[In late 2013 and early 2014, I wrote a lot of pieces and notes for a story I called The Hole World, though I figured I'd come up with another name for it later. It was going to be a grand, strange fantasy about a world with a hole in its center, a pillar of sun stretching out of it into infinity, with the land stretching out flatly in every direction. Biomes ringed outward, with the molten core of the planet inhabited by people who gathered metals flung out constantly by the sun-column, more-temperate regions farther out, and then frigid expanses stretching out beyond.

I planned to tell a story set in this world that would use several voices, including an explorer of the frozen reaches, a janitor in a building-sized light battery, a Rumi-style poet-priest of a columnal solar religion, a member of a roving band of weavers who knit bandages across the chasms of the fracturing world, and an indebted miner who had to drop down into the infinite, scorching hole at the center of the world every day to harvest metal. This is a piece exploring the voice and opening scene of the miner's story.

I have a really long document of fragments and notes for what the story would be, and I still think about this story more than is healthy. Again, I don't require you to read all the stuff I'm posting right now. I just want to put some of these things in places other than my hard drive, both for the possibility that someone might enjoy them, or that I might somehow feel like they're more real if they exist somewhat publicly, or maybe just... whatever it is that happens when you concretize your dreams a bit, even insufficiently.

This starts out deep in a possible vernacular for the people who live brief, sweaty lives scarred by sun-hot metal. It's all just phonetic, sort of southern US meets UK urchin. As it goes on, the language settles down as I tried to make it more readable and also to move more quickly through actually getting a draft of the story out. I don't believe so much anymore in being this aggressively hard to read out of the gate; but here it is. I'm not editing; I'm opening the cages on these dear, regretful creatures and setting them free.]

Isle 1: Honey Hunter

I went to work wondering, and dreaming dragged me into the Tore.

In there you can't see barely nothing for the clouds of wicked hot airything just hissin and screamin by. And I mean airything. Of course you got your dang rivers and rivulets pourin off the surface and explodin immoderately into vicious hot steam, so's like it looks a river dips down into nothing, and then curves back up into the even more nothing, flowin up and spreadin into white steam blankets. Durin the swell, that is. Come taper, the heat's a bit less intense, so the river's dive degrades more gracely into an elegant diffusin of fog. That's still a freak sight hotter than any water you'd ever wish to dunk in, but we could picknit the finer points of the Pucker's incessance until the last fadin light.

Innyway, you wanna know about the first day a fall, so sure, Isle tellit.

Burr en Isle set out from early-taper, when the rest the world's off sleepin, but round the Pucker we got work to do finely. Plenty light this close, less lively and dim-silvery, in its weird way you well know. See we got all our searanti on, then all our pickets, and alla rest the gear.

You all right? Sweatin perdictably, for one a your tint. Perdon my frontry. Well, yeah, sip it steady but don overdoit. Helps hold the heat tollrably, yeah? Yeah, Isle go on.

So with airything comfbly situated on the draggon, we draw stalks to see who does the haulin. Yeah, Burr'd throw his eyes at me now, but we got an insistence on tradition, even on those that irk. —Could just take turns, you might could say. But then Isle say, —Sure, but then what's Fate got the do allswell along? Just sit onner wrists ehn bumwaver? Not likely, Isle say. She'll find a way to get involved, you well know. We'll like to giver a mini something, then sender onner way. Even brustratin relatives got their place the table.

So I draw odd stalks first, so Burr laughs cause Isle be doin the haulin. Consolation is, though you try en ignore it at the moment is, he who does the haulin don't descend. Least not first, en that's a consolation cause the first drop's usually longest en arduoust. Yeah, time's short but we gotta fill them pickets a certain quoter, en we all know the quoter en how not to lie, cause lyin's obvious enough come sortin.

By time we get to the edge, it's the calmest center of the taper. Least amount of metam blowin out of the deep. The Bore swells, heat rises, en more precious nonsense condenses outta the mist. The rivers bend higher, en we feel the pressure grow.

En it's a given take, you well know. You do more scrapin' toward the start, which is safer but more work. Then as the shift wears on, the metam sweat-drops dewin all over your backside get more en more. You don't wanna get heavy down in the hole. But you're dewin up most the wrong stuff, just inny old whatever sticks to you, slag. Good scrapers have a developed discernin. It's what keeps you fed en livin en climbin out again.

Hehn? Neah, we don just leave alla gear round the Pucker, cause of the scourgin heat. Our sistereeds can buck en distort through heatwinds a fair reasonable sight more en most mats Isle ever laid eggs on. But leavem out a full swell, en even the juiciest rigid reed is reduced to a creepy, dusty wiggle sheath. Why would we live in the shadow the peaks, en walk all that dang way draggin all those achillegrams of reeds en ropes? Cause we like it?

Isle choose to tuck your condescendin inna this mini picket here, en just play pretend it never was.

Innyways, where was it? Oh, yeah, Isle was haulin the draggon, which is like this big blanket a reeds we stack airything on, en... yeah yeah, you've seen em; no need now I'm the nugget. Fair sight. Burr got to trot alongwise with only his reglar load. We chatter here en then, bits a bits, you well know. What you got to say to somebuddy you work with, risk your life by turns, each after each? Not much, but always some, hecklin and miseratin mostly. Stuff our mouths with a tar of nonsense words, maybe to keep from just gaspin and givin up, some days.

Things you miss, though you barely recognate them when.

{>> @EDK DICTION: Also, I'm absolutely sure this is too thick and especially inconsistent for final consumption. But I'm enjoying thinking it through, and the voice is right. I could see it perhaps needing to be tempered with cleaner third-person, or just smoothed out so there are fewer new words per paragraph. <<}

Through the cittle, down the main fare a sistereed huts en hovels, and the casional metam-forced or even full-metam cast structures, where the rich store and formulate their wealth. The enormous pours, the huge cups that hold heat and transform metam bits inna bars. Sift different heats of metam from one inother. We're just one pair a scrapers among the hundreds. Airybody linin out toward our work sets. Leavin plenty room between us as usual; respect the livin, respect the maybe dead. Neah, we don get too persnable with other scrapers. Most are hard men en women. Most won't last long enough to get known.

Already as we set out I was driftin and floatin through figments and wondrins. I'd been scrapin out that fleckin hole for almost a year, in the process of payin off my inevitable debts to kin and country. Yeah, I played it safer en most. Burr en Isle made a right team, cause he climbed wilder and deeper, en I played it closer but thorough. Both our lives were basically already at their close, but even when you're swingin on a lattice of reed fibers in the skin-boilin center of the bored-out world — and that's your job you do — most find they still aren't willin to just give it up and drop.

Though some do.

And that's what Isle was flectin on, mostly. That drop, inna the Tear. That massive swelterin endlessness, the drop into whatever lies past bottomless. To be truly consumed by our work. Many are; many scrapers, dozens a year at least, by one fault or another go down in, en don't come back out. Just leave their cursin partner to drag the reed ropes back outta the hole to the cittle. Then to explain and curse the absence, and curse further the missed quotas.

The bosses cut slack outta sympathy? Neah; they cut slack, but outta... what choice do they have? And not like the fleckers aren't sittin' on hoards of barred metam innyway, en all this toil en suffrin aren't just stuffin the coffers against futures and flukes. Yeah, I know, not my place, and drop me for sayin it. The difference it makes is subtle, but there.

Why'd people drop? Outta carelessness? Pressure waves? Weather flukes? Statisticality? Or just finely givin up? All a the above, leadin to all who've gone below. You get buffeted around down there, constantly, by the rips of wind and heat. Even mid-taper, at its calmest, the Bore is still almighty hot, and there are weird winds that come up from below, like carried along from where maybe it's hotter down somewhere, and pushin up at us.

So we'd been walkin a while, trudgin along the path between two a the Pucker's peaks, en Burr asks me if I'm feelin airight. Parently Isle was bein real quiet, unusually so. Realize a been lettin my thoughts take the leash, which is a good way a gettin dead this close to the Tear. Yet Isle'd drifted. The gravel's all kinda colors, when you kick en scrape a foot along it, cause of what all's thrown out the Tore. It all kinda settles into gray somehow on the top, but when Isle looked back, there was thin varicolored lines stretchin out behind the draggon, lighter shifted outlines of Burr's feet, and deeper bright gouges where I'd been diggin in my heels a might harder than usual.

I can see that when I think it over, real clearly.

Burr en Isle push our way through the thicknin air, and make our reproach a the edge. Prior to the edge, alla other hunters fan out along the width, followin a loose higher archie a seniority, for how far ya gotta go to stake in. There's markers left by some hunters along the way, but we don bother. The map shifts so fast, with outcrops movin meters some days, compressin en slidin around from the force a the Bore's breath.

Isle stood and squint-stared at it for a minute while Burr started unpackin. Below en beyond the ragged, drop-strewn edge a the Tear, there it was. A fact as old as anything, the pulsin center of the wirld, our life and our livelihood. And a fleckin terrifyin sight, airytime.

It's one thing a see the Bore in its common place, at the horizin. Sorta comftin there, a sorta fixed beam holdin the world together. The way most people ever see it, at a safe distance. Isle's heard some even have some kind of religion about it, which is understandble. If you've never seen it up close. Even further away, where the ground's not so bullied by it, where the air's not screamin en heavin en spittin hot flecks, you could magine it jes bein simple, the thing tellin you whether to be asleep or awake.

Here, that's not possble, you well know. Here, specially when you get up a the edge, en you see how it don start innywhere, that it's not holdin on to the wirld. The Bore's not holdin on ta innything. It's breathin out there, incredibly bright, an impossble feelin distance, but so far. En the distance atween Isle en the Bore, that's no distance at all compared a the no-bottom stretch down en up. Ventually, it jes stretch up so high it dwindles to a needlepoint en then nothing. So but you know it goes up even farrer than that, en that it's jes your eyes that can't go inny further. En lookin down, the same, but inna the funnel-lookin sheer sides, peekin innen out from the clouds a metam en fog.

A poundin pillar a light en heat, achillemeters across, in the dead center a the Tear which is itself hundreds a times wider. Jes this huge gapin hole in the middle a the wirld, swirlin full a hot melted air, en even when it dims, it's still so bright you can't look straight at it.

How could you take it for granid?

How could you take it at all?