Tag: blogfests

I’m awake!  No seriously, I am! πŸ˜€

Happy New Year, ya’all!  Hope it was a good one, and can you believe it’s 2012 already?

So, to get going early this year, I signed up for the Frankie Diane Mallis’ 3rd Annual No-Kiss Blogfest!  Get all the details at the link.

This kind of scene is somewhat outside my comfort zone, but I thought I’d give it a try anyway.  Also, I took a swing at structuring the story a little differently than the usual guy/girl match up.  I’ve no idea if I pulled it off, but it sure was fun to put together!

So here it is!  Enjoy!  And don’t forget to go read everyone else’s entries also!

***** 

Sarah
(c) 2012 Jon Paul

     Sarah left her bags at the front door and walked toward me, crossing from the morning-brightened living room into the kitchen, her easy disarming smile dancing in the honeyed light. As she approached I remember thinking only one thing: she was still my little girl.
     She intended to give me a hug and a kiss on the cheek, an understood ritual, the last act of affection a daughter shows her father on the day she leaves for college. The scene was a clichΓ© of course, acted out in a hundred corny movies, but the prospect of facing my daughter in that moment had played and replayed in my mind for weeks. How would it feel, I wondered, when it came time to say goodbye?
     I set my coffee cup on the counter and returned her grin.  Doubt flickered through her steady gaze, or surprise perhaps. Sarah was not the kind of person to find herself at a loss for words. Her blue eyes swept the kitchen, as if the familiarity of the table and chairs, pots and pans and dishes peering from the shelves, might offer her a clue what to say.
     “The big day is finally here,” I said. “You all packed, ready to go?”
     “Yeah.” She blinked twice, as if a spell had been broken, then poured herself a cup of coffee. Cream. Two sugars.
     “When’s Heather get here?” I asked.  Sarah’s best friend Heather Nance had been accepted to the same school.
     Sarah looked at her watch. “In about twenty minutes.”
     “Ok. Don’t forget what we talked about.”
     Sarah chuckled and raised one eyebrow.
     “Be careful when you get to Austin or you’ll hit morning rush hour dead on. I-35 will be like a parking lot by then if–“
     “Dad?”
     “Yeah?”
     “I got it.”
     I fell silent, my overprotective words suddenly ringing in my ears. I couldn’t help but smile. It was a hard habit to break. Too many skinned knees. Too many tears over broken dolls and schoolyard crushes.
     “Dad, listen,” she began, standing close. “It’s…I-I’ll be home weekends and holidays, you know…”
     I nodded. When I met her gaze, she was reading my mind, sensing my uncertainty.
     “Sarah?” Her mom’s voice filtered down from upstairs. “I found that sweater you asked about. And a couple other things you might want to take.”
     “Be right back,” Sarah said.
     “Ok.”
     When she was gone, I sipped my lukewarm coffee, feeling too lazy to warm it from the pot. Upstairs the girls negotiating over what clothes might still fit in Sarah’s bags. The plan was for Sarah’s mother Nell and I to drive up in a couple of weekends with her furniture, once she knew how much space was available in her dorm room. The semi-furnished rooms pictured in the college brochure looked smallish so Sarah, sensible as ever, decided to pack light and make due until we arrived with the rest of her stuff. We’d suggested driving her to college ourselves, but she’d already agreed to travel with Heather. Two weeks would no doubt feel like an eternity.
     I placed my empty coffee cup in the sink, ran hot water into it and put it in the dishwasher. I caught a glimpse of my face reflected in the window. How tired I looked. I’d stayed up late looking through old photo albums, having a few too many beers.
     Eighteen years had come and gone in the blink of an eye. People always said kids grew up fast, but life is full of platitudes that barely resemble reality, so I suppose I never really believed it. I couldn’t escape the feeling that the last few years had blurred by in seconds.
     Dustin, Sarah’s brother, bounded down the stairs and came into the kitchen. His bedhead hair stood out in wild angles, and he gave me a wry smirk. “She still here?”
     “Yep.”
     “Bummer.”
     Dustin pulled a carton of orange juice from the fridge, pouring the golden liquid into a glass. Naturally, his sister’s departure didn’t seem to bother him. Sarah had vacated the larger of their two bedrooms, so he’d immediately staked a claim to it, no doubt contributing to his eagerness to see her leave.
     I left Dustin in the kitchen and went to my office. I wanted to get in a little work before a planned trip to the grocery store with Nell later. I flipped the power switch on my laptop and listened as it booted up, feeling a thousand miles away, my mind adrift. I clicked open a report from Jim Lackey, one the insurance agents in my office. He had a couple questions about my methodology for settling a recent claim for one of his customers. I tried to work my way through his notes, but I couldn’t concentrate. I kept catching myself, eyes on the wall, listening to a peculiar silence settle over the house. Soon, Heather pulled up outside. Dustin answered the door when the doorbell rang and yelled upstairs. Sarah and her Mom came down, still chatting over wardrobe choices.
     “Dad, come on! I’m leaving,” Sarah yelled out.
     “Be right there.”
     I closed the laptop, sat still for a minute. On my desk, my gaze fell on a framed photo of four-year old Sarah, dressed as a genie, her pre-school Halloween costume one year. The same smile. The same twinkle in her eye. ‘I love you, Daddy’ scrawled in crayon along the edge of one corner. It felt like the picture had been taken only yesterday.
     When I came down the driveway, Dustin was putting Sarah’s bags in the trunk of Heather’s car–a rare act of chivalry. Nell hovered nearby, arms crossed in her cardigan, a strained smile painted on her face.
     “Morning, Mr. Howard,” Heather said as I approached.
     “Morning, Heather,” I said, sounding more chipper than I felt. “You have everything, Sarah?”
     Sarah ran her eyes quickly over the bags in the trunk. “Wait. My camera bag.” She started up the driveway toward the house.
     “I’ll get it,” I said.
     “It’s on the side table in the living room,” she said as I disappeared through the door. I found the small black bag, right where she said it was, and brought it back outside.
     As I came back down the driveway, Sarah waited patiently near the open trunk. It was clear the others had already said their goodbyes. Dustin and Nell stood off to one side as Heather climbed into the driver’s seat of her car. I handed Sarah her camera bag, but she refused to look me in the eye.
     The sun, fully up, bathed the street and houses in a brilliant, sundering light. I keenly felt everyone’s eyes on Sarah and I. Gone was the intimacy of our time that morning in the kitchen, evaporated like steam dissolving in the warming air.
     I searched Sarah’s face, seeing a new maturity there. Or had it been there all along? At that moment, I really wasn’t sure of anything and I shook my head, trying to get my eyes to focus. It made no sense, but someone had taken away my daughter and replaced her with a beautiful, mysterious young woman who looked at me now with a kind of sadness. There was a new remoteness, an invisible barrier, an expansive wall constructed from the bricks of a missed opportunity.
     Did she sense it too, this strange shift in reality? Was it some defensive mechanism on her part, to put some distance between us, to make leaving less painful?  Or perhaps she was nervous in front of her friend.  Whatever it was, she seemed suddenly like a stranger to me, grown up, responsible, sophisticated in a way I couldn’t fathom. I searched her eyes for a sign, for some indicator that this was all a mistake, a misunderstanding. She returned my gaze tenderly, with great composure, and that’s when I knew something had changed.
     “Goodbye, Dad,” she said quietly. “See you in a couple weeks.” She didn’t hug me, or give me a kiss on the cheek. Instead, with forlorn grace, she turned and climbed into the passenger seat of the car, a bizarre frown turning down the corners of her mouth.
     When they had driven away, Nell came to me, took me by the arm. Dustin had already disappeared inside.
     “You Ok?” Nell said. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
     I nodded, but couldn’t speak. I could only smile weakly, a spiritless emptiness gnawing my insides. We embraced, my wife warm in my arms, then walked up the driveway, alone, and disappeared inside.

~fin~

Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to stay groovy! πŸ˜€

Hiya folks!

This is my post for the Casting Call Character Bloghop!  The point of this bloghop is to share images and other media about the characters and settings in my NaNo project.

As you may have gathered, my story for NaNo this year is one I’ve been thinking about for several years now, since my return from a year in Baghdad in February 2010, but this is the first time I have collected images to try to solidify the pictures I’ve been carrying around in my head all this time.

To orient you to my story, I offer my logline:

When a shy and diffident U.S. Army soldier fighting in Iraq guns down a local shopkeeper and suffers a loss of confidence, a fellow soldier with the innate ability to pacify the aggression of others aids him as he strives to defy his intolerant squad leader, bring the fight to the enemy, and restore his own sense of self worth.

Next, a few shots to give a sense of the setting.

The story takes place in a fictional district of Baghdad in 2005, when the fighting against the insurgents was at its worst.

We’ve seen a hundred and one war movies–many recent ones about the Iraq war in fact–so the challenge as a fiction writer will be making my descriptions as vivid as the explosive realism of current films, while also capitalizing on the advantages of fiction: better visibility of characters’ internal conflicts.

Now let’s talk characters.  My MC is PFC Jared Christianson.

Caucasian, Scandinavian descent. 24. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Built like a marathoner.

He’s a bookworm, and very intelligent. His heart is in the right place, and he tries to do the right thing when the circumstances call for it. He doesn’t always succeed. Considered a nerd and minor player by the rest of the squad.

The ‘fellow soldier’ of my logline, the one with ‘the innate ability to pacify the aggression of others’, is named PFC Michael Sedo.

PFC Sedo is from Utah. Caucasian, vaguely Nordic. 26. Almost like an albino in appearance, with piercing gray eyes. Narrow waist, broad shoulders, trim but muscular.  He’s very quiet–almost never speaks, except to those he trusts–but supremely calm and confident. He remains so unruffled in difficult situations that it’s downright scary.  His influence over the people around him is a major catalyst to the action of the story.

Finally, we have the antagonist, Staff Sergeant Richard ‘Gut Punch’ Brody.

He’s an Army careerist who’s been around the block a few times. His outlook, which once was “We have a hard job to do. Ain’t no use in bitching about it.” has morphed over the years into “You’re either with me or against me.” He believes sincerely that dissent within the ranks endangers the unit’s ability to execute the mission.

He demands unconditional loyalty and respect, and cuts anyone who does not give it to him down to size.  He rules the squad with an iron fist.

So I’m pretty excited about this story, so excited that I spent some time putting some cover/splash art together.  I thought I’d share it with you:

Did that in MS Powerpoint, yes I did.  All those hours doing slides at work isn’t a complete waste after all!  πŸ˜€  And that tag line is MINE!  Came up with it myself.  You take your hands off!  πŸ˜‰

So that’s my line up.  I have plans to spend the weekend tuning up my treatment/outline and will be an ‘up round’–ready to charge to 50k+ words–on Tuesday Morning.

How go preps for NaNo?  Are you ready to go?  

For the non-NaNoers among you, do you select pictures for your WIP characters? What else do you do to get your characters clear in your mind?

Have a totally groovy weekend, and thanks for stopping by!

Before we get started today, some shameless self-promotion!  If you haven’t yet, please consider stopping by and checking out the NaNoWriMoVideo Songfest, hosted by yours truly throughout the month of November.  You don’t have to be doing NaNo this year to participate!  So swing by and see what you think!  πŸ˜€

*****

We can’t always what we want.  What I wanted for this blogfest was a great finale post under 600 words–but I didn’t get it!  πŸ˜€

What I did get–on this post and the others–was an enlightening experience trying my hand at a shorter story.  There are various definitions out there about what length story is considered flash fiction, and I’d say a 2,000 word story is right on the outer reaches of that category.  But 2k words is much shorter than just about any of my other projects.

So for me, this was a departure from my writing norm, an excuse to stretch myself and see what I was capable of.  During this blogfest, the challenge of cutting the fat, paring things down to a pure distillate, of still conveying the point without the luxury of endless blank pages taught me volumes.  Even though I vastly exceeded the wordcount for this installment (~1200 words), which likely puts me out of consideration–if I was ever a serious contender–for any prizes, this Blogfest has been a true blast and helped me continue to grow as a writer. 

And I’ll say it again: if you haven’t made it around to see what the other participating writers have cooking, you are truly missing out.  (I have some getting around to do myself!  :D)  Some great work has been done by great writers, and I’m happy and honored to be a part of this effort.
 
So I want to take a moment and give massive unadulterated thanks to the #REN3 Blogfest sponsors: Damyanti, JC, Lisa and Stuart for setting up this totally fun event and keeping it going throughout the month.   It was truly a blast!

*****

The Leopard’s Spots
by Jon Paul
(c) 2011

Wordcount: mumble mumble πŸ˜€
Prompt: Relationships are torn asunder.
Link to Part One (Magnus McGrool, 596 words)
Link to Part Two (Theodora Ravelstein, 597 words)
Link to Part Three (Calvin Rumpus, 600 words)

Part Four:

     CALVIN ARRIVED EARLY. On his desk he found a 5×7 photo of himself, distant and serious on the rock at the Heriot Pass trailhead, the words “Stay cool!” inscribed on the back in Theodora’s expressive hand. He was still grinning when Magnus arrived ten minutes later.

*****

     The next hour passed in a blur. Readying the Conference Room. Copying and organizing various forms. Magnus grimacing and cussing. Briefing security personnel who would be posted nearby, in case of trouble.  Calvin tried to stay focused, but a strange anxiousness made him feel out of place in his own skin.
     “You’re running the show,” Magnus had told him. “Time to step up and show what you’re made of.”
    Calvin took the news in stride, nodding in what he imagined to be a professional way. Magnus even hinted that a good performance over the next several days might earn him a shot at becoming HR Director permanently. Calvin watched his boss carefully. Did Magnus really think he had it in him? If so, then the vote of confidence felt like a real affirmation, and a wave of pride surged through him.
     At 9:00 a.m. Gladdis ushered in the first employee: an older man wearing a wrinkled avocado-colored suit. The three of them–Calvin, Magnus and some flunky from Legal–sat behind a long mahogany table.
     Calvin cleared his throat and gestured for the man to take his seat. In a quiet voice, he began to explain that the man’s services were no longer required at Barchadelli Marketing, Inc. The surprise in the old man’s eyes turned first to dismay, then decayed gradually to a bitter, tight-lipped bemusement. Calvin continued on, ignoring the ticks gnawing the insides of his stomach. This is just business, he reminded himself. Magnus looked on as well, his face a mask of blank acquiescence.
     One by one, two more employees were brought in. A woman whose left eye twitched when she was nervous. A long-limbed man with acne. Calvin went through the motions, explained their rights, conveyed the company’s regret.
     Throughout it all Magnus looked on, as cold and emotionless as a machine. How does he do it? Calvin wondered. He never betrays his emotions. Calvin had to admit it: despite Magnus’ bad reputation, he had earned Calvin’s respect in the time they’d worked together for just this kind of detached professionalism.
     Feeling a flutter of edginess as the man with acne was shown from the room, Calvin girded himself and tried to follow Magnus’ example. Being professional is a skill, Calvin reminded himself. One I can master.
     The next employee entered the room. Calvin was scribbling on a legal pad when Magnus nudged him gently and knocked him from his reverie.
     In the interview chair, Theodora sat eyeing him in profound disbelief. His mouth fell open. When he looked toward Magnus, he expected to find a cruel smile there, expected Magnus to admit to the joke. Instead Magnus’ hawk eyes articulated absolute tranquility.
     He tried to compose himself. “This is business,” Calvin mumbled, but when he began to speak out loud, he was sure his voice would falter. Theodora sat cross-legged in her chair, her face a manifestation of open defiance.
     He couldn’t look her in the eye, so he continued to scribble on his legal pad instead, going through the motions. The economy had suffered, he explained, and Barchadelli’s revenue had fallen as a result. Management’s decision to reduce the workforce was unfortunate, but it had to be done, for the survival of the company.
     “Calvin?” Theodora intoned. In the emptiness of the room her voice rang like a bell and cut through his thin words, stopping him in his tracks.
     Magnus looked over, surprised at her familiar manner. Sensing his boss’s concern, Calvin chose his words carefully. “Mrs. Ravelstein, let me urge you–“
     “No,” she said, the corners of her mouth curling into a vicious grimace. “I’m not going to play along. I’m not going to go quietly.”
     “I can see you’re very upset, Mrs. Ravelstein. I’m very sorry–“
     Theodora clamored to her feet, pointing at him. She spit words at him like daggers. “This is just what we talked about. Can’t you see? It’s flat out wrong, and you should know it!”
     Strangely, amid the chaos, Calvin caught himself noticing the graceful curve of Theodora’s jawline, the elegant slant of her nose, the way the corner of her mouth always seemed on the verge of an animated smile, even when she was angry. She was beautiful, Calvin realized. Why hadn’t he noticed this before?
     He shook his head, tried to dispel these thoughts, yet her kindnesses kept coming back to him: her compliments on his photography, their conversation over the weekend, the photo she’d put on his desk that morning. She’d warned him he was being set up. She’d said he was too nice for his own good. She’d said a lot of things, but why?
     Theodora railed at him, shook her fist, called them every name in the book. One of the security people appeared at the door. Magnus was smiling now, enjoying the show. Calvin caught his grin out of the corner of his eye and wondered again if this was all some sort of joke, wondered if Theodora had been right about Magnus’ intentions all along.
     It came clear to him in that moment that he had a choice. In his mind’s eye, Calvin saw himself standing up from the table, straightening his suit, walking toward the conference room door. He’d tell the security guy to take his hands off Theodora, offer her a winning smile. When Magnus asked him what the hell he was doing, Calvin would say it to his face, without equivocation: “I quit.”
     News of his revolt would spread through the Barchadelli offices like wildfire. Walking through the hallways toward the exit with Theodora at his shoulder, he’d call out “Who’s with me?” over and over again. Mobs of employees would materialize from cubicles, given permission to quit, freed suddenly of the yoke of responsibility, happy to be a part of something profound and brave and real at last. He’d lead the mob out the front doors of Barchadelli, leaving Magnus and the other Directors behind to pick up the pieces.
     “Calvin?” Her voice broke the spell.
     Two Renaissance PD officers had appeared from somewhere and they were hand-cuffing Theodora. He had said some things, he realized, but he didn’t know what. The storm of Theodora’s anger had broken, and she stared at the carpet, looking as if she might cry. One of the security people was holding a handkerchief to his cheek, a smudged rose of blood soaking the white fabric where she had scratched him. The guy from legal was nowhere to be found.
     His eyes locked on hers. Her confusion about him had given way to an unwavering clarity. When she spoke again, all generosity had fled from her voice. “Things didn’t have to happen like this. You know that, right?”
     He looked away, scrutinizing a picture on the far wall. As it turned out, it was a photo taken long ago of the Roundeli Mountains. It was funny what people said about them: you could never really tell if they were real or an illusion.
     “It’s business,” Calvin said at last, his eyes on the photo. “Nothing more.”
     After they took Theodora away, Magnus patted him on the back and spoke at him–some chatter about the interviews that afternoon and the fine job he’d done and how he’d known Calvin had it in him all along–but the words sounded garbled, muffled, like whalesong. Then Magnus was asking him something else. What was it? Lunch? Executive Boardroom? CEO?
     Calvin told him to go on; he’d follow in a minute.
     When finally he was alone in the room, the silence hung in his ears like the persistent ring of artillery fire. He looked at the photo on the wall again, ran his eyes along the snow-crowned summits, the rocky saddles between outcroppings, the overhanging cornices frozen still like thousands of white horses.
     From his pocket, he withdrew the photo Theodora had given him that morning. I should have realized all along, he mumbled to himself as he tore the photo into neat 1-inch squares and let them flutter to the floor. The peace he had felt that morning, the strange sense of happiness and contentment he had found in those spare moments before the day started now seemed like a distant dream, a vacant event, a carelessly scrawled fragment of another person’s life.

~fin~

Thanks for stopping by!  πŸ˜€

When it comes to irons in the proverbial fire, I have a few.  Of course, we are now eleven days from the kick off of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNo as the Pros from Dover call it.

I, like half the fiction writers in the World, have spent countless recent hours preparing, making sure I’m ready to get my game face on, trying to remember where I packed my game face, wondering if it still fits, rifling through numerous boxes in the crawlspace upstairs that is our attic looking for the game face, executing repairs on said game face–made necessary after the time during last year’s NaNo when I chucked the game face across the room in a fit of reprehensible, unadulterated frustration.

I haven’t found it yet, but I will.  πŸ˜€

And I’m working on a post with all the details for how I’m playing NaNo this year–but if you’re impatient, you can click on my sidebar and check out my profile.  If you’re looking for a NaNo writing buddy, let me know.  The more the merrier is my motto.  Also, Sommer Leigh has put together a linky tool so we can champion our fellow writers doing Nano.  Check it out–and sign up if you’re in.  BTW, are you in?

(Plus, don’t forget, Monster Fest 2011 runs through the end of the month.  There’s still plenty to see and do over there, so don’t miss it!).

Last, but certainly not least: go check out this totally groovy interview my friend Lola Sharp did with Hilary Wagner, featuring her new book THE WHITE ASSASSIN.  The title sounds downright fascinating.  Plus, Lola’s running a contest with free stuff!  Go check it out at once!  πŸ˜€

***** 

But now to the real business of the day: Part three of the #REN3 Blogfest.  This has been a ton of fun to write, and to also get around and read everyone else’s stories.  Don’t forget to check back for the finale next week!

The Leopard’s Spots
by Jon Paul
(c) 2011

Character: Calvin Rumpus
Wordcount: 600
Prompt: Betrayal is in the air.
Link to Part One (Magnus McGrool, 596 words)
Link to Part Two (Theodora Ravelstein, 597 words)

Part Three:

MAGNUS STOOD AT THE WINDOW watching employees dash to their cars in the rain. “Calvin, you moved into Carl’s office yet?”

Calvin appeared. “Not yet.”

“By Monday, Ok?”

“Ok.” Calvin turned to leave.

“One more thing.” Magnus pawed a stack of employee dossiers on the desk. “These are the first folks we let go. Monday morning.”

Calvin reached for the files.

“Nope. Leave them. Decision’s been made. Gladdis will set everything up.”

“And I just need to show up?”

Magnus smiled. “Yeah.”

*****

They hiked up the path, making the final turn into the clearing. Calvin led, Theodora followed.

“Wow!” Theodora lifted her sunglasses. “You weren’t kidding. This is some view.”  All of Renaissance was visible: Old Town; the Schiavona Desert; the River Espadon. But scads of strip malls had materialized over the last few years, disfiguring the landscape.

Near the trailhead, they unearthed an archaic sign with rusted letters: “Renaissance–Pop. 333”. Calvin pitched it aside and sat down.

Theodora took out her camera. “How’d you find this place?”

Calvin didn’t speak, his eyes on the horizon.

“Calvin?”

A narrow smile illuminated his face, then vanished. “My grandfather used to bring me here.”

“I’m surprised more people don’t know about it.”

Theodora explored the clearing, snapping pictures until Calvin’s silence became uncomfortable. She scrutinized him for a long moment. “Listen,” she said finally, stuffing her camera back in her pack. “I think I invited myself along today. And you clearly have plenty on your mind, so–“

Calvin frowned.

“–I think I’ll be going.” Theodora zipped her pack and started down the trail.

“Theodora?”

Theodora kept walking.

Calvin jumped to his feet. “Just…wait. Ok?”

She turned, eyed him skeptically. “So?”

He chose his words carefully. “I…I’ve been distracted…the office has been crazy lately…”

“And?”

They stood face to face, staring at each other for what seemed like forever. Calvin blinked twice. Theodora gazed at him through her sunglasses, waiting. Finally, Calvin ran one hand through his auburn hair and chuckled. The situation suddenly felt silly, absurd.

He squinted at her. “Please? Accept my sincerest apologies?”

“Whatever.” She strolled past him with a wry grin, placing her backpack next to his. “So what’s the story, Calvin? I hear you’ve been promoted.”

” If we’re gonna talk about work,” Calvin said. “You have to keep it under your hat.”

“Ok.”

“I’m just filling in until we hire someone new.”

She laughed.

He cocked his head, baffled. “What?”

“Word around the watercooler is you’re being set up.”

It was Calvin’s turn to laugh. “Yeah, well people’ve been watching too much Law and Order: Renaissance. Don’t believe everything you hear.”

“I guess it’s none of my business, anyway…”

“But?”

Theodora sighed, then smiled. “Office politics makes for good rumors, sure. But that McGrool guy, there’s just something not right about him.”

“When it comes to bosses, Magnus doesn’t get high marks. I get that. But it’s part of the game. I can’t just quit every time I don’t like my boss.”

“So you feel invested. Is that it?”

“Sure. I worked hard to get where I’m at. I put in my time. I can’t just walk away now.”

She studied his face, a flicker of uncertainty coloring her eyes. “You’re too nice, Calvin. For your own good, I mean.”

Calvin stood up, shouldering his pack. “Come on,” he said, a strange new distance surfacing in the space between his words. “I have to get back.”

She walked after him. The guttural crunch of gravel beneath their boots rang in her ears. She gazed out to the horizon, troubled. Had she said too much?

~fin~

Thanks for stopping by!  πŸ˜€

 

Let’s take a moment from all of our very busy lives and talk about something extremely important: sea monsters.

Yes.  Really.  πŸ˜€

Actually, I’d like to talk about one kind of sea monster in particular: The Kraken.

(This is my entry for Sommer Leigh‘s month-long Monster Fest 2011.  You should go check it out immediately.  It’s fine.  I’ll wait here.  :D)

Afternoon snack?

Now when I say the word Kraken (Krake is singular), I see half of you–the Clash of the Titans fans!–nodding in profound understanding, while the other half are giving me the “What-on-earth-is-that?” raised eyebrow.  I’m with you.  On the list of imaginary, sea-vessel-crushing creatures of myth and legend (yes, such a list does exist), the Kraken don’t really rank highly, do they?

I’ve always been a big fan of mythical creatures, the ones that lay on the edge of reality, that have a place both in the lives of our ancestors and in our own dreamscapes.  The belief in monsters lends a certain mystery to the world.  Isn’t it the easiest thing to believe that rationality, common sense, reason–all that is scientific and easily derived–are the ways of the universe?  But where’s the fun in that?  So much remains unexplained.  Much more of the world is born out of our fears and irrational obsessions than from a common understanding that two plus two equals four.

And you might be surprised to discover that ancient mythical sea monsters like the Kraken are still a part of our everyday lives.  Don’t believe me?  Well, lemme tell ya ’bout it.  From Wikipedia:

Kraken are legendary sea monsters of giant proportions said to have dwelt off the coasts of Norway and Iceland….Later versions of the legend may have originated from sightings of real giant squid, which are variously estimated to grow to 13–15 m (40–50 ft) in length (including tentacles). These creatures normally live at great depths, but have been sighted at the surface and have reportedly attacked ships.

Numerous references to the Kraken exist in popular culture.  For example, as I touched on, the Kraken showed up in both versions (1981 and 2010) of Clash of The Titans, but do you remember it in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest?

Jack Sparrow: “Open up and say ahhh…savvy?”

The list of books that feature Kraken runs to several dozen as well, including Jule’s Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Terry Brooks’ 1985 novel The Wishsong of Shannara, even a sonnet by Alfred Tennyson, among others.  And the Kraken have even shown their ugly mugs in comic books:

My copy is still in mint condition, in my underground vault, the one I won’t tell anyone about.

There’s also a rollercoaster that bears the name, at Sea World in Orlando.  Check out the review!

The scary part is when the coaster barrels through his ear canal.

Finally, and what I find most interesting, is there is a high-end spiced rum named–you guessed it!–The Kraken.

Goes extremely well with the “other other white meat.”
Mmmm….what was I saying?

According to an article about the kit that the drink comes in:

The kit is set up as a “proof” kit, each element inside is one piece of proof that the mythical Kraken sea monster exists. It includes a Kraken tooth, Kraken ink, a log book, a scroll, a feather, movies of the Kraken, and lastly a bottle of The Kraken.

See?  There’s proof.  That the Kraken exist, I mean.  Or, it’s mostly proof…?

OK, well, let’s say there’s a bit of a academic tussle over whether the Kraken did in fact exist.  But who are they kidding?  They’re just a bunch of scientists.  They don’t understand one jot or tittle about myth and legend.  They can’t even wrap their over-reasonable brains around the concepts of fear and irrationality.  Not like we fiction writers can, right?

πŸ˜€

*****
It’s not too late to get over and check out all the posts for Friday’s Pay It Forward Blogfest.  Plus, the Rule of Three Blogfest is entering it’s 3rd week, so stay tuned, and have a blastin’ groovy Monday while you’re at it!