Sunday, April 15, 2012

County Line Crash: Part Three

Here it is, the third and final part of the story. Please read parts One and Two first if you haven't already. Enjoy.

It watched her from just beyond the reach of the car lights. For how long, the deputy couldn’t say. Her arms, her legs, lay loose, seemingly detached, and unable to be moved in any position or direction along with her head. Her only option was to stare into the trees and their casted shadows, lines of intersecting black, which hid the wounded creature from view – though she caught flickers of shiny hard-skin and twitching appendages jutting briefly from the cross-stitch forest pattern.
Remaining wide awake despite the grievous injury on her neck, dripping thick blood onto the road near her face, Doris took to counting the seconds gone past in her head, using the rhythm of the running engine while she waited for pain and for death – though neither came. The poison in her veins, she soon realized, was meant only to hold her immobile while the giant insect took its time devouring her as it did that emptied buck.
Deputy Moors then began to wonder if and when the centipede would strike again, wondering why it lurked so tentatively as if it were afraid. Her gun lay useless some feet away from her ungrasping hand, tossed away in the struggle. Were it in her hand, her finger still clenched around the trigger, it would lie just as futily. So as the seconds ticked on, the deputy couldn’t help but begin to think that it was actually that little cold-then-hot metal thing which caused such an unwelcome hurt that scared the insect away.
If she could have laughed she would have. Stupid bug brain, too dumb to understand what hit it, too smart to disregard safety for a meal. She could hear it, skittering around in the crackling ground cover, click-click-click. Moving like a wave of fluid, the curve of its body rose and fell now close to the roadside, giving Doris a sense of its full length. Panicked heat then emanated from her mind when she spied the hundred-plus legs inside the foliage gaps, remember the sickening feel of them against her own body, groping and holding. Count the seconds, just keep counting, one thousand seven hundred fifty-three and counting, though who could be sure anymore.
At roughly one thousand eight hundred ninety-seven, the marsh turned red and blue, big circles of alternating color painting the scenery, exposing the hideous hidden monster in brief intervals. From above her head tires rolled up close and car doors opened then slammed, boots ran on pavement and hushed voices spoke in heavy, short tones.
“Shit, shit, shit.”
“Son of a bitch.”
“Didn’t I tell you? Knew I heard shots.”
“Looks like she got it on the neck, shit, goddamn that’s a lot of blood.”
“Don’t think you should move her, could be paralyzed.”
“You know how long it’s gonna take for an ambulance to get out here? Middle of fucking nowhere at three in the goddamn morning? She’ll bleed right out by then.”
“Calling it in anyway, meet halfway maybe.”
“Alright, alright, help me get her in the back.”          

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pain for the Flushed

This is for the lost ideas.
For the thoughts so brilliant in our heads,
Dead on the page, lumpy,
Poke with a stick to see if it moves 
But just lifeless.

A love letter to beautiful lines of prose
Stuck ugly in the wrong story,
In the wrong paragraph, wrong sentence.
So garish is it standing awkward,
All dressed up to the wrong party.

Ceremony for the dearly departed,
Ripped tearfully from existence,
Flushed from the bowl
To spiral fast and faraway through
Vanished avenues.

And to every thought and plan too ambitious to stand upright, every schemer not skilled yet enough to push life into vision, every dreamer too stuck scared straight to put a foot onto firm land - this is for them.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

County Line Crash: Part Two

Continued from Part One. Thank you for your support and feedback, as always.

“The man was straight up O-V-W-I, deputy.” Said Officer Robins, the smooth-faced state policeman, - call me Jeremy, he said - to the deputy, his face flashing multi-colored, the narrow road now crowded with massive towing vehicles tearing at the immobile truck and trailer, police car backseat holding the intoxicated and silently raving driver. 

“I figured as much,” Deputy Moors replied, deflated curls of graying auburn hair sticking matted against her forehead, “he’s a bit on the belligerent side if you haven’t noticed.”
“Oh, most definitely noted,” the young officer smiled, mouth of large white teeth. The deputy smiled back, feeling her face flush – fine looking black boy, she thought, if only I were fifteen…no, ten years younger I would – as his partner, older and broad-shouldered man, came up the road from back where their squad car sat once the drunken trucker was secured.
“Man, you see the back of that cab?” the older officer, Sergeant Gomez was his name, asked, coming up to put a hard-landing hand on Robins’ shoulder. “Musta been like fifty bottles rollin’ ‘round back there.” Out stuck that same large hand, rough and dry, to the deputy, “Thanks deputy, think we got things ‘bout covered here now.”

She took that hand, hard grip and a thin smile from the man looking squinted in her direction. That was the signal, the sign, for ‘get gone’, it was now time for the big boys to work so run along girl, run along and go on keeping them back roads safe. And the two turned, and in that moment the deputy heard another noise carried in on the wind, another animal maybe, but something out of place for certain, far away and quiet. The two officers had hardly flinched though, ignoring it if they even heard a thing, laughing quietly among themselves, shrinking silhouettes walking away.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Laminar Flow: A Review

This is a review of "Laminar Flow", Book 1 in "The Book of Drachma" series, by author Timothy H. Cook.

From the back cover: What does being a doctor really feel like? What is it like to get called out in the middle of the night to care for a desperately ill patient, to be the one everyone depends on? Bob Gilsen knows only too well. And what does a fifteenth century physician, who gets called out in the middle of the night in winter, possibly have to offer his patient? This is the beginning of "The Book of Drachma", a novel of medicine, murder, fantasy, and self-discovery, set in two times and places.


I will preface this review by saying that my opinion of this novel is not without bias, as the author is a good friend of mine and I have been following the creation and publication of this series for more than a year now. That being said, this is work that I would categorize as being in a class of its own, as I have yet to read another or hear of a medical-fantasy written with such conviction in regards to the world of medicine while also presenting a deep and well-crafted world of characters and mythologies.

Doctor Robert Gilsen is a man stretched to his limit, doing what he loves on a day to day basis but perhaps doing too much of it, as he hardly has time for much else in his life aside from attending to his patients. Meanwhile, in another place, an ocean away and hundreds of years in the past, a plague is besieging a small island of Britain, one that strikes seemingly without reason and without cure.

Roughly the first half of Laminar Flow deals with the juxtaposition between these two times, modern and middle age, between two doctors with incredibly different sets of circumstance and practices yet a common strength: a strong, undeniable desire to heal. We, the readers, are given hints as to the link between these two worlds that seem so disconnected as each chapter unravels, the storylines slowly bleeding into one another. A turning point is reached (as I said roughly at the halfway mark) and it is here that, in my opinion, the true meat of "The Book of Drachma" epic begins.

Until that point, we are in character development mode, receiving an in-depth look into the life and struggles of Doctor Bob and learning the ins and outs of fifteenth century Shepperton. What's most striking in these early chapters is the attention to medical accuracy in terms of language and terms used, fast-moving jargon implemented by the characters that at times can perhaps be overwhelming to the layman. However, this does not deter from the drama. If anything, the author's real-life experience as a doctor for several decades adds to the credibility of the in-story action, providing solid ground on what would otherwise be muddled scenes of vague reference and ill-informed descriptions by a lay fiction writer.

This is the strength and perhaps a shortcoming. For while I said that the medical terminology does not take away from the story flow, I feel that some readers may be put out by these scenes. Really though, shortcoming is too harsh a word, for it's not the text's fault that many of today's readers prefer the easily digestible over a work that requires a little attention and concentration to be enjoyed.

Sadly, I must point out that the book contains a number of typos that should have been cleaned up during the editing process. Personally, these were not enough to draw me out of the fiction, but understandably, for some readers, this might be a deal breaker. I am not, however, reviewing the editing job done by the publisher, but the work of the author.

So I will say, without giving away too much of the plot, that though this may not be the book for everyone, it presents a great read for those looking for the unconventional adventure tale, for heroes that rely on wits and knowledge over swordsmanship or pure strength, for fantasy that doesn't place the strangeness of its setting over the realism of its characters, this is most definitely the book for you. Even now as I type this, I realize that there are so many varied plot lines forming, evolving, and intertwining thoughout this novel that it would be impossible to properly summarize the myriad of events and unfoldings that take place between the two covers.

Laminar Flow can be purchased as a paperback directly from Tate Publishing, or through Amazon.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

County Line Crash: Part One

Dark, too damn dark to drive – Deputy Doris Moors flipped on the squad car’s brights but the black road just seemed to swell around the whitened points of light, strangling them for trying to grow. Never used to trouble her, patrolling the roads at night, the absence of any sort of illumination save her own gave the deputy peace, made her feel like she was a vessel of safety in a wild world, protected by her cocoon of gasoline humming and powerful cutting headlights. That was before her sight started going down the toilet – what she’d mutter nearly every time the sergeant put her on the graveyard beat to herself, alone in the car, hardly able to see much more than the spot of road twenty feet in front of her bumper.
Still, Deputy Moors knew exactly where she was, knew the roads by their sound and their shape, name and number of any she could recite just by listening to the sound of tire on tar or gravel or dirt as it may be. She knew where this road would be crossing the river, where the train tracks were, and even without the smell, she knew she was driving right along the old Van Hoosen dairy farm from catching the outlines of the wooden fence beyond the ditch out of her eye corner. It wasn’t the road she was worried about seeing so much as the things on it, that got on It – flashing bits of paired glowings watching steady from the tall grasses and half-grown fields.
Lack of a moon only made the situation worse with heavy rolling clouds turned sky and ground indistinguishable from one another. All it would take would be a deer to come bounding now stupid and skittish out of the tree cover to bring about a crash. Deputy Moors had seen enough of it to know what one well placed buck, hell even a young doe, could do to a smaller vehicle with a panicked, inexperienced driver commanding it. No, she wasn’t inexperienced – almost twenty six years patrolling, and more than that operating a motor vehicle, the deputy wasn’t without skill – but her reactions weren’t what they once were. Gripping the wheel with hands aching just slightly – pain pills weren’t soothing as they once did – she glared into the dark, trying as she might to clear away the fogginess.