An idea... (or: Economous Musgrove Chapter 1 Part 1)

6:16 PM Anis Widayanti 0 Comments

I just had a crazy thought: I have an m/s that has not gone anywhere for a long while so perhaps I could share it with you all 500? 1000? words at a time. Perhaps feedback might get it moving? Perhaps it might be cool to let you all roam the Half-Continent again?

It will be un-edited, first-drafty (draughty - holes in it, get it?), and like un-spellchecked (not a real verb) but what do you think? Will the format of this blog make it too hard to read? 500 words? 1000 words? Any other problems? Benefits?

Here is a sample to get things rolling and see how it works... (about 1100 words, too much?)


© D.M.Cornish

1st Draft, June 2011-August 2013

1 ~ In the Park

fabulist ~ an imagineer – a maker of images by stylus, paint, charcoal or any other medium – employed by monster-hunting teratologists to go with them upon their dangerous exploits, observe their daring and make drawings and etchings of the same to prove to safe-living city folk of their praise-worthy prowess. Being a fabulist means therefore sharing all the dangers and hardships of your patron teratologist, and with it some hope of a healthy share of the accompanying rewards. For the true imagineer, however, it is not the promise of wealth that is the greatest draw, but the challenge of placing yourself in the very midst of the danger to draw a duel between patron and monster, and capture the as truly as possible at the very height and thrill of the violence.

Economous Musgrove, illustrator, some-time concometrist and would-be fabulist, sat quietly on a simple bench a little way in from the east gate of the Moldwood Park in the grand and ancient city of Brandenbrass and drew. He was well aware of the cleveland’s solemn reputation as a queer and unpleasant place, preserved by some ancient bond and stubbornly threwdish, despite centuries of encirclement by one of the world’s great cities. Indeed, surrounded by buzzing bugs and drifting pollens, he could feel a subtle watchfulness that he now called normal, brooding from the dark spaces between the olives and sycamores and black turpentines shaggy with yellowing lichens. It did not seem so unpleasant a sensation to him as most other folk complained upon. In truth – though he dare not admit it to anyone not even Asthetica, his true love – Economous actually liked the feeling of threwd here, as slight as it may have been. He found it a small but important thrill, giving him a taste of life as perhaps it ought to be: deep, perhaps impenetrable and impossibly vital – the stark opposite of the frustrating inertia that seemed to drag at his own days.

Barefoot, Economous sat now – shoes under his proofed frockcoat on the bench beside him – drawing nooks and boles, birds and all manner of crawling things that came his way. Most of all though, he drew the myriad rabbits great and small that so famously and helpfully infested this city-bound woodland. Loping from shadow to shadow, ears switchin ceaselessly forward and back, they grew bolder the longer he sat there, venturing from folds of thick cabage weed to wriggle their stunt noses at him. Though never able to pay him for his trouble, these nervous restless creatures were far less self-conscious or suspicious or given to offence than the people of this fair city, and they made excellent subjects to draught.

In dull blue-grey weskit and cotton shirt sleave rolled to elbow in the late spring heat, Economous strove to get every rabbit he spied down in the very midst of motion with both the speed and accuracy required for  the drawing of teratologists and their deadly exploits. He could have sat on any street or lane in the city itself to observe these, for Brandenbrass was famously over-run with the creatures, even to the obvious and peculiar exlusion of the far more usual rat that gnawed away at other cities. But where they were furtive, twitchy and quick to flight in the common ways, in the cool calm of the Moldwood the city-living rabbits were – contrary to all cause – calm and almost tame.

Today, however, his usually quiet, long-eared companions seemed unusually restless, making themselves hard to draw as they scampered among the roots and leaves, bounding over each other, breaking out in energetic scuffles Economous had never previously witnessed. They were bolder too, some daring to graze and frolic right up by his seat, while out of the deeper shades of the park more rabbits emerged, playing all about him now in such numbers that set Economous to marvelling.

Perhaps their spring-time broods have come out to join them?

Yet he could not see any small-bodied, big-eyed, short-eared bunnies among the great variety of creatures gathered, nor even one slender leveret. They were all – as far as he could reckon it – full grown rabbits.

Economous paused for a moment, leaning back and rubbing his eyes against the strain of concentration to which they had been subject for the last two hours.

Though rigourously schooled as a concometrists at the athenaeum, he spent much of his apprenticeship drawing rather than measuring or reading or recording as he was supposed to do. And though he had at the end of his five years there been granted a numrelogue to record measurements and earned his calibrator – the thick yard long ruler that was both weapon and tool of a concometrist’s trade, much of what his exasperated masters had sought to squeeze into his intellectuals had simply gone in his ears and run out of his eyes. Little now seemed left behind of his learning but some vague reckoning of the tribes into which habilists divided all beasts, a modicum of Tutin – the language of scholarship and the Empire – and page upon page of unauthorised drawings. It had felt like a false start as he left the athy and made for the great and shining prospects of Brandenbrass and after missteps and blank leads, it still felt like it now.

For, no matter how he tried these two years gone since departing Athingdon Athenaeum, he had failed to gain any momentum as a full-fledge fabulist: drafting, etching and daubing his way from one client to the next upon the headway of an ever-increasing set of references of ever-increaing excellence. Though he had been considered many many times, he had only been on three true hunts. He had thrilled at the chase and stood astonished at the wonder and dread of the snarling cornered beasts they sought, capturing the wild things with far greater passion than he drew the exploits of his actual human patron. Unfortunately, upon the last hunt – now nigh on a year gone –in his eagerness to fully render the small, wizzened, almost pathetically child-like bogle they were chasing, he thoughtlessly got in the teratologist’s way thus allowing the little creature to win free and escape. Though they searched for a week it was never to be found again. Foiled, the hunt had returned to the city empty-handed where – deprived of his prize – the teratologist gave Economous so bad a report that it swiftly spread into an awkward reputation. This poor name went well ahead of the would-be fabulist, so bringing him to this present paucity of work. Still, Economous was not about to let himself be so simply prevented. Ever since his earliest years his way had not been as every other soul’s, and regardless of anyone else's interventions, he was not about to let one mistake ruin his own chosen course of life.