Describe Your Desk

As part of an interview with Cage Dunn, the question/statement came up, and this is the response:

Describe your desk

Where did it go? A pile of paper here, folders, clipboards, pens, pencils, two – no, three Garfield stickers, coffee (it’s tea really, but I like to think of it as coffee).
I’m sure it’s brown under there, but it hasn’t seen the light of day for a while, so who knows?
And my glasses – where did they get to? Shrug. They’ll turn up one day. Maybe. Do I have a spare?


My desk is my little escape pod, my life away from life. It has all the things I need to survive for the day (day equals 0700 to 1400 hours, because after that it’s too bright and the sun shines right on the screen – and I will not close the blinds!).

I have the coffee/tea/water to keep the machine operational. There are two boxes piled on top of the camel chair which contain the things I need to draw ideas out – crayons, chalk, pencils, water-colours, etc. and some blank-page books. That’s a critical element of my desk, even though it’s not on my desk. There’s the small and low table that’s right next to and partially under my desk, and on that are the bits of scribbles to do with each story in it’s unique section of the cycle – oh, you don’t know about the cycle? Want to? Okay, the Cycle: I work on a piece, get it to a certain stage, number and version it, then put it into a folder in the order of the number I give it (I can cheat, so if it’s really exciting, it can go closer to the top). And it stays in bed until I get to the point in the current WIP (that’s Work in Progress) where I need to break the head-space away for a while (jammed or unproductive). So it comes out again, gets some work done, maybe a few scenes, or even a whole Act, or maybe even some research and notes. Then it goes back and I can return to the current WIP refreshed, clean in mind and spirit.

Now, my desk! The small table (it was a coffee-table once, but it has a new life now as keeper of the story-cycle). Anyway – the desk itself. I’m sure it was brown once, and maybe it was even a kitchen table once. Not now. Now it is butter yellow (in patches) where the stain is worn away, it has a board hanging off the side (the small story-board) and the nasty but necessary multiple-pronged thing to stick electric plugs into (the one that stops the computer frying in the case of … the things that happen to electricity supply in Adelaide, Australia).

There’s the phone of course (but I don’t answer it during the work-time, so there’s no volume to it), there’s the screen cleaning cloth, there’s the four pairs of glasses (the usual distance glasses, the multi-focals, the screen glasses and the reading glasses – does that say I’m old, or is this the norm these days?). There are printouts of the BS (Beat Sheet) for the current WIP, sometimes the follow-up CofE (Chain of Events) page that lays out each Action for the Act I’m working on, and a few pens, pencils and rulers (yes, to make noise!).

Anything else?

Oh, the lamp! No, don’t have one. There’s a window, and enough light to work (even in Winter, except for maybe the first hour) from the natural light. Why? Because it costs less to use the daylight than it does to use electricity. I need to earn more money before I can be profligate with power – and even then, I think we have become habituated to using more than we need, so I would still use the window for light. I’m a morning person, so I work in the morning.

My desk has four legs, so I can lean on it, push it away in horror, disgust, or fear. It can balance me when I need it, and it holds my most important tool steady – the keyboard. Why not the screen? Because, when the story is hot, I can close my eyes and dance the words of story out there without even seeing it on screen – it’s all clearly visible (not in words) in my head! Who needs a screen for that?

Anyway, that’s my desk, and you may note there’s no printer. That’s because I placed it on someone else’s desk so it wouldn’t take up the space I need to make my own mess.

Copyright 2017 5bayby14u


An Excerpt


Chapter 2

Day Fifty-Nine-One of 4001 Cycle News Feed: Ruling Enzi Outline

“Today’s news feed outlines an act of terror by the New Men Terror Group at the upper levels of Residential Apartment Living Complex for skilled-employ members in the city of Narowii. The main perpetrator exploded an illegal weapon that killed two MilPolits members. The blast destroyed four air-level-six-six-two apartments. Two bio-humans were injured.

Note: the main perpetrator, Ms Tiera Allen, Exxa-designate, is considered extremely dangerous and should not be approached. To assist the criminal would enact Exxa-designation to any participant, whether coerced with force or not.

The Ruling Enzi Family offers peace and harmony.”

None of her friends or associates would be of any help now that the news was out. A reward for information was posted on every site in the region. Tiera had no choice. She needed to disappear. News flashes popped up on every post, in every pane, on every reflective surface. The alerts flashed up so often that the night sky under the floats that held the upper levels aloft was as bright as early dusk. None of the street people would get any sleep, and it was all her fault. She walked past a couple who were too involved in each other to notice the shawl slide from the woman’s arm. That’s what she got for slumming – everyone knew Exxa’s stole everything. As Tiera walked into a darker, more fetid laneway, two street Exxa tried to grab it off her; she fought for it, kept it – she was more desperate. One of them looked at her face, dropped wide eyes from contact, and disappeared as fast as a DezDruz snorter.

It was cold. She had no shoes. No therm-ix outers. At least now there was something to wrap over her head; to hide her hair and partially obscure her facial ID tattoos. Some mud helped, too, even if it stank. Before this necessity, she’d never considered if dirt on the ground stank.

Of course it could, she just never considered it. Her life was clean, regulated. Everything happened at the right time, in the right place, in the right sequence. Her life was upper level – not down in the slums with the Exxa’s and the urchins and the drekkus.

Her parents told her stories of people forced to make other choices, to fight for the right to live. Tiera thought they were just stories, meant to scare recalcitrant children. Stories from the ancients; fables from another time and place, where nothing was sure and life was short. The main theme of the stories: how all cells fought to live; that humans were simply a collection of sentient cells. Her mother’s voice in her head brought tears that shivered on her muddy lashes, drizzled a line through the layers of dirt on her cheeks.

Move on, keep moving. Where? The dark alleys and laneways between the floats and grids were more ominous than the well-lit traders markets, but . . . could she go into such a public place? Would she be safe? Did she dare take a risk like that? The bright lights felt dangerous, menacing. There would be cam-ix – and most of the cam-ix were hidden, wouldn’t be visible to unenhanced eyesight, which she had, but it would still require her to be in their view as well.

Maybe she was wrong about everything. Life wasn’t safe. There was just a thin veneer of civilisation, and underneath it was always a fight for dominance. For power. Control. Why were there street people, urchins, lowers, Exxas, if everything was well ordered, well structured, well run, as stated in the Ruling Enzi daily rendition of life statements?

Why hadn’t she thought of this before now?

Tiera was now one of the outers, the Exxas, someone with no recourse to any legal representation. Technically, an Exxa-designate, because she still had her sub-dermals. Her links would be blocked, so the legal sub-d’s were of no use – drekkus! They’d track them!

Drekkus! Fequat! She should have thought of that. Vortex-worm – activate; obliterate all access points to her sub-d’s – all of them, for the moment. She could reactivate the necessary things later. When she found somewhere safe. There were other resources, but not too soon. Needed to ensure security protocols, and get close to a safe energy source. Later.

Why had her parents done this without her knowledge? Why make her a target? Not just Tiera, also themselves – who else? Those five women – were they dead because of this? Why?

It wasn’t what good people did. She was alone, on the streets, without access to any necessities. Oh, yes, and WANTED for murder and property destruction. And probably Terrorism drekkus. Anything else?

Feet in shoes tapped on the solid pebble-ix behind her. Stood still, waited for them to pass. They didn’t look. She couldn’t stay there. Needed to get out of sight. Moved into the deeper shadows. Time, a little time to think. Would have to do without food; hide in the vehicle until . . .

Who could she go to for help? Who would know a way out of this mess; or if that wasn’t possible, who would know how to make her into someone else? Make the old Tiera disappear? The way she made her dermal link disappear; the way she’d made her mini-hymag vehicle disappear?

The new program worked, and worked too well. Tiera almost knocked down a person who wandered casually along the pathway without looking. If she didn’t remember that her vehicle wasn’t visible to the human eye spectrum while the program was active, she’d be captured, taken in as exxa. It wouldn’t do her cause any good for another death or injury to get added to the list of her crimes. She hid the vehicle under a pile of wind-blown drekkus at the drain opening for excess water dispersal from the air-levels.

Her waste, yesterday.

Needed to be more careful, to consider the potential consequences of making a choice she was not sure of. Needed to be absolutely certain of everything if she wanted to live long enough to find . . . what? The purpose and reason behind it all. A good place to start. Absolutely necessary to think like an intelligent being. Like her parents, like . . .

His face popped into her mind without a blur, without hesitation. A clear picture, a sense of home and . . . pain. Loss and betrayal. He was a person who’d disappeared without a trace. Aren Hunter. The man who lost his reputation and career in one abrupt plunge into corruption should be able to do what a law-abiding citizen could not. The very last person she wanted to see. He didn’t need to know the real reasons, did he? If she kept the need insignificant, and just said something like . . . what?

What would be appropriate for a situation like this? A need for somewhere quiet to mourn? No. Her face was all over the news posts, all over the comms. Even street people looked away from her like she was more dangerous than MilPolits. Which she was.

Her life was in danger, with nowhere to go, and all her friends, acquaintances and colleagues would believe she’d murdered two MilPolits, because that’s what the news posts reported. Tiera would have to tell Aren the truth. She would have to lay herself bare. Take the scorn. Take help, any help, from anyone. Even him.

Now, how to get in touch with him?

An excerpt from a novel, copyright Cage Dunn 2016.


Cat’s Eye

“Put it back!”
“What for? It’s just a rock.”
“It’s not a rock, it’s a cat’s eye!” Punched the arm.
“More like a lizard-eye, if you ask me.”
“Put it back. Now. Before the wizard gets ya!”
“It’s just a story! There are no wizards, ya dumb bugger!”
“Are, too. And if’n it’s not a wizard, it’s a dragon!”
“Ya mad, and so’s ya da!” Thump.

The two boys fought; in the scuffle the stone fell to the ground, and they ran. Squeals and thumps and scattered stones followed them. Gone.

Pity. If he had a mouth to sigh, it would have been gutteral. Only a few minutes absorption of warm blood would be enough to reinvigorate, to be reborn. Even a weak thing like a human boy could be a vessel of life, and he could adapt from the initial life form – become once again what he truly was – given enough time. Always a matter of time.

The witch and her curse – when the day came, when the life returned, when he had a body – what he was going to do to that witch! Vengeance would be all the sweeter for the wait. He could keep her alive and screaming for centuries; use her screams to help him sleep, as he had not slept now for millennia. Rocks do not sleep. Rock eyes do not close.

The mind was aware; dulled, but aware. His eye could see the things around him, but not sense them any other way. No smell, no taste; the occasional sense of touch when he brushed up against a living creature.

The beasts left him alone; walked around his place; seemed to sense his mind. But the children – no; they came to tell each other stories of the ghost, of the beast, of the terror of being seen by the ‘eye’ – his eye. He just wanted one of them to be curious enough to put it in a pocket, to hold it for a few minutes, to give him enough time to breach the veil between stone and blood.

The dream. He dreamed it often. Food; fresh, tangy blood on his tongue, salt water on his skin as he cleaned the kill. A dream, not reality.

If the witch were here, still alive – he wondered if she would be, after all this time – he’d dream of her and the torments he could impose, but his dreams were of food – hunt, chase, kill; the preparation, taste, the sated sensation when sun-basking after.

The zoom on a glide through the air, to zone and cut the quarry, quarter the ground, herd until the beast was in the best place for the grip on its neck and back, the gnash of the teeth on the throat, the  . . .

If a rock could sigh, it would create a wind to blow all the rocks from the mountain as far as the ocean, the tiny blue speck that was visible on a clear day, so far away.

Wind! Of course. Movement. Here to there. More warm blood moved along the coast – did it have to be warm? It could be any living creature, he was sure. Almost sure. He could try. What harm could it do? Could he wait another millennia? No.

His mind was beginning to warp, changed with the solidness of the stone, with the rigidity of rock. Soon, his thoughts would become as still as the rock that imprisoned him. Already, his thoughts were slower, otherwise he would have thought of this escape sooner, much sooner.

The small stone with the eye of a lizard rolled a little, listed until other stones and loose earth moved it, or rolled it, or caught it up in the flow – and he moved, little by little, down the mountain, into the stream, and from the stream he flowed with the spring melt into the ocean.


Time and wind rolled him, ever downwards, to the sea.

The young woman held his hand, sang a sweet melody. Her body was lithe and strong, unlike the young man.

He sent his wish to her, showed her his bright side; the glint of gold and green. Enveloped her mind in a rush of warmth and lust as she placed the stone in the pocket of her skirt. He wasn’t close enough to the skin yet, but soon. Soon.

Heat and pain forced the touch of his cold stone against the pulse of her warm blood. The young lad only too eager to take her up on the offer. Hands groped and grasped; skirts lifted and spread – skin! He touched skin; hot, inflamed, lustful skin. The hearts beat, a rhythm of life. The eye merged with the beat, reached out with this new power, sucked on the juice of life – the young man’s body jerked and flopped.

She sat up, shoved him off. The blue eyes wavered, became green, glinted gold as she sneered at the weakling.

Akarta looked at the world through his new eyes. He exulted, lifted his arms to the sky and yelled – the world would know the true ruler was back. The young girl walked to the ocean. The body was not under his full control. What was wrong?

She dragged the body of her young man. She tossed him to the waves; would she leave him to the fish?

She did not. The water came up to her waist, up to her chin. She pushed the body in front of her as the feet came free of the sandy bottom. Akarta tried to exert his mind into hers. His mind met stone harder and colder than his own. He met the mind of . . .


The jagged reef captured the two bodies; small fish nibbled the flesh. The shiny glint of a stone with the eye of a lizard fell to the bottom, slid down the embankment, sludged down and down and down until the hot magma met him, absorbed him; claimed the rock that held his soul.

Copyright Cage Dunn 2016


A Short

A short story, that is. Wednesday is the day for a short story.

Practical Issues

Rain in the middle of summer. What did it mean? Was there a cyclone up north she didn’t know about? Should she be preparing the emergency kit – or at least checking that everything in it was still … good.

Lila didn’t have any excuse. No one told her what to do, where to go, how to think about things. She was on her own. Now. And she’d have to deal with a storm the way any normal, sane person would.

Check the things that needed checking. That would be the roof and gutters, the top of the tank, the sumps. Unclog or clear or shove the hose in to see if things worked the way they should to get rid of the excess water.

And next? Next she’d check the shutters – when was the last time she’d used them? Check for ease of use; for solidity; what else? Why didn’t she know the routine for checking something as simple as the window shutters?

Well, it couldn’t be hard; she’d figure it out with a bit of practice. After all, he’d managed and if he could do it, then she most definitely could. And she would.

The most important thing on her list of things to check before the storm, before the unusual bout of heavy summer rain, was the new protein supply for the chooks. It needed to stay dry.

Lila slogged up the rise to the first shed, pulled the door open and waited until she could see the back wall clearly. There, that one. The spade or shovel or whatever it was – that would do. Dragged it behind her as she climbed the rest of the sloping track to the first run for the chooks.

The tin shed with the supplies had a distinct aroma. Heavy, lead-like, coppery and slippery. Salty, too. Did she salt it before she dried it? Didn’t remember. A little bit of stress and the memory just flittered the unimportant bits to an ‘elsewhere’ slot in the brain.

That’s how it had been before. Not now. Now Lila needed to remember things carefully. Like, when people asked and only then, to say he’d gone to visit his last living relative. Must remember to say they were elderly and needed care and he was going to take care of them until it was ‘over’ and that she didn’t know when he’d be back.

Oh, she knew what they’d think – that he’d left her and she was too dumb to know it. And she’d spent hours in front of the mirror practising how to not respond to the looks and sighs. Couldn’t take a chance that someone would have even the tiniest suspicion. After all, the chooks needed the protein.

Copyright Cage Dunn 2017