BOOK SALE!! – Buy BACK FROM NOTHING and get a chapbook for freesies!

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Hey kids, I am selling my short story collection BACK FROM NOTHING for five bucks (plus $2.50 shipping in the US) and will throw in a chapbook with every purchase.

That’s like, so many stories your head will erupt in a word-cano.
Now, I won’t take responsibility for blowing your freakin’ mind but, it WILL come with the purchase of the book.

Like dark fiction?
Then bring it.

Chris Ringler
625 S. Saginaw St. – Ap. 2
Flint, MI
48502

$7.50 and you get BFN and a chapbook.
RAD!

*free bone chilling with purchase*

What We Lost…

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Just some funky photography I did around where I live and one of the bookstores where I work.

Winter doesn’t inspire me as much as the other months for photography so I wanted to shoot some stuff.

The Things in the House – story

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This was a story first published In BARE BONE. Sorta silly but creepy and fun.

The Things in the House

The things in the house know when They are gone. Until then, the things hide like children, beneath stairs, in cupboards, in walls.

When darkness creeps over the flesh of the house, the things slip from their places. Out they come, jaws gaping, claws clattering, hands scraping, tails cracking, blood boiling, their bodies pouring out in a jumbled nightmare mass.

Shrieks of glee fill the house as the Rotten Three and their many brides go into the night, return with stolen corpses, and lay out a feast. The things in the house scream and clamor, as the bodies are torn apart and gobbled up. The last bits of finger are consumed, noisily, by shadows that rarely ever come to play.

Night spreads its arms wide, and the things in the house run loose through the rooms and halls, the spirits and Ghastlies playing hide the skull as the Shimrugs move the furniture slightly out of place. A Rast and the Dimmidug sniff through the clothes of They, smell the dark red smells, and slither back to their mothers after a loud noise startles them. In the attic, Grandmother Avadast tells tales of old – of days when the things in the house ran free and the world had no such creatures as Man – much to the delight of the children.

The things in the house feel free now, free as in days of old, free from those who keep them in fear. All are joyous, no longer hidden from sight, no longer threatened by a hostile and confusing world.

Yet they remain fearful of They.

At first, the things in the house had hoped to scare They off, but that all ended when young Vorvinskink was caught and taken to the basement, never to return.

So they wait.

And watch.

And hope They might leave – leave forever. But for now the things in the house dream of a world unchanged by Man and run wild through rooms, their clattering laughter like screams from the grave, their joy unbound until…

…the smallest of the smites goes to open the basement door.

The house falls silent. The basement is the forbidden place, the place where the things of the house dare not go – the place of They and their dark work. All stand still, silently watching the basement door.

A noise from one of the Ghants wakes the tribe from its trance. The things in the house see that night has departed; it is time for They to return.

Images of dark eyes, thick boots, and stained flesh race through their heads. Terrified, the things in the house clean and clean and clean – devour the bones, put the furniture back in place, lap up the blood and wipe away the remains of the bodies they’ve eaten. Everything is put to rights.

The things in the house stop suddenly when they hear a car door close.

They are home.

The things in the house hide again, beneath beds, in closets, in the attic, the cupboards, under the stairs, anywhere They will not see.

And the things in the house wait for They to return.

After many minutes the front door opens; the sound of heavy boots fills the house. The door closes, and, with a grunt, They drops something onto hallway’s wooden floor which makes a wet sound as it settles.

It has returned.

The things of the house have heard that sound before, and, by its smell, know what it is. It never returns alone.

Collectively, they shudder.

It unleashes a long sigh. The things in the house hear Its body crack as It stretches itself in exhaustion.

Heavy footsteps fill the house, and behind It is the sound of the dragging thing, sliding wetly across the floor.

The sound of a key in a lock, and then a door creaks open – the dark door, the forbidden door.

The sound of It going down the stairs, and then the scent of death, of blood and murder wafts up to the things in the house. They cringe.

And thump, thump, thump goes Its baggage until there is silence, and later, screams and then, finally, silence again, silence that feels like quicksand.

It takes many hours before rest comes to the things in the house. They wait until it is safe, until They have gone to bed, and the fear has subsided. Finally, the things of the house are safe to sleep.

To sleep and dream of a forever night when the Monster is gone.

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Submit, Submit, Submit, they cry!

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So, if you are gonna do the whole writer thing, hell, I guess any arty sorta stuff, there comes the day when you must submit to the will of  the Other. Submission is part of the process though. Whatever you do, whatever art you are involved in you have to submit to the public, to gallery owners, to dealers, publishers, sellers, buyers, your peers and hell, that list can go on and on. To varying degrees, without the submission, the art remains unfinished.

We can tinker with a work, whatever it is, until the end of time, changing it as we change, growing it as we grow, but there is a time when you have to release it and accept it as it is. Sure, you may tweak it, you may evolve it, but in the end, if you release it then it’s never truly finished.

And there’s the rub, the hardest thing you do is the very thing you have no choice but to do – release it.

Submit.

Of late I am in the middle of the sumission dance myself. I am looking for markets for short stories and the novel again. There’s a fun site to check, which I was clued in on from the Brian Keene Forums  at http://www.briankeene.com and that site is -

http://www.duotrope.com/

Pretty rad site.

While in the midst of this I have also dicovered that there’s a new format to follow when it comes to submitting and that is Manuscript format, something I never knew existed before. This is as good a site as any to see the rules -

http://www.ericmanske.com/manuform.htm

Yikes though, I tell you what, it is hard enough to even FIND markets these days but then you have to roll through half a dozen rules. Good grief. It’s a wonder anyone gets published these days. Hell, I hadn’t even HEARD of the manuscript form until a rejection email I got the other day. Crackers! What else don’t I know?

Next thing ya know they’re gonna tell me I have to write something original.

What?

That’s utter nonsense, for realsies.

It is discouraging though, the submission because more times than not it isn’t even the disliking of your work that hurts but the indifference to it, as if it is but more product to be approved or disapproved and then everyone moves on. I tend to think the days of the helpful rejection are gone and now you’re left to keep submitting works over and over again until someone either accepts it or you just give up on that piece and try another. With me, the trouble comes in that I have dozens and dozens of stories and I just never know which to try to submit. I totally appreciate that some works are more appropriate for some certain markets but, damn, it’s not always so easy to say – that one is crap, and this one is good, and that’s that.

It drives me nuts, I have to admit, the process of submission you go through as a writer, especially when the industry is in such turmoil. It’s so damned impersonal and automated. It seems like you’d want to inspire writers, want to inspire stories, and want to help breed the next generation when instead you get carbon copy rejections and little to no direction.

Hell, the best example of this I can give is from when I went to the World Horror Con in NYC in 2005. So I had signed up to sit down with a publisher for a pitch session. I was super freaked out and scared but excited too because, what if? Well, so I get there and am told that there was a bit of luck on my part and I’d get to pitch to two publishers, a small one and a bigger one. So now you double my fear and anxiety and there I am up late one night trying to sum up my novel into less than five minutes. Cripes. So the big day comes and I go in and in BOTH cases three of the five minutes of the pitch were spent telling me about the publishing house and what they do and want and all that and barely any of the time was spent on why I was there. They were more interested in pitching themselves to me than wanting to hear what I had, and that’s a lot of the market now.

Read our magazine.

Check our guidelines.

Follow our rules.

Only send things that are just like this but not at all like that.

There are more rules than issues for some of these places. And it’s like you can see the reason, you can see the sense in all of it, and you can appreciate that things have to follow a standard but I can’t help but wonder if the standard gets in the way of finding and promoting new talent.

Worse may just be heading to the forums supporting your favored art and seeing the pettiness and bitterness therein. Yipes!

I can’t help but wonder sometimes if in submitting we aren’t tossing children into an ocean and hoping they’ll learn to swim, or trusting that a passing ship will find them.

These days, I see the sense in jumping in after those kids and swimming beside them until they’re ready to swim for thesemselves. I see the sense in self publishing, even if it’s nothing I want to turn to.

Yet.

c

MurderLove – a story

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This is a story that was first published in an issue of the defunct CTHULHU SEX. And, can I tell you that I HATE the funky way WordPress fucks with stuff I cut and paste from Word. Can I do that? UGH!

MurderLove

She looked up at the clock and, realizing what time it was, swore aloud and spun out of the chair she’d been waiting in. She was a blur, moving so fast that the chair tips backwards and bounces its head against the linoleum with a loud thud that pulls across her nerves and echoes in her mind. She ran from the kitchen, swiveling as she went to turn and flick the overhead light off – darkness, she wanted darkness, and the more of it she could get the better. Outside she heard the sound of a car turning into the drive and coming to a stop – shit; she’d waited too long. She had sat there at the table, pushing a cigarette around without thinking, playing over how this all would happen, and now she’d pushed things so that she had to be perfect or everything was lost. All the planning, all the preparation, everything she’d done adding up to nothing. She had to be quick if she was going to pull this off.

She turned, paranoid now, and backed into the living room, turning off the lights as she went, making sure it was good and dark in the house, good and dark, and reaching behind her to find what she’d placed in the corner for this very moment. Outside she heard the engine of the car cut out and knew it was only a matter of a minute, maybe two until he’d be in here, until he’d be at her, all hands and mouth and maybe this time not just those weapons but a knife. Or a gun. A grim smile lit her face as she moved deeper into the darkness of the house, into a corner and waited, her nude form slick with sweat as the front door slowly opened and the heft of wood reassuring her that her plan was flawless. In the darkness she smiled.

“Hon…honey, where ya at? I’m home. Hello? Hello? Anyone here? Shit…can’t see a damned thing. Hon? Hon are you here?”

Silence.

Stillness.

Nothing

The man closed the door behind him and squinted into the darkness to make out any shapes, anything that might be his wife, a light, or anything that might trip him up as he stumbled around blindly. He moved forward slowly, carefully, dropping his briefcase as he went, one hand feeling the air before him for the chairs, the table, whatever stood hiding before him waiting to grab his ankles or lash out at his thighs as the other hand slid down to the bulge in his pants pocket. Off in the living room there came a sound, something faint, like the sound of movement, though it could be any damned thing, but it was a sound nonetheless. Hearing this he moved off in that direction, his heart beating heavily in his head, his body slick with sweat, and his left hand not straying far from his pocket and what he had there. He heard another sound and quickened his pace, wanting some sort of sign that if he wasn’t home alone that he was at least hearing things, but as he entered the living room his feet tangled in the legs of a chair, her damned designer chair she just had to have last fall, and he fell forward heavily onto his chest, forcing all the wind from him and blackening the darkness completely. But as he was falling the air above him was cut as though something had moved through it quickly, just missing him. Dizzied but conscious he tried to shake the fall from his body so he could think more clearly. What was that he’d just seen – sure that he had seen a flash of something in the darkness as he fell, something tall and pale. He rolled over, body throbbing now, and looked around, looking for anything, everything that might be hidden in the dark and ready to strike. His heartbeat was harder, the sweat sliding down along his body, the air suddenly thick and his mind just clearing the fog of the fall.

He wasn’t alone.

Dammit, it was a trap. A trap.

His hand reached into his coat pocket just as the lights snapped on again and there, above him stood his wife, body naked, eyes and hair wild, her body shining with sweat and an axe held high above her – she looked like a statue. A mad war goddess ready to kill humanity.

The moment before impact lasted forever in their minds.

He pulled his hand free from the coat and almost laughed as he risked taking his eyes off his wife and looked to see he had pulled the banana she had packed for him to eat for lunch free. A banana of all things.

“Whoops, wrong pocket I guess. Damn…”

The axe swung down and split his face in two. The blade dug deep into his skull and spilled a thick red paste along the linoleum in an ever-increasing pool. His body twitched slightly and, tensed, and was still, and above him his wife smiled, her hands loosening their grip on the axe so she can stand back and look at her work.

He was beautiful in death, perfect, his body twisted up with the chair, his face now halved by the deep dark gorge where an axe had sprouted, an almost playful smile at his lips, and there, almost hidden, buried in blood and bone, the brain she’d come to fall in love with so many years ago. She smiled more broadly and knelt beside him, her hand playing over his brow, dancing in the thick red goo that slipped from the wound and across his ruined face. When her hand was thick with the gore she lifted it to her nose and took a deep breath and then ran her tongue over it, unable to control herself. She ran the hand across lips and under her chin, across her throat, over her breasts and down across her belly and lower. She sighed as she touched herself, the heat of the blood and thrill of the kill sent a wave of shivers over her that caught in her chest and quickened her breath. She closed her eyes and ran one hand between her legs and the other across his shattered face and groaned. Perfect. Her body quivered and a long moan escaped her. The house watched her touch herself, the shadows and the things in it jealous.

“I got you…I finally got you this time…”

Silence.

“You’re mine…all mine…”

Silence.

“Aww, nothing to say? Or are you just pouting?”

She ran her hands across his broken face and frowned. It wasn’t as fun when he pouted.

“Yes, ok, you got me, you really, really got me that time…ya happy?” He was pouting, but she could tell in his voice that he was hiding a smile.

She opened her eyes and he smiled up at her, the axe that had split his face now splitting his smile down the center.

“I woulda had you if you wouldn’t have packed this damned banana.”

“Oh really?”

“Yeah, really. I had my gun in pocket, but I forgot which one…”

“You mean the gun I replaced with that banana?”

“Oh you little…”

“Who, me?”

He pushed himself onto his elbows and raised an eyebrow at her.

“You mind getting this thing out of my skull? It’s giving me an awful headache.”

“And then what?”

“Well…I think you know what…you won, you won and I am yours…”

“Yes…I won, and now, and now…”

He smiled but that smile turned to a wince as she pulled the axe free of his skull. The woman pulled the axe free and brought it to her lips and slid her tongue out and across the stained blade, giggling, knowing how she was teasing him, as she tasted the thick, salty blood and let loose a chuckle as he watched her toss it across the floor and against the wall. He laughed, though he winced as soon as he did, the laugh a sort of gurgle that was split just like his face. He was a pretty lucky guy, he figured. Her body shimmered with sweat as she straddled him, the blood drying to black on her and he couldn’t resist any longer and leaned forward to lick it off of her chest. She moaned and her twin hearts beat harder and lit up a deep purple in each thigh as her eyes twisted in their sockets, running the rainbow of colors he knew meant her mind was already in the bedroom. She bent forward and kissed the open spot where the axe had been, letting her forked tongue slide out and into the wound, then out of the valley, and then back into it, moaning at the taste of his sweet blood. His body warmed beneath her touch and turned bright red, the tentacles sliding out of their hiding places along his wrist and unfurled across the floor. His eyes rolled back into their sockets as he felt tingling warmth across his face that place as his wound closed and healed. Sensed his twin hearts beating more quickly. And felt his skin roll, shiver, and change as she changed. Her long black tongue slipped from between her lips and slid through the blood on his closing wound and her smile stretched unnaturally across her face as it too stretched and her nose receded to leave another mouth with another eager tongue. He smiled as she helped him to his feet, kissing her deeply as she removed first his tie, and then his shirt, the buttons on it popping free and letting his scaled skin breathe as the eyes across his chest coveted her feathered bosom. He felt her hand slide to the bulges in his pants and kissed her ear softly.

“Mine…all mine, and you have to do exactly as I say, those are the rules…”

He smiled into her suddenly white hair and laughed, eager to see what she’d want of him this time.

“Ahhh, but wait until next time love…I, I have something wonderful planned for you, I was just saving it for a special occasion…”

“Will it kill…or just hurt?” She grinned into his chest.

“Oh it will kill you love…it will definitely kill you…”

“God I love you…”

“I love you too…”

…csr…12.20.00…

A Novel Affair

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So it’s funny, at least to me, that I have posted a sample from my novel because it is a novel I never intended to write. It isn’t that, you know, I never WANTED to write a novel but…

Shit, let’s be honest here, I NEVER wanted to write a novel.

Never.

Ever.

Never ever.

Nope, never had any interest in writing a novel. Part of that never is that I am just in love with short stories. I love the challenge of trying to create an emotional impact and tell an interesting and engaging story in a smaller space. And ok, I will be honest, the idea of writing a novel scares the hell out of me. I write short fiction, so I dunno that I could write a novel and keep it both interesting and on point. It’s just something I never had an interest in. Sure, I love to read the things but to write them, pfft, what are you crazy, here?

Ah, but then I met Pete Anders, or rather, he met me.

In the mid-nineties some friends and I did the ‘zine thing and in the course of that I wrote a story called Night’s Dancer about a crazy hillbilly who hates everyone in the world save for the one woman he lost to death. When he’s pushed by some locals in a Halloween prank he plops a pumpkin on his head, grabs a pitchfork, and goes out on a murder spree.

It was a simple story, a silly story but I liked it. More than that, I liked Pete. Pete who suddenly had a voice in my head. As ‘zine gave way to ‘zine Pete became a columnist and grew more and more personality and suddenly I knew I had to follow up his first tale with another. Pete just wasn’t willing to go down without a fight.

So I wrote a second story for Pete, a tale of his rise from the grave to take revenge on those that had killed the woman he loved adn who had betrayed him and set him up. During the course of it all though he changed and lost his taste for bloodshed and gladly welcomed death.

Ah, but Pete wasn’t done yet, and after a time, I felt he had one more adventure in him, and perhaps a chance at redemption, so I wrote a third story. This tale focused on Pete’s journey into and through Hell, and on a journey to the truth of why he is still roaming around on two legs. Unfortunately for Pete, at this point in the saga his head is all pumpkin, he is mostly rotten, and the axe his brother used to put him down again is stuck for good in his noggin’. It ain’t easy bein’ Pete.

I left the stories as a novella, and with a cliffhanger. Pete, perched at the beginning, or perhaps end, of a great war that would decide the fate of all existence. I liked it. I felt it was a fine place to end it.

Ah, but then I got to feeling guilty. Poor old Pete, just  hanging around, waiting for a war that’d never come closer. And there it was, slowly but surely I began the fourth and final, and decidedly longest chapter of the story. This last part is what made it a novel, and what made it something special for me. I was able to hone the story, to expand it, and to delve into some mythos ideas I had hinted at but never really did much with. With the fourth part there came a lot of revisions to the novel, the greatest being after I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and realizing that, well, it’s a book about a war, my book, so, uh, shouldn’t the war be, well, bigger? Indeed it should be. Characters got expanded, villains changed, and bit by bit it came together.

Voila, a novel by the guy that never wanted to write one.

And I love it.

With all my heart.

I am sure I could work on it and work on it and work on it, expanding and shaping it more and more but, for now, for me, it’s done. Until and unless I find a publisher, I won’t touch it. Should I have to, I will take a look at it for publication, but if that happens I will hopefully have someone leading my hand at what works and what doesnt. This version though, all two hundred plus pages of it, are my version of this story. Less than five people have read it, more like three, or two, I forget which, so it remains largely unread but, it exists, on this very laptop, truth be told, and it’s my hope you’ll get a chance to share it one of these days.

Let’s hope it’s sooner than later. Pete can use all the friends he can get.

…c…

A Shadow Over Ever – sample…

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So I wrote a novel.

I love this thing with all my heart but it has yet to see the day.

This is one scene from later in the book, between the main character Pete Anders and Jesus Christ. Pete has become the general of the armies of Heaven in an infernal war between set to end all existence. Pete, a hateful, lonely man, who never believed in god has become the last hope to save a world he no longer cares about.

In this scene, the war is taking its toll and the world is falling apart. Heaven and Earth are on fire and Pete knows why.

-X-
A sick, sad feeling filled Pete as he walked through the ruins of Heaven that only got deeper as he entered the citadel. It was a hollow, empty feeling. He was in a graveyard – a place where hope and dream had died. Between the pain in his side, a pain which was now making his left arm numb and almost useless, and the sick feeling that came with what he now knew to be the truth of the bombing, death couldn’t come soon enough. It wasn’t his time yet, not quite yet, but god he was so tired. He passed through the untouched citadel and saw there, at the black gates that held shut the citadel, the person he was looking for. The gates were great black things that rose high above the walls of the citadel and ended in sharp pikes. The closer he got to it the more he thought that the gates, black originally, were covered in blood, but then he saw that it wasn’t blood at all but rust. Even Heaven rusts. And there, just outside of the gates, opened for the first time, perhaps ever, the day before, open to its enemies, sat Jesus, naked on the hot desert, sitting bare beneath the sun.

“How long have you known then Mr. Anders?”

“Oh, hell, you can call me Pete, and I suppose worse if you wished, considerin’ how many times I took your name in vain.”

“How long Mr. Anders?”

“A few days now. I suppose I suspected it after the first attack but yesterday, yesterday just solidified what I had suspected. Part of it all was guesswork, but a bigger part was process of elimination – who could help the Fallen hurt god but never be suspected? I knew the Devils loved Him too much, and the angels feared Him. So it came to you…”

“Nicely done Mr. Anders. I can’t tell you that I expected to go undetected, I frankly thought the Guard of Heaven would find me out, but none of them come here, no one does, and in the end, I suppose, perhaps no one wanted to see that it was me all along.”

“Ya see though, I’d wager you was seen, by god and prolly the Oracle fellas, but for some reason everyone kept quiet.”

“I suppose that may be so.”

“Well, now what Jesus?”

“Are you asking me why?”

“No. There’s always a reason, no matter what it is, it’s there, and I figure that the reason is yours and yours alone. And shit, you want the truth? I’d done the same thing I think.”

“You, you what?”

“If my father, mother, whatever the fuck it is to you, had created me to suffer, to teach through pain and my own sacrifice, and expected me to die like a goddamned animal I reckon I’d not be real generous in my forgiveness either. Fuck, you were betrayed by the two people you trusted above all others – your friend and your god. And your legacy? Shit, your legacy is a muddled mess perverted by Man as much as by devil or Fallen or whatever. You became not a beacon of hope and goodness, a sign of what Man can become if it wishes to but a sword and shield used by those that claim to know what you really were, yet don’t. Your message was lost, your sacrifice in vain, and god has done nothin’ to change that. Free Will has damned as many as it has saved, and who knows that better than you? Fuck, what are you here? Some novelty act. A washed up celebrity to greet the newcomers and to be looked at and whispered about so long as you play he part of the happy martyr, the loving lamb. Ah but you never were no lamb were ya? The kin of god ain’t bound to be a lamb, not this god anyway, not from what I been told. You were born a lion and told to be a lamb. You wanted to fight but had no permission to. My god, you know as well as I do, better, that you could have toppled Rome with your fury. You might have united an angry, lost world beneath your banner. A loving general willing to kill to unite, none would defeat you because you were the Son of God. But no. And when god needed a martyr, a savior, he turned to you, and now, when the world needs to really be saved, he turns not to you, the lion, but to me. Me for fuck’s sake. A sinner. A monster. I guess whom better to fight monsters than a monster, right? And I got this gift, this bullshit time bomb that, if I use it to its fullest, will kill me, which is prolly what everyone wants. I can’t fathom how any of this affected you Jesus, nor do I care to. I seen the dead fruit that bore out from the seeds of god, I figger their ain’t no more for me to know. You were handed the sword of god, and told to kneel. My god…”

“And you feel then you’d have done was I did? Even if it meant to kill people you cared for…loved.”

“Lucky enough, I ain’t gotta make that decision, and never will.”

“Fair enough. So, what will you do? Reveal me? Give me to Ariak or someone else? Shall you betray me, if you’ll allow me a bitter moment of irony? Or shall you kill me? Or perhaps you’re here because you wish to join me, to quit this war and leave it to those who care to fight it. Come what may.”

“I’ll tell ya, since ya ask. I thought long and hard ‘bout what I’d do if I found you. If you was still here. Traitor you may be, but if anyone has ever earned mercy, earned clemency, it’s you. I didn’t see that before but I do know. Seein’ you here, waitin’ for your punishment and maybe wanting it, I see things a little clearer. And frankly, who are any of us to judge you? I release you Jesus. You served both man and god long and well and from now on your heart is your own. I release you, naked as you are, to wander where you will, and to do as you wish. You are free. Look out to the desert and see not the ruins of what was but the potential of what may yet be. I’d wager that you were given a gift as well, which would make us brothers of a kind. And if my gift was to destroy, what might yours be? Leave and be well brother, leave and find happiness. Before you leave though, embrace me and call me brother, then leave this dead place.”

Jesus stood, stunned and silent, for a moment, the sun playing over his dark skin, the blood finally done flowing, the pool of it he’d been in drying, and approached Pete. Pete opens his arms wide, grimacing against the pain in his side and arm, and the two embrace. Pete feels the power coursing in Jesus, awake now after so many years of disuse, and Pete smiles, hopeful, even as he sees his pitchfork lying close at hand. Waiting.

“Thank you Pete. Thank you brother. I can now call you Creator as well, Pete Anders, and I pray I will do well by you. Even if it did not mean to, the Creator chose well with you. I loved It you know.”

“I know…”

“Love’s a funny thing.”

“It sure as hell is.”