A Promise – A Fiction

I think this was inspired by a writer’s prompt, but I’ll be damned if I can remember where the prompt came from.  In any case, it’s a little bit of nothing that I kinda like.  Thus so it might have some life, I’ve put it here.

He ran.

He ran with all the strength he could muster towards the horizon. Already he had fallen once, scraped his face, his hands, his arms. Already he had to stop, to catch his breath, to pray for a second wind. Now there was a stagger in his step, suggesting another fall, another stop. He knew this—how could he not?—but it doesn’t matter. In fact, if anything it made him run all the harder. He had to reach the sea before it happened. He had to, had to, had to.

His course took him alongside a four lane city street, never mind which city, never mind just where. Cars, trucks, and vans raced past him at a frightening rate. Not a one pause, despite his clear and frantic face.

Not a one headed in the same direction as he did. Only he headed towards the horizon.

The day around him could have been spring, it could have been winter. It didn’t matter. He burned. Every iota of his being burned. He was beyond pain now, beyond any agony he had ever known in his long, long life. His body was flame, and inferno, and he burned on and on as he ran.

Up ahead waited a final green hill. Over it was the beach, the sea. Seeing it sent a surge of hope through him.

The same moment his foot caught a crack in the pavement. Or perhaps a phantom leg struck out for one cruel final jest. Whichever, he staggered forward, almost caught himself, but found his legs too weak, too rubbery. Down he went. Concrete scraped through his jeans to his knees, then across his face. At once he struggled to get up, to start running again. None of his limbs wanted to help him; he cursed them and made them do what he wanted.

As he got to his feet, the Voice spoke once again. Still it sounded neither male nor female, and still it said the same five words: A promise is a promise.

“Cheater.” That came out as a croak. He swallowed, then screamed, “Cheater! You put water in the gas tank! Didn’t you? Didn’t you? I’d have been there by now otherwise and you know it!

The Voice didn’t even acknowledge the accusation. A promise is a promise.

He was on his feet. Staggered. Walked. Ran. Tears streaked his face as he went up the hill. For two thousand years he had kept the covenant. For two thousand years he had done everything asked of him. He had watched the world he knew fade to half forgotten history. He had watched his children grow old and die, as well as their children after that and their children after that, on and on. So much suffering, so much hardship, and without complaint.

He was due a little leeway. A little consideration.

He was due.

He crested the top of the hill, only to stagger to a stop again. Below him, after a brief spate of green grass, was the beach. Cluttered with towels and folding chairs and umbrellas, but absolutely empty of people. Some sandals scatter about, most heading towards one parking lot or another, but no people in them. They had long gone.

As had the sea.

For the beach didn’t meet the water. Instead, it met with what the water hid. The brackish sediment. On top of this flopped a few still living fish, but most were dead.

All of this stretched out before him for miles.

In the distance, at the very horizon, was a line of midnight blue and foamy white. It moved out there. Perhaps away, but more likely not.

An instant was all it took to take this in. Then he screamed wordlessly and began to run once more.

His ankle twisted when he hit the beach. The sediment sucked at his shoes, then at his shins, then at his knees. It didn’t stop him. Nothing would stop him. He would uphold the covenant even if that covenant was now broken and useless. If that was all he could do then he would do it.

There was one other thing, though, he could do. He glanced at the watch on his wrist. He glance at his watch and he saw.

And he screamed at the uncaring horizon, “Damn you, I would have made it if you hadn’t moved the water! Do you hear me? I WOULD HAVE MADE IT!

A promise, the Voice said, is a promise.

The blue and white at the horizon began to grow. It would grow and grow until it towered over him, roaring, blotting out sight and sound. And still he would head towards it as best he could, screaming.

It was all he could do.

* * *

The waters of the oceans pulled away from the coast. Not just one coast, but all coasts. Not just one continent but all continents. Even the inland seas and lakes. Even there.

The waters pulled back, then raced forward with incredible speed. The great Wave smashed into the land, crushing all it came across. The righteous and the corrupt, it didn’t matter. The Wave didn’t care.

When it reached its full length, it pulled back. Back beyond it’s normal boundaries, back to its outer limits. Then it came racing forward and slammed into the land again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

For after all, a promise is a promise.


The Hand That Makes – A Fiction

I have this nasty habit of writing simply dialogues and (in this particular case) monologues.  I think it’s because doing so skips on descriptions, and I hate, hate, hate descriptions.  Of course, they’re also easier to write and easier to finish.  Mustn’t discount natural laziness.

That confessed to, sometimes with the monologues I come up with rather neat little stories.  Not really something I could sell, but something I think worthy, or neat.

With this particular tale, the monologue format helps with the overall effect of the tale.  Properly told with descriptions, it might not work as well.

Then again, as I’m writing this note some ideas about how it could be done are coming to me.

In any case, here is the tale.  I hope it amuses.

Don’t whisper like that. It’s unbecoming.

Much better. Thought you could enunciate a little better.

That’s it. That’s the way.

The whole line now. Don’t miss a word. It’s important to get it all right and remember.

Yes. Progress. I think tomorrow we might try a different passage.

You can rest now.


I don’t care if it hurts. You have to do it.

Why? Don’t ask me why. You just do.

Okay, because if you don’t I’ll rescind outside privileges.

Ah. Don’t like the thought of that, now do you?

And there you go. Flex and relax. Flex and relax. Each day a little stronger, each day a little less pain.

You can rest now.


Finished. No more stitches. When you’ve healed there won’t even be a scar. So much better than my last one. I might be learning a thing or two myself.

Don’t mutter like that. It’s worse than whispering.

I can understand your frustrations. It must seem like it’s taking forever for you. You must believe me, though, you’re advancing at quite a steady rate.

Everyone says exactly what you did. At least at first. It’s completely understandable.

Each day you become better and better. And one day it and the pain will all be over.

You can rest now.


Exciting news. From now on, instead of a full day of therapy, you’ll have only a half day.

I know! The rest of the day you will be outside. That’s right! Outside doing so much. And better still it will be for the benefit of all.

Oh, lifting and pulling. Building and cleaning. Whatever the schedule says for the day, that’s what you’ll do.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. One of the things you’ll build? It’ll be a new house for me. Now isn’t that a wonderful thing to be building?

Oh no. No, I won’t be helping. Don’t be silly. I have far too many important things to do myself.

You can rest now.


Well done! A full therapy, and not a word of complaint. If all could see your progress!

Better than who now?

It’s not fair to compare the two of you. Nor should you do any comparing. You’re on the same shift as he, and must work together in any case, for the benefit of all.

He can’t help smelling bad, any more than you can. Though perhaps if you bathed more, it wouldn’t be such a problem.

Yes, yes, I’ll make the same suggestion to him when he comes into therapy.

You can rest now.


Now that was ugly, now wasn’t it? So unbecoming. So less like you should be.

His fault? What do you mean, his fault? It doesn’t matter what you think he thinks or how he smells. You shouldn’t have done it. You should have left him alone.

No. No, you didn’t kill him. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if you did. Just delayed production, bad enough.

No, we won’t be doing therapy tomorrow. I’ll be attending your… playmate.

Oh, let me assure you, I’ll get that arm back on and functioning. He’ll be back to normal in no time. Until then you’ll just have to work a second shift as well as yours.

Get back to resting.


I hear you went a calling today. And let me tell you, no one is happier that you sought to apologize than me. Well done. Well done indeed.

Oh, I wouldn’t have made you do it. Don’t be silly. Forced apologies are pointless.

Don’t say that.

I told you not to say that.

Well you’ve certainly spoiled that gesture, now haven’t you? And such folly. Had you not opened your big yap, I might never have known.

I’m done with you today.


Did I tell you to rest?


I don’t care how upset you are I want you working on my building now get up off your lazy ass and—

Oh, so that’s how it is, is it? That’s what you think?

You think that’s a threat? Go ahead, try and rip off my arms. Go ahead, big Man, you go right on and—



Round and round we go. Sometimes for every step forward there is a step back. For me as well as for you.

For what it’s worth, I am sorry for what happened. I should never had let it go so far.

Oh, that’s all right. No need for you to apologize. Remember, you were hurt much worse than I.

Now, now. Everything will be fine. You will be fine. The bones will heal just fine, and you’ll be back on track to being what you always should have been. Just like how the Father Doctor always meant us to be.

After all, do we not now walk on two legs? Do we not drink from glass and eat from plates?

Are we not Men?

Walking the Outline (I): Statement of Intent and Other Opening Thoughts

It is my hope that over the course of this series I’ll be able to fashion a series of outlines.  I want at least four serviceable outlines for potential novels.  Two of these I intend to use during NaNoWriMos (the one in July and the one in November).  One for a super special project that will see me burst into a ball of flame.  Er.  Write a novel in three days (more likely a week, but three days is the initial goal.)

The fourth, though, is the most germane to this blog.  With it, I’m going to go step by step through the process I’m going through with the other outlines (or in some cases already went through).  Then, when I have myself an outline, my intent is to write the thing up as blog posts through March.  I intend to do this as quickly as I can, hopefully finishing long before the end of the month.  All to see if it’s really feasible for me personally to be able to write a book in three days.  Or perhaps work up to where I can.

It should also show just how well the outlines will work for NaNoWriMo.

Now to make the whole matter a wee bit easier on me, I’m going to make the plot based very loosely on The Brave Little Tailor fairy tale.  Let’s call it Tailor, Brave and True.

Tomorrow we’ll get things started.

Goblinstomper! Developer Diary (II): At the Castle

Okay, real quick, I’ve discovered view Google search that there’s a blog out there called Goblin Stomper.  It apparently covers table top Role Playing Games (RPG).  It has no association with me or I it.  A little frustrated that my title matches someone else’s, but I don’t think sharing titles is a biggie.  Just remember than mine is one word, complete with exclamation mark.

And now for something completely different: the subject of this post.  The last post can be found here.

Level Four of the RPGMaker VX Tutorial covers talking with the king (step eight, if you’re following at home.  My game doesn’t go that route–we change that to talking to the chancellor–but the basic format is the same.  We set up an event and tell the event what to do.  Easy as that.

gs-development-004The complicated part is keeping track of all the events that appear on a given map.  This particular map, pictured left, isn’t that complex, but later maps will have more going on in them.

I have come up with my own little system for this: Standardized Event Labels  (SEL).  Basically I made a chart categorizing whatever events might be used on any given map and giving it a name.  Simple enough, up to the point I lose the chart.  Then its all me searching my Devil Box screaming, “NOW I KNOW I PUT THAT FILE SOMEWHERE!”

Frightening how often that happens.

If only I had some place else I could put it.  Perhaps online.  In a blog some place.

Or maybe right here:


Following what I’ve set up with SEL, the first event I set up is always a SHEMP.  It might not be used, that doesn’t matter.  SHEMP comes first.

That out of the way, I set up the other events.  One King, a Chancellor, and four guards.  Each gets a name and an image.

The whole Event Editor window looks like this:


We have the character’s SEL name in the name box (shocking, I know) with a note beside telling me who this cat is.  I’m probably going to go back there and place a full name in the note box, but it’s not needed.

Cast your gaze over to the Contents box.  Here’s where all the specific commands for this Event goes.  To briefly explain what goes on in this particular case, after a second’s wait, a balloon full of Zzzs will appear over the King’s head.  Once the balloon stops, it’ll wait another second before restarting.

(At the bottom of the screen we have a Trigger Box, which tells the Event when to act.  Parallel means it’s going on in the background no matter what.)

A quick word about the king image.  That’s not a standard, comes with the software image.  I built the character using RPGMaker’s Character Creator, then further modified it by drawing closed eyes and cut-and-pasting a crown from another character on to this one’s head.  I also arraigned it so that, in-game, the king’s head bobs up and down as he sleeps.

A lot of work for just basically following the tutorial.

Which is a part of my problem: I can’t just follow the tutorial.  Neat ideas pop up and I have to follow them through right now.  Which is what keeps things from getting done.

This applies to the novel writing, too, incidentally.

Anyway, with all the work done the scene looks like this:


 Deeply exciting, I know.

From here, the level moves on to creating the actual conversation.  Which goes something like this:


Damn near unreadable gibberish, innit?

The window on the right, the Event Commands window, is how I program the game.  At a click of the button, I can create dialogue, set up choices for the player, move things around, the works.  It looks overwhelming at first blush, but once you get the hang of it, you get the woefully mistaken feeling that you know what an actual computer programmer feels like at work.

To translate the gibberish, I usually start an Event with a Comment describing what I want from the Event.  This helps out on the all too frequent occasions when I screw up in programming.  This particular Event is rather simple, so I don’t make a big deal of it.  Just what’s going on.  No more, no less.

Below that we have a Movement Route plotted out for the Player, taking his character from the bottom of the screen to the stairs.  Next comes our Chancellor giving out the quest, followed by a meaningless choice for the player.  Choices give the illusion of power to the Player, but too many pointless choices breaks that illusion.  All of this is just for now work; later I’ll put something better in its place.

At least that’s the hope.

At the end of the Comment section, you’ll notice that we have another Movement route started.  This takes the Player back down to the bottom of the screen.  Unseen but present is a command that takes the player from the Throne Room outside the castle.  Which looks like this:


Like I said in the last post, I’ve got a lot of the work I need to do for this project already done.  In this screen shot, for instance, we have two guards in motion:  One walking around up top (partially obscured) and a second one marching in the grass in the lower right corner.  There’s a third that pops up over at the lower left.  seeing all of this at work gives a certain sense of satisfaction, that I’m getting somewhere.  Which, in theory, I am.

Speaking of which: Level Four Complete!  More importantly, though:


I just noticed that I have the task “find boat” listed twice on this list.  Sigh.  At least it’s worded differently.

Oh well.  A quarter done.  Tomorrow, we move on to the next part.

Goblinstomper! Developer Diary (I): The Quest Begins

Do you like starting projects and never finishing them?  Sure, we all do!  Hell’s teeth, that’s almost been the motto of this blog for coming close to twelve years: “Start, but never f

This year, though, I’d like to do something different.  2017 is going to be the year of finishing things.  Novels.  Stories.  Blog series.  The works.

Also, I intend to post more on this blog.  And on the sister site, too, but that’s a problem for another day.

One of the things I want to do is complete a game using RPGMaker MV.  I’ve bought the engine (technically twice) and have had nothing to show for the money spent.  Thus I’m doing this series of blog posts in the hopes of killing a few birds with one stone.

To complete this task, I’m using the RPGMaker website’s own tutorial as sort of training wheels to get my butt in gear.  The closest I’ve come to finishing has been using said tutorial and I’m hoping another run through might actually seal the deal.

Should you click on that link, you’ll see that the tutorial is actually for RPGMaker VX and not MV.  This is not a problem, as VX and MV are quite similar, up to the point where they’re not similar at all.

I realize that the previous sentence was spectacularly unhelpful.  Another feature of this blog!  Also, the differences won’t come into play until we hit certain play mechanics.  Which I won’t deal with in this post.

So without further ado, let’s look at what’s on our plate this time.

The Level One potion of the tutorial is real basic.  I’m suppose to come up with a basic plot outline for the game ahead.  Here’s the example given:

Basically that’s every old school Japanese RPG (JRPG) out there.  All that’s missing is the kidnapped princess.

Anyways, I make my own plot, moving it from the sample given like so:


We’ve moved it from the standard quest format not because it’s the standard quest format but because it’s a wee bit open-ended.  I can expand the game later if things seem to be going good.  Which is one of my hopes.

Level one complete!  On to the next stage.

Level Two has us make a new project.  Give it a name, open up a file, that sort of thing.  Like so:


I chose Goblinstomper! as an homage to the game that got me into this nonsense, Dragonstomper!  That my own little outline encompasses that game’s basic plot is no coincidence.

And yes, that’s all the story Dragonstomper basically has.  It makes Dragon Quest look like the Lord of the Rings.  It was all we had at the time, shut up, leave me alone.

The next steps in this Level include the drawing and testing out of maps.  Here I’m gonna cheat.  A lot.

As I already have maps drawn for other games, I’m just going to port said maps over to this game.  Like so:


I also have maps drawn for all the towns pictured but one. the castle, the forest, and the ruins.  I also have an extra map done for landing the rowboat later in the game as well as a larger world map.

All of this comes from the last time I tried doing this with the RPG Maker tutorial.  Not the most successful version, mind–that was on VX and was lost a computer or two ago.

Level Two complete!  Also, Level Three complete, as the next step has us create the “Good” King’s Castle:


 Technically it’s just the throne room, but there you go.

The rest of Level Three deals with the basics of Events, the magical mystical things that make the RPGMaker game happen.  As I’m fairly familiar with the process (to tutorial covers entering and leaving maps) I’m not going to dwell on it here.  The next Level awaits.

Which is where we begin tomorrow.  All sorts of goodness with the Event editor and all the fun that provides.

My intent with this series is to at least cover the making of the game up to where the tutorial ends.  I’ll continue  the series if I continue working on the game.  Fingers crossed in these’s hopes, as, again, my projects aren’t always fin

Strange Dialogue VI: A New Hope Force Awakens the Phantom Menace.

“What’s this?”

“What’s what?”


“Oh. That. A dead body.”

“A dead body.”

“Right. Thought it be obvious.”

“What’s it doing in my living room?”

“Decomposing, I should–”

“Why is there a dead body in my living room? And why are you here, come to that?”

“Ah. Well. Reasons. And… ah… reasons.”

“Which are?”

“Yes. Well. I needed to murder someone, and I didn’t have any place else to do it.”

“No place else to do it.”


“In the whole world, it had to be my apartment.”

“Well it couldn’t well have been in my apartment, now could it?”


“Well that would have given the game away. Wouldn’t have come there. Not when I’ve been ready to kill for the past few weeks.”

“You know, on further inspection, that seems to be one of my new roommate’s friends.”

“Oh. Er. Really?”

“Yeah. Hard to recognize with the ax in the face, but I’m certain of it.”

“Huh. Well. Small world. Small world, isn’t it?”

“You know, incidents like this are why I kicked you out in the first place.”

“Yes. Funny you should say that. I’ve been let out of my apartment for, uh, unspecified reasons.”

“Have you.”

“Yeah. And I was wondering if you could–”


“Oh, come on.”

“No I think my roommate might object. What with you killing visiting friends and all.”

“Huh. Unreasonable sort, eh?”

“On certain matters, yes.”

The Fridge – A Fiction

One day you buy this fridge for your house.  Get it off the internet for a nice price, the guy drops it off in your drive, and so on and so forth.  No big deal.

The fridge itself isn’t anything special.  Just a fridge.  Upper section freezer, lower section refrigerator goods.  White.  Just like the fridge your parents had, back in the day.

Only sometimes, when you pass the kitchen, you see this glow.  Right out of the corner of your eye.

Like the fridge door is open.  Only it’s not.  Never is.

Strange.  But the human mind is strange.  It’s also adaptable, so for a while, you put it out of your thoughts.  It’s just something that happens.  That’s all.

Then, maybe a month after you buy the fridge, it happens.  You see that glow in the corner of your eye, only this time when you turn your head, the glow stays.

It’s like the lower door has come off, revealing glowing golden light.

The longer you stare, the more you see.  It’s like peering out a window.  The glow is a sun, surrounded by fluffy white clouds.  It reminds you of a movie you watched once, or perhaps a clip of a movie.  But there are no ghosts, or, rather, no monsters near the sun.  It is just light and warmth and good.

Of course you’re walking towards it.  One step at a time.  Why wouldn’t you?

It is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen.

You enter the kitchen, and in an eternity that passes in an instant, you stand in front of the fridge.  You reach forward to touch that light, that glow, that warmth.

Only instead of touching it, you see your fingers suddenly bend back.  As if you’ve hit something hard.

Which you have.

The fridge door.

The glow is gone.  It was never there to begin with.  Just the white door, so plain, so average.

The rest was an illusion.  A hallucination.

Maybe it should disturb you.

Instead, it just disappoints.

Strange, but this time you can’t just let it go.

You go about your days, work at your job, and when you’re not busy you think about it.  Think about what you lost.

What you lost.  What does that even mean?  You lost nothing you never had before.

Yet the feeling remains.  You lost.

Weeks pass.  Then it happens again.  The light in the corner of your eye.  The door gone, revealing that wondrous look into elsewhere.  The thoughtless steps forward.  And all ended with watching that jarring touch, the fingers banging on the fridge door.

It’s worse this time.  So very, very disappointing.

Now it’s all you can think about.  Disturbing, this.  You have to force it out of your head to do your job, to drive your car.  Once you sit through a green light as you fantasize about touching that light, that wondrous, wondrous light.

There’s something wrong with that.  Yet you can’t make yourself stop.  You can’t even make yourself seek help.

But in this mental confusion comes an idea.

The fridge door is there.  Always.

But what if, and you have no idea where this notion came from just that it sounds right, but what if instead of reaching forward without thought, you felt around where the door handle is.  Why not try opening the door while viewing the light?

It seems so right.

It seems so wrong.

Never mind that.  The next time it happens, about a week later, you go through all the steps.  Eagerly.  And as you walk towards the fridge (never stopping, never quite of your own volition) you reach out.

You fingers brush the door hand, and as you aren’t looking at it you can feel it, yet not see it.  The glow remains, bright and warm before you.

You force yourself to step back (odd how it is now easy to do, so easy to do) and pull the door open.  There might be a blink, a flash of something white, but it’s gone now.

All that remains is the glow.

That glow.

That wonderful glow.

You reach forward, a hopeful (hopeless) smile upon your face.

And, as your fingers near, the glow changes.  Rotates around on an imaginary axis.

All this time, all you’ve seen it the back of the glow.  Now it is facing you.

Facing.  You.

With eyes and nose and mouth.  Especially the mouth.

The smirking wide mouth.

Your lips twist with screams unheard as you reach forward, for there is something terrible about that face, how happy it is, how joyous.  And as it opens its mouth wider to first let your fingers in and then your hand, all you can think of is how sharp its teeth look.

How cold.

The Apparition – A Fiction

In lieu of anything else to say, here’s a short short I wrote in February.  It’s not the greatest, but hey.  It keeps the blog going.

He had driven past the cemetery for almost twenty years and hardly thought of it in all that time, much less look at it. When he did, all he saw was row and row of gray stone and the occasional statue worn smooth by the passing of time. He would think, “What a waste of good property.” And then he wouldn’t think of it again until the next time, long after.

This night should have been the same. Maybe a little different; his mistress had come back to town after a long absence taking care of an ailing mother. Through it all he had to bear up under the ministrations of his wife, which had never been much in earlier times and even worse now. Now that the mother had cacked it, he intended to make up for lost time.

So he was doing a little speeding, okay a lot of speeding, say sixty in a forty. He had a nice, fast car, sporting colors, and it felt good to trot it out once in a while. Had he his druthers he’d be doing more. In fact, with the thrill of the ride and the promise of the mistress, perhaps he would do a little more.

His foot pressed down against the gas, and now he was at the cemetery, almost to his work during the day, almost to the mistress now, and his head turned its direction. Not that he expected to see anything, not in this dark. The city had cut back on lit street lights to save money and the moon refused to move from behind the clouds. Still, what was there to see but a waste of good property?

Except there was something there. Something more. A bright pale shape beside the cemetery fence. Almost as soon as he realized he was seeing something, the apparition moved, tearing through the air at an incredible speed, straight for him. As it neared he saw in its pale glow blackness instead of eyes, blackness instead of a gaping mouth. The blackness was so malign that without thought he twisted the steering wheel of his fine car, twisted it hard without even the thought of slowing down.

The car flipped over.

How many times it rolled, he could not say.

Oblivion claimed him a moment.

When he returned, he was in the ruins of a car. Parts of him hurt; what didn’t felt horribly, horribly numb. He thought he was dying.

Perhaps it would have been better if he was.

He turned his head and saw the apparition looking in on him. It stood upright, yet bent at an impossible angle to leer in upon him.

To stare at him with that malign black eyes.

To grin at him with that malign black mouth.

A thousand thoughts assailed him at once. To pray not to die, to survive, to be forgiven for his infidelity and for the thousand of sins both little and small that he committed in his life.

But instead of giving voice to these pleas he asked the apparition one of the world’s oldest question: “Why?”

The answer came as a single amused word. “Lonely.”

In time the paramedics and police came. As they worked, none of them noticed the two pale shapes standing nearby on the other side of the cemetery fence.