Day 9: ANOTHER Self-Imposed 30-Day Writing Challenge

Day 9.  Two dwarves.  One mission.  To make a special delivery to a realm called Earth.  Let’s see how this scene from Charlie Weaver goes:  (The italicized portion is from the Day 8 post.  I needed a running start……)

“I would have much rather stayed at home and tended my garden.  But did I?  No.  Instead I’m here, risking my life for you.”  Sherbert turned her back to him and jumped down from the step.

“Well, I don’t need your help,” Herbert snapped.  “I’ve been on plenty of missions.  I could have done this one by myself.”

Sherbert scowled. “Fine.  If you don’t want me here, then I’m leaving.”

Before she could storm off, the thick, wooden door swung open.  A baritone voice cut through the silence of the night.  “Great horny toads!  Who the dickens are you?  And why are you bothering me in the middle of the night?”

Both dwarves stopped talking and stared at the curious figure on the porch.  A large man with long gray hair, bushy dark brows and a grizzled beard bent down and scowled at them.  Was this the Guardian that they were seeking?  He bore no resemblance to the dignified persona each dwarf had envisioned.

“Your caterwauling is going to wake up the entire neighborhood,” he boomed, waving one large, beefy hand at them.  “Move, critters.”

Herbert barely squeaked out his question.  “Move?”

“Yes.  MOVE, critter.  MOVE,” the man bellowed, waving one large, beefy hand at them.  “Quit yammering and move inside the house before someone spots you.”

Completely flustered, Herbert picked up the basket and walked into the house without protest.  Even Sherbert, who was normally unruffled by anything, failed to point out the sloping landscape that surrounded the house.  The closest neighbor was at least one mile away.  Intimidated, she followed her brother inside.

The man waved them into a large room.  Embers crackled in the fireplace, giving the room a warm, cozy glow.  Tan walls were decorated with colorful tapestries.  There was one large sofa and an arm chair by the fireplace.  Herbert and Sherbert exchanged uncertain glances.

“Well, don’t just stand there gawking at me like a bunch of pop-eyed toads.  Sit down,” the man boomed, pointing to the sofa.  “Sit, sit.”

Gingerly, Sherbert climbed onto the sofa.  Herbert gently placed the basket by the arm chair, before started his formal introduction speech.  “Greetings Sir,” Herbert started, squaring his shoulders.  “On behalf of the Elders Council, allow me…..”

“Elders Council?”  The man guffawed, reaching into a box on a table next to the arm chair.  He pulled out a pipe.  “What the hell is an Elders Council?”  The man struck a match, lit the end of the pipe and puffed three perfect rings of smoke before glaring at Herbert.

This wasn’t how this first meeting was supposed to go.  Not at all.  Especially not when such an important delivery was at stake.  Herbert had no idea how to proceed when a recipient didn’t follow protocol.  Floored, he looked helplessly at Sherbert.

Sighing, Sherbert hopped down from the sofa.  It was time to take charge.  “Sir, it would help if you didn’t yell at us.”

“Yell?” The man bellowed in a voice that echoed from the rafters of the house.  “I’m not yelling.  Quit stalling and get to the point, Missy.  Who are you and what’s your business here?”

“Lanka is under attack,” Herbert blurted out and immediately regretted it.  So much for following protocol and gently approaching the recipient about the delivery.

Well, that news silenced the man.  He actually appeared stunned for a moment, as he processed Herbert’s statement.


Day 8: ANOTHER Self-Imposed 30-Day Writing Challenge

Day 8.  I know that I’m going to drive anyone reading this blog crazy, but I’m switching stories.  Back to Charlie Weaver et. al.  Here goes:

CHARLIE WEAVER:  CHAPTER XX – The Bickering Heralds

Once upon a time, on the island of Lanka, there lived a creature called Herbert.  The Council of Elders, who managed very important affairs in the realm of human beings, often sent Herbert on errands.  You see, Herbert was quite tall for a dwarf.  In fact, he was tall enough to pass as a small human being.  All of them knew Herbert was very good at blending in, which is why he was chosen to make a very important delivery to the human realm.

Since birth, Herbert’s twin sister, Sherbert, had never been separated from her brother’s side.  Trips to the human realm were no exception.  She was obviously a dwarf, but when disguised, could pass as an Earth child.  Sherbert was given permission to accompany Herbert on this next trip.

Visits to different realms were always exciting.  A visit to Earth was particularly exciting, but it did nothing to dampen the siblings’ spirited fighting.  Oblivious to the sights and sounds along the long route to earth, Herbert and Sherbert continued to bicker all the way to their final destination.  If one said it was too hot, the other said it was too cold.  If one said that the sky was blue, the other predicted rain.  In short, they wouldn’t have had it any other way.

They finally approached their final destination in the middle of the night.  The farmhouse was dark and quiet.  Both dwarves looked up at the knocker on the heavy door.  Neither of them made a move to knock it.  “Maybe we should wait until morning,” Herbert suggested.

“No,” Sherbert replied.  She looked at her brother expectantly.  “This is too important to wait.”

Herbert slowly lifted his hand up to the knocker and then dropped it.  Uneasy, he glanced at his sister.  “You tell him.”

Sherbert frowned up at him, placing small hands on her hips.  “I will not.  This is your mission.  You tell him.”

Shaking his head, Herbert replied.  “No, you tell him.

Sherbert retorted.  “I don’t want to tell him.”

Herbert said.  “But it’s your turn.”

Sherbert threw up her hands.  The disgust was evident on her face.  “Why is it always my turn when the news is bad?”

Herbert looked down at the large basket resting near the front door.  Its occupant was sleeping peacefully.  Herbert kicked a pebble on the porch, before mumbling, “This isn’t bad news.”

“Then you tell him,” Sherbert insisted, crossing her arms across her chest and staring at Herbert.

“You’re the one who wanted to come,” Herbert scowled.  This blasted trip hadn’t been worth it.  He should have said no to this visit.  The thought of having to relay his news made him queasy.  “You could at least make yourself useful, since I allowed you to come with me.”

“You allowed me to come?”  Sherbert repeated, raising her eyebrows.

“That’s right.  The Elders didn’t even want you to come.” Herbert’s chin jutted forward, desperate to convince her to relay the news.  He glanced at the basket and lowered his voice to a loud whisper.  “I made the decision.  And now, I’m starting to wonder if I made a mistake.”

Sherbert’s lower lip quivered.  She took a step towards her brother and poked him in the chest with one finger.  “This wasn’t your decision.  The Elders asked me to come with you.  They thought that you would need my help.”

“You’re making that up,” Herbert said, offended.  Why would the Elders think that he needed Sherbert’s help?  The idea was preposterous.

“I would have much rather stayed at home and tended my garden.  But did I?  No.  Instead I’m here, risking my life for you.”  Sherbert turned her back to him and jumped down from the step.

“Well, I don’t need your help,” Herbert snapped.  “I’ve been on plenty of missions.  I could have done this one by myself.”

Sherbert scowled. “Fine.  If you don’t want me here, then I’m leaving.”

Day 12 of 30: Write 15 Minutes of Absurdity

Ah, yes.  After riding this Donkey Kong vibe for what seems like FOREVER, we finally have a monkey in the story.  So what on earth should I do with it?  Let’s try this:  (NOTE:  I need a running start, so the portion in italics is from the previous post.)

“Charlie, we have to get out of here.  That’s an Asura,” Aryana stepped out of the cave to grab my arm.  She tugged me in the direction of the tunnel.  “Run, Charlie,” she screamed, pulling on me.

I’m no Asura.  

The stranger stood outside of the cave and pulled back his hood.  Aryana and I just stared at the stranger in shock.

It was a monkey.  A very tall, dark-haired monkey draped in a long, black cloak.  He tilted his head to one side and studied me with surprisingly human eyes.    

Hello, Charlie.  I’ve been expecting you.

“Wh-Who are you?” I stammered.  My heart beat wildly at the sound of the deep baritone voice.  I could feel a rivulet of sweat drip down the back of my neck.  The monkey had to be at least six and a half feet tall.

Don’t you remember who I am?  

The monkey took a few steps towards us.  He bared his teeth.  I had the strange feeling that he was grinning at us, but since I couldn’t tell with certainty, I placed a hand on the hilt of my sword.  “Stay away from us,” I warned him, and stood in front of Aryana.  “I’m a Warrior.  I’ll fight you if I have to.”  It wasn’t a complete lie.  I wasn’t technically a Warrior, but I had watched Shivani and Ryan in enough fights with Asuras to get the gist of things.  I’m a strong guy.  How hard could it be to handle a sword?  Just swing and slice.

A strange sound came out of the monkey’s mouth.  He clutched his stomach and bent over at the waist, convulsing.  I thought he was having a fit, until it hit me.  “Are you laughing?” I demanded, while carefully rearranging my features to look stern.  My scowl did nothing to intimidate the monkey, since he continued to laugh.

“Who are you talking to?” Aryana asked, obviously perplexed.

“The monkey,” I replied automatically.

“You think you’re talking with this creature?  Charlie, it’s a monkey.  He can’t talk,” Aryana glanced at the shaking monkey and back at me.  She shook her head.  “I think we need someone to talk a look at you.  You’re hallucinating.  Let’s leave before you get worse.”

Of course I’m laughing.  You’re no Warrior.  The idea of you fighting me is absurd.  I could knock you down with just a flick of my tail.  

Something moved under the rear of his cloak.  I assumed that it was his tail.  Water streamed out of the the monkey’s eyes.  If he had been human, I would have said that he was laughing so hard that he was crying.

“Come on, Charlie,” Aryana said, as she wiped beads of sweat from her forehead.  The heat from the forest fire was getting stronger.  Tugging on my sleeve, she said hoarsely, “Get in the tunnel.  The fire is too close.  We can’t leave the cave now.”

The girl is right.  You have taken too long.  The fire is all around us.  Climb on my back.  I’ll have to carry both of you to safety.  

The monkey squatted down on his haunches.  He squared his shoulder and leaned over.

“I’m not going anywhere with you until I know who you are,” I replied sternly.

“Oh, for goodness sakes,” Aryana rolled her eyes, reached out and grabbed my shoulders.  She shook me gently.  “Charlie.  I am Aryana.  You aren’t thinking clearly.  Please listen to me.”  She said each sentence very slowly, as if speaking to a small child.  “The forest is on fire.  We have to get out of here.”

If a monkey could roll his eyes, then that’s what this monkey did.

Enough of this foolish banter.  

He raised a paw and stared at us.  His eyes changed color.  Brown to gold.

The dizziness hit me like a wall.  I gasped and tried to grab the side of the cave to support myself.  My limbs felt heavy.  I could feel my knees buckle under my weight.  I tried to crawl towards Aryana, but it took me a few moments to figure out where she was.  Turning my head in her direction took a lot of effort.

Aryana was still standing.  Before I could call out her name, her eyes rolled backwards.  I watched her hit the ground a few moments before I collapsed on the ground next to her.  The last thing I remember was the monkey standing over both of us.  And then there was nothing.

Day 11 of 30: Write 15 Minutes of Absurdity

Day 11.  Time to ratchet up the level of absurdity in this story.  In the first chapter, Charlie Weaver “spoke” with telepathic “Yoda” cows.  I think Charlie needs to tap into this ability again.  Here goes:

Aryana and I stood at the cave entrance.  The ground beneath our feet rumbled, but neither of us moved.  We both just stared in wonder.  Even though I grew up on a farm, I had never seen so many animals panicked at the same time.  Bears, monkeys, lions, tigers, water buffalo, deer, and other wild animals rushed by the mouth of the cave.  My body tensed because they were uncaged, but none of them glanced in our direction.  After a few moments, I relaxed.

My eyes started to water.  The big clouds of dust caused by the rush of animals reached the cave.  I coughed and waved a hand in front of me, trying to clear the air.  A herd of water buffalo raced by us.  Their stampeding hooves echoed through the valley.  “Where are they going?” I asked loudly.

“They must be heading for the river,” Aryana replied.  She sniffed the air again and shook her head.  “I don’t want to leave without Paw Paw, but the fire is getting closer.  We have to get someplace safe.”

We finally agreed on something.  I nodded.  “Yeah, but where do we go?”

Follow the animals, Charlie Weaver.   

“What?  Did you just say something?” I turned to Aryana.  Despite the gravity of our situation, I couldn’t help thinking how pretty she looked.  All of those long dark waves and golden brown freckles made me forget my question for a moment.  I could have just stood there staring into her big blue eyes for hours.

“No,” Aryana shook her head, loosening a few dark curls.  I fought the urge to brush back the tiny tendrils around her forehead.  “Nothing other than we need to leave.  Why?”

Follow the animals, Charlie Weaver.  There it was again.  I pulled my gaze away from Aryana and looked outside of the cave.  That voice.  It sounded familiar.

I picked up my backpack and slipped the straps over my shoulders.  I squared them and hoped Aryana noticed how broad they were.  “We need to get out of here,” I said, deepening my voice.  I liked how authoritative I sounded.  It was time to start using this voice.

“I just said that,” Aryana said, picking up her backpack.  “Honestly, do you ever listen to anything I say?”  She rolled her eyes.  It was a perfect imitation of Shivani Roy.  Obviously, Aryana had been spending way too much time with my sarcastic sidekick.

Stop gawking at the girl, Charlie Weaver.

I started and looked around me.  There it was again.  The voice.  And it obviously wasn’t Aryana.  After a moment, I swear I heard the voice mutter something about always getting the slow ones.  It continued.

For the last time, Charlie Weaver, follow the animals.  They will lead you to safety.

“Who are you?”  I asked out loud, craning my neck to search around us.  There was no one else in the cave with us.

“Who?”  Aryana stared at me, confused.  She watched me look around the cave.  “Who are you talking to?”

Take the girl and follow the animals.  Do it now or be engulfed by the flames.  

“Let’s follow the animals,” I repeated, grabbing Aryana’s hand.  She pulled it away from me.  I shrugged and stepped just outside of the cave.  After spending so much time inside the dark cave, my eyes weren’t used to the light.  I squinted in the bright sunlight.

“Are you insane?” she asked, backing away from me.  “Those animals will trample us to death if we leave the cave.”  She pointed behind her. “There’s a tunnel.  Let’s follow it and see where it leads.”

No harm will befall you from the animals.  But Asura flames are almost here.  

The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  I turned away from Aryana.  My gaze fell on a dark figure approaching us.  My first instinct told me that this was the creature I had seen on the cliff, but I dismissed the thought.  It was someone wearing a dark hooded cloak.

I don’t know why I didn’t immediately run into the tunnel with Aryana.  I just stood there, staring at the hooded stranger.  Whoever it was seemed to glide towards us.  I watched in amazement as it walked right into the stampede without losing pace.  The animals didn’t trample the stranger.  They continued to run, but left a wide berth around it.

“Charlie, we have to get out of here.  That’s an Asura,” Aryana stepped out of the cave to grab my arm.  She tugged me in the direction of the tunnel.  “Run, Charlie,” she screamed, pulling on me.

I’m no Asura.  The stranger stood outside of the cave and pulled back his hood.  Aryana and I just stared at the stranger in shock.

It was a monkey.

Day 9 of 30: Write 15 Minutes of Absurdity

Well, this is starting to get interesting.  I’m kind of digging this Donkey Kong vibe.  On Day 8, I ended with the group of heroes getting attacked by something flying through the air. Were they fireballs?  Were they flaming barrels?  And how does a monkey fit into this?  Let’s move to the scene after the Asura attack and see how this goes:

“The Asuras are getting stronger,” Serenity said softly.  “It’s a good thing that Shivani was with us.”  The worry on her face was obvious.

“I agree,” Paw Paw nodded.  “We wouldn’t have defeated them without her.”

“Hey, what about me?” Ryan exclaimed, putting a hand on his hip.  I didn’t know him very well, but I already recognized mock outrage on his face when I saw it.  He lifted up his sword and slashed at the air.  “I was amazing in battle.  I knocked off at least ten Asuras all by myself.”

“Yes, yes, you’re very amazing.  We’ll give you a cookie later,” Shivani muttered.  When Ryan raised an eyebrow at her, Shivani raised her hands defensively.  “Okay, I admit it.  You’re a much better warrior than I expected you to be.”

“Such glowing praise,” Ryan replied, putting his sword on the ground.  He placed his hand over his heart.  “I’m overwhelmed.  Thank you, sunshine.  You’re not a bad warrior yourself.  For a girl.”

Shivani scowled.  Before she could say anything, Director Fussybottom said, “I have to return to the castle.  The Asuras will be back.”  He and Paw Paw exchanged glances.  “And now that they know about Shivani, they’ll use more force.”

Paw Paw exhaled in frustration.  “We need help.  But who?” His dark eyes surveyed the land before us and suddenly gleamed.  “The Vanaras.”

“Who?”  I asked, glancing at Shivani.  She shrugged.  Neither one of us knew who Paw Paw was talking about.

Aryana’s blue eyes widened in surprise.  She shook her head as her dark brows knit together.  “Surely you jest,” she said.  “They won’t help us.”

Director Fussybottom nodded.  “The girl is right.  They keep to themselves.”

“What are Vanaras?” Shivani asked.

“Forest dwellers.  They aren’t a part of civilization,” Professor Pedantic sniffed.  There was contempt in his voice.  “They prefer to live in the woods like animals.”

“The Vanaras are far more than that,” Paw Paw sighed, shaking his head.  He squared his shoulders and looked right at Aryana.  “Do you want to save your princess?”

“Of course,” Aryana said indignantly.

“Then we’ll need their help,” Paw Paw replied simply.  Aryana opened her mouth to protest, but then remained silent when he held up his hand. “The Devas are no match for the Asuras right now.  We’re outmanned and outnumbered.  If we can convince the Vanaras to fight with us, then we may have a chance.”

“If you can trust them,” Director Fussybottom muttered.

“There is no reason to distrust them,” Professor Serenity said mildly.  “I’ve only met a few, but the ones I knew were honorable.”

Paw Paw smiled slightly.  His eyes met hers.  “Perhaps you should be the one to lead a group to ask for their help.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Director Fussybottom frowned.  He looked at Serenity.  “You should come back to the castle with me.”

Serenity ignored him and nodded at Paw Paw.  “I’ll go, but I’ll need help finding them.”  She looked at the rest of the group.    “Who will come with me?”

“You’ll need at least one Warrior, so I’ll go,” Ryan said, smiling at his mother.

Serenity returned his smile, before raising an eyebrow at the rest of us. “Anyone else?  Shivani?  Charlie?  I could use another Warrior.”

“I’ll go,” Shivani nodded slowly, before shooting a wary glance at Ryan.  “But your son has to stop trying to make me mad.”

Serenity’s face broke out into a smile.  Her mischievous grin startled me.  She looked so much like Ryan.  “If he so much as breathes on you inappropriately, he’ll have to deal with me.”

Both women looked at Ryan.  He held up his right hand and placed it over his heart.  “I promise.  I will be on my best behavior.”

“What about the rest of you?” Serenity asked.

Paw Paw shook his head.  “I need the others to help me.  The Elders will need protection on their journey home.  But after we see them safely to the castle, we’ll catch up to you.  Are you headed for Dandaka Forest?”

Serenity nodded.  “Yes.  That’s the last place they were spotted.  We can start there.”

Day 6 of 30: Write 15 Minutes of Absurdity

“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”  AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!  Why can’t I get that line out of my head today?  I can’t shake this Star Wars vibe…..

Hey!  I’ve got an idea!  Let’s work with it…..  Resistance is futile.  The hero and the ally need a getaway vehicle after being attacked at “Big Bucks” by a demon (Asura).  Here goes:

“We have to get out of here.  More Asuras are coming,” Paw Paw said, as he pulled Serenity to her feet.  She winced in pain as he tightened his arm around her.  “I have to patch Serenity up.  While I’m doing that, go get us a car.”

“From where?”  I asked.

“There’s a car rental place over there,” Paw Paw gestured across the water fountain.  “Go get it and wait for us.

I felt around in my pocket.  It was empty.  I left my wallet back in Big Bucks.  “I don’t have any more money,” I said, turning to Kelli.  “I dropped my wallet.  We have to go get it.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Kelli grabbed my arm.  She nodded towards Paw Paw and Serenity.  “Meet us in the parking lot at the north entrance.  I’ll have a car.”

We split up.  Kelli and I sprinted over to the rental place.  After a few minutes, we were called up to the counter.

“We need a car,” I said breathlessly.

The woman behind the counter adjusted her glasses and looked us over.  She frowned.  “Do you have a reservation?”

“Yes,” Kelli replied.

“No,” I replied at the same time, crestfallen.  What were we going to do if we couldn’t get a car?

I heard Kelli mutter something about dopey do-gooders before shoving me to the side.  “Let me handle this,” Kelli barked at me.  She leaned over the counter and stared at the woman.  “We don’t need a reservation.”

The woman pursed her lips together.  Something in her temple twitched.  Her head twisted towards the computer screen.  “I’m going to need to see some identification.”

Kelli shook her head and waved her hand in front of the woman’s face.  “You don’t need any identification.”

“I don’t need any identification,” the woman said.  Her face was expressionless, but her eyes followed Kelli’s hand.

“You’re going to give us a car,” Kelli said, waving her hand again..

“I’m going to give you a car,” the woman said as her fingers moved over her keyboard.

“Who are you?” I asked out loud, gaping at Kelli.  When she shook her head at me, I dropped my voice.  Something occurred to me.  “We don’t have any money,” I whispered in her ear.

Kelli nodded and waved her hand again.  “You’re going to give us a car for free.”

“I’m going to give you a car for free,” the woman repeated, as she typed on her keyboard.

It was so cool.  We could get any car we wanted and it wouldn’t cost us a thing.  I felt a pang of guilt, but shoved it aside to exclaim, “We need an SUV.”

“What difference does it make?”  Kelli shot me a withering glance.  “This isn’t a road trip.”

I leaned against the counter, mind whirling.  I suddenly smiled at her.  “Well, don’t blame me when the Asuras catch up to us in your slow car.”

Kelli sighed.  “Fine.” She waved her hand in front of the clerk.  “You’re going to give us an SUV for free.”

“I’m going to give you an SUV for free.”

“Something with a lot of horsepower,” I added.  Another thought occurred to me.  “And low-end torque.”

Kelli rolled her eyes.  “Really?”

“I’m telling you,” I insisted, looking into her golden eyes.  Her long, dark lashes distracted me for a moment before I continued.  “Based on what I saw back there, we’re gonna need it.”

Kelli nodded grudgingly.  “Okay,” she said slowly, waving her hand in front of the clerk again.  “You’re going to give us an SUV with a lot of horsepower and low-end torque.”  She glanced at me.  “Was that right?”

“Yep,” I said, grinning at her.  It was nice that she finally saw that I added something to this fight.

“I’m going to give you an SUV with a lot of horsepower and low-end torque,” the clerk repeated, typing furiously into the computer.  She turned her screen towards us and pointed.  “Will this do?”

Kelli and I exchanged glances.  The clerk had pulled up a high-end SUV that may have had a six-figure sticker price.  “Uh, yeah,” I replied, trying to contain my excitement.  I ignored the fleeting thought that something wasn’t right about a rental place carrying this vehicle.  “That’ll do.”

Day 5 of 30: Write 15 Minutes of Absurdity

When I was younger, I learned a song about the twelve days of Christmas.  (Hopefully, I haven’t offended anyone by saying “Christmas.”  I’m drinking coffee from a plain, red mug, so this should negate any mention of the holiday.)  Several decades later, I have embarked on a “30-Days of Snark Challenge.”  Today is Day 5.

The italicized portion is from yesterday.  I’m just using it to get back into the groove of this scene.  This story needs a bad guy (a.k.a. Darth Vader, anyone?), so here goes:

I felt someone behind me.  The throbbing in my temples intensified.  Before I could turn around, my muscles tensed into rigidity.

Kelli’s golden eyes widened.  I couldn’t turn around to see who had driven the contempt from her eyes.  They were filled with fear.

“Hello, Shivani,” a deep voice said.  I felt a chill down my spine.  “I’ve been looking for you for a very long time.”

“I know you,” Kelli whispered.  Her face turned pale.  “You tried to kidnap me when I was twelve.”

Her words made my stomach drop.  I wanted to grab Kelli and get her out of the cafe.  Frustrated, I focused on closing my fingers into a fist to take a swing at the person standing behind me.  Nothing happened.  I tried to lift my feet from the floor, but they were glued to the ground.  My arms remained motionless on each side of me.  I couldn’t even turn my head to see what the guy looked like.  I was just frozen in place, staring at Kelli, like a victim instead of a hero.

“Where are they?” the voice asked.  The air around me shifted as he moved into my range of vision.  I wanted to scream at Kelli to run, but no words left my mouth.

Kelli winced when he wrapped a hand around her long dark hair and yanked it backwards.  When she didn’t fight him, I wondered if she was stuck like I was.  But unlike me, she could still talk.  “Who?” she whispered.  “I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

“Tell me where they are, and I’ll be merciful,” he snarled, leaning over her.  The hood on his black cloak covered most of his face.  He grabbed her throat with one hand and dug into her hair with his other hand.  After a few seconds, she cried out.  Tears streamed down her face.  “Don’t fight me,” he said softly, when she cried out again.  His fingers traced her scalp.  “It hurts more when you resist.”

My heart pounded as Kelli whimpered.  I had to help her, but I still couldn’t move anything.  Not my arms, legs, shoulders or neck.  The stranger was breaking Kelli right in front of me, and nothing about me worked.

Except for my thoughts.  Suddenly, Paw Paw’s face flooded my mind.  Where are you, Paw Paw?  I need your help, I thought.  It felt like an eternity, before I heard someone else behind me.

“Let her go.”  It was Paw Paw.  Astonished, I watched Kelli sink behind the counter and the stranger slam into the wall.  I collapsed onto the floor, writhing in pain.  When I looked up, a woman in a hooded cloak knelt beside me.  She placed her hands on my temples.  Something warm seeped through me.  The pain receded, as I slowly flexed my arms and legs.  I could move again.

The stranger approached the woman from behind.  Before I could warn her, he lifted her up and threw her across the room.  I watched in horror as she landed on the floor in a crumpled heap.

“Get the girl out of here,” Paw Paw yelled at me, as he raced over to the woman.  I scrambled to my feet and rushed behind the counter.  I didn’t know where the stranger was, but Kelli was still lying on the floor.  I gently turned her head and looked at her face.  She was breathing, but unconscious.  I looked around for another way out.  There was a door behind the counter.  I bent over to pick Kelli up.  But before I could gather her in my arms, the stranger stood in front of me, blocking my path.

He took two steps towards me and stared at me.  His gaze narrowed.  “You’re one of them,” he said, tilting his head to study me.  A flash of insight told me that he hadn’t expected me.  My mind whirled, wondering how I could use this information.  But as I watched him, his eyes changed color.  They were molten gold, like Kelli’s.  I couldn’t look away.  He wrapped his fingers around my neck and whispered, “Maybe I was wrong about the girl.”  His eyes flashed, as his lips curved.  “Maybe you’re the one my master wants.”

My legs flailed as he lifted me off the ground.  Gasping, I tried to wrench myself free from his grasp.  His grip tightened.  I felt something burrowing through my chin.  It traveled along my jawline, up to my temples.  I wanted to cry out as the pain ripped through me.

“Where are your parents, boy?” the stranger’s deep voice was all I heard before blacking out.


Day 3 of 30: Write 15 Minutes of Absurdity

Okay, it’s Day 3 and I’m still feeling this Star Wars vibe.  I know that I’m leaving some gaps in the story, but I’ll go back and fill them in later.  The “heralds” need to bring a message to the “Obi-Wan” in my story.  So, here goes:

A man wearing a hooded cloak exited the cave.  He swung a bag off from his shoulder and placed it on the ground.  I could see him pulling something out of the bag and putting it down on a rock in front of him.  “Look,” I pointed.  “That must be him.  The Great Ghost Warrior.”  I sprinted up the hill towards him.  I could hear the others in our group follow me.

“Excuse me, sir,” I called out, as I maneuvered around the rocky terrain.  I could feel the sand slide under my boots, so I kept an eye on the ground in front of me.  “Are you the Great Ghost Warrior?”

The man in the hooded cloak stopped what he was doing to stare at me.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out something.  It was a sword.

“Charlie,” Shivani shrieked behind me, as the man lifted his sword.  “Get down.”

I felt her shove me from behind.  I landed behind a rock, just as the man brought down his sword.  A few moments passed before I heard it.  Laughter.  The man in the cloak was laughing hysterically.

Shivani marched up to him and snarled.  “What’s so funny?”

“You guys,” the man said, laughing.  “You’re all like, oh, my God, duck.  Here comes a dude with a sword.”  He collapsed on the ground, convulsing in mirth.  “And I was just cutting my sandwich.”

I sat up and looked at the rock.  Sure enough, there was a whole sandwich resting on a napkin.  I stood up and dusted the dirt from my pants.

Shivani stood over the man, arms on her hip.  I recognized the flash in her gold eyes.  She was about to punch him.  Since we needed his help, I scrambled between them.  “I’m okay, Shivani,” I said, before turning to extend my hand to the laughing guy.  “Hi, I’m Charlie Weaver.  You must be the Great Ghost Warrior.”

“I am?” The man stood up and looked around.  I felt a pang when I realized that he was as tall as I was.  My gaze narrowed.  He looked like someone who could be a hero.  Like me. “Okay.”

Aryana stepped forward, visibly trembling with excitement.  Her cheeks were flushed a pretty pink.  “I’ve been looking for you for a long time.”

The man’s eyes widened.  He smiled and pulled back the hood on his cloak.  I blinked.  The Great Ghost Warrior was a lot younger than I was expecting.  Like not much older than I was.  “You have?  Well, sweetheart, here I am.”  He took her small hand in his and touched his lips to it.  She flushed a deeper red.  “How can I help you?”  His gaze lingered on her face.

Shivani snorted and stepped between Aryana and the man, breaking their grip.  “Oh, please.  This isn’t the Great Ghost Warrior.”

“No, it is not,” Professor Serenity said.  I glanced behind me.  The rest of the Elders had caught up with us.  Professor Serenity raised an eyebrow.  “Hello, Ryan.”

The young man grinned at her.  With perfect white teeth.  I should have allowed Shivani to punch him.  “Hi, Mom.”

“Mom?” Shivani sputtered.  All of us stared at the two of them in shock.  The resemblance between them was more apparent when they stood next to each other.  Despite his dark blond hair, Ryan’s face was very similar in to Professor Serenity’s.  They shared the same green eyes.

“You have a son?” I asked, feeling slightly injured.  I understood Shivani’s outrage.  Ever since I arrived in Bharat, Professor Serenity had been like a parent to me.  But it was all an act.  She already had a son.  This guy who was eyeing Aryana like she was a piece of meat.  My irritation grew when I saw Aryana smile back at him.

“Yes.  This is Ryan,” Serenity nodded.  “Ryan, this is Charlie Weaver.”

When I extended my hand again, Ryan slapped it.  I pulled it back, unsure of what to make of him.  “Hey, Charlie, nice to meet you,” he said easily.

Professor Serenity, who was the most cordial person I’ve ever met in my life, actually rolled her eyes.  I felt a tinge of satisfaction.  “You’ll have to excuse Ryan.  He’s spent a lot of time in your realm.”  She gestured towards Shivani.  “And this is….”

“Oh, you don’t have to tell me who this is, Mom,” Ryan said, winking at Shivani.  “I know all about the Warrior girl.  What’s up, fist fighter?”  He smirked at her.  “Has it been a punch-free day?  Is that what’s making you cranky?  No chance to work out all of that aggression.”

Ryan grinned, when Shivani scowled at him.  He walked around her, looking her up and down.  “You know, you’d be hot if you’d smile once in awhile.”  He pointed to her all-black attire.  “And maybe wear something pretty for a change.  With color.”

“That’s it,” Shivani took at step towards him, raising a fist.  I wrapped my arms around her waist and held her back.

Director Fussybottom frowned at Shivani, before turning his attention to Ryan.  His face actually lit up.  “Ryan, my boy, it’s good to see you.”

Ryan’s entire expression changed.  His smile was sincere.  “Robert, it’s good to see you too.”  The two of them actually embraced.

“I should have known,” Shivani muttered.

There was genuine concern on Ryan’s face when he asked, “What brings you to my territory?”

“We’re looking for,” Director Fussybottom hesitated.  He glanced at Professor Serenity.  “Your father.”

Day 2 of 30: Write 15 Minutes of Absurdity

Day 2 of 30.  I’m having fun with this absurdity theme.  It’s very freeing as a writer when you allow yourself to be as ridiculous as possible.  If someone doesn’t like what you wrote, who cares?  It’s supposed to be stupid!  I’m feeling a “Star Wars” vibe today, so I think this story needs a “Rebel Alliance.”  Here goes:

I’ve never met a dwarf before, but I had no idea that one could be so pretty.  The female dwarf had dark brown hair and big blue eyes.  She was about a head taller than everyone else.  I guess she was their leader, because she was the first one to speak.  “My name is Aryana.  We are looking for a Yogi Master called the Great Ghost Warrior,” the dwarf said.

“The Great Ghost Warrior?” Shivani repeated, raising her dark eyebrows.  “Who comes up with these names?”

“This is serious,” I said, frowning at Shivani.  I turned to the Elders at the Council table.  “Do any of you know someone called the Great Ghost Warrior?”

“I haven’t heard that name in a long time,” Professor Serenity glanced at Director Fussybottom and hesitated before speaking again.  “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“Every Warrior in Bharat has been trained at this school,” Director Fussybottom nodded.  “I don’t know who else it could be.”

“So you do know of the Great Ghost Warrior?” the dwarf’s blue eyes lit up.  She smiled, revealing small, even white teeth.

“You’re kind of tall for a dwarf,” I said.  The words came out of my mouth before I could stop them.  “But still small enough for me to pick up pretty easily.”

The Elders stared at me in shock.  I flushed when Shivani gasped.  “Charlie!”

The dwarf turned towards me and scowled.  The next thing I knew, she took two steps in my direction and kicked me in the shins.

“Son of a,” I muttered, bending over to rub my shins.  For a little person, the dwarf could kick really hard.

“I’m not a dwarf, you big imbecile.”  She stomped back to the rest of her group, who started snickering.  “And I don’t need anyone to pick me up.”

Shivani doubled over with laughter.  She picked up a napkin from the side table and dabbed at the tears streaming down her face.  “I don’t know who you are, but I already love you.”

The dwarf looked surprised, but she gave Shivani a small smile before speaking again.  “May I speak with your leader?  This is a matter of much urgency.”  She tilted her head in my direction.  “Please tell me that he isn’t your leader.”

Shivaji choked on her drink.  She slammed her water bottle back on the table, gasping.  “Oh, God, no.  Charlie is definitely NOT our leader.”  She frowned.  “Although your other option isn’t much better.”

“Shivani,” I gasped, glancing at the Elders Council.  She was talking about Director Fussybottom while he was in the room with us.

Shivani shrugged.

“Okay, that’s enough you two,” Professor Serenity said sternly.  Shivani and I immediately walked back to the table and took our seats before she continued.  “This is serious.”  She stood up  and pulled out a chair from the table.  “Please have a seat and refresh yourselves.”  She waved to the empty chairs in the room.  “Who are you?”

Aryana turned to her group and nodded.  Once they sat down at the table, members of Miss Prissy’s staff brought each guest a bottle of water.  They placed plates of bread, cheese and fruits on the table.  The dwarves dove into the food as if they hadn’t eaten anything for days.  Aryana took a few sips of water before she spoke.

“We’re RAD,” Aryana said.

“RAD?” I repeated, confused.  I swear that I heard Shivani choke on her water again, but when Professor Serenity looked at her, Shivani remained silent.

“We are the Rebel Alliance of Dwarves,” Aryana explained.  “Our mission is to defend the kingdom of Dwarves.”

“Well, that makes sense,” Miss Prissy nodded and helped herself to a plate of cheese and bread.

Shivani frowned.  “No, it doesn’t.  Why are you rebels?  Who are you defending your kingdom from?”

“Yeah,” I said, still thinking about the kick in the shins.  “And you’re not even a dwarf.  Why are you a member?”

Aryana scowled at me.  “The dwarves are my allies.  The people of my kingdom have sworn to protect them.”

“Protect them from who?” Shivani asked.  She actually looked serious.

“The Evil Emperor.”  All of us turned to stare.  The dwarf sitting next to Aryana actually stopped eating long enough to whisper.  His eyes were wide with fear.

Aryana wrapped an arm around his shoulder and continued to speak. “This is why it is urgent that we find the Great Ghost Warrior.”  Aryana looked around the room.  “Is he here?”

“There was a warrior,” Professor Serenity started slowly.

Miss Prissy nodded.  “Oh, I remember him.  He used to live in a cave.”

“But he isn’t here anymore,” Director Fussybottom interjected.  He frowned at Aryana.  “Why don’t you tell us what you want from him?  We can help you.”

“No, you can’t.” Aryana shook her head.  “He’s the only one who can help us.  We’ve been traveling for weeks, searching for the Great Ghost Warrior.  I have an important message for him.”

“Well, what is it?” Director Fussybottom said, leaning forward.  He extended one hand out towards Aryana.  “Let’s see.”

Aryana frowned at him.  “No.  This message is for his eyes only.”

My Thoughts on Writing From The Gut

A few months ago, I downloaded a sample of the book Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.  It’s a story about a young teenage girl who is raped and murdered.  What makes the book especially compelling is that the story is told from the perspective of the young girl as she witnesses her family’s response to her tragic death from heaven.  Several of my friends have raved about it and it’s a NY Times bestseller.  Although the premise is incredibly distasteful to me, I finally read the sample last week.

The first chapter was so horrifying that at first, I couldn’t understand why it was a best seller.  It took me about a week to calm down after reading it.  This definitely isn’t my type of story, but I can appreciate what a good writer Alice Sebold is.  Her writing evoked such a strong emotional response that it made me sick to my stomach.

So it made me think about how I’ve been approaching my own writing.  I’ve been focused on writing from the heart.  What about writing from the gut?

What’s the difference?  That’s a fair question.  For some people, maybe there’s no difference.  For me, my romance and “feel good” stories are from the heart.  Stories from the gut put the reader through an emotional wringer.  They are far more visceral than stories from the heart because they tap into more primitive instincts.  I think that first chapter from Lovely Bones was a good example of writing from the gut.  When that girl is attacked and killed in the first chapter, all I felt was primal rage.  I wanted to hurt the guy who would hurt a young girl.  I trust that anyone with a spark of humanity would feel the same way.

So, I wanted to see if I could write a scene that evoked a similar visceral response from a reader.  I have a general idea for a story and a character named Shivani Roy.  We’re still getting acquainted with each other.  In fact, I’m not even sure how old she is yet, but for the sake of this exercise, let’s assume that she’s fourteen years old.  In this writing exercise, I threw her into a “visceral” situation to see how she’d handle herself.

My “visceral” situation was inspired by a recent news story.  Have any of you read about the Jared Fogle situation?  You know, the Subway dude and his illicit activities with underage girls?  After spending a few weeks screaming obscenities each time I drove by a Subway, I finally decided to channel my rage into a more productive activity.  I wrote out a scene between a guy like him and my kick-ass protagonist, Shivani Roy.  Here it is:  Shivani Roy and the Demon King of Lanka.

TO MY READERS:  If you took the time to read the story, thank you.  I’d love to get your feedback.  Did this story make you mad?  I hope it inspires you to channel some of your outrage into your own stories from the gut.  If so, please share them with me!  I’d love to read them.