MEET STACEY RANDOL: Get a ‘Backstage Pass’ and delight your ears with lounge jams Oct./Nov. 2011
Plug in to your creative outlet
NaNoWriMo The race is on!
— Outlining in October — Writing in November — Who has won and how — And an interview with published WriMoer Suzanne Lazear.
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ON THE COVER: NaNoWriMo
[Out] Of Sight:
Urban Decay The [Out] Of Sight feature highlights a photographer and photo essay. John Iwasz shares his photo essay ‘Urban Decay.’
 1,000 Words With[out] Grammar
Seven artists share their photography and paintings in Outlet’s regular art gallery.
 Film Flammers
High school chemistry teacher and movie critic extraordinaire Siobhan Julian examines the process of writing in film.
The NaNoWriMo Winner’s Circle
Q&A with tips, techniques and anecdotes from three frequent WriMoers.
A 31-Day Planning Process
Start preparing your NaNoWriMo novel in October with these day-by-day outlining and brainstorming techniques.
 A 30-Day Writing Process
The race is on! Follow this daily word count calendar with additional pointers to keep you on track toward 50,000 words.
 Na‘No’WriMo Turns into a Yes
Steampunk author Suzanne Lazear used NaNoWriMo to finish her novel — and now she’s on the road to publication.
Thoughts to chew on
Of Airships and Metal Men
Isn’t It Romantic?
Would zombies like fast food or not? Resident zombie aficionado Angie Barry examines the evolution of the walking dead in films.
A steampunk serial novel by Outlet senior staff writers Colleen Toliver and Angie Barry.
Fiction by Stephanie Rabig
 [Out] Of Sight
2 | Inside Outlet
Fiction by Gabriela Santiago
A reader asks about the guidelines written in the U.S. Copyright Office’s fair use doctrine. Another reader asks what and how to submit to Outlet Magazine.
Poetry by Ira Potter
 Suzanne Lazear
Art/cartoon by Ian Emser
IN EACH ISSUE:
Fiction by Zach Applebee, Katrina Lynn and Joshua Patterson
[Let] Me Tell You
 Debut of Outlet Magazine’s serial novel, Of Airships and Metal Men, in this issue! See pages 46-50 for chapter one.
More Online lll www.outletmagazine.org Check for updates, submissions guidelines and the newest issue of Outlet Magazine.
 On Our Radar Stacey Randol
Also be sure to check out our Backstage Feature and listen to the latest music featured in Outlet Magazine.
On Our Radar
Editor’s desk | 3
Editor’s Note Julie Stroebel
Editor-in-Chief Julie Stroebel Associate Editor Derek Barichello Creative Director Sarah Doremus Submissions Director/ Senior Staff Writer Colleen Toliver Marketing Director/ Senior Staff Writer Angie Barry Resident Illustrator Hannah Jackson
Queries: editor.in.chief@ outletmagazine.org Submissions: submissions@ outletmagazine.org
Outlet Magazine is a free publication. All copyrights remain with the creators of work included in this magazine. Outlet Magazine is not a copyright holder of the original work submitted to this publication and cannot grant rights for reproduction. To request permission to reproduce content, contact the original creator. Outlet Magazine’s mission is to serve as a creative outlet where writers and artists can build an audience and network and distribute their work.
Published in the United States
The Outlet Magazine business model is enough to make any entrepreneur cringe. Our mission at OM is not to make money. Nor is it to save time for ourselves or prevent ourselves from getting gray hairs (which is a lucky thing, because the road to launching Outlet left us in short supply of the former and high supply of the latter). Our goal is simple: We want to showcase beginning or lesser-known creators to share their talent and work with the masses. We also want to build a network of creative people and help them find the resources and connections they need to be more successful in their endeavors. For that reason, OM is completely free. No subscriptions required, no charge for advertising space. Sadly, it also means no payment for the submissions we accept and publish. But we do our best to give our contributors the most exposure we can and help them lay a path to continue doing what they love. Let’s face it. The world would be a much happier place if everyone was doing what they loved. OM started as one of those “Wouldn’t it be great if ...” conversations between myself and four friends. How nice it would be, we thought, to have a professional creative outlet where people could share their work and establish a publishing history. The inevitable conclusion of the conversation was, “Why not go ahead and create that magazine ourselves?” With our entrepreneurial spirits, creative energy and total disregard for business sense in tow, the five of us — Derek Barichello, Angie Barry, Sarah Doremus, Colleen Toliver and I — set to work on the pilot issue you are now reading. But that’s enough about us. Let’s learn — and see, hear and read — more about all of you. After all, where would we be without you, the creators and readers who make this process worthwhile? This entire project is about being a place for creators to send their work and for an audience to check out the newest budding talent finding its way into the pages of Outlet. The following pages contain the works of some of the best and brightest creators who stumbled across OM and shared their work with us. Join our network of creators by emailing your work to submissions@ outletmagazine.org or check out our website at www.outletmagazine.org. To interact and network with other OM readers and the staff, become a fan of our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/OutletMagazine/170962216298621?ref=ts and join the conversation.
‘‘ 4 | [Let] Me Tell You
With NaNoWriMo around the corner, here are some encouraging words from the pros to keep your creativity on track.
Don’t worry, be crappy. Revolutionary means you ship and then test. … Lots of things made the first Mac in 1984 a piece of crap — but it was a revolutionary piece of crap.
— Guy Kawasaki
To avoid criticism
do nothing, be nothing.
Do not be critics, you people, I beg you. I was a critic and I wish I could take it all back because it came from a smelly and ignorant place in me, and spoke with a voice that was all rage and envy. Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one, and do not dismiss a person until you have met them.
Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.
There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. — Red Smith
— Olin Miller
A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. — Margaret Mead
— Adlai E. Stevenson
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. — Maya Angelou
Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people. — Leo Burnett
Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.
— Neil Gaiman
Shop Talk | 5 2.
Shop Talk: Products to help your creativity 3.
1. Fake Name Generator: For writers who need to introduce a new character but don’t want to break the flow of their writing to search for a name, this tool is ideal. It also works great for inspiring new combinations of first and last names. Users can generate names based on nationality, sex and ethnicity. The software is free and available online at www.fakenamegenerator.com. 2. Grammar Bytes!: Whether you are an established writer trying to remember rules about comma splices or an English student who needs to brush up on grammar rules before an exam, Grammar Bytes! is a tool tailor made for writers. The website includes a glossary, self-guided lessons and quizzes. The service is free and available
online at www.chompchomp.com. 3. Novel in 30 Days Worksheets: Writer’s Digest magazine is in the spirit of NaNoWriMo by offering free downloadable worksheets online at writersdigest. com/article/novel-in-30-days-2011 to help writers structure and write their novels in 30 days. Also available by following that link is the downloadable digital issue of Writer’s Digest’s “Write Your Novel in 30 Days” ($9.99) and the hardcover “Book In A Month” ($15.63). 4. Gangster Slang: For anyone who’s tackling a period piece involving noir-settings or disreputable characters in the twenties, this list may prove extremely helpful:
http://sginc31.narod.ru/humor/slang.htm. And even more 1920’s slang: http://local. aaca.org/bntc/slang/slang.htm. 5. CreateSpace: An online store that allows you to self-publish or professionally bind documents. CreateSpace is directly partnered with NaNoWriMo — once you’ve successfully finished a NaNo, you’re given a coupon for one free bound copy of your finished novel at CreateSpace. It’s also used by authors trying to break into the self-published market, and even by fans to collect and print copies of their favorite fanfics or movie reviews. The prices are relatively reasonable, and you’re able to design your covers and choose your layouts. www. createspace.com/.
6 | Plugged In
Check out these creative staff picks from Outlet Magazine. From books to music to art to movies, these are creative works the Outlet Magazine staff is plugged into and recommends to other creative people.
1. The Fountainhead — A novel by Ayn Rand. This is Outlet Magazine editor-in-chief Julie Stroebel’s favorite novel. Architect Howard Roark refuses to compromise his values — or his work. He reflects his values in his work and holds his designs in the highest esteem. This novel is for anyone who refuses to compromise creativity and for people who need to believe in themselves.
2. The Bicycle Thief — A film by Vittorio De Sica. Outlet Magazine associate editor Derek Barichello is a fan of this film. Few films capture the human condition more than Vittorio de Sica’s neorealist masterpiece “The Bicycle Thief.” It is a simple film that shows a father and his son in the dark despair of postwar depression Italy. In the final captivating scene, we see the vulnerability in humanity. 3. K’naan — hip hop artist Born in Somalia, K’naan is a refreshing voice on the hip hop scene. Writers can draw inspiration from his incredible storytelling in “Fatima” to his reflective “Take A Minute.” http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=AE-YaL0Y3bo
4. John Keats — an English Romantic poet Below is Stroebel’s favorite Keats poem: When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be
When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain, Before high piled books, in charact’ry, Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain; When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face, Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance, And think that I may never live to trace Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance; And when I feel, fair creature of an hour! That I shall never look upon thee more, Never have relish in the faery power Of unreflecting love!—then on the shore Of the wide world I stand alone, and think Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.
On Our Radar | 7
[Prison Window] Standing in this cell, I could imagine the grim loneliness faced by the thieves and murderers that were locked away awaiting trial or a hanging. â€” John Iwasz
[Out] Of Sight | 9
[Eastern State Penn Hallway]
Urban Decay A
by John Iwasz
s a boy, I had an inherent fascination with caves. Exploring the unknown and forbidden was irresistible to my
young self. Sadly, there were no caves. Growing up in the 80’s in Northeast Philadelphia didn’t offer much in the way of unexplored territory. This part of the city is a concrete expanse of strip malls and brick houses with a repetitive, monotonous sameness. Nonetheless, my friends and I found plenty of opportunity to worry our parents and scrape our knees. A bunch of us would explore a local drainage tunnel in Pennypack Park, only two blocks from my childhood home. We were attracted to a foreboding and repetitive echo. Finding and facing the source of that sound would be a fine test of our mettle. We had recently seen John Carpenter’s The Thing. Speculation fueled the fear we all felt but couldn’t admit to each other. Mutant, monster or alien, we were going to find out. Back then, we were small enough to fit and managed to get to the first manhole cover. Turns out, it was the sound of the cars passing overhead. We were sorely disappointed with such a mundane explanation. I suppose that was my first urban exploration experience long before there was a term for it. Fast forward a few years later and in high school we simply couldn’t fit in the drainage tunnel. There was a new and foreboding challenge. The Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry was a psychiatric hospital with a sprawling complex that included an underground passages and a morgue.
You can’t discuss urban exploration and Philadelphia without mentioning Eastern State Penitentiary. This prison operated from 1829 to 1971 and is regarded as the first modern prison. It is open to the public and maintained as a preserved ruin. Extensive water damage has taken its toll, as evidenced by the plant life below. I was drawn in by the juxtaposition between gloom and regrowth.
10 | [Out] Of Sight Locally, it was known simply as “Byberry.” When it closed in the late 80’s, it proved an irresistible attraction to teenagers and derelicts alike. An enormous abandoned asylum for the criminally insane was just too much to pass up. A small group of friends and I spent several days winding in and out of the tunnels searching for the fabled morgue. One rainy day we went in with ponchos when we found an old dented toolbox that wouldn’t open. Surely, it had to have implements of destruction or even a body part, if we were lucky. We carried it up to the third floor of one of the larger buildings, hoping to open it with a three-story drop. Three younger boys were exploring on their own and didn’t see us right away. My friend took opportunity and dropped the toolbox to a loud, resounding echo. He raised his arms. The poncho draped around him like a cloak and he yelled, “I am the beast from within!” sending the boys scrambling for their lives. There were already rumors of devil worshippers at the asylum, and I’m sure we became the inspiration for a few more. Years later, in 2006, Byberry was torn down to make way for a housing development. It wasn’t done at once. Given the size and scale of the place, it had to be tackled one building at a time. It gave me opportunity to get into the complex and take a few photos before it was demolished. It was the first time I had documented any of these exploits and really my first chance to do so. I was just getting interested in photography with the advent of good consumer cameras back in 2005. I didn’t set out to collect a series of urban decay photos. Rather, it grew organically. The photos in this collection are largely from Philadelphia and the local area with a few from across the country. I’ve been on the road many times for both business and pleasure, taking me up and down the East Coast and out to Austin, Texas, for seven months. Not every trip or outing involved a modern ruin, but when I did come across one that attracted my interest I was sure to capture it. The decay creates chaotic colors and patterns not normally found in our typical daily ramblings. I hope these photos do it justice.
[Cell 4] While on a project in Austin, Texas, the flights back and forth would take so long that I opted to stay in Austin most weekends. I didn’t see home for a few months, but I did get a chance to cruise around a fun city and the surrounding area. This photo (below) was taken at the prison museum in Bellville, Texas.
[Byberry Hallway] This was one of the Byberry hallways interconnecting the 40 some-odd buildings. The wind was strong that day. You can see the debris blown in through the windows. (at right) The place was as creepy as it looks here. Note the green and yellow paint on the hallway that was most likely applied when it was last renovated in the 70s.
Photo essay | x
12 | [Out] Of Sight
[Peeling God] This photo was taken at the historic Divine Lorraine Hotel at Broad and Fairmount in North Philadelphia. In the late 40s in was one of the first racially integrated hotels and served as a place of worship. It is not currently open to the public. I was notified of a one-day opportunity to photograph it through a Philadelphia photo meet-up group. At the time it was being converted for use as condos, but that project has come to a halt and it stands empty and boarded.
[Pipe Decay] I love the details and colors in this rusty pipe on the beach in Cape May, N.J.
[Outdoor Living Room] Taken in Centralia, PA, where an underground coal fire started in the early 60s still burns. Today, itâ€™s a ghost town. Most of the homes have been demolished or have fallen into disrepair. Itâ€™s a study in how nature reclaims our ruins. The town now looks like a field with cracked roads running throughout.
[Out] Of Sight | 13
x | Photo essay
[Baker Island] I thought it would be fitting to end the set with a graveyard, but not just any graveyard. This is Baker Island in Acadia National Park. These headstones mark the final resting places of one of the light keepers and his family.
Photo essay | x
A picture is worth 1,000 silent words without sentence structure or grammar. Artists and photographers express themselves through pastels and paints, photographs and sculptures, sketches and doodles. The following pages contain the expressions of seven artists as they tell (without a sound) of the people, places and things in their lives and the world around them.
Bleeding Mascara Taken with Nikon D5000 ISO 100 F/4.5 30mm All natural lighting Model is Amber Furbee Sean P Jones
18 | 1,000 Words With[out] Grammar
1,000 Words With[out] Grammar | 19
Rough Seas Watercolor portrait of a young man by the sea. Hannah Jackson
At left: The Atom Taken with Nikon D5000 HDR from 3 raw; ISO 400; F/3.5; 18mm Sean P Jones Below: The Bomb Taken with Nikon D5000 HDR from 3 raw; ISO 100; F/3.5; 8mm Fisheye Model: Blair Atom of Art Bomb Tattoos in Massillon, OH Sean P Jones Facing Page: The Lookout Taken with Nikon D5000 HDR from 3 raw; ISO 300; F/3.5 Model is Matt Hunyadi
20 | 1,000 Words With[out] Grammar Facing page: The Effects of a Sweet Nature Watercolor illustration for the fairy tale “Diamonds and Toads,” by Charles Perrault, in which a maiden is enchanted so that a flower or a jewel falls out of her mouth each time she speaks. Hannah Jackson
Above: Letter Lover Watercolor illustration for the Illustration Friday theme “Mail.” Hannah Jackson
At right: Untitled Genevieve Franco
1,000 Words With[out] Grammar | 21
22 x || 1,000 1,000Words WordsWith[out] With[out]Grammar Grammar
Glacier Upsala This is Glacier Upsala, located in Parque Nacional de los Glaciares, Patagonia Argentina, Provincia de Santa Cruz. This photo was taken during a boat trip to see the glaciers in Patagonia, Argentina. SONY DSC-W170 10/10000 second; F/8.0; 5 mm; ISO 100 Rafael Tonani
1,000 1,000Words WordsWith[out] With[out]Grammar Grammar || 23 x
24 | 1,000 Words With[out] Grammar
Below: El Chalten This is the view from a bus stop between El Calafate and El Chalten, Argentina. Seen in the photo is El Chalten. SONY DSC-W170 10/1600 second; F/13.0; 23 mm; ISO 100 Rafael Tonani
Lower left: Cerro Torre This is Cerro Torre, located inside Parque Nacinonal de los Glaciares, in Patagonia, Argentina. SONY DSC-W170 10/4000 second; F/11.0; 16 mm; ISO 100. Rafael Tonani
Above: Olympic Park Atlanta Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi 100/20000 second; F/10.0; 27 mm; ISO200; Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.0 Windows Joanna Mirage
1,000 Words With[out] Grammar | 25
Untitled Genevieve Franco
Things Honeybee Stephanie Rabig
Red Rose Stephanie Rabig
26 | Film
by Siobhan Julian
The process of writing in film CAPOTE, 2005, directed by Bennett Miller, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Clifton Collins Jr., Catherine Keener It’s easy to compile a list of movies that feature a character who is a writer. A list could include: l The Philadelphia Story, 1940 – Jimmy Stewart is a writer. l Sunset Boulevard, 1954 – William Holden is a writer. l It Happened One Night, 1934, Clark Gable. l Roman Holiday, 1953, Gregory Peck. l The Lost Weekend, 1945, Ray Milland. However, none of these films are about writing. The writing process is completely secondary, if not nonexistent. Honestly, does anyone believe that Sunset Boulevard is about the process of writing? Films that deal with the craftsmanship of writing, usually written by a brave screenwriter who dares to turn the camera back on themselves, are relatively rare. Cinematically speaking, there’s little wonder why — writing, as an art form, does not lend itself to high entertainment. Come kids, let’s watch a man peck at a typewriter for three hours! However, when looking at the overall creative process, writing as a process has great potential: dramatic — and comedic — depth. One film that deals very emotionally and dramatically with one writer’s creative process is Capote, showing how Truman Capote’s most renowned work, “In Cold Blood,” was crafted. In a search for the topic of his next work, Truman Capote (played in an Oscar-winning performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman) is drawn to a small news article about a brutal murder of a family of four in rural Kansas. He travels there to interview everyone and anyone remotely connected with the case, and becomes particularly taken with Perry Smith, one of the two men accused of the killing. His emotional attachment to both Smith and his next written piece — a nonfiction novel, he calls it — is ultimately his downfall.
At first, as a writer, Capote is inspired. Things happen quickly; it is a matter of moments between when Capote reads the news article and makes the decision to focus his next piece on this killing. He goes to Kansas, meets the police chief, has dinner with him and interviews the girl who discovered the body. His research is going well. Things become much more involved when Perry Smith is introduced. In a telling cinematic shot of the first real conversation between Capote and Perry from the latter’s jail cell, it is Capote who is photographed behind bars, indicative of the imbroglio in which he is entangling himself. The real meat of the emotional commitment required to write is in the second half of the film. Initially, the two killers are convicted and sentenced to be killed in six weeks. It looks as though Capote will have a story that would have wrapped up in half a year. Then Capote starts to talk with Perry Smith. Theirs is a relationship that is fraught with contradictions, and it makes writing the piece much more complicated for Capote. Capote is genuinely taken with Smith; he says to his friend Harper Lee, “It’s as if Perry and I both grew up in the same house. And one day he stood up and went out the back door while I went out the front.” We, as an audience, believe wholeheartedly that Capote has a deep affection for Smith. The flip side of the coin is Capote’s cold hearted manipulation of Smith to get out of him what he wants — a story for his novel.
Capote lies repeatedly to Smith, most often about what the title of the book will be. Smith is seeking some sort of redemption, to be immortalized, sympathized, regaled as a misunderstood outcast rather than a murderer, and sees Capote as his opportunity to get this across. Capote, for his part, coddles this image Smith has built for himself while coolly going about writing exactly the story he intended to. Capote is unrepentant in his quest for the story of how Perry murdered a family of four. Due to Capote’s increasing narcissism, the line between the written work and the actual life of Perry Smith becomes blurry to the point of nonexistence, which is the crux of the writing issue in Capote. Through his offer to find a lawyer for the killer after their initial sentencing, Capote exerts a degree of control over the situation. By becoming involved in Perry’s execution appeals, he is taking Perry’s life in his hands. And yet, Capote knows that his piece must have an end. The only way the book can end is Perry’s execution. Devastatingly, Capote refuses Smith’s late appeal for a new lawyer, thus exerting his control again. What Hoffman portrays so brilliantly as a writer is his absolute awareness of this battle. Capote knows what he is doing. He is no idiot. He knows that if he refuses Smith’s request for a new lawyer, the appeal will be denied and the execution will take place. And yet, the book MUST have an end. Capote acknowledges this conflict, and ultimately makes a decision.
Film | 27
One-on-one Unfortunately for Capote the writer, the decision he makes, although allowing him to finish his book, winds up torturing him and destroying, in many ways, his ability to write in the future — Capote would not finish another book in his lifetime. A person he had a real affinity for is now dead, and he had a part to play in that. He made a decision to finish his book, and that decision had profound
consequences. Hoffman more than deserved his Oscar for his illustration of this battle, rather than his superficial Truman Capote impersonation. n SIOBHAN JULIAN is a high school chemistry teacher by day and a film and classical music lover by night. You can find more of her film reviews written under the handle siochembio at http://film-flammers.livejournal.com.
Other recommendations: l Stranger than Fiction, 2006, directed by Marc Forster, starring Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman As much of a downer cautionary tale that Capote is to writers, Stranger than Fiction presents almost the identical struggle, but with a positive twist. Will Ferrell is an astonishingly average human being who wakes up one morning and starts hearing voices. As it turns out, he is a character in Emma Thompson’s new novel. When Thompson realizes her character is an actual person, she faces the struggle of weighing what is good for her novel versus what is good for the real life person.
Worried your work may not be ready for publication? Outlet Magazine offers one-on-one online workshopping of submitted stories to help writers prepare them for publication in Outlet.
l All the President’s Men, 1976, directed by Alan J. Pakula, starring Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford One of the absolute best journalism films ever made, All the President’s Men is a riveting tale of Woodward and Bernstein breaking the story of the Watergate scandal. Given that this film was made so closely on the heels of the actual scandal, it is incredibly courageous in its narrative of recent damage to the American psyche. The power of the press to document a conspiracy as far reaching as the American president set a new precedent, and Hoffman and Redford are stellar as journalists who took on such a daunting task. l Ace in the Hole, 1951, directed by Billy Wilder, starring Kirk Douglas Talk about journalism gone bad! A down-on-his-luck reporter desperate to get back on top comes across a man trapped underground. Seeing this human interest story as his way out, he manages to convince those helping in the man’s escape to take their time so he can whip up a national frenzy. Naturally, things only go downhill in this surprisingly cynical Billy Wilder film. l The Shining, 1980, directed by Stanley Kubrick, starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall The ultimate film about writer’s block. Jack Nicholson, in arguably his most iconic film role, is a frustrated writer who signs him and his family up to be the winter caretakers for a remote mountain resort. When the snows come and trap everyone indoors, cabin fever, combined with the intense frustration of writer’s block, make Jack a dull boy. Stanley Kubrick’s direction is flawless in this classic horror film.
28 | Film
Thoughts To Chew On Would zombies like fast food or not?
by Angie Barry
here used to be so many certainties in the horror universe. Vampires could be sexy, but were always killers. The first teen couple to have sex would surely be the first to die at the hands of the faceless serial killer. And zombies could only stagger after you, arms held out as if begging for a nice hug. Then Twilight came along, effectively muzzling vampires with the added indignity of making them sparkle. Even virgins die in today’s slasher flicks. And now zombies don’t simply stagger and moan—they sprint after you like an Olympic medalist with a dangerous case of the munchies. Now, don’t get me wrong. I accept that things change and evolve, sometimes for the better.
But there are some things that shouldn’t be messed with—it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!—and some truths that should be held self-evident. While I could go on at great lengths about the necessity to reshape modern vampires into the bloodthirsty (ooh, the first pun; how momentous!) monsters of old, and why throwing all of the rules of the slasher’s handbook out the window may not be the wisest course of action, what I really want to rant about today are the changes to the monster that is nearest and dearest to my heart: the zombie.
Most everybody knows what a zombie is, but here’s the definition I’ve always stood by: a zombie is a being that was once an emotionally and mentally capable human who has been reduced to an instinctual creature of little awareness or sensation. A zombie has no memory, no conscience, no driving purpose other than to consume. And, sadly for us, what a zombie likes best isn’t a hamburger or nice basket of fish ‘n chips. Nope, the only thing a zombie has eyes for is us. The concept of the zombie has been around for over a
Film | 29 hundred years, and its origins are murky, rooted in the Vodun religion and mythology of Haiti and the Caribbean. But it wasn’t until 1968 that the zombie became a potent and viable monster of the silver screen, thanks to a young filmmaker based in Pennsylvania. George A. Romero has become synonymous with the living dead, but in the late sixties he just wanted to make a film with some friends— and hopefully make a little money in the process. They decided to make a horror film not because they were particularly interested in the genre, but because it would be the easiest and cheapest thing to do, and the kind of movie that would help them recoup their investments. Bless the movie gods for this decision, because out of this tiny
If you’re careful, if you keep your wits about you, you can stave them off, even outstrip them — much as we strive to outstrip death. Drink less, cut out red meat, exercise, practice safe sex; these are our shotguns, our cricket bats, our farmhouses, our shopping malls. However, none of these things fully insulates us from the creeping dread that something so witless, so elemental may yet catch us unawares — the drunk driver, the cancer sleeping in the double helix, the legless ghoul dragging itself through the darkness towards our ankles. For nearly four decades, Romero’s zombies were the
The real horror lay not in a single zombie, but in a horde of them. It’s not nearly as easy to avoid them when there’s a hundred surrounding you, blocking off every exit. And therein lies the potent beauty of Romero’s zombie: they are perhaps the most poignant symbol of death. project-that-could came Night of the Living Dead, a classic by nearly every standard. The movie became an underground hit almost immediately, stunning the world with its bleak tone and unflinching portrayal of society’s collapse at the grasping, hungry hands of a monster that looked just like the next door neighbor. The zombies in Night of the Living Dead — though they were never actually called zombies in the film — made Hollywood stand up and take note. Outwardly, they were somewhat ridiculous; slow-moving and uncoordinated, it was relatively easy to outpace one, or knock it over, and make for the safety of a nearby house. But the real horror lay not in a single zombie, but in a horde of them. It’s not nearly as easy to avoid them when there’s a hundred surrounding you, blocking off every exit. And therein lies the potent beauty of Romero’s zombie: they are perhaps the most poignant symbol of death. You can outrun them—for a time. But eventually you must pause for breath. As Simon Pegg, the brilliant actor who played the titular character in Shaun of the Dead, has pointed out:
template for every zombie movie. Not even the Italians or Spanish messed with the winning formula, recognizing how powerful a slow-moving, blank-faced zombie could be, using them as an empty canvas onto which they could project a number of societal issues. All the while, the slow and steady approach of an inexorable death remained one of the most chilling aspects of the zombie. The chase was almost more terrifying than the capture, with many directors highlighting the tension of such sequences. But then, 28 Days Later, the rules suddenly changed. Zombies no longer moaned pathetically, stumbling over simple obstacles and crawling towards you with stupid, blind determination. Now they shrieked like howler monkeys, sprinting towards you as if some crack-powered junkie in desperate need of a fix. Gone was the subtlety, the poignancy, and the steady build-up of suspense. And it no longer mattered how fit you were, because these zombies were twice as fast and would run through fire to catch you. Danny Boyle (yes, Oscar-winning Danny Boyle) is credited with introducing the world to the ‘zombie on speed’, with his
30 | Film critically acclaimed box-office hit 28 Days Later. While many purists argue that 28 Days should not be considered a zombie film—Boyle’s Infected are alive rather than undead, driven madly violent by the Rage virus—the raving cannibals in the film hold more than enough in common with zombies to justify the frequent classification. In the wake of 28 Days’ success, it seemed as though every filmmaker wanted to cash in on the fast zombie craze. There was a frentic (and rather unnecessary) remake of Romero’s classic Dawn of the Dead by James Gunn, and the Resident Evil series, with its mutated hybrids and genetically enhanced undead, became rather speedy as well. The reasons for this shift are varied. Obviously, fast zombies lend themselves to a different kind of storytelling and movie-making. Romero always enjoyed letting his stories unfold at a leisurely, even mind-numbing pace, the meat of the story taking place in quieter moments of introspection that would be rudely interrupted by violent carnage. His slower pacing was important, allowing the audience to feel just how stressful and yet boring it would be to try to wait out an unending zombie apocalypse. In the early zombie films, it’s the tension, the build-up, and the time spent simmering in
Audiences no longer wanted to think too much during their horror films, and had no interest in developing connections with the characters. They paid the ticket prices to see pretty people ripped to pieces, dramatic splashes of blood, and heart-thumping action sequences set to loud music.
Angie B.’s Zombie Flick Picks Angie’s top 10 zombie film favorites are: l Dawn of the Dead (1978) l Shaun of the Dead l Zombieland l Fido l 28 Days Later l Braindead (also known as Dead Alive) l Planet Terror l Day of the Dead (1985) l I Walked With the Zombie l Return of the Living Dead
self-loathing and hopelessness that carry the movie along. Boyle, Gunn, and the new breed of filmmakers preferred to stress the action sequences and visceral terror that takes you completely by surprise. They catered to an entirely different audience, the so-called ‘MTV Generation,’ which had grown up on a steady diet of hyper-edited music videos, Mountain Dew, and rap. For the new horror filmgoers caught up in a faster-paced modern lifestyle, everything must be at a breakneck speed, from transportation to the Internet to movies. To slow down, to devote genuine time for reflection, was now seen as something unusual, boring, or even lazy. People lived their lives scheduled to the minute, by class periods and business meetings and bus timetables. And the Internet, wire-free and high speed, only increased this ADD-infused lifestyle further with instant news releases and sites like Twitter and Tumblr. Audiences no longer wanted to think too much during their horror films, and had no interest in developing connections with the characters. They paid the ticket prices to see pretty people ripped to pieces, dramatic splashes of blood, and heart-thumping action sequences set to loud music. While faster zombies make for more action, quicker edits, and lend themselves well to pounding rock music montages and abrupt shocks, there will always be those who uphold the ‘old ways.’ Slow zombies are far from dead and buried. For every Zombieland, with Infected zombies that ensure the survivors have to be light on their feet and quick with their wits to stay ahead of their sprinting pursuers, there’s a Shaun of the Dead, where the undead shuffle so slowly the heroes have time to sort through projectiles whilst arguing over Dire Straights and Sade. So while many purists may despair over the ‘implausibility’ of seeing creatures just past rigor mortis able to outpace the fittest runners, it’s hardly as if the new breed of zombies have completely trampled over their predecessors. As with all entertainment, it ultimately comes down to a matter of taste. The slow and steady, with its hallowed lineage and more leisurely storytelling, is certainly worth a gander. Slower zombies will always allow filmmakers more time to craft characters and deliver their societal or political commentary. And while fast zombies have sacrificed character development or tension for short-term shocks, their films still have plenty to offer a horror or gorehound connoisseur. For some, the slow and steady approach of death isn’t half as terrifying or memorable as a blitz attack through a window, punctuated by high-pitched shrieks and roars of anger. For my money, however, I think it pays to stick with the masters. George A. Romero knew what he was doing back in 1968. Seeing those hungry ‘neighbors’ the first time as they leisurely ripped into the barbequed bits of Tom and his pretty girlfriend Judy felt pretty close to horror perfection—and why mess with perfection? n ANGIE BARRY is a senior staff writer for Outlet Magazine and
On the cover | 33
Winner’s Circle by Julie Stroebel
Three writers. Three experiences. Three (very) different approaches to the annual writer’s marathon. Veteran National Novel Writing Month (best known as NaNoWriMo) participants Leah Bartels, Katharine Keladryie* and Stefanie Brawner sat down with Outlet Magazine editor and writer Julie Stroebel to share their strategies, tips and thoughts about their annual monthlong writing tradition. Outlet: What is your writing method during November? Ten-minute spurts? Marathon sessions until reaching the daily word goal? Procrastinating and then pulling allnighters before deadline? Leah Bartels: During my successful attempt, I made sure to stick as closely as possible to the daily word goals — 1,667 words a day really isn’t that hard, but when you get daunted by the big 50k, it seems impossible. My little graph documenting my progess looked like a perfect staircase, barring the week of Thanksgiving where I fell behind and had to catch up on the train back to school. It’s really easy to feel intimidated by people who write 10k on the first day, or seem to be climbing higher and faster, but the first time I actually won NaNo was the year I ignored everyone else’s graph and remembered that it was my story, and the point was merely to tell it. In order to get out that daily count, I’d always try and set aside at least a solid hour and a half where I didn’t have to do anything else but write every day — even if that hour and a half wasn’t always at the same time. Ten- or 15-minute word wars with friends also helped. Any shorter and I couldn’t accomplish what I wanted; any longer and my attention would drift. Katharine Keladryie: I write whenever I feel like it, or have the time. Sometimes that’s at work, during my lunch break, after work, at midnight ... whenever, really. If I start a writing session, then I like to try to hit a goal of some kind —
*Last name changed upon request
1,667 words or half that, or something. If I’m going well, I still like to hit a goal — double the daily or some such, in case I have a bad day in the future. In 2010, I finished in the first week of November, and most years I finish midway through the month. Word wars do help though. I prefer 15 minutes, and I generally write over 1,000 words each stint. The ‘Write or Die’ app is also quite handy if I don’t have a friend nearby to challenge. Stefanie Brawner: My NaNoWriMo writing schedule usually involves forcing myself to sit still and turn off most distractions, then telling myself I’m going to write until I reach the daily word count. Mostly, this means I spent a couple hours alternating between doing the opposite of that and writing in bursts over the course of the day, which usually lets me make the 50k goal shortly before the end of the month. So it’s a little of all of the above: marathoning and writing in bursts and procrastinating like crazy. O: What do you do to prepare before the onset of NaNoWriMo? LB: I had an epic, sprawling outline and beat sheet for my entire story, that I spent all of October working on and obsessing over. I left a lot of breathing room for sudden bursts of inspiration, but nothing gave me more confidence going into November than knowing that I had a story, and not just characters. KK: Utterly nothing. I’m not a planner. I don’t even pick which plot or characters to work on generally. However, I like to pick a working title so I can fill in my NaNo profile. Though I suppose I may be more likely to finish a few non-related things, so I don’t have them bothering me during NaNo. SB: Before NaNoWriMo, I’m allowed to think about my
NaNo Talk With Lindsey Grant Below is an excerpt of a n interview with Lindsey Grant, NaNoWriMo program director. A full interview with Grant is available on the NaNoWriMo website at www.nanowrimo. org/eng/node/3610983 What advice do you have for people who are considering taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge? You literally only have everything to gain. Take 30 days of hilarity and a healthy dose of adventure, and you end up with a manuscript that you can go on to revise into a final draft of a novel. How would you describe the NaNoWriMo experience to someone who is unfamiliar with it? It’s a little bit crazy, it’s a lot of fun, and I think that anyone who ever does it is completely blown away by what they’re capable of writing in a month when they allow themselves to write whatever comes to mind. There’s no self-editing, no limitations on what’s written, there is only writing — and a lot of it! What do you say to people who ask you what’s the point of NaNoWriMo? One of my favorite quotes comes from The Sound of Music, when Maria says “Nothing comes from nothing.” Obvious and inescapable, right? People walk around with these things in their minds that they’re going to do one day, but if they never start, they’ll never finish. Because of NaNoWriMo, participants reach that ‘something’ that they can work with after only one month! These writers walk away with the rough draft of a novel — and in some cases, it is a novel they’ve been thinking about writing for years.
NaNoWriMo makes it possible not just to do it, but to do it well. So it seems like a lot of people are working towards publishing their novels. What is your take on that angle, and the 50+ novels that have been published as a result of NaNoWriMo? Any novel that is published goes through tremendous revision, but in order to revise something, you have to first write it. NaNoWriMo makes that happen — the actual “writing it” bit — for hundreds of thousands of people year after year. And I think one of the wonderful discoveries about NaNoWriMo is that the novels that come out of this experience are ideal for reshaping and revising. It makes so much sense that 55 or so people have taken what they’ve written and revised it into really great, readable, popular novels; there are hundreds of thousands of manuscripts out there that are ripe for revision and can become a published novels that a lot of people would really enjoy reading. What do you get for winning NaNoWriMo? First, there’s the manuscript that can then be revised into a final draft of a novel. That’s a wonderful reward all by itself. Winners also get a very snazzy PDF certificate, celebrating their accomplishment. These winners also become members of a creative community that is extremely supportive and unique in its diversity — and that will exist for years and years to come and remains available anytime a writer has ideas or questions or needs motivation or advice. All of it is 100 percent free ... and totally invaluable.
book, plan it out, work on the characters and outline as fully as I can, which mostly just means a loose list of notes I definitely want to hit in something like chronological order. I have a tendency to make playlists, too, full of music that’s appropriate to the story or mood so I don’t have another excuse to waste time playing with music or finding the right song during the month — even though I do that anyway. Before November, it’s mostly a process of trying to understand who the characters are as much as I can without writing them yet. O: How do you maintain your sanity? Assuming, of course, sanity is maintained. LB: I’ve never found sanity to be a common trait among writers, no matter what timeline they’re on. The thing that helped most was my “slow and steady wins the race” mentality. Get in your 1,667 and add a little buffer for insurance, but don’t go crazy and don’t get ahead of yourself. I also spent a lot of time reading the NaNo message boards. I rarely participated, though, unless it was to start a thread to answer a question I needed for my own story. Otherwise I’d have gotten sucked in. KK: Well, I’m mostly insane as it is, so I’ve never had an issue with this. Having a deadline doesn’t really spook me, unfortunately. I’m generally way ahead or I’m never going to meet it anyway — I don’t often just scrape in. SB: Oh, god, what is sanity? I don’t think I know that word. I think the main thing is recognizing that sometimes I need to take breaks and check my e-mail or even leave (instant messager) on but that something like Twitter needs to be closed down, finding that balance between not shutting myself off from the world and not being too available. And lots of tea and chocolate, which I mostly forget to drink or eat once I get in the zone — that helps, too. O: How many successful or unsuccessful NaNoWriMo attempts have you had? What kept you coming back each year? LB: I’d like to say I’ve had two successful NaNo attempts, but it really depends on how you measure it. The first year I tried it in 2008, I wrote a little novella just over 25k, which I completed. In 2010, I was much more prepared and had a much more involved story, and I managed to win but didn’t actually finish. My 50,000 words of a two-thirds-completed novel have sat unfinished, unedited and untouched on my hard drive ever since. There will always be excuses not to write. Excuses to write are much harder to come by, and NaNoWriMo is brilliant because it’s a planned,
On the cover | 35 coordinated institution built to make writing an absolute requirement in our day. We’re all used to saying things to ourselves like, “I can’t write, I have to be a responsible adult.” But for one month out of the year, we’re allowed to say, “I can’t be a responsible adult, I have to write.” And that’s both utterly freeing and completely addictive. KK: I’ve entered and won NaNoWriMo since 2004 and so far I haven’t had any unsuccessful attempts — unless you count this year’s new Camp NaNoWriMo. I keep going back because it gives me the excuse to write — all other times during the year I may have something “more important than writing” come along, and I’ll have to do that instead. Unfortunately, it’s a problem of mine that writing currently isn’t the most important thing in my life, though I do love it so much. I have a huge guilt conscience with other things that may not be around or have other deadlines. I need to work on that. SB: I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo most years since 2004, and I’ve only succeeded all of about three times, so I’ve got a 50-50 pass/fail rate. But the thing is, it isn’t really pass/fail — just
Excerpt Stefanie Brawner worked on a novel titled “Recombination” in 2010.
I keep going back because it gives me the excuse to write — all other times during the year I may have something “more important than writing” come along, and I’ll have to do that instead. having that month where I know thousands of other people are buckling down and committing themselves to the idea that what they have to say is worthwhile helps me focus. It feels like being a part of a community, and I think that can be a rare feeling for a writer. You know a lot of other writers, but you do what you do on your own, even when those other writers are also working, and in November, that isn’t true. You stop thinking you’re alone in this. Hundreds upon thousands of strangers have willingly thrown themselves into the same cramped boat without lifejackets.
O: What are the benefits of NaNoWriMo? The shortcomings? LB: The biggest benefit of NaNoWriMo is the fact that you have to write 50,000 words in 30 days. No ifs, ands, buts or Time-Turners. That kind of pressure, while stressful, is in turns motivating and inspiring. The biggest shortcoming? You have to write 50,000 words in 30 days. No ifs, ands, buts or Time-Turners. What are we, insane? KK: The benefits are being able to write with abandon. A lot of people, myself included, get disheartened with their writing (that it’s not good enough) even if it’s only a first draft. I look at my work and find it hard to continue if it’s not immediately up to par with a published book — I often look to Scott Lynch as what I hope to achieve. Which is silly. This kind of masterpiece only comes after many drafts, and to have a draft you have to actually finish something! Though I’m still silly to think I’ll be as good as the awesome that is Scott Lynch ... The shortcomings ... well, I don’t think there are any, if you go into NaNo with the right frame of mind. NaNo gets bad press because a few people immediately (self) publish their NaNo
“You know, I’m not you,” she said. “You stay in one place, you… you put your name on a building — or, no, well, you stay in the building with your name on it, your father’s name, his father’s name. You stay put. I move, Pearce. I’d say, ‘People like me, we keep moving,’ except there are no people like me. I keep moving. I have to keep moving or people have a funny way of catching on that something just isn’t right.” “I wasn’t blaming you.” “You didn’t have to.” “Abigail …” She got to her feet and stepped away, heels sinking into the carpet. She’d forgotten she was wearing them, forgotten the cold and the dress. “We need your help,” she said. “We don’t know the era. They don’t and it’s … maybe it’ll come back, maybe 1939’s like riding a bike, I don’t know, but it’s been a long time and I wasn’t here then. Now. It’s your city, not mine, and I’d like to be able to bring this kid home, Pearce. The girl in the next room, Felicia — she’s his girl. I don’t think she’ll leave without him.”
36 | On the cover Novel and anything without a few drafts and heavy editing is usually going to be terrible. That gets associated with NaNo, which makes a few professionals annoyed at the event, rather than the person putting their not-decent work out there. So I suppose that could be a shortcoming. Really, what you get out of NaNo is whatever you want it to be. SB: I don’t honestly think there are any shortcomings to the experience, once you learn to stop kicking yourself if you wind up not making it. Finishing the novel isn’t really the point, is it? It’s about having that month of freedom to turn that inner editor off and tell yourself what’s in your head is worth something. For amateur writers, hobbyists and people who wouldn’t write a novel any other way, it’s about that creative release. For me, somewhere in between wanting to be a writer but not yet published, it’s a good way to get the bare bones of a book on the page, and honestly, it makes me more disciplined than I usually am. O: What is the most rewarding part of the experience? LB: : The most rewarding part of the NaNo experience is no different from any other writing endeavor: You get to build new worlds and meet fascinating,
Excerpt Outlet Magazine editor Julie Stroebel worked on a novel titled “Watchdog” in 2010.
You get to build new worlds and meet fascinating, dynamic people who live in your head and never shut up — with the added benefit of a community of thousands of like-minded people going through the exact same thing at the exact same time. dynamic people who live in your head and never shut up — with the added benefit of a community of thousands of like-minded people going through the exact same thing at the exact same time. Writers are a rare, strange breed of human. In no other medium or profession are people at once so fiercely aggressive about the existence of their own talent, and so completely reluctant to take credit for what actually goes on in their heads. We’re a schizophrenic bunch, likely to
say things like “I wasn’t deciding that, that was all my character” or “I didn’t see that plot twist coming either; blame my muse!” We’re crazy. Just look at us. And while writing groups in towns and on campuses do exist, and a lot of us are lucky enough to have creative friends or a fandom community with whom we’re connected, NaNo is like this crazy flash mob community of intense focus, based around original fiction. It’s a rare commodity. SB: That moment when you cross the 50k finish line is exhilarating. Even if your story isn’t done, it’s still triumphant to have passed that goal and feel you’ve accomplished something. But it’s just as much the moments when you’re sitting at your computer or notebook or however you do and you realize you’re far past your word count for the day, that you just kept writing and writing. There’s a lot to be said for letting yourself get wrapped up in something you’re creating. O: What advice do you have for firsttime WriMoers? Or for those who have been unsuccessful in the past? LB: My advice is always the same, no matter how many times you’ve done this: Service your story, it’s not about winning. I see a lot of threads on the NaNo boards
She had avoided throat-clogging memories all day. But there it was. The ghost of the smell of Dial soap on Nick’s hands as he ran his fingers absently along her cheeks, their heads sharing a pillow, their bodies shaping a dual S as he hugged her from behind and she pressed her rump against his pelvis. There was that telltale shiver down her spine, the hundred goosebumps along neck and arms that the feel of his breath always brought as he rambled her to sleep. Every night he would talk about his stories, his works-in-progress, his sources. Other times he would fill her mind with babble of trips to the Newseum in Washington, D.C. or imaginings of what adventures they would go on with their children when they finally had one of their own. On and on he would ramble, until her responses were nothing more than “Mmm hmm” and finally gentle sleep murmurs. And when she’d awaken the next morning, he was already propped on an elbow and leaned over her face, that one-sided smile pushing his right cheek up to cause a blue-eyed squint. Every night, every morning. Not anymore.
On the cover | 37 about how to cheat and up your word count, and I’ll admit yes, I go out of my way to avoid contractions, and yes, I’ll change all my hyphens to dashes so that compound words count separately. Yes, I’ve even been known to give some characters crazy last names like Van Der Camp because I want the padding. But when I see people who say they’ll include pages upon pages of Author’s Notes, meta conversations with their characters, song lyrics or unexpected ninja attacks? My respect goes out the window. There’s no point in writing 50,000 words if a quarter of them are just going to be deleted on Dec. 1 because they’re completely irrelevant. If you think that’s winning, you’re missing the point. Victory happens when you get out the story you set out to tell, mysteries are solved, characters grow as people, and all of your loose ends are tied up. Don’t get distracted by things that don’t really matter — even if that ends up being your word count. KK: Don’t expect to win — it puts far too much stress on you. Certainly want to win and have it as your aim, but if you concentrate too hard on such a large goal (especially if you haven’t done a similar challenge or finished a novel yet) then it could spoil the experience entirely for you. Just go in there with the urge to write, and write something you enjoy. You’ll hopefully find you can’t stop writing, and the goal will be completed before you know it! The aim of the event, simply, is to get people writing. It’s utterly amazing if you manage to hit 50,000 words, but if it actually gets you writing and you achieve a few thousand words, then that’s pretty good too, and something you should be proud of. SB: The best thing you’re going to do is learn how to shut off that inner editor. That’s really tough, I know, because she is incredibly loud and angry and won’t hesitate to tell you everything you’re doing is wrong, and I can’t personally just turn her off and put her in the closet, so I end up having to strike bargains with my own mind, tell myself I can edit it all next month. December is for editing, and
The best thing you’re going to do is learn how to shut off that inner editor. That’s really tough, I know, because she is incredibly loud and angry and won’t hesitate to tell you everything you’re doing is wrong. ... I end up having to strike bargains with my own mind, tell myself I can edit it all next month. until then, all I can do is get the words down as they come to me, or else there isn’t anything to edit. You just have to write, and it doesn’t matter if it’s terrible because you can fix things later. Now is for writing. Don’t be afraid to make up a lot of nonsense to get to the gold. O: Any parting words of wisdom? KK: In NaNoWriMo there are municipal liaisons (MLs), who look after regions throughout the world. You have your own part of the forum, meetups and parties, and they’ll hand out goodies like stickers. A region is only created when someone volunteers to be the ML though, so if there isn’t one for your immediate location then go for the nearest one. They’re there to answer any questions you may have and cheer you on, so hunt them down! I’ve mentioned the program ‘Write or Die,’ but seriously, check it out if you haven’t already. It’s what makes writing (and not editing) so easy. Other than that, I really can’t stress to just have fun in NaNo. Don’t see it as a challenge (unless you like them — I must admit I’m the competitive type) but see it as an excuse to write. A reason. And if anyone has annoyed you at any time ... put them in your novel, and serve some tasty payback.
Our Panel Of WriMoers
38 | On the cover
Novel Ideas: A 31-Da
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stock up. Buy a 2 binder, paper and a three-hole punch. Start keeping all of your notes, character sketches and outlines in your binder. Buy some note cards, too. Keep coming up with ideas.
outline. Choose 3 your best idea(s) and start writing an outline. How does the story begin? How does it end? Highlight key plot points in the middle that bridge the starting point to the conclusion.
meet and greet. 4 Create character cards, with one character per sheet of paper. Write down everything you know about that character. Leave room to add more once you start writing your novel.
scene it. Using 9 your outline, write one to two lines about a major scene on a notecard. Do this for all major scenes and organize them in the order they appear in the book.
name that 10 novel. Start a list of titles and choose one of them as a working title. Add to it as ideas come to you.
unused but 11 useful. Write scenes from your main characters’ pasts. These will not be used in the novel, but they will help you get to know your protagonists.
plus one ... or 16 more. Come up with one or more scene cards to add to your stack. Put them in order — and then rearrange them. Does your plot work best in chronological order? Or otherwise?
Multiply and 17 divide. Think about how your novel is best divided. Chapters? Parts? Story breaks? Map out the best way to lay out your plot.
Riddle me this. 18 How do supporting characters advance the plot? Answer that question for every character.
rearrange 23 game. Number the backs of your scene cards for chronological order. Now spend the afternoon rearranging them in various ways. Take notes on interesting or creative orders of scenes.
conflicted. Look 24 at the numbers on your scene cards. On a separate sheet of paper, write down each scene’s main conflict with its corresponding number. Is the conflict clear? What is at stake?
imperfection. 25 Everyone has flaws — physical, emotional or otherwise. What are each of your characters’ flaws? How does that create conflict?
Add and sub30 tract. Lay out your scene cards in the order. Now remove them, one by one. Which are needed for the story to make sense? Which are expendable? Highlight the required ones.
review day. Look 31 over your notes, creative projects and preliminary writing exercises to refresh your memory. Get a good night’s sleep ... chances are you won’t be sleeping much next month!
On the cover | 39
casting call. 6 Choose an actor or actress to represent each character. Attach their photos to your character sketches to help you visualize the character.
read up. Think 7 about your book’s genre. Look up other successful novels in that genre. Think about what made them successful and how you can use that to your advantage.
opening scene. 8 Write the opening scene. (Just don’t use today’s writing to boost your NaNoWriMo word count next month).
Reader input. 12 Let a friend read your character sketch and then describe the character back to you. Is your reader’s perception of the character how you meant him/her to be?
Soundtrack. 13 Create a soundtrack that matches the mood, theme and events of your novel. Add any songs that inspire you to write. Save it so you can play it as you write in November.
Get set. Research 14 your novel’s setting — time period, geographical location, economy, climate and culture. If you invented a setting, create a detailed description, including a map.
alternate 15 beginning. Remember last Saturday’s opening scene? Completely rewrite it. Keep the old one handy.
dialogue day. 19 Write dialogue between two of your characters. Now read it out loud. Does it sound genuine, or is it choppy once your hear it? Rewrite accordingly.
‘scening’ is 20 believing. Clip out or print out pictures related to where your novel is set. Choose houses for your characters or print landscapes/ cityscapes for where they live.
on the job. What 21 does you character do for a living? The supporting characters? Research those jobs. Wach movies about them. Job shadow. Talk to people who do them. Get to know the little details.
Parallel 22 Universe. Rewrite the opening scene again. Keep the first two handy.
TEST RUN. The 26 daily word count for NaNoWriMo is 1,667 words. Sit down and time how long it takes to write 1,667 words. Keep that in mind next month and budget time into your daily schedule to write.
cover design. 27 The NaNoWriMo website allows writers to design and upload covers for their novels. Create a cover to upload and help you visualize the final product. Dream big of publication!
study guide. 28 Start a list of topics you will need to research in the future to give more authenticity to the book. Review the list after NaNoWriMo as a starting point for editing.
Deja Vu. Same sto29 ry as the last three Saturdays. Rewrite the opening scene. Compare all four and choose the best one that sets the scene for your novel. Use it to launch your NaNoWriMo project.
It was a bright
cold day in April,
and the clocks
Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.
Call me Ishmael.
as It w y day m the
A screaming comes across the sky.
character 5 sketches. Put a character into an everyday situation and write a scene about it. Put a different character in the same scene and rewrite. How do they react similarly or differently?
not never tell
ake planning, editing, revisions, rewrites, more editing, frustrating, and it can feel even more frustrating once WriMo project starts to fizzle out. Writing before Nov. 1 a course for your novel to help keep you on track.
Explore ideas. 1 Even if you have one, jot down more. Need a starting point? Look at your book shelf and, in one sentence, tell what each is about. Do the same for your own book ideas.
ay Planning Process
, d e n e p p s. a s e h l is e or h t All mor
40 | On the cover
Novel Ideas: A 30-D
The race is on! Whether you’ve planned ahead or are sta the month-long haul.
And they’re off! Try 1 to write more than your daily word goal these first few days to give yourself some buffer room later in the month.
Word count: 1,667
Word count: 3,334
Writing tip: Have 8 a word war to help crank out words today. Compete against a friend, or set a timer and write, then reset the timer and try to write more than you did the last time.
Writing tip: D stop writing fo day once you out of ideas. S you still have two in mind s starting point
Writing tip: A struggling to m your word cou when you writ logically? Writ for a day — it helps develop It can be trimm
You’re into the 6 double digits of thousands. Treat yourself to your favorite music, drink or snack while you write today.
Word count: 10,002
Word count: 11,669
Word count: 13,336
Word count: 15,003
Keep a flash drive 13 or notebook with the most updated version of your novel handy so you can write in free minutes here or there. A few hundred words can go a long way.
Congratulations! 15 You’ve reached the halfway point — keep going! If you’re behind, don’t give up.
Writing tip: Set 16 small goals and reward yourself if you meet them. Ask another person to hold you accountable to those goals if necessary.
Word count: 21,671
Word count: 23,338
Word count: 25,005
Word count: 26,672
Today marks 21 35,000+! Don’t beat yourself up if you’re behind — keep writing regardless of your word count. The point of NaNoWriMo is simply to write.
Writing tip: If you 23 get stuck on one chapter but have ideas for other chapters, skip ahead. It also can help with foreshadowing to write later chapters first.
You’re enterin the home stre with 40,000 w You’re 80 per with your goa crank out the words. You ca
Word count: 33,340
Word count: 35,007
Word count: 36,674
Word count: 38,341
Writing tip: It is 27 tempting to reread and make revisions if what you wrote earlier contradicts what you wrote today. Don’t rewrite — just flag sections that need editing and keep going.
Word count: 45,009
Word count: 46,676
Deadline approach29 es. Cram as much writing in today as possible so you’ll be done early tomorrow. Validate your word count ASAP in case there are any technology glitches.
Word count: 48,343
You made it! Kick back. Relax.
Bask in the glory of a month of novel writin.
Word count: 50,010
On the cover | 41
Day Writing Process
arting cold-turkey on the noveling proecss, you’re in for
Don’t 3 or the u run Stop while e an idea or so you have a t the next day.
Are you 10 meet unt te chronote dialogue t’s quick and p characters. med later.
Word count: 6,668 11
End of week one! 5 How is your word count so far? Map out your days off for the rest of the month and allot time each day to write.
Word count: 8,335 How is your word 12 count this weekend? Schedule hours to write and deny yourself distractions in those time slots — turn off the cell phone, instant messenger and Facebook.
Word count: 18,337
Word count: 20,004
Writing tip: Talk 18 about your manuscript with someone you trust. Discussion can generate ideas and reignite excitement late in the month.
Word count: 30,006
Word count: 31,673
Five days to go. 26 Next weekend, you’re a free man or woman! But plans can wait. Get back to writing.
Word count: 41,675
Word count: 43,342
ng 24 etch words. rcent finished al! Time to final 10,000 an do it!
Nearly 90 writers have sealed publishing deals for their NaNoWriMo novels, and steampunk writer Suzanne Lazear ranks among them.
[Out] and About | 43
For Suzanne Lazear, Na‘No’ turned into a
“Don’t give up.” Those three words — quick, punchy and confident — are Suzanne Lazear’s advice to NaNoWriMo participants. Lazear is a one-time winner and three-time participant in National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo), a “seat-of-your-pants” writing challenge which asks writers to sign up, sit down and crank out 50,000 words between midnight on Nov. 1 and 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 30. Last year, the event drew more than 200,000 writers. Of those, more than 37,000 walked away as winners with their 50,000 words. Do the math and that comes out to less than 19 percent of participants. Only a handful of winners leaves a whole lot of of non-winners. Lazear has walked away with 50,000 words only once, in 2009. But she won in more ways than one. Her 2009 writing project “Innocent Darkness” will hit the bookshelves after its release by Flux in August 2012. Her first NaNoWriMo was not her first stab at novel writing. In fact, “Innocent Darkness” pushes double digits for its ranking in Lazear’s novel writing career. “(Innocent Darkness) was my tenth manuscript. Or eleventh. I can’t remember,” Lazear told Outlet Magazine. “The first six really sucked. Apparently books need plots.” The path from keyboard to publication can be a wearisome one. It is filled with writer’s block and rejection letters and sleepless nights of wondering if the manuscript meets or surpasses the bar of “good enough.” But Lazear’s message is for writers to keep at it. “(Innocent Darkness) was the fourth manuscript I queried. First, my advice would be ‘butt in chair, hands on keyboard.’ If you want to sell a novel, you need to write a whole book. Also, keep writing, keep revising, keep learning.” Her lesson? A NaNoWriMo non-winner is not the same thing as a NaNoWriMo loser, as long as the writing process doesn’t end after midnight on Dec. 1. So. “Don’t give up.”
n THE [OUT] AND ABOUT feature profiles people who are breaking out in creative fields and building careers in fields they love. To recommend someone for the [Out] and About feature, email email@example.com.
NANOWRIMO AS A WRITING TOOL NaNoWriMo was not Lazear’s first foray into quick production. Nor was it the most demanding. Candace Havens, a best-selling novelist and journalist, conducts fast-drafting workshops for a small fee that challenge writers to reach 70,000 words in two weeks. Lazear enrolled in one of Havens’ workshops and squeezed 30,000 words in between shifts at her day job. The novel draft she initially wrote for the workshop was a contemporary paranormal, but as a steampunk enthusiast, Lazear switched gears during the fastdrafting course and began revising the draft into a steampunk young adult novel. About 30,000 words into the novel, inspiration and ideas stalled, and Lazear began to question whether the plot would work in the steampunk genre. Ah, writer’s block. How writer’s disdain thee. But true to her mantra, Lazear didn’t give up. “Then I went to a writing conference,” Lazear said. “The two finished manuscripts I had to pitch had vampires in them. People kept talking about how they didn’t want vampires, but did want steampunk. So, I pitched ‘Innocent Darkness,’ letting them know it was still inprogress and got a good response. That meant I needed to find a way around my road block, make the story work and finish it.” Insert NaNoWriMo here. “I needed to finish (Innocent Darkness) and I needed some motivation, so I decided to use it as my NaNoWriMo book in 2009. Yes, I know, technically, I’m a big
fat NaNoWriMo cheater, since you’re supposed to not have anything written and I had 30K. But because of NaNoWriMo, I wrote 66K in three weeks. Seriously.” Even though the monthlong program didn’t start her novel, it helped complete the initial draft. And Lazear gives credit where it is due. “That was a lot of writing, and the support I got from fellow NaNoWriMoers really helped. I probably wouldn’t have been able to pound it out without the counters, support and pep talks.”
NaNoWriMo Tools: The Office of Letters and Light, which operates NaNoWriMo, offers several tools for participants each year, including: l Pep talks: Members of the OLL will email pep talks to participants throughout the month to keep them motivated (and sane). l Word counters: After signing up at www. nanowrimo.org, participants can upload their novel into a word counter, which will give them a daily update on their progress toward 50,000 words. l Forums: Other NaNoWriMo users can interact in forums covering topics like writing tips and strategies, genre writing, writing support and life during NaNoWriMo.
44 | [Out] and About THE PATH TO PUBLICATION Lazear finished writing “Innocent Darkness” during NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, finishing the initial writing phase doesn’t mean finishing the novel. Completing the first draft means the time has come for editing, revising and searching for publishers or agents who will nibble on the bait of a query letter. “After I finished Innocent Darkness, I spent two to three months editing and sending it off to beta readers,” Lazear said. “The opportunities (I used to pound out Innocent Darkness) didn’t lead to my sale, but they led to good feedback, and after I’d taken a couple of months to edit and refine the story I started sending out queries.”
It was in the midst of searching for an agent that Lazear struck a bit of luck. “I was targeting agents when I started querying in early 2010, but on a lark I sent it to Flux since they were looking for Steampunk and took unagented manuscripts. A few weeks later, I got an email, which led to a phone call from my noweditor Brian, which led to my manuscript being taken to acquisition, which led to a two-book deal, all in a couple of weeks in April of 2010. At the same time I also sent a query to my now-agent Laura Bradford, which led to a full request. She offered me representation a couple of hours after I got ‘the email’ from Brian about Flux buying (Innocent Darkness). I was in McDonalds when she called. It was quite the adventurous few weeks.”
About Suzanne Lazear Suzanne Lazear’s young adult steampunk dark fairytale, “Innocent Darkness,” book one of The Aether Chronicles, will be released from Flux in August 2012. Lazear lives in Southern California with her daughter, the hubby, a hermit crab and two chickens, where she currently is attempting to make a raygun to match her ballgown. She also is part of the steampunk group blog Steamed (wwww. ageofsteam.wordpres.com). Visit her blog at www. suzannewrites.wordpress.com and her website, www.suzannelazear.com
About ‘Innocent Darkness’ Wish. Love. Desire. Live. Sixteen-year-old Noli Braddock’s hoyden ways land her in an abusive reform school far from home. On mid-summer’s eve she wishes to be anyplace but that dreadful school. Her wish sends her tumbling into the Otherworld. A mysterious man from the Realm of Faerie rescues her, only to reveal that she must be sacrificed; otherwise, the entire Otherworld civilization will perish
Suzanne Lazear: In good company The NaNoWriMo website (www. nanowrimo.org) lists numerous authors who have published their novels after participating in NaNoWriMo. The list includes: l Rebecca Agiewich l Jocelyne Allen l J. Rose Allister l Laura L. Alton l Jacob and Diane Anderson-Minshall l Amelia AtwaterRhodes l Robyn Bachar l Jenna BayleyBurke l Katherine Bell l Hannah Biemold
l B.A. Binns l Gayle Brandeis l BethAnn Buehler l Jessica Burkhart l Geonn Cannon l Kathy Cano-Murillo l Teryl Cartwright l Dave Casler l S. Christopher l Elaine Corvidae l Julia Crouch l Lisa Daily l Martine Daniel l Corinne Davies l Farhan Devji l Saranna DeWylde l Sarah Dooley l Moondancer Drake l Delphine Dryden l Cecile Duquenne l Julia Durand
l Erastes l Mette Finderup l Edgar Franzmann l J.M. Frey l Colin Fullerton l Donna Gephart l Terie Gerrison l Ann Gonzalez l John Gorman l Erin Grace l Anna Scott Graham l Bosley Gravel l T. Greenwood l Sara Gruen l Abigail J. Hartman l Elizabeth Haynes l Simon Haynes l Liz Hegarty l Eric Hendrixson l Rachael Herron l Harry Hol
l Denise Jaden l Kathleen Kaufman l Heather Kuehl l Amy M. Levy l C.J. Lines l Kimberly Llewellyn l Greg McCarthy l Jon F. Merz l Ian O’Neill l Paula Offutt l Jacqueline Paige l Stephanie Perkins l Nathan Poell l Kalayna Price l Prem Rao l Rashbre l Lani Diane Rich l Vanitha Sankaran l Francesca Segre l Yolanda Sfetsos l K.C. Shaw
l Arianna Skye l L. Neil Smith l Diana Sousa l Keris Stainton l Ransom Stephen l Amber Stockton l James R. Strickland l Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen l Kyle Michel Sullivan l Pamela Turner l Catherine Wade l Alayna Williams l David Niall Wilson l Magdalena Zschokke Note: List of authors may not reflect all published NaNoWriMo participants.
Konsept Art Photography Located in Massillon, OH Band promos, live performances, portraits, etc. Email for more info at firstname.lastname@example.org www.facebook.com/konseptart
The first and last line between the sun coming up tomorrow and Hell on Earth.
DARKWATCH Coming Soon
Metal Men Angie Barry
Serial novel | 47
n the middle of a violent storm, two airships sailed, darting between thunder and lightning and angry, roiling clouds – one doing its utmost to hide, the other seeking the first. A game of hide and seek between metal and minds: that was what the people on the ground would have seen, if they could have seen anything through the rainfall and clouds. Upon the deck of the Circe, a slender figure stood. Silhouetted against the lightning and swathed in a long men’s coat and a hat, the figure was bent over the railing near the airship’s wheel. Even beneath the hat, the figure seemed to be glowering, the shoulders tense, fingers curled in a stranglehold around the rail. Another figure approached, also swathed in a long coat, but carrying an umbrella. He unfolded the device with a flourish and came to stand beside the first figure, holding the umbrella over her and staring off in the same general direction that she glowered. “The night,” he said, his voice deep and rumbling, “Is full of portents, as all stormy nights must be; possibility laces every cloud, and each thunderclap bellows, Doom!” “Working on a bit of theater, are you?” drawled the woman, Theodosia, without breaking her cold stare. “You’d be good enough for a Greek chorus, I suppose, but don’t try to use that sort of tripe on the London set. They won’t be impressed.” “And here I thought mothers were supposed to be supportive of their children,” replied the man — Simeon Wolfe. “And here I thought paying for art school, finding you private tutors in music and dance and painting, and buying your supplies for you was support,” Theodosia replied. “As your mother, I must be your worst critic. How else will you
improve, if no one ever offers you critique?” Simeon shrugged. “Mother knows best, they say.” He looked up, examining the skies. He reminded her, for an instant, of his boyhood self, small and delighted and awe-stricken by the closeness of the clouds. Maybe if she’d taken him up in the airships more often... But no. He had already been a little too much like his father. No good would have come in interesting him in the family trade. Simeon turned back to her, the storm reflected in his eyes. “It does rather capture the imagination though, doesn’t it — all these clouds?” he said. “It’s all rather poetic, really. We could almost be in a novel.” He paused thoughtfully, reaching over to the collar of his mother’s coat and shaking it out, clearing as much of the water as he could from her back. “Though if we really were in a novel, one of our ships would be bound to crash. And some lovers somewhere would probably die. There’s always lovers dying underneath the angry skies, or some such melodramatic posh.” Theodosia graced her son with the tiniest of smiles, just as thunder began to rumble. Simeon looked up at the clouds and shivered, and pulled his warm sailing coat tight about him. “Well,” he said, “Let’s hope we’re all in for a better ending. Do you see — ” Another roll of thunder, this one louder and closer. The crew of the airship, steady and strong, didn’t look up, but their pace began to quicken. From underneath her bowler and goggles, Theodosia watched them run below her, small mice darting about a slick, wet maze — a maze guided by her hand. Simeon, still next to her, lowered his hands from his ears. Frowning, he said again, “You don’t see the Argo, do you?”
Theodosia nodded. “Oh, he’s ahead,” she said, her voice low and rich. “And we’re gaining.” The inventor was perhaps a mile ahead of Theodosia and her airship, locked away in the bowels of his own ship. She could smell him through the thick soup of the clouds, the grease and metal and chemical scent of him teasing her, lingering long after he had passed. She inhaled deeply of the cold, stormy air, and mentally traced her mind’s eye’s image of the plans he’d stolen from her. No matter. His efforts would be in vain. As soon as the rabble below her had sailed the ship close enough, her soldiers would take the inventor’s ship, and the plans would be returned to her once more. Theodosia ground her teeth and shifted, a low growl escaping the back of her throat. It was always this way, with these men — sneaking off with things that did not belong to them, taking what they had no right to touch. But she would take back what was hers. Next to her, Simeon shifted uncomfortably. “Mother,” he said, “We’re not going to shoot the ship down, are we?” Theodosia glanced at him sidelong through her goggles. Her view of Simeon was partially blocked, and the rain made him hard to see, but in the darkness and wet he looked so much like his father – tall, broad-shouldered, dark-haired, a mouth full of just a few too many teeth. Even here in the dark his teeth caught the light, his mouth open just a little in worry as he awaited her answer. It was an expression more common to pretty heroines in dramatic paintings — openmouthed, eyebrows drawn into a v, watching and waiting for imminent disaster. Theodosia straightened and smiled, her lips thin and pressed
48 | Serial novel tightly together. She attempted a motherly gesture, brushing off his shoulders as he had done hers — but it lacked the warmth of his own gesture, and came off more as a manly clasp of the shoulders. “Of course not, Simeon,” she said, gripping his shoulder firmly to add emphasis to her words. “Wouldn’t be able to get the plans back that way, would we?” Under her hand, Simeon seemed to sag, his shoulders relaxing, tension pouring out of him like the rain slipping over the edges of the airship’s deck. “Yes, yes of course,” he said, smiling ruefully. “It’s just – I worried for a moment. You don’t get this angry very often, and — ” A sudden banging of boots against the deck, and both Wolfes turned as one, two piercing gazes focused on the approaching sailor. He paused, a safe few yards away, and shouted over the storm, “Lord Wolfe, we need you!” Exchanging a quick glance with her son, Theodosia nodded shortly and stepped forward, walking briskly across the deck and leaving the proper Lord Wolfe behind. qrq From the clouds, the Aysel watched, mostly removed, hyper-vigilant now that the airships were in their territory. Cloudmaids, the airship sailors called them, the mermaids of the skies; clouds served as their waves, the air itself their ocean. Their long, scaled, whip-like tales stretched eel-like behind them, changing color with the sky depending on the weather. Their torsos, human in appearance, sometimes took on a tinge of the sky too, flaming pink and orange in the sunset, dark gray in times like these. This part of the sky belonged to the Aysel, or had, for quite awhile now. Cloudmaids were nomadic sorts and liked to wander from place to place, but they rarely left their designated expanse of sky. The Aysel clan had been suspended above England for nearly twenty years, as long as Anadil, a daughter of the Aysel, could remember. She had convinced herself that nothing interesting ever happened in England, not even on the airships that passed far below. And nothing interesting ever had happened, really — until recently. Airships hadn’t much interfered with their lives when Anadil was a child. The airships never came so high up in the air; or if they did, the Cloudmaids would hide, or drive the ships away with loud,
piercing screams. But these new airships could not be driven away; they flew freely through Aysel airspace, and many Aysel had already come to harm because of the humans’ daring. Airships were dangerous, and humans more so. Airships did violence unknowingly, flames burning, propellers slicing curious sky mermaids to pieces; but humans, it was rumored, did violence to the innocent sky nomads intentionally, gutting them open and prodding their innards as though they were as inanimate as the airships on which the humans rode. The Cloudmaids lived in fear now of the airships’ passing. And now there were not one, but two ships in their territory — a double danger to the Aysel. Rallied now, the Aysel hovered, their
and communicate with people not of their race. If a Cloudmaid were ever to hit land, she could change form and walk instead of flying. Small things, simple things — little tasks that made life in the sky easier. But Anadil had never seen such magic as this human wielded — sparking metal tools and formerly stationary objects that soon moved under the touch of his hand. Here was sorcery at its highest form; and in increasing danger to herself, Anadil had watched, and remained silent, and told no one of the encroaching ship. She wanted to know how he did it. It had to be relatively simple, since the human was male; and no male in Anadil’s culture had the brains to wield complicated magic. Complex things were left to the women, by nature the superior gender
She wanted to know how he did it. It had to be relatively simple, since the human was male; and no male in Anadil’s culture had the brains to wield complicated magic. Complex things were left to the women, by nature the superior gender of their race. tales slicing through rain and cloud alike as they dove through the mist and observed the first ship unnoticed. Occasionally they chirped to one another in their song-language, but softly, and in a range the humans couldn’t hear. Two ships, chirruped Anadil’s mother, Aymelek. Different clans. Many humans. Armed. Both? Anadil sang back. Both. Anadil could barely see through the rain. Her eyes were sharper than the average human’s, but rain and cloud hampered her even so. Waving a hand, she called out to her mother, Swimming closer. Must see. Anadil! her mother cried, a keening, forbidding wail – but Anadil did not listen. The truth was, Anadil had been watching this airship for days. She had been foolish enough not to notice the oncoming ship sailing close behind this one, but then, she had been distracted. There was a human onboard who was building things. Magical things. More than magical things. Cloudmaids by nature had simple magic. They could regulate the temperature of the air around them, and could use simple telepathy to pick up on foreign languages
of their race. Males were air-headed, with nothing but breeze and fog between their ears. They preened and tried to look their handsomest, and sang when the mood suited them. But for all their pretty colors and lovely songs, they were boring and uncomplicated, and Anadil hadn’t the slightest interest in any of them. The magic that this human wielded did not look simple. It did not have anything to do with pretty songs or good looks. In fact she’d hardly gotten a good look at the human, swathed as he was in long coats and pants and gloves, and a set of goggles. His gear looked stranger than a normal human’s, thicker and more protective. Perhaps the magic he wielded was dangerous. Cutting through the downpour, Anadil swam through the rain towards the ship, closer than she had previously dared. The storm was quite bad, and she couldn’t imagine that any of the airship’s passengers, lacking the Cloudmaids’ eyesight, would see her. Perhaps the magic man would be on the decks again, stabilizing the swaying airship in the middle of the storm. For an instant, Anadil’s heart leaped to her throat at the thought; but it sank again when she saw that he wasn’t there.
Serial novel | 49 Why would a great sorcerer be below decks at a time like this? Didn’t his people need him? Typical male, Anadil thought with a snort. He disappears when he’s needed the most. Swishing her tail in irritation, she swam closer to the ship. She could make out the details of it now — a huge, hulking metal thing, its deck hanging below a massive inflated sphere. Humans ran back and forth in a mad rush to keep the thing stabilized, shouting to one another in a language unfamiliar to Anadil — just another human-speak. Mouth a little agape, Anadil leaned forward to watch the goings-on. No one seemed to have noticed her there, all too involved in their work. There was some kind of insignia decorating the front and back of the airship, and also emblazoned on the sphere above. It might perhaps be a clan mark of some kind. Was the pursuing airship from an enemy clan? The Aysel had had a few enemies in their time, but none had ever so doggedly pursued them. Only one had actively tried to remove them from their airspace, and later that clan had apologized and withdrawn. “We knew not what we did,” they said; “There was human magic touching us.” Perhaps if Anadil knew human magic, she could keep such things from ever happening again. Which tool of the male human had done its work on that clan? Could Anadil ever learn to use it? Would she ever get the chance? Suddenly, a shout echoed across the bow of the airship. Anadil looked up, startled, and saw that the sailors were pointing at her, first one, then a half-dozen, then a dozen. Anadil’s tail snapped against the wind. Gasping, she backed away rapidly, and as the shouts grew louder she began to turn, her heart pounding heavily against her ribcage. Then there was a crack, and then an explosion, impossibly loud, that sent Anadil flying wildly through the clouds. qrq The ship had sunk. Mordecai Danvers knew that much, even through the haze of pain and fogginess that he had awoken to. He knew it was his fault, too, that the airship had crashed — the fault of his endless tinkering on a design that he should have destroyed as soon as he realized what the company wanted it for. He was an idiot in the highest degree —
an idealistic, gullible, stupid little idiot. It was the chemicals, he realized dully, as his arms and legs began to throb. He shouldn’t have been using the Rhodesian blood formula in the middle of the storm. Mixed incorrectly with the wrong substances, it was liable to explode. Normally Mordecai was more careful with his compounds, but in the middle of the storm, with another airship rumored to be closing in, he had panicked, and had worked too hard and too late, and with too little caution. He had known the ship would explode as soon as he realized he’d poured the wrong compound into the Rhodesian Man’s head. Dropping the beaker, heedless of its shattering as it crashed to the ground, he’d turned and fled at once in a panic, rushing out to the deck of the airship and trying to shout over the noise of the storm. But before any sailors had heard him — Well, he didn’t remember the explosion itself, when he thought about it. Certainty of its happening did not a memory make. He did remember the part where he had fallen, though, plummeting through air and cloud and driving rain — until someone had caught him. Mordecai remembered her face with startling clarity, for the blind panic of the moment. Her skin was pale, but tinted dark gray at its edges. Her eyes were large and gray, not innocent or frightened, but determined. He remembered that her hair was pale too, and short, and that her nose was slim. He also felt certain, though he couldn’t quite remember why, that she had had a tail. An animal. A sky-beast. Frantically she had beaten against the rain that poured around them. For awhile they stilled and hung suspended in the air, but she did not have the strength to keep them both up, and down they plummeted, down towards the earth, occasionally stopping when she could catch them, then falling again and again. Mordecai did not remember hitting the earth, and did not remember what had happened to the sky-beast. Groaning, Mordecai tried to lift an arm to rub his eyes, but the limb, unusually heavy, would not move. Broken? Mordecai’s eyes fluttered open. The ceiling above him was plain white, the room unremarkable insofar as he could see. He wondered, briefly, if he’d found himself in a hospital, and if so, what sort. A voluntary
hospital? He would have to be evaluated first, and his financial status determined. He had no papers on him. How would they know who he was, how much money he had? No, not a voluntary hospital then. It was too clean for a poor law infirmary, nor was there any noise suggesting workhouses close by. He settled on a cottage hospital, specializing in rare diseases. But he had no rare disease – not unless he was suddenly possessed of some interesting wounds. The thought chilled him to the bone. Attempting to push himself up on his elbows, Mordecai found his limbs heavy and unwieldy — and cold, too, so cold as to be nearly frozen. What the hell was this madness? “The patient is awake,” he heard a doctor say; and when he managed to look up several doctors gathered around him, all staring eagerly at him as though he had some kind of treat to feed them. He looked around, hoping to find an escape, but found that the room he was in was small. There were two doors: one behind the doctors, and one to his left. Both were white, but the one to his left bore a sign in large, blocky letters: Operating Theater. There was a window in the midst of the white wall, and a few chairs were gathered by the window’s edge. Next to him, there was a table, a large mahogany one covered in a white sheet. Wrenches, hammers, tin snips, a vial or two, a screwdriver, and some leather littered the table top. Mordecai blinked. Strange tools for a hospital to have. Had they brought the tools to him for his use? Did they know who he was, then? “Good morning, Mr. Danvers,” said the middle doctor, smiling like a shark. “How are you feeling?” Well, that answered that question. “Bloody horrendous,” Mordecai snapped. A surge of pain burst through him; groaning, Mordecai closed his eyes and willed the pain to stop, grinding his teeth.“What the bloody hell did you cunt-mongers do to me?”
50 | Serial novel The four doctors drew back, shocked. “Sir, there’s no need for that,” said the first doctor, voice quavering. “We’ve only tried to help you, regardless of the results. I know they may not be pleasing to you, but, well, your life is saved, and so are your limbs.” Mordecai’s eyes flew open at once. “Limbs?” he repeated. It was only then that Mordecai looked down. Where he should have had arms, elaborate brass machinery sat instead; pipes and gears and clunky joints, all too big and too heavy to move properly. His right arm was huge, at least half the circumference of a cannon. At its end, a large clamp sat, pinched together now. Horrified, Mordecai made an effort to hoist the huge arm. It lifted, slowly and with great effort. “I’m afraid that we couldn’t get that one to operate independently,” said the first doctor. “To open and close the clamp, you’ll have to pull the lever at the top. But you’ll find the other arm quite functional.” Mordecai turned, slowly, to look at his other arm. This one was slim and light, made of long, gold piping perhaps as thick as a rifle. Supporting tubing allowed the arm to
bend easily at the joints; and at the tip of the strange metallic arm, thin, jointed fingers hung suspended. Mordecai lifted the arm easily, as though it was his own arm; and when he made to wiggle the fingers independently, they moved like they were flesh and blood. “We have plans to replicate that arm,” the first doctor continued, his voice calm in the stillness. “When we get the opportunity. We’re a bit short on supplies, but we’ve been promised more.” Mordecai pushed himself forward as much as he could. His breath came in short, frantic gasps, shallow and wheezing. His chest hurt, and the stubs of his arms hurt. He could swear that even the very metal burned. As he had feared, one of his legs was missing up to the knee; in its place, an elaborate wooden peg decorated with gold and brass poked stiffly forward. His opposite leg was still present, but mangled; it was propped up by heavy tubing and a long, flat brace along the back of the calf. He had become one of his own Rhodesian Man.
“We know the results are likely shocking,” a second doctor put in. “But overall we’re quite pleased with – ” “Did she do this?” Mordecai choked out. The doctors looked puzzled. “Beg pardon?” “Don’t act coy, fat culls,” Mordecai snarled. “I know it was her. She did it. Queen of the fat culls, queen of the ferrets and demanders! This is her punishment to me, her destruction. I won’t let her do this. I’ll sooner see her dead!” Trembling, he lifted his right arm, slowly and clumsily, and smashed aside his bedside table. Gasping, the doctors stepped back; and Mordecai Danvers, the inventor, stumbled out of bed, hobbling and flailing his way to freedom and exile. qrq n OF AIRSHIPS AND METAL MEN is a serial novel that will appear in installments in every issue of Outlet Magazine. Authors Angie Barry and Colleen Toliver are senior staff writers of Outlet Magazine. This installment was written by Colleen Toliver.
Fiction | 51
Isn’t It Romantic?
by Stephanie Rabig
A teenage girl. A ‘young’ vampire. But not a happily ever after.
“So where are we going?” “You’ll see.” She walked alongside him, reveling in the feel of his hand holding hers. His grip was cold, but that was to be expected. He was a vampire, after all. Suzie grinned, still unable to believe her luck. Out of all the girls he could’ve chosen, Jason had chosen her. And now he wanted her to see his own special place, away from his dark, oppressive family home and the ridiculous school. Maybe it’d be an enchanted meadow. Or an old castle, abandoned out in the woods that only he knew about. Or maybe he’d set out a picnic for the two of them. That would be so romantic. He’d only been talking with her for
about a week. He was a transfer student, easily the hottest guy in the whole school— in a pale, brooding kinda way — and he’d only had eyes for her. When he’d asked her to come with him today, she hadn’t even thought twice. Yeah, her cell needed charged and her mom was gonna throw a hissy for her not calling, but it would be so worth it. “How far away is it?” “Right here.” She looked around, confused. It seemed like a normal patch of woods. Maybe he had vampire powers that would make something appear! Or no, maybe he was going to ask her to be his girlfriend. That’d be — Jason grabbed her hand and pulled her forward, sinking his teeth into her neck. She squealed, trying to pull away, but her
efforts were laughable. It used to be that he had to be incredibly secretive about his hunt. Sometimes he went for weeks without feeding, weakening him to the point of near-death. Well, second death. Now if he went to the right places, chose his victims carefully, they’d leap at the chance to go somewhere secluded with him. Hardly any effort at all. God, he loved Twilight. n Stephanie Rabig is a sci-fi/fantasy writer who also experiments with romantic, urban, supernatural and religious styles. She says “there’s a creepy splatterpunk one in the works. Just for a change of pace.” More of her work can be found online at http://allthelivesofme.livejournal.com.
52 | Fiction
Nightmare building “What are nightmares, Daddy?” asks Melinda. “Nightmares?” He swivels around in his chair, bends down to her height. “Nightmares are what happen when little girls lie. Every lie a little girl tells gets angry it’s not the truth, and the angrier it gets the bigger and meaner it gets, and the longer its teeth. And it creeps into that little girl’s head every night and it chases her, and if it ever catches up…” He grins, and his lips peel back—peel away, and drop to the floor. An eye pops loose and he begins to laugh, teeth clattering to the floor. He reaches for her… “Do you know how monsters have sex?” Mommy says to Melinda on the bus. “Every time you think about them, that’s how. Every time you think the word ‘godzilla’ or see a picture of a vampire, or a werewolf’s howl pops into your brainpan, well. There’s a mommy Godzilla and a mommy vampire and a mommy werewolf all pregnant.” She leans down to whisper in Melinda’s ear. “Do you know what nightmares really are? Don’t tell Daddy I told you. They’re abortions. Nasty dead monster abortions. Can’t walk around in the real world so they walk around inside your head, trying to get born.” Mommy laughs and slaps her knee. “Monster abortions!” Her eyes narrow. They are red and bleeding. “Each and every one.” “Nightmares are people who died in their sleep,” says Rosemary, unrolling her sleeping bag. It is Melinda’s first sleepover. “If you die in a nightmare you stay there, and you turn into one. You only get to go to heaven if you die in a good dream.” Rosemary unzips the bag and slides in, and it closes over her head, zipper teeth gnashing as it swallows her up, twisting and writhing until blood seeps out the quilted polyester and there are no more screams. “Nightmares aren’t real,” says Officer Davies. “They’re just
by Gabriela Santiago
pictures in your head. The sleep fairies fly through your window and paint them when you’re not awake.” He winks at Melinda, and she can see where he has forgotten to put skin over the circuitry, clockwork winding and grinding on a patch of his forehead. “Was it a nightmare? Is that what made you do it?” “Nightmares?” Counselor Donald repeats. “Why, you’re a nightmare, Melody, didn’t you know?” “Melinda,” she corrects. “Oh, no, it’s Melody,” he says. “Melody, Melody, Melody. Nightmares are little girls who run away and hide so well they disappear. Their bodies get thin and their minds get thin and they just slip, slip, slip away. You had so many things to hide from, didn’t you? So many grown-ups, so angry at what you did? Melody, Melody, Melody.” The intercom crackles. “Why don’t you go to sleep, Melody?” A nightmare is a room like Melody is in which is a room which has walls that can only be opened if you know what a nightmare is because a definition is a thing like a key but Melody can’t find it she has looked all over under the mattress and in the toilet tank and between every cinderblock (a nightmare is a room with cinderblocks grey like all the color has been scrubbed or sucked or scraped away). A room like in your mind when your mind in an empty grey room like the one Melody can’t get out of even though I looked in the mirror and behind the mirror and under my skin when I cut under it but the definition wasn’t there and my mind is just cinderblocks cinderblocks cinderblocks stacked and I CAN’T FIND IT neverending. I know there is nothing behind the eyes behind I have looked behind eyes before and what if a nightmare is emptiness how do you fit emptiness into a keyhole and open the door? “No. Not yet.”
Fiction | 53
Smilesmirk by Ira Potter
Dora the Explorer is killing my soul, and my age has four syllables. A colorless example of an anachronism, bleaching the shocking blue of my eyes. I waver instead of stumble, looking past my headlights into the dimness. Half anxious of what I’ll find there, but mildly excited all the same. Deep breaths infuse the calmness of a cat on my lap for a moment, to assess where this drive is taking me. Down a chosen path that still makes me smile inwardly, at inside jokes and shared memories. I almost feel bad about the contentment, laughing while others cry, smiling through frustration, wondering how my dues were so cheap. Practically handed the membership card upon my initial payment. Petty really, when compared to anyone else. But it was earned regardless, in my own fashion, and apologies would be superficial at best. So it’s pointless to bring my luck up again. I can’t feel bad for being happy. I’d love to teach you the trick, but it’s something you have to master on your own. Epiphany doesn’t translate well, and I’m not sure I could explain the half of it anyway. Doubtful you would listen if I tried. Explain fate. That’s a tall order, and I only stand 5’4”, even when I smirk.
by Ian Emser
n Ian Emser is an artist and cartoonist based in Central Illinois. Every Friday he posts art on his website, antistaticimage.com. His artwork includes comic strips and animated gifs. For more information, log on to antistaticimage.com.
Have you ever written a sonnet? A pantoum? A limerick? Or a style of your own invention? Whatever your style of poetry, Outlet Magazine wants to feature it. Send us your poetry to submissions@outletmagazine. org. There is no restriction on number or type of poems that can be submitted. The best poetry submissions will appear in future issues of Outlet Magazine. For more information, email submissions@ outletmagazine.org.
Send in your
54 | Fiction
DarkWatch Average day sts
by Zach Applebee Katrina Lynn Joshua Patterson
Episode 0 Acts I, II
he table exploded near Talbot Nox. He did his best to shield his crumpled charge from the shattered lumber that flew through the air. Gloria Day was almost out cold, blood still flowing freely from her nose. “Come on,” Talbot growled, “stick with me!” “The boogyman’s here,” was all she said before closing her eyes. “Check under the beds and in the closets.” Talbot turned back towards the table, surveying the destruction. First, he saw a disembodied arm. Then part of a ribcage. Blood seemed to be raining down from the ceiling in a way that could only mean someone died while shifted. The hostage ... We were too late. The first thing he noticed was the smell of blood. Not the crimson liquid raining down, living blood pumping through human veins. He could smell iron, copper, adrenaline; he could fell the two pulses almost as if they were his own. The wound in his side throbbed, hungry for it. Not now, he thought to himself, I’ll feed you when we get home. A strange silhouette began to fade into existence among the gore and wreckage. Talbot could make out the shape of what seemed to be a man but with thin appendages growing out of his back and shoulder blades. As the image started to sharpen, he could see the figure was holding a woman in some sort of bulky clothes. He instinctively drew his gun. The figure was fully in view by the time Talbot raised his pistol. Dark tentacles writhed from impossible places, whipping about like wiry dog tails. It was the … the hostage? The person in the hostage’s arms was most definitely a woman. He immediately recognized Imogen Natura, limp in the horrifying man’s arms. He took pause; the image was like that of a man carrying his wife over the threshold if it was painted by H.R. Gieger.
Talbot’s training took over his need for blood and bypassed the horror around him. The pistol was outstretched and steady. “Put her down! Put her down right now!” On the floor, Gloria cried out, “The enemy of our enemies is our friend! Do not cast the first stone, the sun shall rise!” Blood was flowing from her nose freely, her mind clearly linked with the monstrosity before them. Talbot gave her a sidelong glance before returning his attention to the beast, now hanging his—its—head over his unconscious teammate, jerking almost rhythmically with a horrible gasping sound. His finger tensed on the trigger. Something was dripping on her BDU, slowly forming shiny puddles on the armor. It was clear and Talbot could smell the salt through his hunger. His trigger finger relaxed a hair. Is he … is he crying? “Help us,” the beast sobbed, offering Imogen’s limp form towards him. “Please, help us.”
2 Hours Earlier … The smell of coffee woke Elliot Washington but he kept his eyes shut. Not that he could get out of bed at the moment anyway; he could feel the weight of Chloe, his wife, on his arm and heard her light snore. She wasn’t moving until the alarm went off, so neither would he. Besides, the newlyweds didn’t get the chance to lay like this often enough for his liking anyway. A perfect start to his first day at his new job. Elliot had been unemployed for the past few months, a victim of the poor economy and just another number in the eyes of the ever-unhelpful government, but that changed when he got a job at the local hospital as an administrative consultant—a receptionist, according to Chloe. “You’re basically a step above a
Fiction | 55 Wal-Mart greeter!” she had said the other day. Elliot smirked. He didn’t care if that’s what it was. He could have been hired to get punched in the face every ten minutes or so; he was so tired of empty, jobless days and sleepless nights filled with the terror of losing their house. Anything was better than that. The alarm went off and the beautiful redhead on his arm stirred. He felt her roll over to look at him and he opened his eyes. Chloe smiled that beautiful smile of hers, the one that won Elliot over in the first place, and rested her head on his chest. He slapped the button the clock, ending the unpleasant noise. “Mornin’, stud,” Chloe giggled. She gave him a long kiss on the bottom of his jaw in an effort to avoid morning breath—his or hers. “Mornin’, sleepy head,” he said with a smile. “Coffee?” “Nah,” she mumbled through a mischievous curl of her lips, “not yet. But I would love some —” qrq “— blood, O positive.” Talbot Nox gave the orderly a wry smile. The poor fellow had blanched at the request, but that’s to be expected. The whiteclad man was one of many new hires after an incident involving cameras and a pesky replicating meme. Talbot appreciated the prank more than most of the staff — DI-1337 was mostly harmless, after all, unless your picture somehow ended up in the newspaper — but the offenders were all terminated and the victims were currently working with the psychologists to try and forget about it. So the new guy was here, standing over Talbot’s table, looking disgusted. The other two members of his squad were still in their bunk while he was in the mess hall, ordering an unorthodox breakfast. “What?” the orderly had finally replied. The pale man arched his eyebrow. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were hard of hearing.” He felt his fangs extend before he could stop them. It’s too early for this, he thought. “I’m wounded, mate. Didn’t the bossman warn you of some of our … unusual eating habits? I’d order steak and eggs, rare, like usual, but these holes heal faster with some of the good stuff.” The orderly stammered something under Talbot’s glower and skittered out of the room. He made sure to hold the expression for a few seconds after the young man left before breaking down into a boyish giggle. He was still in stitches when a familiar clacking gait echoed into the mess hall. Always with the heels, he thought as his laughter petered out. How do that woman’s feet not hurt after wearing those all day? “Ladies,” he said in a voice that was supposed to be suave. Not that he really had to bother trying; his British accent tended to pick up the slack. “Bite me,” the owner of the heels spat. Her business-like demeanor and her stone gray pantsuit were betrayed by the playful grin on her sun-kissed face. The young blonde following looked the exact opposite — still in her baby-blue pajamas, hair disheveled, half awake. The blonde shook her head and quietly made her way to the coffee machine. “Tempting, Momo, tempting.” He smiled at Imogen Natura, eying his raven-haired friend up and down. “I’ve read your file, though. B-negative. Not my type.”
Imogen folded her arms and rolled her eyes. “Har, har. You think you’re so clever with your puns.” Gloria Day returned to the table, steaming mug of coffee in her hands. “Puns are the most intellectual form of humor, you know.” “See?” the man said smugly. “I’m intellectual.” “They also get incredibly old. Makes me want to stab whoever uses them.” The others looked on as Gloria quietly sipped on her coffee. Talbot’s jaw dropped in faux shock. She returned the look and rolled her eyes. “I’m kidding.” “Good,” Talbot chuckled. “Otherwise I’d have to submit you for reclassification.” Imogen sat, smoothing out a wrinkle in her pant leg. “So did you finish the paperwork?” Talbot scoffed at the idea, growing more impatient with his meal. “Are you kidding? I was in med wing!” “Team leader has to write the reports,” Gloria added, punctuated with another sip of her coffee. “I was on bed rest,” he shot back. “Or do you guys not remember the nice, inch-wide hole I brought back from Paris?” Imogen shuddered at that, remembering the sucking chest wound as they ran through Notre Dame. She also remembered that it barely slowed him down. “Besides, he was a Class III Shifter. Standard catch for a standard report.” Try telling that to the priest at Mass that day, Gloria thought silently. Talbot looked around, agitated. “Where is that orderly?” “Waiting for breakfast?” “Yeah. I’m starving! I could eat —” qrq “— the whole damn thing of bacon?” Chloe shook her head in disbelief as she watched her husband try to pick out a tie. “Hey,” he defended, “I always eat a big breakfast. Red or green?” And a big lunch. And a big dinner. And a couple big snacks, she thought with a grin. I did work up his appetite. “Red. Goes better with the shirt.” Elliot nodded with a serious frown. He trusted her taste better than his own. If he was picking out his clothes, it would be a pair of his loose-fitting blue jeans and a t-shirt. Today it would either be Alice Cooper or Alice in Chains. He argued the merits of both shirts he would not be allowed to wear to work and mused as to why he seemed to be on an “Alice” kick as he fumbled with the tie he was forced to wear. Chloe suppressed a giggle as he undid the poorly constructed knot with mild frustration. “Having trouble there, chief?” He looked up from his task and smiled, still fumbling. “This would be easier if I wasn’t in a hurry.” She raised an eyebrow. “And whose fault is that?” “Who decided to celebrate my first day of work in bed? Before I went to said workplace?” Chloe shrugged and crossed the room to assist her husband. “I didn’t hear any complaints. You could have said ‘no.’” “What? And pass up sex? I’d have to turn in my man card!” Elliot winked and smiled, surrendering the disobeying tie to his wife. In a short three seconds, she had it tied in a half-Windsor. He contemplated it in the mirror, adjusting the fit for comfort. Alice in Chains today, definitely. I’ll change when I get home. “Your man card? You didn’t turn that in when you started
56 | Fiction knitting?” Chloe bit her lip and eyed her man. He ate like a cow, but he stayed bean-pole thin, much to her jealousy. She’d kill for a metabolism like his and, she was willing to bet, so would almost every other woman on Earth. Most of the men, too. “Beats my other bad habit,” he said, and she agreed. Elliot took up knitting to help him beat smoking. The fact that he went to what he called a “stitch ‘n’ bitch” every Wednesday notwithstanding, the change was for the better. Chloe grabbed him by the tie and pulled his lips to hers. The mint flavor of their toothpastes mingled for a second or two before they separated with a quiet smack. She nodded in approval. “Sure does. You don’t taste like an ashtray anymore.” Elliot smiled and kissed her again. “Or bacon.” qrq “Do you remember how long it took before we secured the witness?” Imogen scowled over the rims of her reading glasses as she looked up from the report. Talbot was sipping a cup of blood through a crazy straw, smiling towards the new guy. He rolled his eyes when he noticed his intended target hadn’t noticed. Gloria was three shades greener, though. “Fifteen thirty local time, I believe. Saw him take a victim in the red light district an hour earlier. Poor woman,” he added with a hint of sorrow. The pen-baring woman raised an eyebrow. “What? Prostitutes are people too, lass.” “That sounds like the worst campaign slogan ever,” Gloria riffed, trying to ignore the warm cup of bodily fluids across the table from her. Talbot could see it was not going well at all, though, and felt a pang of guilt when she dropped her gaze towards her third cup of coffee. “Focus, children,” Imogen chided, not looking up from the manila folder before her. “We remembered to administer an amnesiac, right?” “I don’t know,” Talbot said. “Last thing I remember I was holding a bottle full of little red candies. I think they were tasty though.” His lips curled into a grin. Imogen’s lips pursed into a scowl. The little red candies, Class-A Amnesiac pills, were administered to witnesses to keep them safe and stabilize their lives after encounters with the team’s subjects. Talbot wondered if they tried to use them to treat DI-1337. “You know, Talbot, its bad enough that I’m filling this out for you as it is. Could you at least behave like a professional for a few minutes?” He sighed. “You’re no fun. Yes, we gave her the forgetfulness pills. And we apprehended the suspect during Mass in Notre Dame approximately thirty minutes later.” Gloria shut her eyes, appearing to be in deep concentration. “Uh oh, Dad’s home. Hope the chores are done or we get the belt.” The voice was disturbingly child-like, almost sing-song in quality, and a drastic change from her usual deadpan countenance. Imogen paid it no heed and continued writing. But Talbot’s eyes widened. “Dad,” better known as Zebediah McPherson, was one of their superiors. And a Scotsman—which made him an interesting combination in the warrior’s eyes. Talbot remembered fighting the Scots on a battlefield hundreds of years prior and recalled that they were cheeky bastards, just like Zeb. And he’s younger than me, he thought. Not that anyone else here isn’t. Sir Talbot Nox, I think you’re getting old. “Should I mention your wound?” Imogen asked, scrawling
faster on the papers in the manila folder. If Zeb was coming down to the mess hall looking for paperwork, come Hell or high water she wanted it complete. “Nah, med wing’s got it on file already. We can append it later.” Gloria’s eyebrows perked up, her head turning slightly towards the door. Talbot’s spine stiffened as he shot a quick look to Imogen. The woman dropped her business-like demeanor easily and switched into soldier mode. They both set down the objects in their hands on the table softly and stood, eying the door. “What is it, Gloria?” Talbot’s eyes narrowed. Her gift had saved them in the past and was rarely wrong. “Bad things,” she replied quietly. “Mommy and Daddy met in the hall. A dog got loose.”
qrq Elliot grabbed the paper sack on the counter, the grease spots making the material slightly transparent. Last night’s fast food leftovers, but you eat what you have when you’re waiting on a paycheck. Tomorrow’s lunch would be better, he knew. He unconsciously straightened his tie and turned to his wife, smiling like a kid on the first day at a new school. Chloe giggled. “You look ridiculously happy right now.” “About time, don’t’cha think?” She smiled and nodded. Elliot had horrible mood swings during his unemployment streak. Always moping and frustrated. She much preferred the young man in front of her right now — the man she married a year ago. Chloe looked at the clock and raised an eyebrow in alarm. Elliot, thinking the same thing, closed the gap and wrapped
Fiction | 57 his wife in his free arm. “I really need to get going. No good being late on the first day, eh?” “Yeah,” she replied. “Save that for tomorrow.” Their lips met and nerves clawed at her stomach. It was strange knowing he wasn’t going to be around when she got back from her yoga class that day. Elliot broke the embrace and gave her a wink. “Don’t get too used to having the house to yourself,” he said. “I’m still coming home.” He made his way to the garage, fishing the keys to his old beater from his pocket. He did a quick check for his wallet and cell phone before opening the garage door. Chloe followed him with a soft smile. “Drive carefully,” she cautioned in an almost motherly tone. “I will,” Elliot replied, giving her his trademark smirk from
“DarkWatch” is a web-published serial of short stories set up with five acts in each episode and approximately 12 episodes per season. The story focuses on one group of agents working for DarkWatch Institute, an organization whose motto is “The dedication to study and acquire paranormal objects and beings to use in defense against threats of similar nature.” In the episode “Average Day” (production code 0x00-pilot), Elliot Washington leaves his home one morning to report for his first day at a new job. Upon arrival, he is captured by an escaped prisoner with supernatural powers known as “shifting,” being able to remove oneself from the normal flow of time to a point a half-second into the future, and is held hostage. It is up to Collection Team Alpha of the DarkWatch Institute to recapture or eliminate the prisoner while keeping the hostage safe. Elliot, we soon come to find out, has powers of his own.
the driver’s seat. “Got something too important to come home to, so I can’t do anything too risky today.” qrq Talbot was at the front of the group, with Gloria and Imogen just a step and a half behind him. The case report was tucked under Imogen’s arm, partially forgotten. It didn’t matter that it was incomplete at this point; if Gloria’s flash was correct they would end up amending it anyway. Nerves like ice, they passed through the barracks quickly and ignored salutes from the lowerranked grunts. Talbot opened the door at the far end for the two women even though Imogen silently scoffed. The briefing room was cramped when they walked in. The table was too big for the space, butting up against the wall opposite the door to make room for several chairs and a multimedia station topped with a cheap projector. Zeb was waiting,
seated on the far end of the table, coffee in hand. He raised his eyebrows in welcome and motioned for them to sit, his long pull from the coffee mug uninterrupted. They did so as he finished off the mug and set it down. “Leave it to the Scottish to be sitting on the job,” Talbot said with a grin. “My job’s the briefing,” Zeb said with a half-shrug. “Besides, Mom ain’t here yet.” Imogen set down the unfinished case file before her on the table. “Can you give us the basics?” The rest of the team nodded to that sentiment, wanting to limit their time with the Director. The woman was a mundane—normal, non-anomalous human— but on her worst days Talbot thought she had the power to freeze one’s soul in place and shatter them at the core. “That shifter you guys collared in Paris got loose,” Zeb said with a grunt. Gloria closed her eyes. When she focused on the man at the end of the table, she saw nothing. She resigned herself to doing it the old fashioned way. “Then we should be on high alert. What’s the catch?” Zeb leaned forward, arching his hands to hide his smile. “Not bad, lass, not bad. I’ll be blunt: the Director wants to take care of this quietly. She’s making sure he isn’t heading to the Ark before then.” Talbot nodded. Americans. Always worried about looking good. While he kept his qualms internal, Imogen was not so quiet. “So we’re sneaking around to make sure she keeps her job? Pathetic.” “Termination in the Institute isn’t exactly unemployment, remember? Especially for the higher level mundanes.” Zeb didn’t have to elaborate. They all knew that “termination” and “bloody mess” had a high possibility for being one and the same. Director Ellington breezed into the briefing room silently, the lines around her eyes as well defined as the ones in her dress slacks. The team quickly silenced themselves as she pulled up a chair by the audio-visual unit. She pulled out her PDA and plugged it into the projector. A floor plan of the White Oak facility sprung to life against the wall used as a makeshift projection screen. She started the briefing without greeting the people seated alongside her. “Subject DI-1917 escaped from his confines fifteen minutes ago,” she said, highlighting the cell — living quarters — on the image before them. “As soon as it was breeched, a lockdown of the lower levels was ordered. Security teams did a sweep and didn’t find him.” Talbot did not bother to raise his hand. “Were those units outfitted with shifters?” Ellington looked down her beak-like nose at the vampire. “Not all of them. We’re doing secondary sweeps with the shifter and teep teams to make sure, but we believe he’s trying to surface.” “Naturally,” Imogen said. “Armed?” “The guard assigned to his quarters was killed and disarmed, so take a wild guess.” “Great …” “Stow it, Alpha One.” Zeb locked eyes with Talbot and shook his head. Pick your battles, the look told him. “Now we know 1917 has confirmed his part in the serial mur-
58 | Fiction ders across Paris, so it is to be assumed he’s on the hunt again. We need to take care of this quickly and quietly before he finds a mark.” “R-O-E?” Gloria gave a quick look towards Ellington before returning her eyes to the table top. “Rules of engagement are restrictive. Lethal force is not authorized unless it is a life-or-death situation. We want our boy alive. Do I make myself clear?” “Crystal,” Talbot replied. “Anything else?” “Not at this time. We will contact you in the field if we find him down below.” Ellington’s grimace combined with the tight bun of her hair threatened to rend the flesh over her forehead in two. Talbot nodded. “Then it’s time to do our job. Alpha, suit up and meet me in five by the elevator. Move.” qrq It was a long and uneventful drive from his house. Elliot swore occasionally at the rush hour traffic, but it let up once he was off the freeway and forty short minutes from when he kissed Chloe goodbye he pulled into the parking garage next door. The guard leaned out of his booth, his gaunt hand motioning Elliot to roll down his window. “Can I help you, sir?” The smell of stale coffee wafted from the tiny shack into Elliot’s open window. He tried not to gag. “Hi, I’m the new hire at White Oak Hospital,” he replied, trying to sound genial. The guard was clearly on the wrong end of the graveyard shift, however, and didn’t return his smile. “Parking’s on the left side of the first level, elevator in the back,” he grumbled. “Can’t miss it.” “Thanks,” Elliot said as the guard closed the window to the booth. Friendly. Elliot found a parking spot near the elevator, pulling the car in neatly between two oversize pick-up trucks. He carefully avoided hitting the behemoth vehicles as he pondered whether the owners were compensating for something. His footfalls echoed and disrupted the silence of the garage as he quickly made his way to the back. The thick metal door opened to an empty elevator before he hit the call button. Creepy. Elliot chuckled softly to himself over the shiver running up his spine and stepped on. He checked the note in his pocket to make sure he knew where he was going and punched the corresponding button. Idly playing with his phone, he waited. And waited. The door finally closed and Elliot was violently slammed against the back wall by a force around his midsection; it felt as if there was a string going through his stomach and he was being yanked hard towards the floor. His body threatened to send his breakfast on a return trip as nausea swept over him. The sensation passed and he could feel the bruise forming on the lower part of his back from the handrail, his eyes closed in pain. He opened them when he felt cool metal pressed against his forehead. The rail-thin guard from the booth had him pinned against the back of the elevator with one hand and a pistol to his forehead with another. “Don’t move,” the guard growled. “Don’t shout. Don’t fucking breathe.”
“Can you explain to me why we can’t just trace his tag?” The question hadn’t occurred to Talbot during the briefing. Zeb handed him his vest. The rest of the men in the barracks gave them space around the express elevator, recognizing the buzz in the air as “mission preparations.” “Tried that,” he replied. “We found it in his quarters.” Talbot set his jaw, taking this news into consideration. “He dug it out? With what?” He tried to keep the surprise out of his voice, but failed miserably. Instead he pretended he had succeeded as he pulled the vest over his fatigues. Zeb shrugged. “The idiot in the lab put it in his arm instead of his back, so it couldn’t have been too hard to do. Still, he broke off part of his bed frame and it looks like he used that. The piece is still missing, though.” Talbot winced as he pulled the straps tight around his chest. Zeb didn’t seem to notice (or to care if he did). “Those frames are hardened steel,” he grunted. “Damn. Guess that’s why we double cuff them, huh?” Zeb nodded, handing him a wireless communication earpiece. “And why we don’t put the chips in their damn arms.” Gloria and Imogen filtered around Zeb, checking the safeties on their weapons. They knew where he was and dodged him by pure battle-hardened instinct. Talbot could feel their pulses through the air, smell the adrenaline coursing through their veins and struggled to push the sensations down and ignore them. His wound would drag this operation down and he knew it, but they didn’t have much choice. If I had a chance to finish my breakfast, but nooo, a bad guy has to be an asshole. “Ready to roll?” Imogen asked, her eyes bright with excitement. “Two quick notes,” Talbot replied. “First, remember to avoid lethal force at all cost. I don’t like paperwork, remember?” Both women nodded. “Second, our prey dug his chip out of his arm using a broken bit of bedframe.” Gloria scoffed. “Super strength. Don’t you think that would have been covered under ‘anything else?’” She turned her glare to Zeb, who quickly raised his hands in defense. “Better question: why did they put the chip in his arm?” “Don’t shoot the messenger,” Talbot said in their commander’s defense. “Just the bad guys. Ok, check your earpieces and move out.” qrq Elliot wobbled off the elevator into the hospital lobby, the muzzle of the guard’s pistol painfully reminding him of the injury to his back. The rush of adrenaline fought off unconsciousness but the numbness in his face and his fingers indicated shock. He was sure he would be pissing blood for a week or two once he got out of this. If he got out of this. “Keep walking,” the guard growled, digging in the pistol deeper into the bruise. Elliot grunted and kept moving, sucking in a pained breath through his teeth. The concourse was eerily quiet; no one was around to witness the crime in progress. “What do you want?” Elliot asked. “I want to be free.” Then silence. The lobby was empty; papers scattered and even the nurses’ station unmanned. Elliot’s brain reeled trying to
Fiction | 59 make sense of it all. His head felt like it was filled with helium and his legs and back burned. Swelling was clamping down on his sciatic nerve, he reasoned, and it would pass. “I need to sit down,” he pleaded. “Shut up. Keep walking.” The guard walked Elliot down a hallway, towards the emergency department according to the signs plastered on the walls. He struggled to focus on the path they were taking through the hospital but the off-white walls all looked the same to him, as if someone copy-and-pasted the environment over and over again. Elliot sighed, trying to think of some way to get out of this mess. “What’s your name?” “I said shut up,” the guard growled. “My name’s Elliot,” the captive continued. “My friends call me Rooster.” Make him see me as a person. Instead he toppled to the ground, struck from behind with the butt of the pistol. Elliot’s head rang with this new pain as he rolled over on his back to look at his assailant. The guard’s cadaverous face surprised him; instead of rage, he saw fear and confusion. Elliot got the impression that he had expected a different outcome than him toppling to the ugly beige carpet underfoot. “You … you’re … like me?” the guard asked in a hushed voice.
Thirty-five cars and twelve bodies later, Talbot checked the small guard booth by the entrance. He was not prepared for what he found. He backed up a step and hissed. qrq Alpha Team hustled out of the elevator as soon as the doors opened to the parking complex. Talbot had his sidearm drawn but his finger registered on the barrel to avoid accidentally shooting someone. He raised the pistol and scanned the lot. Seeing nothing, he brought it back down and tried to hide the twinge that crossed his face. Imogen shook her head. Shouldn’t be out in the field, her expression said. He replied with a raised eyebrow that he hoped clearly communicated, No kidding. Wordlessly they spread out, covering as much ground as they could with three people. Of all the teams stationed here at the moment, he thought, why did they pick the one that’s short a member or three? He chose a position behind one of the large concrete supports, shifting his focus from discontent to the fish-eye mirror mounted on the ceiling. “Christ, he could see us coming from a mile away here.” “Got to love safety protocols,” Imogen’s voice said in his ear. She became a different person in the field, much to Talbot’s relief. Otherwise, he’d contemplate shooting her himself. “They’re gonna get us killed one day.” Talbot chuckled quietly. “I know, counterproductive. Gloria, do you sense anything?”
He could almost hear the petite blonde shake her head. “No one here but us chickens, boss. Not that that’s helpful.” He had forgotten that even after they had the subject on the plane from France, she couldn’t get a read off him. “Damn. Ok, looks like we do this the old fashioned way. Take it slow.” Talbot crossed the gap between the first car in the row and the pillar silently. His pistol pointed to the empty cab, scanning the backseat for movement. Nothing. He let out a breath and moved on to the next one. He was on the fifth car when Gloria’s voice rang in his ear. “Body,” was all she said. “I got one here too,” Imogen followed. “Single gunshot wound to the chest,” “Yeah, mine too,” Gloria replied. “Looks consistent to a ninemil, maybe a Sig Sauer P290.” Standard issue sidearm of the security teams in the facility. Damn. Talbot shook his head in frustration. “Command, are you hearing this?” “Loud and clear, Alpha.” Ellington’s voice was cold over the radio. Thirty-five cars and twelve bodies later, Talbot checked the small guard booth by the entrance. He was not prepared for what he found. He backed up a step and hissed. The microphone must have picked it up, because Gloria and Imogen crossed over to him at a run. “What have you got?” Imogen asked, weapon ready. “Take a look for yourself.” The nude body was folded unnaturally on the floor of the little shack. Contorted flesh was doused in crimson from three precise cuts—two along the neck and one along the right thigh. The blood pooled underneath him, reflecting the room upside down. “Definitely our boy,” Imogen said with a grimace. Gloria examined the scene, brow furrowed. CSI mode, Talbot thought with a hint of a grin. It was nice to have a transfer from Investigations sometimes. She scanned it quietly for half a minute before her eyebrows perked up. “Look at the blood.” Talbot cocked his head to the side. “What’s wrong with the blood?” “Nothing,” she replied, rubbing the bridge of her nose with a free hand. “The blood is completely undisturbed. No splatter, no drag marks, nothing. That tells us two things: one, he bled out while shifted. The cuts cross three major vessels and there’s no arterial spray. Time dilation--the blood was moving much, much slower than the body. Two, he was nude when it happened.” “Why would he slice this one up when the others are shot?” The question came out a little gruffer then he meant it to and he grimaced to himself. “Firearms don’t work when you’re shifted.” Imogen answered, idly patting the combat knife strapped to her vest. “Must be why he kept that piece of the bed. But…why would the body be naked?” “Think about it,” Gloria replied, her voice cool with logic. “The subject is trying to escape. Those black scrubs we put them in would draw attention. What would you do?” Talbot shook his head again. “Small problem with that line of thought: this guy would be in uniform with one of those shiny plastic badges. He wouldn’t…be….” He trailed off, his jaw trying to work out the rest of the words in that sentence, but un-
60 | Fiction fortunately the answer reared its ugly head. “Check the garbage cans for the scrubs.” Gloria nodded and ran off. Imogen lingered, giving Talbot a questioning eye. He ignored her and moved towards the elevator. “Alpha to Command, Code Black. Recommend full lockdown of the facilities. Target is still in house, repeat, target is still in house.” … And this must be why they chose us. qrq Chloe returned from her yoga class to an empty house. The thin layer of sweat made the mat under her arm slippery and she tossed it to the couch unceremoniously. Looking at it, she sighed. Elliot must be rubbing off on me, she thought as she picked it back up and placed it in its rightful place under the bed. Feeling better, she returned to the living room and turned on the television. Midday news. She checked the clock in the bottom corner of the screen and, seeing that she had twenty minutes until her soap operas came on, decided to leave it and grab a bottle of water from the kitchen. The fridge opened and there were no bottles to be found. Typical. Chloe grumbled under her breath and grabbed a warm one from the case next to the fridge, reminding herself to bust her husband’s chops about it later. It was a simple request, but sometimes he had his head too far in the clouds and forgot. She almost gagged against the stale plastic flavor of the water but forced a swallow anyway. The intense musical cue that signified a special report was playing when she returned to the couch. A picture of White Oak Hospital splashed on the screen and her eyebrows arched in interest. “We’re just receiving word of a hostage situation in one of the local hospitals,” the male newscaster said with appropriate gravitas. Chloe felt her heart drop. “Twenty minutes ago gunshots were heard in the parking garage of White Oak Hospital. Witnesses reported the racket to police who claim an armed man stormed the building and is currently holding hostages….” All sound died around her as Chloe fell back into the couch, trembling. qrq “Alpha Team, report.” Ellington’s voice fought through static in Talbot’s earpiece. “On our way to the lobby,” he replied, turning to Gloria with a questioning eyebrow. She shook her head. “No sightings yet. Anything on your end?” “We have police at the front door. They’ve been fed a cover story that should sate their curiosity for a while, but the clock is ticking.” “Copy, we’re moving double time. Alpha out.” He continued up the stairwell, his other team members following behind. The rhythmic pounding of combat boots was comforting to his warrior heart, tension rolling off his back. His injured ribs did not agree, however. After what seemed like forever, Alpha Team made it to the landing for the hospital lobby. Imogen caught Talbot’s eye and made a motion with her hand; three fingers vertical with two flicks towards the door. He shook his head and raised a closed fist in response. We go in quietly. Don’t spook him. She rolled her eyes in exasperation and nodded.
Talbot took point, opening the door slowly. His pistol was ready in front of him as he scanned the area on the other side. Several people were sitting in chairs reading magazines while they waited for the nurses to finish their paperwork. He quickly closed the door and furrowed his brow. “Alpha to Command,” he spat into his microphone. “Go ahead Alpha.” The Ice Queen, he thought. Brrr ... “Why the hell are there civilians in the lobby?” Talbot’s scowl turned to Gloria, her cheeks flush with embarrassment. “Sorry,” she mumbled, looking down. Kicking at an invisible rock, she added, “I got distracted.” His disappointment turned to gut-wrenching fear when his radio crackled back to life. The uncertainty in Ellington’s voice did not help the matter. “Command to Alpha, be advised that seventeen bodies were found on levels four through nine, including the Vault. The subject had been to the Ark.” Talbot couldn’t bring himself to respond, but Imogen was already on the horn. The air around her seemed to crackle with barely contained rage. “You mean to tell us that our subject, a highly dangerous murderer and a shifter to begin with, could possibly be Corrupted and is running loose in a hospital full of unarmed freakin’ civilians that he could tear apart like tin foil under normal circumstances?” She spat on the ground in contempt. “How the ever-loving hell did the sweep teams miss seventeen damn corpses?!” qrq “Where is everyone?” Elliot asked while struggling to stay on his feet as his captor forced a door open. No answer. He hadn’t received any sort of reply since he tried to appeal to the guard’s conscience. The man with the gun seemed unsure of himself after the incident in the hallway. Is he afraid? “You’re with them.” The words hit Elliot like a slap in the face. “You have to be. Did they send you to find me?” “Whoa,” Elliot gasped. “Slow down. What are you talking about?” The pallid man shook his head violently. Elliot noticed he had begun to sweat profusely. The guard seemed skinnier than when they first met in the parking garage, almost as if he was slowly mummifying before his eyes. His face was flush around the better defined cheekbones, his breathing heavy. Appeal to him, his brain shouted. Appeal to his humanity. “Are you ok?” Elliot asked his captor. “You look ill.” That comment earned him a second blow to his temple with the guard’s pistol. The young man shouted in pain and stumbled to the ground. His vision doubled for a second or two. “Get up!” the guard shouted, his voice sounding hoarse. “Get in that room!” Elliot tried to stand, but his legs wouldn’t have it. He managed to crawl through the door the guard indicated and found himself in what seemed to be a large conference room. A large wooden table stood in the middle of the room, surrounded by nice padded chairs that Elliot wouldn’t have found out of place in the office of some business mogul. He pulled himself to his feet with the assistance of the table, leaning against it to take the pain from his weary body. The guard followed him in and locked the door behind him. Elliot watched his captor walk straight towards him before
Fiction | 61 seemingly fading out of existence like the picture in a slideshow. A quick examination of the room around him produced neither hide nor hair of the sickly looking man and he could feel his heart leap into his parched throat. What the … Elliot returned his view to the empty space between him and the door, blinked, and the guard was back again, scowling through a veneer of sweat. Oh God, he thought, I’m losing it. The guard grabbed his wrist violently and in an instant it felt like the bottom of his world fell, pulling him down with it by his belly button. qrq “I’m really sorry for the inconvenience,” Imogen said to the family she was herding into the nurses’ office. “It’s for your own safety, I promise.” The father tried to protest, but his wife gave him a cold look that every man recognized as a sign to shut their mouths. He finally nodded, resigned, and let Imogen shut the door. She felt the latch clasp and breathed a sigh of relief. Not that a locked door could stop someone that could break through a solid piece of steel with his bare hands, but at least they were out finally out of her way. Imogen walked towards Talbot, who was explaining the situation to the nurses. As much as she hated to admit it, she had to commend Ellington’s insistence that every member of the medical staff was privy to the goings on underneath the hospital. The nurses didn’t seem to mind so much after the director also made sure they had hazard pay on top of their normal salary. Gold makes the world go round, Imogen thought with a small frown. Talbot thanked the women for their cooperation and walked them to the office behind the front desk, holding the door open for them. Sometimes it irked her that he was so damn chivalrous, but Talbot was a man from a different time. A brave knight in shining armor, riding in to the rescue on horseback. But now his armor was dull and a sickly olive drab. Times change. “Someone went through here,” Gloria mumbled. Her eyes were closed, trying to pinpoint the echoes of past thoughts. “I can’t get a strong sense of who, but I think they were shifted.” Our boy. Has to be. qrq Chloe felt sick as she reached for her phone. Maybe he’s fine, she thought to herself. Maybe he got caught in traffic and was late. She knew that was a far cry from plausible considering how many times she had to remind him about his lead foot. It was much more likely he was lying on his stomach in the middle of the lobby … She shook that thought from her head as she found his number in her cell phone. Rooster, the contact said. It was a nickname he picked up doing karaoke in the bars and how their mutual friend introduced them. Chloe asked him to explain how he got it that night after a couple drinks and Elliot had just smiled that smile she fell in love with and replied, “Because I’m one cocky bastard in front of a crowd.” She smiled for a second before the cold feeling erupted along her nerve endings. Being a cocky bastard in front of a crowd was a bad trait to have in a hostage situation. The phone was ringing. She waited breathlessly, hoping — praying — he would pick up.
qrq “For the last time,” Elliot sighed, slumped against a wall, “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.” The guard’s arm was wavering at this point, the muzzle of the gun weaving like a drunk. He shook his head at his captive and clumsily sat in a chair. He slouched over, barely keeping the pistol pointed in Elliot’s general direction. “Don’t you see,” he gasped tiredly, “we’re special, you and I. We can do things people can’t even imagine doing. We’re the next step in human evolution, gods among the pitiful fools that walk this planet. “But those … those bastards want to take us away. Dissect and study us. Keep us from what’s rightfully ours.” Anger showed weakly through the man’s increasingly glazed eyes. “Even turn us against one another.” Elliot gazed at nothing in particular through half-closed lids. The guard’s words were that of a rambling madman’s. He remembered hearing similar tales from loud panhandlers on the streets of Chicago, mixed in with the gov’ment is stealin’ mah thoughts and aliens probed me as a child. Still, he figured he might as well humor the crazed emaciated man with the gun and increase his odds of survival. “Really?” Elliot finally forced a reply, not sure of what he was talking about. “I thought I was the only one. How did you find all this out?” “They caught me,” he sighed. Elliot did not like the way he talked with his hands, mostly because of the loaded firearm. “I was only doing what we need to do, feeding, and they took me away from my hunting grounds.” “Oh no, that’s terrible.” That sounded pathetic, Elliot told himself. Could I at least try to sound like I’m interested? Fatigue was setting in, though, and his mind would have nothing of it. “It was.” The guard quickly fell for the fake camaraderie, likely a victim of the same exhaustion plaguing Elliot. “But then I got out and found the bottom of their hole. There was this big door, you see, and there was someone behind it. Not just someone, no, it was the voices of the gods themselves, and they told me everything. What we are, what we need to do, everything.” “And what did they say we are, exactly?” The guard tried to smile, but his dehydrated lips cracked painfully. Elliot even winced when he saw it. This man’s health was going south quick, it seemed. “We’re the harbingers of the new tomorrow. The Heralds of Omega.” Elliot nodded, feigning interest. Before he could reply felt a familiar vibration in his pants pocket. One long buzz, two short. The young man’s eyes widened as the guard looked down and sinewy muscles twitched under his overly taught skin. Oh no. The opening riff of Alice Cooper’s “Poison,” replicated in the overly garish tones that only MIDI could provide, echoed around the empty room. His captor met his eyes, the air around him grew colder, and the little progress he made with the madman began to circle the drain. n Darkwatch is a collaborative web-published serial coming soon. The remainder of Episode 0 will run in the Dec./Jan. issue of Outlet Magazine. This episode was written by Zach Applebee.
62 | Miss Informed
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Dear Miss Informed: I want to include movie screen shots and excerpts of novels in a research project. Hopefully the project will someday be polished and published. Before I do too much work I can’t legally use, what is the fair use law for movie stills and book excerpts? How much copyrighted content can I use? — Wondering Writer Dear Wondering Writer: Like much of U.S. law and doctrine, the fair use doctrine is open to interpretation and does not provide hard-and-fast rules by which to abide. According to the United States Copyright Office, the fair use doctrine does not have an established word count or length for audio and video clips. It does, however, have certain guidelines to help users of copyrighted content avoid infringement. Section 107 of the copyright law (title 17, U.S. Code) addresses fair use. It reads:
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The purpose of the fair use doctrine is to allow people who are not copyright holders of material to use portions of the material without acquiring permission from the copyright holder (imagine the paperwork traffic jam this would cause every time a college term paper is due, whenever a columnist needs to cite a quote or each time a teacher needs to make a photocopy of a poem!). It also helps generate discussion about copyrighted material. The four guidelines provided in copyright law can get fuzzy at some points. Even though the guidelines discourage commercial or for-profit uses, magazines and newspapers often use short excerpts in book reviews. The columns eventually generate profit for the publication, but the fair use is permitted under comment and criticism. When it comes to how much content can be used, non-copyright holders become tightrope walkers without a net. It is a careful balancing act to include portions of copyrighted work without a release from the copyright holder. If a measureable percentage of your final research project is copyrighted work pasted directly into the bed of your research, an infringment case is possible. If the large majority of the research project is your own material commenting on and reviewing the material, you have more freedom under fair use. Movie stills are another case entirely. While using them with critiques is safe under fair use, they come with additional baggage. Screen shots can infringe upon the publicity rights of actors featured in the shot. Fair use does not protect against publicity rights. Ultimately, the U.S. Copyright Office maintains that the safest route is to ask permission to use material.
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at this time. Photographs and artwork. Photographs and images of artwork should be emailed to email@example.com and include first and last name, contact information (email address and telephone number preferred), title of work (if applicable), a description of the work and a cover letter. Cover letters can be submitted in the body text of the email. All photographs should include information relevant to a caption, including location and names of individuals in the photo. All persons included in photographs, video and audio clips must give their permission to appear in publication. Images must be free of borders, logos and/or other watermarks. All elements contained within the submission must be entirely the original works by the contributor. Images can be submitted in .jpg, .pdf, or .tif file formats and must have a resolution of at least 300 to be considered for publication. File sizes must not exceed four megabytes. Contributors may send multiple emails if needed. Audio and video. Audio and video samples can be emailed to submissions@
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outletmagazine.org and should include first and last name, contact information (email address and telephone number preferred), title of work (if applicable), a description of the work and a cover letter. Cover letters can be submitted in the body text of the email. Video files should be .avi or .mov file types; .wmv files are accepted, but .avi and .mov are preferred. Audio files should be .mp3 file format only. Compensation. Outlet is a free publication and does not charge for subscriptions. This is a not-for-profit venture and does not pay contributors. Contributions are welcome and encouraged for persons seeking publishing experience and audience for their creative work. Outlet is a passion project for those who enjoy creating and sharing. For the full version of Outlet’s submission guidelines, head on over to www. outletmagazine.org and click the Submissions tab at the top of the page. For specific questions or queries, click the Contact Us tab or send an email to editorin-chief Julie Stroebel at jstroebel@ outletmagazine.org.
Plug in. Log on. Download. Enjoy.