Author Archive: MShades

I'm a teacher and a writer living in Osaka, Japan, and will be doing this project concurrently with my NaNoWriMo project.

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#25 – Savanna and Ari Langhorn

| November 28, 2011 | 0 Comments

The Langhorns are a young couple, reasonably successful for their age, who just bought a new house. It’s the dream of their generation, and they were happy to finally have that part of the American dream that came with home-ownership.

The only caveat is that the house was the one owned by notorious serial killer Willie Heckle. Heckle’s crimes were heinous – fourteen boys tortured and murdered over the span of a decade. It’s said that the cop was so horrified by what he saw that he put a bullet in the kid’s head right before he put one in his own.

But such things didn’t bother a modern and progressive couple like the Langhorns. They knew there were no such things as ghosts, and if weird things happened in that house, well… Weird things happen in every house, don’t they?

Of course, they would soon find out that the house they bought is exactly what they were told it was: haunted. Now they have to find out what the ghosts want and how to make them leave.

Read more here: Houseguests

#24 – Daniel King

| November 28, 2011 | 0 Comments

Flying. It’s probably one of the most popular super-powers out there. When you ask people what power they’d like to have, they often choose flight.

And why wouldn’t they? Flying is freedom, it’s the ability to go wherever you want without having to deal with such provincial problems as gas or bus fare. You have three dimensions all to yourself and vast, wide-open skies just calling your name.

For Daniel King, flying is just another way to get around. And not even the best way. It’s cold up there, for one thing, and windy as all hell. You can’t carry anything much bigger than a backpack, it’s hard to find your way around, and there are bugs all over the place. That’s not including the power lines you might smack into, airplanes that get really possessive about their airspace, and the occasional government scare. All in all, flying is nice, but it’s a “sometimes” mode of transportation.

His friend Jeff doesn’t think so, though, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get Daniel to bring him up in the air.

Read his story here: Up, Up, and Away

#23 – Lord Clerk Uster

| November 28, 2011 | 0 Comments

In a small kingdom, the day-to-day dealings of the castle are handled by people far less illustrious than the king, who has the far more important job of reigning to do. One of these less important people is Lord Clerk Uster, who knows full well his importance to the running of the kingdom. If the king died, after all, his eldest child would take the throne. There would be pomp and ceremony and mourning, but life would go on more or less as it had before.

If Lord Clerk Uster were to die, however, it would take months, if not years for a proper replacement to be found and for the kingdom to truly regain itself. His intricate, rational method of organizing accounts and the business of the kingdom is something that only he truly understands. He is, to put it simply, all that stands between order and chaos.

Or so he would like to believe, of course. He’s a small, weaselly-looking man, with a nasal voice, a love of proper procedure and – if dictionaries existed yet – would be the dictionary definition of “officious prick.”

His king has charged him with finding a proper suitor for the beautiful and talented Princess Cherin, a girl whom Uster has adored since she was a child. He truly loves her, even though he would never dare admit it even to himself, and this impedes somewhat the search for a proper husband….

Read his story here: The Wheels of Courtship

#22 – Rissandir den Raud

| November 22, 2011 | 0 Comments

Rissandir den Raud is a prince of the kingdom of Ardenspire. This is a kingdom that has been at peace for two generations, ever since his grandfather, Alden den Fevre, conquered the last of his enemies and crushed them beneath his heel. It’s been a benign peace, however. Rissandir’s father, Raud den Alden, is an excellent peacetime king, and his people know prosperity and security.

This means that there’s not a lot for his sons to do. Rissandir is the middle of three. His older brother, Calaris (#21), is first in line for the throne, and is therefore honest, hardworking and boring. The youngest, Lennick, is only three, and therefore isn’t very interesting yet.

As a “spare prince,” Rissandir knows that he has no official purpose in the kingdom. Therefore, he decides to make one for himself.

In spite of readily available magic, Rissandir has decided that he wants to be able to fly on his own. After years of study and research, he develops his world’s first heavier-than-air aircraft. His brother Calaris is adamantly opposed to this – they have ways to fly that are magical and safe, why do this?

Why indeed…? Rissandir is determined to fly on his own, even if it kills him. Which it may well do.

Read his story here: Prince of the Air, part one

#21 – Calaris den Raud

| November 22, 2011 | 0 Comments

Calaris den Raud is the Crown Prince of the kingdom of Ardenspire. This is a kingdom that has been at peace for two generations, ever since his grandfather, Alden den Fevre, conquered the last of his enemies and crushed them beneath his heel. It’s been a benign peace, however. Calaris’ father, Raud den Alden, is an excellent peacetime king, and his people know prosperity and security.

This means that there’s not a lot for his sons to do. Calaris is the eldest of three, and his next younger brother is the impulsive, inventive and somewhat un-princely Rissandir. The youngest, Lennick, is only three, and therefore isn’t very interesting yet.

Calaris finds value in stability and security. He knows he’s next in line for the throne, but he’s not interested in taking that responsibility yet. He’s risk-averse, conservative, and often bound to tradition.

When his brother decides to do something risky, ridiculous, and dangerous, Calaris knows it’s time for him to step in.

Read his story here: Prince of the Air, part 1

#20 – Angie Gallagher

| November 22, 2011 | 0 Comments

Five years ago, Melina Terrano was the hottest name in celebrity society. She made news nearly every day for her outrageous rich-girl antics. From a DUI on her 16th birthday to a two-week marriage when she was twenty, and two sex tapes, to say nothing of the reality TV shows, self-published magazines and fashion lines, there was nothing Melina Terrano could do that wouldn’t make the news.

Including disappearing completely.

After gaining a flash of insight into her shallow, meaningless life, Melina fled her California estate and headed east. She ended up in the small town of Fairport, TX. She changed her name to Angie Gallagher, put on some weight, and started a new life. For years she worked in the Fairport Library, finally having found something that she could do to help others.

Following a terrible fire in the library (see #10 – Sean Messinger), she is put in charge of a fundraiser. Her promotions attract the attention of a celebrity news website, who are eager to be the first to break the story of what happened to Melina Terrano. Whether she wants it or not.

Read her story here: Spotlight

#19 – Ezra Resnick

| November 22, 2011 | 0 Comments

There was never any doubt that Ezra Resnick was going to have a tough time in life. He grew up in a small town with an alcoholic stepfather at home and bullies at school. If nothing changed, he probably would have been on a path to poverty and meaninglessness.

Instead, he finds that he has the ability to move through solid matter.

It happened accidentally the first few times, but after his chemistry teacher lectured about how electrons are supposed to repel each other, Ezra realized that he had a genuine superpower on his hands. He practices and plays with it, and then he makes a plan: on a trip to Washington DC, he decides that he’s going to visit the President in the Oval Office.

And there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do to stop him.

Read his story here: Self-Guided Tour

#18 – Starlight Moonwhispers

| November 22, 2011 | 0 Comments

Some people become hippies, other people have hippiedom thrust upon them. Starlight Moonwhispers was born a hippie.

Not really, though. She was born into a middle-class family, went to a nice high school and then off to a second-tier private college. It wasn’t until she fell in love with a man of extreme liberal passions that she turned vegan, stopped shaving, and adopted a new name. She quickly gathered friends, followers and hangers-on as an ardent activist for the environment and the animals.

As part of her daily routine, Starlight meditates. She finds a quiet place, sits down, and waits for the voice of Mother Earth to guide her. In her visions, she’s seen Gaia as “as uplifting, empowering, but terribly, terribly weak all at the same time. It was pale and thin and frail, but there was an inner strength that Starlight could see through her enlightened eyes.” That spirit implores Starlight to action, which leads to her and her activist group taking over the headquarters of a large oil company.

The next time Starlight Moonwhispers meditates, however, she has a very different meeting with the Earth Mother, and learns some very unsettling truths about the place that she – and humanity – has in the world.

Read her story here: Mother Earth

#17 – Evelyn Pierce

| November 19, 2011 | 0 Comments

As with so many super-heroes, Evelyn’s powers manifested when she was a teenager, immersed in the complex stresses of adolescence and high school. In short order, her hair turned a deep green, which earned no small amount of mockery from her classmates at Ravensbrook High. That would not be the end of her troubles, though.

She soon discovered that she could communicate to plant life – and that plants were terrifying. They spoke to her of their primal needs and their unreasoning desires, which nearly drove her mad. Even worse, she was able to affect the plants themselves, although she wasn’t sure if she was controlling them or if they were using her to gain more power. After she accidentally killed her best friend, Evelyn’s family moved to Arizona. When she turned eighteen, she moved to a small house in the desert, as far from plant life as she could reasonably get. Her plan was to stay away from plants and never have to hear their hungry voices again.

All that changed when Department of National Security agent Tanner Quan came to visit her. He had an offer from the government to use her powers for good. But she still can’t control them, and fears that she may do terrible things again.

Read her stories here: A Friend in Need, and Away From the Green

#16 – The Mad Mime Killer

| November 19, 2011 | 0 Comments

Who is he? Nobody knows. What is known about him is that he has a violent, irrational hatred of all things mime. For years, he’s collected information on mimes, studied mimes and followed them around the city of Estervale. Finally, he started on his murder spree, violently doing away with ten mimes in the space of a year. The city government was the target of a media campaign against their ineffectiveness and lack of action, leading to the creation of the Golemime by the Estervale police.

An excerpt from the Mad Mime Killer’s diary:

By their very actions, the mimes are simulacra of reality, fakers and frauds who deny the reality of our reality, a world in which we must all live. They paint their faces a dead white, for they are the dead, the haunted, the living ghosts of our subconscious desire for simplicity and for a way to face the world in a way that makes sense to our simple, sheeplike minds. Those of us who protest, who fight, who see the world for what it is, we are the ones they mock. They mock us with their invisible boxes and their walking against the wind and vanishing down stairs that aren’t there – YOU’RE JUST CROUCHING DOWN YOU FRAUDS WE KNOW HOW IT’S DONE! They see us and they know how we struggle. But they are the agents of the Absurd, the carriers of the cosmic joke of which we are all the punchlines, and until they are gone, until the mimes are wiped from the earth, I cannot have peace, fight the fight against the forces that truly control our world and enslave us all.

What does it mean? Only the killer knows….

#15 – The Golemime

| November 15, 2011 | 0 Comments

In Estervale City, a place where science and magic live in peaceful coexistence, a serial killer is on the loose. This madman, this animal, is killing some of the city’s most treasured and vulnerable citizens.

Its mimes.

After the murder of several mimes in the city, the Estervale Police were forced to act. Their resident thaumaturge, Thaddeus Zoltaire, has been charged with making a golem mime, one that can pass on the street, but is impervious to even the most committed attempts at murder. After researching the proper rites and procedures, Zoltaire created a clay man and breathed life into it.

In the process of creating the golemime, however, Zoltaire did his job a little too well. He wanted his creation to be both mime and policeman, and used that intention when he composed the Words that animated the clay. Therefore, the golemime is trying to be the best  mime and policeman it can, developing traits of both with amazing skill. Within a week, it’s entertaining small children one minute, tackling suspects to the ground the next.

Zoltaire isn’t sure what exactly he’s created, but the golemime is proving to be vital to finding the vicious murderer that runs loose in the city.

Read his story from part one: Golemime

P.S. If anyone who can actually draw wants to draw this, it would make me indescribably happy. Just putting that out there…

#14 – Thaddeus Zoltaire

| November 14, 2011 | 0 Comments

In the city of Estervale, the police have their work cut out for them. There’s all the regular crimes that need regular policing, but from time to time they need a solution that is a little more… occult. That’s why they have Thaddeus Zoltaire on staff.

A graduate of the prestigious Barrowmill Academy, Zoltaire is proficient in most of the mystic arts that the police need – identification, tracking, truth-telling, scrying and the like. From time to time, however, he is called upon to stretch his talents somewhat.

His boss wants a golem now, something that comes perilously close to creating life – a crime against magic that could cost him his license to practice. But in order to save the reputation of the police department against an antagonistic media, Zoltaire is ready to help. So he builds a golem.

But not just any golem.

A golem mime.

Read Zoltaire’s story in Golemime, part 1

#13 – Professor Jenna Spenser

| November 13, 2011 | 0 Comments

Professor Jenna Spenser is a world-renowned geologist and geophysicist who works out of Sallicen College in Freestone City. She has traveled to all the most remote and deadly parts of the world in search of new geological discoveries, rappelling down the sheer faces of the greatest mountains in the world, crawling through the freezing waters of great and uncharted caverns. She has worked with government and business and academia to rewrite our understanding of the Earth and how it works.

Recently, she was called in by the mayor of Freestone to investigate an unusual occurrence: a great sinkhole had opened up in the middle of downtown, swallowing an entire intersection. There was no bottom in sight, and no one knew why or how it had happened. Their only hope was that professor Spenser and her team could figure out what it was and let them know if there was any further danger.

What they found, however, was more than anyone in Freestone expected…

Read more in her story, The Hole

#12 – Oscar Lembrick

| November 12, 2011 | 0 Comments

Oscar Lembrick has one great passion in life: to blow stuff up. He learned it when he was a kid, finding and making explosives as best he could, and then going on to study chemistry, physics and engineering. There was nothing that he loved more than seeing things explode, until the day he destroyed the Crow’s Nest – a local biker bar that had terrorized his town for years. A few well-placed pipe bombs made sure that no one from that wretched hive of scum and villainy would ever trouble his town again.

Of course, once you’ve blown up one bunch of scumbags, it’s only natural to want to blow up more. He soon became known as the go-to guy if you wanted someone dead whose death would probably leave the world a better place. He took out neo-nazis and terrorist cells, corrupt politicians and mafia families. After years of this, he took his well-earned money and tried to retire.

But now he’s back for one last job. If he succeeds, his name will go down in infamy. And he’s just fine with that.

Read his story here, The Good Guy Bomber.

#11 – Carl Stockman

| November 11, 2011 | 0 Comments

Carl is a teenage boy who has embraced his weirdness. He wears old hats, he reads tons of comics, and he doesn’t really care what other people think of him. He recently transferred to Ravensbrook High School, where he’s already undergoing the gauntlet of abuse that the strange kids get.

His one friend – and that’s stretching to word – is Annie Deaver. She’s the one person who’s taken the time to talk to him and try to get to know him, even though that’s doing damage to her own social capital. She likes his unending optimism and his eagerness for everything in life, even if she doesn’t understand it.

But that’s okay – there’s a lot more to him than she knows.

His dragon, for one thing.

Read Carl’s story here: Carl’s Dragon

#10 – Sean Messinger

| November 10, 2011 | 0 Comments

Sean Messinger has a rare and terrifying ability – he is a pyrokinetic, born with the ability to create and control fire.

His early years with the power were difficult, and not without their tragedies. He learned to control it, however, and with that came a fierce love of order and creativity. He came to view his power not as an uncontrollable force of destruction, but an ability with the potential to create. In his free time, he makes art. He welds metal sculptures and woodburning, as well as some painting and ceramics. He sells what he makes in his online shop, which gets him a nice amount of pocket money.

During the day, he is a librarian in the historical Fairport City library. He does the varied and complex jobs that a librarian does, including taking care of special exhibitions such as the display of historical journals that are on display in the library’s exhibit hall.

When a fire breaks out in the hall, he thinks he’s the only one who can deal with it quickly. What he discovers, however, will change his life forever.

Read his story in A Reason to Burn.

#9 – Beddesh Ajaki

| November 10, 2011 | 0 Comments

So far in the future that the human mind cannot readily conceive of it, the universe will be largely empty. The hotter, larger stars will burn out, the galaxies will slowly depopulate, and all that will be left will be the black holes and the red dwarfs.

Known by astronomers to be the longest-lived of all stars, red dwarfs potentially have lifespans that are longer than the current age of the universe. When this universe ends, they’ll be the last to go.

Whatever intelligent life still exists at this time will likely cluster around these stars, building amazing structures to catch every last bit of solar energy they can in a desperate bid to sustain their civilizations just that much longer. But as long-lived as these stars are, they’re not immortal. One day, even the red dwarfs will fail.

The star known as Alpha Aurelius has hosted a human civilization for thousands of years. The star is surrounded by a technological basketwork of energy collectors and residences. People from hundreds of worlds journeyed there with the hope of making a better life. Beddesh Ajaki is one of eleven administrators of Aurelius, and is an expert in navigating the byzantine bureaucracy that has emerged in an attempt to fight the certainty of existential extinction.

When the Nightfinder arrives from the now-extinct Delta-b Cygnus and asks to join them, Ajaki makes sure that the ship and its residents are welcomed with open arms. However, he manages to withhold one very important secret from them until it is too late….

Read his story here: A New Star, Part 1 and Part 2

#8 – Atris Parkell

| November 10, 2011 | 0 Comments

So far in the future that the human mind cannot readily conceive of it, the universe will be largely empty. The hotter, larger stars will burn out, the galaxies will slowly depopulate, and all that will be left will be the black holes and the red dwarfs.

Known by astronomers to be the longest-lived of all stars, red dwarfs potentially have lifespans that are longer than the current age of the universe. When this universe ends, they’ll be the last to go.

Whatever intelligent life still exists at this time will likely cluster around these stars, building amazing structures to catch every last bit of solar energy they can in a desperate bid to sustain their civilizations just that much longer. But as long-lived as these stars are, they’re not immortal. One day, even the red dwarfs will fail.

The star Delta-b Cygnus hosted a large and busy civilization, long-descended from humans. When its starkeepers decided that its life was at an end, they set loose the diaspora. Ships left in all directions, each one hoping that they would somehow come across another inhabited star somewhere in the vast, empty universe.

Atris Parkell captains the Nightfinder, a legacy ship that spent years journeying through trans-luminal space to find a new home. They finally found Alpha Aurelius, a star trapped in a web of advanced technology. The residents of Aurelius were more than happy to take in the travelers, but they did so without revealing some very important information…

Read his story here: A New Star, Part 1 and Part 2

#7 – Alan Samson and Johnny Hyatt

| November 7, 2011 | 0 Comments

Oy. Just imagine the MythBusters, only moreso.

Alan and Johnny are the hosts of a hugely popular show called StoryBreakers, on which they examine popular stories and misconceptions under the unblinking eye of science.

At least that’s what they tell people. They usually just look for excuses to blow stuff up.

Alan is the popular face of the show. He’s energetic and outgoing, if a little hard to keep under control at times. He’s not sure which he likes more – making things or destroying things – but the sheer pleasure he gets from doing his show is what drives him. When kids see him on the street, they all want his autograph and to know what it’s like to be a real StoryBreaker. He says that if they study hard in school, maybe they’ll find out someday.

Johnny Hyatt, on the other hand, does not attract children. It would be more accurate to say that he terrifies them. He’s a large, bear-like man, with bushy facial hair and an ever-present knit cap that he wears in any kind of weather. He’s slow to speak, and when he does it’s usually in single words or less, but that quiet hides a very keen mind. He’s brilliant at designing mechanisms for the show, and is a master of explosive technology. His huge fingers are capable of the most delicate movements, and he usually ends up designing most of the experiments. It’s rumored that he has a dark and unpleasant past, but he never talks about it. The only person who knows anything about Johnny is Alan, and Alan’s not saying anything.

Together, though, they are an excellent team. Along with their co-hosts Tom, Gary and Katie, they produce one of the most popular programs on television.

Their most recent show, however, may have been their last. During a routine experiment to see how much C4 they could detonate at once, they accidentally opened a rift into a horrible hell-dimension. Some giant, unspeakable thing was trying to make its way through in order to terrorize our world, and only the StoryBreakers – and every ounce of explosives they could dig up – stood any chance of stopping it.

Read their story here – StoryBreakers

#6 – Katerina Miser

| November 6, 2011 | 0 Comments

My attempt to draw her really didn't work. Fortunately, there's Flickr. (photo by Brittanie Pendleton)

Katerina – though prefers to be called Kate – is a tough, independent girl who has an unusual problem. Ever since she was a little girl, she’s seen water spirits. From little girls who rise up out of the creek to shadows in the ripples of a pond, she’s been aware for a long time now that there is something watching her. Maybe many somethings.

She grew up in the city with her mother. Her father had run off before she was born, so she never knew him, and her mother grew overprotective and slightly paranoid as a result. But when they would go out to visit her grandmother, Sadie, Kate was given all the freedom she’d never had at home. Her favorite way to kill time was to go to the creek with other kids from the neighborhood and catch frogs and salamanders and other slimy things. She never really caught on to being “girly,” and preferred to have fun in her own way. Kate was never afraid of anything, although when the little girl in white showed up in the creek and offered to take her away, she was a little freaked out.

After that, she felt watched anytime she went by natural bodies of water. Whether a stream or a pond, or even a heavy rain, she knew there was something watching her. Finally, after being dragged to Florida of all places by her friends, she decided to confront the spirits that had been haunting her for so long. What she learned from meeting the sea god Proteus would change her forever….

Read more in her story, Water Whispers.

#5 – Ken Wendel

| November 5, 2011 | 0 Comments

This one... actually isn't too bad. Huh.

Ken Wendel is a Zen Plumber.

This doesn’t mean that he goes and sits and meditates on your plumbing problems, of course. He doesn’t light incense or chant at your toilet. The would be ridiculous. But he tries to take a Zen approach to life and the problems of life, especially in his profession.

There are certain problems that can be solved, and certain ones that cannot. For the ones that cannot be solved, it is pointless to worry about them as a solution will never be found. For those that can be – which usually includes plumbing – it is also pointless to worry, because a solution can be found. The key to wisdom is knowing which is which. In addition, he believes that life is, in many ways, like plumbing:

“We want our lives to flow like water through pipes. Free, without blockages or disturbances. And when that doesn’t happen – when the pipes are blocked or the parts don’t work and things start to overflow, we need to seek help. To remove those blocks, to fix what doesn’t work, and let our lives proceed again without impedance. When you do, you find that you’re able to go on with your life again, properly thankful for the way things should be.”

While he’s never been to Japan or studied under a proper Zen teacher, Ken has found a certain peace in the way that he has chosen to look at life. He tries his best to pass that on to his customers, who, while they may be a little unsettled by his Zen-ness, find that he does good work and charges a fair price.

Read the story here: The Proper Flow of Things

#4 – Rick Anders

| November 4, 2011 | 0 Comments

I don't know how to draw a shapeshifter, but I know he'd want to look something like this guy (image source unknown)

Rick Anders is that most unusual of people – a shapeshifter.

He has the ability to “scan” other people and take on their physical forms. The longer he pays attention to someone, the more detailed his understanding of them becomes and the better he can change to copy them. With enough concentration and time, Rick can even temporarily acquire physical skills, diagnose ailments and even gain some of their moods and personality.

Understanding the danger of being a doppelganger, however, Rick usually doesn’t remain looking like any one person. Instead, he picks and chooses details and blends them into a form that he wants to look like. So he might have the lustrous black hair of one man, another man’s bright green eyes, and a third’s long and delicate fingers. He can mix and match until he’s perfectly happy with how he looks, which usually doesn’t last too long. In a habit that he doesn’t quite understand as really creepy, he takes photographs of each new body plan he acquires and keeps them on his computer.

This will come back to bite him in the ass sooner or later, of course.

His original form is pasty, flabby and while not being conventionally ugly, it certainly didn’t turn any heads. When he was young, his older brother was drop-dead handsome, and knew it. He was also a manipulative coward, and mocked any attempt that Rick made to better himself through sports or exercise, lest Rick grow up to be better-looking and thus steal what little superficial thunder he had. This gave Rick a very unhealthy body image, which made his shapeshifting abilities something of a godsend for him. He doesn’t know where his powers came from or how they work. He just knows how to use them to make himself look the way he wants to.

Also, they seem to have a couple of limitations. For one, he can only copy human men. Trying to copy women gives him intense feedback pain, and trying to copy animals is worse. He may overcome these in the future, but right now his vanity and his low-grade narcissism make that a low priority. Also, he’s limited to his own mass in terms of how big or small he can get. What’s interesting is that no matter what size he becomes, he weighs about three hundred pounds, much more than he did before the powers kicked in. His effective size range is from a ten year-old child on the low end to a large linebacker on the high.

Now he lives in Corsair City as a model, and spends his days looking for new bodies to snatch. It isn’t until he runs into a strange man in a cafe that he realizes there’s a bigger game going on than he knows…

Read more in his story, Shift.

#3 – Jundir

| November 3, 2011 | 0 Comments

This looks better in my head.

Jundir is a boy who is of the Vas’alim people – a nomadic tribe that wanders an arid region of their world. They’ve wandered for generations, and good deal of their culture and their lifestyle revolves around the needs that arise when you live in a place where water is difficult to find. One of the most prestigious positions in this culture, then, are the Water Hunters.

The Water Hunters are young men who seek out sources of water near their encampment, and look for new sites for the clan to move to in the future. If they come back with a good supply of water, which they carry in waxed leather bags, there is a celebration in the camp.

There is nothing Jundir wants more than to be a Water Hunter when he comes of age. Unfortunately, he lost a leg to a bite from a Rock Snake five years ago. With only the one leg, he has no chance of doing any of the jobs that a man is supposed to do, and this has left him bitter and angry at a young age.

His grandfather is a Rainsinger, a kind of spiritual man who dances and sings to bring the infrequent rains to the camps. He sees the pain the boy is going through, but his attempts to try and help Jundir reconcile himself with his condition are futile, or very nearly so.

Read his story here: Rainsinger

#2 – Stuart MacBee

| November 2, 2011 | 0 Comments

And this is why I do writing contests and not art. You're welcome.

Stuart is an eleven year-old boy who lives in the small town of Winter Falls, Maine. It’s a poor town that’s seen better days, but so far Stuart is a decent kid. He’s bright and popular and good-looking, and most of the other town kids look up to him. Of course, he is eleven, so sometimes he lets that get to him, which leads to him getting into trouble with whatever friend he can rope into his scheme. But if he can stay grounded, he has a really good chance of making it out of Winter Falls and becoming someone who can contribute meaningfully to society.

Oh, wait, no. He can’t.

He’s dead.

After convincing his best friend Dylan to go swimming in the abandoned – and very much forbidden – Oldjak Quarry, Stuart slips and falls into the freezing, black water far below. Dylan fears for his friend’s life, but then fears for a lot more when the water erupts upward in a great waterspout that carries the broken and battered body of Stuart with it. Something speaks through the boy – whose soul is still trapped in his now-possessed body – telling Dylan that, “[your] masters are coming back,” and that they should “prepare.”

When Dylan asks exactly what they should prepare for, the entity simply laughs, and then lets the water drop, along with the now-vacated corpse of Stuart. Dylan is left alone on the edge of the quarry to face his madness.

Stuart’s terrible end can be found in his story, The Quarry.

#1 – Annette Reid

| November 1, 2011 | 0 Comments

Stock image, I'm afraid, but she's close enough....

Annette is the kind of person who doesn’t know how to do nothing. She spent years as a teacher until she retired, and has spent her retirement staying as busy as humanly possible. She takes cooking class and a yoga class, sets up picnics for her neighborhood, plays in the North River Senior Softball league, hikes with the Library Boosters, and she’s on the school board. She volunteers to read in the library’s Children’s Reading Room, tends gardens with the town Gardening Club, volunteers at a soup kitchen, and takes the occasional Spanish class. She puts dinners together the North River Ladies’ Club, finds speakers to talk to junior high school students, and substitutes in the high school. She works in the Town Clerk’s office every election day, helps the kids at the local Youth Center, and volunteers at the North River Preservationist Society.

She is, needless to say, extremely well-organized, and doesn’t deal well with boredom.

In her retirement, Annette has found out how to be busier than she ever was as a teacher. The only person she doesn’t do anything for is herself, a fact which has – up until now – eluded her. With the death of her sister, however, Annette was forced to take a good look at her priorities and decide who she really needed to make happy. After all this time, she doesn’t know who she really is without someone else to reflect off of.

She’s married to Alan, who has been very patient with his hyperkinetic wife. He used to call himself a “schoolteacher’s widower,” and managed to build an entire life for himself without his wife knowing. He loves her, but he knows that she thrives on being full of things to do, and wouldn’t dream of trying to stop her.

Annette is short and slight, in her mid-60s, with short hair that’s going gray from a deep brown. She usually dresses well, being of a mind that it is your responsibility to make a good impression on others. So, whether she’s giving a speech to the town council or weeding the park, she looks good. She has a smile for everyone.

Her story: Out of the Rain

2011 Challenger: Chris Gladis

| October 29, 2011 | 2 Comments

I found this competition and thought it would work really well with the NaNo project that I’m preparing for this year. At first I didn’t think I’d be able to do it, since I’m already working on a daily writing project, but then I realized that there was no real reason I couldn’t. All I had to do was finesse the definition of a “novel.”

I’m going to go for a single, overarching theme that can be divided into five parts – one for each week – and write stories based on that. My first impulse was the classical elements – earth, air, fire, water and aether. Each element gets a week, and the stories in that week are somehow related to that element. I’ll keep looking for sets of five that might lend themselves to this kind of structure, but you get the idea. In the end, I’ll have a thirty-story anthology that is, if all goes well, over 50,000 words.

This means, of course, that I will need to create at least 30 new characters over the course of the month, across several different genres. Frankly, I have no idea.

Unfortunately, I’m not much of an artist. But I can use those word-things to describe the people in my head, so that will do nicely.

Looking forward to it!