The Friday Muse – The Girl

The Friday Muse (Cropped)

Today’s Friday Muse piece gives light to a new character who, after I wrote her character sketch out, reminds me somewhat of Poison Ivy. Many of the books I have published touch on themes of human experimentation, and this story seems to be no different. Enjoy!

The Girl
Doctor Ephod pointed to the young girl behind the viewing glass. She was asleep in the small room, with only four walls and a floor covered in potting soil to keep her company. “She has the power to create life,” Ephod said.

Doctor Curt huffed. “We know that, E. We’ve been observing her for three months now. She’s only done so on two occasions, and both were in rooms full of water. She has yet to do it in this room. What I want to know – what the panel wants to know – is who she is. Where did she come from? What are her origins?”

Ephod watched the young girl intently. Her bare feet and fingernails were caked in soil. Her face hid behind a curtain of long blue hair that acted as a shroud for her countenance. She wore nothing more than a simple purple dress that went to her knees. It was the only thing she had been wearing when they found her in the middle of the crater in the Wastelands.

“You’ve grown attached to her, haven’t you?” Curt asked.

Ephod shook his head adamantly. “No.”

“You lie,” Curt snapped. The man’s thick black eyebrows raised in accusation, like sabers readying to come down to decapitate Ephod. “While you’ve been watching her, we’ve been watching you.”

Ephod tried not to act surprised at the admission. He had his suspicions that the panel’s eyes were all over the research facility, but he didn’t know how extensively they had been scrutinizing him. He shrugged, sighed, and pointed to the girl again. “What do you want me to say? She’s a beautiful specimen.”

“That’s all she is, Ephod. A specimen. An alien.”

“I know that. I was there when she was discovered.”

Curt grumbled something under his breath, but Ephod couldn’t make out what.

The girl suddenly shifted, and Ephod felt his heart skip a beat. Curt moved in close to the glass, and they both watched as the girl sat up and moved the hair out from in front of her face. Her eyes glowed a ghastly blue, and her lips were covered in small pieces of dark soil which she brushed away with her thin arm.

She stood to her feet, watching the two doctors as she did. Ephod knew the girl didn’t trust them – and she was right not to. She stretched her arms out to her sides and wiggled her fingers and toes.

“What is she doing?” Curt asked.

Ephod shrugged. “I don’t know. She doesn’t usually do anything other than claw at the soil.”

“Yes, I know. But you refused to put into your reports why you think she claws at the soil.”

“I never included my thoughts on the subject because I don’t know why she claws at the soil. I have an assumption – she’s trying to find something to create life from – but since it’s just an assumption, I figured the panel didn’t want it included in my report.”

Curt moved his lips close to Ephod’s right ear. “The panel wants to know every damn thought that runs through that tiny head of yours. You’re on our dime. We own your thoughts when you’re within these walls.”

Ephod ignored Curt’s intrusive proximity and continued to watch the girl. She simply wiggled her fingers and toes. Nothing more.

Curt moved his face away from Ephod’s and grunted. “I have serious doubts about you, Doctor Ephod. Doubts that I find myself having to continually remind the panel of. I think you’ve been compromised by this subject.”

“Why do you say that? I’ve done exactly what you – and the panel – have asked me to do. I put her in different environments, I observe her day and night, and I turn in reports on my findings. I haven’t helped her to escape, I haven’t done anything to interfere with the tests. I don’t know why you’re so suspicious of me.”

Curt huffed. “I don’t trust you, E, because my gut tells me you’re up to no good.”

Ephod shrugged and half-smiled at his colleague. “Your gut is wrong. I’m one of the good guys, Doctor Curt.”

“That has yet to be seen.”

Ephod watched as the girl closed her eyes and lifted her hands above her head. The ground suddenly shook slightly, and the soil near her feet began to shift and crack. A bright green stalk broke through the soil and rose high enough to clear the girl’s head to reach the ceiling.

“No!” Curt shouted.

The stalk burst through the stone ceiling allowing for a burst of sunlight to enter the girl’s room, bathing her in a warm glow.

Curt ran off down the hallway, no doubt to get security.

The girl opened her eyes and looked directly at Ephod. She lifted her right foot off the soil and stood like a flamingo for a few seconds before she lifted her left foot and floated in the air. She smiled warmly at Ephod, and then she rose out of the opening and into the midday sky.

Doctor Ephod fled down the hallway in the direction opposite Doctor Curt, glad he had been given the chance to smuggle a mound of vine seeds inside the room’s soil the night before.

The Friday Muse – The War

The Friday Muse (Cropped)

Today’s Friday Muse piece is a fun piece of flash fiction I wrote to illustrate a fun tale a child’s grandfather has to tell him. I like this piece because, unlike many of the other Friday Muse pieces I’ve written, it’s more lighthearted and fun.

The War
“What story do you want to hear before dinner, Jimmy?” Grandpa Jim asked.

Jimmy settled on the couch near his grandfather. “Tell me about the War that you and your friends were in. I haven’t heard that one yet!”

Grandpa Jim nodded. “Yes, yes. Those were dark days indeed. The War itself lasted only hours, but it felt like weeks before we came to the end of it.  By that time, I had lost all of my companions, and I found myself alone to fight the horrible artificial intelligence known as The Core, by myself.”

“How did you do it, Grandpa?” Jimmy asked.

Grandpa Jim let a smile bleed across his face. He up held the pointer finger of his right hand. “Luck and strategy, my dear boy. “See, it all began for the four in the foyer of the Tower of Roses. We had to fight our way through that place first before we could even get close to the Core. Things got a little dicey, but we managed to make it out of there alive. Once we found the blue key – which we needed in order to get through the exit – the place went nuts with enemies. Ronald, my best friend, took it upon himself to cover our backs as we battled our way out.”

“Did you and your friends escape?” Jimmy asked as he scooted across the couch, closer to his grandfather.

Grandpa Jim frowned. “We did, but not before we had to fight a beast the likes of which you may indeed see in your lifetime. An experiment gone awry. The four of us were weak when we first met up with the beast, but by the end, it was just me and Ronald left. Craig and Tootsie died in the battle.” He turned and stared out the living room window, his eyes catching sight of the drifting clouds outside. “They were good companions to have on an adventure like that. But they were still new to the game, still green to the strategy it took to fell that beast. They didn’t know what Ronald and I figured out too late into the battle: The beast had a weak spot, a glowing disc on its forehead. Once we realized that, Ronald and I shot up that thing until it finally exploded all over the place, leaving a mess of coins behind.”

Jimmy scratched his head. “Coins? Why would it leave coins behind?”

Grandpa Jim shrugged. “I don’t know. It just did.”

Becky peered into the room, her sparkling blue eyes catching Grandpa Jim’s attention. “Are you filling my son’s head with nonsense again, dad?”

Grandpa Jim laughed. “Of course not.”

Jimmy waved his mother away. “Not now, Mom! He’s telling me about the war.”

Becky rolled her eyes and huffed. “Dinner’s almost ready. Can you two wrap this up, please?” With that, she vanished, leaving Grandpa Jim to finish his tale.

“As I was saying, we defeated the beast, Ronald and I. From there, we advanced to the deepest part of the war, the inner Core. This was a terrible place of demons and traps. We had some close calls. It was in that place that I lost some of my hearing. The sound of the explosions was too much for my fragile ears. The volume in that place was too high.

“We finally made it to the central Core, though. Before we knew what hit us, Ronald was cut in half by a mining laser.”

Jimmy gasped. “What did you do then, Grandpa?”

Grandpa Jim laughed, happy to have the full attention of a ten-year-old. “Well, I did what I did best throughout the whole war. I pulled out my rocket launcher and went to town on the Core and its diabolical artificial intelligence. I made it out with only one point of health – but I made it out.”

Jimmy scratched his head again. “One point of health? What does that mean?”

Grandpa Jim patted Jimmy on the back before standing to his feet. “You’ll know what it means soon enough, kiddo.”

Becky returned to the doorway.

“I’m hungry!” Jimmy exclaimed as he ran to the kitchen.

Becky stopped Grandpa Jim in the doorway between the two rooms. “You really think it’s healthy to fill his head with such things?”

Grandpa Jim shrugged. “What things?”

“The War? Really? Is that what you’re calling it now?”

“It was responsible for the loss of some of my hearing. You know that.”

“I do know that. I was there, remember?”

He smiled warmly. “I do remember, Tootsie. Maybe after dinner…”

Becky shook her head and put her hand on Grandpa Jim’s shoulder. “Dad, I love you. Really I do. But Jimmy is too young to play those kinds of games. You know that. And I’m…well, I’m too old. That was a one-time thing, okay?”

Grandpa Jim gently moved his daughter to the side and passed by her as he made his way to the kitchen. “You’re never too old for video games, sweetie. Never too old.”

The Friday Muse – Dead Train

The Friday Muse (Cropped)

Today’s Friday Muse piece is another piece to what has potential of becoming a much bigger story. The fact that Anaisha is mentioned in the story should clue you in that this takes place in my Expired Reality/Black Earth universe, but I’m not sure of when in my timeline it takes place.

Dead Train
The smell is what wakes me. Then the movement of the train. My first instinct upon being assaulted by the aroma of death and decay is to panic, however, within a split second my memory takes the movement of the train and assures me that the smell simply means that I am alive.

I find nothing but darkness upon opening my eyes. Decaying flesh rubs against every part of my body, and I have to work hard not to vomit – which will only make things worse. I’m still on a train full of corpses. I stowed away on it after feigning my death in the EX chambers in the city of Soral. I didn’t actually think I would get away with faking my death and hiding on this train to escape the genocide. But I did.

I shift my weight to the left and right and manage to wiggle to the front of the pile of death and enter a very small space in the train car that is not occupied by corpses. I roll down the pile of bodies and hit my head on the wooden floorboard. I use my arms to push up from the bloodstained floor, take a deep breath, and look over to the pile of bodies. Hundreds of bodies. The heads are covered in black sackcloth, but the bodies have been stripped nude, and most are covered in boils, bloody lines, or acid-eaten patches.

I stand to my feet and brush myself off. I confirm that I am still dressed in my brown skirt and white blouse. My black denim coat has managed to keep most of the filth off my blouse, however, I feel patches of blood as I run my fingers through my long hair. I’ll need to shower once I find a safe place to settle.

A loud screech nearly blows out my eardrums as the train suddenly decreases its speed. Since I have been out cold, I’m not sure how far I’ve traveled from Soral. I know the destination of the train was supposed to be Baruck, but I have no idea how close we are to that destination.

I glance around to see if there is an exit to another train car, but most of the car is occupied by rotting corpses. The only doorway off the train is the large sliding one in front of me. I move the door latch to the right and slide the door open.



We are nowhere near Baruck.

The train comes to a complete stop. The same panic I felt upon awakening attempts to creep in again, but I will not allow it to cloud my focus. I have to get as far away from the train as possible before the authorities find me alive. I glance at one of the bodies. The flesh has been covered in acid that has torn away a good portion of the skin, leaving an open gash allowing me to see bone and muscle. I have no desire to turn out that way.

A siren rings out, and I know now that they’ve been alerted to my presence. I had heard that these trains had heat sensors integrated in them, but I hoped it had been rumor and speculation.

The train is a good three feet from the ground. I hop down without issue. I glance to my left and find a small company of blue armor-clad Sentries closing on my position. Blue laser blasts fill the space between them and me as I make a run for the patch of woods a few kilometers in front of me.

The snow isn’t too deep, and I’m able to run without too much hindrance. My sneakers are not the right type of shoe to be wearing in a pursuit such as this, but it’s nothing I can change at the moment.

A bolt hits my shoulder and I feel the sting of heat and needles. I keep running, realizing that they are starting to draw back from the pursuit. I keep running, nearly out of breath, until I reach the entrance of the woods.

Looking up, I understand why they fell back. The trees are tall, stretching so high into the overcast sky that I cannot make out the tops of them. The bark is black, and there are splotches of red paint cast across the trunks. Blood? Paint? I don’t want to find out.

“Sarah Groves!” one of the Sentries calls out.

I turn my back to the woods and give the small squad of Sentries my full attention. They are almost an equal distance between me and the train. Five of them. The leader is in yellow armor.

“Surrender, and we will take you in without issue.”

“Bullshit!” I shout. I have no desire to turn into one of the corpses inside the train car. I know that is what will happen to me if I turn myself in. However…I turn to the trees behind me. Black bark. Red splotches. This couldn’t possibly be the Blood Grove, could it? The Blood Grove is nowhere near the vicinity of Soral. Why would the train be moving through this area of Anaisha?

“We all know you’re not going to enter the trees. Come with us, and you will be safe. You will have a proper trial in Soral.”

“You lie!”

The Sentry in yellow armor holds up his arms and chuckles. “You have nowhere else to run.”

“I do,” I whisper. I turn and thrust myself into the patch of trees, uncertain which is a worse fate to face.

The Friday Muse – Edge of Babylon

The Friday Muse (Cropped)

There’s a Switchfoot tune – “Where I Belong” –  that speaks of a song sung on the shores of Babylon. I heard the tune while I was driving through San Francisco last year, and this new character – Solaris – came into creation. Here’s a little piece I sketched out about her –

Edge of Babylon
Solaris stood at the shore of the Bark Ocean, watching the waves break against the sand. The moon cast its blue light across the waves, turning them cobalt, cerulean, and sapphire, while a cool and gentle breeze caressed Solaris’s face like the hand of a past lover.

She glanced over her shoulder at the massive stone wall that stood between her and the city of Babylon. She wanted nothing more than to get as far away from this place, but her directive was simple and clear. She had to enter the city and find Tibolt before they executed him for treason. It was no simple task to reach the shoreline, let alone infiltrate the kingdom, but Tibolt was the last friend Solaris had, and she owed it to the man to attempt her daring rescue.

Her gaze returned to the ocean tides, and she watched them slap each other like playful children. A strange scent filled the air, something that resembled grilled beef. Within that seemingly innocent fragrance, she was able to identify the putrid smell of burnt human flesh. The people of Babylon were performing their nightly sacrifice to their god, Arumash.

Solaris felt a melody rise within her spirit, consuming her fears and her doubts. She hummed it loudly, watching with fascination as the sound carried across the waves and stilled the rambunctious children of the sea. She hummed louder, allowing the tune she was pulling from thin space to echo out across the deserted shoreline, causing the grains of sand to tremble and the water to turn to glass.

She stopped humming, in awe of what she had done. She heard voices behind her and turned to find a multitude of guards roaming the top of the wall. One of them pointed in her general direction. Solaris couldn’t make out what he was saying, but she knew enough to know she had to hide or she would be tortured and killed with Tibolt.

The Friday Muse – Crystals

The Friday Muse (Cropped)

Today’s Friday Muse piece is another short snippet that I know will at some point lead to a bigger story. It seems someone has found a way to keep the alien/demonic entity of Legion (found in my Black Earth series) at bay, but nothing is ever what it seems…

The red hue emanating from the fist-sized crystal shard reminded her of the lava pits of Endwon.

“You must handle the crystal carefully, your majesty,” Cedrick advised.

Breata huffed. “This is the fifth shard I have recovered in the last Universal Year, Cedrick. I don’t need a lecture on how fragile and unstable they are.”

Cedrick took his worn brown cap off and bowed. “My apologies.”

Breata brushed her hands, which were covered in sweat and grime, on Cedrick’s cap before he placed it back atop his head. “I would much rather have come to these caverns in more appropriate attire.”

Cedrick cleared his throat. “I sincerely think the blue gown you picked out for our excursion makes you look the part of royalty – which is what we needed the denizens of this planet to believe if they were to let you near this specific shard.”

She glanced down at the hem of her gown, covered in mud from their trek into the cavern. The glow from the red crystal shard made the brown dirt look black – like Legion’s dark form – against her attire. With much resolve, she thrust her hands toward the rock wall and took hold of the crystal shard embedded within.

“Careful!” Cedrick snapped. “If you break that shard, the magic energy within it will kill us!”

Breata sighed. “When we get back to Endwon, will you do me a favor and grow a pair?” She grasped tightly to the shard and pulled on it. The crystal came free from the weak rock. She held it up in front of her face, feeling its warmth against her skin, and grinned. “One step closer, Cedrick. One step closer to defeating Legion once and for all.”

raw-crystal-formation_fyK9vwdd (Resized)Cedrick chuckled. “Hardly a step toward such a lofty achievement, your majesty. This crystal shard – well, enough of them – will simply keep Legion at bay, it will do nothing to destroy Legion.”

She took the burgundy-colored pouch fastened to her wrist and slid the crystal inside it. “That in itself brings us one step closer to defeating Legion for good. Have you no sense today?”

A loud click echoed through the cavern corridors. Breata turned to Cedrick, her earlier suspicions confirmed when she saw the energy pistol in his hand, pointed directly at her. He held his other hand out toward her. “I’m sorry to do this, your majesty, but I’m going to have to insist you hand that pouch over to me.”

“Your words don’t fool me,” Breata said, placing the pouch in his palm. “You’re not sorry. I had my suspicions about you since the day you requested to accompany me to this place.”

He grinned, shoving the pouch into his coat pocket. “If you suspected me for a traitor, maybe you should have done something to prevent this.”

“I hoped my suspicion was just that. I placed my faith and trust in you.”

“And look what you get for it,” he said, slowly backing up toward the entrance of the cavern. “You get abandoned here on a desolate world outside of your own star system. I’ll make sure to inform the kingdom that their royal majesty was killed valiantly attempting to retrieve the Sols crystal before it shattered and she was killed instantly by the magic residing within.”

“That doesn’t sound rehearsed at all.”

He stopped backtracking and tilted his head. “You don’t seem that concerned in regards to your predicament, your majesty.”

“Is that what you want to see? Fear? Begging? I will give you neither. I’ll find a way off this world and I will hunt you down and make sure I get back what is rightfully the Kingdom of Edwon’s.”

“Correction, your majesty, I will make sure to give the Kingdom of Edwon’s what is rightfully theirs: judgment.”

The Friday Muse – Red Crane

The Friday Muse (Cropped)

Today’s Friday Muse piece is short but feels like it has the potential to open up into an entire novel. Or, knowing my luck, an entire novel series.

Red Crane

Detective Hale ripped through the strips of yellow and black police tape and entered the dark room, exchanging the warmth of the hallway for the cold of a crime scene. Blue moonlight pierced the long vertical blinds in the living room, casting cerulean stripes across the disheveled studio apartment. He shut the door behind him, wishful that none of the neighbors had seen him enter. The department knew nothing of his presence here. He had been ordered to stay far away from this particular crime scene, but he had no idea why. He wasn’t a suspect, and this part of Lysallis was under his jurisdiction.

He made his way past the small kitchen to his right and entered the living area. He scanned the room, making a mental note of the toppled lamp, the smashed computer desk, and the overturned couch. A struggle had occurred here. He approached the blinds and peered out on the city. He marveled at the view of Lysallis from the vantage point of the twentieth floor. The Pleasure District, lit in a red haze, stood out like a glowing ruby in the distance.

Hale continued his search around the one-room apartment, checking the in-wall bookshelves, the big-screen television, and the small bathroom. Nothing stood out to him, aside from the various toppled items that filled the living space.

And then his eyes caught sight of the one item he had been searching for, the one item that would connect his assumptions with the truth of the matter. Atop the small end table that stood near the overturned couch sat a small crane made of origami.

Hale took a pair of tweezers from the inside pocket of his overcoat and used them to lift the  crane from its perch on the end table. He examined the paper bird and noticed that it was nearly identical to the other paper birds that had been left at the other half dozen crime scenes he had investigated in the last few months. The crane was made of paper, red in color, soaked in the victim’s own blood. A calling card left by the Red Crane Killer.

The Friday Muse – Light

The Friday Muse (Cropped)

With the first book of my Black Earth series being re-released via The Crossover Alliance next week, today’s segment takes another look at the series’ universe and offers a glimpse at a new character who realizes their special abilities at work in the darkness…

A light flickers in the distance. It is the only light I can see from the window of the Mega Dollar Store. I can’t tell what the light is exactly – a malfunctioning bulb, wild electricity, maybe even someone attempting Morse code with light? I am too afraid to venture outside of my little trinket store, cross the dark parking lot, and make my way to that light. For all I know it could be a trap.

My time here in the Mega Dollar Store began a few days ago. I ran here to escape the menagerie of evil that has infiltrated our planet. Hellhounds and Trapors and Sceens and all other matter of darkness came after me as soon as the mark on my right wrist began to glow – the three horizontal lines with the small dot in the center of the second line. Bright white light poured out of the mark, yet I have no idea where the mark came from or how my body is able to create such light naturally.

I was in the middle of scrounging for food on the outskirts of town in an abandoned grocery store. My wrist lit up in a flood of light and the shadows suddenly came alive. I ran for it, lost them – somehow – and managed to get to this dollar store. I’ve been living off cans of stale chili and flat soda since then. The light coming from my wrist allows me the ability to see in the dark, but it also draws in the darkness. I use towels sometimes – most of the time – to muffle the light.

I move from the window and make my way through the cash register stands, using my wrist light to guide the way while shielding it with my left hand. I am glad I traded out my squeaky boots for quieter tennis shoes. They are more comfortable, but less durable. I wish I could find pants, but my skirt will have to protect my legs from the cold until I am able to leave this place and move on. I know there is a mall not too far from here, but I fear what may be in that mall now that Legion has overrun the city.

I wander down the educational aisle, full of pencils, stencils, poster paper, and…yes, music books. Cheaply made, highly generic, but they may do just the same to comfort my trembling soul. There is a book here with church hymns within its flimsy pages, and I thumb through to a random page of which I am unable to read the title of the song.

I clear my throat and glance around the dark store, confirming there are no glowing blue eyes anywhere. Then I began to sing, my voice a bit raspy, but melodious just the same.

Your mercy stirs my heart to sing,
a melody I was taught in creation’s womb,
Though the stars fall to the earth,
and darkness plagues the land,
Your love will remain,
The flowers of the field will sing Your praise,
and all the world will dance for You,
You, oh Lord, give me light to battle the shadows,
You, oh Lord, give me healing with the pain,
You, oh Lord, give me shelter in the storm,
Oh Lord, I live to give glory to your name!

It isn’t until I pull my face out of the music book that I am startled by the fact that the darkness which once resided with the Mega Dollar Store is gone, and in its place, the light from my wrist is able to fill the entire area with a brilliant light, as if it were daylight within the store.


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