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  • Writer's pictureShannon Rampe

Microblog - The Cutting Room Floor

One of the toughest things to do in writing is cutting words you love and leaving them behind. When I undertook to restructure and rewrite my current work in progress, The Radiant and the Corrupt, I had to discard 4 entire chapters, some of which contained some very entertaining writing. Maybe some of these pieces will slip back into the final text in a different form, but for now I thought I'd share with you a brief scene that got left behind in the dank recesses of my hard drive.


It was best to be asleep when crossing a threshold, but sometimes that wasn’t an option. And sometimes you awoke during a crossing.

Once, when he was around ten years old, Gen had been very sick. Feverish for three days, they told him later. All he remembered was existing in a delirious fugue that seemed to go on endlessly. Waking and sleeping were inseparable. His whole universe was chills and body-aches and the spinning timelessness of senseless thoughts that ran loops around one another, starting where they began so that there was neither beginning nor end.

That was what crossing the threshold was like as Su Li carved a hole in reality and slipped out of it, passing into that other that existed outside the physical bounds of the universe, which was called the Unbounded Realm. It was a place of infinite space and time, of seething horror and transcendent beauty, a place where greater intelligences and outer gods who lacked form and agency within the physical bounds of the universe could subsume and consume infinite territory into their beings. It was an impossibility, and its impossibility dictated that things from the physical universe should not exist there. Could not exist there.

At least, not for very long.

Which was acceptable, since Su Li did not dwell in this otherness any longer than necessary to fully exit the physical universe. Using the same unfathomable machinery of her gate-drive, she carved a hole in unreality and slipped through, back into the physical universe, hundreds of light years from where they had existed only seconds before.

However, those few seconds existed only in the physical universe; time didn’t exist in the same sense in the Unbounded Realm, or at least it didn’t feel like it. Which is why laying in a passage creche, fully conscious, Gen found himself lost in a fugue of waking dreams, maddeningly imprecise and circular, each thought-form leading back into itself like a snake eating its own tail.

The ship…Su Li…the cave beneath…the Castle…subterranean floors hidden for a millennium…an oath…a screaming voice…a Spirit of Grace…blood dripping from a blade…passing through a doorway…flight…a doorway…a gateway…passage through a gate…a ship with a gatedrive…the ship…Su Li…the cave beneath…the Castle…

And so on, ad infinitum, until the madness was over. Visions without coherence but weighted with significance that left Gen inevitably saddened and confused by the sense that he had failed to grasp something important.

He sat up, sweating and shaking. He didn’t vomit anymore. He’d been through the experience enough times that his body was accustomed to it at least. He took a drink of water and wiped the sweat from his brow.

“Passage completed,” Su Li said. “Gateway closed. Welcome to Lhusan.”


Thanks for reading! If you like weird stories of talking spaceships and dead gods, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. And if you like this excerpt, please share it on social media!

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