Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I suppose I owe you an update. At least the three of you that read this blog.


 

     Turns out that work was overly busy and I’m easily distracted by shiny new things. I have been slowly making progress on both the Lethe series and the Halloween tale (which I will now just call a ghost story). They have come a long way from the small little idea they both once were and I’ve destroyed more text than I can count. To say its maddening is to put it mildly, but this is something I do in my spare time for fun. If it isn’t fun or if I’m not enjoying writing I tend to simply delay instead of putting out crap. Well worse crap than I’m already producing. I do still plan on releasing these in episodic pieces which means I should have the next piece done in the next…… well when it’s done. Being episodic brings up another issue though, to keep this up I will have to make some changes to the story that I hadn’t intended when I started this. This means I have had to do some serious rewrites to the story I had already laid out. I wanted to make three or four short horror stories all linked to this town in Wyoming and the monstrous things that live there, all happening on the same day. In theory it was great, I had hoped to interweave these stories to a point that if you read more than one you would notice things happening that also took place at the same time but from a different point of view with a previously written short story.

     There are many things to answer that started in the first story of our swindling salesman which will be answered in the future. Some of these will be answered in the upcoming story of Xander and Melanie during their quest to follow their Fire God. Hell will be found in Lethe, and hell is a cold place. Beyond the surface of what you read lay a lot of writing and notes and scribbled thoughts coalescing into a living world of monsters, evil deeds and hideous people. Lethe has held my hand and led me through its cold dark streets. A hero has yet to emerge in our tale, but perhaps one will rise from the murky depths of Lethe. The river is rising and I look forward to sharing it with you all.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Progess In Regressing.

This sums up my position on progress with my stories.

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It's that easy, and that hard.”
Neil Gaiman

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Just a small update:


To My Readers

To say it’s been a busy couple months would be an understatement. Not only have I accomplished something I never thought I might do, but also ended up traveling and working far more than I had ever intended. What does that mean for the story of Lethe? In short it means that I am behind on writing, don’t worry I have been writing as I can and do have a pretty solid outline of how to get to the end and still make my release schedule. I still plan on releasing a new short story in August for Lethe, I also have in the works a Halloween story for children (which will happen, I promise) along with a ghost story for adults. All this and I still have a full time job to attend to. 

As for the events that have kept me busier than I expected? I had the great honor to officiate a marriage recently, I went through the process to be registered and ordained as an interfaith minister for the sole purpose to wed a couple of dear friends of mine. The wedding was great, they had done an amazing job setting everything up on their own. When it came time for the ceremony to take place I think I was more nervous than they were. I had the knees shaking nervous twitches of a high school kid giving a speech in front of the entire school without pants on. In the end they both said their I do’s and no one killed me for stumbling over a few words. The other thing that has kept me away from writing has been work. I hold many hats in my company, I am a projects manager who also happens to be the only person in the entire company who has any experience in refinery or industrial plant services. What that means to anyone who cares is that I end up traveling to a lot of sales bids for my company as a consultant for both safety and production rates and end up sitting in a lot of meetings and building a lot of spreadsheets to explain how long it will take an employee to do a job and how many employees a company would need to do the entire task requested. There have been many late nights and long conversations over dinner as well as far to many emails being sent regarding the latest contract my bosses are attempting to sign. 

All that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy on the writing front. In fact I have actually submitted two stories in contest which I should be hearing if I made the final cut. I also submitted Lethe and The Driver And The Mist into Writerscafe.org, which is playing host to a couple of other contest being held there as well. I received an email from one of the moderators of one of the contest letting me know that I was in the finals for that particular contest which got me very excited. Needless to say, that I haven’t forgotten my promise of new content and further adventures in Lethe. Hopefully in the next few weeks a preview of the next story will be available on here. 

In fact here is a small taste of what’s to come. 
“The shadows in the canyon watched the couple leave, their hunger paining them. Their milky white glowing eyes recoiled at the lights from the Jeep causing them to scurry for the shadows in fear and pain. As the Jeep turned the shadows watched and waited, knowing another would come, one they could feed on, one they could keep. The night was theirs and the night had just begun.”


Monday, June 10, 2013

The Lethe Motel: Room 106





Lethe



On a sunny fall afternoon drove a 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass along an old highway in western Wyoming. The car still in pristine white carried its driver who tapped happily on the steering wheel along to the tune being played on the radio. Along the side of the road sat a weather beaten sign that read “Lethe – Pop. 4302”, the numbers “171070535” followed in white paint, as if the vandal had nothing better to do than increase the population of Lethe in a fictional way. Having recently acquired the vehicle as payment for a life insurance policy he had sold to the old hag two towns back, Max was feeling quite smug as he drove past another sign that read “Bridge Out” in bold black letters upon a reflective orange surface. Not being familiar with the area Max decides that it best to make a quick stop into the next town and see how to bypass the bridge and get on to Idaho Falls where he expected to make his next sale. Ahead the exit appeared as a lazy right turn into the sleepy town of Lethe, which Max happily took just as his stomach started to complain. Having not stuck around in Landon he had skipped lunch and thought he’d just grab something to eat along the way. Just before he enters town Max sees the town Motel off to the left, a small L shaped building with a pool and a small play area for children including a shiny steel slide that looked to have been built in the 60’s. The sign above the motel blinked in advertisement of vacancies and HBO in every room, but with a grumbling stomach Max drove past the little motel looking for a McDonalds or another fast food option to sate his empty belly. 

 Pulling the 86’ Cutlass onto Main Street revealed a quaint old western brick downtown with all the usual shops one might expect to find in a small town. The local hardware store stood next to the corner tire shop, which sat across from the town drug store with a sign above proudly displaying “Locally Owned Since 1947”. The wide brick street was lined with cars and farm trucks parked here and there; several vehicles were parked outside the Brison & Son’s Bank with its stone pillars supporting a domed entrance which almost covered up the tiny store front bar with an old tin sign “Hypno’s Saloon” right next door. The Saloon’s sign was weathered and beaten from years of faithful service to the town, but it held that rustic look that made you feel at home when you walked under its aged facade. As Max slowly passed the Saloon he noticed the closed sign was still up in the window, which was good news in that if they had a working sign then they were most likely still in business, and after the long day he’d had a drink was something that Max would very much enjoy. It all reminded Max a bit of Mayberry with their lovable townsfolk who seemed to always find new ways to test Ol’ Andy Griffith’s patience. At the end of the block in the middle of the intersection stood what appeared to be a water well, adorned with a wood shingled roof and rope hanging from the wooden beam housed just below the small rooftop acting as a wench for the bucket that Max was sure once used to pull water up for the town folks. Around the well were flowers of red and yellow, but not having much use for flowers Max couldn’t decide if they were lilies or some other variety. Thinking that lily’s bloomed earlier in the year than this, Max was simply unsure what flower might be the source of the color around the well. On one side a small bench made of intricate iron working sat, one could only assume that such a small bench would be for decor and not used as the flowers had grown up under and all around the bench and well. Not more than a block away, there sitting in the sun like a shining steel beacon from a bygone era of the fifties was a diner; clad in stainless steel and neon signs both in the windows and high above. “Oblivion CafĂ©” Max read aloud. A smile stretches across Max’s face; having eaten in many such diners left over from a day when doing things right was more important than doing them quickly made him all the more hungry, Max loved old diners. Parking the Olds Cutlass near the entrance Max turns off the car and heads for the diner’s front door.

With a chiming ring the door opens and the little bell above dances out the tune of a new customer. Max looks down to the black and white checkered tile floor, then to the stainless steel wrapped stools standing along the stainless steel clad bar. Inside a few patrons were seated about the diner, a lone man sat looking over a menu at the bar, pen and pad lying open on the counter. Looking slightly worn and weary the man appeared to be taking his decision in an afternoon meal quite seriously. Across the diner in one of the booths sat two women, one maybe in her early twenties, blond hair cut short still wearing a summer dress, a look in her eyes reflecting that she might think life is full of possibilities. The other woman was older, possibly old enough to be her mother. She held an expression of knowing how the world works and that possibilities aren’t always a good or exciting thing to encounter. Ignoring the few other patrons Max unbuttons his fraying tweed jacket then slides into the second barstool from the end of the counter. Adjusting himself so his slightly pudgy stomach was not actually resting against the bar, but close enough that his elbows could easily rest on the counter, he folds his hands like a man praying and happily waits. A memory forms acutely in his mind of his mother berating a six year old version of him over placing his elbows on the dinner table; Max smiled all the more knowing that he wouldn’t have to deal with her anymore. It had been quick, the cancer spread in a matter of weeks and within two months she was gone. Max had yet to pay a visit to her gravesite, he had after all been far to busy to mourn the loss of one hateful woman who never believed he would amount to anything.

“What can I get ya?” came the charming voice of a portly woman with far too much perfume and not enough makeup to hide the mangled red puffy scar running the side of her head where she was missing most of her left ear. Though the rest of her image was strikingly like that of a diner from the 50’s, a yellow dress that was more cream than yellow with wide white trim along the hem of the dress and arms. Undeterred by the ghastly sight along the side of the woman’s head Max greets her with a salesman smile and says “Well my dear, are your burgers and ice tea here as tasty as those my Mama used buy at the local Diner much like this one down in Memphis?” Flipping open her order pad the waitress starts to write, then says with a slight drawl “My burgers are better and tea is sweeter. By the way, names Sandra and you just yell if you need anything.” Sandra turned and walked into the kitchen, Max could hear her giving his order to the cook followed by a cackling laugh of a woman who hadn’t a worry in the world. Looking around the diner, pictures in black and white lined the walls, old oil wells here, farm land there, and then a group of men standing in front of the Brison & Son’s Bank in what appeared to be the ribbon cutting ceremony with a banner dated August 7th, 1917. Just to his left Max saw a man he hadn’t noticed in the diner before, a tall man in a black suit was walking towards the bathrooms. Max only caught a glimpse of the man before he was fully around the corner, but it was enough to illicit strange thoughts of dark places. Shaking his head free of the tall man’s image Max returned his gaze to the opposite side of the counter. There Max noticed ribbons from the county fair of 1997 for best chili along with a small 3 x 5 picture of Sandra and a few others standing proudly in front of a large steel pot on a sunny day all smiling with pride. “That is why I love diners like this.” Max thought “Good honest food by simple and honest people”. Just the sort of people Max had met in Landon, in which case one of them kindly provided him with the a certain 86’ Olds Cutlass he just happened to now be the owner of.

A few minutes later Sandra emerged from the kitchen with a burger nearly the size of the plate along with a basket lined with wax paper to catch the grease which might drip from the fresh cut fries still steaming. She slides the plate and basket in front of Max, before he has time to adjust his basket of fries bottles of mustard and ketchup appear next to his plate. Those were quickly followed by a large glass of perfectly sweetened tea with a wedge of fresh cut peach in it. “Can I getcha anything else darling?” Sandra asks smiling, a smile that stretched her scarred red flesh enough that an odd stretching of skin on her face and neck caused her smile to morph into something from the painting of melting clocks by Escher, a very noticeable thing to any who might be looking her direction. Being the charmer Max had learned to be while selling life insurance policies to the old fools he didn’t let his alarm at the morbid stretching smile show. Instead he asked her about the bridge being out, to which she replied “oh you know how it is up north, just always a mess up there that runs down on us little folk. Sheriff says the old Lethe Bridge should be open again in a day or two though.” Max chewing quickly through the scalding hot fry he held in his hand asked “Do you happen have a Holiday Inn or someplace like that I could stay for the night since the bridge is out?” A dower look crossed Sandra’s face relaxing the enflamed scar tissue along the side of her head and neck. “Only place in town is the Motel you passed on your way into town. Nice enough, even if the owner is a bit odd. But you might try Landon about twenty miles east of here.” Max thanked her for the information then sunk his teeth into the mammoth burger before him, relishing in the flavor of a burger cooked on a grill that most likely was the original and had been there from the start. It didn’t take long for Max to work his way through the meal, a meal that was so tasty he hadn’t noticed the loud rumbling of a truck passing that nearly shook the pictures off the walls.






Room 106 


A short time later and a conversation with the owner that was stranger than Max would have liked he stood before the old door to Room 106. The door opened with a creaking noise along with the sound of a key being removed from a door with locks in need of oiling. Max steps just inside the motel room then feels along the wall for a light switch just to the right of the door frame. Finding the light switch turning it on reveals a room that had seen better days “What a shit hole, place is worse than the last one I stayed at.” Max says, speaking to no one in particular. Shutting the door behind him he notices that the room number 106 was on the interior as well as the exterior. “Odd” thought Max, but paid little attention to it as the room was far less than a luxury room at the Hilton. Something as small as a number on both sides of the door could be forgiven after the price Max had paid to rent the room. Still standing just inside the doorway Max notices to his right a small breakfast table sat in front of the window which looked as if its glass had not been replaced in the many years since the Motel had opened. Next to the table sat a queen sized bed nestled next to a night stand which no doubt held a Gideon Bible. Along the opposite wall a dresser with a large mirror in the middle and on one corner sat an old tube television. Max stared at this oddity for a moment then gave a half chuckle “just like my dear old ma used to have, old knobs and all.” Giving the old TV a pull on the knob the screen came to life, some talk show Max was unfamiliar with appeared with guest yelling at one another which came in the sounds of edited beeps. Pushing the Knob back in the TV blinked off “There’s never anything good on anymore” Max sighed. 

Dragging his small carry on sized suitcase from the doorway further into the room, Max picks up the bag and places it on the dresser next to the television that doesn’t look to have been made in the 70’s. As he opens his bag the zipper catches at the bottom corner, an issue he’s dealt with for some time now, but as a man who grew up with a “use it until it’s broken” mother Max had no intention of replacing the bag just yet. A bit of extra force and the zipper gave way revealing the contents of his bag that now lay before him. Each item meticulously placed, not an inch of space wasted which meant he could reach his toiletries bag without trouble as it was right on top and head to the bathroom without a second thought.

Crossing the shag carpet that bordered on a brown color, but might have been a cream at one time Max enters the tile lined bathroom. The grout was the color of blackening mold and stood in stark contrast to the slight smell of bleach that hung in the stale air. Turning on the faucet max heard a gurgle then a groan then a sigh from just behind him, turning quickly around he realized it must have just been the sound reverberating off the tile walls. Still the sound of pipes clanging through the old building could be heard long before the slow trickle of crystal clear water came flowing from the tap. Shaking his head “You sure know how to pick a great place to stop for a night Max.” He began to apply the exact amount of tooth paste to the toothbrush he believed was necessary to maintain a perfectly white smile. A feature Max found helpful when selling insurance policies to those who didn’t need them. After the burger at the diner he wasted no time in starting his lengthy ritual habit of brushing after every meal, allowing the water to flow and clanging pipes to continue until he shut the water off not being able to bear the noise a moment longer

Just as Max finished the seventeenth passing brush of his lower jaw he heard the old tube TV knob turn on with a heavy “thwunk” sound. With a jump he poked his head out of the bathroom door to see if someone had come in without him knowing. Seeing no one he says reassuringly to himself “Huh, no one.” Max walked towards the TV tooth brush still in his mouth and shuts it off by the old knob, a knob that had to be pushed back in with some effort this time. Max returns to the bathroom and finishes his routine then heads for the motel door without a second thought to the oddity of a TV with a manual switch turning itself on, chalking it up to the TV simply being old.






The Bridge To Nowhere



Wanting to verify that the bridge was indeed out and impassable Max decided to inspect the bridge himself. Returning to the car Max pulled out of the parking lot back onto Main Street headed west, then turning on the radio which he had to switch to A.M. and settle for NPR, “a side effect of being in the middle of no where” Max told himself. At the on ramp Max headed north in his 86 Olds as the sun started to wane in the late afternoon, beginning its slow sojourn into the west horizon from its daily work. Following the he map picked up in the motel office Max continues north on the highway driving a mere three miles before the bridge came into sight. Flashing barricades placed on both sides of the road to prevent anyone from attempting to cross the old bridge. Just below the bridge Max could see the river had swelled to its banks, the water nearly sloshing against the underside of the bridge which seemed ready to give in to the demands of nature at any moment. Max stopped the car and decided to get a closer look on foot. When he opened the Olds door the Max was nearly deafened by the sound of nature’s great force as the river rushed by. The sound forced the image of a hundred train cars all barreling at top speed down tracks laid side by side twenty tracks wide. In the river Max could see all sorts of debris being carried down stream, from tree limbs and branches to even what appeared to be a motor home. The smell was the worst though; a smell of rot and decay the likes Max had never experienced was nearly overwhelming. Covering his mouth in an attempt to block the smell Max said “Damn, no getting across that anytime soon. God I need to get out of this town.” secretly wishing some god would grant his request fearing the smell would follow him back to the motel somehow.  Seeing that Sandra was as good as her word about the burger and the bridge Max headed back to town, ready to visit that little saloon next to the bank and drown out the sounds and smell of the Lethe River.

As Max drove south, tall old trees straight as an arrow lined the road on both sides. To his west the sun was setting, casting log shadows over the road and illuminating the dark woods to the east. With the striped spectacle of trees crossing the road Max was nearly hypnotized by the rhythmic sight until he saw a glimmer out of the corner of his eye, looking to his left Max sees a tall thin man in a black suit walking between the trees just past the edge of the woods. The mans face was so pale it nearly reflected the light shining down on him which stood in stark contrast to the dark suit and bowler hat he wore. Max blinked quickly and the man was gone, perhaps having stepped far enough into the dark wood that he no longer could be seen. Thinking it strange any man would walk the woods in the a suit Max shook his head and dismissed it thinking that he really needed a drink before he turned in for the night.






Hypnos


            Hypnos Saloon sat nestled between the Brison & Son’s Bank and an abandoned corner store with windows still showing faded Coca-Cola lettering. With no other distinguishing features Max was left to guess what might have been in the corner shop at one time. Perhaps a five and dime store occupied the space, maybe a thrift shop, or possibly an old Ice Cream Parlor that couldn’t hold on during tough times. Regardless of the reason for an empty corner store Max entered the establishment beside it. The Saloon next door suffered none of the issues of time and failure that the corner store now suffered. The windows were clean and the signs in them clear, one advertised Budweiser, while another offered the image of a pirate posing one leg atop a cask of bourbon along side several other signs displaying the options one might find within to enjoy. Max needed no invitation for such libations, as well as being well versed in conversations with strangers, he knew just how to fit in among small town folk having been raised in one down in western Tennessee. Walking through the door Max was greeted with the age old smell of booze and stale cigarettes, neither bothering him in the least bit as they were a markedly better odor than that of the river of floating debris he had just come from. Max walks casually to the bar and sits down, nods to the bartender at the other end of the bar the waits. The interior was an eclectic mix of folk art including strange voodoo like masks by the door that looked like they would be better suited for Baton-Rouge than in the little town of Lethe. Other things in the bar were interesting as well, looking about Max examined items held to the wall by square headed nails that looked older than the building itself. Then just as Max was staring intently at a jar which contents looked to be a shrunken head, a well groomed young man who looked to have spent far too long on trimming his facial hair walked over to him, dressed in blue jeans and a white T-shirt the young man asked him what he was drinking? Max replied “Jack and Coke, make it a double if you’d be so kind.” tossing in a little extra southern accent hoping to gain a bit of favor. Max had been in many bars like this in his travels while working in his current sales business and found that southern charm works best when visiting places that aren’t from the south but still have a bit of the southwestern feel to them.

Without a word the young man plied his trade, Max asked him “So on the way into town I noticed the sign for Lethe has some spray painted numbers on it. Local kids get bored?” The bar tender stiffened slightly in the shoulders belying that the sign was a subject of some importance. The bartender quickly relaxed and smiled up at Max with a bit of a smirk “You know how kids are. The numbers have been a bit of a joke around here for some time.” The young man had Max’s full attention now, an answer without an answer is as good of a mystery to occupy his evening as any on the ancient TV sitting atop the dresser back in Room 106. “You don’t say?” The bartender didn’t seem interested in saying much more, having already moved to the other end of the bar to clean some glasses that were from the same rack that the glass Max now held was just pulled to mix his Jack and Coke. Just then behind him the bar door swung open offering up a breath of fresh woodsy air from Main Street. The air in the bar seemed to recoil at the invasion of the substance and quickly closed back in as the door closed. Through the entrance walked the scarred face of Sandra and a man that had more pock mark scars on his face than anyone Max had ever seen. Sandra seeing the slightly pudgy form of Max sitting at the bar leaned over to the man and said something in his ear. Max turned back to his drink expecting she was telling the pock marked man about the stranger in town. Not wanting to stare at the couple who at Halloween would have no need to dress up to scare the kids Max finished his drink and waved for another from the young man still cleaning the glass. 

As Max stirred the ice cubes at the bottom of his glass waiting for his second drink a hand brushed his left shoulder. Turning his head he was greeted by Sandra’s scar stretched smile “Did you get settled in the motel alright? The Old Man didn’t give you too much grief did he?” Next to her the man she had arrived with sat down. “No trouble at all, he was a nice fellow in that grumpy neighbor kind of way. Thank you Sandra for recommending it.” Max said smiling wondering how she knew he hadn’t turned back to Landon for a real hotel. Sandra slid into the stool left between Max and the man who had taken a seat at the bar now waving the bartender over. “This is my husband Carl.” She said motioning to her left, who turned and gave Max the once over look. “Nice to meet you, I’m Max.” He said raising his glass to the rough looking man who simply nodded. “He doesn’t say much, but he’s a good man once ya get to know him.” Sandra said as she adjusted to her bar stool. The bartender placed a tall glass in front of her full of some bright reddish liquid and a pint of black beer directly in front of Carl then finally a double Jack and Coke in front of Max. Seeing the friendly nature of Sandra and thinking she might illuminate the mystery of the numbers 171070535 painted on the sign into town Max said. “I was just asking our bartender here about the town sign, looks to have been vandalized a bit. Our friend here thinks it’s the local kids. I happen to remember a time when a much younger me might have been tempted into some hair brained idea like that. Thank goodness I had a mother who raised me to be a God fearing boy and I never strayed to far down those paths of temptation.” Sandra nodded politely as if in agreement in the way to raise a child. Max looking at the bartender and asks “What’s the joke you mentioned about the numbers again?” The young man looked at Sandra and Carl then back to Max, Carl sighed after a hard swallow of his tar colored beer. “Just some kids joke about hating the placed that took them in, raised them, fed them, and sheltered their sorry asses.” Carl said with a voice filled with enough gravel to match his marred face. Not feeling the need to continue prodding a man who looked to have had just about all the chat he could muster for a year or more Max turned back to his drink that had been replaced by the bartender finishing it off in one gulp. Looking down at his watch he noticed it was already after 9pm, time had somehow slipped by and if Max planned to make an attempt at the bridge first thing in the morning he wanted to get to sleep early. “Well thank you for the fine drinks young man, and thank you Sandra. You were absolutely correct in saying your establishments burger was better than what I had in Memphis. But I think I’ll turn in for the night, it’s been a pleasure meeting you all.” Max said leaning over meeting the eyes of Carl who looked relieved to see the stranger leaving. Dropping an extra five on the counter Max smoothed his aging white dress shirt and buttoning his tweed jacket headed to the exit past several voodoo masks flanking the door.

Night had fallen and a chill hung in the air, in the distance a rumble could be heard from the north. Max looked up and saw the outline of storm clouds billowing like cotton “looks like it’s heading this way.” he said to himself. Pulling the Oldsmobile keys from his pocket he glanced down the street and could see a couple holding hands while looking into the well in the middle of the street. Young love was not something Max had any interest in; a woman would come when he had made his fortune. For now he left the lovers to their well and hand holding, he would move on in the morning and be done with this strange little town that seemed to have far too few people in it now that he noticed. Looking down the street past the couple at the well Max couldn’t see another soul on the street, turning to look the other way he saw the remainder of Main Street abandoned. In the florescent lights raining down from their tall polls the brick buildings looked far worse than they had when he arrived in town that afternoon; as if age and decay festered and flourished in the night air. From the far side of the street a slight movement caught Max’s attention. Standing just inside an alcove entrance to a nameless abandoned store stood the very tall man in a black suit… “No, can’t be.” Max said clenching his car keys in one hand thinking back to the man he had seen walking in the woods on his way back from the river earlier. It was then that the man who had already been standing in shadow seemed to fade into the shadow until he was simply gone. Max rubbed his eyes then quickly unlocked the Oldsmobile door and got in. As he drove slowly down the road he looked closely at the alcove that the man had been standing in Max saw nothing except Max could see an empty doorway with its door standing half open “What the fuck was that about?” he asked, as if an answer was expected from the Olds.





The Storm



A short time later Max pulled into the parking space just in front of Room 106. The Motel sat at the edge of town near the highway, but just far enough around the bend that it could hardly be considered a roadside motel. Most would drive right past never knowing that an L shaped motel was even there with its stale rooms and blackening grout. Looking to the north Max could clearly see the storm rolling in now that he was away from the street lights. The only light that interfered with his view of the storm clouds was the low glowing Motel sign which the O was flickering off and on, apparently having issues with its neon source. There in the middle of the O was something round Max could see, unable to make out what the object was headed into his room having had enough strangeness for one night.  Max tossed his keys on the dresser and loosened his collar then removing his jacket and pulled his shirt tails out from his pants. Lifting the lid to his suitcase which he had left unzipped due to the troubled corner, Max removed his night clothes and changed into them, hung his slacks and dress shirt an jacket on hangers in the closet and closed the closet door revealing the mirror on the wall. He would need to find a decent cleaner in the next town he could get to before he could possibly wear these again which now smelled of stale cigarettes and bar stories and faintly of rot from the river. Looking into the mirror Max could see the aging at the corners; it was an inexpensive mirror showing a slight bend in the middle section causing a slimming effect he didn’t mind in the least. Max entered the bathroom to repeat his ritual of brushing his teeth, this time with the added step of waiting for the clanging pipes to give up its water then washing his face with its crisp refreshing water. Smoothing over his fading hair line and spitting twice into the sink Max finished his routine by tapping the tooth brush three times on the porcelain sink then turned off the water. Lastly he looked into the mirror above the sink recalling the only words his grandfather spoke that ever meant anything to Max. “Every night before you lay your head down, you look yourself in the mirror and if you’re happy with who’s looking back, you’ve had a good day.”  Max looked into the mirror at himself, a man who was content with life though aging a bit, but gracefully if he had to gage himself. Beyond his reflection though something dim flickered and shimmered, rippled slightly in the mirror. Lightning crackled and lit up his room causing the lights to dim momentarily. Startled by the sudden intrusion of nature he glanced out the door, seeing the room had not been struck through by the storm he returned his gaze to the mirror. As Max looked into the glass he thought he saw a shape reflected just behind him in the shower. Panicking and turning his head quickly he back stepped out of the bathroom, thunder cracked loudly outside. Max looked hard at the shower but was suddenly relieved to see that it was only his eyes playing tricks on him. The shower curtain stood slightly open and nothing foreboding lay behind it. Laughing slightly at his own fright, Max turned towards his bed and wanted nothing more than to wake in the morning and make his way to Idaho Falls putting this weird town with its stinking river and creepy tall men in black suits behind him.    
After laying in bed for what seemed hours and fluffing the motel pillow more than a few times Max decided that it’s simply no use, the pillow was flat as a pancake. The bed was no better, Max thought that the aging floor might actually have more “give” in it than the mattress he now rested upon. Closing his eyes the rain could be heard tapping at his window, then from the bathroom the pipes began to clang. Max eyes flew open again but then he could hear the muffled sound of water running and someone moving about in the room next to his, he focused on the rain tapping out nature’s rhythmic music and he finally drifted off to sleep.


Max woke some time later to a crashing coming from the bathroom, the awful sound of glass shattering into a thousand tiny shards. Max lay motionless in his bed, already stiff and sore from the unforgiving mattress he listened as the glass settle. Alarmed by an unsettling sound of glass moving far longer than it should have Max immediately recalls the sounds of the TV coming on, this time was different, this time he felt as if he were not alone. Attempting to feign sleep Max remained motionless in case some junkie was fumbling through the bathroom looking to score prescription pills or other valuable items. The last thing Max wanted was a fight, he never was much good in a fight, even in school he always ended up on the pavement after a scrap. Laying there in the motel bed Max tried not to breathe hoping to hear what the intruder might be doing in the bathroom full of broken glass. Instead of crunching glass under boots, his intensely strained ears were met by only the slightly sliding sound of glass on tile, and then it stopped.

Max waited, the seconds ticked by like minutes on eternity’s clock, still he listened to every faint noise the room had to offer, yet nothing moved. Not a board, not a mouse, nothing. Not a single noise could be heard from the bathroom now. The sounds of the world outside had also ceased, even the rain still falling against the window had no sound. The silence was so enveloping that Max felt sure some unnatural force was now at work. What building along this barren stretch of road would have technology to become sound proofed to the outside noises of nature on a moments notice? Finally, Max could bear inaction no longer, throwing the covers from his legs then jumping to his feet shouting “who’s there, show yourself or I’ll call the cops!” No response came, only more silence. Max quickly fumbled in the darkness for the bedside lamp, forcing him to turn his back momentarily to the bathroom. Finding the switch but in a panic it required him two attempts to turn it on before light filled the room forcing back the darkness that felt as if it were about to swallow him.

Turning around to face the bathroom and whatever awaited him there; Max clenched his fist feeling very much like the school boy about to be put back onto the pavement by Ronny McGillis who gained great pleasure from beating smaller boys like Max during school recess. The room around him remained empty, no junkie awaited in the bathroom doorway, no murdering psychopath looming in the dark, simply nothing. Feeling the fear start to subside Max ventured to peek into the bathroom, thinking now that the mirror with its old screws must have simply fallen off its mounts he stepped cautiously forward. “This old motel with a TV that still had a knob takes even less care of their mirrors. Cheap bastards” Max thought to himself.

Light from the bedside lamp caused light to dance and glimmer off pieces of broken mirror shards that had bounced onto the carpet just outside the bathroom threshold, like moonlight reflecting off icicles in winter back home in Tennessee. Max slid into his shoes to avoid being cut by the broken shards and took the few steps to the bathroom door. Reaching his hand along the interior wall finding the light switch he flipped it on causing pale florescent light to paint the small room in static white. The small room still smelling of bleach, its grout still looking of mold stood before him revealing that the mirror had fallen off its mounts. The wall where the mirror had recently covered was flaking paint chips of black and rust color barely coating the rotting plaster coated wall which must have gave way allowing the mirror to fall. Relieved that it was not the hand of any malicious thing intent on killing him, fear quickly was replaced by shame as Max scolded himself for allowing such a simple and logical thing to spook him so easily. Yes the silence was unnerving and the motel certainly was not the Hilton, but Max was a man of the world, of logic and reason. He had seen too much and swindled his way through too many situations much more dangerous than a bathroom with a loose mirror to be spooked so easily. Yet, he still felt someone or something just behind him waiting for its chance to devour him.


Max walked cautiously into the bathroom, its floor now reflecting back a thousand eyes looking up at him as he looked down at the mess. As he bent to pick up one of the larger pieces Max could see the eye staring back at him was of a moss green flecked with burst blood vessels along with blood pooling at its edges as if about cry red tears. Max’s hand trembled uncontrollably dropping the shard letting the bloody eye of green moss tumble back to the floor where it broke into more pieces, each new shard now with a different eye now looking back up at him. Looking about him the eyes were not just from the shard he dropped, but from each that lay on the tile floor. Some eyes were filled with blood, others decay, some leaking fluids that Max could not understand but feared. Each eye reflected one common thing, their hatred of him. Max’s knew these were not reflections of his own eyes, his own were of a chestnut brown and now full of fear not hate. Jumping over the remaining shards of mirror back to the bedroom, each shard hosts eye a different shade of malice followed after Max’s sudden movement. Fear sunk its claws deep into Max’s chest “Nightmare, this is just a nightmare” he said aloud. Wiping his face with his sweating palms in an attempt to wipe away the images and believe it was a dream; trying desperately to believe that he had not seen those hate filled eyes in the broken mirror scattered on the bathroom floor. Max turned back towards the bathroom filled with eyes of hatred, but he no longer saw the eyes watching him; in fact only the old tile floor with blackening grout remained. As if the broken mirror had never fallen from the wall or lain on the floor shattered into pieces each filled with eyes that screamed out their hatred of him, not a shard, not even a flake remained.


            Curiously and cautiously, Max approached the bathroom again. Small silent steps one in front of the other covering the small distance he had retreated. Each step closer a test of his willpower, each inch nearer a chance for his trembling legs to give way to fear and fail him. His eyes darted from the carpet to the tile, from the corner of the bathroom entrance to the sink then above where the mirror once again hung in its perfectly aged and slightly rotting way. The mirror looked exactly as it had before, if perhaps only slightly tilted, but not so much as to make one think that it had recently occupied the floor in a display of horror that had left Max trembling in fear, or that it had been shattered into a thousand tiny pieces only to be reassembled and replaced as if nothing had ever happened. Max questioning his own salinity stared hard into the glass, looking for any sign of those eyes filled with malicious intent. Yet no matter how hard he looked, his own reflection was all he could now see. Leaning down Max turns on the faucet which recited its clanging noises as it had earlier before coughing up the water held somewhere deep below. After splashing his face and giving it a good rub with a hand towel that felt far too rough for a hand towel even by motel standards Max turned the bathroom light off and stepped back into his room.

            Max entered the room with a tentative step, what lay before him was a sight of impossibility, chaos and order all wrapped in a mind bending feast for his eyes. Each of his garments was laid out along the floor and walls, stretched as if on display in some macabre dime store window. The mattress and bed turned completely upside down, yet its sheets and comforter remained tucked and made with perfect precision that defied gravity. The edges of the sheets pointed towards the ceiling as if gravity were reversed, the ceiling itself now lays as a display of every coin, dollar and piece of jewelry taken as payments for insurance policies. Each item now held to the ceiling as if it had been tossed on a table and left. The light by the bed flickered followed by a low vibration that could be felt more than heard by Max who stood frozen in terror of the sight. His life lay above and before him, his forged policies each sold and signed now with a red ink that now dripped to the floor. Each signed by an unsuspecting victim who turned over their savings in hopes that when they passed on their loved ones would have no monetary cost to worry over. His stolen and forged checkbooks sat on the ceiling with each check now made out to every demonic and monstrous name Max had ever heard.  Lying next to the checks were the credit cards of people who Max had swindled, steeling the identities of former clients who had died. The lights flickered again; the hum and vibration in the room grew stronger. Max held his breath waiting for this nightmare to end, to wake and be in his bed, to put this whole insanity behind him, for this he held his breath. Max gasped, sucking in air realizing that he could not wake from this nightmare, that whatever this was would not be escaped by holding his breath hoping to wake.

            The vibrations were strong enough now that the jewelry rattled and clinked along the ceiling. The lights in the room began to flicker again, this time nearly completely out then Max ran for the door. Three steps away from his freedom darkness falls on the room, feeling a force push him to the ground and into something solid Max collides into the closed door striking his head. Falling to the floor the room falls silent and still, Max now on his knees waits stunned, trying to clear his vision by shaking his head. Trying to understand if he had just tripped or if whatever was tormenting him was now about to take out its malice on him. The light next to the bed clicked blinking to life revealing the room as it once was, covers tossed to one side, just as he’d left it when he suspected a burglar. His bag still open with a spot empty from his toiletry bag being removed along with missing his night clothes, the ceiling now bare leaving no trace of his sins that had just been on display. Max’s head throbbed, touching his hand to his forehead feeling a wet spot pulls his fingers back to see blood on them. “Blood or no blood, it’s time to leave this god damn motel.” Max thought. He stood up and quickly walked to his bag zipping it, breaking the zipper as it caught on the corner that had plagued him these last several months. This did not deter need for escape of this strange and frightful room. Scooping the bag up under his arm he raced for the door his heart beating nearly out of his chest, relief being just on the other side of the door, the door with 106 on both sides.

Max grasped the door handle twisting with a fear driven strength, feeling the lock disengage and a sharp pull the door opens revealing the rainstorm outside. Standing now in the open door stood the very tall slender man, the one dressed in a black suit, white shirt and black tie, the one Max had see throughout the day. Max was eye level with the man’s chest and was forced to look up to see the face that wasn’t there. Merely a blank space of pale nearly opaque flesh with no distinguishing features that seemed to writhe and vibrate blurring his vision at times lay where a man’s face should be. Atop its head sat a bowler hat as jet black as this creatures suit and as ominous as the red moon that could now been seen through the rain clouds. The faceless creature bends its head towards Max as if looking at him then starts to lift a hand then snaps it forward almost reaching Max’s neck before he quickly slams shut the door. Locking the dead bolt into place, leaning against the door fearing that the creature might attempt to break the door down Max waited. Nothing happened, no knock at the door, no pounding on the glass, and no walls violently being ripped down to gain access to him. Looking to his left he sees the man from the diner, the one with the pad and pen. He was outside the window looking in but appeared to not be able to see anything as he looked intently at the glass. A flash of lightning blinded Max, when his eyes cleared the man was replaced by the faceless horror craning its head as if looking in with its eyeless face seeking entry. Max’s heart beat like a drum played by a wild man, fear and panic seeped from his every pore “It’s just a dream, a nightmare.” he whispered to himself over and over while holding his eyes shut tight.

After a moment and the creature had made no further attempted at entry, Max opened his eyes and braved a glance through the window and saw that the creature in the suit had left. The room lay quiet and still, only the sound of his wildly beating heart could be heard. Mustering what little courage he could, Max stood and looked out the window from Room 106, seeing nothing in the parking lot he decides “it’s better to escape now than wait for the tall man with no face to return”. Max unlocks the deadbolt and pulls on the door handle, this time the door would not open, held firmly shut by some unseen force. Quickly he moves to the tiny table in front of the window picking up a chair, with more strength than Max knew he had in him flings the chair at the glass. The chair rebounds off the window pane leaving not a mark, the window looked to be in the exact same condition it had been in when he first arrived that afternoon, not even a scratch could be found. “Come on!” Max shouted into the silent space. A flash of blinding white light crashes through the window leaving Max stunned for a moment, the silence of the room is broken by the rumble of thunder clapping as if the night welcomed the spectacle in Room 106. The silence now broken by the thunder and lightning, rain fell in a deceitfully peaceful manner upon the window of Motel Lethe, lulling its occupants, giving hope that sins might still be washed clean by this night’s rain.


Max’s panic had subsided, replaced by a knowing calm of one who knows his end is nigh. Now standing in the center of Room 106, his arms outstretched in a mocking pose of the crucified man his mother told him as a boy should be feared and loved. Not being a praying man Max felt that such pious lofty and conspicuous thinking of ones self simply foolish. That was before the terror, before the thousands of eyes in the broken glass, before the sins were lain out, before the faceless thin man reaching for something inside him. Max now cried out “God, if that’s who you are. Please, save me. I’m sorry... I’ve done wrong, hurt people. I don’t want to die here, I’ve seen my mistakes, I’ll do better! Just get me out of here and I’ll fucking do whatever you want!” Thunder raged outside shaking the building, rattling the full length mirror on the wall next to the closet. Again and again thunder crashed and shook the building. A scream could be heard through the walls of Room 106; a scream cut short by a painful heavy thud Max heard come from the bathroom. As Max approaches the bathroom the TV returns to life with a static charge that makes Max stumble into a wall, clinging to the wall for support as terror grips him again. The walls vibrate hard nearly shaking the room apart now, Max could feel it now, the building was alive and it was hungry. Looking into the bathroom, Max could see the light flickering, revealing nothing that would have made a heavy wet sound hitting the floor. But then Max heard the gurgle, the choking noise through the wall and he knew this night’s judgment was not just for him. Others were suffering like him and now possibly dying. Max left the bathroom determined to escape his fate, picks up the chair from the table and again he flings the chair at the window, again, and again. Yet the window will not break, will not shatter, nor fail in its task to hold Max firmly where he was, the prisoner in Room 106.


The rain had picked up and beat harder now. Swirling gales could be seen through the window by Max who now sat on his former weapon. No longer a potential for escape, it served as a sentencing chair. “Will God hear my prayer?” “Will my pardon come this night?” Max thought. From behind him Max heard “Crackle” “Pop” he turns to look at where the sounds came from, the mirror atop the dresser was fracturing and Max watched as it crumbled. Shards of mirror shattered into tiny fragments and all moved with the vibrations of the building. Max waited, waited for his judgment, waited to hear the mirror in the bathroom shatter, waited for the mirror by the closet to break. He waited for his sins to be cleansed by reflection and illumination held in the light of those shards of broken glass, his judgment held in the eyes broken and bleeding among the shards. Max did not have long to wait, with each crack of thunder another mirror broke, the bathroom shattered first, followed by the mirror next to the closet, both shattered and moved under the vibrations of the building. The Mirrors did not break alone, the TV now alive and with a pop the screen cracked barely containing the static signal which now played on the screen as the power knob had again pulled itself into the ON position, then returned to OFF and back again. “Please God, I’m begging, I don’t want to die tonight.” Max whimpered. Instead of silence a reply came, this time from the television. Through the screen of now broken glass the static image of blank signal came the ghostly image of a single eye the size of the screen, morphing through each hate filled color, all bleeding, all bloodshot and leaking fetid ichor. A voice sounding of hell spoke “The River Lethe welcomes you Maxwell Corrith. Your prayer has been heard and your answer awaits you.”  Staring with terror at the image on the screen before him Max could bring no words to mind in response to the voice sounding of a million tortured souls all screaming in unison. Then to his right, the sound of glass cracking and rubbing against itself brought his attention from the image of the watching eye on his screen to the swirling torrent of broken mirrors forming into the shape of a human. Each piece of mirror reflected eyes all bloodshot and full of hatred. Its arm stretched out towards Max who suddenly found his feet beneath him running for the sealed door of Room 106. Yanking on the handled screaming for help Max was stunned that the door opened without resistance. What lay before him was beyond his understanding, smoldering rivers of fire lay in the distance, the sky was full of smoke, screams of pain could be heard in the far off distance. Looking out the window to his left Max could see the image of what his world should be, rain and lightning just as it had been, but through the door only Hell awaited.


Max felt sharp pains scrape over his neck and scalp, then his arms and legs felt a thousand tiny little shards of mirrors cutting into him as they slid across his body slicing flesh from bone. Gritting his teeth Max tried to shake off the sliding glass only to have it sink deeper into his flesh. Screaming in pain Max opens his mouth which was met by a flood of tiny shards of glass mirror flooding his mouth shredding his tongue and worming its way down his throat choking the scream silent but filling him with the knowledge of the eyes. Looking down at his arms being flayed by the mirrors and the eyes held in the shards Max felt the flood of glass shards swirling inside his throat and bowels, feeling his intestines shredded Max fell to his knees looking out the door to hell. This was his punishment, no escape, no hell to welcome him, certainly no heaven to rescue his damned soul. The eyes see, the eyes know, the sins, his sins were now and forever his. Crawling forward even as the mirrors sunk deeper into his flesh, destroying him from the inside he could feel the gaze in those shards looking into his soul. A few more excruciating steps Max fell to his knees, he felt himself vomit out the shards of mirrors spewing his lungs, his kidneys and heart before him. Darkness closed in on Maxwell but one last pain would be known to him before he found the dark. The shards and thousands of eyes all emitted a triumphant childlike giggle of scraping glass upon glass that said “You are ours”. Max finally felt the shards that had now burrowed deep into his flesh and bone pull him apart in a thousand directions all at once. Behind him the door to Room 106 closed silently leaving the world to its storms, his toiletry bag to the next guest, and leaving the other guests all to their fates.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Quick Update:

       Just in case anyone has been wondering where I’ve been lately, I wanted to stop in and give you a quick update. I’ve been hard at work on creating a series of short stories of which the first will be posted very soon. I’m in the editing phase and hope to have the short story available within a week.

      This will be a multi-part interconnected story about travelers who happen upon a small town called Lethe. Sins will be brought to light and the town’s true purpose will be revealed by the end of the series. These stories will all feed off one another, but it will not be necessary to read them all to enjoy them independantly from each other. The events all take place in the same time frame and the characters might actually bump into one another.

Now for a bit on what’s coming.




 
The River is rising….


      In a quiet town nestled along the Lethe River something is stirring. When the river rises forcing closed the town’s only bridge, travelers take up lodging at the only motel in town. Something is stirring and the travelers have its attention…… Fear what hears your prayers, for it knows your sins.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Driver And The Mists - A Short Story.


 

“Faster” Screamed the thought from the man behind the wheel. The car whining at the strain placed upon it by the dogged man. The engine pleading for reprieve, wailing for mercy, still the driver pushed on. “They’re gaining!” he thought glancing in the rearview mirror. Panic pulled at the mans wits’, threatening to tear the him apart at the very seams of sanity, like a hull with rivets too small to bear the strain on a tossing north sea. Hours he had driven, all white knuckled and sweating.

 

The car screamed down the open road, cradled by fields of gold, ripe for harvests blade to cut them down. The engine’s plea the only sound, save the wiping of sweat and rubbing of hands on the steering wheel. The radio had sparked out a short time ago causing the lingering smell of burning circuits to hang heavy in the moist air. Summer’s heat refused to release its grip when the Moon came out to claim what is his. Still the car drove on nervously past leaning barns and windmills rusted stiff, pointing south, the direction the man was driving so fervently away from.

 

Through the mirror the driver sees them, shadows, Mists, forms drifting in and out of the fields, tangible and terrible. He wipes his brow again and deposits the moist hand to his blue jean covered thigh once more. The driver knows what he’s done, knows the price to be paid, and knows this will end soon. Yet he drives on, faster still. The tires devolve, from traction to memory. Once proud of their purpose, now retire to their black topped cemetery of Northern Carolina, the tires slowly find they are being pulled apart as much as the man. Still, the man drives on.

 

Fields give way to forest, from gold to gray. They are closer now, the driver knows. The mirror reveals the swirling darkness, stars wink out, abandoning the driver for fear of shadows darker than night might cast their gaze skywards. “Faster!” the driver yells, demanding more than the car can give its cruel master. His leg flexes, pressing harder on the peddle, the engine feels doom and knows it too will soon find an end.

 

The Mists lick at the car, ghostly limbs reaching, caressing, and comforting the car. The Mists hear its pain and pleas, the last gasps of its life. Just out of the shadows reach the driver struggles, defiantly twisting the wheel and forcing loose the Mists’ grip. Agony and sadness dampen the air as the car yields its’ masters call, swerving away from the groping Mists. 

 

 

“I had to do it, no choice.” The driver said aloud, in feeble attempt to justify the events witnessed by waning light and waking Moon. “Deals a deal!” The driver yelled through the tightly shut window. “Pipers gap, that’s where they’ll be and they can have it.” Mumbled the driver; wishing now that the smell of burnt plastic circuits would subside. “Air, I need air.” Pulling his hand back from the knob, the window he knows must remain shut tight if he is to survive. The heat and smell linger oppressive, inviting folly of sweet relief from the cooling night air of an open car window. 

 

The Moon could see only glimpses, the forest refusing to give audience to one who sees so much evil as he. This, the forest would keep unto itself, a secret to burry deep, like the roots that slithered beneath, trembling with anticipation it waited. The forest knew her part to play, the sacrifices that were to come. She relished the violence promised by the Mists, like a woman might savor the smell of a lover, close, intimate and pure.

 

The shadows living in the forest served the Mists well this night, embraced the Mists while they clawed their way through the forest. Her branches leaning low, giving grips to the Mists for it to close in on the driver. Vapor and form, transparency and umbra, the Mists moved like water escaping the prison atop hidden mountains. The driver was closer now; the Mist gained, closing the distance on the car and trembled in rage at what was taken. 

 

The forest hung low over the road, claw like branches swaying in the wind grasping and nipping at the car. Fear propelled the car, the driver screamed, yelled “Move you pile of shit!” The car was old, felt its many years in every thrust of its pistons and bend in the road. The car had seen many things; it had carried two generations across the country, resting before the majesty of the Grand Canyon. It had burdened the cries of two soon to be mothers twenty years apart on their way to birth life into the world. The car also recalled in these last few moments the sounds of infant cries during their first trip home. It was sadness that started the end of things tonight. These memories were long ago, in a time when its’ blue paint was not yet faded, before its glass had yellowed with age. Now the car knew only sadness, while the driver has yet to taste the bitterness. 

 

The Mists closed in on the car and driver. Its tendrils once again licked at the car like a lover caressing a neck. The forest hung her branches low, knowing the time for violence was at hand. The Moon watched with curious gaze, wondering if he would glimpse the coming violence, the taste of it hung in the air and the Moon relished it. For that is what the Moon does, observe and relish in the deeds of night. The Mists wailed a banshee scream, the trees quivered and shook, the air became dense and rain began to fall. First a single drop, then another and another, until the rain was steady, heavy and murky. The rain fell red like blood, dark as the sin committed by the driver so recently further south. The road slickened from the falling rain, the car felt its’ dying tires start to give way and knew the end was here. The driver fumbling for the toggle to turn on the wipers did not notice the splattering noises now steadily hitting the glass, only the murky rain falling obscuring his sight. 

 

The Mists lashed at the window gaining the drivers attention, shapes and faces pressed soundless screams of terror into the glass. First upon one side, then another, then a third until the Mist surrounded the car. Only now did he see it, surrounded by the faces of agony, faces of the guilty, faces of shame, he saw it. The trees were bleeding; the forest a living thing of flesh and bone, blood and soil. Leaves turned to shreds of flesh now slapping into the car, coating the road in the macabre leaving no traction to be had for the poor wounded tires. The Moon gasped as he glimpsed the scene below through a small break in the canopy of trees now made flesh and blood, the forest wailed in agony and triumph as her last great power revealed. The Mists laughed a moist dead laughter as the car began to slide. The end had finally come. 

 

First came the terror filled cries from the tires, knowing they had given all they could give, released their waning grip. The horror then became the cars’, its’ end only feet away as the tires relinquished their grip. The shrieking scream of metal and the shattering of glass became the death rattle for the old car. The drive was last, ensured to experience all of the terror and horror, to hear the cries and shrieking and for him the sound of flesh and bone breaking with a sickening wet snap the world halted. All is still now, the tires turn no more, and the car breathed nary a wisp or gasp. The sound of rain began to subside, leaving streams of red through the forest which drank her fill. Still the driver remained, trapped and surround by the faces in the Mist. “It’s me, it has always been me. I had no choice you see? You do see, please?” Regret, the driver felt it more purely than any pain he’d endured. With a single touch of the Mist he faded into death’s waiting hands. This was the only satisfaction the Mist would have. Yet regret was enough, enough for the sins, enough for the sacrifices, enough to appease the Moon and forest. The Mists cradled the man and he knew no more. With a fathers care the Mists laid to rest this wayward son, under the trees of Pipers Gap. Slowly the Mist returned to the shadows and together they faded away hand in hand, leaving the night to deliver payment for morning light. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Things To Consider When Posting On Social Media




Social Media, is a bit of a bane for me. I have avoided it as much as I can, unfortunately it is something that we are required to deal with to communicate these days. At least it seems to be the easiest way to communicate in these times so full of technology designed to connect one another. I will be the first to admit I fail at online social interaction; I feel like an old man in this regard. I prefer seeing friends face to face; or calling up friends for a meeting down at the local watering hole to trade complaints about the day’s woes. Even a phone call is preferred instead to a text when I want to chat with someone far away. Alas, with begrudging heart I resign myself with the knowledge that I am one of the very few who still feel this way about communication. It is with the reluctance of a beaten man I wade through the social storm of what is the Facebook world. I am compelled though to bring to light some serious concerns. Concerns that I feel no longer can be held at bay for the sake of civility or niceties. After many conversations and much thought I have come to the conclusion that social etiquette is sorely lacking. At least in the online world, someone must speak up regarding this failure to communicate effectively. Though I surely am the least likely to take on this topic, as I suffer from a complete disregard for being polite in most of my writings. I find there are simply some things happening on social media that must be addressed. I’ve sat on the sidelines, hoping, wishing, waiting for someone with a greater voice to speak up and make known the travesties that are splayed daily on social media. I’ve waited for one with elegance and poise to tackle this topic with a sensitive, light hand of gentle care. Unfortunately to date none have come, so I humbly submit for your consideration a set of social media rules. A guide if you will, to the civilities of social forums and how to treat others with the same concepts we were once taught in kindergarten. Intangible things like respect, grace and the many others. The things our grandparents taught to carry us through life.

Robert L. Fulghum wrote:

“All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don't hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don't take things that aren't yours.

Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.

Flush.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

Wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world - had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are - when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.” Copyright: Robert L. Fulghum.

How many graduations have we sat through, endured the reading of this from a podium? Spoken with the quivering voice of a young person striving to make proud their shining moment of stepping into adulthood by reaching to the past, fear and awe permeates their every vocal inflection as each word is read. We often find this the opportune moment to check our phones, to reach into or minds and recall that list of things to do after the ceremonies close. Where to eat or what movie to rent? What we actually should be doing at that moment is listening, taking in the truth found in these simple words, recalling what WE learned while in those early formative years. I remember being taught to respect others, treat them fairly, share what you have no matter how little it might be. Cling to your friends because they are sometimes all you have. Now you might be wondering how this can possibly have any relevance to the social media circuit with which I opened this article? I’m glad you asked my friend, I’m so very glad you asked. Let us walk through the virtual world and find our place amongst the bile that covers our screen with so little care from those posting. Let us learn together and find that in doing so we might become something better, something more like the child we once were. Reaching back to a time when caring about what we do, what we say; a time when we understood that words hurt so much more than sticks ever can. Words are the key when it comes to communicating in any culture, especially via Facebook. Words have power, so much so that throughout history we see figures hunted and punished for using words as a weapon. Whether Socrates or Salaman Rushdie, though the latter could be argued as simple work of fiction that a certain group of religious people took great offense to.  Words can move people, evoke emotions, actions and alter the course of history if believed in enough. The advent of social media has taught us to disregard the power of the written word, to use them flippantly and without thought or care of the consequences brought about by them being placed in view of others.

Now you might be tempted to point the finger, shake it like an aged woman scolding a child for running through her lawn. Temped to cry “Hypocrite!” as I myself have written a great deal that can and should be considered offensive. I’ve written often on controversial subjects, religious icons, traditional heroes and legends, all have been done with a sense of sarcasm and humor. A disclaimer on my personal page reads “I host a pointless blog meant for entertainment purposes only, anything on this site is only my opinion and does not reflect the views of anyone else.” I post this simply to make clear that what I write is often of a purely satirical nature and meant to entertain. Have I written things in the past that were possibly hurtful? I’m sure I have. Does that mean I should give up and let my past mistakes prevent me from striving to become a better member of society? No, it means more than anything that I have room to grow. With that bit of disclosure and discourse out of our way, let us proceed with a few recommendations I’d like to suggest regarding how we interact with social feeds.

Early Morning postings:

Like many people I wake with a vengeful hunger for coffee or stimulate that will evolve me from the raging stumbling grumpy ogre that crawled out of bed into a more rational being. One whom takes his dog out instead of letting him stand by the door giving me the desperate pleading eyes screaming “LET ME OUT YOU FUCKER!” After my morning fix of caffeine, the rational curious me comes out. Many times I turn to the local news blogs for my daily intake of information to start my brain churning. I also try to browse through Facebook to see what my friends network is up to. I often find inspirational postings like this.

Yes I am friends with mentally challenged morning people. I am one of them, which means this post made me laugh at 4am. Can we extrapolate some cruel joke or something mean spirited from the person who posted this? Sure! If you spend more than an appropriate amount of time on any post we could see evil in it. I don’t want to spin this into a lecture on attempting to be politically correct, which is the last thing I personally am. What I do want to speak to is the general use and purpose of social media and how we can shift it from its current state of being a sounding board to complain about how much we hate our government or whatever issue you disagree with, into something productive.



1.     Spelling:
Above all, I am personally guilty of poor grammar. Spelling and punctuation are my weak point. If you have read any of my blogs you will know that prize winning writer is not likely to be an award hanging in my house, EVER! It is though of the absolute most importance that we attempt to use the right words to convey our meaning. Placing punctuation in the correct location offers your readers a better understanding of what you mean. I recommend reading articles on how to use grammar effectively. There are many such articles available online, such as Ben Yagoda’s great piece on the use of comma. (I read this and had to blush, I make many of these mistakes.) Check out the article here http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/the-most-comma-mistakes/

2.      Post Positive
When posting on a social feeds, attempt to ensure that what you post is constructive and positive. Offer explanation on what you post when questioned or challenged. Don’t be offended when others fail to share your opinion on a topic. Instead, attempt to reply with an understanding that by viewing things differently than you does not automatically make them wrong. Think before responding, withhold your aggression and attempt to understand their point before retorting. This skill is one we learn early on, or we should have learned early on. Remember Mr. Fulghum’s rules, play fair, say you’re sorry when you hurt someone.

3.      Remember It’s Public:
Everything we post is public, don’t be surprised when others go to someone you are bad mouthing and tell them what you said. Social forums like Facebook are the school yard playground, gossip and rumors explode like fungus here. Use caution when posting, it will get back to whoever you don’t want it to reach. For instance, future employers now look at Facebook profiles of applicants. CBS News reported in 2009 that many, if not most companies now review social media profiles as part of their screening process. (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-1734920.html) This is now something that we must pay attention to if we expect to reach executive levels. If you post up pictures of yourself slamming a beer pitcher looking slightly past the legal limit of two adult beverages and expect to be hired for that Junior Executive job down at the firm, you might rethinking posting that picture.

4.      Expect Confrontation
If you find that you are compelled to post in the negative connotation, angry, hurtful or flat out hateful; expect confrontation. During out last presidential election many of us used social forums to express our opinions on one candidate or another. We argued for and against their stances on topics like welfare, gun control, women’s health rights and many other topics. All of those posts are still on your page, still there on a server taking up space, leaving behind an indelible trail of evidence. Use caution as these post can come back to haunt you later, both personally and professionally. Not only can your friends see what was said, but also your employer or future employer may see it as well. (I will never get a better job after the things I’ve posted!) Expect that when engaged in debate or conversation over topics of personal importance one should expect that others feel just as passionately in the direct opposing stance as you. These individuals will engage and these conversations will become heated, they will take personal offense that you do not agree with them on a topic. Or perhaps you will be the one that takes offense that others do not share you view. It is at this point you should remember that just because you think your post on which way a PB&J sandwich should be made is the absolute best way, doesn’t mean others will agree that you have discovered the ultimate way to make PB&J. In the same light, some may not share your view on education offering evolution or creationism in public schools. Or your view on women’s reproductive rights; even the new laws on gun control. Remember, everyone has an individual view on these things and most likely feel strongly about them.

5.      Don’t Waste Others Time:
Remember that PB&J sandwich you made that is perfect, the one that everyone should agree with you on? Don’t post that. No one cares that you had a yummy PB&J that you made at home. “What? Adam! How dare you tell me not to post about food or what I made at home!?!?!” Calm down and let me explain. There is a significant difference in posting that you “Made a yummy PB&J for lunch and it was the Yummiest EVER!” and posting “Today I made a reduced fat PB&J with crisp apples, this has 20% less fat than PB&J’s made with Peter Pan Peanut Butter. Here is my recipe!” Which of these two is actually useful and interesting? See the difference? Yes, posting about our passions (food included) is absolutely fine, as long as it doesn’t involve any illegal activities like hunting endangered animals. Just be aware of how the post will be read when you are typing away on your Facebook page excitedly about the latest food you are shoveling into your face hole.

6.       Protect Your Loved Ones:
Security is a great concern for many of us. We want to know what the company of Facebook is looking at on our pages and if they are accessing our personal data for any reason. We should take just as great care with what we post for others to view. First thing I recommend to all of my friends is lock your account so that only your friends can view your page. This will prevent others from viewing that drunk photo you posted from the bar last night which you will promptly take down as soon as you are notified it is on your page and was made your profile picture. Furthermore, use great caution when posting pictures of your family. We often don’t think that picture of little Timmy in the bathtub is anything but the cutest thing in the entire world! Others may see it differently. People can be offended or overly concerned regarding the smallest of details in your photos. If you value your parenting privacy, be cautious what you post. This rule can apply to when you travel as well. I travel a bit for work and leisure, before I personally leave my house I ensure that it is locked up safe and sound, trusting that things will be there when I return. I, like many will post my arrival and departure from airports because I want my loved ones to know I didn’t loose my mind and kill the pilot and attempt to fly the plane myself which would surely result in a fatal crash killing all on board. This in itself it a bit of a risky post, “why?” you might ask? I just posted that my house is empty and unattended while I’m away. My empty house could be an easy target for any burglar to have a field day. Be sure you have someone who will keep an eye on your place. I have great neighbors who tell me when the mail man comes by and I appreciate each of your text and phone calls while I’m away!

6.      Don’t Be A Douche:
Lastly friends, remember what was taught in Kindergarten. Share everything, play fair, and above all warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.