The Obelisk: Part 2

“I almost prayed that you wouldn’t ‘ve shown . . .”

“Nothing to be done now,” Paul sighed.  “Last time they emerged after only a day.  Twenty-four hours.  The paste Alice gave me should be wearing off too.  They’ll smell me soon enough and the whole area will become an overturned hornet’s nest.  Just like last time.” Continue reading

The Obelisk: Part 1

Two weeks, no posts.  Sorry about that.  I’ve been working on this particular story for some time now, never quite getting it to the point where I felt comfortable publishing it or in this case, sharing it with others.  To paraphrase Hamlet, the ending is the thing, one which I haven’t been able to master yet.  Honestly, most felt either unoriginal, confusing, or just plain weak, and after sixteen different iterations (sad, isn’t it?) I think I’ve found one that works. 

Maybe . . .

Well, you be the judge (i.e. I hope you enjoy it!). 

The Obelisk

The blood dripped freely from Paul’s arm as he shuffled into the kitchen. The cut had not been deep. Only a mere scratch, but he had tripped coming out from the forest, aggravating it. The bandages – if you could call them that – a few medicinal leaves stuffed into the cut, held in place by a few torn strips from Solomon’s bed, swelled with the reddish-brown hue of dried blood. It was all that could be spared so Paul did not complain. At the least the throbbing had subsided, now only a slow waltz; his fall among the roots and trees had inflamed the pain into a tarantella, making the last league to the house an ordeal.

Continue reading

Luddites in Love

Lately I’ve been immersing myself in the works of O. Henry so much so that I decided to write my own for geeks like me.  Imitating another author’s writing style is not as easy as it first sounds — mostly because the gauge for success is rather ambiguous — but anything that helps me become a better writer . . . well, I’m not going to ignore.  

Regrettably, the sibling response was decidedly mixed.   Katie really enjoyed it, while my dearest brother after some consideration responded with a ‘meh.’   Needless to say, I’m anticipating proofreading his next law brief. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the story — more than Sean, at least.

Luddites in Love

With the exception of honeybees, ants, and reality TV starlets, the modern American citizen communicates more than any other species on earth.  Since the dawn of the iPod, it is said that the human species has stumbled upon the evolutionary fast-track to cyborg-ification.   Cell phones strapped to our ears; fingers typing out ten texts per picosecond; cat videos by the billions streaming on YouTube.  From dawn to dark, we expose our life’s tapestry of photos, quotes, and gossip before an expectant public like specimens in a digital zoo, to be ogled, examined, and meme-ed at the first opportunity.    The sum total of pheromones exuded by the world’s ant population palls to a day’s worth of status updates from an average college sorority. Continue reading

The God of Rain

By Thursday even I was tired of the rain. The storm continued its assault on the Maryland for the fifth day in a row; by Wednesday torrents of water formed rapids out of what were once community roadways. Old Ellicott City several miles away had nearly been washed clean, houses and all. The Murphey household suffered a few nights without any internet, crippling many of the kids’ online assignments. Katie swelled with anxiety at the lost of her Facebook, while Ryan scooped an extra pint of ice cream and flipped on a few Errol Flynn swashbucklers I had tucked away in the basement.

Typically, the sound of the rain pelting the roof, a cup of warm coffee and a few dozen books negated any impending disasters, but as flood water cascaded through the trees from neighboring plots flooding our small pond and plugging our sewage pump, I began to worry. Newly christened 4×4’s, stacked carefully some weeks prior near the barn, floated off into the mounting surge, never to be seen or heard from again.

If only the chicken coop would have made a similar escape, I thought to myself, pressing a handkerchief to my nose. God, I can smell them here! Actually, the stench from the sewage tank had already engulfed most of the basement and threatened to ruin lunch, when my cousin Paul woke from his mid-morning nap. While finding a new job, babysitting has become my new occupation of choice, and I agreed to watch Paul while his mother did some errands.

After an intense session of PB&J, we sat in an alcove in the family’s “Man Room” – our new addition that because of its beautiful wood flooring and dark mahogany cabinets was absconded by the house’s females, who replaced the sport’s memorabilia with baskets and ‘antique’ washboards (That’s right! You can make something too good!) – and watched the brown waters cascade down our neighbors hills. One of our boats slid from fence into the flood; skeletal tree limbs emerged from the depths of the pond scratched the boat’s hull like drowned corpses; the dog left its shelter and barked as the craft disappeared into the woods. Continue reading

Snow Recovery Plan

We stand at the edge of a storm, the third in the last week, predicted to unload another six inches of snow overnight.  Like prison bars, the icicles stretch far outside the windows down to the lower drifts, which swollen with the piles deposited from the roof consumes much of the view of the back porch and my lil’ sister if she should venture outside.   The blizzards of the last few weeks were efficient tyrants, burying all of the driveway, several of vehicles,  and most of the house, locking its occupants inside together for a week.  And still it continues to fall.  After only a few days, the kids grew tired of the house walls and the blank empty landscape outside.  Pining for girlfriends and jobs, the boys race outside with snow shovel and plow as soon as the last flakes fell, eager for the return of status quo.

The Prison Bars

The Prison Bars

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Delayed by Destiny

Many apologies for the absence of posts lately.  In my effort to see my name in print, I’ve been writing non-stop, adding some finishing touches on some of my short stories.  In some cases, the damage is minimal: a little spackle here, a new coat of paint, repair some dangling participles, done.   For others, the internal structure was a mess, infested with confusing plot, ambiguous characters, and one rather egregious split infinitive.

Anyway, if any of you can direct me to some admirable sci-fi/fantasy magazines, I’d highly appreciate it.  Ample thanks and Dasad’s first-born child will be yours.

Seeing as we’re nearing Halloween, I thought to share a little Lux Aeterna with you though until I manage to get my act together.  I’m still a little shaky on my costume this year but might take a page from Jim during this evening’s  Office.  BookFace: the popular social-networking site!

Pub Sign

Centuries ago before the advent of email, scotch tape, or gorilla glue, messages of high importance were often sealed with hot wax and then stamped with the seal of the sender, typically a man or woman of high renown. The impression of the crest in the wax would carry great weight to all who saw that distinctive seal. For example, take the following exchange at the border between two warring nations:

Guard (raising his hand): “Stop in the name of the king!”
Messenger Bob (reigning in his horse): “Indeed I cannot, for I bare an important message from the Duke of Avalon.”
Guard (smirking): “Surely you jest. The Duke and all his retinue have vanished, lost at sea since autumn’s harvest. A spy or traitor you must be! To arms!”
Bob (pulling the message from his valise): “Verily I tell thee the truth. For look I bear the seal of the Duke himself. He has returned from the halls of Death and seeks audience with his Majesty, the King.”
Guard: “By Heaven! This indeed is the Duke’s mark. Proceed, though I do not bid you well. Your presence and that of your Masters bodes ill-fortune, when the Dead breathe once more and the mark of one so mighty a man is seen once again under the sun. Go and fly fast from here!”

The story continues with the Messenger at the castle, revealing himself to be the Duke in disguise, lost at sea through the king’s treachery who in order to seize power, married the Duke’s sister and robbed the Duke of his favorite sword, Rosalita, but that’s all unimportant now as the story ends quite happily and thus lamely. However, as you can see seals and crests can come in handy at times to identify yourself, distinguish your work, and avoid being skewered by a troop of unfriendly border guards.

Thus, in an effort to keep up with current security measures as well as improve the quality of the site, I sought Dasad’s help in creating a pub sign for the blog.
den_dragon12-copy

Interesting, huh?  While in London fifteen years ago, Pat and I had the fortune to join Mom and Dad on a pub crawl.  For a bunch of underage kids, bars held little interest but it was amazing if you managed to notice the subtle atmosphere between each one.  Some felt like riverside dives, others high-class wineries.  One entitled the Beefeater felt like a theme restaurant, serving bowls of stew, chicken, and chips without any utensils.  Mom and Dad even got chosen to be King and Queen of our table, donning paper crowns like five-year-olds at Chuck E’ Cheese.  As the evening wore on these more blatent difference disappeared as the pubs melded together, each more indistinct from the next.  Boring as the pubs themselves were I anticipated each new locale, a walk through fog-drenched London and the unique names and sign above each pub door.

Though I cannot recall the names of them all, take a look at the some of the pub names I found scattered on the web:pub-signs-20050508-183447

  • The Carpenter’s Arms
  • The Dirty Dick’s Pub
  • The Slaughtered Lamb
  • Sherlock Holmes Pub
  • The Smuggler
  • Jack the Ripper Pub
  • The Golden Fleece
  • The Beehive

I wanted something similar for my digital pub, something distinctive, and personal.  Seeing as I hope to write about and slay dragons one day (at the same time perhaps), what better symbol?  All that remains is the leaves of the book where I hope to show the beginning of a story or two.  Perhaps Moby Dick?  Perhaps Sir Gwain and the Green Knight?  Pehaps the tale of a ocean-tossed Duke . . . maybe this time I will write a better ending.