Tuesday, June 22, 2021

short story - The One Hundred (philosophy)

The One Hundred  by Marie Lamb

"Out of the One Hundred, broken on the way down." This was scratched laboriously into the side of the mountain we passed today. We all paused, and read it, and looked from one to the other to see if anyone understood. I looked up at our goal, the peak, dizzyingly high, and wondered: 'What was broken? Or, who?'

How did they fall?

Were we climbing the Mountain, only to fall ourselves?

My guide was not enthusiastic about telling me. He doesn't like questions, he says. He just likes the Traveler's to follow along. The road has become so full of ruin and sharp edges that he seems to spend most of his time dealing with it by knives. It was not that there was nowhere else to go, but that we were drawn by something so strongly that we could go nowhere else.

Even so, it is not a wonder to me that there are so few of us who come these day. The ones I stand among are thin and weary in the eyes, but still they look at the Mountain. One must feed up on hope, even when it is doled out in only small spoonfuls. We are all thirsting for the water, and hungry in our souls. And we feel the pull of the Mountain in our blood, calling us.

I fear to ask more while he hacks away at the path. Perhaps our guide was one of the One Hundred, or that he knew one of them. I tread a little more carefully, not to step upon his grief. But still, I wonder how we will not relive the trials of the past if we sit in ignorance of them. We walk along the same paths, and look for the bones, but refuse to speak of them.

We reach the door in the Mountain, and our guide opens it up with a twist of the flywheel. It cranks slowly, on what sound like ropes and not chains. Within the doors the market is bustling and the world is different and full of life. I see the eyes of my fellow Travelers light up with wonder and disbelief.

We look for projectors and speakers, and try to reach out and touch the fruit. But we are pushed forward, our hands batted away. We have come through but are told our journey is not yet over. Instead we are pointed to the Hill, up a set of clean white stairs. We huddle together, our hope held on strings, and begin to pull our ragged bodies up one bit at a time. It is only as a group, with hands together and much strain, that we finally reach the top.

And for the first time, since I began walking, I am counting. I did not count on the trail, or as we entered the gate. I saw and felt only a sea of dead eyes and misery and strife, keeping my sights on the trail and begrudging that there were not enough answers.

Now I see. As the last small child has been pulled up on the top stair we stand together. We are the One Hundred, for this time and place, as was written. We were broken on the way down. And now we have come up.

Monday, June 21, 2021

short story Final Dispatch - two bits

 this is the unedited story - it may undergo a few edits before it is done.  It will be part of the House of Sunlight anthology, c. Marie Lamb.

Final Dispatch, Two Bits

Friday, June 04, 2021

short story Shadows in the Lens

 It began several years ago, the white shadows. I would see them, walking across the room - from here to there, every day, the same ones, shadows of a past gone by. I began to realize, the older the place, the more populated it had been, the greater the number of shadows. In some places, they were stacked on each other so deep it was like looking through a London Fog. 

For example, the airport. The first time I had to go through O'Hare to get to a plane they thought I was having a panic attack. I don't know how I made it through - mostly by following the feet of the people in front of me. When they called our plane, I knew the number, and it was only by luck and chance that the man and woman who jumped up and began to run for the other gate were really going the same place I was. The plane was not old, but while it was on the ground the shadows continued to walk through, around, and up and down. When we left into the air, things cleared. When we landed, I was so glad to have someone there to pick me up and take me home. 

Now, I actually have to employ someone to walk me through the crowded places. I bring a cane, and dark glasses. Sometimes they are in the know, and sometimes they really think that my panic attacks render me blind. But mostly, I try to find the quiet places - the out of the way places, where few have come before. It isn't an easy life, trying to photograph the beauty through what is invisible to most - to see only through my camera lens that which, when I view it with the naked eye, is nearly obscured. 


I guess that is why I have thrown myself into my work so completely, and why it has shown in the sheer number of awards that I have now raked in. 'Most Remote Photograph of the Year', yes - that's me. 'To Go where None have Gone Before', yes, I'd love to. For someone who once was so entranced by history, by the bright lights, the stages and the exuberance of life, now I seek solace, vast empty spaces and the quiet of the midnight and dawning hours in the places where most would have been asleep and dreaming. 

 Perhaps I am dreaming all of this. It is hard to prove that Mr. Alistair came down these stairs one night at two a.m., and yet, I see him - just once - carrying the lantern. It is hard to know or investigate who the little girl is running up the mountain path, on this farm that has been abandoned for a hundred years - or that she also sits on the beach down there by the rocks, huddled against some storm that no one remembers. 

Perhaps one day I will wake up and there will be no fog in the social places, no strange things to catch the corner of my eye when a reporter is asking their questions on the phone, no mysteries that I really do not wish to solve. 

Tomorrow I will take these bandages off and we will see if the surgery has made any difference at all. I am ready to wake up from this dream into a new day. But if I stop seeing the past, what will I do with my future? If I see nothing at all, will I have a future? If I start seeing the future, will it be black or blindingly white? //fiction -- first draft, thoughts floating through my mind today

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

A two story square house - start to finish in Minecraft

 I started this with a face 9 squares wide, and then went back for a total of 9 x 11.  So, no, it's not entirely square.  But, it has a very cool roof style that I didn't find easy, but might definitely try again.  I also really like the way the interior turned out.

I started out with a standard stairstep face, and repeated it on the opposite side.  Then in each corner I added an upper facing that began at three blocks high on top of the 'normal'; wall height of the bottom story.

I filled in windows in both upper facings and then began to resolve the roof, which is always the hardest part, to make it look 'natural' and not have holes in corners etc.

It took a couple of tries to get the bottom corners working properly, and a structure inside as well (shown below) to fill in the gaps properly

And then I could make the glass and door and torches and begin to work on the interior rooms.

now it is ready for beds, rugs, banners and tables and chairs.  And this is what it looks like from the outside, with what is built nearby so far.  This is my "Zayama Railway world" in 1.16.5, vanilla, survival mode (currently on peaceful).  I've still got a lot more iron to find to connect all of the stations that have been made, including a big seaside one to the North (you'll see that listed as Windgrass in an upcoming post).  But I thought I'd play with some interesting houses while waiting for other things the past few days.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Resolving a Four-Way roof on a Minecraft House


 Often I just make the bottom half of a building and then 'run with it' and try to resolve the roof.  Since I made the side wall areas of this building on the second story seven wide instead of five, there was a height difference to make up for if the stairsteps were going to meet up evenly and not have gaps.

My husband came and looked at the screen halfway through (I was complaining it was being a pain, and I should have screnshot it then) and said something like h*** No and went back to his own project.  

I ended up using cobblestone walls to make the edge points match up to the ground and give some stability to the side roofs (if they were real)   I really like the way it turned out, and will make a few more buildings in this area to connect up to the local bridges and road crossroad here.

and for a kicker - here is the interior (undecorated) version of the house, as well.  It has two rooms on the main floor and one upstairs room.

The back room is perfect for a kitchen area, and has another door out, as well.  Upstairs there are room for a double bed or two or three singles, and chests.  This room also leads down into the mineshaft below the town.

Location : near Milliken in the Zayama Railway World, which doesn't have a story, I'm just sort of doing it for the joy of mapping and building.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

What I liked about Empire mode Minecraft (my own creation way to play)

the Great Map at Cod Bay in the McElvaney Enterprises world, circa year 69
  the Great Map at Cod Bay in the McElvaney Enterprises world, circa year 69

 What I liked about 'Empire Mode' Minecraft, the way I described earlier in this blog about how to play Minecraft in a story mode, world expanding way with imaginary characters and nations, etc...

1.)  When I found a resource it wasn't 'just done'... it was new for that area and expanded with neighbors and used at that place.  I wasn't shuffling it aimlessly along where I needed - I was _trading_ it, and making that area self-sufficient later in it, if possible.

2.) By making the families and housing matter, I paid more attention to the interior rooms and possessions of each person,  putting up signs, giving each family their own inventory and their own farms etc... some of the communities pooled some things, and some of the families helped one another in alliances and marriages and so forth.  I made 'imaginary expeditions' for different groups of friends or relatives  it felt like a much more natural expansion of the world, and it felt more like a 'real world' to walk around in.  Things had names, people had been places, history had been made etc.. and each town developed it's own 'unique' look based on what materials were available, although it was never cookie-cutter - there was always differences, too - because bigger families needed bigger houses etc etc.. it kept it very interesting.

 3.)  The mapping.  I love the mapping with a passion.  And the world as it developed made the map have meaning.. and the changes over time as the world became more and more full, and yet expanding at the edges... 

What I didn't like...

Well, it is a little silly like playing dolls, in a way, imaginary dolls that you don't even really see - but hey, writing any story is sort of the same thing with characters?  

The need to make 'conflicts' to move the story along, to give people reasons to do things that weren't all sunshine and roses.  The sickness at Rosered, for example - although that evolved so naturally it felt right.  The war with Kriganzy, though, that was getting to be 'any minute now' and I was trying to focus on the rediscovery of the reason behind the Great Earthquake and North City... and I felt the two were conflicting..

A friend offered to help, but didn't follow through.  But - now some of the 'promised story elements' were entirely hers, and I didn't feel I owned them well enough to do them justice in finishing the story.  I might have to just go back and cut those out now, because Tanji Vandreas really deserves his moment to shine in the next part of the story - and 've been mulling it over for a while now about the 'Great Saga unfinished'...