The Graveyard of Lost WIPs meme -- snippets of a couple of the millions of never-to-be-finished WIPs lying strewn all over my hard drive.
1. Eroica/ Papuwa/ Facade crossover
Bogged down because I don't know Languedoc and Sergei does. Also plot. Also the need to convey information amusingly and the inability to do so.
Dorian disembarked moodily from the Barcelona train into the crowded station at Toulouse. Spain had not been kind to him. That newly discovered Madonna from the 16th century that had promised so much and looked so enticing in the Times' art pages-- ugly, garish, crude when seen in the light of day. What had the Times' editor been thinking of, doctoring the photo in that unconscionable fashion? Dorian was definitely going to write and complain. He threaded his way among the scurrying crowds in distinct ill-temper. And the men of northern Spain- appalling, the lot of them. His mind had pictured dark-haired dark-eyed charmers with high cheekbones and aristocratic noses. And instead he'd been surrounded by pasty lumpy overfed oafs with pale blue eyes and unhealthy white skin. Doughboys, Dorian thought in disgust and misery. The whole experience had left him weary and depressed. The promise of beauty, the promise of mystery- all gone up in smoke.
He emerged from the station and blinked in the strong sun of the Languedoc. In the centre of the street a broad island of shady trees promised coolness and relief. He slipped through the traffic and found himself in welcoming obscurity. A market of sorts was in progress- a flea market, evidently. Two long lines of tables faced each other along the length of the allée, and a moderate crowd of idlers poked about amongst the variegated junk. It was junk, that he could see at a glance, but amusing in its way-- all the flotsam and jetsam of long ago lives washed up together in one place. Pearl-handled fruit knives in a box lined with faded blue velvet, an obsidian jar that had once held some strong perfume, a large Chinese jardinière made for the mass market early in the century, a stack of ancient photograph albums with thick gilt-edged pages, a tiny third-rate netsuke of what appeared to be a drunken old man, a pair of women's shoes with sateen roses on them... Dorian passed on and came to a stall of second hand books.
Fiction, largely, and travel books, and history, but- oh! there was that classic edition of the Belles Heures of Jean du Barry in its red slipcover case, a foot or so down the table. With, naturally, a browser deep in a book right in front of it.
"Excuse me, Monsieur," Dorian began, and stopped in surprised delight as Sergei looked up, startled, from his book.
"Lord Gloria!" Sergei said, a smile beginning. That familiar smile, warm and welcoming, with the little edge of irony in it. Dorian's spirits rose abruptly.
"Sergei, how wonderful. God loves me after all, sending you here to meet me."
"The Major's being unkind again?"
"The Major's in Bonn still, where I hear it's 14 degrees and raining, and serve him right. Exactly his kind of weather. No, I went south to- ah, pursue a certain beauty--" Sergei gave him a sardonic look, "--who wasn't beautiful at all, in the event. An utter waste. But now I've met you--" He stopped. "Oh dear. I should have asked if you were alone."
"Alone, and on business."
"Oh." Dorian looked wistful. "Do you ever mix business and pleasure?"
"Always. Are you here for long?"
"I was going to catch the 2:15, but tomorrow will do as well. You?"
"I have to be in Foix this evening, but before that..."
"Wonderful. Shall we have some lunch? I haven't eaten today at all. Do you know what the Spanish give you for breakfast? Doughnuts. Deep-fried and covered in powdered sugar." He shuddered. "Pauvre petit. Come and have a cotelet then, and some wine."
2. Original ghost story
Based on my experiences in Tokyo, involving too much of RL and and expats' patois, and hinging on a grammar point in Japanese I wasn't sure of.
"There's a dyke weekend up at the women's centre on the fifth," Lisa said.
"I'm going. You coming?"
"Suzanne will be there."
"Probably." She sounded unconcerned. Fine for her.
"I don't want to be on the same continent as Suzanne, let alone the same freezing building in damned freezing Saitama in damned freezing February."
"The centre's heated."
"You're going to have to stop avoiding her sometime, Jane. She's part of the community--"
I said something about which part. Lisa didn't like it. Fine for her.
"I'm going anyway," she said, and it was an ultimatum.
"Fine. I'll go too." And have a sour stomach all weekend. Damn damn damn.
I don't like Suzanne. Suzanne is a human Chernobyl. She poisons any place she's in. No one seems to see this but me.
She landed in Tokyo about six months back with her girlfriend and two large backpacks. Within two days she'd found a teaching job. Blonde, blue-eyed, genki, cheerful-- she was a shoo-in. The Japanese wouldn't have cared if she couldn't count to ten: she looked like an English teacher. Within three days she'd found Amanda's ad in the Tokyo Times and turned up at a dyke potluck, girlfriend in tow. Within three and a half she'd started an affair with one of the other women and gone off to her place for the rest of the weekend. The girlfriend- I can't even remember her name now- was traumatized. I was the one who got to pat her hand and say There there, of course. First time of many. Suzanne was the big love of her life. She'd left her old girlfriend for her a month back and been talked into coming to Japan, big adventure and let's get rich, and now here she was, wham, not even over her jetlag and dumped flat. Zama mirou, I thought after hearing all the details- serve you right, lady; but I didn't say it.
3. Kaiei at the Southern Ocean
Too complicated, for reasons that become apparent in this snippet. Kaiei has to learn the bits of the puzzle from various people and I could never figure out who he learns the bits from how. Also of course that I just wasn't interested any more.
In his own apartments the servants prepared him for the bath. Kaiei was silent in thought while his old bathman washed him down, but when the massage began he spoke.
"Grandfather, I am summoned to the southern ocean for the next five months. My uncle is uneasy about my cousin's state of mind and wishes me to see what, if anything, may be the matter. As I recall, his house is less informal than this one; I have the impression that servants do not speak so much with their masters there.">
"That is true, lord. The Red Dragon is not as easy-going as your lord father. One must keep a still mouth there before one's betters."
"And among one's equals, how does it go?"
"Why, men gossip all the more among themselves, I would say. That is only natural."
"Indeed. And so the bathmen there will talk freely with you?"
"If I know them from before, certainly. The newer ones- well, the Red Dragon is particular about who enters his household. I find his underservants to be prudent and well-behaved young men."
"Ahh. That may be a problem; my cousin too is prudent and well-behaved and not likely to confide in me. It is his servants who will know most of how matters stand, and I will need them should my own observations tell me nothing."
"If youth is what's required, one of your Highness' own junior servants will do, surely?"
"No doubt. But which? Chamber servants tend always to be on their dignity with bathmen, and gran'fers on their dignity with everyone. Yet it is still the bathmen who know most of how it goes in a house, for hot water is a great loosener of tongues."
"But I know nothing of Kaishou's household nor that of his Older."
"Mhh, well. Given Kaishou-sama's youth, his nearest servants are probably the older men who came with him from the Western Ocean. They may still be as outsiders to the men of the Red Dragon's household."
"But they will remember you from before. Good. You will accompany me to the Southern Ocean then. As for Shinran-dono's servants..."
"He is the son of the Duke of the Eastern Maelstrom, I believe? That family bears itself proud. He will have brought his own servants and bathmen, and they too will be on their dignity."
"Yet they might be pleased to converse with one of my chamber servants if he were easy and open enough."
"Alas, your Highness' servants as well are prudent and well-behaved young men," his bathman observed wryly. "At least, *I* have seen no rattletraps amongst them."
"Oh, I can think of at least one," Kaiei said in satisfaction. "I shall take Shasai then. People will talk to a face like his and he will talk to me. Indeed, I shall be hard put to stop him."
4. 100 Demons genfic
Too complicated again. Plot. I hate plot.
It was taking a long time. I suppose these things do. We're not practising Buddhists at home- we rarely even visit the cemetary where my mother's family's buried- so I wouldn't know. But it felt like we'd all been standing there for hours while the incense burned and made my nose itch and the priest's loud voice droned like a saw. He had a sour look to him as if the world outside his monastery disgusted him. Or maybe he just didn't like university students. Who knows?
"Who is this guy anyway?" I whispered to Motoya.
"Chief priest at Enshouji," he whispered back. "Supposed to be good. Hirose got him here."
I snorted. "Hirose knows a lot of temple people."
"She'd better," he said meaningly. Hirose's cousin- Iijima- turned his head in our direction, though I'm sure he couldn't have heard us with the chanting and bell-striking and all. He gave us one of those expressionless looks of his, the way he does, like he's looking through you at something standing at your back. That kid's weird: he gives me the creeps. I really wish he hadn't joined our department. Now, Hirose ought to weird me out too because, no denying it, she's kind of psychic. Sees things and all. But her I can feel sorry for. Nasty stuff keep happening to her that isn't her fault at all, and somehow she manages to be sunny and cheerful in spite of it.
Like this ceremony we were having for the rest of departed souls, exorcising the bad vibes from the storage closet in the department research room. Yeah, storage closet. It's not a nice place to begin with- no windows, full of mold, dark and smelly. And then- well, there was this dead body some nutcase stashed there, and Hirose found it, and so---
Yeah, well. So after all that went down naturally we kept the room closed up. But we don't have much space at the best of times, with a growing collection and more books than we have bookcases. So the higher ups decided to exorcise the store room and start using it for, well, storage. And now here we all were, the faculty and students of the Folklore Department, waiting for this monk to dispel the yucky feelings and turn our closet back into a closet again.
And the chanting and bell striking went on and on and at last it was over. Our head was thanking Reverend Cranky-pants and we all bowed or bobbed as he went past and then we were free to go. Somehow I found myself next to Iijima as we were pushing through the doorway out into the corridor.
"Not going to work, is it?" he said to me, and then he was past me. I really do *not* like that kid.