Wednesday 2 March 2011

The Seventh Rule - Chapter 1

Today we begin new a piece, The Seventh Rule, a serialized story delivered in seven short parts.

In a break from my usual method of electronic publishing, the complete story will be available on the main site and in various eBook-friendly formats only after the last chapter has gone live from this blog. In part this is because reader Anders Hovmöller has generously created a python script that automatically discovers and converts new stories posted to my main site and I don't want to foul the process by posting incomplete works; mostly, however, this is because formatting all the HTML pages for a chapter-by-chapter delivery is a nuissance because, unlike most denizens of the twenty-first century, I still code my pages by hand.

While we're chatting, I should probably also mention that I've been invited to appear as a guest at the Toronto Comic Con, March 18 - 20, at the Direct Energy Centre. Special thanks go to Stephen Shamus for making this happen. If you're geographically proximate I hope you'll consider dropping by to say hello, or to offer vicious spit-flecked criticism, or whatever.

And now, without further ado, the first installment of The Seventh Rule...


They say there is a spot so high that above a man's head would be a ceiling of blue emptiness no ladder can touch.

They say that hanging there, beyond reach, is an unblinking ball of flames.

They say also that there are great bodies of smoke up there, and when the bodies of smoke gather up together they weep droplets of water, and the tops of exposed things become wet in this way.

I doubt it. I believe any serious man would doubt it. And I have been a man for more than ten sleeps; even now my member is nearly healed. I have been on many hunts, and I have wandered far. Allow me to assure you: there is no such thing as sky.

I believed it as a boy. Elders tell such stories around the vents. Fantastic stories -- wonders witnessed, demons slain, heroes dispatched on quests to the overworld and dying in noble ways...

I too aspire to die in a noble way.

The overworld is real, certainly, but it is not so wild or ridiculous as they say. I have seen it. There is no ball of flames or blue emptiness, but there are many, many clans there composed of many, many families. Their ways are strange and wrong. They have lost their senses because they live too high up.

We, on the other hand, remain true. The roots beneath the overworld are our country. Our lives are hard but they are good. We fight and love and die in these tunnels the overworlders abandoned long ago. They turned their back on nature, but my people embrace it. In the roots we live according to the old ways, the ways long forsaken in the bright and busy above.

The roots are very beautiful. They are straight and they are keen in a way that men and animals are not. Their angles are true, their direction sure. Divine, they are, and rectilinear beyond all craft.

Some are marked by sacred arrows. Others have holy caution stripes.

It is true that some of the root clans paint images for their own purposes on the walls, but this disgusts my people. The roots are not for men to alter. The roots are older and stronger than men, and I believe they punish image-makers by caving in on them or playing shadow tricks on them.

The waters paint, too. They bleed through the walls and draw whorls of black stink or gay blossoms of orange burn or chalky white dots. The spirits communicate with my people in this way. By reading the marks, we learn about the future -- about births and traffic conditions, or evil.

The Seventh Rule continues tomorrow!


SaintPeter said...

I am left dazed and confused at what your italic comments are attempting to convey. On one hand you seem to say that the story will not be available until it is done . . but on the other: here is a part of it.

Is the image supposed to be click-able for a larger sized version? The mouse turns to a hand, but nothing is forthcoming upon clicking.
Such a small, bite sized piece. Tasty, but leaving me salivating for more.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear SaintPeter,

What I mean to say is that when I deploy a blog post containing a chapter I usually link to a hard-coded HTML version of that same chapter on -- in this case, I won't be putting up the full story there until after all of the chapters have individually been pushed out via BlogSpot and/or Wetmachine.

This won't matter a whit to some of you, but I know it does to others -- for example, those who suck down the PDF or ePub versions for consumption on their portable devices. Those versions will indeed be available, but not until next week.

...Is that any clearer?

Cheeseburger Brown

SaintPeter said...

Ahh, yes, that makes much more sense. I always catch your stories off the main "blog" interface, so I never really see the "html" version, such as it is. My mind has been expanded.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear SaintPeter,

Also: whether or not the image ought to be clickable is a mystery to me, as I've lately been uploading the images via Blogger's tools rather than hand-coding a hard link. Since the formatting tools are frustrating me in the extreme, I'll likely be going back to the old way of composing my posts in HTML.

Plus: indeed it is a bite-sized piece...I'd considered running the whole story at once (which has its own satisfactions) but ultimately felt it might inspire more speculation and discussion if serialized.

Cheeseburger Brown

Sheik Yerbouti said...

Ooh, fresh cheeseburgers!

I love the way this dystopian/apocalyptic future world is taking shape through the perception of a newly bar mitzvah-ed warrior. Your narratives are smooth and subtle, and I have missed them.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Sheik,

Thank you kindly, sir. Note that Chapter 2 is already up.

Cheeseburger Brown

Sheik Yerbouti said...

I did indeed! It just seemed proper to comment first at the beginning. Carry on, good bard.