I shared this on Facebook, wanted to do the same here…
It’s Friday, which means I need to put something out there- to peddle my wares and such, and my wares be writing… before I do that however, I feel compelled to speak in part, as to why I write to begin with.
At the tender age of fifteen I had the privilege of attending a writers seminar in St. Joseph Missouri. Seems a prominent author- who I’d never even heard of, so how could he be prominent- was going to speak, a man by the name of Frank Herbert. (For those of you living in the dark, Mr. Herbert was, and still is, a master of Science Fiction with such works as Dune.) At then end of his 2 hour presentation, he mentioned he would be available for Q&A, as well as signings. I made my way to the front of the line, a dog-eared copy of the Green Brain, in hand. After signing he asked a simple question- “Do you write?” to which I replied, “Nope!” His reply to this changed everything- “Why not?”
I’ve been pondering that answer for the last 38 years. And having read some of what I’ve written, I still ask myself that question at times.
It’s been a long and crazy 38 years. In that time I’ve written a few novels, lots of short stories. I’ve been professionally published in Anthologies, and self-published as well. In all that time a certain realization stays with me, I write because I love the process, not because I want fame- which I’d love, don’t get me wrong- a series on HBO would be amazing. However, it is the exercise of the words in my head that I strive for, and keeps me going.
Now, as for the following- you must excuse me, I cannot help but peddle my novel A Gathering Darkness. I love the characters, and I love the story, and I think you will too if you give it a chance- even the slightest. And just so you know, the story took root in 1993 when I woke up one morning with this simple sentence in mind- seemed nonsense at the time, but has grown into 3 books since:
On November 30, just weeks shy of Christmas, Theo Valerian would meet his youngest son for the first time, and never even realize it.
Crazy, how so much story can come from so few words. So, without further ado, I present, for your reading pleasure, the first chapter in Theo’s story; how he met his son, what the world would become afterward.
Sometimes a simple question can change a world!
Type of story- Contemporary Urban Fantasy, which means real life world, with a touch of magic and myth.
Hope you enjoy!
NO GREATER PERIL
“Excuse me, young sir… young man?”
The boy had been so lost, so caught up in thought; that it never occurred to him that the wretched figure swaying before him hadn’t been there a moment before.
Startled by the old man’s appearance, he immediately cringed, as much from the gut-wrenching fear of being discovered, as from the murderous nor’easter cutting him to the bone.
He’d never been so miserably cold.
His first attempt at dismissal went unheeded, much like his second and third. Finally, he could take it no longer. It was obvious the old man was going to stay. “What is it?” he asked, all the while, keeping in mind his mother’s final words, ‘to keep his head down and his mouth shut. Tell no one his business or why he was here. And last but not least, speak to as few of these people as possible.’ With the old man’s intrusion, it seemed remaining anonymous was no longer an option.
“Might you have a bit of change to spare, young master?” The old man’s accent seemed contrived, forced. As he spoke he appeared nervous, glancing first left, then right. Everywhere but at him.
What are you trying to hide, the boy wondered? “Do I look like I have change?” he asked.
The old man’s feet began to shuffle and scuff, as if thinking involved moving.
Mental for sure, the boy mused. And yet, despite the old man’s street worn appearance, there was something oddly familiar about him. In the way that he moves, the way he shuffles his feet… Shadows seemed to cling to his features like they were painted there.
He was about to move on when a sudden thought entered his head, there was something oddly familiar about the shadows, the way they seemed to cling to the old man’s features, never revealing, not entirely anyway. Then this too, was gone.
I’m not supposed to be here, he realized. I’m supposed to meet Maggie… and father. A father he hadn’t seen in nearly three years.
In that moment, even as the words crossed his mind, the old man began to smile, obviously pleased with himself. It was as if the old fart had just shared a private joke, one that only he knew the punch line to.
“Look gramps, I gotta go. If I see you later we’ll do lunch. Just have your people get a hold of mine, will ya?” And with that he moved on, parting the crowds around him like Moses parting the Red Sea. On God’s mission, doing God’s will, everyone make way.
He had just turned a nearby corner when all the sudden he is grabbed from behind, an arm snaking around his waist and neck, lifting him off the ground and into a nearby alley strewn with trash, faded Springsteen posters and near-total darkness.
Try as he might, he could not break free, in fact he could barely breath. Panic flared in his mind’s eye, blinding him to thought and reason. The entire time he was being strangled, his attacker was pawing at his clothes, running his hand through his pockets, reaching up under his coat and raking claws, across his chest and back.
“Get off me,” he choked. “Let me go.” But his words fell on deaf ears. If anything, his attackers grip seemed to tighten.
Panic-stricken, he took a step back, trying to stomp the man’s foot, and missed. He tried to twist and turn, break free. Still nothing. His world began to darken and constrict, precious seconds ticking by. By now his eyes were watering and his lungs on fire.
Oddly enough, he wasn’t afraid- Mainly pissed… to come so far, go through so much, only to have it all end like this!
Into this midst comes the roar of an unseen sea, dark tides threatening to sweep him away.
I just want to go home…
Then, when it seems as if his entire world is about to fade, a voice enters his ear. “Did you at least bring it with you?” Before he can formulate an answer…
He tips forward into a snow-covered field…
A moment of disorientation. He is on his hands and knees, next to a deserted snow-covered road. An alabaster sky stretches high overhead. Into this silence, the gunshot cry of an eerie falcon, followed by nothing but silence- a silence so deep it frightens him.
He had almost forgotten what home sounded like- before the modern age.
His heart falters…
Suddenly free, he turns to confront his attacker- only to find no one, not even the alley behind him, instead endless vistas and snow-covered fields stretch away into forever. Steaming like a freight train, he grabs his throat…
The world begins to fade…
Nooooo! But it’s too late, hope fades like the landscape around him, until only the streets of New York remain.
And like that, he’s back. Turning, he finds the alleyway just as deserted as before- his attacker long gone.
It had to be that crazy old bastard,’ he thought. ‘Who else could it have been? With an effort he manages to clear his throat, hawk and spit.
Sadly, despite his distress, no one approaches him. Look at me, standing in the middle of a busy sidewalk, with no one around! This time sucks!
Entering a nearby stairwell he leans down, first to cut the wind, next to conceal his motions. The coin he retrieves from inside his shoe is thick and unnaturally heavy. One side shows the image of a burning shield; the other a crowned Eerie falcon- his father’s sigil.
Upon reaching his eighteenth birthday, that sigil would become his.
Together, the coin and boy are older than the city they knelt in by hundreds of years.
Comforted his secret remained, he returns the coin to its rightful hiding place. One can never be too careful, obviously! Shivering, he wipes away tears and reenters the teaming streets around him.