Chapter 3 Commentary

So this is the first part of Chapter 3. It isn’t done yet, but I spent the last few hours writing and I figured I should get to posting.

I’m so far back on Nano… I have a nice few days off this week so my hope is to spend at least one or two nights just burning midnight oil.

Anyway – they just got to where they need to go, and shortly after this moment there is some big action coming. There is an aspect of this story that I realize is kind of unbelievable (moreso than the premise anyway) in that he is telling this whole thing to a phone, but then again, Interview With A Vampire is like 3,000 pages and Christian Slater is just recording that whole thing on micro cassette, so I feel this little bit of detail can just be accepted.

There are some details that I’ve already gone and edited in the previous chapters, just minor things to fix direction, and my goal is to really do the major edits to fit things better at the end, like a good writey writer, but certain things I go check on to see what I wrote and go ‘oh wait, that’s not what I want’ and adjust it to fit the direction.

Writing is weird. You aren’t just lying for 50000+ words, you sometimes go back and realize you initially were lying to yourself too, so you have to adjust your previous lie to fit the more total one.

Anyway – enjoy.

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[Nano17] Project: Indigo – Post 3

Table of Contents:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2


Chapter 3

The Quick & Go was like every convenient store in the world. Tight packed aisles loaded with snacks you have to assume have been there since god knows when. The back room though was a fucking mess. Bob’s desk had a computer that was yellowed with age and one of those time stampy machines that I’d been he kept at five early late so he could always have something hanging over your head when he docked your pay an hour.

Underneath the desk was a safe that was wide open and a bunch of papers had fallen around that looked kinda like the same ones Bob had been hauling ass with. Lucille picked one up and her face twisted in that confused way. “Why the hell would Binary Chemicals be sending Bob a check?”

When I peered over her shoulder, she was right. It was a receipt off the top of a check, like you get with your paystub, and the bottom perf had been torn off, so the check had obviously been cashed. It had been from this Binary Chemicals company that Lucille seemed so keen on and it had been for not a small amount of money, like a couple grand. It didn’t say what it was for though, but the date said it was from a couple months back. “Put it in your pocket. Might come in handy if we ever wanna blackmail Bob for smokes.”

I walked over to the swinging door between the front of the house and the back of the house, end the minute it swung open the air that hit me in the face had me dry heaving. “Holy shit… he wasn’t kidding..” the smell was beyond rancid, like someone had pickled a bunch of garbage from a slaughterhouse and left it in the sun for a month. I didn’t throw up, but I also wasn’t sure how I was going to get up the stomach to get out there.

Lucille had been behind me tearing through boxes of stock that hadn’t been put out and when I got back from my hunched over position, she pushed a jar of menthol rub, like the kind you put on your chest when you have a cold, into my hands and I looked at her only to see her entire nose was slathered in the stuff, making her look like she had been trying to snort a gluestick. I obliged and rubbed the stuff on my upper lip and immediately a big part of the smell was lost in a field of mint. “Good job.” I said, trying to not make a big deal of it and pushed through the door.

The lights were off, but the sun still shone through the windows, casting the place in this weird mix of brightness and shadows around every corner. And let me tell you, even with the menthol all over our faces, there was still that scent of something bad in the air. “When did you say he died?” I asked, trying to not put too much air into my nose at any point in time.

“I didn’t, but Rickles worked third shift.. So sometime last night, right?”

“Yeah, but this smell ain’t 12 hours dead…” I said as we ducked through the aisles.

“How would you know?” She said like she was accusing me of making shit up. Pot and kettle and all that. Fact is, I do know, and I’m not explaining the crap from my past to some idiot who believes that her house is protected by fairy circles. I brushed her off and we kept going, and as we got closer to the front of the store, the smell was just getting worse.

When we got up to the front counter, we could see the cop car still sitting out at the entrance of the place, leaning against his car and watching the world go by. Looking at the clock above the wall of cigarettes was a clock that read 3:35 and my heart damn near stopped. I pulled out my phone and saw it was still only 10:30am. When I looked back at the clock I saw that the hands had all stopped moving and recognized it wasn’t saying it was 3:35pm, but possibly whatever had stopped Rickles had stopped the clock too. “Hey,” a thought had hit me. “The freezers are out. Like there’s none of that hum or anything. This place is like dead silent.”

Lucille gasped, “You’re right. This place is usually loud as hell with those broken-ass compressors.”

I had thought the lights were out just as a matter of the place being closed, but even the emergency exit lights were off. Curiouser and curiouser.. Am I right?

That’s right Alice and the Chocolate Factory or some shit.

Anyways, I finally got the nerve to step up and look behind the counter and god damn, everything Bob had said was right. Rickles face, not the prettiest before all of this mind you, looked like his skin was all stretched out and was ready to split. You could see blue and purple veins across his cheeks and his neck, and his eyes pushed out like a little more pressure might have them pop out like corks. It was, by far, the most horrible thing I had ever seen in my life up to that point. I was about to tell Lucille to stay back because of just how gross it was, but she had stepped up a hair too early and let out a surprised shriek. “He… he..” I could hear the tears somewhere in the back of her head getting ready to push out.

“Turn around.” I barked at her, not trying to be mean, just all of a sudden feeling cold in the pit of my stomach and just reacting. I walked around the edge of the counter and saw that his whole body was like that. His flannel shirt was straining against the buttons, and bubbles of flesh were visible where the shirt was pulled apart.

“..why the fuck did we do this?” I asked myself more than Lucille, and I heard her vomit in response.

“Sounds accurate to me.”

Pete stopped and took the shot he had ordered and a look of deep thought came over his face. “Still there?” The voice on the other end asked.

“Yeah.” Pete seemed like he was fighting over some detail, and then finally started again, “So let me stop this for a second to tell you that what I did next, I’m not proud of. Hell, if it wasn’t an important part of the story, I’d leave it out entirely… but.”

Maxine, who had been riveted between serving customers laughed. “You asshole.”

“What?” The phone voice asked.

“Pete stole his fucking wallet.”

Pete sighed, validating that without needing to say another word.

“Would it make you feel better if it was so I could see who his family was so I could tell them what happened?”

Maxine raised her eyebrow, “Is that the main reason you did it?”

Pete shook his head, “Third or fourth, tops.”

While Pete had been telling the story, Maxine had come up with an idea. She wasn’t going to be able to stop people from hearing him. Even if it was only the guy sitting next to Pete, there was a good chance he would eventually eavesdrop enough to recognize that this was a story worth listening to, true or not.

Out of fear that maybe there was an invisible red dot on the back of Pete’s

Thankfully, only a couple of people had caught on that there was something of interest at the bar. Maxine wasn’t entirely sure what to do about that, because she didn’t want people crowding Pete because it might blow whatever cover he was trying to protect by just sitting there, but on the other hand, telling people to not create a scene usually had the exact opposite effect. If this hadn’t been a karaoke night, more people probably would have caught on that there was a guy sitting at the bar, telling his life story. Those that had figured out, Maxine pulled to the side, and made up some story about how Pete was trying to pitch some movie to an executive cousin of hers. Some people might not have bought it, but she didn’t care. They weren’t freaking out.

The best part of it was, she would give them a free drink if they went and sat exactly where she told them too. At first, she thought she should keep them far away from Pete, but then Miles came up, and Maxine loathed Miles. He was the type of guy who regularly complained about how women were all cheaters and liars, but had, on more than one occasion, bumped into his girlfriend while he was getting a drink with his other girlfriend. It was to the point where she thought he did it so he could keep complaining.. It was the only answer.

He got put at a table right in front of the window with his date which probably blocked about half of the view of whomever was lurking out there.

Maxie didn’t know if it would help Pete, but if it put Miles in danger, it helped womankind which was just as good. Hearing that he had gone and stolen Rickles’ wallet though… she couldn’t be certain if he was worth the trouble.

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Chapter 2 Commentary

Living a busy life makes trying to make time to write a real pain in the ass.

I say this, having done webcomics for 10+ years, which legitimately takes less concentrated time than the Nano does, but that’s mostly because my method of doing IHL was a lot of pre-created characters.

Anyway, the second chapter is up, and I made the call that the main narrative will remain in first person. I’m not entirely sure whether the entirety of the whole story will be – mostly because I know the big chunks of what is going to happen and why – I am kind of not sure what is going to happen to Pete specifically – and assuming most of the story is the tale he’s telling, there will definitely need to be a resolution of the bar specifically… but that is legit what my brain is pouring over while I write this stuff I kind of had in my head to start.

As far as Lucille goes – I hope it is coming across that Pete and Lucille are not frenemies so much as Pete hates some of the things in her he doesn’t like in himself. I’m not going to get too deep into how I’m trying to put their relationship together, but for every trait in her that I don’t love in people as a whole, I want there to be the sort of understanding that Pete isn’t the best of people either.

Hope you are enjoying, and I hope I have more to offer you before I’m 10k words behind.



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[Nano17] Project: Indigo – Post 2

Table of Contents: Chapter 1

Chapter 2

“So maybe I should start a couple days ago…” Pete said, his head still on his hand, Maxine doing her best to not appear obvious that she was listening in.

The voice on the phone responded, “We have enough time for you to do that?”

Pete shrugged, “No clue, but you aren’t going to believe me if I tell you the short version.”

There was a sigh on the other end of the line, that Pete took to be grudging agreement, “Go ahead…”


I was born in 1983. It was a Tues–


“I thought you said you were starting a few days ago?” the voice interrupted.

Pete laughed, “Yeah, I’m just fucking with ya, I’ve always wanted to start a story like that.”

The silence on the other end made it clear the voice was not amused.


On Monday, I got up like I always do. Checked my schedule, and I wasn’t due in to the machine shop I work at until around noon, so I went and got myself some breakfast over at the diner. Now, this place is pretty ok, and Opal, the old woman who runs it, will occasionally throw me an extra egg. Good lady.

Anyway, I sat at my usual booth, got my usual egg and cheese on a hard roll, and was just about to bite into it when Lucille slid in at my booth. Lucille is a problem. She’s the type of girl who thinks everyone is her friend because nobody is and that’s all she’s known. I’d feel bad for her if it wasn’t for the fact that she was a wretched human being. I mean, to start, she’s not easy on the eyes. That usually isn’t a deterrent for me, I try to be nice to all god’s creatures, but she had a personality to match.

The problem is, unlike many of my contemporaries, I’d gone out of my way to talk to her once or twice to see if there was something in her nobody else saw. In her head, that meant that we were best friends. Hell, I wouldn’t even have much of a problem with that if it wasn’t for the fact that she couldn’t help but lie about everything at the same time as believe every single ething she read from the local rag newspapers they keep at the end of the checkout line.

I’m sure you don’t write for one of those Weekly World Enquirer type places, but I have to assume you know which ones I mean. The ones that on Tuesday tells you that the President is a vampire, and the following Tuesday tells you he’s been replaced with an alien. Which one is it?! Pick one!

The fact that this girl had the uncanny ability to somehow believe in both stories simultaneously and fill in the gaps with random bullshit she probably just came up with, meant that she was a super special kind of stupid that I had the displeasure of dealing with on a regular basis because I was just too damn nice to tell her to go away.

“Heya Pete. You hear the news?” She asked, sitting down at my booth without so much as an invitation.

“Can’t say that I have. And hello.”

“Rickles is dead.” And at that I choked on the first bite of my sandwich. Rick Lester aka Rickles was one of my good friends. We hadn’t seen each other a lot in recent months because of a falling out due to money he owed me, but I still would count him amongst the people in my life. To hear that he had died made my stomach just drop.

“From what? Please don’t tell me it was drugs.” I asked, because Rickles had been a year clean from some pretty serious shit, and I’d hate to think he lost his footing on the wagon.

Lucille shook her head, “Nope. Nobody knows. They found him behind the counter of Big Bob’s all bloated and gross.”

“Like an allergic reaction to something?” I asked, my bullshit detector already starting to rise..

“No, like tons worse. Bob said he looked like a sausage about ready to burst.”I pushed my sandwich a few inches from me, which made Lucille think that I was offering it and took it and a bite. “Fhanks” she said. Now, forever more, when I think about the day I found out Rickles passed on, it will be a memory linked up to Lucille’s ogre face with egg spittle all over her mouth. Great, right?

I paid for my breakfast, well, really Lucille’s breakfast at that point and the diner was only a few blocks away from the gas station so I headed off in that direction. I’m not one to get all nuts about a spectacle, but Rickles had been a friend. Lucille tagged along. I tried to stop her too. Told her I needed some time alone. Told her that I just wanted to see it with my own eyes. She didn’t get the hint, which is another of those typical Lucille traits.

“You hear about the experiment?” She bummed a smoke off of me and waited for me to ask.

“I obviously have no idea what you are talking about.” I said.

“Binary Chemicals.” She said, as if that answered the whole of the question. Like just knowing who she was talking about, I had gleaned what she was talking about too.

After I realized she had nothing more to add to that little nugget, I sighed and fished for more. “No Lucille, I don’t know about the experiment from Binary Chemicals, would you please oh heaven above, please tell me about it.”

Missing every ounce of sarcasm in my voice she started in, “They’re working on my condition! I’m super excited.”

Now, I’m not going to continue on relaying to you how I had to ask a dozen questions to get every piece of information out of her. The only reason I’m even telling you is because it is highly relevant to my story. Apparently, Lucille seems to believe she has a couple of problems, none of which, by her report, were hypochondria, although I’ve added that to the list. Over the years, she’s told me that she is dyslexic, ambidexterous, autistic, has Paris Syndrome, Disassociated Fugue states, Stendhal, hand and foot dysmorphia, and synesthesia. Now, I know what those all mean, because I’ve looked them up. I promise you, the ones you have to look up, won’t make much sense when all put together. So when she said it was about her condition, it could have been about anything.

Then she told me it was about her being an Indigo.

It was a new one for me, too.

Apparently, Indigos are kids born with this supernatural amount of empathy and they learn in different ways than your average schmuck. They also sometimes have psychic abilities and feel like lost souls, entitled to a better life. The name came from something about their aura being a weird color… look, it sounded like a bunch of horseshit to me too, but, like I said.. Lucille. She just continued babbling on about it as we walked, and it was only when we got to the police tape around Big Bob’s did I start to think she might have been telling the truth. At least about Rickles, the rest was just noise.

There was only one cop hanging around the police tape, but I saw Bob walking out the backdoor of the building. We ran up to him and when he saw us he rolled his eyes. Me and Bob don’t have a bad relationship, I used to get scratchers and smokes from him before the Quick&Go opened a block from my apartment, so I just had to assume his look of disdain was about my unrequested companion. “I can’t talk about it.” He said bluntly, looked over at the cop who wasn’t paying attention to anything but a magazine he likely lifted off the rack in the store, and walked in the exact opposite direction with a cardboard box under his arm.

The way he said it though, was super quick, like he was trying to get out of their quick. Lucille started to talk, but I put my hand up in front of her to shush her quickly. “Bob. I can’t imagine you’re supposed to be going in and out of a crime scene.”

His eyes darted back to the cup and then back at us. “I was told I could.” He was walking and talking quicker now, and as we got to the side of the building where we definitely couldn’t be seen by the police officer, he slowed his pace.

“Don’t fuck with me Bob. What’s in the box?”

Lucille yelled out, ‘What’s in the boooxx’ you know, like from Seven? If anyone else had said it, I might have laughed, but it just sounded stupid from her.

The loud noise startled Bob enough that he damn near almost dropped the box which was one of those lidded types you see in offices. A couple of small scraps of paper went flitting away on the wind, and for a moment it looked like Bob was going to go chase after them, but there were already three pieces fluttering away in different directions. “Fine, fine, fine. I had to get some .. things.. that.. well, to be dead honest I may not have wanted the police to find. All business stuff. All on the up and up.” He added on, “You know how it is..” as if that would somehow make him seem less guilty.

I laughed, “Okay there Bob. You do realize that admitting you are stealing a box out of your store to make sure a bunch of cops don’t see it is like the last thing I’d ever put on a list called ‘Things That Are On The Up And Up’. So quit the bullshit. I don’t care if you’ve been cooking your books or whatever. I just want to know what happened to Rickles. He and I were buds. Lucille said he looked like it was some sort of allergic thing and he looked like a grape ready to burst?”

“A peeled grape,” Added Lucille, uselessly.

Bob looked over our shoulders, likely paranoid that the policeman might decide to do his rounds any minute. “I’m not cooking th–” he stopped himself, and then started again, this time even more frustrated. “She isn’t far off. Bugged out and puffy and almost like he was baked from the inside. God, that’s kind of what he smelled like too.. Like he was shoved into a microwave and stopped before he exploded. It’s disgusting.”

I paused, “Is? He’s still in there?”

Bob nodded, and looked towards the building, “Yeah,” he looked sad or disgusted, maybe guilty, “he’s got to remain until some.. I don’t know.. scientists or something come pick him up. I don’t think the police knew what to do, so they called in the big guns.”

I don’t know why, but I needed to see him. Maybe it’s because the sound of what happened was so weird, or maybe it was because he and I were thick as thieves for a while there. I just don’t know, but it was just so weird that it felt like I gotta get in there to see what’s what. Our town doesn’t have a whole helluva lot of news coming out of it and to be really honest with you, I needed to see if Lucille was just pulling another one before I started talking to the boys down at the shop about it.

“Let us see him.” I asked, “You owe us.”

Bob gave this shriek of a laugh that surprised even himself, “Owe you? What the hell do I owe you anything for?”

“For not making sure the cops don’t get an anonymous tip about the missing paperwork they might be looking for on the case of one Rick Lester.” Lucille caught on pretty quick and gave a nod like she had been in on the scheme the whole time.

Bob’s face went an amazing shade of purple, and he probably wanted to hit me. Hell, I kinda wanted to hit me. It wasn’t a nice thing to do by a long stretch, but now that curiosity was killing me.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have thanked him kindly and got myself to work instead of watching as he unlocked the door and opened it for us, propping it open with a half of a cinderblock. “You go in. You look. You get out and shut the door. I’m not kidding, there are some dangerous people on their way, and I am not going to be here when they show up and recommend you do the same.” He turned away from us, and added as an afterthought over his shoulder, “I’ll be checking the cameras, don’t steal anything neither.”

Just like that, we were in, and Bob was literally running in the other direction. We didn’t ask ourselves how he knew the people coming were dangerous. We were way too excited about seeing our friend plumped up like a sausage. Lucille may be the dumbest person I know, but sometimes I come in a close fucking second.

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[Nano17] Project: Indigo – Post 1

The following is a work of fiction created by James Hatton for NanoWriMo 2017. Copyrighted and owned and all that jazz.

[This place reserved for Table of Contents link]


The Circle Bar was a real shit hole, but for some reason, every Thursday night, Pete Diggs found himself sitting on a bar stool waiting for his turn to sing. He took regular gulps of his beer, checked his Twitter feed, made small talk with some of the barflies, tried to figure out if Maxine the bartender was really hitting on him or just working the counter for tips, and waited until his name came up.

When the DJ, a balding man on the cusp of middle age with the hilarious stage name of Larry O’key finally called him up, he would get the same polite claps he gave everyone else, and for four to six minutes, Pete was a god. Whether he had chosen Open Arms by Journey, Limelight by Rush, Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Poison, or any of another dozen or so songs, Pete felt like had the entire room wrapped around his finger. He would hold the microphone tight between two hands, the same way he had seen Steven Tyler do in the video for Sweet Emotion, and he would lose himself in the white words that slowly turned red on the small television screen in front of him.

After he had finished and got the same polite reaction from the crowd he gave everyone else, he would sit back with his bottle and phone, and wait patiently for his next turn up an hour and a half later.

Tonight though, he hadn’t gone up a single time. Larry O’Key had even walked up to him mid-way through the night and asked if he was going to put himself on the list, and all Pete could tell him was, ‘eh.. maybe.’ It might have been out of some sort of friendly concern, or that weird feeling you get when a pattern doesn’t line up, or it might have been because Pete always dropped a couple dollars into Larry’s tip bucket and it was a quieter than average evening.

The fact was, Pete knew something that the rest of the bar didn’t know. Shit was about to go down and the directions on his phone made it abundantly clear that there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it.

The clock above the bar said 8:45. In an hour and fifteen minutes, the world was going to be woken up to a brand new world, controlled by the collective conscience of whateverthefuck. Pete couldn’t see the red dot pointed at the back of his head, but he knew that right now some blonde haired, blue eyed, swedish swimsuit model with a sniper rifle was watching his every move.

A phone went off under the bar, and Pete watched as Maxine picked up, plugged a finger in her ear while she listened to whomever was on the other side. Gooseflesh rose on his arm as he nonchalantly turned to watch the singer up on stage. Pete had never considered that the cliche of the bartender answering the phone and calling out to one of the customers still occurred, but a second later, Maxine yelled out ‘Mike T? Anyone? Phone call for Mike T.’

“I’m Mike,” a man in red flannel pushed back against his table, blocking the sound of the singer with the screech of metal on tile. The big man walked up and shoved Pete just a bit to the side, not out of rudeness, it was just that Mike T was a very big guy.

On another night, Pete might have been upset enough at how hard he had been jostled to stand up and have a few words with Mike in the hopes to get a free drink out of the guy. Tonight though, he wondered if it was just enough to block the view of the sniper. He couldn’t look to find out though, as he had another plan that was beginning to formulate in his head. While Mike barked at his wife that he would be home when he damn well decided he should be, Pete signaled Maxine.

“Want another one Petey?” She smiled, winking one of her purple painted eyelids at him. For a heartbeat of a moment, Pete tried to figure out if her calling him Petey was just a cute nickname or if she really liked him, but he put it out of his head. One day he would have the balls to ask her out. Not today.

“Don’t need another one yet, but..” he reached into his side pocket, taking out his wallet, and pulled out a $100 bill. Maxine raised a perfectly drawn eyebrow as she saw Ben Franklin being pushed to her side of the bar. “I need you to do me a favor, and if you do it right, you can have this whole thing..” Maxine started to interject, but Pete cut her off as he hoped her sudden movement wasn’t telling the tale of what he was about to do. “But! You have to act like nothing is going on, and do exactly what I tell you. This is like some life or death shit, Maxie, so just look natural, ok?”

Maxine’s raised eyebrow of interest turned into the rolled eyes of doubt. “Ugh, whatever Petey. You’ve had one beer. You are nowhere near drunk enough to be trying to get some weird sex shit from me… and a hundred bucks?”

‘Shit’ Pete thought. ‘She’s blowing it.. We’re both dead..’ But wait. If Maxine was rolling her eyes and laughing at him, that would look a whole lot more natural than if she was conspiratorially hunched in front of him.

“I promise. Nothing weird at all. Like for real, all I need you to do is keep talking to me, and when Mike T. is off the phone, let me use it… but you have to do it exactly the way I say it. No strings at all. Just the phone and you get that hundred minus one more beer.”

A moment of relief came over Pete, even before she said anything. From here, there were only two options. Either he was going to get his story out and possibly save the world, or he just fucked up and the last thing he would see is his forehead blowing out all over Maxine’s low cut tank top.

At first, she just stared at him for a long moment. Long enough that he was getting ready to say something, but she got called away to the other side of the bar. Pete’s new friend Mike was now breathing heavily into the phone and saying something about what he was going to do to the person on the other side of the line when he got home. ‘I bet she’s a dream… or he, I shouldn’t assume.’ Pete took a long pull on his beer, near finishing it off, more to hide his laugh than anything. He turned and watched the singer on stage butchering Piano Man, and life-or-death situation, he was really pissed off he couldn’t get up on that stage right now.

By the time Maxine had circled back to him, Mike T. was putting the phone down and walking.. more swaying really, back to his table. The phone was now on the bar, a foot to Pete’s left. “Ok Maxie, take the phone and go pretend to hang it up, but then hide it under the bar and when you are standing right in front of me, bring it up and slide it face up on the bar so the mic is pointed to me.’

Another one of those extra beat’s of her staring at him, “I’m serious.” was all he could muster. Either she was in or she wasn’t.

It might have been the way he said it, or perhaps the look in his eye, but something signaled the bartender that there was something going on than a barfly playing some game. Maxine didn’t consider herself one of those bartenders you hear about that has a sixth sense about customers. She had seen Pete dozens of times, and he never sat at the same stool and didn’t talk, but more importantly, he never didn’t sing. Tonight though, he sat there, quiet and tense. So either something was really wrong, or he really thought there was, and it was definitely worth making a hundred dollars to see how it played out.

“Anyone I should call?” She asked, taking the phone.

Pete almost leapt up and knocked it out of her hand out of fear that she was going to not follow his instructions. “I mean, do you have the number of a reporter or a news anchor or something?”

Instead of answering, Maxine turned around and went to hang up the phone. “My cousin works for the town Gazette?” She bent down to hang up the phone, but instead kept it in her hand just underneath the bar. “And so whatever’s going on, we clearly can say whatever we want, but someone’s watching us or something?”

Pete sighed and nodded, “Yup.” He looked to either side of him to make sure nobody was paying any attention to what they were saying, but everyone was focussed on Larry, who, like almost every other karaoke DJ that Pete had ever met, could belt out a tune. They say that those who can’t, teach. Well, those who gave up on their band twenty years ago, run local karaoke. So while he tore his heart out singing Blaze of Glory, Pete felt a little more comfortable talking openly to Maxine. “Window behind me, but don’t even think about looking back there. You probably won’t see anything.”

A bit of the color faded from her pink cheeks, “Am I in danger?”

Pete laughed and nodded, “Yup, but if it makes you feel better, pretty much everyone is. It’s just a matter of from which source, you know?”

She had no clue, but she did have an idea. “You can’t get up or nothing, right?”

Pete shook his head, “Nope. Not for another hour or so, which sucks. I didn’t take a piss before I sat down.”

Maxine took a step towards the taps and poured a pint out, putting it in front of Pete at the same time she slid the hundred dollar bill into her apron. “I’m going to go to the bathroom, and when I get back, you’ll know what to do.” And she walked away, phone in hand. Pete sighed, not sure what she was thinking, but feeling at least like he wasn’t entirely alone. He had felt that way since the day before, when the problems began. He took a mouthful of beer and shifted in his seat, annoyed that he had even mentioned the bathroom as his bladder gave a subtle flag that it was nearing the time where he’d have to consider breaking the seal.

The line of thought was cut off by the flimsy door behind the bar opening and Maxine stepping through. His eyes skimmed her body, mostly for the phone. If she had it, it was well hidden. Her jeans weren’t entirely painted on, but there wasn’t a lot of room for a cordless phone. Instead of walking back to him, she did a quick circle of the bar, even filling up a couple shots and taking the money.

And then in one sweet move, she had done it.

Right before she got up to Pete, she pulled a bar rag from beneath the counter and began wiping a spot that seemed completely fine from where he sat. Just as she stepped in front of Pete, her cell phone slipped out and she kept walking. It was lit up, showing a number. ‘I got your call. Just talk.’

Pete blinked.

He had done it… or more realistically, Maxine had, and now it was his turn.

“Who is it?” He asked.

“You wanted a reporter right?” Maxine said, continuing to wipe the bar. Pete wasn’t sure what he had done to get her to buy into this all so quickly and, more to the point, efficiently, but if this worked out, he felt he owed her a whole lot more than a hundred bucks.

Pete put his head on his shoulder, bringing his mouth closer to the phone while still looking like he was just hanging out. “So hey, I’m Pete Diggs. I’m sitting in the Circle Bar, and at 9pm, there’s going to be a gas leak down at Big Bob’s Gas-It-Up which will irrevocably change the human race.”
The phone was about a foot and a half away from Pete’s ear. He was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to hear who was going to be on the other side or that they wouldn’t be able to hear him over the rest of the bar’s goings on. That concern evaporated as he heard a man’s voice as clear as a bell.

“Wait, what the fuck did you just say?”

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Two Days To Go

So my intention was to write a little more than I have. I can’t even blame anything other than that wasn’t where my head was this past weekend, and whereas I’m annoyed for not getting more done before Nano – I am proud I got one thing done, and hey, what is this if not for an excuse to write more.

So the following is a story based on titles I asked for on Facebook last week. I have a couple others saved for further exploration, and with the idea of doing a bunch of short stories instead of a long novel for Nano… maybe you’ll see more of them later.

For now though – here is a short lil thing called ‘The Lost Titles of Sherman’

It’s sad, and the ending doesn’t quite fit the beginning, and if this wasn’t purely an exercise in getting from beginning to end – it would probably end up very different, but I wanted it to have an ending, so I made sure it did.  I didn’t want to leave Sherman hanging like that.

Hopefully I’ll see you once more before NOVEMBER 1st.

Either way, I’ll see you then.

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The Lost Titles of Sherman

Image result for library books


Sherman could walk between the aisles of the Southview County Library for hours. He loved it so much that twenty years ago he started working there and he hadn’t looked back.

It wasn’t any one thing that he loved. He had heard countless librarians talk on and on about the smell of old books and how much they loved to take a random book from a shelf, open it up, and just breathe in its history. Sherman understood what they were talking about, but he didn’t worship that concept as so many others seemed to.

What Sherman saw was a world in the books, that every day his journey would bring him into foreign lands, sometimes immigrating newcomers to make their new home amongst the shelves or taking oldtimers out after their bindings were beyond repair. Both incoming and outgoing had its own little ceremony that Sherman would perform. For someone coming in to the neighborhood, after finding the place the book would sit, he would push it in halfway, so that it sat halfway off the shelf and run his hand over the spine, “Welcome to your new home. Hope you like it.” and with that, he would push it into place.

For the books that were on their way out, he would delicately take them from their place on the shelf, the same way a child might pick a flower. “Time for a new home, my old friend.” He would say quietly, as not to disturb it, placing it gingerly on his cart. He would then bring the book to the box where all the veterans went and were eventually sold at the yearly ‘Dollar A Book’ sale.

These were just two of a litany of rituals Sherman had during his days walking through the aisles. A couple of the other librarians had seen him whisper to a book here and there, and just assumed he talked to himself. He did his best to keep his little world beyond the to himself in front of his coworkers. The only times he was open about his games was when he was walking through the children’s section, and that was because kids seemed to get a kick out of him saying hello to the Berensteins or Beezus & Ramona.

Another of the little things Sherman would look out for was patterns, of which there were a surprising number. Repeating colors in certain sections or on certain rows were like small neighborhoods. A whole lot of black bound books with bright bold white letters hung around in the horror section while every few books in History was a bright red. Before looking at the cover or the title, just simply the color, Sherman would try and guess which neighborhood any newcomer would be moving into.

It was a simple and silly life, but Sherman liked it.

It wasn’t until his last day working for the library that he was faced with the understanding of how much it really meant to him. The retirement wasn’t being thrust upon him, and other than the occasional bad day where he just couldn’t seem to keep his head in his work, he was as sharp as ever. His daughter though had gotten him an apartment at a place called Shepards Fields. He liked the apartment, but hated the name.

The place was for older men and women who could still live without much help, but had all the amenities and then some. Every afternoon there were games and small parties. Every night there was a group dinner you could go to or not, and if you chose to not, they would just bring your dinner to you. Sherman had more than one friend that lived there, and had even been part of the reason that once a week a bus brought the Shepard’s sheep to the library so they could get books or books on tape.

The name though… it made him feel like livestock. Like he was just being lead from one place to another until the time where he was ready to be put down.

Sherman didn’t want to go, but he couldn’t deny that the day after day of walking, even through his favorite neighborhoods, tired him out a lot more now than it ever had before.

On his final day, he made a promise to himself that he would get through every row once so that he could say goodbye to all of his friends. He would introduce the last of the newcomers to town, and then the other librarians would each in turn give him a hug, rub his spine, and say “Time for a new home, old friend.”

By lunch, he hadn’t gotten anywhere near as far as he wanted to. By his vague estimation he should have been all the way through fiction and somewhere in self-help by the time his alarm beeped at noon. He was still somewhere in Fiction at FIC PAO. He wanted to blame the amount of books he had handled, but looking down at his near empty cart, he knew better.

Leaving his cart parked to the side of the neighborhood, he looked up, ‘Okay kids, goin to have myself a bite. You all keep it down, ok?” and smiled at the perfect and expected silence all of the neighborhood returned back with.

Something was wrong though. There was an empty shelf.

The Southview County library didn’t have empty shelves in the middle of aisles. They would always keep room at the bottom, or at worst, in the first and last bookcase, but never in the middle, and never at eye level. It threw Sherman off in a way that almost gave him vertigo.  ‘Did someone take all of these?’ he wondered. It was possible, he guessed, but in his years in the stacks he had never seen anything like it.

With lunch near forgotten, he looked at the last book before the gap, FIC PAQ, and then after the gap, FIC PAR.

Writing the titles of both books down on the little pad he kept at his cart, he walked over to one of the computers that was positioned at the end of every other aisle.

A quick search told him that there weren’t any books that were supposed to go in between, which lead him to the idea that perhaps someone had started condensing the shelves and disappeared.  It was that sort of laziness that had really bothered him about a lot of his coworkers. Not all of them, but a few were quite content to only do half the job, and leave it to the competant ones to make it right.

Sherman sighed. If he didn’t fix the gap, it would bother him all day and perhaps the next. If he did fix it, than he would be lucky to finsh all of fiction before he left.

“You’ll be back next week to say good-bye…” He tried to use that to console himself, but it didn’t really do the job.

“Sherman, you have spent the last twenty years making every aisle perfect. It’s your last day and there is no reason you should stop until you have to go.”

His pep talk had worked. His other friends would have to wait.

With a bit more spring in his step, feeling like he had a mission to accomplish that, for whatever reason, felt more important on his last day than it might have ever before, he headed to the empty aisle.

To fill in this empty shelf, he would have to bring every book from the shelf below it up, and then the shelf below that, and below that. He worried about the books on the very bottom, but he would cross that bridge when he came to it. He disliked having to sit on the floor, as it always took him a little too long to get back up, but by then he would probably have gotten a chair to work in the middle of the aisle. (A little thing they let him do that nobody else could).

“Ok boys, I don’t know why you aren’t home, but its time to move you guys back to where you are supposed to be.”

Sherman took books in groups of two or three and started repopulating the shelf, and after five minutes, everything on that shelf was where it was supposed to be. He pulled out his hankie and wiped the slight sweat off his brow and nodded. “There you go, don’t know how you got where you were, but isn’t it nice to be back home?”

He looked down at his watch and the grumble of his stomach told him that he had completely forgotten lunch and he should probably handle that. He walked to the end of the aisle, ready to head off to the small kitchen nook. “Now, you all settle in, I’ll be back in…”

When Sherman looked over his shoulder to tell his friends he would be right back, the entire shelf was empty again.

“…boys?” he asked, with a serious note of concern in his voice.

At first, Sherman thought perhaps he had just miscounted and he was looking at the shelf below the one he fixed, but it simply wasn’t the case.  The last book before the gap was FIC PAQ yet again.  

“Oh, Sherman… maybe it is good that this is your last day.” He was half kidding, but another part of him worried just a little that maybe this had happened before. Hell, the empty gap in the shelf might be his fault, and it was his old-man-dimensia that stopped him from realizing it.

Another grumble from his stomach insisted that he go take a break, but this time he outright ignored it. Five more minutes wouldn’t be the end of him, and he wouldn’t feel so weird about what he was leaving behind, so again he started in twos and threes putting the books back on the shelf and just as before, five minutes later, it was done.. again.

“Now,” He grinned at the full shelf of books, “you all stay precisely where you were told to.” He had no clue what weird situation lead him to have to fill the same shelf twice, but it was done now.

Again he got to the end of the aisle, and again he looked over his shoulder to say good-bye to the books he had just moved.

And again his work had been undone.

He blinked, staring at the empty row that he had now filled twice. Looking at the books he had just moved, he could see little groups of books he had grabbed both times. He knew where he had put them. He knew which books he had taken singularly because they were either too big, or too small to be taken with a partner. He knew these things, yet all of his work had been undone in seconds.

“..Boys?” Again, he asked instead of spoke. The question at the end now was a lot more concerned than it had been before. It could almost be qualilfied as fear. ‘…There a reason you don’t all want to go home?”

“..we are home.”

Sherman jumped back, and almost fell to the ground, but ended up with his back pressed against the other side of the aisle. “..but..”

“..we’ve made a home for you too..”

Sherman licked his lips, which were all of a sudden quite dry, and took a step towards the empty row, and the voice.

“Miss Marro?  Miss Henrikson?” Sherman asked the aisle, even though the voice was very distinctly male. Still, the idea that this was some sort of last day prank had come to him, even though it would have been the strangest sort of thing he had ever seen the librarians do to someone on their way out.

“..Sherman, you have cared for us more than any others..”

He peered around the end of the row, but nobody was within earshot of where he stood. The closest was a woman poking through the newspapers.

“..we know you are going, and we wished to offer you this..”

The hunger that lay dormant in Sherman’s stomach had filled by a sphere of ice that was starting to radiate fear.

“ have so many stories and years.. so many adventures, and with us there would be so many more..”

Realizing he was gripping the shelf behind him, he loosened up his fingers and rubbed the ache from his hand. “W-w-why me?” He asked.

“ are as much a part of this place as we are..”

He did feel like that, and even now before he had even left this place, he was looking forward to the idea of coming back after he had settled into the Shepards Field. “What if I say no?”

“..then you say no, and you go..”

Sherman’s fears that this was the onset of one of those horrible diseases people his age began to get was begining to create as much of that fear in his stomach as the fact that the shelves of the library were talking to him. He had watched too many people he cared about lose their mind and common sense, and if this was the first clue it was happening to him, he would have to make some important decisions very quickly.


Sherman laughed a little too loudly. “So? So I’m left with the fact that I’ve gone completely bonkers, or I’ve been working in a library with a soul for the last two decades. So, Mister Library, where I may not be a good Christian man, I do have faith in my own way. A talking library seems to be a bit counter to that, wouldn’t you think?”

‘..not at all..”

“And now why is that?”

Beyond the shelves, the whole of the library felt like the air shifted, and if he didn’t know better, Sherman would have thought it had sighed.

‘..because one day, a few years ago, a little girl was crying in a children’s book aisle, and you came across her. you asked her why she was crying, and she said that she had just found out that her parents were getting a divorce. You spoke with her for quite a long time, even knowing that there was likely someone wandering around looking for her, perhaps even fearful of what had happened to her. You listened. You responded. And when she asked how you knew what you knew about everything she had asked, you told her that you had read and read and being here in the library you had absorbed these books into yourself. You weren’t just a man, you were part library… and you were right.  And you weren’t the only one.. We are the sum of our readers, and every book read and every moment spent is one that has filled us with life… and now, we wish to ask you to join us completely and share in our joy..’

Sherman felt tears well up in his eyes. The idea was so perfectly fantastic and idealistic, but he had so many other things in his life to consider.  What about his daughter? What about his friends? He didn’t want to hurt them or for them to live in fear of what had happened to him.

He thought back to his years. The money he had spent on her college. His wife, long since gone, and how they spent so many days sitting arm in arm, reading together. It was half of the reason he had taken his job at the library. To be close to that memory above them all.

Lindsy sat in the main reading library. It was her last stop before heading home. After a month of looking for her father, she had finally decided it was time to get back to her life, but not before sitting in the place she had shared a lunch with him so many times and reflecting. She promised she would come back on his birthday, and maybe her parents’ anniversary, but for the most part she needed to stop wondering what happened and accepted he was gone.

The sounds, however slight, that surrounded the library seemed to fade while she sat just taking in the place the way her father had for so long. Sitting here, she felt like he was there with her.


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[NANO 2017] Are we doing this again?

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Here we are again.

Last year, I started on this fantasy story I’ve had in my head for a while and life happens and things get messy and writing goes out the window.

Yet here we are, on the cusp of November, and I get it in my head to consider doing another one of these. Rather.. trying one of these.

I have ideas. Stories that have sat in my head. Snippits of characters who have grown. Hell, I’m about 1/3rd of the way through my 2nd novel and here I am thinking about writing an altogether new one – but that’s kind of the point – in the last couple months, my life has (yet again) gone through some pretty fantastic upheavals and the first few days of November marks a pretty important day. (Work related, nothing too crazy)

So why not celebrate stress beginning to come off my shoulders by adding a creative obligation. I have the podcast, but it has been a bit since I’ve had a personal obligation to get something done like this. (ignoring last year, since I failed at it)

So I guess my hat is in the ring again.

As I did last year, I’m going to write it here so people can see my journey.  I will likely edit things in posts, as I need to. (I know you are supposed to go always forward, but I find there are definite exceptions to that as your story builds) And I hope you come along for my journey, positive or negative – success or failure – win or loss.

So now it’s time to get my body ready for another 50,000 words or more.


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[Writing Prompt] The Finishing Line

Have you ever trained for or ran a marathon? Describe it. If you haven’t, would you? Which marathon event interests you?

Image result for cross the finish line

Before I spin a yarn, I’ll answer this legitimately. No. I’ve never run a marathon. No, I probably never will. Running is outside and outside is a hellscape of heat and dirt. Outside is a scary place where everyone else is and the air has temperatures I didn’t set and I have to wear clothes.   Lastly, what marathon interests me? ‘The Long Walk’ by Stephen King/Richard Bachman – but I would never entertain doing it. I would just be interested in it.


Lee ran. He ran like he had never run before. He had been told it was about the journey and not the destination, but he thought that was horseshit.  He had met tons of people that talk about the scenery of any given run and how a certain path smells. Lee couldn’t tell you about any of that. He could tell you in great detail how any race felt on his feet, about the inclines and divets in the roads, and how it felt to cross the finish line.

The obsession with Lee was the the finish line and there was nothing else. More than once a runner would come up to him and introduce themselves, commenting how they had seen him at the one event a month ago, or multiple races over the last year, and Lee would have no clue who they were.  It just wasn’t the sort of thing he paid attention to. Those people aren’t his friends. They didn’t lend him money. They didn’t take care of his cat when he went on trips. They were obstacles between him and the end. If he doesn’t overcome all of them, he has lost.

Lee wasn’t the only person out there that was solely focused on their own performance and standing, but for obvious reasons he didn’t know who the other ones were.

The only ones Lee was aware of were the ones that beat Lee. Those were the ones that he learned their names and quite a bit more.

The idea came to him after one of the closest defeats Lee had ever experienced. The term ‘by a nose’ was thrown around and ‘by a stride’. As the ribbon tore against his opponent’s chest, Lee noted their number and left the area where the race bureaucracy gathered for the victory photos, interviews, and all that other useless garbage. He simply took a bottle of water, walked to his car, and drove away. He didn’t need to see the standings or receive his ribbon. Lee didn’t allow himself second place trophies.  Even agreeing to accept a single one would begin his decline into complacency.

Hours later, Lee sat in front of his computer and began researching the winner of the afternoon. It wasn’t too hard. Their social media profiles were public and apparent. There were pictures of the day’s race with the winner cresting the finish line and Lee’s look of intensity as he was simply a step behind. People congratulated their friend and some even commented how amazing of a competitor Lee was, but that didn’t matter. He wasn’t doing this for their approval.

A week later, the winner of that race was found in his car, having missed a sharp turn by the slimmest of margins.

With another race on the horizon, Lee decided to do preemptive research. There were three people (and Lee, of course) that were touted as the probable victor. Two of them Lee had beaten in previous races, but the third was a gentleman that had recently had a string of victories that made him seem like he would be quite the competitor.

Two days before the race, the man slept as his house burned down. It was ruled a faulty gas line.

As Lee stood on the dais accepting his gold medal, he did the only thing he thought was right, and dedicated his victory to his fallen competition. Such a tragedy to his family and to the sport.

You would be surprised how long it takes the police to recognize that there is a pattern of popular runners dying. Races are in different towns, different counties, and different states. When, after months of gold ribbons had finally caught up to Lee, he did precisely what he knew how to do best.  He ran, and this would be his longest and hardest race yet.

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[Shit-Flix] Man Vs.

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It was inevitable I guess… two things:

1) I would want to do a movie review on here
2) Someone would make a movie like Man vs.

We start with Doug Woods. A man who goes around the world and is dropped off in foreign places with a couple of handicams. His mission is to survive a few nights, give people some fun facts about how to survive if you are a stranded tourist, and take up 45 minutes of reality TV. Did I mention his name is Doug Woods.. they never address if it is his real name, but I’ve heard about too many weathermen named ‘Stormy’ to think it isn’t a put on.

Things are going normally for our pal Doug. He’s roughing it. Starting fires with a soda can. Hunting wabbits. Every once in a while though, the video goes all wonky on us. Like digital interference. In the first 30 minutes, when all the freaky starts in, I won’t deny, I started really paying attention to the backs of the scenes in case there was a Slenderman appearance. It was that exact same sort of digital effect and peak volume overload noise.

That’s not what we got.. ah-hem.

Two days go by and Doug, who conveniently can spout exposition at us unendingly, talks into one camera as if we are the audience and the other as if we are the producers and tv mucmamucks that are living it up a few miles away. Having seen a reasonable amount of these types of survival shows, I can’t help but feel that this movie took a real obvious and cynical position on how the host deals with these things. The longer Doug’s torment goes, the more and more he has disdain for both the audience and the woods themselves. Now, I could suggest that this is him fraying at the seams as the entirety of the situation goes from bad to fuckball crazy, but the movie isn’t that deep.

What the movie does well though, is build the tension. It builds the ‘what’ is after Doug. What killed the fish? What set off his food traps? Then eventually Doug gets to thinking it is a ‘who’ as in ‘Who stole his SAT phone’ and ‘Who played the next move in his chess game?’ (more on that shortly) …and when we get to the final reveal and then the reveal’s reveal – well – the movie doesn’t fall apart as much as you just sort of go, ‘Oooh…’ and you don’t get to do much more, because the movie’s over.

Here come the spoilers:

Last warning.

Doug is being hunted by an alien. An alien that makes a subtle clicking noise that goes invisible. An alien with infrared vision that has a hairstyle straight out of a b-list reggae concert. That’s right. A Schmedator, the evil cousin of those other guys that we’re not allowed to mention due to the fact that this movie was made by some Syfy style company in Canada. The one thing the Schmedator has that their cousins don’t is a sonic scream ability which is used twice in the movie, and then in the 3rd time… Doug just ropadopes out of it… No radiant pain – if you are within the wavy line cone, you are fucked. JUSST outside of it, and you have saved your own life, sir.

A couple things about Schmeddy, as I’ve come to know and love him. Remember how I said that Doug thought it was a ‘who’ because of his chess game. That wasn’t a silly comment. Doug plays chess with himself while out in the woods. He comes back to camp at some point and the next move has been made, and from what we are told by Shitty-Bear Gryllz, it was a good move. We are given enough to recognize that Schmooshy just landed here… it does seem a little far-fetched that even if he has been watching our planet, he knows chess well enough to make a move so good that the man playing himself wouldn’t have noticed it.

But Jamie, it is just a ham-handed metaphor for how the creature is one step ahead at all times…

I know. That doesn’t make it better.

In the end, there is a final fight between faux-Cody Lundin and Schmuckleberry that was filmed in a cave at midnight. I turned the brightness on my phone all the way up and all I could figure out was that they were fighting in or near water – which at least means these pansies don’t have that fatal SIGNS flaw.

In the end – is it a bad movie. No. It’s not good either, but it was good background noise where if you ignore it for 5 minutes, you miss nothing.

One last thing – Doug Woods is played by Chris Diamantopoulos, aka Russ from Silicon Valley – which makes it hard to not, at least once, throughout the film say… ‘this guy hunts.’

Final Rating: B

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