A to Z Challenge 2013

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cricket Song - A Sample WiP

Joseph over at Magicellus asked for a sample of a WiP.   I struggled to come up with something I felt post-worthy, but nothing was really working for me today (guess I'm still a bit rusty).  But since I didn't want to disappoint, the following is an excerpt of something I created quite some time ago.

Cricket Song

Jimmy woke quickly, sitting upright a little too fast and getting dizzy in the process. The darkness of the cabin's interior was a threat, some obscure but tiny sound setting his nerves on edge. He felt so scared, frozen and unable to figure out where he was or what was going on. His ten year old mind finally worked through the fog to recall their trip to the mountains, and his eyes now saw the rest of the family asleep in their own sleeping bags.

There wasn't much furniture here, so they all slept on the floor in the front room, the warmth of the slowly dying fire sending out its tendrils to stave off what would otherwise be a permanently cold slumber party. He pulled the sleeping bag tighter around his legs, cocking his head to find the source of the sound. There it was again. A lone cricket had found its way inside, probably to stay warm. In rhythmic time, it put out a slow symphony of chirps, and for some reason the tone set Jimmy's teeth to grinding.

He'd read in a book somewhere that crickets rub their back legs together or something to make the sound. Visions of the tiny insect flooded his mind, causing him to shudder. The picture he remembered seeing showed this cricket with long legs, claw-like barbs along their length. He never did like their faces, the way the eyes seemed capable of looking through you. Their mouths were disgustingly monstrous, as they chewed through whatever it was crickets ate.

He suddenly couldn't remember what it was that crickets ate, and the question left a dry taste in his mouth. The chirping became a drone, hitting his spine like a knife as he sat there trying to frantically remember what crickets liked. Creeping doom began to build within him, his imagination taking a simple idea and creating horrific visions in great detail. Maybe the reason they chirped was to lull everyone to sleep. Isn't that what everyone always said, that the sounds of crickets would make you sleep better?

His young mind couldn't remember anything for sure, and the anxiety was building to an almost maddening torrent of fear. The chirping seemed closer somehow. He reached down slowly with a hand, his little fingers searching for the flashlight his mother had set beside his makeshift bed. His smooth fingertips touched the wooden floor, feeling the grainy texture but not finding what he was expecting. Like excited spiderlegs, his fingers danced around trying to touch the plastic tube of the flashlight's casing. Still nothing. The chirping had stopped; the cabin was a grave, silent and still except for the resounding clamor of his own heart.

Finally Jimmy stretched his arm out, the pale skin luminescent in the darkness, and he felt something hard and cold. Tracing its shape carefully, he grabbed it and pulled the flashlight in close. His fingers searched for the button, finding it halfway up along the shaft. A lone chirp made him jump, his other hand leaping to cover his mouth as a scream threatened to escape. With careful pressure, he pressed the button, launching a shaft of light skyward and destroying his night vision in the process.

His eyes were tightly closed now, his mind scrambling to gain control once more. Every nerve in his body was firing, as if a thousand ants were crawling just beneath the skin, their little feet touching everywhere. He pictured the cricket out there somewhere, waiting patiently for him to go back to sleep. The light was on, but he couldn't find any solace in that fact. Jimmy was terrified, sure that something was waiting for him in the darkness.

He opened his eyes slowly, one after the other. He gazed around, seeing the dim lumps on the floor nearby that should be his family. Something wasn't right though. Then it dawned on him. There was no sound, no breathing. His father wasn't snoring like usual, a comforting chainsaw tone. There was no movement whatsoever, and the resounding beat of his own heart was a fast paced rock concert, loud and echoing in his own ears.

"Mom", he whispered carefully, not really believing she would answer. There was no response, and the silence of the room was crushing him. "Mom...Daddy...”, he cried pitifully. The enormity of possibly being all by himself was hitting him like a hammer, his fragile mind beginning to crack under the pressure. Tears began to well up in his eyes as fear tore him to shreds.

His dad said the mind sometimes played tricks on you, so he decided to shine the flashlight on someone - anyone - and wake them up. The beam moved down from the ceiling, showing the bare timber walls and empty room. Despite his terror, Jimmy took his time aiming the flashlight at the nearest sleeping bag, unsure what would be there and not really sure he wanted to find out. As the beam reached its target, he screamed without end, a wretched painful sound that ended abruptly as the flashlight fell to the floor with a clunk. The darkness enfolded the room once more like a blanket. Chirp. Silence.

Well, that's it.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Feel free to comment and let me know what you liked, what you didn't, what worked, etc.

My Sympathies

Initially I wasn't going to put up a post about the tragedy in Connecticut.  My reason for this was because I felt no words could adequately describe my sorrow over the loss of life.  But after thinking about it for some time, I wish to put my heartfelt thoughts and prayers out here.  The thought of this happening to my family is more than I care to imagine.  To all the affected families, I pray you will find the strength to make it through this tragedy and eventually find some form of peace.

As for the person responsible, I wish only that your life be ended as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Executing you may not be equivalent justice, but erasing you from existence means you cannot taint our world further.  You lost all rights to life the minute you ended the lives of others.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Welcome To The Hobbit

Before I get too far into this, I want to warn everyone I will be putting up some potential spoilers.  There's just a few things I have to get off my chest about this movie.

I would consider myself a HUGE fan of both The Hobbit and The LOTR trilogy.  I am also a HUGE fan of the movies for LOTR, despite the changes in story/characters/etc.  Since I knew they had planned three movies for The Hobbit (something difficult considering the length of the book compared to LOTR), I knew I needed to keep an open mind going in.  And for the most part, I'd say I enjoyed the movie.  There are a few key things however, that still bother me. (SPOILERS AHEAD)

Principal of these errors (for me anyway) is the change in how Bilbo found the ring.  In the book, Bilbo found himself in intense darkness that was Gollum's cave.  The ring had abandoned Gollum some time before, hoping to find another way back home.  It was only as Bilbo was stumbling around in the dark (confused and scared) that he found the ring.  In the movie, they make the event much more dramatic (and obvious).  In my mind, it lessens the impact and makes it too scripted.

The riddle-game also lacked the characterization Tolkien built into the scene.  In the book, Gollum is torn between his excitement at playing games with someone else and his desire to eat Bilbo.  It's a very obvious thing, shown by how far away he starts out from Bilbo and how much closer he tries to come.  The tension is palpable.  In the movie, they start with it as Gollum gets really excited over a game.  But then for some reason, that conflict is lost.  It's really too bad, because they spent so much time in the LOTR movies showing his remaining humanity (or hobbit-ness) and they could have done the same thing here.

The last gripe I have is regarding the Goblin King.  Now I don't know about the rest of you but for me, the Goblin King was a figure of power and terror for the dwarves.  His voice was deep and booming.  In the movie, the figure they drew was lame and completely unimpressive.  The voice they used was so pitiful as to make you wonder how he could ever command anyone.  And I REALLY don't get the huge chin/neck bulge dangling below his face.

The other things added in (i.e. Radagast's story, the start of the Necromancer's tale, the albino orc leader, etc) are what I expected given three movies for this book.  But some things really shouldn't be changed in my mind.  It's the same type of mistake that made me cringe when Arwen controlled the waters of Rivendell rather than her father.

In the end, I guess I still enjoyed the movie overall.  I am still looking forward to the next two.  I just hate having some of my fears confirmed, particularly with a book I enjoy so much.  If you're still here with me and have already seen the film, what did you think?  Am I being overly critical or were there things that bugged you too?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Time To Start Over

After an extremely long absence, I'm returning to the world of writing.  I'm pretty happy to be doing so.   I've missed all the fun, I've missed all the people, and most of all I've missed writing.  After being away this long (without writing anything whatsoever), I feel like I'm starting over from scratch.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing though.

While I was off doing other things, the craft of writing still found its way into my head at various moments.  I thought a great deal about what'd I'd done, and more often than not my thoughts were on what I've done wrong.  As I now embark on this journey again, I've made some decisions to be at least a little more formalized in my writing.  I plan on figuring out a process that works for me and setting some concrete goals, like publishing a short story maybe.  I'm still working it out but my desire to be successful as a writer is burning brighter than it ever has before.

I also have to say just how much I've missed being part of the writer community.  I miss all the fun stuff I used to be a part of, and more importantly I miss chatting with and learning from all you talented writers.  Since I'm usually fairly anti-social, it actual surprised me how much I miss you guys.  It's out of character for me, but I look forward to getting caught up and staying up-to-date on what everyone is doing.

I'm back and I hope everyone who used to stop by will return once more.  I plan on being even more invigorated than ever before, and I also hope to make some great strides in my writing ability.  Look for me on your pages and (someday) on some literary front.  I think the next year will be a good one :)