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.
Rustling, and then uneven stomps, could be heard inside moving closer. All became silent before something slammed into the door.
Orac and Eve both jerked back at the sudden noise. Even Pete, behind them on the sleigh, raised his head before lowering it again.
The door opened, stopping just wide enough for a grizzled old woman to step into the opening. She wore brown unlaced work boots, scuffed and cracked with age. Scrawny unshaven legs rose out of the boots into a faded plaid mid-length skirt, tied at the waist with a length of rope. “What in the name of Jeezy Pete is you two a doin’ out here?”
Eve opened her mouth to speak and was immediately cut short.
“Keep it to yerself,” the old women squawked. “Don’t make no never mind to me anyhow.”
A moth-eaten sweater covered a gingham blouse that clung to her from months of not bathing. Bony fingers held a long-stem pipe. Three brown teeth could be counted as she drew heavily on whatever substance burned in the pipe’s bowl. “I never thunked I’d a seen it, but sure nuff I guess it’s here.” Her leathery face seemed to pull her features deep into her skull. Black eyes glared from their sockets and a floppy weather-worn cotton hat sat atop her head. She looked around Eve and noticed Pete huddled on the sleigh. “Dadburn it all to pieces,” she said, grinding her pipe between her gums. She turned around and pushed her fist through a wooden wall behind her. Splinters and dust flew in all directions. “I done and fetched up the wrong count again. They’s three of ‘um and one of ‘um is a illn’ and sittn’ out in the snow. Lookie here ya old buzzard, have ya ever seen such a sight?”
The door opened, revealing an old man, more than a foot taller than his female counterpart. He was barefoot, errant nails twisting several inches from his toes, his hairless legs disappearing at the lower calf into a tattered night shirt. He held a funnel, similar to a miniature gramophone, to his ear. A scraggly gray beard cascaded halfway down his chest.
“Look,” Eve said, nudging Orac, “there’s something moving in his beard.”
Orac focused on the beard and soon could see small brown vermin darting in and out of the hairy foliage. His face was old and drawn with a long pointed nose, no discernible teeth, and a pipe jutting from his near lipless mouth.
“What in tarnation you goin’ on about, ya old bat?” he yowled. She elbowed him in the ribs.
“I know yer deef,” she replied, “but ‘er ya blind, too, ya ol’ coot?”
He grabbed his side and began to cough up huge balls of phlegm, depositing them on the threshold of the door. Ignoring the old man’s distress, she addressed the two and Orac.
“Taint a fit night out fer man nary a demon,” she said. “You three git yerself up and in here now! They’s things out here you wouldn’t wanna run into in the daylight, much less on a nite like this here nite.”
Orac scooped up Pete and followed the old woman into the house. They had to step around the old man, still hacking in the doorway. They made their way down a long, dimly lit hall. The scampering and scratching of small unseen beings were evident from the sounds behind the walls.
Eve tensed. I wonder which side of the wall they’re on? She imagined long scaled insects with fangs dripping with venom and mangy rats two feet long jumping onto her shoulders while the bugs invaded her hair.
The trip through the hallway seemed to take forever. Eve entered into a large living area, avoiding the onset of hyperventilation that was overtaking her. She wiped the beads of sweat from her forehead.
“How is Pete doing?” Eve asked Orac.
“With his injuries, it will be a long journey; however, I have no doubt his recovery will be complete.”
Two beds lined one wall and a small dinette with five chairs sat in front of a stone fireplace with a flat rock top. A wooden cabinet, pushed tight to the side of the fireplace, with three shelves and no doors, became a makeshift cupboard. Cut into the stone directly beside the firebox itself was a rectangular-shaped hole which served as an oven. An unidentifiable hunk of meat crackled over the open flame and the enticing smell washed over them.
“We gettin’ ready to sup,” the old woman said. “If ya wanna mouthful, then take a seat, if ya don’t, then suit yerself.” She yelled back up the hallway, “Er ya comin’, ya lazy sack a’ nuthin? Fixins is gettin’ cold and I aint apt to warm ‘em back up fer ya.”
A garbled “Aye” filtered up the hallway. The old woman walked up to Orac and tapped him in the chest with her pipe. “You can make a pallet for that there sickun on the floor in the corner at the foot a’ that first bed. You be a’findin’ blankets on the shelf just above that very same corner.”
She turned to baste the meat on the fire.
Turning back around, she squinted her eyes and pointed a bony finger in Orac’s direction. “Mind you, you don’t put him on my bed. I don’t take kindly to strangers lyin’ where I lie.”
As the old woman tended to the meal, Eve took a moment to survey her surroundings. The floor and walls were made of the same faded wooden planks. Beneath the ancient thatched roof, rafters branched out like an oak rib cage. A multitude of diverse insects could be seen scampering in and out of the thatch. They occasionally rained down on the floor and made a mad dash for the nearest crack or corner in which to disappear.
On top of the sizzling flat stone of the fireplace, the old woman ladled an unknown gruel from a large pot into two smaller bowls.
The old man sauntered into the room, still coughing, having recovered from his partner’s jab in the ribs.
“Best get to cuttin else we’ll be here all night,” the old woman said.
He began to strop a large butcher knife against a piece of leather hanging from the wall. “I’m a thinkin you might a busted a couple ribs with that elbow a yern,” he complained.
“If’n I did, you deserve every one of um.”
He cut several large chunks of the roasted meat, placed them on a wooden serving platter, and joined the old woman at the table.
After several mouthfuls, the old woman wiped her chin with her sleeve and glared at Eve, Pete and Orac.
“I ain’t ‘yo momma and I ‘don teld ya once that if ya wanna eat, then eat.” She swallowed another mouthful. “An best be quick about it, cuz once I clean up this here mess, ain’t nobody eatin’ till ‘morrow mornin’.” She motioned with her fork towards the fireplace, “Now git to it!”
Eve and Orac locked eyes, uncertain what to do next. Their lull soon brought an answer.
“I ain’t gon tell you nary nuther time,” the old woman screamed. She stood, and grabbing one of the empty plates, slung it at the two surprised visitors. Orac caught the plate before it could smash against the wall.
Have you ever attempted to write a blog post and had absolutely no idea what to say? Hence, the first sentence. Even now I’m killing virtual paper space searching for something coherent to offer my readers. In actuality, I think they call this writer’s block, although I don’t believe that to be the case. I’ve never suffered from the aforementioned writer’s block. I have run through short spells when my mind refuses to focus on the task at hand. In this case, I’m trying to discover what the task may be or else succumb to examining the inside of my eyelids…well, whattaya know, a short ten-minute power nap kinda shakes up the cobwebs in my cranium and allows me to hopefully make this post a bit more meaningful. Of course, as I read over what I have written, it seems to make more sense simply because it’s something we all face at one time or another. I know when I’m working on a novel I try to write my character into a corner, much like a painter painting a floor would paint himself into a corner with no doors or windows through which to flee. I find if I write my character into this type of corner with no visible means of escape, once I pull him from the jaws of certain demise I have used my strongest writing to do so…hey, I may have just snatched this post from the chops of defeat.