Tag Archives: unstable future

Friday Fiction: Unstable Future Snippet

Writing 150(The Clarion Write-A-Thon fundraiser was…unsuccessful, to put it mildly. I wasn’t able to drum up any donations for the workshop and subsequently my will to follow through on writing Unstable Future plummeted. I didn’t actually write much of it at all during the write-a-thon, and to date have raised no money for Clarion.

I’m still planning to write it though — it’s an exciting world and I’m really excited about the serialized concept. Right now I’m learning Scrivener so that I can take advantage of its organizational capabilities to keep me together through the project, and once I feel I have a good handle on it Unstable Future will be the very first thing I work on there. For now, though, here’s a small bit of Chapter 1. We’re introduced to the setting and the main character here, and I wanted to make it something that folks outside of the furry fandom could pick up reasonably quickly.)

Waterford Avenue in Oleander City was named after the town’s founder, a Human named Samuel Waterford. He and a dozen-other shell-shocked families stumbled through the wilderness of Farellia after the war that had threatened to end their civilization until he arrived at a large valley nestled between ranges of hills. The land was good, the weather was temperate, and the wood was plentiful. Here is where we will settle, he decided. So he spent a fortnight sketching out plans for a small farming community and together the settlers built Oleander from their bare hands over the course of several years. The city was named after Waterford’s favorite plant, the nerium oleander. For all he knew, it was extinct, one of those things that was lost with the conflict that had consumed the known world. It was the only way he had to remember it, and it was a fitting name for the 83 survivors who now lived there. They were hardy and pretty in their own way, but each one of them were deadly poisonous if they had to be.

Over 150 years had passed since Oleander was founded, but Waterford Avenue had kept much of its ancient charm. Buildings of wood and brick lined the streets, fitted with raised porches that protected people from the dirt of the road. Each building housed one or two shops, many of which had been there since the town’s inception. Roland’s General Store, The Rose’s Thorn Restaurant, Bambarella Hardware. There were other shops that were newer, of course, but each was owned by a member of the community that was known by most of the town’s 200 residents. Oleander hadn’t grown much in the past century and a half, but many changes were evident.

The road had been paved very recently with smooth asphalt, blacker than the night sky in October. A few of the stores had replaced their old signs with ones of neon, and Shackleman’s Dive, the most popular bar in town, even fitted their storefront with a hologram. In the center of town, where Oleander’s clock tower had stood for over a century, a floating observation deck was being built on the rubble of the old structure. It was nominally a gift from the technological college that had risen to prominence in the last twenty years, but several of the long-time residents saw it as a clear message: progress is coming, and we will build it upon the bones of the past.

Many symbols of the past were still around, however, rolling slowly down the newly-paved road. A Rabbit drove a large cart down the right side of Waterford Avenue, pulled by a large workhorse. The Mare was solidly built in the manner of her wild cousins, her thick fur and tough hide revealing tremendous strength rolling underneath it as she easily brought the Rabbit and his cart behind her. The Animal sitting in the cart’s high seat was bipedal, like a Human, but looked like a leporidae in every other way. He had white fur, brown eyes, long ears and a short, spaded tail that currently flicked in annoyance as he spotted the line stretching out the front door of Roland’s General Store.

“Goddamnit,” said Abernathy Jones. He tugged on the reins of the cart in front of the nearest hitch (there weren’t that many any more; most of them had been pulled up and replaced with parking spots) and sighed as Krystal slowed quickly to a stop.
“Watch your fucking language,” the Horse said, turning her long head on her thick neck to look at him over her shoulder. “You shouldn’t be so crude in front of a lady.”

Abe quirked an ear and smiled. “I’m very sorry,” he said. “I forgot my company, and it shan’t happen again.”

“It fucking well better not.” Krystal turned to investigate the trough of water in front of her. She took one sniff at it and snorted; Abe would have guessed that it wasn’t fresh, and wouldn’t be surprised if it had algae growing in it. Gerald Port, the current owner of Roland’s General Store, couldn’t be bothered with paying attention to the ‘small’ details that were easy to take for granted. Abe would surely have to badger him into filling a fresh bucket for her when he got in.

“Just stay there, and I’ll make sure you get some fresh water and some nice oats. If I ever get to the front of the line.” Abe hopped down off of the cart, right onto the raised platform that served as a walkway between shops. A few of the Animals in line glanced his way, then turned right back to their conversations.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Krystal replied. She took a long, lazy look at the line, then stared at Abe. “It doesn’t look like you’ll be, either.”

Abe grinned at her in a way that let her know how much he hated her in that moment. She responded by snorting before finding something very interesting on the road in front of her. He walked back a ways to join the back of the line, ignoring the chatter of the Animals along the way.

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Posted by on August 2, 2013 in Furries, Writing


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Clarion Write-A-Thon 2013 is a Go!

I feel like I’m failing at the whole fundraising part of this thing because I haven’t talked it up nearly enough, but that will change starting today! As I’ve mentioned before, I’ll be participating in this year’s Clarion Write-A-Thon, where my goal is to write 25,000 words of “Unstable Future” by the time it ends on August 5th. You can help provide encouragement by sponsoring me or pledging money for a certain word count, and the money goes to the Clarion Workshop so that aspiring writers can be taught by established authors in the sci-fi/fantasy field.

Let’s start here: the Clarion Workshop is a wonderful thing where writers who are hoping to make careers writing in the sci-fi/fantasy genre can get instruction on various aspects of the craft and business of writing from established authors. Clarion’s been around since 1968, and their list of instructors are pretty impressive: John Scalzi, George RR Martin and Ellen Datlow have taught in years previous and just this year Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill and Cory Doctorow are workshopping with the latest crop of hopefuls.

It’s a tremendous opportunity for those of us in the genre to build lasting relationships with aspiring and established writers, learn about taking our writing to the next level and focus intensely on our work for six weeks with people who are just as passionate about creating as we are. I’ve got a bit of a personal stake in this, since good friend Kyell Gold is a graduate of Clarion and husband Ryan Campbell applied just this year. In a few years, I hope to apply.

Clarion isn’t free, alas. It takes money to run the workshop every year and attract the talented writers who provide instruction. Writers who are accepted to Clarion are frequently offered financial aid in order to take advantage of the opportunity, and that takes donations from people to make possible. This is where you and I come in — I work on a project that I’ve been wanting to write for quite some time, and in return for updates, story snippets and (eventual) full-blown release, you donate money to a great cause! It’s win-win, right?

“Unstable Future” is a really great universe that was created by a talented fellow named Neopuc. He’s written a 15-part short story series that you can go and read over on SoFurry, a repository for furry fiction and art. (Before you click through the link, be forewarned: while the story itself isn’t explicit, there are other parts of the site that are.) I really loved the idea of it, and wanted to play around in that sandbox for a while. So I’ve been noodling around with a set of short stories of my own, set in a different part of the world that uses the same premise.

The plan is to write 13 parts of one big story, and release them on a weekly basis to constitute a ‘season’ of fiction. It’s a model that I really love the idea of, and it seems to be something that is catching on — especially with digital platforms. My story will be available for free, once it’s ready for release, and I’ll let you know where you can find it when it’s ready. For now, though, I want to focus on writing as much as possible. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, right?

As for the story itself, if focuses on Abernathy Jones, a Rabbit farmer whose family was one of the first settlers of Oleander City. Oleander is a small town established more than a century ago, during the wild times after war precipitated the downfall of a society capable of uplifting animals to sentience, engineering them into human shapes and many, many more technological wonders. There has been an influx of science and technology firms, treasure hunters and university students since ruins of the old world were discovered sitting beneath the city, and Abe has been resistant to the change of his community from slow-paced agrarian settlement to fast-paced tech hub. When the recently discovered technology starts to inflict Oleander’s population with impossible changes, Abe must step up to become an unlikely leader in the fight to save his town.

I’ve posted small snippets featuring Abe every Friday last month, just to get my head around him. I’m quite excited to dig into this story now, and I hope you are too. If you’d like to help out the Clarion Foundation and help encourage me through the project, feel free to visit my author page and either sponsor (make a straight-up donation) or pledge (promise a donation based on word count, days written, etc). I’ll be incredibly grateful for your support, as well as the chance to help out an organization I’m really excited about.

I’ll post up my first snippet over at the Clarion homepage, and I’ll offer weekly updates and small snippets here on the blog every Friday. Hopefully we can reach the goal of $250 raised by August 3rd!

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Posted by on June 24, 2013 in Furries, Writing


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Interesting Times

Last week was fairly interesting. Over the weekend I knew almost immediately that something was wrong with me, so I told my boss I’d work from home on Monday to make sure I had everything I needed on hand; I’ve been dealing with an ongoing health issue that’s easier to manage from home. So I put in my nine hours, and by the end of it I wasn’t feeling very well. By 5 PM I felt so cold I was shivering, and by 8 PM or so I had a fever of 102. Ryan took me to the emergency room at around 9:30.

To make a long story short, it turns out I had some kind of bacterial infection and an internal problem that’s relatively easy to clear up. I was given antibiotics and sent on my way. The rest of the week was spent flushing the infection from my system and gradually getting better. I was tired most of last week, and so much of my time revolved around dealing with health stuff that I simply didn’t have much energy for anything else. So that’s why I disappeared from the blog last week, and why I’m a little late coming back this week. Hopefully the worst of my health issues are behind me for now, but I’ll try to let you know if something is happening a bit more quickly.

In the meantime, I hope it’s back to business as usual with the blog here. I’m still planning four posts a week — a general interest post, two AFI movie reviews (at least until I’ve caught up) and a bit of short fiction from a project I’m working on. I’m really hoping to sharpen my movie reviews; I love the idea of exploring these stories that are widely regarded as the best examples of American cinema and breaking down why they’ve struck such a deep chord with audiences throughout decades. And while I know appreciating art is largely a personal affair, I think there’s something in the discussion of it that helps us to understand its message a little better.

Mostly, I’m hoping to get better at reviewing because I’d like to expand the reviews to furry fiction. This is a post for another time, but I think it’s important to apply the same kind of standards inside the fandom that we do for entertainment of a broader genre. I’d like to seriously discuss the writing of our little internet community as an art form — trends that tend to pop up among and between writers, common themes in ‘modern’ furry fiction, what our writers tend to do well and where we could be better. I think that level of discussion and scrutiny could help us out, or at least make us more aware of what we want out of our writing.

Right now, though, I’d like to talk about my own writing! I’ve been posting the “Unstable Future” snippets for Friday fiction the past few weeks to get my head around two of the main characters. My ultimate goal with it is to try and launch an ‘episodic’ storytelling model, where short stories are released at the same time every week for a certain length of time. Each short story is self-contained, somewhat, but also carries a larger arc forward until that too is completed. That marks the end of a ‘season’, and depending on the response further seasons are written.

I think this is a model that could work well, and “Unstable Future” is a great story to start with. In order to try and kick-start myself into writing it, I’ve decided to make it my project for the Clarion Write-A-Thon. The Write-A-Thon is a great fundraising drive for Clarion and Clarion West, a pair of six-week workshops where aspiring genre writers are taught various aspects of the craft and business of writing from folks who’ve made it. This year some lucky folks will be taught by the likes of Neil Gaiman and Joe Hill!

However, in order to make the whole thing work and to make sure the people who deserve to be there can actually afford to be there, a little help is needed. The Write-A-Thon is a great way to do that; each writer makes a goal for the duration of the drive and posts excerpts and updates to his personal drive webpage. And his or her audience can make either flat donations of pledges based on word count. It’s a lot of fun, and a great way to meet some of the folks associated with Clarion. A lot of the people who participate are Clarion graduates!

I’ll be writing at least 25,000 words of “Unstable Future” for Clarion, and I would like your help to spur me on. I’ll be posting daily updates here on the blog, and excerps of the story at least once a week. If you would be so kind as to offer a small donation — like, say, $1.00 for every thousand words — I’d very much appreciate it. I’m setting a goal of raising $500 for Clarion this year, and I’d love to make it.

Here’s my author’s page, where you can take a look at my progress and make donations:

All right, I think that’s it for now. I have quite a lot of writing to do in order to catch up to things, and I’d better get started.

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Posted by on June 12, 2013 in Furries, Self-Reflection, Writing


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Friday Fiction: The Dinner

Writing 150(The final — and longest — bit of fiction for the Unstable Future universe so far. Next month, I’ll move on to a different setting to get a feel for those characters. Here, we have that first date for Abernathy Jones and Jonathan Quinn (name subject to change later). What I wanted to do here was really work with dialogue to establish a good feel for the characters and use Abe’s POV to establish his semi anti-social personality. 1957 words.)

The Oleander Pool Hall was not anyone’s idea of a fancy restaurant, but it was about the closest thing the town had. The front of the huge building was divided into a bar, for those pool players who wanted a pint between games, and a large sit-down area for those people who wanted a big, sloppy plate of chili cheese fries. The actual pool hall dominated the back area; you could easily hear the trash-talk of the townies and college students, and you could see the haze of tobacco smoke rolling just underneath the ceiling like mist. Still, you weren’t going to find a special that featured a 16 oz. steak and three eggs for as low a price anywhere.

Abe walked into the entrance hesitantly. He almost never came here; it was too far out of the way, and he didn’t care for the constant stream of curses and smoke that came out from the back. He wasn’t quite sure what to wear for the occasion, so he opted for something slightly dressy yet safe — a red flannel shirt and a pair of jeans that he swore fit a little looser the last time he put them on a few months ago. The Rabbit scanned the room for Jonathan, but all he saw was an incredibly overbuilt giraffe squeezed into one of the booths along the wall and a sour-looking badger pushing around an egg floating in a sea of grease. Abe checked his pocket watch. He was right on time.

Without a hostess to guide him, Abe simply sat down at a two-seater table near the window. It was furthest from the back, and offered something else to look at beyond the faux-wood paneling or the peeling carpet. He glanced around the restaurant one more time; he spotted dark silhouettes moving through the haze of low lighting and tobacco smoke in the pool hall, but none of the shapes were ones he recognized. The giraffe caught his eye and did that annoying head-nod thing that young people did instead of speaking. “Sup,” he rumbled. Abe simply smiled and shrugged. What were you supposed to say to that?

He caught Jonathan slipping through the front door just as he turned to look out of the window. The big tiger briefly filled the door frame as he squeezed in, taking off his deputy’s hat as soon as he came in. Abe’s heart sank for a moment when he saw the Tiger was in full uniform. Maybe he had misread the situation; maybe Jonathan really didn’t want anything more than a statement.

The deputy briefly loomed over a Vixen who stopped to meet him, then followed him to the table that Abe was sitting at. The Rabbit stood up and stuck out his paw, which the Tiger swallowed and shook. They both sat down, and the Vixen placed menus in front of them before they even had a chance to say more than hello.

“Good evening y’all,” she said, giving them both a toothy smile. “The special’s the catfish and corn fritters, that’s just gonna be five Credits. We got pale ale on tap, and the house special is this little microbrew that George Hunter cooked up out behind his shed. It ain’t bad, actually, but it ain’t for everyone.” She wrinkled her muzzle, and Abe suddenly knew that she must get a lot of lonely truckers falling in love with her after that move. “Can I start y’all off with a pint or somethin’? Plate of chili cheese fries?”

Abe shook his head, but Jonathan said “I’ll have a pint of that microbrew. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Hunter’s special since I’ve gotten here.”

The Vixen wagged, and her hand reached out to touch Jonathan’s shoulder. “Sure thing, hon.” She turned to look at the Rabbit. “Should I make that two?”

Abe shook his head again. “No, just water for me, thank you.”

“OK, hon. And just so you know, any dish can be made with the herbivore’s substitution. You just gotta ask for it, OK?”

“I will.” The Rabbit forced himself to smile. “Thank you.”

Now it was his turn to get the paw on the shoulder. Abe smelled the subtle perfume she used to neutralize her natural vulpine scent. “You’re welcome, honey. I’ll go get that pint for ya.” With a flounce and a swish of her tail, she was off.

Jonathan grinned wide as Abe looked at him. “That has got to be the happiest waitress I’ve ever seen.”

Abe chuckled and perked an ear. “Why wouldn’t she be? College student working her way through school. She’s got her whole life ahead of her.”

Jonathan raised an eyebrow. “Oh yeah? I…forgot this was a small town. You probably know everybody’s story around here.”

“Oh no, quite the opposite. I live so far out of town I might as well be on my own. I’ve just seen her around on the days when I come in.” Abe shrugged.

“You’re a farmer, right? Where’s your property?” The Tiger, Abe noticed, produced a small notepad and put it on the table in front of him. It looked comically undersized in his paw.

“About 15 miles northeast of the Oleander border. Don’t get much in the way of services out there; we got phones when I was a little leveret, and we just got cable TV a few years back.” The Rabbit grinned. “Electricity and indoor plumbing’s always been there, though.”

Jonathan chuckled. “I didn’t think you were that bad off. I know that folks around here are used to a…rustic way of life. That’s part of the charm, though.”

The fur on the back of Abe’s neck stood up. Bad off? Rustic? He sounded like one of those Capital animals, so used to high technology they had no idea how to live without it any more.

The Tiger must have saw something in his expression. “I really do like it here. The people are awesome, and it’s…peaceful.” He took a deep breath and rolled his shoulders. His shirt looked like it might lose a couple of buttons. “There’s just something nice about being able to see trees and stuff.”

Abe grinned broadly. “Well sure. Cities are a human invention, I’ve always said. Let ’em stay there. We’ll keep the good stuff.”

The waitress came with a glass of beer and a glass of water, and they toasted to that. She took their orders with the same bubbly, friendly tone she always had and disappeared back into the smoky haze of the pool hall. Abe wondered how long it would take for them to see her again. This place wasn’t known for its speedy service.

“So….” Jonathan said, filling the gap in conversation. “…about that altercation in the market parking lot.”

Abe’s ears drooped automatically. “Oh right, we’re here for you to get a statement.”

The Tiger shook his head, then moved his notepad to the window’s ledge. “Oh, no, don’t worry about that. That was just an excuse to get you to come here.”

Abe blinked. “Really?”

Jonathan grinned. “Really. I just thought that we had a lot of similar interests, maybe.”

The Rabbit stiffened. This was not a community that tolerated much in the way of deviant behavior. Even with the college, Abe had gotten the impression that homosexuality was not looked upon favorably. He didn’t know what would happen if word had gotten out about his interests. He could be targeted by the Claw and Fang; businesses would stop taking his produce; he’d become a pariah in Oleander. As little as he cared for the town and its inhabitants, he had to admit he needed them. Keeping himself…hidden was a matter of livelihood. If some rumor had taken hold…

He tried to play it cool. “What makes you think that?”

Jonathan shrugged. “Well, it was just a feeling I had. To be honest, you just looked friendly and a new guy like me could always use some friends.”

Abe began to relax. “I don’t know what gave you that idea.” He grinned slightly. “I usually keep to myself. I don’t have much tolerance for people.”

The Tiger grinned. “I picked up on that, but I think you might just have a tolerance for ME. I’m a good judge of character about these things. It’s one of the reasons I’m in law enforcement.”

Abe caught himself laughing. “Oh really? Is another so you can walk around town popping out of your uniform?”

Jonathan’s ears flattened, and the sparse fur around his nose showed his blush. “It is a little small, isn’t it? But it was the biggest they had! They’re working on one that fits me at the tailor’s.”

Abe waved it off, “Don’t worry about it, I’m just yanking your chain. You look fine.”

“Are you sure? It doesn’t make me look…silly, like one of those cop-strippers?” Jonathan’s fang showed as he bit his lower lip.

Abe looked at him sideways. He just couldn’t resist a set-up like this. “You definitely look like a stripper. But you don’t look silly.”

Jonathan only looked partially mollified. “Well, as long as I look like a stripper with dignity, that’s all that matters.”

Abe nearly snorted into his water, and that sent Jonathan into a fit of laughter. The Vixen — Melody, if her nametag were to be believed — smiled at the both of them and dropped off the plates, then quickly disappeared. Abe could scarcely believe how quickly their order arrived.

They didn’t speak once about the altercation in the parking lot, but Jonathan did ask for more information about the Claw and Fang. Mostly, they talked about other things; what it was like for Jonathan growing up in the city, how Abe was raised to live and die on his farm, and that was what he planned to do. Jonathan talked about why he became a sheriff’s deputy in a one-light country town, and what he planned to do with his life. When Abe asked him if he had plans to find a Tiger and settle down with a family some day, he simply shrugged.

“I really haven’t found too many women that interest me, you know? I just can’t…connect with them. It’s much easier to understand guys, so that’s where a lot of my attention goes.” He looked at Abe pointedly. That was all the confirmation he needed.

Dinner couldn’t have gone much more smoothly. An hour passed, then two. Melody had come to clean their empty plates, refill Jonathan’s beer and Abe’s water several times, and at last came with the dessert menu. She flicked her ears as she looked from the Rabbit to the Tiger. “I know it’s late, y’all, but did you think you might want a little dessert?”

Abe looked behind him. The monster Giraffe, amazingly enough, was still there, talking to a Rabbit that was even smaller than him. There was a couple of elderly raccoons sipping coffee over cold liver and gravy. And the noise of the pool room had gotten markedly louder. The Rabbit could smell the stench of the smoke, could hear the curses striking like bombs in the air. The whole place reeked of grease and beer, of the scent of patrons and workers, and most of all tobacco. It looked cheap and depressing and run-down. There was no place he’d rather be.

“Actually, I think I’ll have the apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. And a pint of that microbrew.” Abe grinned at Jonathan, who grinned back. If he needed to go home, Crystal could practically walk herself to the farm. But he had a feeling he’d be sleeping someplace much closer.

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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Furries, Writing


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Friday Fiction: Farmer’s Market

(Sorry about skipping the AFI Top 100 review for this week. I took a crack at it and just hated what I wrote — it sounded needlessly defensive and unworthy of the subject material. I’ll try to make it up to you guys with a twofer next week, so stay tuned for that!

For now, enjoy this bit of fiction, set in the Unstable Future¬†universe as created by Neopuc. I really loved the setting, and have been percolating on my own take for quite some time. Now I’m at the stage where I want to figure out the characters and let them tell me who they are, to be all hippie-writer about it. So here we have a seen with Abe, the Rabbit we met last week, getting involved in a slight altercation outside of his neighborhood supermarket. 1731 words.)

As soon as Abe saw the small crowd jostling right in front of the door to the market, he knew there was trouble. Outside of the darkened windows that lead to the small parking lot of Perry’s Supermarket, he could see three figures — two very large ones shoving a much smaller one between them. Of course, they were doing this right outside the exit, so if he wanted to leave he would have to deal with them.

The Rabbit shuffled the two bags in his arms and looked back at the checkout counter. Perry’s was unusually busy for a Wednesday afternoon, and the young cashier — a Chameleon with piercings adorning the edge along his crest — was scanning groceries at a pace that suggested there actually weren’t twelve other Animals behind his current customer. Abe took a few steps towards him, settling his bags on the very end of the counter.

“Excuse me,” he said, reminding himself to be polite. “It looks like there’s some kind of fight going on outside your store.”

The Chameleon swiveled one eye almost directly behind him, barely turning his head to look out of the window. He saw the three figures outside and shrugged. “Can’t leave my post, and I’m the only one in the store.”

“Can’t you call your manager?” Abe had to take a deep breath and fought the rising tide of impatience in his chest.

The cashier shook his head and returned to scanning the same can of peas he had been for the past minute. “Manager’s on lunch. You might be able to catch her at the diner down the street.”

Abe was incredulous. What kind of manager let a kid like this work an entire store alone—

A slam on the window made the Rabbit jump, along with a few people in line. One of the huge figures, a Bear, cuffed the little one, sending him careening into it. Abe sighed and shook his head, then walked out of the door.

“All right,” he said, without bothering to look at who he was dealing with. “That’s enough. Why don’t you just knock it off and go fight in a bar if you wanna scrap that bad.”

The two large bodies turned to look at him, and he tilted his head to look up at them. He felt his throat drop into his stomach, and he instinctively took a step back. Of all the people he could have told to knock it off, members of the Claw and Fang would be the least likely to listen.

Their leader was looming over him and everyone else now, the Bear’s beady brown eyes focusing down. “This ain’t none of your business, asshole,” he boomed. Abe could swear later that he felt the sidewalk rumbling underneath him.

The Bear called himself Tiny, which immediately told Abe exactly what sort of intellect he was working with. He was less of a Bear and more of a wall — eight feet tall, six hundred pounds of hulking fur, fat and muscle. He was easily the biggest biped Abe had ever seen, and strong enough to give his horse Goliath a run for his money. He spent his days committing petty theft, getting into fights at any bar that would have him and terrorizing liberal arts majors off-campus. Maybe he had finished eighth grade; his criminal record was a lot longer than his educational one.

Abe put up his hands and folded his ears, silently cursing himself for immediately adopting such a submissive posture. But the bear was three feet taller than he was and around four times heavier; there was no way it would turn out well for him if it came to blows. “You’re right outside Perry’s Supermarket, beating up a townie. It’s my business whether I like it or not.”

Abe didn’t know where that came from. But he couldn’t just stand by and watch something like this happen. He’d want someone to come out and stop it if he were being victimized, after all.

Tiny took a half-step forward, but his companion stayed him with a paw. Roeper was a Lion that was every bit the monster the Bear was, if not a little worse. He wore the illusion of civility, using it to justify all kinds of abusive behavior. He was the brains of the operation; though Tiny considered himself the leader of the Claw and Fang since he was the biggest, Roeper was easily the power behind the throne as it were.

“He’s right, Bear,” the Lion practically purred. “We were right outside the exit of the store. All those poor people would be trapped in there until we were done. I think it’s a good thing that this little bunny brought it to our attention.

Abe felt himself bristling. Roeper gave him a smile that was almost a sneer. “Just let us take our friend here somewhere else so we can continue our conversation.” The Lion lifted his victim by the back of his shirt with seemingly no effort at all. “You and the rest of your neighbors can take your groceries home in peace.”

The Rabbit knew he was being given an out, that the Lion was saying that there was no quarrel with him. It was a free pass. All he had to do was take it. He shook his head and said, “That’s not the problem here, and you know it. Listen, just put the Gopher down and walk away. It’s really not worth causing all of this trouble.”

Roeper raised an eyebrow. “No, it really isn’t.”

Tiny advanced on the Rabbit, and this time the Lion didn’t stop him. Abe’s heart sank. He knew he wouldn’t be able to reason with the Bear, so things were very likely about to come to blows. Abe quickly tried to think of what he could do to get himself out of this.

His father had taught him to fight, and told him that he didn’t have power or size over most of the people he would be up against. But he did have speed and stamina. He’d need to take advantage of the slowness of his enemy, find a weak point and strike it repeatedly, retreating as fast as he could before retribution would come. Eventually, his opponent would tire, or simply topple if he had chosen his spot correctly.

“You can’t fight well, son,” his father had said. “Rabbits aren’t built for that. But we can fight smart.”

Abe watched as Tiny advanced towards him, his eyes flicking over the hulking frame for any sign of weakness. The Rabbit could find none; every part of the Bear was massive, covered with a thick layer of fat and hide. He didn’t know if he had it in him to even make a blow register. The only thing he could think of would be to go for the eyes, but he’d have to jump to reach and that would leave him completely exposed. He–

Tiny roared and swung, a wild right cross that looked like a tree being swung at him. Abe ducked quickly, but he felt the air woosh right over his ears. That was way too close. He quickly darted forward and punched the Bear’s midsection. It was like beating stretched leather. Tiny didn’t even exhale; he simply laughed.

“That all you got?” The Bear’s voice was slightly deafening, even in the open air of the parking lot. “I’ve fallen harder than you hit. Listen here, bunny–” he spat the word with a contempt that Abe never realized he was aware enough to be capable of– “just let me hit you once for interrupting my fun, then you can go home.”

“What’s going on here?” A loud, threatening growl sounded from behind Abe. The Rabbit spun around to find Jonathan, the new sheriff’s deputy, stalking across the parking lot towards them. The look on his face was almost murderous.

Roeper flicked a glance at the large Tiger coming his way, then at Abe. “Nothing, officer. We were just having a spirited debate.”

“Debate’s over.” Jonathan’s striped fur bristled. “Why don’t you get out of here?”

Roeper’s expression cooled considerably, but he nodded and turned towards Tiny. “Of course, officer. Let’s leave these two gentlemen to their afternoon.”

The Lion, the Bear and a Coyote that Abe somehow missed stalked past them and across the parking lot. The Coyote gave the Rabbit a chillingly direct yellow-eyed stare before they reached the street. As soon as they were gone, he let loose with a huge sigh.

Jonathan quirked an eyebrow. “What was that about?”

Abe simply shook his head. “Just stopping them from messing with some little guy.” He looked around for a moment before he spotted the Gopher quietly gathering his groceries and slipping away.

Jonathan watched him go. “Well, I’m sure he’s grateful.”

Abe smirked. “Obviously.”

The Tiger scratched the back of his head. “Well, now that I’ve gotten involved, I’m going to need to file a police report, which of course includes a statement from you.”

Abe’s ears sank. He thought of all the work he had to do back at the farm, and how quickly the day was getting away from him. No good deed, he thought.

“Well, I suppose that’s protocol.”

The Tiger grinned. “Glad you agree. Mind if I take your statement over dinner tomorrow night?”

Abe’s ears perked straight up and forward. He had not been expecting that. For several moments, he had no idea what to do. He watched as Jonathan’s smile slowly faded in the ensuing awkward silence.

“If you’re too busy–” the deputy began.

“No, no, sorry, I was just…uhm…just…”

“Going over your calendar?”

“Yes, that’s exactly right. It’s clear. I’d be happy to.” Abe felt the curious sensation of stepping back and watching him agree to dinner with an impossibly good-looking Tiger.

That big, toothy smile reappeared. “Excellent! Let’s say, Oleander Pool Hall at 8 PM?”

Abe merely nodded. He was still coming out of his shock.

“Awesome.” If Abe had been paying attention, he would have noticed that Jonathan looked both relieved and very pleased. “I’ll, uhm, see you then.”

The Tiger stalked away, back to the patrol car that was haphazardly parked across three spots with its door hanging open. Abe turned and went back to the store to get his groceries, wondering what on Earth had just happened.

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Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Furries, Writing


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Friday Fiction: Meet Ugly

Fandom 150(This is for a serial I’m hoping to write a little later this year and post on relevant furry sites. I wanted to take the time to get to know the principal couple for the whole thing, and what better way to do that then write about how they first met? I didn’t want to do anything fancy here. I just wanted to write dialog that established a good sense of character, that pointed to the hidden things in someone’s mind, and establish a good, strong sense of place.)


Abernathy Jones looked at the five barrels of apples he had just bought and thought about all the work he would have to do to make sure they didn’t go to waste. Some of them he would dry, some of them he would sauce, some would be canned and some mashed into pulp and mixed with hay for the horses. For most people, five barrels of apples conjured images of piping hot pieces of pie and cups of cider. For Abe, they brought to mind hard labor for at least two or three days.

The rabbit put his hands on his hips and took a deep breath. The work started with loading the barrels onto the cart, something Barnaby, the store clerk on shift, swore he was too busy to do. It was a short trip from the raised wooden porch to the horse-drawn cart right in front, but it was still a two-man job. He looked around at the bustling streets. Students from the nearby university were out for long lunches between classes, and the few farmers there were dealing with their own burdens. Abe would have to find a way to do this alone. As long as he was careful with his back and took frequent breaks, it wouldn’t be so bad.

His horse watched him placidly from the post she was tied to. He had named her Crystal, because she was a beautiful mare but far stronger than anyone gave her credit for. She flicked one ear behind her, swiveled the other one towards him, then bent her neck towards the water trough. Before she took a drink, she spoke.

“Tiger across the street’s been eyeing you ever since you got out here. Think he’s gonna come over.” She kept one ear focused on him while she took a drink.

Abe glanced over. Sure enough, there he was. A rather tall Tiger, broad in the shoulders, wearing the khaki uniform of the sheriff’s department. He was nominally keeping an eye on the entire street, but his gaze kept drawing back to the Rabbit far too frequently for it not to be a coincidence. The deputy saw him looking, pushed himself off the post he was leaning on, and started walking his way.

The Tiger’s physicality was impressive; he was big, but graceful. He had a dancer’s talent of putting his bulk exactly where he wanted it. As he stalked across the wide dirt avenue that separated the rows of buildings that made up Oleander’s main thoroughfare, he accentuated his barreled chest, his heavy arms, the casual power he possessed. Abe didn’t know if he should be annoyed at the stranger for showing off so shamelessly, or annoyed at himself for being swayed by it.

“Hey there.” The Tiger grinned, without showing his teeth. “Looks like you could use some help.”

Abe forced himself to smile, lifted the brim of his hat. “Maybe a little. I think I might have overdid it with the apples.”

The Tiger chuckled. “Not if you want to have ’em last through the winter. Here, I can put them on your cart for you.” He lifted the first barrel before Abe could stop him. His shoulders and arms bulged through his shirt.

The Rabbit blinked. “Ho, there, don’t hurt yourself.”

“It’s no trouble. I’m happy to help.” The deputy huffed once and thumped the barrel on the wagon.

What a fucking Cub Scout, Abe thought to himself. He hopped from the porch to the cart and wiggled the barrel towards the edge closest to the seat. “Well, thanks, stranger. I appreciate it. What’s your name?”

“Johnathan Danvers. I’m new here.”

“I can tell that; haven’t seen you around here before. What brings you all the way out here to Oleander?”

Johnathan made sure that Abe had secured the first barrel before bringing the second one. “Would you believe I came all the way out here looking for work?”

Abe studied him for a moment. “No. No, I wouldn’t. Where are you from?”

“Oh, I’m from Firenze.”

Abe’s ears perked. “The capital?” He saw Johnathan nod once he put the second barrel down. “Well now I really don’t believe you. What on Earth would you want to move here from the city for?”

Johnathan shrugged and grinned. This time, Abe could see the full set of carnivore’s fangs between black lips. “Just wasn’t sure that the city was for me any more. I thought I’d give small-town living a try. My sister moved out to Brackers five years ago, swears she’ll never live in a city again.”

It was common for the Animals to migrate out to small towns near a lot of wilderness if they didn’t have to be in the cities for whatever reason. The crush of people, the endless mazes of asphalt and concrete — it didn’t sit well with whatever instincts hadn’t been engineered out of them when they were created. It had been several generations now since man had essentially created a new race, and a natural separation had been occurring over that time. Cities were where humanity wanted to live, and the Animals were more than happy to leave them to it. The further away from the urban centers you got, the less humans you found, until, in a place like Oleander, they made up about ten percent of the population.

“I hear you there. I only ever visited the city once, when I was a leveret. I don’t know how anyone could stand it. So how’re you liking the town so far?” Abe grinned again, and this time he was surprised to find it was genuine.
“There’s a lot less humans around, that’s for sure.” Johnathan grunted as he thumped the third barrel down on the cart.

“Is that a good thing?”

The Tiger shrugged. “It’s just a thing. I guess I’m used to the human way of doing things. They’re really big on scent neutralization and keeping shed fur under control and all of that. It’s…strange being in a place where it’s not that big a deal.”

Abe’s nose twitched. He had gotten so used to the riot of scents that assaulted his senses when he came to town he practically didn’t notice them. But the wind carried currents of fox and beaver, otter, skunk, wolf and deer, horse and rabbit, tiger, bear, coyote, squirrel. There was the scent of lacquered wood and standing water, too; of hot metal that had been standing in the sun for a while; of freshly-pressed clothing and the subtle cologne the Tiger wore. Abe suddenly realized that he had last taken a proper bath three days ago, and that his overalls were filthy with the muck of the farm.

He felt his temper flare at being made to feel self-conscious. “Well, we’ve got more important things to do around here than make sure someone’s delicate nose isn’t offended.”

Johnathan threw his paws up and backed away from the cart. “Hey, I wasn’t complaining. Just saying, it’s an adjustment. It’s…nice, really. I don’t know, it feels more honest.”

And just like that, the anger bled out of him. “Eh, I wouldn’t go ascribing some noble spirit to it. Most of us just don’t care all that much if our neighbors go a few days without showering.”

“Nothing wrong with that. I just haven’t, uhm, broken the habit yet.” Johnathan returned with the fourth barrel, and Abe noticed the dark pink of his ears.

“We’re almost done,” he said. “And that’s a nice scent.”

Johnathan’s ears perked. He beamed. “Thanks! My dad used to wear it all the time. I get crap from my sister all the time because she thinks it’s old-fashioned. But I like it.”

“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with doing the traditional thing. Traditions last because they work. And that works for you.” Abe saw a flash in Johnathan’s eyes that gave him pause. He just realized what he said and how it could look; he let his smile drop and he quickly turned to secure the fourth barrel.

They were silent for the loading and securing of the fifth barrel, and Abe hopped down to offer his paw. Johnathan took it and smiled. The Rabbit tried not to notice the way the Tiger’s paw enveloped his own, or how he was well over a foot shorter.

There was a spark there that neither of them commented on, a jump in their breaths when their eyes met. Abe looked away first. He wiped his paws on his overalls. “Well, thanks for the help John. I hope you enjoy your stay here.”

“It’s been great so far; I don’t think I’ll have too much excitement to worry about around here.”

Abe laughed as he climbed up into the seat of his cart. “Oh, just you wait. Oleander’ll show you a thing or two before too long. Take care.”

The Rabbit flicked Crystal’s reigns lightly and the horse settled into an easy trot. When she was sure they were out of earshot, she looked back. “Pretty sure you guys are going to jump into bed together soon.”

“Shut up,” Abe said.

“I’m just saying. I can smell pheromones, and you guys had a cloud of ’em around you.” Crystal turned her attention back to the road. Abe only responded with a small slap of the reigns.

Over the next several days, as he juiced and mashed and dried the apples, all he could think about was the big tiger in his fresh deputy’s uniform. When he tasted the cider, he thought of Johnathan’s cologne. It made the tasting sweeter somehow. And that suited Abe just fine.

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Posted by on May 17, 2013 in Furries, Writing


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