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We know where we came from

Didn’t know where we’d go.

We knew that time would pass and life would go on

But in what way only time would show.

We traveled wide and far away

Making tracks from our home to distant lands.

Yet never once do we forget or sway

From this home where our heart still stands.

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Descendants (conclusion)

 Origin

 

            He stood in his customary spot, looking out upon the horizon as always.  Every word that had passed his lips he meant, every syllable had carried the promise of the threat, and his actions would show the truth of them.

            This isn’t wise kid, you need them, and they need you.

            Tyler didn’t want to listen, he didn’t want to be reminded.  Too much had been lost already, he’d done his part and it had gotten him nothing but sadness and pain.

            Let it go Tyler.  There’s more for you to do out there, and these women mean to make it happen.  Don’t be a hypocrite man, you’ve done more in the recent past than you’ll admit to.

            The voices wouldn’t stop, wouldn’t relent, and wouldn’t cease to hammer at him this time, each one of them coming quicker and making a more definitive point than they ever had. Worse than their mere presence though was the fact that they were right, but he wouldn’t tell them that.  In life they’d been his friends, his family, but he wasn’t about to give them the satisfaction that they were getting to him. A small curl of his lip indicated his amusement at past events, how they’d lorded over being right when he’d been wrong, though it had been all in play.  If they realized what he was thinking now there would be absolutely no end to it.

            “I’ve made my decision,” he said quietly to the air, his eyes never wavering from the horizon.

            It’s the wrong decision, said the next voice, causing him to look down as the pain of losing her hit him yet again.  Our granddaughter is asking for your help, as are the descendants of our friends.  It’s your responsibility to take charge and return to the world.

            “I won’t,” he growled, not wishing to alienate the spirit of his wife but not wishing to continue this any further, “I gave everything to the world, we gave everything, and nothing came of it. We’re reviled, called betrayers and villains, and nothing’s changed. The Dark is still on the rise and those that try to fend it off are as mistrusting as they are misguided.  This world doesn’t need me anymore, and it certainly doesn’t want me.”

            Are you certain you’re the same man? The older voice almost made him grin, but the next words didn’t.

            The man I knew wouldn’t piss and moan and carry on like this. He’d have already welcomed those young ladies in and done what he could to convince them to stay and make this old world a better place.  Might want to look in a mirror sometime soon kid, just to make sure you didn’t swap skins with someone else.

            “I have made up my mind,” he growled, “They don’t belong here, and the world is no longer my concern.”

            “Maybe it’s you that no longer belongs here,” said an infuriatingly familiar voice, standing far too close for Tyler’s liking as he turned around slowly.  Beholding the newest incarnation of the Creator he couldn’t help but snort in derision as he looked upon the face of Joseph Williams, a favored teacher at his old school and a man whom Tyler had looked upon with great respect during his high school years. 

            The wizened old face of his former coach looked at him with something between frustration and expectation, as though attempting to scold and prepare for trouble at the same time.  It was a wise move in Tyler’s estimation, but one that could easily backfire on him at any second. All he had to do was say the wrong word.

            Turning to face the Creator fully Tyler squared his shoulders, ready for anything should it come. But instead of looking to fight the divine being stopped only a few feet shy of going nose to nose with Tyler. His dark, rheumy eyes sought to bore into the Champion, perhaps seeking to weaken his resolve.  It didn’t work, and wouldn’t so long as the Creator was in his presence.

            “These women are here to help Tyler, and you need to let them.”

            “I recall the last time you tried to tell me what to do, and it didn’t go over very well.”

            The old man’s face pinched slightly as though in annoyance, “That time I didn’t account for what, and who, I was dealing with.  I won’t make that mistake again.”

            “Then you should walk away now,” Tyler said, “Even if you help them it won’t matter.  My mind is made up, and they’ll be leaving soon.”

            “Not if I protect them.”

            Tyler raised a single eyebrow, hardly surprised by the audacity of the arrogant being.  He didn’t truly give a damn what happened so long as the women were removed from his place of serenity.  They could wipe the southern portion of the peninsula clear of the hellcats and claim it as their own and he wouldn’t bat an eye.  All he cared about was being left alone.

            “You’re jumping into the middle of something that doesn’t involve you,” Tyler said, “If you want a repeat of the last time I’d be happy to oblige, but dragging these women into it with you is just shy of being a coward.”

            “Tough talk from a boy that runs from his responsibility.”

            Tyler shook his head as the barb failed to sink in, wondering just how the Creator had managed to get by this long when he obviously knew little to nothing about the beings that he supposedly lorded over.  Be it as it may that the being was responsible for the lot of them it was more akin to an absentee parent than a true caretaker of all races and species.  He’d expected a great deal more from a supreme being in his youth, but those illusions had faded greatly throughout the years, and for good reason.

            “Help them as much as you like, it won’t make a bit of difference.  You’ll fall, they’ll fall, and if I have my way you’ll be exiled from this place as well.”

            The Creator went absolutely silent as he glared intently at Tyler, his jaw clenched so firmly shut that Tyler could almost hear the human teeth inside grinding together.  Pain meant nothing to this being, it would simply keep coming and coming, utilizing one form after another in order to meet its own ends.  Tyler didn’t care, he’d dispense the pain again and again in order to make his point. 

            “Think this over Tyler,” the Creator said finally, his voice grave and serious, “I will not-“

            “Oh go away already!” Tyler snapped, “You’re not telling me anything interesting or new!  You want to fall with them? Fine! I’ll knock you down like I did before, and then later you can come back and tell me how much of a fluke it was!  You think I asked for this? You think I wanted any of it? NO! I would have rather died along with my friends long ago, with honor!  Instead I get to stay here and listen to you, that damned overgrown snake, and anyone else with an opinion tell me how I’m doing it all wrong!  I’ve got news for you, I’m sick of it!  Take your damned purposes and destinies and cram ‘em where the sun doesn’t shine, I’ve had enough of it!”

            The Creator was silent for a moment, the wind passing between them as the fading sunlight glared dully off the bald pate of his assumed form.

            “Are you done?”

            Tyler glared at the Creator so intensely that he saw the being tense, no doubt readying itself for a blow. 

            “I’ll be done come morning.  I’d advise you to find a new form by then.”

            “And why is tha-aah!”

            Tyler didn’t give any warning, didn’t even bother to speak as he reached for the power within, finding it came easily to his call as he reached out with one hand, crossing the distance between himself and the Creator in a blink as the snapping and crunching of bone reached his ears.  The Creator, or rather its body, slumped and then collapsed as Tyler allowed it to fall, the flesh and blood form fading even as he watched. 

            “This one’s broken,” he said to the empty air, knowing the Creator could still hear him.  Inhaling deeply Tyler looked out to the far horizon again, exhaling into the coming night as he thought of the battle to come. 

Children

Having kids is hard, there’s no doubt about it. But overall, children are worth more than they will ever cost.  Their value cannot be given a monetary value, and in this sense they are, for all intents and purposes, priceless.

Think about it this way:

If you live alone, your home is likely to be empty, devoid of any noise save that which you make.  Children create sounds that will melt your heart and fill the largest of spaces with the smallest of sounds.

Life is hard, and adding mouths to feed only makes it harder. But children enrich and sustain much more than your stomach. The smile of a child can warm your heart and keep you going for much longer than anything else.

It is very possible to become stressed out and take life too seriously. Children remind you what it is to wonder and to see the world in a new, exciting way that makes no sense and doesn’t have to in order to be fun.

Sometimes love is a hard and uncertain thing to find. Kids give you love without condition, and without reservation. They are there to be kept happy and secure, and in doing so you will  find that their love is without limit.

So the next time anyone says kids are too much work or aren’t worth the effort, do everyone a favor and disagree.  Kids are worth the trouble, no matter how much they get into.

And 6 Shall Come (excerpt)

Some think that striking is to strike.  Tyler held his weapons lightly as he faced his enemies, falling into the silent mantra that had carried him through many a battle in the past.  For the moment the six humanoid creatures regarded him warily, no doubt wondering how any human could possibly be so fast and so destructive.  He had been vastly outnumbered, placed into a position where he should have by all rights been cut down by one or more blades before he’d done more than down a few of them  Instead he had devastated their numbers, moving through the creatures as though they were made of little more than smoke.

But striking is not to strike, nor is killing to kill.  They were fugly creatures, that was for sure.  They were shaped like men, though their skin was a pale green, almost yellowish color.  Where their flesh wasn’t covered by armor he could see small protrusions that almost looked like bone as they stuck through the flesh. Tyler wondered if the protruding pieces hurt at all, though he found that he didn’t really care. Any pains that the six creatures felt at that moment would soon be a thing of the past.

They who strike and those who are struck.  Tyler watched each of the six warriors carefully as they began to surround him, breathing normally as he had learned so very long ago.  Hundreds of years had passed and not once had he forgotten the lessons that had been given to him so long ago.  He knew the balance between life and death, he knew that killing was at times the same as living and vice versa.  The thought of ‘do no harm’ was a fantasy that no single race had ever truly mastered, no matter their illusions of pacifism.  Tyler had come to realize that in order for balance to occur each side of the spectrum was necessary.  There could not be peace without war, nor could there be war without the desire for peace.  One could not kill without being killed in a way, no one could take a life without losing a bit of themselves in the process.

They are both no more than a dream that has no reality.  Tyler had killed many in his time, staining his soul in the blood of enemies even as he had burned with the fires of both the wicked and the righteous.  Long ago he had fought for what he believed in, blazing a trail of redemption and retribution alongside his family.  That trail had ended when he had gone into exile for what he had thought would be the final solution.  He had cut himself off from the world with no intention of ever going back.  He’d taken himself from the grand equation of the All, or so he had thought.

There was no escaping destiny it seemed, it was as tenacious as any force within the world that had ever been devised.  In the scope of the All there was no hiding away from that which must come to pass, no matter how much one wished it.  A part of Tyler had known that somehow even when he had set foot upon his home once more.  He’d known that one day he would no doubt find it necessary to emerge into the world once more, no matter how detestable he had come to find the realm he’d once fought so hard to preserve.

The six warriors circled him slowly as Tyler could feel their heartbeats within his mind, the familiar beat telling him much of their intentions as he listened very carefully.

Who will it be? he thought to himself, keeping his eyes straight ahead as he paid attention to each one of the warriors without moving his eyes or even a single muscle of his body.  For all the six knew he could have been made of stone as he stood absolutely still, never twitching once as their blades whirled or shook slightly in their hands. Tyler almost smiled as he could feel their nervousness through the air, transferring to him as though it were a palpable scent.  He continued to listen, watch and feel as they circled like buzzards awaiting to alight upon a meal.  Unfortunately for them Tyler was far from dead.

Oh yeah, there’s my bitch, Tyler thought as he sensed the frantically beating heart of one of the warriors behind him.  The telltale thumping of the warrior’s heart gave away his heightened state of alert as well as the fear that was pouring from every pore.  Tyler felt as his fangs seemed to sharpen just a bit in his mouth as he growled low in the back of his throat, tensing just barely as he tightened his grip on his blades. His mind cleared of anything but the moment and all that lay in it, the sensations of those around him and the storm above filling his every thought with the need to focus, to center upon what was needed now.

Tyler reacted quicker than any of the hunters could possibly track, spinning to his left as he brought his right knee up, continuing his spin as he then lifted his right leg on its next swing around.  His right foot connected hard with the face of the first hunter he attacked, breaking the male’s jaw and sending teeth flying as Tyler continued to move. The stricken hunter reeled to the ground as his weapons went flying, hitting hard as Tyler crouched low to attack the next male.  His left blade raised high to block the downward stroke that the alien attempted to catch him with while his right slashed hard against the thick armor that the creature wore.

Composed of pure energy, the weapon parted the armor and the flesh beneath easily as he did not stop to watch the being fall.  Tyler was not focusing at that moment, moving so swiftly that he could feel the energy pulsing within his veins, fueling his every movement as though he were a part of winds that tore across the roof.  Lightning stabbed through the clouds above as he moved aside just in time to avoid the thrust of a long, serrated blade, catching it midway down its length with his own weapon before trapping it with the other.  The creature could not retrieve the weapon, nor could the serrated edge be raked along Tyler’s body as had been intended.  Instead Tyler yanked forward, shoulder blocking the hunter as the male was sent stumbling backward, bereft of his weapon and almost doubled over as though he’d met a brick wall.

The hardening of his skin was a natural effect that had been given to Tyler unknowingly long ago, a quality he had never wanted but had learned to live with.  As the other three hunters came forward he quickly utilized the massive amounts of energy within his body to cause the weapons to disappear.  The weapons shimmered briefly before fading away entirely, becoming little more than wisps of ionized air as Tyler grasped the handle of the weapon that remained.

It was a heavy, cumbersome thing, but Tyler knew little of weight or discomfort at this point, relying upon the awesome power that flowed throughout his body in order to drive the remaining three hunters back with massive swipes of the blade.  The three backed away just a few steps as they once more regarded Tyler with undisguised awe.  Tyler did not attack, nor did he pay attention to the two hunters he’d already taken down, keeping his eyes upon the three as his focus continued to swirl about like the clouds above.

Passing the Torch

By Tom Foster

A lot of us might have fictional characters that we idolize and have looked up to as kids. As the years go by we might forget about them as we grow up, maybe even lose track of their story as we start noticing the wider world around us. But for those of us that were weaned on comic books and stayed faithful to the overall feel of the world within the page it became an absolute treat when we our patience was finally rewarded with the appearance of those heroes in the flesh.

One such character is James Howlett, aka Logan, or as many fans the world over will know him as, the Wolverine. Ever since he came onto the scene the ferocious mutant with the badass attitude and distinctive claws sprouting from each hand managed to grab the attention of many readers and never let go. It’s almost hard to imagine a comic world with Wolverine any longer, as he’s been a pervasive figure throughout many different stories.  He’s the working man’s anti-hero in a way considering that knows what he does isn’t very nice, but he still strives to remain the best at it.

Throughout the decades Wolverine has undergone many changes, from his appearance to the softening of his tough-guy demeanor. There’s always been something lurking beneath the animalistic side, but Logan’s always been good about keeping it hidden.  That could be why he’s been such a popular draw for so long, largely because he identifies with the crowd despite his oddities. Logan has for the most part attempted to get along with society, but still remain apart from it.

The newest installment of Logan’s story depicts the man that couldn’t be killed finally showing a bit of wear and tear as his advanced years and the continued exposure to his unbreakable skeleton finally cause his body to start wearing out.  He’s distanced himself from almost everyone, but still remains a part of society out of necessity. His relationship with his fellow mutants, those that remain, is sketchy and even a bit argumentative at times, but it has become something to cling to and, in some cases, cherish.

When presented with the reality that there is another mutant like him however, Logan is loathe to take on yet another responsibility. This is the Wolverine that we all know and love, the tough guy that wants no part of a fight that isn’t his to start, but the same guy that will stand up for someone when pushed.  The passing of the torch in this movie is quite touching and more than a little hard to absorb considering that it means saying goodbye to a character that has been around for longer than several others, and is without a doubt one of the most relatable to many people.

It might seem odd to say goodbye to a fictional character, but as a writer and a fan I must say this: godspeed to you Logan, you were and always be a fan favorite and one of the best characters to ever grace a comic panel. “Logan” was an awesome tribute to a spectacular character, and he will be missed.

Just Run

Just Run

There were plenty of exits, but there were also plenty of them. The memory of what had already happened to Drew made a thin sheen of sweat pop out on his forehead and his guts to cramp in a knot just thinking about what lay in wait for him. A perverse part of his mind couldn’t help thinking about when someone might possibly think that the guy in the bathroom stall wasn’t just taking the world’s longest-

“Turn around Stephen.”

He whirled around, only to come close to colliding with a young woman that backed away suddenly, a drink cup sloshing in one hand and a slice of pepperoni pizza almost falling out of her other hand.  She gave him a scathing look as he wiped at his forehead, muttering a muted apology as she moved away.  His throat was parched at that moment and the clatter of ice cubes jostling against one another almost made the nauseous feeling his stomach give way.  Almost, but not quite.

There were people all around him, standing still, moving about, and otherwise engaged with the stalls and merchants that made up the greater portion of the comic-con.  The space in which the convention was being held was nothing compared to the main show that was held in San Diego, but Portland at least knew how to cater to the geeks and freaks that enjoyed such shows.  Despite the fact that the voice had been right behind him, Stephen could see nothing, not even a hint of someone that might be waiting, or watching too closely.

To be fair he wasn’t a cop or even fully aware of his surroundings most of the time. He

was a game analyst that was paid to attend these shows to see what kind of new product and

ideas might be hitting the market soon.  He and Drew had managed to get here early every day of

the event, which had started on Friday.  They’d attended panels, taken their turn testing their

hand at the gaming stalls located in the far northwest corner of the cavernous space, and had had a good time in general on their company’s dime. It was good life, but sometimes it had its pitfalls.  For instance, the crazies that already explained their rhyme and reason for wanting him and Drew dead.

They’d caught Drew slipping obviously, but then the overweight, self-absorbed game designer had never been that aware anyway.  Where Stephen was careful and at least humble enough to admit that he was hopeless in many ways, Drew had always been a little reckless and didn’t think through what he said or did all the time. Maybe that was why their latest venture, a first-person game titled “Silent Nation” had elicited this type of reaction from those that were even now stalking him.  The material that Drew had insisted upon putting in the game had almost gotten it banned in more than one country, but the team of lawyers their company kept on retainer were the type that could convince a person that “Nightmare on Elm Street” was a kid’s fairy tale, and so “Silent Nation” had gone global with a vengeance.

The first reaction to the game and its graphic violence had been as expected. Fans had either loved the disturbing visuals, no-holds barred sequences that entertained torture, mutilation, and crimes against humanity that were never shown but were implied. They’d eaten it up despite the next wave of reactions that had included shock, horror, and outright anger levied by groups that had attempted to file lawsuit after lawsuit against their company.  Freedom of speech had won out time and again however, and “Silent Nation” had continued to roll.  It was only when the most disturbing letters started arriving that Stephen had found reason to believe that what they were doing wasn’t right.

He’d received a handwritten letter nearly a year ago telling him that if the game wasn’t

pulled that eventually the only silence he would enjoy would be that of the grave. It was simple,

cheesy, and to the point, but it had struck a chord he hadn’t been ready to ignore.  Drew of course had laughed and waved it off as another nut job making the obligatory death threat.  Such things did happen in their business, but nothing ever came of it. No matter how much someone didn’t like the games they produced, they were either too afraid of legal actions that could be taken or were all bluster.  But still, this had felt different, and now he knew why.

He’d already thought about telling security about his friend’s death, but for some strange reason he hadn’t done so. It wasn’t a need for vengeance, Drew had been a jerk in his opinion and probably gotten what he deserved. But somewhere in this convention was a killer, or many killers according to the letter he’d received, and he couldn’t be sure of who was who.  It was paranoia, it was fear, and it was working.  For all he knew the costume his killer would wear would be something completely innocuous. They could be dressed in street clothes and he wouldn’t know until the blade slipped in between his ribs.

Stephen knew his overactive imagination was messing with him, but looking around at the press of people he knew it wasn’t the only thing that was making him nervous. He had no idea who his attacker might be, or where the attack might come from. In front of so many people it seemed unlikely, but just as in the game he’d helped create, there were too many choke points that could offer a tempting opportunity.  The mere fact that Drew had been killed in the men’s room attested to the bold nature of their assailants.

“Just run Stephen,” said a voice from his left, forcing him to gasp as he turned in that direction.

“Just run,” said another voice, feminine this time, from somewhere to his right.

“More fun if you run,” said a voice in a singsong manner that left chills running down his

spine. They were all around him evidently, watching from every angle possibly, and constantly

on the move. Figures moved by in full costume, many dressed up to represent their favorite movie characters, others depicting popular television characters, and more than a few dressed in regular attire. He couldn’t look in any direction without seeing people, and continuing  to turn around in the midst of the crowd would surely draw people’s attention in a way that would not help him.

“Are you okay man?”

Stephen spun about, sweat glistening on his brow as he felt the pack he was wearing shift with the sudden movement. The person standing in front of him couldn’t have been out of his teens, but the look in his eyes denoted an intelligence that was far beyond his years.  Stephen found this an odd thought to have, but as the young man, dressed in a faded Star Wars t-shirt and equally faded jeans, opened his mouth again, Stephen felt his blood turn to ice.

“Don’t draw attention, don’t look out of sorts, and definitely don’t get any funny thoughts. Wherever you go, we’re watching.” The younger man said this with a friendly smile on his face, as though he and Stephen were old friends just catching up. It made the words that much more jarring in Stephen’s opinion.  “Shake your fat butt to the exit and we’ll see it. Exit the convention before it ends and you won’t make it home.  Draw attention to us in any way and you won’t make it two steps to the exit.  For now just know what we have you, and you won’t be going anywhere until we say so.”

Stephen was about to protest, to say something, but as he opened his mouth he felt a light tap on the back of his left shoulder.

“Run Stephen.”

He spun about only to see that no one was there. His heart was hammering in his chest

now as he turned around to speak to the younger man again. But he was gone, much as Stephen

should have expected. It should have been impossible to move so fast and without notice, but in a crowded space such as this Stephen found that he could easily explain how it was done.  After all, wasn’t that one of the main premises of “Silent Nation” that you could disappear with the proper misdirection?

Licking his lips Stephen did the one thing he’d never done in his life, he made a quick and decisive choice to simply go for it. He’d heard the warning quite well, and believed the young man without a doubt. But he didn’t want to be here anymore. If what had happened to Drew was any indication he wouldn’t be making it out of here alive if he went by the rules of those stalking him. They were playing with him much the same way that the assassins on “Silent Nation” were designed to play with their prey, and fortunately he knew a way out of the system that they might not have accounted for.

So thinking he began to make his way for the nearest exit, keeping his peripheral vision sharp and his ears perked just in case. He wasn’t an expert tracker or even a good fighter, but he knew how to listen and how to pay attention.  There were two security guards, a man and woman, conversing with one another as he came close, and by the third step he could see motion in his left peripheral vision. He kept going anyway, daring the fates to deal him that next card that he could play, hoping for his chance to pull the ultimate trump card to stymie the efforts of his would be killers. He was a game analyst after all, he knew all the secrets and how to stack the deck.

He could sense motion on both sides of him as he approached the security guards, who had finally noticed his approach. At his smile the woman, nearly half his size and quite pretty, stepped forward and held up a hand, her dazzling grin stopping him cold as she spoke.

“You were told to run.”

What I Have

I don’t have all the answers. In truth I wouldn’t want to. It’s better to enjoy the uncertainty of life no matter how frightening it might be. Why? Because it is a part of being human, and a part of life that is meant to remain as a mystery that must be unveiled before we can come to any realizations of the truths and falsehoods we live by.

I don’t have the most intelligent mind in the world. Would I like to? Not really. I’m pretty happy with what I have. There are moments that spark within my head an intelligence that is canny and quite cunning, and that is what I am comfortable with to be quite honest. There’s no need for me to be the smartest or even wittiest person in the room, as I am confident that I am as smart as I need to be on many occasions.

I am not the most charming or persuasive person around. I will be the first to admit that I don’t particularly like a lot of people and prefer my solitude at times. But overall, I know when to get along and when to back away from society.

So what do I have?

I have a family that cares for and depends on me. No matter how crazy they drive me, or how gray my hair might get in the next decade or so, they will always be there, and I will always be there for them. I have loved ones that care for me and in turn are cared for by me.

I have one hellishly good imagination when it comes to writing. I’ve designed entire worlds that need only the right push to be exposed to the readers I would like to see my work. Yet for all that I am content in the creation, and do not grasp and scheme to place my works over others. It would be nice to be known, but I am just as happy in the writing.

What I have is, overall, a sense that no matter how insignificant one life is to the world, and no matter how lost I might become in the overwhelming crowd of humanity, the sense that my life does have meaning. It means no less or more than anyone else’s, and in that I find comfort. The meaning we affix to our lives is the only real distinction that exists when claiming that one person is more important than the next. If you believe you are important then believe it, but do not deny the worth of another.

I have made a point that invites a wide variety of arguments, and in this I have served my purpose.

Life of a Parent

Monday- Gotta go, got to get to work. Let’s see, kids are fed, dressed, screaming and running all over the place, check. Keys are….where are my keys? Oh wait, they’re in my hand. Got my coat, got my bag, got…..no pants. Pants are a good thing, need pants.  (Five minutes later) Out the door, wait, kids need to go to daycare/school, got to take the kids. (Fifteen minutes of kicking, screaming, and whining later) Off we go!

Tuesday- See Monday, just a little more tired, dragging a little more towards the door. Remembered the pants, forgot the keys, found them in my hand again. Kick, scream, whine and off we go! (groan)

Wednesday- It’s only Wednesday! Pants, keys, kick, whine, tantrum. Off we go!

Thursday- Oh God make it stop….Got everything (but my sanity), off we go!  Wait, where’re the kids? Kick, scream, stomp feet, let’s go!

Friday- Just make it through the day, just make it through the day, just make it through the day…..

Saturday- Sleeping in is overrated, especially when you’ve got a couple of wide-eyed little monsters jumping up and down on your bed. Wide awake at 6am on a Saturday but have to be rolled out of bed on a school day. Oy vey. Oh well, it’s Saturday, kick back and relax for the five minutes that the kids let you.

Sunday-  Enjoy the morning because the rest of the day will be prep for the oncoming week. Strap in and buckle up, ’cause we’re doing it all again….

I know, a little dramatic, but for those of you with kids just try and tell me this never happens, I will laugh hysterically as I call you a liar.

Original

By Tom Foster

Are there original thoughts any more?  Do ideas just keep coming to people, or are they recycled over and over again in an attempt to try to pull some last little vestige of undiscovered material from something that’s been seen dozens of times before? Is that why we see reboot after reboot of our favorite movies coming out?  It might make sense to try and try again with a failed franchise or even to make another worthy attempt at creating the magic that was captured during the beginning of a winning series, but sometimes it seems that all is being done amounts to beating the proverbial dead horse.  Eventually all that comes of it is fatigue and a tired old story that has no more to give.

So why do it?

You might need to ask a studio executive why the cookie cutter routine is so popular, but in truth you can also look to the generations that are growing up in this era. Keep in mind that they have no real idea of what it was like to watch those first films roll out, and won’t know what it was like to experience your favorite character onscreen in a way you’d never seen before. Growing up in the 1990s and later, kids won’t even know what life was like before the internet or movies that weren’t molded from the same stereotypical formula that is so easy to spot nowadays.

There is originality left, but to date that quality has been buried by the same old thing that the audience eats up like candy.  Those in charge know very well what sells and what they can pawn off as “original”. There is a wide variety of originality left in the world, but in order to see it you must first part the curtains of useless formula and make up your own mind about what is worthwhile. If nothing else, you’ll see something new.

Shadows and Dust (Of Light and Shadows excerpt)

Does anything surprise you anymore?

            Tyler stood to his feet, his strength returning in a vicious wave of retribution and untold malice as he glared hard at the man he saw now behind the filth-covered window of the strange, unprecedented object now hurtling at them all like some deranged beast with no thought to either its safety or others.  He could see the lumbering trail behind it, the round, rotting logs that swayed back and forth like a child’s toys about to spill from their loose and no doubt frayed bonds as Howard saw him as well.

            He saw those surrounding him, could perceive Marijka Cotrone and Rebecca Adams, two old friends that had been among his staunchest allies in the years he’d fought like a fool against the truth of his existence.  They were here to eliminate him, to silence the words he would speak, to quiet him before he could offer them the true path that they should have all trod upon so long ago. 

            So is there a plan?

            The echoing voice of Sarah Mckenzie filled his mind as Tyler took in the scene fully, turning around just enough that he could see the clan members, he could see Howard and his somehow functional semi-truck, and he turned just enough he could see, for some odd reason, Jillian Poole and Grizzle running towards the group, followed by a hulking thing he had seen before, its muscular, scaled form heaving and rippling as it sought to bring the pair down.  He furrowed his brow only a moment as he took in the scene in its entirety.  The power was already building within him again, without any real reason but still with a presence he could feel and instantly responded to, his skin hardening as the storm high above continued to thrash and tear its way across the sky, threatening to black out the celestial view from one horizon to the next as arcs of lightning continued to play across the dark, billowing folds as they churned and collided with one another.

            First things first.  Turning to gaze upon Howard Woodall he felt the power flare along with his anger as he quickly dismissed the blade in his right hand, clenching it into a hard claw before raising it towards the truck, particularly its grill.

            There were only a few seconds before the onrushing truck would collide with the group and, consequentially, with him, but Tyler stood his ground, noticing as the others backed away, running for safety as the inexplicable came ever closer, Howard’s insane look of glee only heightening the moment as Tyler focused, feeling the connection between himself and the truck as a poignant reminder of who he was, what he was, and what he could do.  He dimly heard someone shouting his name, telling him to run, to get out of there, to find a safe place, but he did not listen.  Where he was standing was just fine, the winds whipping around his form as a bolt of lightning high up in the heavens lit the world for just a brief second, arcing so brightly that it lit Howard’s maniacal features in such a way that for a moment the difference between him and the thing known as Secha’kas was minimal, their alien countenances appearing so similar in a way that Tyler could feel nothing but contempt for the man.

            He flexed his will, and the world around him felt it.  Metal buckled, primary and vital components burst from sockets, stripped bolts, and all at once a grinding, terrible ripping sound came from within the truck as its engine housing snapped and tore, the thick, durable metal twisting and bending as though made of warm putty, causing a maelstrom of chaos within its innards as the entire works fell apart, shuddering and stuttering as metal pieces flew at high speeds into the thick truck tires, shredding them instantly as they continued on, punching holes into the metal rims as the truck shuddered yet again, its entire front end collapsing as smoke and flames billowed forth, obscuring his view of Howard, but not before he could see the man’s absolutely furious look of hatred, his jaw working though no sound came out as Tyler pushed yet again, forcing even more energy into the effect as the truck suddenly halted, crumpling like a tin can as what was left of the engine was forced backward, almost directly into Howard’s lap as its load jackknifed and, hitting the truck at just the right angle, rose into the air, spilling its load entirely as logs the size of a school bus and larger came raining down upon those assembled upon this spot.

            Tyler looked up, his will far from spent as he allowed the truck to settle, focusing his will now upon the descending logs as he could see that no less than fourteen of the long and still very solid wooden pylons were now set to pummel him into the ground, colliding with one another in midair with enough force to shake showers of bark loose as it then rained to the ground.  He raised his right hand again, straining only slightly as he raised his left as well, forming it into a claw just as with his right. The power swelled out and up, threatening to dissipate as the added force of gravity sought to make it collapse. But the Champion was beyond such trivial matters, pouring more and more into his effect as the energy did as he commanded, reaching out towards the falling logs with such speed and intensity that he could see them pause and almost halt in midair, though their own momentum would not allow for a full stop. 

            He could do it, but he did not wish to succumb so fully to the All, to give himself over to the power that would enable him to flout any and all natural laws, to rewrite them if he saw fit.  Tyler did not know why, such power could carry value of such worth that it might erase the need to feel, to regret, to even think upon such things.  But something kept him from that simple step, something he could not define just now.  And so thinking, he pushed, feeling the connection between himself and the logs as they continued to fall, the power that bound man and inanimate wood together as he reached up, and up, and up.  As the wooden rain began to descend closer and closer, Tyler ceased pushing, and instead, positioned his hands so that his palms faced outward from his body. Then, he pulled.

            Let us go.

            It was nearly his undoing, but the voice only strengthened his resolve as Tyler flexed his will once again, forcing the logs to separate in a violent storm of crackling mayhem as bark, sapwood, and heartwood all released their physical bonds at once, the many layers parting in a sudden hailstorm of debris and dust as they entered Tyler’s closer aura of destruction, hammering upon his personal shield like a board upon a wood-chipper, reduced to little more than sawdust and splinters in instants as the Champion weathered it easily, feeling the dry deluge as he looked around to observe his handiwork.

            Others were not so fortunate as he.  Looking upon the ensuing chaos he could see that several of the clan members had been felled by the falling logs, either crushed so horribly and completely that they had perished instantly or would soon enough expire.  Those merely pinned by the logs were howling in pain or quickly going into shock, pushing at the heavy lengths of wood that held them down without much hope of success.  Tyler pitied not a one of them, casting his gaze about still as he saw that the daemon, Secha’kas, had also suffered in such a manner, its upper body lying beneath a heavy log while the other half of its grotesque form was still several yards behind it, the spike of bone that had been its spine jutting from its flesh like a broken spar.  The mere sight made Tyler grin, though it was utterly without humor.

            “Tyler!  Damn it’s good to see you, I-ah!”

            Tyler reacted to Jillian’s sudden presence without any true thought, swiping out more from reflex than any true desire to harm as she and Grizzle took a step back, the great cat snarling at him as he flashed his fangs, his ears flattening against his skull as Tyler did not relent, the dark, blazing sword in his right hand held close enough to his body that he could feel its need to destroy, to undo, to rend apart this woman that thought she could approach so easily. 

            He recognized her, but as with everyone else, he knew now the falsehood that she so firmly believed in.  The master had shown him the truth, and that was all that mattered.

            “What the hell was that for?!” Jillian asked.  Tyler did not respond save to advance, heeding Grizzle not at all until the cat, obviously tired of backing away, sprang forth, protecting his friend in the only manner he knew how.  He was an afterthought only a second later as Tyler ducked low before spinning about, his blow sure and swift as he came behind the cougar, lashing out once as Grizzle’s snarling voice suddenly went silent, the opposite pieces of his body flying apart in a spray of blood as his head landed with a hard thud several feet away, still jetting dark, crimson fluid as his body twitched and pawed at the ground, taking several moments to realize it was dead.

            Jillian’s cry of outrage and shock was to be expected, but as she looked to Tyler it took her a moment to draw her weapon, and it was a moment that would have been her end if the Champion had not been faced with a sudden onslaught of sound that came from directly in front of him.  Appearing from nowhere it seemed, Rebecca Adams struck the ground with her staff as she roared out a single word, a single negative, the force of her attack staggering him for only a moment, which was long enough for her to press the attack as she quickly told Marijka to get Jillian out of there.

            For once Marijka did not waver in her duty, grabbing Jillian as the two of them jumped away, disappearing as Rebecca stayed to face down her friend.  The storm continued to rage around them, and as Tyler listened, he could have sworn he heard the sound of yelling, maniacal howling, and the gnashing of teeth from afar.  Apparently Secha’kas had not been alone this time.

            “Fight this now Tyler,” Rebecca warned, “Don’t make us destroy you!”

            He might have laughed at that had she not attacked again, this time with her staff as she came closer, close enough that he might have been able to counter her blow had his ears not been ringing and his balance not temporarily taken away.  As it was he was only able to move, to defend her attack as it drove hard into his blade, the gleaming white implement she used blackening only slightly as it met the dark flames of his weapon.  Rebecca pulled back for another blow, coming up under his block this time as she stabbed him hard in the ribs with the end of her staff, pushing even harder as he couldn’t help but fold over the weapon, glaring up at her as she pushed again, trying to flip him onto his back as Tyler did his best to resist.

            Try as he might however the momentum was currently on her side, allowing Rebecca to lift and then flip Tyler over onto the ground with an impact harsh enough to drive the wind from his lungs momentarily as she then laid the staff firmly upon his throat, the tip poised to crush his larynx should he even twitch wrong.

            “Surrender Tyler, and we’ll find a way to bring you back.  Don’t make me kill you.”

            Tyler’s rage peaked yet again, and as Rebecca could feel it she moved to place more pressure upon her weapon, but she was too late.

            Had he been anyone else, her threat might have actually carried some weight, might have actually been worth the words that were used to speak it.  But he was the Champion, he was the power behind their former clan, the one that had trained them all in a manner of speaking, and he knew their weaknesses, and how to exploit them.  And more than that, he was just that damned tough, and that quick.

            Before Rebecca could react, Tyler lashed out with one hand, batting the staff away from his throat as she pushed, finding that she had thrust her weapon into hard asphalt only, and nothing else.  Before she could pull back Tyler had pulled his knees in close to his torso, thrusting them out forcefully as he lifted his hips, catapulting himself to a standing position as he flexed his will once again, summoning to his empty left hand another weapon, this one familiar in shape and design with its dark black blade and golden hilt, its twin cutting edges ascending at outward angles until they reached the point where they both angled in towards the tip. 

            Rebecca moved back into a defensive posture, her heart thumping madly in her chest as she faced down her friend, realizing that whatever chance she’d thought she had was now gone.  There was no true defense against this man, not any longer.  All she could do now was hope for a good, clean death.

            But she still had to try.

            Tyler came on in a flurry, his shorter blade leading as he stabbed and thrust, evading and ducking around Rebecca’s best strikes as though she was a mere novice, managing to strike the first blow in this new round of madness as she watched his longer blade roll around her staff, blackening and charring it along its destructive path as it came across the top of her weapon, stabbing out suddenly like striking serpent as the flame dug into her body before the blade did, the darkened steel feeling cold, almost the icy needles of death as it slid into her left shoulder with horrid ease, slipping out just as easily, leaving behind the black, charred mark of ruined flesh and clothing and the painful ache of the Dark as it began to enter her body, and her soul. 

            Rebecca did her best to fight against it, denying the Dark any true hold upon her body as she felt the use of her left arm fading, dwindling down to nothing as she attacked.  Despite being off balance she managed to slip in one last attack as the left end of her staff connected hard with Tyler’s jaw, breaking it in at least one place as the Champion reeled away, spinning to his left as she pressed the attack, only to realize her error in the next second.  He hadn’t been reeling in pain, he’d been reeling her in, and she had fallen for it.

            Tyler pivoted around on the balls of his feet, crouching low for just a split second before rising back up, turning fully as he swept his shorter blade up, keeping her at just enough of a distance as she sought to defend herself by bringing her staff vertical with her body, holding it parallel to her body as she prepared for impact.

            Tyler’s long blade sheared easily through the wooden staff, leaving her holding both halves as she thought quickly, rapping him alongside the jaw yet again with the right piece before she was forced to drop the left, the pain in her shoulder too intense to withstand even the lightest of grips.  Tyler backed away just a step, and then he was on her again, his eyes blazing with fury as Rebecca’s breath came hard and fast, mirroring her heartbeat as he attacked.

            He bashed at her half length of staff with both weapons, the left first followed swiftly by the right, forcing her to stumble a step in that direction as she then quickly raised the half weapon again, determined not to fall to her knees. Just as quickly Tyler battered her weapon to the other side, using his longer blade first this time, followed swiftly by the shorter.  Again Rebecca was battered to the side, stumbling so hard that she felt her teeth clack over her tongue, drawing blood as every joint in her body thrummed with agony.  She couldn’t take much more of this, and as Tyler repeated the gesture again, this time back to the right, she almost fell to a knee, but with grit and determination she held on, taking much more time to right herself this time as Tyler reached back with both blades now, bringing them forward in a motion that nearly cut Rebecca in half as she felt the icy cold flames enter her body, the dark, insubstantial steel cutting flesh, organs, and whatever lay in its way almost in half as she felt the last spark of life leave her in that second, her eyes glassing over even as she fell to the ground. The half piece of staff fell from her nerveless fingers, clattering forlornly to the asphalt, the last breath of air escaping her lungs even as Tyler stood over her, taking only a moment to gaze upon her corpse.

            He stepped over the former leader of the DarkSong Knights, his task was complete, and he had heard the voice of his master yet again.  The hunt would continue.