Author’s Advice Pt. 11

Don’t be afraid to mix and merge.

So you have a fairly successful series going, but now you’re experiencing writers block. You have fragments of two or three sequels written, but don’t know where to take them. You’ve even considered starting on a third, but haven’t gotten anywhere with it. You really like the first two and would love to continue one of them, but each time you get a line in, you stall and don’t know where to go. You wind up stopping for a week, only to come back and repeat the cycle.

Well…

Why not take those fragments, as well as your ideas for a third story and combine them? Take the central themes of one, the characters from another, and the story line from the third idea you have, or any combination as such. It may work, it may not, but I’ve observed it working very well for people many times over.

A good example is my book, Magnifica: Gravestalker. I combined a few sequels to create this story as I had sort of written myself into a corner, and my audience was somewhat… upset… with the ending to Magnifica: Tears of the Fallen.

I knew that I had to do something, but I didn’t know what. Gravestalker was a product of the above formula.

Author Advice Pt. 5

One thing I’ve had to continuously tell myself over and over again is not to write with a bad attitude. I’m not kidding, if it’s time for you to write and you’re mad, annoyed, or just upset about something it’s not a good time to strike the keys. Stop, put the laptop down, and go do something else.

The problem with writing while angry is that unless it’s a seen that calls for anger or sadness, such as a character dying or a loss another character suffers, it is unlikely that any good will come from writing.

It’s tough to put the pen down, believe me I know, but once a bad attitude enters someone’s writing, it can be hard to continue or complete it. Writing can become a chore at that point and no longer something the writer is enthusiastic about.

Author Advice Pt 4

Rules of grammar and spelling…

I have a feeling that this one will get me a few rolled eyes, but we all remember or… partially recall studying where to place comma’s, how to punctuate, and how to spell. This is all stuff we know.

However, are those rules solid? Must they always be followed? Absolutely not!

You’re going to find in your writing that, when building a sentence to describe something that is ongoing that a rule or two may need to be bent or twisted. Maybe there is a scene that requires you to create a word like ‘deindustrialization’ or something like that. Dialogue is a perfect example of this. Nowhere else will you see more run-on’s, sentence fragments, or words misspelled. Why? Because that’s how some people talk.

Now, does this mean that the rules can be ignored completely? God no. Bad spelling and grammar will turn your reader off quicker than a poor plot ever could.

It’s important to know the rules, but it’s almost important to know that there are gray areas. A good example of the gray areas is when you’re writing in the past tense and trying to figure out when to use the words laid, lay, lied, lie. If you google one of those words and look at any grammar site, you’ll notice a good deal of discussion and disagreement on when to use each.

So I guess what I’m saying is follow the rules, but be conscience of when you can’t follow the rules and find a way to work around them that doesn’t degrade your writing.

Thanks all for me. Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Favorite Story?

What you mean besides the ones I write? Just kidding!

That’s… a tough call to be honest. I’m very picky about the things I read and often restrict myself to Fantasy/Folklore and Sci-Fi. My collection includes things like the Elder Edda, Hrolf Kraki’s Saga, The Frithiof Saga, and a lot of Tolkien.

However if I had to choose a favorite out of everything I’ve ever read, I’d have to dive back pretty far. It was an Autumn night in 1999 when I was suffering through my High School fall reading list to find a book that I would enjoy. To my surprise, I stumbled upon a Dean Koontz Novel posted by one of my professors. Not really a fan, but happy to see something other than the classic fiction pieces and normal drab that most people wouldn’t pick up outside of a classroom, I bought the book.

Not a day goes by where I am not thankful that I did….

strangeThis is an old one 1995 and falls out of the normal genre I usually stick to. Thrillers and Horror stories while great, aren’t usually my cup of tea, but something about this one got me hooked.

It’s not one book, but a collection of stories from Koontz. Most of them were the average fair from Koontz. They were good stories, as you’d expect from such a great author, but one specifically grabbed me.

The actual story, Strange Highways, which the book was named for:

Synopsis (Wikipedia):

  • “Strange Highways” (novel): a failed author returns to his hometown after many years to attend his father’s funeral, only to find himself suddenly and inexplicably thrust back through time to relive a traumatic event from his past, and possibly to find redemption. In the introduction, Koontz lists the Centralia, Pennsylvania mine fire as an inspiration for this story.

It’s a story of a man given a second chance and the opportunity to change his fate. The only problem is that he has to face down someone… or something that is pure evil.

I can’t give too much away because I really think that everyone should give it a read. It’s not a long story, so it won’t take a long time to get through. The characters are great, the twist as to who the bad guy is, is somewhat expected, but Koontz still keeps you on the edge of your seat while the author faces it down.

The female lead character, I’ll admit, is pretty much your typical damsel in distress, but she’s mysterious enough to be likable by herself. All and all it’s a great story, the main character starts off as somewhat drab and dismal, but you grow to appreciate his life and sympathize with him. By the end, if you aren’t warmed by what happened to him, you have a heart of stone. It really is a classic style adventure that leaves you satisfied at the end. For this short story alone, the book is worth the $2 price tag on amazon. I highly recommend picking it up. It really is amazing what can be packed into a short story.

If you follow my advice or have already read it, I’d be interested to hear opinions, whether you agree with me or not!

Catch you on the flip side!
– Jim

Favorite Story?

What you mean besides the ones I write? Just kidding!

That’s… a tough call to be honest. I’m very picky about the things I read and often restrict myself to Fantasy/Folklore and Sci-Fi. My collection includes things like the Elder Edda, Hrolf Kraki’s Saga, The Frithiof Saga, and a lot of Tolkien.

However if I had to choose a favorite out of everything I’ve ever read, I’d have to dive back pretty far. It was an Autumn night in 1999 when I was suffering through my High School fall reading list to find a book that I would enjoy. To my surprise, I stumbled upon a Dean Koontz Novel posted by one of my professors. Not really a fan, but happy to see something other than the classic fiction pieces and normal drab that most people wouldn’t pick up outside of a classroom, I bought the book.

Not a day goes by where I am not thankful that I did….

strangeThis is an old one 1995 and falls out of the normal genre I usually stick to. Thrillers and Horror stories while great, aren’t usually my cup of tea, but something about this one got me hooked.

It’s not one book, but a collection of stories from Koontz. Most of them were the average fair from Koontz. They were good stories, as you’d expect from such a great author, but one specifically grabbed me.

The actual story, Strange Highways, which the book was named for:

Synopsis (Wikipedia):

  • “Strange Highways” (novel): a failed author returns to his hometown after many years to attend his father’s funeral, only to find himself suddenly and inexplicably thrust back through time to relive a traumatic event from his past, and possibly to find redemption. In the introduction, Koontz lists the Centralia, Pennsylvania mine fire as an inspiration for this story.

It’s a story of a man given a second chance and the opportunity to change his fate. The only problem is that he has to face down someone… or something that is pure evil.

I can’t give too much away because I really think that everyone should give it a read. It’s not a long story, so it won’t take a long time to get through. The characters are great, the twist as to who the bad guy is, is somewhat expected, but Koontz still keeps you on the edge of your seat while the author faces it down.

The female lead character, I’ll admit, is pretty much your typical damsel in distress, but she’s mysterious enough to be likable by herself. All and all it’s a great story, the main character starts off as somewhat drab and dismal, but you grow to appreciate his life and sympathize with him. By the end, if you aren’t warmed by what happened to him, you have a heart of stone. It really is a classic style adventure that leaves you satisfied at the end. For this short story alone, the book is worth the $2 price tag on amazon. I highly recommend picking it up. It really is amazing what can be packed into a short story.

If you follow my advice or have already read it, I’d be interested to hear opinions, whether you agree with me or not!

Catch you on the flip side!
– Jim

Top 10 Horror Movies

Hello everyone and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

While I usually do some writing advice that often surrounds the Holidays, I couldn’t really find anything in the usual writer request mailbox. So instead, I thought I’d offer my top 10 favorite horror movies of all time list. Keep in mind, I’m not saying that these are the scariest movies, but they are horror films that I thoroughly enjoy. So be prepared to disagree with me on whether these are actually scary… even if you are completely wrong.

10. Let Me In

I honestly debated even putting this one on the list. Because despite being on my top-5 favorite movies of all times list, this… really isn’t that scary. I saw that because it’s really a love story first and a horror movie second. It has it’s fair share of jump scares, but that’s really not where the meat of the movie is. Oh and before anyone goes nuts, yes I am aware that it is a remake, and yes I’m fully aware that most people consider the original the superior film, but I consider them completely separate as the original source material is barely recognizable here. So it has it’s moments, but if you’re looking for a deeper scare, this isn’t the movie for you.

9. Paranormal Activity

This movie… okay most of it I find to be kind of slow and not all that scary. However by the time you get to the end, you realize that it was all building up to one single solitary scene:

Oh God… this scene had chills flowing down my back after the screaming stopped. All you hear is slow footsteps on the stares and all you can do is wonder what’s coming up to reveal itself. In this case, it’s not what you see… its what you don’t see that is the most freaky. In the end, this movie turned out to be incredibly well done.

8. The Unborn

Yes… there’s nothing scarier than trying to sit through a horror movie on Netflix that no one has head about, hoping that its good. However this one is actually very well done and extremely enjoyable. The Holocaust backstory and Jewish mysticism actually helped make this one good. I’m also a huge fan of Gary Oldman.

7. Evil Dead (2013)

I’ll be honest, I don’t really consider the original one a horror movie. It was WAY too campy for that. This one however delivers the gore, blood, and demonology. There really isn’t anything else to really say about it. It is the original… on steroids.

6. Pulse (US Version) 

Want to kick your electronics addiction? This movie will do it. It’s got unseen scares, jump scares, a dark story, and all kinds of effects that just add to the darkness of the plot. This movie had me going from beginning to end and really keeps you on the edge of your seat. It basically tells the story of how the dead have found a way back into our world… through the internet and wireless communication. How the right code was cracked that allowed communication between the two worlds and now humanity is forced to either live behind closed doors in red-taped rooms, or head to dead zones where the dead can’t go.

5. Drag Me to Hell. 

Not going to lie, I found this movie quite silly at first. However as it went on, the movie became darker and darker… only to become silly again when the monster possessed a goat. However yet again… this movie was saved by a very dark twist of an ending…

 

4. The Last Exorcism

This is pretty much the opposite of the other movies, while the suspense, build up, and scary scenes were great, I want to know what happened to the born-again exorcist who marched out towards the bonfire right at the end. The sequel doesn’t do anything to help answer any of these questions.

3. The Exorcist 3

In my opinion, the only true sequel to the original Exorcist is this movie right here. It follows the story of the detective from the first movie and even has a major reveal about Father Karras from the first film. It can be silly at times, however it also has a really good twist and an amazing performance from Brad Douriff.

2. The Exorcist

Yeah it’s not really a horror movie list without this one at the top. This is still considered by most to be the scariest movie out there. It is said that people went running from the theaters back when this was first released. Not helping matters was when the church confirmed that yes, things like this can happen.

Whether or not you find it scary, it’s still a dark story that can give even the most desensitized minds pause.

1. The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Yeah I think everyone is seeing a pattern by this point. I love exorcism movies. I admit that this one had me freaked out when I saw it and you might be surprised by what scenes. The exorcism didn’t really bother me, nor did the scenes where Emily is shown being possessed. What freaked me out were the two scenes with Dr. Cartright. I can’t find clips for these scenes, but essentially he appears at a low point in the trial offering his help. The entire time the camera is on him, he is glancing off into the sky or behind the lawyer that he’s talking to. It’s never revealed what’s scaring him, but the most chilly lines in the movie were uttered at this point.

Dr. Cartright: That girl was not schizophrenic, she was not narcoleptic, or any combination of the two… I’ve seen people with those afflictions, they can be horrible of course… but they don’t scare me…

Erin: But what you saw there… did?

Dr. Cartright: God… if I’d known, I never would have been there!

Just the way he says it and the fact that this meeting is before the reveal of the exorcism, makes this movie for me.

 



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

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Let Me In (2010)

Bullied at school, neglected at home and incredibly lonely, 12-year-old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) spends his days plotting revenge on his tormentors and spends his nights spying on other residents of the apartment complex. His sole friend is Abby (Chloë Grace Moretz), a strange girl who comes out only at nighttime. Both outcasts, the two form a strong bond. When Abby’s caretaker disappears amid a series of gruesome murders, Owen begins to suspect that she is hiding a terrible secret.



Okay, I have to admit this… I’m a horror movie junkie with a slight guilty pleasure tragic drama. I usually flick on horror movies while I work as they make the day pass by a lot faster… don’t know why but they do.

So I went hunting for a movie that I’d seen recently, but couldn’t remember the name of. That’s when I ran into this gem of a movie. I’d never heard of it before, but unlike most of the fair you find under the ‘horror’ section of Netflix, it actually has a fairly high rating from both audiences and critics. Okay… well I’d never heard of it.

I managed to find a copy online and quickly downloaded it…

OH MAN!!! This movie was pretty good. In terms of mood, it was pretty dark and dreary, but even among the depressing atmosphere, the chemistry of the characters was a high point.  I really… REALLY don’t want to give too much away for those who have not seen it yet, but if you like suspense, horror thrillers, and you’re the type who likes stories about loves that can never be, this is the movie for you.

It starts off a bit slow, but it really does get better and better… The two leads do a really good job and you really feel what they’re going through. Despite the bad things that happen, you still really want them to be together and you’re still rooting for them despite the fact that you pretty much know it won’t happen.

Chloë Grace Moretz brings an eerie innocence to her character that contributes to the mind eff that follows when you see what she is and does. That’s all I’m going to say about it.

On a side note though, I know some people criticize that fact that the leads in this movie are only 12, but how is that any less realistic than the time-honor Studio Ghibli movie, Ponyo? The chemistry is age-appropriate in my opinion.

Anyway, definitely check this one out if your taste is similar to mine! It literally is the best of everything.



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.

You can also add me on Twitter!

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

Schadenfreude is NOT Scary!

I’ve been a huge horror movie fan for a while, but there is one thing that always irked me about a certain ongoing trend in them. I was going to ignore it until I noticed that it was happening in suspense/thriller novels as well.

Here’s the deal, everyone has seen these movies. The story starts off with a group of people. These people are usually in their teens or early 20s. They have drug problems, criminal records, are not the most upstanding people around either being depraved or entitled, and the horror story their stuck in is 99.99999% of the time of their own making. Either they pissed off fate, did something really stupid, or went somewhere that they shouldn’t have been.

I’ve always felt that horror is 30% visual, 70% psychological. You can add visual descriptions, jump scares (in visual medias anyway), and things like that, but in the end, you’re not going to scare anyone. Startle them, but not scare them. Horror is supposed to send chills down your spine. It’s supposed to make you think!

Let’s look at The Exorcist, and I mean either the book or the movie as both are pretty much the standard for horror. The book is far worse than the movie in terms of scares. I don’t recommend reading it in the dark. The movie may be tame by today’s standards, but at the time it sent people screaming from the theaters and, not helping matters, several religious orders came out and actually confirmed that similar incidents have been known to happen. That is freaky.

The problem is that most of the horror these days focuses more on the visual and less on the psychological. It’s become gore-exploitation and allowing scary visuals to do the job of actual creativity. That’s a problem, and it is why so many horror stories are written or made into film and quickly forgotten about.

Why are these stories and movies written this way? Perhaps as a cautionary tale to the younger generations? Perhaps someone was bullied and wants to see those jerks get what’s coming to them in some way… um… okay.

Well if you’re doing it for the second reason, people are going to notice. If you’re doing it for the first reason, kudos, but the general audience is not going to enjoy it. Why, because seeing a bunch of morally bankrupt people get what’s coming to them IS NOT SCARY!

Why are stories like the Exorcist so frightening? Because there are no bad people in there. Reagan, Father Merrin, and Father Karras are all good people. Karras has a bit of a crisis of faith, but all the same, he’s a good man. Yet we watch as so many bad things happen to these characters throughout the story. The fact that they are good and/or innocent, does not protect them. It makes us think, if it can happen to them, it can happen to anyone. That prospect is absolutely frightening. Not even good can protect you from this kind of evil.

Bad people in the end almost always get what’s coming to them. It’s a well-known fact. So exposing them to horrors that most-likely they either deserve or brought upon themselves is not scary. I usually find myself sitting there in sarcastic tone going ‘No… don’t do that.. don’t desecrate that person’s remains… stop, this will come back to bite you.’
It means nothing, I feel it never…

However, when I saw the exorcism of Emily Rose for the first time… heard the poor girl plead with her boyfriend not to leave her… I felt for the character. Maybe in part because I’ve had friends and girlfriends in the past get very sick and ask me the same thing in the same way…

So then to see something like this… Particularly 1.20

That still sends chills down my spine! Especially when she reveals who the demons are.

That scene is scary enough, but perhaps even more frightening than that is this scene:
the_exorcism_of_emily_rose_05

Erin Bruner: Dr. Cartwright?
Dr. Cartwright: I recognize you from those courtroom drawings on the news. You’re much prettier in real life.
Erin Bruner: May I sit?
Dr. Cartwright: Yes, please… You’re losing. I had hoped Father Moore wouldn’t need me but I don’t wanna see him put away.
Erin Bruner: How do you know him?
Dr. Cartwright: Well, I was his parishioner at St. Vincent’s Church years ago. I hadn’t seen or heard of him for years when he called me last fall. But he needed help, so…
Erin Bruner: What kind of help, doctor?
Dr. Cartwright: He wanted a medical perspective from a psychiatrist… you know, one that he knew, trusted to observe Emily’s physical and mental state during this…
Erin Bruner: During the exorcism.
Dr. Cartwright: Yeah.
Erin Bruner: Doctor… Doctor… Can you help our case?
Dr. Cartwright: That girl was not schizophrenic, she was not epileptic, or any combination of the two. I’ve seen hundreds of people with those problems. They can be terrible afflictions… but they don’t scare me.
Erin Bruner: But what you saw there, did?
Dr. Cartwright: God… If I’d known, I never would have been there…

The lines I highlighted in red… I really wish that I could find a clip of this scene from the movie because the script simply does not do it justice. The entire time, Dr. Cartwright is looking around nervously and you can feel the fear in his voice. Something is haunting him… and you never see what it is. In this scene it’s more what you don’t see than what you do that is freaky.
Honestly, out of any scene in any horror story… this one really sent chills down my spine more so than any other I’ve ever read or watched. You have no idea what this man has scene, or what is continuing to stalk and torment him in the shadows. There are no jump scares, no dark music, nothing. It’s two people in the park talking, that’s it, but that’s all you need. What’s said there and the emotions that are effectively relayed are enough to send a person’s imagination wild in fear. THAT is effective story-telling from a horror perspective, whether you like that movie or not.

So honestly, in round up, all I can say is that watching people get what’s coming to them is not scary and it never will be. You’re not going to frighten anyone by having a bunch of drugged up ex-cons running around doing stupid things that get them into trouble. It just doesn’t work.

All right… so am I right, wrong, way off or right on the money? Let me know in the comments!



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.

You can also add me on Twitter!

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

Beneath the Surface: An Abandoned Story: Chapter 10

X

 

It was only 3 in the afternoon. Alex had some time to spare. He would have rather stayed with Tersa to dissuade his fears, but he knew that he needed some time alone. If he was ever to be of any help to her, he needed to be prepared.

At first, Alex headed home, but then he had a sudden urge to go somewhere else. He turned the car around and headed towards the center of town. He drove down Main Street and then turned into the cemetery on the outskirts.

After pulling onto the winding road of the cemetery, he stopped his car and got out. There was a gentle breeze that was off set by the warm October sun. It was comfortable enough weather that normally Alex would have been outdoors with some friends, but this was not the time for it.

As he closed the door, he noticed the cigarettes on the passenger’s seat and realized that he hadn’t had one that day. He grabbed the pack and looked at it for a moment. A sudden urge came over him to light up. He was about to open the pack when a feeling of disgust came over him. He threw the pack back on the seat and closed the door. Oh fuck it.

Alex walked slowly up the hill to the grave of his mother. The fresh soil had not yet had grass planted over it. His mother’s stone was in place with her name, Gloria Hendrickson, carved into the center. He felt like her caring eyes were looking at him at that very moment.

Alex wasn’t ready for what he was about to do and needed help, “Mom… I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I’m such a failure, I’m sorry that I haven’t been home in two years, and I’m sorry that you didn’t have a better son. I tried… you know I really tried, but after what happened in Rome, I just couldn’t bring myself to face you again.”

Tears filled his eyes as he spoke, “I’ve got something to do now… something big. If I fail… I don’t know what’s going to happen. You remember the girl, Tersa? You were friends with her mother. She’s in trouble now and I’ve been asked to do something I swore that I’d never do again. I don’t know how to handle this, Mom. I’m scared. I wish you were here right now. You always knew what to say to make even the worst situations not look that bad. You’d probably say something like ‘just do your best and let God handle everything else’ right?”

Alex closed his eyes as the tears began to flow, “I miss you… Whatever happens tonight… I hope you can forgive me.”

Alex bent over and kissed the top of the gravestone before turning and heading back to his car. He drove home and got to work preparing what he needed. He hoped that he still had everything from the old days.

After closing and locking the front door, Alex ran to his room to look for a specific book that he knew he’d need. He went through his bookshelf and opened all of his drawers, one by one. Come on, it has to be here. Please Mom, you can’t have thrown it out.

Alex opened the last drawer to his nightstand and found exactly what he was looking for. Inside was a small black book with golden letters embossed on the cover. The Roman Ritual… thank Goodness!

He’d had that book since he first entertained the idea of going into the seminary. It should have everything that he needed to perform the ritual. It was an older copy, but it should still work.

With the book in hand, Alex went out to the living room, flicked on the TV, and switched to the News. He wasn’t really watching it, he just wanted some background noise while he centered himself. Ordinarily, this would have been the time for prayer and reflection, but he no longer saw any value in either, not for himself.

After a few minutes, he drifted off to sleep. He wasn’t tired, but perhaps it was withdrawal from not smoking at all that day. He sucked in one last deep breath before losing consciousness.

Alex was immediately surrounded by darkness. His sleep was dreamless for hours until something appeared in the voice. It was a woman, clad only in a white nightshirt that was almost see-through. At first, he thought that it was Tersa.

She walked in a seductive manner towards him. He felt paralyzed and unable to back away. Her face revealed itself to him. It was Tersa, but at the same time, it wasn’t. He couldn’t explain it. Some part of her was in that face, but not all of it.

As she moved, the shirt disappeared, revealing pale skin that was barely any darker. She moved close enough to press her body against his and rest her head on his chest. When she finally spoke, her voice was little more than the subtle hiss of a snake, “Come to me…”

Alex couldn’t move and couldn’t draw enough breath to respond. She lifted her head off of his chest, “Take me…”

Her body rose against his so that she was able to kiss him. Alex couldn’t move, but he felt his body begin to light up against her touch. He was almost completely powerless.

He had to get away. He knew that this wasn’t right. When she began running her hands up his back, Alex focused his mind and pushed hard against his paralysis. Finally, he was able to break free, “Ugh, no!”

Alex opened his eyes and found himself back in reality. He breathed heavily as he looked at the TV. The bottom right hand corner said that it was almost 2:30am. Shit, they’ll wonder where I am!

After quickly changing his shirt, Alex quickly grabbed the book, ran outside, and got into his car. It was raining again and the wind was picking up. The weather beat down on his car as hard as it could as though it were trying to stop him from getting to Tersa.

Alex shook his head, “Throw as much of a tantrum as you want! You’re not stopping me!”

At that moment, a massive tree branch fell in front of his car, causing him to swerve off the road. His car came to a stop in a small muddy ditch. The tires spun as it tried to free itself.

Alex put the car in park and got out. As the wind blew by, he could detect the faint sound of whispering. He couldn’t quite make out the words as they appeared to be in a foreign language that he wasn’t familiar with.

After inspecting his tire, Alex realized that there was no way he could get it out of the ditch right now. He would need a tow, but he didn’t have time to wait for one. The clock on the dash read 2:45.  Not much time!

Having no other choice, he abandoned the car and began running with the Roman Ritual under his arm. It was raining heavily, but he did the best he could to keep the book safe. Thankfully, he was not too far away.

The rain stung Alex’s eyes as he finally arrived at the McConnel house. Sgt. McConnel met him at the door, “Alex, thank God you made it. Are you all right?”

A drenched Alex took a moment to catch his breath, “Yeah… fine… we need to get started.”

Alex tried to push past Sgt. McConnel, but the officer stopped him in his place. Alex looked at him oddly, “What is it?”

Sgt. McConnel shook his head, “Just so there are no surprises… Tersa has taken a turn. It looks like the demon has control now.”

“Then we have no time to waste, come on.”

Alex looked around as they stood outside of Tersa’s bedroom, “Where is your wife?”

“In our room. She’s been through enough.”

“Fine, are you ready?”

Sgt. McConnel nodded, “I don’t know what you need me to do, but I’m there for my little girl.”

“It’s not her that you’re going to be facing in there.”

Alex’s words sent a chill down Tersa’s father’s spine, “What do you need me to do?”

“Stay close, if she tries to harm herself, restrain her. Whatever you do, do not interfere in the ritual, if you feel like you can’t handle it then remove yourself. Don’t engage the creature, ignore it and don’t speak to it in any way.”

“Understood.”

Alex nodded, “All right, let’s go.”

Sgt. McConnel’s fingers curled around the door knob. He worked the door open slowly. On the other side, Alex could see Tersa handcuffed to both bedposts. Her knuckles were red and she was covered in sweat.

Alex saw the crucifix above her head and the holy water on the table near the door. The McConnels had done everything he’d asked. Now it was his turn.

Tersa, or whatever had control of her hissed, “So Adramelech, you came. I thought after you pushed me away earlier, you were going to stay away.”

Adramelech? What was she talking about? It doesn’t matter. Demons will do anything they can to throw you off. Ignore it.

Alex began by sprinkling Holy Water in the shape of a cross on Tersa, her father, and himself. Tersa winced in pain as though the water burned her. Oddly, Alex also felt pain, albeit not as badly. Again he chalked it up to the demon trying to play tricks on him and opened the Roman Ritual.

The first section was the Litany of the Saints. First came the invocation of the trinity, and then the invocation of the archangels and the saints. Finally, Alex asked for deliverance from evil.

Tersa laughed through the entire thing, “Your words are meaningless. You don’t even believe them! How can you possibly call on the powers of Heaven when you yourself don’t believe in their worth?”

She had a point and Alex knew it. His own lack of belief could spell doom for this attempt, and for Tersa, but it was the only chance he had to save her, so he once again ignored the demon’s words and continued, “Dwell not, O Lord, on our sins or those of our parents, nor take vengeance on us for them!”

He then continued on to recite the psalms. Tersa’s laughing became even higher pitched. She was clearly enjoying this, “Silly poems and meaningless words won’t save her this night!”

Alex shut out the demon’s relentless taunting and continued to pray. He had to do his best to remain stoic, but his patience was failing. An exorcism was supposed to be a test of wills and he was losing this fight.

The reading of John 1 didn’t help, nor did the blessing of the sick. The demon kept relentlessly taunting him. As he continued reading, it turned to Tersa’s father, “Look at this pretender, not a true defender. He can’t save your daughter! It fills me with laughter! Adramelech won’t harm me, he doesn’t even know who he is!”

That was all that Alex was going to tolerate. He doused her in more holy water. The demon fell back in pain and went silent as though showing some form of obedience.

Alex nodded and began the exorcism rite, “I cast you out, evil spirit from hell, you and all your foul companions. In nomine Criste. Begone from our daughter Tersa and stay far from this creature of God.”

The demon spat at him, “Never!”

Alex ignored her and continued in a louder voice, “For it is he that commands you, it is he who cast your being from the heights of the Heavens into the depths of Hell, he who once stilled the sea and the wind and the storm. Tremble in fear, Satan, you enemy of the belief, you foe of all things living, you bringer of death.”

The demon fought back, “I am not Satan! You use words without embracing their meaning! You fool!”

“Why, then, do you defy God, you must know that Christ brings your plans to ruin? Fear him, crucified as flesh, yet claimed victory over the powers of Hell.”

“Your words are meaningless!” The demon roared. “You invoke the name of someone you do not believe can help you. How dare you think to bring me down!”

“Begone, then, in Nomine Patri, et Fili, et Spiritus Sancti! Give place to our lord Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, our God, forever and ever.”

Alex closed the book. The demon was panting as it stared him down. It was as though their eyes were waging their battle for them.

“What is your name demon?” Alex demanded.

“You’re too late.”

“What is your name?”

“You can’t save her, only a man of faith could!”

“Identify yourself, ancient serpent!”

“I was alone in the sky… I will return… or is that you?”

“In nomine Criste! Give me your name!”

The demon threw its head back and cried out, “I am Rachel Proctor, mistress of Quetzalcoatl! I was imprisoned, but I was released, and you my love, you have set me free!”

Alex’s eyes widened and he stepped back while Rachel let out a scream that no human vocal chords could possibly make. Chills rolled down his spine as he processed her words. Thunder and lightning outside her window added to horror that was unfolding in front of them.

Sgt. McConnel looked up confused, “Alex, what is she talking about?”

Rachel forced Tersa’s body to lie back, “Take me, oh lord, as is your right.”

Alex shook as he tried to continue, “D… depart then…”

“That is enough!”

Alex and Sgt. McConnel turned to see three men in black and red robes enter the room. The leader spoke up, “In Nomine Criste, this ends now! Lord God forgive us!”

Alex was about to say something when he felt a sudden and pain strike to the back of his head. His eyes blurred and he fell unconscious. The exorcism was over.

Beneath the Surface: An Abandoned Story: Chapter 9

IX

 

A few minutes later, the scene at the McConnel house was one of defeat. Tersa’s parents were researching psychiatrists that she could go to, though they all thought it wouldn’t help. Alex had been invited to stay for dinner, which he accepted, but he spent most of the time on their back porch with Tersa as she tried to contemplate her future.

“I was set to move out in a few months… finally.”

Alex turned and looked at her, “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, my artwork had been picked up for publishing in a new children’s book that was coming out. They wanted me to do the illustrations for an entire series.”

“That’s exciting.”

“I guess. It’s giving me enough money to rise above the starving artist status.”

Alex smirked, “Who says you still can’t do that?”

“What, go off on my own now, with this?”

“It can’t last forever. Maybe it’ll just go away.”

Tersa shook her head. She knew that Alex was just trying to cheer her up, but it wasn’t working, “You really would have made a good priest.”

“No I wouldn’t have. I should have realized that it wasn’t the life for me.”

“Therapist then?”

“Maybe… but not anymore.”

Tersa bit her lower lip, “What did Father Moran say to you?”

Alex didn’t want her to know. He knew that the priest had suggested more therapy, but not specifically why. Still she had him corner and he had a feeling that she wouldn’t let him avoid the question, “He said that you made the whole thing up.”

“What, why?”

“He said that… maybe you might be a little obsessed?”

“With what?”

“Well… me…”

A look of anger like nothing Alex had ever seen appeared on her face, “Are you serious? No offense Alex, you’re a nice guy, but you’re no Chris Pine or Orlando Bloom!”

“Wow… none taken,” said Alex sarcastically.

Tersa lowered her eyes, “What I mean is that you were a nice guy and I liked hearing about your successes, but I wasn’t pining for you after you left. When you joined the seminary, I moved on and realized that I had lost my chance and I got over it.”

“He didn’t think that it was a coincidence that you happened to be outside of my house the other night.”

“Great… so now he thinks I’m an obsessive nut and a stalker? Let me ask you something, Alex.”

“Shoot.”

“Do you think I knew how to sabotage my father’s car in a way that you couldn’t easily have fixed or identified?”

Alex thought for a moment, “Well… no…”

“There you go.”

“You don’t have to convince me. I didn’t buy his reasoning either.”

Tersa nodded, “Well at least I know that you still believe me.”

“Not that it matters.”

“It matters to me.”

“Well you’re the only one.”

“Isn’t that enough?”

Alex looked at her oddly, “What are you talking about?”

At that moment, Sgt. McConnel came out the back slider door to talk to them, “So we’ve got a few recommendations of good psychiatrists that you can go to.”

Tersa shook her head, “You know it won’t do any good, Dad.”

“I don’t think so either, but I don’t know how else to convince Father Moran.”

Tersa clenched her fists, “I don’t think I want to go back to that church, or see him again. He thinks I’m some kind of obsessive fangirl.”

Alex smirked as she looked at him. There was a look of desperation in her eyes, “Alex, isn’t there something that you can do? Anything?”

Alex sighed, “No.”

“But according to your books, in ancient times, lay people performed exorcisms. Obviously…”

“There is no way to know if those cases were actual possessions.” Alex interrupted. “We don’t even know how many were actually successful.”

“But you know the rituals. You know what we’re up against.”

“Yes, I know enough not to mess with something like this. I don’t have that kind of faith anymore. I am not the person you want.”

Tersa didn’t know what else to do. She was frustrated, frightened, and annoyed at the same time. She fought back the tears in her eyes as she glared at Alex, “What do you want me to do, beg? I don’t want to live like this. If theirs even a chance…”

“I killed that girl.”

“The girl in Rome?”

“Yes.”

“No you didn’t. That creature you talked about did.”

“But I was the one that empowered it. I should never have stepped in to finish the exorcism. I wasn’t experienced or even finished with my training. All I did what make it stronger.”

Tersa shook her head, “By the sound of things, that demon already had what it wanted and was fully capable of carrying out its wishes. You can’t be blamed for that.”

“I can and I do… God didn’t help me that day. Who am I to think that he’d help me now? You’d be gambling your life.”

“It’s my life.”

“Yes,” Alex replied, “and it’s my decision. You should go see the psychiatrist and when he says that theres nothing he can do, Father Moran…”

“Will do nothing and you know it.” Tersa said in an accusing tone.

Alex sighed. She was right. Father Moran was too much of a skeptic, especially for a priest. Tersa looked him in the eye again, “I don’t believe that you killed that girl. You shouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place. It was not your fault.”

“Maybe, but it happened.”

“Yes it did, but this is different. You’ve had more time. I… I know that you can do it. I believe in you, even if you don’t believe in yourself.”

Alex looked up at Sgt. McConnel, “And what’s your take on all of this?”

“Like I said, I’m not a man of faith, but what I’ve seen over the last few days has begun to turn my head. If you can help my daughter, please do.”

Alex looked up at the sky and then back at Tersa. He was trying to find a way out. He wanted to say no. A simple no would have put an end to it. Two simple letters put together and he would avoid the issue all together, but it wasn’t that simple. A no would likely spell doom for Tersa if the church wouldn’t intervene.

He finally gave in, “Fine, though I be damned for this. We’ll do it after dark. 3am.”

Tersa smiled and gave him a peck on the cheek, “Thank you, I know that you’re going against your better judgement.”

Alex was about to say that she was welcomed, but a sudden thrust to the side and a sharp pain in his cheek cut him off. He looked at Tersa to see that it was no longer her standing there. Her eyes were black and her lips were twisted into a hideous smile.

Alex didn’t back down this time, “Qui estis?”

“Ego sum, illa qui fuit incarceratus.” (I am she that was imprisoned.)

“Et ejiciam vos.” (And I will throw you out.)

The creature smiled, “I welcome you to try.”

At that moment, her eyes turned back to their normal color. A look of shock came over her when she saw the red mark on Alex’s face, “I… I did that… didn’t I?”

“No… not you.”

“I can feel it in my hand.”

“It was the creature.”

Tersa shook her head, “Do you see? I could really hurt someone… I…”

“I know,” said Alex.

He didn’t want to admit it, but it looked like he was doing the right thing by getting involved. She needed help sooner than Father Moran was willing to provide. So now it was a question of getting everything together.

Sgt. McConnel grabbed his daughter and held her tight by the shoulders as he spoke, “What do you need us to do?”

Alex thought for a moment before responding. He’d need the perfect setup if this would have any chance. He’d also need all the right tools, “I need you to put a crucifix above the head of her bed.”

“I can do that, anything else?”

“Yeah, go to St. John’s and fill a bottle of Holy Water, they usually have concecrated water in a pot near the door.”

“Will do.”

Alex sighed, “And make sure that Father Moran doesn’t see you!”

“Got it.”

Alex turned and headed for the door to get to his car. A worried look came over Tersa, “Wait, where are you going?”

“I have to go back to my mother’s. I need to reflect and center myself and… theres another tool there that we’ll need.”

Looked back and saw the expression on Tersa’s face, “I promise that I’ll be back to do this.”

“I believe you.”

Alex turned and headed out the front door. Good, because I’m not sure that I do…