Dredgery – The Boogeytax

The Boogeytax – Indepentional

The Boogeytax is one of my favourites among my own work. While I find commentary on society or the human condition interesting in stories, it is not something I intend to make a big deal out of in my own writing. Boogeytax is probably the closest I have gotten to that, as William is very much more frightened of very modern things like ‘bills’ or ‘jobs’ as opposed to physically dangerous things like wild animals or the like. Wolves also generally don’t arrive via mailbox.

The idea of ‘the boogeyman’, a creature of nightly terrors mostly considered for children, to be a form-shifting creature is a mixed inspiration; If you have read or watched Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K.Rowling, the boogeyman from Boogeytax is very similar to the ‘Boggart’ they examine in their Dark Arts-classes. It is a creature that changes shape to fit the fears of whomever can see it.The other part, which Boogeytax does not really get into, are the ‘Boogeymen’ from a role-playing campaign I was in charge of. The boogeymen there were black-furred creatures with round white eyes, their race having no common form among them. When the titular boogeyman of Boogeytax is without a victim, that’s how I imagined it; a black-furred amorphous creature with large, round all-white eyes, staring out of closets or ajar doorways at unsuspecting victims.

Advertisements

A Brief Liaison – Indepentional

The bus ride was becoming agonisingly long. The bright lights of the city at night flashed by the windows largely unnoticed by the man and woman in the very rear of the vehicle. They had brought a car to the party, but they’d had enough to drink that a friend stopped them from using the car. At least he’d paid for the bus fare. So they sat in the back together, kissing ravenously, ignoring the uncomfortable cushioning and flickering lighting.

“Parakeet Street!” The driver yelled from the front. They were just aware enough to hear, so they stumbled out of the bus onto the pavement just as the doors hissed shut behind them. Still, they waved at the departing bus like they were seeing off a good friend, then embraced again. “It’s just this way, come on.” She said, pointing down one of the many side-streets branching off from Parakeet Street. As they began the trek towards their final destination they kept close against the evening chill. Kissing while walking was awkward but they managed. Their eyes were only for each other and the pavement immediately in front of them, so before they knew it they had arrived at the apartment block, the large concrete box broken up in a few places by people still at home briefly after midnight. “Gimme a second,” she said, wriggling out between his arms, “I need to open the door.”

A key was produced and the door was opened. Motioning for silence, she led her partner up through the dark stairwell, both of them giggling all the while. The light was supposed to turn on when the door opened, but they could see well enough, so whatever. Up and up they went until they’d reached the 4th floor. They both made a point examining the name-plate on the door, even though they both knew what it’d say without needing to even glance at it. She reached into her pocket for the key.

“Eh,” She said, her hand coming up empty, “I must’ve lost it.” After a brief moment they both laughed, trying to contain the noise with their hands. “Oh well, it’s in the stairwell. We used it when we entered.” So they went back down, using phones as flash-lights until the key glared back at them from where it had been dropped on a step. Key found and firmly in hand, it did not take long to unlock the door into the apartment. Stumbling inside, they embraced again, fumbling on the plaster walls for the light-switch. Coats were clumsily removed and unceremoniously dumped on the floor. She broke away briefly, “So what should we do now?” She asked giggling. Not waiting for an answer, she opened the bedroom door and went inside, her partner following eagerly. But just as his arms reached around her again, she put a finger on his lips, motioning to speak. “Ssh now, the page is almost out.”

Dredgery – The Quelling War

Dota – The Quelling War

For those unfamiliar with Dota, it is an online multiplayer game about, among other things, a war between 2 ancient creatures. Each team consists of 5 people playing a character with a selection of abilities. Simply put, each team attempts to breach the enemy base and destroy the Ancient at its core. Now, this game has quite a thriving competitive scene. The biggest of the Dota tournaments, the International, had a prize pool of 20 million dollars in 2016. Part of how the company funds this prize pool is through sales of a compendium you can buy in Dota, with a series of rewards and challenges for the community. The very first of the Community Challenges in 2016 was cutting down trees in the game map. Quite a lot of trees. 20 billion trees, in fact. The Dota community is by no means small, but compared to the task at hand, it might not be sufficient.

Enter the YouTube Dota content creator and commentator SirActionSlacks – CALL OF THE C.U.T. CORPS

The video is what gave me the idea for the story that simply showcases part of a day in this ‘war’. As the actual Community Challenge never really mentioned WHY we are cutting down all these trees, the story also gives little reason as to why this is necessary.

Dredgery – Security Drone

Security Drone – Indepentional

One thing I love about alternative worlds is imagining the world and events around the story that it itself doesn’t cover or only touches in parts.

Security Drone is my little piece of fanfiction for the Massively Multiplayer Online RolePlaying Game “The Secret World”. In TSW you play immortal, and as such eminently disposable, agents of various secret organisations trying to protect their interests, and also Earth, against supernatural threats. You are very much a Warrior Drone in the grand Beehive that is Earth in TSW, with your powers being represented by bees and sounds of buzzing. Nuggets of lore are spread throughout the game zones, shown as chunks of honeycomb, followed by the line “Our wisdom flows so sweet. Taste and see.”. Nowhere in the actual text of the story is “The Secret World” or their organisations mentioned, so initially I wanted to see how many caught on to its relation to the game.

So Security Drone was inspired by a mix of this bee-symbology and the dirty bombing of Tokyo in the story. Each of the notable persons in the queue represent one of the 3 major playable organisations in the game; The asian man represents the Dragons, a faction that plays off the other two to use the resulting chaos for their own plans. The elderly man with the storm-beard is with the Templars, that are pretty much what they sound like. The woman you spend most of the story with is aligned with the Illuminati based out of New York. Again, pretty much what it says on the tin.

One issue I had with this story was that it had been some 6+ years since last I had travelled with an airplane, so my memories of airport security checks were somewhat hazy. Luckily I went on a trip by plane to Italy with the family around the time I was writing it, which helped immensely. The plane’s destination is a nod to the lore of the game, where Tokyo is bombed a short time before the game opens, an event that opens the gates even further to all kinds of supernatural creatures, some of which are unfamiliar even to a world that has vampires, werewolves and poltergeists on the regular.

Dredgery – Unwelcome

Unwelcome – Indepentional

Unwelcome is a story that I thought off after being exposed to a variety of different post-apocalyptic fiction settings, Fallout and Warhammer 40K among them. Whatever form this apocalypse took, both its form and the world that came before has largely faded from public memory. Only the idea that the world Outside is dangerous and should be left alone.

Coming up with names for the characters of Unwelcome was a good chuckle. Gremli and Organaisa are probably the most obvious ones; Gremli is a bit of a troublemaker, so she is a “Gremlin”. Organaisa is one of the few who remembers the world before, whether through scant few years of personal experience or tales delivered down through the Elders of the the tribe. Being one of the Eldest, he can’t do too much physical work anymore, so he is an “Organiser”. Wida is a bit of a cruel one I suppose, being a comment on her good physical healthy and sturdy frame, that she is “Wide”. Finally, the group Gremli is part of, the Youngs. The story doesn’t mention it nor is it shaped by it, but Unwelcome takes place somewhere in Germany. So ‘Youngs’ is another word-change from “Jungs” which means guys or boys. That the group contains no small amount of girls is simply because they don’t know any better.

Dredgery – Collage

Collage – Indepentional

Collage, along with Baggage which I will cover later, is an attempt at more slow-burning horror. It was inspired by a combination of remembering the basement of my old family home and an old mousepad I had, as silly as that sounds. It was an old present, a pair of mousepads printed with a picture of me and my dad on a vacation. A good present that I got a lot of use out of. But they both had a tendency for the wear and tear to show up on on my face, the black underside of the mousepad slowly replacing my features. It didn’t exactly keep me up at night, but it was a little unnerving at times.

But enough about that. As said earlier, Collage was meant to be a slow burner. So I tried to extend the scenes of Blake looking at the collages as much as I felt reasonable. For this I also had to describe characters you never ever meet in a fair amount of detail, from their appearance to their hobbies and achievements. The idea behind Mr Wilkinson was that he targets people that either have achieved something or someone that he believes will in the near future. As the main character, Blake is, of course, the next target. As shown in the final scene.

Dredgery – Branch Quest

Branch Quest – Indepentional

 

I wrote Branch Quest as a horror story, but like so many other of my horror stories, the build-up isn’t really there and it ends too soon. It was inspired by the oak tree outside of my own childhood home ( Cookbook Overload – Our House ). During early summer, before they were pruned back, the branches of the big oak tree outside our house would stretch around the front to tap at the windows of my room. Though even the heaviest storm never managed to smash my window in.

Early on Seymour comments on the house becoming ‘stranger and stranger’ as the day goes on, but this is never really expanded upon. Instead, just as the children have their game set up and ready, they are rudely interrupted by the breaking of glass as the branches of the ‘tree’ smash the window.

I suppose Branch Quest might’ve worked better as a pilot or intro for a longer series of stories told in the Cobbler household, the family trying to lead a normal life in a house that constantly throws paranormal curveballs at you. That would also explain why Jon never seems worried about the sudden tree outside his window nor the fact that his own mother is telling them to hurry out of the house. Without any context from other stories, I guess it makes Jon seem a bit forgetful.