The Secret of NaNoWriMo, Writing, and Such

What?

What time is it?

Yeah, I’m sleeping out of my car! It’s great! Why? You want to fight about it?

You can shower in the rain.

You can eat with the pigeons.

And you can really feel the heart of the city when you sleep in their Wal-Mart’s parking lot.

What? No, I don’t know what date it is.

That’s literally the only downside of living out of my car.

No calendars.

NaNoWriMo?

320x486
Dealing with this handsome schmuck and his stupid events to promote literacy and the arts in the world again. Yeah, I know I’ve used this pic before.

Oh. Oh.

‘Tis the season!

‘Tis the season when all of us and our granddaddies are writing about mundane and over juiced writing tips, tricks, and unwarranted life advice for that sweet, sweet Internet traffic.

Because we are all successful, professional, knowledgeable writers who care about the youth and the other budding talents in the field.

STOP WRITING J. K. ROWLING.

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The Nefarious British witch who caused your book to not be picked up, for that movie deal to not be given to you, and why you’re now living as a struggling writer after your poor life choices. She’s the source of all of your problems.

WHY ARE THERE STILL HARRY POTTER MOVIES COMING OUT.

I DON’T CARE IF HARUMYONEE IS BLACK, LAOTIAN, OR GENDER CONFUSED.

DON’T YOU KNOW WE HAVE OUR OWN CHILDREN TO FEED? YES, I DON’T HAVE KIDS YET BUT I MIGHT IN THE FUTURE.

What?

That’s dated and unnecessarily socially charged references?

Hold on. Let me get in my best sweatpants and rain jacket to get to a McDonald’s for their free Wi-Fi.

Come on daddy’s gotta sparkle. Daddy’s gotta make a buck!

eh-hem!

Hi, I’m A. S. Aramiru and you may know me from my previous works such as:

and the latest hit:

As you can see, I’m a successful, professional, knowledgeable writer who’s qualified to give you some tips and tricks for this upcoming writing adventure. Something you can carry with you for the rest of your life.

Because I care about all of you fellow writers out there and especially you writers who’re just starting to create their first baby.

So, get your hot cup of water, tomato ketchup, the free pepper packet ready for a nice little soup for your writing soul.


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They wouldn’t give me pepper packets. I was already getting weird looks for asking for these and taking a bunch of pictures.

There’s a lot of tips that circulate amongst writers.

And to be honest you’ve probably heard them all already because they’re regurgitated and recycled over and over.

  • Just write.
  • Make a plot line.
  • Don’t get too attached to your first draft.
  • Take criticisms.
  • Etc.

And those are great tips. That’s why they’re regurgitated and recycled over and over. They derive from universal truth that can only improve your life:

  • Do your tasks.
  • Strategize your tasks.
  • Hone your skills.
  • Take in other perspectives.
  • Etcetera.

But there’s a great concern I’ve had lately when I see a lot of other want-to-be creators.

You see, my fellow thespians, scribes, and charlatans, it’s far too easy to see other people’s talent and work these days with Google, Youtube, Instagram, and etc.

And usually we only seee the end result.

But it’s rare to see the process. Especially, the honest portrayal of the process.

The most important part.

The ugliest part.

The part we all need to appreciate a lot more.

Because you hear about it, you imagine it, but it’ll always be a little romanticized in a lot of people’s minds even if they’ve struggled elsewhere before.

We assume it’ll be so much easier than it actually is. We have the confidence in our minds because we’ve seen others do it.

Why not me?

I bet it wasn’t that hard.

He’s just talented so I bet it was easy for him.

999,999 / 1,000,000 of the times, it wasn’t.

It was a fight. It was a personal war. It feels like an exaggeration but it’s not. The struggle will consume you.

But that’s what makes it awesome.

You see the sexy pic on Instagram.

sexy5
Fun note: I was naive and Googled “sexy animals”.

But what you didn’t see is the once skinny, fat, regular guy/gal, working their ass off in the gym, thinking about giving up more than once, sacrificing a lot of for-pleasure meals, paying for a lot of cycles, and taking a lot of pics until they got that perfect one to post.

You listen to that awesome song.

But what you don’t hear is the countless combination of notes that weren’t good enough to make the cut even though no one else would know the difference.

You read that next best seller novel.

But what you didn’t read is another one of these offensively cheesy parallel examples of what I’ve just reiterated twice already above.

Everyone wants to reach the summit but no one wants to do the climb.

No one wants to risk the time, the effort, and their lives. No one wants to feel that lack of oxygen, the burning muscles, and the sense of desperation that you may never make it to the top and maybe you won’t make it back home. I’m talking about writing still.

But there’s nothing more beautiful and important than the struggle.

When you make it, that’ll be the most powerful memory that you have of your journey. The pillars of what made the achievement memorable.

When you make it, it’d have been the most important part. The only part that you can really pass on to others for their benefit.

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From Vagabond by Takeshi Inoue. Chapter 109.

That’s the secret of NaNoWriMo. It gives you a way to appreciate the process and not just the end. I appreciate the event for making the goal the struggle. And I totally got the title of this blog off the SEO generator again but found this kickass way of just tying it all off in that #trending bow.

That’s why I make the big bucks.

Writing will suck at times.

You’ll get stuck.

You’ll hate what you’ve written.

You’ll regret the time and the effort you’ve spent.

And you’ll feel like you’ll never make it.

But as long as there’s a breath left in you, you can make it if you actually want it.

If you don’t want it, just move on.

Time’s finite. Do something worthwhile for you.

But at least start something. Start the struggle.

And then learn to embrace the struggle.

There’s really nothing else more worthwhile in life. Because it’s the crucial, and the not so secret, ingredient of what is worthwhile.

*sip*

I wonder if honey mustard packets will make good soup

*sip*

Did you guys like the clickbait title? It worked last time. The irony.

Haha, what kind of desperate scumbag would sell out like that, right? Just randomly insert things to boost visibility?

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I don’t like getting political in these blogs but I really have to say this. JFK did not deserve to be shot.

#bitcoin #CristianoRonaldo #Grindelwald #JohnGreen

Did I mention I have an audiobook coming out of the BOOK I’ve written so many years ago that I should have really written another one out by now?
Haha, I mean it’s not like selling out and calling himself out on it in a roundabout way makes anything better. So who would do that?

#ASAramiru #TaylorSwift #NaNoWriMo #SEO

Ok, I have to go now. McDonald employees say I have to at least buy something if I want to keep using their Wi-Fi.

*sip*

Time to put on my cardboard sign and get back to my imaginary car.

The sign reads:

“You think I’m joking, but most writers would live like this if they lived only off of their writing earnings”



Seriously. Don’t write for the money. Don’t plan on it to be your income. Unless you’re copywriting.

“Why can’t you just take a helicopter up to the summit?” – Editor

“Shut up.” – Me

ARAMIRU OUT (3, 2, 1, カモーン!)

If you liked what you’ve read, make sure to click SUBSCRIBE or FOLLOW!
Twitter: @ASAramiru
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ASAramiru

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The Devil & Me (Finale)

Previous Episodes:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4



21 Years and 2 months

 

There’s no such thing as a dull love story to those who are in it.

They had met in an ethics class at their university.

The first date was at a Thai restaurant close to campus.

It was a rocky tumble into love. Neither of them was what they imagined their spouses would be.

Their first kiss was in the car after their second date.

They married on a spring about two years after and had a child by the winter.

A girl.

The girl grew up in the reverie of her childhood where she dreamed many dreams.

A dream of an occupation that she saw as her fairy tale.

A dream about a husband that’d be her prince.

And a dream about a family that’d be her happily ever after.

The tomorrows came slow, but the yesterdays piled on quick. Before she knew it, the child had already realized many things she had imagined and dreamed. And she had long forgotten or abandoned many that she didn’t.

But all of these were the threads that made her no longer a child.

Perhaps the child-her wouldn’t approve of the venue for the moment she once dreamed of.

She may also not approve of the soon-to-be husband that was supposed to be her prince.

But what does a child know?

This was better than anything that the little girl could have imagined because all of this was real. And she and her soon-to-be-husband had traveled their own journeys to get to this moment, right here and now.

A small, unspectacular room with a TV and a bed. There surrounding Suzie and Jay were their closest friends, parents, and a minister.

The silky sunlight seeped through the curtained windows.

Flower petals blanketed the room. They’ll have to be cleaned up sooner than later.

There were tears. There were waves of laughter. It was humble but a heartfelt ceremony to celebrate the union of the young lovers. A story no one else would know. No one else would care. But no one else needed to know. And no one else needed to care.

“Beautiful,” Satan muttered to Beelzebub. “Absolutely stunning.”

The two devils stood outside the room and peeked through the small rectangle window on the door.

Beelzebub watched as Suzie’s father helped her stand next to her soon-to-be husband. Her shaven head covered with a snow-white gown.

Surrounding the devils were a few nurses who were oblivious to the otherworldly beings. The nurses sniffled and held back tears as they stood by just-in-case or until they would be needed.

“You should be happy,” Satan remarked. “This is all because of you”

Beelzebub had no response. No emotions. He simply peered with a dead gaze.

“I feel you don’t have the heart for this anymore,” Satan went on. “I don’t think you believe in what we do anymore.”

A bait of sorts, Beelzebub figured. He stared at Satan in his form of an aging man who’ve relaxed a bit too much on his landbound boat. A shrine of beer bottles piling somewhere.

“Remind me. What are we doing again? Specifically, why are you here?” Beelzebub sharply asked. “Are you out of work? Do you need a temp job? Shoo. You’re classing the place up.”

“I’m here to make sure you bring her home. To finish what you started. Keep your special child with us and away from Him,” Satan spoke gently with a soft smile.

Beelzebub chuckled.

“What do you think that I started? What do you think happened here?” Beelzebub looked deeply into the dead eyes of the devil.

Satan searched for his words a bit.

Suzie kissed her now husband. There were cheers. And as if the moment was already due to be faded into the past, the nurses scurried in and with the attendants cleaned the room.

That. You made that happen,” Satan remarked. “Just a merry-go-round from one moment to the other. But you gave her a moment that’ll define her eternity. No matter what your intentions were you decided that moment for her.”

The door opened. With the nurses, the attendants begin to leave one by one.

A man stopped in his tracks and buried his face into his hands.

“Why,” the man broke into tears. “Why our girl?”

“Stop. Hold it together,” A woman tugged on his arm. “Don’t let her see you cry. Let our daughter have this.”

An almost eerie silence engulfed the hallway as the room emptied. Only the newly married couple remained. The husband sat on the bed next to his wife and held her hand. They whispered to one another. Hugged. Kissed. Whispered some more. Their faces lit with a special smile saved only for the moments of true peace. The couple embraced again until the husband stood to leave. She stared at him as he headed for the door. He held the door open and stood there for a moment to stare back at his wife. She nodded to let him know that it’s okay. He closed the door behind him. He waved on the other side of the door window. She waved back and then stared even long after the husband had disappeared from sight.

Her world began to spin. Nausea. Fatigue. She crumbled into her bed.

After retching, Suzie couldn’t help but laugh.

How ludicrous. She thought.

How selfish. She chided herself.

Marrying someone in this condition.

She was happy and yet gutted.

“You’re the one who will take credit for this. But allow me to show you the grace of finishing the work,” Satan gently placed his hand on Beelzebub’s shoulder. “You can be there to greet her when she comes home.”

Suzie ran to the bathroom. The little she had for breakfast gone with a flush. She clung onto the toilet bowl with barely enough strength to keep her head from dunking into the water. A small regret came over her that she asked to be left alone so that her husband could see the family off and grab a small meal for the two of them. But even in these worst moments, there was a comfort that she was alone through it for once. No one else’s sorrow, pity, and well-being weighing over her.

As she managed to take the few steps back to her bed, Suzie saw him. The devils were and are still angels. Divine beings had a comforting presence even as a surprise. Satan had shed himself of the old man from Burbank retiring to Florida look. He was now somewhere between the ideal image Suzie had of her husband and a father figure.

Something she may have imagined from her childhood.

“Hello,” He spoke calmly with a soft smile.

“Hi,” Suzie crawled into bed. “You’re not him are you?”

“Who?” Satan pointed up. “Him?”

“Of course not,” Suzie laughed. She coughed. Then laughed some more. Satan laughed with her. “I’ve given up on Him doing a damn thing about anything a long time ago. Then again, maybe it says a lot more about me that I’m getting visits from the devil.”

“You’re not Beelzebub,” Suzie said as she pulled up her blanket. “He’s too chicken shit to come see me I think.”

“Perhaps,” the man graciously smiled. “Or perhaps he would be in too much pain to see you like this.”

“So, chicken shit. And so who are you, good sir?”

“I won’t insult your intelligence. I am his brother—”

“And you want my soul or something right? Then I can live? Be happy?”

“You’re sharp.”

“Uh huh. Beelzebub! Get in here!”

Startled only for a moment, Satan gave a defeated smile.

“Beelzebub! You chickenshit! Beelzebub! If some asshole’s going to take my soul it should you, you piece of shi—”

“Boo.”

Beelzebub appeared beside Suzie.

“I’m dying! You stupid ass—” Suzie yelled before succumbing to violent coughs.

“Hey. I’ve been well. Y’know,” Beelzebub drabbled on. “Work’s work. Life’s fine. How are you? Yes. How’s cancer? You don’t look so good. Must not be so good, huh? Yeah, that cancer thing. Kind of a doozy.”

Suzie dug deep and found the energy to give Beelzebub the finger.

“I think you can go now,” Beelzebub shooed the other devil with his hand. “I got my girl.”

“And I had a whole speech prepared,” Satan shrugged.

“Fuck you too, mister,” Suzie said after catching her breath.

Satan chuckled and gave a knowing look to Beelzebub.

“Do whatever you want. Find your happiness. Isn’t that the point?” He whispered into Beelzebub’s ear before disappearing.

A silence as the other devil disappeared.

Beelzebub sat beside Suzie.

Another pause. They sat in silence. A tear trailed down Suzie’s eye. She quickly wiped it away.

“Fuck you. Where were you?” Suzie broke the silence. “If I were to give you my soul, would you be able to save me?”

“Have you ever seen a firework at Paris? All that preparation. All that anticipation. Boom! All of that magnificent gunpowder glory,” Beelzebub fluttered his fingers in the air. “Then gone in a flash into the void.”

“What? What are you talking about? Is that supposed to be a metaphor or something? I’m trying to sell you my soul, dumbass. Mr. Devil. Asshole.”

“What’s it—”

“Fuck you, man! Seriously!” Suzie succumbed to her coughs again.

“You, seriously, got to stop that. Look, I’m sorry I’ve been gone. I’m here now.”

“Do you even know what I did today?”

“Yes, I saw the whole thing. It was… it was nice,” Beelzebub answered with a smile.

“You did?!” Suzie didn’t seem to know how she felt about that fact. Beelzebub didn’t seem like he knew how Suzie felt about it either.

“So, I was about to ask. What’s it worth? I’d like to know what living is worth to you. What does it mean to you?”

“What? Living… living… means that I’d get to live. I’d get to be there for him. Have a life together…” Suzie took a moment to compose herself. “…start a family together. What are you talking about, Beelzebub? I don’t understand.”

“That sounds like it would have been marvelous. But who knows, maybe you two would have gotten divorced and grew to hate one another. Fight over the kids. Fight with the kids. Wish the kids were never born. All that nonsense.”

“But I’m not even going to have the chance to find that out myself. I don’t even have a choice in the matter. What is wrong with you Beelzebub? Do you not want my soul anymore? Isn’t that what you guys do? Oh shit…” Suzie’s eyes widened with her realization.

“I’ll always welcome your soul,” the devil smiled.

“Did you know?”

“Do you remember that day at the lake when you wanted to kill yourself? Or how many more times after that?”

“So what? Why are you bringing this up now? Are you trying to say I’m a hypocrite? Or that I’m just going to want to die again so it doesn’t matter when and how I die? The point is that I’d like to have a choice! Did you know?!”

“Do you have a choice right now?”

“Shut the fuck up and answer me!”

The two stared at one another. Suzie’s eyes were moist from her tears and yet boiled with anger. Anger from the unwanted inquisition. Her pride had already been swallowed. Anger from the sense of betrayal. From that one friend who knew her at her worst. At her moments that not even her husband knew about.

“Did you know? Did you know this would happen to me when you convinced me to go chase after him?”

Beelzebub didn’t answer. He pondered for a moment. But that was enough of an answer for Suzie.

“You win,” Suzie tried to grab the devil but had to pause to catch her breath. “…You win. Why do that to him though, Beelzebub?”

“I’ll let you figure that one out,” the Devil finally spoke after seconds that felt like an eternity.

“Fuck you, Beelzebub.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Can you save me or not?”

“I can,” the Devil gave a warm smile.

“Then do it! Just take it! I’m giving it to you!” Suzie couldn’t help the tears from flowing down. “Just let me be there for him. Let me live.”

“You sure? This is one and done type of thing, sweetheart. You’re either on one side or the other.”

“Yes,” Suzie tried and tried to wipe away her tears. “Yes, please. Oh, God. Just do it. Don’t let me leave him alone.”

The door opened.

 

***

 

Michael waited for Beelzebub at The Center. Other patrons had long cleared out and Binkle had given up if the archangel wanted anything else than the single juice box he had ordered hours ago.

Beelzebub entered and only gave a slight glance at the angel before heading to the bartender.

“A Salty Dog. Make sure its neat. If it’s not, then I’ll have you serving a sorority house because apparently, those are the only types of drink you know how to make,” Beelzebub ordered.

“…rough day, boss?” Binkle started the cocktail right away.

“Why did you do it if it was going to make you so miserable?” Michael asked. “Why Beelzebub? Even when I warned you not to see her. Even when I’ve asked you to stay away. What had she done to deserve this?”

“The same thing that any of us had done apparently; the sin of being born,” Beelzebub gave Michael a wink.

“It’s a gift.”

“Uh-huh, tell that to the kids getting flayed alive somewhere as we speak. Are you going to go save them, Mr. Archangel? I’m sure they’re screaming for even some ass in a spandex to come to save them right now. Three. Two. One. They’re dead. Tell them it was a gift,” Beelzebub sipped on his drink.

“At least Binkle gets to keep his job,” Beelzebub raised his glass to compliment the bartender.

“You know that’s not how it works,” Michael remained stoic.

“No, that’s exactly how it works. My bar. My rules. Got a problem? Get out of my bar. Oh you mean how it works in the cosmos created by the All-Mighty Dad,” Beelzebub downed his drink and motioned Binkle for another.

“And why shouldn’t that be how it works? Why shouldn’t we just help one another be better?” Beelzebub questioned.

“They can. We shouldn’t,” Michael answered.

Beelzebub chuckled as he sipped on his new drink.

“Dejavu, eh? O’brother mine?” Beelzebub stared at his murky drink. “How many times have we had this conversation? For how many millennia? We can’t even figure that one out. What’s the point of us?”

“That’s for us to figure out. Their lives are for them to figure out.”

“You’ve been fed so much horeshit that it’s starting to come out of your mouth, Michael. In fact, I would say that’s all been coming out of your mouth for a long while now. Let’s wash that out. Have you ever tried a White Russian? They’re fantastic. And I mean that both ways if you know what I’m saying,” Beelzebub winked again at Michael. It was not, surprisingly, the record amount of how many times Beelzebub winked at Michael in one meeting.

“That is the way it is. You ask for more of something that simply isn’t there,” Michael sipped on his juice box.

“And yet, we were designed to ask for more,” The Devil retorted.

“Maybe we were created to see if we can be more,” The Archangel dissented.

“You’re miserable to talk to you know that? Did anyone ever tell you that, Michael? You’re a terrible person to talk to. What kind of ass-backwards, circular logic is that?”

Michael sipped on his juice box.

The final slurps of a dying juice box echoed through the bar.

“She believes she understands why you did what you did. I’m sure he’s thankful as well to have had the chance to be with her. To be by her side until the end,” Michael told Beelzebub.

Beelzebub mumbled under his breath and ignored his brother’s existence.

“I can see that you need some time alone,” Michael walked over and placed his empty juice box on the counter. “But I came because…'”

“Are you still here?” The Devil snapped.

“Asshole,” a familiar voice cut through as a patron walked into the tavern.

Beelzebub spun his head toward the voice and then snapped back to Michael.

“Seriously?! You didn’t let her in? Or was that HIS decision?”

“I just came to say goodbye. Michael was nice enough to let me come here,” Suzie gave the angel a smile. “He just wanted a chance to speak to you privately first.”

“Well, I’ll be damned. That’s very un-Michael of you,” Beelzebub told his brother.

Michael shrugged.

“I’ll be waiting outside. Don’t take too long,” Michael told Suzie as he grabbed another juice box left on the counter for him by Binkle. He headed out and gently closed the door behind him.

“So this is the bar,” Suzie said as she sat next to Beelzebub.

“And you’re the girl,” Binkle said as he carefully studied his boss’s ticks and demeanor.

“This is the bar,” Beelzebub rested his face on his hand as he observed Suzie. “You decided to go to the other place?”

“Isn’t that what you wanted me to do?” Suzie shook her head at Binkle who held up a juice box and a wine bottle for her to choose from.

“I didn’t want you to do anything,” Beelzebub answered.

“Something sweet and tangy perhaps? Sangria? Lemon Drop?” Binkle asked Suzie.

“Do you know that they put your taste buds in your anus? Did he tell you? As a person coming from up there I feel like it’s my civic duty to let you know,” Suzie pointed out.

“Look at this girl. She’s been dead for minutes and she’s already playing the heaven card,” Beelzebub spoke with disdain.

“Yes,” Binkle answered. “…And I’ve grown to change my diet to fit my new changes. I didn’t find it funny then and I don’t find it funny now. I don’t think anyone will. Who knows why that was done. Let’s now drop it and never speak of it again and if we can turn back time and change the past maybe we can make sure it’s never been done. Because everytime something touches my tongue I just have intense and intimate fear of what it would taste in the afterlife of its natural journey. In some sense, it’s been a fascinating and life-changing experience that has oddly made me a better human. What about a whiskey-neat then?”

“Seems a bit unoriginal and cliche for this moment,” Suzie thought for a moment. “Moscow mule?”

“Moscow mule,” Beelzebub nodded.

“Moscow mule,” Binkle agreed.

The three shared the cocktail that was made from three different businessmen with three different failing products who by fate combined them all and gave it a random name. It was a hard drink, with a pinch of tartness, a little sweetness, all tied together with a little kick served in a copper mug that could become toxic from the acidity of the drink itself.

They talked of many nothings and nothing of pertinence regarding Suzie’s death.

Like friends that met just for a reunion and knowing they’ll never see one another again when they each leave through the doors and leave their old lives behind in that room, the three just wanted to have a moment of where everything was good and nothing of consequence would occur.

Crafting a moment that’d be a perfect memory.

Like a photograph of smiling faces. Forgetting all that’s before and after.

When Michael came back into the bar, Suzie knew it was time for her to go and left without any complaint. Neither the bartender nor the devil tried to hold her for any longer either.

The girl, the woman, gave the devil, the friend, a hug.

She whispered a word or two into the devil’s ear.

The devil said nothing back.

She looked back one last time with a soft smile on her face before the door closed behind her.

Soon, only the gibberish from the TV and a small clatter from Binkle doing his daily chores for the bar remained.

“You, alright boss?” Binkle finally asked.

“I had a weird dream,” Beelzebub answered solemnly.

“Okay.”

“What’s with that tone?”

“What? I said ‘okay.'”

“Yeah, but your tone. Don’t—don’t try to pretend that you didn’t have an odd tone.”

“I mean… it’s just… you’re the devil and first…”

“Yeah?”

“You guys dream? And second…”

Uh huh.”

“Like what the hell, man? We talk about dreams now? Isn’t that a bit…” Binkle held his tongue.

“A bit what?”

“Nothing boss. Just a little gay. Just go on.”

“I dreamed of a horse…”

Binkle snorted.

“If you laugh dipshit, I swear I’m going to put a pimple right in the lip of your tiny dick. May I continue? Is that alright with you?”

Binkle saluted and begin wiping down the cups.

“Where was I. Yeah. The horse. It was lost in a forest. Scared. Tired. And knew that death was imminent.”

“Uh huh,” Binkle raised a wine glass up to the light for a quick inspection before wiping it a bit more.

“After wandering about for a while, it suddenly stood still. Just still in the fog of dusk. I knew right away it had reached the point of no return. It was exhausted. The horse was deciding whether to keep on or just give up. Rest. Just lay down and die peacefully.”

“And what did it choose?” Binkle placed the rag on the table and looked at Beelzebub.

“I don’t know. I was watching the horse from the sky or something. And I could see what it couldn’t see. I could see that there was such a simple way it could have went to be free.”

“So did you help the horse?” Binkle asked.

“No, I woke up.”

“What do you think happened to it?” Binkle picked up his rag again.

“Who cares,” Beelzebub finished his cocktail.

“I bet the horse does,” Binkle took the empty cup.

“But what does the horse know?”

 

End of The Devil and Me

 



 

Aftermath Ramble

12:49 AM

About 21 Chrome Tabs Open

1 Cup of Diet Mountain Dew and 2 Empty Bottles of Water on the Desk.

Wow.

I feel a bit bleh about the ending. And it’s not something I can change without changing the whole nature of this project I think.

Do you guys remember how and why I began this project?

It was supposed to be an unplanned, just-go-with-it, warm-up, sort of story that just spun out of a dumb chatter I was having with a friend.

But it sort of took over my writing life. And then my life, as it seems to in recent years, kind of fell into chaos with a lot of fire I needed to put out.

What you see is basically what I had written months ago. It was a quick write. I just wasn’t very happy with it. It sat there staring at me asking me why I had created it. A little mutant wondering why it was born.

Then I spent my writing time working on Chronicles of the Otherworld and my next novel.

Distance can be the cure sometimes.

But the short story nagged and nagged to be finished (which obviously should have been finished earlier than this) and I felt way more pressure for the finale than I ever should have. Who really cares but me?

But that’s the thing. I care. I’ve learned that I at least have to be happy with it.

I’ve always had an idea where the story would go, how it’d end, since the first episode. But I just felt so off about the ending when I actually wound up writing it.

Part of it was due to how much the story had changed and evolved and morphed in my mind as I kept working on it.

And part of it was due to how much of this could have benefitted from having a proper preplanning stage and an editing phase.

There were a lot of issues I had with the lore that I developed. Minor stuff none of the audience would care about.

With Satan’s character.

And how, most interesting for me as the writer, what I thought would work in my mind just didn’t work in execution. At the end of the day, that’s going to be my biggest lesson and homework out of this.

Not that I haven’t experienced that before.

But trying to understand exactly why it didn’t work here.

I wanted each episode to have their own individual vibe to reflect that specific point of Suzie’s age and life. That kind of stuff just works a lot better when it’s planned. At least for someone like me.

But I suppose all that was part of this writing experiment and exercise.

It was grueling.

It was annoying.

It was a little disappointing for me personally for a few reasons.

But I enjoyed it.

That’s writing. That’s this craft’s equivalent of taking a couple of hits and learning from them.

If I were to ever go back and really flesh out this thing, I’d probably consider redoing certain arcs of Suzie’s character and adding a few more chapters in.  There were few storylines that I cut that I wonder how it’d have been to add.

And definitely keep the numbers, lore, and whatnot details more consistent.

I really wanted to just let this project fly the way it wanted to fly and had an odd battle in my mind of not wanting to comb through it.

Weird.

Also, to be clear, I’ll probably never flesh this story out. It is what it is and it is what it was intended to be.

Okay. Enough rambling.

ARAMIRU OUT!

Oh yeah.

In the end, the biggest change I’ve made to the ending is that Suzie ends up meeting Beelzebub in hell. Originally, Beelzebub simply hears about what happened to Suzie via Michael. I was essentially against the idea. But experimenting with that little change eventually made the ending feel right for me. It ended up being what I needed to start the domino effect of finally releasing this finale.  Sometimes cheese is the right ingredient.

I’ll let the audience chew on that and decide which would have been better.

To those of you who’ve stuck with it till the end, thank you very much.

Sorry for the delay.

See y’all next time.

ARAMIRU OUT!


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Short Story: The Devil & Me (Part 2)

10 Years & 7 months Old

O’ Where art thou, my lord?

My king. My savior. My hope.

I’ve asked and received not.

I’ve sought and found not.

And I’ve knocked and still find myself trapped in this rot.

Or was the fly the answer for what I’ve been asking.

The savior that I’ve been seeking.

The angel that you’ve sent to hark my knocking.

Am I supposed to know my lord of your words in silence?

Or am I supposed to find faith in his words that answered?

It was a little something written by Suzie Lee and it was meant to be for her eyes only. But Beelzebub decided to take it off her hands and read it as Suzie watched from her bed.

“I know it’s a mish-mash of Shakespeare and something you probably heard somewhere on TV and church—but not bad. Not bad for a ten-year-old” Beelzebub remarked. “But ‘Hark‘? Is that word being used correctly here?”

Suzie shrugged.

It had been a long while since she had seen Beelzebub. To the devil’s surprise, the girl only seemed a bit startled when he appeared from the corner of her room.

Beelzebub thought the room was quite an ordinary room for a ten-year-old girl who summoned the devil. Books, dolls, a desk, and a bed. The walls were painted pink.

“How you doing, kid? Been a while.” Beelzebub sat by Suzie on the bed. “That’s mean. I know you’re not all sunshines right now, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.”

From the living room below, there was a gentle rumble of noise that’d come and go as if it was the palpitations of the house. Every once in a while either a male or a female voice would shred through the rumble and you’d be able to make out a word or two. And sometimes, both would scream and stomp and Suzie would get embarrassed that perhaps she wasn’t alone as she felt and others would find out. Or maybe they already knew.

“Why didn’t you come back since then? People didn’t believe me,” Suzie asked with a little trace of sorrow.

“Are you mad?” Beelzebub asked playfully. “You know people would literally kill to have me show up. And look at you. Not a drop of blood on you. No goats. No lambs. No virgins. Nada. I should be the one that’s mad!”

“No, I’m not mad,” Suzie answered with a smile. The devil smiled back.

“I figured you were probably busy. Probably doing some important stuff.”

“And I was,” Beelzebub walked by the room’s door.

Suzie’s mom raised her voice. Then the dad raised his even higher.

“Do they ever just go at it?” Beelzebub asked.

“You… are not an angel are you?” Suzie carefully asked. “What’s your name?”

“I’m an angel,” Beelzebub answered. Suzie’s eyes widened. “Though not the kind that you may mean. Name’s Beelzebub.”

“They do. They used to hide it before,” Suzie decided to answer the devil’s after all though she seemed a little confused by what Beelzebub meant. “Can I call you Beezy?”

No. No you may not,” Beelzebub replied.

“Why?” Suzie asked.

Beelzebub chose not to answer.

An awkward silence wafted across the room.

“I feel like I started it,” Suzie finally confessed.

“Why?”

“I said something. They started arguing. And then mom said something about this is why I lie about you. And I said you were real. Then they started fighting.”

“Ah,” Beelzebub made his way back to Suzie’s bed and sat next to her once again.

“I didn’t even get to finish my lasagna,” Suzie buried her face into her knees.

“So, that’s why you called for me?” Beelzebub’s eyes lit up a bit. “Not the lasagna but because of your parents?”

The child didn’t answer.

“Well, I’m flattered that you’ve thought of me but just so we’re clear. I’m not working for Him,” Beelzebub pointed up. “Whatever you and I decide to do—it’ll be between just you and I.”

“I see,” Suzie’s eyes were moist and left spots on her pants.

“Promise your soul and I’ll make sure your parents stay together,” Beelzebub stood and offered his hand with a grin.

Suzie stared at the devil in silence. Contemplating his offer. The moment lasted long enough for Beelzebub to feel a bit awkward.

“No,” the girl finally answered.

No?”

“No. I think it’ll be better for them if they just got divorced,” Suzie wiped away her tears. “It’ll make me sad and I’ll miss having them both very much but it’s what’s best. That’s not why I called you anyway.”

“So what did you call me for then?” Beelzebub sat back down again.

“I just wanted to see again that you were real,” Suzie paused. “And…”

“And?”

“And I didn’t want to be alone.”

Tears begin to flow down Suzie’s face again. There was a period of time after her infancy where Suzie refused to cry. Even as a child she felt embarrassed and, without being able to form the words for it, Suzie felt like it was a sign of weakness.

Even when she had sand kicked in her face.

Even when she saw her little crush hold hands with another girl.

Or even when her mom and dad said something mean—Suzie refused to cry.

But as she grew older, Suzie found crying easier and more natural. There were more things to cry about than when she was younger. Reasons that she’d never have imagined as a child and types of pain that life can dish out that a young child couldn’t have known.

Life became more complicated and painful as she learned to interpret it. A baby mumbles. A child speaks. An adult expresses. All came at a cost.

But to her credit, crying would be a rare and private affair for Suzie for the rest of her life.

“Is that going to cost me my soul?” Suzie asked.

“Not today,” Beelzebub conceded.

“Well,” Beelzebub thought for a moment. “Unless you want to give me your soul for the lasagna?”

“No,” Suzie giggled. “Why do you want my soul anyway?”

“More the merrier at my kingdom.”

“At Hell?”

“Hell’s got a pretty bad PR but it’s not what you think,” Beelzebub rubbed Suzie’s head.

“Uh huh,” Suzie brushed away the devil’s hand.

“Why don’t I just tell you a bedtime story so you can fall asleep and I can be on my way.”

“Okay,” Suzie made her way underneath her blanket.

“I’m going to tell you about…” Beelzebub thought carefully about what would be a good bedtime story for a young girl. “…Ghengis Khan. He was fun. Wait till I tell you about what he did with babies.”

“Okay,” Suzie seemed gleeful.

“Hey, Beelzebub?”

“Yeah?”

“What’s a PR?”

∗∗∗

 

About three years ago, Michael the Archangel visited Beelzebub’s bar in Hell called The Center after the devil visited the mortal realm to meet Suzie for the first time.

“Brother,” Michael spoke with heavenly grace and paternal stern. “We need to talk.”

“No,” Beelzebub sipped on his drink. “No, we really don’t.”

Other patrons of the bar slowly excused themselves as the gold-haired archangel stared down Beelzebub.

“You know the rules, brother mine,” A seat next to Beelzebub was open but Michael chose to stand. “And you’ve broken them. Why?”

“You see,” Beelzebub clicked his tongue. “You see, Mikey, I don’t relly need to tell you a goddamn thing.”

Michael cringed at Beelzebub taking the Father’s name in vain.

“You have a problem? He has a problem?” Beelzebub walked over to Michael. The devil took a moment to take in the archangel’s anachronistic white robe before grabbing Michael’s hand and folding the archangel’s fingers into a fist.

“Kill me,” Beelzebub said as he placed his forehead on the archangel’s knuckles. “Do it.”

“Don’t be childish, brother,” Archangel lowered his hand.

Beelzebub chuckled. He gave nervous Binkle a look and sat back down. He sipped on his drink and stared at the TV.

The archangel stood and waited for the devil.

“Y’know,” Beelzebub remained focused on the TV. “Your brothers down here and I often wonder why you and Father let us live. Do you even know?”

“I follow His will. I trust that He knows best,” Michael answered.

“So you want to kill us?”

“No, brother. I have no malice in my heart for you and the others. Only pity.”

Pity,” Beelzebub scoffed and downed his drink. He waved Binkle at for another who glanced at the archangel as he served his master a vodka tonic.

“Get him a juice box or something,” Beelzebub told Binkle.

“You…” Binkle cleared his throat. “…You want a juice box?”

Michael stared Binkle for a moment. Binkle wasn’t sure if his heart had stopped for a moment because of the sheer beauty of the archangel or the fearsome power he posed.

“Yes,” Michael answered. “Do you have the Berry Blast?”

“…Do you have money?” Binkle asked.

“Do you think he has money?” Beelzebub snapped. “Does that robe look like it has pockets? Just put it on my tab.”

Binkle came around the bar and gave the archangel his juice box with the bendy straw. The archangel still refused to sit.

“What is it that you want to do for the girl, Beelzebub? For the humans?” Michael asked after a sip.

“I ANSWER THEM,” Beelzebub finally turned away from the TV. “I. Answer. Their. Prayers. What do you do? When was the last time you were there for them, Michael?”

“It’s not our position to interfere,” Michael placed the juice box on the bar table. “It is against what’s best for them.”

“What’s best for them? Okay,” Beelzebub stood and faced the archangel again. “What do you know what’s best for them? Whatever He told you was best for them? Where were you when a kid prayed for his mother to be saved as he watched her being beaten, raped and then chopped off limb by limb? Where were you when the parents are crying for His grace as their baby dies? Where–”

“Do NOT question my love for them brother!” Michael interrupted the devil. “DO NOT THINK FOR A SECOND THAT I DO NOT FEEL THE PAIN FOR THEIR SUFFERING!”

“THEN TELL ME WHAT’S WRONG WITH THEM BEING HAPPY!”

By now, the bar was empty. There was only Binkle, Beelzebub, and Michael. Binkle slowly descended below the bar table and held his knees tight and hoped that he’d make it through the day.

“Why can’t they just live happy lives? Why can’t we just help them have happy lives? What’s the point? Why all this? Isn’t being happy enough? Suffering will happen anyway so why not let them be as happy as they can be?” Beelzebub asked after what Binkle thought was too long of a silence.

“The meaning of their lives isn’t happiness,” Michael answered. “Life isn’t about being happy. You’ve never understood that Beelzebub.”

“Or I understand fine and you and Him are just wrong,” After a short staring contest, Beelzebub sat backdown.

“Humans,” Beelzebub grabbed a nacho that Binkle had prepared for him earlier. “I don’t think even he knows what he has spawned.”

“Hold your tongue brother.”

“I AM THE PROOF OF HIS FLAWS,” Beelzebub threw the basket of nachos. “Otherwise, why am I the way I am?”

“Or you’re part of his plans,” Michael calmly replied.

Jesus,” Beelzebub spat and switched his attention back to the TV. “We are the ones who can provide salvation to His slaves. All of us here are proof that something was wrong with His plans. We’re here because we want to show Him that we don’t need someone like Him. We choose to be free. Even if the cost is losing Him.”

There was no point in talking to the devil. Their conversations were echoes from the many similar conversations of the past.

“Answer me, Beelzebub,” Michael said as he headed for the exit. “What is love to you?”

“What is love?” Beelzebub didn’t turn to look at his angelic brother even as he left. “You tell me.”

“Something beyond happiness. Something beyond the present.”

The door closed behind the archangel.

The devil sipped on his drink as he turned up the volume of the TV.

His bartender placed in front of him some olives

There would be no other customers that evening.

Last drinks were served.

The TV turned off.

And the two retired quietly into the night.



 

Re-reading Part 2 to post on the blog reminded me why I ultimately didn’t push forward with this project when I was working on it.

While I’ll save all of my comments until the end for those who may be enjoying it so far, a short answer is a sort of a writer’s block that I got distracted away from when I had other projects come up.

And just for the record, these are un-edited so it might be rough in some parts and probably would have benefited quite a bit from going through the refinery i.e. an editor as all writing stuff tends to do.

Thanks for reading!

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Short Story: The Devil & Me (Part 1)

7 Years & 3 Months Old

Screaming children.

The little war drums of their tiny stomps pounding the grass and sand.

It’s a celebration of freedom. Liberation after hours of being trapped in school.

But for Suzie Lee, recess was a time for peace and serenity. The seemingly endless green of the playground fields, the labyrinthine of the big toys, and all the possibilities that a ball and a few friends could provide meant little to the young girl. Even all of the staff and other children would know exactly where to find Suzie each and every recess. Regardless of whether or not they knew her name, everyone in the school has heard of the girl who’d always spend her time at the sandbox by the jungle gym. The girl who was always huddled over drawing or building things with the sand.

The small girl, petite even for her age, had her black hair always tied into pigtails as she stared into the grains of sand. It was as if the sands were the cosmos and it was her job to arrange the stardust.

And it was Charles Bogart’s job to kick some of that stardust onto Suzie’s face.

Suzie coughed violently as she rubbed away the sand from her eyes. The special art drawn into the sand all but gone.

“Charles Bogart!” Suzie yelled but didn’t cry. Suzie never cried.

Charles laughed. His chubby cheeks turning red with his bucktooth revealed for the world to see.

“I hope the devil gets you!” Suzie tried to chase after Charles but tripped.

Her wishful omen was obviously a fair and just judgment for getting sand kicked on your face.

Charles ignored Suzie curse and fled with a wide smile stretched across his face. But he didn’t get far until a sight stopped him dead in his tracks and turned the smile, upside-down.

∗∗∗

“So you just showed up?” Binkle asked with an amused astonishment. He poured Beelzebub his vodka on the rocks.

“Yep,” Beelzebub answered as he squirted lime into his drink. He then drowned the carcass and stirred.

“Just like that? Poof?”

“Yeah,” Beelzebub sipped on his drink.

There’s a bar in Hell.

Well, there are many bars in Hell but there’s a particular bar in Hell known as The Center for being at the center of Hell. Which made little sense, as Hell was boundless and endless. The infinite plane for those who wanted to live away from God—either by choice or as punishment—and now lived under the mercy of the fallen angels: the princes of hell, i.e., the Devil. Or the devil[s] though the brothers didn’t mind sharing the title.

Anyways.

After an odd bet with even odder wages, Beelzebub had won against his six brothers and named the bar The Center and effectively made his portion of Hell, the center of Hell.

It did well for business.

Yes, people still had to work in Hell and pay their taxes to the princes.

Binkle was the master of the bar and the personal bartender for Beelzebub. While he was alive, Binkle was a comedian. His jokes impressed Beelzebub and his brothers enough that he was able to land the relatively cushy job of being the Beelzebub’s bartender. Though he was once fully human, the princes added bits and pieces to the comedian to their personal amusement. As of now, Binkle had seven nipples (one inside his ear), a hairy rat tail, and taste buds on his anus. The last bit was added by Asmodeus, one of Beelzebub’s brothers, and it was an addition Binkle was still unaware of. And, of course, the name Binkle which Belphegor, with his great sense of humor, had given the comedian. His real name was long forgotten.

“My mouth tastes funny,” Binkle smacked his lips. “It’s been like this all day. Your brother was here earlier, by the way.”

“Did he pay his tab?” Beelzebub sipped on his drink

“Well, he grumbled when I asked him of it,” Binkle prepped some finger foods for the devil then grabbed a mouthwash.

“Well that didn’t help,” Binkle said after a gargle and a spit. “So what made you do that?”

“Do what?” Beelzebub shook his empty glass in the air. Binkle relieved him of it as he handed him another.

“You know. Show up? When the girl summoned?” Binkle pushed a basket of fresh nachos to Beelzebub.

“Just felt like it. I mean, why not,” Beelzebub enjoyed Binkle’s skills as a bar chef.

“Something about the girl just beckoned me over. I don’t know. Maybe I was bored.”

“Did you just show up like that?”

Beelzebub was currently dressed in a way that a Beverly Hills yuppie would dress to look casual. Sports coat, t-shirt of a rock band they’ve barely heard the name of, darkened jeans, and shades.

“No, went with the classic,” Beelzebub turned into a hideous form that’d convince denizens of hell that there wasn’t a God.

“Wow,” Binkle said. “That kid’s going to need therapy.

In fact, Charles was in therapy until his senior year of high school. No one believed that he had seen a monster. As no one should. Everyone believed he was crazy. As one should when a child starts screaming and crying that he’s seen a monster and that everyone else can go to hell for not believing him. Once his parents could no longer afford his therapy, Charles turned to drugs and delved into cults that even Beezlebub’s brother Mammon found to be a senseless waste of goats. Eventually, after an emotional breakthrough with his friends and family, Charles decided to go to a dime-a-dozen art school that the same friends and family couldn’t convince him out of after they recently had such an emotional breakthrough. His obsession with flies didn’t win him many fans nor jobs. So after graduation, Charles worked through various fast food restaurants until he became a manager of one. Where he tried to swat a fly since by this point he grew an insatiable hatred towards them, and ended up falling face first into a deep fryer and died.

Don’t kick sand at people, kids.

“You’re other brothers are not going to not like that. And I’m not talking about the ones in hell. And by brothers I mean just one,” it took a lot of courage from Binkle to warn Beelzebub like that.

He studied carefully of the Lord of the Flies’ reaction. The Lord simply sipped on his drink, deep in thought.

“So, what now?” Binkle asked. “Are you going to try to bring her here?”

“I’m done with her. It was fun. But can’t turn a little fun into a headache,” Beelzebub said as he watched Binkle drink a shot of whiskey to get the funny taste out of his mouth with to no avail.

The heavy padded doors of the bar slammed open. A flood of light filled the bar with heaven’s glory. A heavy aura of the divine made the other patrons of the bar uncomfortable, perturbed, and annoyed.

A tall, fit man in a white robe and golden locks calmly walked toward Beelzebub.

“Brother,” the archangel spoke with a voice of grace and magnitude. “We need to talk.”



This is from a novella I was working on that I ended up putting aside when I had to work on different projects. I decided to post it on the blog and finish the story up here as well.

I don’t think it’ll end up being a novella as planned and probably will be a longer-short story.

I’ll try to post every Monday.

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Explaining the 4 Common Answers & Advice Given to Beginner Writers

Hi, it’s me. Your average writer.

You might have heard of me from my past works such as… who are we kidding? You have never heard of me. I’m a nobody. But I’m a nobody with some experience.

 

©2013 NETFLIX  CR: F. Scott Schafer
Me. (But seriously, if you don’t know who this is you’re dead to me)

 

Last time, I posted a blog about 4 Same Stupid Questions I See All the Time On Writing Forums. Click HERE to fulfill my shameless plug.

This time, I thought I’d do something a bit more helpful and thoughtful.

I’m going to buy your ebooks.

Just kidding. I’m still poor. And with the money I have I’d rather buy a McDouble and a McChicken at McDonald’s with the awesome Mc2Pick for $2.50! What a deal! And make sure to check out their limited-time holiday drinks!

 

mc2
Pay me please!

 

You already know what this is about. You’ve read the title. Get to the point you’re saying. Maybe you’ve already scrolled down.

This is for all of you out there wondering what exactly some of those answers you’ve received  meant. Because the random stranger who gave you the answer left you cold and hanging without an explanation. Like my dad on Christmas.


“Show, Don’t Tell”

Let’s get the big one out of the way.

I’m literally massaging my nose bridge with one hand and typing this with my other two hands as I’m trying to explain this one.

Not because it’s particularly difficult to answer, but because it’s so basic.

But not because it’s just so basic, but because it’s so basic and it’s a mistake that I make often and I know for a fact that many other writers who should be above these kinds of things make this mistake as well.

So let’s try to understand WHY this happens.

I have a simple theory: We are describing what we are seeing in our brilliant, gifted minds and forgetting that our jobs as writers are to help the readers experience what we’re seeing and not have them simply understand what we’re seeing. We’re not supposed to be the tour guides but be VR goggles. They want to be inside of our story—not be outside of it.

Showing is taking notes.

Telling is creating worlds.

 

oculus-rift-10-2015-mag-01
Strive to be this inanimate object.

 

There are times when you want to “tell” over “show” but this is one of those things where you have to master the rules before you learn to bend them.

And here’s an example just in case:

TELL:

Jimmy was mad at Moe.

SHOW:

Jimmy’s unibrow furrowed into a rugged U, his hand trembled with fury, and his heart filled with the burning desire to bitchslap Moe.


“Just Write”

You want to be a swimmer? Go practice swimming every day.

You want to be a stripper? Go practice stripping every day.

You want to be a writer? Go practice stripping every day.

Wait.

Well. Why not. Cardio’s important. But you should also practice writing every day.

This somewhat calloused sounding advice exists because most people only talk about writing and never actually write.

They think they can be writers by just spewing their thesis about the craft of ink and paper as they lasciviously rub themselves for their own creativity and avant-garde ideas.

Something about hic Rhodus, hic salta.

 

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They’re basically doing this.

 

Your ideas aren’t worth donkey’s spit on a chicken’s ass if you never actually create something with it. And unless you’re some sort of a Hemingway’s spirit reborn, you’re probably not as good as you think you are.

spit.gif

So how do you “just write”? I personally say do away with the whole “have a word count for the day” thing. You know, when people say things like “just write 1000 words a day”?

Look, fellow grasshoppers, if you’re a professional writer then you know when your due date is so daily word count either makes more sense or not at all since you just have to get’er done by that date.

You know how you work. You can set your own pace.

If you’re a hobbyist it makes less sense because the rigidness and the arbitrary number just turns your hobby into a chore.

But sure. If it works for you—good. Nothing wrong with that.

If it doesn’t—don’t worry about it.  And let me recommend, instead, setting up a timed session.

Maybe one hour a day. One hour every other day.

Make it your schedule, like everything else you do in life, and just use that time to write one word or ten thousand words. Or even no words. Just do something writing related. Even if that’s reading for research, doing brainstorms, and whatever. Maybe it’ll be for an hour. Maybe it’s two hours. Just set a time.

This will give you some freedom and some ease with your writing pursuit. And if you have an end goal in mind that’s where you can set a long-term deadline for yourself.

Oh, and, if you’re not letting other people read your work—you’ll never get better. Practice makes permanent and not perfect.

Writing without outside criticism will only make your lack of talent permanent.

Boom.

Real talk.


“Write for Yourself / Don’t Follow the Trend”

So, this one’s a bit FUBAR.

To unravel this, I’ll just first explain where it’s coming from and then kind of go on about why it’s FUBAR. And just a head’s up: this one’s going to be a bit serious.

Like stool samples. Poops are fun and games but sometimes you have to use serious, medical terms like “stool” and “samples”.

Anyways.

When there’s a fad, it’ll start a trend.

Star Wars sparked the sci-fi boom.

Lord of the Rings & Game of Thrones sparked the fantasy boom.

Twilight sparked the wtf-happened-to-vampires boom.

Hunger Games started the dystopian boom.

The whole idea of “write what you’d want to read / don’t follow a trend” is that the chances of you actually catching the trend and having your passions align with the trend… are low.

Why is the chance of catching a trend low?

Because writing is a long process and publishing can be even longer. It usually takes years for someone to finish a book and see it in stores. You really think the trend will last that long? And what about passion? Do you think you can write a work you’re proud of without a passion for it? Even if you’ve missed the trend? Can I add any more questions to this paragraph? Well? Can I?

Writing what you’re proud of—something that you can call your own—can mean more at the end of the day than writing something that you thought was going to sell.

But remember when I said this topic is a bit tricky? With the technologies and how the book market is today… you can basically ignore everything I said up there and maybe you should.

Yeah, seriously.

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You know why trends start? Because they sell.

People tend to want more cake after they had a slice.

Twilight spawned True Blood, Vampire Diaries, and a bunch of other vampire shows, books, and ebooks in a variety of genres.

Erotica was a popular genre to write for on Kindle for a while because they sold like… well… sex.

Publishers will always welcome any book that’ll sell. That’s their jobs. Publish things to sell. And if the genre’s hot right now, they’ll be looking for more of that genre and might even put you through the fast lane.

For indie writers, catching trends is easier now more than ever because you can instantly check what’s selling well. Check the Top 100 on Amazon. There you go.

Passion? Damn, son. Passions tend to suck at paying for stuff. And I like stuff.

 

macbook-selfie-stick-01-fauxha0216
Like one of these. Just to give the middle-finger to the starving children in Africa and good ideas everywhere

 

Besides, if you’re a professional writer shouldn’t you have a grasp of how to write just about anything?

Timing? You click “publish” and you’re done.

You want to put more work into it? It won’t be too hard for you to chug out a 40-50k novel that follows a formula for a standard successful storytelling in a month. Remember, NaNoWriMo thinks just about everyone can chug out 50k in a month. You’re a professional, veteran writer. If this is your full-time job, you can do it in 2-3 weeks. During the time you’re writing you can hire an editor and an artist and ding-ding-ding you have a Hot Pockets book.

Besides, talking about passion, do you think there’s a lot of market appeal to a book that’s so personally you?

Sometimes a book is too much you and sometimes that’s not a good thing. That’s when a writer is just doing a self-pleasing (there, friends, I didn’t use the word “masturbatory”) project and hoping that people might like it.

Hell, that writer might not even be thinking of readers. If your protagonist is a half-orc, quarter-dragon, quarter-boar stripper named Borga Do’Kora (stage name being Danger Dick) who’s day job is a tax accountant, maybe you really did not give a chicken’s ass on a donkey’s spit about the readers.

And that’s fine. Writing, in its best form, should be reflective and a fragment of your being. Even if that’s a half-orc, quarter-dragon, quarter-boar stripper who’s favorite food happens to be pickled eggplants.

But if we’re talking about making money, the whole story changes.


“Keep Writing”

Wow, the last one was so damn long. I’ll keep this short. You know how you improve your mile run right? You keep running.

But as you keep running, you’ll run into some hurdles along the way. Maybe your ankles will start to hurt, maybe you’ll run into better runners, and maybe some literal hurdles. It’s called gaining experience.

And sometimes, it’ll hurt. They might say you have ugly shoes, ugly face, and that you look downright silly running.

 

tomcruise-missionimpossible4-running.jpg
Not everyone can run majestically like Tom Cruise.

 

But someone wise once told me… Just kidding. I read this on Tumblr.

“Writer’s who are afraid of rejection are like boxers who are afraid of getting punched. You’re in the wrong line of work.”

In every aspect of our lives, we should welcome valid criticisms. In writing, we have to take-and-thank any sort of feedback we can get and sort it through ourselves like beggars on the street corners Aurora ave in Seattle.

And a lot of times… the greatest of criticisms will come from our own failures. It’s okay to fail despite what my mother says. What’s not okay is to let failures just be failures. Then you’ve wasted your time.

Don’t give up. Everything’s hard and writing as a craft has been around since the beginning of written language. You don’t have to try to rewrite the rule book, the legacy, or try to be the next big thing. Just enjoy it and see where it takes you.

If someone says you suck–say thanks. What can I do to be better?

If you think you suck–well, I suck. What can I do to be better?

And I’m not saying having that attitude is easy. It’s tough. Hell, I always get salty and pissy and depressed about myself and my life. And sometimes about my writing!

But that’s the process of “Keep Writing”. You’ll get better as long as you keep challenging yourself and keep yourself honest. Make sure the cycle of depression and persistence keeps turning. There’s no fast lane here. It’s just gaining experience.

Or just give up. It’s your life. Why are you doing this if you’re not enjoying it unless you’re trying to pay bills with it?

giphy

It’s okay not to be a writer. It’s okay not to be a professional writer. I’m sure your friends and family will be happy to hear that you decided not to be an artist anymore and decided to be a Tax Accountant and go make a happy, comfortable living without having to worry about your future.

But if you’re not going to give up, keep running. As you keep running, you’ll also learn how to enjoy running better. And hopefully, y’know, you’ll keep researching into how to run better because that’s part of keep running.

Like forms and stuff.

Metaphor. Analogy.

This got too sentimental for my taste.

AND I SAID HEY-EY-EY-EY! HEY-EY-EY-EY!

I SAID HEY!

TUPAC KILLED JFK!

ARAMIRU OUT!


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4 Same Questions I See All the Time On Writing Forums

I’m sure any writers  who don’t retire after NaNoWriMo is over will know exactly what I’m talking about.

You’re browsing through your favorite writing forums as you relax on the comfort of your gluteus maximus resting against your glorious throne (in my case a $50 dollar chair from Costco).

You chuckle at the plebians crying for help and you dowse yourself with a reality check for your daily dose of  crippling depression about your own writing.

Or, I don’t know. Maybe you just had nothing better to do on the toilet.

But this sacred ritual is plagued, as it often is, by the redundant questions that you’ve seen countless times on a weekly basis that fills up the pages of your favorite writing forums. And it’s even more than the usual because ’tis the season.

Don’t they know how to search?

Haven’t they cracked open a book before?

Isn’t there some sort of a VlogBrother piece about this?

320x486
John Green is unimpressed with you.

Tell me honestly that you haven’t seen these multiple times before:

“Can I make my character ‘X'”? / “How do I make my character interesting?”

By writing them interestingly.

If people can write interesting stories about silly characters like Superman and whiny angsty kids like Holden–you can do it too!

all_star_superman1_1050_591_81_s_c1
Look at this smug, godly bastard

If you have talent.

But let’s be real. Most of us don’t have talent.

We just have fun writing.

I was told that’s okay.

“How do you write women?”

Like any other person.

Add the colors of their individuality later. Like complaining about menstrual pain. Because that defines women. For men, you can make them constantly worry about the size of their penis. Because that defines men.

size.gif
“We’re supposed to have two of these?”

See? I insult both.

What? What about hermaphrodites?

Yo mama.

That’s what.

Unless your mother is a hermaphrodite. Then-she’s-a-respectablel-lady-who’ve-gone through-something-not-many-of-us-have-gone-through-and-I-hope-she’s-okay-with-the-choice-that-she-made -on-what-sex-she-wanted-to-be.

Don’t sue me. I’m poor.

“Should I do X?”

No. Don’t do it.

Yes! Do it!

I don’t know. Go ask James Patterson.

It’s impossible to answer that question without actually reading your work. Even then, remember that even Tolkien was told Lord of the Rings was a terrible idea by his peers.

But, again, let’s be real. 90% of writers are too afraid to let others read their work and 75% are too lazy and/or uncaring to read other people’s work.

To be fair–the latter is fair. Why should we spend our precious time reading your book when people probably won’t even read it for free?

Don’t you know we’re too busy caring only about our feeble writing careers? Do you think we’re made of spare eyes that we can replace from the ones that burst staring at little tiny symbols all day? We’ll lay waste to our eyesights with our own crap thank you very much!

Know your work well enough to answer that question for yourself or find beta readers… I.E. Probably your friends and family members who you’ve successfully guilt-tripped to helping for free.

Just in case some of you are actually doing that… 9/10 they won’t help.

If they’re saying good thing–it’s useless. They love you and care about dumb things like your feelings. If they say terrible things–well, apparently it was that bad. Which, I guess, is helpful.

Astonishment and surprise
If grandma says yo game’s weak, then yo game’s really weak.

Just find strangers. Hop into their tinted white vans and shove your manuscript into their faces. Stranger danger doesn’t apply here.

Please be advised that this content is meant for comedic effect and none of anything the writer says should be taken seriously or with any sort of credence. Don’t sue him. He’s poor.

“Is this original?”

No. It’s not.

You’re not either. Your mother, your school, and your girlfriend/boyfriend lied to you. There are no such things as special snowflakes. Even if it was original, we’d tell you it isn’t because we’d be jealous or want to pretend we’re intelligent and we’ve encountered it before.

How you can be original isn’t with the formulas, but you can be original with the presentation of the formulas.

Have your own voice. Your own take. And do it with confidence.

People will respect someone who didn’t pull their punches and gave it their all rather than wimpy little attempts that made no noise or mark anywhere.

Just remember Robert Downey Jr.’s sage advice: “Never go full retard.”

full-retard

Even if you went “full retard” (his words, not mine) if you gave it your all… then at least you’ll have a clearer picture of what you did wrong. If you were wishy-washy with your voice, it’d have been a lot foggier to determine exactly what you did right and what you did wrong.

Like anything else in life: Don’t be afraid to fail. Just be afraid of not learning from the failures.

Or the crippling depression that comes from failures.

And the subsequent anxiety attacks when you get up and attempt again at possible more failures.

And the sad looks you get from your family and friends as they wonder where you’ve gone wrong.

Anyways.

Yeah! Just be honest with yourself and give it your all to tell the story you want to tell in the best way that you want to tell it!


I’m no expert when it comes to writing. Not even close. But these are questions that even amateur writers could answer because they are basics of the basics of creative writing…

…THAT YOU COULD HAVE ANSWERED FOR YOURSELF WITH A LITTLE REFLECTION.

JUST TAKES A LITTLE LOGIC.

LAZY ASSES.

USE THE SEARCH FUNCTION NEXT TIME.

Fellow grasshoppers.

Lazy asses.

GRUMPY ARAMIRU OUT!

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Black Halo: the Witch and the Guardian PREVIEW Part 5

REVISED version of

Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian

is coming out on TOMORROW! (Physical Copies of the novels will be available by this weekend!)

Preview Event:

PART 1 (Prologue, Chapter 1)

PART 2 (Interlude 1)

PART 3 (Chapter 2, Chapter 3)

PART 4 (Chapter 4, Chapter 5)


Blurb:

With the Light, came Magic, and the Witch. As mysterious as she was fearsome, and as powerful as she was merciless, the Witch almost succeeded in ending the world until she was vanquished by a hero and his comrades.

This is the legend of the Witch and the Guardian.

Centuries after the nigh calamity, this legend is as much as almost anyone knows of what truly happened back then and as much of an explanation anyone has of what ended an era in human civilization.

Though the people may never learn the whole story, you as the reader will follow the days that led up to how a young girl named Lily became immortalized as the Witch though her name, dreams and life became forgotten.


INTERLUDE II
THE HOMELESS & THE RUNAWAY

A cold, empty night. The better part of the city had already turned in long ago, and the void was filled only by vagabonds and stragglers. The noises of the day were reduced to mere rustles from hungry cats probing the trash, and the swoosh of straggling cars hurriedly making their way home. In an empty playground lit only by the flickering lampposts that should have been fixed long ago, a lone girl sat on the swings. For her, the darkness and the silence of the night were more comforting than the bright and bustling light of day. She felt safer without the people. Without their judging eyes. Without their noisy mouths. Without their mysteries. In the night’s shroud, she didn’t feel naked and vulnerable.

She looked up, her head tilting skyward only by its weight. The skies were painted black and were studded with the shining glitter of luminous stars. The girl tried to count them all with her sunken eyes. As she counted, the tips of her naked feet gently brushed back and forth over the beauty bark that covered the playground. Although she spent most nights under the veil of the night sky, it was still hard to believe how many stars there were twinkling above. Counting them calmed her mind and gave solace through the sleepless nights. For her, slumber was short and sparse. Rest only came when her desperate body forced her into sleep out of survival, and the sleep was dreamless when they were good. But most of the time, her slumbers were nightmares reincarnated from the chaos she struggled with her mind while she was awake.

Beyond the horizon, the night’s endless black sea was split by the pillar of white light piercing the skies. The Light was another tool for her restless mind to find some sort of peace. Some nights she’d stare off into the Light and buried her mind in its womb. It was there when she returned. It was there for her to go to. Though she doesn’t know how to go there, by what means to get there, or by when she needs to get there by. Even the reasons were now unclear. But an imperative calling in her heart urged her to go. A mission in her life; a promise from her past.

She looked down. The black band that appeared with her and the Light dangled on her wrist—always teasingly slipping out of her dainty hand. It was cold as ice. Even on the hottest days, it would be frigid and it was thin like a sheet of glass. But despite how thin it was, it felt tougher than the hardest of rocks.

It was her only possession and her only companion. Somewhere deep within her among the bodies of buried memories was a small kindle of memories that tried to remind her of its significance. An echo of the past that she wanted to—needed to remember. Or perhaps those were all just her imaginations.

Three young boys, drifters and wanderers of the empty city, watched the girl since she began counting the stars. With the shriveled hearts of scavengers and a foolish confidence deriving only from their number, the boys believed they were rulers of night. Behind a corner, shrouded by the night’s shadows, they amused themselves observing their prey. She was dressed in a jacket, which seemed to be a secondhand of a secondhand; a homeless man probably donned it until he saw a girl who seemed in need of charity even more than he did. Beneath the thin, shabby jacket, she donned a ruffled one piece dress that was barely excusable as clothing and seemed more fitting as rags. Its color was tarnished to such oblivion that one could hardly believe that it was once cloud white. Her tiny feet were filthy with dirt, mud, and god-knows-whatever-else she picked up on her barefoot journey, her face as pale as the moon, her hair pitch-black as the unlit night, and both littered with traces of her long and directionless journey. She was small. She was weak. She was alone.

The girl’s skin tightened, and her hair rose when she heard the flurry of footsteps coming her way. Without hesitation, she rose from her seat on the swing and began to flee away from the encroaching steps. Her body and mind were still fatigued. Her legs wobbled and she felt as if she could be carried away by the wind. She forced herself to flee as frantically as she could. She didn’t want to be a bother to anyone or even be a person of the faintest interest.

“Hey, you!” a voice pitched in that awkward range of a young boy transitioning into a young man called out to her. “Hold on a moment!”

Her heart beat violently, and her face was crushed with terror. Her eyes didn’t blink and kept themselves set on the outskirts of the playground. The exit. Just a little more. She heard the boys behind her trying to mute their laughter. As she wobbled faster, the boys gave a short and easy chase. The young drifters surrounded the dainty vagrant. They walked slowly to match the girl’s pace. The girl’s determination remained unshaken by the boys who surrounded her as she headed towards somewhere away from them.

“Going home?” The same voice from before now bluntly mocked her. It was a boy with a fresh buzz cut. The thin patches on his head and the baby sprouts of hair growing above his upper lip suggested he was a dirty blond. He wasn’t big, but plump, and squarely built. His face was scrunched together as if someone had squeezed the face of a ball of dough, and the dough was decorated with red spots of adolescence. Standing next to the homeless girl, he felt as if he was twice as big than he actually was.

The rest of his gang consisted of a short boy with curly ginger hair, freckles and metal braces that laced over his teeth, and a boy with skin the color of sand with thick black hair and even thicker eyebrows. He was the tallest of them all. The two laughed at their leader’s every remark.

“Are you a hooker?” The ginger boy asked. “Ma said any homeless girls running around are just hookers and no good addicts. Can I pay you for some services?”

The girl kept walking, whimpering a bit from fear. The boys laughed.

“Oh my god, she’s like a small dog,” The sandy boy remarked through his giggles. “I feel so bad for her. Hey, are you hungry?” He reached into his pocket and threw a piece of gum at the girl. She paid no attention to it as it bounced off her jacket. The girl ignored the boys and only focused on the edge of the playground that was getting closer and closer.

“Didn’t anyone teach you it’s rude to not to listen when people talk to you?” The buzz cut boy pulled her back and threw her onto the ground. “Maybe if you weren’t so rude, your parents would have kept you around…” The boy finished his sentence with a kick. The girl felt the air in her lungs erupt through her mouth, and the pain echoed fruitlessly as her mind and body were already long numb to the sensation. Her eyes stopped blinking and any twinkle of life was gone.

The boys ooo’ed and cackled.

“Jeez, son, how can you kick a girl?” The sandy boy laughed. “Didn’t yo daddy teach you not to lay your hands on women?”

“Hey, hey, what if she’s that Witch everyone’s talking about on TV?” The ginger boy masked his fear with a jovial tone.

“The Witch?” The buzz cut boy scoffed. “If she is the Witch, then she deserves to be kicked around a lil’, doesn’t she? And my daddy didn’t say nothin’ about laying hands on worthless garbage like her!” The buzz cut boy kicked her again and then stomped on her.

“Dirtyin’ up the streets and takin’ our money!” He stomped on her and then kicked her. “They’re filthy, man. Filthy! Get a job! Do somethin’ with your life! Stop leechin’ off of us people who’re doin’ somethin’!”

The only reaction from the girl was the sound of life escaping through her mouth in small grunts. After his short beating, the buzz boy poked her around a little bit with the toes of his shoe. Even through her thin jacket and one-piece dress, he could feel the bony body. The girl had barely any meat on her. He smiled satisfyingly realizing that his blows were probably very painful.

“Yeah! My daddy didn’t say nothin’ about worthless people like her either!” The ginger boy said as he mimicked the buzz boy by kicking the girl even more. His kicks were awkward and weak—especially compared to the previous attacker. He was the shortest of the bunch and his voice squeaked as if he was the youngest.

“You don’t have a daddy, Frankie,” The sandy boy remarked, looking the ginger boy dead in the eye.

“Shut up! Ass!” The ginger boy took his frustration out by kicking the girl across her face. A tear on her lip warmed her face with blood. He was swiftly smacked across the back of his head with such force by the buzz boy that he fell to the ground beside the girl.

“Don’t touch her face, you idiot!” The buzz boy yelled. “What are you, an animal?” He looked the ginger boy squarely in the eye who looked confused and barely holding back the tears.

The buzz boy knelt down near the girl’s face and inspected the damage.

“Hey…” the buzz boy gently slapped her face. “Hey, are you the Witch? Maybe we’re doing the world more than a favor right now. Maybe we’re about to be heroes.” He brushed her hair aside and was for a moment startled. There was blood on her perky lips. Dirt and small cuts on her white cheeks. But her eyes. Her eyes were wide open, yet dead. She didn’t have a scintilla of anger, fear, or sorrow. The eyes were simply there, witnessing.

“Why you starin’ at her, Johnny? You falling in love?” the sandy boy teased.

“Shut up, retard.” The buzz boy studied the girl closer. If they weren’t so dead, her eyes would have been entrancing. Her lips were shaped perfectly as if someone sculpted them on her. Her smooth face with its innocent features made Johnny blush. He flipped the girl over, and as if she suddenly awakened, the girl began to struggle violently. She violently flailed her arms and kicked her legs as much as she could with Johnny’s weight on top of her.

“Whoa, whoa! What are you doing Johnny?” the ginger boy spoke in shock.

“Shut up. You and Manny just watch to see if anyone’s coming,” Johnny spoke with his eyes glowing something grotesque and putrid.

“Hey… are you serious? Johnny? You’re crazy!” Manny sounded more excited than shocked.

As Johnny leaned in closer, the girl slapped him across the face. It was weak. It was pathetic. At the same time it was eye opening and degrading—especially with his boys laughing at him. He returned her slap with a proper rage-filled slap. Her arms and legs stopped flailing and her body stilled as if she was dead. The signs of life from her eyes were extinguished yet again.

Johnny’s lips quivered as he leaned in closer again for his first kiss.  Manny yelping like a kicked dog abruptly interrupted Johnny’s sacred moment. Before Johnny could complain, he felt a violent tug on his shirt. Without a moment to think, he was flung away from the girl. Johnny looked up and saw a boy near his age standing over him. His eyes were that of an angered beast, and his face was inhumanly distorted with anger. Johnny was staring at a real lion—an actual carnivore about to devour his meal.

Johnny tried to stand, but the beast pounced on top of him. Without giving Johnny even a chance to whimper the first syllable of his plea, the beast’s fist buried itself into the bully’s face.

“You…!” the beast spoke as his other fist buried into Johnny’s face.

“…Sick!…” Back to the original fist.

“…Cowardly!..” The other fist again.

“…Piece of…!” The right.

“…Garbage!…” The left.

With a roar, the beast wailed on with just brutality on Johnny’s face until his blood mulched into a nice cushion. Once the beast was done, Johnny stared silently at the beast with tears drizzling from his eyes. Defeated and petrified with the fear that even breathing too loudly would earn him more beatings. The beast, still on top of Johnny, now turned his attention to the rest of Johnny’s posse. Manny and Frankie had been frozen with their eyes bearing the horror. They weren’t sure if they were breathing through the entire frenzy. Without protest, they frantically stumbled to their feet and fled hysterically from the scene.

“Get out of here.” The beast dismounted from the buzz boy and stood over him. “If I see you doing things like this again, I’ll bury you.” The beast inspected his battered hands. The adrenaline-induced numbness was diminishing. His hands were a bloody pulp, bruised, and torn, but not all of the blood was his. He stared down Johnny as the boy struggled to stand. With a battered face that his mother might not even recognize, Johnny glimpsed at the beast before limping away from the playground without a single word or complaint.

With buzz boy leaving, the boy checked up on the girl.

“Are you okay?” The boy crouched beside the girl. Her eyes were glued to the skies and he looked up along with her to see what she was seeing. Stars. Countless stars that filled the skies. He glimpsed back at her and his heart sunk at how void of life her eyes were.

“Hey,” the boy tried again, clearing his throat. “Are you alright? They’re gone now.” He reached his hand out to gently nudge her shoulders. As the boy’s battered hand closed in on the girl life came back into her eyes. It startled the boy. She let out a scream and scurried away from the boy. That startled him even more. She hid under a big metal slide, hugging her legs close, and buried her head into them.

“Geez!” the boy chuckled as he studied his hand. “Ow! I guess I wouldn’t want to be touched by these hands either…” The boy looked at the girl whose head was still buried into her legs.

“Promise you won’t tell,” the boy said with a smile to his audience of one who paid no attention to him. He stared at his hands and concentrated. A stream of energy engulfed his hands as if every particle of his skin was becoming part of the stream itself. He wondered if this was smart. It wouldn’t be too surprising for her to turn against him knowing now that he was a Gifted. She could probably also find herself someone who’d pay her well for the information. His hands slowly began to repair themselves, knitting together the torn flesh and even ‘burning’ away the mess of blood on them into streams.

“Ta-da~!” The boy looked up at the girl and wiggled all of his fresh fingers. To his surprise, she was looking his way. Her eyes were opened as wide as they could be, and her hand stretched as far it could with her trembling palm facing him. Startled, the boy lost his balance and fell backwards only to be saved from his tumble by a wall.

A wall?

There should be nothing but an empty space behind him. The boy quickly looked back to find the buzz boy standing behind him with a brick in his hand frozen in motion from striking down.

The boy looked at the girl. It was her doing. She was a Gifted like him.

“You… frea…ks!” Johnny, with much effort, barely managed to squeeze out those words through his teeth. The girl closed her palm into a fist, and the brick in Johnny’s hand spilled down his arm as dust.

The rescuer now the rescued met eye-to-eye with his could-have-been-assailant in amazement.

“Wow,” he gently admired. “This is pretty cool.” As he poked at Johnny who was clearly annoyed by the gesture, the boy started to recall the things he heard of the most famous Gifted of them all. The pieces and hints of her that he had heard on the news and during his travels. His guts told him he had found her but his head refused to believe those pieces and hints put together painted a young, homeless girl.

“You really shouldn’t have come back, man.” The boy clenched his hand into a fist. “I think you earned yourself another beating.” His fist cut through the air and stopped right before it made contact on Johnny’s face. Fresh tears began to drizzle down Johnny’s eyes and his pants darkened.

“No sense in it, is there?” The boy turned his head to the girl. “Can you let him go?”

She seemed surprised and uncertain. But she nodded and lowered her hand. As the hold on Johnny’s body released, Johnny collapsed onto the ground. He quickly studied the hand that held the brick and then analyzed the damage on his pants.

“You should run,” the boy said.

Johnny fled on all fours until he eventually found himself on his two feet at the edge of the playground. He took a glance at the boy and a glance at the girl then walked away, cursing under his breath as he left.

“You freaks will have what’s coming!” Johnny turned back once he had reached the exit to the playground and spoke just loud enough to be barely considered a shout.

“Maybe I should have smacked him once more,” the boy spoke light-heartedly as he watched the bully walk away with his tail between his legs. He turned to the girl with a smile and said, “But given what people think about us with these ‘gifts,’ I thought we ought to be a little more generous than others. My mom always did say to be the bigger man.” The girl’s head was buried in her legs once again; except, this time he noticed she was furtively peeking out at him. The boy shook out his shaggy dark hair for the little bits of brick dust that got sprinkled in from earlier.

“Thanks by the way,” the boy said. “We should get out of here. It’s especially not safe for people like ‘us.’” He squinted to find her peeking eye in the darkness. As their eyes met, she hid it away behind her legs. The boy walked gingerly towards the girl and sat just barely a hands reach away from her. She flinched a little bit, but there weren’t any screams or fleeing.

Progress?

“Hey,” The boy spoke softly as he would to a young child. “Did you hear me? It’s not safe at night—especially for someone tiny as you. They might come back. Maybe with even more people now that he knows we’re couple of freaks.”

No response. Not even a budge. She reminded the boy of a hedgehog rolled up into a ball, hiding away from the scary world. He poked at the ball with his finger. Her body was cold, stiff, and thin.

The boy searched his bag and pulled out a small, white paper bag.

“You’ve got to be starving,” the boy said as he pulled out a white, powdered, jelly donut from the paper bag. “Here,” he said as he wiggled the donut in front of the girl. She gave it no real attention.

“It’s really good,” the boy said as he tore the donut in two and put the half of it in his mouth. He wasn’t exactly sure why he thought doing this would help to entice her to eat it as well other than that he saw it on TV and movies. But perhaps because of the smell of the donut’s sweet nectar, the sight of its glistening jelly under the moonlight, or simply from having to witness someone devour a meal with an empty stomach, the girl’s eyes twinkled as she quietly and secretly observed the boy. The boy carefully offered her the remaining half of the donut and she cautiously accepted with slightly trembling hands. She first sniffed the soft and powdery bread with certain amount of discretion. Her eyes widened and she sniffed the bread again with a bit more excitement. It wasn’t long before she finally decided to lick the jelly. A lick quickly turned to two and the two turned into a bite after bite until the donut was no more.

“Why didn’t you stop them if you could do what you did back there?” The boy worryingly asked as he watched the girl finish the donut. As he had expected she didn’t give him an answer and he quietly watched her licking the red goo off her fingers. After she was done the girl stared at the boy as if she wanted to say something. Her lips moved ever so slightly as if she had said something to him before she went back into her cocoon again.

“Well, I’m gonna go then. You’re on your own, alright?” The boy stood up and began to walk slowly away from the girl. He peeked back to check if there was any response from the hedgehog.

There wasn’t.

He almost made it out of the playground until he realized his actions were futile and made a U-turn back to her. She peeked at the footsteps coming back to her. The girl observed as the boy tossed aside his backpack and took his jacket off. The boy was stripped to his thin, plain white t-shirt. The season was getting warmer, but lacking a jacket made him realize it was still formidably chilly during the night. When he turned her way, the girl hid away once more. She felt his jacket softly caress her. The boy then took off his shoes and his socks. He stuffed his socks into his shoes and placed them by her feet.

“A girl should be wearing shoes,” the boy remarked. “And I swear those socks are clean. They’re a new pair I just got.”

After he gave the girl the gifts, the boy gave her a comfortable distance before finding a place to sit. He hugged his legs much like her but for warmth. Shivering slightly, he buried his head into his legs. The boy constantly reminded himself that he was a sentry for the evening and he was not to fall asleep. The girl, however, unlike the boy watchman, slipped into slumber after the violent incident took the last ounce of energy out of her.

He stayed awake for hours until the black night sky waned to a lighter purple from the rising sun. His young mind relented to fatigue for what he figured to be half-an-hour, or perhaps three-quarters-of-an-hour of slumber. When he opened his eyes, he noticed the jacket he gave the girl was no longer blanketing her. Instead, the jacket blanketed him.

“Thanks,” he quietly muttered uncertain if she was still awake. The girl carefully poked her head above her legs. They stared awkwardly in silence for a short moment.

“My name is Kalin,” the boy introduced himself. “Want to go get some breakfast? I’m starving.” He wasn’t really that hungry, but he felt the need to feed the girl. “I can pay for us.” Kalin stood and gave his body a morning stretch before he offered his hand to the girl. The girl stared at the boy with her eyes filled mostly with curiosity and still slightly with intimidation. Ever so carefully, her gauntly hand reached out for his. When her hand softly landed into his, he gently enclosed his hand around hers.

For her, the small gesture was a paramount reminder.

A reminder of how much warmth there was supposed to be when you touch another person. Even though his hand and her hand were both frigid from the night, warmth ignited within her as his hand wrapped around hers.

“Ruby.”

Her voice was so soft that it sounded like a gentle wind passing by.

“My name is Ruby.”

The revelation made the smile on the boy’s face even wider. With Ruby’s hand in his, Kalin led them out into the daylight.


Revised Edition of Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian will be released TOMORROW  (12/9/2015)!

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