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Bone Shop is a free, serialized online novella by T.A. Pratt, supported by donations from readers. Pay whatever you like.

If you like this story, visit to learn about the novel series.

Notes for Chapter Fourteen

Only about three weeks left after this – maybe four.

Sorry about that little six-year lacunae after the first scene. I already did a summarized "time passes" thing once before, and didn't want to repeat the same expository trick, so I just did a jump ahead. Dealing with long time scales is always something I struggle with. I've never found an approach that makes me really happy. Longtime readers may have noticed that most of the Marla novels tend to take place over a short period – a few days, a week, whatever. But for this story, which spans about a dozen years, I don't have much choice. Hope it worked okay.

Most of this chapter incorporates some of the plot (and maybe four or five of the actual lines) from my novelette "Haruspex," which appeared in a webzine called Shadows of Saturn a few years back. It was the first Marla story I ever wrote, way back in 1999 or so, and its tone is very different from that of the later Marla material – much darker, more baroque, more splatterpunk-y. Rondeau's pretty damn different, too, both his personality and his magical nature. The voice is also quite different. In "Haruspex," I never said something in five words if I could say it in ten. The story also has elements I just plain retconned out, stuff that's contradicted baldly in later Marla novels and stories. So consider it a non-canonical proto-Marla story; the "Bone Shop" version of events will be canonical instead.

I was going to include a link to the text of "Haruspex" via the Wayback Machine, but it doesn't appear the whole thing was archived – here's a link to the first few paragraphs, though. Consider it a fragment of a slightly alternate-universe version of Marla if you like, maybe Marla as she appears in one of those alternate realities hinted at by the Possible Witch in Blood Engines. (And perhaps somebody more savvy than me can find the whole text hidden on the internet somewhere. I'm certainly never planning to resell or reprint the story.)

Back to Chapter 14

T.A. Pratt lives in Oakland, CA, and works as an editor for a trade publishing magazine.