Returning Home

Here, I am presenting this year’s Thanksgiving short story. I try to post a few short stories during the year for your enjoyment. During the holiday season – Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, I make sure to provide a short story that applies to that specific celebration. Although, overall, I attempt to present different aspects, different views than the standard holiday story. This one is no different as we follow an old man as he returns home after being away for too many years. So, for your pleasure is the short story, “Returning Home”.

It was a cold autumn evening, dusk was just settling in on the land as he wrapped his thin well-worn coat around him. The coat as well as the clothes he wore had seen better days. Still he had to admit to himself that so had he. Still there was a smile on his face because he was returning home after all these years. Years that seemed to drift off into a past that was unremembered and unwanted. He shivered briefly when the breeze found a way past the patched jacket and touched his skin. If he had a mirror he would have seen an old man with his personal history written in every wrinkle, every line of his face. His face, and he had to admit most of his body, showed signs of a hard life, one spent mostly outdoors, mostly away the centers of what could be called civilization, never having enough of anything.

Looking ahead he could see the winding dirt road that would bring him back to his beginnings, and what had transpired since he had left, now meant nothing. In many ways he figured that like so many he had wasted his life, and somehow time just had gotten away from him. When he thought about this too deeply it led to a deep depression, a hurt that was hard to find a way out or to get away from. So he tried not to press too hard in that direction, but just let his destination be his happiness for now. What happened later was in the future and he knew from experience that no one controlled the future, least of all him. Sighing and taking a deep breath that he let out slowly he looked at that final hill. That one that always said that home was close, but at the same time required effort to conquer.

I guess if I stand right here I’ll never make it back, he thought. Then smiling once again he said, “Time’s a wastin’”, and began that final climb that would lead to the top of a hill through an old broken gate, leading down the other side, and then into the place where the house sat, a place where he had once called home. Dusk was upon him and he needed to hurry if he was to be there before it became dark. But what did it matter? After all he had walked this way too many times to even count and he could do it in his sleep, or in the darkness of a moonless night. There was a dampness on the land that he could smell and feel, a muskiness that spoke of fallen leaves, and of newly turned soil, which flooded his mind with memories of his childhood – making him smile once more as these memories flooded his mind. It really did seem like it was just yesterday and he was just returning home from school, anticipating a snack when he got there, and at the same time dreading the chores that always waited.

He stopped, once through that broken gate, as memories once again flooded his mind. This always had been a place to pause, to look out over the vastness that fell away from here. He remembered that on those clear days and nights you could look down upon the cities that were far to the west, and again on those clear days all the way to the coast. At night, between the stars and the city lights, all twinkling, their lights magical in the distance, leaving one intrigued as to what was there, making the imagination soar. He breathed in the fresh damp clear air, although if his eyesight wasn’t failing him, it appeared that the fog was beginning to creep in. This brought a flood of new memories as he remembered the times that the fog would lay just below them leaving an ocean of white that made it appear that they were on the coast, next to an ocean, with the beach within walking distance. Then as the sun heated the fog it would lift and cover them in its grayness for a short period of time until that sun would burn it off leaving a clear warm day ahead. With that smile still on his face he shook his head, so many good memories, he thought, again where had the time gone, and with it all those passing years? Yes those passing years that seemed to drift off into nothingness, beyond his memory.

He stayed long enough to catch his breath because that still was a heavy climb that hadn’t gotten any easier with those passing years. And as he cooled from his exertions he decided that he had better get moving once again. He really didn’t like getting cold. The road before him twisted slightly to the right before heading steeply downhill. Once past this portion he knew that it turned to the right and eventually turned again to the left as it wound its way to his destination. And just before that right turn over half way down this hill sat a sunken boulder that didn’t allow anything to grow.  It was a place known to the family as dead man’s curve, even though it had never lived up to its name. Again he stopped here because from here he could see the house partially hidden below and he could see that ol’ porch light giving light to the darkness that surrounded it – a beacon in the night. Again he stopped as those memories came flooding back. Why has it taken me so long to return? Still he knew that it was nostalgia and those romantic ideas that were flooding his mind, hiding the other side. Yet, here he stood once again and was almost home, still just standing for a short time enjoying those flashes of the past. Still, he had to admit that they were good memories – great memories really.

Finally, as he took a deep breath of the cool country air, he continued his hike down into the yard where he heard the dogs barking. There always had been dogs and he could see that this hadn’t changed. He could hear the rattle of their chains. As it always had been, they were chained “for the night” so that they couldn’t roam the hills. In the yard he could see many cars parked speaking to him that all the family had gathered and he suspected that he would be the last one to arrive. And sure enough as he came closer to the house the door opened and one of his siblings stood there smiling at him and beckoning him to come inside and join them for which he happily did. Going from the cool damp outside to a warm inside made him feel overly warm. But he knew that shortly he would adjust and the outside would seem much too cold. He could smell the delicious smells of the turkey in the oven, the sights of the pies, yams, potatoes, and so many other delectable temptations. Yes, it did appear that this would be as it had been in the past – a time of Thanksgiving, a time of family, and a time of happy memories.

There were no young children since all of them, his siblings and he, were older. This last gathering was only for the children of their parents who had passed away many years before. It probably was the last time that all of them would be together and this made it even more special – so much more precious. Time and life had a way of making such gatherings nearly impossible and it had been too many years since they were able to gather this way. His brothers and his sisters were there. After all they had been a large family and one that had always been close. But time and life had gotten in the way and it was rare, such a gathering as this. They sat and reminisced about their lives here, bringing much laughter, and a few tears as story after story passed between them, bringing all back to those times when this was home. Finally it was time to eat and to give a prayer of thanks to God for allowing this to take place and for the guidance and protection that he had provided over their lives.

Even here the conversations never died as all were brought up to date with what had been transpiring in each other’s lives. He felt warm and comfortable enjoying every moment because it would be all that he had. For even joyful gatherings like this had a beginning, and as life, had an ending. And as full as everybody was from the meal there was still pie and coffee and more conversation, with much companionship and joy. Eventually as the food began to take effect the conversation slowly died as all relaxed overly full and almost uncomfortable. Such was a Thanksgiving meal. And as the conversation died a stranger walked in from the kitchen signaling him to follow. Curious he got up noticing that the rest of the family wasn’t really paying much attention. They probably assumed that he was heading for the bathroom; after all it was in this direction. When he reached the stranger the stranger whispered, “Follow me, I have something important to show you.”

Questioning, but still curious, he followed him out of the living room through the kitchen, out the double doors, through the dining room which was still stacked with uneaten food and dirty dishes, then outside through the back door. It was chilly as it was fall and darkness had fully fallen. It was at this time that the stranger turned to him saying, I’ve been sent to fetch you. For it is your time to go home.”

Not understanding he said, “But I am home. I’m seeing my family, and my joys are being with them and what they represent.”

This stranger looked at him smiling kindly. “Yes this is true but there is so much more than this. And this is not your final home. I’m here to take you there.”

“Ah, now I understand. Can I at least say goodbye?”

Again the stranger smiled, “They already know”, was all he said.

* * *

It was the day after Thanksgiving and she was sitting down reading a magazine. After all, like her children, she had the day after off. Her husband was stuck and had to work. It always seemed to be the way. Her two boys were out and exploring as they always liked to do when there was nothing pressing for them to do. They were 9 and 11 – prime age for imagination and exploration. They had moved to country five years in the past and she had never regretted the move. Beyond them were abandoned properties where no one had lived on in years. The road past their place was impassible to even 4 wheel drive vehicles and the only way one could get back to most of these properties was on foot. Even motorcycles found it close to impossible. With a few accidents it had been marked as hiking only.

She remembered hiking back to some of these properties and had idly wondered about the ones who had lived here back when it had been occupied. But now there were barely trails, and the fields and open spaces almost taken over by the wild grasses and brush that seemed so prevalent. The houses were nothing more than ruins, barely standing, but great places for adventures for her boys. She wanted to be sure that it was safe for them to explore these old houses and once satisfied, with the urging of her husband, relented and allowed them to explore to their heart’s content. At this time they were the furthest out and rarely did they see anybody other than ones who were lost who would stop by to get directions. So with the boys out doing their exploring, she was taking advantage of the peace and quiet with none of the normal chaos going on around her. Even the dogs were quiet and lazy. So these rare opportunities were much appreciated.

Suddenly the dogs began excitedly to bark. She recognized the bark as someone they knew but she didn’t know who it could be. After all she didn’t expect the boys back for a couple of hours. Then they came rushing into the house all excited about something. She gave them that look that made them quit running, followed this by asking, “Okay, what’s going on here?”

“Mom”, her oldest began, “we decided that we wanted to go over the hill and go play in that old house, you know the one that you and dad said we could.”

She wasn’t sure where this was leading so she said, “Okay, sure . . .”

“Well we were having a great adventure playing like we were retreating from an enemy and that old house would be our fort. We were having so much fun and when we came up to that old house we burst in like we were being chased. But that changed once we got inside.” Here he paused.

Sensing that something wasn’t right she said quietly, “Continue please.”

“Ah, we ran through the, what you and dad called, the living room, through the kitchen and then out in that other room. It was there that we found him.”

“Found him? Was someone there? Did he bother you?” She asked alarmed. I told Mike not to let the boys go there by themselves, she thought.

“No, no, he didn’t bother us. He was an old man and he appeared to be sleeping, but when he didn’t wake up we figured he had to be dead.”

“Are you sure?”

“Ah mom, of course we’re sure. We tried to wake him and he didn’t move. Then we saw that he was staring at the ceiling and he was cold.”

She got up quickly from her comfortable couch and immediately called emergency services which stated that they would be out immediately.

* * *

Later she heard a helicopter pass overhead and assumed that it was emergency services. After a while a unit showed up at her door. A polite young man came to the door and knocked. She let him in and he brought her up to date with what they had found. He had told her that yes the old man was dead and from what they could tell he had died the night before, and no there was no foul play. It appeared he had died of old age. And how he got there they never knew, but from the worn out condition of his clothing they concluded that he was poor and maybe somehow had gotten lost and had taken shelter there since last night was cold, fell asleep and never woke up. It surely was a mystery and one that would never have an answer.

* * *

He stood silently in shock; he seemed to be standing on a plane that went into the distance as far as he could see. Before him stood his parents looking younger than he last remembered them who were smiling at him with joy on their faces saying, “We’ve been waiting for this day when you would join the rest of us, and now we will be together as a family forever, we’ve missed you, as you were the last.”

At first he was confused since he was sure that he had been at that Thanksgiving gathering with all his brothers and sisters. He quickly looked around and indeed saw all of his immediate family smiling and filled with the joy that only such reunions can bring and knowing that they would never be separated again. He understood at that moment that this had been arranged for him and they were waiting in anticipation for his coming home, completing their family as it once had been, and when he looked at his hands he no longer saw ones that were damaged by age and infirmaries, but ones of his youth, and knew that indeed he was home and it was a time of great Thanksgiving.

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Published in: on November 30, 2013 at 8:41 am  Comments (5)  
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Thanksgiving is Upon Us

This is short and hopefully sweet. First off this would be considered a blog extra, but it doesn’t quite fit the bill since I have stated that if this is in the title, Blog Extra, then it refers to a political opinion, and for this day of thanksgiving I only desire to look towards what this represents. Yes, there will be the normal Saturday post, this time being my Thanksgiving short story. I do hope that you will look forward to and enjoy it.

For most, it has been a tight and rough year, yet what is it we can take from it that we can offer thanks? We have our families, our friends, a time of gatherings, of joy, and of course, times of sorrow. In a way it requires the opposite to understand the other side or to appreciate it. If, for example, we were never sick (yes, in many ways that sounds wonderful), then how could we appreciate the times of wellness? So as each of us go through our dark times, we understand that for most it does not remain dark. Eventually the light of day arrives revealing what was hidden in that darkness.

So as family and friends gather, let us put those negatives aside. Let all of us strive to see the good that has happened within our lives and give thanks to God for what has been provided. We have shelter over our heads, we have food on our tables, we have a chance to refresh old ties and relive memories of past Thanksgivings – feeling the warmth of family and those life long friendships. Yes, the day can be initially hectic, as we have to dash off to that store because we forgot some item necessary for our individual menus. Yet when the day ends, and we are all comatose from too much turkey, and have gathered in the living room enjoying that coffee and pie, we can secretly smile as we look around the room. For here lies our history, our present, and possibly our future. Our lives can be easily represented in that room at this time, giving all of us more reasons to be forever thankful.

In a sense this is the realization of the holidays arriving that this time of year presents to us. It is also leading to the end of one year, and the beginning of a new one. So as we gather across this nation let us truly look around, truly understand that even with the chaos that exists, we really do have reasons to be thankful.

May this Thanksgiving be good to you and yours, and may God bless your home – F. D. Brant

Published in: on November 28, 2013 at 8:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Coming Down the Pipeline

As you’ve probably noticed, the published books start at book 3 written, and ends at book 5. There are 4 others that have been written and are first draft, with much editing and revising still ahead of me. With the time and work that went into writing them, it would be a shame to let them just sit there to never see the light of day, or the backlight from the e-reader. So here is a list of what is still to come, where each falls in the order of being written, and which series or universe each belongs to:

The Ones Before – book 1 in the Discovery Series is the first book I wrote – approximately 434 pages in length. The genre is Science Fiction, but more because it deals with a future time, not technology. It is a post-apocalyptic story, but not necessarily like many that are out there. This story begins thousands of years after the event that comes close to wiping out mankind, and all life on this planet. The story picks up at a time when civilization and population is finally large enough to form villages and cities, with many wild lands still existing. Myths have come and gone, but one that has never disappeared is the myths of the “Ones Before”.  A race of ancients that had abilities that seemed almost magical. In this story we have a leader of the archives and of history who wants to either prove or disprove this myth, and with what is happening presently in their world he may just have that chance. The story has 6 protagonists who have an influence to the outcome of the story.

Discovery – book 2 in the Discovery Series is the second book written – approximately  516 pages in length. It seems to work that way for me when I’m writing a story. In the two series that I’m writing – Discovery and Survival – the original plan was to make the story fit in one book, but both ended up as two. It begins where book 1 leaves off and continues to follow the same 6 protagonists as their search for their past continues. In this book we learn much about their world, and why much is as it is. Genre is Science Fiction.

An Ancient Fire – book 3 in the Discovery Universe and is book 7 written – approximately 369 pages in length. We change directions with this one and head to our future but the far past to what transpires in books 1 and 2. The events in this book takes place approximately 200 years after the apocalyptic event. Chaos reins supreme and very little of mankind has survived. We open with one family and follow as events that are beyond their control swirl around them. Genre Science Fiction.

A Taste of History Past, or That’s a Fine Myth You’ve Gotten Me Into – book 3 in the Survival Universe, and is book 6 that I’ve written – approximately 370 pages in length. Whereas book 3 in the Discovery Series regresses in time, book 3 in the Survival Universe advances a few thousand years into this world’s future. Here, like in the book The Ones Before, the people are trying to understand their past. They have advanced, at the time of this book, beyond the nomadic and semi-nomadic status as a people, to a time where permanent settlements, with farming, and the beginnings of manufacture are becoming a reality. One person inherits a diary of sorts from the ancient past, one from his family line, which contradicts the history as it is told and taught. So he decides to find out which is true – the diary, or the official line. Genre, Science Fiction.

In a sense, from the brief descriptions, all of these books are about discovery. It is said to know who we are we must know our past. It is one of the things that any of the elite or political leaders are aware of. So if one can manipulate the past to say what they want it to say, then it is easy to influence a people, to change their direction. Yet, if this is not the plan or desire, it is still easy to misinterpret what is found because of the unconscious prejudices or influences that all of us have. In other words it is nearly impossible to remove the culture that we are immersed in and not have it influence how we see things. And when there is a great period of time that separates the present from that past event, enough so that it is not fresh in the minds of the people, that distance allows for mistakes, wrong interpretations, and incorrect conclusions.

So tell me, are what we reading and being taught about our own past accurate, or are there influences in there trying to change it? Revisionist history is common, and is still being used everywhere you look. And because it is taught in the education systems the unconscious belief is that it is accurate and correct. After all, why would it be any way other than that? If you believe that revisionist history isn’t being taught in the USA, then you better take a hard look, because it is. So as we follow the characters within the Discovery Universe, and live the lives of the characters in the Survival Universe, what are the lessons learned, and can we accept the fact that history is always written by the victors, those in power, the educated elite, and thusly will never be truly accurate? Are we able to eliminate our cultural influences and then interpret the evidence as it truly is, or are we unconsciously coloring the results because of our own personal experiences and prejudices? Remember, what is happening now in this world will be history shortly.

Do I have an agenda within these books? Not necessarily, because back in school, history was something that I tried to avoid. The way it was taught – dry, dead, and unreal, it had nothing to inspire one to look forward, or back. It was only after I became an adult that history became an interest as is archaeology. It was actually a couple of fictional books I read while in Vietnam that got me to reconsider history. Oliver Wiswell, and Northwest Passage by Kenneth Roberts – both dealing with the revolutionary war. Who knew that over time these two would leave their influences, as well as, of course, other authors’ works, that would lead me write my own novels?

Desperate to Survive

Desperate to Survive Cover1Shameless offering #3, Desperate to Survive (ISBN 9781624883866). Ah yes, book 2 in the Survival Universe, the 5th book written. Funny thing, when one compares the covers of books 1 and 2 – it appears that these covers should be reversed. After all, it is so much more difficult to survive in a desert than it is in a forest. Yet, if one had read the first in this series then this cover would make absolute sense. Genre, Science Fiction, and a continuation of the story from book 1, Time of Isolation. Book 1 deals with discovering what is happening, and once discovered, trying to live with those answers.

This one begins just beyond where book 1 ends, and for the first time we get up close, and personal with the antagonists of the story. While they are existing in book 1, they are more shadowy, and little is truly known or revealed about them. Here in book 2 many truths are learned and revealed, while the protagonists are desperately attempting to solve this overwhelming situation – one that seems well beyond them and their capabilities. While, obviously a fictional story, what happens here has happened in the real world, and continues to happen. Since I’m not going to give the story away, if you are interested in knowing, then you will just have to get the series (an obvious sales tactic here).

Again this came from a dream, and originally I had planned on this story to be only a single book. Yet as the word count piled up and as I came close to what would be the ending of book 1, I knew that there was no way that this story could be contained in one book. There was just too much story still to tell. It left me in a quandary. With story still to tell, at that moment, there wasn’t enough left to do a second book. So should I just make the one book longer or could I come up with enough story to create that second book? The first ended with well over 100,000 words approximately 370 pages in length. Just as a side note here, my goal for all my books are at least 100,000 words, and most have gone well beyond that word count. In the end, once both were written, Desperate to Survive ended up being longer than book 1 reaching approximately 425 pages.  Again it is in the Science Fiction genre, and is only available in the e-book format – all e-book formats. I have had one rating on this in Goodreads. The reader rated it 5 stars, so as a writer I cannot complain. Yet, I know that others cannot and will not rate it this highly. Still it was a pleasant surprise since none of us know how our works will be accepted and enjoyed. And with that here’s the beginning of Desperate to Survive.

Prologue

“Leader, I really do not understand this at all.” He paused for effect before continuing, “These new females that we have added to our herd, a good portion of them have been with us now for one cycle of the seasons, and not one is carrying offspring.”

Looking down before answering K’jor said, “I know, but you must remember that it hasn’t been for lack of trying. I know that most of the warriors have tried to breed with them, and once these new females realized that there would be no choice, they submitted. Of course there are a few that will fight it, but once these were made an example of, the rest allowed it. But you must remember that they are magicians. They have been able to hide unseen for who knows how long – I suspect generations if we really want to admit it. And I was hopeful that once we broke through and destroyed their magician lairs and ways that we would be able to reap riches that these must have had, and with the increase to our female herds it would mean that we would also have an increase in warriors to help us later to become the ones who would rule. And we surely ended up with enough females, even though most of the males are worthless as slaves. Once taken from those lairs of theirs, to work our fields and other places where we have need of their labor, they have died off quickly, and the ones that remain are almost not worth the effort or food to keep them around.

“Since the new females now understand has there been any further resistance from them when one of the males signals them for breeding?”

The second shook his head and said, “No, when any of our males gives the signal, then the female will stop what she is doing, undress and present herself, so that in itself is not an issue at all – especially when they have witnessed what happens when one of them refuses.”

Shaking his head in agreement the leader said, “Yes, yes, that does usually bring the rest around. Once they realize that refusal will change nothing, and that it will lead to punishment. Well, all we can do is continue to try, but since they are of a magic race, maybe these females are able to prevent the carrying. And on that subject, have they gotten over the idea that they are allowed to have names? It is something that I really do not understand. They are just one of the herd and as such they are not allowed that kind of individuality.  I just don’t know, and truthfully this whole thing has been much more complicated than I ever thought it would be. Just keeping the tribes and clans united for this fight, to locate, capture these magicians, and destroy their hidden lairs, has proven to be almost impossible. Especially since what we have found, in their cities, as they call them, there hasn’t been the bounty we expected or had promised. And now it has been a while since our last successful campaign, and I can see that the tribes and clans in the alliance are starting to become quite restless, and might even want to bring up the old scars, hatreds, and such, and begin to fight among themselves again. We need to find another one of those hidden cities, again as the magicians’ call them, or this may come apart.”

“It’s not for lack of trying, as in our attempt of successful breeding. We have patrols and scouting parties out, and now it appears that something has changed.” He paused again, not quite sure how to state it. S’lon took a deep breath and then said, “Okay, look, something has changed. I don’t know what. But somehow it appears that maybe they learned what’s happening. It’s the only explanation that I have.”

Looking up from his working area K’jor asked, “Changed? How so? Did we not plan these attacks down to almost perfection, and yes, I know plans fail once one goes into battle. But from the ones we conquered I do not believe that any escaped. So there was no way that word could have reached the other hidden lairs as to what has transpired. We have completely eliminated anybody who could have possibly carried the alarm. Even that one group that had escaped was destroyed in the Sacred Mountains. So what could have changed?”

At loss as how to explain, S’lon shrugged his shoulders, “Everything you have just stated is true. But I do not have any other way to explain it.” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly before continuing, “These lairs that we’ve conquered were not close to each other, and while the population in any one of them was greater than any one of our clans, or tribes, it still wasn’t large. So maybe there are only the few that we found.” Shaking his head he continued. “I mean how do we know just how many of these lairs are out there? And maybe, just maybe we have cleaned them out, and there are no more.”

Breathing deeply and loudly the leader said. “That is a possibility, but I have a gut feeling that there are more of these magicians out there, and until I have proof otherwise, we will continue to go after them.” With that he waved his hand at his second to leave. He had much to think about, and needed to come up with something to keep this alliance together.

Seeing the dismissal he turned and left, frustrated, as he really got no satisfactory answers to his many questions. But K’jor was very busy, and while it had been pleasurable to breed with the new stock, it was also very frustrating to see that none of these females were now carrying. Just what magic did they possess that they could prevent such a thing from happening anyway?

Chapter One

Saige looked across the hidden meadowlands as the morning light crested the extinct volcanic walls that surrounded them. With the clouds that hung in the sky and the suns rising, the clouds took on many colors, from a deep gray, and as it lightened, to a brilliant orange. If the situation wasn’t as desperate as it was, such a sight would be worth stopping and enjoying. But fall would be here and in the lowlands soon, and that would mean that the primitives once again should be looking towards winter and a possible break in the attacks. With the destruction of who knew how many cities since their desperate flight, when theirs had been one of cities lost to the primitives, they had been cut off, isolated ever since.  And he knew that none of the surviving cities had any idea as to why the ones that had been attacked had gone dark – silent as if they had never been. Whoever this leader of the united force was, he had been smart enough to make sure that no one left the attacked cities to warn the others – except their scouting unit, of course. And as far as the primitives knew they had been destroyed on their desperate flight, and the few that may have escaped had died in the Sacred Mountains.

He hoped that the team that he had left back at the Alpha or Alpha compound, complex, facility or however else they had identified this place, had figured out enough so that when he and this group returned that they would finally be able to make contact with any of the surviving cities – if there were any. It was hell not knowing. Yet at the same time he did not know what his small group could do anyway. Sighing and taking one more look around he could see that the rest were beginning to stir. It was time to get moving, to find where their ancestors had left this meadow to do their research among these primitives. Looking at the size of this bowl he shuddered with the thought of how it must have been in this area when this volcano had been active. It was only one of many, and it explained why the primitives had considered these mountains sacred, a place of their gods. It had to have been a spectacular and awe inspiring sight when they had erupted. He was quite thankful that all signs pointed to these as being extinct. He walked away from camp and relieved himself, and then on the way back in smelled the smoke of their cooking fire. He realized that he was quite hungry and his stomach growled in agreement. It needs to be today that we find the way in and out of this place. I truly did not realize the size of this valley. Probably would have been smarter to have had everyone out here looking. But Stone and Sorrel had stated that it was huge, in fact around 10 kilometers around the perimeter from their estimation. Still until one actually sees it – well I just didn’t realize it, that’s all. It really makes it a very large area to explore and find that elusive point where one can leave this place, and find that other exit out of these mountains.

On the previous day as they had worked their way across they had searched a number of likely places. But so far nothing had been found. There were a number of smaller cinder cones and many ridges and rises. With one area looking like a small town with the spires and blocks of broken lava, and another looked to be a small army in the distance. He had pictured in his mind a rolling meadow, not this broken rough land that surrounded them. Yet, he had to admit that what they were seeing made more sense than the images he had created in his mind. The history that they had been taught in their education centers had turned out to be false. It had been the discovery of this Alpha compound hidden deeply within the sacred mountains that had shattered that false history. Here they had learned that one of the strongest held beliefs that they were from this world dissolved away. This facility proved, for anyone who would doubt, that they were descendants of anthropologists, sociologists, scientists, geologists, the support staff, and the researchers – ones who had come here to study primitives, their societies, their interaction with one another, the planet, plant and animal life, and geology. But something had happened and they had become isolated. Their ancestors had decided to remain separate of the native population, and to hide from their sight, using the technology that they had to make their cities invisible, and to build them in inhospitable areas to make it even less likely that they would be discovered. It had worked for a few thousand annuals, but now something had changed and the cities were falling to these primitives.

Published in: on November 16, 2013 at 7:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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Time of Isolation

TOI Cover2Shameless offer number 2, Time of Isolation (ISNB 9781623091606). This is the 4th book that I wrote. By the time I began writing this one my skills had improved tremendously. Not that I claim to be the best writer out in this world. I only claim to be able to tell a good story, have my actors appear to be real, 3 dimensional, and ones that you, as a reader, care about. To have the world that I’ve created appear to actually exist and one, that as a reader, you can imagine within your mind’s eye. And on that subject, one of the difficulties that any writer has is the backstory. Something that never is actually written but allows us as writers or you as readers to see the history of the world we are creating. It is important to make the world that your actors live appear to be just that – lived in. It cannot seem to have just been born, with the actors just showing up, but must appear to have existed for a very long time.

In a sense, every time a new story is written, the culture, the environment, the existing situation must be created, giving the world a life of its own. It’s demonstrated by the interactions between the characters, the thoughts they have, and what is happening around them. As a reader we never think about these things, especially if the writer has done his or her job making it appear seamless. Yet, until that author had put his or her fingers on that keyboard, or pen to paper, or however they write, the world never existed. In a sense it is awe inspiring to realize that from literally nothing, to a living breathing world that has never existed until that moment, comes to life, because of that writer. Allowing us as readers to enjoy these creations.

Now where did this one come from, and the genre? It is Science Fiction, and it arrived on the scene through a dream. Of course, the final story is vastly different from that dream, but much of what I remembered from it became the basis of this story. I can still see those dream images in my mind when I think of this series. Another interesting fact about writing is to know when something will work and when it must be deleted. This series is proof of that, although, as a reader, one would never know. I had a pivotal scene that I held throughout the writing, knowing at what point it needed to be included. But, (Always that word somewhere along the line.) I realized as the story unfolded that it would not work and so I had to let it go and replace it with a different more critical scene, which is the one I actually included in the book series (actually this incident happens in book 2 of this series). Yes, I failed to mention the name of the series – “Survival”. Oh yes, forgot to include the ISNB# on last week’s offering -The Woman in the Snow. (ISBN 9781618427267)

All works presently are in the e-book format and available in all formats. As I stated last week I, as a writer, am presenting my published novels in time for Christmas. This story revolves around an unnamed planet orbiting a binary star system dealing with what is considered a fractured society. Their history states that in the past their society split with part of it disappearing into the desolation while war raged, leaving the ones who fought regressing back to a primitive state. While the ones who had relocated in the desolation held on to their technology and culture. It is at this future time that the story begins as problems begin to arise.

Prologue

Rumors continued to come from the North, followed by silence. Not the types of silence of a temporary kind, but of permanence that spoke of never hearing anything again. It was as if what always had been never was. How could that be? Theirs was a peaceful advanced society. Even though overall they were a small population, and quite spread out, their ability to communicate between their settlements eliminated any one settlement truly feeling isolated. But as the time flowed by them, one by one those lights and voices disappeared and were heard or seen no more. Each extinguished without an outward cry. Each without a sound leaving a darkness behind that was complete. Like when one turned out the lights at night or extinguished the candles or lanterns. There should have been something explaining why, anything would have been better than the deathly silence. It was time to act. It was time to find out what had happened to their brothers and sisters. What tragedy had befallen their people? How were they to go about it? So far any that had traveled in that direction were never heard from again. Something needed to be done, and somehow the puzzle that lay before them had to be solved, before they in their city also became no more.

Chapter 1

Sampson hurried along the thoroughfare trying to move as fast as his overweight body would allow. He needed to find his supervisor now. Unfortunately she was located completely on the opposite side of the communications complex. While he was in charge of his section, an underling, the news he had needed to be brought to Shana’s attention personally and could not be sent over the circuits. So by avoiding eye contact with the many others he passed, and breathing quite hard from the exertions, he continued to move with strong determination. It had happened again. This was the fourth time in the past annuals, and he was shocked when it had happened on his shift, with his team. Just what was going on? Finally nearing his destination he found that he was raising a sweat. He just hated sweating, but this time he had to endure it as well as making this contact with his boss. He had never liked Shana, but knew that he could never become a supervisor of her level. First, he was not one born into the proper order, and second he knew that he could never match the intelligence necessary to oversee such an operation as this.

Finally reaching her entrance he stopped, caught his breath and tried to calm down. These meetings were rare, and he preferred it that way. Then gathering his courage he entered and encountered Susan, the one who ran interference for the boss. Again he had never liked her either, as it seemed that she always put on an air of superiority around any who were lower or worked under Shana. “Susan, I need to have a conversation with Supervisor Shana, and no before you ask, this cannot wait.”

Looking down at him she said, “Who are you to just barge in here? You do not have any right to demand anything, ah . . . let’s see . . . underling supervisor Sampson. Do I have it right?”

When she said these things it seemed as if she was attempting to get something out of her mouth such as a bad taste. Shaking his head he could tell that things were going from bad to worse. But what could he do? What he had was critical and they had been told that if another incident happened that he, or any of the under supervisors, had to go to their supervisors immediately and inform no one but them. He wasn’t even supposed to inform the underworkers for the lead supervisors. It was to be for their eyes and ears only. Carefully holding his anger in control he gritted his teeth and said. “Yes, you have it right. I must see Lead Supervisor Shana now without delay.”

“Without delay? What is it that could be so important from your minor position that could even require a minute of Supervisor Shana? Her time is always filled, so, if you please, make an appointment and come back later. You are interrupting my work and I for one will not allow you to interrupt hers. Now get out of here before I report you!”

About this time Lead Supervisor Shana hearing the loud conversation in the outer office went to investigate. Catching the ending conversation from her underworker, and seeing one of the under supervisors from the communications section, she became curious. Underworker Susan catching the gaze of Sampson turned and saw Shana there and started apologizing for interrupting her work and that she had everything in control and this minor supervisor was just leaving. Why was he here? Then she saw that under supervisor Sampson was looking intently at her. She also knew that he had never liked her, so again why was he here? Looking directly at him Shana asked. “Under supervisor Sampson may I inquire, why are you here?”

Again looking directly at her, he was at a loss for words. The directive had been explicit, nothing could be said to any others just his boss. “I have something that must be given to you, but only to you.” He stammered.

“What’s so important that it couldn’t be communicated over the circuits?” Then she saw a troubled look on his face, and indecision there. Yet at the same time a look that said that he would not give up on this.

“Ma’am, this has to do with the most recent directives that said that if a specific circumstance or event happened that I or any of the other under supervisors must report in person, immediately without delay, and I for one am not going to violate such a mandate. I am here as it requests.”

Shaking her head, she had really never liked this under supervisor. She had never liked people who had let themselves go like this. He seemed fat and lazy, and seemed to be the type that used the rules and regulations strictly as written – never bending or thinking outside what was there, one with little imagination, yet one who did what was necessary and kept his underworkers to task – one which caused as little friction as possible. “Which of the many mandates would this one be, under supervisor Sampson?” With so many coming out she never had time to read many of them anyway, depending on her staff to keep her informed.

Now what, Sampson thought, the mandate had been specific. No one but his supervisor could hear what he had to say. Then he remembered that if there was a situation like this, that he could specify a color to let her know. Now if only he could remember the color. Blue! Blue was that color. “Ma’am, ah color it blue.” Was all he said.

When he stated the color, she immediately paused. He had given her a code color that reflected an emergency of some kind and could be private and for her eyes and ears only. She then turned to her underworker and said, “Under Supervisor Sampson may enter.” She then turned around and went back inside of her office wondering now what could be so important for him to have used that code. She didn’t have to wait long as he entered her office right behind her. “I don’t have much time, what is it that is so important?”

“Ma’am, do you have this room secured for silence? The directive said that before this information was to be given that all security features must be activated.”

Sitting back down at her desk, she motioned him to a seat, and then pushed a few buttons. “Okay, I have activated the security. Again what is it that required you to use the code word?”

Not quite sure how to continue he hesitated and then said. “Ma’am we’ve lost communications with another city. It has gone silent without warning. We have tried for the required amount of time to reestablish contact, but like the others it is like it never was.”

Silent and shocked at what had just been relayed to her, many questions went through her mind. Was it just a temporary loss or was this going to be like the others? Which one this time and what truly was going on? If it were confirmed then this would be the fourth city lost. She slumped her shoulders and then asked, “Which City have we lost contact with?” “Terra ma’am. It is one of our larger cities and had many a backup, especially in communications. But without warning it went silent and we have been trying now for hours to reestablish contact, but all we get is silence and static.”

Published in: on November 9, 2013 at 7:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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Blog Exta – Accountability and Lies

Opinion. As more is revealed about the anything but, Affordable Care Act, it is obvious that it will destroy this country. Yet, the ones who promote it continue to lie, claiming it is the best thing since sliced bread, and that it will save the citizens money when compared to their present plans, and that they will be able to keep their personal doctors, and on and on. Yet as more is revealed, it becomes obvious that the opposite is the truth. If you really think about it and the impact that it is having and will continue to have, there is a great chance that this could destroy this country. The ramifications of this act are unbelievable.

The ones who promote this and the ones who voted for this act should be brought up on charges of criminal negligence, and deliberate lying to the American People. Claims that they have made, such as “you can keep your own doctor”, is false and they know it is false. In fact the negative impact that this is beginning to show, and will only get worse, has been known by these same politicians who keep pushing this down our throats, for at least 3 years. Three years, and they continue to push the same rhetoric, smiling, promising all will be fine and this will save you tons of money over what you are paying presently.

These statements are so full of bull, that even hip waders wouldn’t protect you from what they are throwing around. And they stay behind their protected walls legislating themselves out the necessity that they be required to abide by this act. In my own case, as a retiree, I have seen rates for my health plan climb by $70 a month and the co-pay go from $10 per visit to $40 – all attributed to the Affordable Health Care Act – ALL OF IT. These figures do not include other increases to medicines, and services that were once affordable and now are not, or the services that have to be curtailed because it is now illegal for the health services to perform. All will lose because of this act, well, except for those exempt, who get it free, and the politicians who enacted this in the first place. Oh have you noticed that they refuse to take responsibility for their actions trying to blame it away on someone else?

Small businesses are the hardest hit as they cannot either afford the insurance costs or the penalties. One such company, for example, once the costs were figured, determined that it would cost them $400,000 a year, more than what their bottom line is. And if you look at this in a different light, it is forcing many young people, who have no desire for health care, to go to the exchanges and pick it up or else pay a penalty for not having coverage. Where is your right to choose, where is your freedom of choice?

What does this do to the bottom line for every American? Economics. It comes down to how it will affect you on every level. As stated earlier, the ones who continue to push this have known for at least 3 years that you will be forced, eventually to the government plan, and that the high costs of this Act were not even close to what they have stated, and that whatever you have now, will be gone because the act will force you to leave your plan, the one that you are quite happy with, and force you to theirs. This means that you will have less money to cover your costs, to be able to keep that shelter over your head, to keep food on your table. And if it is that way for you, how will it affect businesses? To survive they must take into account every penny and how the costs affect their bottom line. There must be enough monies coming in to cover expenses, plus a little more so that they can continue to survive. But with the overwhelming increase in medical costs this ACA is bringing to the table their prices will have to go up. Meaning that you, as the consumer, may now be priced out of something you desperately need.

So companies are trying to survive by reducing the costs where they can or die. And one of those places is labor. Move labor to part-time, which means that you, as the worker, now do not have a full-time job and must look elsewhere for a second job just to keep your own family afloat, and yet now spend more money on health care that once was covered by your employer because the government demands it. And if you don’t, they will take it anyway. So any way you look at it – you lose. What needs to be asked is this; who gains from all of this? Who are the ones who will benefit? And when you find the answers it is not surprising that it comes right back to the ones who backed this law in the first place. Elections are today – let’s begin the change now.

Personally I am so tired of this liberalism that is running rampant in this country right now. I am seeing laws passed by state governments that any sane person would never allow. It’s like the ones who are in the insane asylum have taken control, and all of the crazy ideas have become the reality. It’s like the kindergarteners are now running the school. This must end or this country will. It seems that stupidity is running supreme and unfortunately they are the ones who are running things. We are seeing the results of this, so let’s end this insanity, and get them out of office. Elections are here and in the future, and if your representative has not represented you, vote him or her out, and get someone in there who will bring us more to center. Do this or this country is doomed to die, with you watching helplessly from the sidelines.

Finally Obama Care or the ACA must die a fitful death and be repealed. If not then We the People are finished as well as this nation.

Published in: on November 5, 2013 at 8:27 am  Comments (3)  
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The Woman in the Snow

Mt Hood on the Road 2It’s November and with Christmas just around the corner it is time for authors to shamelessly promote their own works. Since I’m a self-published writer and not rich by any means, all offerings are presently in the e-book format. Whatever your reader there’s a version of these books in that format. Every aspect of the books are created by me. This includes the cover design, the first few pages and obviously the story. I use Book Baby to convert and distribute the e-books. And I’ll start this pitch with the 3rd book that I’ve written. Plus I’ll give a little history how the book came about, and the why certain things may be included. This first offering is in the genre of contemporary women Christian fiction. It is a story of a single woman in her mid-twenties who finds herself lost trying to survive in the wilderness with no survival skills.

If any have visited my website, fdbrant.com, it is known that I write in 2 genres – Christian Fiction, and Science Fiction, with most written in the latter. In fact I have 6 of the 7 books I’ve written in the latter. In reality it is because the 6 are a part of two series – presently with 3 books in each. I know that many out in the real world, not the fictional worlds we writers create, have a desire to write their own novel someday, but that someday never arrives. I’ve been fortunate to be able to have that someday arrive for me, but, again, as the ones who follow know, it took retiring to do it. Yet, I have to admit that once I started writing I’ve never looked back. My original goals overall were to write 8 novels, and I’m well on the way to that goal, being only one short. And at 64 I should have a number of novels still in me.

I know that at the beginning when I wrote my first novel that reaching such a goal didn’t necessarily appear to be realistic, but I found that as I continued, the stories presented themselves, and I felt the need to write them. A funny thing happens when I’m writing – normally 5 days a week, with a goal of 1000 words a day – the actors, the fictitious characters become real. I find that I care for them, and even though as the writer I may put them through hell, so to speak, I find that I become emotionally attached to each and every one of them. After all, If I didn’t care for them how could I expect the reader to care? It wouldn’t surprise me to go down a street someday and run into them. So as I put Cathy, the protagonist of this story, through her troubles, and each obstacle she faces that I could see her live through every moment with her fumbling attempts to survive. After all, she is from the city, loves the city, and prefers to see the wilderness through the window of her car as she passes through.

So where did the story come from? I know that all are just waiting breathlessly for an answer to that important question (subtle humor here). To be honest personal history has much to do with what goes into the stories. Like most, I have a varied past with many jobs and places that I have lived. All have some influence in one way or the other. And this came about because of a piece of music by Paul Cardall. He is a pianist who has numerous instrumental albums available. When the story came to mind the title I chose just worked, and with what was happening to Cathy it fit. When I heard that piece of music the whole story was there instantly. All that needed to happen at this point, simply stated, it just needed to be written. And if you think about it, you never know where your inspiration will come from. Also this is not a chapter book. Instead it is a timeline book. My writing style is what I call meanwhile back at the ranch. This allows the reader to follow multiple paths through the story.

In any situation where a writer is writing about the opposite sex it is important to get feedback from the opposite sex to be sure that how that person is acting or reacting in your story is consistent with that opposite sex. So, much of what I wrote, I continually asked my wife if it rang true. In this book I deal with a particular subject that many women have difficulty talking about. Yet, it is included for those who have never faced the wilderness and one way to handle that need. I know that when I had the first 25 pages reviewed, one of the reviewers who was a woman, considered it over the top. Still, it is in the story because I felt it important.

Of course the first draft was not what eventually became the retail copy that is out there and available. I edited and revised the story 8 times from the beginning to the end, and the final reading, before release, is done by my wife, who catches all that I miss. So actually, with her read through of the story, it was edited and revised over 9 times. Of course if I had written it now, with the additional experience from the others I have written since this one, I suspect that it would be better. No that’s not true, I know that it would be better – not that it is poorly written by any means. Yet, as one practices a craft one should improve. So when looking back one can see one’s personal growth and where, in earlier writings, improvements can be made. Below is the beginning of the story and of Cathy’s ordeal. She is an unbeliever who must face her unbelief as she fights for her survival. And I leave you with this; in any survival situation the question that is on your mind is, are you going to survive this, and if you don’t what are your regrets?

                                                                      Saturday

She slowly woke up and found herself in an awkward position, had she fallen out of bed?
What had awakened her anyway? Then she realized that it was very dark and very cold, and it appeared that she was dressed. So she couldn’t be in her room. At the same time she realized that her bladder was aching. Maybe that was what had brought her to life. She shifted a little and then realized that just about every muscle in her body hurt. What did I do? As she shifted something moved across her chest, and then she realized that it was a seatbelt. Had she been in an accident and had she been knocked unconscious? That thought almost caused her to panic.

Then it came back to her in a flash. That probably was exactly what had happened. She remembered driving down the remote backcountry road eager to get where she was going, and realized that the sky had become ominous, as it appeared that a new snowstorm was approaching rapidly. She could sense that it was getting colder. The storm was something she hadn’t expected or prepared for. After all one had just ended and it was very late in the winter so she thought that the one that had just left was the final storm. So she was eager to get on the road and see her fiancé who was ending a semester in college and lived just about a day away.

Looking at the developing storm she became worried, and then she had hit that black ice which immediately sent her car spinning. She remembered desperately trying to get the car back in control and saw the edge coming up quickly. She screamed when she saw that there was no way she was going to stop the car from leaving the road. She felt the car fly off the road and knew that she was in the air. Grabbing the steering wheel desperately she braced herself and found that she put out a quick prayer to be safe. Now if she didn’t hurt as much as she did she would have laughed. While her family, and even her fiancé were Christians, deep in their faith, she thought it was stupid, something that belonged to those first century people. It had nothing to do with anyone who had any ability to truly think. After all these religions had all been created when man had created gods to solve things they did not comprehend or understand.

So why did I pray? She remembered her dad stating that there were no unbelievers in the foxhole, and thought maybe when she faced a possibility of death that she like those soldiers just reached out. Well as far as she could see she was alive, but how long had she been unconscious? “Well, Cath’ you really did it this time. After all didn’t mom and dad warn you not to leave, as there could easily be another storm. But no you just would not listen . . . you just had to go impatiently really wanting to see Keith.” Cathy looking around continued talking to herself, “Now my impatience has put me here, and I don’t even know where here is?”  She knew that her parents had always told her that her impatience would get her into serious trouble some day. But she always had just laughed it off and would say that it never had so she didn’t think that it ever would. But now the reality of the situation hit her and she knew that finally it had come back to haunt her. She was in serious trouble and there was a great chance that she could still die out here.  She could feel the panic climbing inside of her again, and had to fight to keep in control. If she panicked it would be over.

Then she found herself shaking and she started to cry as the emotion of what had just happened surfaced. It lasted only a couple of minutes, but she felt somewhat better. It was really dark, so very dark, and she really hadn’t tried to move as of yet. But knew that shortly she would have to. It was her bladder that had brought her back to consciousness. So she must have been unconscious for a few hours. The next thing she realized was that her pants were wet, and wondered if maybe her period had started. Then realized that it really couldn’t have been since she had ended just two weeks earlier. Although the dampness she felt was similar, and just as uncomfortable as if she had started. She then thought that maybe the soda she had been drinking that was in the center console spilled on her during the accident. But again feeling the console she found the large cup still there. So how did she get wet? Well the only explanation was simply that in the fear and panic of the crash she had wet herself . . . probably not a surprise. She then smiled a little as it brought up that comment that many mothers always made, “Make sure that you have on clean underwear just in case you get into an accident”. She suspected that what had happened to her probably was a common occurrence, so it wouldn’t have mattered.

How long had she been unconscious? She just didn’t know. Looking around in the darkness she thought, I guess I had better try and open the door to see just where I am. Reaching down for the door handle she gritted her teeth in pain. As she slowly moved it seemed that she hurt just about everywhere. This panicked her again as she thought maybe that it was blood and not urine she was feeling. But as she checked herself out she could find nothing that would indicate an open wound. So her conclusion about wetting herself was probably the most accurate. Gingerly she again reached for the door handle and tried to open the door. It wouldn’t budge. She knew that the car must have ended far down the embankment before coming to rest, as she remembered that there had been a large drop off where she went off the road. There were many large trees, and if she remembered right a stream that ran under the roadway at this point.

At least she was thankful that her car hadn’t landed in the stream. If it had she probably would have either drowned or died from exposure. While it was cold inside the car it was at least bearable. She then realized the car was slanted with the passenger side of the car uphill and her side downhill. Could the car continue to slide? Could she still end up in the water? With those thoughts the panic tried to rise again, but again she fought it down. The next thought was – why is it so dark?  About this time that bladder reminded her that she needed to take care of that need or it might just take care of it itself. She leaned forward and realized that she still had the seat belt on and could feel the deflated airbag. These were probably the reasons she was still alive, and presently she seemed to be trapped inside her car.

“Well, I guess I had better see if I can move . . . hmm . . . ouch!” She really did hurt, but again checking herself over there didn’t appear to be anything broken just the soreness in every muscle and joint. She was now sure that if she could look herself over that most likely she would be black and blue just about everywhere. “Okay, I guess I had better start trying to get into the back seat. From there I can drop down part of the seat and reach into the trunk and get something to change into so I am not in anything wet. I think staying in such things with this weather would not be smart.” Yet the thought of moving and bringing the pain back was something she did not look forward too. But at the same time just sitting here would not be helpful either. Finally getting up the courage to move she said. “Okay, just take it slow girl, just don’t make any quick moves and then it might not hurt so much.”

Suddenly in her mind flashed the 23rd Psalm, “Now where did that come from?” She asked herself. Then she remembered that her mother had loved plaques and had them all over the house. Each had some scripture written on them. She had seen them all her life and probably had unconsciously memorized each and every one of them. This plaque was by the front door leading out of the house so that it would be a reminder to all of them when they entered into the world. “I guess in a way it is something appropriate at this time, but there just isn’t any god, and if I am going to survive this I will have to just do it on my own, and hope someone finds me soon.”

Published in: on November 2, 2013 at 8:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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