Do Not Eat

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I can feel the sickness affecting my brain.  My thoughts slow and I watch the movements of my cat with a decided obsessiveness.  It doesn’t help much as she bats the finger I lost last week around like a toy.

My body decays faster than I can keep up with it now.  I have been fighting it for what feels like forever but I know it’s only been a few weeks.  I force myself to look away from my cat.  My hand looks like a chew toy for my neighbor’s dog.

I remember that I need to keep myself together.  Ha, at least I can still make jokes.  I am not completely gone.  What was it I need to do?  I need something to slow the sickness down.

I search frantically through the kitchen for salt as it seems to be the only thing that slows the rot down.  But there is none to be found.

Dejected, I catch myself watching my neighbor Bob mowing the lawn.  Part of my vision disappears as my eyeball falls into the sink.  I am running out of time.  What else can I use?

A rictus grin explodes across my face as a light bulb of thought comes to me.  I shamble my way into the crawlspace of my home and clumsily tear through the boxes in storage.  Searching… searching for what?

I can sense a mouse down here.  Its warm little body calls to my need to crunch and tear it apart.  It was then that my remaining eye caught sight of what I had been searching for… a silicate packet.

I grab for it and stuff it into my now vacant socket and a touch of clarity comes to me.  I should be able to make it another day as long as I do not eat.

The Gallows Tree

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Her white dress fluttered in the breeze as she struggled for breath.  The rope slowly cut into her neck all the more deeply.  Her hands leaped wildly at the knot in a last desperate attempt to pull it apart but to no avail.  Clumsily her arms fell to her sides and her kicks slowly ground to a halt.  With a last expiating breath her movements stilled.  Her shadow swung slowly in the light breeze.

She had chosen her own sentence but it had been too late.  Her choice in destroying those who had hurt her and those she cared for had led to her to losing her humanity.  To becoming a demon; an avenging spirit.  The cry of an infant echoed out in the stillness.  Her dead white eyes snapped open and looked down to see the newborn boy hanging below her like the pendulum of a clock.  A broken cry escaped her lips as a tall and ancient man with a single eye exposed strode forth and plucked the child from her.

As he cleared the blood and mucus from the child’s eyes and throat, he uttered the words and the child’s fate was sealed.

“Born of a demon on the hanging tree, a new hunter is born.”

Disappearing Act

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What had the headlines said?  That we, the human race, had finally conquered disease.  That we had conquered obesity and addiction.  We had laid to rest a myriad of other ailments that had plagued our species for centuries.

The procedure itself was simple.  All it took was a single injection and for the rest of your life, you were clear.  One injection that sent a colony of nanobots through your bloodstream.  This colony of interlinked robots were programmed to search for and destroy anything that was thought to be detrimental to the body.

But something had gone wrong.  People began to disappear.  The only sign that could be found for the missing was their nanobots.  The nanobots had begun to break people down into carbon particles.

Once this was understood, changes were made.  We thought we had it under control but we were mistaken.  We couldn’t stop it.  We couldn’t prevent it.

Some believed it had been a viral program that had been put in place by a terrorist group to stop those who acted against the better interests of God.  Others believed it was a simple programming error.

Eventually it was found that human contact with a person whose nanobots had been affected caused it to replicate in another.  The world came to a screeching halt as people were ordered to stay in their homes.  Fear was rampant and people avoided contact with their family members. No one knew what could be done to stop it.

All of these thoughts ran through my mind as my hand began to fall to dust before my very eyes.  My scream was cut off as my throat was dissolved into a particulate matter and sifted into the carpet on the floor.

My nanobots had come to recognize me as the threat to the body.  That it was the decisions that I made which were detrimental to their host.  And there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Why had this happened?  Was it a decision made my man or machine?

Writing My First Novel, the Matilda Pt. 2

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So I had the idea, a rough outline, characters and setting.  How could it be difficult, you ask?

The main writing I had done for years was scripts, which are a completely different format.  That was a rough lesson to learn under a deadline.

I had the outline right?  Well the story moved quickly away from where I thought it would go.  I had to look at the outline more as guidelines of what could happen.  It forced me to rethink the entire process.

It was during this period that I was beginning to feel hopeless about how it was going to turn out.  I didn’t actually know where the story was going.  My initial ending was nowhere in sight. I turned to other authors to see how they dealt with this and the message was always the same, “Keep writing.”

So I kept writing.  This is when I figured out I didn’t have enough names in my ‘bible’ both characters and places.  Names are not easy for me to come by.  This made the experience all the more frustrating as the self-appointed deadline loomed larger.

I was running out of time.  What I was writing was not going in the direction that I expected.  Every time I had to create a new character or place, I had to eat up time to come up with a name.  But this is when ‘IT’ happened.

I had always heard that some books write themselves or that characters talk to the authors.  Robert E. Howard (http://www.rehfoundation.org/)  even mentions something like this in regards to Conan.  As I am pounding away at my first book, I didn’t expect to feel something like this.

But I was wrong.  A minor character appeared and offered a name.  This character, which didn’t exist in the ‘bible’, reappeared and gave me the character’s motivations.  This character kept coming back and offering pointers and directions to go in.

This interaction made the writing process fun.  It made it more of an adventure for me as the writer.  It gave me the motivation to keep plugging away at it for the next five months and actually get it done.

I owe it all to a fictional character.

Motivations on Time in Writing

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As I mentioned in a previous post, a friend of mine had successfully completed writing a novel in 30 days multiple times.  But she had chosen not to publish.

This made me wonder, were there examples of a published author who could write a book in 30 days?

My wife bought me the definitive James Bond blu-ray collection (at the time).  It had hours of extras including interviews with Ian Fleming (http://www.ianfleming.com/). In one of these interviews he had mentioned that he wrote his first book in a thirty day period in Jamaica.  This was the case for each and every novel he wrote.

Well!  Now I had two examples to motivate me that it could be done and be done successfully.

Forward Ho!

Sub Orbital

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The battle was not going well.  They had made it up to the enemy fortifications and dug in.  Their trenches dotted the field of battle but their forward progress had come to a grounding halt.

The chemical bombs that had been dropped from on high erupted all over the terrain and the numbers of the dead left in its wake was astronomical.  Many others had drowned in the flash floods as the waters had swept in and filled the trenches.  But those that were still there had survived.

The orbital laser was another story.  It had burned its path in the wake of the last attacks and there was nowhere left to run.  It came from on high and incinerated so many that there was little to nothing left to fight for.  It was inexorable, plodding and it left nothing but death in its wake.

The war was over and the toll had been high.  It became known as the Day of the Dental Appointment and bacteria quailed at the memory.

Beans and Cornbread

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The zombie scourge had come and it had happened faster than anyone expected.  The government had not been prepared and communications had failed rapidly across the country.

In the beginning of the scourge, Bob and Larry had narrowly escaped their apartment building.  They had been on the run since.  Supplies were always a concern so they had been searching for a place to scavenge.

The zombies were everywhere.  Their slow shambling movement could be heard echoing down the alleys and streets.

“I think I see a building over there!” pointed Larry.

Bob followed after him and they locked the door behind them.  It was difficult to see in the gloom but moans emanated from the inside of the building as well.  The sound of a dragged foot, the clack of loose teeth filtered through the oppressive silence.

Larry shouted, “I think we’re going to have to clear this place out!”

The two men both leapt forward into the quailing mass that moved to surround them.  They struck for the heads of the creatures as this was the only thing that seemed to stop them permanently.

Once they were the only two left standing, Bob looked around in confusion, “Wait. Isn’t this an old folk’s home?”

Writing My First Novel, the Matilda Pt.1

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Working on my first novel proved to be much more difficult than I had expected.  At the same time it has been an incredibly rewarding experience.  It took me roughly six months to complete the first draft.  Each step was in many ways more difficult than the previous one.

So why did I decide to write it?  As I mentioned previously, I had always wanted to write one.  A friend of mine had been doing the famous http://nanowrimo.org/ so the opportunity was there.

Truth be told, what did I have to lose except for time over a 30 day period?  Of course, it took quite a bit longer than that but I didn’t know that at the time.

If it was terrible, would it all be worth it?  I believed that it would be no matter how awful it might be.  I could finally say that I had completed a goal that’s been following me along for years.  A life accomplishment is a pretty big deal.  Besides, I wouldn’t have to share it with anyone if it was inherently unreadable.

But what would I write about?  Here in lay a bit of the rub.  I had a bunch of ideas that had been fomenting their way through my skull for years.  You might even see pieces of them in the short fiction section.  But there was one idea I had that had been festering away as an idea for a science fiction TV show.  I had already created most of the show’s bible (main characters, setting, ship design, et al.)  This seemed the best place to start.

The future was bright!

A Purple Future

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A young man, roughly the age of fifteen, left the front door of his home and wandered away.  A dark cloud followed him around while his face held an intense expression of doom.  So much darkness.  Blackness.  Blacker than black.

“My soul is black.” muttered the teenager as he stumped his way down the street.  “There is little left to salvage my darkened soul, so why even bother?”

His pace did not change as he passed house after house but his demeanor grew more downtrodden.  It was from the corner of his eye that he noticed a shadow following him.  He stopped and turned and a little girl, maybe the age of nine, smiled back at him.

“Hi!” she waved at him.

“Stand back little girl.  For I am evil and there is nothing anyone can do about it.” he muttered as he continued on his way.

She hurried to catch up to him and tried to take his hand.  He pulled away and hurried his pace.  She caught up to him and yanked with a preternatural strength and he was forced to heel.  He brushed her hand away and glared at her.

“Do you like colors?” she asked as she twirled back and forth.

He gestured angrily at his outfit that was all black.  “No.”

She threw her hands up in the air, “Come on!  Everyone likes colors!”

“Not me.”  He tried to back away from her but she was persistent.  His shoulders slumped.

With a silly grin painted across her face, she asked,  “If you had to choose one color that would be yours forever, what would it be?”

“Black.  Black as night.  Black as the blackest black.”

“Black is not a color!” she pouted.  “Pick a color!  I have lots!”

It was only then that he noticed that the inside of her little jacket was painted like a rainbow but the colors seemed alive.

‘What can I do to make this little girl leave me alone?’ he thought to himself. “Fine.” he said to her.  “Purple then. Purple so dark it borders on black.”

“Purple it is!” she cried in delight.  She pulled a strip of purple from the inside of her coat and tossed it to him.

“This is lavender, not purple!” he cried as he tried to keep the color from falling to the ground.

“Purple!” she shouted in joy as she pirouetted in place.  “See?  I’ve brightened your day!  Happy day to you!”

She ran over and gave him a hug.  He had to admit that he did actually feel better.  Maybe everything wasn’t as dark and gloomy as he had initially thought.  Suddenly she pushed him and he fell through the open manhole.  His head smashed against the concrete.  He lay there unmoving as the neighborhood flotsam soaked into his clothes and hair.

“Purple is yours forever!” the little girl cheered.  “Forever, forever, forever… “

Remembering

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The moon shone down upon the tops of the ragged trees in this broken forest.  The moonlight helped but it was little trouble to track his prey.  He could smell him.  His human stink permeated the very air.  The demon’s laughter shook loudly against the foliage.

He strode toward the man who just stood there and waited with a cane in his hand.  The man who had a ring of thirteen bars tattooed around his neck.  The man who had an odd little monkey perched on his shoulder.

“I will crush you little man!  I will wear your bones as a necklace!” the demon cried with relish.

A note from a stringed instrument came back to him in response. The man slowly strummed on a ukulele and sang… sang a very old song.

“What is this?” shouted the demon.  He slowly came to a standstill in the small meadow.  Moonlight beat at his skin.  “Why do I know this?  Why do I feel sadness?  Why do I feel… remorse?”

The man continued to sing that ancient song as he swung the ukulele to his back. He limped his way into the meadow and took his measure in front of the demon.  The moonlight glinted off of the sword blade as it slid its way out of the cane.

“I’m sorry.” said the man as the blade slipped into the demon’s heart.

The demon transformed back into the man he once was.  The rage in his eyes changed to fear, then regret.  “You are the hunter?” escaped his lips as he toppled to the wet grass.

“Another one bites the dust!” the little monkey chittered in amusement from the hunter’s shoulder.