10 weeks, 5 authors, 1 story. In To Be Continued… I asked 5 authors (self-published and traditionally published alike) to write a story together based on my prompts, without knowing about each other. They each had 2 weeks to write their part before I forwarded it to the next person to continue. Each part is somewhere between 500 – 1000 words long. So, are you ready to continue the story?
Foreword by me
Back in december I started to brainstorm how to celebrate the upcoming 2nd anniversary of the blog, which falls on March 17th. The reason I start posting this now is that 1) these awesome auhtors finished the story a week early and 2) March 10th is the day I registered my domain. Apparently it took me a week to set it up and have my first post and that’s the date I officially name as my blog birthday.
So, I reached out to some authors with this idea, and almost everyone got on board right away. I’ve got excited and set the events off with these prompts:
- I wanted the story to be ambout music
- I wanted a certain species to be featured (I don’t want to spoiler this, you’ll see)
Toward the end of every second week I was waiting excitedly like a kid at Christmas morning to finally get the next part so I could find out how the story is going. This project is really close to my heart and I enjoyed every moment of it, even if sometimes it was sooo hard to keep it all to myself. I’m really grateful to everyone who took part in this and the fact that they were so into it! I absolutely love how The New Sound turned out and I can’t wait for you to read it as well! Without further ado, I’ll shift the spotlight from myself to the person, who will start us on our journey:
Tyler is a science fiction and fantasy writer from Northern California, and a Social Justice Bard specializing in the College of Comfort. He writes stories he hopes will show people that not only are they not alone in this terrifying world, but we might just make things better. His fiction has appeared online in Anotherealm, Nossa Morte, andThe Edge of Propinquity, and in print in anthologies from Alliteration Ink, Graveside Tales, and Aetherwatch. Tyler’s debut novel, The Imaginary Corpse, is coming from Angry Robot Books on September 10th, 2019.
The New Sound – Part 1
As always, there was a storm of noise in the moment Faye banished the discord, but louder than all of them to her ear was the sound of the ocarina shattering.
She’d had to climb almost to the peak of her mountain to get near the discord, an exhausting ascent even on her best day. The rain that day was driving and constant, turning even the flattest points that would support her bulk thick with the stuff. The discord had been the biggest she’d ever seen, a snake of smoke and sparks as tall as the mountain and as wide as the horizon. And the song of exorcism was the longest tune a harmonizer had to play, even without counting all the songs that had to accompany it to keep the discord calm, to keep it from seeing her, to root it in place so when she began the main piece it didn’t just dart down at her and flense her into memories. And Faye had played all of them, despite the cold air in her lungs, despite the rain soaking through her black and white fur, because that was her duty.
And the discord began to shrink, to break up, to become subsumed back into the song of the world in which those first sour notes had been sparked, as was its duty when faced with the song. And only when it was finally gone, when only the unsettled feeling and stiffened fur were left to remind her of it, Faye had relaxed the barest inch before she began the harrowing climb down…and she slipped.
It was a simple sound, not even the length of a single note: a high, hollow, brittle crack of well-baked, lacquered clay cracking along its weakest points. But in that sound she heard herself being disarmed, being depowered, and worst of all, being left alone.
Faye collapsed next to the wreckage, her muzzle quaking, her ears twitching, trying and failing to jigsaw the pieces together as though she could heal it with her paws alone. Her thoughts caromed through every reason this could have happened, and then settled on the simple, thought-melting fact: she was a harmonizer without an instrument, and that meant her path was obvious. Or was for any other harmonizer, at least. Any harmonizer that didn’t look and move like her.
Your instrument is both sword and shield, the old poems said. A harmonizer who finds themselves without an instrument is as out of place as a tuba among woodwinds, and any discord that sights them will know them for a worm caught out in the sun, easy prey. If ever this calamity should befall you, seek your conductors, and they will remedy it. This is the way our song is played.
The hall where she’d been trained was right there, the great dome at the center of the city, so close it wasn’t even out of the mountain’s shadow. She could go to her teachers, her caretakers, and she could get a new instrument from them. For a few seconds, she was relieved at the thought, at how easy it was going to be. There was no way another discord would sound in that time. And maybe Tam would be making the green curry she liked so much. Faye could warm herself, and get a new instrument, and be whole and safe again. That was how their song was played.
But she knew the verse that came after that one.
The conductors would give her the instrument, her choice from among all those sitting in the hall’s storerooms. But then would come the question: “Do you really want to return to the mountain after that?” And that would be the only question they would ask, but that wouldn’t be the only one they meant.
“Do you really think you’ll be able to keep your next instrument any better than your first one?”
“Are you sure you won’t struggle just as much with the next discord that arises in your movement?”
“Wouldn’t the mountain be safer in the hands of someone who could carry a tune with their voice in a pinch?”
“You fought so long and so hard to be given that mountain movement, aren’t you tired of trying to explain why you deserve to keep it? Wouldn’t you rather have a movement closer to where the conductors can keep an eye on you, where there’s less distance to go when your big clumsy paws inevitably break an instrument, where another harmonizer can step in when your inferior technique gets someone hurt by a few measly sour notes?”
“Why don’t you just rest for a while, and let someone else take care of it for you?”
The truth was, for a few seconds, she was relieved at that thought, too.
Faye stood up from the shards of her ocarina, her teeth bared and her soul set. No. She couldn’t go to the conductors. She couldn’t admit what she’d done, that single second that would ruin everything she’d fought for since she started training. She couldn’t let them think they were right.
But they were right about one thing – she couldn’t sing the song of banishment. Though they hadn’t always been nice about it, they were right that her voice wasn’t where her skill lay. She tried to grab her thoughts as they raced by, tried to stare at something in the city other than the hall where she’d been trained, the rundown buildings where she’d been raised, the…
The tall, disjointedly Gothic spires of the city aqueduct.
She knew where she could go.
To Be Continued…
If you’d like to get in contact with Tyler Hayes, you can find him on social media:
I strongly recommend checking The Imaginary Corpse out, which was my favourite read in 2019. You can read my review, my interview with the main character, Tippy the plush triceratops detective and get the book!