What I'm Working On Now

Three short films are in Post-Production, soon to be submitting to film festivals.
Producing/editing a pilot for a new web-series inspired by the Alice in Wonderland tales.
Producing/editing a documentary on Gene Roddenberry and the genesis of Star Trek The Original Series.
There are a number of other projects in development, just waiting their turn to be produced.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

SHORT STORY: CRIER Part 1

Perfection,” The man at the podium intoned, “Heaven, Nirvana, Utopia. Ideals, something striven for yet never achieved,” He took a drink from the glass beside his notes and took the opportunity to eye the immense crowd seated before him. “Until now.”

* * *

Fifty years later.

The world was beautiful. Mankind and nature had found balance at last. Crime was a thing people read about in history books, war too. The air was clean, architecture purposeful and stunning, wildlife abundant...Heaven on earth indeed.
Sam smiled to himself as he continued on his walk through the city. Of course, he always smiled. Everyone did. He'd never seen the city before, having been raised in the country. He wasn't a farmer like his family. Instead he'd found his calling in technology and, thanks to his work in cybernetics he'd been invited to work in the city.
The city, this city, the place where it all began. Sam couldn't believe it. If he'd been born in another time, he would have been filled with fear at the prospect of going to the city alone. Now, he only felt a shadow of that fear. Maybe here he'd even get to learn how it all worked.
Sam blinked three times in rapid succession. Instantly, blue light traced across his vision, creating his personalized heads-up display. He glanced up to the icon he needed and it expanded into the map of the city with his new address marked. He was close, he'd actually gone a couple of streets too far. Sam blinked three times again and his vision returned to normal. He turned around and began retracing his steps to street he needed. A faint hint of embarrassment and loneliness tinged his otherwise tranquil day. In a few moments he'd forgotten about his discomfort.
The building rose hundreds of feet into the air. Sam stood on the sidewalk staring up to where he guessed his apartment was and took in a deep breath. Sam loved taking in deep breaths. It didn't make sense to him, why he liked them, but he wasn't about to question it.
The forty second floor was too high up to take the stairs so Sam enjoyed the swift elevator ride. His apartment was already furnished with everything he needed to get started. He looked inside the fridge and found they'd even stocked that with his favorite foods. The clock on the wall read half passed seven. The Sun would be setting soon. Sam blinked three times and set his alarm for sunrise the following morning and then set about acclimating to his new surroundings. Tomorrow he would begin working for Ryshard Dynamics.
Dawn came and with it an all new variety of emotions: Fear, anger, sorrow, depression...and none of them his.
Sam screamed for the first hour. Cried through the second. They found him sometime during the third, curled up in the back of his closet. Seeing them brought relief, enough to hear and understand what they said, but the other emotions still flooded his mind with the ebb and flow of a storm tossed sea.
You Sam?” One of the men asked, holding out a hand to help Sam up.
Sam managed to nod and took the offered hand.
It'll be okay,” The man said, patting him on the back and leading him into the living room where several other people had gathered.
A woman in the room held a glass and gave it to Sam when he was lead to sit beside her. Sam took a sip and then spat it out.
What is this?” Sam asked, the foreign taste still lingering.
Water,” The woman said.
I've never tasted water so awful,” Sam handed to glass back to the woman.
All water tastes the same,” She said, taking the glass back, “You've just never noticed that you don't like it.”
Sam continued to try and get rid of the taste, opening and closing his mouth and rubbing his tongue back and forth on the roof of his mouth.
One of the men in the room, an older, well dressed man, stepped forward.
I'm Dr. Ryshard,” He said, proffering his hand.
Sam shook it. His head was beginning to clear and he looked up into Dr. Ryshard's eyes. Wrinkles lined his face and mere traces of black remained in his otherwise silver hair.
Sorry,” Sam said, “I didn't mean to be late for work.”
Dr. Ryshard chuckled and Sam flinched at the sound, though he did not know why.
Young man,” Dr. Ryshard said, “Under the circumstances I believe we can let that slip by.”
Dr. Ryshard sat down beside Sam so that Sam found himself sandwiched between the woman on the one side and Dr. Ryshard on the other. Sam couldn't help but notice how small the couch really was.
What's happened?” Sam asked when Dr. Ryshard didn't speak after he sat down.
The world is perfect,” Dr. Ryshard said.
Sam looked around. His apartment was a mess. Filth on everything. How he had missed seeing it before was a mystery. The Sun shone dimly through clouds and smog and everything smelled of decay.
Not anymore,” Sam corrected him.

Monday, May 28, 2012

IMMOLATION: Chapter 18

It was a pleasant afternoon. Summer hadn't taken hold yet and so the Sun was still a welcomed warmth on the face. Another benefit of the time of year was the fact that school was still in session and so only a handful of children played in the park.
Green Tea smiled to himself, enjoying his stroll across the grass before the meeting. He always liked to familiarize himself with his surroundings before having to focus on other things. He felt safer that way, prepared. And this meeting would be a difficult one. Perhaps the others knew about Leaves Early already, perhaps they knew the truth, or guessed it. Perhaps not. Either way he wanted to be prepared. His conversations with Tea Leaves and Early Bird had at least made certain that they'd have the same story to tell.
Green Tea's smile fell slightly. He didn't like lies. Honesty was what defined a person, their integrity. But some times one had to make sacrifices, make exceptions, in order to build something greater than themselves.
And this was greater than them all. The world was dying and if no one acted soon it would be too late. Green Tea had seen how the governments worked, how false their promises were. They lacked integrity.
Green Tea would see to it that their promises were fulfilled, whether they wanted them to be or not.
A strong hand came down gently and rested on his shoulder. Green Tea tensed and made a quick step to the side to get out from the tight grasp on his shoulder. The hand tightened and held him where he was. Green Tea turned his head and found Early Bird smiling down at him.
You need to be calm,” The old man said, releasing Green Tea's shoulder and patting him on the back.
Green Tea frowned. They weren't supposed to meet like this, out of order. There had to be order or they would fall apart.
We are over there,” Early Bird said, his voice rumbling as ever even though he spoke softly.
Green Tea looked to where Early Bird was pointing and saw the familiar crowd gathered.
How are they taking the news of Leaves Early?” Green Tea asked as they made their way over to the picnic table where the rest of their group stood waiting.
Hmmm,” Early Bird said, thoughtful, “Some better than others.”
Early Bird gestured again and Green Tea could see Feather Weight arguing with Tea Leaves, though they were still far enough away that their words were lost to the general babble of playing children. Tea Leaves, for his part, didn't seem to be backing down before Feather Weight's obvious displeasure.
But why?” Feather Weight demanded as Green Tea and Early Bird joined the group.
Tea Leaves glanced to Green Tea, a plead for help in his eyes.
What is this?” Green Tea asked. The grimace on his face was only feigned in part. His dislike for more lies made up the rest of his grimace.
Leaves Early is gone?” Feather Weight asked, turning his attention to Green Tea.
Yes,” Green Tea said, nodding his head and sitting down at the table. Most of the others followed his example and sat down as well. “I believe this has already been explained to you?”
But why would she just quit?” Feather Weight demanded, “She'd want to see this through to the end.”
Green Tea pulled out his notes and began organizing them. “I thought it was clear,” He said, “With her phase of the operation completed she thought herself no longer needed,” Green Tea looked up from his notes and met Feather Weight's eyes. “She knows, as we all know, that the more people involved, the more risky things become. By removing herself from us she is protecting us all.”
Feather Weight still frowned but he didn't argue. Green Tea wasn't sure if he'd convinced Feather Weight, or any of the others for that matter. He always spoke too much and talked in circles when he lied. He only hoped none of the others noticed.
Green Tea pulled a thermos and some cups out of his bag. “Green Tea?” He asked.
Tea Leaves?” Tea Leaves asked, hopeful.
Oh come on!” Feather Weight exclaimed, “We all know each other by now so can we just skip this childish farce?”
Green Tea bristled. They had to have order. If there was no more order—
I believe that would be wise,” Early Bird said.
And I,” Tea Leaves agreed.
Green Tea hesitated, then nodded. “Let us move on with our meeting.”
Green Tea passed out small slips of paper to each of them and allowed them time to look them over before continuing.
As you can see,” Green Tea said, “Our plans are accelerated.”
You can say that again,” Feather Weight muttered.
Green Tea ignored him. “The nuclear phase will only take a month now, and we will be running Bird Feather's and Feather Weight's phase directly afterward, at which point—
What's this here?” Feather Weight interrupted.
Green Tea frowned at Feather Weight's continued hostility. “I'm sorry,” He said, “What's your question?”
Feather Weight pointed to an item on the slip of paper, far down the list near the bottom.
That is my task,” Green Tea said nonchalantly, “Now if we can return to—
Wait, that's it?” Feather Weight asked, “No more explanation?”
Green Tea looked to Early Bird but he was pointedly looking to Bird Feather. Her face gave no inclination toward any emotion or even acknowledgment of the current argument. Green Tea turned his attention back to Feather Weight, not knowing what was going on with Bird Feather or what he could do about it even if he understood.
I was going to walk us through the entire plan, then explain my part at the end, but if you'd prefer I can skip to the end now.”
I think that would be best,” Feather Weight said, putting down his slip of paper and crossing his arms.
Very well,” Green Tea said, “Up to now we've been focusing on saving our planet from the pollutants that are killing it. We have not put much consideration into what our actions will do to the people of the world. They depend on these sources of energy and if nothing is available to replace them, we may end up saving the Earth but destroying its people,” Green Tea held up his slip of paper and pointed to the item Feather Weight had been referring to. “This is how I hope to prevent humankind from destroying themselves.”
And what exactly is a heat machine?” Feather Weight asked.
It is a machine that converts heat into energy,” Green Tea said, “And I have a meeting in a few days with some people who should be able to help me make sure it is ready to replace the worlds energy.”
Feather Weight grunted but sat back on his bench and relaxed a bit.
I think the rest of this is self explanatory,” Early Bird rumbled in his soothing voice, “Will you and Feather Weight be ready I time?” He asked Bird Feather.
Bird Feather did not look at Early Bird but considered the time line Green Tea had drawn out for them.
Yes,” She said after a moments pause.
The last of Leaves Early's package have been delivered,” Early Bird went on, “So once they begin, we will have to proceed more carefully.”
They all nodded.
Then we should go our ways for now, I think,” Early Bird said and stood to leave.
Green Tea hid his displeasure with Early Bird taking control of the meeting but he knew not to question him in front of the others. As the others began to leave, Early Bird sidled up beside Green Tea on the bench. Bird Feather also did not leave.
I do not disagree about removing Leaves Early,” Bird Feather said, “But do not insult us by lying about it.”
She got up and left the picnic table.
Were we wrong?” Green Tea asked.
No,” Early Bird answered.
Is this going to cause us problems?” Green Tea asked, still watching Bird Feather walking through the park toward the parking lot.
Early Bird didn't respond at first. He too was watching Bird Feather. “If it does,” He said, “It won't be her that we'll have to deal with.”
Green Tea nodded in ascent as he scanned the park for any traces of Feather Weight.
Any more news about the girl?” Green Tea asked.
Not yet,” Early Bird said and they both sighed heavily.

Friday, May 25, 2012

POETRY: FAY DANCE

Past the leaves, behind the rock
Follow the winding path
Come hear their music, watch them dance
In glens and wooded lands

The fay folk rise, they skip and sing
To herald forth the Summer
Bewitching lays that snare the soul
Or set it free to wander

The young will linger, then grow old
Before the fay dance ends
And minds once touched by these folks tunes
Long after bear enchantments

So wary traveler, you have been warned
Of both the risk and reward
These good people offer so freely to all
In their feasts and merriments

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

SHORT STORY: EARTH AND MOON

Night.
Twinkling stars filled the endless space and silence reigned over all. A green-blue ring of light illuminated the distant Earth. In the dark center of the world, pockets of light shown like so many stars set on the Earth's face, forming constellations all their own. They sparkled, clear and white, with a steady constancy unrivaled by the real stars that surrounded them. In contrast, occasional flashes of red and orange flared on the Earth and, though no sounds could be heard, the Moon could see the quaver in the surrounding space from the shock.
Countless revolutions of the stars and planets had elapsed since the last time the Earth and the Moon had conversed. The Moon didn't know why. No anger raged within, no spite or malice, but still there must have been a reason. Perhaps, once long ago, the Moon had been angry, or the Earth. Perhaps they'd argued, perhaps not. The Moon couldn't remember. Not now, anyways, not after so long a time.
Another batch of the red and orange lights flared into life near the Earth's horizon and the green-blue edge disappeared, out shown by the flare and then held dim by a resultant haze and smoke.
Earth, The Moon thought, Would you answer if I asked, would you tell me the cause of your suffering? Could I help you?
Once, long before any of the freckled lights danced on the Earth's benighted surface, back when they had spoken often and openly, the Moon loved the Earth, loved watching the Earth as she moved through her revolutions. The Moon couldn't remember if the Earth knew, or reciprocated. The Moon didn't feel so now anyway and so found it hard to feel regret over the loss. But still, back in those days, when they were not so old, they had spoken and shared in the joys of watching life grow and spread.
Did I become jealous? The Moon thought as another powerful red light blossomed in another section of the Earth. Was that what pushed us apart? That the Earth had life, and I was barren?
Perhaps the Moon still had feelings for the Earth, it was hard to tell what was real and what was imagined fantasy when it came to such things anymore.
Sunrise wasn't far away. Just a few brief moment, really, and the Moon would have to wait another revolution for the Earth's stars to be visible again. But the Moon could not complain. The Earth was beautiful in the daylight as well, though in more recent revolutions, the Earth in the daylight had lost much of its former beauty. The green had grown brown. The blue had turned gray. And all had become hard to see clearly, as though masked by a thin yet constant cloud.
So long ago, they two had watched with excitement as life began on Earth. Then life on land. Then intelligent life. Man. That was when the troubles between the Earth and the Moon had begun. Something about Man had driven them apart, and still the Moon could not remember exactly what or why.
Perhaps I'll ask what's happening, The Moon thought, And the Earth may just answer like in times past. The Moon mused over this while the Sun rose above the Earth's horizon and the Moon continued on in its own prescribed path.
The Earth was harder to make out than usual this day. The surface was impossible to see in some places through the thick smoke that had replaced the clouds. A few flashes of red and orange still shown in the sunlight but not so much as the night before.
The Moon looked away into the blackness of space and surveyed the other planets and stars. It was frustrating, not knowing what was happening on the Earth when she was so close to the Moon. The other planets and stars were much too far away to speak with, and yet the Moon now knew just as much about what was going on with them as it did about the Earth.
Night came again on the Earth and the Moon stared eagerly at her, looking for the little lights she wore like stars. But they weren't there. A few places glowed with the red and orange of fires, something the Earth had first experienced and explained to the Moon long before Men. The Moon continued to search, looking over the surface of the Earth as she revolved and still no sign of the little stars.
Earth, The Moon finally called out, surprised at how easy it was even after all this time, What's happened?
The Moon waited, hoping the Earth would respond. She continued to turn, to pass on as the Moon watched, but she said nothing.
Earth? The Moon ventured again, Please, are you well?
Night continued on.
Hello Moon, The Earth said at last, her voice feeble, old, and full of sorrow.
Earth! The Moon exclaimed as fresh emotions flooded into him at hearing the Earths voice. What's happened?
How have you been, Moon? The Earth asked, ignoring the Moon's question.
Lonely, The Moon admitted without meaning to. But how are you? The lights—
It's nothing, The Earth cut the Moon off.
I liked your little stars, The Moon said, hopeful, Will they be back?
The Earth was quiet for a time. Night was nearly ended when she responded.
No, The Earth said, No, I don't think they will, She gave out a mournful sigh that made the Moon feel as though weeping were the only suitable response to such a sound.
Pity, The Moon said instead.
The Earth said no more and the Moon followed her lead. Just as the Earth had guessed, the lights did not return. After a time, the haze surrounding the Earth cleared and the Moon was able to see her with sharpness once more. And though they never spoke, it seemed to the Moon that the Earth was trying a little harder than before to show off the new forms of life growing on her.
They continued on this way even as the Sun grew red and began to swell. The Moon secretly hoped the entire time that the little lights would return some day, but they didn't. At last, the day came when life on the Earth all ended, the Sun had grown old and expanded too far, too close to the Earth for the life she harbored to continue.
The Sun kept growing and it was only a matter of a few more revolutions before they would be absorbed into the Sun. As the Sun grew closer, heralding their end, the Moon hoped that the Earth would say something, anything, just one last time. As the heat began to consume them, the Moon thought it heard the Earth give a sigh and he couldn't help but recall that day so long ago when her stars had gone out and she had sighed, so full of weeping.
Earth! The Moon cried out, not wanting his only companion through the ages to find her end in so piteous a state.
Oh Moon, She said, I thought you'd forgotten about me.
How could I? The Moon asked, pieces of its surface melting away. You are always right in front of me.
I am sorry my friend, The Earth said as her crust began to melt away exposing her throbbing core. It happened once before.
The Moon lacked the strength to say any more as the Sun enveloped them both. But before the very end of it all, he heard his companions plaintive voice, one last time.
My children.
They wept together and were no more.

Monday, May 21, 2012

IMMOLATION: Chapter 17

It was cold. The stone floors only helped the air conditioner bring the temperature down, as if in defiance of Joan's presence. The two policemen who had brought Joan to the courthouse escorted her swiftly to the large room with the scorched floor and protected viewing area. Judge Dervin was already there, seated behind the safety glass. A metal chair had been placed in the center of the room and Joan, being left alone in her portion of the room, sat down on it. As it was, Joan had to slump forward on her chair as the spot on her back was still burning. It felt good to just let it burn, allowing it to sap away the energy that churned inside of her.
You're still burning,” Judge Dervin observed.
I thought you'd be proud of me,” Joan answered. “Haven't you been wanting me to find a way to control my fire?”
Judge Dervin rubbed his face, studying her.
And the train station?” Judge Dervin asked.
So I only just figured it out, okay?” Joan sighed. “You may want to take note of how brief my episode in the tunnel was, and how I was able to protect my clothes.”
I have,” He said.
Joan waited for him to continue but he seemed content, for the moment, to stare at her. Joan used the time to check on her fire. It hadn't grown any larger, nor had it shrunk, but the energy inside of her that fueled the fire had lessened.
Judge Dervin pointed a finger to the small flame.
And so what is this?” His voice was level, curious even, much more welcome than his usual tone.
Joan studied the fire a moment longer before responding.
You ever seen a gas water heater?” Joan asked.
What does that have to do with anything?” He asked.
Joan plead silently with Judge Dervin.
Yes,” He said after a brief pause.
So you know that there's always that little flame beneath it, burning, right?” Joan asked.
It's called a pilot light, and yes, I've seen them. They're there just in case there's a gas leak and prevents it from building up.”
So this is my pilot light,” Joan finished, smiling at how smoothly her explanation had gone.
I can't have you burning all the time,” Judge Dervin replied immediately.
Joan's heart sank but she thought fast and began speaking before Judge Dervin could continue.
I won't have to,” She said. “I would only use it in situations where I might be in danger of losing control.”
Joan waited. Judge Dervin laced his fingers together and pursed his lips.
Situations such as...?” He said with a motion of his hand.
Like on the days I usually burn,” Joan answered him, trying to keep the excitement out of her voice. To be given permission to burn at will, even on so small a scale, was what she had been striving for even before her release. “And on days when I'm under particular stress, like today.”
And what was so stressful about today?”
First day on a new job,” Joan said.
Judge Dervin mused some more. He seemed even more thoughtful than usual and Joan got the impression that he wasn't giving her his full attention.
A minute passed and Judge Dervin still sat with his hands folded in front of him, his eyes cast down to some paperwork on the table. Joan still waited but another minute passed with little more than a shift in weight from Judge Dervin.
Sir?” Joan muttered tentatively before the third minute could elapse.
Judge Dervin stirred, shaking out of his reverie and staring, surprised, at Joan as if he'd forgotten she were there.
Sorry,” He said quickly, shuffling his papers and rubbing his face briskly. “Where were we?”
Joan shifted in her hard metal chair.
I'd just asked you if I could use a pilot light to prevent uncontrolled burns in the future?” She crossed her fingers for luck behind her back.
Judge Dervin sighed, glanced at the paperwork one last time and waved a weary hand at her.
Very well,” He said and Joan almost leaped from her chair in excitement. “But I want to be informed every time you have to use your pilot light.”
Of course,” Joan said immediately.
Judge Dervin shuffled his papers once more, giving them an unpleasant look and then waved Joan away.
You're dismissed,” He said and Joan rushed eagerly away.
Judge Dervin continued to sit, frustrated with himself for his hasty approval of Joan's request. Still, as he read back over the paper in his hands, he couldn't help but feel justified in his distraction.
Mr. Dervin,
The print on the page read,
We regret to inform you that your daughter has been reported missing. Authorities have searched her apartment and found no signs of burglary or struggle though her car is missing as well...
The words continued but Judge Dervin's eyes didn't seem capable of making any more of them out. He buried his face in his hands though he did not weep. He couldn't, not yet at least. If he did, it would mean he'd lost hope for finding her.
Oh my girl,” Judge Dervin muttered as he used the paper as a handkerchief, “My little girl.”
His breaths came in short and shallow.
Please come home,” He said, “Please.”
The poor father held back his tears but his body still shook with grief.
Please,” He managed to say one last time before rising and leaving the room.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Soldier Boy

Cry, soldier boy, cry for lives all lost
Mourn, soldier boy, mourn the mighty cost
Come, soldier boy, come marching home
Leave, soldier boy, leave gun and war alone
Hurry, soldier boy, hurry before it's too late
Sleep, soldier boy, sleep and dreams await
Try, soldier boy, try to forget the pain
Fear, soldier boy, fear in your soul is plain
Run, soldier boy, run from nightmares heaped
Death, soldier boy, death is sown and reaped

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Commentary on THE LAST

     This is a story I first wrote in High School. It has since gone through some revisions and, following the advent of modern vampire lore (no longer creatures of the night, monsters and demons), I shelved it for another day. This story still has a long way to go before it's finished but I find it helpful to break down stories from time to time, find their strengths and their weakness' and then build from there. 

     Obviously, if you've read the story, you'll know that this is not my best piece of work. I first wrote this story in High School and it has since gone through a handful of revisions. However, with the advent of the modern vampire lore, where they are no longer fearful demons of the night but rather sleek and sexy people who also happen to have a hankering for blood and perhaps some supernatural abilities, I dropped the story. I don't want to disparage the creators of the modern vampire, I just want to make it clear that Gideon is a demon, not a man, and that the creatures in THE LAST were to be very different from what most readers today might expect. I did add a bit more humanity to Gideon in this edition just so that this story would be a bit more palatable. However, I intend to revise this story a bit more and bring it back to the more classical roots it started from.


     But enough of my waxing eloquent, on to the actual commentary.

     Let me begin with some characters and then move on to the story itself.

     In THE LAST, the character of Gideon is hundreds of years old. I wanted to be able to tell the story from the perspective of an experienced vampire, he's practiced in his vampiric abilities and therefore comfortable with them. There is no time spent exploring or explaining them, he simply acts and the reader must follow. With a story like THE LAST, I find this more interesting as a writer and a reader as it involves far less blatant exposition and draws the reader into the world. Gideon has become calloused against the evil he is forced to do, justifying it to himself as he preys upon the wicked (as he deems them) as he hunts down the rest of his kind. Gideon is plagued with loneliness, but has long since given up on trying to find companionship and so he suffers in silence. Again, I find this kind of established character a lot of fun, as I don't have to take so much time to explain, but rather I get to move forward immediately. Then, later when I do explain aspects of his past, the reader is already looking forward to it and so it less risk of getting bogged down in exposition.
     I feel I must explain a few points about the demonic aspects of Gideon that I've softened for this version. Originally, Gideon had to struggle to regain himself, that for years following his being turned, he was just as the vampire who had turned him. Only after decades of acting as a demon did his old self begin to surface. Even now, with all the years of experience controlling his curse, he is still a monster and he still feels little or no remorse for the murders he commits. He chooses to feed on criminals because, deep down, he remembers a time when he knew killing was wrong. But he still kills the officer. He was willing to let him live if he left him alone, but since the officer had proved an annoyance, Gideon decided to feed on him and be done with it. The only real pain/guilt the Gideon feels is for the loss of his family and it is that pain/guilt that gives him the power to fight back his curse and maintain some control. It is also that pain/guilt that drives him to hunt down his own kind.
     In a way, it is Gideon's desire to kill his own kind that makes him into a true monster. One of the difficult things to convey in the story is that as a vampire, he is no longer human. Feeding on a human, for him, should be no different than a human feeding on a cow. And so killing a human, to him, is not murder. Killing another vampire, however, is.


     The police officer, though a small role in this story, becomes quite important in another (yet to be written) story that gives a bit more history and action regarding Gideon's pursuit of his own kind. The officer is, as Gideon appraises him, a good man, just doing his job. He is also, however, a bit unwilling to bend from the ridged formalities of police work and so, even once he discovers what Gideon is, he is undeterred from his sense of duty and continues to hunt down the vampire.


     Gideon's family, again small roles (most are dead and never speak in this story), were important to have fleshed out in my mind at least so that Gideon could have those memories to draw strength from and fuel the trace humanity left in his soul that holds back the vampirism within.


     As for the story, I wanted to take a snapshot, a day-in-the-life sort of thing. It was never meant to be a complete or finished story. Just as we meet many different people every day and never get to learn their full story, so I wanted to write a story that gave us a glimpse, a taste, of what this character is about and then leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusions about what it all meant. Would Gideon succeed in killing off the last of his kind? What would he do once he had succeeded? What had happened in the past that lead the police officer to his untimely and gruesome death? As the writer, I know the answers to these questions, but for reasons all my own, I felt it important not to answer them in this story.
     The bit of back story about Gideon, as it is written right now, is poorly done (so please forgive that on my part). Eventually it will become a dream, a dream he has every day while he sleeps, over and over again and it is that dream that spurs him on, keeps him from yielding to the demonic impulses he would otherwise be slave to. Vampires are not suppose to dream as dreaming is connected to the soul and vampires are not suppose to have souls (part of the riddle that makes Gideon interesting).
     I dabbled with introducing a female character, and playing with that angle, but as a demon, he has no need for such things and, to be honest, he would probably end up feeding on her in the end and I didn't want to make the reader so detached from Gideon that they couldn't relate and begin to hate him...though by all rights they should anyway. Gideon is not a good person. He hunts the vampires out of spite and a need for vengeance, not because he wants to protect or save human kind from monsters like him.


     As I said before, THE LAST is a work in progress and in the future I will post the newer version and let you see the evolution of the story, but in the mean time let me know your thoughts on this story as it stands now.

SHORT STORY: THE LAST

Make sure you check out the commentary on this short story, found here.


Gideon sat huddled within the silent shadows of an old world long forgotten by those whom he hunted. A lifeless body lay before him; only a trace of the horror he had felt moments before remained upon his face. The irony of the situation caused Gideon to laugh out loud. For, this young man had thought he would be the attacker, and Gideon the victim. He had followed Gideon ever since he had left the night club until they had entered the alleyway in which Gideon now sat crouched, thinking back on his most recent kill. The young man had pulled out a knife and imagined that it would be sufficient to silence him. Gideon, however, had known of his presence ever since he had left the club. Admittedly, Gideon did not necessarily appreciate his need for living blood; he did still find a certain amount of enjoyment out of the thrill of the fight.
Gideon easily disarmed his would-be attacker, breaking and ripping off the man’s arm that held the knife. He then drained him of his blood through the neck. Gideon knew that he had been unnecessarily noisy and that he had allowed his victim to make far to many screams before silencing him.
A footstep sounded in the alleyway. Gideon pulled the shadows around him and was enveloped by the darkness, becoming a part of the indistinct shadows between the walls and piles of garbage that littered the street.
An officer of the police came into view, and Gideon smiled. The policeman quickly found what he was looking for and bent down over the broken body still lying crumpled on the filthy ground; his arm was some feet away where it had been cast aside after its untimely removal. The officer checked the neck methodically and then the hole where the mans right arm had been. He did not call for backup, or, in fact, even to mention that he was investigating anything at all. Again, from the dim space in which Gideon was hiding, he smiled. He didn’t want anyone else to have to pay for his curse than had to. He stepped out of the shadow and towards the officer.
Twenty-five years he lived.” Gideon said to no one in particular, making the policeman jump back. “And every one of them, every . . . last . . . one, he wasted. A vagrant and a thief, he fought his way through life when there was nothing even to be fought.”
The officer stood his ground, his pistol out of its holster and pointed at where he thought there was a heart. Gideon paid no attention to this and continued.
But you don’t care, do you? You only care about what I am, what I’ve done. It doesn’t matter to you whether or not they were a good person or a bad one. All you care about is me, and bringing me, as you call it, to justice.”
The officer pulled out a wooden cross and held it at arms length. Gideon merely laughed.
So many misconceptions. So many lies.”
The officer then made an attempt to order Gideon to the ground, which was ignored. When Gideon, it seemed, refused to listen after several more attempts and began to advance, the officer fired. Gideon felt the bullet rip through his chest; tearing flesh as it went and finally stopping near the back of his ribcage. He looked down at the hole in his shirt, staggering back slightly from the force of the shot. The skin burned where he had been hit and he had the sensation of having a cattle prod imbedded deeply into his chest. As the pain intensified, he felt the bullet begin to move. It was pushed back and out the way it had come until it finally fell to the ground with a slight clink. The hole immediately closed, and the only sign that it had ever existed was the slight bit of burnt cloth still clinging to his skin. This had all taken place in the space of a few seconds, from the shot being fired into Gideon, to it being expelled.
You have troubled me far too long,” Gideon said, “And I am done being patient. You will never understand, truly understand, who and what I am, and what I’ve suffered.” Gideon looked up from his chest and back to the officer.
The officer continued to fire on Gideon as he advanced quickly upon him. Nearly half of the clip was emptied into his chest before Gideon reached the policeman. With the gun’s barrel now pressed to his stomach, Gideon stared reprovingly at his attacker
You know,” Gideon said sadly, “I’m sure that you are a very nice person. I’m sure that you’re a loving husband and a great father to your children. But you, who have never known me or anything about me, are so willing and quick, to try and kill me.” Gideon almost felt pity for the man standing before him, “But that privilege was had by another man many years ago. Long before even you were born.” Gideon paused as he finished healing and the last few bullets fell from him. “And now,” He continued, “I am placed with the difficult choice of how to settle this.”
The officer, who had not fired the gun since Gideon had made contact with it, stared back with increasing wonder and fear.
You see,” Gideon said, “Should I die and fall before you, there would not be anyone to miss me. Yet, if I were to cease your existence and spare myself, I would also be destroying that family which you have worked so long and hard to build. Though, to be fair, it must be said that if I were to allow you to live, you would continue to hunt me down until I was destroyed. And all of this simply because of what I have been made by another’s choice.”
Gideon had not stopped advancing, although he had slowed greatly, and had now only the length of the gun separating them. The officer, though terrified by what he had witnessed and by the proximity in which he had been placed in with Gideon, had heard every one of Gideon’s words and inexplicably knew that he was speaking truth.
Please spare me!” He whispered softly while attempting to back away.
Gideon held him back, with just the slightest feeling of regret, and tore the flesh from off the mans neck; drinking deeply, feeling his body burn as new memories, new life, flooded into him. The empty shell of the man that was, fell to the ground with the remnant pieces of his vain shots. Gideon turned from the scene and stepped silently on, into the darkness that had long since fallen over all.
The next day, the report of the dead officer was the first issue on the evening news. As always, the family of his victim were the first people to be seen after the introduction of the story. It was always the same story. First they had the youngest child cry, and then they found the most successful child, then the wife.
At the end of each interview, they would each say the same phrase, “I just don’t see how anyone could do something this horrible.”
Finally, they would have a family group shot while the mother and one of the children wiped tears from their eyes. Gideon thought briefly upon the fact that he should be used to this by now.
Gideon had taken refuge from the day inside of an old hotel. He sat on the bed watching the evening report after awakening from the day’s sleep. He had taken money from the previous night’s victims, as he always did. He would only take enough to get him through the next day, leaving everything else. Following the report on the policeman, there was a piece on his other victim. Though, with this one, there were no shots of crying family members, or concerned friends. It seemed to be something thrown in to reinforce the death of the policeman. An otherwise useless bit of information that the news station had grudgingly been forced to use for filler space. There was no one to miss that man. Gideon left the hotel shortly after the report’s end. His thirst for blood beginning to grow, he began his search yet again for someone who would satisfy his curse.
It had been nearly seven hundred years since he had last seen the sun without fear. It had been the eve of his youngest son’s eighth birthday. He and his wife had been up in the barn with the new stallion they had bought that day for their son. Gideon sent his wife up to the house to check on the children while he stayed to finish feeding and settling the horse for the night. His wife had been gone for only a few minutes when he heard the house erupt with the screams of his family. Gideon ran up the sloping lawn, past the garden house and the kitchens to the back entrance. He followed the continued screams all the way to the second floor, where they ended abruptly. At the end of the corridor, the door to his youngest child’s room was hanging open. There were deep gouges on the door and the handle was hanging loosely from its fixture. Gideon entered the room slowly and looked around.
His daughter Celia was lying in her crib, pale and still, drenched in her own blood. His eldest son Michel sat hunched in the far corner of the room with a limp hand over his bloody neck. The last child, Aremus, the one whose birthday was so close at hand, had had his limbs ripped nearly off, only small pieces of skin and sinew held him together, and there were large rips in his chest and neck from which blood was flowing freely. And his wife, her arms limply holding her dying son to her bosom, was dead. A blank expression played upon her bloodstained face in a sort of mockery; her neck too had been ripped open and blood was slowly trickling down to the floor.
Aremus stared wildly around when he heard his father enter the room. Once he recognized him, he whispered, “Don’t let them come back, Daddy, don’t let them come back!” He had to fight to get these words out, and seemed to diminish before Gideon’s eyes.
Shhh,” Gideon said, hurrying over to his broken child and supporting him as he began to fall out of his mothers cradle. “What was it, Aremus, what did this?” Gideon asked in a breathless voice.
They came . . . they came so fast.” Aremus said weakly. “When Mommy came, they followed her. She saw them as she came to say good night. Michel heard her yell to us and went to see what was wrong.” He paused to rest. Gideon was amazed that Aremus had survived this long with his injuries. Aremus continued, “Mother, Michel and I ran into Celia’s room . . . it was closest. Mom closed the door and . . . and locked it as they came up the stairs. She was beginning to get us all to climb out the window . . . when they broke the door. After that, everything went too fast. I heard Celia scream . . . then Michel. I felt myself get picked up, and I first thought it was Mommy . . . but then I hurt all over and Mom began screaming over by the corner. After that, they were all gone. I don’t know where or how . . . but they were gone.”
Aremus’ body suddenly seized up. He looked up at his father with tears in his eyes, terrified, and went limp. Gideon screamed out in anguish and held his most beloved child tightly to himself.
That’s what’s so funny about you humans.” A voice devoid of any emotion spoke from the dark closet.
Gideon jumped to his feet and turned to face whomever had spoken. A man not much older than Gideon had come out of the darkness and into the flickering candlelight. He was covered in the blood of Gideon’s family. He was very pale himself and had sleek black hair that was swept back over the top of his head. The mans clothes, though severely stained in blood, were elegant and flowing. Gideon knew what he was. There had been rumor in the town that there may be a vampire. Another family not far from Gideon’s home had been attacked only a few weeks ago, though, no bodies were found.
Gideon had, as a precaution, placed ash stakes throughout the house. He knew that one of them lay just a few feet away beside the cradle.
I’ve always wondered,” The vampire continued, “Why you humans have lasted this long.” He was advancing, and Gideon was retreating toward the cradle. “But no matter, you still have your uses.”
The vampire had backed Gideon right up against the cradle. He, Gideon, had reached back for the stake, found it, and closed his fingers around it. Gideon had been, at first, terrified. Yet now, he had been filled with a fury even the vampire couldn’t comprehend. The vampire lunged so quickly that Gideon had barely any time to react at all. He brought the stake around and thrust it as hard as he could into the heart of the vampire, but not quite quickly enough. The vampire had already bitten him by the time he realized what had happened.
Ahh!” coughed the vampire, staggering back and looking down at his chest. “What have you done to me?” The vampire had fallen to his knees, already beginning to waste away. Gideon had slumped against the wall and was barely able to keep his feet. “You’ll pay for this!” The vampire said, struggling back up and hitting into the dresser as he tried to maintain his balance. “I’ll make you pay for an eternity!” He bit his own wrist and thrust it into Gideon’s mouth. Too weak to fight back, he swallowed a mouthful of blood. “Enjoy,” The vampire said with vindictiveness beyond anything Gideon had ever yet experienced, “Your eternity.” With his last words spent, the vampire slumped to the floor and turned to dust.
Gideon had never been able to walk out into daylight since without being severely burned and weakened. He had found that out the next day when he awoke as the sun was beginning to set. He ran outside to get help, but when he did so, he felt as though he were on fire. Every inch of his body seemed to have become consumed by the flame. He retreated back inside the safety of his house, and dared not go back out until night had fully fallen. His descent into the world of shadow and darkness had begun. That night, out of sheer terror, he ran into town and began yelling for help. When he had awoken his neighbors and started telling them what had happened, many of them began to back away. Some of them were murmuring amongst themselves and others were simply staring in disbelief and fear. Although Gideon had told them nothing of his own encounter with the vampire, they all seemed to know, or at least to have had an idea of what had happened. It wasn’t until he saw some of them to begin pointing at his neck that he understood. He had the mark of a vampire bite still fresh upon him.
Up until then he hadn’t realized why he was so thirsty, or why he had been in so much pain after entering the sunlight. Gideon had been in a state of shock and hadn’t put the clues together. He now understood. He had been cursed, to live forever off the blood of those around him, to always be what he most hated. He was a vampire. The townsfolk had reacted as Gideon had, and attempted to kill him. Unfortunately, Gideons’ overwhelming thirst and Vampiric strength took control. Before Gideon could stop himself, he had fed off of most of his old friends, and even his own brother had fallen to him. Gideon finally regained control over himself in the midst of countless bodies; their blood dripping from his face.
Gideon ran from there, overcome with grief and shock at what he had become. For days he hid in his house with the bodies of his dead wife and children. Only when the building was set ablaze in midday did he leave. He threw himself passed the mob that had assembled and fled to the nearby woods. The burns on his body did not fade for several days, and would not fully heal until he had fed once more upon a grazing faun. The thirst would drive him mad unless he succumbed at least once a night. Otherwise, he would awaken to find he had slaughtered entire families, or in some rare cases, towns. He had no choice but to give in to what he had become.

Do you know why people are so afraid of the dark?” Gideon asked while pulling his struggling victim in closer to him. “It’s because, at one point in time, they knew what was there, just beyond their range of vision waiting for them to close their eyes.”
Gideon closed his own eyes and smiled, ripping the young mans throat out and draining him of his life. This man had attempted to beat Gideon as he walked the streets that night. Gideon always made sure that his victims were those who would not be missed, who make society better by not being alive. That was Gideons’ reasoning at least. In reality it didn’t matter to him any more. He had no point in continuing except for his ongoing hunt for the last of his kind. Ever since Gideon had achieved a strong enough grasp on his powers, he had begun hunting his own kind, until there were just the two of them left.
This last vampire knew Gideon was coming for him.

Monday, May 14, 2012

IMMOLATION: Chapter 16

Joan hated trains. She didn't mind the smell or the over packed evenings when everyone stood like sardines. She didn't even mind so much the times when she sat down only to find her seat was wet and sticky, though she did hope dearly that it was only soda. What bothered her was the fact that she couldn't open the windows. Cars and buses had windows that opened, but the trains in the city didn't.
Neither did the building she'd been held in for that year after high school. It didn't help either that the doors made the same, heavy sliding sound as the ones to her cell had done.
Still, she was making progress. She wouldn't have to tell Melanie that she'd missed the train again. Joan suspected that Melanie saw through her lie, but she couldn't bring herself to tell the truth; that she'd stood frozen, almost bursting with flame, as she watched the train pull up. Each time she stood, rooted to the spot as people pushed around her on their way to the train, mumbling about her and shooting her unfriendly glances. At least they didn't recognize her.
She'd forced herself forward this time, not giving herself time to freeze. The moment she was aboard she had pulled out the little card Judge Dervin had sent her, instructing her on what to say whenever she boarded public transit. She didn't remember actually saying any words, but she must have done because most of the people in her section of the train moved to a different one.
Joan swayed with the train, focusing on the window and ignoring the glass between her and the outside. She thought of the architecture, whizzing by, of the people inside those blurred buildings. She wondered if Tom was inside any of them.
Joan smiled. Thinking of Tom had the effect of driving back her fears, if only for a moment. She knew it was juvenile, the way she was letting him capture her imagination, but somehow she couldn't get herself to feel properly ashamed enough to stop.
Where the chill tenseness of fear had been, a pleasant warmth filled her. She shut her eyes and remembered the way he smiled, the way he cocked his one eyebrow at her. The way he didn't make fun of her or make her feel uneasy.
She was so comfortable, standing on the swaying train, holding onto the railing.
So comfortable.
So warm.
Heat spreading out from her chest.
Joan's eyes shot open. The railing in her hand glowed red hot as flame ran up her arm. A quick check revealed that the flame had not yet spread beyond her arm and the majority of her clothing was still intact.
STOP!” Joan yelled and punched the emergency stop button.
She contained her fire for the moment but she couldn't hold it back for long now that it was coming.
The train lurched and Joan had to cling on to the bar to keep from falling over. The moment she touched the hot metal her skin burst with fire once more. The doors opened and Joan rushed out onto the track. The train had stopped in a tunnel, one that was shared by both trains and buses. Some of the other passengers stepped out of the train.
No!” Joan shouted, “Get back!” And she threw her backpack, the one she carried with her everywhere she went, as far away from her as she could.
Joan was an inferno. The fire flashed out and as it did, Joan tried with all her might to push it a little bit farther away from her skin, just as Matt had suggested she might be able to do. Even though she had a change of clothes in her backpack, she'd really rather not have to turn the tunnel into her own personal changing room, especially with all the bystanders and their cell phones. She could already see a fair number of them taking pictures or video of her.
Joan checked to see how her clothes were holding up. They weren't. They were obviously burning much slower than usual, but if her fire didn't go out soon...she didn't want to think about that. She had to calm down.
Joan took in a deep breath, closed her eyes and focused on her heartbeat. Melanie had been trying to get her to try meditating for some time now and, at last, Joan thought she would give it a shot. She cleared her mind, keeping her breathing steady and, miraculously, her heartbeat began to slow. Joan felt the fire begin to calm and she could still feel the weight of her clothes, which only helped bolster her calm. She opened her eyes.
Black smoke from burned engine oil swirled up from the road and steam filled the gutters. She took in another slow, controlled breath and relaxed even further. No one had been hurt. A tongue of flame still licked up the middle of her back, right between her shoulder blades, but other than that she was back to normal. Her clothes were badly burned but not so much so that Joan was worried about them at the moment.
A woman cried from somewhere inside the stopped train.
Is everyone okay?” Joan asked, remembering Judge Dervin's instructions, and warning, if she didn't at least make an effort to see if she'd hurt anyone.
No one answered. She didn't really expect them too. If anything, Joan thought it more likely that someone would attack her, maybe even try to kill her out of fear. She tried not to think about that.
A bus rumbled through on the other side of the tunnel and flushed out the smoke and vapor. As the air finished clearing, Joan saw that the next platform wasn't very far away and, after picking up her backpack, she bolted for the exit. The fire on her back was still burning and so Joan had to carry her backpack awkwardly in her arms.
Once up on the platform, Joan turned and got a clear view of where she'd burned. A black scar stood out beneath the emergency lights. At the center was a patch of white where the concrete had been reduced to ash. Only where her feet had been was unmarred by her flame.
The minute Joan got out of the tunnel and onto the ground level her cell phone, tucked safely away in her backpack, began to ring. She pulled it out, fearing the worst. She didn't recognize the number. She'd saved Judge Dervin's number so she could pretend not to notice whenever she didn't feel like talking to him. He had the tendency to call and check in on her whenever something bad happened.
Hello?” Joan said in a calm voice.
Good, you answered,” Judge Dervin said, “A squad car is on its way to pick you up,” He went on through Joan's stunned silence. “I want to see you in my office immediately.”
Okay,” Joan managed to mutter.
And Joan,” Judge Dervin said, “If I have to change my number each time I need to get a hold of you I will become far less lenient with you,” He hung up.
The squad car was already pulling up to the curb as Joan put her cell phone back in its place. How they intended to transport her in the car with her back still on fire she wasn't sure, but she knew she wasn't in any position to argue.