Slubes Cover Art and Beginning Excerpt!

Oh gosh! The cover art for Slubes is finished!

Slubes

Drawn by my friend Eli Manning Hedgington Somename Bock! Wee! It’s less ephemeral now!

I’m going to make it even further less un-non-ephemeral by posting the beginning of the novel!

Emptiness. All was emptiness. As far as the eye could see, emptiness. From the spot he stood at to the edge of the horizon, completely flat. The sky, white, as if whiteout had spilled all over it.

Still, it wasn’t completely boring. The floor, which felt like stiff cardboard, had a nice checkered pattern.

Okay, it was an ugly checkered pattern, a pale brown alternating light and dark, but at least it was different.

Either way, the fellow standing there hadn’t the time to think about the floor pattern. His name was Numer. He was a slube, an upright banana slug creature with bright, yellow skin.

Numer’s big, round eyes, resting on his head, scanned the horizon. Nothing had changed. His mouth quivered, extending out like two baguettes; the top one gave the appearance of a nose. He was clad in white, starting from his neck to the ground where his body became his tail. The sleeves went down to his hands.

Numer knew what was really going on. He knew that he was nothing more than a pawn in this game. An insignificant pawn, only there to be used by his superiors.

Numer began shaking. These thoughts made him nervous. He and the others were just fodder there. He had seen it happen to the other seven pawns. He was now the only one left. Soon, he, too, would take the fall for one of the other—

The pawn realized something was now racing across the horizon. Before he could tell what it was it changed direction. Now it was charging straight for him.

It was a knight—an armored slube riding a muscular, floating beast known as a herf. It was a majestic though legless creature with a body similar to that of a horse but the blubbery tail, fins, and head of a carp.

Okay, so it wasn’t majestic. It floundered about as it swam through the air, zigzagging like it was dancing drunk on a Friday night after a long day of hard work. The knight atop the herf prodded it constantly with his spurs to right the creature’s path.

The knight’s black armor told Numer that he was from the opposing army. Numer lifted his round hands in an offensive stance. He wasn’t going down without a fight.

That is, he wasn’t going down without cowering first. Numer turned around with eyes shut tight and covered his head with his hands. The knight was coming too fast. He couldn’t stand up to one. He was certainly a goner. He-

The herf cried out with a blubbery neigh, interrupting Numer’s thoughts. Turning around, he saw the enemy knight collapsed on the floor and the herf wobbling about.

Numer’s eyes lit up; he saw the most beautiful, glorious sight he’d seen since being dumped there: the queen, Cherry. She was an angel come from above to smite Numer’s assailant. Like Numer, she was dressed in white, but she also wore a white crown atop her head.

Numer thought she must have slammed into the herf with her tail, which slubes normally used to push themselves forward. The force must have sent the herf reeling and the knight crashing to the floor.

The knight and herf shattered into tiny pieces. Cherry turned to Numer and asked, “You’re the last remaining pawn, right?”

Numer stammered nonsense, unable to assemble his thoughts before her majesty. Finally he got out a feeble, “Yes.”

Cherry grabbed his hand—it was wet[1]—and began to drag him away. His heart raced and he almost went limp. “Then come with me. We’re making you into another queen.”

“Me? A queen? But I wouldn’t be good for a position of power, I’m not up to that task, I’m not even a, but—but—but—”

They screamed. The world around them jerked up; the tile they were on had dropped open into a pit. They plummeted until the universe stopped existing.

When it again existed, they found themselves on an orange rectangle. Instead of a checkerboard, they could see a line of rectangles—four lines making a square with a large field in the center.

“Where are we?” Numer asked. Ahead of them, several vehicles were parked.

Cherry read a sign on the orange rectangle. “It looks like we’re at… New York Avenue.”

“I’ve never heard of it,” Numer said.

“Well, howdy there!” The two slubes turned and saw what appeared to be a thimble. It was their height, made of pewter, and wore a pewter top hat. “I see you landed on my space!”

“Your space?” Numer asked (somehow not unnerved that he was talking to a giant thimble).

“Yup, I own it. And you see that building, there?” Next to the field stood a red hotel made of plastic. It was no taller than Numer. “That’s my hotel. For landing on my space, you owe me one thousand dollars!”

“We what!?”

“What, just because we fell here?” Cherry asked.

“That’s the rules of the game,” the top hat-wearing thimble said. “Pay up!”

“But we don’t have any money! We don’t even have an economy where we’re from!” Numer said.

“Well, you’ll have to raise the money somehow. Until you do, I’ll be taking her as collateral.” A monster-sized, pewter-furred Scottish terrier emerged from the field like a pewter demon from pewter Hades. Everything’s pewter here, except for the hotels.

The dog, towering over everything, let out a piercing howl. Cherry screamed as it grabbed her with its monstrous jaw. The thimble hopped up onto the dog and it ran into the horizon.

“Wait, come back here!” Numer yelled. He began to chase after them, though he knew there was nothing he could do.

A police siren blared and Numer halted. To his left, a large, opaque cumulus cloud was in the sky flashing blue and red lights. It flew across the board and landed nearby. A hole opened up and an identical but smaller cloud flew out. Accompanied by it was a blue game piece shaped like a Chess pawn.

“There he is, officer,” said the blue game piece in an elderly woman’s voice.

“Are you sure he’s the culprit?” asked the cloud.

“I’m positive! The murderer was none other than Numer, in New York Avenue, with the bologna sandwich!”

“What!?”

Okay, I’m going to stop now. You should have figured out this was a dream pages ago. This thing goes on and on and on. We can’t spend pages on something that’s not really happening.

Sure we can! This dream is full of symbolism and character exposivelopment and fun stuff like that!

It’s nonsense! It’s board game nonsense! Nobody wants to read about ridiculous dreams for twenty pages!

Then they can read us arguing for twenty pages!

Not that, either.

All right, all right. Let’s move on.


[1] Despite them being related to slugs, “wet” is not a normal state for their skin to be in.

Tomorrow, some explanation, and later, maybe actual story!

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