    To Mike: I’ll be collecting, editing, adding and fixing up the story and posting it on the Studio Shinnyo main site (if/when I ever get it all fixed up and refreshed) and will post a link to it once it’s ready. I’ll be sure to watch for the clunky bits. 🙂 As for the White Wolf elements, the only real game mechanic I referenced was Paradox in the form of “Lash” and therefore it is completely independent of the RPG/WoD. It only came to be as a “mage-ish” story by being inspired by my friend’s request for help for fleshing out a Mage story she was working on, so I made a prequel. Heheh. I probably wouldn’t market this to White Wolf for the exact reasons you mentioned, but I figure I could always pitch it to scifi/fantasy mags or a larger work later on. The Transmet reference was the true inspiration, and even then, this world I used is so different from “The City” that it easily avoids any toe-stepping on the creators (minus the artwork I borrowed…). I HIGHLY recommend Transmetropolitan. Not only is it viciously well written, and extremely artistically impressive, but it has a brilliant dark sense of humour and anger at the modern world that is too wonderful not to experience.

    To Marie: Mages explode good. 🙂 My apologies for the “not so happy ending” but I am glad I made it so it wasn’t just “Oh, some random characters exploded/died and I don’t care”. A true compliment if I ever heard one: “You made me care”. Thank you! As I mentioned to Mike, the mechanics of both inspirational sources are so lightly used that you don’t need to know either, but like I said, if you do investigate one, I highly recommend Transmet. The Mage books are amazingly detailed, but are a LOT of reading and not necessarily all gold…but they do paint a very interesting world as well. As for the bathroom scene…I’ll clarify and fix it up a bit in the edit/combination version. I kind of had this image in my head where they were literally laying down planks of plywood to have a place to brush their teeth in the morning that wouldn’t fall through. Hehehe.

  4. Fien Said,

    Damn you Fiss, damn you…

    It’s not often that I fault a story for being too well done. After repairing an old computer and coming across some bookmarks from a few years back I re-stumbled upon your site. After seeing the main page is down and the last update being over a year old, I didn’t hold out much hope for some new tasty fiction treats. Then I stumble upon your blog, and this gem of a short story.

    I have to agree with Marie about the thought of the kneecap breaking popping into my mind at the completion of the story. This is of course, after the minute or two of just leaning back in my chair, with my mouth slightly open, trying to take in the ending. Coming from someone who has an extreme dislike of mouth breathers, well you can understand when I say it took a bit to actually admit that.

    Congratulations on a great story.

    Honestly, for the first chapter or so, I figured I was reading some type of Harry Potter fan-fiction. The subtle introduction of runes on the wiring diagram and the slow introduction of the ‘kid-cabal’ gave a slight underdog type feeling to Thomas. While perhaps not in the most traditional of senses, he was great hero material. Naturally gifted in his art, modest and humble perhaps to a fault. A man of great ambition (as we see in the possible scope of his project) yet happy with what most would consider an unacceptable lot in life.

    You show his coming from ignorant outsider, to that of a leadership role in a realistic and understandable way. The romance was unexpected, but not only served to fuel the motivation for the ending, but showed a more human side to the guy. Gave him an attachment to someone other than himself that was more than just a passing acquaintanceship.

    Perhaps most of all, you gave the person who tried only to better the world his unjust end. While I’d love to say I dislike pointless tragedies such as that ending…It added quite a bit of realism. Good guys finish last, and more often than not, while evil doesn’t necessarily win, the price to defeat it is paid in blood and it’s never worth the cost.

    Before I let myself get even more long winded here let me wrap up by saying great story and I’m glad to see you’re still writing. Keep up the good work mate.

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