Bbbbbbb book! New Book on Amazon now.

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I am super pumped to announce that my new book is out on Amazon.  Six bucks buys you this super sweet compilation of poetry, short stories, scripts, and songs, and thanks to Prime, it can be at your doorstep in a matter of days. What I am most excited about is the chance to spotlight some pretty cool people I have met during my time on this spinning ball called Earth. THEY are definitely worth getting to know. Please, pick yourself up a copy today. Now, even =)

A Tale from the Hotel Lobby

He was an older man, armed with a laptop and an ill-fitting suit. She was his junior, toting a suitcase and a pair of designer heels.

He was seated in the lobby, hacking away at emails and trying to overcome his writer’s block, when she entered, full of confidence, wearing a yellow pencil skirt and a blue blouse, her head up, her gait quick.

He would not have noticed her had he not have cocked his head back to bemoan his lack of inspiration; but, he did and he saw her. She checked in and vanished around the corner.

He saw her again at breakfast, when she came down to grab a bite. She had changed her heels for flats, the pencil skirt for something red and flowy.

There was a newlywed couple sitting at the table between them. When they got up, the man not-so-casually scooted closer to her. They talked for a bit. She got up to take a Segway tour. He returned to his novel.

She did not return until evening. He feared he might not see her again. He wrote himself into exhaustion as the words began flowing through him as if in full depth and color.

He retreated to the reading area with a glass of wine. She entered, this time wearing tan jeans and no shoes.

She picked out a book on American history and started reading. He asked her about it. They talked for a while. He offered her a glass of wine. She said yes.

They returned to the lobby and sat and drank and talked and watched people go by. He put his arm around her shoulder.

 

 

 

Smoggit’s Apprentice: Part 11

They traveled several more days before the sandstorm hit. It came upon them suddenly. They were walking. The day was hotter than normal, but not unseasonably so. The air was still. Then, the sand below their feet began to move. The air around them began to betray them, swirling and whipping about them. Before they knew what hit them, they were caught up in a blazing cyclone. Smoggit’s whole body shook as he summoned all the magic within him to fight it off, but Mother Nature played the cruel mistress that day. She crashed into them like a wave, knocking them to the floor, sucking the wind out of their lungs, and then burying them upon several feet of burning sand.

As the world grew dark around her, Pamela closed her eyes and surrendered to death; but death would not have her. A golden and ethereal hand seized her and Smoggit and yanked them up out of the abyss. Like a geyser, they spit up out of the earth and plummeted back down, vomiting out sand and other desert debris as they went. Her body was weak. Her clothes were torn. She gasped for breath and life-giving water. But, still, she was alive.

It was after seizing upon that reassuring truth that she fainted.

***

She woke on the back of a worronî. She gasped and nearly fell off. However, a reassuring yet unfamiliar hand kept her still. At first, she thought it the same as before, but this one was bandaged and distinctly male. The other was not from this world.

“Rest. Preserve your strength. I can tell you have been through quite an ordeal,” said the man.

Not having her wits and still being quite weak, she did not argue. She did look around though, searching for Smoggit.

“Your friend is fine,” said the man. “He is with the others.”

She saw him, on the back of another. These sand rider had them both in their protective care.

“Who are you?” said Pamela.

“Servants of the desert guardian, Yarí,” he said. “It was she called us to you.”

She nodded and said, “I know.”

This was not a time to make sense of the situation. The situation, in fact, was beyond sense. So Pamela, even in her state of weakness and veiled understanding, understood enough to keep her words few and go with the flow.

Later that day, she, Smoggit, and the sand riders had dinner. It wasn’t much: just a few scraps of capachi root and morning dew with a hint of burrén rat. Still, it was good and much appreciated.

“Thank you for your assistance,” said Smoggit.

The chief sand rider waved off the gesture.

“Think nothing of it,” he said.

“Is there anything we can do to repay you?” said Pamela.

The sand riders glanced at each other, then nodded in consensus. The chief turned to face her again.

“We are sure that the time will come when we will need your help, either in this incarnation or the next,” he said, “we ask that you meet us boldly in our time of need.”

She smiled and bowed.

“We can do that,” she said.

“Yes, we’d be happy to,” Smoggit said.

Her gaze shifted to the worronî.

“Fascinating creatures, aren’t they?” said the chief.

“Yes. Fascinating,” she said absently.

“They mate for life and are faithful caretakers of their young,” he said.

“So I’ve heard,” she said.

He paused until the time was right, then said, “would you like to pet one?”

Her gaze shifted to the floor.

“I really don’t know if that’s a good idea,” she said.

The chief didn’t miss a beat before responding that time.

“Maybe not, but I feel it’s something that needs to happen,” he said. “Will you trust me enough to try?”

Well, you did save my life and all, she thought and gave him her hand.

The chief led her over to the creature. Her heart beat quicker the closer she came. When she reached the beast, she felt as if her heart were about to jump right out of her chest. He waited a beat and then set her hand upon the worronî. It twitched. She flinched.

“Give it a minute,” he said. “Bonds do not form instantaneously.”

She forsook her own desires and reservations and calmed her breathing. The tension in her hand diminished and her fingers came to rest gently upon the beast. She swore she heard it exhale as well. Sooner than she thought possible, she began patting her “enemy.” The worronî bubbled in approval.

Later that night, as they headed out, she hugged the chief sand rider.

“Thank you,” she said. “Two times over.”

He bowed to her.

“Thank you for letting kindness take its course,” he said, then waved her “farewell.”

She waved back, then they departed. The worronî she had bonded with lifted its head towards her as she went. She waved it “farewell” too.

Smoggit’s Apprentice: Part 10

In a few weeks’ time, they reached the edge of the hills, and touched down on the desert of Mordøn. At that point, Pamela dismounted from the uba’ku, patted it tenderly, and sent it back to its herd. Smoggit bit his lip as he surveyed the desert.

“We should wait here until dark,” he said. “The traveling will be more forgiving at night.”

Pamela removed her robe and began loading up rocks into it.

“Sounds good to me. I ran into some worronî on the way here. Mean creatures. Caught me totally unawares. That won’t happen this time,” she replied.

Smoggit caught her hand.

“As your mentor and friend, I would advise against that,” he said.

She fought his grasp.

“But those things are dangerous. I’m all for harmonious traveling, making buddy-buddy and such, but we can’t afford any injury out there,” she said. “We’d never make it through, otherwise.”

“Your answer is logical but not completely true,” he said. “Yes, those stones would help safeguard our safety for a time, but you cannot run your life on them. Those that anticipate violence will find it. The same goes for peace.”

She paused.

“Drop the rocks. Please,” he added.

She dropped the rocks. There was, however, one left in the hood of her robe. He allowed her it and released his grasp.

“Thank you,” he said.

She wagged a finger at him.

“If we get hurt, this is on you, though I’ll take no satisfaction in being right,” she said.

“I’ll accept that responsibility,” he said. “Thank you for your cooperation.”

She plopped herself down at the edge of the desert and, together, they waited until nightfall.

***

As the sun dissolved into the land, casting an orange-red glow upon the world, they rose from their repose and started on the move. With the fledgling moon as their guide, they made their way through the desert. It was cold, but otherwise peaceful. Pamela was definitely grateful for her robe. About halfway through the night, she was about ready to suck down her pride when the hissing began.

Like a cyclone, it swirled around her. She clutched her robe- an automatic, protective response. That is when she felt the stone inside it. Up until then, she had forgot; now, it was all she was thinking about. Her fingers rapped around the stone. That was when the worronî lurched out of concealment.

The next few moments moved very quickly, without any thought. The worronî burst out into open. She grabbed the stone. Smoggit shouted something, but she didn’t hear. He extended his hand, sending a wave of magic at her, knocking her to the floor, but not before she sent the stone flying. It struck the worronî in the head. It wobbled and fell, then shook the earth as its bulk came to rest upon the cold, desert sand.

“I did it,” said Pamela said with mouth slightly agape.

Smoggit rushed to the worronî’s side and put hands upon it. Immediately, a blue glow exuded from him and began soaking into it. Pamela stood back and watched in horror as the worronî began to twitch, then rose and slunk away. When it was gone, Pamela charged at him.

“How could you?” she said while gesturing at him, then vanished animal, and all existence simultaneous. “That thing was trying to kill us, and you had the nerve to bring it back to life.”

Smoggit exhaled, then gestured her forward.

“Follow me,” he said

She stomped her foot, but did as he requested.

They walked a ways, eventually finding themselves in the center of a set of worronî tracks. She had questions, reservations, about this, but kept them in. The questions only grew as they continued on. Finally, she couldn’t hold them in as they continued on. Tired and confused, she finally gave herself permission to voice her concerns.

“Okay, where are we going?!” she said.

Smoggit put a finger to his lips and led her to the edge of a hole. Though turning a pinkish shade of red, she came up beside him and looked into the hole. In the hole, the worronî circled itself around a brood of miniature worronî: a mother and her offspring.

“To an untrained eye, it is hard to discern between the ugly and the beautiful. Often, what we interpret as vile is in fact loving, and the opposite is also true,” he said. “When we are quick to judge, we misdiagnose. You are a most excellent student, Pamela, but you are still a student.”

She stared at the mother and her brood, long after Smoggit had moved on. She stayed long enough for it to notice her. It just flared its nostrils at her and went back to nursing its young.

She moseyed on, venturing into the night, with that image emblazoned onto her mind.

The Monster Who Believed Itself to Be Human

MonsterThere once was a monster who believed itself to be human. It lived in the mountains high above a human village. Often, it would look down from its rocky perch and gander down at the villagers milling about below. It would feel inextricably and undeniably connected to them.

Sometimes, it would venture close enough to get a good look at the village, but always it would get run off as soon as the villagers spotted it.

One evening, kneeled down and cried. It wanted to be a human so badly.

Just then, a witch appeared.

“Hello,” she said, “I am the wish witch. Give me your wish and I will grant it.”

The monster dried its big, monster eyes.

“Oh please, dear witch,” said the monster, “if you would make me a human, I would be ever so grateful.”

The witch nodded.

“Human? Certainly!” she said.

With a wave of her wand, the witch transformed the monster into a handsome young man.

“Thank you!” said the monster.

The monster kissed the witch and scurried down to village before she could get another word in.

***

The night the monster arrived, the village was deep in celebration for harvest-time. Cakes, pies, roast beast: all were cooking over fires and in ovens and making the most delightful smells.

The monster burst with excitement taking it all in.

Wasting no time, it joined a group of humans dancing to a fiddler’s tune. It danced until its legs grew weary. At that point, it retired to a nearby pub and drank and laughed until morning light.

As dawn broke on the village, the monster turned man wandered outside. Little did it know that the magic had rubbed off. It found out soon enough when a young, orphan girl, whose family had been eaten by monsters, saw the creature and screamed.

The monster then realized it was not flesh and blood, but scales and ooze. This realization came too late. By the time it headed for the mountains, the humans were already in hot pursuit.

They chased him up and over the mountain to the edge of a cliff. Having no other choice, the monster turned to face its pursuers.

“Please, friends. Can’t you see I’m one of you,” it said.

The villagers all shook there heads.

“No, a monster is a monster is a monster,” said the villager, “that’s just how it is.”

The villagers took another step further. The monster stepped back, but too far. It slipped on a pebble and tumbled over the cliff, into the ravine below. In shock, the villagers gather ’round the precipice and looked down.

“Just as well,” said a villager.

“Serves it right, ” said another.

Then, they went home and finished up their party.

***

A year passed and the strangest thing happened: on the day of the harvest, the little girl who had sounded the alarm went alone to cliff from which the monster had fallen. She was armed only with a single daisy.

“Sorry I screamed,” said the girl.

She bent over and tossed the daisy into the ravine, then she turned to go home.

“It’s okay,” said the monster. “I’m sorry I startled you.”

She turned again. The monster’s ghost materialized in front of her. She did not scream that time, but rather simply extended her hand out to it.

“Want to go home with me?” she said.

The monster reached out and took her hand.

“I would love that,” said the monster.

And they went back to the village together.

 

 

 

Smoggit’s Apprentice: Part 8

Pamela heard the pounding of drums as they made their way to the foot of the Firebrand Mountains. The sound only grew louder as they pressed onward. As the Sun burned soft and orange through the pines wispy pines, she caught her first glimpse of the source.

A group of wood elves danced gayly around the fire. Men, women, children: all danced, hand-in-hand, while the band beat away at their instruments.

“Oh good. We’re just in time,” Smoggit said.

Pamela’s brow furrowed, but she said nothing.

The wood elves were quick to notice them. Amidst a collect of chirps and coos, she could hear them calling out Smoggit’s name. An elder elf, grey of skin and bedecked in vines, waddled over to him. They embraced.

Smoggit turned to Pamela. The elder turned with him.

“Pamela, this is my friend, Esäk; Esäk, Pamela,” he said.

Esäk chirped at her.

“Esäk says hello,” Smoggit added.

She waved.

“Hi,” she said.

Smoggit clapped his hands together.

“Now that we’re all acquainted, I suggest we get to celebrating,” he said, “do you like gooseberry wine?”

She scratched her head.

“I don’t think I’ve ever tried it,” she said.

“Oh, then you’re in for a treat! The wood elves are master vinedressers, and we caught them at the height of harvest season,” he said.

Esäk chirped again. Smoggit waved them on.

“Come. The party bell tolls,” he added.

They approached the center of the gathering. Many hugs were shared, especially between Smoggit and the elves. Pamela was a lot more reluctant with her affections; but, with a couple sips of the gooseberry wine, she became a lot more open to the idea. As the elves and music and bonfire twirled about her, she pointed at the wine.

“This is powerful stuff,” she said.

“I know! Isn’t it fantastic?!” he said as he downed his third glass.

Smoggit’s face turned a merry shade of pink and he would occasionally hiccup and laugh in the same breath. Pamela had never noticed it before, but he had the loveliest dimples.

After introductions and drinks were liberally shared, the drummers fell back into position and, with no absence of pomp and flare, began passionately beating the heads as one (not in unison, for one played one part and second a second and a third a third; but, it all seemed to work seamlessly together, as if it were just one drum playing).

Smoggit raised his empty wineskin up into the air.

“Farrekåñna!” he said.

The elves repeated back the phrase.

Pamela leaned in, more closely than she anticipated, but she chuckled of their near-collision and continued.

“What does that mean?” she said.

“Lord of the Dance,” he replied. He took his arm. “I’ll show you.”

He pulled her into the ring. One elf took one arm, another elf took the second. Smoggit disappeared into the center as the elves began to move around in the circle. Spinning, spinning. Everyone laughed and laughed and sang nonsensical songs. Pamela was so beside herself that she eventually joined it, spouted gibberish for gibberish’s sake. The experience was very freeing. A little while later she spotted Smoggit amongst the percussionists, blowing away at a pan flute. This made her laugh even more, to see a master wizard pittering away on a penny whistle.

***

Eventually the music and the dancing and the wine died down, and Pamela found herself beside Smoggit, the elder, and a select few others as they told stories and reconnected around the dying embers.

Esäk chirped at her. Smoggit leaned over to her.

“He says you’re quite pretty,” he said.

She put a hand on her chest.

“Thank you,” she said.

“He always says you’ve got a nice smile, when you dare to use it,” he added.

He chirped again.

“He also sees the makings of a great warrior in you,” he concluded, “quite the impressive collection.”

She bowed.

“Tell him I am quite the impressive girl,” he said.

He translated and Esäk giggled approvingly.

“I told him about Xocotí,” Smoggit reported, “he asks if you have a weapon.”

She shook her head. Esäk ran away. She reached out her hand to beckon him back, but the elf moved too quickly. She lowered her hand again and turned to Smoggit.

“I don’t believe in violence,” she said.

“Trust me, you’ll believe in this,” he said.

Esäk showed up shortly thereafter with a diminutive pouch and handed it to her. She reluctantly took it and opened it up. Inside was a glass decanter full of an effervescent, purple liquid.

“It’s kalaharañ´îo juice,” said Smoggit. “It will boost your magic threshold ten fold. You will need ever drop of it to take down Xocotí.”

She eyed Smoggit and began intensely studying his facial expression.

“With your help, of course,” she said, “right?!”

He paused.

“Of course,” he said as he cracked a bittersweet smile.

She tucked the vial into her chest.

“Thank you,” she said.

Esäk gave her an effulgent bear hug.

“So, what now?” she said.

Smoggit yawned and stretched.

“Now, we stretch. We have a full day ahead of us. Maybe, if we make excellent time, we can cross Masari Meadows and reached the borders of the Telánquo Swamp by nightfall,” he said.

She frowned.

“Did this answer upset you?” he asked.

“Yes. No. I don’t know. I was hoping I could stay longer. It has a good vibe,” she said.

Smoggit and Esäk looked at each other and smiled.

“I suppose we could do that, yes,” he said. “It would be nice to get in an afternoon game of Barato ball before shipping out.” He slapped the elder’s thigh. “Besides, we haven’t got the chance to catch up in some time. He’s lived quite the life, you know?”

“I could imagine,” she replied.

Esäk chirped and cooed.

“All right. That settles it then: we’ll stay a bit longer,” he said.

She clapped.

“See you all in the morning, then?” she said.

“Yes,” Smoggit said, “sleep well.”

***

She did not sleep well. Something about the evening made her toss and turn. Still, it was one of those nights where she wished she were asleep; so, throughout the entirety of the night, she opened her eyes only once.

When she did so, she saw him, Esäk, emitting a slow, soft purr as sleeping Smoggit’s back. She moved slightly to catch a better look. The elder instantly cast his gaze to meet hers. They locked eyes for a fraction of a second, then he disappeared, leaving Pamela in the space between dusk and dawn.

Smoggit’s Apprentice: Part 7

The trip down Firebrand Mountain was pleasant. There wasn’t much left of Smoggit’s house after the altercation with Xocotí and Pamela didn’t have much to begin with; so they both packed light.

The breeze whistled softly through the trees. The sun caressed their skin with a graceful burn. A delicate film of sweat formed on their brows as they meandered through the woods. At about noon, Smoggit stopped them for lunch. They made a simple meal of the nuts and berries found there.

“Have you always wanted to be a wizard?” said Pamela.

Smoggit popped another berry into his mouth.

“Actually, I would have loved to be a blacksmith,” he said with a grin, “but the guildsman I was apprenticed to kept catching me using magic to create shortcuts in the trade. There’s nothing wrong with a little help now and again, but there’s nothing learned from it either.”

“So he sent you away?” she said.

Smoggit nodded.

“Exactly,” he said.

“Do you miss it?” she said.

“Sometimes,” he said as he laid back into the grass and gazed up at the clouds, “but it’s not about what I want to do. It’s about what I’m meant to do. Sure, I could skate through life if I wanted, but ultimately what’s the fun and fulfillment in that?!”

She laid down in the grass beside him.

“I miss the prairie. It was simpler then,” she said, “less demon-Queens trying to kill you.”

He laughed.

“Yes, I’d imagine so,” he said. “The door is always open, you know? To go back.”

She sighed.

“I know,” she said, “but I suppose now there never is any real going back, is there? After seeing all this.”

“No,” he said, “no, you’ve spoken truly there; but, if you truly want to go back, there are ways.”

She turned to him.

“Like what, erase my memories?” she said.

He said nothing. She turned back to the clouds.

“Wow. Is there anything you can’t do?” she added.

He turned to her.

“I suppose we’ll find out together,” he replied.

They paused to hear the wind rustling through the trees and songbirds singing their heightened melody.

“Tell me a story,” she said.

He did not hesitate.

“Once upon a time, there was a young lady who traveled a long distance to study under a little, old gnome. The journey was not easy for her from the get-go. She had everything against her; but she had magic and she had her unquenchable spirit, and though the tide of life waxed and waned, in the end, she overcame it all and found her way to glory.”

“Good story,” she said.

“The best part is it’s true,” he said.

“I’ll take your word on it,” she said, “you are a master wizard after all.”

“So they say,” he said.

They rested for a bit, listening to nature and sound of their own breaths and then continued intrepidly on their way.