Vree’s New Journey [character development]

I am preparing to write stories about Vree Erickson and her friend Lenny Stevens again. Lenny is a character I created 48 years ago, named Liam Burkhart then. Vree soon followed.

The above statement makes it seem like I have written for a long time. I have not. I spent most of that time painting and creating art. Even then, I labored a good part of that time working jobs that paid the bills and gave my family and me food and shelter. I have always struggled commercially and financially as an artist. More so as a writer. But I still do it. Not for fame and fortune. I do it because it still drives me.

Vree and Lenny

Vree and Lenny still come and speak to me, whether I am asleep or awake. Sometimes they tell me of adventures that I end up recording and publishing on the Internet. Someday, those adventures may make it to the print market where people pick books from shelves. For now, though, I publish those adventures in the quickest medium I know.

Lately, Vree has been revealing new stories to me. She does this every year around this time. Winter is coming and I am going to be spending more time indoors. Now is the time to dust off the old laptop and write again.

The last story I published about Vree had her battling the ghost of a witch named Mergelda, also called Margga in an earlier version, which bloomed into a novel from a short story about Lenny and ghost dogs that I called hellhounds for dramatic purpose.

It was my first novel and I was excited to have reached that pinnacle as a writer. But it was not the story I wanted to publish. Or, more accurately, it was not the same story Vree and Lenny first told me, the one that made me rush to my laptop and spill out 100,000 words.

Since then, I have stopped rushing to write more stories. I have taken the time to listen to my characters and to take notes. Vree, who was once an only child 48 years ago before she became the youngest of triplets in the novel, is back to her old self. She is 13 again and dealing with the loss of her father. He died when lightning struck him. The lightning struck her too and changed her—she can hear someone’s thoughts when she is close to the person. And the lightning burned down her home, forcing her and her mother to move to Myers Ridge, a common spooky place in my stories.

Vree can also see her father’s ghost. He appears to her as a friendly apparition. He was a spirit in the novel, but Vree argues with me that he is a ghost. “We cannot see spirits,” she says. “We can only sense them. We see ghosts because they hold to the light they had when they had a human body. We don’t see spirits because they let go of the light.”

I do not know what the light is, but I am sure Vree will show it to me. She has already told me that we are beings who embrace light, and that we fear darkness. “Darkness is the absence of light,” she says. But I question her for more information. Is darkness a void? A black hole? Negative energy?

“Darkness is no light. Exactly that. Nothing more and nothing less.”

I can tell it is going to be an interesting winter with her. I hope she and Lenny show enough of their world and themselves to me that I may produce a new book in the spring. A book that stays true to my characters’ revelations. And a book that will satisfy them and me after all the edits are done.

Vree’s Journal Entry 4 [fiction]

Lenny Burkhart:

Lenny Burkhart is my next-door neighbor and best friend.

Lenny

He’s handsome, with dreamy dark brown eyes and hair. He stands around 5’ 7” tall and says he weighs 130 pounds. He is 15, born July 5. He believes in the supernatural and has shelves of books about it. He has never seen a ghost, but I don’t tease him. Seeing the spirits of dead people isn’t glamorous. Mostly, it’s creepy and often frightening.

He owns a book written by Trevor Bettencourt about the history of Ridgewood. In it is a story about Mara Dekownik, the woman who once lived in my house. Bettencourt claims in his book that she committed suicide after my great-grandfather accidentally killed her father while hunting small game. Ghosts tell me otherwise.

Mara Dekownik:

My maternal great-grandfather, Benjamin Myers, and Mara’s father, Ludwick Dekownik, were neighbors on Myers Ridge and best friends. They hunted together until Benjamin accidentally shot and killed Ludwick while hunting in the woods behind Ludwick’s house. Ludwick’s only daughter Mara Dekownik was a witch who swore vengeance for her father’s death.

Mara

She conjured magic that killed Benjamin and his wife Verawenda. I have met both ghosts.

According to them, a witch’s agency called The Fifth Council House of Magic sentenced Mara to a 1,000-year incarceration called Yalendora, but she escaped custody, stole a valuable spell book from the Council, and used a powerful spell to fight them. The Council called on other councils and obtained enough magic to capture her. They added another thousand years to her incarceration for 2,000 years.

Yalendora isn’t a place, but a thing in which Mara is imprisoned by magic inside her portrait painted by another witch. Trevor Bettencourt owns the portrait and keeps it in the mansion that once belonged to Benjamin and Verawenda. My grandma sold it to Bettencourt and moved to Alice Lake when she married my grandpa.

The Bettencourts:

Trevor Bettencourt lives at the old Myers Mansion with his wife, Ademia, and his son and daughter-in-law, Quinn and Laila Bettencourt. Both Trevor and Ademia are reclusive writers and book authors. Quinn is our town’s leading doctor and surgeon, and Laila is a dentist and orthodontist (which I thought were the same profession, but the latter requires additional schooling and comes with a saying: “All orthodontists are dentists, but most dentists are not orthodontists”).

The Grimoire:

The ghosts of my ancestors, Benjamin and Kate Myers, led me to the stolen spell book, which Mara hid beneath the floorboards of her father’s bedroom. I found the book after my release from the hospital and can read some of the spells, which ae written in a strange language. One of the spells can release Mara from her imprisonment. That spell scares me.

The dusty black spell book is called a grimoire, but it has no title on its hard leather cover or on the title page inside. Its pages are askew and filled with numbers and strange figures, like secret code, which are bits of history written as poems, spells written as songs, and some strange recipes that I’m sure no one would want to eat. I’m the only one who can read the book, when it reveals itself to me. When it doesn’t, the pages are riddled with numbers and strange figures. Having the book has been a blessing and a curse.

Some of My Psychic Powers:

Lightning struck me and, IMHO, unlocked strong psychic abilities in me. I believe everyone has degrees of psychic powers in them, but some people are more “gifted” (or cursed) than others, the same way some of us are naturally inclined towards music or mathematics, for example. The lightning changed me and made me aware of these abilities in me.

Psychic abilities are also known as extrasensory perception (ESP) and sixth sense. There are many kinds and I am slowly discovering and developing new ones.

For now, I can see past events when I touch people (or they touch me). It isn’t something I do purposely … it just happens. Doctors of ESP science call this Retro-cognition or Post-Cognition.

I can also sometimes see events in flashes of detailed insight before they happen. The moments are short and they “announce” themselves with buzzing sounds that only I can hear. Doctors call this Precognition or Premonition.

And

I See Ghosts and Spirits!

Mediumship or Channeling is the ability to see and talk to ghosts and spirits. The difference between ghosts and spirits is who is stuck on Earth and who has crossed the astral plane. Ghosts are stuck here for whatever reason, and spirits have left our earthly plane and travel the spirit world. Some spirits return to Earth from time to time, but not often because it’s a difficult process.

Having ghosts and spirits pop in and out is something I cannot control. And I cannot beckon them to appear. I always thought psychics channeled on purpose to earn money from customers who wished to speak to their dearly departed. This isn’t so … in my case anyway. It’s unnerving when they appear unannounced. And it creeps me out every time.

Journal Entry 5

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Help a Guy Out [fiction guest post]

Lenny Stevens

Hi. My name is Lenny Stevens. I’m fifteen years old—although I was sixteen and seventeen a long time ago. But things changed in my life and I became fifteen again. Any fiction writers reading this will understand.

Okay, yes, I probably should have mentioned upfront that I’m a fictional character. But that doesn’t make me less real.

I was born in 1970 … I mean, I was created in 1970 by Steve Campbell, the author of my stories. I was thirteen then, lived in a big house with my mom and dad in Ridgewood, Pennsylvania, and was best friends with Dave Evans. Dave lived out of town on Myers Ridge with his parents and his twin sister, Amy. They no longer exist … I mean, they do exist, but not as the people I knew from 1970 to 1975. Now, Mr. and Mrs. Evans are characters with different names and married to other people, and Dave and Amy are brother and sister to a girl named Vree Erickson. Dave, Amy and Vree are triplets and Vree has psychic powers because lightning struck her.

Anyway, Dave and I were best friends in the 70s, went to Ridgewood High School back when miniskirts and bellbottom jeans were in fashion, and did practically everything together. We got as far as twelfth grade before Steve stopped writing about us. He saved our stories in some 3-ring binders and kept them in a box while he graduated high school, joined the Navy for six years, went off to college for four years, and married and became a dad. Now, his kids are grown up and he’s busy changing the stories in those binders. Personally, I’d rather he not change anything, but the damage is already done. I call it damage because Dave is Vree’s brother now and not very friendly. Read Steve’s book Night of the Hellhounds and you’ll see what I mean. I miss hanging with the old Dave.

I miss my old parents and my big brother and sister, too. My new mom is dead and my dad is the high school’s art teacher and an artist. I’m good at art too, though I never was before Steve published Night of the Hellhounds. I have a different big sister who runs the restaurant my new mom used to own, and I have two younger sisters whom I’m just now getting to know. So far, we’re not very close.

Steve isn’t the only writer who has changed my character. His friend Lola wrote me as a miscreant teenager when she and Steve collaborated on the Night of the Hellhounds book. They scrapped the collaboration when Lola moved to the UK to some place called Leeds with her husband and kids, and Steve deleted the scenes where I behaved like a degenerate before he published the book.

I’m really a good guy. I truly believe that. And I believe I can carry the lead in Steve’s novels. I know Vree is the main character in his planned books about Ridgewood and me, but I think I’ve been around long enough that I can vest the readers’ interest and carry a story from beginning to end easily. That’s why I’ve been interrupting Steve’s writing sessions and whispering at him while he’s drifting off to sleep. I’ve even haunted some of his dreams.

And that leads to why I’m writing this.

If you believe I could be the lead character in one of Steve’s forthcoming novels, leave a reply and let him know. If enough of his readers back me, then my dream could come true.

Whattaya say? Help a guy out before Steve does something crazy like having my family move away, or worse, killing me off like he did to my new mom.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep bugging him every chance I get.

Green Crystal, chapter 19 [fiction]

In this last chapter, it’s now June 29, 2013 and Lenny Stevens is on his parent’s front porch, trying to become a better artist by painting Sara Taylor’s portrait; she reminds him of Vree Erickson, though she is seven years younger. Lenny pines to have Vree back; the hope that she could return by magic glimmers in his eyes and he believes it could happen if he paints an accurate portrait of Vree. But to do so, he needs to practice … a lot. Discouraged by his lack of skill and troubled that Sara is attracted to him, he stops painting for the day and, upon her encouragement, tells her about the magic green crystal that Vree had found in the sinkhole of her backyard, how she became frightened of it, and that she threw it back before vanishing mysteriously. Sara kisses him before leaving for the day. Lost in memories and troubled thoughts, he sits on the porch with a shard of Vree’s broken mirror (a piece he took from her bedroom when Mrs. Erickson allowed him inside one time) and watches twilight turn to night, long after his mother calls him in to eat; he falls asleep and dreams about Vree.

Cracks In Time

We choreograph the crystal’s dance of light and color to mirror the dance of Creation.

Chapter 3 of 3: June 29, 2013

It was almost four o’clock that Saturday summer afternoon when Lenny Stevens picked a housefly from a mound of oil paint on his canvas. The north end of his parent’s front porch was now part of his makeshift artist’s studio. Heat blistered the air despite the shade and an electric fan blowing a cool breeze from one of three card tables. A young girl in a yellow summer dress reclined on a lounge chair covered in multicolored satin pillows. Her hair was the color of fine gold, her cheeks ruby-red, her smiling eyes like sapphire pools. She glowed of extraordinary purity like a summer sunset in a garden of carnations and lilies.

Well, maybe not the latter, but Lenny liked the poetic way it sounded and how much saying “A summer sunset in a garden of carnations and lilies” reminded him of Vree Erickson.

His newfound model, Sara Taylor, was nine—“Nine-and-a-half,” she’d told him—almost seven years younger than Vree and him. But she owned a beauty similar to Vree’s that he desired to capture on canvas—the way he should have done the first day he had met Vree. Yet the very thing he desired to paint distracted him, filled his heart with a want to have Vree back, to see her lounging on the chair instead of Sara.

The daughter of the woman who owned the bookstore downtown raised a delicate eyebrow and curled up a smile at the corner of her mouth.

“My parents say I can invite you to dinner tonight,” she said. “I hope you like Chicken à la caléndonienne.”

Her voice was the light tinkling of wind chimes in a gentle breeze; the very voice that had sung to him five weeks ago about his amateurish paintings of Vree being absolutely beautiful and emotional and heartfelt.

“With practice you’ll get better,” she had told him. “You can practice painting me, if you’d like.”

Now, anxiety passed over his face.

“Who am I kidding? Vree was the artist. No matter how well I try to paint her image, it won’t bring her back.”

Still, the hope that Vree could return by magic glimmered in his eyes. She had been his true love, the only girl in Ridgewood who had ever been able to reach inside and steal his heart. Being with Vree had made everything in his life seem perfect.

He sucked in a deep breath to help settle his anxiety.

“Chicken à la caléndonienne,” Sara repeated.

“Chicken à la caléndonienne?” Lenny said with a voice like a steel breeze from winter’s coldest hour. “What’s that?”

“Chicken baked in butter, parsley and lemon juice. It’s good.”

It sounded good but Lenny dared not admit it. He said, “Hmmm,” instead and adjusted his paint-splattered smock. Then he took a long flat paintbrush and spread white oil paint across his palette. The milky hue merged into a puddle of yellow, crimson and blue paint until he was certain he had the right color. He approached the large easel with its canvas positioned at eye level, dashed a shaky stroke of color across the fabric, and studied again the face of the young girl he was painting.

He saw it then, it was a look in her eyes: puppy love. He put down the brush, tossed his palette and other brushes on a card table and told Sara the session was over.

“Patience, she reminded him as she rose from the love seat.

“Yes, patience and practice, patience and practice,” he huffed, and then backed down as soon as he saw her amorous face peer at him.

“You’re a really cute guy, Lenny Stevens, and you have talent to be a great artist someday.” She smiled.

“I’m too old for you,” Lenny said.

Sara’s smile remained. “When you’re twenty-five and I’m nineteen, our age difference won’t seem like a big deal.”

“I have a girlfriend.”

“Tell me,” she said, releasing the smile and letting a frown crease her brow. “I want to know what happened to her.” She sat on a metal stool next to the card table cluttered with paint tubes and brushes, picked up an art book and rested it on her lap.

Continue reading “Green Crystal, chapter 19 [fiction]”

Green Crystal, chapter 18 [fiction]

When Vree Erickson magically passes through her mirror to her friend Dave Evans’s bedroom, she knows the entity is still alive inside her and wants Dave dead. There, she stands up to Angelina, the entity from the crystal powerful enough to destroy her and everyone she holds dear in life.

Cracks In Time

We choreograph the crystal’s dance of light and color to mirror the dance of Creation.

Chapter 2 of 3: December 31, 2012

Dave Evans surrendered the gaze of his deep blue eyes to one of wildness mixed with flight. The air around him had become thin and dry, as though an unseen storm had sucked the very oxygen from the sunny sky over Myers Ridge.

“Bottom of the seventh. We need some runs,” Parker Evans said before he called out three names of the players scheduled to bat. His ragtag team sat on lawn chairs along third base. The hot chocolate in the red and white Igloo water dispenser on the middle chair had gone cold during the fifth inning. The snow in the backyard had turned to slush and the game was winding down. So was their day of fun.

“Cheer up,” he said to Dave before he took his spot as coach near third base.

Dave’s gaze wandered again to the barn and the small girl standing there. The afternoon sun seemed to spark Krissy Tyree’s long, soft brown hair. A halo of green surrounded her, but it did not diminish the brightness of white funeral dress she wore. Dave practically hugged himself from a chill gripping his back. He thought about telling someone about the ghost, but quashed the idea when she glared at him.

On the field, the dead girl’s dad, Huritt Tyree, laced a hit over the second baseman’s head. The forty-something man could have had a double in his younger years. He stopped at first base and clapped, cheering for Becky Jones to bring him home and tie the game. Dave tore his gaze from Krissy and watched his neighbor from Russell Road lace a hot single past third base. The slush kept the yellow softball from going far and several players slipped and fell while running to it. Huritt took advantage of their mishaps and advanced to third, landing on his backside when the plywood base slipped from under him. Laughter erupted from everyone but Dave. He felt Krissy’s icy stare on him and remembered the day he had killed her.

Continue reading “Green Crystal, chapter 18 [fiction]”

Green Crystal, chapter 17 [fiction]

2012 is winding down and the murdering entity of the green crystal that Vree Erickson found in a sinkhole in her backyard still possesses her. Determined to rid herself of the entity, she returns the crystal to the sinkhole.

But when she magically passes through her mirror to her friend Dave Evans’s bedroom, she knows the entity is still alive inside her and wants Dave dead.

Now Vree finds herself standing up to the entity powerful enough to destroy her and everyone she holds dear in life.

“Cracks In Time” is a short story and the fifth installment of the Ridgewood Chronicles and The Green Crystal Stories—a riveting story propelling Vree and her friend Lenny Stevens deeper into mystery.

Cracks In Time

We choreograph the crystal’s dance of light and color to mirror the dance of Creation.

Chapter 1: December 31, 2012

The vengeful entity’s name was Angelina. Her goal was to enact vengeance on those people marked in green. She who had possessed Vree Erickson had been born from mysterious magic power of a green crystal found in a sinkhole in Vree’s backyard. The crystal’s power had saved Vree’s life — her mother’s, too — but it had also used her to kill. And for everyone Vree saw cloaked in a green aura, she feared for their lives.

Angelina’s power over Vree was strongest when she possessed the green crystal, which is why she had thrown it and the smaller one that she had taken from Uncle John into the sinkhole in her backyard. And now, after a geological inspector had authorized her parents to fill in the hole, Angelina’s presence inside her had quieted, hopefully gone altogether and back inside the crystal it had come from.

Filling the hole three days after Christmas had also stopped the electrical disturbances from inside the earth affecting cell phones, wireless internet service, and satellite TV on Myers Ridge. Even cars and trucks were able to travel the ridge once more without stalling. Life seemed to have returned to normal, but the nightmares for Vree continued. Angelina had made her nothing more than a machine harboring a virus programmed to persecute and kill people guilty of petty crimes such as arrogance, disrespect, injustice, and deception. Not being in control of her mind and body still terrified Vree.

Continue reading “Green Crystal, chapter 17 [fiction]”

Green Crystal, chapter 7 [fiction]

In this chapter of Book 3 in The Green Crystal Stories, Lenny Stevens is the POV character. He likes Vree and she likes him. She emerges enough from her possession to speak to him, but she is still a distant character.

I said yesterday that “III” is a possession story and poses to Vree the question: “How do I get unpossessed?” In Chapter 2, she chooses not to seek help from others but to be her own savior. Since she’s an only child in this version, I thought it proper that she act this way. Lenny, of course, would rather be her savior. He’s the “Hero in the background” waiting for his chance to pick up the Joseph Campbell sword and take action.

So…

III

Beware the gates guarded by dragons.

December 20, 2012

Chapter 2

His last class was study hall in the cafeteria and he had ten minutes to give Vree Erickson the gift he had bought her before school closed for Christmas vacation. Surrounded by tripping hazards of plastic and aluminum chairs and long Formica tables, Lenny Stevens zigzagged his way to Vree, sat opposite her and said, “Merry Christmas.” He slid the gift-wrapped box of chocolate covered cherries to her.

“I would have done this at the beginning of class but I had a humongous algebra assignment to finish,” he continued. “Plus, I wasn’t sure if you’d be here. You missed school yesterday and I tried calling last night but your phone kept going to voice mail, so I called your house and your mom said you weren’t feeling well. Then my dad’s car died before we got halfway up Russell Road—”

“You came out to see me?”

“Of course.” He lowered his voice below the whispered excitement from the room of students awaiting the last bell. “I love you.”

Vree slid a gift-wrapped box to him after taking it from her oversized book bag that occupied the empty seat on her right.

Lenny grinned and tore away the gold wrapping paper.

“You shouldn’t have,” he said when he took the gift out of its box. His long fingers slid over the sleek, black iPad. “I mean it. These things are expensive and all I got you was—”

“Never mind that and turn it on. It has everything, including some games.” Vree lowered her voice. “I added one of my favorites. I know you’ll do well at it.”

Lenny’s grin widened when the screen came on and Vree’s youthful face filled the space. “I love the wallpaper,” he said.

“It works both horizontally and vertically. Now take it for a spin.” Vree rose from the table and fetched her chocolates and book bag. “I left one of my workbooks in the library. I’ll be back in a few.” Before she went to Mr. Baretti and interrupted him from his paperback for a hall pass, she whispered to Lenny, “Definitely try out the game I put on there. It’s called Dragon Slayer, my favorite game of all.”

Lenny went through the menu of games until he found Dragon Slayer and opened it.

CHOOSE YOUR SKILL LEVEL, the computer screen said.

He chose BEGINNER from the options offered.

The screen came to life as a red, fire-breathing dragon swooped down from a velvet star-filled sky and laid to waste in a fiery breath the Tolkien-esque village below. Elflike people ran screaming from wooden houses and stone buildings into the cobbled streets.

Lenny marveled the lifelike graphics while, within seconds, the dragon destroyed the living. Red words filled the screen as the dragon and village disappeared into blackness. GAME OVER — 0 POINTS.

He touched the pad and brought the dragon’s fury to life again. This time he brought a centaur from out of the shadows. The mythical creature shot gold arrows from a gold bow at the dragon. Every shot missed and the dragon destroyed the village again.

GAME OVER — 0 POINTS.

He tried again and the centaur sent an arrow into the dragon’s tail. It screeched and banked away into the yellow glow of a full moon. Then it veered back. Little people ran. The centaur shouted orders to unseen comrades. A maiden stepped from an armament shop and gave the centaur a blue arrow.

“Shoot at its heart,” the fair-haired maiden said.

Lenny was pleasantly surprised to hear Vree’s voice come from the computer. He relished the moment until

“Whatcha got there, Stevens?”

Continue reading “Green Crystal, chapter 7 [fiction]”

Green Crystal, chapter 3 [fiction]

I’m continuing to add the stories that appeared in my 2014 book, The Green Crystal Stories, in chapter-by-chapter installments. Today’s chapter is the final one from the 2013 short story, “Night of the Hellhounds.” This was the first book of five in The Green Crystal Stories and had nothing to do with the title, which is why I’m rewriting the book.

So, sit back, relax if you can, and read on while teenagers Lenny Stevens, Dave and Amy Evans, and Vree Erickson continue encountering ghosts and demon dogs … and struggle to survive atop the mysterious Myers Ridge.

Night of the Hellhounds

Beware the strangeness at night that it may come for you.

November 3, 2012

Chapter 3

“They’re after me,” Dave yelled as he ran from around the side of the barn and headed toward them. “Get in the tents. Hurry.”

In a puff of red smoke, the Rottweiler appeared in front of Dave, blocking the way.

Dave skidded to a stop and stared wildly at the dog. Then he bolted to his right and vanished into the field and darkness there.

Two hounds glowing green raced into view from around the side of the barn and charged after him.

The Rottweiler followed, almost flying across the ground as it too vanished in the dark.

“They’re heading toward Widow’s Ravine,” Lenny said. “We have to help—”

Just then, horrible howls from below the hill filled the air. Amy and Vree screamed as they stared down the hillside. The remaining dogs charged the hill.

“They’re real,” Amy said before she tore past Lenny, the blanket dropping to the ground. Vree followed, close at her heels.

Lenny looked once more at the hellish ghost dogs coming at him before he raced after the girls heading to Mr. Evans’s house, which was lit up inside and looked so safe and inviting.

“But what about Dave?” he called out.

The girls kept running, but he stopped. His best friend was being chased to a dangerous place with sinkholes and cliffs. He turned and hurried after Dave as the remaining hellhounds crested the hill and raced after him.

He plowed blindly into brambles and thorny weeds that slapped and poked and grabbed him, scratched his face and hands, and scarred his clothes and shoes.

The hellhounds closed their distance quickly. His drumming heart climbed into his throat when he realized he couldn’t outrun them. Still, he shielded his face with his arms as he pushed on.

The dangerous terrain looked foreign in the low-lit night, yet he followed the sound of the hellhounds ahead of him and thought only of Dave’s safety.

His inhales and exhales sounded like whimpers and moans when moonlight broke through the clouds and he burst through the confining brambles at a clearing atop a steep cliff of Myers Ridge.

Dave was there, at the edge but safe for the moment, doubled over and breathing hard. The hellhounds that had followed him had their heads lowered and their rear ends in the air like wolves that had just pinned their prey.

Lenny hurried and kicked at the Rottweiler’s backside, hoping to punt it over the cliff. Instead, his foot went through the apparition and he landed on his backside.

Continue reading “Green Crystal, chapter 3 [fiction]”

Green Crystal, chapter 2 [fiction]

As I said in my last blog post, while I rewrite the stories that appeared in my 2014 book, The Green Crystal Stories, I am offering the original stories here in chapter-by-chapter installments. Today’s chapter is from the 2013 short story, “Night of the Hellhounds.” This is different from the novel with the same name that I wrote last year. Here, Dave, Amy and Vree are friends instead of siblings like in the novel, and Dave and Amy live where Lenny lives in the novel. Also, Ben and Cathleen Myers aren’t Lenny’s great-grandparents in this story (Ben is Reginald Myers in the novel), and the strange Ademia Savakis appears here like she did in my original story published online a decade ago.

Sit back, relax if you can, and read on while teenagers Lenny Stevens, Dave and Amy Evans, and Vree Erickson encounter ghosts and demon dogs and struggle to survive atop the mysterious Myers Ridge.

Night of the Hellhounds

Beware the strangeness at night that it may come for you.

November 3, 2012

Chapter 2

“Who are you?” Dave said, almost shouting, which drew Vree’s and Amy’s attention. “This is private land.”

Fiery hues of the campfire revealed a stunning woman. Flame glinted from her long black hair, her bronze face, and her long, sweeping black dress tied off at the waist. A white lace collar hung around her neck, and pearl buttons sparkled in a row between her ample breasts. Tall and curvy, she looked at the four teenagers with mesmerizing and penetrating eyes — blacker than either her hair or dress, or the rubies set in the gold rings that she wore on eight fingers and two thumbs.

“This parcel of land is owned by Margaret Evans,” she replied as she strolled to stand next to the fire between Dave and the rest of them.

“She’s our grandmother,” Dave said. “Our dad lives here now.”

“Yes, I know of your family, David,” she said to him. “And Amy.” She smiled and looked kindly at Amy, beaming those mysterious charcoal eyes. Then she looked at Lenny and lingered with a puzzled, yet bewitching gaze.

He held her gaze until Dave asked, “How can we help you?”

She looked away and said, “I must rest a moment. The journey here has tired me.”

She sat with a grace that made her seem to glide to the grass. There, she tucked her legs delicately beside herself and covered her bare feet beneath her dress. Her gaze shifted back to Lenny, then to Vree, and then to him again.

“I don’t know you two,” she said.

Continue reading “Green Crystal, chapter 2 [fiction]”

Green Crystal, chapter 1 [fiction]

I am rewriting the stories that appeared in my 2014 book, The Green Crystal Stories, and published at Amazon for a short while before I shelved it. Why did I shelve it after I spent months designing the cover and editing the writing to what I considered a polish? Because it wasn’t done. By the time my readers reached the last sentence of the last story, they discovered that I hadn’t resolved the main character’s major problem. “To be continued” I wrote at the end, which, in hindsight, wasn’t fair to everyone who expected a true ending. So, I am republishing the book with a true ending this year and offer it free as often as Amazon will allow. I owe it to my readers.

Meanwhile, between writing and polishing that ending, I am offering the original stories here in chapter-by-chapter installments. The first one is the short story, “Night of the Hellhounds.” This is different from the novel with the same name that I wrote last year. For example, friends Dave and Amy Evans and Vree Erickson are siblings in the novel, and Lenny Stevens lives where Dave and Amy live in the short story. If you’re confused, read the novel for clarification, drop me an email, or both.

Anyway, in the short story, “Teenagers Lenny Stevens, Dave and Amy Evans, and Vree Erickson encounter ghosts and demons and struggle to survive atop mysterious Myers Ridge.”

Night of the Hellhounds

Beware the strangeness at night that it may come for you.

November 3, 2012

Chapter 1

It was the weekend after Halloween, dark and cold on the night Lenny Stevens parked his Schwinn next to the garage at Dave Evans’s place on Myers Ridge. Dave had told him he would be behind his dad’s barn. Lenny found him there, roasting hot dogs on a stick at a fire that failed to advance any warmth. His tent was set up behind him, and his twin sister Amy had her own tent behind her. She sat cross-legged across the fire from Dave, whispering and giggling with Vree Erickson. Lenny’s heart pattered while his gaze caressed Vree’s long hair looking golden in the firelight. Amy saw him, patted her sleeping bag and told him to sit next to her. He did, sandwiching himself between the two girls and snuggling under Amy’s blue blanket, which she draped over their shoulders. He quickly warmed, all the while smelling hot dogs and wood smoke and perfume that smelled like oranges.

They wore sweatshirts and blue jeans and jackets to ward off the night’s chill, and Vree had on white furry mittens that seemed to make her all the more beautiful to Lenny. He said hello to her and she nodded and smiled and remained silent while Amy controlled the conversation about Mr. Baretti — a tenth grade teacher she didn’t like. When she finished, Lenny opened his mouth to make small talk with Vree. He never got a word out.

“I’m glad you’re here,” Dave said, seeming to awaken from the trance the fire had put him in. “Take a look at the old Myers place and tell me what you see.”

The old, burnt shell of Myers Mansion was to Lenny’s right and at the bottom of a hill. It languished inside a thicket of property almost a hundred yards away and barely visible in the darkness. No moonlight broke the cloud cover then, so he squinted to see the spooky remnants of the mansion destroyed in June by an unknown arsonist. The police were still investigating the fire and Lenny and his friends had their suspicions of the culprit — he figured it was Craig Coleman and his gang of toadies who liked to smoke and drink there, even though the place was supposed to be haunted.

“Dave thought he saw ghosts,” Amy said. She gave him her whittled stick and a hot dog to roast. “Always with the ghosts.”

He looked again at the house, excited about this new turn of events. The once prominent house had been built ninety years ago by a once-famous Broadway playwright named Benjamin Myers who became even more popular writing blockbuster screenplays for Hollywood before he and his wife mysteriously disappeared.

“You saw Myers and his wife’s ghosts?” he asked.

“Apparitions of some dogs,” Dave said; “three of them as plain as day. They vanished right before you came.”

“You saw his dogs? The hunting dogs that froze to death?” Lenny almost dropped his hotdog while he fumbled to pierce it with the stick.

Continue reading “Green Crystal, chapter 1 [fiction]”

I’m Still Writing and Making Art

This is a short post to let you know that I have been busy and having fun writing and publishing my e-books. Follow this link to my new Amazon author page for more info about my books.

I have also been busy creating the covers for my books and having a great time being in the designer’s seat again. Here is the cover for my recent book featuring Vree Erickson and Lenny Stevens.

All this busy-ness has left me little time keeping abreast with all my wonderful WordPress friends. I have some new followers and I’m excited to visit your pages and discover the talent you offer there.

Meanwhile, stay true to your calling, everyone. Let no one counsel you otherwise. 🙂

First Kindle Publication [book news]

I hope everyone had a safe and happy beginning to your new year.

Pardon me for being away from WordPress for so long. I spent the past month learning about publishing on Amazon and had to give it a go. Ever since my wife got her Kindle, I have been interested in publishing some of my stories there. So, I took one of my favorite tales and tweaked it a bit and sent it off to Amazon.

Here it is: Night of the Hellhounds. If you buy and read my creation, please leave a review at Amazon.

By the way: I did the cover art. Not bad, I think, though I may do better when I convince myself to send another story, perhaps in the near future.

Please be aware that this endeavor may be temporary. I am testing the waters of self-publishing at Amazon right now so my family and friends can read my stories on their Kindle e-readers. I wish I could offer them free, but Amazon doesn’t seem to offer that option.

Anyway, feedback would be awesome, so remember to drop me either a line or a review if you read my story. Thanks.

By the way, the town Ravenwood is called Ridgewood in the book. And I accidentally spelled Vree’s last name as Erickson, a typo that I have decided to leave alone. In fact, I like the spelling, so I may decide to use it permanently from now on.