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Golden Orb - Audio Version! by BarbecuedIguana Golden Orb - Audio Version! :iconbarbecuediguana:BarbecuedIguana 1 5
Death, Devil, Magician and Fool
Late Autumn. 1918. I remember the day with perfect clarity. The sailors had revolted in Germany but we did not know that yet. The telegraph lines had gone down again. They were always going down, so out in our tiny garrison we simply assumed that the war was grinding on as it had for years. Woodrow Wilson had sent us the doughboys, but these men seemed far more intent on getting their hands on some lusty French lasses than battling the Hun. We called them doughboys because they seemed soft and puffy, like little bundles of dough awaiting the oven. Once they met the relentless pounding of artillery at the front we were sure they would be crying to be sent back overseas, back where they belonged.
The Commandant? He knew the trenches. He had actually been one of the first men to dig a trench and in the trenches he would have remained had not a German flammenwerfer slipped past our lines. I shot that man, but not before he soaked our ditch down in flames. The commander shielded me with his
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How Global Warming Causes Freezing Cold Winters by BarbecuedIguana How Global Warming Causes Freezing Cold Winters :iconbarbecuediguana:BarbecuedIguana 2 4
Orc! Orc! Orc!
Orc! Orc! Orc!
Orc! Orc! Orc!
Orc! Orc! Orc!
Orc! Orc! Orc!
See me ride out of the castle
On your Dungeon Master screen
Out for all that I can get
If you know what I mean
Half-elves to the left of me
Half-orcs to the right
Got a monkey grip
And a mercurial great sword
Gonna role play tonight.
'Cause I play D-N-D
I'm a mystic knight.
D-N-D and I'll win the fight
D-N-D I kill giant trolls
Watch my Die Roll!!!
I'm dirty, mean and mighty unclean
Ain't no pala-dan.
Gencon registrant number one
Don'tchu understand?
A symphony of slaughter
A twilight knife
Cast dimension door
And run for you life
The elf is back in town
This is my battle ground.
'Cause I play D-N-D
I slay the wights
D-N-D and I'llllll win the fight
D-N-D I laugh at the gnolls
D-N-D (Orc! Orc! Orc!)
D-N-D (Orc! Orc! Orc!)
D-N-D (Orc! Orc! Orc!)
D-N-D (Orc! Orc! Orc!)
D-N-D (Orc! Orc! Orc!)
I'm troglodyte (Orc! Orc!)
D-N-D (Orc! Orc! Orc!)
And I'll win the fight (Orc! Orc! Orc!)
:iconbarbecuediguana:BarbecuedIguana 2 4
Happy Boo-Day! by BarbecuedIguana Happy Boo-Day! :iconbarbecuediguana:BarbecuedIguana 10 14 Practice Art: Dragon's Lair by BarbecuedIguana Practice Art: Dragon's Lair :iconbarbecuediguana:BarbecuedIguana 2 4 Practice Art: Secret of Bone Hill by BarbecuedIguana Practice Art: Secret of Bone Hill :iconbarbecuediguana:BarbecuedIguana 1 2
From a distance it seemed like a nice place. A small burg nestled deep in the Catskills, trees ablaze with autumn fire, crystal blue skies hanging high above them. From the highway Jason and Eric spied the tall white steeple of a Presbyterian Church, looking like some cottage industry attempt at a rocket quietly awaiting lift-off.  
Up close?
Boarded up businesses. Abandoned cars. Gas stations touting prices many years out of date. Jason pulls his Ford Fiesta up to the main stoplight and sits there, checking his twitter feed, oblivious to an absence of power running to the light itself. Eric only notices this inbetween Instagram uploads. He snaps a picture of the dead light and then another of black cables dangling from a telephone pole, curled up like dead snakes in the street.
“Jeeze, what a dump,” exclaims Jason, tapping on the accelerator and gingerly moving forward through the empty intersection. He checks the mirrors for cops. There is no telling just what kind o
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Practice Art: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks by BarbecuedIguana Practice Art: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks :iconbarbecuediguana:BarbecuedIguana 4 4
Harbingers of Light
Worse than the unknown is the unknowing.
Lovecraft was not met in the gold gilt foyer of the Waldorph Hotel so much as intercepted, caught by a middle manager who knew from the man's scuffed brown oxfords and heavy tweed overcoat that he simply did not belong. How such a commoner ever managed to slip past the doorman would be a definite point of consternation once the day was through.
"I was invited to dine," said Howard, awkwardly holding up an invitation.
The manager snorted back of chuckle of disbelief as he flipped the card over for closer inspection. It was printed on formal stock, ivory white, embossed and signed by one of their most dignified patrons.
"Come with me Monsieur," said the manager and began to walk away.
Not sure if he was going to be shown to the restuarant or shoved out into a back alley, Lovecraft sheepishly followed along, meandering through countless halls, up one stairwell and down an elevator. Finally they arrived at a pair of tall double doors which lo
:iconbarbecuediguana:BarbecuedIguana 3 4
Don't look at me,” said Jill, “I don't know what to do with it!” The lobster lay on its back, head and tail rattling across the metal rim of the saucepan. My wife had done everything short of whacking him with a hammer to get him into the boiling water. For the lobster this was water ballet in a kiddie pool, and at one and a half pounds he - or “Po” as my daughter had dubbed him - was also the shrimpiest of the four.
“Maybe we should just buy a Dutch oven,” she shrugged.
A calculator lit up in my mind. “No, There's got to be some way to cook them without spending any more money.” I had just returned from a business trip to Maine where I bought these lobsters to make a good impression on my clients. They, being in the tourist trap business, felt obliged to take me to the most expensive market in Bangor. Whereas I, being in the travel agency business, felt obliged to effortlessly hand over large amounts of cash with unshaking hands, j
:iconbarbecuediguana:BarbecuedIguana 3 3
Mature content
Six Million Wasted :iconbarbecuediguana:BarbecuedIguana 5 11
Mature content
Taco Hell :iconbarbecuediguana:BarbecuedIguana 92 53
Supernova by BarbecuedIguana Supernova :iconbarbecuediguana:BarbecuedIguana 1 6
Over the course of time you have carefully adjusted the shape of the checker piece by scraping it on the concrete floor methodically, quietly, so as to not garner attention.
The evening meal arrives in your cell, with a message written on the salt packet: KING ME.
A jolt of adrenaline (KING ME) but you must calm your breathing and eat your dinner as normal. KING ME. You empty the salt packet and chew the paper.
KING ME. It's past midnight (you assume; no clocks) when you jam the slightly modified checker disc into the lens of the video camera. It fits as if made for it.
The wait is agony, but eventually your handler comes to investigate the dead video feed. Between the time he peeps in through the slot to the time his key scrapes in the lock you bolt from your fake-sleeping position and poke the checker piece with a finger. It pops out of the camera into your hand. KING ME.
When the door swings open you are ready for him. Routine has caused everyone to become slack; he does not expect
:iconbarbecuediguana:BarbecuedIguana 99 34


Killcount 2019 06 01 by jollyjack
Mature content
Killcount 2019 06 01 :iconjollyjack:jollyjack 510 667
The Abandoned Writer
A strange thing happened on the way to profitability. Publishers abandoned their old roles and added to an author’s to-do list. Once upon a time, Random House, Simon & Schuster and their counterparts sought out talented writers, negotiated fees, then took the ball and ran with it. They provided the editors, marketers and researchers who would launch a book in the most advantageous manner possible.
Then like all big businesses, they began to wonder how they might increase their profit margins. Hey, why not cut out the middle man: the printers? Today, all major pub houses own print shops. Soon, they began to abandon their other roles, as well. Why not save a lot more money by eliminating editors and proofreaders? Shouldn’t it be the author’s job to make their work print-ready? And those whopping fees to researchers and marketing agencies? That took a big bite out of profits, too. Why not dump that on the literary agencies that represented those authors? Let them<
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Love Bombs by jollyjack Love Bombs :iconjollyjack:jollyjack 680 409 Still raining. by PascalCampion Still raining. :iconpascalcampion:PascalCampion 485 10 Take Care of Her by NachoMon Take Care of Her :iconnachomon:NachoMon 252 37 The Air is Death by jollyjack The Air is Death :iconjollyjack:jollyjack 1,570 293 Clean up by jollyjack Clean up :iconjollyjack:jollyjack 1,729 325
So You Want to Get Published: Navigating Magazines
I'm going to talk about my experiences with the publishing process (yes, that's plural! I have a sample set larger than N=1). For me, this has been predominantly SF/F, but this should generalize to most prose and even some poetry.For starters, I think that most of us should go through this process at least once. Whether you're looking to self-publish, get into novels, indie or Big 5, start your own have to have some understanding of the current industry and terminology. Between writing Twitter and the random blogs that come up on Google, if you don't have an existing starting point, you're going to end up with like 50 different ideas on how the process works. Why not try a more hands-on approach instead?Anyway, getting from a story on your computer to in a print (or online!) magazine is a process. There's a lot of magazines out there, and there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach, but here's how I do it. It's worked so far.1. Write something.Duh? Well, not exactly. I do this for fun, so I'm all about writing first and then finding a magazine that works for me. Since I enjoy writing science fiction between 2,000-5,000 words that isn't on whatever popular trend, this is easy.But what if you're heavily inspired by your D&D character? Or everything you write is 38,000 words? Or there's an open contest?2. Figure out where you want to send it.Technically, you can do this first. Some zines have specific interests, others are more vague or provide a list of things they don't prefer. (Note the bit about contest/antho submissions!) If I'm short on ideas, or struggling to bring a story together, those specific requirements can be the perfect kick in the pants to get across the finish line.Of course, none of this is useful if you don't know where stuff is in the first place. So here's a short list of resources, biased towards what I find useful:Duotrope: has a small subscription fee, still the gold standard.NewPages: more for literary/indie presses.Ralan: speculative markets listing. I've used this for yeeeears.The Submission Grinder: I more check this for average response time, but they also list markets in general.I learned about a number of the top markets (a word I'll continue using instead of maga/zine) via word of mouth, but the Absolute Write Water Cooler has a great Writers Beware section. On the positive end, professional organizations like SFWA list qualifying markets, which would be the gold standard for science fiction. And you can look up which markets have the most authors nominated for awards.The thing about sending to markets, especially if they're top tier, is they don't have time for bullshit. Read and follow the directions! I don't care if you read literally nothing else (although real talk, you're waaay less likely to get printed because you have no idea what's out there), read the damn directions. And follow them. Standard Manuscript Format is your friend - as is reading at least a few pieces. I'm all for erring on the side of trying a market when you're not sure, but don't submit something that's obviously off base.3. Edit.If you've already polished, go back and make sure you're not in conflict with anything from #2.4. Feedback(?)There are times when trusting my own opinion has succeeded, and times when it's gone nowhere. So honestly, I could go either way on this, although it's good to have the infrastructure in place when you need it. My go-to for feedback used to be DA - even if most people aren't going to read something longer, let alone comment on it, I have relationships with writers here I can leverage (again, with expectations that it's a two-way street).Many markets consider work that's already posted online to be published! Since they're paying for first publication rights, this is a problem.You can use the members-only option here, or upload things in Stash, since those websites aren't scraped. But it's standard practice to store something when you prepare to submit it (and don't upload the final draft at all). Definitely keep it private as long as the rights are in the publisher's hands.5. SubmitThis is pretty well covered under #2, but because people somehow still fuck this up: READ THE RULES BEFORE SUBMITTING! If you have had your story on the Internet at some point, Google the text. (This is how I learned that those neat scrolling thumbnails are scrapeable. Poets in particular, might want to put an authorial note at the beginning of your submission.)Most submissions nowadays are through a portal like Submittable, but some still take email. For email, if they don't explicitly request a subject line, I default to "Submission: TITLE OF STORY".Cover letters: it's ok not to have prior publishing credits, I doubt this has ever stopped anyone from printing something they liked. Relevant expertise/experience is also good to mention; intent doesn't hurt if they don't explicitly tell you not to include it. And, of course, thank the editors for their time. (I don't go so far as to look up people's names. In my experience, cover letters for magazine submissions are relatively informal. There's a reason they're often optional.)6. WaitNo, seriously. If they tell you when to follow up, do so. Before then, do not. Some submissions portals enable more neuroticism than others. This is a thing I've learned.7. Get a ResponseMost of the time, this will be a rejection. For sites that have tiered rejections, Rejection Wiki can tell you how personal it is. I once burst someone's bubble - gently - on Reddit. Sorry, having the editor-in-chief's name at the bottom of the email doesn't mean they read it. (The term is "slush pile" for a reason.) Said editor-in-chief actually responded to that thread to say he didn't mind when people respond to a rejection with a "thank you for your time," but not everyone sees or likes those.So let's talk about good responses....Personal rejection - yes, this is a good sign! Although frustrating, cause usually you don't get detailed feedback to go with it.Request for on spec revisions - basically, they ask you to make changes without a commitment to buy, but depending on who it is, it could be worth your time. It was worth mine.Acceptance - woo!8. Read and Sign the ContractPro(fessional) markets didn't get where they were by drafting shitty contracts, but some presses may have clauses that beg askance. Nothing bad came of it, but I once signed something that technically allowed them to publish changes without my permission. I found out this was an issue because I read a blog on a publisher who abused this, so yeah, I was lucky there.Anyway, here's a model contract. Note that they need the name of the story in order to send it to you. Don't submit a) stories without titles or b) stories with very bad titles. It worked out in the end, but I'm an idiot.9. ReviseThe editing process, in my experience, is gentle. First off, they wouldn't have accepted your story if they didn't like it (see note about on spec revisions). There's a lot of variation - my friend had a different experience with the same editor - so not much to say, except at "publishers are going to destroy everything I love!!!"10. Get Paid/Get MadeThis can be slow in the publishing world. If I recall correctly I've waited as much as 3 months, and this was a place with an excellent reputation. (They told me beforehand.) At any rate, I can't imagine going into short story publishing thinking this could be a full-time job. If you get an award nomination or whatever, it seems to be a stepping stone to novel publication. I'm speculating, though....
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Halloween 2017 by ChuckARTT Halloween 2017 :iconchuckartt:ChuckARTT 991 36 The Flip Side by PascalCampion The Flip Side :iconpascalcampion:PascalCampion 314 47 And then..... banjos. by jollyjack
Mature content
And then..... banjos. :iconjollyjack:jollyjack 1,697 416
Sessao de Louvor by paulorocker Sessao de Louvor :iconpaulorocker:paulorocker 26 0 Grumble tpb cover by Loopydave Grumble tpb cover :iconloopydave:Loopydave 343 53 Page 5 by PascalCampion Page 5 :iconpascalcampion:PascalCampion 231 30 Susan Sto Helit by Loopydave Susan Sto Helit :iconloopydave:Loopydave 374 66 Did You Just Article 13? by jollyjack Did You Just Article 13? :iconjollyjack:jollyjack 933 478


55 deviations
Golden Orb - Audio Version!
I finally finished my home sound recording studio and took it for a test drive, recording a short story I wrote a few years ago. If you’ve ever wondered what I sound like this is it! The video is on youtube at...…

Any feedback is greatly appreciated.
Late Autumn. 1918. I remember the day with perfect clarity. The sailors had revolted in Germany but we did not know that yet. The telegraph lines had gone down again. They were always going down, so out in our tiny garrison we simply assumed that the war was grinding on as it had for years. Woodrow Wilson had sent us the doughboys, but these men seemed far more intent on getting their hands on some lusty French lasses than battling the Hun. We called them doughboys because they seemed soft and puffy, like little bundles of dough awaiting the oven. Once they met the relentless pounding of artillery at the front we were sure they would be crying to be sent back overseas, back where they belonged.

The Commandant? He knew the trenches. He had actually been one of the first men to dig a trench and in the trenches he would have remained had not a German flammenwerfer slipped past our lines. I shot that man, but not before he soaked our ditch down in flames. The commander shielded me with his body. It burned the uniform off his back, the hair off his head. I saw his left eye boil and pop from its socket. It still strikes me as a miracle he did not die.

When the attack was over I dragged him from the trench and trudged for days through the muddy fields until I could find him an ambulance. He had saved my life and I was determined to return the favor.

Was the Commandant a handsome man?

Strange question.

That was nothing I ever had much reason to be interested in, but yes I guess - in his honor - I will say that he had once been a handsome man. But no one recovers their looks after a flamethrower strike. His hair would only regrow in small splotches on his scalp. His left ear had melted and had to be sliced off. Split muscles knotted up into spikes along the sides of his face. And there was this hole in his cheek that you could see his tongue and molars through. And that eye. That hollow eye socket. Even with a patch over it we were dread to look upon it.


You had to know the man to respect him. The inner man, the proud man, the vainglorious man who would have done anything to win the war for France. That was the man we loved. That was the truly handsome man.

If anything, his outward hideousness only strengthed his determination to fight. I remember when he heard the news of the American intervention. Oh how it infuriated him! I mean, it infuriated all of us. We did not need American aid. What we needed were more incursions into no-mans land, stronger fighters, an iron will. It was the French who needed to win the war for France! Not some Americans.

And that was when he became unstable?

The commandant was never unstable.

No one would dare say such a thing. Anyone judging him unfit for duty would be taking his life into his own hands. However - yes - someone in the high command had decided that we had seen enough combat. They requisitioned us to a training post. Canard Colère wasn’t even a proper garrison, an abandoned apple orchard thirty kilometers west of Saint-Mihiel.

And there you trained new recruits.

Farm boys who had come of age. Everyone in France who could fight was already off fighting the war, so our new recruits came from the loins of the women of France. We taught them to hold a rifle, keep it clean, and fire it at the enemy. Then we expedited them to the front as quickly as possible. They could learn how to polish their boots on their own time.

And the executions?

All part of the training process.

Earlier, if a man deserted his post they would simply take his rifle, point him towards no-man’s land and tell him to march until he met the Hun. Why waste our bullets doing what the Germans could do for us?

The commandant was the one who realized the waste in this. Back at Canard Colère we were discovering that while the boys would gladly say that they were ready to fight and die for France, spending an eternity burning in hell for her was an entirely different matter. Many of them could barely read but they knew their Bible. They knew the ten commandments by heart, as well as just how fickle and unrelenting our God can be. The 6th commandment became a big problem for us.

Thou shalt not kill.

I see you know them too. But - kill whom - I might ask. Kill anything? Kill everything? How does one go through life without killing a thing? Pigs? Chickens? Cows? Do they count too? Life is murder, Général. To live we must cause others to die.

And yet the Bible says nothing.

It just stands there as silent as a standing stone, its orders etched as deeply into the minds of those farm boys as the word on the tablets of Moses himself. That was the real reason why our lines had stopped moving. That was what had brought the war to a standstill. Those words had filled our ranks with men who were eager to use their rifles but hesitant to actually aim them at anyone.

The Commandant would have none of it.

He made arrangements to have prisoners brought to Canard Colère so our trainees could - how did he put it - lose their other virginity before heading off to war. He wanted our trenches filled with soldiers convinced of their own damnation, men who wouldn’t hesitate to dig a little deeper into the flaming pit of hell by blasting the Hun to pieces.

And the magician?

We received many prisoners in those days, a steady stream of treasonous people: thieves, delinquents, dissenters, cowards. We never thought much of them. If they showed up at our gate then it was obvious they were guilty of something. So I signed the papers and-

Do you know that there are no papers showing a prisoner had been delivered that day?

Well. Um. No. Actually. But papers do not always make it into the right filing cabinet, I guess. But Général, I can assure you that papers were present, signed and returned in correct order. The man was taken into our custody and expedited back through the orchard to where the fusillade would take place, to an old mill which had once been used to make cider before the war raged through the area. The commandant liked this place because its walls were made of very old brick that would explode with a small puff of dust when a bullet hit it. If anyone aimed around a man instead of directly at him the Commandant would know and the whole squad would be punished.

Rifles were inspected to make sure they contained live ammunition. No room for conscious rounds here. I marched the man out to the wall, pinned a handkerchief to his jacket and offered him a cigarette and a blindfold. He accepted the blindfold but refused the cigarette. I slipped it back in my pocket for later.

And what was the day like?

Does this really matter?

Just for the record.

Like any autumn day in France it was beautiful, crisp, the sky a faultless azure. Fussilades are normally performed at dawn but we were on a tight schedule. Afternoon clouds had been building in the sky, tall and puffy white, drifting in off the Med.

Now that I think of it - a shadow did roll in over us as I returned to the line and picked up my drum. That was my business in all of this. I did not actually know how to play the drums, but I could rattle off the taps leading up to the drop of the sword and the blast of the rifles.


The Commandant said to the man, “Sir! You have been found guilty of desertion during a time of war which is an act of treason against the great nation of France. The penalty for which is death. Any last words?”

“No,” said the man.

Even though it was just one word. One small utterance. I sensed in it a dark quality, a hesitant evil. I once read a book about Aleister Crowley and Crowley looked the part of the beast. This man? He did not look sinister. In fact I can barely remember what he looked like at all, but for the love of me I remember feeling that same chill in him which I had once felt coming off the spine of that book.

The Commandant drew his calvary sword. He belted out, “Right then. Company! To Arms!”

The ten boys, men I mean, lifted their rifles to their shoulders. The bolts of their loading mechanisms clattered together with impressive unity. I rattled off the taps.

The commander’s blade came down.

The fusillade exploded.

The magician convulsed as the bullets tore into him and he dropped to one knee.

And then he stood back up again.


There were no holes in his jacket. Not the slightest drop of red on the handkerchief pinned over his heart. The magician opened his mouth and ten lead slugs rolled out, pushed by his tongue, bouncing off his lip, falling to the ground. One shot for each man on the line.

“WHAT!” barked the Commandant with righteous fury, “WHAT! Company! Reload!”

I quickly rattled off the taps. Bolt action loaders hastily slammed fresh bullets into their chambers. Stocks went to shoulder.

“And FIRE!”


This time three shots exploded against the bricks, but the others hit with enough force to spin the magician full circle. It knocked him down to a crouch but it did not knock him over. Achingly, he stood back up and glared at us. Even through the blindfold, you could feel his eyes burning with fire. The magician opened his mouth and vomited forth seven lead slugs, spitting them out like loose teeth. Finished, he stood up even straighter than before and puffed out his chest, almost daring us for more.

It took every ounce of will that I had to hold onto my drumsticks.

Nervous laughter chittered along the firing line.

“SILENCE,” bellowed the Commandant, “Company, RELOAD!”

This time the clattering bolt locks were unsteady, out of sync, like someone trying to wrestle open a jammed utensil drawer.


And then it happened.

I have no idea what black sorcery was at work, but the clouds shifted and the shadow drifted off of us, flooding the orchard in golden light. And we knew. Somehow we knew that even if we were to wheel out the old gatling gun we kept in the barn and unloaded case after case of ammunition into this man that he would just stand there and take it, dancing like a rag doll, his jaws distended like a giant snake, bullets pouring from his open mouth like a black wave of beetles escaping a corpse.

A chill wind blew through the orchard, as cold against our faces as the feathers of angels, and like a house of cards the line collapsed. One man dropped his rifle and as that first gun fell towards the ground another was dropped and then another and another. The men turned and fled, screaming in all directions.

Only the Commandant had the iron fortitude to hold his ground. He drew his pistol and fired on the fleeing soldiers shouting, “RETURN! REFORM RANKS! YOU COWARDS! YOU PANSIES! YOU TREASONOUS CHICKENSHIT PANTY-WAISTS!”

Once his gun had gone empty, he threw it aside and turned back towards the magician. His sides were beating like a bellows. He had shouted hard enough to rip the hole in his mouth clean through to his lips.


And he charged forth and slew the man. Brandishing his sword he hacked into him, berating him with each slicing blow.  

Charleton! Mountebank! Deceiver!

And the magician just stood there and took it. I mean, he was tied and blindfolded so there was little else he could do, but to me it almost seemed as if the Commandant were hacking apart a scarecrow. Blood flew everywhere and the man simply fell at the commander’s feet and died.

And the Commandant?

On fire with rage.

And I was the only one left in the orchard for him to vent it on.

“You,” he said, stalking back towards me, “I smell your fear.”

And he was right. I was terrified. I stank of it with heavy yellow sweat oozing from every pore.

“Youuuuuuu,” the commander growled, pounding his feet toward me, “You coward. Come here and fight me. Fight me damn you! THAT’S AN ORDER!”

While I may have been petrified, I was also a veteran of the trenches. I had learned firsthand that those who do not move when they need to move will soon die. Unfortunately, I had not armed myself for the fusillade. There was a litter of rifles near-by, but none close enough for me to grab.

What did you do?

I did what I could. I picked up my drum, heaved it back over my head and flung it at him. It spun through the air and hit the commandant with a resounding bonk. This didn’t stop him, not in the slightest, but it did give me the chance to uproot my feet and flee into the orchard.

You ran away?

Yes. What else could I do?

Unfortunately - apple orchards - if there is no one around to pick the apples they will fall off the trees of their own accord, so the rows were slick with lumps of rotting fruit. Normally we kicked them aside to form paths, but in my panic I did not think of where I was heading and I stumbled into a row not normally traveled, one where the damned fruit were everywhere. I slipped on one, got up, ran a few feet and slipped on another. Down on all fours I remember looking back between my knees to see the commandant charging up the hill behind me, brandishing the shining steel of his saber in the air but also sliding about on the apples, scrambling forward like a three legged toad. I got up and began to run again but this time I caught my boot under a gnarled root sticking up from the ground. Pain flashed through my ankle and I spun through the air to land flat on my back. There I lay, watching the commandant catch up to me, rising like flood waters, cursing my very existence, demanding that I defend myself. I waved my hands before my face screaming for mercy.

“FIGHT ME OR DIE,” he shouted.

And then he found the bomb.

The bomb.

Well, I’m not sure what exactly it was. In 1918 it could have been anything. An unexploded artillery shell. A dropped mortar round. A landmine left by retreating Germans. It does not matter. The commandant stepped on it. There was a - Click - and the bomb went off with enough force to fling me twice over backwards. I remember my ears ringing endlessly and the whole world shimmering. There was a severed leg with a flaming boot tangled up in the gnarled branches of an apple tree and that was the last I ever saw of the commander.

But you did not return to your post.

No. I. I could not. I could not be the one to return to the farm and explain all that had happened in the orchard. I picked myself up and wandered off. I wandered into the forest. I wandered for days before my head would finally clear.

And yet you explain this to me now.

I have to. Every night sleep takes me back to that damned apple orchard, the magician, the firing line, running up the hill of rotten apples, the commandant driven mad, raging against me. No amount of alcohol will stop it. I was hoping that if I confessed, that if I begged for the army’s forgiveness, and atoned for my sins that maybe it would all just end.

Well, Monsieur. You will be happy to know that we have been examining your case and can say with some degree of certitude that the Armistice had been signed at least four hours before the events in the orchard. With the cessation of arms comes the cessation of duty. In light of all of this, the French Army is willing to forgive your dereliction providing you sign this small affidavit.

A contract?

Well, a lot of legalese if you ask me, but basically you confirm that the commandant was not of sound mind and had been operating of his own volition and without permission from the French army for any and all deeds committed at Canard Colère. Also that you will never speak of this again in any shape or form unless forced to by a court of law.

Take your time.

No Général. I am sorry, but I cannot sign this.

Why? The Commandant is dead. This is an honorary discharge. A clean slate. Sign it and go enjoy your life! Put your past behind you. That is what you want isn’t it?

Yes. But I am sorry. The Commandant may be dead, but I have another dream where he waits for me, sharpening his sword with a flaming brimstone, his one good green eye burning in the darkness with disgust. If he hears of this, I will burn for all eternity begging his forgiveness, and he will have none of it.

Come. Come. Monsieur. Hell is not a place. Hell is for children.

But how do you know?

Tell me. Honestly.

How do you know!
Death, Devil, Magician and Fool
You know what time of the year it is! 
The one time I ever seem to do anything with DA these days.

All Hallows Tale Time!…

This year we are tripping back in time to 1918 and the end of the war to end all wars (how'd that work out? hmm.) The bargain I struck for this entails...

Stipulation: Story must be told through an Unreliable Narrator.
Prompt: A character wants to atone for previous wrong-doing.

Both are in there, but I'm not going to ruin things by telling you what's what. I will tell you that I don't speak French and am not a scholar of WWI. If anything is historically inaccurate, repeat to yourself - it's just a Halloween story - or possibly an Armistice Day story (is that even a thing?)

Last but not least, some music to read by. Enjoy!…
Everyone's got an opinion on it.
Mine can be found over at my blog.…
The Aquabats Super Game
So yes! It is yet another RPG, although this is a quick one. You can read more about it on my blog over here.…

Does anyone know what category written games are supposed to go in here on DA?
There doesn't seem to be one.

Oh! And before you click off to go watch cat videos. Click this (the whole point of all of this really)...…

The Aquabats Kickstarter!!!


JD McDonnell
United States


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denlm Featured By Owner May 31, 2019
The Abandoned Writer appreciates the fave!
denlm Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2019
Thanks for saving The Clown-Nose Writer. Lord knows, he needs saving. LOL
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Edited Dec 22, 2018   Writer
Your blog is well done, and I agree about the wee hours of the day and creativity.
And thanks for collecting the photo. :D
BarbecuedIguana Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2018
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2018   Writer
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2018   Writer
Thanks again! :icongreensparklesplz:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2018   Writer
Thanks for the fave! :iconredsparklesplz:
TheWarOfTheRing Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2018  Student Writer
Thanks so much for the watch, and the fave :)
Memnalar Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Didn't we just have this conversation?

Watching Michael. Hope you guys stay safe.
BarbecuedIguana Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2018
It certainly feel like it.
I just spent the morning preparing for it, did not even need a checklist.
At least it will give me time to work on my halloween story.

Here we go again!
Roll Eyes 
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