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Dec 26, 2011

Vodka Sauce Recipe? Da, Comrade!

Happy day after Christmas all! I hope your holidays are going swimmingly. If so good deal. If not, then perhaps a little good food will put that pep back in your step. Well ok, that might be over simplifying things a bit...but hey, I’m just a writer not a psychoanalyst.

So as I promised during the intro to the Teaser 2 for Bigfoot Hunters (which if you haven’t read yet...go do so! No Vodka Sauce for you until then! I’ll wait. :) , here, as a sequel of sorts to my Chili Recipe, is my recipe for Vodka Sauce (insert riotous applause).

Fortunately, unlike my Chili recipe, this isn’t an all day affair. You can prepare this and be eating in about a half-hour. It’s a nice simple recipe, really hard to screw up unless you’re a total incompetent and if you are then chances are you’re still sitting there trying to find the On switch of your PC rather than reading this.

Oh as an aside, a big apology for the pictures for this one. I stupidly forgot to take pictures until after the fact. Little things like major holidays tend to get in the way of things like clear thinking. Oh well, it's overrated anyway. Now, without further ado...

Ingredients:

Quick note: All spices listed below are approximations. Please adjust to your own tastes. For example, if you don’t like garlic, use less, etc etc. If you have no idea what your tastes are, then my suggestion is to stop right now and go get yourself a Big Mac. Leave the cooking to the big boys and girls.

1 tablespoon Butter

1 tablespoon Olive Oil (if you’re a Rachel Ray fan you can insist on EVOO, if not...more power to you!)

1 heaping tablespoon of minced Garlic

1 – 2 cups of Heavy Cream (see below)

2 cans of Tomato Sauce (I think they’re either 12 or 16 ounces, whatever a normal size can is. What!? Do I look like your neighborhood grocer???)

1 6oz can of Tomato Paste

3 or 4 fresh Basil Leaves (finely chopped, minced, or torn to shreds)

~5 ounces (total) of grated Parmesan and Romano cheese. (you can use the canned stuff, you filthy Philistine, you...but fresh will taste better)

3 ounces of Vodka (doesn’t have to be top notch, but I’d avoid the $3 / liter shit if I were you). Note: if you can’t have vodka for whatever reason or you don’t have any, you can substitute Gin without affecting the flavor of this recipe. Trust me, I’ve done it. It works)

Additional Spices:
Garlic Powder (optional depending on how much real garlic you have handy)
Onion powder
Salt
Pepper
Hot Sauce (generic Frank’s or Tabasco hot sauce tends to work just fine)

*****************************************

Time to Cook: About a half hour*

* Another note: (yes I’m going to keep doing this!) the time to make this sauce is almost a perfect match for the time it’ll take to make a pound of pasta. I’d recommend starting them at the same time. Just my $0.02.

Makes: Enough to literally drown a pound of pasta is you’re like me and like plenty of extra sauce to mop up with garlic bread. However, if not, then easily makes enough for a pound and a half.

*****************************************

Directions:

In a medium sized sauce pan (yeah, nebulous ain’t it...look at the ingredients above. Will they fit!? If so then you have the right sized pan. If not, try again, genius)...

Anyway, in a medium sized sauce pan: toss in the Olive Oil, Butter, Garlic, and Basil. Turn on stove to a medium flame. As the butter melts, stir to combine into slurry of sorts. Add in a generous coating of Pepper, a pinch of Salt, and a coating of Onion Powder.

One it’s heated and mixed (you’ll smell it...and it’s a GOOD smell), add in the vodka.

Reduce for a few minutes. Note: DO NOT reduce down to nothing. You want to reduce about half way until it thickens up a bit.

Add Cream. If you like a lighter color/creamier sauce add 2 cups. If you’re more of a tomato sauce type of person, then add 1.

Stir until fully mixed. Reduce heat (about half way) and let it heat up. You can bring it to just a boil, but DO NOT over-boil.

Add 1 can of Tomato Sauce. Stir until it’s completely mixed in. Repeat with the second can.

Here’s where you’ll want to start spicing things up a bit. As you mix it together and it heats up, perform a few tastes tests.

Typically what I would add at this point are:
More pepper...usually a generous portion. (I love a peppery Vodka Sauce)
Another pinch of Salt
Garlic Powder if needed
A couple of drops of hot sauce. Adds some bite to it, but be careful. Add too much and you’ll turn this into a reasonable facsimile of Rattlesnake Pasta (again, trust me on this)

By this point it should start bubbling a bit. From here on out you’ll want to mix CONSTANTLY. Failure to do so will burn your sauce.

Add in about half of the Tomato Paste (about 3 oz). (Ideally you should put the rest of the can away in the fridge. However, if you’re like me just toss it in the garbage. Yeah it’s wasteful, but I’m the type who will put a half can of paste in the fridge and then forget about it until such time as it gains sentience)

Stir until the Paste is thoroughly mixed in. This will thicken the sauce slightly.

Next start adding in the Grated Cheese. Add about half and then stir in until it’s melted. Repeat with the rest.

If done correctly your sauce should be a pinkish / orange color and should be thick enough to let your kids use as paste on their next school project. Turn off the heat and finish whatever the rest of your meal will include.

Finally eat it...preferably with some pasta. Works with just about anything: Penne, Ziti, even Spaghetti. Garlic bread makes a hell of a side too for it.

When you’re finished, you can refrigerate for a few days and then just nuke it to your heart’s content.

Enjoy with my compliments. Should you try this recipe, please let me know how it goes. If you like it, please share it with others. If you like it a lot, feel free to use it and claim it as your own to friends and family...it's ok. We'll both know the truth.

Dec 22, 2011

Bigfoot Hunters: Teaser 2

Since this will most likely be my last post before Christmas, I just want to wish all of my wonderful readers a Happy, Safe, and...possibly most important...Stress Free Holidays. I won’t say that this post is my holiday present to you all. I have something else in mind. Since I received such a positive response to my chili recipe a while back, I’ll be doing it again. What better than the gift of good food? Stay tuned, faithful reader, for my awesome Vodka Sauce recipe...coming soon!

Until then I leave you with some Sasquatch related mayhem. Enjoy!

Read: Bigfoot Hunters: Prologue

************************************


Since man first walked the earth, people have seen the unexplainable;
Lights in the sky, ghosts from the past, monsters in the mist.
Do they exist or are they just our imagination?
Science has scoffed at these stories...until now.
My name is Dr. Derek Jenner and I dare to believe.
Together with my team I will find what is out there waiting.
The truth cannot hide from me.
I am...the Crypto Hunter.

- Intro to The Crypto Hunter, Tues night 9:00 PM on the Adventure Channel

************************************

“Why can’t I turn on the light, Elmer?” Vera Gantry asked her husband for what, to him, felt like the hundredth time. The only illumination in their small cabin came from the living room fireplace. Elmer would have preferred it pitch dark, so as to make it look like nothing was alive in the place. However, their old oil furnace hadn’t kicked over for some reason. Elmer had made the concession to get a fire going, not being too keen on freezing his ass off while he kept a listen for whatever was screaming like banshee out in the woods.

“No lights! I already told you, woman.” he spat from his favorite chair. He had moved it to the center of the room, where he now sat, a double-barreled shotgun resting on his lap. It was loaded. Next to Elmer, on the tray table where he normally kept the TV remote, sat a full box of ammo.

“And I’m telling you you’re being a darn old fool.” she shot back. “No lights. No TV. Heck I can’t even see enough to knit. All for what? You probably just heard a wildcat yowling out back.”

“Weren’t no cat made that noise.” he said with grim finality. “Now pipe down, I’m listening. Can’t hear nothing with you chattering like a hen.”

She made a sound of disgust and got up from the couch where she had sat, complaining nonstop, since supper. Elmer breathed a quiet sigh. She was his third wife and by far his favorite. She could cook and she kept the house clean. However, once she got on a nagging kick the bitch just didn’t shut up. Elmer had never been a violent man. He believed that a sharp tongue lashing was always the better solution. Regardless, every so often he found himself wondering if maybe a good smack upside the head might be in order. Now was one of those times. His sharp ears didn’t mean didily while she was cawing like a bird.

She walked over to the closed shutters. “Well at least let me open the window a crack. It’s getting stuffy in here. If I have to be cooped up in the dark, I might as well be able to breath.”

He opened his mouth, meaning to tell her to sit back down and, for the last time, shut the hell up. However, in the split second between the end of her rant and his intake of breath he heard it. It wasn’t much, just the crunch of some dead leaves. However, he definitely heard something. Elmer Gantry’s ears were sharp. They had never failed him...until now.

“VERA! GET AWAY FROM...” The window exploded inward before he could finish.

The spray of wood and shattered glass caused his wife to back up a step but it wasn’t far enough. An arm, muscular and covered in brown hair, shot through the opening. Elmer’s eyes weren’t that good, especially in the dim light. He couldn’t see exactly what was standing outside the window except to tell that it was big. He didn’t need to, however. He already knew what it was.

Before he could steady the shotgun against his shoulder, the hand grasped the front of Vera’s dressed and hauled her towards the opening. She was dragged halfway out, her slippered feet kicking wildly in the air. In other circumstances it might have been comical, her legs flailing away while her dress rode up to show her bloomers. However, there was nothing funny about what happened next.

An animalistic snarl came from outside followed by a wet ripping noise. Vera’s feet suddenly stopped moving. They fell limp after one last twitch. A second later her lower half fell to the floor, the rest of her having been torn clean off. She hadn’t even had time to scream.

Elmer raised the gun. There would be time to mourn later. She had been a good woman and he would shed his fair share of tears at her passing. For now, though, there was business to attend to. However, even as he brought the gun to bear he could tell there was nothing standing at the window. Another soft crunch outside alerted him that it was moving. Still seated, he quickly pointed the shotgun towards the front door.

“Oh no you don’t, you sneaky son of a bitch!” he thought. The creature possessed impressive natural stealth for its size. It was moving quickly and quietly. However, it hadn’t counted on Elmer Gantry’s uncanny hearing.

He watched calmly while his front door was literally torn from its hinges as if it were made of nothing sturdier than issue paper. The creature stepped through with a snarl. Runny red eyes locked on first Elmer and then on the barrel of his gun. They opened wide as if in surprise, the last bit of sanity in its hairy head asserting itself at the very end.

Elmer unloaded with both barrels. Had he been standing, the recoil would have knocked him flat on his old ass. Either way he was going to have a nasty bruise on his shoulder. However, it more than did the job. The only thing left of the beast’s head was a fine red mist. The rest of it crumpled unceremoniously to the floor.

“That was for you, Vera.” he said to the empty room as the echoes from the blast died down.

He sat back in his chair with a sigh and closed his eyes.

That was when he heard it...that was when he heard them.

With the door now wide open and Vera’s incessant prattling silenced, permanently, he began to understand. Roars, cries, grunts...all of them reached Elmer’s sharp ears. Soon enough, more of the creatures would come...many more. Had Elmer been a younger man he might have tried to make a stand. However, he was old. Old and suddenly very tired.

As he listened to the sounds of Bonanza Creek dying, he lit his pipe for one last smoke. He took several deep, satisfying drags and then grabbed some shells from the table beside him. He calmly reloaded his shotgun, his hands not shaking at all, moving as if he had all the time in the world.

He took one last puff from his pipe before setting it down. He kicked the loafer from his right foot, noting with some amusement that it landed on the body of the slain beast. “Kicked yer ass all the way to hell.” he thought with a grin.

Elmer Gantry placed the barrel of the loaded gun under his chin while he positioned his big toe on the trigger. His had been a good life. He found he had no regrets. If anything, the thought of seeing Vera again so soon gave him one last smile.

Another thunderous blast shook the house and then all was quiet...this time for good.

Some might have called it the coward’s way out while to others it would have been a good death. Regardless, Elmer Gantry checked out on his own terms. He was the only one in Bonanza Creek that night who could make such a claim.


**********

Bigfoot Hunters
By Rick Gualtieri
coming early 2012

Dec 20, 2011

Character Profile: Bad Things Come in Small Packages

What follows is another installment in the series of interviews I conducted over the past several months as I researched material for my books. I have copied them here verbatim from the tapes I made of our sessions.

Read Session 1: A Fucked-up Interview with the Vampire

Read Session 2: Death Never Looked so Good

Read Session 4: Normalcy is Overrated

Read Session 5: The Wicked Witch of the East(coast)

*********************************

Session 3: Bad Things Come in Small Packages

This interview was unique in that it was both done live via video chat and that the subject refused to speak to me unless Bill agreed to be in the room during it.

Bill: (sighs) Ok, let’s connect and get this over with. (punches a few keys. A man appears on the screen after a few seconds. He’s Asian in appearance and appears to be wearing some sort of armor) Hey, Nergui! Can you hear me?

Nergui: Yes, Freewill. We are connected.

Bill: Is Gan there?

Nergui: The princess will speak with you now.

(He gets up and his spot is taken by an Asian girl of seemingly pre-teen age...she seems disinterested at first until she peers at the screen. Then her eyes go wide.)

Gan: Is that you, beloved?

Bill: Hi, Gan, and please don't call me that.

Gan: (looking confused) Why are you in this strange box?

Bill: It’s a monitor.

Gan: I see. Will the yellow one be on it when we are done?

Bill: No, Gan. I don’t think they rebroadcast Spongebob in Mongolia. Anyway, here’s the nice man I was telling you about. He’s going to ask you some questions.

Me: Hello. May I call you Gan?

Gan: No you may not, human. I am Gansetseg, shadow princess of Asia and heir to the empire of the great Khan. You may address me accordingly.

Nergui: (from off screen) Your Highness would be acceptable.

Me: Uh, sure. Whatever.

Gan: Bill, please kill the human. I find him insolent.

Bill: Yeah ok, Gan. I’ll kill him as soon as we’re through, ok?

Gan: Excellent, beloved. You may ask me your questions now, human.

Me: Thank you, your highness. So is it true that you’re over three hundred years old?

Gan: Yes. I would imagine it hard for a limited creature such as yourself to understand but I have walked this Earth for the span of three centuries.

Me: Is it difficult to have spent that entire time as a little girl?

Gan: I am no little girl. I am a woman! Would a child be betrothed to a fine man such as Bill?

Bill: Gan!

Me: No, I suppose not.

Bill: Don't encourage her!

Gan: My feelings require no encouragement from the human.

Bill: Grrr...ok let's just move on. Next question.

Me: Sure. Gan...err...your highness, considering your age, you must have a unique perspective on the modern world. Would you care to share any insights?

Gan: I live very much the same as I ever have. I am adored by the nomadic covens under my rule. I have vampires who serve me, the undead to cater to my oxen, and humans to provide me with nourishment.

Me: Undead? I thought...

Bill: She means zombies. Vamps keep them around as day labor.

Me: I see.

Gan: I have encountered bits and pieces of your so called modern world, the vulgar place you call New York...

Me: Thats probably not a bad way to describe it.

Gan: Do not interrupt me again, human! Bill, if he does so, please eviscerate him.

Bill: Whatever you say, Gan.

Gan: Excellent! Now as I was saying before being rudely interrupted by lesser beings, I find your modern world to be pointless. All of your technology has done nothing more than weaken your already sad little species. If it weren't for the yellow one, I'd consider razing it all to the ground and being done with it.

Me: I'm certain the fine folks at Nickelodeon would be proud to know that they're the only ones standing between us and armageddon.

Gan: Nicke...?

Me: Sorry, just thinking out loud to myself.

Gan: Yes, you humans are odd that way.

Me: You and Bill seem to have an interesting relationship.

Bill: Do you really have to get her started?

Me: Sorry, I meant aside from the...err...romantic aspects of it.

Bill: (under his breath) Asshole!

Gan: Yes. Bill is the Freewill of vampire legend, the one who shall lead us back into the light. He is unique amongst all our kind. A fitting concubine for one such as I.

Bill: Focus, Gan!

Gan: Oh very well, beloved. I do so for you. We have many prophecies that speak of his deeds to come. Even now he aspires to greatness. He shall be the one to lead us to victory in our war against the Alma.

Me: Alma?

Bill: Uh yeah. Trust me, don't ask. It's a long story.

Gan: Why do you deny it, beloved? You shall be the one to crush the hairy demons under your iron fist. You shall lay them low! You shall march fearlessly against their unstoppable masses. You shall...

Bill: I'll stay in fucking New York where the worst I have to deal with are asshole cabbies and rude street vendors. That's what I shall do, thank you very much.

Gan: You cannot deny your destiny, beloved.

Bill: Watch me...and stop calling me beloved!

Gan: Very well, my love.

Bill: ARGH!! (storms out)

Me: Um, we've gotten a little sidetracked.

Gan: I should say so, human. My beloved was supposed to kill you before he left.

Me: Yeah about that...

Gan: It is no matter. (to off screen) Nergui, send your assassins to America. Find the insolent human and bring his head back to me..

Nergui: (off screen) As you wish, Princess. I am tracing his location now.

Me: Well will you look at the time. Sorry, your highness, but it seems there's a problem with our connection.

Gan: Do not be foolish! There is nothing wrong with....*** (screen goes blank as plug gets pulled)

Me: *sigh* I really need to find a different job.

**************************************

Gan is one of the main characters in my book:
Scary Dead Things (The Tome of Bill Part 2)

Please be sure to join me for the next installment of my interviews from the vampire underworld. Until next time...

Dec 15, 2011

Character Profile: Death Never Looked so Good

What follows is another installment in the series of interviews I conducted over the past several months as I researched material for my books. I have copied them here verbatim from the tapes I made of our sessions.

Read Session 1: A Fucked-up Interview with the Vampire

Read Session 3: Bad Things Come in Small Packages

Read Session 4: Normalcy is Overrated

Read Session 5: The Wicked Witch of the East(coast)

*******************************

Session 2: Death Never Looked so Good

Me: Your name is Sally, correct?

Sally: Yes

Me: Sally what?

Sally: Sally is just fine, thanks.

Me: Is that your real name?

Sally: What do you mean?

Me: Well, Bill, implied your name starts with an L, like...

Sally: Next question, meatsack!

Me: Err, anyway. You’re a vampire like Bill, correct?

Sally: Yes I’m a vampire but no I’m not like Bill. I have a social life on the weekend.

Me: Interesting distinction. Anyway, I know why Bill is speaking to me. However, I’m curious as to why you agreed to do so. After all, I’m lead to believe that vampires as a whole don’t want the world to know they exist. Is this not correct?

Sally: Two reasons really. One, Bill asked me to do this...about five-hundred fucking times. I agreed just to finally shut him up. Secondly, let’s face facts; how many people actually read your blog? Two, maybe three?

Me: A few more than that I’d say.

Sally: (rolls eyes) Whatever! Bottom line is that if you were from someplace real...like say the New York Times...I’d have snapped your neck and filleted you by now. As it is, you’ll excuse me if I’m not too worried about the masses taking up pitchforks and torches against us.

Me: When you put it that way... Anyway, getting back to the vampire thing, how old are you exactly, Sally?

Sally: Never ask a vampire her age, we tend to get all bitey with that one. Suffice to say I’m a bit older than Bill. Ballpark, looking at you I’d say your mom could have been one of my classmates.

Me: Fair enough. You’re a member of Bill’s coven correct? What’s it like to...

Sally: No, I’m Bill’s partner. I run the coven with him. Think of it like Parliament and the crown. Bill might be the king but I’m the prime minister.

Me: In a lot of cultures the king is just a figurehead and the prime minster wields all the power.

Sally: See!? Not as stupid as you look. Oh by the way...my eyes are up here, mister! I catch your peepers heading south again and I’m going to rip them out of your head.

Me: Oh, sorry. No offense was meant, miss. Anyway, um, next question...how would you describe your relationship with Bill?

Sally: (another eye roll) It’s complicated.

Me: As in romantically?

Sally: NO! What I mean is that half the time Bill drives me bugshit insane. The guy is like the lord of the dweebs. Under normal circumstances our social cliques would just not mix. I mean look at me...keep your eyes up here, you fucking bald-headed perv! Last warning! It was a figure of speech for Christ’s sake!

Me: Sorry.

Sally: Where was I? Oh yeah, Bill. So sometimes I just want to stake him myself to put him out of his dorkish misery. But the rest of the time he’s like the best friend I ever had. I mean seriously, he’s gone to bat for me when other vamps would have bugged out of town. Don’t let me hear that you repeated that to him or I’ll make a jump rope out of your intestines.

Me: Mum’s the word (slips recorder into pocket). So as Bill’s partner in the coven, what do you do exactly?

Sally: I mostly keep the other vampires from ripping Bill to pieces. See he has these ridiculous notions of us being kinder and gentler vampires. The guy must have watched one too many episodes of the Care Bears as a kid. Anyway, he keeps trying to make us go against our baser nature.

Me: That being?

Sally: We’re apex predators, end of story. You’re a pathetic little gazelle and I’m a goddamned crocodile. Get my drift? However, Bill apparently lives in this delusional world where we all coexist like some fucking Disney movie. He keeps trying to curb our appetites and as a result he tends to piss a lot of people off. I don’t care if Bill is a Freewill, he’s not Superman. He ruffles enough feathers and he’s going to get gang-staked.

Me: And this is where you come in?

Sally: Correct-a-mundo! I make sure the blood keeps flowing, the bodies keep piling up, and that Bill gets the credit for it, whether he likes it or not. That way everyone is happy.

Me: Except for Bill, apparently.

Sally: Yeah well, you can’t make an omelet...

Me: Tell me about the hotline that Bill had mentioned to me.

Sally: (smiles) That...brilliant stroke of genius? I don’t like to toot my own horn, well not all the time anyway, but that one was definitely an inspired work of Darwinian proportions. It kills at least three birds with one stone, maybe more. The coven gets fresh blood, Bill looks good in the process, and we wind up weeding out people who were probably just going to remove themselves from the situation anyway. It’s a win win!

Me: I’m not sure I’d call it that. You’re preying on the weak and vulnerable.

Sally: Says you. According to the Daily News we are, and I quote: “from dusk until dawn, a shining beacon of hope for the city’s forgotten.” God, I love that one.

Me: You’re a regular Mother Theresa.

Sally: Screw that. Mother Theresa never looked this good. Brains, brawn, and beauty...what would Bill do without me?

Me: Indeed. What would he do without you?

Sally: Probably die in about five minutes. (stands) Well it’s been real but time’s up, fleshwad. I have places to be and people much better looking than you to see.

Me: Thank you for your time...

Sally: The pleasure was all yours. Now if you’ll just kindly keep your eyes away from my ass as I leave, I might not have to kill you.

Me: No problem. (Sally leaves) Crazy bitch.

Sally: (from down the hall) I heard that!

(sounds of running as the recording ends)

*************************************

Sally is one of the main characters in my books:
Bill The Vampire
Scary Dead Things

Sally is also a constant thorn in Bill's side on Facebook

Please be sure to join me for the next installment of my interviews from the vampire underworld. Until next time...

Dec 12, 2011

Character Profile: A F**ked-up Interview with the Vampire

My name is Rick Gualtieri and I am privy to a secret that few mortals know; a secret which, if it got out, could change the face of civilization as we know it...maybe. You see vampires, monsters, and magic all exist. There is an unbelievable underworld that exists right beneath our noses that most of us never notice...and if we’re lucky never notices us in return. I’ve been lucky enough to have journeyed into that underworld and lived to tell the tale. Even better, one of their kind has taken me under his wing, so to speak, and allowed me to spread his story to the world so that others may know his tale.

What follows is a series of interviews I conducted over the past several months as I researched material for my books. I have copied them here verbatim from the tapes I made of our sessions.

Read Session 2: Death Never Looked so Good

Read Session 3: Bad Things Come in Small Packages

Read Session 4: Normalcy is Overrated

Read Session 5: The Wicked Witch of the East(coast)

******************************


Session 1: A Fucked-up Interview with the Vampire

Me: Please state your name and tell me a little bit about yourself.

Bill: My name is Bill Ryder, William Anderson Ryder actually. Dig how my initials spell out WAR.

Me: Does anyone actually call you that?

Bill: Well no. But it’s still kind of cool.

Me: If you say so. So what are you, Bill?

Bill: Well I’m one of the senior game programmers at HotScotchGames. They’re an online gaming company. Their best seller is...

Me: Not quite what I meant.

Bill: Oh, sorry. Not sure why you’re asking me. Haven’t we already gone over this before?

Me: Yes. But this is an interview, remember? A way to clear the air about your life, etc etc.

Bill: Ok ok. Don’t get your panties in a bunch. I’m a vampire.

Me: A real vampire, correct?

Bill: No. I’m just some delusional dipshit who likes to wear capes, talk in a eurotrash accent, and dump glitter all over myself. Of course I’m a real vampire. (opens mouth and extends fangs) Do these look real to you?

Me: Quite real. So tell me a little about vampires, then. For starters, what’s it like to live forever?

Bill: Dude, I’m twenty-five.

Me: But you’re immortal, right?

Bill: I guess so but right now I’m younger than you...by a fair amount I might add.

Me: Fine. Perhaps that’s a question for another day. So then what about your family and friends? Do they know you’re a vampire?

Bill: Are you kidding? Mom and dad freak out about enough shit as it is. My friends know about it, though. They’re cool with it.

Me: What about any significant others?

Bill: Well...

Me: Are you seeing anyone?

Bill: Sorta.

Me: Sorta?

Bill: Well...yeah...kinda. I’m not really sure. It’s complicated.

Me: Complicated?

Bill: She doesn’t really know we’re dating yet. Happy?

Me: (sighs) Ok, whatever that means. So back to vampires before we completely get off track here...

Bill: Oh yeah, sorry. So anyway, some of the stuff you’ve read about vampires or seen in the movies is real but just as much of it is total bullshit.

Me: Care to elaborate?

Bill: Sure. There’s that living forever thing. There’s also sunlight. If sunlight hits us we go all sparkly...as in sparkly like a Roman fucking candle. We’re talking BBQ city here. Vampires also disintegrate into ash when you kill them. Buffy, Blade, and From Dusk Til Dawn all got that part right, and as far as I’m concerned that’s about the extent of vampire related entertainment that’s worth watching.

Me: I kinda liked The Lost Boys.

Bill: Awww. Did you have a poster of Rob Lowe in your bedroom growing up?

Me: Err...anyway, getting back on track, what vampire lore is actually incorrect?

Bill: Lots of it. For starters forget all that shit about mirrors. If I look in a mirror you know what I see? My face staring out of it, that’s what. Then there’s garlic. Garlic is the same as with people. Some of us love it, some hate it. Personally I think some garlic salt in a glass of blood is pretty killer tasting. What else? Oh yeah there’s also crosses.

Me: Crosses don’t work?

Bill: Exactly! Crosses don’t do jack by themselves. I could strip naked and roll around in a box of crosses and it wouldn’t do a damn thing.

Me: Thanks for the imagery.

Bill: No problem. The thing is it’s all about belief. If you believe in a cross enough, it’ll work. However, that applies to just about anything. If your mom believes in her dildo enough...*wham*...instant vampire slayer.

Me: Fascinating. Moving on, you’re the head of a clan of vampires correct?

Bill: Coven. It’s called a coven of vampires.

Me: Aren’t covens for witches?

Bill: That’s what I thought. But no...oh and don’t get me started on witches. My roommate, Tom, is dating one and what a fucking psycho bitch she is. The other day....

Me: I’ll be talking to Tom in another interview, so we can cover it then. Back to your coven.

Bill: (sighs) Fine! You don’t want to hear my story, that’s just dandy. Fuck you too, dude.

Me: Your coven?

Bill: Yeah yeah. It’s called Village Coven because it’s located in the Village section of NYC. Real fucking original name isn’t it? Anyway, I wound up in charge after snuffing the previous head, a douchebag named Jeff, who just so happens to be the reason I’m going to spend all of eternity sucking down bloodclots.

Me: You killed Jeff? According to my notes...

Bill: Does it really matter!? As far as the record goes, yes I killed Jeff, not Sally, me!

Me: Ok ok. No need to get your bat wings all ruffled.

Bill: Don’t make me smack you.

Me: I’ve heard some of the others I’ve spoken to refer to you as a Freewill. What is that exactly?

Bill: Yeah, it’s another stupid name, vampires seem to have a thing for them. But anyway the long and short of it is that it stands for the fact that I can’t be controlled by other vamps.

Me: That’s odd, because I heard you talking on the phone to another vampire...Sally, I believe...and it sounded a lot like...

Bill: No, that’s just her being a bossy bitch. I mean mind control. Older vampires can actually control younger vampires psychically. It’s called compulsion and pretty much all vampires can do it if they’re old enough. I’m the lone exception. It doesn’t work on me. Hence, freewill.

Me: That could be handy.

Bill: Tell me about it. Vampires are a freaky bunch. Last thing I want is one of them getting into a mood and trying to command me to eat dog shit or suck his dick. No sir!

Me: Is that all there is to it?

Bill: No. It’s got some other perks too. For example, I can drink another vampire’s blood. Before you say anything to that you need to forget any shit you’ve seen on pay cable. It doesn’t work that way in real life. A normal vampire drinking another vampire’s blood is kind of like you downing a bottle of draino. Once again, except for me. Somehow I’m able to drink another vamp’s blood and not only do I not wind up puking my guts out, but it actually kind of amps me up for a while. I mean we’re talking Hulk Smash shit here.

Me: And there’s the prophesy too, right?

Bill: Which one? Apparently there’s a ton of Freewill prophecies out there both inside and outside of the vampire community. All crap as far as I’m concerned. This ain’t Hogwarts and my last name isn’t Potter. They can all take their prophecies and shove them so far up their asses that...

Me: Thank you for that wonderful mental picture, I’m sure. Bill, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you.

Bill: That’s it!? Don’t you want to know anything cool...like all the babes I’ve...

Me: That’s quite alright. I have enough for this interview.

Bill: Jeez! No wonder nobody reads your stupid ass blog.

**************************

Bill Ryder is the main character in my books:
Bill The Vampire
Scary Dead Things

You can also follow Bill's day to day adventures on Facebook

Please be sure to join me for the next installment of my interviews from the vampire underworld. Until next time...

Dec 8, 2011

Kickstarted to the Curb

I’ll get right to the point and say it; I don’t get the recent trend of authors using Kickstarter to fund their projects. And because I don’t get it, I really don’t support it or plan to go that route myself.

“Hold on there just one second, Mr. Hypocrite!” some of you might say, “Haven’t I seen you retweet other authors’ Kickstarter projects?” To which I’ll freely admit that I have. Why? Because A) I’m happy to help promote my fellow writers and B) I know that my opinion does not necessarily represent yours. Thus even if I don’t “get” something, that doesn’t mean I won’t help pass it on to someone who might.

And no, this doesn’t mean I always retweet things I don’t agree with. I just mention this so that I don’t get a bunch of comments along the lines of “So will you retweet my stuff even though I’m a drug-dealing KKK member who votes along Nazi party lines?” Let’s not be stupid here, shall we?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand Kickstarter itself just fine and I’m a fan of it. I think crowd-sourcing for new business ideas is a great idea. Let the masses decide what is a worthy project and what isn’t. Personally I think it’s better than a bank in that you don’t have the creditors knocking on your door. Likewise I think it’s better than investors who otherwise might be eager to swoop down and not only claim a healthy ownership of your company but might also be tempted to add in more of their two cents than might otherwise be asked for.

In addition to this, I can also understand various other creative types using Kickstarter to try to fund their projects. For example studio time can be very expensive for a singer, and if I like their samples then I’d probably want to give them a chance to see what they can really do. But funding someone to write a book? Sorry, I’m just not seeing it.

Even more mind-boggling to me is the asking price of a few of the pre-funding requests that I’ve seen. I’ve seen a few manufacturing start-ups on Kickstarter asking for $10K or less to help them build out prototypes and market them. Comparatively, I’ve seen a couple of authors asking for far more than that amount. I don’t want to point fingers but should it really be twice as much to help fund a book as it would be for another group to begin mass production of their widgets?

To put this into perspective, I’ve written four books so far. Far less than some but more than others. In other words, probably enough to have worn the new car smell off of me. As far as I am aware the actual process of writing cost me nothing but my time (and maybe a few sanity points). Now you might ask me whether or not I consider my time to be valuable. I would truthfully answer that I certainly do. However, valuable or not, it is of my own free accord that I choose to spend that time writing books. The commitment is mine to make, whether it be weeks, months, or years.

The second part of this equation is in how I choose to get my work out there. I choose to self-publish as it appears many of the Kickstarter projects I’ve seen also do. In choosing this route I realize that I am giving up on certain potential benefits (like cash advances). However, in return I gain a greater share of the end sale and much greater control over my work. Personally I find it a fair tradeoff, and one that will hopefully become (monetarily) profitable with time.

Writing aside, does this mean the journey is free? No, of course not. Even ignoring basic staples such as food and shelter there are certainly expenses involved. At a minimum there’s cover design and editing to take into account. I can take it even further and invest in layout services, etc etc. However, I also consider these expenses to be mine to take into consideration. The hope being that I put in the time, effort, and cost up front, market the ever living hell out of things, and then you, good reader, maybe come along and decide to take a chance on my mental ramblings (at which point you immediately join my “Rick’s favorite people” list :) . In return you get a finished product...no waiting necessary. If that happens enough times I eventually recoup my costs and maybe even come out a few nickels ahead of the game. If it doesn’t then I either keep trying or pack up my crayons and head home.

So that brings me back to the folks on Kickstarter. Are these “have their cake and eat it too” attempts? In other words trying to have the best of both worlds; the cash advance of traditional publishing but retaining all of the freedoms a self-pubbed author has? I could see that and it’s certainly a tempting prospect.

Or perhaps it’s all about marketing. Maybe putting a project on Kickstarter is more about building advance buzz...so advance that you get to decide whether or not it’s even worth your time to start writing. Perhaps in some cases there isn’t even a realistic expectation to reach their funding levels. Maybe it’s all about eyeballs and attention, neither of which are bad things for writers.

And then there’s the more pragmatic possibility. Are the upfront costs meant to not only cover the costs of the book but also provide those little living staples like food and shelter? I can understand that, especially given the current state of the economy. I don’t think anyone would argue that writing the next great literary masterpiece from the confines of a dumpster wouldn’t be a bit challenging.

Or maybe it’s all some combination of the above. I don’t know and I’m honestly curious. Despite the bitching nature of the above (welcome to the world of blogging!) I don’t have a personal vendetta against those who go this route. If you use this and it works for you, I think that’s great. In fact I’m hoping that maybe a few of the Kickstarter-ers (yeah yeah, I’m making up words now) might chime in down in the comments to let me know their thoughts on this. I’m not seeking to condemn you. I’m just seeking to understand you. And at the end of the day it may very well be the case that you are simply just that much better at this game than I am. Or not. Either way, though, I’d love to be enlightened.

Dec 1, 2011

Reflections on My Time in the Mobile Space

I interrupt my various musings on writing to get back to technology for a post. After all, I am and have always been a bit of a gadget geek. I was thinking a bit about mobile phones, something that’s on a lot of people’s minds these days. Personally I don’t keep my enthusiasm for them much of a secret. I’d probably sooner go out sans pants than without my iPhone. Just for the record, I try really hard not to do the former. However, it wasn’t always the case...I mean the thing about the phone, not the pants. Once upon a time, and for quite a few years, I couldn’t give two shits about my mobile phone.

I was working for AT&T back around the time that cell phones were starting to become widespread. For a year or so I took a “People can call me when I’m at home, otherwise they can wait” attitude. Then AT&T, being y’know a telecom company, had an employee sale. I could get a handful of minutes on the cheap and a Nokia brick phone for free. That wasn’t the phone’s real name; I’m far too lazy to bother to look that up. Needless to say that was an apt description of the phone. I could have used the damn thing to mug old ladies, I tell you.

I got it pretty much on a whim, figuring it might come in handy should I find myself trapped in my car at the bottom of a ravine somewhere with vultures circling overhead. Truth be told, I almost never used it to the point where the battery tended to be dead when I did decide to turn it on. I’ve never been much of a phone talker. I’ve had maybe a handful of hour+ conversations over the course of my lifetime. I certainly wasn’t about to have any major life-altering conversations on a brick of a phone with few enough minutes to ensure that any lengthy chat might as well be with a 1-900 number.

I had the brick for over a year. Around that time I noticed that phones were getting smaller. The brick was pocketable but only insomuch that putting it in my front pocket would tend to make me look like a John Holmes wannabe (sans obligatory porno mustache). Around that time I decided to upgrade to this tiny little Sony Erickson flip phone. This phone was an utter piece of shit, the flip part being little more than a flimsy, non-functional, piece of plastic. I carried it around on me because it was tiny but I probably used it even less than the brick.

Oddly enough, around this time I did get my first taste of a “must have” mobile device. It just had nothing to do with a phone. I wound up in possession of a Palm Pilot (a Palm V for you techno-purists). In retrospect it was really only good for three things: taking notes in meetings (I had Palm script down like a mofo!), IR Battleship, and Dope Wars. However, at the time it was like manna from the heavens. I’d have sooner been forced to sell my blood for food than go without the warm embrace of its black and white screen. It wasn’t until my kids broke the charger for it did I realize how much I didn’t need it. However, until that time it was a love story fit for the movies. To this day I still kind of miss its version of Dope Wars.

Anyway, back to phones, for the next few years it was a lot of the same. The wife and I eventually upgraded to Motorola Flip Phones, a Razr for her and another piece of shit for me. Once again I don’t know the model number and couldn’t be bothered to check. The phone worked...most of the time at least...as a phone and that was it. It had a few lousy game demos on it and I could supposedly check the web and my email on its paltry little screen, both of which seemed far too painful to even attempt.

Thus we entered 2007. The state of mobile phones was dull at best. Motorola was trying to squeeze a few more years into the Razr and their other clamshells. Samsung was doing the same. Nokia kept selling their ugly ass candy bar phones. And, at the high end, Blackberry and Palm sat like virtual emperors, their godlike phones only for those either willing to part with a good many of their precious sheckles or lucky to work for corporate overlords benevolent enough to bless them with such magical devices.

And then came the iPhone. I’ve heard that there were other touch-screen phones being worked on at the time, the LG Prada comes to mind. However, being that I still could have cared less about the whole mobile space, I was unaware of them. I saw its unveiling via the web and I couldn’t believe such a thing could work well. Surely the touch screen would be a failure of epic proportions. No way could you surf the web on a phone and have it actually look like...the web. Even more mind blowing, it had Wi-Fi. The phone could connect to a home network for actual respectable speeds, something I hadn’t even really considered before.

Still, I was staunchly anti-Apple at the time. No iPods graced my home. Macs were verboten, over expensive toys at best. I kept an eye out as surely the competition would come out with an answer to this upstart phone that would blow it away instantly. The Motorolas, Nokias, and RIMs of the world were masters of their domain and would certainly present something that would humble Apple back to the periphery where they belonged.

That didn’t happen and as the months went by I found my curiosity piquing. Eventually I had some extra money to burn and the Mrs. and I were both due for upgrades. I went with an iPhone; she went with a Blackberry Curve. Flash forward a few months and I was on the iPhone 3G. She was using my original iPhone, and the Blackberry had been relegated to the junk drawer as a backup phone “just in case”. For all I know it’s still moldering there waiting for love that is just not coming its way.

It didn’t start quickly with me. At first I just used the iPhone as a phone and nothing else. It was only a gradual thing. I’d be waiting in the car while my wife was shopping and decide to check email. I’d be sitting on the couch, want to look up something on the web but not really want to get up and turn on the computer. I’d need to check the weather. Someone would send me a link to YouTube. Etc etc on and on, until I realized that I was spending more time on my phone than I was at my desktop. That same feeling I had with my old Palm V was back except this time it wasn’t all smoke and mirrors, I was actually able to be productive untethered to a PC.

And that brings us to today. Today’s mobile world isn’t just about having that emergency phone to call for help while bears chew their way into your car. It’s so much more. Mobile web, shopping, banking, video chat, etc etc. Sure there are days when I wonder if it’s too much. At what point will information overload just make my head pop off? However, I don’t think that too often. At the moment I find it empowering to have so much power at my fingertips. I like the fact that, though I am inconvenienced by a gadget in my pocket, it is no longer the unused brick that it used to be. Whether this will change with time remains to be seen but for now you can be sure that if you come across me I’ll have my mobile handy...the pants, well that’s still up for debate.

Written and posted via an iPhone 4.

Nov 28, 2011

Teaser for Bigfoot Hunters

Since man first walked the earth, people have seen the unexplainable;
Lights in the sky, ghosts from the past, monsters in the mist.
Do they exist or are they just our imagination?
Science has scoffed at these stories...until now.
My name is Dr. Derek Jenner and I dare to believe.
Together with my team I will find what is out there waiting.
The truth cannot hide from me.
I am...the Crypto Hunter.

- Intro to The Crypto Hunter, Tues night 9:00 PM on the Adventure Channel

************************************

Prologue

Gil Harris loved camping. He couldn't remember a time when the prospect of being outdoors didn't cause a tingle of excitement deep within him. Something about being away from the normal hustle and bustle of society really called to him. He couldn’t imagine a better place to be right now, just a man in his mid-thirties experiencing the joy of waking up to the sounds of birds chirping and deer crashing through the underbrush. He took a deep breath. The air smelled clean. It smelled right.

Having spent his youth growing up in Detroit, one wouldn't have expected to find such a love of the outdoors. During the majority of the year, Gil had been a typical city boy enjoying the occasional after-school game of B-ball with his friends, watching TV, and causing the usual mischief of a kid his age. Gil's mother, however, had insisted on a different course of action during the summer. Every year she would sign him up with the Boy's Club of America or the Fresh Air Fund and make sure he spent a good chunk of the summer months where there were trees to climb, grass to run through, and campfires to tell ghost stories around. She had claimed it was to broaden Gil's horizons, show him that there was a world beyond the asphalt and scarred building facades of their neighborhood. However, Gil wasn't stupid. He knew it was mostly to make sure that he didn't fall in with a bad crowd.

While school was in he was kept fairly busy by his studies. His mother would accept no less. However, once school ended idle hands could easily become the devil's playthings. Gil had seen his fair share of friends get themselves into increasingly more serious levels of trouble from year to year. He'd come back at the end of each summer to find that some of his friends were in trouble with the law, some had become addicts, and occasionally one would just be gone...never to be spoken of again.

Some of the other kids from the inner cities were bitter about being sent to camp. They'd complain endlessly of being stuck out in the boonies and do their best to find a way to be kicked out of the program and sent home. Not Gil, though. From the moment he had stepped off a bus and gotten his first taste of nature he had been hooked. No matter how great the preceding winter had been, come June Gil would be itching again for the outdoors. It was a love that had never left him.

It didn't matter to Gil even when there weren't others to share his enthusiasm. By his junior year in college he had saved enough to purchase some decent gear of his own. That way, whenever there was a long weekend that didn't require him to go back home, he was ready. He'd pack up his gear, in the old clunker of a Manza he had bought for $400 from his uncle, and just pick a direction. Any would do as long as no skyscrapers marred the view ahead. The wilderness was like a sort of soul-mate to him. Girlfriends had come and gone, friends had moved away, jobs had changed, but the outdoors were the one constant in Gil’s life. It was, he thought, his rock for lack of a better term.

That thought caused him to chuckle, as it always did, as he walked upstream towards his little camp. He had spent the morning fishing in a little spot that he’d found during some cursory exploring. He had bagged a few keepers but in the end had set them all free. Gil wasn’t much of a cook and his wife, Maria, would have sooner filleted him than gut a bunch of fish.

He frowned ever so slightly as his thoughts went back to his family. He loved them with all his heart, make no mistake about it. His wife was a lawyer for a global energy syndicate. She was the smartest, prettiest, and funniest person he had ever met. Sure that last one typically only appeared after a good number of cocktails but it didn’t matter. For Gil it had been love at first sight. Then, after three years of trying to win her over, it had finally been love at about the thousandth sight for her. They had been married in the suburbs outside of Chicago and had honeymooned in Barbados. Gil had argued in favor of a campout at Yellowstone instead but had been overruled almost immediately.

If Gil had one regret about marrying Maria, and even he had to admit it was minor, it was that she did not share his love of the outdoors. During the course of their nine years of wedded bliss he had made absolutely no progress with regards to changing her mind. Her idea of roughing it was a weekend of being pampered at a spa. The squirrels and chipmunks around their suburban home were the extent of the wildlife she would tolerate. To her the woods were an insufferable hell of biting bugs, poisonous snakes, and all sorts of things that wouldn’t bat an eye at eating her alive.

So too, sadly, had it been with Carl. The birth of their lone child had been nearly mind-blowing for Gil. Not only was he now a father but his child was a boy...a boy to carry on in his father’s footsteps and share in his interests. That last part, sadly, had not come to pass. Carl was a great kid in almost all aspects. He got good grades, was popular, and was even polite...a rare things in kids these days. He was everything that any parent could hope for. However, he also shared his mother’s disdain towards Gil’s passion. Sure Gil could convince his son to come on the occasional weekend layover but the boy usually grew bored within an hour of setting up camp. To him Mother Nature had nothing to offer that could compete against his PSP.

Thus Gil was forced to compromise, usually in their favor. He’d get a weekend here or there and he’d always reserve at least three days out of his yearly vacation towards a getaway. However, these were typically lone outings. Family trips were almost always decided in Maria’s favor, especially since she was smart enough to usually plan them close to either a theme park or fairground. In doing so she knew that Carl was always sure to side with her. Gil had to admit it was hard to plan a good camping trip within walking distance of a killer roller coaster. Sure lots of those places had dedicated camp grounds. However, they were often so congested and filthy that he would have preferred a week sleeping in his mother-in-law’s backyard.

Gil was suddenly brought out of his reverie by the loud snap of a stick he had stepped on. It was silly but it seemed to have nearly the same report as a gun going off. No wonder, Gil realized a few moments later. All had gone quiet around him. Gone were the chirps and chatter of creatures scurrying through the underbrush. Gil stopped walking and looked around. He was suddenly glad he hadn’t kept any of the fish he had caught. Silence like this usually meant that a predator was near.

Gil was no fool. Loving the woods had meant learning about them too. He’d heard similar silences before. Still, he wasn’t particularly worried. A black bear would typically give a person a wide berth. As long as cubs weren’t involved, they were often happy to leave people alone. An angry cougar could be a potential problem. However, they were typically ambush predators and the stream upon which he walked had a nice wide bank. He was probably too far away from the brush and to close to the water to make a good target.

He decided to give it a few minutes. If thing didn’t go back to normal by then, he’d begin hooting and hollering. Most animals in these woods would think twice before charging a full grown man making a boatload of freaky noise. Worst case scenario; he had bear spray in his jacket pocket. An eyeful of that would send even the ballsiest blackie running for the hills.

A low grunt from across the streambed caught his attention. Gil turned and began scanning the area for signs of movement. The noise hadn’t been a familiar one but Gil wasn’t fool enough to think he had heard every sound in Mother Nature’s arsenal. The grunt came again, this time a few yards to the left of where it had originated. A wild boar perhaps? Gil didn’t think they were indigenous to these woods but that didn’t necessarily rule it out. More likely a feral pig. Either way, that could potentially be a worry. Pigs could be nasty fuckers when they wanted to be. Gil didn’t relish the thought of having to climb a tree all because he had stumbled across a nasty side of bacon with an attitude problem.

Whatever it was, it was moving. It was apparently aware that Gil had heard it because a few seconds later it ended all pretense of sneaking about quietly. Gil heard a series of leaves crunch underfoot and then the distinct noise of branches being snapped as something moved past them. Considering the sounds, something large was out there and it was no pig.

That probably meant a bear. In that case, best to end this game now and scare it off before it got bold. Gil bent down, taking care to keep his eyes on the area the noises were coming from. He picked up two flat rocks from the stream and stood up. At once he started banging them together. The loud noise reverberated off the trees. It would have been enough to rattle the resolve of most bruins he had come across in his adventures.

He stopped what he was doing and listened. There was silence for about two seconds and then a sound carried back to him. It was the same sound he had just made. Was it an echo? Suddenly it happened again. Impossible, thought Gil. Bears didn’t bang rocks together. It would have been quite the task given their lack of opposable thumbs.

Almost immediately all the tension went out of Gil. “Carl! That better not be you!” he yelled towards the bushes.

This year, for the first time ever, Gil had won the argument over the family vacation. He had offered his wife a compromise of two days in San Francisco in return for driving East through the Rockies and taking a week long camping trip deep in the backwoods of Colorado. Neither Maria nor Carl had been happy about it but even they had to admit that fair was fair. Both had promised to keep an open mind and to try to enjoy things. Gil, in return, had assured them that if the campout was a disaster then next year they could have their beaches and their amusement parks with nary a peep from him.

Unfortunately, three days in and it was looking like Gil might be forced to live up to his word. No matter what sights he showed them, his family had been unceasingly miserable. Truth be told, Gil was glad they had slept in today. His little fishing excursion was the first real enjoyment that Gil had so far gotten this trip.

However, if his son was now playing tricks, that gave Gil some hope. It meant the child had finally given up on grousing in front of his Game Boy and had decided to live a little. Sure, he’d read Carl the riot act when he saw him. The woods really weren’t a place to screw around in if you didn’t know what you were doing. Still, he was within spitting distance of their camp so the risks were low. He’d go easy on Carl so as to not spoil what little progress had been made.

“Last chance, Carl. Come on out!” Still no response. Either the child was being obnoxious, a not unheard of thing, or it wasn’t him. They were pretty far out but this was still a known camping area. It was very possible he had stumbled across another hiker who was now having a little fun at his expense.

He was thinking these thoughts when he noticed the normal sounds of the forest had finally returned. Whoever had been lurking there, having what they no doubt thought was a good joke, had moved away from the area. Gil sighed. Assholes; even in the big woods you couldn’t always escape them. Oh well, Gil wasn’t too upset. He had played his fair share of pranks on fellow outdoorsmen in the not so distant past of his youth. No harm done, he thought as he continued on his way.

Gil rounded a bend and he could see the site about a hundred yards away. Odd, he suddenly thought, where were the tents? He should’ve been able to see them this far out, especially the gaudy orange one he shared with his wife. It stuck out like a sore thumb in all but the deepest of woods. In the clearing where they had made camp, it was practically a beacon.

Oh shit! He was afraid this would happen. Bored and miserable, they had gone and packed everything back up in the SUV. He wouldn’t have put it past them. They were probably thinking that if they put up a united front he’d have to cave in and drive them back to civilization. Well they had another thing coming. As far as Gil Harris was concerned a deal was a deal. He had no tolerance for welchers, especially in his own family.

As Gil got closer he noticed that things weren’t as he had first assumed. The site wasn’t stripped clean after all. Maybe he had caught them in the act. No, there was no movement. If they had been scurrying like ants to pack things up, he’d have seen them by now.

It wasn’t until Gil reached the edge of the camp that a sinking feeling began to enter his gut. The bright orange tent was still there. It had just been pounded into the dirt, flattened actually, and was plainly missing a few large chunks. However, there was still enough color left for it to be unmistakable. A moment passed while this sank in and then Gil dropped his fishing gear and sprinted full speed into the camp.

“MARIA! CARL!” he began shouting as circled the center of the campsite. Here it became evident exactly how bad things were. The tents were destroyed and the sleeping bags torn apart. Debris was spread across the entire area. It looked like a tornado had hit. Hell, it looked like someone had dropped a bomb on the place.

Gil had never seen anything like it. He’d seen hungry bears attack campsites before. They’d make a hell of a mess but nothing like this. The thought of bears brought another uncomfortable feeling to the pit of his stomach. Not wanting to, he forced himself to look more closely at the surrounding area. It didn’t take him long. Gil was no tracker but the rust colored stains on the grass surrounding the area told him a grim story.

Gil refused to believe it. It had to be something else. The SUV! He was sure of it. He’d go there and find them waiting for him. Then they’d all have a good laugh and drive off together. He held onto that thought like a drowning man. It was the only thing that was keeping him on his feet. He continued shouting for his wife and son as he raced to where the SUV had been parked, about fifty yards hence at the edge of the trail they followed to this spot.

Gil ran through a copse of trees and tripped over something hard sticking out of the dirt. He pulled himself to his knees and saw it was the passenger side door of their Dodge Durango. Gil suddenly felt like he had stepped out of reality and into one of the horror movies that he and Carl would occasionally stay up late to watch. In the eerie silence of the forest it was almost unreal.

The silence! Gil hadn’t noticed it while he had been shouting Maria and Carl’s names, but now he did. The sounds of the woods had once again retreated into nothingness. For a few seconds all he could hear was the beating of his own heart. Then he heard another of those grunts from earlier.

Gil turned towards the sound. Less than twenty yards away, just outside of the tree line, stood a nightmare. It was nearly nine feet tall and at least twice as broad as Gil, all of it muscle...hairy muscle. It stared at Gil with red rimmed eyes. The eyes bespoke of intelligence tinged with madness. Brown fur covered the creature from head to toe with the exception of around its mouth. There the fur was stained that same rust color as the grass in the campsite. The creature opened its mouth wide and let loose a roar that sounded as if it had escaped from the gates of Hell itself. Gil’s bladder emptied as the beast charged him.

The next two minutes were both the longest and last of his life. Much of what came out of his throat, while he could still make noise, was little more than inarticulate screams. However, there was one thing that would have been obvious to any onlooker bold enough to have stayed and bared witness. During those few minutes, Gil Harris loved camping a whole lot less than he usually did.

**********

Bigfoot Hunters
By Rick Gualtieri
...coming soon!

Nov 15, 2011

I'm not dead yet

I realize that I've been a little remiss on keeping this blog as current as I should. Truth be told I feel quite inadequate compared to some of the voracious bloggers out there. Forget a few times a week, or even once a day, I see some out there who update their blog with a frequency that I can barely maintain on Facebook or even Twitter.


Well ok maybe I'm exaggerating a bit on that last one. Still, I can't help but feel a bit bad about the fact that I maybe update things a few times a month a best. However, please do not take that as evidence of my creative laziness. Actually the opposite is true. I find I only get so much time per day to devote to writing. Thus I prefer to cram as much of that time as is humanly possible into both writing and/or editing whatever book I am currently working on (that would be Bigfoot Hunters as of the time of this post).

I also tend to like to save my blog time for when I have something to say, preferably something that hasn't been said already by a million other people. After all there are plenty enough posts out there on "why I write", "how I promote my writing", and "what motivates me as a writer" etc etc.

That being said, I do plan on being a little more diligent on updating things as we move into the holiday season. Soon enough I'll start posting samples from my work in progress. In addition to that I'm looking into a few "interviews" with the various characters from my existing books as well as maybe a short story or two to keep you warm during the yuletide months. In short, don't fret. I'm not giving up on all of you. You may not come here and find "My 6 AM post", "My 6:45 AM post", or "My 7:27 AM thoughts on trying to write before I have my coffee" but rest assured I'm not going away anytime soon. Whether that's a promise or a threat will remain to be seen.

Nov 4, 2011

But Is It Art???

To create art or to entertain? Regardless of whether you write, act, sculpt, or stand on a street corner miming your way out of an imaginary box, this is a question that will probably be raised either by yourself or others. For me at least this one has always been ridiculously easy to answer. From way back in elementary school whenever I would write a goofy story or get up to make a presentation, worrying more about filling it with bad jokes than content, it had always been about entertaining the crowd. I just can’t stand the thought of being boring to people. Whether they’re laughing or crying...hell, whether they’re loving or hating me...it doesn’t matter as long as they’re reacting because if they’re reacting (outside of leaving) then that means they’re probably not bored. That to me was always the goal and as I move into my life as a story writer I find it continues to be my goal.

That’s not to say that art is a bad thing. It’s not and there’s a definite purity to be had in attempting to create it. Is it possible to create art and entertain at the same time? Of course! Don’t be stupid. However, I find the motivations behind each to be two very different mindsets, at least insofar as my observations have shown. For example; several years back I used to be a part of my college’s drama society. Once the actors got out on stage it was difficult to tell our mindsets apart. However, before the show you could always tell the difference between the thespians and the entertainers. The thespians were serious...sometimes (but not always) morbidly so. They were the ones who would go off by themselves beforehand in order to embrace their character...to become their character. The entertainers would often be more social prior to going on stage. Their main concern: knowing their lines, knowing their cues, and making sure not to step on any laughs or applause.

Was one better than the other? No, I don’t think so. At the end of the day as long as each was dedicated to their craft the end results were always good. As for dealing with the two types: personally I always thought the artists had a tendency to be moodier as well as showed a proclivity towards being more pompous. However, in all fairness, I find that entertainers tend to be the far more obnoxious of their two when they put their minds to it...and believe me, we often do.

So too am I beginning to see that difference in the writing world. There are people who just want to spin a good yarn and there are people who want to write the next Tale of Two Cities. I continue to be in that former crowd. My goal is and will continue to be to entertain my readers. That is at the forefront of my mind when I write.

Don’t get me wrong, though, if I somehow wind up creating art (probably by mistake) then that’s great. So be it! I’d be more than happy to be remembered for the ages for some great literary work I have yet to create. Just know that if such a future ever comes to pass and a century from now students in some high brow literature class are debating the socio-political undertones of one of my works...well know that I’ll be looking down (or up) and laughing my ass off.

Nov 1, 2011

Renaissance: aftermaths, explanations, and alternate endings

The Rule of Three Blogfest is over and so is my short story, Ren Faire. I hope you enjoyed it. If you missed it you can find the links below:

Part 1: Bill
Part 2: Tom
Part 3: Ed
Part 4: The Finale


Since I didn't give much introduction during any of my parts, preferring to let the story stand on it's own, I figured I'd give a writer epilogue of sorts. I think it's always cool when one of my favorite writers lets me into their heads to see what fuels the madness, I hope you will too. As an added bonus, at the end of this I have posted the alternate ending to Ren Faire.

For starters let me just say, I enjoyed the ever living hell out of this contest! It was great fun both writing about the town of Renaissance as well as reading the other entries. You did read the other entries, right? Well if not then you should. Follow the Rule of Three links at the top of any of the parts of my story to discover all of the other wonderful stories out there. Don't worry, I'll wait for you to get back.

Alright, all set? Yeah I know, your eyeballs are probably bleeding now. Sorry, I should have mentioned first that there were a lot of other stories. However, they were good weren't they? Well worth the eyestrain if you ask me.

So back to Ren Faire. I had been considering writing some short stories to expand upon the world of Bill Ryder, my main character from Bill the Vampire. When I read about the Rule of 3 Blogfest it seemed like a match made in heaven and part one practically wrote itself. Why on earth wouldn't a geek like Bill and his two dorky friends, Ed and Tom, want to go to a Ren Faire? Things like that (Comic-cons, Star Trek Conventions etc etc) are practically etched in their DNA. Unfortunately, as is the case with such hastily made road trips, it turns out that Renaissance is only the name of the town. They don't actually host Ren Faires there, and my guess would be a good deal of the residents wouldn't even know what one even was. Hijinks thus ensue.

I also figured plopping my characters into this town would be fairly unique amongst the entries. Renaissance was presented as a town of mystery and secrets. There were literally infinite possibilities for epic fantasy and adventure there. Thus, I figured that's probably the route that many of the other stories would take. Many of them did and they're darn fine tales. However, my take was to make it a full blown comedy, one in which the many mysteries of Renaissance would be treated as little more than a side annoyance by our characters.

Therein lies the comedy. After all, this is a place with a deep history. Many great deeds have been performed in Renaissance, some heroic some wicked. What better fun than to introduce a bunch of characters who would completely dismiss the entire thing as a "Bumblefuck of a town"? Of course, the other parts of the comedy are in seeing them get sucked into Renaissance's dark history regardless. Bill, Tom, and Ed are not heroes. They're just clueless dweebs who somehow manage to stumble upon crap like this, a modern day Scooby-Doo gang if you will...albeit with a lot more four-letter words.

As for the process of writing all of the parts, I'll go on record as stating I had no idea what the ending would be when I started out. We were told that each week we would be given prompts, so each week I purposely left off on a cliffhanger...the thing being that I didn't know what the resolution to the cliffhanger would be until such time as I saw the prompts and started writing. Chaotic? Yes. A lot of fun for me as the writer? Also a big yes. I also figured that stayed true to the challenge. I didn't want to write a full-on story and then try to awkwardly fit the square shapes of the story into the round holes of the prompts.

And that's really about all there was too it. I went into this with the goal to have some fun, entertain a few people, and torture my characters a little. At the very least, I know I succeeded in the first and third of my goals. Judging by the kind comments people left here throughout the story I like to think I succeeded on the second as well. Regardless, if you took the time to read my story I thank you wholeheartedly!

So what about that alternate ending? Well, if you follow me on twitter then you probably read something about it on the last week of the contest. Either way, it's nothing earth shattering that really changes the ending. I had just originally gone down a different route before abandoning it in favor of the "official" ending.

The word count limit left me with a conclusion that felt too small. Thus I scrapped it at the last minute and started over. Personally, I'm much happier with the new "official" ending, although you'll see that this ending might fit a bit better with the pace and linear storytelling of the first 3 parts. Thus, rather than let it go to waste, I offer this "alternate" ending here as is. Enjoy with my compliments.

As for further adventures in Renaissance, I am told there will be a sequel to this blogfest in 2012. I'll be keeping an eye on that. If time permits, you might just see Bill making a triumphant (or not) return to Renaissance again sometime in the near future. Time will tell...

**************************************

Part 4: Alternate "Epic" conclusion

Possession is a curious sensation. It’s less horrible soul-raping and more like being shoved to the passenger seat of your car. Annoying, but only traumatic insofar as how lousy the driver is. Speaking of which...

As my body advanced, Ed yelled, “You’re the one with the sword, idiot!”

Tom hesitated for a moment then yelled. “Sorry Bill!” as he swung the weapon. I was hoping he was aiming to cripple not kill. However, before he could connect, I saw the nails of my hand elongate. With one slash they cut through the blade like it was paper. Holy crap! Kymara had better mastery over my vampire powers than I did. I really needed to start practicing.

“Insects!” she mocked through my lips. “You cannot stop the prophesy.”

“Prophesy?” Ed asked.

“Yes!” she replied like some comic book supervillain. “Once every century the two sides awaken to do battle. This time, with my help, Heriot’s Pass shall fall and my pets shall be free to ravage the surface. Behold! Even now the combatants stir!”

Sure enough she was right. An unearthly glow began to surround the army of corpses. Suddenly there were multiple sharp sucking sounds as if long unused lungs were taking their first breath in decades. As if in response, the sounds of deep growling could be heard from the other side of the gate. Oh boy!

My roommates, to their credit, used the distraction to rearm themselves. Unfortunately they both grabbed for the same weapon.

“Let go! This one’s mine!” Ed said, yanking a mace from one of the not-quite dead soldiers

“I saw it first.” Tom replied as he tried to take it from Ed.

I could feel my lips turn up in a smile. Kymara wasn’t afraid of them, big surprise.

However, then Tom lost his grip on the weapon. He stumbled back and slammed into one of the soldiers.

“Wait!” Kymara’s voice suddenly cried out. “What are you doing!?”

The collision caused the soldier to tumble into the one adjacent to it. That one likewise toppled into the next in line. One by one, like dominos, they fell. As each hit the ground its desiccated body crumbled into dust.

“NOOOOO!!” screamed Kymara and then suddenly she was gone and I was me again.

As the last of the soldiers disintegrated, the light from them faded and so too did the growling sounds.

I looked around confusedly while Ed barked, “That’s it!? That was pathetic!”

I was just about to agree when Tom yelled, “Take this, bitch!” and shoved a broadsword into my thigh.

Yes, it hurt. A whole fucking lot!!

“ASSHOLE! It’s me!” I screamed as coherently as I could...which wasn’t much.

“Alright, I freed Bill!” he triumphantly yelled to Ed. Goddamn, what a moron!

**********

The “battle” over, my companions helped me limp back to the surface. On the topic of getting out of this asshole town there was no argument. As we finally exited the store I saw the sun still peeking over the horizon. I put my executioner’s hood back on and we headed towards Ed’s car.

We had just reached it when the sound of a motor caught our ears. Another car was approaching. It pulled alongside us, slowed, and the drivers’ side window rolled down revealing a man dressed in barbarian attire.

Upon seeing me, he turned to his companions. “See!? A town called Renaissance definitely has a Ren Faire in it.”

In response, Tom put a hand on my and Ed’s shoulders and said, “Told you so!”

*sigh*

The End

Oct 26, 2011

Ren Faire: A Tale from The Tome of Bill (Part 4 - Finale)

Ren Faire: a Tale From the Tome of Bill

Rule of Three Blogfest
Prompt:
The misfortune is resolved/accepted.
There is a new arrival in town.

Word count: 573

Part 1: Bill
Part 2: Tom
Part 3: Ed


**************************************

Part 4: Back to Bill for the "epic" conclusion...

“Well that was disappointingly easy.” remarked Ed as we made our way back to the surface via torchlight.

“Says you!” I griped as I continued to hobble along. “You didn’t get a broadsword shoved through your goddamned leg. Next time listen to me when I tell you I’m not possessed anymore!”

“I don’t know what you’re bitching about.” said Tom, “And I quote...Only the caress of a lovers kiss shall vanquish the darkness back to the abyss... Stupid fucking prophesy! Chosen one, my ass!”

I glared at him in the dim light. “Let us never speak of that again!”

“I thought it was kind of cute.” quipped Ed.

“Fuck you, dude. Just do me a favor and put a stake through my heart if I ever decide to follow some psycho ghost bitch to the gates of Hell again.”

“Gladly!” added Tom as we continued our upward trek. “Although speaking of ghosts, I thought you said she was hot.”

“Well she was.” I replied with a smirk.

“She only had half of a face!”

“Yeah, but that half was pretty hot.”

“I don’t know. I couldn’t tell with all of the pus dripping off of it!” he spat.

“Oh Relax! She was still better looking than your last girlfriend.” Ed commented. “But then again so were those trolls that were attacking the gate.”

Tom tried to scowl at us but eventually just gave up and laughed. “I have to admit those things were wicked cool. But not as cool as that group of goblin berserkers that went all apeshit against them.”

I nodded and then added, “Personally I liked when the dragon showed up and started eating them all.”

**********

We finally made it back to the ladder leading out of the mines. We climbed up and exited the store to find that the sun was still peeking over the horizon. We hadn’t been gone as long as I had thought. To avoid toasting myself, I put my cloak and executioner’s hood back on and then turned to my companions.

“What now?” I asked.

What now!?” replied Ed, incredulously. “Now we get out of this asshole town before anything else stupid happens.” With that he started leading us back to the car, but not before telling Tom, “That’s the last vacation you get to plan.”

“What!?” he whined. “At least it wasn’t boring.”

“Don’t make me deck you.” I said in response as we neared the vehicle.

Suddenly I stopped dead in my tracks as the sound of multiple footsteps caught my ear. “Guys, we’re not alone.” I whispered to my friends.

We turned as a group to find three large men approaching us.

“Uh oh.” sputtered Tom. “I think we missed a few.”

“It figures!” spat Ed. “I knew we recited that fucking spell wrong!”

“Stow it and get behind me!” I hissed as the brutes came closer.

They were clearly dressed for battle. They wore heavy leather armor adorned with furs. Multi-colored war-paint was slathered on their faces in a variety of tribal symbols. Worst of all, each carried a large, nasty looking battleaxe.

I tensed myself for action as the one in front stopped and looked me over.

There was a pause as his eyes locked with mine and then he turned to his companions and said, “I told you this was the right place! Nobody would name a town Renaissance and then not host a Ren Faire in it.”

The End

Oct 19, 2011

Ren Faire: Part 3

Ren Faire: a Tale From the Tome of Bill

Rule of Three Blogfest
Prompt: Betrayal is in the air
Word count: 592

Part 1: Bill
Part 2: Tom

**************************************

Part 3: Ed

It’s pretty hard to kill someone who’s already dead. Tom and I would have been messed up six ways to Sunday by the fall that Bill had just sustained. Fortunately his vampire physique was able to shrug it off. Unfortunately the rest of him wasn’t able to shrug off the need to whine about it.

“Ow! That fucking hurt!” he called up.

“Watch that first step.” Tom, ever helpful in these situations, yelled back.

“Screw you!”

“At last your true feelings for me emerge.”

“Enough!” I interrupted. “You two can get a room later. For now let’s get you out of there, Bill.”

“No!” he replied. “Kymara says this is the right way. Try to find a rope to....huh, what’s that?”

“What?”

“She says there’s a trapdoor in the corner with a ladder leading down...Could’ve told me that sooner!”

As Bill continued arguing with his spectral companion, we found the door and descended downward by the light of my phone. As we did, I wondered if I was alone in feeling paranoid. Bill and Tom both seemed blissfully clueless as usual, but I’ve seen enough movies to be wary of following a ghost into the bowels of the earth. Oh well, friends don’t abandon friends...tempting as it might be.

After meeting up, we were directed down a steadily descending path for almost an hour. Bill finally stopped and, of course, that’s when my phone gave out. Great! Vampires can see in the dark, but Tom and I were screwed.

However, before we could complain, Bill gasped, “Unbelievable!”

“What?”

“It’s amaz....” He started to answer when suddenly a torch flickered to life on the wall.

More torches lit up, illuminating a cavern some fifty feet across. The whole spontaneous ignition thingee was almost certainly a bad omen, although I’ll admit it was also pretty fucking awesome to watch. However, that wasn’t even the wildest part of it.

“Holy Tolkien’s wet dream, batman!” exclaimed Tom.

Standing before us was a legion of the dead, literally. Mummified corpses in full medieval battle armor and weaponry stood at attention. They were arranged in a semi-circle, all facing the far end of the cave.

“The guardians of the Kastanes.” Bill said in a whisper. “Tasked with holding the accursed gates of Heriot’s Pass.” and then louder, “That’s what Kymara says anyway.”

“Oddly fitting.” I remarked, gaping at the massive portcullis that filled the opposite end of the chamber. It was heavily fortified yet showed signs of stress as if something had once attempted to gain entrance from the other side.

“Check it out guys!” suddenly cried Tom. We turned to find him swinging a sword swiped from one of the corpses. “Crush your enemies...drive them before you!” *sigh* He is such a twit.

“Chill out, Legolas.” I said right before I was drowned out by a booming disembodied voice...a female voice I might add. Surprised? Neither was I.

“FOOLS! YOUR BLOOD SHALL FREE MY MINIONS FROM THE PIT!!

“What the hell...” Bill started to say when suddenly he was enveloped in a white light. “Kymara, what the fuck are...” his body started convulsing. He turned toward us and yelled, “Run! I can’t...stop...she’s...taking...ov...”

Before we could do anything to help, the spasms stopped. He smiled and a voice came from his mouth that was most certainly not Bill’s.

“Freedom will finally be ours.” the new voice purred as Bill’s fangs extended. “Right after dinner.”

“Oh shit!” muttered Tom. “What do we do?”

“Don’t ask me.” I replied as Bill stepped towards us. “You’re the one who called dibs.”


To Be Concluded...

Oct 12, 2011

Ren Faire: Part 2

Ren Faire: a Tale From the Tome of Bill

Rule of Three Blogfest
Prompt: Someone is killed or almost killed
Word count: 592

Part 1: Bill

**************************************

Part 2: Tom

“Where are you going, Bill? I asked as my sun-averse friend suddenly veered towards the boarded up storefront we were passing.

“Come on. Let’s see what she wants.” he replied, heading towards the oddly open doorway of the dilapidated structure.

She?” asked Ed.

“Yeah yeah, I’m hurrying.” Bill complained as he stepped inside.

“Maybe his mask’s on too tight.” I commented, following.

I found him standing in the middle of an empty room. Judging from the dust on the shelves, this shithole had been closed for some time. However, my more immediate concern was the conversation Bill was having with thin air.

“I’m pretty sure this is breaking and entering.” Ed stated as he joined us.

“It’s cool.” replied Bill as he pulled off his hood. “Kymara owns this place.”

“A Chimera owns this...” I started to ask when the door suddenly swung shut behind us. Ok, that was a little weird. But still, after learning that one’s best friend has been turned into a vampire, one tends to up their tolerances of the strange and unusual.

Bill responded with, “No, stupid. Kymara, with a K.” as if that answered anything. “This is her store.” He then addressed the space next to him, “Kymara, these are my friends.”

This of course prompted Ed to ask, “Who the fuck are you talking to?”

“Lack of pussy has finally driven him over the edge.” I noted.

Bill looked at us as if we were morons. “I’m talking to her.” he said, pointing towards nothing.

“Yeah, definite pussy deprivation.” I stated. “There’s nobody else here, dude.”

“Don’t be assholes. Of course...” Bill stopped and again turned towards the nothingness. “What? No shit!?” He blinked a few times and then addressed us. “She says she’s a ghost.”

“A ghost.” Ed repeated. “Well ok then.” he replied with dubious tone.

Bill paused again and then added. “She says that I can see her because I’m already half in her world. The whole being dead thing, I guess.”

“Makes as much sense as anything.” commented Ed with a shrug. “So what does this...”

“Is she hot?” I interrupted.

What?

“Is the ghost hot?” I repeated.

“Well yeah, I guess.” Bill replied. “Except for...”

“Except for what?”

“Nevermind.” he finished.

“Dibs!” I proclaimed.

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Ed asked me.

“I’m calling dibs.”

“You’re calling dibs on a ghost?”

“Sure. I’d do a ghost.” I answered.

“You worry me, dude.” responded Ed.

“Oh come on. It’d be great!” I explained. “You wouldn’t need a condom. No chance of getting a disease. And then when morning comes...*poof*...they vanish into the ether. It’s like the perfect woman.”

There was a momentary pause as they no doubt pondered my genius, and then Bill started walking around the counter. I heard him say, “Yeah, he’s always like that. Sorry.” as he disappeared into the back.

Ed and I shared a glance and then he called out to Bill, “And you’re going where exactly?”

“The mines.” he yelled back. “She needs our help to...OH FUCK!!”

There was the sound of wood snapping and then a loud crash. I started in that direction, but Ed put his hand on my shoulder to stop me. Before I could protest, he activated the screen of his phone to light the way.

Good thing he did. As we followed, we found a large hole in the rotting floorboards. I didn’t know how far it went, but in the meager light I couldn’t see the bottom.

“Bill, are you okay?” I called down into the darkness.


To Be Continued...