Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

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Ballantine (Excerpt from Across the Seven Continents of the Underworld)

Yesterday I had a good day working on Across the Seven Continents of the Underworld, with everything slotting into place as I worked. It's a nice feeling when that happens--some days you get it, some days you don't, y'know?

At any rate, I thought I'd put a section up here, for no other reason than I really liked the paragraph describing the mortician Ballantine.

When Brady left Port Tahurr for Airotciv three days later, he did so in narrow, paid cabin aboard The Five Hearts of Betty that Ballantine had organised for him.

From what Brady understood, after the mortician had finished marking his skin, and while the former had returned to his gazebo room to lock himself in the still warmth inside, the elderly man had walked down to the docks. He had dressed himself in his heavy blacks and sweated unnecessarily for the entire walk. That he did not change to the lighter clothing that was common in Ailartsua, Brady believed, revealed a quality about the man: one that spoke of an immovable, undeniable sense of righteousness and surety in himself. There was a part of Ballantine that spoke of stopped growth, of a man who had reached an ideal point of self awareness and then, as if that were the end in the way a painting might end, had stopped allowing any new influence upon himself. No new colours and textures needed to be added. He knew where it was that he stood in the world and, within that knowledge, he knew what took precedence in life. He was a man, Brady believed, who did not view the individual as being important at all, but rather viewed the indescribable, unimaginable celestial individual that gave him purpose as the authority from who all importance flowed. The thought—a rare piece of detailed cynicism, in fact—had occurred to Brady when the old man had walked through the sweltering, red skied afternoon heat to Brady's gazebo where, through the closed door, Ballantine told him that passage across the strait had been booked.

Once he had left, Brady wondered how long Ballantine would have waited outside if he had not pulled back the curtain to reveal the sweat stained figure? An hour? A night? As long as was required, he suspected, and he felt irritated by knowledge, as if he were nothing but a tool for the mortician. He was not wrong in thinking that, he knew, and that increased his dislike for the man, though he had not yet figured out why, exactly.

The usual things apply: early version, book not finished, what's spell check, blah blah blah. Chances are this could get scraped out entirely, and most likely it'll be rewritten, but with all that taken into account, I liked it. It felt good. It was the book's voice, coming effortlessly.

If you're curious, I'm about twenty thousand words into it.

Tags: acrossthesevencontinentsoftheunderworld

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