The Love Song

sailboat-on-turquoise-sea

Derek Christophers fell in love with the Aegean sea years ago when he served as financial consultant to a Greek shipping company, and later with the Greek government on an independent contract during the financial crisis. God knew they needed as much help as they could get after spending money like a drunk kid with his parents’ credit card. What was it with these people? It’s as if they thought they could beat the math by sheer force of will.

With a life full of schedules, budgets, year-end reports, the blue expanse of the sea where it met the sky seemed to transcend all of it. He took out his sailboat, Destiny Chaser, to explore the waterways talked about in the oldest stories in the world, not that Derek put much stock in old myths. He could understand their appeal though. Although he would never think of things this way, he had myths of his own that put him in the role of questing hero, fashioned after years of almost supernatural success. He was in demand from the beginning, even as recessions came and went. He sailed those seas undaunted. That’s how he was able to buy Destiny Chaser in the first place. It was his own private Argo to explore the seas of heroes and legends as a captain of his own fate.

But for the recent mutiny in his life, that is. Heidi had left him. Continue reading

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The Soft Place

My father, an English hatmaker in Dublin, died of consumption and my mother and I went into service at Harrow Hall near the end of Queen Victoria’s reign. It was the home of landed gentry and the very old Harrow family of English extraction who had established the house in the 1600s. It was a magnificently faded gothic house in the Irish countryside, far away from the view of the surrounding towns. It was said to be haunted, and indeed it was and on many fronts.

mansion in the woods

(image: Angelus YODASON)

First, the Harrow family was steeped in tragedy, with a son lost at sea a number of years before as he was on business, and a daughter who had gone mad as a result, it was said. A younger brother lived there as well, although little was known of him. My mother told me that he was about my age, which was eleven. But, she said, I must never seek him out or speak with him as despite his misfortunes in losing an older brother, he was my better.

And that was another layer of the haunted nature of Harrow Hall. If there were ghosts in that gloomy place, then surely I was to be among them. My duties were to the dusting of the great cabinetry, the polishing of the silverware, the scrubbing of the stone floors, the cleaning of the chandelier in the front hall once Mr. Purves, the butler, had seen to its careful decscent to the marble floors below. I was to be a shadow, a shade, a spectre in that house. For no one there was to converse with the family, least of all Master Harrow, who’s Christian name was Edmund. But, even the utterance of that name was forbidden by the staff. Continue reading

The Boy Who Ran

night in the desert

Mark put the phone down and ran.

He didn’t run out of the front door to his car. He ran out the back, across his small yard and flung himself over the fence. He ran across the muddy field, lit only by moonlight because the sky was clear. His heart beat like a drum, pumping acid and sorrow around and around, into his head and back again. And suddenly, he heard the footfalls of shadowy pursuers behind him.

They couldn’t be real. It couldn’t be true.

Mark ran anyway. He could no longer tell what was real, and what was not. Continue reading

Force Girl Vs. The Violet Ray (Report #: R-20894)

Superhero

Image: Kaptain Kobold

Sgt. Fred Fox of the Paladin City police department wrote the report at the precinct late at night and into the wee hours of the morning. He couldn’t think to do anything else. He certainly couldn’t sleep. Fred had been in the most violent fight of his life, and he hadn’t thrown a punch or fired a shot. The Superhero and Supervillain had done most of the work for him …
Continue reading

Louis C.K. and the Three Bears

I love New York. Love coming here. I’m not here five minutes and I get mugged before I even leave the airport. No, seriously. That actually happened.

Guy comes over, all, “hey, you need a cab?” And I’m like, “yeah, I need a cab.” And he’s like, “OK, now you need a cab and a new wallet, thank you very much fuckface.”

What a jerk. Seriously, that actually happened. Continue reading

Let the Healing Begin. A Dungeon Tale

Dungeons & Dragons short story

Photo Credit: Mike O’Dowd

The carnage of the battle was all over the floor and the walls. There were even Goblin guts on the ceiling. This dusty old crypt of the Lich King was newly washed down in the blood of those savage creatures, thanks to deadly dungeoneering skills of the Fellowship of the String.

Daggerin the Barbarian, Gygax the Wizard, Lore, the Cleric of the White Wood and Steve the Rogue began taking stock of the spoils of their violence — a pitiful hoard of rusty copper coins, a silver candlestick and a long staff that could be a Wand of Lightning Bolts or a Wand of Instant Death to All Who Pick It Up. (On the advice of Gygax, no one picked it up). Continue reading

The Girl On The Other Side

Black Oak Tree

Photo: Jason Sturner

Assignment: A fantasy romance

The word “fantasy” has connotations when it comes to popular stories; elves, armour, capes, quests, maps, and places and names that are hard to pronounce. But, luckily it’s a pretty open-ended term, too. So, I decided to do a sort of W.P Kinsella meets Frank Capra style fantasy tale.

As for the romance part, I figure the engine of all romance stories hinges on the theme of choices; “which road should I take? What happens if I choose to embrace love? What happens if I don’t?” So, that theme made me think about another one that is equally compelling to me; meeting a version of oneself that chose a different road where love is concerned, and the things that they might want to say about the results.

***

On a quiet Sunday, I took a walk into the scruffy woods at the end of my street. I had inherited the house from my Dad who passed on a few years ago; a little post-war bungalow I’d grown up in. He’d loved my mother quietly and unassumingly. But, it was an intense love. They loved me too, their only child whom they had very late after a number of adventures together as a couple.

And when Mom passed away just after I finished school, I think he felt a level of loneliness and a sense of bereavement that he never really got over. Despite this sense of loss, I think he also felt a sense of gratitude for having experienced the kind of love that I think he knew that not everyone gets to have. I think he wanted that for me, too, although he never came out and said it. But, I’ve never really been the kind of guy to get a lot of female attention, or one to seek it. I prefer my books, the garden in the backyard, and walks in between the trees alone. For me, they’ve always been the safer bets. I’d leave the romance to Catherine and Heathcliffe, and maybe to the memory of my parents, too.

But, that decision was about to become way more complicated.

Continue reading