Flash Fiction: Hellbound

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So, I’m an avid follower of Chuck Wendig.  He cracks me up and he helps make writing make sense (which is amazing given how f*cking crazy he is).  Anyways, so each week he does a flash fiction challenge, check this weeks out here, and I’ve decided to stop being lazy and write one.  So, I did.

‘Nuff said.  Read it now!  And tell me you like it, or hate it, I don’t care.  But tell me something! XD

 

The gravel crunched underneath the weight of his armored body.

Gravel?

His eyes snapped open and he found himself looking up into a blood red sky that glared angrily through clouds of smoke. He pushed himself up and looked out upon a hellish landscape that was little more than jagged, obsidian stone with rivers of fire running through it.

Where in Their great creation am I?

Last thing he remembered was fighting his way across the battlefield. His orders had been simple. Get to the enemy captain, and take him down. Without his leadership, their troops would break ranks and flee, leaving the way clear. He remembered having the captain in his sights, remembered barreling down on the man. Then there was nothing. Nothing save for black stone and fire.

Did I die?

He rose from his seat and grabbed his sword that was lying next to him. It was a giant, bastard of a sword that gleamed viciously against the fires. He strapped it on his back, wrapped himself in the black folds of his cloak. He decided that any direction was as good as another, so he picked one and began walking.

After proceeding forward for an indeterminable amount of time found himself sweating profusely from the heat of the nearest fire river, and his breath became short. He leaned against a large shard of rock and rested in its shadow. He quickly gasped in pain though and wretched back out of the shadow. Looking down at his armored hands he found the steel covered in frost.

So it’s either the heat of the light or the ice of the shadows. Wonderful.

He had little time to consider his predicament though, because he heard something creeping up behind him. He spun around and drew his sword in a single fluid movement and brought it to bare before him. But was brought up short by the sight of the creature standing before him.

It was little more than a girl. But this was no normal girl. Sure, she wore a simple dress, and her hair was tied back cute pigtails, but there was something else to her. There was something in the sharp angle of her smirk, and there was even more in the eyes that stared at him hungrily. Then she spoke and the words that came out in her cute little voice chilled him to the bone.

-Welcome to hell, Nellaf.-

“What do you want, demon? Why am I here?”

It was questions he asked, but there was no masking the snarls that threw them out like demands.

-Oh, that is simple. You are here for my amusement. You are here because you were brought low by the very violence that you lived your life by, and now you will serve me for an eternity with that very violence. You see the lord, whom commanded the armies of you and your savage men, made a pact with me. I saved his worthless hide and in turn… he gave me you.-

“Like hell,” he snarled, before launching himself at the demon girl with a violent swing of his sword, but it passed through nothing but empty space, and her voice floated down at him from atop the rock.

-‘Like hell’. How fitting. But worry not, that arrogance and anger will serve you well here in my games. Have fun!-

She jumped down from the rock and ran off amidst the rocky crags. Nellaf followed her, intent on venting his anger on her tiny body. He ran on and on for what seemed forever, always her voice just around the bend in the rocky terrain or she’d appear just on the other side of one of the flaming riverbeds, until he found himself staring at pool of fire like the large ponds he used to fish in during his childhood.

She was nowhere to be seen but still her voice spoke to him.

-Welcome to Flamegulch, the home of one of my most fearsome followers. Please do give my regards to Baelrok, won’t you?-

He screamed at her and cursed her violently, but she either didn’t hear him or she ignored him. He cursed her once more and turned to walk away. He had taken but a few steps when the fires and lava in the pool erupted and a massive hand reached up out of the pool and grabbed onto the molten shore.

Nellaf turned back around and watched as a giant horned demon began to drag itself out of the fiery depths. He watched as it rose foot by horrifying foot, until it stood fully on two clawed feet. The beast was at least twice the size of him. The lava ran off of its body like rain, but still the monster’s black body seemed to glow with its own inner hellfire. Nellaf’s horror turned to dread when the monster’s eyes snapped open glared at him with burning rage.

-You dare wake my slumber, little swordsman? Perhaps you’d care to battle a real warrior?-

Something in the monster’s challenge stirred up Nellaf’s pride, but something else. He felt his own battle lust rise up.

You’re really thinking of fighting him?

“Sure, why not, you big brute. Let’s see what you’ve got,” he replied to himself and the demon.

The demon let out a violent laugh before it lunged.

For minutes the demon stalked the man, always forcing him to keep moving in order to avoid being ripped apart, yet no swing of his sword could render the beast’s encrusted hide, and Nellaf was forced to retreat into the crags. Baelrok gave chase.

-Give it up, pathetic human! This is a fight you won’t win.-

Nellaf watched as the demon came around a bend in the rocks and as it stepped into the shadows of the crags the glow of its fiery carapace began to diminish under a coat of ice.

Of course!

Nellaf charged forward, swinging his great blade at the monster’s freezing legs, and the sound of shattering ice rent the air and the beast fell to the ground and the rest of it began to turn to ice.

“Goodbye, Baelrok,” Nelaf snarled as he sent his sword plunging into the beast’s chest.

-Human, no!-

Fire erupted violently and engulfed his sword and his right arm. Instead of burning pain though, he felt only power surging into him.

The flames died down, but his arm and sword continued to glow with demonic fire.

-Well done, Nellaf. I knew you would make the perfect entertainment.-

“Silence, demon girl. Just lead me to the next challenge.”

The girl let out a sinister little giggle as Nellaf turned and regarded her with eyes burning red with smoldering anger.

Books that inspire me

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Books. A seemingly simplistic word, that so many in our generations have come to overlook as archaic. Even my best friend, a man I consider a brother to me in soul, admits that he will probably never touch a book in recreation.

“Why read a book, when I can watch the movie if it is good enough to be made into one?”

He has said this to me on more than one occasion. And unfortunately this has creepingly become the accepted norm for books. But to me, this tiny little word means so much more. When I was younger books served as portals to other worlds that took me away from the bullying and teasing of other children as well as from the abuse of my own step-father. At the time, I saw them as a means of escape. Now, in retrospect, I can see them as so much more. They were an escape, to be sure, but now I see them as the entrances to something much grander. They inspired my mind and heart. They taught me that even the little guy like I used to be, could have more, could be more. They showed that there wasn’t always desperation and anguish, and they showed that even those tales could have happy endings.

I watched as children with nothing worth fighting for could become men and women that proved to the world that greatness comes in many forms. I watched as the mightiest heroes fell to evil only to become the greatest champions of the very causes they had so adamantly fought against. I’ve read and observed more tales and souls than I can recount.

But I remember my favorites. I remember the ones that inspired me the greatest. These are the tales that have inspired me to embrace my love for books and have given me the courage to forge my own tales, in life and on paper. Now I would like to share with you the list of books that paved the way for my love for writing. Enjoy.

Jamberry by Bruce Degen

This is the first book I ever remember reading. I remember sitting on my bed, as my mom held me and read this book to me, sometimes over and over. Then I grew up, and the book became lost to me along with the memory. Then, five years ago, I was working at Borders (resquiesce en pace) and I was putting a new batch of children’s books away, when I came across a board book edition of it. As soon as it slid out of the box I was unloading, into my hands, and I found myself staring at the cover into the jubilant faces of the young boy and his bear companion, I found a part of myself that I had lost. I found the young boy that I had been, hidden under a layer of years and a thicker layer of tortured memories from my time as a teen. That book now sits on my own son’s bookshelf and the spirit of that boy lives on in his eyes and forever in my heart.

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

This is undeniably the beginning of my love for fantasy of all shapes and sorts. The tale that Le Guin wrote evoked so many emotions in me. It was the first book I remember reading where the protagonist leaves his family behind in order to seek his path in life. I’ve read that book no less than ten times now, but I remember every step and mistake that young Sparrowhawk made along the way, and I remember the fear he felt as he faced his mistakes and sought out his destiny. Given the rather diminuitive size of the book, Le Guin taught me that not all great stories need to be big, and that the value and depth of words is infinitely more important than the amount of them.

The Shannara Series by Terry Brooks

I’ve read this entire series up through the Heritage of Shannara Trilogy. Twice. Brooks taught me how rich and deep fantasy could be, without overloading you with clichés of wizards, heroes and villains. He wrote a series that, at its core was always about the magic of one world, but he showed this magic in powerful ways without having to show you over and over again. Each of his characters had their own depth and dynamic that allowed you to remember and differentiate each of them. Each had their own voice and personality. He also taught me the value of making a series that linked together, book by book. To this day, I remember each of the characters and the way each of them fought through their struggles in order to protect the varied lands and races of his series.

I could continue on about the hundreds of other books I’ve read, and about what each of them taught me, but the ones in this list, those are mine. Those are the keys to the soul of my writing, and why I must continue to write, even when I get frustrated with it and want to just give up. Those books, and the inspiration of their memories, are why I write. They inspire me to write something as half as good, all with the hope that I write something that makes at least one person feel the same way these books made and make me feel.

So. What about you? If you love writing as much as I, if you love books as much me, I implore you to tell me what books make you tick. I have many years left on this planet, and I can think of no better companions than books and lovers of books, so recommend me your favorite tales.

Cheers!

Writing Rebellion

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I’m back!!!  I know I’ve been gone for some time, I know you’ve all met me so drastically and I know, despite the fact that I’m blogging for the first time in a long time, I may disappear for a while again, but such is the way of my life these days.  I want to dedicate myself to one thing at a time but I’m nothing if not the perfect Gemini, bouncing around from project to project, book to book, game to game and wife to wife.  Just kidding about the wife! 😉

My hiatus has not been chocked full of procrastination like usual, but I haven’t had much time for much of anything.  I’ve got a new career, that is going swimmingly, but it is salary pay and therefore I work way more than I ever used to.  Then my time off is spent with my family and trying to find an hour of relaxation.

But always at the back of my mind was my muse, coaxing me, “Justin… Justin… let’s play…”.

But I have so many things that I want to do in my free time.  And all involve creativity and imagination.  Whether it involved playing a game, or working on an interesting character idea for the Skyrim Blog, or just reading the hundreds of books that I am currently in the middle of.  However, through all of that not once has writing been an outlet for my creativity.  I have been thinking of several different story themes and plot, still trying to find one that just clicked in my head and said, you need to write this, but writing has lost its original purpose for me.

For too long, writing has been changing from it’s original purpose of allowing me to create and express myself, and it has slowly evolved into something much more base.  It has become little more than a means for me to save my family from the mundane paycheck to paycheck that our lives have become.  For too long, I have pissed and moaned about not being able to give my family the life I never had, that it has allowed my mind and imagination to grow stagnant from resent.  My ideas lack their own sense of purpose.  For too long, my writing has been living and not-living for me.

It is time for a rebellion.

It is time that I start living for my writing.  I remember the first stories I ever started writing, and how I wrote them simply to tell tales.  I will get back to that.  I will write to write.  I will write to let my stories live, and I will work for them.

If any of you find yourself in the same place, then join me.  Join my rebellion.  Tell me how you rebel against the oppression that is life and the inhibitions it chains you with.  Or if you have broken through this stagnation before, give me your tips, challenge me to write something new.  I’m always up for writing a new short story, so challenge me.  Or just leave a comment or a like in support of my rebellion.  Let me know that my war does not go without notice!

Blood Lust

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Here is a small story I did for the the HitRecord.org website.  It didn’t really get any attention on there, but hey maybe you guys will like it!  Along with that, feel free to check out my other tiny/short stories and collaborations over at their site.  My name is LastWord there!

Cheers!

“Again!” she cried.

He glanced at her flushed face. The scarlet hue of her cheeks made her green, lust filled eyes pop at him.  She was really enjoying this.  He turned back to the “man” sitting in front of him.  Her husband was already beaten to a bloody pulp, but still she wanted more.

He almost felt bad for the poor sap.  But then all of her black eyes and bruised cheeks came to the forefront of his memories, the most recent was a set of broken ribs she had been given after the bastard had drunkenly attacked her.  He looked down at his bloody and busted knuckles.

The man deserves this he thought, and his rage rose up once more and turned his normally gentle hands into instruments of pain.

He stalked in on the man, his hands and legs tied to the wooden chair he was propped up in.  As each blow connected with the man’s face and torso, they slammed with a meaty thump, but their noise was nothing to compare with the sounds of ecstasy the woman began crying out behind him.  Glancing over his shoulder, he watched as she ran her hands over breasts and the smell of her arousal splashed in some lust with his anger.  His attack would continue for a long time, until neither she nor her husband could take anymore.

Ink-stained Pages and Button Mashing

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Wow. Two months to the day since I’ve blogged.  I do apologize for my absence.  It’s the same old same old. Work, work, work.  Plus we are trying to decide if it’s time for my son to go to Kindergarten next year or do another round of Pre-K.  He’s really bright, as his teacher called him “out of the box” smart, but he lack certain social skills that would make all day Kindergarten hard for him.  Mix that and playtime and spouse time into the few hours I get each day and it life still remains a struggle.

But that’s not what is important.  What is important is that I’m trying again.

I have two stories out to an acquaintance who is beta reading them for me, in order to give me some constructive feedback (I still don’t plan on doing anything with them right now) and I recently picked up a copy of “Read. Set. Novel!” by the folks at NaNoWriMo! I’m looking forward to finding some free time to try to utilize the book to help me better plan and outline the novel that sings from my soul and cries from the prison of my mind.

Not much admittedly and I could try harder, but my head might literally explode from never slowing down.  But there is one more thing I’m trying to get better at, though I still remain rather unsuccessful. Video games.

If you’ve read in the past, you know that I have a video game problem.  I find it too easy to get swept up in the stories of the many video games I own, and it keeps me from writing my own.  This would be fine if my first idea for writing had panned out.  I had wanted to write for Forgotten Realms or a video game publisher so that I could mix the two interests, but when I actually started a novel back then, Dungeons and Dragons stopped taking unsolicited submissions, and the latter requires a college degree which I foresee no time  to obtain.

So, instead, I’m trying to remain vigilant.  Every time I think of playing a game, I challenge myself to write instead.  Most of the time I fail, but I’m still trying.

It’s what I’ve got for now, so I’ll have to make it do.

What about you guys?  What vices do you have that keep you from writing?  Or what suggestions do you have for me to become stronger and more self-confident in my writing so that I give it more time?  Leave me a comment or just take the time to hit the like button to let me know your support!

Cheers!

The machinisms of Catch-22s

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Sometimes life is a bitter pill.  You make plans, you devise ideas of how things in your life should go, and then the world throws several rusty wrenches into your well oiled machine.  Like all things that machine breaks down and your production line comes to a screeching halt.  This, my friends, has been my life for the last month and a half.

My life truly has become a veritable Catch-22.  My financial situation has forced me to take a second job for the betterment of my families life.  Ergo, I need time to make money, but the writer side of me screams that I need money to make time for writing.  Like one paradoxical chain of frustration, I find myself quickly becoming embittered to far more things than I ever thought myself.

I work two jobs for a total of sixty-five hours a week.  I see my wife and kids for aproximately two hours a day, before collapsing from exhaustion.  For my regular readers, you guys know that I have never gone this long without blogging, and for that I am truly sorry.  I want to do so many things, but the sheer thought of the work and energy that they require binds my hands and tapes my mouth shut like a victim about to be raped by the phalanx of life.

I wanted to do NaNoWriMo again this year.  I had been drafting and planning for weeks, and for the first time in months I felt like my story was going to actually have focus and purpose.  Now I watch my ideas sit in a notebook, growing stagnant like a pool of blood that my time and soul had wrought.

In case my myriad of analogies have failed to make their point, I hate my life.  I see no way to escape this paradox.  I need to write to get myself out of this situation, but my financial responsibilities stop me from making the money I need to support the only possible escape I can foresee.  I don’t hate the people around me, nor their actions, in fact I revel in my twitter acquaintances tweets about their NaNo successes, and a real life friend is actually working on the final read through of the novel  he has been slaving over for at least two years now, and I couldn’t be happier for him, but I feel no joy in life without time to creatively express the words my soul longs to sing.

I thought I could still manage NaNo this year by writing on my breaks and lunch at my full-time job, then I could type them up for an hour a day at home, but even my lunches at my job are consumed by my work.  I really have no idea how to get out of this machine.

I truly apologize for this blog, which as I complete I feel has become little more than a rant, but I wanted to let you guys all know that I had not died and I wanted your suggestions.  How do you starving artists and writers do it?  For those of you with families, how do you find the time and resources to take care of them and still support your creativity?  Any help and ideas will not be turned away.

Lastly, before anybody gets too upset with me for my comments, understand that I do know that I have much to be thankful for, it’s just hard to remain thankful when the weight of everything else keeps pressing down on me.

Thanks to those of you that still support me, and I look forward to your comments.

Reality of violence

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I started working on a new story the other day.  I had read a n article over at Mythic Scribes about how first time authors should stop focusing so much on epic trilogies and start with smaller novels or single stand alone novels.  The article got a lot of heat from frequent readers and bloggers at MS, but it kind of made sense to me.  So, I put my current WIP (which I had recently grown a little burnt out over) away and decided to try something a bit more simple.

I decided to re-explore one of the first theme ideas I had had for my first novel, violence.  Really it’s more about vengeance, but the two go hand in hand.  In order to hit the mark with the story, I wanted to make sure I understand it as well as the message that I want to convey in the story.

So, I thought as most writers usually do, about the beginning.  Where does violence begin?  I was instantly drawn to thoughts of my son and watching him grow up.  He doesn’t play with a lot of action figures or toy guns, but he seems to inherently know what they are supposed to do.  This got me thinking how we grow up with violence, but when does it become real?  At what point do the superheroes stop capturing the bad guys and when do they soldiers pull out their automatic rifles and start taking lives.

I can’t remember when it happened for me, but I remember watching the Power Rangers as a kid (*cough* nerdy teenager *cough*) and then there is only only memories of fictional bloodshed from samurai, sword fighting and martial arts movies.  Maybe it just comes with age or maybe our genes are coded with the memories of violence that our ancestors experienced.  Or maybe we’re programmed subliminally during our day to day lives.

*Shrugs*

What do you guys think?  Where did it start for you?  Share your personal experiences or insights.

Cheers!