An updated excerpt from my novella in progress, The Jump. (10/6/2015)

The following is taken from my novella in progress, The Jump. I’ve recently been able to begin working on it once more, so here’s what I have so far, from what is currently the end of chapter two and the entirety of chapter three (actually three and four if you count the recently-written prologue, but the fate of that chapter is still ambiguous). If you have any criticisms of any kind, please share them, I’d love to hear them so I can improve my work. I’m hoping to self-publish it as an eBook later this year if all goes well.

The cover for my eBook, drawn by the talented Mathias Gabriel.
The cover for my eBook, drawn by Mathias Gabriel.

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Queen of the Clouds

When the Queen returned, she did so golden and triumphant. From beyond the horizon, he could see it: the billowy and majestic force of nature known as the Nimbus. It announced its arrival to the land with a commanding thunderclap and a powerful flash of lightning from the heavens. The young man known as the Ribbon Boy looked upon it with a selfish gaze. He was the only one daring and foolhardy enough to climb the smooth pillars of Highrock Mountain, the peak of which gave put him level with the incoming ethereal skyship.

In appearance, it was an ordinary vessel no different in shape as the ones sailed at sea, save for the fact that it was made entirely of clouds and was soaring in the sky. Onboard, the Queen of his country had the helm and acted as captain to the country’s finest men. Two weeks ago, they departed as the citizens of the capital watched them disappear beyond the horizon in awe. There was a war on, and to quell the uprising in the east, she selected the strongest soldiers of the army and personally saw to it that peace would be returned to the region. The army itself hadn’t been mobilised in years; there was no need, not so long as the queen herself and her mighty ship made from clouds could sail the skies so effortlessly.

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Monsters of the Mind’s Own Making

The man stared out at the mysterious, majestic ocean before him with a cigarette in one hand and a steel-grey flask of whisky in the other. Entering his cone of vision and scattered across the sea to the horizon, terrible ash-creatures of unfathomable horror marched towards him. They were long, slender, sloppy, simplistic things. Their form defied reason or biological categorisation, almost like something out of a bored artist’s sketchbook.

Robert took another swig of the half-empty flask and shoved it back into his trenchcoat pocket. He took another long drag from his half-burnt cigarette.

They won’t get me. They can’t get me. They aren’t real.

Their flesh appeared to move and their mouths were ill-shaped maws with jagged, chaotic sets of teeth surrounding them. Their arrival was announced by the sudden halting of the rain storm and their screeching siren-like roar reverberating throughout the shore and presumably into the city as well.

But Robert couldn’t be bothered, or at least he was trying awfully hard not to be. He casually adjusted his hat so as to hide what few grey hairs he had left, as though it would make a difference when he was all alone on an empty beach on a rainy Saturday morning.

The gargantuan creatures that crawled from the ocean floor ceased to shamble and started to sprint. But Robert could not be bothered, because he knew this was his mind testing him, trying to trick him as it had his whole life.

“You aren’t real!” he shouted. “None of this shit is real!”

He immediately imbibed the last of the whisky and tossed the fragile flask to the floor, causing it to shatter into two big pieces and many little pieces. He had dealt with these hallucinatory creatures all his life, and though his family and many doctors sought to treat him, he never could be rid of them, not when reality and unreality are so similar.

But never before were the monsters and visions and creatures and hallucinations or delusions ever so fearsome. By now they were closer to the sand and he could see they had grown in scale since he first saw them. They were one hundred times Robert’s size or maybe bigger. But he couldn’t give them the time of day. He couldn’t give in to the delusion, because that would mean they win.

He opened his fingers and let the last cigarette drop. When it did, he stomped it with total indignation. Then, when the first of the monsters reached him, it scooped him up in its unfeeling hands and tore his body in half with its dull teeth all in the span of a second, not even giving Robert time enough to scream.

This time, the monsters were real.

Fall of the Bloodred Moon

Their world was nearly been devoured a century ago. When the Yellow Thing From Outer Space first arrived in their dimension, there was little they could do. YTFROS, as it came to be known, existed solely to devour flesh and consume life. It could not think or feel, at least as far as any of the scientists of Endless Horizons knew. Their planet being so far from the rest of civilised space, there was no hope for a distress call and little chance of a happenstance discovery. In all of its 112-year reign above the firmament, not a single ship would pass by. This was viewed as ironic by some; separation from the galactic community is what they always wanted.

The colonists of Endless Horizons were never any strangers to danger; they came to this world to escape the persecution of their homeland. On one end of the system, a black hole. Closer to their small red star, a dense ring of asteroids and planetary debris orbited around the system in a small circle just beyond their world, still visible from the planet with even a low-power telescope. Their own world’s own orbit was once empty, strangely free of any natural satellites. For decades, they looked upon the clear skies with vain hope for the future. For the later generations, every night sky served as a grim reminder of their lonely place amongst the stars. It was the constant threat of death hanging above us all, multiplied to a planetary level. For the Horizonists, it represented an existential calamity thought by as most to be implacable.

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I’ve seen a lot of flags waving today.

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And not all of them were American. But that’s OK. Living in the south (about an hour away from Nashville), I wasn’t surprised to see a few Confederate flags (specifically the now-iconic battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia) flying around. And you know what? I’m glad we live in a country where they can do that, even when I don’t support them or the flag they wave.

I would never wave a Confederate flag. To me, there’s nothing more un-American than flying the flag of the Confederacy, a separatist movement that nearly destroyed our entire republic in the defense of an economy based on human bondage. From the get-go, the seceding states were completely transparent in their reasoning for breaking from the Union: to keep the slaves that America now deemed to be unconstitutional in addition to an evil act that had be stopped if America was to move forward.

And we did move forward, thanks to the Union’s victory and the total destruction of slavery as an institution in the United States. Now, it’s often mentioned that the war was fought over the states’ rights (namely their rights to secede and to own slaves). But this is just a strategy, a means to the end of preserving slavery as an institution.

And in the end, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that America, a nation founded on the principles of universal liberty and equality for all human beings, could no longer continue as a nation that abided by slavery. So Abraham Lincoln and many others in the Union continued the difficult process of abolishing the trade, a process that began in the opening days of the revolution.

Progress is a long and difficult process. Enslavement was not something that the Americans invented, but in drafting the constitution of the United States and making steps to end slavery (an atrocity practiced all over the world through human history), we were able to move forward with the American ideal, the idea that everyone is born free and deserves equal protection from oppression. It’s not an ideal that we’ve always lived up to, but we’ve made steps towards it, and to me, that is what the American flag represents: progress.

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Now let me tell you what the flag of the Confederacy represents. To me, it is a symbol of regression. It was created and used by a nation of traitors who felt they had a right to tear the nation apart because they didn’t agree with the president and his platforms, that platform being opposition to the expansion of slavery to the new territories, a platform that, whilst not being overtly abolitionist, was obviously employed to stop the spread of slavery and thus bring us closer to driving it into extinction. The Confederate United States of America was founded on the principles of maintaining the rights to own slaves, and to me, that makes them – and the flag representing them as a “nation” – inherently opposed to the American ideals of liberty, equality and democracy laid out by our constitution.

And whilst it sickens me to see such an unpatriotic symbol re-used in a twisted sense of heritage (that is, a heritage of hatred), I understand that they have their own interpretations of it and their own reasons to wave it, and as an American, I respect that. I have to, or else I’d be a hypocrite in saying I support freedom and oppose oppression whilst simultaneously shutting down the expressions and opinions of others.

Some are surely flying the Confederate battle flag because, to them, it represents state’s rights and they want to express their support for that. Others may wave it because they want to protest the idea that is inherently racist – an opinion that I oppose. Other still will wave it because they are racist. And they have that right. They don’t have the right to oppress or terrorise as a certain shooter recently wormed his way into the news for doing, but as Americans we all have the right to express an opinion within the confines of the law, because universal free speech is one of the most fundamental human rights. Yes, even if it’s an opinion with which you disagree.

As a patriot and an egalitarian, I refuse to wave the Confederate flag for the same reasons I respect others’ right to. Perhaps it’s because I’m an optimist, but the silver lining I find in seeing Confederate flags flown around my town is that I’m glad they have the right to. I’m glad we live in a country where we are free to express an unpopular opinion because that only means I can make this exhausting rant without fear of reprisal and I can wave whatever flag I want.

So please, wave what you want. Wave the Confederate flag if you truly believe in it, so long as you understand that it doesn’t exempt you from criticism. Wave a flag of your own creation or wave the flag of your home country if you’re proud of it. Wave one of the old flags or one of the new flags, or the rainbow flag, since we just made a huge leap forward in recognising equality for all people. It doesn’t matter what you wave because today is independence day, a day where we celebrate the triumph of freedom and equality.

As for me, I’ll stick with Old Glory.

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Update #11 on my Upcoming eBook, The Jump

Hey potential readers, I just wanted to drop a quick update now that I’m hopefully back to writing the eBook regularly. There’s been a lot going on and I’ve found myself stuck between several projects, which you can read about in my previous post. There’s a lot of short story work I want to get done, and I currently have a draft for a novelette of nearly 10,000 words done, so hopefully I can get that edited and cover art’d in the future, when I have some more money. However, the only thing I’m focusing on publishing right now is The Jump.

Mainly though, what’s holding me back is wanting to write multiple stories at once. I have a couple good ideas I think, and entering contests like the two being held on Inkitt are a great way to expand my literary horizons and get my work out to people. I do want to just sit down and write the hell out of the eBook, but right now the biggest, most important thing in the world for me to have right now is exposure, and without that, the book may just end up being written for nothing.

Anyway, I promised an excerpt last time, so here’s the newly butchered prologue. I’m kinda iffy on some parts and I kinda like some others, so if anyone wants to give some feedback, I’d love to hear it.

“Stars have aligned… all systems green. Jump drive is online, all hands on deck!”

The crew of the rogue starship snapped into their positions. When the captain spoke, it was as if those under his command were parts of his own body, moving according to his will without second thought. They were fiercely loyal and prepared to die for the cause. Such preparation would be vital, given the stakes and more importantly, the odds. They’d all been branded as traitors by the federation and as such, none of them had any illusion of coming home. Their leader took with him only the most dedicated soldiers amongst his pool of separatists for this run. He made sure everyone onboard that ship wasn’t just willing, but ready to die.

Now they face their former allies as a common enemy. Not just any enemy, either. They will be trying their might against the unfathomable strength of the federation. It may just be possible. It’s not just very plausible. Every step of the journey, they had assumed the worst was behind them. And each time, they were wrong, and they knew it. Now, it was time for the most trying ordeal of all. They had lost so much already, but they were ready to lose much, much more. But such was the cost of completing their mission.

With the galaxy’s greatest feet drawing targets on their back, they have one hope of making it home alive. They’ll have to jump for it.

Current total word count: 21,029

Writing Update – 6/26/2015

First, I’d like to apologise for the lack of updates. I’ve been trying to juggle a lot of different writing projects at once. Currently, I’m trying to complete two stories for two separate Inkitt contests in addition to the main project, my novella. I hope to have the story for the first contest, “Who’s Under the Hood?” done by tomorrow afternoon, with the end of the weekend being the very latest.

The story itself falls under the category of paranormal mystery, and follows off-beat investigator Caden as he follows his own… unique leads across the city of Boston, trying to link seemingly unrelated crimes with a single tentative link: all of the perpetrators were seen committing the crimes wearing a black hoodie. Could it be simple coincidence? Or is there something more sinister hiding beneath the surface?

Here’s a quick excerpt:

The bright young man in his late twenties retrieved a pack of Camels from his left trenchcoat pocket and nimbly squeezed a single cigarette from it with his teeth. With a snap he reached for the red Bic in his right pocket, and just as soon as he did, he felt a tap on his shoulder.

“Hey. No smoking in here,” Scarlett said with a smile.

Caden snapped the cigarette from his mouth and let it fall to the floor.

“You guys are no fun,” Caden proclaimed as he walked out the door, throwing out a sassy thumbs up gesture in defiance as he did.

The second story will be science fiction, so look forward to that if you like spaceships and existential crises.