Yes, I met Stan Lee, No It Was Not A Positive Experience #Comics #Marvel #DC #Indie #Fantasy

I actually meant to publish this a month ago on the anniversary of Stan’s death… unfortunately I missed scheduling the publishing date. So… yeah, here it is. Sorry for the delay!

On this anniversary of Stan’s death, I wanted to reflect on the time I met him. I always caution people about meeting celebrities. Too often, they are not everything you think they’re going to be. Often we see them as larger than life individuals and sometimes they are… other times… not so much.

I met Andrew WK when he was at the height of his musical career and despite being completely high off his ass, he was larger than life. This was a man who loved his fans, loved talking to them, engaging with them and literally stayed until everyone got to talk to him.

I met Marc Hudson of Dragonforce at one of their concerts. Nice guy, soft spoken, but was nice enough to wait until my buddy fixed his camera! He was otherwise soft spoken, but the fact that they come into the crowd to meet their fans, I have to give credit there!


Same with the guys from Kamelot. Awesome folks!


Philo Barnhart was literally everything you’d expect from a man who loves kids! That’s just how he is.



But that doesn’t mean that every experience will be positive. Not every celeb is in the right frame of mind when you approach them, others may just not be in a good place. Keep in mind, they are human.

So that brings me to my Stan Lee experience. For starters, I have no pictures. We were banned from taking them.  So what happened? Well… I paid for an autograph, so I was hoping to get a chance to say hi and maybe ask him a question. Then I saw the lines…. Holy… they were long. It was pretty clear I was going to be there a while. Okay, worth it.

So I got in line and waited… and waited… finally, Stan came into view. What I saw… was not what I expected. Even in his old age, Stan had always come off as larger than life. A giant among men. However on this day in 2016… That’s not what I saw.

You get up to the front of the line, Stan is behind a dividers with three people standing on one side of him, two people on the other side and God only knows how many people behind. I go up to the table, they ask me what I’d like to have autographed. I pull out my copy of Uncanny X-Men #16. I place it on the table. They take it and pass it on to the next person. I’m told to wait a moment. The guy in front of my get’s his book autographed before being shooed away. I was told not to ask any questions or anything because Stan couldn’t be distracted.

This was… odd to me, but whatever. I get it. The poor man probably had to do thousands of these autographs. Fine.

Then I get my book to Stan’s pen. As I’m walking up to him, I could not believe what I saw. He was a small man, huddled over to the table, shoulders in, head down, sunglasses on, hands shaking… It pulled at my heart.

As I got up to him, he complained that his hands hurt. I pulled my book back, wanting to give him a moment, but the people with him beckoned me on. So I placed my book on the table for him to autograph. When he finished, the book was handed to me and I was shooed away. I said ‘Thank you!’ and I think he said “yup” or grunted, but… I’m not sure.

I looked back at him one more time before going to one of the nearby Comic Con officials and told them what happened. The woman was polite, but didn’t seem to take me seriously. She kind of waved it off saying, “Oh don’t worry, he can take a break if he needs to.”

I’m not sure I believed her. That didn’t look like a man in charged. It looked like a man with a metaphorical gun to his back and vultures overhead. I shook my head and walked away.

Since then, the book has been mounted and rests on my book case… and each time I look at it, I think about donating it. I’m not proud of the manner in which I got the autograph and I’m not sure I should profit from it either. So maybe I’ll donate, who knows? I haven’t decided.

This was not a good experience. It was sad, and given the allegations of elder abuse that later came out, it placed an even darker mark on the experience. Stan deserved better. A man who brought smiles to so many… who gave people an escape, taught, and entertained… He deserved better than that at the end.

Well that’s my two cents. Just be careful with celeb meets. In MOST cases IMHO, they love meeting their fans and they’ll engage with you, especially lower level celebs, but that’s not always the case. Some are just doing it for more money while others may have other outstanding issues.

Readers, do you have a celeb experience? Let us know about it in the comments!


Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
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:

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!


Spoils of Comic Con… #Comics #Marvel #DC #Indie #Fantasy

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so I thought I’d share the adventure with my readers.

To be honest, since having kids, we’ve done less and less of the major area cons (Boston Fan Expo, Connecticon, RI Comic Con, NY Comic Con, Pax East, etc.). We’re considering taking our oldest to one of the larger ones because he’s old enough now to handle it.


So to feed the comic buzz, we’ve been attending some of the smaller cons. I actually have grown quite fond of some of these. Though not as grand or attention-drawing as some of the bigger cons, they’re ones you can go through in a few hours to a few days, depending on what you want to see and how much you want to take in.


If you’re looking for an artist or celeb who’s really big and well-known right now, this may not be the place to look. Also, if you’re looking for specific comics that are really rare… you may or may not find them. A lot of dealers only bring limited stock as they don’t typically get a lot of space.  However, if you’re looking to browse or perhaps see an artist you liked as a child, this is the place for you.

Northeast Comic Con had the pleasure of hosting everyone from Marvel/DC veterans, to Jim Henson Productions artists, to actual Disney animators! Ergo, there was plenty to see and do.

My first stop when I got there was to see Mark Mckenna. Known for his work across the comic board, he did quite a few of the Old Republic Star Wars books back in the day, so I knew I wanted a piece done by him.


I found him to be a very friendly, talkative individual who knew the material and really seemed to appreciate his fans. I’ve met a lot of artists and they don’t always appreciate talking shop, but he certainly did. I had him do one of my favorites; Ahsoka Tano. I was not disappointed by the results.


(I still maintain to this day that whomever came up with the idea for sketch covers was a genius!!!)

For years, I’ve had a list of characters that I wanted to get done. I could now cross Ahsoka Tano off that list.

However, one of the other characters I’d wanted to get done was a tough one… Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a HUGE fan of Avatar (The Last Airbender, not the James Cameron movie!). While there are some graphic novels, the Avatar library is comparatively limited and the artists don’t seem to do conventions around here. So it seemed like one of the commissions I wanted; Katara, would likely never get done.

Then I spot one particularly jolly individual sitting in the corner…


You all know the man. Yes, you do. No I’m serious. Even if you don’t recognize him, you know his work. Look up his IMDB page. He’s worked on several major Disney and Don Bluth works, as well as several other animated productions. He was one of the people who created Gaston’s character in Beauty and the Beast, he worked on the Little Mermaid, and a little known Disney film that happens to be one of my favorites; The Black Cauldron.

Let me just say that this man is a larger than life character with a LOT of heart. He really has an aura about him, an affinity for kids, and really seems to love what he does. I spent a lot of time at his booth chatting about his work and looking through his offerings.

At that point, there was no way I could walk away without having him do a commission for me. I was tempted to have him do a Disney piece, but that’s not really my thing, and while I liked Don Bluth’s work, I wasn’t really huge on any of them. Still I wanted to get a sketch done by him… but what? What could I have him do?

He’d done Disney and Bluth films, but I didn’t see any Nickelodeon productions… would he really be willing to do it? Well… not only was he willing, he was happy to. He asked me if I wanted a specific pose or anything in particular. I told him no. Typically, I let the artists figure that one out. The less direction, the better the piece.


The end result speaks for itself! He went with her Fire Nation disguise and the whole thing came out really amazing! This actually might be my most valuable piece. I’m currently looking to get it preserved and framed.

Because our kids tired easily, we only spent one day there instead of the three it was open for. However, we got a lot done, got to check out a lot of the puppet work and peruse the comic/collectibles areas. We spent way more money than we should have, but can’t complain! It was a fun time and I’m definitely going back next year.


Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
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:

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!


My Thoughts On Boston Comic Con…

What can I say, I went last year for all three days and loved it. This year, I wasn’t planning on going. With a pregnant wife at home, I had enough going on…

Then we had to hear the news that Stan “Comic God” Lee was going to be there. Upon learning of this, my wife basically said, “Jim… go! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you most likely will never get again.”

So I bought a ticket, but promised that I would just go to see Mr. Lee, and get a couple of cover sketches done. I’ve all but sworn off collecting old and rare comics, opting instead to collect one-of-a-kind art pieces done by the people who draw the comics. So after six months of putting money aside for this, I had enough to fund the day.

Aside from seeing Mr. Lee, I had two other goals; Get a cover done by Norman Lee, and have a sketch cover that had already been done by one of my favorite artists, Chrissie Zullo, inked in. The sketch, while unbelievably incredible, was hard to see from a distance and somewhat faint being just a pencil sketch.


Well… that’s when the trouble started. The worst type of tragedy struck the comic community. Norman Lee went missing and was presumed dead. This hit me hard as I was always a fan of his work and left me kicking myself for not having a cover done by him the previous year when I met him.

I spent some time reflecting on this one. Yet another role model of mine lost in 2015. So I started looking for another known artist who would be at the con. After looking through everyone, Frank Cho seemed to be the best fit. I liked his style and thought he’d do a good Spider Gwen cover… and boy did he… so well it pissed off Robbi Rodriguez, the creator or Spider Gwen, but I still liked his work.

So the day finally came, I had purchased my ticket to Saturday, and purchased my Stan Lee autograph. I had the whole thing planned out. My wife would stay home with my son for a few hours while I went and got everything done. I promptly arrived at 6am and was the second person in line… the first being a very friendly collector who helped make the next 4 hours fly by while we chatted about everything Comic Con.

So after standing out in the sun getting crispy, we finally got inside. At this point, I parted ways with my new friend to get everything I needed to do, done as fast as possible. Yeah… then reality hit. Frank Cho was nowhere to be seen. I remembered last year how some artists tended to arrive at 11 instead of 10, so I decided to come back. I then proceeded over to Chrissie Zullo’s table. As usual, it was adorned with her colorful prints. Chrissie’s artwork has always been impressive and I’ll admit she’s quickly climbed the ranks of my favorite artists. Her style is one that… seems very traditionalist, you don’t see it much anymore, which is a real shame.

Chrissie was in the middle of a sketch and I felt bad about interrupting her, but as usual she was very polite and easy-going. I asked her about the sketch and the possibility of inking it in. Unfortunately, she already had a full list of sketches to do from the previous day and could not take on another unless I was planning on being there tomorrow as well… and I wasn’t.

So that stunk for me, but oh well. It wasn’t her fault, part of me had a feeling something like that would happen. So then I proceeded back over to Frank Cho who had finally arrived. I inquired with him about doing a cover, at which point he also said that he had filled up yesterday and couldn’t take on any more (damn it!). So this was not looking good for me at all. Were all the artists booked?

At this point, I started wandering around artist alley, looking at some of the other works when I began to entertain the idea of having the Zullo sketch colored instead of just inked. I had entertained the idea before, but dismissed it because I didn’t want to risk ruining the sketch by choosing the wrong artist. Then I stumbled on the small table occupied by Brandon Gorski. 

He had several different sketches and color works that were beautiful and his style looked like it would mesh really well with Zullo’s. He was very approachable and was happy to do the work. I hesitantly handed the cover over and set off to go see Stan Lee.

At this point I stumbled on another table… Joe Prado. I’d seen, and been impressed by his work before. He was, however a DC artist whereas I am a Marvel Comics fan with only a few exceptions. He looked like he was still taking commissions and my hope was to get at least one this year from a well-known artist. So I handed over my Spider Gwen cover to see what he could do.

Then I ran to the third floor to go see Stan Lee. I got in line and opened my ticket… and my heart sank! I don’t know how it happened, I really don’t, but somehow I had purchased a Sunday autograph instead of a Saturday one… well great, first I wasn’t getting the cover art I wanted… now I might not get the very thing I came for. I immediately spoke to one of the officials. After explaining how much of an idiot I was, he told me to get in line and as long as it scanned, they’d be fine with it. (PHEW!)

So with relief, I finally got to within a row of getting Stan’s Autograph on my X-Men #16, The Supreme Sacrifice.I met up with my friend from outside who revealed that there was a stand where some of Norman Lee’s art was being sold that I would need to check out later. At that moment, the line stopped. Why? Because Mayor Walsh was there to do a photo OP. (UUUUUURRRRRRGGGGGHHH!!!!)

Okay, normally I wouldn’t care, but let’s just say that I am no fan of Marty Walsh. The man pretty much tried to sell Boston to a bunch of billionaires to bring the Olympics to our city. I was part of the opposition and can honestly say that at no time did he ever show any respect to the opposition and was completely dismissive of their concerns. So less than a week after the Olympic bid mercifully collapsed, he’s now holding up the line. Joy…

But I digress…

So finally Mayor Walsh left after his token declaration of August 1st as Stan Lee day in the City, and the line finally began moving again. I got up to the front and stood at the table with the God of comics himself. Stan didn’t say much more than ‘Hi how are you?’ and ‘Thanks’ as was expected given how many people they needed to get through. Mr. Lee appeared to need a break as he mentioned that his hand was starting to ache.
Honestly, being in his presence was a thrill. This was something high on my bucket list that I never thought was possible, but it was one that I was finally able to cross off. So let me take a moment to say Thank You to Stan Lee for gracing Boston with his presence and for giving us decades of adventure and excitement!

So I had my autograph, which I then sent out to the CGC to be graded and preserved. I got to enjoy it for about 20 minutes, but hey it’s only 4 months…

So now it was time to go back down stairs and see what had become of my covers. I met up with another one of my friends and we proceeded over to Brandon’s table. Brandon had finished my cover and had it waiting for me. My hands shook as I waited to see what had become of sketch… Much to my relief and excitement…. IT CAME OUT INCREDIBLE!!!


Okay, so maybe not being able to have Chrissie do the cover wasn’t as bad as I thought. I still had one cover to go though.

It was at this point that my friend and I proceeded over to the Norman Lee table. There were books, prints, and some of his remaining original work up for sale. Knowing that this would probably be my last chance at getting some of his original work… I had to see what was available. As I poked through the panels, a woman came up to me and asked if I was familiar with Norman’s work. I replied that I was a fan of his work. It was at this point she revealed that she was Norman’s wife. I immediately apologized for her loss and told her how highly I thought of Norman. As I continued looking through the art work, I she told me that all of the proceeds were going to his foundation to support the arts for humanity. I didn’t normally collect panels, but in this case, given that this was likely my last chance, I made an exception and purchased a panel from his work on the Exiles.

After wishing Norman’s family the best, I moved on to get the last cover. My feet were killing me and I knew that I really needed to get home. I approached Joe Prado’s table where another fan was getting posters signed… a lot of posters… no, I’m not kidding, it was like 12 posters by the same guy! Oh well, I waited for him to finish, at which point  Joe turned to me, “Yes, I have a cover for you. I need to put the final touches on it, do you want to watch?”

I usually left the artists alone to do their work, lord knows I don’t like people looking over my shoulder, but since he offered, heck yes! He pulled out the cover and… well for starters it took up both the back and the front cover, which I hadn’t seen any of the artists do up until then. He quickly added the details and looked up at me for approval…


What can I say, the man did NOT disappoint. This was also apparently his first time doing this character, so needless to say I was absolutely ecstatic! I took my comic, shook his hand and made my way to the exit, NOT forgetting to pick up a little action figure for my son before leaving.

My final thoughts…

Some people will tell you that you can get everything done you want to in one day… LIES!! Especially if you want specific things done and have a laundry list of people you want to meet. Plan things out all you want, but do not be surprised if LITERALLY everything you plan goes to hell. Comic Con is a seat of the pants operation. I should have learned this long ago. Always have backup plans… and always try to attend two days. Preferably Friday and Saturday. Sunday is usually a clean up day with very little going on.
Boston Comic Con is the perfect con for casual and intermediate collectors. It has much of the grandeur of NY or San Diego, but without the day-long lines that lead into other lines. Whether you collect comics, art work, games, or you just like fantasy adventure stories or seeing a bunch of nerds act nerdy, then BCC is the place for you. There is a lot to see, enjoy and yes… buy. Just make sure you save for this in advance… otherwise, if you’re a rabid collector like me, you’ll blow through your checking in seconds. Thankfully that didn’t happen this year as I saved up enough to cover me.
Anyway, even though I didn’t get the artists I wanted, and my own idiocy caused me undue stress in getting to meet Mr. Lee, I actually had an incredible time and, as always, was very happy with the outcome.

Anyway, I hope this gives those of you who have considered going a little more insight. Thanks for listening to me ramble!


Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
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:

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!


Cover Inspiration

“Hi Jim,

I was just wondering, Divinity’s cover looks really cool! May I ask where you get the ideas for yours? Like what makes you choose one scene in your writings over another? I want to create an awesome cover for my story and was hoping that you could point me in the right direction.”

Hi Abby,

I’m afraid that you caught me…

The truth of the matter is that I actually put very little thought into my covers. Put it this way, take a look at my first cover, Magnifica: The Last Enchanter. Then compare it to the next one and the one after that. See how things start to change and improve?
Now this isn’t a strike against my cover artist, so please don’t take it as such. When I first started out, I told my artists exactly what I wanted and how I wanted things. I left virtually no room for creativity on their part… that was a mistake. The artists I went with did exactly what I asked of them and did a very beautiful job, by the way, I’d rehire either of them in a heartbeat.
However, when we got to Magnifica: Gravestalker, a friend recommended an artist to me who had done many of his band’s posters.
When I approached him about doing the cover and told him what the book was about, he started coming up with ideas before I had a chance to lay down any real guidelines. I did get to tell him what I wanted, but in addition to that, he showed me a few other ideas he’d had on the side. Before I knew what was happening, my original idea was all but gone. I’m not complaining, mind you, he taught me a lesson that day.
From then on, whenever I hire an artist, be it for comic art, or the a fore mentioned cover artist I give them free reign. All my cover artist asks me to do is give him a few chapters with key plot points to work with. He does the rest.

This is perhaps the best advice I can give you; hire an artist, tell him what your book is about, let him read segments of it to get an idea for himself, but other than that LET THE MAN OR WOMAN DO HIS WORK! That’s what they’re being paid for. Creativity is a big part of being an artist and the more creative freedom you give them, the better the results. Divinity is a perfect example of this. I let Brett do whatever he wanted. We’d worked together, I knew and trusted him, and frankly, I was thrilled with the results.

I hope this helps.
Readers, do you have other experiences with artists that you would like to share to help Abby? (Good or bad) or any hurdles you’ve had to overcome? Please leave a comment below.

Abby- If you’re looking for a good artist, any of the ones who did my covers are awesome and any would probably love to take on your project. You can find more info about them here.


Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
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.

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!


The Traitorous Main Character

So you’ve written your story. Your characters are beloved, not only to you, but also your reading audience. Well now you’re writing the next part in your series and are ready to do the unthinkable…

You’re going to have one of the characters turn on the others. One of your main good guys is now to become a villain and not just a villain, but one who was the cause of much of the turmoil that the other characters have gone through.

So how do you do it? Up until now, this character has been close to all of the others. They have become well-liked, and your audience has grown attached to that character. How do you suddenly make them the object of scorn?
Well it may not be as difficult as you think and it may not even be necessary. Let me explain…

If you’re going to paint the person as a straight villain, the shock and surprise alone should be enough to turn your readers against the character. If you’ve written it right, your readers should feel just as betrayed as the characters that they are reading about. Having the ability to make your readers relate, and even feel the same emotions that the characters are is a staple of a truly gifted story teller. Just make sure that you provide an alternate view of the events from the past stories so that everything fits into place. This is absolutely essential if the villain role is going to stick.

Above, I said that it may not be necessary to make the traitor the object of scorn. Indeed it isn’t. If you refer back to my Character Complexes thread, you can read up on how to create a villain that may not necessary be evil. Maybe this traitor has family that they are looking for, maybe they’re turning on their friends for what they perceive to be the greater good, or maybe there is a payoff at the end that is enough for the traitor to sacrifice their friends.
The point is, just because the character is no longer a good guy, or on the same side as the main characters, doesn’t mean that they’re bad. Quite the opposite, it just means that their circumstances have changed. That character can still be relateable and even likable.

Now, does that mean that this character won’t come back to the morally ‘right’ in the story? No, there is no rule in place that a character can’t switch sides.

So just remember when writing a traitor, it may be better and even easier at some points to not paint them as a straight villain.

Thanks and catch you all on the flip-side,


Free Exchange of Ideas…

Can I just ask… what the heck happened?

When I first published my work, I got a lot of comments from readers, both positive and negative. Divinity in particular got positive and negative comments from die-hard Christians and atheists, and I don’t understand the negativity.

I certainly can’t speak for the rest of the world, so if it’s different outside of the U.S. PLEASE let me know.

I don’t mind disagreeing with my views, in fact, I welcome it! I love it when someone posts a comment on Facebook, here, or on my other pages and tells me that they disagree with my message or my assessment of a certain situation or event. I always enjoy hearing about it from the other person’s perspective and then engaging their talking points. That’s fine…

What’s not fine is when people start calling you names or accuse you of racial bigotry. I don’t get that. Nowhere have I ever used racial slurs in anything I’ve written (unless you count sharpy, which many of my characters call elves), nor have I ever said anything about a specific ethnicity or religion that would portray everyone in any of those groups in a negative light.

I’ll provide a perfect example. The other day I was on a newspaper’s website and one person mentioned on the message board that he supported voter ID laws. The next comment accused him of being racist. How is requiring all citizens to prove their citizens racist? Another comment said that it makes it more difficult for poor people to vote. That is a credible argument, but racist? Is the person making that comment inferring that all poor people are minorities, or that the majority of certain minorities are poor? Isn’t the assumption of racism, actually racism itself?

Anyway, I don’t want to delve into a conversation of semantics, so let me get back on point. Why just sit there, yell and scream, and accuse the person of being racist? Why get mad at that person’s viewpoint? What good does that do? Why not instead of resorting to anger, threats, or childish name-calling, you address that person’s talking points. Tell that person why you think they’re wrong and then hear their arguments. You might learn something and they might actually gain some knowledge in the process too. Why is that not a better solution?

By resorting to childish name-calling, you make yourself look less intelligent.

By resorting to misogyny, you make yourself out to look hateful.

By resorting to inserting race or ethnicity into an argument, you make yourself out to be hateful, you water-down justified accusations of racism, and you spit on everyone who actually suffered from racism and fought for equal rights.

All of this takes a negative toll on society. It get’s to the point where Freedom of Expression and Speech take a back seat to people’s’ sensitivity. The problem is that people don’t see the damage being done by this. Someone showing a different perspective on things, as long as it’s factual and historically accurate, should not be met with scorn. Their talking points should be addressed.

Seriously, why get mad? Why break off contact or remove someone from your contact list? Why resort to stupidity? If someone’s opinion truly upsets you, ignore it. Unless they’re specifically saying it to insult you or a group you’re apart of, why get mad? Why not respond and tell them why you think they’re wrong?

All you’re doing is making it more difficult for someone to express their opinions or their views. By accusing someone who expresses a viewpoint of racial, religious, or ethnic bigotry where none was intended or implied, or calling them names, all you’re doing is making another person fear how they’re going to be portrayed by others, including their employers and family, and thus are making it harder for them to put their views to paper, and that’s a terrible, awful thing to do, when the Free Exchange of Ideas is one of the most important freedoms anyone has.

I really don’t want to spend too much time on this, so I’m going to close with a quote from a TV show I loved as a child:

With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably… The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged. 

P.S. Don’t be afraid to post if you think I missed something or disagree, as I said above, I welcome other viewpoints and would love to address them.

Magnifica: The Lost Sequel Pt. 4



Tom kept himself in seclusion during the next few days. He went to class as much as he needed to in order to get by, but other than that, he barely came out of his room. Both Greggor and Jayme came by to see him often, but he almost never opened the door. He slowly became oblivious to the world around him.

On Monday September 23rd, Tom was roused by the sound of frantic knocking on the door. He immediately jumped up and ran to the door. Jayme was standing on the other side with Greggor. Both of them looked pale with eyes wide in a state of panic.

Tom looked at them both oddly, “What the hell is going on guys? This better not be some fucked up intervention or something.”

“You mean you don’t know?” Jayme asked.

Tom’s eyes narrowed, “Know what?”

Jayme pushed by Tom and turned on his TV. Tom’s back hit the door as she moved. He flashed her an annoyed look, “Excuse you!”

She ignored him and turned on the TV. The screen flicked on to Channel 5 News. Images of decrepit people climbing out of their graves appeared on the screen. It looked like something out of a horror movie

Tom shrugged, “What is this, some kind of early Halloween spoof?”

Jayme shook her head, “No, this is real. This is happening right now! It’s been on the news all morning. The dead are rising and heading north. The National Guard has ordered an evacuation of Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire. We need to leave.”

Tom didn’t believe a word of it. He figured that this was some kind of ploy to get him out of his room, “Very funny guys. This is pretty good… what did you get the campus TV station to play this for me or something?”

At that moment, a police car drove by the campus with its speaker blaring, “Attention, this is not a drill or a test. You are hereby ordered to evacuate. Anyone without suitable transportation may proceed to the campus center where you will be taken away from the city! This is a mandatory evacuation.”

Tom shook his head, “Oh my God… this is real.”

He immediately picked up his phone and scrolled down his contacts until he reached the name Kristen. He pressed on it and brought the phone up to his ear. The speaker clicked on and slowly began to connect.

Jayme looked at him oddly, “Who are you calling?”

“My sister.” Tom replied. “If we’re leaving, I’m going to pick her up. She’s at Emerson College, so it should be on the way.”

At that moment, the phone beeped and an automated voice came over the speaker, “Your call cannot be completed at this time, all circuits are currently busy. Please try your call again later.”

Tom groaned as he lowered the phone. Jayme frowned, “No luck?”

“No.” Tom replied. “The lines are dead.”

Jayme nodded, “Figures…”

Tom grabbed the keys to his car and and turned to the door, “I’m going to go find her.”

“Okay.” Jayme replied. “Mind if we tag along?”

Tom looked at Greggor, who had remained silent, “I don’t know that my car will fit his fat ass!”

“Oh very funny!” Greggor shot back. “Like this is the time for this!”

Tom shrugged and pushed past him, “Whatever. Come on, if you’re coming.”

Tom ran out to the parking lot. Most of the cars were already gone with the exception of a few stragglers who were trying to pack up a few odds and ends before leaving. The entire place was in a complete state of panic.

Tom pushed his car starter, making the green Jeep Cherokee come to life. It was an old SUV out of the late 90s, but it was Tom’s first car and he refused to part with it. As far as he was concerned it still ran well and he owned it outright, so there was no reason not to keep it.

Jayme hopped in the passenger side while Greggor got in back. The interior was rustic, as one would expect from an old utility vehicle. The interior was tan with a black lining.

Tom got behind the driver’s seat and put the car into drive. The old engine roared as it came to life and jolted forward. The Jeep pulled out onto the main road and headed towards the highway.

The moment the jeep reached the on ramp for Route 1 South, they were met by gridlocked traffic that wasn’t moving at all. Cars were bumper to bumper and looked frozen in place.


Tom and his friends waited almost six hours in the traffic. They had barely moved five miles. The tension inside was getting bad and Tom was ready to explode.

Greggor sighed as he looked out the window, “I knew you shouldn’t have gotten on the highway. Why would you do that? It’s bad enough trying to get into the city on 93 on a normal day!”

Jayme shook her head, “Like the back roads would have been any better? Listen to the radio, it’s gridlocked everywhere!”

Tom shook his head, “This is bullshit.”

“Well what do you expect?” Jayme asked. “Everyone is fleeing in the opposite direction of those zombies. Sadly, everyone is fleeing in the same direction.”

At that moment, Tom’s engine made a sputtering sound. Thankfully, he was in the right hand lane and was able to pull off onto the Carter Street exit before the car’s engine died. With what little inertia the car had left, he pulled into the Chelsea High School parking lot and brought the car to a stop. He then looked down at the gas gauge and saw that it was firmly on empty, “Fuck…”

Jayme shook her head as the palm of her hand found her forehead, “Out of gas?”

Tom nodded, “I wasn’t expecting to be on the highway for six hours.”

“Oh great!” Greggor shouted. “So what now?”

Tom shrugged, “We can’t go back, and I won’t be able to relax until I know that Kristen is safe. I’m going to hoof it.”

“You’re going to walk to Emerson from here?” Jayme asked, surprised. “That’ll take hours!”

Tom pulled out his Samsung Galaxy and input walking directions into its GPS. The phone worked to compile the information before a map appeared on the screen with a blue line to indicate which way he needed to go. A voice began giving directions, “Continue on Everett Ave towards MA-16E.”

Tom looked up and shook his head, “Another 2 hours by the looks of it, and that’s if we don’t stop.”

Greggor sighed, “It’ll be dark by then, and I don’t like the idea of running around the city at night with these zombies on the loose!”

Tom shrugged, “You don’t have to come with me if you don’t want to. I’m going to head that way though.”

“I’ve followed you this far,” Jayme replied, “might as well go the rest of the way. My family is out of state, so I can’t get to them any way.”

Greggor sighed, “All right, I’m in too.”

“Thank guys.” Tom replied with a smile as he turned and began walking down Everrett Avenue.


An hour and a half later, the three friends found themselves following the Freedom Trail. The GPS directed them down North Washington Street as they crossed over the Charles River. It appeared that they still had a long way to go as they crossed over the bridge.

Night had already fallen his phone said it was 7pm. The only light in the city came from the cars that were trying to get out of Boston and the undead could still be seen walking through the streets. It gave the group an eerie feeling.

Greggor breathed heavily as every nearby sound made him jump, “Look, this is crazy! The college is still a ways away and it’s too dark to even see where we’re going!”

Jayme nodded and turned to Tom, “Greggor’s right, Tom. I know how badly you want to get to your sister, but it’s too dangerous to be out like this. If the zombies don’t try to kill us, some looters might. We need to find some place to hide for the night, at least until the sun comes up.”

Tom sighed as he looked at his GPS. He was extremely resistant to the idea, but he knew that his friends were right. He wasn’t going to do his sister any good if they were mugged or killed by someone lurking in the shadows. He sighed, “Well there are hotels in the area, but I can’t imagine that they’ll be open.”

“We could break in.” Greggor replied. “I doubt that anyone would blame us.”

Jayme looked like she was deep in thought and remained silent. Tom looked at her oddly for a moment, “What is it?”

Jayme shook her head, “No… we shouldn’t go to the hotels. I can’t explain it, but something tells me that we’ll be safer if we head somewhere else.”

“Where?” Tom asked.

Jayme thought hard for a moment, “The Old North Church…”

Tom and Greggor looked at each other oddly for a moment before Tom turned back to Jayme, “Why there, how could that old building be safer?”

Jayme shrugged, “I don’t know. Like I said, I can’t explain it, maybe because it would be considered hallowed grounds?”

A frustrated look came over Greggor, “You and these damn feelings you get. I swear they get damn annoying at times!”

“Annoying, but accurate.” Tom shot back. “She’s never been wrong before.”

He then turned and nodded to Jayme, “All right, if you think we’ll be safer there, that’s where we’ll go.”

Tom switched the end location from Emerson College to the Old North Church. The map quickly switched, telling them to turn left at the end of the bridge instead of right. It took them on a straight path down the main roads.

At the end of the bridge, Tom led his friends down Causeway Street, passed the Ducali Pizzaria & Bar. Tom looked at the dark windows of the restaurant and remembered going there on a date. He quickly turned away as the thought was making him hungry.

They continued walking and headed down Commercial Street, crossed the road and headed right up the incline that was Hull Street. This was even darker and looked like nothing more than a small alley. The pitch blackness and inability to see the end of the road, gave Hull Street a far more menacing look.

Greggor was a wreck, and it didn’t help matters knowing that they were passing by an old cemetery that was barely a block up from the church. From what they could see over the brick wall, the graves were destroyed and the ground was ripped apart. It was a scarey sight, knowing that even the graves that were hundreds of years old hadn’t been spared.

The group moved on and finally made it to the Old North Church at the end of the street. It was little more than a black structure in the night and just as menacing as any other. The black gates were open, but the red door was closed.

Tom stepped out into the street and slowly walked up to the doors and placed his hands on them. To his surprise, they gave way and opened, allowing the group inside. The stale smell of air passed by them as the dark hall appeared.

The hall was as dark as the outside street was. Even the moonlight coming through the windows from outside didn’t make any difference. They had to feel their way down the isle to avoid bumping into anything.

When they reached the alter at the opposite side, Tom stepped over the felt rope and grabbed one of the candles that adorned the back wall. He then turned to his friends, “Anyone got a light?”

Greggor reached into his pocket and pulled out a stainless steel lighter, “Here you go!”

He tossed it to Tom, who looked at it for a moment, “You’re still smoking?”

Greggor shrugged as Jayme turned back to Tom, “I told you he didn’t quit!”

Tom nodded as he lit the candle and the church turned from black to white with red carpet on the floor. He nodded as he looked around, “Well that’s a little better… so where do we sleep?”

Jayme’s eyes narrowed and she stepped past Tom, “Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?” Tom asked.

“I… I don’t know…” Jayme replied. “It almost sounds like someone’s pounding on a door.”

Tom looked at her oddly. He had no idea what she was talking about. He remained silent until he heard it. The sound was little more than a muffled thud that kept repeating itself.

Tom nodded, “I hear it too, now… but how could you…”

“Let’s go see.” Jayme said, cutting him off. “Someone could be in trouble.”

“Or it could be a horde of zombies trying to get in.” Tom replied.

Jayme shrugged, “Maybe, but its worth finding out.”

She quickly turned and led Tom and Greggor down the stairs at the back of the church. The landing gave way to old wooden stairs that curved around until they reached the ground level. They looked worn as though a million shoes had trodden over them. The floor on the basement level was dark red, similar to the color of blood. Like the stairs it was also badly worn.

Tom understood why everything looked the way it did. The city had gone to great lengths to see that everything was preserved in its original form as much as possible. Unfortunately because of the passage of time, much was beginning to wear away.

The group followed the sound through the door on the right next to the stairs. The door creaked open slowly as they entered the first chamber of the basement. There was a hallway off to the side, but it was too dark to see anything.

Above their heads in the direction the noise came from was a sign that read, ‘Watch thy head.’

Tom and his friends proceeded through the narrow doorway into the next room. The walls were old exposed brick on both sides. On the left was a lot of debris, while on the right, large pipes protruded from the ceiling and ran the length of the room. Below them, was a worn out section of the wall that was in the shape of an old grave stone.

The group proceeded even further down the hall past more debris in the pitch darkness. They slowly moved around another group of pips until they reached the next hallway. It was there that the pounding was the loudest.

Tom brought the candle close to the wall where another grave-shaped slab stood. The faint light from the candle revealed old writing on the wall and a latch below it. He quickly inspected the writing and instantly pulled back in horror.

Jayme looked at him oddly, “What? What does it say?”

Tom breathed heavily as he pressed himself against the opposite wall, “Shubael Bell and Robert Fennelly, 1808!”

Greggor’s eyes went wide and he began to tremble, “Oh my God… this is a crypt! Jayme, you’ve lead us into a fucking crypt!”

At that moment, the latches on the tombs collapsed and the small slabs slowly creaked aside. A sound of old wood breaking apart accompanied the creeking of the stone slabs. The group watched as a skull appeared out of the nearest tomb.

Jayme shreaked as a skeleton stepped out, draped in rags that looked like they were once stylish colonial clothes. The skeleton looked at them for a moment before turning and limping down the hall. The bones rattled as it moved.

A second skeleton in no better condition exited another nearby one and walked passed them as well. More and more skeletons exited their crypts and began heading for the door. The only one that even seemed to notice Tom and his group was the first one.

Jayme’s eyes darted around as Tom put his hand on her shoulder, “Shh, don’t move! I don’t think they see us.”

Greggor nodded, “Either that or they just aren’t interested.”

“Well either way don’t give them a reason to attack us.” Tom replied.

More and more skeletons exited their tombs. Some had to break through the old brick walls to get out. Tom wasn’t sure how a skeleton had the strength to do this, but after seeing a walking skeleton, he was willing to let a few things go.

The group waited as the last of the skeletons passed them by. Tom looked back down the hall and nodded, “Okay, that looks like it’s the last of them.”

“Hold on.” Jayme replied. “I hear something.”

Greggor rolled his eyes, “The last time you ‘heard something’ we ended up down here in the crypt.”

Jayme glared at the dwarf, “Oh shut up, it’s not like I knew that this was down here!”

Tom nodded, “What do you hear?”

“I… I don’t know…” She replied. “It sounds like a heartbeat and light breathing. I think someone living is trapped down here.”

Greggor shrugged, “Or it’s a less decomposed corpse.”

“In a tomb from the 1700s?” Tom mused. “We’d better check it out.”

The group proceeded even further into the crypt until they reached an unusual opening in the wall. There, they saw a small storage space. A single shelf adorned the wall with a small plaque, what looked like a tiny coffin lid, and two glass urns. On the left was the remains of an old coffin that looked like it hard partially rotted away.

Jayme looked at it oddly for a moment, “Whatever we’re looking for is behind these.”

Tom stepped back, taking the candle light with him, “I… I don’t know about this…”

Jayme gave him an annoyed look, “It’s just old wood. Help me…”

Tom and Greggor moved one piece while Jayme pushed the other one aside. The brick wall under it looked severely corroded. The cement between them had broken apart so badly that the bricks were on the verge of collapse.

The three friends dropped to their knees and moved the bricks out of the way, revealing an undisturbed coffin undernieth behind them. The metal latches on the side appeared sturdy enough to aid in moving the wooden box.

Tom took one handle and nodded to Greggor, who had taken the other. Jayme watched from behind as the two guys worked. They slowly pulled the coffin out of the wall until it was completely exposed.

The coffin looked different from the one that they had just moved. This one was intact and beautifully adorned with hand-carved symbols. The wood was polished and still glossy.

Tom looked up at Jayme, “How is this possible?”

Jayme shook her head, “I don’t know… those bricks don’t look like they’ve been disturbed in years and the coffin obviously hasn’t been touched. Look at the dust.”

“Is this where the sound is coming from?” Greggor asked.

“Yes…” Jayme replied hesitantly.

The coffin was nailed shut with a bronze plaque on the cover. Tom held the candle over it and inspected the writing. He read it aloud as he inspected it.

“She sleeps in beauty,

Beauty that will never die.

The eternal soul that dwells within shall rise as a phoenix flies.

May she find happiness in a world that once scorned her,

And suffer not as the others who lurk in the shadows now do.”

Jayme’s eyes stared almost transfixed at the plaque, “Beautiful words…”

Greggor nodded and grabbed a metal rod that was on the floor behind him, “Yeah… so are we going to open it or not?”

“Whatever’s in there, is what’s making the noise.” Jayme replied.

Tom shook his head, “How can you possibly hear that? I can’t hear it even now.”

“I don’t want to talk about it.” She said softly. “Let’s just get it open and see what’s going on.”

Greggor nodded and jammed the rod into the lid of the coffin. He pushed hard on it in an attempt to get it open. The wood crackled as the ancient nails gave way to the force of his push. Greggor then handed the bar to Tom so that he could work the other side.

Once the lid was successfully pried loose, Tom pulled it off and shined the candle in. To his amazement, inside was a woman no older than he was. Her eyes were closed, but she was clearly alive. Her hair was straight and shiny black. It was parted on the right and came down slightly over her cheek. Her cheekbones were very pronounced and it appeared that she had a slight overbite.

Unlike the other corpses, her clothing was intact, but clearly not from the same time period as the crypt. She was wearing chainmail under a black and purple tunic and black trowsers. It was another mystery that Tom would have to unravel.

Tom looked her over in awe. She was absolutely beautiful, “Beauty that will never die…”

Jayme smiled, “Hey Tom, you might want to wipe some of that drool off your chin before she wakes up if you even want to have a shot.”

Tom looked up at her annoyed before returning his attention to the enigma that was this woman, “How is this possible?”

Jayme shrugged, “Either she was put there recently, which makes no sense just looking at the coffin… or the fact that she herself is covered in dust. Are her ears pointed?”

Tom parted her hair and looked at her right ear, “No, they’re human… why?”

“I’d heard stories that elves were able to live for several centuries at one point… but that was back during the days of the Alliance.” Jayme replied.

Tom started tapping her on her cheek to see if he could wake her up. Greggor noticed it and backed away, “Whoa man… you think that’s such a good idea?”

“I want answers.” Tom replied. “Whatever woke up those skeletons is also responsible for her, I’m sure of it.”

The woman didn’t respond to his tapping. Her breathing was steady, but she was otherwise lifeless. Her skin was also extremely cold.

Tom could see that his candle was about to go out. They needed to get out of there before it did or they would not be able to see. He quickly grabbed the woman and hoisted her over his shoulder before turning to his friends, “Come on, let’s get the hell out of here.”

Jayme and Greggor looked at each other oddly for a moment, but quickly followed behind Tom. The group made their way back around to the staircase and made it back to the altar before the candle died. The group was once again in complete darkness.

Tom shook his head, “Fuck this, I don’t want to spend another minute here. Let’s head over to Langone Park. It’s a little more open and hopefully there won’t be any zombies there.”

The group exited the church and ran up Salem Street, heading for Charter Street. When they neared the end of Charter Street, they saw a light heading in their direction. They quickly ducked into a small walk way and hid behind the stone wall on the opposite side of Chater Street from the graveyard that they had seen earlier.

Tom watched as three men dressed in military gear, carrying assault weapons passed by. The marines? Looks like the cavalry has arrived.

Once they were gone, a confused look came over Greggor, “I don’t get it, why’d we hide from them? Maybe they could help us.”

Tom looked back at him, “One, because I haven’t found my sister yet. Two, how would you explain the living dead girl we just found by grave-robbing a national landmark?”

Greggor nodded, “Good point…”

Once the soldiers were out of site, they made their move down the walkway on their right. They ran down the path, down a flight of stairs, and across Commercial Street. The street was busy with activity from military personel who had turned the area into a makeshift base.

Tom noticed a black SUV sitting idle in the middle of the road. He quickly dismissed it as the group made their way through Langone Park. They ran out to the grassy area that was obscured by the playground, so hopefully no one would see them.

Satasfied that they were safe, Tom gently rested the woman on the ground in front of them.The gentle sound of the harbor was a nice change from the creepiness that they had been dealing with all day. At least now they could probably catch their breath.

Tom looked down at the woman lying in front of him. A gentle breeze flowed through her hair and over her skin. It looked like her features were slowly becoming animated as the breeze touched them.

Her eyes winced and her head slowly jerked to either side. She broke out in goosebumps and began to tremble. It looked like she was fighting to come out of her sleep.

Tom looked up at his friends, “Guys, I think she’s coming out of it.”

Jayme and Greggor turned and looked at her. Jayme’s eyes narrowed, “Her heart rate has increased and her lungs feel more animated. It must be the fresh air out here.”

The woman began coughing as she turned on her side. It only last a moment, allowing her to take in a deep breath. When she was ready, she slowly opened her eyes.

To everyone’s surprise her eyes were very different and clearly not human. Her pupils were shaped like cat’s eyes. There was no white either, just a dark orange that seemed to glow in the night.

Tom knelt down next to her, “Take it easy, it’s okay/”

She looked up at Tom with an odd expression on her face, “You… your words…”

She slowly shook her head as she sat up. She spoke with an accent that was most likely from Eastern Europe, “Your voice is unfamiliar to me.”

She sniffed the air as she looked around, “Am I still in Boston? I recognize the smell… at least some of it, but it looks so different. What year is this?”

“It’s 2013.” Tom replied.

A look of shock came over her, “2013… Two hundred ninety years… no…”

She grabbed Tom’s arm as a look of desperation came over her, “Who sent you, my father?”

“Your father?” Tom asked.

“Lord Drapekin.” She replied. “He was an advisor in the kings court before he was found out… is he well?”

Tom shook his head, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. We found you in an ancient tomb undernieth the Old North Church. We heard you breathing.”

The woman shook her head, “So you don’t know my father…”

Tom shook his head, “Miss… um…?”

“Oh forgive me.” She said, realizing that they had not been properly introduced. “My name is Tersa, daughter of Lord Drapekin, advisor to George I, King of Great Britain and Ireland. Might I have the honor of your name?”

“Thomas McConnel.” Tom replied.

Tersa smiled, “Irish…”

Tom then turned to his friends, “This is Greggor Iksan and Jayme Woodsum.”

Tersa looked Greggor over for a moment, “You… so the legends were true. I’d heard about the prowess of dwarves.”

Greggor smiled, “Nice to meet you too.”

She then turned to Tom, “You’re human… I can tell by your smell.”

Her eyes narrowed as she looked at Jayme, “But you… your blood is different. You’re human, but not entirely.”

Jayme shook her head, “That’s none of your business.”

Tom looked up at her oddly, “Not entirely human? Well now a few things make sense… so what else are you?”

Jayme turned her back on them, “I don’t want to talk about it. Mind your own fucking business.”

Tersa was taken aback by her words, “Such anger… it does not compliment you my lady.”

Jayme didn’t reply as Tersa turned back to Tom, “What is the current state of the Empire?”

Tom shook his head, “The Empire?”

“The British Empire, man.” Tersa replied.

Tom couldn’t believe what he was being asked. Had this woman been asleep for over two hundread years? She clearly wasn’t human, but she wasn’t dwarven or elven either. He shrugged as he spoke, “Tersa, what’s the last thing you remember?”

Tersa lowered her eyes to the ground, “My family was being hunted. We were found out for being…”

“Being what?” Tom asked, finally certain that he was going to get his answer.

Tersa shook her head, “I’d rather not say right now. I’m sorry, but I just don’t know you well enough yet to trust you with something like that.”

“It’s okay.” Tom replied. “What happened?”

Tersa continued her story, “I… My family was found out and we fled hear to the colonies… all thirty of us. We spent the next few years being hunted. One by one, I the people I loved get burned at the stake.”

Tears formed in her eyes as she spoke, “My father still had a few friends though. One of whom was a man named Timothy Cutler. He agreed to help my father hide me before the townspeople came for us. The last thing I remember was being placed in a wooden box. My father told me to go into hibernation until he came for me.”

“Wow…” Tom replied, “and that’s where you’ve been for three hundred years.”

Tersa nodded, “Almost, it seems.”

She looked around at what little she could see in the darkness, “The city… I’ve never seen structures like these before. Everything is so different… Tell me, what is the state of the Empire? Who currently sits on the throne?”

“There is no Empire.” Tom replied. “The colonies rose up and threw off British rule in 1776. After that, the Empire slowly declined due to war and rebellion over the next two hundred years. Pretty much the final breaking point was World War 2 when Britain withdrew from most of it’s colonies. The country still exists, but it’s now a small island nation in Northern Europe. Queen Elizabeth currently sits on the throne.”

Tersa couldn’t believe it. The British Empire was gone? This was hard to take in, “Then… who rules here?”

“No one rules.” Tom replied. “Well… not exactly anyway. We have a government that the people elect.”

“A democracy?” Tersa asked.

“Not exactly,” Tom said, “but close. The people elect the people who vote in the president here and power is regulated to various levels of the government. Our current president is Barack Obama.”

Tersa looked at him oddly, “Such an odd name… from where does he hail?”

Tom shrugged, “Well that depends on whome you ask, though most people would agree that he was born in this country. His father was Kenyan.”

Tersa’s eyes narrowed, “Kenyan?”

“African.” Tom replied.

“Really?” Tersa asked. “Incredible… so after three hundred years… the slaves now have the ability to become a ruling power?”

Tom smiled, “They haven’t been slaves in 150 years.”

Tersa placed her hand on her forehead, “I’ve got so much catching up to do…”