Beyond The Trope Interview – Denver Comic Con 2016

A Beyond The Trope Podcast. (Image by By Badseed [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

A Beyond The Trope Podcast. (Image by By Badseed [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

When I attended Denver Comic Con 2016, I was thrice interviewed. The first posted interview was with Reel Nerds, and this one is with Beyond The Trope. In this interview I am grouped with C. R. Richards and Sue Duff. I’m the middle, or second interview.

Beyond The Trope Interview.

It runs 40:17.

Or…you can listen to just my interview below. It runs 11:35.

Early in my interview I say that I don’t write about “monsters”…which is sorta true: in my novels I don’t write about fantastical monsters…though I do write about the human kind. However…in my short stories, I have written about them! Sooo, sorry about the lie. It was Denver Comic Con. It was crazy.

I have one more DCC 2016 interview, with Solikeyouknow.com (SLYKRadio). They will contact me when that podcast is available.

Thanks, Beyond The Trope! Had a blast!

Related Articles

Casa

Sometimes You Really Can Return Home. (Image by By Chris Light [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Sometimes You Really Can…. (Image by By Chris Light [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

Yet another (short) story I don’t remember ever having written, 16 years ago. The plight of the separated. War. Redemption. Perhaps it’s more of a “meditation” on the separation of two souls. The inspiration is obvious…and, in today’s world, all-too-common, unfortunately.

Why is it that there is the “evil that men do”? If there is more good in the world, why can’t we redirect our collective energies and rid the world of this “evil”?

That, I firmly believe, lies within each of us. We may think it lies with “other people”…but in reality, it lies within each of us not only to answer those questions, but to bring about the better world that we all give so much lip service to.

But this story is not about that. It’s about two souls…forced apart.

This story has never been published.

 

Casa

© F. P. Dorchak, 2000

 

There comes a time in everyone’s life when you must face the music.

To think back to your childhood…when you were basically not held accountable for much. Those were the fun times, happy times! Happy and carefree. Life was your amusement park.

You had no real responsibilities, aside from school and a few chores. If you had a bike, you were mobile and that meant freedom! The world was literally at your feet! And the challenges! Nothing went unchallenged. Everything was suspect, from your home to your school. You’d try to get away with as much as possible, testing the system. You’d steal that candy bar just to see if you could get away with it…stay out later and later on dates.

It was all part of being a kid.

The excitement of being a kid!

But then things begin to change about mid-way through high school.

Slowly but surely more responsibility was added to your life. No longer did things remain just mere “unaccountable challenges”…and if you became one of the few to go to war, you witnessed the atrocities of mankind. Things that seared your brain with an intense anger and hatred.

Sadness.

It was an anger at the cruelties and callousness of conflict. At how the Human Condition could inflict torture—mental and physical—upon another. You wondered how could such things be? How could—can—people be driven to perform such atrocities—horrible, unspeakable acts upon one and another.

How God could allow such things.

But it was and is real…and won’t ever go away.

The worst part is that it isn’t just confined to wars: it breeds…finding other ways to manifest…unleash itself. War (you find) just becomes a convenient excuse.

And while you’re in the middle of it all, you may find yourself thinking back to a particular girl you knew…before you left and everything went crazy. You think back to when you and her were an item.

Inseparable. In love.

You think back with a sadness that bites deep. You think back to when you told her not to worry…you’d be back.

She says, well what about all the others who’ve said the same? You look her in the eyes and tell her—with all seriousness—that you’re different.

Yes, you think back to that time…and how you began to doubt your own words. She was the one you really cared about.

You remember that when that night was over so was your relationship. No one said anything, but you both felt it. And it wasn’t that you would necessarily never come back…no that wasn’t it. It was the waiting…and what you might become….

She never wrote you and you never wrote her—well, maybe once. You did write her that one time just to let her know you were okay. But that was it. When there was no response, you knew why.

There was no animosity. It was just something that had to be.

And you did come back…all limbs and mentality intact. At least you think so. Maybe you are a little rougher around the edges—there was no part of your being that was not bruised from your “experiences,” “they” call them—but you were still you.

So you found your way to her place, that lone porch light still on the way you remember it. You knock at the door…her father answers. At first he’s glad to see you…but knows your real intent and you see his head slump forward just a little as he leaves to get her. You however, straighten yours up more.

You’re prepared.

You couldn’t have been more prepared.

You turn back to the street…your thousand-yard stare catches you off-guard…recall the fire fights…the carnage…the smell of death and destruction…but also the life you had before the war…before…before you’d changed….

Then a hand reaches out for you…and you turn.

You come face to face with her. You’re knees buckle. Something unhinges inside you.

Tears…pain…in both sets of eyes.

You weren’t the only one who’d changed.

You thought you’d forever lost her…and she you. Sure, she had her “experiences” (“they” call them) while you were gone…but she’d always held you closest…never really wanted to let you go. You can see it in her eyes. Feel it in the electricity between the both of you.

You were back…and so was she.

Back for you.

Short Story Links

Links to all my posted short stories are here.

 

The Running

Runner's High. (Image by Pete Chapman, Image by CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Runner’s High. (Image by Pete Chapman, CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Years ago, when I had visited my dad and was still into running, I was inspired to write this story. I lived at (and still do) well over a mile in altitude in Colorado and going back home drops me significantly from that altitude. So, (without getting into the science of it all) for a brief period of time people in my position can perform all kinds of physical activity like we are gods.

You can run forever.

Life incredible amounts of weight.

You seemingly never tire.

One day during a late upstate New York afternoon, on a back road very much like the one in this picture, I ran into the growing darkness….

This story has never been published.

 

The Running

© F. P. Dorchak, 1989

I run.

I know no end. It is as if my sole existence…is to run.

My legs pump powerfully down the gravel of a leaf-strewn, backcountry dirt road in late October. I know it is October, I know I am running, but that…that, sadly, is about all I know.

Pump, pump, huff….

And I know that this is an easy run for me. I know not how far I’ve already gone or even what time it was, but it has to be late afternoon, for the sun is low and lonely…the near leafless trees standing as silent witnesses as I sprint past. There is a wonderful chill to the air, too, as my breath turns into wispy ghosts about my face. I seem to be the only one in the entire world and I revel in it!

Pump, pump, huff, huff!

I am at one with creation; a Zen, if you will, as though running and I were one—the ultimate runner’s high, I tell you. My legs are on auto (they have a will of their own, indeed!), but my mind also runs wild, runs free! My wind is limitless, but I feel strange…disjointed…like one forced to look down upon oneself from an out-of-the-body perspective. The ultimate, mobile, isolation tank!

The gravel crunches and fires out from beneath my driving heels…my body and arms slicing through the autumn air like a banshee. Such raw power crackles through me and I feed upon it! I inhale deeply of the air and it further fuels me. I inhale vitality and out do I exhale my corporeally challenged ghosts….

Pump, pump, huff….

I couldn’t stop if I wanted to, for to stop would violate the immaculately sacred…eradicating the flow of chi.

Should I stop I should very well perish.

Perish?

Then why am I running? What is my purpose? Am I in flight? Fleeing something, someone? No—I think not. I feel no such inspired adrenaline rush, yet, in fact, feel quite at ease and free.

No, I am here of my own volition. A training session and nothing more.

Pump, pump, huff, huff….

So I am in training. Good. At least that is something else I know, which means I have a destination to which I head. Vaguely, I recall a house…an old one…surrounded by open fields.

Wait…another image…yes…there’s a barn, nearby, with a dog leashed to the decrepit old barn…a truck parked in the driveway!

Yes! It’s down off a stretch of sparsely populated country road! More memories! I know this house! I am remembering!

But…what do I do?

I wonder, but nothing more comes to mind. No matter, I’ve gotten this far, I must be doing okay. It’ll all come back to me. I simply drink in the runner’s high—why fight it?

Pump, huff; pump, huff….

I return my attention to my running…my surroundings…which I adore!

It is so gentle and serene running among the stands of trees…deciduous…evergreen…the setting sun blinking in and out from behind their forested silhouettes…the leaves blowing across my path or crunching beneath my feet—the cool air against my cheek and that wonderful Octobery must from the earth and leaves!

The sound of my exquisitely tuned body!

My feet pounding the ground (pound, pound!), my stride long and mighty!

I am the perfect machine…nothing can stop me…a finely tuned engine firing through the autumn world unchecked! My breath wisps out from me, like steam from a locomotive!

(pump, pump, huff, huff!)

I weave back and forth across the single dirt lane, stones kicking up in my Mercurial wake. My legs, I chuckle, they pound like pistons! I fly over this gravel road, my mind continually expanding.

I am more than just at one with running…I am at one with my being and my world….

My mind leaps from my physical shell, its supernatural tentacles interlacing with the skeleton-like extremities of the trees…and pierces through the loam-like earth.

I feel the woodland creatures as they roam the secluded countryside…or fly between the trees…and am lifted—elated—a rush of cloudy headiness blurring my mind!

Pump, huff! Pump, huff!

Oh, it is godlike to be in such extraordinary condition!

Though I seem to have an unnerving sense of amnesia, I do remember this: I am one of the best.

No—I am the best!

Running is who I am…what I do. I have always run…and run better than anyone else. My whole being thrills to its sensations!

Come on legs—harder, faster! More…more!

Pump, pump, huff, huff; pump, pump, huff, huff….

 

Oh, but the end is near and I am saddened beyond despair!

Up ahead I spy a break in the trees…a highway crossing my own dirt path (my own—no one else’s!).

Damn, but it was a good run!

Perhaps, I will finally find the remaining answers to my nagging quandaries—it will not be long, now!

But, I can hardly wait until the next time!

Pump, pump, pump, pump!

My body is tuned to exacting, spiritual perfection! Seeing the paved road just ahead I feel an added rush of adrenaline as I kick up my pace ever higher, more powerful! I feel all the eyes of the forest upon me…coaxing me…cheering me! The gravel spits and crackles beneath me as I pull out of the clearing toward the road just a sprint ahead. As I pull away from the tree-shaded back road, I realize I miss the run already knowing that it is over for yet another day—but look forward to the final sprint!

I easily make it to the road and turn onto it…`feeling the pavement pound back up into my feet as I kick off from it.

My kick is high and proud…as I begin to cool down….

Pump, pump, huff, huff, yes, I am proud! Pump, pump, huff, huff, I am proud of what I am, and why not? I have worked long and hard, I—

 

Run.

I know no end. It is as if my sole existence is…to run. My legs pump powerfully down the gravel of a leaf-strewn, backcountry dirt road in late October. I know it is October, I know I am running, but that…that, sadly, is about all I know.

Pump, pump, huff….

And I know that this is….

Pump, pump, huff, huff!

The gravel road lay out before me, the tree-lined dirt road stretched out as far as I can see—

I am back on the path!

Something is wrong—but what is it? What happened? The last thing I remember is…oh, why fight it….

As I fly down this back road, I again feel transcendent from the physical…but now feel as if I also blaze across time and space—galaxies and universes!

Bright colors, I see, bright and fluid!

But I out run the light itself! Nothing escapes me! I am invincible! I am more than just running down a backcountry road…I am soaring through realities…as not just myself, but as every runner that ever runs.

I am more than one runner…more than any run.

I seem able to individually tune into individual thoughts…global gestalts…

I am intoxicated!

Now, I find myself running in the mountains of the southern hemisphere…high into the clouds…or I am in flight for my life from a charging polar bear on a blindingly white background…I am in a race on a coast in the western hemisphere with thousands of runners…on the beaches of tropical islands…on the manufactured tracks of global games!

Oh, how I laugh and feel my energy fire out across universes!

It suddenly all comes back to me, now, as I remember who I am…what I do!

How could I have forgotten?

It is the intensity I devote to each and every run…the high that allows all to forget…and be in the moment. I give everything to all…I am everything to all….

I smile, as I pour it on.

I am Running….

Pump, pump, huff, huff!

 

Short Story Links

Links to all my posted short stories are here.

 

Reel Nerds Podcast Interview – Denver Comic Con 2016

A Reel Nerds Podcast. (Image by By Fourandsixty [Own work] [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

A Reel Nerds Podcast. (Image by By Fourandsixty [Own work] [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

When I attended Denver Comic Con 2016, I was thrice interviewed. This is the first of them:

Reel Nerds Interview.

It runs 11:58.

Thanks, Reel Nerds, for a fun time!

Related Articles

 

Short Story Listing

What Lies Beneath...And Beyond? (Image by Jan C J Jones, Freelancer Ink, © July 1, 2016)

What Lies Beneath…And Beyond? (Image by Jan C J Jones, Freelancer Ink, © July 1, 2016)

Well, here it is, the complete listing of all my short stories and their dates…those already released on this site and those scheduled for release on this site…and their scheduled dates. As they get released I’ll update my Short Stories page, though this page may not be as quickly updated, if at all.

Admittedly, not all of these are short stories…some are poems, and one, “Nightdrive,” is an essay I put out on my Reality Check blog. And these are not every short story I’ve ever written. Just the better of them…and the ones I’ve found. There are many hand-written ones I haven’t gotten to, but those are the ones written during high school and earlier.

When I release my short story collection (scheduled for 2017), I will take only what I consider to be the best of the below-listed stories. My purpose in the free releases on my blog was to show the work in as close to their original form as possible, with only minor editing (though some did required more!), but when I put them into my short story collection I will edit harder…though (as it currently stands) I do not plan on updating them to present-day technology, et cetera. And yes, there are a couple new stories (2016) in this collection as well (“Rewrite” and “Broken Windows”…that latter started in 1997 [four double-spaced pages], but the remaining 19 double-spaced pages were written this year)!

The dates listed below are when they were released on my blog sites and is not their original creation (and copyrighted) dates. For those not-yet-released those are their scheduled release dates…though I may move them around. Short stories should technically be “quoted,” as in “Tail Gunner,” but I’m not gonna do all that; it’ll make it too busy looking, so I left all quotes off.

Feel free to forward or link to or reblog anything of interest, just give proper attribution.

Original copyright creation dates are all listed on the individual story postings.

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment! These have all been hidden away for far too long (well, some can’t be hidden away long enough, perhaps…), been toiled over for years, in some cases, and it was so much fun revisiting them and giving the best of them renewed life!

  1. Tail Gunner – 11/27/15
  2. The Death of Me – 12/04/15
  3. The World’s Greatest Writer – 12/11/15
  4. The Coming of Light – 12/18/15
  5. Dark Was The Hour – 12/24/15
  6. Tick, Tick, Tick, Tock – 12/31/15
  7. The Ice Gods – 1/1/16
  8. Rainy Nights and Christmas Lights – 1/08/16
  9. Fear – 1/15/16
  10. Spirit of Hope – 1/22/16
  11. The Ballad of fReD BeAn – 1/29/16
  12. Brains – 2/05/16
  13. Saint Vincent – 2/12/16
  14. Entombed…Resurrection…Unbound…. – 2/19/16
  15. Etched in Stone – 2/26/16
  16. Bone Poem – 3/04/16
  17. Clowns – 3/10/16
  18. Garden of the Gods – 3/18/16
  19. The Girl Who Chased Gargoyles – 3/25/16
  20. Snow Paper – 4/01/16
  21. Crypt of Vampyres – 4/06/16
  22. Nightborders – 4/15/16
  23. Red Hands – 4/22/16
  24. The Chain Letter – 4/29/16
  25. Contamination – 5/06/16
  26. A Conversation With Hell – 5/13/16
  27. Nightdrive – 5/18/16
  28. Walkers – 5/20/16
  29. Rewrite – 5/27/16
  30. Blondie’s – 6/03/16
  31. Allergies – 6/10/16
  32. For Whom the God <burp> – 6/17/16
  33. Bloodtales and Flies – 6/24/16
  34. What Dreams Are Made Of – 7/01/16
  35. Drive-Ins – 7/08/16
  36. The Running – 7/15/16
  37. Casa – 7/22/16
  38. Spiders – 7/29/16
  39. Plaything – 8/05/16
  40. Freefallin’ – 8/12/16
  41. The Way We Were – 8/19/16
  42. Jumper – 8/26/16
  43. The Lifter – 9/02/16
  44. Attention Span – 9/09/16
  45. Werewolf – 9/16/16
  46. Seeing Things – 9/23/16
  47. The Interview – 9/30/16
  48. Shelf Life – 10/07/16
  49. Blue Diamond Exit, Mile Marker 15 – 10/14/16
  50. Red Envelope – 10/21/16
  51. Love, What a Way To Go – 10/28/16
  52. The Hallowe’en Tree – 10/31/16
  53. A Sermon Unleashed – 11/04/16
  54. Please Have A Seat, Mr. Jordan – 11/11/16
  55. The Wreck – 11/18/16
  56. Broken Windows – 11/25/16

Short Story Links

Links to all my posted short stories are here.

Drive-Ins

If You Look Real Close.... (Image by Kevin [CC BY 2.0, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

If You Look Real Close…. (Image by Kevin [CC BY 2.0, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

I love drive-in theaters!

We used to frequent one in the town we live in, packed up the truck with sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets—our dog—and drove off to the Aircadia Drive-In. Back the truck in and drop the tail gate. It was a wonderful experience…one I think back to often.

Now a Wal-Mart stands in its location.

When I was a kid we used to go to a drive-in that no longer exists. The Sara-Placid Drive-In. It’s totally overgrown. It was on Route 86, between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, NY. Near where that Post Office now is. I also found out a little more about it’s origins and fate. One of it’s owners, Ernie Stautner, was a Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Hall-of-Famer in the 1950s. The previous link says he died in Colorado. Small world (I live in Colorado).

Sara-Placid Drive-in Handbill. (Image by Drive-In 54, on http://cinema treasures.org, uploaded 9/26/15, Creative Commons [Attribution] License)

Sara-Placid Drive-in Handbill. (Image by Drive-In 54, on http://cinema treasures.org, uploaded 9/26/15, Creative Commons [Attribution] License)

Well, the Sara-Placid Drive-in is no more, ever since 1974…but every time I return home and drive past its inexact location…I look for it. Sadly, I can no longer pinpoint it. But somewhere…in some dimension…I know it still exists…and that’s why I continue to look for it….

What inspired me to write this?

Drive-ins.

That’s all you need to know.

This story has never been published.

 

 

 

Drive-Ins

© F. P. Dorchak, 1994

 

If you look close, real close, you can almost see them.

 

Thirteen-year-old Randy Thornton pedaled his bike up over the ridge, slivers of morning sunlight stabbing into his eyes from the other side of the rise. He brought the bike around and skidded to a quick stop. Surveyed the lot in front of him. White posts. Everywhere. Rows and rows of nothing but white posts.

And a screen.

Randy got off his bike and walked among the posts. Looked up to the huge white screen that loomed above him like a hungry vulture.

Silver screen they call it. Silver—like for monsters n stuff.

There were lots of stains and rips in it, but Randy thought sure a movie would still work. He continued on, walking his bike beside him, and soon noticed what looked like a lump of rags in the center of the sea of posts. He moved in closer; saw how the bunched-up rags were actually a hunched-over man sitting in the dirt. A man who mumbled. Randy ditched the bike.

“Mister? Mister, are you all right?” Randy stopped several feet from the man, who smelled like rotting food and days’ old urine. “Mister, are you all right?

Randy reached out. Touched him. The lump of rags shuddered, but felt light as a bird…like one push would send him off flying.

But fly he didn’t.

Randy reached down and tilted the head back, then stumbled backward.

He turned to run, but instead ran smack into a white post and got most of the air knocked out of him. He collapsed painfully to the ground. Looked back toward the man’s still-upturned face.

All he saw was the gaping, black hole where a face used to be….

 

Grandpa Jonathan sat back in his rocker, the old wooden legs creaking almost as bad as did his bones. Jonathan inhaled deeply from his pipe and eyed Randy intently. Randy sat before him, at his feet on the front porch steps, awaiting his reply.

“Well,” Jonathan said slowly, drawing out another puff, “that certainly is a mighty tall tale you’re a tellin me—”

“It’s true, Granpa, it is—and I never went back there again! Never!”

“So what do you suppose you saw?”

Randy scrunched his face into a tight little knot. “I—I don’t know. It was like, like something from a horror movie.”

Grandpa Jonathan’s rocker creaked louder, and he chuckled to himself.

“Well, Son, I don’t pretend to know what it was you saw, but I’ll tell you somethin that’ll knock your socks clean off.” Jonathan leaned forward and put his face right into Randy’s. “If you dare.”

“I-if I dare? What do you mean? Is it a story?

Grandpa Jonathan smiled, took another drag from his pipe, and leaned back. He looked out beyond his porch front with a mischievous gleam in his eye, towards the town of Twin Falls, Indiana. It was late afternoon and twilight was fast approaching.

Götterdämmerung. Twilight of the Gods.

Or whatever forces that be.

“You know, when I was younger, I used to run a small theater up over t’Marion, and as I look back on things, I think it was my most favorite job of all time.”

“Why was that, Granpa?”

“Because, Son, I was promotin imagination. The ability to drift off for a period a time and pretend you was somewhere else. Someone else. To let the worries of the day disappear for a spell. The fifties were a great time, Randy. It was probably the most naive time in all of history. It was before Watergate, Vietnam—the Kennedy assassinations—”

“What?”

“They was times when the people of this country believed what they was told, lock, stock, and barrel— without question. They believed anything their governments told em, or their neighbors. Or their movie screens. No one doubted anything.”

“So what’s wrong with that?”

Grandpa Jonathan looked down into the still innocent eyes of his thirteen-year-old grandson. He almost didn’t want to say anything to the boy, didn’t want to break his spirit or taint his thinking with the realities of adulthood, but sooner or later someone’d have to tell him, and he’d sooner have it be him as anyone else.

“Grandson, even though you should pay attention to your elders—your daddy, your mother—even your old fart of a grandfather—even though you should heed us all now, there will come a time when you’ll begin to make your own way in the world. Start thinkin your own thoughts. You’ll wonder: why should I do something this way or that. Why can’t I do it my own way. Isn’t there a better way to do things? You’ll get married, have kids—”

Eeeww! Never! I’m never going to get married! And I’m never going to leave you, Granpa!”

Grandpa Jonathan’s face opened into a wide grin, and he laughed mightily.

“That’s a good boy, Randy, a good boy!” He patted Randy on the back. “But all this is nothin to fret over just yet. You have so many things yet to explore. There’s still so much wonder to this world, and you’re only just discovering it. Now, Randy, I tell ya this, and hear my words, Son—don’t ever let that sense of wonder leave ya. Never. Cause when it’s gone, it’s a mighty hard thing to get back, if ya ever can. There’s a lot of wonderful and strange things out there, and as bad as some things might seem to get, there’s always something better…just waitin to be discovered. Waitin for you, Randy, my boy! Life is what you make it…not what you have to put up with.

“Well, anyway, I digress—”

“What’s that mean?”

“I strayed. When you get old, that tends to happen occasionally. It ain’t nothing to worry about cause it’s just God’s way a tellin ya to take stock of your life. Make peace. Anyhow, there I go again. I was talkin about theaters—”

“Yeah!”

“Movie theaters were great, but what I really wanted to get into were Drive-ins.”

“Drive-ins? Wow. Hey, you mean like—like the one I was at?”

“Just like, though they was still workin and not nearly so nasty. At least not at first. I heard about these drive-ins and decided to get into em. They were new to me, in the business sense, even though they’d been around for some twenty years by then. There was money to be made. Besides, I just plain liked em. It’s kinda hard to tell you just why, but it was almost like they was an entire sub-culture—that’s like another way of life within the life you’re already livin.” He stopped and looked to Randy to see if what he’d said had sunk in.

“I don’t quite understand, Granpa, but that’s okay.”

Jonathan smiled, patted the boy on the head, and noticed that the sky had grown substantially darker. Twilight was indeed edging its way in, and he wanted to finish his story before it had gone completely dark.

“Drive-ins were hangouts, like Fremont park in town, especially on the weekends. Guys would take their gals with em and make out, hardly ever really watchin what was up on the

(silver)

“screens. Younger folks would come in droves and make a party of it—some getting up to some major mischief, like letting the air out of tires or tyin cars up to each other. Sure, they caused folks some trouble, but it was a fun trouble, fun times. All us grownups would outwardly sneer and chastise em, but inwardly we wished we had done that stuff; that we was as carefree as they was. It was such an innocent time….”

Jonathan’s eyes glassed over as he looked out over the town behind Randy. Abruptly he came to, and continued.

“Well, one day, back round fifty-two, I believe, we had this tremendous wind storm. No rain, mind you, maybe even a little thunder, I can’t quite remember, but I do recollect the wind. It damn near blew things halfway around to the other side of the world, we said. Blew the roofs right off half a dozen houses, it did—”

“Wow!”

“—and even toppled over some folks’s cars. The Sheriff—Clyde Toupe, I believe his name was—was out that night, even against his own better judgment, he later said, and his squad car was blown clean over and right on down the street!”

“No way! Was he in it?”

“No, he said he had gotten out to check on something, and when he got back it wasn’t there. Fightin against the gale and holdin on for dear life, he looks down the street and finds it, sittin there on its hood, all smashed up and useless. It was spinnin like a toy top!

“Well, folks round them parts said it was the work of devil—or God, dependin on how guilty they was feelin at the moment. The non-guilty, they was sayin it was God’s way a tellin us that we was getting too complacent—too used to the way things was. That we needed to take more stock in what was goin on round us and not to be so concerned with just ourselves. Others said it was the devil comin to punish us for our transgressions—our evil-doin’s.

“Well, in either case, the town set about the nasty chore of cleanin up. Sheriff Toupe—I’m pretty sure that’s what his name was—got a brand-spankin new car. Huh—I remember how the kids was havin a field day with no law bein able to run em down for a week or two before Clyde got his new vehicle. And the neighbors, they helped each other out with repairs and losses and things. It was like small-town Marion had gone through a war, or somethin.”

“What happened to your theater, Granpa?”

“Eh, I was gettin to that, little one. Well, my theater house, the one in town, wasn’t damaged much at all, cept for the marquee—the lights—but my drive-in, that was quite another story. It had rips down the screen and debris from the storm strung out all over the place. Many of the speaker posts were damaged. Speaker boxes had been ripped right from their posts. It took quite a while for repairs to be made, but repaired they were, and at great expense. But the strangest thing I found that day was this guy sitting in the middle of my lot.”

Randy stiffened.

“Just like yours, but he still had his face when I found him. He was missin somethin else. Somethin much more important. He was missin his mind.”

Grandpa Jonathan paused again. Randy looked down to the porch where Grandpa’s rocker met the floor.

“Granpa—”

“You don’t get it, do ya, Son.”

He shook his head.

“Well, neither did I. I mean, how does a man loose his mind…in a drive-in theater? Sure, we played them grade-B horror flicks back then, but nothin that bad.

“Anyways, I helped him up and took him into my office. All the time, he’s a mumblin and a droolin, and, boy, did he stink!”

Randy giggled.

“I tried to talk with him, but he just wouldn’t—or couldn’t—come round. Since I didn’t know much about those kinds of things, I gave up and called the Sheriff. I figured he’d know what to do with him. So I called him and told him that I had the mayor in my office, and that he wasn’t quite right….

 

“In the end, nothin I could do to fix the theatre could keep it goin. It took me several months to fix the tears in the screen, the damaged posts, and the projector. Everything. And then really weird stuff started happenin.”

“What kind of stuff, Granpa?”

“Well, stuff like the projector always goin out on me. Electrical fires from speaker boxes. People runnin over the posts. Fights. There was even one day when I remember the popcorn machine explodin all over the place—but by that time it was far from funny. It was like that storm had been an evil wind, blowin up from old Scratch himself. People started actin funny, too, Randy. They wasn’t themselves. Some began to blame it on my drive-in. Why me, I don’t know, but they said they didn’t come away from my movies feelin right. Feelin right?

“So I had to close down. No one was comin to my movies and I was no longer makin any money. I eventually had to sell it to a development firm and they had the old theater bulldozed within a month. I still had my other theater in town, but it wasn’t where my heart was. When that place was plowed under, a little part of me went with it.

“But that wasn’t all. There was even weirder stuff just beginning.”

Randy shifted position on the porch steps.

Jonathan took a small sip from a glass Randy hadn’t noticed was nearby. Randy noticed how Grandpa Jonathan suddenly became more serious. His gaze had again drifted off beyond him, and it took a few shakes on his sleeves before Randy got his grandfather to return to the story. Twilight had arrived.

“Well, Son, your story, you believe it, don’t you?”

Randy shook his head. “Of course, Granpa—it really happened.”

“Well, that’s what I’m afraid of. You see, so did mine. And I think there’s some sort of connection between our two experiences, though for the life of me I can’t imagine what. I guess there are some things in this world that just happens to folks, see, some things that have no rhyme or reason. No explanation. Now what I’m about to tell you from here on in, I ain’t never told anybody—”

“Not even gramma?

Jonathan’s eyes glazed over and he shook his head heavily.

“No, Son, not even grandma knew, and as much as it hurt me to keep secrets from her, I’m glad she never knew. I been carryin this thing around inside a me for quite some time, now, not even sure I believed it. Sometimes when you keep things in they have a way of gettin warped. Growing. But I don’t think this did. I know it happened.

“It had been a few months after the old theater’d been torn down, about midsummer, I think, and I was drivin by it one

(twilight)

“evenin. I hadn’t even been payin attention when I drove past the lot, hadn’t been payin attention when I saw the old silver screen standing there before the mass a little white posts lookin like a graveyard, and I can see by the look on your scrunched up little face that you don’t understand, neither. And, again, neither did I, cause, as I said only moments ago, that there Drive-in’d been torn down, screen and all, some four to six months prior to this little drive by of mine.

“It didn’t end there. No siree. Sure, I stopped then, even backed up to the field and took another look. But don’t you know it, it was gone. Never’d been there. It was just the same old empty field waitin for some new development. There was no screen, no posts—no nothing. But it happened again, and again after that. It got so that I wouldn’t drive by on that road anymore cause on almost every twilit evening, I’d see it.

“Then one day, towards the end of summer, it had been a real scorcher, and I wasn’t thinkin straight. Nobody was. It was hotter than even old Eddie from down to the railroad could recall. Three folks from up to the old folks’ home had died by the end of that summer from heat stroke. And, old habits dyin hard, I found myself drivin by that hellish place after it had grown dark. Even my soul was sweatin.

“And there it was. Boy, was it. That bedeviled drive-in was astandin tall and proud. And it was cold. I remember that, cold as ice it were, and it chilled me right to my bones. “And this time, it was worse. Worse than worse. The damned theater was in full-on operation, Randy. Full-on—lights, movie, and people!

“I stopped my car at the entrance—the old entrance exactly where it was before the place was tore down—and parked. I was shakin like a leaf in winter, but I got out and stood there. Riveted. There was a movie playin, Randy. Cars was parked. People was watchin it, buyin popcorn. And it weren’t no horror show, or nuthin like that. Nope. It wasn’t anything close to a movie you’d expect to be playin at a place like that. No sir. The movie what was playin was Bambi, for Jesus, Joe, and Mike! Bambi.

“Well, I was scared stiff. Couldn’t move even if I wanted to. But, boy, I had to. Had to. I had to see what was goin on, even if the devil himself were in the projection room. I had to see.

“So I entered the drive-in. I walked right up to the ticket booth and there was some young girl in there I ain’t never seen before, same girl whose face I still see in my nightmares. She just waves me on through, like she’s been waiting for me. And she smiles a smile that ain’t quite right. It’s still the same smile I see in my nightmares. Somethin about her face. Her smile. It was like her face was heavily blemished, you know, with zits n stuff, but worse. There was creepy crawly things moving around inside them zits, and when she smiled, heck, I don’t know, but I swore her mouth was black, like there was nothin inside.

“So in I walk, and on played Bambi. Everywhere around me was cars, and folks doin stuff. But it weren’t right, neither. There was a feelin to everythin that was cold and empty. I looked back to my car and saw it parked there by the roadside, but it didn’t comfort me none. I felt like a prisoner, trapped behind bars, my life just outside and starin back in on me, taunting.

But I had to know.

“I don’t know how long I stayed there, but I gradually noticed something that scared me even more. As I looked up to the screen and saw them little animated cartoon characters, I saw that even Bambi was queer. But why shouldn’t it be—nothing in that place was right so why should the movie be any different? Then it hit me and my legs ran out from under me like cooked spaghetti, and I collapsed. I looked up to the screen, I looked up and I saw that them animated characters weren’t the animated animals I was used to, no—they was people I knew from town. All of em. Their faces caricatured up there on the screen, and by the Lord in heaven, it was them, right down to the crazy mayor!”

Randy jerked back, a sudden cold blast overcoming him.

“I lost it. I couldn’t take it no longer. I screamed—I cried—I came unglued.

I fell to the ground and beat it with my fists, and when I opened my eyes, it was gone. All of it. Every stinkin piece. I was sittin in the middle of this empty field balling to myself and my car was parked not fifty feet away, engine running.

“So I tried to get away, tried to get away as far as I could from Marion and this state, but something held me prisoner. Held others, too. Made me forget my wants and desires. We was changin, it seemed, distortin. Or maybe it was just me, lookin at everyone else who was changin. A Post Office or something was later built up on that property, but it didn’t matter. You see, when twilight came and you looked close, real close, you could almost see them. The people. The screen. Everything.

“So when you come in here and told me your story, hell, I had to tell mine, Randy, cause I wonder if maybe, just maybe, this thing is the same thing that happened to you. Maybe it’s comin for me after all these years, after the ones it didn’t get the first time, if that was the first time. Maybe it’s just something that happens to old theaters after they go away. I don’t know. See, Randy, drive-ins have magic, and when someone takes away the buildings and the screens, and the speaker boxes, they can’t take away the magic. It’s something that lingers on…hangs in the air. Maybe it comes with the land…and hopefully it’s a good magic. But I think every place is different. Did you know that at one time Twin Falls had six drive-ins in town?”

“Six? Really?”

“Sure. They done been torn down and built over, like the one I told you about, but they was there. In fact one of em’s an apartment complex that you’ll be passin as you go back into town—which, I might add, you better do if you don’t want to get a whoopin! Will ya look at the time! Randy-boy, you just let your old grandfather ramble on, didn’t you!”

“It’s okay, Granpa, I don’t mind!”

“Sure, but the light is fading and you need some to make your way back. So get—tell your folks hello for me, and don’t mind the ramblins of an old coot! I’ll call your folks to let em know you’re on your way. I’m goin to get my own woopin from em for sure!”

“Oh, Granpa—”

“Now I mean it, so get—and, Randy—” Grandpa Jonathan’s face grew stern and took on a more concerned look, “be careful.”

“Okay. See ya, Granpa!”

Randy hopped up on his purple BMX, turned it around, and headed back towards town. He waved to his grandfather as he left, but the words still ran around in his head.

If you look close, real close

You can almost see them.

Then Randy remembered the face he had seen at his drive-in. The black, nothing face that stared up at him and mumbled. Empty words from an empty face. Randy suddenly wondered why he had not asked Grandpa if he could stay the night. It was Friday, there was no school tomorrow.

But he was already on his way home and Grandpa was calling his folks.

You could almost see them.

 

Randy pedaled straight home. His parents were waiting for him and immediately set to the task of scolding him for riding his bike so late—and that didn’t he know he could get killed? And what was your grandfather filling your head with this time? And don’t you respect us? Do you want to die, is that it? Now go to your room, mister, and there’ll be no supper for you tonight. But all this fell on deaf ears because Randy was too busy reliving everything his grandfather had told him. So he gladly went to his room, gladly plopped down on his bed, and gladly tucked his arms high behind his head.

Imagining.

Randy stared into the ceiling and wondered about what was real and what wasn’t, and as he fell off into a troubled sleep he swore he heard the wind pick up. Swore he could hear it flipping over cars and knocking over buildings….

The devil’s wind.

 

Saturday mornings were great after the chores got done, but instead of going over to Todd Bearing’s house afterwards (which was where he told his parents he was going to spend the night), Randy decided on other plans. He didn’t feel right. His experience from the other day, as well as all that stuff his grandpa had told him, sat in his gut like a belly full of bad junk food.

And there had been high winds last night.

It hadn’t damaged things as much as in Grandpa Jonathan’s story, but it had made a bit of a mess. Randy wanted to go back to that drive-in, to the one he knew…but was scared. What if that guy was still there—or another to replace him, even more worse than the first?

What if he went…and never came back?

He knew what he had to do.

He had to go back. Had to see.

Had to.

Even if the devil himself was in the projection room.

 

It was about an hour away from sunset, according to the Weather Channel, as he pedaled up the small (boy-it-didn’t-feel-like-it) hill to where the abandoned drive-in lies. He passed the sign that said it was to be replaced by an office complex of some kind. An office complex. What a bummer. Granpa said there used to be six of these things in town, and now there was only one. One drive-in. That sucked. He hoped there’d be plenty when he grew up so he could enjoy them. That-subculture-thing.

Armed with comic books and Jolt cola (it gave him lots of energy, he found), he braked his bike to a stop. There it was, just as he had left it. With one exception.

Nobody was sitting in the middle of it.

Randy walked his bike through the rows of upright posts, up towards the rear of the lot, and thought it did remind him more of a graveyard than a drive-in. He looked back over it. White posts, everywhere. Like gravestones. And that silver screen. Empty. Like one huge gravestone.

Grandpa and his stories.

He tried to imagine what this place was like during its heyday—cars packed in, music piped over the speakers, folks camped out in the back of their cars and trucks with pillows and blankets. Older kids necking. He had seen some of this from the one remaining drive-in in town, but not here. There was none of that here now.

Hello, Randy.

He thought back to the bum. The faceless one.

Chicken skin.

If you look close, Randy, really close….

Shuddering, Randy turned away from the posts and took off his pack. He pulled out his comic books, can of Jolt, and settled down to the ground.

And waited.

For what, he didn’t really know. He just knew something was going to happen and he needed to see it. Maybe it was a movie. Maybe it was—

Randy’s heart froze. At the opposite end of the theater grounds where he had entered the lot, he saw movement. He dropped his comic book and nearly spilled over his Jolt.

“Oh, no….”

But it wasn’t that man. That evil, non-faced thing that had mumbled out of a non-existent mouth…no, this was somebody different. Somebody with a face.

Quietly, Randy watched as the faced intruder came into the center of the lot and sat down—almost at the exact spot where Randy had last seen the other.

This new guy either hadn’t seen him—or didn’t care—because he never looked away from the screen. The torn and ripped

(silver)

screen.

Then another came.

And another.

All with faces, all to stare at the huge gravestone before them.

Randy got up and backed away from the sudden rush of people, but only ended up running into two others that came in from behind. It was like the Night of The Living Dead, for crying out loud. Unperturbed, they all continued on down towards the center of the lot. Randy continued backing up and finally hit against the rickety theater wall behind him. He stood with his mouth open and stared. There must’ve been a hundred of them.

“No way. This is can’t be. I’m seeing things.”

Randy looked to the can of Jolt he held, then tossed it away.

The sun had now set and began to cast its blood red rays over the land. Rays that painted the screen, the rips and tears standing out even more, like poorly healed scar tissue. Red that flowed over the people and the white posts. All attention was focused on the

(silver)

now red

screen.

The pilgrimage had stopped, but not the red.

It was no longer merely a redness of twilight that simply colored things, but an integral part of the objects it touched.

The post.

The screen.

The bodies.

The very air.

Everything was aglow with vermilion. And it took on a life of its own. Randy could see the pulsation. It was in everything.

And still the masses waited….

 

Randy knew by now that twilight must surely have ended, but in the deserted lot of the Peak View Drive-In, it had not. It had become its own little world. Twilight remained. Blood remained.

Had to see.

Randy pushed away from the backboard and went forward.

If you look close, real close, Randy-boy, you can see

Randy went into the crowd. Each individual’s attention was anchored to the movie screen before them, their faces blank. Many mumbled, and a humming sound seemed to resonate just above them. As he looked around, Randy noticed something else. These people weren’t bums or vagrants, at least not all of them. Many were dressed in fine clothes with shaven or made-up faces. Some looked like they had just come from previous engagements. Randy reached out.

“Ma’am, are you

(faceless)

“all right?” He touched the woman. She gave a little under his touch, but remained faced forward. Blank. Red pulsated through her, and her skin seemed swollen.

A sound came over the speakers and Randy jumped.

It was everywhere, echoing in deep cisternal notes that sounded more like the noise blood might make if its movement was amplified. Randy tested several others and got the same responses.

Nothing.

Just the sound of the pumping of blood.

Randy looked back to his

(car)

bike and found it gave him no comfort.

“I feel…I feel like I’m…repeating…something here….”

Then his eyes landed on something so familiar that his insides went loose.

Grandfather Jonathan.

NO!

Randy sprinted across the crowd to Jonathan when the silver-red screen erupted into a blinding fury, knocking him off his feet. He careened into several posts. They were cold. Burning cold. From deep within the ground came rumbling. Randy lifted his head and looked to the screen. It was a liquid red, and pulsed in time with everything else. Vibrant colors danced across its canvas, like the 60’s backdrops he’d seen on MTV.

Randy looked back to his grandfather and saw he was still there. It was no illusion, no case of mistaken identity. Randy picked himself up and again lurched forward, knocking past others who merely righted themselves and returned their attention back to the screen. The rumbling in the ground made Randy sick, vibrated parts of him he didn’t realize he’d had.

“Granpa! Granpa!” he screamed, and reached out. He shook his grandfather’s shoulders, but found the same reaction he’d gotten from everybody else.

“Granpa—speak to me! Come out of it, damn it!” Randy came around to the front of him and blocked Jonathan’s view of the screen. Randy found he had to step wide to keep his balance from the upheaving ground and saw how slowly Grandpa focused on him. Jonathan turned away from the screen only enough to look up into Randy’s face.

“Granpa—speak to me!” Again Randy grabbed his grandfather’s shoulders and shook.

“They’ve found me, Son,” Jonathan said slowly, dreamily.

Who found you?”

Jonathan spoke slowly, returning his forward focus. “Don’t know what…they’re called. No one does. They fill…a void.”

“Granpa—I don’t understand—what do you mean?”

The vibration grew and Randy found it nearly impossible to remain upright. He fell to his knees. Jonathan was now able to focus back onto the screen.

“They come…at intervals…but not of time….”

Randy saw reflections from the screen behind him change and turned to look at it.

The screen had changed.

It had somehow become more, and it hurt him to look at it. He felt his eyes trying to pop free from their sockets, felt his brain expand, almost explode. The screen took on a three-dimensional depth. More dimensional. There was something within it.

Something that was coming out.

“Granpa!”

“…it is a cycle…of emotion. Not time. Comes not…for everybody. But for those…ready…to accept it.”

Randy looked around and saw that the people remained seated, but they took on a different look. Back at the screen, there were swirling colors…a kaleidoscope of images…some of which Randy found hard to focus on or make out. He turned back to Jonathan.

“Granpa, I don’t want to lose you,” he shouted, “I love you!”

Grandpa turned back to him.

“Is…too late, Son.” And turned back to the screen. “It…transfers…to others. Continues its journey…through others. Fills…the void…that exists within….”

Grandpa Jonathan had faded out. His face appeared different, like those around him. At first Randy thought it was just the light, but it was more.

Then something clicked inside Randy’s head: transferred? He was the one being transferred to?

The screen went dead. The pulsating had now become more of a subtle undercurrent.

COME, RANDY

Randy spun around, almost pulling a neck muscle. It was a voice—he’d heard it—a deep, resonating voice that came from behind him.

From the screen.

“Who’s there?”

No response.

“Who’s there—why are you doing this?”

The screen remained dead.

Then it went white, like before a movie is brought up onto its surface. Randy watched. Watched as the people around him reacted to the blank screen. Watched as some cried and some laughed, while others had still other reactions.

Randy looked to the person sitting next to his grandfather and saw a wide-eyed look that scared him. The person’s eyes were screaming from their sockets, but no scream came from her mouth. As Randy looked closer, he saw a thin red line trickle out from her eyes and mix with her tears. Randy turned away.

Another laughed hysterically, like a crazily stuck record.

Another had a more passionate, heady expression.

Then he turned back to his grandfather.

Whose face was fading.

Randy came closer, and again grabbed Jonathan’s shoulders. His face quickly began to fade from view. Taking another glance behind him, Randy saw that the screen was no longer white, but black.

Full of stars.

Cold, empty, traveling stars.

Randy shivered. Turned back to his grandfather. Grandpa Jonathan’s face now had that same blackness.

And the stars.

The entire lot was in darkness.

Granpa! Don’t go!

Jonathan’s face swirled…folded in and out of itself.

Flipped, spiraled, and split.

Randy felt his eyes again pull out from their sockets, his brain again having difficulty focusing or even understanding. He felt groggy. Found he had to brace himself away from his grandfather for fear of falling into him.

“Granpa, no—don’t go—I don’t want you to die!”

We all have to die sometime, Randy, it’s a fact of life. This is how I choose to go

Randy backed away. “Why are you doing this? Why did you drag me into it?”

Because you are a part of me, a part of us all

We need to continue

To be remembered

To die

It is this emotion which is needed to

continue

This bond

“You’re not my grandfather, are you!”

NO

Randy watched as his grandfather’s face further dissolved and finally melted away. Inward. Outward. Around itself. Watched as his face became like the man’s face he had seen that morning a thousand-million years ago. Watched as the face he had kissed and so loved over his thirteen years slowly and quietly disappeared.

Black and starry.

Gone.

If you look real close….

Randy felt his grandfather disappear. Watched as he hunched forward like the faceless one he had encountered. Watched as he felt the presence that was once Jonathan Thornton quietly expel like a gentle, worn, sigh….

Randy didn’t bother to lift his head. He knew what he’d find.

 

Randy felt unexpectedly emotionless as he backed away from the shell of his grandfather and returned to his bike. He looked to the others, but saw there weren’t as many of them as there had been before. He watched as some disappeared before his eyes, one by one, like stars snuffed out by a rising sun, while others, like candles in the wind were simply just not there anymore. He looked back to his grandfather just as he, too, was snuffed away.

 

Randy picked up his bike and brought it around. The lot was almost empty now. The sun was rising, and he was exhausted. He went towards the outer edge of the lot, but didn’t want to go anywhere near the center of that sea of posts. Instead he faced east, where morning blood colored the horizon.

This he welcomed.

And as he turned around, Randy felt a something trying to edge its way into his head, and he groped for it. Like a warm wave, it engulfed him.

IT IS THE PRICE TO BE PAID FOR YOUR SENSE OF WONDER

Sense of wonder.

He wasn’t sure he understood it all, but Randy felt sure he understood one thing. One day, far into his own adult future, he, too, would have to pay that price.

And as he looked back to the lot on his way out, he suddenly felt exhilarated. There was one individual still sitting in the middle of the lot. One still seated in that familiar, hunched over and silent position.

Randy smiled.

 

Short Story Links

Links to all my posted short stories are here.

 

Updated Headshot Portfolio

This Is Me. Take It Or Leave It. (Image by Jan C J Jones, Freelancer Ink, © July 1, 2016)

This Is Me. Take It Or Leave It. (Image by Jan C J Jones, Freelancer Ink, © July 1, 2016)

Last Friday I finally got around to updating my social media photo portfolio I use for writing promotion. I’d been putting it off for a couple years…for different reasons. Chief among them was the weirdness, well, of just doing so… you know, looking into a camera lens that’s all focused on me… your truly. Sure, I studied modeling, but, geez, that was 28 years ago! Also, it was just finding the time to put out the effort to do so. We’re all busy (a term quite “used” today). Yet, as more gray hair began emerging upon the sides of my head I thought, well, I better get on it. I hate it when public figures use images of when they were twenty years old and I meet em…and they’re not. Be proud of who you are, dammit, and be honest about it…wrinkles, gray, and all!

So…I finally gave in. I want my headshots to be an honest portrayal of me and I didn’t want to be freaking lazy about that. Because writers need headshots to send to outlets that ask for them. When you guest blog, blog hosts (rightly so—I’ve asked for them of those I’ve interviewed) want headshots. Readers wanna know what we look like…I get it, it’s a natural curiosity. Turnabout is fair play.

So, I gave my friend, Jan C J Jones, a call. Hey, Jan, what can you do fer me? I just want two or three headshots….

Well, as is normal for Jan, I wasn’t just getting two or three mug shots. Nope. Jan don’t work that way. About anything. When you ask Jan for a favor…you get 1,000% of her attention and creative concentration…and there’s just no easy way of saying this: she just blows things out of the water….but for YOU. Her creative mind is always cranking and now I’d just put myself [back] on her radar.

Oy, what have I done?

Yes, I’ve been there before! Jan is an amazing person, and if you ever get the chance to work with her, drop whatever you’re doing and do it! It’s humbling and awe-inspiring! From her website:

My strength is understanding story structure and audience psychology…knowing what the viewer “needs” to see, and when, in order to keep them engaged, entertained, and satisfied with their viewing experience.[www.forest-rose-productions.com]

And she ain’t no slouch there. I was far from being her first rodeo on the subject. She manipulated me for my photo shoot like the consummate professional she is. It did actually bring me back to my short-lived modeling “career.” She’s done this for a living, among other things, as a film producer, screenwriter, video editor, artist, tutor, and author. You’ll note I said “among other things.” She’s won awards and co-produced a retrospective touted as the “quintessential history of Disneyland,” for Buena Vista Home Video (a Disney company). Her current project is titled, “A Journey with Strange Bedfellows,” is a classic Victorian “steampunk” Gothic horror audio drama that is also a graphic novel, music album, and educators’ guide, and it’s really cool! [www.a-strange-journey.com] See? She even goes all-out on her own work, spreading it out across multiple platforms! Jan is just plain fun to work with!

Anyway, no sooner had I opened my mouth, when she started talking costumes and props and location scouting…and I had to throttle her back right there, because I’m not into lions and tigers and bears, oh—dang it, really? Now I gotta go location scouting?—but she did get me to thinking. I did have to, you know, wear something…so whether or not you call them “costumes,” you do have to think about what you’re gonna wear. Patterns, Jan tells me, really aren’t what you wanna wear…it’s distracting…unless that’s what you want to do. So, okay, Jan, fine, you win on that account. I put out an array of clothing (aka “costumes”) and she selected the best of them for our purposes.

Props: no, Jan, I’m not into “props”…just me…you know…a couple-a-headshots…bing, bang, boom!…we’re done. Don’t wanna abuse your time and all because I do know how busy you are and you’re semi-retired, and, but on the way out of the house, I thought, huh—props? How about—

So, I grabbed our largest kitchen knife.

Crap: she got me there, too. I now had a “prop” in my possession (um, wrapped in a towel, you know, because walking around out in public with a large, shiny knife….).

Jan C J Jones, Forest Rose Productions, LLC.

Jan C J Jones, Forest Rose Productions, LLC.

During the couple of weeks leading up to all this she kept pinging me on how my location scouting was doing.  Fine, I said. Kinda. Had all kinds of excuses for not doing it, cause, you know, this was just gonna be a couple-a-headshots…but I thought, okay, she has a great point here. My original intent was an hour or two shoot around the house, maybe Garden of the Gods…or, hey, how about…yes!—how about a cemetery! I mean my writing is all about peeking behind that thin caul of reality, right? Buncha short stories about graves, and death, and dying? One with a knife, even (“Clowns“). There is a cemetery I really like in the area, large deciduous trees and all…a kinda Night of the Living Dead look to part of it. As to Garden of the Gods, Jan told me that shooting in well-known locations can be problematic…possibly requiring permits, yada x 3. I really wanted to make this easy on Jan, so—<buzzer sound!>—that was out. But, the more I thought about the cemetery, the more I liked it! We also used the gardens of a mausoleum we both knew of.

But let me clarify…I didn’t want it all about cemeteries. But cemeteries and their ilk can have cool surrounds…leafy trees…beautiful landscaping…and that’s why I chose those two locations. We could shoot the creepy stuff…but also accentuate the portfolio with non-creepy stuff, and (pardon the pun) kill two birds with one [grave]stone. By the way, cemeteries sometimes have such incredible artwork…but few will see it…or only see it in times of great emotional distress…so will miss the beauty of the artwork in and itself. I do recommend you find a cemetery with such artwork, and just walk through it with a clear head…you might just be amazed at what you find!

So…<sigh>…Jan got me there, too, with location scouting. Good thing I “throttled her back” right at the onset.

So we headed out!

It was an overcast day, which turns out to be perfect for photography! The uniform lighting! There was a forecast for “a chance of rain,” but it never materialized. Maybe a sprinkle or two, but nothing thunderous and sheeting. So, it worked out beautifully. We shot at the cemetery, the mausoleum, and my home. The sun came out at the tail end of our photo shoot…too much squinting for yours truly, so we ended all that. Then we brainstormed a couple of special effects (SFX) set-ups we could do…so we took a couple of “staged” shots for those that would look odd in a portfolio if you didn’t know why they were there (like “back” or “butt” shots of me on a step stool against a white wall…backlit shots in the garage…these would be SFX’d if needed), and Jan worked her magic on some of them and they turned out totally cool! We ended up with just shy of 500 shots…but since some were taken in preparation for SFX work, and some we were simply experimenting with, not all will see the light of day…and to be honest, after a while of going through a lot of them (I still haven’t gone through all of them), I’m getting tired of my own face….

But.

Now I have up-to-date images I can send to those who request them. I’ve already begun to update my social media Gravatars and all. I even have some images we can mess around with for cool effects. Jan really went light-years out of her way in helping me get far more out of my simple request than I’d even dreamed of. And, again, that is just how she operates. She’s not half-assed about anything she does…and she will get you to think in directions you never considered thinking or going. Granted, this may be a “minor” example, but it’s salient. I’ve known and worked with Jan for years, and this is how she operates in everything she does. She’s quite simply a most wonderful woman!

So…I’m a bit apprehensive to include any photos here, because I really don’t want to appear narcissistic…as I said, I’m quite over looking at my own face…but I thought it might be appropriate because of my previous modeling post…and to show some samples of Jan’s work. So…okay, I’ve included a few of the shots we took. We had fun, experimented, and came up with some good images I can use for a good couple years…and for that, I am extremely grateful and indebted to Jan for her experience, expertise, and friendship. Thank you, Jan, for taking an entire day out of your busy schedule to help a guy out!

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Jan C J Jones, Executive Producer/Writer, Forest Rose Productions, LLC, Information

Forest Rose Productions, LLC

Forest Rose Productions, Facebook

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PO Box 1948
Monument, CO 80132
719/487-0435

E-mail: jcjjones@aol.com

Strange Bedfellows Project: www.a-strange-journey.com

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My Short-Lived Modeling Career (fpdorchak.wordpress.com)

 

What Dreams Are Made Of

Everyone Needs A Vacation Now And Then. (Image by By Deepshikha Sansanwal [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Everyone Needs A Vacation Now And Then. (Image by By Deepshikha Sansanwal [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

Wow, when I first reread this at the end of June, it just blew me away! I’d forgotten about this story, but once I began reading it—not unlike the character in the story—I began remembering things… creepy, unsettling things. Well, about the story. But not all of it! I was thinking about placing this in November… then, when I finished reading it, I just had to place it sooner.

I love these kinds of stories!

I think you’ll see what I mean once you get into it—and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! There are several instances in this story that are taken from real life: the scene where the character remembers a childhood moment about getting out in the rain to use a restroom and that talk about lights on the pavement—I still remember that moment as a kid as I was the one doing it…remember the lights sparkling on the late-night/early morning pavement; the talk about Dr Pepper…yup remember that day; the time my dad and us went camping on a small island—also true. I also remember at least one—maybe two?—times we went to a KOA.

And the van. Well, that’s taken from a time when I was a kid returning from swimming at the lake across from our house and a van pulled up before me…”asking for directions.” A guy opened the rear sliding door and leaned out to me in a really creepy mode and I suddenly felt quite uncomfortable. You have to understand that where we lived we got stopped many times during the summer and were asked for directions, mainly from Canadians, but never had I ever felt uncomfortable. This time I did. And there were three guys in the van. Right about then, my dad comes purposefully striding down our crushed-stone driveway with a mattock in one hand. “Can I help you boys with something?” my dad calls out from across the road.

They suddenly forgot their question. Sped off.

Years later I asked my dad about that situation and he said he’d asked his State Trooper buddies and they told him they’d found that van down the road a way, abandoned. That it had been stolen.

This story has never been published.

 

What Dreams Are Made Of

© F. P. Dorchak, 1994

 

Wake up, Harry, time to go!

Words that were more than a distant echo, they were pain. I tossed about, caught in blankets that refused release. It seemed an eternity before I finally broke free. It was so comfortable, the warmth of my bed. So unyielding.

Let’s go, Harry

The words again. Do I know the speaker? I feel I should. Where am I? What time is it?

Summer. That’s right—summer. The first day of summer vacation. I’m home from my first year at Syracuse. Damn, but how those finals twisted your thinking around, getting you to believe there’s nothing outside of school. Nichts. Professors’d have you believe there’s only English Lit, Physics I (and lab), German for Beginners, and any of a number of other courses you’d rather forget. I’ve got big plans, so I bulked up this year. Twenty-one credits. It nearly killed me.

Where am I?

I open my eyes to find it dark, and feel movement. We’re in a car…but I just thought I was at home—the bed, the blankets

It’s raining outside, a constant, soaking rain. A comforting sound if you’ve ever just listened to it.

I’m so tired!

The voice stops calling me, but reminds me of a time when I was a kid, about thirteen, I think. My dad and us would all pile into that red station wagon of ours at one in the morning. Our big vacation down into Pennsylvania. Amish country. We’d drive straight through, stopping only for potty breaks. Once we stopped at a gas station early one morning. It was also dark and raining. Dad had stopped and Mom had asked us (there were four of us) if we’d needed to use the rest rooms. My sister and I had, and we’d sprinted through the rain until we made shelter, did our business, then sprinted back. I thought how neat it had looked, lights sprinkled across the damp, rain-pockmarked pavement. The fact that it was maybe three in the morning, and the rest of the world was still snuggled away in bed. It was so peaceful, so mystical.

But now I’m traveling down an unknown road with my dad behind the wheel, and Mom, no doubt (because I haven’t actually gotten around to poking up my head yet), sitting against him, eyes closed; drinking in the steady hum and rock of the station wagon, as was I.

But I need to get my act together.

When did I get here? I remember how we’d talked about taking a trip when I got back from college, all of us, but I also remember something else, just outside the memories. I wasn’t coming straight back after school. I was going somewhere else first…a party. Yes, that’s what it was. There had been this party someone I knew was throwing, or maybe not someone I knew…but there was this party I was to go to. Only then was I going to begin my trip north…hitchhiking…to my home at Dead Bog Lake. Despite its name, a beautiful, deep lake that we lived directly across from, complete with boathouse and lakefront property. Dark waters. My dad’s a Forest Ranger. Mom works as an Administrative Assistant down at Land’s End, a rich folk’s estate. But something doesn’t feel right…isn’t complete…like I’m missing a crucial part to some puzzle.

Have I remembered something wrong?

The car’s slowing. We’re coming to a stop. Potty break. Not for me; I don’t have to go this time.

It’s still raining.

 

We’ve been going for several hours now, and I lift my head. Dad’s driving, his right arm around Mom, who’s fast asleep. He and Mom are all wet, as I notice, I am too. The car pleasantly smells of Borkum Riff pipe tobacco, the only brand my dad used. Smoking’s supposed to be bad for you, but I love that smell, especially that brand. Besides, he’s my dad; he’ll live forever.

“Almost there, Son,” my dad calls back. His voice brings out such deep emotional tones from me. I wonder where the rest of us are: Stephen, John—Lindsey. Is it just me on this trip? I guess they all had other commitments. It’s been a while since I’ve seen my folks—about a year. Christmas vacation I had to spend at an apprenticeship downstate. I didn’t mind—I knew I’d see everybody soon enough, and this was school—my first year, as I’ve already said. My first year as—

(how could I have forgotten?)

The car again slows. Mom’s up. She turns around to look at me, strands of hair matted against her face. She looks as if she’s been crying, but her voice betrays no such emotion. “Hello, dear,” she says, “did you have a good nap?”

“Sure did, Ma,” I say, pleasantly. Her voice also makes me feel warm. I’m happy to be home again. Feels like I haven’t been this warm in a while. After all, don’t know the next time we’ll be together. Like I’ve said before, I’ve got big plans for yours truly….

“Well,” continues Mom, turning back to the front, “we’re here.”

“That’s right,” Dad agrees.

God, I love that tobacco. Cancer or no cancer, it’s a comfortable smell. Brings back warm, cathartic memories: fireplaces, Dad-talks and walks. Fishing. Lord, how it’s so easy to get wrapped up in

(blankets)

studies. School. Fucking finals just throw your life all to hell. But that’s past. We’re on vacation now. Just the three

(where are the others?)

of us.

 

We unload the wagon. Still, it’s raining. Heavily clouded—like we’re going to get squashed between heaven and earth—

It’s a beautiful day.

There’s no one else around. That’s fine, we’re not here to see others. It’s funny that there was only this one old man at the KOA entrance. No one anywhere else. The man had no teeth, it looked like, but a big fat grin. Pulpy face. “Thirty bucks,” he’d grunted. Dad gave him the cash and we found a spot.

“Hey, young man,” my dad shouts out over the top of the car as I reach over to unload, “you sit your butt down. This is your vacation. Let your mother and I do the work. You’ve done quite enough already!”

For some unnerving reason, I don’t quite know how to take that, but okay, I say, and pick out a stump. I almost fall down. My feet are tangled in that damned blanket again. Christ. But the blanket reminds me of the time we went down to Gettysburg, Pee-Aee. We’d stopped along the road one sunny day at a rather large rest area. Mom had pulled out a blanket—probably this very same one—and spread it out over the grass. We sat under a large shade tree. Dad had gone to the soda machine and spent his change getting all six of us sodas.

Dr Pepper. I love Dr Pepper.

Ah, vacations. I wonder how many more I’ll get to go on before I’ve become part of The Working Class. Before—if and when—I ever have a family of my own.

Now there’s a thought.

 

The tent’s all set up and the rain pummels us harder. Dad started a fire that managed to keep itself going despite the downpour, and Mom was busy cooking fish we’d caught after making camp. I love the smell of roasting trout.

“You couldn’t have picked a nicer day, dear,” Mom said, beaming to Dad. Thunder rumbled its throaty growl across a fractured, purple sky.

“Yep, well, I try to get God to bend an ear every now and then.”

They laugh, and Mom curiously eyes Dad. I didn’t for some reason; something still nags at me. It had to do with that party, I think. I’m not really sure, and that bugs me. What went on there? Where was it? Did I even make it? Why is everything so damned hazy? I need to sort things out.

“Mom; Dad; I need to take a walk.”

They both look at me like I’d slashed my wrists or something.

“Honey,” Mom suggests, her voice quivering, “how about we go with you? I mean…how often do we get to see you? You know? You’re away in college; probably take another apprenticeship—who knows?”

I reconsider. She has a point. Anyway, I guess I really wouldn’t mind the company, but I shiver. “Okay.”

Mom and Dad are back to smiles.

“It’s a beautiful evening for a stroll, anyway!” my dad boasts, large drops of water still raging down from an angry sky.

 

We walk. Mom and Dad are in front of me some. I hold back. They’re like lovers rediscovering romance. That’s cool. I don’t have a girlfriend. A couple girls I boinked back in school, but that’s about it. Lookers, too. Well, one was more homely-looking than the others, but, boy, the largest set of knockers. She had this red hair and cute freckles. I met her while working the information booth at the student union. Her name was Anna, and she was also new, looking for some information about movies and stuff. One thing led to another, and we ended up doing the nasty. She had the largest, deepest brown eyes. So understanding and open. God, how I suddenly miss them. I couldn’t loved her. I can’t wait to get back to her. But summer came, and she went to her home in the Catskills and I headed north to the Adirondacks.

North.

To that party.

I’d hitchhiked. Didn’t tell my folks, they wouldn’t have approved. Shit, my dad’s a Forest Ranger, next best thing to a cop up there; a gun, cuffs, and everything. Ranger of the woods. They didn’t always carry ’em, the guns and handcuffs. I can remember when he told me how scary—my word, not his; I don’t remember what he used—it was to him that they were told they had to. Was a big change for The Department. That and all those Coll-edge boys. They’re taking over the place, he complained. Don’t know a damned thing about the woods, but sure are makin policy.

So I get this ride north. Actually more than one, it’s a bit of a ride by the speed limit—which is about all you can do with all those damned troopers out there. They just keep spilling out of the State Police Academy. Thicker’n gnats on a hot summer’s evening, Dad says. Uckers—

That’s when I fall. Now, I mean, following my folks. I tripped over a log I wasn’t paying attention to.

(what’s so important about the log?)

Mom and Dad hear me tumble and turn to me in wide-eyed horror. Rush to my side.

“You okay, Son?” Dad asks, hastily checking me over. Mom’s examining my face, wrists, and ankles. She used to be a nurse.

“You look okay. How do you feel?” she asks.

I start laughing. “I’m fine, Mom! I just wasn’t watching where I was going, that’s all.”

“Well you should know better than that, young man, or there won’t be a next time,” Dad spit. His face was set. Puffed and angered.

“Now, Lloyd, there’s no need to get all out of sorts. It was a simple mistake. You can’t fault him for lack of judgment. He’s young—still learning.”

“Just think what could’ve happened!” he insists.

“But nothing did…here,” Mom said. She brought a hand to his face, trying to calm him down.

“Dad—I’m all right, really. Remember that time I put my hand through that door window—the facial cuts looked worse than they w—”

These ain’t no facial cuts, dammit.”

“Okay, okay,” I say, “I’ll be more careful next time, all right?” I pick myself up and brush off the mud. After all, it’s still raining, though more of a drizzle now. Mom pulls Dad away. I see the fire in his eyes. Why all the fuss? All I did was trip. Over a

(familiar)

log

Sheesh.

 

We complete our walk and return to our camp. Water has already started to build up around it. It’s late now, so we hit the sack, but I don’t sleep well. I feel this constriction around my neck, but each time I reach to loosen it, there’s nothing there. I lay on my stomach to look out our tent, into the night, and wonder what’s out there. I listen to that pleasant pitter-patter of rain and watch the drops splash in the water about the tent. Don’t touch the sides of the tent, my Dad used to say, it’ll kill the waterproof. I don’t. It’s so quiet. So peaceful. The smell of wet things and rain. I feel at home. How strange, I’ve never been here before—or have I? Doesn’t really matter does it? I mean, vacation is vacation, whether or not you’ve been there before. I like it here. We’re by ourselves.

What more could you ask for?

 

I must have finally dozed off last night, because I’m the last to get up. The rain has let up some, and is now only a misty drizzle, but water is everywhere…like an enormous wading pool. I pushed myself up out of it and exit the tent.

“Good morning, hon!” Mom greets. She’s already getting a start on the day, clad in a swim suit on a reclining lawn chair. She’s holding a sun reflector under her chin. I notice how the water mists on the reflector under her neck and get that eerie feeling again.

“Good morning, Son,” Dad says. He’s cooking up fish and bacon, but it smells funny. The day feels thick and I feel sluggish. Just a little weak. I look down to my feet before I walk any farther and see that damned blanket again wrapped around my ankles. I caught it this time so I don’t fall. Dad ought to like that.

“What would you like to do today, honey?” Mom asks.

“Gee, I really haven’t given it much thought, Mom.”

“Well, you better start giving it some thought, mister, or your vacation’ll be over before you know it. Do you want that?” Dad asks.

Do you really want that?

Suddenly I’m no longer hungry. All I want is a Dr Pepper.

“There’s one in the cooler, dear,” Mom says. I get it. It’s in a bottle. An old, crusty one with dirt encrusted under the cap’s lip.

“I didn’t know they made these in bottles anymore,” I say.

Mom looks up at me, kind of queerly, and says, “oh, they don’t.” She says it just like I should have known better. Sitting down on a large log by the campfire, I

(logs)

watch Dad.

“Be careful not to fall over that thing,” he says severely, looking over a shoulder and shuttling the fire.

“Oh, Lloyd, take it easy on the boy,” Mom counters, and he mumbles something under his breath. Dad’s only toying with the fish now.

“Dad, uh, are you going to eat that?” I ask.

“No, at least I hadn’t planned on it.”

“What’s that with it? Bacon?”

“No.”

“What is it?”

“It’s…it’s seaweed, okay? Kelp.”

(seaweed)

“It adds…flavor…to the fish. It’s something I learned in the Navy.”

Oh, I nod. Some things are better left unasked.

 

After not eating breakfast, we go off for our hike into the rain-soaked woods. Mom and Dad, instead of being close to each other, this time are very much apart. Carrying on a discussion that they tried not to let me in on, but I still catch in pieces.

“…but it’s a vacation, dear,” she whisper’s. “Who cares?” Dad says, “it’s only going to end—then we’ll all have to go back home. Go back to the way things are.” “So?” Mom says, “what’s the difference? What’s done is done. We’ll have next year.” “Sure,” Dad says, but then I lose track of what they’re saying and remember another trip we’d taken. A canoe trip. Just Dad and us kids. Fish Creek I think? We’d canoed out to a small island and set up camp. All the essentials taken care of, we set out swimming around the island. Well, more like snorkeling. Dad was right there in the water with us. It was a dark, sandy shore. Smooth, silky, water.

(feels so familiar)

It felt great. We just drifted. Became one with the water.

(why do I feel so uncomfortable?)

Later in the day we hung out in the tent, and the sky began to howl rain down upon us in sheets. We were situated under trees, but the force of the rain was incredible. It shook our tent, sent little tributaries of water inside the fabric along the seams. Water rushed down on all sides of our little shelter and we got scared. Dad asked us if we wanted to stay. We chickened out. The rain let up and we broke camp and hightailed it back to the truck across rough open water before it again opened up on us.

Rain.

(rain rain go away come again another)

Party.

Water.

I shake with a sudden, tremendous awareness.

I remember my hitchhike now.

I remember two men—and a woman. A van. A ragged, rusty-looking thing that seemed to have weeds or

(kelp)

hanging from it. Had I known it was so ragged looking I wouldn’t have stuck out my thumb, but it was getting dark that day and I was almost home. Hell, I thought, one more try. They’d stopped, and the guy in the back slid open the side door. There was a strange look to his eyes. I felt

(like I do now)

uncomfortable. But I was already there, know what I mean? No turning back. Tough guy…can handle myself. That’s when I hear this female behind him telling him to either let me in or to close the fucking door. I get in. Mistake number one. I smell incense. I’ve always hated the smell of the stuff. She’s in the back, in a dark corner, and when she sees me, comes out. She liked me. Thought I was cute. As we drive, I tell them about this party I’d gone to. They tell me about another.

Where? I ask.

Dead Bog, they tell me.

Really? You from there?

From around there, they say. Wanna come?

I-I don’t know, I stammer. I really should just get home.

You nervous? the girl asks. She’s pretty fine looking under those haggard eyes and ratty hair and clothes. I notice what looks like an old, deteriorated cameo choker of some kind around her throat. Her breasts float out from under her blouse as she leans over to me. I swallow hard. I mean hard. No, I reply.

Well, good, we wouldn’t want that, now, would we? she says.

Just then the guy in the back with us whispers into her ear. She smiles, one of her hands caressing a nipple. I look away. I definitely feel like I got myself into something I shouldn’t have. Hey, I say, you can let me off anywhere you want, you know. I wouldn’t want to be a bother. It’s not much farther, and—

The girl comes over and puts an arm around me. Her body brushes up against mine. We have something we’d really like to show you, she says. At first I swear she’s cold, a friggin damp cold, but that quickly passed as I saw more dark nipple. Her breath smelled of something I couldn’t quite put a finger on, but was, it turned out, alarmingly arousing. Her eyes were dark slits of seduction.

No bother, Harry, they say, we’re your friends. Don’t you like us?

Ah, sure, I say. Sure.

We can be pretty friendly, she says.

Sure.

I want her. There’s something incredibly erotic about the way she moves. Breathes.

Now just relax, and we’ll all have a good time at this party of ours. I’m just going to change, she says. No prob’lem, I say, but before I realize it, she’s stripping down before me, keeping her eyes on me. She lifts a finger to her lips, lips I suddenly feel very much like eating…biting right out of her mouth. I watch as her lips part and she places the finger between them, hooking her lower teeth. I become her finger and feel her lips wrap around me. Watch and feel their moisture as she sucks, closes her eyes. I want her so much it hurts, but remember the guy who’s in back with us. I think back to my family and wonder how I got into this mess. I feel hopelessly distanced from my life. My mom and dad, brothers and sister. None of this feels right. None of it. But I’m aroused, painfully aroused, and need more. She’s naked, now, openly flirting with me. I know the guy’s watching, but I can’t help myself. Her body is smooth and available and I want her in the most evil of ways and I no longer care if he’s there. I need those lips. For real. Those breasts. I want whatever it is she has, and I’ll pay whatever price she demands.

She leans back, knees teasing back and forth, breasts falling comfortably to their places. She stares at me. Begins to run her finger about her body. Inside and outside of places. Her scent is heady. I think of Mom. Would she approve of what I’m about to do? Would Dad take me outside and slap me on the back and say, “Hey, way to go, stud!“?

You sure you don’t want some? the girl teases. She doesn’t have to read my mind. I no longer mind the incense. Before I know it, she’s brushing her finger under my lips. Around them. I shut my eyes, drugged by her touch.

Fuck, I’d kill for her.

Gently she presses her finger between my lips and wedges it in…again forming that hook. I’m so drunk with her I can’t see straight. I grab hold of her and try to force myself upon her, but she holds me back. Slowly, she says, but I don’t want slowly.

I seem to have lost consciousness as my heart pounds up into my throat. I feel like I’m suffocating and suddenly find the girl atop me, her hair flying wildly about her, almost floating. She moans; gyrates. Claws at me. Then she explodes…and I explode with her….

 

I am jolted back to my walk. Dad and Mom are sitting on a stump holding hands and looking at me. Really looking at me. I feel guilty, like they know my thoughts. Had I really done that? Had I really—and do they know?

They get up and walk away. I feel like shit.

God, it’s all coming back to me. Those people. That van. That party; a party I should never have gone to. I stand up shakily. I don’t feel right. I raise a hand to my face and wipe away the water that runs down it. I trace my face and neck and flinch. There’s a painful, ringed area around my throat. I can’t see it, of course, but I do feel it. That girl…raped me. Those people…I was seduced. They—

Aren’t human. Something about them was…is…will always be…wrong.

I looked around for my parents, but they already head back for camp; Dad with his head down, Mom casting me a backward glance. She pulls Dad into her and cradles his head against her.

What’s wrong? I wonder. What did I do?

I sit there for some time before heading back. The rain’s stronger and colder. Like little knives raining down from the sky. The water’s up to my knees now and I schlosh through it. My sneakers are swollen and heavy. Water is everywhere, rising higher. It’s like a shallow lake with bushes and trees sticking out from it. Me. But I need to remember more. That girl…whatever she was…is…continued to attack me—

Or had I attacked her?

Oh, how I was intoxicated with her! Her scent! I could smell her passion like a beast in heat. Even now, when I remember how her body moved, I feel an instant need to have her. Seek her out and take her as no man has ever taken anyone before. I want her—and the pain.

She taunts.

 

Finally we had gotten to Dead Bog Lake, and their party; down through a windy, shaded road. I felt strangely nostalgic as we passed my house, lights on in the kitchen. I saw a shadow at one of the windows and felt sad, like I’d never see them again…yet I had her.

That’s all I really needed.

We drove to the outskirts of town, well, actually a township—a hamlet—until just before the outlet. There’s a strong, fishy smell to the air. We pull into a driveway and there’s all sorts of vehicles, all kinds of people. And all the vehicles look as did the one I came in. Decayed and rusted. Covered in vegetation. As we stop, the others, The Three, as I came to call them, pile out of the van, and I’m left sitting in it alone, staring out into the mass of people, bonfire, and booze. The party feels odd. Smells corrupt. I try to get a good look at some of the people, but it’s difficult. It’s dark now, and the voices seem a jumble. Where is that girl—I don’t even know her name.

How had things gotten so out of control?

I stumble out of the van and lean against it for a moment. I could just keep walking…right on up that road…to home…with the golden kitchen lights and my parents waiting up for me. They think I’m still on the road.

Again the guilt.

Home was so close, yet this woman and her seduction much closer. I hear my name and spot her. She’s waving for me. This isn’t right, isn’t right at all. Things are feeling more and more absurd, more remote as moments pass. I feel a sudden urgency to run—to just get the hell out of there and as quickly as fucking possible. I feel a dark shape stalking me from the shadows. Huge, looming, and thirsty. Burrowing into my deepest, most recessed and cobwebbed of places, and find it difficult to breathe. Thunder cracks out along the darkened sky. Deep, drawn-out rumblings that seem to go on forever.

Mistake number two, I follow after this girl.

She is just as naked as when I last saw her. She moves her hips in wicked, sinful ways further igniting my lust. A man grabs her and they disappear from view. I rage! I must have her, my body screams, and I lunge after her. I will kill that man. I will rip apart his body!

But I’d lost them. My head spins.

I need her. I MUST HAVE HER!

I stumble about. Cannot see clearly. A red haze blinds me and grips my senses. All I can picture is her body, wrapped around that man.

Hear.

Her crazed desire.

I lash out, wanting to give her nothing but pure pain.

Little deaths, I laugh, I’ll give her many.

I push through the crowd, bellowing my passion and anger. I hit shapes that were supposed to be people, but feel funny and soft. Bloated. I didn’t care. I’m insane for her. My name is sung above the rising storm, above the din and clatter of the party, and I follow it down to the lake shore. To where I spot her, indeed wrapped around that man, their bodies rocking in the sand. Her screams are the only sounds I hear. My head splits with jealous furor! I shake with anticipation of tasting blood. His blood. I will slowly rend that man’s flesh from his bones.

When a sudden thought strikes me cold: what would my parents think?

Godwhat do I care?

But as I continue forward, I begin to slow. My head hangs heavy for my conscience is strong.

What have I become? What in God’s name have I become?

I look up and find her alone. Gyrating like Mata Hari. Teasing. Again. I try to look away, but cannot. I try to walk back to the road, the one behind me and a million miles away. But I…can’t….

Sorry, Mom.

Dad.

 

I shake the memory from my mind. I’m back at camp with my mother and father, aghast of my recollections. I can barely believe them. The water is chest level, now, and Mom and Dad are sitting by the station wagon staring at me. I go to them. Maybe I don’t need to know everything. Maybe I can still enjoy what’s left of our vacation. I mean, how often do we get together? What’s done is done, right?

“Mom; Dad,” I begin, but they just stare at me. I don’t finish what’s on my mind. Something is lost between us. They look worn out and wasted. The water continues to rise; the downpour steady and forceful.

“It’s a good day, isn’t it?” Mom finally says to Dad. Her words are flat. Two-dimensional. Dad merely nods. “Remember more,” he says to me. “Go on.” Then he hands me a plate of whole, raw fish on a bed of kelp.

I scrunch my brow together. “Why?”

“Because you’re going to anyway.”

“What’s happening?”

“Everything. Let’s go inside, dear,” Dad says to Mom, and they disappear beneath the water and enter the tent. I’m left alone.

I remember it all, all right, and I’m angry. They tricked me, just like everyone else at that party. Like they tricked—

 

I want to go home, I tell that devil-woman back at the party.

You’re not going anywhere, she hisses back.

You can’t keep me here, I say, and begin to leave—but she grabs me. I’m spun around, and no longer is she the seductress I knew, but a bloated, distended horror. I can’t even tell if it was a male or female corpse I stared into the empty eye sockets of.

We’re not done with you yet, he/she/it seethes.

I see things crawl beneath her skin. I scream. The others are upon me. I reach up to push them off, but my hands sink into bloated and stinking flesh. I am forced to the wet, muddy ground. Hands are all over me, tearing off my clothes…she—it—straddles atop me. I want to die. Please, God, just die.

What’s the matter, she gurgles, you no longer want to kill for me?

I freeze. She brings her lips down to mine—I cannot take this! Kill me! KILL me! What are you?

They laugh. We cannot tell you, they say, laughing, but we’d really like to show you

Out from behind my vision, a large water-soaked log is dragged. A noose is fastened around my neck and attached to the log.

We can’t wait to have you in our little family

 

I no longer want to think. I sit at the camp, the water now over my head. I’m still holding the plate of fish Dad gave me. I no longer fear the water, for now I know it’s coming back to claim me. Mom and Dad are out of the tent, plowing through the water like nothing’s going on.

“Hello, dear,” Mom says. “Would you like some dessert? Fish?”

I jump to my feet and toss away the plate in anger. My mother looks to me, saddened.

“Well, I guess that’s it, then,” she says, and she sighs and goes back to my father, who seems to be crying, but I can’t tell because of all the water. We’re a part of it now.

I feel heavy.

I try to go after my parents as they return to the van, but find I can’t. There’s a log tied to my neck. It’s heavy and I have many rope burns. I try to loosen it, but it’s impossible. All I can do is watch as my parents pack up and leave.

Didn’t we arrive in a station wagon?

I sit back down, log lashed to my throat, and watch them disappear into the murky, underwater distance. Then I see others. Three others. I grow cold. Shiver. I know them. As they get closer, they beckon. They are The Three. Reclaiming me. I get up to follow them and find I am not at the campground, but Dead Bog Lake. To where I’ve always been. It was a dream. All of it. A vacation from the bottom of its dark and cursed waters. I awaken to my place among the fish and the seaweed. Where my feet are eternally tangled.

(no blanket)

Where the log keeps me.

(no more tripping and falling)

Where my old, dirt-filled Dr Pepper bottle lies directly before my own dead and glassy eyes.

(no more coolers)

And now I know things. About this lake. About my new family and my new life. The girl and the guy in the back of the van drowned in 1807. A canoeing accident. The driver of the van drowned in 1973. Drunk, he’d driven off an embankment into the lake. And the old man at the KOA? He’d killed someone back in ’51. Robbed a man for thirty bucks, only to be tracked down and killed by the kin, then thrown into the dark, slippery waters. The party was bait, as were The Three. As I will be so used. Bait for the lake to reel in more. Set its hooks. A lake with a dark, unspeakable hunger.

And once the taste of meat is acquired, it’s a hard thing to shake.

 

Short Story Links

Links to all my posted short stories are here.

 

Bloodtales and Flies

We Got Us A Bleeder! (Image by By Crystal [Crystl] from Bloomington, USA [Flickr] CC BY 2.0, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

We Got Us A Bleeder! (Image by By Crystal [Crystl] from Bloomington, USA [Flickr] CC BY 2.0, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

This hideous and disturbing little tale from the mind of a twenty-six-year-old will surely disgust.

So, why post it?

Because it definitely shows the weird lengths to which my stories ideas ran their gamut. It is a decent story, as the horror genre goes.

And it’s just plain weird

I mean, why and how would something like this happen?

And that final scene?

A roommate named “Rino“?

There’s probably a reason why this one was never published, but I just couldn’t put it away once I read it. I had to clean it up. Work on it a little. It, too, was one of my earliest works. No “metaphysics” here—just straight “horror,” all the way!

And at the end of it is what is today termed “flash” fiction. It’s called “Flies.” It’s not much, but it was attached, so I included it. I experimented in writing as short of a story as possible before it became in vogue to do so; or at least that I was aware of. “Flies” was inspired by my dad. One summer when I was a kid, my dad, a Forest Ranger, had been putting up his “Forest Ranger” sign in front of the house. We were all in the kitchen…and in bursts my dad, rushing toward the sink. He gulped down several chugs of water. You’ll understand after you read it.

So, sit back and hold on…and have that barf bag ready….

These stories have never been published.

 

Bloodtales

© F. P. Dorchak, 1987

“Fuck.” Jerry’s hand went up to his neck, a meniscus of blood forming at the wound. “Shit,” he hissed, putting the electric razor down and reaching into the cabinet for the straight-edge. “I thought electric razors weren’t supposed to draw blood.”

“That depends,” said his roommate. passing by the bathroom where Jerry was shaving.

“Depends on what?” Jerry asked, fumbling with a piece of toilet paper on the cut while trying to remove the straight-edge from with the cabinet.

“That depends on how big your zits are, whether or not you have ingrowns, and how soft your baby-skin is. In your case—”

“Don’t even say it.” Jerry used the razor blade to clean up what the electric razor didn’t get. “Fuck—” Jerry said, throwing the razor blade back into the cabinet, his blood now on both instruments.

“Oh what’s the matter, roomy? Pubie’s get caught?”

“Oh fuck you, too. Damn, I just can’t win this morning. First I cut myself shaving with an electric razor, then again with a blade!” He got out the Stypstik, cursing again when the blood mixed with its astringent.

“Will you get out of there before you kill yourself already!” Rino shouted, his face buried in a bowl of corn flakes. Jerry emerged, half a roll of toilet paper wrapped around his neck. Rino burst out laughing, sending a flurry of milk and cereal across the room, and up his nose.

“Get out! You look like ‘It came from the Mummy’s Toilet’ or something.” Rino wiped breakfast from his face with an arm and swept corn flakes off the table and onto the floor, as he looked at his ailing roommate. “God you look ridiculous.”

 

Jerry was ten minutes late for classes. He hated walking in late, everyone’s attention focused in on you. If you had your fly open, they’d see it. If you had some snot hanging from your nose they’d see it. If anything stood out, it automatically became glaring even if it was nothing more than a tiny zit. You were in the spot-light and that’s all that mattered.

So in Jerry walked, tail between his legs.

A Band-Aid announced its presence from the side of his neck by imaginary three-D arrows floating around, pointing to it.

Jerry sat at his seat, his face turning pretty colors.

“Pssst, Jerry, who gave you the hickey, man?” a classmate whispered. Jerry ignored him.

“C’mon Jerry, who did it?” the voice snickered to classmates.

Jerry turned around to the guy, hissing a little louder than he would have liked too.

“No one gave me a damned hickey—”

“Is there something a matter back there?” Mr. Armstead paused in his lecture and looked to Jerry’s direction. Everyone went quiet, except for some snickers and smiles.

“No, nothing a matter,” Jerry said.

“Good then I suggest we continue. And please try not to be late anymore Mr. Hollier. Oh, and Mr. Hollier?”

Jerry looked up.

“Yes?”

“Please do have that hickey looked at, will you?”

The class lost it.

 

After lunch in the university cafeteria, Jerry picked up his books, am made for his next class. As he walked through the entrance, a long-haired brunette wearing a tight skirt wiggled past. He followed her with his eyes…as someone entering behind her and ran into him, knocking him into the door jamb. He slammed his hand between his body and the entryway. It stung.

It bled.

“Thanks pal,” Jerry muttered, sucking at the red as he tried to again find the hot chick.

 

Jerry plopped down in the chair, switched the TV on. “Wonder what’s good on tonight,” he muttered to himself, going through the newspaper’s television guide. His roommate slammed the door Shakespearianly as he made his entrance.

“And have we done our homework before the telly?” Rino asked, standing before the box. He hit the power, turning the TV off.

“Get away you dork,” Jerry said, getting up. He shoved Rino away and turning the TV back on.

“Ok, but don’t blame me if your mind turns to mush and you don’t make it out of here with a solid education.” Looking to the ceiling Rino cried, “His destiny is out of my hands Lord, I tried my best. All I ask is that ye be gentle on him—”

A magazine flew through the air and hit Rino in the face. Rino caught it as it dropped into his hands.

Jerry ran through the stations, finding nothing of interest. It was about one in the morning and he felt like watching something. Grabbing the TV listing once more, he thought he might find something in there he might have skipped all the other twenty times he scanned it. Human optimism.

Yes…he found something…and it was just beginning: “The City that Dripped Blood.” He’d never heard it, but was in the mood for a grade-‘B’ flick. Stretching, his shaving wound from early in the day reminded him it was still there.

“Shit,” he said, reaching for it, “don’t tell me you haven’t healed yet!” Jerry felt around the wound, looked to his hand.

There was fresh blood on it.

“Fuck.”

He got up, headed to the bathroom, but stopped when the program started. Hans Geblutblase starred. It was definitely a foreign job. Settling down, he took another sip from his Coke.

Blood trickled down his neck.

 

At the gym the next day, Jerry was working triceps extensions on a pull-down machine, driving out the last few reps, when the bar slipped from his grip, smacking into his nose. Stinging, he staggered back, several people coming to his aid.

“I’m alright—I’m alright,” Jerry said, waving them off.

“You sure, man?” somebody asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine, really—it’s just a little nose-bleed.” The person on duty at the desk examined him.

“Yeah, he’s ok. How’s your head?”

“Fine.”

“Ok, we all love squeezing out those last few, just try to be a little more careful next time,” the Desk Guy said.

“Don’t worry,” Jerry said, the crowd disbursing. Jerry wiped some of the red away, looked at the bar. He felt more than a little embarrassed and slightly enraged. Deep inside he felt an ire raising. Feeling hot, blood still trickling down his face, he grabbed the swinging bar, yanked the pin out from the weight stack and rammed it down a few more extra pounds, increasing the weight. Growling, he forced out another set, pissed at the interruption of his set. The person who had just inspected him turned upon hearing the noise, and shook his head.

Jerry glanced at himself in the mirror.

He looked mean.

 

The past few days had taken a toll on Jerry’s body, but the odd thing about it was that he didn’t seem to care. He’d collected various and sundry cuts, scrapes, and bruises…and in some cases had not bothered to even cover up some of the bleeders. His roommate was growing somewhat suspicious of his newly aberrant proclivities.

“Um, Jer,” Rino said, approaching Jerry as he was cutting up some cheese for a sandwich.

“Yeah?” Jerry said, intent upon his undertaking with the knife.

“You feeling ok? I mean, lately you’ve been acting a little queer.”

Rino eyed how he handled the serrated blade. From a distance.

“I feel just fine, dude, why?”

“I don’t know. Just trying to keep an eye on my roomy, is all. I’m a little concerned.”

“Well, I am touched Rino—really I am. But Ize just fine!”

Jerry rammed the knife into the cutting board.

Rino jumped.

“Relax!” Jerry said.

Rino shook his head as he backed out, leaving for class.

Jerry returned to the knife and yanked it from the board. He brought it up to the light and admired the glean. Bringing it back down, he fingered the edge of the blade, taunting it’s serrations and blade tip.

The blade then (seemingly) leapt for the soft pink flesh of his hand.

Jerry separated the two in reflex, still holding onto the blade.

That hurt.

But…it also felt…good….

Surprised at how it felt, he put the blade down and took a step back.

He looked to the knife.

That was his blood on the end of that blade.

His sandwich sat nearby. Crumbs were all over the counter. The hacked block of hard cheddar lying uncovered and inculpable.

Slowly, he reapproached the blade.

As if in slow motion, he reached down…his fingers folding around the brown handle. He twisted the blade as he picked it up. His cut finger twinged, but didn’t bother him the way he thought it should. Incredulous, he brought the two together once again.

They greeted like years-apart old friends.

Gossiped a mile a minute.

Hey’d you hear about the new Ekco line?‘ the Blade asked.

No, haven’t,‘ Finger replied, ‘Is it any better?

Sure is!‘ enthusiastically replied Knife.

I can hardly wait!‘ panted the finger, all excited and hot, ‘I want you so bad….’

 

Jerry didn’t know what was becoming of him.

He’d been looking for cuts and scrapes.

Was actually enjoying them.

Like the time he sliced up his finger while making that sandwich. And he didn’t go to the clinic, but just put a Band-Aid on it…only gruffly tear it off periodically throughout the day to see that it was still bleeding. There were times it had actually stopped, and he’d take a pin to it…or scraped off the scab. It felt so good!

Like having sex.

Now there was something he hadn’t had in a while. God, when was the last time? Hmm.

He’d have some new tricks to show the next lucky lady, that’s for sure.

 

When Jerry went out for his run, he hoped he’d take a decent fall or something. In fact, he knew a certain hill that could really tear off some skin.

And it was hot outside.

The hotter the better—make the blood flow even better!

Damn, what was happening to him? He was actually looking for ways to draw blood.

As he ran, he mulled it over…was this what masochists feel?

Who cares! To each their own!

He was coming up to the hill in question, his heart pounding, the anticipation almost too much to bear. He took off his shirt and threw it aside. Sweat pouring off his body, he slowed a bit. He reached down to the road’s shoulder and scooped up some gravel, then rubbed it on his body. A driver passed by and gave him a curious look.

Jerry picked up his pace, a bulge forming in his shorts. He was coming upon the exact spot he’d been thinking of all day—and he saw there was a broken bottle there!

This is going to be great….

 

Rino walked toward the apartment building.

It had been a long day, it was late, and he was so damned apprehensive at coming home anymore. He didn’t know what the hell was the matter with Jerry, but the boy was sick, all joking around aside. He’d tried to keep things light, but things were now getting disturbing.

Really? Collecting blood drippings in a glass in the fridge?

Drinking it?

All he knew was that he used to be a great guy, and now he was turning into some sort of pervert with a blood fetish.

Shit, what was going to be the big surprise now?

Approaching the building, he noticed a light was on, though dim.

And the door was unlocked.

Rino entered cautiously…something wasn’t right…and there was an odd smell that stung his nostrils. His skin crawled with uncomfortable electricity.

He closed the door behind him.

Jerry?”, he called out in a hushed manner, actually hoping he didn’t answer….

Only a candle was lit in Jerry’s bedroom. Rino cautiously made his way toward the room. His hairs pricked up.

He didn’t like this. Butterflies formed in the pit of his stomach.

There were dark stains on the floor between both their bedrooms.

And somebody was in Jerry’s bed.

Jerry?” Rino called out in the same hushed voice.

Still no answer.

He went to the light switch on the wall, flipping it on—and gagged.

Repeatedly.

Laying in the bed, and totally drenched in crimson lay the body of a woman.

From the clothes lying on the floor, it didn’t look like she was a lady of distinction, but one of the streets. Those were his only clues, because the body was so mutilated he couldn’t make out anything more.

The walls.

The ceiling.

He grabbed the door frame, barely able to stay upright as he continued to gag.

Rino? Rino, is that you?” came the voice from his bedroom.

“Oh god,” was all Rino could say.

“I’m in your room! Come on over, Rino, I’ve got something I really want to show you!”

The enthusiasm of Jerry’s voice sent further ripples of nausea through him.

Did you do that? Did you kill that woman?

Rino stumbled towards his bedroom.

“Yeah! Isn’t it something? I tell you Rino, when you get the scent of it in your veins, you’ll love it! Hurry up, I want to show you! Really, you’ll never get enough of it! C’mon roomy!”

Rino entered his bedroom, no lights on, but he could see his roommate’s shadow low and across the room, in a corner.

“Oh roomy, you’re going to love this!”

Rino could barely hold himself upright. The smell of blood was incredibly strong.

“Go on, Rino, turn on the light…turn it on—I dare ya’!” Jerry was laughing to himself, but there was a distantly gurgling sound to his voice, like something was filling his lungs. “C’mon! Hurry!” Impatience…more gurgling….

Steadying himself, Rino flipped on the light switch. Eyes adjusting to the light, Rino finally lost it and heaved up the tuna salad from earlier across the room.

And collapsed.

In the blood spattered corner, gurgling merrily to itself, was a puddle of flayed flesh and bone that was once human. There was little to distinguish its human form anymore. Little meat was left on the body, it covered from head to toe with dark, supernaturally flowing blood and gore that danced about his body, making little swirling movements over his once solid frame, much like the movements of the gases on the surface of the sun, what-was-left-of-Jerry had recollected from a class long ago.

Slapping it’s arms up and down like a child playing in bath water, the thing-that-was-Jerry gurgled and laughed hideously…

You’re going to love it, you’re simply going to love it...”

 

Flies

© F. P. Dorchak, 1987

Goddamn flies!” Terry said, coughing and wiping their little black corpses from his legs and arms. He’d just finished a few circuits around the park on his bike, and there were gnats galore. They were everywhere. You were hard-pressed to even yawn without inhaling the little buggers. He knew, because he’d tried.

 

Short Story Links

Links to all my posted short stories are here.

 

Denver Comic Con 2016

Denver Comic Con, June 17-19, 2016

Denver Comic Con, June 17-19, 2016

This past weekend I attended my first ever Denver Comic Con (DCC), and I did so as a panelist on two panels. I had a blast!

Parking

DCC was held in the Denver Convention Center, in downtown Denver. The parking and traffic is a little crazy, and if you want to park in the Convention Center (CC) itself, you had to get there no later than 9 a.m. (doors opened at 10). And using GPS, the CC says to use the 1104 Champa address, but my GPS took me through some weird “dogleg” through the side streets where I ended up in the adjacent Denver Performing Arts parking garage. No. Don’t do that. Sure, you can park there, it’s a short walk, but, if you’re lugging books and gear, you don’t really wanna do that—just get on Speer Blvd (it doesn’t matter which direction)–just get on Speer and stay on Speer. You’ll see all the appropriate CC signs once you get there, and look for the huge “P” for “Parking” on the CC building. There is also a sign that tells you if the parking garage is still open for parking.

Denver Comic Con

I did a book signing on Saturday, my first day at DCC. It was at 11 a.m. MT. I must have handed out 200 bookmarks. “Hey, howyadoin?” or “Too lateyou made eye contacthere’s a bookmark!” and “Hey—get back here, I have something for ya!” I talked to a couple brave souls, met some people I know, didn’t know, and wondered if they were human at all….

My table was right across from an Avatar booth. A makeup woman was applying the signature blue face paint to a guy. It must have taken better than an hour for her to apply it all, but in the end, the guy’s face looked just like one of the Na’vi clan leaders from Pandora. I wasn’t able to get a picture of the end result.

After my hour—it was actually two. I was able to get in before the public was let in to set up, so was really there from 10 – noon. Talked with some fellow book signers. After my stint, I was able to wander the rest of the day on my own, exploring all that was DCC 2016, and it was simply amazing! There were three levels to the place: the topmost level where I was, was the main show room: all the goodies were there…absolutely anything you wanted to buy was on sale…the floor below that were where the sessions were held…and the level below that was where all the Evil Dead, Warrior Chicks, and Science Fiction monsters hung out. Okay, not really (I don’t really know…), but I think that was the ballroom area. I didn’t go there, but saw signs to the effect. One other thing that really stood out was that while being immersed in the sea of flesh (120,000 people were said to have been in attendance—don’t know if that included the presenters), was the sweat.

Yes, you could actually smell the sweat on people.

It was that packed, that close-quartered. That intimate. And it was also 900 degrees outside, so with a small town’s population packed inside one building, you know the HVAC system was working overtime. But, all things considered, I think it was amazing it was as “cool” as it was and the HVAC system remained up and running. Kudos the the facilities staff!

My friend, Jan C. J. Jones, was working the Con and twice she managed to just “find me”; it was like some weird Jedi “locator” power she possessed (or those damned implants….). Twice I’d gone looking for her in her assigned area, and twice I came up empty. Yet, on two consecutive days I’d just be hanging out, talking, and twice she came right up to me.

It was like she just materialized out of thin air (pardon the pun—Denver’s altitude).

DCC Panels

On Sunday, I was no two panels: at 12:15 MT I was on the Dealing With Discouragement in Writing and Publishing, and at 2:15 MT I was on Why We Write Short Stories. I love doing panels, interacting with fellow writers and artists and anyone else in the biz. Love interacting with the audience. Talking about writing! Both were pretty well attended, I thought, given the focus of the Con was not so much books…but it was cool that books were made a part of a Comic Con.

I attended a few other sessions that some of my writer friends were on, such as Monsters: Not Just For Horror Anymore, Self-Publishing: Is It For You?, Can’t We Get Along?, Cultural Exchange vs Appropriation in Writing, and Diversity in SciFi and Fantasy Literature. I tooled around some more…took in an act where a guy promoting his web comic (I believe it was) did a balancing act atop stacked chairs. That was neat and pretty funny. It’s one thing to watch it on TV…another to stand 10 feet from the person actually doing it! There really are no nets…but there was a gym-mat-like padded floor. It would have reduced bruising, but that’s about all, had he really fallen.

Kevin Ikenberry

I first met Kevin Ikenberry at a Denver MileHiCon. Kevin is retired Army (I won’t hold that against him) and has written two military SF novels and some short fiction. He’s now an “active duty author,” and boy is he creating his own “shock and awe”! The man is apparently unstoppable! As of DCC his Amazon.com numbers were staggering, and he sold out his DCC stock. That’s the way to do it, Kevin! I keep running into him at every author/literary event I go to, and we usually end up seated/standing/tripping over each other. He has an infectious smile and an outgoing manner. I bought his Sleeper Protocol and am currently reading it. Of course he jabbed the Air Force in his autographing of it…but he does have to remember that to the Air Force…all the other services are beneath it (“Aim higher,” yourself, buddy!)….

Aaron Michael Ritchey

And then there is the amazing Aaron Michael Ritchey.

AMR Money Talks. (© F. P. Dorchak, Denver Comic Con, June 19, 2016)

AMR Money Talks. (© F. P. Dorchak, Denver Comic Con, June 19, 2016)

This photo says it all. I really have to do something with it…and I think I know exactly what. Aaron (in a word) is a trip. He gives caffeine a run for its money. Gives “personality” a whole new definition. And talk about ubiquitous. Name one place Aaron Michael Ritchey isn’t. You can’t. It’s impossible.  He warps time. He’s standing behind you right now. But when you turn around—he’s gone. Off to be somewhere else—or is he (have you checked the kitchen)?

If you ever get a chance to meet either of these two guys, go do it. Buy their work.

DCC Podcasts

I really hope I didn’t embarrass myself on any of them! I did three podcasts while at DCC, but it was so loud and crazy, so many incredible COSPLAY walking the Con…so much exposed skin of both men and women…so many really neat and ingenious costumes of both men and women—well, in one of my interviews a sword-wielding barbarian chick with a nice smile stood not four feet in front of me. She was quite…fit. And I was not looking at her…but a couple times while I was not looking at her I might have uttered something like “tomato juice” when asked about my favorite books, or “yes” when asked about what got me started at writing. So, forgive anything stupid that may have come out of my mouth during these interviews. It was loud. It was crazy. It was DCC.

Finitione…

One thing really warmed my heart in particular: a COSPLAY woman had walked by up ahead of me and had dropped her iPhone (or similar). I went to go fetch it and flag her down, when another guy between me and Ms. COSPLAY also saw it. He picked it up and gave it to the girl. I was so impressed! He could have walked away with it, cause the girl had no idea she’d dropped it, and had kept walking. I didn’t think of this until Monday, but I should have gone up to the guy and applauded him for his actions! Whoever you are, way to go, dude!

Denver Comic Con was utterly incredible. Amazing. Expansive. Diverse. Freaking FUN. People were there to have fun…and it felt so good to see everyone behaving and having fun. I’d heard larger (Really? Larger?) Comic Cons weren’t so, well, “nice”…but DCC was. It really was family friendly and I saw a lot of family there. People were well-behaved. I was so honored to have been asked by Eneasz Brodski, who handles the literary portion of Comic Con. I can’t thank you enough, Eneasz—and Angie Hodapp, who introduced us! Hope to attend next year!

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