"The Caged Hummingbird"

I’m still plugging away at Year Five of Altered Seasons, which really is getting long. I also finished “The Caged Hummingbird,” Chapter 7 of Locksmith’s War. I’ve mentioned this chapter before. Let’s just say that once, back in college, I wrote a short story from the point of view of somebody being trampled to death by a crowd, and that was the darkest thing I’ve ever written… until now. I wasn’t entirely sure I could get away with including this chapter in a YA novel, until I read another YA novel which contained an actual rape scene. (I’m not going to mention the name or author of the novel, because I don’t think this is quite the sort of publicity she wants.) “The Caged Hummingbird” doesn’t have anything quite that extreme, but what it does have is a little bit of violence and a lot of psychological torture. If anybody but the severely disturbed actually enjoys this chapter, I did it wrong. And I wrote something completely unrelated to either of these things — a creepypasta called The Pathfinder Rituals. Creepypasta is a genre of short online horror stories. Ritual creepypastas aren’t exactly stories so much as they are the potential inspiration for stories. Examples include The Devil Game, The Staircase Ritual, 11 Miles, The Dead Poet’s Game (which, unlike a lot of them, actually includes a story) and Three Kings (a.k.a. “Please Don’t Actually Try This.”) Also, here’s a list of quotes from Altered Seasons that I plan on using to advertise it, slightly censored for the benefit of the sensitive among you:

A lot of Walt’s viewers thought of California as a socialist hellhole — especially the ones who couldn’t afford a home there. “An infinite number of prison cells isn’t the same thing as freedom.” “Hey, is there a thing in kashrut where if somebody gives you burnt toast and runny eggs, you get to dump it down their shirt?” He walked up to her with the cold, confident swagger of a man who’d watched an online video tutorial called How to Swagger with Cold Confidence and practiced in front of a mirror several times a week. “Hope is like money — false hope drives the real thing out of circulation. And the more you try to print, the less people take it seriously.” “How the f*** do you look at a crowd of women and not notice the six-foot redhead?” “It’s not enough to tell the truth. You have to emphasize it. You have to enforce it. And nothing captures and focuses attention like seeing other people punished.” It was a pleasantly cool April evening… in the middle of January, but people were getting used to this sort of thing by now. She felt like saying If you want people voting for fascists, just say so! Don’t incentivize it!But nice girls didn’t say things like that. “Sometimes I feel like an English Lit major who got rich writing ‘My Stepbrother the Billionaire Were-dinosaur’ erotica. No complaints about the money, but I want to do more.” “The government can give you the freedom to step off a cliff. Nobody can give you the freedom to step back on it.” “The United States of America has never ceded territory to a foreign power in its history, and Carolyn Camberg wants to cede our most valuable lands to Davy Jones! She’s a quisling for the fish!” “Watching Congress in action is like watching pandas f***. You wait forever for them to do something and then they do it wrong.” “You and your friends had a debate about ethics? I am aflame with morbid curiosity.”

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