Archive | March, 2016

The Witches Condition (Discworld fan fic)

28 Mar

The Witches Condition (c2) 6/3/16 by Ray Daley

(All characters and locations are copyright of Terry Pratchett. This is a work of fan fiction released under a creative commons licence intended as a parody. No copyright infringement is intended)

“She’s late, Esme!” Nanny Ogg had a habit of stating the obvious. And she knew that even with her back turned, Granny Weatherwax was rolling her eyes at her. She’d be tapping her foot next.

“I can go again Granny, if you like?” That was Magrat. Even with the recent influence of her coven members, she was still a meek soul.

“Not this year, Magrat. You know the rules. Everyone knows the rules. You enter the cave, you take the test. And you ruddy well turn up on time.”

If Magrat had really been looking at Granny Weatherwax especially hard, or more specifically at her feet, she’d have sworn the grass beneath them was boiling. But grass doesn’t boil. Unless it’s thrown into a cauldron of hot water. *

* Unless it’s grass that’s been exposed to the ire of Esmeralda Weatherwax. Then it boils. And stays boiled until it’s expected to do otherwise. Even the Lancre grass is frightened of Granny Weatherwax.

The test had been going for almost a decade now, at least according to Nanny Ogg. She secretly suspected that Esme had been taking the test herself for a much longer time by herself before finally presenting it to the other Ramtops Witches. According to Granny Weatherwax, it was her own variation on a test that Black Aliss used undertake on a monthly basis.

“One of the reasons she went to the black, I say,” Esme had once told her in the strictest confidence. Nanny hadn’t repeated that to anyone, but all the local witches knew who’d told them. *

* Because she was that kind of person.

The witches had been waiting on the youngest of the new Lancre coven. She referred to herself as Diamanda. Granny, in the moments when she tolerated her foolishness called her “that Tockley girl.” Diamanda’s parents had had the misfortune to name her Lucy. How was a girl supposed to become a great witch with a name like Lucy?

Then the short black outline finally came over the ridge.

“Oh, here she is. Only ten minutes late then, Esme.” Nanny Ogg was one of those souls who tried to find the best in any situation. Mostly to soothe the savage beast that was Granny Weatherwax right now. Not that it worked. It never did. You’d have better luck cutting down a tree by looking at it. Which Esme was known to be able to do, according to Nanny.

Granny Weatherwax just stood there tapping her foot on the bubbling grass until the young witch finally reached their group. “You are tardy, Miss Tockley!”

“Diamanda, as you well know Mistress Weatherwax. And it’s only ten minutes. I was communing with the infinite. Channelling the souls of those long past, soothing their pain, as a good witch would.” Lucy Tockley’s minor inflection of the word good was only caught by its intended target.

And Nanny Ogg who’d keep it to herself. And then maybe tell a few close family members in confidence over the dinner table because she knew that was the best way to disseminate information.*

* I told you she was that kind of person!

Granny Weatherwax’s gaze hadn’t shifted from the young witches feet, not since she had ambled up to the group moments ago. “Communing was it? Channelling, you say? So you didn’t get stuck in Beckitt’s Bog then? Because those pointy shoes say otherwise.”

No self respecting witch worth her salt would fall victim to Beckitt’s Bog. Everyone knew where it was, where it started and what fate befell those who didn’t escape its clutches. *

* It generally meant the loss of whatever footwear the person was wearing. If they were lucky. Back in Lancre, there weren’t three men with the nickname “Trouserless” for no reason.

Diamanda glanced down at her pointy shoes for a fraction of a second before making the mistake of looking up and locking eyes with the most powerful witch on the Discworld. She lasted longer than most people did. Longer than most witches too. A whole two seconds in fact, before she finally looked away, towards the coven. “Well I’m here now. So what’s this test?”

There was an audible gasp from the older members of the coven. Surely everyone knew about the test? What self respecting witch didn’t know about Granny Weatherwax’s test? *

* One that thought communing with the infinite was an actual thing that witches did. One that wore black as a fashion statement, as opposed to out of practicality like every other witch did. One that called themselves Diamanda when they had a perfectly acceptable name like Lucy.

Granny Weatherwax grunted. “See that cave? Walk inside it. Count to five slowly. Then turn around and come back out. It doesn’t matter how you do it. And you don’t have to explain your method either. Just walk out. You’ve got ten minutes.”

#

The story that Esme had told Nanny Ogg ran as follows. When she had first become a student with Nanny Gripes, she had been told the story of how Black Aliss had dug a pit and lined it with extremely sharp spikes. She had then suspend herself over the pit by way of a rope that she’d set on fire. The idea being to use magic and magic alone to avoid an extremely messy ending.

The young Esme Weatherwax had been extremely impressed with the story (but frankly hadn’t believed a single word of it*) and instantly decided one day she’d have her own version of that test, only a lot less fatal for the unsuccessful.

* On account of how witches love to use stories as a method of power.

On that very day, she’d found a patch of rock in a nearby hillside that was only a little higher than she was tall and proceeded to take a pickaxe to it. It had taken her ten long years to construct a cave big enough to step inside and be able to turn around inside. The spell she had cast across the entrance, however?

She had taken less than a day to come up with that.

The first time anyone had taken the test, it was Esme herself. Nanny Gripes had told her “you have to be careful, young Esme. There is such a thing as the witches condition. Too much power, you see? Makes you go to the black.”

Young Esme Weatherwax had scoffed at her mentor back then. But now she knew that the witches condition was a very real thing. As real as the grass boiling beneath her feet right now.

#

Diamanda walked up to the entrance and peered inside. It barely merited being called a cave, it was little more than a nook in the hillside. “It’s just a stupid cave.”

Nanny Ogg tried not to gasp. She succeeded where more of the older members of the coven failed miserably. The gasp Magrat gave could have knocked a small bird out of the air. *

* In fact it almost did. But Magrat took that slightly swooned creature home and nursed it back to health and then some. Because she was that kind of person, even if they did think she was just a wet hen.

“Go inside then, girl.” There wasn’t a trace of challenge in Granny’s voice but you could have cut dwarf bread with that tone.

Diamanda just snorted and stepped into the tiny space beyond the mouth of the cave.

“Count to five.”

Diamanda didn’t need to turn around to know the old witch was trying to needle her. So she counted the slowest five count in the whole of recorded history. It almost took as long as it had taken for her to pull herself out of the bog earlier. She had hoped the old woman wouldn’t spot her boots, but no, it was Granny Weatherwax.

Of course she’d spotted them.

“Any time today, Miss Tockley!” The old witch was trying to get inside her head now.

Diamanda hummed, trying to drown her voice out. Unsuccessfully.

“And now turn and leave, by whatever method you can.”

Diamanda finally turned around to face the mouth of the cave, expecting to find it as clear as when she’d entered. But it wasn’t, not any more. There appeared to be some sort of fine meshed netting covering the entire exit.

No. Not entirely.

Diamanda took a second look and saw the small hand-sized hole at exactly waist height. She knew it was hand sized because she put her hand through it. And pushed. It certainly wasn’t any kind of net then. Or any man made thread. It had no give at all. It was like pushing against the very rocks themselves, hard and unforgiving.

“Leave when you please, Miss Tockley. But remember, there is a time limit.” Granny sounded rather pleased with herself. Happy to be showing Diamanda up in front of her friends. Now she had to find a way out!

“Nine minutes left now, sweetie.” That was Nanny Ogg, trying to be helpful.

“Thank you Missus Ogg.” Diamanda knew she was angry now. She’d never not called her Nanny before now.

Nanny Ogg decided to let that slide. She’d address it another time.*

* When there were less witnesses around. She might have been a good witch, but she certainly wasn’t stupid, regardless of her batty demeanour.

“Is this a fair test, Mistress Weatherwax?” Diamanda asked.

“Exactly the same test everyone else has already taken, girl. So fair in that respect. But who ever said being a witch involved fairness?”

The time slid by as Diamanda tried everything she could think of. She kicked the net. She cast any number of spells on the net. The only trouble there being she didn’t really know any proper spells. *

* At least not any that really worked the way she wanted them to. She could turn leaves into bananas though. Not that she’d found any use for that yet.

Eventually she heard the one thing she had tried to avoid most of all.

“Your time is up Miss Tockley. Shall I dispel and release you?”

Diamanda muttered something, not wanting to admit defeat in front of her friends.

Granny Weatherwax heard the young witch perfectly and released the charm across the mouth of the cave. It was clear once more.

Diamanda couldn’t get out fast enough. “Stupid cave. It’s just a stupid cave! No-one can beat that. Did anyone here beat that?”

All eyes in the coven turned to its most senior and powerful member. No-one needed to tell Lucy Tockley that Granny Weatherwax had already beaten the test.

“It’s your test, of course you’d beat it! Go on then, prove that it’s possible! Show me!”

Esmeralda Weatherwax was surprised, something that didn’t happen to her very often these days. The girl may not have had any actual power, but she had fire and spirit, and those counted for a lot in the witching world.

The rest of the coven had already seen Granny take and pass the test, she had been the first inside the cave once everyone (except Diamanda) had arrived not only on time but a good five minutes early. *

* Because witches liked to be unpredictable. Never late, always on time or early. Just keep them guessing, that’s what Granny Weatherwax always said.

Granny Weatherwax walked straight into the cave and counted out loud for everyone to hear, standing with her back to the entrance. Then she turned.

There wasn’t a flicker , or a flash, or even a blur.

It was just Granny Weatherwax standing outside the cave, with the net still intact. The old lady had simply appeared to step through reality from one point to another.

“Possible, see?” That was Nanny Ogg, now standing right next to Diamanda. “Okay ladies, same time next year then?”

And with that, the witches flittered away. Some on foot, some by way of broom. Until only Nanny Ogg and Diamanda were left by the cave.

With Granny Weatherwax halfway home, the spell on the cave finally dropped.

Diamanda kicked a nearby rock to vent her frustration. “Of course she beat it. She …”

Nanny Ogg put her hand over Diamanda’s mouth, knowing full well the next word she was going to say was cheated. “Best to keep those kinds of things unsaid, love. You’ll make a fine witch one day. Just remember, it comes with conditions.”

Then Nanny Ogg flew off, leaving Diamanda alone by the cave with her thoughts.  The loudest of which echoed in Granny Weatherwax’s mind as she flew home. ‘She’ll slip up one day. I just hope I’m there to see it.’

THE END.*

* Because not all endings are happy.

I’ve been writing!

25 Mar

Oh yes I have.

And not like usual either.

I saw something, it gave me an idea and I thought ‘Damn but I need to get that written down like right fucking NOW!‘ and then promptly cued up 4 hrs of music, said I was writing on twitter then just dived in and went the fuck for it until I came up for air about 2 hrs later.

I had a quick break for a snack and a drink then polished the rest of the story off in about 30 mins.

And for about 2 hours worth of writing I created 4733 words. Those 2 hours felt literally like five minutes had passed.

It felt insanely easy. I don’t expect days like this when I start the novel, but if I get even one of the I’ll be massively greatful. I’ll give the story a once over in a few days to check it’s okay (it felt okay!) and that it flows naturally.

The ended felt a touch rushed so may need some polish. But almost 5000 words in 2 hours?

SUPER HAPPY!

A Saint Patricks day story!

17 Mar

So everyone thinks they know the story of how St Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland.

 
This is completely untrue. Cars hadn’t been invented then. He tried to send them harshly worded letters but eventually realised snakes can’t read. So he just grabbed a massive great stick and swung it like crazy until all those snakes got the heck out of Ireland.
 
And this is why England now has snakes.
Thanks, Saint Patrick!
 
Happy Saint Patricks day.

An announcement.

16 Mar

I’ve redacted this status many times. But I’ve now reached the point in my life where I genuinely don’t care what people think any more. Your reaction is either “So what, big deal” or anything else.

So I am outing myself.

To save you “accidently” stumbling across it on Reddit then feeling the need to inform the rest of the world. Or noticing I am now a member of a LGBT writing group here on Facebook.

Yes, I am a transvestite. Crossdresser. Whatever.
Or was.
I retired “her” a long time ago.

If you didn’t know by now it’s either because I didn’t think I COULD tell you or I didn’t WANT to tell you.

I am no different today than I was yesterday.
You are just slightly better informed about me.

You now belong to one of two groups.

GROUP 1 – You already knew, I told you. Or EJ did & I confirmed it.
GROUP 2 – You are just finding this out now.

Things you need to know.

A definition:- I am a straight man who likes dressing as a woman. Or I used like dressing that way.
I am NOT gay! I love girls. So much so, I occasionally was one.
Yes, my mum did know. Yes, I did ask her not to say anything.
(I assume my siblings had their suspicions). Prior to this post only one of them knew, who I asked to say nothing.
Yes, I am slightly schizophrenic. She is not me, I am not her. We share the body and brain.
Yes, I HAVE met Eddie Izzard. (Once only, coming out of the ladies loos in the Way Out Wine Bar, a tranny club in London.)

I was a professional model! As a girl! I appeared on billboards & in magazines!
I worked in Madame Jojo’s (the club featured in “Kinky Boots”) for a VERY short time. Yes it paid quite well. Yes I spent every penny.
I dressed for a lot of my whole RAF career, at High Wycombe. They never caught me. (Well Cpl Andy Hitt ALMOST did, I am sorry I lied to you!)
I was once offered a part in the Annie Lennox “Little Bird” video. (I had to turn it down, I have regretted this every day since.)
This is why I keep posting the link to it. Now you know.
No, I can’t tell you which “Annie” I was going to be. I narrowed it down to two.
I will not take your wife/girlfriend/female partner shopping. (Unless it’s LJ; in which case been there, done that)
Number of RAF people who knew (at the time), 5. 2 MOD civvies after the fact. (You are now trying to work out if you are one of those 5, aren’t you!)
Yes, you can ask me stuff. I reserve the right to answer what I want.
Yes that is me on the front cover in the picture (outside the Winter Gardens in Milton Keynes), yes I was still in the RAF when this was published. No, it’s not my best picture.

Yes, they did sell this in High Wycombe. I saw it in several news agents. Yes, I was laughing my arse off the entire time.

I have been and still am Ray Daley, formerly SAC R. P. Daley and sometimes that bird I refer to as Racheal.
It’s a crapload of identities to fit into one brain.

I offer no reasons other than this, a thought I lived with for 4 years.
“I wanted to be myself. I had no idea who that was.”

I still don’t.

tv taffcover

So you think you own everything I’ve released?

13 Mar

Oh no you bloody don’t!

Yes, it’s me, your friend and humble author, sweary Ray!

So back in 2012, I was pretty active in the Goodreads forums and took part in an anthology that was eventually published on Amazon.

It was (and still is) called “A Splendid Salamagundi“.

My contribution was a VERY short story called “No World For Vampires“, which until recently even I didn’t have a copy of in my own archive.

I’ve since corrected this massive oversight.

This book has won the Indie Book Bargains award for best anthology for 2012!

I don’t own a copy of “Salmagundi” but will do once I get all my ducks in a row & get it off Amazon. I’ve since gone on to appear in another anthology from Crimson Cloak Publishing called “Steps In Time” (my story is called “The Waiting Room“) and I’ll be featuring in “Deserts Of Fire” later this year.

That’ll be my first proper paying gig as the two above stories were given for free.

Obviously there’s all my free stuff on Smashwords & Feedbooks. There’s “Survival” (for sale exclusively on Smashwords) and my other pay titles available solely through Amazon.

There’s stuff online too at some of the free flash fic outlets. If you check my Goodreads profile there are a couple of exclusive stories on there as well as things on my blog & my Facebook feed.


Best Books of 2012


A Splendid Salmagundi
Best Anthology

A message to former USAF Captain Scott O’Grady

6 Mar
Dear former USAF Captain Scott O’Grady,
 
You don’t know me sir, but you should.
 
Because I’m one of the reasons why you are alive today.
 
My part in your dramatised story “Behind Enemy Lines” was completely glossed over, I was painted out of the Hollywood version of your escape to freedom.
 
Here’s the real version.
 
It was a night shift in the OMDC like any other. The WRAF Cpl wasn’t having a nice night, so me being the nice man I was, I told her to go back to the block and get some sleep. So I was in the room on my own, with nothing but late night TV for company.
 
And then I heard it. A telephone ringing next door in Ops Co-ord.
Be grateful that adjoining door remained unlocked. Be grateful the Air Ops officers had seen sense to teach me how to use that STU II fax machine. Be grateful that MOD had seen its way to give me clearance to receive material on it.
 
So I locked the OMDC door and went and answered that phone at 3am. The operator on the other end only had a limited range on his field phone, that’d he’d somehow patched into a secure fax machine. And I was the limit of his range.
 
“Can you pass this through to US channels?” he asked me.
“Sure can, my friend.” I told him. It was done as a favour, from one Air Force brother to another. It didn’t matter that we didn’t serve in the same Air Force. He was in a spot, and I was able to help him. And so he passed that material to me.
 
Those were the images I recognised many years later when I was sitting in that cinema with EJ.
 
Because I was the one who passed those images of the troops between you and safety to the USAF NATO desk Sgt 5 hours later, after I should have knocked off and gone to bed.
 
I helped guide you back to your ride home.
I helped save your life sir.
 
I’m not looking for thanks, or recognition.
 
I just want you to know who I am, and what part I took in your escape to freedom.
 
I am former Senior Aircraftman Daley, Royal Air Force.
And I helped save your life as a favour.
 
You don’t owe me anything in return. Just know I exist.

An important announcement!

5 Mar

Right. I’m posting this here so everyone who follows me can see it.
I had an epiphany this morning at work. Don’t worry, it wasn’t painful. I realised that in my life I’ve accomplished almost everything I’ve ever wanted to do.

ALMOST.

The only thing left on my list is to write a novel. Not to complete a novel, just have a bloody good try.

So that’s exactly what I’m going to be doing from April 1st to April 30th. I’m going to try my best to write a novel in a month. That’s 50,000 words (or more) to those who don’t know. Almost 1667 words or thereabouts ever day.

I’m posting the news here so I’m officially committed from here and can’t make any takebacks.

Here are the rules:-

By 11:59pm April 30th 2016 I (Ray Daley) must have written 50,000 words to have completed this task. There are no set daily targets, I might write more on some days than others.

If I haven’t completed 50,000 words by that point, I will have failed. But at least I’ll have tried and will have a better idea at what kind of writer I am. (Probably not a novelist, but we’ll see)

So what I need from you folks is the trust & belief in me to report my progress to you honestly. And I need you to support me by giving me the space & time to write in.

I may fail, but I’m going to give it my best.

Wish me luck, I’m mad as fuck for even considering it.