Fit to Print

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I haven’t gotten a chance to post a couple things SO, it’s time to change that. I have a couple art pieces I have done recently and wanted to post it and wanted to get up some pics from the Service Street Fair, which I did yesterday.

The monster guy a week ago. I like him but see the flaws. I kinda forced him a little and it shows. There are fun things about him but there are some things that nag me.

The rest of the pics are from the Service Street Fair, which was a super fun artist run fair down a funky side street in Detroit. Very cool people and a fun atmosphere. I also am posting a few pics of creepery I recently took.

Enjoy?

c

The Age of Freaks

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Ahh, the good old days.

Once upon a time some friends and I had the grand idea to make a totally no budget movie with stuff we could find, make, or get inexpensively. It would be a grand sci fi epic full of cheese and lasers. I wrote a treatment for the first part of the story, and this, friends, is that treatment.

The Age of Freaks – prologue

Prologue –

Since the beginning of time there had been stories of the end of the world, and how it would come. Would it be fire? Ice? Pestilence? Famine? No one would ever have guessed it would come in the form that it did, but perhaps that is because it was the most inevitable.

Following a brutal third world war in which the skies were set ablaze and the gulf coast of America was turned to ash, as well as much of the Middle East, it seemed that the end times were near. But, seeing the devastation that a nuclear war would bring, treaties were signed and the race for atomic superiority ended. But not the race for dominance of the earth.

And so it was that in the year 2214 that the first volley was fired in the Gene War. Scientists had, after two hundred years of research, found the master key to unlock the secrets of the human gene and could now create life, in whatever image they wished, and as soon as that last, great secret was found, Man, the species, was doomed. For it was the Gene War, waged on the poor of the world, commanded from war rooms, and set in action via food rations, that would finally bring Man to its knees and set about the last days. These are those last days.

The dark figure entered the room hunched, a black shape amidst the darkness. There was a sound in a distant corner that echoed in the vast room and the figure paused, hand sliding down to its waist, but when it realized that the sound was from a robotic assistant it let its breath out and moved deeper into the room. The sound of the shape’s footsteps echo as it moves, denoting a room of considerable size, and the flickering of lights fills the room with an eerie glow. The figure moves to a glowing green rod that is planted deeply into a wall and it moves its hand over the end of the shaft and the great room is slowly lit from giant globes that hang in mid-air, seeming to be suspended by nothing some twenty feet above. The room is a lab that has been carved into a cave and there are signs of failed progress.

Of frustration.

There are shattered test tubes, spilled fluids, and across a chalkboard are more scribbles than formulas.

The stranger saw all this and laughed to itself. It stood in the shape of a man, with a man’s hands, but over its head there was a loose sack tied at the base of the neck with two eyeholes cut out in it. It looked like a man, and walked like a man, but the eyes are strange, as if it is no man.

The stranger moved towards the only robotic assistant still active and ran its hand over the things head. It turns its attention away from the experiment it was working on and turne to the figure.

“How can I assist you?”

“I need the Master Code. I need it now.” The stranger spoke softly but with great authority.

“I am afraid there is no such product or experiment listed in my database, perhaps…”

“Omega – Alpha – Zero, Zero, Zero.”

“Processing…The Master Code was created by Doctor Ian Ashmoore on the seventeenth day of November, 2214. It was created under the supervision of the League of Nine, nine scientists brought together to find a cure to the problem created by the mutant strain found in the human race. Master Code will be implemented in an isolated area where it will create a new strain of the human genetic code, essentially re-starting the human race from day one. The mutant strain will be weeded out via a virus implanted into the food supply and then the survivors will be killed in Coalition lead hunts. Estimated end of mutant strain – ninety days from this day.”

“When will the Master Code be implemented?”

“It will be implemented three days from this day. The clock is already running.”

“Where is the Code?”

“That information is listed as code double niner security…”

“The code sequence is Arizona – Roanoke – Omega. Where is the Master Code?”

“Processing…Code is within the Gamma Orange Ray. Human hands cannot withstand the heat. I will acquire the Master Code and give it to you myself, doctor.”

The robot rose from the floor and several spider-like legs emerged from its sides and in a moment it was off and across the room, moving with unnerving speed and grace, its cylindrical body smooth and silver and beautiful against so much rock and rusted metal. This was a laboratory, that was true, but it was one of a dying race, and that was abundantly clear. The stranger doubled over in pain as several harsh coughs erupted from its mouth and spattered blood onto the floor. It fell to one knee and felt something like fire burning in its chest. Time was running out.

“Here is the Master Code doctor, please do be careful as this is a very unstable…”

The stranger could still move quick as well and pulled a black cylinder from the waist of its tunic and plunged it into the wiry guts of the assistant. Without a word or sound the assistant was silenced and dead. The stranger stood and waited to see if the other robotic assistants would wake but none did. The stranger smiled beneath the hood and picked up the blue ball that fit snugly into the palm and marveled at how small the Master Code was and how destructive such a slight thing could be. Down the far corridor there was the sound of machinery coming to life and around the hooded stranger the robotic assistants came to life and returned to the duties they had been assigned. And out in the corridor came the sound of voices and cold electric voice of the Director and with her was Dr. Ashmoore.

The stranger dropped the blue ball into the gunnysack it wore and moved as quickly as it could, though the pain was building in its chest and it could feel the faint trickle as it ran down the throat. The stranger was almost to the door when one of the robotic guards rose from its post and hovered into the area between the stranger and the door.

“Doctor Ashmoore and the Director are looking for you Doctor Fairchilde, shall I alert them to your presence?”

The stranger, still moving, smiled again as it moved past the guard.

“Oh, they’ll know I’ve been here soon enough, believe me.”

And the stranger was down the corridor and gone.

The robotic voice of the Director echoed through the corridors of the underground network and hearing her, all robots halted, all humans stopped what they were doing, and any mutants left in the tunnels as they made their way to the Outworld and their settlement stopped a moment, their blood running cold at the sound of her metallic rage. Dr. Ashmoore clenched his teeth at the sound but was used to her rages and bore them as an adult bears a spoiled child. Her scream loosed, she turned her mind towards the doctor and a solution. And as he turned to face her, he had to stop himself from taking a step backwards at seeing her. This once beautiful woman that had ruled the last kingdoms of Man who was no reduced to a series of electronic pulses and the remains of her face as it floated in pink liquid, grafted onto a robotic skull. She was a mind, a soul, a rage, and little else.

“Director, I…”

No. I want nothing more from you than results. This was not supposed to happen. Dr. Fairchilde was to have been removed from the program the instant he contracted the mutant strain. This is your mistake, and as such, you will fix it. I will not suffer a failure. Not now. The race is failing, the mutant strain has infected almost fifty percent of the population and that number is on the rise. The end of our species is coming doctor, so what are you going to do to make sure the future of our pure race is secure?”

It took not a moment for the doctor to speak, and as soon as he did, the doom of his words rang through all of the kingdom of Man.

“Release the giants!”

Dr. Fairchilde looked behind himself and saw the other four he had brought with him struggling in the heat of the desert. They were only three hours from the First Kingdom of Man, the capital city of the dying race, and he knew that they weren’t far enough yet. He hadn’t anticipated Ashmoore finding out he had been into the lab and had retrieved the formula, not this quickly. They were in a dangerous spot.

“Fairchilde…”

“What is it Roog, you might be best served conserving your energy. We have to make it to the mountains by nightfall and then must find a safe place to sleep until dawn. The mountains are filled with failed experiments.”

“I know, I know, but, but what we have been wondering, the four of us, is how you managed to get the experiment? Are, well, what we are asking is, are you sure you really have it? I mean, how do you know?”

“I know because it was my experiment. I created the Phoenix program and in fact created the Alpha code, which became called the Master code.”

“But…”

“But nothing. While working on the code, as Ashmoore labored on his precious robots, I also happened upon the origin of the strain that creates the mutations – it’s due to our diet, and the diet of the labor class. The food grown outside of the gates of the Kingdom is poisoned, the soil is bad, and unfortunately I contracted the disease when I discovered it. Ashmoore found out, having had one of his damned metal men spying on me, and I was removed from the program and placed in a cell until they could decide what to do with me. What they hadn’t realized is that I had put my own code into the system, and, at the precise moment, having said the sequence of words, I was freed and able to take the code.”

“But, but why? Can’t you stop the mutation?”

“No Cravix, it’s too late. The Director, against my wishes, has been bringing in food from outside the Kingdom’s walls, the gardens having been ruined within them, and so the strain will only spread. There is no stopping it.”

“But then isn’t it better to let this strain die and to use your code to start again?”

“We are on the cusp of evolution. We are meant to become what we are. The strain changes us, mutates us, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Man has had its time, and look what we did to this world. It is time for a rebirth, that is true, but it shall not be a rebirth of Mankind but of us, and our kind. It is time for the death of Man.”

And with that there was silence as the moon began to rise. They were at the mountains and the air turned frigid as they entered their long shadows. The five travelers stopped and four of them stretched themselves and huddled together to decide where to camp. One stood separate, muttering to itself, and if you looked closely, you might have seen a brief silver shimmer, though none saw this. There was something far more pressing. As the five stood at the base of the mountains, planning their course of action, there was the sound of something moving, and around them fell stones as something shifted high above them. Fairchilde had feared this and pulled the glowing rod from the gunnysack. Their journey could be over before it even began, and all he could hope was that the Master Code would be destroyed as well.

“All of you, all of you behind me…behind me.” He cried.

“What is it?”

“They’ve summoned their monsters…they’ve released the giants.”

END PART ONE.

…c…

Challenge

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Life is full of challenge. That’s what makes it interesting, to be sure. As a writer though, the challenges are different. It’s about finding publishers or keeping them. It’s finding sales, and keeping them. It’s finding an audience and keeping it.

The list can go on and on but, as a writer, sometimes the biggest challenge is just to find the story. I mean, it’s easy to have an idea, ideas are everywhere, but finding one that stays with you and which speaks to you and makes you want to see what happens next. Writing is all about finding those stories, those flashes of lightning, and bottling them. It is all about mining rocks and turning them into diamonds.

I had a bit of a challenge recently with a story that I wasn’t sure I wanted to write. I was given a lead for a podcast that a friend has been on and which is a good place to get your work out there. I queried the woman who runs the site and she was super nice and told me what she was looking for with the next season, which was tradition monsters, something I don’t really write. I mean, I have some zombie stories and ghost stories and all but, when it comes to traditional stuff ala the Universal Horror variety with your vampires, Frankenstein monsters, and the like, well, I don’t really have those. So I sent her a zombie story and she had one. I sat around and thought about a different kind, one that’d work, that would fit what she needed but was like, well, dammit, I just don’t feel this, so I bowed out.

Luckily for me, the woman with the site wasn’t read to give up on ME. She said to hang in there, presented me with some options, and I sat on it for a few hours before deciding to have a crack at it. So I started working on the piece with a definite idea in mind with what I wanted to write and what I wanted it to be. As I wrote though, it sorta changed. It became more straightforward, and more about the horror of this situation and less about a relationship I saw. I left the story at a crucial point late the first night I was working on it because I needed to get to bed and I needed to leave it at a place where I could move it around still. That night I went to bed with an idea, a germ that infected me and which changed the story and shaped where it’d go.

The next day I worked on the story until it was done and came up with something that really worked for me. It felt right. I sent it off immediately to the woman with the podcast and she happily accepted it. And me, I got to stretch some writing muscles I hadn’t used in a while. I hadn’t really pushed myself to make something work, to make it come together, and it worked. I took something I wasn’t passionate about and made it into something that worked.

It’s one of those things where, without the challenges you forget what you are able to do. They are not always fun but when you rise to them, they are always valuable.

c

E-Book Cummings

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I think that most writers these days have their minds turning from time to time to the subject of e-books. It is hard to deny that, knock-knock-knock, the future of the written word is here. Sure, it will take time for things to change over, and the book and printed word won’t ‘die’ for a good many years but the day is coming when books will be harder and harder to find. The fact is that this economy is probably pushing books out of favor faster than anything else.

Love them though we may, books are expensive, expensive to produce and expensive to buy. And in an age where most people believe that reading blogs and texts and tweets makes you well read, well, it doesn’t bode well for the future. As a writer I can attest to the fact that publishers are just not producing as much product as they used to. If you are not an established author, if you are not the next big thing, or if you are not selling a hell of a pitch you are just not getting published. And its a shame, its a shame that so many authors are being lost in the cracks.

Ah, but the internet. The internet opens a lot of doors and offers a lot of new opportunities. Sure, the ‘net isn’t ideal but if you are writing because you love to tell stories then you keep telling your stories. Hell, I know I would love to get published traditionally but the market just isn’t there for short stories and especially for dark short stories. So, I have my blog, I have my books, I have my chapbooks, and I keep working on getting stories out. But there is hope.

With e-books more people will be able to get their work out to the public and, as more people adopt the technology that can read e-book information and relay it, there will be more options for readers and writers. Fiction and Non-Fiction will not die, but it must evolve. The harder part will be figuring revenue for writers and providers that is fair and equitable. I mean, is a story worth less because it is digital and not physical? Hmm, I dunno. I know that we cannot make it too pricey or it will all be lost, at least temporarily.

I am excited for e-books because it is like going from a lake to an ocean – there is just so much to explore. The thing will be that writer’s will have to evolve. They will have to tell more interactive stories, and will have to make sure they are still telling stories worth telling, despite the works not being in print. Print will remain but will be kept for more artistic, classic, famous, or scholastic works. I can imagine that the independent presses that survive will adapt as well and many will find ways to produce some, though not many, print works. Just to stay different.

I love books. I always have. But it is silly to act as if we are not about to push heavily into e-books. It is inevitable. My hope is just that better tools are made to allow us to get more out of books and to at least echo what made books so special in the first place.

…c…

As It Stands – a story

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inspired by The Haunting of Hill House.

AS IT STANDS

It had her.

It had her.

It

Had

Her.

It was a simple truth but one which stood just as the house had, tall and straight and unwavering, and unwilling to bend. The house was a hard, cold, bitter truth, and it stood proud amidst the ruins of a dying city. The house, a child beneath the shadows of the other remaining houses on its block, had retained its eyes, its teeth, and its skin while all around it decay had set in. While the other houses had given up, this one refused. This one remained. This one, by pure will and an unwavering hatred stood. The first taste it had had of blood came when this city was thriving and this neighborhood was expanding to match the growth. It was a worker, a clumsy, drunk man named Malcolm who had gotten careless and had severed a finger with a table saw and that first taste was all it took. After that first taste the house needed blood.

Craved it.

And it did whatever it took to have it.

Suicide.

Murder.

Incest.

Rape.

These were the tricks it used. These were its weapons. It drew people to it and as soon as they made it their home it began lying to them, whispering to them in their sleep, and at their most vulnerable times. It was in no hurry so it would chip away at the people, day by day by day until finally their pedestals collapsed and the inevitable happened.

And then came the blood.

Ah, but when the city began to die, the people stopped coming, and the blood finally dried up. And in the darkness, the house raged. Its anger had set the houses to either side of it ablaze while the heat never touched the house itself.

The years passed the house slept, waking only to stop those that might harm it, then dozing again, dreaming of the people, and of a time when the people would come again. Ah, but then it had an idea, and the house woke with renewed life, and with a dark grin within its walls. And it called, called to the lost, the desperate, the alone, and especially to the children.

And they listened.

And they came.

One by one the children came, one by one they came to the house, which stood strong and proud amidst so many dead houses, a safe place away from their lives, their pain, their tears, and as soon as they entered the house they felt happy, they felt safe. And the house would nurture them, would love them, for a time, and then it would devour them, swallowing them whole and leaving nothing behind save for the echoes of their cries. It lived this way for many years, watching as all around it the world fell apart. The house knew an end was coming, but it was still a long way off, and it had its plan, it had its escape, but for now, now things were good. Things were good, and then came the girl.

Her name was Mary, and she wasn’t much of a girl, but the house didn’t see that, the house saw past her skin, past her age, and saw the little girl deep inside. She was taking pictures of the neighborhood, of the ruination of a once proud city, and the house, though it had fed but a week earlier, wanted her, and wanted her in a way that bordered on the sexual. So it called, and as the woman was taking pictures she stopped, stood up straight, cocked her head, as if hearing something, then turned to the house and smiled.
It had her.

It

Had

Her.

And within its walls it smiled.

The girl began walking towards the house and it felt that she was the one, the last one, then it would begin the Push, it would begin the Move. Brick by brick it would have them tear it apart, it would have them move it slowly, and it would take years, decades, but it would move, in the hands of the children, until it found its new home, but now, now it would be here. It would be this.

The girl, who hid in the body of a woman of forty, stopped short of the house though, going instead to her car. With the distant grin on her face the girl opened the trunk of the car and placed her camera in and then looked to be grabbing something, though the house couldn’t tell what it was and her thoughts were filled of faces, faces of a man and woman that seemed somehow familiar. She finally closed the trunk and her smile was wider and in her hand was a can.

A gas can.

“Do you remember the Milton’s, you awful, monstrous thing? Do you remember my mother and father? Do you remember my family? No, there have been so many over the years you don’t, do you. Oh, but you will remember them, just as you’ll remember me. I only saw you in photos they had sent me but when they died I knew there was something more. I knew they’d never do that to themselves. To each other. I knew there had to be something more. And there was. There was you. It took a long time but I found you. See, I am patient too, and I can be just as cruel. And my friend, I will make you Hell.”

The girl tipped the gas can forward and turned her back to the house and began leaving a trail as she backed her way towards the house. And the house screamed at her. And the house cast stones, and sticks, and broken glass at her and though her skin split open, her resolve did not waver.  On she came and the house creaked and grown, and in its rage its eyes shattered, in its rage its skin cracked, and in its rage its teeth fell out. It screamed and the houses that remained along the street burst into fire. The girl reached the houses steps and stopped, blood pouring from her nose and ears.

“I cannot be stopped monster. Didn’t you see, can’t you see – I am dying. I am dying and will take you with me. Are you ready?”

The woman let out a shrill laugh and started up the steps and then pushed the door, which stood open, in and walked inside as the house stood muttering to itself now, refusing to believe it can end like this. The girl disappeared into the home and now it was her laughter that filled its walls, and her whispers that filled its rooms, and in a matter of moments, it was by her hand that the last house standing on this street took to flame. And for one night, the world became Hell, and she the laughing devil at its center.

By morning there was only ash.

c