So you can read my books

Saturday, October 23, 2010


{A part II to Roh Morgon's MONSTER MASH BLOGFEST.

It is the prologue to my YA urban fantasy, FRENCH QUARTER ORPHAN (The Legend of Victor Standish)} :

I went very still, very cold, very fast.

The bus seat next to me had been empty this whole trip. Now, there was this old woman sitting way too close for comfort.

I hadn't closed my eyes or anything. One second the seat had been empty. The next, the old woman, smelling of lavender and death, sat in it. Green cat-eyes studied me out of a face that seemed to have found a sale on wrinkles.

She must have found her musty Victorian dress in the attic of the Bates Motel. She frowned at me as if she could read my thoughts. I hoped she didn't mind light reading.

She silently thrust a note at me. I just sat there. She shook it hard.

Jeeze. I didn't want an old lady smacking me. A guy couldn't hit an old woman. I took it with all the thrill of eating slimy vegetables.

It smelled old, felt almost like skin, and burned my fingers.

I looked down at it. It was steaming. I looked back up to the old woman. She was gone. My shivers got goosebumps.

"Cue the spooky music," I whispered.

I unfolded the paper. It was blank. A shaft of moonlight pierced the tree cover beside the racing bus and splashed across the page. Words in squiggly print flashed before my eyes.

I only saw one word clear : Hell.

Then, the moonlight was gone, and so were the words. The shivers stayed.

The hours passed like kidney stones. Though the bus never stopped, one by one the passengers disappeared until only I was left.

I could never spot them blink out. Their leaving was like the moving of the minute hand of a clock. It happened. I just could never catch it.

Finally, the bus pulled into a deserted depot, steam rising like begging fingers from the sewer grates. Each corner seemed thick in mold and fungus ... the sort of place a wino would curl up in to die. With a hiss of asthmatic air brakes, the bus stopped.

All I had were the clothes on my back and the brains in my head. I got up slow and walked to the front of the bus. I froze.

The bus driver was a skeleton. He turned his forever-smile to me and spoke in words born of the crush of dry leaves.

"Victor Standish?"


"Hell awaits."

"My ticket said 'New Orleans.'"

The skeleton ferryman laughed, "Same thing."

I paid him his coin, climbed down the steps, and walked into the shadows.
I have just entered THE DEAR LUCKY AGENT CONTEST for Young Adult fiction : . Wish me luck.



    WIP3's set in NOLA, and it's basically hellish for the characters. :D

    the ways & means.

  2. Great piece. I don't know how you come up with your ideas, but this was well done. I really liked the shivers got goosebumps line, fantastic LOL. Thanks for posting

  3. Hell awaits. Love it:) Good job as always, Roland!

  4. Very atmospheric, with some nice darkly humourous lines too.

    Y'see busses like these exist, this is why I always travel by car. :)

  5. I'm intrigued by this - I like the cadence, the message, the ghosts. It's a great prologue!

    I have two critiques - take them or not. :)

    Green cat-eyes studied me out of a face who seemed to have found a sale on wrinkles. --change 'who' to 'that'

    He turned his forever-smile to me and spoke in words born of the crushing of dry leaves. -- Awesome sentence, but the cadence works better changing 'crushing' to 'crush'

  6. Thanks, Laura. Am doing so now. Never write with a cold.

  7. Great piece. Loved the bus driver's dry humor.

  8. Awsome imagery. Horror and humor go great together. Fun read.

  9. Hi,

    Did as bid, and glad that I did.

    Hee hee, love the "sale on wrinkles" line. ;)

    Nice touch on death tinged with humour, and good luck with Lucky Agent YA contest.


  10. Roland, you're spoiling us! Not one, but TWO monster mash entries? Good one, loved the skeletal bus driver. Good luck with the contest!

  11. So Victor arrives in N.O. Sweet-his life is just getting started. I wonder, if he knew ahead of time all that would happen, would he have stayed?

  12. Great work Roland. Love the sale on wrinkles and it is difficult to know whether it should be 'who' or 'that' as it really is a person you're talking about..:)

  13. So I had to scroll back up after reading to make sure this was the prologue piece. And it is. And I love it. Seriously, you could write me grandpa's obituary and make it an enjoyable read. I love your writing.

    Skipping over to the next fest entry.


  14. I liked his entry into "hell". Victor has "a lot to think about."

    I was by last night too, but my netbook was overheating, and I wanted to hear the music before I commented. Awesome slides. I've seen several on other mediums, but they really look good set to this song.

    You should save it as your blog theme song. It's awesome. I think whenever I come here I'll hear it from now on.

    Have you listened to Korn, SHOOTS AND LADDERS? There was a way cool video from the Alice in Wonderland scene (totally goth, I assure you), but it is gone now.

    Maybe you'll enjoy this though.

    Not a pretty as Within Temptation, of course.


  15. Man, good luck in the contest.

    I love your Roland-isms. e.g. Wrinkles on sale, Light reading,
    Shivers got goosebumps.

    They're glib and fun and keep people reading, because they want to find the next Roland-ism.

    They also give your writing a unique and memorable voice.

    This blogfest was too easy for you, bro. It was like asking your skeleton bus driver to smile, if you get me.

    Too easy.

    - Eric

  16. "Same thing," eh?? You should set a horror story in Detroit, Michigan too. ;) There are great spooky ruins and vast ghost neighborhoods.

  17. I wish you all the best in the contest, Roland. This is a kick-ass opening in my opinion.

  18. Wendy : Thanks for the luck. I'm glad you like my opening. I think I'll keep it in.

    Genie : Detroit is the first city that Victor found himself scrambling to surive on. I may include a flashback to those days.

    Eric : Roland-isms huh? I love your own phrasing skills. Yes, this is indeed my genre. I can dwell in fantasy yet make it real with the pain of what it truly means to be human.

    Donna : I am low tech, but your idea of a blog theme tickled me. Thanks.

    Jodi : Your praise really made my afternoon. Thanks.

    L'Aussie : Thanks for having my back with the "that" and "who" confusion. Glad I could make you smile.

    Words Crafter : Victor's a scrapper. He would have gone on, with a smile on his lips -- after all he gets an adoptive father (Sam) and the love of his life (Alice) out of the deal.

    J.C. : Yes, I thought my first one was too long to be easy on the eyes of my friends. Thanks for liking them both.

    Francine : Oh, you're a rhymer are you? You're one up on me there. Thanks for visiting.

    Jo : Always happy to see you visit. And horror makes the laughs necessary and greater somehow.

    Helen : When you're a skeleton, everything about you is dry!

    Steve : Thanks for the great comments. And yes, I hate travel by bus, too.

    Misty Waters : Yes, Hell awaits, but then so does love and laughter. The great triad of Victor's life.

    Summer : My ideas creep up on me and jump me by surprise at the most odd times. I'm happy I made you smile.

    LTM : New Orleans certainly has the ways and means to make life hellish ... and heavenly, too.

  19. Loved this. I too like your Roland-isms. The voice kind of reminded me of the old detective stories. Where the dame walks in with the legs that could stop a speeding train.
    Good luck on the contest. You would have my vote.

  20. There's Just Life : I'm glad you like my Roland-ism's. I guess they are why the ghost of Raymond Chandler visits me. Victor is one small orphan living on mean streets. Sometimes his attitude and his wits are all he has to stand between him and the predators.

    Loved the line about the legs that could stop a speeding train. Don't be surprised when Victor steals it.

  21. Well done Roland. I love how you always inject your writing with humor. Are you published?
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  22. This is beyond frustrating...

    I know I commented on this. The story was great, and I remember discussing 'Bloodletting' by Concrete Blonde. I've had this song on my playlist for awhile and not many people know about it.

    But, alas, my comment (which I believe I wrote after Donna's) is not to be found. So, here I go again...

    Love this story. The description of the old woman made me want to shrink away from her as though she were sitting right next to me.

    My favorite?

    "I only saw one word clear : Hell.

    Then, the moonlight was gone, and so were the words. The shivers stayed."

    The concept of the moon lighting up the words ( a twist on the old invisible ink trick) is very clever...

    That Hell and New Orleans were one and the same is a nice link to the real world.

    Well done. Thanks for bringing Victor and his creepy busload of friends to the Monster Mash!