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Dragon Rider – Part 45

Dragon Rider

Chapter Eighteen Continued

Reciprocal Damage

 

God, he hoped that he wasn’t too late to save Falkor.

There was a muted blast from outside the pod as the doors to the room were ripped from their hinges and soldiers poured in under a cloud of grey smoke.

‘YOU WON’T GET AWAY!’  It was the Overseer.  Her voice blasted inside the pod from two small speakers attached to the inside of the cask.  The Overseer was clutching the microphone on the desk, her crazy eyes bulging out of their sockets, her red hair wild, bursting from its bun.  Beside her, soldiers were pressing the buttons on the control pad, desperately trying to open the cask.

A small grizzled soldier, fed up with playing with buttons, fired at the pod but recoiled in horror as the toughened glass repelled his bullets.  Instead, they ricocheted around the room sending everyone, including the Overseer, diving for cover.  Smoke began to pour from the control panel as the bullets became embedded in it, shrouding the soldiers from view.

‘IMBECILES!  STOP THEM!’ screamed the Overseer from somewhere behind the veil of smoke.

The pod burst into life, there was a deafening sound, like nails on a blackboard, and bright white light swamped them.  Almost immediately, Drake could feel himself flying forwards at a terrifying speed but it was too fast for his mind to keep up with.  He tried to close his eyes, to stop the sensation, but he couldn’t.  He screamed, but no sound escaped from his mouth, as he realised his mind had freed itself from his body.  He looked down in horror as he saw his body lying beneath him, still and lifeless.

Then the sensation was over.  His eyes snapped shut as his mind re-entered his body and once again he could feel his heart beating, pumping his life-blood around his body.  He could feel the warmth of Willow’s breath and smell her scent of strawberry and vanilla.

The pod went black.

Now he could see a bright light radiating and throbbing from the end of the tunnel.  And they were hurtling towards it, so fast that the pod felt as if it had stopped moving.

The pure light consumed Drake and Willow entirely, coating every part of their bodies, enveloping them like they were in some primordial womb.  They were suspended in the light, but for how long, Drake could not tell.  It could’ve been seconds, years or just the blink of an eye.

And then it was gone.

Drake could feel something real and solid beneath him; the hardness of the earth accompanied by the comforting smell of damp grass and moss.

They were home.

Drake dug his hands into the soft earth, scraping up the grass and moss with his fingernails.  He didn’t want to open his eyes, to ruin the moment.  He felt strangely at peace as his heartbeat slowly in his chest, a gentle thrumming of a drum, and his head felt strangely empty of the confusing mess that usually bubbled and churned there.

He didn’t want to think about anything, he didn’t want to have to deal with any of it.  Not now, not when he felt so calm.  He didn’t want to break the moment.

Willow’s voice broke the silence.  ‘Drake.’

Drake felt Willow leaping up from the floor.  But he didn’t want to move, he wanted to stay here and breathe in the cool air, to feel it brushing against his skin.

‘Thank you for joining us Drake, I did wonder when you would show, if at all,’ said a silky voice, fracturing his euphoria.

No.  No.  No.  Drake’s body was screaming at him; this wasn’t right.  Drake forced his eyes open and jumped up from the muddy floor, still grasping the Emerald Key tightly to his chest.  But his mind, although clear, was slow.  ‘Funestus?  What-?’

‘Yes, thought I’d come and surprise you.’

It was only now that Drake saw the dwarves standing close by, huddled around the crumpled body of Falkor who was pinned tightly to the ground under giant iron chains.  Scarface stepped forward, his black leather trousers and skull tee-shirt were covered in mud and a neon blue substance; Falkor’s blood.

Death’s Apprentice – Part 62

There was another growl. Joe could make out movement in front of him that wasn’t the creature. He opened his eyes just as one of Hel’s hounds launched itself at the creature’s neck. It latched on with its canine and began to wiggle its body violently to cut off the creature’s air supply. It reminded Joe of lions when they latch on to the neck of their prey in the wildlife documentaries he’d watched growing up.

The wolf creature stood up on its back legs and grabbed at the hound with its sharp claws. Blood was oozing from the wound in its neck but still, it kept on pulling at the hound in an attempt to yank it off its throat.

Beside him, he noticed Hades was finishing off the first beast that had attacked.

Joe pulled himself off the floor just as the other wolf creature managed to prize the hound off its throat. He held the hound in its hand-like front paws and threw the dog to the ground. The dog yelped as he hit the ground at a funny angle. Then he moved no more.

The beast turned his attention back to Joe.

The wolf creature lunged at Joe, its giant mouth, covered in bright red blood, gaping open.

Joe stood frozen to the spot. He was going to die. He knew he was going to die. Of that, he was completely certain. There was no way on earth that he could fend off that beast.

It’s not true, thought Joe, as time seemed to stand still, you don’t see your life flashing before your eyes just before death. Well, he didn’t anyway. He felt nothing. Nothing at all.

That was a lie.

He felt something, just not what you are told you will feel, or what you would expect.

He felt relief.

No more Shitdad.

No more beatings.

No more Lola.

Fuck!

Lola.

What would she do? He couldn’t leave her. He knew that she was safe with the Crows back at the funeral home but how long would that last? She’d be sent to a dog’s home. And then what?

No. He couldn’t do that. He had to fight, but how?

He turned around, fully aware that the beast was only inches from him. With a strength he never knew he had, he ripped a large branch from the tree behind him. It snapped with a loud crack. He pulled it free and turned sharply just as the wolf creature reached him. He swung the branch and it connected with the creature’s head.

The wolf staggered sideways, stunned.

A feeling stirred in Joe. A feeling that surprised even him, in the heat of the battle. He wanted to live. He needed to live.

So you wanna be a writer? Five reasons why you shouldn’t.

So, you wanna be a writer? This post is five reasons why you shouldn’t even attempt it.

Wait…what…?

Have you ever told someone you want to write, or that you’re writing a book and they’ve looked at you with that blank stare? Or, probably even worse, they just laugh at you and say “why on earth would you want to do that?” Or, “you can’t do that you didn’t do very well at school.” Or, “that’s a stupid idea, you have to have an innate ability to write.”

It kind of sucks, doesn’t it?

Well, here’s five reasons why they’re right.

Not really, I’m not that kind of person.

Here’s five reasons why you should tell them to go f**k themselves and write anyway 🙂

This post, if you hadn’t already noticed, will have some swearing in it. Sorry, not sorry 🙂

One – Don’t bother writing if you haven’t got an innate talent for it.

What a load of b*ll*$cks.

Whilst it’s true that some people have an innate ability when it comes to writing, anyone can learn to write.

Writing is a craft. And like all crafts, you need to learn and master the basics. Then you move on to the more complicated stuff. You have to put the legwork in. If you do, then you WILL be able to write.

That’s not to say you won’t make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, even six-figure authors.

Make mistakes, acknowledge those mistakes, learn from them and move on.

Two – Everyone wants to write a book

Yeah, maybe not everyone wants to write a book but sure, a fair few people do harbour the ambition.

But here’s the thing, there’s a big difference between TALKING about writing a book and ACTUALLY writing it.

And, so what if everyone does want to write a book? That doesn’t stop you writing your book, does it? Your experience of life is different from everybody else, therefore your book is going to be different because it’s written by YOU.

Only YOU can write YOUR book.

What everyone else thinks or does should have no bearing on what you do. If you want to write a book, write a f**king book!

Three – No one will want to read what you write

Excuse me?

Like, does this point even need a response.

People will want to read what you write. You just have to find YOUR people. The people who will love your work.

Finding an audience can be hard, but that audience IS out there. You just need to find them!

Someone out there WILL appreciate what you write.

Four – Your grammar sucks

Whilst grammar is important, it’s not the be-all and end-all of writing.

I have read many stories where the grammar has been perfect but this doesn’t necessarily translate into a good story.

In my opinion, the story is the most important thing, NOT grammar.

That’s not to say you should ignore good grammar. Try and brush up on your grammar skills, take a course, try and teach yourself about grammar.

But, if all else fails, there are editors out there!

DO NOT let your fear of grammar stop you from writing.

Five – There are too many people writing books and publishers aren’t interested anymore.

Whilst it may be true that it’s hard to get noticed, let alone published, by a traditional publisher, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write.

Better to try and fail than never try at all.

Besides, it kind of depends on your reasons for writing. Not everyone who writes wants to get published.

And if you do, that’s cool too. Try and get it trad published if you want. It’s a long hard road, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it, does it?

Also, consider Indie publishing.

There’s still a stigma to Indie publishing but it’s not as bad as it once was. There are some seriously good Indie published writers out there (Mark Dawson, I’m looking at you!). And these writers can make some serious money. Not that money has to be your motivation but it is good to know that it is possible to make a living from your work.

The thing is, Traditionally published or Indie published, is still published and both are hard work, whichever way you look at it.

So, that’s the end of my TED talk. Don’t let what other people say put you off writing. Yes, it’s hard, yes, it can be frustrating but is it worth it?

Abso -bloody-lutely!

What crappy things have been said to you about writing? What puts you off putting pen to paper?

 

 

 

 

Dragon Rider – Part 44

Dragon Rider

Chapter Eighteen

Reciprocal Damage

‘Pyro, don’t you dare!’ shouted Drake, as Pyro dropped back down onto the seat, his eyes blank, staring out into the unknown.

And then, right before their eyes, he disappeared with not even a speck of blood to show that he had even existed.

‘Drake, do you think?’ asked Willow, her voice trembling.

‘I don’t know,’ said Drake, shaking his head.  Shit.  This was not supposed to happen.  Not this way.  What if he was dead?  He wasn’t supposed to die!  What had he done?

‘Maybe he’s been summoned,’ said Willow.

‘Maybe,’ replied Drake, fixing his eyes on the small battalion of soldiers gathering at the foot of the Main Tower.  ‘When we get back, you find out.’

‘I don’t know if I can, I-‘

‘We know his real name, right?’

‘Yes.’

‘Then we’ll do it.  Somehow.  We owe him that much.’

‘STOP THE CART AND PUT YOUR HANDS UP!’  The Overseer’s voice rang out from the speakers situated all around the compound.

‘What the hell do we do now?’ said Willow.

‘This!’ said Drake, ramming his foot down hard on the accelerator so that the cart shot forward, straight towards the soldiers preparing to fire in front of them.

‘Have you got a death wish or something?’

The cart crashed through the soldiers sending them scattering like dominoes.

‘GET UP!’ ordered the Overseer over the tannoy.  ‘STUPID FOOLS, STOP THEM!’

The soldiers scrambled to their feet and followed the cart as it plunged over the bridge, straddling the fiery moat, and into the foyer of the Main Tower.

Drake immediately took his foot off the accelerator and slammed it on the break.  The cart screeched in fury as it struggled to stop on the slippery floor.  It finally came to rest just short of the main desk.  The receptionist behind it was standing open-mouthed, clutching an empty cup that had held the coffee she was now wearing.  Beside her stood the woman in the khaki uniform who had asked them to fill in the questionnaire.

Drake smiled at her and winked.  ‘Sorry!’

Behind them the soldiers were fighting their way through the foyer, slipping and cursing as they chased after them.  Drake turned on his heels and catapulted himself into the gaping mouth of the lift.

Willow jumped in behind him clutching The Emerald Key and breathing hard.  She leaned over and slammed her hand on the “close doors” button.  The doors began to slowly glide shut.  ‘Come on, Come on!’ she said, pressing the button again and again.

‘Please refrain from pressing the button more than once,’ said the chirpy lift-voice.  ‘Which floor do you require?’

Before Drake had a chance to answer, two strong arms, belonging to a man-mountain of a soldier with a hawkish face, began to push the metal doors back open.

‘What’s happening?’ asked the lift-voice.

‘Nothing that you need to worry about,’ said Drake, punching the soldier on his beak-like nose.  The soldier stumbled backwards, momentarily losing his grip on the doors as he cradled his nose which was pouring with crimson blood.  The doors slowly began to close, but the soldier launched himself at the doors, growling as he pushed them apart again, the muscles in his arms nearly popping with the effort.

Willow hit the soldier’s bloodied hands with the book as he tried to scramble into the lift, the other soldiers behind him now forcing him forward.

‘Exit please,’ said Drake.  He rammed his boot into the soldier’s stomach sending him flying backwards and onto the soldiers behind him, his enormous bulk pinning them to the ground.

‘That was close,’ gasped Willow as the doors finally closed.

The lift quickly dropped to the basement.  The doors opened and they pelted out, the shrill alarm still blaring around the compound.

They were now in a large rectangular hall with steel double doors in front of them.  Two small flies buzzed around the flickering florescent strip light running along the centre of the dirty polystyrene-tiled ceiling, adding to the air of abandonment in this part of the tower.

They ran over and entered the room beyond the large double doors.  The room looked to Drake like some sort of old control room, maybe a relic from the human era, as it reminded him of pictures he had seen, when he was a small boy, of the NASA control room in the 1950 s, with its large control panel on the side of one wall and its old-fashioned lights that flashed green and red.  A large microphone covered in grey foam sat at its centre, in front of a blank green computer screen.  To the right of the panel hovered a cylindrical glass pod, in front of a dark chute, its door hinged open at the top with small chrome fixings.

‘That’s got to be the way out!’ said Drake, pointing at the pod, ‘Now if we can just get it to-’  He doubled over, cradling his stomach in both of his trembling hands, as pain gripped him in her tight claws.  He clenched his teeth and let the agonizing feeling pass.

‘Are you okay?’ asked Willow, her hand on his shoulder as she bent over to get a good look at him.

He nodded, unable to speak.  But he knew something was horribly wrong.  He just didn’t know what.

‘Okay,’ said Willow, but Drake could tell she didn’t believe him.  But then again, he wasn’t really hiding the fact he was in trouble.  ‘I’ll see if I can get the pod working,’ said Willow, stuffing the Emerald Key under her arm as she turned her attention to the control panel.

Once the pain had subsided, he managed to wedge the door shut with an old wooden chair.  He didn’t know how long they’d got before the soldiers got here, but even if it didn’t hold the doors shut for long, it might just give them the valuable seconds they needed to get out of this place.

Willow was desperately pounding at the buttons on the control panel.  She hit a green button and almost immediately there was a sound like an engine starting up and the pod began to shake violently, the computer screen now lit up with a picture of the pod’s sparkling interior.

Drake froze as more pain wracked his body, but this time it was like his flesh was being cut from his skin.  He gritted his teeth as the pain took control.  He stumbled, his eyes unable to focus, as his stomach tightened as nausea swept over him.

There was shouting outside the room and the double doors began to shake as the soldiers tried to ram their way in.

Drake was shaking and he could feel sweat, clammy and wet, under his tee-shirt and coat, where his Zephyr lay.  Suddenly, it felt as if someone had grabbed his arm and had ripped it off backwards.  He let out a muffled cry of pain and then gagged as bile rose up his windpipe.  He closed his eyes, bit down on the pain and fought to keep control, to not let the pain take him.

Willow grabbed his arm.  ‘Are you-‘

‘Yeah,’ he said, a little too harshly, ‘I’m fine.’  As the pain started to subside, Drake was now gripped by the crushing fingers of dread; Falkor was in deep trouble and Drake now knew that he was feeling the Reciprocal Damage.

Goddammit.  He’d got to get back, to see if Falkor was okay.  ‘QUICK!’ he shouted, running over to the pod.  He turned and beckoned for Willow to hurry.

Willow looked at the hourglass still clasped in her hand; there was only a drop of silver, no more than the size of a tear, left in the top half of it.  She threw it on the floor where it smashed into tiny pieces, the silver liquid oozing out over the floor like quicksilver.

Willow thrust the Emerald Key at Drake then threw herself into the pod.

Drake climbed in beside her, clutching the book to his chest.  He could feel his Zephyr underneath him, its bridge jabbing into his back.

The pod snapped shut behind them.

Death’s Apprentice – Part 61

A shadow launched out of the fog again, it jaws slashing at the side of Joe’s face. He heard the beast’s teeth snap shut, and smelled its acrid breath, but did not see the beast they belonged to for it was just too quick. Its jaws snapped shut inches from his face before it was consumed by the shadows again.

And then, it appeared again from the other side of Joe. Hades whipped his body around as the figure emerged from the fog. It was huge. A dog bigger than any Joe had ever seen, even bigger than Hades. It looked like a human except it was covered in a thick layer of fur and it’s head had no human face because it looked more like a wolf.

Hade’s launched at the creature’s throat, his own jaws missing the target by inches.

The was another growl from behind Joe. He turned just in time to see another wolf creature merge from the shadows, its mouth smeared red with blood.

Joe jumped backwards, away from the snapping jaws. His foot connected with a gnarled tree root snaking across the floor and he lost his balance. He fell back with a thud, hitting the base of his spine on the hard floor. He felt the pain ricochet through his torso but he didn’t have time to register it as the wolf creature crouched down on all fours and launched at him.

Joe tried to push himself back, away from the creature’s snapping jaws but there was a large tree trunk in the way. He couldn’t move. He was trapped.

The beast stopped just inches away from Joe’s head. He could smell its acrid breath and see the drool pooling at the corners of its mouth. It gave a throaty growl and prepared to strike. It sprung forward, teeth bared. Joe closed his eyes. It was strange, he didn’t feel scared. He didn’t feel anything. All he knew was that he didn’t want to see the creature tearing him limb from limb.

There was another growl. Joe could make out movement in front of him that wasn’t the creature. He opened his eyes just as one of Hel’s hounds launched itself at the creature’s neck. It latched on with its canines and began to wiggle its body violently to cut off the creature’s air supply. It reminded Joe of lions when they latch on to the neck of their prey in the wildlife documentaries he’d watched growing up. The times he’d had a television that was. His Shitdad liked to pawn them for beer money.

The wolf creature stood up on its back legs and grabbed at the hound with its sharp claws. Blood was oozing from the wound in its neck but still, it kept on pulling at the hound in an attempt to yank it off its throat.

Beside him, he noticed Hades was finishing off the first beast that had attacked.

Joe pulled himself off the floor just as the other wolf creature managed to prize the hound off its throat. It held the hound in its hand-like front paws and threw the dog to the ground. The dog yelped as he hit the ground at a funny angle. Then he moved no more.

The beast turned his attention back to Joe.

Dragon Rider – Part 43

Dragon Rider

Chapter Seventeen Continued

Hermes Trismegistus

‘Come on,’ said Drake, ‘we need to get out of here before he changes his mind.’  Pyro and Willow followed him out of the cave just as a scream pierced the silence.  Outside Mr Nansi was pursuing Hermes around the boulder, the magician’s skeletal arms were flapping wildly, his toga falling off both of his shoulders.

‘Get away!’ screeched Hermes, ‘You said you wanted The Wisdom!’

‘There came a big spider,’ laughed Mr Nansi as he slunk around the boulder, ‘who sat down beside him and frightened Hermes away!’

‘You got what you asked for!’

‘Are chu sure about that Hermes?  I’ve had a good long time to chew things over.’

Willow, Drake and Pyro jumped back into the cart.  Drake thrust The Emerald Key at Willow and then fired the cart up, ramming his foot on the reverse pedal for a second, before slamming it on the emergency brake whilst locking the steering wheel left, so that the cart spun one-hundred and eighty degrees. Then, as he hit the accelerator, the cart shot forwards.

‘Where the hell did you learn to drive like that?’ spluttered Willow, her knuckles turning white as she clung onto the book.

Drake shrugged. ‘You should know, living on the streets you learn things.’  He kept his eyes fixed on the reception of the Waiting Room.  The cart was spluttering and making a strange banging sound, large plumes of black smoke spiralling from its rear end as Drake pushed it to its limits.

‘Hold on!’ screamed Drake, as they approached the building.

‘I‘m not good with speed,’ screamed Pyro from the back of the cart.

‘Drake!’ shouted Willow, ‘You’re supposed to slow down when you get close to…buildings!’

The reception doors glided effortlessly open and Drake ploughed on through the reception.  ‘Get your head down!’ he screamed at Willow and Pyro, just as the cart was about to hit the glass doors at the front.  There was a loud crack on impact and tiny shards of glass were thrown into the air before they tumbled back down to the earth like droplets of rain.

The guard outside jumped sideways, howling an alarm call.  He held his modified gun up and began firing red bolts of hot light at the escaping cart.

A shrill alarm began to resonate around the compound.

‘Drake, not a good idea,’ shrieked Willow clutching The Emerald Key even harder.

Drake brushed shards of glass from his coat with his left hand.  ‘No, probably not one of my best,’ he said, smiling devilishly, ’but then I think Brimo will probably be angry at us anyway, for taking The Key.’

‘What?’

‘We’re not supposed to take anything from the Waiting Room, remember?’

One, two shots zipped past them, missing them by inches.

Drake glanced over his shoulder; another shot had been fired and it was aiming straight for the back of his neck.

‘Get down!‘ shouted Drake.  But it was too late, he felt a white-hot pain stabbing his chest.  He looked down, but he could see nothing; no wound, no blood.  What the hell?

Before he had time to think, to process what was happening, he felt movement on the back seat.  He turned just as Pyro leapt up and twisted around, taking the full impact of the red hot bullet.  ‘NO!’ screamed Drake.

‘Pyro!’ screamed Willow.

 

Death’s Apprentice – Part 60

The forest was haunted, of that Joe was very sure. He thought he could hear the voices of ghosts whispering to him. ‘Stay with us,’ they said. ‘I need to get back,’ they said. But even the sound of one young voice whispering, ‘they never found my body,’ failed to move Joe.

He feared his heart might be dead.

On he went, consumed by the coldness.

There was a howl in the distance. A whelp.

Hades bounded out of the fog, his eyes burning bright. Joe immediately knew something was wrong. He’d seen that look before on Lola. Hades’ hackles were raised, his shoulders were tight and clearly visible and he held his head low as if guarding something.

There was a low growl from somewhere near but it wasn’t Hades. Hades growled in response and jumped in front of Joe as if to block his path.

Or protect him.

Out of the fog jumped a black shadow. It was huge, taller than Hades and much taller than Joe. Why that thought hit Joe just then was strange because Joe had thought for a fleeting second that the shadow was one of Hel’s hounds, but it couldn’t have been because Joe was sure that it was walking on two legs like a human.

And then the shadow was gone.

Joe stopped still. He could feel the pounding of his heart in his chest but he couldn’t feel anything inside him. It was a strange feeling this numbness. He knew full well that he should have been scared. Why wasn’t he scared? Why wasn’t he scared of the shadow?

Hades’ paced before him, his long fangs bared and dripping with drool.

A shadow launched out of the fog again, it jaws slashing at the side of Joe’s face. He heard the beast’s teeth snap shut, and smelled its acrid breath, but did not see the beast they belonged to for it was just too quick. Its jaws snapped shut inches from his face before it was consumed by the shadows again.

And then, it appeared again from the other side of Joe. Hades whipped his body around as the figure emerged from the fog. It was huge. A dog bigger than any Joe had ever seen, even bigger than Hades. It looked like a human except it was covered in a thick layer of fur and it’s head had no human face because it looked more like a wolf.

Hade’s launched at the creature’s throat, his own jaws missing the target by inches.

The was another growl from behind Joe. He turned just in time to see another wolf creature merge from the shadows, its mouth smeared red with blood.