The Narrator Part 05

(A Collaboration with SeeJayStarkDotCom)


Part 05

I… do not… have… dark vision.

After following Luda in a few steps I hear the heavy door of the dungeon slam closed behind us and I am swallowed by the inky black void. My eyes are wide as I search the room in a panic but every direction offers me the same view; nothing.

“Why did you close the door?” I yell as I spin around and start stepping toward the door with my hands stretched out in front of me.

“It closed by itself,” I hear Luda say somewhere behind me.

I step forward blindly and after a few steps I panic even further. I only took a few steps in, the door shouldn’t be this far away from where I was… but, then I had spun around; did I disorient myself? Am I moving away from the door and not closer to it?

My hand finds something leathery and firm and I freeze, standing still as a statue. Something at the other end of my hand is breathing, I can feel the rise and fall of its flesh under my hand and hear its exhalations. My mind begins to run through all the creatures I know the Author had created; how many of them were tough and leathery?

Goblins traditionally have leathery skin, but they’re much shorter; also, the Author has a fondness for goblins and tends to make them more adorable than fearsome. For his Lochinvar series the Author had created an undead rat-human hybrid that had leathery skin and mottled patches of fur. It had become known as Ratticus, and was befriended by Luda. I highly doubt that this is Ratticus, but the Author could have created some similarly ungodly monstrosity to-

A light suddenly sparks into existence just a foot or so to my side and I come face to face with… Bastian… I… I have been groping Bastian’s leather clad chest.

Bastian’s very firm, leather clad chest.

“You seem to be lacking a common trait of dungeon delvers,” Bastian says in a tone completely unfazed by my handsy-ness. “I had judged by your ears that you were of Elven descent, but perhaps I was mistaken?”

It takes a few seconds for his words to settle in my brain as my focus remains upon the contents of my hand. I’m poking absent mindedly at his perfectly toned chest. Somehow, he is firm, but soft. I can’t feel the flesh directly but judging by what I can feel I’m betting his skin is perfectly smooth and soft like a baby’s belly. I’ve never felt a baby’s belly, but I’ve described them a lot and this is what I would imagine a baby’s belly wrapped in leather armor might feel like; if that baby did, like, 100 situps a day or something.

Then his words reach the center point of my brain and I look up at him quizzically.

“My ears?” My hand leaves his chest and is joined by my other hand as I fondle my own ears. I have to find them under long locks of hair, which as it turns out are blonde, and I find that they come to a point at the top. “I’m an elf?” I wonder out loud. Naturally, me questioning my own race causes Bastian some confusion. I check on Luda and sure enough he’s staring at me like I just licked a doorknob.

“I mean, of course I’m an elf. Sorry if that came out like a question, I am very nervous and uncomfortable right now given the fact that it is completely pitch black in here.” I begin to ramble but my voice fades away as I mumble quietly and then fall silent.

“You are certainly not the first elf with a degenerative sight condition,” Bastian says. “Though most do not join the ranks of adventurer for this exact reason. No matter; I have a supply of torches that may light our way-“

“No good,” Luda interrupts and moves himself between me and Bastian. He digs through his bag for a moment before producing a pair of goggles that he promptly holds up to me. “We must travel in the dark; it’s sneakier.”

I take the goggles and examine them. They seem like perfectly normal goggles to me, like the sort worn by mad scientists. There is no elastic, just a leather strap with an adjustable clasp by the left side of the lenses. I shrug and work them over my head and settle them over my eyes. I blink a few times and look around; everything looks perfectly normal.

“Are these supposed to do someth- oh.” The torch extinguishes half way through my sentence, but instead of being plunged into darkness my vision switches to black, white, and about 50 or so shades of gray. I can finally get a good look at the room we’re in; it’s just a big square of flat rock walls with a door at the far end.

Bastian pats my back as he passes by and follows Luda to the far door, leaving me to spin about in place as I explore what my new Elven eyes can see.

I… have… dark vision!

Journaling Prompt 003

Hey! Ollie here with another prompt! It’s a journaling prompt, so answer however you like!

What I want to know is:

Who is your favorite fictional character?

What book/series are they from? What draws you to them? Who should play them in a movie?

Respond whenever/however you like and feel free to drop a link in the comments!
Tagging it #OwOprompts would be super cool too!

__________ __________ __________

SSS – Wear

This post is a participation in The Weekly Six Sentence Story Challenge hosted by Denise over at GirlieOnTheEdge

This week’s word is:

Wear

  • to have on ones body, such as clothing or jewelry
  • to damage, erode, or destroy by friction or use

Weary

“I don’t like it,” the man grumbled as he leaned against the floor to ceiling window of the office, peering out across the streets of the city twenty floors below{.} “They lumber around, wearing our neighbors like bespoke costumes, crowding the streets by the thousands{.} They’re not even proper zombies, they still talk, they still run, and they don’t eat what they kill – they just – I don’t know, hulk out; they smash{.}”

“That’s why we call them remnants, Rio,” Sam forced her duffel-bag closed and clicked the clasp in place to hold it together{.} “I know it’s wearing on you – it’s wearing on everyone – that’s why we’re all splitting up to go find more secure facilities outside the city{.} Now, hurry up, get your shit together; you and I are checking out that Habitech shelter up in the hills{.}”

PS

If the names or subject of the above story ring any bells then that means you’ve probably read some of my stuff over at SeeJayStark.com! I wrote most of the Tales from the Wasteland with Shay, Rio, and Sam. CJ and I have written multiple collaborative stories but… I’ve always kept my name off of them. I get really anxious when sharing my work; however, since CJ has been posting it, they’ve shown me all the kind, supportive comments the stories have been receiving and CJ suggested I start my own blog… so… I did… and, everyone is still being super kind and supportive!

So… yeah hope y’all continue to enjoy.

Project Hail Mary

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Author: Andy Weir

Narrator: Ray Porter

Genre: Sci-Fi (Hard)

Purchase:
Barnes and Noble
Audible

Look, I don’t want to start this review by saying that I’m angry at Andy Weir and Ray Porter for making me FEEL stuff, but… I’m angry at Andy Weir and Ray Porter for making me feel stuff.

No, not really. I’m super happy with them and their work. Andy Weir did an amazing job writing this story; the entire time from beginning to end I felt like I was right there beside the main protagonist, Rayland Grace, a name with a red squiggly under it no matter how many times I say ignore. Through every step of Rayland’s journey through space to save humanity I felt as though I was present in the situation, standing by his side, experiencing every moment of terror and excitement with him.

The story is an absolute roller coaster of emotions, starting with a good dose of confusion and wonder when Rayland wakes up in a room with no idea of where he is, why he’s there, or… who he is. His questions of self identity and purpose, as well as many other questions, are answered through a series of flashbacks that slowly reveal more and more of how he wound up on a space ship as humanity’s last hope against extinction.

Ray Porter, the narrator, gives one of the best performances of his career narrating the story. As it’s told in first person, Ray is in character for the entirety of the 16 hour run time allowing us, the readers/listeners, to grow intimately close to Rayland. Ray puts such life and emotion into the character that between him and the writing of Andy Weir, Rayland feels real… and I got attached.

I could easily ramble for another few hundred words, so I’m going to cut myself off and leave you with this; Project Hail Mary is the best book I have read in a long time, and I haven’t finished a book so fast since I stayed up all night reading Michael Crichton’s “Sphere.”

Assuming… Assuming you don’t count when things got really emotional and I had to set the book down for a few days. If you don’t count that little break, then yeah, I blew through this book so fast it would have made Astrophage jealous.

This is a book I would definitely recommend to any science fiction fan… or, just anyone who enjoys a really good story.

P.S. I absolutely love Rocky.

The Narrator 04

(A Collaboration with SeeJayStarkDotCom)


Part 04

Bastian and I stand back as Luda investigates the large metal door that blocks the way forward. His fingers feel around the edges of the frame, he peaks into the cracks and crevices around the door, then he turns and looks at us.

“Can I get some help?” Luda asks.

Before I can even consider a response, Bastian has stepped forward.

“Anything,” Bastian declares as he crosses the space and kneels before Luda. They exchange a few quiet words before Bastian nods, stands, then sticks his hands under Luda’s arms and lifts him onto his own shoulders. This baffles me for a moment as it seems completely out of place for two adventurers in a dungeon setting. I am about to ask what they’re doing when Bastian steps toward the door and Luda’s fingers begin to trace the upper section of the door frame that had previously been out of his reach.

“Huh,” I mutter, then shake my head and shrug my shoulders.

A moment later Bastian hefts Luda off his shoulders and sets him down.

“It’s safe!” Luda declares. He turns, grasps the handle of the door, and with a mighty heave he pulls it open. I can only see a few yards beyond the door before my vision is swallowed by a deep, inky darkness… and my stomach sinks.

I have no idea what lurks in the darkness beyond.

I, the narrator of hundreds of the Author’s stories, have always known everything. I knew where every monster was down every hall, what the character’s were thinking, where the traps were; through my entire existence I have been an omniscient being hovering over the action and parsing out the interesting details so that I may tell an intriguing story to you, the reader. I knew all, I saw all… but I didn’t always share all.

But now… now I am no more aware of these things than you are. No more aware than the characters whose stories I tell.

The stories I used to tell.

Am I now an Unreliable Narrator?!

I’m sorry, reader… No, I want to be sorry that I am no longer a reliable source of knowledge, but honestly, I’m scared. Without my knowledge of everything… what do I have?

A hand rests on my shoulder and I finally look away from the darkness beyond the door. My focus had tunneled into the void and I had lost awareness of my surroundings, I had forgotten that Bastian and Luda were even there. I, the narrator, forgot that the main characters were in my presence.

I look to the hand on my shoulder and follow the arm to find Bastian with a warm, comforting smile.

“Friend,” he says, “Is this your first dungeon?”

I shake my head; I have narrated hundreds of dungeons across thousands of words and pages. But then I pause as I consider his question and my situation. Briefly, my head moves in a circle as I shift from shaking my head to nodding it.

“Sort of,” I answer. “I’ve told a lot of stories about dungeons but I’ve never been down one myself.”

Bastian chuckles and squeezes my shoulder reassuringly.

“Don’t worry,” Bastian says. “I have been down more dungeons than I can count. I have never lost a companion and I do not intend to start doing so today. You have nothing to fear. We will move forward, slowly and methodically. Our new friend, Luda, will search ahead and liberate our path from secretive mechanical menaces, while I tend to whatever living creatures seek to harm us. You-“ He pauses and looks me over. “Well, I am afraid I do not yet know your strengths. As such, you will participate in whatever way feels comfortable to you; be that up front with me, or cheering us on from the rear.”

Bastian’s eyes settle on my waist and for the briefest of moments I see what appears to be confusion… or, disappointment?

“I see that you are unarmed,” Bastian continues, “in a dungeon.” I hear him take a deep breath and let it out, but when he lifts his face back to me he is smiling again and he offers me a firm nod. “No worries, dungeons tend to be crawling with creatures that carry a variety of arms, one of which you may claim when we cross them. So, as I was saying, do not worry; you are in good hands.”

The dread of not knowing what lies ahead lifts just a little. I stand straight and with a new resolve I step forward and follow Luda through the threshold and into the dungeon’s first room.

6SS – Shelter

This post is a participation in The Weekly Six Sentence Story Challenge hosted by Denise over at GirlieOnTheEdge

This week’s word is:

Shelter

  • A place that gives protection from bad weather or danger
  • Prevent someone from having to do or face something difficult
  • An animal sanctuary

Less Magical than the Books Make it Seem

After spending the majority of the day curled up in bed, the author finally sought to rectify his earlier mistake; the utterly humiliating error of posting to a 2 week old prompt.

The author tucked his laptop under his arm and ducked away into his office: the walk-in coat closet under the stairs.

“Excuse me, excuse me, sanctuary, sanctuary,” the author cried as he pushed past the piles of stuffed animals and dolls to find a secluded space at the back, hidden away from the door should anybody happen to peek inside.

He sat himself in the darkness, flipped open his laptop, laced his fingers together, cracked his knuckles, cracked his neck, straightened his back, shifted a teddy bear away from his groin, re-positioned the laptop, drank some imaginary tea from the tea set in the closet, had a brief conversation with Mrs. Crumbles the Princess of Closettia, then with a determined nod of his head… he began to think about writing.

The author stared at the blank screen before him for a long time before his fingers reached for the keyboard and, with the speed that only comes from hundreds, nay, thousands of hours of typing, he rapidly input the word “The,” deleted it, replaced it with “A,” deleted that, changed it to “Once,” deleted that too, supplanted it with “If only,” then, having run out of simple synonyms for ‘replaced’ and concluding that two words were better than one, he nodded with satisfaction and took a second tea break.

“I appreciate you allowing me to work here,” the author said, raising his cup to Mrs. Crumbles, “you’ve sheltered me from distractions, chores, responsibilities, and children for so long, and I am truly grateful.”

Journaling Prompt 002

Hey! Ollie here with another prompt! It’s a journaling prompt, so answer however you like!

What I want to know is:

What’s the first story you wrote?

How old were you? What was it about? Do you still have it? If yes, will you share it? Plleeeaaasssee??!!

Respond whenever/however you like and feel free to drop a link in the comments!
Tagging it #OwOprompts would be super cool too!

__________ __________ __________

I don’t remember which story was my first, but I know it was one of three I wrote when I was in Elementary school. Two of them were school assignments and the other was a Star Trek fan-fiction.

One of the first Elementary school writing assignments was to write a short story based on a photograph. The photo I was given was black and white and featured someone staring out a window, so I wrote a story about a young woman buying a house and discovering it was haunted.

The other writing assignment, and I can’t remember which came first, involved writing a short story based on a sentence. The sentence was something about a jewel in a cave, or something along those lines. I started writing and couldn’t stop. I wrote a story about two kids who went on an adventure to find their missing archaeologist dad. They had sword fights, drove cars through old caves, dove off waterfalls… it was exciting! I had to ask my teacher if I could turn it in late because I had only written the first two chapters by the due date.

Then there was the Star Trek Fan Fiction. Again, I don’t remember if I wrote these before or after the other two, but I know it was one of my first. I was a big fan of Star Trek (still am) and one day while watching an episode it dawned on me that there were children on the ship and I began to wonder what the kids were doing while everything else was happening. So, I wrote a story about a bunch of kids who had to save the crew after the ship was boarded and everyone was captured. They crawled through the vents from area to area, freeing people until they eventually had enough adults to fight back and reclaim the ship.

So, while I don’t know exactly what my first story was, I do know I wrote it in Elementary school and it was probably epic. I was a fan of science fiction and adventure stories, and that’s what I wrote back then.

I mean, it’s still pretty much what I write now, but it’s nice to know where my roots lie.

Ok, that is all! Ta ta!

-Ollie

6SS – Express

This post is a participation in The Weekly Six Sentence Story Challenge hosted by Denise over at GirlieOnTheEdge

This week’s word is:

Express

  • To convey a thought or feeling through words or gestures
  • Operating at high speed
  • Precisely and specifically identified

Writing: a struggle

The author as having a hard time finding a way to put his story down, finding the time to express himself in a written format.

His head was exploding with ideas; characters, worlds, plots, devices; all floating around in his brain like protons in the Large Hadron Collider.

Creativity wasn’t the problem though; life was.

Work, food, sleep, socializing (yuck), and the eternal war against tiny red squiggles that thought they knew better than him; everything worked against him making his deadlines.

But, the author was dedicated; not only to himself, and to his writing, but to the fans that he pretending he had and he refused to let them down!

So he crawled into the back of his closet, curled into a fetal position around his laptop, and spent an hour trying to write a short six sentence story inspired by the word Express: success!

The Narrator 03

(A Collaboration with SeeJayStarkDotCom)


Part 03

“Greetings, stranger,” Bastian bellows. “Indeed, my colleague and I have already set claim to this dungeon.”

I barely register that Bastian is speaking as I stare at the short-statured person before us.  I recognize them; or, at the very least, they seem extremely familiar. I recall that the Author ran a campaign for Dungeons and Dragons that had a beloved Gnomish character with red skin, red hair, and large green eyes. They had been an alchemist, though, not a rogue. Then again, the character had been a tinkerer who enjoyed building things and had built devices for the player’s characters to compensate for weaknesses, like a lack of dark vision. Perhaps, the Author wanted his character to develop more before the second campaign.

“Luda?” I ask, addressing the gnome by the name given to them in the Author’s written recaps of game nights. The gnome’s eyes widen and his cheeks flush a slightly brighter red than the rest of his face.

“Yes! You’ve heard of me?” The light quickly fades from his eyes, though they remain wide. His expression suddenly takes on a look of concern. “That’s probably not good for a rogue. I’m supposed to be sneaky and blend in with crowds.” His little hands curl into fists in his hair. “I’ve already failed!”

“No, no-no-no,” I say as I raise my hands toward him. I’m not sure why I raise my hands, but it seems to happen naturally, like a reflex to reach out and stop him from harming himself. 

“I’ve, uh,” Oh shit, what do I say? Hey, I’ve been watching you your entire existence!? 

“I met…” Yes? I like where this is going. Maybe don’t say ‘your mom’ though. 

“The group that you accompanied during the fall of Alistair Grey.”

Nailed it.

I can see the anxiety drain away from Luda in an instant as he accepts my lie.

“Oh!” He says, a smile crossing his face. He drops his hands to his sides and his fists unfurl. “Oh, neat! Who did you meet? Senda and Justin? Those two were really nice.” His face suddenly darkens as if shadows came from nowhere to turn his expression sour as he continues. “Was that halfling there?”

I knew the halfling of which he spoke; a member of the group who seemed to be very wary and distrustful of Luda. He had once trapped Luda inside a bag of holding, then denied having ever done it.

“Just Senda and Justin,” I say, deciding it best to avoid the subject of the halfling. “They had a lot of praise for you.”

Luda’s face fills with joy with my news. He tilts onto his toes as his hands clasp together in front of him.

“Really?!” Luda sings. “I really liked them too. I tried my best to help them out when they needed it. I’m hoping to see them again sometime. I’ve been traveling a lot with Ratticus, but he decided to go overseas to the other island when he heard about some Doctor working on zombies, so I joined the Honeythorn Academy of Junior Questers to learn how to be a rogue. Maybe when I run into Senda and Justin again they’ll kick that halfling out of the group and I can protect them from traps!”

I suddenly remember that there are people reading this and I become a little self-conscious. It lasts for only a moment as the professional narrator in me kicks in and I remember that I have a duty; I’m supposed to tell the story and not leave people confused. But, Luda’s story was already told and it would take too long to retell it.

Well, no, it actually wouldn’t take too long, but if I sat here and retold his story while I left him and Bastian frozen, waiting for the plot to advance, then I’d be no better than the author. Already, I’ve left them frozen for just over a hundred words. So, reader, if you want to know more about Luda then you’ll have to look him up in the Lochinvar campaign under Roleplaying. He first appears in part 2. ((Over at SeeJayStark.com))

I turn and look at Bastian who has been standing, very patiently I must say, off to the side. He raises his brows cheerfully and smiles at me, letting me know he is listening and I have his full attention; perfect.

“I know Luda and his story,” I say. I motion to Luda, who stands by the entrance, twiddling his fingers nervously. “I know of his exploits, and I know that his friends speak very highly of him. I believe we can trust him.”

Bastian nods once I’ve finished and immediately turns to face Luda. He spreads his arms wide in a welcoming gesture. 

“Friend Luda!” Bastian says. “It seems our paths were meant to cross here. How fortunate that we were just speaking of our need for a trap finder when one suddenly appears, and they happen to be acquainted with my new hero.” He drops a hand on my shoulder and squeezes gently as he mentions me. “We would be most grateful if you should choose to join us on this short, but perilous journey into this Goblin-made dungeon.”

Bastian didn’t hesitate in the slightest to accept Luda as a friend based solely upon my word. While this warms me inside, to know that he trusts me to such a degree, I can’t help but wonder about his judgment. He’s only met me a few minutes ago.

But, then again, plot armor grants a ridiculously high AC bonus.

Journaling Prompt 001

Hey! Ollie here with my very first prompt! It’s a journaling prompt, so answer however you like!

What I want to know is:

What is your reading goal/schedule for 2022?

Do you want to read a book a week? Or maybe you have a book list you want to complete? Want to feel the nostalgia of an old favorite?

Respond whenever/however you like and feel free to drop a link in the comments! Tagging it #OwOprompts would be super cool too!

__________ __________ __________

Oh, what’s that? What are my reading goals for the year? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Last year, in 2021, I managed 52 books! That’s a record for me. I fell hard into the audiobook rabbit-hole. This year I would like to at least match that. If I beat it, that’s even better! I’ve started a book club (it currently has 3 members: me, myself, and I) called the Inkdrinkers.

I am 2 books into 2022 as of January 15, so I feel that I’ve got a good start to the year. Right now I’m halfway through Stinger by Robert R McCammon which I haven’t read since Middle School. There is so much to this book I’ve forgotten all about! I keep thinking I must not have finished the book back then, but then I’ll read a scene that I do remember and figure ‘I must have gotten at least this far!’

I’ve never had a reading schedule before, but since I’m going to be running a book club I intend to sit down soon and write one out. One book a month, I think, is fair.

Thanks for reading! I look forward to reading your replies!

-Ollie

P.S. I just had to google rabbit because I could not, for the life of me, remember how to spell it! I kept adding an extra T and only one B and yanking at my hair when that red underline came about, screaming internally ‘I am a writer I know how to spell rabitt!!’

I was wrong.