You never really know how much you miss something until it’s taken away. I was recently hospitalized for three weeks, the majority of which was spent in the ICU. Things were moving so quickly I didn’t have time to consider much of anything. Finally, the day came I was released. I required an additional two weeks of physical therapy and rest to begin my recuperation. Those days staring at my computer were nearly unbearable, knowing I couldn’t work. I was jones’ing to write. I had left some of my characters in such precarious positions that they must be wondering what happened to me. Well sufficed to say, by the grace of God, I’m on my way to recovery and back to writing. You’ll be happy to hear that all my characters made it out alive (except the ones I had destined to experience an untimely demise). Once again, all is right with the universe. Oh. . . and if I haven’t mentioned it before: It’s great to be back !
Belac, Ben, Eve, Pete and three of Belac’s men took turns lowering into the cave through the hole used to steal the Andor. Seven others remained above to trace the same path that the ones below would traverse.
Belac handed each of his men two wooden branches and kept two for himself to use as torches. Once they were lit, he spoke.
“You must remember the Andor is not to be touched. It must be carried by the poles inserted through the rings on each side. This is also the same for the Shadow Ones. If they touch the Andor they will cease to be.”
As the group moved deeper into the cave, they struck the ceiling with a long wooden rod. The men above would place an ear to the ground to follow them as they progressed.
“We will halt for a moment,” Belac said. “The torches are growing dim and we must replenish the fuel supply.” He opened a bag and pulled several strips of cloths smeared with a black substance that smelled of petroleum. He wrapped the cloth around his torch. At once, the fire light increased. He did the same for the three of his comrades and then the group continued on.
“Will the torches help us against the Shadow Ones in the caves as we search for the Andor?” Ben asked.
“In a minor way,” Belac replied, “if your skill is such that you are able to touch them with the flame.”
“Is this the reason we have the torches instead of using the night vision instilled within us?” Ben asked.
“We will rely on both.”
The group continued deeper into the underground lair. As they traveled through the tunnel it divided, heading in different directions leaving a menagerie of catacombs. They came to a halt with no clear direction to search.
Belac pulled more of the strips from his bag and wrapped the torches increasing the light throughout the immediate area.
“Gather the group closer together,” Belac ordered. “We must intensify the light into a single component, to battle our enemy.”
Several shadow creatures danced in and out of the groups vision as they moved closer and then further away from the firelight. As they did so, the torch bearers would swing their burning weapons in unison, causing portions of the creatures to disappear and forcing them to back away.
The group moved with intent following the retreating creatures, all the while developing an insight of where their quarry lay.
“I sense we are growing closer,” Belac said, extending his hand to stop Ben, Eve, and Pete’s progress.
Belac’s three men took the lead, their torchlight fading. Volton, who traveled ahead of the rest, left the ground without warning. Amar reacted, thrusting his torch into the shadow creature holding his friend. The flame startled the creature, causing the spot it touched on its dark form to disappear; however, the gesture came too late as Volton slammed into the ceiling hard enough to shatter his spine and flatten the back of his head. He fell to the ground with a sickening thud that left him twitching as his involuntary nervous system protested one final time.
I thought I would try something different, so I spent the last 3 weeks in the hospital in the ICU. After an additional week of recovery, I decided I didn’t much care for the situation I found myself, so I came home. Another week of recovery and I’m ready to resume my blog, spewing humor and off the wall commentary on writing and anything else that presents itself as suitable fodder.
I thought I’d take a moment to relay the circumstances which led me to become a writer. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis November 2006. Two months later, January 2007, the position I held as a trade show construction supervisor and warehouse manager was abolished after sixteen years. During our winter fishing trip to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, my son suggested I give writing a shot. I began to pen my old standard, ‘short stories,’ while still employed, uncertain if I had a novel within. A story line soon emerged pulling me into the world of “Rising Tide.” With my first novel reaching completion, I decided to delve into the world of self-employment, opening a single employee (me) drafting business (CAD).
It’s now the spring of 2008. I find a publisher to take on my novel which becomes a reality in the spring of 2009. My drafting business is going gangbusters. I’m having to put in 14 hours a day 6 days a week.
July 2008 rolls around, and guess what . . .the economy tanks, my business nearly beating it down the toilet, and I’m up to my armpits in edits and re-writes, which ain’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it proves that one out of two (here’s that word again) ain’t bad.
Fast forward to today. I recently released my fourth novel, “Deadly Reign.” I have two more books in the works. The next in the “Rising Tide” series and a stand-alone novel that revives a character from a previous book used in a cameo role and now as the protagonist. I’ve just scratched the surface in the world of authorism. So I certainly don’t feel qualified to offer any spectacular, over the top, fail proof words of wisdom. If I were to offer any advice, I’d simply say: Never give up, expect rejection, don’t take yourself too seriously, and most importantly, have fun. God bless!
“I believe my purpose is known to all present,” Cahotic replied.
Caleb, Ben and Eve joined Pete and Orac.
“Mount up,” Caleb said, “and do not remove your eyes from them.”
Pete complied and climbed onto his horse.
“Prepare your weapons,” Caleb ordered.
“I need no other than these,” Orac stated, holding up his fists.
“Now, Caleb,” Cahotic chastised, “is that a proper welcome for old friends?”
“Orac,” Caleb said, motioning to the giant.
Orac backed up to meet Caleb. “Yes?” he said.
Caleb leaned over and whispered into Orac’s ear.
Orac smiled and then nodded, returning to his previous spot.
“Make ready,” Cahotic said, “and separate the necessary parts. We must renew our supply of gel.”
The riders pulled their swords and moved forward. The line was staggered in a stepped orientation, allowing each rider to shield the one behind. As the first aberration moved onto the snow-covered ice, an inaudible cracking ensued. Caleb sensed the ice give under the great weight, as the second rider followed his predecessor.
“Now, Orac,” Caleb ordered.
Orac bent over, slamming his mammoth fists into the ice. Cracks developed in the crust, spreading from the epicenter in spider-like fashion. Orac continued his barrage, crawling further onto the ice as he decimated the concrete water. He felt two points of pressure along his back. A small figure wrapped in fur vaulted from his flank and onto the rear of the first rider’s beast. He wielded a spear with a fine bronze tip attached to a smooth brown shaft. The newcomer plunged the spear with no ill effects, hitting pieces of armor and plated green scales. The first rider and his steed dipped to the left and then to the right. An ear-splitting crack echoed through the forest, and the rider sank. As the creatures continued their descent, the small figure jumped from the rider. With uncanny agility, the strange fur-covered form bounced along small chunks of ice, floating in the stream until he reached the bank. Astonishment enveloped The Three, uttering not a sound as they watched this acrobat.
The second rider attempted to turn and make it back to solid ground, reaching the bank as the ice collapsed beneath him. The animal sank to its midsection before it could gain a hold with its forelimbs, the aberration it bore slid off its back. Steam drifted upward from the pair as the water permeated their bodies.
“Orac!” Caleb yelled. “Enough.”
Orac ceased his assault and circled around to return to his comrades.
Caleb turned to Ben. “Gather wood for a fire,” he said.
“What about the . . . ?” Ben asked.
“Wood,” Caleb barked, “and quickly.”
Ben, Pete and Eve dropped from their horses as the ice gave way, plunging Orac into the frozen slush.
The first rider was now chest deep in the center of the stream. Huge bubbles from underneath exploded as the beast that bore him disintegrated. The rider himself silently melted into the stream, his head exploding in small puffs as if boiling in a cauldron.
The second rider’s mount, using its front claws, inched itself onto the bank. Its rider plunged his sword deep into the beast, allowing it to pull him along. The pair breached the water’s surface, both formless from the midsection down, their remaining torsos dissolving in a mass of tiny gurgling eruptions.
The topic of my blog post this week is something I swore I would never do, if for no other reason than I loathe the subject matter. My favorite genres when I write are science fiction, fantasy, and action adventure. When it comes to fantasy I avoid kings, queens, knights, castles, dragons, damsels in distress and unicorns with extreme prejudice!
Well, it looks like the old saying rings true once again, never say never. And I mean never ever say never because you can bet it will return to chomp unmercifully upon your major gluteus muscles, as just happened to me. I made the mistake of asking a female (my newly acquired daughter) her opinion on the theme of my next blog. “Unicorns,” she said. So here is my offering, even though it manifested into a negative presentation. I’m forming a fact-finding blue ribbon commission to study the feasibility of changing the unicorn name to “Unihorn.” Of course, we could always replace the horn with an ear of corn and keep the name as is. Think about it and just imagine – we’d finally have something (though a bit ridiculous) that actually makes sense.
If you’re wondering about “my newly acquired daughter”, that’s fodder for another blog, but the story is quite a sweet one.
A wall of water was now visible at the far end of the canyon, traveling at an incredible rate of speed toward Ben, Eve, and Eleazor. Ben turned to glimpse a second wall of water coming from the opposite direction.
That’s impossible, He thought, we just came that way. Ben seized Eve and pushed her upward.
“Take hold of the tree branch,” he yelled over the now thundering sound of the water. Eve complied and then Ben jumped, grasping the lower branch and pulling himself into the tree beside Eve.
Ben looked down and noticed Eleazor still playing with his toes, oblivious to the events unfolding around him. As Ben and Eve climbed higher in the tree attempting to reach the upper edge of the canyon, the two waves collided on the pair.
Something akin to being squished between two bricks dislodged both Ben and Eve from their tree top perch. The water covered the canyon floor and Eleazor was nowhere to be found.
Ben and Eve had held fast to each other’s hand until a large fast-moving object missed Eve but kissed the back of her head. The near miss caused the couple to lose their grip and Eve to be sucked under water in the objects wake. Ben dove and freed his wife from the dying turbulence. He grabbed her around the waist and headed upward.
As Ben struggled to reach the life-giving air, he glanced back at the retreating object. Big and orange were the only sight his brain would allow him to process.
Ben burst through the surface of the water inhaling air between coughs and sputters. Turning his attention to Eve, he found she was groggy and sported a respectable knot on the back of her head. Ben struggled in the torrent of water to keep Eve from slipping away. He had become so turned around he didn’t know which direction he was moving. Was he advancing deeper into the canyon or retreating whence he came.
A large jet of bubbles surrounded them. As they subsided, Eleazor broke the surface and bobbed up and down in the water.
“Bennie boys!” he exclaimed. “And Evies, too! Me back! What you two is doin?”
Ben opened his mouth to speak, but a wave stifled his response, prompting a coughing fit.
Eve broke from Ben’s grasp. As her head dropped beneath the surface, the cool water partially revived her.
To keep from losing his wife, Ben clutched her floating brunette locks; any remaining grogginess cleared. Eve came to the surface with a shout, her hand searching for purchase. As she found Ben’s collar, he pulled her close.
“Good to see you,” she sputtered.
“Ben smiled. “Why didn’t you tell me you couldn’t swim?”
If looks could kill, Ben thought.
“Just trying to backstroke in a shipping lane before I mentioned my lack of prowess in the water.” That’s when Eve noticed the bouncing orange gargoyle. “I see Li’l Abner is still with us,” she said, her voice taking on more than a hint of disgust.
“Hi, Evies!” Eleazor exclaimed. “Me back, too!”
Eve smiled and nodded. Her eyes fixated on Ben, asking, What now?
Ben stared back, but before his answer became clear, they began to spin.
“What’s happening?” Eve asked.
“We is spinny-spin-spin!” Eleazor replied. “Let’s go faster! We need more faster!”
His request did not go unanswered as their speed doubled.
“I’m not sure, Eve,” Ben said, ignoring the bobbing orange monstrosity.
Eve held Ben in a death-grip. He watched as Eleazor swam unhindered amidst the churn.
“It’s a whirlpool!” Ben exclaimed.
The spinning water increased in speed until three heads disappeared at the bottom of the vortex.