Happiness In Slavery – [excerpt] – Miss Ambrosia Skye

Chapter 1

 

Above the door for apartment 406 was a sign that read:

 

MISS AMBROSIA SKYE – TAROT READINGS – PALMISTRY – ASTROLOGY

 

The superintendent hadn’t told her to take it down, but it had only been up a month or so. The interior of the apartment was decked out in New Age décor. She had numerous books on tarot, spiritual healing, angels, the afterlife, and communicating with departed souls; and that was just the top shelf. She was sitting at her kitchen table with a spread of tarot cards in between her and her current clients, Mr. and Mrs. Everett. Mrs. Everett was really engaged and interested in the reading, but it was overtly obvious that Mr. Everett was only there because his wife was.

      Miss Ambrosia Skye drew a card from the deck and put it down on the table.

      She stared at it, intently. “Hmm,” she bit her lower lip for added effect.

      “What?” Mrs. Everett straightened in her seat, coming closer to Skye and her cards.

      “I just drew the Tower Card,” Skye said in a purposely ambiguous tone. 

“Is that a bad thing?”

      “Well,” Skye paused, taking in how alertly Mrs. Everett was drinking in her every word and gesture, and how disinterested Mr. Everett looked, slumped back in his chair. “The Tower Card is very similar to the Death Card–“

      Mrs. Everett gasped.

      Skye continued: “–in that it’s a card of destructive and creative power. Just like a building that is condemned and must be torn down to make way for something new, so too is the purpose of the Tower Card. Is there something old, something that you’re holding onto that you need to let go of before you can move on?”

“That’s funny, isn’t it, David! The kitchen.”

      Trying to hide her surprise, Skye inquired: “Your kitchen?”

“Yes. I’ve wanted to knock out the kitchen wall for years and make it open to the living room so that it’s more of an open concept thing. David always thought it was too expensive, but if the cards are telling you . . .” Continue reading

Twelve – NaNoWriMo Novel

So we’re 7 days into National Novel Writer’s Month and I have 15,884 words as on 3:26pm today! I’ve decided to revisit some characters that I feel very comfortable with and am adding some new twists and new characters around the existing cast.

The novel, “Twelve” is the prequel to “Ouroboros” set 3 years before the events of the latter. You learn more of the back-story of Alex Sunderland, Seth Brock, and Nathan Levy – plus you’re introduced to a host of other enigmatic characters including an assassin who is being stalked after killing someone he shouldn’t have, a recently fired talk radio host who has intense dreams about being a non-verbal quadriplegic whose respite worker abuses and humiliates him, and a mysterious woman who seems to appear and disappear at will.

Here’s an excerpt:

______

He felt the wind rip past his face. He wondered how many skin follicles the wind had taken with it and how many cells from other beings were floating along side them. His spine tightened. The skin made him think of those little mites that live on your eyelashes. What were they called? They have a specific name he wasn’t really . . . Google! <<———————————>> oh, they’re called eyelash mites. How much time had passed? He had to think, he looked down at his iPhone to see what the time was. It was 12:09 … wait, he couldn’t be sure at what time he’d zoned out so knowing the time wasn’t at all helpful. He exited back to the main screen and saw the app for weighing his marijuana. He smirked. He probably shouldn’t have that on his main screen. There was a lock on his iPhone though. 0312. So he guessed it didn’t really matter what was on his main screen. The phone vibrated and his whole body tensed.

Answer? Don’t Answer. Answer? Don’t answer!

“Hello?”

“Edward?” A calm baritone voice filtered out from the speaker and squirmed its way into his ear and to his eardrums. The information was converted into electricity and fired off to the brain.

“Listen, I . . . I have it. I just I don’t have it with me, okay?” He yelped worriedly.

“That’s disappointing, Edward,” the voice turned decidedly sinister and Edward’s throat tightened.

“You have to just wait, I mean, I’ll even fucking take you there. Just give me a little time.”

“You’ve had long enough.”

The same voice was suddenly much louder, and much nearer, and much clearer.

This was the last thing Edward ever wanted. He’d been so careful. How did they know where he was? The man Edward knew only as Carter stepped forward from the darkness of the alley and into the harsh yellow light flooding down from the street lights above.

“Listen, it’s really a funny story-“

Someone in the darkness knocked over a metal garbage can that rung with dull clunks whose sound waves echoed back at him.

Oh my god! He sent two.

Demetrios, the other man’s other man, shot Carter a confused look. “Why are you letting him talk?”

“You don’t think I should hear him out?”

“No,” Demetrios scoffed. “We’re here to kill him so lets kill him.”

“Jesus,” Edward jumped. “Holy fuck, just, just listen . . . okay! Just fuckin’ listen. I have information that might help you guys.”

“I doubt it,” Carter smirked.

“Hey, fucking shoot him!” Demetrios stared at Carter like he’d just taken a shit on his foot.

Ouroboros – Cycle 3 Excerpt

I’ve had an insanely productive week! I finished writing Cycle 2,3, and 4 of the “Ouroboros” novel and I’m almost done the final cycle. 94 pages and 38,457 words later; I’m estimating another 20 pages or 15,000 words until the first draft is completed! 🙂 So stoked!

This is an excerpt from Cycle 3.  Each cycle is from a different characters point of view.  The focal point character in this cycle is Miss Ambrosia Skye, a fortune teller who has a business out of her apartment.

To hear tracks from the Ouroboros - Original Score go to: http://soundcloud.com/greyspade

___________________

Chapter 1

The sign outside her apartment door read:

MISS AMBROSIA SKYE – TAROT READINGS – PALMISTRY – ASTROLOGY

The superintendant hadn’t told her to take it down, but it had only been up a month or so. The interior of the apartment was decked out in New Age décor.  She had numerous books on Tarot, spiritual healing, angels, the afterlife, and communicating with departed souls; to name a few.  She was sitting at her kitchen table with a spread of Tarot cards in between her and her immediate clients, Mr. and Mrs. Everett.  Mrs. Everett was really engaged and interested in the reading, but it was overtly obvious that Mr. Everett was only there because she was.

Miss Ambrosia Skye drew a card from the deck and put it down on the table.

She stared at it, intently. “Hmm,” She bit her lower lip for added effect.

“What?” Mrs. Everett straightened in her seat, coming closer Skye and her cards.

“I just drew the Tower card,” Skye said in a purposely ambiguous tone.

“Is that a bad thing?”

“Well,” Skye paused, taking in how alertly Mrs. Everett was drinking in her every word and gesture, and how disinterested Mr. Everett looked, slumped back in his chair. “The Tower card is very similar to the Death Card–“

Mrs. Everett gasped.

Skye continued: “–In that it’s a card of destructive and creative power.  Just like a building that is condemned and must be torn down to make way for something new, so too is the purpose of the Tower card.  Is there something old, something that you’re holding onto that you need to let go of before you can move on?”

“That’s funny, isn’t it, David!  The kitchen.”

Trying to hide her surprise, Skye inquired: “Your kitchen?”

“Yes.  I’ve wanted to knock out the kitchen wall for years and make it open to the living room so that it’s more of an open concept thing.  David always thought it was too expensive, but if the cards are telling you . . .”

“The cards speak of change, and renewal.  It’s a fair bet that once you deal with the obstacle represented by the Tower card that emotional and financial wellbeing will flood back into your home.”

“See, David?” Mrs. Everett started in a condescending tone. “I told you it was the kitchen.  Didn’t I tell you?”

Mr. Everett just rolled his eyes.

Continue reading

Kensington Retriever – (Short Story)

So I was searching through folders of old writing on my computer and came across an old short story I’d written in Grade 11.  It has a pretty interesting story, but it’s also written very badly, which is pretty hilarious! I found out a lot about the 16 year old me by reading this. I learned that I thought it was a Hydrogen lamp and not a halogen lamp! I used to use clichés like crazy! I really like the name Alexander, cause I also named one of the main characters in Ouroboros Alexander! I used to and still like to make the reader answer some of the questions the narrator poses about how some aspects of a story will ultimately go. And I was even more morbid as a High School student than I am now. Hope you enjoy this very random short story.  

*I haven’t changed any of the text from the original .doc; but at parts, I really really wanted to! 😉

_____________________________

Rapid bursts of sound shot out from behind him.  He shifted around to face the noise.  The dense humidity of the rain forest hung low on the ground, making everything clammy and uncomfortable.  The thick tropical branches enveloped the remaining members of Alex’s group.  His nightvision goggles weighed heavily on his brow.  Holding his automatic riffle close to his chest, he moved cautiously through the jungle.  The silencer, as well as other miscellaneous gadgets, on the end of the riffle added extra weight that caused Alex to compensate by leaning back slightly.  There was rustling in the bushes beside him.  He raised the riffle and placed his finger lightly on the trigger.  Two howler monkeys jumped out onto the makeshift trail and screamed angrily at Alex.  They jumped up and down and shook their fist.  Alex shot the first monkey.  The force of the impact threw it off into the thick foliage.  The second monkey, disoriented by the loss of its friend, stood there a few moments, before running back into the trees.  Alex smiled and turned back to his mission.  There was a faint sound in his earpiece.

“Detective Inverness.”

“Talk to me.”  Alex whispered.  The earpiece was a two-way radio.  He didn’t need to speak loudly for the microphone to pick him up.

“You should be coming up to the villa in a few moments.  Keep right.”

“Roger that.”  Alex cut the communication and turned off his earpiece.  He didn’t need any unnecessary noise.

Successive gun shots fired noisily from behind him.  Alex moved further into the trees.  He ducked under a large tropical branch and stepped straight into a large puddle.  The smell was surprising.  It didn’t smell like water.

Gas.

Alex jumped back and then he heard the sound of a spark igniting.  The explosion lit up the trees and the heat vaporized the rain.  His nightvision goggles flew off his head and landed somewhere in the trees.  Alex sat up and saw the burning remains the nearest trees.  There was a clap of thunder and the rain started to plummet towards him.

Alex smiled.  “At least we know we’re close.”  Alex stood up and started to cut the gas stained bottoms of his khakis.  He threw the gas-soiled cloths into the forest.  He looked around for a few moments, hoping to find his nightvision goggles.  All he found was broken glass.

“Oh great.”  Alex swore to himself.

Alex checked the chamber of his riffle and loaded another clip.  He cocked the gun and started back towards the gas puddle.  He stepped around the puddle and saw the intricate array of mechanisms used to constitute as the trap.

“Charlie’s been a busy body.”  There was a laser sight that triggered the machine to start.  A mechanical wheel whirred around in an ellipse and a wire, attached to the wheel, pulled on the trigger of a flame-thrower.  The resultant being one deep fried trespasser.  Alex wondered how many more traps Charlie would have placed in his ‘fun house’.  Alex would be overjoyed to nab this bastard.

He continued deeper into the trees.  He kept his eyes on the forest floor and made sure not to trip any wires or laser beams.  His long brown hair hung tightly to his face.  He wiped back a few locks of wet hair behind his ear and forced onward.  He walked carefully and then heard screaming.  He stopped.  It was a feminine scream.

“Yvette.”  Alex whispered to himself, callously.

He kept walking and heard the familiar sound of gunfire.  Charlie definitely had other traps or else he wouldn’t be hearing gunfire.  All the Marines were equipped with the newest stealth attack weapons.

Suddenly light encompassed the trees ahead of Alex.  He quickened his pace and burst through the foliage.  He stopped two inches short of a thirty-foot fall.  The waterfall just below him rushed with a white-hot intensity.  Calmly, Alex started to descend the side of the waterfall.  Staying clear of the thick spray, Alex started down a few meters over.  The weight of his backpack caused him to hug the rocks tighter.  The rocks were slippery with the constant shadowy mist.  The rain forcing down on him made the backpack heavier.  Alex made sure of his handholds and footholds as he descended.  The loud roar of the waterfall beside him made everything else seem non-existent.  He scaled down the side of the side of the waterfall with relative ease.  He lost his footing a couple times, but his firm grip above him saved him from falling.  He felt solid ground underneath his feet, finally, and continued along side the river and sunk back into the foliage.  Large hydrogen lamps lit up the trees again.  Alex checked his feet to make sure he didn’t trip a wire, but he hadn’t.  Someone else was in the trees up ahead.  Alex moved slowly, cautiously, forwards.  He pulled the riffle of the clasp of his backpack and raised it to eye level.  He clicked the safety off with his forefinger.

“Soon.”  Alex whispered.

The light in front of him got more and more intense.  The light was encompassing everything around him.  What was going on?  Alex wondered.  And then he felt it.  A presence he hadn’t felt in ages.  A person nearly forgotten.  But she was here now.  He felt her.  He could feel her hair around him, like in those days before she’d died.  Suddenly he was forced back into reality by gunfire beside his head.  The lights around him dimmed somewhat, as the bullets ravaged the tree branches inches beside him.  Alex whipped down to the ground, hugging it closely.

Continue reading

Ouroboros – Cylcle One (Novel)

If you’re interested in what the story of my Ouroboros webisode series is going to be like I made the first season (or Cycle One) into novel form.  There will be four Cycles and each Cycle is the same time period, just from the point of view of a different character.  Cycle One revolves around Ava Fields.  Let me know what you think.  

 

______________

OUROBOROS

– Cycle One –

Chapter 1

 

The apartment door opened sending a rush of fresh air down the hallway and into the kitchen where he was sitting; staring forward.

The door creaked lazily closed and Ava Fields entered the kitchen.

“What’s the matter sweetie?” He called to her from the table.

Ava walked over to the kitchen sink and began washing her hands.

Ava sighed.  The bright bubbles sparkled in the dim light. The warm water coaxed the soap from her hands, landing loudly in the metal sink.  The sparkling, red foam circled the drain and finally disappeared beyond the metal grate.  Ava poured more soap into her hands and resumed lathering.

“Is that,” he paused, “blood?”

The thunderous sound of the water landing hard against the metal lulled Ava’s racing thoughts, until she remembered her husband had asked her a question.

“I hit a dog,” she almost couldn’t get the words past her quivering lips.

“When?” He asked, staring forward.

“On the way home.”

“Did you kill it?”

“Eventually.”

“What do you mean?”

She watched the waves of soap circle and blend with the pink water in the sink before it slipped down the drain, into darkness.

“It was still alive when I got out to check on it, but it was bad,” she paused to lather up her hands again, “Really bad.”

She stood in silence for a few moments, watching the light pink, now nearly all white, bubbles as they swirled around the sink, waiting to be devoured by the drain.

“I’d run over its stomach,” she began, “and its insides were spilling out the hole in his skin.  There wasn’t anything I could do.  I had to kill it!”

“So what’d you do?”

Ava stopped the water and watched the last of the now completely white soap slide down into the drain.  There was still the sparkle of a few bubbles at the edge of the drain and Ava started the water again to make sure they didn’t escape.

“I hit it a couple times with the tire iron in our trunk.”

“Nice.”

“Steven!” Ava whipped around to stare at her husband. “That’s awful.”

She noticed her breathing was coming in ragged gasps.  She ripped open her purse and pulled a small pill bottle from the centre compartment.  She downed two pills and chased them with a glass of water.

“I didn’t want to hurt it, but it was already dying and I . . .”

“Did it have any tags on it?  Do you know whose dog it was?”

Ava turns back to face the back of Steven’s head.

“No,” she swallowed. “There were no tags.  He was quite large though.  It was probably an outside dog.  It took me a long time to drag it down to the River.

“You dumped it in the river?”

“What else was I supposed to do?  Leave it there?”

“And you’re sure it didn’t have any tags.”

“Steven, I’m sure,” she tried to calm her rapid breathing and took a few more sips of water. “But I’ll ask around to see if anyone in the building is missing a dog.”
Their dog, Charlie, looked up from his place on the couch.  That was his favourite place; lying on top of the seat cushion with his head dangling slightly over the side.  His big eyes were what did it to Ava.  She began sobbing.

“Hey.  I’m sorry,” Steven consoled from his seat at the kitchen table, still staring forward. “It must’ve been an awful feeling to have to kill that dog.”

“I just kept thinking about Charlie and how I would feel if he were missing and I didn’t know what had happened to him.  Someone’s missing their dog tonight and it’s all my fault.”

“No, it’s not,” his voice was soft and reassuring.  “What was the dog doing without tags or a leash and where were the owners?  It sounds like you hit a stray and if they’re caught by the humane society; a lot of them are euthanized anyway.  It’s not your fault.”

Muffled music began to thud its way through the thin walls of the apartment.  She could feel anger welling up inside her chest.  The dissonant thudding happened quite frequently, and Ava hated it.

“They’re playing that awful music again.”

She wasn’t aware of it, but she was gritting her teeth together so tightly as to be audible.

“Come on, Sweetie. It’s not that bad.”

“And I can smell their incense through the wall.  I bet they only burn those to cover the smell of the pot.”  She walked over to the kitchen wall and gave it two firm raps with bed of her palm. “You’re not fooling anybody!”

“Relax, Ava.  Let’s just go into the other room and watch Leno.”

She exhaled and her body slumped, resting against the kitchen counter. “Yah, okay.”

“I’ll be in right away.”

“Come ‘ere, Charlie.  We’re going to watch Headlines on Leno.  Do you like Headlines?  Yes you do.”

Charlie raised his head in a curious manner, only to lay it back down again, letting it dangle over the edge of the couch.

Chapter 2

      The sound of the thudding dubstep surrounded Seth more completely than the crowd of people sandwiched in around him. Strobe lights flickered and their bodies seemed to move in dislocated, jerky ways along to the poly-rhythms.

Seth closed his eyes, and then realized, he was so stoned that he was closing his eyes in his head.

His eyes shot open and Seth Brock was standing against the wall in Alex Sunderland’s apartment.  They were listening to music while Alex’s roommate Nathan played Dynasty Warriors 4.

Seth closed his eyes again, and he was transported back to the rave. All the people were dancing, and he felt an odd sense of community in that moment.  Of belonging.

      Do I belong in my dreams? The electricity in his brain wondered.

The dancers suddenly stopped and turned to stare at Seth, who was now sitting on a couch in the middle of the dance floor.

They all turned their heads at the same time to a space on the couch, just beside him.  He shifted to see what they were looking at.

It was a dog.

There was a dog sitting on the couch beside him.

The dog opened its mouth but the sound that escaped was not a bark as much as it was a searing pain on the inside of his ears; as though someone were digging their nails into his brain while simultaneously shaking his head from side to side.

“What are you?”

Beneath the dog’s white collar a sentence appeared in white text; and in Helvetica no less.

<<I am nothing, I am everything>>

“What do you want?”

<<Video Games = Porn>>

The dog moved closer to him, and Seth tensed.

“What?”

<<You are a tiny insignificant nothing>>
The pain returned inside his head.
<<You should kill yourself>>

“What?”

<<You’re not going to listen to a dog are you?>>

The white text dissolved away and another sentence blurred itself into existence.

<<Cause that would be crazy>>

Alex’s voice jolted him out of his meandering thoughts.  He was back in the apartment. Continue reading

10 Ways to Create a Plot Twist

Via T.N Tobias

Every story is more exciting with a twist. As a writer, though, it can be difficult to find that right scenario, that right moment and character to turn on its head and send the story veering into unpredictable new directions. It’s scary too. Wandering too far away from the tried and true summons more of the self-doubt that fictionists already seem to be full up on.

But, as with anything, there are templates to the twist or even ways to make your linear plot seem to have a twist simply by withholding information. Neat trick, huh? So here are ten general ways to introduce a plot twist, one of which is sure to fit into any manuscript. Be forewarned, giving examples of plot twists involves heavy spoilers. While I’ve tried to pick examples that are old enough and popular enough to be widely known, you’re mileage may vary.

  1. In Medias Res – In Latin, this means “into the middle of things” and it is a technique that drops the audience into the action as it’s occurring without the benefit of back story or motivation. Think Reservoir Dogs. We show up at the end of the heist not knowing any of what took place. That scarcity of information means every interaction is a chance for the story to break off in a new direction. Tarantino used this to build conflict because we in the audience do not know where allegiances lie or even what’s gone wrong with the job in the first place.  In medias res can take a fairly straight-forward narrative and turn it into a weave of twisted plotting simply by moving the starting line.
  2. Chekhov’s Gun – The term Chekhov’s Gun refers to author Anton Chekhov’s assertion that “One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.” With that quote Checkhov combined several writing tips into a very simple statement. Don’t dwell on frivolous detail, foreshadow your outcomes, and hide your revelations in plain site.  A good example of this is the rock hammer from The Shawshank Redemption. Andy receives it for seemingly innocent purposes but it ends up being key to the plot.  The twist relied on that bit of foreshadowing to provide a third option to the question of whether Andy was dead or alive in his cell.
  3. Unreliable Narrator – When the point of view character influences the narrative by filtering information or manipulating the understanding of events from the preceding story, that character becomes an unreliable narrator. A perfect example of this is The Usual Suspects in which the story is told to investigators by Verbal who leads them to the wrong conclusions. Another is Fight Club, whose narrator is so unreliable, even he doesn’t know it until late in the story. The twist, of course, comes when we in the audience get to see things as they actually are, rather than the manifestations of the narrator.
  4. Anagnorisis – This most common twist involves revealing the hidden nature of a character or object. Think Luke Skywalker’s parentage, Charles Kane’s sled, or when Neo wakes up in The Matrix. All of these twists rely on a reveal of information that completely changes the story up to and from that point.  Neo can’t understand the world as he used to before he learned what the matrix was, nor could Luke hide from the conflict created between the evil in his family and his mission to destroy the empire. This twist is perhaps also the easiest to deploy as all it requires is for the author to withhold the vital information until the climax.
  5. The Least Likely Villian – Another commonly used twist is to conceal the villain throughout the story and in the end reveal that it was someone known the the protagonist all along, someone above suspicion. Watchmen uses this twist, revealing Adrian to be the mastermind behind the killings and, ultimately, a plan to fake an alien invasion.  Typically this twist is combined with a red-herring, a person of interest pursued by the good guys but is really just a misdirection.
  6. Non-Linear Timeline – Similar to in medias res but a more extreme example, non-linear timelines can lend surprise to otherwise straightforward plot elements, sometimes even reversing the entire timeline so that resolutions precede their conflicts. Pulp Fiction makes use of a jumbled timeline, telling multiple stories while beginning and ending at the same point in time.
  7. Ambiguous Ending – When curtain falls or the last page is turned, does the audience really know what’s happened? What will happen? Leaving the story open ended lets the reader infer a meaning to the events in the story that can constitute a twist or a straight forward interpretation.  See the series finale of The Sopranos. Does Tony live? Does the family carry on with its business as before? Or does he die violently either there in front of his children or at some later time?  The twist is that we don’t know and we have to imply.  This can work well, as in the close of Inception,or create controversy, like the aforementioned Sopranos.
  8. Not Over Yet – When the action winds down and our characters are taking a breather in the dénouement, the forces of evil spin up again to let the audience know that while this story is over, the war is far from won.  Most recently seen in The Crazies when our heroes escape only to walk right back into the same trap.
  9. Hero to Villain – When after the ultimate battle the hero emerges victorious but changed into the very thing he was fighting.  This is a twist most often associated with horror stories. The filmed version of 30 Days of Night has the hero turning into a vampire in order to defeat the invading hoard. In Chronicles of Riddick, Riddick himself becomes leader of the necromongers after killing the Grand Marshall.
  10. Deus Ex Machina – From the Latin “god from the machine”. This twist comes when an unsolvable problem is miraculously resolved by an un-foreshadowed intervention. Unless used for comedic affect, this strategy is frowned upon.  A useful implementation of the technique can be found in Monty Python and The Holy Grailwhen, while being chased by an animated monster, the animator has a heart attack and they are miraculously saved.

Be careful when deploying a plot twist. Time it wrong and the reader will be prepared and unimpressed.  Take too many liberties and your readers won’t trust you to tell the story but if you don’t mix things up a bit, they’ll be asleep from boredom before you can get them to the end.  Twists are the same as the many other fine lines writers must walk and when you get it right, the result is great fiction.

The Shadow In The Darkness – a Joel Nickel film (2007)

In 2007 there was a television series called “On The Lot” produced by Steven Spielburg.  It was a reality TV show for directors and this was my submission.  I didn’t make it in, but I had a lot of fun creating this.  I’d finally completed writing “the Shadow in the Darkness” in 2007 after starting it in Grade 12 (2002).  It’s actually the only novel of mine that I’ve printed out, laminated with a front and back cover, and bound.  All the others are online, on my computer, and backed up in numerous formats 😉  But yah, here’s the trailer for “the Shadow in the Darkness” and it includes the song “Quiet” from my album “Searching For Lethe.”  Let me know what you think.