Short story cover reveal (The Man Behind The Bar)

As promised, this will be the cover for the first short story I plan on publishing through Amazon.

The Man Behind the Bar – Coming 9 April 2017

The past never really stays hidden or forgotten. Ben Stingler left his past for a quiet life, until a young man steps in his bar, and brings with him all the things Ben tried to put behind him five years ago. An overdue debt is back on the table.

Inspirational prompt 14

What do you see here? A playful youth on his way to meet up with his friends? A trip through local history? Or perhaps a portal to another world, one with Knights and Kings and battles? Perhaps something darker? Perhaps he hurries to tell someone of something? An attack? Could it be a simple game of dare between friends to the local ruins?

What drove the kid there? Was he simply testing his new bicycle or trying to get away with stealing it? Let him guide you and tell you his story.

The Darkening: getting to know the characters – The girl

Who are you? What are you doing here? Wait, wait, don’t kill me! I just want some food, that’s all. Stay back, don’t come closer. I’ll… I’ll… I’ll stab you, I swear it. The glass will cut you in no time, you hear? Stay back. That’s better. I don’t want to hurt you, but I will if I have to. All I want is some food. Do you have any? Look, I’m not going to hurt you, unless you attack me, okay? What’s that? What’s that in your hand? Is it… is it food? Just that? Half a raw rat? Okay. I’m so hungry. Feels like I haven’t eaten in days.

Why are you looking at me like that? No, I don’t know why I am like that. I just am. Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. You’re the first person I’ve seen in days. Everything is empty. Not a single soul for miles. What’s going on? I saw houses and farms on my way here, but there was no one living there. It’s as if everyone vanished. I thought this place was empty, was looking for something to eat and a place to sleep. I didn’t mean to scare you.

I came by a house on my way here. It was a big white house, with two rows of windows, all of them smashed though, and the place looked like it was about to fall apart. I went inside, called for help. I was hungry. They had a pen but there were no animals. Some chickens ran around free, but I couldn’t catch any of them. Fast birds. I saw… I saw remains, bones and… and… What happened? On my way here, I saw a wide road, full of rusted cars and everyone in them…

There are big structures to the east, I saw them on my way here. Maybe we could go there and look for food or other surv –

Cannibals? There?

What’s your name? I… I don’t know my name. I can’t remember anything, except the last couple of days. I woke up in the middle of nowhere, and I’ve been walking since then, but nothing before that. As if I didn’t exist. Don’t go! Please, don’t go. Are you the only one left? Why are you afraid of me? What is wrong with me? Are we going to die too? Am I going to die? Are we the last ones? Help me, please!

The Darkening: getting to know the characters – John Piscus

Will anyone read this? Is anyone still alive out there?

My name is John Piscus, and I’m a survivor. The Darkening… I wish I knew more about it, but I don’t. No memory, you see. What I do know is the Darkening claimed the lives of almost every human on the planet by the worst way possible. Stop talking to me! No, no, not you, reader. The two voices in my head. You see, the thing is, I’m crazy. Deranged, mentally unstable, loony, oh yes. Yes, I am, yes, yes, yes. I have two voices lodged in my head. Uh-huh, uh-huh. Two different people talking to me, yapping every single minute of my waking life. One wants me to kill myself, the other to stop at nothing, until as it says, I reach my potential. You think you’re the sole owner of your thoughts? You take it for granted, don’t you? Guess again. You want to make it, to survive? You better make sure you take nothing for granted. Come closer, I want to tell you a secret. Come, come, I don’t bite. Not yet at least. Haven’t turned into cannibalism yet, I’m not like those survivors stuck in what’s left of the cities. Can’t blame them, no food in the cities. But that’s not me. Anyway, here’s the secret; I don’t think the voices are real. No, no, not real. I think one of them is my conscience, the other my survival instinct. Shhh, keep your voice down! They might hear us and start talking to me again. No, don’t ask me about why my conscience has woken. I can’t tell you, I won’t tell you, you can’t make me! Go away! Both of you. Not you, reader. You stay.

What? You don’t know what the Darkening is? Of course, no one left to tell you. The Darkening turned our own shadows against us. No, not shadows, not anymore. What comes out can no longer be called “shadow.” It’s… it’s different. It has substance. It’s alive, malicious, bent on one thing alone; to kill the person it made it. You want to know a fact? It will find you. There’s no escape, there’s no hope. You can’t escape your own shadow. No, you can’t. It’s there, always there. Enough light to cast a shadow, and poof! Your shadow comes to life and you’re dead. Dead, do you hear? DEAD! There’s no escape, there is no hope. Hope is for the weak. Out there, only two things exist; death and fear. You don’t know what fear is, until you realise you carry your own death every step of the way.

The Darkening turned the remaining of us into rats and worms, hiding underground, watching over our backs, constantly looking to the east. If it glows, it kills. No, I will not! My thoughts are my own. Go away! Not you, reader. Anything dark is a good shelter, remember that. If you want to survive, you must have a shelter. Get used to leaving in the dark, for it’s all you’ll ever see. You think it’s easy? Have you ever opened your eyes, and couldn’t tell if anything existed beyond you? Any time where darkness was so pressing, you couldn’t tell if you were awake or asleep? If you had eyes or not? Did you ever stretch you hand in the dark, darkness so thick you thought it had physical substance? That it touched your body, wrapped itself around you, suffocated you? No, reader, you don’t know what fear is until you experience it. You think I’m out of my mind, yes? I am, I told you so. But, you… you don’t know what madness is, until you pry your right to live every single day, not only from the world around you, but from your self. I’m exhausted. So tired. So very very tired.

Shhh! Keep quiet. Did you hear that? I think Raiders are nearby. No, I did not imagine it. It’s Raiders. Can’t you hear them? Raiders! It’s night outside, and they are coming in. Run! They’re inside!

Inspirational prompt 13

I like black and white images. I don’t know why, but they have a certain appeal to me. Somehow, they seem more authentic. Perhaps it’s because they allow me to recreate a story in my mind of a time I never knew, where things were different, and yet not so different from today. Bottom line is, my imagination gets to run wild. Maybe I’m a person who would have liked to live in the past. Maybe my mind is stuck in the past.

What if the guy sitting at the end of the bar was a mobster? Do you see the look on the employee’s face? What if the employee is looking at the door, at someone who just stepped in? Perhaps your POV character, perhaps a regular, or another mobster. The first guy has his back turned to the entrance. Do you smell a gunfight?

What if the supposedly mobster is in fact a shy guy, a good fellow, who just performed a good deed, perhaps prevented someone important from doing something bad, perhaps saved someone from a mob boss? What if he thought he found the only place where reporters wouldn’t find him and stopped to get a coffee? What if whoever stepped in, is a reporter and if he takes his picture, the gangsters will find him?

What else do you see?