Monday, January 27, 2014

"Fairies Under Glass" Excerpt: The Flight of the Gryphon

 The gryphon caught my eye.
            In my eagerness over Farvardin, I'd completely forgotten about it. A sudden curiosity washed over me as I looked into those fiery eyes. Apprehension similar to what I'd felt about Farvardin crept in on curiosity's heels as I glanced down at the long, sharp claws and the powerful, muscular legs. Would it be as amiable as Farvardin turned out to be? What if it was hostile? Everyone thus far had been pretty friendly; I had no cause to believe the gryphon would be any different. Besides, I knew the only way to really know what would happen was to just do it. Resolutely, I hung the chain on its neck.
            It blinked once and instantly leapt upon me, digging its claws into my shoulder. It was evident by the outrage in its eyes that it most likely assumed I was in league with Krasimir. I wondered what the man had done to them.
            "No, I'm a friend!" I yelled.
            The gryphon ignored me and bore me upwards toward the ceiling, flying quickly with powerful strokes of its strong wings.
            I reached up and tried to pull the claws out of my shoulder, "I'm a friend! I'm not with him!"
            We were now nearly touching the ceiling of the exhibit hall. The gryphon riveted its golden gaze upon me, and I knew exactly what it intended to do.
            "Oh no, please, NO!" I begged, but I felt those huge claws leave my shoulders, and I plummeted thirty feet to the floor of the exhibit hall below, screaming all the way.
            The floor was coming up fast when the gryphon suddenly dove and caught me again with a force that knocked the wind out of me. I glanced over my shoulder and saw that I was only inches from the floor. Flapping slowly, with broad strokes, the gryphon gripped me tightly as it lowered me to the floor. When my back finally touched, it still pressed downward, as if meaning to crush me beneath its lion's paws. The head bent close to my neck, the curved beak snapped threateningly, the eyes narrowed dangerously--
            and widened quickly, as the gryphon suddenly raised its head slightly and cocked it to the side. I heard a faint jangling.
            Sheerya had come to my rescue!
I saw the faint glimmer of her wings as she endeavored to explain who I was to the enraged gryphon.
            The gryphon kept its eyes on me all the while, cocking its head back and forth to get a good look at me.
            Finally, it stepped off my chest and allowed me to get up, which I did very slowly and carefully. My shoulders stung, and my legs were still shaky after the scare I'd had. I held out an open hand toward the gryphon as I stood.
            "Easy, boy, I'm not gonna hurt you. Good boy--"
            With a growl, the gryphon head-butted me back down again! It raised a claw like it wanted to dismember me.
            A small voice tickled my ear with the whisper, "It's a she
I turned my head just in time to see Sheerya exit a small window near the ceiling, where she had probably entered in the first place.
            "She?" I echoed, looking back at the gryphon. "You're a female?"
            She grunted, which I understood to mean, "Yes."
            I stood up again, and this time, the gryphon did not react. I could only stand and stare at her. She was a bit shorter than Farvardin, about the size of a pony, with the head of a golden eagle, and feathers down to her shoulders, where her body took the shape of a lion, with huge claws and a tail.
            I thought perhaps now that we had established non-enmity, probably the most proper thing for me to do next was introduce myself. I pointed to myself, "Casey," I said slowly.
            The gryphon tapped a paw on the ground. "Kshh-eee,
" she cried, and it sent chills down my spine to realize that she was trying to say my name. "K-khh-shee! Kaah-sseee!"
            The gryphon raised a paw, "Ah-kree! Aaah-kree!
" she screeched, telling me her name.
            "Ackree?" I tried to interpret.
            She growled like a lion and bucked her head, trying again, "Ahh-kree! Akhh-ree!"

            I tried to imitate the screech, hoping to get it right this time. "Akhh-rie?" I called. (Linda giggled soundlessly as she watched us.)
            She grunted, "Yes."
            I tried saying the name, "Akhrie?" I grunted the "kh" sound in my throat, like the German "/ch/".
            "Yes," Akhrie grunted a second time.
            She watched me as if she expected me to do something. I watched her for the same reason. I knew that to make friends with a dog, you put your hand out and let it sniff you, but a gryphon? How do you befriend one of those?
            Akhrie slowly circled me as I stood still. When she returned in front of me, she was so close I could almost touch her.
            "Hey Casey," Linda whispered, "stick out your hand."
            Dare I? Without thinking, I put out my hand. Akhrie looked at it hungrily. "She looks like she wants to bite it off or something," I remarked to the giantess.
            Akhrie crept closer, so close I could feel her feathers just barely brush my fingertips. I gently brought my hand down onto her silky, soft head. Akhrie did not move away, but made a warm, happy sound in her throat. I stroked the feathers, and the happy sound swelled louder.
            I was surprised at how soft her feathers were; it was like stroking rabbit's fur. I petted Akhrie's head, and had to step quickly aside as she joyfully stretched her forelegs forward, cat-like, as her tail stood upright and twitched pleasantly.
            A long, relaxed croak escaped her beak as I moved my hands down her back. I scratched her shoulders, and she suddenly darted away from my hands.
Without warning, Akhrie's head suddenly appeared between my legs as she lifted me off the ground astride her back. She unfurled her wings in front of my legs, and before I could react, she screeched loudly and launched herself into the air! I desperately grabbed the Chain around her neck because it was the only thing I had to hold onto as we zoomed in wide, graceful circles around the hall.
Linda watched us, laughing joyfully. She extended her arm, and Akhrie landed on it, gripping with her claws like a bird of prey.
            "Lucky you, riding a gryphon!" she exclaimed enviously, "I wish I could be your size!"
            I didn't answer right away because the flight had just about taken my breath away. It was like nothing I had ever done before, the exhilaration of riding astride such power, hurtling through the air at speeds only possible in a car! The sheer magnitude of it left me gasping.
            "Linda, this is the most amazing thing I've ever done!" I told her, and Akhrie took off again.
She flew circles around Linda's head a few times, and then took a low zig-zag course around the exhibit hall, deftly avoiding all obstacles. She ended our flight in front of her display.
            Akhrie had to crouch a bit so I could climb off her back.
            "Thank you," I said, stroking her neck like a horse. She leaned closer; I could tell she liked it.
            As we stepped up onto the platform, I thought how fortunate it was that she was shorter than Farvardin, so I could get the Chain off easier. I pulled the Chain off, and as soon as it was not touching her, she crouched and froze as I had found her.

As I walked back to the dorm, ... I shook my head, remembering how long it took me to submit my application for an interview in the first place. I'd never been anyone you'd consider self-confident at all. But my interactions with the Phantasmians were gradually changing me.
            I wondered as I fell asleep what further changes the next days would bring.

            Krasimir Schlimme waved his hand, and the great doors seemed to open before him on their own. In reality, they were pushed back at his signal by two grey goblins disguised as gargoyles. Krasimir passed over the gruesome creatures as if they really were made of stone.
            His cutting grey eyes scanned the sanctum. This was his inner room. Very few people—of the human variety, anyway—ever saw the inside of this room. The goblins all around the door saw that no one entered without Krasimir’s knowledge.
            Here in the privacy, alone with his creatures, Krasimir could cast aside his philanthropic, eager young artist and businessman persona like a Halloween mask. He crossed to the middle of the room.
            “Adolf!” he barked. The werewolf’s long, lean, slinking form materialized beside him.
            “What do you wish, Master?” Adolf growled meekly.
            Krasimir stood with his hands crossed behind his back. He gazed upon the centerpiece of his travels to Phantasm, the crown jewel worth more to him than anything else he owned. The one thing so valuable that he dared not even touch the pressure, temperature, motion, and moisture-sensitive transparent case designed specifically for it:

The Gyth of Phantasm.
Krasimir’s acquisition of such a priceless artifact was really too simple.

He had been tracking the red-horned unicorn all over that cursed fantastic world, and had seen the gem gleaming on its breast. Near the end of the chase, he had noticed a flash of light in the dry grass. The gem lay loose, as if it had fallen off the fleeing unicorn. The animal he caught soon afterwards, and now both treasures were his.
Every source he could find on the subject told him that, given the elusive nature of the unicorn, and its integrity, purity, and loyalty, it was usually the guardian (if at all) of the most precious and the most powerful things. This one had guarded the Gyth.
And now Krasimir owned the Gyth.
“Adolf,” he whispered in awe before such a rare, fantastic item, “hear what I wish: I wish to know the secret to the power of the Gyth.”
With such power, people like old man Gilroy, and that junior janitor—what was his name? Rankle? Well, he certainly rankled Krasimir—would not matter, because Krasimir Schlimme would be able to—what? Turn them into dust, or some heinous creature, or even control them, maybe; who knew? At any rate, that power, Krasimir knew, would be great indeed.
Krasimir wanted that power; and when Krasimir wanted something, Krasimir got it.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Serial Saturday: "The Misfortune Cookie", Part 1

The odds of picking a single, predetermined paper out of a fortune cookie? Incredible.

The odds of that paper having something to do with a terrorist plot? Only in the movies.

The odds that the cookie with the deadly message would actually make it to the correct event without anyone getting suspicious? Fairly slim.

The odds that the specified cookie, bearing time-sensitive material, would make it out of the package in time for the intended recipient to receive it, still without anyone noticing? Slimmer than a toothpick.

The odds that out of 250 guests, 20 trays of fortune cookies, 100 cookies on each tray, moving randomly around a exhibit hall the size of a football field, that a single uninvolved person totally unaware of the plot just might intercept the carefully planted message? The same as trying to knock a star out of the sky with a pea-shooter.

The odds that, out of everyone not involved in the plot currently mingling in the exhibit hall, the person would be me? 


I knew I shouldn’t have come; this was going to be the one time I could actually say “NO” when my girlfriend suggested attending an event concerning something I wasn’t interested in. It should have been the beginning of a time when I took charge of my relationships instead of allowing my significant other to drag me all over creation behind her. The time when I stepped forward and took my place among Real Men In Relationships.

And I had the gall to pick up the Wrong Fortune Cookie.

What you are about to witness must be taken with the utmost security. I would begin by introducing myself, as a name might add credibility to my story, but I have long since learned that such an action will only expose me to greater danger than what I have only just overcome. I’ve changed the names of the people involved (especially my girlfriend) to protect them from those who might want to do them harm, or find me, but the circumstances are all intact. If you recognize the details, you know who I am. If you don’t, well, let me just say the world is that much safer for you.


The night of the Asian Exhibition Grand Opening Gala, I had pulled out all the stops. My girlfriend--we’ll call her Mina--had always been the forefront of our relationships. “Let’s go!” she would beg me, smiling and moving in close, “It’ll be so much fun!” Yeah, right; don’t get me wrong, occasionally she’d hit on an activity we both managed to enjoy, but she was definitely more adventurous than I was. We’d been skydiving, parasailing, she got me onstage at an open-mic stand-up comedy night at some pub I’d never even heard of on the far side of town (I actually did pretty well, the audience laughed out of courtesy, and cheered when I left the stage), bungee jumping, together we rode every ride in the amusement park, even the super-fast, super-tall roller-coasters and the rides that flip you upside down and spin you around in forty different directions, and crazy stuff like that. I loved Mina, she was beautiful, especially the way she smiled when she was trying to convince me to do something I didn’t particularly want to do. Everything I did, I did because I wanted to be with her--and because a relationship isn’t much without dates, and I couldn’t come up with ideas on my own. We did what she came up with because if it were up to me, we’d spend a lot of evenings at my house eating dinner and finishing the evening with a movie.
The morning she mentioned the Asian Gala, however, I knew this had to stop. Unable to come up with something to top the Gala that we both could do together, I spent the day trying to make myself unavailable for that evening. Four o’clock, she shows up at my house with 2 tickets, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
“Mina,” I try telling her, “I just don’t feel up to going to an Asian exhibition tonight. You know I get bored at museums!”
“Oh Josh! (*Not my real name)” she says, smiling again, “It’s gonna be the most spectacular thing you’ve ever seen! This isn’t just a boring old museum where you walk around and look at stuff! This is the Grand Opening Gala! I had to hunt through several sources to get these tickets, but everyone there is treated to a full Chinese banquet, there will be dancers, it’s just a place to soak in the sights and a museum experience you’ll never get anywhere else! I promise I won’t make you do anything there that you don’t want to do, just please come with me, Joshie! Pretty please?”
The word “No” was on the tip of my tongue, but the more she talked, the more it sounded kinda nice, actually. I sighed, “Oh, all right.”
“Yay!” Mina cheered, bouncing like a little girl and clapping her hands, “It’s a black tie dinner, and pick me up around five-thirty! See ya!”

An hour and a half later, I pulled up in front of Mina’s house wearing a tux, just like she wanted. She met me outside, ridiculously excited about the evening’s impending events.
“This is going to be so much fun!” she gushed, kissing me on the cheek. “I’m so glad you are doing this with me! You won’t regret it, I just know it. It’ll be a night we’ll remember for a long time! Maybe you’ll even find something interesting there.”
“I doubt it,” I told her, “but, okay.”

We drove down to the National Museum, the one receiving the Asian pieces for the Exhibition. The place was aglow with lanterns and torches and vivid colors, mostly red. A twelve-foot-long dragon snaked among Chinese acrobatic dancers at the center of the  ballroom. The twanging of zithers, dulcimers, erhus and flutes periodically emerged above the hubbub of voices. Mina bustled around the room, gazing bright-eyed at everything. There were vases, tapestries, sculptures, and reconstructions of ancient armor and ceremonial robes. Pretty much your normal museum stuff, I still couldn’t figure out what the fuss was about, other than this was the biggest event the city had ever seen in a long while. At about seven, a gong quieted most of the noise in the room, and a little Asian man--the master of ceremonies--announced over the microphone that dinner was served. We all took places at the many tables around the room and awaited service.
Mina and I sat at the table with another couple, and a single man. I felt like the odd one out when I discovered that the couple were both as enthusiastic about Asia as my girlfriend, while the single guy turned out to be a professor of Ancient China from Columbia University in New York. They all raved and babbled about the exhibits, while I sat patiently through the dinner, trying several interesting-looking dishes (a word about Chinese food: stay away from the soups, but anything that looks appealing generally is), as each course came by on a platter. At last, dinner was over, and we were all invited back to the ballroom to witness an authentic Chinese concert and dance performance.

The performers were quite good; I confess they had me almost mesmerized. I almost missed the tray of fortune cookies as it skimmed by, supported by an Asian woman. I selected my cookie and carelessly snapped it open. It broke clean across the center.
“Ooh, no crumbs!” Mina whispered, “It means your fortune will come true!”
I shook my head. I just wanted the cookie. I moved to tuck the paper in my pocket, but Mina stopped me.
“No!” She hissed, grabbing my hand, “What does it say?”
I glanced at it, expecting some platitude like “You light up the room with your enigmatic personality.”

What I got was: “Set timer at 2200. Southeast corner, left column.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Inkweaver" Excerpt: The Rise and Fall of Morgianna Plontus-Byrmingham

Once we reached the road again, I started thinking about the tapestry. Where did we need to go next?
As if she could read my mind, Larryn reached into my pack and pulled out our "map." She spread it out, and I could tell right away that it held more detail, more pictures. The scenes of Gramble and Stania and Mirrorvale were overlapping and closely packed at the bottom of the tapestry, while the blackrope forest and Naten's hut were very close together. My eyes found the familiar signpost that pointed the way to Aberon, and I understood that this town would be our next destination. The Inkweaver (or the magical ink; I could not be sure) thought to include many people in the illustration of the road and the town. The more I stared, the more they seemed to mill about and interact with one another.
"So," I flinched as Belak's voice issued right next to my ear, "Where are we going next?"
I rolled up the tapestry quickly; had Belak seen the part that depicted the discovery of having no food that precipitated our detour to Pierson's house? Perhaps the Inkweaving was magic after all; otherwise, how could she have known about that?
I pointed down the road that would take us back to the cross with the signpost. "We're heading on to Aberon, as far as I can tell," I answered.
Belak laughed, "You know, most girls would benefit from a lesson in map-reading."
"As much as most boys would benefit from lessons in housekeeping!" Larryn retorted cheekily.
Hearing my friends tease each other actually brought a smile to my face. All the heaviness and worry I’d carried over the last few days seemed to shift to the back of my mind, like I left it behind with Junea and her squabbling brood. I wondered if some of Larryn’s adventurous spirit had spread to me as I picked up my head and traversed the road before us with renewed energy.

We reached the crossroads and found it unoccupied. The woman standing beneath the signpost wore the fanciest dress I’d ever seen: all rich, glittering fabrics and lacy bodices and voluminous hoopskirts. She dragged a large steamer trunk mounted on a wheeled platform behind her. The woman squinted up a the various destination markers, and in that movement, noticed the four of us walking toward her.

“Hello, there!” she called as we approached. She seemed to move with definite purpose down the road from a village called (according to the signpost) Hemptor.              
Flaming-red lips grinned widely at us as we gathered around her. Standing with the woman, I saw her face smeared and coated with heavy amounts of paint and makeup. The effect was rather garish and excessively theatrical, but she seemed friendly enough.
She sighed and dropped the handle of the trolley that carried her trunk, easing her hoopskirts from around her shapely legs so she could seat herself upon it.
“Fancy meeting friends on my journey!” she bubbled. “I don’t know what I would have done if I had to walk all the way into town so completely on my own!” She smiled widest of all at Belak, whom I could tell was doing his admirable best not to stare at the topmost trimmings of the remarkably thin waist the woman displayed, which looked even tinier in comparison with the wide skirts beneath it.
“Would you like to join us?” I invited her more out of courtesy than desire.
The woman jumped to her feet with alacrity that made her dress flounce temptingly. “Well, honey,” she smiled at me like I was the hero of everything, “I thought you’d never ask! Oh!” She placed a gloved hand over her mouth—hovering, not touching, lest she leave lipstick on the white lace—and blushed. “Where are my manners? My name is Morgianna Plontus-Byrmingham, but you all can call me Morgie.”
I was glad she gave an alternative; I was very interested in getting to know this exuberant woman, but there was no way I would be able to carry on a conversation with Miss Plontus-Byrmingham!
“A pleasure to meet you, Morgie,” I said, giving the proffered hand a congenial squeeze. “My name is Shereya and these are my friends: Larryn, Greyna, and Belak.”
Morgie only had sea-blue eyes for one face. “Charmed, Belak,” she murmured absently.

I made sure to send clear signals to match Morgie’s obvious intentions by slipping my arms around Belak. The way he placed one hand on my back and used the other to clasp my hand told me he agreed with my intuition. Once our silent tableau was established, I continued, “We are headed to Aberon; where are you going?”
Morgie’s face beamed like a comedy mask in a stage play. “Why, I was just on my way to Aberon, as well! Isn’t that lucky?” She tittered softly.
I smiled and pulled away from Belak, though we kept a firm hold on each other’s hand. “Lucky indeed,” I agreed. “Let us continue, then!”
Morgie picked up the handle to her trolley and we continued down the road to Aberon.

After Larryn’s continuous broaching of uncomfortable subjects and Greyna’s reticence, it felt wonderful to travel with a companion who had no idea who I was or of the true nature of our journey—and instead preferred to talk about something else entirely.
I merely asked her to tell me about herself, and Morgie launched into a long tale that reminded me of one of the Inkweaver’s stories—but I was sure I’d never heard this particular one before. She prattled about the miserable hovel where she had lived, with no hope and no future—then one day, she received notice that Count Bergen—who had the king’s ear in Gramble—was going to provide a banquet in his royal hall at Aberon, and everyone who could arrive on a certain day (the very same day in which we were traveling) could be admitted to attend the banquet.
“It is my chance, Shereya!” Morgie gushed. “I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life, and now it has come! And once I am seen in the Count’s court, no doubt I will be noticed by some impressive courtier and he will offer to take me away from my life of poverty and all my problems will be answered!”
Beside me, Belak snorted, “And what if that doesn’t happen?”
Morgie was nonplussed. “Well then, at least I will be able to get work of some kind in Aberon. There’s just no chance of that in Hemptor—Aberon’s the place to be!”

We crested a hill, and there in the valley before us stood the village of Aberon—though it did look more like a city. A high gate straddled the road entering the city, a thick stone archway chiseled with the name ABERON. Morgianna instinctively drew herself up and whispered to me, “Watch me and do as I do.”
I tried to walk with the same stilted stride that she used, but failed miserably in my sensible boots. Morgianna flounced us right by the armored guards standing watch on either side of the arch. By the time we crossed the threshold into Aberon, she was grinning. She drew a long breath.
“Ahh! Absorb it, my friends! Take it all in!” she raved. “Aberon, the glory of Gramble! Everyone who is anyone must have visited Aberon at one time or another. There is a distinct level of quality that makes this great city famous.” She finally turned to us and frowned. “Unfortunately, that is not it,” she indicated our clothing with an outstretched finger.
“These?” Larryn examined her drab-yellow dress that was the brightest color to be had in Mirrorvale. “But Morgie, these are the only clothes we have.”
“Oh, I’m not just talking about the clothes dear!” Morgianna tittered. She seemed to be talking more to me than to the others. “Come with me! I’ll show you Aberon style!”
“No offense,” Greyna spoke up, her voice mousier than ever after Morgianna’s boisterous prattling, “but I think we’re all agreed that we should save our money for the things that we actually need. It’s a long way yet to Gramble.”
Morgianna slowly bent her sparkling eyelids toward me. “I think Shereya would agree that, to experience Aberon fully, you all need makeovers. As for the money, don’t worry about it!” She reached into her handbag and pulled out a thick scroll. “Once I receive my placement, the crown will handle all my expenses. I’m keeping a bill for that purpose. I’ll just add everything you get to my tab!”
Belak, Larryn, Greyna, and I exchanged glances; my first reaction was the distinct impression of wrongdoing. “You mean we’ll be getting items and services and promising to pay for them later—without any guarantee that it will happen? Isn’t that akin to stealing?”
Morgie waved a manicured hand. “Oh, it’s going to be paid, Shereya, dear! We aren’t stealing it—entirely,” she added after a pause. “Now, come along!”
I stepped forward—and immediately noticed that I was the only one. Belak and the other girls hung back. I turned to him.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
Belak held his ground, “You can go ahead if you want to, Shereya; we’ll wait here for you.”
“Yes, go ahead,” Greyna encouraged, “You deserve something special; it’s more your style. Larryn and I, we’re too plain and too—“
“Rambunctious,” Larryn cut in, “Going to a party—blech!” She made a face. “You can have my share, Shereya.”
The more they talked, the more Morgie tugged, the more I knew I wanted to attend this party. We had no high-class cities like Aberon near Mirrorvale, and I hated speculating, so there would be nothing I would like more than being able to see it and experience it firsthand. I stepped up next to Morgianna.
“Now then!” the woman cried.

Such a day we made of it! Morgianna took me to the beautician who styled my hair and painted my face to look the latest style, we visited the seamstress and the millinery and got ourselves the finest gowns we could find. Meanwhile, Morgianna instructed me in all the ways I must behave as a high-born lady. She knew a lot about how to act like upper society, the way I must carry myself and the way I must speak. When Morgianna talked, it was not just idle speculation or the wretched daydreaming of the story-chasers—it felt like it could really happen, and moreover, that it would, as long as we “played our cards right,” as Morgianna phrased it.

By evening, we were both ready, and it was time to enter the ball. I wore a brown silk brocade gown with many tucks, and gloves up to my elbows, and I tip-tapped over the stones of the Count’s courtyard like a lady of state. A footman escorted the two of us to a banquet hall. I stopped and gasped.

The room was fairly lined with tables, and all the tables were piled high with food. There was enough space in that one room to hold my house and Larryn’s at the same time. People in fancy clothing were chatting with one another and the whole company had just began to take their seats at the tables. The tables at the front of the room were filling faster than the ones at the back. I guessed it was because the Count and his officials were all seated at the head table. I started to move toward one of the back tables (I cared more about participating than about my position in the room), when Morgianna caught my elbow.
“Follow my lead!” she whispered in my ear.
I scuttled behind Morgianna as she went straight for the last two empty seats at the table just lower than the head table. Grinning and chatting amiably with the overstuffed, deaf lords on either side, Morgianna pretended that she was doing what came absolutely natural as she claimed the seats for us and sat down without missing a breath. We had done it! We were sitting right in front of Count Bergen’s table—the two of us were certain to be noticed by everyone in the room!

The hubbub of conversation died down, but before the meal could begin, the doors of the banquet hall opened again, and a late-arrived couple entered. Count Bergen stood and greeted them fondly, and then—with all eyes upon him—turned and walked straight up to our table—straight up to Morgianna and I—and in a clear voice, so that everyone in the whole hall could hear him in the breathless silence, he spoke to us.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know who you are—but did you not see that those seats had been reserved for my personal friends?” said the Count.
There was an awful pause, and someone had the nerve to giggle. That giggle prompted more soft laughter, and by the time a waiting-man had helped us from our chairs and led us to the table at the furthest corner of the room, we were certainly the center of attention—we were the laughingstock of the whole banquet. Suddenly I wasn’t hungry for the glazed delicacies and rich cakes of the party. Everything felt as fake and empty as Morgianna’s painted face.
I turned to the footman. “Please, don’t worry about finding me a seat; I would like to leave.”
“You’re leaving?” Morgianna spluttered. “B-b-but we’ve only just begun!”
I shook my head, “No, Morgianna; it is over. I’m going to rejoin my friends. I hope you enjoy your banquet.”
The footman showed me to the door, and even after the castle doors closed behind me, I could still feel the laughter of those rich, noble-born guests ringing in my heart. The words of my dream came floating back as I walked through those quiet, dark streets alone. “As the mirror reflects the face, so a person’s heart reflects the person…Those who work hard will be rewarded, but those who only talk of it are sure to be ruined… A quiet, simple life is better than a shallow, showy life… The last one I remembered was the one that seemed to speak of my own situation:  

Don’t take the best seat at a party; it is better to be found at the foot of the table and welcomed to the head, than for the host to ask you to move down in front of everyone.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hit List: Top 5 Acting Couples/ Sibling Pairs

Ladies and Gents.... it's time for another Hit List! This one is dedicated to some truly splendiforous acting couples who portray couples on-screen and it's adorable to see. As an advocate of family and siblings or spouses working together at something (goodness knows I'd like to share my penchant for writing with a sibling!), it just warms the cockles of my heart to see that family dynamic carried over to the silver screen. So, without further ado (and in no particular order)...

Top 5 Acting Couples

John and Joan Cusack--David and Liz Gordon (Martian Child)

*Taken from

(Granted, it's not the best picture, but it's a scene of the two of them together, so it works)

These two... are basically the reason I even watched this movie. I mean, I think I probably found out earlier that they were siblings, but after watching them argue with each other in a certain scene in Martian Child, I KNEW. And I loved it. Separately, John and Joan are reputable actors in their own rights. Put them in front of a camera together, and you can pretty much tell who's the older sibling.

Seamus and Juliana Dever--Detective Kevin Ryan and Jenny Ryan (Castle)

*Taken from

 D'awww!! THEY'RE SO CUTE!!!!! *happysigh* Readers of my blog, say "Hello" to my FAVORITE COUPLE on one of the best crime shows on TV! Detective Ryan was my favorite character from Day 1.... so when a girlfriend named Jenny materialized, I got a little excited... and when I found out that it was HIS WIFE--I just about swooned. There's something remarkable when a married couple gets to share their love for each other onscreen. Just the way he looks at her, you can see a dynamic between them that doesn't quite make it to actors who are only pretending to be a couple. I positively adore watching these two!

James and Oliver Phelps--Fred and George Weasley (the "Harry Potter" Series)

*taken from
Pretty sure that's James on the left... But don't quote me on that! (Unless I'm right, in which case, quote as much as you like!) There's something magical when fictional twins are played by real-life twins--especially since I have only ONCE seen twins successfully portrayed by a single actor. (Freddie Highmore in The Spiderwick Chronicles, if you're wondering, but I've already mentioned that in an earlier Hit List)
These two thoroughly embraced their roles as twin brothers Fred and George in the Harry Potter movies--enhanced, no doubt, by their "lifetime of knowledge." Watching them grow their characters from two little mirror-images constantly confusing their mother to two distinct yet inextricably connected brothers in their own right was wonderful to behold.

Anna and Freddie Popplewell--Susan Pevensie (Chronicles of Narnia) and Michael Darling (Peter Pan)

*taken from
 Betcha didn't see this one coming, eh? It's true. According to IMDb, young Freddie landed his first and only film role quite by accident. Apparently his older sister Anna (whom we all know as Susan Pevensie) came to audition for the role of Wendy in Peter Pan, and little brother tagged along. When asked to read a scene between Wendy and Michael, there was no one else to read with her, so Freddie obliged--and did so well that he landed the role, while poor Anna eventually lost out to Rachel Hurd-Wood. The family resemblance at this point might be slim, as Anna has dark hair and all we have are Freddie's unmistakably ginger little-boy shots, but the more one compares the two--it's there, trust me!

Martin Freeman and Amanda Abbington--John and Mary Watson (Sherlock)

*taken from

I still remember watching the Series 3 premiere and thinking, "Wait... Isn't that his real-life wife?" The friend I was with remarked that the actress looked very similar, but it couldn't be.
She totally is. I totally called that one.
Once again, we have a case of "real-life-wife-plays-girlfriend-who-becomes-screen-wife." And as with the Devers on Castle, it just couldn't get any more adorable! She may have been playing his girlfriend at first, but she is most undoubtedly his wife, from the way she notes his discomfort when he is preparing to propose, to the calm, capable way she assures the newly-"resurrected" Sherlock that she'll "talk him 'round" when John--hurt at the way Sherlock disappeared and the fact that his boorish ignorance ruined a perfectly-prepared proposal--totally bashes him in the face and refuses to forgive him or accept an apology. Martin and Amanda have succeeded in making the Watsons unforgettable and inseparable in a way no other acting pair has.

Honorable Mention...

Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham--Mr. and Mrs. Holmes (Sherlock)

*taken from
Remember this scene? To be frank, I never attached much significance to these two--for all I knew they could just be two older actors meant to portray the parents. How lovely to discover that, far from being just a humanizing plot device to the man who has confounded the world--their appearance was more of an homage to that man's origins. Yes, these are Benedict's parents. You're welcome. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"Inkweaver" Excerpt: The Road To Aberon

"Where did your family move to when you left Mirrorvale?" I asked, steadying myself on his strong arm.
Belak loped easily beside me, his muscular legs accustomed to such long distances. "My father heard of a good prospect in Jimmel, not far from here," he answered. "His business partner found a—market, I guess you'd call it—with the villagers there, and so Dad moved us to help his partner set up shop."
A whisper echoed by my ear. "Righteousness and pennies is better than injustice and riches." I caught that there was something about his father's situation that he wasn't telling me. Then I wondered where the idea had come from; in all the years I'd known him, Belak had never given me cause to mistrust him. Why would I start now? A golden glow distracted me. I looked back and saw that Larryn had produced a lantern from her satchel and lit the large candle within. Greyna was digging through a satchel as she walked.
"—sweet as stolen water?" I heard over my shoulder.
I turned back to Belak. "What was stolen?" Had I heard him right?
His eyes registered alarm and then confusion. "I didn't say anything about stealing. I was only telling you about my father's business." He grabbed my hands as his face filled with concern. "Are you feeling all right, Shereya?"
In answer, my gut grumbled very loudly. I grimaced, "I think we should stop and eat; I think I am hungry." I looked back toward the girls just as Greyna walked up with the satchel in her hands.
"We have a problem," she said with horror on her pale face.
"What is it?" Belak demanded, leaning forward.
Greyna held out the brown satchel. "There's no food. We're going to starve before we reach the next town." She pointed over Belak's shoulder, and for the first time I saw a signpost. It gave the names of several towns and their distances—but they were all too great for four empty stomachs.
"Wait a minute!" Belak pointed to a sign that read ABERON 3. "I know a family who lives outside of Aberon. Their house is only a mile away. We can eat there!"
Larryn wrapped both arms around her stomach. "Anywhere is good, as long as there is food!" she groaned.
Belak accepted the lantern from Larryn and grabbed my hand. I found considerable comfort in the warmth of his skin. He strode off down the path. "Come on, girls!"

We heard the house almost in the same instant we saw its lights twinkling in the darkness. The voices from within the house nearly drowned out the voices whispering from the tapestry in my satchel—but not completely. As we drew near enough to distinguish voices in the house, I heard a soft murmur in my ear.
"Better a few sprigs and berries in peace than a four-course meal with bickering and strife."
I turned my head. Greyna walked behind me, head bent as she watched her feet to take her mind off her hunger.
"What did you say?" I used the same tone to speak to her.
Greyna picked up her head. "What?"
For the second time, I had mistaken the tapestry voice for one of my friends and thoroughly embarrassed myself. I faced forward again. "Never mind."

We followed Belak to the house. It sounded like they had a large gathering going on—and not a happy one. The shouting echoing over the valley below was full of anger and belligerence. I couldn't hear the tapestry anymore.
I shrank away as Belak approached the door. "Maybe we shouldn't—" I began, but Belak had already rapped on the door. "Nonsense!" he cried. "They're always like this; just stick with me." He wrapped an arm around my waist and charged inside without waiting for someone to open the door.

Immediately, I felt myself caught in a whirlwind of toys and voices and faces and small bodies. It was a madhouse inside! I flinched as a round ball sailed right for my head, and nearly collided with a young girl who had come charging in our direction at full speed—though her target was the young boy hiding behind us and wagging his tongue at her. At the center of the house, near a large kettle steaming over a hearty fire sat a sour-faced woman who was busily chastising four children at once.
"The answer is no! Now why did you do that? Idiot child, were you raised in a barn? Morgan, don't you dare hit your sister! What is wrong with you?"
She saw Belak and me, and stood up, rolling her eyes. "Pierson!" She bawled in my face, "Intervene and take care of YOUR children!"
"Junea, it is good to see you!" Belak hollered over the din.
She left off stirring the soup and shook the ladle at him. "What is the meaning of traipsing in here like you own the place? You think I don't have enough mouths to feed? STOP THROWING THINGS!" She didn't even pause for breath before she started roaring at her children again. "I'm warning you," she glared at the miscreant, "if you try that again I'm going to swat you like there's no tomorrow!" She eyed us carefully and picked out four bowls. "Here, if you're hungry, have some!" We hadn't even asked, and she was treating us like we had demanded it of her. She wore a sour expression as she yielded the bowls to our care.
"You can sit at the table, if you can find a seat," she groused.
The last thing I wanted was to try and put food into my tight stomach. I caught Belak's glance. "Please can we go somewhere else?"

The five children started in on yet another squabble. I couldn't figure out what it was about, but there was a good deal of swatting and hair-pulling and pandemonium. Junea was back to hollering for Pierson again. He didn't show, and that didn't surprise me. There was nothing anyone could do in the face of such a cacophony. Belak helped us get to the back of the room, where a staircase against the back wall led to a second floor. Larryn snagged a candle on the way up, so we would have light by which to eat. When we reached the top of the stairs, Greyna stopped and pointed. Ahead of us was another lit candle. A man hunched near it, slurping from his own bowl of soup. He flinched as we all slunk in to join him.
"Do I know you?" he glanced from one face to the next in confusion.
"Hello, Pierson," Belak said as he sat on the floor across from the man.
Pierson's face broke into a relieved smile. "Well, if it isn't Belak Sardisen! How are you, lad?"
Belak bobbed his head and winked at me. "Well enough," he allowed, "just introducing some friends of mine to your family downstairs."
"Ah, yes," Pierson groaned, "we were hoping for the apples to fall a little further from the tree, if you get my meaning. One or two unruly children I might manage—but six children and a wife to contend with?" He set his empty bowl on the little table with a bang. "It is too much!" Pierson transferred his gaze onto us. "Please, Belak, let us talk of more pleasant matters. Who are these lovely friends of yours?"
Belak gestured to each of us in turn. "These are my friends Shereya and Larryn, and their friend—" he hesitated as Greyna's name escapes his memory. "Gerda," he guessed.
Larryn soon set him right. "That's not her name! It's Greyna."
"And did you come all the way out here just to meet me and my family?"
Before any of us could speak, Larryn was off again. "Not really; Belak just joined us on our quest. We are traveling to Gramble to see about an Inkweaver who might be there, because she used to live in our village."
Belak glanced at me sharply, and I wished I could have relived those last two minutes, so that I could have prevented Larryn from speaking.
Pierson shook his head, "I don't believe in such things, but I confess I am tempted to ask to join you, if only to gain respite from—"
On cue, a crash from below shook the floor as matters escalated.
Pierson winced. "That," he finished. The look on his face was hopeful, adding suggestion to his words.
At that moment, Greyna yawned so loudly that the urge passed through each of us.
Belak took charge again. "Actually, Pierson, we were hoping to rest for the night. May we do so here?"
Pierson paused before answering.
"You may," he began slowly, "but not here." He stood and beckoned for us to follow him. He carried the candle to the back of the attic, where we saw a short ladder leading closer to the roof. Tucked into the corner of this second attic was a mattress, a pillow, and a blanket. Being so far from the rest of the house, I noticed that the raging voices downstairs had been reduced to a dull roar.
"I spend the night up here when the noise gets to be too much," Pierson admitted. "It's cold and distant, I know—but Junea... I mean, when she gets mad, she tends to express her insecurities and thought processes as a way of unburdening herself before sleeping."
I recalled the hardened wrinkles of Junea's face—not the complexion of one who sleeps well. "Does it help?"
Pierson shook his head grimly. "Not really, and it usually ends up making her more angry, and frustrated at me, which induces her to talk even more—but as long as I can stay out of the way, she never comes up here after me." He glanced at the single bed, and then back at the four of us. "I'm sorry I don't have better accommodations—"
"Nonsense!" Larryn cried benevolently. She tossed me her satchel. "Here, Shereya; I packed plenty for all of us."
I stared straight at her, but she deliberately avoided my gaze. No, Larryn, I thought, I watched you pack. There is no way you could have predicted that we'd need bedding for four people when this journey started with only two. I could feel at least one object, and I figured I would show her the mistake once Pierson left. He returned to the lower attic, taking his bedding with him.
I pulled out the object—a blanket—after he left.
"See?" I told Larryn. "There isn't enough—" I shook the satchel as I spoke, and when I felt the weight of a bulky, soft object still inside it, I dropped the blanket and reached in again. There was a pillow, and I felt a second blanket behind it. I kept pulling things out till we had enough to make beds for all four of us. I handed the satchel back to Larryn. My body felt numb, and I could not comprehend what I had just witnessed. I gazed at the pile of pillows and blankets and sleeping mats. All that, in one satchel? Impossible—yet they were real. I lay down and covered myself with the blankets. The warmth from them, and the softness of the pillow seemed to seep right into my body. I fell asleep almost instantly.
The minute I dozed off, I began to dream. There was a woman sitting before me, with my golden hair, Larryn's face, and she wore Greyna's dress, the blue one with the white lace trimmings. She spoke to me in a deep, rich voice I recognized from somewhere I could not place, telling me many things. I couldn't move or speak; there was nothing around us but a light that seemed to radiate from the woman. It was different from the other dreams I'd had on this journey in that the story didn't seem to have anything to do with an account of someone else; it was my story. I sat and the woman talked—and I realized where I had heard her voice before. It had been a long time ago, when Larryn and I were about eight years old...
It was the voice of the Inkweaver.

Proverbs of The Inkweaver:
“.....If you have given your word, you must see it through; a promise in haste is like a man who walks about with his eyes closed; danger and safety alike, he cannot see either of them. Beware lest you elevate yourself above your station; it is better for your superior to invite you to a better seat, than to take it for your own and be forced to give way to another. A quiet, simple life is better than a showy, shallow one. In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. Better a few sprigs and berries in peace than a four-course meal with bickering and strife. A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, but a wise person will appease it. The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry, And a wise friend’s timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger. Righteousness and pennies is better than injustice and riches. Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious— don’t get infected. It is better to be wise than strong. As water bears the reflection of a face, so a man’s heart bears the reflection of his true nature. Sloth and destruction are brothers; where one is, the other is surely not far off. Even a fool is thought wise if he holds his tongue....”

Monday, January 6, 2014

"Fairies Under Glass" Excerpt--Waking the Giant

Everything was quiet and dark in the closet when I opened the door and grabbed a shirt and pants. Maybe they were all still sleeping. Five round objects the size of baseballs lying on the floor of the closet vaguely registered in the back of my mind as I slipped the shirt over my shoulders. I didn’t wonder about it though; I just assumed they were baseballs. It didn’t occur to me that I hadn’t put those baseballs in there!

All day, I smelled a strange, sweet, fruity smell, but it was not a fruit I could identify! Was one of the girls wearing a strange new perfume? Something drew me to suspect Danielle Coraldi. On lunch break, I went up behind her and sniffed really hard. She turned really fast, and I got a nose-full of her hair and choked.
“Excuse me?” She asked as I coughed and tried to regain my breath and my composure.
“Sorry,” I managed to rasp, and Danielle walked away.
But I still smelt the fruit!

I walked into my dorm room, and instantly the smell was so strong it almost knocked me over. It was the fairies making that smell!
I opened the window first and then went straight to the closet and yanked open the door.
The scent hung in multicolored clouds in the closet, and five round, green, basketball-sized objects rolled off each other and onto my dorm room floor. They were like smooth, light green melons with flowers on the top. A fairy crawled out of each of them. I snatched Sheerya by her wings and put her up on my nightstand.
“Would you mind explaining what those things are?” I asked her.
Sheerya shrugged, “They’re misti.”
“Misty? Misty what?”
“No, misti. They are our homes.”
“Where did they come from?”
“We made them,” she replied simply.
I just couldn’t figure out her logic! “But why did you have to stink up my room? Will it always smell like this?”
Sheerya bobbed her head and shrugged nonchalantly. “For the first while, maybe. It’s so strong because they’re fresh. The smell wears off in a couple days, don’t worry.”
But I was worried. My whole wardrobe reeked of misti, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it right now.
“Good grief,” I muttered, and dragged my book-bag outside to study for a few hours before heading back to Snowden House.

That evening, I returned to Snowden House. The security guard outside opened the door for me, and I went straight to the hall guard, like Mr. Gilroy wanted me to do.
            “I’m going to clean the Schlimme Hall now,” I informed him.
            “Will you need any help, kid?” he asked.
            I shook my head. “Nah, I’ll just lock the door for privacy, and get ‘er done!”
            The burly guard shrugged. “Whatever, kid. Just let me know when you’re done. Nobody wants to go in that room at night anyway. It’s too creepy, what with that new exhibit.”
            I made no comment, but went straight away to the hall. Once inside, I locked the door behind me and opened the duffel.
            “Sheerya, you and your friends need to make sure all the windows are closed and the doors are locked.”
            Sheerya and her four fairy friends that I had freed the day before all flew around securing the area. Meanwhile, I set to work freeing the rest of the elves and fairies, with the help of Forander and the other elves. They all gathered close around me as Sheerya returned and immediately asked,
            “Are you going to wake the giant now?”
            “Well…” I stalled; I wasn’t too excited about waking a giant. “It’s going to take me a while to clean this whole room, and Mr. Gilroy wants it spotless. After that’s done I’ll wake the giant.”
            Sheerya and the rest of the little folk took off before I even finished. Within fifteen minutes, the whole hall was clean.
            Dang; now I had no excuse.
            “Oh, all right,” I said, “what do I have to do, Sheerya?”
            She flew up and surveyed the giant.
            “She’s been frozen with a specific kind of paralyzer that is only effective while the eyes are closed. Her eyelashes are bound by small wires. All you have to do is remove the wires, and she’ll wake up.”
            “All I have to do, huh?” I muttered.
            Fifty pairs of eyes fastened on me; they were all counting on me to see this through. I suddenly wished I could be anywhere else! What had I done to deserve this?
            I slipped some leather gloves on in case I needed to get a better grip, and began climbing up the wall. I suppose it would have been easier to use the stairs, but at the time I just wanted to get over and get done.
            Once I reached the top of the wall, I swung a leg up, hoping to be able to take a break for a moment, but the momentum of my leg merely sent the rest of my body swinging over the top of the wall.
            I landed a perfect spread-eagle belly-flop in the open palm of her right hand. I was momentarily paralyzed by fear, but then I remembered that she was still frozen and unconscious. To reassure myself, I jumped a few times on her open palm. Nothing happened; it felt and sounded like hard plastic or leather. Confident now, I climbed up her outstretched thumb and onto the pillow, making my way toward the head. Halfway to her face, I realized what I had just done and what I was planning to do now. The whole idea sent chills down my spine!
            I decided to start with the left eye, the one furthest away, because it would be easier to get down when I finished the right eye. It suddenly occurred to me that I had forgotten to ask Sheerya if both eyes had to be unbound before the giantess would awake, or would she suddenly awake before I could get to the second eye. Now I only had one way to find out.
            I stood on the side of her nose and reached over to where I could see the ends of the wire extending past the furthest eyelash. Each eyelash was roughly the size of a piece of straw, and the wires bound them together in clumps. I untwisted the last length of wire and smoothed apart the eyelashes, ready to jump down and run if she woke up, but she didn’t. Good; that gave me the chance to climb down and begin the right eye.
            Almost as soon as I untwisted the last wire, I had to cling to those lashes for dear life as she suddenly rolled over!
            “Mmmmhmmmm….” she sighed, rubbing her eyes. Slowly, gradually, her massive hands pushed me down her cheek and into her open, yawning mouth!
            Her lips snapped shut over my waist. I felt a jerk, and her tongue pushed my face as she spit me out into her lap. She began spitting, trying to get the taste of me off her tongue.
            “Oh yuck!” she cried, “What in Phantasm—“ She stopped; I surmised she must have seen me. She picked me up by the back of my shirt. “I had that thing in my mouth?” she looked at me in obvious disgust. That disgust quickly turned to curiosity as she studied me. “It…it’s almost…real,” she breathed.
            “I am real!” I shouted.
            “UGH!” she yelled, shaking her hand and flinging me much as you or I would fling an insect off our hands. Now that I know what it feels like to be the bug, I resolved then to be more gentle with them! I skidded across the floor on my back.
            She sat up quickly and bumped her head on the ceiling. “Oww,” she howled, rubbing the back of her skull. She reached over and picked me up by my waist, laying me flat across her palm.
            “Wh—what are you?” she asked, “Are you a fairy?” She flipped me over, perhaps looking for my wings.
            “No, I—oof!” I said as she flipped me onto my back again, “I’m a human.”
            “What?” she cried, “No way!” Her hand closed over my waist as she lifted me closer to her face. She grabbed my wrist between two fingers and looked closely at my hand. She prodded my body, and rubbed my face with her finger.
            “I didn’t think humans existed!” she remarked, “So this is what you look like, eh? A little, itty-bitty giant!” She set me up on the scaffold-bridge and looked around the Hall. “So tell me, human, what is this place? Is it your home?”
            “No,” I said, “actually…you’re at a museum.”
            “A museum?” she cried, sitting up again and smacking her head a second time on the ceiling. “What am I doing at a museum? And why is my bed so small? I’m very uncomfortable!”
            I looked at her legs. They did indeed seem quite a bit longer than just five feet beyond the fifty-foot mattress. “How tall are you?” I asked.
            She straightened proudly, though carefully avoiding hitting her head again. “I’m sixty feet tall!” she announced, and then amended herself, “Well, actually fifty-nine and a half, but we’re talking a very small amount here. Speaking of which, why am I in this little tiny room? Why does it have little windows wa-a-ay down the—“ She poked one with her finger and it instantly shattered. “Whoops,” she said, “my bad!”
            Sheerya and the little folk began cleaning up the mess as she asked me, “So, human, do you have a name?”
            “Yeah, I’m Casey.”
            She cocked her head, “Casey…and that’s all?”
            “Well, my full name is Casey Rankin.”
            “Oh, Cassirankin?”
            “No, just Casey is my first name. Rankin is my surname.”
            “Oh…Casey… short name.”
            “What’s your name?”
No wonder she thought my name was short! “Do you mind if I just call you Linda?”
She looked at me strangely and shrugged, “Sure, if you think that’s easier for you.”
I checked my watch. It had been over an hour. Any longer and the guards might get suspicious. “Well, Linda, you’re going to have to lay down again and I’ll put the wires back on.”
Linda frowned, “Aww, do I have to?” she huffed. “Well, all right.” She complied, and even helped me down off the scaffold onto her forehead, where I laid as I replaced the wires. I had gotten about halfway across the first eye, when they suddenly sprang from my grasp as Linda opened her eyes again.
“Hey, Casey—“
“Argh! Linda! Now I have to start all over again!”
“Oh, sorry!” She closed her eyes again. I finished tying the eyelashes, and her skin became stiff and hard again.
“All right everyone!” I said, climbing back over the wall again, “Time to go!” I held out the duffel, and the various elves and fairies climbed and flew back in. I zipped the duffel, turned out the lights, and left the Hall.
“I’m all done, sir!”  I told the hall guard. I waited a beat before leaving, “Oh, by the way, one of the windows in the giant… exhibit is busted. It might need to be replaced before tomorrow.”
The guard frowned, “Careless gawkers!” he muttered, “Sure thing, I’ll get right on it. Thanks kid! Go ahead and get some rest,” he continued as I walked out the door, “you look like someone’s chewed you up and spit you out!”
I shook my head and laughed. That guard was closer to the truth than he could ever know.