UPDATE 2

Short update, but with some meat. So, a lot of sketching, and therefore stuff that’s not nearly ready for posting anywhere. However, what this does mean is that when I do post stuff you’ll get the whole process, which can be fun. Another work in progress is an impromptu creative writing exercise that was really fun to do. It’s a collaboration, and an interactive one at that. Once I put it out here I’ll also be opening it up to further exploration – I’ll probably limit it to the first one or two people that want to try it out! That’s the update, and without further ado, the meat man himself, DOG MAN: 

dog man 4_5

Dog Man ©️ Dav Pilkey

UPDATE 1

All right, so if you’re paying closer attention than is really warranted, you’re probably thinking “what happened to one creative thing a day?” And to that my response is, well, I did say that not everything would be posted here! However, I do want to give a brief rundown of what I’ve been up to, both as a way to hold myself accountable and also review my efforts and hopefully keep myself on track. Who knows, maybe I’ll make it a weekly Sunday ritual! 

So let’s go day by day. The very first day of the year, promptly at midnight, I was working on a passion project of illustrating a favorite book of mine as a graphic novel. That said, I drew one panel and did a sketch of an object. Not a lotta progress but part of the reason behind that is holy CRAP is this book rife with interesting scenes to draw, and really evocative ones no less. It’s going to be a big, daunting project but I think it’ll also be a lot of fun. That said, I won’t be sharing much of anything from it as I’m working on it with the intention of getting it published, so at the very most there might be some teaser sketches. Get hype! 

January 2nd I finished a poem that saw its genesis while I as vacationing in Florida. Simple and fun, unlike all the sloggy stuff around the corner and in the future. 

On the second and third days I attempted to record a podcast. The first attempt was plagued with technical difficulties, which seems to be a them with any sort of recording I try to do (see next paragraph). I mean, I really should’ve thought a bit more about it, but the recording device was attached to the air vent in my car, and therefore registered every bump in the road. Both the music and my voice came through just fine, but the feedback is pretty horrendous. We’ll see if I can edit that to something that’s actually listenable, not to mention having to put my singing voice out there for everyone (or no one, if the podcast doesn’t take off in popularity) to hear. Recorded a second one but haven’t summoned up the courage to listen to it just yet. 

The fourth day I got some friends together and attempted to record a Let’s Play. I’ll be uploading that unfortunate attempt to YouTube at some point, it died pretty fast due to technical difficulties – the recording software or hardware resulted in a flickering picture throughout, not to mention the corresponding lag as well, making an already challenging game pretty much unplayable – though it would have died anyhow due to the game being VERY MEAN AND BAD and the person playing it giving up as a result. In summary, I underestimated how frustrating Megaman X6 is, and have since then apologized for subjecting my friend to it. 

January fifth was when I actually started writing this little record, so I’m going to count this as the “creative” thing for the day. Give me one cheat day at least, right? 

Day six:

5A70B9E4-7069-4E82-81F7-3153224C74A5-L0-001

(This lil’ guy is actually relevant to what I’m working on today, stay tuned for that!)

A Poem to Start the Year

Tired old dog, plodding along
Sing me a song, sing me a song

Songs are for cats, rainbows and rats
Toss up your hats, toss up your hats

The song starts like this, a wink and kiss
Signs hard to miss, signs hard to miss

Dance with a tree, lovely and free
What do you see? What do you see?

A bird with a brace and a miserable face
Satin and lace, satin and lace

For the sake of a friend, fortune to lend
How does it end? How does it end? 

With a hug and a wave, humor to save
Forever be brave, forever be brave

This silly, nonsensical creature sprung from the first two lines, though I had to drag out the rest of it, so “sprung” is perhaps too strong a word. It’s not perfect (there are several words that aren’t the exact fit) but I had fun making it. In any case, I plan on doing something creative every day of the year. Whether or not these creations will show up on this blog depends on their content and state of completion. Cheers to lofty goals!

In A Forest Frightful (Part 7)

All right, so it’s going to be quite a bit confusing now if you don’t start at the beginning, so here. ; )


I have to go back out there.

From the safety of the crevasse Eugene can see his pack, papers strewn about. He cannot see if the hooded man also lingers about, waiting to see if his quarry emerges from hiding. After a little under an hour with no signs of movement, he takes a deep breath and starts to worm his way outside. The mid-morning light lends even the skeletal white trees some semblance of warmth, and the mist has cleared. There are no signs of animal life or otherwise, not even a bird in the lightly-clouded sky, simply the unnatural quiet that has reigned since his entry into the forest. Poking his head out, the silence is reflected in his surroundings. Twisting until he is free from the stone coffer, he walks over to his scattered cargo and looks at it, hands on his hips, then glances back at the hole.

“Well, would have probably had to take it out to squeeze in there anyhow. No way I’m climbing over these peaks.” As if to echo this sentiment, there is the sound of rocks falling in the distance. Eugene raises an eyebrow. “Guess I shouldn’t really be surprised at this point.” He gathers up a stack of papers, stops for a moment, eyes angled upward, snaps his fingers, and grabs a match as well. It takes a bit longer, but once inside he lights the match and stares at its flame. It leans toward the back of the cave. The cave itself is littered with fragments of stone, slate walls smooth where not lined with diagonal ridges. He moves further down the passage, eyes upon the crumbling floor. The thin line of light from outside is now barely visible and he once again holds up the tiny matchflame, its stick now half the length it was. This time the flame leans toward Eugene, who sighs, extinguishing the match.

“Oops.” There is the sound boots upon rock and light floods the area.

“Hey, what the hell are you doing in here?”

Eugene starts and drops the stack of paper he was holding and turns to face the glaring man who has stepped out from a barely visible side passage. He holds up his now-empty hands, palms facing out. “My apologies, is this your cave?”

“It’s mine and my partner’s gold mine, I’ll have you know. You’d best vacate it if you know what’s good for ya.” It becomes apparent that the man is holding a sharply pointed pickaxe, the haft of which he smacks against his palm.

“I’m sorry, I had no idea. I’m simply trying to get to Fencepost and, well, I didn’t want to go over the mountains. Am I right in assuming that this is a tunnel that leads to the other side?”

“Yep, it leads right out… hey, how did you know that?” He points the less threatening top of the pickaxe at Eugene in what is obviously meant to be a more threatening gesture, seemingly unaware that a pickax is much less dangerous when the pointy bits aren’t aimed at you.

“Ah, well, I’ll show you.” He repeats his match experiment, and the flame bends obligingly away from the depths of the tunnel. “See? You can tell by the air that’s flowing and causing the flame to lean towards the opening of the cave. I read about this technique in one of my books.”

“Well how about that! All I know is breakin’ rocks, none o’ that science business. ’S long as you’re not after the gold I’ll show you the way through. But how did you get in here, anyhow?”

“Well, if you see over there,” he gestures with one hand toward the light coming from the entry crack, “your cave has an alternate entrance, though I wouldn’t recommend it.”

“Are you serious? Even if I’d know about it I wouldn’t have thought it were possible to fit through that pinhole, though you are a skinny one.”

“I was also a bit desperate at the time,” and he tells Robbie about the hooded man.

“No kiddin’? I thought the most dangerous things in these parts were the wolves, and they mostly keep to themselves, ‘specially if you keep a fire going.” Eugene raises an eyebrow but makes no comment. He follows as they walk through the much more hospitable, if a bit lengthier, main tunnel. “And you said you’re delivering papers to Fencepost? Once you pass through here you’ll be about halfway there.”

“Thank God. I’m well-tired of these parts. You’re sure nothing strange has happened to you and… was it Jim?”

“Only strange thing is the trees, but who knows. Probably some tropical breed that took over. That, and how little gold we’ve found, curse this mine. Our buddy John said he was sure this was a prime spot, though where he got that information I don’t know.”

They emerge into the afternoon sunlight, each squinting at the abrupt change from the dry darkness of the tunnel. Eugene gathers up what’s left, puts it into his now-deflated pack, and they head back into the tunnel. Once inside he stuffs the rest in as well, a mishmash of books, paper, and wrapped food, which goes on top.

“What’re they gonna do with all that stuff in Fencepost?”

“My father seems to think there are people there who have an interest in printing. I’m simply the errand boy.”

“Ha! Sound like you’re going to have about as much luck as me and Jim’ve had.”

Their progress is marked by a rapid decrease in the level of light. This time it is Robbie who starts rummaging in his satchel. The crusty, gritty hand emerges with two thick sticks, the end of each wrapped in fabric that stink of sulfur and lime. He holds one out to Eugene.

“Torch for ya,” Robbie says and passes it over, quickly lighting his own and using it to light the other. The light struggles against the confined space, throwing the pick-scarred walls in sharp relief. Further and further they go, descending on a gentle slope, the moisture and the walls and ceiling steadily expanding. Occasionally a drop hits one of their torches, which has much the same reaction a cat would have to water, hissing and spitting. After around twenty minutes of walking, the tunnel becomes a true cave, angular rock replaced by stalactites, tips gleaming in the unwelcome light. “This space here gives me hope. There’s still a lot of explorin’ to do. Gotta shine our light on those gold veins!”

“I wish you all the luck with your endeavor.” Myself, I’ll stick with less luck-based prospects, he thinks as he surveys the expansive subterranean cavity.

“Appreciate it. I’ll not bore you with that now, though. Let’s lean a bit to the right, that’s where the connecting tunnel should be.”

They both walk in that direction, hopping over the cracks of varying widths and depths that criss-cross the fragmented floor. Just as the light of the torches reaches the far side of the cavern there is a low moaning. Eugene halts and stands up straight and stiff, looking all around.

“What is that.”

“Could be some wind or an air pocket, pretty common,” but as Robbie says this the moaning becomes louder and more pronounced, and is now accompanied by trudging, heavy footfall. “Uh…” A liquid growling slowly fills up the room and then becomes a deep screech.

“I knew it! I damn well knew it! Every bloody time!” Eugene’s cries echo all around as he runs yelling and disappears into an opening on the far side of the cavern.

“Wait! Wait, ya bleedin’ idiot!” Robbie calls after him in vain. “That’s the wrong tunnel!” The screech cuts off and is replaced by coughing and then the sound of someone spitting and laughing. “Jim! Is that you?” A curly-haired man emerges from the shadows, a wide grin upon his stubbly face.

“Aye, ’twas me. That was me best howl yet, and you didn’t even react. But who was the flagpole walkin’ with ye’?”

“Oh ye’ know, just some traveler you’ve sentenced to a slow death with your silly spookery.”

“Hey, a man shouldn’t be that scare-able anyhow!”

“Be that as it may, we gotta go find him. Though I didn’t see that passage over there before. Did you know about it?” They walk over to where Eugene was last seen.

“No, never saw that one before. Maybe flagpole will lead us to luck.” They walk together over to the wall, hopping over the cracks and avoiding the numerous water-slicked patches.

“What in the…”

The smooth stone of the wall is unbroken and impassible, and there is no sign of Eugene.

( ©2018 Sean Dorsey )

The Sign of the Curse (Part 2)

←Part 1

I wander out into the night and move as though afraid I may fall apart at any moment. Mine is a life of measured movements, all calculated to maintain the guise of, if not sickness, then humanity. What I would give for privacy that I might fly across the desert, the wind of my passage flowing all around me. But the paradox of my existence is that I must remain near humans or… well, not die, for even without blood I live on, shriveled and helpless, as I learned when I first attempted to resist the hideous hunger. I was saved only by happenstance and desperate strength, the poor woman who walked over to examine my lifeless-looking form becoming my first victim. Though I attempt to feed upon the condemned or dying, I have murdered the healthy and innocent many times over out of necessity, and it is these times that have most commonly forced me into exodus in the past. I am haunted by their faces even now, but the memory of their blood serves to soften the anguish, invigorating as it was. As it is, I have been living with these lepers for almost a year now, and the nearby town sends a steady supply my way, and thus the relationship flourishes. And of course I must thank the Romans for their contributions to my well-being as well. We shall shortly see if they have left me a suitable offering in town.

This recent decrease of their numbers has me suspicious, however. Lepers are not typically a very ambulatory lot, venturing only so far as the town and then coming back to this “haven.” Ah, but here is Bidkar. It will be a sad day when I must drain his life away, entertaining companion that he has been.

“Hail, Bidkar! I thought we might cross paths.” The sores on his face contort as he smiles at my appearance.

“Ah, Nabal. Will you be joining me in my harvest tonight? You always seem to know which houses are ripe with the unobservant. Never have I met one with a greater sense for the task. Not to mention, I am now one less finger for the plucking of goods from the privileged’s bowers.” He waggles a stump where once was a crusty finger.

“I am sorry to hear that. I give thanks to God that my hands and feet are unaffected by our curse, but when it comes to other areas… well, let us cease talking about such things. I would be glad to point you in the right direction if you can point me in the right direction as well. Where is Lucas? Where is Maadai? And many others, as well. Have so many gone to be with the Lord as of late?”

“Some might say so. There is rumor of a healer traveling the land, though the rumors may dry up if the pharisees have any word in the matter. And especially,” he lowers his voice, “now that some are saying he is the Messiah.”

“Ha! Perhaps it is the same old man who told me to sleep in box of olive wood and dirt, much good as it has done me. He always was a persuasive one.”

“No, no, this man is young, thirty years or so. I may go look for him myself.”

“Do what you will.”

“I tell you, Nabal, it is not healthy to put faith in only iniquity and evil spirits.”

“I concede that God exists, but it is an evil god that created this world. I will change my beliefs when experience proves otherwise. As of yet I have seen only evil and experienced only hardship, so my beliefs stand. Now let us move on so that we might secure our welfare through evil.”

~

Once within the town, I experience the familiar and nearly overpowering sensation as all around me beat the hearts of the living, pumping blood, and with each pulse I am able to infer its owner’s state of mind. Many dreamers, a few nightmares, and the occasional late nighter, perhaps writing or working upon some urgent task, or maybe simply worthlessly worrying about life. I point out the house of a particularly deep sleeper and then lie, saying that I will look for another mark while Bidkar ransacks the first. As soon as I’m sure he’s completely preoccupied by his thievery I make haste toward the hill on the other side of town, and soon I can see the familiar shapes of the crosses, and my mouth begins to water. My hope is that some hearty criminal still clings to life while hanging upon the inhuman tool of torture that is the cross, and that the Roman soldiers were too lazy to finish the job as they are wont to do, much to the distress of the Jews. They seem to take a particular glee from causing those unfortunate people to inadvertently break their many laws, leaving the dead and the half-dead hanging upon their crosses until they rot. Again I wonder that it is I who am cursed and not those endlessly creative Romans. Perhaps God has not thought of a suitable punishment yet. As I move closer to the line of monuments to cruelty, I expand my senses. In the past, my culling of the condemned was caught by a lingering relative of the crucified, her shrieks tearing through the night and cutting short my consumption. If starvation is the worst sensation, then interruption of an imminent meal is second. Thankfully there is no sign of any such inconsiderate person this time.

And yes, it is faint, but the thud of life can be heard from the third in line of the crucifixions. Thank you, oh strong soul, for your perseverance. Know that the end of suffering, whether deserved or undeserved, is close at hand. As I approach, his shallow breathing rattles around me. I won’t waste time; he could die any second. The blood of the dead cools quickly, becoming unpalatable and, if left long enough, downright poisonous. Leaping on top the horizontal beam, my robe flaps about me, a blob of shadow perched upon this grisly mockery of a fruit-bearing tree, its bounty death instead of life. I lower my face toward his neck, the large vein easy to find thanks to emaciation and the strain of living after such a marathon of torture. And then he speaks.

“Our time is at hand, brother.”

I am frozen where I crouch. The voice that comes from the bowed head is at once hoarse and hollow, as though it echoes within the body from which it came. And it is altogether much too strong to have come from a dying man. I open my mouth to speak, but for once I have no words, and the anticipatory saliva has gone the way of the desert. It is all I can do to keep from falling to the ground.

“Why are you silent? Perhaps you have not heard? Yahweh, curse the name, has foolishly taken a human form, and even now our lord sets in motion the means to kill him. Creation will be ours, and eternal night, and you shall not be reduced to feeding upon dregs such as this nearly-dead slave. I will leave you now to your meal, but take hope – our time is at hand.” The voice stops but the mouth still hangs open, and a rivulet of blood leaks from the corner. And then comes the moaning noise, and this finally frees me from my stupefaction: the man is screaming. This man, who has gone through torture, crucifixion, and the slow death that follows, is screaming. I plunge my fangs into his neck and drain the blood from him until the noise stops, but still I can hear it.


( ©2018 Sean Dorsey )

Forest Frightful (Part 6)

What’s that? You don’t remember this series? I don’t blame you, it’s been awhile since I updated it. You should go back to part 1 so you can understand what’s going on here!


 

As the-wolf-that-is-Eugene retreats, memories rush unbidden through his head, some of his experiences as a member of the pack and some from his carefree days as a layabout in his hometown. In the forefront of these memories are images of his younger siblings as they all made something of themselves, pretending that he couldn’t see the disapproving gaze of his father, and then the final moment when he was sent away, the entire reason I’m now being chased by an ax maniac, he thinks. Let us go together with him back to that fortuitous day and see what set poor Eugene upon this path.

The sound of the stamping machine can be heard from the paper mill, pressing the fibers repeatedly into flat sheaves for binding. Eugene sits outside, freshly printed book flat on his lap and head leaning back against a tree trunk, eyes closed and mouth parted. A careful observer could connect the sounds coming from within the mill with the rotating of the wheel on the side of the weathered wood building, and then they would become curious about the other noise coming from the mill, an unpredictable tapping that starts, stops, starts. And then a harsher noise, a cracking, and there comes shrieks of pain from the mill punctuated by quick silences as the screamer takes breaths. Eugene starts awake but does not get up immediately, first looking to either side with sleep-swollen eyes and then scrambling to his feet, the book falling from his lap to the grass below.
Within the mill, two of his brothers are pulling a young boy away from the still stamping machine, a thin trail of blood traced across the floor as they retreat. The boy is panting and crying. A fifth person enters behind the group as they struggle with the writhing boy.
“What in the world happened? Eugene? What’s going on here?”

Eugene turns back to face the man, his eyes wide and mouth hanging open. His eyes flicker to the red line that now extends out through the doorway.

“You’d better come with me.”

Eugene and his father are seated in a room, windows covered, the afternoon light squeezing itself through the gaps around the blinds as if curious about what’s happening within. The only furniture is a table and two chairs, and few odds and ends lay scattered about the floor. Eugene’s father stares across the table at him, arms folded and mouth set in a grimace. He is the first to speak.
“So? How did this happen?”
“I… I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know? You were supposed to be watching him! My God, can you not do the simplest of tasks?”
“He was playing and I was reading and… I must have fallen asleep.”
“Your nephew is going to lose two fingers because you didn’t have the patience or care to watch over him. You need to get out of here – your sister truly may kill you.” He glares at Eugene and Eugene glares at the ground. His father looks away. “Perhaps leaving is a good idea. Take this delivery to Fencepost. That’ll give us some time for Layla’s anger to disperse.” Eugene finally looks up.
“What? That’s… that’s miles and miles away! Not to mention they have no use–”
“That’s the entire damn point. And I’ll have you know I have reliable word that there is a burgeoning interest in printing there. And it was not a request. You are going to take responsibility for something. Just because you don’t usually see the consequences of your inaction doesn’t mean they don’t exist, Eugene. This is not the first time you’ve created trouble by doing nothing. I’ve turned a blind eye to your laziness for long enough. I’ll put the delivery together for you… and if you can’t even do this simple thing, don’t expect a prodigal’s welcome upon your return.”

Eugene skids to a halt, his eyes closed and lips curled up in a snarl. He turns back to the scuffle, still visible in the distance as a blur of grey-blue shapes that swarm at the feet of the hooded man. I only seem to be able to run away, but perhaps my flight can at least be of use to someone, he thinks as he sprints toward the scuffle.
The wolves are not losing the battle, but neither are they winning. They jump and snap but the whirling axe keeps them at bay, its edge flashing through the night air, seemingly in all directions at once. Just as soon as one of them lunges for the man he strikes and they twist out of the way in midair. Nevertheless, the blood that drips upon the grass below is all lupine, and the hooded man shows no signs of tiring; instead, he stomps the ground with quick steps in a manic show of glee. And then a howling breaks the fighters’ concentration and they turn as one to look at Eugene, his head thrown back. Wolf eyes meet human and Eugene growls. The hooded man immediately moves toward Eugene, kicking one of the real wolves out of the way. They are all panting and wobble upon their feet, and the look they give to Eugene is clearly one of gratitude to be able to take a break from combat. He turns tail and starts running again, the hooded man in pursuit. This situation is becoming far too familiar, he thinks to himself. And it was a gamble that he would even respond to my taunt but… why is this maniac so fixated upon me?
As far as the chase is concerned, though, the tables have definitely turned. The hooded man can hardly keep up with the now four-legged Eugene, whose easy stride propels him between the trees as though he were a gust of wind rather than a physical being. In fact, it is so easy that Eugene can stop and look back at his pursuer, ears pricked and not even panting. Contrasting this, the hooded man’s bare chest is heaving and mouth wheezing, the fabric fluttering over the concealed maw. Each time the wolf looks back at him he waves the axe through the air, the strokes visibly slower than when he was fighting the pack. Just a bit further and I’ll leave this devil far behind. As Eugene thinks this, he notices that the light is changing in the forest, becoming brighter by small degrees, shining refraction through the early morning mist. Up ahead, through the obscurant water vapor loom grey shapes, and Eugene’s heart drops. What in the world are those? But as he comes nearer the shapes sharpen and become the low slopes of what appears to be a mountain range. Sun breaks over the peaks, the bright, focused rays shining into his eyes, and the leafless trees become more sparse the closer they get to the stony spires, the grassy ground slowing morphing to rubble. And then he is tumbling head over heels, papers flying from his pack. He sits up, dirt on his elbows and streaked across his legs. When he looks back this time, the hooded man has stopped, but only for a moment before dashing at him, the sight of the pack-laden human figure apparently invigorating. Eugene scrambles to his feet and runs, his lungs burning almost immediately. There is a dark spot at the base of the mountains, a tiny sliver that could just be shadow, but there is no other choice at this point, no turning back and no climbing the steep slopes, so he dashes for it, rewarded when he sees it is a narrow crevasse curving under the looming mass of stone. The sliver of darkness appears almost impassible but Eugene shrugs off his pack and dives for it, the brim of his hat bending as he passes through the gap, sucking in his stomach and turning his head sideways. Even so, the jagged rock drags at the fabric of his clothes. There is a rush of air that he feels on his ankles, and then the ringing sound of metal chipping rock, but the tall, skinny Eugene has safely wormed his way into the hole and under the mountain, crawling on his stomach and then on hands and knees as the space begins to gradually grow larger and more comfortable, but darker. He does not see the arm that reaches in after him, grasping hand grabbing at void and then smacking the ground before retracting back into the open air. Part 7 →

( ©2018 Sean Dorsey )