Deserted Challenge

June 5, 2014

One of the better creative blogs that I follow is by sethsnap. Yesterday, he posted the following…

Your story- Deserted – by sethsnap

“I took the following photo on a country road near my house. It was late at night. I’m not sure how I feel about the photo. Tell me what I should feel.”
“Your Story is a SethSnap series in which you get to decide the story behind the photos. You can write a story, a poem or even just one word. You decide.” – sethsnap

Here then, is my response to his photograph.

Deserted – A Travelers Respite

 

I don’t know why my car stopped.
The gas gauge showed more than half. There were no ominous sounds or smoke. The engine died and I coasted to a stop.
This was all I needed after another hellacious day at the office. With a quarter of the staff out sick with the flu, one manager on vacation, and the owner’s semi-literate son throwing temper tantrums, I was at wit’s end.
After more than thirteen hours of playing referee during the office politics games, OwnersSon decided I was the perfect choice to go out of my way to deliver a package.
This left me on a deserted blacktop in the middle of nowhere when I should have been in bed.
I sat and waited a few seconds, then tried to start the car again. The lights dimmed and I became worried about the battery. I pulled my phone to call a wrecker. No bars!
The flashlight was where it belonged, so I took it, popped the hood latch, and stepped out.
I pressed the button and nothing happened. The flashlight batteries were dead.
Fatigue had me shaking, despite the warm summer evening, and I leaned against the fender, eyes closed, head bowed, arms folded.
“Relax.”
My eyes opened and my head snapped up. “Hello? Who’s there?”
The half-grown field whispered at me as a ghost of a breeze slid by. Cautiously, I turned, looked around, and saw no one. I raised my voice a little. “This isn’t funny. Show yourself.”
“Oh my! Aren’t we nervous tonight.”
I spun back and standing next to my car, was a young woman. She wore a simple sun dress with a floral pattern, was barefoot, and smiled softly.
“Sorry. I didn’t see you come up. My car died and I need a lift.”
“What you need is to stop and look around. It’s a beautiful night and you are way too tired to be racing down this stretch of road without taking a moment to enjoy the gifts you’ve been given.”
“What gifts? For Pete’s sake, woman. My car is dead, no flashlight, I just finished a double-shift…”
“Shssss!” A slender finger to her lips. “Just stop and look around.” She gestured at the field beside us and leaned against the fender.
I shook my head, folded my arms, and followed suit.
“This road has been here for ages. It started as a trail between giant trees, worn down by generations of hunters. Later on, great beasts hauling wagons, widened it. Now, it has been hardened to smooth the way for machines as well as the children of men.” She paused and looked wistful. “One thing has held true over the ages. When someone is troubled, here, they are granted peace, if only for a little while.”
As she spoke, my gaze followed the distant tree line. First, I noticed the faint glow of city lights, then a sparkling of farm yard lights as branches moved with the wind. I closed my eyes for just a moment, then opened them to enjoy the way the breeze flowed like waves over the field. As my eyes grew accustomed to the moonlight, what I first perceived as stark and foreboding was revealed as warm, golden tones, accented by shadows. Without thinking, my arms dropped and I placed my hands on the warm fender. I leaned farther back and took a deep breath. Then another. And slowly, I felt the tension drain from me. A single tree, standing proudly in the middle of the field, became a focus. The dark form became clear and distinct, with shades of green and brown, fading to black shadows. It was welcoming.
“Yes. You’ll do.” She interrupted the whispering night sounds.
I nodded and smiled, then stopped and shook myself. “Do for what?”
She was gone.
I shook myself again, blinking rapidly, and realized it was much lighter. The first glimmer of false-dawn lightened the eastern sky. How could I have been here all night?
I sat back down in the car to collect my thoughts. Mostly on reflex, I turned the key and the motor started. I let it idle for a second and checked my phone. It showed four bars. That was plenty of signal. It didn’t really matter.
There were no other cars around as I put the car in gear, I realized I felt better than I had in ages. Somehow, a bit of fresh air and an unplanned nap, had refreshed me more than I had thought possible.

A Challenge of My Own

I’m not sure how I feel about the following photo that I shot awhile back. Tell me what I should feel.
Let your creative side tell the tale behind the photo. You can write a story, a poem or even just one word. You decide.

ironmaster__s_house

Author: John Picha
Edited by: Matthew Davies and Suellen Picha
Rating: Five out of five stars
Chip is an idealistic young man who tends to get lost in daydreams from time to time. He and his fellow Skyracos are armored super-cops, thinly scattered on many worlds, in an imperfect future.
Destiny City is a remote colony owned by the Arkon Mining Company. Chip is a junior part of the Skyracos wing brought in to assist the company security forces in quelling a riot.
It doesn’t take long to discover there is much more to the story than the mining company would have them believe. Sheer greed quickly overcomes compassion and common sense as the Skyracos are ordered to betray their ideals.
A saucer-shaped blimp hovers over Destiny City. The Painwell Pharmacare laboratory team within this floating research facility scrambles to find a plague cure while the Arkon Mining security teams battle the terrified colonists below.
The reader is given a peek into the minds of each of the major characters as the situation reels out of control. Chip’s idealism is put to the ultimate test as John Picha weaves an exciting tale.
I must admit I expected a lightweight space opera. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Skyracos unfolds in a manner reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut at his best. I found myself relating to Chip’s pain as he is tested under fire and learns some hard lessons. Skyracos is a dark story, well told.
You can find out more about this multi-talented author by visiting his website at: http://www.takejohn.com/
Pick up your own copy of Skyracos: The Mining Mess on Amazon.

Although I’ve written and published more than a dozen urban fantasy titles over the past six years, the core elements of the Multiplarity Space Opera Trilogy has been more than ten years in the making. I think the time has come to document at least part of this journey, keeping in mind the old adage, if you can’t serve as an good example, perhaps you’ll do as a warning. We shall start with the first book, Omniphage.

In the Beginning

Several of the core concepts have been bouncing around the back of my head for many years. It wasn’t until about four years ago, that they started to come together. Like many of my longer works, I began with a short story that was, inspired by a photograph or a fantasy image I saw online. Steven Stahlberg is an incredible 2D and 3D artist. Check out some of his work at: http://www.androidblues.com

He also has a FaceBook presence. https://www.facebook.com/steven.stahlberg.7

Several of his images stick in my mind, but one of his old 2D drawings of a Cat and Mouse in a film noir setting, got me thinking.  http://www.androidblues.com/gallery/catandmouse.jpg

What if they were real people in our modern society? What would cause them to look like that?
About the same time, I read about some genetics research that was experimenting with nanotechnology in the search for a cancer cure. I had to start writing.

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Echopharte!

October 31, 2012

The forth book in a five book shifter series from Red Rose Publishing, Echopharte tells of the origins and evolution of the shifters.

The ancients revered them. The colonists feared them. Today, no one believes in them. Shifters have lived and worked among humans since before recorded history.

Echopharte tells of the first community and how both good and evil have continuously shaped our society, from ancient times up to the present day.

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Omniphage is Live!

October 28, 2012

After more than two years of work, the first novel in the Multiplarity trilogy has been released.

It is available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon right now.

If anyone has questions or would like to discuss this tale, feel free in chatting me up on Yahoo Messenger or Google Messenger.

FREE READ – Imbolc

October 21, 2012

This is the tale of young priest who is introduced to a satyr by a beautiful member of his flock. Deep in the Black Forest, they break bread, discuss religion and learn the horror of the burning times.

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FREE READ – Marty Roberts

October 13, 2012

This is a short, Paranormal Romance in celebration of Halloween.

Prologue

She was cold and hurt. Again.

He had been drunk. Again.

This had been the worst one yet. As soon as he went to sleep, Kelly was going to leave and call the woman’s shelter. Perhaps he already was asleep. She didn’t hear him and now that her headache was easing a little, she realized it was way too cold. Had he set the AC to freeze in his drunken stupor?

She slowly opened her eyes, expecting the headache to worsen in the morning light. But there wasn’t any light.

Cold. It was so damn cold. And she realized she was still nude and laying on the floor. Wait a minute! Their bedroom had hardwood floors as did most of their home. She felt bare concrete under her. No wonder she was cold!

Tentatively, she reached out and her fingers brushed a concrete block. “Honey?” Her soft voice was totally lost in the darkness. Quickly rolling over, she felt her knuckles tear against another concrete surface,  above her. “Honey! Where am I?” This tumbled out of her almost as a shout.

It only took a few seconds of scrambling about on her back to realize she was in a concrete box. Smooth on all sides except the one where she felt the rough edges of the blocks. The smell of curing cement finally woke her completely.

Kelly tore at the walls until her fingernails were gone and screamed until the air ran out.

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FREE READ – Statuary

October 6, 2012

Awhile back, I had this horrible nightmare that turned into a lucid dream. When I woke, I started writing. This tale is the result of that dream.

Statuary

Written by Anthony Stevens
Edited by Stephanie Q. McGrath (stephanieq.mcgrath@gmail.com)

It was with some trepidation that I accepted the key to the family mausoleum from my father. His usually cheerful expression was quite serious as he explained that upon the passing of my sixteenth year on this Earth, I was to learn more of our family history and responsibilities. All of my many questions were turned aside as I was dutifully informed I was to unlock the crypt, enter and read the inscriptions therin.

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BaltiCon

May 18, 2012

BaltiCon is coming up the end of the month and I am planning on attending Saturday afternoon and evening. I never did get the info from the con staff this year, so I won’t have a signing table, nor am I scheduled for any panels. Feel free to say “Hi” if you see me in the halls.