Two years ago, I finished the first draft of Cross Navigation. It went through an editor, a rewrite, and another rewrite of the novel’s plan. In the end, I decided to put the project on hold indefinitely for another project I was working on on the side.
I ended up writing it during Nanowrimo last year, and I’m quite glad to say that it has been a more enjoyable writing journey with this project instead.
Therefore, I’d like to share a teaser (the first 500 words) with all of you here. I hope you’d like the premise.
The Flavour Chronicles #1: The Saccharine Vote
Replica (noun) –
Singapore was the nation that developed “Replica”, a meal replacement cube to feed the masses and increase work efficiency in light of the global crop failure and international famine.
Central House National History, 2035
PART ONE: RAIHANA
Year 2035, Central House – Master Control Server
“Come on, come on!” Reza muttered under his breath.
His fingers trembled as they hovered over the keyboard, shaking a little more than the 10 degree blasts from the air-conditioner can account for. Shoulders jerking up with every sound, he fought his senses to focus on the download bar inching towards its finishing line.
“Rai will cover me,” he mumbled under his breath. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have heard anything; but I’ve been stuck in the vents with nothing but the mild whirring of the servers and my own breathing to entertain myself since we infiltrated the building. The faint rhythm of my brother’s typing tapped against the back of my mind while I kept the white glow of the server screen in my sights.
The glow continued to frame the corner of the server.
Then, a familiar beep. And a swish of a sliding door.
“After all the OT we pulled last week, you’d think they’ll at least give us a break…” the whine of a disgruntled technician echoed close.
“Hmph, you’re one to talk,” his partner said, “You copped out three of the five nights!”
The footsteps from the technicians grew louder.
I gripped the weapon in my pocket. Reza exhaled.
The footsteps stopped.
“Did you hear that?” the non-whiner said.
The glow flickered and I heard the faintest click of a thumb drive leaving its port before I heard Reza grabbing his bag. I watched him hug his bag close and made for the nearest server box and waited.
I crawled down to the hatch nearest to him and waited.
“I thought I heard something.”
“It’s just the AC, let’s just get this over and done with.”
“No!” then the non-whiner paused, “There’s someone else here, I saw something.”
Reza counted the rows before his escape – three server boxes. The footsteps grew louder. He inched to the next server box, back firmly against the machines.
Darn it, what happened to ‘Raihana will cover me’?!
“Shit!” the non-whiner said, “Did one of you forget to log off?”
“This box is restricted,” whiner replied, “No one’s supposed to have access.”
My eyes widened as I watched Reza at the corner. He lifted his foot gingerly, placing his sole in the middle of the web of wires standing between him and a clear passage out. Spotlights from the technicians’ torches waved around the walls, narrowly missing his silhouette as he skipped past the wires and crashed into the floor.
I rolled my eyes and jumped.
Stay tuned for more work-in-progress posts to come!
Three years ago, I sat with a group of other writer friends and we talked about creating something fun together – that was when Pulp Toast / Roti Bakar was born. Three years on, we’re on our third issue, with a solid core team and amazing guests.
Now that this issue is going through a final round of checks, here’s a sneak peek:
Unwanted Utopia III: Legacy
“Your sentence in solitary will be indefinite,” I explained to my inmate. I arrived at Area 82’s Confinement half a year ago, as part of the new batch of Area 80 Enforcers brought in to aid their influx of confinement inmates.
“You will only be allowed an hour out of your cell with official personnel,” I continued, “You are to only engage in approved therapy, counselling, or physical activity to maintain your health. Your rations will only be served to you twice a day, at the appointed hours. If you require anything, or medical attention, you will only be attended to on a case-by-case basis.”
My assigned inmate was a lean man, slightly worse for wear after processing. His salt-and-pepper hair layering just the top of his undercut was tied back in a bun and his uniform had no more than a slight crease around his joints.
“Do you have any questions, Professor Kyung?” I finished.
His brown eyes were clear, almost distracting from his smile.
That smile though.
“Just one,” he said, “How may I address you?”
Thus, the reason behind this assignment.
“You will address me as ‘Sir’, according to inmate protocol,” I said as I motioned him into his cell, “Anything else will be met with either a warning or a punishment to be decided on a later date.”
The gates clanged. I stormed out.
Professor Shin Kyung
Brotherhood Year 40, July 14
If you’re reading this, congratulations on being one of Area 65’s Artisan Apprentices. If you managed to get this letter from someone else instead of through the mail, it means that the execution went through.
On that note, please allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Professor Shin Kyung. I’m writing this on the blank pages from the back of the Brotherhood’s Guide to Life manuals they keep stocked in every inmate’s solitary confinement cell. I was just assigned to solitary confinement cell 42, Area 82’s Confinement.
You may not remember me, but we first met in Area 65, in the Contagion Research Labs. You were nine then, but Deputy Area Commander Rodriguez already had his eye on you. What you possibly didn’t know from then was that they were already lining you up for Artisanship – your ability to take orders, while producing the most aesthetically-pleasing, yet functional pieces was something the Brotherhood was looking out for.
I was placed there to monitor your mental growth and ensure that you were growing the way the Brotherhood intended you to. A few months into your check-ups, I couldn’t go through with it. So I slipped you something to help you with your final field tests.
When I heard that you managed to escape your final tests, I was elated. I also packed my bags and quickly left the organization. Despite the Brotherhood’s control over the entire world, I knew it wouldn’t be easy for them to find me if I went off the grid.
The problem with the system now, my dear, is that even with an alias, creative outlets will get you noticed. I was able to travel and give lectures on Area Societies with an alias. But it only took one unauthorized, faulty music box playing in the middle of the night before I was discovered.
They already took my family and close comrades, there was nothing else left to come for except for me.
What they won’t know is that I’m not the end of all this.
You’ll have to read the rest of it when Pulp Toast / Roti Bakar #3 is out. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing and putting Pulp Toast together.
For more information on our collection, click here.
Last month, we played Dead of Winter: The Long Night with Dave, Ben, and the Tiger. While we had a good lot of fun, we were a bit disappointed that there were no Betrayal endings in the rulebook like they had in the original game.
Since I won my first Betrayal play, I decided that it’ll be a good avenue to flex some writer muscles and write my own ending
Module: Dead of Winter: The Long Night, Raxxon Module
I recognized that scream anywhere.
“What do we do now?” Fatima asked. We were both stood at the police station, her with the keys to the police van in one hand, me looking out the front window, half-counting the number of undead that could pop up in front of us, half-maintaining a moment of silence for Rosa.
Death by Siren was not the best way to go – I found that out during my days in Raxxon.
Breaking out of my trance, I gathered the last of my loot and zipped the duffel bag.
“Let’s go,” I said.
The gust chilled us to the marrow when we opened the garage door a crack. The ends of our gun barrels led the way as Fatima unlocked the police van. I loaded our provisions while she started the engine.
“Are you sure?” she asked while we clicked our seatbelts on.
I froze again.
It has only been a week since I met all of them – Fatima, Rosa, and the rest in the colony. They even managed to get Blue out of that monstrosity they called a Research Facility. But the one thing they failed to realize was this – they underestimated what the shadows behind the label, ‘Raxxon’ could do. Fading into the darkness as and when they liked, this also meant they could resurface in any way shape or form.
There was no stopping them.
“Yes.” I answered eventually.
The garage doors inched open.
There were at least three of them waiting there.
Fatima hit the gas.
And as we sent all of the undead abominations flying, I could hear her sobbing at her own betrayal, no thanks to my persuasion. I would have felt something, if not for the constant voice that only grew louder the further we drove from this town.
“Anywhere but here, anywhere but here, anywhere but here…”
And that’s all I’ve got for now! Leave your comments below and do let me know what you think. If you’ve come across other DIY Dead of Winter endings (group win or betrayer win), let me know in the comments as well.
Have a great day, everyone!
Title: On Making Madeleines
Author: Wena Poon
Publisher: Sutajio Wena
I make it no secret that I’m a fan of Wena Poon’s works. Last Singapore Writers’ Festival, she gave some of us a copy of her latest book, “On Making Madeleines”. Needless to say, I was intrigued.
In summary, the story speaks about Wena’s process while baking the French classic, with all her distractions and thoughts interjecting between the steps. When I spoke to her about it, she said it started as a recipe and process for her mother-in-law and the more she wrote, the more she realised its potential as a short story.
“The thing about baking French things like madeleines is that you can’t rush them.”
The literal first line of the book sets the scene. Each step closer to those delicate pastries brought new jests and “distractions” that we can all point and go, “Ayyy” at. (Especially the point she made about having the TV playing in the background while you potter about in the kitchen)
Once again, her writing continues to entertain. This piece is quick to get through, with snippets of conversations (between herself and her husband), musings, and whatever happened to go on around her in the middle of baking injected between the steps. One of my favourite parts had to be these lines:
“Don’t overmix and push all the air out of the eggs. You want the madeleines to be fluffy. Julia Child said once that it is preferable to have unmixed bits, than to overmix and deflate the batter. Julia Child lies. If you have unmixed bits, they will bake and taste exactly that – unmixed. You just have to learn how to fold and mix evenly without letting all the air out. If you don’t know how, it takes practice, don’t worry God help you.”
You read On Making Madeleines to be entertained. You read it to laugh and nod at how baking is not as many cookbooks say it is. You read it to have a glimpse at how something seen as an everyday task can become an adventure or a comedy sketch. And you will not be disappointed.
As a bonus, read the story all the way to the end. It’s a great Easter Egg especially for cake lovers and fans of Wena’s other pieces. (I was presently surprised yet again. Especially at how versatile Wena continues to be in her style of writing and storytelling) With that, I’m going to leave it to the rest of you to find out – get the book and read it with your morning coffee (and some cakes, if you’re able!)
On Making Madeleines is now sold on Amazon. You can find out more about Wena’s other works and escapades on her website here.
Author: Anna AB & Wayne Rée
It’s 2017 and I thought I’d start of the year with a prompt to inspire and a nudge to get started.
According to Wayne, this collection of stories was put together while he and Anna were travelling in Cambodia and got inspired. With each prompt encountered, both authors present their own interpretations of Graffiti, Time Travel, Frustration, Day Off, Smoke, Sacrifice, and Last Days.
Each story was constructed according to its theme and the auras you’d find in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and the Thriller genres permeated their words. Each story was a fine balance between reality we can relate to and the what ifs of life should our parallels be different.
The writing from both authors was impeccable. Words flowed, conveying sincere stories that provoke thought, reflect society, and above all, entertain. While I did get lost in some of the shorts, being distracted by the details in exposition and losing the story halfway, the straightforward execution had me back on track.
My favourites from the both of them include Where I End and You Begin by Anna and Admin by Wayne.
Admin sets a twisted idea in a scene we all know too well. Marrying bureaucracy and the lure of the dark, this story had me laughing from the start, especially when the idea of sections and forms came into play in the middle of a summoning. With the familiar faces and voices of office drones, it is difficult not to laugh at how this could be if we lived in a world of Lovecraft instead. (P/S – Wayne, can I do a reading of this story, please?)
Where I End and You Begin was one of those stories which had me increase the width of my smile as I read along, only to have me go, “YES!!!” with a fist pump by the end. The idea is not new, but it gives me a whole lot of relief when a story about time travel speaks about its paradox and leaves no loopholes. The writing here is emotional, tight, and enjoyable, and I hope you will have your mind blown at the end too.
Prompt was written by Anna AB and Wayne Rée. Check Wayne out here and Anna out here.
My adventures with in urban speculative fiction.