Authors: Marc Zicree,Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Tags: #Fantasy, #General, #Fiction
Of Angelfire and Blindman’s Blues
Welcome to the further adventures of Cal, Colleen, Doc and Goldie.
It’s been said by many a megalomaniac before me, “I like to create worlds.”
But I also like to share them.
It’s one of the big reasons I work in TV. Whether it’s taking my boyhood friendship with the late great Ted Sturgeon and transmuting it into
Deep Space Nine
’s “Far Beyond the Stars,” or sitting around with a bunch of fellow writers and saying, “We’ve got twenty-two hours of
to create—let’s do something we’ve never seen before,” it is pure, unadulterated joy to play in a shared yard with other creative souls.
If you’ve read
, you may suspect that it’s a vision that has haunted me for years.
It was forged by several crucial moments in my life:
When the earth shook during the Northridge quake and the lights went out, and we all surged from our separate homes in search of the reassurance of companionship.
When riots seized L.A. and the night glowed red, palm trees burning like tiki torches flanking the Hollywood Freeway.
When El Nino howled, turning streets into rivers, driving people together, chilled and dispossessed, onto higher ground.
Those moments when all the clutter and noise of modernity were stripped away, and people crossed barriers of class
and race and money to protect and hold on to each other, even in the riots.
first emerged as the script for a two-hour television pilot, written by myself and my writing-partner wife, Elaine. But the land and characters continued speaking to me, demanding more elbow room.
Wherever I went, I found myself viewing a place through the lens of
, reshaping it into what Cal and his cronies might see and hear and smell.
I invited my friend Barbara Hambly along for the first trip, moving from Manhattan across a very altered world to Boone’s Gap, Virginia. Then Maya Bohnhoff joined up, leading Cal and his friends in their search to Chicago and beyond.
Here’s how we worked: we plotted out the journey beyond Manhattan more or less simultaneously. As Barbara and I wrote chapters of book one, we’d fire them off to Maya, and she in turn sent us the developing chapters of book two. It was an exciting time, as we would be inspired by each other, alter bits and pieces to match, polish it all together into a (hopefully) seamless whole. Along the way, new characters stepped up, insisting they be included, among them Barbara’s Secret Service agent Larry Shango and Maya’s fierce, heartbroken flare Magritte.
But let me be clear on one point—Maya wrote the book you now hold in your hands. I may have created the world and the lead characters, done minor course corrections … but this tale is all hers.
And what a tale it is.
As for the next installment, our intrepid band of chroniclers will be joined by Mr. Robert Charles Wilson, the brilliant author of
. Watch this space.
Now, however, switch off your pagers and cell phones, unplug the TV, turn your back on the computer and the internal combustion engine … and give yourself over to a time and place where all miracles—both dark and light— emanate from the burning core of our own true selves.
West Hollywood, California June 2002
This, O my best-beloved, is a story quite different from the other stories—a story about the Most Wise Sovereign Suleiman-bin-Daoud—Solomon the Son of David.
There are three hundred and fifty-five stories about Suleiman-bin-Daoud; but this is not one of them… . It is not the story of the Glass Pavement, or the Ruby with the Crooked Hole, or the Gold Bars of Balkis. It is the story of the Butterfly that Stamped. Now attend all over again and listen!
“The Butterfly That Stamped,” from
Just So Stories
by Rudyard Kipling
Manhattan, New York
young men will dream dreams…”
Cal Griffin blinks up into my eyes and gives me a look that says he’d willingly crawl out of his skin if that would get him away from me. He glances at the building he is hoping to flee into and tries to pull his arm out of my grasp— not hard enough to succeed.
Around us, the chaos concert of city traffic is deafening. I put my lips close to his ear. “I’m telling you this because you talk to me, don’t just look through. No such thing as coincidences. It’s omens, Cal. Something’s coming.” A line of verse leaps into my head and off the tip of my tongue before I can stop it: “ ‘Metal wings will fail, leather ones prevail.’ ”
Cal stares at me, puzzled, wondering what I’m blathering about. That makes two of us.
I let go of him and step aside. “You keep your head low.”
Cal nods mutely, turns to the doors. Just before he enters, he glances back, face going ashy when he sees me watching him.
“I’ll see you later, Goldie,” he murmurs.
“If there is a later,” I say, and he falters, missing the revolving door. He has to wait for it to come around again.
I watch him vanish into the building, lost among all the
2 / Marc Scott Zicree & Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
other Suits. He doesn’t believe me, of course. Can’t blame him, but I had to try.
I wipe some powdered sugar from my chin. Time to go through the Dumpsters in search of another Gillette. This is a use-it-then-lose-it society. There are always throwaways.
The street empties as the Suits swarm into their termite towers. Anyone looking at me now would find it hard to believe I was once on my way to becoming one of them. I hadn’t known myself then, hadn’t known a strange truth about the world. Onion. The world is like an onion. One thing with many layers. Stinking or succulent, depending on how you look at it.
Good metaphor. I am still capable of good metaphors. Any other time, I’d be absurdly pleased with it, but not today. Today, my cleverness offers no satisfaction.
Because something’s coming and it’s going to be bad.
I spy Doc Lysenko manning his hot dog cart nearby. Someone else I should warn. I take a step in his direction, but with a suddenness that steals my breath, all the oxygen has been sucked out of the world. My legs threaten to fold up under me and I put a hand out to a nearby wall. Heat radiates from it—from the pavement—and the din of the city is like Thor’s hammer.
What a world, what a world. Who would’ve thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness? Shit, Goldman, get a grip
I send my mind into a ritual I started when I was nine: I take the sturdy brown tome down from the bookshelf. Needing inviolable privacy, I go into an upstairs bathroom and perch on the closed lid of the toilet. I open the book—
, Volume One—and begin reading:
This letter has stood at the head of the alphabet during the whole of the period through which it can be traced historically…
Non compos mentis
, my sister called me, and told me to look it up. I did, and then read from A to Z, passing through all the points between. A safe haven, a fortress where I couldn’t hear Mom and Dad snarling psychobabble and legalese at each other. Order from chaos. I was transported. By words.