Excerpt: Introducing Speedy

I’m roughing out the structure of a Hope Blackwell novel. The Rachel Peng series will have neither ghosts nor koalas; this Hope Blackwell novel will have both. Here’s Speedy’s introduction. As always, this is a draft and will be fine-tuned for phrasing and punctuation if I decide to take it through publication.

For readers of the novels who aren’t also readers of the comic, I’ll also note that Hope has ADD and swears like a sailor on fire.


There was too much sun when I woke up.

The curtains are open, my subconscious informed the rest of me. You closed them when you went to bed, and Sparky wouldn’t have opened them, not when you went to sleep at dawn…

My body didn’t want to be awake, and it told my subconscious to shut up and deal with it. The cunning application of pillow to eyeballs would solve this problem. The pillow didn’t even have to be moved. No, I could just turn over, and—

My subconscious had me up and rolling into a zenpo kaiten before I could drop back into sleep. I was halfway across the bedroom before the crowbar crashed into the exact spot on the pillow where my head had been.

Let me tell you about sugar.

My high school history teacher used to say that sugar was the catalyst for the Industrial Revolution. I checked his dates and he was off by a few decades, but sugar plus coffee did hit Great Britain right around the time that steam engines finally got their act together. Imagine that for a second: the British and stimulants, together at last!

Shit got done.

Now, let me tell you about koalas.

Cute? Yes. Cuddly? Definitely. Stupider than rocks? Fuck yes. They have some of the least-developed brains in the mammalian kingdom. Their brains are so tiny that they’re basically bobbing around in the koala’s skull. When a koala does manage to process a thought, it’s almost always focused on one of three basic drives. They eat, sleep, and procreate, and they do this with the literal single-mindedness of a brain capable of holding one thought at a time.

They are fairly durable, though. If you were a mad scientist who wanted to poke at a blank slate of a brain and see if you could enhance intelligence, you couldn’t pick a better test subject than a koala.

Except, around your third koala, you’d realize that the animal’s metabolism is causing problems. The creatures only eat eucalyptus, and when they’re not eating or fucking, they’re asleep. So you start to tinker with the koala genome so they can live on a variety of plants, and don’t need to sleep twenty-two hours a day.

At Koala No. 4, you decide to see if you can also get them to metabolize grains. Fresh vegetation is hard to find, but every supermarket has a cereal aisle.

By Koala No. 17, you’ve gotten the process nailed down. Brains, guts, everything works. You start to test the limits on what can be done to a koala’s brain. Under the right conditions, can a koala become as intelligent as a dog? A monkey? A great ape?

These experiments go great. So great, you run into communication problem. It’s harder to test the intelligence of animals that can’t vocalize or mimic sign language. You decide to tinker with their vocal cords.

Finally, you get to Koala No. 26. This one’s a total dud. Every single modification went right—better than on any previous test subject, really!—but the animal is a lump of stupid squeaking fur. You decide to euthanize and start from scratch.

Except Koala No. 26 beats you to it. The little bugger has been playing dumb all along. You’re proud of him, probably, in the instant before he shoots you between the eyes with your own gun.

Young Koala No. 26 then spent a rough couple of days running scared in suburban Missouri before he was captured. And escaped. And captured, and escaped, and captured, and escaped, and captured… and finally, a certain government agency got news of this “speedy devil” that could find a way out of any cage. They took him away to one of those subterranean buildings that form the stuff of nightmares, and performed unspeakable tests to discover he had about 200 IQ points more than the average Harvard graduate.

Koala No. 26 sat in a cage and broke codes for years. Sparky rescued him. This… um. Yeah. This probably wasn’t the best decision Sparky’s ever made. It’s not like he could release this koala into the wild, or even put him in a zoo. For a while, he made sure the koala had his own apartment. These days, the koala lives with us.

I love the little fucker, I do, but let’s face facts. If the entire Industrial Revolution was the outcome of moderately caffeinated cultural sugar high, a superintelligent animal with three all-encompassing drives and regular access to Cap’n Crunch becomes its own force of nature.

And he is an asshole.

Published by KBSpangler

A freelance editor who writes novels, comics, and repairs a disaster of a house in her spare time: www.kbspangler.com

13 thoughts on “Excerpt: Introducing Speedy

  1. I love it – a lot. no doubt I can’t hardly wait to read it.


    The overuse of cursing and varied obscenities adds *absolutely nothing* and takes away far more than it just leaves alone. Please tone it donwn – you are very clever. you can find ways to write even better with out the language bit.

    I would dearly love to give these books to my neices, they would look at Hope as a hero to emulate. I would be running the first time their mother heard them emulating…

    1. Hi Paul! You’ve asked me to tone down the swearing in the past, and I’ve got to stress again that it’s got nothing to do with being clever. Swearing is a character trait for Hope, especially in Book 1. She tones this down by Book 2 (last Thursday’s episode was one of the first times in Book 2 she swore), but the novel takes place between these. She’s still very young and insecure, and she swears.

      Also, the novel will probably have sex and violence, and definitely have rambling philosophical discussions about life, death, and similar nonsense. If your nieces can’t handle swearing, I don’t think this book would be good for them!

    2. Our Dear Author has already replied, but let me put it to you another way. You say you want to give these to your nieces. No. These are NOT middle grade or young adult novels/comics. Sorry. Nope. There are plenty of those out there (and some are VERY good quality), but that is Not This Story. So your nieces will have to wait until they are old enough to know not to emulate their favorite character’s speech characteristics within earshot of their mother before you can give them Hope.

      However? Once they ARE old enough to filter their language (or their quotes), that’s when you hand over Hope and her adventures while gleefully cackling and rubbing your hands (at least mentally) like the best of uncles. (Yeah, I have an uncle & aunt (& some older cousins) who have done their fair share of cackling while handing me books. And I’m already plotting which books I’ll be giving MY nieces & nephews once they’re old enough.)

  2. In the comic , it’s Hope that does the majority of swearing, ( as I remember it ), Speedy is smart enough to use words as flensing knives , so if he DOES swear , it’s for effect.
    ( but he’s OUR asshole )

  3. Honestly, didn’t even notice the swearing– it’s just Hope.

    So, does Speedy normally wake them up with a crowbar? Kinda reminds me of Mab’s training regimen for Harry Dresden when he was in convalescence…

    1. I agree. The swearing is hardly there. I certainly didn’t notice. As you said, that’s just Hope. Hell, that’s how most everyone I know talks, only sans the ADD.

      Also, fist bump fellow Dresen fan. I saw Butcher at DragonCon, and he was crazy fun. There are links to vids of his panels on his website. So much win.

  4. I thought Rose saved Speedy. Although I’d guess that Rose hasn’t been introduced yet, so that might cause a bit of a problem for this story.

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