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If you haven’t yet, you can read Davu and the Fallen Star | Part One by clicking here.


Part Two
by BJL

The language of the ancient Africans would perhaps be little more than grunts and gestures to the dark elves of Kervossa. But joy, anger, and, in the case of Elder Adaeh, fear were all easily perceived.

Adaeh ran across the desert floor, lifting her slender legs with the speed of a young hunter, which she was not, and calling out in her language to alert the tribal scouts to her position. She jumped, slipped, and slid down the sand dunes, icy-white in the moonlight, and followed in Davu’s footsteps through the jagged, thinly-carved canyon. Her bare feet splashed in the puddles of a recent rainfall, the sounds echoing off the rock walls like drums. Adaeh could smell it still, the scent of the fallen star, the goddess, crashing to the earth, and when at last she reached the place where Davu and the goddess had vanished from this world, she found the object of her gravest nightmares. Bending down, lopsided and crotchety in her old age, she found the glimmering blue stone that she’d seen Davu hold moments before he’d turned to dust. She fell to her knees, for she knew this stone. She’d seen it a dozen times in the dark of sleep.

Another scout came up behind her then, kneeling down and placing a large but gentle hand on her shoulder. “What is it, Elder?” he asked, in his way, as the shimmering stone reflected in his eyes.

“Davu has gone, Bakuba,” said Adaeh. “Davu has gone to bring the creatures of light, to start The War.”

~

“They’re coming,” said Keruvu. “Daravara spotted a horde of them at the Gates of Alva.” Keruvu, speckled dark elf and one of King Gudrun’s guards, kneeled at her king’s feet and spoke with the ease of  a warrior. But like all the dark elves left alive in King Gudrun’s domain, few as they were, she was afraid.

King Gudrun looked over Keruvu’s head, gazing wearily at the doors that held the night and darkness at bay, protected by an ancient enchantment that seemed now to be so fragile. “Do you believe in fate, Keruvu?” asked the king.

Fate? We are the craftsman of our own victories and demise, my king. Even in this–if you’ll forgive me for saying it.”

“There’s nothing to forgive. Four hundred years have our people thrived and reigned over all of Kervossa. Four hundred fruitful years have the dark elves commanded every shrub in in the dirt and wind in the air, since first Her Majesty Alva walked these lands. And here my greed has brought us, to the edge of this cliff over which I fall, taking with me every last defender of our people, our culture, our memory… But, Keruvu, it is in this same faithless, rotten hour that the last prophecy ever told by our elders comes to pass. The tale of our salvation coming to pass with the long-told prophecy of our destruction.”

Keruvu said nothing.

“How is Hilde?” asked the king.

“Recovering quickly.”

“Can she fight?”

“My king, only she could say,” said Keruvu.

“Then find Ranveig and have him wake the human scout. The end of all things has come, yes, but with it, the beginning of something far greater.”

There was no light in the room where Davu slept. And Davu did not sleep. He lie awake, his thoughts steeped in unrealized imaginations, a realm of the mind yet to be discovered by the humans of ancient Africa. The darkness gave him a canvas to paint the sands of home with only thought, but it robbed him of the knowledge that Ranveig, son of King Gudrun, stood beside his bed.

In the darkness, Ranveig crumbled a small red stone in his fingers and sprinkled the resulting dust over a torch mounted to the wall, and the wick burst into hot flames. Davu reached for his blade, prepared to cut down his attacker, but he stopped short when he saw Ranveig’s solemn face. “The healers have my sister on her feet again,” he said, still rubbing the red dust between his fingers. “She’d like to thank you.” He turned then, without another word, and opened the door to the small sleeping chamber, revealing Hilde standing under the doorway, her silver hair braided like a whip down her back. Ranveig bowed and left silently.

“They tell me your name is Davu,” said Hilde with a warm, if not pained, smile. She sat on the bedside.

“Yes,” answered Davu. “But, I’m not used to saying it this way… Your language, these words, feel unnatural on my tongue, and in my head.” He leaned in, inspecting her torso where she’d been bleeding. “You are healed?”

“Mostly.” Hilde placed her hand on her stomach and closed her eyes, reliving the gruesome scene. “I was stabbed through by my enemy. But he took only his blade, not my life. He left me to die slowly, alone in the forest. I’d taken a stone sacred to our people, a stone that our elders used say was a vessel holding all of the universe within, and I was going to use it against our enemy. To send them far away from this place, as our goddesses Euthalia and Anahita would want me to do — to save the land. But I failed. Instead, I harnessed the stone’s power to take me somewhere safe, and it took me to you.”

“If I can ask,” said Davu sheepishly, “who are your enemies?”

Hilde’s face drew low, her cheeks darkening and eyes glazing with tears. “They are called the Adze,” she answered. “They’re disease-bearing bloodsuckers. They can look as a tiny speck of light, like a bug on a tree, or they may appear as any one of our own…”

“What do you mean?” asked Davu, goosebumps tickling his skin.

“I mean that anybody in this temple could be an Adze, right now, and we wouldn’t know it, Davu.”

Just then, even as the words were leaving Hilde’s lips, Keruvu arrived in the doorway. “King Gudrun requests that both you join him for a meal,” said Keruvu, and then she paused for a long moment. “He wishes to see how you’re doing, as well, my princess.” She took a shaky breath and then departed as quickly as she’d come.

Hilde stood and held a hand out to Davu. “Come,” she said, “I’ll show you the way.”

Davu rose and followed the princess, heir to her father’s throne, from the sleeping chamber and down a hallway that was crowned with jewels and gold lace. But Davu didn’t want to go, because now every face he saw was a potential enemy—even Hilde herself. These were no longer gods and bearers of magic and unforetold power, these were Davu’s tribal elder’s greatest fears manifested. Davu realized that he was bringing forth his tribe’s earliest prophecy. He was the bearer of the disease. He was the harborer of ruin. He was the bringer of The War. And he swallowed hard as he entered the ornate dining hall where King Gudrun sat at a long silver and gold table, awaiting dinner guests.

“Sit, please,” said King Goodrun, smiling as best he could and holding his hands out towards the decorative chairs surrounding the tables. “A meal is the least I can offer for your efforts in saving my daughter.”

While dinner was had at King Gudrun’s table, Keruvu was opening the temple doors for the return of the only other remaining guard of the Kervossa throne, Daravara, who had been scouting out the approach of the Adze. With Daravara there came no seen threat, but as the doors shut behind him and he opened his mouth to share his findings at the Gates of Alva, he instead dove for Keruvu and dug his teeth into her shoulder. She toppled to the ground, struggling for her sword and sliding it through the torso of her closest friend, but it was too late. Keruvu died and an Adze that looked identical to her took her place, an Adze which had traveled in as a bug on the back of Daravara’s imposter. And with the fall of Keruvu and Daravara, there were now three Adze inside the temple.

~

Bakuba moved across the sands with a band of scouts and hunter-gatherers at his back, each holding the shoulder of another, and the glowing blue stone was in his fist. Elder Adaeh kneeled outside her hut and stared at the stars. “Find him, Bakuba,” she said, in grunts and unformed words. “Save him.” Bakuba nodded his head once and squeezed the stone, and before the elder’s eyes the small army vanished into thin air.

The End of Part Two

Part Three, the conclusion, will be posted in two weeks. Stay tuned!

Did you enjoy Part Two? If you want more reading now, head over to the Quick Reads page and find something to enjoy! You can also take a look at the books I’ve published on my Books page. And speaking of which, if you’re from the Pacific Northwest, my books are officially on the shelves of Another Read Through bookstore in Portland, Oregon! So if you’re close, you should stop by and check them out, too.

Have a great week!

Weekly Writing Prompt:

The desert is a dark, cold place at night. What’s lurking beneath those dunes?

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Part One
by BJL

Like a living, waking beast, the sands rose and stirred. The huts that dotted the landscape trembled in the cold. And the wind, the devilish wind, it wailed and lashed out at the torches that lit the walking paths and gave sight to the scouts. A scout called Davu by his people stood lonesome at the village entrance, wearing no more than the skin of a gazelle like a cape on his shoulders and a horned hood upon his head, a loincloth over his genitals, and a spear sharp enough to pierce the darkness on his back. His skin was brown and strong like dark wood. His eyes were emeralds in the night. But strong and brave as Davu was, he felt his hands quivering when first he saw the beam of golden light descending from the heavens, like a star come to plant its children in the earth. The wind blew across Davu’s skin, raising his pores into bumps. He took the spear from his back. The gods were coming to stand among men, but only Davu saw their approach.

Behind Davu, at the entrance to the valley where his people slept for the night, was a narrow canyon. It was dark, too dark to see the steps one would take to pass through it, and from it there blew a wintry wind that chilled Davu’s bones. But even as he watched the light from above, the star come from the land of the gods, it landed just beyond the canyon. Davu looked over his shoulder, seeing the scattered huts standing still in the night, and trusted that the other scouts would be due protection as he ventured into the canyon. The Davu that the people of his traveling village knew would not return.

A solemn, slow step at a time, Davu moved through the canyon. His spear was held at the ready, pointed ahead of him so that any oncoming threat would meet first death and then Davu. Water poured gently from the canyon walls, seeping from some nearby lake, and trickled into the mud beneath Davu’s bare feet. His toes gripped the ground, digging into the earth with the force of a man scared. His knuckles paled against the spear as his fingers wrapped tighter around it. Despite the cold, sweat dewed Davu’s forehead and chest, and the sweat glimmered gently in the light sprinkling through the far end of the canyon. A light so white, so beautiful, that Davu knew at once it was truly gods walking the sands of his world. He pulled his hood back to bask in the light.

But Davu was only just lowering his spear, for fear of offending the gods, when the light died. Left in its place, silhouetted by the pale light of the moon and the outline of the canyon, was a being like Davu had never seen nor imagined. It stood tall and slender, with wings lied down its back and feathers sprouting from its head. Davu kept his spear halfway up then, and he felt his throat tighten. His emerald eyes weren’t shining with resilience, but with horror. The winged creature come from the light turned about, gazing across the land, its back turned to Davu until at last the scout breached the exit of the canyon and stood behind the being. But without so much as a wavering step for pretense, the creature collapsed.

Davu swiftly returned his spear to its place on his back and kneeled beside the creature. But it was no wild bird man, nor a creature of dread. The feathers upon its head was a crown, and the wings upon its back was a cloak. This being come from the sky had a narrow face and skin as firm and brown as the barren cliffs of the desert, and its eyes were like that of a man’s and its ears like that of a hairless fox. Davu saw that this being’s form was that of a woman’s, her hair long and shining silver. And Davu let her head rest on his massive forearm, pulling her close though he knew nothing of her, and she looked up at him with the same awe with which he looked down at her.

Blood trickled down her face and seeped from her torso, turing her golden cloak crimson. She was near death, but even so, she wearily raised her hand to show Davu that which she held, a shining blue stone carved with a foreign symbol. He did not speak, because he knew she would not understand, but he took the stone from her hand as she wanted him to. It was nearly weightless in his palm, though he couldn’t clasp his fingers all the way around it, and it illuminated his face with the light of a sunny river. The woman who was dying in his arms, the woman he thought to be a god even still, reached up and closed his hand around the blue gem. But all of Davu’s delight withered with the stone, turning to dust in his grip. In the same moment, to his horror, the world of his people and the valley of his tribe disintegrated into nothingness all around him, falling away like a decayed flower. Then it was gone. But should anyone have seen, it would have been Davu who had truly vanished, and the goddess with him.

~

Only moments after Davu and the goddess who lie in his lap had departed from the ancient desert plains of Africa they were in a moss-coated jungle. Birds with wings like canopies flew overhead, and the trees were as broad and tall as Davu had once imagined the gods themselves to be. Above them, amongst the trees, the sky was grey and out of reach, engulfing the treetops before their peaks could be seen, and no great stars glinted in the cosmos above. Davu knew then, seeing no glimmering eyes in the atmosphere, that he was truly in the land of the gods.

The goddess whom he held pointed ahead, grunting in agony, and Davu followed the direction of her slender finger with his eyes, where he saw an obelisk of stone hidden behind the trees. She seemed to be talking, and though Davu could not understand her words, he deciphered her meaning. He lifted her from the ground, draped over his arms, and began trekking toward the obelisk.

Those great birds in the trees and the scaly critters of the ground hid and watched as if in awe at the coming of this man who was unlike any creature they’d seen. The mist in the air gathered upon his bronzed skin and on the porcelain face of the goddess, whose hair was so long that it dragged through the grass and mud below Davu’s feet. Her eyes fought to stay open and fresh blood still soaked through her tunic from whatever injury in her torso had jilted her lifeforce. When finally they came upon the obelisk, it was no pillar in the jungle, but a temple suited for the gods. From the corner where Davu stood, the temple stretched farther than his trained eyes could see in two directions and into the sky as high as any tree. Paths followed the temple walls, occasionally curving away and into the jungle, but always returning back to the temple. But while at first he was taken back by the structure’s magnificence, he was soon in a panic for direction from the dying woman in his arms. She mumbled and tried to point, but her hand barely raised. Davu had to make a choice, and so he did, taking the path that seemed more traveled, beaten down by feet and years.

Darkness began to collect in the air. Somewhere beyond the fog and jungle a sun was blazing behind a mountain range and readying to vanish for the night. Davu’s visibility lowered and seldom drops of rain found their way through the branches protecting the jungle floor, but he pressed on. His path veered from the temple, leading him into the thick of the overgrowth. And ahead of Davu, in the dark places, now darker by night, there lurked someone in hiding, a slithering dagger in hand. Davu came upon the hidden killer, but as the dagger rose and Davu realized the fate that he’d stumbled on, the killer froze. He was as dark and porcelain as the goddess that Davu held, with pointed ears and black hair cut off jaggedly at his shoulders. A cloak flowed out behind him when he’d lunged at his prey, but it had slapped against his back when his blade stopped just short of Davu’s eye. Holding the dagger steady, this nightcrawler scanned the goddess and her injuries. The goddess’ chest moved up and down ever so slightly, showing this attacker that life was still in her somehow. Then he turned his silvery-grey eyes on Davu’s face and tried to speak. Davu couldn’t understand, but he shrugged and gently lifted the woman in the direction he had been taking her. His attacker lowered the dagger then and waved for Davu to follow him.

Davu released the breath he’d been holding for nearly a minute, letting his heart slow, and followed this man who resembled the goddess. Through the jungle Davu was led to the temple gates, steely and looming in the night. His guide held up a hand, telling Davu to stand back, and then the robed god kneeled before the gates and spoke in hushed breaths. To Davu’s awe, a design like a fiery leaf illuminated upon the gates, shining brightly across the jungle and casting their shadows against the trees. The gates opened as the light died, and two more slender, sharp-eared beings stood beyond it, guarding the entrance. Their skin was jet-black and speckled, and bronze armor covered their bodies, with leafy wooden belts holding their swords and spears at their waists and on their backs. They looked upon Davu with quizzical eyes as he passed, but upon the goddess with only concern, dread.

Torches of golden light lit the temple walls, glinting off of regal portraits of gods and goddesses and casting light on the artifacts from their history, displayed with little grandeur. Davu had grown all too distracted before he turned his eyes ahead to find a gray-bearded god, tall and as beautiful as any star, dressed in flowing robes and wearing a crown of wood and silver. Davu’s guide kneeled before this being of greatness, who sat upon a massive throne surrounded by an arbor of tree branches and grass. The two conversed, though Davu knew nothing of what they said, and then the god who sat upon the throne stood, bringing with him a staff with a radiant orb upon it. He snapped his fingers, calling one of the guards over, and she took the goddess from Davu’s arms and carried her with ease through an archway beside the throne. Then the god stepped down from his pedestal and held his staff out, softly pressing the glowing orb against Davu’s forehead. “Speak,” said the god, with a smile, “and your words will be understood.”

“What have you done?” Davu asked.

“I’ve opened your ears to our language and placed it upon your tongue. I am King Gudrun; this is Ranveig.” The king motioned toward Davu’s attacker and guide. “And what do they call you?”

“I am Davu. But, my king, king of the gods, but who am I to speak the language of the heavens?”

King Gudrun only laughed and sat back in his throne. “We are not gods, Davu; we are elves, dark elves some might say. And you have as much right to our language as anyone should who would carry my daughter, Ranveig’s sister, to safety.”

“She is your daughter?” Davu asked, placing his hand on his chest to feel that his heart still beat.

“She is. Hilde Gudrun, heir to the throne of Kervossa. But I do wonder how you’ve come when all of the land is at war, ravaged by disease, decaying into ash.”

“I could not know,” answered Davu. “The goddess came to me traveling on the light of a star. And when I found her she placed a blue gem in my palm. When it turned to dust, I was here.”

“The stone,” said Ranveig. “She took it from the tomb.”

“Quiet, child,” said King Gudrun, holding a hand up to Ranveig. “The stone your sister gave unto Davu helped to saved her life. You’re of Earth, yes? You’re human?”

Davu looked to Ranveig, hoping to find some hint as to the king’s meaning, but Ranveig was staring at the ground, his eyes closed as if in shame. “I do not know,” Davu answered at last, though every word he spoke felt foreign in mouth.

“You are a Child of Earth,” said the king, nodding. “I foresaw a fate such as this long ago… I must ask, did anyone see you leave with Hilde and the stone, Davu?”

“No. The night was cold and my tribe was sleeping. I was far from the others in the valley.” Davu nodded assuredly, though he was incorrect. For someone had seen him disintegrate into the desert winds. Someone had seen, indeed.

~

In the deserts of ancient Africa, where life was still budding and culture was young, Adaeh watched from a sharp cliff, studying the shifting sands below. The wrinkles in her skin were deep chasms, and her eyes were blossoming moons. Her tunic and cloak were woven of the finest hide, and the petrified pendant about her neck shined in the light of the stars above. The winds had awakened her and called her to the cliff top, and there she looked for what the winds had intended her to see. She did not look long before the beam of a shining star appeared in the sky so that she had to turn from the light. When at last she looked again, there lie a creature of beauty in the sand, and Davu the scout was holding her in his arms. Adaeh held her pendant tightly in her fist, fear locking up her frail limbs, and she gripped so tightly that the jagged edges of the tooth pendant drew blood from her palm. In a glow blue and fluorescent, Davu and the goddess vanished like dust on the wind, and Adaeh closed her eyes. A tear dripped down her cheek, soaking into her wrinkled, brown skin.

The end of all things had come.

The End of Part One

Part Two will hit the blog in two weeks, so stay tuned! If you want something to read now and you’re into books, Mordecai Episode One: Bloodthirsty and my other novels can be found on my Books Page. They’re all available in both paperback and eBook on Amazon.com.

Did you enjoy the first part of Davu and the Fallen Star? Then follow and check back to read Part Two when it drops in two weeks! Don’t forget to like and share this post, too, and spread the reading around.

If you want to read more now, I post poems, stories, and thought pieces bi-weekly. I’ve just added a Quick Reads page with links to all of the short stories and poems I’ve posted, or you can scroll through my Blog Page to find something that interests you, OR check out the suggestions below.

Happy Independence Day! And have a great week.

Weekly Writing Prompt:

You’ve just woken up on an alien spaceship. Tell us about what you see.

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This Being in the Clouds by BJL

There stands someone, somewhere
in the great mass of clouds up there,
who watches in awe of our human lives,
wanting to fall and join, but unable to dive.

This being of that watery cloud stuff,
of white, black, pink, and gold fluff,
has seen every triumph and downfall
since first in the sky a cloud did crawl.

Oh what we might think if we only knew
what this cloud being has seen us through,
from the birth of the earliest human life
through every war and act of love and strife.

How would mankind change if we saw
as the being in clouds saw: every last flaw,
every good fruit and loving song of grace,
or every time we killed or judged in its place.

This being in the clouds, silent, praying, and watchful,
has seen us walk barefoot across grass and gravel
to find new lands and discover brand new ways to live,
to sail new seas, to find new stars and gods to believe.

This great being covers our baking sky, casting us shade,
wherein we build each other up or choose to degrade,
wherein we wage war on our own or love without condition,
wherein we fight for our kind or turn with blind dismission.

And every storm and every drop of rain is this cloud being
crying out against our divided and dividing voices screaming
or weeping for joy as we overcome this deadly nature
and triumph over what great evil moves in us like a creature.

And as this being in the clouds was there at our very birth,
this cloud being will be there when we return to the dust of the earth.
And as this being knew our every breath and every song,
this being with know our every death and welcome us where we belong.

Hello, dear readers! If you enjoyed this poem, then I encourage you to read some of my others. Most recently I’ve posted A Different Man and A Man Made of Stone, which hold no correlation with each other despite their similar names! Some of my other favorites are There’s A Woman and Eternal. If you’re interested in literature of all kinds, you can check out my Books and pick up a copy of Mordecai Episode One: Bloodthirsty, which came out last September.

Have a great week!

Weekly Writing Prompt:

What would you see if you looked down on your town from the clouds?

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I’ve had a crazy few weeks!

Victoria and I are really ramping things up with our wedding planning. There’s just a short five months left before our wedding, and time is moving faster than I knew it could! We’re getting our engagement photos done this weekend (almost a year after we got engaged, because that’s how we roll), and I’ll definitely share some of those shots with you as soon as I can!

Because of my time getting restrained a little bit, I’m also going to officially transition into being a biweekly blog for the remainder of 2018. With my time being so divided between so many different avenues, I want to give myself two weeks for each post to make sure that this blog remains about quality and not quantity. On that note, I’ll be running some polls as to what you all want to see more of from the blog on my Twitter account, @BJLBooks.

Now for the upcoming Summer Giveaway!

The giveaway will start next month (July 2018) and will be for a copy of Mordecai Episode One: Bloodthirsty and a poster of some artwork done by the amazing Matthew Myslinski. I’ll announce the fine details of the giveaway, as far as how to enter, in my first post of July, so be sure to follow the blog and stay one step ahead! (However, I will clarify that this particular giveaway will be for the United States only, unlike my last one that was worldwide.) As I promised last time I talked about this giveaway, and here’s a look at Myslinski’s amazing artwork!

Synopsis for Mordecai Episode One: Bloodthirsty Prowlers: bounty hunters, treasure hunters, or simple thrill seekers capable of traversing the multiverse. The Multiverse: the endless collection of worlds connected by threads of space and inhabited by every kind of being, from elves to the peaceful blood-worshipers of Polihaima. Mordecai Arda: a Catholic half-elf living in Portland, Oregon, who’s considering retiring from Prowling forever. His father has been missing for twenty-seven years with no indication of return, and naturally, Mordecai’s hopes are beginning to waver. But when someone from Mordecai’s past returns looking to him as a savior, he’s forced to reconsider his retirement. Like his father before him, the multiverse will always drag Mordecai back in.

To find out more about Mordecai, the African American half-elf with a coffee addiction, check out my Books page, and if you just can’t wait to read Episode One: Bloodthirsty and want to buy it now (or already have it), you can still enter the giveaway for a chance to win the artwork. Oh, and more news on Mordecai Episode Two is coming soon!

If you want to check out more of Matthew Myslinski’s work, take a look at his Driftwood Archives.

Here’s to a great summer!

If you want to read some more of my work now, you can read the poem I posted last time, A Different Man, or read my think piece from a couple weeks back, Friendship, Love…and Destiny?

Weekly Writing Prompt:

Write a poem of your own! If you’d like you can send it to me at benjaminlawbooks@gmail.com, and I might share it on the blog for all my readers to see.

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A Different Man by BJL

That day I woke up at 3pm,

shuffled into the bathroom

and looked myself in the mirror.

I was still tired, depressed, a mess.

“Do I know him?” I thought.

I hadn’t seen my father in weeks.

I hadn’t seen my dad in years.

But I saw my mother every day, in tears.

I saw myself only sometimes–

when I had the courage to look.

I was failing school, and had been,

because I simply didn’t care to try.

I was up late, surrounded by screens,

every single night. The red glow of

Netflix was my special nightlight.

It was this day, I think, that I–

driven by my own stubbornness–

decided to walk a different line.

I was a blind boy led by blind men.

I was seventeen and unseen.

I want to be a different man.

I want to be better than them.

I was poured in their mold,

but I will reshape their design.

I will break free from their kind.

I want to be a different man–

not for myself, and not in spite,

but for the woman I love,

for the children yet to come, who

will be able to lean on me, and not fall.

I want to be a different man,

who feeds and loves the flower

in his garden. I want to protect

her from all weather and harm

and do all I can to support her.

I want to be a different man,

so on the day when my children

are grown and look into

the mirror, they see only love,

and not the blinded image I was given.

Where they left, I will stay.

Where they sat, I will stand.

Where they yelled, I will whisper.

And when it gets hard,

I will try harder.

Thanks for giving A Different Man a read. It’s based off of things that really happened in my life–the things that are either the hardest or the easiest things to write about. This was a hard one for me. It’s never an easy thing to reopen old wounds and pull something out of them that might, somehow, help someone else find a peace with their own history. If you’d like to share what it means to you, or if you have any thoughts about the poem, feel free to share them in the comments below.

If you enjoyed the poem and want more content, you can follow my blog to stay updated on all things BJL and stay notified of my weekly posts. I’m also on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook; you can find that info and more on my Contact page. If you want to read more now, check out last week’s post to read my short story, The Ultimate Measure, or scan through my library of books, all of which are available in paperback and eBook on Amazon.

Weekly Writing Prompt: Write about something from your past, or someone/something important to you. Writing can be very therapeutic, so give it a shot!

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As those of you who follow me may know, I submitted a short story into the Nota Bene writing competition–a literary anthology that the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society puts together every year. I was one of the lucky few who won a spot in the collection! The story that I entered was called The Ultimate Measure, and before it was included in Nota Bene 2017, it was available in my own collection, We Are Humans. In honor of Nota Bene 2017 getting published this month, I’ll share the story here as well as a link to the digital copy of the anthology collection so you can check out everyone who entered. Also! After the story, check out a special announcement.

Nota Bene 2017

The Ultimate Measure

by BJL

Danny’s finger traces the page, outlining every word. He blinks away the sleep in his eyes and bites his lip to dull the quivers, the dim bedside light glinting off his glasses. “I have a dream…” he whispers, slowly turning the page. Pursing his lips and pulling his blanket tighter, he leans into the book to peer at the illustration of Martin Luther King, Jr. “Memphis, Tennessee. April 4th, 1968.” Two of Danny’s fingers brush over the photo and slowly move down to a quote beneath. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

“Boy, what you doin up at this hour?” Danny’s mom surprises him from his doorway. He leaps at her voice, accidentally slamming the book closed in the process. “Hush now!” She whispers. “Baby girl’s finally sleepin’.”

“Sorry, mom, I – I…was just doing some homework.”

“Yeah? And what were we studying?” She asks skeptically and glides to Danny’s bedside. He holds up the cover of his textbook – The African American’s United States History.

“It’s for Black History Month. Mr. Humphreys is making everyone read through the chapters about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. They were both assassinated…”

“Mhm, I know it,” his mom answers somberly, sitting on the edge of his bed. “Are you enjoying the read?”

“I guess,” Danny shrugs. “I don’t get why somebody could be so…angry.”

“You mean Malcolm X?”

“No, no, the people who killed them. What could drive someone to do that? I see things at school that make me stop and wonder — like that Carter kid always getting to share his essays first in Mrs. Allen’s class, or even Mr. Humphreys letting the other black kids talk a little more trash than..well, than Carter.”

“I haven’t heard you mention any of this before?” His mom sits up a little straighter, concern washing over her eyes.

“Well… I mean, I never thought anything of it until now. I knew it was wrong, I guess, but not worth taking up arms over. And definitely not worth killing for.” He taps the book with his knuckles. “It’s gotten worse this month, too, and Mr. Humphreys said the other day that he wouldn’t even teach on Black History Month if the school didn’t require it. He says it only causes discord, forces people to look at their differences instead of acknowledge that we’re all just human beings.”

“A lot of people feel that way, boy. I happen to think acknowledging we’re all the same at heart is as important as acknowledging that African Americans have a powerful and important history. Has anything happened to you that you haven’t told me ‘bout?”

“No, not to me… Darrius got called the N-word one time by the Hernandez twins. And Chanelle had something duct taped to her windshield after school a month or so ago.”

“This all happened at school? And I didn’t hear about it?”

“Chanelle reported it and the school handled it pretty quietly, and the Hernandez twins were reprimanded and put in detention for a week. It’s not a big deal-”

“It is, too,” Danny’s mom speaks over him. “Those things shouldn’t happen! Sometimes folks of other colors–”

Mom,” Danny reclaims the conversation, putting his hand on her shoulder. “Mr. Humphreys says that people who make ‘blanket statements’ about other races are just as guilty.” His mom stops and stares at him with a frustrated expression.

“Well…” She breathes. “I just wish that things were different, baby boy. I wish that high school wasn’t harsher on certain peoples that it is on others.”

“Carter gets just as much crap as the rest of us, mom… Before dad — I mean — before he died he always told me that no matter what happened to me that I was to stand up for others who had it worse, to be the bandage for another even when I was being cut.”

“A military man would tell you that…”

“I think…I think that if we really want change it’s going to take effort from both sides. Maybe there will always be those people that act out against us and us against them, but if we put in the effort and meet those that stand up for us halfway we can really make a difference, like Martin Luther King, Jr. did.”

“It’ll take time and work,” his mom says quietly.

“All great things do,” Danny responds with a smile before reopening his book and pouring himself into it again.

Some Mordecai and other book news:

An artist friend of mine named Matthew Myslinski created a beautiful image of Mordecai, the African American half-elf and titular character of Mordecai | Epiosde One: Bloodthirsy. This summer I will be running another giveaway for Mordecai EI as I ramp up to release the second installment of the series — and as part of the giveaway I’ll be including a poster rendering of Myslinski’s incredible artwork! More details about the giveaway and a sneak peak at the artwork will be coming soon. To check out Matthew Myslinski’s current body of work, take a look at his Driftwood Archives.

Additionally, I’ve mentioned that I’m working on a short story collection! The working title is Life’s Too Short. That could change, but either way, the collection will contain stories from three different realms of thought: faith, love, and humanity.

Follow this blog (and follow me on all my social media pages) to stay tuned for more info on Mordecai and on my other works-in-progress. And I’ll see you next week (or rather, later this week, since this post got delayed until Sunday)!

Also, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Tell your mom you love her today–or your dad, or someone important to you. Just spread the love!

What did you think The Ultimate Measure? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and follow for more content!

Weekly Writing Prompt:

It’s Mother’s Day! Write a card.

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In 193 days—almost to the hour of me writing this—I will be standing with some of my closest friends and family as the woman I love, dressed in a white gown, walks down the aisle towards me. Will I ever fully process that this is happening, or even be prepared for it? To be determined. But it is happening, and I’ve never been happier!

Marriage is the kind of event that makes you look back and evaluate where you’ve come from: the paths you’ve walked, choices you’ve made, and the relationships that have built you. This year has been a time of reflection for me as the anticipation builds toward mine and Victoria’s wedding this November, and I’ve been more sentimental than I usually am (*cough I’m usually very sentimental *cough*). When I was a kid, my wedding day was something that I dreamed about, which is, according to naysayers, a bit unusual for boys. But oh well, if I’ve learned anything from Taylor Swift, it’s that haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.

I was born in Colorado, in 1996, and grew up in a mostly nurturing environment where most people were considerate and loving, but where others were less forthcoming or even incapable of lying themselves down for the quiet child I was, who didn’t complain or voice his grievances very much, if at all. I call the first nine years of my life my “drunk years” because I don’t remember very much about them, at least not as much as most people seem to. When I was nine, however, my family picked up and moved to Arizona (which I think I’ve talked about a couple times on this blog before), and that’s when my memory really kicks into gear, because I turned ten the year after we got there.

One of my brothers had struggled with addiction, and everyone had rallied around him to help, uplifting him to pave his way to recovery. That included moving somewhere closer to a facility that promised him help. Arizona scared my little ten-year-old self, mainly because it wasn’t Colorado, or anything like it. I was shy and bad at making friends, so my tenth birthday party, a pool party in February (a bad idea even in Arizona) consisted of some neighborhood kids I barely knew at the time: a 12-year-old boy named Angel, two brothers from down the street named Darius and Demitri who came even after their mom said they couldn’t, and some twins that were four years younger than me named Hunter and PJ. (That actually sounds like a good cast for a CW television series.) This is the earliest good memory I have: bringing people together and letting them have a good time and eat the last piece of pizza even though I wanted it and it was my birthday and I wanted the last piece.

But I digress.

That birthday party, looking back, came to define who I was for the next ten years of my life: somebody who kept their mouth shut and always put others first (even with the last slice of pizza at stake). This isn’t at all me bragging or claiming that I was a selfless giver, but me admitting to the fact that I didn’t care enough about myself to ever put me first. This is how I went along for some time–that is, until I made some friends that would spark a mission of self-discovery, one which would carry me to adulthood and in the end change my perspective on life.

I was fourteen when I met…let’s call him Isaiah, because that’s his name. Isaiah was my best friend for a really long time, and he helped me break out of my little shell more than anyone else could have. We were young and restless little fourteen-year-olds, and I’m sure our parents still don’t and never will know the adventures we took together and the memories we made. It was through Isaiah that I met Mat (who you can find out about by reading my post What I’ve Learned From A 10-Year+ Friendship).

Mat was also quiet and self-contained, like me, but with emo hair and an interest in K-Pop instead of what I had: Donkey Kong t-shirts and an interest in eating my feelings. And then, at the same church where I met Isaiah and Mat (yeah, us church kids had some wild times), I met another life-long friend, Laken, who was cooler than me in every regard and yet still wanted to hangout with me. These three guys, though they probably never realized it, not at first, would become three of the most important things in my life and a catalyst to make me realize I wanted to change.

Mat and I taking a picture with Isaiah’s van after Laken’s wedding. February, 2018.

Seven years down the line–after heartbreaks over crushes, silly friend fights over video games, and a lot of childhood lived–my family decided to leave Arizona. I was sixteen and heading into my final years of high school. At the time, I thought I was losing everything. I had to leave everything I ever cared to know or remember behind. From there, my parents hopped around from place to place and job to job, and since neither of my brothers lived at home anymore, and I wasn’t anywhere long enough to make new friends, I receded back into my shell. Soon we hit small town Oregon. My dad passed away. I got my first real job. Life was throwing some very adult punches. And then something magical happened: I met Victoria, the soft-spoken yet spunky woman I’d soon fall in love with.

The one time Victoria and I took fake wedding photos as an April Fools joke. Photo credits go to Victoria’s Maid of Honor, then, and for real now, Carolyn.

When first our moms introduced us to each other, I remarked to myself that Victoria didn’t really seem like she wanted to be out and about that day, and she confirmed, at a much later date, that that was true. We were both a bit odd and out of our element, having both moved from our childhood dwellings recently, and both having a lack of local friends. It took some time for me to cozy up to the idea of trying out a new friend, but when we both decided to make the jump–or rather, to click on the Friend Request button–there was no slowing down. We had ups and downs on our way to love, the downs admittedly being my fault in most cases…I had liked her immediately upon meeting, and I knew it. But one day I decided I was too scared, and I DTR’d (defined the relationship) which was, as you can guess, a horrible idea. I said I wasn’t looking for a relationship, that I wasn’t ready, which was true. And she said she understood. And then it got really awkward between us.

Several weeks later, maybe even months, I invited her to see the midnight release of Avengers: Age of Ultron with me. She hates when I tell this part of the story: But that night, sitting in a dark theater and watching as Tony Stark accidentally rained terror upon the world, I fell deeply in love with Victoria. Here’s why: She hated action movies, and had never seen a Marvel film; she normally was in bed by nine and was never out past that time anyway. But here she sat, fighting to stay awake in an Avengers movie simply because she wanted to spend time with me. That’s the moment I realized what I had given up and almost lost entirely. Summoning the shell-shattering support of my three best buddies back in Arizona, I decided to assert myself in life for maybe the very first time, and the next occasion that Victoria and I were together, I asked her out.

Now that I’m here, about to marry this wonderful, brilliant, beautiful woman, now that I’m standing at the cusp of the final page of a chapter, teetering on the edge of a cliff and about to dive into whole knew waters, it’s not the anxiety-ridden roller coaster everyone told me it would be. Rather, it just feels…right. It feels as though all the journeys through Colorado winters with family; all the Arizona summers with my best friends; all the cold, heartbroken nights when love was lost with my latest crush; and all the early mornings of waffles and video games, all led to this beautiful cliff and the fresh waters below. Is that selfish? To think that life has been perfectly sculpting you, taking the chisel to the unfinished patches of your soul and sanding away the rough areas, all preparing you for your future? Is it selfish to think that destiny might have finally found her way to your door and is gently knocking, excited for an extended visit?

Victoria, myself, Mat, and Rachel — taken in 2017 to commemorate Victoria’s first time visiting Arizona.

Well… Whether it’s a finely tuned destiny or just a series of unrelated events that happened to lead me right to the girl of my dreams, I’m ready and overjoyed to open the door and let her in. And don’t worry, Victoria is all caught up on the Marvel Cinematic Universe now and, I’m proud to say, rather enjoyed the films.

Thanks for reading this week’s blog post! For more about me or my life, check out these two posts: Unconventional Role Models and The Struggles of Independence

You can also take a look at the works of fiction I’ve published here.
And you can follow for more content! I post everything from articles like this one to poetry, short stories, and writing tips.

Have a great week, and check back in for a fun announcement in my next post. If you enjoyed this week’s post, then like and share so other people can enjoy it, too!

Weekly Writing Prompt:

She’d heard the rumors of this place, but as the door opened to reveal it to her own eyes, she stood still in disbelief…

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A Man Made of Stone is an original narrative poem I wrote specially for the blog. Please enjoy it, and if you’d like, share your thoughts in the comment section below:

A Man Made of Stone

by Benjamin J. Law

There once was a man made of stone;

he was born in ancient times,

to a house in the fields of its kingdom.

Though his mother was wise,

and his father was strong,

they feared greatly the sight of their son.

They hid their child away, inside the house,

and they named him Phobos,

a Greek namesake, a god from the clouds.

Every day was Phobos kept inside,

until nightfall when he’d work the fields—

unseen, and stronger than the moon was bright.

So went on the days of Phobos,

who never sweat and never bled,

who did not complain nor weep,

who lifted the horses from their tired feet,

who bested the oxen in every feat,

who was never seen except by moonlight.

Beyond the fields where Phobos reaped and sowed,

there was trouble mounting against the crown:

The Queen was to be besieged,

by a war king called The Maliced Knight.

The Maliced Knight was known to all but Phobos—

until came his twenty-fifth birthday night.

His rock hands were covered in mud,

the rain soaking the fields he worked,

when he looked up to see the bloody horizon,

now cast in dark shadows that moved with force.

The Maliced Knight had come, over hill and stream,

on a road that led to the fields of Phobos and his house.

His mother wise and father strong,

they ushered him into their home, hiding away,

but there still came a knock at the door:

And the father strong answered with care,

but The Maliced Knight, dressed in the shadows,

struck down the father of Phobos with only one blow.

And the dark knight rode with his army into the night,

leaving Phobos and his mother to weep,

kneeling in the pool of blood left behind.

Phobos rose then, and set for the door,

blessing his mother with a rock’s kiss upon the head,

before he vanished into the harsh moonlight.

Upon the Queen’s castle, in dead of night,

descended the droves of armored soldiers,

all following behind The Maliced Knight.

They slaughtered and rampaged and pillaged,

taking all that was and would be—

and ripping the castle grounds into shreds.

No Queen did they find until nigh on daybreak,

when The Maliced Knight found the castle’s height,

finding too the lonesome Queen on the tower’s bluff.

She watched the evil eyes of her attacker,

who approached with tearful laughter,

and he raised his blade to strike her down—

But the Queen wouldn’t die by this knight’s hand;

she stepped from the bluff, plummeting down,

nearly reaching the ground, but not quite:

For she was caught by a hideous sight.

Phobos saved the Queen from her own demise,

and setting her down, he continued through castle gates.

None truly know the facts of that night…

Some say that Phobos was aided by the gods,

some say that he was aided only by his own might.

This is all that’s known absolutely:

At the hands of Phobos did every last soldier fall—

dripping from his hands was the blood of any and all.

When lastly The Maliced Knight came to meet this man,

when he finally saw the grey, unsightly skin of rock,

cracked and dry but strong as an ox,

he laughed and jeered, his sword slick with blood,

and he approached Phobos without fear.

Phobos stood still and waited, letting his enemy come.

“It is I,” said Phobos when finally he could,

but The Maliced Knight laughed yet again.

“It is who?” he asked in high mockery and spite.

“I whose father you have struck in cold blood—“

“I who stands for no Queen or land—“ said Phobos.

“It is I who will see you reaped like the fields.”

And under the pale dusk sky, Phobos attacked.

He stood strong and wise against The Maliced Knight.

And as he ripped the knight’s sword to shreds,

as he pounded his enemy into puddles of blood,

as he descended upon him with the force of an army,

the sun rose, shining upon Phobos for the first and only time…

Thanks for stopping by the site and giving this week’s blog post a read! If you enjoyed it, then don’t forget to like this post and follow the blog for more. You can also feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Want to read more? You can read the last poem I posted here: When We Were Kids.
I also post occasional short stories, most recently War and Famine and It Comes When It Needs To. To check out my collection of books available now in paperback and eBook format, click here.

Have a great week!

Weekly Writing Prompt:

The sun rose, blistering, over the desert of my people, but it was not greeted kindly–not today…

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A few weeks ago I made an In Writing post about worldbuilding where I talked about knowing the history behind your character and their surroundings. That, however, is balanced by the importance held by the end of your protagonist’s story. The very last few words of any tale are the ones that will stick with your audience the longest, in love or hatred. To craft a tale that feels both full and important, the last sentence must be as impactful as the first.

From J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers (part two of the Lord of the Rings trilogy) comes this quote about Frodo’s dear friend, Samwise Gamgee: “He never had any real hope in the affair from the beginning; but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed.” This single sentence shows that Tolkien was scheming toward the third book’s climax—but also it hints at where our characters will be when they reach it. Now, I’m a bit biased; if you know anything about me, you know I love Tolkien—as a personal inspiration and a writer. However, it’s clear to see that much of the reason Tolkien’s trilogy is so renowned is because he had a clear idea of where he wanted the characters to be at the story’s conclusion.

Image Source: The Indian Express

Mystery author Agatha Christie is another writer who is an excellent example for knowing the ending at the beginning. I’m currently neck deep into a Hercule Poirot collection, and with every story I’m impressed by her ability to weave together impeccable plots with inevitable conclusions. And that’s what she, along with all great writers, practices well: the inevitability of the ending. When a reader reaches the end of a story, as I’m sure I’ve said before on this blog, he or she must feel a sense of inevitability, a sense that, even if they never saw it coming, it couldn’t have ever gone a different way. But how does one achieve that? We can’t all have the magnificent little grey cells of Hercule Poirot!

In my own writing, I do an in-depth outline (most of the time) of all my novels, and this saves some time in the editing and rewriting phase and really helps me stay the course with my characters. I really recommend this step, even though it’s almost as bad as the editing phase itself… If you’re working on short stories, though, an in-depth outline might not be what you need. I tend to let my short stories write themselves, so to speak—let the world grow on its own from the first sentence. This technique has its drawbacks, including a heavier rewrite cycle, but it also lets the protagonist arrive a natural conclusion. A lot of the times I’ll have to make changes and tweak plot to match this ending, if it’s one I think is worth adjusting the story for, and this can lead to a beautifully relatable arch for the reader. In the end, find what works for you, but always keep that last sentence in mind.

“Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter Weekend and a great week to follow! If you missed it, in last week’s blog post I shared the first chapter from Mordecai Episode One: Bloodthirsty. You can give it a read and then pick up your own copy of the full book here. Episode Two: Imprisoned is finished and is in the editing room now, so it’s a good time to jump aboard.

For more writing tips, you can check out my last addition to the series here: In Writing: The Art of Twisting the Plot.

Don’t forget to like, follow, share, and have a great weekend! See you next week with something new.

Weekly Writing Prompt: 

The sun rose once again over the valley, but I remained sat upon my rock, alone…

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Hey, everyone! This week, I’m sharing the first chapter from my most recent novel, Mordecai Episode One: Bloodthirsty. Now is a great time to get your own copy, because next month I’ll be posting a sneak peak at Episode Two: Imprisoned. If you want a taste, here’s the first chapter from Episode One:

-CHAPTER ONE- BEGINNING

Journal Entry #1
Date: August, 9th 2020
Time: 8:30 AM

   Dr. Learnbach insisted that I be more expressive. I don’t find it to be the easiest task. Instead, I opted to keep a journal, and she more or less accepted that. Well…when she disagreed, I cited that she’s a scientist, not a therapist, and she shrugged and told me that I was going to do what I wanted anyway, which is true.
   Johanna, though irritating as a pseudo therapist, does occasionally unleash an idea—a fleeting thought—which lingers on my mind and festers into a steady stream of consciousness. And in this most recent ‘therapy session’, the doctor triggered in me a desire to write out the most painful time of my life. She’d said that getting it on paper might get it off my mind, but my hopes are low to say the least.
   It was twenty-seven years ago…the day my father, Jude Arda, was taken.
   He was working in his office, as he did every night, and I, eight-year-old Mordecai Arda, was sat in the wheeled chair, spinning in circles as I did every night. To fill the empty space that often grew eerily quiet when my father was deep in thought, he had a bootleg of Flogging Molly’s early performances on repeat. Without knowledge of it, Flogging Molly had replicated to near perfection the sounds of elvish drinking music originating in the world where my father had come from, the world he’d lost. The very world he worked so hard every night to find.
   According to my father, he’d stumbled upon a hidden portal (disguised as a small pond, as portals often are), and when his hunting party essentially called him a wimp, he touched the magical water—shining as any water might on a sunny day. Except when he touched it, he was instantly taken from his world… He didn’t come directly to Earth, to the Milky Way Galaxy as we call it, but it’s where he ended up. It was just another stop on his journey home, a fruitless journey at that. The contacts he made through time after being sucked into the portal were uneducated. Not Prowlers, not even Dead Wood members. They were Wanderers.
   He’d finally ended his partnership with them, quickly realizing that Wanderers aren’t to be messed with, before finding himself more or less stranded on Earth. He’d planned on leaving as soon as he got the chance. That is, until he met my mother.
   A tall, proud elf having the signature elvish paleness falling in love with an African American Catholic school girl from New Orleans is a thought difficult to garner. But, it seemed that Jude had traveled across worlds and lost nearly everything for nothing but Eleanor. Luckily for my father, it would take a woman of faith to believe his tale, and more: to stand by his side anyway. Tired of being the school ‘troublemaker,’ my mother agreed to elope to Portland, Oregon with my father, where they eventually married in traditional human fashion. Why Portland? Well, in my father’s own words: why not?
   As it was, though, not even true love could keep my father’s need for discovery at bay, but it would merely change his trajectory. Instead of leaping from world to world, grinding against the threads of space for tears large enough to slip through, and utilizing ancient artifacts of the Testaments, artifacts outlawed to Prowlers for a good reason, he resigned his research to his office (lab, more like it) in order to find a travel plan of the less-endangering variety. With the hope of taking his beloved Eleanor along.
   But it would all be for not, jumping back to the lab on the night of his disappearance, when the opaque windows that paneled all of one wall became overrun with an array of imposing shadows.
   He took no notice of these shadows at first, too deep into the device he was working on to have his attention shaken. I stared with mouth agape, my spinning chair having come to a jolting stop. My father continued on, ambivalent, tinkering away at his ancient technology when, to both of our terror, we heard my mother scream from inside the house.
   My father ripped his goggles from his head and threw them aside, snapping up from his chair and shoving me under the desk. “Stay here, son,” he said to me. But I squirmed. “Mordecai, look at me. Don’t move.” He stood up straight, hearing the fast approach of many feet. I could see in his face he’d hoped to reach my mother…but it was too late. He looked at me again. “I love you, son,” he said, a single teardrop on his cheek. “Tell your mother I love her. I love you both—”
   And then the door to the lab burst open.
   In came at least four figures dressed in long, imposing grey robes, hoods shrouding their faces in darkness. And beyond the fact that I knew they were there, I couldn’t say any more about them; except that their hands were uncovered. Each hand was of a different kind, each figure of a different race and a different world. But on each of their left palms they shared in common the branding of a wilted tree in an uneven, fiery circle. One hand, which had fingers tipped in claws, had the emblem burned right through white fur.
   The figures quickly converged on my father, and he slipped his hand into his pocket and retrieved a small item. I couldn’t see what it was, but he shocked one of the attackers with it in a severe way. The robed creature went soaring back against the wall, sending tools, maps, and trinkets flying forward. Another figure slipped around to my father’s right side, throwing a simple punch. But that only started a brawl.
   Looking back, my father didn’t seem surprised—rather expectant. He’d no reason to be armed with a weapon when just his son was there. Yet he was ready, and he fended them off with experience.
   I remember my eyes feeling swollen as they filled with tears. It was the last time I ever cried.
   When the fight was over, one of the hooded foreigners planted a fist in my father’s throat and slammed him against the wall, and then without even a glance around the room the figures were dragging my father, alive but limp, from the lab by his arms.
   When I finally crawled out from under the desk the world outside was uncannily noiseless. Unable to contain my eight-year-old self, I called out to my father, and then my mother. As if in response to my holler, there came a bright and fluorescent blue light from somewhere beyond the windows. I’m not sure how, but by some intuition I knew my father was gone by the time the blue light had disappeared. Gone to another world far from home. I stood silently staring at the now pale-grey windows until my mother came running into the room and grabbed me in the tightest hug I’ve ever received, tears streaming down her face and her body trembling.
   That day set my course. I knew from then on that I, like my father, would spend my life chasing what I’d lost.

End of Journal Entry

   A noise from the window over my desk draws my attention away from the journal. My wooden wind chimes swing disjointedly outside the front door of my ground-floor apartment, but the lack of wind raises concern.
   My pointed ears caused me trouble growing up, as being half elf isn’t quite understood on Earth (especially with most humans being blind to the worlds beyond), but the enhanced hearing of an elf makes up for the strange glances and passive insults. Though I heard nothing just now, there are things in the multiverse too quiet to stir even me from my writing desk. Taking a quick sip of coffee, I retrieve my pistol (a jet-black Beretta, matte and discreet) from the desk drawer, and slide the drawer shut again with the gun’s barrel.
   A glance out the window leaves me without an eye on anything of importance, and I can only see Mrs. Cochran, the loving apartment manager, speaking with a passerby. My apartment remains still and dark in the cloudy Portland morning. A soft ticking echoes from my clock; a buzzing ripples out from the blank TV; and the floor shakes softly from the vehicles moving by outside.
   A footstep. Quiet and moving quickly around my apartment. A pinecone cracks underfoot.
   I raise my gun, taking aim at another window across the unkempt living room. Nothing passes by. I haven’t been Prowling in…ages. I’ve no reason to be followed, but I turn again, weapon raised, reacting too quickly to my neighbor’s shower nozzle clicking on. Several light footsteps stamp up my walkway, their subtle vibrations moving beneath my own feet. I move swiftly to the door, maneuvering around my messy glass coffee table and leather couches, and put my back against the wall to overtake the attacker—and then there comes three gentle knocks.
   “Mordecai, open this door this minute or I swear I’ll come burstin’ through. You wouldn’t dare miss church on a Sunday when we’re finally in town together!”
   “Mother?” I say, more surprised than I’d like to be as I open the door to see Eleanor Arda outside in her favorite turquoise dress and ornamental hat. Her dark cocoa-toned skin is as vibrant as ever, but is in sharp contrast to my maple complexion. I stick the pistol into the holster on my belt, releasing a sigh of relief. “Sorry, I thought that—well, never mind… How could you even imagine I’d miss church?” My tone is agitated despite my jest, and she catches it like any mother would.
   “What’s goin’ on, son?” She chuckles as she comes inside and notices the eight and half coffee mugs (the half being a broken one) on my coffee table. “Clearly, you’ve been having some late nights and early mornings.”
   I rub my eyes, greenish-brown like my father’s, and glance at the mess she’s referring to. “There’s been more movement than normal across the worlds. Dr. Learnbach has been keeping me updated, but they’re irregular—nonsensical spasms at best.”
   “Now, Mordecai… I told you I don’t want you Prowlin’ anymore; it’s dangerous. I know you’re an adult, and you’ll do as you please.” She lifts her hands as if in innocence. “But…well, Jude is gone. I don’t think he’ll be coming back, son. And if he’s out there, travelin’ the worlds still, maybe he doesn’t want to be found.” Hiding her face, she turns away.
   My mother’s words, true as they are, impact me like a hammer to the heart. “I know,” is all I say, but not all I think. Not all I feel. Repression. That’s my only escape. I know she hurts, too. But she won’t show it. “I don’t think you should be chastising me on dangerous trips when you’ve just finished a six month reprieve across Europe, though.” I crack a smile, attempting to shift the subject.
   “Old doesn’t mean unable, kiddo!” She allows the shift. “Come on, now. If we don’t leave we’ll never make church. I’ve told you how the reverend gets about late arrivals!”
   “Still surprises me,” I say as I move to collect my maroon trench-coat and slip my journal into its pocket, “that you don’t attend mass at the cathedral anymore.”
   “Well…” My mother sighs and shrugs, a hidden emotion slipping out only momentarily. “People change.”
   That they do, I think but won’t say. That they do.

Thanks for giving this week’s post a read. To get your own copy of Mordecai – Episode One: Bloodthirsty, click here. If you want to read the synopsis and/or check out some of my other books, click here. Don’t forget to follow the blog, too, and get notified of future posts. Have a great week!

Weekly Writing Prompt:

He was from another world, but she accepted him anyway…

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