Here We Go!

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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

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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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Update Wednesday: Wizard Troubles

Hello Echoes,

I know it has been while, but I’m still frantically typing on the keyboard. I’ve been doing a lot of editing on other projects and set the website aside for a little bit. However, I managed to edit It Came From the Wizard’s Cellar recently. I just finished editing Chapter Five. The changes weren’t large, just a small addition or deletion here and there. I also wanted to fix some story points that conflicted with each other. I started this editing project as I began Chapter Ten, but the next chapter has been a pain to craft. I was likely trying to address it from the wrong angle, so I changed the narrative in the latest draft to experiment. I’m not sure if I’m proud or disturbed by how much I will focus on a three to four-page chapter for a silly, fun story. Alas, that is the writer’s life.

That’s it for now. So, I’ll just leave a picture here to tide you over. Stay awesome.

–CJ

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Chapter Ten: Hatching a Plan

Mentally shocked, Mendin kept his composure rigid in the sector commander’s presence. How could the probe still be operational? It had imploded.

Where did it go?

“We scanned the planet repeatedly,” the sector commander continued. “Nothing. The Terran cruisers must be doing the same.”

She glared at a Terran cruiser’s projection. Her eyes narrowed. A snarl exposed long incisors.

“They must be tracking it.” Mendin mused.

“We don’t know how. We can find no trace.”

Mending looked at planet’s projection below them. The wreckage of the artifact lay there. In theory, during the implosion, a piece of it escaped the destruction. Did it phase? Yes. There would be a merry chase if the probe were still in normal space. That was how it vanished every other time the Terrans approached it. Terrans could only track it from system to system if—

“The Terran’s are tracking a phase space signal.” Mendin mused aloud.

The sector commander growled.

“Where else would the artifact go where we couldn’t track it?”

Firehoon nodded. “It is the only conceivable option, as impossible as it sounds. Unless, the brain of the artifact is still somewhere on the planet.”

“If that were the case, I think the Terrans would already be down there, searching. After they tried to chase us away.”

“I’m not sure the Terran cruisers want to fire at us,” Firehoon said.

“No, they are not aggressive.” The sector commander growled. “They possess weaknesses they accommodate for with their alliances. We do not have such a concern.”

Mendin raised an eyebrow, but stayed focused on the projections. He avoided looking toward the sector commander with doubt on his face.

“All of these vessels may have the technology to track the probe. We need only one of them.”

The sector commander walked back to the desk. Projections of Terran ships and the space around melded into a tactical battle map of the system, zooming on a lone Terran vessel near the edge of the star system.

Mendin smiled. The Theseus. Still limping after the Curtani had first engaged it.

“That is our target,” she said.

Firehoon stared at the blinking target on the 3D map. “For the moment, we are trapped between two Terran cruisers. Even with surprise, we may not win that confrontation. They likely have their weapons trained on us.”

“True.” The sector commander said.

“They could outrun us, if we attempted to intercept the Theseus,” Mendin said.

“Also, true.”

“Do we have reinforcements arriving?”

“No. We need that ship. I cannot risk the Terrans intercepting any message we send out of the system.”

Mendin turned and bowed his head to keep from looking at her. “Commander, you are risking your life on a hunch, the hunch of a simple soldier. Please, reconsider.”

“Please, your opinion matters little. The artifact and the Terran phase space tracking technology are out priorities. If they can track through phase space, they may have command of any battlefield. If they collect the artifact before us, well, we really don’t know what advantage that gives them.”

Her voiced boomed over the PA system, “Crew, battle stations prepare to engage the phase drives on my command!”

Mendin swallowed. The Terran vessels were too close.

Firehoon eyes widened. “A bluff?”

The sector commander growled. “A promise.”

Mendin’s legs weakened. Fear. He had sensed fear few times in his life: his first drop onto a battlefield, his first command on a drop, and now, phasing so close to enemy vessels. If the Terrans did not move in time, or if they fired in response, it was over.

“Helm, coordinates have been sent. It will be a quick jump. Do not fail,” the sector commander’s voice continued to boom throughout the room.

Do not fail, Mendin thought. A planetary system was a landmine for phase splashing.

“Lieutenant.”

Mendin felt the sector commander’s breath across his neck.

“Mobilize a team to board the Theseus. We will have to be quick.”

Mendin lifted his head and stood straight with pride. “Yes, commander. I live to serve and to die in service.”

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

Start at the beginning of this story here.

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Returning to a Family Curse

Hello Echoes,

The thing about experimenting on this website is the ability to change things when they didn’t quite work out. Just Another Family Curse was one of the three serials I started on the website, but I never liked how it turned out. A family curse felt like more of a hot mess, but I like the idea and the theme. So, I kept it on the site and decided to try a second pass at it. So, I reworked the first chapter and I already think the direction is greatly improved. Let me know what you think.

Stay Awesome.

So check out the new improved Chapter One for Just Another Family Curse.

As also check out my FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for your story needs.

 

 

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Just a Creek

Hey Echoes,

During the winter, I head back home to see the family. I also visit the place that would always give me a sense of calm from the outside world and the theater of lunatics in my head. It is a county park wrapped around the local reservoir. It’s modest, but it’s my spot. I thought I would share a couple of those pictures. Also, south Texas is getting humid and warming up, so here is something to remind me of cooler temperatures. I was also playing with different shots of the same stream. It’s always something about bodies of water that gets me. A small stream to the wide ocean, it does not matter.

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2019 Updates

Hello Echoes,

I hope everyone is well. I have been okay and I am crawling out of some unfriendly places. I was deep in a science fiction short story that I want published in a local short story anthology. So that is exciting! I am also doing some last edits for my book, while working on the second one. However, I haven’t forgotten about all of you. I have a new chapter in The Artifact ready to drop and I’m rewriting Just Another Family Curse.

I also plan to publish more of my photos, even if they will not be part of a Vagabonding story. Just a little blog post here and there to stay active when I’m deep in writing or editing.

I am contemplating making a journal about my struggle with depression, but it’s so personal that it’s daunting. Mental illness needs more voices and there does not seem to be a lot of male voices (or I haven’t seen much of it inside my bubble). I am interested what you may think of that. It would help me write something, even when I feel I don’t have the strength to do it.

Anyway, these are just some updates/awesome. Stay awesome and I will see you around.

CJ Staryk

 

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