June 2020 WEP Contest piece

With the Urban Nightmare chosen for June’s Write…Edit…Publish…challenge, I had a few different ideas. Before realizing I could alter the un-submitted piece from February’s challenge, to fit the current theme. Deriving inspiration out of fiction and reality alike. Employing a fictional version of a notorious late 19th century serial killer, Jack the Ripper. Combining that with elements of Gothic fiction, and a hodge-podge mix of mythology to craft a monster that stalks the cobblestone streets and alleys of Whitechapel. Inadvertently giving rise an age old question, which inspired the title for this entry. I humbly present, Man or Monster?

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The sudden creak of the door behind being pushed open revealed my guest had surprisingly agreed to this unusual evening meeting. In silence, I waited for him to take the seat to my left. While I waited, I took advantage of the opportunity to pour two glasses of whiskey from a nearby bottle. I let him seize one of the pewter glasses, allowing him a moment to gather the doubts and questions that filled his mind since my letter was delivered.

Watching him swallow some liquor before commenting, “I most admit your letter gave me a start if your claim of identity isn’t a falsehood. Your chosen spot for this meeting is a strange, perplexing, curiosity.”

I remarked, “You speak true, on both accounts, Cheif Constable Redding. I am indeed the man the newspapers have dubbed Jack the Ripper. Yet, I would not be so quick to summon your fellow officers that lurk inside this bordello,” taking a moment to alter my mask to partake a subtle sip of this spirituous liquid. “I have studied your history enough to know that you pursue the truth, even if that answer is impossible. That inquisitive nature has bequeathed you a peculiar air, given your impressive rank. I press upon a startling revelation that those I have butchered carry a deadly gift besides possessing potent feminine charms and striking beauty. A troublesome and dangerous gift that burdens them with an insatiable lust for blood.”

Constable Redding commented, “The mortician did find some abnormalities that were left undocumented. Despite the focus the papers have on your murders, there have been additional deaths of an even more unusual nature. Oddly enough, they have decreased some since the demise of Mary Nichlos. Supposes I believe that your killings have some unforeseen benefits to the citizenry at large, proving that to others would be troublesome, neigh impossible affair. I should place you in shackles, to ensure that the murders of alley girls cease. Yet, I will grant you one to chance to offer proof of something paranormal stalking the cobblestone streets.”

I had to repress a manic grin at the constable’s expected response. “Then let us meet again at the catacombs of St. Mary’s church just before sunset,” emptying my cup and placing it beside the bottle. “I would suggest you come prepared with the blade you carried in your youth while serving the empire. What the two of us will hunt is an entity born without mercy. Till then, Constable Redding,” parting myself from the lawmen’s company, to finish the necessary preparations.

*****

Dusk had barely past over this sacred place by the time Constable Redding arrived alone. The pale glow was emitting from a lantern casting out a soft orange hue, revealing the handle of a sheathed saber at his left hip. Suppressing a smile, I lit a second lantern with a swift strike of a matchhead. I placed the aflame torch on a weathered tombstone to reveal an almost undetectable trail of dried blood speckled amongst the dirt and stone. The stone path leads to a broad set of doors decorated with religious symbols, rust, and additional dried blood. A pungent stench of decay and ammonia poured out from within the narrow crack between the two doors. Using my right hand, I adjusted my temporary facial covering to mask the rancid odor.

I commented, “You’re auspiciously late constable. However, fortune smiles upon us as this monstrosity remains inside its crypt,” hearing a sudden, short, inhuman growl fill the air. “Prepare yourself without delay. It has awakened,” quickly unsheathing the pair of kukris resting at my hips.

Observing something burst forth from inside, nearly removing the doors from their hinges. This entity refused to spare me a glance, charging immediately at the constable. By divine grace, the lawman managed to raise his blade to parry the creatures menacing black talons. I took advantage of the monster’s distraction to sprint forward. Observing how fluidly this abomination moved, it’s pale skin somehow reflecting the moonlight. Close enough to strike at the creature, I sliced horizontally at the demon’s left thigh. In response, it howled out, ignoring the viscous black substance that was flowing down its leg. Constable Redding took swift advantage of its exposed chest, cutting a large, horizontal wound across its lower abdomen. The monster swatted the lawmen with the back of its left hand, forcing him off his feet. The beast altered its focus to me and began to stare at with hollow, burning red eyes. It was opening its jaw to reveal two rows of sharpened teeth before running towards me. Somehow oblivious of the blackened blood escaping the large wound on his chest. Bracing to defend myself, I raised my curved daggers, hoping my crusade would not end here.

Suddenly a deafening cracking sound brought the creature to a complete stop. Only then did I smell the distinctive odor of gunpowder hanging in the air. The loud noise repeated itself in quick succession, enhancing the scent of powder that clung to the atmosphere. I approached the creature keeping an attentive gaze for any sudden moves, taking note of the three circular wounds on the creature’s left breast. One, or perhaps all of the bullets must have pierced the monster’s heart. In its final moment, the beast released a thunderous roar, before falling to the ground.

Stepping around the fallen demon, I walked towards the constable. Taking immediate notice of the smoking revolver clutched in both hands.

Constable Redding asked, “Is that paranormal monstrosity the end of the strange deaths, and your killings?”

I replied, “Perhaps lawmen. Have the mortician burn the body, before rumors of its appearance can spread further. Only time will tell if this nightmare is truly over, or if its the beginning of something far more horrifying,” departing the constable’s company. Hoping that this was indeed the end, for I have more than quenched my thirst for death.


Word Count: 987 Critique level: Full

WEP April 2020 Challenge

Reluctantly I missed the February, as a result of having considerable sinus problems. Fulfilling a promise I made to myself to return for the April challenge. Having some initial trouble with “Antique Vase” theme, before realizing I was over-complicating the idea. Realizing I could use the vase idea as an element of the narrative, and build a story around how it could be used. Coming up with a few different ideas before settling with the tale below. A tale I call, “A Rite of Rebirth.”

Writer’s note: A golok is a type of machete used on tropical islands in the Indian Ocean.


On a moonless, humid evening, I peered into the ancestral grove of my family. Purple, oval petaled moon-flowers blossomed on moss-covered rocks. A shallow structure of stone and plant held in place three linked pits of collected rain-water. Even the stars refused to bloom in the overhead sky. I hoped that was not an unfortunate omen that would shadow over the rite I had to perform tonight, on the eve of my sixteenth year. Only on that particular evening could this powerful ritual of rebirth and cleansing be performed.

Using my family’s ceremonial golok, I pushed aside a series of broad, ovular leaves. I left the ancient metal blade in place while taking my first step onto the sacred ground. Hearing the leaves return to their position, the moment I relocated the golok to my side. A strange mixture of fear and excitement rushed through my body. Taking another step towards the pits of water, I began to feel an unexpected warmth at the center of my back. The heat somehow being focused around an old clay vase, I had strapped to my back. Removing the ancient urn from my shoulders with the utmost care, I began to prepare every facet of myself to undergo this transformative ritual.

I allowed several moments to pass by, before stepping into the first pit of blessed water. The liquid began to ripple outward at the unwelcome presence of my feet. To my astonishment, the water retained a sense of warmth that defied anything I believed possible without a living flame resting underneath it. Listening to the natural symphony of jungle bugs, I placed my family’s urn inside the water. The clay was softening while the liquid flowed into the vase’s interior.

Patiently, I let it fill approximately half-way, before lifting it out of the water. The music of the jungle falling silent, being replaced by an eerie barrage of distorted whispers. Struggling to ignore the voices, I lifted the antique vessel over my head. Confident I could maintain the urn’s position, I began to tilt the vase. The contents were slowly trickling down my face and proceeding across the rest of my being. My meager garments absorbing a small amount of the water, yet a chill didn’t rush over my body. Nor did my strength falter in the lengthy process of emptying my family’s ancient urn. Returning the jar to my side, I entered the next deposit of sacred water. A tremor rushed up the entirety of my body, the moment my foot hit the collected water. The sensation was something I struggled to understand what changed the water from the first pit to the second. Aware that I wouldn’t be welcomed back to my village without completing the ritual, I persevered.

Balancing out my standing position before, I began to refill the old clay pot. Fearing being banished from my home, I let the cold water rush between my fingers, forcing my fingers to tighten their grip on jar’s weathered smooth surface. The tremors continued to push themselves forcibly through my body; to a point, it almost shattered my concentration and my family’s sacred vase. Hoping I had collected enough of the holy water, I carefully and slowly lifted the container. Feeling my fingers begin to loosen up, the very moment I removed from the liquid. I began to take a few deep breaths, believing it would steady my body long enough to empty the jar. I could feel my nerves strengthen, and the eerie shakes leave my body. More than eager to begin the third and final part of the ritual, I spilled the vase’s contents over my body. The water clung to my skin and garments, forcing my hair to blind my eyes temporarily.

With my clothes and skin now cleansed by the blessed liquid, I stepped into the last deposit of collected water. Howling-out in surprise, at the water’s scorching warmth. Any remaining shakes, vanished instantly, being replaced by heat more potent than the sun itself. Aware of how my damp fingers stuck to the vase, I dipped them cautiously inside the sacred fluid. I had to fight back an urge to scream out in pain, as the blessed water entered the jar’s interior. The heat of the liquid, pushing itself outward through the vase’s surface, almost burning the tips of my fingers. Believing I could not endure this pain much longer, I began to elevate the jar over my head. My muscles were screaming out, inside my head, making every movement agony. Confident, the tepid vase was resting over my head, beginning to empty it over my person. I managed to withstand the blistering heat long enough to drain the holy water over my being. The sacred liquids were blending with the remains of the previous two pools and enveloping my entire being in an unexplainable embrace. A penetrative sensation that burned through my clothes and skin until it reached the depths of my soul.

Only then did I observe a single speck of intense ethereal blue figure inside my mind. In a disjointed but collective whisper, it said, “Your rebirth is complete my child. Return to my people, son,” the lone spot of disappearing immediately afterward.

Stepping out from the sacred pools, I began to strap my family’s ancient jar to my back once more. Leaving the holy grove behind, feeling I had left my youth behind and was returning home a man born anew.


Word Count: 908 Critique level: Comment Only

WEP December 2019 “Footprints” challenge piece

The “footprints” theme for this challenge proved more difficult than I originally thought it would be. Initially, I considered writing a narrative focused on the pursuit of a dangerous monster into the ancient woods it calls home. Telling the tale from the perspective of hunter, as he tracks the creature using the impressions left behind in the snow. Which after I wrote the introduction paragraphs, I realized that it wasn’t a feasible option despite how it catered to the theme. Building on that idea, I pondered transforming it into the story of serial killer fleeing the police. Unfortunately, I ran into the same problems as the previous idea.

Erasing the metaphorical idea board, I starred at blank page uninspired. Managing to discover an idea from a place I overlooked without much thought. My imagination channeling my love of Punk Rock, and its ideologies into something I could shape to fit the theme. Taking inspiration from the songs of various bands and musicians including Beans on Toast, Chuck Ragan, Against Me, Frank Turner, and many more. Telling a tale of a musician who lives on the road and on the stage, acting as a pilgrim of music. Along with taking slight lyrical insight from Frank Turner’s song The Road, which can be listened to below. Underneath that, I humbly present the tale I titled, A Pilgrim of Punk.

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A Pilgrim of Punk

The rain bombarded the bus window, creating a faint melody with each drop that landed against the tinted glass. In silence, I watched from my seat at the passing of the blurred city-scape. Noticing how close we were to the town, I removed my earbuds before casually placing them into my jacket pocket. The screen of my phone brightening as a reaction, allowing me a moment to see it was just past three a.m. Rubbing my thumb and forefinger over my eyes, I glanced around the sparsely full overnight bus. My six fellow passengers strangers following their invisible roads of fate on this gloomy night. All of us would soon depart this bus, leaving behind a ghost of our current selves.

Just before dawn, the Uber pulled into the familiar motel parking lot. The driver popped the trunk before, stepping out to unload the single, worn suitcase that accompanied me when I traveled. In silence, I exited the vehicle with my time-tested guitar bag in hand. I thanked the driver for his assistance in unloading my luggage. I wrapped my hand around the short handle of my duffle bag before, making my way towards the hotel’s front desk after walking through the set of automatic doors. Sitting behind the hotel counter was well-dressed women in a dark red blazer, with the miniaturized version of the hotel logo on the left breast pocket.

She stared up at me through wireframe glasses, asking, “Can I help you, sir?”

I responded, “I’m here to check-in to my room. The reservation is under the name Skibba.”

She nodded and typed the name into the computer that rested in front of her. The blue light from the screen was reflecting into her glasses, casting a brief silence between the two of us. A short ding erupted from unseen speakers, likely built into the monitor.

She said, “I found your reservation, sir,” digging something out from within the desk, handing me an unsealed vanilla envelope, with a few pieces of laminated papers protruding from it. “You are in room number 212. Take the stairs to your left and then turn right. Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?”

I responded, “That should be all for now,” grabbing the envelope and tucking it inside my empty jacket pocket.

The woman nodded, dismissing me with a simple gesture. I walked away before heading up the split-level staircase, following her unneeded directions. I traced the footprints of memory, while I made my way towards my room for some much-needed sleep.

*****

Squashing the dying remains of a cigarette under my boot backstage, a habitual ritual I performed every time before, stepping onto that evening’s stage. I starred out at the audience, aware that I was retracing the footprints of a forgone youth. Grabbing the microphone, I said, “This isn’t the first time I have played this familiar stage,” strumming softly on my guitar. “I see some familiar faces, and some unfamiliar faces here tonight. Hopefully, all you enjoy have enjoyed this evening so far and will continue to,” starting to play the intro for Shackles and putting every fiber of emotion into the song, belting out the lyrics.

I refuse to imprison myself in your shackles.

Instead, I choose to follow my own path traveling the road to unknown places.

Playing overcrowded pubs and undersold stages alike, tracing footsteps that aren’t my own.

Having drinks with strangers in dive bars the world over, understanding that living on the road was the key to my freedom.

Creating new paths in cities familiar and mysterious, traveling the road a pilgrim of music all my own.

Watching the crowd near the stage start to stir, jump, scream, mosh, and dance around, creating a simple, primitive display of musical jubilance. In my several hundred, if not thousands of times playing this song, the meaning of the tune had transformed over time. When I wrote the lyrics for the first time, it was about the horrible terms of the unfair contract and how the legality of it controlled my art and life. Now, it represented something more than that, standing for the roller-coaster, nomadic lifestyle of a musician. I continued to play, moving my fingers about the nickel-plated strings of my guitar without a thought. The individual strings of my guitar acting like an old friend that brought me a constant stream of pleasure and pain. Each chord I played a cathartic release of raw emotion, that metaphorically left me exposed to the world. Yet, I found myself reinvigorated by the relentless energy of the frenzied crowd. That ethereal sustenance a spring of strength I used to perform each night.

Watching the energy of the crowd wax and wane throughout my two-hour set and short encore. My callused fingers playing the last few chords, while the stage lights began to dim, the speakers echoing out the final note of the evening to an exhausted audience. I was carrying my guitar backstage, walking along a well-traveled invisible path. Ready to create more footprints on the endless road that was my lover and life-long friend.

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Word Count: 853 Critique level: Full

WEP August 2019 entry piece

I struggled with the theme for this month’s contest/challenge. The “Red Wheelbarrow,” wasn’t something that was particularly inspiring to me. Stalling my creative energies for a few days, attempting to craft something that was centralized around the theme. Initially, coming up with the idea of a farmhand who is uncaught serial killer, who uses a red wheelbarrow to dispose of his victims. Realizing rather quickly, that I would break the word limit, or be forced to craft an unsatisfying ending. Taking the dark, violent atmosphere from that idea and shifting gears some to something grim and apocalyptic. Mixing it with some other elements of that story to create a piece of flash fiction, I titled Stained Red.

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My father’s old black wheelbarrow was no longer the farm tool it once was. For years it had been filled various types of vegetables, hay, and manure. Now it was an instrument of horrible design, used to hull the corpses of those inflicted with a horrific virus. The infected were willing participants of experimental surgeries, that left bodies a mash of experimental surgical incisions. Even wrapped in thin black garbage bags, the cadavers leaked their bodily fluids pooling on the plastic shell. They were unintentionally leaving behind growing spots of dried blood that left sizeable spots of red on the black casing. With each hull of corpses, the patches of dried blood grew in both quantity and size. With one swift, strong lift, I deposited the bodies in the snow-covered trench. Hearing the snow crackle under the combined weight of the corpses. The almost endless winter was doing its best to hinder the decomposing process and the accompanying animals that fed on them.

The distinct sound of approaching footfalls audible in this frozen hellscape. Balancing out the old wheelbarrow on its small tire and rusting iron supports, before turning around. Their face obscured by wrap-around trapper hat, that revealed only their goggle covered eyes. Only a few of the scientists remaining here were bold enough to look upon the remnants of their failed research. A bright red cylindrical metal gas can visible in their right hand gripped between the fingers of heavy-duty black gloves. The figure was taking a stand a few steps away on my left side. Making a slight glance over at me in silence, that only served to amplify the empty tension between the two of us.

“Burn them,” the figure said, their voice being gargled and muffled to a point those were the only two words I understood. Setting the gas can onto the ground before walking away, leaving me to do the dirty work.

I was sighing some in annoyance, creating a small cloud of exhaled breath that was visible in the air. The distinct smell of petrol immediately hitting my nose while I lifted the gas can by the cold steel handle. My other hand was angling the gas-can to begin pouring the contents of the gas-can onto the trench while holding in a deep breath. I was doing my best not to inhale the fumes, listening to the gasoline weaving its way through the mass of wrapped cadavers. The noise was conjuring up memories of the babbling brooks and streams from my youth, creating vivid images of my father using the wheelbarrow to haul bushels of hay across the field. I could feel the smile spreading across my face at the thought.

The distinct aroma of gasoline whiffing itself into my nose shattering the picturesque memory, and forcing me to return to this grim reality. Hurling the empty fuel cannister across the trench, before taking one last look upon the covered up cadavers. Pondering some pseudo-religious sounding words to say aloud, that would act as improvised final rites for them regardless of their faith. I was fully aware the words would fall on deaf ears, but some things are sacred and traditional. Not wanting my words to become muffled, I pulled my facial covering down with three fingers. With one swift pull, I yanked the fabric down to my neck, enjoying the refreshing feeling of cold air rush over my unshaven face.

“No one asked for this plague to spread across this land, let alone be an unfortunate victim of the accompanying sickness. Your noble sacrifice in pursuing a cure for all of humanity will be etched into history for all to remember. Anything you left behind for your loved ones will be given to them when the time is right. God rest your souls, and may he have mercy on the survivors,” I said.

I turned and grabbed my father’s old wheelbarrow, now stained red with dried blood. Grabbing the warped wooden handles with one hand apiece, before, going a few short, quick pushes. Knowing this would have to be a quick goodbye to my father’s now bloodstained red wheelbarrow, and forcing the farm tool into the trench. Feeling some regret about destroying something my father bequeathed me, but understanding it was a bitter necessity of containing this infection. With only a few of us left untainted by the virus, it was only a matter of time before the search for a cure ended.

Taking an old, cheap, butane lighter out of my pocket, I rolled the spark wheel with care, having to repeat the motion a few times before, getting a small flame to appear. With the lighter now aflame, I hurled lighter into the trench, keeping a close eye on where it landed. Mere moments later, the corpses were beginning to burn. Watching some in awe, believing I had given a proper sendoff to my father’s now red wheelbarrow, and the dead. Turning around and beginning to stroll forward, doing my best to push the trickle of tears away. Becoming increasingly aware with each step I took, that this was indeed the end of the world.

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Word count: 856 Critique Level: Full

WEP June Challenge 2019 Entry

Being considerably occupied with Z Publishing House pieces when last months challenge was going on, I choose not to participate in the April challenge to concentrate my creative energies on those pieces. Knowing I would return for the June challenge instead.

With the challenging theme for this month being “Caged Bird,” I realized I could interrupt that in either a metaphorical way, a literal way, or a combination of them. That being stated, I quickly disregarded my first thought of doing a Faustian style story where the demon acts as the bird. Switching gears to something more imaginative and partly inspired by love of old fashioned science fiction, where unexplored alien worlds are common. Modifying that idea with some more modern thinking shaped by problems like climate change and resource depletion. Crafting a piece of flash fiction I hope you enjoy, titled Hope’s Fragility.


Looking through this self-tinting glass screen, I looked out at this alien landscape. Strange double helix looking trees covered in magenta colored bark, and having deep purple ellipse shaped leaves rested on the western horizon. Their roots obscured by layers of a pale tan soil, that darkened in color as it descended the ragged broken-toothed cliff. Breaking black waves from the adjacent dark sea bombarded the base of the cliff.

I was beginning to slowly stagger forward with caution, attempting to get a sense of any injuries from my forced crash landing on XR-ELP8. The probes I had been sent to retrieve indicated this celestial body had the potential for successful terraforming barring there was a vacancy of sentient, intelligent life. Any proven signs of civilization would cause an uproar in the media if we attempted terraforming in complete disregards to them. While only a few truly understand how our home, had slowly transformed into a rotting cage of increasingly toxic air, corporate control, and rapidly depleting resources.

I was ceasing to move when a high-pitched wail filled my airtight helmet. The noise was immediately drawing my attention to the flexible computer on my right arm that displayed the data it was processing from the endless array of sensors built into my spacesuit. Looking down at the dark screen, I saw that my less than smooth landing had torn three holes in my suit. I was cursing under my breath at my astounding ill fortune, quickly trying to repressurize my spacesuit. Knowing how important it was to maintain a constant internal equilibrium to minimize any changes my body would go through as I adapted between various shifts in gravity in my journey throughout the cosmos.

I managed to temporarily stabilize my suit before heading towards the wreckage of my ship. Stumbling forward into the smoldering crater hoping I had bought enough time to salvage the communication system and send an SOS signal back home. Gravity forcing me to slide downward for a few seconds before I forcibly stopped myself by placing my hands outward. Emitting a brief grunt between my teeth in my pain, as I stood up, stepping over a few pieces of blackened metal alloy plates that slashed through the foreign soil leaving tiny grooves behind.

Feeling briefly grateful when I noticed that the communication panel was still fully intact, and appeared to be in working order. With all the strange circumstances behind the crash, fortune had given me some leeway, giving me some chance I had a way home. Carefully stepping into my seat before connecting my suit’s computer into the ship’s mainframe and running a quick diagnostic to confirm that communications were still operational. Forced to wait in tense silence for a few minutes, thoughts of desperation, panic, and the chance this mission had become suicidal raced through my head. Hearing the steady pulse of my heartbeat begin to accelerate, thumping away in my head like a thousand bass drums being played at four hundred beats a second. Forcing a seemingly infinite amount to pump through my skin and soak my face and armpits.

What felt like a few hours passed but, it was likely it was only a few minutes before three short beeps emitted from the ship’s small onboard speaker. Taking multiple breathes before I looked down at the screen of my suit’s computer. It seems my worst, darkest nightmare had quickly overtaken and consumed any optimism I had left, filling me with a depressing sense of dread. With the primary communication antenna missing and presumed to be in an unknown distant location, I resigned to myself to a grim fate. My protective spacesuit was quickly transforming itself into a doomed cage of nylon, spandex, and synthetic polymers. The high-pitched wailing returning indicating I had inadvertently created more tears in the outer layer of suit. Compromising it beyond any repairs, I could do without proper assistance.

It left this mission that once gave hope to a dying world, into a task that could cost humanity its future. This planet was becoming one elaborate reluctant cage for an Earth-man who only wanted to serve the world. That was my last thought as this alien world fell dark around me.

Critique level: Full Word Count: 705

A long delayed update

It has taken me longer than I would have liked to create, edit, and publish another post on my various social media pages that are linked to my WordPress sites. The main reason for it is because I’m growing to favor writing the old-fashioned way, by hand. Which seems to increase my productivity overall, even with me splitting my creative energies between multiple projects and ideas. Even though digitizing them is taking longer than I would have preferred.

In addition to that, I’m also working on expanding the ideas I prefer to work on digitally since they are in one of two states of existence. The first state is the idea is still developing and thus is a waste of paper until it passes that point. While the second state is the story started digitally and has expanded past the point where it would effective for me to transfer it a notebook and write it to a point of completion. Why they tend to lean towards either extremes is something I do not know, and would prefer not to think about.

A news update

This year seems to be flying by for me, even if I’m not particularity sure why. However, I do have some news to share with my social media followers.

The first item of news being my award for the WEP writing contest for last month. To my surprise I managed to win the award for most comments, and I would like to thank Denise, Laura, Nilanjana, and Olga for that. Along with thanking everyone who read, commented, and critiqued my entry for the contest. Which for any new followers can be read by clicking the link here: https://christopherscottauthor.wordpress.com/2019/02/18/wep-february-2018-contest-entry/

Secondly, I have been asked to submit pieces again for the Z Publishing House anthology for 2019. With the submission deadline for my state coming up in a month, it will likely be a main focus of my creative mind. Given the increased 5000 word limit for this year, I doubt I will have time to write much else. Wish me luck.

The tease of a blank page, and unfinished ideas

I doubt I’m the only writer who feels the blank page is often a tease for the creative mind. The empty page poking, prodding, and challenging the imagination for a reaction, almost begging to write on. Yet, the responses to all that probing seem to be split between turning the creative juices on, or deeper into a state of dormancy. In some ways, the probing is the equivalent of fencing for the mind. 

For some that dormant state is one of their worsts fears. While for others, the is one often overlooked fear, that of an unfinished idea. Usually, ideas that appear and disappear with all the ease of lighting a candle. While the potential of the rough ideas could be argued at an almost indefinite length. Should one attempt to relight the inspirational candle of the concept, hoping, the original inspiration will come back or is it better to move on. I’m curious to know what my fellow creatives think about that. Is returning to the idea a worthwhile use of time, or is it better to toss the idea away?

A possible prologue to something more….?

“Remember my young apprentice we strive to keep ourselves balanced. There cannot be light without darkness, life without death. Let others close their minds and align themselves towards something they do not fully understand,” closing the polished antique silver lid on the meditative brazier, before resuming “Awaken my apprentice, it is time to end your mediation.”

Watching my apprentice slowly awaken as the mind-altering smoke faded from the room. Allowing his body to begin purging the gas’ effects from his conscious. The mediation ritual was the second part of his studies that forcibly opened the mind’s true potential. Feeling the sheer power coming from my pupil at this distance even as walked across the ancient stone chamber. The strength I had felt from him when I discovered him in a partially burned down farmer’s shack had grown.

Wide hazel eyes looked up at me as I approached, the gas still having a slight effect on him. Staring at me in silence, hopefully adjusting quick enough to begin practicing some of the more straightforward lessons I have taught him. If what I noticed on my travels through the world grows, the balance will collapse. Leading to something ancient and remembered only in myths to awaken from its forced slumber. Making my innermost fears come true, the few who recalled the forgotten truths would need all the strength they could muster.

WEP 2018 December Contest

With the contest theme being Ribbons and Candles for the final challenge of the year, I wasn’t confident about what I wanted to do.  I considered doing a Victorian-inspired holiday celebration with a steam-punk aesthetic. Upon researching some Christmas/Yuletide traditions from the time, I realized it may not have been the best idea to attempt with this particular theme. Clearing the slate so to speak, I also consider doing a small town inspired Christmas through the eyes of a time traveler.  Which I thought would work well but after six-hundred words realized ending the idea without revealing the main character’s secret was impractical. There were just too many questions left unanswered for the ending to feel complete.  Trying to find something that would work within the festive theme,  I stopped thinking about the idea for a couple of days. 

Somehow that managed to shake an idea from my head. Using the 1920’s to imagine a world where jazz filled the airwaves, and the mob ruled entire cities. With that atmosphere in mind, I considered a few ideas before settling on the idea that would become my contest entry which I present below. 


The winter chill had filled the air the snow by the time I entered the speakeasy. Mr. Domino had renovated the place since my last visit. Art Deco laminate tile ran through the entire floor, giving it a hexagonal black and white pattern that reminded me of a piano. Vaulted stone painted white decorated the ceiling. Brass chandeliers hung by silver steel chains were dropped from the ceiling. Bright red and blue ribbons hung across the bottom of every light. The strong scent of tobacco and homemade moonshine filled the air. Brass-heavy jazz was playing from some unseen musicians intertwined with the aromas. Several young flappers were dancing to the music with their fellas.

Weaving my way through the crowd of dancers, I made my way to the bar. A burly bartender in a tailored three-piece grey suit stood behind the bar. Slicked back greasy black hair stopped at the man’s ear, adding to his clean-shaven face. Deep brown eyes watched the dancers for a few moments before glancing at me.

Asking me “Watcha drinkin tonight,” while his gaze hinted a silent message; either get your drink or leave.

Glancing around at the few other patrons who were standing at the bar, before responding “A Manhattan but first a message for the owner. Tell him Mr. Keys has arrived, he will know who I am.”

The bartender nodded before going to make my drink. My suspicious nature was forcing me to glance around. Looking for associates of the man I was looking forward to seeing. The iron in my pocket was feeling heavy as several men in all black tailored suits began approaching me. A gold domino lapel pin rested on the right side of the jacket of the suit. Black fedoras were tilted just enough to obscure their faces from view. Tommy guns with wooden stocks pressed against their shoulders.

I asked, “Escorting me to see Mr. Domino gentlemen?”

The men nodded in unison before directing the black barrels of their Tommy Guns up. I have enough odd jobs to know what that meant. Giving me little time to stand up before beginning to walk away. Raising myself from the stool, I followed them ignoring the chaos of dancers moving to the music.

The music had grown steadily quieter by the time Mr. Domino’s goons led me his office. They motioned for me to enter the door before taking a watching spot by the door. Finding Mr. Domino was waiting for me, tapping a cigarette between his thumb and forefinger of his right hand. A polished silver Colt M1911A1 was resting on his antique wooden desk, within arms reach if necessary.

Mr. Domino asked, “Is the deed done Mr. Keys?”

I nodded, before producing a vanilla envelope from my pocket. Placing the container down by the gun, knowing the envelope’s contents would sway Mr. Domino’s immeasurable appreciation. Mr. Domino spilled the envelope’s content onto his desk. Ten severed ring fingers rolled onto his office, with their gold rings still attached. Each finger belonged to Mr. Domino’s competition.

Mr. Domino began to grin before commenting, “You have done well, Mr. Keys. These rings will make fantastic trophies for me to inspire fear from anyone else foolish enough to challenge me. As much as I would prefer to keep you around, I’m not foolish enough to cross my sister,” opening his desk and pulling out a small cloth bag. “Take this and my blessing to marry my sister,” standing and grabbing me the collar of my shirt. “Break her heart, and I will break you,” letting go of my collar.

“I know,” grabbing the cloth bag as I remarked.

Mr. Domino nodded once, before allowing me to leave his office. Shoving the money bag inside my pocket, trying my best to hide it from everyone. This money was my way of starting something new with my beloved Margaret. She knew the full extent of my past and didn’t care. Hoping between my reputation and her being the sister of Mr. Domino would be enough to scare any enemies away.

*****

A few hours later I arrived at Margaret’s house, the bag still hidden inside my pocket. She opened the door with a smile before I could knock. Leading me to her kitchen table, where a vibrant red unlit candle sat on a silver tray. A box of matches rested beside it, two of them poking out of it.

Margaret commented “Let’s light this candle and begin our new life together,” handing me a match with a smile spread across her face.

Smiling as I took the match, more than ready to start our new life together.


Word count: 774 Critique level: Full