Thursday, April 7, 2011

No Hesitation

Warning: This piece has quite a bit more profanity than I'm used to posting online and deals with a touchy subject—one that has touched my own family, and even myself. That's not an easy thing to confess. I apologize in advance if I offend anyone. I'm not advocating violence as a means of escape, but once upon a time there weren't many other choices. I also know there are decent fellows out there in the world, and I salute them for being the 'real men.'. I wrote this as part of a prompt for Creative Writing class. The assignment was to write a very short piece of conflict, starting  the story with: "This is what I should have done..."

No Hesitation

This is what I should have done. I should have pulled the trigger instead of hesitating long enough to talk myself out of it. The son of a bitch would be dead. 

I’d be in jail, but I’d be free. Free from nasty, hate-filled smirks...narrowed eyes a searchlight for any excuse. Free from waking up and not being able to get out of bed because something else might be broken besides the perpetual promise of “Never Again.” Free from my now twice-weekly duty of being a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot. 
I should have pulled the goddamned trigger and blown his fucking brains all over the pillow while he snored, sleeping off his latest binge of whiskey and Whack-a-Me. Why didn’t I? Was I afraid I’d miss and he’d wake up, snatch the gun out of my hands and shoot me instead? He was so far gone that a KISS concert wouldn’t have disturbed his peaceful slumber. The gun had a brand new clip in it, so what if one bullet went wide...there were more. I could have put a sweet plug right between the motherfucker’s eyes and ended both my pain and his. 
Too late for that now, I think, as I set my face in grim determination to endure another round with the Raging Bull. He is between me and where the Glock lies hidden. All I can do now is take the blows and admonish myself. 
Why the hell did you even buy the goddamn thing? I ask myself as his wrath begins raining a hailstorm of blows. 
Go on, I silently urge him. Get it done. 
That’s right. 
Get it done and go to sleep. 
I may have just enough strength left. 
And this time, there will be no hesitation

Thursday, March 3, 2011

An Auto Mechanic's Wet Dream

Jack stripped and lay back on the red satin sheets while she straddled him. He could see tiny niblets centered within dark aureolas and a curly, brown triangle beneath her translucent pink baby-doll, which she slowly lifted over her head and tossed into a nearby chair. 
Their lips met and they reached for each other simultaneously; their bodies becoming a tangle of tongues and fingers. 
Suddenly, they stopped, mid-foreplay.
“Jasmine,” stenciled in curly vines and decorative roses about two-inches above her left nipple, looked down disparagingly at Jack's deflated, mingy manhood and sighed: 
"I'm sorry, sir, but that hose is in awful shape, and since it's one of the smaller models, I’m going to have to charge you more for the parts and labor to get it functioning again." 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hell Hath No Fury

“Cheating bastard!” I fumed and waited for Donald to come home.

I found out about the affair six months ago and spent the last two preparing my goodbye. I waited calmly, just beyond the perimeter of my hastily scrawled handiwork. I heard the key turning in the lock.

Donald stepped inside and smiled at me. “Hi, honey! I’m home.”

His last words echoed shock and pain as he was suddenly consumed by the bright, hot flames which erupted and descended back into the pentagram scratched upon the floor where Donald had once stood.

“No,” I laughed madly. “Now you’re home.”

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Mages of Morrow—Part 2: The Hinterlands (an epigraph)

"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn."
-T.H. White, "The Once and Future King."

The Mages of Morrow—Interlude: The Stone

This is a (slightly) edited excerpt from my novel "The Mages of Morrow." This is liable to be the last excerpt I post for awhile as I really need to get back to writing on it again. This is where I left off at when I won NaNoWriMo. It takes the story into Part 2: The Hinterlands. The character introduced here and in the Prelude: Boy at the Edge of the World, will turn up in the last third of the book. He is to be the main character in the two sequels: "The Sages of Sorrow," and (tentative) "The Pages of Pendrick." Don't worry, Mercy will still be around.  

You should know that I cried (bawled is a better word) when I wrote this. I still cry a little when I read it. The last word was the hardest word I've ever date. 

The seeing-stone was finished. 

His uncle said it was the worse seeing-stone he'd ever seen and pronounced it totally unusable. But the boy said it was perfect and declared he would get it to work, if the "gift" ever settled itself upon his shoulders. 

"It's too small to see into, Pen." Uncle Ware said. "And why did ye shape it 'round them two bubbles?"

The boy turned to the side and pulled the cuff of his shorts up, showing the birthmark on his thigh. "To make it look like this," he answered. 

His uncle scratched his head and worried, as usual. "Well, why did ye run a hole inter it..there?" Uncle Ware pointed to the hole at one end of the oblong Sagestone. He'd watched the boy take the pick and work it with precision and skill...piercing the stone little by little...taking care not to rupture the interior bubble on that end of the stone. 

The boy walked over and opened one of the many cabinets in the workroom. From it's depths he retrieved a length of leather cord. He returned to the workbench and, picking up the stone, poked one end of the cord through and tied the ends together, fashioning himself a pendant from the seeing-stone. He pulled the Sagestone over his head and it rested lightly against his chest. His uncle gazed at it through sorrowful eyes. 

"Now, I can carry my Sagestone with me, everywhere I go!" the boy exclaimed excitedly. "I won't have to leave it behind if I need to go somewhere. Seeing-stones are too useful to be left on a stand in a book room."

His uncle furrowed his brow and frowned. "Boy, the physical weight of carrying a stone on you at all times is nothing compared to the mental and spiritual burden you will suffer. You must not wear it like a charm, for a charm it is not!"

The boy placed his young hand over his uncles wrinkled and calloused one. 

"Uncle..." he sighed. "Think of what happens when a sage is asleep in his bedroom and his stone is in his study. The stone may show visions of great magnitudes and not a soul would ever know. I have spent sleepless nights wondering how many lives have been lost simply because a prophesy went unseen. If...if..." the boy struggled for words..."If the gift of sight should be granted me, I want to SEE!" 

He patted his uncles hand and went about cleaning the workshop. When he was finished with the cleaning of tools and the sweeping of floors, he asked his uncle if he could retire. The uncle sent him to his room with a quick but affectionate hug. 

Long after the last rays of the sun that pierced the small window had crawled away up the workshop wall to hide in the deep corners of the night, Uncle Ware remained sitting on the bench. 

In the dark, by the thinnest slice of moonlight, a trail of tears glistened on his cheeks. 
The boy had been part of his life for thirteen years. He didn't need a seeing-stone to show him that soon—too soon, he knew—that most sorrowful and final of words would hang spoken between them.

To read the previous excerpts, click on the titles:
Prelude: Boy at the Edge of the World
Part 1: The Spinnerlands (An Epigraph)
An excerpt from Chapter 1: Mercy at the Gates
An excerpt from Chapter 3: Leaving Crope
An excerpt from Chapter 8: "You never knew you had it in you?"
Part 2: The Hinterlands (An Epigraph)

"You never knew you had it in you?"—An excerpt from The Mages of Morrow: Chapter 8

The following is an unedited excerpt from my novel "The Mages of Morrow." Chapter 8 is "You never knew you had it in you?" It finds Tom and Mercy still on the run and taken in by residents of the small town of Garrett (similar in name to Mercy's own hometown in Ohio. In fact, the couple hosting them are the doppelgangers of Mercy's own parents.) Mercy, having had her hair cut and dyed by Tom, is impersonating a boy. Mercy is reading the book Tom gave her about the history and magick of Burr, including the history of the sages and the mages. Mercy reads something in the book about a prophesy concerning the most powerful sage in Burr and his mission. She then realizes with growing alarm who that sage is...

Mercy put the book down and gripped the blanket on the bed, clenching her fists and releasing them, clenching them a ritual of anxiety. 

Oh my God, he's headed to the south. To where the dragons and smilodons and T-Rexes are!! And he's not told me because he knows I wouldn't want to go a step further if I knew it!

He's the one. The powerful sage in the book! He has to be....he has the Eternal Dragon! He WAS the one commissioned by this prophet dude to...what? Go find a king...and start a WAR? Oh, man...I don't want any part of that mess...
Mercy got up and started pacing up and down the room...thinking. 

What are my options? Leave. I could go back to that lake right now and wait there for that Spin Hole to come back. Maybe it appears in the same location at certain times. Some of them do. Domus said so, and I've seen it in Crope. And I just know that one would take me home. To Garrettsburg. I mean this town is called Garrett, right? Maybe there is a singularity, a warp in the space/time fabric that connects the two. That's why the Slater's daughter disappeared. In order not to cause a paradox. It was a trade. I came to this world, she went to mine. Maybe she went to my own house. She's probably just as confused as I was...except she's from Burr and probably knows all about Spin Holes, so she would have figured it out. 

But if I can find that Hole again...that same one. I could go through to home and she would have to be snatched back through to here. She could be with her parents again, and I would be with mine. I feel bad about leaving Tom...but I don't owe him anything! Not really. So he rescued me from Crope and a life of hell. 

And he also kept me from going crazy the night the sprites attacked us in the woods. He told me later that they feed on people's panic until it drives a person mad.

But...I want to go home!! And Tom has already said that he's not going to help me go through a Spin Hole. He'd probably try and stop me again. 

What am I going to do?
She was pacing still, when Tom swung the door open and bounded into the room. He shut the door and rushed over to her. He took her in his arms and held her close to him, just like the night in the woods...with the sprites. At first she struggled against him...twisting in his strong embrace. 
"Stay the fuck out of my head, Tom Stranger!" she hissed. 
"I wasn't in your thoughts, Mercy. But I could sense your...distress...pain..."
"Then you don't know what's bothering me?"
"No, little one. But I want to calm you. What have you read in that book that has disturbed you so?" Tom stepped back and rubbed her arms. They looked into each others eyes and for a second, Mercy thought he was going to kiss her, like he did that night in Crope when he thought she was Ruby. But instead, he pulled her over and sat her down on the bed, then pulled up a chair to sit across from her. He took her hand. 
"What has upset you, Mercy?"
"You didn't read my thoughts?"
"No, Mercy. I think it's best if we stay out of each other's minds...don't you?" When she nodded, he continued. "Besides, you've gotten extraordinarily brilliant at keeping me out." He smiled at her, but she didn't return it. 
"Why can I read minds? Why can I keep you from reading mine? I've never..." 
Tom got up and walked over to a small table in the corner of the room. He picked up a small charm of a flower that had been lying there...probably a favorite trinket of the girl who had lived in that room before she mysteriously vanished. The girl who resembled Mercy. He returned and sat down in the chair again, holding the charm out to her in his hand. When she started to pick it up, he moved his hand away. 
"Just watch this..." he said. He held his palm out again and whispered "Levitato."
Mercy watched in amazement as the charm rose into the air about three inches from Tom's palm and remained hovering there. 
"Descenda," Tom whispered and the charm floated back to rest on his palm once more. 

"I know your a sage, Tom," Mercy sighed. "Probably capable of taking the roof off this house with a single word, if you wanted to. I know you're the most powerful sage in Burr." She looked questioningly at him, then glanced at his index finger and saw that he wasn't wearing the ring. "The Ouroboros! Where is it, Tom?" 
Tom lowered his hand with the charm and with his other hand he reached into his pants pocket and pulled out the ring. The green dragon with the red eyes. "I've been keeping it hidden. I see you've read about the Eternal Dragon, then?"
"Yes..." she said. Then, she looked away from him, no longer able to meet his eyes. "I don't want to go to the south, Tom!" she started to weep. "I don't want to see a smilodon again, or a dragon...or worse—a T-Rex! I want to go home, Tom!" Then she looked at him, tears spilling down her cheeks. "I want to go home."
"Mercy..." Tom said, in an almost scolding tone. "The Spin Holes are dangerous."
"I don't care, Tom. I'm going through the next one I see...these people need their daughter back, and I think if I go home, she'll come back. Isn't that right?"
Tom sighed. "Possibly. But Mercy...there's a reason for it."
"A reason for what?"
"Why you're here. Spin Holes operate in a strange way. Crossover's have been known to shape the course of history here. It may very well be that the mages were once crossovers, creating a bridge, one Spin Hole from their old world to this one...then creating more and more Spin Holes once they were here..." he paused and looked toward the the crack where the door met the floor. There was no shadow there. "I have to make sure this is not overheard by anyone, Mercy. And you must promise not to repeat it to anyone. Do you?"
"I already know that you're the one that has to find this King-dude."
"That's not what I'm talking about," Tom said. He took a deep breath. "The Prophet Bob was a crossover."
Mercy's mouth dropped. "He was what?"
"A crossover, Mercy. A fact that he concealed to almost everyone. But there was a reason he was...brought here."
"Brought?" Mercy didn't like the sound of that. 
"Yes. Brought. I believe he may have even been from your world. He discovered a talent for seeing the future when he came here. He could see the future without a seeing stone, Mercy."
"A seeing-stone?"
"They're made from a gem called Sagestone, mined primarily in the south. Sages can scry the future in them."
"So, you think a Spin Hole brought me here. Why?"
Tom shook his head. "I don't know. I only know that some crossovers have been important in our history."
"Aye. Some, but not all of them."
"How do you know I'm important, then? There's nothing special about me."
Tom lifted his hand and held out the charm again. "Try it," he said.
Mercy just stared at him, bewildered. She couldn't do magic! Why was he asking this of her? To make a fool out of her? She shook her head 'no.'
"Go on," insisted Tom. "'Levitato' is the word. Say it."
She stared at him...becoming furious that he actually thought to make her look stupid.
The charm shot off of Tom's hand, hit the ceiling with a bang and embedded in the plaster like a bullet. 
Mercy turned wide, unbelieving eyes to Tom. He simply smiled. 
"You never knew you had it in you, did you?"

To read more of the excerpts, click on the text below:

Prelude: Boy at the Edge of the World
Part 1: The Spinnerlands (An Epigraph)
Mercy at the Gates: an excerpt from Chapter 1
Mercy Spins: an excerpt from Chapter 3

Coming soon: Interlude: The Stone

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mercy Spins: An Excerpt from "The Mages of Morrow"

The following is an unedited excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel: "The Mages of Morrow." This scene is from Chapter 3: "Leaving Crope." It is the scene in which Mercy describes to the gypsy Tom Stranger how she happened to find herself working as a sixteen-year-old waitress in a brothel in Crope. This is Mercy's "crossover" experience. Please feel free to comment on anything you like or don't like about this piece. This is a "rough draft" and will be polished at some future time. Oh, by the way, this excerpt contains a reference to a "real" event experienced by the author, when she was a young naturalist growing up in Ohio. 

The subdivision on the outskirts of Garrettsburg, Ohio was fairly new. Shiny new blacktop wound through the immaculate and exclusive gated community and the new houses were almost all bordered by some type of natural environment. One house was perhaps more isolated than the rest, it was down the very last road and sat on a parcel that included woods and a clear-running creek. 

This was the home of the family of the former Mayor of Garrettsburg. 
They'd just moved to the neighborhood, and were one of the first families in the community. They wanted to get away from town life after the Mayor left office when his term was up. They were a well-loved and well-respected family, and the Mayor had ran the town efficiently. He was looking forward to returning to a quiet life of his law practice and had plans to write a book. 
His wife was a successful entrepreneur, she owned a string of popular coffee and bagel shops in five counties. 
Their daughter was consistently on the honor roll and received top marks at school in every subject, especially her favorites: math and science. She wanted to be either a naturalist or a biologist when she grew up. 
She loved to explore the woods and creek on their property. Every summer when school was out, as soon as she woke up in the morning, she scarfed down a quick breakfast and headed out the backdoor, packed lunch in one hand and a copy of "A Field Guild to the Flora and Fauna of Ohio" in the other.
She kept a pen sticking out of the guide so that she could check off wildlife or plants that she'd identified. She took notes in the margins and in any blank space in the book that she could find, pretending that she was a real naturalist in the wild, documenting the habits and habitats of wild, dangerous animals. The only dangerous animal, the only predator she'd ever seen was a shy coyote that was out hunting in the early morning. She was downwind of it or she might not have seen it at all. She was frightened at first, but then the coyote saw her and hightailed it in the opposite direction. It had been just as afraid of her as she'd been of it!
One day, while she was hiking through the woods, she saw a deer. 
Deer were common in the area and she saw them often along the roadside at dusk when the family was riding home after some event, dinner or a movie, in town. She'd never seen one in what she'd come to think of as "her woods" before, however. 
Carefully and quietly she tracked it, stopping and crouching behind trees in order not to let it get sight of her. It stopped every so often and scent the air, as if it could smell her. Then it wandered off nervously a few paces and stopped to nibble the grass again. 
The girl crept around it, using what cover she could find while it was occupied eating, and tried to get downwind. 
The young doe, its sense of hearing much greater than a human's, heard a noise, maybe it heard the girl's breathing, although she was still a good twenty or thirty feet away from it. It looked up, wide-eyed, and angled its ears first one way, then another...honing in on the slightest noise. It sniffed the air again and caught her scent. The doe went scampering into a clearing ahead and...
Disappeared into thin air!

Poof! Just like that. 
The girl, who'd broke cover as soon as the deer took off and was attempting to keep pace with it, stopped suddenly in her tracks, stunned. 
One second ago the deer had been running in a sunny clearing. The next second it was like the deer had never been there. All that remained was a sort of shimmery something that looked like dust motes. Glittery dust motes. 
The girl dropped her book and headed toward the strange floating substance. 
As soon as she was close, she reached out her hand to touch it. 
She screamed, but no one would hear her. The sensation was like falling, tumbling, spinning. She began to grow dizzy. She shut her eyes tightly and prayed the sensation would stop. She thought that she might faint. She had a feeling of being smashed and stretched thin, like dough being kneaded and pulled to make pizza crust. Remarkably, there was no pain, only extreme discomfort. Her head felt like a balloon, her ears like they were full of cotton. 
Suddenly, her buttocks and then her back and thighs came into contact with something hard. Very hard. She heard noise: voices, music, a horse neighing. The sound of clop...cloppity...clop...and creaking. 
She opened her eyes. 
She saw a scene before her straight out of a western movie. She was in a town, lying on her side on the doorstep of a building. Looking around her she saw a horse pulling a cart driven by a man wearing clothes that seemed mismatched: a shirt and a vest from the Renaissance period and blue jeans. He reined the horse with one hand and in the other rested a sawed-off shotgun. 
The store fronts on the opposite side of the cobbled street had an old-time western feel to them as well: Hyatt and Son: Greengrocers, Evans Rx Emporium, and Mulholland Meat & Storage Locker were some of the signs. 
Slowly and with some dizziness, she got her feet under her and stood up. 
Looking further up the street she saw signs for other businesses that confused her: Crope United Kim Exchange and Crope Public Trust. This last one had a gallows set in a courtyard surrounded by benches. She shivered. 
If it were the scene of an old T.V. western, the gallows would have made sense. But there was something else, something out of place with the television western movie theory. Perhaps it was the burnt-out shells of automobiles, buses, and what even looked like tanks in random locations along the street. 
She turned around to get a better look at the building whose doorstep she landed on. She looked up at the sign: "The Good Man's Rest." A plaque next to the door read: "Fine food, drink and whatever other comfort a man's body requires! For a Good Man's Rest, Inquire Within." 
The girl, the daughter of the former mayor of Garrettsburg, Ohio, had her fist poised to knock on the door when it suddenly flew open. A dark-haired forty-ish woman stood just inside the door, looking at her and smiling warmly. Her eyes had an angry glint however, and the girl felt suddenly frightened. 
"Well...lookee, lookee what the cat dragged home! You new in town, little girlie? Come on in and take your rest with me."