The Seed She Was After ~ An Original Story

Even Hades had to smile.

The short sleeves of her simple, well-worn dress, revealed the developed arms of labor’s constant bedfellow. Her face, lined with dignified wrinkles and crowned by short, curled gray hair was a portrait of defiance to the vanity of Olympus. Not so unusual, as many gods preferred a more “down-to-earth” appearance, she was still more pleasing to behold than Hephaestus.

Demeter invited him to sit down. “I’m so glad you came.”

The chairs and table were unremarkable, domestic, factory made. Unlike the gazebo with its smooth marble floor and ceiling of clear glass, vines growing straight from the ground, forming intricate railings and windows that overlooked the vast gardens surrounding them. Flowers of every color grew from the walls, testifying to the dramatic flair of all gods; no matter how human they pretended to be.

All of her servants were busy tending to the orchards, groves, and fields. Out of respect to her, Hades didn’t balk at pulling out his own chair, doing so without his powers.

A wonderful blend of herbs and spices danced together within the teapot, creating the most sought after beverage in all the pantheons. If musical instruments produced an aroma, then his nose was the front row seat of an opera as she poured the cups. Sweeter than nectar and ambrosia, more celebrated than mead, more invigorating than jade juice––even Hermes slowed down for a cup of Demeter’s tea.

Demeter sat down, offering him a plate of sugar cookies. He took one and found it to be quite tasty.

“I didn’t know you baked,” he said.

She smiled. “A worshiper in the 21st century brought them to my temple. She came all the way from the Bronx.”

“How wonderful.” Hades would also have worshipers in the Future. “Now lets get to the part where you tell me what you want?”

To her credit, Demeter had the decency to appear offended.

“I only wished to see you, Hades. How often do I see you these days?”

“A sentiment that would mean something if you didn’t have access to the Elysian Fields.”

She tsked, and sipped her tea, but the pretense vanished once the cup was back in the saucer. “It’s my daughter.”

“What of her?”

“She has… lashed out.”

Hades concealed a weary sigh with a sip. Was she dragging it out to entertain him, or was she really that distraught? It was hard to tell, but there was no use in being impatient.

“She tells me that Minthe was ‘asking for it’,” Demeter continued. “I have no way of knowing whether or not she’s lying. And in her current state, I can’t get the truth from Minthe, either. Zeus is outraged.”

Hades raised a brow. “It’s not like Thunderbutt to get so uptight over a nymph.”

“It may have more to do with the fact that I imbued the mint leaf with nutritional properties, to save her from the Stone Garden.”

Hades chuckled. Nymphs only required a semblance of worship to remain alive, but to most gods they were like hamsters to mortal children. Zeus couldn’t care less about one more tea leaf in the world, on the other hand, Minthe was a bit of a fluffer. Persephone probably just broke Grandpa’s latest chew toy.

“I sometimes envy mortals,” Demeter said, after a long pause. “They have twenty years in which to try and guide their children. Persephone appalls me with her actions, causing harm to another for no reason but blind jealousy.”

“Jealousy?” Hades scoffed. “If Persephone approached Paris, the contraceptives of the Future would be known as Helens.”

Demeter finished her tea. If there was any alarm, she concealed it well as she refilled both of their cups.

Hades took another sip, this time checking the ingredients for any sign of trickery. Demeter wasn’t prone to such foolishness, but he had been quick to defend Persephone. His lips had never been so loose. Nothing in the tea was amiss, so he relaxed while she fixed him with a contemplative stare. She baited her trap well, but even if he confirmed her suspicions, there was nothing she could do. Not without waging a war that even Zeus and Posiedon combined couldn’t hope to win.

“I have invited you here, because I want to offer you a wife,” Demeter said.

Of course. War wasn’t her way.

“Go on.”

“Persephone has her own worshipers. Her ichor is strong. For how long, I can’t say, but if she is bound to you then your shared powers will increase.”

Hades tapped his chin with his forefinger in the comical manner of cartoon characters. It was a gesture he often used when the damned begged for mercy, and he rarely had a chance to use it elsewhere.

“And you get her off your hands and Zeus off your back. Very convenient,” he said. “Your offer is enticing. But what are you offering for a dowry?”

Demeter almost slammed her cup down. “My daughter’s hand in marriage isn’t enough?”

“You’re offering me a spoon full of frosting. You haven’t baked a cake.” Hades leaned back, crossing his arms. “It amuses me how you attempt to sweeten the pot by offering me the residual power from her worshipers when mine comes from an infinite source; the dead and the dying. For the eternal banquet I can give her, you think I would be satisfied with table scraps?”

A cloud blocked the sun, alarming some of the gardeners, who cried out. A few of the gardeners could be heard, crying out in alarm. Hades feigned a long, contented sigh, as if the shade were a welcome relief, while Demeter fumed.

Finally, she asked, “What do you want?”

Your worshipers,” Hades said, bluntly. “Living. Breathing. Vibrant. ”

“You have your temples.”

“Mere scraps, again. If they’re not dead or dying, or tending to one or the other, then they’re trying to talk to the dead. Do you understand how little power I can draw when I have no control over their fate while they’re alive?”

“I understand all too well,” Demeter replied, through gritted teeth. “You complain often enough.”

“Well, here’s your chance to shut me up.”

Demeter brought her temper under control and the clouds dissipated. A cheer rose up from the garden and Hades chuckled.

“What do you have in mind?”

“Winter. Long, cold, deadly winter. Let nothing grow while the world is covered in ice and give all that struggle to understand that I am the cause of this. Six months.”

Demeter shook her head.

“Zeus will never allow it. You may have your winter for one month.”

“One month is worth the tea and biscuits alone,” Hades said. “But you have a rambunctious daughter to betroth and I think that’s more to the tune of five months.”

“But the mortals need time to harvest. You’ll be drawing power from me as well, don’t forget that I’m her mother.”

Hades shifted in his chair, looking past Demeter at a field of potato plants.

“Very well,” he said, throwing his hands up in mock defeat. “Three months of winter that will not go quietly. Some years, it may seem to go on forever. And as a gift to my new mother-in-law, I will allow them honor you with decorations of evergreens. That’s my final offer, Demeter.”

Demeter sighed, and considered his offer in silence. He finished his tea and took another cookie. Then another. He offered her the last one and she refused. They really were tasty. He resolved to find the name of the bakery and offer Sisyphus a furlough to go and buy a box.

When it seemed like she would refuse, Demeter waved her hand. A servant appeared, carrying a strange little fruit, which he offered her. It had a reddish-violet skin, with a strange little crown that made Hades laugh.

“Is this a subtle way of telling me where to stick my offer?” he asked.

Demeter accepted the pomegranate and dismissed the servant.

“Persephone is quite fond of these,” she said, passing it to him. “This is my blessing. You must use it to bind her to you.”

“I’m not new at this.” Hades manifested a lancet and pricked his thumb. He pressed it to the fruit and willed his blood to pass through the skin and permeate the seeds. Then he stopped the bleeding and stood up. All around him, the flowers began to wilt. Servants cried out when the clouds returned and rain began to fall.“Pleasure doing business with you.”

Hades picked up the fruit and strode into the garden. The light sprinkle became a drizzle, flood waters rose, killing off the growth as Demeter’s servants fled her domain. In good time, she would show mercy, and all of this would be repaired.

He found her at the edge of the garden, sitting on a bench that might have come from a tag sale or an auction. Her umbrella was unnecessary. The rain avoided her as it avoided Hades. She looked up, sensing his approach, and smiled.

“She took it well,” he told her.

Persephone giggled, tossing the umbrella to one side, jumping to her feet to throw her arms around him. He nearly dropped the pomegranate as he returned the affection. No mind. It didn’t have the seed she was after.

Remembering Anton

Anton Yelchin is another actor that I’m surprised to find that I’ve seen in plenty of movies, without knowing who he was. Hearts in Atlantis is the movie based on the Stephen King novel, which I didn’t even know he was in until I looked up his IMDB page. And all I remember about that movie is that the script writer seemed to have read to the exact same point in the novel that I did, only to say, “That’s more than enough, I don’t need to read anymore.” (I just trailed off, the way I tend to do with most Stephen King novels)

Later, I saw Terminator Salvation around the same time as J.J. Abrams Star Trek. At the time, I didn’t know Yelchin’s name, only that I was actually really impressed with his portrayal of Pavel Checkov, who is one of my favorite Star Trek characters to this day. And he was a far more convincing “young Kyle Reese” than Nick Stahl’s “Young John Conner” in Terminator: Rise of the Machines. It’s hard to say who is the more pivotal character in the Terminator Series, whether it’s John Conner or Kyle. One is the hero of the human race, the other is the father of the hero of the human race, so both parts certainly have a lot of weight and Anton carried it brilliantly. I dare go so far as to say that he was more of a compliment to Michael Bean than Edward Furlong was to Christian Bale.

I wanted to do another piece, very similar to what I had written in my Discovering Tilda story. But it’s always so hard to write about someone who has just passed away. Readers will be divided into the, “Oh, you’re just trying to exploit someone else’s tragedy” and the, “You’re just complimenting his acting because he’s dead” camps. You can’t win with either crowd and I sure don’t owe anyone an explanation. But the main reason I’m not doing a much more involved piece is because I would rather discover someone while I have the chance to validate them and not after they have passed on.

For me, Anton’s best performance was definitely the part of Ian in Only Loves Left Alive. He is the paid assistant of Tom Hiddleton’s character, Adam. A well meaning liaison to Detroit’s music industry who has a big heart, Ian ultimately meets a tragic and untimely end at the fangs of a young and impetuous vampire named Ava. You would never guess that the whole tone of the movie would change from beautiful and decadent, to a race against the clock as a result of Ian’s presence, but Anton carries the weight of such a character with real subtlety and skill. His presence is a compliment to the giants he stands with in this movie, including Tilda Swinton.

Your mileage may vary on all of this. It’s all opinion. Opinions are wonderful things because everyone has them. But one thing we can all agree on is that no one ever knows how much of an impact they make on someone’s life. No one can really know if they will have enough time in this world to get everything done, or if they will be remembered for the accomplishments that mattered to them.

          When it comes to actors, or singers, or any kind of artist, we’re always surprised to find that some of them didn’t like the things we remember them for the most. I only hope that as he is strumming his guitar in the great Star Trek Convention in the sky, that Anton Yelchin was as proud of the accomplishments he achieved in his far too short life, as we are. And I hope that if I live to be a hundred, that my life is as meaningful to others as his was to me.

Only Lovers Left Alive ~ A Super Short Review

I want to make a short addition to this super short review. Anton Yelchin had a very important part in this film. TVtropes.org calls his character, Ian, The Renfield. 

His performance was genuine and he put a lot of himself into the character. More so than any of his other roles, which I will write a larger piece about that will be similar in style to Discovering Tilda. For now, here is a reblog of my original review of Only Lovers Left Alive. 

Confessions of a Cart Jockey

There are movies that I inevitably wind up defending with my life, violently, if necessary. Only Lovers Left Alive is now one of those films.

Starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleton, Adam and Eve are two vampires who live on opposite ends of the world but are husband and wife to one another. Eve is closer to 5,000 years old whereas Adam is a more recent vintage and both characters have a fair amount of respect for life and accomplishment, even if Adam is suffering what appears to be an existential midlife crisis of sorts.

The reason I know I’ll end up defending the movie later on is that this is not two hours worth of “vampire porn”. By that I mean, this is no Twilight, but it’s not Lost Boys either. This is very much a vampire film for adults that is heavier on the story and the character…

View original post 106 more words

9 Interview Questions From My Facebook Writing Group

1 What genre do you prefer to write?

I’ve been spoiled by so many genre bending authors that I don’t know if I can narrow it down. Anything with a bit of the paranormal is always nice, but I’ve been focusing more on the amateur sleuth genre of late.
.
2 What books or authors or other people have influenced your writing?

I don’t think Q from James Bond could create a database big enough to store all of my answers to that.
.
3 Are you an outliner or a panster? Sometimes I’m a pantliner, but only when I don’t feel like getting up from the computer.
.
4 Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process and methods?

I sit down. I push the keys on the keyboard. Words appear on the screen. Sometimes I use an ancient tool known as a pencil and a piece of paper. It’s the award winning formula that every writer should use.
.
5 You’ve found a magic lamp and have three wishes. What are you going to chose?

You mean am I going to choose the Magic Lamp or the Three Wishes? I’ll take the lamp, because I can have that indefinitely.
.
6 What advice would you give to any new writer?

Listen. When you’re doing research, you need to ask questions and then shut up and listen. When you’re writing, you need to shut up and listen to your inner voice. When you’re work is being read for feedback and critique, shut up and listen to what’s being told to you. You don’t have to agree with it, but how can you process and apply it if you’re not listening?

Listening is not a function of the ears. It is a function of the brain.
.
7 What are your interests outside writing?

Movies, chess, stand-up comedy,
.
8 Describe your personality using only 5 words.

Not stupid, but not perfect, either.

.
9 Name one of your books or stories and give us your best one line blurb.

The Sweetest Death

If you had only minutes left to live, who would be in your thoughts?

10 Your question. Ask yourself one question that hasn’t already been asked. And answer it yourself.

The answer is 42.

Flash Fiction: Dilemma

From Inkbiotic’s blog. Check out my fellow blogger’s flash fiction and short stories if you get tired of listening to my ramblings. 😉

inkbiotic

“It’s a gesture, I’m wary of gestures, it’s how somebody treats you when no one is looking that shows their true feelings,” she said airily, with a flick of her hand.

He lowered the flowers sadly and since her attention had already wandered, he walked away. As his feet scuffed the gravel and his shoulders slouched, his mind was ticking over the conundrum: how can I do something that isn’t a gesture?

View original post

My Own Online-Up Blood, Sweat, and Activewear

Are you tired of waiting six whole days for the latest episode of that show that’s only going to be on DVD by the end of the year, so why are you wasting your evening watching TV? Then check out Blood, Sweat, and Activewear.

From the geniuses behind Sasquatch Comedy, all three episodes are available online, right now.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

 

Plot Twist: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is really Saint Germain

Saint Germain was the Elvis Presley of his day. The first documented sighting of him was the late 18th century, wherein he claimed to be a four thousand year-old man who had mastered many musical instruments in addition to being able to turn metal into gold. His manservant Roger was equally mysterious.

Neil Gaiman mentioned these men in a short story wherein someone asked Roger, “Is your master really a thousand years old?” To which Roger replied, “I don’t know, I’ve only been with him for three hundred.”

It was the author, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, who really immortalized the fictional character of Saint Germain by re-imagining the historical alchemist and philosopher as a vampire. His manservant, Roger, begins life as Rogarian, a Gaulish servant who was beaten to death in the streets of Rome and resurrected by Saint Germain into the equally immortal life of a ghoul.

It was my old mentor, Dave Durkee, one of the backers for my GoFundMe campaign, who introduced me to the Saint Germain series vicariously with a novel that featured Atta Olivia Clemens as the main character. Olivia is also introduced to readers in the same book wherein we first meet Roger, having been put to death by the machinations of her impotent husband, she is given the ability to walk the earth as a vampire having had six sexual encounters with Saint Germain, and in her own trilogy of novels she became one of my favorite literary heroines.

The Saint Germain series is historical romance. Each book takes us back and forth through the titular character’s long existence, but what amazes me is how we learn something new about the characters in each iteration, even though the first book you read might take place in 1642, while the next one in the series takes place in 2014, followed by a third book which takes us back to 756 BC.

Recently, I picked up the latest book in the series, which was published in 2012. There may be more recent volumes, but I’m such a Johnny Come Lately that I have named a whole series of my reviews as such. Needless to say, I grabbed the book as soon as I learned of its existence. And although I knew that Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is a prolific and dedicated author, I didn’t know that she was also an accomplished musician and composer, having mastered a number of instruments… like the historical Count Saint Germain.

You may be aware, faithful reader that I recently read Orlando by Virigina Woolf. Orlando is an equally fictitious man who lives to be four hundred years and becomes a woman in that time. This story is written in biographical format and while fictitious, is often referred to as Virginia’s mock autobiography.

Chelsea’s brief bio at the end of the Commedia Della Morte got me to thinking; what if Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is really Saint Germain? The count has had many names and identities over four thousand years, and has many eclectic skills and talents that have served him well. Chelsea is a very knowledgeable historian and an accomplished author who chronicles the adventures of her hero so well, that it isn’t such a stretch of the imagination to believe that Saint Germain eventually changed genders during his undead life. Except that it is a stretch. A big stretch.

If Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, or any of her friends, family, or colleagues happen to read this blog, I certainly hope that they read this last paragraph in the spirit in which it was intended: humorous, but respectful and a little bit satirical. However, if I’m correct, and Roger happens to bring this to your attention, know that you have no enemies here dear Count, and that I hope to read more of your adventures in the coming years.