Monday, February 08, 2021

Maybe Not Blogging, But Writing Anyway


I'm really, really, really expecting to keep up the "one blog post per day on average" pace in 2021. But I did go for a few days without posting, so why not get a post out of explaining why?

As regular readers of the blog can easily confirm for themselves, I'm something of a frustrated novelist. "Frustrated" as in never completing a novel and seldom getting a very good start on one. The closest I came was very early in this century when I got about 20,000 words into a Ludlum-style "Nazis in South America" thing before the site I was serializing it on went tits up and I lost momentum.

So anyway, last week I was thinking about a genre called "flash fiction," or what used to be called "short short stories." I checked out a few sites and ended up submitting a Lovecraftian tale of horror to 101 Words, a site which publishes stories of exactly that length. I thought it was pretty damn good, and will be interested to see if they decide to publish it.

Having actually completed a story, however short, got me started on a Lovecraftian novel of horror that I've had in mind for a couple of years. I knocked out about 2,750 words (a little over 5%, assuming a final length of around 50,000 words) of the first draft in one sitting, and started in on some research required for the next bit over the weekend.

Here are the first 400 or so words. Let me know what you think of them!

THE AFFIDAVIT OF 2ND LIEUTENANT GERALD SPEAL, USMC, CONCERNING CERTAIN EVENTS IN AND AROUND CEDAR KEY, FLORIDA

PERSONAL AND TOP SECRET FOR THE EYES ONLY OF:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the United States
Henry Lewis Stimson, Secretary of War
William Franklin Knox, Secretary of the Navy
Lt. General Thomas Holcomb, Commandant, US Marine Corps
Colonel William J. Donovan, Coordinator of Information, Office of Strategic Services

To whom it may concern:

The following affidavit was authored over the month of December, 1942, under my direction and interrogation and with the assistance of Lieutenant Commander Dr. Jeremy Roth, the patient’s supervising psychiatrist during his confinement at US Naval Hospital, Jacksonville, Florida. It was personally sworn in my presence by 2nd Lieutenant Gerald R. Speal, under penalty of perjury per Article 41 of the Articles for the Government of the United States Navy should this matter come before court-martial or other applicable proceeding, and on attestation by Dr. Roth that his patient, while evincing belief in the truth of all claims herein, may be less than entirely reliable in his recollections due to the mental effects of what the doctor tentatively diagnoses as a severe case of Combat Stress Reaction. Where relevant official documents are mentioned in the affidavit, I have made every effort to requisition copies of such documents from the archives of the respective services and insert them in the affidavit itself.

Major Elias Campbell
US Marine Corps, Detached to Office of Strategic Services
US Naval Hospital, Jacksonville, Florida
December 31, 1942

Dear Sirs:

    I have been asked -- or, rather, ordered -- by Major Campbell to submit an after action report in the matter of the “training accident” near Cedar Key, Florida on the night of October 31, 1942. My lack of military education and instruction, due to the sudden, temporary, supernumerary, and short-term nature of my commission as a lieutenant in the United Marine Corps, not to mention the unique nature of the incident in question, precludes conformity with established formatting and procedure in such reporting. Instead, I will narrate, in plain prose and with chapter separations as seem needful, the sequence of events as I recall them, beginning with my conscription, commission, and assignment to Detachment Zebra, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division (detached for duty with the Office of Strategic Services).

    Prior to my commission, I worked as an associate professor and field researcher in the Departent of Anthropology at the University of Florida in Gainesville, having taken my doctorate in that field from Miskatonic University, Arkham, Massachusetts under the supervision of Professor Tyler M. Freeborn.


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