New Fiction

Well, it has only been a week since I proclaimed I would stop posting random crap on my blog.

To commemorate this event, here is some random fiction I wrote today. It has been subjected to the most cursory of editing. Essentially I wrote the story once, without stopping, then rewrote it as I typed it up. Other than that I have changed nothing. I do not plan to continue it at any point in time. I am just being honest. I feel like this makes the story stronger. Deal with it in any way you feel appropriate.

 

A Change of Heart (Working Title)
By E. W. Morrow
Word Count: 776

Aaron’s hand trembled as he made the necessary marks above yet another door. The plasma cutter shook as the final line was gouged above the lintel. He’d lost count of the number of buildings he’d inscribed that night. Something about the relative finality of the act made it hard to track the number of times it had happened. Relative. That’s all anything was anymore. Relatively necessary. Relatively evil. Relatively good. Come dawn these buildings would be rubble, their slender brick facades reduced to nothing more smoldering ash and agonizing memories, their inhabitants gone from this world, gone to live with their own terrible, heathen gods, hopefully in a world entirely removed from the sight of pure, Christ fearing men. Their gods’ had lost. His god had won. That was all that mattered, no matter how relative to the truth.

A cold, desperate scream echoed down the street. The stark, crowded brick buildings, huddled so close together at the city’s core, and the narrow cobbled street created a sort of canyon that magnified the cry, each echo louder, more painful than the last. Aaron glanced to his right. There, across a dusty, weed choked garden crammed between brick and cobble, he saw  one of Bravo Squad jam the butt of his gun into the emaciated face of one of the slum’s more lucid inhabitants. Aaron, heart pounding from the burst of adrenaline, was all too aware of the figure’s swollen stomach, a stark contrast to its skeletal frame. He managed to take in the impression of dark, olive skin and long, jet black hair moving in a confused blur before a second member of Bravo Squad stepped forward and dowsed the gangrel figure in a tidal wave of flaming liquid.

Anguished cries and the sickly smell of burnt flesh mingled and danced in Aaron’s brain until sight, sound and smell ceased to have individual meaning. Anger and sadness screamed at him from opposite sides of the abyss that had suddenly become reality. The waring emotions shifted and ground against one another, repulsion becoming attraction and back again, over and over, until eventually the two were inseparable and a new thought was born.

Hatred. Glistening and pure and screaming like a newborn babe. Aaron drew the fledgling thought close to his bosom and everything changed. Everything shifted, relative to the adolescent hatred swelling inside him.

There were no gods. There was no truth, relative or otherwise. There was only belief, and pain, and anger, and heartache, and everything else that belief birthed unto the world.

Aaron was so completely absorbed in his own visions of a brand new world that he failed to notice the crimson lights flickering across his helmet’s display. By the time he realized something was amiss, his suit’s auxiliary containment systems had begun the terminal shutdown of all major ambulatory systems. The supple dermis of the suit suddenly went rigid, forming a hard exoskeleton that Aaron could only thrash against impotently. Two faceless members of Charlie Squad, suddenly divorced from the digital identifiers that had previously danced across his vision, each grabbed him by an arm. A moment later the world blurred and Aaron heard a crunch and saw the splintered remains of a rotten, wooden door flying across his vision. He sailed effortlessly through the air and landed horizontally in the den of dissidents he had only moments before marked for destruction.

At the edges of his field of vision, Aaron became aware of two things. First, at the bottom of his vision, from the direction he had so recently been thrown, he became aware of the sudden, terrible advance of of cleansing fire. Already it was licking at his feet, melting the rubber on the soles of his shoes. But, even though this was the more terrifying and immediate concern, he found he was unable to give it the attention it deserved.

From somewhere above him, deep within the squalid hive of malcontents and villains he had been taught to despise from boyhood, there came a soothing, wonderful music. Full of joy and peace, it washed over him, canceled out the pain of the fire consuming him from the bottom up. As the flames leaped higher and higher over his helpless form, Aaron saw the dark, foreign shapes of his lifelong enemy drifting into place beside him. Heedless of the flames, men, women and even children, all desperately thin and wasted, lay down beside him, weaving their limbs together in a solemn tapestry of humanity and love, with Aaron at the center. They continued to sing even as the flames devoured their flesh and the roof caved in on top of them.

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So….I’ve been doing this “once a day” posting thing for a little over a week now and….I think I’m going to stop. I generally feel like I have nothing to say, and I’m not going to waste any more words trying to say it. I’m going to devote my time and energy to enjoying writing again, and not feel like I need to produce something for the sake of production.

I started work on a new story yesterday, and with any luck I’ll finish it tomorrow (it’s gonna be a short one, which I think I’m getting quite good at). I’ll have it up once I’ve let it simmer a bit, polished it up.

Thanks for all your patience, and for not making fun of my lame posts these past few days.

~E W

A Favor

Okay, so, I have a favor to ask. If you are reading this, all I ask is that you give me a single word reply to this post. One word, no questions asked. If you feel the need to explain, please do. If not, no sweat. I just want to ask you one simple question.

What are you afraid of?

See, I figure “What?” is a simple question. Much simpler than “Why?” It is much easier to describe WHAT frightens us than it is to describe WHY it does so. Even if the fear we feel doesn’t quite reach the phobia level, most people can usually pinpoint one or two things that cause them genuine discomfort to even think about, much less experience. For example, studies show that 78% of people are afraid of public speaking (I am not), and 10% are afraid of heights (I am), and 31% are afraid of spiders (I am sometimes, especially when I find one crawling on me).

Recently, I have stumbled upon an unprecedented amount of happiness in my life. More than I could ever have imagined possible. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. But, I have this lingering dread that this happiness has sapped my already meager stores of desire and ambition, to the point where I don’t write anymore. Every waking thought is devoted solely to enjoying a feeling of joy I never thought I would possess. My one regret is that it seems to have damaged my creative spark in some way.

I still love horror as a genre. I think it is woefully underrepresented on the whole and desperately want to contribute in some meaningful way. I believe I possess the ability, but question whether or not I possess the motivation. Because of this, I have started a far flung search for inspiration. Trust me when I say that this post is not the first attempt at finding some, nor will it be the last. But I think that it could help.

And, just to show that I’m not just doing this to be mean, I will provide you with an answer of my own.

Q: What does E. W. Morrow Fear?
A: Ants

Yes, you read that correctly. Ants. “But E W”, I hear you ask “Why are you afraid of ants?” Well let me tell you why.

First off, read these articles
Siafu
Bulldog Ants
Bullet Ants

In case you don’t actually want to go read those articles, let me summarize

Siafu are the ants you saw in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”. You remember the scene? The one where men fall off of humvee’s and are swarmed by insects and then are instantly devoured? Well, it doesn’t happen quite like that, but let me tell you, Siafu are real. They are actually native to Africa, and one of dozens of species of “army ants”. Army ants are mobile insect colonies that can band together, linking bodies to create paths and bridges that no other land bound insect could cross. They are the only animals ANYWHERE that are able to do this. Not only that, but Siafu (and other army ants) are also the only insects that actively hunt humans as prey. That’s right, ants are coming for you and intend to eat the shit out of you. Oh, and in case you were expecting a pleasant, slow death, you should be warned: the cause of death from siafu attack is either internal bleeding or suffocation. That’s right, the ants actually crawl inside your mouth and nose and eat you alive from the inside out.

Now let’s move on to the Bulldog ants. Bulldog ants are native to Australia, the only continent where every living thing is actively trying to kill you. And I mean ACTIVELY. Bulldog ants are among the most aggressive of all insect species (behind Africanized Killer Bees, I believe), and, what’s worse, a single sting is enough to kill you. One sting from a bulldog ant can cause a human body to overload on adrenaline. That would be bad, but Bulldog ants are fucking ANTS, and ants live in COLONIES! Colonies that, say, build back doors to their anthills so that they can attack from behind should the call be raised. Yeah, that’s right, bulldog ants actually create tunnels specifically to outflank you and your pitifully weak human flesh.

Which leads me to the Bullet Ant. First off, I want you to imagine the most painful experience in your life. Got it? Good. Now, unless you are a trauma amputee or a battle scarred war vet, I want you to forget it. Why? Well, because, chances are you are like me and you’ve never experienced real pain. But, if you ever get the inkling, take a trip to South America and tangle with a Bullet Ant. Bullet Ants are listed as the most painful of all animal stings on multiple sting pain indexes. Essentially, the insect got it’s name because a single sting from this ant is like being shot. With a gun. I, personally, have never been shot, and I hope that I never have to live through that experience, but the mere fact that a single insect can cause as much pain as the culmination of thousands of years of violent human invention is….well….frightening.

So, there you go, I am afraid of ants. Even now, with thoughts of ravenous swarms of miniscule invaders rampaging through my brain, I am vigorously swatting my arms and legs as each individual hair is subjected to some minor sensation. The small, reptilian portion of my brain insists that each sensation is a new, terrible threat to my person, and no amount of rational thought can quell the fear.

So, if you are feeling brave, let me know what you are afraid of. I’d appreciate it, and I promise not to make fun of you for it.

Thanks, as always.
E.W.

Betrayal – Fun for Everyone

Betrayal - Fun for Everyone

Okay, so today I wanted to share one of my favorite board games of all time: Betrayal at House on the Hill. The term “board game” is a bit of a misnomer, since there isn’t really a board, but it’s close enough that I’ll still call it one.

Basically, the core concept of the game is this: A group of people (3-6 players) are exploring a creepy, abandoned house on a hill, packed full of horror tropes, when, at some point during the exploration, one of the players betrays the others. Each player chooses a character card (double sided so that each card has 2 characters on it), and uses that individual to explore the house. The characters have different stats, and stats can go up or down during the game. The game progresses by having each player move their character through rooms. As each new room is explored (by exiting an empty door of an explored room), new room tiles are lain down. This means that the house is never the same twice. There are three “levels” to the house, upper, ground, and basement, and certain rooms can only be placed in certain floors (or one of two). As each new room is explored, creepy events, disturbing items, and strange omens are encountered (which are represented by three stacks of cards). When enough omens have been revealed, the “haunt” starts and the traitor is revealed. Basically after every omen occurs you roll some dice, and if the number on the dice is less than the number of omens revealed, the haunt triggers.

And that’s basically all you know until you play the game. There are upwards of 50 separate haunts that can happen, each one based on the particular omen that triggered the haunt and the room it was triggered in. Then whoever is marked as the “traitor” takes the “traitor’s tome” and goes into a separate room, while the other players stay seated and read the “survivor’s guide”. DO NOT READ THESE AHEAD OF TIME! It totally ruins everything. Essentially the traitor and the survivors are given different accounts of the same event, and neither group knows everything the other one has to do to win.

This game is so good because it is never the same twice. I’ve played it so much that I’ve had some haunts happen multiple times, and others still haven’t happened at all (I need to spend more time in the basement to get the basement only trigger rooms), but even so, each game is unique. Some haunts are incredibly easy if too much of the house has been explored, and that happens sometimes, but usually there’s a good balance. The traitor is usually completely overpowered but is also usually outnumbered and has a lot more to accomplish by him/herself.

This game can be frustrating, but never in a bad way. Terrible things happen to your character, but you can’t die until the Haunt starts, so in the end it doesn’t really matter. Most of the time a character dying doesn’t end the game, so if one or two survivors fail to….well, survive, then it’s okay.

Sample haunts (without ruining anything) include demonic summonings, zombie redneck families, magical aging rituals, ghostly possession, and mad scientists with shrink rays and hungry cats. And also, something with a “toy robot” in it, but I’ve never had the haunt that uses that token, so I’m not sure exactly what it is for, but I hope to find out soon.

Once upon a time (read: 5 years ago), this game was out of print and went for $200 on ebay, but Wizards of the Coast bought it up and released a second edition (the one I own). The quality is a little crappy in some ways (the room tiles are bent because the gloss finish on each side didn’t dry evenly), but not in any way that affects gameplay. Plus, the second edition clarified some of the rules that needed it (you can no longer stay in the gym pounding away on the treadmill to raise your speed stat ad infinitum, or the larder to increase strength, etc…), and streamlined the tokens so that you don’t have 12 pages of them to punch out (now there are only 4, I think). All in all I’d say it’s just as good, if not a little better, than the first printing (though those extra tokens sure were cool).

Anyway, if you can find a copy, it’s a great game. They go for 40-50 bucks in most stores, though online prices will probably be more expensive. We’ve got a game shop in town that I got mine from but I’ve seen it at Toys R Us (briefly), and on Amazon for a decent price as well.

If anyone has any recommendations for similar games, let me know. I’d love to hear about them. I may do a review for Arkham Horror at some point, but since nobody likes playing that game with me I don’t have as much experience with it (it’s a great game, just has a ton of setup and is slightly complicated to learn).

Thanks for reading
-EW

Today was another rough day. Long day at work, short time to sleep before I do it again tomorrow.

Here’s another video I didn’t create, but I thought you might like it. Tomorrow I will have a real post, promise.

Claymation horror.

Trying out wordpress’s “video post” option this time. No time to talk, got people coming over for a game night. I do not own this video, and I did not make it. I saw it on Reddit a few months ago and really liked it. If you enjoyed it, please go to the youtube page and let the gentleman know. Tell him to keep em comin.

Speaking of which, I will do a post shortly on the best board games ever to exist ever…..EVER!

And no, I’m not talking about Monopoly.

No More Elves in Middle Earth

Okay, so here’s my first ever nerd rant on this blog. And, be warned, my target is the most holy of holies: The works of JRR Tolkien

Now, before I get into this, I need to explain one or two things. I like Middle Earth. I really do. It’s a great world. I do not like to read the works of Tolkien. I respect the man as a world builder, a story teller, and as the father of modern fantasy writing, but his books are not entertaining to me. I like Tolkien in the same way that I like The Beatles and Shakespeare, in small doses, with an incredible amount of respect, but not enough to obsess over their works. I mean, hell, I have a degree in theater and I only like reading/watching Shakespeare from time to time.

Basically, I’m too far removed from his works. He had good stories to tell, but, in my mind, didn’t tell them well. I have no interest reading a book where the main characters walk through the trees for a hundred pages and NOTHING happens. I’ve got shit to do. I really do. I can’t sit down and read the Silmarillion and listen to made up name after made up name. I didn’t finish reading The Two Towers on my first go through, mostly because the entire first half of the book was one plot line (the remains of the fellowship in Gondor), and the second half was an entirely different one (Frodo and Sam). That is not good storytelling. I fucking MISSED the battle of Helm’s Deep in the book. I had to go back and read it again. There was no build up of tension beforehand and the battle lasted maybe two or three pages. Apparently the descriptive language Tolkien had in him went entirely to the trees and birds and he had nothing left to spare.

So, to sum up my first point: Tolkien was an incredibly imaginative person who was not good at writing. That’s always been my interpretation of him. He was a visionary who couldn’t be bothered to follow the most basic tenets of plot structure, which is strange because he created some of the most endearing tropes, characters, landscapes and struggles ever penned. And I don’t really think that this is a time displacement issue, because I’ve read other novels from the time period and they did just fine in the plot/conflict department.

Still with me? If you haven’t fled my blog in disgust, here’s where things get really nerdy. This is my actual rant now.

So, how many of you have ever heard a discussion that goes pretty much like this one? Ah yes, the classic “Why didn’t they ride the eagles to Mordor?” question. Well, let me tell you, even without my knowledge of the books, I can answer that one for you. And the answer is this: Because there were a fuck ton of orcs and goblins all around Mt. Doom, not to mention Nazgul riding fell beasts (Nazgul are the ringwraiths, fell beasts are their flying mounts, don’t get them confused), and a giant fuck off eyeball made of fire and hatred less than a mile away. That’s some pretty powerful incentive for what is essentially an incredibly smart turkey to NOT go someplace. The eagles only go to Mordor after the giant army of evil get’s sucked into a deus ex fissure at the end. So, I just shot down that argument like….well like a bunch of goblin arrows shooting down a giant eagle carrying a ring-bearing hobbit. Then remember I did that without book knowledge. In the books they very specifically say that the eagles will not fly over the lands of men.

And do you know what really bugs me about this type of argument? It’s that it’s so stupid. It’s such a stupid argument to make. It’s a stupid question to ask, and most of the people who answer are stupid in their rebuttal. Nobody ever asks “Well, why didn’t they make a big earthquake before the giant battle?” or “Why doesn’t Gandalf just summon sunshine more often?” Instead they latch on to one apparent (but actually non-existent) plot hole and try to point it out and pretend that they are sharp tacks who know what’s what.

Well, I’m not like that. Oh, I’m kind of like that. I find holes in everything. EVERYTHING! Every damn thing I watch, read, or experience. But I’m different in two ways. Firstly, I don’t point things out to show how smart I am. Without trying to sound pretentious, I know how smart I am. Very. I am incredibly smart. But I also have a smidgen of wisdom, and I have realized that the second I try to act like I am is the exact same second I’ll find out I’m not. Socratic method at work. I’m smart, but I’m not all knowing.

And second, when I find a hole in a piece of fiction, it usually isn’t a tiny plot hole. I find problems with entire mythologies. So, with this in mind, I have a question to ask my readers.

Why the fuck are there no more elves in Middle Earth?

Seriously, what the actual fuck? It’s not like they are being hunted down. It isn’t as though the scenery is ugly. It’s actually quite beautiful. Yes, I understand that they originally came from Valinor, the undying land, and YES I GET that they are unhappy with Middle Earth and the way things have been going, but, honestly, when you get right down to it, the elves are only leaving because they’re bored. They are just as immortal in Middle Earth, and, hey, if they have long enough lives maybe they should, I dunno, actively try to change their adopted home for the better rather than be a bunch of winging douche bags about it. Elves live for fucking ever, you’re telling me NONE of them decided to start up the first Middle Earth YEPA (Young Elves Pagan Association)? And that’s not even the worst part about it.

Why the fuck is everyone so sad the elves are leaving? Come on people, it’s not like they’re getting in a fucking spaceship and blasting off to heaven to leave the pitiful mortals to live in squalor. They’re taking BOATS to another CONTINENT! That…..is…..all. Yeah, it’s a special, blessed holy land, but we all know how that turns out in the end *cough*Israel*cough*. This is not an irreversible process. And if it is then everyone on Middle Earth should be fucking overjoyed that heaven is literally just a fucking boat ride away. If you want to see elves, maybe you should make a boat and go and see some fucking elves.

And that’s my biggest problem. Tolkien’s elves are only kind of special. They don’t come from the Never Never, they don’t inhabit a special plane of existence. They are flesh and blood creatures with a little bit of godly sparkle thrown in. Tolkien was the first person to take the old myths and create a world where those creatures and places were flesh and blood. Then he tried to keep the mysticism and unreality of the old ways, and, to me, it didn’t quite work. Tolkien made elves real, physical things in his world (and Orcs and Dwarfs and Dragons), and then asked us to treat them like they weren’t, like “leaving these shores” was the end all be all. He created a world so completely that I no longer believe that the entire world consists of just one landmass, and as such I no longer believe elves, magic, immortality, or adventure, could ever possibly leave the closed system he created.

Maybe this comes from me having a third person omniscient perspective on everything. I have access to the complete works of Tolkien and everyone he has ever inspired. If I want to sound smart I just get on Wikipedia for twenty minutes and, bam, I’m as close to an expert as makes no difference. But I’m not entirely sure it is. Things take time to become perfected, and if we stick with the past (something Tolkien desperately wanted to do), then we’re going to stagnate.

Anyway, this was….way less funny than I expected it to be. I anticipated having many more links, references, and pictures to add. Guess I got carried away.

Oh well. I’ve fulfilled my own personal requirements and posted something today. Just writing this many words in one sitting has been helpful. Maybe tomorrow I’ll….no….wait, tomorrow I’m busy. Maybe Saturday I’ll actually post some new fiction. Unless Friday spills into Saturday, in which case, you’ll be getting Youtube links until Sunday. Deal with it.

And, as always,l thanks for reading.

Something Scary

Something Scary

Okay, so, the first post of the month (the first real one), is gonna be super short. Here goes.

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a dozen times, short horror is the best horror. I saw this video about a week, week and a half ago. It’s been making the rounds on the interwebz since then, and probably even before, so if you’ve seen it, then good for you. If not, well, watch it. Probably the scariest 2 and a half minutes of film I’ve ever seen. It reminds me of The Grudge, when you first see the onryo. It’s something so unsettling that, even though the camera lingers on the sight of the creature in decent light, that it’s so much scarier than any amount of darkness. (One of my favorite moments in a horror movie is when the creepy girl in the Grudge leans out of the crawl space above the closet for the first time. Those eyes. That sound. It lasts for several seconds and every one of them is scary as fuck, and that’s hard to do.)

Anyway, wanted to share that with you. Tomorrow I intend to give the first of my nerd rants. Buckle up, it should get pretty bumpy.

April Plans

Short post today. Basically, I want to let anyone who reads my blog regularly know a few things about the coming month.

I know I’m not the best at posting regularly, so in the month of April, I plan to post something every day on my blog. It won’t always be fiction. I’m not doing another November writing challenge. But I do intend to post something fairly substantial every day. Maybe a revision of a past story, an interesting bit of flash that I wrote on the fly, an in depth review of a book/movie, or just a nerdy rant of some kind. Expect lots of outside links, silly humor, and, hopefully, compelling entertainment.

As you may, or may not, know, I’m pretty big into Horror (seriously, if you don’t know this by now you should really read…..anything I’ve posted in the past), so a lot of the posts will deal with that genre (i.e. reviews of horror movies/books/games, discussions about common horror tropes, etc…), but it won’t be all I talk about. I’ll talk about fantasy, sci-fi, super heroes, comedy, music. Whatever I want.

The only promise I make is that each post will be entertaining in some way. I want to work on incorporating various forms of media into my blog. Expect to see pictures, links to articles, sound bytes/song clips, and anything else I can think of to make my blog as fun and entertaining as I can. I’m hoping that by establishing a regimen I can overcome my own ingrained laziness and get to work on creating something I can be proud of.

Anyway, this is the first day’s post. Let’s see if I can keep this going.