Ben, Willard, and Some Rambling.

The new book is coming along pretty good. I’m two stories away from having it completed. They would have been done already, but one of them twisted itself into something so much bigger and more complex than it started at as. It was supposed to be a simple black dahlia style murder mystery, but part way through, i realized i really wasn’t interested in writing that type of story. so it became something else entirely.

While I’ve been writing I’ve also been working on editing. Twelve of the Eighteen completed short stories have been edited and i’m pretty proud of them. I just need to get them done so i can move on. I have lots of ideas, and plans, it’s just hard to implement them.

Life has a way of getting in the way and making it hard to carve that much needed writing time into my day. I need to figure out a way to balance all this.

Maybe watch less movies?? Speaking of movies……

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I meant to watch Ben back in June as a double feature to Willard when I first bought the discs.  Didn’t work out though. See, I’m on medication for a medical condition that is either slowly killing me, or all in my head. Who knows. One of the side effects of this medication are occasional extremely vivid dreams.

After finishing Willard, I was oddly anxious and skittish about watching another Rat movie. So instead, I just went to bed. Now, one of the symptoms of this thing o mine, is that sometimes the electrical impulses in my body will go off and I’ll get odd sensations and pain….. Sometimes it feels like something small is chewing on my toes. Or that cat, or other furry animal is rubbing against my leg.

You can probably see where I’m going with this.

So that night, after watching Willard several things all occurred at once. I was almost asleep and my pillow started falling off my bed, it moved really slowly and with the help of gravity, started pulling the blanket off of me. I sat up in bed, convinced it was a rat gigantic black rat moving under my blanket. Needless to say, I gasped and almost fell off the bed though.

In my mind though, it wasn’t the floor, it was a writhing mass of rats. At that exact moment, because it can be exasperated by stress, as I teetered over the edge of the darkness, trying not to fall to my death, the electric impulses started going crazy in my legs and toes. I kicked in pain as it felt like a wave of rats swept over my leg and started chewing on the tips of my toes and my legs.

Trying not to cry, or wet myself, I struggle to turn on my Christmas Story Leg Lamp that sits on my bed side stand, and as the room floods with electric sex, I’m alone. Covered in sweat created by the fear of my imminent demise.

Not to spoil the story, but I lived. Rats didn’t, and still haven’t eaten me.

Since that day though, partially because of my medication, the Rat dreams keep coming back. Not every night, but just often enough. I’ll be in the middle of a Dream and a Rat will lunge out of the cupboard and I’ll wake with a gasp.

Willard is a good a movie. Deserving of six months of nightmares? I don’t know. It has a good cast and a sympathetic down on its luck lead. Ben on the other hand? Hmmm….  Hard to say. It’s not nearly as good. Worth watching to complete the two, but it goes in some odd directions.

Hopefully a second dosage of Rat horror will wipe away the trauma that Willard gave me back in June.

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Writing: Ugnatius Folly.

I started playing Dungeons and Dragons in high school. Say what you will, it’s a great creative outlet and does an amazing job at getting my creative mind working. When i’m playing i’m more creative and i write more. I’m also more confident in my writing after a game than i am before a game.

My favorite part of playing was always character and world building. I never played in a pre-made world because i preferred building my world from scratch, from the ground up. The first world i ever created was in sixth grade. I took flipped through a dictionary and stopped on a random word.

That word was THUD. So the mythic Kingdom of Thuderik was born. I honestly don’t remember a lot about that world, i do remember that it was governed by five wizards that made up the council and a sixth wizard existed that had stolen the great library and created the West Annex. The West Annex was the repository of all wisdom and knowledge in the entire kingdom. In a fun twist, the physical description of the Annex was based entirely on the home of the Gummi Bears from the old Disney show.

The first story i wrote for that world involved a young prince who was the last of his line, after all the others died tragically, who sought out the Annex so that he could use it’s knowledge to become a worthy ruler for his people. He quested not for glory or power, he quested to be a better person so he could help the people around him. .

Yes, power and glory naturally came, but that wasn’t the goal.

From that point forward, every game i ever ran was based in that kingdom, even if i didn’t call it that. Eventually, as is the case for kingdoms and worlds, that kingdom fell and a new one took it’s place.

An earlier blog i wrote gives the backstory of that new world. The story i’m about to share takes place on that new world.

I never played D&D to kill things, i played D&D for the role play portion of the game. I love creating new characters and getting into their heads. That’s why, in the game i’m currently playing, as soon as i got used to fifth edition, i made a new character, to serve as a back up.

As a player i ALWAYS had at least one back up character ready to go at any time. The first character I played in fifth edition is named Horus Blackroot. His character history is steeped in the mythology of my world and my past creations. If he passed though, i wanted to take a different direction. I wanted to break out of that history and create something wholly new. Thus Ugnatius Folly was born, Ug to his friends.

So I wrote a pretty lengthy character History that I thought i’d share here. I have some things i need to finish first, but once they are done, i’m going to take the world i wrote about earlier, and the history of Horus, and this history and put them together into something new.

Someday, the story of Ugnatius Folly and Horus Blackroots search for the Mad Dwarf will be told. But for now, this is was exists. I hope you like it, and i hope i get to play it someday.

Ugnatius Folly:

Ugnatius Folley is a 145-year-old Mountain Dwarf, born in a small mining village deep inside the fabled Empty Mountains. His home was in one of many smaller towns, each nestled inside the mountain range that contributed to a much larger Dwarven Kingdom.

The range was not always called the Empty Mountains. Legends say, it had been the richest deposit of gold and fine gems on the entire Upper Half, and the bards sing still sing songs that say the mountains reflected gold sunlight back into the skies. Armies from across the world would come and wage massive wars outside, while the Dwarfs inside tried to fight them off. The cost of keeping the invaders away and creating a standing army was more than the kingdom wanted to spend, not more than they could afford, because they could afford rather a lot, but more then they wanted to spend.  So almost a thousand years ago, Good King Gristlethorn, First, Last, and Only of his name, decided that the best way to keep people out, would be to change the name.

Thus, was born the Empty mountains.

No one was more surprised than King Gristlethorn when it actually worked. The invaders assumed they must have gone poor, and being hoarders by nature, very little gold seeped out into the world to prove them wrong. In the thousand years since the name change the mountain had been invaded less than two dozen times, and most of those were by accident thinking they were at a different range.

The Empty Mountains shut themselves off from the outside world with a blanket of perceived poverty and obscurity.  Just the way they liked it.

It is well known that the Dwarfs are not the most imaginative lot. The main city of the Empty Mountains was known as Maintown, because it was the Main Town. Most of the Gold came from Goldtown and the Silver from Silvertown. The town that Ugnatius was born in sat on top of a once prosperous Emerald mine called “Greenrock Town”.  It was called Greenrock Town, because Emeraldtown was already taken. Greenock Town It sat near the boarders of Redrock Town and was chief rivals with the stuck-up braggarts in Diamondtown, though no one in Diamondtown knew it.

Greenrock Town was well past it’s prime. While the town had never really hustled, it at least used to have a thriving bustle. It had One small shop that doubled as a post office, a town hall, a school for the children, and a constable station with three cells in the back room, one used for storage for school books and dried goods. They also had a small Inn with stables that housed the donkeys they used to help pull their carts.

The stable was also home to a strange breed of cat with silvery fur that glittered in the light and long feelers for whiskers. The breed seemed to only exist in Greenrock Town and were known as Deadgoat Cats (named after the inn, which was named after a dead goat). For a time, scholars from all over the world used to visit the inn to study these sublime looking felines, but the guards eventually got tired of it and started telling everyone at the gate the cats were dead.

In fact, the closest entrance to the mountain near Greenrock Town was called the Dead DeadGoat Cat Gate, because it had a sign on it that said, “The Deadgoat cats are dead, go away.”

The Dead Goat Inn also had a small bar and meeting area attached to it that served as the town hall and, unless you were fond of mining, the sole place of entertainment in the entire mess of a town. It was where people met, ate dinner, held their weddings, birthdays and any other gathering.

Greenrock Town was the definition of small town, and that was how most of the inhabitants liked it, and as far as they were concerned, if you don’t like it you could get the hell out. And if you didn’t want to get the Hell out, they were more than happy to show you the way out.

The town itself was a tribute to Dwarven ingenuity.

The locals built their residences into every nook, cranny and crag that the industrious lot could find. As long as they could find a place to pound in some guide bolts, and one flattish surface that could act as wall, ceiling or floor, they built their homes. If it there was a rock in the middle of the floor, they flattened it and called it a table. Some Hung off the sides of cliffs over the darkness of the depths below, dangling ready to fall through the world. Others were no larger than the average Dwarf, just enough space to crawl in and sleep with a pick axe or shovel in hand.

Really, who could ask for more?

The larger the house, the more secure the build and the older the family was. As generations went by the home grew and they added gravity defying additions, carved into the very walls, that stretched into the darkness creating rooms for wives, mother in laws, step-children and concubines.

While the Folly’s were one of the oldest family’s in the Greenrock, sadly, they were not among the richest. Once they had been a powerhouse, perhaps the most influential family only to the Bumbletoe’s, but then, a few hundred years ago or so, the town fell on a rush of bad luck.

The Emerald mines had pretty much dried up and families were moving away by the score. Ugnatius’s great great grandfather, Horatio Ugnatius Folly, had foreseen the towns misfortunes and in an attempt to turn things around made several bad investments that lead to the eventual bankrupting of not only him, but half the town.

Horatio’s plan actually made sense, which should have been the first clue they were heading towards disaster. He felt that they needed to slow down on the current mining operations so that they could stretch out their production, and begin investing money into finding new, more lucrative mines that had a greater staying power. After careful studding, he found several points throughout the mountain that he thought would yield the greatest rewards. He spent his entire life and fortune exploring those spots one by one.

Sadly, ambition and intelligence did not always go hand in hand. He hadn’t studied well as a child and made several glaring errors in his calculations causing every single one of his explorations to be just slightly off the mark. Not that anyone knew that. They just all knew that he was wrong. He died broke, his family huddled together in what amounted to a broom closet. With his last breath, he was still convinced that at least one of his spots would someday yield wealth and save the town.

His mines came to be known as Folly’s Folly.

By the time Ugnatius came around, his family name had been spoiled beyond repair The people had left the town behind to die. Less than a dozen families remained to run a mine that once held thousands, and those that remained were mostly dissidents who had been driven out of the other towns and wanted to be left alone. It had been almost a hundred years since the last Emerald had been brought before the king, and that one was barely the size of a broken walnut.

The town was almost dead, and honestly most of the people in the capital city of Maintown thought the town had already died.

Still they carried on, with that signature stalwart Dwarven never give up attitude.

Ugnatius was number eight of twelve children and grew up hearing his father tell stories of his great great grandfather and partial name Sake, Horatio Ugnatius Folly. Ugnatius’s brother was Horatio Folly the Fourth, his father the Third, his father the second and so on and so forth.

Horatio Folly the Third was cursed with a well spring of Daughters. He only had two sons, and as hard as tried, his charming wife would not let him name any of his sister Horatio Folly the Fifth and so on. Instead when Ugnatius was born, after much broken pottery they settled on Ugnatius, Horatio Folly’s middle name.

By the time Ugnatius was old enough to throw a pick axe on his own, he knew his great great grandfather’s story forward and back and was ready to enter the mines and vindicate the legacy of his name. He had spent years studying his Great Great Grandfathers notes and found the error in his calculations and was sure each one of the mines was close to yielding precious green gold.

So, on his 25th Birthday Ugnatius’s father brought him down into the depths of the mine handed him a pick axe and introduced him To Yugworth Bumbletoes, the mines new foreman.

Ugnatius knew Yugworth well, the two were the same age and went through schooling together. Being that Yugworth came from a much richer family he was entered the mine in a position of leadership, while Ugnatius was a lowly pick axe swinger.

Yug, as his friend liked to call him (Friend because he truly only had one and he didn’t even like him that much), grew up listening to Ugnatius blather on about his family and Folly’s Folly. It was a joke, but a good natured one. Everyone got along with Ug, and he got along with everyone. This irritated Yugworth to no end.  As soon as he heard that Ugnatius was entering the mine, he hatched a plan to put the hopeful starry-eyed dwarf in his place.

His plan was to give the dwarf exactly what he wanted. A chance to redeem his family name.

Yugworth lead him into the deepest parts crevice of the mine. They were so deep, they were so deep they could feel the heat from the core on the back of their heads. They climbed down knotted ropes, and crawled along ledges barely two feet wide. They walked across long stony bridges that reached through the darkness.

It took over an hour to reach their destination.

It was a small wooden platform, tied to the side of the mountain. Barely bigger than a single dwarf. It had two buckets on it, when tied to a rope that went up into the darkness that would bring him water, and the other for him to relieve himself in (unless he wanted to just go off the side of the world. The platform was held to the side of the mountain by a series of ropes and wooden planks. Another brilliant example of dwarven engineering.

Still though, nothing about it looked or felt safe. It even swayed slightly from side to side from the breeze below. Yugworth climbed on it, jumped up and down a few times to make sure it would hold, then he took a piece of chalk out of his pocket, and made a big X on the wall. With a smile, he pointed at the wall and exclaimed….

“Dig.”

And Dig Ugnatius did. For 63 years and eight pick axes, he stuck that wall and dug deeper and deeper creating a mighty tunnel around him. Each day he climbed down the rope ladder and crawled across the tumbling bridged. Each day he feared for his life more times than he cared to admit.

Slowly, as the rest of the mine continued to dry up, the rest of the workers moved closer and closer to him. The rope became a ramshackle elevator and the bridges were given guide ropes. Planks were used to extend the walk ways and even a house or two sprung up so people wouldn’t have to walk as far. The residence jokingly called it Dirt Town because that was all they ever found.

He had dug his hole so long that someone had painted his name over it, Ugnatius Folly, and they all joked that he should make it his new home. The tunnel was wide now, and two Dwarfs could walk side by side. Still though, he kept digging. He would dig forever if he had to.

Finally, a week and a half after his eighty-eight birthday, still very young for a long lived dwarf, He cracked his pick axe against the wall and heard a rumble. The whole wall began to shake. His hands began to quake with the wall. He knew something important was about to happen. He pulled back the Pick Axe, and threw it against the wall one last time!

Much to his surprise, instead of just a crack, or a hole, the entire end of the cavern fell away reveling a cave! As soon as his light hit the cave it came to life with a beautiful green glow! He had found it, he had found the emerald vein his great grandfather had died looking for! A tear sprung to his eye as he walked into the cavern. Sitting in the middle on the floor, he picked up the biggest emerald anyone had ever seen in their life. It took both hands to lift it and he was still barely able to!

With tears in his eyes he stumbled from the cavern, calling for someone, anyone to come help him. As the other Dwarfs came out of their own cracks and crevices they began to cheer. The people in Greenrock town knew something was happening, even before Ugnatius came rolling the rock into town in a wheel barrow, his grin almost as bright as the rock. The noise proceeded him. The cheers of his fellow dwarf. There was enough Emerald in that cave…. He had saved the town.

His father beamed at him with pride.

The commotion drew attention of course. Yugworth Bumbletoes and some of the other dignitaries gathered around, congratulating the boy and glad handing him. Yugworth was quick to point out that it had been his idea to have the boy start digging in that spot in the first place. Quickly the tide shifted and they commented on Yugworths forethought and planning. And on how he may get a promotion out of the whole thing. Within minutes they turned their back on the Ugnatius, wheeling his emerald with them.

“What about me?” Ugnatius called out to them.

Yugworth looked back with a sneer and looked the dirty miner up and down. He laughed to himself as walked over to the wall, pulled out a piece of white chalk and made a giant x.

“Dig.” He spat the word at Ugnatius feet as the other people around began to laugh.

Yugworth got three steps in before Ugnatius charged at him and tried to split his head open with the pick axe. Yug, moved at just the right time or he would have been killed. It took three men to pull Ugnatius down.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Ugnatius Panted. “I got a little carried away.”

One of the men took the pick axe away from him and another called for the guards. They loosened up their grip just long enough for Ugnatius to pull away again and charge at Yugworth knocking him to the floor so hard he came out of his shoes. Ugnatius began to scream at the top of his lungs as he picked one up and beat his foreman bloody with his own shoe.

When the guards finally dragged him off, very little of Bubletoes nose still existed and he had lost one eye. Also at some point Ugnatius managed to bite off one of Yugworths pinky finger and spit it into the dirt.

Yugworth only ever got one strike in, but it was a good one. One hand came up and scratched at Ugnatius face, leaving four long scars that started in his forehead, split his eyebrows, continued down his cheeks before finally coming to rest somewhere in the darkness of his shiny auburn beard.

Even as they dragged him away, Ugnatius still kept trying to get back to his former classmate, 63 years of frustration begging to come out. Finally, one of the guards struck him with the hilt of an axe, knocking him unconscious. The last thing he saw before he went out was the sight of his mother hanging her head in shame, and his father jumping up and down cheering him on.

When he opened his eyes, he was alone in the cell in the back of the shop next to a pile of school books. Yugworth screamed for blood and tried to get Ugnatius executed, but the local magister felt that at the end of the day Ug was a good kid, who was handed a rough lot. He figured if he had been made fun of for eighty-eight years, he might have tried to beat someone with their own shoe as well.

Still, the law is the law and you can’t go around beating people with shoes, so he was given twelve years. Twelve years to sit in the cell by himself. It wasn’t all bad though. He had managed to become rather a folk hero around town. The town was slowly growing rich again and the people that mattered knew who was to thank. People came and talked to him, and he got along rather nicely with the innkeeper’s daughter who brought him food every so often.

They didn’t even bother to lock the cell most of the time. He had brought in a bed and some books, it was rather lovely. It was almost like he was on vacation. He read, worked on his education, but each year, as he got closer and closer to that twelve-year mark, it got harder and harder to deal with. That thought of going back to that hole and starting over again.

That big white X was an itch in the back of his head that he just couldn’t scratch.

He was fairly certain he was going to end up beating someone with a shoe again, only this time the results wouldn’t turn out in his favor. Nine years into his sentence though, he got a reprieve in the form of a cell mate. At first the new comer was quiet, kept to himself. It was a large half orc that everyone called Ugly. They didn’t call him Ugly because he was, really, he was rather handsome. Thick dark hair, greyish skin, deep thoughtful brown eyes. High cheek bones and a chiseled jaw.

They called him Ugly because that was his name. It was given to him by his mother, by human standards he may have been handsome, but by Orc standards? Not so much. Unable to stand the look of him, his mother, whom was an Orc Warlord of some minor fame having after several successful raids in the Dark Sands, sold him to an obscure monastery for a Dead goat, some cooking oil and a broken axe.

Both parties felt they got the better side of the deal.

The two quickly became friends, sitting alone in their cells talking back and forth. Ug and Ugly, it’s like they were meant to be. It was during this time that Ugly began to slowly introduce the Dwarf to the order of Xoas, an order dedicated to spreading and promoting peace throughout the realms.

The Order was started long ago by a venerable pit fighter known only as Xoas. The historians believed that this is not his true name, but whatever his true name is, it has been lost to the sands of time. The story though says that Xoas tired of fighting for the game of others, and decided to fight his own fight. To wage his own war, a war for peace. Legend says that Xoas left the pits and travelled the world building the fundamental tenants of the Xoaist order.

The Xoaist order is an order of Anarchists by nature. They believe that government is the ultimate enemy of peace. They don’t move against any government overtly, but they do work to subvert the people through violent enlightenment and peaceful chaos. They believe that true peace can only be achieved by the masses. Power corrupts, and no power corrupts more than power over others.

Long ago Xoas learned that the road to peace is paved with Chaos and Violence, the only way to truly reach peace, is through Chaos and Violence. Chaos to Peace, Peach Through Violence. The mantra of the Xoaist Order. They will shed as much blood as necessary and take as many sacrifices as needed to reach peace. He understood that the road to peace is never ending, but a journey without end was still worth walking.

Violence is serious business, and is a grim responsibility that the true Xoaist takes pleasure in spreading. Not all violence needs lead to death, but a dead man can no longer object. The Xoaist has a conscious and strong moral center. Violence can still be sport though if the end goal is strong, the Xoaist is the first to throw punches after a long hard night of Drinking.

Chaos though, the road Chaos is lighter hearted in nature. The Xoaist will not go into a town and kill the leader who has done nothing wrong to liberate the people. They will though go into a town and circulate rumors of impurity with farm animals on that leader’s behalf to destabilize his power and move the power back into the hands of the people.

If that leader though has proven wicked, the Xoasit has no qualms about placing their holy object between said leaders head again and again until said leader’s brains have been reduced to a strawberry mush.

Every Xoaist Monk is equal as they don’t believe in ranks. While it is true that some Monks words carry more weight than others, especially the words of the teachers, but every teacher is a student and every student is a teacher. The order stands shoulder to shoulder as equals, all with the same say.

The main weapon of the Xoasit is their fists and body. Still though, each Xoaist carry the holy weapons and the holy garb passed down from the great Xoas.

The holy weapons of the Xoaist are twofold. The main weapon is the three-sided flat Mace of Steel branded with the holy X on the business side. The Mace was the weapon Xoas used as a pit fighter and the first instrument when he started to spread peace throughout the world.

The second holy weapon is the simple Dart. A beggar’s game found in any place where travelers gather to break bread and consume alcohol. It’s used to remind the Xoaist that while it’s charge can be grim, one must always take the time to enjoy the simpler things. It is also said that the impetus for the movement sprung from a long night of drinking and throwing Darts.

Hence the large amounts of alcohol consumed in the temples revelries.

A good life is a peaceful life.

Chaos to Peace, Peach Through Violence

At the ten-year mark, with still two years in his sentence left, Ugnatius Folly left his home and family behind. In the middle of the night he walked out of the cell that had become his home and travelled to the other side of the world with his new-found brother Ugly to join the Monasterial Order of the Brotherhood of Xoas.

Ugnatius spent the next fifty years of his life learning the ways of peace through violence before starting out on his pilgrimage. The order is small. The chance of toppling any governments or any real change was slim, but it was with great glee that Ugnatius dedicated himself to becoming a sliver in the thumb of evil and injustice.

It was almost a full month before anyone in Greenrock Town realized he was gone. He has yet to return to his home, but he still sends stories of his travels and what he can back to his mother, even though unbeknownst to him his family is now the wealthiest family in all the Empty Mountains and have taken up residence in Maintown itself.

To this day no guard has been sent to force him to return to finish his sentence, instead they sing songs about his exploits and toast him in his absence. Maybe someday he will return, but for now he has his Quest, his Quest for Peace.

Chaos to Peace.

Peach through Violence.

 

 

 

Top Ten Discoveries of 2017

Top Ten Discoveries of 2017.

This is not a top ten list of movies that came out in 2017. This is a top ten list of films I discovered in 2017. To make this list it had to have come out before 2017 and be something I had never seen before.

10. Darling (2015) – Darling is easily the newest movie on this list, being the only one made in this millennia. It’s a very simple film with very little dialogue. I went into this knowing exactly nothing about the story, other than it was about a young girl who had taken a job house sitting. So in my mind, that’s the best way to go into Darling. Knowing as little as possible. It’s more of a slow burn horror as we really just sit back and watch this girl go through her life. It’s black and white and perfectly suited for it’s 78 minute running time. I’m not usually a “Under 90 minutes” guy. I like a movie to be as long as it needs to be to tell the story, and 78 minutes was perfect for this film.

9. Deadtime Stories (1987) – Deadtime Stories, it just isn’t a good movie. The effects are terrible, the acting is just bad, and the stories have no logic what so ever to them. None of that stopped me from watching it again and buying the damn soundtrack and listening to it over and over again. Something about this badly put together mess of a film, I just found so delightfully charming and fun. It has a fun frenetic feel that just captivated me from the get go. The last story, a play on Goldilocks and the Three Bears, is easily the most off the wall and fun portion of the entire movie.

8. Slaughter House (1987) – I am a child of the 80’s. I cut my teeth on Friday the 13th and Texas Chain Saw Massacre and the ilk. That’s why this movie made the list. It’s a crime that this was the only time we ever got to see Buddy Bacon. I’m not saying that he could have been as big as those other guys, but I think he could have made a great B level Slasher star that could have made at least three or four movies. He has a fun look, a cool weapon and a great sense of humor. If I ran the world we would have at least gotten Slaughterhouse 4: Buddy In Space, and a Vonnegut penned Slaughterhouse 5.

7/6. The Mutilator (1984)/ Blood Rage (1987) – I’m including these two together because I think of them together. I found them at the same time, watched them at the same time and make people watch them back to back as a double feature… and what a stupendous double feature they make. 12-year-old me would have loved to watch these back to back and revel in the over the top insanity of it all. Off the wall 80’s slashers at their finest.

5. Pulse (1988) –Pulse came out in the late 80’s and stars Cliff De Young (fake Brad) and Joey Lawrence (WHOA!!!) and is about Killer Electricity. Yes, you read that right, Killer Electricity. Essentially a weird electrical pulse is introduced into the Joey Lawrence’s dad’s house, Cliff De Young, which wants to kill everyone. It’s a preposterous set up, and honestly not really that good of villain. But that’s not why I love this film. The reason I love this film is because of the family dynamic. Much like 2017’s The Devils Candy, none of the drama comes from within the family unit. Although broken, we have a perfectly pleasant well-adjusted family unit that actually likes each other. The dad never once complains about his son, and the son never once throws the dad’s divorce in his face. It would be so easy to portray the father’s new girlfriend, as an uptight gold digger, instead she’s the first one on the kid’s side. Is a nice family, and that’s so very rare. Horror works better to me when you actually like the characters and don’t want to see bad things happen to them.

4. Society (1989) – Okay. How did I live this long without Society in my life? Such a bizarre little film. Bryan Yuzna is fantastic. The Shunting Scene alone is enough to change your life. Again, I went into this knowing nothing other than “Yuzna, Body Horror, and Shunting”. And again, I’m glad that’s all I knew. So much fun and I’m so glad I finally got to see this and own a copy. (A third of the list was released by Arrow!)

3. The Devils (1971) – It’s not often that you watch a movie for the first time and know it’s going to break your top twenty movies of all time. That happened to me twice this year. I knew Ken Russell from Lair of the White Worm and Tommy, and had always wanted to watch the Devils. It wasn’t until I started watching the film that I realized I was already familiar with the subject matter. When was a kid I read the weirdest things, and I don’t remember the name of the book, but in about eight grade or so I had read a book on Cardinal Richelieu and was fascinated by the whole story. I was so happy to finally see the story in all its gory and perverse delights that my child’s mind had remembered. As always Oliver Reed is just a force to be reckoned with here. He’s fantastic in everything and this is no different.

2. 3615 Code Pere Noel (1989) – The only thing I enjoy more than a good 80’s slasher film, is a good Christmas horror film. I don’t know if saw Santa Claus do inappropriate things to a Parent, or if good old Saint Nick killed my Dog, or if my Grandpa scared the holy hell out of me, but something made me absolutely adore and become obsessed with Christmas horror. It’s so rare to find a good Christmas horror movie and I was so lucky to find three new ones this year. Deadly Games ( as it’s also known as ) hits so many of my spots it’s like someone out in the universe wanted to make one movie that was just for me and no one else. A killer Santa movie that they play D&D in! That’s the most me thing ever! Even though it came out a year before Home Alone, the film is essentially a realistic take on that movie. We have a young rich French boy mostly home alone while a creepy Santa Killer is trying to get in and kill him and maybe molest him? The kid sets traps and has secret tunnels and chases the guy all around the house. The kid is a cross between MacGyver and Rambo. It is just the most insanely over the top and fun Christmas horror I have ever seen. I will proudly watch it each year with the big Three Christmas Horror Classics

1. The Innocents (1961) – I was lucky enough to catch the Innocents at Cinema Wasteland this year, complete with a small Q&A afterward with the star Martin Stephens. I had gotten his autograph earlier in the day for his iconic role in Village of the Damned, and as soon as the movie ended I regretted that choice. As iconic as that photo is on my wall, I wish I had something, anything to celebrate this film. This film wasn’t even over yet and I knew it had cracked my top ten films of all time. Deborah Kerr is mesmerizing as nanny who has been hired to take care of these two young children in a palatial estate somewhere in the English country side. Once there she enters into a weird almost sexual game of power between her and the young boy she is supposed to be taking care of. The movie makes you question what is really happening as we watch her slow descent into madness as the real world crumbles around her. The movie is breathtaking and beautiful to look at. The Director Jack Clayton, also did Something Wicked this Way comes, and it shows. The films have a similar feel, and both captivate my imagination like few other movies can.

Runners Up: The Devils Honey, Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker, Burial Ground and finally The Pit, which is ONLY on the runner-up list, and not number 1,  because I technically watched it in 2016,.

Horus Rising. D&D Story.

Most of my readers can ignore this. It’s just a silly thing I wrote for a D&D game I’m in.

Horus Rising: The Continuing Glorious Tales of the Heroic Horus Blackfoot

– As told by Horus Blackfoot.

This tale does not begin at the beginning, nor does it end at the end. If you are the sort of reader who prefers your stories to start at the beginning and end at the end, then I suggest you find another tale and another teller of tales. This tale does not start at the beginning, because the beginning is splintered over many tales that are others to tell, and it has no end, because it has not truly ended as of yet.

We enter this story in a small kingdom whose name is not important at this time. What is important as that the kingdom was in trouble so it called upon its greatest heroes in all the land! And who would answer that call you ask? What brave and intrepid hero would step up to be the hero that the land required!

Why, none other the greatest actor, poet, writer, scholar, and showman that the world had ever seen! Horus Blackfoot! Armed with his rapier wit, his rapier, and a penchant for saving the day and wooing the ladies, Horus Blackfoot stepped forth and answered that call for Justice! With him he brought some other guys that really don’t factor into the story much except to support how great Horus is.

Together Horus and his mostly competent band set forth to free the kingdom! The brave group, honestly, they weren’t that brave, but standing next to Horus boosted everyone’s bravery due to how handsome and charming he was, the group started across the land bent on freeing the people from the evil tyranny of the evil villain men had named Steve!

Steve was a mighty Ogre, or Orc, or Demon, or One of those things with long teeth and claws, or something like that. It doesn’t matter. HE WAS BIG! And he was mean! And he liked to eat small children who didn’t listen to their mommies and daddies and who didn’t study well at school! So listen to your mommies and Daddies kids, unless you’re an Orphan.

They tracked the dreaded Steve through the mighty forest of evil! The whole way Horus regaled the party with tales of his heroics and mighty deeds. He had not known the group long, but he already knew that they looked up to him and admired him. While he was but a man, he could see it in their eyes that they looked up to him as if he was handed down to them from the very gods themselves.

The road was rough, and full of perilous, but the band never feared, because they had the mighty Horus to defend them. By the time they reached the cave of the Evil Steve, The somewhat Mighty Paladin who looked at Horus as a father figure, thanked him for protecting them and before he ran off in fear exclaimed, “I wish I could be such a man as Horus”.

“Worry not friend,” Horus called after him. “Your day will come.”

First though, Horus had to attend to the task at hand! With a smile jauntily perched upon his lips, a sword drawn in his right hand, and juggling three perfect Diamonds the size of really big diamonds in his left, Horus strode forward!

His band of followers hung back in the bushes, busy cowering and discussing the best serve the butt of a pineapple. Cold. The answer is cold.

“Greetings!” He yelled to the Giant Giants that guarded the door to the cave of Steve. “I am none other the Horus the Great! Horus the Mighty! Horus the bringer of Destruction and lover of ladies!”

The Giant on the left, having heard the tales of Horus whispered in the darkness of the forests, instantly burst in to tears and ran off into forest. Tossing his sword and juggling diamonds in the air, Horus pulled a mighty bow from back and killed the giant with but one arrow! Then, before the other giant giant could as much as blink, he tossed the bow onto his back and caught the sword and diamonds before they had the chance to hit the ground.

The other giant soiled himself instantly as Horus turned towards him. Falling to his knees the monster began to whimper and plead for his life!

“Fear not gentle giant! I am also Horus the Kind, Horus the Wise!” Horus pronounced for all to hear. “I will let you live my friend, but you must go forth and build a mighty orphanage to take care of all the lost children in the world.”

The giant thanked him as he rushed off, ready to start a new life thanks to the wonder that is Horus.

Horus surged forward into the cave! A Hundred orcs or ogres or whatevers they were, died before his blade. A hundred more took their own life rather face the flashing blade of Horus the Magnificent! Blood soaked the walls by the time Horus stood across from the Darkness of Steve The Bad Guy. Horus smiled, His blonde hair fluttered in the soft breeze and moonlight glinted from his teeth.

His Band watched the battle from the darkness. The Druids cowered in the corner discussing the weather and eating the berries. The Dragon lady and His companion his companion with the unfortunate speech impediment that caused her to talk really slow, jumped up and down and cheered for the glory of Horus! The Demon man…..  The Demon Man….. Wait…..  The demon man wasn’t here yet was he? Oh well, but there was another guy and he thought Horus was great as well.

To the treacherous Steve no Quarter was Given! With a laugh that warmed the hearts of women the world over and put dread into his enemies, Horus danced forward like the graceful gazelle, and with his first blow cut the tendons in the arm that allowed Steve to hold his sword. It clattered to the ground and Horus bounced in again and again! With Each blow a piece of Steve was cut away until finally…..

Only his Head remained!

As his party hoisted the mighty Horus upon their shoulders they took song! Singing of his Deeds and juggling Steve’s Head! They carried Horus all the way back to the kingdom where Horus was instantly pronounced the Hero of the Realm and showered with gold and diamonds. He was given his pick of any women in the realm, but he declined, for Horus is too much for just one women, Horus belonged to ALL women. Besides, like any good son, Horus’s heart truly belonged to his mother.

And thus, ends the first part in The Continuing Glorious Tales of the Heroic Horus Blackfoot! Coming soon, Horus single handedly Defeats a dragon! Frees a friendly demon! Show a Paladin what it truly means to be good! All this…….  AND MORE!!!

Signed….  Horus Blackfoot.

Movie: Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things.

Movie: Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things.

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In 1968 George Romero changed the world when he created the modern Zombie film with Night of the Living Dead. But I’m not going to talk about that film (much). Instead I’m going to talk about a different zombie film.

Before I start, I’m going to be honest here for a moment. Night of the Living Dead wasn’t my first zombie love. I was 18 when an ex-girlfriend gave me a copy on VHS and I fell in love with that film. Before that though, my heart belonged (and still does) to a different zombie film. It was Late Night movie hosts Big Chuck and lil John who introduced me to Bob Clark’s Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things.

It was love at first site.

Night of the Living Dead spawned a lot of imitators, and Bob Clark was one of the first to step up and play in that new zombie reality. It was during a viewing of Night with Alan Ormsby that Bob decided to make a zombie film. What’s interesting to note though, is that Clarks zombies actually straddle the world of modern flesh eating zombies with the magic induced zombies that existed before Romero. When the dead rise, they are flesh eaters, but it’s through a magic spell gone wrong that the dead return to life.

Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things came out in 1972, just three years after Night of the Living Dead, and was directed by Bob Clark. Bob would go on to greater fame after this with a few classics of his own, Black Christmas, A Christmas Story, and Porkies. He wrote the film with Alan Ormsby. Alan went on to write Cat People, Deranged and the original Screenplay for Popcorn, which he was also the original director.

Alan Ormsby takes on double duty here as the imaginatively named Alan. Alan is the director of a small acting trip that he brings to a small island for a sort of actors retreat. Once at the island Alan really just pushes everyone around and is generally an asshole. That being said, he does pull off one of the GREATEST practical jokes in film history. It’s my favorite moment in the movie, all I’m going to say about it is, I Pee’d my pants.

I’m not going to go into the plot to much, but basically, a bunch of actors accidentally raise the dead. That’s really all you need to know going into it. The movie doesn’t have a lot of blood, but it has a so man nice moments. For the most parts, the actors are using their real names and are just themselves, so they come across as just normal people.

The film comes off as just regular people in a bad situation. The only two that actually seem like they are acting is Alan and the character of Anya. Anya is played by Alan’s then wife Anya Ormsby. She’s really over the top, but so much fun. She acts like she had a mental breakdown and is just struggling with everything happening around her, and that’s even before the dead come back to life. That aside, I really had a crush on Anya when I was a kid.

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It’s important to note, that this is an early film, so it’s full of nonprofessional actors and moves a little slower then it could. Personally, I think that really adds to the films charm. We spend a lot of time getting to know these characters as the film goes along.

When we finally get to the Zombies they are all well done and look good. Especially the lead corpse Orville. Orville is so creepy that it’s easy to think they really propped up a dead body. He has some incredibly creepy moments in this movie. His final scene is especially creepy and he doesn’t even do that much in it.

This is Bob Clark’s first film and while his inexperience does show, it has some really nice shots and beautiful moments. The effects are easy and effective, and in my mind the film just works. It’s a fun hour and half that still holds up all these years later. I still love and think that it’s worth seeing. It holds a really important spot in Zombie history. It’s one of the first films to blatantly rip off Night of the Living Dead, and it does it so much better than some of the ones to come.

I think it’s also important to note the importance of this film for the LGBTQ community. This film has three homosexual characters, but that’s not important to the movie. The characters homosexuality is not used as a plot point. That’s really rare at the time this came out. Hell, it’s even rare today. Usually if a character is Gay, it’s a plot point in the movie. Here, they just happen to be gay. No reason for it. Yes, two of them are a little stereotypical and one of them is a complete asshole, but straight people are can be assholes to! Much like Ben in Night of the Living Dead, the fact that these characters are Gay has nothing to do with the movie. I don’t know if they made a statement on purpose, but it doesn’t really matter.

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things is a unique film that deserves to be remembered. It’s one that seems to be overlooked, but has earned its spot in Horror and Zombie history.  Not only that, but Bob Clark deserves a place at the horror legends table. He only did three, but every one of them is a classic.

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Vampires, Werewovles, and Crap Nobody Wants to Read: Fiction.

Before I Start a quick note on the Geek Pit, Assuming I still name it that. The writing is going well, I’m finally working on the last story. I might sneak one more story in, but only time will tell. The last story is going to be a bit longer than the others, I’ve been listening to a lot of True Crime podcasts lately and that has really influenced the as of yet un named final story. Once that’s done, it’s time to start editing. Editing is going to take a bit because I have a couple of stories that really need some love to become useable. It’s going good, and I think I should have it done “Soon”. Soon being a purposely vague word designed to obscure when it will actually finish.

Anyway, on to business.

I was cleaning out my closet the other day and I came across an old notebook. I love coming across those weathered pages of writing from days gone by. At the risk of sounding like “that guy”, it saddens me that the modern equivalent is coming across a computer file on a forgotten folder. The thing is, you’re never going to find a piece of prose you wrote twenty years ago on your computer, because you don’t have that computer any more.

I don’t think enough writers share their process. All we ever see is the finished product. That’s why, every so often, I like to put up some dead writing so you can see my process warts and all.  Two weeks ago I shared the first part of a piece that needs some major rework from my next book Called the Mermaids Pleasure. This week I’m just going to takes some bits and pieces and share them from the notebook I just found.

I’m going to do my best to not edit anything as I put it up, but I make no promises. I think this was part of a gothic vampire story I wanted to write, but it never panned out.

Enjoy.

***                                        ***                                        ***

“He waited. Malcom sat there and waited. There wasn’t much else he could do. Oh, occasionally he scrammed or laughed, he even wet himself once or twice. But not really much else. He couldn’t watch tv, nor could he read a book. It was another boring Sunday, and The straight jacked restricted and discouraged movement.

***                                        ***                                        ***

The tortured mist s of the night swirl up around me. I can feel the darkness tugging, pulling, pushing at me. The mists consume me. I feel my heart race.

“He’s here, I know he is, he has to be, he promised.”

My head turns, my mind spins. I hear him, his heart beating its savage cry. He’s there, in the night, waiting, Waiting for only me.

I run to him. Through the mists swirl, there he is, in the mists. The mists push at me. Enter me. My robe galls back, buttons unbutton, zippers un zip. The mist push at me surrounds me. I feel the mist slip in, deep inside me. I moan, as the mist gently kiss my neck, my cheek, my breasts.

My mouth parts, a single tear slips down my cheek. I try to breath. I cough on the mists. NO! Wait, this isn’t wat I wanted! The mists keep pressing. I try to struggle but I can’t. The mist is inside me. Swirling in my mind. It’s ripping away my pride and my dignity. My very life spills upon the ground.

As it slips away and my dying gasp comes. The mist withdrawal and the shape. Before me he stands. Tale and pale, deep and thin. Long blond hair on either side of his long feral face. A long black jacket now draped across his shoulders. An old black suit, and a parchment white shirt.

He reaches out with his long thing fingers and removes the round glasses hiding his eyes.

His eyes shit a bright red in the black night. He speaks to me as I lay dead before him. He runs his fingers through my hair trying to ease my pain, trying to ease my sorrow.

“Pretty child,” he speaks to the darkness. “I expected so much more.”

***                                        ***                                        ***

Outside the wind whipped and howled, a storm was blowing in, a storm from the east. Rosemary sighed as she took off her glasses and rubbed the bridge of her nose. Lighting flashed and momentarily lit up the small dark room.

From her angle, she couldn’t see the man watching her from the darkness.

Rosemary closed her notebook and stood up to leave. Why has she thought tonight would be different? Why would the poor crippled girl in front of her talk tonight of all nights.

As Rosemary opened the door, the low voice behind her startled her. She turned quickly as Jessica began to speak softly. She spoke harsh and disjointed, her words spilled forth in a litany of pain, a chorus of death.

Rosemary stood, transfixed by the beauty and the horror of the poor girls broken words.

Jessica told her it all. She started with the waitress, the one from before, and she ended with her sister being pulled from their bedroom window. She spoke of his cunning, the hunter in the night. She spoke of his power and his pain. She spoke about his beauty.

She described a ruthless coldblooded killer, a man without conscious. She described him. She described the man that Rosemary had seen countless times her entire life, the man from her dreams, the man from the darkness.

***                                        ***                                        ***

The city lights glowed in a silent litany of sorrow and loneliness. All was quiet, the rain continued to beat down in a never ending rampage as rosemary pulled her long black car into the drive way of her house.

She slid out of the car and moved towards the looming house It was quiet. Her husband’s mustang was gone. Must still be working she thought, must still be at work. She opened her umbrella as she stood, struggling for her keys with her other hand.

Her hands still shook with the memory of night.

She slid the keys into the lock and opened up the door. As she walked in she shook the rain off her umbrella and stepped inside her home.

Off in the distance she a heard an animal howl into the darkness, maybe willing the rain to stop. The noise made Rosemary jump, and she almost dropped her umbrella. She smiled at herself, laughed at how jumpy she still was.

After putting everything away she took a quick show and put on a pair of jeans, and a t shirt. She went down stairs to get some food and watch some tv while she waited for her husband to come home. In her head though, she could still hear Malcom’s voice in her head, warning her. Telling her about the monster that was coming for her.

***                                        ***                                        ***

Audrey fought with the key to Slade’s apartment, she could almost feel it’s breath on the back of her neck. When the key finally slid into place and turned, her whole body shuddered with relief. She pushed the door open and called out to Dave as she slammed it shut, locking it behind her.

She kept calling for him, but no answer came. She could feel it moving outside the door.

Night was just beginning to roll in.

She nervously looked around the small apartment. Her heartbeat was finally slowing down. The danger locked safely outside. She turned on as many lights as she could, to keep the coming darkness away.

David better be back soon, she thought as she dropped onto the couch, nervously trying to blend in with the safety of his room.

A loud ban rang out and violently wrenched Audrey from the deep sleep she didn’t even realize she had entered. She rubbed her stiff neck as she stood up to look at the clock.

237 am.

Audrey shivered as a cold night breeze ran playfully through her hair. She turned and saw the windows both were open.  She carefully walked towards them, a sense of dread began to build inside her. They were closed. She knew they were closed. They had to have been closed.

Suddenly, she stopped. No, she wasn’t going to go near them. She backed up, instead she would go into David’s room. He had a gun. She could hide their. She’d be safe. She hurried across to his room and clutched his door handle. It was cold.

She shook as she turned the knob and pushed the door open. As the she pushed the door forward it let out a creaky sigh from the hinges that didn’t want to open.

Her knees suddenly began to shake and she grabbed the door frame. She was passing out. She was trying her best to stop it She closed her eyes tightly and bit the inside of her lip. When she finally felt she could stand again, she turned and ran.

Behind her David laid in the center of the bed. Someone had tied him to the bed, and opened his body up like an autopsy. Pieces of him sat all around the room, displayed with little notes and tags to show everyone what they were.

His Heart sat on the dresser.

As she ran she saw him. The thin man standing by the window. Watching her. He smiled as licked the blood off of his finger nails on his right hand. The nails of the right hand had been filed to a point.

With a smile, he was gone. Out the window. Leaving Audrey alone.

She fell to her knees, crying.

***                                        ***                                        ***

Wrap up:

So yea. That is just a taste of over ninety pages of writing. I don’t see any dates, but I’m pretty sure it’s a pre Y2K notebook. So it’s possible that it could be literally 20 years old. It looks like it’s a vampire tale full of Vampires, werewolves, Warlocks, and at least one immortal 1920’s detective named Malcolm Slade and his gay lover David. As you can see, David didn’t make it through the story, but if I remember correctly, Malcolm did alright.

The Mermaids Pleasure: Fiction.

This is the beginning of a twist on a mermaid story that i first wrote years ago. The original draft very much showcased my lack of nautical knowledge so i reworte it. On the rewrite the story became a little bigger and more bloated then i wanted it to be. I’m in the process of streamlining it and reworking it for my next collection but thought i’d share the first part of the second draft.

Be warned, this will be rough and unpolished and will not represent the final work. This version can be broken up into three separate sections so i may eventually put up the other two parts if anyone is interested in reading them.

Enjoy.

The Mermaids Pleasure.

— A short story by Joseph L Zbiegien.

Part 1.

When I was a kid, my father told me a story, a story he promised was true. It was the same story his father told him and one day I was to tell my sons and daughters. Sadly, that will never happen, I will never get to tell my children. I will be dead before my son breathes his first breath. It is for him and his children that I do what must be done. The chain will break with me. I will be last.

Even though I die, the story must still be told. It must be passed on. I write this know so my wife can pass these words down to my son and the children of my brother who died before he could do what must be done.

The story must be told, until the story stops being true.

It started, so my father’s father told him, when our name was new, and we still fished under the Nordic sun. Legends have a way of saying things, that take the truth and cover it perfume and mystery. That’s how the story starts. The first part is legend, coated in perfume and mystery. Before we can pull back the hyperbole and see the truth that lies underneath, we need to start with the legend.

The story is a story in three parts. Hopefully, when my child and my son’s children tell the story, it will be in four parts, and the fourth part will an ending. Then someday, the story can fade away and be forgotten.  It’s strange to live long enough to see your own life become legend.

Simply put, we are a fishing family. We have been ever since we first drew breath. My earliest ancestors prayed to Nordic gods as they pulled cod from the seas off Norway. It’s an antiquated notion, we no longer live in a society where a man was a carpenter just because his father was, but that’s the way it used to happen and that’s the way it still happened in my family.

I don’t know who the first one to cast a net into the water was, but what I do know is that My father was a fisherman, my grandfather was a fisherman, my Uncles and my brother were all fisherman. You’ll note I said were. As far as I know, they are all dead. Disappeared at sea.

Or in the case of my brother…

No. I’m not to that part of the story yet. I can’t start there, I know. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. How can my dead brother fit into a story that my fathers have been telling themselves for as long as they’ve had sons. But as I said, as I meant to start, this story doesn’t’ start out as a story, it starts as legend.

It starts simple, as all great stories do, it starts with a storm and two young boys. I don’t know his name, it’s been lost at this point. But for sake of storytelling, legend telling, I’m going to call him… Simon. It was my father’s name, and it was the name I was going to give to my son, I now leave that decision to my wife.

I hope after she reads this, she still uses that name.

As you may have probably guessed at this point, Simon was a fisherman. He was the middle child out of three boys. His eldest brother, whom we will call Thomas, after my Uncle, was in all ways the leader of the family. He was strong, proud and an excellent fisherman. Someday, he would probably replace their father as their tribe’s leader.

Now Simon’s younger brother, whom I will call Richard, after my own brother Rick, was the exact opposite of Thomas. He was lazy, and uninspired. He was more concerned with attracting the eye of a pretty little red haired girl in the village.

Simon, being the middle child was very much the axis point between the two of them. He would never be the hardest worker or best fisherman in the village, but he’d always be faithful and get the job. His father called him a dog. Not out of disrespect though, it was an apt description. Simon was a faithful companion who would always be there for you, but would never over step his bounds.

Now that introductions are complete, this part of the story starts on a boat, in the middle of the sea.

Or rather, I guess the story begins the evening before with a bet. Yes, that is the proper beginning. It starts with a bet and a pretty little red haired girl. It seemed the pretty little red girl that had so caught Richards’s eye had also caught Brother Thomas’s eyes. Whilst Richard just wanted to bed her and saw only a play thing, Thomas saw his future. This was the woman he wanted to grow old with, she would bear his children.

Unbeknownst to both of them she had already secretly chosen Simon as the brother she wanted to marry. As all true tragedies go though, Simon had no interest in her. Instead he longed for a girl he met several moons ago on the shore. She was dark haired and pale skinned and green eyes that almost seemed to glow with the night. They had only met once, but he instantly fell in love with her.

It was during a storm. Simon had been out alone and was caught unprepared and spent the night in a cave along the shore. He said he saw her walking along the beach and invited her to warm herself by her fire. From that moment on, all he could think of was her.

He described her as if she were a dream made flesh.

To him, the pretty red haired girl did not exist so she did everything she could to win his attention. She flirted with her brothers and played them like toys trying to get him to look at her. Finally, she came up with the idea of the challenge. She informed the brothers that she could not choose between the two of them. Knowing that Richard could never out fish his two older brothers and that it would come down to Simon and Thomas, she agreed to marry which ever one of them caught the most fish. She knew that while her heart belonged to Simon, either one of them would be able to give her a good life.

They left before the sun broke the horizon the following morning, but not before she gave each and every one of them a kiss for luck. As he kissed Simon good bye she whispered in his ear, please let it be you. If it is your brother, so be it, but I will think only of you.

The words haunted Simon as he watched the land drift away behind them. He didn’t want her. HE wanted the girl with the green eyes. She had promised him they’d be together again. So when it came time to fish, Richard and Thomas were like maniacs, each pulling in as much fish as they could while Simon dreamed of eyes of green and a voice smooth as an ocean breeze.

They slipped farther and farther out to see trying to catch bigger and bigger fish. Without trying Simon was indeed winning and his brothers knew it. So intent were they on their prize none of them saw the clouds growing in the distance.      By the time the storm came, they were farther out then they had ever been. Land was nowhere in sight.

When they first saw it in the distance, they thought they had come across some strange new land at the boundaries of their oceans. The storm was so great it looked like a great grey cliff slowly crawling towards them.

Still though, even as the rains came closer and even though they should have turned back towards home they kept casting their nets. The fish seemed to be swarming the boats. They were actually jumping in themselves as if trying to out run the great storm that was coming. It was if the fish were afraid.

Surprisingly, it was Richard who decided they should turn back. He called out to the brothers that no women, even a pretty one with red hair, was worth his life. He would gladly share his pile with his brothers so that one of them would win rather than face the foreboding grey wall that was rapidly approaching them.

Simon quickly saw his chance and agreed. Yes he said, I will slid my pile half my pile to you brother and Richard as well and you shall be the winner brother Thomas, now let us turn home before we all die. But Thomas scoffed at them, refusing. The gods favor the bold he told them, and as much he loved her, he did not wish to marry her knowing she should be her brother’s wife. No he said, I will win this and will win this fair.

Both Simon and Richard had given up and began preparing the boat for the approaching storm, but Thomas kept pulling fish in, yelling at the storm that he would not be denied. His love for her, mostly unspoken till now, had grown almost maniac. He would have her hand, and he would deserve it. He was after all the oldest. He wasn’t used to losing, he had fought for everything, and this would be no different.

It was the lightening that hit first, striking the water around them, making the sea seem to glow with life. Dozens off strikes all around them. The brothers watched slack jawed. They had never seen anything like it before.

Then the rain and the winds came. It was impossible to tell where the ocean ended and the rain began. It would take more than a miracle to survive the night.

Still though, they managed to survive. For hours the boat battled the winds and the endless barrage of rain. Three times Simon thought the boat would go under, three times he was wrong. When the storm finally stopped, they were left alone, broken and beaten barely afloat a thick fog crawling over every inch of the ship.

As the fog moved over them, Thomas put his hand out in front of him, and it disappeared into the fog. Then the fog over took them. Even though they were all huddled together, the brothers could not see each other.  They could hear them though. They could hear each other breathing in the empty void.

The winds had left them. Every so often the fog would thin just enough so they could see the waters again. The waters were flat and still, and if they looked at it for too long they imagined they could walk across the sea and find their way back to their home.

Knowing that the sails were useless, the brothers decided to drop oar and row for home. Finally, wordlessly the insane bet had been left behind and seeing tomorrow was all any of them cared about.

It would be a hard trip back, but for the three of them, still young and strong, it was possible. Or at least it was in theory. In reality, the water didn’t seem to act right. Instead of propelling the boat forward it was like they were moving through air. No resistance and but the boat just sat in the water, not creating a ripple…

Or the boat was flying through the waters at impossible speeds. The fog and the stillness of the water made it impossible to tell. They floated lost for four days, or so they thought. It could have been minutes. The fog made telling time possible. There was light, but it was pale green and seemed to be coming from the sea beneath them.

They needed to come up with a plan before the sea came up with a plan for them.

It was Thomas who first realized they weren’t alone anymore. It started with two sparks of green light in the fog around them. Then there were more. They came from all angles, above and below. A song in the nonexistent waves sung out softly, singing to them like a lullaby from their mother’s voice. Whatever was there, swam beneath them and pushed at the side of the boats. It shook them from beneath and pulled them forward.

And then, they saw her. A beautiful pale skinned woman with brilliant green eyes and black hair sitting at the bow of the ship. Simon stood, slack jawed and approached the woman, but his brothers tried to stop him. She smiled at him and beckoned him forward. She whispered words of love that only he could hear.

The other brothers tried to stop him, but something in the dark held them back. Hands from the sea rocked the boats and held them in place. Their breath was death on the brother’s necks, and they feared for the life of Simon.

It was the last time any of them saw Simon. He reached the girl and slipped his arms around her, embracing in a kiss. Wordlessly, she wrapped herself around him, and as the invisible hands started to shake the boat harder and harder. Simone and the girl slipped from the boat and floated off into the sea.

Something, if the brothers saw what, they never said, came from the sea and tore the boat in two. Thomas managed to pull his Richard onto a piece of the mast as the rest of the boat was pulled under. As it drifted away the ocean beneath them lit up as if was the summer son.

Thomas thought he could see forever.

It can see me, it can see me! Thomas began to yell over and over at the top of his lungs. The fear of it all drove him into a sort of shock. He tried to pitch himself forward into the ocean, he wanted to drown before whatever it was took him, but Richard would let him. He held him down and tied him to the pieces of wood they floated on.

As the rains began again, Richard held his screaming brother sure that they would die.

Somehow though, they didn’t die. When the morning came the fog had left and the rains had stopped. They washed up on shore almost a full week after they left. Thomas was half crazed and was never the same man who had left. They both kept their mouth shut about what they had seen until they held they broke down and told their children what had happened.

Neither of them married the pretty red haired girl. She drowned while the brothers were lost at sea. Not in the storm though, the storm never reached land.

Thomas though had been broken, he was eventually able to marry, but he only ever went in the ocean one more time. When he had kids and it seemed obvious they were going into the family business he told them from the safety of the shore.

The brothers eventually married, even though neither were ever the same. They continued to fish, because that was all they ever knew, but they never went out as far, and they always fled even the lightest of rain falls.

One day, Thomas woke up with a bit of the man he used to be gleaming in his eyes. He kissed his wife good bye and told her he was off to find his brother, for he knew he was still alive. He took a boat out onto the sea by himself and was never seen from again. Pieces of the boat washed up for months and even years after. Some of them seemed to be covered in claw marks.

Before he left, he sat on the edge of his son’s bed and whispered this story to him.

And that is the first part of my story. That is the part of the story that became legend. Ever since those first sons took breath, we’ve passed it down. What really happened, no one can say. That’s the thing about legends, you don’t know if any of it is true. More than likely none of it is true, at some point, some mother afraid of losing her son on the sea like she had lost her husband and father, and she would have been willing to tell that son anything. Whatever it took to save the life of the last thing she had left in this world.

A lie begat a story which creates a legend that ends in tradition. Such is the art of storytelling.  All that aside though, while I don’t know which parts are true, I think this legend is more true than most. I’ve seen things that you wouldn’t believe. I’ve seen things that well… I’m getting ahead of myself. I can’t tell you that part of the story yet. We just finished the beginning so I it’s time we moved on, because our story doesn’t end in legend.