>Flatland 09

>Being the ninth in a series charting the writing of a new fantasy detective story.

After a session of backtracking and rewriting, I now have fewer words than before and a better chance of getting this story on track. As planned, I’ve ramped up the intensity of the previously-written ‘seduction’ scene and combined it with the ‘residents meeting’ scene. The residents are now a creepy mob and I’ve changed the role of their leader (now called Mimas) to be more sympathetic. At the end of this scene, the femme fatale (now called Pheme) is kidnapped by the giant cockroach, leaving our PI hero to escape the mob along with Mimas and Edwin the janitor.

You may have noticed I’ve been juggling names. If you know your mythology, the names Mimas and Pheme may mean something to you, especially when you bear in mind the hint I dropped way back in my first Flatland blog entry that I fancied including Gaia as a character. I’ll give you no more clues than that, other than to say that Mimas and Pheme are brother and sister and Gaia’s at the heart of the mystery around which the story is built.

I now have a more robust set-up. The city’s been flattened, the PI’s been seduced and the woman he’s fallen for has been abducted. There’s an angry mob on his tail and all he’s got to fall back on are his wits and the company of the janitor and a devilishly handsome man who turns out to be the missing woman’s brother. The next scene will be set in the PI’s office, with Mimas delivering some essential exposition. It’s at this stage that the PI will take charge and start doing what he does best: unravelling the mystery and saving the girl.

Interestingly, the PI knows that he’s being seduced. Pheme is a sort of siren or lamia, and the PI knows it. But he gives in anyway because she reminds him of his dead wife. Which is deliberate on her part of course. What I haven’t yet decided is quite why he lets himself be seduced. Maybe he just can’t help himself, but I’d like to think he’s smarter than that – could be there’s something else on his agenda. Still, who can blame him for giving in when Pheme’s acting like this:

She took a step towards me. In her bare feet, she was exactly as tall as I was. Laura had been shorter by four inches. Her bottom lip was trembling. The robe came open again. She let it stay that way. She smelled of cinnamon.
And I knew that most of what she’d told me was a lie.
‘I’m so scared,’ she said. Her voice had turned husky. Her eyes had grown big. Her presence enveloped me. ‘Won’t you protect me?’
For a second, I had strangest feeling. It was like Pheme Bacall was everywhere, all at once. It was like I was running down a steep hill while warm water rose over my head. I tried to breathe but couldn’t. If I had, it would probably have killed me.
It was like I was drowning.
Laura!
A wind whipped up, lifted the robe. She stood wholly revealed beneath fluttering silk wings. There was more of her than seemed possible.
Smoke and mirrors, I told myself, drenched in her. Nothing about her’s real.
‘Help me,’ she sang. ‘I love you.’

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