Prelude

He touched her picture once through his fatigue shirt pocket as he finished checking his gear, the plane’s engines lulling him into a state not quite sleepy, but not quite alert either. The last order of business was the freshly oiled and loaded Thompson that he unslung from his shoulder. He gave the weapon a once over before replacing it around his neck. His .45 automatic side arm was safely ensconced in a left belt holster. It was dark outside the Skytrain’s windows, the people below using their blackout curtains to their full effect.

The craggy and scarred face of his platoon sergeant broke through his reverie. “Five minutes to Drop Zone, LT.”

He nodded, standing up as tall as he could in the cabin. He swallowed hard, clearing his throat to get attention. “Troops, listen up. We have a job to do so let’s get it done. The sooner we finish, the sooner we go home.” The overhead lights blinked once, then twice. “On your feet.”

He gave his parachute one final check as his sergeant opened the plane’s door. A whistling wind entered the cabin, teasing them with promises of glorious victory…or agonizing defeat. He stepped forward and placed his hands on both sides of the doorway and took a deep breath. Now or never, Virgil, he thought.

He pushed himself through the doorway and into the black.

Story Time

Note: I gave myself two choices for this particular installment:

1) Write a really snarky piece poking fun at stupid things that defy Common Sense.

Or

2) Tell a story.

Without further ado, let’s have a story that’s completely free written with no planning or commercial interruptions…

He stood by the railing, the dark red glow of his cigarette pointing toward the ocean waves moving below. Sally loved taking cruises and he tolerated them so long as there was an adequate supply of Dramamine available. He shook his head as he smoked quietly, one hand holding the polished wood for security as his stomach fought to contain the overpriced buffet that threatened to make a break for it. Communing with the evening dark seemed to be his only solace on this particular trip.

I should have said no, he sighed, tossing the cigarette butt overboard. Sally was always the more adventurous one, pulling him along for one adventure after another. He’d dodged bulls in Barcelona, watched whales in Dutch Harbor, and logged more hours on ships than his entire time in the Navy. Retiring from The Service was supposed to be restful, but as he approached 40, he felt that circumstances were conspiring to steal away the time he had earned. He had no real complaints regarding his wife. She was as sweet and loving as the first day they had met. She was also a powerhouse personality that unless he checked her frequently, would run over him like a bulldozer. But I didn’t and that’s where I am now.

He considered lighting up another smoke, but an insistent beep from his suit jacket dissuaded him. Sally was texting him, asking when he was coming in for the night. He answered the text with ‘soon’ and slipped the phone back into hiding.

Death Call

Simon Le Noir stood defiant as a minor official read the charges. They had taken his armor and sword away, leaving him in drab peasant rags as serfs stacked wood at his feet. Even his beloved horse, France’s king had prevailed upon The Pope to brand him and his fellow Templars as heretics and had chosen to burn them at the stake. Heresy, he spat. The King had eagerly taken loans to fund his war against the Arabs and now that it was time to repay them, he had reneged. Oh, if only I had my sword, he thought. Phillip the Fair indeed.

His group, 30 strong, were brought to the public executions in Paris, where a festive atmosphere had settled over the proceedings. A sympathetic guard had allowed him to secrete four small bags of herbs that he explained would cleanse his soul as it departed for the afterlife. At least, that was the story he stuck with as his bonds were tightened around his wrists and feet. He had cut his dark hair short and trimmed his beard in preparation.

A cardinal, wearing his finest clerical robe, made his way down the line of prisoners. At each stop, he asked each condemned man if he wished to renounce his Templar Oath and beg forgiveness. To their credit, his offer was not accepted. Le Noir was the last in line.

“Simon Le Noir, former Marquis of Saint Lazane, do you wish to renounce your heresy and beg forgiveness for your crimes? The King has offered a full pardon and release into exile if you accept. How plead you?”

Le Noir looked down at the cardinal. “Where my brothers lead, I shall follow. The King will get no satisfaction from me this day.”

“As you wish.” The Cardinal made a hand gesture and torches were laid to the wood piles. Rain clouds formed overhead, but even their gentle downpour did little to stem the hungry flames as they feasted.

Le Noir felt his clothes catch fire, then the pouches tied around his waist. As their contents were consumed by the fire, the smoke that arose took on a blue and white color. He struggled against screaming as he heard and felt his flesh sizzle. The smoke thickened around him and he felt his bonds loosen. As the last bond fell away, he felt hands pull him backward as chaos fell upon the ceremony. The rough floor of a wagon met his back and a pair of horse whinnies signaled the escape.

“We are taking you to a ship that will get you to safety, My Liege.” A voice whispered. “We will go on.”

The Night Shift

When Bobby walked through the automatic doors holding a bloody cloth against his face, Frank Tamborino knew he was in for a good story. It made sense actually since the Delores Cove ER was having one of its slowest nights in recent history. His break was almost over and after crushing out his cigarette in a nearby ashtray, he pulled his stethoscope from a pocket and clipped it around his neck before following through the doors. He stopped as a nurse helped Bobby into a wheelchair.

“Take him into Three, Jolene,” He said. “I’ll handle him myself.”

“Are you sure, Doctor?” She asked. “Doctor Phelps is on call tonight.”

Tamborino smiled and nodded. “It’s okay. I’ve spent too much time in my office going over hospital budgets and supply orders. Doing what I’ve trained for is good practice.”

“As you wish.” She pushed the wheelchair into an examining room and pulled the curtains closed behind her.

He allowed a few minutes to pass before receiving the patient chart and going in. After he closed the curtains behind him, his smile faded and the inevitable head shake started.

“Bobby, what the hell have you gotten yourself into this time?” He slipped on a pair of latex gloves and then double-checked the vital signs.

“I went out to the Kingston Protest.” Bobby replied, his words garbled by swollen lips and a gash across his right cheek. “Someone had to represent.”

Tamborino loaded up a syringe with an anesthetic before threading a surgical needle. “Bobby, this activist thing you’ve been doing is making a mess out of you. I highly recommend that you either take a break for a while or at least learn how to dodge a blow or two.” He made a few injections around the wound site and waiting for the shots to take effect. “What did you catch this time?”

“Maglite to the face,” Bobby mumbled. “Big one too. Security Guard put his hands on me and I wasn’t having that. Okay, so I was trying to climb the fence and he and his buddy pulled me down. Still, no excuse to put their hands on me.” He grinned in spite of the pain. “That fat ass will be pissing blood for a while though. I got a few good shots to his cojones before they clocked me and tossed me off the property. Then I came here.”

“I wouldn’t be so proud of that.”

Bobby flinched as he watched the sutures pull the edges of his wound closed through a nearby mirror. “That’s always been your problem, Brother. You took the straight and narrow path. No making waves, no causing problems. You lack the courage to do what’s necessary to make changes in the world. I am an activist.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Oh yeah? What have you ever done to make the world a better place?”

“Look around you. Every day in this hospital, I help sick and injured people get better. Your short-sightedness has always been your particular problem. Don’t assume that I don’t do my part,” Tamborino said. “Keep your damn voice down. If anyone figured out that you’re my brother, I could get in a lot of trouble for doing this. Now hold still.”

Seconds ticked by before the sutures were tied, cut and a bandage applied over them. Tamborino wrote out a prescription on a pad and handed it to Bobby. “Follow the instructions and if you have any problems like blurred vision, let me know.”

Bobby struggled to his feet. “What about the bill?”

Tamborino sighed. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it. Now, go home and tell Mom that I’ll call her later.” He put an arm on Bobby’s shoulder. “Try to stay out of trouble for five minutes, okay? I don’t want to see you end up on a slab downstairs. You’re a smart kid. Use that head for something other than a hat rack.”

Bobby nodded and left.

He finished up the paperwork and attached a check for Billing. The clock on the wall read three more hours until the end of the shift but for Frank Tamborino, it wasn’t going to end soon enough.

The Journey Onward

I had an urge to do some free writing, so here’s something to brighten up your Wednesday. Enjoy. 🙂

His tears mingled with the wet sand as he knelt, pounding his fists until he had nothing left inside of him. They did it? They actually did blew it up and now he was marooned far away from the world he knew. There was always a part of him that hoped that his cynicism toward Mankind would be proven wrong, but as the broken monument loomed nearby, he was forced to accept the terrible realization.

He ripped a scrap of cloth from the rags across his waist and used it as a handkerchief to wipe the last of his grief away before throwing it away. After all, his world had been destroyed and what was the point of caring for the environment now?

His companion sat on her horse, watching him with confusion. She had never known any other existence. Her head jerked around behind them. The sound of a horn carried over the wind. They weren’t far behind. She grunted to him and pointed.

“I know,” He said as he adjusted the rifle slung across his back before climbing back onto his horse. “They’ll always be a few steps behind us.” He tightened his grip on the reins and urged the horse forward. Despite his grief, he gave the monument one final look as they passed by.

“Come on, Nova, we need to find more answers.”

The Story Idea, Part 2: Putting Flesh on The Bones

The first Story Idea article had a nice response so here we go with the next step in the process. This is how I do it so you’re under no obligation to follow it. It’s simply what works for me.

You have your original amazing, super-fantastic, going to blow the doors off the Industry, Idea, but it’s not a story yet. Fair enough, all stories start out as ideas.

So, what now?

We’re discussing World-Building now. After all, you have to build the house before you can live in it and it is no different with stories. I’ll incorporate Characters into this equation later so for now, let’s focus on the Story World. How do we begin?

Here are a few helpful suggestions to get you started. These can be used in no particular order so go nuts:

1. Ask yourself what kind of world is the Story set in. Earth, Venus, The Milky Way, Somewhere over the Rainbow? (hey, it can happen…hehe) The point is that you have to start developing a framework in which to populate your characters. A good way to do this is to ask yourself some basic questions: Where do the characters live? Where do they work? Where do they play? As you can see, there are a LOT of potential questions that you can ask yourself and they are ALL valid. It may not seem so at first but for every question you answer, you reduce or eliminate future problems that can lead to Writer’s Block.

2. Write down descriptions of the distinctive sights, sounds, smells, whatever, of the world you are building. They are important because they act as guideposts for the reader to navigate by.

3. Time. The time period that the story is set in has a huge influence on the Story’s Plot. A Story set at the Dawn of the Industrial Revolution will use different elements than one set in the distant future unless of course you do one of those Apocalyptic type of stories where everything gone to Hades and is broken, mangled, burnt and getting ready to take that final plunge down the proverbial tubes. Note: If you do spring an Apocalypse, consider putting it at the end of the Story. Blow up the World, not much after that unless you have a couple of astronaut apes using time travel…hehe.

4. Consider carefully the Genre you will be writing in. I know I’ve said in the Past that Genre is most important when marketing your Story/Book, but in the initial stages, it’s important because it helps when selecting the construction materials your world is built with. Science Fiction would use things like plastic, sheet metal, rivets or welding, while Fantasy would be more like thatched huts, wood screws and lots of rope.

5. Develop a feel for how the Society operates in this world. Is it a dictatorship? Communist Fantasy? Democracy? Don’t obsess about Politics, just get an idea for yourself how things are run. Even an Anarchy or Feudal System can work. Remember, it’s YOUR story.

These are merely suggestions based on opinion and we all know that wonderful saying about opinions…hehe. The only rule that I want to stress here is HAVE FUN WITH IT. When we enjoy something, we tend to put our best effort into it. Writing is no different.

Now get Writing. 😉