Work in Progress Wednesday
Heh, still trying to think of things to blog about over here, when really nothing blogworthy happens from day to day. (A fact I’m quite glad about. I know better than to want to live in interesting times.)
So, why not blog about what I’m writing? At least I should have more of that every week. And I have three works in different stages of progress at the moment, so there’s a variety to choose from.
Here we have something from today’s output on the new novella, tentatively titled “that vampire novella which, having just re-read Dracula, I’m fairly happy to say is nothing like it so far, even if it does have a hapless young man from England getting into trouble with bloodsuckers in the Balkans.” Or The Glass Floor, for short.
Seriously, how could anything spooky happen in a castle that looks like this?
In which our concussed and amnesiac linguist hero, Frank, finds his grand tour going terribly awry in 18th Century Wallachia:
"What are your names?" he asked, belatedly, as the young mother helped him into the clothes they’d brought for him – big, baggy, once-white shirt and flimsy once-white trousers. "I should know who to thank."
He put together the scrupulous care with the soap and the fact that their young people had been out scavenging in hedgerows for their food, and felt again a vague consciousness of guilt – they had so little and he was making them give it to him. "I should know who to repay."
"We are nobody." The old woman smiled again, wise and harsh. "We belong to the Vacarescu – we are his slaves. And slaves have no need of names, or payment. It is enough that we are permitted to live, and to serve."
Did she say this because she thought him some kind of spy? "I can carry no tales except of kindness," he insisted, not sure what he felt at the thought. Rejected? Repelled? "Who would I betray you to? I have nowhere to go. I have no one to turn to. I don’t even know who I am."
"I am Constanta," the young woman handed him a rabbit to skin and gut, picked up her infant, which was fretting beside her on the ground and set it in her lap. She stripped the reeds to get at the tubers in their roots and set them boiling in another pot. "And you can be Ivan, for now. This, our mother, is Lyuba and she is married to–"
Lyuba cut her off in a flood of angry speech that made him lean in and listen to the rhythm of it, something practiced in him trying to pick out individual words, listen for repetition and patterns. She saw him doing it and snapped her mouth shut, hard, giving him the first overtly hostile look he had had from these people. But he understood it better now – he was a master stumbled defenceless among slaves. Whatever he individually had done or not done, they must look at him and see a chance to repay a very long history of grief.
"You will not be alone for long," Lyuba said sternly. "You are not a person whose death is shrugged over like a dropped pot. They will come looking for you. And when they do, you will tell the Vacarescu that we are good servants and loyal. That is all we wish or need of payment. You will not give him cause to punish us, and you will not give him our names."
"I swear it," he said, holding his hand as though it rested on a book. "I have forgotten so much, it is easy to forget this too. I won’t bring trouble to you. I swear it."