Citizen Forsaken

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Digital drawing. Center left, a humanoid figure seen from waist-up and in profile reaches out with the left arm toward a ball of light surrounded by hazy light at top right corner. The figure has six digits on their hand and an elongated ear that rises into their flowing hair and above their head. Bottom right, dark hazy shapes suggesting skyscrapers and high-rises at night. The sky appears filled with iridescent clouds. Ghostly after images of the figure appear around the figure.

When the disaster happened, or the event, or whatever it was—I still don’t know to this day—I hadn’t yet noticed how much yellow there is in the lower city. 

There’s not a lot of yellow where I come from—except for light and that’s different—but here, in the lower city, it seems to be everywhere.

Maybe I’m from here now.  After a year, maybe I’m from Los Angeles.

I’ll say that to myself, sometimes aloud as I stare at the silent, solid bathroom mirror. 

As I try to stare into the mirror.

Home used to be that close.  I stepped through a mirror and I was in Los Angeles.  And I was supposed to step through a mirror and be right back home again.

But now there’s nothing to see but my own reflection.

And home may as well be a galaxy away.

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Storyfeather Year 8

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Year Eight is finished! As always, thank you to everyone who read even a single story. Thank to you everyone who liked or commented. Thank you for your time and interest, and for being a part of Storyfeather, especially Year Eight.

This was the Year of Revisitation, in which I went back to a story I’d already written and wrote a new standalone story based on a character, object, continuation of events, or some other (sometimes flimsy) link to the earlier story.

A lot happens in the eighth year stories.  While investigating a murder, a single-celled detective is led into a world full of bacterial filaments, proto-multicellular colonies, and a new concept called “love.” The most popular wrestling show in five galaxies is somehow in danger of being shut down, but then the wrestlers—including the show’s first human—jump into action to save it. In the 400th story, six kids explore the possibility that dogs have been trying to warn humanity about a terrible enemy in their midst…the vacuum machines. And a kitchen mishap leads to the accidental invention of the most powerful ice cream in the world.

I did something new and made a year-end trailer for The Year of Revisitation. It’s posted here, and it’ll be on the Trailers page for a few weeks.

Music: “Space Discoveries” by Andrew Sitkov

I’ve written over 400 stories now, and produced over 200 podcast episodes. And yes, I do feel mighty. I do wonder if I’m repeating myself sometimes (I probably am, but maybe it’s okay if it turns out to be fun). It was more challenging than I expected to revisit older stories. Part of the challenge was that when I first started writing, I often added too many elements to a story. I still sometimes do that, but I believe I’ve gotten better at recognizing and streamlining. There were times when I wanted to revisit a previous story, or some element from the story, but in a longer work. Perhaps, in the future…

This year, I launched a few new features in the hopes of making it easier and more fun to navigate through all those hundreds of stories, and find the ones you’re most likely to enjoy.

  • Trailers page: The trailers for the most recent stories and podcast episodes, and links to older trailers.
  • Portals page: Buttons with images and taglines for recent stories. The buttons (portals) lead to the introductory pages for each story, which contain the trailer and more information. My hope is that I can add to these introductory pages in the future (more trailers, behind-the-scenes info, etc.).
  • You can also listen to the three most recent podcast episodes from either the Trailers or the Portals pages.
  • Hub pages for the current story year and podcast season, to make it easier to scroll through and read the titles and taglines of the stories, and either go directly to the story, or go visit the introductory page.

    In case you didn’t know about all these pages, or just haven’t checked them out, the buttons are at the bottom of this post. I also ran a couple of showcase campaigns to highlight stories that shared a theme. I plan to continue this effort with more navigation tools in the next year. So if anyone has any suggestions or other feedback, please feel free to reach out.

Expanding beyond this site, I also launched a new online course to help anyone who wants to write short fiction, and I’ll soon be launching a new online store with merchandise that features artwork from the Storyfeather stories.

All of these new things are exciting (sometimes grueling) but the stories are still the core of this endeavor.

Storytelling is still my true love, still my destiny, still my path.  Stories have been my hope and my haven all my life. First, the stories of others, and then my own stories as well. This year, stories and storytelling have also been my anchor.

Year Nine is coming.  The Wheel of Fiction. The theme is a continuation of Year Eight’s theme, but with a twist (pun intended). Season Five of the podcast is coming soon. The journey continues! I hope you’ll come along.

I have stories to tell you.
Nila


Portal Button. Elongated rectangle with rings of colored light emanating from the center. Text appears over the rings, reading "Storyfeather Year 8" and below it in larger font, "Revisitation."
Portal Button. Elongated rectangle with rings of colored light emanating from the center. Text appears over the rings, reading "Storyfeather Year 4" and below it in larger font, "Creatures."

[Summarized Video Description: Trailer. Duration, 96 seconds. Music: “Space Discoveries” by Andrew Sitkov. Title card with the Storyfeather main logo and “Year 8” and the story title are displayed in front of the image from the story “The Union of the Spyglass.”  The logo and title card fade. A watermark of the word “Storyfeather” appears at bottom right. Images from various other Year 8 stories appear and disappear in a series of wipes and animations. The following words appear and disappear, “Galactic! Microscopic. Hand pies! Aliens! Quests. Mischief. The 400th story” The video slows down as the image from the four hundredth story appears, “Attack of the Vacuum Machine Army.”  More images and words appear and disappear, “Dreams. Visions. Other Realms. Horror. Magic. Myth.” The video slows again as the final image appears. The watermark fades as the logo reappears at center, and above it, the words “The Year of Revisitation.”]

One Wicked Warlock

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Digital drawing. At center, the shadows of two figures cast against a stone wall. The figure at left is reeling backwards, arms outstretched, left leg raised and bent, chest pierced with a long spiraling horn, neck entwined with a segmented whip-like tail ending in a stinger. The figure at right stands upright, face in profile, right arm outstretched, holding a vial out above the first figure’s face. The vial is filled with a glowing substance. A green glow appears at bottom right. The left and right frames of the image depict the faint outlines of brickwork.

There is a tall tower to the north.  It is made of stone that looks a common gray from afar.  But I have been close enough to see the stone shift hues, to glitter with the gilded veins of an otherworldly ore, to fade into a pale so utmost as to be nigh invisible.

A warlock once lived there, it is said.  Now the tower is abandoned.

But that does not mean is it safe.

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The Infernal Bargain House

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Digital drawing. An oak tree at center whose six visible main branches spread in all directions, some dragging on the ground, some reaching upward, some reaching outward.  Diffuse patches of green in the background suggest leaves sprouting from the thinner branches.  A thin dark haze lays along the ground. A vaguely humanoid shadow floats beside the tree.

A gray shape darted past me to my right.  I turned to the ragged bushes entangled with dried weeds.  One of the stems shuddered and I heard a rustling.  But the overgrowth was too thick for me to see what was moving around in there.  Back home—my previous home—I would have guessed it was a lizard.  But here, in my new home, it could have been a rabbit.  A wild rabbit.

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Didymedicus

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Digital Drawing. Two human figures wearing heavy coats. Bottom right, an older woman facing forward and smiling. She holds a rod of Asclepius in front of her with both hands. Behind her and to the viewer’s left, a young man holding a caduceus in his right hand, and flourishing his left hand up. His head is turned toward his left hand. They are surrounded by glowing colored lights.

The royal physician, Galena by name, examined the festering bruise just below the king’s ribcage.  The king lay in a sleeping stupor.  A state he had been in for three days, and yet it was only now, and only by order of the queen that the royal physician was allowed to examine her king. 

Galena peered down at the bruise, around the margins of which there appeared an oozing of bright purple fluid.

“I had thought him a fool, but a harmless one,” the queen said.

Galena did not look up as she answered.  “Is there such a thing?”

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The Eye in My Ceiling

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Digital drawing. Central figure, a woman, her top half, seen from below at an angle. She’s facing away standing in a room where the ceiling and parts of two walls intersect at her left, around waist level. The woman wears pants and a t-shirt and her hair in a ponytail. She holds a carving knife in her right hand, held down and behind herself. Her left hand reaches up towards a huge eye in the ceiling. Most of the iris and a small portion of the whites are visible.

I thought it was a reflection at first.  Not the moon.  Some streetlight or something, from outside, getting past my curtains.  I was too lazy, too sleepy to get up and deal with it.  But I do remember thinking it was strange. 

Isn’t the light too bright to be a reflection?  I thought, peeking up at the ceiling.

I do remember resisting the urge to rub my eyes.  I wanted to take a closer look.

Did I just see something floating in the light? 

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Note From A Triceratops

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Digital drawing. The fossil of a triceratops, seen head on from a three-quarters profile, facing left, is either etched in a sandy stone slab, or is standing in front of the slab. The slab is etched with scratches and fern leaf stems.

You think you know our story.  The asteroid.  The extinction.  The line of descendants who succeeded in taking to the air in ways we never did, never could.

I stopped writing and dropped my pen.  I glanced up at the monitor that displayed a magnified image.  And shifted my gaze over to the already withering leaf mounted on the simple light microscope. 

It was my imagination.  It had to be.

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Unstable Blood

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Digital drawing. At center, figure seen from chin to mid-thigh, wearing a top with no sleeves, a shirt or blazer tied around the waist, and a watch around the left wrist. The ends of the figure’s short hair dangle just below the chin. The right hand grips the left at the elbow. The left arm dangles. Rivulets of blood trickle from a wound at the left shoulder. They trickle down the arm, but also float across the body and out from the arm. Behind the figure is a glowing background with spatters bursting out from the center.

Too much blood.  Too much blood is dripping.  He’ll smell it.  He’ll find me.

Once again, she stopped for a moment and leaned against a wall under the flashing red bulbs and the piercing alarm.  She inhaled and drew the blood back into her body through the poorly sealed gash that arced over her shoulder.  A dozen rivulets trickled up her bare arm.

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