Of Earth and Ice – Ep 3

Of Earth and Ice

a sci-fi web-serial

by Jeremy C Kester

edited by Beth Townsend-Smith

3: Steadied

Evie steadied herself.  This was her first time attempting to walk since waking up in the clinic.  She’d never imagined having to adjust to using a prosthetic limb, but given the circumstances she was eager to try anything that would allow her to prove herself.

She was in a strange position.  Being the only member of her caste ever awarded an officer’s rank, she felt vulnerable.  She was a target.  Everyone wanted her to fail.  Even her own caste wanted her to renounce her rank and fall back in line.

Only Gerald was anxious for Evie’s success.

The prosthesis was uncomfortable.  It was ill-fitted but long enough to replace the bottom half of her leg. She had lost it up to the knee. Given the limited resources, there weren’t many alternatives for her.  Her legs quivered as she placed her weight firmly on the ground.

“Take your time,” her therapist, Jo, urged. Although he tried to sound compassionate, his tone did not translate. “This isn’t going to happen quickly for you.”

Evie ignored him.  She had no interest in listening to anything that she felt might encourage her to give in.  The hard socket chafed against the soft padding of the gauze.  Though it had been weeks now since losing her limb, the wounds all felt fresh. She winced as she shifted forward, trying to take the step.  Before she knew it, she felt herself falling.

Jo rushed over to his patient, who was now on the floor cursing loudly.  “It’s alright,” he tried to say reassuringly, before getting hit with an elbow as the young woman threw her arms back in an attempt to recover her balance.

Unable to get up, she instead spun around and sat down on the ground.  She unbuckled the straps from around her thigh and threw the prosthesis across the room.  “FUCK YOU!” she screamed. “FUCK YOU!”

Hand on his face, Jo looked exasperatedly at the young girl.  For weeks he had been working with her just to reach this point.  He knew that Evie was stubborn, but he had hoped that she would understand the painful and slow reality of the process of learning to walk again.

Only two castes above Evie’s own, Jo, like most of the people in the colony, remained steadfast in their dislike for Evie’s kind.  He reasoned that she should feel damn lucky for an Iradile .  Any other of her caste would have been left out in the cold.  Why does this scum get treated any different?  She should know her place.

He wanted to take her in for the blow to his jaw, but such accusations wouldn’t work against an officer.  Militia rules superseded social law.  But Iradiles were not supposed to be officers.

“You need to take your time.  It will not happen on the first try.”  Jo’s voice was stern and angry.

“I don’t need to take any goddamn time!  I need to walk!” she yelled, commandingly.  “Help me or leave, but don’t you dare hold me back!”  She glared at him.  Jo could only focus on the tattoo above her eye.  The mark of the Iradile.  It made him angrier.

Not saying a word, Jo turned and walked out of the room.  It was as Evie expected, though it hurt her the same.

Alone, Evie began to cry.  It was the first time in a long while that she felt comfortable enough to do so.  She let the tears drop on to the floor, leaving perfect little circles of moisture. She watched them carefully as she regained her focus.  She allowed herself to feel pity for only a moment.  No one else besides Gerald would do so, and she was not going to allow herself to be swallowed by it.

She wiped the tears away, her hands shaking.  They were still bandaged, as well, save the fingers she had remaining.  As they grazed past her eyes, she saw them.  The tips of her fingernails were white, something that she had never noticed before. She never was able to get them that clean before.  The grime that usually coated her nail beds had previously left them almost permanently black.

Shaking herself, she crawled over to the bed and pulled herself up as best as she could.  She grunted and hissed from the seething pain.  The wounds were not healed enough and she was no longer allowed any medication for the pain.  Such comforts had been allotted to her only briefly and swiftly taken away.  She swore that, if they could have, they’d have somehow harvested back what they had put into her body.  It was only her rank that had graced her with the bare minimum of relief.

Once on her foot, she pushed herself away from the support of the bed and simply stood.  She didn’t move; she just stood, letting her mind focus on the pain and the quiet of the room.

She could hear the hum of the reactors through the thick concrete of the colony.  It was where the warmth was generated from.  Evie was used to the cold, though, or at least she was used to less heat. She wavered a little as she forgot that she was concentrating on balancing.  Already her leg was beginning to quake from standing.  She wasn’t strong enough, but she knew that if she wasn’t able to make it happen, she was doomed.


Previous Episode: 2 – Deep Sigh

Next Episode: 4 – coming on February 18 2015

Follow the Path (or don’t)

Here I stand in the middle of a jungle. In my hand, I hold a machete. Surrounding me are the many paths others have carved into the landscape.

And I am tempted.

I am tempted to follow them rather than reach up with my blade and slash at the landscape.  Laying my footprints into the tracks laid by another seems so much simpler.  There’s less thinking involved.  The hard work has already been completed.

I’ve been struggling with this concept for years.

The further I get into my writing and the closer I come to getting noticed, the temptation becomes greater to just copy the actions of the others that came before me.  Why not?  It worked for them, didn’t it?

What I don’t see, and I am sure that so many others don’t see, is how many others followed these paths without reaping a single benefit?  Sure, we can argue for the degree of effort that one may or may not have put in.  We can argue talent.  There’s any number of aspects that we can debate.  Simply put though, for every path out there laid by another who found success, there are countless numbers of people who gained nothing by following.

Guessing at that doesn’t help quelch the temptation to follow though.

The best that I have been able to figure is that success is a combination of luck, ingenuity, effort, luck (enough of a factor to say twice), skill, capacity to learn, timing, and other mysterious forces.  The right combination of each will result in success.

So to follow, or not to follow?

Maybe I’ll do a little of both.  There’s got to be something valuable to learn from either choice.


Weekly Update: January 11 2015

Did you update your blog? How about updating our relationship?The General Update

It’s the new year, I am a year older, and yet routine has not returned quite yet. There is much to be said about routine and my ability to write. Knowing that I already struggle with managing my time with regards to writing, it is more difficult when my life is out of sync. Even the weather played its hand in mucking everything up. Despite the struggle, I am dragging myself through the muck trying to keep moving forward, even if it is just by a little bit.

Music of the week

Chvrches gets this one again as I just cannot get them off of my rotation. I am obsessed. This week has been their track “Dead Air” from the Mockingjay soundtrack.

WIP it

My story, The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle has been my main focus of late as I try to put this project to rest once and for all. I’d really like a mid-2015 release and I believe that it can happen so long as I push myself hard enough. It will be a 5 book series, but book 1 needs to happen first.

The remaining works that I have in my WIP are only on hold until I can get the first draft of Agnes done. Then it will be a heavy mix of editing and working on next phase WIPs.

Currently Reading

Nothing. Academ’s Fury is on my table, but what little time I get to even write, reading took a back seat for a little bit. I will power through it.

Motivational Message

Mistakes are proof that you are trying. – unknown

WIP Statuses

(links to source)
(links to source)

So far so good. 2015 is starting out a little rough, but it is looking like I can get things on track.

Not that anyone is fully vested in their interest over this, but here are a few snippets of what my statuses are regarding my numerous writing projects:

First, the 5 I have grouped to be published in a giant proverbial wave (Est mid 2015).

  1. “The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle,” a novel that will kick off a 5-book saga, is quickly nearing the halfway point. It is moving consistently, and I am liking where the story is progressing. I had even come into a few ideas lately that suit it well.
  2. Untitled (possibly will end up titled “Good Teacher”), a stand-alone novel, is technically somewhere in its 15th draft or something-or-another. I’ve changed the title of it a number of times as well before calling it untitled. I wrote it over 10 years ago and just allowed it to lock up in that I am never happy with it realm. Recently I decided to wrap up this last draft and move on. I am going to pop it out with the rest and see if it sticks.
  3. “Into Fire’s Den” is a fantasy short story that may or may not kick into a 3 book series
    (I haven’t decided if I am that ambitious or stupid yet) is complete and ready to go.
  4. “XY,” a short story, is nearing completion. This follows a gay couple about to have their first child.
  5. Finally, “Gravity 3” still stands at about 95% complete on the first draft. It hasn’t moved much beyond my tightening up what has been written so far.
(links to source)
(links to source)

These 5 are my primary focus. Once the drafts are complete, 1, 4, and 5 will all go out for alpha reads and initial edits. Then it’ll be the beta reads and final edits prior to publishing. During that time, I’ll work on cover, blurbs, and initial marketing plans while also working on these:

  • “Tunnel Rats,” a short story, is already close to about 25% complete. It is an interesting one to write as it is a fantasy story that quickly turned into an experiment in fantasy erotica due to the relationship of two of the characters. This will have a planned release 1 month after the above 5.
  • Gravity 4 will be slated for the 2nd month for release. It is 5% complete and planned out.
  • “Demon Whispers,” a novel, has its first draft completed. I wrote this one even before #2 (the untitled) above. I haven’t revised anything on it even once. This will be planned for the 3rd month.
  • “Antlers,” a novella or short novel, will land around 30 to 40 thousand words when complete. It is running around 7K at the moment I am coming close to getting into the meat of the story. It will follow a hunter lost in the Alaskan wilderness. I am shooting for (but cannot promise) a late November 2015 release.
  • 6 other stories are in various stages of WIP and will be planned out after the initial release as I figure out my progress on each. They include Agnes 2, Gravity 5, two sci-fi horror/thrillers (one novel and one short story), an action/suspense novel, and another sci-fi short story.

What I uncovered in my recent introspection was that I have A LOT of work already done and spread out over many different projects. I’ve been working on gaining more and more focus to complete these as well as getting my habits back in check.  I am surprised at what I can do, so I am pushing for it. Don’t expect me to get on social networks any time soon either. This is too important for me to distract myself with other things any longer (I am looking at you facebook, twitter, and others).


This guy who writes stuff for you to read…