You Know You’re a Dragonriders of Pern Fan If:

dragon walking zone

The Pern books are unquestionably one of the giants of fantasy and one the best fantasy series. They were one of my earliest introductions to the genre and oh did my heart sing within those pages!  My standard answer to that little-kid question of ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ was ‘dragonrider’.  Between you and me, I’d still love to answer that question the same way today!

 

  1. You know what ALL dragons have in common.
  2. You own a copy of the Dragonriders of Pern board game
  3. You know which colors belong to which gender of dragon
  4. You know that ‘thread’ has nothing to do with sewing
  5. You know how many passes occurred through all the books  (9)
  6. You can name every main characters, know which book they appear in, AND the year the book was published
  7. You know the names of every rider and the dragon they rode
  8. You know the names of all of Menolly’s fire dragons
  9. You’ve played the Dragonriders of Pern 1983 video game
  10. You danced in glee when you heard Warner Bros. has optioned the entire Pern series – that’s 12 books of awesomeness to work with!

And, for your viewing pleasure, a trailer made by one fan on what she feels is the direction the films should take.  She put this together using clips from other films, and it’s pretty great!

And a bit of a throwback, the Atari 8-bit game:

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Productivity Hacks for Writers – Tip #2

NeverForgetProductivity Hack #2: Monthly Strategy Session

The weekly strategy session is essentially the same as the daily session with one key difference. The goal here is to look at a much broader time horizon. Writing books takes time. This is not a task that you start and finish within a day or a week. Writing a book takes many months of planning and work. Publishing a book takes even longer. It is quite common for the entire process to take well over a year.

This long time horizon means authors must make frequent long-view assessments to ensure adequate progress is being made to reach each milestone along the way. The monthly strategy session works best if done at the beginning of the month with a focus on considering what must be done over the course of that month to meet any deadlines. The results of this planning session will feed into the daily sessions discussed above.

As an example, if your goal is to self publish a novel one of the first steps in that process is to actually write the novel. You must build a world, create a plot, flesh out characters, and then write the story. After the story is written you will need to engage the services of an editor, a cover artist, an interior designer all of whom have their own busy schedules and often are booked for months ahead. Having an understanding of when you will need each set of services, and therefore when to start reaching out to schedule them, is critical. Mussing up on this might delay the release of your book by months.

Another thing to note is the importance of keeping your name out there, particularly when you are starting out in your career. Keeping a steady stream of books is critical. Some experts say as frequently as a new book out every 6 months! Keeping the line stocked with stories and moving forward is critical if you are going to have a new book out that frequently. This takes careful planning and timing, and an excellent strategy to succeed.

Think of tip #1 and tip #2 in terms of driving a car. There are many things you need to do to drive a car. You need to put the key in the ignition, turn the key to start the car, and put the car into gear all before you can even move the vehicle. From there you need to press the gas to move forward and speed up, the brake to slow down, and steering to ensure you hit nothing and get to your destination. The daily strategy session covers these smaller incremental daily tasks involved in driving a car. It answers how you get to your destination. The monthly strategy session is where you determine what the destination is. It is where you decide where you are going. Getting into a car and driving will certainly move you around. But if you don’t know where you are going you’re not really making any progress. Similarly, having a destination in mind but no plan on how to get there brings you no closer to your goal. Both are critical ingredients to your success, no matter what it is you are trying to accomplish.

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Desiderium – Monsters, The First Ch4

crumbling bldgMy #WedPeeks post for this week is chapter 4 of my new novella, scheduled for release this coming October. Desiderium is a dark fantasy/horror and is for mature readers. There is violence, sex, and a lot of profanity in these pages – you have been warned!

 

~ FOUR ~

Passionate Interludes 

The dream is back. Dreams, I guess. I’m scared of them, but so far they’re not anything like the first one. These ones are sexy, not scary—beautiful, even, and I think whatever has possession of me has rubbed off on Sophie, too. Several times after these dreams I wake to find Sophie awake, too, and ready for me. Our lovemaking is particularly driven on those nights. We fuck desperately, hungrily—two starving castaways suddenly presented with a feast.

I’m pretty sure Sophie believes that this is some sort of a breakthrough, and likely due to the therapy sessions. But I stopped going to see that dumbfuck ages ago. It was too expensive, and was gaining me nothing. She would be pissed if she found out I was lying to her, but for now I plan to enjoy it. I’m just grateful that the dreams and resulting urges aren’t violent and perverse like that first time. I sometimes feel guilty about taking advantage of Sophie this way, but damn, the dreams turn me on, and she so clearly feels it too. It satisfies both of us. A win-win all around.

The dreams are always the same for me. Sophie and I wrapped in one another’s arms, making love. The soft glow of flickering candlelight, and there’s low music playing somewhere in the background, but mostly I’m consumed by the feel of our flesh pressed tightly together, our breath in synch with our bodies’ rhythmic movements. But then our bodies vanish and we become only our breath, combining and mingling and floating through the air, her feelings turning to mine and mine to hers. We become one entity, an entity of pure passion and pleasure and orgasm. It’s a closeness like nothing I’ve ever felt in my waking life, something only possible in dreams.

These dreams are like the best wet dream of your life, the kind that resulted in you volunteering to do the laundry the next day out of embarrassment for what you left behind when you were a teenager. Except I don’t have to be embarrassed, because Sophie is right there with me. We’ve been making love every night for months, frequently more than once a night. More than when we first began dating.

We’re both kind of baffled by this change, really. I don’t know where this passion and energy is coming from, and clearly she doesn’t, either. I’ve caught her watching me from time to time, her expression beatific but with a shadow of suspicion in her eyes. I think if I could stop myself from going out at night, that suspicion would vanish. I half-think she believes I’ve found someone else, and instead of physically cheating I come home to her to funnel my frustration and desire for another woman into our lovemaking.

But I really do think that the dreams have her, too, and that’s what keeps her from asking. Or accusing. We don’t talk about it. We don’t talk much about anything. Our mouths are generally busy with other activities.

It’s getting out of hand. Even those nights Sophie and I are together twice are no longer enough for me. I think about it all the time, more than normal. More than I’ve thought about it in all my life, even when I was first figuring it out as a boy and everything was bright and sharp and new.

I think about it as I wander through the city or lurk outside Blake’s old house. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve actually jerked off more than once while waiting outside the house our while pulled over in a dark alley. The urge simply overwhelms me, and I can’t help myself. I’ve tried not to, believe me. But it just gets stronger and stronger until I can’t stop it. It feels like getting caught in a rip current and being sucked out to sea, choking and spluttering on pleasure the whole way.

I’m at Blake’s house again tonight. I don’t know why I keep coming here—there’s obviously nothing here that will help me. I’ve been lingering for months now. If something were to happen here, surely it would have already. But this is one of the few places of his I know, so I keep coming back. I hang out for awhile, watching on high alert, staring out into the blank darkness of night. It doesn’t take long for me to get bored and for my thoughts to drift back to sex.

I catch a faint hint of a scent that I don’t recognize. It smells a little coppery, sharp—a bit like blood, but mostly of musk. It smells sexy, it smells like sex, and the more I inhale it the more turned on I get. I lean back, my thighs falling apart. It’s the most incredible scent I’ve ever encountered. I wriggle down further into the cradle of the seat, unzip, pull out my dick, and let the fantasies wash over me. Oh my god, that smell…some company is going to make a fortune off that perfume. It really is an aphrodisiac. I made love to Sophie twice before I left tonight, and now I’m jerking off again in the car. Some part of my brain recognizes the ridiculousness of it all even as I come on my pants with a muffled shout. No bother, no one will see in the dark.

Afterwards, feeling loose and boneless and just a little reckless, I drive to the alley that runs behind the building Blake’s body was found in. This time, though, I decide to park my car and I wander down into the alley’s dark maw. Why not? I stop at the halfway mark and sit on a ledge jutting out of a brick wall. I look down the alley in each direction and take in the city filth around me. Clearly this place isn’t used much—there’s garbage everywhere, and it stinks, too.

Underneath the usual garbage smell is something far more rancid and foul. It smells like something dead, rotting—something that would turn out to be filled with maggots if you poked at it. I can’t ignore it—there’s also a hint of that sexy musk perfume mixed into the rotten smell around me. I feel myself getting hard again and barely suppress a disgusted shudder.

I feel a flutter of fear in my gut. I know it’s not normal to feel turned on when you smell rotting flesh, but there was no denying the pheromone-addled undertone of rut in the air, too. Maybe this is what male animals smell when the female of their species is in heat. The smell of blood, yes, but also the smell of a female hungry to be filled. I may be human, but I can feel some wild remnant inside of me twitching awake and responding to that scent.

The scent gets stronger, and my response becomes stronger, too. I look down the alleyway again to make sure I’m alone. I look up at the buildings around me, but all of the windows are boarded up or bricked over. It’s 4 am in a dark alley in an awful part of town. But I’m alone here. Before I can question it, I pull out my dick and jerk off, fast and rough, coming onto the brick ledge so quickly I feel dizzy, not bothering to suppress my moans. There should have been little left after three ejaculations already tonight, but that smell…I feel hot and itchy all over, and more than a little embarrassed as I take in the huge load of jizz that I’ve just shot onto the ledge.

I yank up my pants and head home, where I should have been all along, snuggled up with Sophie. What’s wrong with me? What kind of a person sneaks out at night to jerk off in a dark alleyway or to lurk outside his dead brother’s house, hoping against hope to find whatever killed him? Even as I ask myself these questions, I know I can’t stop. I have to find that darkness, conquer it, kill it. Maybe then…maybe then these urges will stop.

Sophie was right that night all those months ago. I am a sick fuck.

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Writing is Dangerous Work

 

One of the (many) hazards of being a writer.

Artwork by: Kelci Crawford

Artwork by: Kelci Crawford

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Productivity Hacks for Writers – Tip #1

Screen shot 2014-09-04 at 10.14.18 AMWriters have one of the coolest jobs ever – they get to use their imagination, ingenuity, and creativity to build entirely new worlds inhabited with unique people they’ve drummed up out of the ether. But there are downsides too, and one of those is the reality that many writers – perhaps most – must balance out their time between their creative work and the work they do to pay the bills. When you are straddling two worlds it can be incredibly difficult to keep everything in the air and moving forward.  In this case, a morning strategy session becomes even more critical.

The idea is to spend 15 or so in the morning thinking about what you need to accomplish today.  Not tasks!  This is not task time but strategy time. Pull your eyes up from the ground, climb up a tall tree and look around you.  What are you really trying to accomplish, strategically.  From the point of view of 10,000 feet elevation, what are the most important things for you to be working on?  What will really move your day job or your writing career forward?  Tradeoffs will be necessary. Do you spend your free time writing, marketing, working on your website or with friends/family? The more you have to balance, the more strategic you need to be about your time.  Considering which things will really move you forward will help you determine what you push off for another day.  These ‘really move you’ items are what should go on your MUST DO task list for the day.

These things are usually the most important things for us to do, but are also the easiest to push aside in favor of noisier but less important ‘stuff’ clamoring for your attention.  Don’t be afraid to make tough decisions here – your future, the future of your department, of your family, is important. Treat it that way.

Once you’ve nailed the task or few tasks you MUST DO today give some thought to how you can best utilize the remaining time for the normal day to day work you want to do. Consider whether the task can be delegated to free up more time for you to work on those items on the MUST DO list. Keep in mind delegating isn’t about shrugging off work you don’t want to do. It is about giving others the opportunity to learn something new, polish a newly acquired skill, show off what they are capable of, or do a task they really enjoy doing.

This applies to home as much as it does to work. Perhaps your partner can run that one errand since it is so close to their route home from work. Perhaps the kids can do the laundry, teaching them responsibility and life skills. Consider delegation from the perspective of developing those around you, while freeing up your time to do the things only you can do. Also, procrastination is not always a bad thing. Perhaps the dishes don’t get done tonight in favor of some writing time. The point here is to consider the trade-off’s and make strategic decisions about what gets done today, what gets delegated, and what gets pushed to another day.

The final step in this one-person strategy session is scheduling out those tasks that you have not already delegated or eliminated.  Decide when it makes most sense to do them, in what order, and how long it will take to accomplish them.  Be reasonable here, don’t pile so much onto your day that it’s impossible to reach the bottom of the list – that becomes demoralizing. Schedule in time for thought and consideration, for interruption from questions or other issues that come up. If you end up not needing as much time as you though that simply means you can spend more time on those other items on the list.

Pausing for 15 or so minutes first thing everyday and taking the time to think about your life strategically can work wonders on your productivity. Not to mention your sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when you not only clear your list daily but also start to make critical progress on your larger objectives.

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Desiderium – Monsters, The First Ch3

http://www.deviantart.com/art/Creepy-109096395

http://www.deviantart.com/art/Creepy-109096395

My #WedPeeks post for this week is chapter 3 of my new novella, scheduled for release this coming October. Desiderium is a dark fantasy/horror and is for mature readers. There is violence, sex, and a lot of profanity in these pages – you have been warned!

 

~ THREE ~

Dark Alleys

It’s been three months since the dream. Oddly, things have returned to normal. Or at least mostly normal. I’ve kept my oath of going on the offensive, and several nights a week I sneak out after Sophie falls asleep and drive around in the dark, searching. This sure as hell would be easier if I knew what it was, or where I might find it. I just hope to hell I recognize it when I do.

I regularly go to Blake’s old house and lurk in the shadows in front, hiding from the view of the folks who live there now. I stay on the far side of the street in my car and sit there for hours, just watching. Waiting for something that might give me a hint as to where to go next.

At first I was uncomfortable with the lurking. I would sit low in the car so any late-night passersby wouldn’t be able to see me, and would duck even lower when a car drove by. I was paranoid someone would notice me being a creeper and report me. As time has gone by, though, I’m less uncomfortable with it. I don’t duck down anymore, haven’t for over a month now. People generally don’t believe bad things can happen to them, so when they see me, they don’t see a predator. They see a young man waiting to pick up his date, or a responsible driver pulled over to make a call or shoot off a text. I’ve discovered that being a stalker is actually alarmingly easy. And I like the dark—I like the privacy it affords, the isolation. No one stares at me in concern while wondering if I’m a cracked nut. I can hide in the dark, and I like that.

When I’m not parked in front of his house I drive around to the few places where I knew he had spent time during those last weeks before his death—mostly dark and dingy alleys scattered across the city. I have no idea what the fuck he did down here. Nothing but garbage and grime, most of the buildings empty, crumbling, and abandoned. I’ve wandered through several of them, running into prostitutes and junkies and passing by countless filthy corners in which to seek temporary chemical or sexual oblivion. I’ve found nothing helpful, but I have begun to feel an affinity with the people I pass by in these places. They are my people, lost and adrift, not anchored to the light of day like most, and riddled with self-loathing. They’re hiding, just as I am. I often wonder what accidental turn brought them to this desperate place in their lives. I tried to strike up conversations with some of them, but never get anywhere. I’ve asked them if they’ve ever found mummified bodies around the buildings, also with no luck. I guess even if they were to see one, they’d just believe it was part of a trip.

There was a nightclub, too. A seedy joint frequented mostly by hookers—and not the high-class sort, either, but the kind you’d have to be nursing a serious disregard for your personal wellbeing to want to dip your dick into. Some had sores clear as day, and most were clearly looking to feed their drug habit. A friendly place, but not in a friendly sort of way. And not the kind of place Blake would have hung out at. I sit at the bar and drink bottled beer—far too afraid to venture into the world of mixed drinks in this joint—and wonder what had caused Blake to fall so low. Why he had started hanging at places like this. I had an excuse—he’d pushed me here. But what had been the attraction for Blake?

I’ve yet to find anything in these late-night searches. Sophie is getting suspicious. She hasn’t said anything so far, but I’m sure she knows I’m leaving the house at night. She probably thinks it’s how I’m “working through” stuff—a part of the grieving process. It also probably doesn’t hurt that I’ve started seeing a therapist. But it’s only a matter of time until Sophie runs out of patience with me or decides she wants to know where the hell I am when I’m gone all night.

I don’t want to have that conversation. I like wandering around the city at night, and I like not having to see the way she looks at me sometimes these days. I know I’ve been avoiding her. I report back favorably on the therapy and then go hide somewhere until I can sneak out into the night. I’ll take it as long as she’ll give it. I’m not going to be the one to push this.

I go see the therapist twice a week. It’s a fucking waste of money. He wants to talk about my feelings. Ugh. Just—no. What kind of dude wants to sit around talking to another dude—especially one he doesn’t even know—about their feelings?

So, night after night, I slip out and search. The dream hasn’t returned, much to my relief. For weeks I couldn’t sleep at night for fear I’d wake up that…way again. But it seems to have been a one-night anomaly. But I’m not giving up just because the dream hasn’t returned. Its absence hasn’t softened my resolve.

I don’t know what I’m looking for, but I will not stop until I’ve found it and eliminated the threat. I don’t care at what cost.

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Speculative Fiction Blogger Book Fair – Sign Up Now!

Admit One

Admit One

The next Blogger Book Fair is being held November 10th-14th and you are all invited to participate! Anyone can join in the fun. Authors can promote their books, bloggers can help them do that, and readers can reap the rewards by entering giveaways, downloading free books and finding great deals. This Blogger Book Fair will feature speculative fiction, but if you write realistic fiction, non-fiction, or even poetry, you can have your books featured in future BBF’s.

So, how does it work?

Authors pay a small fee for each book or short story they want to enter. Books 20,000 words or more are $5 and short stories less than 20,000 words are $2. Authors can submit up to 7 of each type. Invoices will be sent within 48 hours of sign up and must be paid by October 10th. The BBF is free for bloggers and readers.

Authors and Bloggers will each host 5 authors on their blog during the Blogger Book Fair. Participants will be matched up according to genre and age categories. Once everyone is matched up, an email will be sent out containing a list of your guests and links to the information you can use on your blog.

Authors, in return for your payment, you’ll receive a certain amount of spots (depending on the number of books you feature) on the main giveaway Rafflecopters which will result in more followers for you. These giveaways will have big prizes that readers will want.

Bloggers will also receive a spot on the Rafflecopters.

More information is available on the FAQ page and on the Sign Up Pages:

AUTHOR

BLOGGER

READER

SPONSOR

Any further questions may be submitted to me via email at bloggerbookfair [at] gmail [dot] com. You can also head to the Blogger Book Fair website to get a feel for what it’s all about.

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Desiderium – Monsters, The First Ch2

My #WedPeeks post for this week is chapter 1 of my new novella, scheduled for release this coming October. Desiderium is a dark fantasy/horror and is for mature readers. There is violence, sex, and a lot of profanity in these pages – you have been warned!

 

~ TWO ~

Unhealthy Obsessions

The sobbing has stopped and there isn’t a sound to be heard from the bedroom. I wait on the couch, my heart pounding in a slow panic until I feel certain Sophie has fallen asleep. It seems I have convinced her, once again, that all is well in our world.

I am not so lucky. I feel sick at what’s happened, and afraid. I don’t remember the dream really—only a dark and twisted desire, a need to hurt, and the fact that I had taken an intense pleasure in it all. I can’t remember anything more, but am deeply rattled that it made me hurt Sophie, and scared that it might happen again. That next time it might be even worse.

I consider briefly going to a shrink. I promised Sophie I would, but I don’t really think that anything so mundane can help with what I’m struggling with. I sit up, lean forward, and drop my head into my hands, fighting the lump in my throat. How did I end up here? How could I have wandered so far away from the man I’d been only two years ago? I don’t want to be fixed. I used to, in the beginning. But I’m tired of fighting, I just want to float off into the darkness and leave all this behind me, and the reality of that scares me more than I can articulate.

I get up and throw on some clothes, aiming to head out into the pre-dawn gloom. It’s only 3 am but I need to get out of the house. The weight of it all—the happy smiling pictures, the furniture that Soph and I had bought together, the promise of everything in this place—is more than I can bear right now. I lock the door behind me and head out for a jog, hoping the rhythmic thud of my feet against the dark backdrop of night will dull my worry and free my mind. But the repeating patterns of shadow and light as I jogged through the light of street lamps and the leached-out color of night somehow remind me of the dream, preventing my escape.

Sophie thinks that my ongoing concern over Blake’s death, now two years past, is unhealthy. Maybe it is, hell if I know. All I know is there are moments in life that mark us. Moments that force us into a new shape, leaving us forever changed, wounded, and incomplete.

A person may survive such a time, but you don’t come out whole. On the far side of the dark there may be light, but inside you’re left broken, empty, and alone. The flavor and heady scents of life fall away. The brilliant hues that once surrounded you are leached into somber shades of grey, and no matter where you go or who you’re with, all the colors of life just keep fading.

You never recover. Not really. Folks who’ve never been in that place think you do. They believe that at some miraculous point in time you simply “get over it.” They’re wrong. You never get over it. The innocent and simple glory of life before never really comes back. From that moment on, you simply learn to live with the missing parts. You learn to live the new shape that life or fate or God has forced onto you. If you’re lucky you learn to appreciate what you have left, diminished though it may be. If not, you may find yourself adrift with no anchor to hold yourself to the world, lost in the dark.

I struggle every day not to lose what color I have left in my life. Some days I feel I’m winning that fight—days when I’m able to find refuge in Sophie’s smile, the laughter of my nephew, or in my work, and hours can go by without a single thought of Blake.

Other days—days like today—I feel the battle is already long lost and the good days are only echoes from before. Not real, just memories from a time when I knew happiness and wholeness.

Some days I long to stop the struggle and just embrace the anger, the frustration, and give in to my desire to self-destruct. I never understood addiction or other forms of expressing self-hatred before. Now, though, I understand all too well. My despair—my impotent rage—drives me to hurt the people around me, and then I loathe myself for hurting them. The cycle feels unstoppable—it’s like trying to wade out to sea when a tsunami is crashing to shore. No man can succeed against such odds. It’s stupid to even try, I know. So much better to simply lie back and let the wave carry you, even if it’s to certain death. At least in death the suffering will end.

The truth is, I can’t get over Blake’s death. It haunts me. Every night when I lie down in the warm bed I share with Sophie, instead of being there—being present with her like I used to be—I think of him. I dream of him too most nights. Not as he was in life, but as he was in death. His eyes—shrunken, dried, and blackened peas in overly-large and now-baggy sockets so loose that I kept thinking his eyes would roll right out of his fucking head as they tried to bag his unruly shape without snapping his limbs off like dried tree branches. The thought of some future tenant finding a dried and wrinkled eyeball at some point in the future had sent me into a hysterical and perverse fit of choking laughter that had earned me some odd looks from the paramedic team and coroner.

They couldn’t fit him in a body bag—his body had dried into the most disturbing of shapes, legs wide and hips thrust forward, his arms extended as if holding something above him. It looked like he’d been frozen while fucking someone, and goddamn if that wasn’t the most disturbing thought I’d ever had. His dick was even still erect. You didn’t hear that shit in the news, but I saw it, and now I keep seeing it night after night. They had to roll him out on a stretcher with a blanket covering him instead. His skin looked like thick tanned leather, and had shriveled tight like a plum left in the sun to prune for too long. He was a modern-day mummy, stretched and hollow, but the fascination I’d felt as a boy when I’d learned about the ancient Egyptians definitely did not extend to the desiccated corpse of my brother.

How the fuck does every drop of moisture get sucked out of a human body? He wasn’t mummified and buried in some fucking desert for 800 years, for Christ’s sake. He’d been missing for only a week. Not even a full week—only five days.

I think about the tinny voice transmitting across the air when they called and asked me to come down to the old St. Marks Hotel on 18th Avenue, the dispassionate drawl hammering in my ears like a jackhammer as my stomach lurched and twisted in my gut. I remember the sound of Kate’s voice, the barely contained panic, the dirty-sharp edge of hysteria jutting into her normally smooth voice when I called her to tell her they had found her husband. The soul-shattering sobs breaking out of her small body as she wept in my arms later that morning when I explained what they had found. And perhaps worst of all, the small, wounded, confused expression on my nephew’s innocent face as we tried to explain that his daddy wouldn’t be coming home anymore. I had 28 years of blissful ignorance about the hostilities of life before having to deal with this sort of loss. He had only five tender years before his innocence had been snatched away. Jesus, but life can be a cold, heartless bastard.

My breath is coming harder, and I can see steam rising off my sweaty body as I run down the sidewalk. It’s still, of course, considering it’s 3 am, and I find the quiet and the dark comforting. Ghosts are real—for me, they take the shape of memories, visions that I cannot stop from running through my head. All the therapy in the world can’t wipe those memories out of my head, can’t save me from the damage or restore color to the world around me. Even Sophie, as much as I love her, as much as she could be a balm to me, cannot help me with this.

When Blake’s body was discovered, the medical community had jumped into action impressively fast and the orgy of medical investigation that ensued continued well beyond any level of decency. Doctors and forensic specialists flew to the city from across the globe to get a look at the corpse that had once been my brother, forcing those of us who loved him to wait to lay him to rest, to wait to finish our mourning and begin rebuilding our lives. For almost an entire year we waited while they took samples and ran tests and tried to figure out how a body could desiccate so quickly.

All in the interest of human welfare and medical progress, they said. They had believed, or maybe hoped, that this was some new disease and had wanted to get a jump on it before it began infecting others. See if they could develop a cure or at least begin to understand how the disease progressed. I think they just wanted to be the first to invent another billion-dollar-a-year miracle drug to save the world. But nothing useful was ever found. No indication of any physical ailment or problem aside from the general physical state they’d found him in. And no other desiccated corpses were found to indicate the next great epidemic. Once the hope of a money-making opportunity was crushed, the glamour wore off, and we were finally able to lay Blake to rest.

But far worse was the media. They were there, of course, trying to report on what they at first believed was a murder. But once the uniqueness of Blake’s demise became apparent they’d snatched onto it like an enraged pit bull, and the media has a long memory.

Blake’s death was so goddamned odd that everyone wanted a piece of it. For hours and hours, day after day, they showed the same video footage of his body being rolled out of the ruin of the building they found it in, the white sheet covering his remains falling askew to offer the whole world a glimpse of a modern-day mummy. I still get asked for interviews, the bloodsucking pricks. They have no regard for what it costs us, what remembering does to me, to our parents, to his wife Kate and her kid, for Christ’s sake. Every request opens the wounds afresh. Those bastards will burn for their callousness if there’s any justice in the universe.

As irrational as it may be, I am convinced that someone did that to my brother. Not something. But no indication of foul play was ever found, either. Never mind his agitated state of mind in the months before his death. Never mind his increasingly erratic and bizarre behavior—the late nights spent wandering the streets of the city far from his wife and children as if he sought something, or someone. And never mind the fact that his body was found in a filthy room on the sixth floor of a tumbledown tenement inhabited primarily by crack whores and their blank-faced, wide-eyed, waif-thin children.

Never in my life have I felt so helpless, so impotent. First we waited to lay him to rest, and then we waited for the detectives to tell us what the hell had happened. We waited for some sense of justice, some semblance of closure. And we wait still. We know as much now, two years after his death, as we did five minutes after his death. The certainty that someone did this to him, that he had gotten mixed up in something really fucking weird, and the not knowing or understanding how it could have happened is eating me like a cancer.

The truth is, the tears and the pain aren’t really the problem anymore. It’s the fear that keeps me up at night. The fear that whoever got to my brother could get to me as well. That whatever led Blake into that tenement would lead me there too, and goddamnit, I don’t want to go out that way. But he was my brother. His blood is my blood. All our lives I followed close in his footsteps. Whatever happened to him…could it happen to me, too?

The tears have dried, and the pain is muted now from the thick layers of scars around the empty space inside of me that used to be occupied by my brother. It is the fear that haunts me still. The fear of the unknown. Of the faceless, nameless threat that lurks somewhere out there in the darkness. Unknown, undiscovered, unquestioned. And I can’t deny the appeal that holds for me, the desire deep inside to find the source of that darkness and lose myself in it just as he did.

Someone killed Blake. That dark and unknowable truth keeps me awake at night. It chases me out of the warmth of Sophie’s embrace, out of the safe confines of our beautiful home, and out into the cold, hard streets of the city. And now these dreams…Is this the start? Is this how it started for Blake?

Blake always went first to pave the way when we were kids, but he isn’t here anymore. I’m alone, and alone I now seek the mystery that stole my brother from me and cut his wife and child adrift in the world. Helplessness has defined me for two endless years, but it will not for even one day longer. I can’t sit back and let whatever happened to him happen to me.

I stop and lean forward, placing my hands on my knees, and watch the sweat drip off my forehead and splatter darkly onto the light concrete of the sidewalk. I need to go out and find it. Go on the offensive. I need to seek out this mystery and kill it before it kills me, before I give in entirely to the looming dark.

I turn and look back the way I have come. The streetlights are spaced far apart, and the houses are dark and asleep. I wonder what secrets those placid homefronts keep. What the people who live inside them do or think about or desire from life. Are any of them haunted by their own mysteries, or do they live in blissful ignorance of the random violence and heartlessness of life? Do they go through their days never realizing just how close they are to complete devastation?

I consider the stretches of dark interspersed with sections of brilliant light that run up the road into the distance. For some of us, it seems the stretches of dark are much, much longer and the patches of light so much smaller.

I straighten up and start running again. This time though, I am running towards, not running away. But towards what, I don’t know.

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Quotable Tuesdays – Carl Jung

Carl Jung Quote

Carl Jung Quote

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5 Favorite Fantasy Characters

There are so many fantasy characters I love deeply.  It is incredibly difficult to narrow it down, but here are ten characters that definitely top the list.  Who are some of your favorites?  Share in the comments blow.

Phèdre nò Delaunay – Kushiel’s Dart Books

Kushiel's Dart

 

I adore the Kushiel books and Phèdre certainly belongs on a list of my favorite characters in fantasy.  I’ love to see these books made into a show on HBO – sexy and filled with intrigue HBO and Phèdre are a match made in heaven!

 

 

 

Cara Mason – Sword of Truth Books

http://www.deviantart.com/morelikethis/artists/142487181?view_mode=2

http://www.deviantart.com/morelikethis/artists/142487181?view_mode=2

 

Chosen to be Mord Sith at a young age Cara started as a brutal adversary to the protagonists of the series. Clothed head to heel in red leather, a brutal warrior, and wielder of the agiel she is an enemy to be reckoned with. I love her arc in the books!

 

 

 

 

Jessica Rabbit – The Last Unicorn

http://etchsketch.net/jessica-rabbit-sketch-2/

http://etchsketch.net/jessica-rabbit-sketch-2/

 

 

Tough as nails, as subtle as a sledge hammer, more honest than anyone would like – but deeply perceptive, loyal and protective of those she loves.  Such a great character in a story filled with outstanding characters.

 

 

 

 

 

Neverfell – A Face Like Glass

A Face Like Glass

A Face Like Glass

 

In a world without honest expression, a girl who shows openly what she feels on her face is a terrifying anomaly. I love the premise of this book and fell in love with Neverfell as she navigated the treacherous politics of Caverna.

 

 

 

 

 

Althea Vestrit – Mad Ship Series

Althea Vestrit

Althea Vestrit

 

One of my all time favorite series how could I not have Althea Vestrit on this list?  The youngest daughter of a wealthy trader family she longs for a life on the high sea’s with her beloved Liveship Vivacia.  Her family wishes her to settle, to marry, but stubborn and not averse to risk this woman takes her fate into her own hands and takes us on one hell of an adventure!

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