Monday, 29 October 2012

Late Goodbye

Hey guys. Just got back from the London MCM Expo. Mixed feelings about that. Awesome con but its hard to say goodbye. 

This is a story I just wrote as soon as I got home. I had to pour my pent up feelings out and this is it. I apologize in advance and after you'll read it you'll know why. 

Dedicated to the 2 other people in the story. You know who you are. You'll be the one crying hardest.

Late Goodbye

They stood on deck waving at the lone woman on the pier. All had left, yet she remained; rooted on the spot she clutched the bag. Her hand shook, as if all the emotions that no word could ever convey were seeping through that one single gesture. It must have been all she could muster not to jump at sea and claw her way towards them.
They watched, intent on savouring every second that she remained in their sight. In their minds they thought that that moment would last forever but their rational brain informed them that the waves gently rocking beneath them was pulling them away from her, one slow excruciating moment at a time. Indeed a harsh mistress the sea is.
One of them had moist eyes and tears welled up. He knew he would cry. He tried not to, tried to save face, to force that defiant pride of his. But, to hell with it. Tears dropped from his chin and coalesced with the ocean. She mirrored his crying, managing one tear from her slant eyes. It was indeed a most heartbreaking scene.
The other stood there, his knuckles white against the railing. Despite the warmth he felt in his tear ducts he refused to shed a tear. He wanted this moment to be about the other two. It was a connection that transcended friendship, even romance. It was pure magic. He waved, and the others seconded his motion.
And that was it. Distance spread and their eyesight failed them. She was gone. One of them trembled in the cabin; be it from the unforgiving and uncaring cold or from them loss of perhaps one of the rarest people ever bestowed upon this world. The other didn't know. But he left the cabin altogether. But before hearing his companion pour out his anguish on the pillowcase.
They arrived home much later. They had stopped counting the hours, days and weeks. They were here and she was there and that was all that mattered. The first man had ceased his sobbing after the first day. But the second knew better.
At his house, the latter unpacked his belongings and came across a trinket. A shell, woven in string. Delicate, yet strong it was supposed to bring luck to the bearer. But as he held it, he didn't feel lucky. Instead he allowed himself what his foolish stubbornness had refused him to do the first time round. He cried and sobbed. His mind welled into despair and he struggled to find something to ground him. He took out a folder and all the trinkets which had constructed his journey and memory. On a paper he scrawled the three names that mattered in the world; one woman, two men. He placed all the trinkets in the folder and underneath the names he wrote “Forever bound to one another. You’ll always be in my heart.”
As he put the folder away, more tears splashed against the tile floors. But he managed a smile. Small yet true. He found himself relishing the memory, the emotion, one shared by three people. There is no bond stronger than that. He smiled because in a world shared by three inhabitants, he belonged.

Friday, 19 October 2012


It was a typical day in the secluded La Fortunata area in Eureka, California—the sun beating down as if to smite all the evil that permeates every corner of the land,  sirens constantly wailing in their pursuit of an endless supply of criminals, and the usual plateau of sounds as everyday civilians carried on with their daily routines.
I fall under the latter category.
My name is Erik Ashendale and people stared at me as I strode toward the elementary school some twenty blocks from my office.
Maybe it was the black trench coat. Maybe it was the sword handle that poked out now and then from under the side of the coat, placed horizontally across my lower back after all, for quick reach. Maybe it was the clank of metal as people noticed my twin pistols with the fear usually reserved for notorious gang members.
But mostly it was my reputation: Erik the Wizard, Erik the Creep, Erik who gets rid of supernatural nasties while everybody else prays to whatever deity they believe in. They all knew what I did for a living. They all poked their heads into my office window, hoping to catch a glimpse of me performing some ritual which summoned forth some ancient demonic entity. All they saw was my extensive collection of trinkets and, occasionally, my cat licking itself.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Shout-Outs, Schedules and Lecturers

People of Earth. It is I, the Mad Writer. Please bow down, drop whatever it is you're doing (cos I'm more important and entertaining anyway) and listen. Well, read. Since you can't listen to words. Well you can but not in this case. Wait what the hell was I gonna say? Maybe I should change my name to Alzheimers Writer. That'd be a little closer to the mark.

So since I've clearly been drained out of stories and the muse that tickle my creative sweet spot seems to be on the Vegas vacation; I shall once again convene to ranting, and strangely enough, thanking people. Yes you saw right. I, the narcissistic, sarcastic, satirical and misanthropic douche-bag, will be thanking people. And in a sincere voice too. Maybe the world really is coming closer to the end. Although I still maintain that the 21 December 2012 theory is just a Mayan practical joke. The elders of the tribe are sitting on Alpha Centauri or some other far away galaxy, smoking a pipe and laughing at us, Homo Sapien x3, for being gullible monkeys. 

But I digress. Without further ado, I have people to thank and I'd rather get that out of the way so I can start the real blog post, which mainly revolves around my bitching. 

Person number one on my list is a little girl named Emma. And I use 'little girl' in the sparsest of senses. Emma is a teenager and a friend of mine who is something of a promoter, when she's not busy doing school work. Again, 'promoter' is used because I have no idea what the cock she does. All I know is that this chick made her pals buy my book, selling a total of 5. Then to prove that she has a giant swinging pair that can rival any dude's, she made her school teacher read the book, and thanks to that, a copy of Firstborn is now available at the St. Monika school library. Not only that, but she is also the administrator of my still-in-construction website as well as the first person to try some Legacy style fan art. So a shout-out to this amazing gal. 

Shout-out number two goes to a little group of people who work at Book Tweeting Service. (dot com, people. Apparently it's a website.) Particularly, I would like to thank Stef and Colette. Here's a little story: As those who know me can verify with vehemence, I have no managerial or people skills to speak of. So when I needed to convert my book to .epub and .mobi formats for a bunch of online book stores, Stef was more than happy to do this for me, and at a very cheap cost. Now one would think that this woman would only deal with me during office hours. But no. When a specific site (Lulu) kept being a bitch, Stef and I kept corresponding until 2AM!!, until I was reduced to tears and uttered more curses than the entire British navy put together. I am now working with Colette, who has already proven to be extremely helpful. 
So what I'm trying to say here is; Write a book, get it edited and get these guys to convert and tweet about it. They have proven to be the best of the best, and just damn nice. Great service, cheap prices, and indispensable to any independent author out there. 
P.s. I'm not receiving commission on any of this. They will have a surprise when they read this. Yeah, I just like them that much.

Shout-out number trois (no I haven't invented a new number), goes to a lovely gentleman named Jesmond. Now I know that on this blog I constantly bitch about how there are no decent professional services in the country, which is true. But I have to say that I have found the black sheep of the local publishing industry, most of which is populated by dim-witted fuck-sticks who ask you what shape does a book have (see previous tweet where I invite one such fuck-stick to shoot herself repeatedly). Jesmond heads the 5 Star Printing company here in Malta and did a very professional job on printing my novels as well as posters and fliers. Again, if you're a Maltese artist (and I know you're out there) and you need something printed, seek this company out and you'll be happy with the results.

And now that the shout-outs are over with, it's time for some bitching. The weather has started to turn sour and grey here, and what a perfect accompaniment to the first few lecture weeks. My mantra is to try and get through the day with a minimum number of casualties. 
I've just realized what a waste of time 90% of my lectures are. I mean, I get that you (my lecturers) are an insecure little bald git who has no aspirations in life but spewing out facts that other people have written. Hell, an hour on wikipedia will tell all you need on the subject better than some lecturers. And I get that you guys have the teaching and presentation skills of a howler monkey on dialysis and Prozac. But that is no excuse for presenting the class with a power point presentation and reading through it for an entire 2 hour lecture. And when I say 'Power point' I actually mean 'Wall of text'. I mean it says it right on the till: power POINT. It should be a small point, that is small, concise and gets to the cocking point!!! When each of your slides looks like the friggin Declaration of Independence, something is amiss.
And another thing: I read up to 30 or 40 novels a year. I've been reading full length stories and anthologies since the age of 4. I really don't need you to READ FOR ME. I can do that by myself. I can understand what I read my myself too, cos I'm a smart cookie. Essentially what I'm trying to get at is; if your idea of teaching a class of smart people (which you've rendered semi-comatose with your droning) is to READ AT THEM, then you're more useless than a used condom. 

Now that that's out of my system, I can get on with my post. Lemme lay down my schedule for you so that potential fans (the 7 left) can get an idea of when to expect new stories. 
From now till January, it's pretty much gonna be a slow pace for me. I got assignments and a dissertation to finish, not to mention exams (hopefully the last I ever take). I'm gonna try and work hard so that I finish a good thesis by January, and let that take a back seat until the deadline in April. For the second semester I believe that I will have no exams, but just assignments. Which, as annoying as they are, I can manage in one weekend. 
This is good. For 2 reasons. Reason 1: I need a break from the Ashendales and the Legacy series. I will be promoting and selling like crazy, I hope, and after working 8 months non stop on this, I'm tired. 
Reason 2: I wish to continue writing book 2 of the Legacy series next year. I need to get cracking by February, so I'm gonna take all the time I have to, to get rid of all school work, before taking on a new writing project. And this one, boys and girls, is going to be massive. 
This summer, I think I will also take up a couple of projects. I have 2 short stories which I have to finish, both part of the Legacy series. (One is finished and the other is halfway typed.) I also wanna start a new series, of which I will reveal nothing about yet. I have written just the first page of the first book and until I have enough time to properly cultivate the story and give it the attention it deserves, I'm not gonna discuss it any further. 
Also next year, Shaun and I will be undertaking the creation of our comic. Not sure when the first chapters will be available though; we're both busier than Satan's department in Las Vegas.
As for more short stories: I dunno guys. I never planned those out. But my guess is that they're gonna be even more sporadic and far apart now more than ever. I mean, seriously; just look at my schedule!

And, I almost forgot (not really), this year, I have 2 comic-cons to attend. One is the local comic-con, and more on that in later posts. In exactly one week, I will attend the London MGM Expo for the first time ever. It will be my first time at an event this huge, and also my first time selling a product. This morning, Eisei asked me how do I feel about the con. My answer was a clever quip. That was to mask my true feelings. Here's how I truly feel about the con:
Hope that was clear enough. 

Stay tuned for more (later)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Danse Macabre

Final part of the Hisoka story is up. Enjoy.

Danse Macabre

The camp was nervous. Members of the troupe were on edge, speaking in hushed tones. Never in their brief history together had this ever happened to them. They were uncertain on how to react. So they lamented and strummed their stringed instruments in slow, half- hearted ballads. When that didn’t work they tried to console in themselves, tightening up their security. As if they actually knew what they were doing.
He had to make an effort not to laugh. Black sheep, all of them. Easy prey dressed in dark funerary clothing. This must be their last day of the Mourning Ritual; a practice where the closest members of the deceased would place flowers and songs on the tomb. Three days to mourn, three days to spill their hearts in song and prayer. Hisoka would help them with that last task.
He strode out of the bushes, in plain sight. No In, no Zetsu, not even so much as an effort to make his stride silent. The first members saw him and froze in their place. Others noticed him and ran, screaming words that Hisoka did not register. He was too focused on his task. ‘Maybe all of you together will prove enough to satisfy me,’ he thought.
“You monster!” There it was. The few members with Nen that had some combat value attempted to take revenge of the magician. On the boy they knew since he was found in the middle of nowhere some years ago. The boy who observed and did his job without complaint. The boy with the scary glint in his eye.
Hisoka remained quiet. He had nothing to say to these people. He stood still giving them time to encircle him and assume the best strategic position against him.
“We’re going to avenge Ela. Die you abomination,” yelled the closest one as he waved a broad sword at him. Hisoka exhaled and, in a flash, disappeared from their sight.
“Where did he go?” asked flabbergasted the sword-wielder. From across the caravan, a crunching noise was emitted accompanied by the faint cry of surprise followed by sudden death. Everyone turned to look and found the magician standing tall next to two corpses. A young couple, newly wed barely a fortnight ago. The act enraged the members of the troupe. And they all charged at him.
Hisoka let out a soft smile. Chaos and pandemonium. This was HIS battlefield. And he would give them a propped welcome. One by one, members fell, each dying without actually recognizing what happened and how. Hisoka would simply appear next to a person and later disappear, leaving only a corpse. Only the elder, the troupe’s eldest person who served as something of counselor as well as an advisor and historian, recognized something amiss. His eyes did not miss the long black hair tucked under his shirt. The night his most of the magician’s features so that he was a shadowed ghoul, but the elder saw it under the moon’s light. As he fell, seconds before dying, he saw something sticking out of a nearby dead troupe member. It looked round with a long, thin spike jutting out. Just like a needle.

Karn heard the yells and screams but was slow in his reaction. It wasn’t just the fact that he was weak and crippled. Or the fact that, during their last encounter, Hisoka had crippled him further. It was shock. Karn had given up on life. His last shred of happiness in this life was gone. He had abandoned his drink, consuming only to avoid going insane from the withdrawal symptoms. Pain had been a part of his life for the past 2 days. He had not slept nor ate, simply refusing to move from the spot where he buried his wife and erected an altar of stones. Flowers and paper already began to cover it. It was then that he’ll break tradition and burn everything.
Karn wanted to burn Hisoka. That abomination who took everything from him. He wanted to kill him so bad it hurt. The hate burned a hole in his chest, sucking whatever last shreds of life remained in him. But he knew that he could never reach Hisoka. The confrontation was clear enough. Even if he managed to corner him, the magician was beyond him. Karn couldn’t become stronger. He knew it, Hisoka knew it, his wife, now dead in the ground, knew it. He had reached the maximum point in his training and he was unable to improve any more. Whatever he had learnt had served him well in his youth, back when he was a rowdy youngster. Now he used those same abilities to entertain others. He didn’t like it but it was the safest life he could find, away from Ela’s monarch father. He hated having taken away from that royal life. But she insisted that they marry and elope and Karn could never truly say no to her.
But when he heard the yells and screams, he recognized the abomination. Rather he felt it. Hisoka was back. Karn stood up, determined to kill his wife’s murderer or die trying. He planned to join his wife either way. If he could take the bastard with him, all the better.

Karn got up and made for the caravan, teeth clenched. A thud stopped him in his tracks. An inch away from his foot, corner embedded in the ground, was a playing card. That creepy joker smiled like the sadist it reflected. Karn spun and saw Hisoka smiling and fiddling with another card. His index finger twitched and a flower shot from the grave to his hand. Hisoka sniffed it theatrically before throwing it back with the pile.
“Hello Ela,” he said facing the grave. His lopsided smile and playful tones dripped in mockery. “I love what you’ve done with the place,” he continued to the grave.
Karn spat out a yell and growled, all his anger bursting forth. Despite his injuries, he hobbled forward, bounding like a wounded gazelle, towards the magician. The Magician let out a chuckle and, with a flick of his palm, the entire contents on the altar, paper and flowers, flew in the air. They created a torrent between the charging Conjurer and his enemy, hiding Hisoka from sight. Karn swatted them away desperate not to lose sight of Hisoka. He caught his shadow amongst the tree and made after him.
“Ya bastard. Get back here and fight like a man,” growled Karn as he hobbled through the dark forest. He kept his eyes peeled for any change in the environment; a slight discoloration in the dark foliage, a sound out of place, aura lingering on places. He saw a crouching figure and charged for it, stabbing through its back. With the force he put through, Karn toppled forwards, stumbling into the bush. He went through the figure. A figure that looked just like Hisoka. Or at least a shadow and discolored version of him. The darkness made it nearly impossible to discern between hues, only discoloration. He could clearly see the leaves, colored in a purple shade which Hisoka wore. But upon examination he realized that they were just leaves. It was just a bush. A bush that looked just like Hisoka. Until he touched it and applied Gyo, he remained fooled.
“What devilry is this?” he muttered. Then he remembered his wine bottle and how the boy had fooled him with his trick. This must have been the same trick. That boy was certainly a devil. He got up and began walking. After a while every step felt heavier as if something was holding him down. Was this more of the boy’s trickery? As if on cue he heard a chuckle and a finger snapping. With quick gusts of wind, cards buried themselves in Karn, penetrating him from all directions.
“I’m right here, if you want me,” came Hisoka’s voice. Karn pried every single card from his body, rage and hatred suppressing any feelings of pain. He followed the voice and found himself in a small clearing. Hisoka was leaning against a tree branch, playing with a caterpillar which had somehow made it on his hand.
“This species of caterpillar later on becomes a butterfly which is very attracted the scent of blood,” said Hisoka. He lifted his finger to demonstrate the crawling insect. “I can feel it practically itching for you already,” he said.
“GO TO HELL.” Karn shot a knife towards Hisoka. About 10 meters before hitting Hisoka the knife slowed down significantly and pierced the caterpillar. The insect fell, writhing in agony. A droplet of blood formed on Hisoka’s finger as he stepped on the bug, ending its misery.
“Why would you do that?” he whined at Karn.
The man took a heavy step forward, practically dragging himself across the clearing. “I am going to destroy everything you hold precious,” growled Karn.
“Funny you should say that. I’ve recently made a new friend. Don’t be shy. . .” From behind Hisoka emerged a figure.
“. . .Hisoka.” A second Hisoka, identical to the first stood beside the one preciously chatting with Karn.

“What trick is this? You can double yourself?” shouted Karn. Hisoka burst out laughing.
“Oh my, you really don’t have any imagination at all,” said Hisoka holding his belly.
“I am assuming that I may remove the disguise now,” said the new coming Hisoka. He looked like the Magician but his voice was completely different.
“Yes yes show him,” replied Hisoka. The doppelganger reached for his face and peeled off a thin mask. Illumi’s face shifted as he let loose the facial muscles he was contracting for the disguise.
“How?” Karn was still lost. Hisoka grabbed the mask and, with a little pressure it, crumbled into fine dust which dissipated into the air.
“It was this troupe that taught me how to create my own make up. I simply applied my own original Hatsu, Texture Surprise, and Illumi here could easily wear my face as if it were his own.”
“Tricks and cheating. That’s all you’re good for,” yelled Karn. He tried to take a step further but he found himself stuck. His entire body was held in place, as if he had been trying to walk in glue.
“Yes. Tricks and cheating actually achieve results. This is another one of mine, Bungee Gum,” said Hisoka. “See for yourself.”  He snapped his fingers and the air around Karn rippled and twisted. His arms were forced outstretched and he found himself being lifted off the ground, his toes barely scraping the grass. Karn and Illumi cast Gyo on their eyes and saw Hisoka’s ability. The clearing was a mass of aura threads, stretching one end to the other, all intertwining with each other. A spider’s web.
“Shall I kill him?” asked stoically Illumi. Hisoka flicked his finger and something shot out of Karn’s pocket and into his hand. The Jester Tarot card.
“No, this one is mine. Consider this the termination of our little contract.” An instant later, Hisoka darted toward Karn, a predatory gaze in his eye. He didn’t give his old mentor time to speak. He simply slashed the card across his throat.
“My task was to kill ALL members of the troupe, Hisoka,” said Illumi. “You know full well that Father is watching.”
Hisoka walked closer to him until the two teenagers were inches away from eachother. “Not here he isn’t.”
Illumi shot him a quizzical glace. “This area is bathed in my aura. And my Bungee Gum is still active. I can also apply Texture Surprise to it and alter the image from anyone watching from outside. We are truly alone for now.” Hisoka took a breath. “But I suppose that won’t last long. So how about you and I have a chat.”
Illumi’s eyes darted from side to side. He wasn’t worried about the Bungee Gum; he could easily break out of it. Better yet he could easily kill Hisoka, albeit there was no guarantee that that will deactivate the web. But something in the magician’s eyes intrigued him. Illumi and his father had different ways of doing things. And Illumi knew that one of these days he will need his father’s position as head of household. A deal with Hisoka might just be the hidden Ace he needed.
“Speak,” he said.
“You and I are of the same breed, Illumi. We will both benefit with an arrangement.”
“And what would this arrangement entail?”
“We don’t kill each other, just yet. I’m sure that in the near future, with the way we approach life, we will need each other’s abilities. I will profit from you and you will profit from me. The moment this ceases to be so, we will simply eliminate each other.”
Illumi cocked his eyebrows. “Eliminate each other you say? In what way are we equal?”
Hisoka chuckled. “I am the Yin to your Yang. We are opposite and similar all in one. I propose mutual aid. Which you will need if you want to be in charge of your own actions someday. I’ve already proven that I can persuade people such as your father to alter their plans. Are you sure you want to throw me away that easily?”
Illumi spun and turned toward Karn lifting the body easily on his shoulder. “If you are still alive in two days, consider us in agreement. Now as per your instruction, I shall ‘burn everything’. ”
Hisoka lifted the Tarot card which he was still holding and completely deactivated his aura trap. “Don’t forget this,” he said as he threw the card at the assassin. Illumi caught it and looked at Hisoka questioningly.
“I have no need for sentiment or attachment. The memories will serve me for nothing. After all-” Hisoka started walking away “- I believe it’s high time I made some new ones.”