Before you freak out and run away, I know this is not a superhero story, and it’s not even fictional, but it doesn’t have to be a superhero story for it to be magical. I got to officiate, and so I get to tell the story.
Where was I? Oh, yeah!
So Sunday night my best friend got married.
It was kind of surreal, watching the events unfold before me as I guided them through their ritual and made what can sometimes be a rather stiff and even boring event somewhat… You know what? Let’s just go with “less boring” for now.
I can’t tolerate the dry, staid manner which traditional weddings so frequently dive into with both feet — veil and train following in a flash of white. While there are moments deserving of more solemnity than others, to carry out a wedding with no flair leaves it akin to a funeral (cue the comparison jokes here). This is a moment when the participants should be at their emotional peak. Dropping them into a rite with no personality is an insult. Give them something lively. Let them remember it. Decades from now, they should look at one another and say, “Oh man, when he busted out the stories about cavemen, I was rolling.”
It was therefore wonderful when Chelsea came to me and said, “Be funny.”
She didn’t want the usual pomp and organ-playing. It wouldn’t be the right fit for them. So they didn’t get it. Instead they got hobbit jokes and cavemen and a Reverend in a Deadpool shirt.
But in the end, they got what they wanted: that connection to one another that a marriage brings. Yeah, it sounds sappy, and I know that the connection is from within, not without, but the emotional side of things says, “Hey! We’re married now!” and it means a lot.
So congratulations, Luke and Chelsea. Thank you for making me a part of your day, and a part of your life. May the coming years bring you love and joy, peace and happiness.
And may Ook’Mok never grace your dome with his club.
The Chickasaw have a legend that stalks the woods and punishes the careless. When an artifact that keeps the monster from rampaging is removed from sacred ground, Jericho is caught up in the quest to return this beast back to its slumber before it destroys him.
There will be more stories forthcoming from our Mr. Sims in the near future. The short stories are fun to write and they keep me prepped to add to the novel that is in the works.
Feel free to comment or send me a message and let me know what you thought of it.
David Bowie was playing on the stereo when I killed Amanda Welsh. “The Jean Genie”. I felt my head bobbing and swaying from side to side in time with the music as I held the garotte. It was kind of irritating that her feet were out of synch when they flopped and thumped on the floor. That didn’t last, though.
Some time after her last twitch I peeled the wire from where it had sunk in to her flesh. trapped air escaped in a huff and I leaned in quick to suck it into my lungs. Nothing like that last dying breath. It’s that connection with death that only certain people know well. It’s almost like breathing in their memories. The last of everything they were is in there.
One thing I do hate about urban kills, though, is the noise factor. So much easier to crack the skull with a bonesaw, but they seem to draw attention with the sound they make. They’re like a minigun winding up before it starts thundering. So no power tools tonight. This is old school. That’s why I have the toolbox.
It doesn’t take nearly as long as it used to. Back seventy or forty or even twenty bodies ago and it would have been a lot of work and time. I’ve got it pretty worked out now. Pop the skull cap, dig in with a blade. I make a little triangle pattern around it and just hoist out a chunk. Bingo. One pineal gland from a nineteen year old Caucasian female. That leaves me eighteen more to go.
The younger it gets, the easier it is. Finding the women for ages ninety through one hundred was probably the hardest. Those that are alive at that age are usually under some kind of care. Eighty to ninety was a little easier. Mid-sixties up to the eighty mark? Gravy. No one remembers them much, and by the time someone checks on them I’m long gone. Down to about fifty was easy to find, but I had a few fighters. From fifty through the mid-thirties they all fought. After that I chose more carefully. I had a large pool to pick from. The one with the fresh cast on her arm. The one back from the rather painful ski mishap. Amanda had one of those inflatable boot things on her right foot. What’s she going to do? Run away?
Back at home the gland in its bath of oils and unguents goes into place with the other eighty-one of them in the safe. Miles away, Amanda Welsh’s home is turning into ash around her remains. All that is left of her now floats in a baby-food-sized jar. I can feel it staring at me as I close the door.
It’s a pain in the ass having to take this many glands, but the books are quite precise on what I need. All the non-perishable ingredients have been assembled. The basement floor has all the circles and shapes as written. Cut and polished by hand, two years work. Every groove filled with molten silver. Everything so precise. Nothing to chance.
Eighteen more glands. Eighteen and I will have the key to open the gate.
I’m sitting looking at the screen. It’s blank, and it’s fucking killing me. I remember what it was like to be the writer I once was, where words would tumble from my brain faster than I could put them to paper or key. I want it back. That carefree, “look at it all filling the page” kind of writing that once consumed me. Daily writing that numbered in the thousands of words is now in the low hundreds at best, and I feel cheated. Wronged.
I bled words once. It was as if I could slit my wrist and pour a lexicon across the page that stole the tiniest part of my soul for the reader, inscribing with my own blood the very ideas I wished to convey. I gave them freely, knowing that even if I came out the other side a lesser person, the story was there. The sacrifice was well worth it.
Now the blood is just that: Blood, carrying letters instead of volumes. Gallons spill for the smallest of declarations. I bleed dry just to carry on meaningful dialogue.
How fucking weak I feel, reduced to spitting out everything I am for a meager paragraph. Drained of strength, I flop back and wait to regenerate enough to form another. Minutes have become hours and days. Still it gets no easier.
I look back and I can see me, sitting strong and proud in front of the monitor as words spewed from my veins and ran through the keys in crimson rivers. Cigarette in the corner of my mouth trailing smoke into my eyes, my twelfth cup of coffee cold beside the keyboard. Outside sounds blurring into a general susurration that is at once everything and nothing, meaningless noise and a constant stream of aural information. Fingers like blurs on the keys.
I want it back. I feel it, and it is just out of my reach. I can taste the air, thick with smoke and swirling with ideas that I seemingly plucked from the sky. It hovers there, just out of reach, and my heart screams to have it back.
Stolen in a moment of misery and pain, my muse cries and gnashes her teeth as she is separate from me.
Bring her back, I beg the universe. Capricious gods jeer and point, unwilling to grant even such a meager request. They are amused with my feeble attempts to be what once I was, and they hold her apart from me, letting a single tear drip through the veil now and again that I might never forget her.
I feel the brush of her fingers on my cheek, like ghostly reminders of the past, and I clutch at them for all I am worth, only to find them dispersing like smoke within my grasp. Why can I no longer feel her loving touch?
Why is my blood less than once it was?
Why am I unable to complete the simplest of fictions without the strongest of efforts?
Back in the day, as it were, I submitted a short story to a competition and rolled out with the #1 slot. I recovered the tale the other day, and thought folks might enjoy a chance to check it out.
“Shapes of the Season” is a quick little read about a teen shapeshifter who decides that Hallowe’en is a good time to try taking the form of his favorite superhero…just in time to be caught in an ambush by the hero’s nemesis. Now Bill is a captive in the villain’s lair and must figure a way out of the situation.
Another of those quick shorts that you can zip through on a long break or during your lunch, it’s running under a buck for award-winning superhero prose. Enjoy, folks!
I recently sat down with Lisa M. Collins, one of the Pen and Cape Society members. Her new book, “THE HOUSE BAST MADE”, drops on June 15th, and I thought I’d see what makes her tick.
For those who don’t know her yet, Lisa’s non-fiction has been published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. She copy edited and researched on “Understanding Global Slavery” by University of California Press. Her Sci-Fi story, “The Tree of Life”, is in Issue #4 of Holdfast Magazine’s 2013-2014 anthology. These days Lisa edits for Metahuman Press, is a member of the Pen and Cape Society, and is an upcoming creative contributor with Pro Se Productions and Mechanoid Press. She is a Sally A. Williams Grant winner for writing from the Arkansas Arts Council.
What books have influenced your life the most?
I have read so many books in so many genres it is really hard to pick. Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis are two who rise to the top. Dragonlance books are a favorite, especially the ones with Raistlin Majere. I would also say movies and TV influence my writing quite a bit. I love Pacific Rim, Interstellar, Contact, anything Star Trek or Star Wars. Movies and TV show writers how to bring in the action and how to fit in small bits of back story without boring the reader.
Tell us about your writing environment. Do you have a writing area? A desk, maybe? Is there music?
Right now it’s nothing fancy. I generally write using my Chromebook either at the dining room table or sitting on the couch.
The relaxed approach. An author after my own heart! Speaking of which, who is your favorite author, and what is it that really makes their work important to you?
Recently I have fallen in love with the work of J.A. Jernay and the Ainsley Walker Gemstone Travel Mystery series. The books take you to exotic locales and the writing is tight. I learn so much from her style and the books are a rip roaring good time.
From time to time, we all have stories we ‘trunk’. Have you ever finished a project, looked at it, and decided you absolutely hated it?
I usually know I’m despising a project well before it is finished. I have a folder on my computer full of half-baked ideas. Recently I pulled one out of the abyss and polished it up. All it needs is an ending and I think it will be good to go…perhaps our bad or dud ideas just need more marinating.
Who would win in a fight between a lemur and a meerkat?
A meerkat would totally dominate. Not only are they tough enough to put the hurt on cobras, they are carnivores.
Storytelling is an ancient art. Where do you see it heading in the future?
Humans have been sharing stories since we were drawing pachyderms on cave walls. The fact is we as a species can’t help but share our thoughts and imagination with each other. Storytelling has gone viral out on the Net…I for one hope we never put the genie back in the bottle. I see the future continuing down the digital path. I think we will eventually have a generation of kids who have never owned a paper book.
What is your most interesting personal quirk that tends to appear when you are writing?
Selective hearing. When I’m really on and in my groove writing I become nearly deaf to the world around me. My husband could probably tell me the house was burning down around us, but until I smelled smoke I would be completely clueless.
What projects are you currently working on?
I have so many irons in the fire. I have plans for a New Pulp P.I. story, a Halloween anthology, and follow up novel to THE HOUSE BAST MADE. My main project is a new science fiction series simply called SPACE.
Well, this new one of yours, “THE HOUSE BAST MADE”, sounds intriguing and fun. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
When writing a novella or shorter fiction the hard part is giving enough details to keep the reader moving forward in the story, but also not dragging the reader down the unnecessary. Since I love Egyptian mythology it was a real balancing act.
Did you find yourself doing any specific research for this book? If so, what kind?
This novella contains a lot of references to the Egyptian pantheon of gods and goddesses. I often had to refer back to my notes to keep the bits and details about them clear.
What kind of future projects do you have planned?
I want to keep putting out books in regular intervals. I have plans each month to put out a novella, or cookbook, or anthology. My hope is to also put out 2-3 longer works each year.
About the lemurs: What if they had knives?
Even if a lemur had a knife they would just be making it easier for the carnivore to have their way with them.
Everyone comes down on the lemurs, man…
Lisa’s new book, “THE HOUSE BAST MADE”, comes out June 15th. You can find a link to it on her Amazon author page, here or a direct link here. You can also connect with her in a variety of online locations:
“I love Southern charm and food. I think everyone should get a taste of what we have cooking down here in the South…and not just in our skillets, but what we have cooking in our industry and our general Faulkneresque attitudes about life, liberty, the Oxford comma, and pursuit of happiness.” – Lisa M. Collins
To begin, let me state the following: This post may be triggering to some. It might not. Hell, I don’t know.
A lot has been said recently on the subject of “triggers” in fiction — written or on a performance basis. Rape scenes in film and television have ignited a firestorm of debate among authors and critics, readers and writers, creators and consumers. Various “-isms” have been decried in one form of media or another for being the counterproductive bullshit that they are. Words or phrases that leave some people uncomfortable or bring up memories allegedly better left buried are being assembled into lists so that they can be touted as “unacceptable” words.
Read that closely: Unacceptable words. A group of random people on the Internet are banding together to tell you what you can or cannot say, write, read, or shout from the rooftops. If they must be discussed, say these people, then you as a creator or author must place some form of “trigger warning” to let potential consumers know that they may well encounter discussions of sex, suicide, corpses, insects, firearms, spiders, death, abuse, eating disorders, or a laundry list of other topics. They ignore the fact that a true “trigger” bypasses all rational thought and acts as a neural stimulus that brings previous trauma slamming back into existence in the mind of one who has been harmed. A “trigger” is that thing which returns the victim to the scene of the crime, so to speak: The crash of noise that causes the veteran to grab his child and dive for cover, the scent of a particular cologne mixed with sweat that brings the sexual assault to the forefront of the mind and leaves the victim in terror that it is happening once again, the surprise touch from behind that puts the victim of a violent crime into a fetal ball.
The meaning of “trigger” has now been perverted by these faceless Internet people to mean essentially any word or concept that makes them uncomfortable. It has lost its true meaning as surely as has the word “terrorist” — once reserved for those who used terror tactics to advance a political goal, but now simply a euphemism for anyone the user deems opposed to their personal outlook on politics or patriotism.
Blogs have appeared out of nowhere telling writers that this topic or that one is never acceptable to use in your story for any form of motivation: a person once raped may never use that event as grounds for revenge, a person abused may never use that abuse as a reason to become an advocate for the abused, on and on ad nauseum. It might be upsetting to someone who has suffered such an event or trauma in their past. They bypass completely the thought that stories are meant to move the reader, that words are meant to explore, and that what a writer puts in a story is generally there for a reason.
Trigger and trigger bar assembly, GLOCK pistol.
While this image is much more what I see in my mind when I hear the word, “Trigger”, for some the word has come to mean the oh-so-self-centered school of thought that says, “I don’t want to see (or hear or read or experience) anything that might make me uncomfortable, so it’s your responsibility to warn me that it is there!”
Read it again: No.
It is not my job as an author, as a citizen, or even as a fellow human being, to protect you from thought. In point of fact, many would argue otherwise: that it is the job of writers to expose you to new thoughts, ones that make you question the things you once held as unassailable truth. That will always make you uncomfortable.
Years ago, I wrote a story for Gordie Laughlin’s super-fic page Heroic Monkey called “Bait”. The story of the aftermath of an alien invasion and the resistance to it by a group of determined Supers,it was a contest entry that surprised me by winning.
The fine folks over at FreedomFiction.com have reprinted “Bait”, and I’ll happily share it with you all once again for the first time since 2008. Click the dinosaur and enjoy!