Monday, October 30, 2017

Fear of Darkness: Chained to a wall, a nameless prisoner is helpless to avoid a shapeless terror floating towards him...

Fear of Darkness

by Brian G. Walsh

The rain washed down his face like blood. It soothed his open wounds for a moment, but then the stinging pain returned. The prisoner could hear faint footsteps, approaching his cell in no apparent haste. There was soft, mocking laughter, like the twittering of a solitary bird of prey that knows its victim is helpless.

Through his closed eyes he could see the dark shapes beginning to form all around him. He forced his leaden eyelids upward, craning his head to assist the effort. Sleep was impossible. He would not give in to exhaustion. There was no guarantee that he would ever wake up. Still he could not help himself.

His head slumped backward and his tortured body went limp, held up only by the spikes that had been driven through his palms to pin him to the stone wall of the cell. His eyes slowly closed and stuck together fast. He felt his unwashed hair stand on end, the cold air circulating around him was charged with electricity.

At the distant end of the corridor, a ponderous groan announced the swinging open of the cell block gate. The laughing was softer now, almost suppressed, but still there. The prisoner's heavy eyelids opened a crack as he tried to focus in the ethereal darkness.

A large black silhouette – blacker than black – bobbed back and forth down the long, narrow corridor which led to his cell. It seemed to be walking on the ceiling. The prisoner blinked his eyes to clear them, but the image did not change.

The squeal of rats scampering shook him with foreboding. He felt them scurry over the numb, bloody stumps that had once served as his feet. Across from him, a large black and white vulture eyed him with an impatient leer. Perched on the bars of his cell, it seemed eager to pounce. As he watched, it opened its beak and spat small bones from its mouth.

The shape in the hallway froze in place, trying not to move. It was some kind of twisted game. So far his jailer had not confronted him directly, but always stalked him as sleep threatened to claim him. If it was afraid of him, he could not figure out why. It was familiar to him in some distant way, but he could not remember what it was or why it sought to punish him.

He flexed his wrists as he attempted to free himself from his bonds, but his own blood had made them slippery. The vulture cackled at his impotence, spitting contempt as it met his gaze with icy determination. His nose wrinkled as a foul odor passed his way. As he focused his attention, his eyes again rose to meet the silhouette walking on the ceiling. Two yellow, vertically-slit eyes peered down at him eagerly.

“It's judgment day.”

The silky collection of voices sizzled like a pat of butter sliding onto a hot frying pan. The prisoner shook with cold sweat as the vulture leaped from its perch and swooped towards his feet. The prisoner gasped and recoiled as the bird collected a large rat in its cavernous beak before dropping from sight. He struggled mightily to keep his eyes from closing again, shaking his head violently from side to side to avoid the descent into slumbering darkness. He strained to make his toes touch the ground, but there was no ground to reach.

Below him, hanging in space and turning slowly, the Earth teased full of blue promise. The sun was just beginning to rise over the North American continent. The planet looked so small, but infinitely within his reach. If only he could escape this nightmare and get back down there.

He looked down at what was left of his feet, which felt strange. There was something grotesquely fascinating about them. They were huge and distorted, swollen from this ordeal. The rats had been at them once more. He would never walk again. His whole body was racked with pain.

He could feel his skin peeling where he had been burned with something, but he did not remember any fire. He shivered. It was cold. So cold he could see the life force steaming from where the nose and mouth of his approaching tormentor ought to be – but wasn't!

He did not recall his own name. Who he was, what he had been and done, all that was lost to him. The voices called him names, some too profane to repeat, but he paid them no heed. He was alone in this cellblock or whatever it was. He did not know where the voices came from, only that they gathered on occasion to curse and condemn him. To bear false witness against him!

A twisted, jagged metal ring bit into the flesh around his head. He sensed no bleeding. Evidently it had been placed there long ago for the area was insensate, but the object felt so heavy. He remembered now. It was no metal ring, but a crown. They were mocking him!

Dried blood flaked off his forehead. He could feel something entangled in his hair. Something warm and wet – and moving!

He choked back his terror. He had never shown fear in his life, that he knew instinctively. What heinous crime was he judged guilty of that someone would torture him in this cruel and unusual method? And just who was his jailer?

A sudden flash jolted him, triggering a flood of dark and terrible memories. Memories that gently sketched a malicious grin across his scarred face. His thoughts pierced the air as if he had spoken them aloud. Now the silhouette began to hum softly. A kind of song danced in the prisoner's head, a hideous ballad from what the prisoner could picture as thin, putrid lips pursed mockingly to make perverse music. The whistling was lyrical, but threatening. He was at this thing's mercy.

The silhouette's yellow eyes bulged as it inhaled deeply the scent of its helpless prey. The succulent smell of stark terror hung heavy in the stale air of the cell. Genuine fear.

Fear of darkness!

The prisoner slumped again, his head resounding with a loud crack against the wall, further embedding the uneven metal edge of the crown into the back of his head. A black bat leapt from his hair with a hiss.

He could feel the pull of gravity drawing him headfirst towards what would be the ceiling if this place had one. There was no way to prevent what was coming. His entire body tensed as he watched the dark shape creep closer, trying not to make a sound. He now realized it was not walking on the ceiling, after all. The prisoner was hanging upside down, watching sunrise over the earth above, not beneath him. The world was not at his feet in any sense.

Like a snake slithering over grass, the shape silently drifted closer. The prisoner knew now that there was no rain falling except that which came from his own eyes. In shame he cast his gaze downward. Large dead insects lay scattered at his feet, thickly encrusted with grime, floating.

All the rats now lay on their back, feet turned up. The vulture was spinning into the vacuum below, the rat still in its clenched beak. Everything within his reach was dead. Everything except him and the thing that was even now edging closer to consume him. Beyond the decaying bugs the brilliant blue Earth smiled at him. Just out of reach.

Fear gripped him as never before. It was something he remembered seeing, indeed enjoyed watching, but had never experienced firsthand. He remembered wondering what it must be like, how deliciously rich and saucy it must taste. Now he could only laugh. It was all he had expected, all he had hoped it would be, and now it was being visited upon him.

His laughter rose from the pit of his empty stomach to thunderous pitch and reverberated throughout the cell block, echoes crashing back at him with deafening madness. The shape cringed, as if not sure what to do next.

He swallowed hard and for the first time, appealed directly to the entity that coveted him.

“No! No! Not me! Not this!”

His shouts roller-coasted over the head of the black shape and skipped down the endless black corridor where something digested his words with an audible, anxious belch and groan. The shape remained still while he fought to wrest himself from his chains with increased desperation.

He stopped struggling and went limp like a rag doll. His entire body swayed loosely for a moment. The two oblong, yellow eyes contracted as the prisoner's body hung still.

Surrender!

The soft laughter returned and the silhouette bobbed towards his cell, expanding as it did. It sprang to the jail cell bars like a carnivorous predator eager to loose its primal savagery. It sifted through the cell like fog and rolled towards the prisoner, who quickly opened his eyes and stared his jailer in the face.

Eye-to-eye stood the architect of everlasting damnation and his finest creation: Hell.

“It's your turn now...father.”

The velvety collective voice oozed like thick syrup dripping onto pancakes now. The prisoner cracked a wide smile, causing his blistered and swollen lips to peel and burst open. He licked his lips, for the first time ever tasting his own blood. He opened his mouth wide and drew in his breath with a monumental inhalation.

The entire cell turned over like a rolling ball suddenly coming to rest. The prisoner began to expand, his body filling the entire cell. His antagonist fought desperately to maintain its perilous footing, trying to envelop the prisoner in its black, foggy shroud.

The silhouette lifted off the ground and fluttered, battling to retain its shape. The cell door crumbled under the intense pressure and was carried into the prisoner's expanding jaw. The outer corridor rolled up like a carpet and clawed down his throat, shredding his gums and spilling large quantities of the prisoner's blood, which he inadvertently swallowed.

The taste of his own blood held no fascination for him, but the taste of his tears was something else entirely. He trembled uncontrollably as his wet, shining face became distorted. He knew this was the beginning of the long, cold interval. He had always fed the darkness, eager to satisfy its insatiable hunger for all things physical. He had delivered countless others to the eternal pit if only to delay his own inevitable appointment with a revelation he mocked, even despised.

The silhouette, the floating vessel of tormented souls, was sucked hard against his face. It dug into his eyes with sharp, invisible talons, blinding him forever, as it fought for life. It clawed his smooth, tear-streaked face as it began to enter his nostrils to anesthetize the prisoner for his timeless journey into exile.

The uncounted billions of unworthy souls buried somewhere deep inside the silhouette loosed a collective scream that burst the prisoner's eardrums. He gagged as the cat-like yellow eyes shriveled and the willowy, distended black shape cascaded down his throat, lodging itself in the pit of his stomach.

He wanted to vomit, but couldn't. He wretched in nausea. The sickness he'd ingested was unbearable, overwhelming. He now bore the bile of the mortal sin of uncounted generations of damned souls, but did not have the luxury of death to release him. All he could count on was sleep. A cold ethereal night that might last eons. That was worse than death!

His bleeding, blind eyes itched madly, but his restrained hands could not reach them. He could feel the warm glow of the sun reflecting off the Earth above him. He began to sob shamelessly. He had never cried before in his life, had never felt so lonely and afraid. He could not stand being afraid!

Finally he raised his head high in supplication and began to pray, something he had not done in many thousands of years. A thunderclap broke the prisoner free of his chains, causing him to fall face-first into the drifting soil and dust that floated now at his feet, fixed there somehow where there was no floor to support them.

A bright flash was the last thing he sensed through unseeing eyes as a soft touch gently rocked him to sleep. As he succumbed to the nightmare unconscious of a million generations of souls forever blackened by his own machination, he whispered a final promise through a cloud of relentless tears.

He slowly rolled over on his bent but mighty wings, vowing to return for another chance at glory. Another chance at the throne he had long coveted.

God's throne.

“He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:2)

From the Kindle book anthology "No Place For Mercy: An Eclectic Anthology" by Brian G. Walsh

“Fear of Darkness”

© 2014 by Brian G. Walsh

All Rights Reserved

https://www.amazon.com/No-Place-Mercy-Eclectic-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00MT4CEZY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1509372675&sr=1-1&keywords=no+place+for+mercy

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Outlining a novel

I have always written more or less "by the seat of my pants." This method allows for inspiration and immediate gratification, but lacks planning and foresight and can lead to an awful lot of rewriting that could have been avoided. Most published authors extoll the virtues of outlining, and I add my voice to the chorus proclaiming it to be the best method for ensuring that your novel or other writing project will end up closer to the way you envisioned it than if you did not employ an outline.

Outlining can be an enjoyable process, but it can also become all-consuming. However, as the outline process progressed, I noticed that the outline was becoming more and more detailed. So detailed, in fact, that dialogue and scenes were beginning to clog the outline and make it unwieldy. It became difficult to use as the broad overview it was envisioned to be. That is when I decided to begin writing the novel as I continued the outline.

I am currently snug and ensconced in my tree, writing my new novel while still assembling a detailed outline. This is not advisable, but so far it's working for me. I would prefer to completely finish my outline before beginning the actual writing process, but I was eager to begin and sentences, descriptions, and dialogue were tumbling around in my head. I felt the best way to proceed was to begin the writing, even though I know I will have to change some things. Since I know how this story will end (unless it changes, as endings often do), I have no problem with writing while outlining. Time will tell if this method works.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November is National Novel Writing Month

I'm still working on the outline as I write the opening chapter of my novel. National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it's commonly abbreviated, is the ultimate push for those who procrastinate writing the novel they know they must write.

I'm switching between writing and outlining right now. When I get the outline finishes, I'll have to fine-tune it before I accept it as complete. Then the actual writing will pick up. I expect to reach the 50,000 word goal by November 30, if not a few days sooner.

When I look at a chapter outline, it's clear what needs to be written, so it is far better for me to use an outline than not. I'm chomping at the bit to get the outline done.

Right now I'm writing in OpenOffice's word processing text program, but am considering using writing software. The current options I'm considering are “The Novel Factory,” which is still in beta testing but sounds like a very exciting, dynamic program, or the well-known and respected “Scrivener.” I will try to decide over the next two days between these programs.

I really wanted to use the Novel Factory software, but I won't be allowed to blog about the experience while I write, which I would very much like to do. I intend to use the blog to record my goal for the day or the next day to help keep me on course. With Scrivener, no such prohibition is in force, which increases the likelihood that I will use Scrivener for this novel.

Well, back to the novel outline now. There are characters waiting to find out if they will live or die, and a writer waiting to find out, too.

To “Win” this challenge, you must write 50,000 words of your novel and have it validated. There are some nice sponsor offerings that are available to winners only. To see the list of offerings, go to:

http://nanowrimo.org/sponsor-offers

Monday, October 19, 2015

Jack the Ripper's Knife & other tales fit and unfit for Halloween

There have been many theories regarding the true identity of the infamous serial killer known as "Jack the Ripper," but the relative of a renowned surgeon who has come forth claiming that his ancestor was the serial killer of Whitechapel claims to have found the very tool of Jack's trade: his knife.

Jack the Ripper's knife is also the star of "Bloody Olde Knife," one of the twelve short stories in my anthology, "No Place For Mercy," which is available on Amazon.com

In "Bloody Olde Knife," a petty thief digs up the knife in an unexpected place: the old Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit that is home to some of the Motor City's most famous figures. Alongside Civil War veterans lies the earthly remains of Solomon Sibley, Detroit's first mayor, and Coleman Young, perhaps its most controversial.

At first considering the knife only for its value in a blackmail scheme, this small-time criminal slowly learns that the knife is taking control of him. Jack the Ripper's knife is more than just an inanimate object, it is the repository of an elemental force that lusts for blood.

Some investigators have theorized that Jack the Ripper was an American who was visiting London at the time of the murders, but though convincing arguments have been put forth, there is still no "smoking gun" or rather, "bloody olde knife" that has been proven to be the implement of Jack's dirty work.

One of the more recent suspects to enter the picture is Welsh surgeon Sir John Williams, whose great-great-great-great nephew has published a book which features the startling image of the knife, to expose his relative's guilt. The knife allegedly used by Jack the Ripper is displayed in this post on The Telegraph's website. The Telegraph is a UK news site.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8866083/Jack-the-Ripper-Is-this-six-inch-knife-used-by-Victorian-serial-killer.html

It's doubtful we'll ever know for certain the true identity of Jack the Ripper, but the story of this murderer has fascinated generations of investigators and researchers, and continues to haunt us to this day.

As mentioned in this press release published on a CBS news affiliate, "No Place For Mercy" is a short story anthology of character-driven tales of murder, revenge, and irony which makes a great gift for Halloween

http://www.newschannel10.com/story/30247471/dark-fantasy-thriller-anthology-book-for-halloween-2015-published-on-amazon

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

No Place For Mercy press release on NBC, CBS & ABC affiliates!

Great news! – A press release talking about my anthology has just been picked up and published on affiliates of NBC, CBS & ABC:

NBC:

http://www.nbc12.com/story/30247471/dark-fantasy-thriller-anthology-book-for-halloween-2015-published-on-amazon

CBS:

http://www.cbs8.com/story/30247471/dark-fantasy-thriller-anthology-book-for-halloween-2015-published-on-amazon

ABC:

http://www.abcnews4.com/story/30247471/dark-fantasy-thriller-anthology-book-for-halloween-2015-published-on-amazon

The book is available at

http://www.amazon.com/No-Place-Mercy-Eclectic-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00MT4CEZY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

12 intense stories with dynamic characters placed in impossible situations that reveal the true nature of human beings – and non-human beings. Stories that will alternately frighten and surprise you, shock and disturb you and even bring a tear to your eye.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Protagonist vs. Antagonist & The Final Showdown!

A basic tenet of screenwriting is that the protagonist must face down the antagonist near the end of your screenplay.

Though this seems obvious, your script should not make it obvious that your protagonist is going to catch up to the antagonist to “sort him/her out.” The antagonist should be seen as a powerful opposing force to your protagonist's plans. The antagonist should also be perhaps just a little more powerful or have better resources at his/her disposal, making the protagonist's job that much more difficult. We can see that the odds are stacked against the hero, and we're wondering how he/she will overcome them. Whatever seems the most obvious way to overcome them should be tried, but the protagonist should fail here. This sets up the moment when he/she believes all is lost and there is no way to defeat the antagonist.

The showdown that comes must evolve naturally from the story, and should not feel contrived. When you have decided how you want your story to end, you can place clues and foreshadowing earlier in the script in order to make the final showdown scene a natural evolution of the story. No “deus ex machina” that drops in to explain and save the day is permissible. The resolution of the conflict must come as a result of the protagonist's own actions.

The approach is fairly straightforward. When the protagonist realizes what must be done in order to defeat the antagonist, a realization that often includes the likelihood of his/her own death, the protagonist knocks off the antagonist's henchmen, one-by-one, from the weakest to the strongest until there is only the antagonist remaining. The understanding that his/her life is on the line is able to free the protagonist to do what must be done. He/she is no longer holding back in fear of death, he/she is pushing forward contemptuous of death.

It's a time-honored approach, and when executed properly feels organic and inevitable, which is exactly what you should be striving for.

Brian G. Walsh teaches screenwriting and provides script coverage for You Go Far Productions, Ltd., a film production company located in London, England. Brian is a two-time Screenwriting Fellowship Finalist, and his supernatural-thriller was a Finalist in the 2014 Creative Worlds Awards international screenplay competition. Brian has been a judge for three international screenwriting competitions, and is the author "No Place For Mercy," a short story Kindle book anthology available on Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/No-Place-Mercy-Eclectic-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00MT4CEZY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

One small step for Jackson screenwriters...

Yesterday's class was small but I got to meet some really good people. We're working on starting our own Jackson, Michigan Screenwriting Group so we can “workshop” each other's scripts to help them improve. I really enjoyed meeting these great people and hope to build this into a thriving community of screenwriters.

The blueprint I'm teaching will help put you ahead of 90% of the crowd of people who send screenplays to producers because you will learn the current industry standard and pro tips and tricks to help make your script stand out from the crowd.

The same Professional-Level Screenwriting Class will be held again on Tuesday, April 21, from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM in the Community Room at the Meijer Branch of the Jackson District Library. The Meijer Branch is located at 2699 Airport Road, Jackson, MI 49202. Phone (517) 788-4480.