My story “Pugelbone,” which won the recent ChiZine Short Story Contest, is now live as part of the October-December issue. As I said before, this was the story based on a dream I had in China. Here’s the beginning:
I was born in the Warren, and the Warren was all I knew. Both my mother and father were Meers. We go back to the founders. My father was very proud of our ancestry, but he was also very ill. He talked about forging tunnels and building walls and digging rooms for more families, more, when of course the Warren was already finished, and there was no more concrete to dig a new space out of. The rooms had been split as small as they could go without forcing adults to stoop, without making stretching out to sleep completely impossible. Babies were being suffocated, usually under older children, sometimes under their parents. The tunnels had become so narrow that we could only pass through one by one, and even then we had to dodge laundry from the overhead apartments, and falling garbage bags, and other things that people decided they just didn’t have room for. I guess before Warrens get finished – get carved up into this Swiss cheese honeycomb as far and as dense as they can go – people have high expectations of how it will turn out. I’ve seen my father’s sketches. There is an order there that is inhuman, it is so exacting. My mother used to say that in a Warren, you eventually lose control. I don’t just mean the jealous lovers that beat each other’s heads against the floor, or the men we kids used to call trenchcoat nasties. I mean you lose control of the Warren.
What ended up tying it together was the concept of the Kowloon Walled City.