<![CDATA[You'll Thank <br />    Me Later - My writing]]>Fri, 11 Dec 2015 09:34:45 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Cage the Blood]]>Fri, 13 Mar 2015 01:43:57 GMThttp://ocdeditor.weebly.com/my-writing/cage-the-bloodFor those clients who might be interested in my writing, my current WIP is tentatively titled Cage the Blood and is slowly developing into a series. A lot of people who know me know that I am really into Norse mythology, and I began to notice that a lot of the Norse reproduction artwork I like is Swedish. I notice more Swedish artists coming to the forefront...and I had a high-school friend who was Swedish, so that's why I decided to make my main character Swedish-American. I am slowly attempting to teach myself Swedish, with the goal of visiting Sweden before I'm 40. 

And yes, I know the first translation is inaccurate. I did that intentionally.

Scott Nicholson's story, "The Vampire Shortstop," which is contained within the short story collection Flowers, gave me the idea. After reading it, I couldn't stop thinking about sports and blood and vampires. It made me think, wouldn't it be cool if an athlete began blood doping with vampire blood? But I didn't like the idea of yet another vampire novel, so I decided to have my main character blood doping with a demon.

I've decided to put an excerpt on my Wattpad page every week to help keep me honest about writing on it every week. The below is my first scene; weekly followups will be posted on my Wattpad page, and not on this site, because I probably won't remember to put them two places every week . . . but I might remember to periodically update, so you never know. Feedback is welcome and encouraged :-) The below is the semi-edited first scene from Cage the Blood:


                                              EN



Demon blood tingled along his shoulders, its warmth increasing as it rolled down his nine-hundred human muscles. When the sensation moved outward and reached his fingertips, the comfortable warmth turned into the inescapable burn of pushing a key into an electrical outlet. That burn wouldn’t let go. He blinked his human eyes—tears puddled in their corners and began to sting. The other swimmers warmed their muscles: jumping up and down, slapping at their chests, and rotating their torsos and arms in various motions. Some readjusted their water caps and plastic glasses; others blew through their mouths, hard. Then came the whistle: eee, eee, eee.

Fredrik Sköld’s salty eyes squinted into focus. He rolled his head in a circle and rubbed his hands together, quickly, to get that loose feeling.

Shake off the pain. You’re better than this.

This was the Freddie who was born knowing that he must swim to really live. Fredrik Sköld, when he was five, stood on a child’s wooden desk in his first-year grundskola classroom in Stockholm, fists on his hips as he proclaimed, “Du tittar på USA: s OS-guldmedaljören i simning!” Olympic champion for swimming! There was no stopping him then, and there would be no stopping him now.

Swim jackets and towels sprawled along white lounge chairs across from the swimming lanes, and, to his demon eyes, people strolled around the pool when they should have walked.

The demon blood, each bolus a slow-moving clot, had been difficult to transfuse. Mike, the demon, had an easier time of it: at the smallest prick, the blood had completely filled two very special syringes—all that he would need. But would the sludge kill Fredrik?

Bullet-like determination pushed through him—the crowd began to vanish, one small detail at a time. A tsunami of blood rushed through his veins, his heart audibly beating in deep, thick waves. Time crawled. Slowly, everything but the water dissolved and went white—no judges, no swimmers and their noises, and no girlfriend whistling and stomping her feet in the crowd.

Excruciating pain brought him to his knees, and he bowed his head. Fog surrounded him, it seemed, and pushed him farther and farther into the aquatic center’s smooth, painted tiles—pressure building on his shoulders. But the fog wasn’t fog. Not when he came to his senses. Blinking, thin cobwebs grazed his palms and his knees—air but more than air touched him. A few deep breaths later, he found the strength to pull himself up from his knees. It’s just a little pain. You’re unstoppable, especially now.

But there must be a sacrifice. That’s what the demon had said.

Coach Nils pulled him from the world of demons with a single gesture: pointing at the other swimmers, as if counting them. “Don’t forget. It’s your way now, and when it’s your way once, it’s always your way. The mind always remembers.”

“Yeah.”

Despite Freddie’s preternaturally silent nature, he managed to approach each swimmer, grasp his hand, and wish him luck. His father would have criticized his politeness. Pappa was always critical and suspicious of kindness, seeing it as a subtle form of manipulation.

Coach Nils loomed behind him, whispering advice while holding his shoulder in a brotherly way. “You go out there and give them hell, ya?”

“Oh, ya.”

“Did you call your pappa? I don’t see him here.”

Freddie, always interested in his father’s suspicious activities, swiveled his head around slowly and asked, “When have you ever met Pappa?”

“Stockholm, years ago. He came to the swim center once.”

“Huh.” But there was nothing else to say, and all the other swimmers had begun to approach the edge of the pool.

The painful sensations increased. Just how bad did he want it?

Eyes still blurred with tears, it was as if the smoke had cleared so that he could see everything around him, only sharper. Everything was sharper, more focused. He heard Jenny whistling the way she always did: with two fingers in her mouth as she stomped her feet. He could almost taste the lilac smell of her skin. Winning mattered—it really mattered—but what would he have to sacrifice?

The swimmers slipped into the water with their legs and toes pointed like ballerinas. They turned around and climbed up with knees bent to push their feet against the pool’s wall, gripping the sides of the metal rungs attached just beneath the starting blocks, but not quite in position yet. Then a second whistle screeched through the auditorium, pealing four times. “Take your mark,” said a man over the loudspeaker. They all pulled their bodies up into a slightly higher position, knees still bent. Boop!  The swimmers arched their backs and pushed off the wall, pumping their arms and legs backward.

That TV had cost him too much.

Demon blood surged through his veins, driving him toward the finish line in an attempt to escape the burn. Pool water splashed through the edges of the swim goggles and into his eyes, and he welcomed the cool water on his face.

His fingertips touched the smooth wall, and he bobbed out of the water and allowed his feet to slap the concrete, splashing as he shook his head from side to side. The race had ended.

All the other swimmers had stayed in the water, floating, with their eyes fixed on the scoreboard. But Fredrik raced to his towel and robe, flipped his swim goggles to the top of his head, and started to make a run for it. Swirling his swim robe in a high arc, he pushed his arms through it, pulled his goggles off, tossed all his things into a duffel bag, and darted his eyes away from the thousands of people watching him.

The indoor arena was pocketed with darkness in the upper corners and clustered with harsh fluorescent light and flickering flashbulbs throughout.

Lilacs suddenly bloomed in the air; he ground to a halt and slowly turned. Jenny.

“Did you see your score?” her soft voice asked.

Fredrik scratched his chest, his legs—as soon as he had emerged from the water, little razor blades seemed to scratch and scrape just underneath his skin. Squinting against the shimmer of the water, an image appeared. No one else had gazed at the water in amazement, hypnotized into attention as his or her demon rippled along the water and gave a high-pitched child’s giggle. “I could get used to this.”

“Well, don’t,” Freddie muttered.

Jenny touched his shoulder, and she kissed his cheek, pulling him back to a world without demons.

“You still think . . . some demon . . . . What do you think, exactly?”

He turned away from her, and the demon was gone; the burn continued deeply, but slowly became more of a flickering sensation—slow-racing Christmas lights. One foot in the demon’s world and one foot in the human world.

Fredrik ran his hand along charcoal-black waves of hair, which had been clipped very short. Static electricity pricked his fingers. People always stared at him—being so tall, having those teeth, and a body with pliable muscles as rounded as a doughy baguette.

“Isn’t this what you wanted?” Jenny asked.

There, on the scoreboard, an astonishing number: 1:53.88. Faster than the Olympic world record.

“That can’t be right,” he whispered. Unexpectedly, for a split second, a toothy grin crept up his face. One hand clenched into a fist, nearly ready to punch the air in victory. But he covered his mouth so as not to reveal the extreme overbite that hung far over his lips.

Jenny pulled his hand from his mouth and kissed it. “A man without flaws is no man at all. You are the most determined swimmer here, you know. The only one who will make it into the Olympics.”

A wide smile spotlighted his face as he squeezed her to him and kissed the top of her head. Two swans nuzzling at the crooks of their necks. But the pain continued. “I love you,” he said, voice breathy.

“I know.” She winked.

The smallest kindness can cause the most intense actions.

Jenny said, “The judges are all as surprised as you are. But they think it’s a legitimate win. Why aren’t you happy? This is what you’ve worked so hard for.”

 The roof of his mouth seemed made of cotton, and a marble-like lump drifted up from the back of his throat. “Oh, God.” He bent at the waist and put his head in his hands. Not like this. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Standing up straight again, the acidy feeling rolled back down his throat. I’m okay. Freddie hadn’t won the race; he was a puppet on a set of strings and his blood, the puppet master—it was as if the world had watched as someone had pushed him off a mountain but everyone believed that he had jumped. And the pain from the blood—would it be like that every time he raced?

Cameras flashed and glittered into a daytime meteor shower. Cool-cucumber Freddie pulled his gold-rimmed sunglasses from his swim bag, flipped them open, and jammed them onto his face. Jenny snickered. “Those ridiculous things always make me think of Elvis in sequin suits.”

 “Eh, you can be as ridiculous as you want to be with numbers like that,” his swim coach, Nils, who’d just walked up, assured her.

His 6’4” heavier-muscled swim coach pulled him into a hug, jumped with excitement, and kissed the top of his head, but then he froze. “What’s wrong with your skin?” Nils whispered.

He stood up. “I don’t know, but . . . .” Snuff snuff. “You smell that?”

Sulfur. His skin like cracked parchment.

“We should get you home,” Jenny said.

She pecked his cheek and walked with them to the entrance of the locker room. Pushing her back against the clammy, smooth cement wall, she bent one leg and held her foot flat against the wall. A “cool kid” pose—you’d almost expect her to try to bum a cigarette.

Everything blurred, went into slow motion. Slooooow clapping. “Heyyy guuuys, greaaat gaaame,” a deep voice belched in the locker room. Bright lights everywhere from the press—people being interviewed on bench seats, clicking open their lockers, taking off their shoes and retying them for no reason. Were they modeling? Nothing made sense.

“Are you okay?” Nils said.

“Oh, uh . . . yeah. Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Just . . . .” He zipped into his track suit and pulled on his winter parka.

“You are sweating a lot.”

Freddie touched his index finger to his forehead, burned his fingertip as if touching a hot stove, and did his best not to react. “Maybe I’m siiiick.” The words drifted, and he wasn’t sure if they drifted . . . or of anything else. The demon crawled in a vapor trail along the locker room’s long, rectangular mirror, its image screeching against the glass.

Freddie held his hands to his ears and stumbled out of the locker room, a group of people huddled behind him. He turned and watched as Nils stopped, handed each of them business cards, and said in a low tone, “You can see he’s not feeling well.” The group was a blur, an abstract painting on a kitchen wall. But the crowd dispersed in faint mumbles.

Jenny jogged up to them, and despite being only five feet one, she managed to get an arm around each of their shoulders. There was something so disarmingly genuine about Jenny that Freddie, like everyone else, went along with whatever she wanted; any tall man would lean down for her, and any short man would stand on his tiptoes.

“Onward, boys!” she suddenly shouted, her eyes sparkling as she broke free from their shoulders and led them through the maze of the two-story aquatic center in Greensboro, North Carolina. Nils loped after her, and they walked side by side, while Freddie lagged far behind.

Trudging behind Jenny and Nils one leaden step at a time, walking through quicksand toward the Jeep, the other vehicles reflected sunshine off their windows and clean metallic bodies. The demon appeared—a voyeuristic presence.

Jenny pried the duffel bag from his hand. There was bottled water in the SUV.

“Water, please,” he gasped.

A bottle soared through the air, and he caught it long before it began its descent. Slurp slurp slurp. The Jeep’s driver’s-side door clapped shut, and they were on their way home. Reflections surrounded him: traffic lights, vanity mirrors, the windshield, and even the sparkling-clean hood. Glug glug glug. The demon grinned into a billion fractured pieces so that Fredrik had no perception of himself anymore, only the demon.

“Tonight’s the night, Freddie,” the demon whispered. The sacrifice.

The sharp burn that had covered his entire body had calmed into a dull ache, muscles twitching involuntarily. All those reflections . . .  but now, the demon had gone. He relaxed back into his seat.

Olympic fantasies played behind his half-closed eyes, as they often did during calm moments. A gold medal dangled from his neck, and someone handed him a ridiculously large bouquet of flowers. He smiled and bowed, gracious.

But when he raised his hand to wave at the crowd, it wasn’t a human hand. It was a claw attached to a wolf-like forearm—a demon’s limb.

His eyes flew open.

***
THANKS FOR READING!

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