This is a horror flash fiction that I wrote after reading the first Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book after re-watching the movie. I hope you enjoy it. It is short, have fun.
On the other side of town there is a house that leans and creaks, nearly falling into the river. You know the one, by the bridge? It is a house with one floor and paint that peels from its walls.
In this house lived a small boy and his father. The mother had left for the coast a few years ago, after the Dad had yelled one too many times. She was lucky because she escaped, but she wasn’t able to take Steven away.
Steven was a small kid. Always covered in mud and wearing ratty clothes. People would drive by and see him playing outside. They would drive by and whisper to each other that it wasn’t right how that Daddy treated his boy. That it was so sad what had happened.
Then they would drive away, little Steven’s eyes glowing red in their tail lights.
As he got older he stayed small. His clothes became threadbare, and he stopped going to school. He would play in the yard all day and night, going to the river behind the house.
People who drove over the bridge would sometimes watch as they saw his Daddy take him by the collar and pull him up the porch stairs and into the house. He wouldn’t be seen for a few days after this. And the yelling couldn’t be heard by those who drove their cars down the road, with their radio turned up.
They turned their radios up because they knew.
Across the bridge was a pet shop, and the owner was friends with the boy’s mother. When she was still in town, they would talk in the library sometimes. That was why she gave Steven the lizard on his birthday.
Steven would smile and chase the lizard around the yard. Collecting coins from the grates on the side of the road and picking up bottles to return was how he paid for the lizard’s care.
Then, Steven’s Dad came home drunk one day. Steven was dragged outside and crying. Cars passing by saw this and saw the Dad holding a dark green lizard by its tail as it kicked and flailed. The Dad gave the lizard to the boy and yelled at him.
“THROW IT AWAY! GET THIS OUT OF MY HOUSE!” He yelled. Steven fell to the ground and cried.
He couldn’t do it.
So his Dad did. He threw the lizard into the river.
The drivers did call for help this time, and when Steven’s Dad came back to the house to take care of his boy after his two years. Steven had something waiting for him.
* * *
People haven’t seen Steven since his Dad’s body was found. His back was cracked in half and head chewed to bits, his lower half was down the river and his upper half at the out pipe for the storm drains. The pipe that was next to his house. Not a lot of people remember Steven now, but a few older people do. Not a lot of older people left in this town now…
You can tell who remembers Steven though. They avoid that house. But that doesn’t stop them from being found dead. Chewed apart down the river.
Those who are still alive won’t live much longer when they hear the child’s voice laughing from the storm drains. Echoing through the pipes. Followed always by short words from an unfamiliar voice that they strangely still know, and the snapping of long jaws.
Over on my movies blog that I manage with Beau (my significant other, husband, boyfriend, etc), we do a series of posts called ‘What I Watched’. These posts list what we have watched, how many times we have watched each, and then we include short recommendations for our favorites. These recommendations are not comprehensive reviews, but are how written like how we would recommend them to a friend or colleague. A short pitch with hype and our favorite bits in an elevator ride length statement.
As I had discussed in my January post, I have been journeying to becoming a regular reader of books. Last year I read 11 books. This year so far (at the time of this writing) I have read 18 books out of my goal of 25 for 2020. In summary, I have been reading more and want to continue to read more books. I also want to talk about the books that I read and record my reading habits somewhere besides just Goodreads.
This is why I will be starting a series of posts called ‘Reading’ where I adopt the same list and recommendation format of the ‘What I Watched’ series.
Rules of this Series
Since this series will be new to this blog, I think it is important to introduce some rules:
The items listed are just what I have read. Them being on the list is not an endorsement of quality or a value judgement. A book being on this list just means I read it or started reading it.
I will only recommend books that I would recommend. These will not be comprehensive reviews, just a quick pitch and the content warnings that I can remember from when I read the book.
No number rating systems. Fuck those. They always suck.
These are the rules that I will adhere to when writing in this series. A post may only be two books long, or seven long. If I have a book I want to recommend then that is when a post will be made.
Now for the first list…
What I have read so far…
This first list will be pretty long, as I am going to list all of the books that I have read in 2020 so far in one post. So hold onto your butts, and prepare for my recommendations at the end!
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Mongrels by Nathan Graham Jones
The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley
Peace, Pipe by Aliya Whiteley
No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg
On Writing by Stephen King
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman #1) by Neil Gaiman
Ronin by Frank Miller
The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard
The Ritual by Adam Nevill
Pet Sematary by Stephen King
Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk
In the Tall Grass by Stephen King and Joe Hill
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
Out of these 18 books there are only a few that I feel comfortable recommending. As in, there are only a few standouts that I would recommend, that are not already commonly recommended on a reading list online.
The Beauty (& Peace, Pipe) by Aliya Whiteley: The Beauty is not a long book. It would actually be a very short paperback if the copy that I ordered did not also include the story Peace, Pipe by the same author. The Beauty was described as a story about love between mushroom people and the loneliness of men in an apocalypse where all of the women became sick and died. The Beauty is more than that, that summary is like calling Pet Sematary a book about cats and cemeteries. The Beauty felt like a story about loneliness and emotional vulnerability where the body horror was fulfilling the emotional needs of the apocalypse’s survivors. That the men who are left behind were willing and wanting to change if it meant that they wouldn’t be alone anymore. That they would accept any change in stereotypical heterosexual partner roles, even if it resulted in physical changes, if it meant they would feel love in coupling again. The Beauty has weird plant sex with people, and people growing new genitals in order to couple with mushroom folks. It’s weird, horrific, and hopeful for a future after a transitional apocalypse.
The second story in the paperback was Peace, Pipe. This story was also a page turner that dwells on thoughts of loneliness and the types of interactions that people need in their existence. That people will find and invent what they need in order to remain whole. Peace, Pipe is about someone who is a linguist who interprets the speech of a pipe in their prison cell, who keeps them company and motivates them to do all in their power to try to fix the mess she has made on another planet and their peoples.
If you choose to check out The Beauty then here is the warnings that I would give to a friend: there is body horror (genitals growing, mushroom child birth), domestic violence signs, and screams of someone being sexually assaulted by mushroom people. Both stories in this paperback are emotionally intense and very good. The most standout horror I have read this year so far.
Mongrels by Nathan Graham Jones: I read this book using Kindle Unlimited but I expect next year to read it again and will be seeking a paperback so I can take notes. This is the first werewolf book that I have read (besides Twilight), and it has set an immensely high bar of quality in what I should expect in future books centered on werewolves. Mongrels takes place in the modern day and is told from the perspective of a young boy who grows up being cared for by his aunt and uncle who are werewolves. Their family is poor and moves often, as people and animals die wherever they go, the family has to move to avoid suspicion.
Mongrels shows what a deep and well explained lore for werewolves can do. They were immensely believable characters that I grew to love dearly in the same way you appreciate your parents more as you grow older. The aunt and uncle are just doing their best to prepare their nephew for being both a person and a werewolf. Teaching him of the dangers inherent in each, and of the unique dangers of being both a wolf and a person. That having to move around often means that you don’t have a income and a job history that isn’t exclusively short stints across the country. Werewolves can just eat what they catch, so this isn’t too terrible, but when you have a kid who can’t shift yet in tow you need human safe food. So you break into cars and dig between the seats for enough change to buy one gas station hot dog. This is a stark description of poverty that is tough to read through, and is only me summarizing one specific instance.
If I don’t read another book with werewolves in it again, I feel satisfied with what I have read in Mongrels alone. I want more of course, but this was a fine treat that I will be hard pressed to find another like it that hits as hard in all the right places as this did. It’s because of this that everything Nathan Graham Jones has written for books was added to my reading list before I even finished Mongrels.
If you are going to check this book out (and I would highly recommend it), then be aware of the following content warnings: pregnancy horror, violence/gore, hunger, and descriptions of poverty. This probably is not a complete list of warnings, but these are the big ones that I can remember months after finishing it.
On Writing by Stephen King: One of the first books that I can remember really digging into and reading completely was a hardcover copy of Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew when I was a kid perusing my local public library. I haven’t read much of his beyond that book, but I have enjoyed most of the movies that I have seen based on King’s stories, and the impact Skeleton Crew had on me may be one of the earliest seeds of my love of the horror genre being planted in my mind and heart. That was one reason why On Writing interested me, I also wanted to read about how Stephen King got into writing and his feelings concerning his writings.
I also wanted to read King’s tips and tricks on how he writes, which is what the back half of this book is all about. Its text recommendations and thoughts on how to set up a space and write. It’s told through anecdotes and stories of his life and was just as energizing to read as well as motivating. After I finished reading On Writing, I wrote a couple short stories and had a reading spree while I still wiped away my tears from reading his description of the infamous car accident.
If you choose to read this book, the major warnings on content are that he details his struggles with alcoholism, drugs, and a very difficult car accident description with accident recovery.
There isn’t much left for me to say at the end of this post. I don’t write conclusions for the posts in the ‘What I watched’ series, so it feels weird to write one here. Even if it is the first in a series, the end of a recommendation feels final by itself. I’ll wrap this post up this way I guess… I hope you, dear reader, are safe, in good health, and well.
The quarantine has been exhausting as I am sure everyone
knows. The stress of having to keep working, and taking care of yourself while
the dark shadow of the news pulls down your shoulders. It’s overwhelming on the
good days and numbing on the worst, to the point of pushing someone to become
distant. For me, that means watching movies and TV (all of ‘Mindhunter’ in one
sitting for example).
Before I go much further, I am going to make my decision
here clear: I am going to suspend my
Patreon. I am going to stop charging people, what is here will continue to
be left up but no new posts will be made for the foreseeable future. This has
taken some thought, so this post will be public and is also a little longer
than my previous written posts here. Over the past 2 months I have had a few
important, or at least big impact events occur. This quarantine is one of them.
The second is finishing my 2nd semester of college. The third is realizing that
I have fallen out of love with creative work. All of these have congealed into
an anxiety monster that has stopped me from accomplishing much of anything.
As some probably know, I am currently a student at Champlain
College for a degree in Game Art & Animation. With the conclusion of the
spring semester I have finished my freshman year (the first of the four for my
degree). Fall was a thrill to be a part of and ignited an energy to work and
get things done. I was finishing assignments, I wasn’t late often and I felt
incredibly productive. This lead into winter break, where I wrote upwards of
8000 words of game text in mini supplements. With this I felt prepared for a
new year and was confident in my ability to release some creative work.
When I started my spring semester I had fun: taking on new
duties as an RA and with the assignments in my new classes. However, I quickly
started to feel overwhelmed, this was mostly due to how I was viewing my
assignments. I was finishing them at the last minute or with just the goal of
“getting them done” but I wanted more than to just “Get them done” though. I wanted to enjoy the process. As I
fell more and more behind the anxiety started mount to the point where I was
sick. I was crumpled over, tired and crying, unable to pick up a pen unless I
was absolutely forced to. My grades were ‘okay’, except for one class by the
end of the semester, but finals week was the last straw that pushed me into
disconnecting from my own creativity. In the process of finishing out my spring
semester the quarantine hit. Normally whenever I had a downer mood, over my
semester on campus, I would go outside for a long walk. Or I would go downtown
to the bakery, or the coffee shop which was off campus. I couldn’t do that
anymore though as I was no longer on campus and it was no longer safe to do so
even for the businesses in my hometown.
I was stuck without my normal brand of Band-Aids for how I feel. That left me stewing with my thoughts and in a place where I couldn’t even budge on any of my ideas. I couldn’t even finish something to have it finished. In this “relaxed” state I ended up watching tons of movies and even watched all of Patrick (H) Willems YouTube videos (a very good video essayist on films and film-making). Which was great but even that wasn’t enough to keep me out of my slump, or to pull me out of where I was emotionally. It just was enough to keep me thinking about movies and the TV shows I have been watching.
In all of this I was able to start the process of taking
anxiety medications with my doctor and will be working with him to continue to
seek ways to moderate this anxiety. Which leads me to this…The work I did over
this semester and during winter break was different, different than what I
thought it was. What I wanted from creating was to enjoy the process and care
about what I was making. To be proud of what I write beyond just hitting the
finish line, which consistently has been what I have been doing. Each of the
mini supplements I have written so far have felt like they had kernels of what
I love and enjoy but I never felt when finished, fulfilled.
To remove the excess stress I am currently on vacation and
learning about short meditations. I am also taking out of my routine excess
stressors (such as my monthly Patreon commitment). This is in the hope that
after I am emotionally reset or back to a state of normalcy I can create with
the emotions that I desire. To make things and have fun doing so through
careful time budgeting and reasonable
That is it! That is where I am currently at, I will be
taking extra care of myself to make sure that I am okay and able to reconnect
with my creativity.
And now for a short Q & A!
I know that this leaves a number of questions for those who
want to continue to follow what I create. This also brings up questions of what
I will do on my Patreon going forward with it closed down. I hope I can provide
some answers here, if you have more questions please comment or reach out and
I’ll answer the best that I can.
Q: Are you okay?
A: I will be fine! I am only able to make these decisions
because I am conscious of the state I am in and what I am able to handle. I am
emotionally okay! I have been doing better as I have been preparing to write
this post and as I am currently writing it. I actually am taking great care in
how I am writing this post and feeling good about how it has gone. The summary
of my state: I am good and have been getting better. I have a really good
support network made up of my family members and my partner.
Q: What type of creative work are you going to work on?
A: For the remainder of the summer I will be working on
whatever keeps me interested. Just work that excites me and is rewarding to
finish and complete, this includes practicing 3D modeling, continuing the
online math course I am working through, and learning how to blog all over
It seems important to me to set up small goals that can be
accomplished but that I can also take my time to complete them. That way I can
focus on my personal enjoyment over finishing a project. I am hopeful and
confident that I can get into a positive groove by the time that school starts
up again in the fall.
Q: How can I stay up to date on what you do?
A: If you want to follow what I am doing publicly (blog
posts, art, game related works, etc), then I am going to recommend subscribing
to both of my blogs for notifications:
As I will be sharing my latest work in blog post form here
along with any announcements of products. The movies blog will be there to keep
people up to date on what me and Beau watch along with our movie
recommendations. My personal website will have more writing work, including
short fiction and any articles that I work on. If I find any meditation tactics
that work for me, they will likely also be shared there in reflection essays.
If you want to just get the most important information in batches sent to your email inbox, you can sign up to my mailing list here. http://eepurl.com/dHBnLT
My Twitter is @thomasanovosel (https://twitter.com/thomasanovosel)
if you want to chat or see mostly jokes. However as I am focusing on my blog
more I will be trying to take a backseat when it comes to my social media as it
distracts me from my interests more often than it keeps me informed on my
Q: Will you still be doing commissions and work for hire?
A: Yes! I will still be completing my current workload and
taking on new commissions as I receive them through private messages and email.
I still have a need for money to cover my personal bills and debts, so I can’t
turn down any work. That work is what pays for my needs and also my
entertainment budget (movies, books, documentaries, etc).
But I will be avoiding monetizing my personal work or
hobbies when possible to avoid its connection to my financial status.
Q: Now for a fun question, what movies have you been watching? And what
A: That is a fun question which seems out of place and also
very self-serving for my own interests. Right now I am currently reading Italo
Calvino’s ‘If on a winter’s night a traveler’, Terry Pratchett’s ‘Hogfather’,
and am working on finishing an audiobook of J.G. Ballard’s ‘The Drowned World’.
Hogfather is a whimsical book, Calvino’s is poetic fantasy, and Ballard’s is a
short apocalyptic sci-fi book.
As for movies, I have recently just rewatched The Invitation
(2015) a tense horror movie about a cult from the director of Jennifer’s Body.
I have also been rewatching The Birds (1963) for a writing project; I think
that I have actually watched it 3 times in the last week and have dozen pages
of handwritten notes on it. That project whenever it is finished will be up on
my personal blog.
If you haven’t heard of The Birds, it’s an Alfred Hitchcock
movie about the beginning of a bird-pocalypse where birds have started swarming
and murdering humans on the California coast. It also has a romance plot that
If I was going to recommend some books, here are two that I
think are excellent (keeping in mind that I like horror and so will recommend
Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones: This is the
best werewolf book I have ever seen! I know that I have not dug incredibly
deep into werewolf media, but this book sets an incredibly high bar as it
imagines the life of werewolves when they are changed and when they are
The Beauty by Aliya Whitely: This book isn’t
incredibly long but it includes mushroom people having sex with people and
creating weird human mushroom babies in an apocalypse that has killed all
of the women. The twist is that the mushroom people grew from the graves
of the dead women of the world.
I know that this is a lot of information. That some of this
information is me being vulnerable and open with everyone who will see it, but
I think that it is important for me to keep it open for myself. I also wanted
to be open with my followers here as this shift could lead them to be worried
about me. Being honest and detailed hopefully will reassure anyone who had
those concerns that I will be okay and have all of the support that I need to
work through this.
Until I complete a blog post or have more to say, thanks for
being here! Thank you for understanding! The Patreon will be off so that it
doesn’t charge anyone, I will leave up what I have posted so far and if
anything big comes up I’ll be sure to share a link to it here.
– Thomas N.
This post was written up late night on Sunday the 24th. It is unrelated to any recent news. The reason that it was not posted then was so that I could have time to sit on it, reread and edit. As well as to make sure that the decision I had been sitting on for most of the month was a decision that I wanted to follow-through with.
As any breeze would say if it had a mind and words to speak it would shriek to all its leader. The magnificent and terrifying horn of the wild goat Odirius. Every breath shouted through its twisted bodied form is a shout of action, a summons to war in the sky. Bring your mightiest strength eastern and western winds and ride on the cloud chariots. Whip the blue until it is purple, a sky full of blood and lightning crackling down to the earth.
This is the power of the horn of Odirius. The wild goat
Odirius would be what is called the grandmother of all hooves beasts, even the
lesser forms of hellions and demons claim a bloodline that stretches back in
time to Odirius. The goat when it was alive held a massive pack of its young
that would jump, trample, and bite any that opposed their grandmothers will to
roam and be free. They would wander the world keeping all of the grass and hay
short. That is why they can no longer grow to the heights of buildings, because
Odirius bit their tallness out of them.
Then, on a later day when Odirius was growing older and
older. The horde of munching horned beasts was led to the tallest mountain in
the world, whose steps were too tall for any creature to climb. Every creature
that is, except for Odirius. On this day, Odirius slept under the empty night
sky and taught their young all of the stars in the sky, and to which they must
each listen to for commands. For the devils it was the stars below, for these
goats it was Three Horns Constellation which took the shape of three spiraling
goat horns. Lastly before they all fell asleep together, Odirius took their
ability to speak and language but silence or bleats (this is one way to
determine a devils lineage). This was so that they may have some peace, rather
than ask more questions and keep the grandmother goat up all night before her
As the sun peaked over the edge of the horizon, Odirius was
gone. Bits of stone and sand rained from the mountains wall. A flash was seen
in the sky, and then drifting down from clouds in a beam of light three items
fell. Two horns as large as any single person, and a pelt which matched
The beasts of Odirius scattered across the world to their
homes under their stars, on the orders of their celestial caregivers after
hiding the relics of Odirius. Whose two horns each summoned the forces of the
sky from either the East or the West, and a pelt which could if worn hold any
creature in its place against all forces.
Horns of the East or West
This horn is massive and would require either a cart or
multiple carriers to move. If any breath is blown into the tip of the horn (while
outside under the sky) a cacophonous blaring goat bleat would ring through the
air for hundreds of miles around, so far and booming would its sound be that it
would ring as of it came from every direction at once. It can only be used once
per month, when used roll 2d6. On a 6 or less hold 1. On a 7-9 hold 2. And on a
10 or more hold 3. Spend hold one for one for any abilities off this list after
gusts of giant strength, anything
not tied down is moved 120 feet in the opposite direction of the horns name
(easterly horn moves objects and persons towards the west).
crack, pick a target. They Xd6
damage. Where X is equal to tens column of their health +1. For example, a
character with 20 Hit Points would take 3d6 damage. A character with 4 Health
blocks would take catastrophic damage or a 1d6. This is life threatening
pours in, raining sideways so hard that it hurts. Movements are slowed to a
grinding halt, movement now requires a main action as well for everyone in an
area the size of a small town. Fighting requires a movement action now as well.
The rain will pour like this under a sky so dark it appears to be a starless
night for 6 hours. On hour 6, flooding will occur in any low areas halting any
armies and requiring the efforts of townsfolk to stop major damages. An
unprepared force will take 48 hours to deal with this issue, most prepared
forces will take 24 hours. As soon as the rain is gone, a hot sun will beat
down on the water. Making the air heavier and heavier as the humidity rises.
thicker than any other rolls in and surrounds the battlefield, it can cover
the size of a small to medium sized town in area. The fog is so thick that no
one can see more than 10 ft ahead of themselves (unless they see using infrared
vision). This fog will hang in the air for 24 hours. It can only dispelled
using magical means.
columns (1’ diameter, 10’ tall) of ice fall from the clouds in the sky. In
a circle of 40 ft each person within has a 75% chance of being hit. Those hit
take damage equal to a great sword (1d10 or weapon equivalent), those not hit
lose their next action as they are too preoccupied with avoiding falling ice
from the direction of the horns name come a cloud of birds. Birds of all
shapes and sizes swarm in the sky like a den of cockroaches that clambers one
on top of another and creates a shadow that covers the battlefield. Each turn
until the end of combat, all enemies have a 20% chance of being attacked by
birds, on their turn if it is determined they will be attacked they must choose
whether to spend their main action avoiding damage from the birds, or take
1d6+1 damage (or a dagger+1 equivalent). The birds will disperse at the end of
From what isn’t picked by the player, the Game Master may
choose one result to use against the player characters or their companions and
As a note there are two horns, one that controls the power
of the sky’s that come from the east and the one from the west. They both have
the same abilities but if used at the same time and choose the same abilities,
they cancel each other out.
Pelt of Odirius
When this massive furry pelt is worn the wearer is held in
place by its weight. No force magical or mundane would be able to make them move
unless the pelt was taken off of them, or they moved themselves. This property
means that anyone who wears the pelt, could functionally walk up walls and be
immoveable from any outside force. They could also stand on a rock out at sea
and ships would be destroyed by the pelts strength, the wearer would also be
mushed inside the fur though since it provides no tactical or armor protection.
Additionally any cold regardless of how strong or magical
cannot penetrate its fur. This fur would comfortably also function as a tent
for up to 4 human sized people, who would be able to walk around within its
tent, but no one would be able to from the outside move said tent.
It was a dive bar with an air hockey table and 50’s monster movie posters for wallpaper. Despite this, the rural crowd liked to come here. The posters may appear to an untrained eye in the dark to be yellowed abstract patterned wallpaper. Or it may just be a stereotype; even fans of Universal Pictures get old and live somewhere. The fans here get a bar that smells like seventy-year-old roses and the glory days.
At the bar, in the bar, on a stool, my right-hand wraps around the pint glass. I take a sip of the cider and look up, no sports today, but Godzilla was devastating the countryside. At the doorway, past the bartender, I saw the bar owner Petey Walker. His hairless head could best be described as an onion in shape and color.
“HEY JONESY!” Walker shouted at me.
“Oh not much, just another Thursday night.” Seeing Walker’s face I drew another breath and belted it out this time.
“NOT MUCH, JUST THURSDAY AGAIN.” Walker caught it that time and gave a lazy wave as he approached the tap closest to me. His elbow connected with the glazed wood and stayed there despite a wince.
“AH! Jay! When are you going to capture a job that gives ya’ two days on the weekend?” He was close enough now that normal shouting would suffice.
When was I going to get a real job?
It’s not like what I did was anything good. I built and repaired rainwater collection systems for self-sustaining homes. That’s French for I’m poor and get hired to do weird shit. That means there is no day-off except the ones I choose not to eat. But I usually work those days too; the ones where I don’t eat much I mean.
What would I even do as a real job?
“When you start raising the prices around here I’ll consider it!” Walker would never raise those prices. Not in a million years. He sells cheap beer at cheap prices to keep people coming in. You would think that being the only game in town meant that you were guaranteed success. You’d be wrong. Not a lot of people are left around to partake in Cheshire Vermont’s finest booze joint.
“Well, I like seeing you around Jonesy. Not a lot of folks like good movies”. Godzilla ripped through the city.
“I just like to see the costumes Walker.”
“I know that. You loved Black Lagoon.” I gave a big nod and drew a long sip. Letting my belly get warm, but not too fast to let it get toasty.
“I do like the city in this movie too though. It’s so big.”
“No, it’s small Jonesy.”
“That’s just because Godzilla is so big. Everything looks small next to him.”
“That too, but it also is a mini-golf thing. A small place.”
“Yeah, miniature golf. Everything was built small and is small.” Walker was watching me closely. I slid my empty cup forward and put another couple dollars down. Walker wadded it into his pocket and passed me another cider.
“Watch my drink Walker. Gotta’ pee.”
“You didn’t have to tell me J… I’ll pause the movie.” Walker looked up at the TV as I walked away. Licking his thumb and rubbing it against the bottom of the screen.
Looking up into the mirror, with water dripping down my face. I could see my face. I could see my eyes and my cheeks were so red. I couldn’t think straight. What was I doing here? Where am I?
Behind me, in the mirror’s reflection was Walker. Standing there in a Godzilla costume. I could see his face revealed by a small panel that had been opened on the costumes lower neck.
“Wake up Jay!” He yelled. His voice hoarse like he had been yelling the entire time.
Looking over to the door, the costume left my peripheral vision and in came another.
“Jonesy what took you so long?” Walker was standing there, bleeding out his nose and onto his whole arm. It took me a moment to collect myself. How long have I been awake?
How long have I been working? Is today Friday?
“Jonesy, you there? You’re looking pretty fucked.” Walker was stuffing toilet paper up his nose.
“Yeah, I’m here. What happened to your nose?”
“You didn’t hear?” No, I heard nothing Walker, my face was six feet deep into my palm. I shook my head and motioned for him to quiet down a bit.
The bathroom door whipped open and there stood an asshole. Not a big brown tear in the air, but Paulie Slimms. Black jeans and a backwards red hat held together by the sparsest moustache I had ever seen.
“WE CAN HEAR YOU DUMBASS!” Slimms yelled. He grabbed Walker by the collar and pulled him out of the room. I followed.
“Open the register and pay your bills.” Slimms pushed Walker back. A pair of feet were on the ground just behind the bar, soles visible. Not moving.
“Yeah, you want to still have this bar huh? Want some customers? Eh? Eh?” This one wore long hair and a pair of green boots. Dark green worn at the edges and gently dusted with sand. He was tossing glasses on the ground at the knocked out bartender.
“Hey, asshole! Cut that shit.”
They looked at me. The guy who is exhausted and pale except for a cherry face. I stepped closer and Boots held out a hand.
“You’re looking sick. You should turn back around.”
I stepped closer. This time Slimms had something.
“You heard my associate here. Turn around and give it five minutes, then lunch breaks will be over.”
Another step. Now Boots had a knife. He came closer, cautiously. He marched over, blade out, and smiled.
“I’ll escort him back.”
Fuck. The blade cuts into my side. I drift for a moment. I elbow him across the throat, he goes back a step and I take a swing.
THUD. Went Boots.
KLING. Went the knife.
My knuckles are split, and I can feel the blood in my lips. I give a kick while they’re down.
My jaw is flung up and I see bright lights and black spaces. The ceiling has a black lagoon painting on it, how long has that been there?
My feet are held in place as another punches me till my guts touch my lungs.
A chair flies and stops the onslaught, a Slimms is on the ground bleeding. Back to my first target, each of my punches sends Boots head cracking on the floor.
“JESUS FUCK!” yells someone.
Free, I step to see that Slimms is starting to stand up. My shoe pushes his chest down and my fist rises above his face. His eyes reflect a lightning bolt that is about to strike, bolts of swollen meat cut by teeth.
“Stay down Slimms. Or you’ll wake up tomorrow unable to chew.”
Slimms head fell and his breathing slowed down.
The blood on my hands was first rubbed off on my pockets. Wet stains and smears of dark and darker shades of “reddish” went through and onto my twenty dollars.
“Sorry about the fight Walker. It couldn’t be helped.” I slid him the twenty as he leaned the bartender up.
“I’m taking Chet to the hospital. Look after while I’m out. Lock the doors.”
More spots in my eyes.
“What was that Walker?”
“Local boys, I pay them to keep bringing their crew over.”
Got to make ends meet some way.
“So there’s more of them?” I’m rubbing an ice cube across my hand.
“On Monday.” Walker stepped over Boots.
“I’ll take the weekend off.”
Walker kicked Slimms and left. I locked the door behind him, taped the boys up and looked out the window. No cars and no one walking around. It really is dead here.
I lay down in a booth and dream. I dream about being as big as Godzilla in a town as big as me.
A low hanging cloth with singed edges barely billows, despite the never-ending smoke that pours out of the pores across the glowing chainmail that wraps the figure. These chains bend under the heat and pressure of tightly fastened plates curved in a human form. The symbols smeared across the burned armor, appear by inhuman hands, no prints or flesh scratched these symbols.
The Sun’s Flame Knight burns in its armor tall and thin, a
tightly bound furnace that pours out smoke and flames. Lights inside give an
angelic look when observed in delirious thought. But at the edge of a horizon
apart a viewer may see the whipping flames of a hell that has been condensed
and weaponized. With only a purpose to wield the glowing blade of the First
Stolen Sun in order to punish and uphold the Master Whisperer’s law.
Fear the warrior whose gaze burns long and without falter.
Who moves with practiced grace that provides a speed that turns traditional
swordplay into a barrage of swings that cuts the air as fast as a hummingbird
beats its wings. Only pausing between furies to evaluate how best to eviscerate
the enemy, then burn the evidence until it is blacker that space and
indistinguishable in texture from the soil.
May the allure of a warm flame and a beacon on the horizon
trick your heart into thinking the end to a tortured life is in sight. For even
on the rivers of hell a warm flame dances at the final rest stop to the eternal
Armor: as Plate
Move: 35 feet
2/day: can make an additional action before any
character at any time.
The sun’s flame knight is made of fire and
speaks only in the sounds of whooshing wind and crackling logs. They can unite
to a council meeting of other flames using a single finger as if it is wood
burning. Burning the prime words
(words that translate to all phrase and depths within their first language)
into any surface.
sun is the lord, the flame the commander an ally. Any and all allies of The
Nightlanders is a foe.
methodical, careful with intent and thought. Fights enemies, retreat over death
unless under specific orders or dire stakes.
2 attacks per round.
1d10+2; or heavy sword+2. Damage ignores armor as the blades searing light
pierces all surfaces.
Frenzy: 4/day, Take 3 main actions on next turn. Damage on all effects is
halved for these actions. Sparks fly from a gauntlets flourish, the speed
gained through practiced movements comes at the cost of distinguishable tactics
being clearly signaled.
Flaming Tongue: 3/day, Spewing flames from the grates in the scorched
helmet, target takes 1d8 damage per round for 3 rounds.
blade attacks against the knight that miss leave an opening, the knight does a
basic attack at this moment, rolling twice and using the worst of the two to
Glare: A strong glint sparks off the shield, a reflection of the sun honed
to a daggers point to pierce foes eyes. In sacrifice of a move action, a
targets next action has disadvantage.
Can only be destroyed forever using the Sea King
The Knight glows orange like the embers of a
fire in a shadowy forest. This light pierces holes from another dimension, from
an age of fire, into the world we traverse. Over the soldier’s entire body,
these portals are visible but send eyes and minds reeling into a white haze
when stared into.
Just like the shining lights of hell at the end
of the rivers of shackled flesh, the knight burns as a spiritual signal. A
tower in the living world, a world unknown to them, with the trait of mortality
which is alien in form and habit. Within 6 miles of the knight’s presence, but
only at night, 1d100 dead turn to undead. Roll 1d100 for cities, and roll 1d10
for the countryside (unless reason for bodies to be plentiful is present).
There are some that the Sun’s Flame Knight is connected to,
as they are a knight of their own realm and had to spend time in court.
Fiddling and navigating the politics of those above and in command or against
their own commander.
The commander is a solid flame that does not flicker but
holds a curved shape with sharp edges. Its commands are issued as sternly as
laws of nature and are expected to be upheld in a rigid fashion to how gravity
brings apples to fall. A consistency is expected and if not met, punished by
extinguishing a soldier. Squishing its heat until it is only coals, wiping away
memories and thoughts before kindling the flame back to a young roar. Bringing
executed soldiers back to life so that they can forget, cease to exist, and
their own physical properties can be reused for another.
The Flame Commander does not care for the individual personalities
of their soldiers. The only way that control is maintained is by puppeteering
and threats of recycling.
The flame that heats each flame knight or soldier is linked
to the flame commander, the commander holds absolutely still in their person in
order to make its movements and silent commands known through manipulating the
waves and flashes of light of those being controlled. At any point the flame
commander can starve an individual linked to the larger flame of air and its
energy that is shared. Making them so weak as to collapse under even the weight
of their armor.
Unless this link is broken, and sufficient fuel is provided
to maintain the energy needed to live, every soldier under the Flame Commander
is chained to the army of Hell for all time.
Prime Tree Wood Chunk:
the prime tree was the first tree from which all others sprouted. It has long
since become lost to the soil, but some of the excess tree clippings that were
not used to start the world’s forests were coveted and stowed away by Primordial
Collectors. These individuals hide and catalog in personal collections away
from prying eyes original progenitors of the world’s materials. They hold in
hiding the original seeds which when planted create spiraling and widespread
veins of gold.
First Stolen Sun:
Far back in time, before people were ever born or even could
think of a name for the blazing beauties that stand ever present in the summer
sky. With their gaze coming down and embracing every creature that would ever
live. Before we knew the love of warmth and a breezy summer at a swimming hole.
Where friends could jump into the water and not be cold, but refreshed so long
that the memories of childhood could be a warm blanket in old age.
Before all of this, the Flame Commander was young and brash,
there was no king and rulers in the planes of existence just warring bands of
elements and essence. The war band of the young spark found the first sun and
captured it in a net of stars. This is where the first stolen sun changed into
its second form, that of a horse of fire, with the sun changed into a
conquerable form the war band cast a spell of chains onto the horse. And it was
lead to where the future throne for the Flame Commander would be erected,
buried in a hole deep into the stone with only a small piercing faucet cutting
through its flesh on one end.
With this turned on, the Flame Commanders weapon smiths can
harness star fire to create sunblades. Swords that whip flames and make spotted
the eyes of any enemy.
One day, someone may rescue the First Stolen Sun. But only a
siege on the black citadel of fire in the volcano Matdrick could make such
events occur. It is tempting though? To save a sun? The one that sparked so
many others. Certainly the reward for such a task from the Council of Orion
would be grand.
Sunblade: burning, blade, damage of a great sword +2 fire dmg. To wield this blade
without damage or penalty requires an insulated stone gauntlet which only
elemental weapon smiths can forge. If the wielder is made not of flesh, then
the blade can be held if they can withstand the temperature (d4 damage per turn
held). Spend a main action and choose 1 effect:
Next attacks damage ignores armor.
The targets next action has disadvantage. They roll twice and take the worst.
Fire breath: attack as normal, if you succeed instead of doing the damage of the sword, target will take d6 fire damage per turn for d4 turns.
Lurking in the shadows of dreams and stones, the master
whisperer speaks over and over again the laws unwritten. Slay for me, the cold voice groans. Every so often the fingers move
like snakes in sand. Darkness clings to the pale skin as the void attempts to
pull back the escapee.
My words are
unwritten, they speak truths which will bury themselves deep into your being.
Act for me. These are the rules the Master Whisperer lays.
Rules from the Master Whisperer creep in only when an
individual has fought in 10,000 skirmishes, brawls, and melees. The bloodlust
of those without blood but who only see it tempts the Master Whisperer who
drinks what comes filtered through the earth and that was wrought of violence
“in the name of”.
To some the Master Whisperer will make bargains… But to others, those of elements and essences only commands
Heed the Call: At
a stone after a long fight a murmur is heard. You are resting and blood pools
into the dirt. A leathery voice speaks softly to you “Skin the hundred headed serpent Poison Fang, and give the skin to the
Warlord Adam Kraith. Do this and I will allow you to speak once across time and
space through the shadows”. If this quest is completed, the Master
Whisperer will offer this favor once, for each other completed another is
granted. The ability to speak a phrase through the shadows to anyone anywhere
in the world awake or dreaming.
The Master Whisperer does this, because the harm will always
outweigh the benefit, words from shadows are fearsome beasts of horror not advisors of good fortunes.
Life is constantly consuming content at this point, whether it be books, movies, or games (analog or digital). The only alternative to consuming the content on this earth is staring at the sun, but even that is consuming. The glorious eye sweat and black spots across my vision inducing beautiful ball of fire in the distance.
What is this post then you ask? Don’t shake your fist at me! This is where I am going to list all of the content that I consumed (games, books, and movies). I will just update this post each time I finish something or consume enough of something to consider my hunger quenched for it.
I will try to put a one sentence review for each. They may not be reviews at all, but more like my favorite bits or a quote. I’ll return to this post and figure out my favorites at the end of the year. 🙂
Quake 3 Arena (5 hours, finished on 1/14); fun game. The single player is just a ladder of bot matches but it was a fun game to play through.
Quake Champions (2 hours so far); this is just my bread and butter multiplayer game at the moment (Jan 16th). It’s a lot of fun even if I suck at it.
Thief Gold (2 hours 25 minutes so far); so far so good. I suck at stealth though so I will need to take extra care going forward, also need to loot more to be able to buy mission supplies.
Jazzpunk (0.25 hours so far); what even is?
Doom 1 (5 hours 45 minutes, finished on 1/18); played on Kill Me Plenty. Fun game overall, it feels like I should have been at a higher difficulty though as the boss fights were easy when you hoarded BFG ammo and rockets leading up to them. I’ll have to try again on Ultra-Violence at some point. For this I played from Knee Deep in the Dead – Inferno.
Doom 2016 (1 hour 30 minutes so far); This game is so much metal all the time. Trash cans banging against one another.
DIRT Rally 2.0 (3 hours); this game has race-cars and is me against the clock which is pretty fun. Which is weirdly lower stress than if I were to be playing Forza Motorsports.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (7.5 hours); Got a SNES and a cartridge to play this game on for my Game’s History class. The music is jamming and the secrets are a plenty. A lot of this was played by my project team, but I am playing it on a different save in my off time.
While I am not completely certain that this life is the one I want to live, I do know for sure that I can’t keep eating at truck stop diners if I have any intention of making this a potential life long career choice. The driving is good, but the gas is expensive and I’m sick of soggy burger buns. Which is why, today, I was glad to see that in the middle of nowhere there wasn’t a single diner, but just a lone gas station slash pizza parlor slash county bottle redemption center. The only food for an hour in any way was something different. I wouldn’t be able to sit in the comfort of reoccurring disappointing meals anymore.
Unless, of course, I decided to wrangle some of those loose
chickens from the farm six minutes back. I smiled to myself as I pulled into the
two-space parking lot.
Me, wrangle a chicken? My best chance of capturing such
athletic birds is plowing through the gate and picking what remains out of the
To my side I saw my truck’s neighbor, an antique milk truck
I assumed. Its shape and massive tank gave it away, not much else would. All
identifying markings had been crudely covered with poorly applied chrome paint.
The only bit peeking through was an “O” in the name on the side, just barely
visible through a thinner section of the coated portion of the logo.
Ding. Ding. Ding. I walk through the front door. An empty
shelf is ahead of me and the attendant gives me a quarter of a half-hearted
glance while hammering his thumbs across his phone. I take a seat at the
nearest booth. I’m pretty surprised. The springs are good and the napkin
dispenser isn’t rusted.
There’s no ketchup, but there are salt and black pepper
shakers, and one of those wire cages full of creamers and sugar packets. I pull
out my phone and try to catch up with the world. It’s been a couple hours since
I checked, but as is what sometimes is, I have no signal here. So, I snap a
picture of the table and its neatly arranged “accoutrements” for later. The
cross-country group will be impressed by the tidiness of this place.
The floors are spotless, the only smudges are the black
marks where I scuffed the tile with my sleepy legs while on my way to my seat.
I wonder where the waitress is, it’s been a couple minutes.
“Sir?” I said to the attendant. His tag said, Sleeve, no,
“Jacob, uh, is the server around?”
Without speaking or allowing the blue glow to leave his
face, he picked up some utensils, then a menu and walked over slowly, about as
slow as you’d expect someone who was distracted to walk. It was obvious in the
past he’d stumbled and tripped around the cluttered room while performing the
exact same task with the exact same distraction.
“Ah, thanks. So, is it just you here? Could I have some
coffee please? Black preferred but I won’t ignore decaf.” I chuckle, something
of a classic ground breaker for a more casual waiter to diner experience.
“All out.” He mumbles. Not to me, of course, but down to his
“Ah, uh, well what do you have to drink?”
Jacob looks up for a moment, taking a look at the counter he
had just come from and then finally looks at me.
“We have what’s in the coolers sir,” he says.
I look around and see a small cooler just under the empty
scratcher boxes. I can make out the logo on the side. Not really a soda fan.
“Ah, I don’t really drink soda though. What do you have
Jacob, who’s looking at his phone again speaks as he pushes
his finger up the screen slowly.
“I’m not sure, but I know we have orange juice. Feel free to
take a look and call me over when you are ready to order.”
In the cooler there is less than half a glass of orange
juice left in a jug, three glass bottles of milk, a cola with a faded label,
and what looks like dust in a beer bottle. Even at home I am uncomfortable with
finishing off a jug of anything, so milk it is.
Returning to my seat I open the bottle and then the menu to
see what I might have. The advertisements stand out a bit with their wild
colors, which are uncomfortably bright as the sun spills through the shades and
across the plastic cover. I spend a minute looking over the options. There are
some clear and obvious typos, and at least three items which are the same thing
described with different words and punctuation. The stuffed mushrooms seem like
something I would not trust from a gas station or a bottle redemption center,
so a big bowl of spaghetti with a white sauce sounds pretty good. I call Jacob
“Yes, I would like the, uh…” I flip open the menu again to
make sure I say exactly what I want in the exact manner it is written.
“Yes, the thin spaghetti with white garlic sauce and for
bread… the peasant bread. Is it quite hearty… or?”
“We actually sold the last of our spaghetti just before you
got here…” Jacob then goes on to explain that a very midwestern family in a
very 1980’s midwestern car, had, like any good American family, numerous kids
who were young and picky eaters and so the pizza parlor has everything but the
small amount of spaghetti that it stocked. Looking back down at the menu I
order a medium vegetarian pizza, what I don’t eat can be “on-the-road-food”
till I get to Oklahoma.
The broccoli will counteract the extra cheese, so I should
be fine. I go to take a sip from the milk and pause with it just below my chin.
I talk across the room.
“Hey, Jacob, this milk is fresh right? I hope its nothing
like that cola in the back? Heh?”
Jacob looks up from the pile of dough he is rolling out on
the counter and confirms that the milk is good. I take a sip and it is, quite
good. Pretty heavy, but certainly fresh. No label on any of the milk bottles
though, so definitely local and not full of any crap, except for what was on
the farmer’s hand. But, in all honesty, it’s refreshing. This is exactly why I
wanted to try somewhere new. The change of pace feels good.
It’s also nice to see your food get made to some degree, as
long as it is a process which is easy on the eyes and not incredibly gory or so
technically challenging that a layman might not understand. It gives you
confidence in the quality of the food, a certainty that if you become bound up
for a couple days it was an ingredient and not the method of preparation.
As Jacob sprinkles the toppings on and throws the pie under
the counter into what I assume is an oven, I choose to partake in the provided
reading materials. Looking to Jacob, I see that he has put on thick up to the
elbow in length yellow gloves and is cleaning the countertop. I guess he’s the
reason it’s so neat around here. I look down at the menu, holding it like a
This establishment’s plastic protected “E-Z Menu Publication
Advertising Group” brand menu is being sponsored by Sandra the Horse Training
and Hutchinson’s Lawyer Sourcing Services with a page advertisement each.
Another picture for the group, this one is sure to elicit a chuckle online.
Hmm, halfway down the left side is a daycare with a mascot,
a costume which looks like a color edited and non-athletic wear version of the
Highwayville school’s sports mascot pictured on the right, just above the hot
wing stuffed Stromboli. The page opposite of the school’s flexing mascot
features the same costume, but instead of a full getup, it’s just a person
wearing the head part it seems. Its wire mesh eyes are pretty well detailed for
a fuzzy photo print menu.
Then on the right…
Oh, I’m out of milk. My eyes slowly walk across the room and
to the counter. Jacob is back at it again, pounding away at the screen.
“Is it okay if I have another milk?”
He nods. I walk over and pull another milk from the fridge
and clearly, to all who may be watching, examine the bottle closely.
“So, whose milk is this anyways? Is it from the same place
that truck in the parking lot is from? Smolleys? Or maybe, Smothers? Something
with an O close to the middle?”
Jacob looks out of the glass wall that is the store front
and then back to his phone.
“No.” Then he adds, “Milk and mail come in on Sundays. I
only work Tuesdays. Hmm, yeah, and Wednesday, and today. The person who would
know is my boss, Jamie. She works the days I don’t”
“I hope you don’t text and drive in that milk truck. It’d be
a pretty dangerous load to even risk wobbling as far as the bulk of that tank
is concerned.” He looks up and at me. No, he looks at the timer on the counter
in front of me.
“I get a ride to work from my brother, so I don’t have to
worry about texting and driving that much.”
Looking around the room and past the empty off-white colored
shelving I see two doors, one with a small round window in the top center and a
second with a small pale buttock exposed in an illustration of someone hanging
a leak with their pants rolled and then scrunched up resting just above the
laces of their shit covered boots. The heels dug into the dirt, more like mud,
sinking. I’ve been sitting around here for a solid fifteen minutes now, so
where is the driver for the antique truck?
“So, is there a bathroom… or…?” I ask.
“Yes, we have a public restroom, but it is currently in use.
The guy who drove the tank truck outside had to use it after he tried the mini
mushroom cap cheese-y bites, since we were out of spaghetti.”
Well, that makes sense but I didn’t think spaghetti would be
this popular at a bottle redemption center slash gas station. First guess
having been confirmed, I raise my bottle up and return to my seat.
Just above my table hangs, from a frayed loop of twine, a
chalkboard sign. In playful scribbles it says ‘The getti was gr8!’. That must
be the oldest of the youngest of the American family! I consider writing ‘I
wish I knew! Coulda tried it!’ underneath but looking at the chalk is about as
far as I go beyond imagining where’d I squeeze in the words before I hear a
loud buzzing noise break across the room. A waft of steam comes up from behind
the counter, a smell spreads and it’s pretty good.
It looks good too! Jacob brings over the pizza and places it
on some oven mitts and then goes back to his “work”. It’s pretty gooey — a plus
— but I decide I should probably let it settle rather than allow it to burn my
tongue. I take out my phone.
Ah, yes, no signal or data, but there is a public wi-fi
available so I just hop on that. And, it’s a wi-fi that doesn’t have internet.
Crap. My hopes crushed in the hunt for a distraction. I should probably fold up
Carefully lifting the dish as not to burn myself, I fold the
menu shut. The left first, not sure why they have a bruised teen watching kids,
but who knows. It doesn’t make a good daycare advertisement, and at the very
least it seems like a bad way to present a business. Probably good though for
understanding why people get angry at kids I suppose. Then on the right, with
their sports mascot-
Is that a sport? That’s…
“Jacob, what sport ish — ” As I speak I bring my eyes up
from the menu and see that the lights are off. All that is in the air is the
sunlight which has pushed through the blinds and careened off the falling dust.
Each particle hangs in the air, surrounding me. In my breath they ripple
slightly but remain in place. The shelving units are all pushed together and
arranged behind the counter, packed up against the wall and each other so that
they take up as little floor space as possible. The cooler hums. A soda, a
milk, and a grimy jug of orange juice sit there in the cold white light.
Getting up from my seat, I walk toward the counter. No
Jacob, no register, just the holes in the wood where the cabling would be
strung. Feeling this area I pull back my hand and examine my fingertips. A
light grey slime that is warm to the touch. Yes, speckles. Looking down the
hole I see just shadows and what my mind assumes is the shape of a trash bin.
The room turns dark immediately. From some sunlight poking
into the shadows to a deep black. I see a spasm in the sheet of darkness.
I feel a sense of satisfaction, my mouth waters as I chew. I
open my eyes, the lights are on again, the room is clean, the specks are gone
and at the counter there’s Jacob. My hands are coated in pizza grease and the
pie tastes fantastic. It’s quite well cooked, not a single burn at all. Five
out of five if I had the wi-fi to report back on my profile.
“Jacob, this pizza is great. What sport is thi-“
Wait, no that’s not right.
“Sorry, what I meant to ask was where did you learn how to
make pizza? Just here or?” Jacob lets out a deep breath before answering.
“It was part of orientation.”
“Oh, that’s good it’s a thing you might use someday.”
Turning my head away from him, I’m back at the table, back among the specks.
The dust has been disturbed where my hand had reached out, grabbing at the air
for a second slice. Each dot slowly moving outward from where I had clutched at
it, at nothing.
Getting up, I move with some speed. I am unable to control
my movements as I dart to the back of the store. The bottle return machines are
exposed, their mechanical guts spilled out and onto the floor, and glass cracks
under my heel.
The bathroom is vacant. I touch the handle and it changes to
occupied in big red block letters, it spins and the handle twists until it is
red hot. I pull my hand back as the metal rolls into itself and into the door
as the paint bubbles then settles, but not before a slight ripple goes across
the door, across the tile on the walls adjacent, and across the specks in the
air. But they aren’t really specks.
I fall back and my forearm slaps into the shards across the
floor, with complete control regained for a moment, I let out a sharp yelp.
A thick white fluid drips out of each cut.
Uh, this food is making me parched, and ouch! My hand hurts!
I’m out of milk again, weird, I could of swore I just got this bottle.
I did just get this bottle though. I better ask Jacob for
“I’ll be right back,” I say as I stand up. I need a drink is
what I tried to say. I felt my mouth move with different words than what I
heard. I push myself to try to say something, anything, I get nothing.
I walk to the bathroom. It seems the guy’s gone. It’s empty
so I reluctantly grab at the door handle. It’s still a gas station bathroom
after all. I don’t want to trust a population in which most likely less than
10% of its members actually wash their hands after wiping their own ass.
Cupping at the hot water.
“Ack! SHIT!” My hand is beat red. The water must be too hot.
I turn off the hot and leave the cold on.
Cupping at the water, I bring it up to my face and let it
run down over my cheeks and then flow onto and past my lips. I gargle what
remains. Reaching for a paper towel, I return to the mirror to wipe off the
excess water, but in it I see my face. It’s filthy.
Small droplets of sand cling on. Trying to wipe it away is
of no use. The more I pull off, the more sand is visible on my face. I cup the
water again and try to soak it. Then I vigorously claw at my skin hoping to
peel off the surface, and along with it the sand that must have become
attached. I need to try again.
I scream, and in the process kick the cleaning supplies
across the bathroom and as soon as my foot makes contact…
Darkness again. Now it’s the quietest and stillest silence I
have ever heard, twisting and cascading into my head, rolling into my ears like
a mudslide. This silence would have terrified me if not for the interruption of
a small silver garbage can connecting with the wall.
It is deafening in contrast. Disoriented, I spin backwards
and reach for a hold. I get a grip with my upper teeth on the rim of the sink.
My body whips against the door to the bathroom. Stumbling
with blood in my mouth I reach for a handle. I have to get out of here. I have
to get out of here. I can’t stay any longer.
But there’s no handle.
My hands slap across the door. Dull thuds at first, then a
wet smacking, then a small crunching comes with each consecutive hit.
Clack. Clack. Increasingly louder, and more painful. CLACK!
I have to get help.
“Jah-cusb! JAH CLUBS!” I call out desperately, as the knives
in my mouth scrape across my tongue on the back of each word.
Reaching at my face, I feel a loose sand roll down the
outside of my hand. I can feel the pile growing between my knees. My posture
breaks from panicked to every muscle in my entire body being wound up and
tightened beyond possibility. I hear it so clearly, the sand pouring. I can
hear it through my jaw, the vibrations adding an umphf to a sound I wish I
could ignore. My hand is buried! I can’t move my hand. It’s trapped under the
weight of the sand.
I CAN’T FEEL MY FACE ANYMORE!
A low grumble and then a bounce up, then down. The roads are
terrible here. And the sun!
I pull down the visor, dust scatters across the air of the
small cabin. I crank down the window and the wave of particles rush past me and
blow out behind me as I go driving by. I have to watch that I don’t lose
balance. I can’t spill the product.
“Let’s see what’s on the radio…” I reach out to the dial and
turn through the channels. The remainders of the echo of a slow sob immediately
drown in the static. I turn up the volume.
I’m nearly back to Streetwalk Township in Oklahoma, driving
my truck to make some deliveries and having recently received instructions from
dispatch that the company just got a new contract. It seems we’re taking over
the delivery of fresh milk from Family Dairy (an out of state supplier).
Hurrah! A big win for local, Highwayville distribution co.,
and a good sign that I landed in the right career.
This is a creature for fantasy and horror scenarios.
Note to reader: I am currently over halfway finished reading The Fisherman by John Langan. It is very incredible and seems to me to be like a weird-fantasy or Cthulhu-esque horror scenario with what is going on in the book. I won’t spoil it, but something that is talked about as just a very minor thing at the moment, not even being the big monster or the grand antagonist is a black ocean. The ocean seems incredibly terrifying especially to me, as it can be a vast entity of terror that fills any shape that can dare to hold it. This monster write up is partially inspired by the black ocean where the fisherman casts his lines in Langan’s book.
An unending rage
There are times when the adventuring party will go out to sea or to any body of water and will find a rocky section. This is not the black ocean. The fiercest hurricane’s waves are nothing compared to the depthless rage that is contained in this oceans waters.
How you can tell you have are at the black ocean:
Crashing waves that quake across the coast and over the water. Although there is no sign of bad weather or winds as there is a clear sky.
Peering into the waters you sense endless depth. Like looking into absolute darkness, you can sense the endlessness of it but cannot see past its walls.
On the edges of the water, off the coasts on the rocks lining its edges will be bone dust and shredded flesh. Any fish that is in this water has high chances that it will be shredded apart by its waves until it is entirely unrecognizable. Just bits of rotten fish flesh on whiter than any sands coasts.
Interacting with the water
No vessel can go over the black ocean, any that even attempted to would be likely destroyed or crushed within its grip. But, rumor has it that sacrifices to the ship of the dead may bring forth a vessel that will carry you to its opposite shore. Travelling on this ship is also rumored to take from you, because if the sacrifice is not large enough then the ship will crash itself on a pile of stones in its center. The water’s waves wiping whatever doesn’t starve off the rock in a single day, no blood even appearing in its dark waves.
When a creature not of the black ocean treads even a step into the waves. The waves will lick and grasp at the individual dragging them from an inch of water into the ground. Breaking bones with every wave’s crash, pounding their form into the rocks underneath the yellow foam coming from each pillar where waves meet. It appears like the sea is foaming at its mouth when someone touches it and is consumed. The body will very shortly, after screams and drowned words, be visible as the water retreats. All blood and liquids within the form have been removed entirely, a dried and desiccated corpse remains. Then a final wave will splash along the shore, dragging what remains into the depths below.
If anyone goes under the waves, it is absolute darkness. It is impossible to see through even using magical means. Anyone trapped under the waters will be spun and disoriented by the undercurrents. Unable to sense until the hands latch on, the murmurs of the dead bodies that have sunk below ring true as they reach up to latch onto those who find themselves with their head submerged. These bodies are lifeless, but the black ocean’s currents manipulate their forms so that they twist and snap to take perform its actions. Treat this as you would a very difficult grapple.
Learning about the ocean
The black ocean is only mentioned in the most obscure texts, and even then only mentioned in passing in reference to when the world was born. An ocean that was primordial and later enraged as it sunk below the world into a land filled with darkness, bare forests, and beaches that hold its edges in.
When the black ocean is discovered or comes up in play, here are some questions that could be worth answering or finding answers to:
What beast is rumored to live trapped beneath the black ocean’s waves?
Who has forged a path to the black ocean in the past?
What warnings are found carved into the stones at the black ocean’s shores?
What happened when a sample of water was taken from the black ocean?
Black Ocean – Stats
Type: cosmic force,
Armor: why even ask? This is an ocean.
Intelligence: Unable to be determined. Any sign is incomprehensible as it is a force of energy beyond our scale. It has a sense of scale like looking and gazing at a night sky full of stars.
Align(ment): all are destroyed in the black ocean except for the Sea King Mary and the Ship of the Dead.
1+(1 per character in the ocean) attacks / round
Crashing Wave (1/round per character caught): any characters in the black oceans water will lose 25% of their HP for every round in its grasp. No roll is made, attacks always land. A prepared defense will halve the damage dealt.
Dragging Maw (2/round): any characters in the water will be pulled 3x their movement speed further from the shore or any safety.
Truth Trance (1/round): target will hear disturbing truths and secrets about their lives. Secrets only the dead or themselves may know, these are dark enchanted words spoken in a speech that resembles the sound people make when they are drowning. Coughs and gurgles. This trance makes it so a character cannot move on their turn or act, the trance is broken when the target is touched or shook.
Attacks against have no effect.
Any items that touch the water have a 90% chance of being pulled in with unmatched strength, characters who hold these items will find letting go in time before being pulled a medium difficulty check. Items cannot be pulled from the water and have a 65% chance of being completely destroyed.
Entities that are aligned with the black sea have 6x their normal speed when moving under its waves.
Characters caught in the water cannot defend any attacks made against them. Any defense made will double damage done by the black ocean against them.
Character caught in the water cannot escape it without assistance from an outside force. Even that task would be treated as incredibly difficult, and any success would come at grievous costs.
Did you enjoyRunaway Hirelings, a 30-ish page tabletop role-playing game from whenever time ago? (It was 1 year Thomas omg.) Well, do you also want to know what I am working on getting shoved out the door with kisses and a packed lunch?
Here it is! This is the blog post for you. The one that has some descriptions and pitches of games and products that I have coming out in the near future. Including a game zine filled with shorter games that I have worked on, a Runaway Hirelings hack/reskin, and my artbook for 2018!
Office Murder Party
Day One: Drink coffee, gossip about packages delivered inside the office. Day Two: CEO starts rambling over the intercom at odd intervals about “Armor plating over the windows so that the drones who work in this office building can’t escape when I take it over.”
No one is certain what this means. Then, all of a sudden the windows go dark and the speakers crackle alive with a command, “Create a Civilization.” Now, as interns are trying to escape a wild mailroom boy, fuelled by panic and potentially drugs filtered in through the vents, you must make it to the first floor lobby. That is where freedom is.
Will you draw the Watercooler desert location from the Office deck? Or an Executive Challenge, where you are punished for not jousting in the portable escalators? In Office Murder Party, the Office deck is a deck of cards that brings forth areas to explore, emergency situations to intrude on whatever is going on, and Executive Challenges. This deck is assembled at the beginning of play by the players and determines what challenges come up during the game session, while the players control their office workers and introduce strange and troubled NPCs to this lockdown mega tower in downtown Desert Vista.
Office Murder Party is a role-playing game that is inspired partially by: The Belko Experiment, The Office, and Sunset Overdrive, injected with the default silliness of Runaway Hirelings.
Single session game
1.5 to 2.5 hour game session
3-6 Players recommended
Original Game System
At the end of the year 2017, a book came out in paperback with a plain white cover with a little doodle in the center. This was a collection of my 2017 sketchbook pages and zines that I had put together in a paperback form.
Well, here we are, it’s 2019, and I have my 2018 artbook coming out. But this time it will be hardcover, 6 in. x 9 in., and it will have a ton of creative captions. Almost all of them have nothing to do with what the art is inside. These captions are just descriptions of some of the images in the book, not from when the image was created, but of what I see in them now as I am assembling this artbook.
At over 185 pages of words and black and white drawings, you can flip through stranger and more rubbery drawings that I have done, stripped from my personal sketchbooks, a lot of which have not been shared online. So prepare for some weirdness and check out this new artbook.
Artbook containing sketchbook art from 2018
With unrelated caption text littered about
185+ page black and white hardcover book
My Assorted Art 2017 book can be purchased in print here and digitally overhere. My 2018 Artbook will be coming out on lulu for the print copy, and itch.io as well (did you know that you can follow creators on itch.io? Well you can! Follow me for notifications!).
Game Sack vol. 1
I have written a few smaller games, some super short games, and others are of a sort of interesting length that I wouldn’t just publish on their own. So this is what I am going to do with them: give them layout and a little bit of art, then print out a bunch of them on a laser printer and make them into a zine.
It’s a zine of small games! Games about pancake dates, and tree spirits talking about whether they should reveal themselves to humans! A game where magic items make the adventurer! A game where you rush out the kitchen at the inn trying to get ingredients, so you don’t disappoint the master chef of the Whisper Willow Inn and Rest Stop.
Be prepared for a zine of small games of varying silliness and length. Some of which have been previously released through my Patreon, but here they are rewritten and with a little more polish!
Short Game Collection
Zine (size and production)
This game will be coming out in PDF over here on itch.io and also drivethrurpgwhen it comes out. To make sure that you don’t miss it and get notified of its release, may I recommend subscribing to my mailing list? There is a form at the bottom of the page.
People have been going missing at dusk. Surrounded by forests on the outskirts of the county, and just beyond the fingertips of the capital guards reach, something has been coming and taking people. Not a single glimpse has been caught of the perpetrators, but something needs to happen. A gang has moved in to investigate, but it is taking too long; everyone is worried and unsure of what to do. There aren’t a lot of lives to spare in a small town, and soon it won’t even be occupied by ghosts.
In this fantasy role-playing game adventure, players form a party and investigate the recent disappearances. Meet a wide variety of characters, each having things to say about what is going on. You will encounter the strangeness of a quiet forest, and soon understand that silence should always be concerning – especially when your ears are looking for a sound to hear from between the old trees. Listen carefully for something… anything. But dread what you suspect you may hear, a scuffle at dusk, followed by a buffeted wind.
The Magic Hour is an system agnostic fantasy adventure meant to either kickoff a new campaign or be one night of investigations and adventure.
One Session length
Follow me for updates and release information!
So that’s what’s next up from me and you can keep up with these projects and more by signing up for my newsletter and following me at itch.io. If you enjoy anything I’m releasing, please let me know! I love to support podcasts and blogs that feature my work and work by other awesome designers.
I am also always available through DM’s on Twitter, if anyone has any questions for me, or media inquiries.
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Most of my drawing skills have come from YouTube tutorials and copying from art books (not specifics, just details and lessons I think is the best way to describe it). Thanks to this education I have seen so many videos that I would consider “okay”, bad, and some were just highly useful and inspirational. Just so important to alter how I draw and how I look at a piece of paper when I am drawing.
For a playlist to just go through and learn to draw with the videos that helped me, take a look at this YouTube link and watch forever (or however long the playlist is at the moment that you check it out).
Here are links to some YouTube channels that I watch very often for instructional material:
moderndayjames – often fantasy drawing instruction, breaking down cloth and perspective in short bits. Hit premium instructional videos are also worth it if you are willing to throw a couple dollars towards him.
Proko– tons of anatomy drawing videos which are realllyyyy good and easy to get through. His series on drawing hands is one that I would highly recommend going through.
James Gurney– excellent water color videos, sometimes it helps to see a master fantasy painter doing their studies in real life with gouache. A lot to learn just about colors from this guy, and plein-air and painting setups when you are on the go.
Marco Bucci– ten minutes to a better painting is a very good series, going over quick tidbits that’ll make your paintings better.
I have a fair number of art books on my book shelf but here are the big ones that I reference quite often for information and some explanations on how to draw things:
How to Draw by Scott Robertson – just wow, this guy knows how to teach perspective. I mentioned his youtube channel in the other tab, but this book is excellent and I would highly recommend it. The exercises within it really build your skill level up.
Bridgmans Drawing from Life – a classic for a reason, I know it can be a good learning tool but I think it is a much stronger tool if you have google nearby so you can look up more detailed pictures of muscle, so that your working off more than the sketches in the book as reference. This book focuses on drawing the body and getting the proportions burned into your skull.
Rebus by James Jean – sometimes I get too stiff in my drawings, so I look at some james jean art and try to grab at the curves he has perfected in his lines. Just google search his work or follow his instagram and you may like what he does. His book isn’t so much instructional but inspirational.
The Art of Ian Miller – Miller is one of my major influences, it is clear by what I started drawing with (technical pens) and what I started drawing in fantasy (towers and castles). This is more of an example of what I do, I keep my influences within reach. That way if I need to remind myself of what gets me really jazzed for my lines I can flip a book open or look up to a paper pinned above my desk and get back at it.
Any of Kim Jung Gi’s Sketchbooks – these books are just bound pages of people at various different angles as drawn by artist legend Kim Jung Gi. If I need a quick angle, he is likely to have drawn a sketch in pen. If I need to think outside the box, I just flip through this book and try to blend the feeling I get from looking at his stuff with the lessons I have already learned and use when drawing.
If it didn’t fit so much into the other tabs here is everything else, it involves more youtube channels and some unrelated but also sometimes related websites that I frequent:
Mateusz Urbanowicz – I love his watercolor painting videos, and I am really wanting his Tokyo Storefront watercolor artbook that he put together (a lot of his videos have him working on those works).
Art Cafe– artist interviews on YouTube that are really good and often times have artists showing off their technique while discussing their art careers and techniques.
Art Station – just a ton of high quality artists posting on one site that you can look across. Often good for some inspiration or to see what other people in games and visual digital art like to do.
The Art Assignment– fun art videos about art movements and specific art locations. Its pretty good and quite a bit of fun. Its kinda where I started getting into and learning about some art movements and conceptual art.
Parka Blogs – website that shows video reviews of art books and full blog post write-ups for each. Honestly, just flipping through the blog posts is a good way to get introduced to a weird variety of art books that I normally wouldn’t stumble across such as Illustrated Musings by Eddie Chau, which looks nice.
Life Drawing– photoshow website that can provide life drawing pictures to work with and help with learning some anatomy and poses.
The biggest thing for me is having enough inspiration within a glance or a moments notice that I can use them to learn styles and details and tidbits. They can influence me in a direction towards whatever I want to learn more about.
I don’t normally post on my website, but lately some stuff has been going across my mind. Specifically the latest news that Google Plus is going away, and since I got my start in fantasy illustration there and still would consider it a large part of my art experience. I want to talk about what is next for me and what I plan to do.
I started drawing with intent sometime in mid to early 2016, catching my first paid illustration commissions shortly after starting, I got incredibly lucky in that way. I released my first game that I wrote, did layout for, and illustrated at the end of 2017 (my game Runaway Hirelings that I am incredibly proud of). And a more recent development was this year I did my first convention table where I sold some art prints and books. Its been a climb and I have enjoyed working on all the projects I have taken on, sometimes I feel like I didn’t do as well, but I am still glad I took on what I did and met the people online that I did.
As for Google Plus’s part in this story? Its where I met artists in games, talked about some games, drifted away from games a little bit, reconnected with some art, drifted away a little bit, and was an active participant for a little too. It was where all of my tabletop role-playing game connections came from. A bunch of people seem to be spreading out across platforms, and I am unsure if I will end up following over to anyone of them. Or if I will just try to develop myself on a platform that I am already on. If I do, it may end up being this website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
We’ll see since there is still 10 months until the circles of google+ break apart to dust and are gone forever.
Goals and Plans
Since the announcement of google plus shuttering its doors, I have had to think about what I want to do and where I want to go with art and creating game related stuff. What do I want to do? Where do I want to go with whatever it is I do?
The obvious first goal is to get to making stuff full time. I want to be able to draw stuff each day and have it go places and be somewhere where it can be appreciated at least in a way close to what I intend. That is why I want to have enough stuff together next year, to submit to art shows and solo show calls. I also have a card idea, a goal involving some form of video games, and another writing goal.
Galleries and Shows
I watch a lot of videos and try to take in as much as I can about art and theories about taking a part art and how to look at things. Since I am in what most people consider a desert for that type of thing, and I am still new to all of it. It means that what I know is basic and what anyone else who has google and just started reading highlighted blog posts and YouTube videos would also know.
But, I want to put together a set of stuff in the vein of a picture that I worked on this year, if I could put it all together maybe it would help me feel more successful with my pens and pictures. And when I have that set in frames and ready to present, I can at least have something to present and then attempt to show.
Why do I want this? I do and it’d be nice to talk about things that I draw for more than “it looks cool”. Also it would be nice if someone got something and hanged it up on their wall.
Cards and Tarot
As for art products as projects, I have had a passing interest in tarot and as similarly interested in how some artists put together illustrated card decks. I had thought about it previously a couple times when I was younger (I had a lord of the rings tarot deck that my aunt gave me when I was a younger child), and about the same time as I had a binge of internet google searching of custom or hand carved chess sets.
But what reignited my curiosity was reading The Art of Ian Miller book that I have where one of the pictures captions said Miller was going to use this one image of a haunted building across and atop these geometric pillars that spiraled around like a chaotic mess. Looking at that just makes me want to make a deck, to draw these pictures and put them in a deck so I can pin them to the wall. So that other people can have a gallery in their hands to flip through when they want dark buildings and a horror landscape.
I am working on educating myself on tarot that way I can get fully into it and make something that both is respectful of it but fulfills my creative goals and needs with drawing the pictures. If it seems that I can’t make the tarot work, then a deck of cards with cools pictures may be where it goes…
Or as I often describe them in tweets and chat conversations “vidya germs”. I have reinstalled a bunch of game making software that I previously tried to use a ton of times throughout high school and shortly after, but I think I now have enough knowledge and awareness to at least try to make something small.
Which is why next year one of my small goals is to make a small game that is 2 hours long. It may end up being a game that uses just text. Or it may be a short adventure game idea that I was playing with (potentially making use of Adventure Game Studio and a bunch of digital tools I got in a big fat folder on my desktop).
Right now its looking like a game inspired by one of my favorite castle illustrations may end up being the one that I go with.
As for writing goals? Beyond literally all of the other things that I am thinking and wanting to do, why would I want more? I just want to get a lot of stuff done.
Earlier this year I wrote a short story, just a bit over 3,000 words and I was proud of it. I thought it was pretty good. So, I want to write some more short stories of varying length; I definitely have enough stories that are half written or started that I could retouch and work on next year.
Assuming I don’t redo one of them between now and the end of the year.
As usual, my stories will be tied to weirdness and horror, or attempting to describe surreal stuff and what I think surreal is to me. Beyond just stories, maybe I can finish another game project? Something small and tight like Runaway Hirelings; hopefully I’ll like it just as much as Runaway Hirelings too.
Too many goals
Having so many goals and plans for things that I want to do may seem like it is counterproductive to getting work done and completing projects. It is, and it feels like it is sometimes. But bouncing around helps me a lot when developing ideas and concepts slowly towards some version of polish.
Will I accomplish all of my goals? Probably not. But I really want to do something different and break into my own space and do some new things.
Where can you find me?
And where will you find these updates and what not? Well, I want to put more on this website, so here of course.