During my recent melancholy state, a Facebook friend asked a fairly innocuous question, to wit:
“If Germany had done the Intelligent Thing, and sent the force which invaded Crete to Malta instead, where would the best landing sites be?”
This kind of kicked me in the slats, and I took off on a (probably excruciating) long-winded exposition regarding how bad of an idea that would have been, with a throw-away line in the middle that went like this:
So, perched on a wall over looking the Old City in Valletta are several translucent figures. Around a corner comes an ethereal shape of a Barbary pirate carrying a huge bowl of popcorn. “Did I miss it?” He gasps, sliding to a stop.
“Naw,” grunts a Phoenician mercenary, scratching irritably at his beard, “They’re still doing the boiling oil and red hot sand.”
The assembled figures watch as the grey-clad invaders fight their way into a narrow alley, away from the Medieval murder holes conveniently built 500 years prior in the apartments overlooking the narrow street.
There is a silence, as dozens of bags, none weighing more than a pound, arc off the flat roofs distant above the stone floor of the alley.
“Oooo,” choruses the group, as clouds of fine white dust billow up, and carried by the breeze channeled by the alley, drift over the German paratroopers.
Then the screaming starts.
In front of the ghosts, another figure, this one clad in the latest 1940s military kit, fades into view. A figure in a turban bounces off the parapet, produces a scroll and a bone pen, “When the powdered quicklime hit, did your eyes burn first, or was it your lungs?”
The German paratrooper stares wildly at the Ottoman, “What the [deleted]? What the [deleted]?”
“Don’t know what to tell you,” grunts the shade of a Roman centurion, “He’s an alchemist. Popcorn?”
The offer is refused, and the Roman shrugs, and tosses some into his mouth, “I really, really,” he chews firmly, “Hate this [deleted]ing island.”
Well, this apparently took firm hold of several people’s imaginations, and folks started writing stuff about Malta. Other folks started demanding an anthology, and ended up with Jonna Hayden (who has moved to Bugscuffle) taking me to lunch, and daring me to put one together.
Mostly to humour her and Herself, I asked on Facebook and MeWe if there were any interest in writing stories for a anthology about Malta; actually expecting to get between four and six stories; which would allow me to smile gently, opine that I had tried, and bin this idea.
When I checked the submission email address, what was in there, plus the stories being finished up …
… came to about twenty of them. And they were all good.
So, after I got done hyperventilating, I had a talk with the folks helping me put this together, and we’re going to launch the first Malta Anthology in April.
And the second Malta anthology will be launched in the fall. Maybe.
Speaking of, if you’re a writer, and you have a short story (between 5,000 and 8,000 words) involving Malta, send it to:
So far, I’ve got twelve different covers that I need to choose from.
Work, work, work.