A Murder of Crows
Author's Note: Within this chapter, the main character, Claire, reads a book of poetry. The poem that she reads in the book is not a poem written by me. Instead, it is written by a fellow Vocal author, Julianna Byrd. The poem, "In the Wake of a Storm", is used with her express permission, though I have only used a single verse of the whole. Her creativity deserves the honor of recognition. Thank you, Julianna!
Fog and Haze
Max’s paw against her face brought Claire out of sleep. He had shaken her within the meditating darkness of the dream. And as she ascended from the meditation and through the dream, she could hear the voices of her others crying out for death, and the shadows across the abyss calling her mother. Then her eyes opened in the waking world and to Max’s moist, black nose dominating her field of vision. His purrs were loud and full of love.
Author's Note: At the end of this chapter, the main character, Claire, finds a book of poetry. The poem that she reads in the book is not a poem written by me. Instead, it is written by a fellow Vocal author, Melissa Ingoldsby. The poem, "Lost", is used with her express permission, though I have altered her name in the text of the novel. Her creativity deserves the honor of recognition. Thank you, Melissa!
The Demon and The Angel
The heat of the day radiated from the asphalt and cement in waves, a look at the casino-lit horizon of Las Vegas Boulevard was like looking at a mirage. But the sights and sounds of Sin City were what truly drew Belphegor to this place. There was an underlying order to this insanity of human lust and chaos. And it was to order for which Belphegor was chosen. In the annals of religion, his name was not revered, being called an archdemon of evil. But the one thing he never understood is why he was seen as evil… His name meant, ‘Lord of the Gap’, meaning that he was able to show humans the gaps in their knowledge. Where once they commended God for the way things were, they then would realize that there was a principle of order to it that could be quantized and tested. Why was that evil?
Sunday morning dawned bright and noisy. Considering it was now entering into late October, the warmth of the morning was a surprise to Claire. She awoke with a smile, despite the endless list of things she wanted to accomplish. Her shower was heavenly, and when she was dressed and ready for the day, she went to the mirror to put on her scant makeup.
Depth of Character
The ‘Not My Shoes’ interview idea was a stroke of genius. It’s why I volunteered my time to participate in this second round of interviews. I got lucky… I only knew Lena Bean through her writing. Don’t get me wrong, her writing is poignant, thoughtful, and moving. Solely grading her humanity based on her writing already gives her high marks; but to learn about who she truly is has been a journey. I wanted to ask questions that would put her into introspection mode, to give us all a chance to see the real Lena. As a result, I’m going to share what she told me at the very end of the interview, as it gives us a great peek into who she is, and what you can expect from this interview. “Thank you for these questions,” she said, and I imagine a look of exhausted relief. “I needed them today. They helped me to feel grounded and to process things that are going on. As I said before, I know I write too much which is why I always hate my autobiographical works, so trim what and where you need.” Let me say this, Lena, I haven’t trimmed anything yet. I’m writing this pragmatically, so you can expect our readers to see most, if not all, of each of your answers. Thank you, Lena, for this chance to show you off!
Claire awoke to a sloppy tongue. She was startled, to say the least, but the state of her stiff, tired muscles prevented her from any quick threatening movements. A groan escaped her lips as she slowly opened her eyes to the morning sun peeking through the leaves above. Before her stood the owner of the tongue, and her eyes met the squinty, orange-brown eyes of a fox. She let out a huff, the fox quickly retreating from her and letting out a meager yelp. It stood several feet away, looking at her curiously.
Profile Table Of Contents
Dear Reader, You will find below the titles and the links to all of my publications on Vocal. I try to write on a wide range of topics, but I find fiction the easiest for me. My inspirations include Stephen King and JRR Tolkien. While my published writings tend towards the dark and mysterious twists one would find in a King story, there are certainly elements of fantasy that can be attributed to my love of all things Middle Earth. I sincerely hope that you enjoy my publications, and any and all comments, suggestions, or ideas can be provided to my Facebook page. Just type @StaufferFictionPA in your Facebook Search Bar, and it will link you directly to my Author Page. You have my utmost thanks for taking the time to read and enjoy my stories.
Prime: The Novel
It is said that science and religion don't mix. But what if they did? What if everything we believed about gods, nature, and science were all intertwined in such a way that we could never fully understand it. And if we did understand it, then how would we handle it? What if there were multiple realities? What if those realities were the result of God, but they were governed by the very science that rules the Universe? What if...?
The Satyr and The Traveler
Claire sat in the dark, a single candle lit upon the coffee table. She stared into the flame as she ate the MRE from Other Eric’s pack. She replayed the killing of Other Claire at the camp site, the feel of her neck breaking as she bled out onto the ground making her shiver. I’m not a killer… But the epiphany that Gabriel wanted her to kill her others was so abhorrent. What was the purpose? It was something that he was reluctant to tell her, and it pissed her off. Killing one of John Friedman’s others was one thing, the man was an asshole, and she could convince herself that killing one of them wasn’t so terrible. But why kill her others? An angel telling her to kill… herself. Wasn’t suicide a mortal sin? Does it really count as suicide? she thought cynically.
By The Firelight
The vertigo subsided and Claire was able to begin focusing her vision. The cacophony around her filled her ears, but it was all background noise. She was sure that, were a pin to drop on the floor in front of her, she would hear it as clear as a church bell ringing on a bright Sunday morning. Her mind’s eye was still mired in the shock and sorrow of watching Eric die again, the swift incineration of his uniform and skin as unforgettable to her now as the moment he dropped to one knee and proposed to her. Yet, as the world came into focus, there he stood. Where only a moment ago the world was confusion and flame, Eric again stood before his company barking orders.
Into the War
The chill, damp air finally pulled Claire out of her slumber. She hadn’t slept in a comfortable position, and her screaming neck was proof. Slowly she bent her neck forward, the tight muscles feeling like breaking bones as they stretched. Long, slow blinks gave way to shorter, faster ones as she attempted to break through the sleep glaze over her eyes. It took a few moments until her could focus, and then she just stared at the opposite wall of the closet she chose for her bed. Claire began flexing her toes and her feet to get the blood flowing; despite it only being the beginning of the end of October, the cold rain she could hear outside made the unheated air inside easily sinkable into one’s bones. The blanket she stole from the top bunk the night before would stay right where it was.