Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Untitled Story - Part Four

Minutes later, Bill and War stood outside the apartment complex. The sun had descended down past the other massive buildings that surrounded the two.
"So if you lose all of your powers when your horse is destroyed, is it possible to get the horse back?" Bill asked, looking down the street.
War shrugged. "Yeah, it's possible, but it requires a massive expendeture of energy to reform the horse, and the energy has to be in the form of the horse's power."
Bill whipped around to look at War. "In the form of the horse's power? So you mean that if you lost your horse..."
"There would have to be a massive war upon the world to recreate my horse, yes."
"So, in order to get Death's horse back, millions of people have to die?" Fear crept back into Bill's voice.
"That is correct." War replied.
"Has this ever happened before?" Bill asked, fearful of the answer.
War nodded. "Both Death and I lost our horses a while back, but we managed to get them back fairly quick."
"When was that?"
"I managed to get mine back in 1942. Death didn't get her's back until 1945." War shrugged.
"Wait a minute, 1945... that was when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed, right?" Bill's stomach began to sink.
"Yes, and out of the cloud of Nagasaki rode Death's horse, alive and well again."
"But, those two explosions killed almost a million people!" Bill exclaimed.
"That was actually the final part, Death's horse had been reforming for some time. The war itself with all of it's active and passive casualties had done a lot to rebuild Death's horse." War continued.
Bill paled and sat down quickly. "Most reports state that over 60 million people died over the course of the war. Are you meaning to tell me that in order to get Death's horse back, we have to cause the death of 60 million people?"
War looked at him incredulously. "No. We don't have to do anything. We can just let people die but not rest. They're not going to be zombies, but they're not going to be stationary. After a while, as more people cease their life functions, there will be no living things left, and the end will finally be here."
Bill goggled. "So we can either kill 60 million people, or just let everyone reach some state of living death?"
"60 million is a bit excessive, I admit. It really only takes 5 million people to bring Death's horse back." War's tone was a little bored.
Bill slapped his forehead. "Of course! We just have to nuke New York and everything will be right with the world again. That's great!" Bill laughed maniacally for a moment "DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU'RE SAYING!?" He screamed at War.
War lazily glanced at Bill. "Yeah." the tone coming off like a bored valley girl from the eighties.
"I'm not going to nuke New York!" Bill screamed at War. A passerby sped up looking worried.
"Fine" War shrugged. "Then we just let everyone die but not rest."
Bill put his head in his hands.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Untitled Story - Part Three

Shaking the fuzz from his head, Bill struggled back to his feet, rubbing his neck. "Wait a minute, what do you mean a Horseman will lose their powers if they lose their horse? I thought you guys were divine beings, drawn forth to herald the Rapture."
Glaring again, War fumed. "WE ARE-" "Damn it, would you stop with the head crushing voice?" Bill cut in, annoyance tinging his voice.
Fire blazed in War's eyes and Bill suddenly had the image of being skewered on a big sword from bottom to top flash through his head. However, when War spoke again, his voice was quiet again. "We are Horsemen without our horses, we're basically mortal. We have no control or say over our powers. Sometimes, they will randomly manifest, but for the most part, they don't work. Period."
A cold, numbing realization settled in the pit of Bill's stomach. Opening his mouth say something, he let it hang open as the full implications of what War explained settled in. A slow, high pitched whine filled the air, growing in volume and pitch until War appeared in front of Bill, slapping him across the face.
"Sorry. That damn noise was getting on my nerves." War apologized. He looked stricken. "Damnation. It's already starting." War muttered to himself. Seeing the confused look on Bill's face, War continued. "If once of us loses our horse, not only does that Horseman lose their powers, but the other's powers begin to wane - not to mention we begin to shift to the opposite of our personalities. In a way, we can tell immediately if one of us is in trouble."
"So, let me get this straight - because Bucky blew up Death's horse, she has lost her powers. Without her powers, people are not going to die. Right?" War nodded mutely. "In addition to that, the other Horsemen are going through personality shifts that make them polar opposites of their traditional personalities?" Bill pressed on. "So, instead of being an overbearing pain in the ass, you're now going to be meek and polite?"
War nodded morosely.
"Well, crap." Bill put set chin in his hand to think. "Well, we had better figure out how to fix this before Pestilence takes over Orkin or Terminex and Famine starts feeding the masses." Glancing over at War, Bill did a double take. On the floor next to his unconscious brother, War was in the fetal position.
Bill walked over to the now childlike Horseman and did something he never would have considered possible. He hauled War to his feet and slapped the mythical being across his rugged, scarred jaw. Twice.
The change was immediate. War's eyes blazed hotly. He threw back his arms, looked at the ceiling and bellowed "AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!" The walls shook in fear of the re-energized deity. A picture fell off the wall, terrified of what was to come. As War leveled his gaze at Bill, the sound of a foot stomping the floor above them broke the new silence.
"Dammit, Bill! Keep the volume down or I'm going to call the super!" A voice floated through the popcorn texture of the ceiling. "Sorry!" Bill yelled back up. "Mrs. Meyers." He explained to War, acting as if that was all the explanation that was needed.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Untitled Story - Part Two

Scrabbling to get the key back out from its hiding place was proving to be a maddening undertaking. It was bad enough that Bill had to scrabble around to get the key without anyone seeing, but he also had a bona-fide Horseman of the Apocalypse practically breathing down his neck.
"ARE YOU TRYING TO PISS ME OFF?" Bill winced again as he felt his head attempt to explode from War's voice. Looking back over his shoulder, Bill glared at War. "Listen, I would be able to get the key much quicker if you would back up a little" He paled quickly as War glared at him. "Please?" he squeaked, visions of death and dismemberment racing through his head. Cringing, Bill waited for the blow that would split him from stem to stern. After several moments passed, Bill slowly opened his eyes to see War down the hallway, glaring at him, Bucky still tucked unevenly under one arm.
Steeling his resolve, Bill reached back into the gap and retrieved the key. Before he could second think himself, Bill unlocked the door and motioned War to go in. Sweeping past him, War hauled his little brother into the apartment. Bill followed behind, closing the door. Once inside, War moved to the living room and unceremoniously heaved Bucky onto the couch.
"So, uh, what, uh, what h-happened?" Bill's voice betrayed his overwhelming fear of not only the biblical figure before him, but also the situation as it stood. Bucky may be a menace to everyone around him, but it took a lot to injure him, much less lay him out cold.
War sat down heavily in an armchair by the couch. In this setting, the heavily scarred, bearded man did not seem so powerful and awe inspiring. In fact, if Bill didn't know any better, he would have sworn that War looked like a down on his luck veteran who was taking a break from begging for change on the streets. Looking at his hands, War heaved a heavy sigh.
Bracing himself for another head-splitting vocalization from War, Bill prepared for the explanation. War began to talk "Bucky was attacked by Death" his voice barely filled the room, much less crowding out Bill brain with its intensity. Shock registered on Bill's face.
"What, you think I always talk like I've got a megaphone attached to my face?" War stared at him, fire burning in his eyes.
Swallowing loudly, Bill found his voice "w-well... yeah. I mean you're a Horseman of the Apocalypse. A Harbinger of End Times - the destroyer of civilizations. I just couldn't imagine you having any sort of what my kindergarten teacher would call an "indoor voice"."
"FOOLISH MORTAL. DO YOU DARE MOCK ME?" War sprang to his feet, Fire blazing from his eyes, hand on the hilt of his sword.
Bill slammed back against the door, terror gripping his soul. Dimly, he was aware of a warm trickle pouring down his leg. He found it hard to breathe, yet he was consumed with a desire to go next door and conquer the Hendersons.
"Look, that's not why I'm here. I just barely managed to get Bucky out of there before Death got really pissed off. I'm just glad we didn't run into Famine on the way out. He's not nearly as understanding as Death is." War seemed to deflate and sat back down on the chair. He looked back at Bill. "Listen, before we continue this conversation, you need to go change. While you're at it, take a shower... you smell like fear and urine. If you're going to help me figure this out, I can't be getting distracted by two of my favorite scents."
Bill stood under the scalding hot shower head as he tried to process everything that had just happened in the past ten minutes. He had started out the night looking to go and wander, and now, he had War, the second Horseman of the Apocalypse sitting in his living room. Not only that, but this mythical figure was asking for his help. If he wasn't experiencing it himself, he wouldn't have believed it either.
Several minutes later, Bill was dressed in clean clothes and sitting in the living room across from War. The Harbinger had managed to collect himself and was staring steadily at Bill.
Clearing his throat, Bill broke the ice. "So, what did Bucky do that caused Death to beat the crap out of him, and why would Famine be wanting to really injure him as well?"
War stared at Bill for a minute. Taking a deep breath, he exhaled loudly. "For some reason, he was really upset that Death's horse didn't have much color. Don't ask me why, but sometimes, Bucky just gets a wild hair up his ass and does something ridiculously stupid. In this case, he somehow managed to get Death's horse out of the stable without alerting her, and took the damn beast to a tanning salon."
Bill goggled. "He did what?"
"I said, he took Death's horse to a tanning salon; said the beast looked so pale that he thought the damn thing needed a tan." War looked like he wanted to punch something.
"and?" Bill repressed an urge to giggle.
"Well, he managed to find a tanning salon that would allow a horse in the first place, and then when he put it in the machine, all hell broke loose." War's face clouded up with rage.
Bill was beginning to lose the fight for a straight face. "What happened?" A snicker slipped out.
War glared at him until Bill subsided. "It exploded."
Bill lost all control and guffawed loudly... until War grabbed him around the neck and started choking him.
"DO YOU REALIZE THAT A HORSEMAN WITHOUT THEIR HORSE LOOSES THEIR POWERS?" War bellowed in Bill's face. Severely deafened, bill could only squirm weakly in the powerful grip. Suddenly loosening his grip, War dropped Bill to the floor and stomped back over to the chair and sat down heavily.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Untitled Story - Part One

Bill locked the door to his apartment and carefully hid the key behind the loose bit of moulding outside his door. Looking around nervously, he began his trek down the three floors to the street below.
Silently, he passed the broken elevator that has been out of service since his first week in the building. As he began his descent down the narrow steps, he thought about his roommate, if he could even be called that. Honestly - the guy was hardly ever there, and when he was, it was just a series of disasters. Bill shuddered as he thought about the latest incident where Bucky ended up setting the bathtub on fire. In and of itself, quite possible, but when it's full of water, not only is it an impressive, yet dangerous feat, but the steam did some major damage to the drywall.
It took all of his courage to face the super and try and talk Mr. Schultzen out of not only evicting them, but charging them to repair the entire third floor, as well as The Polkeist's apartment below them. Seriously, it wasn't Bill's fault the bathtub fell through the floor and killed their schnauzer Tinkles.
Stopping for a moment on the second floor to catch his breath, he shook his head, amazed that the two of them were still alive. After every accident that almost killed them, they managed to skit around any major trouble. The only problem was that they were the most reviled tenants in the building; no one ever invited them to hang out on the roof, they were never asked to join the monthly BBQ in the back lot.
Hearing a door slam, Bill looked over at apartment number 9. the number arced back and forth, slowed by friction as it rubbed on the door. Bill rolled his eyes. That wasn't number 9, that was apartment 6. Apartment 6; Loony Lucy's apartment. She of the fishnet garters and tutus to run to the store. Apparently, she was mad at Bill again. For what this time, he could only guess... but judging by the sign on her door - it was because he was now a space alien sent to Earth to make alien babies with her.
Sighing again, Bill started down the stairs. Her crazy pick-up lines used to bother him, but after a few months he had learned to blow it off. 'If she wasn't such a basket case, I would probably see about dating her' Bill thought as he descended the steps, his thoughts coming back around to Bucky again.
What Bill still couldn't get was the fact that Bucky was the honest to God fifth horseman of the apocalypse. In all truth, Bucky was the former fifth horseman of the apocalypse. The younger brother of War, apparently Bucky had caused a lot of strife and misery when he was with the group. Misery was his real name, but when he got booted from the group, he was no longer allowed to use his real name, instead he was forced to settle on the first name he came across. Apparently, he found a beaver mascot somewhere, and got his name.
Bill had just made it to the foyer when a big guy with a red sword strapped to his hip burst into the building. he had one arm thrown around a much smaller person, and was half-walking, half-dragging the smaller figure in. Immediately, Bill's heart sank.
Looking around, the big man spotted Bill. His face broke into a jagged grin as the scars across his face wiggled and moved, suggesting battle. "Bill!" he called out jovially.
The sound erupted through the room, the large man's voice filling the entire area aggressively, seeking out every nook and cranny, forcing it's way into Bill's head, laying waste to everything in it's path. Bill smiled weakly as he felt his eardrums threaten to burst.
"Hi War" he replied weakly, raising his hand half-heartedly and flexing his fingers in a sad attempt at a greeting.
"Listen, Buck and I had a spot of trouble with the others, and he really needs to rest. could you help me get him back to your place?" Bits of plaster began to rain down from the sonic assault. Bill's interior organs rattled and shook. Nodding weakly, he began the trek back up the stairs, the large man close behind.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Musings on becoming an Author

As you may or may not know, I have spent the last two years writing my first book. While it is not going to be hitting the New York Times Best Seller list, it is my first real, honest-to-god hard copy book.
While I've been talking about writing a book over these past two years, it never really hit me that I was going to be published until tonight, when I stumbled across the entry for my forthcoming book - completely unsolicited, I was looking at other books in the same sort of niche as mine, and I saw an entry for a reading guide to graphic novels for kids. Thinking to myself, "Wow... that's wild. Someone else is writing a book just like mine."
So I clicked the link, and this is what I saw.

Then it hit me. That was my name under the author listing.

The world fell away, and I was left floating on a cloud of euphoria, terror, and the crushing, overwhelming realization that I am going to be published, and all that keeps running through my head is "Oh shit, I'm an author."

I think I'm going to be sick, from fear or excitement remains to be seen.

To my family, friends, and others who have prodded, poked, cajoled, threatened, begged and bargained with me to finish...

I want to thank you all for believing in me - especially when I felt the odds were insurmountable.

I raise my glass to you all, and wish you the best in all your endeavors.