The Tomes of the Seer: Prologue.

This is just the short prologue of a new novel I’ve begun writing. I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy lately and figured I’d try my hand at it. This is from what will be the first book in a five to seven book series. With that being said, I’m hoping that a few readers of the genre might come across this and voice to me their opinions — what works/what doesn’t, or maybe even some advice. If you only comment to tell me it’s trash, hey, I’ll take it. Any feedback is appreciated.

The Stained Fallow
Book One

The Tomes of the Seer

Prologue

At the edge of the world, echoing throughout the Swathed Hills, the last clangor of steel against steel faded to a final silence. Thryor Pass was quiet now. The last body had fallen — a brave boy who rode upon his father’s horse. His father lay at his side, the crown that once rested upon his head was tarnished and scathed, lying in amongst the other filth and fodder of the battlefield. The King had been dethroned, his throat severed, his heir slain; his dynasty lay in blood and dismemberment for leagues around him, and his castle was held now by the women, children, and elderly locked in his great keep. No one was there to guard them or the peasant folk now. Every knight, solider, and guard had been sent to battle, and every one had failed. The pass ran red — a knotted river of blood, damned by the fetid corpses of King Boraan’s army.

Before them stood a shadow of a man, blood slowly dripping into quiet pools at his feet. He wore no mail or plate — just black breeches, tunic, and sword belt. He wore no shield. His clothes were hacked to pieces, but he harbored no wound. He looked upon the King, his son, their guard, and he scoffed. His black and scorched skin flaked in the wind — ashes trembling upon his arms like dead leaves clinging to a broken branch. Behind dead eyes, white and seamless as the mountain snow, he scanned the ground, searching for a breathe or twitch or any sign of life’s final stubbornness.

The wind seemed to die then, and in Dra’amok’s rotting ears, he heard labored breaths, like gravel in a wine flagon. His placid eyes scanned the ground again, until they rested on a knight he was all but standing on. The man’s face ran red, clotting in his beard, and beneath the dirt and gore that covered his forehead, the smooth white crest of wetted bone glistened beneath a flap of scalp that hung beneath his helm.

“You…monster.” His breath plugged with wetness, and he spat a clump of gray and red onto the creature’s foot. He struggled to move, his fingers inching along the dirt to where his sword lay, just feet away.

Dra’amok knelt down beside the knight, staring at him with endless eyes. He watched him edge closer to his sword bit by bit until he was barely a fingertip away. A grin crept across the monster’s face. Nonchalantly, he nudged the sword just far enough away, and then reached down and grabbed the dying man by the wrist. He used the knight’s own hand then to wipe off the gob of blood and bile that was spat on his boot, before flinging his arm back down at the ground., with a hard, wet, slap.

The dying knight squeezed his eyes shut, pain wrinkling his face, as a single tear rolled down his quivering cheek. “You’ll pay, demon.” The man’s breathe gurgled in his throat then, and a thin trickle of blood spilled out of the corner of his mouth. He coughed, spraying a red mist into the air that slowed and fell back to land on his face. His eyes began to roll backward, and his eyelids fluttered as they strained to stay open.

Before the knight could take his final breath, the ashen beast who had slain him drew a dagger from his hip and knelt down to look the knight in the eyes. With a voice like wind in a thunderstorm, he said, “I will not pay, for I am the payment. I am eternal. I am the ink that fills the books of time. I am the sand that swallows cities whole. I am the forest that crumbles monuments, and you are part of me now.” He ripped the mail from the knights chest and tossed it to the side. He took the dagger and slid it through the fabric of the man’s jerkin, exposing his chest, and then he plunged the dagger in next to the sternum and began to carve.

The knight’s eyes flew open momentarily and he screamed, startling the carrion crows who exploded into the air, leaving their feast behind. His eyes closed, finally, and his screams faded as his heart gave its long last final thump. After he cut it free, Dra’amok lifted the knight’s heart to examine it in the falling sun, and then he began to eat it. With each bite and swallow of warm muscle and blood, the blackened, scarred, burned flesh that covered his body began to flake off in larger and larger sheets, giving birth to fresh, moist skin that steamed in the summer heat. He was being renewed, made whole again after loosing another pitiful husk of mortal flesh.

As his skin transformed, and the color began to return to his deadened eyes, he formed the bond in his mind. He reached out, envisioning fingers stretching from his mind to wrap themselves around the cooling body of the knight he had consumed, and he pulled. As his mind craned and clawed at the visage of the dead man, Dra’amok’s bones creaked and cracked as they moved to form the shape of the dead knight. His back straightened and his neck pulled backward. His jaw moved forward and cracked into place. He was forced to the ground on hands and knees as the joints in his legs and arms pulled apart with deep sucking sounds. He grew then, matching the height of the man on the ground, and as his bones all split and snapped back into place, whiskers sprouted from the new skin on his face, and dark green irises formed within his eyes. His hair, now brown, snaked down and came to a rest just above his brow.

Dra’amok became what the knight had been, and the knight, dead, was nothing as he was before. Where he had lain, rested a corpse that was thin and brittle. Black, cracking skin stretched tight over nothing but bones. His eye sockets were deep, black holes, and his lips curled inside his mouth, stretched taught over crumbling teeth. In a few moments, only dust would remain.

The demon rose to his feet, and began stomping on the corpse, speeding the process, smiling as he did so. Black, flaky ashes burst into the air, and fell like poisoned snow back toward the ground. Dra’amok picked up the clothes and armor left behind, shaking out the remaining flecks of depleted flesh that once had been a man. He stripped his clothes and adorned the undergarments of the knight. He laced the jerking and clasped the armor on himself, as if he had done it a million times before. He picked up the helmet last, and tipped it over, letting the knights ashes poor out and fly in the breeze. He was whole again, and there was nobody to stop him now, nobody who would even name him. He was just a knight, now. A knight who saved the realm from the demon Dra’amok. A sadistic smirk cut its way across his face, and he put his shoulders back and began the long trek to the gates of the Kingdom of Thrym. They would crown him, he knew, after they searched the battlefield and found the remains of every man from the kingdom. Every man but himself — just a knight who saved the realm…

He laughed then, a sharp bark that echoed throughout the pass, bouncing off the cliffs that surrounded it. Amongst the echo that floated back to his ears, another sound came as well. A thump and a clack rang out through the air, and behind Dra’amok, over near the edged cliffs of the Swathed Hills, he saw a few stones tumble down and land with a cloud of dust at the base. His eyes quickly rose to the horizon, and there he saw a lone man, perched on top of his horse with his hand to shield the falling sun. He was staring at the demon, and when he saw the demon stare back he turned in a gallop and rode out of sight, leaving behind wisps of dirt to float tenderly through the air.

Someone had seen him.

Dra’amok let a scream escape his lungs, long and violent, it carried throughout the pass. He pulled his sword from his belt and pointed it to the sky, pointed it to where the unknown rider stood watching him, knowing the truth. Is he Thryorian? Has he seen it all? The urge to follow the rider was almost greater than the urge to claim his throne. Rage seeped through his pores as he pictured himself catching the man and slicing him open; smelling the stink of his fear-laced sweat; eating his still beating heart. It wouldn’t be possible, though. By the time he climbed into the hills, darkness would have fallen and then his kingdom as well as his prey would be lost. But he knows.

Forgetting the kingdom for a moment, Dra’amok sought the bond. He closed his eyes and let his mind reach. He saw himself standing alone on the battlefield and then his vision rose, flying, soaring toward the cliff like a bird. He reached farther, and he saw the tops of the hills. His mind swept through the trees, reaching, searching for the rider, and then there he was. The black horse galloped through the old forest, throwing arcs of dirt and crushed leaves high into the air. The rider’s long brown hair flapped with the speed of the run, floating in the air like a sheet in a windstorm. Sweat glistened on the rider’s neck and he looked back over his shoulder. No, not a he. A woman.

The bond shimmered. Dra’amok’s vision glistened and almost failed at the shock, wavering like a mirage in the summer heat. He pushed harder. The woman, no, the girl, looked back over her shoulder with bright blue eyes, wrapped in a knowing fear. She was running from him. He could feel her fear, encompassing her, enveloping her, more important than the ache in her legs or the stings of the small branches as they whipped across her face. He pushed harder. Amongst her fear, there was another smell, also familiar to the demon. She smelled of hate. A burning, writhing hatred, so strong, so potent, it filled his nostrils with greater force than the hatred of any single man he had slain in the pass.

It was no matter. She would die, nonetheless — hating him, fearing him still — especially if she interfered with the Shadow’s wishes. Serving the Shadow was all that was important, and nothing would interfere with Dra’amok’s serving. Nothing, not man, knight, woman, or girl. But, who was she? Why was she there, and had she really seen him? He reached harder for her, his mind’s tendrils snaking forth to penetrate her skull. He had to know.

But, the harder he tried, the faster the horse seemed to go, and the more stuck his bond became. She looked back, right at where his mind was viewing her, as if she could see something, could see him there, chasing right behind her. Her eyes grew ever bigger, and she dug harder and harder with her heels, kicking the stallion to a ferocious gallop. Dra’amok was losing his bond. He tried to penetrate, to enter her and discover the answers to the questions that could unravel his plans if unanswered, but, she resisted. Nobody resists.

It was a waste. Even if he caught her mind, he didn’t have her flesh, and she was too far off to be able to will her to come back to him in time. No, he though. A kingdom awaits. As his view of the strange girl who rode the great black stallion faded, he studied her, etching into his memory the curves of her face, the tones of her skin, the smell of her flesh, and then he let her go.

He opened his eyes, and the bond was broken. His vision ripped back through the tress, over the hill, and down the cliff’s side, before returning to his head. “I will find you, young one. And I will have you.” He tore his eyes away from the cliff, and began his march back toward the main gate. It would still be half a day before he got there.

In his pure form, it would have been much faster, but with each new mortal skin adorned, came hindrances he hadn’t known existed before. Where his kind served the Shadow, he moved with the wind, but he couldn’t appear to mortals that way, if they’d even seen him at all. He needed flesh to rule. He needed flesh in order to serve in this way for now.

The sun was just behind the horizon of the forest that backed the Kingdom of Thrym by the time he got to the eastern Gate, and darkness lay like a thick blanket throughout the land. There were no torches burning within the walls, or candles in the windows. No watch fires gave light to guards or sentries of any kind, and no voice was there to greet or question him. His, the Knight’s triumphant return from battle was lost in the empty sound of dusk bouncing off the steel and oaken gate.
The false knight glared at the sentry platforms, and then looked to the guard towers, hoping he had missed somebody who was just a little to afraid to put him to question. There was no one. He took his shield, gripping the iron handle in his fist, and began pounding it against the steel reinforcements of the gate.

Nothing answered.

He banged again, this time so hard that scrapings of paint trickled to the floor from the shield, the painted sigil of a great helm scarred by lightning was now left distorted and malformed upon the face of the shield. He continued banging. By the time he heard the soft patter of footprints approach the gate from inside, the shield had been left dented and nearly unrecognizable.

“Chara? Is that you?” came a feeble young boy’s voice, barely audible from the other side of the great gate.

Chara, he asks for Chara, who is Chara? The rider, she knows, she knows…

When Dra‘amok didn‘t respond, the boy asked, this time shaking with fear, “Wh–who goes?”

“Open the viewer and see for yourself. It is just I.”

“Sir, I do not know who ‘I’, may be…”

“The viewer. Slide it open.”

“One minute, sir. I am not tall enough. I need to…find something to stand upon.” Grunting sounds came shortly from behind the gate, followed by a terrible scraping, like great iron claws ripping through stone boulders. Soon, whatever that had been moved, made a great clangor as it was heaved up against the gate. Shortly thereafter, the viewer opened, and two soft blue eyes appeared, looking Dra’amok up and down. The rider’s eyes, she knows…

For a moment, the boy whose eyes those two belonged did not speak, and instinctually, the demon sought the bond. Just before his mind could reach into the boy, he spoke. “Sir Hyrren? Is that you? Wh — where are all the others? The monster? Is he defeated. I…I…”

It is not the girl. She still runs. “The others are gone, boy. I slew the beast, I did. It is just me that is left. Now open the gate.” Hyrren, Hyrren. He would have to remember, his new name was Hyrren.

The boy stood still, hiding his gaping mouth under the hole of the viewer. Dra’amok could sense his amazement though, and started to wonder if his true nature was showing, if the change hadn’t taken completely, and some malformed part of his darker self shone through, distorting the image of the hero-knight. It couldn’t be that. I was thorough. Maybe the skin of the man he had taken had an ill repute. A coward? he thought. A coward, maybe he once was, but it was of no matter now. To these fools, he had slain a monster, a great beast of the Stained Fallow, a demon of mere legend, and consumer of men.

“Boy,” he said. “Open the gate and I’ll show you the sword that slew the creature. You’ll have a little tale to tell all your friends. Hurry now, it is almost full dark, and I don’t much want to be out here alone.” The demon stifled a laugh.

The viewer slammed shut, and the sounds of grunting and scraping and slamming came back, as surely the boy was returning his makeshift stool. Dra’amok strained his ears, though. Something suddenly was not right. In the brief silence that came after the clamor of the boy dragging off some heavy unseen object, the sounds of people whispering floated above the gate. Not just whispering. Conspiring.

There was a clank on the other side of the door, and then a hollow thunk as the cross beam to the gate was lifted out of place and leaned against the connecting wall. Dra’amok knocked loose his sword a few inches so he’d be able to pull it more quickly. Swords… he thought with disgust. Swords were nothing against the power the Shadow had given him, but he would use it, unfailingly, until appearances could not be kept. He hoped it wouldn’t come to that, but the yearning for unhindered slaughter crept throughout his thoughts making him lick his already cracking lips. His new skin was already tainted.

More grunting came from the other side of the door as the boy struggled to lift the iron locking bars the descended a foot into the earth. Dra’amok’s grip tightened on his sword hilt, and he hefted his shield in front of him, eager for what was on the other side.
After the last lock slid into place, only one of the two large doors that made up the gate began to swing inward. It opened less than far enough for a man to walk through sideways, before Dra’amok saw the boy who had let him in run quickly across the opening. His footsteps continued until the faded to silence after running some twenty meters or more. Fear. He could smell it on the boy.

They know…

But it wasn’t just the boy

As Dra’amok pushed the door open with his shield, a mob of townspeople and Highborn rushed him. Together, as one mob they held him at the mouth of the door by spear point and fork. Together, they all yelled questions, some the same, some selfish or irrelevant. Dra’amok barely heard. Their scent enveloped him. Fear gripped every single one of them, and they gave off the most pungent, vile, stink, lovely stink. He began to salivate, licking his lips, and grinding his teeth, and flaring his nostrils as wide as they’d go. You fool, he thought of himself. You are almost caught!

“Enough!” he yelled. The crowd quieted quickly, but didn’t lower their weapons by the width of a toenail. “What is the meaning of this?”

They all began yelling again at once. The fear in the air grew stronger.

Dra’amok used his shield to pin some of the spears and stakes against the wall by the gate, where he pulled his sword out and swung it around, breaking them all in one stroke. He took off his helm, and tossed it to the mob. He held his shield high in the air, showing the sigil to the crowd, but also offering his unguarded belly as a sign of truce.

For once, it seemed that they saw who he was. Whispers ran through the crowd, and he thought he heard one person cover a chuckle. They all dropped their weapons. One old man appeared before the crowd and spoke. “M’Lord. Apologies, sir, but…” he trailed off.

A short, kind-faced women stepped from the crowd to address him. “Sir…I mean…m’lord, we’re all just a little…scared. It’s been…well days. And we heard rumors…rumors of darkness. Of Shadow. Some say the Fallow is leaking. They say that is why all of you, you knights left us. The guards, too, to kill some beast that threatened our walls. Well…we just thought we couldn’t be too careful. Pardon, milord, but truly, we’d have even greeted the King like that. The King — where…?”

Dra’amok admired her for a moment before he spoke. “I’m no lord.” He remembered the boy had called him Sir, first. A knight is no lord. “You know me as Sir Hyrren. Keep it so.” He sheathed his sword.

“Yes, my…um…sir.” She cleared her throat. “What…well…what happened, you know?…Out there?”

“War,” he said. “ The King is dead. I saw him fall. Him and the Prince lie together in death‘s embrace. The prince, he was the last to be taken by the sword. As he fell, a thrust my own sword through the heart of the monster before he could focus his gaze on me.” Dra’amok nodded to the crowd. “They all fought valiantly.” He tried to choke back laughter at his own words, but nobody seemed to notice.

“What was it?” yelled a man from the back of the crowd.

“Wind Rider, ma’am. A depleter.”

Stunned silence filled the crowd for a few seconds, before a boy took off running toward somewhere deeper within the walls. A women cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled, informing anyone who hadn’t heard that the king was dead. Panic broke. People screamed prophecy, screamed of darkness and shadow come again. Dra’amok tried to stop them, tried to reassure them that the creature was dead. Nobody care. Women gathered their children and began running. Old men put their hands upon their heads and staggered aimlessly. Some children were left alone, and stood in the middle of the streets, crying. Then, the bells began to chime.

Deep, heavy bells rang over the city, covering the screams of mothers and the howling of the children. Dra’amok walked toward the steps that led to the keep of the great castle. Many looked at him in awe, and many more with anger and hatred burning in their eyes. It mattered not. These, most, were peasants. He needed to enter the castle before declaring himself the new king, if they’d allow it, and the castle was beyond the reach of these wretched creatures. If they didn’t allow it, they’d drown in Shadow. The fear in the air burned at his nostrils, and his human stomach rumbled with hunger. So much flesh, running, screaming, crying. It was all he could do not to just stick a hand out with a dagger and skewer one of them. Nobody would likely even notice. No. You must stay hidden.

Chara…

She knows…

The demon buried his longing inside of him, concentrating on the task at hand. Would he have to fight to enter the castle, he didn’t know. Either way, it wouldn’t have been much trouble. Most of the streets had been cleared by the time Dra’amok was exiting the common peoples’ town, and there was no time to find the gate boy again. Not then anyway. Before him, the wall of great stone arches with raised spiked iron gates wrung the mound that Castle Thrymdor sat crushingly. Just beyond the gates, huge stone steps wrapped the mound as well, ending at the entrances to the ground floor. The great keep lay within, where he would begin his reign.

As he passed under the arches, he glanced up at the iron spikes above him, and wondered why the gates had been raised. Had word reached the Kingdom that the enemy was defeated already? As he began to climb the steps, he realized that the small procession following him had stopped just outside of the great arched wall. They know order, he thought. Discipline. Good…

The city was a small one, but he knew, even a small uprising could dethrone a king. But, King Boraan had been respected, and revered. His, was the only Kingship allowed in the Netherrealms. All of the other cities paid fealty to the king in the east, King Lanier of the kingdom Lucansfere. His realm spanned from Kunairee far east against the Broken Shore, to just outside the Swathed Hills. King Doran had been chosen by Lanier to govern the Netherrealms — the Swathed Hills lined the east border from Hornhold in the north, to The Stained Fallow in the south, and beyond, Flickerpool, where men say the Shadow sleeps in the black shallows, and the bright lights that fade in and out under the water are the ghosts of men drawn too far into the shade. The Saline Sea was at the west flank, and nothing, not even the Seekers, knew what lie beyond.

Men and their fear! So wrong, so wrong. Dra’amok didn’t even bother hiding the smile that came this time. The time was coming. The shadow was spreading, as it did in the Age of the Risen. Just as now, men were misguided then, too. The Shadow was everywhere, but there were too few who served, still. That was about to change. The Ending Form was coming, and nobody, not even the Thryorian seemed to smell it. Dra’amok’s loosing should have been a sign, but it seemed the world of man had forgotten about what his kind was, what his kind bring. This was just the beginning, and the battle was not yet fully achieved. He had a throne to claim, a corruption to harness, and a Coming to usher forth. His battle was only part of the whole erosion, though. Others had been sent, others like him, who used the ancient paths through the Swathed Hills, forgotten by most men. Other kingdoms were soon to fall, and new souls would be gathered for the Shadow’s forming. His strength will be renewed again.

Dra’amok’s human flesh burned with anticipation. The Garnering was soon to come. Soon to come. Flesh. Dripping, writhing, hot flesh. The blood, we love the blood, dripping, splatting, running down our throats. The blood and skin and pulling and tearing. The beating. All the hearts. The beating. The beating. The beating…

He licked his lips and pushed open the door to the great keep, and walked steadily into Castle Thrymdor, but something pulled incessantly at the back of his mind,

Chara…
She knows.
She knows…

The Traveler. (Short Fiction)

This is a really short piece of fiction. I had a dream about this scene and wrote about it that night at work. I didn’t really intend on doing much with it, so I figured I’d just post it. But, if you guys like it, I might do some more work on it. Let me know what you think.

The deep water sky folds carelessly over the edge of the earth, without want or need. It blankets the dying sun, enshrouding hemispheres in a thicket of grainy atrophy. There are no birds in the air nor wolves on the wind who call out to expecting lover ghosts. The dirt is desperate as it’s whipped about by currents invisible and the clouds move quickly, fully bloomed and cotton-tailed.

The traveler moves on, him and his useless things and behind him floats the smells of yesterplaces, thin and displaced amongst the viper wind. He slings his satchel up closer to his neck and pulls up his rotting collar. It falls down again, but he doesn’t notice, as one doesn’t notice the count of their breaths or the urges speaking foreignly within their burdened head.

Behind him, his footprints lie as craters, like the memories of meteors of light-yeard landscapes drowned out by the stars. But in a place where thoughts are seldom and seconds peel the visage of any landscape, the wind blows to his back and swallows footprints, now just a covered scar to a blanching scape. The memory remains, but only in the muscles of the traveler, the way that fingers fit a glass. The way the glass fits a lip. The way you just know how to swallow, like it had ever been a choice.

The smell of carrion weaves its way through the bushes and brambles stinging the nostrils of fowl from eons out. They all rustle their feathers, but none fixes to venture out lest they be part of the smell. An evil looms, tethered to the darkness like a junkyard dog, ready to rabid the world. The traveler senses it, too, and in his somber gate he walks only on the balls of his feet, choosing each step with an eternity of focus. The wind dies. A growl rips the air. The traveler sighs, lowering his head. He clenches his fists, and let’s his jacket fall to the sand. Everything is routine, but everything, just like routine, eventually dies. And in this sunless, wind-torn, sandpit, too ancient and far away for any gods to gamble on the outcomes, the traveler hopes his time is not yet to be betrayed by his loving pistol — his last and only friend.

Fingering the Proverbial Box-fan

This is a random post. In my last post,You Have Nice Character Traits, Boy, I made some sort of asinine statement claiming, ” I can (in writing) tell you exactly how you would react if you watched a four-year-old stick their little pinky in a spinning metal box fan…”. This prompted a comment from a friend of mine (who runs this wonderfully blog here: CarlyBeth’s Blog), who asked me how she would react in that situation. This gave me a perfect excuse for practice writing.

The following was my response.

Well, I haven’t seen you in a while, so I can only guess:

Carly sat back, tucked in the corner of the couch, laptop resting lazily on her knees. The wind from the fan resting on the window-sill blew lightly, flitting her tossed-up hair across her face, no matter what measures she took to stop it.

It was a quiet, lazy day — one she was grateful to have after the kind of week she just endured. As she brushed the hair off her forehead once again, she sighed and looked secretly over the top of her computer screen, smiling at the sight of Adam cooing softly to himself, playing with the old toys she had set out for him.

He was the neighbors boy, and at four years old, he was a surprisingly easy watch. Carly didn’t care either way. It just meant more money for her, which was never a bad thing.

She went back to reading the words on her screen, getting lost in whatever quiet revelations they brought her. Her hair fell again and snaked it’s way across her face. It felt like spiders and she crinkled her forehead in disgust.

“Dammit,” she said, brushing her hair back up again. She closed her laptop and pushed herself up to turn off the annoying, insolent fan. And then she stopped dead in her tracks.

Adam was there, his back to her, rigid, standing in awe as his voice through the fan was distorted into robot whispers. Carly’s heart skipped and pounded in her chest as she watched his curious tiny hand reach for the shining spinning blades that gave him his polyphonic tone.

“No!” she screamed, lurching off the couch so hard her laptop clattered and broke off the coffee table. Adam looked back with that sinister, ignorant, beautiful grin. “Don’t touch–”

Her last words were cut off with the wet buzz of the fan. The motor whirred and slowed for a minute and was drowned out by the scream. He turned, clutching his left hand, mouth opened in shocked disassociation, and for a moment, Carly couldn’t tell if that scream — that awful scream — was his or her own. She felt her face fill with warmth, and her head began to throb. The room spun violently, spinning, churning into oblivion, and as Adam rushed toward her flinging wet gobs of red across the white couch, Carly’s hands slowly climbed up her face, pulling at her skin.

“It’s not real,” she said as the room began to darken. Her vision faded, glaucomic irises penciling, now just tiny dots of indiscernible light. “It’s not…” Carly swayed, unable to focus; unable to breath. “…real.”

She fell backward then as her consciousness faded, landing softly in the crook of the splattered couch.

“You Have Nice Character Traits, Boy.”

The deeper I get into writing, the more socially inept I become. I’ve never really been one for social situations, so I can’t say that it bothers me too much, but at least I used to be able to fake my way through it. Now I can’t even hold a conversation. It’s difficult to care about what other people have to say when you’re always thinking about what your characters are going to say. It’s hard to care about what other people are doing — their plans and whatnot — when you are eternally focused on what your characters are going to do next.

The novel I’m writing…I got these characters, you know, and I live with them all day. I dream about them. I wake up and have conversations with them in my head, just figuring out how they’re going to be in the next situation. And I have lots of them, these characters. I have like ten major main characters developing within the first six chapters of this novel, and the problem is trying to keep them relevant. I mean, we all have these stories — these experiences — that link us specifically to some emotion; we have these emotions that draw us to certain motivations in our lives, and the tricky part is reflecting that with the actions of your characters reacting to these scenes.

So, when I’m in a public situation, and some person I should know but don’t remember comes up to me and maybe asks something about what I’ve been up to, I just don’t even know how to respond anymore. I say something along the lines of, “oh, you know…just work and stuff.” I might give a little nod and take a sip through a whiskey double straw, looking for an exit, just thinking about how the hell this character is going to deal with his wife’s suicide, and then I remember I’m probably supposed to ask this person I don’t care about what they’ve been up to, as well.

So it happens, and they tell me something about work. Maybe they’re engaged or have a kid on the way, and you know, they didn’t really expect all of this right out of college. Now money is an issue, plus they have student loans to worry about.

And all of this is nothing new. This is everyone who followed the ol’ straight and narrow, this is all of their lives. And this, I realize — this, is my motivation. Standing at the bar with that horribly normal person – all of these horribly normal people (me included) — what the hell would happen if somebody just dropped dead in the middle of the floor? What would these people do? Now, what would they do when the lights go out, or the door gets locked, and suddenly in the darkness everybody is panicking and they start to hear the voices of each of their dead relatives whispering in their ears, telling them that they were the one that killed that poor girl in the middle of the dance floor? You got your sweet dead Grandmother calling you a faggot, saying, “you killed her ‘cause you don’t like the girls, didn’t you?” You got your best friend from high school, voice sounding mangled because the car-accident severed his throat, he’s whispering something about how much better she looks — how much sexier she is now that she’s dead. He asks you if you can see up her skirt, and dammit, you actually try until you realize the lights are still off. All these dead people you once knew are fucking with your head, and then they say, they tell you, that you have to come to the back room, you just have to. And that’s when a horrible banging starts, you know, banging that you’re sure is just going to throw the door off its hinges any second, and some flood of some terrible other-worldly thing is just going to poor out and consume everyone in sick sucking sounds.

What do people do?

The answer isn’t easy, and that’s what writing is. Everybody is different, and that average Joe that did the average nothing with his life, is the exact character I want. I don’t want a hero. I want a normal-ass person who may become the hero, and those are everyday people.

So, I get all these people who act a little shy around me sometimes, or don’t really want to share a lot of things, and then when they loosen up a bit, they always ask me if some character is them. I tell them no, because it’s my character, but really the answer is most often a definite yes. To all those people wondering whether I’m writing about you. Yes. All of the time. Every single person I’ve ever known is research. All of them — all of you – shape my views and perceptions of people and the world. All of you give me data for compiling a human being. It’s real. If I know you, I can judge the way you would act if the neighbor was digging holes in the backyard with their mother’s arm, or if you accidentally ran over a cardboard box filled with kittens. And everybody’s different.

It’s hard, because everything I do is based on the reality of real people, and I cannot even talk to these people anymore. I can write a billion ways in which some suave-ass big shot picks up girls at the lobby bar, but I can’t even verbally explain to a human being how my day went. I can sink 3,000 words a day into a novel, but awkwardly — all red faced, monotone, and shambling through gapped sentences — I can barely ask someone their thoughts on something as benign as racquetball. And even though I can’t do that, I can (in writing) tell you exactly how you would react if you watched a four-year-old stick their little pinky in a spinning metal box fan going at 4,000 RPMs. Nobody’s real. They’re all just a potential character trait.

Anybody else have this problem?

Rants! Rants Aplenty! (and swear words)

My tone sucks. I can write all day, whether it be fiction; notes; b.s. observations; other peoples’ homework, but as soon as I sit down to write a blog post, my internal tone — the voice in my head as I write — gets all sad and mopey. Why?

I mean, I’ve posted rants. F-ing angry-ass rants, and my head-voice was still all whiney and droning. How the fuck do you spell Eeyore? Because Eeyore, goddammit, is exactly what I sound like in my head.

That’s not what I wanted to bitch about, today, though.

It was just an observation.

We got new couches at work. They suck, too. We used to have these sweet-ass huge leather couches that are more comfortable than my freakin’ bed. Turns out, though, that those couches, although comfortable as balls, can be beaten to splinters and used pretty effectively as weapons. Get a bunch of violent people together, and trust me, if they don’t have a baseball bat with nails in it, they’ll find some stupid way to make something pretty damn similar. So those are gone, along with all the memories. These new ones we got — fucking torture. They are hard as aids rubber, just shaped to look like a chair. The residents at my work don’t even sit in them anymore. They’d rather sit at the dining room tables that look like they were shipped here from a decommissioned prison; the actual seats looking like thick-ass dinner plates that are bolted to the actual table. They aren’t even as nice to sit on (psh) as a picnic table.

Why I brought that up, though, is that I sort of wanted to tell of personal tragedy, and at the same time brag about some stuff that nobody cares about.

Personal tragedy, first. I still drink way too much. I drink so much during the day, that I no longer have time to write when I’m not at work. For example: I spent my morning at my friend’s house playing video games, and I downed two 24oz beers in less than an hour. Then I dug through his cupboards and found a quarter full fifth of some sort of flavored vodka. I drank it straight while standing in his kitchen waiting for him to get out of the bathroom. All of it. Then, for some strange reason, some girl he was seeing stopped by, and we stood in his kitchen talking. I made her feel at home I guess, because when I pulled out a half full bottle of Jose Quervo and started drinking it straight out of the bottle, her face lit up and she grabbed a half full fifth of Vodka out of her purse, paper cup and all. Are there that many of us out there? Needless to say, she asked my friend for a chaser, and I gave her shit for it, and probably called her a wuss or a girl-drinker. She laughed, but I was serious. They disappeared together into the basement, making strange noises that needn’t be attempted to be repeated, and I decided to make omelets. Mitt Romelets. I was swaying by this point. I made three omelets. Two eggs apiece, diced green peps, provolone, and honey ham. My drunk cooking is choice; my drunk actions are not. I burned my fingers to death on the pan, and somehow got the entire counter filthy. Next thing I know, I’m waking up at 5:20 pm and my friend is nowhere to be found. His mom is watching TV in the kitchen. I say hello, and then I leave. I don’t bother to ask any questions, because at this point in my life, I’d rather not know. SO, due to the inconvenience of “I’d rather drink than write,” I’m forced to write at work now.

Which is actually nice. WAS nice.

The couches we had, made writing comfortable, and I was actually extremely productive. I hadn’t written a word in months because of my drinking, but since I forced myself to deal with it and bring my laptop to work at night, I’ve written 9,000 words in like five days. It even inspired me to throw the first five chapters of this novel to a fellow writer/editor. She’s seen my stuff before, and we had talked about her editing for me, but I haven’t given her anything in over a year. I think she was pleased to finally see something. Anyway, since we got these new chairs, I can’t write comfortably. I’m not kidding, it’s like sitting on a chair shaped rock. So now, I’m sitting at the staff desk, over looking my milieu, in some shitty plastic and metal, cafeteria chair, writing this little piece of shit, because why? Because I’m bored, and pissed off, and when I’m bored and pissed off, I cannot effectively write things that I want to turn out readable.

So this is my rant.

Chairs suck when they aren’t soft. Why even make them? Unbreakable doesn’t have to mean torturous. The manufacturers could have at least threw some goddamn pads on the sons of bitches. Here’s something else: Drinking sucks, too. I can taste that tequila from earlier with my nose, if that even makes sense. If your not a raging alcoholic, it probably doesn’t  but either way, just know that my body hates me. I’ve developed some sort of skip in my heartbeats. Not really sure what it is. It goes like this: Babump, Babump, Babump, _______, BABUMP. Some amateur, med-school applicant told me it could be a “stress related valve problem.” That guy sucks, too.

Also, for some fucked up reason, I keep switching “no” and “know” today. I’m going retarded.

Also, I’m an asshole. An old friend of my family messaged me asking about my sister. They had a falling out a while back, and this person was just checking in to see how my sister was doing because she was worried about her. Wanna know what I said?

This. This is what I wrote:

“She has been good. She found that she has a natural gift for tap-dancing and balancing things on her head due to some genetic anomaly. She now travels with the circus and is considered, by their standards, a rising star. She left her boyfriend for a six-toed, sword eating midget, with an eye-patch, after she found out her real father was a caged manatee. She now spends her free time writing letters to the Vice-President about wood grain, often signing them, “Breathy Salt-Bottom,” or sometimes, “Manateah.”

Seriously.

Why? Why do I do these things?

The Creation of a Cynic

My parents were nice people. They’re still nice, and I’d tell people that, too, if they cared enough to ask. They usually don’t. People often inquire about my childhood, and I can’t tell if it’s an innocent curiosity or some attempt to draw an answer up about some question imposed by my current self. Believe me, I’m not that unbearable to be around, but don’t tell anyone. Don’t tell anyone, either, that my parents had little to do with my up-to-date loathings and hatreds, and subsequent ill behavior. This is natural. Pure, unfiltered Darwinism.

Anyway, my parents were nice. They were divorced which I’ve never held against them, and wouldn’t, still, had I been old enough to even remember it. I wasn’t. My first nightmare was about the Flying Monkeys from The Wizard of Oz, not of my parents being divorced.

Both my parents believed in God, and I never really held that against them, either. Unlike my normal, people-caused views, I didn’t think this made them stupid. I still don’t, and in a way, I’m glad they have that — God, I mean. Or Him. Or whatever. It doesn’t matter, as long as they have something to look forward to, and I don’t call them stupid for it. I think it’s nice.

And that’s what it is. Nice. Nice, because they’re not telling me homosexuality is an abomination, or that Hell is a place God sends sinners. I think they realize that God’s Will, as a thing, eliminates any possibility of Hell. I don’t always capitalize God. In regards to my parents, I will. Hell or no Hell, they strive to be better people. I like that.

I have two friends, both Atheists, who don’t believe in Marriage Equality. There’s nothing scarier, as there is no belief system, no matter how flawed, backing this up. It’s pure intolerance for no reason other than disliking a group of people. I hate them.

I bring them up to show something. It isn’t people like my parents who have made me spit at the world. It’s people like these two “friends” of mine. I think their views on god are lies. I think they disbelieve purely because it’s becoming the cool thing to do, as if somehow it’s now edgy, like immortal rebellion. I think deep down they’re just two more god-fearing, hate mongers. Their ideologies are confusing. Both of them are racist, sexist, homophobes, who have actually questioned me as to why I’m so disgusted by rape. Seriously. Needless to say, they are both republicans. This, generally, goes against everything an atheist usually is. I don’t like Liars. I don’t like fakes. They attempt to insult me by calling me ” Fucking Democrat”. They don’t understand what it is about them that I can’t stand.

The world is full of them, these fakes; these liars, and so are our TVs. My parents never watched reality television. This, I am grateful for. They never got into celebrity gossip, either. No TMZ or HLN. No MTV or E! News. My heroes were never destined to be Perez Hilton or Kim Kardashian.  I never looked at anybody from The Real World, or Jersey Shore with anything other than disdain. The only reason I even know who these people are is because of people other than my parents. I had boring ex-girlfriends who didn’t like to do much more than watch American Idol or Desperate Housewives. I’ve had, and still have, friends who spend their time wasting away, being brain-murdered by Buckwild; Survivor; Operation Repo; the likes. Suicide really does seem painless compared to sitting through that shit.

My parents, instead, taught me the value of books. Now I scroll through FaceBook, and see people who’s favorite book’s section reads: I don’t read; Fuck Reading; or I hate Books. Look at their favorite movie’s section to find a list longer than Netflix’s. Look at their hobbies: Partying. Girls. Hunting. Cars. Busch Light. Wrestling. Shootin’ Stuff.

Are you starting to see where my negativity comes from? It was never my parents. Never my childhood. It came from growing up and meeting people. When I was in High school, it didn’t matter whether someone had the same T-shirt, it mattered who got it first because it would have been more expensive. Why the fuck would that possibly matter. The separation and divider of students grew and grew right in front of my eyes, as kids who had always been cool no longer were because their plain white T was different than the exact same plain white T with a certain name over the left side of the chest. Kids became walking billboards and clothing company’s reaped the benefits. It’s at its worst today. Back then, even the nicest button-ups were about $60. Today, they’re about $99-$130. And parents buy their kids this shit, instilling in them this idea that what you wear defines you. So now, we have spray tanned, roided-out, pink-lipped, debt-growers all circling around the shallowest beings they can find, looking for acceptance. If parents simply taught acceptance, we could have avoided this cycle. My friend just bought a fedora. A fucking Fedora. With a skull on it. He sleeps with a different girl every week. He never calls them again. They don’t mind. This. This is what happens.

Can we go back. This awful cynicism I have (and no doubt many others), would die if parenting were done the way it should be. We all cynics need to unite and breed and have cynic children, so that this wave of douchebaggery can die under the cogs of our brutal machine called progress; under these swinging iron fists war-bent on beating back the hordes of culture cannibals. Down with modern culture. Down with the dumbing of our nation. Down with materialistic competition. Teach your kids to read and to be curious. Teach them the value of work and the honor in respect. Above all, teach your kids to doubt.

The biggest cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid people are so sure about things and the intelligent folks are so full of doubts.”  -Bertrand Russell

Boredom & Expectations: What’s Killing You?

I think my problem with life-longevity boils down to a simple fear of boredom. This idea, the one that’s ingrained in us since birth (c’mon you know the one), just seems so unrealistic when speaking in terms of happiness.

We’re supposed to waste our childhood studying, right? Just studying away, click-clacking through Google and Wikipedia while our friends are out cow-tipping or getting arrested for turfing the football field? For what? To get into a good school where we click-clack over Google and Wikipedia even harder just to be told our opinions are shit. (Side note: I had a professor in college who was an Irish Catholic who believed in Creationism!) Meanwhile, our friends are out crowd surfacing and getting arrested for selling mushrooms for $45 an eighth (that’s a crime in itself!)! Double exclamations — you know I’m serious.

And then what? ( Young Jeezy in head now.) Then, the worst part, we’re supposed to find some job? Some measly little “new hire” job, where we get paid in elephant peanuts because we have no reference level, no work experience, and no fucking idea how to tie the full-Windsor? Oh yeah, don’t forget, we’re already, basically supposed to have a spouse, or someone that resembles one, picked out by now, because, you know, we’ve had so much fucking free-time.

So here we sit in life (you still with me?), fresh out of school, new job where you already want to jump out of the window with your mouse cord noosed around your chicken neck, just praying your computer will catch on the edge of the sill so you can hang in front of everybody’s fucking face instead if splat on the sidewalk, because you want people to know who you are? Ok, maybe not that last part. Where were we? Ah yes, new job, it sucks anal (we’ll leave it at that), and you’re about to get married, oh, God! Good for you, with that wedding, the big-ass wedding she wants that you can’t afford on your “new hire” salary.

And then, boom! Debt, son. Mad debt. Car payments, mortgage, student loans, credit cards, traffic tickets, hospital bills,… Wait. Hospital bills? Yes, sir, your spouse just popped out some kids. They kind of look like you, but you can’t be too sure. Might as well argue about some shit! Maybe threaten a divorce, shit, maybe get a fuckin’ divorce, I mean, the kids are young enough, right, they won’t remember… Right?

And this is where the cycle starts all over again. Your kids, quiet in their rooms, click-clacking over Google and Wikipedia, questioning why any of this matters. And the truth is, you never tell them, is that it doesn’t. What matters is living, and none of us are really doing it.

Call into work and go drink a beer, or margarita, or whatever. Go play air-hockey with a bunch of neighborhood delinquents. I dare you. Get shit-faced, and prank call your boss, saying: “Worship Satan, pussy.”

Why not, Gaylords? Why. Not. It will be delightful, I promise.

This will segue nicely into my next post, titled: Why Drink!?