As the pair exited the dilapidated building they had spent the night in Ghanis looked up at the clouds scudding across the sky and frowned. It was an overcast morning; not cold but certainly damp.

“It looks like we might be getting wet in an hour or so,” he said.

Jhax did not reply but pushed her way past her him to take up the lead position, trudging through the tall grass towards the road they had left last night.

Ghanis fiddled with the shoulders straps of his backpack as he moved in behind her, trying to find a more comfortable position for them. This was always challenge because the backpack was not designed for people with four arms and the straps ended up digging into the backs of his lower pair of arms unpleasantly. He had the area padded with some old socks hoping to mitigate some of the chafing and ultimately he was able to make due but he really wished he could find something that fit.

Being a muted human certainly had its challenges. Finding acceptable clothing and gear that would work for his unusual frame was always difficult and he resigned himself this fact when he was just a young man. Anything he found would need to be modified to in order to fit.

This requirement was not something that just he had to deal with and he understood this. After all there were mutants everywhere and with all manner of physical irregularities. While he had no bases for the assumption, he thought there must be millions.

While he was thinking about this he considered his traveling companion Jhax who was currently walking about eighteen meters ahead of him. He, Ghanis was at least mostly human; his extra pair of arms being the only real sign he was not of a pure DNA strain, Jhax on the other hand was pretty much half cat and half human.

He honestly didn’t know if she was a mutated panther with some human features, or a mutated human with some panther features and Jhax made it very clear early in their relationship that this subject was off limits and never to be brought up in conversation again. If ever Ghanis was ever in doubt of her feelings on this point he had only to run his fingers along the two inch scar that ran between his left eye and his left ear. A warning that Jhax left with him the last time he tried to bring the subject up.

This did not stop Ghanis from trying to figure it out. He noted that she walked mostly upright, had a human torso, and human arms and legs. She had paws where there should have been feet and hands, but even these appendages seemed to lean more towards a human origin. She was covered from head to toe in short but thick black fur and had rather long tail that gave her as much trouble fitting into trousers as his extra pair of arms caused him fitting into shirts. She would constantly complain about having to either cut a hole in the back of her pants to allow her for her tail, or having to tuck the tail uncomfortably down the back of one of the pant legs.

The road they were following was the same highway Ghanis had traced across the holomap earlier in the morning though calling it a road was giving it far too much credit. It might have been better described as a crumbling concrete path considering its current deteriorated condition. The edges of the road were severely overgrown with grass and moss, and there was often long stretches where the passing years reclaimed the road completely; causing him and Jhax to lose sight of it. When this happened they were forced to use the holomap to be certain they were still moving in the right direction. Effective, but not something Ghanis liked to do often because he worried doing so would run down its battery.

“Have you given much thought in what we are looking for?” Ghanis asked as they walked on.

“Not really,” Jhax signed. “I’m just here to keep you out of trouble. Didn’t Targus tell you what it was?”

“Not really,” Ghanis said. “He just told me that it would be some sort of tech, something he hopes will be able to help our settlement in some way.”

Targus was the leader of their settlement and had been leading that group for almost twenty five years now. The people there liked him and what he has done to help them prosper. He has contacts from all over the wasteland and his information is usually spot on. Ghanis trusted Targus completely. If Targus said there was something of value out here, then there was and that was good enough for him. Ghanis knew that Jhax still had her reservations though. As best he could tell, he was the only person that Jhax fully trusted. He was certain this was because he had risked his own life to save hers fifteen years ago.

He knew his immature humor could get on Jhax’s nerves, but she gave him a hard time in return more often than not as well. It was almost a game for him. He also couldn’t help but admit to himself that there was a deeper feeling there and he suspected the feeling to be mutual. After all, why would she have volunteered to go with him on this crazy mission Targus sent him on?

They reached the river crossing shortly after noon relieved that the bridge was indeed still intact though it looked much worse for the wear. There were plenty of holes in the deck, and much of the sides were either gone completely or stubbornly hanging over the edge by thin pieces of rusted rebar. It looked safe enough to cross, at least in a physical sense; but bridges were a great place to get ambushed so they approached it with caution.

Just Chill Already

Posted: March 20, 2015 in Blog

<soapbox>

There is a lot of grumbling going on across social media because of that school in New York that had said the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic. At the risk of garnering hate from my friends I have to say that this thing is being blown way out of proportion.

Seriously, It was foreign languages week for crying out loud. Like the written news article pointed out, they had said the pledge in a number of different languages that same week (German, French, Spanish) but that fact never made it to the news or had people gnashing their teeth. This whole thing got blown out of proportion because one of the languages was Arabic and currently as a nation we are paranoid of anything middle eastern. Only then did people break out the pitchforks and torches

I’m not defending the school, but at the same time I’m not going to be filled with righteous indignation about my mother tongue either. I’m not so paranoid that I worry the school is indoctrinating my kids or pushing some Muslim agenda.

When it comes to the pledge people are overlooking one very important point. By saying the words you are publicly declaring that you love and honor this nation. Just like the title would imply, you are giving your oath to our Republic.

Personally I don’t give a damn HOW you say it. You can tap the pledge out in Morse code for all I care. What is more  important to me is the fact that you would be willing to say that pledge and mean it in your heart. That earns my respect and gratitude regardless of what language you say it in.

English might be the official language in the US, but we are a nation of many people and limiting the pledge to only English marginalizes those honest people throughout history who immigrated with every intent of becoming a hardworking US citizen but have not yet mastered the language. Were those people in the wrong for pledging their allegiance?

The only issue I do have with the school is that the pledge should be treated with as much respect as the flag. It should not have been used as a learning opportunity. They certainly could have found other words to teach with, but seriously people – it’s not as big a deal as you are making it out to be.

Too much effort is spent on the words, while ignoring the more important meaning behind the words

</soapbox>

The crisp morning air began to warm as the sun climbed higher into the sky.  Ghanis, a mutant born with four usable limbs, awoke from another terrible night’s sleep and stretched loudly as he stood up, all four of his massive arms extended as he worked out the muscle cramps he had developed over the course of the night.

He and his traveling companion Jhax, another mutant who was half cat and half human; had been on the road now for close to three weeks.  The need to find whatever shelter they could along the way each night usually lead to the pair of them sleeping uncomfortably on the ground more often than not, and as an effect of this, Ghanis was finding he ached in places he didn’t even know he could.

He would have complained of his muscle aches to Jhax as he did almost every morning, but a quick look around their makeshift shelter didn’t find her. Something that was not all that uncommon however, as she tended not to sleep as much as he did and liked to patrol their immediate area as an added measure of safety.

“Probably hunting up some breakfast,” He thought hopefully.

He was confident that this was exactly what Jhax was up to. He noticed her sleeping bag was already rolled up and attached to her backpack, both of which were now leaning against a wall nearby.

Expecting her back soon enough, Ghanis set about packing his own sleeping bag and backpack, placing the completed bundle next to Jhax’s before attending to the fire, which after burning all night, was now just a pile of graying coals.

Ghanis knelt before the circle of stones that had contained last night’s fire and began to blow across it with deep constant breathes, pacing himself so as to not make himself dizzy.

The coals answered with a crackle, glowing orange where there was still some life left.  This pleased Ghanis and he put down some tinder right away, continuing to feed it oxygen with his breathe until the tinder was aflame.

By the time Jhax returned with a brace of hares for their breakfast, Ghanis had the fire burning brightly.

She walked into camp and dropped the hares next to the fire.

“Nice catch Hun,” Ghanis said, picking up the hares and inspecting them.

Jhax glared at him, causing Ghanis to grimace at his error.  He gave her an apologetic shrug.  He couldn’t count the number of times she has asked him not to call her that, but he also couldn’t help himself.  The word just spilled out naturally for him.  He had tried in the past to explain to her how difficult this was for him and how unconsciously the word issued from his lips, but she just ignored him and complained each time it happened.

It was mid-morning by the time the pair finished with their meal.  Once they were done eating they set about tearing down the camp.  This did not take long considering they were living out of their backpacks.  When they finished with this chore the only remaining task was the removal of the ring of stones that had contained the fire and scattering its ashes.  Although they were not currently being pursued it was always a good idea to not leave any signs behind that a marauder could stumbled upon and be tempted to investigate.

When preparations for the days march were complete, Ghanis retrieved a small circular device from the left front pocket of his trousers. The device was about the size of his palm, perhaps an inch thick and completely smooth on the top and bottom. In its center was a lens system that was flush with the top of the device so as to not stick out of it, and a single rectangular button located on its edge.  It was the only piece of tech that he owned.

Ghanis saw Jhax waiting expectantly for him to press the button.   He did so and set the device down on the ground in front of them.

Instantly a three dimensional map was displayed about in the air above the device. The image hovered about a meter off the ground and occupied and area of about two meters. They could see their current location as a bright blue dot. A similar green dot marked their destination.   Using his hands to manipulate the image it was only seconds before he had it focused on their current location and zoomed in.

“Another day to reach this crossing here” he said pointing to a location where the road they had been following crossed a river. “But there is no way to know what kind of condition the bridge will be in.”

Jhax nodded that she understood.  She let her finger draw a path through the image, passing the bridge and stopping at what appeared to be a small village sized settlement.

Ghanis manipulated the map and zoomed into the location Jhax had questioned.  There was a small settlement indicated there, probably no more than a couple of kilometers in size.

“We can check it out, but remember this map is not current. It may not even be there. ”

He knew the mapping device was at least a hundred years old and understood that there could be features displayed in its images that no longer exist, or even new features not noted because they didn’t exist the last time the map had an update.

“I know,” Jhax said, using the common sign language most mutants who could not speak used to communicate. “But it’s not too far off our track, there might be something of value.”

“Yeah,” Ghanis said, “you’re right, it probably wouldn’t hurt to check out another ghost town.”

Ghanis retrieved his mapping device and threw his pack over his shoulder. He offered to help Jhax with her pack but she declined and waved him on.

“How many times do I have to tell you I can handle myself?” She signed.

“Easy girl, I was just trying to me nice,” Ghanis said, “After fifteen years together I’d figured you might have lightened up some.”

Jhax rolled her eyes, “After fifteen years I would expect you to know me better than that.”

Prompt Used: Noises in the Kitchen

(Aprox 1000 words)

Duncan Jori was having a difficult time sleeping.

The trouble was not that he was unable to get to sleep once he closed his eyes; but rather the difficulty was remaining asleep once he had finally drifted off. He would be either too warm causing him to wake and kick off his blankets, too cold causing him to reach out and pull the blankets back on again; or sometimes his pillow was not fluffed correctly requiring him to punch and pull it into a more comfortable shape being sure to flip it over to the “cool” side before assaulting it.

In addition to the normal issues of discomfort he experienced each night, tonight posed a particularly difficult sleeping challenge in that there was at this moment, unexpected noises coming from downstairs in the kitchen.

The fact that there were sounds coming from the kitchen didn’t register for Duncan at first. Still groggy from his interrupted slumber he thought he had simply dreamed about the noises until he heard a very loud BANG that sound as if something had dropped. Upon hearing the bang he sat bolt upright, his breath quickening with the realization that someone was in his home finally sinking in.

Gathering his wits, he retrieved a pistol from the nightstand and swung himself out of his bed, his pistol at the ready. He did not bother to get dressed before carefully walking out of the bedroom and into the hall.

Seeing no immediate danger He quietly made his way to the stairway at the far end of hall, being vigilant about avoiding the squeaky floorboard located just in front of the second bedroom as he passed it, and paused to listen at the top of the stairs.

What he heard caused his jaw to hit the floor. For as impossible as it was, the noises that he was hearing in the kitchen were none other than voices of his two deceased wives; and it sounded to him like they were having an argument.

Apprehensively Duncan descended the stairway being as quiet as he could manage. He then tip-toed across the darkened living room until he reached the kitchen doorway. Stopping just left of this entrance he carefully peered around door-frame into the kitchen beyond.

His eyes widen at what he saw. He knew it was impossible but there was no doubt in his mind that currently in his kitchen stood both of his dead wives. What’s more, the pair of them seemed to be arguing over what sounded to him like the washing of the dishes.

“Samantha Dear,” Duncan’s second wife Jessica drawled in a tone of patient disdained. “You were not sent back to be his maid. Let that lazy bastard do his own dishes.”

“I know Jessie but they needed to be done and I was here anyway,” said Samantha as she finished drying a large salad bowl and put it away in the cupboard to the left of the stove.

Duncan was incredulous. In all of his forty-five years he had never once seen a ghost. In fact he often got a good laugh out of deriding those who insisted that they had seen a ghost. Yet standing in front of him now were two woman he knew for a fact were dead.

Believing that he had gone mad, he no longer tried to remain hidden on the other side of the kitchen wall and strode dumbly into the kitchen, his mouth agape.

Jessie was the first to see him walk in. She turned towards him and gave a curt nod, the barest hint of a smile on her face. It was almost as if she were not glad to see him again.

Samantha on the other hand tossed her dish towel onto the kitchen table and ran to him as soon as she noticed that he had entered. She wrapped her arms around him in a loving embrace, treating the whole encounter as if she had only been away on holiday and not as if she had been dead for years.

“Duncan!” She said happily, and hugged him tightly.

Samantha, Duncan noticed, was very real indeed. There was a physical touch he was certain would not be there had she simply been some sort of spirit. He wanted to return her embrace but her presence was an impossibility that he still could not wrap his mind around it and he just stood there with his arms hanging at his sides as she hugged him.

Samantha seemed to sense this confusion and stepped back to give him some space.

Duncan glanced back and forth between Samantha and Jessie. They both appeared to him exactly like he remembered them. Sam, having always been the more conservative of the two wore her typical brown skirt and loose cotton blouse, while Jessie who enjoyed dressing with the intent to shock, wore a very tight leather mini-skirt and a ripped half tee that exposed a very suggestive tattoo she had just below her navel.

He knew he should be ecstatic to see them. Sam had died almost ten years ago, and Jessie almost three. He was devastated when they had died and he missed them both terribly. However their presence in his kitchen tonight was an impossibility that defied all he had previously believed about the hereafter and as such, he was not convinced they were real at all.

Deciding that there was nothing threatening about the noises in the Kitchen, and as he was too tired to think about the situation just now; he turned on his heel and strode out of the room. He moved through the living room, back up the stairs and down the hall to his bedroom where he closed the door behind him. He didn’t worry about the loud squeak that came from the floorboards in front of the second bedroom. His only thoughts were getting back to his bed, and trying to get some more sleep. Perhaps with some decent rest, he would stop hearing the noises and stop seeing things that were not there.

In The Raw

Posted: March 16, 2015 in Blog
Tags: , , ,

There are many who would argue that posting raw barely edited work is a bad idea. I think in the majority of cases this is absolutely true. When we put up our writing to be viewed, the intent is to market a finished product that others will be interested in and enjoy reading. How many people can comfortably read something that is unedited and filled with all manner of errors? Not many I would say, and that kind of poor writing will only cause a reader to put down the story or book and never look at another one of your pieces again.

In this case however, the product *is* the unedited version of the prose.

I’ve titled the project In The Raw – The First Draft As It Happens, and that is exactly what I intend to do. I want anyone who is interested to follow my progress as I work on and ultimately complete the first draft my first novel.

Here are the two rules I promise myself to follow.

1. By Friday of each week there will be at least one new post added to the draft, with a minimum word count of all posts made that week equaling at least one thousand words. I am allowed to post more frequently but I absolutely must meet the minimum of at least one thousand words posted per week.
2. I will not edit or correct a text once it has been posted. The point is to get the words out and avoid a cycle of constant editing and never getting further into the book.

I figure that after a year of this schedule I should end up with at least 52,000 words. Not quite a full length novel, but at least a start. I expect there will be more than that written after a years’ worth of work, but if I can at least reach this goal I will be very happy with myself indeed.

This in one of the origin stories I wrote for Sohm.  It’s an event that will have a big impact on her throughout her life.  I wish I could give more information but doing so would be a bit of a spoiler if I were to ever get the book written.

 shipstorm1

Shipwreck

(Approx 1200 words)

 

“Take my hand little one!” A man shouted to Sohm from the flooded deck of a storm damaged ship. He was wearing simple black trousers and a white shirt, water-soaked and stained red. Read the rest of this entry »

Prompt used:  You people scare me

(Approx. 1290 words)

“Come on Thomas, you got to try at least once before they cut her down!”  Jessica said coming up from behind her friend and putting her arm in his, “The old Lady is the only tree left in the park you can commune with.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Sohm – How she came to be.

Posted: July 8, 2014 in Blog

Sohm

 

Sohm has the distinction of being one of the first characters I have ever really developed. She was originally conceived from a teen boys fantasy and over the years changed and developed into the magic wielding steampunk ship captain she currently is. (I’m almost fifty now, to give you all an idea of how long I have known this character.)

Read the rest of this entry »

New Prompt

Posted: July 1, 2014 in Blog

The prompt choices for my next writers group meeting are “Fools Gold”,”Motivated Kiss”, and “Always Anonymous”

When I heard these announced I mentioned I could scratch “Motivated Kiss” off the list, because I just couldn’t see myself writing an emotional “Girly” story.  In the past I’ve browsed through some of my wife’s romance novels and well … yuck.

But then I gave this idea some serious thought.  Honestly, why not give it a shot?  The point for writing to these prompts is the practice after all, and considering the lack of experience writing this kind of thing I certainly could benefit from the attempt.

So I did it.  I took inspiration from my own past and twisted it up some to come up with my latest story called “Goodbye.”    This will be what I read to the group at our next meeting.

Let me know where I failed, I can’t get better if I don’t know what needs fixing …

Cheers!

https://aethyrshadows.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/goodbye/

Prompt Used: “Motivated Kiss”

( Aprox 1200 words)

 

Tonight’s drive was like all of the others that Darrin and Sarah had taken together in the past.  As they traveled the back roads of Upstate New York in Darrin’s little MR-2, they would take turns flipping a coin to randomly choose their next direction at any intersection they happened upon; heads would be left, tails would be right.   They didn’t care about where they might end up, because for them these drives were not about the destinations.  In fact, a destination was something they tried to avoid because once you reach your destination the trip is over, and neither of them wanted their time together to end.

Darrin looked forward to these weekends simply to spend time with Sarah, and it was no secret to anyone that he loved her.  He made this declaration to Sarah herself years ago but to his disappointment he could never get her to return the feelings.

He couldn’t understand her hesitation at saying the words, when even their friends considered them a couple.  Rarely would you see one without the other whenever Darrin made the six-hour drive from Groton to Syracuse to visit home, or more accurately visit Sarah.

Yes, tonight seemed like any of the other nights they spent on the road.  They listened to radio and talked about life, shared dreams, discussed current events, and their plans for the future; and as always they took turns flipping the coin.

Eventually they ended up on a straight country road, the rows of corn blurring as the stalks left the narrow beam of the headlights to disappear into the darkness as they passed.

After years of waiting in vain for Sarah to tell him She loved him and wanted him to stay, he decided to do another four years in the Navy.  Not because he really loved the service, but because he didn’t know what else to do with his life at this point and had nothing truly keeping him home.

If only she would say the words he thought.   If only her could hear her tell him that she loved him, and that she wished he didn’t have to leave again; then his life would be complete and his heart would be full.  He would have a reason to come home for good.

He turned and smiled at her.

She was sipping her diet Pepsi through a curly straw, reclined with her feet up on the dash and occasionally mouthing the words to the Bon Jovi song that was playing on the radio.

Born to be my Baby,” Darrin Thought, how fitting.

She smiled back at Darrin when she noticed his gaze.  “What?” she giggled.

“Just admiring how beautiful you are is all.”

“Oh stop,” She said with a friendly backhand to his shoulder.

Darrin noticed the bracelet he gave her a year ago her still on her wrist at least, though he really wanted to give her a ring, because a bracelet just didn’t scream “I’m taken” like a ring on her finger would; Sarah wouldn’t accept a ring.  Still she almost never took off the bracelet

“No – I’m serious; you’re the most beautiful girl I know.”

She only smiled back at him then returned to her singing.

The reached another intersection; it was heads, and Darrin turned left to continue down the dark highway through more of the cornfields.  This was another thing he missed when he was away – there was actually some distance between towns.  You could tell when you reached another town because the farm land would grow shops and homes instead of corn, or wheat, or beans.

“A groovy kind of love” by Phil Collins had just finished playing when Sarah suddenly sat up in the seat and turned off the radio.   “Did you ever give any thought to what might have happened between us if you hadn’t of re-enlisted?”

Darrin pulled quickly to the side of the road and after throwing the car into park turned to face her, almost angry but certainly frustrated.  His heart was pounding so loud in his chest he was afraid she would be able to hear it.

“I think about us almost every single day Sarah,  You know I love you – I never made that a secret; but it seemed that you never want more from me than a friendship.”

“I’ve been waiting…” she whispered looking down into her lap, unable to look at Darrin.

“Why do you have to wait?  If you love me just say it Sarah, I’ve been waiting a long time too.”

“I don’t want a part-time boyfriend Darrin,” she replied, her own tone having a sharpness to it now too, “I need someone here to hold me when I need it, not someone who spends most of their time three states away.  I just wanted you to be done with the Navy and stay home.  Now you made that is impossible!”

Darrin almost cried.  Why this?  Why now?  Why couldn’t she have said something before he swore an oath that would keep him away for another four years?

“Well then why didn’t you tell me that Sarah?  I’ve only ever believed you wanted to remain friends, so I never even worried about re-enlisting; I didn’t think twice about it.  Hun, If you’d only have said something, anything, to let me know that you wanted more for us.”

Darrin noticed a tear on Sarah’s cheek.  Did she love him?  She sometimes acted like she did but she still wouldn’t say it, she still held those words back from him.

She turned away to stare out at the darkness.

Neither of them talked as Darrin brought her home, both lost in their own thoughts.   Could this really be his fault?  Did he worry too much about hearing her say the words, that he actually missed everything she had been saying without them?

Darrin walked Sarah from the parking lot to her apartment.  She unlocked the door then turned to him to say good-bye, but he hushed her before she could speak.  “Shh, it doesn’t have to be goodbye.”

He reached for her hands, to bring her closer to him.  At first she pulled away, but eventually Sarah gave in to Darrin’s touch and let him pull her into an embrace.  She snuggled comfortably into his chest and he inhaled her, savoring the aroma of her hair and perfume; feeling the warmth of her body as she pressed it against his own.  She was crying now, her body shuddering with each breath.

Darrin pulled back to hold her face in his hands. He wanted desperately to tell her he was sorry but didn’t know how.  Sarah’s normally bright blue eyes were now bloodshot and wet, her tears rolled down her cheeks to dampen her lips and chin.

Darrin tried  to brush away a lock of hair from her face but it stubbornly clung to her damp cheek just as she clung on to him seeming to not want to let go.  He kissed her gently, the tears on her lips wetting his own as he poured out his love into this solitary moment.  He was crying now too as he let  his lips hover near hers, feeling her breath on his face.  This was the first time that he had ever kissed her, and he knew in his heart it would also  be his last.

“Just say the words,” he whispered to her as their embrace ended.

Sarah opened her mouth to speak, and for a moment Darrin thought she might give him what he desired, but after a moment’s pause she only said goodbye, leaving him there at the door as she turned and disappeared into her apartment.