The Hummingbird

The Hummingbird

Don’t let the time pass

This bird is too fast

Don’t diddle, don’t daddle, don’t blink

For you must be sleek

To steal a quick peak

At this creature who leaves in a wink

It hovers and sings

And does different things

As it stimmers and stammers and stirred

But make sure you look

I think you mistook

This life for a sly Hummingbird

Life Flitters By

But Mom! 

Says the little girl, pouting about 

To the woman, 

Who feels left than thirteen

‘Twas Tom!

The girl cries, as she wrestles and shouts

Pulling hair 

As she’s acting so mean

Have I grown?

Asks the mother, all riddled and scared

To herself,

For yesterday seems

Like she was 

Just the poor little girl in this poem 

Who’s pulling 

Her hair while she screams. 

On the Eve: 10

Queen Jocasta – Sovereign Ruler of the West

Lies.

They plague our souls, causing us to act in ways of which we never believed ourselves capable. Yet we often cling to these falsities; desiring the reality we’ve fabricated over the painful truth that is life. Ignorance is bliss, they say. Perhaps there is some validity to the sentiment. But willful ignorance? There is no greater atrocity.

I have been deceived. All these years, lied to. Ulric, who, as Jordain’s Hand, was only charged with protecting the crown, came to me years ago with that crushing dispatch. News that the love of my life had been unfaithful, and intended to replace me as Queen with the Vice-Regent, Elaine. I believed him.

Last night I was greeted by an emissary who represented my former husband and King. Ulric’s journal, cataloguing his sadistic, manipulative thoughts, was presented to me. I was told Jordain has spent all these years tirelessly searching for anything to clear his name and prove his loyalty to me. After all this time, his efforts finally produced this journal. This, evil, disgusting journal that revealed everything he did was a lie.

Jordain’s actions, in light of this, have illustrated precisely the man I so fiercely loved. The sting of the irony is a dagger in my heart. He never shed his honor. He agreed to let me govern the Western lands. He conceded to my terms those many years ago, rather than waging a war that would cost the lives of thousands. And he did so knowing that my revolt was grounded in deceit. Despite his attempts to convince me otherwise, I refused to believe him. I believed Ulric’s fabricated tale of my husband’s infidelity. The enormity of my regret regarding this is inexplicable.

Tomorrow, we shall ride and face Jordain once again. My armies are not aware of the information this emissary has revealed. Tomorrow, all shall be unveiled.

On the eve of what will become a day fabled for ages, my mind is at ease.

There is no provider of solace equal to that of the unabridged truth.

On the Eve: 9

Hadrian Merlfang – Lord of the North

I told him it would end this way, the fool.

How many years now? Things never end as we intend. No, not ever. Our fresh, inexperienced selves, energized with the fervor of youth, see nothing but the ideal and the desired. Then, as it always is, the bitch that is reality bears its teeth; sinking its fangs into our ignorant dreams of yesteryear.

What is worse – knowing that Jocasta is on a false errand, yet I still participate as if I am none the wiser, or the fact that Jordain might actually come out on top after all this? I cannot say. I’ve grown tired of these earthly quarrels. My only role left to fill at this old, rotting age is to write the ending to a story that has far too long been authored. The time has come to usher our tired souls into the unknown darkness that lies beyond our meaningless comprehension.

I told him it would end this way, the fool.

On the Eve: 8

Antony – Commander of Queen Jocasta’s Army

I am conflicted.

Queen Jocasta has recalled our armies to Clarmont. All of them. Each and every weary, exhausted regiment is to report to this tiny speck of a village in an attempt to regroup and finish what we began. My conflict stems not from my duty to my Queen, but from my fading confidence in victory. I fear our armies are not yet strong enough to launch another assault on King Jordain and the Eastern Lands. Lest the Gods invoke a miracle, I cannot foresee this ending in triumph for my Queen.

Hadrian’s reinforcements from the North shall prove invaluable, to be certain. His armored mares are legendary; their riders even more so. It is my sincere hope that Jocasta utilizes this rare advantage most efficiently. I cannot imagine that Jordain could expect Hadrian to have lent such a force to an army opposing the East, much less that of Jocasta’s. I was under the impress that years ago, the three were quite close to each other. But alas, I shan’t divulge rumors or delve in gossip. The politics behind this campaign are beyond me. My only purpose is to serve my Queen, and to that end I shall uphold my duties with utmost honor.

She is this land’s Radiant Beacon of Benevolence, and to the end of this Earth we shall follow.

On the Eve: 7

Lady Elaine, former Vice-Regent to King Jordain

Jordain,

I sincerely hope that my letter finds you well. I was just informed that the Queen attempted to overtake your lands. What is going on? I must be informed, as I fear transgression of my own stead if my suspicions prove correct.

The agreement we came to those many years ago left no party wanting. What event could possibly have transpired that could compel Jocasta to violate such a generous contract? I suppose she got what she deserved, if what I heard of the battle is to be true.

I cannot help but think that this is about finally putting you down for what she thinks we did. Our lives needn’t have gone this way, were it not for that awful, sniveling, pathetic excuse that you called Hand. I only hope my scouts’ reports held back the true details. Ulric deserved a slow, agonizing death.

Please respond with haste, my King. I must know if I need to increase fortifications.

Ever loyal,

Elaine

Put Ulric’s head on a spike, until every last piece of him turns to rot.

The Revolt Returns: 9

“Hey guys! Has anyone seen my jar of annoying whispering wisps?”

Approaching the Lenghornian village’s central meeting area, Dustin the Determined asks his co-workers where his pets might be.

“Oh yeah, we actually threw them out.” Chris the Comical tells him. “They all died. Did you not feed them?”

His quizzical stare slowly fading into a devious smirk, Dustin chuckles under his breath.

“Wait. Those things eat? I thought they were like…spirits or something. Well maybe not spirits. But ghosts. Or demons. Or something like that. Ya know? Like sometimes I wondered if they were even real cause sometimes I think I see things that aren’t there and then I’m like”

“DUSTIN!” The servers collectively shout, ending the rant and refocusing his attention.

“Forget them dude. They’ve joined our fallen comrades in peaceful slumber beyond the veil,” Chris assures him.

“Huh. Imagine that.” Dustin dismissively says, shrugging his shoulders. “Sucks to be them! Stupid wisps.”

“Right.” Chris says with a subtle laugh, putting his arm around Dustin’s shoulder to usher him into the meeting that was already taking place. “Johnny, please continue,” he says, looking toward the slightly introverted, usually soft spoken Giver of Speeches.

“Anyway,” Johnny the Jovial shouts to the villagers, “here is the plan. Our Barfly Gnat scouts have caught wind of Spam’s battle plans. We must break this wind! Let me tell you, faithful companions, these are sinister plans indeed. For Spam intends to secretly use her brainless Chilian soldier-slaves to mount a massive assault on this very village. But this shall be merely be a diversion for her true intention: sending her disgusting, uncontrollably hairy minion Will the Wolf to assassinate our village leadership!”

“GASP!!”

Collectively inhaling with such ferocity that Jade the Painfully Attractive Lade’s server apron almost falls off, the Lenghornians express disbelief of their oppressive manager’s intentions.

Confidently raising his hand, Johnny the Gentleman calms his loyal subjects.

“My friends…” he softly asserts, using his other hand to unsheath a blade so powerful it nearly blinds the crowd, “worry not. For I wield Steakscalibir!! I shall embark on an epic mission along with our brave cohort Dustin the Deft and end this treachery before it has a chance to take root!” He shouts, raising the fabled blade in triumph.

“HUZZAH!!” The Lenghornians cry in excited elation. “All hail Johnny! All hail Dustin!!” They cheer.

Glancing over the crowd to witness Brittany the Beautiful deliver a patron’s Blue Moon well after the beer’s expected arrival time, Johnny returns his gaze down to his fellow servers as he gracefully nods in appreciation of their support. Subtly glancing at Dustin, he slyly winks, smirks, and nods in silent acknowledgemnt of the legendary quest on which they shall soon embark.

A quest, as it were, which will define the future of the Lenghornian village for ages to come.

Brock Keckler: Full Interview

Millennials Making a Difference: Brock Keckler

What is a general description and title of what you do? 

I am the Marketing Director for the Edwards Porter Group Wealth Management. We do financial planning, investment strategies, retirement, 401k plans, life insurance, and estate planning.  My job is to help my firm be the premier financial institution in Wilson County.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Helping people with their financial future. Everyone has to start somewhere and its awesome to make an impact in people’s lives.

What things do you do/have you done to benefit the community?  

I am leading the MJYP [Mt. Juliet Young Professionals]. The Edwards Porter Group is extremely involved with local networking groups and events. We are always open to helping the community in any way.

What made you decide to chair the MJYP?

Joining this firm in my hometown, I wanted to find an additional avenue to help the city. The Young Professional population is growing exponentially in MJ and I want to be someone who gets them connected within the community. MJ is a special place to me and my family, so I want to do my part to help it succeed. As the city gets bigger, this group could be best professionals group in the mid-state.

What events does the MJYP have planned for 2017?

We have speakers lined up for the entire year along with some local tours and social events to promote networking. One thing we are focusing on is getting together at all of the local restaurants for some social time to get to know people outside of the business setting. New people and new connections are the foundation to our city and we look forward to all of the events we have planned for the year!

As always, I like to find out the “why” behind the “what”. Why do you enjoy the aforementioned career choices/extracurricular activities?

I worked for several years for a big corporation and I have seen what it takes to grow a business, and having the opportunity to grow an amazing  local company, in the city I grew up in, is a dream come true. I work with lifelong friendships, to people that just moved here, and I get to share my MJ experience with them. I enjoy playing golf, Basketball in our local rec leagues, and running the trails in providence.  My wife, Michelle, and I are expecting our first son, Carson, in the Spring.  We spend a lot of time at the local events and restaurants. We look forward to raising our family in Mj and helping this community flourish.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please check out some of my other work at How the World Should Work

On the Eve: 6

King Jordain

She knows exactly where my heart lies. Buried deep within that sheath of angst, she knows the truth.

She knows I cannot raise my blade to her. This foolhardy campaign is fueled by her insatiable desire for revenge; her misguided malfeasance. Yet reality continues to elude her. The entirety of her army’s morale rests upon the simple assertion that I, King Jordain, committed the treacherous act for which I was accused. Why choose now to invade – does she wish to reunite East with West? Her accusations, ones which she herself believed to be true, were the very catalyst that ripped these lands apart to begin with.

And now, here I sit with the watchful eye above penetrating my soul. On my honor, woman, nothing occurred between the vice-regent and myself those many years ago. This divisive plot was a meticulously crafted story by that scum of a Hand, Ulric. The same Hand who deceived her, my Queen, for all these years. Slicing his throat was the greatest gift our God could ever bestow upon me, and for that I am eternally grateful.

We will hold these lands. God willing, we will reunite.  Jocasta shall at last hear the truth.

I Want to Play a Game

I’d like to try a thought experiment.

This might be weird; but just bear with me. You’ll need to pay very close attention to the things you’re about to read. More importantly, you’ll need to truly, truly, visualize and imagine what I’m going to say.

I want you to imagine yourself plugging your ears. Sound strange? Well it shouldn’t, because if you did it right you wouldn’t be able to hear it. Your ears are plugged, remember? Step one, imagine all the sound around you is gone. 

Step two. Think of the smells you’re experiencing. Then, imagine them going away. Close your nostrils if it helps. You can no longer smell.

Three. Cut your tongue out. Not literally! But imagine it disappearing into the same realm your other senses have traveled to. You can taste no more.

Four. You no longer feel anything. Your sense of touch is gone. Poof. Out the door. No more feel.

And last. Five. If you did it right, the only thing you have left….is this. You can see. You can read the words you’re reading right this very moment.

Now – close your eyes. Nothing. You should see, hear, smell, taste, feel….nothing. You should be nothing.

Okay, experiment over! If I had to guess, you’re probably thinking I’m a freaking nutcase right now. I, however, would say no; this is a thought process that has plagued me from the first time I considered it. I really, really want to know if there’s life after death. And no, I don’t want a feelgood story to make myself sleep better at night. I want to actually consider what really happens when we die. 

The above exercise is what I think about. Why don’t I remember anything before I was born? Seriously. Doesn’t this seem sort of obvious? When I was created, I gained the ability, through biological synapses and impulses that I won’t ever understand, to perceive reality. I was given hands, eyes, a nose, tongue, and so on to then be able to process the stimuli that is the universe. 

And you know what? When I’m dead, I bet I lose that ability to sense things. I bet I go right back to the blackness that was before I was born.

Now. Please. If there exists an individual who can tell me, in any logical manner why I should think otherwise, I’m begging you to do so. Because I’m going to be one hundred percent, completely real here: that scares the shit out of me. Wanna know why I quit insurance and write now? Well, here’s why folks. It doesn’t get any more real than this. I honestly believe that when I’m dead, that’s it. I don’t get another go around. So each and every second of my life, I want to make meaningful. And the worst part about this, believe me – the part that hurts the most, is thinking about Mom. That she may not be out there anymore. And that’s why I’m so torn, because the easy thing would be to say yeah of course she’s still there and so on. I really, really, can’t stand thinking this way. 

So. In summation. If someone can give me a rational, real explanation other than “faith” or “you just have to believe” or anything, please for the love of the ironic god I’m trying to find, tell me. 

That is all.

On the Eve: 5

Antony – Commander of Queen Jocasta’s Army

An emissary arrived today with a most perplexing message. He hurriedly navigated his way through Clarmont’s cobblestone streets and somehow obtained an audience with Queen Jocasta herself. The dispatch appeared to be one of grave import, as he was quickly ushered into Jocasta’s inner chambers following the delivery. No one yet knows what information was contained in the message.

Morale is still elevated. Tomorrow we meet with Hadrian, who has offered his assistance for our efforts at taking the East. Hadrian may be crass, but his Northern legions will surely add much needed strength to our rallying attack. These lands must again be united, as our Queen is the only hope of rebuilding the future we so desire.

Much planning is required if we are to rise victorious. Perhaps I will ask for an audience with this emissary, seeing what games Jordain attempts to play.

That man is more manipulative than the misleading colors of a chameleon.

 

The Revolt Returns: 8

“Hey, what was the name of that new girl again? You know, the brown haired Lenghornian with the exquisite…personality?”

Back in Spam’s newly reconstructed Tower of Management, Will the Wolf ponders the assets of a Lenghornian newcomer with Chilian manservent, Quesadilla.

“I know not, my Lord.” Quesadilla replies. “I am but a lowly Chilian. Our ribs and terrible 2 for 1 specials in those tiny mugs pale in comparison to you Lenghornians. You know I am not savvy to such information. I am nothing if not a loyal subject of my dear, sexy Spam.”

“Ah, valid point, peasant.” Will says. “Perhaps I shall raid their pathetic village and take her for my own. Show her how a real wolf gets down,” he growls with a creepy glint in his eye.

Suddenly, a female voice echos from an adjacent chamber.

“I would find that most unwise, my hairy lover.”

Waltzing out of the nearby walkway, a majestically sexy fox with an inexplicable aura of sophistication joins the pair.

“Assuming, of course, you intend to keep that wonderful wolf manhood of yours attached to your body,” she adds with a wink.

“My love! You know I jest,” Will the Wolf says with a subtle adjustment of his woolly pants, effortlessly concealing his embarrassing blood flow as his gaze glides up and down Celeste the Sultry’s painfully attractive body.

“That’s what I thought,” she says with a smirk and a peck on his wolfly cheek. “Alas, where is our leader? Surely its time to finalize our plans for the assault on the Lenghornian village.”

Interjecting, Quesadilla angrily answers her query.

“Our beloved leader is seeing to her commitments in the North, fox,” he says with an annoyed glance toward Celeste.

As a dedicated Chilian, Quesadilla is fiercely loyal to none but his offensively nasty restaurant. Spam, being the conniving woman she is, wooed the slave and his compatriots through an ingeniously crafted plan to gain Chilian support. Simply put – she informed their corporate management to take the beef bacon ranch quesadilla off of their already disgusting menu. After her suggestion led to quadrupled profits, the Chilian constituents fell right into her perfectly placed trap. As intended, her army swelled and she inherited the mindless servant that is Quesadilla.

“When does she intend to return?” Will the Wolf asks, smoothly deflecting the obvious resentment Quesadilla had directed toward his foxy lover.

“Our liege is scheduled to grace us with her return on the ‘morrow,” the manservant sneers. “Now, you must excuse me. I am required for other, more pressing obligations. Since she has graciously deemed me worthy of such responsibilities,” he adds as a not-so-subtle slight toward Celeste.

Exiting the chamber, Quesadilla hobbles toward whatever tasks he undoubtedly had just made up. Left alone, Celeste grins as she hops into her lover’s hairy arms.

Turning her head toward the sky, she smirks.

“Its time to end this chapter, I think,” she creepily says to me. “I know you didn’t really develop the plot in any meaningful way here, but I’m seriously jonesing for this guy’s…service,” she says with a soft laugh and nod toward the wolf of her dreams.

Wondering how the hell a fantasy character became aware of its omniscient Godly creator, the author types the last few characters of his entry, closing the cover to his laptop with a confused, blank stare on his face.

Reflecting on the Greats: George RR Martin

I’ve decided to start a new blog series to fill idle time when writers block attacks. I plan to write short entries to pay homage to the authors/writers which I look up to and who have influenced me in one way or another. I’d like to focus mainly on particular attributes of each, highlighting the obvious as well as the subtle in an effort to outline why I think they’ve elevated above their peers.

My first tribute is going to be on an individual we all know (unless you’ve lived under a rock or haven’t turned on a television in the past five years): George RR Martin, acclaimed author and creator of the enormously popular series A Song of Ice and Fire. Better known, of course, as Game of Thrones.

As many know, Martin was a lesser known writer until GoT dominate the headlines. This is the first thing I’d like to note which warrants respect. His dedication and love for the craft allowed him to persevere through countless efforts at making himself known, finally paying off at a level very few can ever dream of. This, I believe, is an attribute so few have, and even fewer maintain throughout life. It is one that certainly warrants respect from anyone who knows how difficult it is to stand out in one of the most competitive fields one can aspire to.

The second thing I want to mention, and one which absolutely boggles my mind if I’m being honest, is the sheer complexity of his stories. I’m not talking complex plot lines here, either. This dude has got to have what I can only imagine is one of the most absurd brainstorming sessions imaginable. I don’t think you need to be a writer to understand and appreciate the level of detail he consistently achieves.

Another thing I’d like to commend for Martin actually has nothing to do with writing. As we all know, any time you rise to the apex of your career, people tend to consider more than just your work. When one garners the world’s attention, the individual is taken into account as often as their creations. Martin’s personality, in my opinion, is an appropriate for someone of his stature. He doesn’t have an overly inflated ego, he’s down to Earth, and he’s maintained a playful demeanor. Case in point – just the other day I saw a picture of him wearing a T-Shirt he had made. On it was a quote: “Be nice to me or Tyrion’s next!” Now come on…that’s pretty funny. These kinds of things make me respect him not only for his creative genius, but for his character as well – which I would argue is just as important.

I’ll stop here for now. The only negative thing I can think of in regard to Martin is the freaking wait for the next installments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware how long these things take to outline, write, and edit – but he’s pushing it in my opinion (and that’s the consensus among his fan-base if you don’t follow him). Its to the point now where its a running joke, in fact. I suppose he’s earned the right to take as much time as he damn well pleases, though, so I digress.

In any case, that’s my general take on someone who will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the greatest writers of our time. I can only aspire to someday obtain a mere fraction of the cultural significance he’s so rightfully earned.

Here’s to you, Mr. Martin. Oh…and please don’t kill Tyrion.

On the Eve: 3

Antony – Commander of Queen Jocasta’s Army

We have taken refuge in Clarmont, the first safe village we crossed following our withdrawal. If one can even call it a village, that is. There is little more than battered huts and peasant farmers here. Far less than what one would deem an ideal location for which to retreat.

My lieutenants, those fortunate enough to survive the onslaught, are stricken with frustration and shame for failing our Queen. Jocasta has not spoken since our arrival, save her initial introduction to the village elders – who were so shocked upon meeting her they could hardly muster a word. There is little to speak of in terms of provisions, and much guilt felt among the soldiers for what resources the elders have provided. The occupants here have been more than generous, as they are vehemently supportive of the Queen’s campaign to overtake that pig of a man who calls himself King of the East. Jordain is a foolhardy dictator and disgusting excuse for a ruler. I find it astonishing that he ever had a place in her heart to begin with; his reputation of merciless tyranny well abound in these lands.

Yesterday’s miscalculations are surely to ignite fury within the deepest depths of Jocasta’s very being. Yet we, her loyal defenders, shall not falter. We shall remain resolute in our entirety, as every last one of us salivate in anticipation for our next opportunity to face them on the battlefield. Our leader will surely find solace amidst the unwavering faith of the entire regiment.

I swear it, that man will rue the day he clamored out of his whore of a mother. Our arrows will rain pure Hell next we meet, casting a darkness blacker than the evil residing in the soul we shall soon strip from Jordain’s body.

These lands shall once again be united as my Queen rises victorious, or so help me God we will tear this world apart trying.

Love & Loss

img_5585

Adalasia: First Entry

July, 1943. Sicily.

I hope I see him again.

It’s amazing how different things are, amidst the bombings and the shells and the shouting. A week ago I was making pies. Prepping soups upstairs in my father’s shop. My days were filled with that of cheer and joy. Now I find myself coddled in a corner, hiding in a dusty cellar.Trembling at the sound of footsteps approaching in fear that the invaders will find me.

They say this town is important for the supply lines. It seems to change hands every day, Allies by morning and Axis by night. I don’t know how to keep up.  The only knowledge of whats going on in the world is obtained through my inquiries during the requests handed to me by whoever happens to be occupying us on a given day. Today it is the Germans. They want rations, which we are able to supply as one of the only bakeries on this block. Tomorrow, for all I know it will be another from the US 7th.

There was a man, yesterday, who I truly hope returns. He was unlike the others. Usually the men offer chocolate or some sort of postcard of an American actress. But this one…he approached me directly, took my hand and looked at me straight in my eyes. Without pause, he told me he was sorry for the pain around me. He told me he was sorry that there were people in this world who could cause such atrocities to happen, and that we, at that moment, were stuck in a window of helplessness. He told me that he felt the pain with me. That he understood exactly what struggle I was going through. That he regretted every time he pulled the trigger, because he knew he was taking a life. A life that was raised somewhere else. By someone else. Someone who he would never know. I could see how much it hurt him.

He told me his name was Adam. And that he would find me, if God allowed, when this was over.

Adam: First Entry

July, 1943. Sicily.

I wonder if Father is proud of me.

He always told me I would grow to accomplish great things one day. Yet here I lay, cold and cramped in a cot hardly fit for a prisoner.

When I joined the US 7th, they told us we were undertaking one of the most important missions in history. That we were putting an end to the tyranny and devasting effects of Hitler’s Nazi regime. And while I still stand behind that sentiment, I find myself conflicted.

The things I have witnessed are unimaginable. The harsh realities of war are something one can never fully comprehend until they are experienced first hand. Loving sons stricken from their families. Kind fathers called to duty to fight for a cause with which they may not even agree. Why? Why must we occupy a world which holds such little regard for love and generosity?

It pains me to consider these things. I continue to fight, because the grander cause is one I believe in. Yet a profound agony courses through me every time I take a life. It plagues my mind as I lay here, trying to sleep so I can briefly escape this world of ours. Dreams provide my only solace.

There was one glimmer of happiness today, though, in the midst of this despair. My unit overtook a small portion of Sicily, and I was ordered to obtain food from a local bakery. As I entered, I found myself enamored by the beauty of the shopkeepers daughter. I could sense her pain, as she must have stood helplessly watching as the day’s battle ensued. I held her for a moment as I introduced myself, cherishing her embrace. For a short moment, we were two strangers sharing unspoken feelings of hope and compassion. Her name was Adalasia.

I hope I see her again.

Adalasia: Second Entry

July, 1943. Sicily.

He was here again today. Adam, the handsome soldier from the US 7th. I can still see his blonde hair, the sparkle, shimmering as the setting sun’s light reflects off his golden locks. He came into the shop today and asked for bread. His unit was most hurried, as there seemed to be another objective that was being sought after. It seems they are advancing further into the city.
But we were able to speak today. He had time to engage me in conversation. At first, he teased me that my English was broken, but he then put his hands on mine and smiled, telling me my words were as beautiful as the glimmer in my eyes. He gave me a bar of chocolate, laughing as he did so, saying it was cliche.

He told me that coming to our shop was the highlight of his day, and that he would do anything he could to be assigned to this particular task. Because he wanted to see me. He wanted to experience the same feeling he had the time before, when he held me and forgot about the terror surrounding him.

It was a powerful feeling, when he stood and grasped me. It was as if he was channeling his pain into our embodiment. I felt his love.

Please return, Adam.

 

Adam: Second Entry

July, 1943. Sicily.

I can’t wait to see her again.

Adalasia. Such a beautiful name. The dry spots on her hands told me that she’s willing to take on the burden of work. The city had a food cart stocked to try and provide help to the needy, and she was the first to volunteer her service. She cares about  people, I can tell. I watch her as her eyes follow the children of her house, playing and having fun. The smile that takes over her face as she sees how happy they truly are, without a care in the world.

And then the siren rings.

The piercing tone changes everything. The kids playing on the floor scatter to the underground cellar door. A door that will lead them underground, into a dark, cramped room where these feelings of love and happiness are absent. A room that houses the same fear, desperation, and hopelessness I’ve seen in the towns before.

These people. They’re innocent. They don’t deserve this.

A day must come that changes things. Good people have no place living like this. I wish there was more I could do.

I long to see her again. Adalasia, I mean. For the first time since landing in this Hell, I have found something which can actually coax a smile out of me.

I believe I shall “accidentally” find myself around the bakery tomorrow.

Adalasia: Third Entry

August, 1943. Sicily.

He might be the greatest man I will ever know.

Adam came by today. It wasn’t to see me, though. Not this time. He said he came because the Germans were expected to attack tonight, and he knew he would be launching artillery in this area. So he came to do everything he could to barricade father’s building. Then he showed us the proper places to hide when the fighting began. We are so very thankful to have someone care for our protection.

Before he left, I walked with him outside for a goodbye kiss. He stopped me at the door, firmly holding my waist as he looked at me with that bright hair and shimmering smile. He said that he would never let harm befall me. He said he would protect me that night, no matter what. That he would make sure the bombs landed far away. He promised to direct them away from us with his shelling.

And he did. He did exactly what he promised he would do. This was the first battle that hasn’t shaken this house.

All because of this Adam…a deeper love I will never find.

Adam: Third Entry

August, 1943. Sicily.

I do not know what to think.

I cannot decide what my disposition is to these Germans. We have been taught that they are all evil. That they are all terrible, horrid people who deserve nothing more than the iron fist of American judgment.

And yet, I am conflicted. Is it true? Is this entire army of Nazis truly evil? Or does good dwell amidst their ranks? Are there good men? Men who would pick up someone when they’re down? Men who love their mothers and children with all their heart, and truly want what’s best for their families?

These questions occupy the empty space in my mind, filling it with wonder and doubt. What is the truth? How can I be expected to blindly take the life of another human being without knowing their character? I cannot find reason to make sense of this.

Adalasia. She is my only release from this madness. Her innocence. Her beauty. Her kindness. It overwhelms me with emotion. She has a hold on my heart which I fear cannot be released. The subconscious, sublime cohesiveness that we share has taught me the true meaning of love. I love her. And I will do anything to shield her from this horrific world we have created.

This war has taught me one vastly important thing. There is no greater calling than to protect the people you love.

Adalasia: Fourth Entry

August, 1943. Sicily.

I know not what to say.

My mind is clouded by constant fears of the atrocities my love is forced to endure. The perpetual horror that he may never return.

I want to join his ranks. I want to fight the Germans with him. It sounds silly for me, a mere baker’s daughter, desiring to join the fight. Yet it is so. The message must be sent, my love. Let me fight with you.

Please, Adam…I can help.

Adam: Fourth Entry

August, 1943. Sicily.

My dearest Adalasia. How I love that girl.

Yesterday, I returned to her shop. She and I have grown quite enamored with each other. It is a deep love that we share. The kind that words struggle to describe. I’ve always wondered if I would ever fall in love, as I have put great thought into the topic. I find that love takes many different forms. There is, of course, the initial, shallow love. That which we feel by instinct. Some might call it simple attraction. And then there is the grander love that most spend their entire lives searching for. The one that causes us to wed, to have children, to enjoy life, and to be happy. The one that gives you meaning.

But then…then there is an even deeper, profoundly unique love. A love found only in times such as these. A love so visceral that it transcends outward description. The only way to comprehend it would be to feel the sensation. The kind of love that manifests when a grenade is thrown into a room, and your first instinct is to jump on it. That’s when you really know you love someone.

For that is what happened today. The Germans launched a small counter-attack this afternoon to take a portion of the city, the bastards. As Adalasia and I were having lunch in the apartment above her father’s bakery, I found myself caught at the front end of their assault. Captain said no one saw it coming. None of us did.

A pair of them came into the bakery. They must have seen my helmet on the post outside and decided they would take me by surprise. I would have never seen them had she not been standing by the window. Upon hearing them ascending the stairs, I fired a few shots through the wall. I missed. The cowards threw the blasted potato masher into the room close to Adalasia as they hid behind the stairwell. The two of us looked to her feet in horror, locking eyes in a brief moment that seems now like a blur. I don’t remember what went through my head, if anything. I jumped to cover it after shoving her onto the nearby mattress, and for my eternal gratitude to God it didn’t detonate. It was as if my body wasn’t under my own control, and some mysterious force had compelled me to sacrifice myself to spare her life. We were saved by some of my squad, who were having coffee across the street. It was the most horrifying twenty-three seconds I’ve ever experienced.

I did not realize until this evening the magnitude of what that action meant. We all say we would die for love. Now, I know. My deepest consciousness sought first to protect her.

The truest, most genuine love there can be. That’s the energy I share with Adalasia.

We share an iron love forged on the anvils of war.

Adalasia: Fifth Entry

September, 1943. Sicily.

My attempts to join the fray went unheeded. Father said I was crazy for suggesting such a thing. He says the passions of a baker’s daughter aren’t strong enough for war.

Adam makes it a point to make sure the bakery is well-guarded and equipped for whatever may come through. Or whoever, I should say. The chocolate he brings is always fresh. I adore him for the little things he does for me. We took a walk yesterday, through the market square and over to the theater.There was a play taking place about the American soldiers leaving their homes to come fight the war. Adam and I stood there, motionless, watching the actors and actresses pretend to feel the pain of loss. We did not condemn them. Instead, we applauded their efforts, because we knew that they were going through the very same struggle as we. They have lost loved ones, as we all have.

The pain of losing friends. The pain of losing family. The impact of which I cannot convey. Not through mere words. It must be felt to truly understand. Why must we continue to battle? Why? Will a day without hatred, without malice, without violence ever dawn? I so deeply long for peace, and happiness.

Happiness more so than anything. Oh Adam, how much I love you.

Adam: Fifth Entry

September, 1943. Sicily.

They’re coming.

We don’t know when, but we know. The Germans are launching a massive counter offensive. We’ve been expecting this for weeks, as it’s crucial that we maintain control of the supply lines. Sicily is too valuable a target, and we should have known they would defend it to the very last man.

Our intelligence officer has intercepted a telegram that we are to be assaulted in the coming days.

My time in this war has given me so much perspective. Some of the things I’ve seen are nightmarishly horrific. Seeing the atrocious ways a human being can treat another human being when under the guise of war is the most terrifying observation I’ve had. This isn’t a world that anyone deserves. I feel the heaviest weight on my heart when I see a little girl be saved from debris, only to find her parents dead from shelling. I feel the weight of the farmers who are being forced to provide rations to the Nazis against their will.

It hurts to think about these things. I must protect Adalasia. That’s the only thing I can hold on to in this world of chaos. She gives me purpose. I love her for that. And for so much more.

Why am I fighting this war? That was a question searing in my head for the longest time. But now I know. I’m fighting this war to preserve the short glimmers of happiness that my Adalasia provides. It’s what were all fighting for.To be happy. Life…the battle that shall never end until it ends.

I love her so much.

Adalasia: Last Entry

September, 1943. Sicily.

I cannot do this.

I can’t. I’m so afraid. They’re here. The Germans. They’re retaking the city. They’ve launched an overwhelming counter offensive to regain control of Sicily. I’m so scared. I don’t know what to do. My God please help me. Please, I’m begging you. I can hear the gunshots outside. I can hear the footsteps of the German soldiers. Oh my God please don’t let them find me. God, if you’re there, please, don’t let them find me. I do not want to die. I cannot fathom parting from this world without him.

Underneath the register. Hiding. That’s where I am. Please find me Adam. Please. Make them go away. I can’t do this. This cannot be the last night I see. Adam, please help me. Where are you? Please help me. I love you, Adam. I love you more than anything.

Oh my God. They’re coming in.

Adam: Last Entry

My dearest Adalasia.

You changed the world for me. There are so many things I want to write to adequately explain how important you are. But my words would never do it justice. I found myself when I met you. You were the most important piece of my life. I love you. More than anything in this God Forsaken world, I love you.

I’m bleeding, my love. There isn’t much pain. I was shot running toward the bakery when I heard the German attack. I fear I won’t survive, Adalasia. My body rests upon a small hill of broken cobblestone. You know the hill I speak of. The one where we chased the rabbit that day, until it slyly hopped under the cover of these stones. These very stones. I suppose this is a fitting place to die, as I am reliving that day right now as I write this.

I’m dying, my love. This I know.

I beg this: whatever unfortunate soldier finds my body; please deliver this parchment to my Adalasia. She lives at the bakery, just East down the road. Please. Axis, or ally. I beg you from the depths of my soul. Give this letter to my love so she knows how much she meant to me.

She changed my life. She breathed meaning into the emptiness that for so long defined me.

Adalasia. I love you so, so much. Please don’t forget me. You are my everything, and if there is another side to this life, I will turn this universe upside down until I find you.

Remember me, my love…and find happiness. For us.

On The Eve: 2

King Jordain – Lord of the East

Fools.

I foster no sympathy for the slaughtered. The foul. The wretched, sniveling swine. I swear to God himself this day was ordained by the truest forces overseeing this realm. She dared challenge me? Of all living, breathing occupants of this once revered land, she called it upon herself to prove my equal?

All these years. All this time, spent in a wondrous stupor of remorse and regret. The pitiful nights. The restless thoughts, wandering incessantly to depths I shudder to fathom. The pain of uncertainty. The constant dream of squandered potential. The sheer, genuine hurt accumulated through years of heartbreak. And this is her decision?

I relished the kill. The soft, soothing slice of my blade stripping the pathetic soul from his trembling corpse. The look on her pale, bloodied face as my gaze lifted to observe those mortified eyes.

My armies need not pursue her.

A sweeter, more satisfying sensation this world shall never produce.

On The Eve: 1

Queen Jocasta – Sovereign Ruler of the West

I could not stomach the look of them. Misguided wretches, gathered in elated celebration of what is perhaps the most depressing of travesties.

Why does man celebrate the crushing of another man? This will forever elude me. You emerged victorious, an outcome which I am forced to regrettably concede through gritted teeth. Perhaps congratulations are in order, as my meticulously placed pieces were unforeseeably toppled. You conquered that which was unconquerable. Does it make you feel good, may I ask? Does your assuredly short-lived victory provide the shallow satisfaction that you so seek; soothing your insatiable desire to dominate?

You are nothing, wretch. Your victory is intertwined with the tragedy that is our history. Hear me, conqueror. You are weak. You are nothing but the hollow, human desire that has presented itself time and time again in these forsaken lands. Long before you were even a thought, you have been nothing.

We will rise again, of that I assure you. The sound of my armies’ iron and steel will echo across this domain like never before. Your meager triumph shall be effortlessly stamped out like the final burning ember of a desperately lit fire.

Enjoy your spoils tonight, conqueror.

For you will soon suffocate on the fiery blades of Hell.

Love & Loss: 12

My dearest Adalasia.

You changed the world for me. There are so many things I want to write to you that explain how important you are. But my words would never do it justice. I found myself when I met you. You were the most important piece of my life. I love you. More than anything in this God Forsaken world, I love you. 

I’m bleeding, my love. I was shot as I ran toward the bakery when I heard the Germans were launching their attack. I’m not going to survive. My body is resting upon a small hill of broken cobblestone. I am going to die. This I know.

I beg you, whoever finds my body, deliver this parchment to my Adalasia. Please. Axis, or ally. Please. Give this letter to my love so she knows how much she meant to me.  

She changed my life. 

Adalasia. I love you so, so much. Please don’t forget me. You are my everything, and if there is another side to this life, I will do everything in my power to find you. 

Please, my love. Remember me.

Introducing Squeak

I wrote this quite awhile back, but since I’ve decided to hold on to book 2, I wanted to share this chapter so I can introduce one of my favorite characters. This chapter is the first in which Carson’s new companion Squeak comes along. If you read it, there’s obviously going to somewhat of a spoiler alert, but I’m pretty sure everyone knows the general direction that the story is going toward. So it won’t really give that much away. Anyway, I hope you like her. She was inspired by a combination of Ducky from Land Before Time and my own pup, Mr. Baxter.

Chapter 14

What the Hell?

Carson, is that you?

The morning after his first night in his new Pod residence, Carson wakes up in his bed overlooking the living area. Rolling over, his inner dialogue wishes him good morning.

Um…who else would it be? Stupid Brain. Can’t take you anywhere.

Yeah…dumb question Carson, my B. Anyway, so we’re on a freaking space plane. Thoughts?

I’m glad you asked. WHAT IN THE HELL IS GOING ON?! IS THIS REAL? That was actually the first thing to cross my mind. But then I consider how much thought we’ve put into all of this, like that signal and whatnot. Then I think about how normal it probably all is. In fact, there are probably a gazillion other things out there in the universe right this very instant, thinking this very same thought, reading this same damn thing, all at the same time. And you and me would never know. Wanna know why? CAUSE THE UNIVERSE IS TOO. DAMN. BIG. Yeah. Them’s my thoughts.

Well smack me silly and tickle me Elmo! Well said my man! You’re probably right. This reality of ours is too big for us to try to think about. In other news, however, is a more pressing matter. What is our plan to reunite with our fair lady? We can’t stay up here forever.

Good point, Brain. You’re so wise. So, about that.

Silence.

Yes?

Well…what’s the plan?

OH! I assumed you understood that I was actually asking you that. That wasn’t a rhetorical question. Idiot.

Hey! Gimme a break here, I was letting you lead. I thought you were going for some sort of cinematic suspense. Sorry. But I don’t know, honestly. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I haven’t decided. I guess we should ask Xun. But what if the world’s gonna end? Would we want to go back?

I mean yeah. Jennifer’s there, after all. And we love her.

True. And that’s really the most important thing, isn’t it? Love.

It really is. Why else would we do all the crap we do in our lives? Do you think people WANT to work 40 hours a week at a job they pretend to like just so they can pay bills to sustain the life that they’re “supposed” to live? If it ain’t for love, I don’t know what is. 

Man. Deep thoughts. Anyway, the important thing is that we need to get back to Jennifer. She’s seriously the best thing that’s ever happened to us. Deal?

Deal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

`

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANYWAY!! Time to get up!  

Sitting up in his bed, Carson rubs his eyes as he looks out of the small porthole on the wall at the side of his bed, seeing Earth floating millions of miles away. Seemingly out of nowhere, a strange, high-pitched female voice startles him.

“Looks peaceful, dunnit?

“What the hell?” Carson says, turning around to look at a light purple, grey spotted odd-looking creature in front of him. “What in the world are you?”

“I’m your partner!” The tiny four legged, elephant-shaped thing on his floor says.

“My partner? For what?” Carson asks. “You look like you just walked out of that old Nintendo game. What was it called…Q-Bert!” He adds, looking at the long, one-nostriled cylindrical nose it has protruding from its face.

“Oh, you know. Just stuff.” It says, clumsily hopping toward him. “They give us to you things to feel safe, you know? Like a friend. You’ll probably be here awhile.”

“We ‘things’?”

“Yeah! You know, the things that always come up here when they’re trying out a new species. They always bring some of you things up while they watch you. To get to know you and stuff.”

“Ummmmm…I see.” Carson replies, picking his feet up so the creature can walk underneath them to the porthole.

“Yep! So peaceful.” It squeaks, propping itself against the wall so it can look out at Earth.

Dumbfounded, yet slightly humored, Carson grins at the cute little thing struggling to look out the porthole.

“Here, let me help you.” He says, setting a pile of books that the Organization has provided underneath it.

“Thank you!” The creature says, excitedly.

“So do you have a name?” Carson asks, still grinning.

Turning its head to look back at him, still leaning against the wall, the creature bats its eyes at Carson before replying.

“No, I don’t think so. I think you can name me.” It squeaks.

“I’m sorry. This is absolutely hilarious.” Carson says, sitting on the bed. “Alright then, well are you a boy or a girl?” He asks.

“A girl, I think.” She replies.

“Great. Well, let’s see. You’re adorable. You’re colorful. You’ve got a high-pitched, squeaky voice. You’ve got four legs and a Q-Bert face. Hmm…” He says, searching for an appropriate name. “Tell you what, I have an idea. Run to the door.”

“The door?” The creature asks, turning around off the wall to face him.

“Yep. The door. Run to it.” Carson replies, pointing to the sliding door that’s about eight feet from the creature.

“Okay!”

Swiveling to face the door, the creature begins to hop toward it in an overly exerted effort, sliding onto its face as its reaches its destination.

“Okay, that might have been the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Carson says, falling back onto his mattress laughing hysterically.

Regaining her footing and coming to, the creature hops over close to Carson’s feet.

“Did that make you happy? Yay! I think we will get along great.”

Sitting back up and hoisting her into his lap, Carson looks at the little creature’s big bubbly, blue eyes.

“Alright. You need a name. The hopping thing didn’t give me the idea I thought it would. So I’m going with my gut. How about Squeak?”

“Squeak?” The creature asks.

“Yeah! Squeak. It’s perfect. It personifies you. You have a squeaky voice and you’re freaking cute as a button. Squeak fits you perfectly.”

Looking up at him, Squeak smiles as her big bubbly eyes blink.

“Yeah, I think so too.” She says.

“Great!” Carson says, setting Squeak down and standing up. “Now, back to reality. Do I need like a leash for you or something?”

“No, I don’t think so.” Squeak says, hopping alongside him. “I think I’ll just follow you around.”

“Sounds like a plan. You sure do think a lot!” Carson says, laughing. “Let’s go find Xun. I need to figure out when I’m going back.”

Descending the stairs from his unit’s bedroom, Carson sets out to find his abductor. By now he’s become somewhat familiar with the ship, but still hasn’t been able to get his bearings on where exactly everything is located.

Crossing one of the catwalks, Carson and Squeak walk past several strange looking aliens. It’s obvious that the ship is a melting pot of different species, most of which are bipedal and at least somewhat humanoid. Its clear that life evolves in an almost infinite number of ways, made obvious by the sheer diversity of creatures on the ship.

Continuing along the inner walkway, Squeak hops happily behind Carson.

“So where are we going?” She asks, shooing a colorful butterflee off the railing with her trunk.

“I told you, to find Xun! I’m thinking he’s back in the Observatory.” Carson replies, hastening his pace.

Struggling to keep up, Squeak begins to pant.

“Slow down, please! I’m little, remember?”

“Okay, okay. Sorry.” Carson laughs, picking her up.  “C’mon. This’ll be easier.”

“Yeah, I think so too!” Squeak says.

Making their way to the Observatory, the pair finds Xun standing by the window looking out at Earth. Hearing them enter the room, he turns to face them.

“Greetings, Carson. I see you’ve acquainted yourself with your companion.” He says, smiling at Squeak.

“Yeah, seems like I have.” He says, setting the tiny creature down.

“What exactly am I supposed to do with this thing?” He asks, nodding his head toward her.

“We provide them to visitors who display a need for emotional attachment.” Xun says. “As you become exposed to the various species in the universe, you will realize that psychological makeup differs significantly from civilization to civilization. Some require emotional companionship, and your species falls into that category. So, occasionally we provide creatures such as yours here to fulfill that requirement. It isn’t something we always do, but anything that help fulfill your instincts is good in our eyes.”

“I see…” Carson says, sitting down on the long bench in front of him. “So basically you’re saying you’ve given me a pet?”

“Precisely.” Xun says with a smile.

“Gotcha. So anyway, what have you learned about us so far? Any Earth-shattering developments?” He asks, thinking back to Brody’s pun in his apartment.

“None so far.” Xun replies with a slight frown. “We have been observing your current state of affairs from here. As I told you before, we generally attempt to contact the leaders of a civilization when we begin our induction process, but your situation is rather….unique. It seems that the carefully crafted structure of your society has broken, now that your world believes they have only a small time left to live. It has proved difficult for my team to identify leaders among your people amidst the chaos.”

Grimacing, Carson pats Squeak on the head as she curls into a ball to take a nap““.

“Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me. Things kind of crumbled when Yuri spilled the beans on the whole timeline thing.”

“Tell me what happened, my friend. This is quite an alarming situation to which we’ve been introduced.”

Shaking his head, Carson has a gloomy look spread over his face.

“Man, I don’t even know where to start. Like, I’m pretty sure our entire history has been riddled with fights. It’s like our species wants so badly to be good, but we’re our own worst enemy and we keep letting monsters make all the rules. But as far as this stupid asteroid goes, we found it a few months back. We don’t have any sort of super advanced technology or anything like I’m sure your Organization does, so we had to give it our best guess in terms of predicting its behavior. So they told everyone we had like thirty something years until it’s gonna hit. Plenty of time to find a solution, right?”

Nodding his head with an expression of concern, Xun seems genuinely sad after hearing Caron explain the world’s recent events.

“Anyway,” Carson goes on, “the people who you would consider our ‘leaders’ started building a ship. They were going to divert the rock away from the planet to save us. Well, sure enough, one of our species ’bad apples’ decided that he could use the asteroid to solve an energy crises that we have. So he wanted to deflect it just far enough to where it would get caught in our planet’s orbit. His plan was to send ships out to mine the thing. Which actually, now that I think about it, isn’t all that bad. Cause we really need help with that. Only he blew up the ship our leaders were building, and killed a bunch of people to replace it with one of his own.”

“That sounds pretty bad,” Xun says, shaking his head.

“And I’m not even done.” Carson says. ‘If all that weren’t enough, turns out that our ‘leaders’ had been lying to us. The ‘bad apple’ I told you about found out that realistically, we only have about three years until impact. Closer to two now, now that time’s gone by. So when he found that out, he lost it. He told the whole world, and now you see what you see.”

Looking toward the ground, Xun rubs the back of his neck.

“Wow.”

“Right?” Carson says. “Like what else can you say? But this is why I hate that you’re seeing us just now. You’re seeing us at our worst. It’s not really a fair time to judge, you know?”

“Well let me ask you this, my friend. What was it like before all of this?”

Softly laughing, Carson looks up, trying to find an answer.

“Before? Well…truthfully it wasn’t all that different. We’ve had a lot of wars throughout our entire existence. And don’t get me wrong, I’m no historian or anything, but I’ve never really, really, understood the point of most of them. There we’re some that mattered, though, you know? Like ones where people we’re just fed up with how awful they were being treated to the point that they took up arms and literally risked their lives. But for the most part, the bulk of us just want to get along and enjoy life. It’s the bad apples that end up causing the ruckus man. I wish I had a better answer, because I know I’m sort of speaking on behalf of my entire planet here, but I guess it is what it is. We really do have a lot of potential though, Xun. I promise.”

Patting him on the knee as he stands up, Xun smiles at Carson.

“You know, Carson, I am glad to have met you. I believe you will fit in quite nicely with our Organization.”

Looking up at Carson, Squeak shakes after getting up from the nap she’d been taking.

“I think so too!” She says.

“Well I hope this works out, my man.” Carson says to Xun, holding his fist out.

“As do I, my friend.” Xun says, bumping Carson’s fist with a smile.


Dream Always

The last seventeen months of my life have been an absolute whirlwind.

Ever since my Mom passed away, I’ve been relentlessly committed to accomplishing my dream of becoming an author. To the point where I’ve honestly questioned my own sanity. 

Now, all this time later, I find myself so tantalizingly close to fulfilling that dream that I think I’m honestly getting a stomach ulcer. That’s not a joke by any stretch of the word; I’m dead serious.

I spoke to a literary agent today. I was fortunate enough to attend college with her and she responded to a message I’d sent. Our conversation was very encouraging. Basically, I need to gain a somewhat solid following before a big agent or publisher will market me. 

So if you happen to stumble upon this, I would vastly appreciate any support and honest feedback of my writing. 

Much love to you all. And never give up, whatever you want to do. Life is far too short. 

Here is the Amazon link to my book. It is also available if you search “Matt Shao” on Apple iBooks, Google Play, and barnesandnoble.com