Archive for the Stories-Thunder Songs Category


Posted in short stories, Stories-Thunder Songs, writing with tags , , , , , , on October 6, 2009 by Jaym Gates

From Wikipedia:

The Aztecs believed that the dead traveled to Mictlán, a neutral place found far to the north. There was also a legend of a place of white flowers, which was always dark, and was home to the gods of death, particularly Mictlantecutli and his spouse Mictlantecihuatl, which means literally “lords of Mictlán”. The journey to Mictlán took four years, and the travelers had to overcome difficult tests, such as passing a mountain range where the mountains crashed into each other, a field where the wind carried flesh-scraping knives, and a river of blood with fearsome jaguars.

Whoa. And we think Christians have a mean Hell.

I think it says something about me as a person and a writer that I have Wikipedia’s page on Hell saved as a favorite.

However, I have an excuse: I’m going to write 9 short stories over the few months or so, tentatively titled Alighieri and the Songs of Sheol. Yes, it’s a bit of a mix, so the title will probably change. However, it will be stories set in the various cultural interpretations of Hell, so the mishmash might work. In addition, I will try and write one of them as hypertext fiction, which will be an adventure…

Why this, why now? Because a main premise of The Red Sun Rises is the travel of the hero through a hundred hells. However, I realize now that I didn’t know that much about different interpretations of hell. So this is partly research.

But, it is also because I like to have a big project over the winter. Something shorter than a book, longer than a short story. Last year, it was New Name.

So, as soon as I finish Prometheus this week, I’ll start on the stories. They should include horror, romance, adventure, steampunk, cyberpunk and fantasy. The realms tentatively planned on are Mictlan, Gathas, Diyu, Sheol, Xibalba, Aralu, Peklo, and two original hells.

I am looking forward to this!

War-Clans, Exiles and Self

Posted in Excerpts, novels, QWIPS, Stories-Thunder Songs, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , on September 15, 2009 by Jaym Gates

When I first started writing fantasy, it was a mere inkling of originality. 90% of it was Tolkien fan-fiction. I didn’t have any desire to write seriously. Three, four years of world-building, and I’d realized that there was no way Tolkien was big enough for my imagination. I wanted my own world. I had plenty of people, places and things to populate it.

So I started a nameless series. Only two characters have retained their names, their identities and their stories for nearly that entire time: Kasiris and Aleshan. (Kasiris did originally have another name, but it was never really intended to be the final result. I just hadn’t found the right one yet.)

It was around those two characters that Shadow and Soul began to develop. If I were to draw a picture representing this world, Kasiris and Aleshan would be center stage, immaculately drawn and detailed. Around them, broad strokes and partial colors would be forming a vast tapestry, one that was constantly changing. They are literally the center of that world, the reason for it existing, both in my mind and within their world.

One of the strokes that is becoming its own picture in that tapestry is the story of the culture itself. Light and Night, War-clans and Shapers, treachery and love. An immortal race with power greater than the gods of our world were ever given, with hot tempers and cold resolve doesn’t float demurely in the background of a story. If a story is being told about one, it is being told about everyone. Kasiris and Aleshan are not alone, they would be nothing without their people.

I started a new short story today about treachery and duty. It stands alone in the Shadow and Soul, follows a character unrelated to any of the ‘important’ characters, and yet inextricably twined with their stories. It is a story about realizing the balance of great and small, the duty they have to each other. The Bear-Star is a story about a man who is no more than a minor land-lord, a smudge of something to the power of the great ones. Yet it is through his need and his determination that the Marasran are able to keep from fracturing down the middle. In a way, he does more for his people than the great ones.

Too many gods and immortals are shown as above the cares and concerns of life. The Marasran are life, but they forget that and lose their footing in the chaos that they should be directing. And then they need a gentle reminder.

The Marasran are humanity, distilled, refined, sharpened. They are what we fear, what we worship and make gods out of. They are as out of our logic as the ocean, a deep and dark part of our self that is hidden beneath manners and the protocol of civilization.

They are the creators of our nightmares and the guardians of our dreams.

‘Hidden’ 7/22

Posted in Stories-Thunder Songs with tags , , on July 22, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Clocking in at 380 words on its first day, Hidden is the project I’ve been talking about for the last few days.

At a rate of 300 words a day, ten days to write the rough draft while working on the last edit of Inherent, it should end up around 3000 words. Then one week for feedback and editing. Then off to the publisher.

It took me 23 minutes to write 380 words from scratch. There was no plot, no brainstorming. Just a blank screen.

Many hours they spent at the edge of the restless sea as the sun died.


Posted in Stories-Thunder Songs with tags on June 26, 2009 by Jaym Gates

We have a routine here on Fridays. Work till five pm, then hit PJ’s Bar and grill for a few beers and some manno a manno time. Ogle the bar girls, maybe grope a few asses and make some jokes about titties and the alley behind the bar, but hell, you never act on that. Community is too small, and most of our wives know how to use that shotgun in the closet.
Get a nice buzz, let loose some of the frustration of the day, and head home. The rest of the evening is spent having dinner with the wife and kids. That ain’t peaceful, the wife screaming at the kids, the kids screaming at each other, everyone screaming at me. Usually I’ll just crash in front of the TV and have some more beers. It’s a boring life, and I often wonder what it would be like to be rich, but after a while, you sort of stop caring.

Tonight is different though. The wife wanted to take the kids to see her parents in Baltimore, so I’m alone for the week. The weather is miserable though, hot and sticky like, well, I won’t tell you that. Wouldn’t be family friendly. Damn political correctness and censoring.

The regular crowd has gone home, I should too, but the house was too empty last night. I didn’t notice it until I turned off the TV and went to bed, but the house makes a hell of a lot of noise. And it was too empty. Felt like a bunch of ghosts in there, way too spooky.

Big Dan slid me another Bud. The beer was good and cold, wetting my hands as I picked it up. It was late, only a few old boozers hanging around. I cursed and took a swig of beer, lighting another smoke from my old one. Grinding the old one out in the tray, I thought about leaving the city, going west and trying to find some work out in California. Construction and trucking are good out there, but the prices for stuff is bad, so I guess that’s not such a good idea. Oh well, fuckin immigrants taking all the jobs there anyways. Papers are full of nothing but stories about the problems out there. Of course, we have plenty of problems over jobs here too. Lucky to have mine I guess.

Another swig of beer, it’s getting warm now. Damn, don’t want to go home. It’s too cold there. What’s gonna happen when the kids leave? Me and the wife knocking about in the old house, just working till we can’t work anymore. Then what, sit on the porch and wait to die? Shit, gotta be something other than that.

Last swallow of beer, and Dan shakes his head. I bargain with him, my voice slurring a little, telling him my family is out of town and I only have tonight to have fun. He gives me another one, but tells me the bar is closing.

Clutching the bottle, I stagger out into the night. Never really gets dark here, city lights an’ all. Damn junk, tripping me up. Must be time to go home.

I wonder if there’s anything to drink there. I need something harder if I’m gonna sleep tonight.


Posted in Stories-Thunder Songs on June 5, 2009 by Jaym Gates

An excerpt of something I thought of earlier at work. My aunt was one of those ‘crazy’ people, a girl who saw an entire world we don’t see. She died eventually, the doctors never figured out what was wrong. One of my biggest fears as a child was that I’d end up like her.

The entire piece is rough, about 1000 words long. I’ll polish it later. This is the ending.


I shake my head when they ask if I want to go home. I like the white walls and the white bed and the simple talk. It’s all there is for me now. This is my fantasy. My heaven has white walls and a narrow bed. My hell has color and noise and things reaching out for me.

What they don’t realize is that once you stop seeing, you become invisible. You disappear. That’s how ghosts are made really. It’s because they closed their eyes to everything and just faded away.

Someday I’ll just float up from my bed and float through the world and no one will ever see me, because I’m blind to everything.

I’m not crazy. I’m cured. My dreams are gone, my fantasies, my nightmares. I’m a child, unthinking, uncaring.

My mind is white.

I’m not crazy anymore. I think I’ll live forever now, just behind your vision as one of those things only the crazy people see.


Posted in Excerpts, Stories-Thunder Songs on June 2, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Making a playlist this morning, songs to listen to while I work on Inherent, the classical terms caught my fancy and I found myself repeating them softly under my breath. Elegie, Praeludio, Arioso. The names are as beautiful as the music itself, and I thought maybe I could write stories or poems based on the style of music each term represents.

Waste no motion
Sing no unloved song
Paint no images you do not dream
Touch nothing not pleasing to you
Hear only good of the world
See only beauty
Raise eyes to stars
Raise hands to sun
Raise voice to moon
Be a part of all
And all of a part
This is your cavatina

Classical terms


Posted in Stories-Thunder Songs with tags , , on May 22, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Don’t try to understand what happens when you first start flying. It’s like magic, you question, you fall, you crash and burn, you die. Wings aren’t made for logic, not these wings. We aren’t birds, we aren’t insects or fat metal tubes hurtling through the sky. We’re magic. We’re pretty impossibilities. We’re the thing children point at and scream in delight over.
Let go, fall. Watch the ground. See? See it coming for you? A hungry lion, a bear, a monster with shark’s teeth and a rapacious grin. It’s going to eat you. It’s going to smash you. Every bone. It’s going to rape you and devour you and you are going to beg for it. Scream for it.
And when its reaching its dirty fingers, its fat, slimy fingers for you, when you know you are going to die and you welcome it and hold your hands out to it, then you fly. Then those beautiful magnificent exquisite wings billow open and you go screaming towards the sky, caught in blood and death and sex so perfect you could cry and then you’re backfloating in the sun’s ocean, and looking down on that hungry and greedy ground, and you start laughing because you’re flying. You aren’t human. It’s all there below you, and it’s not you.
That’s what flying is. It’s not wings and feathers and hollow bones. It’s not air currents or speeds or velocity…

Thus endeth the tale. Or what I am posting anyways. If I decide I’m not going to do anything with it, I’ll post the rest. Or email me, and I’ll send it to you.

This Is the Time of Dreams

Posted in Musings, Stories-Thunder Songs with tags , on February 5, 2009 by Jaym Gates

The city looms behind her, before her stretches an endless highway, clogged with traffic. There is only one direction on this highway. Away. Away from the shadow, away from the storm behind them. They do not see the void in front of them, they flee the infinite possibilities of chaos for the stifling, drowning nothing. Like lemmings they drive, onward and forward, until they fall from the edge of the world.
Her family is there, caught between the great city and the road. Undecided, uncertain, trapped by their own longing and their own fear. Creatures of power and chaos they should be, but they fled that, with their horses and magic and now they beckon their errant princess to them.
Your lord has left you, your precious shining light, your champion and protector. He is gone. Your dreams are evil, death walks hand in hand with you, and none will receive you, child of chaos. There is no room for our kind anywhere, we are alone.
Lies, lies. Her lover, her mate, did leave. Without word of where he was going, she waited for him. Two years she waited.
There is no place for you in that city of reason and cautious guarding.
This, at least, is true. He left her, and they tore the veil from her, declared her foreign, tainted, unworthy. They deigned not to notice her as she wandered their halls, her footsteps echoing in her own silence, as around her, the bustle of their lives leaves her untouched. A princess twice over. The mate of their prince. The heir and shining star of a people nearly forgotten by time.
On the horizon, she sees the great storm approaching, sees dark fingerlings of cloud reaching, arching, grasping towards the city. Sees the shining pinnacles falling into darkness.
Part of her wanders there still, and in her mind, she sees a great wall of glass, bounded with cold steel and iron. Through it, the stars dance. Wild lights and shining things beckon and cajole.
Why fear it? Your future, there are no limits!
Step by cautious step they advance their city, building and ordering a place beyond their grasp. Standing beside the road, the sun is warming her back as she turns it on her family. There is nothing there for her anymore. She hops to the top of a low concrete fence and follows it, singing to herself. Time here is not linear, not bounded by the same rules, and so she walks the corridors of the city also.
One great building it is, locking away the wild storms that come out of the past, the distance reaches of the place the world is fleeing from, an impassive umbrella where neither rain nor wind may penetrate. She hates it here. In front of her opens another vista. She need not ask what this is, the third side of the triangular city.
Barren dirt. Rock mountains. Empty plains. The past. Echoes of tears, remnants of dreams. Broken promises. Fears. Love. Hate. It is all here, all invisible to any but her.
The monster lurks there. The father of our people. He would devour us. Hero. Demon. Pure. Evil. We love him. We hate him. But he must never touch us.
Their words make no more sense to her now than they did then, but the thought of the great thing, she can feel its power even here and knows it is near the city—watching, watching, watching, hungry and hopeful, loving and hating—saddens her. Perhaps it is the embodiment of their souls.
She jumps from the walls and walks into the traffic. Cars brush on all sides of her. She weaves through them with deceptive ease. A dancer. Her fingers and face press to the glass inside and the residents draw away in terror. For this one moment, she is not invisible. For one moment, she is the Terror made real and deposited in their own laps. This is when they draw away, and make signs against evil. It is when she casts aside her veils and runs through the halls to the grim road.
There is a lane, grassy, soft on her bare feet, inside the walls of rushing, still traffic. Walk walk walk… RUN! Wild impulse tears through her, the trapped spirit and suppressed desire surges, casts her uncaring into the wind, pushes her. Faster, faster!
It was a storm that brought her to this city. A night cold and dark. Wind lashing, driving their horses mad. The biggest beast, a black stallion untamed, unridden, went wild. He gentled to her touch for one moment, she released him. He fled. He had not returned, and they had taken refuge in the city. Cast out as foreigners with the first ray of sunshine, it was then that her prince had caught her hand.
Stay. Stay with me. I love you. You belong here.
Was it belonging when she had to hide her face? When every moment, she feared being unmasked?
The thoughts, the cares, it all slides away from her shoulders as she runs back into the storm.
This is the moment. The stallion is running beside her now, thundering from behind her until the broad shoulders are churning next to her. Does she have the courage? The strength? To ride the power, the embodiment of chaos, of fury and passion? The heart? The desire?
This is the moment. Her body is failing. Her spirit is soaring. The storm is coming. If she takes to his back, turns him into the storm and faces her fear, the storm will break, and it will require everything she has to stay on the stallion’s back, to continue onwards. She was born for this.
This is the moment.