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  16:12:56  12 March 2013
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Don Reba
Bishop and Councilor of War
(Moderator)

 

 
On forum: 12/04/2002
Messages: 11590
Any updates? How is the book coming along?
  20:43:34  21 March 2013
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snorkbait
Nexus 6
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 11/21/2008
Messages: 1081

---QUOTATION---
Any updates? How is the book coming along?
---END QUOTATION---



Sorry for being so quiet, folks. Been busy on you know what, ill for a little while, and other BS also got in the way.

The latest is, I had to go back and break the story in the end, so some elements that were in the forum version will now be missing in the published version (which was the reason for the change of name; the book for publication is and yet is not 'Snork Bait'), though SH will still have the intended ending.
The removed story elements will now form a second book, which may or may not be published (depending on sales of SH).
If it is...good times all round. If not...still good times because I'll write it and post it on here. And, of course, the short stories will appear as and when.
  04:40:17  25 March 2013
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Don Reba
Bishop and Councilor of War
(Moderator)

 

 
On forum: 12/04/2002
Messages: 11590
From what I hear, splitting books is becoming more common these days. Even famous writers have trouble making a profit from selling a story in a single volume.
  14:50:35  25 March 2013
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snorkbait
Nexus 6
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 11/21/2008
Messages: 1081
It's normal/becoming normal for publishers to prefer books that have series potential, for sure. The downside for readers is always that the publisher can look at the numbers and cancel future releases, so some plotlines may be left up in the air. Not great, but you can see why they do it. (The other downside, of course, is writers dying/being killed or suffering a career-ending injury before they're done...and tbh as annoying as that might be for the reader, it's worse for the writer - in all sorts of ways!)
  12:11:24  30 May 2013
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snorkbait
Nexus 6
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 11/21/2008
Messages: 1081
Hey folks

It's been a while since my last update (too long, actually; where the hell has all that time gone?!).
It's not been great, but you've all been patient (either that or have lost interest, and I prefer to presume the former ) and, yes, I know you've heard ducks fart in water before, but I'm close to finishing now. Finally.
Hey, at least I'm not George RR Martin and have made you wait six years for half a book!
(I'm not as good as him either, but that's by the by.)
Anyway...some goodies are in order, I think, so here's a couple of extracts (I'll post them here because they both are, and yet are not, the original story - if you see what I mean).

***

2.

The streets of Kiev were still reasonably quiet as we drove east from the river and into the Darnytsia district. The rain that had speckled Blondie’s trenchcoat the night before was still falling, though not heavily enough as to require constant use of the windscreen wipers. At the same time, it was slightly too heavy to rely on the ‘intermittent’ setting.

I yawned and stretched. It had been a long night, and the couple of hours’ sleep I’d managed on the floor of the spare room of Blondie’s friends’ shop had left me feeling worse instead of better, but at least we now had a means of travelling around the city undetected – even if the cream-and-rust coloured Lada’s best days had departed at around the same time as the demise of the Soviet Union.

‘I fucking hate rain like this,’ she muttered. ‘If it must rain, let it rain. If not, stop. Anything but this piss-trickle!’

I glanced over at her and smiled, thinking that she looked a lot better for having showered before we left. Her face, devoid of make-up, was pale, her profile sharp, and her hair, now tied back into a more functional style, shone white in the backwash from the streetlights.

‘It rains like this a lot in Britain,’ I said.

‘Then Britain is a shithole, just like here!’ she snapped, before visibly relaxing. ‘Sorry. Sorry.’

‘I don’t mind. Britain is a shithole, especially where the weather’s concerned.’

‘Ah, but you should never say too much against where you’re from,’ she said. ‘So I was partly apologizing to the city.’

I scratched my eyebrow. ‘I’m sure it appreciates the gesture.’

‘She,’ Blondie said. ‘Kiev is a she. And she can be beautiful.’

‘I’ll take your word for it,’ I said, peering through the windscreen at the huge tower blocks that loomed ahead and the car that was burning merrily on a patch of wasteland down-slope and to the right of the main road.

The place seemed a bit mixed up, to me. Some of the buildings near the hotel had looked as though the designers had wanted something modish but had got all their ideas from 1960s sitcoms or made their models from Lego, while out here the new, truly modern tower blocks practically screamed of a return to a Soviet-lite mentality – albeit one with added dashes of pastel colour. Even the burning car had a purpose, symbolizing a simplistic view of what a more Westernized society would become.

‘Ah,’ Blondie said. ‘One look at her on a morning like this, in this part of town...you can’t judge. There’s a lot of redevelopment going on here. Very controversial. But I guess everything changes in the end.’ She sighed, as though she wished it didn’t have to be so. ‘Besides, don’t your towns have good and bad places?’

‘A lot of them do,’ I said, with a shrug. ‘But the place I grew up in was just a dump. I always thought the only way it could have been improved was if a nuke had been dropped on it, and even then I’m not sure it would have helped too much.’

‘It can’t have been that bad,’ she chided, laughing, though I only shrugged and looked out of the side window as she indicated right onto what the sign said was Yelyzavety Chavdar Street.

‘So, you live in one of these lumps?’ I said.

‘What? No,’ she said, as if the mere suggestion were ludicrous. ‘These are new and mostly unfinished yet. My house is older, but fairly nearby.’

She indicated again and took an option that ran almost north-south, her eyes flicking to the rear-view mirror again.

‘Anything?’ I asked as she tensed for a moment, then relaxed and looked forward once more.

‘No.’

‘You’re sure?’

She nodded. ‘I thought there was something, but it carried on by.’

‘Any way they could come round and pick us up again?’

‘Not without stopping and doubling back,’ she said. ‘That road leads to a dead end. The link won’t be completed for a while yet. It was probably just a worker after some overtime.’

I settled back in my seat, frowning. Something wasn’t adding up, though I couldn’t put my finger on what. I drummed my fingers of my leg.

‘Do you mind not doing that?’ Blondie said, the request not sounding like a request at all.

‘Sorry,’ I said. ‘It’s just a habit I have whenever I’m thinking.’

‘Well it’s annoying.’

‘Sorry,’ I repeated.

A sigh moments later made me glance sharply in her direction. ‘You’re doing it again,’ she said. ‘Out with it. What are you thinking so hard about?’

I shrugged and waved a hand in the air. ‘This,’ I said.

‘Okay,’ she said. ‘How about you try harder?’

‘I don’t understand it,’ I explained. ‘I should have spotted something by now. It was bad enough that there was nothing outside the hotel, but at the airport too, and now here?’ I shook my head. ‘Something’s not right. It’s not right at all.’

‘Maybe we lost them?’ she said. ‘I mean, wasn’t that the idea?’

‘Well, yes. But that doesn’t explain anything. The only thing I can think of that does is that the hotel wasn’t being watched in the first place.’

‘But there was the call,’ she reminded me.

‘I know. That’s why it makes no sense.’

She shrugged. ‘Let’s not look for problems, Taylor. Some of them are bound to find us, in the end.’

‘Hm,’ I said.

‘And thanks for the clothes, by the way.’

‘Oh...no problem,’ I said, smiling. ‘You needed to lose that trenchcoat. It was way too conspicuous. And you’d have been even more so running around the airport without it.’

She grinned as she glanced in the mirror once more. ‘I’m sorry Pyotr couldn’t do more for you in the end, though, and it was a shame you had to leave so much behind at the hotel.’

‘I didn’t leave that much in the end, and it would have only looked odd if I’d left the place carrying the backpack,’ I said.

‘Yes, but –’

‘Let’s see later on,’ I suggested. ‘If your place is clear and we can get back to the hotel for the stuff, great. If not, I’ll be okay.’

‘Sure?’

‘Sure,’ I said, smiling and feeling my trouser pocket for the bundle of notes again. I’d started out with five thousand roubles. After changing half into hryven for the airport shopping excursion – at a rate of almost ten roubles to one hryvnia once the bureau de change had factored in their commission – and haggling with Pyotr over his demands just for allowing me into the shop, I only had about a quarter of it left...and I still had to buy a weapon and other gear once I reached the Zone.

‘Taylor,’ Blondie said, forcing my attention back to the present.

A police car was heading toward us, keeping to a low speed. Patrolling.

‘I see them,’ I said. ‘Just act natural.’

The car rolled by, heading back towards E40. Neither of us looked at the inhabitants as they passed, though I was aware of two pinkish blobs giving us a good looking-over in my peripheral vision.

‘They’ve turned off,’ Blondie sighed as the cops continued on their way.

I frowned. ‘Just like that?’

‘Yes,’ she said. ‘Why? What is it now?’

‘Which street do you live on?’ I asked.

‘136-a Sadova. Why?’

‘Don’t go there.’

‘Why not? What have you seen?’ she asked, giving me an alarmed look.

‘Nothing. It’s just that I would have expected something to happen just now and it didn’t. That bothers me.’

‘You mean those cops?’

I nodded. ‘I mean those cops,’ I said. ‘With how hard they looked us over they should have pulled us in, but they didn’t even seem to think about it.’

‘There’s always a high police presence here, these days. Like I said, they’re redeveloping the area and –’

‘That’s all the more reason to stop us,’ I cut in. ‘We could be up to anything.’

‘Perhaps they thought we were just a couple of people on the way home from a night shift or something?’

‘Perhaps, but is it likely?’

‘Well, it’s that time of the morning, and we are in a different car –’

‘I don’t buy it,’ I said. ‘They’re not just patrolling to deter thieves and tosspots, they’re watching.’

‘You’re getting paranoid.’

‘And you’re getting over-confident just because we’re in this heap of crap and I’ve not managed to spot anything yet. We can’t assume that they don’t know about the switch. We can’t assume that they haven’t watched everything we’ve done. And even if they were watching and we did shake them before, we can’t assume they won’t have picked us up against just now. It’s like I told you, it was a mistake coming here.’

‘And I told you, I have to know. Besides, if that patrol was part of a larger operation, where’s –’ Her voice trailed off as we drove past the end of her street. Another police car was parked on the left-hand side of the road about twenty metres down. Two more pinkish-white blobs watched us pass. ‘Oh, God...Taylor!’

‘Drive on.’

‘But –’

Drive on!

She obeyed, keeping an even closer watch on the mirrors than before.
‘Taylor, that car...’

‘They’re watching the approach,’ I murmured.

‘But does that mean –?’

I nodded and rubbed my forehead. ‘It means you can’t go home.’
  12:26:47  30 May 2013
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snorkbait
Nexus 6
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 11/21/2008
Messages: 1081
29.

I woke, having wept in my sleep for the first time since childhood, and rolled onto my side. That nightmare sound – the meaty, splintery sound of flesh and bone being inexorably crushed – echoed in my mind, making my insides clench.

‘Oh, fuck,’ I groaned, putting my hands over my face briefly before forcing myself into sitting position and turning on my head lamp. My mind was a jumble. I didn’t know what was real and what was only the nightmare. I thought of Nikki in the dream and Svetlana here in the Zone and I could no longer tell one from the other. Thinking of them led to me remembering the way Svetlana had met her end, and something cross-wired in my brain to remind me of the lump of salty luncheon meat I’d consumed earlier. The juxtaposition immediately made me nauseous again and my stomach gave a worrying lurch. I reached for the L.85. I knew there was nothing more I could do with it, but the process of stripping the weapon, performing visual checks, and making sure all the parts were in the best possible order, served to occupy my mind.

With the weapon checked and reassembled, I turned out the light and went to sit by the spy-hole to keep watch – another good distraction activity.

The wind was gusting around the building’s eaves, whistling and howling as it toyed with the end of the roofing, causing the rusting corrugated sheet to bounce and clatter against the beam it had once been attached to, while rainwater trickled into the attic via the numerous holes in the roof.

Lightning lit up the world outside almost as soon as I sat down, and I squinted through the scrim at the way in which the strobing light captured the world in a staccato series of images. Thunder cracked again and the dogs whined pitifully from the other side of the fence before snarling warnings at their nearest neighbours in their fear. The rain kept pouring down, and an anomaly added a rushing, roaring sound to the din before concluding with a loud pop-bang.

I sat looking out at the storm-ravaged world for a good while longer before first light spread warily across the Zone. I checked my watch, shielding the glowing face with my body. It was 05.03. True first light should have been over an hour before. What I was seeing now was sunrise – or close to it as this day was going to see in this part of the world.

I sucked my bottom lip as I thought about what to do next. Given the weather, I’d be a fool to make an early start towards Dark Valley as I’d originally intended, yet I no longer felt tired enough to while a few more hours away by sleeping. If anything, I was itching to get on with the next phase.

Another flash of lightning split the sky, followed very shortly after by the boom and roll of thunder, and again the dogs growled and snapped their response. The wind gusted and the loose roofing rattled again, but the rest of the house stood firm despite the state of its damaged, decaying materials.

I scratched my chin and stood to dig around in my pack for something to eat, though I didn’t open the tin straight away. My stomach turned a loose somersault at the thought of food, but I’d eaten very little since entering the Zone and had exerted my strength and endurance to their limits throughout the previous day, and the chances were good that my nausea and apparent lack of appetite were actually being caused by hunger and my body’s natural demand for an infusion of fuel. Even so, I’d have to trick my mind into accepting sustenance in the same way as I’d had to trick it into switching away from recurring thoughts of the nightmare.

Taking my seat once more, I returned my attention to the world outside the narrow, more or less rectangular hole and settled in to wait out the storm. Time passed and the light grew stronger. The thunder receded into the distance, the flashes of lightning becoming increasingly sporadic and less spectacular, though the rain continued to fall onto the already-drenched landscape until this, too, began to peter out. The low, heavy clouds thinned and finally parted, allowing weak sunlight to penetrate.

By the time I lowered the now-empty tin to the floor, the sun had burned away the remaining low cloud and shone dazzling and newly-strong from high in the heavens. Water continued to drip from a number of overhangs, creating an odd kind of melody as it landed on various surfaces, and cold, wet wood creaked and groaned as it dried in the increased heat, while a few dogs yapped and barked playfully on the other side of the fence.

I smiled to myself and sighed. This was the Zone as I’d wanted it to be: quiet and peaceful, free from the everyday hurly-burly, a place where I could make my own way and just live. I knew it wouldn’t always be so idyllic, but for now at least the critters were behaving themselves, the weather was fine, and all was right with the world.

Well, almost. There was the smell to consider; a general malodour of damp earth, rotting or rotten vegetation, old, damp wood and rusting metal that combined to create the sort of melange I’d not experienced since my childhood, when I’d played in the woods near my home. There, the surrounding industry – a couple of electro-plating works, an aluminium plant, a timber merchant’s, a breaker’s yard – had generated an aroma that had been sappy, metallic, and oily at the same time, and which had drifted over the canal to permeate the old woodland and mingle again with the stench of mostly stagnant water, leaf mulch and aging, decaying wood. That once-unique stink was something I’d come to associate very closely with childhood and the concept of ‘Home’, and yet here it was again, in a place thousands of miles away, where whatever factories still existed stood far-off and disused and my youth was nothing but a distant – and increasingly hazy – set of memories that might have belonged to someone else entirely.

I shook my head, feeling my previously pleasant mood slipping from me. I knew better than to chase after it and try to bring it back. Best to let it go for now and hope it would wander back of its own accord, like a nervous cat in a new house.

I checked my watch and stood, grimacing. The entire morning was gone, washed out by the persistent rain. I’d need to get a move on if I wanted to reach the Bandit base and find a safe observation point before the afternoon was out.

Grabbing my new backpack, I transferred my gear to it and placed some of Aleks’s old clothing on top. My empty cans came next, with the lot topped off by the remaining clothes to stifle any lingering smell of food.

Once satisfied that everything was in order, I shifted the crates that I’d used to weight down the hatch cover and gently lowered first the pack, then myself, to the floor below before leaving the house, taking my time to minimize noise and movement.

The courtyard was empty as I set off toward the entrance. All my senses were alert now. The heavy, cloying odour, so similar to the one from my youth, filled my nostrils again, and I could also detect faint hints of wet dog and fresh shit on the breeze. My ears were equally finely-tuned as they sifted endlessly for odd sounds – a rustle that shouldn’t be, footfalls both human and animal – while my eyes constantly scanned for visual oddities like prints where none should exist, strange shadows, sudden movement, branches that waved too much or too little relative to the wind...I relied on them all.

A dog barked from somewhere away to my left, a single, deep woof that echoed in the hush and spoke of calm assurance and relaxation. A glance beyond the dilapidated barn showed me that most of the pack, such as it was, had gathered in the shade of a couple of scrawny-looking trees roughly forty metres beyond the fence. Several of the animals were content to sit or lie around, outwardly showing little or no interest in the world around them, while a larger individual sat, head up, chest out, near the base of the tree more or less in the centre of the group. As I looked, he barked again, causing others to shift and stir. This time, however, the alpha – if that’s what he was – received an answering bark, and I froze. Paws padded on the packed earth around the abandoned car near the entrance and two more dogs appeared, the smaller of the pair emitting a soft whimper as if scurried along and pressed its head into the flank of the other.

I flicked the rifle’s safety to the ‘Off’ position, levelling the weapon as the head of the first animal swivelled in my direction. A thin whine of curiosity escaped from it as it took two cautious steps toward my position, its nose working on sampling the air. The whining became more intense, attracting the attention of the other dog. After three more steps, the sound abruptly cut out and I took aim at the dog’s head. A few steps more, and it yapped and snarled, breaking into a run. The smaller dog hesitantly joined in, but didn’t run forward as aggressively as the other.

I stood my ground, waiting until the more experienced animal had halved the distance between us before squeezing the trigger. The report shattered the sultry quiet and the round struck the dog just above and between the eyes – or at least, above and between the empty, puckered sockets where its eyes should have been, had Zone dogs not evolved to be born completely blind. The animal crumpled to the ground with a soft groan of protest, while the other dog yelped, turned tail and sprinted away, crying as hurt or badly frightened dogs do.

‘Lassie, fuck off,’ I mumbled, looking over at the pack again as they scattered in alarm. Only the alpha by the tree remained calm, his head turned toward the source of the sound as he got to his feet and started ambling towards the smallholding, barking his deep, resonant calls to rally the troops as he came.

Moving quickly but carefully in order to eliminate unnecessary sound, I left the courtyard and immediately cut across the sodden dirt track to the grassy area beyond. I knew the dogs would be able to follow my scent easily enough, but I also knew they wouldn’t pass up the easy meal their former companion’s body now offered, especially if the leader could also be scared off from immediately following my trail.

Half-turning from the waist, I fired a couple of shots in his direction without breaking stride. The rounds missed, as they’d been intended to, but still passed close enough to make him break and run, snarling fiercely in defiance even as the lesser pack members yapped and yelped with renewed fear.

Minutes later, my boots hit tarmac and I paused briefly to check the area was as clear as it seemed. The dogs, having recovered from their shock at the shots, had now discovered the corpse of their fallen member and were busily tearing it apart, while something like a concrete bus shelter stood and crumbled amid a field of fizzing, popping anomalies that completely blocked the road to the south.

After a few more moments, I turned to face north and, drawing a deep breath, took my first steps toward the Dark Valley, the Bandits, and – hopefully – the chance of another fresh start.
  15:54:04  6 June 2013
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100RadsBar
100RadsBar - Formerly known as LoboTheMan
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 06/03/2009
Messages: 1634
Interest not lost
Waiting patiently

The extracts were good to read. I like your style of writing.
And I am looking forward to the released version of the book .
  17:53:36  6 June 2013
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snorkbait
Nexus 6
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 11/21/2008
Messages: 1081
That's (all) good to hear. I'll be putting a few more updates on here if I can (the idea would be to intrigue, not spoil).
As regards getting the book out...I'm 'rather displeased' that it wasn't done and dusted a long time ago. There's been a lot of stuff that got in the way, and some ideas I'd had just wouldn't work out - or worse, were plain wrong as it turned out - but even so...
And of course, the more 'displeased' I felt, the harder it was to write, so that got my goat as well. Vicious circle.

Also...Zug, if you're still about and read this, guess who got a cameo?
I know I shouldn't do that sort of stuff, but...what the hell.
  21:43:23  6 June 2013
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100RadsBar
100RadsBar - Formerly known as LoboTheMan
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 06/03/2009
Messages: 1634
Don't post to much
I do not want to know too much what happens in the story
  02:20:23  12 June 2013
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snorkbait
Nexus 6
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 11/21/2008
Messages: 1081

---QUOTATION---
Don't post to much
I do not want to know too much what happens in the story
---END QUOTATION---



Fair enough. There will come a point where it's impossible to intrigue without spoiling, even in a minor way. If or when I get to that point (and I might have already!), I simply won't post extracts and the thread will go back to 'news only' (however much of that there might be).
The short stories I mentioned a while back will be posted in their entirety on their own threads. (I haven't forgotten...though tbh I'm starting to wonder where everyone has gone!)
 
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