Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

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Before I get into this, I want to make my intentions clear. What follows will sound horribly arrogant for a guy like me. I only have two novels published so far, I have under ten reviews for each of them, and I’m lucky to sell two copies a month, if that. I write about vampire gangsters and punk rock Peter Pans. In no way am I saying that I write Great Literature and the rest is garbage, on the contrary. What this post is meant to be is a warning of a growing trend in the indie-publishing world that has me deeply concerned about its future.

     So, if you’re like me and have self-published a novel, or about to; you’ve probably done the same research as I have. You’ve listened to the same podcasts, watched the same YouTube videos, and read the same articles giving advice on how people can buy your work. The problem that I have with this is that aspect is dominating the majority of the conversation.

     I was listening to a podcast several months ago that was interviewing a self-published author about how to be successful at it. He went into detail about how he thinks of his books like MacDonald’s does of hamburgers. That is to say, they aren’t his “babies” but “products.” Just write it down, sell, repeat. To be quite honest, this sentiment made my skin crawl. Look, if writing easy to read stories in mass quantities earns you a lot of money and makes you happy, go for it. I am in no way going to tell you what you should and should not do with your creativity. But let me ask you this:

     If you’ve published twenty-five books in five years, are they really the best books that you can write?

     Everyone’s process is different. Stephen King writes a book or two a year, whereas George R.R. Martin writes one every few years. There are no “rules” to writing, each of us works at a different pace. But if you’re coming out with that much material that quickly, I can only think of three ways that could work. You’re either hiring someone to write it for you, the life you live is spent most of the time at the keyboard and your fingers have been reduced to bloody stumps, or you write very quickly and churn things out just to make a dollar.

    Again, not saying writing for money is an inherently bad thing, but that’s not how I work. My goal is to write one novel every year. Now, that would be considered a lot by some standards, but I think it pays off greatly in the long run. Is the first novel I published clunky? Sure. Do I have a tendency to rush things out too quickly when the editing isn’t done and I have to revise it once or twice? Absolutely. Part of being an adult is owning up to your mistakes, and I’m working on those flaws. But one thing that I will fight for is that I never phone it in. Every story I write, I ask myself, “how can this change the reader?”

     Now I mean that in both the micro and macro side of things. If my work makes you reevaluate something big about yourself or something as simple as reevaluate your opinion of Captain Hook, then I’ve done my job. Because stories aren’t just entertainment. Stories, like all art forms, is a way for us to use our creativity to talk about how we see the world around us. It takes me a year to write a book because it’s an endurance test. I put everything I have into it to make sure that, by the end of the book, the reader’s perception has changed. I don’t think I would get that result if I was writing five a year.

     There seems to be a reality distortion field of sorts when it comes to this industry. “Oh,” you might say, “I’ve made hundreds of dollars on my books! So, that has to mean that I’m now considered a real writer in the world!” It breaks my heart to say that it doesn’t. I’ve had one person outright refuse to look at one of my books because it was published online and, during a podcast that I listen to frequently about bad books, the hosts mentioned that they wouldn’t mock self-published work because it was “too easy.” In 2012, if you were to say that you published your novel by yourself, you’d either be laughed out of the room or greeted with a raised eyebrow. today, you’d probably get a pat on the head.

     There have been a few exceptions of course. Both Andy Weir’s The Martian and Hugh Howie’s Wool have gotten quite a bit of notoriety since their release. But, mostly, the market consists of multi-book series of romances, dystopias, and action-thrillers. I’m not saying that these novels don’t have compelling prose, exciting plots, or interesting characters. But, frankly, writing a “page turner” is the bare minimum of being a great writer. And great writing is what we need in order for the industry to survive.

    We’re living on the cusp of a huge technological shift. Netflix is making the Hollywood studio system panic, YouTube is rising in rapid viewership, and the music world has nearly been swallowed whole by Spotify and the ilk. But what does this have to do with books? Well, considering that Barnes & Noble is closing numerous locations and that I bought the recent Stephen King novella a whole two weeks before it hit the stores, I’d say that in about a decade or so, people will be buying books strictly from the internet like they do with all of their media. Sure, they’ll still be small indie and used book shops, but by and large, that’s where people will be getting their content.

     The big reason why some indie authors can make a living off of their writing is because they’re great at marketing and they’re catering to an audience that is looking specifically for them. Once the big name publishers roll over completely to digital spaces, that means their big name authors will be sharing the same cyber shelves with the indies.

     This radical shift will come with a slew of problems that will have to be addressed, not least of which is that the self-publishers will have to step up to the plate. Indie-publishing has to do what Quentin Tarantino did for indie-filmmaking in the 90’’s in order to survive. It needs to plant the flag in the sand and prove to the world that not only can it be monetarily successful, but artistically successful as well. Time is the greatest critic of art, and if we don’t start taking this seriously, than the people who laughed us out of the room before will be right in doing so in the future.
-A.B.

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Hello, readers! You can now get my dark, punk rock re-telling of Peter Pan, WENDY & PETER, in paperback and Kindle form on Amazon! To give you a little sample, below is the first chapter. Hope you like it and I’ll see you on that second star to the right!
-A.B.

1. SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT

The Boy who never grew up flew through the sky like a shooting star. The Light that followed beside him glowed with amber and made a sound like tiny bells. It was warm tonight, as was typical for spring, but the wind and the temperature of the altitude made it as cool as a fall morning. The clouds were sparse, just the way The Boy liked it.

He could see the city down below laid out under him, shining like the stars above. He could hear the engines of cars roaring down the road, footsteps clacking against the pavement. The smell of smoke and gas filled his nose. He drank it all in as he always did during his scouting missions. Home wasn’t like this.

He was used to smelling the dampness of the morning mist as it went through the trees. The call of birds of all variety waking him as the sun rose. The only thing here that was familiar to home was the smell of sea salt, and of course, the sound of laughing children. He thought to himself that maybe he should have a hot dog or a hamburger tonight. Flying great distances always did make him hungry. He could always get the same food, any food he desired in fact, back at home. But it wouldn’t be the same. He wouldn’t be able to walk into a restaurant, go up to the counter, and eat his dinner at a table.

He wouldn’t be able to blend in with the rest of them. Not just because of the way he dressed or the fact that he had a fairy at his side, but because he was never able to feel like them. He looked like any other teenage boy, but he was far from it. He would never be able to feel what it was like to wake up for school the next morning or get a job or any other things that they took for granted. He despised this world and its rules of course, but, somewhere deep inside him, he was curious about it. He had been curious about this world for hundreds of years.

Watch out!” He suddenly heard the fairy say by his ear. He snapped out of his trance and saw an airplane heading straight for him. He quickly dove to the left. The air of the engine was like a roar of  a lion and had the force of a tornado. The Boy shut his eyes as hard as he could and flew with all his might to get away from the great machine.

He prayed to himself that his precious fairy did not lose herself into the blades of the engine. The sound of the airplane died like distant thunder as it flew farther away. The Boy opened his eyes and laughed. He was just fine, oh the cleverness of him! He then noticed how quiet it was.

“Tink?” He looked around frantically. “Tink! Where are you?” His voice gave no echo up here.

“I’m okay!” The Fairy returned. Her light felt warm to him. “You should pay more attention next time.”

I should pay more attention?” The Boy crossed his arms. “How about they watch where they’re flying?” He hated those damn things.  Always so loud and bossy. “They ruin all the fun of being up here.”

     “You’re going to have to play by their rules if you still want to scout here,” Tink said with a smirk. “Or are you too chickenshit?”

“Chickenshit?” He was angry now, she always knew how to press his buttons. “Now, you listen here you little-”

“Oh, stop it,” Tink said, kissing him on the cheek. “If we stay here arguing, we’ll never find new Orphans.”

“I guess.” he gave a small smile back.

“What would you do without me, Pete?”

They continued their mission, downwards this time. The air was slightly warmer now, and the smell of the city grew. The buildings below them looked like elaborate dollhouses made of glass and concrete. Cars zoomed down the streets as if they were wound up by hand. In the windows of the skyscrapers, the boy named Peter saw men and women wandering about in them. They sat in their tiny cubicle offices, on their phones, or rubbing their faces in disbelief that they had to stay and work this late tonight.

Peter often imagined to himself what it must be like to have a job. The first qualification for having a job, he thought, was to have a mustache. Even if you didn’t, you were either a woman, or very poor at your job. The second: A tie, preferably red. Black ties were so ugly to him and the ones that had patters on them were even worse.

A briefcase was the third qualification. Peter assumed that since people didn’t have scabbards in this world, they must’ve carried their swords in their briefcases or purses. The fourth and final qualification was coffee. There was no coffee where he came from; only water, soda, and alcohol. All of which, were really the only drinks that the Orphans needed or cared about. No, coffee (as well as that oh-so-snooty elixir called wine) was an adult’s drink. A pirate’s drink to be more vulgar. He would see these job-workers always carrying a cup of coffee in one hand and a cell phone to their ear in the other.

They would always take sips from their Styrofoam containers in between yelling about numbers or figures or whatever grown-ups yelled about into their mechanical beetles. He saw them going in and out of the buildings, going up elevators and stairs. They always reminded him of ants, scurrying about, doing their duty without a care in the world. With no clue as to what might be up there in the sky watching them right now. With no clue what it was like to fly with the birds. With no clue what it was like to live in a world with no rules and to always have fun. With-

He sensed something. No, not sensed, smelled something. It was both sweet and sour at the same time. The smell of fresh flowers mixed in with rotting fruit. It was coming from below, as it always did. The origins of the scent came from houses, playgrounds, and schools. But tonight it came from the streets. It was the smell of youth.

“Hey, Tink,” Peter said. “Why don’t we go down over there?” He pointed to a small patch away from the tall buildings. The only light around it was coming from electric lamp posts lined in a row.

“Why? The Fairy asked. “Do you see any potential candidates?”  She smiled. Tink had hoped that tonight’s mission would be over soon. She was tired of coming to this world, taking its children, and then having to do it all over again. She loved The Boy, but he was getting reckless in his old age.

“Nah. I just want to have a little fun, that’s all,” his eyes blazed with an inner fire as they always did whenever he was excited or ran his dagger through someone.

    “I don’t think that’s such a good idea, Pete,” Tink’s body stiffened a little, afraid of what was going to come next. “We should really keep our heads down. Scouting is the mission, remember? Not playtime. We really should be focusing on scouting.”

     “What’s a matter?” Peter sneered. “Chickenshit?”

     Tinker Bell’s wings bristled and her amber light was now taking a shade of red. Fairies are so small that they can only fit one emotion inside them at a time. “No,” she said through sharp breaths, “I just think that we should-”

     “Last one there’s a rotten egg!” Peter shot down through the sky and his infectious giggle followed him.

     “I swear,” Tink’s color was brightening again, “that kid is going to be the death of me.” She went after him.

   

***

     The gang of kids found the homeless man during their nightly stroll. There were four of them,  their ages ranging from fourteen to seventeen. Little Man was the youngest, while the leader Ajax, was the oldest. Ajax was not only the oldest, but the largest of the group. Standing at six foot-eight and with the body of a linebacker, it was as if the Hulk himself was walking down the street.

The kids had skipped school today and hadn’t gone home that night. Instead, they had smoked some weed, got drunk, and shop-lifted at the local mall. They had even whistled and cat-called at a hot college student for good measure.

“Fuck you,” the girl had said as she continued to walk by.

     “You won’t be saying that when you have my dick in your mouth, bitch,” Ajax had said with a smile. The girl didn’t respond, but it didn’t matter to him when he had his boys laughing in agreement with him.

     “Bitches always want that dick,” the young lad to his right had said. His face was a crater landscape of acne, which gave him the nickname Pizza. He smiled wide, showing off the railroad tracks of braces across his teeth.

     Girls weren’t their preferred target when prowling about, however. Most of them even hadn’t had sex, despite their boasting of their carnal conquests. No, Ajax and his gang of dogs were not a gang of that sort. They were of the kind to enjoy chaos, destruction, and a little bit of the old ultra-violence. Each of them had been sent to juvie at some point during their teenage careers and had worn it like a badge of honor.

The sound of the iron doors locking behind them was akin to church bells. It added even more to their reputation than what had preceded them. The teachers scowled at them with disapproving looks and fellow students made sure to walk around them at school. That was the one thing that they craved most: The fear.

The fear of the geeks, the nerds, and the pussies at school that were too weak to fend for themselves. The locker filled halls were a hunting ground, a place where they could test out their love of pain on the youth so that it prepared them to inflict it on the old once they had graduated. Ajax was not one for the typical bully tactics either.

He wouldn’t hang “KICK ME” signs on the back of a kid’s shirt or hold them down and spit on their face. No, Ajax wanted to leave an impression. He wanted to make sure that no one would ever dare stand up to him. He and his gang would go into the gym showers when the majority of the class had gone and would wait for some scrawny puppy of a boy to finish showering. Ajax would lock the door and, once the kid was done, he would slam into him with every ounce of strength that he had against the wall.

     “AHHH!” The Puppy-Boy would scream in both terror and pain. His face pressed up against the tile as Ajax’s large stomach would lean into him like an airbag deploying from a car.

     “Gotcha, faggot!” Ajax would laugh and his companions would join in.

     I cnnt brrr” The twig of a teenage said in a muffled voice.

     “What’s that, faggot? I can’t hear you”.

     “I! Can’t! Breathe!”

     “Hear that, fellas? The faggot can’t breathe. Let me give ‘em some air.” Ajax stood back and the geek let out huge gasping breaths. He fell to the floor like a box of matches.

“He looks so pitiful,” Pizza said.

“Like a puppy,” Dillon, another member of the group said.

“Yeah,” Ajax sneered, “I hate that look. That fucking pitiful look. You wipe that look off your face, ya hear me, faggot?” He punched him in the nose.

     The Puppy let out a cry and put both of his hands to his face. Blood came oozing from his nostrils.

     “I said stop looking at me like that, faggot!” Ajax punched him again.

     “Why-?”the Puppy said through the tears and the wheeze of an asthma attack.

     “Why what, faggot?”

     Why-?” the Puppy’s voice was getting weaker.

     “Shut up, boys, the faggot is trying to say something.” Ajax bent down to the Puppy’s trembling, wheezing mouth.

     Why me?” The Puppy asked.

      “Why not?” Ajax punched him one final time, knocking him out.

     The kid was sent to the hospital. He would have died if  the janitor hadn’t come in after Ajax and his boys left. Once he had recovered, the kid was adamant that, no, his broken nose wasn’t caused by anyone. And that, yes, he had suffered an asthma attack and, while trying to reach for his inhaler, he had slipped on the wet tile. He would never tell the truth about what happened to anyone for the rest of his life. Ajax had installed the fear in him forever just as his father did when he was little.

Ajax’s Dad worked at an auto repair shop and went to the bar once he was off. He would come home from a long day’s work, his hands still stained with oil and his breath stinking of booze, and slap his Mother around. Once his Mother had been beaten and was sent cowering in the corner with that same fucking pitiful look that the kid in the shower had, it was Ajax’s turn.

He wouldn’t get as hard of a whooping as his Mother did, by that time Dad was already tuckered out, but it would leave a mark the next day. His father would take off his belt ( just like my papa did he would say in a slurred speech) and whip him across the back, ass, and stomach. It taught him never to say anything against his Dad, but it also taught him the power of fear.

That, if you had any anger in you, just let it out on the people that were weaker than you. No therapy required, fear was the best medicine. You decided whether or not if you were at the top of the food chain. And if you weren’t, then God help you.

     “Hey, Ajax,” Blaine, another member of the four, said. “See that hobo up ahead?”

     After filling their appetite for destruction, they had decided to walk it off with a stroll through the park. The quiet stillness of the night was soothing to the gang’s leader. Nobody was around to tell them what they could or could not do.

     “Yeah,” Ajax conjured up a huge wad of saliva and spat it on the grass. “What about him?”

     “He’s making quite a bit of noise. You think that counts as loitering?”

     Indeed, the old man was making quite a bit of racket. He was sitting on a park bench covered in newspaper and wearing a T-shirt and jeans that had clearly faded away. The long toe nails of his feet stood out through his shoes that had been cut off at the front. He had an half empty bottle of whisky at his side. His head was tilted back and his eyes were closed as he sang the slurred lyrics of an Irish shanty.

     “Oooooooh, Dannny Boyyyyyy! The pipes the pipes are caaalling!” The Hobo screeched like a drunk parrot.

     “I think it does, Blaine,” Ajax lifted an eyebrow. “What do you think, Dillon?”

     “Yeah,” Dillon said with wide eyes, “He’s being real noisy. Like a dog that just won’t stop barking.”

     “Pizza?”

     “Wild dog is what he is,” Pizza said, a whitehead freshly bloomed on his cheek, “and wild dogs need to be put down.”

     “Well, that settles it, then,” Ajax smiled. “Let’s teach this dog how to be a good boy.” He reached into his jacket to make sure that his Dad’s gun was still snug in the back of his pants and he and his gang walked towards the bench.

       Oohhhhhhh Dannnnnnnny Boooooo-” the Hobo stopped once he realized that he had gathered an audience.

     “What’s up, Old Timer?” Ajax had his arms crossed. “Nice night ain’t it?”

     The Hobo blinked, not sure what to say. “Yes. Yeah, it is,” he almost sounded hypnotized. “What can I do for ya, young fellas?”

     “Well, you see, me and my buddies were just taking a stroll down this lovely park and we came across you and your singing. If you call that singing. Sounds like a cat crawled up my Mom’s ass, to me.”

     The Hobo’s watery eyes squinted. “What are you trying to say?”

     “I’m trying to say that you should shut that filthy mouth of yours.”

     “It’s a free country, son. I can do whatever I want. What are you gonna do about it?”

     “I’m gonna do this,” Ajax pulled out the gun from his pants and pointed it at the man. His gang snickered.

     “Plea-please!” The Hobo placed both of his hands up. His mouth quivered, making his large unkempt beard shake. “Don’t shoot me! Please!”

     Maybe your body will stink less when your dead,” Ajax pulled back the hammer of the gun.

     Oh, Jesus, help me!” The Hobo cried out, tears ran down his cheeks.

     “Hey, guys!” A voice let out several feet away from them. Ajax, his gang, and the Hobo turned and saw the strangest looking kid that they had ever laid eyes on.

     The Boy was around the gang’s age, though Ajax assumed that he was from a different school, since he had never seen him before. Or perhaps he was homeless like the old drunk in front of him, considering that he wasn’t wearing any shoes or socks. He had on a pair of gray pinstriped pants with suspenders and, curiously enough, a belt. Hanging off of the belt, was a collection of strange items: a pocket watch, prayer beads, dog tags, and a small leather pouch dangled at his side. He stood with his hands on his hips, like Superman, wearing a black motorcycle jacket and a waistcoat under it.

He wore no shirt, T-shirt or otherwise, and his pale skin could be seen under the waistcoat. His hair was the deep color of roses that stood up in spikes. His ears were pointy, like an elf’s, and had one golden ring on his right ear. But the strangest thing about The Boy was his eyes. They had a weird glow to them that reminded Ajax of when he saw his grandMother’s cat out in her backyard once when he was a child. That mysterious fraction of light that was both magical and dangerous all at the same time.

     “That’s no way to treat an old smelly codfish!” The Boy continued, he had a British accent or something like that. “Why, he isn’t even a pirate!”

     “The fuck you talkin‘ about?” Ajax said, his eyebrows were furrowed, but he smiled anyways, as if this was some kind of practical joke.

     “I’m talking about playing games! And playing them fairly,” The Boy had a grin on his face like he had a secret.

     “You for real?” Pizza asked.

     “I’m as real as real can be!”

     Ajax looked at his friends and laughed. He turned back to the homeless man. “I’ll deal with you in a second, old man,” he pointed the gun at The Boy. “Ready to die, faggot?”

     “To die would be an awfully big adventure.”

     Ajax fired three shots at him. Every time there was a bang, The Boy made a bizarre gesture. His arms stuck out, then one of his legs, and his head tilted sideways. He made cartoon noises of pain as the bullets fired at him. It took a few seconds for Ajax to realize, to his amazement, that The Boy was dodging the bullets. He was fucking dodging them. Ajax and his crew stood with their mouths opened.

     “My turn,” The Boy said, his smile had changed. It went from resembling something mischievous to large and predatory, like the grin of a shark.

     Before he knew it, Ajax saw The Boy sprinting towards him. No, not sprinting, flying. Someone was actually flying in front of him. The Boy drew his right leg wide and kicked his bare foot right into Ajax’s head. The others moved backwards, as if a hole had just appeared in the ground beneath them, and Ajax fell with a thud. The Boy landed on their leader’s stomach, making him moan with pain and confusion.

     “Oh, the cleverness of me!” The Boy placed his hands on hips again.

     “What the fuck?” Dillon said. “What the fuck was that?” His mind raced, trying to find a logical explanation to all of this, but it was no use. He had accepted the reality that he just saw some hipster kid that looked like an elf, dodge bullets and then fucking flew at his best friend. It almost turned his brain into jelly.

     “I got him,” Blaine said and threw a punch at him. The Boy caught it without even looking and twisted his arm around, so that it was facing backwards. The sound of his wrist breaking was that of a twig snapping. “AHHHHHHHHH!” He screamed in pain.

     “No,” The Boy said, annoyed, “you’re suppose to say uncle.” The Boy let go of Blaine’s arm and he was sent sprawling to the ground, clutching his hand and weeping.

     The other members looked down at their fallen comrade and then back to The Boy. Suddenly, there was something glowing on his shoulder, like a firefly or a bug. And he was talking to it.

      “Go get, ‘em, Tink!” The Boy said.  The bug was saying something, but Pizza and Dillon were too shocked to hear it. The Boy grew impatient. “That’s an order.” He pointed towards them.

     The firefly flew off of The Boy’s shoulder and towards them with the sound of jiggling bells. The two of them were running backwards now, afraid of the insect. It got close to Dillon and he nearly screamed when he saw that it was a tiny woman with wings.

     “I’m really sorry about this,” the Fairy said. But before Dillon could ask what she meant, she suddenly burst into a blinding light like a camera flash. Dillon let out a girlish shriek and shut his eyes. He fell to the ground, his ass hitting the pavement hard, and then opened them. Hundreds of tiny balls of light of every color in the spectrum were swimming in front of him. Bells filled his ear drums and all he could do now was sit there at the wonder of it all, dazed and confused.

     Pizza pulled out a knife from his jacket pocket and flicked it open, the blade was long and shinny. “I’m gonna kill ya, you fucking bug.”

     “Well, fuck you too, kid,” the Fairy turned red and pulled out a sewing needle (what Tink called her Stinger) and thrashed it at him. It sliced open the front of his hand and Pizza dropped the knife with a cry. He snarled and groped wildly at the Fairy, but she dodged him with the speed of a humming bird. She slashed at his face, leaving small cuts across it. He let out a string of curses and waved his arms around wildly. She smacked him in the head with all her might and he landed on the ground, unconscious.

     Ajax slowly came to his senses. His eyes wandered and saw that his friends had either been knocked out, wounded, or (what appeared to be in Dillon’s case) stoned. He also saw The Boy picking up his gun several feet away from him. He got up as fast as he could, though still siting down, and peddled backwards.

     “What-what the fuck are you, man!” Ajax nearly shrieked in surprise when he hit the bench. The drunk homeless man just stared at him.

       “I’m Peter,” The Boy pointed the gun at him.

     Ajax quickly turned to the homeless man and started clawing at his clothes. “Please, mister! Help me! Don’t let him kill me! PLEASE!” His face was blubbering with tears, snot, and sweat. The homeless tugged himself away from the kid.

     Ajax looked up at the boy named Peter and nearly had a heart attack. This wasn’t just a psycho. This kid was laughing and smiling as if he was playing a video game or on a playground. This was the kid’s idea of fun. “Please, please, please, don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me.

     “You know,” Peter ignored him, “I’ve always hated these things. They’re so loud and ugly. I prefer a dagger, don’t you?” He studied the gun and then sighed. “Oh, well.” He pulled the trigger until it clicked. He threw the gun over his shoulder as if it were a broken toy.

     The air was still for a Moment, the echoes of the gunfire rang throughout the park. Then The Boy did something that made the homeless man nearly jump out of his skin. He lifted up his head to the sky, opened his mouth, and made the uncanny sound of a rooster crowing.  The homeless man collapsed to his knees and placed his hands together.

     “Oh, sweet Jesus, thank you!” He cried out with tears in his eyes. “You finally answered my prayers! After living without a home for ten long years now, you have finally sent-sent an angel to protect me! My belief in you has been rewarded at last! He lowered his hands and let out large sobs.

     “Whatever,” The Boy shrugged and flew away with his Fairy along with him.

***

     “Peter!” Tinker Bell called after him, flying as fast as she could. The wind was blowing hard, which caused the two of them to fly with great difficulty. “Peter!” She yelled at him again, furious at what this night had become. First, the annoying detour that he took, to him playing with the boys like that in such a horrible way, to him crowing. It was not the way she liked him and she had known Peter for a very long time now.

     “What?” Peter stopped in the air, turning towards her. He looked at her as if she was a spoiled child that kept asking for her ice cream.

     “Look,” she caught up with him, “I don’t know what the hell you were thinking down there, but-”

     “I was only having a little fun”. The wind had died down and he was glad of it. “Can’t I at least do that without having you crawl up my ass?”

     “You call that having fun?” She pointed downwards. “Peter, you killed that boy!”

     “He started it,” Peter crossed his arms. “He was going to kill that old man.”

     “And so you shot him to death? Out of all our times visiting this world, you still haven’t figured out that it’s not as simple as Orphans versus Pirates?”

     Peter turned his head in the way that was familiar to her.

     “Why are you crying?”

     “I’m not crying,” he sniffed. “I’m just. . . .”

     Tink flew around and faced him. Tears were streaming down his face. Her light went dim to a soft sunset gold. “Come on Peter, your Tink is here. You can tell me anything.”

     “I’m just- just so tired, Tink!” He threw his hands to his side. “I’ve been doing this for so long that it’s boring now. It’s not fun anymore! I feel so. . . so.. . “

     Old, Tinker Bell thought. A word that he despised so much that it haunted his nightmares. She knew what it meant. All fairies die some day. Her own light would extinguish when she herself was tired and old. It was something that filled her with fear every time she thought of it as it does with everyone. But not with him. He would never die of being old and tired. He would outlive her, he would outlive this world, he would outlive everything.

He would be the only one left on the island except for the children that they took. If they weren’t killed, that is. Sometimes she thought to herself that maybe, just maybe, Peter wished Hook would win for once. Just to see what it felt like to die.

     “I know, my dear,” she touched his cheek and he winced at the heat of it. “But you can’t act like that in this world. You have to keep yourself hidden from it all. They wouldn’t know what to do with things like us.”

     “I guess.”

     She kissed his cheek. I love you she thought. But she couldn’t say it. That would be taking things too far. She felt something prickle inside of her. It was the horrible sensation of longing and she hated it. Peter wiped the tears from his face.

     “All right, then,” he turned around, looking at the city and back to his joyful self again, “where shall we look?”

     “You’re the boss, Boss,” Tink smiled, happy to have her Peter back.

       “Let’s goooooo,” he closed his eyes and pointed his arm to the ground with one finger out. He paused for a Moment, as he always did when trying to find the right children. His arm went around in a circle. “There!” He pointed to a neighborhood and opened his eyes.

     “Race ya!” Tink said and flew straight at it like a buzzing bee.

     “That’s my girl!” Peter went after her.

     They went down into the neighborhood and to the main street. Tonight was quiet, almost serene. The sounds of crickets could be heard in the grass and the wind blew softly through the trees. Peter stopped at the house at the corner. He looked at Tink and motioned her to follow him. They stopped at a window at the top floor.

Through the window, Tink could see a boy sleeping. His glasses were on the nightstand next to his bed and his room was covered in comic book posters.

     “Him?” Tink asked. “Why would you want-”

     “No,” a voice said off to the side.

     Tink turned and saw that Peter was flying several feet away in front of the other window. His arms were crossed and he was smiling.

     “Her,” he said.

     Tink flew next to him and saw a girl sleeping in her bed. The girl had beautiful chestnut brown hair that draped over her face like a curtain. She rested her arm underneath her head.

     “She’s cute,” Tink said. “Should we invite ourselves in?”

     “No,” Peter said. His breathing caught, excited. “We need to wait. I can feel it in her, Tink. I can almost smell it.”

     “Smell what?”

     “Unhappy thoughts.”

wp-kindle

ATTENTION EBOOK READERS! You can now purchase my new novel, WENDY & PETER, for $2.99 on Kindle via Amazon! See you on that second star to the right!
Wendy Darling hates her life. School feels like a prison, her parents don’t understand her, and she is buried by all the pressures that come with being a seventeen year-old girl. That is until she is visited by a red-haired boy who can fly. The boy named Peter tells her of a secret place, a magical island where there are no parents, no rules, and where children stay young forever. A place called: Neverland. Wendy, along with her younger brother John, are both whisked away to paradise where they discover fairies, mermaids, and pirates. Neverland is seemingly everything she ever wanted, but Wendy soon discovers something else is waiting under the surface of her new home. Beyond the magic and joy, lies a truth more dangerous, primal, and ancient than she could ever imagine. Both Wendy and John learn that there is always a price to pay for never having to grow up.

 A tale of the magic of youth and the death of innocence, Wendy & Peter is a dark and punk-rock take on a classic story. Enter Neverland at your own risk.

Pan

Not official artwork.

Ahoy, followers! My upcoming novel, WENDY AND PETER doesn’t come to Amazon until later this year, but I’d thought I’d give you all a sneak peak with the first chapter! Enjoy and be on the lookout for more updates on this punk rock re-telling of PETER PAN! You can also find the link to my previous novel, BLOOD TRADE, in Paperback and Kindle format right HERE!
See you on the second star to the right,
A.B.

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS GRAPHIC DEPICTIONS OF VIOLENCE AND STRONG LANGUAGE.

IMPORTANT NOTE: THIS IS A FIRST DRAFT AND MAY CONTAIN SOME GRAMMAR MISTAKES.

ONE: SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT

  The Boy who never grew up flew through the sky like a shooting star. The Light that followed beside him glowed with amber and made a sound like tiny bells. It was warm tonight, as was typical for spring, but the wind and the temperature of the altitude made it as cool as a fall morning. The clouds were sparse, just the way The Boy liked it. He could see the city down below laid out under him, shining like the stars above. He could hear the engines of cars roaring down the road, footsteps clacking against the pavement. The smell of smoke and gas filled his nose. He drank it all in as he always did during his scouting missions. Home wasn’t like this. He was used to smelling the dampness of the morning mist as it went through the trees. The call of birds of all variety waking him as the sun rose, the way the island looked huge and mighty from the sky. The only thing here that was familiar to home was the smell of sea salt, and of course, the sound of laughing children. He thought to himself that maybe he should have a hot dog or a hamburger tonight. Flying great distances always did make him hungry. He could always get the same food, any food he desired in fact, back at home. But it wouldn’t be the same. He wouldn’t be able to walk into a restaurant, go up to the counter, and eat his dinner at a table. He wouldn’t be able to blend in with the rest of them. Not just because of the way he looked or dressed or the fact that he had a fairy at his side, but because he was never able to feel like them. He looked like any other teenage boy, but he was far from it. He would never be able to feel what it was like to wake up for school the next morning or get a job or any other things that they took for granted. He despised this world and its rules of course. But, somewhere deep inside him, he was curious about it. He had been curious about it for hundreds of years.

Watch out!” He suddenly heard the fairy say by his ear. He snapped out of his trance and saw an airplane heading straight for him. He quickly dived to the left. The air of the engine was like a roar of  a lion and had the force of a tornado. The Boy shut his eyes as hard as he could and flew with all his might to get away from the great machine. He prayed to himself that his precious fairy did not lose herself into the blades of the engine. The sound of the airplane died like distant thunder as it flew farther away. The Boy opened his eyes and laughed. He was just fine, oh the cleverness of him! He then noticed how quiet it was.

“Tink?” He looked around frantically. “Tink! Where are you?” His voice gave no echo up here.

“I’m okay!” The Fairy returned. Her light felt warm to him. “You should pay more attention next time.”

I should pay more attention?” The Boy crossed his arms. “How about they watch where they’re flying?” He hated those damn things. Always so loud and bossy. “They ruin all the fun of being up here.”

     “You’re going to have to play by their rules if you still want to scout here,” Tink said with a smirk. “Or are you too chickenshit?”

“Chickenshit?” He was angry now She knew how to press his buttons. “Now, you listen here you little-”

“Oh, stop it,” Tink said, kissing him on the cheek. “If we stay here arguing, we’ll never find new Orphans.”

“ I guess.”

“What would you do without me, Pete?”

They continued their mission, downwards this time. The air was slightly warmer now, and the smell of the city grew. The buildings below them looked like elaborate dollhouses made of glass and concrete. Cars zoomed down the streets as if they were whined up by hand. In the windows of the skyscrapers, the boy named Peter saw men and women wandering about in them. They sat in their tiny cubicle offices, on the phone, or rubbing their faces in disbelief that they had to stay and work this late tonight. Peter often imagined to himself what it must be like to have a job. The first qualification for having a job, he thought, was to have a mustache. Even if you didn’t, you were either a woman, or very poor at your job. The second: a tie. Preferably red. Black ties were so ugly to him and the ones that had patters on them were even worse. A briefcase was the third qualification. Peter assumed that since people didn’t have scabbards in this world, they must’ve carried their swords in their briefcases or purses. The fourth and final qualification was coffee. There was no coffee where he came from; only water, soda, and alcohol. All of which, were really the only drinks that the Orphans needed or cared about. No, coffee (as well as that oh, so, snooty elixir called wine) was an adult’s drink. A pirates drink to be more vulgar. He would see these job-workers always carrying a cup of coffee in one hand and a cell phone to their ear in the other. They would always take sips from their styrofoam containers in between yelling about numbers or figures or whatever grown-ups yelled about into their mechanical beetles. He saw them going in and out of the buildings, going up elevators and stairs. They always reminded him of ants, scurrying about, doing their duty without a care in the world. With no clue to what might be up there in the sky watching them right now. With no clue what it was like to fly with the birds. With no clue what it was like to live in a world with no rules and to always have fun. With-

He sensed something. No, not sensed, smelled something. It was sweet and sour all at the same time. The smell of fresh flowers mixed in with rotting fruit. It was coming from below, as it always did. The origins of the scent came from houses, playgrounds, and schools. But tonight it came from the streets. It was the smell of youth.

“Hey, Tink,” Peter said. “Why don’t we go down over there?” He pointed to a small patch away from the tall buildings. The only light around it was coming from electric lamp posts lined in a row.

“Why? The Fairy asked. “Do you see any potential candidates?”  She smiled. Tink had hoped that tonight’s mission would be over soon. She was tired of coming to this world, taking its children, and then having to do it all over again. She loved The Boy, but he was getting reckless in his old age.

“Nah. I just want to have a little fun, that’s all,” his eyes blazed with an inner fire as it always did when he was excited or running his sword through someone.

    “I don’t think that’s such a good idea, Pete,” Tink’s body stiffened a little, afraid of what was going to come next. “We should really keep our heads down. Scouting is the mission, remember? Not playtime. We really should be focusing on scouting.”

     “What’s a matter?” Peter sneered. “Chickenshit?”

     Tinker Bell’s wings bristled and her amber light was now taking a shade of red. Fairies are so small that they can only fit one emotion inside them at a time. “No,” she said through sharp breaths, “I just think that we should-”

     “Last one there’s a rotten egg!” Peter shot down through the sky and his infectious giggle followed him.

     “I swear,” Tink’s color was brightening again, “that kid is going to be the death of me.” She went after him.

   

***

     The gang of kids found the homeless man during their nightly stroll. There were four of them,  their ages ranging from fourteen to seventeen. Little Man was the youngest, while the leader Ajax, was the oldest. Ajax was not only the oldest, but the largest of the group. Standing at six foot-eight and with the body of a linebacker, it was as if the Hulk himself was walking down the street. The kids had skipped school today and hadn’t gone home that night. Instead, they had smoked some weed, got drunk, and shop-lifted at the local mall. They had even whistled and cat-called at a hot college student for good measure.

“Fuck you,” the girl had said as she continued to walk by.

     “You won’t be saying that when you have my dick in your mouth, bitch,” Ajax had said with a smile. The girl didn’t respond, but it didn’t matter to him when he had his boys laughing in agreement with him.

     “Bitches always want that dick,” the boy to his right had said. His face was a crater landscape of acne, which gave him the nickname Pizza. He smiled wide, showing off the railroad tracks of braces across his teeth.

     Girls weren’t not their preferred target when sex was not involved. Most of them even hadn’t had sex, despite their boasting of their carnal conquests. No, Ajax and his gang of droogs were not a gang of that sort. They were of the kind to enjoy chaos, destruction, and a little bit of the old ultra-violence. Each of them had been sent to juvie at some point during their teenage careers and had worn it like a badge of honor. The sound of the iron doors locking behind them was akin to church bells. It added even more to their reputation than what had preceded them. The teachers scowled at them with disapproving looks and fellow students made sure to walk around them at school. That was the one thing that they craved most: the fear. The fear of the geeks, the nerds, and the pussies at school that were too weak to fend for themselves. The locker filled halls were a hunting ground for them. A place where they could test out their love of pain on the youth so that it prepared them to inflict it on the old once they had graduated. Ajax was not one for the typical bully tactics either. He wouldn’t hang “KICK ME” signs on the back of a kid’s shirt or hold them down and spit on their face. No, Ajax wanted to leave an impression. He wanted to make sure that no one would ever dare stand up to him. He and his gang would go into the gym showers when the majority of the class had gone and would wait for some scrawny puppy of a boy to finish showering. Ajax would lock the door and, once the kid was done, he would slam into him with every ounce of strength that he had against the wall.

     “AHHH!” The puppy-kid would scream in both terror and pain. His face pressed up against the tile as Ajax’s large stomach would lean into him like an airbag deploying in a car.

     “Gotcha, faggot!” Ajax would laugh and his companions would join in.

     I cnnt brrr” The twig of a teenage said in a muffled voice.

     “What’s that, faggot? I can’t hear you?”

     “I! Can’t! Breathe!”

     “Hear that, fellas? The faggot can’t breathe. Let me give ‘em some air.” Ajax stood back and the geek would let out huge gasping breaths. He fell to the floor like a box of matches.

“He looks so pitiful,” Pizza said.

“Like a puppy,” Dillon, another member of the group said.

“Yeah,” Ajax sneered, “I hate that look. That fucking pitiful look. You wipe that look of your face, ya hear me, faggot?” He punched him in the nose.

     The puppy let out a cry and put both of his hands to it. Blood came oozing from his nostrils.

     “I said stop looking at me like that, faggot!” Ajax punched him again.

     “Why-”the puppy said through the tears and the wheeze of an asthma attack.

     “Why what, faggot?”

     Why-” the puppy’s voice was getting weaker.

     “Shut up, boys, the faggot is trying to say something.” Ajax bent down to the puppy’s trembling, wheezing mouth.

     Why me?” The puppy asked.

      “Why not?” Ajax punched him one final time, knocking him out.

     The kid was sent to the hospital. He would have died if  the janitor hadn’t had come in after Ajax and his boys left. Once he had recovered, the kid was adamant that, no, his broken nose wasn’t caused by anyone. And that, yes, he had suffered an asthma attack and, while trying to reach for his inhaler, he had slipped on the wet tile. He would never tell the truth about what happened to anyone for the rest of his life. Ajax had installed the fear in him for life just as his father did when he was little. Ajax’s dad worked at an auto repair shop and went to the bar once he was off. He would come home from a long day’s work, his hands still stained with oil and his breath stinking of booze, and slap his mother around. Once his mother had been beaten and was sent cowering in the corner with that same fucking pitiful look that the kid in the shower had, it was Ajax’s turn. He wouldn’t get as hard of a whooping as his mother did, by that time dad was already tuckered out, but it would leave a mark the next day. His father would take off his belt( just like my papa did he would say in a slurred speech) and whip him across the back, ass, and stomach. It taught him never to say anything against his dad, but it also taught him the power of fear. That, if you had any anger in you, just let it out on the people that were weaker than you. No therapy required, fear was the best medicine. You decide whether or not if you were at the top of the food chain. And if you weren’t, then God help you.

     “Hey, Ajax,” Blane, another member of the four, said. “See that hobo up ahead?”

     After filling their apatite for destruction, they had decided to walk it off with a stroll through the park. The quiet stillness of the night was soothing to the gang’s leader. Nobody was around to tell them what they could or could not do.

     “Yeah,” Ajax conjured up a huge wad of saliva and spat it on the grass. “What about him?”

     “He’s making quite a bit of noise. You think that counts as loitering?”

     Indeed the old man was making quite a bit of racket. He was sitting on a park bench covered in newspaper and wearing a T-shirt and jeans that had clearly faded away. The long toe nails of his feet stood out through his shoes that had been cut off at the front. He had an half empty bottle of whisky at his side. His head was titled back and his eyes were closed as he sang the slurred lyrics of an Irish shanty.

     “Oooooooh, Dannny Boyyyyyy! The pipes the pipes are caaalling!” The hobo screeched like a drunk parrot.

     “I think it does, Blake,” Ajax lifted an eyebrow. “What do you think, Dillon?”

     “Yeah,” Dillon said with wide eyes, “He’s being real noisy. Like a dog that just won’t stop barking.”

     “Pizza?”

     “Wild dog is what he is,” Pizza said, a white head freshly bloomed on his cheek, “and wild dogs need to be put down.”

     “Well, that settles it, then,” Ajax smiled. “Let’s teach this dog how to be a good boy.” He reached into his jacket to make sure that his dad’s gun was still snug in the back of his pants and he and his gang walked towards the bench.

       Oohhhhhhh Dannnnnnnny Boooooo-” the homeless man stopped once he realized that he had an audience in front of him.

     “What’s up, Old Timer?” Ajax had his arms crossed. “Nice night ain’t it?”

     The homeless man blinked, not sure what to say. “Yes. Yeah, it is,” he almost sounded hypnotized. “What can I do for ya, young fellas?”

     “Well, you see, me and my buddies were just taking a stroll in this lovely park and we came across you and your singing. If you call that singing. Sounds like a cat crawled up my mom’s ass, to me.”

     The homeless man’s watery eyes squinted. “What are you trying to say?”

     “I’m trying to say that you should shut that filthy mouth of yours.”

     “It’s a free country, son. I can do whatever I want. What are you gonna do about it?”

     “I’m gonna do this,” Ajax pulled out the gun from his pants and pointed it at the man. His gang snickered.

     “Plea-please!” The homeless man placed both of his hands up. His mouth quivered, making his large unkempt beard shake. “Don’t shoot me! Please!”

     Maybe your body will stink less when your dead,” Ajax pulled back the hammer of the gun.

     Oh, Jesus, help me!” The homeless man cried out, tears ran down his cheeks.

     “Hey, guys!” A voice let out several feet away from them. Ajax, his gang, and the homeless man turned and saw the strangest looking kid that they ever laid eyes on.

     The Boy was around the gang’s age, though Ajax assumed that he was from a different school, since he had never seen him before. Or perhaps he was homeless like the old drunk in front of him, considering that he wasn’t wearing any shoes or socks. He had on a pair of gray pinstriped pants with suspenders and, curiously enough, a belt. Hanging off the belt, was a collection of strange items: a pocket watch, prayer beads, dog tags, and a small leather pouch dangled at his side. He stood with his hands on his hips, like Superman, wearing a black motorcycle jacket and waistcoat under it. He wore no shirt, T-shirt or otherwise, and his pale skin could be seen under the waistcoat. His hair was the deep color of roses that stood up in spikes. His ears were pointy, like an elf’s, and had one golden ring on his right ear. But the strangest thing about The Boy was his eyes. They had a weird glow to them that reminded Ajax of when he saw his grandmother’s cat out in her backyard once when he was a child. That mysterious fraction of light that was both magical and dangerous all at the same time.

     “That’s no way to treat an old smelly codfish!” The Boy continued, he had a British accent or something like that. “Why, he isn’t even a pirate!”

     “The fuck you talkin‘ about?” Ajax said, his eyebrows were furrowed, but he smiled anyways. As if this was some kind of practical joke.

     “I’m talking about playing games! And playing them fairly,” The Boy had a grin on his face like he had a secret.

     “You for real?” Pizza asked.

     “I’m as real as real can be!”

     Ajax looked at his friends and laughed. He turned back to the homeless man. “I’ll deal with you in a second, old man,” he pointed the gun at The Boy. “Ready to die, faggot?”

     “To die would be an awfully big adventure.”

     Ajax fired three shots at him. Every time there was a bang, The Boy made a bizarre gesture. His arms stuck out, then one of his legs, and his head titled sideways. He made cartoon noises of pain as the bullets fired at him. It took a few seconds for Ajax to realize, to his amazement, that The Boy was dodging the bullets. He was fucking dodging them. Ajax and his crew stood with their mouths opened.

     “My turn,” The Boy said, his smile had changed. It went from resembling something mischievous to large and shark like.

     Before he knew it, Ajax saw The Boy sprinting towards him. No, not sprinting, flying. Someone was actually flying in front of him. The Boy drew his right leg wide and kicked his bare foot right into Ajax’s head. The others moved backwards, as if a hole and just appeared in the ground before them, and Ajax fell with a thud. The Boy landed on their leader’s stomach, making him moan with pain and confusion.

     “Oh, the cleverness of me!” The Boy placed his hands on hips again.

     “What the fuck?” Dillon said. “What the fuck was that?” His mind raced, trying to find a logical explanation to all of this, but it was no use. He had excepted the reality that he just saw some hipster kid that looked like an elf, dodge bullets and then fucking flew at his best friend. It almost turned his brain to jelly.

     “I got him,” Blane said and threw a punch at him. The Boy caught it without even looking and twisted his arm around, so that he was facing backwards. The sound of his wrist breaking was that of a twig snapping. “AHHHHHHHHH!” He screamed in pain.

     “No,” The Boy said, annoyed, “you’re suppose to say uncle.” The Boy let go of Blake’s arm and he was sent sprawling to the ground, clutching his hand and weeping.

     The other members looked down at their fallen comrade and then back to The Boy. Suddenly, there was something glowing on his shoulder, like a firefly or a bug. And he was talking to it.

      “Go get, ‘em, Tink!” The Boy said, the bug was saying something, but Pizza and Dillon were too shocked to hear it. The Boy grew impatient. “That’s an order.” He pointed towards them.

     The firefly flew off of The Boy’s shoulder and towards them with the sound of jiggling bells. The two of them were running backwards now, afraid of the insect. It got close to Dillon and he nearly screamed when he saw that it was a tiny woman with wings.

     “I’m really sorry about this,” the Fairy said. But before Dillon could ask what she meant, she suddenly burst into a blinding light like a camera flash. Dillon let out a girlish shriek and shut his eyes. He fell to the ground, his ass hitting the pavement hard, and then opened them. Hundreds of tiny balls of light of every color in the spectrum were swimming in front of him. Bells filled his ear drums and all he could do now was sit there at the wonder of it all, dazed and confused.

     Pizza pulled out a knife from his jacket pocket and flicked it open, the blade was long and shinny. “I’m gonna kill ya, you fucking bug.”

     “Well, fuck you too, kid,” the Fairy turned red and pulled out a sewing needle(what Tink called her Stinger) and thrashed it at him. It sliced open the front of his hand and Pizza dropped the knife with a cry. He snarled and groped wildly at the Fairy, but she dodged him with the speed of a humming bird. She slashed at his face, leaving small cuts across it. He let out a string of curses and waved his arms around wildly. She smacked him in the head with all her might and he landed on the ground, unconscious.

     Ajax slowly came to his senses. His eyes wandered and saw that his friends had either been knocked out, wounded, or (what appeared to be in Dillon’s case) stoned. He also saw The Boy picking up his gun several feet away from him. He got up as fast as he could, though still siting down, and peddled backwards.

     “What-what the fuck are you, man!” Ajax nearly shrieked in surprise when he realized that he hit the bench. The drunk homeless man just stared at him.

       “I’m Peter,” The Boy pointed the gun at him.

     Ajax quickly turned to the homeless man and started clawing at his clothes. “Please, mister! Help me! Don’t let him kill me! PLEASE!” His face was blubbering with tears, snot, and sweat. The homeless tugged himself away from the kid.

     Ajax looked up at the boy named Peter and nearly had a heart attack. This wasn’t just a psycho, this kid was laughing and smiling as if he was playing a video game or on a playground. This was the kid’s idea of fun. “Please, please, please, don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me.

     “You know,” Peter ignored him, “I’ve always hated these things. They’re so loud and ugly. I prefer a sword, don’t you?” He studied the gun and then sighed. “Oh, well.” He pulled the trigger until it clicked. He threw the gun over his shoulder as if it was a broken toy.

     The air was still for a moment, the echoes of the gun fire rang throughout the park. Then The Boy did something that made the homeless man nearly jump out of his skin. He lifted up his head to the sky, opened his mouth, and made the uncanny sound of a rooster crowing.  The homeless man collapsed to his knees and placed his hands together.

     “Oh, sweet Jesus, thank you!” He cried out with tears in his eyes. “You finally answered my prayers! After living without a home for ten long years now, you have finally sent-sent an angel to protect me! My belief in you has been rewarded at least! He lowered his had and let out large sobs.

     “Whatever,” The Boy shrugged and flew away with his Fairy along with him.

***

     “Peter!” Tinker Bell called after him, flying as fast as she could. The wind was blowing hard, which caused the two of them to fly with great difficulty. “Peter!” She yelled at him again, furious at what this night had become. First the annoying detour that he took to him playing with the boys like that in such a horrible way to him crowing. It was not the way she liked him and she had known Peter for a very long time now.

     “What?” Peter stopped in the air, turning towards her. He looked at her as if she was a spoiled child that kept asking for her toy.

     “Look,” she caught up with him, “I don’t know what the hell you were thinking down there, but-”

     “I was only having a little fun,” the wind had died down and he was glad of it. “Can’t I at least do that without having you crawl up my ass?”

     “You call that having fun?” She pointed townwards. “Peter, you killed that boy!”

     “He started it,” Peter crossed his arms. “He was going to kill that old man.”

     “And so you shot him to death? Out of all our times visiting this world, you still haven’t figured out that it’s not as simple as Orphans and Pirates?”

     Peter turned his head in the way that was familiar to her.

     “Why are you crying?”

     “I’m not crying,” he sniffed. “I’m just. . . .”

     Tink flew around and faced him. Tears were streaming down his face. Her light went dim to a soft sunset gold. “Come on Peter, your Tink is here. You can tell me anything.”

     “I’m just- just so tired, Tink!” He threw his hands to his side. “I’ve been doing this for so long that it’s boring now. It’s not fun anymore! I feel so. . . so.. . “

     Old, Tinker Bell thought. A word that he despised so much that it haunted his nightmares. She knew of what it meant. All fairies die some day. Her light would extinguish one day when she herself was tired and old. It was something that filled her with fear every time she thought of it as it does with everyone. But not with him. He would never die of being old and tired. He would outlive her, he would outlive this world, he would outlive everything. He would be the only one left on the island except for the children that they took. If they weren’t killed, that is. Sometimes she thought to herself that maybe, just maybe, Peter wished Hook would win for once. Just to see what it felt like to die.

     “I know, my dear,” she touched his cheek and he winced at the heat of it. “But you can’t act like that in this world. You have to keep yourself hidden from it all. They wouldn’t know what to do with things like us.”

     “I guess.”

     She kissed his cheek. I love you she thought. But she couldn’t say it. That would be taking things too far. She felt something prickle inside of her. It was the horrible sensation of longing and she hated it. Peter wiped the tears from his face.

     “Alright, then,” he turned around, looking at the city and back to his joyful self again, “where shall we look?”

     “You’re the boss, Boss,” Tink smiled, happy to have her Peter back.

       “Let’s goooooo,” he closed his eyes and pointed his arm to the ground with one finger out. He paused for a moment, as he always did when trying to find the right children. His arm went around in a circle. “There!” He pointed to a neighborhood and opened his eyes.

     “Race ya!” Tink said and flew straight at it like a buzzing bee.

     “That’s my girl!” Peter went after her.

     They went down into the neighborhood and down the street. Tonight was quiet, almost serene. The sounds of crickets could be heard in the grass and the wind blew softly through the trees. Peter stopped at the house at the corner. He looked at Tink and motioned her to follow him. They stopped at a window at the top floor. Through the window, Tink could see a boy sleeping. His glasses were on the nightstand next to his bed and his room was covered in comic book posters.

     “Him?” Tink asked. “Why would you want-”

     “No,” a voice said off to the side.

     Tink turned and saw that Peter was flying several feet away in front of the other window. His arms were crossed and he was smiling.

     “Her,” he said.

     Tink flew next to him and saw a girl sleeping in her bed. She was a couple of years older than the her brother and her room was filled with posters of old rock stars. The girl had beautiful chestnut brown hair that draped over her face like a curtain. She rested her arm under her head.

     “She’s cute,” Tink said. “Should we invite ourselves in?”

     “No,” Peter said. His breathing caught, excited. “We need to wait. I can feel it in her, Tink. I can almost smell it.”

     “Smell what?”

     “Unhappy thoughts.”

BLOOD TRADE EDBOOK

The first couple of reviews for my new novel, BLOOD TRADE, are here!

Valeria Camnasio-Quevedo says:

I got this book in the mail and as soon I started to read it I could not put it down. The story is fantastic. not predictable at all and is a NEW story about vampires! I totally recommend this book for any person who is interested in reading a great, new and well written vampire story. It’s wroth it!”

Petra Reynolds says:

Wonderful addition to the Vampire genre. I could not put the book down. The story is engaging and very well written. I can’t wait for the next book! Thank you for this refreshing new spin.”

Grab your copy of it right here and be sure to leave a review of your own!

BLOOD TRADE EDBOOK

Hey, everyone! My book BLOOD TRADE doesn’t come out on Amazon till February 22, but I thought I’d give y’all a sneak peak by posting the first chapter! Updates on when you can pre-order the Ebook version, sample chapters, and more are all coming soon!
-A.B.

CHAPTER ONE: NIGHT SHIFT

   Lester Niles lifted the garbage bag of human remains into the bed of his truck. It wasnt his first time, but it was still quite the load. Four bags: two parents, two children. He thought about chopping up the dog after he had strangled it to keep it quiet, but he decided against it. He didnt know if They liked canine. Dont mess up the order. Dont get Them angry. He closed the tailgate and got into the truck.

     Lesters first murder was of his pet goldfish, Jimmy, when he was seven. Jimmy was the only pet Lesters parents would allow him to have because a dog, a cat, or a bird would just make as mess all over the house. Lester loved that fish. He would watch it swim in its little bowl for hours on end. Going around the tiny fake castle among the pebbles, he felt a kinship with Jimmy that he hadnt with other people. Though he was too young to articulate it, he felt like Jimmy understood his worldview. That, for him, the world was just one giant glass bowl. The human race spins around and around and we forget everything that weve done before. We are on a constant reset button. Forgetting, or choosing to forget, the mistakes that we have made.

     One day, Lester decided to murder Jimmy. It wasnt out of malice or anger, just curiosity. He had never seen anything die before, so why not use his best friend as a test subject? He thought Jimmy wouldnt mind. He grabbed the fish by the tail, took him out of the bowl, and placed him on the table where the bowl sat. The fish flopped on the table like it was on a pogo stick, its mouth opened wide for air. Minute by minute Jimmys jumps grew shorter until he just lay on the table. His fin moved up and down, his mouth opened and closed, his eyes bulged out of their sockets. Then he stopped.

     Lester drove to the pick-up spot with the windows down. He didnt like the smell of blood. He let the night wind blow his long, greasy hair and remembered the look on the parentsfaces when he injected them. They seemed so calm.

     The seven year-old Lester didnt dispose of the fishs corpse after it had expired. Nor did he cry, he just left the fish there on the table and continued to play with his toys. Mom and Dad would be mad, though.

     When Lester was using the cleaver to take apart the little boy and little girl, he wondered if he left the toaster on back at his house.

     Honey!His mother said when she came back home. What happened to Jimmy?She rushed over to the table and picked up the now pale-white fish with her soft hands.  She frowned. Poor thing. Must have jumped out.

     I killed him,Lester said.

     You. . . you what?His mother asked.

     I. Killed. Him,Lester said as if she were hard of hearing.

     His mother dropped the fish on to the carpet. But. . . why?

     All he could do was shrug.

     Well talk about this when your father gets home,she said, her face as white as paper.

     He got hungry, so he stopped by a McDonalds to get something to eat. Always a Happy Meal. He loved the little toy inside.

     Dinner that night wasnt the most lively. It never was in the Niles household. They would usually sit and just watch the TV. No talking, no questions, just stare at the glowing box. Tonight was different, though. Lesters father wasnt very good with feelings. He sat at the table, wringing his hands together.

     Lester,he said.

     Yes, Dad?Lester asked.

     You. . . you know that what you did was. . . his fathers eyes wandered about as if the right words were in the air. Wrong. Dont you, son?

    Maybe,the little boy said playing with his corn. I dont know.

     What do you mean, you dont-

     Phil,his mother said, cutting him off. She, unlike her husband, was good with talking to people. Sweetie, what were trying to say is. . . what you did was very bad.

     Why?Their son asked.

     Mr. and Mrs. Niles could only exchange worried glances. The tilapia that they were having had lost its flavor.

     Lester filled up his tank with gas. He liked that people werent friendly. Minding your own  business meant not wanting to ask questions. He considered it to be a virtue.

     For the next three years little Lester was subjected to appointments with psychiatrists and prescriptions of various medications. At first, Lester was honest with his doctors. He told them about how he didnt understand why killing was such a bad thing to do. But he had gotten smart. He soon realized that the doctors, his family, and the world didnt understand him. Didnt understand that what he did was personal and that it wasnt bothering anyone else. So why should it? He told the doctors that yes, he had been taking his pills, and no, he wasnt having murderous thoughts anymore. He didnt tell them about the decapitated bird that he kept in a shoe box in his closet.

     Another pick-up truck pulled up at the gas station. On the back window, a sticker read: GET ER DEADwith a picture of a cartoon deers corpse on it. Lester smiled at it fondly.

     When Lester was thirteen, Phil Niles thought it would be a good idea to teach his son how to hunt. He had, after all, been episode free for some years and he was taking his medication regularly. Lesters father bought him a rifle that Christmas and one week later, they decided to test it out. Up at dawn, the cold air stung Lesters face as they waited behind a log in the forest.

     Whens it coming, Dad?Lester asked impatiently.

     Any minute now, sonhis father replied. It should be- there it is!

     His father pointed up ahead at a deer that was trotting in the snow. Lester thought it was beautiful. It looked so innocent. So pure.

     Now remember, Lest,his father said. Keep calm and squeeze the trigger. Dont jerk it.

     Lester tried to keep his hands from shaking. Even through his gloves he thought that he could feel the metal of the trigger on his skin. He squeezed, there was a small pop that echoed through the woods, and the deer fell.

     Great shot, my boy!Phil Niles said as he slapped Lester on the back.

He flinched. Lester didnt like to be touched.

     They walked over to the corpse and Lester looked down at his kill. He was surprised to see that it wasnt like how Jimmy had died. The fishs body looked just as plain to Lester as a sock lying on a dresser. But, this, this was different. The deer looked even more beautiful now than it did when it was alive. Voluptuous even. Lester looked into the deers eyes and thought he saw God.

     They brought back the deer to his grandfathers wood shed and he and his father dressed it. Cutting off the skin. Removing the organs and head. Disposing of the skeleton.

     Now,Phil said, breathing in cold air, finally done with the task. What do you want to do with it? Eat it or hang it?

     What do you mean?Lester asked.

     Lester, this is important,his father said. Some folks like to hunt for the sake of killing. That aint right. Whenever we hunt, we either eat it or stuff it. Okay?

     The next time he hunted, Lester asked if he could do it alone. Each time he killed a deer, the hair on the back of his neck would stand up. He believed in Jesus, but this was the closest thing he would ever come to having a religious experience. At the shed, he would skin the deer slowly, as if undressing a lover. Once all the organs and skin had been removed, he would take the skeleton off the hook and lay it on the floor. He would lay down next it, covering himself in blood. He would caress its rib cage and its teeth where its fur would have been. Soon it became mundane. He would bury all the skin, bones, and organs in the ground with the ease of brushing his teeth. He needed to improve his hobby.

     With a full tank of gas, Lester continued to drive to his destination. He had rolled up the windows now, the smell had passed. At a traffic light, he turned and saw a couple on the sidewalk kissing. First pecks and then, full lips and mouths together. First kisses were always the best.

     Teenage Lester would watch programs about serial killers with rapt attention. The kind of attention reserved for sports fans on game night. He would sit in his chair, bent over, eyes wide, gazing at the exposeof murderers. Charles Manson, Jeffery Dahmer, B.T.K, and of course, Ed Gein. Mr. Gein was Lesters favorite. His Elvis. A man who put so much pride and detail into his work. A man who wasnt ashamed to be who he was. That was the one thing that infuriated Lester the most about these programs. His idols were demeaned as monstersand sickos.As if the public would understand. Lester would make them understand. No college for him. Only total dedication to his work. He would make his heroes proud.

     His high-school girlfriend was named Gertrude Mayberry. A heavy-set girl with braces and huge glasses. Lester and her started dating because they bonded over a shared experience of being  bullied. He took her to the movies, to dinner, to prom. She was nice and quiet. He really did like her. Whenever he had a difficult time getting an erection with her, he would think about caving her head in. But he didnt go through with it. He couldnt. He needed more time to study his craft.

     Lester turned a corner and there it was. An alley between an old hotel and a restaurant. Both buildings were dead. He slowly drove into the alley, making sure that no one was around. He put the truck in park next to the dumpster and got out.

     Once Lester graduated, he had trouble figuring out what type of job he wanted. What job would allow him to gain money and pursue his passion? Then it clicked: pest control. It was perfect. He would be able to go into peoples houses with their consent and scout out his hunting grounds. See where every lock, every door, every alarm system was. He would be able to see if they had a cat or a dog, if they had kids or not, where their bedrooms were. He had found a solution to his problem.

     That next summer, he got a job with Bug Stompers Pest Control. Every day, he would gear up with his jump suit and gather up his equipment. He would greet his customers with a friendly smile. Then, at night, he would break into their houses. At first, it was hard to decide which tools he should use. There were so many choices. Gun? Knife? Rope? He quickly decided on the cleaver. He liked the weight of it.

     At first, Lester was sloppy with his killings. His arm would get sore from jerking the cleaver out of someones flesh. But, as they say, practice makes perfect. Soon Lester became quite the pro at his work. He wasnt a professional like Gein, Dahmer, or Gacy, were. But he got the job done and he was pleased with it. The newspapers called him the King Beach Cleaver.A nice enough  title. He would cut out the articles about him and place them in a scrapbook. He made sure to record every TV piece about his killings. He would repeat the name over and over again until the word just became noise. King Beach Cleaver, King Beach Cleaver, King Beach Cleaver, King Beach Cleaver.It was without a doubt the best three years of his life. That is, until They came.

     It started out as nightmares. Lester would wake up in a cold sweat after seeing visions of fangs and blood. The nightmares soon became voices in his head, whispering his name. Even before he was prescribed medication, Lester never heard voices. They would taunt him, tell him that They knew what he did and that They would tell everyone about his work. They were watching him.

     Finally, after a month of voices in his head and nightmares, They paid him a visit. Lester woke up one night and saw a shadow at the end of his bed. The Shadow was wearing a suit, it looked too real to be a dream. Lester quickly reached over to the lamp on the bedside table.

     Dont bother,the Shadow said.

     Lester clicked the lamp anyway. The room remained dark.

     Who are you?Lester asked, shaking.

     I am a representative of a very powerful organization that is headed by a very powerful man, Mr. Niles,the Shadow said. The voice was calm and business like.

     What do you want? Why do you keep following me?

     We would like to offer you a proposition, Mr. Niles.

     The Shadow explained that the organization that he worked for survived purely on the life force of humans. Blood to be more specific and that this organization had shared the same hobby with Lester for centuries. But, times had changed, they needed to make themselves more hidden. What Lester would provide for them would be the bodies that he would kill. He would place these bodies at a specific location to be picked up. They get to have their food, he got to do what he loved, a win-win scenario.

     Do I get paid for this?Lester asked.

     Ah, yes, Mr. Niles,the Shadow said. Not with money, but with dreams,

     Lesters vision was flooded. His room was now gone and he was in a field of bodies. All of the victims that he could ask for: hacked, mangled, and screaming. Their wails of pain were music to his ears. He looked up at the red sky and saw a portrait of himself along with his heroes. He was famous. He was among the best. He had made it.  He suddenly came back to the room.

     And. . . he started, trying not to get too excited. What if I refuse?Lester blinked and the Shadow was no longer at the foot of his bed, but at his side. The Shadows face was inches from his. In the darkness, Lester could make out his horrible bat-like features.

     That would be very unwise of you, Mr. Niles,the Shadow said, two white fangs glistened where his canines should have been. Very unwise of you indeed.

     Lester blinked and the Shadow was gone. Hed never cried that hard since he was a baby. He felt his underpants and they were wet.

     The next night, a note appeared under his front door. It read:

  

622 West Matheson Street.

     Alleyway.

     Drop off point.

     A week from tonight.

     Do not be late.

     The note was signed with an insignia, a bat’s snarling face.

     And so, Lester Niles had to change his act a bit. First, he would now inject his victims with a poison using a syringe. He hated how they would slowly stop breathing and become stiff; too minimalist for his taste. Carefully, he would place the body over a tarp and then he would use the cleaver. He didnt like using the tarp. He loved having the blood splatter on the bed, carpet, or wherever the person was when they were killed. He liked to show his work. Oh, well, he would think to himself. This would all pay off sooner or later.

    After he used the cleaver, he would place the limbs in garbage bags. He would do the arms first and save the torso, the hardest part, for last.

     Like his first time killing people, it took awhile for Lester to get used to it. Making sure that the bags didnt rip or leak. . Making sure that no one was around when he would drive into the alleyway.

    But tonight was different. Tonight, he was angry. He had been doing this for a full year now and he still hadnt received one piece of high-profile attention from the media save for the local news. Much less a thank you from this organization. “Fuck em,” he thought. He was tired of being their delivery boy. All he wanted to do was do what he wanted to achieve on his own terms. No one else’s. He didnt care if They were monsters that were only found in movies or books, They were full of shit. Tonight would be his last night. He slammed the dumpster door and got back into his car.

     As he turned the key into the ignition, a thought came into his mind. It was something that had come up every now and then after he would kill someone. It was about Jesus. Would He forgive him? Lester always knew that killing people would send him to Hell, but he just loved it far too much to care. He was brought up to believe that Jesus would always turn the other cheek. That no matter how bad you may have sinned, He would forgive and welcome you into His kingdom. Jesus would have to forgive Lester.

     Wouldn’t He?

***

Twenty-five year old David Frye is known as the best drug dealer in King Beach, California. But when a local gangster calls for his head on a plate, he is made an offer that he can’t refuse by an unlikely source. A mafia clan of vampires has chosen him to test run their new business venture: use the drug trading system as a way to distribute human blood amongst themselves. David accepts and is quickly swept away by the seductive world of the undead. That is until he begins to suspect that there might be something far more insidious at work than what he had originally bargained for. Encountering vampire history, a secret government agency of monster hunters, and more; David is confronted with the darkness within himself and is forced to come to terms with the horrors that he has unleashed. Both terrifying and thought provoking, BLOOD TRADE gives vampires their bite back.

I was very fortunate to be asked to be interviewed by the very kind and thoughtful young writer behind the blog, “1,000 Stories Behind The Eyes.” Check it out right here!
-A.B.