In Which Our Heroine And Her Laser Cannon End a Relationship

This is an excerpt from a short story I wrote about the ending of a fraught relationship. You can find the entire thing here.

I paused, hefted the wide canvas straps of the cannon’s carrying bag, and continued plodding up the stairwell. This wasn’t really about Zack, although I was certain that the news media would jump to that conclusion. No, Zack had merely been the proverbial last straw.

I grinned, fiercely.

The cannon was Zack’s fault, really.  He gave me the idea last week, when he came by to pick up his rock collection. Our final meeting began badly. Zack informed me that he had arrived in his customary way; that is, he sat in his convertible and leaned on the horn, waiting for me to come down and open the security door.

Enraged, I had opened my window and began throwing his rocks—each carefully labeled, with a lovingly printed serial number and description of origin—at him, and his car. We exchanged a variety of insults, many unprintable, at full volume, as interested neighbors clustered at windows or on porches.

“Oh yeah?” Zack yelled, in response to a particularly inventive comment of mine on his sexual inadequacies. He picked up a large, green-flecked chunk of serpentine and hurled it up at my window, missing completely. A musical crash somewhere below and to my right marked where the rock had stuck somebody’s wind chimes.

“Well, you couldn’t blow me with a laser cannon!”

A few moments later Zack was distracted by the owner of the wind chimes, who was advancing across the lawn brandishing the sad remains of what had once been a trio of porcelain owls.

A wave of sadness swept over me as I watched Zack confront this new threat. There was something sexy about the way his nostrils flared, and he looked so passionate as he grabbed a piece of broken owl, threw it to the ground and began jumping up and down on it. Melodrama welled up in me, and with images of Scarlett O’Hara reeling though my brain I cried out his name, ready to say that I loved him, I forgave him—

“Shut up!” Zack screamed, momentarily distracted. Seconds later he crumpled to the ground, the unconscious victim of a sucker punch.

I sighed, remembering, and dabbled at my eyes with the sleeve of my jacket.

The fifth floor was, of course, deserted. I wandered past the security cameras without even attempting to hide my awkward bundle. If Steve, my survivalist brother-in-law, and his paramilitary chums had wired the cameras correctly, my movements on this floor would not be recorded. Steve had sworn me to several fearful oaths of secrecy regarding the source of the laser cannon and the video-rigging equipment, and had wanted to seal our compact by tattooing the complicated sigil of the Invisible Defenders of the American Nation on my right wrist. I persuaded him to accept a handshake and a case of Viagra instead.

I dragged the cannon over to my chosen window. Outside, people were milling about, and traffic cops in orange jacket were shooing people off the street. It was still early. I figured I had at least half an hour to wait before the parade floats came into view.

Assembling the cannon was easy. All I had to do was unfold the tripod and slip in the power cells. Cutting a small hole in the shatterproof glass of the window was a bit tricky. The glass cutter Steve had packed for me was different from the one I had been practicing with, but I managed within a few minutes. Focusing the telescopic sight took another few minutes. I flipped the cannon’s main power switch to let it warm up, listening to its high-pitched hum with a combination of glee and awe. Once assembled, the cannon looked like a fat silver telescope.

I stroked the shaft with my gloved hands, imagining I could feel the power running through it, that my hands, as they moved, were crackling with static.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Character diary entry: This one is fairly dark, and in my “Hamlet’s play” series, so if you wanted humor or lighthearted entries, I suggest something else. I am going to post something amusing in a short while to make up for it. -Liz

I woke up again thinking about the docks in Coal Harbor in Vancouver, or was it False Creek? I forget. I had been in Coal Harbor last thing I remembered, before the second attack.

I do not know where the first attack was. I was on Seymour Street, walking to the bus stop- it was late- a woman came up to me with a map, upside down (a tribute to Karla Homolka, perhaps) and she asked me for help finding something. And she said “We’ve all been waiting for you,” and that’s when someone grabbed me, the world went blank, and I felt a needle in my neck.

I did not quite wake up at first.

I was- not sure now where I was. My memories are disjointed. Did I wake up, escape the building I was in, and find myself in the Downtown East Side, or was it Robson Street? They are very different streets, but this was very early in the morning- all was fairly quiet.

The room I woke up in was dark. I managed to undo the knot tying me down, made my way to the door, I could see it because of light coming in under the bottom. I could hear voices. I think I was in a hotel, but what kind I did not know. I checked to see if the door was unlocked.

It was locked. From the outside.

I knocked and a woman answered. She was blonde, I think, but I do not recall a lot about her. It was 1997. This was an adult, not a teenager or child, and she said, “Don’t look at me” and then she said, “Get some rest, you’re up again in fifteen minutes.” My clothes were on the carpeted floor outside the room.

And she closed the door, almost all the way.

I had not looked at her, I was thinking about the door. I had held the door with my foot, just open enough that I could unlatch it again.

I waited until I heard her footsteps recede, and the hall was quiet. Then I left the room, grabbed my clothing, and made my way to the nearest exit.

I forget where I got dressed. Probably in a stairwell. I did not have time to put on the skirt, just the full length leotard. I remember going down a gray stairwell, as fast as I could, barefoot. My boots I had picked up at the end of the hall, outside another door. I held them in my hand. I dropped the skirt.

I put the rest of my clothing on just before leaving, and exited to the street through a fire door. I walked briskly away, not quite running, trying to get my bearings, but mostly trying to put as much distance between me and the building I had been in, the one that seemed like a hotel, a well-kept, clean hotel on a street that held many storefronts. Was it Robson Street?

Was that a bus? Buses were running! It was early, and quiet, but buses meant safety, so I grabbed one that was coming along the street and I took it. I did not care where it went. It was a number five, I think.

I left the bus when it seemed to be going to the wrong way, crossed into Mount Pleasant, walked home from there- a long way, and I ran sometimes, I went as fast as I could, and didn’t rest until I got home.

I knew I would not remember, as my memories kept slipping away as I walked, and by the time I got home, I only could recall being tired and cold, and frightened.

The second attack happened after Evelyn brought me to the people in the penthouse of the hotel. This was itself interesting. I did not know what was going on, who Evelyn was, what her name was… she told me that “you’ll be living here now” and I said I would rather not. I had no idea what was going on. I decided to leave once someone- a man- had mentioned “a boat to Riga” and how I’d “earn my keep”. I was told to “clean up” and was left in a very ugly bathroom, and instead of doing as told I left, again, only this time no one was watching me. My friend, who had come with me, was waiting outside the suite still, looking sadly out the window- he turned and was delighted that it was me coming out, not someone else.

I said, “We’re leaving.” We took an elevator down. My friend took charge. Once outside the hotel, my friend pushed me and yelled, “Run!” and I did. I do not know what he did but they did not follow me. And I did not see him again for some time. Not for a very long time, I am afraid.

The second attack I remember less. I was in Coal Harbor, at the marina, for “a wedding reception”. I had gotten a voicemail from someone- a woman- claiming to be my friend’s new girlfriend, and she told me they were going to this wedding, that there were not going to be a lot of people there and they wanted the bride to feel better about it, so would I come?

This was months later, months after the first attack, and the incident with the people in the hotel (whose names I did not even know, then). I suppose the timing of each event can be correlated with Evelyn’s flight patterns. She did not live anywhere near Vancouver.

In any case, I went to the “wedding reception” in Coal Harbor and found myself in an empty event hall- was it the marina members’ clubhouse?- with myself and a few other people, none of whom were female. People walked past me, looked at me. I would recognize them now. Several said, “it’s her”. I tried to leave.

The next thing I remember clearly is waking up on the dock in Coal Harbor with a plastic bag over my head. I was in a pile of trash bags. The breeze whipped the ropes and lines on the nearby yachts, making that distinctive ping-ping-ping noise. I heard seagulls. It was cold. I took off the bag, and saw my dropped skirt, from what must have been a hotel, lying on the dock nearby. Foolishly, I picked it up. It was a favourite skirt, and I was too poor to replace it.

As with the first time, by the time I got home, I had forgotten everything- and I think they knew this, for when I saw one of the family again, he gloated. I had no idea who he was or why he was gloating. And, guess what, Evelyn was there once again.

Evelyn, Evelyn, Evelyn… let me guess, you claimed to be “my manager” to these people, you claimed I was a sex worker, or exotic dancer, and you misrepresented me to the point where they wanted to kill me. Perhaps you tried blackmail? Pretty clever, blackmailing pretending to be me so you could profit or they’d kill me, and you’d win either way.

And you kept calling me “stupid” because I could not remember traumatic events where you reinforced the amnesia by hypnotic suggestion? I remember in the park, you scared me and then kept saying “you can only hear my voice, you trust only me, you trust only me, you will obey everything I say”- only it took me decades to remember. All the while you had my friend (the one who rescued me from them, and your stupid ugly scheme) tied up in your lies, and it wasn’t until I could talk to him without you around that I was able to start piecing together who he is, and who you were, and what you are. What you have done to me.

And I told him. He knows.

Tick. Tock.

Update on Anagama and my other works

Hello, readers!

I’ve been editing my most recent novel, Anagama. You can read the first chapter of it here: Sneak Peek at Anagama.

I sent today’s version to three friends to read and comment on it, and I’ll share with you the description of the work, and my future plans, that I shared with one of these friends:

“Hi, this is my science fiction novel Anagama, which is set in the same universe as Perigee, some time subsequently. It’s the story of how a pair of mutants considered nonhuman and their allies work to bring justice to a corrupt corporation on Earth, and involves intrigue, shady underworld figures, Cuban gods, and pottery. 

“My next steps are to see if I can formulate a synopsis, outline, query letter, and send this package along with a writing sample to an agency that might be willing to represent me. I also need to go over this manuscript a few more times to make certain I’m happy with it, but I really would like to finish it- this particular project has been on my plate for a very long time! 

“My next projects include possibly revising and adding new material to Perigee, then working on several novels-in-progress (Diamond and Wings), both of which are partially written but both of which I want to substantially revise and improve. I also want to plot and write a psychic spy thriller called Cloak which draws strongly from current events, and is about the fall of a corrupt White House administration. 

“I also have a finished manuscript which I am happy with called Infinity– the story of how the descendants of an important couple help protect their ancestors from cross-time assassination attempts. This story involves wormholes, quantum entanglement, romance and many hideous floral arrangements.”

So, readers, now you are up to date on my current novel-writing activities, just like my friend. I also plan to write some short pieces- I may elaborate on some of the more disturbing posts which are sprinkled throughout this blog (many of which may find themselves as concepts inside larger works I already have planned)- and put them up on Smashwords. Most of my current works on Smashwords are short pieces about Agent Diamond and Charming Guy, and I may elaborate on the backstories of these characters and make them a little more realistic in a series of short stories or podcast scripts in future, and compile them into an anthology.

I plan to write an additional series of scripts for a project I lack a name for which I am calling “October 6th”, and you can read a little bit about it here. This last one is very dear to my heart and I believe it would make a great TV series: it’s loosely based on The Prisoner, but instead of a spy being kidnapped and psychologically tortured to obtain information, a woman is kidnapped, has no idea why she has been brought to The Campus, a strange environment mimicking a university campus, and has to recover her memories of a traumatic event which she is a key witness to. Her ability to recall is manipulated by two people, both at odds with each other- one wishes her to remain ignorant, and the other wishes her to recall.

I hope you enjoy reading my works. I hope to add podcasts to my repertoire of future offerings and am considering, in addition to writing a fictional podcast about Agent Diamond and Charming Guy, practicing with the format and with voice work by reviewing Chuck Tingle books (I have yet to buy one but they look amazing).

I am difficult to reach, but can be contacted via the form on the Contact Me page.