Here's the third installment of "Lucky Shot," another story from the lost files. I wrote this awhile back, and to catch you up to speed, this is the tale of Chance Black, his family, and a mad man. Chance is a photographer for the Long Brooke Sync, a tabloid publication famous all around and outside of Chase County. His day starts as usual: he's late for a conference and a perfect shot at the C.E.O. of a corporation. Luckily, Chance is able to take the picture the Sync paid him for, but his photograph contains a bit more than anyone expected. This unanticipated photograph is of great value to a man who is desperate to make sure it's never published.That's all I'll spoil for now. If you need to catch up, here are the previous two installments:
Here's another addition of what Chris found while cleaning up some files. I wrote this flash fiction piece in 2008. Enjoy!
In an isolated cellar chamber, the man in black told me, “You can either have the photograph or the handgun.” Before me lay those two items on a table, two guards by the only door, and an undersized wooden chair that I was once strapped to.
“Either way I’m dead, right?” I asked.
“That depends. A gun seems the most useful. The picture can only hurt you more.”
I remembered the suffering I faced the minute I snapped a photograph of the man’s trade. He was smuggling illegal weaponry to average citizens in an abandoned factory.
“Or, it can hurt you,” I muttered. The gun’s probably empty, too, I thought to myself.
“Don’t count on it,” the man in black replied. “You’ll never make it out of here alive.”
“A picture is worth a thousand words.” I mocked the man with my tone.
“But a gun is worth complete silence. Choose.”
Blankly, I stared at the two choices before me for several moments. If I had gone with my instincts, I would have snagged the photograph and ran for my life. However, I knew that killing the guards was my only way out of the cellar chamber.
As the man in black glared at me, I began to shake and sweat. My palms were moist with trepidation, and I further feared, that when I went for the gun, it would slip right out of my hand. Then where would I have been? Dead.
I came to a decision. Faster than a blink, I reached out and snagged the photograph. As preconceived, I sprinted for the only door out; meanwhile, the man in black used the gun to fire wild rounds at me.
Most of the bullets missed me as I neared the guards. One shot, though, grazed my right shoulder, which I favored with my left hand. I kept the photograph near my chest.
Click, click. The man in black’s handgun ran out of bullets.
My immediate sense of relief blew away with the sound of the guards arming themselves with their own pistols. At their first fires, I ducked.
Somehow, I managed to survive. Yet, I still felt like a dead man. Knowing that I would never make it out unscathed, I decided to act like a hero. Swerving around the guard on the left side of the door, I was able throw my good shoulder down into his knee.
Echoing as the metal smacked the ground, I saw the pistol fall just before the guard. Quickly, I reached for the gun, and so did he.
Underneath the spray of bullets from the other guard and between the grasp of the guard on the ground, I struggled to maintain possession of the gun. Once I felt secure enough to do so, I hopped up to my feet and began to fire at both of the guards, who fell to ground after a few misfires.
I had no intention of killing them. They were just hired muscle, but I had escape in order to turn in the photograph.
As I started to feel confident, something struck me in the neck.
February was bitter cold; snow buried most of the land. Angry and in a neck brace, I watched as a man in blue walked up a stage and approached the lectern. A plaque was placed in his hands by a chief officer for turning in evidence of an illegal gun trade.
At that moment I began to appreciate the power of knowledge. There was a time when artillery solved problems and was synonymous with power. Now a time had come where intelligence and technology proved superior.
While the determinants of supremacy had changed throughout time, man had not. At least, that’s what I thought as I watched my ex-partner take the glory of my efforts on stage.
Anyone considering college or who finished their college career recently, might be concerned about costs. There's no curtain in the way, though. Tuition and loan debt are not the best responsibilities to assume during or just after your college years.
From time to time, I've joked about a college degree and implied I'm so smart I traded $70,000 for a piece of paper that said I'm smart. However, the reality of higher education costs is a real concern lately, leaving many to wonder is college worth it?
Here's another rough draft section of "Armageddon as Expected". Enjoy!
II. The Masked Girl in the Barren City
We wrapped chains around the wheels, Allen and I, and it was a good thing we did.
The wintry weather metamorphosed into something much more, a deceiving blizzard. Thunder-Snow. Underneath the white blanket, small gusts ripped by; little tornadoes hovering above more than a foot of snow. Willingly, knowingly, I headed out into clouds of natural chaos. Once Allen locked up the house and arrived at the driver's door of his SUV, we were off, Allen for a pack of cigarettes and some beer. Me, I headed into the white storm to find the devil.
This morning wasn't going to be easy, but no one expected it to be so difficult. One perk to living in a private community is the isolation from the rest of the word, and a little of the rural freedoms such as immaculateness and seclusion. However, these very benefits are anything but fortuitous once winter solstice proceeds. In other words, little things like road conditions can stand in your way. Normally the area is cleared, but this year we dropped the ball for sure. The high school that never closes closed. Snow plows were stuck in ditches.
And so was I. Everything's fine and the car checked out. The bad part is, I was supposed to work this morning. No matter what I do in life, if I agreed or am scheduled to appear, I do.
Since I'm reluctant to let this day of productivity go to waste, I think I'm going to start up a blog story. Between the threat of armageddon that never flourished and the man-we-thought-this-was-going-to-be-bad-but-not-this-bad weather, I found inspiration.
I don't know what this going to be, but it's going to be something. If you want to write one of the sections, just hit me up.
Otherwise, here we go . . .
Today I was spoiled with an opportunity to interview author Andrew Cyrus Hudson, the mastermind behind Somewhere in the Shadows: The Anthology. See, he's the guy who designed the book and had it made.
He's worked with multiple aspects of publishing, and his passion resides in producing a book from the ground up. He's also the guy who asked me to be in the short story collection. You know that "Charlatan" thing I've been, admittedly, self-promoting like crazy as of late? That's the short story I contributed.
For now, here are the publishing-related questions and his uncensored response to them all.
C.M. Humphries (C):
How long did the entire publishing process for Somewhere in the Shadows take?
Andrew Cyrus Hudson(A):
If we're talking about the time it took to produce it, not that long. The short story, all drafts, just took an hour a day for about a week or two and the rest of the time was simply contacting people (ironically the email updates probably took the most time). However, it's not a simple matter of writing a short story and getting everyone together. It's waiting on the production to take place and for people to get back to you. So with that taken to account, I started contacting everyone December of 2011 and finally got it out December 2012, making it about a year to get it made.
C: How did you decide which authors would be in the anthology?
A: There were several different methods of figuring out which authors should be on the list. The easiest ones were my writer buddies I already knew, such as Jonathan D. Allen. All I had to do was shoot him an email asking if he'd be interested in doing an anthology (or in the case of writer buddy Andrez Bergen, he contacted me with an interest in doing it). Everyone else though, was a discovery. Marissa Farrar was an interesting find because I found her through the "also purchased" links in Drift (back when I miscategorized Drift as horror instead of thriller). But everyone else was mostly discovered through a simple process. I'd look at various followers and followers of followers on Twitter, see if they wrote in a vein close to horror, check out their site, determine if they're decent writers (as in check out their samples or bibliography and see if they can in fact write a short story), and then get into contact with them. Some indie/small pub writers who wrote big horror novels politely declined because they weren't comfortable with writing short stories (lesson learned: not every authors has written a short story or knows how to). Some authors who climbed on board backed down later due to obligations that are completely understandable. So in the end, the author list was more by chance and it ended up working out perfectly.
C: What were the overhead expenses for producing such an anthology?
A: The overhead cost of an anthology is the same for any self-published novel. Meaning that it can be as cheap or as expensive as you want. Remember that it doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg if you do your research. But also remember that cheap people get cheap results, and you can't cut corners and rip people off if you want to have a good anthology (and be a decent human being). The total cost (mainly formatting and art) was about $120.00 all together. But as stated before, it could be a free or a few grand depending on how much of it you do yourself and who you hire.
C: What are your future plans for Somewhere in the Shadows or for other story collections?
A: I'd like to eventually get Somewhere in the Shadows in CreateSpace and Smashwords format early next year. As well as try to get it in the hands of a few more readers who aren't my friends or family before it inevitably falls off the charts. As far as other plans go..
-Somewhere in the Stars: If Somewhere in the Shadows is about horror, then the next logical progress would be science-fiction. It would be a collection of short stories having to do with either space, exploration beyond the ordinary, or other planets. I'd like to bring back all of the crew from Somewhere in the Shadows and possibly a new writer or two (I guess making an anthology is kind of like The Expendables). Although I'd have to wait until early summer before I even think about doing another anthology. Otherwise I'd burn out and go crazy.
-Collaborative Book: I always wanted to do a collaborative book. Perhaps write a novel with a fellow author or even multiple authors to see how crazy the direction would take us. Or maybe write a fictional world/town with a specific set of rules and then we'd all get to write stories set in that place.
-Writer's Faction: This is the most important thing above all. This wouldn't be like a writer's group, which is essentially a support group. This would almost be like a publisher, except that we wouldn't have to pay into it. Basically we'd help each other out. When we do promotions (e.g free book), we do it together. A larger fan-base for one writer would be a larger fan-base for all. I don't want to sound doom and gloom here but I think writers who go it alone in the digital biz are going to find it increasingly difficult as time goes on. Self-publishing doesn't have to mean alone-publishing.
C: Where can everyone find you online?
A: Everyone can find me at andrewcyrushudson.net . I'm actually starting a website all over again (long story short, GoDaddy.com now owns andrewcyrushudson.com), so apologies for the site being somewhat under construction.
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Ask Andrew Cyrus Hudson Anything About Somewhere in the Shadows or independent & self-publishing in the comments - and earn points towards a hand-bound edition of No-Injury Policy!
"And the Zombies Starved"
Zombies were all the rage back then.
It started off with movies like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, all the comedic romance stories disguised by those flesh-eating beasts. Cara and I’d watched them all during their midnight releases. When it first began, I was just as much a fool as anyone else. That was true until I remembered my distaste for the film Pearl Harbor. Some said Pearl Harbor was a masterpiece in the way it isolated a personal story from something much larger. Critics said it humanized the United States involvement in WWII. I said it was populist bullshit designed to sell the same old Hollywood love-story. It was a multi-million-dollar rerun masked by something that looked like war in the background—a love triangle and explosions in the distance.
Such storylines could’ve been juxtaposed with any other set of circumstances: an interstellar dilemma, an ominous dreamscape on Elm Street, inside of a failing 50s diner. Back then, it was tongues in throats and, oh yeah, zombies eating brains. But it was all the rage and it had everyone hooked.
One night after work, Cara came home with an atrocious set of heels painted black and green with something I assumed to be a face of a brain-munching undead. “You like them?” she asked. “I don’t think they make too many of them. They’re Zombie Heels.”
I nodded and kissed her before we went to bed.
The next morning, on my way to work, I saw dozens of women pass by wearing green, red, and purple variations of the same goddamn Zombie Heels. When did the undead become so colorful? Even at work, women wobbled in and out of the sandwich shop with the click and clack of cliché until I had my first apocalyptic impulse. That was, I wanted to shoot every last zombie-sporting sucker right through the skull. Zombies were never meant to be cute, colorful, or cuddly. They were—and always would be—a mixture of medical and social experiment gone awry. If Hollywood turned the stories of Jack the Ripper or Jack Kevorkian into whimsical love stories, would women start dropping their day jobs for the glorious life of prostitution or start carrying around their own IV tubes?
My only sense of relief derived from the fact, when the customers ordered their sandwiches, they asked for BLTs instead of brains. And I only discovered sleep when I realized that one day the fad would pass. Be it the end of my beloved creatures as they were in their raw, gruesome forms, but the end of mainstream madness nonetheless.
But it only metastasized. The following morning, I awoke to a thump on the nightstand next to our bed. My eyes peeled open like fresh blood oranges to see Cara hovering over me with a grin that slit her face in half. “Look,” she shouted as she pointed at a book next the alarm clock.
I glanced over and saw a book with zombies on the cover. “Jesus, no,” I muttered. I read the back cover:
Roman and Julia are forced apart by their wealthy parents, never to express their love for each other again . . . That is until a scientific experiment to turn their parents into super humans turns them into flesh-eating monsters.
“Doesn’t it sound great?” Cara asked, truly impressed with her find.
“Do you realize what this is?” I asked her.
“Yeah, it’s a gory zombie book.”
“Gory—No, this is nothing more than Romeo and Juliet . . .”
Something boiled under my skin. Whatever it was, it hid under the façade of anger and consumed me in a matter of mere seconds. I snatched the book and showed Cara exactly what I thought of it by hurling all three hundred pages at her chest. The problem was, I aimed too high. The book smacked against her temple, and Cara dropped limp to the floor.
“Shit,” I yelled.
Back then, the police were overzealous and overabundant, and they didn’t care how or why your wife was unconscious in your bedroom. If you’d hurt her, the police would hurt you. So I ran.
Past all the houses on our street, down through the shopping centers and glass testaments to mankind, I sprinted for nowhere. It didn’t matter where I ended up so long as I was away. On my journey, though, something came over me.
Everywhere I turned there were watered-down zombies. Passersby wore tattered t-shirts with cartoon zombie prints. Chuck Taylors and high heels alike boasted some demented aspect of beauty coinciding with the zombie. Was I alone in the world? Maybe all these people were zombies in the Haiti sense; carrying on the last thing they were told or shown. On every corner, marquees contained zombie puns within the movie titles. There were zombies everywhere.
Enraged by the zombie rage, I hurried along my path of uncertainty, brushing by zombies on every crosswalk. I knocked down a woman in her forties when I saw her zombie earrings. I took out some punk on a zombie-themed skateboard and almost cried when I saw blood rushing onto the sidewalk from underneath his head. Right before I took a bus headed out of town, I knocked out all five members of a street band called The Lost Sombi.
Wiping off the sweat from my brow, I found a seat on the bus and tried to regulate my breaths. The bus reeked of cat-piss, cheap cologne, and mothballs. Together it stirred into a brew I’d associated with decay. Although my senses peaked and the bus ride was slow, I kept to myself. During the trip, however, I couldn’t stop thinking about Cara. Did I knock her out, or did I actually kill her? How many zombies did I take out during my escape from town? It wasn’t my fault—It was those stupid movies trying to cover-up tasteless and unmemorable plots with the walking dead. It was the devolution of mainstream society from Barbie to Zombie High.
Just when I thought I’d regained my composure, a little boy turned around and stared at me, before he shoved his Game Boy in my face. He said, “I just got this.” While his mother tried to stop him from talking to a stranger, the boy kept yapping as a remake of Zombies Ate My Neighbors flashed on the screen. “See, you go around and shoot zombies with Super Soakers and kill them, and you can throw soda cans and twin-pops at them, and you . . .”
I punched the kid square in the face.
The mother screamed and swatted at me with a zombie purse, as I stood up and smashed her son’s Game Boy on the grated floor. At once, the bus halted, and one-by-one, the travelers came at me.
Swiping the purse, I wacked and pushed everyone in sight until I reached the front of the bus.
Tossing the purse to the ground, I ran as fast as I could to an old hotel at the end of the next block. Inside, I pulled out all of my cash from my wallet and told the woman at the desk, “I need a room as high up as you’ve got.”
She threw me a curious look and remained still for a moment. A phone resided next to her, a few inches from her anxious fingertips. She tapped along the countertop, her slight movements drawing more erratic by the second. The woman peered up at me, and I stared right back at her. As she started to reach for the phone, she pivoted around and grabbed the top left key from a pegboard behind her. “You’ll need to write yourself in,” she said before she slid a clipboard of forms in front of me.
Back then, time eluded me. I might’ve stayed in the room for a few days, although it felt like months. From time to time, I clicked on the television to see if I needed to find a new hideout, but there was one time when the evening news surprised me with a different sort of newscast. On the screen, a woman so starved she might as well been a zombie reported the tale of a new cult hero. A video package displayed dozens of people boasting hats, shirts, and lunchboxes with my face. Not only did the merchandise depict an unauthorized interpretation of me, but it my hand was a shotgun pointed at a mob of poorly sketched zombies. The videos of my fans cut short when the reporter pressed on her earpiece and said, “We’re now going live to the hotel, where our ‘cult hero’ was last seen checking in. Breaking news, folks: I’ve just received word that police are now in search—”
I slammed my thumb on the power button of the TV remote controller and bolted for the window. The window wouldn’t give as I tried to lift it open, so I grabbed the nearby end table and shattered through the glass no sooner than the police plowed through the door of my room.
Down below, reporters and a swarm of fans with my t-shirts all screamed up at me. There was a way out, for sure. I could’ve escaped through a set of emergency ladders around the hotel, but I hesitated at the sight of at least three hundred people cheering me on. Didn’t they get it? I guessed there were a lot of people who didn’t get it back then. Now I had to choose between escape and perpetuating the very thing I detested. It was either that or I’d have to succumb to the officers’ efforts to arrest me and go to jail as a wife-beater. One more glance at all the zombies below on the streets and I decided to do what was right. The right thing was not the rage back then. Arms straight out in front of me, I dropped to my knees and said to the police officers, “Please."
In anticipation of Somewhere in the Shadows, which is tentatively scheduled to release on December 01, 2012, I wanted to share a short snippet from my story "Charlatan".
For more information on this short story anthology, please visit here.Otherwise, enjoy!
At some point in our lives, most of us have spent time with another human being, who at first seemed quite lovely and breath-taking, but later wanted to take our breaths away literally. While there might be some sort of attraction to said person or a deep case of sympathy, someone who is genuinely frightened or concerned by their significant other would make the hard choice of walking away. However, for those of us who were not the "psychopaths", we might've made the worst decision ever. Why? Well, you'll have to continue reading. You might just be surprised by what follows.
It's getting closer to bedtime and you're looking at your loved one, thinking about the ways you would love to express your love. The day was a long one, and now you want to share the excitement of a relationship and reduce stress in one fell swoop. You start with the sweet nothings and pillow talk shortly before your loved one turns to you and says they're too tired, too stressed, or they have a headache. Now, making love would be the cure-all in this instance, but it takes two to tango. Getting two people to agree about anything is difficult. So there you are, wanting to embrace your lover and wishing the stressors keeping you awake at night would go away. What do you do?