As The Thunder Clouds Roll In…

As The Thunder Clouds Roll In…

…I feel a brainstorm coming on. (For the Big Writing Project, aka BWP, among other things. Henceforth, the Project I am doing with my class with be forever known as, “BWP”.)

Ever wanted to write, but didn’t quite know how to put what you wanted to say into words? Or maybe you were a blank slate– one of the writers’ worst fears, the dreaded lightening bolt of Writer’s Block, which can strike you when you least expect it, and instantly short-circuit your brain.

yoda1

Fear not, readers. This happens to the even the best of authors; you are definitely not alone in your rut. And this fine evening, I’d like to help you with your little ordeal. It’s called…

BRAINSTORMING.

There are multiple ways to do this, to re-stimulate the little electric-fried brain cells in that noggin of yours. The most important thing is that they’re all pencil and paper/keyboard related (or at least, eventually pencil and paper/keyboard related).

The first is to get up for a bit. Sometimes, we’ve been sitting for far too long in one day, and it kind of just makes your brain rot…Or fly the coop, period…

boredbrain

But you know what? That’s why God invented fresh air. To breathe and rejuvenate. And why He made our bodies to MOVE (because they cannot otherwise function properly). Plus, it get the blood flow to your head– where it needs to go. Get outdoors, or at least move about. Even little things in the slightest change of environment can help inspire you (Trust me, I’ve even been inspired by rotting wooden beams encircling a playground. Rotting wooden beams, people.) to write something. If you’re home, go out for a run or something, or a walk and talk to yourself (or, if you feel self-conscious about that, pretend you’re talking on your phone, when you’re not. Leigh Bardugo herself admitted to this little scheme.). When you get home, take a shower. If nothing’s come to you yet, it may at this point; sometimes ideas will just plop down with the water droplets. But take your time, and be patient. Sometimes, ideas will even occur as you’re about to go to bed.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a change of scenery isn’t the only way to get those juices flowing.

I often choose a way to word-vomit, personally. Usually I make myself sit down and just WRITE. If I’ve a blank slate, I just write whatever pops into my brain, whether it makes sense or not. But it’s important to KEEP GOING. Try writing for twenty minutes straight, no stopping. It’s okay if it’s weird. It’s okay if it doesn’t make sense. It’s okay if your odd dream about your aunt Thelma is in one sentence, and your passion for airplanes is in the next. IT’S OKAY.

Sometimes, I will even use this technique when I’m story-writing. I just write and see what happens. If I don’t like it, I can always go back and edit or alter it later. I’ve gotten a couple good ideas just by doing that, and pleasantly ended up surprising myself when I thought I was at a dead end at a certain point.

Even word clouds– drawing little clouds and writing words in them that all relate to each other for some reason– help. Just little things can help to make a LEVIATHAN difference!

 

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Image Credits:

http://okweatherwatch.com/dave/?cat=20

http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/sterling-chen-color-illustration-of-winged-brain-flying-out-news-photo/166222353#sterling-chen-color-illustration-of-wingedbrain-flying-out-of-mans-picture-id166222353

http://www.lanakrumwiede.com/2015/01/rethinking-writers-block/

The Prologue: The Journey Begins

The Prologue: The Journey Begins

Some of you may have just gotten into this blogging and writing thing, and might even not have any clue where to begin. That’s perfectly alright; we’ve ALL been there at one point or another. God hasn’t created us all for writing purposes, either, you know– some were built for music, others art, some math/technology (those people have my sincere sympathy), and still more sports, science, and so forth. We all have our niche, but the imperative thing is that we are all actively CULTURE CREATORS. What MAKES a culture is what kind of people are in it, and what they do with it. J.R.R. Tolkien even once said that, since we are made in God’s Image, we are sub-creators, and we are to make things for His Glory, out of our love for Him and for others. So why not do just that?writer2

Me, I was built for writing. Yes, I have days where I slip up because I’m too busy to write (sad but true– that’s why I like taking classes like this where I’m REQUIRED to write. That way I have a legitimate excuse.); other days, when I’m tired while writing, you may have noticed that when I’m on a roll (*cough* “The Deceiver” story…*cough*), I tend to make more slip-ups. But you know what? That’s okay. I’m human, I’m fallible like every other human on planet earth (which is often why I try to give people the benefit of the doubt.). I may not be as good a writer as say, Ted Dekker, Stephen King, Leigh Bardugo, or Suzanne Collins, but I’ll get there. EVERY author has to start someplace; the only way to improve is to write more, edit more, ask for second opinions and how you could improve your writing, and so forth. Remember when writing, it is INCREDIBLY unfair to yourself, as a self-respecting author, to compare yourself to well-known and successful authors like the ones listed above. Those authors have had the benefit of experience, trial-and-error, editors, friends reading their works, and YEARS of doing this. You can do it, too, if you’re wired to write. But comparing yourself is NEVER a good idea, ESPECIALLY if a famous author has a different writing style than yours. Yes, it’s good to know how they did that, and might be fun to play around with different styles, but the important thing is to find something that works for YOU. Not everyone is going to write super-detailed, not everyone is going to write super-vague, and NOT everyone is going to write YA fantasy (Although, I think I may or may not do that myself, ironically.). That’s OKAY. There are plenty of other writers with a gift and penchant for writing poetry, non-fiction stories, historical fiction about favorite people/events in the past, you name it. These folks are just as unbelievably talented– and you might be one of them. Try it, and see what floats your boat. The important thing is, just WRITE what makes YOUR HEART DELIGHT. Put in the time and effort. You will be rewarded.writer1

We ALL have things to work on. Me, I’m probably the guiltiest of using run-ons, over-writing (“Nooooo….”) and a good bit of slang when I write, though the latter is typically Internet-exclusive for me. But slang does not look good to professional publishers, so I’m working on minimizing it, at the least. When writing, ask for feedback; read over your own works several times with the constructively critical viewpoint of a professor grading a paper. Ask yourself what grade you’d give yourself. Just mull it over, and see what you think!

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Image Credit: http://www.stthomas.edu/law/life/writingcompetitions/

http://weknowmemes.com/generator/meme/Being-a-good-Writer/207021/

 

 

Updates, News, Etc.

Updates, News, Etc.

Hey guys!!

I hope everyone had an awesome Christmas, and a lovely New Year with friends and family. Also, Happy MLK Jr. Day! 🙂 I apologize again for not blogging sooner, school just kind of took over my life (again…). I just wanted to take some time to update everybody on what’s going on right my blog right now:

  1. I. Am. Getting. Something. Published. Legit, for the first time. Now, granted, there were the two exceptions in both third and sixth grades respectively where we got to each write our own books in class and get them published through a specialty company that published books by grade school children for grade school children (but it was only one copy, the one we took home with us), but that doesn’t really count. And it IS a book that I will be sharing with my fellow students, so we’re each going to have some kind of story in it, but these are not going to be your average, run-of-the-mill stories. These, friends, are going to be epic short stories, probably no more than 5 pages long each– easy but awesome readings. It will actually be available to buy (as in, on the internet), although we’ll be marketing them to our college campus first. (However, when it gets published and out there, you buy a copy, and if we ever meet, I will sign it, if you want. )The next several weeks, I will be blogging (in part) about what it feels to be a writer, hopes, dreams, fears and frustrations I have about this up-and-coming novel, and so forth. Get ready to be “blogged-out” about this, dear readers. 😉
  2. However, just because I am going to be blogging more about this fabulous book does NOT mean I am going to/want to neglect my other responsibilities and writings, as a writer. I am pleased to announce that, yes, I will try my HARDEST (when school isn’t driving me to the absolute breaking point, that is) to post at LEAST one “The Deceiver” chapter once every two weeks, if I’m unable (which most likely will be the case) to post every week. I very much enjoy writing this story, even if I’m tired and haven’t completely edited everything before I post, sometimes (oops. LOL)– and I hope with every fiber of my being you enjoy reading it just as much.

Additionally, I will also be authoring a couple of reviews, specifically on books (my friend got me hooked on yet another series, The Lunar Chronicles.), Rebels, and lastly, my final views on Pokemon Sun and Moon. I hope they give at least some insight to you and where your money should/shouldn’t go, and also give me some reign to fangirl a *tiny* bit.

3. Thirdly, and most importantly, expect my posts to get a touch more interesting, as I have (as of late) finally discovered how to do THIS:

celebrationgif

Yep, things just got real. And to quote Mr. Dave Filoni, creator of both SW: The Clone Wars and SW Rebels, “… I’m getting like Palpatine, I’m getting power crazy.” (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/CT-7567)

Mwahahahahaaa…..

palpatine

(OK, sorry for giving you guys nightmares. I couldn’t resist. I’m in a giddy, childlike mood now that I’ve discovered this. You can thank my classmate Jenny, and my advisor, Dr. Dan the Genius Williams, for showing me. 🙂 )

Anyways, so that’s what’s up, so everyone’s not entirely in the dark. One thing’s for sure, though…

The last update is going to make the second and first ones a LOT more fun to write (and probably read).

Until next time, adios!

__________________

Image Credits:

http://www.quickmeme.com/Palpatine-Good

http://mashable.com/2013/08/06/success-gifs/

https://australia.iiba.org/event/iiba-australia-brisbane-end-year-networking-event-2016

 

 

The Deceiver {Part 4}

The Deceiver {Part 4}

Guy flopped onto Kodi’s bed. “Let’s do this,” he said, flipping open a small device that looked like a lighter. When Kodi started, Guy grinned. “Relax, it’s more harmless than it looks. You know that book the original JC gave me?” Kodi nodded. “Well, hidden inside was this little scrap of paper, with instructions on how to build one of these. I think they called it a holocrontron. Something fancy like that. But it wasn’t hard to build– just take a lighter casing, add a projection light and a couple other features, and– voila.”

“Do you know how to WORK it?” asked Kodi, raising an eyebrow at him. Guy’s face faltered for only a moment, then recalled the instructions in his pocket. Whipping them out, he scanned down through. “Let’s see… putting it together… inserting final touches… Mikey’s contact number… and… THERE we are, how to turn it on.” He flipped the flicker on the lighter, then pressed a few keys that had been inserted into the lighter’s side.

A light blue projection light cropped up, much to Guy’s delight– but his joy once again faded, seeing Mikey was not present. “Mikey?” he called, keeping his voice relatively low, so Dad would not hear; Kodi hunched over as well, to keep it between only the three of them. The image of nothingness flickered for a moment, then Mikey’s youthful, blond-haired head, clad in a nightcap, popped into view. “It took you long enough,” the boy said nonchalantly, yawning and stretching. “You couldn’t have picked a better time to wake me?”

“Sorry,” said Guy hurriedly. He had forgotten it was nearly eleven at night. Mikey waved him off. “It is just as well– I am certain you wouldn’t have done so unless it were of the utmost importance.”

Kodi nodded. “We just needed to ask you some things. We feel lost, like we don’t really know what we’re supposed to do, where we’re supposed to go, and what end goal we’re to be accomplishing.”

Mikey frowned, not an irritated frown, but a pondering frown. “Didn’t the Junk Collector’s letter explain all that?”

“Only certain parts,” acknowledged Guy, “like that we were supposed to fix things, renew things, help fix broken people, that kind of thing. Only it didn’t say HOW. I mean, I may have put this… thing… together, but that doesn’t automatically I’m the handy type; I could only do it because of the instruct–”

Mikey cut him off. “Do not doubt the Junk Collector’s ability to choose future Junk Collectors. If he chose you, you must be good at remedying either material objects, and/or people. It is unwise to question his decision on such matters. Just as he had faith in your abilities and talents, you must also have faith in them. But not only them.”

“What do you mean?” Guy interjected.

“I mean, you must also have faith in the very first Junk Collector. The Grand Maker, the Person Who is Fondest of Recycling.”

“Recycling?” echoed Kodi. Mikey smiled. “That is Junk Collecting speak for making all old things new again, making them not only useful, but whole and wonderful. It is the ideal of the Junk Collector I have served, the goal that drives all Junk Collectors, the spark ignited by the Grand Maker Junk Collector Himself, which implores you now to be fanned into a proper flame. But, as  you already have been told, your main mission and ultimate goal is not to simply fix up or build material goods to serve your own gain, but to use these tools to serve and aid others– and help fix and build up others. That in itself is the top priority. And speaking of how…” Here he gave Guy a stern and almost accusing look. “You ask me how you can accomplish your goals. How to go about making things happen, so in the end, you can help fix and build up other people. I notice your third teammate is not here with you tonight.”

Guy shuffled anxiously. “Listen, if circumstances were different–”

“If circumstances were different, you think she would have been here? Yet you neglect your friend’s needs, her hurts, and continue on without her, despite her being your teammate. If you had attended to these things, tried to be there for her, and tried to build her up, do you not think she would have been more compliant?”

There was a long silence. Guy could hear the wind howling softly outside, pressing tree branches against the window frames. He tried to control his emotions, rolling up inside his gut; his inner tempest. “I would if I could,” he finally said in a low voice, “but now that’s been made impossible. It’s not that I won’t, it’s that I can’t.” He related to both Kodi and Mikey of what had transpired between himself and his father, growing more discouraged with each word. When his explanation ended, there was even more silence.

Kodi was the first to break it. “So what now? If we can’t reach her, then…”

“Actually, permit me to make a small correction,” said Mikey, “The way I see it, and from how you related all that to me, it seems that only Guy is unable to meet with Wren. You, Kodi, on the other hand…”

“But if Dad catches him, we’re both dead,” protested Guy. “He’ll think I encouraged him, and we’ll never get to see her again–”

Once more, the bold young former assistant to the original JC intervened, “With the Grand Maker, all things are possible. Nothing is impossible.” He actually grinned a little. “Unlikely, perhaps, but not impossible.”

&&&&&&&&&

Wren fished out the special ink from her desk drawer; it still shocked and even disturbed her how the fact that both it and the letter appeared to be planted did not surprise her. Logically, with an extremely secure house, door bolts, and her brother being home at least 75 percent of the time, there was little chance of an intruder sneaking inside. She herself had not left the house in quite some time; would she not have heard if someone entered her room? On the other hand…

A lot HAD happened to her the past several days. Why not add more complexities to her frustration, nerves, and addled, upset brain? She bit into her lower lip so hard she started to taste salt. Iron. Her blood.

She had a decision to make, however. She could always choose not to respond, but… Closing her eyes, she recalled clearly how the letter’s words had glistened and gleamed in the darkness, their candlelight almost consoling her spirits, giving her the faintest pinprick of… hope. She nearly laughed. Hope. That was a word she had not felt for a very long time– even with Guy and Kodi around to “help”.

Next to the old-fashioned inkwell was a feathered quill, like the kind they might have used in the 1800’s or earlier. Definitely not there previously.

Temptation overtook her entirely. But, no matter what, she vowed she would not sing. Not for this mysterious person who claimed to only wish to help her. She was self-conscious of herself and her talents as it was, and it frightened her a little that this person already knew, or was implied to know, this much about her.

Fingers trembling, she took hold of the quill, carefully dipped into the ink, and scribbled back onto the now-blank paper:

Assuming you are the same person who has previously written to me regarding my friends…

Under normal circumstances, in no way would I ever trust you– especially considering how you somehow planted your letter, ink, and quill on my desk without my brother or I being aware of it. Nevertheless, you are right about one thing: I have never trusted Junk Collectors, nor do I wish to be associated with them. I would never want to be associated with something or someone who is out to hurt others and wrench away their friends from one another. 

She hesitated, watching the words form slowly on the parchment, then continued,

As you have implied to know a good deal about me, which I also would like to question how this may be the case, you should also know that I am a very cautious person. Trust is not something I would so easily hand over to anyone, particularly if my trust in someone close to me was just broken. If you actually care one wit about me, and are willing to prove yourself trustworthy and a valuable ally to me, then say so and prove it. 

She stopped, allowing the paper to drift down lazily onto her desk. On top of the decoder. Her irritation at it flared to life again, but just when she was about to smack it out of the way, the quill positioned neatly in her right hand began to WIGGLE. Squirm, just like a worm. She was so startled she released it, and the entity took on a life of its own, fluttering gracefully over to the light switch, and engulfing her in darkness once more.

“Hey! What giv–” Her sentence was cut short. The parchment’s words– this time, HER words– glowed, only with a lovely blue-green hue. They seemed to settle in and dissolve into the paper, being absorbed. Three seconds passed, then suddenly, words reappeared in the same reddish-orange candlelight as before– but appeared as though they were being written by an invisible hand. 

Wren felt a subtle sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, wondering if this was how it felt to be writing in Tom Riddle’s diary. With the kind of luck she was experiencing lately, it would come as no surprise to her. Maybe it would be better if she tossed this whole idea out the window, and tried to find her friends on her own, again. But then…

She felt a light brush against her jawline; the quill that had too taken on a mind of its own. Gently caressing her cheek in a forward position, like it wanted her to read the words being written to her, in front of her. She paused, wondering if this really was the best idea for the situation, but at the feather’s insistence, she reluctantly seated herself to at least read the respondent’s reply:

I am most indebted to  and grateful for your reply. After all those hours, I was beginning to think you had turned your back on my offer, and thus, on a generous opportunity to rescue those you love. I know that you are grief-ridden at this time, and, should you insist on being left alone, I should only too gladly comply; your wish is my command. 

That being said, you indeed have a right to be cautious, as much as you have a right to be frugal with your trust. I would not respect your persona if it were not for your wariness, your intelligence, your dedication and determination. I deeply admire all these things about you. But, by the same token, you must respect my ability to inquire. You do not have to answer, of course, but I would very much like you to. Should you choose to do so, I will in turn forego other means of retrieving such information. This way, we can get to know one another better, and I’ll know how to best help you. I would like to even become friends, if you would like. I can fill the gap left by the ones who have abandoned you for lesser things, if you so desire it. I also know you to be confused, as bright as you are, and in terrible need of enlightenment, knowledge, information– especially on those you call friends. Here, I can help you. Ask any question; it shall be answered. My sole purpose to help you fulfill yours. 

The words began to fade once more, into faint, glowing embers. Wren could feel the quill’s feather lightly sweep along the back of her neck. She almost jumped out of her seat; the touch felt synonymous with long, gentle human fingers.

But when she spun around, the quill had vanished. When she spun back, she saw, in the fast-dimming light, it lay obediently next to its paired partner.

She decided, for the first time in her life, to sleep with a nightlight on that night.

_______________________

Image Credit: https://www.gothicat-world.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=6600&start=260

The Deceiver {Part 3}

The Deceiver {Part 3}

It had been nearly an hour before Guy had felt better, socking his pillow repeatedly. Why, God? Why separate me from Wren? Isn’t it clear she needs a friend? She’s all by herself, and those jerks… and Creedy… He landed one last blow into his pillow. He thought he heard a seam rip at impact, but didn’t care, collapsing. He didn’t know why they were doing this to them, if only perhaps out of spite. But hadn’t Creedy dragged those kids away to his office that day? Guy shook his head in exasperation and confusion. Nothing made sense anymore.

Suddenly, there was a quiet knocking against the side of his wall. Kodi. Guy knew it could be none other, because their rooms were side-by-side. “Guy,” he heard Kodi say, “What’s the matter? What did the old goat say?”

Guy flopped on his back carelessly. “Oh, what else? I’m in trouble for something I didn’t even DO.” He barked out a harsh laugh. “Wanna know the best part? Dad and my vice principal are personally seeing to it that our Junk Collecting trio is broken up– maybe for good.”

Silence on Kodi’s end. Then…

“Um, I don’t mean to sound nosy, but why–?”

“Because apparently Wren is a “bad influence” on me, and Dad doesn’t think I should spend any more time with her. Probably thinks I’m head over heels or something.” He groaned suddenly at the realization, facepalming himself with the pillow he’d socked earlier. WHY did I not think of that? The extra impact was more than the worn feather pillow could take, and soon the white fluff surrounded Guy; feathers cascaded down around him like angelic feathers from heaven. He groaned again, louder this time. Great. So now I have a PHYSICAL mess to deal with, too. He started to get up, picking up feathers disdainfully, when Kodi said, “It probably doesn’t help much that you sound like a cow in labor each time you make that noise.”

“Hush it,” growled Guy softly, restuffing his pillow, “or I won’t let you in on the talk with Mikey.” He knew that sounded childish, but at this rate, he didn’t care. As he stuffed another fistful inside, Kodi spoke again, “When you’re done in there, would you mind giving me a bit of a hand?” THAT made him stop. “What did you do?” Guy asked suspiciously.

“I-er… nothing really,” Kodi actually sounded nervous now. Kodi, of all people. Nervous. Guy sighed, lifting off from his knees to his feet. “OK, let’s take a look at the damage.” He walked out of his room and took a step towards Kodi’s.

“Um, Guy?” Kodi’s tone made Guy’s hand hesitate above the doorknob. “Yeah?”

“When you come in, you’d better bring with you the biggest wad of tissue or the biggest flyswatter that we have.”

&&&&&&&&&&

Wren was curled up into a fetal position on her mussed bed, weakened from lack of activity and from not eating. She hadn’t been to school days after the incident, but she no longer cared. What good was school anymore? Or in fact, life in general? Her dearest friends had been stolen from her, right beneath her nose, and she had no way to even know if they were even alive, much less a way to contact them if they were. The thought of her helplessness, and the fact that she’d just had an extra, unexpected burden added to her load only numbed her with pain all the more.

She’d even considered, a few times, just wrenching open the bedroom window and flinging herself out, letting the weight of her body, her helplessness, carry her down, down, down… until SMASH. It would be over, she would be free of the emotional, the physical pain. It seemed incredibly tempting to her, even now. And yet…

There was a small spark buried deep within her being, within her soul, that refused to be smothered. That would not, could not, go out. The spark of the will to live another day. Even if that meant hauling her tired, moody, haggard body out for another lousy day. The flare of determination. She WOULD learn what had become of them, even if it killed her. The ember of… something else. She didn’t quite know how else to describe it, only that she felt a strong desire from someone else that she should live, and not die. And certainly not act like she was dying on a daily basis, like she had nothing to live for. 

She lifted up her heavy head, bed-mussed hair falling carelessly in her eyes, sneaking a glimpse at the decoder Guy and Kodi had left her from Mikey and the JC, on her desk. She hadn’t touched it, and it was beginning to gather dust. She detested the idea of even associating with anything to do with the JC, let alone become something like him; sudden anger seized her gut. She rose quicker than she had thought she was capable of, and the effort made her head and vision swim with dizziness. She instinctively shot out both arms on either side of her, to steady herself, and, taking a breath to try to ease away the remaining dizziness, lifted off the bed and towards the device. It looked like some kind of glorified magnifying glass, attached to something that looked similar to a calculator. Only with a jumble letters, symbols, and numbers, rather than just numbers and symbols. Wren glared at the device. Its inventor, likely the JC himself, had been the cause of at least half her misery. It was time that it, along with any ambitions with JC might have had for the likes of her, were shattered into a thousand piece. She seized a nearby paperweight, gripped it tightly, and was in the process of bringing it down when… a flicker of light caught her eye.

She blinked in the near-darkness of her “cave”. The device’s delicate glass and metal frame played with the sunlight that had bravely snaked through her tightly shut blinds, gleaming a few small light spots off her wall. A physical light in the physical darkness.

How could she know even where to aim the paper weight if she couldn’t even see properly? The darkness had tricked her; she had thought her eyes had adjusted, but they had not. She fumbled around her desk for her desk lamp, only for her fingers to grasp hold of something very un-cord-like. Some flat, thin. Paper, but none quite like she’d felt before. This paper was silky smooth to the touch, almost a reassuring feel. She tugged at it, curiosity overtaking her suddenly; it felt weighted down by something, and with a shove, she released the paper scrap from its captor. There was a crash, and she realized she had shoved her desk lamp off its perch. She swore silently, fumbling partly with the paper, partly with finding another light switch.

Suddenly, the paper felt warm. Very warm. Her gaze flickered downward, and a gasp escaped her lips. Words, burning bright in the darkness, were clearly visible. They were flickering, luminescent words, so beautifully mesmerizing and unusual she could not remove her eyes from the scrap. Sitting down, she eyed what message the symbols, the letters, carried.

“Wren,

I am going to tell you this only once. Those you have aligned yourself with are not going to help you at all, you or the loved ones you seek. In fact, if they do not hinder your efforts, they will likely abandon you. I am telling you this as a friend. If you want to find the ones you love, you only need to respond back to me. I promise to help you; make no mistake, I will get you not only the answers you seek, but your friends back. You can reply by either writing back in the special ink in your desk drawer on this paper, or creating a song that expresses your true feelings about your predicament, as we both know them to be, and singing it only so the two of us can hear. I care about you, Wren, and am willing to wait, but I will give you 48 hours to respond. If you do not, I will assume you do not care what happens, and have thereby rejected my offer of further assistance. I wish you only well.”

The note was mysteriously unsigned, but Wren stared at it, a sense of deja vu washing over her, rolling her gut. Could it be the person who–? The other mysterious note immediately sprang to mind. She shook the cobwebs from her hazy mind to clear it, and reached up to flick on the lights. The light flooded her room, filled her vision, and was such a change in atmosphere that it gave her a terrible, throbbing headache. The words on the page had vanished the very instant the light came on, as if they agreed with her pain; she was tempted to switch the lights back off again, so she could reread the words– the small, yet soothing, consolation that they brought her. Someone was willing to help her, yes. Did they have their own agenda, as Guy, the JC, and perhaps even Kodi have, she did not know. But they were willing to help her, regardless, unlike the latters.

All she knew was that she could not write in the dark, and she likely had less than 48 hours to answer the strange letter’s call.

********

Guy cracked open Kodi’s bedroom door ever so slightly, baseball bat leveled at his shoulder. “Kodi, for your own sake, please tell me the flyswatter and tissue comment was a jok–” He stopped cold.

Kodi’s room was laced with behemoth webbing, along the walls and tucked into corners. Kodi smiled weakly from the right-hand wall, plastered directly above his bed. His paintbrush was clutched tightly in his small fist. “Guess you could say I got a bit carried away with my art,” he whispered. “At first, I painted a garden, but then, stupid me, I thought to myself, “Well, gardens have to have bugs, don’t they? And if not bugs, why not arachnids?” ” He wiggled, as though trying to loosen the threads around his right arm. “THEN I thought, “Well, if we need to eventually battle the Shadow Six, we might as well come up with something good and dangerous–“”

“… And let it loose to play “Hide and Go Hunt the Kid” in your room? You’re right; utterly brilliant.” Guy carefully creaked the door open a smidge further,eyes continually scanning the room for any disturbingly crawly intruder. “Um, Guy?” Kodi’s warning came just as a single, massive, hairy gray leg wrapped around the edges of the door frame. Guy froze; his fingers were only inches away.

The good news was, the beast was likely a bit smaller than Shelob, and thus probably a bit easier to kill.

The bad news was, Kodi had a pest in his room, and no way to call the exterminator. And Guy was no Frodo.

Guy swallowed, shrinking away slowly from the clawed leg. Fortunately, or perhaps not so fortunately, the leg also retracted ever so slightly, and Guy felt heavy-bodied movement on the other side of the door. Its entire body weight shifted, affording Guy a revolting peek at the beast’s underside. But before he even had a thought of cracking the baseball bat down its middle, or forcing the door open so it would be wide enough, the most leviathan spider Guy ever had the displeasure of viewing rapidly crept past him, not even seeing him, having eyes only on Kodi. It was perhaps thrice the size of an average goliath bird-eating spider, Guy guessed, although it looked more like a supersized wolf spider than anything else.The only thing that made him hesitate to call it a wolf spider, size aside, was that he knew wolf spiders didn’t spin webs– they chased and hunted prey down, just like their namesakes. Guy briefly wondered if Kodi decided to paint it as a half-breed. Its mandibles clicked in a way that seemed to suggest hunger or territoriality, but Guy decided he didn’t want to wait to find out which.

He lunged, forcing the door open the rest of the way open with a sudden yell, bat aimed and ready. The creature leapt up, startled, and initially darted back with surprising speed– front legs raised in a warning defensive position. It would attack if he got any closer. “Guy,” said Kodi weakly, “get… my… sketchbook…”

Guy tried to keep one eye on the quarter-sized Aragog, and the other out for Kodi’s sketchbook; at one point, he must have taken a step too close, because it lunged at him, mandibles clicking and purring hurriedly. He took a swing  at it, landing squarely on its face as he dodged; it screeched in fury and pain, tumbling blindly after him. In the tumult, the bat slipped from his grasp, and was promptly crushed in two by the creature’s muscular, small-log sized leg.

“The chair!” screamed Kodi. “Pick up the chair and gouge its eyes out! Bash out its brains! DO SOMETHING!” This was only the second time Guy had seen Kodi lose it, and he had every right.

Groping behind him, Guy felt nothing but clumps of webbing and a foreboding sense of horror and hopelessness; the behemoth arachnid was closing in on him, poised and ready for the kill.

It was then Guy’s groping hands found something solid to fight with. Wood.

The spider tore in at him; Guy barely evaded, held up by all its entanglements, but to a degree of success– in its haste, the monster had managed to become ensnared in its own trap, howling in agony and frustration.

Guy took his chance before the thing could claw its way loose. Gripping the desk chair firmly with both hands, he brought it down onto the creature’s skull. It howled again, writhing in pain.

“Boys?”

Dad. 

Panic gripped at both his throat and his chest. No. Not now, of all times. The giant arachnid began to rise once more, and, knowing he likely wouldn’t get another chance, brought down the final, secondary blow. A sickening WHUD resounded as the two objects made contact, and the instant the monster’s gargantuan head hit the floor, it dissolved– into a mix of gray, black, white and now red paint. Guy took a step back, astonished. Where Mr. Crawly once lay was a spider-corpse shaped puddle of mixed paints, and all around him, where there used to be cobwebs, splatters of gray and white paint. Panting, Guy turned his stare on Kodi, who was likewise covered in paint and had fallen onto the bed almost gracefully as soon as the beast had been slain. “Next time you do that, try to paint or draw something up that DOESN’T try to kill us, ok?”

“Yeah, well, I’ll keep butterflies and smiley faces in mind when the good versus evil showdown happens,” Kodi returned, looking down at himself. “Nothing a little laundry detergent can’t handle.”

“Dude, Dad is going to KILL you– scratch that, probably us both– when he sees all this.” Guy gestured around the room. “Think insurance will pay for the cleaning bill and two sudden deaths in the family?”

“Real funny.” Kodi moved in great strides now, reaching the door before Guy could and locking it tight. “Not if he doesn’t see it first. We can always clean up later.”

“How soon is “later”? Before Dad comes to tuck you in at night?”

“Since when is the old man a sentimental type? Besides, I have it handled.”

“That’s not what you told me a half-hour ago. By the way, you’re welcome, damsel in distress.”

Kodi snorted. “On a subject change, you wouldn’t happen to have that holo-thing on you, would you? We still need to talk to Mikey.”

Guy opened his mouth to answer that that was besides the point, when a loud pounding interrupted, making them both jump. “Boys? What’s going on in there?”

got you outta your mess,” Guy hissed to Kodi under his breath, “you owe me.”

Kodi hesitated, then called back, “Just a little art project for a community service report.” He winked playfully at Guy, who silently facepalmed. “We’re cleaning up now; Guy’s been helping me with it. Nothing to worry about, old man.”

“I see.” Guy heard a pause on the other side of the door. “Community service, eh? That’s my boy. Guy could learn a thing or two from something like that. Good for you for making him help you.” Guy wanted to shake Kodi’s sly little grin off his clever mug.There were times his adopted younger brother could drive him off a cliff into molten lava. “Guy? Take notes. Maybe you could start volunteering your time at a community center or charity instead of hanging around with the wrong crowd.”

“I’ll look into it; thanks, Pops,” said Guy through clenched teeth.

“We’re really busy cleaning,” Kodi quickly intervened, getting down on his knees and sketching up a bucket of soapy water, rags, scrub brushes, mops– the whole nine yards. Guy watched in shock as each item peeled away from the paper, and, rising up, solidified into the real thing. Then another thought occurred to him. “Oh no you don’t,” he whispered, grabbing Kodi’s skinny little wrist to halt him, “the LAST thing we need is to clean up more paint.”

“Everything alright in there?”

“Fine, old man. Just cleaning, not to worry.” They waited until Dad’s footsteps started to retreat, along with, “Well, ok, if you two need anything…” before Kodi angrily freed his wrist. “I’m just trying to make this go faster. And in case you didn’t notice, THESE ones are made solely out of pencil lead.”

“So we’ll be cleaning up lead instead of paint, by the time we’re done scrubbing the walls.”

“No, genius,” Kodi retorted, “watch.” Taking in his hand what looked to be a giant eraser, he rubbed at one of the freshly-come-to-life rags until it had vanished. “See? Now, watch… it’s real water.” Kodi proceeded to dip his hand into the bucket, pulling it out wet and sudsy.

“Ok, so what happens when we erase all our cleaning materials that we used to get the paint off? Won’t we just get pencil lead instead of paint, where the water used to be?”

“Not if the water evaporates first.”

“You make it sound like this isn’t the first time you’ve attempted something like this.”

“What makes you think I haven’t?”

############

After spending a half hour coaxing then coaching Guy on how to properly scrub off the paint while letting the lead-turned-water evaporate, Kodi was so wiped out he almost collapsed after they were finished. Cleaning up alone had taken nearly two whole hours, but he was pretty sure it looked the same as before the disaster had struck. The old man would never notice.

The thing that worried Kodi now, however, was that if someone like Guy could take down a gigantic cross-breed of a wolf spider and a Sydney funnel web, then how much sooner could someone– or something– like the Shadow Six take down one of his creations? He probably didn’t stand a chance against all their experience. The thought made him start.

Wait a minute…. If I JUST heard about these… whoever they are… HOW in blazes do I KNOW they’re experienced? That they’re THAT good? He shivered with dread. He had long dreamt that, perhaps, what had happened to him to make him forget, all those years ago,was that he was on a family picnic in the woods, with a loving family, and something had happened. He’d hit his head, or… something. Something to make him forget, something to forget. Something to make the ones who had loved him, and the love he had once reciprocated, all be wiped from his memory, blanker than a fresh chalkboard. But now, something unbidden and horrible, a terrible possibility, a hostile suggestion, had seeped its way into his mind: What if THEY’RE somehow connected? Kodi shut his eyes tightly. Was it something I even WANTED to remember? Part of him was curious, the other part, repulsed. Yet all throughout his being a warning rang out, to not do as Wren had done, and put personal feelings, personal missions, out in front of more imperative ones.

He came to his senses when Guy gently nudged his shoulder. “Hey, it’s time.” Kodi stared at him for a full thirty seconds when his young mind finally registered: It’s time to contact Mikey. 

And time for some real answers.

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Image Credit: https://za.pinterest.com/explore/tarantula-facts/

 

The Deceiver {Part 2}

The Deceiver {Part 2}

Author’s Note: A Christmas and New Year’s Surprise for you guys. Since I have all this free time, I’m going to be working on this story more frequently; I hope to get at least 3 more parts out before I head back on the 8th. (No promises, though…) This means more of the Junk Collecting trio, more of the Shadows, and a story that will, with every fiber my my being that I hope, not only enthrall and entertain you, but make you think and ponder. I hope you all had a blessedly merry Christmas, and have a terrific New Year. Here’s to 2017!

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Kodi stared up at this pretty young girl with long, silky black hair, slanted brown eyes, and reddish skin. “What d’ya mean?” He eyed her; she fidgeted slightly, gaze shifting towards the ground. “N-Nothing,” she said quickly. “It’s just…” she lowered her already soft voice, so much that Kodi had to lean in to hear her. “It’s too dangerous around here. You need to be careful, is all.”

Kodi’s eyebrows shot up in astonishment. “Wait a minute… Are you like me, then? Are you another one of…you know… another Junk Co–”

“What are you doing?” a saucy-sounding boy’s voice broke out. “You know better to be talking with the likes of ordinaries, don’t you?”

The girl swung about, silky black locks splashing elegantly against her small shoulders. “I-I was just greeting him,” she said rather halfheartedly. The boy, lean and lanky (not looking much older than Kodi himself– Kodi guessed him to be around 13), impatiently snorted, blowing his shaggy blonde bangs that dangled from the back of a baseball cap out of the way. “Whatever. Just don’t go gettin’ all nice and cozy.” It sounded like a warning. The girl nodded.

“C’mon, girlie– they’re waiting for us.” The boy eased his backpack more fully onto his shoulder, then shuffled over menacingly to Kodi. Kodi cautiously backed up. “As for you… don’t ever think about talking to her again.”

“Why? She your girlfriend? If that’s the case, and you’re just paranoid, sur–” The kid slammed Kodi into a locker behind them. “She’s… not… my… girlfriend…” he hissed through clenched teeth. Kodi smelled mint gum on his breath. “OK, OK, we’re cool, we’re cool,” said Kodi, pulling his arms up in surrender. The kid relaxed his grip, letting Kodi slide to the floor before walking off, though not before shooting Kodi a nasty glare.

The girl shot him one last saddened look before leaving with the jerk: “It was nice seeing you…”

“Yeah,” Kodi said softly, rubbing his pained wrists, “you too.” He watched as the odd twosome walked down the hall together, the boy muttering something inaudible to the girl, and the girl mutely nodding assent. He wondered who they were. Why DID the girl say, “It was nice seeing you,” rather than, “It was nice to meet you,”? Was she trying to imply something? He couldn’t recollect if he’d ever met her before, but something about her had seemed a tad… familiar. Were they Junk Collectors, as he was? The girl had, after all, tried to warn him. Would not an ally, a comrade, try to do such a thing?

The boy, on the other hand…. Kodi’s nose wrinkled in distaste. He hadn’t the foggiest why someone as nice as the girl would hang out with someone like that kid, unless she’d been bullied into it. Which was more than likely, he realized, recalling how timid she’d behaved. As if she was almost… frightened to be seen speaking with Kodi, even in a fairly empty hallway, away from prying eyes. What thoughts were lurking behind that startlingly pretty, yet fearful, young face? What was “an ordinary”? What secrets, what danger did she know that he did not? The idea made his skin prickle like a chicken’s uneven flesh.

“You OK, Romeo?” said Guy’s voice from behind him. Kodi nearly jumped three feet in the air. “Perfectly peachy, considering you’re the one who nearly gave me the heart attack.”

“What was that all about?”

“Wish I knew.”

“Who were they?”

“Just some kids from school, I’d guess. Kids from the middle school, specifically, I think. I don’t know a lot of the kids from that area personally.”

“Why’re you rubbing your wrist? They didn’t hurt you, did they?”

“Nah– and if they tried, I’d just whip out some “mad artist skills” on ’em.”

“Very funny. Speaking of which, I need to talk to you about something.”

“Wren too?”

A pause. “Wren’s… not feeling up to the task, lately,” Guy offered rather lamely. “You know how girls are. Complicated and stuff.”

” “Complicated”? Or just “stuff”? She just lost what she thought was her only way to finding her two best friends. Without that info, she must feel really lost. Like she doesn’t know where to turn next.”

“I know,” said Guy, “and not to be insensitive or anything, but we still have a job to do. The job the old guy gave us on his deathbed. It wouldn’t be right not to honor his death wish, would it?”

Kodi shrugged. “I guess. But Wren–”

“Look, if the original Junk Collector knew something, which we know he did, maybe he knew we’d figure it out ourselves or something by just being Junk Collectors and doing whatever it is Junk Collectors do.” Kodi’s shoulders slumped. Guy  wrapped an arm around his shoulders as they walked. “She’ll come around, I’m sure.”

They rounded the hall together. “Do you wanna go over what I’ve found now, or…”

Kodi cocked an eyebrow at him.”Why are you asking me?”

“Um, because the Junk Collector nominated you our team’s Adviser?”

“Very funny,” said Kodi, play-socking him in the arm. “Yeah, can’t really forget that. So what’d you learn?”

Guy pushed open the middle school’s front door. “I learned that Junk Collectors need to be resourceful.”

Kodi rolled his eyes. “Ya don’t say.”

“No, it’s more than just that.” Guy clopped down the stairs, feet thunking loudly against the cold gray steps. “The original JC wanted us to be able to fix things, right?” When Kodi nodded, Guy went on, “Well, what if it’s our job to also BUILD things? I mean, not just fix stuff, but build and renovate NEW stuff from the old scraps?”

“Oh? Like what?” Kodi kicked at the water as his feet waded through a puddle. It had been raining a good bit lately.

“Well, like the stuff we got from the original JC, your unique art supplies, the hair clips, and Wren’s…” he bit off the words quickly, suddenly unable to look up. Kodi, on the other hand, did. Straight at Guy. “Didn’t he say we were supposed to fix up and help people, too?” he asked softly. He saw Guy swallow. Hard. “Look, it’s NOT that I don’t want to help her– but it’s kind of hard when we also have a job to do.” He took a breath, then exhaled. “I managed to find a way to contact Mikey. Maybe he can give us more insight on what our next move should be. As far as I know, we’re just supposed to fix stuff, build stuff– but we haven’t been told what we’re going to be using it for.

Kodi’s mouth quirked in the suggestion of a subtle smirk. “Maybe they want us to be superheros or something. You know, instead of powers, we get cool gadgets that do amazing things, go off and fight bad guys, and slip back home before dinnertime, all unnoticed. Kinda like the idea of going undercover and having a secret I.D. .”

This time, Guy seemed to be the mature one. “Knock it off, will you? It’s not a game. We’re just kids, and I’m sure there’s no supervillains involved. Maybe it’s like a community work thing or something.”

Kodi snorted, perched on their farmhouse’s porch. “Yeah, sure, the original JC did community service just by lounging around home all day. I totally buy that.” He did a little spin to face Guy, dreads swishing around his face, smacking his soft cocoa cheeks. “And what about the Shadow Six?” He gestured dramatically. “You have to admit, they sound pretty… ominous. At the least. That is, if we assume they’re NOT supervillains.”

“He was an old man– and practically an invalid!” Guy sputtered. “You saw him! He couldn’t leave! And–”

“He certainly seemed well enough to set those traps up.”

“Mikey probably did that, and they made it clear to us that it wasn’t US they laid the traps for!”

“Then who DID they lay those traps for?”

There was a long, uneasy silence between them. “I don’t know,” Guy finally answered. “I don’t know if that was for the Shadow… whatever they’re called… or if it was just as a precaution.”

“You’re talking their offense pretty lightly, considering that gas or whatever nearly suffocated you.”

“Maybe it was just a precaution defensive thing, like I said– I don’t hold it against them if they didn’t really know we were there just for information.We can always ask Mikey.” They entered the house, taking the stairs two at a time to Guy’s bedroom.

“What makes you think the Shadow Six aren’t after the same thing? And like Mikey’s gonna really tell us anything. Speaking of which, have you noticed that whenever we want answers to something, people are either reluctant to give ’em, or just give us some cryptic message we need to decode?” Kodi’s mind drifted back to the girl and bully boy earlier in the school hallway. “They’re not telling everything they know, and it’s gutting me.” Guy nudged him in the ribs playfully. “That is, if our Shadowy friends don’t get you first. Better sleep with the light on tonight, eh?” Kodi scowled. “It isn’t funny. They’re real, whoever or whatever they are, and the JC and Mikey both seem to think they’re a very real threat.”

“A threat to what?”

Both boys froze on the apex on the stairs. Dad was standing below, removing his jacket and leaving on the back of a kitchen chair. “I hope you two aren’t going to be doing anything that threatens anything or anyone,” he said, “especially something like your homework.”

Kodi forced himself to relax and speak before Guy beat him to it, “Of course not, old man,” he replied. “We were just on our way to do that now, actually.” He started nudging Guy subtly, silently urging him to keep moving up to the bedrooms. “As for threatening others, why would we do something like that?”

“So you’ve been settling in better, Kodi?” Dad sounded almost relieved. “Good. That’s good. I’ve been worried that I would get a call from your principal saying you were playing hooky, or worse, a call from a parent.” He circled around the table, and for a moment Kodi feared he would try and follow them. He relaxed again when the old man simply leaned again the stair railing, arms folded, and gazing up at them. “So how’s school been?”

“Fine.” More silent nudging. Just a little more, and… “If you don’t mind, old man, Guy and I have a LOT of homework, and we can’t afford any more chatter. Call us for dinner, will ya? Thanks.” He started to go, but Dad must have sensed he was in a hurry, because he said, “Hold up, I want to talk to your brother for a minute. Guy, could you come down here, please?”

Kodi felt a sinking feeling in his gut as Guy descended slowly, one step at a time. “Go on, Kodi,” said the old man, “I’m sure you have plenty of work to catch up on, like you said.”

Kodi reluctantly turned and left, but not before giving Guy a confused, concerned look. Had the old man figured something out, or was Guy simply in trouble for something else?

He closed the door to his room, and decided it was best to paint while he waited. If nothing else, he could practice his art of making things come to life.

*********

“Sit down, Guy,” said Dad, pulling up a chair.

“OK, sounds serious,” said Guy. “What’d I do now?”

Dad frowned. “I wasn’t lying when I said Kodi hadn’t gotten in trouble at school, but you…” he shook his head. “I received three phone calls in only one day. Two of them were complaints from some well-off, evidently prominent figures in the community, saying you and some girl were bullying their kids, says there were witnesses. And that’s not all,” he added firmly when Guy opened his mouth to protest, object, anything. “The third call I received was from your vice principal, a Mr. Creedy. He tells me this girl has been acting up even worse when you came to the school, and that you’ve egged her on, helped her to bully. He strongly advised me to separate the two of you.” Dad sighed, running a calloused, worn hand through graying black-brown hair. “I don’t know what to do with you.”

“Dad, it wasn’t me,” pleaded Guy, “Those kids are the bullies, total jerks. They set us up to get in trouble. They must’ve–”

“Don’t take that tone with me, young man. It’s one thing if the parents defend their children because of their biases, but it’s another to get a call from the vice principal.” Dad bore him down with a stern, hard stare. Guy, who normally withered under such a glare, suddenly felt an unexpected boost of courage from his righteous anger. I did not do it. 

“I’m telling the truth, Dad. If this Mr. Seedy or whoever the heck he is can’t provide any kind of proof to back up what he’s telling you, then… then…” His newfound courage flickered, wavering for an instant, like a candle flame. Dad, unfortunately, saw that opening, and lunged at it. “His name, Guy Jonathan Rithers, is Mr. Creedy, and you had better respect us both, as well as any decision we make, as long as you’re under my roof.”

I did not do it. “I’m not a kid anymore, Dad.” Suddenly, he knew how Kodi felt. Always pushed around, his own voice being drowned in the sea of all those who seemingly had authority over him. But if he could somehow manage to rise above the waves… “You know me. Have I ever been the type to cause trouble? Really?”

“No,” Dad admitted. “That’s what worries me, and that’s what I told this Creedy fellow. But he’s convinced that this girl… that she befriended you, and that you fell in with her crowd, a bad influence, and now you…”

“For heaven’s sake, DAD!” Guy almost shouted, standing up so quickly the chair clattered to the linoleum. His temper had bubbled dangerously close to the surface.”She doesn’t HAVE a crowd, everyone just avoi–”

“Guy, that is ENOUGH.” The piercing glare was back– now accompanied by a finger pointing up the stairs. “Your room. Now. You’re grounded for a week for talking back to me, young man. And Mr. Creedy and all your teachers will ensure that you and this girl do not interact any more. I’m sure you can always make friends with other people, better people. I will not have my son loitering around with bad influences. Look what it’s done to you already.” He shook his head.”This discussion is over.” Dad got up, walking over to the sink to empty his coffee cup.

“You. Can’t. Make. Me.” Guy was breathing hard as he uttered the words, a cold sweat clamping down upon his brow. “I’m my own person; you may be my dad, but you can’t make all my decisions for me.”

Dad angrily spun to face his only biological child, but by the time he had, Guy had already sprinted up the stairs as fast as he could go. “Two weeks.” He resumed washing the cup.

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Image Credit: http://depositphotos.com/2371636/stock-photo-high-school-entrance.html