Surprise! It’s my favorite thing – unpredictability, an uncommon path, different, original. Those things call to me like a Siren. A story about mummy dinosaurs? I’ll give it a try.
Have you seen The Killing? That show kept me guessing through two season as to who the killer was, and I didn’t come close to naming who did, but it made sense. [If you haven’t seen this show, I highly recommend it, and I normally don’t care for crime shows.]
That’s the stickler, huh? It still has to make sense. Reality and fiction depart in opposite directions there. Life doesn’t have to make sense and rarely does, but fiction must always make sense.
It’s more amazing when I can surprise myself, especially five books into the Backworlds. I managed to do it several times in Worlds on Edge.
Here’s one of the things that surprised me: [excerpt, copyright 2014 M. Pax, all rights reserved]
Meelo leaned against the nearest wall and slid down it to get comfortable.
“Th-they won’t be able to come out here in the storm.” She half-heartedly pointed at the stairs and the house above.
“We not staying here.” The ranch hand, Dauffer, knelt at the corner under the stairs and pressed his palm against the wall. The panel popped, and he slid it to the side. “After you.”
Small as she stood, she had to duck through the entry. The walls beyond it had been carved out of rock. Hands on the rough-hewn surface, she felt her way forward. She sensed more than heard or felt the hidden door shut. The air changed, less stifling, cooler, the surface of Pardeep leaking inside. Dauffer caught up, and his biomechanical legs provided light, churning, purring, glowing.
Meelo’s fingers brushed over symbols: a sphere with rings, a sphere made of petals, and a circle of hash marks. The long and short slashes reminded her of rain. Shutting her eyes, she could smell it, could taste it on her tongue, mineral-filled sweetness. Craze had sworn not to stop improving Pardeep until the skies fell with rain. Could he do it? Such a dream couldn’t be let go — rain and forests and grass seas.
Her fingers lingered, coveting the downpour memorialized in the rock. Then she opened her eyes and continued down the tunnel. “Y-you put those here?” She paused to stare at a cloud covered in starbursts. Maybe it was snow. She ‘d love to experience snow before she joined Tasser and her family in the Afterlife.
“No. Pardeep has a lot of secrets.”
When I wrote that last line, I said to myself, “It has secrets, does it?” After some thought I left it. Why shouldn’t the dusty old moon have secrets?
Do you like surprises in your stories? Did you surprise yourself in your latest work?
Bonus: Who was your first alien? Pop over to UR and we’ll talk about it.