Novelling: #Drunk #Lit

I have always wondered why so many famous writers were or are also notorious drunks. Foolishly as I write this I cannot think of a single name but I swear it’s a thing. The other day I was having a particularly bad case of blank page syndrome, it was evening so I didn’t feel guilty or bad for cracking open a bottle.

An hour later I found myself nicely buzzed. And. No. Thoughts. Came.

How do other people do it?

My creativity is not at all linked to a substance it seems, I’ve heard of using drugs or alcohol to help in the creative process but to me at least that seems like a silly idea and at worst a waste of time. While drunk I can’t focus enough to even write a word.

I look at my page, (it’s already full of words, I’m mid-chapter) but nothing comes, I start reading a few sentences to refresh my mind. Still nothing, but I think about rewording those sentences I just read. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll move this, and change this word, what’s a good synonym I could use? Great, now I’m editing and nothing new is on the page. This continues for a while until I start a sentence, a new sentence. A new paraghraph!

The next day, with a slight hangover I take a look at what I wrote the night before. A) There isn’t much, it’s about half a page. B) It’s not well written, the sentence structure is bland and my vocabulary spontaneously shrank by about a million. C) It’s just not that good, it’s not very interesting and the characters are not faithful to their personalities.

So I ask again, why the hell do writers drink and write?


Balance on the Edge of Oblivion

I’ve been reading through an awesome book called; Blood, Sweat and Pixels about the insane process of game development. Jason Schreier does a fantastic job of explaining the tomultuous process of developing a game, he does this by following many different games from inception to release. As a game developer it’s both eye-opening and awe-opening. One of the main themes that is present throughout the book is ‘crunch’. Crunch in game development terms is basically when the team has to work constantly to finish the game/project before the deadline. We have all crunched at some point, for school or work. It’s late nights and early mornings, bleary eyed and caffine fueled.

Crunch in game dev is a necessity, no game has come out without crunch. The reason I bring up crunch? Well it all plays into work/life balance. I’ve been thinking about this idea for the whole week. Work and life (or the rest of your life) is challenging to balance, even if you go to work at regular hours and don’t stay late or work from home it follows you. After work you have to try to forget or destress.

For creatives this is nearly impossible. As a game developer and author I can attest firsthand. My brain never stops working, either it’s characters and scenes or code and design elements or mechanics, it never fucking stops.

For me the only time I can let go is only sometimes when I’m either playing a game or totally engrossed in a novel. Otherwise, its a constant barrage of ideas or stressing about how something isn’t finished or isn’t quite right. Or it’s how I’m doing this instead of that, why am I not working on this, or why am I just laying in bed right now on instagram or facebook or reading an article? I could be working on something!

In the whole work / life balance thing, I find I go through cycles of productivity. I’ll have weeks of consitent productivity, then lull’s. This I have learned is not that uncommon either. But I also find when a new game comes out I tend to binge in a similar way when working on something new, it’s all I think about, how do I get to the next level or the next item or whatever. Right now I’m in a lull, unproductive and distracted by other work and a game. My brain is struggling to focus on my creative projects.

It’s very frustrating.

Novelling: Endless Frustration

This week has been another slog. I find it frustrating how much I love to write but when I finally have a few hours to actually do it… nothing. My brain blanks, my creativity stalls, it makes me want to throw my computer across the room. Ok, I’m being hyperbolic but you get my drift, it’s annoying. This week was particularily vexing because I realized midway through the week part of the reason for my struggles is because I haven’t filled out my characters enough.

This is a whole other, deeper, far more frustrating issue. First I’ll preface by saying, I am glad I realized this now and not later. I’m not too far into the novel, 45,000 words is a ways but the story is far from over. Anyways, so my characters are not done. Part of this stems from my writing style. I like to plan rough ideas and then write to fill in the gaps. Unfortunately I did this not only with the plot but also with the characters. I realize my mistake now of course, after writing a large chunk of book.

The problem I ran into was my characters don’t feel different enough, their motivations are relatively bland or unrealized in what I’ve written. The dialogue from one character to another is not very different. They probably all read pretty similarily. Which is because I forgot to fill them in as characters. I have an idea of who they are but without little details they don’t feel real or 3 dimensional.

So, its been frustrating. Again, I’m glad I realized this now, although I’m not looking forward to rewriting a bunch of things (I know I will have to anyways, but I want to write the rest of the story first). Now I’m struggling to decide whether to go back and fix some of the most recent scenes just to adjust them to my more fully realized characters or if I should push on and just write them properly going forward. I’m sure every writer has struggled with this to some degree. If you have leave a comment or like. I’d like to know I’m not the only one.

Novelling: A Second of your Brain

Lately I have been doing a lot of reading. Reading articles, reading novels, reading blogs, all sorts of reading. It’s been great for inspiration and stirring my greymatter into a creative frienzy but there has been a downside. That damn brain of mine keeps getting in the way, I’ll be writing, or (more recently) trying to write and the stupid voice in my head says “is that a good choice? would the character do that? is this even worth writing? why are you spending all your time trying to make this dumb story?” It’s unpleasant and annoying. I’m sure every writer has that voice, if not you are a god or not human, or the more likely option increadibly lucky and confident. I on the other hand am not so, and for some reason it has been getting the better of me.

I wish I had some solution, I wish this a post where I offered a way out. But I get the impression that is basically the holy grail of writing… So if you also have these issues feel free to leave me a comment and we can comisserate together!

Novelling: Reading

So I took an extended break from writing for nearly 3 months. It wasn’t on purpose but I became busy and occupied creatively with a game I’m designing. Over the recent holidays however I found myself taking a break from game design. I dove headfirst into my shelf full of unread novels. I read one, and as soon as I finished I picked up the next. The first was a spy novel in the Daniel Silva series, the second was a favourite of mine, Pillars of the Earth. As I began Pillars I quickly became full of inspiration and new ideas. I had forgotten the feeling of creating and exploring a story. Rereading an old favourite helped me a great deal to think about my writing and story structure and the more minute details of the story.

I would not have guessed this to be the case, but looking back now it makes total sense. Reading a book for the first time is like watching a movie or playing a game or even listening to a song for the first time. It’s difficult to analyze something critically on a first play through or read through, or at least it is for me. I am most often totally distracted by the story (unless it isn’t a good movie or good book). I find it easy to become immersed in the world of the story and forget about plot holes or discrepancies or other issues. But on multiple viewings or readings those wholes appear.

This is when a good story is obvious, on a second or third go you appreciate the story all the more when it’s good, the wholes may be small but forgivable or maybe there aren’t any.

I noticed this especially when reading through Pillars for a second time, I could pay more attention to the quality of the story telling and writing because I knew where it was going. This is why I felt so inspired, I saw errors in my own writing or how my own story was faultering or missing something which inspired me all the more to go back to writing.

Now I have written a few thousand words and the flow is back. So maybe if you’re in a lull try taking a little break and reading a good story, it may be more helpful than you think.

PS: I know a lot of writers say its important to read almost as much as write, I never felt this was that important but now I see. But any old reading isn’t necessarily the best, reading quality works is definitely important and now I really understand why.

Novelling: Dreaded Edits

Technically this doesn’t have to do directly with my current novel in progress, forwarning. On this fine afternoon I was discussing writing with some fellow wordsmiths and we decided to compare short stories. I found one I had written a few years ago but was still relatively proud of and showed it off. Immediately I got feedback and felt an urge I hadn’t really ever felt. I wanted to edit.

I have always dreaded the edit, in my earlier writing days I hated the process. I never wanted to sit down with something I had finished and re-write the bloody thing, I was done with it. I wanted to move on to the next thing. Or, I thought it was good enough, no need to go over it again. Such a naive, stupid thing to think. As I grew older I realized the editing process was important, my first drafts (no matter if it was fiction or non-fiction) were never even nearly perfect. A great deal of editing was always, always, always required. Often though I would spend hours writing and then feel sick of the piece, I never wanted to go back and have to re-do it all over again. So I often put it off until I forgot about the piece.

Then today happened. I took out an old piece that I had actually edited around the time of writing it, even letting others look at it, and eventually posting it on this blog. I let some writers take a look and they had some suggestions. I read through it again, I noticed so many things that I wanted to change. I turned on the change tracker in word and set to work. It took several hours to go through, line by line, meticulously examining and re-examining each sentence and word and comma.

Finally after an hour or two passed I was finished. I read through it again. It was so clearly better. I hadn’t reduced the word count by much if at all but it was smoother, the flow better realized. I felt proud and reposted it to the group. The feedback was even better.

This experience showed me not only is editing not as terrible as I had so foolishly believed but it also is important for your writing. In order to improve we need to see the mistakes we make and realize they are mistakes, they need to fixed or worked on. I used to constantly use the word seem, everything in my writing used to seem a certain way to the viewpoint characters. I never noticed it much before, until this meticulous line edit. Now I avoid using that word at all costs, unless absolutely necessary.

Editing is good and absolutely necessary to become a better writer. Don’t be afraid of it, like I foolishly was.

Novelling: The Block

Based on previous posts you may know that I have been struggling to write lately. The block has become a wall, one that I have yet to surmount. The odd thing is, I know what I want to write. I’m currently working on a chapter, which I have totally planned out, I managed to get about halfway through and ran into the wall. Last week I had a day where I basically sat in front of the screen knowing what I wanted to write but the words did not come.

It has been very odd. So I turned to YouTube and blogs, what have other writers been using to get over the wall? Based on my not so extensive research I have figured out that most successful writers tend to figure out there own method that works best for them. Some use planning and deadlines, they have to hit a daily wordcount. Some write other things as a distraction to warm up their fingers and minds. Some outline in even more detail until the block is worked through.

I haven’t used or tried any yet. The block still persists. However I watched a lecture by an author and I really want to try what he said. He said to set achievable goals (it’s what he did to finish his book). So during a time of block instead of trying to set wordcounts or planning intricate outlines, set a more simple achievable goal. Write something. Write a sentence or a paragraph or a page. But just write something.

So I’m going to try that.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Novelling: Troublesome Characters

It’s been another slow week. Sloooowww. I didn’t even manage to get a word on the page, not even planning. However I did give a short talk at a local game event about character. Which I will now explain as best my memory will allow.

I don’t think I really understood character or their importance until I started writing this novel. It all started with a game I was building, which became the inspiration for the novel itself. I worked on the game for 4 months, I built the game with the help of a coder and several artists. At the end of the 4 months we had a working demo but struggled to push further. The team moved on to different projects and the game stagnated. I neglected it as best I could but the idea persisted in my mind. The story begging to be told.

One day several months after work had stopped on the game I started writing. In a few days I had the first 2 chapters of my novel complete. It was easy, it flowed through me, I didn’t have to think to write it. I kept working, slowly building the word count. Until the same thing happened the story stagnated. I left it for a couple months. Frustration haunting me.

I didn’t want to give up, I had a solid start and the story still wanted to be told but I realized where my problem was coming from. A lack of interesting characters. My characters were flat, they had little if any personality. This for me is the crux of bad games, films, stories of all kinds.

Characters are the single most important element to any story. Without good characters the audience, player, reader has no one to connect with. That connection is how they feel, it’s the reason why we remember or feel emotion. Any good movie, tv show, game, book understands this. Game of Thrones, The Last of Us, Gladiator, Harry Potter. The characters let us feel what they feel or feel something towards them.

So developing good characters then arguably is the most important part of the story you are telling. Once I realized this I got to work. I struggled at first. How do you develop good, interesting characters? One might ask.

I’ll tell you. I started with what I have come to understand as the lady method. Give them flaws and try to fit them into the story, this didn’t work. Characters get depth when you give it to them. They need a backstory and you need to really understand them in order to portray the depth they have. So first, start with questions to get to know your character. Simple questions, when where they born? Where did they grow up? Who’s there best friend? Did they like school? What’s their favourite colour? Just keep trying to answer these kinds of questions, the more you answer the better you will understand your character. 

Once I’ve asked and answered a ton of questions, I write a simple bullet list, with the character name and three headings. Appearance, personailty, history. (I got this concept from Shealinwrites a writer I follow on YouTube, she’s a fantastic resource). This group of headings really helps to amalgamate all the answers and get a good picture of the character as a person that you can draw on quickly while writing.

But this is just my process and if it can help than fantastic! 

Let me know if you do it differently or have a similar process, I’m curious!

Novelling: Never Enough Time

This week was a tougher week. I barely managed to write a hundred words. So unfortunately I still am sitting at the 30,000 word mark. Luckily though it’s not as if I didn’t get anything done. I didn’t get much chance to write because life kept getting in the way but I had time to think. Which I did quite a lot. I have 20 sticky notes of thoughts in fact to show for it. These notes range from ideas on the climax, to timelines of the different relationships and lots of other random ideas.

This is something I have been doing since I started writing. See before I started writing my novel I would have said that I am an ‘architect’ or planner. I would have told you I need to plan out everything before ever writing a word. That I would need to have a detailed list of all the characters and the plot, of each chapter and the titles and on and on. However on when I sat down for the first time to start my novel, I had done none of these things. I hadn’t even really intended to write much. I was going to jot a short story quickly and that was all. Several days later of course I found myself 10,000 words into a novel that seemed never ending. I’m clearly not an architect. I’m a gardener, or as some youtubing authors say, ‘a pantser’. Gardener meaning the ideas grow and change as you write the story.

Personally I find being a Gardener interesting, as I write it feels as though I’m watching the story unfold, rather than knowing everything that will happen before it happens. However I’m reaching a point where I need notes to stay on top of all the characters and the plot and make sure everything makes sense. I’m blending the traits, this week it was architecture. Hopefully next week I’ll have some hours lined up for gardening.

Novelling: The beginning

I’m writing a novel. I posted about it not long ago, in that post I said I haven’t been posting because of it. True as it is, I’m going to try to change that and write weekly updates about the writing process.

I have been watching hours of youtube, mostly videos of writers explaining the do’s and don’ts or the things to keep in mind, or how to write a good this or that.

This has been helpful, although a great deal of what I have been learning or watching hasn’t been entirely useful yet. Many of the videos discuss things that require a completed first draft. Which I’m still working on. It’s been a fairly slow process (one of the things I’ve been meaning to avoid is pronouns, I just used one, dammit).

I’ll fill you in on what’s happened so far. The story is a historical epic/futuristic apocalypse story. It starts in 2014 with the Ukrainian civil war and follows Anya Liski and others as the world erodes into a dystopia over their lifetimes. A bit ambitious maybe for a first novel. I have no idea how long it will be, or even how it will end. I had the idea brewing for nearly a year before a writing prof of mine told me I should write a novel (a thought I had never had). A few months later I felt the lightening strike of inspiration and wrote about 10,000 words over several days. That was 7 months ago.

That first week of writing was awesome, the story flowed out of me, I did zero planning, just writing. It was a great feeling to just write and write, no mental blocks or wondering if what I was writing was good. After that I tried to continue. I tried to write at least once a week, I managed that for a month or so but around Christmas/New Year’s I stopped. For a while. I didn’t write for nearly 2 months. I thought about the novel constantly but never bothered to write usually out of laziness. I always told myself it was a lack of inspiration but looking back it was definitely lazyness. One day, a few months ago, I suddenly snapped out of it, I picked up my laptop and decided enough waiting for inspiration to suddenly strike, just write. At first it was a bit of a challenge but I pushed on and within minutes of getting something on the page it came back.

I’m up to nearly 30,000 words. I try to write everyday, at least something, even if it’s a plot idea or a character sketch. I want to keep those creative juices fresh and flowing and once I start it’s often hard to stop.


I posted an MIA a while ago. Foolishly claiming I would keep up with the blogging and stop neglecting it. Clearly I failed miserably at that. But I have an excuse.

I’m working on a novel. I’m approaching 30,000 words and feel like I’m only 15-20% in. It’s all very I know, a novel you say!? Until a year ago I hadn’t even though of myself as a writer let alone having the potential to write a novel. It made me realize how much I need to use the creativity I have.

I work on it almost every day, sometimes its a few words, sometimes its a few thousand.

For anyone who’s interested it’s a contemporary historical epic fiction. I’ll explain. It begins in 2014 with the beginning of the Ukrainian civil war. It follows several characters from different parts of the world as the world slowly devolves, war, disease, famine, natural disasters, all contribute to the collapse of our current society.

I’m not attempting to tell the future, but I would like to think it could be a potential future.

I’ll try to continue to update as I work my way through the writing process. I’m hoping to complete a first draft before the end of the year. Who knows how possible that will be considering I intended to write a blog post at the very least once a month. (You can see how well that worked out)


The Small Victories

Daily Prompt: Write about anything you’d like, but make sure the post includes this sentence:“I thought we’d never come back from that one.”

I look into her eyes and whisper, “I thought we’d never come back from that one.” She kisses me.

We make it back to the dilapidated apartment building we call home. The world has fallen apart, but at least we are together and alive. Scrounging survivors like us are everywhere and meeting others is always risky and unpredictable. Many of us have not come back at all. Each day we survive is a victory.




Daily Prompt: If you could un-invent something, what would it be? Why? Are there potential repercussions, or a possible alternative?

I thought about this long and hard. Going through all the things I could think of, but so much of it is useful or has been in some way a progression our species. I thought about guns and weapons, the internet and our obsessions, religion and God. But all of it feels necessary with it’s absence something would be created to replace it. I was stumped.

Then money popped into my head.

It's All About The Dollars!

It’s All About The Dollars!

Humans are inherently greedy. It makes sense, at least from an evolutionary stand point. However money has allowed us to count are greed. We can literally count how much we are worth to the world. We have become obsessed with money and value and accumulation. We always want more, more money, more things, more something. Nothing is enough, there is always something better.

That kind of thinking isn’t all bad, we need to think that way to progress, to be better. But maybe if money wasn’t around we wouldn’t be so obsessed with things and the accumulation of wealth. Maybe we would think more about our intrinsic value, our value to the world. How much we know, or can do, or have done. Art and creativity might be more highly valued instead of stuff.

I realize that the world would be vastly different without money, and in all likelihood we would replace it with some sort of alternative because things have to cost something. Who knows maybe we might eventually reach a point in our society where money is cast aside, where wealth is thought of differently. Maybe our greed will shift to the pursuit of happiness instead of the pursuit of accumulating the means to buy happiness.


Death’s Shadow

The torch in the sky sets on another day. The clouds glow, orange and red gouge the blue above my head. Finally this day will be consumed by the night. Darkness, my greatest ally will soon arrive. The night is my friend, without it my work would be nigh impossible. The sun begins to dip below the horizon, shadows begin to cover the streets. It is time to move.

I walk down the narrow streets, shops are closing and the population is readying for the coming night. I must find my destination soon, there is still much to do before my task is done. I have been plotting and planning for several months, tonight everything shall come together. I am close, so close. I keep moving, darkness has arrived and with it I have become a shadow, moving quietly to my purpose. I can see candles lit in windows, I must avoid drawing attention, I stick to the shadows, I must remain unnoticed.

I am close now, the house is not far. I begin to climb, swiftly I ascend one of the many stone houses, the crags and sills allowing me to with ease. Once I reach the roof I find my bearings once again, seeing the last vestige of light dipping beneath the earth. Up here there is not another soul, save a crow which follows me as I cross from rooftop to rooftop. My soft leather shoes allowing me to progress without a sound. Finally I reach my target, the building is large, with many windows, many entrances. The many roofs of the building reach high into the sky, it is a mighty building, a castle some might say.

There is movement behind the panes, the candlelight reveals silhouettes as they patrol the many rooms. My task will not be an easy one, but I press on. The buildings are packed together tightly in this city. There are a number of possible entrances to the castle, I find a window in an optimum position. I move closer, I am reminded of the first occasion I completed a task such as this. It was a similar enough task, although I was much younger and far more the fool, inadequate planning was punished severely, scars remain as a harsh reminder. Since those days I have become much more careful.

Even a man of my, profession can find love and years ago I did. It is funny, as I look back, she did not care for me, at first. I swooned over her for years. She refused any invitation I made, thinking I was a simple thief, a cutpurse, an outlaw. She was only somewhat correct, but in those days I was a fool, a headstrong fool. As age took me I realized that she was more important. It took time, but eventually I showed her the depth of my love. I vowed to never steal again. She still does not know my true profession. After this night she will never need to for this is to be my last job, forever. I will never take another life, save this one. This one life can change so much, our world hangs in the balance because of him. I find myself caring for a family which has made me all the more cautious.

I reach the window, preparing myself for what I must do. I slow my breathing, making sure my heart is not nervous, I need silence. I need to become a shadow, shifting from room to room unnoticed. I begin. I enter through the window, the room is dark and books fill the shelves. I move quickly to the door. I hear nothing as I listen, not a footstep or a breath, I silently pull the door open. Peering out, I find not a soul to greet me just as I expected. I move into the hall, soon finding myself at a grand staircase, up I go. Huge paintings of arrogant rich nobility cover the walls, at the top I find a large oaken door. Suddenly footsteps, around the corner a light, I move to a shadowed corner and watch. A man holding a candle turns the corner, aged and slow moving, he opens the door and shuffles into the room. I wait a few moments and then follow, I am a shadow. I am the night.

At the head of the room sits an enormous bed, on the walls hang more extravagant paintings. Gold is everywhere, the frames of paintings, the candleholders, even the bed frame and the sheets, gold covers everything. I crouch in a corner, blanketing myself in gloom. The man sits on the bed, placing the candle on the table next to him. I wish him sleep, ‘off to sleep old man’. Extinguish the candle and sleep. I wait for seemingly an eternity, until finally the flame is reduced to smoke. I hear the steady breathing of sleep then I move, close, so close. As I approach the man I draw my blade, I have completed tasks such as this many times. This will be my last, I will return to my family and never again raise my weapon to another. I promised her, I promised to be there for her, for my family.

The blade in my hands, slow and steady it prepares itself for the deed. I bring the weapon to his throat with purpose and with a touch of regret, I slice it is swift and silent. The old man lets out one last breath as blood pours from the wound. I am already gone from the room. My escape must be swift.

I run down the stairs as quietly as a spectre, I am a shadow. As I reach the bottom I can see the glow of candlelight. I peer around the corner and spot the source, a guard holding a candle, with a large sword belted at his waist. I back away, this was unexpected. I creep back to the bottom of the staircase. Thinking quickly, I must find a way back to the room. I will kill the man in my way if I must. I move, peering around the corner, the guard has vanished. I move back to the empty room which I entered from. As I enter the room, I notice the window which I had left open, is now closed, strange. I reach to open it, and find it has been locked, panic clutches at my mind.

Sounds begin echoing around the mansion, I can hear movement and voices, someone is yelling. The muffled voice seems to grow clearer, I move to the door and press my ear to it. I can make out one word, a name, my name. Panic has now taken hold. How do they know I am here? I keep listening, the voice sounds familiar, a long forgotten familiarity. I rack my brain. I keep thinking while I begin to pick the lock on the window. Soon the familiar click of the lock echoes from within its depths, I am free. I climb the window sill and prepare for the leap to the nearby rooftop. A loud snap bellows from behind me, a figure barges through the door. I glance behind to see the face of the voice, I leap. The air from my lungs leaves me, I hit the rooftop violently. The face burned into my eyes, my brother’s face.

I run off allowing my ally to shield me. Bewilderment and confusion torment my mind as I make my escape. Why? How? My brother died years ago, after we had worked together, I had not heard from him. I did not hear of him until his death.

What does this mean?

Unwanted Visitors

The wind whistles through the broken window. Shadows move as if ghosts through the room. Old dusty floorboards creak as the old building shifts. A pair of children cower in the corner behind the cot they share. Father leans against the wall next to the open doorway, readying himself. Whispers can be heard, floorboards are pushed to their limit as weighty spectres move across the room. Father prepares himself, he will protect them. He will do what he must.

This was the world now.

They keep moving, searching for something. One moves down the hall, toward the children’s room. Father says a silent prayer, hefts the heavy weapon in his hands. He glances at the kids, they’re scared eyes looking for reassurance in his. The moonlight shows a long shadow on the floor, moving closer. It stops to check another room. The building breathes again replaced by an unsettling silence. The shadow moves closer still. The children holding each other’s mouths to keep from making a sound.

The figure reaches the threshold, pausing. It’s back is turned. Father leans closer, feet spread, his muscles tense, sweat drips from his forehead. The figure moves, it turns and takes a step into the room. Realization sweeps across the stranger’s face, children are here. Suddenly a mighty crack erupts throughout the house and the figure slumps heavily to the floor. Father hefts the weapon again, peering around the doorway. The ghosts whisper loudly, arguing.

Father moves out of the room, motioning to the children to stay and hide. He creeps as quietly as he can, his boots making only the slightest sound. The whispers grow louder. They are in the kitchen he realizes. He reaches the doorway, listening intently. He can only make out two voices. The door’s hinges lay bearen, the task of holding the door long forgotten. He moves his head slowly until  he can see into the shadowy room. The figures are animatedly arguing, blackened silhouettes against the moonlight. He tries to size them up, telling himself to stay come and be deliberate. This is no time for half measures.

He turns the corner letting out a mighty bellow. The figures jump in terror. Father picks up an old chair sitting next to the doorway, throwing it with one hand as hard as he can at the larger figure. Then charges the second raising his sledge above his head. He brings it down, but misses the head and the blow lands on the shoulder, emitting a sickening crack. The figure crumples holding it’s shoulder. Father turns, the other recovering from the chair. It is over in a second, Father jabs the face and brings the butt of the sledge down and across the head, the figure crashes to the floor unconscious.

The second figure, still holding it’s shoulder brings up a hand, asking for mercy. Father spits on the plea, asking “Why do you deserve to live?” He hefts the heavy sledge preparing himself once more. The figure pleas “I’m like you, I just want to protect my family.” He looks more closely, realizing the figure is shapely, feminine. He pulls the face up to see her eyes. Tears run down her cheeks, reflected brightly in the moonlight.

“I’m pregnant” she whispers. “Please don’t kill me.”