The Plain Beyond

17 08 2015

The summer months are for demons and devils they say. Hot weather and hellish humidity offer stinging previews for the evily inclined. Its hard to disagree, looking back at those days. June was disastrous, July was no better. Hell found its way into every crack and crease of life those first few months. But as they say, it was a sick preamble to the woes to come. 

There wasn’t much left out in the reaches already. War had laid the once bustling orbitals low. The great rings of iron dock and post no longer hugged the planet close at its waist. Now the greatest constructions in the history of that world hung like rusted halos around the necks of long dead angels. The armistice that followed paled in significance to the fallout. Some of that iron plummeted to the surface, smashing cities and townships alike, scarring the earth and killing its people. 

Doomsday became the official religion, cannibalism became kind of vogue, and coveting was the mildest thing you could do to your neighbors’ ass.

The day to day is a real bitch.

As the great doors to the vault swung ponderously outward on their hinges, the event was heralded by the torturous screech of metal that hadn’t been oiled in decades. Light spilled into the cavern beyond bathing a filthy face in gold. 

Shilo stepped beyond the portal doing his best to cover his eyes. At one time he had worn sunglasses on these rare excursions but they had been smashed to pieces on the last trip out. He was much like the rest of his neighbors; thin and frail wearing a dull gray jumpsuit that had belonged to who knows how many people. His hair was the color of dirt and about as clean. His face was smudged with motor oil and sweat, and a sad canvas pack hung from his back. 

Two others joined him. They weren’t much better off. 

Shilo turned to his companions, “Any idea how many?” He tightened the shoulder straps, eyeing the others. They shook their heads, preoccupied with what might be around them. 

Their complex was cut into a single mountain that dominated the surrounding landcapes. The magistrate likened it to a beacon he learned about in a book from a place on the old world; a city built on a hill that attracted people from miles around. He had never seen it. No one had.

It was just a mountain to Shilo. A mountain that hid his home, much like the rest of the complexes spread around the plain. The three began the trek down the low trails that would lead them amongst great boulders, big as houses, before giving way to the rolling fields of grains and tall grass beyond. There were others out there. 

Today they might finally find one. 

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TOTALLY RANDOM FICTION

8 09 2014

Hey it’s Monday!

Have a random story snippet!

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The tune started like so many others. It was drunk and melancholy, drifting through back alleys and dark places, wrong turns, and dead ends. Notes, creeping like a serpent searching for a meal, hung on the coat tails and cloak hoods of any poor soul they could find. It was a heavy and oppressive music, a wonder that it could float at all from the twisted, hateful pipes that hung from the top of the old lighthouse, deep in the bay. Every night it would yawn over the harbor enrapturing sailors and drunkards and anyone else that would listen.

“It calls to me.” The meek would say.

“Rubbish.” The drunk would declare.

Repent, repent!” The pious would scream.

Garabaldi kicked a can off the edge of the pier, a sharp metallic sound echoing a short way out over the water before being drowned out by the dirge from across the harbor. The waves crashed against the old stone dock so high as to breach the top, soaking his black trousers and boots with salty splashes. He ran his hand down his shoulder wiping away an ever-present slick of water from his leather jacket. It was long and embroidered on the back was an iron nail on a field of red, the symbol of justice in what passed for a place like Bergen’s Bay.

Across his back was an old rifle, fitted for an army of an age long gone. At his side was a pistol of an entirely different era and a machete made from salvage metal. A wide brimmed hat, brown and beaten kept the rain off his face. He thumbed the machete handle, watching the light house torch spin about illuminating dark clouds in the sky. It was mesmerizing when paired with the droning of the pipes.

“And what brings the Bay’s youngest law man down to the pier?” the voice was deep and crackly; a smothered tone that hinted at ages of smoke. “I don’t imagine you’re just down for a visit, eh Garabaldi?”

“It’s too early. The house ain’t piped up at this hour in forty years. We got any traffic so far Bob?” the raspy sounding man cracked his knuckles and started to button his jacket. It was long and grey and torn; a family heirloom that once meant a whole hell of a lot more.

Things take on whole new meanings in Bergen’s Bay, usually empty ones.

“Actually no, nothing in the harbor near as I can tell.” He said, pulling a fat moleskin notebook from an inside pocket. He thumbed through the pages and said, “Looks like this may be the first time in a long time. According to the old records, hey look at that – forty years.”

Garabaldi plucked a cigar from a little belt pouch and lit it.

“What’s it mean?”

“Don’t know, Bob.” Garabaldi said. “You better see if you can call over to the light house. See if Bo knows something.”

“Me? Why do I have to call?” Bob choked.

“You’re the only one with a phone that works, now call him you damn fool.”

Before either could move the pipes stopped. Calm settled over the water in the bay. Only the lapping of water against the old pier could be heard. Not even the usual sobbing that accompanied the night was heard, no sign that the usual thugs and no good cancerous people of Bergen’s Bay were out.

But it was not to last and no sooner had Garabaldi resumed prodding the old bay master than the pipes let out another unexpected blast of sound. The noise wasn’t the usual droning, it was deep and angry and violent. The dock shuttered beneath them, the vibrations rumbled deep in their chests, numbing their bodies. The stone began to splinter and crack, the furthest reaches of the pier crumbling to dust, spilling into the water.

Deep in the harbor, beneath the surface, something stirred.





Terrifyingly Frightening Horror

15 03 2014

What makes you afraid?

The dark? Closets? THE DARKNESS IN CLOSETS?!

I remember one of my classes sophomore year of college touched on fear on our desire to explore it. It was literary theory, criticism, or philosophy. It was one of my history courses; The Rise of the Nazis.

Yeah you heard me.

Nazis.

Weird right?

Well aside from the fact that Nazis are kind of terrifying if you really think about it, there was a lot going on in Europe that contributed to the horror mindset. During the years prior to Nazis being any sort of a thing, Germany was in rough shape. Living there post WWI was a nightmare in and of itself.

Hyperinflation destroyed the mark, which made it good for fire kindling and not a whole hell of a lot else. The government was about as unstable as it gets and unemployment was spiraling out of control. The government released cookbooks on how to use sawdust to make your bread go farther for gods sakes.  

And yet, with its growing list of ailments, Germany flourished in a creative sense. Horror was on the rise. We saw scary movies the likes of Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari.

My take away from that class was the idea that as a nation’s poverty and economic turmoil grew so did the propensity to explore the Macabre. People turn to it in some depression-fueled reaction. Is that why we like horror stories?

It’s illogical. It’s primal. Somewhere in the dark and wacky recesses of your brain, where the primal urges and cautions lurk, you want to see this stuff. Your animal brain wants you to feel like that animal again. It wants you to be that primitive creature you once were that needed it so much.

Or maybe it doesn’t. I’m just rambling at this point.

This post is inspired once again by my tandem-writing project. I won’t give you details as we are still figuring it out ourselves, but we have arrived at a place that has me…stumped? I don’t think that’s the right thing to say. I know where I want to go with it.

Here’s the thing.

Where the story has left off, I have been presented with the opportunity to introduce something frightening. I have the lobby of a ruined skyscraper, a naked girl, and a shotgun-toting mountain of a man to assault here.

I need something that lurks in the dark burned out places in the world waiting to snatch you into the black ala Darkness Falls. Remember that movie? It sported a tooth fairy-esque-witch-monster-thing. Yeah.

 

So that’s what I’m thinking about; creature creation. How shall I go about building something original and suitably terrifying?





Doing It With A Friend

10 03 2014

What do you enjoy doing with your friends?

Lately for me, it’s been writing.

I recently began a little writing project with one of my close friends. Wasn’t my idea sadly but I am thrilled to be participating in it nonetheless. It started off as an endeavor in cooperative storytelling. It still is mind you. I realize that phrasing makes it sound like it took a terrible turn for the worse but that is not the case.

The whole thing was very well planned out ahead of time. I think the conversation went something like:

Friend: “Hey man, you know what we should do?”

Me: “What?”

Friend: “We should totally write a story together.”

Me: “Done.”

And now you have the inside details.

Seriously though, we didn’t plan this thing at all. He fired an email off at me one day with a paragraph of what would start this monumental undertaking of literary, uh, genius. At any rate it didn’t take us long to run off with it and start to expand.

What started as an exchange of paragraphs has now grown into the exchange of larger chunks of fiction churned out amongst the cries of small children, the sometimes angry buzz of wives/girlfriends, and other such obstacles one runs into during such projects.

What I find most interesting about this whole thing is where it is going. In the beginning of this thing we decided to eschew any sort of plotting, world building, story boarding or any other sort of thing ending with ‘ing’. The idea was to build as we went and see what the other could come up with.

It’s been a sick game of back and forth challenges. I picture him at his computer sometimes screaming, “Ha, finish that thought Brindle!”

Sometimes.

It’s been enlightening. We are moving along at a reasonable pace and honestly it has been a rewarding exercise so far. In a sense I feel like I’m receiving a bit of instant feedback in my storytelling. A literal example of ‘I think it would be neat if this happens next.’

What are we going to do with it? Don’t know. Publish it and make millions of dollars to share between us maybe!

And by maybe, I mean, naturally.

Now. Go here and read this. It’s a little something over at Ermiliablog that made me think of what I’m doing here. Oh and don’t worry, my friend and I aren’t so focused on tea.





Kristen Lamb, New Projects, and To-Do Lists

17 08 2013

I follow, and regularly read, a rather entertaining (and informative) blog by Author Kristen Lamb. I’ll say right off the bat that you can find her here. Not only does she provide the blogosphere with regular doses of writerly advice on  craft and conquering social media, she also writes. (A great habit for writers to have)

Need to figure this whole blogging thing out?

She’s your gal.

Social media got you down?

Go read her stuff.

Oh and by the way I’d buy her books based on cover art alone. HOLY WRITERLY CYBORGS BATMAN!

So what’s with the ramble about the lamb? One thing I’ve read on several occasions, you aren’t going to sell your first book. In all likelihood. Really the odds of that are not in your favor. It might be salvageable. It might someday become something sellable. But right out the gate? Ehh.

I’ve written a couple of novelesque length stories. Any of it get published? You know how I mentioned the ‘Ehh’ bit a second ago? There’s your answer.

So is there a point somewhere in the near future?

I wrote story. I’d like to share it. I’m rather fond of parts of it. And for some crazy reason I’m interested in throwing it, kicking and screaming into some sort of public forum where it may see comments. Comments that might drive revision. Revision that might lead to submission. And well, you probably get the rest of where that thought is going.

For now though, I’m just sharing a story and hoping that someone out there in the vast formless internet aether enjoys it. It’s probably not for everyone but I’m guessing it might be for someone. At any rate it’s getting its own set of pages apart from the regular blog stream. If you haven’t noticed already, there is a new addition to the navigation bar under the foxy banner at the top of the page.

It’s called Aeolus. It consists of a rambling introduction to a vague idea at the moment.

Which is like a metaphor for my life on a day-to-day basis.

Seriously. I need to start making to-do lists.





The Big One

6 04 2013

I keep a file on my trusty thinking machine labelled ‘threads’. Right now you might be thinking any number of the following.

  • Wow, I think this dude knits. How cool! A guy that not only holds theoretical conversations with spambots but also enjoys a good homemade scarf!
  • Theoretical physics! A whole new place to plagiarise term papers from, YAY!
  • This guy totally knows how to design a killer t-shirt. That’s got to be it.

If you find yourself thinking any of the above, you’re crazy. I don’t knit out of a long-standing fear of accidental knitting needle seppuku; try as I might there is only so far I can self teach string theory; and I can barely put a t-shirt on let alone make my own. One of my favorite parts of working overnight is that my wife has left pajamas on the bed for me. If she didn’t do that I’d probably wander around the house naked for hours before eventually collapsing of exposure and being eaten by the dog.

Just saying.

The thread file is a folder that holds a cornucopia of ideas. Anything from one liners to a character description or a few paragraphs of a scene. There’s even a few scraps of dialog without a home. Ideas without any context. Word seeds waiting to be sown in my brain, watered, fed a human sacrifice and then burst into stories.

I like to review them every once in a while, especially when my ‘potential sacrifices’ list starts to really pile up. I happened upon almost 800 words of something that might be the introduction to a future short story. Or novel. Or novella. Or Florida time share pamphlet, I’m not sure.

So here I am. Throwing it at you. Oh and  the character that’s speaking is a bit profane. In case that bothers you. Consider yourself warned.

 

O’keefe.

What a fucking joke.

My dad always used to tell me that disasters worried most people. But after O’keefe hit New York City some thirty years ago, it’s all changed. Now everyone is sitting around hoping to God that someday, soon, another fucking rock’s going to swoop in and hit us. How did that turn into a good thing?

See when it was all going down, when it was real fresh, everyone was focused on helping people. Get the survivors out of the rubble. What rubble the damn thing left. Most of the city was vaporized on contact. O’keefe was a big boy.

Then someone huffed something they shouldn’t have. Bruce Eddington. Crazy Eddy. Braincase. The first fucking Creep right out of the ruins of New York. My dad was there. He actually met the poor bastard.

Eddy had been a fireman in Brooklyn. When the rock came down, he and a dozen of the men from his station survived somehow. Never was able to get an answer from him before he changed. They were the first ones to find survivors, started shuttling them out of the dust. Made two trips in then they just disappeared.

No one saw Eddy or the rest of them for another month after that. Until one day in Pittsburgh some kid found him wandering the streets, babbling and drooling on himself. And everyone latched onto it. One thing led to another then Bam! He was officially government property, living in a bunker in what was left above water out in Buffalo.

Didn’t take long for some hack in a lab coat to figure out snuffing the gas from that beast of an asteroid made you some sort of psychic or some such nonsense. I don’t know how it all works exactly.

But I do know this: Creeps will get in your head if you aren’t careful. Hell, they’ll even do it when you are. That’s number one. Number two is that you can’t trust them. They don’t talk hardly after they change and they lose hold on a lot of important concepts. Like personal fucking space. And three is that they are valuable as all hell.

Poor Eddy lit a fire back up under the space race. Got to find more rocks. Make more Creeps. And the shit they need only floats out in deep space.

Lab coats will tell you that a Creep is just like you and me. They’re full of shit. I can talk for starters. I don’t spend my day drooling all over myself and staring off into space thinking about, whatever. But Spence will swear up and down they’re still real fucking people. He’s fooling himself.

Near as I can tell it’s his own little way of justifying the dirty business he conducts on the off hours. I can understand a guy gets lonely after months on a rock with no one to talk to. He’s got it worse than me and Dodge. Least I can tolerate Dodge. We can have a fucking conversation. Spence spends all his time with the creeps. And all his off duty time with one in particular.

Spence puts a lot of effort in trying to cover his tracks. I’m pretty sure he thinks Dodge and I don’t know any better. Not that he has to hide it. There aren’t any rules against putting in a little personal time with a female ‘staff member’.

But then I probably wouldn’t want anyone to know I was knocking boots with a girl who was about as smart as a sweet potato either. The other lab coats would probably frown on that.

Space is a lonely place.

And we’re right in the middle of the most out-of-the-way back yard in the region.

Romeo-Bravo-Delta-One-Niner-Niner-Leo.

 Translation?

The millionth fucking rock we’ve found floating in space that we can’t think of a real name for because we ran out a million names ago. It’s home for us right now. Me, Spencer, Dodge and a half a dozen Creeps.

Three years on Titan, six in the Uppers and this is where me and Dodge end up. Babysitting a lab coat and his side-show on a rock in the middle of nowhere. We call it the Circus. It’s up at dawn to go walk the kiddies and back at dusk to tuck them in and make sure no one dies or gets lost along the way.

It’s total bullshit.

Dodge is about the same way. At least he doesn’t complain when I bitch about it.

What did we expect? It was court-martial or this. Probably jail, maybe worse, or babysit creeps on a rock. So what did we pick? You already know the answer.

It’s all rainbows and unicorns and bourbon up here baby.





He’s in the Details

4 03 2013

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“What are you doing with your life?” the angel brushed a molting feather away from the edge of his cup as he sipped at the coffee. He swished it around for a moment before spitting it back in. “This is atrocious.”

“It’s good.”

“Vile is what it is. Developing your own line of plague ridden coffee beans or something?”

“It’s Folgers.”

The angel scoffed and walked to the window, his massive wings knocking over a wooden giraffe statue as he rose from the couch. From his fifteenth story vantage point he watched the cars creep by the apartment complex, tangled in the thick web of rush hour.

“Tell me Lucif-“

“Lewis.”

“Right. Tell me Lewis how can you stand it here. Living like this?”

“Well it’s not the cleanest place in the world but I’ve been making due.”

Lewis leaned against the wall beside the window, a plate of small black cakes in one hand, coffee in the other. He smiled at the half naked angel and poked the dish at his chest. The holy harbinger was huge compared to Lewis’ wiry frame, who could easily blend as a member of the geek squad from Best Buy.

“Really? Devil’s food cake?” asked the angel.

“Yeah. Why not? It tastes like shit but it makes me giggle.”

The angel regarded the assortment of chocolate slabs.

“You know the boss isn’t going to give you that meeting. Thirty requests over the past six months, unanswered, should have sent you that message already. He can’t be seen with you like that. It would be bad for business.”

“I know. This is why I’m going to give him more time. To reconsider.” Lewis set the plate of cake on the coffee table, replaced the giraffe to its rightful place and sat on the couch.

“Because you haven’t had enough of that yet.”

“Don’t you worry about it messenger boy. Oh, there is one new bit of business I need to tell you about. I’m moving. I thought New York would be the place for me. Vibrant night life, a lot of freaks and some damn good Chinese. But the noise is getting to me. You can only read millions of minds for so long before you start going a little crazy.”

Start going crazy?”

“Yeah. Start.”

“Or little for that matter.”

“Well.” Lewis adjusted his tie. “I’m moving upstate where it’s quiet. I’m going to buy a kayak, learn about baseball and get a dog. I’ve always wanted a dog. I think that shall be the highlight of the experience. And who knows. I might just stay there.”  

“Sounds like a tabloid headline waiting to happen.”

Lewis slurped the coffee down in large gulps.

“Yes, you’ll blend right in. I hear everyone upstate drinks scalding coffee like it were a can of soda.”

Lewis snatched a piece of cake and took a bite.

“You think maybe Florida instead? After all, no one beats the heat like me.”