R.I.P Stan Lee

I still can’t quite believe that Stan Lee has died. Like millions of people around the world I grew up reading Marvel comic books, they were a large part of my childhood and definitely helped to shape my views of the world.
His writing helped me to develop a strong sense of morality about the world around me, it helped to shape my sense of compassion and empathy for others. In a world of ambiguity he helped to shine a light on the nobler things that we should aspire to, he used comic books to try and change the world, and he succeeded.
His imagination knew no bounds, and until the day he died it continued to inspire him, that in itself is something truly remarkable. His writing contained an energy and vibrancy that seemed to just jump off the page and grab you, and once you read one of his stories you were hooked for life.
Goodbye Stan, a part of my childhood died with you yesterday, but your spirit will live on eternally in the hearts of all the people who’s imagination you captured and then changed.
Nuff said.

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New News (Secret, Secret, I’ve Got a Secret!!)

Author T.J. Kelly

It has recently come to my attention that I pretty much never update my blog. 🤣 I spoke to a few author friends about it, and I am now the newest member of a fiction writing blog rotation where we each take a turn selecting an inspirational picture to write about once a week. I selected the image attached to this post and wrote my obligatory story.

The picture spoke to me because it was pretty dead -on accurate imagery of a scene I had in mind. But…. I can’t share it. You see, the scene is from an ultra top-secret project I have plotted for mid-2019. I am designing an entire series that should blow your mind. If I do it right. And part of that is… secrets.

So here is my alternate blog post – telling you that YOU will be happy that *I* am hiding things from you!

As…

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The Dome


“When did the sickness start?” Asked Emma, as she looked out beyond the dome that enclosed them. Her father turned to face her, she thought she saw the sadness within him again, but he smiled, that magnificent smile that cured her of all her ills.
“It all happened so quickly, the domes were built for protection while you were still a young baby, they help to keep us safe, to keep the world safe, you know that.”
Emma looked out beyond the shimmering glass, everything looked so normal, the sun was shining, trees moved gently in the breeze. She saw birds rise up above the treetops and watched as they disappeared into the distance.
“Yes, but I wish I could go outside, feel the sun on my face, the breeze through my hair.”
Her father’s face suddenly darkened. “Don’t ever talk like that Emma, you know damn well we can never leave this place, the consequences would be catastrophic for us all.” He turned, and without looking back at her strode off towards the housing pod.
Emma watched him go, she saw him disappear inside the pod the door slamming behind him, then she turned back for one last look at the outside world before she too headed back to the place she called home.

Supper was a quiet affair, her mother and father were heavily preoccupied with the harvest, so much needed to be done in such a short time and everyone worked as hard as they could. Her brother Ellis, was slightly older than her, he was tall and athletic and spent all his time helping their father. Even he seemed subdued and had little to say, he grunted at most of her attempts at conversation.
“Why do we never talk about the outside?” She asked finally. “I just want to know more about what happened, and why the sickness came?”
Her father slammed his cup down on the table making everyone jump, then he glared at Emma.
“You know the rule Emma.” He spoke through gritted teeth.
“Yes,” she replied, “never ask about the sickness. But that’s just stupid, I’m going to spend my whole life inside this dome, and I can’t even ask why?”

She waited until after supper before slipping out, as she skipped across the fields she kept looking back, just to be sure no one followed her, they didn’t. She reached the edge of the dome and then began walking along the perimeter looking for the special place that only she knew about, when she found it her heart missed a beat, she was still scared what would happen if anyone else found out.
The boy was waiting on the other side, he waved when he saw her. She carefully removed the sticks and leaves, and uncovered the hole, her gateway to the outside world. She didn’t know how it had happened, but the dome had become damaged and only she knew about it, apart from David of course, her new friend on the outside.

She scrambled to get through the small hole, David helped her, he grasped her hand and pulled her through.
“I haven’t got long,” he said, looking back over his shoulder, “my parents think I’ve gone to see a friend.”
“You have,” she replied, smiling, “just not the one they think you have.”
David looked around uncomfortably. “I know, they keep telling me not to go anywhere near the dome, they’re all frightened of it, I don’t know why?”
“Did they tell you about the sickness too?”
“Yes, but I don’t understand, I’ve never seen anyone get sick, not really.”
“Me neither,” she replied, “it’s not fair being stuck in there, it’s so much more beautiful out here.”

They talked for a while, exchanging stories of their different lives, then David looked at his watch, his expression turned to sadness.
“I have to go, they’ll come looking for me if I don’t get home soon, and I don’t want them finding out about us, that would ruin everything, and I don’t have many friends, not ones like you anyway.”
Emma took that as a compliment and watched as his face turned red.
“Thank you, I don’t have many friends either, and none of them are like you.”
They said their goodbyes and David jumped on his bicycle and sped off, kicking up a trail of dust as he shot off down the dirt track, back towards his own life, and his own family.

Emma was lost in her thoughts as she clambered back through the hole and then began covering it up again, she didn’t hear the footsteps behind her, not until it was too late.
“What are you doing?” It was her brother, he looked horrified as he watched her finish covering the hole.
She jumped to her feet, hoping he hadn’t seen what she was doing, but the look on his face told her it was too late.
“Have you been outside?” His voice was angry.
“I made a friend,” she said, defiantly, “his name’s David. I know the truth now about the sickness, so you don’t frighten me by being cross.” She folded her arms and scowled at him.
“The truth, what do you mean?”
“David told me, there is no sickness, everyone outside is fine, nobody gets sick, not like you and dad said anyway.”
Her brother’s features went from anger to sadness, when he spoke again it was almost a whisper.
“You don’t know what you’ve done Emma,” he seemed to search for the right words, “we should have told you, but mum and dad said you were too young to understand.”
“Understand what?” Her brother was frightening her now because he had started to cry.

The walk back to the pod seemed to take an eternity, her brother held her hand, he squeezed tight and didn’t let go. She wondered if she would ever feel the sun on her face again, or the wind in her hair. As they approached the pod he stopped and knelt down, he hugged her and told her everything would be alright. He’d stopped crying now, but it was what he’d said to her that was now etched in her mind forever.
“We are the sickness, not them, we are the carriers. The dome was to protect the world from us, if the sickness gets out, everyone dies, there is no cure.”

 

This post is part of a collaboration with fellow authors and bloggers Gary Holdaway and TJ Kelly. Each week we put forward a prompt for each other, and have until the following Monday to make our post. This story was inspired by the photograph above.

You can follow Gary’s blog by going here:

https://gdholdawayauthor.wordpress.com/

 

Here is TJ Kelly’s site:

http://www.tjkellybooks.com/new-news-secret-secret-ive-got-a-secret/

 

One Last Goodbye

garywritingpromptBecky slumped down onto the dirty floor, broken pieces of blackened wood and stone lay all around her, roof tiles were scattered amongst them, it’s grey slate reflecting the grey sky above which was visible through the holes in the roof. A thick layer of dirt and dust covered everything around her, but she was oblivious to it all her only thought was for her daughter.
She cradled Lucy in her arms and gently rocked her to sleep as she sang her favourite nursery rhyme, her voice echoed through the empty ruined building.

Carl stood quietly in the doorway to the ruined church, he watched his wife as she sang to their daughter, humming along with her to the haunting melody that echoed through the shattered building. He could feel tears welling up inside him but he pushed them back so he could be strong for his wife, support her in their time of need.

After a while she fell silent, and he watched as the long shadows of evening began to pass across her. He wanted to reach out to her but he felt the weight of time between them, and he knew she needed to be alone, for just a little longer, enough to say goodbye.

“Do you think she needs feeding yet?” Said Becky, finally looking up, her eyes searching for Carl.
Their eyes met and he shook his head gently, then he made his way over to join his wife. “Not yet,” he said, “let her sleep.”
Becky nodded and closed her eyes. “It’s hard to believe she was christened here, it seems such a long time ago.”
“It was,” he replied, “it seems like a lifetime.”
“Do you think they’ll ever rebuild this place?”
Carl shook his head. “I don’t know love, but we shouldn’t really be here it isn’t safe.”

“I wonder who started the fire?” Asked Becky, she allowed Carl to help her stand.
“The police are still making enquiries.” Replied Carl.
“This place had such happy memories, why would someone take all that away from us?”
Carl didn’t know how to answer, he looked at his wife and then down at Lucy, tears began rolling down his face.
“Don’t cry Carl, Lucy is safe now, nothing can hurt her again.”
He wiped the tears from his face. “I know, it’s just this is so difficult, harder than I can imagine.”

Becky gently handed Lucy over to Carl. “You do this,” she said, “it’s what she would have wanted.” She was crying now, tears flowing freely down her face.
“This was her favourite place, but are you sure you want to leave her here?”
Becky moved next to him and hugged him. “It’s what she would have wanted.”
“She would have been 18 next month.” Said Carl.
“Happy birthday Lucy,” replied Becky, “the fire may have taken you but you will always be with us.”
Together they removed the lid from the urn and began scattering their daughter’s ashes. The darkness gently rolled in around them, slowly enfolding them in its blanket, the final rays of light saying one last goodbye.

 

 

This post is part of a collaboration with fellow author and blogger Gary Holdaway . Each week we put forward a prompt for each other, and have until the following Monday to make our post. This story was inspired by the photograph above.

You can follow Gary’s blog by going here:

https://gdholdawayauthor.wordpress.com/

Prologue to “Beyond”

Prologue to “Beyond” the second book in my Thomas Lightman urban fantasy series.

 

 

John had never climbed the Wraken at night, he was annoyed that Phil couldn’t make it, but it hadn’t altered his plans. When he reached the top, he would have wonderful views of the sky and the surroundings, it was a beautiful clear night and all the stars were visible. According to the news, the meteor shower was due to pass overhead around 11 PM. Phil would miss a good show.

The Wraken was a large hill in the rural Shropshire countryside, in its past it had been an Iron Age hillfort, the site of many a pagan festival, and the birthplace of tales of folklore and legend. Nestled at its base was Wellerton, a beautiful market town its lights twinkling gently mirroring the sky above. Tonight John was hoping to use it as his viewing platform, from which the best meteor shower in years would take place. Up here he was away from the light pollution of the town, the intensity of the stars was breathtaking.

He wasn’t as fit as he used to be, approaching 50 he had allowed his fitness to lapse from the days when he used to play football. As he approached the summit, his breathing was heavy, and he was sweating profusely. He stopped to catch his breath and checked his watch, it had taken him 40 minutes to get this far, when he was younger he could do it in 20. As he was about to move on he saw a light and movement at the summit, others must have had the same idea as him, and already waited for the show to begin.

It looked like he would have plenty to tell Phil tomorrow, when he rang him to check how he was, bloody sissy with his cold and bad chest, giving up the fags might help, he thought. He moved on steadily, checking his footing as he went as the ground was very uneven, he pulled his torch from his pocket and turned it on so he could see the path better. His eyes had adjusted well to the darkness but this part of the path was in bad shape, and it would be easy to slip and fall, the last thing he wanted was to twist or break his ankle.

The light up ahead went out, he squinted to see who was there, but no figures were visible. He thought he heard something behind him and turned to look, shining his torch into the darkness he saw nothing. He continued on being careful where to tread, the torch making his job a lot easier. Finally, he reached the summit, he was breathless but happy he had made it.

Looking around the area seemed deserted, he could have sworn he had seen many figures, and he definitely saw the light. He wondered if they had moved on to find another viewing spot, but this was the best one he knew of. Now he stood still he could feel the cold beginning to bite, it was late November, and the temperatures had been hovering around freezing for a while.

He could smell burning, a bonfire somewhere probably, the smoke was drifting across the Wraken. He imagined being sat in front of the bonfire, the warmth working its way through him, it sounded good to him. He took off his rucksack and put it down in front of him, rummaging around he found his thermos, a warm cup of tea to settle him down sounded like a good idea.

As he knelt and poured his drink, a dark shape appeared to his left rising from the undergrowth. He frowned and squinted into the darkness, his thermos fell from his hand, he tried to scream as he saw what was coming at him, his throat was ripped out before he could utter a sound.

The meteor shower lit up the night sky, raining down on the Earth it’s fiery display of heavenly wonder. But John was no longer able to watch it, his eyes glazed over as he lay still upon the Wraken, his lifeblood seeping into the earth, he was now food for the creature that stood over him, its rows of glistening yellowed teeth sneering at the night.Beyond

Coping with Life

woman wearing grey long sleeved top photography
Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

“If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win but think you can’t, it’s almost certain you won’t.
Life’s battles don’t always go to the strong or faster man, but sooner or later, the man who wins is the man who thinks he can.”
Walter D. White

Some days I find life can be very difficult, and sometimes I feel overwhelmed by those difficulties and struggle to keep going. It can feel like a black fog descending over my brain, shutting everything out. I have a range of disabilities that are slowly restricting how I deal with the outside world, some days I am unable to get out of bed, on others I only make it as far as the sofa, where I might have to stay all day.

My world often consists in what I can see through a window, blue sky, passing clouds, the occasional bird, the trees at the end of my garden swaying gently in the breeze. Some days the little things that I have learnt to appreciate would make some laugh at their insignificance, but above all it’s all about a state of mind.

I’m not totally confined to the house, on good days I can get out and I do get to see a little of the world around me. It’s just my world is restricted, and I’ve learnt to appreciate the little things, those fleeting moments of independence.

And here’s the thing, I believe that when our worldview becomes restricted our minds expand to meet its limitations. Small things become magnified, moments in time become an infinite loop in our minds, and we do eventually adapt (sometimes kicking and screaming) to that change.

But, to adapt we must first accept the changes happening in our lives, because when negative things happen we are prone to close ourselves off, to shut things out. It can be very frightening to go against your intuition, to go against your fear, to open yourself up when all you want to do is curl up in a ball, or hide in a dark corner.

Change is inevitable, we all grow up, we all grow old, and we all die. We, and the world are constantly in change, you can either embrace it or hide from it like a frightened child.
I often think of what the poet William Blake said:

“The man who never changes his opinion is like standing water,
And breeds reptiles of the mind.”

If you can embrace your limitations, if you can embrace some of the things that scare you, then the world becomes less frightening and you become more adaptable to change.

“Look upon the evening as the death of the day, and the morning as the birth of all things. Let every moment renew your vision, the wise man is he who constantly wonders afresh.”
Andre Gide

Every day I try to do my best, every day I try to see “wonders afresh.” I see each and every moment of my life as a gift, and for every gift I unwrap, I feel gratitude

 

This post is part of a collaboration with fellow author and blogger Gary Holdaway . Each week we put forward a prompt for each other, and have until the following Monday to make our post.

You can follow Gary’s blog by going here:

https://gdholdawayauthor.wordpress.com/

New Beginnings

After much deliberation and prompting from a writer friend, as of next week I hope to finally post a regular blog.
My friend Gary and I are going to take it in turns to prompt each other with an idea for a topic, or an inspirational quote, and then write a blog post based around that.

I have no idea how this is going to turn out, but I am excited by the possibilities that it opens up. Even though I am heavily into writing my second urban fantasy novel “Beyond,” I think this will help to fire up my imagination and both increase and improve my writing output.

Best wishes to one and all.

Ian

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