Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Heroic Wordsmith Project

Posted: November 18, 2018 in Uncategorized

Many people have wanted to write a book at one point in their lives; whether it be a fantasy epic, a memoir, or a biography staring an exceptional family member. As a writer, I can not count how many times I’ve heard things like:

“I’ve got a story for you!”

OR

“Let me give you an idea for your next novel.”

Image result for have i got a story for you

Out of necessity, I have crafted a technique of re-directing these conversations on to the next subject. The truth of it is that most writers (myself included) don’t have enough time to capture and nurture all of the ideas and stories that they have running through their heads, let alone somebody else’s.

So, what happens to all of these ideas?

Do they fade away mere moments after the idea of their creation took place?

Do they fester inside of the creator’s head like a secret obsession?

Or do they become so huge that they can not be ignored, causing the creator to try sometimes, in vain, to get down on paper (or computer screen)?

Sadly, I think that the answer to all of these questions is a big fat YES.

I would be lying if I said that the thought of all these unused ideas didn’t bother me, in fact it is something that I think of so often that I have decided to do something about it.

Am I going to take on every piece of side work?

Use every idea that is offered to me in one of my fictional works?

Am I going to drop everything and write everyone else’s stories?

ABSOLUTELY NOT

BUT

I AM GOING TO GIVE THEM THE TOOLS TO WRITE IT THEMSELVES

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This is where the newest project from the desk of Jim T. Gammill comes in: The Heroic Wordsmith Project is something that will be highlighted and featured on this page as a resource to everybody that has wanted to create and didn’t know where to begin. The soul of this project is going to be address the fears and uncertainties that everyone has before beginning, creating, or sharing their creative works. will be covering exciting things like: story, pacing, outlining, and character development.

AND

The not so exciting things like grammar, punctuation, and literary devices/techniques.

So, rest assured that those unused ideas will no longer be doomed to fade, fester, or linger.

The Heroic Wordsmith Project is underway and aims to directly assist listeners in creating more HEROIC emails at work, HEROIC essays at school, and who knows maybe even a HEROIC best seller that would have remained otherwise unwritten.

Jimtgammill.com will be the hub of the Heroic Wordsmith Project so be on the lookout for more to come!

   Image result for happy writer

The Mirrors.jpg

 

The Mirrors

It has been a while since she left, but when I lie down to sleep I can still feel her next to me.

 I can smell her.

 I can hear her.

 But when I turn over,

to put a hand on her back,

 there is nothing,

 but the sheets and the air.

Sometimes I roll over to the spot she once occupied and sniff hungrily; in the secret hope that she would be there one day and the air would smell sweet and inviting.

The way that she once did.

I say sometimes, but it could more accurately be described as often, maybe even nightly. It’s fine though, because the ghost of her keeps me company, the life we shared, the kids we had, and the lives we were honored to be a part of. I can still hear the laughter in the hallways and see the hints of dancing shadows on the walls.

One night I awoke to find her next to me.

The image was something that I had been longing for, but it felt so wrong in the moment that it happened. My first instinct was to:

 Engulf her in my embrace.

To hold her close.

To never let her go again.

 But instead, I chose to watch her for a short while and try to remember what it used to feel like to have someone that I could call my own. I didn’t want to fall asleep, because I knew that it would only mean that the dream would come to an end.

A glimmer of light flashed in the corner of my eye. I ignored it and looked back at the woman sleeping next to me.

The light flashed once again, and I knew that it was useless to resist, I stood up from my bed and walked to the source of the light. I looked back at my sleeping partner and saw her form consumed by shadows.

 I smiled when I thought of her return.

 I frowned when I saw her leave yet again,

The mirrors were something different altogether, I walked into the bathroom area of my master bedroom and was taken aback when the doorway sealed behind me. Nothing but mirrors surrounded me and in them I saw not my own reflection, but images of people.

People that I knew.

People that I loved.

And some that I had never seen before.

I watched them doing things and saw that the people that I had known were all different somehow, some were thinner, others more muscular, while others had put on some weight. As I watched them I saw that they were all happy.

I felt mischievous.

Like a Peeping Tom.

Like someone that didn’t have a right to be watching.

And then it came.

I saw my wife.

The woman I had yearned to have by my side with another man.

He looked like me.

He was me.

But, on the other side of the mirror.

I saw her laughing.

I saw her loving him.

And realized that it was me that had left.

Me that had disconnected and gone away.

I watched the other people in the mirrors and saw the reflections of people that I knew as living souls.

They were the same but, better.

Happier.

I turned to go back to my wife and saw that the doorway was blocked by another mirror. I saw all the images behind me and realized that my desire for their happiness was stronger than the desire for my own.

I took one last glance over my shoulder at the images of all the lives that I might change.

I thought of how I could help them when I returned.

And then I smashed through the glass and crawled back into bed

With her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free ebook promotion!

Posted: April 7, 2018 in Uncategorized

Hey everyone,

Excuse the brevity of this post. I am out and about and am writing this on my cell phone, but I wanted to remind you all that Whispers of the Wakinyan is free on ebook this weekend.

I’ve also dsicounted the print copies for all of you old school book lovers like me.

Enjoy!

https://www.amazon.com/Jim-T.-Gammill/e/B06XDRCSYV

Hey everyone,

Let’s keep this party moving! Please enjoy chapter three of my novel, Whispers of the Wakinyan. Keep in mind that the full book is available at https://www.amazon.com/Jim-T.-Gammill/e/B06XDRCSYV and as always REVIEWS ARE APPRECIATED!

 

3

The late summer get together was a huge success. Joey, Les, and Frank had assembled prior to the delivery of the jump house so they could tell the delivery guys exactly where to put it. The two Latinos carrying the colorful folds of vinyl didn’t seem to care where they left it after they had received a small fan of neatly folded bills from Hank.

“Thanks guys. I really appreciate it, “Hank said as the two men squeezed through the narrow side gate of the yard.

The two dark men looked at Hank with wide eyes and empty expressions as he continued to try and spark up some polite banter, “Would you gentlemen like something to drink?”

The two men continued to smile and nod as they navigated the well kempt stone lined path on the side of the Gordon’s house. A look of realization lit Hank’s face, “Cervezas?”

The language of beer was one that all men understood. As the two workers rounded the corner, Joey tapped one of the men on the shoulder and pointed to the back corner of the yard. Les and Frank worked tirelessly with wide plastic rakes making sure that the grass was free of any obscured sharp objects.

“Bueno,” the lead man said. The two carried the folded jumper to the center of the area where Joey’s friends had been working and dropped it to the ground with a loud and leathery thud.

The three boys watched the workers leave through the side gate to get more equipment. As soon as the men had disappeared around the corner of the house, Les and Frank slapped each other a high five.

“I can’t believe that shit worked,” Frank said through a wide smile. He lifted his Mighty Ducks cap and tucked his long dirty blonde hair under the sweatband. He was the tallest of the three and he had the lean build of a high school athlete although he was just in middle school like the other boys.

Joey could no longer hear the scrape of Hank’s grill brush on the smoking wire rack, and when he looked over his shoulder toward the barbeque area he saw that his father had stepped inside. He breathed a sigh of relief, “Watch it, Frank. If my dad hears you cussing he’ll make you go home for sure.”

“Take it easy, man. I knew he was gone,” Frank fired back without missing a breath.

“Gentlemen, please don’t lose sight of what is really important here,” Les said in his best adult voice. He pointed a chubby finger up to the tall eucalyptus that loomed above. A fat braided rope hung from a thick horizontal branch and extended up the back yard slope. The boys had tucked the thing behind the rung of a wooden ladder that they had nailed directly into the trunk of the tree earlier.

Les’ freckled cheeks flexed as he smiled and the three friends laughed aloud.

Joey looked over his shoulder at the barbeque island once again and saw that Hank still hadn’t returned, “This is going to be pretty badass.”

Frank smirked and punched Joey in the arm, “damn straight.”

Addie sat on the white built-in bench beneath her bedroom window. She smiled when she saw her brother and his friends positioning the thick braided rope behind the tree at the top of the hill. She couldn’t wait to see which of the boys would attempt the daring swing first, she thought it might be Joey, but Frank had a way about always being the center of attention.

“Addie, honey aren’t you going to come downstairs? I talked to Sarah’s mom and they should be here any minute,” Theresa said from Addie’s pink-stenciled doorway.

The little girl brightened at the mention of her friend’s name, but she seemed to deflate as she jumped down from the bench and thudded across her lushly carpeted floor. Addie paused before she reached the doorway and looked back to the bench below the window. In the corner beneath the sill, she saw the glass eyes of her old favorite toy staring back at her.

“Do you think Sarah would think I was a baby if I brought Suzie down to play with us?” Addie asked in a voice that was even smaller than normal.

“You seem to be clinging to Suzie an awful lot since we’ve been home. Is everything okay, honey?”

“Yeah, she just makes me feel safe.”

Theresa looked at her daughter solemnly. The terror in the desert had left its mark on each member of the Gordon Family, but she knew that it must be even harder on the children. Worse yet, she had caught Addie sucking her thumb when she was looking out the window. The lightning fast movement of Addie’s arm when she had announced her presence in the room also suggested that Addie was aware of her regression. “I think that it would be great for you to bring Suzie down,” Theresa grabbed her daughter’s tiny hand and grimaced when she felt the cold wetness on Addie’s right thumb, “sometimes even adults need the comfort of an old friend like Suzie.”

Addie smiled, squeezed her mother’s hand, and snatched Suzie up in her arms. The doorbell chimed from below and Addie was off in a flash. Theresa moved to the side to allow her daughter past, and was instantly relieved when she saw the brightness and genuine excitement in Addie’s face. For the first time since they had returned from the trip she was a kid again, free of the weight and darkness that had befallen them.

Theresa trailed Addie down the stairs, but couldn’t keep up with Addie’s rapid descent. Addie threw the front door open and was delighted to see her friend Sarah and her mother, Cassidy, waiting for her.

“Hey, hun, are we in time for the party?” Cassidy asked with a fake southern accent and an animated look on her face.

Theresa approached a half-instant later, put an arm around Addie, and welcomed their newly arrived guests, “Just in time.”

Theresa was ecstatic that Cassidy could bring Sarah today and was hoping that her feeling of elation was not embarrassingly obvious to the other woman. She liked Cassidy. Not just because she was the mother of Addie’s best friend, but also because she felt like they had a good connection. Ever since college, Theresa Gordon was not the type to socialize and devoting her life to family did not offer her many opportunities to make new friends.

“Is the jumper here?” Sarah asked excitedly. “Come on!” Addie grabbed her friend’s hand and pushed past her mother. The two girls scampered toward the sliding glass door at the rear of the house.

Theresa guided Cassidy in, taking the woman’s sheer half-sleeve sweater from her and hanging it on the coat rack next to the door.

“You have anything in the kitchen for us big kids, Tessy?” Cassidy grinned.

“Wine?”

Cassidy laughed sweetly. “That’ll work.”

 

***

Theresa poured another glass of wine for herself and then reached over for Cassidy’s glass. She filled each almost to the brim and when she sat the bottle down on the counter it made the high and hollow sound that a mostly empty bottle makes upon contact with a countertop. When Theresa leaned back and placed her elbows on the countertop on the opposite side of the kitchen, the mood was darker. Heavier.

“Holy shit, Tessy,” Cassidy gasped. Her large blue eyes were open and alert; her respiration began to quicken, “he just died?”

Theresa’s eyes were wide also and she knew it wasn’t just from the wine. She found that telling the story of the Grand Canyon did feel good, but also got her emotions stirring. She looked outside the window to the back yard and could see the kids having a great time in the jump house at the rear of the yard. On the back patio just a dozen or so feet from the kitchen window, Hank stood in front of the grill, meticulously seasoning steak and chicken between swigs of his beer. She was surprised to notice the six or seven empties he had lined up neatly on the edge of the barbeque and sighed. In a way it made her feel better that she wasn’t the only one that needed to let some of this out. She was just glad to talk about what happened. She stole another glance at the line of empty bottles before answering, she would have to talk to Hank later to see how he was doing, he usually didn’t drink this much.

Theresa nodded, “the donkey too, that wasn’t the worst part though. I could hear them from around the corner. The canyon wall was in my way and all I could see was Hank trying to get back to the kids. When I saw that it wasn’t Joey or Addie that had gone over the side,” she interrupted herself with a long drink from her now half empty wine glass and then shook her head shamefully, “I was happy.”

Cassidy reached out and covered her friends hand with her own, “I can only imagine, hun,” Cassidy smiled a wide and warm smile lined with perfect teeth. She flipped her frosted hair to one side, walked around the counter, and pulled Theresa in for a hug.

“I was glad that he was dead,” Theresa said, tears rolling over her wine flushed cheeks. She had been keeping those words inside since that day in Arizona. Never in her life did she think that she would feel thankful that a person was dead, but now she was. Of course, if the disaster could have been averted completely that would have been preferable, but seeing the man’s body in place of that of her sweet Addie’s was a relief that she was ashamed of.  She glanced out the window and saw that the kids were still having fun and that Hank was still seasoning the food. She took a deep breath, turned to Cassidy, and began to sob.

***

            Joey, Frank, and Les sat in the back of the jump house watching the exchange between the women in the kitchen window. Addie and Sarah bounced and ran around the multi-colored inflatable, when the girls got too close to the back one of the boys would give them a shove back into the center. The whole dynamic resembled some type of back alley pit fight where the on-lookers would throw the contenders back into the fray if they got too close to the edge of the circle.

“What’s wrong with your mom, man?” Les asked.

Addie stopped jumping for a second waiting to hear her big brother’s response.

“Nothing. It was just a long trip I guess,” Joey lied.

Addie began jumping again, her light and pleasant face only temporarily darkened by the increasingly familiar shadow of worry.

“Are you sure man? I think she’s crying on that hot mom’s shoulder,” Frank said pointing at the kitchen window.

“That’s my mommy,” Sarah laughed, “her name is Cassidy.”

“Franky and Cassidy sitting in a tr—“Les started only to be cut off by a swift punch in the arm.

“What are you, five, bro?” Frank laughed.

Everyone laughed for a second. Joey was thankful for Sarah’s lighthearted interjection. He knew that he would tell the guys everything, but not now, and not in front of Addie. He thought that his little sister might be young enough to forget the whole thing if she was lucky. He wished that he could have that same luxury, but knew better. Just as Joey prepared himself to deliver another false response, his father’s voice interrupted the conversation.

“Time to eat, kids!” Hank called. He removed the meat from the grill, placed it on a large platter, and sat it on the side of the grill. He reached under the grill and turned off the propane tank before he went inside, “finish up and come on in”. Addie and Sarah grabbed each other’s hands and plopped down on the jumper, flat on their backs like a couple of kids about to make snow angels. The two girls slid across the vinyl and out of the slit in the netting.

Joey and his friends still lounged in the back of the jumper. They looked at each other with wide maniacal grins. This was the moment they had all been waiting for. Frank stood up and pulled up the netted mesh wall. Thread after nylon thread slid smoothly out of the tiny metal eyelets that lined the outer perimeter of the jumper. Frank was glad to see that Joey’s plan had worked, so glad in fact, that his frustration against Joey’s insistence that the threads were not to be cut or permanently damaged was starting to subside. The nylon threads would have been no match for his Swiss Army knife.

“It worked!” Les exclaimed.

Joey smiled, “Alright, we all have time to get one jump in before my parents come out yelling. By that time we’ll have the fact that we’re all still alive to argue that this is all perfectly safe.”

“Sounds good to me,” Frank yelled from half way up the hill. In the few seconds of conversation between Les and Joey, the tall boy had slid down from the jumper and covered some serious ground. Les jumped down to follow while Joey tucked the few remaining threads up onto the roof of the vinyl apparatus. Joey started up the hill, but took a moment to look back at the boys’ handy work. The entire back portion of the jumper that faced the slope was now wide open, and by the looks of it, could more than accommodate the extreme and heroic entrances of him and his friends.

“Hurry up Joey, before I go all Tarzan on you!” Frank laughed.

Just as Joey got to the top of the hill Frank sprinted a short ways and sprung off the side of the slope, clutching the rope tightly. Les and Joey looked on, mouths agape, Joey swore that he could hear the hiss of the rope through the still summer sky. Frank looked like a pirate or some swashbuckling avenger as his long hair whipped and whooshed from beneath his baseball cap.

“Incoming!” Frank bellowed as he let go of the rope and came rocketing into the waiting open mouth of the inflated landing zone. He landed with a loud leathery slap and the sound of his light boyish laughter reverberated up the slope. If Les and Joey had not been excited enough by the mere idea of the kickass rope descent, the idealistic and expert descent Frank had just made put them over the top.

The marching order had been determined as the boys had worked tirelessly throughout the afternoon, punishing their fingertips on the thin threads and the angular metal eyelets: Frank had already gone because it was his idea, Les was next up because he had untied most of the threads, and Joey was last because he had not let Frank chop the threads with his pocket knife. This last point was voted on unanimously by all three boys.

Les did not miss a beat, he was down the hill and received the rope on its second backswing which apexed at about half way down the slope.  He ran back to the top. Without speaking a word to Joey, Les took a couple of strides across the top of the slope and bounded off with the rope pulled tight to his chest. Frank hooted chuckles of approval from down below as Les swung down the hill in a wide arch. He had chosen to do a more rounded approach rather than the straight-in style that Frank had taken. Very cool.

Joey heard himself laughing, he knew he was having a great time, but he had not realized that he was laughing so hard that tears had started to slide down his cheeks. He also noticed something else, his mom and dad were looking out of the kitchen window. They were desperately scanning the side of the slope. It looked like his mom was trying to yell something, but no sound made it through the double glass panes of the window. Joey didn’t know for sure if they could see him since the setting sun was directly at his back, but he was sure that they could see the guys in the jumper and it was most likely the impact noise of one their jumps that originally drew them to the window.

He heard the sliding glass door skid along the tracks.

“Joey!” Theresa’s voice boomed over the hum of the jump house’s air pump. “Stop!”

Frank pretended not to hear or get caught up in Theresa’s fury. All he could think of was that all three of them had to complete the jump. He slid out the back of the jumper, grabbed the rope and sprinted up the hillside.

He passed the thick hairy braid to Joey and patted him on the back so hard that it may have crossed the line from pat to shove, “go man!”

Joey did. He clinched the rope tight to his chest opting for the more secure and level headed technique Les had employed than the extended arm wild man style that Frank had used. When Joey was half way down the slope, the wind pushing at his squinting face. He could still hear his mother yelling, but when he saw the terror that awaited him below he realized she wasn’t yelling “stop” anymore. The reality of her words sunk in just an instant before he made impact.

“Joey, it’s deflating!”

And it was.

Greetings faithful readers,

I am re-posting this as a refresher and will be following up with chapter two later this week. I hope that you all enjoy! I will be providing you all with at least 3 finished projects this year (two of which have kept me pretty busy lately!) and can’t wait to share them with you all.

Joey Gordon #2 is in the works and MAY be project #4 for 2018!

1

Joey Gordon would always remember the Grand Canyon. It was the first time he saw his parents act like they were truly in love; Henry Gordon, the tight-collared businessman instantly became Hank, the care-free athlete that his mother had fallen in love with. Likewise, Joey’s mother Theresa, whom he had just come to know by her pet name of Tessy, seemed different. Lighter. The weight of her suburban life and domestic obligations seemingly sucked into the open air of the vast Arizona desert.  Joey’s nose crinkled at the fruity pungent odor of his donkey, Paco, as he watched the serpentine twists of the Colorado River unwind beneath him. He glanced back at his sister, Addie, as she tried to re-lock her hands around her mount’s neck. She looked at Joey with sand streaked tears, seemingly etched into her young white cheeks.

“Joey! Joey, can you hear it?” Addie squealed.

The hard looking Mexican guiding Addie’s mule grimaced and pulled her mount back onto the narrow path. A pair of small chrome bells around the mule’s neck chimed as the man tugged at the animal’s tether. A couple of unnervingly large rocks dislodged themselves and tumbled down into the canyon. As if on the same wavelength, Joey and Addie broke eye contact and watched the rocks bounce and tumble down the steep side of the path and into the canyon.

“Did you hear it?” Addie asked again once the rocks had fallen completely out of sight.

“Hear what? All I heard was you crying,” Joey grimaced and patted his donkey’s side, “and maybe Paco farting.”

Addie smiled at this, but it didn’t last long. She craned her head as something seemed to whisper to her from the vastness of the canyon. She turned sharply away; her eyes darting rapidly down toward the river.

“There it is again! You have to hear it,” Addie pleaded.

Joey shook his head.

Heyoka! Heyoka,” She yelled.

The Mexican’s eyes widened. His head whipped to Addie, to make sure he had heard what he thought he had. His eyes fell on her tiny form just as her mule brayed and reeled back on its hind legs.

“Ay! Tranquilo! No te preocupes! Tranquilo!” The guide yelled. The large man wrapped his thick, brown fingers around the thin strap of leather tethered to the mule’s neck. He dug his feet into the soft dirt and pulled at the bucking animal with all of his might.

“Joey! Help,” Addie cried.

“Everything okay back there?” Hank yelled from a short distance up the trail.

The mule continued to buck and bray with such force that the Mexican lost his footing and began to slide into the canyon. Dust and rock began to pour over the edge of the trail like a tiny brown avalanche as the stout man clawed at the earth.

“Addie’s in trouble!”  Joey screamed. Up the trail, he could see his father trying to lower himself from his donkey against the protests of his own guide.

“It is not safe señor! There is no footing,” The vaquero pleaded.

“Daddy!” Addie’s eyes went wide as her guide’s weight pulled one of her mule’s front legs off the trail. The small girl unleashed an otherworldly scream as the bells on the animal’s collar jingled and jangled.

Joey looked up the trail again, desperate to see if his father had succeeded in dismounting his donkey. He had indeed, but now Hank had two strong hands on the shoulders of the animal trying to find the space for him to go under or around the thing. Joey could tell by his father’s face that the possibility of Hank moving around the animal was non-existent, “I can’t make it Joey. You have to get Addie!”

Joey looked at his sister as the rear leg of her mule went over the edge. Her screams seemed to drown out as the situation became eerily clear. His sister was going to die if he could not get to her.

“Hold on Addie!” Joey exclaimed.

Joey dismounted over the rear of his donkey as Hank tried desperately to find a way around his own lumbering animal. Joey took three wide strides and found himself staring into the eyes of the terrified mule as it teetered at a 45-degree angle over the edge of the canyon. The dangling Mexican reached for Joey’s ankle as he passed. Unconsciously, Joey kicked the man’s hand away with his foot and kept moving. He grabbed his sister’s slender leg just as the guide and the mule tottered over the edge completely and into the canyon.

Addie slipped from atop her mount, her left shoe caught in one of the leather stirrups and was ripped free from her foot. Joey looked on in amazement as it fell into the canyon with the animal and its guide. The falling man screamed and the animal brayed deafeningly, but to Joey and his sister, it seemed as if it had only lasted an instant. As the two children looked at the man and the mule fall into the depths of the canyon all sound seemed to disappear save for the ringing of the bells around the animal’s neck.

As the two neared the ground and the inevitable impact, Hank was upon them. He scooped Joey and Addie into his arms. His hold was strong and his heart was racing. Hank breathed heavily with his children held close as the echoes of screams and ringing bells were silenced with a thud.

***

The remainder of the descent into the canyon was long and mostly silent. After the three trail animals failed to catch up to Theresa, she had begun to grow uneasy. When her daughter’s screams echoed from around the canyon walls she had to be contained by her guide, a thin and wrinkled man named Fernando, for her own safety. Now that the family had regrouped, they had decided to make the remainder of the hike on foot.    “Are you kids alright?” Theresa asked not knowing what else to say.

Joey turned from his mother’s soft gaze. Addie clawed her tiny fingers into her father’s back and nodded quietly. Hank had been carrying her since the incident and the toll of the added weight was evident by his gradually slouching posture.

“Almost there,” Fernando yelled from up ahead.

Joey tried his best not to look in the direction of the accident, but couldn’t help noticing the growing cluster of birds over the area, their circles growing smaller and smaller as they closed in on the fresh offering to the desert earth. He wondered how all the birds in the area could be aware of the bodies already; he thought of shark week on the Discovery Channel and concluded that birds must have similar senses. A drop of blood in the water a mile away and the smell of death carried by dry desert wind seemed equally plausible to him.

The path began to grow wider and less steep as it opened into the riverbed at the bottom of the canyon. Hank put a hand on his wife’s shoulder and whispered something to her that the kids couldn’t hear. Theresa gave Hank a solemn look and guided Addie away as soon as the ground leveled.

Joey looked up at his father and was sad to notice that the lightheartedness and confidence of Hank had disappeared. The eyes that stared into his now belonged to the dry and familiar persona of Henry, the accountant. Joey thought that the ‘Hank’ persona would probably be more of a comfort now, but knew that his father’s cold and calculating personality had returned just in time. A man had died today and aside from his grandmother, who had died when he was younger than Addie, the man had been the first person he had ever met that died. At least that he had known of.

“You saved her, Joe,” Hank said between heavy breaths, “you could have been hurt son, killed even. Did you even think about that?”

Joey stared at his father pensively, then shook his head, “no. I mean, Addie would have fallen with them for sure. I didn’t even think of what might happen to me.”

Hank smiled down at Joey, “not very many people could have done what you did, Joe,” he placed a hand on his son’s back and got down on one knee to pull him into a bear hug.

Joey could feel fresh tears on his cheek as his father held him tight. He wasn’t sure if they were from his eyes, which had been burning since the accident, or his father’s, which he had noticed were squinted abnormally tight against the high desert sun. He could see his mother and sister over his father’s shoulder. They seemed to be having a similar talk, but Addie was crying softly into the dusty strap of their mother’s backpack. The long blond hair on her tiny child’s shoulders made the reality of her near-death experience tug at him. Now he was sure that at least some of the tears were his. He pulled away from his father and wiped his leaking eyes with the back of his hand.

“Would you do something for me, Dad?” Joey asked.

“Sure son. What is it?”

“Call me Joey. I don’t think I’m ready for Joe yet.”

“You got it,” Hank smiled, messed Joey’s hair, and guided him with a strong hand back toward the group.

The vaqueros looked at the white family they had led into the canyon with expressions of subdued terror. The guide for Joey’s mount had been a mostly silent man, seemingly solid of mind. The death of one of his partners had begun to sink in and the guide began to mumble almost incoherently, “Ay, Fernando. Heyoka. The little one said she heard Heyoka!”

Fernando looked at his young, strong browed companion. Wrinkles of concern clawed out of the corners of his eyes like deep creases in aged leather, “What are you saying?”

Heyoka. The trickster,” The guide was cut short by Fernando’s darting eyes. The white woman, Theresa, and the little girl were approaching.

Un memento, sera,” Fernando said with a bright and friendly twinkle in his eye. The twinkle disappeared just as quickly as he hunkered down to talk to his companion, “even if she did hear it, the trickster would be their problem. Not ours.”

“Excuse me,” Theresa said mousily as she approached the two men, “what are we going to do now?”

The men looked at her and then at Addie. Her tiny, tear-streaked face wore an expression that was entirely out of place. It shown with a wisdom and knowledge that few ever experienced. The young guide knew when he looked upon Addie that the bells she had heard had been more than the rusty set pulled taught around the pack animal’s neck. Based on Fernando’s grim scowl, he knew too.

A bird squealed from above. Not the normal high pitched exclamation, but a low rhythmic tap like the muffled laughter of a small hyena. Theresa looked up and shielded her eyes against the harsh desert sun. Flares of lights came in and out of view as one of the large scavenging birds cast a thousand shadows on the earth around them. Theresa stared at the animal, which sat suspended in the unseen fingers of the wind. Addie reached out and grabbed Fernando’s hanging and leathery hand. The man looked down at the small girl. She was no longer crying. She was somber now, almost supernaturally so. Joey’s little sister whispered the one word that could make the hard man unravel.

Heyoka.”

 

***

          Hank smiled down at Joey as they took step after step on the cracked earth of the Colorado River bank. The pair wordlessly navigated around the sparse green shrubs that shot out of the dry fissures like rigid serpents. The echo of odd, birdlike laughter resonated around them and offset the otherwise serene desert silence.

A commotion rose up from where the others were huddled and then the mock peacefulness that can only be observed in the wake of tragedy was shattered. And when Theresa started to scream, Hank knew that any sliver of peace and inner well-being that had survived within his psyche was about to be just as dead as the man on the bottom of the canyon.

“Put her down!” Theresa screeched, “Hank, he has Addie!”

Hank blinked his eyes in disbelief when he saw Fernando, the senior guide, scoop his daughter up in his sweaty arms and sprint into the desert. It happened so swiftly that Theresa could only scream and claw reflexively at the space that the two had occupied just seconds before. Hank realized that shock had found its way into him as well. For an instant, all that he could do was look upon the pair with disbelief. Primal instincts took hold of him and before he could notice the pulse of adrenaline in his chest, he was in pursuit.

Joey stared on with dumbfounded eyes. His father was running like he had never seen him before, dust exploded from the dry topsoil with each stride. The vaquero moved to block Hank gibbering in Spanish so quickly that no one could possibly understand what he was saying. The vaquero reached out with his thin, but muscular arms and latched onto the now seething Hank Gordon.

“Get the hell off of me!” Hank screamed.

“Señor, it is the only way!” the Vaquero replied, “Fernando knows how to help her.”

This last comment seemed to hit Hank like a slap in the face, “help Addie?” Rage twisted his stoic accountant-like features as Theresa approached the two from behind, “no one is going to be able to help you if you don’t let go of me!”

The vaquero was surprised at Hank’s transformation and the look on Theresa’s face when her husband threw the slender man to the ground would suggest that she was too. Hank ran after Fernando and Addie, who ran in a chaotic zig-zag pattern through the desert, cutting through shrubs and cacti.

Joey’s heart sank when he saw where the man was taking his little sister. The shadows of the carrion birds danced across his young face as the sun began to disappear over the top edge of the canyon. Joey couldn’t feel his legs, but before he knew it, he was pumping them as fast as he could.

He thought of how Addie had squeezed his neck after he had saved her, along with the sweet smell of her sweat and tears as they watched the man and the animal flail to the bottom of the canyon. When he thought of her scream he remembered the first time that he was allowed to hold her as an infant. Sometimes, when she was upset he was the only person that could calm her, sometimes with a goofy face and sometimes with just the love she felt from him. It was this same love that made him run even faster.

Theresa was just beginning to come out of her stupor and stumble after Hank and Fernando as Joey shot by her like a dust fueled rocket, “Joey!”

“We have to get Addie!” Joey huffed, “I know where he’s taking her.”          Fernando slowed when he approached the body of his dead friend. He put Addie down, but she did not run. Her tiny eyes were transfixed on the twisted biomass on the ground before her. She instinctively reached a hand up to Fernando and the old man took it.

Fernando approached with trepidation. Addie followed him without hesitation, although all reasonable parts of her being were gripped in pure terror. Fernando gasped when he saw the earth beneath the bodies. His wrinkled fingers synched around the puffy flesh of Addie’s hand, “Oh Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds, and whose breath gives life to all the world. Hear me.”

Hank, Joey, and Theresa approached the bizarre scene rapidly and grew more and more uncertain as they came closer to Fernando and Addie. Hank felt his fists unclench and could feel the burn of the little crescent wounds that his fingernails had made in the soft flesh of his palms. He wondered how the rage that had overtaken him could abate so quickly. Was it because he had expected to find the man assaulting his daughter? Did he expect Addie to be crying or screaming? He didn’t know for sure, but what he did know was that he did not expect to find his daughter staring at this unnatural tableau of death and holding the hand of a wrinkled old stranger.

“Addie, come here, honey!” Hank commanded.

She let go of Fernando’s hand and the aged mass of gnarled bones and leathery skin thudded dully on the man’s faded denim pants. Hank’s daughter approached him with a cold blank expression and wordlessly clawed her way into his embrace. She wrapped her thin arms around his neck and sat her head on his heaving chest like she had so many times before to be tucked into bed or after having fallen asleep in the back of the family van during a long trip. This time was different somehow, he pulled Addie close to him and planted tiny kisses on her forehead. The air was quiet enough to allow Hank’s accountant mind to begin to rationalize the scene until Theresa began to scream.

***

The family stood stone-faced and transfixed on the broken bodies of the man and the pack mule. Fear, among other emotions, clawed at their unconscious while a more avert feeling of loss pulled at the Gordon family and the remaining tour guides. Theresa opened her mouth to talk, but nothing came out. Addie pushed and buried her head into her father’s chest so hard that Hank would later notice that the area was sore to the touch. Joey could not turn away from the terrible scene that had unfolded upon the cracked earth of the river’s shoulder even though he tried with all of his mental faculties. He knew he should turn away, or at least close his young eyes, but he couldn’t and neither could anyone else except for Addie.

It was not the death itself that unsettled them, but the gory gestalt that had spread across the dry earth. The guide’s head seemed to have popped, his right arm projected straight above his supine body. And the blood. Oh God, the blood. Joey looked at the crimson streamlets and noticed that they had formed a pattern: the guide had ended up mounted on the mule. Blood trimmed horns protruded from the crown of the man’s head. From the corpse’s broken right arm came a long spray of arterial blood, seemingly from the point where the hand meets the wrist.

Joey’s eyes focused on how the blood seemed to explode from the loosely balled fist. It looked like a spear. The man and the mule looked like some terrible demon riding toward an ancient battlefield.

Theresa covered her son’s eyes when she realized that he was taking in the same horrible scene that had rendered her speechless. Of course, the protective gesture came too late, the image had already etched itself into Joey’s mind. He would dream of demons for the rest of his life; the one he had seen depicted by death on the reddish brown Arizona soil, and the twisted horror that would follow his family back to California.

If you have not picked up a copy yet, check it out my kindle and print editions at:

Greetings,

As we all prepare for Halloween, media seems to focus on tales of the dark and the macabre. Hollywood puts out its best nail biters and inevitably one of the bigger names in horror fiction releases a new book or maybe an anthology.

To remain consistant with the Halloween spirit I am posting “What if he Comes Back,” a 2000 word piece of (semi) flash fiction for your enjoyment.

If you do enjoy it, please share and repost to your heart’s content.

If you REALLY enjoy it, please check out my other books on amazon.

Image result for black eyed children

What if He Comes Back?

by Jim T. Gammill

Susan could not walk to the end of her upstairs hallway. She tried to brave the walk at least once a day, but every time her feet would grow heavy, the weight of emotions and regret holding her in place like an anchor made of steel and rusted in tears. The room had belonged to her son, Michael. She called him her son now because the boy’s father, David, had left three months after Michael had gone missing.

“I can’t stand to be here. To be reminded,” David had told her, “maybe we should move.”

“What if he comes back?” Susan had replied.

Susan still remembered the conversation like it was yesterday. It was in the kitchen and she was making coffee, David was getting ready for the day; programmed and mindless like lemmings or hollow robots. She remembered the look on David’s face when she had said the words, a twisted expression that conveyed disgust, disbelief, and pity.

Susan had made the decision in that moment. She would not be silently reprimanded for having hope.

“You can’t be serious,” David said.

“I am,” Susan replied, “and if you don’t think he will, maybe you should leave.”

David did leave. He didn’t even take his things, just the clothes on his back, his cell phone, and the spare car, a ‘94 Honda. The couple hadn’t spoken since, their only correspondence through legal documents and certified mail. Some for separation and some for divorce.

The house was empty now. Save for memories and ghosts. The son that left, but never died and the man that died inside and then left. Susan wondered sometimes if Michael had died and if they had found a body if it would have made a difference. The finality it would have given them. The closure. It had been nearly two years now and the wounds on Susan’s heart weren’t necessarily fresh, but open and festering.

Susan awoke one morning and was nearly convinced that she could hear Michael and David talking downstairs. She closed her eyes and wished that it could be true. That her family could be home. Be real. She knew today wouldn’t be any different, she would hear the voices until the first landing on the stairs and then the voices would muffle, quiet, and then disappear altogether.

Day after day Susan would wander through the emptiness, work at the virtual office on her computer, and make the occasional phone call. She had taken a job as a transaction coordinator for a local real estate firm. She liked the job for the obvious reason, it allowed her to work from home, but also it made her feel good to help people get into their new homes. She would think often of how many of the transactions she processed were for newly-weds, young lovebirds, or expectant parents. She thought of how many women had been carried over the thresholds by their husbands and how many kids got to ride their bicycles into quiet suburban cul-de-sacs, simultaneously enjoying the safety of the less trafficked streets and proclaiming their presence to all the other kids in the neighborhood.

Michael used to love to ride his bike. He was getting pretty good at it too. A group of some older kids had made a wooden ramp and Susan would watch Michael from the window as he would make pass after pass down the sidewalk. She always wondered if he was trying to build up the courage to talk to the other kids or if he was just waiting for an invitation. After about a week he had gotten one and he did it. He made the jump flawlessly and one of the older boys had cheered, ran up, and gave him a high-five. Susan could see the smile on her son’s face from the window that day and to this day she could see it again anytime she closed her eyes.

After Michael went missing, the neighborhood seemed to have withered and died the same way her marriage had. For the first couple of days after his disappearance the neighborhood kids would still play in sporadic bursts, but after a week or two, the neighborhood was a ghost town when it came to anyone under 20. No bicycles. No playing. No high fives.

Susan found that the best way to adapt to her new solitude was routine. After the end of her virtual work day at 6pm, she would make herself a frozen dinner. She had loved to cook, but that joy had left her long ago, shortly preceded by her son and then her husband. She would eat her dinner with something mundane playing on the television. Sometimes a game show, a matchmaking show, and occasionally just the news. She would look at the television as she ate and become more and more disconnected. Trying not to remember what it had been like when they had all eaten together at the table.

One Tuesday night she finished her dinner and instead of moving to the next phase of her routine, which entailed reading a book in bed until she fell asleep, she decided to continue watching television. The Bachelor was on and Susan found herself enthralled by the drama. The desperate people whose worlds seemed to spin in turmoil based on the whim or affection of a stranger.

She watched in fascination at first, but soon found herself lost in thought. Was this what pain was supposed to look like? Desperate and disconnected. Happening to someone else? An avatar of a person on a soundstage? Her eyes had grown heavy and just as the desperate female suitors were called in for judgment, consciousness left her.

“You have been chosen,” Susan heard the television drone from somewhere simultaneously inside of her head and far far away.

She slept comfortably on the couch until a noise woke her.

Knocking.

Susan searched the cushions of the couch and found the remote. She turned off the television and groggily wondered how she had been able to sleep in the first place with the thing turned up so loud.

Knocking.

Susan gasped despite herself and looked nervously around the darkness of her living room. She tried to make sense of what the noise could be. Where it could be coming from.

Knocking.

She turned her head toward the front door and could almost see the vibration of the last knock as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. She stood up and could feel her knees shaking as she rounded the corner of the sofa and approached the door. She stood for a moment, her toes teetering on the threshold like a diver ready to leap for a high dive.

Knocking.

Susan jumped. A scream fought to escape, but instead sat immobile and heavy in her chest.

She looked through the peephole and saw a small shadow.

A woman?

A small man?

No.

A child.

“Who is it?” Susan forced herself to ask.

Through the peephole, she could see the visitor perk up at the sound of her voice. The child moved its head closer to the door.

“May I come in?” The visitor said.

Susan started to unlock the door but thought better of it. She looked across her living room and saw that the digital clock on the cable box read 3:33.

“Where are your parents?”

The visitor cringed at the question, “gone. Just invite me in.”

Susan squinted through the peephole, desperate to see more of her late night visitor. She wanted to help, but something about the child at the door didn’t feel right. A sense of dread grew inside of her. Something dark. Something primal.

She watched the thing and noticed that is displayed no signs of desperation. No anticipation of her opening the door. Her eye still pressed to the peephole, she reached over to the light switch and flicked the porch light on.

The visitor recoiled. For an instant, it looked straight at Susan through the tiny peephole. She gasped when she saw the things face. It was a child, but its skin was pale and where its eyes should have been there were two large and glassy black orbs. Before Susan could react, the thing hissed like a vampire from an old movie and dove onto the sidewalk. She watched in disbelief as the child-thing scurried into the darkness on all fours, its knee and elbow joints jutting away from its body unnatural angles.

Susan gasped for air and when she felt a cold wetness on her cheek, she realized that she was crying. She felt as if something terrible had just happened to her. Some type of trespass. She tried to control her body, or at least to stop shaking. She walked up the stairs almost mechanically, moving not under the control of her mind, but of pure reflex or memory. She reached the top of the stairs and was shocked when she turned toward the room at the end of the hall that she would not enter. She approached the door to Michael’s room and opened it.

The space was just as he had left it months ago, maybe even a year now. She had felt so hollow since he had gone missing and found little import in the idea of time. She walked to his bed and laid down on it.

“What am I doing?” She pondered aloud, “am I losing my mind?”

She pulled the pillow to her nose and wept when she smelled the familiar scent of her son. Unconsciously, she curled into a ball and squeezed the pillow tight into her chest. The sorrow and the helplessness were too much. The remnants of her sanity leaked from her as freely as the tears on the cartoon pillowcase. Between her sobs, she heard something.

Knocking.

Susan got up and began to walk back to the front door, uncertain what she would do if the face of the child-thing was there to greet her through the peephole. As she neared the threshold of Michael’s room, she heard something else.

Knocking.

Not from the door, but from the bedroom window.

She paused and felt a rage growing inside. The thing could trespass against her house, but not here. Not Michael’s room; it was all she had left of him. She stomped across her son’s room and threw open the curtains.

Michael stared back at her through large black eyes. Everything about him looked the same save for the eyes.

“Michael!” Susan screamed.

“Invite me in, Mom,” Michael asked in the low sweet voice that she had come to miss so much.

The feeling of wrongness was back again, but she pushed through it. She reached for the window’s thumb-lock and slid the window open. She stepped back a few steps into the center of the room to allow her son room to drop down from the ledge.

He did and when his feet hit the ground, he rushed her. She could feel his arms embrace her as she wept tears of joy and fear.

“Come in!” Michael yelled.

From over her son’s shoulder, she could see others pouring through the open window, one with long hair, one with a hooded sweatshirt, and then the original visitor from the front door. She could feel the embrace growing stronger as each of the children approached her and Michael and wrapped their arms around them as well. She fell to her knees and then even further.

The embrace had gone quickly from comforting to crushing.

She struggled a little but then gave into it.

Susan found that she could not draw in another breath. She could feel the darkness closing in on her mind and managed to squirm enough to take one last deep breath. It wasn’t for air, but to breath in the scent of her missing son. Her Michael.

She looked into the black eyes of the thing that had been her son and smiled.

“I knew you would come back.”

Hello faithful readers,

Some time that has elapsed since my last post, but I have been working on some exciting projects!

These include:

a graphically enhanced novelette

a follow-up (in spirit at least) to my hit novelette, Not Only the Dea

some outline work on a new hardcore horror screenplay.

Between projects I love to produce some “one-offs” or random short stories when I am in the editing process on a longer work. I decided to share one with you all and have several more if you guys show me some love by sharing this post!

Either way, I hope you enjoy Just What the Doctor Ordered, a 700 word piece of FLASH FICTION.

Just What the Doctor Ordered

by Jim T. Gammill

“The tests came back negative, Mr. Stevens,” Dr. Korrigan said, his clipboard angled to protect its secrets.

“That’s impossible,” Stevens replied, “No pauses? Anything?”

Dr. Korrigan offered Stevens a condescending glance over his glasses.

“Most people would be happy to not have sleep apnea, Mr. Stevens,” Korrigan began. He gave the clipboard another look, “your vitals are fine. Levels are nearly perfect.”

Stevens wiped cold sweat from his brow.

“I just want to know why this keeps happening,” Stevens started as he shook his head and massaged one of the dark circles beneath his eyes, “why they keep coming!”

The condescending glance softened when Korrigan raised his bushy eyebrows.

“Why who keeps coming?” Korrigan asked, interested.

“Never mind,” Stevens protested.

Korrigan smiled.

Stevens sensed a welcoming softness in Korrigan’s demeanor. A hint of humanity.

“Well,” Stevens relented, “sometimes it’s a woman and sometimes just a man in a hat.”

“And when do they come?” Korrigan asked, his pen scratching incessantly on the clipboard.

“In the middle of the night.”

Korrigan nodded.

“Have you been taking any prescription drugs?”

Stevens shook his head.

“Any,” Korrigan started as he examined Stevens, “substance abuse?”

“No,” Stevens snapped, “you said yourself, my levels are perfect!”

“One can never be too certain,” Korrigan droned as he scribbled something else, “I’m calling in a prescription for you.”

“What is it?”

“Not to sound too cliché, Mr. Stevens, but I believe it’s just what the doctor ordered.”

Stevens left the office in a daze, he wasn’t sure why he felt the way he did, but something wasn’t right. He opened the door more quickly than he had meant to and heard something thud on the hard laminate floor of the office.

He turned to see what had fallen and was surprised to see that it wasn’t a pamphlet or a cup full of tongue depressors, but something unexpected and out of place. Stevens caught a brief glimpse of a wide brimmed hat on the floor, but before he could think anymore of the thing Dr. Korrigan quickly moved across the room and slammed the office door.

Stevens barely remembered his trip to the pharmacy or the drive home.

Later, Stevens sat alone in his apartment. He ate a sandwich and drank a beer that had grown warm. Sometime between sitting down to eat and the present moment, he had lost himself. Lost time. Like insomniacs tend to do.

“But, if you act now, we’ll double your order!” the television blared.

Stevens searched for the remote and hit the power button. Again, time had escaped him. He sat in the darkness of the room, picked up his prescription bottle from the table, and knocked an oblong pill into his palm.

He paused for an instant and then smirked.

“If I act now, I can double my order,” Stevens snickered as he shook out another pill.

The warm beer tasted terrible, but Stevens could feel himself relax the second it hit his throat. Groggily, he made his way to his bedroom.

Hours later his eyelids began to flutter.

Stevens felt like his body was in water.

Not sinking.

Not floating.

Just there.

A feeling that had become familiar.

He prepared himself.

Opened his eyes.

The woman was there. Her skeletal face half hidden in shadow. She leaned over Stevens and breathed in his odor like the sweetest of air. The wetness of her tongue made him cringe as she dragged it along his cheek.

Stevens tried to move his arms. Nothing.

He had become accustomed to this terror. This succubus.

From the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of the man in the hat. Stevens could feel his heart begin to pound.

He tried to scream. To murmur. Anything.

“The patient is ready for delivery,” a familiar voice proclaimed.

Stevens’ eyes searched desperately for the source of the voice and saw the hat man’s face as light filled his room. It was Dr. Korrigan, but his presence tonight was not one of benevolence.

“Take him.”

Numerous shadows surrounded Stevens. They looked like short men with large heads and the last things he felt were their slender hands sliding beneath him and lifting him from his bed.