STAKE by Alex Chase @CoffinHop 2013


Hello Travelers,

Today I bring you a particularly old piece of mine. I haven’t edited it, because I want to preserve, how shall we say, the antiquity of the piece. While it was given a few small awards through http://www.writing.com in the past, I’ve never officially published it and had no pressing urge to do so. So, without further ado, here is the entirety of STAKE.

###

Joe Daniels prepared himself for the coming battles. He was finally prepared to lead the Strike Team Against Killer Entities troop through New York City. He and his troops had done heavy weight training and cardiovascular exercise to train their bodies to fight the supernatural killers known as Vampires. They had seen many humans mysteriously disappear, and every so often, one was found, drained of all blood. The local vampires insisted they had nothing to do with these incidents, but Joe knew better.

Inspired by the infestation of the undead beasts, Joe had taken the precaution of ordering several thermal-imaging lenses some time ago, so that he could tell who was human and who was not. However, this had not been enough, so he ordered silver chains, holy water and guns that could fire miniature stakes. With these, he turned to his closest friends and formed the STAKE.

With thermal imaging equipment and high-powered, anti-vampire weaponry, he was ready to lead his small group through the night and smite the undead scum, just as God should’ve done when they died the first time.

“Ready men? Move out! Tonight, they will feel true death!” His troop swarmed out of his home and into the blackest of nights…

***

Clarissa walked casually down the moonlit streets, the light illuminating her ivory skin, her full lips contrasting with a deep red lipstick. She had a slight smile tugging at her lips, knowing the reaction people would have when they saw her blood colored eyes. A choker encircled her neck, a cross of Gothic design hanging upon it.

She looked up at the sky and let out a sigh of pleasure. She loved how she lived, without the hustle and bustle of day life. The city calmed down at night. Well, except at the clubs, of course, which she frequented often. The cool wind whipped around her, brushing over her skin. She never wore a coat, mainly because she didn’t ever feel she had to. She didn’t feel the cold like most would’ve. Clarissa had grown accustomed to this life, and would not have it any other way.

For the most part, trouble avoided her, and she avoided it. She never deliberately harmed anyone, despite what she did to live. It just came naturally to her, and she always regretted when her actions hurt people. But tonight, as always, she set out to do things all over again. In the end, she never really had any pity on her victims. Some would even say she was heartless.

Her silent saunter brought her down street after street, ever closer to her destination. She passed by alleys, restaurants and Broadway theaters. The calls of the night were music to here ears, and she was eager to partake in the action that could be happening tonight. She moved faster, feeling the vibrant pulse of energized life within the clubs. She had a specific one in mind tonight, and would not allow herself to be distracted.

Suddenly, a thick hand wrapped over her mouth, yanking her to the side and slamming her into a nearby wall, her head colliding with brick. She cried out as a thick chain of pure silver wrapped tightly around her throat, rough edges grating over her skin. Her throat burned as the chain began to suffocate her.

“How are you doing, freak?” A man leaned down, and though a strange device covered his eyes and forehead, disabling her ability to see his eyes, it appeared as though he was glaring. She could feel his hot breath wash over her.

“What…?” She tried to gasp out through the choking sensation. She could barely breath. Her heart leapt into her throat as she looked at the burly forms of her attackers. Her dark eyes were wide with terror.

“That’s right, we’re finally rising up against you. You scum drain our citizens, kill our families, defile our holy grounds, and then you all have the nerve to ask to become citizens yourselves? We’re the STAKE, and you’re the undead quarry.” He spat upon her cheek as someone else tightened another link of silver around her wrists, tying it even tighter as she cried and begged for release. The metal ground hard against her flesh and a sob began to rise in her throat. One man stood on each side of her, holding her arms tight so she couldn’t even try to move.

The man who spoke earlier appeared to be their leader, and he brought his hand back, striking her across the face with his knuckles. There was a crack, and he grimaced, shaking his hand as she shrieked, her face dripping blood.

“Damn, I hate you freaks! I can’t even hit you without being hurt myself,” he groaned. “I’m just glad I wore these pure silver rings.” Clarissa caught the gleaming of at least four rings upon his fingers, but her vision swam. She was slowly getting weaker as the silver pulled tighter.

“Please… let…me go!” The burning in her throat was slowly getting worse as she felt herself slipping away.

“Let you go? Why should I let a monster like you roam free to kill my kind?” He looked down at her pallid skin; her glistening crimson eyes were wide with terror. She tried to croak out a response, but she could not. Clarissa’s pouting lips quivered with fear. She had never known this fear and danger before.

“Don’t try to deny that you’re a vampire. I can see your skin is cold, and even if I couldn’t, your eyes are as red as the blood you drink!”

But it’s cold outside… how would he know if it weren’t just from the wind? Clarissa thought.

“Don’t worry, blood sucker. I’m giving you what you deserve.” He pulled a long wooden stake from his jacket pocket. She screamed and flailed against her captors, but it was no use. The man kicked her to the ground, and Clarissa let out one last cry as he slammed the wooden shaft into her chest. She collapsed, her body convulsing one last time as blood flowed from her open mouth.

The STAKE team cheered and whooped over their victory. The girl was motionless, her pale skin seeming luminescent in the moonlight. Joe Daniels meandered to the nearest pay phone and told the police about their kill. The woman on the other end informed Joe that the Chief of Police would arrive shortly- and he did.

As the officers stepped out of their car, STAKE continued in their revelry. Joyous cries echoed down the street as the police investigated the scene. They loudly wondered if they’d be rewarded for each kill. The men were still celebrating when their arms were yanked behind their back and handcuffs were slapped onto their wrists. They protested with confusion and outrage as they were thrust into the police cruisers.

“Hey, what are you doing? We’re heroes! We killed one of those undead scum, why are you arresting us?” Joe yelled.

“She wasn’t an undead.” The chief grunted, slamming the door shut.

“What? That… that’s impossible! You’re a liar! You’re supporting vampires you piece of…” His cries faded from earshot as the cruiser pulled away.

Unfortunately for Clarissa, she had not been a vampire. She was a journalist for the New York Times, and she covered the nightlife in their culture section. She was normally found dressing up and prowling the night in search of the newest and hottest clubs and late-night eateries, and was known for scathing and ‘heartless’ reviews. Clarissa naturally broke out in hives at contact with silver, but regardless, the chains had been pulled so tight that her trachea was crushed. She had dressed in such dark garb to get into a new, heavy metal club for the paper. By night, she could be anything or anyone she wanted to be if it got her into the clubs. By day, she was a loving wife and mother of two, and had never hurt a soul in her life.

Now, Clarissa Burnside was lifeless on the sidewalk, her blood-red contacts still in place as the police finished the investigation. The dark lipstick hid the fact that her lips were turning blue, and her skin was notably more tan when brought out of the moonlight. Her skin was now truly as cold as ice, and her heart would forever remain as motionless as STAKE had thought it to be.

***

Walk with me over the coming week as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…

For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!

The Silence in my Smile @CoffinHop


Hello Travelers,

Today I bring you an excerpt of a story I wrote, the full length of which is roughly 2,500 words. I won’t be including the full text because I don’t want you to spend all your time here. Go, frolic among the other Coffin Hop participants once you’ve finished. If you want me to post the full story, scream your desires in the comment section. Or, if someone would be kind enough to extend a publication offer…

Without adieu, here is The Silence in my Smile.

***

It was a night like any other for me. I wandered the dark streets, with so many homes filled with families that were not aware of my presence, cold and alone. Not a single house light could be seen, but after all, 2 A.M. was not an hour in which most people were awake. The night sky was black and the darkness unbroken, except by a few defiant stars. The frigid wind blew through my chest, but no cold nor isolation could ever compare to the hollow emptiness inside me.

On more than one occasion, my friends had attempted to pry me from my shell with invitations to parties, drinking games at the local bar, or other such menial delights. On all occasions, I responded in the negative. One of my few remaining friends, Donovan, brought me aside on such a night.

“Look, I know you’re hurt. I know that you must be going through some really dark times, but you have to get out and live just a little.”

“Why should I?”

“You don’t do anything anymore, and we haven’t even seen you smile. We would know you’re okay if you could just give us one damn smile. It’s rough seeing such a great guy so miserable.”

Well what did they know? I stalked through the night like a wounded animal- desperate for attention, yet ready to snap at anyone who came close. I soon noticed I was coming close to my street, Darnell Court. I didn’t want to return home yet, so I took the sharp left onto Way Street, as if ready to face the creeping memory of death. I tried hard to repress the memories that ripped at my mind, so I shook my head and continued my somber sauntering.

Unfortunately for me, I soon happened upon the town park. I stopped by a thick birch tree, my head suddenly swimming as memories flooded my mind. I fought this, but I could not stop the cruel images from playing in my mind. The colors and sounds mocked me with their unrelenting progression.

I saw the same park, only it was day time. I remembered this scene from just a few months ago; I was pushing my dearest daughter, Emily, on the swings. She had a bright yellow sundress on, and her soft voice was laughing with childish delight. She begged me to push her higher and higher, and soon leapt from the swing, sailing across the play set and landing triumphantly. I couldn’t help but admire her brave spirit. She was always trying to prove she was as mature and as bold as any adult. Sometimes, she actually was, and would prove her bravado despite any danger it might pose to her.

Turning on her feet, she ran suddenly and jumped back onto the swing. Using it like a fulcrum, she swung and jumped once more, this time tackling my chest. I laughed, stumbling, but caught her. She had wrapped her arms tightly around my torso, her narrow arms squeezing tight.

“I love you, daddy!”

That was it. My heart once again shook with pain; my body tensed as I struggled to hold back tears. How cruel must nature be, that I am always reminded of how badly I have suffered? I wrapped my arms tight around myself, praying the other memories would not return as I sprinted for home, unwilling to walk Memory Lane any longer.

My footsteps were loud, echoing through the streets, but I did not care. I shut my eyes, but behind them I saw the darkness in even greater detail. All I could think of was getting home before any other thoughts chose to break my heart again. It almost worked, but I had the growing sense that I could not outrun the pain of my past. I sprinted fast, then faster still, nearly breaking down my door as I slammed into it, but the memory returned regardless.

It had been another bright and warm day. The sun shone brilliantly, with warm air gusting through the streets. Birds chirped merrily, and I smiled up at the pleasant day. Emily and my wife, Elizabeth, had just been out to the supermarket. I couldn’t wait to see them, even though they’d only been gone a short time. I loved them both, and Emily was the spitting image of her mother. They both had wavy, golden hair, a smooth complexion, and an honest, kind, but witty personality. I once remarked that Paradise had nothing on those two.

I waited on my front steps to help them bring the groceries in. I squinted down the road and saw their car driving up Way Street. The bright blue paint sparkled in the sunlight, and I could just make out Emily’s smile from the other side of the windshield. I smiled, stood, and waved to them. I saw Elizabeth laugh as Emily waved back. The joyous expressions were still in place when a black sedan crumpled the driver’s side of their car.

***

Walk with me over the coming week as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…

For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!

Find me @CoffinHop 2013!


Hello Travelers,

I know it’s been quite some time, and I blame school for that, but I’m back with news that I’m participating in Coffin Hop over the coming 8 days. Each day, I’ll be posting an excerpt of previously written work, some of which I wrote when quite young, and giving a variety of prizes throughout.

What prizes, you ask? Well, because I’m broke, I can’t give away much physical merchandise, but here’s the breakdown:

(You may notice this section has changed; as per some advice I was given by several previous coffin hoppers, I’ve opted to change this section)

Regrettably, I will be giving away one prize, due entirely to the fact that I am broke. One lucky winner, chosen from everyone who comments on my posts throughout the entire week of coffin hop, will receive a signed anthology of his or her choice (out of those I’ve published in, of course). I could give out a variety of eBooks, but I’d rather give one special gift.

There you have it, folks. I hope to hear a lot from you all very soon.

Farewell, friends,

A. Chase

COFFIN HOP 2013


Hello, Travelers,

After a long hiatus from my blogging, I’m pleased to return with the announcement that I’ll be participating in this year’s Coffin Hop blog tour. I look forward to eight days of Halloween themed mayhem with a slew of very talented indie authors. Be sure to stop back soon to support me as well as the other greats worming through the blogosphere.

Until then, fare thee well, friends.

COFFIN HOP 2013.

666 Words by @demonauthor


Hello Travelers,

Birthright is a funny thing. Whether of noble or common blood, of modest or majestic inheritance, or of superior or inferior DNA, many believe we are a product of the circumstances of our birth and nothing more. Have we the power to resist what is determined for us before we’re even born?

The Damned’s Dan Dillard presents an interesting situation, leading to yet another question: if we embrace our birthright, are we limited only to that one life, or could, perhaps, fulfilling our ‘destiny’ yield something greater?

666 Words.

Damned Words 3 by @PenoftheDamned


Hello Travelers,

Today I bring you Pen of the Damned’s third poetry ensemble. For those unfamiliar, each Damned writes a short piece about the same picture, leading to a wide array of views on the same situation.

In this scene, a looming archway. Stone. Empty. Dark. Surrounded by trees and sunlight, yet foreboding, as if it arose from the dirt, unbidden and unaided, and none have had the gall to cross its threshold.

Dare you, Traveler?

Damned Words 3.

Regret


Hello Travelers,

Earlier today I had the pleasure of reading a post on Regret. I recommend you check it out, because it’s quite insightful, and even though I’m about to talk about regret too, I’ll never tell you that I have all the answers or that you’re better off following my path than someone else’s.

But as far as I’m concerned, I have few regrets. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and I’m bound to make a lot more, but so far, I can name on one hand the times where I look back and say, “I shouldn’t have done this.”

The fact is that if you’re sitting here today as an accomplished professional in any field, you’re here both in spite and because of those mistakes. If you’re wishing that you had done more, then that’s because your mistakes have taught you you’re capable of a lot that you haven’t done yet. Either way, it’s never too late to start (or continue) down the road you’ve always dreamt of walking.

Take me, for example. Five years ago, I was utterly alone, clinically depressed, and trapped in an abusive relationship. I wrote for myself, in what spare time I had, and even though I always said to myself, “I want to be a writer,” I never got around to actually trying to be one.

A little over one year ago, I sat back in my chair and thought, “What a life I’ve lead, and who knows about it? What have I got to show for all that I’ve been through? Those naysayers who said I wouldn’t be a writer… am I going to sit back and let myself prove them right?”

So I began seeking publishing. Before I continue: if you’re just setting out as a writer and have yet to receive any acceptances, keep in mind that my story, while a little more common now in the days of the independent press, is still rare.

It only took me a few weeks for one particularly great publication company to write me back and say, “You know what? We liked this piece and want it in our August ezine” (Not an exact quote, but that’s the spirit of it). Since then I’ve published over a dozen short stories, am working to revise my first novel (which has a tentative “Yes pending revisions” for publishing), am currently writing my second (and more shorts in the down time) and that’s not to mention what editing work I do here and there.

I do, to put it simply, a damn lot of things. I have an advantage of not really having a job, so I do have a lot more time than many, but even an hour of writing a day will eventually yield a novel.

I may go through periods of moody rumination over what I’ve done or let people do to me, but looking back on my past year- on the decisions I’ve made for myself, on the things I’ve done that I know were right- I’ve turned those mistakes into fuel. I’ve made every wrong decision worth it.

I’ve made every wrong decision right.

So remember, Travelers, that life really is what you make of it. No matter how twisted it is, you can always prove the master of the path you take (and all that walking is great exercise). You can’t always choose not to make a mistake, but you can choose not to regret.

Make the most of what you have, because being miserable isn’t going to make things any better.

May the wind be at your back,

A. Chase