female author

Escape

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By Jamie Burns

She walked along the damp tunnel, her bare feet moving swiftly against the cold cement. The wind blew through the tunnel and right through the thin night gown she had been given. She knew that if not for all the adrenaline running through her she would feel frozen, but right now all she could feel was her heart pounding through her whole body.

She had nothing; no coat, no shoes, no means to tell how much time had passed. It felt like hours but really it was less than ten minutes. Less than ten minutes for her to change her life, less than ten minutes to either get her life back or end it for good.

The tunnel went on and on. She was finally nearing the end when in the distance she heard the dogs barking inside the tunnel behind her. She quickened her pace. Then she could hear men’s voices in the tunnel, yelling out indecipherable commands and information to each other. She ran through puddles and sludge praying that her feet wouldn’t find any glass. Then, a burst of fresh clean air blew across her face,  she had made it out of the tunnel. But it was of little relief since she was still a mile from the fence line. She sprinted toward it even though her lungs were already on fire. Dawn was on the horizon and if she could at least make it to the fence she might have a chance.

She had been locked in that room so long that running felt freeing mentally but excruciating physically. Once able to run for hours without feeling tired, now she was spent after  fifteen minutes. She was a shadow of what she once was and they had done that to her. They had taken all her detail away, all of her dimension and complexity. She hated them for that, she ran even harder.

The loud, clear barking of dogs filled the field telling her they had made it out of the tunnel. Their men would be behind them shortly. She ran and tried miserably not to wonder if the dogs would tear her apart before the men could shoot her.

She had covered the expanse of the clearing and reached the wooded area that came before the fence line. She was only a short way in when she ran straight through a patch of thorn bushes. She could push through a few scrapes on her legs but it was the ones that buried themselves deep into the bottom of her feet that made her fall to the ground. Rolling a few times before hitting a tree. She scrambled up next to the trunk and frantically pulled the thorns from her feet.

The low growl of a dog reverberated through the forest. They had caught up, and the first was now stopped just ten yards away. It’s head low to the ground and the fur on  its back standing on end, the snarling dog’s two companions fell in line behind it. After making it this far, coming so close, to die with nothing but a tiny hope. It was all she had left. Even with so little of it, she had to try. Maybe she was close enough. She clapped her hands together, interlaced her fingers and closed her eyes to concentrate, but nothing happened.

She opened her eyes. The dogs were now starting their slow approach. With her last shred of hope fading, she looked in the direction of the fence line and there as the first light of morning brightened the sky was a gleaming silver fence post. Without a second thought, she pushed herself away from the tree and sprinted for the post. Overjoyed to find the fence line had no fence to speak of. If she could just cross that line…

From the moment she started running the dogs closed the distance quickly.  She was sure she could feel their hot breath on the back of her legs. She extended her stride and pushed her body to its breaking point. As she did her best to jump over the brambles at the fence line,  one of the dogs knocked her to the ground. They both tumbled and rolled but by the time she stopped the beast was over the top of her, teeth bared and snarling. Terror overtook her for the split second before she realized they were over the line.   

She slammed her hands together in front of her in the space between her and the beast looming above. The blue surge of energy that shot from her hands manifested itself as a double-edged sword that glided smoothly up through the beast. Its snarl faded to confusion, then it was gone. She tossed it aside and popped up to her feet. The other two dogs split apart trying to encircle her. She pulled her hands apart but the energy stayed, the sword splitting in two so she wielded one in each hand. She felt her energy returning, the burn in her lungs and legs dissipating. Her energy filled her with more rage. Her natural state only reminded her of all they had taken from her.

The remaining dogs jumped at her almost simultaneously, the one behind her moving only seconds after the one in front. She stepped sideways and raised her hand over her head then swiftly back down, slicing off the heads of both beasts in one fluid motion.

It sounded like the men were now closing the distance. All she wanted was to get out, to get free. Now standing at the edge of her own hell, her prison over the last five years with the men that tortured her approaching a place where she was the one with the power her feelings shifted. Did she want freedom? Or did she really want revenge? Inside the scared girl that had spent years there told her to leave then. But with the energy that coursed through her, the rage filled warrior she was supposed to become told her to stay. So she stayed, broken and angry she was intoxicated with her own power and intoxication leads to bad judgement.

She moved farther away from the fence line but still within view to lure them to her. The four men stopped when they saw the dogs, dead on the ground and exchanged looks with one another. They spotted her, no blue energy coming from her hands just a slight, barefoot girl in a dirty, thin nightgown.  Like the dogs they were, they too spread out to surround her.

The man in front of her held out a hand. “27, why don’t you come back now and save us the trouble of dragging you back.”

“That’s not my name.” She said under her breath.

“You don’t have a name.” His voice dripping with disdain.

The men closed in around her, and she tried to track them all in her peripheral vision but  lost one behind her. That was the first moment she wished she had listen to the scared little girl that said leave. It was too late now. She steeled herself and looked up and meet the gaze of the man in front.  

“I might not have a name, but in a moment, you won’t have a head.”

His smug look faltered for a moment and she focused the energy back to her hands, the blue light illuminating the forest around them. All the men took a step back as the dual swords formed. The leader tried to keep his composure but every tiny waver in his confidence made her giddy with pleasure.

“You really think you can win you worthless piece of garbage?” He spat at her.

At the words, she jumped high into the air toward him, twice as high as she had been able to jump within the fence line. Calling her garbage was the last thing he ever did. She landed in a crouch on the ground in front of him and his blood ran down the edge of her blue blade. The gasps from the other men were like music to her. She stood to her full height which was still half as tall as the man she had just decapitated. Turning to the next man she ran at him, closing the gap quickly. When a pain like nothing she had known coursed through her body radiating from her chest. She started to fall toward the man and her blades flickered out, once again defenseless. She stumbled forward and to her surprise, the man caught her. Her legs went limp and he lowered her slowly in his arms. She felt a warmth spreading over her as her energy diminished. The man held her as her warm blood covered both of them before staining the earth below. The man across from them still had his gun raised and a smile on his face. She looked to the face of the man holding her and thought how she might have hated him the least. But he was still one of them. Through the blood that filled her mouth she choked out. “Do...don’t touch me.”

He lay her on the ground and stood over her. “You should have just come back with us.” He looked surprisingly sad.  The other two men joined him looking over her.

Hatred consumed her heart giving her a last surge of energy. “Death first,” she spat and a blue pulse coursed out of her body. The ripple filled the forest and she was finally free.

 

The Dark Dragon (Nathaniel)

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The Dark Dragon Accounts

(Mary)

(Isaac)

(Lucas)

The Dark Dragon

Nathaniel

By Jamie Burns

My father told me stories of the Dark Dragon my whole life. It was tradition, of course  I told them to my Children. My wife Rose and our two girls would curl up under a blanket while I repeated and added to the stories. When the stories got to scary our girls would bury their faces against Rose’s shoulders wait for the moment to pass then join back in the adventure. Those were my favorite memories of my wife.

Rose passed away shortly after giving birth to our son Isaac. For years I thought I would never tell those stories again. The memory of my girls all huddled together under a blanket listening were so perfect it hurt to think about. Until one day when Isaac was 7, he had been sick for several days, and I sat by his bed trying to comfort him. When one of my girls pointed out Isaac had never been told the tales of the Dark Dragon. Both girls agreed that mom would never have stood for that. They made themselves comfortable, Rachel at the foot of the bed and Mary along side Isaac, pulling a blanket over them both. Once again I told the tales of the Dark Dragon. Isaac loved the stories, the girls cared more for the nostalgia of the it, less about the stories themselves, but I suppose that’s part of growing up.

...

After the second tremor the merchant I worked for let us all go for the day. People were gathering in the square and it was clear no one was getting any more work done that day. I just wanted to get home to my kids. I though the tremors would be small, nothing to get worked up over and maybe we could have a nice family dinner for once.

That hope for a nice night was dashed by the fact that I got home to find no one. They were smart kids, even if they had been out they knew to come home when they felt the tremors. I double checked the rooms but it’s not like our home is big enough to have missed anyone. I paced and with every pace the room felt smaller and smaller. I couldn’t just wait here and hope they were on their way back. I left and headed toward the square.

“Rachel!” I called out when I spotted her.

“Dad!” She ran over and greeted me with a hug. “Do you know what's going on?” she asked.

“I’m sure it’s just earthquakes. But where are your brother and sister?” I tried not to sound irritated, not sure it was working. She looked at the ground.

“Rachel? Where?”  

“I saw Isaac on the path, the one that leads toward the cave.”

“On the cliff side?”

“I was going to go get him dad I swear. But it’s ok because Lucas is getting him.”

“Lucas? Who’s Lucas?”

“Um, he’s a boy I know.”

It was just getting better and better. I decided to handle one problem at a time. Find my kids first, punish them later.

“So where are Isaac and Lucas now?”

“I don’t know they haven’t come back yet.” Rachel bit her bottom lip. Something her mother use to do when she was worried as well.

“And Mary?” I asked

She shrugged her shoulders. “She wasn't with Isaac when I saw him.”

“Ok, come on. We’re sticking together.” I pulled her by the hand out of the crowd and toward the mountain. Then another tremor shook the ground.

Rachel and I were halfway to the mountain when it emerged. Every story my father had told, every story I had told and there it was. The Dark Dragon had come out of it’s cave after over 100 years.

The mountain was still a ways off but it sat like a dark shadow looking down over the village. Even from where we were it was easy to see the torrent of fire that was now pouring from the creature that stood at the cave's mouth. I ran toward the mountain,  praying Isaac had l left that cave long before.

When I realized Rachel was running behind me I turned to her. “No, go home. Run home and take cover. If your sister is there don’t let her leave.” I wished I could soothe the frightened look on her face but I was pretty sure I had the same look.

I ran at a sprint toward the mountain, and I heard it. It was a sound I had described many times over while telling the stories but never really heard till that moment. I’ll be the first to tell you that the description in the stories did not do justice to the roar of a Dragon.

It was said in the stories that the Dark Dragon’s roar was like thunder from on high. Now having heard it I would say it was a thunder that enveloped you so completely the thunder might have come from your very own bones. A sound that instantly drained the warmth from your body leaving you cold and frightened.

I ran faster half watching my path half watching the Dragon. The as the light from it’s fire dimmed the black Dragon took the the sky. It seemed to take little to no effort for the massive creature to lift off the ground. The flap of its great wings disturbing the trees and land around it with a powerful flurry of wind. The dragon shot straight into the sky. It made it’s way up out of the shadow of the mountain and what was left of the sun light hit it. I had never imagined it properly. I had been far from it and the Dragon still seemed to massive to comprehend. The Dark Dragon was indeed a black dragon just as the stories said. What the stories never got right was well the color. Yes it was a black dragon, but once the light hit it the black had a incredible undertone that glinted in the sun light. Like when lamp oil is mixed with water. A rainbow effect that mesmerizes any on looker.

I reached the start of the cliffs path and the dragon was still soaring upwards. It must have been terribly high because it was finally starting to look smaller. I thought I could see it turning slightly toward the village. I told myself again one problem at a time, first find your family. The crash of relief came with a crash of Isaac and Mary’s hugs. They had made their way back down the path and seemed to be unscathered.

“Thank God you’re alright!” I said as I looked them over to be certain.

“We’re ok Dad.” Said Marry.

“Ok we need to get back home and get Rachel.” I turn back down the path, but a hand pulled my arm stopping me. I turned to Isaac. “What is it?”

“I...I think there was another boy… in the cave.” He said.

What had Rachel called him? Lucas?

“Ok, I want you to stay right here! Do you understand me? Only move if that Dragon comes back and you need to take cover. You got that?” I instructed Mary.

They both nodded their heads in a compliant yes. I headed up the path, once I was almost to the cave opening I could see over the village and I spotted the Dark Dragon high in the air and it looked like it was flying in high wide circles around the village. I thought for Rachel in our house, I wanted to go to her right away but I hoped it wouldn’t be with bad news about her “Friend”.

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

How to Construct a Story in 5 Step.

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How to Construct a Story in 5 Step.

 

With NaNoWriMo on the horizon I thought now would be a great time to talk about how I come up with a Novel Idea. Get it. ;)  If you were wanting to participate in NaNoWriMo or simply wanting to start writing fiction in general but don’t know where to start I hope this helps! With the disclaimer that what works for me may not work for you. Feel free to take away what you like from my methods.

 

Step 1: Story Concept.

It always starts here for me. It usually comes to me randomly when I’m driving somewhere or while I’m in the shower. You know, doing mindless stuff, like when I’m at work.  It’s the question that drives us. “What if?”  For example: What if your planet was destroyed? What if you found out you were royalty? What if you lost something so valuable you would do anything to get it back?  

From here I start answering the question and other questions that it incites.  Almost like reverse engineering a story. What if your planet was destroyed? Well that tells me you must not have been on that planet. Why weren't you on the plant? (Maybe you’re an astronaut or you were vacationing on Neptune.) How were you not on the planet? (Mission to repair spacey type telescope or Space cruise liner.) Who destroyed the planet? (Natural disaster or pissed alien race.) Why was the planet destroyed? (Maybe those aliens were having a really bad week.) How will you now survive?

Keep the Q and A going. Keep what you like and toss what you don’t. Eventually a story concept will emerge and even a very, very rough outline.

 

Step 2: Characters.

Sometimes my concept and my characters come to me at the same time, sometimes they don’t. After you have your concept you can ask yourself; what kind of person would be in this situation?  How do they handle the situation? Are they funny? Are they serious?

There are hundreds of Character building lists on line. So I’m not going to get too crazy in depth with this section. Basically I flesh out my main Character then ask; who is their support system? Family? Best friend? Significant other? Then I have my secondary characters.  

Then time for what might be the most fun part. Who is making my hero’s life harder? My protagonist! Everyone loves a good bad guy these days.

 

Step 3: Building a Strong Outline.

So the world of writers boils down to two types of writers. Planners and Pantsers. I’m, (if you couldn’t already tell) a planner. Pantsers like to make it up as they go. Don’t get me wrong making it up as you go can be freeing but… every time I have tried this it’s like looking up to find out you're in the middle of a field miles from anything. Where’s my plot? It’s just not for me. So planner that I am, I start working an outline.

The setup: In which I do just that, introduce my character, tell ya a bit about their life. Right before a change it all.

The Trigger: Which is the event that sets the story in motion. (Boom your planet gets destroyed!)

The Midpoint: Now you throw rocks at your character. (Plot point rocks that is) Conflict, conflict, conflict!

Rising acting: Time to start solving some of your small problems and giving your character much bigger ones. All leading up to…..

The Climax: When your story reaches its crescendo. It all gets as bad as it can get and then you figure out how to fix it.

The Resolution: Where this all ends up after the conflict is over.

That’s all crazy overly simplified but that’s how I start simple. From these simple points we can build them into a lot-o-plot!

 

Step 4: Conflict!

After my outline I have to work out what the conflicts will be. I generally like things to be easy so I have to push myself to make life harder for my Characters. Sure the overall conflict of my story is there, but I have to work to figure out what rocks I will throw at my hero.

 

Step 5: Resolution.

The resolution, as I previously mentioned, is where everything ends up when the conflict is over. I’m going to so real and tell you this is my weakness. It’s always the hardest part for me. Nothing like having a story with no idea how you want to end. I usually come up with 3-7 options and stare at them for un undetermined amount of time.

So my advice to you and myself is this. Come up with lots of options. Stare at them for an undetermined amount of time. Then start the process of elimination. Cut the ones you know you don’t like. Cut anything that’s overly cliché. Till you’re left with only the top contenders. If you still don’t know, this is the time having a writer friend can really come in handy. They really don’t have to be a writer but having someone to bounce ideas off of can help you in your decision making process. Who knows, something they say might even inspire you to have a totally different ending than you thought. I’m, of course, not saying take someone else's idea. I’m just saying you don’t have to be alone.

And remember if at the end of your story you blame aliens in a story that had nothing to do with aliens till that point or you end it with a variation of “and then they woke up.” expect your readers to find you and punch you in the throat.

 

After those 5 Steps it’s all about putting in the work. Choosing to work on your story and write instead of watching Netflix or browsing Pinterest. Honestly this is really and truly the hardest part. Coming up with the ideas can but so exciting and invigorating that when the time to write comes it’s a snooze fest. Writing is a rollercoaster. The downs come very suddenly and the ups can be a long arduous climb. But at the end you have an amazing experience to look back on and hopefully a first draft.   

The Dark Dragon (Lucas)

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The Dark Dragon

Lucas

By Jamie Burns

 

I had never really noticed Rachel before, but over the summer she had started really making an effort. It also helped her social status that her two best friends were the beauties of the village. Not that it did much for their personalities. I can vaguely remember Rachel trying to talk to me once before when we were still in child's lessons. Back then she always had dirt on her face and second hand cloths, so obviously it was a short conversation. After all my family had a good reputation and I couldn’t risk talking to just anyone that drooled over me.

Over the summer it seemed Rachel had finally figured out the way the game was played. She had cleaned herself up and stopped bringing her impoverished family in to polite civilized conversation. She was becoming increasingly more lady like and reminded me of my own mother. Something to be gazed at but scarcely forced to listen to.

The summer was winding down and there was a group of us in the town square, enjoying what was left of the warm nights and summer harvests. Rachel and I had become somewhat of an unofficial item. Which meant I spent my father’s coin buying her fruit she wouldn't be able to afford otherwise and she let me get a bit farther than I had with the other girls.  

Rachel fed me slices of the peaches I had brought in the market. I had taken her to a spot my father told me about earlier that year. “Girls love the place.” He had said. It was nice, the perfect spot to watch a sunset. It was a short hike up hill with a nice rock formation that made a natural bench. It overlooked the valley to our left and the cliffed mountains to our right.  As the sun made it’s decent I took the peach from Rachel and leaned in for a kiss. But the moment before my lips touched hers the ground beneath us started to rumble. It was a small tremor but it was enough to pull Rachel’s attention away from me.

“What was that?” She asked.

“I’m sure it was nothing.” I said as I tried to get her to face me again.

“I don’t know. It didn’t feel like……”

The ground trembled again, stronger this time. Ok maybe it wasn't nothing. I too turned my attention to the view. It was easy to see that below in the valley people had started to more around me franticly and some had gathered in the square.

“Maybe we should go back.” Rachel suggested in a way that told me my chances for a late summer make out tonight had dropped to zero.

“Fine.” I said standing up. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw movement along the cliff side trail. I squinted the make out the figure in the growing mountain shadow. It looked like the figure of a man, no a boy. He was definitely smaller than me.

“Isaac?” I heard Rachel say. She too was squinting at the figure on the mountainside.

“Do you know him?” I asked.

Rachel squinted ever harder. “I think that’s my brother.”

“What would your brother be doing out here?”

“Nothing he’s allowed to, that’s for sure. I should probably go get him.”

I guess my gallant side took over because I looked at her dress, then the sharp rocks between where we were and the path he was on and before I knew it I had said. “No, I’ll do it. You head to the square.”

 

As a balanced my way across the rocks to reach the path toward the cliff I reminded myself of how many brownie points this was getting me from Rachel. I would just bring her back to the spot tomorrow and hope for no little brother interruptions. I reached the path we call the Path of Darkness and realized I hadn't been on it for years. I remembered being 11 or so and we all challenged each other to walk the path. I guess it was still a right of passage. I headed up the path trying to catch up to Rachel’s brother. I expected to find him somewhere on the path, that’s what usually happened, kids get a certain distance and then they chicken out. In fact, by the looks of it I was now passed the point I myself had previously made it too.

As much as I didn’t want to admit it, once I made it to the cave opening that same 11 year old fear had returned. Everyone in the village knew that this was the cave of a dragon. People had been telling the story to their kids for generations. I looked around to see if the boy was maybe sitting near by. There was no one. Had he really gone in? Did I really have to go in after him?

It was dark and I hadn't brought anything to light the way so I found myself stumbling more than upright walking. I thought I heard a movement so I abruptly stopped. My head told me to call out. I thought she said his name was Isaac? But something deeper in me said to keep quiet. That was when the next tremor coursed through the mountain. I turned to run back toward the cave opening but it was dark and I’m assuming I tripped and hit my head because that was the last thing I could remember.

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Dark Dragon (Isaac)

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The Dark Dragon

(Isaac)

By Jamie Burns

 

My favorite part of the day, was always when my dad would finally get home from work and he would tell me stories before bed. Stories about the Dark Dragon. The tales said that the Dark Dragon was over 900 years old! And a dragon never stops growing. He was as tall as a mountain, his scales were like black onyx and stronger than any steel ever forged by man. He had killed by the thousands with his kiss of fiery death.  Some even said there were still bone between his teeth from his last feast on the valley. Not that anyone would have truly been close enough to see it and live. So you know, awesome bedtime stories!

 

I had the great misfortune of having the two most boring sisters in the worlds. My oldest sister Rachel was all about boys, flowers, and I’m not really sure whatever girly crap she liked. She was the worst, but the most fun to scare. One little spider in her hair and she would jump like a frog. Rachel didn’t hang around our house much. I guess when you get older you just get to go out and do whatever you want.

My other sister Mary was not the worst, like Rachel, but she was still boring. I guess you could say she was “in charge” of me. I told our dad I didn’t need a babysitter. After all, I was 12 years old, not a baby. Anyway Mary had become immune to my tricks over the years so scaring her was much harder than scaring Rachel. This fact added to Mary’s boringness.

There were other kids in the village my age and they didn’t have to have a babysitter it was completely unfair. I had had enough. Yet another boring day in the house just me and Mary. I had hoped we would go out, walk around the town square and maybe I could slip away from her. My friends Henry and Philip had been talking about going to the path of darkness. It was the trail that lead up to the Dark Dragon’s lair and everyone who was anyone had been there. I was someone who was no one because I had never been. I was supposed to meet up with them but instead I was stuck watching Mary sew all day. Until luck was on my side.

I sat and watched as Mary’s head kept lolling back and forth. I tried to stay as still and quite as possible because it was my only hope of getting out of there. Her head drooped down totally and I let a good minute pass to be sure. I was out the door and with luck Henry and Philip would still be waiting for me.

 

When me and the guys got to the path of darkness it wasn't as cool as I had expected. I guess I imagined some kind of archway, not just a rickety old sign. We all stood, toes just behind the imaginary line of the start of the path.

“It’s not all that scary.” Henry said. But he glanced sideways at me like he didn’t know if he believed what he said. I know I didn’t.

“I don’t know guys, it looks pretty rockey up there.” Said Philip.

“Are we going up?” I asked

“Well… ya. That’s why we’re here right?”

We had never really talked about what we would do when we got to the path of darkness. Now that I was standing there it seemed obvious that I would be expected to walk that path. The rickety old sign started looking more ominous the longer I stood there.

“I’m not going up there.” Philip backed away from the path.

“What don’t be a coward.” Henry said, but his own voice had a shake to it.

“I’m not a coward. I’m just not going up there.”

“You sound like my baby sister, Philip.”

“Why don’t you just go up there, Henry?”

“Well, technically Isaac is the oldest. So… he should get to go first!”

The two of them stopped their bickering to look at me. Just like that supposed to not only going up the path of darkness but I was to going up it alone. I wanted to say no but something else in me wanted to be brave. The thought of telling my dad I had been to the lair of the dragon sounded great. Sure he would be a little mad at first but then he would think it was cool. Plus none of the other kids my age had ever made it all the way to the lair. What if I was the first? Yes, I would be the first kid in years to make it all the way to the Dark Dragon’s lair.

“Ya, I’ll do it.”

Both Henry and Philip’s faces looked a bit shocked. I thought how that would be the look on all the kids faces when I went to lessons the next day and they heard about my bravery. I started up the path. Only three steps in and part of my father's story came to me. The bones in the dragon's teeth and for a split second I thought those might soon be my bones.

“Wait,” Called Philip.

A wave of relief washed over me. Had he come up with a reason for me not to go? Nope.

“You have to leave and offering.” He pointed to the Sign. Under it sat all sorts of things others had left.

“Don’t want to head up without giving the dragon spirit something.” Henry nodded in agreement. I rifled through my pockets and all I had was a drawing I had done earlier that day as I waited for Mary to fall asleep. I unfolded it and put it at the base of the sign. I didn’t have any other reasons to delay. I wanted to back out, but instead I thought of the blond girl in my lessons and I was on my way back up the path.

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

September to Remember!

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September to Remember!

My goodness, she’s still alive and hasn't given up writing?! Ya it was touch and go there for a minute. My apologies for my recent leave of absence. I will now insert reasons/ explanations/excuses here -------> LIFE.

I know best explanation ever. I didn’t want to go into any long winded explanations that really aren't all that interesting. The point is, I wasn't writing or posting and felt that twinge of failure. So now I’m back to right the wrongs and wash away the injustices my former self has done.

At least I can say that before my hiatus I went out on a high note. “The Protector of the Night” received great feedback and my deepest thanks to all that took the time to read and enjoy it. You’re all awesome.

Since this is technically a Manuscript Monday I suppose I should talk about how some of my goals are coming along. Back in April I posted “Goals for 2016” progress report…  My reading goals for the year are going better than I would have originally expected I’m only 2 books shy of being right on schedule. That means I’ve currently read 16 book this year. For me personally that’s nothing to turn your nose up at.

My book’s progress on the other hand... I’ll be totally honest… Right now it’s not looking too good. Still sitting at 37,000 words and might be facing a POV hiccup. Let’s just say that just because you’re a new writer doesn't mean all your first choices are wrong.

November NaNoWriMo is only a month away and I do plan to participate. I have a concept, characters, and have started a brief outline. So keeping my hopes up for November.

 

In closing, I’m working my way back into the swing. Thanks for your continued support and I hope to bring more entertainment with every passing month. Have a good week!

Disappearing Act

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By Jamie Burns

 

          “Close your eyes.” she whispered into his ear softly. She stood behind him with her hands gently placed on his shoulders.

           Standing as still as a statue he did as instructed. His heart beat fast against his chest, racing at a pace he didn’t think possible.

           “Just relax.” She said as she started pacing in a circle around him. “Deep breaths, let your mind clear, let all that is within it dissolve. All that exists right now is you and the sound of my voice.”

           He relaxed his shoulders and took a long deep breath, then another. With every breath that grew deeper his heartbeat slowed. He soon forgot his discomfort. In a room so large and grand he heard nothing. Nothing but the sound of her voice and the step of her boot on the floor as she paced him.

          “Leave nothing in your mind, let every thought sink down to the souls of your shoes.” The circle she had been walking around him was getting smaller and he could feel the hem of her dress brush past him.

          Another deep breath in and just like he forgot his discomfort, he forgot what he had done with his day before that moment. The Magician circled him now so close he could smell the scent of her hair as she passed in front of him. Her voice, her scent and the steps of her boots was all that existed to him. With every breath and every step of those boots he forgot.

          Step. The color of the suit he was wearing.

          Step. The things that upset him.

          Step. Who he had come there with.

          Step. Where he worked.

          Step. The crowd of people watching him.

          Step. And eventually his own name.

 

          The audience waited in anticipation. Unsure what would happen next. The show so far had been a stupendous spectacle of illusions and trickery. The beautiful Magician had a gift for performing. Her act was done so flawlessly that even the most skeptical of her audience could not explain how she performed some of her tricks.  Now with the stage cleared of any prop or device none of the onlookers knew what to expect. The thick dark red curtain hung along the back of the stage and all there was to see was the man, eyes closed, body slightly swaying and the Magician. This trick felt different from the others and the audience wasn't sure they liked it yet.

 

           The Magician stopped and faced the man on stage, just a small step from him. The scent of her hair filled his head, a rich creamy scent of black currant. He tried to push the thought of it away like everything else.  Keeping his mind clear as he had been told to, but passively wondering what his name was again. His head tried to tell him he should be more worried about a thing like that. At the moment he couldn’t manage to care. He was too relaxed and the Magician’s voice was too soft, her smell too intoxicating.

           “You have nothing to fear. Let everything in you sink down. Let it settle as far from your mind as possible.” Her dulcet tone told him.  He already felt heavy but now his feet felt weighted to the floor. The Magician spoke again but this time it sounded muffled and far away.

 

           The Magician had turned back toward the audience.

          “As you can see our handsome volunteer is now in a deep state of relaxation.”

          “Hypnotized.”  A young woman called out from the front row.

          “No, not hypnotized. Not technically. He had done most of it by himself. I mostly just guided him in the right direction.” The Magician gave a sly smile and turned back to the man.

 

          He had been waiting, swaying in fields of black currant, listening to the low distant hum of indiscernible words she spoke. Then the sweet voice was once again clear.

          “Henry.” She said.

          The name that had been missing from him was given back. His own name filled his head and made him slightly less comfortable than he had been the second before. But it settled in him and he once again accepted it. As if she had been waiting on this process the moment Henry was Henry again she spoke.

          “Henry.”

         “Yes?” He replied, his own voice sounding harsh and raspy compared to the silkiness of the Magician’s.

         “Do you feel relaxed?” She asked.

         “More than I thought possible.” He said with a smile spreading across his face.

         “Good, is your mind clear?”

         “Yes.” He lied. For his mind was still full of her scent and the sound of her voice saying his name.

         “Good.” She said again and turned away.

 

          Facing the audience, the Magician pulled a handkerchief from a pocket specially sewn into the folds of her dress. She held the white handkerchief over her head and waved it back and forth in a long wide arch. As it reached each far side of the arch it doubled in size. Until it was as long as a bed sheet. She swirled it in the air effortlessly as if it had no weight at all. She spun back away from the audience.

          Grasping the edge of the cloth and holding it up between herself and Henry. Making it so only herself and the cloth where visible to the audience. She held it high over her own head and took a deep breath.

         “Henry, relax for me and please take a deep breath.” She said, and then shut her own eyes. She listened to his intake of breath and once the exhale came she too exhaled.

She released the cloth from her grasp and it fluttered to the floor.

 

           There was silence in the theater. The Magician still had her eyes closed and she grimaced. This was usually the time when the applause would fill the air but no sound came. She opened her eyes and to her own shock there he was. Still standing there was Henry.

           His eyes still shut and a small happiness settled on the corners of his mouth. What had she done wrong? This had never happened during a live performance before. Now she would have to turn around and come up with something to say to her audience. The Magician looked at Henry feeling perplexed. She turned to the audience and was meet with a second shock.

           Where was the audience? The theater she and Henry now stood in was empty, completely devoid of another soul. The candles were still lit and the curtains had not drawn. All was just as it was before only without the people. Was it even possible? She wondered as she examined the desolate theater.

           “Henry?”

          “Yes?” He answered swaying slightly.

          “Who are you?” She asked in a gentle way.

          His swaying stopped and the smile faded a bit. “I’m not sure at the moment.”

          “Open your eyes.”

          When he did his relaxation slowly started to ebb away. But the sight of the empty theater didn't shock him the way the Magician expected it too. He looked at her and a long silence passed between them before she said.

           “Your mind wasn't as clear as you said. Was it?”

           “Not exactly.” Henry said and he felt his face flush with heat.

           The Magician took a last look around from ceiling to floor and wondered at the feat that had just occurred.

           “Well Henry, you’re incredibly powerful and wonderfully intriguing. But we need to fix this now.”

           “We? Didn’t you do this?” He asked

           “It’s difficult to explain, but let’s just say I draw from my subject’s mind and power. Whatever was in your mind when this happened holds an unprecedented amount of power.” She explained, and Henry’s blush grew deeper. The Magician didn’t notice.

           “So how do we fix it?” Henry asked.

           “Um, it should be fairly simple. Just do that same thing in reverse.” She looked at him and saw the confusion. “You know what, don’t worry. You just do the same thing as before.”

            “Are you sure?” He asked, nervous it wouldn’t work or more importantly nervous she would somehow read his mind.  

             “I’m sure. Stand on the spot and close your eyes.”

            Henry did, and the Magician guided him back to the empty space that she had hoped for. Just like before that place for Henry became a field of black currant filled with the voice of a goddess. Together they took a deep breath and the Magician dropped the cloth again. Nothing.

 

           Twice more they tried and twice more nothing. It became harder and harder for Henry to relax. The fourth time came and before they took their last deep breath Henry asked. “What’s your name?”

           The Magician paused, she was most often known simply as The Magician. She had performed under many different pseudonyms and briefly thought of telling him one of them. Something within her said no. So she told the truth, which was a rarity for her.

           “Abigail.” It came out in a whisper.

           The name floated over the fields in his mind, her scent became stronger and enveloped him. Together they took a deep breath and once again Abigail released the cloth that fluttered to the floor.

 

           The audience erupted in applause and whistles. They stood to their feet and the roar filled the theater. The Magician stepped aside to stand next to Henry. He looked at her and gave a smile. She motioned for him to bow and he did. He in turn gestured to her and she gave a curtsy. The applause getting louder as she did.  Henry made his way off the stage and back to his seat.

            The Magician picked up the cloth and with a few short flicks of her wrist it was back to the size of a handkerchief, and she stuffed it in her pocket. The rest of the show went smoothly and the audience gave her another standing ovation at the end.

 

           During her career, that performance was one of the most talked about, becoming known as her best. There was never a mention of the disappearing audience only her magnificent showmanship and the feeling of electricity or magic that was in the air. For the Magician she remembered it as the only night she was ever unable to make a man disappear.

 

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Copper Key

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Today I’ll be using a writing prompt I found care of Pinterest. Enjoy.

The prompt:

“One day you notice there’s a new key on your keychain.”

The Copper Key

By Jamie Burns

Most mornings I have plenty of time to make my coffee, put on my boots, and leisurely gather my things to head to work. That morning was not one of those mornings.  

That morning, in my sleepy haze I had hit snooze five times, instead of my usual once. By the time I came to my senses I was thirty-six minutes behind, throwing off my entire routine. I tore out of bed like a force of nature bent on destroying a city. A furious flurry of flying laundry, followed by a hair brush and hasty ponytail. By the time I pulled on my second boot and skipped tying it another five minutes had passed and I was forty-one minutes behind.

No time for coffee which is always the worst part of being late. I grabbed my bag and rushed out the door to my car. The keys felt different than usual in my hand, bulkier. When I looked down I noticed it, right there between my car key and mailbox key. A key I had never seen before. A small shiny copper colored key that had to my knowledge just shown up. I pushed the oddity of it from my head and grabbed at my car key. I was much too late to wonder about such a small thing right now.

I lived in the countryside a ways outside of the city which gave me a twenty-minute commute. On an average day it was one of the more enjoyable parts of my day. That day ten minutes into my drive I must have hit a nail because before I knew it, I was pulled over to the side of the road fifty-six minutes behind schedule. I stared at my passenger side front tire in defeat. By the time I got it changed I would be impossibly late. I took a deep breath and turned my back to lean against my car. I took in the open valley and the sun coming up over the distant mountain.

That’s when I saw the door. In the field, about fifteen yards directly in front of me sat a single green door and frame. It stood out in contrast to the tall yellow grass of the field and the purple cast of the mountains. What was a door doing just sitting out here? I couldn’t help but look around. The long lonely stretch of highway was devoid of anyone but me. I stared back at the door, my curious nature tugging on my imagination while my sense of responsibility told me I was now fifty-eight minutes late. I checked my watch, then out of the depths of my mind or my soul, I’m not sure which. A voice said ‘In two years you’ve never been late. Just go have a look.’

I traipsed through the open field, excited for no reason obvious to me. I stopped in front of the door and looked around again, wondering if someone might be watching me from a distance. The door stood alone, with no structure that might have need of a door. Just a bright forest green door with a dark chestnut door frame. I walked around it examining both sides, they seemed to be identical. It was so curious I had to smile in amusement. Who had placed it here and why. I assumed it was out of some sense of whimsy for people that drove the road every day. There weren't many explanations I could come up with.

I noticed the tiny copper colored circle in the door. A spyhole. I didn’t think too much about it when I pressed my face against the door to peer through it. If anyone was watching me from far out I’m sure the confusion on my face was priceless. Through the spyhole was a dark heavily wooded forest. I pulled my head back and grimaced. It must have simple been a trick, a joke for anyone that was crazy enough to walk all the way out to the random door in the field. I checked again, sure enough the forest was still there, I was positive just a picture placed over the back of the spyhole. Then to my shock a deer bounded across my view of the forest.

I grabbed the bright copper knob but the door didn’t budge. I took a few steps back, confused as ever. ‘Odd morning’ the deep down voice said again. It was an odd morning. There was that other odd thing this morning… I pulled my keys out of my pocket and flipped them over to find the small copper key. It slid into the lock with ease and before I turned it I considered leaving. I could just go back, change my tire and go. I was a contradiction of sensibility and curiosity. So I turned the key.

The knob made a click sound and was loosed from its locked state. I pushed the door open slowly. My adventurous heart only half expected to find my field on the other side.  My heart was not disappointed, the door opened completely silently to the dark forest. The smell of pine hit me along with the chill of the air. I walked through the doorway from the yellow dry field under my feet to the damp soil of the forest. Both places had been quiet but with the wind of the valley, the forest was eerily silent in comparison.

I looked back through the doorway and saw my car sitting on the side of the highway. Being late for work seemed far less important now. With the key back in my pocket I closed the door.

On this side the door was yellow with a pine frame but the copper spyhole and knob were the same. I looked through the spy hole and there was the field and my car in the distance. Delighted and curious I turned my attention to the forest now around me.

The deer I had seen had long since made off out of sight. I wondered at the trees and their sheer size. Thick, tall and numerous the trees were overpowering to say the least. They were so thick I couldn't see the sky through the tops of them, explaining why it was so dark.  I wondered what part of the world I was in. The trees weren’t completely unfamiliar but if someone were to ask me what kind they were I wouldn't know quite what to say.

I had only moved a small ways from the door when I saw a movement in the corner of my eyes. All was completely silent. I was sure I was the loudest thing in this forest. My quiet whisper felt like a yell in that stillness.

“Hello?” I waited for a response. Nothing. “I saw you.” I said this time a bit louder.

“If you continue to wonder, you might end up with more than you bargained for.” A low smooth male voice responded. I couldn't see the speaker and the forest carried his voice so I wasn't sure where exactly it came from. I could only assume it was near the vicinity I had seen the movement.

“And what kind of bargain might that be? Ambiguous forest voice…” I said as I craned my head to try and catch a glimpse of the speaker.  This time I heard soft movement coming slowly toward me as the voice spoke.

“The kind that would be difficult to explain back where you came from.” A black and gray wolf padded out of the forest into view, then sat tamely a distance away. “If you were ever to make it back.” The silky voice of the wolf finished.

 

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

How to get by in the Galaxy- The Conclusion

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Start from the beginning Part 1

How to get by in the Galaxy Part 10

How to get by in the Galaxy

Part 11

The Conclusion.

By Jamie Burns

 

The years spent traveling through space were my best years. It was when I finally found who I was and where I was meant to be. The answers: April Norian and in the sky, out seeing the Universe. A nomadic life of new adventures, it was my perfect fit. Now I was feeling like the whole of the Galaxy was pulling me in as it’s own. I saw an innumerable amount of stars fill every bit of my vision. I was ready to accept the fate that I had been given by the cold hand of death, also known as Tom.

I was ready but I guess the galaxy didn’t want me like I thought.

 

Feeling returned to my limbs and I sensed cold metal under me. I opened my eyes to a dimly lit room that I had been in before. It was the galley of the Lamplight, and I could see Nathan fiddling with something in one hand at the counter. His other arm was in a messy bandage and sling, his shirt underneath still covered in his blood.   

“Hey bro…” My voice cut out. Pushing the words out felt excruciating.

Nathan flinched at hearing my voice. “Oh thank God. You’re awake” He said as he dropped whatever he had been holding and walked to the table beside me.

“Wha… happen..” I managed to force out.

“You should try not to talk.” Nathan instructed me as he brought me a cup of water in his good hand.

“You were passed out cold when I got to you but still breathing. The sounds of the gunshots must have drawn some attention because some of Cryton's men started to head back our way. When the Lamplight showed up without Clara I was sceptical but I didn’t have a lot of options.”  

“After we broke orbit and I wrapped up my arm, Lucinda told me who she was and about your plan. She said it didn’t go exactly right, but we’re all alive so I’ll take it. We aren’t sure what happened on Clara’s end. We are on our way to the rendezvous point to meet her and the Thestrious.” Nathan sat down and gently adjusted his poorly made sling.

We were on our way to the Thestrious. The thought made all the pain I was feeling in my body ebb. I took as deep a breath as I could muster and slowly exhaled it though my nose. I let my body relax and rest till I felt like I could sit up without passing out. Then I rested again.

 

Slowly with rests between most moves I was back up and moving freely. I worked on replacing Nathan’s hastily done bandages. Luckily the bullet had gone all the way through. I fixed him up with a clean shirt, clean bandage and a much more effective sling. I didn’t want Clara seeing him all covered in his own dried blood. As we finished up Lucina called over the intercom.  

“We have a visual of Clara and your ship, we’ll be docking in about 20 minutes.” She said.

Nathan and I made our way to the bridge. Nathan moved slower but I would have run if I could have managed.  I wanted to see her, The Thestrious. Was she still in the shape she had been in when we were forced to part? Had they cannibalized her? What kind of repairs would she need?  I wouldn’t feel totally at ease till I saw the damage.

I stumbled onto the bridge and Lucinda gave me a sideways glance. Like her sister, Lucinda was sometimes hard to read.

There in the distance was my Thestrious. Looking none too worse for the wear. Yes it looking like a few things were missing but I had prepared myself for much worse.

 

The Lamplight was docked and the air lock between the two ships opened. Clara was waiting on the other side for us. At the sight of Nathan you could see Clara’s body relax. She ran to him and then slowed and gently hugged him over his sling. Nathan pulled her in for a kiss and the contentment on their faces said all they needed to say.

After Clara and Nathan parted she walked over to me and threw her arms around me, I returned in kind.

“Thank God ya’ll are alright.” Clara said.

I smiled and wanted to say something similar but my throat still felt like I swallowed a bag of nails. I was using my words sparingly but I made a note in my head to tell her later how grateful I was. I made for the corridor, eager to walk the ship and see the state of things. Just before I stepped out of the room I heard Lucinda.

“Well Clara Bug, this is where we part again.” she said.

I turned and Lucinda was holding out her hand to shake Clara’s

“Come wait in the galley with us.” I rasped out.

“She’s not waiting for a ride April.”  Said Clara

“Your men aren't coming?” I asked.

“No need my ride’s right here.” Lucinda said and pointed a thumb over her shoulder toward the Lamplight.

My heart sank. The private conversation Lucinda and Clara had, the one where Clara convinced her to help us. She hadn't convinced her at all, she had payed her. Clara had traded her ship for my ship and Nathan’s life.  I knew that for the rest of our lives I would always feel indebted to her.

Clara pushed past Lucinda’s outstretched hand and hugged her. It was brief but fitting. Lucinda headed back toward the Lamplight and tossed a few sacks that had been laying by the door into the Thestrious.

“Here’s your things… and Clara never come back to this planet again.” Lucinda said and she closed the Lamplight’s air lock.

I closed the Thestriouse’s air lock and the light on the control panel switched to green. We felt a slight jar as the Lamplight broke free. I watched out the small window as the Lamplight grew smaller. I was sure Clara was devastated, but when I turned to look at her she was walking with Nathan back toward the corridor. Unconcerned about the arrangement and seemingly fully content with it’s outcome.

 

Over the next few days we made our way back from Exodus, making plans for the future. I asked Clara if she would be willing to stay on the Thestrious and act as my second in command. Technically I owed her a fortune, between the money I had promised at the start of the journey and her losing the Lamplight because of it, I would never be able to repay her. Clara didn’t seem to care much about my outstanding debt and happily accepted my offer.

Nathan asked if I would mind if he stayed as well, which I saw coming. I agreed, as long as we set ground rules about his gambling and that he would be required to start paying off all the debt he had laying around the galaxy. By the time we made it back to a civilized planet life on the Thestrious was starting to feel like the new normal.

I sat on the bridge alone in my large, soft cushioned pilot's chair. The sound of the engines whirring down and an electric hum in the air coming to a close. With a deep breath I could smell hints of oil and the leather of my chair, smells that remind me of my dad. Once again it was clear to me who I am and where I’m meant to be.

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

How to get by in the Galaxy Part 10

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How to get by in the Galaxy Part 9

How to get by in the Galaxy

Part 10

By Jamie Burns

 

The scene in the shipyard changed dramatically. Some of the men running away from the explosion, others running towards it. Panic and chaos took over like a flash flood. My ears still had a ring in them from the sound of the explosion. As it dissipated I could hear the air was filled with yelling, the sound of a blazing fire, falling debris crashing back to earth and in the farther distance screaming.

The men that moments before had me surrounded at gunpoint were gone. Infact, almost all of Cryton’s men had gone, swept up by the commotion. Which lead me to think that the explosion must have been close to their base of operations. The thought of Clara being there when it happened was scary but more over the though she might have been the one to cause it was no more comforting.

All who remained in our standoff now was myself, Cryton, (his gun now trained on me) and two of his men who had been standing slightly behind him to his right and left, suggesting they must have been his most loyal, and his right hand. The last soul left in the clearing was Nathan still laying on the ground, thankfully yelling in pain. I wasn’t happy he was in pain but I was happy to see he was still alive.

“What did you do!” Cryton yelled, and I could see the spit fly from his mouth as he raged at me.

“That wasn't us!” I wasn't totally lying because I really wasn't sure if it was Clara who was responsible for it or not.

I stepped closer to them and Cryton shot a round near my feet, causing me to freeze instantly on the spot.

“So you’re saying this is all a coincidence?” Cryton waved his gun toting hand around at the scene.

“How would I have done that?” I pointed to the smoked out area behind him. Cryton had no response. He looked down at Nathan then back to me and finally up to the Lamplight that was far in the distance behind me. Much too far away to be responsible for the explosion.  He was at a loss, the plan might not have been going exactly like I had thought but the main principle was still holding. He thought it was just the three of us Nathan, Clara and I.

Nathan still writhed on the ground but had managed to stop yelling.  Over the radio that was attached to Cryton’s belt a voice called out, “Boss, boss we need help over here! This place is going up like a candle!” The radio cut out and Cryton looked more annoyed than concerned. He pulled the radio off his belt and tossed it to the man on his right. “Go tell those idiots what to do.” He barked. The man was off towards the blaze and then there were two. Only two men stood between me, my brother and freedom.

“Come here little sister.” Cryton said, motioning with his gun to stand in front of him. I cautiously approached but stopped just out of his reach. He pointed the gun back down to Nathan. “Now tell Blondie to LAND!” He screamed the last word at me.

“As soon as you let him go.”

Nathan was now weakly pulling himself to a sitting position.

Cryton just looked at me, once again sizing me up. Without taking his eyes off me he called over his shoulder. “Tom, go get Sheila.” Cryton pointed his gun at me. The man hesitated for only a half a second then headed into the open dock of the ship they had pulled Nathan from.

“Who is Sheila?” I asked.

Cryton only smiled.

It took only a moment for Tom to return. My surprise that he returned alone was brief before the despair set it. He might not have returned with a person but he had brought what I was assuming was Sheila. An over-sized portable ground to air missile launcher. Then right there on the right side in large messy white paint I saw her name Sheila. Tom hosted Sheila up onto his shoulder and waited for instruction.

Nathan and I looked at each other. He had now made it onto his knees. He held his sagging blood soaked shoulder, and I saw his eyes twitch toward Cryton then back to me then to where Tom stood. The smallest of actions that told me all his thoughts. It wasn't the plan I had come up with but desperate times called for desperate measures. I casually straitened my index finger of the hand at my side telling him to wait for my signal.

Cryton pulled his shoulders back and looked up to the Lamplight. “Now shoot Blondie out of the sky.” He said.

“Wait!” I took a step toward Tom.

Cryton held up his hand to keep Tom from firing. “Are you ready to tell her to land now?”

Then I saw it, a shadow moving in the smoke filled sky over the explosion. My plan had mostly come together, maybe even better than I had hoped.

“No, I have to tell you something.”  I said to Cryton.

“And what’s that little sister?” He mocked.

“Taking my ship was a mistake.” Then I let the slight grin I had been holding back spread over my face.

The loud rumble and rush of air from my low flying ship tore over our heads from behind Cryton. Clara was definitely not in the explosion. The air pulled Cryton and Tom unexpectedly off balance along with the shock of seeing The Thestrious in the air. I clenched my hand into a fist. In unison Nathan and I acted. Nathan threw himself to grab at Cryton’s gun and I sprinted with all I had toward Tom.

I was sure the man had more than a hundred pound on me, but I was sure as hell not going to stand there and let him shoot mine or Clara’s ships from the sky. I aimed all of my weight at his torso and knocked him and Sheila to the ground. I heard the metal hit the ground a few yards away and had a small sense of relief.  No Shelia, no missiles. The victory was short lived. Tom had easily thrown me off and was then over the top of me. I kicked with my legs trying to keep him at a distance but it was useless. I held my arms over my face as a shield but that too was useless. I felt his hand grasp my throat like a vise.  I wasn't even sure he was using both hands.

I looked up into Tom’s face and found no anger or emotion, just a stone expression that made me think he had been doing Cryton's dirty work a long time. I started to feel a burning in my chest and a pressure behind my eyes. Tom’s face grew black around the edges. With whatever I had left I tried to dig my nails into his hand. Then I felt the feeling leaving them and thought about the fact that Tom’s hand seems very soft for a strangler. I let my head roll back and I caught a glimpse of the sky and a large gray object passed overhead.

The last thing I heard was the sound like a gunshot. The pressure around my neck was released and replaced by what seemed like a 200 pound man laying on top of me. This pressure was quickly removed as well.

I saw the world through a pinhole. My small and tiny world. My brother, the sky, the Thestrious, darkness, then stars and the universe.

 

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

How to get by in the Galaxy Part 9

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How to get by in the Galaxy Part 8

How to get by in the Galaxy

Part 9

By Jamie Burns

It was early Christmas morning, I woke up feeling awful and promptly ran to the bathroom to throw up. I felt a hand rub my back and then put a wet washcloth on the back of my neck. I expected to look back and see my mom but it was Nathan. I was only seven years old but then again so was he. When I was feeling ok to move he helped me to the living room, he put me on the couch, gave me a blanket, turned on the Christmas tree lights and made me a cup of tea. We sat there looking at the twinkle lights of the tree, some blinking slowly on and off, others steady. I drifted in and out of sleep. Nathan all the while sitting beside me making sure I didn’t need more tea or a bucket if I had another bout of sickness. Two hours later when my parents woke up they asked why we hadn't woken them and I remember saying “Nathan took care of me.” That’s all I can remember from that particular Christmas.

I hadn't thought of that in over sixteen years. As we sped in the Lamplight toward the rendezvous point the words stuck in my head. “Nathan took care of me.” Throughout primary school, high school and well into flight school Nathan took care of me. I helped him with homework, studying and even would cover for him with mom and dad on occasion. It was what we did. We took care of each other and I was determined to keep the tradition alive.

I landed the Lamplight a few miles from the rendezvous point. Clara and Lu both walked on to the bridge. Lu was dressed in some of Clara’s clothes and they had pumped up the volume on Lu’s blond hair. “Alright, this is the best spot.” I said to Clara and headed to the back of the ship expecting her to follow. When I realized she hadn't I turned back around. Clara and Lu faced each other awkwardly. Clara held out a hand, “Thank you for your help.”

Lu took Clara’s hand and gave it a firm shake. “You’re sure it’s worth all this?” She asked.

Clara said nothing just gave her head one firm nod.

Clara and I walked to the back of the ship, she opened the hatch to the cold air outside. We both looked out then at each other. “Remember watch your back at all times. She’s going to be a lot heavier than the Lamplight so don’t be timid. Don’t be afraid to push her around, just get her in the air and head to the place Lu setup.” I told her.

“It’s gonna work.” Clara said it as if she was trying to convince both of us.

I dropped the hard tone in my voice, allowing myself to be genuine and vulnerable for a moment. “Please just be careful Clara, I don’t want to have to come save you too, but I will if I have to.” I gave her a weak smile but it was all I could muster. Clara pulled me in for a hug. “We’ll get him back.” With that she turned and set off.

I closed the hatch and the moment it was sealed the Lamplight rose back into the air.  On the bridge I found Lu at the helm, looking confident and at ease.

“No wonder they could never catch you.” I said as I sat in the co-pilots seat. Lu just smiled and pulled back on the helm sending us higher into the gray clouds.

We arrived at the rendezvous ten minutes ahead of the dead line. How we managed that  seemed like an act of God or a lot of happy accidents all in a row. Either way I was grateful. Instead of landing the Lamplight in the spot that had been clearly left open for us it dipped low and I tossed the rope over the edge of the hatch and slid down to the ground. Once my feet had touched I raised my hands showing I was unarmed and the Lamplight quickly gained in altitude again. I walked to toward the crowd.

Turned out the rendezvous was yet another shipyard, but this one had far more security and was much busier than the one we had been in earlier that day. The ships in this yard didn’t look like the junk that was in the other shipyards.  Here they were larger, well built, with weapons, no rust and some I would even call shinny. It felt more like a showroom than a shipyard. I recognized the ship the crowd was gathered around. The last time I saw her she was flying away from the planet Cierra with the Thestrious flying away beside her as I could only watch from the ground.

Hands still up I kept walking toward the crowed. Some of the men had their guns raised while others looked on relaxed, in the middle of them was Cryton. He was wide in the shoulders and seemed fit for a man that looked like he was in his late forties.  All the others seemed to look to him for cues on what to do next. It made me wonder how bad a man you have to be to have others fear you on a planet like Exodus. I pushed the thought down because it made me more nervous than I liked. Cryton on the video had seemed charismatic and likeable for a kidnapper. That's what made me so nervous about him. He was a kind of bad man made worse by his good lies. Not that I didn’t have a lie or two up my sleeve.

“Well there she is boys, the little sister.” Cryton called out. With a flick of his finger the men with guns advanced towards me.

I watched as they encircled me. “Yep that’s me… where’s my brother?”

“Oh he’s close by.” Cryton said, him and his men chuckling at that. I instinctively took a step back.  Cryton eyes narrowed in on me, “What’s your little gal pal doing up there? Tell her to land.”

I had to laugh at this one. “So you can kill all three of us and keep the ship. I don’t think so.”

“You know I could just shoot that match box out of the sky if I wanted to.” He was getting more frustrated.

“I’m sure you could, but you don’t want to.”

He paused and let out a breath. “No, I don’t but if you’re up to something fishy I might just change my mind.”

“Where is Nathan?” I asked again.

He looked back toward his ship and waved to the men waiting there. A moment later two men dragged Nathan down the dock and dropped him next to Cryton. Nathan slowly stood to his feet, I was sure he couldn't see much with his face swollen to it’s current size.  I called to him. “Nathan it’s ok I’m here.” I walk a bit closer to get a better look at him. The sound of my voice didn’t put him at easy. If anything it seemed to make him angry.

“April? Why? I told you guys to leave.” He was scared and angry and I didn’t really blame him. He forced his eyes open and looked right to where I was standing. “Why can’t you ever listen to me?”

“Alright now little sis you tell blondie to put her ass on the ground now.” Cryton demanded.

“Give me Nathan, then she’ll land in the distance. You’ll let us go while you head to your new ship.” I called out sounding as confident and forceful as possible.

Cryton stared at me for a moment in shock, I guess at my demands. Then a slow smile spread across his face and he looked around. His men nervously looking back at him. He started to laugh, the men looked at each other, and started to laugh as well. Though it was clear they weren't sure why.

“I don’t think you understand little sis, this is not a negotiation.” He said then he pulled his gun from his holster and turned Nathan toward him. I knew I was to far away but I still lunged forward, Cryton pressed the barrel against Nathan’s shoulder and pulled the trigger.

I could have sworn that I felt that bullet. I felt the shockwave flow through my body and weaken my knees. At least that’s what I thought at first. Then I realized everyone was looking up. In the distance behind Cryton’s ship was a plume of black smoke. The massive explosion had socked all of us. I saw Nathan lying motionless on the ground my heart sank and I looked  back to the plume of smoke now lit by the fire that burn beneath it. My face must have been white as a sheet as I wondered where Clara was.

The Ocean and I

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This week we are taking a small break from "How to get by in the Galaxy" for a bit of Flash Fiction. In a style I have never really tried before. (Present Tense Writing) It might work, might not, but that's kinda the point. A place for me to try new styles and find out what I like and what I don't. Enjoy.

 

The Ocean and I

By Jamie Burns

 

I had said it so many times. As a way to bring humor to a real fear that plagued me. People would always laugh and ask “Is it?” I guess I always really did feel like the answer was, Yes. The Ocean was out to get me.

That’s what I would say. “The Ocean is out to get me.”

“Is it?”

“Yes, it wants me for it’s own.”

I would just smile and  laugh, they would laugh and chalk it up to another one of the silly things I say.

Now as I panic inside this sinking ship it was less funny. I’m not sure what made me agree to get on this ship in the first place. Ever since the situation has turned for the worst I was starting to forget things. Why I was there in the first place, what we were doing there, who we were traveling with, it was all becoming more muddled in my head as the water on the ship rose.

As unhappy as I am with the situation I find a twisted satisfaction in being right about the Ocean and it’s intentions for me. If I was going to be dead at least I was going to be right. It’s important to remember these things at times like this.

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As we try to make it to the upper decks of the ship I can see my companion bounding up the stairs in front of me. The stairwell is square with steps lining all four walls, ever going up and up. When the ship wasn't filling with water you could look over the side of the railing and see all the way down to the bottom decks. There must be people waiting for us at the top of this never ending stairwell. Who those people might be is gone from my mind. The only thing I can focus on besides trying to stay in step right behind my companion is the raising water. It gets faster as we do and it is now just two steps behind me.

My lungs are starting to burn from the pace, but I can’t slow down. I feel the water lap against my shoe as it takes me too long to pull it up from the step behind. I look ahead to see that I’m falling behind now. In an effort to pull myself back to the pace of my companion I reach out to grasp the railing.

I’m not sure what happened next. My best guess is that I must have just slipped. For a brief moment I feel a lurch in my stomach, I see my hands reach out to try and grasp at anything. Its so fast that I barely have time to call out, my companion turns back toward me but I have already hit the water.

It’s not as cold as I expected. Infact its pretty warm, the water wraps around me, my face drops just below the surface. Through the wave of dancing water I see my companion, his face filled with concern. Before either of us have time to react I feel something I never expected and could never have imagined.

The cold icy grip of two large hands reaches up from the depths of the Ocean, grabs me at the hips, wraps it’s arms around my waist and pulled me down. The sound of the water rushing around fills my head. My companion's face is filled with a mix of confusion and horror. Because as I am pulled down the water recedes, as if the Ocean was satisfied now with just me in its grasp. I am pulled down into the dark, the water lowers rapidly back down the steps leaving my companion on his still dry step, the water quickly far below his feet.

The humor of my statement still lingered in my mind. The Ocean truly was out to get me,  and now it had.

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

How to get by in the Galaxy Part 8

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How to get by in the Galaxy Part 7

How to get by in the Galaxy

Part 8

By Jamie Burns

 

In a universe that seems vast and infinite, every once and awhile the stars align. When they do it fills you with a sense that maybe, just maybe, the galaxy isn't totally out to screw you. That’s how I felt when Clara and I found Lucinda.

Right up till the moment that Lucinda punched her little sister Clara in the face.

The people in the crowded bar looked at the commotion for a moment before quickly looking away. Almost like they didn’t want to be caught looking. No one made a move to stop the tussle. After Clara landed a backhanded slap across Lucinda’s face the fight digressed into that of school girls pushing each other and pulling hair. The three large men that had been surrounding Lucinda moved the crowd back. I was going to try and put a stop to it but one of the men's overwhelmingly large hands pulled me back from the two swinging blondes.

“Clara!” I yelled.

My voice seemed to bring her back from the edge she had gone over. Clara pulled herself back from Lucinda. They both huffed with heavy breaths. “Damn Lu.What in creation was that for?” Clara asked, rubbing her bruised jaw.

Lu’s voice was so similar to Clara’s they were almost interchangeable. The deep draw of each word pulling on the air. “Six years, you don’t contact me. You don’t want nothin’ to do with me? Then, I hear someone's looking for me, because they need a favor. That someone turns out to be you. How you think that makes me feel Clara Bell?” Lu said with a conviction that made even me feel bad.

“Don’t you lie to me Lu. You knew I was the one looking for you.” Clara retorted.

The large man, had released my shoulder and moved back toward Lu. I realized now the three men were obviously Lu’s bodyguards.  I watched as the two sisters stared each other down. I had never imagined Clara with siblings. She had never mentioned a sister even though she had told me several stories of her parents and when she was younger. To find out now there was another Bell family member present in those tales changed the way I saw Clara. We were both the younger sister. But somehow Clara had cut Lu from her stories. It felt strange, I couldn’t think of a single memory from my childhood that didn’t involve Nathan in some way shape or form. He had always been there, my ever present big brother. Even if he was only a few minutes older than me. Was Lu that way for Clara in the beginning? Her best friend, her co-conspirator, her backup?

The women stayed a fair distance from each other. “I’m sorry it turned out like this.” Clara said and she really sounded like she meant it.

“So am I Clara bug.” The comment brought a hint of a smile into both the Bell women's faces. “Yes, I knew it was you. I have eyes and ears all over this rock. I knew you were here the second you stepped off that wind-up toy you call a ship.”

“What do you mean eyes and ears everywhere?” It was the first time I had spoken since breaking up the fight and I realized that Lucinda had no reason to know who I was. That fact didn’t faze her.

Lu smiled “Oh sister, you think I would come to a place like Exodus and I wouldn’t naturally take over?”

“Take over what?” Asked Clara.

“I’m the ‘Queen of Chems in six different quadrants.” Lu twisted her wrist in the air with a flourish.

“You’re a drug lord?!” Clara exclaimed.

“Oh Honey, don’t say it like that. But yes.”

I wasn't sure what Clara had expected to find when we went looking for her sister but I was sure a drug lord was not it. Clara was speechless with her mouth agape. I hated to interrupt the thought process that must have been running through Clara’s head but I needed to.

“Clara, we’re running out of time.” I said to her.

She composed herself again. “We need help Lu."

“And we need it in the next 3 and a half hours.” I added.

I wasn't sure what Clara said to Lu while they sat in Lu’s privet both in the back corner of the bar. The conversation took less than five minutes and I was elated. Clara and Lu returned, with Lu’s agreement to help us get Nathan back, as well as get the three of us back off Exodus. Now with Lu’s help and her unexpected resources my plan was looking more like a plan and less like a suicide mission.

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Keep it Up, Buttercup.

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Keep it Up, Buttercup.

The good news is… I’ve hit 30,000 words on my manuscript! The bad news is I’m convinced a quarter of the thing is gonna need to be deleted and rewritten. I write one chapter and everything feels right. My characters are funny my plot points make sense, then BOOM next chapter everything is awful. Why does that happen? So that’s how the Manuscript is going. I’m a rollercoaster of self-confidence and self-loathing. I’m in a glass case of emotion.

There are things that help me keep on keeping on though. First would be my human support system. Constantly proofreading my posts and gently reminding me that if I don’t write at least 2,000 words a week on my manuscript I’ll never finish by Nov 1st. (Thanks Honey, not sarcasm.)

On the more technical side, one of the things that really helps me to keep pushing through is consistency. If I’m writing at least 3 times a week it helps keep up my momentum. Even when things are looking bleak on the page. As opposed to, let's say, not writing anything three weeks in a row (Oops, I swear I’ll be better.) Really I would rather write something mediocre and change it later than write nothing. So I’m adding to my list of goals, write at least 3 times a week. Preferably it will be on my manuscript but I’m leaving my options open.

Another thing that keeps me both motivated and distracted is reading. This feels like my constant battle, reading takes up time I could be writing, but it inspires me hearing a great stories. Reading more also teaches me the difference between a bad writer, a good writer and a great writer. Over all I think it’s worth some loss of time to keep up my reading. Plus, I’m 2 books behind my yearly reading goal. This writer is a slow reader, go figure.  

The last thing I can think of that really makes me want to keep clacking away at the keyboard is my outline! I have mentioned briefly before that I have my entire plot outlined in color coded index cards on the wall of my office. Complete with 4 different colors of index cards and 4 other colors of post-it notes. It also sports thumb tacks with bits of string going from here to there keeping track of some “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey stuff.”- The Doctor. My husband lovingly refers to it as my serial killer wall. I have the entire story arch of my series on the wall. Anytime I hit a rough patch on a section I’m writing I can look at my outline and remember the awesome things I have planned and tell myself I have to take my character through this, so they can get to that. Oh how I want to skip ahead, but writing time travel is hard enough as it is.

Well that’s how it’s going this Manuscript Monday. I hope you writers out there are getting them words out, be it on paper or through glorious technology. (Always backup your work!) If you have things that motivate you to keep writing when all you really want to do is go binge watch Netflix (like I want to) let me know what they are.

How to get by in the Galaxy Part 7

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How to get by in the Galaxy Part 6

How to get by in the Galaxy

Part 7

By Jamie Burns

 

The white letters burned bright in the dimly lit bridge of the Lamplight. “9 O’clock ladies.” Clara and I stayed glued to the screen till it once again went black. Clara turned in her chair to face me, her normally rosy cheeks were as white as paper. I could see a rising panic in her eyes despite the fact she tried to fight it back. “We can’t leave him.” Clara said in a determined, this is set in stone kind of way.

“Well of course we can’t.”

Clara’s face softened and her shoulders relaxed.

“You didn’t really think I was going to suggest we leave my brother here?” I asked.

“Well no… I just.” Clara’s voice dropped off.

I put my hand on her shoulder and mustered up a small smile. “It’s ok, we will get him back… somehow.”

“9 O’ clock is less than six hours away.” Clara said. “What do we do? Just hand over the Lamplight?”

“No, we can’t do that, all three of us will die on this planet if we do.” I started pacing the floor of the bridge, trying to inspire my brain into some kind of brilliant idea.  Clara leaned back in the chair trying to do the same.

“Could we buy the guy off?” Clara suggested

“We don’t have enough for him to even consider it. Plus all my money is on my ship, the ship he has. For all I know he has already found it, either way we don’t have it.” I spoke as I rubbed my temples and paced.

I tried to think of a plan but nothing came, what did come to me was guilt and anger. The guilt, why had I said yes to splitting up? When had I ever let Nathan come up with the plans? It’s always been up to me to look out for him and I just let him go off alone. Then the anger, he managed to get himself caught, and ruin another one of my plans. This was all his fault to begin with. I stopped pacing, this was a poor waste of the short time we had.

Five minutes had passed when I finally dropped down into one of the seats. “This is impossible, every idea I have needs at least three people to attempt.” I complained.

“We need help.”

“Yes, we need help. In a place we know no one, and no one we do know would come. Even if they would, there’s no time.” The word hopeless came to mind.

In the softest tone her deep southern voice could manage I heard Clara say. “I might know someone.”

My head snapped to look at her. “Who? Are they trustworthy?”

Clara hesitated to speak, “No, she’s not trustworthy, and I’m not totally sure where she is, but it sounds like it might be our only option.”

“Clara,” I said slowly “Who is it?”

“My sister.”

 

Despite Clara’s obvious hesitation and concern, I was overjoyed. I jumped out of my seat and rushed over to Clara. Quickly pulling her by the arms out of the pilot's seat and took her place. Firing up the engines of the Lamplight.

“Good gracious, April what are you doing?” Clara asked.

“We need to find her right now. On the way you can tell me what went down with you two and I’ll tell you the plan.”

“I don’t know where she is.” Clara said

“Well we have a little over five hours to find her, convince her to help up, and hope she doesn’t screw us over.” I  lifted the Lamplight into the sky and headed in the direction of the nearest populated area. Looked like we would be getting to know Exodus better than we had planned.  

...

Clara hadn't spoken to her sister in six years. Her sister Lucinda Bell had been convicted for murdering her husband, who, according to Clara was no winner himself. While he was alive Clara’s sister and her husband had led a life of regular criminal activity. Traveling around robbing people and evading the authorities. Eventually something went wrong between the two of them, and Lucinda’s husband was found dead. She was caught and convicted of the murder but before she was taken to prison she had escaped the authorities once again.  After two years without word Clara received a video message from Lucinda telling her she was alive and on  Exodus. Six years had passed and Clara had hoped to never contact her again. But today was a very special circumstance.

The only thing Clara knew about the location of her sister was the quadrant of the planet the message was sent from and that was a six-year-old message. Since it was all we had to go on that’s where we started. Thankfully Exodus was a small plant, Clara and I both watched every minute tick by, it took us forty of them to get to the area. I started formulating a plan B, for if we couldn't find Lucinda. Plan B was not looking so good.

Once on the streets we started asking around about Lucinda. Most of the people in this area seemed to be on some kind of drug that made them a starry eyes mess, seeming incapable of understand words. Another twenty minutes passed and the tightness pulled at my chest.  I was about to suggest we move to the next quadrant when out of the mess of starry eyed dope heads a man started walked towards us. I pulled out my gun, not sure what to expect. When he saw it he stopped his approach. I saw then he was a young boy probably in his mid-teens, he looked strung out and wiry, he was on something different.

“I just want to talk.” the boy said as he coward a few yards away from us.

“About what?” I asked.

The boy looked around. “Who you’re looking for.”

I looked back at Clara, and she returned a ‘might as well’ look to me. I nodded my head toward an open ally off the side of the street. The boy made his way in and we followed, once inside I raised my guy in case of ambush.

“You, you don’t need that.” He stammered.

“Well I feel pretty when I hold so I’m just gonna keep it, kay.” I masked my nerves with sarcasm as always. “What do you know?”

“Well I want to tell you but…”

“But what?” I asked.

“I can’t tell you for free.” He said as his nervous form looked around the ally.

“Really? You’re going to try and give us the shake down? I have you at gunpoint.” I was already sick of Exodus.

“I, I don’t think you know how to use, use that.” He stammered.

Without warning I shot an empty can that sat next to his left foot, causing it and him to jump into the air. “Is that so?” I asked.

He hunched himself over even more.

“Look kid, we are in a time crunch and if you really know anything you better say it right freakin’ now!” I was losing all sense of patience. My watch said we only had another four and half hours, and it would take 40 minutes to get to the location we were to meet Cryton.

“Ok, ok.” He backed up to the ally wall and slid down to a seated position.

“Well?” Clara said.

“You’re, you’re looking for Lu, right?” he asked.

I looked back at Clara. “Yes.” She said, her eyes growing bigger.

“She’s in the Brice quadrant.” He said as he dropped his head into a slump, realizing his sad attempt to make some money had failed.  My heart leapt, the Brice quadrant was not far and it was even the direction we need to be going. We might still have a bit of hope left, if I didn’t think about the fact we only had four hours and fifteen minutes to save my brothers life and get the Thestrious back.  

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

How to get by in the Galaxy Part 6

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How to get by in the Galaxy Part 5 

How to get by in the Galaxy

Part 6

By Jamie Burns

 

“Are you sure about this?”

It was the first time any one of us had questioned our presence on Exodus. I didn’t blame Nathan for asking because truthfully I had my doubts.  We hadn't been shot out of the sky on the way in, so that was a small victory. Getting back off the planet would be the hard part. Especially in what would be seen as a stolen ship. No point in trying to reason that I was just stealing back what was rightfully mine to begin with. Clara, Nathan and I stood on the bridge of the Lamplight looking out over the dirty, gray, shipyard. Ships and parts lay out for miles in front of us. A maze of junk and potential treasures sprawled out waiting to be bought, sold or stolen.

“It’ll be fine. We have to find the Thestrious then I can figure out how to get her back”

“We’ll find it.” Nathan said, reaching over and squeezing my shoulder. Now that we were on Exodus it seemed like the guilt was finally hitting him. It was, after all, his fault we were there.

“Clara, you should stay here.” I suggested

“You sure? Maybe Nathan should stay and I can come with you.” Clara said.

“No you’ll draw too much attention, it’s mostly men in the shipyard. You’ll stick out like a sore thumb.”

“Yeah, April here can basically pass for a 15 year old boy.” Nathan said and slapped me on the back. The memory of the kind comforting shoulder squeeze faded away. What else should I expect from my screw up brother.

I rolled my eyes and turned back to Clara, “For now, I think it’s best if you stay here.”

The shipyard was cold, which worked well for us. We wore our dark heavy coats, I pulled my hood up and made sure my hair was tucked in tightly. Nathan could have said it in a nicer way but he was right, I was a much more believable male from a distance than Clara could ever be. My total lack of curves made my figure ambiguous under my large coat.  

We quietly searched the yard. It was still the early hours of the morning and there was almost no one around. The weather was gloomy and behind the smell of oil, rubber and garbage was a hint of oncoming rain.  Several hours passed and Nathan and I still looked for the Thestrious, the rain must have kept people away because we had only seen a few roaming the ship yard like us. I started to look for any parts that might have come off the Thestrious, but I was afraid to find any, because the implication of what it would mean had happened to my ship. Several more hours past and the rain continued.

We reached the end of another long row of miscellaneous old ships.

I checked my watch, “We should go back and check in with Clara. It’s almost 1 o’clock now.”

“Ok, we should split up, go two different ways back to the Lamplight so we can keep looking along the way.” Nathan said as he scanned his eyes over the next row of ships.

“I don’t know if we should split up Nathan.”

“We’ve seen maybe four people in the last five hours, No one cares that we’re here.”

The shipyard looked just as empty and desolate as it had in the early morning. After hours of rain the ground had become a muddy mess, I couldn’t guess what the temperature was but I would describe it as frigid. Not many people would be out unless they had to be.

“Ok,” I hesitantly agreed.

“Alright I’ll take this path.” Nathan gestured to his left.

“Then I’ll swing back around. You take that one.” Pointing to his right.

“Then we’ll meet back at the Lamplight in about an hour. Sound good?”  He had a hopefulness to his voice that I appreciated. As if the Thestrious could be right around the next corner.  “Ok, be careful.” I said, and we split up.

It took me an hour and forty minutes to make it back to the Lamplight, the shipyard was a maze and I had hit a dead end on one of my chosen paths. The moment I entered the Lamplight and threw off my heavy wet coat I had Clara’s arm around me in a tight embrace.

“Thank God, you’re alright!” she said with her southern drawl too loud and too close to my ear.

“Yeah, thanks, I just had to take a little detour.” I said and she quickly released me from the hug. I started to pull off my mud caked boots, Clara still hovered over me.

“How long ago did Nathan get back?”

“He’s not. I was hoping you two were together.” Clara said.

“What?”

“Why aren’t you two together?” Clara asked.

“We split up to cover more ground. He’s not back?”

Clara stared at me, her mouth agap.

“Haven’t you two ever seen a damn movie before? You never split up on a strange planet!”

Clara took off back toward the bridge. I followed barefoot behind her.

“Maybe he just had to take another way back, like I did.”

“Yeah maybe, or maybe not.” Clara’s voice was tense. We both looked out over the ship yard.

“I don’t know April. I have a bad feeling in my stomach.” Clara’s face was filled with worry. I knew her and Nathan had history but this was the first time I started to think Clara might have really been in love with him.

“Maybe I’m just being paranoid. If something was wrong you would feel it too right? That’s a twin thing isn't it?” Clara asked.

“Um…” I wasn't sure how to answer. Before I could decide the sound of a soft chime came from the console in front of the pilot’s seat, drawing both mine and Clara’s gaze. A moment of hesitation swept over the bridge and everything was still as we glanced back at each other.

Clara was the first to move as she rounded the console and plopped into the seat, clicking away on the screen.

“It’s a message…” She said.

“From who?” I rounded the console and looked over Clara’s shoulder.

The subject line of the message read: “To the comrade and concubine of Nathan Norien” The video message started to play, and there he was. The ass hat that stole my ship! If I had known him for any other reason I might have called him handsome, but I didn't. He was the head of a gang of thugs that was responsible for my current headache. The message continued.  

“Hello Ladies,” He stared, his mouth too close to the camera, then leaning back into a chair. “My name’s Cryton Hays and I believe you are looking for something of mine.” My rage flared up at the statement. “We know you’re on Exodus and invite you to leave immediately.  I’m a nice guy you see, so as long as you leave now I’ll stay that way.” He flashed a big toothy smile at the camera.  “You leave now, I’ll keep Nathan here with me.”  Cryton pulled Nathan into the shot by the collar of his shirt. Nathan’s face was almost unrecognizable. His nose was obviously broken and both his eyes were red and swollen shut. Clara grasped the arms of the pilot seat. “Or if you would like ol’ Nathan here back you can head over to our location and turn over that sweet little ship your pretty asses are sitting in.” It felt like all the blood drained from my body. It was that feeling of knowing you’re totally 100% screwed. “So it’s up to you ladies. You’re free to go or come swap.” Nathan pushed toward the screen “April, Go! Get off this rock!” He yelled before Cryton hit him in the face, to silence him. Clara looked away from the screen. “We’ll need your decision by 9 this evening, I’m a busy man after all.”  The screen went black. Then in white letters a location appeared across the screen followed by the words “9 O’clock Ladies”

 

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Post Frequency Update!

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Post Frequency Update! I am proud to say that since I started Sci Fi, Oh My in February I have posted every Monday and Friday as promised. Hip Hip Hooray! It’s not always easy but it is rewarding. The only problem is, it’s getting trick to keep up with my goal to finishing the first draft of my book. So I’ll be changing up my scheduled a bit.

For the time being Manuscript Mondays will be a once a month post, (Monthly Manuscript Monday) most likely at the end of the month.  That way I can dedicate more time to the manuscript itself. I also believe it will help me bring better insight and quality to the updates and tips I’m passing on to you.

Fiction Friday will remain the same! It’s my favorite segment. It’s a great way for me to stretch my legs as a writer and try new things. I already feel like it’s helping me grow and become a more entertaining writer.  No changes there, look forward to new and continuing stories every Friday here at Sci Fi, Oh My.

Thanks for coming by and I’ll see you Friday!  

How to get by in the Galaxy Part 5

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How to get by in the Galaxy Part 1                                                                                                                                                       How to get by in the Galaxy Part 2                                                                                                                                                       How to get by in the Galaxy Part 3                                                                                                                                               How to get by in the Galaxy Part 4

How to get by in the Galaxy

Part 5

By Jamie Burns

 

The amount of empty space that stretches between the mainstream planets and Exodus scares a lot of people. I remember one instructor in particular while I was at flight academy that would always  manage to list at least one of the dangers of Exodus and its surrounding space quadrant in every lesson.

“It’s a place without law.”

“Disease is everywhere.”

“No one will stop to help if you need it.”

and my favorite “If you go there you will probably never come back.”

I was fairly certain that instructor had never been remotely near Exodus. I thought he was just trying to scare the new class of students. Once I started traveling on my own I heard more stories. Not all of them as ominous and dire as the ones from my professor but none of them painted a very nice picture of our galaxy's outermost planet.   

It was a long trip to get to Exodus, you needed to prep for before setting off. Once you started the journey you just hope nothing happens between point A and point B, because none of the repair services would come close to Exodus to get you.

There were 2 small black holes on the way to Exodus that needed to be closely monitored as you passed them to make sure they didn’t expand and suck you into their field. There were scavenger ships that would try and overtake whoever they passed so they could piece out and sell parts from the ships they took. Past that was a field of space junk that was mostly comprised of government cruisers.  

Exodus was known as the Outlaw’s planet. Originally terraformed as a prison planet, it was picked for its isolation from the other planets and set up to sustain itself with little supervision. I know, stupid idea right. The years passed by and eventually the prisoners outnumbered the guards and took over. Once the government realized what was happening they sent an armada to try and regain control. It was a futile effort, Exodus had been designed to withstand incoming attacks and ships that would potentially add in escape attempts. With the prisoners in control of the planet’s weapons defense system, the armada didn’t stand a chance. Hence the field of government cruiser space junk that surrounded the planet. Basically the government handed the bad guys the perfect fortress.

Fifty years later the planet wasn’t just for prisoners anymore. It was the planet of misfit outlaws, drug lords, runaways, space ruffians, thieves, and all manner of corrupt individuals. Exodus had it’s own system of government that was anything but just. Control of the planet would change hands often and sporadically as whoever the current ruler was would be assassinated so another more corrupt person would step into the role, making it a place of chaos and disorder. No law needed to be followed or enforced, except one. Exodus had only one rule universally followed by all who lived there. If  any outside government or law enforcement shows up kill them, or report it so someone else could.

I was never officially part of the government, once I graduated flight academy and my Ex had publicly humiliated me, I decided I didn’t want to stick around and take orders from some uptight brass. It was a good call that I still stand by. I was still nervous the closer we got to Exodus, given my almost affiliation with law enforcement. The crazy tales my old professor told our class ran through my head as we gently glided through the field of demolished cruisers. I decidedly hadn’t shared any of these stories with Clara or Nathan. No need to add to the already tense and nervous atmosphere on the ship.

Not one of us had even mentioned a doubt about going to Exodus. It had been almost three months since Nathan and I were left on Ciera, stuck watching my ship The Thestrious fly off into the sunset without me. Clara agreed to help us, for a price of course. Since then getting to Exodus had been our only goal. Why go to the scum bag capitol of the galaxy? Well where else would they set up the Universe's black market.?

Exodus’ black market was as under the table as your local grocery store. No need to hide your deals when there is no one around who cares. The market took up almost a quarter of the planet, one could easily find anything they wanted from government grade weapons, every kind of designer and back alley drug you can think of, to all manner of stolen goods, and for those with enough money there was even an area for those looking to buy people. What a sick notion.

We would be looking for the shipyard. Without a doubt that was where I would find the Thestrious. We entered the atmosphere and it seemed to strengthen my resolve. I was going to get her back no matter what. I wouldn’t leave her here to be bought and used by some dirtbag. The Thestrious was everything I had poured my life into and I wouldn’t just give up on my life because it had brought me to the worst part of the galaxy.

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Getting to know a Character

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Getting to Know a Character

Anyone that has even read a book or watched a movie can not deny one thing. We all like characters. We might not all like the same characters but we are all there for the same reason, we are interested in the characters. Whether you’re a villain loving hero hater (i.e. Siths, Death Eaters, Hydra members) or you’re the kind of person that roots for the home team (i.e. Avengers, Jedi Order, Justice League, or any protagonist hero really) .  We all want to know more about characters and how things turn out for them. We can all agree this is true, if you don’t, Well you’re lying mister.

We want to know the characters, then once we do they can often become like old friends to us. It’s the reason we always buy the next book in the series, reread old favorites, re-watch movies and binge watch season after season on netflix, it’s the characters. Getting to know characters is the best, when reading and writing.

If you love a character in a book you are totally invested in them by the end of that book. You get to know them as if they were a living breathing person. In fact sometimes we know them  better that we know real people.  Gasp! Because we have spent the time getting to know them because some awesome author spent the time to make that character.

As a writer knowing your character makes it easier to write in “their voice”.

“Their voice” meaning how or what they might say. It doesn't have to be words it can be just a reaction or a look. Knowing your character means knowing their personality and how they handle situations. Making it easy to believe that they are the ones reacting or speaking, not you as the writer. That’s the goal right? I know it’s my goal.

Loving your character can really help you when you’re writing. I always get excited when I know I’ll be writing a scene where one of them gets to be cheeky, clever or funny. It’s what drives me. The parts of the book that come along and tell you who the character is, these are pretty much the best parts. With every reaction and statement the writer is helping determine who that character is to the reader. That’s a lot of power as a writer. 

This is why short stories are hard for me, because it gives you so little time to get to know everyone. That’s probably why I have yet to write a Fiction Friday that I didn’t plan a continuation to in my head. Sorry it’s just too difficult.

Whether you're writing your hero or your villain make them their own person, everyone reacts differently to different situations. A book that is full of people with the same personality sounds really boring. I love my cast of character and I hope readers will too.

Forest of Imagination

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By Jamie Burns

 

I always loved my grandmother’s house. It was down a long dirt road that passed fields with horses and usually grazing deer. Past the fields was the forest filled with tall strong pine and oak trees. Then tucked at the base of a beautiful mountain range was my Grandmother's house. A small simple A-frame home with tall windows all along its front.

The time I spent there as a kid always felt warm, cozy, inviting, all the things you expect from your Grandmother. As I look back now the place felt like magic, not just because of the house but because of the forest it sat in. It had everything, heavily wooded forests and brief openings into golden fields of tall grass. A creek that ran along the back achers, and a spring of clear water that flowed right from the side of the hill in the backyard. There were walking trails all over the property, my brother and I would race down one in particular to a large group of rocks that we liked to climb on. My brother would always win, since he was four years older than me and two feet taller, I never did gain the advantage.

My time there was filled with skinned knees and sticker bushes, but also things like baked cookies and picnics. It was a place for pretend and wonder, a place where all things were possible. My imagination would tell me that fairies or giants lived in those woods and they liked it when I came to visit. I would be a warrior, a princess, an explorer, I could be stranded on an island, in a tomb, or even on another planet. The perfect canvas for my adventurous mind.

As an adult I know that a place like that was the best gift I could have ever had as a child. I wish I could somehow give that kind of gift  to everyone.

I told myself that it was impossible. So the next best thing I could do was sit down and write. If you don’t have a place to explore and imagine, or you’re feeling like you imagination is too tired, feel free to use mine.   Copyright: 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.