Sunday Story: Surrender

Deepwater Horizon – Neatorama

*Warning: has mild language.

 

Ben was resting in bed, perusing a Road & Track magazine, when the first blast shook his quarter.

Damn crane must have dropped another casing, he thought casually and went back to the article.

But, when the second blast reverberated through the rig, he knew something was wrong.

Deadly wrong.

As he pulled on his sneakers and life-jacket, an enormous explosion blew the heavy-duty door off its hinges like it was just a piece of cardboard; only it didn’t feel like cardboard when it smashed against his stocky body instantly knocking him unconscious.

Somewhere in the murkiness, a familiar voice floated to his ears.

“Do you love me?” It was Mia’s, his high school sweetheart. She leaned her petite body against the blue sports car.

He was bent over the 8-cylinder engine, his hands fingering the spark plugs, “Course I do,” he said.

Mia let out a chuckle, “Liar. You love your car way more than me. ‘Sides, my Daddy won’t let me marry you anyway.”

She let out a squeal which strangely morphed into a high pitch ringing.

“Warning,” echoed a female computerize voice, “proceed immediately to the lifeboats. This is not a drill.”

When Ben opened his eyes, at first he thought he’d gone blind but realized the lights were knocked out. Back up on his feet, he steadied his shaking body and assessed the situation.

The white strobe lights faintly flickered through the thick, black mass pouring into his sleeping area. His head throbbed as something warm trickled through his lips.

Blood.

He could feel the entire rig rattling and groaning as one word penetrated the deep fog within his mind.

Blowout.

“Oh, god,” he said.

When he stepped out in the dark corridor, the scent of burning oil nearly overwhelmed him as he bent over to gag and cough.

Got to get to the lifeboat.

The trek to topside was met with twisted steel and thick smoke. Twice he had to seek out a new direction. On his last attempt, the heat was so intense he could hear the soles of his sneakers sizzle with each step.

Sweat streamed down his smoke-grimed face as he quickened his pace up the warped metal stairway. Another voice wormed its way into his head. His father’s. They’d gone fishing at Pilot Pond that last time–just before the fatal heart attack.

“Son, every man needs to decide the kind of road he’ll travel. Whichever one you surrender to will rule you for the rest of your life.”

It was an odd conversation as Dad was never one for offering advice of any kind, it was as if he knew his time was nearly up. Ben hadn’t grasped what the elder meant…until now.

The closer he moved to the surface, the louder the roar and screams grew until he broke through, and entered hell.

Surrounded by towering flames and billowing black smokes. he sought out familiar shapes or bodies. Nothing appeared like it normally should only melting steel structures and burning debris falling from above creating blockades everywhere he turned.

Where’s the damn lifeboat?

His tearing cobalt eyes searched through the hellish scene for the section where a lifeboat should have been. He saw nothing.

As he stood near the edge of the platform, the realization that he’d been left behind coursed through his body as his eyes surveyed what lied below.

“Oh, sweet Mary!” He croaked.

The water was on fire.

Mia’s face filled his mind. Her mesmerizing chocolate eyes, the ones he always lost himself in.

“Why wouldn’t your daddy let you marry me?” He’d asked.

Those eyes narrowed and seemed sad, “He said you’re too much into the things of the world, and that you’d value them over me.”

“He’s wrong,” he replied.

“Liar,” she laughed softly, ” and you know it.”

Another explosion ripped through the rig as the heated blast slammed into his body, and sent him flying in the air. As he landed on the steel landing, he felt all the oxygen whooshed out of his lungs.

Was this how he was going to die? Here, on this fiery rig? In all of his twenty-four years, he’d never truly done anything worthwhile except work on that worthless piece of metal on wheels. His father was right, and so was Mia’s.

Ben wanted to change that.

Grunting loudly, he pulled himself up off the hot steel surface and looked out over the blazing sea.

And jumped.

 

 

*Inspired by the true events that took place on the Deepwater Horizon

 

Monday #FlashFiction: The Suitcase

 

 

*Note: This was taken from a prompt suggested on the DIY MFA website. To retrieve a prompt to ignite a story or poem in your mind click here

Here are what I had to work with:

Character: Night-shift nurse

Situation: Must face his or her worst fear

Prop: Suitcase

 

It was a quiet night as she walked the halls. Most of the patients slept as she carefully checked their monitors and IVs. In one room she paused to study the milky rays as they filtered through the thin curtains covering the wide archaic window. From the 16th floor of the aging building overlooking the city-that-never-sleeps, she could barely hear the sounds of the street life below.

She used to find comfort in these quiet moments but that was before the Suitcase Killer which she barely survived some ten years ago. Her body shuttered as the image of a hand reaching out of the suitcase she’d packed earlier in the day for her red-eye flight home. Other than that, she remembered nothing of the three-day ordeal with the sadistic monster (which her psychologist have labeled “Dissociative Amnesia ” ) but it left her infertile and with a mountain of medical bills.

Over the two-year span, there would be twelve victims before he was caught, tried in court and sentenced to death by lethal injection. The state invited her to witness his demise, but she didn’t attend. She couldn’t bring herself to look at his face again in fear of triggering the traumatic memories. Memories she just as soon forget, forever.

The execution took place two years earlier. With him gone from the earth, she’d thought she’d moved on with her life until she turned to check on the comatose patient.

Setting on top of a chair nearby was a suitcase.

Her breathing hitched and held.

It looked strangely familiar. No, it couldn’t be.

Can’t be.

She had it destroyed in an incinerator immediately after she was discharged from the hospital.

Her head began to spin as the darkness encased her.

Breathe. Don’t forget to breathe as she forced the air to move in and out of her burning lungs.

Her eyes fixated at its brown leather body until they zeroed on a flaw. The same flaw her suitcase possessed. A circular shaped white patch on the upper right corner. They said hers was damaged during the manufacturing process, and because of this, she got a steal of a deal on it.

What were the chances of finding another with the same damage?

Next to nothing?

She wanted to tear her eyes from the bag, but couldn’t. Her feet was rooted to the spot. Her skin felt frozen and yet she was sweating under the white uniform.

Pain radiated through her chest as she tried to slow her hysterical panting, but failing miserably.

The deafening roar in her head blurred  everything around her until the suitcase was all she saw.

Oh god, oh god.

Horrific images pricked somewhere from the deep recess of her mind as they threatened to explode into her conscious.

No, no!

“Nancy?”

The voice sounded so far away at first she’d thought she was imagining it. Then it repeated her name.

Blinking several times to clear the fog that seemed to have enveloped everything, a woman’s form came in view.

“Are you okay?” She was asking, in her hands a tray of carefully measured meds.

Nancy slowly shook her head and returned her attention to the object on the chair, and had to close her eyes for a moment before looking again.

The chair was empty. Void of luggage of any kind.

“Nancy, you’re scaring me,” the younger woman’s voice rose to a higher pitch.

Nancy forced herself to meet the woman’s wide-eyed expression with an unquivering smile, “No worries, Beatrice, he’s not here anymore,” and walked away.

 

Author Interview: David Cedar

 

** This week we have a special guest with us to share about his debut scifi-mystery-thriller novel, Anniversaries.

 

 

Tell us what first drew you to writing. 

I have a creative mind and an Art background and in lieu of expressing myself in paint on canvas (like my father did), I chose the written word.

 

Do you listen to music while you write?  If so, what kind of music? 

Sometimes. If I do, it’s mostly 1960s pop and rock or Classic Rock. And it’s always on in the “background” to keep me company.

 

Who is your favorite author? Why? 

I have read novels in the past but, I mostly read magazine articles, so I don’t have a “favorite author”.

 

Do you have a favorite magazine or two?

I have, in the past, subscribed to two magazines: “Hemmings Classic Car” and “Collectible Automobile”. And have hundreds of back issues. But, I no longer like either publication anymore, I’m sorry to say.

 

You’ve just published a book. Tell us what your book is about. 

ANNIVERSARIES is about Darren Prescott, an ex-drug dealer/pimp who discovers a way to travel back in time to specific events on specific days in his past (and other people’s past too). He plans to parlay this ability into a money making venture, but gets side tracked when he discovers (while Time-Traveling) something horrible his father did years earlier.

 

What inspired you to write this book?

When I was very young (maybe five years old), my mother gave me a slice of Swiss cheese for a snack and as I was about to bite into it, she said, as a joke, “Don’t eat the holes”. Well, I believed everything my mother told me, so when I was finished eating, on my plate were several Swiss cheese “holes” all with bite marks around their perimeters.

This little memory, this quick “snippet” of my life, has stuck with me all these years. And there are dozens and dozens of other “snippets” in my memory bank. One day, I got to thinking that these memories, although insignificant, all have anniversaries. Let’s say that the “Swiss cheese” incident happened on July 10, 1966, that means that every July tenth, it has an anniversary. My novel is loosely based on this concept.

 

You write under a pen name, what prompted you to do this?  Is there a story behind this pen name (on how you came up with it?)?

I decided to use a pen name because, my late father (Albert Swayhoover) was an Artist and his artwork is all over the Internet. If one were to Google “Swayhoover”, the result would be thousands of websites that sell his work. I was concerned that my book and I might get lost among all of that.

The origins of my pen name are: “David” is my middle name and “Cedar” was part of the name of the street in which I grew up, Cedar Point Drive. Then I searched Author names and didn’t find any other David Cedars, so that’s what I went with.

 

Where can we find this book? 

Amazon

 

What are your writing plans for the near future? 

I’m considering a sequel to ANNIVERSARIES. And there are two or three articles on one of my favorite subjects: American Automobile History that I am writing.

 

Where can we find you? 

www.davidcedar-author.com

 

******

 

About the Author:

David Cedar (aka Robert Swayhoover) was born and raised on Long Island, New York. He graduated from Chamberlayne College in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1984 with a degree in Advertising Design. In 1997, he married Patricia Townes-Swayhoover. The couple lived in New York City before relocating to Raleigh, North Carolina in 2003. Writing has always been something David was interested in, but never gave it a try until seven or eight years ago. Besides writing, his interests include: Automobile History and World War II History.

 

Click on image to purchase

 

 

 

 

The Unknown (Micro-Story)

Creepy eye and road-3298889_1280 Pixabay Free Images

Photo Credit: Pixabay Free Images

 

Somewhere down that road, is the unknown.

The heavy mist conceals its true nature.

All I know is that anyone who enters, never comes back.

What lies in there?

My mind races with possibilities.

None of them, good.

Morbid curiosity now getting the best of me.

Without consulting, my feet begin to move…towards it.

The threshold nearing, my heart’s racing.

A part of me doesn’t want to go in there…the words raging in my mind like a siren:

No, no, no!

Yet, there’s this quiet voice, beckoning me on.

Why do you think people don’t return? Perhaps they did NOT want to.

Yes, that must be it.  I want to see what they’re seeing.

I’m standing in front of the murky barrier.  It’s cool breaths radiating over my body.

Just one step, and I’ll be there.

But…

Like a plant, I’m rooted to the spot.

My chest hurts.  My head, throbs.

A hand reaches out as I watch my fingers disappear into the whiteness.

Icy cold as a shiver pulses through me, rattling my teeth.

I close my eyes and a gentle tug on the hand slowly propels me forward.

This is it.  I will soon see what’s on the other side.

I notice the voices are now silent. I should feel relieved.  At peace.

Why don’t I?

My body now completely immerses in the mist, its wetness trickles over the exposed skin.

I hear sounds.  Loud muffled sounds.  They drum through my chest like a separate heart beat.

Music? A thunderous water fall?

My ears popped as if the plugs are pulled and the sounds grow clearer.

Screams.

Not music nor a water fall.

Something’s creeping up my body.  They feel like hot tendrils with claws.

Every outward sound melts in to a deafening silence.

Until…

All I can hear are my own screams.

 


 

Want to see this in a video format?  Click HERE.

 

 

 

 

Writing: Slow Starts

 

Snow came way early this year in my neck of the woods (as shown above).  In fact, here in North Dakota, we went directly from summer to winter.  There was NO fall.   According to the local weatherman, we’re to get an additional 3-6 inches of the white stuff between today and Sunday.

Ugh.

Originally, I’m a northern-climate gal having been born near the border of Quebec, and grew up in the Adirondacks so I’m no stranger to the cold and snow.  However…I spent nearly 15 years in North Carolina before moving up here so my body is still trying to get re-acclimated to the changes.

I’ll get there eventually.  🙂

Whether it’s the sudden changes or getting older (I’ll take the former thank you very much), I’ve been slow getting started with NaNoWriMo this year.

Sitting at 500 words on day 3 kind of slow.

But, at the very least, it’s a start.

I will be working on two writing projects.  One’s projected to be about 7,500 words while the other around 10,000 so most likely I won’t win this year.  That’s okay just as long as I get the drafts of these two completed by November 30.

The 7,500-word novelette is inspired by the TV show, Deadly Women, I binge watched the past several months.  It’ll be a slightly different genre than I’m used to writing, but so far, an enjoyable experience.  I plan to post the synopsis later this month.  My goal for this story is to hopefully either self-publish it, or place it on Channilo.  In the past, majority of the stories I wrote have been horror and/or young-adult with sprinklings of science fiction and fantasy.   This particular story is Suspense/Thriller with some Romance.

Stay tuned.

The second project is a serial fiction I started last year called, The Hidden Realm, which is a fantasy/horror story.

Click on image to start reading it

 

During this month, I plan to finish writing the second half of Part One.   Writing serial fiction is tricky for multiple reasons; one being that it requires long-term commitment to post a new installment in a timely manner until either the story’s completed, or you give up on it.   I’ve written several in the past, and gave up on them all mostly because I either got bored with it, or got stuck on the storyline.  I hope by writing large blocks of the story in a short time and then posting them in small increments will enable me to actually finish this one.

We’ll see.

 

I will post more on both stories throughout the month of November.

 

What about you?  What are you working on this month?

 

 

 

 

Q&A with Author Alison Morton

alison-morton-author-interview

I’m so excited to have a very special guest here with us today: Alison Morton who is the author to the alternative history series called Roma Nova.  Be sure to check out her sites below! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been fascinated by the Romans since I was 11 and that’s a while ago! In between normal life events – earlier career in various sectors, marriage, raising our son, running my own business – I spent many of my vacations clambering over Roman Europe.

These days I live in France with my husband, write thrillers, cultivate a Roman herb garden and drink wine.

What aspects of your life led you to writing the kind of books you write?

I have a masters’ in history, six years’ military service and I love a good thriller.  And I’ve always believed that a woman could run things as well as any man.

After the novel writing bug was triggered by a terrible film, all these came together and resulted in the Roma Nova thriller series.

What’s your favorite part about being a writer?

Two things: firstly, the research and the way you become diverted into looking up stuff totally unrelated to your work in progress and secondly, receiving an email or review from a reader who totally gets what you are trying to say in your books.

alison-morton-in-rome

Tell us more about your books.

They’re adventure thrillers set in a modern Roman society run by strong women (Roma Nova). Of course, our heroines are fallible and of course they have strong love interests, but it’s the women who lead the action and call the shots. While the books are thrillers, there are no dripping body parts. 

The first one, INCEPTIO, starts in New York when an ordinary girl, Karen Brown, is hunted by a government enforcer. But in steps an attractive Roma Novan spy who helps her escape. But Karen finds it isn’t just gratitude she feels towards him.

She discovers her Roma Nova heritage and her true name. Her new life in Roma Nova is shattered a few months later when the government enforcer crosses the Atlantic and comes after her. He has a very personal reason to pursue her …

inceptio-book-by-alison-morton

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just sent the sixth book in the series to the copy editor and that will be out this April. Now I’m developing a novella, also set in Roma Nova.

How do you get into the minds of your characters?

I close my eyes and let them have conversations with each other. And sometimes I let them run around in my head acting out scenes. It’s important to establish each character’s separate personality from the start. Many people find it helpful to write out character profiles. Stories, whatever their setting and purpose, are all about people in the end.

What’s your favorite traveling destination?  Any place you haven’t visited and would love to?

Rome is my absolute favourite – impressive in so many ways.

In 2015, we visited the US and Canada for seven weeks seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Washington DC, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Beverly Hills, New York, Chicago, Niagara Falls, Quebec and a lot else! Last year I did ten trips to the UK to speak at events as well as two here in France. In March I’m off to the London Book Fair and then to Dublin, Ireland to speak in June. That’s plenty of travel at present!

What do you see in the future for women in general?

I think we’ll keep nudging towards a more egalitarian world, but there’s a long way to go. We must continue to stand up for a truly equal place in the world and chisel away at ingrained and subconscious acceptance of stereotypes that surround us.

Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?

If you’re a writer keep writing and be persistent. Make your work the best it can be – no compromise! If you’re a reader, the best thing you can do when you read a wonderful book is to leave a review.

Social media links

Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova site

Facebook author page

Twitter:  @alison-morton

Goodreads

Alison’s Amazon page

alison-morton-books

Plot vs. Characters by John Avery

I’m excited to have John Avery here with us this week as he presents his thoughts about our current discussion surrounding plot and characters.  book

Which is more important to a good story, characters or plot?

Aspiring writers often ask me this question and it’s tough providing a straight answer. It’s easy to say that if the characters in your story are flat, the greatest plot in the world will leave your readers flat, as well; but in order to have a good story, the characters need something interesting to do, get in trouble with, or at least talk about, which requires an interesting plot. It’s one of those ‘chicken or the egg’, catch-22 things. A good story is really a combination of good characters and a good plot. Leave one out at your peril.

But which is more important? Characters or plot?

I’ve written stories where I’ve spent months working on the career-defining plot, only to realize that, oops, I’d neglected to fully develop my characters — and that never ends well. Certainly I try to begin with a great story idea, and perhaps an outline of that idea, but like a good film director, once I start working I focus on my characters, letting them help me with the story as it moves along. They know more about themselves and where the story should go than I do, so why not enlist their help? As those of you who’ve experienced this know, when it’s working, and your characters are jumping off the page just to see what happens next, it’s thrilling, and a lot of fun, and when you manage to pull it all together at the end, you have yourself a good story. But like bad actors, characters who don’t give a crap, who couldn’t care less about themselves or their feelings, and who don’t react to who and what’s happening around them, doom your project to failure. Don’t waste months. That plot scribbled on a napkin by Stephen King at your high-school reunion won’t save you. Swallow your pride and move on.

Some of the most popular stories ever written have the simplest of plots: for example, Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”, Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum”, and Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”, or the classic films, Alien, The Big Chill, and even Home Alone — simple plots with fascinating characters resulting in unforgettable stories. On the other hand, we’ve all read books and seen movies with interesting, action-packed, potentially thrilling plots that were cut off at the knees by boring, even annoying characters (my apologies to Jar Jar Binks fans). These stories are unforgettable, too, but not in a good way.

As writers we should always strive to achieve the perfect blend of characters and plot, as Larry McMurtry did in his epic, Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece, Lonesome Dove; but when that’s not in the cards, I give the nod to my characters.

Have any questions, thoughts, anything you’d like to add for John?  Fire away in the comment section below!

“I’m a thriller writer who loves to write stories that force good people into terrifying situations – just to see how they react.” John Avery, Amazon International Bestselling Author of THREE DAYS TO DIE.  Official website: John Avery BooksAvery Book

//

 

G. J. Owens will be here next week so be sure to stop by!