First Post in Long Time

Turning over a new leaf. One of several, really. I can’t say that I will suddenly commit to regular postings, but any time I write something that’s not Top Secret Classified, I’ll probably post it or link it or say something witty or disgustingly self-deprecating about it.

So I wrote a chapter for a fanfiction about some crazy Slavic adventures in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. I may have written a post about this before.

The characters in the current chapter are Washer, a veteran stalker (read: Eastern European adventurer / treasure hunter in this sci-fi rendition of the Exclusion Zone) and gruff man of action, and Natasha Palinchak, a Ukrainian-born British reporter for BBC Documentary, on a film expedition to the Zone gone horribly awry. The story, as it goes, is of her adaptation to the Zone, and Washer’s heroic efforts to keep her from getting herself killed while himself not being killed by her ineptitude.

Here be the link to the new chapter, and a preview of it:

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12004094/4/Good-Morning-Chernobyl
“Alright, pop quiz, Miss Palinchak. What’s a safety, and what should you do with it?”
“It stops the bang. And you should keep it on until you’re ready to shoot someone.”
“Half credit. You should always be ready to shoot someone. Now, aim at the target I’ve set up at the end of the barn. You have eight shots to impress me.”
“Plus one in the chamber?”
“No, fresh magazine.”
She nodded and thumbed the safety off, then looked for the target. She saw only piles of hay, rusted tools, broken stalls, and the bones of farm animals long past. And Grisha’s body, leaned up against the barn door, strapped to the bar-hold with some moldy rope.
“I don’t understand. The door?”
“No. Our friend. Center of mass, less than 30 feet, unaware. Easiest shot you’ll get.”
“Unaware? He’s bloody dead.”
“What’s the difference? Shoot him.”
“No— no! He- have you no respect for the dead?!”
“Nor the living. Shoot him.”
“Cut the shit. He’s your friend!– Look, just— I’m not totally incompetent. Just let me shoot at a shovel, or hit a horseshoe or something.”
“–He’s also dead. And you will be too, if you can’t shoot a man-shaped target. Do I have to explain the psychology behind it?”
He saw the blank look on her face, and sighed heavily.
“So, in the old days of the Army, in the days when soldiers were just amoebous muck and not even dignified with being called frogfoots, they learned to shoot with bullseyes. Easy stuff, for volley fire. But as small-arms got more advanced, and aiming became actually important, military eggheads realized that soldiers which did perfect on bullseyes were actually terrible marksmen in combat, on the frontline or snipers. Can you guess why?”
“Stress of combat?”
“No, though that’s not a bad guess. It is because they were trained to shoot at colored circles, not people. They could easily hit the center at 300 yards, 4 out of 5 rounds. But they could not bring themselves to willingly shoot a human being center of mass, a much easier target.
“So, if you could shoot Grisha in the chest a few times, I’d be much more confident in your chances of survival.”
Natasha looked at the gun, then at Grisha, then at Washer, then back at the dead man.
“No.”
Washer shook his head and walked away. “Well, I won’t make you. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make her drink. I’m still not giving up on my payout, so thank your God that I’m a greedy bastard. We should probably get moving to stay—”
A gunshot rang out from Natasha, followed by a whimper from ringing ear drums and a thump as a body hit the ground. Washer turned and saw a dead tracksuit lying in the doorway of the barn, a spatter of bone and cranial matter on the door where his head had been.
Promptly, Natasha threw up. Not having anything in her gut but radioactive water, her vomit was mostly pond scum and frog eggs she’d accidentally swallowed.
For a brief moment, he was sickly amused by the irony of the situation. Immediately after, he heard guns being cocked, and a volley of Ukrainian profanity, shortly followed by—
He tackled Natasha into her vomit as the bandits outside lit the barn up with a hail of gunfire, 5.45mm rounds punching through the wood and sending wood shrapnel and lead fragments flying.
“Suka blyat, idi na khuy! Miss Palinchak, I would advise you to start crawling!”
“I am-I am you tit!” she yelled back in English.
“Hey, hold your fire, kurwa, stop shooting! Zdec turistka! Myi budem bogatymi! Obxodim patsany! You’re fucken dead, Washer!”

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Barren Times

I’ve been a bit derelict, haven’t I? A whole semester ran me by without so much as a nod of a post.

I should be ashamed of myself. And I am (but only a little.)

For nearly three months, I scarcely wrote. I wrote one short story that I still haven’t gotten around to typing up. I added a chapter onto my STALKER fanfiction, and haven’t touched it since, even though the story really was going quite well.

And other than that, didn’t write a thing, except sloppy essays and some knavishly contrived plots for my Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Until the last week, I was worrying I might never put out another story.

Then suddenly an idea came to life, God touched my forehead, and 25,000+ words spilled out onto the page. I have a novel now. Well, part of it.

And God willing, I’ll have a full one by the end of this semester.

The concept, for those interested, is a low fantasy set in 14th century Moravia / Bohemia, Slovakia, and Romania, following the adventures of the Teutonic knight-baroness, Kyreleis von Gottschalk and her companions various, as she searches for her missing brother, who left her and her plague-stricken mother nearly twenty years ago, while fending off the many enemies she’s made in her rather inglorious and unchivalric rule over the fief of Zmeyorod.

There is a series planned as well. The original outline, I discovered, was for a work of far too massive a scale for me to ever reasonably fit in one book. I mean this not arrogantly; I am simply really bad at planning.

I think I will post an excerpt in the next day or so.

A short message

Felt them goose bumps rising as the anthem played for Kate Ledecky’s medal. Came in at the last few bars, and even then I was shivering.

And I’ve realized why. Over these last few days, we’ve finally caught a break, the briefest moment of respite. After months of name-calling, mudslinging, dirty politics, scandals, shootings, terrorism, and the idiots on TV, we finally get some heroes to get behind. Simple men and women, solely focused on excellence, undistracted by the standard-issue human pettiness.

Americans, Brits, Koreans, Japanese, Israelis, Russians, Ukrainians, French, Chinese, Indian, Syrians, Moroccans, Italians, Brazilians, Mexicans, Canadians— we should all savor this moment. It is a rare one, when we can observe a clarity of purpose and total purity of will.

For us Americans, when the Olympics are over, we will have to return to this freak show of a presidential race, as the two most incompetent / deceptive / head-up-the-ass / boobish / nob-headed / treacherous / selfish a**holes ever to run for higher office go head to head, and all the world cringes.

No matter who you vote for, we’re all wrong.

An Abrupt Change of Tone

Our world is dying.

Not in the slow, geological sense, but at the erratic and unpredictable, inexorable speed of our own destructive impulses. I can’t speak as to whether this will be our last gasp or only another maelstrom which we must endure to rebuild shattered lives, but the world that we thought ten years ago would blossom into a new era of prosperity and understanding will instead be consumed by fire.

We suffer from a cancer whose symptoms are terror, suicide and depression, and whose causes are intrinsic to the world order which we so hoped would stand out from the blood-scrawled roll of history.


Stranger Danger; tolerance; safe spaces; personal space; political correctness; affirmation; convenience; welfare state; “work smarter, not harder”: facets of the cancer consuming the West which once stood as the measure to which all the rest of the world aspired.

We no longer allow our children to explore their neighborhoods and meet their own friends for fear of a random stranger in a white van. We daren’t speak our minds for fear of the immediate and callous judgement of a society that prizes propriety over honesty, allowing hatreds and opinions to fester in the resentful pit of a human mind trapped by artificial social rules. We self-isolate from information that challenges our beliefs rather than try to understand the opposing side to prove or disprove our own opinions nor find the third way that trumps either. We submit ourselves to the animal preference for comfort over progress, to ration our resources rather than seek to expand our wealth; on the micro, we’d much rather dawdle at home or skate by at work rather than force ourselves to be more than what we are. We make a mockery of those who weren’t born with an innate level of academic intelligence or a talent for inflated grades, and this only to avoid looking inward to see our own stagnation as we chase the sweets trolley of consumerism and corporatism.

And much of this can be laid to blame on the persecution of the spirit and His Spirit from the public eye. When we have no spirit to look to for guidance, no promise to keep our eyes turned heavenward, when as Nietzsche said, “God is dead,” we do not then exist in a happy atheism, seeing each man as our equal in a Godless world. Instead, as Chesterton said, “When Man ceases to worship God he does not worship nothing, but worships anything at all.”

In a world where we doubt the power of Providence and lack the security of the Covenant, we must make our own gods, again from Nietzsche. From this proceeds violence, hatred, division, blindness, cruelty, tyranny, the glorification of murder, the anointing of hedonism as the new prince. In the absence of God, we worship the gods of Pleasure, Avarice, Pride, and War. From the pursuit of endless pleasure comes an insatiable gluttony for the means to sustain it. From the acquisition of wealth and the conquest of moral constraint flows hubris. And from such accumulated pride, excess of wealth, glut of pleasure and void of spiritual purpose erupts the bloody cataclysm of war, the crucible which forges a man and damns ten thousand.

The gods of Man are many, and their king is Man himself, cloaked in the surefooted certainty in the power of his will and his wisdom. In his right hand is held the iron hammer of craft and cleverness, and his left is the mirror which reflects only what he wishes to see. His throne is Babel, and his crown is the ten spiked cast-iron circlet of Mars.

 

 

 

A Guilty Mind

And here he sat, comprehending his own villainy, the muck and murk of human myopia and his fleshly urges to short-lived pleasures, all but castrating himself over his indescribable badness, refusing to qualify the foulness of his sin against such terrors as the kings of history and prehistory when suddenly the page spoke and said:

“Then confess if you’re so guilty. But keeping it all to yourself like this, obviously you don’t feel that bad about it.”

“Evil exists to be forgotten. When all men are dead, the good men will have gone on and left the evil ones behind in the place of no names.”

And while you might disagree, someone infinitely more important than you has decided you’re an alright sort of bloke. Without opening the door on unbridled hedonism, know that it really doesn’t matter.”

“You recognize the wrongness of it. Disassemble the transgression, examine and multiply its parts. Realize the brute pleasures come of someone else’s expense, virtual or real. And thereby brand it as the valueless thing that it is.”

“Move on. Giving up is only proving one thing.”

 

You can be a good Christian.

He’s already forgiven you.

So forgive yourself.

5 Things You Learn from Writing “Bad” Books

You have no idea how much I have been needing this post. Thank you for writing this. Thank you a thousand.

A Writer's Path

Bad

by Kelsie Engen

Every author has a “bad” book to their name.

Come on, admit it. It’s that book you wrote back in your early writing days, the one where you thought it was magical. Then, for one reason or another, you set it aside, and when you dusted it off a year later, you cannot read a word of it without wincing.

Yeah. It’s that one.

I’ve got one (or several) too, books that I’d like to forget I ever wrote.

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