Thursday, May 9, 2013

It's not horror, but hey my Kobun can write!

This is a special post.
More than nine months ago I took an apprentice. Yeah, I know it may sound odd for an upcoming writer just out of his shell, but it happened by pure chance. When I was in Thailand I worked almost 22 hours per day on the Internet, promoting, looking for publishing houses accepting unsolicited manuscripts, and chatting with a lot of people in the writing world. Some of those people were colleagues. Some were publishers and editors. Some were readers.
One of these readers, Lorraine Versini, had just read and reviewed 'Thrill of the Hunt', my first non-horror story. We chatted a lot, and quickly became friends, having a lot in common. And one night I asked her if she had ever penned down something. She said no, but she always dreamed about that. I explained to her that dreaming isn't the way: you either write or you don't. There's no dreaming. This brought about the Japanese concept of Oyabun-Kobun relationship.
The Oyabun-Kobun institution is one in which persons, usually unrelated by close kin ties, enter into a compact to assume obligations of a diffuse nature similar to those ascribed to members of one’s immediate family. The relationship is formally established by means of a ceremony involving many of the expressive symbolisms of birth and marriage. Both the terms of address and the assignment of roles within the group are patterned on the Japanese family system: the leader becomes a ritual parent and his followers, symbolic children. This ritual family can, like the true family, be extended so that several “generations” of ritual kinsmen may be observed.
Actually, this relationship isn't based on blood, but on kinship, or attitude. A master craftsman used to take in an apprentice and swore to teach him all his skills and protect him, but also be resolute and severe. Just like a biological father would do.
My Oyabun is Franklin E. Wales and he can be as sweet as the best key lime pie or as tough as nails. And I'm grateful for that.
So, I did the same for Lorraine Versini, but not before she had me read what she had in her mind. She sent me the first chapter of a story she is still writing. And my my! I was shocked. She has a dark, but poetic ways with words and a style very similar to my own.
Here's a sample from her work in progress, Till Death Do Us Part.


“Do you love me?”
“Do you need me?”
“I do.”


He stared at her slim lips as she took a sip of the dark liquid. From where he was standing, the glow from the moonlight was bathing her face in the most surreal halo, her translucent skin like a pearl in an ocean of obscurity. His heart fluttered at the thought that she was his angel for all eternity.

Those lips were his. Only his.


And they had to be his now, for he could feel the need growing in him, the passion about to erupt like a volcano that has been lying dormant for too many a century. Finally, the lips parted from the crystal wineglass; it was time for him to make a move. However, as he leaned his face forward, her finger pressing on his lips stopped him.

A wet finger.

Slowly, and sensually, his tongue darted out to taste the unusual juice now being smeared with certain urgency over his lower labia. It felt smooth and viscous to his buds, and tasted tangy and metallic.

His thin, claw-like fingers dug into the back of her neck. “Oh, Babe,” he groaned, “Abso … fuckin … lutely.”

The wineglass shattered on the floor a second later, its contents rapidly mingling with the oppressive blackness that had already filled the small motel room. A shriek among the clattering sounds. The man felt her frail hands tugging at his shirt, then she was hungrily eating at his lips. He had the power, because she needed him. Better, she was desperate for him. Equally, he wanted her. Here. Right now.

Aroused, he grabbed her burgeoning left breast with his right hand and, breaking their embrace, forcibly pushed her a couple of steps back towards the wall. Buttons from his shirt went pinging to the floor, and as her back thudded against the stiffness of the wall, he felt the rush of her hot breath hit his chest, and the ruffling of his black hairs send tingles down his spine. Rapidly, his hands moved, and his fingers felt the nipple, there, begging for his attention. He pinched it hard through the flimsy fabric of her cotton blouse, and her meowy moan went straight to his yearning groin. She had to be his.


The man’s downturned lips covered the girl’s again while she worked on ridding his hips of the black jeans he wore. Seizing a handful of her blonde, wispy hair, he sharply lowered her to the floor, and in a flash, his body was all over hers; the only thing left to do was to run his hands up her skirt and push her panties aside, before savagely taking her right there, among the shards of glass and the spilled nectar.

Later, sniffing sounds brought him out of his heavenly afterglow. Lifting his still fuzzy head, he glanced towards the human shape curled up in a hidden corner of the room. From this far, he could not see any of the facial features, just the pale shimmery silhouette of a white satin dress, dark coloured marks speckling the otherwise uniform surface.

“Shut the fuck up, woman!” The man snapped.

The sobs wouldn’t stop and that got him really pissed. Anger came out of him in a loud grunt, as he slowly pushed himself up; he then fitted his pants back on, and walked over to the distressed person. Fuming, the man slapped his hand hard to her face, feeling the tears, the mashed pulp of her cheek and the hardness of her zygomatic bone all at once. Her muffled scream echoed in the room, and tipped him over the edge to the point of no return.

This time, he punched the woman, all his strength gathered in his fist; so hard that she fell to her side and her shoulder met the cold tiled floor in a painful way. Thankfully, something cushioned her head’s landing. Something round and squishy.

Suddenly, lights brightened the room, and the woman blinked for a few moments, while her sore, tear-filled eyes tried to adjust, and the cloud of dizziness caused by the blow dispersed. Eventually, she managed to focus on the girl’s skinny form, which was still standing there with her bony hand on the switch, staring back with a smug look on her face. Then, the shape of a large foot appeared in the woman’s outer field of vision.

She recognised that shoe: the two-toned leather, pointed toe shoe, and the expensive black Merino wool trouser leg. This foot belonged to her husband. Suddenly, she felt hope warming her heart. Was he still alive?

Quickly and clumsily, she tried to scramble upright, but her hands were bound behind her back, and the only way she could find to push herself from the floor was by using her right elbow. To no avail because, with a slurp that sounded so loud to her ringing ears, it slipped in what she instantly discovered being clotted blood.

Lots of it. Too much of it.

Horrified, she understood. It was not her blood.

Eyes wide shot in terror, she looked at the girl again, now much closer, standing beside her partner, her elbow resting on his shoulder, the arm folded back so the phalange of her index finger was in her mouth. The stick legs that were dangling from her denim skirt were crossed at the onyx coloured Doc Martens that were covering her feet.

Two frightening monsters contemplating her vulnerable, defenceless body. One with the face of a black hawk closing in on his prey, the other with the look of a cherubic being and the attitude of an evil cat that got the cream.

In one last desperate attempt at protecting herself, the woman drew her knees to her chest and cocooned. Her breathing was fast, and she could feel beads of sweat running along the forehead. A cry escaped from her lips when she felt the man’s boot crushing her ribs, as the pain of the snapping bones and of her lungs compressing immobilised her.

Then she felt the chill of metal. The blade easily sliced through the skin of her neck, and a sudden gush of liquid warmth spilling from her jugular vein wetted what was left of her already sweat and blood drenched clothes. Instead of panicking, she just closed her eyes, and abandoned herself to the darkness that was going to engulf her during the last twelve seconds of her too short life.

It was over.

“Babe, you outdid yourself on this one,” appraised the girl. “Must have been your cleanest job ever!”

Turning his face, he stood up straight, puffing his rather lanky chest with pride. Once he had covered the couple of steps that were separating him from the love of his life, he wrapped his gangly arms around her and held her tight, clinging to the tiny frame as if to freeze this moment in his memory, as if to engrave this feeling of power and invincibility in his soul.

Struggling for air, she slowly released herself from his grasp, “It's time,” she whispered, as if she knew that a few extra decibels would ruin the magic.

He nodded, then silently moved towards the bodies, and she made a point of checking his backside as he bent over the couple now reunited in the afterlife. The man’s hands fumbled with the corpses, but it was only seconds before he was facing his beloved again. His right hand found her left, which was hanging lazily at her side, and he lifted it up so he could see it. While the pad of his thumb softly caressed her prominent knuckles, his gaze met hers and he looked at her lovingly. Never mind her hair matted with blood. Never mind her face wearing gore as some kind of war paint. To him, she was still the most ravishing creature on Earth.

Ceremonially, he placed the bloodstained, shiny gold band on her finger.

“Mary, with this ring, I thee wed.”


Do you see what I saw?
Talent. Pure, raw talent.
So, she became my Kobun. She wrote other stuff, from a weird supernatural short to a wild romance set in the Jura mountains, but they are all waiting to be published. Finally, I pushed for her to put out a short fairy tale she wrote for a Valentine contest on Facebook. And here it is.

It's a simple story, but very well written and showing all the passion this vibrant new author feels in her literary veins. So, do yourself a favor, buy a copy (hell, it's just 99 cents!) and go back to the time of childhood, when sad princes met their true love in the wilds.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What would you do if you knew you were going to die?

This is the first line in my newest release, FIVE.

I started writing it on September 2012 while under the effects of a severe depression bout. After penning down 'HAUNT' (published in the From Beyond the Grave anthology), I was in a dreary and pessimistic mood: my life was going on a bad spell and the only thing which kept me going was my writing. My long-lasting relationship was falling apart, and my social life in Thailand was rather ... nonexistent.
'Haunt' sent me to the other side; feeling already dead, it was natural for me to sympathize for a ghost.

Yet, 'FIVE' brought me back.
It started as a negative view of existence itself, but the more I wrote about this guy (Arthur J. Jones) and his weird encounter with a strange creature offering him the answers to five of his questions, the more I cheered up. Because reality is a personal viewpoint, there are no strict rules at this.
By the time I was writing the third chapter, I met an extraordinary person who spent a lot of time talking to me and discovering we had a lot in common. This chance meeting turned into a major spin to my life, and soon, my almost doomed character found a different approach at how to face existential troubles.

So, what is 'FIVE' about?
It’s a funny horror tale that I can’t describe or categorize. A cross between Stephen King’s ‘Needful Things’ and a dark version of Aladdin’s tale. It’s full of literary and pop references, some based on actual folklore and other of my own creation. The problem with FIVE is that I can’t reveal much about it without spoiling the story. You have to just read chapter one, if Mister Arthur J. Jones doesn’t drag you in the story, well this probably means FIVE isn’t right for you.



What would you do if you knew you were going to die?
Oh, I’m not meaning in the traditional way; we are all bound to die now or then. I’m talking about knowing the exact hour and day of your departure, and how you’re going to buy the farm.
Would you spend your shortening time with your family? Taking care of things—and affections—you took for granted? Making love to your partner every darn day, instead of the usual Saturday night quickie; listening to the rants of your love-struck daughter, and making peace with your ungrateful sister that kicked you out of the family house so many years ago?
Would you spend it by dating as many as possible, one or more a night, or wrecking away your liver with so much alcohol you could fuel all cars in Detroit for a whole year?
Or would you retire to a monastic life, praying every day to repent your sins and for peace in the world? Amen.
I’m doing nothing special. I’m just wearing my best suit, after shaving myself clean, combing my hair in front of my three thousand dollar mirror, and looking at my tanned reflection.
For I KNOW I’m going to die today.
I have a date with Ms. Reaper at eight PM, down at the crossway between Okeechobee Drive and Lakeview Parkway, right in front of Meeks’ Fish & Tackle, when my black Porsche will be so attracted to a lonely willow that it will rush at it in a passionate hug, and this romantic moment will be underscored by a soundtrack of grinding metal, shattering glass, and my own scream.
I know, I know, a zillion questions are crowding your mind right now.
Why don’t I simply skip my appointment with the Grim Lady and go somewhere else, or just avoid driving the whole day? How do I know about my death? Why I do believe in such daft stuff? And most of all: how can I afford a Porsche?
Yep, I see that.
First let me introduce myself, then I’ll tell you everything—about my death, my forecast, and my fortunes.
The name’s Arthur, Arthur J. Jones. The J stands for Jonah.
And up to one year ago I was a hobo. Yes, you heard it well. I was a bum, a vagrant, a homeless bastard shunned by everyone here in Prosperity Glades, one of those people you look at like a discarded and crumpled can, or worse. Well, you’ve got the idea.
But now I’m a respected son of a bitch, with more green in my bank account than the whole Glades. I own an excessively large mansion at Johnston Hall Estates, have a personal jet in Fort Lauderdale, a very big yacht anchored at Biscayne Bay, and thirteen percent shares in a name company. Luckily, I have no family. No wife or kids.
No one.
So, no one will miss me when they’ll extract my mangled body—this time really looking like a bent soda can—from the car’s metal, coming out of it like a stillborn fetus in a parody of life and death.
Well, except Sandy.
Sandy the Dandy, to be more precise. Dandizette would be more fitting for she is a chick; and a pretty one, too. She is a bum, like I was, eking out a living in the dirty streets of West Bend. She makes her carton home in the parking lot, just to the Banshee’s Cry’s left. I still do not understand how she can sleep with all the mess coming out of that coyote ugly nightclub. But she likes the place and there’s no way of moving her out of it.
She was born Sandy A. Carver, the illicit daughter of a Texan motherfucker that placed a loaf inside her mom’s oven down in Miami, then ran back to his legitimate wife and kids in Amarillo. However, years later, he took plight of his hidden secret and came back when she was sixteen, when Darleen, Sandy’s mom, had died of cancer, and offered her his surname and a large sum to clean up his conscience. But it was too late. Sandy spat on his face right in front of the few mourners at the funeral home and kicked him straight in the jewels, sending him howling out in the green fields. People who saw the scene still recall it as the funniest thing they had ever seen at a burial.
I missed it. I was twenty-one and working like a mule for a packing company up in Vero Beach. That was before the first Bad Thing happened. Even long before the second Bad Thing happened. Or the Real Bad Thing.
The first Bad Thing happened on a bright day of June 1995 when my whole family disappeared in a big crash on the Turnpike. I had no relatives, and all of a sudden I found myself alone in the world. It was a tough thing to swallow, like gulping down a damn gator for sure. And I wasn’t so good at swallowing.
In less than a year I was out in the streets, depressed, boozy, and busted, by God. I had not an ounce of clean blood in my veins, or better, my system was so full of alcohol I could explode just by lighting a cig. What a wreck.
Well, to make a long and boring story short, I lived as a wino for more than sixteen years, drifting around from hamlet to town in a never-ending search for something I didn’t want or care for. I simply existed; more a vegetable, or a fungus, than a man. I had no balls to kill myself, and mostly had lost all the primary functions in my intoxicated brain, so that I lived in my own mental reservation, talking to imaginary people and shaking my fist at trees stealing my shadow.
Yet, everything changed on a rainy October night (yeah, I know this is a cliché, but it really happened on a rainy night, whatchagonnado, kiddo?) in Cortez street when I took refuge inside that damned abandoned house. I was feverish and on the verge of dying for sure had not that strange guy come out of nowhere to rescue me.
And you know what? It would have been better for me had I died that night.
For that was the second Bad Thing. Or the Real Bad Thing.
Do you believe in scary stories? No? Well, take a seat and help yourself with the rum bottle over there, for I’m going to tell you one of the weirdest you’ll ever hear, something to chill the blood in your veins.
Something to die for.

Edited by Natalie G. Owens, proofread by Lorraine Versini, and published by May-December Publications LLC: