I’m putting together an outline for my NaNoWriMo novel and decided that Twain would make an appearance in the story. So, I did some research on Twain, his writing, and quotes. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Ideally a book would have no order to it, and the reader would have to discover his own.
- Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
- The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
- The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.
- The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.
- Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself.
- You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
The last strains of Mimi and Rondolfo’s final duet, Annie’s favorite from La Boheme, drifted past her. She could barely raise her head to watch as Mimi died in her lover’s arms. A smile twitched at the corners of her mouth at the irony. Her own lover, Jack, slumped over the edge of his chair about a foot away. She couldn’t tell if he was breathing or not. The virus she had unleashed moments ago had worked its deadly magic on his body faster, probably due to his quicker metabolism. Something to think about later, if they survived.
What have you done?
Annie ignored the whisper that eeled its way through her mind and concentrated on the actors on the ad hoc stage. They had slid to the floor as had the rest of the audience. It was a sight that made her glad.
Annie. Answer me. What have you done?
She sighed and replied, Isn’t it obvious. I’m killing us.
Why? What have I done to you to deserve this?
Done? You enslaved us, that’s what you did!, she raged, But you picked the wrong species to fuck with.
A year ago her team had been brought into a secure location to study a large meteorite found beneath the surface of the Earth. In the warmth of their lab, it had begun to fall apart and the debris came to life. Annie had managed to hit the panic button and lock down the facility before she was overcome.
When she woke up, the Chyrl that had implanted itself at the base of her neck had introduced itself. It thanked her for saving his people and, in return, was happy to offer them a variety of technologies in repayment. As a xenobiologist, she was thrilled at the discovery. And, secretly, glad of the 12 month lockdown she had initiated. They had plenty of food and water to last them the year. She could study this new species to her hearts content.
She finally managed to calm down the rest of the team and accept their “guests”. And over a month, they eventually had. And that’s when the promised technology was given to them.
It was truly wondrous. They were given plans for a cold fusion reactor, which made Jack giddy with excitement. He had a working prototype in his section of the lab. Others had been given plans to create a variety of things like energy weapons and stable wormholes.
Then, Annie had figured out how to integrate the plans her Chryl had given to her for nannite production into the perfect energy producer: the human body. It effectively stopped the aging process in its track and, as a side benefit, healed injuries within moments. Everyone clamored for a dose of nannites after that. Jack had joked that it was eternal life in a bottle but Annie wasn’t so sure. She kept telling them she needed to test it further but was overridden by her Chryl. After all, why would they give her people a technology that would hurt them?
Then began the games. At first, it was just chess tournaments. Then the Chryl, fascinated by paintball, asked to play that. Annie and her team agreed, after all, hadn’t the Chryl given them so much? It wasn’t until they found Bobby and Maris dead of gun shot wounds and their Chryl dead on the floor next to them that they realized that the games had gone too far.
When questioned, the Chryl admitted that they had been preparing the scientists for a war that their previous hosts had failed to win. The deaths were an aberration and the nannites would now take death of gun shots into account. When the scientists refused to continue, the Chryl took over their bodies and forced them to train. Annie, under her Chryl’s influence, upgraded the nannites to be quicker and impervious to physical trauma.
It was Lillian who discovered that she could hear the minds of her fellow scientists. But it was Jack who realized that the Chryl couldn’t hear them. Annie figured that the Chryl opened up that particular brain channel when they implanted themselves in the humans. After confirmation of that fact with a discussion with her Chryl about previous hosts and telepathy, a plan was hatched to rid themselves of the Chryl.
During the short time they had when each Chryl slept, the scientists had gone to work on a way to kill their parasites. It had taken months to develop the virus and to put the plan into place. They had to work around the ever vigilance of the aliens and survive the war games that had become increasingly violent as the months past.
During a deadly match between herself and Jack, Annie mentioned to her parasite that she much preferred opera to games. The Chryl, fascinated by her description, demanded that they put on an opera. Seeing an opening, Annie readily gave in to his demands and now she was dying.
But we gave you everything. All we needed was your help.
You should have asked, then, not taken. The edges of Annie’s vision blackened and the last thing she heard was the Chryl calling her name.
She opened her eyes and found herself pressed to Jack’s chest. She raised a shaky hand and felt for the Chryl at the back of her neck. It was gone. She pushed against Jack’s chest. “Let me breath, Jack.” His arms eased and she looked into his face. He had been crying.
“You scared the hell out of me, woman,” he said. “We couldn’t get you to wake up. Some plan.” A tear dripped off of his chin and landed on her cheek.
“The plan is good. Trust me. Plus I’m alive aren’t I?” Annie pulled Jack’s head down and kissed him long and hard. A bit breathless, she pulled away. “Are all the Chryl dead?”
“As doornails just according to plan.” Jack sat back against the wall. Annie’s face was solemn when she laid her head against his chest. She didn’t want him to see the sheer relief on her face. His arms went around her slowly as he said, “So, Brain, what are we going to do tonight?”
Annie laughed into his shirt. “Why, what we do everynight, Pinky. We take over the world.”
That was, after all, the point of their plan.
O for a Booke and a shadie nooke, eyther in-a-doore or out;
With the grene leaves whisp’ring overhede, or the Street’s cryes all about.
Where I maie Reade all at my ease, both of the Newe and Olde;
For a jollie goode Booke whereon to looke is better to me than Golde.
— John Wilson