“Spirit Run” – Part 11

Rolling along nicely on this St. Patty’s Day, 2014. A lot of green will be worn today. That’s a certainty. Whether it’s out of celebration or out of spite for the bad weather, Clevelanders will be sporting green for this holiday. We haven’t seen much green lately but I’m optimistic that the worst is behind us. But then again, you never know. Best to keep an open mind, perhaps.

I’ve come to the 11th part of this short story, Spirit Run. I’m not going to say the usual, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m this far” type stuff, but rather, it’s about time. Over the hump and moving forward. I’m expecting a few changes around here – specifically this site – in the coming weeks and moving into the end of the month. Here’s keeping that positive outlook all the way through.

And as it turns out, my fiance’ and I have a ton going on: wedding planning, home shopping, a new job for me, and me moving in with a friend. So I’m going to do my best to keep this blog up to speed in the time that I have allotted. And keep both her and I sane in the process! So here we go, ready or not!

In the interim, part 11 of Spirit Run. Thank you to everyone who has given me feedback or left comments already. It is very much appreciated and keeps the fire inside burning brightly.

Enjoy.

Part 11

The Trio was doing well. Their skills as guardians were on full display. Armin’s spear was unmatched, Harda’s arrows unavoidable, and Balphin’s sword unbreakable. The Trio cleared all distractions as their Daughter ran faster. She was at full stride, legs kicking higher.
“Good girl!” shouted Balphin. “Keep going!”
The Daughter did as instructed. Her body was becoming a blur in the light of the plane. Shadows were falling all around – giving up, it seemed. But even so, the Trio did not stop. They persisted in crushing every dark figure that befell their Daughter’s path. But even as fast as she was, she could not avoid what was next.
“Balphin!” cried Harda. “What’s wrong with her?!”
Balphin, who had flown far ahead, turned to see what the matter was. Their Daughter was slowing down, but not of her own volition.
“The ground!” shouted Armin, throwing another spear. “The world is taking her!”
Balphin fled the front and dove back towards her. He could see her feet becoming muddied by the ground she tread upon. And with every step, the dirt became heavier. She slowed to a jog until finally, she was nearly stopped. Balphin flew in and cut the dirt right at the edge of her foot.
“Gah!” he cried. “There’ll be more of that, I’m certain. Keep your eyes on what’s out there. I’ll handle this!”
The other Angels did as they were instructed. The Shadows were becoming less and less, but their task was becoming less important. The Earth was pulling at the Trio’s Daughter, tugging hard and dragging her in. Balphin cut more of the dirty away, his blade never once touching her as he aimed with perfect precision.
She picked up her leg to run but a vine wrapped itself around her ankle. She was pulled to a stop as the vine gripped her tightly. Flames of light burnt the vine but the weed persisted.
“I said…Enough!” cried Balphin and he sliced the weed away. But as he did, another leapt from the Earth and wrapped around the Daughter’s legs and thighs. Then, another snatched her arm. The weed was attacking quicker than Balphin could retaliate.
“Armin! Harda!” he cried. “I need you here!”
Armin and Harda did not hesitate. Armin tightened his wings and boomed back to his comrades. Harda unleashed a flurry of arrows that seared the weeds like fire in a field. Then, he flew down to the others. The Trio hurled volley after volley upon the Earth’s advances. Together, they were beginning to stop the assault. And their Daughter raised her foot once more, eager to run again.
“A few more!” shouted Armin.
The weeds of the Earth retreated as the Daughter restarted her run. She made fast strides, this time avoiding the weeds as they appeared. No longer did she run in a straight line. She dodged the traps as they emerged, jumping over them as they revealed themselves.
“Quick learner,” said Harda.
“Excellent too, by my eyes,” said Armin.
The Trio and Daughter were back to moving at top speed. Complemented by the talents of the Trio, the Daughter was incredibly fast. Her hair, long and gallant, shimmered as she ran. A Shadow attempted to grab it, but Balphin cut its hand before it could do so. Another put its eyes upon her breast, but Harda’s arrows gouged the Demon’s eyes out. And still, another Shadow tried to take her by the feet, throwing false light to distract her, but Armin threw down his shield and covered the farce so she would not see it.
“Good work, gents,” said Harda.
“’Gents’, eh?” mocked Armin. “Never heard that from you. Picking up something new, are we?”
“I’m just trying to enjoy the moment!”
“Well, we’ll all be enjoying the moment much more,” said Balphin. “Look ahead!”
Armin and Harda raised their heads and saw that the light on the horizon was getting bigger. It expanded, giving the impression that it was not far from their grasp. More and more, worldly structures and constructs came into focus. Tall trees, running streams, and small creatures abounded; springing up as if out of thin air. The faces of people returned yet again, calling the Trio and Daughter onward.
“Where is she?” asked Harda. “Can you see?”
“No,” answered Balphin. “I see nothing.”
The Daughter, with the Trio about her, suddenly tripped. She stumbled for an instant and then ran again. But not long into her stride did she stagger once more. Pieces of light began to leap from her body. She was getting smaller, it seemed and the Trio could not help her.
“No!” cried Armin. “Do you see that, lads? There’s still a few storms on the horizon for our girl.”
“There will always be storms, Armin,” said Harda. He shot another Demon down and returned his focus upon the Daughter. “This one is more horrific than any other, wouldn’t you say? Do you see how she is shrinking before our eyes?!”
“Fight for her, my brothers,” said Balphin. “Do not be swayed by what you see. Huddle in close!”
The Trio gathered, wings clapping in close quarters. The Daughter tripped again as the Angels searched for her assailant. Another clap and she stumbled again. The Angels felt powerless for they could not touch her directly. They held close together; desperately trying to catch her newest assailants: other beings of light.
“There! I saw one!” cried Harda. Their bodies were practically impossible to be seen by the Trio. They moved so fast that the only sign they had been there was the mark they left on the Daughter – a chunk of her light taken but not returned. “Did you see him?! Another just now.”
“Yes!” shouted Armin. “Get ready. We’ll take turns. I’ll go first.”
“Agreed!”
Armin turned inwards towards the Daughter. He spoke gently, hands clasped together as he prayed to her. There was no fighting this new threat with the weapons they carried. These other beings of light were like the Daughter, but lacked direction. They would dart in and around the Daughter, causing duress and unsteadiness before leaving as swiftly as they had come. The Angels rotated their watches, one praying while the other two dispatched of the marauding Shadows.

“Spirit Run” – part 10

Still going strong on this story. I’ve made some revisions as necessary, but nothing too crazy. I’ve had my mind on some other projects, but have thankfully been staying on task. That’s the good part. The bad part? Well, I’ve had my mind on other projects. And I’d like to start them sooner than later. That’s the bad part. Until that time comes, more of this story to cometh.

Enjoy.

Two of the Angels ignored Armin. The other, closest to Armin, tilted his head in Armin’s direction. He was darkly-skinned and had long black hair. His eyes, a light blue, were striking to Armin. The Angel didn’t smile; he flapped his wings and nodded.
“Not much for conversation now, are we?” asked Armin. “Come on now, we’ve made it this far. Surely, you must have a sense of humor?”
“Seeing what I have seen,” said the Angel. His voice was deeper than what Armin expected. “It is difficult sometimes, but we maintain.”
“I see…,” said Armin.
“But as I’m sure you’ve discovered, it’s not easy caring for a Daughter.”
“Our Trio has never had the experience,” said Armin. “What’s it like?”
The other Angel’s eyes went wide. He had a look of terror and fright, which made Armin wish he could retract his statement. But then the other Angel smiled.
“When you get to the end, come and see me,” said the Angel. “The hope and the reward are more than justifiable. You will see.”
“I thank you,” said Armin. “That was better news than I expected to hear.”
The other Angel floated high and away from Armin. Balphin and Harda, still at the ready, looked on at Armin with inquiring faces.
“What did he say?” asked Harda.
“He told me eager to see the end of this journey and he’s tired of working with the other two he’s paired with.”
“Is that so?” asked Balphin.
“Ha!” shouted Harda. “Are you sure that wasn’t your own story you just retold?”
Armin smiled. “Lads, you know me too well.”
The Trio shared a laugh as they watched over their Daughter with great intent. The road was blossoming all around the path she was making. Eventually her path crossed with another’s and the area bloomed greater. And then another. And another. More and more were attracted to the garden she had created. Armin, Balphin, and Harda were elated. The journey was not as treacherous as they had presumed.
But then, the howls returned. Armin heard it before any of the others. A loud boom, followed by a vicious hiss swept over the landscape. Daughter stopped where she was and waited. The others did the same. The howls got louder and louder. It was all like it was before. The Trio readied themselves for battle.
“Again, eh?!” said Armin.
“Again, indeed,” said Balphin.
“It’s as I said – bring them to me!” shouted Harda.
Then, the Trio’s Daughter took off running. The Angels clapped their wings and took flight with her. She ran with arms pumping and legs flying high. Orange and gold light poured off of her as she ran. Then the Darkness came. One by one, Shadows flew into the path of the Daughter and the Trio. They were not without form this time. They had faces – twisted, wretched faces. Like skin that was melting away, their gray complexions screamed at the Daughter as she ran.
“Not again!” cried Balphin as he unsheathed his sword. Light exploded as Balphin’s blade struck the enemy. A violent clang shook Balphin, exposing that the Darkness was not without its own set of weapons. Out of its black robe emerged a silver blade, stained with the tears and blood of those whom it had already pierced. Balphin could see the faces of a hundred, maybe more, lined against the blade’s edge. Their pain could felt against Balphin’s ray of light, nearly disarming him. But the mighty Angel pushed back and took another strong swing – slicing the hand of the Shadow.
“Rahh!” screamed the agent of darkness as he dropped his blade.
“Weren’t expecting that, were you?!” shouted Balphin. He wasted no time as he swung again, crushing the Shadow where it stood with his sword.
“Excellent, Balphin!” shouted Harda. “But leave some for the rest of us!”
Harda grabbed another arrow from his quiver and readied his bow. He was ready to make his bow sing. Two more dark specters appeared and Harda shot them down in an instant. Meanwhile, Armin watched the back as their Daughter continued running.
“Nice work, lads!” shouted Armin. “I think you’ve got a few of them scared back here.”
Armin was flying quickly but he could see several Shadows gaining ground. They slithered across the ground, avoiding the Daughter’s trail, but keeping their sunken eyes on the Daughter ahead.
“You’ll never get it, will you?” said Armin with sadness in his voice. He raised his spear as he flew backwards. “You are serving a losing battle, Demons. Regardless, I will show no mercy if you do not cease and desist.”
A singular Shadow snaked out ahead of the pack. It screamed and moaned at Armin, taunting him to throw his spear. Then Armin saw something he did not expect – the blue eyes of the Angel he had previously encountered. Armin was alarmed; he could not throw his spear. But the advancing Shadow would not stop. Its eyes burned from blue to blood red as it closed in on Armin.
“Very well,” said Armin. “No mercy, it shall be.”
Armin threw his spear, skewering the Shadow at the base of its neck. The Demon let out a yell and fell to the ground. The other Shadows did not stop. They rolled over top of the fallen Shadow and continued their pursuit.
“Did we not learn anything from that?” asked Armin. “Did you think that was all I had with me?”
Armin reached behind his back and pulled another spear from his back, light pouring from within.
“So long as I am here, you cannot advance,” said Armin and he hurled another spear in the direction of the Shadows. He hit many, dropping them where they were hit.
“How are we doing?” shouted Armin.
“Most excellent from my vantage point!” shouted Harda. His bow was more than singing – it was chanting a chorus of arrows as each fell upon opponent after opponent.
“Indeed!” exclaimed Balphin. “It’ll take more than this to keep her back!”

Thoughts on “Spirit Run” – part 9

I hope it’s no secret by now that Spirit Run is a story dedicated to the unseen. A place that’s invisible and open to interpretation dependent on the individual. Where he is in life, where he’s going, and where he’s been. And we all get to experience the “invisible” in different ways. For instance, I was reading a Twitter post this morning via National Geographic that said something like this (and I’ll paraphrase): “Science allows us to see what cannot be seen otherwise.”

I would agree with this statement. Science certainly does permit access to a realm that cannot be witnessed by the naked eye. Who knew that every single thing is made up of tiny particles called ‘atoms’? And how else might we learn what lies on the surface of the moon and beyond? The human ability to create, dissect, and analyze the most minute and far places of the universe is really astounding if you think about it. No other creature in the known world can do that – only us.

*pause for effect*

I was fortunate to hear a speech this weekend that covered topics related to human science and discovery. The speaker talked on what the world must have been like when we discovered how the Earth was not the center of the universe. It was our planet that was moving, not the sun. People’s brains must have been turned inside out. And when our atom smashers discovered protons, neutrons, and electrons – well, you get the picture. Scientific ventures continue to unlock more of our universe, but in the 21st century, we know that the Earth rotates the sun and we are made up of atoms. This is common knowledge. These may not seem as exciting to the seasoned scientist, but they are scientific fact all the same. And as we move forward, only the new and the undiscovered will pique our interests as adventurers. That much is also true. In other words, we are delighted for what we know, but we are driven even more to find out what we have yet to understand.

This story is teaching me a lot about this human reality. As much as I want to have a handle on everything I encounter, I am reminded how I cannot get all the answers at once. What’s unseen is intriguing enough though, so I do what I can to unveil those yet-to-be-revealed parts of my life. But first, I must simply be open to the idea of not knowing. In that way, I can find what it is I am looking for. Philosophical? Sure, it absolutely is, but it’s also a truth, I feel. Spirit Run‘s latest section, 9, delves deeper into this concept. My characters might have thought they were guarding a male spirit, a “Son”, but in reality, it was a “Daughter” the whole time. Their willingness to see through the journey made that revelation possible though; a revelation that’s amazing to them. I feel like science and faith find themselves in the same boat on that one. Sometimes our pursuits of one thing lead to the discovery of another. And it happens when we least expect it.

And I’ll be honest, I like having a good surprise in my story too.

“Spirit Run” – part 9

This is getting easier. Not easy in the sense of “wow, I’m so good at this”, but easy in the sense of “hey, it’s easier sharing what I’ve done.” That’s a good step in the right direction.

I’ve been a little distracted recently with work changes, work orders, and life in general, but balancing it all is an act I’m willing to participate in fully. I’m not a fan of the term, “I’m too busy” because if we’re all honest with ourselves – we make time for the things that matter to us.
Therefore, my writing matters to me.
So I make time for it.
End of story (pardon the pun).

With that in mind, I’ve come to part 9 of this venture, Spirit Run. All sections will be uploaded on the site today, but here’s the section as a standalone. Enjoy.

“There’s our boy,” said Balphin.
The Trio took flight in the direction of the light. When they arrived, they could see that the orb was much larger than what they remembered. It radiated faintly, but its sheer size had grown to that of the Angels, if not bigger. The Trio stopped a few widths from the ball of light. Its soft radiance nearly brought the three of them to tears.
“We knew you’d be back,” said Harda. “Sorry we took so long getting back here. It wasn’t easy, I promise you that.”
“Indeed,” said Armin. “Well, let’s not waste any time, eh? We didn’t come all this way just to look at him. Let’s get back to work.”
“Agreed.”
The Trio set themselves back to flying all about the ball of light. They dove in and around the orb – whispering and speaking into it. Gradually, and with every word, faces began to take shape. The orb lit up at every pass of the Trio, growing in size and gaining strength. Balphin observed tiny specks of darkness resonating near its core. It reminded him of the Rogue; a black center burning with nothingness, desperately needing to be filled by anything it could find.
“Do you see those wounds, brothers?” asked Balphin, pointing to the dark places on the orb. “Attack them if you can. Remember again why we are here, my brothers.”
The Angels flew extra close to the dark spots, speaking loudly and with great intent.
Do not be afraid….
Know that I am here….
I am for you….
The black portions on the orb began to close, progressively disappearing from sight. As with times before, the orb crackled with new life. The Angels knew that another transformation was on the brink.
“Almost there,” said Harda.
The orb emitted streaks of golden lightning as it fashioned itself into a new shape. The Angels rescinded their words, waiting for the orb to take form again. Light bent and rippled as the orb stretched itself into two legs, two arms, and a head. The Newborn was returning once more.
“Ha!” shouted Armin. “We’ll make it just yet.”
The Angels rejoiced with one another as the Newborn stood before them. It was fully grown, a beacon of golden energy. But the Newborn was not done just yet. It changed colors from gold to an orange hue and its face and body further morphed into something new.
“What’s this now?” asked Armin.
The Newborn’s body shrunk somewhat. Its torso pinched at the center as its hips curved into a new position. Its chest curved slightly outwards and its head, devoid of any hair, sprinkled long strings of orange and gold light down its back. Even the face changed, light bending into a nose, mouth, and eyes – eyes that opened to reveal a brilliant gold underneath the lids. The Angels were astonished; they descended on all sides of the Newborn, peering from all angles.
“By the saints…,” said Balphin. “It’s a Daughter.”
Harda and Armin were in equal shock. The Newborn was no more. It had become something completely different – beautiful, flawless, and somehow mysterious. Every aspect of her was stunning, the Trio could not break their gazes. And for a moment, the Angels were jealous of her lovely form, aware that they themselves would never be as wondrous.
“Gorgeous…,” said Harda. “Absolutely gorgeous.”
“Like no other,” said Armin. “A Daughter – how about that, lads? Someone must think us to be very capable to have granted us with a Daughter!”
“I agree,” said Balphin. “Sons are one matter, but Daughters are another entirely. Take heart, brothers. This road will be as dangerous as it is marvelous.”
Balphin’s words were true – a Daughter’s path was perilous. She was not frailer or weaker than a Son, but her journey would be filled with separate hardships. The Angels, having never defended a Daughter, flapped their wings in unison. And then waited on what she might do next. She lifted her right foot and stepped forward. The gray mist divided, unable to touch her. The Daughter took another step and the mist parted again. She was walking faster and the Angels flew with her in tandem.
“Go, my dear,” said Harda. “Do not stop from here. You’re almost there.”
The mist was receding with every step, the path before them brightening. The Trio could see the ground again, but it was no longer transparent as it had been. There were browns and greens like, the surface of Earth. Small flowers and plants sprouted up as the mist ran from the Daughter’s feet. And a bright tunnel illuminated itself on the horizon.
“Look at that one, Harda,” said Balphin. “I can’t say that I’ve seen those kinds of flowers before. Have you?”
“No, I can’t say that I have. How beautiful. She’s got a gift, this one.”
“It’s why the Rogue was after her,” said Armin. “There will be more like that one, too.”
Again, Armin’s words served as a warning of things to come. More forms came into view from all around, each of them walking towards the horizon. The Trio could see these newcomers getting closer to the Daughter so each of them prepped for a fight.
“I’m ready this time,” said Harda. “I’ll crush anything that gets too close.” Harda could feel his skin rippling underneath. Balphin kept his sword at a half sheath while Armin flew on the Daughter’s left, shield up and shining. The Trio watched as more Sons and Daughters gathered together, emerging softly into view like they were stepping out from under a shadow. They walked in unison with one another; the fog that had separated them faded slowly and the longer they stayed on the trail, the more their individual paths became visible. One such Daughter emerged as if out of thin air, her Angelic Trio flying close to Armin and the others.
“Well then,” said Armin. “It’s pleasant joining up with you. Heard from anyone else lately?”

Talents and gifts we wish we had

Short break from the story writing here. A few more thoughts I’ve had since I’m almost through with Spirit Run. Reflecting on the stories I’ve written has really opened up some good observations, I feel. Especially with the type of week I’ve had.

I believe every person has a talent. Yes, each and every one of us has a gift of some kind. That sounds like some cheesy Hallmark card, but it’s the truth. The usual list of suspects come to mind – singing, dancing, sports, etc. You know, the ones that get glorified in social media and late night television. There are other, “less glamorous” talents though too; just as important and in some ways, even more important: leading, teaching, mentoring, organizing, building, puzzle-solving, navigating, etc. So you see, there are plenty of talents out there. I’m sure you have one. But even so, and despite the talent you’ve been given, we still find time to covet someone else’s gift. Somewhere there’s a skill, an ability, or even a trait that we wish we had. We look at this person’s gift and we covet it greatly. We want it for our own. Ever feel that way? Oh, I’m sure you have.

Mine is drawing.

I royally suck at drawing. Not just a mediocre, average kind of sucking – I’m talking the royal kind. Granted, I can trace things. I’m pretty good at tracing objects. So long as I’m provided a piece of paper lying over top of the intended image, I’m fine. Oh, and I have to be able to see through that paper clearly too. Then I’m good as gold. But stick me with a pencil and paper and ask me to come up with an original piece of work and I’m sunk. It’s just not gonna happen. I can see the picture in my head, but the translation I create on paper is so heavily filtered that it looks like a tank rolled through a war zone.

I recall being asked to make a self portrait in the 11th grade. I thought it was an opportunity to finally hone my skills and convince myself that I had some artistic talent. Well, what did happen was something resembling microwaved jello. Ugh. Was I really that bad?

Yes. Yes, I was.

And still am to this day. There are times where I have isolated moments of triumph though. A friend of mine asked me to draw a stick figure on his paper once. I accomplished that feat quite nicely from what I remember. Beyond that? Well, I haven’t had much success. So drawing is my kryptonite. The one thing I will probably never be able to do, but covet all the same. And I hate that.

It’s the great tragedy of my generation. With so many options on our plate, we think we ought to have all of the talents out there. And if we aren’t keeping up with the person next to us, then we ought to be trying harder. But I would say otherwise – along with so many others, I’m sure. Why waste time trying to be a banker when you love to cook? Why try to be a guidance counselor when you hate hearing other people’s problems? And why try to draw your work when you’re made to write it? No one person can do it all.

As a writer, I need others to help get ideas out. I will need those who are gifted in editing, gifted in publishing, gifted in teaching, and so on. And while that’s going on, I know other people will require my talents to help get their own ideas out. Or at least make sense of those ideas by putting them into words; words they couldn’t come up if they tried to do it themselves. See how that works? It’s a great feeling when you come to that realization – the epiphany that your gifts can and will be used to their utmost capacity if you’ll allow for it to happen.

But first, you have to hone the gift that’s yours. Only then will you find yourself not coveting everyone else’s, wondering if what you’re doing is right or not. That’s a road to real satisfaction. Cheesy Hallmark card and all.

Thoughts on “Spirit Run” – halfway home

Writing this story has taken a lot out of me. And in other regards, it hasn’t. When you work tirelessly at your job, you may find yourself using the expression “time just flew by”. And when you stop what you’re doing, you’re amazed at what you’ve done and amazed at the time it took to do it. That’s how it’s felt with this story. I would open up my computer, plug into a Word document, and away I’d go. It was a very natural process. One that I could literally sit for hours and not step away from or be distracted by something else. The words wrote themselves and I was merely a conduit for their journey from my mind to my computer mainframe.

That’s a great feeling when you’re a writer, but it can also drain you. Before I sit down to write something, I usually develop some plan of attack. Be it reviewing my notes from days prior, continuing right where I left off, or just saying a simple prayer – I have to have an idea of what I’m going to do. But when the idea takes flight and time passes without warning, I come to the end of a story feeling like I’ve just built a house. From scratch. Writing can be an exhaustive process if you aren’t taking time to take a breather. I’ve been rather ruthless in my pursuit to write a new story every 30 days for the past 6 months and by all accounts, that hard work is beginning to pay off. I have plenty to talk about and I have plenty to share. But if I’m honest with myself, I’m also worn out. Not from procrastination, but from massive amounts of idea dumping. As I said before, it’s a good feeling to just let the story “write itself”, but I have to be a willing participant in that process. I still have to take the time to make that happen. And that takes lots and lots of time. Time that literally “flies by” if I’m not aware of it – all the while requesting my utmost attention and focus for the duration.

This story, along with so many others, took time. As will any other story I decide to undertake and share with others. I cringe when I think about the overwhelming scale of these projects, but still, I knowingly accept them with open arms. Just need a little faith to keep things in perspective. And if I may use a potentially poor transition piece here – faith has been a huge part of this story, Spirit Run. When you paint a picture of angels coming to save the soul of a human being – such as what’s happening in this section – you are indeed asking for a little help yourself.

Halfway through this story though. And halfway into the next one, I’m sure.

“Spirit Run” – part 8

Halfway home on this story. I did a little bit of editing on this section, but not too much. I figure that if I keep chopping up what I started with, I’ll wind up with something that wasn’t the original vision. Hey, it can happen. The story itself has remained unchanged, but there are definitely still areas for improvement.

Enjoy.

“Yes,” said Armin. “I can feel the ground pulling me downward. It’s faint but yes… I can feel it.”
“So what of our friend?” asked Harda. Balphin and Armin flapped their wings, looking down upon the devastation.
“I am uncertain on that question,” said Balphin. “Armin? What do you say?”
“He’s in there somewhere,” said Armin. “Don’t forget that.”
“It’s hard to believe so,” said Balphin. “When you look at what’s left.”
“Yes,” said Harda. “It’s difficult to imagine how hard he has strayed.”
The Trio floated above the chaos, flapping their wings to stay adrift. The cloud swirled slowly but did not move.
“It reminds me of the stars,” said Armin. “Strange as that may sound. Every last one of them in perfect order.”
“I agree,” said Balphin. “An astute observation.”
“And the wall…,” said Harda. “It’s gone forever, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” said Armin. Balphin and Harda could feel Armin’s heart break with every word. “It’s impossible to rebuild the wall from here on out. Even the Dark will have access now.”
Harda and Balphin nodded in agreement. It was true – the Shadows had nothing to stand in their way. There were no barriers to keep them at bay. No immense shield to cover them; only a swirling mass of darkness was left in the wake of Newborn’s acceptance of the Dark. The Trio was discouraged, but they did not leave. Instead, they waited. They waited for the ball of light, the golden orb, or the Newborn to return. Hopeful that it would reappear – regardless of the form it took – sooner than later.
“It’s so quiet now…,” said Harda. Ever the compassionate one, Harda’s emotions were amplified in this new space.
“It will remain so until he returns,” said Balphin, reassuring the group.
“Yes. I suppose you’re right.”
The Angels circled, maintaining a healthy distance from the apocalyptic scene below. The plane below the Newborn, once perceivable to them all, was concealed by the thick veil of smoke. The Trio surveyed all other vantages points. Clouds of thick smog covered the landscape. If life had been here, there were no signs of it anymore. But Harda, with eyes wide and scanning the ground, caught glimpse of something among the haze.
“Did you see that just now?!” he said. “Did you see it?”
“Where?” asked Armin.
A tiny flicker of light burst in the center of the darkness.
“Right there! You must have seen that!”
“I see nothing!” answered Balphin, straining his eyes to see.
“It was there, I tell you!” cried Harda.
Light glowed dimly, pulsating at the epicenter.
“Yes!” exclaimed Armin. “I see it now!”
“As do I!” shouted Balphin.
“Quick!” cried Armin. “Let’s get down there. Help it!”
The Trio traveled down into the Darkness. The swell of fog was enormous; larger and denser than what the Angels had anticipated. The distance between the Angels and the flicker of light felt miles away – increasing in depth as they dived down. Pillars of smoke rose up as they flew towards their target. Each Angel made certain to dodge and avoid every encounter as best he could.
“Careful, lads,” said Armin. “Don’t let anything get a good hold of you now.”
A sharp stack of smog jutted up from below, barely missing one of Balphin’s wings. The Angel dodged the attack and rolled to his side. Harda, who was close by, pulled from his quiver and shot at the dark cloud. His arrow of light ripped through the smog, a line of light left in its wake.
“Much thanks,” shouted Balphin. Harda nodded back.
“Don’t forget,” said Harda. “You have that sword for a reason.”
Balphin did not forget. He pulled the sword from its sheath and cut the next line of clouds that stood in his path.
“Obliged again, brother,” said Balphin. Apart from Harda and Balphin, Armin was avoiding every whip of the Darkness. His shield defended him while his spear cut through the smoke with ease.
“Almost there, I’d say!” shouted Armin. He was further ahead than the others, staring down the tiny twinkle of light off in the distance.
“Don’t get distracted,” said Balphin, cutting another hefty chunk of fog away. “Just get there.” The dark cloud tensed up as if it were alive. Then it made one final charge, a wave of gray mist rising up on the plane, 100 times higher than the Angels.
“Well then,” said Armin. His eyes followed the wave to the top of its crest. “We must be really close.”
The blanket of Darkness held for but a moment; then started to crash down towards Armin and the others. A face, appeared at the base of the wave – flashing in and out as it rolled towards the Trio. It had no eyes, only a gaping mouth and dark centers where its eyes should have been. A voice shook the horizon as Armin braced himself.
“Very well,” said Armin, sizing up his attacker. He tightened his grip on his spear and raised his shield. “You clearly have forgotten who you’re dealing with here.”
“Ready when you are, brother,” said Harda, eagerly charging with Balphin towards Armin.
“Always.”
The Trio then separated; Balphin flying towards the base of the wave, Harda aimed at the middle, and Armin soaring above. Harda unleased a flurry of arrows upon the center of the Darkness. Bright light ripped through, doing more than poking holes – the arrows punctured the wave with craters that were big enough for a hundred Angels to pass through. At the base, Balphin took his sword and sliced across the bottom. A golden tear burned through, severing the wave in half. And Armin, flying higher than the wave itself, stared down at the cloud, which had diminished in size. The black curtain withered like a dying flower, crying out as if it were in pain. The face inside had shrunk, falling in on itself.
“Enough, beast!” shouted Armin. “We’re taking him back!”
Armin raised his spear and dove head on towards the face of darkness. With one forceful strike, he tore through the center, burning the dark curtain in half. A vicious cry echoed across the plane. And the Shadow retreated into the black below. The Darkness subdued, the Trio could see their orb again; it was resting quietly in the distance, blinking softly as though beckoning the protectors back to itself.

Observations from “Spirit Run” – part 7

Some of the “good stuff” coming at the reader in this section. We all love a little action, right? Plenty of the usual things you’d expect in action sequences here too: fighting, turmoil, conflict, etc. It’s the kind of things you’d see in the latest Expendables movie, I figure. Minus Arnold, Sylvester, and a few others. As a reader, it’s easy. You get to sit back and enjoy the show. As for the one writing those sections, it can be a maddening process.

I can never determine which is more difficult: writing action sequences or writing a compelling dialogue exchange. I know folks who enjoy action over dialogue any day of the week. But I am also aware of those who prefer an intriguing account of words pressed back and forth. It’s all a matter of preference, I say. But my job as a writer is not to worry about this preference. My job is to make a story worth telling. Whether it’s good action or good dialogue can be irrelevant. It’s all about how you present the concept.

Movies have an advantage as it applies to action. You, the audience, can experience the action firsthand. You don’t need to imagine what’s happening. You have a clear picture in front of your face. There’s no need to debate what you see with the person sitting next to you. But when you’re writing an action sequence, the interpretation that you, the author, provides to the reader can vary greatly. The words on paper (or on your Nook or Kindle) don’t change, but the image inside a person’s head can. I find this to be a difficult balance as a writer. For instance, I find myself wanting to deliberately open up my brain and plaster the picture of what’s happening on paper. And what’s more, I want everyone who reads that part to understand fully what I’m portraying. Tricky thing to do and impossible too. Specifically the whole brain on paper thing – not realistic.

Once again, this is something I can’t worry about as a storyteller. My job is to make a story worth telling. And then tell it, of course. But within that job description there is some fine print that says “don’t try to control what the reader is seeing.” Trust me, it’s in there. The most I can do is paint a picture of the truth I see and let the observer make sense of what he sees for himself. This is a difficult task but it’s extremely freeing when you come to that conclusion. Especially when you are writing a story about a place – aka the spiritual realm – that so many people imagine in separate ways.

It’s why I figured this part was more of an “observation” than a thought. There’s some new imagery going on in part 7, which I hope hits on all the right cylinders, but I don’t want to waste time explaining it in these posts too heavily. I’d rather the reader be taken under by what’s happening and become immersed in an unknown territory of story. That sounds far more enjoyable than being spoon fed everything. Perhaps on a later post I’ll touch on each of those items; go in depth on what I was picturing in my head, but for now, I’m more interested in seeing how one might react to what’s been presented. Not what my agenda may or may not be.

“Spirit Run” – part 7

They say that seven is a magic number. A lucky number – orr at least a very significant number throughout history.

1. Mickey Mantle was number seven. He was a pretty darned good ballplayer.
2. 7Up is a well-known drink. As are Seven-Elevens. Only they aren’t drinks.
3. James Bond is 007. Nuff said there.
4. Major books series tend to go for seven volumes; even if they end up being 8 movies. Harry Potter, anyone?
5. It’s feared by all other numbers – you know, why was 10 afraid of 7? Because 7, 8, 9. Read it aloud if it’s having difficulty getting it.
6. There are seven days in a week.
7. And fianlly, God created the heavens, Earth, and all other creatures in six days. Then he rested on the seventh. That’s about as big as it gets when it comes to number significance – not counting any mathematical jargon that I’m just not feeling up to typing.

So seven has some real significance. That’s the good news. As for my part 7 in Spirit Run, it’s neither lucky nor overly significant. That’s still good news but not great either. It’s really just part 7. That’s it. So I hope you enjoyed this little lesson on the number seven. You’re very welcome.

On a more serious note, this next section is continuing on from where the Shadows are attacking. I’ll upload this portion into the main Spirit Run hub on the home page so it flows with the previous posts.

Thanks to all who have given feedback already. It is much appreciated. This work has been butchered and broken up as I go onward so the more the merrier.

Enjoy.

Armin’s body poured out light on both sides. A massive spear formed in his left hand, a shield on his right – ready for battle. He flapped his right wing, deflecting the Shadow momentarily as he prepped himself for the attack. The Shadow appeared to be phased by the ricochet but it returned quickly – this time moving faster than before. Armin raised his shield – a golden crucifix, glowing in radiant light – blocked the Shadow’s advanced play. But it did not stop there; the Shadow wrapped itself over top of the shield, attempting to consume Armin from the top down. Armin ducked and plunged his spear forward, gouging the Shadow at its centermost point. The Shadow cried and retreated quickly, its tentacle arms losing ground in the distance.
“Not yet is what I said! And it’s not yet, is it?!”
Harda, also exposed in the darkness, burned with light as a bow took shape over his shoulder. A quiver, full of golden arrows, shimmered on his backside. He reached for one, just beyond his white wings, and drew back to fire. When he released, the arrow – made of light – struck the black mist faster than the eye could follow, slicing the Shadow in half. The trajectory of his shot shimmered from the tips of his fingers to the point of contact. Another foul scream burst forth and the Shadow retreated again.
“Ha!” shouted Armin. “I was wondering when they’d finally make a run at us!” The Angel plunged his spear against the darkness over and over again, each time pushing the Shadow back even further. Harda flew overhead with ease, blazing the enemy with his well-timed arrows while Armin rammed his shield against anything in his vicinity.
“When we said, ‘let them come’, they must have been listening!” shouted Harda. His golden arrows left trails of light all about the Trio like, a storm of gold and white filling the sphere inside the barrier. His bowstring sung with every pull and release and the Shadow appeared to be losing ground.
Balphin looked up at his brethren. Darkness was sweeping around on every side. The barriers that had once covered the runners were crumbling everywhere, the orbs and Newborns consumed by black mist. Balphin could sense their own barrier reaching its limit. He slashed his sword one more time, cutting the hands of darkness that tried to reach the Newborn.
“As my brother just decreed,” said Balphin, pulling back on the hilt. “Not yet!” The mighty Balphin hammered the darkness as it swirled around the Newborn; his angelic brethren holding off their enemies above. The battles grew in ferocity – Armin’s head shined and a helmet appeared upon him. Harda’s arm became encased with light, a protective cover shaping on his forearm. And Balphin’s body glowed till a breastplate fully formed upon his torso. The Shadow dug deeper, disregarding the Trio’s defenses.
The Newborn, meanwhile, continued its brisk walk without any regard for what was transpiring. He moved slowly with arms swaying at his side. The noise of swords swinging, arrows flying, and spears piercing did nothing to affect his movement. Chaos was everywhere yet he soldiered onward; oblivious to the war going on around him. A shower of arrows covered the ground in front of the Newborn and a sword, as big as the Newborn itself, slammed the ground next to him. Still, the Newborn was inattentive as the battle ensued.
“Balphin!” shouted Harda. “Watch your back. More coming for you.” Balphin reacted swiftly. He swooped around the Newborn and cut the lurking hands of the Shadow.
“Thanks, old friend,” shouted Balphin. “Still as quick on my toes ever, aren’t I?”
“Good, they are,” said Armin. “But the worst is yet to come.”
“Agreed,” said Balphin.
Armin must have been heard by the darkness; for it rescinded its assault and disappeared.
“Interesting…,” said Harda, hand ready at the bow. His wings flapped gently, the sound like a single raindrop on the surface of water. There was utter silence everywhere, but the Trio stayed on guard.
“It’s still here…,” said Armin. “It’s here but we can’t see it.”
“Where? Where is it?”
The Trio had not changed; their bodies glowed and their physical forms remained. Balphin and the others searched the entirety of the space, but could find nothing.
“Show yourself!” cried Balphin. His broadsword glistened in the aura of the Newborn, but the Shadow did not appear. All was still until the Newborn stopped moving forward. “What’s this?”
The Newborn had halted; arms at its side and legs together. Its head turned left, then right, and then up. Nothing moved, not even the Trio as they watched. Armin and Harda hovered, their wings stretching across the space above. Armin tightened his grip on his spear and Harda pulled the bowstring tighter. But there was nothing. No sound or stir in the abyss. Then the plane beneath the Newborn started to shake violently. The barrier shook and a small light formed under the Newborn’s feet.
“Balphin!” shouted Harda. Armin and Harda descended with haste but it was too late. The barrier cracked on all sides. A deafening scream overtook the Trio and a whirlwind of dark energy flooded the once concealed fortress. A gray cloud formed all about the Newborn, circling and rising like a tornado. Balphin was swept towards the Newborn uncontrollably, sucked in by the force.
“Get out of there!” shouted Armin. Balphin struggled to gain ground, his platinum hair flailed wildly towards the black hole that had formed. Then he sheathed his sword and leapt from the Newborn.
“What did we do?” asked Harda. “Did we miss anything? Didn’t we guard it well enough?”
“No,” said Armin. “We did all that we could. Remember, this was not our burden. This must have come from within.”
The cloud exploded, blinding the Angels and knocking them backwards. Light bounced in all directions, searching for a place to land. The Trio was separated as a cloud settled upon the area where the Newborn had been. A filthy haze formed all through the plane. The Newborn, once burning bright, was nowhere to be seen.
“No…,” said Balphin. “They were… they were too much….”
“Indeed,” said Armin. “The temptations were too heavy. What now?” The Trio relinquished their weapons and returned to their posts. High above the debris, they flapped their wings in earnest defeat, but to keep themselves aloft. Gravity, which had all but not existed till now, took hold of the Trio.
I honestly…maybe this time…, thought Harda. The words escaped from his mind like a soft breeze and gently grazed the ear of Armin.
“What was that?” asked Armin, unable to hear Harda clearly.
“I was just thinking,” said Harda, his head hung low. “Could you not hear me clearly?”
“Just faintly,” said Armin. “It’s happening, isn’t it?”
“We’re between planes now,” explained Balphin. “We’ll have to use our voices more frequently from here on out. Light won’t communicate as effectively as it once did.”
“You are right,” said Harda, head perking up. “That also means that we are further along than we thought.”

Editing … or Thoughts on “Spirit Run” – part 6

Stories are best understood when they are read straight through. No interruptions. In a perfect world, that’d be the way to do it. Even if the book is 1,000 pages, it would do a person good to start reading and then finish what he is reading in the same sitting. Or at the very least, within a short time frame. But hey, I’m sure that doesn’t happen very often. I, for one, can’t sit and read for more than 15 minutes. If I’m thoroughly engaged, then yeah, I’ll stretch that time limit. It’s not ADD, it’s just a lack of interest. Or lack of patience. Or I’ll remember that I have other things to do like, run an errand or something. But if the story is good enough or if my mind is clear, I’ll stall a while. I’ll wait until I get to a good stopping point. There’s always that point in the story where I, the reader, can take a break.

I find my editing process to be like that more often than not. I’ll look for those breathing points, taking 15 minutes to reread certain sections rather than read all the way through. This is ideal if all I’m doing is reading, but I’m not. I’m changing things too. And that’s a slippery slope if you’re going over your work with a fine-toothed comb.

It’s better to do a thorough read of your work when you’re editing. This is of utmost importance. Selecting pieces and parts of a story as you go along can be harmful. Just as much as a reader doesn’t start in the middle of a new book, neither should a writer when editing his work. The times when I’ve returned to my work and just “picked a random spot” have been the most frustrating for me as a writer. I find myself being disillusioned by the part I’m revising, angry that the tone or feel just isn’t living up to my expectations.

That doesn’t sound right.
That doesn’t feel right.
That doesn’t fit with that.

This can be dangerous for a writer. Unless you’re catching the emotions and thoughts from prior sections, you may feel like your work – as a stand alone – is missing something. But don’t freak out. It is missing something. What it’s missing is the rest of the story. The feelings, the added conflict – everything that makes up the entirety of what you’ve crafted. If you need another analogy, think of it this way: architects and builders don’t build the roof before the foundation. They begin with the foundation, aka the beginning, and work from there. The same should be the case with revising and editing. Once you’ve done a few reads, you’ll find that your brain will recognize those sections where you could do something different. Or you could say something better. It’ll never be altogether perfect, but you can certainly get to a relative state of peace so long as you make the effort to understand as much about your work as possible. Then, you can give it over to another set of eyes if you wish.

This is something I’ve been working on as I go through this story. Where, when, and how to do effective editing. I feel like reading through my entire work can be overkill but it’s also necessary. Otherwise, I may run the risk of changing too much out of context. A delicate balance, but once again, a necessary evil. And it’s definitely an evil to any person who can be as impatient as I can be.