Tag Archives: fiction

a blip in the flatline of my hiatus

[in]security*

i went to church once.  the pastor brought a piece of wood, some nails, and a hammer up to the pulpit.  he called me up to drive the nail into the wood.  it was hard.  i didn’t want to hammer my finger at first, and then the nail wouldn’t go in straight, and i couldn’t swing the hammer hard enough.  i handed the board back to him.  he said, pull the nail out.  that was equally as hard, but i retrieved the nail and handed everything back to him.

he said, get rid of that hole.

i said, i can’t.

hurtful things are like nails, he said.  when we hurt someone we drive a nail into their heart.  you can pull the nail out, but the hole is still there.  you can cover it up, sand down the rough edges, and paint over it, but the hole will always be there.

i was pregnant.  we stared incredulously at positive pregnancy tests.  we talked about names, looked at baby clothes in the mall, cringed at price tags in baby sections, and smiled despite people’s thoughtless words.  a few weeks later, we were holding our breath as a doctor searched for the flicker of a heart beat.  today, there is no more baby.

for a while, my insecurities were gone.  hope had numbed the pain of past hurt.  now it’s like i’m waking up still a little drunk from a night of trying to forget.

i’m insecure about my body.  about money.  about my worth as a person.  about love.  maybe i don’t deserve this.  i’m probably going to fuck it up.  he’s going to regret this.  maybe he regrets it already.

part of me knows it’s irrational.  i read into things way too much.  i’m constantly looking for affirmation of my fears, trying to keep my guard up so i can be prepared for the inevitable hurt.  but focusing on the possibility of failure never led anyone to victory, and right now is not my past.

i’m abandoning salvation.  i was going to give casey nine months to clean up the town.  nine months because cherry is pregnant with the native’s baby and if casey didn’t drive out the bad guy the baby would be killed.  i was going to give myself something to focus on so maybe i would still have the drive to write between feedings and diaper changes and whatever.  but there is no baby, so there is no salvation.

maybe i’ll write a story about a heroine who overcomes her insecurity.  i’ll make her do something completely out of her comfort zone, and i’ll put the life of someone she loves on the line.  i’ll drive nails into her and leave her to rip them out.

i think i’m actually going to start on that right now.


Salvation, Episode One: Jezebel (part one)

The man in black was not the kind of man to allow a new face in his town to go unnoticed. The stranger was smart, but not smart enough. Simply dismounting his horse so as to not stick out above head-level with the crowd may have worked in other desperado towns, but not in his town. By the time the man in black was watching the sandy-haired stranger enter the Mission, three reports had already come in about his arrival; one from the Marvin, the stable hand, another from Rita, the town gossip, and another from Happy Jack, one of the man in black’s enforcers.

“Get me Cherry,” he said.

Rupert, who had up until that point been whittling a piece of wood, gave a start and nearly dropped his things. In his alarm, he kicked over the bucket of wood shavings at his feet. “Right away, Master. Sorry about the mess, sir. Should I clean it up now or when I return?”

The man in black sighed and kneaded his brow. “I’ll clean it up, boy. Be quick now.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, Master. I’ll hurry.”

The man in black winced at the pain in his knees as he knelt on the floor in front of the hearth to scoop up the wood shavings and toss them into the fire. Age was catching up to him, there was no denying it. He picked up Rupert’s carving and turned it over in the light of the oil lamp. A thin smile spread across his face. Rupert had been carving a likeness of his Master, albeit a poor one, but there was no mistaking the stick man’s tall hat and long coat. He picked up Rupert’s knife and ran his thumb across the blade. Far too dull.

Rupert returned with Cherry to find his Master sharpening his whittling blade against a smooth rock. The elder man held the blade out to Rupert, who took it with a smile. “Go now,” the man in black said. “Out to the antechamber and take your stick man with you. Cherry will send you back in when we’re done here.”

Cherry smiled warmly at Rupert, who gave her a quick hug around the waist and slipped quietly out of the room.

Cherry and the Master regarded one another stiffly. “Cherry Darling, how nice to see you. I trust you’re behaving.”

“Yes, Master,” Cherry said. “Of course I have.”

“Hm. Did you notice a new arrival in town today?”

“Yes, Master. A handsome young fellow with blonde hair and fair blue eyes. Came into the Mission and bought me a drink, as a matter of fact.”

“What’s his name?”

“Casey Till.”

“Where’s he from?”

“Here. He said he left Salvation twelve years ago to go on the cattle drives down south.”

“Hm. And why has he returned?”

“He wanted to see if Arthur Coby was still alive.”

The man in black turned a sharp eye on Cherry. “And what did you say?”

The girl flinched. “I – I told him I didn’t rightly know. I told him there were rumors that he was still alive but I didn’t fiddle with the affairs of men. And the only reason I said as much was because he’d come here following that rumor to begin with.”

After a long pause, the man in black seemed to relax. “Very good, Cherry, darling. I want you to get as much information as you can out of him, do you understand? Tuck it all away under those pretty scarlet tresses and I’ll call on you if I need you. Send Rupert in on your way out.”

“Yes, Master. Very good.”

~

Cherry returned to the Mission to search for Casey, but one of the other girls told her that he’d already gone to search for a room for the night. Feeling relieved, Cherry made her excuses and snuck out of the saloon as quietly as she could.

The moon was high and full in the clear night sky by the time Cherry made it to the oasis. She removed her nag’s bridle and set her loose to graze on the sparse grass.

Her mother had always said the oasis was full of magic. There was no natural reason for so much life to spring up around so little water. She said that the oasis would hide itself from evil people if lovers took shelter there, and that a love consummated in that garden would be a love eternal. When Cherry met Kale, he took her there and told her the same stories. He promised her that the Master would never find them there, and that their love would be eternal.

He promised her these things every time they stole away from their homes to meet under the stars and lay together beneath the lazy palm trees. The nag would graze and they would make love and the world, for a while, would cease to matter.

~

Casey woke to the sound of pounding on his door. With a groan, he sat up and slipped his feet into his boots. Not bothering to put on a shirt or even buckle his belt, he swung the door open. “Where’s the manners in this damn place?” he demanded.

Rupert stood in the door way, unabashed by his elder’s harsh words. “My Master sent me extend an invitation to his office. He says he wants to see you now.”

“It’s early, little man. Can’t your Master wait until after breakfast at least?”

“It won’t take long. Hurry up now, I’m going to get a thrashing if we’re late.”

Casey looked at the boy, no older than eight. His cheeks were ruddy with youth, fingernails bitten and dirty, clothes dusty from playing in the streets. He sighed, unwilling to be the cause of the boy’s punishment. “Alright, fine. Let me just put my shirt on. Wait there.”

The boy led Casey out of the hotel and up the road a few blocks, and straight up to the old jail house. “Your Mastery lives here?” Casey asked, wary.

“He does,” the boy confirmed. “And he’s not just my Master, he’s your’s now, too. Has been ever since you walked into his town, so remember that when you talk to him.”

The jail house was two stories tall, and Casey was led straight up to the second level.

“Master, Mister Till is here,” Rupert said through large double doors.

“Come in, come in.”

The office was small and intimate. A fireplace to the right adjacent to a little sitting area, a book shelf to the left, and a polished cherry wood desk at the end of the room in front of a huge window that overlooked Salvation’s main road and the Mission.

“Take a seat, Casey Till. We must talk.”

Casey obliged stiffly.

“I’ve heard a good deal about you, Mister Till. You see, I have ears all over my town. I also sent a wire out about you, and as it turns out you’re a wanted man much like myself. Banks, trains, cattle. Am I wrong?”

“No, sir.”

“Master.”

“Excuse me?”

“You will address me as Master.”

Casey smirked. “Alright, Master. You’re absolutely correct on all counts. Now, if I may be so bold, I’d like to know what you’d like with me so I can go about my day.”

“Be as bold as you like,” the man in black said. “Boldness doesn’t offend me, only disrespect. But, getting down to business, I’d like to employ you.”

Casey damn near stuttered. “Employ me?”

“Yes. See, one of my men met his end recently of consumption so I’m short a gun. And, to be frank, I like to keep my friends close and my enemies closer. Really, Casey, you have no choice in the matter. Either work for me or I’ll have you killed. Gain my trust or my malice. It’s your choice.”

“Trust then, I suppose, since you’re being such a brute about it. I came here looking for work anyway so it’s of no consequence to me where I find it. At least this way I’ll be working in a field that’s already familiar.”

“Good,” the Master said with a smile. “You’ll start tonight by following a girl you met last night, Cherry Darling. I’ve been told she’s been having a tryst with a native and I’d like to know more. You may go now.”

Casey couldn’t leave fast enough. Rupert walked him down to the door, but Casey didn’t even bid the boy goodbye. Instead, he staggered into the nearest alley and vomited.


Salvation, a TMD Miniseries

Salvation is my first (yes, ladies and gentleman first) work of fiction to make it outside of the one-shot or flash fiction story realm since I was… oh… about fourteen.  I’m writing a western first and foremost because I fell in love with the genre late last year watching John Wayne movies, and also because movies like The Quick and the Dead and The Shootist made me fall in love with the kind of story that comes from the American Old West.  I should mention, however, that  Salvation isn’t your typical western for two reasons: one, because it’s not set in the American Old West but rather a disjointed AU (alternate universe) of my creation, and two, because it’s going to include a lot of fantasy elements not typical of your average John Wayne movie.

Anyway, here’s the “pilot” post, if you will.  A short snippet of 420ish words to set the scene and get you, my Constant Reader, interested in what’s to come.

Salvation

The sun was barely up over Salvation and the town was already gathered around the gallows below the clock tower in the center of town. Women wept while their husbands clenched their fists and children were made to look away as the sheriff was led up the steps of the gallows by a man dressed in black. A posse of outlaws overlooked the spectacle from the rooftops, guns poised and pointed at the townsfolk, ready to quench even a whisper of protest.

“Let this be a lesson to you,” the man in black whispered into the sheriff’s ear. “This is my town, you hear? There will be no law here aside form the law I enforce.”

There was a loud creak as the trap doors opened beneath the feet of the sheriff’s family, and three sickening cracks from the necks of wife, son, and daughter that sent a chill through the heart of the populace.

They called the town Salvation because it was built around a mission. The man in black’s first act as reigning sovereign was to turn the mission into a saloon, and by the following Sunday it was dealing out dirty shot glasses of whiskey instead of forgiveness.

God seemed to abandon Salvation the day the man in black took over, and seven years later the town was barely a ghost of what it had once been.

The sheriff was still alive, held captive in his own jail house, or at least that was the rumor Casey heard. He looked down over the town from a high ridge a few miles away, feeling as if he’d swallowed a ball of lead. Dollar nickered and paced at being halted after so many hours of galloping across the desert sand.

Casey dismounted just outside of town and walked Dollar down the main street in an attempt to go unnoticed. He led the mustang to a boarding stable and paid the work hand a dollar for a week of boarding, feed, and water.

“Say, friend,” Casey said, “where’s the best place to get a room around here?”

The man chucked. “Only one place to git a room ‘round here, suh, and that’s the Mission. Ol’ Mastah likes to keep an eye on those comin’ and goin’ from his town.”

Casey frowned but didn’t ask any more questions. He’d seen the Mission on his way through town; it was hard not to. It stood like a mountainous specter over the town, and cast a long, dark shadow in the evening sun.  He shook the dust from his boots and soldered on up the street.

~

Next: Salvation, Episode One: Jezebel 


In Which I Announce My Intentions to Become a Goddess

I’m gonna write cereal fiction on TMD.

The way it works out in my head, I write a story in episodes, each with its own conflict and resolution, with the whole of the episodes tying into a bigger plot that arcs through the whole project.  Each episode has a word count between 400-800 words so as not to be exhausting for reader or writer, and updates come along once or twice a week.

So, yeah.  Look forward to something of the crime noir/western/coming-of-age/romance variety coming down the pipes.

Now I just gotta figure out what the hell to write about.

I gotta create people that don’t exist, construct a setting that will never be, and make my characters do terrible, awful, wonderful things that they will never and can’t ever actually do anywhere but within the realm of my word processor, and within the confines of your imagination.  I gotta become Goddess of a world of my creation, and then fuck it up big time until something memorable and worth while rises from the conflagration.

Wish me luck.


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