Works in Progress

I always have far too many works in progress – more than I will list here – but here is what I am currently focusing on, roughly in order of attention:

Murder on the Infernal Express (Novel)
Synopsis: Hannah was always a good person. Imagine her surprise, then, when she winds up in Hell following her death, temporarily saved from the attention of its devils and  demons by her long-deceased mother. When she runs away from the stifling survivalism of the Free Souls of Purgatory, she stumbles into a world of infernal intrigue on board Charon’s famous luxury express line across the Nine Realms of Hell, discovering that Hell – and its devils and demons – are not quite what she had imagined.

This work is heavily inspired by Fallen London, Baccano!’s Grand Punk Railroad storyline, as well as Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Greek theologies.

Excerpt: All that Hannah remembered of her death was a blinding flash of light, whiter and purer than anything she had ever seen. Then there was a fall, and a great pain. Screams crashed into her ears, and terrible beasts, celestial and infernal, flew the skies and stalked the grounds. A hand grabbed her and pulled her away; she recognized the face of her long-dead mother, as young and pockmarked as she always remembered it, attached to the hand, and followed it. A sea of humanity swelled around her, raising their voices in a cacophony of terror, confusion, and pain. She focused on her mother’s hand, and let herself be pulled through the ocean of of grasping hands and frantic faces.

Seven eternities later and Hannah was free. Her mother pulled her up into an old cargo train car. Other humans jumped in along with them, until the car was packed to more than capacity. With a lurch, the train moved, and Hannah permitted herself to look outside. She saw people everywhere. Most were running or hiding from the horned demons that chased them through the black trees of the forest, shrieking as they were netted, speared, and trapped by their infernal hunters. Occasionally, in the skies a winged demon would clash with a burning wheel of wings and eyes, which would carry off a human occasionally. One such wheel dove down towards the train, towards the cargo car that Hannah and her mother were packed in. Its two dozen eyes fixed their gazes on Hannah, and she drowned, her lungs filling with water and her breath catching.
Then the burning wheel was gone, plummeting towards the earth, followed by a particularly draconic demonic figure. Hannah’s lungs cleared, and she took a deep, shuddering breath of stagnant air. The train pulled away more quickly, and the chaos quickly fell out of sight and out of sound.

Hannah’s mother squeezed her hand, and Hannah turned to look at her. Hannah’s mother had died when Hannah was ten, but looked exactly the same, except shorter. “My, how you’ve grown!” Hannah’s mother flashed her a toothy grin as she looked up at her daughter. “I never dreamed I would get to live to see the day when my daughter would look down on me!” The grin vanished as quickly as it appeared. “Though I suppose ‘lived’ isn’t the right word, now is it?”

Hannah’s voice caught in her throat. She wanted more than anything to give mer mom a hug, but she held back. “Is this… the afterlife, then?”

“Oh, it’s worse than that,” Hannah’s mother said, elbowing a stooping gentleman who was leaning too heavily on her. “This is the place of eternal punishment.” She beamed up at her daughter. “Welcome to Hell, sweetie.”

Current Progress: Extensive worldbuilding and outlining of the first chapters.

Sundering Stars (Novel)
Synopsis: The Covenant of the Starry Sky is in crisis as a powerful, and previously hostile, starfaring civilization seeks entry into the Covenant. As the ties that bind the Covenant together start to fall apart, elderly diplomat and retired stateswoman Adaku Oni finds herself at the forefront of efforts to preserve the peace of the stars.

Meanwhile, Maria Holstead, a decorated combat veteran and businesswoman afraid of increasing “xeno” influence on humanity, seeks to win the Presidency of the Republic of Humankind to put humans first again. She quickly findfalling ever deeper into a cycle of fear and hatred, spurred on by the human supremacist groups she inspires to back her candidacy. As she falls, she stumbles into a world of terrible secrets that could destroy humanity’s place of honor in the Covenant.

On the frontiers of the Republic of Humanity, the young Survey Captain Shirin Isfandiyar is leading her first mission on the unexplored gas giant Marenimbus. When she discovers sentient non-starfaring life there, she is at first overjoyed to be able to help them see the universe beyond the stars… but when she discovers that they have a powerful ability that could destroy the Covenant’s fundamental understanding of the universe, she finds herself defending the fledgling race against those who would use their power to break the Covenant’s fragile peace, and sunder the stars once more.

Current Progress: Check back in later!

Sea of Souls (Short Novel/Novella)
Synopsis: Kairem is an ancient soulfisher, never thinking about why he fishes for souls. Ryoji is a refugee dreampriest, never thinking about what it was that keeps the cities of the Soulcean intact. When the Fourth City crumbles into the sea of souls, Kairem and Ryoji are thrown together, and begin to unravel the mysteries behind their existence…

A novel(la) inspired by the game Sunless Sea, but taken in a very different – and possibly even darker – direction.

Current Progress: ~2600 words

The Woodsman (Novella/Novelette)
Synopsis: George and Jackie’s family have just moved into the woods, and their fellow townspeople have warned them about the grumpy old man who lives the next plot over. They find him nice enough, but the woods are another story…

Current Progress: ~7500 words.

(c) Z. M. Wilmot


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