The Inspired Artist Studio Volume 1, Issue 3 August 2012
Artist Spotlight: Dawn Zichko
Storyteller’s Nook: Hey Tonight Supernatural Intrigue in New Orleans
Enjoy Some Northern Exposure The Watercolor Paintings of Deep Friar
Copyright © 2012 by Blue Sun Studio, Inc.
The Inspired Artist Studio Volume 1, Issue 3 August, 2012 The Inspired Artist Studio is published on the last Friday of every month. Cover: Dawn Zichko “Random Cairns” To Subscribe click here. Submission Guidelines All submissions are original work not previously published, except for author’s own websites. Authors retain all copyrights to the work however we reserve the right to publish on Blue Sun Studio Websites and newsletters with attribution. Entries may be used for purposes of promotion and contests. Chosen entries may be published- with attribution- in a collection of entries for a future publication. Send submissions or contact us, send your emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org Blue Sun Studio, Inc. 4695 Marnell Dr. Las Vegas, NV 89121 Find us on the Web at: http://bluesunstudio-inc.com Copyright © 2012 by Blue Sun Studio, Inc.
“The Avengers, The Scooby Gang (Buffy Version), The Watchmen… Every great team has a beginning. This is story of a group of supernatural misfits finding each other, even as the world they know is crumbling around them. Each of them is filled with flaws but capable of great things, and as the book progresses, they find ways to accept who they are are and rise above their circumstances. It is a love story that shifts just like the wolves and cats shift. I admire the twists and turns and love the characters.” - John Hewitt; Poe War
Order Your Copy Today! (click here to read more reviews) The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
In This Issue: Notes From the Editors................................................................... 4 Behind the Words: How Does The Rewrite Process Work?............................................ 6 Artist Spotlight: Dawn Zichko—Sanctuary On The Mountain................................... 9 Life’s Little Inspirations: Feed My Soul................................................................................... 10 Poetry Corner.................................................................................. 11 The Inspired Artist Gallery: Northern Exposure with Deep Friar................................................ 13 Storyteller’s Nook: “Hey Tonight” by Scott Roche.......................................................... 16 Fiction Friday: The Haunted Winery....................................................................... 35
9 Artist Spotlight: Dawn Zichko Summer’s End
13 The Inspired Artist Gallery: A Little Northern Exposure
16 Scott Roche’s Hey Tonight 3
Notes From the Editors Here we are on the verge of the Labor Day weekend, the kids have gone back to school and in some areas, the leaves are starting to change. Can Summer be over already? August was a crazy-good month for submissions to The Inspired Artist Studio. Our pages have swelled with an amazing amount of creativity. Our spotlight artist this month is Dawn Zichko, who shared her spiritually charged art and words with us. Writer Scott Roche sent us an exciting story and the first installation of a serial he’s working on. We also have some outstanding watercolor paintings from our good friend Deep Friar. In news around the internet, we’ve opened up two new Facebook groups. The first is the Behind the Words Studio,
a group geared toward writers of differing experience levels. They’re a chatty bunch, full of helpful advice for one another and a lot of creative ideas when it comes to writing. Check out the Fiction Friday section of this issue for a sampling of how they’ve all responded to last month’s writing prompt. Our other new Facebook group is the Blue Sun Design Studio. This is home to designers and non-designers alike. Whether you have experience to share or would like to learn more about design and the business of design, come join us. In the meantime, enjoy the August issue of The Inspired Artist, and a big thank you to all our contributors!
Wendi & Deb
The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
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You’ll learn how to create posts and pages (and what the difference between the two are!), how to add various media, how to create your navigation menus and so much more. Are you ready to step up to WordPress and take control of your site? Click here to learn more and order your copy today. 5
Behind the Words How Does The Rewrite Process Work? Deb Dorchak
Recently, Wendi and I finished our first draft of book two, Bonds of Blood & Spirit: Uncivil Wars. Packmates (the BBS fans) all raised a glass with us to celebrate the good news on this long-awaited sequel to Loyalties. The big push to finish it started in June, and once we got our momentum going, we couldn’t stop. In fact, with the fires still burning brightly, we’ve broken ground on the final book in the series, Legacies. Wendi’s recent “Staycation” must have sparked something, because on the last night of it, while she was relaxing in the jaccuzzi staring at the night sky, a bolt of inspiration hit her like a meteor. The idea was so brilliant (and so heart-wrenching it made both of us cry), we had to get on it right away! So, in true Blue Sun fashion, we’ve taken on a big challenge; rewriting and editing book two while writing the first draft of book three. 6
I was telling this to a good friend of mine, Leigh Spencer. Leigh is a fellow writer and collaborates with another good friend of ours, John Hewitt of Poe War. When we met up in Vegas a couple of months ago, we swapped a lot of stories about our respective projects, and what it’s like working on a collaboration. At the time, they were on the verge of the rewrite stage themselves. This was when Leigh asked me the following: “I’ve just never written anything this big before. JC and I have already talked about some things—like characters who need more development and back story, The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
or story lines that we kind of dropped and whether it pays to revisit them. I guess my biggest, daunting issue is how do you break a larger piece down into manageable, bite sized pieces to fix it? With collaborative writing, I think it’s both harder and easier. We’ve been going along, doing our own thing for our sections, but now, we’re faced with this big story, as a whole, and we need to decide who fixes what. It’s fun and exciting. Just very new for me.” Until she asked, I never thought much about the process of rewrites. Doing edits, tweaking the story and everything else is something Wendi and I do on the fly a lot while we’re writing. Sometimes we have to totally put on the brakes, go back to the beginning and tear everything up to get back on track. This is all before we get finished with the first draft and into an official rewrite. The process for rewriting is going to be different for everyone. When you write solo, you’ll have your own method and don’t really have to answer to anyone but yourself for the changes you make. But a collaboration is different. There’s you and your partner to consider. Take that a step further, and there’s a lot of different ways to collaborate. The way you collaborate will determine the way you handle your rewrites. Summer’s End
How Do You Collaborate? Let Me Count The Ways Methods of collaboration, much like marriages, come in all shapes and sizes. A collaboration is a very intimate and complex relationship. To have a good one, you have to know how to effectively communicate, know how to compromise, know how to listen and above all, know how to leave your ego at the door. Many collaborators I’ve spoken with, work in such a way that one person writes a chapter or section, then hands it off to their partner, who will read through the first part, maybe make a few edits here and there, then add new stuff. Personally, I can’t imagine working that way. There’s nothing at all wrong with it, it’s just not the way I’m used to. Wendi and I have a much different approach. We rarely write alone. The only exception novel-wise is the chunk of back story I wrote for Diego for book two. Even then, after the bulk of it got started, it wasn’t long before we both started adding more together. Other times, one of us will feel a strong urge to write, getting a scene or character in our head that won’t rest until we get it out, and we’ll add a bunch of stuff if the other isn’t around at the time. (Rewrite continued on p.16) 7
Journal Page, 2012; collage mixed media 8
The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
Artist Spotlight: Dawn Zichko Sanctuary On The Mountain Interviewed by Deb Dorchak
together on a magazine we called Mooncircles. When I got married, Dawn was my maid of honor. We may have had lapses in communica-
The first time I met Dawn was back in the early 90s. I’ll never forget walking into her log cabin on the mountain near Cold Spring, New York. The place was as warm and graciously hospitable as Dawn. I knew as soon as I saw her loft arranged with crystals, drying herbs, paintings, altars, and other rustic charms, this woman was a kindred spirit. From that moment on, we forged a friendship that has lasted for nearly 12 years and is still going strong. I can still remember sitting in a little café of an ice cream shop in Salem, Massachusetts during the annual Heritage Parade, making plans for our first women’s spirituality group. That in turn lead to working Summer’s End
tion here and there, but we always manage finding a way to reconnect. This time, it was Facebook that brought us back together and I’m so glad that happened. I get to share her insight and creativity with all of you. Join us now as I introduce to you, Dawn Zichko, a woman who has a place among the most Inspired Artists I know. *** What is your earliest memory of creating an artistic piece? The earliest memory I have is from when I was 8 or 9 copying the line horse drawings from a Breyer Horse coloring book. I did it all by eye with accurate proportions and everything. So technically, at that age, I was a good draw-er. What does art mean to you? Art means never having to say you’re (Sanctuary continued on p.20) 9
Life’s Little Inspirations Feeding My Soul Wendi Kelly
The kids are officially back to school. Summer blew in like a whirlwind, grabbed my breath and took me on a ride. A fun ride, no complaints here. We went on a fun vacation, Deb and I finished our second novel, and got through part one on our third one, had great parties, spent time with family and friends. If I had to do a “What I did this summer” Essay, I wouldn’t know where to begin. This week the kids went back to school. The rains finally came and brought with it cooler, crisp weather that smells fresh. Alive. The grass is green again, and I can feel the garden sigh with relief as it comes out of drought survival mode and begins the process of growth and life. And I hear this whisper inside of me. Feed My Soul. 10
I breathe deeply. I sit quietly. I look around and wonder, “Haven’t I been? I’ve been having fun, I’ve been creative, I’ve been eating healthier…what’s the problem?” I had to sit quietly with that whisper for awhile. The answer wouldn’t come easily. It was elusive and shadowy. Feed My Soul… How? So I sat some more. I got quiet. I listened deeper. And instead of ”Feed my Soul…” I heard: Ahhhh, thank you. Thank you? But I didn’t DO anything! And then it dawned on me. I did the ONE thing that really does feed my soul. I got quiet. I got present. I got tuned in. I slowed down and paid attention. I didn’t need to DO anything. I didn’t need to READ anything. I didn’t need to HEAR anything. I needed silence and presence. My Soul is Fed. I am rejuvenated and ready for the next page. I am open to the day. To the Adventure. To serve others. With a well-fed Soul. The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
Poetry Corner Walking through my life makes me want to blend in Like a chameleon Hide from reality; wishing I could escape into my own world One of fantasy A world of magic Falling on a slippery path brings me back from my dreams Casting light upon me; showing me we all need to Face our lives. Smiling to myself I realize my life is not so bad I make decisions that lead me. I make my own fate That is my world It is my reality MY world of magic â€”Tracy Bradshaw
The Inspired Artist Gallery: Northern Exposur
The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
re with Deep Friar
The Deep Friar in an engineer by day, who paints in his free time at night. He’s been doing watercolors off an on since childhood, but only seriously started getting into it 13 years ago. Friars’ favorite subjects are outdoor landscapes and wilderness scenes from photos that he’s taken while hiking, canoeing, or going on big-adventure road trips. Of particularly interest to Friar is the “Shield Country” found in eastern Canada, with it’s rocky granite shores, pristine lakes and white pine forests. Friar also draws cartoons and dabbles in photography. Samples of Friar’s art work (including paintings for sale) can be found on his blog at www.deepfriar.wordpress. com. He can also be reached at email@example.com, for more information.
(Rewrite continued from p.5) We work in “real time”. To do this, we open a Google Doc (along with an IM window) and go in there at the same time. We’ll discuss our direction for that particular chapter, what the focus is and what needs accomplishing, and then dig in. We’ll take a round-robin approach, one starting and going as far as we need to, then stopping and letting the other take over…to start. There are times when we’re both writing at the very same time, on occasion, in the same sentence. When dialogue crops up, what you read in our novels is real time conversation between our characters. Neither of us is mapping any of that out. We respond “in character” and follow wherever that leads us. It’s a lot like two lead guitarists sharing the same stage. We may get out there, but we always manage to bring it back to where it’s supposed to be and continue with the song.
The Rewrite(s) Our rewrite process takes on the same flavor. We’ll spend time reading through what we have, either together or alone, and make adjustments. If one of us has made changes alone, the Revision History 14
function comes in handy for viewing what was done. This is where checking the ego at the door becomes more important than I can say. Some writers would take it personally having someone else change their words or creating actions and responses for “their” characters. A collaboration means knowing your partner and their characters as well as you know yourself and your characters. It’s also about respect. For the most part, we change what we need to. When we get to a section we think the other might like a lot and not want to change, we ask first if we can make changes to it. A majority of the time we’ll say, “I like it, but I’m not attached to it. Have at it.” And the other times? There’s nothing wrong with saying “But…I LOVE that part! How can we work with it?” Sometimes it stays, sometimes it doesn’t, but we always talk about it first. Now that Uncivil Wars is “done”, we’ll go the extra step of printing it out. We’ll both read through it and make notes. When we’re done with that, we’ll go through page by page and discuss what we need to do next, what gets changed, what needs to be beefed up or reduced and what ends up on the cutting room floor. With us, it’s not so much a matter of The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
who does what at this stage, that comes with the final edits and production. Wendi will usually do the bigger edits and rearranging after we’ve gotten a draft back from the focus groups and then I’ll handle the cover design and layout after it’s all done. Even so, we still have a lot of discussions between ourselves for those portions too. Speaking of focus groups and editors… don’t leave home without them. Our focus groups, carefully selected to represent a wide sampling of our target audience, provides us with extremely valuable feedback. For example, if it wasn’t for Tania Lynn, we wouldn’t have had an epilogue. And I wouldn’t have had Eliza Fayle to double-check all the French I pulled from my High School memory. Neither Wendi nor I claim to be proof editors, it’s easy for us to miss stuff. We had two different editors for Loyalties, Jen Brosnan ( and a friend of hers who became our Italian language expert) and
Emily VanSickle. And John Kelly who caught the “red bananas”. If you’ve never done rewrites with a partner, or for that matter, never collaborated before, take some time to talk with your partner. Take a good look at how you collaborate. Ask yourself, is this working for us? What would you change if you could? Would you write “together” more? Would you prefer more solo time? The Big Chunk method may not work for you with the rewrites. You may choose to try the Google Doc method and meet on a regular basis to get the book done. The bottom line is, find what works best for you and keep the lines of communication wide open. Oh, and one very important note…If you do decide to use Google Docs, try not to break it like we did. Poor Google can only handle 188,197 words at a time.
Want to read more from Wendi and Deb? Find them on the Blue Sun Network: Blue Sun Studio, Inc. Life’s Little Inspirations
Behind the Words Creative Clarity Coaching
Storyteller’s Nook Hey Tonight
A Short Story by Scott Roche The large chunk of cold iron rammed into my chest. It wasn’t a faerie’s only weakness, but it is certainly our greatest. The sword’s crossguard was the only thing that stopped it from passing through entirely. That pain was the last thing I felt. I’d say it hurt like Hell, but as the next few minutes—or perhaps hours, days or even centuries— proved there is very little truth to that hyperbole. Nothing could have prepared me for the sheer agony that I endured next. I lack the words to describe what it feels like to have your soul pierced with a million needles. You see methods in ancient literature involving hot coals, impalement through various orifices, being boiled in a variety of fluids. Not even close. Why... how can a soul even FEEL pain? Some people would take this experience and use it for fuel to be a better person. Not me. I plan on spending the next few millennium hunting down the fucker who created Hell. Then we’ll see how he likes the receiving end. *** 16
The first voice I heard upon returning to the mortal world was that of John Fogerty. The singer’s wail filled the apartment from wooden boxes. The first thing I smelled was the pungent and familiar odor of burning marijuana. The idiot who summoned me had done me a favor, but I would have preferred making my entrance with a decent incense and some Vivaldi. I had anticipated spending a lot more time with my attendant demons, say, at least a few millennium. My innate sense of time told me that it was only a few seconds past midnight on the birth of the year 2012. Time in the nether regions was fluid. The last time I visited Earth was at least a hundred and fifty years earlier, and that ended rather badly. Had I been in that cell for over a century? My summoner looked as surprised as I felt. When I crushed his larynx with the side of my hand, his look of surprise dimmed rapidly and my own satisfaction increased. Venting my anger at my prison guards on (Tonight continued on p.16) The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
Dawn Zichko; Bones of My Mother, 2010 tempera on paper, 36” x 48”, Summer’s End
(Tonight continued from p.14) this fleshy shell whetted my appetite for vengeance, rather than abating it. I stepped over the cooling corpse. The crude summoning circle told me almost everything I needed to know about the man at my feet. He was a rank amateur with more power than brains. He had to have a book or a scroll to have summoned me from the depths of Hell. I looked around for the tome, thinking it would help me in binding my essence here or in returning to my true home. I found a torn and yellowed page. Among all of the arcane language I saw my name, my true name. Unpronounceable to anyone not schooled in my native tongue, most mortals called me Laurent. These symbols were meant to bring not just any fae here, they called me and would bind me. In horror, I folded the paper and tucked it deep into my pocket. The charm I placed on it would kill any mortal that touched it. A quick scan of the ritual revealed that he hadn’t had a clue about what he possessed. What person in their right mind would open a portal to Hell in order to rescue the soul of one of the Faerie folk, if we could be said to have souls? I felt a bit of sorrow for the man. He had done me a favor that a mere mortal could 18
never understand and I had repaid it with a death blow. There was little time to mull that over. Having read the spell, I knew I’d have the remaining hours between now and sunrise to ensure that I stayed on this plane. If I didn’t secure a few needful things, I’d be writhing in the clutches of a rather perturbed jailer. They didn’t get my kind in Hell often enough and losing me would cost someone their continued existence. The corpse at my feet and the apartment around me painted an interesting picture of my summoner. Aluminum foil covered the windows. Clippings from newspapers spelled out what the man hoped would provide him with a more arcane variety of protection. It was the work of the dedicated, the insane, or both. As crazy as he was though, the crude preparations had potential. Combined with the ley line, whose thrum I could feel under my feet, were the only things that made my being here possible. I used the available arcane power to cast a glamour and clothe myself in the garb of the day. Skinny jeans, and a black tee shirt that screamed “FUCK YOU VERY MUCH!” in a gaudy script, were what the gods thought I should be wearing. I didn’t object. I tucked the scrap of paper in my hip pocket and took the large, fixed blade knife The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
from the dead man’s hand. It had a clipped point. Swirling patterns in the steel spoke of metal forged by the Celts. Bending near the body to take the weapon’s sheath from his belt, I examined him for the first time. Humans all look the same to me, pitiful and unimaginative. The creator didn’t do nearly enough with their substance when it was molding them. Dead, they struck me as little more than the lumps of clay they started out as. This one was different though. Even in death there was a spark of divine madness that spoke more of my people. That I had killed one with even an ounce of my own blood in him pained me. I sheathed the blade he had unnecessarily bloodied himself with and clipped the weapon to my belt. I had been brought here by a halfling, the offspring of human and faerie, and that made me even more curious. That meant I wouldn’t be able to get any information from him post-mortem. The mixture the bloodlines provided protection from Necromancy. I arranged his body as best I could, closing his eyes. With that dead end, I remembered the clock was ticking. If I didn’t use my time wisely the “why” surrounding my appearance wouldn’t be any more material than I would once the sun came up. The sole exit was through a flimsy woodSummer’s End
en door. I listened at it and then peered through the clever little peep hole, assuring myself that no one waited in the hall. Stairs wound their way up and down. They were in little better shape than the door. The building stood on the verge of collapse from age or world weariness. Flying would take too much energy, so I opted to head to street level. I thought of myself as being light as a feather until I weighed no more than a child. My footfalls were silent as the grave and the risers made no noise. I kept one hand on the knife’s hilt at all time. Once at the bottom, I walked through the outer door and left the drab little apartment behind. Hitting the street level I knew where I was, much as I knew when I was. This was New Orleans. I wasn’t sure of my precise location. By the smell, I was near Lake Pontchartrain. This century had better sanitation than the last, but there were other smells, strange ones. The streets were laid out in grids as I remembered. At this hour I saw no dancers or loud parties. The buildings around me were darkened and marred by crude drawings and mildew. The last time I had been here things were different. It was cleaner—humans were such filthy creatures— but the filth, (Tonight continued on p.20) 19
(Sanctuary continued from p.XX) sorry. Hardly a pun intended. Art is a means of full expression. The paper, canvas, block of wood or stone is a container for one’s self expression. Sometimes, that doesn’t look pretty to others. Art is a place where feelings become visual and visceral ~ it can excite or incite or ignite. The thing is to let the Self explore the landscape and see what one can see ~ then share it. Are you self-taught or did you go to school? I went to the Halls of Academia, but we didn’t get along until the third year of college when one professor saw I had something going in Graphic Design. Much to her chagrin, I didn’t want to work in New York City so after awhile, I was ignored. And that was fine, because then I became selftaught in the ways of computer photo playing and page layouts. Having freelanced for a major direct mail corporation, I learned my way around PageMaker and Quark (I doubt these even exist now). What I really spent time with, starting around 1998, was more visionary art work and Outsider art where one can truly be an Artist of Life. You are a true Renaissance Woman (and Deb has the pictures to prove it), in what ways do you express your creativity? I express my creativity in the Everyday. I
like to blog with as many photos as I can manage. SoulCollage® is an easy outlet, naming one’s parts and creating images for them from magazine cuttings or in Photoshop. I almost always have a painting on the easel ~ either in tempera or acrylic or oil. One of my favorite daily (or almost daily) activities is making journal pages with images and words. Sometimes a line can say so much more than a bunch of my written words about the day or my feelings. I also engage in the fiber arts, spinning, weaving or knitting. I love to create altars either permanent or temporary. Some of my most fun stuff happens when I don’t have the perfect art supplies or materials ~ rock cairns, stick leaning, floating leaves, dinner. My latest creations to play with are dioramas. Is art a hobby or a lifestyle for you? Art is a lifestyle for me. To spend time creating is like breathing. Making something out of nothing is a wily craft. Where do you find your inspiration? Nature. Absolutely, positively Nature. That includes Human Nature. Of all the pieces you’ve done, which one was the most difficult for you? The piece I’m working on at the moment
(Sanctuary continued on p.24) 20
The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
Chariot ~ Tarot Series, 2006, watercolor and Prismacolor pencil
Magician/Shaman ~ Tarot Series, 2006 8” x 8”, watercolor and Prismacolor pencil Summer’s End
(Tonight continued from p.17) or lack thereof, wasn’t it. No square of the city I knew from its past felt this dead or neglected. In spite of appearances, its heart hadn’t changed. Underneath all of the decay there was an energy I felt in my fingertips. It spoke more to me than smells or sights. This city was madder than ever. Given the hedonism they were capable of in the early 1800s that was saying something. It wasn’t just the very debauchery in the air that lead me to believe that so much. It was a clear sense of desperation. A cataclysm occurred here not long before my arrival. I drank the insanity in, like nectar. This was one of the reasons we were drawn to this plane. We couldn’t experience this level of frenzy, given our life span. The different drew us in like magpies to shining silver. I didn’t have much time to fully appreciate it before a voice snapped me out of the appreciative frame of mind. “You in the wrong place cracker.” I turned to see the group of dark skinned men. One of them leered at me. “You know what negro, I couldn’t agree more.” He pulled out an item my brain recognized as a gun. It had been so long since I had seen one. This particular variety was angular and more vicious looking than its ancestors. “What’d you call me, bitch?” 22
“Negro. Isn’t that what your people are called?” The gunshot assaulted my ears. The label had fallen out of fashion. The bullet passed through me, my flesh no more than a wisp of smoke to it. Only silver or cold iron could harm one of us. I drew the summoner’s knife from my belt and flicked it. The blade buried itself up to its hilt in his stomach. I closed the distance and pulled it free with a twist, sidestepping the spilled intestines. The other men ran without making a sound. I cleaned the blade on his colorful jacket and re-sheathed it. Kneeling beside him I whispered, the words sung in my native language. “Speak to me creature of clay. I would know more of your time.” The man’s lips moved and my head filled with knowledge. The tang of gunsmoke and blood of a hundred victims assaulted my nose. The rush of hate and what this place called drugs invigorated me. I knew the thousand names these people called each other in love, hate, and laughter; their cries echoing in my ears. My hands gripped weapons, flesh, money. Everything that passed through his hands tickled my fingers. It would have broken the mind of a lesser being. I filtered through the onslaught, the experiences of three decades in as many seconds. This one was ignorant, even for a man, but he was schooled in the ways The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
of the street and that would serve me. Finally, under all of the mire, I found a gem. He passed on the name of a local voodoo priest. The primitive religious practitioners had often been helpful on my last visit. Now I knew a little about the laws of this world. I could move through it unimpeded. The clock was ticking and the feeling odd for one not a slave to it. I pulled on his knowledge of these streets and sped towards the priest’s house. Sunrise was a few hours away and I would be back in Hell if the person I went to see couldn’t help me. Cars honked as I leapt over intersections. One woman screamed as I bowled her over. Blocks passed behind me without thought. I arrived at the address winded. The house was small, even by human standards. There was one door in the front and another at the back with windows running its length. It sat amongst similar hovels, all with arcane symbols on them. I knew from the dead man’s knowledge they were nothing too mysterious. A storm the likes of which this coast hadn’t seen in years had taken many lives and these signs were talleys. The house I looked at had blank walls and looked untouched by weather. There was great power here, I smelled it under the pollutants and the damp green odor that permeated everything in Summer’s End
this city. It was the portent of a gathering storm. My skin tingled. I couldn’t tap into it though. Whenever I reached out to the power, it receded like outgoing surf. I walked towards the door, poised to kick it down and take what I wanted from inside. There was precious little time. When I crossed the top step though, pain crashed through my body, a tsunami of torment. It didn’t come close to what my soul felt in that darkness I inhabited prior to arriving. It rivaled anything I experienced on the mortal plane. A chuckle and a wink of red light announced the human’s presence. He watched me writhe from behind a screen door. “I knew you were comin’, Laurent. I’s ready for y’all. Have a sit on the stoop and think about the mistake you made.” He knew who I was? I tried gathering my thoughts, to return the threat, but each thought and word blew away as quickly as it came. “Stop, please.” The blood drained from my face. My jaw slackened. I said ‘please’ to no one. A puff of smoke passed through the screen and reached me, acrid and sour. As I breathed it in, the pain eased. It didn’t leave and I couldn’t walk, but I could stand and I could think. “Y’all want somethin’. What it be?” (Tonight continued on p.22) 23
(Tonight continued from p.21) “I need a powerful gris-gris.” These priests specialized in the sort ancient talisman I’d need, though the word in their language was hardly adequate. “It’s said that you can help. I swept my hand across the porch. I can feel the power here.” “I know what y’all be. I know who y’all be. You don’t like the place you be at. I do this thing, and you cut me good. Why I don’t let you go back to Hell?” “How do you know?” “The stink of the place be in you. You never shake it, even if I keep you here. Answer the question, foul spirit.” “I promise that no harm will come to you if you can help me. You and your family will be safe from me to a hundred generations.” My voice changed to a growl. “I also promise that if you can’t, I will split the earth and it will swallow you and your house before I am sucked back through the void.” The porch light flared to life and a short, dark skinned man stepped out onto the porch. “Them be some mighty big words. I got me some good juju worked up for folk like you.” He gestured to the boards he stood on. Cold iron nails held them in place. The heads rose above the darkly stained wood and formed patterns. The shapes alone caused me to squint in pain. 24
I nodded. “Yes. It looks like you do.” “Now, no more threats. I need somethin’ more than your promise not to hurt me and mine. I need somethin’ good.” He drew out the last syllable and took a drag on the cigar. The rich smoke wafted in my direction. “Safety is a boon and you want more? I have killed two men tonight and would add a third.” He pulled a small gun, the color of a sunrise, from his pocket. I laughed at it, until he pulled the trigger. The water that sprayed forth cut through me like a silver blade. My stifled scream made him laugh. He did not know what he was toying with. Or perhaps he did. That thought scared me a little more. My people were tough but not indestructible as one death had already proven in my case. “I give you what you want after you give me what I want. That be fair enough.” “Very well, man. What do you want?” “Cemetery, just a few minutes walk from here. There be a powerful pile of bones just layin’ there for me to make a big grisgris. Help you and maybe help a few other folk.” I struggled to move towards him. “Why can’t you get the blasted bones yourself?” He pointed the gun at my crotch. “Easy there, big one. I know I don’t have your promise yet.” The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
I stopped and held out my hands, smiling. “At your service. I’m still curious.” “The po-po, they look for this pretty face.” He gestured at his own square jawed head, one his own mother would be hard pressed to call pretty. “They see a big ol’ white boy like you and maybe they don’t look twice.” I sighed, tired of being summoned, of being used. “I will get your damnable bones.” I pulled the paper from my pocket. “In return you will look at this and find me a way to stay on this plane.” He took the paper, sealing the promise. “So, human, tell me what was in your gun, before I go to complete your business. Is it some sort of magic?” My people were immune to things like acid. I thought perhaps there was silver suspended in it. He chuckled. “No, old one. It be blessed water.” He sniffed sharply. “You carry with you the taint of Hell. One that has visited that place and returned can be harmed by holy things.” I spat. “God had no use for me or my people before I stepped foot in the pit. In His eyes we are all cursed, yet never before have I heard of such a thing.” The voodoo priest shrugged. “May it be that you’re the first of your kind to return from there? What happens when a Faerie dies?” “We cease to be.” That was the accepted Summer’s End
belief among my people. Unlike these creatures who went on to the creator’s just reward or punishment, my people, who burned more brightly and longer, burned out completely once dead. Or so I had believed. “You be special then.” His laugh was a hideous thing. I chopped at the air, wanting to cut him down. I was held by my promise. “I will complete your errand, and I will keep my bargain, but it will bring me no pleasure. Have answers when I return.” He nodded and took a drag on his cigar. “I will. Now you go down this street three blocks and then go south. In six blocks you’ll see the cemetery. Look for the crypt of the Saint Germaines. There be the bones I need. Bring all you can.” I saw a dark glimmer in his eyes. He held a secret from me. I wanted to pry it from him. I knew ways to pull secrets from the living as well as the dead. My promise held me fast. Saying nothing, I turned and followed his directions. My people moved faster than most humans could even dream of. Anyone watching me would have seen a blur of motion. They would have felt the wind of my passing. They would have heard my wicked curses as little more than the buzzing of bees. (Tonight continued on p.26) 25
(Sanctuary continued from p.19) is usually the most difficult for me. Each piece goes through what I call an Ugly Phase. It seems to lack direction or it’s just some amorphous blob or I’m bored with it. Then one morning I walk into the studio and see some little thing, some possibility, that re-ignites the passion of completing the image. My paintings tend to change quite a bit before I’ve decided they’re done (and even then, they’re never really done) which is why I’ll often take photos of them in progress.
Fireflower Ascension, tempera on paper, 36” x 48”, Private Collection
How Do We Search?, 2011 tempera on paper 36” x 48”, Private Collection 26
Which one was your most enjoyable? (technically or emotionally) My very first Painting From the Source painting. It was an exciting time finding these images inside me forming in tempera on paper. I was pregnant with my daughter then and I was still working on it up until she was three months old. That piece grew from 3’ x 2’ to 3’ x 8’. It hangs unashamedly in our Great Room. (It was also a year of painting vaginas. Such activity was met with varied responses, but it was also a year when I didn’t care what anyone thought.) That piece was my Break Out piece. I was not going to confine The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
the garden flowers and plants. Bennie also started painting in watercolor and acrylics this summer, discovering joy in playing with these mediums as well. She has good technical skill and the fearlessness to paint in a style that is all hers.
Journal page, 2012, Micron pen and Prismacolor pencil myself to what was considered Fine Art or what I’d learned in college any longer. And I quit Graphic Design altogether ~ though it’ll never quite be beaten out of me. Dynamic lines and the proper font still lurk within my being. Are any of your kids following in your artistic shoes? Bennie, my daughter, is indeed following my paint-spattered soles into the world of Art. She likes taking photos, especially of
What are you currently working on? I am currently working on a piece from a summer tele-course with Cat Caracelo called SummerQuest/The 8 Gates. It is sitting on the easel awaiting my attention (undivided, thank you) in canvas and various layers of acrylics with gel medium. Its progress is occasionally seen on my blog. I’m also working on finishing the spinning/ plying of some fine brown alpaca wool. It may become a hat or two. Bonus Question: Créme Bruleé or Cherry Cheesecake? Dude. Creme Brulee, hands down! Especially if warmed with a torch.
More About Dawn I have a complete lack of credentials. I’ve gone to the Halls of Higher Education gaining an Associates in Art. Continued on from there to gain my Bachelors. Doesn’t really matter where I went for these pieces of paper because most of my visions come through me and they don’t seem to require credentials of any sort. I’ve got an idea everyone is an Artist in very many different ways. If I were to have a mission with an accompanying statement it would be to show people how they too can create ~ never mind the drawing of the proverbial straight line. Straight lines are boring anyway; try something curvy. Website: dawnzichko.webs.com Mental Mohair Blog: mentalmohair.blogspot.com Summer’s End
(Tonight continued from p.23) There was nothing worse than dealing with a clever human wizard. I gave the race of weaklings that. Once in a great while they birthed one that could give one of my people a run for their money. The low stone wall of the graveyard rose six feet in front of me. I sprang to the top with ease and dropped to the ground on the other side: the holy, sanctified ground. The memories I stole from the human that shot me included something called napalm. I also knew of Greek fire and phosphorus. These tools of destruction all paled in comparison to the agony that shot up my feet and through my legs. My scream split the air. Dogs howled miles away in response. Sheer force of will carried me deeper into the blessed plot. My legs dragged as though moving through thick porridge. With each step the pain amplified and moved higher up my body. My vision was fogged by it, but I could see the goal. I could be thankful that I didn’t have to walk to the middle of the field of pain. With a blast of sheer strength amplified by my will, I knocked the door of the crypt in, shattering stone. The bones of my hand gave way. My body was a hundred times tougher than a human’s and I would heal, but I knew it would not happen while on 28
holy ground. The darkness beyond offered respite. When I crossed the threshold the pain ceased as quickly as a candle snuffed by breath. I wondered at the phenomenon and when I saw the ring of occult symbols lining the walls, I knew why. The crypt had been defiled, at least in the eyes of Yahweh. The darker beings that this family worshipped would view it as a consecration. I felt the bones in my hand knit. Energy and health returned to me. Restored, I looked around the spacious monument. The middle of the stone house of death contained three sarcophagi. Given the ornate nature of the stonework outside, I was surprised to see plain stone boxes. Not even a name to indicate who was inside. Then I recalled the traditions of these humans. In most cases a body would only lie in state for a year or two before the sarcophagi or casket was emptied and reused. I opened each one, flipping off the heavy stone lids with ease. Each one held the bones of at least one adult human. There were other bones as well. They were small enough that they might have belonged to a monkey or some other small primate. If I had been a human I would have been able to fool myself into believing that they weren’t children. Unclouded by emotions, The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
I knew that they were. I took time to count and saw five adult skulls and a half dozen children’s. I pulled a burial shroud from one of the stone boxes. It was still in good enough shape that I could use it as a makeshift bag. With my dusty burden slung over one shoulder, I contemplated the doorway. The sea of pain I crawled through would not be alleviated at the end of my journey as it had been by the crypt. I would be weakened and unable to make it over the wall. Fear was new to me. Pain was not, but this was beyond pain. I was no longer one of the Faerie, at least not entirely. I had been tainted. Shrugging off the fear, I gathered myself and leaped to cross a large chunk of ground in one movement. The air became thick and I landed eight feet from my starting point, rather than the fifteen or twenty it should have been. Once again I pushed through. The ground sucked at me feet. It wanted to pull me down into its depths and dissolve my body and perhaps my spirit. I would not let it. I stepped high, raising my knees nearly to my stomach. I couldn’t run, but I covered ground quickly. My will and energy were sapped by the pain and the graveyard working against me. I used the rage I had, the centuries of Summer’s End
being my own creature. I would continue. I would serve myself, both sets of gods be damned. I reached the wall after what felt like hours. I clawed my way up, feeling the tips of my fingers split open. I sensed rather than saw the blood and flesh I left behind. Clearing the top of the wall was like a blast of cool air after the furnace of summer. I fell off the other side and landed in a heap on the sidewalk. A bone snapped inside me, but after the torment of the last few minutes, or hours, it was a weird sort of blessing. I rolled onto my back and looked at my fingers. They were whole and there was no blood. My mind had conjured up the feeling of destroyed flesh to describe the unbelievable source of pain. The broken bones were real though. This was another first in a day of them. After a few ragged breaths I pushed to my feet and gathered the bag of bones. The movement made me cough, and the wetness of the sound told me muscles had been ripped open. My return trip to the priest’s house was much slower. What had taken perhaps a minute, now took a full half hour. The stars and moon told me that I had four and a half, perhaps five hours left. (Tonight continued on p.28) 29
(Tonight continued from p.27) This time I stopped well before the porch began. “I hope that you have information. I have promised not to harm you or yours, but I can get creative when motivated.” I coughed again. I recalled the “lungers”, humans who had contracted tuberculosis in the time I last walked the Earth. It sounded eerily similar. The priest moved out of the shadows. “I have, tainted one.” He gestured towards the foot of the stairs. “Put down your gift for me and I will tell you.” I did as I was told and it galled me. I then took a few steps back. “There you have it.” He came down and pushed back the folds of cloth with a cane he had in one hand. He nodded and hummed to himself. “The man you killed was a drug dealer name Willie Sparkles.” “This is useful to me, how?” “Shut up.” He knelt and took one of the bones. “The power be great, maybe not great enough.” He began humming and sang a few bars of something in what was not a language, but a stew of languages. “The spell be bought from an old book store a few blocks away. Go there and get what you want.” He laughed. “What is it?” I didn’t like the laugh. It was too self satisfied. “There be enough gris-gris here for me 30
to give you three days.” “That is not enough.” He shrugged, still looking at the bones. “It be what it be. Find the book the spell came from and I do more. I make you a gris-gris that can hold you back from Hell and you complain. You be worse than my grandbabies.” He looked at me. “Willy Sparkles’ real last name be Evans. That also be the last name of his sister who’s big in the po-po. She gonna be coming after you.” My scalp tingled. “His sister by blood?” Willy Sparkles was a halfling, which meant any sister he had might be too. He continued to laugh. It ate at my thoughts like acid and made me want to kill a defenseless child... Slowly. “Yeah. Strange blood, but real blood.” While I looked for the reason for my being here I would be hunted by a halfling. They could be dangerous. They had some of my people’s gifts and the talent was wild at best. Untrained in how to use the raw power they might have, the unpredictability was hard to combat. The fact that Willy had been successful in summoning me was a clear indication of their potential talent. I would need to hurry. “Make your gris-gris. I need to rest.” I lay on the sparse lawn in front of his house. The connection with life still did its work, but at a trickle. Sunrise would either find The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
me still here, or in Hell. Either way I could do little more than lay back and stare at the waning stars. The morning found me asleep on the voodoo priest’s lawn. Waking up there meant that he had been at least somewhat successful in his attempts. It remained to be seen how successful that was. I stood and stretched my muscles. It felt good to loosen those knots. My body had healed somewhat from the lashing it took at the cemetery. I wasn’t at my peak, and whatever I needed to do over the next few hours would have to be low key. I smelled chicory coffee coming from the house. Reluctant to cross the wards in place, I waited. My stomach rumbled, reminding me further that I was a creature of flesh once more. The door opened and closed and I saw a beautiful young woman with long straight hair and skin every bit as black as last night had been. She had a tray in her hands and I saw a mug and some pastries, along with a small leather bag. She came to me, showing just a little fear in the wideness of her eyes. “Here. My daddy made these things for you.” She put the tray on the ground and stepped away from me. “He say you wear the pouch on you, around your neck’d be best. You’ll stay here either way, but having it will ground you to the earth.” I picked up the small pouch and saw Summer’s End
the rawhide cord that would allow me to wear it as suggested. I put it on without looking in it. “Thank you. I’d like to thank your father too.” The power of my bound promise told me she was his legitimate kin. “Where is he?” “He be restin’ in the house. Makin’ the gris-gris took a lot out of him. You go on now. Leave our home after you eat.” She made a sign at me to ward off the evil she perceived. A splash of pain hit me just above where my heart would be. I hissed a sharp breath out and saw her smile at my discomfort. Some of the nervousness about her dissipated. “I’ll do that.” I picked up the food and took a long pull from the pitch black brew. I watched her turn and walk back to the house, appreciating the sway of her hips under the long skirts she wore. I made a mental note to seduce her at my earliest opportunity. While my promise wouldn’t allow me to harm her body, I was certain I could break her spirit. Once I had broken my fast I moved towards the bookstore. A slip of paper on my breakfast tray gave me the name of the store and its proprietor. The sign read “Hunter’s Books” and from the lights I saw
(Tonight continued on p.30) 31
(Tonight continued from p.29) that someone was in even at this early hour. I walked through the door and a bell chimed in the back. I ducked low to avoid the handful of charms that adorned the corners of the doorposts. I didn’t sense any active magic, but there may have been some silver in the bunch. “Be there in a minute.” A voice called from the back. It didn’t have the lilting quality of a local’s accent. It was harder edged and a deep bass. I touched the hilt of the Bowie knife sheathed at my back and considered my options. It would be satisfying to intimi-
date the man in light of my humiliations over the past twelve hours. I would play it a bit nicer to begin with though. “Take your time.” I browsed the shelves. They were filled with old books and new. Most of them were labelled “New Age”, though there was little new about what they spouted and little of any use I could see. There were also a variety of trinkets and baubles all of which looked cheap and devoid of any real power. I didn’t imagine he would keep anything of real value out front. The owner was a broad shouldered white man. He was dressed in blue jeans and an olive button down shirt. His thick brown
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The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
hair was brushed straight back, but stray hairs curled down to frame his face. Blue eyes shone with intelligence and friendliness. “What can I help you with, sir?” “Does the name Willy Sparkles mean anything to you?” The man’s eyes turned cool. “You don’t look like a cop. What’s your interest in Willy?” “He and I crossed paths recently. He had a paper that contained a ritual. He told me that he got it from this shop. Is that true.” The man walked behind his shop counter and looked more comfortable with some solid wood between us. “Well I don’t suppose there’s any reason to lie to you. Sure, he got some things from me over the last few days. Are you a practitioner?” I raised an eyebrow. “I... dabble. As did Willy from what I could tell.” “I’m sorry, Hunter Payne’s my name. What’s yours?” “You can call me Laurence.” “Alright, Laurence. I’d say that Willy had some real talent, though no focus. What he wanted was some major stuff, not for dabblers.” I waved a hand. “Yes, yes, I saw it. It was very dangerous. Which begs the question, why on earth did you sell it to him?” I put some steel into the question. Hunter’s eyes narrowed. “I believed it could help him.” Summer’s End
I snorted, thinking about how it did the opposite. I gestured at the racks around us. “Why do you carry this drivel?” He put one hand on the counter and I realized that I couldn’t see the other one. “What can I help you with, sir?” I stepped to the counter, letting both hands fall behind my back. “You can stop fucking around with powers you don’t understand and leave it to your betters. You can do that by giving me the book you got the ritual from and then burning this place to the ground. That will help everyone in this town.” “I’m gonna have to ask you to leave, sir.” I had never been that good at diplomacy with these lesser beings. I brought my left hand around to the front of my body slowly and held it out. “Forgive me, Mister Payne. It has been a difficult day for me.” “For Willy too, considering he died last night.” I heard a metallic click from under the counter. “Would you know anything about that, Laurence?” There was a dangerous energy in the air. I knew that he had armed a weapon. “Perhaps I do. I will exchange some information with you and then we can end this visit peacefully.” I wondered how he knew about Willy’s death. “Fair enough. I don’t have the book that (Tonight continued on p.32) 33
(Tonight continued from p.31) the spell came from. So, I can’t give it to you, at least not the original.” “Where did you get the spell from then?” “There’s a bookseller I know out in Colorado. He has it. He gave me the text of the spell over the computer.” “Computer?” I searched the knowledge I had gotten from the man last night and found the reference. “Ah, so would you be able to get the rest of this text?” “Maybe. It would take time and money. Do you have either?” I shook my head. “I do have information that you would find useful. I can trade you a spell for it. Something suitably powerful in exchange for your time.”
“I can do barter. What do you know about Willy’s death?” “I went to see him last night and found him dead. I’m looking for the man that killed him. It has something to do with that spell and the book it was in.” Hunter’s face softened and he brought both hands above the counter. “I’ll help you all I can then. Willy was a little messed up, but he was a good kid. I’ll still take the spell in barter. Since you know a little about how he may have died, you may want to talk to his sister.” “I understand that she is part of the constabulary.” He looked over my shoulder and smiled, then he looked back at me, nodding. “And there she is.”
About Scott: Some creatures feed on blood and revel in the screams of their prey. Scott Roche craves only caffeine and the clacking of keys. He pays his bills doing the grunt work no one else wants to take, bringing dead electronics back to life and working arcane wonders with software. His true passion is hammering out words that become anything from tales that terrify to futuristic worlds of wonder. He’s also constantly seeking out talent for the publishing empire that is Flying Island Press. All that and turning three children into a private mercenary army make for a life filled with adventure.
Find Scott On The Web
Blog: http://www.scottroche.com/thoughts/ Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Scott-Roche/e/B004KS1U6Q/ Flying Island Press: http://flyingislandpress.com/
The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
Fiction Friday Challenge The Haunted Winery Staff
Photo: Wendi Kelly In our July issue we gave our readers a writing challenge. The photo below was used as a writing prompt and the readers were asked to describe a scene based on what they saw and felt from the photgraph. We had a great response from our new Facebook Group, Behind the Words Studio. Interestingly enough, many of the submissions had a dark mood about them. Considering the true back story, this isn’t surprising: Last year, Wendi and John Kelly spent a lazy, rainy Sunday afternoon touring wineries in Northern California. They enjoyed going from place to place, sipping wine, Summer’s End
taking tours of the beautiful scenery and snapping pictures. As they decided to head back, they felt drawn to turn down one more road. They followed the twists and turns, ending up at a winery that looked deserted. A mood settled over them and they felt drawn inside. As soon as they entered, Wendi turned to John, “Does this place feel haunted to you?” John nodded and as they approached the long counter of wine tasting, she asked the same question to the man and woman behind the desk. Over sips of the differing varietals, they learned the tragic story of 35
the woman who haunted the winery and the folks who worked and lived there that willingly shared space with her. *** The following story sketches were written by the members of the Behind the Words Studio. Enjoy!
Leigh Spencer Corrina’s brown leather granny boots clicked and clopped on the slick pavement as she headed toward the café. At 23 years old, she still hadn’t lost her enthusiasm for puddles. Rather than jumping, she discreetly stepped hard into each one she passed. She loved everything about these rainy, overcast days. Just chilly enough for her favorite purple trench coat to make its seasonal debut. She scanned the nearly empty parking lot, looking for Derrick’s car. No sign of the forest green Ford Explorer with the dented bumper and weather-faded map of Seattle on the dashboard. She glanced at her watch. The butterfly approaching Eyore’s floppy left ear, one second at a time, told her she was early. Corrina glanced at her reflection in the shop window of the Indigo Tea Room. The purple trench coat, she imagined, made her look elegant and mysterious. She ran her fingers through her short blonde hair with its new burgundy streaks. The damp36
ness did nothing to damage or enhance the perpetual spiky mess of it. Derrick called it her bullet-proof Harry Potter hair. He’d nicknamed her his little pixie. She wiggled her fingers against the wrought iron railing, casually displacing some raindrops. If he only knew. Approaching the sandwich board with the daily specials, Corrina willed black currant tea and pumpkin scones to be on the menu. No scones. She should have known it was not quite their season. She would placate herself with the French toast. Powdered sugar and orange marmalade instead of maple syrup. Her olive green blouse would be dusted white and Derrick would playfully brush it off before kissing her lips, warm and sweet from the black currant tea. Inside, the hostess turned the sign from closed to open and smiled a welcome to Corrina. Corrina smiled back, but shook her head, declining the invitation to wait inside. She would greet Derrick here. With boots clicking on the wet pavement, enjoying every crisp breath of this rainy, overcast day.
Terry Ambrose Twice I’d been to this parking lot. The first time alive, this time, dead. I know I shouldn’t complain much since I’m now a corpse, but did the man who killed me The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
really have to go into the Wayward Inn for breakfast before he dumped my body in some wet, out of the way, clump of forest twenty miles East of the the nearest speck of civilization? This parking lot was where I met my husband, and it was the place where he’d killed me. Truly, I despise this place.
Brae Wyckoff I stood in the shadow of the tree, staring at the wet pavement of the parking lot. The peculiar smell of the moisture combined with the grime layered on the cement. Three cars glistened from the light rain in the back of the empty, faded lined, stalls; probably the staff of the funeral home. Water dripped from the dreary flowers as I walked past the sign at the bottom of the decorative stone steps with iron handrails. It read ‘CLOSED to the public’, which I thought was odd to have set up in the first place. The man lying in the coffin garnered no friends of this small community of Loudon in Tennessee. The Smokey Mountains were seen in the distance just above the green sea of trees. I took a deep breath while at the same time asking myself why I had come. He couldn’t hurt me anymore. I had tried to block out the dark memories he imprinted in my mind. All the beatings were like a foggy dream reserved for someone else to Summer’s End
tell the tale. I survived, but why me? The two bullets that entered my body on the fateful day remain as scars, haunting my very soul. I can rarely look at myself in a mirror, as I see him standing behind me, smirking. Can the image left behind in this town change? I don’t know, but now that my father is gone, perhaps it can start to forget the murderous outburst of his drunken state. He wasn’t always like that, but what does it matter? His actions blot out any recourse for healing after he killed my mother and sister and then came after me. He only shot himself when he thought I was dead.
Zoey Druckenmiller The parking lot was empty, save for a cluster of vehicles on the far end. She stood between the cars and the woods, and sized up the small, isolated restaurant. She shifted her backpack further up on her shoulder, and took a deep breath. The air was thick with the moisture from last night’s rain, and once the sun came out it would be hard to find relief from the humidity. The sign on the walk said “Closed”, but she could see people hustling around inside, dressing tables with crisp white linen cloths, laying silver place settings, and arranging chairs. She ran a hand through her hair, and 37
popped a tic-tac in her mouth. Using a car window as a mirror, she tucked her shirt in, then untucked it. Weeks of living out of a knapsack had left her clothing rumpled, and only marginally clean. She smoothed the shirt as best she could, then opened her bag and dug around for the lipstick she had shoplifted a few days before. She looked at her reflection, and decided this was as close to presentable as she was going to get. Ducking back into the woods, she stashed her bag under the roots of a tall tree, then made her way across the lot, skirting the puddles as best she could. A few summers ago, in another town- another life it sometimes seemed—this was the kind of place she would have come for Sunday brunch with her parents. She would have been asking for refills on iced tea, instead of for a job washing dishes and sweeping floors. But that was then, and everything had changed. So she steadied her hands, breathed in deep, and walked inside.
Terra Fick I feel like this picture belongs at the end of the story... Husband and wife stood together, hand in hand, breathing in the cool mist of early morning fog. The first three months of marriage had changed them so completely, it seemed impossible to understand how 38
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their small sleepy town could continue with life as usual. Feeling the sun burn up the remaining mist, she let go of his hand. “Let’s go say goodbye.”
Tracy Bradshaw Everyone who sees this picture asks me why I even took it. It was a coffin shop after all, where people bought for the dead. Where I had been sitting was a doctor’s office in the building two doors away, in the same parking lot, watching our adopted daughter, Chelsea, asleep in the chair beside me. We adopted her when she was two. She’s been a blessing. I supposed it is an odd picture, but I had been sitting in the waiting room with my heart pounding and my mind racing for nearly an hour. I remember staring at the closed sign and playing with my camera phone just to keep from the need to pace. So I took this photo. My wife Julia and I have been married The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
for twelve years now and we’d been trying to have a baby for seven of those years. So far, we’ve been unsuccessful. When the doctor told us that we had a very slim chance of conceiving a child, Julia cried for days. I remember feeling helpless and like such a failure. I wanted so much to give her what she wanted, what I wanted. I remember her telling me once, long before we were married, how much she wanted a big family. I knew I would want that with her too, anything for my Julia. When she told me about the car accident, she had no clue that it would affect her future, of her ability to conceive and carry a baby. The scarring left behind afterward had turned out to be our biggest obstacle. Julia refused to give up; she still wanted to have a baby. To know what it was like to feel the child growing inside of her. She’d talked about it plenty of times. We had tried everything, medication, exercises that my wife heard could work, though she wasn’t positive about those, artificial insemination… Just about anything we could come up with. Nothing seemed to work and every time, Julia would cry. I hated seeing her cry. As I sit here looking at the picture I took that day, I can’t help but smile. Julia had felt sick that week, thinking that she was getting the flu. It was when it didn’t seem to go away that she made the doctor’s apSummer’s End
pointment. We had to take Chelsea with us, so I stayed in the waiting room. The news that day was a miracle. After years of trying, years of being let down by all the doctors tried to do. It wasn’t until we stopped trying and was happy with our little girl that it happened. We were pregnant, and suddenly I was terrified. I wasn’t terrified because I was afraid of being a father, though that happened when we adopted Chelsea too. I was terrified that we’d lose this one too; that Julia would have her heart broken yet again. The miracle was that we didn’t lose the baby. My wife took precaution, took care of herself and had frequent doctor visits. He’s healthy, strong and he has a big sister that seems to be overprotective. Now that I look back on that day two years ago, I find that I love this photograph. It’s the first page in Michaels’ baby book. So when someone asks me why I have a photo of a coffin shop parking lot, I tell them it was the day we celebrated a new life.
Sam Kelly Mandy ran down the street, rain trickling from weighed down leaves to her head. She was grateful for the cover of intertwining branches. It shield her from the deluge pelting the open. As she turned a corner, she paused, 39
hesitant. What if it wasn’t there? What if he was gone? She would just have to push forward and let fate take it’s course. Her New Balance gym shoes slushed each step she took. They were sponges. More importantly, they were slowing her down. Mandy contemplated taking them off. Her feet were already soaked to the bone. But if she took them off, she might splinter herself. She sighed. The weather forecast had not called for rain that morning. A pale blue motor vehicle sputtered past her, water gently splashing from its tires like strong but fleeting wings. Mandy merely looked forward. Her run, which had become a jog after time, began to spiral into a sprint. Perhaps she could catch him as he was leaving. Perhaps she could tell him that she was wrong and that it wasn’t too late. A robin splashed through a small puddle. Crazy birds, robins. They enjoyed the rain. They didn’t mind getting wet. It was like a bath to them. Mild and cleansing. But to Mandy, it was an extra burden. She saw the lot on the other side of the road. Cars zoomed past in a hurry. They had families to get home to, fires to sit in front of, dinners to eat, children to tuck into bed. Mandy wished she had taken her car. Ignoring her better judgment, she darted into the street, a black minivan swerved to the right to avoid hitting her. She leaped 40
past a gray Saturn and landed on a puddle in the other side of the road. It exploded like a time bomb, rocketing water everywhere. Including all over Mandy. She frowned. Her hair was now soaked and her clothing resembled ice cubes. Teeth chattering, she dashed to the entrance of the lot. Almost all of the cars were vacant. She didn’t know what his car looked like. She didn’t know what he looked like. She only knew the velvety yet thin sound of his voice. The coffee shop where he worked was the second to last store. She politely sidestepped past a man locking up his bookstore for the night. A startled pigeon scattered as Mandy approached the café. A looming sign stood in front of it. CLOSED, it read. RELOCATED TO 3100 WEST LINK DRIVE. Mandy fell open the step, burying her head in her hands. He was gone. He was gone. He was gone. There was nothing more Mandy could say. So she went home. As Mandy walked up to her apartment, there was a book covered in newspaper at her doorstep. As she carefully unwrapped it, being sure not to get it wet, Mandy realized it was a book on tape. A Post-it note was inscribed in a scribbled font. I left this for you, it said. I had to go but at least you will have this. Could it be? Mandy rummaged through her bag, finding a worn out pair of earbuds. Inserting them in the The Inspired Artist Studio August 2012.
headphone jack, Mandy pressed play. And what she heard, she couldn’t believe.
T’Face Walrus Topsy She followed the directions she’d been given, they led her through the drizzel to a parking lot, it was in an older part of town. As she drove in she took note of the expensive SUVs in the parking lot, the gardens leading up to the tennis court, and the pillared stairway leading to the front door. The one concession to modern comercialism being the sandwich board situated strategically beside the stairway. Driving a slow loop around the lot Cindy realised that not only was this place in a rich area of town, it was the hub of it. The sandwich board outlined what meetings the mens club was having this week.
There is no way she’d be able to follow her target in there. Chances are the business that her client had asked her to observe and report on would happen behind these closed and ivy draped doors. Cindy turned her mind to ways to get into the building. She’d have to walk, her old beat up car was just a mite too obvious in this lot. On her way out of the lot she snapped pictures of the licence plates. At least she could report on who her target met. And you never know, maybe her contacts in the escort agencies could get her in to observe future meetings .... Not that she relished that idea, but a girl’s gotta eat you know!
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Volume 1, Issue 3, August 2012