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Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Because of my late shift as blood courier, I am posting my entry for the PRIMAL SCREAM! blogfest a bit early :

Today is Raquel Brynes' PRIMAL SCREAM! blogfest

My entry goes back to the moment that shaped my epic undead hero, Samuel McCord, into the driven person he has become. We go back in time to when he was but 15 years old in the deadly plains of west Texas in 1815. Elu, the mystic Apache shaman, has been hunting with him in the form of an enormous golden eagle -- something that Sam is just young enough to accept with youth's ability to grasp the impossible.

It is from my short story, "My Father's Gun" :

The eagle spoke to me. I wish I could say I was dreaming. I wasn’t. I wish I could say it was for the first time. It wasn’t. I wish I could say I was crazy. I ... hell, that was a maybe.

He was staring at me with those piercing eyes of his, the desert sun making his feathers seem burning gold. Because of him I never came home without having bagged game of some sort. His sky-eye spotted even the most well-hidden deer or rabbit. Father was thinking me something of a wonder. He had taken to giving me only two bullets out of our scarce supply.

One for the game. One for me should the Comanches corner me. Finally I had his respect. I took no pride in it. It hadn’t been earned.

Perched on the Joshua tree, the eagle fluffed out his huge wings. And he spoke. Not in actual words, mind you. I heard them in my mind. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Me being crazy wasn’t a maybe.

"Dyami, (he had taken to calling me Eagle in Apache, after all if I was going to take credit for an eagle’s kill, shouldn’t I go by that name?)

"What, Elu?" (That was what he said his name was; Apache for full of grace - most times he was full of something else, which explained why his eyes were so brown.)

"I have done something terrible"

"We all do sooner of later."

He soared from the tree and landed on my left shoulder, sinking his talons deep into my flesh. I fought to keep from crying out in pain. Elu didn’t take signs of weakness well. He was a lot like my father in that.

"To you, thick of skull. To you."

"You meant to?"

"Of course not! We are fr -- hunting companions."

"Then you’re forgiven."

He sank his talons in deeper. "You do not even know what it is that I have done."

I shrugged. A real feat with Elu digging his claws into my shoulder. "Don’t need to. I have your word that you didn’t mean to. Friends forgive friends. Hell, Elu, if my friends have to live with my mistakes, why should I get all bent out of shape about living with theirs?"

This time I did cry out as his talons dug deep. "Do not be so quick with your forgiveness. It has cost you deeply."

"I’m still alive."

"No. You are a dead man walking."

I looked deep into those piercing eyes. Damn, he meant it. I grew all cold inside. The Comanches. Oh, God, the Comanches. Somehow Elu had gotten them on my trail. I hefted my father’s Hawkins rifle, its weight reassuring in my hands. The small white-tailed deer over my right shoulder had been bagged with just one shot. I still had the other bullet. I let out a long, slow sigh, feeling as if my life was leaving me with it.

Hell, Elu hadn’t meant to kill me. I looked up into the harsh blue sky for a long moment. Maybe in the afterlife my spirit would soar next to his.

He looked deeper into my eyes. His next words proved what I had always suspected. He could read my mind.

"Your thoughts are older than your fifteen years. And I am shamed."

I felt a flicker of resentment. "I’m not my father, Elu. You don’t have to feel shame just ‘cause you made a mistake."

"Your father is hard on you."

"A bit. I’d have hated to have been one of his pupils in Harvard."

"Is this Harvard far from my mountains?"

"I'd say Texas is about as far as you can get from it and still be on dry land."

"Then why did he come?"

"He had consump -- ah, had a sickness in his lungs. He hoped the desert heat would help."

Elu’s glittering eyes bored deep into mine. "He is hard on you to make you hard. Hard enough to survive my mountains long enough to be all that you can be."

I sighed, "Yeah that’s what mother says. But Rachel, my sister, says that some men are born to be poets not soldiers."

He bobbed his head as if in an agreeing nod. "You could become a Far-Seeing One."

His eyes seemed to look inward and not like what they saw. "You love your mother and sister, do you not?"

"With all my heart."

"And your father?"

"I -- respect him, fear him. I -- I don’t know about love."

"You love him. Just not in the same way as your mother and sister. And -- and ...."

My throat got tight. "And what?"

He ducked his head. "And I have brought those you call Comanches to their nest."

"What? I’ve got to get there!"

"No! Wait. It is too late. If you go now, you will only see terrible things."

I tossed the deer from my right shoulder and started off in a mile-eating lope. "Then I’ll see terrible things!"

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Elu land on the deer I dropped. My heart sank. He wasn’t coming with me. He was mad at me. I ground my teeth. Let him. Rachel, Mother, and Father were in danger. I had to get to them in time. I just had to.

I ran measured and steady, the water in my nearly full canteen sloshing with each bootfall. The distance was eaten up in easy strides. My daily hunts had built strength in my legs. I was all gristle and muscle.

Elu had taught me how to leave not a trace behind as I walked, though I still left too much sign when I ran. As I was running now. Let the Comanches follow me, just so long as I got to my family in time.

I ran for hours it seemed. Time lost its meaning. But not fear. Fear was all too real as it coiled tight and cold inside my chest. I looked up at the rise ahead of me. Just beyond it lay my home. I slowed. No sense in me getting killed by a Comanche brave before I got to --

Two gunshots. A scream hoarse and shrill. I smiled grim. Father knew all the nerve clusters in the human body. A bullet placed in them, he had told me, would make even the fiercest Comanche scream. And something like that would make the other braves think twice about showing themselves.

I got on my belly and carefully edged up the rise. I swiped off my hat, hoping my shock of brown hair wouldn’t attract notice. Slow and sure I made it up the rise. I sneaked a look over the rock and gravel.

No. Damn it, no. It was bad. Real bad.

Rachel, Mother, and Father. All three of them were trapped out by the well. Damn that Rachel. She must have been daydreaming about those fancy balls Mother had told her about from her time in London.

Rachel never minded her surroundings. Never. She had been caught flatfooted out by the well. Lucky for her that Father knew that Comanches and Apaches liked to catch whites out by their wells. He had built a three wall affair around ours, with slits in the stone for rifle barrels to stick out of.

I gnawed my lip. I had his best rifle. He still had Death and Taxes, the single-shot pistols the Hawkins brothers had made for him. And he had the five shot pistol Mother had bought him in London.

Somehow Mother and Father had made it out to the well. Mother was all right. Father’s right shoulder had a bloody bandage around it.

I watched with sinking heart as a Comanche brave purposedly showed himself then ducked back down behind a boulder. Father had just glared at the brave and hadn’t even tried to take the easy shot.

I tried to swallow and couldn’t. That meant only one thing. They were down to just three bullets. One for each of them.

What was I going to do now? I had only one bullet myself. I had to make that one count for the most. But just what could I do with only one bullet?

My heart became a rock as I saw Mother motion to Rachel. Her face was pale. Her lips were quivering. But still Rachel moved with the grace of a born dancer as she crabbed on her knees to her.

Mother softly stroked my sister’s long blonde hair and hugged her fierce. Before I could take another breath, I heard the shot. Rachel stiffened, then slumped like a sack of flour to the dust.

No. No! Not Rachel. Not her.

We had been so fully one that I hadn’t thought we could die apart. We would always be together. Always. I couldn’t seem to move. Mother looked over to Father.

Though I shouldn’t have been able to, I still heard her. "Oh, John, what have I done? What in God’s name have I done?"

"What you had to, Ruth."

He reached out for her. They clung to each other as if trying to melt into one another. He kissed her like I had never seen him do before. He pulled his head back.

"I love you so, Ruth, I ache with it."

She stroked his drawn cheek. "Who could blame yo--"

The shot rang out like a thunderclap. I jerked as if the bullet had burned into me. And worse yet, Father bellowed as if his chest couldn’t hold all the grief and pain. He stood up.

"Come and get me, you bastards!"

The Comanches yelled their rage at his robbing them of their rape and torture. He smiled and aimed his pistol carefully at the closest of the charinging braves.

No. Don’t do it, Father. That bullet’s for you. Don’t!

He fired. And the brave clutched his chest and reeled silent to the ground. The rest screamed, half in anger, half in anticipation of long, bloody hours of torture on this hated white man.

I sprang to my feet. "Father!"

He looked up, his eyes locking onto mine and yelled, "Sam? Oh, god, you saw. You saw! I - I love you, Sam. Now, run. Run!"

Like Hell.

I swung up his rifle. I sucked in a breath and let it out slow. I heard him in my mind from years back :

"Betsy is a sensitive beauty, Sam. You have to treat her gentle. Caress her trigger, pull it back as if you were brushing back a lock of Rachel’s hair. Nice and easy. She wants you to hit the target, Sam. She really does. Treat her right, and she’ll hit it for you every time."

I saw the Comanche to my left aim his bow straight at me. Let him. I had all the time in the world. All the time in Father's world. Father’s jaw firmed. He nodded.

"I love you, Sa--"

I caressed Betsy’s trigger. She slammed hard into my right shoulder. Father’s head seemed to explode like a melon hit by a hammer. The Comanche let his arrow fly.

A blur of golden feathers streaked down from the sky. Elu. Impossibly he caught the arrow, snapping it in two. He swept across to the brave, ripping out the Indian’s throat in a red spurt of gushing blood.

"Run, Dyami. Run! I will slow them down."

I hesitated. "Would you have their deaths be for nothing? Run!"

I ran.

They wanted me? Well, they damn sure would have to work for their bloody fun. I took off towards the mountains to my right. The mountains that the Comanches feared.

The mountains that Elu said belonged to his mother, Estanatlehi, The Turquoise Woman. She whose shadow it was death to step upon.
The title to my short story comes from the song "My Father's Gun" by Elton John. And here it is :


  1. Wonderful gripping story Roland. I was sucked into it completely. I love reading your stories.

  2. Wow. You are really a very talented writer!

  3. Great entry for the blogfest. I love the descriptive nature of your writing.

  4. Oh very nice. I loved this kid's voice. It felt really strong and genuine. A bit of a bloody scene at the end, but it felt right. Well done, Roland!

  5. I love the idea of that blogfest. And may I just say that you can really crank it out. And I mean that in a good way.

  6., Roland!

    I put up my entry. Thanks for the reminder! I wish I had something half as good, for this!

  7. Dammit how do you always beat me to commenting? I was reading this and your comment came in. >:(

    Anywho that was pretty riveting. I was a bit confused about him having an eagle and an elk on his shoulder, but other than that it flowed really well. Also how does he only have one bullet? Seems kinda convenient. I don't like that two-faced eagle who lets his family die but saves him. Shoulda saved the bullet for the eagle and none of this would have happened. ;)

    Nice job! U coming Bad Girl Blogfest? Can't wait!
    Now to check your comment to see if I need to rescind any of this praise...

  8. Well, that was a mistake. Reading Eric Trant and Roland back to back. My creep-ometer has entered the red zone.

    I like the way you build the tension; starting with a nuetral scene and increasing the momentum to a tragic end.

    I got a laugh out of: most times he was full of something else, which explained why his eyes were so brown. A good break for the reader, letting up on the tension a little, then taking the plunge into the true conflict.

    I paniced along with Sam as he ran, and was devastated when his dad shot Rachel. You know how to tug a heart string and send chills up the spine at the same time.

    Excellent! Thank you; even if I do complain of bad dreams. :) But, that was what the Elton John vid was for; letting go the intensity.

    On another note: I have got to see that Jonah Hex movie. I'll let my ex know that's what he wants for his birthday/father's day gift. He'll even pay for the tickets, I'm sure. :)

    Have a safe and slow shift Dude. I'll be thinking about you all night, you know.


  9. Have decided to print off all your posts and read them at my leisure. They're too good not to.

    I'm having a blogging break, so catch you on the flipside.

    All the best, Roland.

  10. I love your way with words and the tension in this story. I think I jumped when Rachel was killed by her mother. Wonderful job.

  11. Roland, this was gripping, thoroughly intense and very well written. I was engaged from the beginning. The one thing that bothered me was the elk on one shoulder and the eagle on the other. Knowing how large elks are, I would think, even cleaned, he would have it draped over both shoulders. I was pulled out of the story to wonder about this. Being 15, probably tall and lanky, an elk on one shoulder and an eagle on the other would have brought him to his knees. I think when he sees the eagle, he should put down the elk to rest a minute.

    Of the two shots, it didn't confuse me at all. He had proven himself to be a hunter to his father (even though he got help) so in that part of Texas at that time, bullets would be at a premium.

    The death of his sister was a good "shock" moment. The first thing I thought was , "Oh, no, he didn't kill her off." Then I was on the edge of my desk chair for the rest.

    One tiny little thing. The eagle's language, word choices, are excellent. The main character sounds a little modern. I wonder if you could pick some words like "Yeah" and change them to something that would pinpoint the time period like "Yup" and, even educated, I believe pupils was the word they used back then more than students, I'm not sure. But a few little changes would add authenticity.

    Overall, this was great!

  12. I loved the humor at the beginning and then holy guacamole the end! Riveting stuff. I am loving this blogfest. My heart is pounding like crazy!

  13. Roland, man, I got no comment on how to improve that piece. Until I write something better, all I can say is DANG!

    Nice job, blood-boy. I was looking forward to your piece and it didn't disappoint.

    - Eric

  14. I sort I wish I had posted after reading all of these. This is so good it puts mine to shame. Thanks for that. Real great entry!

  15. This was very tense and although I knew that they would use the bullets on themselves...I wasn't ready for it. The eagle catching the arrow was unexpected and it played well to the theme. Great job, thanks for participating.

  16. Great story! As a reviewer I think Catherine has given good advice, but I loved the age and thinking of the voice and the relationship with the eagle--led to believe now that he is sort of 'stuck with him' as there is nowhere else to turn. Very nice set up for future stuff, as well as being a tragic short in its own right.

  17. Beautiful writing Roland. I can almost feel those talons in my shoulder!

  18. I love the relaxed writing! It makes me feel closer to the character.

  19. That is an impressive piece of writing, Roland! Very intense ... you had me on the edge of my seat.

  20. This was great! Everybody already said everything I wanted to say. I love your easy writing style. It's easy to get immersed into the characters' minds. And thanks for all the reminders for the blogfests!

  21. Excellent build up to a bloody end, beautifully written and compelling as always. When Sam pulled Betsy's trigger, my heart skipped a beat.

  22. I love the synopsis of this piece of writing. I am from those dangerous plains of West Texas. :) This is very good. Keep up the great work!

  23. Very vivid descriptions. I felt like I was there watching the battle. ;-)

  24. Great story! I really like your names - Elu, Dyami, Estanatlehi. Great stuff!

  25. Two more rejections today so your kind comments truly are appreciated.

    Ann : I'm so happy that you love reading my stories. You know any agents? Just joking. Thanks for coming by and commenting.

    Anne : Well then?

    Boss Betty : It means a lot that you believe me a talented writer.

    SarahJayne : I work at the descriptions. Thanks for appreciating them.

    Carol : I've been told I do kid's voices well. I'm having fun with CAPTAIN OUTRAGEOUS, a 12 year old street kid and his adventures after Katrina with Sam. Thanks for liking my work.

    Kazzy : Some days I feel all cranked out. Your kind words help revitalize my flagging spirits.

    Just Another Sarah : Your entry was quite good. And thanks mucho for liking mine so well.

    Andrew : It just turns out I match you on the draw with comments. Yeah, you and Catherine were right. An elk is much too heavy. I made a small white-tailed deer. And of course, I am going to do your Bad Girl Blogfest -- with two bad girls actually!

    Donna : I'm glad you liked the Elton John vid. Actually, hearing his song in the movie, ELIZABETHTOWN, was what triggered the idea of this story. Thanks so much for getting carried along with it. Yes, I really want to see that Jonah Hex movie. And Megan Fox has nothing to do with it. Don't believe me? Yeah, you're right.

    Wendy : Thanks for printing out my stories to read at your leisure. And if you want to submit them for me to any Kiwi agents or publishers --- hey, I'm getting desperate here. Just kidding ... kinda. I will miss you as you take a vacation from blogging. May you have a productive time writing.

    To stay on the safe side, I'm splitting my thank you's into two sections, Roland

  26. Thank You's Part Two :

    Mary : That I caught you by surprise by Rachel being killed by her mother means a lot to me. Thanks for telling me that.

    Catherine : If you go back and read my entry again, you'll notice I changed my elk to a small white-tailed deer. I did away with the yeah's. And I replaced students with pupils. Thanks so much guiding me a'right. It is deeply appreciated. And thanks for liking the rest as well as you did.

    SonshineMusic i.e. Rebecca T. : Glad you liked the humor at the beginning and the wild primal actions at the end. You're very kind to tell me these things.

    Eric : I knew your entry was going to be excellent. And, of course, it was. Thanks for liking my own entry.

    Mia : You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of concerning your entry. It was outstanding. Thanks for liking mine. Are you entering Andrew's Bad Girl Blogfest this friday?

    Raquel : Thanks for hosting such a fun blogfest. And thank you even more for the nice comments.

    Hart : Thanks for liking the voice and mind of young Sam. He would doff his Stetson to you in graditude -- so I'll do it verbally. Consider yourself Stetson saluted! Don't be a stranger.

    Joanne : I've actually had an eagle land on my shoulder. Thankfully, I had a thick, thick pad on my shoulder -- even so I carried a bad bruise for a long while! Thank you for considering my writing beautiful. After a rejection this morning, that meant a lot.

    Mary Anne : Thanks for noticing that young Sam sounds more relaxed and different from his older self. Your words means my efforts were not in vain -- and that means a lot to me.

    Ruth : Thanks for telling me my entry kept you on the edge of your seat. I deeply appreciate your comments.

    Kierah Jane : I'm glad you liked my reminder to join in the fun. And your praise is even more appreciated.

    VR : You saying your heart skipped a beat when Sam pulled the trigger means more than I can say. May you be published very soon.

    Modern DayDrifter : That you, being from the west plains of Texas, liked my entry means a lot to me. It's been awhile since last I was there.

    Demon Hunter : That you felt like you were there watching the battle made me feel really happy. And do you know if SUPERNATURAL has been picked up for another season?

    Jess : I'm glad you liked my names. They are all authentic. Come back and visit again. Happy that you liked my entry.

    Well, I want to say a very heartfelt thank you to all of you. May we all find ourselves published soon! Roland