You Tube Tuesday: Brotherhood

It’s another Tuesday and that means it’s YouTube Tuesday 🙂  This is an idea originating from the Martians Attack  blog which I absolutely love.

This week I decided to include a short video I created called “Brotherhood.”

Throughout my life, I’ve always known soldiers whether they’re currently serving or are veterans.  This would include both of my grandfathers who fought in World War II, my father who spent nearly two years in Vietnam, and my husband who’s still haunted by his time in the first Gulf War and beyond.  I grew up not far from the Plattsburgh Air Force Base, and now live a short distance from the Grand Forks Air Force Base.

I admire anyone who serve.  Believe me, it’s NOT an easy thing to live a life as a soldier.  But what intrigue me the most is the bond between soldiers.  It is unlike anything in the world.  I have heard countless stories from the men in my life about their comrades whom they entrusted with their own lives through various experiences (and some were quite harrowing).  I used these as an inspiration as I wrote an one-line story, and then turned it into a video.

If you’d like to participate in YouTube Tuesday, post something from YouTube that you enjoyed and tell us a bit about it.  Don’t forget to include the link to this post in yours so I can check it out.  Also, if you’re on Twitter, post a Tweet about your post using the hashtag #YouTubeTuesday.

Writing: Daily Word Count (Poll)

Stephen King in his famous writing book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, has this to say about his daily word count:

“I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three-month span, a goodish length for a book — something in which the reader can get happily lost, if the tale is done well and stays fresh.”

Wow…that’s a lot of writing!

What about you?

Writing: Characters (Poll results & Archetypes)

 

 

A few weeks ago (technically, more than 4 weeks), I put up a Poll to see what kind of characters you preferred to write (female, male, or other).  Here are the results:

Female: 64%

Other: 27%

Male: 9%

 

The down-size of this poll is that it didn’t capture whether the writers were male or female so I can’t make any further correlations.   It seems that overwhelmingly we prefer females as our characters.

I wonder– why?

Do you find it easier to write from a female’s point of view?  Or, perhaps you feel there need to be more female main characters in books?

Another interesting result I found was how high the stat for “other” was.  Again, this poll didn’t capture (or further elaborate) what “other” entails.

Imagination runs rampant.

Today, we’ll continue the “character” series with another poll.  This time about Character Archetypes.

 

Writing: Moments

 

“Within seconds…”

“For a moment…”

“In any given moment…”

“Seconds later…”

“After several minutes passed…”

There are times, certain thoughts pass through my mind about writerly stuff and this morning was no exception.  I’ve been writing for this month’s Camp NaNoWriMo, and I love using the above phrases and word selection.  However, this morning, I thought–

“What exactly is a moment?”

Is it the same as minute or even second?

Or, is it something deeper?

Your thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post by Simone Lisa: Heart Open Please Enter

*As we continue our Mental Health discussion, here’s a post by a very special guest, Simone Lisa.  Thank you, Simone, for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us! 

 

There’s a little glimmer of warmth, burrowing into my chest. And a chink of light, peeking into my spirit. If I listen carefully I can almost hear a heart-warming song. It has taken me awhile to recognise it – the song of hope. Unfamiliar. Really scary. Really positive. Hope.

Hope has a few different acronyms:

  • Hold On Pain Ends
  • Have Only Positive Expectations
  • tHink pOsitive oPportunity comEs
  • Help Open People’s Eyes
  • Hanging Onto Positive Expectations

But I think my favourite is…

  • Heart Open Please Enter

I have had years of being knocked over and having to pick myself up again.

  • Grief after eight different family members died.
  • Worry as my teenage boys dabbled in the risky behaviours so many indulge in as they grow into adulthood.
  • Sorrow as my marriage started to crumble.
  • Stress as my elderly grandmother became more and more dependent on me.
  • Fear as my body aged and my youth disappeared.
  • Pain as my back deteriorated.

Coupled with a lifetime of burying emotions and not dealing with personal issues as they arose, it became too much for me to cope with and I crumbled. Every time I thought things couldn’t possibly get worse, I was wrong. Every time I tried to stand up and move on, another phone call came in. Someone needed me again. Someone wanted my help. Someone else had died. Another problem arose. Too much. Endlessly and relentlessly battering me to the ground, and in 51 years I had never learned positive mechanisms to deal with stress. The past two years have been eye opening and debilitating, and while I went a long way backwards, perhaps that is the direction I first needed to travel before I could embark upon a different path.

The past few days I have felt hopeful. Every time I become aware of that sense of positivity, that I may have a future and  things will improve, I worry I’m going to be battered to the ground any minute. The phone will ring and I’ll be given bad news. Again. I’ll be needed. Again. The phone will ring and I’ll be forced to choose between doing the right thing by family or the right thing by work. I’ll be put in lose-lose situations. Again.

But you know what 2017 has shown me so far? Nothing but positivity. Sure there are major stresses I’m still dealing with – but they are last years’ stresses and we’re working toward positive outcomes.

  • My teenage boys have grown into beautiful young men.
  • My marriage is receiving some tender care with tentative hope for the future.
  • Nobody else died.
  • My grandmother is being cared for in the nursing home.
  • I love my job. I love my friends and family.
  • My physical health is good and my mental health has improved.

You know what else? I found myself singing in the car. Singing!! I love singing and I’d stopped years ago. It is so good for the soul. Like alcohol however, I can’t indulge when I’m sad and stressed. I don’t drink to cheer myself up – I drink because I’m cheery. I don’t sing to cheer myself up – I sing because I’m cheery. When I realised I was singing, I realised I must be cheery.

So it turns out I have hope.

  • I am hopeful my beautiful boys will be okay – they will grow into the wonderful young men they are destined to be. They will experience love and happiness and success. They will contribute. They make me proud.
  • I am hopeful our marriage will continue. Hovering on the brink of separation has taught us both we’re not ready to throw in the towel. We value what we have enough to put in the hard yards.
  • I am hopeful my mental health will improve. My depression and anxiety are alleviating. I recognise them for what they are and have strategies in place to deal with signs and symptoms as they arise.
  • I am hopeful my life will go on. My story isn’t over yet. I have the opportunity and means to contribute financially to our family and meaningfully to society. I have abandoned plans to end my life and instead accept I have a lot of time ahead of me.
  • I am hopeful my elderly grandmother and ageing father are in safe hands. Their health is good and they are well cared for. I also accept that yes, I will have to farewell them both in the future, but they have had wonderful, happy, long, productive lives and I have support to deal with the grief when it inevitably strikes.
  • I am hopeful my back pain will go. I am thrilled about this in fact. I finally have a diagnosis and treatment plans and it is not major or degenerative and I will once again be able to exercise pain free.

More significant than all of these put together however, I am starting to feel a small sense of hope my eating disorder will improve. I won’t say disappear. Or aim for full recovery. I would be glad of those things – but so early in the phase of recovery (I may have been doing this a long time, but I went backwards before I moved forward. It’s a long and winding road…) I don’t want to jinx myself with unrealistic expectations.

You know what else? Without hope, I can’t recover. Without hope it is an intellectual exercise. Without hope I won’t make the right choice when faced with a difficult situation – I will make the most familiar and immediately comforting choice. Even if that decision leads to a poorer outcome. Because without hope, recovery is pointless. It feels temporary. Why would I make a good choice today if tomorrow it’s all going to fall apart anyway? I may as well eat a box of chocolate and be happy for five minutes.

Recovery is reliant on hope. Recovery needs my heart to be receptive – not just my head to be willing. So for today I want to say, my Heart’s Open Please Enter.

 

(Post originally appeared on Simone Lisa’s Blog )

Writing: Chapter Names

In your opinion, is it beneficial to name chapters in a book?

 

What Does Writer’s Block Mean For Me?

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

 

It’s that time of month again 🙂  The question for April is: what does writer’s block mean for me? 

First of all, let’s define this term.  Dictionary.com defines writer’s block as “a usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of a novel, play, or other work.”

Writer’s block means different things to writers.   Some writers know exactly what’s causing their condition; others have no clue.  Either way, it’s a distressing feeling NOT being able to create.  In many cases the more frustrated one feels, the worse this condition becomes.  And If you have no idea what is causing this creative blockage, it can last for months or even years.

Yeah, distressing.

It took me a long while to put names to what cause the writer’s block in me.  There are three that come to pester me from time to time:

  1. Procrastination: This is by far the most common one for me.  They should probably create a professional procrastinator field because I would easily excel at it.  I just love putting things off.  You can call me laid-back, or just plain lazy—it means the same to me.  Things eventually get done, but it’s usually at the last possible moment.  Nothing like a little stress to keep the blood pumping hard, eh?
  2. Distractions: Most of my distractions come via the internet like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest as well as YouTube, Pandora, Hulu and Netflix.  The others are the mundane house chores, paying bills and balancing the check book…you know, life in general.  I call these my distractions because they are just that since they keep me from writing.
  3. Mental Disturbances: aka depression and anxiety.  There are so many layers to these so I don’t even know where to begin.  Depression is like having darkness filling your inner most being and thoughts ’till you don’t care or have any energy to muster up anything creative.  Anxiety for me fills my mind with negative thoughts that I am inferior and can NOT produce anything of value so I don’t even try.

Well, that’s writer’s block for me in a nutshell.

What about you?

 

Writing: 3 Reasons Why I’m in Camp For April

 

April is generally a busy month for writers with NaJoWriMo, NaPoWriMo and CampNaNoWriMo.  In the past, I participated mainly in NaPoWriMo; but this year I decided to do CampNaNoWriMo.

Why?

I have mainly three reasons:

  1.  Being a stay-at-home Mom, I have lots of difficulty with set writing schedules; however,   I found that setting an overall monthly goal works better for me, and CampNaNoWriMo fits that agenda perfectly.
  2.  I discovered writing serial fiction was much more enjoyable than writing novels (I can explain my reasons in another post if you’re interested-just let me know! 🙂 ).  A current serial I began back in December stalled due to busyness that goes with family-life.  I’m looking to Camp to help jump-start it.  I’ve set a word-count goal for the month at 10,000 which should give me the spark I need.
  3.  Community.  I crave connection with other writers, and Camp gives it to me.  Each participant is assigned to a cabin with other fellow Campers where we announce our goals; from there, our cabin mates encourage and support one another as we each  try to achieve those goals.

What about you?  Are you participating in any of these mentioned above?

My Own Battle With Mental Illness

Doll Hospital is an art and literature print journal on mental health

Just a little blurb this week about an essay I have published with the current issue of Doll Hospital Journal.

In the essay,  In Search of Hope, I recount my struggles through various losses and disabilities that brought me close to suicide as well as my battle with anxiety and depression.   Mental illness also runs in my family.

What helped me through all these?

Writing, and the love for my family.

For those of you struggling with mental illness, just know that you’re not alone, and to never give up!

*To read this digital issue, click on the Doll Hospital’s image on top and this will take you to the site to download the item.  It will ask for $5.00 but this is only a suggested donation amount. 

Creativity and Mental Illness

I read an article recently that got me thinking about creativity and its role in mental illness (or vice versa): Creativity and mental illness share genetic markers on Genetic Literacy Project.

“Scientists in Iceland report that genetic factors that raise the risk of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are found more often in people in creative professions.”

Hmm, this statement wasn’t anything I did NOT know; however…

“Kari Stefansson, founder and CEO of deCODE, a genetics company based in Reykjavik, said the findings, described in the journal Nature Neuroscience, point to a common biology for some mental disorders and creativity. ‘To be creative, you have to think differently,’ he told the Guardian. ‘And when we are different, we have a tendency to be labelled strange, crazy and even insane.’”

Wait, there’s more…

“Stefansson believes that scores of genes increase the risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. These may alter the ways in which many people think, but in most people do nothing very harmful. But for 1% of the population, genetic factors, life experiences and other influences can culminate in problems, and a diagnosis of mental illness.”

Not only do we, as creatives, think differently I believe we also feel differently.  And we just don’t look (or feel) at the surface, we dig deep.

Very deep.

We dare to.

We must.

It’s okay if we’re viewed as being different.

Odd.

We’re used to being alone, standing in a room full of strangers (even family members tend to be viewed as strangers at times).

But do all of these make us mentally ill?

We tend to delve so deeply into our minds that we start to see things (and people) that may or may not be there.

We talk to our characters that no one else can hear.

Our minds…our imagination are our greatest weapons.

And our downfall.

All because “normal” people do not understand us.

But does that make us mentally ill?

Author Interview: Judy Walters

We have a very special guest today!  Please welcome Women’s Fiction author, Judy Walters! 

Tell us what first drew you to writing.

I’ve always written, since I was a little girl. I always knew I wanted to be a writer.  It’s just something I’ve always done, and I don’t know why, but I don’t feel complete without my writing.

What do you write?

 Women’s Fiction, stories about common people struggling with uncommon situations, many of my novels have some kind of medical twist.  

You were an editor in your previous life. How much has the publishing industry changed since you left?

I was an editor a long time ago — I stopped working in publishing about 19 years ago, right before my younger daughter was born. At that time, and people will laugh now, my office was just setting up email and I was afraid I would never learn how to use it!  

What seems to be the recurring theme(s) in your stories?

I like to write about families struggling with unusual but not unheard of problems. In A Million Ordinary Days, a woman is struggling with Multiple Sclerosis, and that struggle extends to her family. Other books I’ve written focus on families struggling with Autism, adoption, and infertility.

You have a new book coming out soon. Tell us about it.

My latest book is called A Million Ordinary Days, and it’s due out March 14. It’s the story of one woman’s fight against Multiple Sclerosis to try to live a normal life both with her career — working with pregnant teenagers — and raising her teenage daughter.

Which do you prefer: traditional, self publishing, or both?

I’m not one of those people who strongly prefers one way or another. Both are valid ways to publish. All of my books have been self published so far, but if I ever had the chance to have the traditional publishing experience, I think that would be great, too.

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing writers today?

One of the biggest obstacles is the ability to get published. People with wonderful novels can’t find publishers and feel uncomfortable or unsure of self publishing.  People who had great publishers lose their contracts for a variety of reasons and then don’t know how to publish their next books.

Allison Wheeler is fighting a war inside her body, a war with Multiple Sclerosis that she doesn’t want to acknowledge and certainly doesn’t want other people to see.

As Allison’s health deteriorates, she tries desperately to hold on to all that is important to her – her family, her career as a social worker for pregnant teens, and most of all, her independence. As her ex-husband and two daughters rally around her, they’re fighting their own demons – Glenn, in a new relationship, is afraid of shifting the comfortable companionship that he and Allison have built since their divorce fifteen years back. Melanie, whose sad past haunts her, is an adult realizing that adult life is not all it’s cracked up to be, and Hailey, a junior in high school, is debating how she can go off  to college knowing that even though she desperately wants to spread her wings and fly, her mother may be too ill for her to go. Just when they all think they’ve made peace with their lives, they must readjust to a “new” normal – or risk losing everything they’ve struggled to hold onto.

Release Date: March 14th, 2017

Want more info on this book?  Go to Judy’s website

Writing: Who’s Your Character? (Poll)

Be sure to vote, and follow this particular discussion as there will be more in the near future about the topic!

 

Story Sunday: The Hunt

Milky Way Over Two Inlets Lake, Minnesota

Milky Way Over Two Inlets Lake, Minnesota

 

It came from space in a fiery cluster of molten steel, shattering the solitude that covered the blue water below as it plunged deep into the cold darkness. There it would lie dormant, to be stirred by life that flourished both in the water and above.

 

The sun was a hazy object in the sky as dense mist hovered over the gray water of Lake Champlain. The cries of the sea gulls overhead were the only sounds heard other than the low droning noise of the 21-foot boat’s engine as the water splashed up against the hull of the Coast Guard’s navigational vessel. Anna Mae Hart leaned her petite body against the railing as her short brunette hair flapped in the brisk breeze. Her green eyes studied the dark dot of an island ahead that could barely be seen within the wall of white haze. She reached into her jacket’s pocket and pulled out a stick of gum and placed it onto her tongue.

Chewing heartily, she studied the sky for a moment. The sun was already a crimson color in the early morning hour which signaled another hot day in the North Country. As a native from Georgia she welcomed the steamy days while the locals moaned and fretted. She liked it here even with the cold, hard winters that plundered the northern state for well over seven months at a time; it was the quietness and the slowness of life that enticed her to stay.

For most of her thirty-four years of life, she had known nothing but instability and chaos; she came from a dysfunctional family, and as soon as she graduated from high school she joined the Navy and spent the next nine years traveling the world, and was trained in skills and knowledge shrouded with secrets never to be revealed to the common people. By the time she turned thirty Anna wanted a normal life. It was during her visit to upstate New York where she met Darren LaMonde and his family. After a short time, he offered her a position with Division 15 for the 1st District Coast Guard as a Patrol Specialist. She accepted it without hesitation, and never looked back.

“Looks like it’ll be another scorcher.” Darren was saying as he stood behind the wheel in the center of the boat. His dark mass of hair flew in every direction in the wind. He was handsome even at the age of fifty-six with no signs of gray or wrinkle. His hazel eyes were dark as they studied the lifting mist.

“You call this a heat wave? Oh, pl-lease.” Anna smirked as she continued to stare out across the lake to the island ahead.

“I don’t get how you like this humidity. It just saps all the energy right out of me.” Darren throttled the engine down as they quickly approached tiny Green Island, one of the 70 plus islands of the lake.

“Sweetheart, you just weren’t raised right.” Anna drawled in her thick southern accent and then chuckled as she leaned further into the railing as the boat gave a gentle lurch forward when Darren put the engine into reverse. They slowly drifted up to the wooden dock where there was also another boat for the Plattsburgh City Police Department.

This was the one part she disliked about her job; having to deal with dead bodies from time to time. Darren had called her around 4am to relay that a body has been reported and the police had asked for their assistance in the investigation.

As soon as the boat was aligned against the short dock, Anna jumped out and anchored the boat. Quietly they walked off the dock and down a graveled pathway towards a small cabin that was nestled in the trees. Suddenly, Anna stopped.

“What is it?” Darren asked in a whisper.

“I’m not sure.” Anna strained to see through the fog. “I thought I heard something.”

They continued until they reached the rustic cabin where they were met by two individuals dressed in dark clothes. The tall, stocky black man was the first to speak as he held out his hand. “I’m Lt. Jean Picaur, and this is Dr. Madeline D’Louverne, a member of the crime scene unit.”

The older woman was taller and thinner than Anna. She took Anna’s hand. “We’re glad you both could come out so quickly.”

“We came as soon as we heard.” Darren said. “What do we have?”

Picaur and the doctor exchanged a look as they stepped aside.

“You better come inside.” Picaur spoke as he opened the door and led them into the building.

It was a two-bedroom cabin with a large living area in the center. The small kitchen was on one side, and the bedrooms on the other side. As Anna studied the largest room she could see stark evidence of struggle everywhere. The back door’s window was smashed. The couch in the living room was overturned. There were dried blood and mud splattered on the walls and floor. The kitchen looked as if it was hit by a hurricane with utensils and dishpans scattered all over the floor and countertops.

Anna then saw a distinct trail of blood that ran from the kitchen floor over the carpet of the living room and into the den where it ended at the desk. She walked over and stood over the desk that held an older computer model; there was blood splattered over the monitor and across the keyboard, and a single bloodied handprint near the mouse pad with no mouse. The computer had been turned on. Anna assumed that it was being checked for evidence.

“Jesus H. Christ!” Darren exclaimed as he glanced at the shocking sight spread before him.

“This isn’t your ordinary homicide.” Anna spoke as she looked directly at Picaur.

The officer met her gaze and slowly shook his head. “No.”

“And we were called here why?”

“To help us sort through evidence.”

“O-okay.”

Darren turned to the Lieutenant and asked. “How many were staying in this cabin?”

Picaur pulled out his Blackberry and glanced at the little green monitor and answered. “There were two couples staying here for the weekend. They were from New York City. University students.”

Anna took a step forward. “How many bodies were found?”

“Only one.”

Darren looked over at Anna before turning to Picaur. “Then what happened to the others?”

“At this point we’re assuming they’re also dead, but without any bodies we can’t be certain.”

Dr. D’Louverne replied with an even tone. “We do have some evidence that seems to point the time of death around 11pm Saturday. The body that was found was one of the women who we think was the last survivor to die.”

“Not a domestic homicide then?” Darren questioned.

“No. These kids were not killed in a conventional sense.”

“Dr. D’Louverne seems to think they were killed by something … not human.”

Anna’s eyes widened slightly as she turned to the older woman. “Animal?”

“I can’t make a determination at this point. We were hoping you would be able to offer any insight.”

Anna turned and studied the officer intently, without replying.

“I’ve seen your record, Ms. Hart. You have a background in Marine Biology and various classified military experimentations.” Picaur stated.

Darren shook his head. “You’re saying that some marine creature came out of the water and killed four people in a matter of days?”

“In a matter of hours actually.” Dr.D’Louverne corrected. “I’m saying we’re not sure at the moment.”

Anna looked around the cabin once more. “Okay. Show me what you got.”

Dr. D’Louverne sat down at the computer and brought up a blog site on the internet.

“The deceased, Shelli Watson, blogged on this site regularly. She recorded their last hours.”

The doctor, with gloves on hands, worked on the keyboard until she leaned back. “You can start here.”

Dr. D’Louverne then stood up, stepped aside as Anna took the chair. She accepted a pair of latex gloves from Darren and pulled them on over her hands. She then read one of the postings.

“July 7th, Friday, 7:45pm. Whew! We finally made it after driving for God forever long, all 7 hours of it! We spent another 2 hours at a lakeside boating store trying to find a boat we could afford to rent. Lisa and Mark are making dinner, spaghetti I think; and Dru, not sure where he took off to, probably out exploring the island. I can’t believe we’re actually spending an entire weekend on a tiny little island in the middle of a lake, not an ocean, but a fresh water lake! Dru and Mark have been dead set on going out on the lake to fish, and hopefully also catch a glimpse of the local legend monster, Champ. Lisa and I keep telling them that those were only stories to lure tourists to the area, but boys will be boys. While they are doing that, we’ll be out on the beach sunning ourselves. Well, I’m being paged …”

Anna, using the keyboard, advanced to the next posting.

“July 8th, Saturday, 8am. The guys are off on the lake, fishing and looking for Champ. I keep telling Dru, in vain I know, that he wasn’t going to find anything. Oh well. Lisa and I are now off to relax for the morning.”

“Sounds like typical 20-something kids to me.” Darren commented.

“Yeah.” Anna replied with a nod. “Next post.”

“July 8th, Saturday, 12:35pm. The guys came back all excited. Dru claimed he got a picture of Champ. Lisa and I didn’t believe them, not until they showed us the picture. It doesn’t look quite like the pictures I’ve seen online of Champ, but it is definitely something. I’ve included the link here in case anyone was curious to take a look. Feel free to comment on what you think of it.”

Anna tabbed until the link was highlighted and hit the enter key. A picture filled the screen. Darren leaned over Anna’s shoulder and they both studied the picture. It was slightly blurry but there was a definite dark form rising partially above the surface of the water; the boat filled the bottom of the picture as one of the men had taken the photo looking across the lake towards the mainland. Anna studied this form. The sun was directly overhead, casting shadows on this figure, which obscured any clear view.

“What do you think?” Darren asked.

Anna shook her head slightly. “Not sure. Shelli was right. This doesn’t fit what we know about Champ. This doesn’t look like any amphibious being I’ve seen before. This here looks like a head.” She ran a finger along the profile of the form. “Champ is much more rounded. This looks like an arm, and a hand, or more like claws …” Anna leaned closer to the monitor. “To me it looks as if this creature was swimming towards their boat.”

“And perhaps followed them back here to the cabin.” Darren said blandly.

Anna exited out of the picture and continued to read.

“July 8th, 2pm. A strange thing has happened. Our boat’s gone. Mark swore he tied it to the dock. Now we’re stranded. Grr! None of our cells seem to be working now. Odd. We have no choice now but to wait until someone shows up to get off this island.”

Picaur then spoke up. “When we arrived there was no sign of their boat.”

Anna gave a quick nod and read on.

“July 8th, 6pm. I’m freaking out. Dru’s gone. Lisa’s hurt bad. There’s something out there trying to get in. I want to go home now. I’m so scared.”

“Someone that was wounded had been on the couch.” Dr. O’Louvern pointed to the torn, upturned furniture. “I found dried human blood.”

“There were also tracks around the cabin. They are unlike any animal prints I have ever seen.” Picaur added.

“Let’s see what happened next.

July 8th, 8:30pm. There’s still no sign of Dru. I can still hear him screaming in my head. He had gone into the woods to find Lisa while Mark stayed with me. Then I heard Dru screaming, and Lisa came running back a few moments later. She was covered in blood. And her right arm was completely gone! My god. What is happening here?”

Anna leaned back in the chair, rubbed both hands on the back of her neck. “This creature’s intelligent. It stalked them, watched and studied them. Waited. Dru was the first to die. Lisa was allowed to get away. Kind of like a cat and mouse game.”

“Like a predator hunting its prey.” Picaur muttered. “Would this be anything the military’s responsible for?”

Anna glanced over at the big man and eyed him momentarily before she answered. “No, this creature was not created by the military, or by any other country that I know of.”

She turned and focused on the monitor for a moment. “Nor is this any marine specie I have ever encountered before. This is either specie we’ve never seen before now or …”

Anna looked up at Darren as he asked. “Think this has anything to with the meteor shower we had several months ago?”

She shrugged her shoulders. “I’m not sure. Perhaps.”

Picaur took a step closer. “What are you suggesting?

Anna nodded. “I still have some connections in the military and I inquired about this meteor shower we had here a few months ago. I was told that an unidentified object exploded just above the earth’s atmosphere. Pieces of it rained down and landed in this lake. Nothing was ever recovered. Not too long afterwards people began reporting strange sightings of a creature that wasn’t Champ. Fish and other water life became scarce.”

She paused to glance over at the closest window before she met Picaur’s dark brown eyes. “The point is that this creature didn’t appear until after the so-called meteor shower, and as far as I know it never killed … until now.”

“Perhaps the guys did something to provoke it.” Darren suggested.

“That is a possibility. Okay, the final posting.

July 8th, 10:40pm. I can hear it scraping around outside. It’s growling. Mark is standing watch by the back door. God, I don’t want to die. Please, anyone who’s reading this send help. Please! “

They were quiet for several moments before Anna stood up and peered over at the back door where the window was shattered.

“It came through the window.” Anna began. “Killed Mark on the spot. It then came after Shelli. Shelli fought and died hard. Then it killed Lisa, or perhaps she was already dead.”

“How would it have gotten out?” Picaur asked.

Anna walked over to the back door and studied it for a moment. “It simply just opened the door and walked out.” To demonstrate she turned the door knob and the door slowly swung open on its own. She then stepped out and onto a small deck. “Doc, shine your laser light over here.”

Dr. O’Louvern did just that. “Blood. It goes down the steps and into the woods.”

“This is where we go as well.” Picaur said.

When Picaur and Darren started down the steps Anna reached out and touched Darren’s arm. “Wait. The sun’s gone. Looks like a storm is coming.”

Darren peered up at the sky and sure enough, the sky was now covered with dark clouds. The wind, now cooler, had picked up in intensity. He looked over at Anna. “You’re thinking it’s still out there?”

Anna’s eyes were focused on the moving shadows of the trees as the wind whipped through them. “Yes.”

Everyone stood still for several moments as they listened to the howling of the wind and the rain started to splatter on and around them in big drops. Just then, Picaur gave a shout as he stomped to the other side of the deck.

“God damn it all! The boats are gone!” He bellowed.

Darren moved besides him. “Both of them?”

The women came to look as well and saw that both vessels had simply vanished.

“We should get inside.” Darren muttered.

They quietly went back inside the cabin with Picaur being the last one in as he shut the door behind him. He ran his fingers through his wet hair and said almost in a whisper. “So, now we’re the hunted.”

“It appears that way.” Anna replied. “We need to be ready. The doors need to be secured.”

Darren gave a nod as they worked together to drag the ragged couch over and leaned it against the back door. The other door they barricaded with the heavy oak coffee table.

Picaur took a step back to study what they had done. “These probably won’t hold it back for very long.”

“No.” Anna answered as she checked her weapon to be sure it was fully loaded. “But it should buy us enough time to respond.”

They all suddenly froze when they heard large branches outside cracking and snapping.

“The winds have died down some.” Darren whispered.

“The creature?” the doctor asked in a shaky voice.

For the next several moments, they stood completely still as they waited. The silence in the cabin was eerie. Anna held her breath as she strained to listen for any sound from the approaching creature. She heard nothing until suddenly, a loud bang slammed against the back door as the couch literally shot across the room, smashing into both Darren and Dr. D’Louverne as they flew across the living room floor.

Before either Picaur or Anna could react, the officer yelled out as a claw-like hand reached inside and grabbed one of his feet and pulled him effortlessly outside into the rainstorm and fog. It happened so fast the creature and Picaur were nothing but a blur to Anna.

Next thing she knew, she stood alone.

* * *

The wind had died down as the fog settled heavily over the island. Rain came down in large droplets. As she stood in the doorway, Anna stared out in disbelief. The fog was so thick she couldn’t see beyond the deck. As she looked back into the cabin, she saw both Darren and Dr. D’Louverne lying on the floor, still breathing. They were alive. For now. She listened for sounds but could not hear anything above the pouring rain. It would make no sense to go out into the storm, blind and practically deaf. It would be suicide, not to mention foolish. Picaur was most likely dead. Her responsibility now was to the injured inside.

Anna stepped inside and went to close the door but saw that the hinges were damaged, so she left it partially ajar. She needed to get them off this island; however, she had a feeling this creature didn’t intend to let any of them leave alive. This left her with only one choice. She must find a way to kill it.

* * *

Darren moaned as he tried to sit up, but Anna, as she knelt beside him, pressed him back down. “Easy there, cowboy.” She spoke gently. “You have a head injury and I don’t want you moving too quickly right now.”

He met her eyes that held no emotion. “Picaur?”

She shook her head. “I don’t know. He’s gone now. The doc is fine. She’s over there sitting up with a broken arm.”

He turned his head gingerly to see Dr. D’Louverne sitting on the floor, with her back against the kitchen’s counter. “Did you see how fast it moved?”

“I did. I saw a glimpse of it too. It’s bigger than I thought, about seven feet tall.”

“It was standing?”

“Yeah, like a human, yet it’s not human. I’m not sure what it is.”

“So, now what, partner?”

Anna was finished with his head bandage as she stood up. “You and the doc are going to try and get a message to the mainland to send help. We still have power, for now.”

“Done.” Darren slowly sat up and leaned against the wall. “What about you?”

Anna avoided his eyes as she looked away, “I’m going hunting.”

“Bullshit!” Darren attempted to stand up, but intense dizziness threatened to overwhelm him so he sat back down. “Anna, I’m not letting you go out there alone against that thing.”

This time she met his panicked gaze as she laid a hand on his shoulder. “You are in no condition to help. I need to buy you two time to get help out here.”

He shook his head. ” No talking you out of it, is there?”

“Afraid not.”

“Help me up. Shit.”

As she placed her hands under his arms Anna helped Darren up to his feet. As he stood he leaned against the wall until the dizzy spell passed and he was steady. “You come back, ya hear? Or else the chief will have my sorry ass.”

Anna smiled at her partner and friend. “I come back in one piece and you owe me an extra week’s vacation.”

“Deal.”

* * *

With the loaded gun in hand, Anna stepped down off the deck. The rain had stopped, but the fog remained dense. She slowly made her way towards the woods where her instincts told her she would find the creature. It was mid-day, but with the thick mist that hung over everything it felt like dusk. The woods ahead of her were dark and full of shadows. She swallowed hard, and knew that any of the shadows could be the creature. As she moved into the trees she felt pressed by the overwhelming sound of silence where even her shallow breaths sounded too loud.

Anna glanced at the fir needle-riddled ground; she could barely make out the path. Then something shiny caught her attention as she bent down to inspect. It was Picaur’s badge. Picking it up she turned it over a few times in her hand, and fought back the hot tears that threatened to spill from her eyes. She slipped the badge into her pants pocket and continued onward. She was on the right path. It was only a matter of time now.

The narrow path led her up a steep incline and deeper into the fog. She could barely see inches in front of her. Then, somewhere behind her, she heard branches and dried fir on the ground crackling and snapping. For an instance, Anna froze as her heart pounded in her chest and she could hear the blood roaring in her ears. It was coming directly behind her. She must act now or die, like a coward.

She was no coward.

When she heard the low growl, Anna swung around, dropped down to her knees, aimed and fired into the fog. The bullet found its mark as she heard the creature screeched, and then came loud crashing sounds, and then silence.

A voice. She heard a voice. It sounded like Picaur! Cautiously, Anna stood back up and jogged towards the source of the sound. As she looked down the hill, she spotted a figure on the ground.

Anna quickly ran down the fir covered path to the figure of Jean Picaur as he sat on the ground, leaned back against a dead tree stump. He had an open gash in his left thigh, but he was alive.

“By the devil, Anna, it’s you!”

“Yes, sir.” Anna answered with a smile as she knelt down beside him.

He placed a bloodied hand on her arm closest to him. “I thought I was a goner.”

“Don’t thank me yet, lieutenant.” Her eyes scanned around them. “I only wounded it, and I’m sure it’s really pissed now.”

He gave a solemn nod. “Gotcha.”

With her free hand, Anna pulled the man up to his feet as he leaned heavily against her.

“Alright there?” She eyed him closely.

“Just feeling woozy.”

“It’s from the blood loss.”

One step at a time they slowly made their way back up the hill and down the other side towards the cabin. Overhead the sun was now visible as the fog began to retreat.

“Thank goodness the sun will be out soon.”

“Not soon enough.” Anna barely whispered as they came to a sudden stop. She focused ahead. They were close to the cabin now as she could barely make out its outline beyond the tree lines. To their left was Lake Champlain. Just ahead on the path, she saw the dark shadow of the creature as it stood between them and the cabin.

Anna couldn’t quite make out the body other than it was tall and lean, but she saw the eyes. It was like tiger’s eyes, red and black. Its face was human like but scaly and greenish like a reptile that held no nose, only two slits. The mouth was as wide as the width of its head, and as it seemingly grinned at them the mouth spread open to reveal razor sharp teeth of a carnivore. The growl that escaped from its body sounded so deep and low it resonated through her body from the feet up to her head.

She’d known fear and death, and had faced predators, but nothing like this. All she wanted to do was curl up on the ground and whimper.

“Holy mother of God!” Picaur exclaimed in a hoarse voice.

“Don’t move.”

They both stood, unmoving, as did the creature.

“What is it waiting for?” the officer breathed in a whisper.

“For us to make the first move.”

“Jesus, we’re dead.”

As she kept her eyes on the shadowy form ahead, Anna tightened her grip on the gun.

“Do you still have your gun?”

“No, I dropped it by the deck after it grabbed me. I-er-can see it from here, on the ground.”

“Still loaded?”

“Yeah.”

“When I count to three, I’m going to give you my gun. You keep it busy long enough for me to get to your gun, and we’ll blast it to hell.”

“Beats just standing here.”

“One-two-THREE!!!”

In one movement, Anna placed the gun in Picaur’s waiting hand and dashed to the right. The officer instantly began firing as she ran as fast as her legs would go. She could hear the creature hissing and growling somewhere nearby. She didn’t know exactly where it was anymore. Her focus now was the gun on the ground, as she bounded forward, dodged low branches and leapt over rocks and fallen trees.

The deck was now only a few feet away, but so was the roar of the creature. Anna took a deep breath and jumped high up into the air and flew for the gun that lay on the hard, bare ground. As she landed on her side, she felt the air whooshed right out of her lungs with a loud thud. She wrapped her hand around the gun, rolled over onto her back just in time to see a flash of white teeth, and fired. Then there was nothing.

* * *

Her head roared and spun as she slowly became aware that her body was on the cool, wet ground. She opened her eyes to see both Darren and Picaur standing over her; both wore wide grins on their faces.

“Damn, girl! You gave us a scare!” Darren cried.

Anna tasted blood as she carefully stood up onto her feet. Her eyes scanned around her.

“Where is it?”

Picaur sat down on the steps of the deck as he spoke. “You shot it point blank in its face. I don’t know how the hell you got the shot off; it was practically on top of you.”

“So, I shot it. Where did it go?” Anna asked again.

Picaur looked over towards the lake. “It crawled into the water. It was wheezing and bleeding. Then it was gone.”

Anna, steadier now, walked to the edge of the shore. She could see its blood on the rocks and sand. It was a black-red color, and lots of it.

Darren and the hobbling Picaur came and stood on each side of Anna as they studied the water. Everything was still. Calm. The fog was completely gone and the sun shone brightly.

(Published in Piker Press August 24th, 2009)

The Journey of Rediscovering a Lost Story

Click on the image to access this group's official page

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

 

March IWSG Day Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Over the years, I’ve written several stories (both short and book-length), and for various reasons, I set them to one side never to go back to them.

Time passes…

Voices of one of those abandoned projects begin to cry out to me…

Please tell my story.

Complete me so I can rest in peace.

Finish what you’ve started so that the world may know what happened.

Someone somewhere need to hear this.

Come back to me.

Eventually, I give in.

I have to.

These voices give me no choice; just an ultimatum.

Write, or completely lose my mind.

Or, my soul.

Both are bad in my opinion.

The challenges?

Choosing which one to pick up and continue.

And…

How should this particular story end?

Especially since I may not have set eyes on it for a number of years.  I find that I have to get to know the character(s) all over again (which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing).  I enjoy rediscoveries.  Sometimes I look at a story and ask myself-what was I thinking of when I wrote this?  Was I possibly possessed????

Nah, someone else wrote this one.  Couldn’t be me.

Then slowly, the memories return as well as the excitement.

I pick up the pen, and begin once more.

*To answer the question above…I am currently working on an old story with the hope of one day finding a “home” for it.