Part 24

 

 

 In Valhalla, Mimir sits lost in thought. His mind wandering back to a time before Linda had ever been created. A time when the fate of the world was in the hands of the gods and mortal men. Then it all changed, with the birth of the special girl child.

As night begins to fall, the statues on the buildings begin to crack and come to life. Taking their true form, these protectors are now in search of the long awaited birth of this special child. The one who could prevent Ragnarok. The one who could balance out the world.

The gargoyles flew swiftly towards the dwelling, the delivery was to take place in. One would be stationed near by wearing a special piece of jewelry which would allow him to take the form of a human. The others would be minutes away guarding the birth site, and ready to attack at a moments notice.

The girl’s birth was successful. The beautiful blue eyed baby girl was delivered shortly after midnight. The gargoyles would stay near and protect the maiden. If signs of the wolf became apparent, she would be killed immediately by her shadow, who was in human form. Thus protecting her virtue and the fate, of the world.

Mimir’s mind then moves forward in time. His death, and beheading. His life stuck at Odin’s side as a toy for amusement. Finally Ragnarok. Upon his permanent ending, when he entered into Valhalla, the gargoyle leader Inook approached him. He shared with Mimir the information of what his race did and why. He also added that he could use Mimir and some of the stronger gods to help protect the earth realm. Mimir was undecided, until he learned he would be second only to Inook. He took the position, and as the gods entered the gates of Valhalla, he could give those he chose the choice to ascend, or to stay and help protect earth and watch for the birth of the child once again.

One can guess why Mimir chose to keep Odin. However you would be wrong. It wasn’t for Mimir to get even with Odin for carrying his head around all those years, but for his knowledge. Odin was the god who loved war. He would fight anyone no matter the cost. Okay, maybe a bit of revenge too, since he had been stuck without his body for so long. But Mimir would probably never admit that.

Mimir wakes from the day dream which had taken him back in time, as Odin appears at his door.

“Why are you smiling Mimir?” Odin demands.

“I was having a lovely day dream, and why not? Things are going just the way I want them to. The girl is bearing Vidar’s child, Fenrir has not been seen since the mortal Halloween, and life is great for all.”

“Maybe, because Fenrir knows she is pregnant, and a massive hunt is underway for her. She will be found. She will be killed!” Odin exclaimed.

Mimir stands and walks around to Odin’s side. “He will not kill the girl. She has mated. The prophecy ends. If she dies, she will not return. We must do all we can to protect her and the child. The child is necessary.”

 

©2015 ML Steele

Descriptions

Descriptions in writing

Descriptive writing is important. This is what allows you to communicate the image or the “mental movie” in your head to your reader. For me, it’s a mental movie. Others have told me that it’s a still image that starts to slowly advance frame-by-frame. They have to write out each frame. Granted that is just about the same thing, especially when you consider that moviemaking is at least 24 frames per second with the persistence of vision. For me, I can’t write the frames, I write the movie. Sometimes I have to go back and rewrite things that I’ve skipped over, trying to document the movie.

Whatever works for you, once you get the rough draft down, then don’t forget that it is your wordsmithing that tells a story. Many times, it is the difference between boredom and ‘page-gripping intensity.’ It doesn’t often come with the first or second draft either. A lot of times, it takes a few drafts.

Let’s look at our good buddy Jack. He’s had that rough day at work, and the boss told him, “you know what, Jack? You had a rough day today, what would finding that stuff. Why don’t you take the next couple days off, with pay. Try to recuperate a little.”

So here’s Jack relaxing, or trying to, at home.

Jack sat down in the chair with his drink.

Straight and to the point, right? However, all your mind’s eye sees is Jack sitting with a drink. Up until now, we haven’t seen where Jack lives. All we’ve seen in the earlier posts was where he works. Let’s rewind the tape and start again.

The clock on the wall ticked out the seconds. The only other sounds in the sparse apartment came from the hiss of the beer can popping open and the wheeze of the cheap armchair cushion as Jack flopped down. He stared out the window, through the blinds, to see the occasional car zip by the concrete jungle of his housing unit. It was a little stuffy in the apartment, so he set the sweating beer can down on the side table with a metallic ‘clink’ and got up. Jack fiddled with the old window unit until he convinced it to turn on. A hollow ‘thump’ announced the condenser’s reluctant activation, and cool air blew out.

Jack flopped down again, the cushion wheezing out another indignant breath. He picked up the beer, giving the wet ring on his side table a passing glance, and took a long sip. The television was silent, and he absently listened to the ‘tick tick tick tick’ of the clock, and found his mind inerrantly revisiting the memory of the ripping plastic bag and the red splashes in the back of the garbage truck.

He shuddered, trying to block out the memory. It was bad enough without having to relive it. Jack tipped the can back, and was rewarded with nothing. The can was empty. He grunted with displeasure and crushed the can. It didn’t take long to decide to get up and get another beer from the fridge.

The cushion wheezed out in relief as the refrigerator hummed.

Hmm…. I think Jack is having a bad time right now, and to tell the truth I can’t blame him. As for the description, you could come away with the impression that Jack is scraping by. Either that or he’s really cheap. Either way, this allows you to set up for something else to happen.

I could see either Jack falling asleep after getting drunk and having a nightmare happen, or if he just gets buzzed, maybe somebody knocking on his door.

The beer was halfway drained when a knock came on the door. Jack looked in the general direction, but ignored it. It came again, and Jack grumbled, “I’m coming!” He managed to set the beer down approximately in the wet ring, next to the other two empties. The cushion wheezed as he got up.

Jack stumbled to the door, and fumbled with the lock. The heavy door swung open to reveal Odell standing there with a case of beer in his hands.Jack squinted at the other man.

“Odell? Why ain’t you at work?”

White teeth shone again dark skin as Odell grinned.

“Same reason you ain’t at work, except I’ve seen stuff like that before and you haven’t. I can handle it easier. Can I come in? This beer isn’t going to keep itself cold.”

Jack grunted and stood aside. Odell looked over Jack’s shoulder as he walked in and saw the crumpled cans on the side table, and the one on the floor.

“Jack, looks like you got started a bit early.”

“Yeah.”

“You got that cheap crap, too. Here.” Odell ripped open the case and fished a bottle out. It was a thick German beer. “You need something better than that to chase away that stuff you saw.”

Jack took the brew and stumbled into the small kitchenette, looking for a bottle opener. Odell took a lighter out of his pocket and popped the top off, then gave it to Jack.

“Go sit down. I’ll look for a bottle opener.”

“OK.” A few moments later, the cushion wheezed again. Odell looked around. There was an ancient refrigerator, a small stove and a hotplate, a fairly new microwave that looked like it could handle a mug of water and a baby’s bowl, and a card table with two metal folding chairs to sit in. Odell shook his head. He found a bottle opener, and took a kitchen chair with him. He sat down, opened a bottle for himself, and looked at Jack.

“Hell of a day, huh, Jack?”

“Yeah.”

They clinked bottles and drank deep.

I think I’ll leave them to it. I don’t think either one’s going to work tomorrow, either.

Be strong in what you write, and your reader will see everything. If you do it right, and leave just enough blank, then the imagination of the reader might fill in something that you can see too.

I haven’t described Odell much, but I have an image of him in my mind. It would be interesting to see if the reader’s mental image and my mental image jibe. I like Odell, personally, and I think I’ll be writing him in more stuff. Somebody’s got to look after Jack, you know.

There is a balancing act when you use descriptions, though. On one hand you have too little description, which leaves a faint imprint upon your reader. On the other, you have too much, which can bury your reader and be tiresome. This is sometimes called an ‘infodump,’ and is necessary at times, but try to avoid it. On the gripping hand, a good descriptive and vivid story will leave your reader wanting more, when you weave it into all the other parts of a tale.

Happy writing!

-JB Steele

Part 23

 

    Linda ran through the field searching for something. She wasn’t sure what it was, only that it was important. Her hand instinctively goes to her stomach. Her stomach is flat. She realizes it is her child she searches for. She begins to run, searching in old hollowed out logs, under trees, in the rocks. Finally she sees an old fashion wooden cradle. She slowly walks up, knowing this has to be her child. She reaches the cradle and it is covered by a white sheet. Linda begins to pull it back, slowly expecting her baby. However, inside is a small wolf.

The wolf lunges at Linda. She has the sword in her hand, and stabs the wolf, killing it midair. Suddenly the wolf begins changing back into a tiny baby. Linda’s tiny baby. Linda drops to her knees, clutching the child.

“You fool!” Loki exclaims. “The girl is with child!”

“How do you know?” Fenrir exclaims.

“Because I, unlike you, can use my mind to search for answers. I leapt into the girl’s dream. She won’t be forgetting that nightmare anytime soon.” Loki said as if congratulating himself. “There I was able to confirm what you said was not possible.”

“But the threads,” Fenrir started.

“Screw the threads. They are being altered. I don’t know how, but the Norse has found a way to.”

“Then I must kill the girl.” Fenrir states.

“No, you must kill the child she carries. Then you mate with her. There is still time.”

“Wouldn’t it be better just to kill her and begin again?”

“No!” Loki is very adamant about this.

“You must mate and create the offspring needed to end those who protect earth and Valhalla.”
 

 

©2015 ML Steele

Part 22

Loki sits in a large skin armchair, waiting for the diminished demons to return from earth.

“Good of you to return.” Loki says impatiently.

“Master, we were as quick as we could be.”

“I don’t care about any of your excuses, I want the information on the girl.”

“We have not been able to locate her!” The demon exclaims.

“She cannot just disappear into thin air. The Norse must be hiding her. Get out of my sight all of you.” The small fiery creatures seemed to melt into the floor at his command.

Loki begins pacing, “Fenrir, come here, now.” He beckons out loud.

After a few moments, Fenrir materializes in the room across the floor from Loki. “What is the matter? Is there news on the girl?”

Loki circles Fenrir slowly, deliberately taking his full appearance in. As Loki returns to facing him, he asks “Where exactly have you been? And what have you been doing?”

Fenrir sneers, “I have been hunting. I crave blood, I can’t control that.”

Loki continues, “And what should you have been doing?”

Fenrir shrinks a small amount. “Tracking the girl.”

“I’m very glad you understand how important this is. You will have time to hunt later. All of the time in the world, with no one to stop you once I am ruler.” Loki moves in closer, right up into Fenrir’s face. “The girl is what you must focus on. Stop fooling around.” Loki continues on, “There have been no sightings of her since the mortals Halloween. We must find her immediately. Time is running out.” Loki pops Fenrir across the nose as if he is a misbehaving puppy. In retaliation, Fenrir opens his massive maw, and howls right in Loki’s face. His putrid breath, permeating through the air.

“Remember yourself Loki.”

Angered Loki shouts, “I will if you will.” He then storms out of the room.

 

 

 

 

 

©2015 ML Steele

Part 21

The Thanksgiving dinner party was underway once Linda and Ludvik joined the others in the dining room. The mood was jovial and the conversation steady, as the others noticed the new addition to Linda’s hand.

Katie begins “We have a wedding to plan!”

“And not a lot of time to get it done.” Paige chimes in.

Linda laughs, “We can just elope.”

Katie and Paige both drop their forks and stare at her, saying in unison, “ELOPE!” as if it were a curse word.

Ludvik adds, “We cannot elope Linda. I want to do this right.”

Linda interrupts, “But I can’t leave this apartment until the baby arrives.”

Again in unison, the girls say, “Then we will bring your wedding to you.” Large smiles on both of their faces. The two then clink their wine glasses together. “It is okay to toast with ginger ale Paige asks.” We all laugh, and the two of them continue on with their planning.

After dinner, everyone left. Everyone except for Ludvik that is. “What would you like to do Linda?” He asked.

“I would like to snuggle up on the couch and make up for lost time with you.”

“That sounds good to me.” Ludvik then pulls Linda in for a long passionate kiss. “I have missed you.” The two  settle in on the couch, Linda’s head finding a resting spot on Ludvik’s chest. “Linda, will you tell me why you changed your mind?”

Linda thought very hard for a moment, she had to be careful just how she worded what she said. “To be honest, I was very upset, probably more so than I should have been due to being pregnant. I thought a lot about what had happened, and what had occurred, and what will occur. And I realized, I can’t hold you responsible for a dream, or how it made you feel. It was very unfair. When Bjorn came by the other night…”

“Bjorn was here?”

Linda thought to herself, “Oh crap, I shouldn’t have said that.” Yes, he dropped off Katie for the girls’ night in.” Once again, she thought, “Good save.” Anyways, we talked a bit, and he told me I should call you.”

“Why didn’t you? I waited by the phone, hoping for a call or text, anything to tell me you forgave me.”

“I was worried you couldn’t forgive me. I had turned my back on you. You had a true fear, a life like dream and I threw you out my door, out of my house, and out of our lives.” Linda said rubbing her belly.

“I will not bring it up again,” Ludvik states,  “But for what it is worth, I didn’t want to ever leave you. I never will. I will stay by your side, for all of eternity.”

Linda kisses Ludvik, then she stands and pulls on his hand, leading him to the bedroom. “Pregnant women, are horny women Ludvik.” A small giggle escaping from Linda.

In Valhalla

“Why did you send for me Mimir?” Thor questions.

“Because you need to witness this, both of you.

Odin and Thor watch  the scene unfold at Linda’s once everyone had left, all the way up until Linda pulls Ludvik to her room. Mimir then closes the window to them.

“Remember the words that have crossed her lips Thor, if Vidar asks. You are to keep this secret until the proper time reveals itself. Is that understood?”

As much as Thor hated it, he knew he must follow orders. “Yes sir, I understand.”

“You may leave Thor, I believe you have to help plan a wedding. My advice, talk with Freya, she can help make it a magical day for them both.”

“I will do that Sir, and thank you.” Thor then heads out of Mimir’s office, and down the great hall towards the common area which most of the gods who were not working on anything specific converge.

Closing his door, and sealing it once more, Mimir began. “You know I have given Vidar the option of becoming human after the child is born.”

Odin looks very surprised. “You can do that? What did he say? Surely he will not end what he has here, for some woman and her child.”

“Her child Odin, the child is his. The child is your grandchild. How can you be so callous?”

Odin scoffs, “You do not get to be the god of all gods, by being tender hearted. You make choices that are best for what you want to happen. You do what you feel is right in your own mind. I have never had to answer to anyone until now Mimir. I could afford to be callous. I could afford to end the life of any I deemed fit.”

Mimir interrupts. “Ah, but you could not end the wolf, could you. The wolf ended you I do believe.”

Odin becomes angry. “You know what I mean. Why must you always bring that up.”

Mimir thought to himself, “Maybe to keep you in your place here Odin!”

“Alas,” Mimir starts. “Let us not argue over spilled milk. We know what we must get done. We know who must do it. And now, you know of the option I have given to Vidar. In the end, only he can make the choice. It will be his and his alone.”

“May I leave? Odin asks, rather brusquely.

“Yes, you may. But just remember all you have seen, and all you have heard. Time is not on our side. Many choices are going to come about very quickly. Be prepared for the outcome.”

Odin  storms out of Mimir’s office.

 

 

©2015 ML Steele

All Star Pickup Game

This is something that I wrote in the Nineties, so that means that there are a few 90’s pop culture references. So, in this little story, there is a bit of a competition between superheroes.

All Star Pickup Game

 

The thump of a basketball resounded throughout the empty space. The court stood, brightly lit in between zones of darkness on all four sides. The backboards glistened in the powerful lights, and the electronic scoreboard rang as each shot landed. The green numbers glowed brightly, not lending more illumination than was needed to see the score.

The two opponents moved steadily, with skills and stamina worthy of any NBA star. Rebound, fake and shoot; each man played to win. They only used half of the court, since there were only two players,

after all. This didn’t stop them from trying to get more points than the other.

Of course, the two weren’t ordinary men, out for a pickup game to have fun. The dark capes and cowls marked the duo as Batman and Robin, the crime-fighting team of Gotham City.

Batman stole the ball from his erstwhile partner and spun, releasing it quickly. Robin watched it sail into the basket, then grimaced. The Dark Knight was a point over him, and there wasn’t much time left. If he won again, Bruce Wayne would be insufferable.

Robin dribbled the ball expertly after having stole it, fending off the other man‘s attempts at grabbing the ball and trying to make him misstep. He glanced up at the clock and was appalled to see four seconds remaining. Batman’s grin was apparent, and a little smug. The Boy Wonder had to do something, so he did.

He lined up the shot, and ran to the basket. At the last moment, he leapt from the floor with cape luffing and smashed the ball into the basket. Batman, caught flat-footed, just stood and watched the younger man win the game. Robin let go of the basket, and landed lightly on the floor.

“And they say white men can’t jump!” Robin laughed.

The man in black shook his head and grimaced. He knew that line was coming. Batman strode off the court. He shook Robin’s hand and accepted defeat. Each section of the walkway lit up in a soft glow

as he trod on it. Robin followed, with the basketball under his arm.

“Personally, I think we could use some new competition.”

Robin glanced at him, wondering why he had said that. Wasn’t the Batman jealous of his privacy, and determined to protect it at any cost?

“Are you serious? Exactly who could we get to play, and would they really want to play?” he inquired, wondering if the older man had bats in his belfry. The Batman grinned. Twice in one day was unusual, so much so that Robin went on the alert. “Who, Bruce?”

Batman didn’t answer. He picked up a handset, and punched a number.

“Clark?… yes, it’s me… If you have the next few hours free, stop by… For what? I have a little pickup game planned… Yes, he’s here. A little disbelieving… a few minutes? Great..…

He listened for a moment.

“What’s that? I don’t think so. I’ll pound your Kryptonian butt into the ground like I did last time… Uh-huh, sure… Lois Lane? I don’t know… she’s a reporter… Yes, I know that, but she doesn’t fly around in tights and a bright cape, either…. You’re kidding. She was Ultra Woman?… Okay, bring her, but warn her about the usual things. I think we can let her in on the secret… See you in a few minutes.”

He replaced the phone to see his partner standing there with an open mouth.

What?”

Superman? You beat Superman playing basketball? Here? And how?!”

“He’s the Man of Steel, but Michael Jordan he ain’t. At least, not here. I’ve beaten him three times. He got lucky and beat me once, but that’s it. He’s really good at football, though.”

“Well, yeah. Nobody would want to tackle him.”

“He’s a big fan of the Bills.”

“Really? So am I. And how do you know him, and I don’t?”

The Caped Crusader looked at his partner. “Well, I met him about two years ago, but never had the chance to introduce him to you. He knows our secret identities, and I know his.”

“What?! Did he…?”

“No, he didn’t x-ray us. A good investigative reporter can figure out a lot, and me… well, you know me.”

“You said Lois Lane? She is hot! And she’s coming? Oh, man…” He trailed off, in an incoherent babble.

A gust of air interrupted the conversation. Superman appeared, with Lois Lane in his arms, blindfolded. She struggled to get down and he set her on the smooth floor of the Batcave. Robin gaped at her. With tight jeans and a t-shirt like that, he hoped she wouldn’t be playing. He’d lose in a heartbeat. He stood gazing at her nice figure, hoping he wasn’t drooling, until he noticed that the Man of Steel was watching him in a strange way. Batman seemed amused, tooas least, as amused at he usually appeared in uniform. Not counting the earlier amusement.

Superman took off the blindfold. Lois squinted at him, then looked around quickly. She couldn’t see the others, since they were in the shadows. Her whisper sounded loud in the caverns.

“Where are we?”

Batman stepped out of the shadows and that answered the question.

“The Batcave? I thought you were going to play basketball?”

“He is, Miss Lane… Or do you prefer Mrs. Kent?” She couldn’t reply. Her mouth was stuck open. Behind Batman, Robin too was having trouble, but with breathing. No wonder Superman had been

looking at him strangely. Her husband was Clark Kent, and he was…. Oh, God. Bruce had called him Clark. Clark Kent was rSuperman. He wondered if he should just go up and go to bed.

Lois, meanwhile, still trying to speak. “You… you know?” Batman nodded. She turned to the red-and-blue-clad hero. “And you didn’t tell me? I should….” Batman and Superman both leaned in to hear

what she said. “Ah… never mind. But, basketball??”

Batman spoke up to answer her question. “With his Kryptonian physiology, Superman may not be subject to a lot of things. However, Robin and I are. This is a good form of exercise, or something we

can do if we get bored. Kent there just can’t dunk a basket.”

“Very funny, Wayne. If I could use my floating powers in the game, I could. I suppose you want to rub it in. What about Boy Wonder Grayson?”

Lois creased her brow in thought, while the other three watched her.

“Wayne and Grayson? That sounds familiar…”

She stiffened. Superman shook his head and passed Batman a twenty dollar bill.

“Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson? Oh… my… God I gotta sit down.”

Robin got her a chair with amazing alacrity, and got one for himself close by. Superman grinned at Batman, watching Robin start to make a fool of himself. Batman shook his head and got two more

chairs. Lois smiled. She knew what was going on in the young man’s head. She moved just so, and the young man fell off his chair.

Superman looked at his wife with a disapproving eyebrow. Robin scrambled back into his chair and sat a little behind Batman.

“Now that we’re all seated, shouldn’t we get comfortable?” she asked. Robin shifted a little, unwilling to voice what he was thinking.

Batman interpreted the question correctly. “So you want proof of our identities?” He pulled his cowl back, and prodded the Boy Wonder to do the same. Robin did. Lois scrutinized them, then nodded. She then looked at her husband. “Well?”

“Well, what? Oh…” And he spun into a mild-mannered reporter.

“Wow!” Dick Grayson breathed. Bruce Wayne raised an eyebrow.

“That’s what I said, the first time I saw him do that. Show-off,” she added in a whisper, to Clark.

He thought for a moment, then decided to add a little something.

“How about we add another super-hero to the mix? And make it two on two?”

Bruce Wayne thought for a moment. “Is this someone who can be trusted, implicitly?”

“Yes, of course. Lois and I’ve known him for a long while. He can be trusted.”

“Who?!” This from Lois.

“Barry Allen.”

Bruce Wayne nodded. “The police scientist, in Central City. I know of him. Bring him along.”

Clark Kent nodded, then stood and spun into the red-and-blue. “If you’ll excuse me for a moment….” The others nodded and he disappeared.

Lois straightened her windblown hair and immediately started on Bruce Wayne. “You’re the Batman? You’re a legend! No wonder you have all those toys Clark is always lusting after! You can afford them and not even think about the cost!”

The billionaire smiled at the reporter. “I suppose. He likes some of my toys? Hmmm….” None of the subsequent prodding by Dick or Lois could pry out what he was thinking.

Dick decided to do something else. He might as well own up to it. “Ah… Lois?”

“Yes?”

“About how I was acting earlier….” Lois looked at him, waiting to hear what he said. Bruce was listening, too. “I made myself look stupid, gazing at you in front of your husband, didn’t I?”

Lois raised an eyebrow. “Yes, you did… but I’m used to it. Just don’t do it again, or Clark might have a word with you.” The young man gulped. He didn’t want a word with the Man of Steel, not without Kryptonite. She continued, now talking to Bruce, “Tell me which superhero Barry is, and why did he tell Clark and not me too?”

“You’ll see when he gets here, if he does, and as to why… I don’t know. I can only speculate. You see….”

* * *

Superman alighted in Central City and triggered the little button in the “no hurry” sequence. He hoped the Flash wasn’t doing anything important, but he wanted to play that game. Before his hand left the button, the man in red stood there. “Superman? What brings you here?”

“Not too much today. Are you busy, or can you spare the next few hours?”

“Sure. What for?”

“Are you interested in a friendly basketball game, in uniform?”

The Scarlet Speedster was confused now. “Huh? In uniform? I… Sure. I like basketball. Where, Clark?”

Superman looked and listened around. “The Batcave.”

The Flash’s eyes widened. “He plays basketball? Is he any good?”

Superman nodded. “He’s defeated me three times.”

“Well, that’s not too hard. You can’t dunk anything.”

“Thanks for rubbing it in. I think he’s played Bo Jackson a few times.”

“Sorry.” But Barry Allen really wasn’t. He was grinning. “Do I get to meet him out of costume?”

“You will; he’s the richest man there. Let’s go. You can follow me.” They took off.

Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne had rang Alfred for a meal fit for a king. Lois didn’t understand why, until he explained about the arriving hero’s physiology. “He eats like a horse because of his super-high

metabolism. He can burn off a double chocolate cake, with frosting and nuts, in about five minutes, if he’s exerting himself.”

Lois stared at him. “But what does all this have to do with him?”

“Barry Allen is from Central City, remember? It’s a long way, especially… running.”

Lois pondered this statement, while Bruce replaced the cowl. “He’ll be expecting the Batman, not Bruce Wayne,” he explained. Then the shadows swallowed him, and he disappeared.

“Spooky. You’re really spooky.” A deep chuckle sounded from nowhere, haunting the now-chilled marrow in her bones. She watched the spot where he was last seen and decided to keep that spot in

sight.

Superman arrived then. Lois took the opportunity to hug him. Then she looked behind him. “The Flash?! Barry?!” The man in the tight red suit grinned.

“Hiya, Lois. Clark here told me to expect a few questions.”

“I need to sit down again,” she groaned. “Who’s next, Peter Parker is Spider-man?” Superman traded looks with the Flash, which Lois didn’t see.

Flash looked around. “So, this is the Batcave. Nice and… roomy. Ah, where’s our host?”

Clark looked around, too. “I don’t see him. I see Robin, but I don’t see him.”

Robin came out and shook hands with the Flash. “Ah, guys, he does this to tweak a new toy. If Superman can’t see him, then it works. He’s here, somewhere. Batman’s given me a few heart attacks when he’s playing with it.”

Taking the hint, both Superman and the Flash started looking. After about ten minutes, they conceded defeat and turned to the other two. Barry spoke: “He’s well hidden. I can’t see him, and I see

things as fast as the boy scout here.”

The pair stood shoulder to shoulder. Lois sat watching the spot where he last was, and Robin was a little nervous. Better someone else should suffer, he thought with a small, smug grin. Two hands reached out and grabbed the duo’s shoulders. Superman zoomed up to the ceiling and the Flash shot over to the Batmobile. They remained there, trying to calm their racing hearts and racing minds, while Lois and the Boy Wonder collapsed in laughter.

The pair returned slowly and waited for the man of darkness to return. This he did in a somber manner. “I apologize for the shock, gentlemen, but I couldn’t resist.”

Superman spoke up. “You startled the hell out of us! Neither of us has any energy reserves left!” Flash nodded in agreement, a little shakily.

“That means we win by default,” Robin confided to Lois. She nodded. She never knew super-heroes were capable of such hi-jinks. Batman ignored the two sidekicks, and gestured to the side. There was a

table with a huge buffet, and a skylight opening to provide sunlight.

“Food for the Flash and his metabolism, and sunlight for Superman and his solar batteries. After all, I wouldn’t want you to lose because you have no energy, would I?”

Superman and the Flash looked at each other. “Oooh, that was low,” Lois said to her partner. Robin nodded. They watched the other two walk over to the table. Superman asked for a few peaches and

grapes, but the Flash got the rest. He ate at super-speed, and Superman guarded his peaches.

“Where does he put it?” Robin asked. “At least he’s got good skin tone.”

“I don’t think anyone would look at his face to determine that.”

Superman glanced up at that remark and looked down in time to see the man in red start toward the ripe peach he held. Superman decided to eat it before it got eaten by someone else. He was still spooked by the scare Batman gave him. It wasn’t expected, because the man in question was usually as somber as the grave.

Flash finished his meal. He wiped his mouth and straightened the table for Alfred. He looked to see if Superman had eaten the fruit, but it was gone. They looked at the court, where the Dynamic Duo stood. Batman was spinning the ball on his fingertip.

“Me and Robin against you two. And remember: no super-powers!” The ball never stopped spinning. Lois grinned, from her seat at half-court. Batman didn’t have super-powers, but he had an excellent grasp of psychological warfare. The Flash and Superman took their spots on the court.

The game began.

It was an epic battle. Superman, who couldn’t dunk a ball, bounced it off the backboard to the Flash, who could. It was good for two points, and stymied the other two. Of course, since they happened to be a great team, it wasn’t good again.

Being that Batman and Robin were partners, the ball was passed back and forth from one set of gauntleted hands to the next. Batman grabbed the ball and scored a three-pointer from the floor. Lois,

who found this more interesting than the usual games Clark watched, cheered her husband and his partner on. She didn’t know who would cheer on the home team, until she saw the sepulchral shape of the butler walking toward her.

“Miss Lane? May I?” He gestured to the seat next to her.

“Please! I can’t cheer for all of them!”

He chuckled dryly. He had brought popcorn for her, and a soft drink. They sat back and watched the battle raging on the court. Alfred confided to Lois that he had taught Bruce Wayne how to play

basketball, and that the younger man taught Dick Grayson. Alfred was too old to run around the court now, but he still enjoyed watching the games.

“Alfred, whose idea was it to put a basketball court down here? Wouldn’t that be a little out of character for the Batman?”

“Regardless of the persona that Master Bruce uses to fight crime, he is still human. I suggestedordered, reallythat he put this court here. This way, he and young Master Dick can bleed off stress and tension. It also provides the chance for others who share their fight to be with them, and let them know they’re not alone, no matter what costume they wear.”

Lois stared. This old man, a faithful servant, had the best interests of not only the Dynamic Duo at heart, but those of other heroes. She reached over and hugged him, then returned her attention to the game. Superman and the Flash were four points behind with ten minutes left. The players had agreed to not play out a four-quarter game, since that was ridiculous.

The home team had the ball, and pressed their leading advantage. Batman weaved through the Man of Steel’s attack, their capes providing a stark dichotomy. The Flash took the opportunity to steal the ball and score a couple of points. Then Superman took two free throws and sank both of them.

The buzzer sounded twice, giving them a two-minute warning. With the scores level at thirty-six points each, the two teams really poured on the effort. Not a basket was scored until Robin broke away with the ball and passed it to the Batman. No fool he, the man in black decided to emulate the younger man’s earlier success. Pounding his way to the basket, spinning around the Man of Steel and weaving around the Scarlet Speedster, his feet found flight and he slam dunked the unfortunate ball.

Superman grimaced. Batman and Robin would try to grab the ball and run out the clock. He didn’t want that to happen, and he didn’t want the game to go into overtime. So he took the ball and passed it to the Flash, who started weaving and letting the other two think he was going to the basket. As the clock ticked down to the last four seconds, he spun and shot the ball to the Man of Steel, waiting at the three-point line.

Superman didn’t pause. He released the ball at two seconds, and every breath in the Cave stopped. All eyes were on the ball, which suddenly seemed to be moving in slow motion. Lois willed it into the basket, but it would not be rushed. Robin willed it to be just short, but again, it would not be rushed.

The ball swished through the hoop a split-second before the final buzzer sounded. Flash shouted, “Yes!” and exchanged high-fives with Superman. Batman grinned at the two, because he had really enjoyed the game. Of course, he’d lost, but then again, winning wasn’t everything. At least in pickup games. Robin moaned a little, and walked to the edge of the court to the spectators after shaking hands with the victors. Batman followed soon after.

“You beat me againwith a little help, Kent.” Batman grinned.

“Well-ll, true. But just remember one thing.”

“What?”

“I still beat you. Here, let me see that ball.”

Batman handed it over, and watched Superman look toward the basket. He looked at the Flash. “I don’t think he’ll make it.”

“I don’t, either.”

Robin looked up. Superman had started toward the basket. “Twenty bucks says he does.”

“You’re on.” That was the Flash, with a smug expression. Lois and Alfred didn’t say anything, but witnessed the whole thing.

“Ditto,” the Batman agreed. Then they watched Superman gather himself, breathe in, and leap off his feet.

The ball went in. The molecular-bonded transparent aluminum backboard shattered.

Superman walked back with a happy smile on his face and noticed the shocked expressions on the faces of the Flash and the Batman. For that matter, on Robin and Lois. Alfred just shook his head. “What?”

Batman answered the Man of Steel’s puzzled question. “Never mind the fact that you just made the two of us lose twenty bucks apiece. That backboard should have withstood an anti-tank missile. And

where’s my ball?”

“Whoops.” Superman looked contrite.

Batman sighed. “Don’t worry about it. I’ve got spares.”

Robin was thinking about the easy forty bucks he won, when he spoke up. “You know, Bruce, I think we should have had Lois play with Clark here. Then we would have won.”

The other heroes had the same thought enter their heads at the same time, and it wasn’t about Lois playing. It was, “Uh-ohhhh.” They all took a few steps back, since none of them was sure that they

could withstand an all-out assault by Lois Lane. For his part, Alfred merely tsk’ed a few times.

Robin noticed. “What?” Actually, he didn’t have time to say even that before Lois grabbed him and towed him to the other side. She had found the spare ball and shot it toward the surprised young

man.

“Let’s see what you’ve got. I intend to massacre you.” Clark Kent knew the tone of voice. He sighed and motioned for the others to get comfortable. Robin wasn’t getting out of the hole he had dug for himself any time soon. The Boy Wonder’s protests went unheard as Lois proceeded to begin to beat the stuffing out of him.

Flash watched the game: Robin had decided he might as well play seriously, but it wasn’t helping. He turned to the man in blue during a break while the reporter danced around celebrating a particularly good shot.

“And you’re married to this Lois Lane?”

“I learned early on to do what she says.” Flash’s mask covered his face, but it was no large stretch of the imagination to picture an eyebrow rising. Alfred offered, in a dry way, to get a first-aid kit for the Boy Wonder. Batman said a broom and dustpan would be more appropriate. Superman chuckled. He well knew.

After thoroughly decimating Robin, Lois decided to really send him into a tailspin by kissing him on the cheek. She had seen that on a Mortal Kombat game and thought it would work for her. It did. The

younger man sank to his knees, begging for mercy.

Superman sighed and picked up the Boy Wonder. “Dick, are you sure you want Lois on my team?” Robin groaned. Apparently not. He took the young man to a seat and let him rest while the others talked shop. Soon, he was rested enough to join in and to accept the teasing Lois gave him.

Not long after that, though, it was time for everyone to leave. The Flash left first, since he had a long trip to make. Batman gave him a huge carbohydrate bar, and asked him to send a report on how it worked. Flash said he would and disappeared.

Next, Batman gave Lois and Clark a tour of his “toy” collection. The billionaire offered to give Superman anything there, except the Batmobile. Superman thought about it.

“Thanks, but I can leap tall buildings with a single bound. What good would this do me?”

Batman nodded, then opened a case. “Here’s something you might find interesting. I know even you can’t remember everything. Here’s a pocket computer that links with just about any computer network to gather or store information. Both Robin and I have the same thing on our belts, and I think you will benefit from it. It has a satellite link with the Batcomputer, and can access everything on it.”

Superman stared at it. It was barely bigger than a floppy disc.

“That little thing?”

Batman nodded. “Sure. It takes a little practice, but it’s yours if you want it.”

Superman didn’t hesitate. “I’ll take it!” Lois could see the gleam in his eyes. She knew he’d be playing with it for a while. She took it and stared at her husband. Batman grinned. Superman looked to the heavens.

“Bruce, how much did it cost?”

“For me, not much. It’s covered as an experimental design, so my R&D department paid for most of it. I’ll put the manual in the mail, as soon as I can get one printed up. Dick has the only copy, and he’s not giving it up. Take about four days.”

Lois looked at the two men. “Look, I hate to break things up, but I have things planned.”

Superman looked confused. “What do you have planned?”

“You’ll find out tonight,” she smirked.

Batman started walking back out, and the two followed. He set up a new game for the following week. He decided that, this time, he would beat both Superman and the Flash. In the meantime, he would

practice.

The End?

 

-JB Steele

Part 20

A long silence follows, which Bjorn finally breaks.  ”I will take those pies.” Then motioning with his head, “Girls, I think I hear the turkey calling us.”

Linda and Ludvik are left alone by the front door in the living room. “Happy Thanksgiving to you as well Ludvik.” Linda leans up and places a soft kiss on his cheek.

“You don’t mind me coming, do you? I can leave. It was all Bjorn’s idea. I mean, yes I wanted to come. I never wanted to leave.” Realizing he is rambling Ludvik says, “I will just shut up now.”

“I am very glad you came.” Linda moves in and hugs him, a long and strong hug.

“My word Linda, our little miracle has grown. Is everything going well with our child?” Ludvik seems a bit formal when speaking.

“Relax Ludvik, all is good with the baby. Troy is going to come by this week, and confirm it too. He even will try and get more pictures of our tiny acrobat that is if he sits still long enough.”

“He?” Ludvik questions.

“Yes, I have started referring to this little field goal kicker as a he.”

Ludvik’s face drops, as he thinks of all he has missed out on with his child over the last few weeks.

“Linda, I don’t ever want to fight or argue again. Okay?”

“I agree.” Linda then places her head on his chest. He reaches down and turns her head up so his lips meet hers. Softly his lips caress hers.

Bjorn clears his throat as he comes around the corner. “You guys ready for some turkey?”

“Almost,” Ludvik says. “There is one more thing.”

Ludvik then drops to one knee, and pulls something from his pocket. “Linda, I never want to spend a second apart again. I know this is rushed, and old fashioned. But we are having a baby. I want us to be married. I love you. I want to spend forever with you. And I’m rambling again, I’m sorry. I’m just really nervous and scared.”

Linda sinks to her knees. “Ludvik, are you sure? How can we?” She whispers, “You are a god, and a gargoyle, I don’t see how.”

“I have been given a choice. I can become mortal and live here on earth with you and my child after he comes. Mimir said I must give my decision by the New Year.”

Linda kisses Ludvik long and hard, she then exclaims “Yes, Yes Ludvik I will marry you.” Ludvik slides the ring on her finger, then hugs her once more.

 

©2015 ML Steele

Humor

Humor in Writing

Humor in writing can be a good thing. Humor can also be overdone. The problem as an author is finding that line between “good thing” and “too much.”

For instance, let’s say that our good friend Jack is in the story. You remember Jack – he was the one that found a body in the garbage a few posts ago. The head was rolling under the garbage truck. If you were to start cracking a joke about rotten melons, that could be in bad taste – unless it was from an established character that was shown to be rude and crude.

The guy that was with him in that post, Odell, didn’t get a lot of backstory in this snippet. I’ve imagined him as a jolly sort, an ex-Army infantryman that did a bunch of gruntwork in the service for four years and got out. If he cracked a joke, it could be dark humor or not much at all.

Say there’s this one guy that nobody likes to work with, who keeps them all on edge. He’s the rude and crude type I mentioned beforehand. Let’s look.

“Hey, Jack.”

Jack ignored him as best he could, but there wasn’t much question about who he was addressing. The young man sighed, still rattled by his discovery. He didn’t like the other man.

“What, Tommy?”

“Heard you had some excitement earlier. Found some deli special in the trash, huh?”

Jack’s face went white. He had held himself together as well as he could, but the jocular remark tipped him over. The young man grabbed the trash can and vomited noisily into it.

“Jeez, man, that was just a joke. Didn’t mean to set you off or anything. Whatsamatter, you can’t handle it?”

Still wiping his mouth, Jack pushed past the other man roughly and left the room. Tommy shouted after him, “Sorry you got your feelings hurt, you little snot!”

Odell came in, and looked around.

“Hey, man, maybe you should button it. It’s a shock to see something like that, and he’s young.”

“Aw, stuff it. I can’t help it if he’s just a widdle delicate baby.”

Odell stared at the other man.

“Look, he’s a hard worker. I doubt you would have done any better. You’re all talk, but I don’t see you offering to clean up. You just shut your mouth.”

So, one ill-advised joke from a character set up a scene there. Actually, if I had kept going, that would have been some physical stuff going on. Even as I write these words, I can see Odell beating the living crap out of Tommy. Hmm… maybe we’ll see that in another post.

Let’s put Jack somewhere else.

His day had been rough, and Jack decided that he was going to stop at the BBQ joint for dinner. The waitress took his order and started to turn away, when she looked at him again.

“Hey, sugar, you don’t look too happy. You ok?”

He smiled weakly.

“Just a bad day at work.”

She clicked her pen, and put her pad back in her pocket.

“You look like the south end of a northbound mule just sat all over you. Want to talk about it?”

He smiled again, a little stronger.

“Just some rough stuff I don’t normally see.” He looked up and saw that the TV over the bar was playing the news. He directed her attention to it. “Look at that.”

She watched, then shook her head.

“That’s just terrible!” He grimaced at her tone.

“I know. I’m the one that found it. Nothing like finding a body to make you want to lose weight.” She stared at him, her eyes wide.

“You poor man! I’m so sorry!”

“Yeah…”

“Lose weight?”

“Yeah, after seeing that, I didn’t want to eat anything. I’m not really sure I want to eat anything here, but I haven’t eat all day.”

“Honey, you can’t go all day without eating. You’re already skinnier than a board. You remind me of a strip of wood instead of a board. Come on, I’ll get you some bread on the house.”

“You don’t have to do that…” he protested weakly.

“Sure I do. I like my men healthy and well-fed. Otherwise, they can’t keep up and I run them down.”

So, you see, humor can help a scene along. And sure looks like Jack’s going to be going to this BBQ joint more often. That waitress is either really interested in him or she wants a good tip.

If you as a writer are good with puns, use them, but don’t go crazy with them. Bad jokes, same thing. Limericks, haiku, koans – all of that.

To use a food analogy, humor should be like mustard (or wasabi sauce if you’re like me and like spicy.) A little bit of mustard goes a long way, and a few lines of humor does, too.

Happy writing!

-JB Steele

Part 19

Thanksgiving Day has rolled around, and Linda is busy in the kitchen. This is her first time hosting a Thanksgiving celebration on her own. Most years, she has gone out or to a friends’ house, but this year she wanted her family near. Her new extended family.

“Knock, knock.” Paige says as she walks through the door. “It was unlocked so we came on in.”

“Oh hey, yes come on in. I’m elbow deep in making stuffing.”

Paige and Troy come into Linda’s apartment, carrying wine and ginger ale. “Oh bless you Troy, I forget about the wine since I can’t currently drink it.”

Troy laughs, “Actually it was Paige who thought of it. She reminded me how much she enjoys a good glass of wine with her meal.”

“And how I’m having to do without.” Paige adds, laughing as well.

Joining in Linda says, “Yes, but for the best of reasons,” She walks by and rubs Paige’s belly.

“Very true, Linda, Very true.”

“Linda,” Troy begins, how are you feeling? Any difficulties?”

“No, I feel good. No more nausea, and no complaints.”

“Well you look radiant. I will come by one day this week, and give you a check-up. Make sure everything is still on schedule with your tiny one. I can bring the portable ultrasound too.”

“Sounds good to me. Just give me a call, I don’t usually go anywhere. Even work is at home now. I get out on my terrace for a bit of sun every now and again, but I can’t risk anyone finding out about the tiny one.”

Troy smiles, “I understand. Soon enough, your baby will be here. And then you and Paige can walk stroller by stroller wherever you choose.”

“Yes, I know.”

Linda then returns to her cooking, Troy helping her, and Paige settles in on the couch.

An hour or two had passed. Linda had gone to shower and dress, for dinner. She had left Troy watching the turkey and setting the table.

Emerging from her room, “Oh! Do I feel, better. That shower works miracles.” Linda states as she enters the living room where Paige sits curled up on the couch.

“Linda, you look lovely. Your dress is beautiful.”

“You don’t think it’s too formal? Do you?”

Paige gets up and walks over, getting a closer look at the dress. “No, I love the way it sort of floats on your body. It looks beautiful, and also quite comfortable. I love the fabric, and the color, you look like fall all wrapped up in a package. The oranges, reds, and yellows really set off your eyes sweetie.”

“Thank you Paige, you really know how to boost a girl’s ego.” Linda throws a wink Paige’s way. Once again, there is a knock at the door. “Who is it?” Linda calls out.

Katie peeks her head in, “It’s us.”

“Oh come on in.” Linda moves forward and embraces Katie in a hug. “So good of y’all to spend the afternoon with me.”

“Of course sweetie, we are family now, all of us.”

“True. Where is Bjorn?”

“Oh he is bringing up some dessert. Paige, how are you feeling?” Katie questions.

“I’m doing pretty good, getting bigger by the second.”

The door opens once again. “Hey Linda, I brought a couple of pies, pumpkin. I hope that is okay.”

Linda starts, “Sure, just…” as Bjorn enters, and there standing, holding the pumpkin pies is Ludvik. “Happy Thanksgiving Linda.”

 

©2015 ML Steele

Emotional content

A few personal things lately have turned my thoughts to using emotion in your writing. Emotion is strong. I’ve said many times that love is the most powerful thing in the world, with greed running neck and neck with hate. While I don’t necessarily condone writing out hate since it can get you into serious trouble, there is an outlet for blowing off steam with the written word. If you are mad, write a scene where the players are royally ticked off. If you are sad, use the words as a catharsis and write it out. I’ve done that, more than once. If you’re happy-happy-happy, then write that too.

However, there is a limit. If you write something that has waaaaay too much pain, then your reader could desert you – and your story won’t be told. Or hate. I can think of several things off the top of my head that is nothing but hatred and no story. Those are terrible. Love? Well, love is wonderful and it can make you feel great – and if you transfer that feeling to your story and by extension your reader, then you might have something they will come back for again and again.

Be realistic. In real life, people do get married within days of meeting and have long, happy, fulfilling marriages, but this is not the norm. Nowadays, a single person has to be careful. By this same token, a fictional romance shouldn’t be immortalized within the bounds of a few pages. It should be stretched out. On the other side of that same token, something hateful should be long. In fact, look at Game of Thrones. The Lannisters have lasted how many pages?

When you sit down at the keyboard, or your writing pad, you have your state of mind to either help or hinder you. Use it. If you’re blocked, then get up from the computer or whatever and take a break. Sometimes, I just close what I’m working on and write about something else.

Of course, sometimes, it isn’t wise to write when you’re at an extreme of emotion. Just like with the spoken word, written words can be regretted. Text messages come to mind.

For the most part however, you can harness your emotional state and produce powerful work. Writing, music, painting, sculpture, whatever. I’ve done this. I wrote a piece that was almost 7,000 words in four hours. I can tell you that after that burst of energy was expended, I was simply exhausted.

Fear, love, heartache, hate, joy, longing, desperation, happiness – these are only a few of the range of human emotion that can propel a creative work. If you can tap into these and write truthfully, then you will write with a rawness and power that cannot be denied.

For instance, Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald wrote a piece after 9/11. He had a piece ready to submit to his editor, but when he heard about what had happened he sat down and wrote out a piece called, We’ll go forward from this moment, and it was pretty raw the day after.

So write out what you feel. You might be surprised.

Happy writing!

-JB Steele