#12Months12Books – April: “Spirit, Run”

This month has been rough. I’ll just throw it out there. I’m officially four months in and this #12Months12Books thing isn’t getting any easier. However, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to re-release this novella, Spirit, Run for the month of April. So here we go.

A little about Spirit, Run, I wrote this story about a year ago and shared the majority of it on my blog. I’d say this was one of my first attempts to do something that wasn’t a full-scale novel. The entire thing felt like a contained story, one that could be told in fewer words than a big, overarching tale. I liked the concept and away I went with it. Ironic considering how appropriate I feel the title has become for what I did with it: run. 

Originally, Spirit, Run was just Spirit Run (hopefully you caught the change there). There was no emphasis added; no comma. I know it may seem ridiculous, but that added punctuation made all the difference. It turned the title into a command. As if the spirit is being ordered to run. That’s what I liked about changing the title. Rather than sounding like a linear tale, one that followed a specific track, it was now left with a greater deal of freedom.

The main character, a spirit racing toward its human vessel, is commanded to run for its target. And it does so under the guidance of three angels; a trio of protectors battling on the soul’s behalf. However, they are unable to interact directly with the one whom they are defending. A real challenge considering the types of opponents they find themselves up against. As for what (or who) they end up fighting against, I’ll leave that up to the reader to find out.

Spirit, Run will be available on Kindle Friday, April 24.

Hope you enjoy.

 

Thoughts on “Spirit Run” – Part 12

Establishing the proper setting for a story can be maddening. At least for me it can be that way. I’m the type of character-creationist that loves to start an idea with the character first. In other words, I look at a person or persons and wonder how I might be able to tell their story effectively. Or in a completely new way. The setting – where the story will take place – becomes an afterthought. Is that a bad thing? Well, it most certainly can be. Let me explain….

For example, did George Lucas anticipate the story of Luke Skywalker taking place in the middle ages? Probably not. And was Tolkien conjuring ways that Frodo Baggins could drop the One Ring in the fiery pits of planet Mars? No, probably not either (but could you imagine that?!). Sure, both stories could have been told in alternate time periods – if we’re honest about that – but chances are, each creator had a firm stance as to what particular place in time their characters would reside. Spaceships and high tech gadgets for Lucas; swords and shields for Tolkien’s universe. And with the setting established, the rest of the story can fall in line, especially the characters.

As for me? I don’t normally know what time period I want my characters to jump around in. I can craft a father estranged from his son, a woman seeking her dead daughter’s killer, or two brothers playing a game with one another, but when it comes time to pick a setting, I’m at a loss. Ugh. So how do I choose what to use? It’d be nice to have a world readily established so I don’t have to worry about it. But I don’t. And the process can be maddening.

I say all this because my story, Spirit Run, dances between two very different settings. On one hand, there’s the spiritual realm – light, bright colors, and strange beings like creeping shadows and demon-like creatures. But now, I’ve reached a point in the story where my characters are crossing over to the physical realm – so there’s streets, trees, and other Earthly things that the reader can familiarize with. Describing the physical plane is easier, but what time period should it be in? The simple answer would be 2014. It’s current and it’s modern. But one part of me says to not do the obvious. Leave it up to interpretation, perhaps?

Well, I guess we will see where my mind and heart go on that one. Here’s to having clear vision on setting.

“Spirit Run” – part 12 … and a tiny recap

Part 12 here today. It’s Friday so that means it’s a good day to make a post, I figure. This week has been a busy one (what’s new, right?) but it’s been an extremely life-giving week in many respects. Keeping up with this blog is as good a test as any in my tiny world, but it’s a test I look forward to completing daily. So here we go.

To catch anyone up on this story – who may be checking this out for the first time – Spirit Run is a short story I’ve been dabbling with over the past couple months. It’s about three angels who have been tasked with guarding a spark of life as it runs towards its human vessel. At first, the angelic trio hovers high above, watching over, but eventually they are called to action. They begin fighting off creeping shadows, dark spirits, and even other rogue sparks that may be after the little ball of light – who isn’t so little anymore.

Here’s a recap of what’s happened thus far:

– The Trio encountered a Rogue spark, forming a barrier to protect their own.
– The spark grew in size, until at last it turned into a “Newborn”; a human-like being of pure light
– Shadows came after the Newborn as it ran along, until at last it became too much and the Newborn literally “exploded” into what I can best describe as a galaxy of floating debris.
– The Trio fought through the aftermath to find their ball of light damaged, but with some perseverance that involved attacking the wounded areas of the spirit, the ball got to rolling again.
– After that, the ball starting growing until it transformed yet again; only this time the form it took was that of a Daughter, shocking the Trio as they were not expecting their spark to be a girl.
– Running at full steam again, the Daughter has been getting attacked by everything – the ground beneath her, more rogue beings running faster than the Trio can see, and the ever-present Shadows. With so much happening, the Trio is overwhelmed and forced to ask for some help….

…which leads us into Part 12.

“They just won’t quit!” shouted Harda.
Harda turned and shot down three Shadows to his left. Evert visible enemy was decreasing in number, but still, the Daughter struggled to keep running. Another flash of light and Armin saw one of the intruders for the first time. It was a Son. He was burning with blue, purple, and red. The blue side of his body reflected off of the Daughter while the purple and red illuminated the other. This type of deception was strong. The blue and gold were alluring to her, but it concealed the more intense red and purple colors of his underbelly. Armin wanted to plunge his spear into the invading Son, but he was too slow. The Son was gone as quickly as he had come.
“Ah!” cried Armin. “Some of this is working, but not enough. We’re still too slow.”
“Armin, were you not one who said to not lose heart?” asked Harda. “Were you not the one who asked the most of us – the one who wanted this journey to begin as soon as we were able? Were you not the one who asked us to hold our ground against the Darkness?!”
Armin did not reply. He looked at Harda with sympathetic eyes, realizing the error of his own speech. He clasped his hands together again and started to pray, speaking quickly and earnestly into the Daughter’s ear. Her head surged upward as Armin’s prayers wrapped her like a warm blanket. She charged ahead, gaining ground and size again. The resurgence gave life back to the Trio but the group was fast becoming overwhelmed. Shadows attacked from every angle, the ground rose up to claim the Daughter, and the light on the horizon was no closer than it had been before. Hope was distancing itself, it seemed. The journey would be over if the Trio could not do something drastic. Sensing the impending danger, Balphin and Harda withdrew their defense and surrounded the Daughter with their wings. The Trio turned every focus inward, enveloping the Daughter inside of their bodies with a fortress made from their own bodies. Together, they prayed over her, speaking words in quick phrases but not in unison. Their speech sounded like a chorus of bells, drowning out the mayhem outside the barrier. The Shadows clawed at their backs, raking with their hands and weapons, spilling out angelic blood onto the path. The blood sparkled as it touched the ground, bringing up new life before it was strangled by a weed or another Shadow. The Trio was in pain but they did not cry out; one sign of weakness and their enemies would take advantage.
Then, something radical happened. Another being of light emerged, a Son, running close to the Daughter. He was brimming with beautiful colors, radiating vibrantly with a renewed energy that the Angels had prayed for. His face smiled as he came up alongside the Daughter. The Trio unlocked their wings, opening a pathway for the peaceful intruder. This one had not come to harm her, it had come to help her.
“Can it be?” shouted Armin, breaking the prayer vigil. “Balphin…Harda…do you see this one?”
The Angels gazed upon the Son in their midst. Near the center of his body, next to his heart, there was a blue mark like, a scar. It glowed and pulsed with every step, getting brighter as he ran closer to the Daughter. The Trio did not resist him, his intentions were not selfish. Each of the three could feel this new power coming from inside the Son. That’s when Harda recognized the Son’s familiar light.
“The Rogue!” he cried. “The Rogue has been redeemed. Would you take a look at that?”
The Trio was on the verge of rejoicing. It was indeed the Rogue they had seen before. The center was completed filled – a powerful blue aura arising from its core. What had once come to destroy, was now here to save. With a new being alongside her, the Angels could continue their previous watch.
“Well, don’t gawk for too long, lads,” said Armin. “I think he’ll do what he can now. Let’s keep up our part of the deal.”
The Trio set out to defeat any of the advancing Shadows. Their bodies had been torn but the light of the Redeemed healed their wounds. He ran in tandem with the Daughter, blocking out other beings from getting too close. The deceptive creatures were deflected, shunned away by the power of the Redeemed. The Trio was at full strength and with that, the horizon opened up again. The centerpiece of light erupted and for the first time, the Trio could see a scene beyond the scattered trees and mountains they had been running in. They saw a street, connected to a sidewalk, and a large building in the middle of a city. More stone buildings rose up all around; street cars appeared and people stood in droves on the sidewalks. It was late evening but everything was silent – frozen in time; there was no movement from anything or anyone. The scene captured the Trio with wonder. They hadn’t been this close to the physical plane for a long time. More and more, the physical realm took over the empty space they had been traveling in. The Trio continued their guardianship, mindful that the destination could be mere moments away.
“Do you see it yet?” asked Armin.
“Nothing.”
“I do not see it yet either.”
The Trio was faring better than ever. The advancing Shadows were pulling away, but the path was getting narrower. The Angels had to fly closer to one another to keep within a safe distance of the Daughter. There were several more beings, like the Redeemed, running up alongside the Daughter as well. They replenished her with their own strength and then broke away. And just as the Daughter had been aided, she aided others in return – running onto their paths, crossing light, and then leaving. This exchange of light accelerated the journey, moving her faster than ever.

“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.

Some remarks… on Part 10

Pacing is a crucial element in storytelling. You can’t throw everything at an audience at once. Imagine telling a friend about your entire day. You’d start with when you woke up, gradually leading into breakfast (if you eat breakfast, and by all accounts, you should), then onto work or school, then off to lunch, then the afternoon, then evening, then whatever is beyond that. That’s a ton of information to regurgitate. And you don’t want to bombard the listener with everything you’ve experienced at one time. For one, it’s boring. Two, it’s anti-climatic if you’re trying to keep interest, and three, there’s no sense of relief. You’re smothering the person you’re trying to connect with.

And yes, that’s bad.

I find that with Spirit Run, there’s plenty of instances where I need to address my pacing. If I’m always charging forward with no sign of slowing down, then the reader is properly getting exhausted. As a writer – or a storyteller – telling a tangent thought may feel like a great opportunity to “wow” the reader. But in reality, that “wow” is only exciting to me. The reader/listener has no semblance of what’s going on in my head. If my message is jumbled, then they’ll be jumbled. So I have to give what I have in small chunks. I have to slowly build my case, release small tidbits, and gain momentum until I’m fully able to unveil the climax of a story.

It’s as simple as that. In practice? Not always so easy. Ever been at the brunt of a really long, really exhausting story a friend is telling you? Well, that’s a writer’s worst nightmare as it relates to storytelling. Stories need good pacing or else they become nothing more than poorly crafted run-on sentences; rehashed by the author out of some need to fulfill some storyteller’s buzz. I get that sentiment at times. But as much as I look to my own writing as being therapeutic, I am not in a position to keep my work to myself. Nor do I want to. It’s meant for sharing. And to be shared at a good pace.

“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?”

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.