Chapter 2: A Deal Gone Weird

Hey Echoes,

Here is a revamped Chapter 2 from It Came From the Wizard’s Cellar. I radically changed the quick history between Darren and Jacob. It should work better this way, the originally just did not fit the tone of this story.

Check out the other chapters of this story here.

“Lord Rinsen will appreciate your efforts in weakening his enemy’s infantry.”

“Yeah, I prefer to not be named in this endeavor. However, I would to see Duke Wells’ face when his troops are crippled by tainted supplies. Then, Rinsen will rush over his forces in that mud hole Wells calls home. Wish I could be there.”

“No, you don’t.”

“You’re right. I am a little squeamish when it comes to open warfare. A little cut and a few dead bodies sure, but battle, I could die.”

The two conspirators snickered in the alley. They were out to make a fortune and alter the wars of the continent, possibly for years. However, Darren didn’t really care about that. He had a score to settle.

He leaped from the shadows and threw a knife that struck one of the conspirators behind the knee. The victim smashed his kneecaps onto the cobblestone street. He howled in agony.

“Darren!” The other shouted drawing a weapon and a shield.

Darren was too slow on his recovery and the second conspirator blocked his knife attack.

“I’m surprised to see alive and clothed,” the conspirator growled.

Darren shrugged with a smile. “Surprise.”

“Get out of here, wretch. This is none of your business.”

“Jacob,” Darren said, pointing another knife at the conspirator. “I enjoy ruining your life. You betrayed me, you tortured my partner, you left me alone and naked on the street. There was enough from that heist for each of us.”

Jacob licked his lips and smiled ear to ear. “She was in over her head. From what I understand you have a new crew. Maybe she was holding you back. You should thank me.”

Darren shook his head. “You mother—”

A gut-wrenching scream poured out of the building next to them. It was muffled by the thick walls, but it sounded like a woman.

Darren sighed. “Your handiwork again?”

“I had nothing to do with that.”

Heavy footsteps, irregular footsteps vibrated the building’s windows.

“What the hell?” Jacob said.

The window blew out. The wreckage of a wooden rocking chair flew into the alley. A calico cat, bloodied and frantic, followed right after.

“Nico-de-muth!” A garbled, female voice shouted from within the building.

A tentacle of flesh and toothy maws caught the cat in mid-air. The tentacle swung to the ground, crushing the cat on the street.

Darren stared wide-eyed. “What fresh hell is this?”

The wooden wall groaned outward as a wave of flesh flowed from the window. Eyes and mouths were visible all over the mass. The wall’s thick planks splintered outward under the stress of the flesh’s weight. It flowed along the ground, a hungry river, with chittering teeth and white eyes. Then, it retracted, like a building wave and morphed into the form of a dark-haired woman. She was wearing a thin brown robe tied with a simple gold cord on her hips. The dead cat was clenched in her hands.

Darren squinted. No, the cat’s head and upper legs stuck out her open palm while the tail and black legs broke through her elbow. She paid it no mind, but it must have hurt.

Darren nodded. “Yep, definitely a new hell.”

Jacob started to walk back toward Darren. “We need to run.”

The wounded conspirator squirmed on the ground, attempting to crawl away.

The women’s face contorted. She bared her teeth, her eyes squinted. She let out an ear-shattering screech. Her arms clutched her chest.

“Pain, Hungry!” She said. Her voice, less garbled.

The wounded conspirator shouted at the top of his lungs, “There’s a tavern down the street!”

The woman made a step forward and extended an open palm toward the wounded man. Flesh and teeth hit the man like a geyser of hot water. He was engulfed. His scream silenced.

The woman threw her head back, opened her mouth, and let out a moan of pleasure and relief. Her attention turned to Darren and Jacob. “More!” She smirked, but her upturned lip drooped below her chin, like an oil painting sprinkled with turpentine.

“Nope!” shouted Jacob. He turned to run.

He slammed into Darren and his brandished knife.

Darren smiled. “I only have to run faster than you.”

“But—”

Darren twisted the knife under Jacob’s rib cage. Jacob stumbled back as Darren removed the blade. Blood poured through Jacob’s hands, splashing into the rivets of the cobblestone street.

Darren broke into a sprint and ducked out of the alley.

“Hungry!”

Jacob let out a pathetic, muffled scream.

I saw that going better in my head, thought Darren. He sprinted to find help.

© 2017 C.J. Staryk. All Rights Reserved.

Heard

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A Foggy Morning

Hey Echoes,

Just a picture today. It’s hard to keep track of the days during stay/work at home. I do get out as I have a hiking trail near my abode. Someday, I hope to get back on the road, taking some pictures of parks and natural wonders I have yet to see (or don’t remember seeing). Before I reunite with the open road, I will post some pictures to remind us all what the outdoors looks like. DSCN2049

 

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Echoes

Flint flipped through the monitors’ outside views of the station and the gas giant they orbited. Turbulent cloud bands and a wide, vertical icy ring were the only sights. He once imagined the galaxy’s stars full of civilizations waiting for discovery, but most were empty and others were tombs.

Muted laughter drew Flint to the third monitor. A party played on that screen. Ten years ago. A woman with deep blue eyes smiled into the camera. Her shoulders draped with her long, brown curls framing her olive skin. She lifted her hands, revealing a brownie with a single lit candle. She mouthed “happy birthday” and laughed.

Sarah.

“We still felt alone out here then, but we were happier,” Flint muttered.

He caught a familiar scent: strawberry and cucumber, the aroma of the shampoo Sarah used. Flint swiveled in his chair and stared down a simulacrum of a short man with wide-rimmed glasses approaching.

“You’re trying to help again, Prometheus,” Flint said, fighting tears in his eyes. “It’s not working.”

The aroma vanished, replaced with the cold smell of dust and metal.

“I apologize. The captain assumed it would be a good idea. She is worried about you since it is the tenth anniversary of—”

The anger welled up inside him, but Prometheus was just following orders. He was a relic found adrift; an artificial, alien intelligence trapped in a probe; his creators extinct. There was no reason to be mad at him. “The captain wants me to be obedient, not comforted. Don’t worry, I’m not a danger to you.”

He turned back to his console so that Prometheus wouldn’t see the tears.

A blue light flashed.

Shit, it was the big blue light!

After decades of eavesdropping on alien signals, someone was sending them a message!

Prometheus gripped Flint’s shoulder, then turned shouted into the PA. “All officers report to the command center. We have a Code Blue.”

The monitor flashed with data and figures.

Don’t stop. Please, don’t stop. Flint thought. Let us find you.

The screen shimmered and flickered. The map turned red.

Flint whistled. “The source is outside of our galaxy. How is that possible?”

“Running diagnostics,” Prometheus droned.

“Flint, touch nothing!” Dr. Erin Fletcher’s voice boomed from behind him. The captain had arrived.

He raised his hands and stepped back from the consoles. “I didn’t do shit this time. I’m annoyed that you still don’t trust me. That was years ago.”

Erin walked passed Flint. “I don’t forgive easily. What did you do

“Nothing. This looks like the real thing. A message.”

“It has to be a fast radio burst, a natural occurrence. Powerful enough to trick our instruments into assuming it was directed at us.”

Prometheus shook his head. “Diagnostics cleared. This is an authentic signal. It’s on the narrow bandwidth we would suspect: the hydrogen line.” He pushed his glasses up his nose.

Erin raised an eyebrow. “Impossible. Who could see us from outside the galaxy? No species has spotted us within our own.”

The two other officers, Charles and Cheryl, rushed through the door. Prometheus continued, “Regardless, Captain, the signal’s source is even farther out that I originally concluded. The amount of power to project a signal this far is astounding.”

The signal was real, beyond the galaxy, and directed at them. Erin just refused to see it.

A single deep ping echoed over the PA system, followed by two high-pitched pings. Silence. Three pings followed. More silence. Four pings. They held their breath, waiting.   Five pings. Silence.

“Four seconds between each series of pings,” Flint said.

“This is a programmed message.” Charles said, out of breath.

“It’s the real thing!” Cheryl exclaimed.

Six pings. Silence.

Erin shook her head. “Prometheus, did you get a source yet?”

Prometheus nodded. “You won’t like it.”

Seven pings. Silence.

“Out with it.” Erin folded her arms across her chest, narrowing her eyes at the AI.

“46.6 billion light years.”

Eights Pings. Silence.

Erin raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me?”

“Running the calculation again, but those are my results,” Prometheus said, his voice seeming to tremble.

Nine Pings. Silence.

Flint counted the seconds on his fingers, he counted to ten without another signal. There was only static. After a minute, a single ping shattered the silence.

Flint counted. In four seconds, two pings came over the PA system.

Prometheus raised an eyebrow to Erin. “And it repeats. This is not a natural phenomenon.”

“And its origin?” Erin replied.

Prometheus sighed, turning back to the screens. “Impossible, but correct. The signal is from the birth of the universe—plus or minus 100 million light years.

Cheryl glared. “Someone sent a signal from the birth of the universe to this location, knowing we would receive it now?”

“Could be from a part of the universe we cannot observe,” Charles said.

Erin gazed over the calculations and the intergalactic map. “Or a message from entities in a parallel universe.”

“Or a god. Or God,” Cheryl said.

Everyone turned to her.

“Well,” she said, “anything that can do this has a technological level way above our own. Hell, it is way above anything Kardashev dreamed up. Close enough to God for me.”

“There isn’t any protocol for this,” said Erin.

“We respond,” Flint said. “Isn’t that what we are doing here? We get a signal; we send a signal back.”

Erin growled. “That’s seems to be your go-to plan.”

Flint rolled his eyes. “It was a mistake, Erin. Sarah had passed away. We sat right here, you and I, watching the civilization crumble on AZR-310 from a thousand light years away.”

Erin’s narrowed. “Yes, I remember, everyone does. I leave for coffee, return, and find you sending useless we-heard-you messages.”

Flint’s chest heaved, his eyes watered. “A world was dying, screaming into the cosmos to anyone who would listen, and Erin, the fearless leader, went for coffee.”

“We have protocols for a reason! Do you remember how many important systems collapsed because of the power you rerouted to send the signal?”

“I get it! I was in pain. Turns out the universe is pain!”

“You could have permanently damaged this station! To respond to a message 1000 thousand light years away! It was useless!”

Cheryl stepped in between Flint and Erin. “Revisiting this old feud doesn’t get us closer to an answer. And how do we even respond to this? What do we say to God?”

“The number 10,” Charles said. “The message is simple, and only requires ten pings in response.”

“But we don’t know what sent the message,” Erin said. “Does the messenger operate outside of the bounds of space-time? Do you want to respond to that? It waves, we wave back. Then, it appears and knocks on the door!”

“Wouldn’t that be something?” Flint mused aloud.

“No, it wouldn’t, Flint!” Erin said. “I prefer the way things are, eavesdropping on past civilizations.”

“By your logic,” Prometheus said, “if an entity not bound by space-time sent this message, it may knock on the door regardless, knowing we would be here.”

“This is our greatest breakthrough: communication from an alien civilization!” Charles said, fixing his sliding glasses. “This could prove parallel universes exist or it may prove that the expanse of our universe is greater than light can show us! There is so much we can’t fathom, we can’t just ignore it!”

“Slow down, Charles,” Cheryl said. “If we send a message, then it is for whoever comes after us to discover them. We are chained to light’s limitations and that signal is a Big Bang away. This station won’t be here by then, nothing that once said ‘Humans Were Here’ will exist. It sounds like a lost cause.”

“Charles is right,” Flint said. “We must let another civilization know we heard them. That for a moment we didn’t feel so alone out here. We’ve eavesdropped and categorized several failed civilizations, most failing to reach their moon. Space is a cruel filter. This is our chance. We can send a message to another civilization that has survived. Maybe they will never receive it. We will likely never get a response. However, we can still make this count. Maybe through the billions of years, another lonely listening post could intercept our message. They could learn about us.”

“Rousing,” Cheryl said.

Flint locked eyes with her. “This is everything we’ve worked for. We don’t do this for us, but for any life out there, charting the uncaring void.”

“By sending the number 10?” Erin asked.

“If that is all we want to do,” Flint said, “but I have another idea: we send them a video. A day in our life. We recorded and stored generations of videos. One small archeological piece of universal history.”

“What do you propose?”

Flint opened a second file window on the monitor. A video played in the window: Sarah’s face filled the monitor, smiling over a lit candle on a cupcake.

“Sarah,” Erin breathed.

The video panned out to see the command staff celebrating, joking, and laughing, except Flint who had been holding the recorder.

Flint craned his neck toward her. “Better times.”

“It’s a noble sentiment, Flint.” Erin placed a hand on his shoulder. “Prometheus, how much energy would it take to send a signal back to its source?”

“Taking advantage of a few celestial objects that could be used to ease energy requirements, it would be impossible to sustain the station and beam a coherent signal that distance.” Prometheus’ toneless voice was a gunshot to Flint’s ears.

Erin nodded. “A total collapse of life-support, Flint. Everyone on this station would die.”

Panic gripped Flint. Erin was blocking him, again. “Are we going to let this moment pass? We discovered we are not alone, and you won’t let us tell our story?”

“No.” Erin said.

“So, we pretend that this astounding event never happened?”

“No, Flint, we record it. We study it, we learn all we can about it. But we don’t kill every person on this ship! This is the greatest discovery of our lives! This is why we are here! But not as a sacrifice!”

“We are finished as a species! This station is all that is left of us! We are staring into the black abyss with no hope of coming back! Someone should know we existed!”

Tears fell from Flint’s eyes. His argument was ludicrous, but he wanted to beat Erin.

Erin exhaled; her forehead straightened. “One hundred people have a right to live, to the bitter end. I will not deny them that. Why would you? What would Sarah say about your proposal?”

“You cold-hearted bitch! If that oxygen tank had not exploded during a routine check, she would be right here cheering me on against you. Don’t you dare spoil her memory for your cause. She believed in this.”

“She wouldn’t want people to die for it, Flint! Not a single one of us. Is this really about her or your grief?”

Flint shook his hand at Erin. His entire arm was shaking. Why was she always so damn right? From a glance he saw a slack-jawed Charles and teary-eyed Cheryl. Flint had gone too far. He collapsed in his chair and lowered his head in his hands.

“I’m sorry.” Flint’s muffled voice sounded cracked, tortured. “I, I love you guys. Everything is too much.” He sought refuge in Sarah’s smiling image on the monitor. He breathed, his body shook. “Maybe I should be transferred to hydroponics.”

“Never, Flint,” Erin said. “Prometheus, is there a way?”

“There are no current solutions, only hypotheses,” Prometheus responded.

“We are a station of geniuses,” Erin said. “Looks like we have work to do.”

“You ask the impossible,” Cheryl said.

“Yes,” Erin said. “The impossible got us here. The evidence suggests where this message originated from and that it was sent to us. Let’s keep looking at the data on this extraordinary situation, while we look to solutions for responding. There is much work to do, so let’s not waste time.”

“And if we fail?”

“Then we use your plan. When the lights here go out, we send our message.”

Flint nodded.

“Very well.” Erin clapped her hands together. “Let’s go to the command mess hall and talk about solutions—while we also celebrate this occasion. We’ll pass the information to the crew tomorrow.”

“My shift isn’t over,” Flint said, standing.

“Take time off,” Erin said. “That is an order. Prometheus can keep a watch on things.”

Prometheus nodded.

Flint tried to smile. He never meant to suggest a sacrifice of the station.  It was a mistake born from desperation of seeing a dream born and still be impossible to reach. An event Sarah would have loved to see. There was a messenger out in the void, searching for them. Flint hoped, one day the station would answer the message, even if he never lived to see it.

© 2019 C.J. Staryk. All Rights Reserved.

CJ’s Notes: This short story was featured in an anthology featuring writers from Corpus Christi, Texas, last year. I reprinted for your enjoyment here for 2020. Just maybe, through all of the deep shadows, there is still a reason for hope. Enjoy.

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Chapter 1: With a Gentle Hand

Hey Echoes,

Since I plan to work more on It Came From the Wizard’s Cellar. In order to get everyone caught up, I will post the older chapters throughout the next few weeks. So here is Chapter 1.  I decided to do it as a blog post, so it was easier to find. The chapter can still be found through the links in the serial’s Table of Contents below. Enjoy

Stay safe, stay distant, stay healthy.

Check out the continuing serial here.

Chapter 1: With a Gentle Hand

With a gentle hand Clair caressed the Weird. White, transient eyes, lacking pupils, peered at her. The wooden, slimy flesh of the Weird absorbed random eyes, while others surfaced along its mass. The pulsating, blue light from the portal beside her reflected off the walls of her basement lab. The creature’s skin undulated in rhythm to the portal.

Clair sobbed tears of joy at the Weird. She was moments from complete success. The university would be so jealous of her accomplishment, they would have to accept her back. Piercing beyond the bounds of reality without their assistance–or consent–was a great feat. Her first failure would not define her; this would be her legacy.

She brushed her hand lovingly along its leathery, wooden skin. “You will be my great victory,” she whispered.

A toothless maw coalesced from the flesh around it. It made wet, smacking noises. A tendril of flesh appeared in the maw’s center. “Bic-tar-ee.”

Claire smiled from ear-to-ear with intellectual ecstasy. It learned to simulate a tongue in less than a minute of creation. Somewhere within its fleshy mass were nascent vocal cords. But how did it know to do that?

Another maw erupted from the oily flesh. It coughed and spewed a mass onto the floor. The mass morphed from blue to brown and quickly desiccated.

The Weird shuddered. The undulated blue color on its body faded. The maws moaned with low gurgling sounds, like a submerged, drowning animal.

It was dying!

An entity from another reality could not last long here without assistance. It needed a shell. A body to meld with its own to survive the harsh conditions of Claire’s world. But she knew this; her mistake–her disgrace–at the university taught her this.

Claire stood, cradling the dying mound of flesh in her arms. The toothless maws slurped against her robes, searching.

“That’s not the type of mother I want to be,” she grumbled.

The Weird gurgled and slurped in response.

With her free hand, Claire reached for the cage with her bothersome calico locked inside. The cage door was open! The smart bastard escaped! Claire checked under laboratory table; no cat.

The Weird squirmed and quivered in her arms. It was hemorrhaging, desiccated pieces fell to the ground like a trail of breadcrumbs.

Clair groaned and shouted, “Dammit, Nicodemus where are you?” She peaked under a storage table. Finding no cat, she continued, “Here, buddy. I just need to sacrifice you for progress.”

The Weird wailed from one of many toothless maws. “Neek-oh-de-muth.”

Claire’s greatest achievement–the greatest achievement of any wizard–was going to die in her hands if she couldn’t find that crafty little feline.

A sting of pain shot through her arm as her muscles were torn, like an attack from a dagger. She spun around, the room was empty. The dagger sliced further up her arm. She dropped to her knees from the pain. She let go of the Weird. It hung from her arm. It was attached to her! Claire stared as  a stinger the size of a knife morphed from the Weird’s flesh. It punctured her just below the armpit.

Clair screamed.

A toothless maw and a single, white eye stared back at her. The maw screamed, a high-pitched gurgle. Claire, screaming, reached for the Weird. The maw wailed in response, imitating Claire’s voice, a drowning, horrendous imitation.

The Weird stabbed her left shoulder blade. Claire’s grip weakened. Blood poured freely from the wounds and many toothless maws licked it up.

She screamed.

A chorus of slimy maws replied, echoing her fear, her distress.

Her voiced was muffled, as if Claire was pulled underwater. She felt pressure on her ears. The Weird was squirming its way into her brain. It was looking for a place to nest, to be protected from the harsh environment of her world. The Weird was doing to her, what she wanted it to do to her cat!

Claire collapsed to the ground and the flesh of the Weird covered her face and poured up into her mouth and nostrils.

Then, Claire saw Nicodemus. The cat had just come out from behind a bench. It hissed at her.

Claire reached a bloody hand out to her cat. If she could catch it, she was going to strangle it. The cat jumped back and hissed. Claire yelled at the cat, but the Weird’s flesh rushed into her mouth, gagged her throat.

Undulating blue flesh covered Claire’s eyes and pressed inward. The pain was excruciating. Claire screamed in silence.

But she heard her voice. “Neek-oh-dee-muth.”

© 2017 C.J. Staryk. All Rights Reserved.

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Calling Out Into the World

Hey Echoes,

I hope everyone is safe and healthy in the mess that 2020 has become. It’s amazing how a stay-at-home order feels like the perfect time to write, but turns out more demoralizing (although quite necessary). I would prefer free time that didn’t have me constantly thinking of overburdened medical workers and the mounting death toll. Many lives snuffed out before it was time. I have no idea what to bring here to combat that.

I guess the only thing I can do is to continue writing. Perhaps something here will continue to entertain, distract, or inspire. It might help my sanity as well. I have a short story that is nearly ready for editing. Another short I have been editing for far too long. There is a third science fiction story that was published last year in an anthology that I will share in a couple weeks.

Also, a friend recommended some quicker turn around in my three serial stories. An obvious oversight on my part, but I decided to focus on one serial through to completion and repeat. The current focus will be It Came From the Wizard’s Cellar. For the next several weeks, I will start highlighting the earlier chapters while I work on new ones.

But today I wanted to highlight an older story. This is a story that any new followers may have not looked at. It’s my first short story, when I was experimenting with my writing style. So here is a link to Runner.

Please, enjoy! More is to follow

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Here We Go!

DSCN2066 (2)

So, I did a thing. I wrote/published Dark Clouds Rising some time ago, but I wanted to do a reprint while I start working on the second book. So here is the new version of my first book and the beginning of my fantasy series: Black Star Saga.

It is available on Amazon as a paperback and Kindle

Dark Clouds Rising

So, check it out if you like. I plan to dedicate part of this site to this series. There is more to come.

 

 

 

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The Secret of Pelicans

IMG_20191212_074656202

So, what is with this grainy, blurry photo, you ask? Well one, I was on a boat and it was windy. But, like every “good” paranormal video or photo, it has to be blurry or poor quality to lend credence to how it wouldn’t be faked. Looked at these pelicans, it appears that they are involved in some eldritch ritual as the sun is coming up. Are they making the sun rise? Are they flexing and stretching their muscles for a day of hunting and scooping unsuspecting fish? Are they ringing in the day with some ritual to keep deep Cthulhu at bay? We may never know.

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Chapter 10: Inkling

Follow the links to other chapters in this story here.

Skin burned. Eyes burned. Nasal passages and throat burned. The flesh under her fingernails burned. She was swimming through a humid mix of scalding air and boiling water. If she screamed, this mix rushed down her throat, drowning and muffling her, until release.

Release. The pain subsided. Relief. It wouldn’t last. Soon the boiling humidity would return and Claire would drown and burn in what felt like her thousandth death. There was little time.

Claire gazed at a silver-gray void populated by strange creatures as malleable as clay with lifespans shorter than the most prolific insects.

Others were also screaming. Claire felt their pain. They distracted her. They were victims. She hated them.

There was also the ubiquitous Presence observing her, unseen, like a chill across the back of her neck. It became more oppressive with every creature it had consumed from her world. Using each being’s thoughts as its own. It created an observer from this amalgamation, and it could learn. The Presence learned pain first.

Waves of boiling humidity plunged Claire into a screaming fit. She drowned under a scalding surf; her screams muffled by scorching water and gas pouring down her throat. Agony was all she knew.

Then blackness, then relief.

Claire, the Presence, and the victims were banished to the Otherplace: The Weird’s world. She did not die, but merged with the Weird when it consumed her. It was a fate worse than death. The event trapped her in a cycle of pain, death, and relief. She needed to focus, she needed to break the cycle. Only then could she alter her situation. If she was still alive, Claire was pushing forward.

The Presence, the Weird, was near, a student cheating during an examination, it looked over her shoulder for a solution it could use.

Not without me.

NO. NEED YOU.

Buffeting, scalding waves returned. A cacophony of agony reached Claire’s ears. They burned, she felt her flesh warping, swelling, and blistering until they burst. Her eyes burst, Claire’s head swelled.

Blackness. Relief.

NEED YOU.

Why did it need me? Claire fumbled for a solution. The Presence was waiting for her, waiting for her to do what? The Weird felt pain in her world, she knew that. It needed a host for survival. No, Claire had been wrong about that. It had to consume to adjust, replace its original mass with matter from her home world. The Weird needed to find relief for its pain. But now, now . . .

PAIN. HELP.

The humid, scalding air/water mix seeped through Claire’s pores. Her skin blistered. Hot liquid flowed through her veins, boiling her blood, bursting her heart. The victims screamed, Claire screamed.

Blackness. Death. Relief.

This is madness. Claire reached for her thoughts. The Weird was home. But it was not at peace, Claire existed. The victims existed. The Weird had consumed its prey and assimilated their flesh, their thoughts, into it.

“Saves us! Someone, please save us! This is too much!”

Their screams were too much. Claire closed her eyes and drifted. She could muffle the mob’s agony this way.

Focus.

The most important lesson a wizard would learn was that focus required a disciplined mind. Without it, incantations could be interrupted, words could be mispronounced, hand movements could falter. The first steps to a disciplined mind was to compartmentalize, and she was, at present, sharing a mind.

Agony returned. Her fingertips burned. Hot, humid air slipped under her fingernails. She screamed.

“Not again!”

“Save us!” Wailed the others.

“Not you, me!”

Claire focused on the pain. It burned down her throat. She heaved and vomited it up. With discipline, Claire could manipulate her pain. She pushed back against the pain; its tendrils pushed deeper. Claire roared.

Stalemate.

The victims screamed.

There was so much pain; it was everywhere. It encircled her. Claire couldn’t eradicate it, but she could transfer it.

She knew where to send it.

The screams of her lessers grew in desperation. Their suffering was her gain. Now, she could focus on the problem at hand.

She needed to get back home. She was in a race against pain.

© 2019 C.J. Staryk. All Rights Reserved.

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Echoes in an Anthology

Hello Echoes,

So, I came out of my lair again to push the Corpus Christi 2019 writers anthology again. This time I got pictures for proof that I am in it. Check it on Amazon, there is a kindle and hard copy version of it. My favorite contribution in the anthology so far is Joel Ortiz’s The Chupacabra of San Diego, Texas. It is a great, fun poem that should become a common campfire tale. Just check it out.

Also, I have a new Chapter for It Came from the Wizard’s Cellar coming soon.

 

 

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Wednesday Update: I Did a Thing

Hey Echoes,

My short Story, Echoes, will be coming out soon in the anthology Corpus Christi Writers 2019.

The short story takes place at a deep space listening station that is the last settlement of humanity. Their routine is thrown into a spiral when something sends them a message.

An excerpt is available at Mays Publishing, so take a look at my excerpt as well as the many local writers who contributed to the anthology. It has been a great thing for Mays Publishing to do. I am grateful for it.

Echoes Excerpt

Just Laugh,

CJ

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