The Hidden — Chapter 22: THE GIRDING — T.D. Barton & Derek Barton

 LG 2

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO:  THE GIRDING

Nate burst from the woods at a dead run. The sky had gone completely dark and he couldn’t see ten feet ahead of himself. In the open space of the bean field, crickets were joining their voices in an insane sing-song chorus that accompanied his mad flight toward the tree line. The rhythmic susurration rang in his ears, ebbing and swelling along with his ragged breathing, and punctuated by the booming of his over-taxed heart. With each frantic stride, his legs made a loud swishing sound, driving their way through the dry, clinging plants.

The breeze was growing stronger, building as the storm approached. It sang in the trees, bending and tossing them wildly. He tried not to look behind, afraid of what he might see pursuing him, and concentrated, instead, on the line of trees he could just barely make out in the dark, standing against the blustery sky. They represented everything to him. They meant safety and freedom — the chance to regroup and, at long last, to do something to save his wife. All his hopes rested upon the chance that he could make those trees unmolested.

Alone and naked beneath this vast darkening sky, he began to wonder what chance there would be that Chirkah would allow this. Surely he was playing right into the wily beast’s plans. In the dim light, the trees seemed to dance farther and farther away, and his hopes swam farther out of reach with them. Every fiber of his being strained to reach this haven before Chirkah’s pack of wild dogs overtook him. Now that he’d left his sanctuary, he was certain that was their intention — to catch him off-guard and out in the open before he could make the tree line. As he ran, he half expected one of the hideous beasts to arise and leap upon him tooth and claw. After all, why would they leave this field unguarded? Amidst the rows of soybean plant, he could swear he saw their humped backs lurking and waiting for just the right moment to spring their heinous ambush.

He raced madly across the field, not bothering to follow the rows, but cutting a diagonal path directly toward the nearest tree. His breath was coming in great gulps, and his lungs burned with the effort. Dry as sandpaper, his throat was raw and scratchy, and each time he swallowed, it threatened to close up, leaving him choking and gasping for air. Nevertheless, his feet fairly flew, and in a very short time, he was nearing the fence row and the welcoming trees. As he approached, he did a very foolhardy thing. He slowed, somewhat, his head-long dash and looked around behind him. Had one of Chirkah’s pack been at his heels, as he suspected, he would have given up any chance of outdistancing them with this maneuver. As luck would have it, though, he was alone in the bean field — at least for the time being.

Wheezing, his aching chest nearly bursting, he leaned against one of the trees and tried to catch his breath. In the dark of the field, he buried his face in the crook of an arm and wrestled with fatigue and terror. At the same time, all he could think of was the fact that he had left Zelda in there, all alone, with those fiends. What terrors might she be experiencing at this very moment? Time was running away from him and he physically couldn’t move fast enough to suit himself.

Nate’s heart was hammering against his rib-cage and his head was light and out of control as he swiveled around and leaned his back against the tree, looking out across the open expanse of the fields. With a shrug, he lurched away from the tree and began staggering rapidly down the fence row toward the clearing. His numbed feet tangled in the weeds, growing there along the edge of the field. They refused to do his bidding, dragging along clumsily. It felt as though he had two wooden blocks strapped to his legs and he tripped repeatedly. Still, he persevered, and he kept moving along the fence row, toward their camp-sight. Looking up, he could see stars in a few clear patches of the night sky. But most of the sky was covered in fast-moving clouds. Dark and ominous looking, they blanked out a good sixty percent of the sky and he could see the vast shadows they cast sweeping in waves across the bean fields. He paid no attention to this, however, as his eyes constantly swept the surrounding night in search of danger. His nerves were dangerously close to overload, and panic had him jumping and cringing at shadows.

When, at last, he reached the clearing, he could see that everything was gone. The tent, the sleeping bags, even the campfire, all traces of their camp had been removed. Should someone come this way, there would be no evidence of the drama that had unfolded here. The Kophet-kur was very thorough indeed.

However, the beasts did have one failing working against them — their inability to climb trees. As Nate nervously gazed about the clearing, he saw the backpack hanging right where he had left it, amidst the branches of a sycamore tree; and it swayed and bobbed in the wind. With a little cry, he raced over and climbed up in the tree to retrieve it. The nylon strapping hung up in some small branches and he had a hard time shaking it loose, but eventually, he had it in his arms and he stood in the middle of the clearing, digging through the contents.

The first thing he removed from the pack was the brand-new canteen. It was practically full, and he took a long pull at its cold, soothing contents. Tossing aside his fear for the moment, he closed his eyes and relished the feeling of it replenishing his body. Suddenly, he sensed a luminescence beyond his closed lids and he flipped his eyes open. The entire clearing was flooded with light, approaching the clarity of daytime. For a moment, he was disoriented and his mind failed to comprehend the alien scene. Then, looking up, he saw that the clouds had blown on, leaving a full moon shining brightly from the cold heavens, and bathing the world in a ghostly white radiance. The moon stood almost at zenith, and a bright fairy ring encircled it, bestowing a magical effect on the night sky. At the limit of this lunar corona, a spray of stars was scattered about, reaching down to the horizon. This far from any lights, they appeared almost low enough to touch. Many twinkled steadily, their distant light flickering like tiny candles in a soft breeze. Others danced in bright bands, sending their steady glow from distant galaxies to swirl like sparkling dust in the blackness.

Normally, he would have appreciated the beauty of such a sky; but not on this night. He was beyond the capability for registering aesthetics. Thirst, hunger, fear, and fatigue had reduced him to his primal essence. He was a man stripped to aboriginal urges — the need to slake his thirst, satisfy his hunger and exact revenge upon those who had stolen his woman. The centuries of civilization that had shaped Nate Malone as the man he was had been peeled away, layer by layer, leaving him naked and alone, and seething with primitive fury. His primary concern was girding himself for the return to the forest that he might rescue Zelda from the clutches of these savage beasts.

With this thought in mind, he again plunged into the backpack, retrieving his flashlight and some matches. They were of the wooden variety — blue tip “Ohio” matches that would light when struck upon any rough surface. He bit his lip, grimly and shoved them into the pocket of his jeans. In the bottom of the pack, he found the remainder of their food. There was a chunk of a summer sausage, some cheese, and a few crackers. These he made short work of, gobbling huge bites of the sausage and cheese and stuffing his mouth full of the dry crackers. He washed it all down with the remainder of the water and tossed the canteen aside. One more glance into the backpack turned up a ripe red apple, which disappeared in just a few bites. After a time, Nate was rested sufficiently to begin preparing to return.

All during this time, he’d been keeping a vigilant eye, in case the Kophet-kur were sneaking up to surround him in the shadows of the nearby fields. The wind had died down considerably, and the night was relatively quiet, save for the buzzing of insects. In fact, except for the occasional distant flashes of “heat lightning” in the distance, almost all traces of the storm that had appeared imminent just a few moments before had blown away. Nate had spent enough time in Indiana, however, to know how fast its weather can change and he wouldn’t be surprised if the storm kicked up again, more fiercely than ever.

It was time to head back. He bent to tighten his boot-laces, gathered up his supplies, tossed the backpack aside and turned down the fence row toward the forest. Along the way, he picked up a branch about the thickness of his wrist and began paring limbs from it with his pocket knife. When he had stripped it pretty well clean, he broke it off by standing on one end and lifting the other. This left him with a staff that could be used to defend himself, somewhat. Acting upon a sudden inspiration, he stopped and lashed his knife to the staff, forming a spear, and his transformation to primitive hunter was virtually complete. He hefted the spear in his right hand and set his jaw, the warrior preparing to do battle in defense of his mate. His strength and determination were returning in direct proportion with his confidence. He tossed the hair back out of his eyes, squared his shoulders, and continued on.

As he approached the forest, he heard something that made him stop dead in his tracks; and all of this new-found courage drained from his spirit like water through a sieve. Dimly at first, and then louder and stronger, the sound of howling came drifting through the air. The eerie sound chilled him to his bones as he stood on the edge of the dark forest. The branches of the trees loomed above him, rustling and creaking ominously in the gentle breeze. Ghastly howls wafted from the forest and curled like the cold coils of a snake around his heart. In his mind, they recalled the negative images of canine lust and vicious, frothing jaws — ripping and tearing flesh with frenzied passion. His subconscious pictured dark, wolf-like shapes squatting on their haunches in some haunted, lonely, forsaken place, yellow eyes casting malevolent gleams while they wailed their hunting cries in the night. The dark, shadowy trees reached out and beckoned him in to meet his doom. In his mind’s eye he could imagine the horrid creatures, waiting just within the shadowy edge of the forest, their wicked little eyes trained upon him and gleaming, hungrily.

As he thought about this possibility, the spear in his hand became what it was — a broken limb with a pocket knife tied to one end. What kind of defense could it offer against the powerful jaws and huge hulking bodies of the Kophet-kur? He must be mad to even think of returning to the stygian gloom of this haunted forest. The image of Chirkah, bloody jaws agape and standing astraddle the vivisected body of the woman in the clearing flashed before his eyes. And he remembered the feeling of sharp canine teeth ripping their way into his skin — the excruciating pain as powerful jaws clamped down and jerked this way and that, lacerating his flesh and stripping it from his bones.

Suddenly Nate wanted nothing more than to turn around and run as fast as his legs would carry him. He was seized by the almost uncontrollable desire to forget everything and flee — leaving Zelda and the Kophet-kur and the farm — to run back down the path and jump in his Lexus and drive as fast and as far from this terrible place as he could. The unearthly howling called to him: “Come home… come… home…” But, rather than enticing him, it repulsed him and drove him nearly mad with fear. He shook with the effort to beat back the panic and regain control.

Clamping his hands ineffectively over his ears, Nate forced himself to think of Zelda and the unfortunate woman the monsters had devoured in the clearing. He concentrated on the thought that he may yet be able to spare Zelda from a similar fate if he could just bolster his courage enough to enter the forest and continue his plan. With a deep shuddering breath, he dragged himself closer to the forest edge. Once he’d crossed the threshold and was within the darkened interior, he felt a little better. Ignoring the maniacal wailing of the Kophet-kur, he forged ahead, following the sound, in hopes that it would lead him, at last, to their lair.

The interior to the deep woods was dark as death. The wind, as he had predicted was again picking up and it whooshed through the branches overhead, tossing the limbs about wildly. The trees themselves reminded hum of dancers in some ancient, macabre ceremony. They tossed their long, bony arms over their heads and shook them while staring through the eyes of dark, glowering death-masks. He pulled out the flashlight and flipped on the switch. The yellow beam seemed impossibly meager when compared to the vast black emptiness of the forest. He swung it about, frantically searching for a trail that he might follow through the underbrush.

At last, he saw what looked like an opening in the trees, and he forced his way through a patch of wild raspberry briars which clutched at his jeans. The brambles threatened to send him sprawling amongst them where their sharp little spines would rip and catch at his clothing and skin, but he maintained his footing long enough to reach the trail.

All kinds of night sounds accompanied him as he made his way along the trail, and he steeled himself for the moment when one of the Kophet-kur would spring from behind a tree. Amidst the gloom, he could see tiny eyes glowing, either reflecting the beam of his flashlight or with an inner phosphorescence of their own. Occasionally, he would swing the beam around to shine it upon a set of these sinister orbs. There would be nothing to see, but he could hear some denizen of the nocturnal forest go crashing off into the shadows faster than his eyes could adjust. For the most part, though, he forced himself to concentrate on the trail ahead and keep his mind on his mission.

Through it all, the ghastly howling continued, providing a nightmarish soundtrack to his quest. It began to ebb and flow, beginning in long, ululating wails which seemed to be issuing from one individual, and building to a horrendous, cacophony, as more and more voices, joined in. Each additional voice added its own particular lilt to the cries and together they swelled the howling to a vast symphony like one might expect to hear about the gates of perdition. Indeed, to Nate’s tortured mind, the caterwauling appeared to be emanating directly from the hosts of hell. Still, he continued on into the bowels of this vast, leafy citadel.

Suddenly, he froze as he heard something stirring in the brush to his left. He doused the light and held his breath, not daring to move. With the beam from his torch broken off, darkness pressed in from all sides, and he could almost feel it running its velvety soft hands over his face and eyes. He strained his ears to catch an indication of what had made the sounds, but all he heard was the gathering wind and the creaking of branches. After some time, he gathered up his nerve and flipped the light on again, casting it about defensively to his left. Immediately the sounds returned. There was definitely something running through the thicket; and whatever it was, it sounded larger than your typical woodland creature. This was no squirrel or opossum, out for an evening stroll. Whatever it was made a lot of noise (stealth was not its strong suit) and it was coming directly toward him at a very rapid pace.

Nate again extinguished his light, and the crashing continued for a little bit but then came to a halt. He thought for a moment, his heart flailing away in his chest. Whatever this thing was, it was definitely homing in on his beam of light. Feeling about in the dark, he found a small sapling beside the trail and wedged the flashlight into its branches. Backing away a pace, he leaned out and flipped on the switch, then retreated behind a nearby tree. There, he clutched his spear tightly, and peered into the dark to see what would appear. The noise began again, and there was no doubt, it was getting closer. Suddenly, the creature emerged into the light and for a time Nate’s befuddled mind could not bring it into cognizance. It was a wild-looking beast with large, flashing eyes and tangled, matted hair standing in a frizzled main about its head and shoulders. It stood upright on two legs and it cast its gaze this way and that, apparently extremely agitated.

With a small cry of shock, Nate stepped from behind the tree. This was no creature of the night, it was a badly frightened little girl. He strode rapidly toward her where she stood blinking in the glare of the light.

When she heard him, Susie cast a horrified glance in his direction and bolted off into the woods.

“Wait!” Nate called after her. “I won’t hurt you!… I promise.” She continued to flee. His mind cast about desperately for something to say that would bring her back. “My name is Nate… I’M HUMAN!”

The girl drew up short. Slowly, cautiously, she turned around, peering back in the direction of the light. Nate plucked it from its place in the sapling and held it high over his own head, illuminating his face. He smiled, trying gamely to produce a look that would convey confidence and friendship.

The howling continued.

Nate forced himself to move slowly as he dropped to one knee and held his arms out, invitingly, to the little girl. “It’s okay, sweetheart,” he said soothingly. “Come on, I’ll take you home.”

Susie rushed to his arms and buried herself in his embrace. In the dim glow of the flashlight he looked very much like her father, and by this time, she was ready to trust anyone — as long as they were human. It felt wonderful to feel his strong arms go about her and crush her to his chest. She was enveloped in a sense of security she had come to believe she would never experience again. With it came the need to let everything out — all the fear and the torture and the pain.

She wept.

Great wracking sobs swept through her tiny body as Nate held her close and patted her softly. He whispered reassurances and repeatedly kissed her forehead. He was somewhat surprised to feel tears coursing down his own cheeks as he thought of the hell this poor little girl must have endured. At last, her sobs began to subside somewhat, coming slower and less frequently, like the last few drops of water from a pitcher.

When he felt her grow silent in his embrace, Nate pulled back and looked at her. He offered the flashlight for her to hold and she took it with a brave little smile.

“Can you tell me your name?” he asked her.

Susie nodded and told him.

“Hi, Susie. My name is Nate Malone…”

“I know. You’re Zelda’s husband. She told me about you.”

Nate became suddenly excited. “You talked with Zelda? Where is she?… Is she all right?” He took Susie by the shoulders and looked anxiously into her face.

Susie wrinkled her brow. “You’re not dead. Zelda thought they ate you.”

Nate thought for a moment. He was going to have to get this little girl to safety, somehow. But, in order to do that, he would have to again delay his attempt to rescue Zelda. How was he going to work this one out? Susie interrupted his puzzling to ask a question.

“Are you here to help Zelda?”

Nate looked at this brave little girl and his heart melted. Zelda was right, they should have had children. “That’s right, sweetie. Can you tell me how to find her?”

Susie shook her head. “But I can take you to the cave where the monsters live. That’s where they all are right now.” She looked off into the darkness of the forest. “They’re the ones making that sound… hear it?”

Her voice took on a mysterious undertone, as though she were speaking with the experience of the ages, rather than the brashness of youth. A far-off, haunted look spread over her face and she intoned: “The Kophet-kur are singing to the moon… ‘for the moon is our pilot… we sing… we sing’…”

Gooseflesh broke out on Nate’s forearms and a shiver ran up his spine. He’d heard those words before, and to hear them coming from the lips of this innocent child seemed a type of unholy blasphemy that he could not abide. He shook her gently and she snapped back into focus, looking at him expectantly.

“I’ll take you to her,” she said simply, and she started down the trail into the darkness toward the howling of the Kophet-kur.

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Wishful Thinking — The SEQUEL! — Derek Barton

interior theatre

Back in February of 2017, I wrote a little blog, Wishful Thinking, which was a whimsical fantasy movie casting of my characters from my first book, Consequences Within Chaos.  I did a small bio of each of the characters and a slideshow of who I would pick to play the characters.

You guessed it…you are already ahead of me.  I am going to do it again, but this time for The Bleeding Crown.  Now some of the major characters in the sequel were creatures, so suffice it to say, I will only be highlighting the humans.  Also, I will give some updated bios on characters from the last book.  I will warn you now there are some SPOILERS FOR CONSEQUENCES WITHIN CHAOS that could be learned here…So, if you want to stop now, go buy and read the book first, I won’t be mad ya at all. (hint, hint 🙂 )

 

THE BLEEDING CROWN

 

LETANDRA ARTADEUS  —  Georgie Henley

letandra-artadeus

During the fierce battle between Prince Taihven and the Pale Mage, Auste Cros’seau, the Lady Magistrate was magically kidnapped and taken away.  Now she must struggle to survive in a foreign land on her own.  While she waits for rescue, she has no idea if Wyvernshield has even won against Auste or his terrible army of Viestrahl beasts. She will form new alliances and strengths, but in the end, she learns she has no time left — the future hangs in the balance on her efforts.

TAIHVEN ARTADEUS  —  Andrew Garfield

taihven-artadeus

Prince Taihven, having proven himself more than capable and resourceful in the battle against Auste, was crowned King of Tayneva.  However, the heavy cost he paid to keep the Artadeus Throne, weighs heavily upon him.  The city is partially in ruins, his parents are dead, his sister missing, and a deadly plague continues to haunt the citizenry.  After losing his entire family, he succumbs to depression and loses faith that they will find Princess Letandra. More trials lay ahead for him which will test him like never before.

CHROYANNE CROS’SEAU  — Michelle Trachtenberg

M Trachtenberg

History has been washed clean of her vile family’s name, but Chroyanne Cros’seau has been freed of her own Soul Render in Aberrisc.  With the help of a mysterious magical artifact, The Bleeding Crown, Chroyanne has become an incredible terror in the land.  She hopes that her Quietus Dominion and her own armies will make her brother proud when he returns or calls for her to join him in Tayneva.

TALIAH   —  Isla Fisher

taliah

Regretting her role as an unwilling spy for the Viestrahl and Auste Cros’seau, the exiled maid, Taliah, has found her place in the world as a Blood Seeress.  She has been taken in by the Khestal Ezan Order, a group dedicated to stopping the evil machinations of the Cult of Beleardea.  She uses her newfound powers of prophetic visions to help them and outsiders with questions that keep their lives in turmoil.

LLASHER  —  Nestor Carbonell

llasher

Barely surviving his own encounter with the Pale Mage, the ex-slaver, LLasher, has dedicated his second chance at life to prove he was worthy of that effort and redeeming himself.  His first steps toward that goal are trying to track down the wayward Princess Letandra.  He will find this path will take him to many dangerous regions as well as making forced alliances with the dangerous Viestrahl.

HUMPHREYS  — Steven Ogg

S Ogg.jpeg

As LLasher’s First Mate aboard the Corrta Da’Eale, Humphreys has sailed to many places within the world, but this hunt for Princess Letandra will even surprise this experienced world traveler.  Always quick with a sarcastic word or wide grin, he will stick loyally at LLasher’s side no matter the crazy odds…and that he gets well paid.

RASHAD RUESSARD  — Josh Hutcherson

J Hutcherson

Rashad paid the same cost of losing a family member during the Viestrahl’s last Horde March as King Taihven.  This helps the two bond and form a strong partnership.  As the new Wyvernguard Captain, it has been a challenge, but when a new threat emerges in the form of Pirate Captain Tarsk, the soldier’s mettle is truly tested.

AMA’YEN — Nadine Njeim

amayen-2

As a powerful sorceress, Ama’yen can offer a lot to her new queen, Chroyanne.  However, when she learns of Princess Letandra and the connection the princess has to Chroyanne’s past, she wonders if an opportunity is forming.  Inspired by the love that Letandra has for Taihven, she contemplates a plan of her own to rescue her own brothers being held hostage.

TAL CROWAN  — Michio Kaku

M Kaku

As the founder and dedicated leader of the Khestal Ezan, Tal has recruited a unique band of warriors, mages, spies, and even a Blood Seeress to his cause against the Beleardea Cult members as they peddle evil and cursed artifacts to the desperate or depraved in Tayneva.  These ruthless fanatics are building influence and wealth in an endeavor to resurrect an eldritch god of unlimited power.

PIRATE CAPTAIN TARSK  — Tom Hardy

T Hardy

Known as Captain Tarsk the Torch, this sadistic pirate sees an opportunity in the weakened condition of Wyvernshield and its armed forces.  Seizing upon the moment, he and his allies strike with surgical precision, cutting off Taihven and Rashad from any assistance.  As a seasoned veteran of battle, King Taihven finds himself outmatched and up against a foe unlike any other he has ever faced.

RIVYEN  — Josh Upshaw

J Upshaw

Although he is a lost warrior from another plane of existence, Rivyen brings a unique perspective as well as a wealth of knowledge to Tal Crowan.  He has become a critical part to the Khestal Ezan’s structure. Together they have pledged to stop the Beleardea and find their hidden Veraera Vault of cursed items the cult has accumulated.  Some of those items belong to Rivyen’s own people — he knows just how destructive some of those items can be including The Bleeding Crown!

If you have read The Bleeding Crown, I hope you got a little kick out of this as I did.  I wish some of the other characters like Scars and Ka Shayla could’ve been represented, but I guess, you will just have to read the book!  This book was an amazing thrill for me to write, and I am excited to bring you the next adventures in Tayneva and Aberrisc soon!

The Hidden — Chapter 21: THE BIRTH — T.D. BARTON & DEREK BARTON

TH 21

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE:  THE BIRTH

 

Zelda awoke to the sound of hushed voices chattering excitedly in the dimly lit chamber. She rolled over on one side and peered owlishly around the room, trying to get a grasp on the situation. Her mind was fuzzy with sleep and she strove to shake off the cobwebs. It was as though her head was stuffed with a great, fluffy cotton ball that had been dipped in Novacaine, swabbing her brain with numbness.

She struggled to draw aside the curtain and make some sense of her surroundings. In a moment, everything came rushing back to her, and her mind reeled with the events of the day. Nate was dead — Susie too. And she was being held captive by a pack of ghoulish beasts and half-crazy women who willingly copulated with them. The insanity of it all defied belief; but, as much as she desperately needed to believe it was all just a dream, the torchlight gleaming on the wings of the bats above forced her to accept reality.

The mat she rested on was infested with lice, and she itched in places she could not scratch. This was aggravated by the wool fabric of the sweater Lynette had given her.

Speaking of Lynette, where was she?

Tossing aside the dirty blanket, Zelda sat up and felt a rush of pain as her pulse throbbed heavily in her swollen lips. Her tongue came out to lick tentatively at the crust of dried blood lining her mouth. She tried to spit, but couldn’t muster the saliva.

Blinking rapidly, she turned her attention to a group of women gathered around a mat on the opposite side of the room, and she temporarily abandoned her search for Lynette. Something of import must be happening there, because all of the women appeared excited, bustling around and scurrying back and forth in a semi-circle about the mat. Several of the torches had been clustered together, and they bathed the little group in a dirty yellow light, but robbed the rest of the room, casting it into darkness. Zelda assumed that Lynette must be amongst these women.

She dragged herself up on unsteady legs and slowly crossed the room. All along, she kept a wary eye open, searching for signs of Alice. Big as a palace… and ugly as a phallus! she thought, and she smiled in spite of herself. The smile stretched her injured mouth and she winced. No one stopped her, however, as she approached the crowd and leaned in close so as to see over the shoulders of the women.

On a crusty mat, against the wall, lay a woman in advanced labor. Sweat stood out heavily on her face and trickled down her arms and neck. She was in the midst of “bearing down”, and her features were distorted as she grimaced, holding her breath. Lynette was acting as midwife, squatting between the woman’s legs and waiting expectantly for the appearance of the child. She wore a worried but determined look as she concentrated her attention on the opening to the birth canal.  Her gray hair hung in strands down the middle of her face. Zelda thought she looked nearly as miserable as the young mother. Her shift had slipped low on one shoulder and she was sweating too.

Suddenly the mother-to-be expelled a great burst of air and lay back gasping and wheezing. The entire group relaxed somewhat, as the woman panted and smiled weakly, the contraction having ended.

Zelda searched the gathering of anxious faces, looking for Alice, but she was nowhere to be seen. Apparently, birthing didn’t interest her. Then Lynette saw Zelda and called to her, “Zelda! Come closer.” Zelda stepped in to stand next to the midwife. She could see the woman was dilated and that birth was imminent.

“Ginny, this is Zelda,” Lynette said casually, as though she was introducing friends at a cocktail party. She addressed Zelda, her voice full of pride and controlled excitement. “Ginny is about to give birth for the cause. It will be her first!” She waited expectantly for Zelda’s response.

“How nice for her,” was all Zelda could muster, but it seemed to satisfy Lynette. In spite of Zelda’s rebuffs and snide comments, she seemed unwilling to believe that anyone could oppose the cause. Rather, like most fanatics, she was inclined to think everyone shared her enthusiasm. She beamed happily at Zelda and then returned to her work.

Ginny shared that look of inspired excitement as she smiled at Zelda, although it was tinged with a bit of fear and pain in the midst of her labor. A wisp of hair hung over her right eye and she blew it aside, shaking her head. Suddenly she gasped as another contraction struck her and her attention returned to the birth.

Zelda was forced to consider the strange effects of fanaticism and marveled at the way it held its followers in its iron grip. She thought this must be what it is like in a religious cult. She shook her head sadly as she mused over the fact that the victims were always the young and the willing — those whose endeavors if properly directed, could make such a difference in the world. Instead, it always seemed some ruthless or unstable person won their loyalties, and they followed him blindly, pinning their dreams on one lost cause or another.

While Zelda was lost in her wool-gathering, the baby was making its entry into the world. “I can see its head!” Lynette announced excitedly, and sure enough, Zelda saw the pink little cranium poking its way out into the torchlight. “Now’s the time… push, honey… PUSH!” Lynette cheered Ginny on.

The young woman gulped in a huge breath of air and bore down with all her might. Veins protruded, thick and purplish, across her neck and a small one stood out, pulsing rapidly, at her temple. Zelda held her breath in sympathy and leaned over, unconsciously craning her neck to see. With a rush, the baby entered the world, sliding out to be safely cradled in Lynette’s experienced hands.

Little cries of delight escaped the women gathered to watch in the light of the torches, and the baby was welcomed with cheers and applause. Zelda smiled broadly, in spite of herself, the instinct of motherhood moving strongly upon her soul.

She turned to gaze happily at the woman who crowded in next to her.  Surprised and a little horrified, she found it was Alice. Alice’s ugly, hairy face didn’t share the look of wonder that shone upon Zelda’s. Instead, Zelda saw she was contemplating her malevolently, glowering at her through swollen, puffy eyes. With a quick jerk of her head, she indicated that Zelda follow her as she withdrew from the crowd of excited ladies. Anxious about receiving another drubbing at the hands of this brute, she knew she had to follow. With a shrug, she moved away, leaving the excited Lynette to cut the umbilical.

Alice sat on a rock outcropping beneath the sputtering flame of a torch. Her elbows rested on her knees and her hands hung limply before her. The frowzy mop of hair hung down from her head and all Zelda could see was her glowing eyes shining from the shadows that masked her face. She stared somberly off into the distance as though something weighed heavily upon her mind.

As Zelda approached, she saw those beady little eyes swivel in their sockets to watch her every move. Alice was gross to look at, but she was nobody’s fool. She had fought hard to be the boss hog of this lot, and she wasn’t about to let anybody get the slightest start in usurping that position. Alice looked like an enormous, evil toad — one with a sly plan to get the princess to kiss him and transform him into a handsome prince, if only so that he might have all the gold for himself.

Zelda stopped about four feet from Alice. Owing to her respect for the speed the large woman had exhibited before, she gave herself plenty of room to duck, should the need arise. Alice appeared to have no intentions of slugging her and returned to gazing, glassy-eyed, into the distance, and she ignored the woman standing before her.

After a few minutes had passed in silence, Zelda cleared her throat and spoke, “You wanted something?” She tried to sound both bored and tough, hoping the fear wouldn’t show in her voice, but she felt like a little girl, trembling in the principal’s office.

Alice’s eyes rolled to regard her and they gave her a once-over, cursory glance. “Sit down,” she said. The timbre of her voice was low and guttural, punctuated with a slow southern drawl.

She reached into a small earthen pot at her feet and pulled something from it. Regarding the object for a moment, she then popped it into her mouth and held it, pinched between her thumb and forefinger, while she gnawed upon it. “I need to ask you a favor.” She spoke around the object in her fingers, and it came out sounding like “… athk you a thabor.”

Suddenly there was a loud, “crack!” as one of Alice’s dark remaining teeth broke through whatever she was gnawing on. With a slurping sound, she sucked something from it and munched, contemplatively. After a moment, she swallowed and tossed the remains on the floor. In the torchlight, Zelda could see it was a snail shell and her stomach did a slow roll. Alice reached back into the pot.

“Word has it that you belong to Chirkah… that right?” her cold face turned toward Zelda for a moment and froze in a mask. She awaited the reply.

“So they tell me.” Zelda’s answer was cautious, and slow in coming.

Alice nodded her shaggy head and popped another snail.

“Chirkah is the pack leader, you know.” The empty shell fell to the floor with a light clacking sound. “Whatever he says… goes. Could be a good position to be in, know what I mean?”

“No, I don’t think I do.” was Zelda’s honest reply.

Alice looked at her for a moment and then spoke, sounding a bit annoyed at having to explain the obvious. “Listen, honey, they make a big deal about humping for the cause and all that, but, comes right down to it, they’re just like any other man. They like to have their pole greased now and then, get it?” She leered for a moment at Zelda, making the younger woman feel a bit disgusted.

“Only difference is, these bastards treat a woman like a woman — none of that namby-pamby romance shit. They just slap you down and stick it in.” She squeezed off a sly wink. “Just as well, saves all that fake orgasm stuff on our parts, eh?” She snickered lewdly and wiped a greasy hand across her mouth.

Zelda remained silent, having no idea what kind of response she was supposed to make to a remark like that.

Alice loudly cleared her throat and continued. “Anyway, the thing is, you treat Chirkah right, and he might be willing to grant some favors on his own, see?” Alice didn’t wait for an answer. “Here’s what you ask: I been wantin’ to get outta these-here caves and get back inta town again. I’ve done had me a whole batch of their little brats, and I got lots of ‘em that’re doin’ good work. Now I think I proved myself pretty good, and its time they let me go inta town and dig up some shit on my own, see?”

Zelda did see. Alice was getting close to the end of her child-bearing years. Maybe she was there already. Soon, the Kophet-kur would decide she was no longer any help to “the cause” and would get rid of her. She doubted that they had any retirement plans or homes for the aged stashed away down here. No doubt Alice would be swiftly and unmercifully dealt with in typical Kophet-kur fashion. They would show about as much compassion for her as she was showing for the snails she was so heartily slurping down.

Alice was scared.

Zelda smiled to herself, but she showed Alice her best poker face. She thought there might be some way to use this to her advantage, and she decided to hear the old hag out. When she said nothing, Alice went on. A crooked, forced grin split her ugly features as she attempted to put on a chummy attitude. Zelda thought how unnatural a smile of any kind looked on those lips.

“All I’m sayin’ is the next time you get a chance, you put in a good word for ol’ Alice — not the first time, you won’t be able to think of much at all the first time — maybe not even the second or third. I’m a patient woman… but not TOO patient.  One of these days soon, after you have shown him a real good time and he’s sittin’ back smilin’ to himself.  The cigarette break time, you know? You just start talkin’ to him about your ol’ friend down in the slave chambers and how she been doin’ such a good job here all these years. Tell him I could be real useful bringing information back and forth between him and his werewolf spies out there.”

“What’s in it for me?” Zelda asked, insolently.

The smile slipped from Alice’s pimply face. She glared menacingly for a long moment until Zelda worried she’d overplayed her hand. Finally, Alice shrugged and spoke.  “I’ll leave you alone,” she said simply.

“Not good enough,” Zelda pressed. “I need something more.”

Alice didn’t even look up, as though she’d seen this coming. She sat staring straight ahead and didn’t bat an eye. “You ain’t getting’ out if that’s what you think.”

“No, I realize even you couldn’t accomplish that. What I want is something much simpler: I want you to leave the rest of the women alone as well. Should I see you bullying one woman the way you acted with me earlier, all deals are off. See?”

Alice didn’t move and after a long time, she said, “Yeah.” There was no emotion in her voice, only flat acceptance. She’d been bested, no denying it, but she didn’t have to like the idea.

Zelda waited a moment for the pain to subside, and then played her trump card. “One more thing. Whenever you’re not here, I want it made clear that I am in charge. If I’m going to have to be stuck here as a slave, I might as well be top slave.” She held her breath, anxious to hear Alice’s response to her little ploy.

She hadn’t fooled the wily old woman for an instant.

“Bullshit.” Alice’s puffy eyes burned into her again. “You’re hopin’, as queen of the slaves, to get a better chance at escapin’. I can still smell the rabbit on ya, you ain’t foolin’ me one bit.” She chuckled to herself, hawked and spit. “Okay, I don’t give a shit what you do once I’m gone. They’ll just ketch you and roast yer ass anyway. Yer a feisty little bitch, I’ll give you that… Yeah, you got a deal.”

“Fine,” said Zelda.

Alice popped another snail between her fat lips and held the pot out in offering to Zelda, who declined it gracefully. “You ain’t got no idea who yer dealin’ with here, do ya?” Her eyes squinted even more, in the half shadows, but still Zelda could see an ominous glow, like two coals between her lids. It gave her the supernatural look of some demonic being, and she couldn’t return that gaze.

“These ain’t just some new kinda animal you’ve discovered, ya know. You ain’t Jane Goodall, livin’ with the chimps. These here are devils. As far back as man goes, we’ve known about ‘em. We’ve been pickin’ up their signals in our heads, just didn’t know how to put ‘em all together. You understand what I’m talkin’ about here? It’s good versus evil. That’s what its all about, this ‘great cause’. When I was little, my daddy read me the Bible every night before I went to bed. As I got a little older, he had other ideas ‘bout what to do at bed-time, sombitch. But, in the Bible, it talks about God casting Satan down outa heaven and him a-livin’ in the underworld. And it says that one day Satan and his devils are gonna come back and run the earth for a thousand years. Right?”

Zelda nodded stiffly.

“Then, it says God’s a-gonna come back and set up his kingdom, making everything right again. So, don’t you see? Chirkah IS Satan. The Fathers are God and his angels. Chirkah’s gonna win this here fight, and the earth is gonna be his until the angels do come back.  They’re gonna work with the Kofat-kurs to set up a paradise right here on earth. Later on, after things are runnin’ smooth here, they’re gonna take the faithful up to heaven with ‘em — heaven bein’ their own planet, get it? What I’m tellin’ you is right there in the Bible for everyone to read, if they’d just see it. Been there all along. Me, I’m plannin’ on bein’ one of the faithful, ‘cause I wanna live forever. I don’t give a shit whether it’s here on earth or some other planet. I don’t plan to ever pack it in… not this ol’ gal.”

She looked closely at Zelda, checking her reaction, but Zelda retained her expressionless poker face. “What you’re messin’ with here is something supernatural. And it’s for dang sure bigger’n anything you ever come across before. See, the Bible was all bullshit… it was just the way men, back in those days explained thing to each other. That story about Adam and Eve and all — you think anybody’s gonna believe that? But we’re talking about simple, uneducated people here. They were sheepherders and farmers and stuff. Hell, they didn’t even think the world was round back then. How you gonna talk to ‘em about other planets and space travel and such? Not to mention genetics and hybrids and like that. But every religion you can think of talks about the same kinds of things. The return of the Messiah and everything.”  She shook her head in amazement.

“And all along, we’re scaring our kids with stories about demons and werewolves. That’s because, in the back of our minds, we knew they were out there. Why you think people have always been afraid of wolves? Even today, when we know that wolves don’t hardly ever attack people, we’re still afraid of ‘em.” Here she lowered her voice and whispered, conspiratorially. “But it ain’t WOLVES we been afraid of, it’s the danged Kofat-kurs. THEY’RE the ones we got to watch out for…” Suddenly Alice cut her narrative short, as though she’d forgotten herself for a moment and now had regained control.

“Anyways,” she sniffed. “That’s the way I see it.”

Silence hung like a curtain in the air between them as Zelda digested Alice’s ideas. Finally, Zelda asked, “If the Kophet-kur are the chosen species, how are you planning on being selected as one of the faithful and getting to live forever?”

But, before big Alice could answer, a commotion from the women gathered around the torches caught their attention. The baby was squealing, and the women were all jabbering at the same time. There was an air of excitement that seemed to even effect Alice. She jumped to her feet and grabbed Zelda by the arm. “Holy shit!” she swore, and her foul breath wafted in Zelda’s face. “It’s time for the gathering… COME ON!”

She dragged Zelda bodily across the room, and when they reached the crowd of women, Alice roughly shoved some of them aside so that she and Zelda could see what was happening. “It’s the full moon,” Alice gasped excitedly. “You ain’t gonna believe this… just watch!”

And watch she did. The air of awestruck excitement was infectious. Zelda’s hands trembled and her face flushed hotly as she saw Lynette hold the new-born child high above her head in her blood-streaked hands. The little baby screamed and shivered in the cold, kicking its legs and flailing its arms. Suddenly, the women all fell silent as a strange, dark shadow passed over the child. At this point, even the baby’s wailing died down and the only sound to be heard was the flickering torches, popping and crackling.

Way off in the distance, Zelda thought she heard something else. It seemed to come from a dream she’d had something else. It seemed to come from a dream she’d had some time, she couldn’t remember when, but nonetheless, it was familiar and it filled her with a dread that touched her soul like a cold finger. The sound was howling. Raw, primitive and somehow provocative.  It drifted down the corridors of this underground hell and echoed in the even darker corners of her mind.

While the howling continued, she watched the baby change. Slow at first, and unreal, as though Zelda were imagining it. The skin darkened, growing from pink and shiny to a dull brown, with dark shadows in the wrinkled areas. The baby’s nose began to bulge, and it turned black at the end. Its little face narrowed, and its head flattened out, while it squirmed and kicked helplessly. Zelda watched its fingernails darken and grow to needle-sharp little claws, which it stretched and flexed, while hair began to sprout and cover its body.

The howling sounds grew louder, reverberating, doubling and trebling until they reached a crescendo of unearthly wailing which caused the hairs on the back of Zelda’s neck to stand on end. She gasped as the baby turned its head and opened its eyes. They had gone from the traditional new-born metallic blue to a deep blood red, and they fixed on hers. Long, sharp teeth sprouted between its lips and curled down on each side of its chin. Its jaws had elongated, stretching the baby’s face into something resembling a muzzle, and it drooled and grimaced convulsively. Its little ears had moved, sliding higher on its head and sprouting long, shaggy hair like that growing and lengthening into a full coat over its whole body. Zelda felt she would swoon as she looked down to the baby’s feet and saw they had split into cloven hooves, with horny black claws flashing in the torchlight.

This whole nightmare world of devils, monsters and werewolves was too much. She couldn’t accept it as reality. How could she go on coping with a world that had turned upside-down everything she had ever believed to be true? Her head spun with confusion as she tried to sort out the events, sights and sounds of this incredible day.

Lynette’s voice rang in her memory, You too will have the opportunity to serve, and once you have become pregnant with one of these beautiful children… Beautiful children? Was she destined to carry one of these grotesque little horrors in her womb? She recalled Alice’s admonition from before, You ain’t got no idea who yer dealin’ with here, do ya?… these here are devils!

The faces of the women swam in her vision as the torchlight cast its yellow, flickering glow upon them. They were chanting something softly and Lynette was standing with the baby in her arms. With mounting horror, Zelda realized Lynette was turning to her and holding it out for her inspection. Before she could react, it was thrust upon her and she looked down to see the transformation was complete. In her arms, she held a live, squirming, snarling werewolf cub.

Down the corridors of the cave and through its vast hollow caverns, the howling became a living entity, crawling and stalking ever closer. It dragged sharp claws, squealing along the stone walls. And in her overwrought mind, it seemed to call her name over and over again.

The baby wriggled in her arms and she saw Alice’s ogre-like face leering cruelly at her. “Ain’t he a beauty?” she laughed, contorting her face horribly. “Mamma said there’d be days like this… but I always figgered Mamma was just a negative thinker!”

Zelda’s legs melted into butter beneath her, and she felt someone snatch the misshapen bundle of fur and fangs from her arms just before she struck the cold surface of the floor.

More Book-Signings in November & December 2018!! — Derek Barton

On November 3rd @ 1:00 PM, I will be doing another book-signing event.  I would really love to see everyone and if you want to bring your books by, I will gladly sign them!

This unique Gaming/Book Store is located down the road from Thunderbird School of Global Management at:

4920 W Thunderbird Rd
Glendale, AZ 85306

 

 

 

On December 8th @ 12:00 PM, I will be at this more traditional bookstore.  This store is directly west of the Paradise Valley Mall next to the Target Store.

4322 E Cactus Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85032
(602) 482-4100

THANKS TO ALL OF YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT!  HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON!

Great Day @ Bookmans Exchange! — Derek Barton 2018

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First, I would like to thank everyone who made it out and showed me some lovin’!  Second, I do have good news for those that weren’t able to come by… I have another possible showing in November and a confirmed book-signing on December 8th!  More details will be announced once those are finalized.

 

Today’s winners for:

TWO PAPERBACKS OF THEIR CHOICE IS… Monica L.

IN FOUR DAYS AUDIOBOOK WINNER IS… Shaunna Arenas

CONSEQUENCES WITHIN CHAOS AUDIOBOOK WINNER IS… Brian Shurlow Jr

CONGRATS TO ALL WINNERS!

 

Tweet 2018

 

 

OH! And guess what? I WON TODAY TOO!

The management at Bookmans liked what they saw and have agreed to start stocking my books on their shelves!!  HOW AWESOME IS THAT??

 

 

2018 Indie Book Giveaway Winners!!! — Derek Barton

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FIRST, each of us would like to thank everyone for their interests and their participation.  

SECOND, I wanted to also give back a little and give a “Runner’s Up” prize to a third winner.  So I have a FREE COPY OF MY AUDIOBOOK, Consequences Within Chaos, for one more person who entered the giveaway.

HERE ARE THE WINNERS:

 

2018 Winners!

Book Winners will receive an email with the Ebook copies.  Audiobook Winner will get a direct email from me.  🙂

Feel free to still check out all these great books on AMAZON AND KINDLE!!

 

2018 Bio Blog — Derek Barton

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Thought it was due time to give you a little more insight into me as a writer and me as the average Joe.

  1. Do you have any advice for beginning writers?  Be consistent and persistent.  You have to keep pushing and pushing.  I’m seeing slow progress (a steady incline!), but it is definitely not an overnight-success kind of thing.  It takes a lot of work and faith in yourself.  Right now is a fantastic time to be a writer as there are tons of advice columns, writer blogs and mentoring sites out there to get any of your questions answered.

  2. What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?  I work on my writing every night — usually between 10 through 2 AM.   It’s become my passion and my stress release, so when I don’t get to it or have no energy to do it, I feel even worse actually.  I have three kids and I do have a full-time day job as a sales supervisor for a medicare healthcare company which occupies the majority of my life.  So those few hours of the day that I can spend on my writing is crucial.  I don’t waste them or take them for granted.  My writing is a lengthy process so if I want to share more stories, then that is what it takes.

  3. How do you begin a novel?  My novels are first outlined and broken down into scenes.  Some people are plotters and some can do it by the “seat of their pants” (called pantsers).  I tried for many years to be a pantser, but it finally became apparent to me that I NEED AN OUTLINE in order to stay on track and not lose my place in the storyline.  Plus I tend to weave subplots within the main story and that can be a very delicate surgery sometimes!

  4. Do you go through a lot of drafts?  I tend to do a very involved outline now (what I call my Bullet Outline) and then I write the first draft.  Then I make another two rounds of personal editing if possible.  My editing skills are nowhere near what I thought they were — you will find real quick what your level of editing skills are when you send it to a professional!  YIKES!  I am trying to get better and now that I see the trends, I try to avoid those mistakes in my initial writing or I will go back through and weed them out.

  5. Where is your favorite place to write and why?  I am not a picky person when it comes to where.  Some writers have to have everything precise and always uniform (same place, same time, same paper or same coffee mug, etc).  I am flexible, but that’s also because I had to learn to be.  I don’t have an office — I write in the living room!  The only thing I really need is isolation — I immerse myself into the writing and focus on the picture forming inside my head to find all the needed details and imagery I can put upon the page.  Other than that, I am good to go.

  6. What is the first book you remember reading?  I read Watership Down by Richard Adams in sixth grade.  It sucked me in even though it was a novel all about the desperate lives of wild rabbits.  From there I read The Hobbit and became addicted to fantasy stories.  Later in my teens (go figure!), I couldn’t pass up any horror novels I found.  Thus, I have an attraction to writing in both genres.  And often times, there are elements of both in my stories.

  7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?  I am definitely working to have a body of work that has some common connections.  My fantasy stories are all in the same world and same characters for now… But my horror novellas are also linked.  A minor character, a Detective Chad Ellis in the novella In Four Days becomes a key figure and character in my Elude series.  Finding those little threads which bind a story with another always entertained me as a reader so I wanted to give that back to my fans as well.

  8. What was your hardest scene to write?  In Consequences Within Chaos, I found the hardest scene to write for me was the first major battle my heroes faced with the Viestrahl (a beast race intent on destroying the humans colonizing their lands).  I had never had experience writing one and unless you know exactly all the details, you really can’t just write the scene out.  Even though I had an outline and I knew the generalities of what I wanted as an outcome, I didn’t have the specifics.  In other words, who goes where, who comes in later, who gets injured, how do they get injured, who dies, etc.  It is a lot to take in and it daunted me horribly.  I put the book aside for several months before I took the plunge and bulldozed through it.  Once I got into it and learned the process, I was able to take up other battle scenes quicker and with better organization.

Okay… now for a little less serious insight into me!

 

  1. DO YOU PLAY BOARD GAMES? WHICH ONES? Yes.  My wife’s and I’s favorite is a game called Lords of Waterdeep.  We also like games that have links to the Call of Cthulhu stories by H.P. Lovecraft.

  2. WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO? When I am in the car, it’s heavy metal.  When working out, it’s techno or dubstep.  When I am writing I love epic classical going in the background.

  3. DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME YOU WERE BORN? Sometime after 6 AM (probably the only time in my life I chose to wake early!)

  4. WHAT DO YOU WANT MORE THAN ANYTHING RIGHT NOW? Make enough book sales to write professionally, but I would also love to have a much bigger fan base.

  5. WHAT’S YOUR MIDDLE NAME? Don’t have one.  My parents hated theirs so they decided I didn’t need to be stuck with one.

  6. THE BEST TV SHOW EVER CREATED? Game of Thrones and close behind it Dexter (hmmm there is that fantasy and horror combo again!)

  7. DO YOU GET SCARED IN THE DARK? No.  But I do like to come up with ideas for horror stories while sitting or walking in the dark.

  8. WOULD YOU RATHER BE SMART OR FUNNY? Can I go for both and be a smartass?

  9. COFFEE OR ENERGY DRINKS? With my late hours, I  am a double Rockstar morning person.  I know it’s not the best for me, but I don’t drink or smoke so this isn’t such a horrible vice.

  10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PIZZA TOPPING? Hawaiian Pizza baby!!

  11. IF YOU CAN EAT ANYTHING RIGHT NOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Snow Crab Legs or Prime Rib.

  12. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR? Red Chevy Nova

  13. WHAT IS YOUR FANTASY CAREER? Screenplay writer

  14. ARE YOU A LEFTY OR A RIGHTY? Righty.

  15. DO YOU LIKE SPICY FOOD? Nope.  I have been accused of saying vanilla ice cream is spicy!

  16. WHAT ANNOYS YOU MOST?  Tone of voice.  So easy for people to say stuff “jokingly” but their tone says what they are really feeling.

  17. HAVE YOU BEEN OUT OF YOUR COUNTRY? WHERE DID YOU GO? Yes. Canada and Mexico a couple times.  That’s it.  Someday I would love to see Austrailia and Scotland.

  18. FAVORITE FOOD? Chinese

  19. FIRST JOB? Busboy at a buffet.  HATED IT!  Only restaurant job I ever worked.

  20. HAVE YOU EVER RIDDEN A MOTORCYCLE? Yes, my father and I would go on rides when I was younger.

  21. WHAT TV SHOWS DO YOU WATCH CURRENTLY? Game of Thrones, Criminal Minds, Mr. Mercedes, Face-off

  22. CAN YOU PLAY AN INSTRUMENT? I used to play Alto & Baritone Saxophone in middle school but doubt I would do very well with it now.  I can’t read music anymore that’s for sure!

  23. FAVORITE VACATION SPOT? Sedona, AZ or there’s a cabin rental property in Strawberry, AZ.   

  24. HOW MANY (MORE) KIDS DO YOU WANT? No more thank you… We are a complete family.

  25. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Ugh… I don’t really want to answer this… Fine…  I was named after Derek & The Dominos.  *Shaking my head.

  26. DO YOU KNOW HOW TO SWIM? I can.  Grew up around lakes my whole life.  And now that I live in the desert, I swim in pools on occasion.

  27. DO YOU GET SEASICK? Horribly!  I cannot even play first-person shooter video games due to motion-sickness.  And don’t get me started about the night I went to see Blair Witch in the movies!

  28. ARE YOU MARRIED? Yes, for five years and counting!

  29. WHERE WERE YOU BORN?  Warsaw, Indiana — it’s near Fort Wayne, Indiana.

  30. WHAT WERE YOUR FAVORITE TOYS AS A CHILD? Stretch Armstrong, Army Men and Hot Wheels

  31. DO YOU HAVE ANY TATTOOS OR PIERCINGS? I have one large Tribal tattoo on my shoulder that has three dragon heads circling a Celtic knot.  It represents my Past, my Present and my Future.

I think that’s enough for this year.  🙂

Hope you got a smile at least out of this silliness.