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Dragons of the Cliffs: Anden’s Challenge

Posted by MDViews on January 11, 2015

Following starts the prologue of a novel I initially wrote for my grandchildren. Turns out, it’s more suitable for late teens and young adults than pre-teens and early teens. If you decide to let your 10 year old read this, read the chapter yourself first. Some of the descriptions are a bit graphic, I guess, although I think they’re only describing the story and are not gratuitous in my mind, certainly not like Hunger Games, or the Twilight Saga. Although the book is complete, I’m in the middle of a re-write so I hope this will motivate me to spend more time, ah, re-writing.

By way of introduction, Dragon stories continue their appeal to boys, (and girls–yes, there is some romance in this story) in spite of a seemingly saturated market. The Dragons of the Cliffs are different, special and possess some powers other dragons in other stories don’t have. I surmised that if vampires in the Twilight Saga can drink animal blood and tolerate light, my dragons have no limits. So, I hope you enjoy this first weekly installment. And, yes, it does have a Christian theme.

Dragons of the Cliffs: Anden’s Challenge

Prologue

Stygian Darkich called for the retreat when Thursagon’s sword severed his Dragon’s head. The Dragons and riders blinked from the Cliffs of Norse to the GoldenMire outside the Master’s cave, their wounded fighters and Dragonless riders two on a neck. Stygian jumped from the Dragon whose rider saved him when he fell. This was a bad loss. Seven Dragons and riders gone and he, their leader, led them to—to defeat. A gash in his left shoulder throbbed. The left arm hung at his side, immobile. No matter. Fix it later. He had to inspire them, motivate them. From the front of the group, he pulled up and flexed. “They defeated us this time, but we regroup, we train, we will prevail!” He shot his right fist into the air.

A weak cheer landed on his ears. Curses sounded from the back. A murmur rolled through the group.

“We will defeat them, I say!” Quiet. No cheer?

Then a voice from the back. “How do you know? You told us we could not lose this time.”

Anger filled his chest and rose to his face. “Silence!” He’d find out who said that. He started toward the voice when the ground moved left, then up. The ground? Quakes and rolls followed. Up—he left his feet; down—face in the dirt. A gust of wind hit him from the Dragons who hovered above him to escape the convulsing ground. The quaking stopped.

Stygian rose to his feet and opened his mouth to speak when a voice came from the mouth of Master’s cave across the piles of gold, precious stones and coins.

A stooped old man walked across the treasure and shuffled his way. “You need not, ah, chastise,” he wheezed, inhaled, “the rider who spoke those words, Stygian.” The old man inhaled, coughed, exhaled. “He, ah, voices.” Deep breath.  “The concern of us all. How will you win when you allowed victory to escape your grasp?”

Anger ignited in Stygian again and exploded out his mouth. “Leave me, old man, lest I send you to the den of Lucifer!”

“Oh, I’ve no fear of the den of Lucifer.” Breaths inhaled, wheezed, exhaled, wheezed.

Was he standing straighter?

The old man continued toward him, his gait faster.

“For you see.” A deeper tone this time, louder and stronger burst from the visitor. What was happening?

“I happen to be.”

He, he was bigger. His arms and legs—bulged with muscles. He, what was he?

“Familiar.”

The man-beast grew and the wrinkles of age left him. His face turned a reddish black and the white hair disappeared. His size—he became massive. Stygian tried to swallow and couldn’t. The monster’s head tipped back, his mouth opened, his arms came out from his sides and a deep, dark laugh echoed from his throat. The man-creature smiled, took two steps and stood in front of Stygian.

“With the den. It’s my home.”

Stygian shook, staggered and thought his heart would beat out of his chest. His master, the Wyvern of Lucifer himself, stood before him. The yellow fangs and the grin penetrated his eyes, his head, his heart. He grabbed his chest. His heart stopped? No, it was going again. A pain filled his brain like a hot poker rammed through his skull. He fell to his face on the ground prostrate. “My master. What is your bidding?” The words left his mouth involuntarily.

“You’ve disappointed me once too often, young leader.”

The ground shook, then shook again. Stygian turned his head. A colossal black Dragon emerged from the cave, twice the size of any Dragon of the GoldenMire.

“Meet BlackHeart, my new Dragon.” A laugh filled his ears. A hand with strength previously unknown to Stygian circled his neck. Pain! Snap! No feeling below his neck. With a jerk, he traveled through the air, bumped and slid under BlackHeart. The talons surrounded his head. All went black.

Posted in Christian Speculative Fiction, Writing | Leave a Comment »

The Sweet By and By

Posted by MDViews on January 4, 2015

Following is a tongue-in-cheek story of, well, you’ll see if you read it. It’s not exactly a Christian story and has in it dishonesty, theft, lying and mention of some bodily fluids. I thought it was a fun story to write, however, so I hope you get a smile.

 

The Sweet By and By

A drop of grease fell from Bill’s chin on to the paper plate. “Who’s the deceased again?”

“Who cares?” Naomi nudged him in the side. “Is there another wing in that bucket?”

He tipped the bucket and checked. “Yeah, but it’s not extra crispy.”

Her eyes perused the Fellowship Hall at Bethany Baptist Church. “See two tables over?” She gestured with her head. “They can’t be eating much. They all have gray hair and lousy teeth. Go switch buckets with them.”

“Good idea.” He grabbed their nearly empty bucket, placed the lid on it and walked over. “How’s your chicken, folks, good?”

A woman wearing three large diamond rings frowned and spoke. “It’s so greasy. I wish they served gluten-free, organic salads.”

That’s a first world problem if ever I heard of one.

“Well, here’s a bucket if anyone is interested, and hey, I’ll check about that salad, folks.” With that he put his nearly empty bucket on the table, took their mostly full bucket, walked to the kitchen, turned around and went back to his table. “Here it is. We’re back in the chicken. Extra crispy, too.”

“Have you seen the desserts?” She pointed to a man carrying a bowl of vanilla ice cream drenched in homemade hot fudge sauce.

“Ice cream? Hot fudge? We better get some before it’s gone.”

Two minutes later, they sat back at their table with ice cream and hot fudge spilling over the sides of their bowls.

He savored each bite. “Anybody ask you how you knew the deceased?”

“One woman asked.”

“What’d you tell her?”

She sniggered. “The usual. I teared up, sobbed and said I missed him so much. Then I hugged her and whispered, ‘And the sex—to die for.’ My nose ran on her shoulder. When I pulled back, I snuffled, coughed up a ball of…well, you know, and held it in my mouth while I searched for a wastebasket.”

He hooted. “You’re kidding me! Did it work?”

“Like a charm. After I spit, I said, ‘Whew! I thought I’d have to eat that one.’ The poor soul turned ashen white, put her hand to her mouth, coughed and ran to the women’s rest room.” Naomi took another bite of ice cream. “She didn’t make it though. I went in later and almost slipped on the, um, stomach contents.” She glanced at the front food table. “They just put out some cookies. Anyone ask you?”

“Just a minute.” He rose from his chair, walked to the front and came back with a plate full of cookies. “Yeah, a couple guys did.” He stuffed half a cookie in his mouth. “I told them I met him at a bowling tournament in Oklahoma City.”

“A bowling tournament?” She took a cookie from the pile and nibbled at it. “In Oklahoma City?” She smirked.

“Yeah, then I said, ‘He so loved bowling. Bowling and beer.’ I hesitated and said, ‘And meeting guys, of course, but you knew that.’ Then I pulled out my cell phone, glanced at it, said, ‘Excuse me,’ and made a hasty retreat.”

“Ha. Did you see how they reacted?”

One dropped his plate and the other’s said, “Bowling? Beer? Guys?”

She grinned and leaned in. “They’ll be thinking about that for a while.”

He looked up. Chicken, chips, cookies and brownies graced the food table. “I’d love to take that food home.”

Her eyebrows pinched together. “There’s got to be a way.”

He glanced over. “You ever tried a diversion?”

“No, but I’m game.”

“Okay, I’ll fake a fall along the tables farthest from front door. You take your—” He looked down. “Is that a purse?” A red bag as big as a small suitcase sat beside her.

“Hey, it’s a purse.”

“Anyway, you sweep the food table and stroll out the front door. Get the car and have it running by the south exit. I’ll be out a couple minutes later and we’re off.”

He stood and glanced around the Fellowship Hall. A low din of conversation sounded from the 100 or more guests. “Wish me luck.” He walked to the side of the room away from the front door. She ambled to the front table gripping her red portmanteau. They locked eyes and she nodded.

With a loud “Whoooaaaa!” he slipped, kicked a folding chair forward so it crashed against the concrete wall, spun in the air and hit the floor on his hands. He rolled and moaned with gusto, “My back! My back!” Three men dashed to his side.

“Help me, oh, ow, help me!” He heard someone call 911. He rolled back and forth and increased his moans to screams. “Help me up, please.” They lifted him and held him up.

He stood hunched over, then shook off their hands. “Let go of me. This place is dangerous. My back, oh, my back.” He hobbled toward the south exit with one hand on his back, turned and pointed his finger. “You’ll hear from my attorney about this!” He pushed open the south door, let it close and slid into the passenger’s seat. The car sped away.

The red bag sat between them filled with cookies, brownies, chips and bucket of extra-crispy. “Spectacular work. Anyone notice?”

“How could they with your screams?” She laughed, and adjusted her rear view mirror. “No one following. I’ll drop you off at your place.”

She stopped in front of a white one and one half story house and turned off the car.

She turned toward him, the warmth in her voice palpable. “I have to tell you, Bill, that’s the best first date I’ve ever had. It’s so wonderful to have a friend who shares the same love.”

He smiled and touched her hand. “I feel the same way, Naomi. Next week?”

She beamed. “Sure. I wouldn’t miss it.”

“I’ll check the obits, and we can take my car.” He leaned over and kissed her cheek. “Thanks for a wonderful evening.”

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The Blather and Claptrap of Christmas

Posted by MDViews on December 28, 2014

The checkout line at WalMart stopped. Her heels had squeezed her feet all day and now they rebelled with a constant ache. She needed a long, hot bath. The song, “White Christmas” played overhead. She mumbled, “If I hear that song one more time, I think I’ll—“

What, puke?”

She turned toward the voice behind her. A short, twenties-something guy with brown hair and glasses grinned at her.

His smile vanished with her look. “Sorry to comment.”

I didn’t know anyone heard me.” A ding came from the check-out. The light above the register blinked.

Mr. Short with Glasses stepped beside her. “So you don’t like Christmas? Or just that song?”

Both.” She moved away enough so he’d notice and stared at the register. “I’m fed up with the mandatory give-gifts-or-you’re-a-bad-person thing. At the office, I refused to join this “Secret Santa” ruse. The office girls treat me like a criminal or something.”

Yeah. I…”

I what?” She turned toward him.

Oh, I hated Christmas, too.” He looked up, his eyes focused on hers. “It seemed to me the corporations promoted the manger claptrap and blather to enrich themselves. Let’s see, God gave us Jesus, so let’s all spend money.”

She chuckled. “About right.” She turned again to the checkout. The manager spoke on a two-way radio to someone in toys for a price check.

I guess I like it now though. About six months ago, a friend introduced me to Christ and—“

Now they’re doing a price check in toys. Just our luck.” She interrupted him on purpose.

Hey, have you ever seen the movie, ‘White Christmas’? I just love it, especially the last scene with the snow and Bing Crosby and the song.”

The manager shifted from one foot to the other. No response from Toys. This Christmas-loving pest had her trapped.

What’s your favorite Christmas movie?” She frowned. The line seemed to harden like concrete. Her anger sparked to life—the line, this guy, Christmas, the stupid song.

Finally, the line moved.

He reached into his pocket. “Listen, let me give you my card. I’m a computer guy—you know, web design, computer repair, all that. I’m independent, so if you ever need anything computer, give me a call.”

He handed his card to her. “Jeff.”

She said nothing.

He pointed to his name on the card. “That’s my name.” His face turned crimson red.

Thanks, Jeff. I’m Julie.” She stuck his card in her jean pocket to dump in the trash later, swiped her credit card for the gift wrap, scissors and tape and grabbed her bag.

Bye, Julie.” She heard his words as she walked away, but kept her pace.

As she approached the door, she heard her name.

Julie!” Jeff ran up. “You forgot your tape.” He dropped it in her bag and smiled. She felt her face heat up. Is this guy human super glue? “Uh, thanks, Jeff. Appreciate it.”

In the crosswalk, she scanned for her car when tires squealed to her left. Her head jerked around. A red car moving fast was only yards from her! Something hit her from behind—hard. She went flying and landed on her side, skidded, rolled to a stop and blinked her eyes open. The red car went speeding through the crosswalk of the other entrance. Bodies flew. The car reached the street and disappeared.

She struggled to her feet. Something ran down the left side of her face. She wiped at it. Blood. Screams, moans and sobs came from everywhere. She took a step and found her knees weak but they held her up.

The biggest crowd stood only fifteen feet from her. She walked closer. It was Jeff. Two people were doing CPR. A stream of red ran from his head across the back and yellow surface.

You’re the one.” She turned to the man who spoke. “You’re the one he saved.”

What? What do you mean?”

That guy there on the ground. When he saw the car coming for you, he sprinted and pushed you so hard, you flew in the air.” He shook his head. “He didn’t hesitate even a second. The car just missed you, but that guy took if full force.”

In the emergency room, a medical student cleaned her scrapes and placed two stitches in the cut in her scalp. She walked out, her feet more steady. A voice from a large room floated into the hallway. “Let’s call it. He’s gone.” A curtain pulled back and exposed Jeff’s body on a gurney, naked from the waist up, wires, IV’s and blood everywhere. Then she realized she had stopped walking. She’d never seen a dead body before, especially one who moments before placed the tape she left at the register in her bag. There he was. Lifeless. Unmoving. Dead. She turned and ran to the rest room as nausea overcame her.

She flipped on the TV when she arrived at her apartment. Nine people died and twenty-five were injured, some in critical condition. The police captured the perp in a high speed chase. The video showed him yell into the camera. “I hate WalMart, and Christmas and all you Christian hypocrites! You’re all evil and should die!”

A reporter interviewed a psychologist who said he was a troubled young man.

What? A troubled young man? “He’s a monster, a murderer!” She realized she yelled at the TV screen.

Sleep wouldn’t come. The sounds and sights kept rolling through her mind like a video loop—Jeff’s face, the squealing tires, the car bearing down on her, the slam that sent her flying, the people running, screaming and sobbing, the blood on the ground, then Jeff’s body on that gurney. She called in sick to work.

She went to Jeff’s funeral but didn’t know why. After the pastor spoke, he asked if anyone who knew Jeff would like to say a few words. Without a thought, she rose and walked to the podium.

My name is Julie and none of you know me. I only knew Jeff for about twenty minutes before he died. I’m the one he pushed out of the way of the, the car.” Her voice tightened and she lowered her eyes. “He, he saved my life, but gave up his own.”

A gasp left the large crowd. People sobbed openly.

She wiped tears from her own cheeks. “We stood in line together and he tried to explain Christmas to me. I’m still not sure I understand it, but I’m going to try.” She inhaled and looked up into the eyes of Jeff’s family and friends. “And, I now have a new favorite song. It’s “White Christmas.” She looked heavenward. “Jeff, I know you’ll understand.”

©Matt Anderson, 2014

Posted in Writing | 2 Comments »

Story Time

Posted by MDViews on December 28, 2014

When I was in grade school, our newspaper published a story one chapter a day for about three weeks. I guess it would be called a novella these days. Our teacher would read it to the class every day before lunch. We’d all be on the edge of our seats waiting to hear what came next.

I do some fiction writing. I’ve had a flash fiction piece published and actually made money on it. It’s my only published fiction. But learning the craft of fiction writing is not an easy task. It takes thought, work, planning and a grasp of prose and the human condition. You know you’ve written good fiction when the reader is so engrossed in the story that he or she doesn’t even think of the writing. In other words, the story takes over. No typos, poorly constructed or confusing sentences, no confusion about the point of view, no grammar errors like moving from past tense to present tense for no good reason and no boring, over-bearing descriptions of details not crucial to the story. Every word counts.

I’m not that good, but, I’m close, I think.

So, I think I’ll post some stories for you to read. Some are Christian. Some are stories with Christian themes, but not overtly evangelical or gospel oriented. Themes like redemption, forgiveness, mercy, hope, courage, perseverance and love.

I hope to post something weekly. If I post a novel, it will be one chapter a week.

I’m going to start with a flash fiction piece called, “The Blather and Claptrap of Christmas.” Flash fiction is a short, short story, usually 1,000 words or less. This one is a little over that. Hope you enjoy it.

Matt Anderson

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