“You are in a room…” A Tweet-based Adventure, Episode 2

Read Episode 1.

Player 1: Once the tea is finished, let’s try the door on the right at the far end of eastern corridor

@YouAreInnaRoom: You finish the tea and head to the far end of the Eastern corridor. You open the right hand door and step into a large room. To your right, along the North Wall is a bank of computers. In the North West corner is a circular pod of some kind. The Southern half of the room is dominated by a curved inset floor, with stairs leading down on either side. Three large, comfortable chairs sit along the back of this section, facing South. The Southern wall is divided between a large view screen on the right half, and a window that looks out on a stuttering screaming void. There are also three hot desk terminals in the upper portion of the room behind the three comfy chairs.


An updated map:

Updated map of First Floor (Space Station) - see text for description.

Updated map of First Floor (Space Station)

@YouAreInnaRoom: What will you do?

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“You are in a room…” A Tweet-based Adventure

A million (2) years ago I started a tweet-based adventure game which went on for several months, but stalled because Life Happened.

It was one of the most enjoyable and magical pieces of shared storytelling I’ve done for a while, so I’m resurrecting it. But before I do so, I’m going to capture the Story So Far here, as a record for myself, the current players, and anyone who is interested or might like to join in.

The cover of the programming book for Silver Mountain, along with the story and hints.

Silver Mountain: my first text-based adventure from the 80s.

It worked like this –  I set up a Twitter account called @YouAreInnaRoom and tweeted:

@YouAreInnaRoom: You are in a room. What will you do?

Other tweeps, my ‘players’ then said what they would like to do – much in the style of a classic textbased adventure, except I was the computer programme, and I was often making stuff up on the spot. Together we wrote a story that was funny and sweet and full of wonder. Featuring a deserted house, a cat, Anakin’s lightsaber, a Deep Dark Forest and a Lonely Robot.

Below is a transcript of our journey. As there’s a fair amount to type up (although not that much to read – 350~ tweets) I’m doing this in two ‘episodes’. I hope you enjoy.

Episode 1

(Note: some players have private accounts, so I have replaced player names with Player 1, 2, or 3, in order of appearance):

@YouAreInnaRoom: You are in a room. What will you do?

A small dusty window in a dark room.Player1: Have a look out the window.

@YouAreInnaRoom: The window is small and dusty, you can’t see very much.

Player 2: Look around the room.

@YouAreInnaRoom: There’s quite a lot of stuff. Someone has been collecting. Many boxes. A guitar. Anakin’s lightsaber is here.

@YouAreInnaRoom: There are also doors to the North and West. To the East is a small grubby window. To the South, a cupboard.

Player 1: Let’s see what’s in the cupboard.

@YouAreInnaRoom: You open the cupboard. It’s dark in here, but there’s maybe something at the back.

Player 1: Have a closer look.

@YouAreInnaRoom: It’s hard to see much when the only source of light is a grubby window and you’re standing in the way of it.

@YouAreInnaRoom: You can detect an amorphous darker blob against the lighter painted wood-work, however. What will you do?

Player 2: Touch it?

@YouAreInnaRoom: It gives under your touch. You think it’s probably a blanket. It feels like there’s stuff underneath.

A blue lightsaber against a background of space.Player 1: Let’s try the lightsaber for some illumination (that’ll work, right?). What’s under the blanket?

@YouAreInnaRoom: You turn around and grab the lightsaber. Flicking a button hopefully, you manage to turn it on with the blade pointed away from your face. It ‘whombs’ softly. You turn back and point the lightsaber into the cupboard.

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Check it out: Rhubosphere Web Portal

A screencap of my website.

Hey, hey, hey! Wanna see what I get up to on the rest of the web?

I would like to cordially invite you to enjoy my website, where you will find:

For instance: did you know I had a YouTube channel? At the moment it mostly consists of a bunch of fanvids and random videos I’ve made showing people my vegetables, experimenting with my equipment, and getting drunk alone. But next year I plan to launch an introduction to philosophy webseries and other cool stuff. (And maybe learn to make better fanvids…)

Anyway, check it out, and remember, if you get kicks out of what I do and want to reward me, there’s a tip jar over over in the sidebar that would very much welcome your contribution.

National Flash Fiction Day

Apparently, it’s National Flash Fiction Day. So, I wrote you some flash.

The Monster Under My Bed

It turns out there really are monsters under the bed. Which is an odd thing to discover at the age of thirty-four.

I say ‘monsters’; I guess I default to that because it’s what children would say are monsters. Not human. Nightmarish to look at with human eyes. Not something you want under your bed, anyway. I mean, I don’t really want anything under my bed, do you? That’s quiet time. Alone time. Unless you have a partner.

I newly don’t have a partner. She left me for a girl with long red hair and a collection of ‘vintage’ My Little Ponies. I hadn’t realised My Little Ponies were a thing I needed to have to keep her heart.

So, anyway: me, alone, in bed, newly single. About a month. Still not sure if I should change the double-bed in for a single to fit my new ‘relationship status’. And there I was, 4am, woke up from a dream where all my friends could fly, and I was still stuck on the ground. Couldn’t get back to sleep. Made some tea. Decaf, of course, I’m not that stupid. And I thought, well, time to sort out the room.

I’d kind of let it all go to hell since she left. Revenge. You know, ’cause me living in a shit-heap is revenge on her for leaving me. Or something.

My clothes had started not making it to the laundry basket, and then slowly creeping under the bed. And then getting covered in biscuit crumbs because I’d basically retreated with my laptop to my bed when I got home from work – insulating myself from the world with layers of Internet and duvet.

So. I put my tea on the floor and crouched down to see what had slipped under there, and I saw them:

Eyes looking back at me.

I screamed, of course.

I mean, I’d been worried about spiders, but great, big, human-sized-but-not-human-coloured eyes were not what I was prepared for.

The eyes opened wide – as shocked to see me as I was to see them.

I stared at them, unblinking. Not wanting to lose sight of where they were even for a second. Not that much unlike how I react to spiders, to be honest.

The eyes stared back.

Finally, they broke the silence:

“Hello,” they said.

“Hello,” I said back.

“Well, this is awkward.” The eyes looked down, shiftily.

“Would you care to explain what you’re doing under my bed?”

“I thought you would be asleep,” said the eyes.

“That’s not reassuring.”

“Well, you usually are at this time.”

“Not getting better.”

The eyes sighed. “I suppose I’d better come out, then.”

“I’d appreciate that.”

I’m not sure what I was expecting to crawl out from under my bed. Man? Woman? The voice was that middling pitch that makes it hard to tell, but even so, how did I think a man or a woman would get under my bed – repeatedly – without my notice?

What crawled out from under my bed was not a man or a woman. And I suppose it didn’t really crawl. It sort of oozed. Its body, in as much as you could say it had a body, was composed of a sort of shifting, shadowy darkness. It almost seemed to melt into the shadows cast by the mess on my floor from my bedside lamp. Except for the eyes, which glowed blue on feathery shadow stalks.

“Hi,” it said.

“OK,” I said.

It rolled its eyes. Which is something of a more dramatic move for something whose eyes were on stalks. “I’m a sentilamia.”

“Are you? That’s nice,” I said. “And why were you under my bed?”

“You’ve let a lot of stuff collect down there.”

“I know. I was going to clean it out.”

“No, not that stuff,” it sort of shivered with what might have been annoyance. “Feeling stuff. Sentilamias, we eat waste emotions. Well, you’d call them waste. I’m not dirty – I don’t want you to think that!” It drew itself up, shifting up the shadows of my open dresser drawers.

“I’m honestly not sure I’m thinking anything with any certainty right now,” I said.

“So, you don’t mind?” it ventured.

“Of course I mind!” I snapped. “I don’t want anybody under my bed when I think I’m alone!”

“It’s a perfectly healthy ecological relationship,” it said, primly. “You don’t want this stuff collecting. You’ll be wallowing in it within a week and then you’ll never get over her!”

“‘Get over her?’ – what do you know about that?”

It rolled its eyes again. The motion was quite disconcerting. “Only everything, of course,” it said. “I have been eating your waste emotions for the last three weeks. She’s not worth it, you know. If her head could be turned by that redheaded bint you deserved someone more committed to you anyway.”

“Uh, thanks, I guess,” I said. “Look, I don’t want to interfere with your ‘ecology’, or whatever, but you really can’t just hang out under my bed when I’m asleep.”

“It’s your ecology too,” it said, a little huffily. “You don’t want to know what happens to people who don’t have a good sentilamia on hand when they get really low.”

I thought about it for a moment. I only had its word to go on that it was providing some kind of psychic service, but what it was saying did make a certain amount of sense, and it did seem to know all about Alley and her new lover. That, and I didn’t have a better explanation for the presence of something I didn’t even know existed living under my bed.

“OK,” I said. “But do I need to be asleep for you to eat my ‘waste emotions’?”

It seemed to consider this. “No, I suppose not. I’m consuming some of them right now. Don’t you feel a bit better?”

Oddly, considering I’d just confronted a home-invader shadow-monster, I sort of did. “Yeah… I guess.”

“I could stop by in the evenings, just before you go to bed? We could even have a bit of a natter. Venting verbally is a good way to expel the waste.”

“Uh, sure. And you won’t come again without announcing yourself first?”

“I swear on all that’s dark and mysterious.”

And… she did. It turns out she’s a she.

And that’s how I met my first monster, and a strange new friend. Shoshi the sentilamia.

She even helped me set up wards to stop other monsters getting into my room uninvited. The undersides of beds are apparently prime doorways to the underworld. (Although they don’t like you to call it that – who’s to say that our world is not on the underside of theirs?)

Shoshi helped me get over Alley, and I sleep better now than I ever have in my life. On Saturday nights she takes me down to her side of things and shows me what real nightlife is like.

I can’t say that I miss Alley at all.


Sometimes I want to be like ‘GUYS – make a logo-link-awesome-thing for people to use on their blogs when they promote and/or review you without worrying that you might feel they’re stealing your art’, but then I realised I don’t have one of those things, so who am I to talk? Anyway: imagine there’s an awesome banner that expresses the supreme amusement Myths RETOLD provides here.

I wanted to get back into blogging gently. I’m bubbling underneath with, like a review of all ten seasons of Smallville, Superman, some books I’ve been reading… all sorts, but I just had a killer week and am not yet recovered from my anaemia, so I’m starting with something fun.

Myths RETOLD is like the epitome of neo-geekery – that kind of ecclectic mix of niche interests, passion, inventiveness, a scholarly approach to history, a literary approach to swearing, new-tech-loving, sub-culture creating geekery that the Internet has allowed to explode and shape our culture not by defining it, but expanding it.

The creator goes by the name of ‘Ovid’, and his ‘WHO WRITES THIS SHIT?!‘ section devolves from esoteric facts about himself to a rant about birds in poetic free-form. He responded to someone else’s attempt to find a way to credit him as follows:

Just do your thing, man. Read that shit like there is no tomorrow. You can just tell people about the site, and maybe about that sweet dude named Ovid who runs the site.

He goes by @tachaberdash on Twitter and frostyobsitnic on YouTube, where he appears to be a young man (usually naked – or at least, naked from the chest up – and wearing a hat) literally yelling myths at the Internet. Alas, profit appears to have trumped his wish for anonymity, however, and his book, Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology is attributed to Cory O’Brien. (I’d be reviewing that, but I don’t own it, yet.)

Anyway, Cory yells myths at the Internet. Or rather: he writes awesome, refreshing, and often insightful free-form poetry retellings of myths and legends in the language of our times – complete with all-caps, internet-slang, and pop-culture references. His ‘SMORGASBORD OF MYTHOLOGY‘ goes from ‘AESOP’S FABLES!‘ to ‘ZOROASTRIAN!‘, and he has recently started retelling the ‘SILMARILION!’ on Wednesdays.

I can’t remember which poem I was first linked to which started my exploration of this site, but I think he had me at ‘Tam Lin is Really Good at Rape?’. For those unfamiliar with the tale, there’s an awesome ballad about a kick-ass lady who deliberately goes out to this place where she knows this guy called Tam Lin hangs out, apparently either stealing women’s ‘mantles’ or their ‘maidenheads’, she has the sex with him and gets pregnant, but it turns out he’s an enchanted knight in thrall to the Faerie Queen, and will die unless Janet saves him, WHICH SHE DOES. This is how Cory describes Janet’s motives:

i mean here’s what I don’t get
you’re going into the woods
knowing full well that there is a dude there who will steal your shawl
and if he can’t find the shawl he is going to rape you instead
so your brilliant defensive strategy is to HIDE THE SHAWL RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR VAG
thus virtually assuring hours and hours of molesting action
oh nevermind
i totally get it now

The retellings are one part exuberant enjoyment to one part wry mocking, revelling in the inconsistencies, bizarre twists, and lost meanings, whilst also cutting straight to both the intended meanings and unintended ones that read oddly to modern eyes. It’s a delight to sample myths with which you are familiar and see how Cory recasts them, but it’s also brilliant to be able to enjoy myths from other cultures as Cory loots the legends of the world and bares them all to his wit.

It’s not without flaw. Whilst his no-holds-barred critique of the rape-culture of mythology is wlecome, there’s also a fair amount of slut-shaming, too. His interpretation of Tam Lin straddles an uncomfortable line between celebrating Janet’s free-love approach to sex and directly shaming her by labelling her as a ‘(SLUT)’. And whilst I’m glad he hasn’t limited himself to classical mythology and the myths of Anglo-American culture as if it were the only culture, I don’t know if his looting of world mythology might be taken as cultural appropriation by some. I’m conscious that my cultural history must be very similar to his (he’s white American) and I may share blindspots. Certainly, it seems a little ignorant to groop all ‘AFRICAN!‘ myths under the same heading, and there is a worry that mocking someone else’s culture in this manner could well be offensive.

I don’t know. It seems it would also be offensive to leave out other cultures. I enjoy the chance to expand my cultural horizons and myths themselves tend to stem from an oral culture of telling, retelling, and remolding, with some stories spreading across cultures and around the world – the ‘Cinderella’ story has countless variations and can be found in Chinese, Ancient Greek and Egyptian, Korean, Vietnamese, Arabian versions, and many more in addition to the modern European versions popularised by the Brothers Grimm. I’ve often felt that internet culture is moving back towards a free-interpretation style of fiction which has been artificially stulted by the printing press and copyright law – isn’t Myths RETOLD merely a continuation of this development?

I don’t know. My jury’s out. But overall I can’t help but admire and enjoy the skill and wit that has been applied to retelling these tales, and I want to celebrate it. What’s more, how wonderful is it that this has become an internet success story – yelling myths at the Internet for free has enabled this guy to launch a book. You can still enjoy hundreds of retold myths online, but you can also support him by buying a physical object. I like that, and I recommend it to you.

[Exciting post-script:] I felt you guys should know that Mr O’Brien/Ovid/tacherberdash/frostyobsitnic made possibly the classiest response I have ever had to a review anywhere. You guys should totally go here and read it.

Teenage Wasteland 4: The Legend of Catherine of Gawthwate – Finale

Here follows the last installment of The Legend of Catherine of Gawthwate, a truly terrible piece of my early writing that I have dredged up for your amusement. (Catch up on parts one, two, and three of TLoCoG here, here, and here.) And, guys, I think this might be the most batshit crazy part yet.


Catherine of Gawthwate (refered to as both a lady and a queen at times) is fighting a protracted war to take back her birthright from Lord Colotus. Sir Richard is a knight of… well, we don’t actually know, but his horse is called Belinda! Sir Richard was captured whilst escaping from a pack of wolves. Sir Ganathry took him to be an enemy agent, but for some reason Catherine could tell just by looking at Richard that he wasn’t. She apologises profusely and declares a feast in his honour. Richard explains that he has come to join the rightful force. Catherine and Richard flirt at the feast, causing Maid Jane to comment that Catherine’s really taken a shine to him. Maid Jane has a truly terrible country accent exuent.

The next day Catherine and Richard go hunting and flirt some more. Then they eat. Then they have an archery contest. Catherine is preternaturally good with a bow – she wins every single time; although Richard is the only one who is surprised by this. Catherine’s people are used to having their arses handed to them at archery.

The day after that there is a battle. Richard is wounded, and Catherine nurses him back to health. They fall in love, get married, and have a kid. The kid is called Calith. On the day he is christened, the officiating vicar declares that Calith will grow up to defeat Lord Colotus, because I guess vicars are prophets in Gawthwate or something. For some reason, Sir Ganathry is assigned to look after Calith, and he resents this. He dislikes Calith and grows to hate Richard. Finally, Catherine notices Ganathry’s neglect and assigns Mary, a 20 year old girl who likes children, to look after him instead. For some reason we are told that Mary is single. Calith grows up being as weirdly good at everything as Catherine was at archery. And at age 14 he starts sneaking his way into battles.

At age 17 he finally asks permission to go into a battle and wheedles his way onto the field on the condition that he stays at the back and keeps out of the way. Calith does not do this, and ends up bumping into his father, Sir Richard, and knocking him over. Sir Richard tells him off and then finds himself confronted with Sir Ganathry, who reveals that he has always been jealous of Richard. They fight, and Sir Ganathry kills Richard. Calith swears vengeance, but gets distracted by the sudden realisation that he is in love with his friend Sally. They get married and have two kids: Trelessa and Julia.

The story continues…

We have another lurch in time. It all becomes quite confusing:

“Trelessa!!!” Julia wailed, “John said he’d only give me my locket if I climbed up the tree. Then when I got stuck, he ran away. Treless, can’t thee tell old maid Jane to help me down, and then go after and then go after him ye self? He likes thee so much better than I.”

Who is John? We don’t know. Why does he like Trelessa more than Jane? We don’t know that either. What we can see, though, is that I have finally learnt that you don’t need spaces on both sides of the quotation mark – hurray! exclamation mark restraint is still a long way off, though. It took until a pen pal (a different one to the one this is dedicated to) pointed out that extra exclamation marks and capslock really aren’t necessary for emphasis that I finally began to tone it down.

Poor Jane, though. She’s our through line, I guess, but she’s become an old maid. I hope she and Mary are old maids together, sitting around stitching and bitching in the best sort of style.

(Trelessa was 14, and Julia 10 at this time.)

Oh, good. I worked that in smoothly.

John was Colotus’s son’s son, Colotus passed away before his birth.

What? What? When? What? ‘Colotus’s son’s son’? You read that correctly. A lot has happened since Calith got married and had kids. You don’t get to see it, though – oh no. This family saga is told by info-dump.

Colotus’s son was called Colotus II, and was just as ruthless as his father, but John’s mother had been sweet and gentle, she’d been raped, forced to marry, and died in child-birth, and John had far more of his mother in him than his father.

O_O I don’t even know what to say about this. I feel sort of shell-shocked by this sentence.

He’d only been fooling around, and was about to help Julia down and return the locket, when he’d spotted his uncle, (who was as bad as his father,) tapping his foot, and red in the face, he’d run away to try to escape the beating, he knew there was no point in running from, for playing with the ‘enemy’.

How the hell was he playing with them in the first place? What’s going on?

“Maid Jane.” Trelessa called. “Julia got stuck up yonder old tree, I have to go somewhere, get her down or set she’ll grandfather turning in his grave with her screaming!” She than ran in the direction of Colotus II’s castle.

You’re getting old maid Jane to get your sister down out of the tree whilst you run off to the Evil Usurper’s Son’s castle after a locket that the Usurper’s son’s son stole for no good reason and apparently couldn’t just drop when he got called back home? And why weren’t Calith’s kids captured when found playing with John?

What’s going on?

When she finally got there, out of breath, she was standing just outside the gatehouse, then she heard screaming and the sound of a cane on human flesh.

What’s going ON?

“Father, please, no, ahhhh!” The sound of John’s, despairing, voice rang through-out the castle.

Had someone been watching Return of the Jedi? I think someone had been watching Return of the Jedi.

“I’ll teach thee to play with the enemy!!!” She heard an adult’s voice boom, she thought this to be Colotus II. Then she did a very brave thing. She rushed into to castle ignoring the guards questions – they couldn’t, after all, kill a harmless, unarmed child – she burst into the room the piteous crying had come from.

I’m not really sure why the guards can’t kill a harmless, unarmed child, and I’m pretty sure that if they don’t want to kill her they can find other ways of detaining her. Asking questions are not a guard’s last resort. Just saying.

Still, go Trelessa! I will grant that she is brave as well as stupid and lucky.

“Where’s my sisters locket? And what’s he done to thee?” she said snatching the cane from the man’s hand and dropping it on the floor.

How old is Trelessa again? 14? And she’s snatching canes from grown men? I guess she is Calith’s daughter.

He looked deferent from what she had imagined, his anger stricken face was riddled with wrinkles of worry, even though he couldn’t be more than two or three years older than her own father. His red hair filled with streaks grey, his eyes were grey, and he was about two inches taller than her father.

Yeah, that is deferent. And two inches taller than her father, is he? That is a totally relevant piece of description. Mind you, given that Colotus II has had by far the most thorough description of anyone in this story I’m not going to be too harsh. I’m clearly trying to meld description and character depth to round out Colotus II’s character and suggest that there might be two sides to the legend of Gawthwate.

“You little brat! If my son toke anything off your silly sister he had good reason. If thee wore only older I should personally remove your head! Now get out before I come to better scenes and do it anyway!!!” Colotus shouted at her.

Nice spelling there. Shame it didn’t come to better scenes, wot?

And why isn’t he capturing her? Why does nobody in this castle think having a hostage would be useful?

“Not with out my sisters locket!” She screamed. Colotus toke hold of her shoulders and shook her. Then she let an all mighty scream release it’s self from her lips. The man was forced to release his grip to cover his ears. Then when he had retreated to the far corner of the hall she ended the scream.

Wow. Uh, that’s one hell of a scream, there, Trelessa. I’m pretty sure this is how all adults react to screaming children.

Removing his quivering hands from his ears, John produced the locket. “I-I was going to return the locket, really I was, but my-my uncle, he found me, I-I had to run, I had to,” The boy opened his hand to reveal the tiny golden locket, which had been the source of the trouble.

I really am pretty sorry for John, here. It’s all been quite bewildering, and although he was a bit of a twat for teasing Julia this does all seem a bit extreme as a consequence.

She excepted it and whirling around strode out of the room, slamming the great, oak door behind her.

Oh, good, she excepted it, did she? Excepted it from what, exactly?

Then she stopped and turned, how could she leave the cane with that brute? He’d only beet John again. So she swung open the heavy door, with surprising ease, grabbed the cane, and whirled, yet again, to exit the room.

Yeah, that… that is pretty surprising ease. I know I described Colotus II as worn down by the weight of power, but he doesn’t even try to stop her. Can you say ‘conveniently unnatural strength’?

When Jane finally arrived, Julia had finally ceased to scream, and was sitting watching a bird feeding it’s squawking chicks.

What? Has Jane only just arrived? I assumed she was right there when Trelessa was speaking to her earlier, or at least within yelling distance. That really is some set of lungs Trelessa has on her. And what the hell is this detail about the squawking chicks? And how long was Julia screaming for, exactly? I think I was trying to be funny, here, but I don’t think I quite understood how humour works.

Jane was now 37 years old, but there were streaks of grey hidden in her short blond hair. (This was why Trelessa and Julia called her’Old Maid Jane’.)

Oh, yeah, 37, she’s bloody ancient! I guess it was Ye Olden Times.

“Now Why’d thee go all the way up there for?” Jane asked, kindly helping the young lady down the tree.

“It doesn’t matter. Thankyou Maid Jane.” Julia said deftly brushing the dirt off her dress.

“And were’s that sister of thee gone off to?” Jane asked, looking in the direction Trelessa had gone.

“Ummmm. She’s gone yonder after John.” Julia replied walking into the house, deftly stopping any further conversation.

I’m not really sure how this would ‘deftly’ stop any further conversation. Perhaps I should have put ‘Maid Jane was conveniently uninterested in the fact that Trelessa had run off after the heir to the enemy’s throne in the direction of his castle’.

Trelessa arrived back 3 hours latter with the locket.

“Thee toke your time didn’t thee?” Julia asked scornfully.

Wow, Julia, nice gratitude you got going on there. Next time I think Trelessa should leave you up the tree and you can go get your own stinking locket.

“Well I walked back. Not that that’s any of your business.” She smiled at her younger sister, placing the locket on the table.

How is it not her business? I get that I’m trying to do some sisterly banter, or whatever, but this whole thing is about Trelessa sorting out Julia’s business for her.

“I think it’s my business, after all it was my locket. What happened over there?” She asked.


So Trelessa told her sister of what had happened. After that Julia sat there gawking for a while, then shaking herself became intently occupied in her embroidery so as not to look at her sisters smirking face.

Julia appears to have inherited the gapping gene from her grandfather, whilst Trelessa seems to have got all the superhuman-smugness from Catherine’s side of the family.

The next day Calith was woken by Jane, her face as white as a sheet, she was shaking him so hard that the sheets had slipped down to his waste.

Ew, Calith appears to have made enough waste in the bed for the sheets to slip on it.

When she realised that he was awake she stepped back, staring so hard at him that he wondered if anything was wrong with his features.

No, Maid Jane is just a perv.

She did a hurried curtsey and said, “Oh Master Calith, I thought you would nay wake for a moment.”

‘Master Calith’ is it? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’d been watching Star Wars.

She was so afraid that she looked as beautiful as she had when he was 5.

OK then! That’s not a creepy sentiment at all! Fear is not only sexy, it’s sexy enough to make a guy remember how beautiful he thought you were when he was five!

” It’s thy mother, she’s so feverish, we all think she might die! And when thee was so late to wake, I-I thought that thee might have the illness to!”

Oh my God – it’s as bad as Downton Abbey. What this war needs is a bit more PLAGUE.

“Go Jane, I’ll be in her quarters as soon as I’m dressed.” Said Calith. Now he understood why she was so pale.
He was dressed quickly and was in her quarters within 300 seconds.

What? Really? ‘300 seconds’? This must have been right around the time I learnt that 300 seconds was five minutes. Oh, the shame!

Later that day, after a lunch which no-one had cared to eat, Calith went on a walk, to think about happier times.

So I guess we’re not going to visit with Catherine, then. What was all this about?

“YOU!!!” Said a voice from behind him, Calith turned.

“Colotus!” He turned to see the red headed man reaching for his sword.

Wow. Was Catherine’s illness just engineered to make Calith go on a thoughtful walk so that he would bump into Colotus? (I’m assuming that this is actually Colotus II, not zombie Colotus I.)

You are on My land, and shall pay for that intrusion!” Colotus II had now drawn his sword and made his first strike and missed.

We have italics! People, the italics have landed! I have learnt that capslock and exclamation marks are not the only way to provide emphasis!

Calith reached for the only weapon he had on him, his dagger, the one his father had given him. The odds were against him, Colotus was taller, older, Colotus had a sword, and Calith was in no state to fight in.

Why is it an advantage that Colotus is older? He was looking pretty worn out the last we saw him, whereas Calith is in his prime. Also, I had a real thing about daggers about this age, and pretty much on into all of my teenage years. I don’t know why. I just thought they were cool.

Suspect I am thinking of the fight at the start of Dragonflight, here, in which F’lar only has a small knife to defend himself with. Kind of confirms my suspicions about the origin of the name ‘Trelessa’.

Calith spotted a place Colotus had left unguarded, his back…

WhatisthisIdonteven… I am trying. I clearly understand that in fights you look for openings, but the gap in Colotus’s defence is… his back? His whole back? I’m not even sure what this means.

… Calith was more agile than Colotus and could just get round before his opponent could protect himself.

That’ll be the advantage of youth… And, you know, the fact that Calith is a terrifying superman, as was pretty firmly established in the previous installments.

Calith made a jab on Colotus’s left shoulder, Colotus was left handed, but unfortunately the man swung round just in time to slice Calith’s leg.

I really can’t visualise this, but I applaud the effort young-me has gone to to try and describe a fight at last.

Calith made a second jab, this time knocking Colotus’s sword from his hand, then stabbing his opponent in the back at the base of his spine. Calith had one, then, he toke the crown (which had fallen to the ground) and walked away, glancing back he saw the wolves- probably the same pack which nearly killed his father- hungrily consuming the dead Colotus…

OH MY GOD – I WORKED IN THE WOLVES! This is… this whole paragraph is just a thing of beauty.

You have to admit that stabbing your opponent in the spine is gonna do some fairly substantial damage, although it might not kill instantly.

Took me a moment to parse what exactly Calith had ‘one’ of… then I realised that I meant that ‘Calith had won’.

Good thing that Colotus II had conveniently been wearing his crown when he found Calith trespassing in his land. I like Calith’s nonchalance in scooping it up and walking calmly away whilst convenient wolves appear to devour Colotus’s corpse.

“Oh Master Calith! Thy mother’s broken out of the fever! We think she’ll live, isn’t wonderful!” Jane said hugging Calith then, realising what she was doing, she stepped back and brushed imaginary dust off her skirt, but she couldn’t stop beaming with relief.

Just where is Sally whilst all this is going on? Sally, you need to keep watch out for your man, I think Maid Jane is eyeing him up!

And the convenient illness is over – woohoo!

Then Calith rushed to his mother’s room and knelt at her bedside.
“Your crown mother, and your kingdom.” He said, laying the crown, which had once been Catherine’s father’s, on her bed.

Woooo! Yay! What every mother wants. Prophecy: FULFILLED.

“My sun, my moon, my stars, and now I could be his queen.” Catherine said with a rueful sigh. “Your father told me all those things on the night we met.

*sheds a single beautiful tear*

But now, I fear, I am to old and sick to be the last. But you, you are young and full of life… and you, not I, won that crown.

That’s why it’s called The Legend of Calith of Gawthwate. Oh wait.

Also, I have added underlining to my store of Ways To Emphasise Things.

Take it… and the kingdom, they are both yours… Calith of Gawthate Manor.

Wait, is it a kingdom or a manor? I’m confused.

“Good-bye Calith, good-bye…” She had struggled to say the last words, they were the last she ever spoke…

Well, that’s just, that’s just beautiful, man.

Calith became a wise King, and Trelessa after him, Julia became a dutchess, and Calith also erected a monument to his mother…

Because he’s a good boy.


I dedicated this book to my pen pal [name removed to protect the innocent].

She’s waited long enough!

And there, you see the real reason this last section is so crazy: I’d come to that place all writers get to in the end, the point at which you realise you just need to finish the fucker. And I can blame it all on my pen pal, who I am sure was waiting for me to finish this story with bated breath.

Also, did you notice how totally relevant all that stuff with Julia and Telessa and John was? I suspect I had realised that a) the story was going to need to be even longer if Trelessa was going to become the hero, so I just abandoned that whole plotline; and b) I’d realised that ‘making children who end up killing Colotus’s son, Colotus II’ was a bit of a stretch for fulfilling the prophecy that Calith would kill Colotus. I mean, we might as well have said that Catherine was responsible, which, you know, would have at least made the title make sense.

So, there you go. That’s the end of one of my earliest complete stories (although I use the word ‘complete’ in its loosest sense). It is not one of my better works, and you may be unsurprised to learn that I have no intention of reworking it into any semblance of a real story. I don’t really think there’s a real story in there. It is best preserved as the mad romp into a bizarre quasi-medieval family saga that it is. Right down to the horse called Belinda and the starved pack of wolves.

Teenage Wasteland 3: The Legend of Catherine of Gawthwate continues some more!

Sorry no proper reviews since last week. It’s been busy times in Womblevonia. In lieu of exciting commentary on other people’s work, I give you: terrible writing from my childhood!

(Catch up on parts one and two of TLoCoG here and here.)

General accounts of part two are that it wasn’t quite as funny as part one, which I think might be correct. It was still bad, just in other ways. I suspect because I’d moved to talking about a kid’s life (something I’d have had a chance to understand) as opposed to two nobles courting, falling in love, and going to battle (something I knew nothing about except maybe what I’d learned from watching Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves – I’m pretty sure that’s where the whole archery thing comes from, actually). I also didn’t realised quite what a fan favourite Belinda the horse would turn out to be when I was eleven. If I’d known I would have given her a bigger part! Still, there’s 2,000 words left, and anything could happen!


Catherine of Gawthwate (refered to as both a lady and a queen at times) is fighting a protracted war to take back her birthright from Lord Colotus. Sir Richard is a knight of… well, we don’t actually know, but his horse is called Belinda! Sir Richard was captured whilst escaping from a pack of wolves. Sir Ganathry took him to be an enemy agent, but for some reason Catherine could tell just by looking at Richard that he wasn’t. She apologises profusely and declares a feast in his honour. Richard explains that he has come to join the rightful force. Catherine and Richard flirt at the feast, causing Maid Jane to comment that Catherine’s really taken a shine to him. Maid Jane has a truly terrible country accent exuent.

The next day Catherine and Richard go hunting and flirt some more. Then they eat. Then they have an archery contest. Catherine is preternaturally good with a bow – she wins every single time; although Richard is the only one who is surprised by this. Catherine’s people are used to having their arses handed to them at archery.

The day after that there is a battle. Richard is wounded, and Catherine nurses him back to health. They fall in love, get married, and have a kid. The kid is called Calith. On the day he is christened, the officiating vicar declares that Calith will grow up to defeat Lord Colotus, because I guess vicars are prophets in Gawthwate or something. For some reason, Sir Ganathry is assigned to look after Calith, and he resents this. He dislikes Calith and grows to hate Richard. Finally, Catherine notices Ganathry’s neglect and assigns Mary, a 20 year old girl who likes children, to look after him instead. For some reason we are told that Mary is single. Calith grows up being as weirdly good at everything as Catherine was at archery. And at age 14 he starts sneaking his way into battles. The story continues…

Part three:

” Father I am 17 and … ” Calith began.

” Nothing would change my mind on this subject Calith, thee is my son and will not go into battle!!” Richard shouted.

” But father I’ve paged thee three whole years.” Calith would have gone on, but he noticed his mother entering the room, and decided to stop.

But daaaaad…‘ Yup – Calith is a teenager, now. He’s paged three whole years. I’m pretty sure this is me having read The Song of the Lionness by Tamoira Pierce and just ripping the fantasy-training structure she describes wholesale. Also, I like how any use of the word ‘battle’ seems to inspire extra exclaimation marks from me. I haven’t really got the hang of exclaimation restraint, yet.

” Catherine would you get it into Calith’s head that being your son he is not to enter battle?!! ” Richard voice had lowered but he was still just as angry as before.

” I don’t see why he shouldn’t he must put his training to use some time and you know the prophecy as well as I. ” As Catherine said those last words her voice lowered to a whisper. ( Richard and Catherine wished Calith not to know his destiny. But Calith often over heard them talking about the prophecy he was so involved in.)

I like how it’s the Dad who wants to protect his child more. Although Catherine’s a bit Sarah-Connor-hardball in the mothering department, it must be said.

” All right, all right,thee can go to battle. IF you go at the very back, AND stay there! ” His voice was lowered and he was less angry. ( Calith had predicted this result as soon as his mother had entered the room. )

‘Calith, you may go to the ball, but you must be back by midnight or thee shalt turn into a pumpkin!’ All of this language is totally in keeping with the fantasy-medieval setting. And I’m not just ripping teenager/parent relationships from every 90s family sitcom I ever watched.

The next morning they prepared for battle. Calith found it very strange having some one else getting his sword for him, for all the battles he’d been in before he had had to sneak around to try to get at some spare swords and armour.

Why did Calith even ask this time if he’s been into battle before? And, I know he’s, like, superhuman-chosen-one, or whatever, but how did a 14 year old manage not to die in scrounged, presumably ill-fitting armour? I blame C S Lewis for encouraging inflated ideas of what children can do in a fight.

” Good-luck Calith! ” shouted Mary.
” Come back in one piece won’t thee Master Calith? ” Cried Jane. And then they were off to battle!

Only one exclaimation mark! Whatever next?! Soon I’ll be using commas appropriately!

Calith ducked and dived, and twisted and turned managing to knock several mens heads off and to keep his fermly on it’s neck. Then he found himself right next to his father in the front line … he tripped knocking his father to the ground.
” Calith what art thow doing in front line? ” Richard said speeding to his feet, and finding himself face to face with Ganathry!

I actually think this bit’s OK. Quite dynamic, for a battle scene. Although the idea of casually ‘knocking’ men’s heads off is slightly comical.

” You married her! She wasn’t meant to be yours! You, you common scum and traitor!!! ” Ganathry screamed.

Wow. Say what you really think, Ganathry! So that’s why you never really liked Richard. Newsflash! Just because you fancy someone, doesn’t mean they belong to you!

Richard launched into attack. Calith hastened back to his position, but he managed to see, from the corner of his eye, the death of his father. From that point onwards Calith would always blame himself for the tragedy. And very discreetly he began to cry, but then realising what this could cause he dried his eyes and fought like he’d never done before.

Calith became a great swordsman and swore to avenge his father.

Oh no! Sir Richard! But he was so charming and poetical! Again, it would have been nice to have a blow-by-blow description of this fight, considering how the emnity between Richard and Ganathry was built up (well, mostly from Ganathry towards Richard) it was over kinda fast. And we do move fairly quickly from this to Calith becoming a great swordsman. But I like how Calith both shows emotion and knows he needs to look brave for the troops. It’s no Shakespeare, but I’m improving.

Eight Months later Calith began to take just that little bit more notice of his best friend Sally, and suddenly he realised that he was madly in love with her and she with him.

OK. That was quick. I’m not even sure where Sally came from, and we go from introducing her to Calith being in love with her inside of a sentence. And, you know, I thought Calith was being all broody and avenging about his dad. Oh well.

” Miss Sally Rose White, delight of my eyes. ” He said to his love one frosty winter evening as they sat by the fire, ” Thee hath given me great pleasure these last months, and I wish it to go on till we both lie dead in our coffins. So my love I ask thee if, I might have thy hand in marriage? “

Wow. Umm, that started out well, ‘delight of my eyes’ and all – he was really channelling old Richard – but ’till we lie dead in our coffins’… talk of coffins isn’t usually what you expect in a proposal. Unless she’s a goth. Is Sally Rose White a goth? She doesn’t sound like a goth.

Incidentally, there’s some really cunning referencing going on, here. Two of my closest friends as a small child were a girl called Sally and another girl whose last name was White. And I’m a Rosemary. ‘Sally Rose White’? I see what you did there, eleven year old me.

Sally’s eyes opened wide in happiness, ” I-I, don’t know what to say…”

” Say yes, my love. ” Calith said.

Tears of happiness streamed down her cheeks. ” Yes, yes, oh Calith yes! I’ll be thee’s forever! ” Calith spun her off her feet, and hugged her close to him until he heard her heart pounding through her breast. Then he let go his hold and wiped the tears from her eyes.

” Come love, we must announce our news to the rest of this fair land! ” He said, locking her arm in his, and walking her down the stairs.

This is all pretty sickening. I can only apologise. I’d clearly been sold on the idea of romantic love, but didn’t really know what caused it. Just two people fancy each other and then: wham, bam! proposal and marriage and happiness forever. It goes on like this for a bit:

” Jane, maid to my fair mother, and Mary former nanny. I wish to announce the joyous news that Sally and I shalt be wed! ” He said to Jane, and Mary.

I like to think Jane and Mary totally hang out, bitching about how weird everyone is in Gawthwate castle and giggling over tea and toast. That’s why he happened to find them both together when he went to tell the world that he’s engaged.

” Oh, I’m so happy for thee both! ” Jane said, smiling as she remembered Catherine’s wedding. Then she had to struggle to stop the tears fall, though, remembering that treacherous of Ganathry!

Yeah, that was only 8 months ago. Maybe one of you should have a talk with Calith about rushing into marriage so soon after a big emotional upheaval?

So the word was spread and many a happy tear shed.

Oh, thank goodness, I thought for a moment that they really were going to try and tell the whole world.

One month later Sally walked down the aisle, in Catherines wedding dress, she looked just as beautiful as it’s last mistress. Her long blond hair in a french plait, and her startlingly green eyes flashing with joy and happiness, her beauty more than any other for that one special day in her life!

See how I got out of making up another wedding dress, there? Nicely done.

And, oh, she has long blonde hair and startlingly green eyes, does she? Colour me shocked. I’m sure no other girl has ever written a description like that for a heroine of their fiction. And a french plait? I pretty much thought this was the most awesome thing you could do with your hair that didn’t require magic, at the time.

Calith and Sally were very happy, they had two children, Trelessa and Julia, within 5 years of their marriage.

That was quick. Incidentally, ‘Julia’? Also a name of a childhood friend. And, I’m not 100% sure, because ‘Trelessa’ could just be from the same imagination flaily made-up-names-are-awesome pot as ‘Calith’ and ‘Colotus’, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s a reference to Lessa, of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern books.

The next section picks up with the adventures of Trelessa and Julia, so I think I’ll stop here, for now. What, you thought this book was actually both Calith, now? Guess again! You know prophecies are never that straight forward…

Teenage Wasteland 2: The Legend of Catherine of Gawthwate Continues!

So, people seemed to enjoy reading my horrifically bad early writings, last week. Favourites including my unique spelling of the word accent ‘exuent’ and Sir Richard’s horse, Belinda. For kicks and giggles, and so you can find out what happens to Belinda, I have decided to put the rest of the story up, too. Not all at once – 3,000 words is a lot to read in one sitting, especially when it’s complete rubbish. But over the next few weeks you will get the rest of the story, and be in a position to judge just how legendary Catherine of Gawthwate was.

Incidentally, there was some speculation that ‘exuent’ was the product of inaccurate spell-checker suggested word selection. Not so! As you will see as the tale continues, there is plenty more in the way of creative spelling that very clearly has not been through a spell-checker. I was writing this on a very old computer, with a very old version of Word Perfect. I don’t remember if there was a spell-checker (it’s entirely possible that there was) but if so, I may well not have realised it. I remember that all the menu options were accessible via function keys and then a series of other letters once you had the menu open. If there was a spell-checker it may have been several years before I found it.

If you didn’t read the first part, get yourself over here and catch-up!

Part two:

After this, between the fighting, there was a most romantic courtship which lasted 5 months, then they were married. Catherine wore a most beautiful wedding dress, encrusted with jet, diamonds and rubies, it was made of pure silk and the vale of the most beautiful lace.

See, most girls supposedly spend a lot of time thinking about their ideal wedding dress. I actually hadn’t. I mean, I knew I wanted it to be a princess dress, and obviously I wanted one of those very badly, but when I came to write this scene I realised I didn’t really know much about wedding dresses or what would make for a good description of one. My answer? BLING, apparently. I guess the jet was to make it stand out from all the other dresses encrusted with diamonds and rubies. I was so alternative.

The 8th most expensive wedding dress in the worldI asked the Internet if it had any photos of a wedding dress with jet, diamonds, and rubies on it, and the Internet’s respnse was something to the effect of ‘What? No! Nobody has ever worn a dress like that!’ I was kind of avaricious as a child, so I imagine I was pretty much thinking that the more expensive the better, hence all the bling. Catherine was probably wearing the fantasy equivalent of this (above), only with more jet. This dress is supposedly the 8th most expensive wedding dress in the world, worth 999,999 Yuan, or around £101,000, with 9,999 karats (about two kilograms) worth of jewels on it. It’s hideous, isn’t it?

The dress isn’t the only wonderful thing in this paragraph, though. It continues:

As she walked down the aisle she looked at her lover and thought of the first night they met and tear of happiness sprang to her eyes for this was the happiest moment of her life. Richard felt just the same as he remembered the romantic cements he’d made and the music of her voice as it answered.

Got to admire the single, beautiful tear of joy that recalls that really classy bit of flirtation I wrote at the feast in honour of Sir Richard’s trustworthy looks. Richard made some really romantic cements, that night.

The vicar cleared his throat ” Dearly beloved we are gathered hear today to witness the marriage of Lady Catherine Anne Heckles to Sir Richard Anthony Charles…” and so on and so on until ” Oh me oh my would you help me young lady I can never read the last bit, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.”

” It says, you may now kiss the bri…” Catherine got no farther for Richard knew what it said and gave most beautiful kiss.

The priest from The Princess Bride

‘Deawy bewoved…’

You have to understand that I thought I was very witty. See how I’m trying to smooth over the fact that haven’t a clue what people say at weddings by having the vicar be a bumbling fool. I totally wasn’t copying The Princess Bride. No. It can’t be that that was probably the only wedding I’d seen on film. Also, comedy is a great way to segway into a beautiful kiss. TruFax!

11 months passed to which were most blissful and then a baby boy was born, they named him Calith.

Wow. That was fast. 11 months is totally a reasonable amount of time for baby-making, though. And Calith is totally a name.

“Oh look at him Richard, he has your eyes and nose… we must have him christened as soon as possible.” Catherine said. (She was so exited with the new born child.)

Christening is the best way to express your excitement.

So it was that, as had been requested, the child was brought to be christened two days later.

I guess you hop to when Lady-Queen Catherine wants you to christen her child. No bedrest for Catherine – get that child prepped for God!

As the vicar searched through his book for the correct ceremony Calith began to cry, this wrinkly old man he had be placed before had not noticed him and his mother was out of view, so as Catherine soothed him she urged the vicar to be quick.

The vicar cleared his throat “Now, what did you say the Child’s name was, Caylith? No, no, no, no, it’s … Calith, isn’t it? Good.” And so it went

on quite well considering the vicar was way past the age of normal retirement.

Yup, bumbling vicar is comedy gold. I should do stand-up. Incidentally, I have no idea how you pronounce ‘Calith’ if you don’t say it so as to sound identical to ‘Caylith’. Also: creative line breaks for all! (this may actually be a formatting error from transferring Word Perfect files to Word, but pfft!)

“I do declare,” said the vicar “that this child shall be the answer to your dreams. He shall defeat Lord Colotus!!!”

All vicars are prophets in Gawthwate. The font doubles as a scrying bowl.

As the years went by Calith became a strong boy and a quick learner, but all the time Sir Ganathry grew to dislike the child, and despise his father.

Did you forget about Sir Ganathry? He was a named character, you should have been paying attention. Anyway, despite Calith’s obvious chosen-one good qualities, Ganathry really doesn’t like him. And he despises his father. Remember right at the beginning, with all that headshaking? That was set-up, that was. He never trusted Sir Richard. Because of reasons.

” Ganathry! Come hither at once! Hath thow no ears?” Catherine was furious. ” What right hath you to disobey my orders? I told you to stay with Calith. Why did you leave him with maid Jane? “

‘Maid Jane’ is totally a term of address in this world. It’s coming back to me now. I’m pretty sure this was a deliberate bit of world-building. FEEL the colour it adds.

” I had important business to attend to … lady Catherine.” Ganathry stammered in ripply.

Is Ganthry a face-hugger? Pretty sure that’s the only way to stammer in Ripley. Oh, wait, I get it, reply – he stammers in reply

” What business could be more important than Calith? ” She posed. ” Well? Anyway, I asked thee hither to inform you that due to this afternoon’s behaviour you are to be relieved of from nannying my son.This is Mary, she is the new nanny. You may now continue with other duties.”

What the hell was he doing nannying Calith in the first place? No wonder he was annoyed. Sir Ganathry is a knight, they are not known for their nannying services. They’re known for hitting things. Sometimes stabbing things. Why have you left your kid to this man’s care to bring up? Why didn’t you go with Mary in the first place?

Mary was 20, single, and she loved children. She instantly Knew how to deal with this fussy 9 year old child.

I’m not sure why we need to know that Mary is single. Is this plot relevant? I’m worried that this might be plot relevant. Are we meant to be shipping her with someone? If so, I’m not really sure who…

” Hello, I’m Mary … and you must be Calith. ” Mary said.

” Yes. But where’s Ganthry, he’s supposed looking after me? ” Calith was confused.

” He’s been relieved of thee and thee’s now in my care. Come I hear thee’s a good rider, I know not how to ride. Might thow teach me? ” Her voice was joyous and rang like a bell.

Well, she’s just a young Mary Poppins, isn’t she? I suppose this isn’t a bad way to deal with a fussy child – get him showing you something he’s good at.

” This is my horse Lightning, a-and this is Belinda. You can use her, she’s old and gentle, perfect for beginners.” Calith was liking his new nanny better and better every second, she didn’t shout at him, or boss him about, nor had he been left alone in the corner.

And so their friendship began.

Belinda’s here! I didn’t forget about her, but time has passed, and now she is old and gentle. And check out that dialogue – didn’t need to tell you that Calith was stammering in ripply, did I? A totally more subtle way to show his youth and nervousness. And Mary is clearly a much more suitable nanny than Ganathry, she hasn’t left him alone in a corner or anything! All it takes is a little kindness, Ganathry!

Early next morning Jane flung open the curtains and declared the beauty of the day and said that with such fine weather he should already be up. Unfortunately when she opened the curtains the light nearly blinded Calith.
” Jane!!” He said annoyed. ( As he had been left with her so often he called her Jane instead of Maid, or Maid Jane.)

Aren’t there any other maids in the castle? Also, if he’s left alone with Jane so much anyway, why couldn’t she be his nanny?

” Yes Master Calith? ” She asked.

” You nearly blinded me ? ” He said. ” And tiss far to early anyway.”

” I, but ‘ow could I let thee miss a morn like this? And anyway thee wanted to see the dawn chorus. ” She said gaily ” Sh. Listen.”

If you ever woke really early and heard the dawn chorus you would know just how they felt, it’s magic to hear all the birds singing together, it makes you feel like a great weight has been lifted off your shoulders, and you know that you’ll remember it for the rest of your life.

They sat their, just listening for a full hour, then it gradually died away. The two stood there for a while, speechless, then shook them selves and Jane said ” If ‘eared it once or a thousand times still get’s one in the
heart.” She sighed ” One ‘a natures wonder … oh Master Calith don’t thee forget breakfast is at 8 bells.” She then went off humming gaily to her self.

Guess who had recently woken up early to hear the dawn chorus? I actually have a distinct memory of writing this bit. I thought it was so rad. That’s writing from experience, my friends! And it’s completely plot relevant! No, it is not.

That day and for the year that followed Calith learnt all the skills he was going to need in battle – sword fighting, lances, archery and that
sort of thing – he learned fast and even became better than his teacher. By the age of 14 he became his fathers page and sometimes (though none new) sneaked his way into battle.

Another nice bit of ‘I have no idea what training in any of these things would involve, so I’m just going to say that it happened and move on!’ Also, Calith really must be a fast learner. Inside of a year he’s become better than his teacher in sword fighting, lances, archery (well, he gets that from Catherine) and ‘that sort of thing’. That’s umm, well. Well done, Calith. You terrifying superman. And he’s sneaking into battles – I’m sure that’s going to end well.

Tune in next week for more of The Legend of Calith Catherine of Gawthwate!

Teenage Wasteland: Old Manuscripts

Inspired by Lou Morgan’s post on discovering an old manuscript, I dug out a few. It wasn’t hard. I knew exactly where they were. I know some people who are happy to throw out their writing – one person who has literally burned (or deleted, in more recent years) everything he has written. Even though some of it was quite good. I am not one of these people. I keep everything. For four years I attended my university writing group twice weekly and wrote a short story for virtually every ten minute writing challenge. I have all of those. In a folder in my mum’s attic are the short stories I wrote in ‘writing hour’ in school from age six to eight. In another folder are all my handwritten early novel attempts, from back when I thought that when I was famous people would be thirsty for anecdotes about my writing habits and would say things like ‘And did you know? She handwrites everything in the first draft – and she uses a different pen every time!’. Yes.

Of course, these aren’t easily accessible. But wait, there’s more. My family were a bit ahead of the curve on getting a word processor at home. When I was six years old Dad brought one home from work, and he sat with me and we wrote down together the first story I ever thought up. I’d made it up when I was four, inspired by my father’s wonderfully inventive fairytales, such as The Blue-haired, Blonde-eyed Princess, and The Dragon Hunt, which he could make up on the spot and endlessly retell to our ever delighted ears.

I still have it. I copied all my old writing off that ancient machine when I was forced to finally part with it and take my new computer with me to university. Along with it I took everything I’d written between the ages of 10 and 16, when I first really started trying to write. There are some real gems, here.

Some people are embarrassed by their old fiction, and I guess there’s a bit of that, but I think this stuff is wonderful. It’s often hilarious. It’s almost worse when you find a bit that isn’t half bad, because it makes you cringe in the context of the rest. But I love the youthful enthusiasm. And, as others have said before me, it’s nice to see how much you have improved.

For entertainment value, here’s an extract from a story I wrote when I was about 11, I think? Accompanied by sporkage from adult me. I dedicated it to my pen pal of the time. I bet she was well thrilled.

    The Legend Of
    Catherine Of Gawthwate

On the date of 16th October, a cold and misty morn. Sir Richard rushed through Hucksbre forest chased by a pack of starved grey wolves. Upon reaching the east wing of the forest he was stopped by a scout troop sent by Catherine of Gawthwate, the rightful air to the thrown which was now held by Lord Colotus general of her late fathers army now she was fighting a great battle against him.

You gotta respect a cold misty morn. Not to mention the random, never mentioned again, fantasy staple of a starved pack of wolves. Rock on! Also, forests have wings now. That’s how they talked about them in ye olden times, right? And how about these names? Catherine of Gawthwate isn’t too bad, but Lord Colotus? What is he, the roman lord of colostomies?

It’s not all bad, though: check out my feisty lady fighting to reclaim what’s hers. I honestly don’t think anything in this story is worth salvaging, but I respect my eleven year old self’s spirit.

“Good knights,” he said “my horse Belinda is out of breath and at this very moment we are cha Uh…” He was forced to the ground and a sword put to his neck.

Because it’s very important that the knights know what his horse is called. I’m also not quite sure what move they used to unhorse him – the comedy yoink?

“State your name and reason to be hither”The knight growled

“Sir Richard and I wish to join the rightful force.” He panted

“Alright take him to the out post I shall consult the fair lady Catherine.”
He said “And don’t let him escape.”

Me and commas were clearly not friends at the time. ‘Sir Richard and I’ – wait, weren’t you Sir Richard? Ohhhh, I see. Clearly my dialogue did not need to be bound by the chains of oppressive grammar.

At the castle of Catherine Heckles (Catherine of Gawthwate) Sir Ganathry
burst through the door and knelt at Catherine’s side.

“My knight,” She said “What brings thy through yonder door at arrow speed?”

“Lady Catherine” He panted out “an intruder was found on the east wing of Hucksbre forest.”

“And what pray is his name?” Catherine inquired. “He claims to be of noble stature a Sir Richard though I very much dought the name is his.” He replied.

“Take him to me and I shall bear judge to his state.” She replied.

“So be it.”He said shaking his head as he went.

The names are getting better. See how I understood that you could be ‘of somewhere’ and that might not be your surname? And ‘Heckles’ – wow, you can see why she didn’t use that much. Also, I should go through more doors at arrow speed, and I should tell people about it in awkwardly cumbersome fashion when I see they’re in a hurry.

Incidentally, ‘He said shaking his head as he went’ marks a problem I still struggle with. People do not need to have an action to accompany their speech. ‘He said’ is fine.

Sir Richard was lead in on his horse, hands bound tight.

Wait? Isn’t she in some kind of hall? Why is he still on his horse? I clearly had the sense of place DOWN.

“Unbind him at once,” Catherine shouted “I apologise for there blindness I see now you are truly who you say you are.” The men did as they were told.”I declare that to show that and I speak true of all present, we are truly sorry I am to hold a great feast in your honour Sir Richard. But as for now my maid Jane will show you to your quarters.”

Alright, calm down. You’re at war, it’s OK for your scouts to be suspicious. Also, how exactly can you see that he’s OK?

“Your a very lucky man to be in our lady’s favour.” Said the maid.(She had a country exeunt.) “She’s taken fancy to thee.”

Oh, OK. I’m fairly sure all attractive men are trustworthy, too. That’s totally how it works. And ‘exeunt’? That’s totally a word. The BEST kind of word. A word that really tells you something about the way the common folk speak.

“Why? Do you really think so?” He asked.

“Yes, its not every man she takes to. They say the only man she loved ( before thee ofcourse ) were ‘er daddy.” She said as she showed him in to his room.” Now you’ll need to be down at seven bells for the feast.” She finished and left the room.

Aw, Daddy’s girl.

At 7:00 pm the feast began and there were mountains of food such as you’ve never seen before. Stuffed wild boor, turkey and chicken, venison, pork and beef. There was apples, pears, plums, strawberries and rasberrys. And there were the finest of wines spiced, red and white.

Wow, that’s, uh, some feast. And quite a punctual one for a time when I’m pretty sure clocks were at best, very rare. You can see I knew I ought to describe some kind of lavish feast, but I’d never eaten a ‘feast’ and hadn’t even encountered much of that sort in fiction. So I was just, like: meat – lots of it! And posh meat like venison! Stuffed! Everything stuffed! And wild boor – that was totally a thing, right? And, you know, lots of fruit. And wine – both kinds! And spiced! Is spiced white wine a thing? It is now! I love how there are no sauces or anything. You want beef? You got beef. You want apples? Have an apple on a plate. Yummy!

Richard said suddenly “My sun, my moon, my stars and my queen. I beg of thee two requests before we dine, the first a toast and the second for one bliss filled moment a kiss.”

He’s quite poetic, isn’t he? Clearly seen which way the wind blows and totally up for flattering his way up the status ladder.

“I grant both wishes, if you tell me to what do we toast?” She said with a laugh.

“Why?” he said “To our kiss ofcourse.” He laughed and then they kissed.

He so romantic.

The evening went Beautifully after that and there was lots of wine drinking and laughing and just every sort of merry making known to man.

Yeah, that’s all the dialogue you’re getting for the feast. Flirtation ESTABLISHED. Again: I had never been to a feast and hadn’t a clue as to what one might say at one. I also didn’t have a rich enough plot to provide any substance for their conversation. Solution? End the scene! It’s all gone ‘Beautifully’, after all.

The next morning Sir. Richard was given cloths witch had been Catherine’s fathers. and while Jane was up there she said ” You did well last night no before hath got so far in a night. It might takes them a month to embrace ‘er in a hug.”

Everyone seems to be in league with him getting it on with Catherine. This conversation is totally appropriate for a maid to have with a nobleman. And there’s nothing wrong with a female servant acting as valet for a gentleman.

“What pray do we do today?” he said and added ” Maid Jane.”

‘Maid Jane’? What? What? I’m sure she loves being called that. You so smooth, Richard. I’m clearly struggling with what would be appropriate, formal, ye olde forms of address.

“Well ‘er lady ship ‘as prepared the hounds for the ‘untin so I suppose theres tha’ and a arrows bin sharpened so theres archery ‘n all.” She said gaily stopping work for just a second. “There tha’ll do, nice clean beds for the night. Oh and don’t forget ‘er ladyships very good at archery (watch out).” She said with a giggle.

NICE exeunt, there. Totally convincing. I didn’t even need to tell the reader she had an exeunt. It’s all right there in that skillful dialogue. It’s obvious she’s speaking with an, uh, well… fantasy common (?) exeunt.

Then at 8:10 am he got up and strolled down to the stables.

Punctual as ever. I’m pretty sure this is how they organised their days in medieval times.

“Lady, queen and by far fairest. I say to thee goodmorning. How many hounds for the hunt 20, 25?” He asked her as he knelt to kiss her hand.

Is she a lady or a queen? Just what is the feudal structure in this place?

“Arise gallant knight. your answer is 30.” As she said this she mounted her horse and begged him to join her.

Who cares how many bloody hounds there are? These people are both clearly excellent conversationalists. I’d love to have them at my feasts!

“Hark I hear the hunt horn calling. Join me lady.” He said as he road forth.
“By way you call me lady doth thow mean to say that we art strangers? Why not call me by my name?” She asked.
“Catherine my lady, all I say is that your name by it’s self holds so much beauty I find it hard to say it more than once a day and there for I wish to call thee, fair maiden, lady.” As Richard said these words Catherine’s face was lit up by the romantic talk.

The charming banter is strong with this one. He’s a keeper, Catherine!

The hunt horn went again and the chaise began. The horses galloped and the hounds barked, and they were soon on to a fox.
Over all they caught eight foxes and after the hunt they returned to lunch.

Is eight foxes a reasonable number to kill in a hunt? I don’t know much about hunts, but that sounds like a lot. They must have a real problem in Gawthwate.

The meal involved passion fruit, apples, strawberries, and plums as starters, roast chicken and turkey as the main meal, and for dessert strawberries in cream. They drank spiced wines – but not to much for there was the archery still to come.

Another classic fantasy meal. Lady Catherine is clearly fond of strawberries – for starter and dessert. And spiced wines. You gotta have spiced wines or it’s not a fantasy anymore.

The target was set 20 m. away from the archer. For this Catherine insisted on using her own bow and arrow instead of the competition ones. As she let the string go you could see in her eyes, she knew exactly where it would go and as it hit the bull’s eye smack-bam in the centre only Richard stood there gapping everyone else seem to take it for granted that they would lose, and indeed they did lose that competition and the next and the next…

Close your mouth, Richard, gapping is unmanly. And Catherine’s archery competitions must be such a ball. No one else ever wins. Catherine’s just that good.

The next day there was no time for a hunt or an archery match they were in to battle!!! Richard was wounded on the arm, and the deep cut was infected. The infection put Richard in a deep fever. Catherine spend every moment she could at his side. He remained in the fever for six weeks, and then it toke anther month before he was fully recovered. (though his arm would never be as good as it had been.)

Shit! A battle!!! How inconvenient – I’m sure Lady Catherine would much rather have been hunting the plague of foxes on her lands or showing all her people how they will never be as good at archery as she is. And oh noes! Richard has been wounded! Of course, Catherine must nurse him back to health. Their love, after two days, is just that deep. But check at my realism – the wound doesn’t heal perfectly. Battles are serious buisness in Gawthwate, yo.

After this, between the fighting, there was a most romantic courtship which lasted 5 months, then they were married.

Wow, OK. Shame we didn’t get to see that courtship – it sounds dead romantic. I like that I didn’t go for the whirlwind marriage, though. Five months! I didn’t know how to write it, but it’s clear I knew they shouldn’t just conveniently fall head over heels for each other.

In case you were wondering, this is not the end of the story. There’s another 3,000 words, including the marriage ceremony, with a detailed description of the gown to rival those given for the feasts. They have kids and at the Christening the vicar predicts that the baby will defeat Lord Colotus, and via a dramatic series of events, that happens. All the Richard/Catherine stuff is thus totally relevant to resolving the central enigma.


Got any old stories you’d like to share and spork?

Hint Fiction

Hoping for an Early Spring


Leave off chasing S. It always ends in tears – he has eyes only for A. Come early this year; I will linger late.


I wrote this for a hint fiction anthology – maximum 25 words, excluding title – it didn’t make the cut. I don’t know any other hint fiction markets. I’ve tried cutting it down for TwitterFic, but with the title it’s too many characters, and without the title it doesn’t make any sense – all attempts at re-jigging failed. So, I figure, it’s time to set it free, and hey, it’s sort of seasonal, so now’s a good a time as any!