You Know The Drill

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I was sitting in German class when the siren started ringing. It was a familiar sound since the riots began a few weeks ago. Ten years ago it would’ve been used to signal a tornado touchdown in the area, but now it meant a riot.  There was no way of knowing exactly where it was happening. It might be in a lecture hall or the University Commons building. It could be all the way across campus a half-mile away or right next door.

“You know the drill class,” Professor Kurz instructed. He moved to lock the door and stuffed a chair under the handle as an added protection. HIs hands shook as he tried to unlock the filing cabinet and dropped the keys to the floor instead. He retrieved the gun but the way he held did not inspire confidence.

All the professors had recently undergone gun safety training and been issued a standard handgun for emergency situations like this. I hoped the professor had paid attention during the instruction.

There were only two girls taking Intermediate German II, myself and Leann. I suppose German language wasn’t as popular as Spanish or French. We took our places in the back of the room and the boys in the class formed a protective circle around us with their bodies. 

“It should never have gotten this bad,” he said. The tremor in his voice made my anxiety level rise. He looked at us undisguised fear. At that moment I thought the chance that he ran for it instead of staying to protect us was 50/50. “They should have closed the school until all this was sorted out.” 

My parents agreed with Professor Kurz but I’d been stubborn.”I live on campus, Mom, and my classes are right next door to the dorms. I’m not sick and neither is my roommate. All those riots are taking place in downtown Savannah, no one cares about Georgia Southern University.”

At the time it seemed logical. I knew that there were cases of LVN1 in other parts of the country and that people were angry about the loss of loved ones. Rioting and looting had started once the death toll got to a certain point but that was in places like New York, California or Chicago. Georgia as a whole hadn’t experienced much of the sickness so far and no one was causing trouble in Statesboro.

Except now they were.

Professor Kurz dialed a number on his cell phone and the operator answered just as shouting and doors slamming interrupted his response.

“Scheisse!” he swore

“911 What’s your emergency.” The woman on the other end of the phone asked.

Gunshots answered her and we all screamed in alarm. Leann reached out for my hand and we clutched each other. I tried to put on a brave face for her.

A cute curly-haired boy who normally sat near me in class turned around to reassure us. “Don’t worry Selena, I won’t let anyone take you.” He pulled something metallic out of his backpack and clicked off the safety. He seemed strangely more confident with the firearm than her professor. Junior ROTC maybe?

Broken glass, more shouting, and a solid thud as someone violently kicked the door to our classroom.

Professor Kurz fired through the doorway.

The Elegant Prison

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As soon as we turned down Henry Street it was as if we’d crossed over into another country or maybe even another time period. The oak trees with their Spanish moss had been replaced by asphalt. An eight-foot-tall fence surrounded the perimeter with razor wire adorning the top. When we parked and walked up to the guardhouse I could hear a faint hum as we approached.

I’d heard the stories but nothing prepared me for the beauty of the S.A.F.E campus. It was a sprawling 7,000 acre green with several elegant buildings of various sizes and connecting walkways decorated with trees and shrubs. The design of the central building felt modern and European in contrast with the rest of the historic southern architecture of Savannah. It had amazing panoramic windows that looked inviting and I was amazed despite the fact that I know what went on behind those glistening walls.

“Don’t touch the fence,” my guardian warned unnecessarily.

The security at the entrance waved us through the gate and my guardian, who I referred to as simply bastard grabbed me by the sleeve of my sundress. “No fucking around in here today, okay?”

I had been in the program for only a year and hadn’t yet learned the value of “doing my duty.”

I shook my head. “I never asked for any of this.”

His grip tightened on my arm. “We rescued you, remember? You would have died if not for our intervention.”

“You have no way of knowing that.”

Bastard’s hand went back like he meant to strike me and I instinctively jerked away, he’d hit me so many times it was now an ingrained reflexive response.

He’d had never heard the phrase, “you get more flies with honey than vinegar,” because his approach was always vinegar.

 

 

 

Drag Queens as Mood Enhancers

This is a public service announcement!

Did you know that watching multiple episodes of Rupaul’s Drag Race has the effect as mood-altering drugs or alcohol? Well maybe not exactly but it definitely gives me a more positive outlook on life after watching. Something about the transformation of those guys and the artistry and effort involved in their face painting is a source of inspiration while being endlessly entertaining. Also the “reading challenges” are helping me with my comeback skills.

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Amazon Prime offers Drag Race seasons 1-10 for FREE. *Insert tongue pop.* Yes, Alyssa Edwards is my favorite. My boyfriend and I have been watching old episodes daily and since then I’ve seriously “stepped my pussy up.”

 

Avoiding Clichés (Dark, Stormy and Other Lessor Discussed Banalities) All writers know the cliché: “It was a Dark and Stormy Night…” and we all know not to use it (with the exception of Edward Bulwer-Lytton and Snoopy’s alter-ego, The World Famous Author). It has become so cliché, that the only acceptable time for the words […]

via Orca Blog for September: Clichés —

Found this Gem-Orca Blog for September: Clichés —

The Witcher is my Everything

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There’s a reason why The Witcher is such a great video game, a fantastic new Netflix series, and an even better book series! The story is exciting, the characters are multi-dimensional, well developed flawed individuals, each with a very distinct voice. When I’m reading this book series I can hear the ring of Geralt’s silver sword as he pulls it free, I can feel his fifty-yard stare that promises a quick death to whatever he’s looking at. When someone does magic nearby and his Witcher medallion goes flat against his chest I feel a heaviness against my chest!!

I’ve read plenty of 900-page high fantasy novels and some novels about assassins, but never a novel focusing on a white-haired mutant monster assassin. I don’t know if the idea is that original or if it’s maybe the fact that author Andrezej Sapowski is Polish and has a different writing style, but the Witcher series doesn’t feel like anything else I’ve read in this genre. With that being said, the prequel, The Last Wish, wasn’t so great to me.

I picked up the Last Wish simply because I loved the video game series so much. The novel itself felt like a video game. It was Geralt going on one quest after another hunting various monsters with no apparent overarching story. It felt so disjointed with chapters not flowing naturally into one another that I didn’t plan on buying The first novel, “The Blood of The Elves. Luckily my boyfriend gave me the first three books as a present. I’m so glad I gave this series a second chance! I’m now on book 4 and I haven’t enjoyed a fantasy series so much since I first discovered The Wheel of Time twenty years ago.  I’ve also watched the Netflix series twice from beginning to end. I cannot get enough of Henry Cavil and the beautiful way he brought Geralt of Rivia to life.

So that was my rant about how much I love The Witcher. If you love an open-world RPG with a rich storyline line and tons of sidequest play The Wild Hunt. If you can’t wait until next year to see what happens to Geralt, Ciri and Yennefer buy The Witcher books and be ahead of all your friends. And if your name happens to be Henry Cavil, can I borrow that white wig? PLEASE??

 

Bomb of Mercy

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Jacob, whose name had once been Charlie, rode in the back of a borrowed Sedan with his brothers. As they drove down Abercorn he couldn’t help but note how few cars there were on the road. Gas was getting more expensive and people could hardly afford to drive anymore. They passed groups of people with backpacks walking together, some running. Some attacking others over what was in their packs.

“Things are getting worse,” Father Andrew said from the driver’s seat. “Jacob, how many women have you seen since we’ve been driving?”

He knew the answer before Jacob responded and was likely trying to make some point.  “I haven’t seen any females on the road today, or on foot. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve seen any females in the last week.”

“And why do you think that is, my son?”

“They’ve all been called home,” brother Thomas said from beside him.

“I asked, Jacob.” Father Andrew said with a warning in his voice.

There were times when having Father Andrew’s attention on you was like the sun shining through clouds on a dreary day, and other times when he felt the man’s gaze to be a physical assault that speared him right through the chest.

“Most of them are sick. I would say they’re all crowding the hospitals.”

That was the correct answer. Father Andrew smiled.

“The females are sick, they’re suffering in fact.” He stopped at a red light and pretended not to see the two men beating each other over a ration kit on the corner of the street.

“We must pray for them,” Thomas chimed in.  He made the sign of the cross across his chest. He had been Catholic before his conversion and hadn’t rid himself of all the habits. Thomas was more optimistic than most despite how hopeless a situation seemed.

“Yes, we shall pray for them indeed, but God also helps those that help themselves. We have a duty to those suffering females and to those that aren’t yet fallen ill.”

Father Andrew turned on Waters Avenue and Jacob realized where they were going. He hadn’t said anything when they’d loaded the car that morning, it wasn’t Jacob’s right to question his motives.

An airfield Jeep rolled past the and Father gestured to their handkerchiefs around their necks. “Put them on now, boys. As a precaution.”

Jacob and his brother Thomas did as they were told. He felt a growing weight in his belly as they drew near the hospital. The big brick sign that once read, “Memorial Health,” was now missing a few letters and read “Memor Heal.” The authorities never caught whoever vandalized the sign.

Instead of turning right into its parking lot, Father Andrew turned left and pulled into the lot with CVS Pharmacy across the street. The CVS had closed long ago due to vandals and looters – its windows permanently boarded up with spray-painted profanity over the boards.

Father Andrew parked the car and turned off the engine. He turned around to face them both, a somber look on his pale blue eyes. “It’s up to men like us to take hold of this situation. We have to be the ones to put an end to everyone’s suffering. The scientists can’t stop the disease, those soldiers at Hunter can’t stop the violence.”

Jacob looked at Thomas, and tried to keep the fear from his eye’s He’d only converted one month ago but Thomas had been around much longer. Jacob thought that in time he would gain the perspective and outlook on life that Thomas seemed to have. “Do you need a volunteer, father?”

“I knew you’d understand, my boy. Thank you for your dedication to our cause.” He got out of the car and popped the trunk to retrieve something.

Jacob was alone with Thomas for a moment. “You will never forget this day, my brother. You will be my witness.” He clapped his hand on Jacob’s shoulder and gripped it tight. He pulled a strand of beads from around his neck and gave them to Jacob. “Keep these safe for me.”

Jacob was only fifteen and had lost his own father so recently he’d come to look up to Thomas as an adopted big brother. No matter what bad thing had happened, he’d had Thomas there to talk him through it. He reached out with both hands and hugged the man who he’d come to accept as his family. “Do you have to go? It’s so dangerous with the soldiers guarding the doors.”

Thomas smiled and shook his head. “It’s alright, the Lord is with me. You will see me again.” Without saying goodbye Thomas exited the backseat and exchanged muffled words with Father Andrew. Father Andrew gave him something small that he placed in his pocket and took off across the street toward the hospital. He passed right through the soldiers in the parking lot who typically parked in front of the ER doorway. Thomas turned and looked right at them and waved.

Jacob clutched the beads tightly in his hand, it’s little wooden cross dug into his palm, but he didn’t notice the pain.

Something was wrong.

The soldiers were shouting and running toward his brother. Why did they have so much hate?

He opened his car door when Father Andrew snapped, “Stay where you are.” He started the car’s engine and pulled out of the lot heading aback toward Abercorn. As they passed by the back of Memorial and Jacob finally had a clear view of the ER side, Father Andrew held up a small remote and depressed its single button.

The world went mad with fire and fury, Jacob screamed, and Father Andrew drove the car.

Writing Podcast Recommendation

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Not everyone gets to work from home, and I for one HATE spending two hours of every day in a car doing nothing but driving. In an effort to make this time useful, I’ve started listening to a writing podcast during my commute to work and back.

Writing Class Radio is something I discovered after doing a quick search for “writing podcasts.” The podcast is currently in its 8th season and is produced by two women  who also teach writing workshops and classes. Their blog is quite extensive and has a wealth of information for budding authors. AND, they accept submissions that will be read on the podcast if chosen!

From what I’ve seen they mostly work with non-fiction personal essays, which is not my favorite thing to write but I’ve oddly had success with non-fiction. My very first published story was something I submitted to a magazine called “True Romance” for their “confessions” section. I have to say that this one seven page non-fiction short story made me more money than the novel I self-published in 2011.

Even though my first submission was unsuccessful with Writing Class Radio, I don’t intend to give up. They advertise payment for stories chosen in the amount of $50-$100. They pay a higher amount for stories that have never been published elsewhere.

Here’s the link for their website where you can find the guidelines listed: http://www.writingclassradio.com/

They recommend listening to a few episodes before sending in a sub. Make your commute a little more meaningful, listen to the podcast and submit your shiiiiit!

 

 

 

 

Treasures Await

Sometimes I’m bereft of something to read, because I’m particular. If a story doesn’t span at least three separate books, with each one being a minimum of 500 pages, I’m not interested. So when I’m between epic fantasy stories, waiting for the newest installment to come out, or waiting for the newest installment to be offered in paperback, I have to find alternatives.

Enter the used bookstore. I consider combing through used bookstores to be the equivalent to digging for buried treasure. I have discovered authors I’ve never heard of and old fantasy saga’s I’d never heard of.  This was how I originally discovered, “The Wayferer Redemption, series by Sara Douglas, which I highly recommend.

My latest find was a book called “Amped” By Daniel Wilson. After my trade in at Liberty Books in downtown Lawrenceville, GA, this little gem cost me only $2. There’s so satisfying about finding a good deal and entertaining myself at the same time.

If you live in our around Lawrenceville, I recommend Liberty Books. They’ve got a massive selection and although I feel the Romance section is larger than anyone wants/needs, the Science Fiction / Fantasy section is decent. The only drawback to this place is that it isn’t open on Sundays, which I find highly annoying. I never have anything to do on Sundays and this would be the perfect place to waste some time browsing books. Do you hear that Liberty Books? Open on Sundays and get more of my money!

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Drop Zone

Yukiru crept through the alleys between squares, trying to avoid everyone on the street. Every time she heard voices or shoes slapping against pavement, she flattened herself against a wall and held her breath, the only sound was the growling of her stomach. She hadn’t eaten anything in two days, and her body wasn’t letting her forget it. Her formerly skin tight jeans sagged off of her waist and she’d had to use a belt to hold them up. She wore sneakers made for cross country running in case she had to make a hasty retreat. She just hoped she had the energy to run when the time came.

Sometimes the FEMA drop zones got wild with people fighting over food. A month ago they used trucks to make the deliveries but those were too easily overrun with rogue gangs of angry citizens. The city had organized regular patrols of soldiers from Hunter Army Airfield and they had helped with containing the violence but there simply weren’t enough of them to go around.It was dangerous to journey into downtown, but Yukiru had no other choice.

An army jeep rolled past her packed with troops holding their weapons. They packed tear gas as well in case another food riot broke out. She knew they would be heading toward the drop zone.  One of them saw her and said something to the soldier next to him in the truck, but thankfully they didn’t stop. The sound of the helicopter in the distance got louder, too close. She didn’t have much time. Groups of people ran past with backpacks or cloth grocery bags, all intent on making it to the drop before everything was taken. There was no use in hiding now, she would need to run the rest of the way to get there in time to claim one of the emergency kits.

As she takes her first step toward Johnson Square a hand slaps over her mouth and pulls her backward. “Don’t scream,” he whispered.

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Yukiru fought down the urge to scratch and bite the man. He whispered so close to her face and she smelled old coffee and cheese on his breath.

“I’m not going to hurt you, if you cooperate.” His left hand caressed her side wrested at her hip where it squeezed her firmly. “ Are you going to cooperate?”

She nodded her head. He trailed the tip of a knife down her back and reached under her t-shirt slicing her bra off in one quick stroke. He’s done this before. He slipped a hand inside her shirt and squeezed her left breast. His fingers were callused and rough like sandpaper.

He pushed her face against the red brick wall, the sharp edges cutting into her check. She heard him sound of him unzip his pants. Will he kill me after? Maybe it would be better if he did. She shook all over with fear. “W-Why do are you doing this?”

He laughed a little at the question, grabbed a fistful of her hair and yanked her head backward. “Because I can.” He licked the side of her face and when his tongue slipped into her ear like a fat wet slug she couldn’t stifle a scream.

With her eyes squeezed tight she hadn’t noticed the other man approach. One moment rough fingers were tugging at her jeans, and they next they stopped. Her eyes snapped open.

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The sound behind her was a combination gasp and gurgle. She turned around to see her attacker was slumped backwards and lifeless in the arms of another man holding a knife of his own. He let the body of her would-be rapist fall to the ground like a sack full of rocks.

The hooded man came closer and gave the body a severe kick to the back. He looked at her and she could see pale green eyes staring back from the hood. “Did he hurt you?” he asked.

She shook her head. “No, are you going to?”

“No, but you should go home,” he advised. “It’s not safe for a female alone on the streets anymore, even during daylight.”

She looked down at her shoes, ashamed of being so foolish. “I know, but I was so hungry.”

The hooded man shrugged out of the backpack he wore and retrieved something in a wrapper. It was a peanut butter and chocolate protein bar, “Here, take this.”

Yukiru reached for the food and their fingertips touched for just a moment. She tore the wrapper off and took three successive bits of the protein bar as if she thought someone might take it from her.

“We need to get out of here before someone notices the body.”

“Lead the way,” she said and in that moment realized she was putting her faith in the hands of a man she’d never met.

Sketch mastery rendered by the phenomenal Tadd Trueb Designer and Person