So you can read my books

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Here is my entry for Brenda Drake's CLIFFHANGER BLOGFEST :

It is from the short story, NEVER CAGE A WILD WOLF, that I am writing just for my own amusement.

Samuel McCord and Mark Twain meet Pele and are abducted by aliens in Hawaii in the year 1866.

Horror and highjinks ensue :

From the moment we draw breath, we owe a debt. Only for a time do we get use of the earth, rain, and the other assorted odds and ends that go into our making.

Like the leaves, we bud and grow, drawing life from the sun and its tears, gathering capital on the investment they have put into us.

Then, like the leaves, we grow brittle and drop to the dark and bloody soil, returning its loan for the next soul round the pike.

Debt paid. And it comes due at the damnedest times.

I glanced over at the fitfully sleeping Sammy Clemens.

I ran my gloved fingers along the volcanic soil beneath me. This mountain was new if such a monstrous, high place could be called such.

I looked over to Sammy, still tossing in an uneasy sleep on his bedroll, his unruly red hair looking like nothing so much as a wig made from the feathers of a dozen of those parrots that dozed above us.

I had saved him from a nightmare come to life when he'd been twelve. I had kept track of him all these years. Now, he was thirty-one.

Sammy had a way of sailing from safe waters into treacherous, deadly ones.

I had taken to calling him Mark Twain, the name river men used to denote the place where the Mississippi went from secure to deadly.

The smoke of our campfire began to tickle my nose.

I sat in the far shadows of the fire. Being a Texas Ranger for over forty years had taught me caution, for even the undead could die the final death.

That was how I spotted the native woman creep up soundless from out of the darkness and sit in front of our fire. Her odd white dog sat beside her silent as a shadow’s passing.

I had never seen the breed before. But he sure was big.

He looked as if his father might have been a bear -- if those critters had roamed these islands. But it did make me wonder what his parents actually had been.

Elephants maybe.

She stared at Sammy, the fire playing odd shadow-games on her dried walnut face. Her dog, however, turned and looked right at me in the blackness I had carefully wrapped around me.

Apparently not carefully enough.

Sammy stirred and half-rose on an elbow, muttering to me as if I still sat by his side,

“I tell you, Captain Sam, these islands have the most magnificent, balmy atmosphere in the world. Why I swear I am surprised it does not rouse the dead from their moldy graves.”

He stiffened as he noticed my absence and the presence of the aged woman and her monstrous dog -- both of whom had neglected to bring their shadows along with them.

He cleared his suddenly thick throat. “Ah, speaking of which -- why, hello, madame."

He fought to clear his fear-closing throat.

"If you had just sent us a telegram, a letter, a carrier pigeon even, announcing your state visit, you would not have found me in so disheveled a condition. Ah, did you know that you and your delightful horse seem to have misplaced your shadows? Ah, Cap, --- CAP!”

“Right behind you, Sammy.”

“H-How far behind?”

I smiled. Same old Sammy.

When we were alone, it was always Captain Sam. But in front of others, even something supernatural like now, his pride would only let him call me Cap.

He kept on, his voice trying, and failing, not to shake.

“Cap, I have ransacked this island until I cannot walk for the saddle sores. I have surf-bathed til I nearly drowned. I have ridden by moonlight through a ghostly plain of sand strewn with human bones and contested with the shades of slain warriors there. But, Cap, I positively insist that all our visitors must have shadows!”

The old woman said nothing. The crackling embers reflected odd in her glittering eyes as it did in her dog’s , if dog was what it truly was. I drew in the night. I suddenly knew her.

She was Death ...

in the form of the Hawaiian goddess, Pele.

Not that it bothered me over much.

I breathed in the night breeze, the still of it, the life of it. In this wilderness there was no greed, no vanity, no hypocrisy. Only a lasting throb of green growth. And the eternal quiet.

I always knew that this was the way I would go. A knife or a gun in hand, my teeth bared at the enemy like an old wolf falling away into the endless void, defiant and fighting to the end.

But not quite yet.

Sammy depended on me. And I would not let him down. I would save him. Then my spirit could be caught up on the wings of the night. It even pleased me a little to think of drifting at peace into the endless depths between the stars.

The old woman turned towards me and croaked, “Soon or late, I always come to collect. How do you wish to pay? Easy or hard?"

I looked at the terrified Sammy who depended upon me and locked my eyes with hers. "Hard."

Some more beauty :


  1. That fire goddess music is kinda haunting. I could listen to the Kitaro while I'm finishing up this read thought.

    Tomorrow - or, a, later today. Didn't sound like you enjoy Korn much? They are a bit rough :)

    I liked the last line of your story: "Hard" Is there any other way for Sam to do things?

    Vivid characterization, as always. These three beings come alive with a history, and a future. Well done.

    Take it easy the next couple days. Hope all is going well with your recovery.


  2. German shepherds are my favorite breed of dogs and they're not small. But that one would have had me shaking in my shoes!

    I agree with Donna in that hard is the only way Sam tends to do things. But, doesn't Death already run in his veins?

  3. You're invited to read about the magic.
    Hope to see you there and PLEASE help me spread the word.

  4. Words Crafter : Pele is the daughter of the Turquoise Woman in my mythos. Rind, the Angelus of Death, has her blood mingled in Sam's veins. But he is on his own with demigods.

    LRenees : I visited your blog and site. I wish you nothing but success with your series -- and with your self-teaching in how to make a trailer.

    Hey, my friends out there, go visit her site and if you know a cliff note version of how to make a book trailer email me and LReneeS with the details ... please.

    Donna : For someone who likes Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Leaves' Eyes, Korn oddly did not appeal to me except for the bagpipes at the beginning

    And right there you see how off my musical tastes are : bag pipes? Who but me likes those?

    Have a great Sunday everyone.

  5. Roland,
    Thanks so much for stopping by the blog and following it. I read your comment. Don't worry; I'm not too great with technology either but I'm hoping perhaps some others can help me out with the confusing process.

    Have a wonderful Sunday and I'll try to stop again when I get the chance.

  6. Thanks for sharing your piece! Very interesting, and that dog was quite creepy!

  7. The one's we write for our own amusement always seem to be the best ones! This one gave me chills. I loved the poetic feel mixed with the rising tension!

  8. I agree with Heather. When I started reading, it very much had a poetic feel, even more so than usual. Nice way to end it and I think we know what kind of "hard", hard is.

    Hope you are feeling well.

  9. Thanks for participating! We've judged your entry. o/\o *high five*

  10. Very interesting and detailed. I really wish I could see what happens next:) Vivid writing, a lot of fun to read.

  11. Hey Roland what chance has anyone got of winning this with you on board, huh?? Great flowing prose as always. Drew me right in. High five indeed!

  12. L'Aussie : Thanks for that great comment. I was afraid it was too lyrical at the start for this blogfest, but I liked it so I went with it.

    JEFritz : I'm glad you had fun reading this. Would you believe Mark Twain gets abducted by those pesky gray aliens of THE FOURTH KIND?

    Brenda : High Five, huh? I'm as pleased as Mark Twain viewing the CanCan at the Moulin Rouge.

    Wendy : Your praise means a lot to me. And "hard" is the only way Sam knows how to deal with threats to his friends.

    Heather : The lyrical blending of chills, reflection, and tension was what I was going for. Your words make me feel like I achieved what I wanted. Thanks.

    Shallee : I'm pleased my snippet entertained you. Yes, that dog was creepy. He is the Father of All Grims and appears also in my Native American/Celtic fable, THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS.

  13. Ooo...I like this. I like that the dog seemed to demand attention. Whether it was a dog or a horse. Nice.

  14. Hey Roland, very clever piece. Most intriguing!!! Glad you entered the blog fest :)


  15. Hi,

    Thankfully I'm in this blogfest merely for the fun not the winning of, because this piece is a sure vote winner.

    Just adore the wolf-dog imagery, but I would because I have one (hybrid GSD/wolf), and I love the way this flowed with your usual poetic leanings. Very touching scene and great cliffhanger! ;


  16. Oh, this was a nice snippet of your story that I didn't expect. I always love wondering who you'll pull into your universe...Pele...of course. =)

    Always the hard way, huh? Figures.
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  17. Roland~
    I love the end question and the answer given. Great job at being captivating as usual. I love the fact that the old woman didn't have a shadow and Sam commented starngely about it in a funny way. well done.
    I did notice you have alot of "had" in here specially towards the beginning and middle that can be dropped and make your sentences read stronger.
    my example: "I had saved him from a nightmare come to life when he'd been twelve. I had kept track of him all these years. Now, he was thirty-one."
    This is your sentence, try taking out both "had" and see how it reads to you.
    Great post!

  18. Once again, you are fabulous. Seriously there isn't anything else to say.


  19. You never cease to amaze me. This was an excellent piece, if it wasn't over the word count, it would've been a top contender. Thanks for participating and sharing your awesome story with us! :D

  20. Wendy : I made it over the word count on purpose. I don't like competing against my friends. I did it for the fun of racing along with my buddies and for sharing.