Thursday, December 27, 2012

...To Town

In continuation of yesterday's post. It's been fun!

The bag worked with magic. How much magic was left, he wasn't certain, but he could still pull gas cans out of it when he ran out of gas.Sometimes there was even enough magic to clear ravines and blown out bridges, but he wasn't going to chance it, not today. Avery was counting on him.

The sled was much faster, but he enjoyed the charger more. It offered a simpler driving experience, one that wasn't so nuanced as the sled. When NORAD began to track him, he had the elves make stealth panels to put on the sled. It worked for a little while, but the reindeer still showed up on radar. Now it was the charger, slower, louder, and bigger than ever. A few mobs were following him now, sprinting at break neck speed. Some of them actually lost their heads. Santa cracked his jolly grin, or as much of one he could manage. The burn scar that ran across his face, made it painful to smile. But there wasn't much to smile about any more.

He set the car to autopilot then, and turned around in his seat, hoisting the bag to the front passenger seat. He reached into the bag until he could find something worth while. Out of the sack came two IEDs and a string of grenades.

"Merry Christmas..." He laughed tossing the items out of the sunroof and out onto the road behind him. About a minute later, an orange light appeared in the distance behind him, followed by a crack like a gun shot. On his movement radar, he toggled the distance on the range finder. Most of the dots had disappeared,  except a few. but they had stopped moving.

After four days he arrived in New York, looking at the battered silent high rises that stood guard over the channel. They were empty and soulless, nothing showed on his motion detector. Bracing his mind he attempted to recall where the note came from. Taking him a bit to triangulate the origin of the vision, he found that it was near by, in a small boat house near the docks on the other side of the bridge. opening his car door, he stepped out, holstered his guns and dragged the sack behind him limply and began his journey down the bridge.

Santa wasn't afraid. He was never afraid. No animal on earth could scare him, except people. He had lived so long in the shadows, watching them grow from afar. He realized that to teach them the nature of goodwill toward men was a foolish idea. Jesus did a better job at that. When he stopped aging in Turkey, he took it as a sign and left everything behind, Theology, the children, everything to find his purpose. It wasn't until he turned up in Holland a thousand years later that he discovered that purpose. He found the sack, the reindeer and traveled North, far beyond Finland, until he reached the North Pole. And he liked it there. It was quiet.

At the end of the bridge, poised at the top of a large column, he saw a flickering light in the highest widow of the boat access. Quickly he hurried his pace, being careful not to be too erratic in his movements. Though it was a myth that zombies collected in major cities, he still didn't want to risk drawing attention to himself. Reaching the locked door to the tower, he reached into his sack and pulled out a key, unlocking the door, and running upstairs. The interior was in strangely pristine condition, everything set up to look normal, as if nothing had happened.

When he reached the upstairs, a lone solitary child of thirteen sat crouched down, huddled by a kindled fire near the window of the room. He was nearly skin and bones, like those pictures you see of African children. The deep circles around his eyes showed that he hadn't slept for sometime. He was probably scared of them. He needed to stay awake to prepare for them if they ever came. Santa looked down, and extended his hand toward Avery, who shrunk away into the corner in fear. Santa frowned, but them though of another idea. He reached into his sack and pulled out a Captain America action figure, mint condition, still wrapped and everything. Avery's eyes glowed, looking at the sack then Santa, and finally the toy.

"You're really him," Avery croaked, his throat sticky and dry, "aren't you?"

"Are you alone? Do you have any family?"

"No," Avery said, looking away with bittersweet eyes, "they left me here to die. You see, I was sick. They left me here. That was three weeks ago."

"I got your letter last year," Santa said, feeling confused, "if they left you only three weeks ago why did I come here?"

The boy sighed, pursing his lips in anger.

"This was our home, and they just up and left. They wouldn't take me, because I was sick. I wasn't even infected. I think it's pneumonia..."

Without a second thought Santa extended his hand in pity. This was no place for a child. Better that he stayed home with him and the dwarfs.

 "Well let's get you home," Santa said, with his crooked smile, "Golfang could use the company."

"You mean it?"

"Christmas came early this year kid, let's go."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Santa is Coming

A gift to you all for your support and readership! See the conclusion on Thursday!


“Ho, Ho, Hi!”

“Shut Up.”

Santa was ready. There wasn't much use for him after it all ended, when the world turned to ash. Without children there was no reason to go on. The elves parted ways, Mrs. Clause died of smoke inhalation, but Santa knew what must be done. A year ago that day he received a letter from Avery, nothing more than a hazy scrawl in charcoal across a piece of paper. He received the thought in the early morning, suddenly feeling the rage and sadness permeate his dream consciousness. He raised up in bed, gripping the cold iron gurney with sweaty hands and salt in his eyes. His scars burned that night, thirsting to seek vengeance for the wrongs that he could not make right. That night he vowed to change, to rise from the shadows one last time. For Avery, for the world. 

His armory was naughty, and his patience was gone. There was a time when the world was young, already ancient and eternal, when he would come down from the north to set things right. Those were darker times. Now there would be a new way of doing things. As the cigar burned down to the nub in his mouth he grabbed Prancer, his Benelli 12 gauge, waving it in the air like a sacred talisman. The crimson Kevlar vest no longer fit him, but it's snug feel around his belly felt reassuring and deadly.

When the volcanoes erupted, so did the bombs, and the world was laid waste to ashes. The reindeer died quickly, and after much grieving, Santa knew what had to be done.The dwarfs of Valinor owed him a favor and sent their crack team of technicians and artisans to his aid. The sled never flew again after Rudolf died. As Saint Nick held him in his arms, looking into the dopey eyes he wept, thumbing the Ruger in his holster. "Take the Shot," he thought. "It's the only way."

When Avery sent his note it was different. times had changed. Most of the zombified mobs had decayed into nothingness, giving the world back to the hands of nature and the animals. But they were still there, deep in the holds of the Earth. That was what Prancer was for. Turning behind him, Golfang was waiting for him. Time to turn on the sled.

"Ho, Ho, Hi"

"Shut up!"

The dwarf grinned and held up the keys, mischievously  as if it were a monkeys paw and something awful was going to happen.

"Bring it back in one piece," he said in a stern, cautionary tone. "Last time I had to change the fuel pump. Awful business that was."

"What do you think I pay you for?"

"You don't pay me a cent, even a gold bit or a jewel. No, you rip me off, all of us."

Santa, shook his head, frustrated and beside himself. He had no idea where to start. New York City burned in his mind. That was the place to look  first. He felt it in his gut. He brushed past Golfang and walked into the showroom. Varnished and immaculately displayed the first sled was tucked away in the corner. He didn't need air to ground missiles for that sled. Nor did he need riot gas, or turpentine, or even barbed sled treads. Pulling out the keys Santa walked past it, and unlocked the doors. He drove a charger now. the gas millage was awful, but he figured that he wasn't hurting anyone. Humanity was an endangered species now. Going out with a bang was the next best thing.

"Don't be gone too long," Golfang said lifting a pack into the back trunk, "this isn't a tank. In and out, flare, and you come back. Understand?"

Pulling the goggled over his face, Santa tossed the cigar out of the side window and threw his Ruger, Benelli, and M1 Garand onto the seat next to him. There was no time for talk. Avery was waiting.

"Don't wait up Golfang. Leave the cookies out for me. Christmas is coming to town."



To be Continued...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How to Write a Book Prelims: The Antagonist

On Tuesday we discussed the features and attributes of three types of protagonists. It was a lengthy drawn out process, but that is important. Protagonists define the direction of the story, but so do the villains. Luckily I will not go into as much depth today because writing villains is actually a little easier to understand when you have built your protagonist at the ready. Villains generally aren't just special because they are evil or working against the grain of society but it's because they posses certain characteristics that integrate them with the purpose of the Protagonist. Therefore you shouldn't write a villain to be evil for the sake of being evil. but they should have a link to the protagonist that makes them closely related. Once taking this into account we can write a villain through these possible angles.

The Hidden Villain:

In many a "who-done-it" detective fictions or even a scooby doo episode here or there, we are often enticed by the intrigue that comes from the plot, and the people involved, because the villain/sinister mastermind behind it all is hiding in plain sight behind the manifestations of his/her scheme. There are many mature ways to tackle this kind of villain, but I would have to say that my favorite outworking of this style of villain is Ozymandias from The Watchmen. A good villain of this category should have nothing to hide, and therefore commit the acts openly that are transgressive to the story. This is because the villain possess the audaciousness to believe his plan might work. Throughout the main plot, from killing the comedian to researching the genetic manipulation to create the space invader, Ozymandias was never openly hiding what he did. The trick was slight of hand. Every good villain of this class should be able to weave a vast maze of events that culminate in their victory. We will discuss how to do this once we get to the plot section of the series. The slight of hand maze that distracts the hero from the villain's true nature should cater to the intrigue of the hero until it's too late and the hero ultimately sees through the facade. Keeping up appearances here is the main key.

The Philosophical Villain:

A good protagonist will always produce a good villain. I think in many works of fiction, or even historical non-fiction, the villain can sometime steal the show, but that bothers me tremendously. Why is that the case? can goodness be only contextualized in the face of evil? As stories grow more post-modern and less conventional this seems to be the case. But the stories that last and persevere are the ones where the protagonist is truly loved, and the antagonist is truly conniving. That's why I like Sherlock Holmes. Moriarty is an amazing villain, because he is the philosophical opposite of Sherlock Holmes. Even further, what makes Moriarty so interesting is that he is the future of Holmes, the endgame when Holmes snaps or becomes what he loves to solve. They touched on this in the new Sherlock Holmes series pretty well. When Sherlock runs out of crimes to solve he begins to solve his own. This is an example of how plot can build both the villain and the protagonist. So this lack of boundaries makes the villain all the more compelling. Without barriers the villain potential get's maximized.

Antithetical Villain

You are probably wondering why I didn't include the Joker in the Philosophical villain category. Many think that the Joker would be a philosophical villain, but he actually isn't. I would say he's an antithetical villain. You see antithetical villains are more reactionary. They strike at whatever opposes the protagonist, and often exist in spite of the protagonist. The Joker would never exist if it wasn't for Batman. The chaotic villains that roam the streets of Gotham are there to strike against the physical manifestations of Justice, which would be the Batman. Moriarty, is a villain that exists independent of Sherlock Holmes. He is a looming threat that doesn't work in spite of Holmes but is intrigued, and acts as an evaluator for Holmes. The subtle distinction makes all the difference. The Joker operates out of a different motivation, that ultimately ends with the Batman's death. I think if Batman died the Joker would have nothing to do, whereas if Holmes died Moriarty would keep on doing what he does because he simply can. I think that is the primary difference.

Though the latter two are very similar  I think if you grasp the subtle difference between them, it can only improve your writing. You must remember that the villain is always secondary to a story. They will always work in tandem with the protagonist's development. If you become fixated on the villain and who he is, then your story will no longer be centered on the main protagonist, and therefore minimize the worth of the protagonist's actions. taking this into account is absolutely critical.

Next week we will talking about choosing a setting for your book. I'm looking forward to sharing my thought with you! See you then,

Happy writing!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How to Write a Book Prelims: The Protagonist

Å begynne på hjemme, på den hjerte, er beste...
When designing a narrative you would be surprised to know that when I write a book, or any work of short fiction, I start with the protagonist first, not the story or setting or anything else. You see, the function of a protagonist in any narrative is central to plot. The protagonist reacts to the setting, the characterless involved in the story, and obviously the villains. At the genesis of every plot, it is the protagonist that decides where everything is going to go. If your protagonist is thoughtful, by which meaning your protagonist that will react to a problem defensively, the plot may take the hero of the story down a guarded and inwardly cynical journey that is more psychological by nature. If the hero is reactionary, then the protagonist will act offensively when presented with a conflict in the book. They will be brawlers, or adventurer types that scoff and grin, and win the hearts of the readers. Obviously there are so many angles each route could take. I propose there are 3 types of protagonists. By no means are these exhaustive categories  I simply see the protagonist through these lenses.

The Thinker - Inward

Marlow from Heart of Darkness, or the unknown narrator of Notes on the Underground, would fit into this category. These are the kinds of the protagonists that cause us to question what occurs in the narrative. Can an inward, thoughtful narrator truly convey imagery that is unbiased? In the midst of trauma and loss, do they themselves hallucinate or suppress what they see to cope? These are very internalized heroes. They tend to be observers. If there is a fight in a bar they will not intervene, but simply watch and take in the scene. If they do introduce themselves into conflict it will be to prove their existence, to say, "here I am!" and not to simply assume the role of the hero. Concerning plot, they will contribute significantly in an intangible capacity. Like Marlow, they will assume the role as a foil to the nemesis of the story. They will grow in the story psychologically, as their perspective changes to assist the plot. To illustrate this I'll give you an example of what this looks like:

What can I do? That is the question that gnaws at my mind. I took my job at the Pentagon because I dared to dream of a future where the "bad" people are put behind bars. That was then. Now I sit behind a desk, stamping papers, wearing a wrist guard to keep my Carpal tunnel Syndrome in check. The "bad" people don't go behind bars. No. They are executed and buried somewhere, where the world can't find them. Behind my desk I see them. I see where they go. I watch as the Marine takes out his standard issue, and presses the barrel to his temple. I watch the body fall to the ground, into the shallow hole they dug, never to be seen again. I see it all happen in 9mm, and then I burn it, and I never see them again. 

Notice how the protagonist here is idealistic, or battles against the reality of his station. Protagonists always struggle against constructions of authority. Here, it is his identity as a government employee, and his disillusionment that he faces. He fulfills his purpose, but the justice carried out is not what he expected. In this case he will act in proxy. He will not be involved in action. That is not his style. He will act on the peripheral. His weapon is paperwork and systems. As we watch from the sidelines, we will see him contemplate his role as it changes.

The Talker - Conciliatory

When I say, "The Talker," I refer to a large category, but specifically I want you to think about a character who is put into a position where they feel uncomfortable. The previous category of protagonist would attempt to extricate himself either physically or psychologically from the situation and the next category we will look at would take an offensive position in the tenuous argument. Here we are in the middle ground, and where the most common literary characters reside. Chances are, it is this kind of hero that you will decide to work with. They are more malleable than Thinkers, and have a richer personality profile than Boasters. These are the Bilbo and Frodo Baggins and Arthur Dents of literature. Concerning plot movement, a Talker is actively involved, generally being enmeshed in the conflict that drives the story. Frodo carries the Ring of Power in The Lord of the Rings as this kind of character. He will still battle and face down evil, but it's not his primary mode. He is more prone to take an assessment of the situation, willing to act, but not set to jump into conflict at a moment's notice. Here's an example of such a character in action.
"You're a chicken! Chicken!" 
That stupid Davey thinks I won't do it. I've done it before! He looks stupid... like a squawking chicken! He bet me ten cents that I wouldn't ride the sled down the big hill behind Tommy's house. It's like, one of the biggest hills in the whole neighborhood. Before Daddy got on a plane to go shoot the bad guys, where they don't talk like us, and where funny clothes -- I hear their eyes are sown shut, and look different! -- he said that I shouldn't go down the hill. Uncle Mark got hurt real bad, one year and had to stay in bed, in the huge white building in the city. I think I can do it though. I've gotten a lot better. I wish Davey wasn't here though. I want to go down the hill, I really do. I think Daddy didn't want me too because he wanted to take me someday. But I can do it. I can do it and be strong, like Daddy.

This unnamed narrator puts us in a position of healthy balance between thought and action. Here the protagonist is a young child of either gender put in a position of growing up and taking on responsibility in the absence of their role model, in this case, their father. These protagonists are fluid to start with. They will change and be willing to change. They might be scared, or reticent to perform actions in the story that drive the plot but they have an awareness of their own development throughout the narrative.

The Boaster - Emboldened 

Last but not least, as the cliche goes, the Boaster is the most simple Protagonist to write. I would put the boaster as primarily being a secondary character in a narrative, but they can also have the main spotlight in any book. Boasters I feel are relegated to more simple literary forms like pulp fiction or serialized literature. They often will drive the plot forcefully through a narrative because they are simply active, or have a thirst to progress form their current predicaments. Guy Gardener comes to mind, the Green Lantern Corp bruiser from DC. He is impetuous and ready to act, while his personality is very rudimentary, his motivations for recognition and approval of his peers are very binary, and the reader understands this. Also Lobo from DC I find to be this kind of character. These are though characters! Escaping from this world, you would also find some of these in The Outsiders, but my favorite example is Gimli from Lord of the Rings. He's just fun and very ready to get into action. These characters will help you most if you supply one in a secondary position because they will be easy to leverage to move the plot along. Lastly, here's an example of this character:

"You think you are better than me? You don't do good at makin' this unappealing..." 
General Tei encircled me, holding a pair of brass knuckles, vintage from the 21st century. He loved antiques, especially those of human design. He hit me in the face, and feel some teeth come out. But it only makes me more mad. 
"What do you expect to get from me? I got nothing you want. Better that you let me go, so I can kill you." 
"Brave words for a deadman, Mr. Scott. I do not desire to take days off from my vacation to interrogate rabble-rousers and thugs. My family will be very disappointed!" After he shouts in my face he grabs the cuff of my fiber mesh tunic and hits me twice in the stomach, making me want to vomit.  
"Maybe I should talk, you know? Then I can distract you long enough to escape." 
"There is no getting out. You will succumb to this reasoning very soon Mr. Scott. Very few have lived long enough to tell other prisoners what we do in this room. But the Galactic Order still thinks that I am a peace loving general. I plan to be, and I am honored that you would select me to give your eulogy." 
"Is that right?" 
Stepping back the General nods, his arms akimbo and boasting. 
"What are you going to do? I should just leave you here to rot, and watch you die slow from hunger." 
"Well that's just not going to work..."  
"What?" 
"You see," I pause to hold up my hands unshackled, "I picked my handcuffs!"

Mr. Scott here could be anyone, but I decided to make him more of a secret agent, or an undercover figure. Bruisers I think at heart are arrogant, and very self determined. Therefore, these characters tend to externalize their actions. They like to talk and justify who they are to the reader and their enemy. They declare their existence by being subversive in the narrative and hold their ground in doing so.

This is definitely my longest post I have done thus far. But this should give you a well rounded idea of what to expect in the kinds of protagonists that you have available to you. Again, this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it will give you a solid frame work to go by when you write your first book. See you Thursday!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On Writing a Book: Fiction or Non-Fiction

After much preparation, I took my little hiatus from teaching to build a comprehensive workshop on what I've learned throughout writing my book, Spirit of Orn, and will compile it here for you all to see. I hope you enjoy it!

Writing a book of any sort is a long, worthwhile endeavor. If you indeed desire to write one, be it factual or fictional, the process will most likely take about 3-4 years for your first book. Because I've already gotten a handle on what to expect I suspect my next book will take about 1-2 depending on the demand the book subject places on me. This will be an introductory lesson. It will serve to inform you what to expect at the outset of your journey. Here, it begins with choosing whether or not you will write Fiction or Non-Fiction. 

Non-Fiction

Writing about factual events take time and lots of research. I have written in the past about this and suggest starting with preliminary historical research about the period, or the particular event of which you are writing about. I take it in three comprehensive levels: Global History, National history and Event history.

Global history pertains to the era in which you are writing. For instance, if you were to write a book about the black plague it would behoove you to investigate the late medieval period, and analyse the geopolitical topics that were being kicked around back then. Continuing with this example, you might want to account for the religious history of the Catholic Church during this time, as well as the relevancy to the later crusades in the holy lands that occurred some 50-70 years earlier. This will ensure that you have constructed a worldview pertinent to your book.

National history then consists of establishing the Socio-political and socio-economic climate of the particular region you are working with. So if you were writing about the Black death in France, it would be pertinent to include the displacing of generational land holdings from the Bourgeoisie and the emergence of a middle class due to the universality of death associated with the plague.

 Finally, the Event history will deal with the nature of the specific incident you are writing about. So if you wanted to write a Non-Fiction work about Pope Clement the VI, who reigned during the French-Avignon Papacy, you could write a dark humored novel about his life in seclusion, sitting between two pyres constantly kindled in his bedroom. As far as infectious diseases are concerned, this is why he survived, because the heat kept away the flea carrying pathogens. Through out this process the subsequent political intrigue will be quick to follow, so I wouldn't particularly bother with trying to come up with a particular "angle" on your approach to storytelling. It will come to you on it's own.

Fiction

We will deal with fiction primarily throughout this course, so I won't go into too much depth here. I will elaborate on the purpose of fiction and why you would consider it.

Really, in any writing discipline, the events you are describing either happened or they didn't. Concerning Non-fiction, I would say overall that Non-Ficiton titles are far easier to write because your characters are static and easily researchable. If anything, it is slightly time consuming. Research must occur in either mode of writing however, so fiction can be a bit more interesting. 

In fiction there is two phases of writing, Research and Crafting. This may seem somewhat self explanatory, but the basics are that during the research phase, your primary goal is to investigate different perspectives or approaches to fiction. I like to read certain authors personally, and apply their styles to the works that I write, but you could also consult paintings, songs, or any other style of artistic medium. The Crafting side of it is multifaceted. Suffice to say, this is where you build your characters and your settings, and your motivations. Throughout this course I will teach you how to do that, so stay tuned and you will get a very comprehensive overview of these things in the weeks to follow.

That's all I have to say right now, If you have any questions as always, or specific requests through this series please let me know and I will try my best to include them in the class!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

In Conclusion

This is the final part of a short story that I wrote last week. I will resume class on Thursday with a new curriculum. I am eager to start that up again, so I hope you all can join us for a new look on story telling!

"Detective fiction," Roy elaborated with an air of self importance, "that's what's hot with the kids these days."

I nod, scooting forwards in rapt in attention.

"Superheroes are played out." he paused while the waitress came by, passing a steaming plate in front of him.  Suddenly, his dull face brightened at the sight of the burger, nodding with appraoval.

"Let me know if ya' need anythin'." She winked at Roy. It was scandalous, she must have been only 22..

"With pleasure darlin'."

Slowly he reached across the table and grabbed a large jar of ketchup and began spooning it out onto his plate across the oily stain of french fries. I think sometimes people like to eat while they are talking, or they like doing something  anything. It makes them feel important, I'd say. Hell, smoking makes me look like a cassinova! It's all about atmosphere when it comes to being persuasive. Can't say I was really impressed with Roy's display of hunger though. I thought he looked like a real square.

"So what's your angle?" I interrupted. Midst his hungry ecstasy, Roy frowned and reached for a napkin to wipe off his face.

 "Why not start it out with an investigation? Capers always get the kids trapped in..."

"Yeah..." I mutter lazily. This was a waste of time, and Roy gathered as much, who shifted uncomfortably in his seat for a moment, setting down the burger onto the oil stain smeared across his plate.

"I'm no writer," he admitted dryly, "So why don't you enlighten me then? If you think you have what it takes to work for that joker Goodman then you don't have what it takes to work for me! Goddamn swamp monsters is all he has up his sleeves..."

"Okay." I feel the chill wrap around me. I can't blow this! I just can't. I'm not going to be another bum. My brain burns up trying to think when suddenly, like a light at the end of a tunnel it comes to me.

"Superhero detective, a masked vigillante could work. Imagine. He fights crime as a detective, you know? A real Sherlock Holmes that can fight crime against the mob and the baddies over here."

Roy's eyes widen, then look around stealthily. He set down the burger and leaned back in the seat with his arms out akimbo.

"Ricky-boy... they were right to tell me you were good. I want a name down on my desk by next Monday, If you can handle that. I springing for a new line this fall so I'll need a pitch and an artist soon. Don't make me regret this decision." He looks at me soberly, and I sit there feeling the weight of his offer come down on me.

"You got it boss." It's all I can say without choking. I'm not one for business talks. Never had a good poker face. I always get nervous and shrivel up inside. But I was smart though. Never sell the rights. Get in and stake your claim. That's they way I did it, and It's always worked since.

Roy wasn't there much longer. Within a few minutes the Burger was gone, and just another dirty dish. Before  he left he slid a card with his address to the waitress who blushed and hid it away in her blouse and got up, wiping his face and tossed the napkin onto the plate. He paid, of course.

After bidding good-bye I walked home, thinking about the idea I pitched. It was a good start but I had nothing to go on. It was one of the worst feelings to cold pitch a title. I hated it, loathed it. Remembering I still had the paper under my arm I check the headlines to see if there was anything good when out of the corner of my eye I see a shady figure start pursuing a young couple and their boy down a side street.

He moved with precision, like he had done it before. I already knew what was going to happen, especially when he pulls out a Colt .45, 101st Airborne standard issue. Probably down on his luck. Thankfully the mugging went smoothly. No one hurt, just a man bereft of his watch and wallet. I look at the kid who points helplessly in the direction of the man as he runs away. I felt helpless, like I would of at least got to a phone, but I didn't. I just kept walking. I was a coward, just like always. If things went ugly, what would have I been then? Probably an accomplice. The world didn't need more people like me. They needed heroes.

When I looked back I wondered what could of happened again, seeing that young boy in the street with his parents lying in the dirty snow, bleeding out like animals. A scandalous thought passes by, and I wonder for a moment what the boy could have become in the wake of such tragedy. It seemed like the stuff of legend, the passing from boyhood to manhood in a moment. But it was too rich, the idea. I stuffed my hands into my pockets and wandered away, into the snow. I thought about it the rest of the way home.

The End.    

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Short, Continued...

This is a continuation from Tuesday's short. Stay tuned for more!

I took the boulevard to it's end, looking out over the dirty water churning in the Kill van Kull. So much of it was what I imagined when Master Rich made in to the Sudetenland and fought Kraut Terror, stealing the super soldier serum from the SS before they could turn out a legion. I loved Harry's inking on that one the most. I hunched over his head and told him, "Yeah, a little more on the foreground  I want the yellow to make it all jaundiced, you know, like those dirty Japs across the pond."

Can't say "Dirty Jap" anymore. Politically incorrect they say. I didn't blow up the Harbor. They did.

I let my hand fall to my side and remembered I had a watch strapped to it. 11:30am. Time to meet Roy down at the malt shop. Or was it a dinner next to the malt shop? Jesus Christ! Who does he think he is? Who does he think I am? I'm not ten anymore.

When I open the doors I see him there in the back seat of what looks to be a 1940 Ford Deluxe V-8. Who ever owned this place was on to something. 

"Hey Rick," he says, still fixed to his paper, "How are the kids?" When I say I don't have any, he takes a long breath, probably wondering if he's at the right meeting, and takes a sip of his black coffee. "Oh, right..."

He came to tell me he wanted to make a deal. I had no future and he had no writers. Our mutually beneficial relationship was something that I hoped to profit from. I had it all very worked out in my head you see. Roy had this reputation of being very shrewd when it came to hiring people. He was a numbers guy. He wasn't concerned with the writing quality at all, you see. If you could move the product, entrance the little boys and girls and make them pay hand-over-fist for the next issue, you were golden. That's how it worked. He was probably reading the stock exchange. Poor bastard bought up Ford like it was cheap taffy back in the mid-20s I have it on good account that he's still recovering from his losses. 

"I hear you can write Ricky-boy." He folds the news paper, with a face that's bored to tears. "Tell me what you have for me?"

"I got a story about radioactive monsters." It's the first thing that comes to mind. When I see his eyebrow twitch I scramble to elaborate. "The bomb, you know? Ever since the thing blew and the people hear about the sickness and all the radiation, why not spin it to give you super powers? Then you get all the guys in tights to fight them. It would be brilliant."

"Already got guys in Japan doing that, Ricky-boy. Gotta change it up."

Pausing he takes a long look at me. I wonder if he's regretting meeting me. Did my pitch really grab his goat? Or is he just being nice now. The slow trickle of nervous sweat begins to run down my spine. This is my livelihood  and I put all my bones on the horse with polio. 

"How about this? The Commies right? what if we make them evil you know? We could be ahead of the game. They are all mysterious over there, probably plotting against us, just waiting for a slip up. Issue #1, a splash panel with Master Rich sneaking into a meeting. There he overhears a mercenary being inducted into Stalin's inner circle. His name is Red Tide, and he's a sea merc."

Roy waves his hand to stop me right there. That still, muted face hasn't changed a bit. Suddenly his lip curls into a cool grin and leans back into his chair. It's not a good grin, at least I don't think it is. It's the same Kraut Terror gave to Modern Marvel in the double cross from issue 36, when he pulls out his combat knife and comes at him from behind. 

"Evil Commies, that's your plan?"
I nod. What else can I do?

"Make them here. No more more super-capers. You're detective fiction now."

Noir? Really? I hate Noir. Now what am I gonna do...

To be Continued

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Taking Leave & a Short

I'm taking a break from teaching for the next two weeks. I figure that because school is out maybe I can have a little fun and write a few short stories to post here. This one I wrote a little while back. I hope you enjoy it!

There's not much I can do anymore to inspire them. What is there to do when peace time has suffocated crime. I never realized how much I depended on them, my villains. But that's the business.

I took my coat off the peg and walked out of my office. Looking around most of the staff was off, on account of the war and all. The day of victory was still sublimating in the quarters that haven't gotten the best morsels of the story yet. We won, but I lost. Who does Master Rich fight when there isn't a Nazi around swinging his weight? My partner Steve told me that it was over. Time to get a desk job and slough off the mortal coil. Get in while the GIs are still out. He went to Pennsylvania somewhere. Took a position entering data on these punch cards they say the code breaking machines used during the war. All I want to do is write comics.

I remember the way they looked at me when I told them that Master Rich was going to team up with Modern Marvel, take the war home with Kraut Terror at their heels ready to strike. It was a good issue. Sold almost 12 thousand copies on the east coast, and more on the west. They never really got much of the war. They were too busy not fighting one. The Japs gave their GIs a run for their money. It was romantic like our fight, the good one.

I left the Gothic archway of my corporate center shivering, looking for a cigarette in my pocket. It gets so cold here now, not like it was in the Depression. Back then we could open a fire hydrant and go nuts. With rationing over, I think people will start driving again. We'll have to walk into our homes, turn on the TV and stop living again. Lucy down the street didn't care much for it. Her life was the radio. I still can hear the low-fi humming in my ear, and the crackle of the vinyl. Master Rich had a player in his home too. I remember issue 14 when he had to steal a vacuum tube from it to open his secret door to his lair. Mad Martha stole it the previous issue, and while they were searching his house, he secretly went in and took it out. He was able to get into his private reserve after all. He kicked down the door and blew her away. At least that's how it went down in my head. I can't kill anyone on paper. The Authority doesn't take kindly to that.

Don't know what to do anymore without the Nazis. They were the best. Foreign and organized doesn't get much better than that. It's orientalism at it's finest, especially when they can hide in a crowd. Comics have no future without them. As I take a nickle out of my pocket and hand it over to the newsman I take up the paper, look to the sky, and wonder if he's up there, flying around, Master Rich I mean. He was always a flyer, all the way back in issue #1.

To Be Continued