Posts Tagged ‘writer’

Ends Meat – A Short Story

 

There it was again – the smell. Barrick glanced at his father, who had his eyes closed but he probably wasn’t asleep, just too exhausted by hunger to keep them open. His cheeks were shallow, as though sucking air, his lips two thin lines of scabs.

Father’s hemp shirt had become a shawl these last few weeks. The same was true for Barrick, his brothers and his sister.

Finally, father’s eyes opened, his nostrils twitched, and with energy summoned from a dark place, he rose. “Again…” he said, barely moving his lips; tension in the jaw and scabs that would split.

“I don’t know how they can do it,” said mother, head limp and resting on her raised knees.

Father swung his legs from the bed and stared into space. The look was a disease, and they all had it. Barrick had seen it first in the faces of the eldest; at night, sharing a bowl of thin soup and disappearing as the first songs began, taking a bottle of moonshine with them. One by one, others caught the look and stopped turning up at all. He’d see them by day, afflicted by the vacant gaze as they sat beside the transparent wall of the dome. They’d stare at the sands but Barrick had no idea what they were looking at; perhaps they saw mirages of visiting caravans that no longer came.

And then, it seemed, a cure appeared. At night the tinkling of music and singing voices began again and, in the daytime, neighbours whispered into the ears of neighbours. On the second night of singing, he and his brothers asked if they could go, but their father told them “No,” and had such anger in his eyes they said little else.

The smell first arrived the following night. Barrick was playing cards with Sam when he lifted his head to the air and sniffed.

“What is it?” asked Sam as he took a deep breath. “Smells good.”

“Smells like barbecue.” Barrick shook his head. “But it can’t be… we ain’t got no animals left.”

“That’s right, son. We haven’t,” his father said.

His mother called out to his father, but he was already out the door.

“What’s happening?” Barrick asked.

His mother looked at him, glassy-eyed, mouth constantly agape. She looked at her other sons – so young – and slowly, slowly closed her eyes. “No good’s happening.”

The next day, Barrick was in the courtyard and learned all about it from Euron, a boy about his age. “My father saw it coming, he said… saw what was happening here, what with all the orphans we kept taking in. Said it was unsustainable or something, and now look. Not enough food to go round. People are dying, Barrick.”

The Decomposting Unit had had a lot of business lately.

“So, father found Gilles the other day—dead—and instead of throwing him in the DC, he boiled him.”

Barrick had almost wretched right there, all over Euron. He looked away. How could anyone look someone in the eye, knowing they had eaten… human?

“And you… ate him?”

Euron said yes. As if to confirm reality, Barrick turned back. Euron was smiling.

“And so that… last night…” He recalled Sam’s comment about how good it smelled. If there had been anything in his belly it would have ended up splashed on the hardtop.

Shortly after, he sat in a tired stupor, slumped against the outside wall of the family hut, when the shouting began. It took two minutes to shuffle fifty feet, only to discover his animated father leading a gang of protesters.

“… and what about your son? What if he’s next to go? You gonna eat him, too?”

Euron’s father stood with arms crossed. “He ain’t gonna. I’m providing. We’re providing.” He spread his arms to incriminate the others. There was almost no fatigue there. The others, sat on stools or slouched in chairs, stared to the ground.

“I’m at death’s door myself,” said Barrick’s father. “You gonna eat me?”

“Join us and you don’t have to starve.”

“I still have my humanity. What’s your plan exactly? What if we all joined you? What if we all had a bit of meat, got a little better? What next – gonna knock off the fattest of us?” His face was two-inches from Euron.

Barrick just listened, horrified. Noticed Euron smiling at him with a bowl of something cupped in his hands, steam rising from it.

“You’re sick!” spat Barrick’s father, and turned, falling to one knee, breathing heavily. A friend helped him up and the protesters filed away.

Euron stirred a spoon in the bowl and lifted soup to his mouth.

Barrick’s belly groaned. He was inside-out with hunger. The moment Euron began to chew, Barrick spun on his heels and found the energy to run.

He returned home the same time as his mother who’d brought water from the lake-source for boiling in the solar-oven. They ate hot water in which a single, small, potato had dissolved almost to nothing.

Night fell, and with it, another body. Euron’s father spoke the truth—the settlement had been too generous. Because it had a readily available water source, the wanderers imagined the place was prosperous, and for a while it had been. But something tipped over; they took in too many refugees and the existing residents, short on activity but not on lust, had themselves soon multiplied. The leaders had to impose rationing. Closed doors weren’t far behind that, and when word went from mouth to ear the merchants stopped coming, too.

The Agridome had never been the most successful of ventures—season to season cultivating produced an inconsistent crop. Exacerbated by the low number of merchant caravans, things soon began to deteriorate.

All the while, the red sand swirled outside the dome. They became an increasingly isolated blister on the planet.

A blister that boiled in human flesh.

The barbecue smell permeated the dome; three nights, four nights; a week, two weeks. Each night, Barrick watched his father grit his teeth, clench his fists, pace the floor, come to life after a day of sleeping. A day of Barrick wondering if now was his father’s turn to not wake up at all. But no, wake he did, and then one night he left and didn’t return at all.

As the light fell into the hut, Barrick’s mother ordered him to go look for his father. On legs so weak, they shook as he headed out. The courtyard was desolate. Gone were the sounds of laughter, buried under mountains of bodies in the DC Unit. There, by the chalk, was where he’d played with the new orphans. And over there, by the stairwell to the lower levels, was where he and his brothers used to wrestle. He shook his head, amazed by the memory of activity.

And here, Euron had admitted eating someone.

The entrance to the Agridome opened across the courtyard and there it was again – the scent of death; boiling blood and burning flesh.

But… was there something… an undertone of… sweetness.

Slack-jawed, drool slipped from the corner of his lips. He didn’t know what hunger felt like anymore – this was how his stomach had always been, like a shrivelled raisin.

He took a step towards the entrance.

His father would be so disappointed in him.

But his father wasn’t here.

He wouldn’t know.

He’d be dead soon anyway.

Barrick considered this. “I’ll be dead soon myself if I don’t.”

Another step.

It’s just pork – spit-roasted, skin crackled to a crisp, fat rendered and spitting a sizzle on the fire. It was harvest time and time for this little piggy to go to market, as mother said.

Another step.

Time to go to market, get some lunch.

Another step.

The smell was overwhelming and his stomach rolled in a way it hadn’t for weeks at the thought of taking a bite into the juicy, smoky meat.

Another step – and then others appeared; pale, gaunt and walking dead. Started coming at him from the entrance. They were spent – Barrick could tell just by looking at their faces. One face came up to him – it was half-recognisable as his father’s friend, but he couldn’t be sure. It was little more than a skeleton looking back at him. “Turn around,” it said.

Barrick, dreaming of pork, stared vacantly beyond him, trying to push past.

“Turn back, there’s nothing in there, lad. Nothing you should have to see.”

He felt hands on his shoulders, twisting them, until he was pointing towards home. “Where’s… father?” he finally asked.

“He’s gone, son. Got the beat on Shannon and killed him, but it was all the energy he had left in this world.”

Barrick stared at the entrance, and then beyond; through the translucent wall of the dome where a smeary pile of darkness lay, orange flames wriggling like snakes through the shadows.

Someone closed it, and after a while, the ventilation system took the smell of his burning father and pumped it away into the heavens.

 

Thanks for reading. Discover what happened to Barrick, and a host of other characters, in Neon Sands, currently accepting nominations on Kindle Scout until the end of February.

 

Click here on Kindle Scout to cast your vote: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/M0AVK7KHQVAB 

Connect on with the author on Twitter  or his website.

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Book Details:

Book Title: Eyes Don’t Lie: You Can’t Hide by Crystal Dawn Mason
Category: Adult Fiction, 142 pages
Genre: Suspense / Thriller
Publisher: self-published
Release date: Oct 11, 2017
Tour dates: April 30 to May 18, 2018
Content Rating: PG

Book Description:

Curly-haired brunettes with blue eyes are the only women that seem to capture Keith’s attention. But is it really their appearance that attracts him or something sinister? Keith, a broken soul, who’s battling between good and evil, goes about his days trying to fight his evil urges. But because of a demonic stronghold, in most instances good loses the battle to evil.

Affected by the pain and hurt of his childhood, he now seeks out the love he didn’t receive as a child. But when he doesn’t get it, there’s retribution to pay…and what a sad day it is for those curly-haired brunettes with blue eyes who fail to make the mark. But things take a turn when he meets a grocery store cashier who has the ability to see evil through his eyes. McKenzie is able to connect dots, interfering with Keith’s destructive path – a path that could lead him to prison or even the grave.

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Author Interview 

 

How long have you been writing?

I started writing in 2014. I began writing poetry, then I transitioned in to narrative writing. I haven’t wrote any poems lately, but I just published a short book of poems; poems I had written years ago. Also, I incorporated one of those poems in Eyes Don’t Lie. Nowadays, I’m more drawn to creating stories, but from time to time, I may grace you with a poem and/or book of poems.

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

I get my inspiration from my experiences, and I believe this to be the case for everyone. What we are exposed to shapes our thoughts and is manifested through our talents (if we are brave enough to share our talents with the world).

What advice would you give budding writers?

Don’t give up! And this is geared more toward self-publishing authors like myself who are working with minimal resources while having to learn the ins and outs of the publishing process, marketing, etc. It requires a lot of hard work and consistency. And if you’re not willing to learn and put in the effort, you won’t go too far. Also, patience is important because when you’re a new author, you have to build your audience. And that does not happen overnight. You can become discouraged if you’re not patient with the process. Also, it’s important to know that your work will not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay! Don’t let people’s opinions deter you from moving forward and/or make you believe that your work is not good. And it’s not to say that one shouldn’t take heed to constructive criticism. But as writers, we need to stay true to ourselves and not feel obliged to always alter our work to appease others (especially if it’s a matter of the reader just not liking your writing style; focus on the things that really matter). Remember, it’s your masterpiece. It’s your contribution to the world. And what one person may not appreciate, someone else will.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I started off with publishing my books through a publisher. But I realized that wasn’t the road I wanted to take considering the costs associated with a publisher, not having all your rights to your work, etc. There are pros and cons with having a publisher, but I would much prefer having free reign to do what I want with my work, without restrictions. It’s a lot of work to self-publish, but it’s worth it. Thus, I will continue to self-publish my work.

What do your fans mean to you?

The feedback I get from people who enjoy my work means a lot to me. Having a supportive fan base contributes to my growth as an author, and the support motivates me to continue writing inspirational and entertaining stories.



About the Author:
Crystal Dawn Mason started writing books of poetry, then transitioned into narrative writing. Becoming a writer was not a goal as she began her studies as a psychology major at Indiana University Purdue University of Indianapolis. It wasn’t until she had a bad experience that she stumbled upon her natural ability to create stories. And this discovery started her down a newfound path of purpose. While working, she found another niche in the education field, which led her to pursue a teaching degree. Thus, she is now pursuing a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies to become an elementary teacher. She enjoys working with children, and her goal, outside of teaching, is to continue writing stories that are inspiring and entertaining for her readers.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest 

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends May 26, 2018

CLICK HERE for the Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Book Details:

Book Title: All the Way to Italy: A modern tale of homecoming through generations past
Author: Flavia Brunetti
Category: Adult Fiction, 222 pages
Genre: Women’s Fiction (can fit into YA Fiction as well)
Publisher: Ali Ribelli Edizioni
Release date: April 21, 2018
Tour dates: April 23 to May 18, 2018
Content Rating: PG for the occasional use of “for God’s sake” and a few religious references (though very mild). No violence, no swear words, and no sex scenes.

Book Description:

Until her dad died, Little considered herself a Californian. Now, thanks to half a letter, a symbol she can’t quite remember, and writer’s block, she finds herself back in Italy, the country of her birth. In a headlong rush to return to her beloved San Francisco, Little will journey throughout Italy, hoping to find the answers she needs to move on with her life so she need never look back. She’ll enlist the help of the woman who raised her, Sira, her father’s sister; but Sira has secrets she’s kept for decades, and Little underestimates the power of the country she fled years before.

In this powerful story of mixed cultures in a world trying to globalize, one girl’s struggle to leave her home behind will lead her back to the women in her family and the memories each of them has safeguarded through the generations. From war-torn Italy to the belpaese of today, All the Way to Italy is a tale for those in search of a balance between wanderlust and the necessity to come home, a reminder that although we may be fragments, we are never a lost cause.

To follow the tour and read reviews, please visit Flavia Brunetti’s page on Italy Book Tours.
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Author Interview:
  1. If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 3 books would you want with you? I thought this one was going to be particularly difficult to answer, but my absolute favorites pop up immediately (though it is hard to keep it to 3!): The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and Beach Music by Pat Conroy.
  2. Favorite travel spot? Like the question above, there are so many, but if I have to pick just one: Il Giardino di Ninfa, and Sermoneta, the little town right next to it (one of the reasons both these places are in All the Way to Italy!).
  3. Is there a specific ritualistic thing you do during your writing time? I don’t think this counts as a ritual, but I have a really hard time writing without eating, even if it’s just nibbling on something. White chocolate-covered raisins, and the little Reese’s bites, are my kryptonite.
  4. What is your next project? I have two ideas in my head at the moment: one is the story of Little a few years on, when she’s grown up and has moved to a new country; the other is the story of Sira when she was younger. So let me answer this question with a question: if you’ve read All the Way to Italy, which one of those two stories would you most next want to read?
  5. How did you do research for your book? Some of the research did itself and was the inspiration to actually write the book: growing up between Rome and California, hanging out in a lot of airports growing up, falling back in love with Italy, meeting so many people who had also become enamored with the country. The rest of the research process was mostly sitting down and compiling everything, stitching the ideas together—organizing and editing was the hardest part for me!

 
About the Author:
Photo credit: Roberta Perrone

Born just outside of Rome, Flavia Brunetti grew up bouncing back and forth between Italy and California, eventually moving back to the Eternal City and confirming her lifelong commitment to real gelato. Flavia holds a Master of Arts degree in Government and Politics from St. John’s University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from John Cabot University. Today she travels the world working for an international humanitarian organization and spends her free time writing and wandering around her beloved Roma in constant search of bookstores and the perfect espresso. You can find her city blog on Rome at whichwaytorome.com and her portfolio of published writing at flaviinrome.com.

Connect with Flavia: Website ~ Blog on Rome ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends May 26, 2018

CLICK HERE for the Rafflecopter giveaway