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…

Light
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.

The Friday Muse – Darkwielder

The Friday Muse (Cropped)

Today’s Muse piece is a short snippet of fantasy fiction involving a magic-wielding character known as a Darkwielder. Not sure which of my fictional universes (if any) this comes from, but the piece definitely opens the door for a possible short story or novel.

Darkwielder
Beatrice stood before the two story house on Hawk Street and looked up at the charred remains of what once used to be her home. The houses to the right and left were untouched by the blaze, shielding the rest of the block from potential harm. But Beatrice knew it wasn’t luck that prevented the fire from the spreading. The fire had been supernatural in nature, a violet-colored blaze specifically set to destroy only her home. A blaze that only could have been cast from a Darkwielder.

Beatrice approached the small set of stairs that led to what was once a beautiful porch area. Now it contained nothing more than skeletal remains of ash and sorrow. Her sneakers pressed against the sick wood with creaking and groaning, as if she were taking the last bit of life from the structure.

She walked through the empty doorframe into a room full of ash. Most of the walls had been burned out, leaving behind charred studs that revealed the true structure of the home before its unfortunate demise. She scanned the room and spotted a small purple shine glittering from under a mound of gray ash. She hurried to it, pushing the ash away, revealing a small cluster of crystals.

“You’ll do nicely,” she whispered. The collection of purple crystals – gleanathyst – could fetch her a high price on the magic market. But she had no intentions of selling it. More than anything, she wanted to use the remnants of the Darkwielder’s magic staff to create her own staff. She was long overdue for it, especially since the completion of her elemental training months earlier.

She tucked the gleanathyst into the inside pocket of her long gray sweater and stood to her feet. The house felt so empty, so cold. She heard the sound of neighborhood children playing nearby, and she remembered when the house was abuzz with life within its walls. Now it lay dead, like a Gurgant beast that had been slain by a dark magician.

“You came back for it,” a voice spoke out behind her. “I didn’t think you would push aside your fear to return to this place.”

Beatrice turned around, unsurprised to have a visitor in what was left of her home. The woman who spoke was none other than the Darkwielder herself. A tall and slender woman, the Darkwielder wore the gray silk cloak and tall black boots that most every other Darkwielder wore once they graduated from their training in magic. This particular Darkwielder had brilliant green hair that snuck out of the sides of her hood, surrounding her flawless pale face with green bushels.

“You took my home from me.”

The Darkwielder nodded. “I did.”

“Why?”

“Give me that cluster of gleanathyst.”

Beatrice clutched her sweater shut over her chest. “No. You burned my home down with your dark magic. In return, I am going to keep this for myself.”

The Darkwielder held her pale hand out. “I said give it to me.”

“No. You no longer have a staff, so you cannot use your fiery magic on me.”

“I still have other magics,” she said.

“But you’re not allowed to use them here,” Beatrice replied. She approached the woman, a wide grin on her face. “I don’t know why you burned my home down, but you’ll regret doing so.”

“I will –“

Beatrice put her hand up to stop the woman. “You will do nothing. A Darkwielder has to follow certain rules.”

“Members of the clan do.”

Beatrice stared into the woman’s green eyes. “You cannot fool me. You’re still in the clan. It was your clan who set you up to burn down my home. Were you trying to kill me?”

“We do not kill. We simply steal.”

“Yes, that is your philosophy. But to kill is to steal life, is it not?”

The Darkwielder’s thin lips curved into a grin. “You know nothing of our philosophies.”

“I do know about your rules though.”

The Darkwielder moved to the side, allowing Beatrice a clear path through the empty doorframe. “Be on your way, hunter.”

Beatrice smiled, patting the inside pocket her of her sweater. “Your rules were meant to give you freedoms in this world, but they have only chained you to your broken ideals.”

Society’s View of Jesus as a Peace-Loving Hippie

background-with-face-of-jesus_GyLhhCYO

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend lately, one I’ve decided to address if only for the sake of emptying my head of all the nonsense I’ve been coming across on social media lately.

Back in June, when the supreme court passed the equality law regarding marriage, I noticed many Christians placing the brightly colored rainbow background on their Facebook avatars. I found this action alone to be disturbing because to call yourself a Christian and then place a symbol of support for sinful behavior on your profile is one of the greatest forms of hypocrisy I have seen in this age. The Old Testament AND the New Testament are very clear regarding the sin of sexual immorality.

Alas, that is a discussion – a much bigger discussion – for another time.

Something else that I noticed during this period of religious anarchy was the response coming from many of these so-called Christians when they were confronted by those who follow God’s Word. Many stated that Jesus/God is love, and because marriage equality was an act of love, then Jesus/God supports it.

Huh?

Let’s break this down, shall we? Because to be honest, I am confused as to what version of the Bible my Christian brethren seem to be reading nowadays. Is there a Culturally Accepted New Version (CANV) that Wal-Mart put out that I don’t know about?

night-background-with-crucifixion-of-jesus-christ_f10iT0KuJesus/God is love. Yes, in many ways, that statement is true. God is love. He sent His only son to die on the cross for OUR sins to show His love for us. Jesus is love. He died on the cross for our sins. Sacrifice is the ultimate act of love, and Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice, not just by dying on the cross, but by taking our sins – all of our past, present, and future sins – with him to that cross. He died under the weight of all of that in the ultimate act of love.

The problem with the statement that Jesus is love is that most of the people using that statement as an argument to back up their rebellion against God’s laws are stopping there. Jesus is love. They forget that Jesus is more than love. God is more than love. He is justice. He is judgement. He is discipline.

Most importantly, He is holy.

I think part of the problem is that society has a serious misconception of what true love is. Love is not acceptance. Love is not compromise. Love means speaking the truth into someone’s life, regardless of how popular or how soothing that truth may or may not be. When you say ‘tough love,’ what you’re really saying is love. Real love.

I’m not sure where this idea that Jesus is an inactive pacifist came from. Some of these Christians waving the rainbow flag around in my Facebook feed seem to forget that Jesus overturned tables, that he confronted people – strangers – on their sins, that he rebuked his own disciples for participating in Satan’s quest to keep him from the cross. Let’s not forget that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, or that He required the Israelites to destroy the ‘ites’ throughout the Old Testament through – most times – violent methods, or that He banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. These things were all done out of love, out of truth, out of holiness, out of discipline.

“If Jesus were alive today, he would embrace everyone in love.”

What? If he were alive today? What? Are you – a Christian – stating that Jesus is dead? That he never rose from the grave after dying a horrible death on the cross? That everything he did was meaningless? And you think if He were walking as a physical being among us today that He would approve of the behavior touted within the homosexual camp and not confront anyone on their sin?

Yes – Jesus did hang out with sinners throughout the Gospels. No – He did not keep quiet and just chill out with everyone because he had nothing better to do or because He just wanted to be everyone’s friend. He set the example that we should all be living by when he confronted the woman by the well, when he rebuked Peter, when He overturned the tables in the marketplace. He wasn’t a man of inaction as many want to portray him as.

Get your heads out of your ostrich holes and stop spouting gibberish all over social media because you want to look cool and accepting to the rest of society. We’re not called to bend our behavior or our morals to society to appease their wayward beliefs. Jesus was not – is not – a hippie. He’s not just about love. If He were standing in front of you and me right now, He would love us, but He would also confront us on our sins and help us turn – also known as repent – from them. He wouldn’t sugarcoat our situation either. Do you think He went to the cross so He could coddle you the rest of your time here on Earth? No. He’s dead serious about sin, that’s why He gave his life to cleanse you of yours.

I have friends who participate in homosexual behavior. Do I hate them? Absolutely not. I love them, because they are my friends. I care about them. But it doesn’t mean if they invite me to a gay pride parade that I will go. I’m not called by Christ to participate and engage in support of that nature. That’s not loving my neighbor, that’s compromising my beliefs to appease a broken and corrupted generation.

Let’s stop painting our Savior as some tree-hugging Care Bear who is only concerned about showering sinners in acceptance of their behavior while we forget that He died on the cross to save us from our sins. We can’t – shouldn’t – take that lightly. Let’s not let His sacrifice die on the altar of social acceptance. Society as a whole would love to portray Jesus as an archaic figure who just wants to give hugs and high-fives to everyone he comes across, but that’s not the Jesus I know, that’s not the Jesus I have a personal relationship with.

The Friday Muse – Avalanche

The Friday Muse (Cropped)

Today’s Muse is a short piece of flash fiction I wrote a while ago. I’m not sure that it falls in with either of my fiction series, although almost everything I write ends up – at some point – falling in with one of them somehow.

Avalanche
I put the last piece of bark meat in my mouth, savoring the smoky flavor before chewing and swallowing what may be the last piece of food I eat in this frozen wasteland. I enjoy my meal though as I stare out on the blizzard that is quickly making its way toward me, expelling curtains of snow a half mile from where I sit. Very light flurries of snow, white and blue – the color of the pixel blood that comes with a storm like this – dust my cooking stones, slowly putting out the fire I worked so hard to build.

“Great.”

I stand up and stare out on the coming blizzard some more, unconvinced that it will pass by me as my oracle suggests it will. The storm is headed straight toward me, and it only seems appropriate that it would strike me head on seeing as my supplies have run exhausted, my energy has nearly run out, and my clothes have run their course. Looking down at my tattered pants, I can see how white my skin has started to turn in the peekaboos of the heavy denim. I don’t even know what I will sleep in tonight. The long johns I have been using to keep me warm are at the end of their time. The thread has come loose and most of the fabric has unraveled. Blue pixel blood marks where the thorn bushes brushed across me while I travailed the wilderness last week.

I watch the snow come down in a curtain of white, leaving me to wonder if this really will be my last day here in Crystbeck. I have hated this horrible wilderness since I was banished here months ago. Most die within the first few days of being exposed to such brutal cold and unrelenting weather. Little did the Council know that I was raised in wilderness survival – especially in this type of climate. Unfortunately, even though I’ve bought myself a couple of months in this terrain, I still have yet to find the entrance to the Sacred City beyond this. I’ve even entertained thoughts of flagging down pilgrims who are in the midst of their journeys to the Sacred City, but I haven’t seen a single one since being banished here.

So maybe this is where I’ll die.

I pick up my cooking stones and carry them inside the shallow cave, placing them next to the pots and pans I haven’t used since last week. The blizzard is sure to destroy me by the morning. I have no more materials to make another fire. No more food to keep from going hungry. No more arrows to be successful in hunting. Everything is used up or useless.

IceThe snow flurries make their way into my cave, forceful and without manners. The blizzard is dangerously close now. I will not bother trying to fortify my cave against it. It takes hours for me to move the boulders in front of the entrance, and I only just saw the blizzard while I was eating my last piece of bark steak.

The only thing I can do, the only action I am able to take is to wrap myself in my bark blanket and slide myself within the sleeping bag I serendipitously managed to find on one of my hunting excursions. I bundle myself in at the very back of the cave, watching the blizzard move closer and closer to the entrance.

Minutes later, the white curtain finally drapes over the entrance to the cave. I close my eyes, proud of the actions I took to get myself exiled. The world will be a slightly better place because of me. I made a change to things, and that change will resonate throughout future generations. I may not be around to see those changes, but at least I’ll die knowing I was responsible for them.

A thunderous boom shakes the air. I open my eyes to see rubble crumbling down over the cave entrance, blocking the white light that had at all times of the day pierced my eyes with its harsh illumination. Within seconds, the entire front entrance to the cave is blocked by dark-colored rock, all of which had somehow careened down from the mountaintop above me.

An avalanche. The rock will keep me safe and warm from the blizzard, but now I will die from hunger and lack of oxygen instead of the cold.

How ironic.

The Crossover Alliance – Grand Opening

Grand Opening Banner2I am so incredibly excited to announce the launch of The Crossover Alliance, a unique online publishing company specializing in edgy Christian speculative fiction. Authors who enjoy writing Christ-themed speculative fiction containing real-world content now have a home for their manuscripts. With our Grand Opening finally here, there’s a lot of exciting news we would like to share with all of you!

Now Accepting Novel/Novella Submissions:
We are now accepting novel/novellas submissions – the guidelines of which can be found on our website. Along with the submission guidelines, you can also find a brief list of some of the things we are able to offer authors here in our first year as a publishing company, including royalties, cover design, and various rights via our publishing contract.

Our First Catalog Entry:
Our first book, The Crossover Alliance Anthology – Volume 1, is now available for purchase through Amazon (and soon Nook and Apple), and DRM-free digital versions can be purchased off our own website.

TCA Anthology V1 Kindle Cover

Our 2015 Catalog List:
We are also excited to announce our catalog schedule for the remainder of the year. These are the books we plan on releasing between now and January 2016:

David N. Alderman’s End of the Innocence – Release August
Mark Carver’s Beast – Release September
Jess Hanna’s Adverse Possession – Release October
TCA Anthology – Volume 2 – Release November

Our Giveaway:
In celebration of our grand opening, we are running a giveaway in which you can score a full year digital subscription to our catalog, double packs of our anthologies, and paperback editions of our first short story anthology. There are many ways to enter, and some of the ways can be repeated on a daily basis. The giveaway runs until August 9th.

Enter here!
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The Friday Muse – Silhouettes

 The Friday Muse (Cropped)

Today’s Muse piece is pretty short, but it opens up possibilities for a new character somewhere in one of my series. It’s interesting to think someone could have special vision that allows them to see a color contrast of people’s sin, though not know what their sins are specifically. I may have to follow this muse down the rabbit hole one of these days…

Silhouettes

My eyes may someday be my downfall. Would it be better to be blind? Would it be the best thing if I carved these tiny orbs out of my head and simply covered the dark recesses with a decorative blindfold? I’ve considered it many times. Many times. But I couldn’t do that. I have an aversion to pain. And I like being able to see.

But I don’t like being able to see the black and blue. I peer out across the concourse of the main subway station and I see a sea of black silhouettes – people. People like me, going to and from their daily routines. Nothing out of the ordinary. No terrorist bomber in the station. No nuclear holocaust. Nothing to cause alarm. Not with them, anyway.

Amid those black silhouettes the blue bleeds out like paint. Some have more than others. There are some I have to stare at for a moment to find the blue. But the thing about the blue is that it’s always there on each and every one of them. Each is a spotted lamb. Each is a marred creation.

Each has sinned.

mom-and-daughter-vector-illustration_f1Cs_zd_ (Resized)The power I have been given is more a nuisance than anything else. It’s what I do with the knowledge this power grants me that is the real curse. I cannot help myself. The blue gives me desire to cleanse the silhouettes and make them black again. To erase the sin. To rid my vision of that horrible blue that reminds me of the sky in the middle of a sunny day.

There are some who I approach and convince to repent. Sometimes I get to see them weeks later and their silhouette is much cleaner than before. It makes me somewhat glad, but it does not take away this pain I have within me. The pain of insanity. So much blue. Some who I approach don’t listen to me, and I am tempted to purge them of the blue completely and finally.

There is one silhouette I cannot look upon though. One particular silhouette that if I were to see, I would fall off the ledge of anxiety and sink into utter madness.

My own.

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