Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Bronze Arrow

New short story in rough draft form. Please post your thoughts.

"The Bronze Arrow"

I knew I couldn't hear it. Knew it was foolish to imagine I could hear it whistling through the air behind me, but I couldn't stop myself. It was a wild night as I rode over the open plain, the edge of a terrible rainstorm gliding on my heels. My horse snorting and galloping and the wind howling were the only noises to be heard, but still I couldn't stop myself from imagining I heard it. In the back of my mind, it was always there, in the distance, in the darkness, waiting for me to slow down.

I had been riding nonstop for hours, so when I came across an inn sitting forlornly on a hilltop, I eagerly took the opportunity for rest. My horse could scarcely stand another mile. I had tarried too long at the last city, and the consequences had nearly been dire.

The innkeeper had seen slow business these past moons, and all too eagerly took on the strangely dressed, long-haired man who walked into his building with perhaps a little too much urgency. The bar was almost empty, with only two patrons sitting at the counter, nursing half-empty beers. The innkeeper, a slight, bespectacled man, eyed my saber and bow a bit suspiciously, but I ignored his stare, wasting no time in ordering a hot bath and a pot of coffee. He, to his credit, wasted no time in complying.

No rest could last forever, not for a hunted man like me. Curses don't sleep, I can tell you that much. Within a few hours, I was laying in bed on top of the covers. I stared at the ceiling, wide awake. I'd ordered coffee because I knew trying to sleep was pointless. It was in the dead watches of the night that I stole out, making for the barn to saddle my horse. Whose name was Ginny, by the way. I'd paid for my time in advance, knowing this need would arise.

I couldn't help sighing as I left all comfort, warmth and light behind. Soon it would be another city, and another, and another.

That, or I would die.

There was only one other alternative. There was a distant mountain, far to the south, where I'd been told I might find an answer, and possibly a bit of refuge. As we galloped away from the inn, I knew I had to make a choice. I could keep running from my problems, or I could try to find a solution.

Gently steering my horse south, I made my decision.


The mountains lay scattered across the horizon like sleeping dragons, all gently sloping foothills that gave way to towering monoliths in the distance. The air here was thick with mist, a fog that was making it more and more difficult to see our way.

I let myself relax at the sight of the mountains, feeling a little closer to my goal. I slowed the pace ever so slightly, allowing Ginny to catch her breath a bit before the long hard road that was coming.

Breathing easier myself, I finally began to feel like I might actually survive this whole ordeal. It wasn't long before the hills began to rise all around me. The distant mountaintops were blocked from view, leaving me stranded in the mist. I was left with only the road to follow, as we plodded along at an ever slower pace.

As grassland gave way to ever rising walls of rock, I began to grow a little uneasy, wanting to be on my way. I tried to get a little more speed from poor Ginny, but she was too exhausted, so I settled for the meager pace we'd already been keeping.

"Well, well, gentlemen, what have we here?" A strange voice called from the stark whiteness. The words came across deadly quiet, yet perfectly audible. Almost as if the speaker were standing right beside me...

I barely had time to react. Within a few seconds of hearing the voice, I was on the ground, hurled away from my horse. A man had tackled me and tried to stab me with a knife, but I managed to deflect the blade and kill him. Another soon came scrambling out of the mist waving a hefty battle-ax. I drew my sword and took him down with an effortless strike to the chest, sidestepping the wild swing the bandit made as he fell.

I heard two more moving about in the rocks above our heads and, dropping my sword, I quickly pulled out my bow and took careful aim for where I heard the sounds coming from. Two bodies thudded to the earth.

I slid my bow back into its quiver and crouched, picking up my sword. I waited quietly, listening for any signs that might alert me to another attacker.


I whistled for my horse and began to clean off my blade, heavy hearted. I hadn't wanted to ever kill again. A man who carries a blade is a man who considers peace after the fight is over. That's what my old master had taught me, a warrior himself, but one who considered a sword something to be taken up with great caution.

I'd had no choice, that's what I told myself. I'd been provoked. I found Ginny and returned to the trail easily enough. I left the bodies for the vultures. It would be pointless to have killed them to save myself only to forsake so much time that I died regardless. If I couldn't take back their deaths, I figured the least I could do was survive myself.

Perhaps for all the men I'd killed, it was the least I could do.


It was deep within a cave huddled underneath an enormous mountain heavily frosted with ice and snow that I finally found my destination. It was after two long, brutal days of wondering. I'd run out of food, and nearly lost my horse, but soon the two of us stood dripping wet within the entryway of a cavern that ran deep into darkness. I looked back and saw only blustering winds blowing flakes of snow onto the cavern.

The both of us shook the moisture from our bodies, glad to have found some shelter at last. How did I know this was the right place? It simply had to be. We'd found no other caves in all our time here, and I'd been promised a cave. A man who'd called himself a prophet had told me to come here. I'd found him in the market of the last city I'd visited. He'd worn a simple brown robe and looked all but homeless, but his words had been full of wisdom, reminding me of my master.

If this wasn't it, I was going to die anyways, so it hardly mattered. I dismounted and lit a torch, leading Ginny inside. I was pleased to note some signs of life, however ancient in appearance. Paintings were scattered all over the walls, some of them quite ornate. Once I left the outside chill behind, I dropped my horse's reins, leaving her behind to further explore alone.

I soon found myself pursuing a light shining in the distance, near the heart of the mountain. I began to come across signs of life here and there, gnawed-upon animal bones, discarded clothing, crumbled up parchment. Once I neared the light, I stepped within someone's living quarters. There was a fireplace, a bed, a wood stove, some bookshelves and a desk, all centered around a threadbare rug of oriental origin.

There was also a great mirror hanging against the far wall, straight across from me. I'd come to the end of the cave, and the end of the road. The living space had two inhabitants. A sleeping bulldog lay on the rug, snoring gently.

And at the desk, a man. He was scribbling furiously at his parchment, writing something that must have been terribly important, for even as my torchlight entered the greater circle of light created by his fireplace, still he didn't turn.

But before I could open my mouth to announce myself, he spoke. Without turning to face me. "I know what you've come for, Tobias Devlin."

I was too shocked to speak. Before I could, he continued. "A heavy curse no doubt lays upon you. The bronze arrow seeks your heart. Answer me this, my boy, whom have ye killed?" He turned to look at me. An old man with a long beard and slender spectacles perched upon his nose.

I cleared my throat. "I have killed many men, good sir." I said very quietly.

" recent as two days hence, I suppose. What shall we do with such bloody hands?" He stood and began to walk towards me, visually inspecting me. His clothes were simple linen, like the marketplace prophet. "Yes...what shall we do indeed. Who taught you the way of the sword?"

"My old master, in my old village in forest lands far from here."

"Yes...yes...but who taught you to kill?"

"Uh...I cleared my thoat. "I joined the local was my lieutenant. He forced me kill. To finish off the wounded on the battlefield, because he thought I was too weak. After that...I became a mercenary, and an assassin, and..." I stopped and lowered my head, tears welling in my eyes.

"How did you come under this curse?" He asked quietly, placing his fingers against my chin and tilting my head back up.

"This woman, I uh, killed her husband. She sent me a letter. Said she'd hired some sort of witch. Said the witch would launch an arrow, a cursed arrow made of bronze that would find me and kill me, no matter where I went. At first I didn't believe it, but then a friend, he told me I'd better run. He told me his brother had met the very same fate not three years ago. And so I ran. For three months I've been on the move, fearing this arrow coming to kill me. I've been afraid of perishing, and the punishment that awaits a man who's dealt so much killing."

The room was quiet after I finished my story. All I could hear was the crackle of the fireplace and the breathing of the dog slumbering near its hearth. Finally the old man spoke, his pale blue eyes looking into mine sadly.

"A tale of much pain you tell, as one who does not relish killing as much as some of his fellows. You love to live for excitement, but do not enjoy the taking of life. I can help you. I will. Come with me."

He led me to the mirror, which was nothing terribly fancy. Just a large, plain rectangle of glass. With one gnarled finger, he tapped it. At once our images vanished, replaced by what looked like the very picture of Eden itself. Lush grasses, tall trees heavy with fruit, a warm sunset glowing in the clouds. The mirror was a portal to some other place, a paradise.

I could even feel the warmth of it, smell the fragrances borne on a gentle breeze. I choked up, unable to speak for the beauty of it. It was home. It reminded me so much of the forest land where I'd been born.

"You who lost your home to fire and war, I'll send ye to a new home, I will. You've but to step through this mirror. But first, please, take your horse. I've nothing to feed such a beast with here. And this mangy bulldog, I'd like to be rid of him too. He does nothing but sleep most of the day anyways, lousy good-for-nothing rascal."

Within a few moments, I was ready. My horse was here, the lazy dog awoken. I didn't have words to articulate my thanks. A new home. I could hardly believe it. I made to lay my sword and my bow down against a wall of the cavern, wanting to leave them behind, but the man insisted I take them.

"Now, now. You'll need such tools for hunting, I would imagine. You'd best get moving, son. I reckon your time is drawing short."

I took his hand and shook it, trying to express my gratitude. "I...don't know how to thank you..." I began.

He stopped me. "No time for that, get going now. He gave Ginny a slap, urging her through the mirror. Within seconds she was standing in the deep green grass, grazing hungrily. The dog was next, chasing after some rodent with a loud bark.

Before I could say anything else, I found myself being pushed along next. "'re certain the bronze arrow won't be able to find me?" I asked as my own feet found the soil.

"Yes, yes. Quite certain. I'll take care of things there, son, on that you have my word. I have but one request...I want you to be a farmer. Till the land. That's your new lot in life. That sword is but the first blade in a plow, you understand?"

I nodded. I was wrapped in the wonder and excitement of a new world. All I could see of the cave was a small window. At first it had been the same size as the mirror on the other side but it was rapidly shrinking.

The last thing I saw of that other place was the bronze arrow, finally come to claim its target. The arrow swooped in with a deadly whistling and struck the old man clean through the heart, killing him instantly. I'd seen so much death in my life, and I'd never cried on the battlefield. I felt a single tear slide down my cheek, perhaps another indicator that I was a new man.

As the window vanished, I saw a little more of my new home. A few tiny cottages stood huddled together not half a mile away, evening lights twinkling in their windows. I called for my dog and horse, eager to meet these new neighbors.

For the first time in years, I felt hope in my heart. I didn't know who the man was, or how he'd learned so much about me, but I would not forget his sacrifice, nor the many whose lives I'd ended. But I did know I would live now with a greater purpose, as a warrior, a farmer and a man, and perhaps someday I would give up my own life to save another.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Two more new short stories and some new content for both my novels on the way soon. I've been doing some behind the scenes type work on several stories, and hope to post the results soon. In the meantime, I would appreciate some reviews for both the short stories I've posted over the last week. I've gotten one positive for Silence, but I'd love to hear some more thoughts on both, particularly Wolf Pack.

In other news...there is no other news. I'm not working much right now, so I'm spending much time writing, and mulling over writing...and looking for a job.

New episode of Lost tomorrow...and Bioshock 2 comes out! Maybe not very interesting to some, but certainly important in the entertainment world, which I consider myself to be a small part of.

Now...I must be off...hopefully to find something worthwhile to do with my time. Later llamas.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Wolf Pack


I was not afraid of the night. Despite the darkness of the forest, I didn't shiver with a hint of fear. Stars dazzled the night sky with a heady light, as if the earth had been sucker-punched by a meteorite.

The trees all around me bent and swayed, trying to obscure my way, trying to keep me from returning to my camp. But the joke was on them. I didn't care one iota about returning to my camp.


I wasn't afraid of that either. I ambled slowly, at a leisurely pace. I'd left the path not too long ago, wanting to explore the area a bit before settling in for dinner. I was, just this once, glad to be alone. No one would come looking for me, and I couldn't be missed.

I unbuttoned my coat, letting the mildly chilling wind of the summer evening caress me. A howl bit the night, tearing a chunk out of the peace and quiet, mauling my carefree feelings.

But still, I was not afraid.

Only focused in mind. Come find me, I thought. I didn't know why it should, but the idea thrilled me. Lost in the wilderness of Europe, I hoped for a pack of wolves to find me.

And this they did, with much haste.

There were seven. Seven fearsome beasts, all circling me, gauging their best chance for attack. Their coats of brown, black and silver glistened faintly in the moonlight, as if touched by some primordial forest magic.

I briefly considered my options, rifling through each one like cards on a rolodex. I could run, but they would be faster. I could fight, but they would be stronger. After what seemed like an eternity, I made a plan.

It was a hasty, foolhardy plan. It came from the back of my mind, wedged beneath all common sense, and rumpled slightly by a growing tinge of worry, but it was the only plan I could imagine working.

The alpha. I identified him quickly enough. He was a bit larger than the others, and one could see they deferred to him. I dropped carefully, slowly, to my knees and in the underbrush.

One is often told never to look a wild beast in the eye, lest they see it for a challenge, however that was exactly what I did. I soon found its eyes were mismatched. One golden brown, the other a circle of stolen sky.


I didn't move or bat my eyes. All around us the wolves continued to growl and circle, waiting for their leader to rip into my flesh.

But no. He didn't lead the charge, or begin to snarl, or raise his hackles.

He whimpered.

The mighty wolf whimpered and lowered his head, then his whole body, till he was laying on the ground in total submission. I knew then why I'd gotten lost and hadn't cared. I knew why I wasn't one bit afraid.

This was where I belonged. These wolves were now my wolves. These woods, my woods. I reached forward and nuzzled the alpha male between the ears.

"I guess I call the shots now," I whispered.


Two years later.

I was in love with the pace. Despite the fact that I couldn't always keep up, despite the fact that I wasn't swift enough on my feet, despite my weak human lungs and my poor stamina...I loved it. This was my world, and running was where I belonged.

Usually the wolves kept a lighter pace when they ran with me, in order to let me keep at the heart of the formation. Nonetheless, we moved at an incredibly breakneck speed, and it thrilled me to the bone. I leaped over rocks and around trees, watching as my breath billowed out before me in the early dawn light. It made me grin, this beautifully crisp autumn air, and watching everyone breathing.

A light howl split the air, followed by a bit of sharp barking from the former alpha. I'd had a few wolves scouting ahead, with the rest of the group sticking closer to me. I raised my left fist, signaling half the group to move ahead and investigate, in case the alpha needed assistance. Four wolves scrambled ahead, panting for air.

The rest stayed with me, more of an honor guard really, but I didn't like to be caught surprised and alone. Knowing that they'd discovered something, I upped my speed as much as I could manage. We soon burst into a clearing. Seven wolves already circled, just as they had that day long ago.

A surprise.

It was not a wounded deer or some such thing but a girl. She looked so frail and delicate, laying prone in the grass. I couldn't help feeling moved to sympathy. The wolves looked at me, waiting for the signal to begin feeding on the apparently unconscious girl. I shook my head and waved them off.

"Not this one." I whispered, my voice a bit hoarse. Sometimes I didn't talk for days at a time, but I had a feeling I would soon need my English again.

What was she doing all the way out here alone? I crouched down. She was shockingly pink, and I couldn't believe how weak she looked. But I wondered if perhaps I looked much different in the eyes of a wolf. I couldn't stop staring at her skin. It reminded me of rose-tinted glass, a flush born of the cold. The entire pack began to crowd around now, sniffing at her skin and licking my face and elbows.

I reached down and patted her shoulder, at first too gently. She didn't stir. I shook her again, once again misjudging and being perhaps a little too rough. At once a pair of large, mismatched eyes met mine as she quickly sat up.

The girl's eyes were wide as the sun and moon, one brown and one blue, just like my friend the alpha. I stared deep into them, wanting to tame her as I had the wolves. But her eyes had no give, and something in their depth scared me, ever so slightly.

I broke stares first, chuckling.

"Who are you?" she whispered, sounding understandably nervous. Her gorgeous, disparate irises darted left and right, watching my friends' every move. But her spine was straight, and her voice held no tremble. Only a deepening of red in her rosy cheeks belied her true feelings. Her fear.

I grinned, a smile that reached all the way up to my eyes. I liked this odd, pink creature. She was brave.

"Me? I'm the leader of this wolf pack."

I would have stayed up with you all night...

Hi. I just watched an awesome movie called To Save A Life. Definitely a must see movie in the opinion of yours truly. Probably the best Christian movie I've seen in a long time. I can't believe how under the radar it is. I want to see it again.

I've had a lot of thoughts on my mind lately...I want to try to write something coherent soon, but I don't know that tonight is the right time. I wrote four ideas on my hand tonight...four ideas that have been on my mind a lot lately. You should tell me what sort of things they bring to your mind.


And I wish I'd written down evangelism, but I didn't. Probably just as well. I have sloppy handwriting and I ran out of room anyways.

I've heard messages on some of these things lately...and unity is just something I've been talking with some friends about a lot. As you'll soon find (I wrote a vision statement for our magazine that I'll possibly post soon)'s going to be a defining component of our magazine.

Now. It's late...and I'm eating organic cheezits. I should get to bed, but my mind is still kind of awake.

I leave you with this thought...I'm working on two new short stories...still trying to find that perfect little nugget of awesomeness that I can publish in the mag.

They're called:

-The Bronze Arrow


Tuesday, February 2, 2010


This is an experiment. Please post your thoughts.


Darkest thundercloud rumbled angrily overhead as I raced across the prairie. Nothing but endlessly waving fronds of grass as far as the eye could see. Before me, my destination. An ancient farmhouse creaking in the wind.

A barn.

A house.

A metal windmill.

The later of these was spinning wildly as I approached. The rusty contraption's rattling was what had drawn me here in the first place. Or had it? I had the strangest feeling I'd been here before.

I walked up the the house, ignoring the front door. People weren't what I wanted, though I seriously doubted anyone lived here. The peeling paint and umkempt fields, the lack of animals, the general calm and quiet, it all spoke of abandonment.

And I'd been abandoned, too. Even the road I'd been traveling had forsaken me, leaving me lost in this monotonous backwater. No, the farmhouse proper wasnt' what I sought.

The cellar. It drew me. I pulled back the creaky double doors to reveal concrete steps leading into oblivion, into darkness. The fetid stench of dirt and decay immediately hit my nostrils, but I didn't shrink back from the musty odor. Rather I reached into the pocket of my bloodstained jeans and pulled out a flashlight.

My only possession.

Its beam guided me down the stairs and into a room filled with masonry jars. Their glass splintered my flashlight beam, scattering shadows and sunbeams alike. The jars were all disgusting., some filled with dusty water, some filled with black or green goop in varying states of rot. The cellar was huge, with shelves in rows that seemed to go on forever. The walls were thick with the endless toil of generation after generation of spiders, leaving cobwebs hanging everywhere.

As I walked, I heart a scuttling that nearly made my heart stop.


I may have lied to you. I had two possessions. The second was a knife. I slowly pulled it from a clip on my belt and flicket it out, ready to fight if the need arose.

I'd forgotten to clean it. Still bloody. It wasn't a rat but a man that I found, behind a shelf. He stood at a work table, with his back to me. A variety of tools were strewn about on the floor. Most, like my knife, were bloodstained. The room had an odd smell here, more like gunpowder. On the table itself, were what looked like a chemist's set. A confusing array of beakers and bottles and tubing.

I thought I'd approached silently, but suddenly the man turned, and raised a finger to his lips. But he didn't speak. I opened my mouth to say something, but he shook his head emphatically, and raised a finger once more. Then the man ran off and grabbed three bottles off three different shelves and placed them on the table.

A bottle of blue liquid.

A bottle of green liquid.

A bottle of red liquid.

Then he backed off and gestured towards the table, as if inviting me to do something. Tired of playing games, I broke the silence. "What? I'm supposed to pick one?"

Instantly his eyes bugged out of his skull. He ran towards me, and wrapped his fingers around my throat. Strangling me. He was strangling me. I wanted to use my knife, but in my shock and confusion, I'd dropped it. All I could do now was try to push him away.

he roared. "The human voice! It ruins everything!" All around us bottles began to shatter. He reached up and grabbed a bottle of brown goo that had survived all the explosions and smashed it over my head.

I fell backward, and before I knew what was happening, he was forcing some sort of thick, viscous black fluid down my throat. "I know you, killer," he said. I struggled a bit, but he had me as if in a vice. The man barely seemed to even be straining himself.

"I know your name..."he continued. "I know where where you come from and what you done. You coulda been forgiven for the man you murdered, but you ruined it. I'm going to send you back. Make the right choice this time. And keep your mouth shut!"

My eyelids began to close. I felt my conscious mind fading. "I know We can fix this. We will fix this...if I have to send you back a hundred times. See you soon."

Far far above, into the sky, the last thing I heard was the sound of rain drumming on the roof of the farmhouse.

It was a humid day, but the wind was picking up. I was covered in sweat when I emerged from the forest and out into the world beyond. My clothes were bloodstained, but I didn't know why. I'd never been here before,but I walked as if on a path. As if with a destination already in mind, despite my lack of memories.

I soon left the forest behind. Good riddance, I thought to myself. I was glad to be free of it.

Darkest thundercloud rumbled angrily overhead as I raced across the prairie. Nothing but endlessly waving fronds of grass as far as the eye could see. Before me, my destination. An ancient farmhouse creaking in the wind.

A barn.

A house.

A metal windmill.

The later of these was spinning wildly as I approached. The rusty contraption's rattling was what had drawn me here in the first place. Or had it? I had the strangest feeling I'd been here before...