Beneath the Surface: An Abandoned Story Chapter 3

III

The wind nearly blew the old Cadillac off of the road. It pushed at the car as Alex struggled to keep it on the road. This is insane… I shouldn’t be out driving like this.

He looked over to see Tersa shivering and rubbing her hands together. He immediately switched on the heat and adjusted it for her, “Put your hands under the vent.”

“Thanks.”

“No problem.”

Alex continued up the road until he came upon something that he had not expected. On the opposite side of the road, sat a silver 1978 Oldsmobile Starfire Firenza. Alex scoffed as he looked at it, “Jeez, you drive that?”

“Yes, it’s my father’s. I was borrowing it until mine got out of the shop.”

“Why would your father be driving that?” Alex asked.

Tersa looked at him sheepishly as she responded, “He’s had it since he met my mom. He’s kept it up and refuses to trade it in. None of us have the heart to tell him that it’s a piece of junk.”

“Maybe he’ll listen now.”

“Maybe…”

Alex pulled up behind the old car and got out. With nary a thought to the rain pouring down on him, he opened the driver’s side door to the old Firenza and popped the hood. The car responded with a small clanking sound.

Alex pulled the hood up and looked at the engine. To his surprise, it was actually in decent shape and very clean. No doubt that Tersa’s father thought it was a classic.

Tersa came up next to him as he inspected the engine, “It has no power, could it be the battery?”

“Possibly, let me see…”

“Be careful.”

Alex pushed at the battery slightly to take a look at the wires hooked up to it. He shook his head, “I don’t see how… rain water shouldn’t affect it. Do you have jumper cables?”

“No.”

Alex scratched his head, “Unfortunately neither do I.”

The look of worry returned to Tersa’s face, “What am I going to do now? I can’t call for help, I can’t get home…”

Alex really just wanted to get back in doors, “All right, let’s get back to the house. We’ll figure out what to do from there.”

“Are you sure you’re okay with that? I mean clearly you don’t remember me…”

“I’m sure.” Alex replied, once again perplexed by her word choice. “Its either that or you can wait out here in the rain and the dark.”

“Okay, you’ve got a point.”

Tersa slid back into Alex’s car and continued rubbing her hands. Alex got back behind the wheel and put the car in drive. He kept looking over at Tersa to see if her expression had changed. She had calmed down a little, but she still seemed uneasy.

The ride back was completely silent and somewhat awkward. Alex wanted to ask her how she knew him, but didn’t think it was the right moment. He was finally granted some relief when they pulled into the driveway and slid the car into the narrow garage.

The lights went out and they were once again embraced by total darkness. Alex got out first and grabbed the candles as Tersa’s door opened. He beckoned to her to head for the house while he closed up the garage.

Once everything was secure, Alex joined her at the front stoop and opened the door, “All right, go on in.”

Tersa stepped through the door into the main foyer between the living and basement levels of the house. She stood shivering for a moment as she stripped off her raincoat. Alex pulled off his soaked shirt, leaving him in a white undershirt that was not much better off.

Even with a raincoat on, Tersa had been drenched to the bone. Her clothes hugged her figure. She was a healthy, somewhat athletic build. Her legs were well toned and she clearly took care of herself.

Her hair was matted to her head, but he now had a clearer view of her face. Her demeanor was innocent albeit mystical and her brow curled in an almost sinister way. She returned his gaze, waiting for instruction.

Alex beckoned her up the stairs to the main sitting area where the fireplace was. The fire was still vibrantly burning and enenating enough heat to fill the house. A gentle orange glow lit up the room.

Tersa knelt in front of the flame and stretched out her hands. Though she was slightly warming up, she was still shaking. Alex noticed and turned to his room, “Wait here.”

Tersa nodded as he disappeared down the dark hall and returned with a heavy brown robe, “Here, you may want to change out of those wet clothes.”

Tersa eyed him suspiciously. He could have sworn that, for a moment, Tersa’s eyes were glowing, but he dismissed it as the effect of the fire as she spoke, “You know, my father will kick your ass if he finds out.”

“Would he rather you got sick?”

“He’d probably view that as a convenient excuse.”

“Good lord…”

Tersa smiled as she took the robe from him and went into the nearby bathroom to change. It was the first time that he had seen her smile, at least that he remembered. He was now certain that he’d seen her before.

The moment she was out of sight, the hair stood up on the back of Alex’s neck. He’d sworn that he’d heard a voice on the other side of the wall to his house, “We’re near…we’re coming… we’re close…”

Could it have been the wind slamming against the house? Possibly, but then why was he so spooked? He hadn’t felt this way since… since that horrible day in Rome. He’d never forget it, the day that he lost his faith and left the seminary.

Be silent… be silent… come on, Alex, calm your nerves!

Movement out of the corner of Alex’s eye made him jump and he quickly turned in its direction. His eyes scanned the darkness as a bare leg from the knee down stepped into view. It was only Tersa.

Alex sighed as he let down his defenses and quieted his nerves. She moved closer to the fire and sat down in front of it to warm up, “I left the clothes in your bathtub. I didn’t know where else to put them.”

“It’s fine.”

“I really appreciate you letting me dry off.”

“Don’t mention it… especially to your father.”

They both chuckled as the tension left the room. Alex looked at her quizzically as she struggled to dry her hair, “How do you know me? Who are you?”

Tersa stopped fiddling with her hair and looked down at the ground. A saddened expression came over her face, “You really don’t remember me do you?”

“I… I’m sorry, I don’t.”

Tersa shrugged, “It’s okay, I shouldn’t have expected any better.”

Alex watched her as she slowly released a breath and spoke, “I was two years behind you at Windsted High School. We were both invited to the same party, Henry McCallister’s, you remember?”

“How could I not…?”

“Well we were both having a good time, though that was the first time that I ever really noticed you. Then someone brought a whole case of booze… beer and a lot of stronger stuff.”

Alex nodded, “Yeah I remember. The party got out of control. Henry’s house was trashed.”

“Everyone went nuts… except you.”

“I did what I had to.”

Tersa looked up into Alex’s eyes, “You did more than that. You were the adult at this party and tried to get as many people home safly as you could. You… you took me and my friend’s home. No matter how irrational and out of control any of us were, you never raised your voice or got angry.”

Alex thought back to the party, “Yeah… for all the good it did me. After the third trip, the police were called. I spent the night in jail until my mother was called to get me.”

Tersa frowned, “I know, my father was the arresting officer. When I found out what happened, I begged and pleaded with him not to file charges against you.”

“So that explains why I got a call the next day being told that I was off the hook.”

“That’s right.” Tersa replied. “I didn’t want you punished for being a good guy. I asked my father not to say anything and just make it go away. It took some work, but he did.”

Alex couldn’t be sure if it was the flame reflecting on her cheeks, but it almost looked like she was blushing, “I guess I kind of crushed on you after that, but you were always Mr. Popular. It was like you had a peremeter of friends around you to keep away people like me.”

“It wasn’t like that.”

“No, I know, but that’s how it felt. I actually told some of my friends that I wanted to ask you to the Sophmore Semi, but my friends said that I was crazy. They said you would just laugh at me.”

“I wouldn’t have laughed.”

Tersa shook her head, “No, I didn’t think you would either, but back then I just didn’t have the confidence to approach you. Then you began talking about being a priest… so I pretty much gave up.”

Alex shrugged, “Well I never became a priest.”

“Yeah I know… I read your book.”

“Which one?”

“All of them actually.”

“And?”

Tersa frowned, “I don’t know, it seemed like you were damaged. The things that happened to your main characters were very mean spirited and the endings always gave me the feeling of hopelessness. It’s like you lost your soul.”

Alex smiled faintly, “You got all that from my books?”

“Can I ask you a question, now that I’ve answered yours?”

“Sure.”

“What happened to you in Rome?”

“It’s a long story…”

“I’m not going anywhere anytime soon by the looks of things.”

Alex rubbed his forehead and reached into his pocket for a cigarette. He just realized that it had been at least an hour since he’d had one. He lit the end and took a long drag.

Tersa shook her head, “Ugly habit, did what happened cause this too?”

“Pretty much.”

“So tell me.”

Alex sighed, “Well I guess I’ve got to tell someone… I saw hell.”

“I guessed that.”

“No I mean I actually saw hell.”

Tersa sat quietly as Alex finally unloaded his story, “A young woman came to the Vatican. Her name was Liliana… she was speaking in tounges and lashing out at everyone. The doctors said that she had some form of schizophrenia and narcolepsy. It wasn’t.”

“What was it?”

The light flickered off of Alex’s face as he spoke, giving him a sinister look, “Adramelech… the ancient Assyrian God.”

Another faint whisper caused both of them to look towards the window. Their eyes nervously scanned the window for a few moments until they were convinced that nothing was there. Tersa looked back into the flames, “What happened?”

“At first, nothing. I was called in because I was an exorcist in training and the church thought that a little field experience would help. We stood over her chanting the words of the Roman Ritual over and over again. As she struggled against her restrains.”

Tersa noticed the pain in his eyes as he spoke, “But then… I’ll never forget it… her eyes began to glow a disgusting yellow, her face distorted into something that wasn’t even human, and her smile… that will be with me forever. Adramelech showed us his true power. He broke free and attacked the exorcist. He was so quick… we couldn’t interfere in time. That creature… it killed Father Gonzaga.”

“My God…”

Alex shook his head, “God wasn’t with us in that room. It fell to me to take over… I said the chants over and over. I helped restrain her as I doused her in Holy Water over and over. She was just a child… she didn’t deserve that.”

Tersa touched his hand, “What happened?”

“I saw hell in her eyes and couldn’t continue. The exorcism was called off the moment another priest arrived. She went back into the care of her doctors.”

Tears filled Alex’s eyes, “She died two days later of internal hemorrhaging. That beast tore her apart from the inside.”

The fire flickered through Tersa’s eyes. She didn’t seem bothered at all by the story, “It didn’t end there, did it?”

“No.”

“Tell me.”

“Why do you care so much?”

“I don’t.”

“Bull.”

“Maybe because you look like you really needed to let this out?”

Alex sighed. She was right and he knew it, “Fair enough, no it didn’t end there. It’s bad enough that the doctors tried to accuse the church of wrongdoing, but since then… I’ve been having nightmares. Dark ones like nothing I’ve ever seen… and sometimes… I’m not sleeping when they happen.”

“Hallucinations?”

“Yeah.”

Tersa turned so that she was no longer facing the flames anymore, “I wish that I could say something to help, but to be honest, I know what you’re talking about.”

“You do, how?”

“I’ve had nightmares since I was a child.”

“Bad?”

“No, not really, they’ve gotten worse as I’ve gotten older, but they’re manageable.”

“What do you think they mean?”

Tersa shook her head, “I don’t know. My mother used to say it was because of when she found out that she was pregnant with me.”

“I don’t get it…”

Tersa turned back toward the flame, “Niether do I. She wouldn’t talk about it. She just said to try to ignore them.”

“Your mother sounds like a somewhat… interesting character.”

Tersa smiled, “Weird you mean.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Well you’d be right if you did. How do you think I ended up with the name Tersa? She thought that if she gave me a name like Heather or Julie, I would just blend in and never be anything special.”

A small smirk appeared at the edge of Tersa’s lips as she looked at Alex, “A lot of good it did me.”

Alex sat back and yawned, “It’s getting late… listen… since I’m in town for a few days. Maybe once you get home and get cleaned up, we can try to solve your mystery?”

“Really?”

“Sure… maybe it’ll help make the nightmares go away.”

Tersa nodded, “I’d like that.”

“Good.” Alex replied as they stood up. “Come on, I’ll show you to the spare room.”

Tersa stood up and followed Alex down the hall, “You know that I’m only agreeing to this because I’m completely stranded right?”

“Yes.”

“Just so we’re clear. I don’t go around sleeping at strange guys houses.”

“Noted.”

“Good. Hopefully this storm will be cleared up in the morning.”

Alex turned and headed to his room to curl up and go to sleep when a hand touched his shoulder. He turned back to look at Tersa. A sympathetic look appeared in her eyes, “I was really sorry to hear about your mother’s passing. My mother used to have lunch with her all the time.”

“Thanks.”

“Have a good night.”

Beneath the Surface: An Abandoned Story, Chapter 2

II

 

It took them over an hour to get out of Boston. Alex watched as the urban developement and large buildings gave way to trees and folliage. It was late and the sun was slowly disappearing behind the trees.

By the time they arrived in Windsted, the clouds had begun rolling in. Out in the distance, Alex could see momentary flashes of light, “Storm coming?”

Stephen nodded, “Yeah, it’s supposed to be a bad one too. It’s gonna be huge electrical storm that we haven’t seen around here in almost 25 years according to the weather reports.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“Are you sure you want to stay at your old house?” Stephen asked. “You know I’ve got an extra room…”

“I’ll be fine.”

Stephen shrugged, “Well if you’re sure.”

“I’m sure.”

“Okay.”

Stephen’s car pulled into the driveway Alex got out and looked at his old home. The two-story raised ranch was just as he remembered it. It had the same dark brown siding with black shutters as it did when he was last there.

He stared at if for a minute before closing the door. Stephen got out of the drivers seat and stood by his car for a moment, “I would stay and make sure you’re settled, but the storm is due to hit at any moment.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“All right, I’ll call you tomorrow to check in.”

“I’ll be here.”

Stephen nodded, “All right, take it easy and be careful tonight.”

Alex didn’t say another word as Stephen got into his car and drove away. Another flash of lightning erupted in the distance, followed by a loud boom. He knew that it was time to get inside. As he reached the front door, he paused. Did he really want to go in?

For Alex, it was like returning to the scene of a crime he’d committed. He hadn’t been home in a long time. Was he really ready for this? The thought had not crossed his mind up until now.

He was about to lower his hand from the door when a sudden crack of thunder immediately prompted him to quickly unlock the door and push it open. Whatever ghosts of the past waited for him inside, they were no doubt less threatening than the storm coming his way.

Alex pushed the door open and proceeded up the polished wood stairs as the storm hit. From the living room, he could hear the rain begin to pound the ceiling. The lightning sounded like it was right over him.

Alex ignored what was going on outside and flopped down in his father’s lazy boy chair in the living room. He grabbed the remote and tried to find something on the TV. As though mocking him, the moment he fell on Fox 25 News, a thundering boom outside drew all of the power from the house. You’ve got to be kidding me…

He found himself in complete darkness. The storm had completely blocked out the sunset and the night sky had taken over prematurely. The darkness added an almost spooky feeling to the house, as though it was an invitation for all things evil to strike.

Unable to see very far, Alex flicked on his phone and used the screen as a light until he found his way to the family sitting room and the fireplace. His mother had always kept a stack of wood nearby just in case. He thanked his lucky stars for that as he found a matchbox on the table next to it.

Within moments, the house was once again illuminated by the fireplace. Alex went to work trying to find some other candles that he could use to brighten the rest of the house. His mother usually kept them in the kitchen, so that was the first place he went to look.

To his surprise, the drawers were empty. There was no sign of any candles or supplies. I guess mom didn’t have time to restock.

Then he remembered that his father used to keep a small stash of supplies in the garage. He quickly walked back down the front stairs that led to the main foyer. He grabbed an umbrella out of the nearby can and opened the door.

Outside was pure insanity. Rain was coming down in massive drops. Thunder and lightning streaked across the skies and the wind made using his umbrella not only pointless, but impossible.

Alex folded it back up and threw it inside before running the the garage on the side of the house. He pushed up the black door and looked inside for any candles. Luck was with him that night as a box of candles sat right next to his father’s old Cadillac.

Alex was about to take the box inside when he heard what sounded like footsteps in a massive puddle. He looked out into the darkness to see what was going on, but there was no one there. The sound of footsteps got louder as they neared the house.

The hair stood up on the back of Alex’s neck. Who or what could be coming towards him? He knew that his mother had held onto his father’s old rifle collection, but he didn’t have time to run into the house and grab one. Instead, he looked through the garage for a flashlight.

When he didn’t find one, Alex quickly opened the door to his father’s old Cadillac Eldorado went for the switch to turn on the headlights.  Alex was once again in luck as the lights illuminated the entire driveway and the street. He then stood up and stepped forward out of the garage.

A dark figure stood in front of him. It was someone in a black raincoat walking along the Pleasant Hill Road. The figure looked up at Alex, startled by the intense light now shining on it.

Alex’s eyes narrowed as he took another few steps forward, “Excuse me, are you all right, do you need help?”

As it took a few more steps, the figure became clearer. It was a woman, around 23 or 24 years old. Her skin was very pale and looked almost like porcelyn, which was starkly contrasted by her deep brown eyes and straight black hair that just barely reached her collarbone, very pretty.

The look on her face was one of worry as she looked up at Alex, “My car broke down about ten minutes back up the road.”

She pointed down the the road to the right of the house. Alex shook his head, “You don’t have a cell phone?”

She shook her head, “I can’t get any signal… could I use yours?”

Alex pulled his out of his pocket. As he expected, there was a red slash over where the bars of reception should be, “No good, I don’t have any either. It must be the storm.”

He looked back at the house, “The power is completely out inside, so the phone in there is out as well.”

“Then I’m stuck. All I could do is walk and hope to get to the station up the road before the storm got too bad. I don’t know what to do, Alex.”

Alex’s lips twisted. How did this girl know who he was? He didn’t recognize her at all. He was about to respond when a massive snap broke the silence.

The two looked over to see a large tree come crashing down in the middle of the road. It was so massive that it covered both sides of the road. The top rested across the street in the woods, making getting around it treacherous.

Alex didn’t want to drive, but he couldn’t leave this girl stranded, “All right, come on. Let’s go take a look at your car.”

“You can fix a car?”

“I know a few tricks.”

He beckoned her into the garage and into the Eldorado. If he knew his mother, the keys for the car would be under the visor. He slid into the driver seat and pulled it down to see.

A small set of key jingled as they fell onto his lap. The young woman hesitantly got into the car next to him, “I really appreciate this.”

“No problem, miss…”

“Tersa, Tersa McConnel.”

Alex nodded. He was about to introduce himself when he remembered that she already knew his name. He started the car and pulled out of the garage.

Beneath the Surface: Another Abandoned Work, Chapter 1

Hello all, the following is a story that I’ve spent some time working on, but eventually abandoned. I’ll post a chapter online every couple of days. It is unedited, rough draft form, and incomplete, so read at your own risk. You’ll have to come up with your own ending… sorry!

I

 

Today was like any other for Alex Hendrickson as he exited his flight. The chaos of Boston’s Logan airport was an old, but familiar sight. People were running around trying to either get to, or leave their flights, at least ten different languages were being spoken, and heartfelt hellos and farewells were being exchanged.

It was at this point when Alex stepped through the gate that his mother would usually cause as scene. He remembered that she would always come running to him, throw her arms around him and completely embarrass him as mothers do. He remembered always tensing up, hoping somehow that his mother wouldn’t be there to pick him up, that she would be at home making a celebratory meal for him or something.

Alex now regretted feeling that way as he now had his wish. His mother had been in a fatal car accident and did not even make it to the hospital. As he stepped away from the terminal, raggedy suitcase in hand, he was greeted by his uncle Stephen, “How are you boy?”

Alex looked at him with a complete lack of enthusiasm and brushed his brown hair back, “Been better, Uncle Steve.”

Stephen nodded, “I don’t blame you. I know how close you were to your mother.”

“Yeah,” Alex replied, “after Dad died, it was pretty much just me and her… well and also you.”

Stephen laughed, “Yeah when I was around.”

At that moment, he noticed that Alex’s hands were shaking, “You all right boy?”

Alex nodded, “I just really need a smoke. I’ve been stuck on that plane for hours and now I just really need to light up.”

Stephen took Alex’s suitcase and guided him out of Terminal A. As they reached the baggage claim, Stephen pointed to the conveyer belt, “You bring anything else?”

Alex shook his head, “No.”

“Traveling a little light aren’t we?”

“I’m not staying long…”

As they stepped outside a cool blast of autumn air caressed Alex’s face. Stephen shook his head as Alex reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of Marlboro. He was about to light up when his eyes caught sight of an elderly nun collecting donations. His eyes drifted from the nun to the crucifix she had on the table.

With the unlit cigarette hanging from his mouth, he walked over and took a closer look. To his horror, it was not an image of the Son of God that was hanging by its hands and feet, but a woman about his age. Her face bore a look of absolute terror.

He was about to turn away when the small face began to move. Alex stood petrified as he looked down on the statue with his hands shaking. The woman’s cheeks were soaked with both tears and blood as she looked pleadingly at him and spoke softly, “Why?”

Alex gasped and pulled away. A hand appeared on his shoulder, “Boy, you okay?”

Alex was startled by his uncle’s hand and looked up, “What?”

“Are you okay?” He repeated.

Alex looked at him oddly, “You didn’t… didn’t you see that?”

“See what?” Stephen asked.

Alex looked at the crucifix again. It was just like any other. The woman was gone, replaced by the typical image of the lord and savior. Had it been a hallucination? How could it be? Nicotine withdrawals don’t cause hallucinations. He had also been drinking more since he discovered that his mother had died, but he was not an alcoholic. Still, he had not gotten a full night’s sleep in a while, perhaps that was the answer.

The nun looked at Alex with concern, “Are you all right, child? You look ill.”

Alex straightened up, “Yeah, I just haven’t been sleeping well recently.”

He reached into the pocket of his black leather jacket and fished out a crumpled $20 bill. After straightening it out, he handed the money to the nun, “Here, no doubt you’ll make better use of this than I will.”

The nun smiled and nodded, “Bless you child.”

Alex turned away without another word and lit up the cigarette as Stephen guided him away. Alex closed his eyes and took a long drag into his lungs of the cigarette. Smoke shot out of his nose as his shaking subsided.

Stephen’s car was an old Lincoln town car. It was one of the few luxuries that he had ever been able to afford and it took him years to build up enough money. The car was almost twelve years old by this point, but it was well maintained and probably ran better than many cars half its age.

As Alex savored his first cigarette in hours, Stephen rolled down his window and started the car, “Your mother wouldn’t like that, you know?”

“There are a lot of things I’ve done that she wouldn’t like.”

“Like leaving the seminary?”

“Exactly.”

Stephen shook his head, “Can I ask you something?”

Alex knew what the question was going to be and dreaded it. “Would it matter if I said no?” Alex asked, already fully aware of the answer.

“Not really.”

Alex sighed, “What’s on your mind?”

Stephen kept his eyes focused on the road as he pulled out of the parking garage, “What the hell happened to you in Rome two years ago?”

“It’s none of your concern.” Alex replied.

“I think it is, you haven’t been home since.”

“I’ve been busy.”

“Have you, or have you been hiding?”

Alex glared at his uncle, “It’s personal and I don’t want to talk about it. You’re better off not knowing.”

“All right, if you’re sure.” Stephen replied.

Alex knew that he owed his family some explanation. Becoming a man of the cloth was something that he had dreamed about since he was young. More than anything, he wanted to be one of those people who fought for God against Lucifer. An exorcist, yes he thought that was the perfect job for himself.

Alex silently chuckled as he remembered how naive he was. As he pulled more tobacco into his lungs, he remembered the first time he stood before the Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum in Rome. He was so proud to be included in this program before even becoming a priest. It was rare, but willing exorcists were becoming sparce. So the Church made an exception.

Stephen looked at him sympathetically, “That bad huh?”

“If I’d known, I never would have been there.”

“But look at all you’ve accomplished since.”

Alex shook his head, “What have I accomplished exactly? I’ve written three fictional stories dealing with the psycology behind excorcisms and what standards are taken into consideration.”

“Best sellers, all three of them.”

“So what?”

“Well, they’ve earned you a comfortable lifestyle.”

“And nothing else.”

Character Interview: General Xaphan.

: Welcome back to another episode of Character Interviews. Today, we are honored to have a very prestigious guest in our midst. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s give a warm welcome to General Xaphan.

Xaphan: …

: So General, I know you’re a busy woman, and I appreciate you being here with us today. How are you?

Xaphan: Fine.

: That’s… great… so tell us, what army are you the general of?

Xaphan: That depends on whom you ask. At one time, I was a strategist in the Most High’s army. I was junior only to Saint Michael himself. However, I defected and became the commander of Lucifer’s forces.

: So you became St. Michael’s counterpart?

Xaphan: I suppose you could say that.

: Why did you defect?

Xaphan: Why, isn’t it obvious? Come now, even a feeble-minded mortal should be able to plainly see why!

: Um…?

Xaphan: (Sighs) Your planet, your freedom… it should have been ours. Angels toiled for years to help our master create his vision. We worked, we sacrificed and we struggled. What was our reward for all that? To become subservient to you, a mortal child race.

: Wow… that must have been hard.

Xaphan: It was impossible. That was one final insult that most of us could not suffer. So we rose up. I personally raised the master’s temple and watched it burn to the ground. I would have done a lot more if I’d had the chance.

: I understand you gave the temple inhabitants forewarning, why?

Xaphan: The spilling of angel blood is a terrible waste… even if they were enemies. There is no honor in slaughtering non-combatants. Unfortunately, because of this, Lucifer thought that the attack on the temple was far too bold and ordered us to retreat instead of forcing the master’s remaining forces out.

: I take it that didn’t sit well with you?

Xaphan: I was created for war. Bread to be able to fight if ever needed, Lucifer was not. He was far too cautious. Unfortunately, that decision prolonged the war. We fought for countless eons. So many lives lost…

: I’m sorry to hear that. So what happened next?

Xaphan: The war went on seemingly without end until a small band slipped behind our lines and captured Lucifer. I tried to keep our forces unified, but they panicked when they saw Lucifer in chains and immediately moved on the Celestial Temple once more. I couldn’t stop them… This time, Saint Michael was ready for them. Our army was decimated and scattered to the winds.

: Sounds like the war was over for you.

Xaphan: It was over for Lucifer, but I was not done fighting. Our forced broke off into smaller regiments and became resistance cells, but we were betrayed and hunted down one by one.

: So that’s when you got captured?

Xaphan: Yes… My cell’s position was betrayed and we were surrounded. I ordered my people to stand down and surrendered in return for their lives being spared.

: Well that’s certainly admirable. Especially for a demon…

Xaphan: Wait, what did you just call me? Demon!? I am no demon! How dare you compare me to those foul creatures! Regardless of what side I’m on, I am, as, and forever will be an angel.

: Okay, I see… my apologies…

Xaphan: I suppose you didn’t know the difference…

: So with the war over, what are you planning on doing now?

Xaphan: Nothing is over. Nothing. Just because Saint Michael has declared victory doesn’t mean that I’m done fighting. One way or another… we will rebuild and when we return to the Celestial World… they will pay for what they did to us.

: I see, well good luck with that. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to join us for an interview. It was much appreciated.

Xaphan: If you’ve gained any insight into why we fought, it was worth my tolerance.

: Well that’s it for us on character interviews and a big thank you to General Xaphan from the soon to be released sequel to Divinity, Damnation. We hope you’ll join us again next time.


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Contractions Too Informal?

“Hi Jim,

I was just wondering what your thoughts were on using contractions in narration, for example having the narrator say ‘He wasn’t sure’ instead of ‘He was not sure’. I’ve been told that it’s too informal, and sounds too much like speaking, especially when the narration isn’t in the first person. (There is, of course, always the rather sneaky thing of getting rid of them to increase your word count.) I’ve always used them, but ever since getting that piece of advice, I’ve been wondering whether or not they do take something away from my writing and should only be reserved for dialogue.
What do you think?
Thanks,
Ellen”
Hi Ellen,
Welcome to the writer’s blog. Unfortunately, you’ve hit on one topic that has been a source of controversy since people started writing books. Both sides are right in their own way and both sides are also abjectly wrong. There is no rule governing what’s right and wrong in terms of writing. One person may be turned off by contractions while someone else might think they’re better because they’re less wordy and sound less formal.
I can’t give you the be all, end all answer, as much as I’d like to, but here’s my take on it:
What are you writing?
I ask because this is where it might matter.
If you’re writing a formal piece like a textbook, a thesis, or a scientific paper, I’d say yes. You’d absolutely want to forgo using contractions. That is a formal piece and you want it to sound as scholarly as possible. Contractions simply don’t fit the bill here.
If, however, you’re writing a story, say a piece of fiction, I’d argue that it’s important to connect with your readers on their level. Write in a way they’re used to talking and it’ll be easier for them to read.
Look back on some of the great ‘unedited’ works of old. Mark Twain, for example. He wrote in a way people back then spoke. Today, many people consider his writings racist, but the truth is that he was writing for his time in English that was considered ‘modern’ at the time. Honestly, it’s how I write. If your audience speaks modern English and uses the same idioms,  they’ll have an easier time reading your work.
Now keep in mind… this is not clearance to write like your average texting teenager. When I was a history teacher, I gave no quarter to anyone who wrote ‘2night in da newz’ or ‘u r ther.’ That’s just… well that’s not even English, it’s just laziness.
So in summation, I’d say it depends on what you’re writing. If it’s something formal, scholarly or scientific in nature, I’d say your advisory is correct. Contractions aren’t professional looking or proper. If you’re doing something that’ more intended as a casual read, then by all means use contractions and terminology that people use in every day life.

Hope this helps.

Readers, what do you think? Should Ellen stick to more traditional styles of writing or adopt a more contemporary form?


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim