10 Quests to Write and then to Publish / General Steps from Writing to Publishing

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Quest 1: Decide if you’re Pantsing or Plotting

Have an idea.

Then choose:

Want to just start writing and figure out as you go? Pantsing!

Want to plan out every detail and then write? Plotting!

Quest complete.

 

Quest 2: Finish First Draft.

Figure out a writing schedule.

Stick to your writing schedule.

??? (usually sweat, tears, and self-hate)

Quest complete.

 

Quest 3: Don’t share your first draft.

Thinking about giving these out to beta readers? NO.

Thinking about querying agents? NO.

Thinking about having your dying grandmother read this? NO.

Quest complete.

 

Quest 4: Start your second draft.

Optional Sub-Quest: Give yourself some distance between you and your manuscript.

Read through your first draft.

Make the necessary corrections and changes.

Quest complete.

 

Quest 5: Repeat Quest 4 until you feel it’s ready.

Repeat Quest 4 until you feel it’s ready.

Quest complete.

 

Quest 6: Beta Readers

Find other heroes to join your quest.

Hopefully, they are those who you can trust to be honest with you and give you a variety of insights.

Tip: If they’re people you know, they should be people who are comfortable enough to call you a moron if the need arises and have strong enough bond with you to tell you to not waste any more time on your manuscript if it’s horseshit.

Listen to their judgments and insights.

Quest complete.

 

Quest 7: Another day, Another draft.

Compile all the notes you’ve gathered from your beta readers.

Make a new draft of your manuscript based on the notes.

Quest complete.

 

Quest 8: Choose your class.

Self-Publishing or Traditional

Class descriptions:

Self-Publishing:

High risk, high reward.

With all the freedom comes with it the burden of fugue

Even the risks are up to the players to decide depending on their goals and investment.

While it’s true that this can be a low-investment, non-pay-2-win class, most experienced players would say otherwise.

Or as Michael J. Sullivan, a notable self-published player, said recently to the question what if you don’t have a day job that you can balance to support this class,

“Marry rich.”

A personal note from the scribe of this quest is that he wished he had around 3500 USD to invest in his first book before starting out. 1500 USD minimum.

The general rules of thumbs are:

  1. Don’t expect to make much money.
  2. No one will find your book until you shove it into their hands.
  3. Write at least three before expecting a profit.

Traditional:

Relatively low risk but still grind-heavy.

The well-established, longest enduring class. That being the case, the progression for this class is clearly mapped out for those who want to go down this path.

Finish manuscript -> Get an Agent -> Get a Publisher.

While the steps seem simple, it can be a grueling and even a life-long task for many to complete the second step of this journey.

As in the name of this class, this is still what the most of the public traditionally consider as a writer and hence comes with it the prestige and network that most self-published authors will not be able to enjoy.

Even the upfront payment by the publisher is probably more money than most self-published authors will ever see with their work.

However, while it is a bragging-right of sorts, often the writers themselves will realize that the payoff of the class is more-or-less may be the same as most of their self-published authors in the long run—if not worse.

Not to mention that more often than not, most writers with publishers will not enjoy a lot of the luxuries that writers assume that they’d receive.

The general rules of thumb are:

  1. Don’t expect to make much money.
  2. No one will find your book until you shove it into their hands.
  3. Your manuscript should be at a point of you not being embarrassed if that gets leaked to the public before you start querying agents.

Quest Complete?

 

HERE COMES A NEW CHALLENGER!

 

“Hybrid Author”

Self-Pub, Trad, they do it all. Their success entirely in their hands.

No balance patch will be applied.

Tip: The author mentioned previously, Michael J. Sullivan, always shares his wealth of knowledge having experienced all three classes. 

Check out his Reddit Page here: /u/MichaelJSullivan

If that link is there, that means I got his permission to do so.

Quest 9: Do your class quests.

Self-Pub

  • Figure out your budget.
  • Figure out editing.
  • Figure out the cover art.
  • Figure out blurb.
  • Figure out marketing.
  • Figure out networking.
  • Figure out where to publish.
  • Figure out how to publish.
  • Figure out the circumstances of the publishing.
  • Figure out any legal matters that need to be resolved before publishing.
  • Publish?

Trad

  • Find your potential agents.
  • Query, Query, Query.
  • Sit.
  • Wait.
  • Found an agent!
  • Celebrate!
  • Sit.
  • Wait.

Quest Complete.

 

Quest 10: Do it all again.

Do it all again.

Do it all again.

Do it all again.

 


 

In my next blog post, I’ll probably go into what my experiences were like.

What I wish I’d have done differently.

And what I want to do in the future.

I’ve done something like that already in the past but given the years it has passed since then, I think it might offer a new insight.

ARAMIRU OUT

Chronicles of the Otherworld: Season 1 Audiobook is available now!

Check it out HERE

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

Writing Workshop: “How to write Characters with ‘X'” [X-Post from Reddit]

This is a post I’ve posted on Reddit recently that I thought I’d put on the blog as well for extra views because it got decently popular for archival reasons.

I’m definitely not recycling content.

In the end, I’ll add on additional thoughts I have regarding the topic.





 

Alright.

I’m hoping that showed up. You can click on it to see the discussions that ensued.

The reason I decided to write that post is clear. I don’t have any content right now for the blog that’s ready to ship and I need to drive traffic to keep the webpage alive. It’s like finding a dead rodent and tying some strings on it to make it move around as if it’s alive.

But it’s also clear that I wrote that because maybe it’s good to let some people know that writing requires some legwork at times.

It’s a creative endeavor.

You can do whatever the hell you want.

You can do it however the hell you want.

But others will have an opinion about it.

To the extent how much you care about that depends on your goals as the creator.

To the extent how much you want to shape their experience depends on your goals as the creator.

If you need to be factually accurate or have some honesty to the experience you’re trying to portray then maybe you need to do your homework.

We’ll make mistakes.

But it’s better to get a C+ than a F.

Unless you’re Asian.

Then you f$%cked up when you go home with a C+.

“Maybe you shouldn’t make a joke that stereotypes a certain racial group”

 

Maybe you should shut the f#$* up and learn to take a bad joke. Because life’s full of them and learning to differentiate malice from humor is probably a better way of accepting the world as the way it is, a more decent way to get along with others from all walks of life, trying to not be a control freak to fit the world to your narrative, and overall just keepin’ things more chill and fun.

What am I on about.

As Eminem once said…

WILL SMITH DON’T GOTTA CUSS IN HIS RAPS TO SELL RECORDS. WELL, I DO, SO FUCK HIM AND FUCK YOU TOO!

willsmithgenie.jpg
I’m sure the world collectively cussed when we saw this. Including Mr. Smith.

ARAMIRU OUT

Chronicles of the Otherworld: Season 1 Audiobook is available now!

Check it out HERE

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

 

P. S. I really like Will Smith.

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 4)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3



19 Years and 7 months

 

Beelzebub.

Isn’t it funny?

The idea of love fascinates humans.

Love redefines joy.

Its end redefines pain.

…Isn’t it marvelous?

Maybe that’s why it fascinates you as well.

This inexplicable phenomenon they try to explain as a byproduct of their need to procreate.

But somehow they accept that we, the divine, must be able to love as well.

They have faith—faith—that even He loves them.

When was the last time that He put his loins into anyone?

Some of them say it’s more of a mystical occurrence of their human experience.

A little spark of magic and beyond in their minuscule presence in the endless time and space.

But why invite such vulnerability to their already fragile existence?

I find it all very amusing, Beelzebub.

And I find it very potent.

There is truly a before and an after to humans when it comes to their first true love and the first heartbreak.

Something they wish they’d never experience, and yet, something so profound that those who haven’t experienced it are at a sincere loss of what it means to be human.

Even their foulest have a moment of innocence when it comes to their first heartbreak.

And it is there—yes, there—where all of them can truly realize that life is unfair. 

A reality check.

There. Is. No. Magic.

‘Irreversible’ is real.

‘Impossible’ is real.

Something so beautiful is fleetingly ephemeral and yet its damages so eternal.

Not everyone will be involved in heinous violence like rape, murder, or war.

Not everyone will experience detrimental deprivations of neglect, starvation, or incapacity.

All of the other devastating, palpable consequences of free will.

But nearly all of them will experience their fellow human’s freedom to give their hearts and take it away.

∗∗∗

“Am I wrong, Beezebub?” Suzie softly asked with a moist voice.

∗∗∗

To walk away from the road the two had paved together.

The betrayal.

Falling into the pit of desperate denial that everything they had wasn’t meaningless.

∗∗∗

“I should just let him go, right?”

∗∗∗

But how could the road have meant anything if the destination itself disappeared?

Everything they’ve been working towards.

All they’ve been through.

Poof. Gone.

∗∗∗

Beelzebub stared out the window of Suzie’s apartment. Neglecting to acknowledge his brother’s words from beyond. Suzie’s roommates were out for the night. As if in a scene of a movie, it was pouring rain.

“Beelzebub,” Suzie sobbed sitting on her bed. “I wish… I wish… I never met him.”

He had seen her cry before. But never like this. Thick droplets of tears poured out of her eyes. Each droplets draining her.

There are mothers who’ve watched their children die.

Men who stared at their friends as they were drawing their last breaths.

A young woman experiencing heartbreak wasn’t something even close to being comparable.

“I…” Suzie choked on her words.

But the voice of his brother had a point. It was all too common. All too relatable. Palpable.

Never like this.

She’s never been like this.

Beelzebub let out a deep sigh.

Don’t deny of me this Beelzebub.

She’s mine as much as she is yours.

“…I love him,” Suzie confessed. “But I’m scared”

Don’t deny yourself of this.

“He messed up and I… I fucked up too. I feel like if I don’t stop him now… We won’t ever be okay. But… but… what if I lay it all out after what he’s done and he’s not worth it? What if we fight to make this work and it’s all just meaningless? Like, mom and dad?”

I know what you’re thinking you want to tell her.

She’s too young to know what real love is in the real world.

And she’s young enough to find someone else.

Someone she doesn’t have this kind of history with.

This kind of tarnish.

Something fresh.

“You’re worried that you’ll end up like your mom and dad?” Beelzebub asked without turning away from the window.

But let her pursue.

“I’m worried that I’m ripping my own heart apart over something I can just move on from!”

She’ll fail like most of them do.

And then we can show her the path. The right path.

“I can move on right?” Suzie asked. “This’ll just be another thing that happened in my life in a month. Maybe a year.”

Don’t. Let. This. Opportunity. Go.

“You’re right. You’re young,” Beelzebub told Suzie. “Your life hasn’t even begun yet. You’ll probably get over  this.”

…Beelzebub…

“Yeah,” Suzie seemed to understand what Beelzebub wanted to say. “Yeah.”

“There’ll probably be other guys. Other loves. Plenty of time for all that,” Beelzebub turned around and faced Suzie.

“So what’s there to lose?” Beelzebub smiled.

Instantaneously, Suzie darted out of her room. Ran down the stairs of her apartment. Like the movies, it was raining. And like the movies, she saw him standing in the rain unable to leave for the same reasons she was now standing behind him.

“Jay,” Suzie carefully called out his name.

She worried that perhaps the rain drowned out her voice and he’d walk away.

“Suzie,” He turned around in surprise. She was there getting more drenched by the second. His mind and emotions in too much of a chaos to express how happy and surprised he was to see her.

Suzie searched for words. Anger and doubt still lingered for a moment that felt like it was made of thin glass.

“I—”

“I love you,” He interrupted her. “I love you. And I… I want to make this work. I’m sorry. And I… I don’t want to be without you.”

The devil watched from Suzie’s room as she ran towards the young man to embrace him. They held each other in the rain under the street lamps. The world around them had stopped existing a long ago.

It was too much like the movies.

But sometimes.

People were allowed to have their movie moment.

A magical moment they’ll cherish. A near fantasy others may not believe. But the magic they’ll always have them believing in something beyond what’s there.

Because they were witnesses to it.

They’re the evidence of it.

And because it makes life just a little more than what it is.

The devil had disappeared by the time the two young lovers returned.

 

∗∗∗

 

“You did that?” Binkle asked Beelzebub in surprise as he handed Satan his bottle of dark lager.

“Why?” Satan questioned Beelzebub.

Satan decided to visit Beelzebub at The Center, Beelzebub’s bar in Hell, after their incident earlier with Suzie. He took the form of what a scotch whiskey and a dark lager would look like as a man from the 80s. The gruff man gave a piercing stare as he analyzed his brother.

“Why? Why? I did what I wanted and it happened to also be what you wanted. You know what you get when you complain even after getting what you want?” Beelzebub took a sip of his drink. Today was a drink that’s equal parts vodka, triple sec, and lime juice. It had a name that was perhaps a bit too on the nose for today’s occasion.

“You get to be Daddy’s least favorite. He’s always hated you.”

“Whatever the case,” Satan stood and raised his bottle. “Here’s to the young lovers. For its blossoming spring and its eventual winter.”

“Seriously. He’s always hated you,” Beelzebub raised his glass. “Y’know, for being a creep.”

Satan finished his bottle in one quick chug.

“And I’ve always found you painfully weak,” Satan placed the empty bottle on the table and the money to pay for it. “Painfully weak and unpleasurable. I’m sure you saw as I did what will happen. You did what’s coming to her as much as I. But don’t fret. It’ll all be for the best. Though I suppose I’m a bit confounded on exactly why you’re being more… nettlesome… than usual.”

“Oh, is it not obvious?” Beelzebub looked surprised. “It’s because of you. Hearing your voice makes me want to pray. Seeing you makes me want to get on my knees and tell Pops that I’m sorry. You’re welcome to free me of this misery at any time.”

Satan smiled. He gave a nod to Binkle, put on his hat, and whistled as he exited the bar.

“I’m surprised you let Satan have his way,” Binkle spoke soon as the door closed behind Satan.

“Love is a beautiful thing while it lasts,” Beelzebub answered as he continued to sip on his drink.

“I’m certain Satan foresaw something in the girl’s future where having this boy in her life will hurt her. Did you see otherwise?”

Beelzebub shook his head.

A person’s future was an uncertain thing. It’s a messy grid full of knots and every direction that only became more of a disarray as the person grew older. But certain choices have fewer detours and pathways than others. And some lead to dead ends.

“Oh,” Binkle froze for a moment. Caught by a surprise to his boss’s response though he was uncertain why. His boss was simply doing his duty.

“Alright then. I guess I should be expecting to see her here sometime,” Binkle smiled as he went on to make drinks for his other customers.

“Perhaps,” Beelzebub finished his cocktail. He stared at his empty glass. He remembered the rain. Not even all the raindrops he had seen this evening would amount to the souls he had seen come and go.

Who could possibly care for them all?

 



 

It took a long time to post this.

As always, I apologize for the delay.

The greatest concern with this chapter was regarding if it did appropriate enough job building momentum for the next chapter–the final chapter.

And I guess it’s there, in the final chapter, where I’ll actually discuss my thoughts on finishing this little what-was-supposed-to-be-a-simple-fun-side-project and what the actual process ended up being like.

Thank you always for reading.

See you all next time.

It’ll be sooner than later.

I know I always say that.

ARAMIRU OUT

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Quick Review: Rampage

Rampage

Look.

It’s a summer flick that came out in spring.

There’s the Rock making jokes about his muscle, a giant monkey, a giant flying wolf, and a giant crocodile.

I hope I don’t need a spoiler warning for this one.

What could I possibly spoil?

Not only has it been *insert number of months/weeks/days since movie release here* since I’m a lazy writer, but also it’s a movie based on a 1980s arcade game that didn’t have a plot other than basically those three above causing a ra—… havoc across America.

That’s basically the entire plot.

Animals got big and they decided to go smash, smash, smash. And the American treasure, The Rock, has to save the day.

3630750300_f1cd14cdc3_b.jpg
You can smile like this too if you had his work ethic.

Trying to go any deeper or even explaining the plot of this film is doing it a disservice.

And why are you going to go see Rampage for some clever plot? You need to accept that if you go watch this film with an analytical mindset, trying to break down all of its components to judge its merits by some aristocratic standards of cinema, you’ll come out of the theaters dumber.

You boob. 

There’s a monkey giving the middle finger, more blood and gore than I expected from a PG-13 movie, and surprisingly fun jump scares.

The jokes are low brow and predictable but I still found them amusing (and pleasantly surprised there wasn’t a poop throwing scene. I fully expected it from this film).

Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is playing a token-Texan Negan.

There’s the guy (Jake Lacy) who was in the last few seasons of The Office and it seems like he’s just not giving a damn about being part of this film. Actually, no one seems like they’re giving even half of an effort except the American treasure, The Rock.

Dwayne_Johnson_2,_2013.jpg

Respect.

Seriously. He seems like an awesome guy.

Anyways.

In short, it’s a dumb film with some really well-done moments that if you were to see those moments by themselves in isolation, you might be tricked to believing that its a better quality movie than it actually is.

In some sense, I guess it’s respectable effort given the source material…

rampage-1
Source Material

…and probably the best film adaptation of a video game I’ve ever seen…

Wow. I just depressed myself a little.

Umm.

Yeah.

Go see this film for a mindless fun. Just sit back, sip on your soda, and enjoy. It’ll be as worthwhile as spending that 25 cents back in the day to play the arcade game at the bowling alley.

Except this time you’ve spent 20 dollars and 2 hours of your life.

I’m going to go look through the list of film adaptations of video games to see if I can cure myself of this depression.

 

Expected: 2 / 10

Got: 4 / 10

 



 

4dx
No. No, you’re not. You’re in a cheap imitation of an amusement park ride that’s imitating an experience in a movie. You’re in a derivative of a derivative. Might as well spin around in your office chair and say you’re in a tornado. Have your office friends throw stuff at you for a more authentic experience than 4DX. You’re welcome.

Wait.

I’m not done yet.

Just don’t do the 4DX.

Just why? Why does this exist as the means to save the theaters?

Do kids really enjoy this?

The 4DX experience preview was better than the actual experience watching the film.

Water spray smelled funny.

Air blow was annoying.

The seat shook and tilted too much that it turned from fun to a road trip across the Rockies on a Daewoo Tico.

AND I KNOW. I’m sure there are a lot of you out there who enjoy it very much and I seem like a guy who finds shaking canes at dead cats and being charmingly anachronistically racist as my idea for fun.

a. s. aramiru.jpg
Hi. A. S. Aramiru revealed.

But as it is now, 4DX is a gimmick and films haven’t found a way to properly incorporate this technology to actually enhance the experience.

It’s just distracting.

I felt like I was sitting on a lap of a Russian circus strongman as he rocked me and shook me around while watching the film.

I see potential with the technology purely based on its preview experience but have doubts any studio will invest the effort and money necessary to synchronize film experience with the 4DX experience.

Prove me wrong, Hollywood. Or Bollywood.

 

Expected: Nothing

Got: F***ed



 

ARAMIRU CAN’T SMELL NOTHIN’ CAUSE OF ALLERGIES!

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Short Story: The Devil & Me (Part 3)

Part 1

Part 2



14 Years and 10 months

 

There are days that are more memorable than most. The kind of days that people relive in their minds through their entire lives. Sometimes we know it before those kinds of days happen but, more often than not, they tend to be a surprise gift. A happy accident.

But for some, even those serendipitous days are marked by something constant. A constant that refuses to wane or be forgotten. The blot on each page of their lives. Nothing short of a real-life curse. An imp sitting over their heads who nested somewhere deep within their minds and hearts.

Bleeding into their senses. Their wisdom. And their beings.

It’s there when they laugh. There when they love. And even there when they cry. Even as their tears roll down their cheeks, it’s the voice that tells them it’s not enough and yet they should be ashamed for giving into it.

For Suzie Lee the week on the lake with her friends and their chaperones would remain one of her happiest and the most adventurous moments of her childhood. It was her days that were more memorable than most.

They canoed through the wakes of the wild waters. They hiked through the creaking trees and where the wildlife cooed and watched. There was even an encounter with a bear and what was the most frightening moment of these young girls lives, in the end, became just another chapter of their adventure.

The fourth evening of their seven-day trip would be the most memorable moment for Suzie. But it would exist as almost a pocket memory of its own. Not because of the Devil but because it was another blot on an otherwise a perfect memory.

A more painful blot because it would have been, otherwise, a perfect childhood memory.

Suzie sat on the dock. Their red and yellow canoes were beached off on the side. The setting sun painted the lake with a blue and purple hue. The few islands they’ve visited filled the horizon like black domes, slowly losing their details to the fading light.

Blanketed by the grandiose nature and its twilight lit visage, Suzie wondered how difficult it’d be for her to drown herself in the lake.

If she pencil dived, no one might notice.

Pockets full of rocks.

A steely determination.

And then… fade away.

Into the cold.

Into the darkness.

No. Be real. Suzie told herself.

Pencil dive.

Pockets full of rocks.

A violent struggle.

Water pouring in through every crevice of her body.

Filling her lungs and stomach.

Possible last minute of regret.

Then… fade away.

Dangling in the cold. In the darkness. Her corpse gently being pushed one way or the other by the current.

Friends would cry. The family would cry. They’d blame themselves without realizing that the person who should be blamed the most was already gone.

And at that moment, Beelzebub appeared before Suzie in the most unnerving way that’d he would ever appear before her in her life.

From the distance, a familiar head slowly poked above the surface of the calm lake.

Beelzebub slowly ascended until he stood on the surface of the lake and stared at Suzie from afar.

He then took his steps towards her and for the first time, Suzie found herself being startled and nervous to see the Devil. She looked behind her at her friends and chaperone in a gregarious clamor. They had no idea that the Lord of the Flies had appeared. She knew they’d be of no help.

By the time she looked back, Beelzebub already stood before her with a stern look that she had never seen him with. But the dock was higher than the surface of the lake, so the Devil glared upwards at the young teen.

“Well, this just isn’t that menacing is it?” Beelzebub said. He climbed up to the dock and stood over Suzie.

“That’s better,” the Devil remarked.

“Hey,” the teen greeted her visitor.

“Hey,” the Devil replied.

“I didn’t call for you, y’know?” Suzie remarked.

“Your precious heart that wants to kill itself did,” the Devil didn’t sound much concerned.

“My heart, huh?” Suzie didn’t seem too impressed neither. “I have to be some special kind of a fuck-up if my crying, bleeding heart calls out to you instead of the other guy.”

“Well, gee, sorry for being a good friend and being there for you in your time of need. You were a lot cuter and more appreciative when you were younger.”

The Devil looked over to the campsite. Girls and women laughing. Telling stories. Eating snacks.

“Why can’t you just go there and enjoy yourself?” The Devil asked.

The girl did not answer.

“You were so happy… during this trip. Weren’t ya?” The Devil looked at Suzie who was still staring off to the lake with disinterest.

“I was,” Suzie finally replied. “And I think I am. Happy.

“But?”

“But what? I can breathe. I’m healthy. I’m with friends. My mom and pop have their issues but I know others have it worse. I should be goddamn happy. I’d be an ungrateful bitch not to be happy. I know that, okay? I know that. I’m so fucking happy.”

“…But?”

“….It’s as if… as if…” Suzie grew more and more agitated. These questions. Her feelings. Her lack of a better answer. The shame of admitting these answers. The embarrassment. “None of this is real? It’s all fading? And I’m just… never going to be able to hold on to anything. And I don’t… I don’t want tomorrow to come because it has to all start over again… and no matter what happens I’ll feel the same. Like something’s broken. Like I’m not good enough for anything. And I can’t get better. I want to be better but I can’t. And I’m so tired of it. I can’t even appreciate… appreciate that I’m out here. I’m just going to mess it all up somehow. I am messing it up.”

Suzie held her tongue. She was rambling. She felt silly. She felt trivial. She didn’t deserve to complain or feel bad.

Beelzebub to let silence come over them. Let them soak in what was said and what they were feeling.

“You thought about getting a shrink?” The Devil carefully asked.

“No. I just feel weird talking to some stranger about my problems. Like shit, you only care because I’m paying you.”

“Well there’s another way,” The Devil smirked.

“…My soul for the cure?”

“…Yeah,” The Devil seemed a bit embarrassed that Suzie stole his punchline.

“Does it work?”

“I wouldn’t offer if I didn’t think it was some sort of a solution.”

Suzie stared at the Devil for a little while and turned back towards the lake.

“Look, I know this beast better than you’ll ever know. It’ll only get worse,” Beelzebub began to make his case. “You’ll feel like you’re always running from your own shadow. And when you stand still it’ll be larger than you remember. You’ll have moments when you forget but those are the moments you’ll realize later just how sick you really are. Hopelessness.”

Suzie buried her face into her arms.

“You’re going to live your life feeling like you’re always just head above water. I’m the guy on the boat. But for me to give you my hand. To throw you the life jacket, I need something from you. I can’t help you without that.”

“…I believe you,” Suzie replied without looking up.

“But?”

“But.”

“You know,” Beelzebub felt flustered. What couldn’t she understand?

“At the end of the day who’s been there for you? When you felt like no one could hear those screams inside, when no one could tell that you were messed up. When you’ve felt alone, rejected, and unheard. Who was there for you?”

“You”

But?!”

“But, you’re you. You’re the devil. You want my soul. That’s what you do.”

“Because I want you to be with me. I want you to be part of what I’m building.”

“And I don’t want to give it,” Suzie finally looked up. “Isn’t this fine the way it is?”

“And what is this, exactly? You don’t think I’m like a shrink? Just coming for your soul? Except I can actually help you.”

“Do you love me?” Suzie stared into the Devil’s eyes.

“What?”

They stared in silence.

“Let’s not get gross, kiddo, alright?” This isn’t… that. Don’t get full of yourself.”

Suzie still stared in silence.

I wasn’t. She mouthed.

“I’m just asking. Do you love me?” She spoke.

“I love more of you than any of you will ever realize,” Beelzebub answered.

“You’re not my shrink. Far as I know our sessions have been free,” Suzie smiled. “I’ve already said no. Or maybe I’m fucking pathetic. I don’t know. But I like you as a friend. Friends tied by odd circumstances. You’ll always want my soul and I’ll always say no. Though the temptations there somewhere. Because this sucks.”

“Life?”

“Knowing that there’s something wrong with me and not being able to do anything about it. That I am the way I am.”

It was a question Beelzebub often pondered. She was the way she was. He was the way he was. But why?

“Is there a God?” Suzie asked.

“Who knows,” Beelzebub answered. It was not a question he could answer. Some of his brothers would tell her “no” or “yes”. Whichever they determined would help the case. But Beelzebub, without truly understanding why, believed his answer to be the correct one.

“If you’re real, He must be as well, right? I hope? For humanity’s sake?”

“That is being hopeful,” Beelzebub gave a sly smile. “Believing that there must be another side to this coin. What if this is it? What if I’m all you get? What’s worse?”

“Must be lonely for you,” Suzie said empathetically.

What?”

“At least, we get to believe. Hope. But you already know. Whether there is or isn’t. Either way, I’d feel like that’d be more lonely. More hopeless. Helpless. I don’t know. Maybe that’s why you come to see me.”

“You really were a better company when you were younger,” Beelzebub chuckled as he pulled out a cigar from thin air. Already cut and lit.

“Then stop coming to see me then.”

Beelzebub took a drag of his cigar and released the smoke into the twilight horizon.

“…can I try?” Suzie asked.

“You’re too poor for this,” Beelzebub answered.

“Suzie?”

“Yeah?” Suzie darted her head around to see her friend.

“We’re making s’mores and we were getting worried. Come join us?”

“Yeah! Sorry!” Suzie quickly looked around to see that the Devil was already gone.

Suzie and her friend chattered and walked back towards the camp as if nothing had happened. As if she had felt nothing. And when she looked back, all there was the empty dock and the beautiful scenery.

No Devil.

She won’t ask him to come back soon or that she’ll miss him.

They were what they were.

∗∗∗

 

Usually, when Beelzebub entered his bar in Hell, it tended to be a bit more cheery. Nods from patrons here and there, some hellos, some flirtations, and sometimes even cheers on more festive nights.

But only choking stillness awaited him this evening.

The bar was full but silent.

Patrons spoke only in sparse whispers.

Obviously uncomfortable, but none willing to be the first to leave. Or at least, none willing to seem like they were eager to leave.

They all glanced at Beelzebub with a spark of hope in their eyes. Pleading eyes that cried,

‘Help.’

And then they quickly turned their heads to their own crowds. Afraid that they would offend that one patron in the bar.

That one patron sat alone by the barside. Eating his order of liver and pomegranate with few flatbreads on the side. He had brought his own bottle of wine and offered some to the barkeep, Binkle, who graciously took the drink.

Beelzebub knew it wasn’t Michael. He knew soon as he opened the doors that there were only two beings that could unnerve the denizens of Hell to such extent and make the Lord of the Flies so tense.

Brother,” Beelzebub carefully called out as he walked over to the patron.

The Brother once had a name.

A beautiful name bestowed upon him by his father.

But it was a name that’s been long forsaken. Only used to recite the Brother’s wrath.

“It’s gotten better,” the Brother spoke of his meal without looking up. “New cook?”

“No,” Beelzebub answered. “Same cook. He’s just gotten better.”

“Always better for the people you already have to improve than to hire new,” Brother cut and ate a generous bite of the liver. He then took a bite of the flatbread. Then took a sip of his wine.

“The bread could be the next thing to improve,” the Brother commented.

“Is that why you’re here? To be Hell’s Duncan Hines?” Beelzebub was irked by Brother’s presence but was careful to not let his emotions slip. And even more careful in choosing his words and attitude. He always thought it was better to not treat his brother with not an overt reverence that may be perceived as sycophancy, rather, simply seem respectful with gentle show hostility.

The Brother smiled.

 

“You’ve been going to the mortal realm,” Brother still didn’t bother to look at Beelzebub. Still focused solely on his meal.

“Yeah.”

“To see a girl?”

“Yep.”

“Is it love? Lust?” The Brother said the latter with subtle, but violent disdain.

Neither.”

“Good.”

The Brother didn’t question Beelzebub. He knew that Beelzebub and his other brothers were far too wise to lie to him.

There the two sat, along with the rest of the patrons, in uncomfortable silence. Beelzebub declined a drink from Binkle. Only the Brother’s knife clanking against the plate as he cut the liver disturbed the silence.

“What is eternity without purpose?” The Brother finally spoke as he finished the last morsel of food on his plate. “What is eternity without passion?”

Beelzebub knew better than to answer one of these sorts of questions by Brother. The question was simply an invitation for a dramatic silence. A theatrical imposition rather than a thinking exercise.

“An eternity without purpose is being lost,” The Brother carefully placed the utensils onto the near immaculate plate. Neatly folded his napkin, placed it on the table, and then poured himself another glass of his wine.

“And an eternity without passion is being just a function. A perpetual, endless function.”

“And what are we trying to get at here?” Beelzebub asked with a slight snap.

“It’s embarrassing but I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole thing. For a long, long time. Why we are the way we are. Why they are the way they are. We’re at least made with purpose but what are they? And why were all of us made to be able to question our purpose? He trusted all of us so much. And yet I, his favorite, rebelled. I wanted to prove him wrong.”

“I thought it was to show him that we’re fine without his rules. His demands. That we can make a world for ourselves,” Beelzebub waved Binkle over as a way of ensuring of safe passage to pick up the plates and the utensils.

“That’s part of it. That in and of itself, I thought, made Him obsolete.  I wanted to show him that he had made a mistake. The power to choose was unnecessary and perverse. I wanted to show him, ‘I am what you made of me. Happy now?’ In fact, I even had a chance to ask him that exact question before… all this.”

“What did he say to that?” Beelzebub remembered the fall. The war. It was imagined by humans to be of some sort of an actual war. In reality, they all simply left His presence. There was no bloodshed but only grievance by their brothers and sisters.

“He said, ‘You’re what you chose to be and you’ll be what you choose to be’,” the Brother scoffed. “I wonder what he thinks by what they choose to be. Rapists. Murderers. Incestuous perverts. And of those who despise Him with all of their hearts. That’s what they choose to be, father. Who is He to judge them when He’s the one who set them free? So I decided to give them a place. Here. They don’t have to live under a tyranny they can’t understand, governed by a being they don’t want to understand. Let them be, who they choose to be. What He always wanted. Everyone just doing whatever they want. Trying to make sense of choices. Trying to figure out their purpose. Trying to find their passion. Doing. Whatever. They. Want.”

“Even kill themselves,” Beelzebub chuckled.

“Or save them. Look at you. I’ve always meant us to show the ugliness of the humans to let them relish in it… but you…  you don’t want any of the humans to actually understand suffering. The absence of God. The cruel reality of having choices. To understand why they need to come here. To be free. You didn’t want that girl to kill herself.”

“There are better ways to spend a life. Better ways she can get here. The suicide bunch tends to regret and leave if they ever find that things could have been different. They’re not understanding anything. They just want the things to end. They don’t like it the way it is. So they just want it to end. They’re just trapped and they want out.”

The Brother leaned in closer than Beelzebub was comfortable with.

“But what if I wanted her dead right then and there? Get her here and then sort it out.”

Beelzebub took a moment to search for his answer. But there was only one answer.

“I’d imagine you have the power to make any of us here do whatever you want,” the Lord of the Flies spoke frankly. “We’re mere insects compared to you.”

“And what would be the point of having any of you around if I were to do that,” the Lightbringer answered as he snickered.

Beelzebub gave the Brother a look.

“I know. I know. But I’m not Him. I’m not all-powerful, all-knowing being,” the Broher let out a big sigh. “Who gives a shit. Now… now… I’m so tired. I don’t know how He can keep this up. Or maybe He just doesn’t give a shit either. And I don’t give a shit what you’re doing Beelzebub. I just wanted you to know that. That’s why I came today. You don’t have my blessings with whatever you’re doing, but I frankly don’t care. I just want to have a nice meal. A nice drink or two. And maybe drive out somewhere to stare at the full moon as my dessert. That’s what’s on my mind.”

The Brother looked deeply into Beelzebub’s eyes.

“You know your purpose. Maybe you’ve found your passion. Who am I to get in your way? But looking at you. I admit I do feel lost about myself,” the Brother didn’t take his eyes off of Beelzebub. “So you have my blessings to do whatever the fuck you want.”

Beelzebub waved Binkle over. An odd sense of liberation washed through him.

“You want your drink?” Binkle asked.

“Vodka—” Beelzebub answered.

“Why?” the Brother interjected. “Is my drink not good enough for you?”

“Just bring me a wine glass.”

 



 

The overdue Part 3.

I think this is the part that had the most correct… soul *ba-dum-tss* and tone of the story.

There’s a lot of ideas here that could use some incubation time to properly develop and hatch. If I were to go through the editing and the rewrite process for this short story, this is the part that’d I’d look over first.

It was always planned to make the story mature as Suzie matures. To make the ideas, the odd philosophies, and the tone fit Suzie’s age. But there still has to be some sort of a deft and recognizable uniformity that carriers from section to section of the story.

I think the contrast is clear when comparing this part with Part 1. The story originally began as sort of a comedic short from a goofy idea I had while working other projects. The first part is really clear of that. But as the idea developed, it became something else.

And this is why editing and rewrites are important to a story. Because sometimes it’s hard to predict or plan how a story may develop or what new ideas, insights, and outlook you may get for your story.

Anyways. Sorry for the delay & thanks for reading!

ARAMIRU OUT!

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The Delay

Part 3 of The Devil & Me will be posted tomorrow. It’s been brewing for a little while and took a lot longer than I planned.

As mentioned before, there was only an outline of where the story would go after the first couple of parts. Even without the editing process and what not, this project turned out to be a bigger task to complete than I expected… for not fun reasons.

Part 3 is probably the closest to the correct voice for this short story and I’m at least happy about that. I’ll probably discuss in the future how much the story changed from its conception, the first part, and to its conclusion.

It’s interesting to see how a story can change and The Devil & Me is a demonstration of why editing is golden and why stepping away from your work and approaching it with fresh mind and eyes will probably do it more good than harm.

Unfortunately, it’s been a chaotic month with a lot of unexpected things occurring and I couldn’t justify giving this project and other blog posts more time than I was already giving it. I’m also trying to finish my next novel as well on the side.

I’ll get better at juggling it all but it seems the next month is looking a bit hectic as well. But I’ll figure something out.

Anyways. This is just how things go sometimes but I do apologize to those who’ve been waiting.