#12Months12Books: March – “Report 439B”

March will be the debut of my fourth book, Report 439B, in this ongoing #12Months12Books challenge (if I’m counting December’s The Scientist’s Dilemma and yes, I intend to). The title itself should be at least semi-intriguing to some, if not alluring. I’m excited about this one and granted, I’m excited about any story I have forthcoming, but this one is really a break from the norm. Whereas my last three titles have been fiction/fantasy with a definitive story arc, this one doesn’t necessarily follow the same set of rules. Here’s why:

Report 439B is a collection of journal entries, presented to the reader as an alien visitor’s assessment of Earth. It’s the beginning, middle, and end of a six-month excursion. One culminating with the traveler’s final report on the planet’s inhabitants: should we (them) engage? Should we leave them (us) alone? And what are their (our) long-term effects on the rest of the universe? These are some of the questions the “alien” will be asking and trying to answer. It’s a break from the standard fiction for me, but I fell in love with the concept and away I went.

As a disclaimer, I put the word alien in quotations for a reason. ‘Alien’ is a term used for more than just cosmic travelers. It’s also used to describe a non-citizen. I know some readers will imagine a tiny being with black eyes and a huge, bald head at the first mention of ‘alien’. And hey, that’s fine. But, I want to encourage those same folks to read this story with a different perspective. What else do we view as otherworldly? Or perhaps as supernatural?

My story’s journeyman clearly comes from a place that’s like Earth, but is also not like Earth. He draws up several comparisons throughout, trying to portray the differences as much as the similarities. Even his interactions among the “Children” are hopefully some strong indicators of what’s at work in this story. I imagine those who read Report 439B will have their own interpretations, but I trust you enjoy taking the journey together.

It’s been fun writing it, if not grueling at times, but certainly worth the struggle. With every new story, I learn plenty about myself. But, more importantly, I learn what other people might be searching for too. Sometimes it’s just a new adventure; a primary goal of any story worth telling.

 

Oh, What Thoughts Awaken in the Early Morn’

There was a full moon the other night. That could be one reason as to why I’m feeling the way I do. My family – specifically those on my father’s side – find ourselves affected by the light of a full moon in strange ways. We aren’t secretly werewolves or some members of the occult; no, we just get a little antsy when there’s too much light in the room. Or too little.

I feel like a strange creature because I like the dark as much as I like the light. Some of my best work can happen in the dark while conversely, some of my best learning experiences can occur in the light of day. It’s a curious conundrum I find myself within. To think that in order for people to enjoy a good book or a good read, I must immerse myself in darkness; in secret; away from the world until that work is ready. If Edgar Allan Poe were still alive, I’m sure he’d agree. Only while others are asleep, I find myself awake. Conversely, when I prefer to sleep, others come awake themselves. What an interesting arrangement, this is – this whole light and dark business. Other writers and storytellers must find themselves in this same, ambiguous mess. I like the challenge, personally, even if the concept makes little sense to anyone else.

The one comfort I find in writing is that it reminds me of a common truth: I’m human. A being that indulges in darkness and light alike, or rather, dwells in both. The scientific term would be cathemeral (active in both night or day) but that description alone does not do the human condition justice. People often relate pain with dark times while joyful days are just that – days, but with light abounding. Why is this so? As a writer, I feel most invigorated in the early morning. When the world is still waking up for the day, I’m the most alive in thought. The light hasn’t fully reached me where I am, if you will. And when I feel the least inspired, the least likely to produce a good work, is the middle of a sunny day. How can that be so? Is it because I absorb the day so I can expunge what I’ve gathered at night? Something to consider, I suppose, if nothing else.

So this tightrope walk I’m on goes onward – drawn to the light on one end, but drawn to the dark just as much. And not because I desire dark times or eternal dusk; no, that isn’t it. I simply know where I must be if I am to work at my best. And it typically isn’t in the face of a hot sunbeam. Maybe one day I’ll adapt, but I’m curious if other authors or writers throughout history would agree. Or vehemently disagree. Either or, I’m intrigued to know the answer.

So here I am. It’s early morning; I’m immersed in my early morning thoughts, immersed in the unsteady nature that my thoughts bring, but excited at the possibility of what may occur should I tame these thoughts for proper application. And all the while, I am wondering when the sun will take hold of me again. For when it does, I’ll be thrust out of the dark room of my own understanding and thrown back into a world of new understandings – ones far beyond my foresight and well beyond my own making. Perhaps that way, when the dark returns, I will have had time to make right the chaos of these early morning voices. My thoughts will have been tamed in radiant sun; unable to hide away in the dark recesses of my own imagination. Oh, what a grand feeling that will be. And oh, what a great moment it’ll be for me to share. For the tasks I’ve completed in secret – or in darkness, if you will – will at last have the opportunity to be enjoyed by others. And in the light of day, no doubt.

“Spirit Run” – part 14 … aka The End

Phew. It was more than a month ago when I began this little venture and now it’s come to a close. I want to pat myself on the back or have someone do it for me, but that won’t be necessary. I’m elated to be done with this story. Plain and simple. Some 15,000+ words later and it’s done. It’s not a long tale by any means, but it’s complete. That’s something to write home about. Or in this case – post on your blog.

There’s a part of me that’s sad too, of course. And why wouldn’t I be? When you come to the end of a project, a major weight gets lifted. And you’re happy to be done, but confused on what to do with the feeling now that you’re done. That’s when the sadness draws close. What’ll I do next? What shall I focus my efforts on now? Well, my answers are easy: edit, revise, or start another story. That’s it. Simple? Yes, but daunting all the same.

Well, here it is anyway. The last section of Spirit Run and the longest one too. Sorry in advance for any who read it, but hey, that’s how it happened. I’ve placed the complete story on the blog until I figure out what else I’m going to do with it.

Enjoy!

The Angel reached with both hands behind his ears and pulled out two swords. They glistened in the sky as more and more Angels flew down from the clouds above. The new force of Angels descended upon the Demons, driving them into a chaotic spiral. Harda flew close to the Angel, shooting down Shadows and Demons with golden arrows in tandem with the double blades of his new ally.
“Norman, so glad you could join us!” shouted Harda.
“What was that?” said the Angel. “My name is – “
“Not important!” shouted Armin, thrusting his spear through a Shadow. The burn on his wing was not healed but he fought on. “Much obliged for the help, friend. Now let’s keep these foul creatures at bay!”
The added help was working well, but the Daughter was not moving any faster towards the woman. She walked with a slow gait, untouched by the battle but without the sense of urgency she had previously. The woman ahead was still sitting with her back to them, mumbling something to herself through half sobs and sighs. The Daughter looked to be catching fire, her light flashing vividly as she drew nearer. The two were but a few paces from each other; the Daughter shining and the woman crying out. The Trio tried to stay with the Daughter, but they knew this was it: the moment they had been working towards. All that was required now was for the woman to turn around; to uncover herself from darkness. But right as the Daughter began to reach out, hand extended to the young woman, a cold and eerie bellow covered the plane. Demons wailed as if they were in danger and Angels drew their weapons close to them. The battle was in favor of the Angels, but something had turned every being there into a state of perpetual panic.
“No…,” said Balphin. “It’s him.”
A new figure rose up over the young woman, casting a dark and cold veil over her. Its shadow was so large that it blotted out any surrounding light – even that of the largest Earthly Angels. The Trio, in close proximity, flapped their wings but were unable to get any closer to the Daughter. This new being was enormous and though it looked to have a face, it did not speak; it only increased in size over the young woman, swallowing her in its shade.
“Enough!” shouted Armin. “You cannot have this one. She will not listen to you! Not anymore!”
“Listen to me?” mocked the Dark Veil. Its words were minced and twisted, its voice echoed like a well, but hissed like a viper. “Why must she listen to me at all? Is she not capable of making her own choices?”
The words hit the Angels like a sledgehammer. Harda drew back on his bow but he could not release. Balphin picked up his sword but could not strike and Armin readied his spear but could not throw. The Angels were completely powerless.
“Do you see?” said the Dark Veil. “Why not let her choose which way is best? She is more than capable of doing so. Wouldn’t you agree?” The Dark Veil shifted its gaze upon the Daughter, who was still burning with great intensity. The words were having little effect upon her. She took another step forward and the Dark Veil spoke again.
“What good can you do?” it mocked. “What can you do that she cannot do already for herself? Have you not seen her plight? Have you not felt her pain? What have you learned on this journey that can be of any value to her now?”
The Daughter took another step in spite of its mockery.
“Don’t you see how she hurts?”
The Daughter took yet another step.
“Can’t you feel how she needs relief? What is it that you will offer her?”
Another step.
“Why do you think you’ll be any different? Is there anything of value that you possess that she does not already possess for herself?”
Another step.
The Dark Veil towered higher over the Daughter, frustrated with the Daughter’s ignorance towards him. The Trio waited patiently behind her. They could go no further. Then, all time stopped; the words of the Dark Veil ceased and the Daughter froze where she stood, but her flames burned on. The Trio flapped their wings in unison as they waited. Then, the young woman – silent till now – spoke:
“I am done with this,” she said. “I cannot go on like this… Too many … too many times … Something … Something must… I need you… I give myself to you now, Father. Please… help me.”
The Dark Veil screamed. Shadows and Demons withdrew their attack and the Trio’s wings doubled in size. The young woman lifted her head and the spiritual plane shifted. The Dark Veil fell from where it stood and the Daughter replaced him. The young woman and the Daughter were – at last – facing one another. The shame that had separated them was gone. The Daughter extended her hand and broke the space between spirit and flesh, touching the young woman. Fire and light transferred into the eyes of the young woman, filling her with the same light that encompassed the Daughter. The outpour was blinding and the Trio shielded its eyes. When it was over, the Daughter underwent yet another metamorphosis, its form changing into a new body. The transformation frightened the Dark Veil, driving it from the young woman and out of sight. Then, this New Body, pure of light, caressed the young woman’s face, lifting it higher with its own. Her eyes had turned red, swelling up with tears. Small beads of water ran down her face and onto the sidewalk. She cried, sobbed, and even laughed – the love of something otherworldly had penetrated her core, but not of out of intrusiveness, but of invitation. Then the New Body spoke.
“All things…,” it said. “…can be made new. I will show you.” The New Body disappeared and a crackle of thunder brought the world back into its normal passage of time. The physical plane returned and the Angels found themselves floating among it.
“Look!” said Harda and the Trio looked to the sky. A tiny drop of rain fell from the clouds and landed directly next to the teardrops of the young woman. Then another fell. And another. Soon, it was raining upon the young woman, but she didn’t move from where she was. Rather than seek shelter, she closed her eyes and raised her head. The tears that had covered her became lost in the shower of new rain as it fell and caressed her face. Then she smiled and raised her hands slowly into the air.
“’All things new’…,” she said aloud. The words, she thought. She had heard them. She opened her eyes to see a world that was different than she had closed them. The rain fell harder, soaking her completely. She turned her head and saw three figures standing by the sidewalk. It was a man, woman, and child – their hands intertwined, under the safety of a large umbrella as they walked through the rain. When her eyes fell upon them, she saw the little boy break from his mother and father and run towards her. He was carrying something with him, but the young woman couldn’t see what it was.
“Do you need this?” asked the child. He held out his right hand, a small umbrella gripped tightly. The boy had to be no more than 10 or 11, she figured. His big, brown eyes were friendly and inviting. The woman wiped her face and accepted the gift from the child.
“Thank you,” she said, trying not to sob. She looked back at the couple, who was under the veil of their own umbrella, but saying nothing. They watched intently from a distance, waiting for their son to return. “That was very sweet of you.”
“You’re welcome,” said the boy. “We had an extra one and Mom’s was torn earlier by the storm, but Dad’s was big enough for all of us. When I saw you, I figured you could use it. I like the rain but you shouldn’t let yourself get soaked in it. All things are made new by the rain though, aren’t they?”
The young woman nearly broke down again when she heard the words, but the boy’s smile kept her from doing so. She thanked him one more time and the little boy returned to his family – protected once again from the rain. The couple nodded at the young woman, who waved kindly as she flipped open her new umbrella. Then the kindly Trio, who had appeared as if out of nowhere, walked down the sidewalk, took a left turn and disappeared into the night.
“Thank you,” said the young woman. “Thank you.”
Her world restored, the young woman picked up her things and opened her car door. She threw the pills she had with her into a bag and drove away. She had no need for them anymore. She had only the road ahead and a light to shine the way home.

*****

“Small, this one,” said Armin, an Angel of the 11th guard. His transparent body floated in the plane between planes. Below him, a small ball of light twinkled in the darkness. “About as small as the last one, wouldn’t you say?”
“Indeed,” said Harda. His comment was more out of habit than agreement, but he knew that Armin was eager to get moving. “But I wouldn’t say he’s bigger or smaller than the last one just yet.”
“No matter,” said Balphin. “He just doesn’t know how big he is. Once he knows, he’ll get going.”
“Agreed,” said Armin. “But he, you say? Well, that has yet to be seen, now doesn’t it?”
The Angels billowed with bright blues and gold. The tiny orb of light sparkled and pulsed as though it were about to explode. Then it rolled a fraction on its side, a yellow dot of light left behind.
“Well,” said Armin. “Looks like we’re about to find out, aren’t we?”

Everyone Has Unique Struggles

Every person in the world has a story to tell. And every person in the world has a different struggle to overcome. I’m honestly humbled by this reality; it’s a truth of life in case you were wondering. No man or woman alive today leads a perfect existence. There’s a definite push and pull in the universe and that same push and pull is occurring just below the surface of every person. It’s happening deep within, close to the heart, and everywhere in between. That’s a fact. So as this story of mine comes to a close, I’m experiencing a hardship of my own: creating a proper struggle for my character. Weird problem to have, is it not?

The reason for this conundrum? I’m convinced that we live in an age of bad writing. Shock value supersedes pure value; predictable and familiar is more welcome than unpredictable and unfamiliar; and the concept of “making it” only applies to writers who have had their works transformed into film. No fault of theirs, but 99% of the time I tell people how I’m finishing up a story, the first question I get asked is this – to my chagrin – something like this: “Do you think it’ll be a movie someday?” To which I reply, “Good Lord, if it does, I hope to have some serious say in how it translates.”

Spirit Run has really made me consider what it takes to make a decent character; specifically one who has a dilemma worth resolving. Every great story has a conflict that’s needs resolution. The questions I have to answer – as a writer – are how to present that conflict, how to get there, and how to go about resolving said conflict. You can stick to the basics, but ultimately, you have to consider what hasn’t been done before. I perform this calculation anytime a new idea poses itself. Does the problem make sense? Is the character exciting to me? Do I care to see what happens to him or her? If my answers end up being ‘no’, I move elsewhere. But if I’m intrigued by where it might be headed, I press on.

The main character of Spirit Run has no name; something I leave ambiguous for my own reasons, but she definitely has a struggle to overcome. And it’s a struggle that’s unique to her, but altogether relevant to the reader too. That’s what I’m hoping to accomplish with this story. Create something new, something different but something familiar too. A unique struggle if I ever had one.

“Spirit Run” – Part 13

Lucky number 13 here. I’ve been putting off this part for a while, I feel. Maybe it’s because I’m nearing the end of this tale. Or maybe I’m just being lazy. I don’t really care which, but I do care about sharing it before I lose sight of doing so. So here it is: the second-to-last section of this story.

Many thanks for the feedback everyone. The encouragement received is more than appreciated – it is humbling and just plain awesome. I’ve uploaded the entire story (minus part 14) on the website.

Thanks again.

“That’s our girl!” cried Harda. The Trio and the Daughter were traveling at a speed that not even the Shadows could sustain.
“Look, brothers,” said Balphin. “That must be where we are headed.”
The Angel pointed with his sword to the center of the horizon. Up ahead, they saw the back of a young woman. She was seated, head between her knees, with long dark hair falling down. Her back heaved up and down, breathing heavily. She eventually stood up, walked to what appeared to be her front door, grabbed a purse and other belongings and exited. Outside, she approached a small car, opened it and drove off. The Trio, Daughter and other Redeemers followed close behind, albeit still a fair distance from where the young woman was.
“That must be her,” said Harda. “Look at how she avoids us.”
“She won’t show us her face,” said Balphin. “The shame keeps her from looking upon us.”
The car drove for a time before finally stopping inside of a parking lot. The woman stepped out of her vehicle and walked to the front of a large building. There were windows all along the outside, with people seated within and throughout. She didn’t enter this place, instead she peered in as if she were looking for someone. And when she found whom she was searching for, she stopped. A young man, seated at the bar, was chatting and placing his hands on a woman he was next to. Their conversation looked lively under the lights of the bar, but there were dark Shadows by their heads and hearts, indiscernible to any mortal’s eyes. The woman dipped her head and walked back to the parking lot. She leaned against her car before slowly slipping down onto one knee. She cupped her hands over her face and began to sob. In her purse, she found a bottle and shook it gently. There was still something left and she wanted to taste it. The Trio could smell the aroma of something filthy and the path to the young woman doubled in length. All along the road, new dangers sprung up – lined with all manner of spiritual beings that had been transparent till now.
That’s when the Trio heard it. War had erupted. Angels and Demons were engaged in battle all around the young woman. Tiny flickers of light, usually unseen by the human, ignited and came alive for all the spiritual realm to see. More Angels and Demons appeared, doing battle as they floated above and all around the distraught woman. The space between realms was warped, only her human form could be seen clearly. Time was slowing down as the war raged on. These new Angels were unlike the Trio; they were bigger. Their heads were wrapped with golden crescents and their weapons were colored in bright gold. The Demons were also different. Some had the appearance of heavenly things, but their light was inverted, drawing in everything to themselves. They shouted at the young woman, seeking praise only for themselves before being silenced by the attack of an Earthly Angel. The two factions had other differences as well. Whereas the Angels were coordinated in their strikes, the Demons were not. Those allied with the Darkness did not aid one another in combat. Their individual gain and self-preservation was more important, it seemed, while the combined onslaught of the Angels was unified. Demons stepped over top of other Demons, calling out for someone to worship them as they attacked the young woman.
“Don’t lose sight of her, lads!” shouted Armin. The Daughter ran headlong through the storm, advancing as quickly as the Trio and other Angels could make possible for her. Demons lashed out, but the Earthly Angels crushed them before they could reach the Trio. The ground shook as the Daughter ran on. The path to the woman was shaking, a sharp static resonating through the tunnel that led to her. One of the larger Demons slashed at the Daughter, but Armin intercepted. He took the blow from the Demon, cutting his wing and landing on the ground.
“Armin!” shouted Harda.
Armin tumbled and rolled but the Demon was not concerned with Armin; it wanted the Daughter and rushed in to claim her. Harda and Balphin flew over, standing face to face with the Demon. It was hideous but marvelous to behold. Its body was literally inverted; its head was down where its knees should have been but its legs were absent, or without form. A large mouth opened by its chest while its arms jutted from its sides. Light glimmered just below the mouth while a large hole – dark and black – cradled above its throat. Its skin was shining but it darkened, then paled as it drew closer to the Daughter. This creature interchanged between something beautiful and something terrifying with every advancement it made. Balphin and Harda were not impressed by its array of stunning attributes. They charged headlong and cut the Demon with their weapons before it could impede upon the Daughter. The creature howled, ever calling out the Daughter as it backpedaled from them. The two Angels then snatched their fallen comrade and reformed their protective circle. The Daughter slowed her pace as though she was waiting for Armin to rejuvenate himself.
“Don’t stop for me, sweetheart…” said Armin. His strength was fading. “Don’t stop… please don’t… burns…it burns like fire….”
“Do as he says!” shouted Balphin and he scooped up Armin under his arm. “Harda, can you follow her?”
“Yes, I will,” said Harda. He floated above the Daughter, watching for any other being that may try to ensnare her. “Do not lose hope. We can make it yet.”
“Perhaps you only need a few more to help you along,” shouted a voice from the plane above. The Trio raised their heads to see what had called out to them. Armin’s face beamed with joy and the other Angels did the same. It was none other than the Angel that Armin had encountered before. With him, he brought an entourage of other warriors, each equipped with a weapon ready to do battle.
“Don’t fret, my friends!” shouted the blue-eyed Angel. “You rescue is here. As requested!”

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!”