This is another short story that I am considering featuring in the anthology, but I would love to have some feedback. Please spread it around and post, comment, repost and reblog please. And thank you in advance for the support. It is a rough draft so please don’t be too harsh about grammatical or punctuation errors, but also please don’t hesitate to draw my attention to it.
Another Time, Another Place
“Dammit, Grayson! I trusted you!” Nomie screamed, throwing his phone across the room in a fit of rage after he screamed at her for invading his privacy when she insisted upon looking through his texts. It hit the wall and she hoped she’d broken it to smithereens. She wanted to throw the computer across the room after she’d found his email open but was hoping to have a civilized talk about it first.
“It’s not what you think! Tony has been the one talking to all those girls! I don’t know why you’re going through all my stuff, anyway. I have nothing to hide!”
“Using your email? Really? And how dare you accuse me of not trusting you; I did until I saw those messages, and it’s not like I deliberately went on the computer to look at your stuff! I’ve never questioned you about your privacy before, but if you have nothing to hide then why did you make such a big deal about it when I asked for your phone PIN? How stupid do you think I am?”
“I don’t!” Grayson protested. “I don’t think you’re stupid. If Tony’s wife would have found out she would have freaked! That’s why I gave him my email info so he can use it from his house.”
Nomie’s world spun and as he spoke, she started to believe his words. He was so warm, so convincing. She knew that he would never hurt her. But that night as he held her in bed, something inside her kept her awake as he held her. She cried silently to herself as he snored in a deep sleep, cutting through her eardrums.
She wriggled out of his tight grip and went to the bathroom to wipe her face. How could he do something like that to her? He wouldn’t. She knew that in her heart. It was stupid of her to read his emails even if he’d left it open. He was right when he accused her of not trusting him after she questioned him about cheating. She looked in the mirror at her puffy-eyed reflection and scolded herself for being so silly. Then she slipped back into bed to a troubled night of sleep.
The next day while Grayson was at work, Nomie tried to forget it all but she just couldn’t focus. She sat at the computer to get some work done for her boss, the invoices she had planned to have done the day before when she ran across the email that stared her in the face, telling Tony, or Grayson, as she didn’t know what to believe, how good he was in bed. But she didn’t get past typing the date. May 10, 2015. She started crying, remembering what she’d found the morning before. She remembered that the phone had hit the wall but wasn’t sure about the damage yet. She went to where it had hit but it was gone, so she walked into the kitchen to grab a soda and found the phone on the kitchen counter. It was banged up pretty good and didn’t seem to work. Curious, she tried to turn it on—Nothing. He probably left it knowing it was a goner. Or was it?
She plugged it into the charger and turned it on. There were signs of life in it! He’d never given her the passcode but she tried the PIN from their mutual bank account. It worked, but she wished it hadn’t. The text messages and voicemails she found were heartbreaking. She recognized a few of the girls’ names from his email account, and she knew from what was said that the messages were not intended for Tony as he’d claimed, but had to be for Grayson. The last one she read before breaking down was sent ten minutes ago. “Where r u? R we still on for lunch today?” It was from some girl named Chrissy, the girl he talked to most.
In a midst of a panic attack the size of Texas, Nomie slunk to the kitchen floor and sobbed uncontrollably, saying an unintelligible prayer that it would all go away and that things would be different. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to know about these things, but she wished he’d never betrayed her trust. She knew she had to leave him, but how could she? She hadn’t heard his side, so maybe there was an explanation like with the emails. And maybe he’d die in a horrible accident on the way home and she wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore. She felt guilt at her hope for his demise.
A cold wind whooshed by her, but she was too busy to truly notice. A few minutes later, she felt a presence. There was a thing standing in her kitchen that looked like a shadow that had been burnt to a crisp, but there was something sympathetic in its blue eyes as it looked upon her. She felt a calm about this entity, as if he, or she or it, was going to make everything okay.
“I know what happened, you poor thing. And I can make it all go away.”
She was desperate but cautious as she stared at it for a moment, trying to take it all in. Maybe it was just a hallucination. “How?” she asked, drawing the word out with skeptical reservation.
“He betrayed you. I can take you back to another time, another place, before the betrayal began. I can make it so that it never happened.”
“You can take us back to before all of this even started?”
“Yes,” said the crispy creature. “But in exchange, you have to give me your soul. Fair deal?”
“What does that mean?” she asked hesitantly.
“It means you can have happiness with your beloved once again while you’re both here on Earth, but your soul will be mine for Eternity.”
Without putting any thought into anything else that the Shadow-Thing said except for “happiness with your beloved once again,” she sniffled and whispered a feeble, “Fair enough.”
“And one more thing. You won’t remember anything that happened these last few days. I wouldn’t want that interfering with your happiness. I’ll take you back to a time before the affairs began.”
“When was that?”
“Chrissy was the first. He started a friendship with her on February the fifteenth of 2013. Do you remember the day before? He took you out to a nice Valentine’s Day dinner. He even went into work earlier than he had to because he couldn’t bear being home without you. That morning, they both stopped in to get a cup of coffee at the convenience store and stood in line together. Every day after that, Chrissy stopped at the store hoping to catch him and even waited until she saw his car before she’d set foot in the store. It was around March that he started falling for her and took her up on a lunch date, and when he got away with seeing her, he started seeing the others. But I’m sure I’ve already told you more than you can handle in your delicate state. I can change all that; I can make it so that they never even cross paths.”
“That bastard!” Nomie screamed. She thought of how she and Grayson had a nice dinner and went home early since they both had to work the next day, but they made up for the early-night-in in bed. Afterwards, he spooned her and gave her small kisses along her shoulder, caressing her body gently with his fingertips as he whispered sweet words in her ear. “I love you, baby. I hope I made your Valentine’s Day as good as you’ve made mine,” he said as she drifted to sleep, still feeling his loving touch on her skin. It was so perfect. “And I’ll forget all of this?”
She sighed, desperate for relief from the pain in her mind, heart and body. “Yes.”
Suddenly everything went black. She woke up on February the Fourteenth, 2013. It was the same as it was two years ago, but she didn’t remember it. She had a sense of deja vu all day but couldn’t pinpoint exactly why. But she ignored it. She was just excited to get home from work after he’d sent her a text about how he had a special surprise for her.
That night she went to bed feeling the most love for him she’d ever known for anyone. From the Five-Star restaurant to the sex, everything was perfect as she curled up in his arms and fell asleep in a state of euphoric bliss under his touch.
The next morning she still felt that sense of deja vu, but was still high from the magic of the night before to think much of it. He sat on the bed buttoning his shirt with a sly smile, He motioned to her with a “come here” gesture and pulled her in, giving her a long, seductive kiss. “Too much of that and both of us will be late to work. If we make it in at all,” he laughed. “That would be fine by me,” she said, wishing she could just lay in bed with him all day. Then she looked at her watch. “Well I’d better get going, I think I’m going to be cutting it a bit short here.”
“All right, baby. I still have forty-five minutes, maybe an hour before I have to leave. Gonna be lonely here without you.” He gave her a sad puppy dog look and she smiled. Then he pulled her in for one final kiss before she left the room. He heard some noise from the kitchen before the front door closed and her car started up. He felt so much more love from him than ever, but couldn’t figure out why. Maybe it was last night’s escapade. And he also had a strange sense of deja vu.
He was going to leave early because the night before was so wonderful with Nomie that he was missing her like crazy, but something told him not to. It was a nagging feeling in his gut that if he left early, things wouldn’t pan out the way that Fate, or possibly some other Entity, had designed it to. Instead, he passed time by sending out a few emails. He didn’t realize that he’d let time slip away and then he headed out the door, knowing he would have to speed a little to get to work in time.
It was around 9:51 on the morning of February 15th that Nomie received the call that Grayson had been in a terrible accident. “Is he okay?” she asked with her heart pounding.
The officer on the other line hesitated before saying, “I’m sorry; Grayson didn’t make it.” He didn’t want to tell her that not only had his car been T-boned by a big rig, but it had pretty much crushed Grayson’s car with him in it. He had briefly rehearsed the right words to say to her before calling, but in a situation like this, he found it difficult.
A guy from the cleanup crew yelled, “We got another chunk of him over here!” as the officer grimaced at the lack of couth, hoping his voice hadn’t carried over the phone.
As the officer explained what had happened, Nomie crumpled to the floor, screaming as her co-workers ran to her to see what was wrong. her boss drove her home, promising that he would look after her car and told her to keep in touch and take a little time off if she needed to.
Grayson’s family was notified by police, which she was grateful for since she barely had the strength to relay it to her mother without choking up. Her mother called the rest of the family and ten minutes later showed up at her doorstep.
Nomie was quiet and could barely eat. She went into the corner of the living room where the computer was and noticed that Grayson hadn’t turned his computer off. Desperate to know what some of his last thoughts were, she sifted through his “sent” folder. Every message she came across mentioned her in some way, but the very last one was to his brother who was having girl troubles.
“If you ever find a girl like Nomie, don’t let her go. I hope someday you’re as lucky as I am.”
The tears began to flow in a neverending torrent. He was the most loving, caring, faithful and loyal husband any woman could ask for.
Have you gotten your copy yet, or can you handle it?
If you love horror, you shouldn’t be without this book!
Funeral Feast (The Dark Angel Chronicles) is different from most zombie lit out there. And I have to say, I’m really diggin’ the cover art! If you buy this book solely based on the cover, you will not be disappointed. You can check it out in all of its awesomeness right here.
Funeral Feast is fast-paced with a little more focus on action and storyline than your average zombie book. In a lot of zombie books you’re along for the ride with your everyday characters as they try to make a clean getaway, but in this story, you’re waiting to see Michael’s next move. He has this charismatic air of confidence as he effortlessly takes down the undead horde with his sidearms…and even his boot. I love how author Jeff Patrick brings The Dark Angel to life. Michael is such a bad-ass! He’s immune to fear and keeps his cool, pausing at times to make a witty comment after blasting a zombie with Paladin at his side. The Dark Angel and Paladin are vital to each other. They’re like the PB&J of monster killers. And on a personal level, Paladin is my favourite. He really adds to the whole allure of the book and is the best side-kick of any comic book or movie I’ve seen. He sort of steals the show in his own way. Unlike other sidekicks, Paladin has the ability to stand alone with his presence.
There’s a certain point in this story when you know something bigger is going on. This is not your average zombie contagion. It’s something more. And when you get to the very end, you know that you’re going to want to grab the next book as soon as it’s out so you can see how the story unravels bit by bit. I have to say, this is the first time that I’ve read a book in a series before the second one is even out, and I’m definitely hooked. I can’t wait for the next one. I’m wondering what creatures of the night The Dark Angel and Paladin will be up against.
Stay tuned for my *exclusive* interview with Jeff Patrick, as well as our conversation (to be captured on audio for your listening pleasure)!
Wow! I was lucky enough to snag an interview with the Mod Ghoul, Horror Host Extraordinaire! Needless to say, it was quite exciting! He welcomed me into his crypt, which I must say was *lovely*, and I enjoyed gaining some insight straight from the Ghoul who knows best!
1. First of all, I’d like to get a little background on the Mod Ghoul. How did you become a ghoul, and where did you pick up that lovely accent?
The ghoul just seemed like a neat little thing to be and I chose to make him a combination of two of my favorite things. Horror and The Who. I played with the name The Mad Ghoul, which is a great old movie with George Zucco. I changed Mad to Mod which is my homage to The Who and the whole Mod scene that the band came out of. The accent came with that Mod persona. Mod’s were a youth subculture in Britain in the 60s and The Who came out of that scene. So the Mod Ghoul is a kind of Quadrophenia meets Dracula.
2. How old are you?
3. I noticed you have an interesting list of musical LIKES on Facebook. What are some of your favourites?
The Who of course but also the punk/new wave scene of the 80s. Bands like The Clash, The Jam, XTC, The Damned and The Sex Pistols.
4. What are some of the things the Mod Ghoul can’t live without?
Meat, snacks like Ring Dings and Moon Pies, music and a good horror movie.
5. What are some of your goals? International super stardom? Global takeover, perhaps?
I just want to continue to do my show and entertain all you lovely people. Who knows where this will go.
6. What type of diet must a ghoul follow to stay healthy?
Meat and junk food
7. LIST FIVE HORROR FLICKS THAT EVERYONE JUST *HAS* TO SEE!
Night Of The Living Dead
8 What is your favourite horror movie of all time?
There are so many that I love but if I had to pick just one it would have to be Horror Hotel. Grew up with that one and it still has such a creepy feel to it. Of course The Wolfman has a soft spot with me since that was the first horror movie I ever saw.
9. Is there anything that scares you?
Heights and religious judgmental people. Judgmental people in any walk of life.
10. I’m sure the life of a ghoul is pretty busy. What do you do to unwind?
I just crank up the tunes, sit back with a cold beverage and jam. Don’t think of anything. Well, I’m always thinking of the next show but still…
11. Are there any current or future projects that you’re working on that you could tell us about?
Always thinking. Look out for me mate Ewan MacDaddy, Scottish rapper. He will be popping up here and there.
I want to give the Mod Ghoul a *HUGE* thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I had so much fun! Great things lie ahead of him!
Don’t forget to check out his Facebook page:
You can find the videos of His Ghoulishness right here:
To chat with fellow horror fans, you can join the good folks at Tinger TV (hosted by the Mod Ghoul himself!):
Take a peek at Weird Web Theater, created by A. Ghastlee Ghoul and the Mod Ghoul, another great place for all of you horror fans to hang out.
Shapeshifting is generally associated with Native American culture and legend, but I can’t say for certain whether or not it is regarded as truth among Native Americans themselves. However, it has become a sort of mainstream interest with paranormal and occult enthusiasts, with books and websites that explain how to shapeshift and documented sightings of shapeshifters. The idea behind shapeshifting is that one can become just about anything they want, whether it’s an animal, a tree, or a chair!
There are so many stories of werecreatures. Werecreatures are generally large bipedal canines or felines, but I’m sure there are others. Maybe there are werehorses, werebutterflies, and weredolphins. Who knows! It might seem a ridiculous stretch, but to someone who believes in werewolves, anything is possible!
The main difference, to my understanding, between shapeshifters and werecreatures is that a shapeshifter does not only have the ability to choose what they want to become and can will it at any time, but that they take on the appearance of your average every-day housecat, or maybe a common raven. And no one is the wiser. With a werecreature, legends usually state that the transformation is usually out of the person’s control, and they do not appear as a normal animal, but something larger and monstrous.
( THIS JUST IN! My friend, Audrey, who is quite the werewolf expert, enlightened me a bit more upon these creatures. I had her read this because if you need to know something about werewolves, she’s the one to go to. I was so intent upon the story rather than the legend, I failed to mention one of the more interesting takes! But it’s okay, because Audrey was there to remind me. She responded: “In many cultures, the were can also shift at will. Like European legend of a man who puts on the pelt of a wolf, or wears it like a belt can take on the form. Then take it off again when he doesn’t want it anymore. Or even in old Norse Mythology, those who follow Fenris were given the ability to take on the form of his children at will. =)” If you’re interested in reading some of Audrey’s inspirational writings, you can find it here:
But werewolves, my friend…Werewolves are a whole ‘nother story!
I am not talking about lyncanthropy, where a person believes themself to be a wolf and sometimes possesses super-human strength during a full moon while staying in human form. People suffering from lycanthropy actually visualise themselves in the form of a wolf, and bite and claw at people, and when they are locked in a room they sometimes tear at the walls or doors at an attempt to escape. Some even act on their desires of bloodlust, whether it is upon small animals, raw meat, or even people. It has been noted by some that people with this affliction actually show more agility and coordination when they are walking on all fours than they do when they are walking upright. Although lycanthropy is an interesting topic, my motive in this article is to give a little background on your Everyday-All-American Blood-Thirsty Werewolf!
Generally speaking, werewolves are regular people who turn into wolves when the full moon rises. There are many theories on why someone is cursed to dwell among the damned. Gypsy spells. A bite from another werewolf. A pact with the Devil. Yes, there are some who become a werewolf by choice. Their history is rich, dating back centuries ago and from what I’ve read, seems to have started in Europe, though there are werebeings in so many cultures from all over the world. So, technically, our “American” werewolf is actually a mixture of legends and myths (and perhaps some truth) of the European werewolf, along with the eclectic mixture of cultures that we find here in the U.S.
But, as a true-blooded Texan, and I wanted to write about some down-home werewolf stories. I turned up a couple of creepy tales, along with a very special story which was told to me firsthand! So, read on…if you’re not easily scared. Mrs. Gregg of Greggton, Texas, had a brush with a strange creature in the late 1950’s. Her husband was away on business, so she was alone that night. There was a storm rolling in, so she decided to push her bed closer to the open window to enjoy the cool fresh air. She drifted off to sleep, and shortly thereafter was awakened by the sound of something clawing at the window screen. There was a sudden crash of lightening, and that’s when she caught a glimpse of a large creature with the face of a wolf. She described him as “huge” and “shaggy”, and his eyes, she said, were “baleful”, “glowing” and “slitted”. She grabbed a flashlight and watched the thing run into a cluster of bushes, waiting for it to run out from the shrubbery so that she could get a better view of it. She fully expected to see the monster pop out, but instead, she saw an “extremely tall man” walking quickly toward the road before the black night swallowed his form.
One of my favourite werewolf stories takes place in Lawton, Texas. In 1970, there was an outbreak of sightings over the course of three days, and calls were flooding into the police department left and right! One man had a heart attack when he looked out his window and saw a beast having a drink from his fish pond. A group of soldiers stationed in the area also saw the monster. There was another man who looked out of his apartment window and saw it leaning against a railing. I don’t know what railing he was leaning against, but everything I’ve read on the Lawton werewolf says that he was leaning against a railing, so that’s all I know. Anyway, he thought it was someone in costume until the beast jumped nearly twenty feet to the ground and ran away with the gait of a monkey! The part that I find most amusing about this story is that the wolf-man was wearing pants that were a few sizes too small for him. In most real life werewolf stories I’ve heard, the werewolves are just gallivanting around in the buff! I think the clothes gives the creature a more humanistic quality than some of the other tales I’ve heard.
Now, I cannot leave out the Converse Werewolf! I live fairly close to Converse, so this story hits home and makes me wonder what might have become of the creature. In the 1800’s, a farmer sent his son out to kill a deer and bring it home for supper. The boy, aged fifteen, set out to do just that. It was two or three days before he came home, and so the farmer went out to find him. He heard a sound and set off in that direction with a ray of hope, but what he found was an eight-foot-tall creature hovering over the young man. The poor boy had been eaten, and when the farmer approached, the animal disappeared into the woods. It was said that the man became very depressed and died because he couldn’t cope with what had happened, and quite possibly felt as if he was to blame for his son’s death.
I have heard about the Cleo Face, but I don’t know what to make of it because I haven’t been able to turn up a lot of information about it. N.Q. Patterson was one of the early residents of Kimble County and had an interesting background. He carved gravestones for a living, and during a bout with tuberculosis, he spent a lot of time carving things on the rocks that lined Bear Creek which ran along his property. I would love to view an image of the Cleo Face, but there’s very little info that I can find on this particular case as it is. Time had made it harder to discern the image, so I wonder if it’s visible now since it was carved near the turn of the twentieth century, or if anyone had taken pictures of it. The face could have been that of a bear, but it was rumoured that it was actually the face of a werewolf. Who knows? But if anyone is interested in finding out about the image, maybe we should plan a roadtrip to the little ghost town of Cleo! I would love to stop at little diners and gift shops along the way and collect stories about the local legend.
And here is my final short, the reason for my delay in getting this piece done. I wanted to make sure I got down the important details to this one, and I was finally able to sit down with Joe and my laptop and ask the questions I needed to know.
This happened in Devine, Texas in 1963, around midnight and about a week before Christmas. It was a moonlit country night. Joe, a teenager at the time, was taking shortcuts through fields after watching a picture show. As he made his way home, he came upon a large German Shepard, larger than any he’d ever seen. At first all he could see was a pair of glowing orange eyes, perhaps a reflection from the moonlight? Thinking the dog was friendly, he leaned over and put his hand out. “Here, boy!” But then the dog started growling, slowly making its way toward Joe. He thought at first that the dog must have been rabid; living in the country, it is not rare. And that’s when he ran, two miles back toward the highway that he had just come from. The dog was nowhere in sight, and it was late and he wanted to go home. So, he walked back toward a creek. It was about a mile from his home, but there was a lot of brush and it was hard to see, so he made a detour toward a trailer where his friends lived, right next door to their parents’ house. There was still no sign of the dog, and he was going to go through the corral to get to the trailer where his friends lived. He looked around, and was right about to go through the gate, when in the blink of an eye, there was the dog on the other side of the gate! It was as if it was waiting for him. It seemed nearly impossible! It was clear that this was no ordinary animal. There was a large post, about ten feet tall, six feet around, where they would tie the cows to milk them. He climbed the post to safety, even though it was smooth and took some effort, and sat at the top. Again, there was no sign of the dog. When he thought it was safe, he climbed back down, went through the gate and toward the trailer. He knocked, but his friends weren’t home. Luckily, the door was usually unlocked. But the dog was still lurking outside. Joe was in the living room, in complete darkness, and the dog started to pound and scratch against the walls of the trailer. “BANG-BANG-Scraaaaaaaatch…BANG-BANG-Scraaaaaaaatch…” No matter where he went in the pitch-black trailer to find safety, it was right outside. BANG-BANG-Scraaaaaaaatch….
The dog pounded hard, rhythmically, and clawed on the outside of whichever room he tried to seek refuge in. Somehow, it knew which room Joe was in. So, Joe began to pray. Soon he heard another dog. He was sure it was the family dog, a little collie they called Lassie. He heard the two dogs fighting, and then he heard one of the dogs give a few final whimpers of defeat. There was no doubt about it. One of the dogs had been killed, and he was sure it was that little collie. It didn’t stand a chance against the German Shepard. After that, Joe passed out from fear and exhaustion.
The next morning, he went outside and his friend’s mother was tending to her garden. She was shocked to see someone come out of the trailer since her sons were working with their dad at the cotton gin. He told her what had happened, and she didn’t say a word. There was no air conditioning in her house, and her window was open and had been all night. She didn’t hear the dog fight, and here’s the kicker: It was right near her open window. There were no traces of the battle, and Joe was sure he would have found blood or even the ragged body of the collie, because it was a very vicious fight. But then, Lassie trotted right by, as if everything was fine, and without a single scratch on her! Interestingly enough, it was thought that some people on the property engaged in white magick. Was this dog a normal dog? A demon? Or some sort of shapeshifter?
On a sidenote, someone who lived in the vicinity had problems with the radio and television coming on in the dead of night, all by itself. There were other strange things, like disembodied voices speaking in Spanish in a little barn. When they looked through the windows, they could see shadowy people, but when they opened the door, there was nobody there. When walking the empty fields at night, people would hear someone walking next to them…in shackles! They could hear the chains as clear as a bell, and when they would stop, the sounds would stop. Most people refused to go out by themselves at night! But those stories are on a whole ‘nother topic completely!
I can’t help think of the bazillions of possibilities that could explain any given one of these stories. Myth. Local legend. Hoaxes. Pranks. Undiscovered or misidentified creatures. Delusions. Vivid imagination. Or, could it be, that there are things out there that exist beyond our knowledge? Something unexplainable? Something terrifying? Something evil.
Ask yourself what you honestly believe. In the daytime, it’s easy to identify such tales nothing more than campfire stories to give a thrill of frightful fun. But when you close your eyes to drift off to Dreamland, or when you’re walking on a path dimly illumed by the moonlight, and suddenly you visualise a pair of glowing “orange” or “baleful slitted” eyes staring at you unblinking, you just may think a little differently.
This is the first chapter of FOREVER GOTHIC: Witchery and Rivalry, the first book in the creepily delightful FOREVER GOTHIC series by me, Joslyn Corvis.I welcome any and all feedback, so post a comment, or leave a message here or on facebook.This chapter is intended to give some insight into the personality of Marnie. I have been told by one critic that the character of Marnie was “darling”, and that the book itself, especially the first chapter, really captures that essence of teen angst and that socially awkward time everyone experiences at some point or another.Marnie and her best friend Willis set out on a journey to find out whether or not the most popular girl in school is just your average, prissy cheerleader, or if she’s really a witch.
FOREVER GOTHIC: Witchery and Rivalry
by Joslyn Corvis
“I’m gonna be late because of you!” shouted Marnie Deegan. “Why won’t you ever do what I want?” She furiously shook her brush as she scolded her hair.
Any other day her unruly hair wouldn’t have been a big deal, but today, however, it was a different story. Today everything had to be just right. Because today was her first day of high school.
Marnie didn’t consider herself to be the prettiest girl, or the most popular, or the tallest, the thinnest, or even the most athletic. She didn’t think she was a spectacular or even an interesting person. She was just an average girl with above average intelligence, though she never really thought of herself as smart. And she just happened to be goth. She wanted to make a good impression, but she didn’t have much to work with.
“Why can’t I just be perfect like…?” she trailed off, gazing into the mirror.
Overall she was pretty happy with herself. But she secretly wished she could be like Rhonda Drake, the most popular girl in school. She was the head cheerleader and had been since junior high. If she just had long blonde hair and clear blue eyes like Rhonda, everything would be perfect. She resented her plain brown eyes and brown hair that she kept dyed black, sometimes with streaks or tinges of blue, red, or pink. Rhonda had it all.
It wasn’t the expectation of harder classes that intimidated Marnie. Teachers always remembered her as she had no problem making the grade. Her peers, however, would often mistake her for a new student. There wasn’t anything special or memorable about her. Thoughts of school years past flooded her mind.
What can I do differently this time? she wondered. What will make people remember me?
She was sure that Rhonda wasn’t having this dilemma right now. She was going to walk right into the front doors of Morning View High without a worry in the world, and before lunchtime, everyone, even the upperclassmen, were going to know the name Rhonda Drake. And every single hair on her head would be perfectly in place! Just the thought of it annoyed Marnie.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at her bedroom door.
“Honey, I made breakfast,” her mother said, poking her head inside. “Oh, you look like an angel!”
Marnie rolled her eyes and smiled. “You have to say that. You’re my mom!”
Downstairs, she prodded her breakfast as she and her mom talked about the day to come.
“Just be yourself. Everyone will love you. You’ll do just fine.”
Marnie knew her mom was trying to be helpful, but it didn’t relieve her anxiety. When her mother offered to drive her to school, she nearly had a full on panic attack.
“I won’t do anything to embarrass you. No hugs, kisses, or embarrassing nicknames. I promise.”
There was no way that Marnie could decline the offer and the next thing she knew, her mother was pulling up in front of the school. Marnie sat in the car for a moment, summoning some courage.
“I promised not to embarrass you, so all I’ll say is you’ll be just fine.”
She leaned over and gave her mom a big hug.
“Thanks,” Marnie said drawing in a deep breath. She slowly made her way to the school. She didn’t dare turn around; she didn’t think she could bear to see her mother drive away.
Once inside the building, a wave of optimism struck her like a bolt of lightening. She smiled as she walked past the other students who stood in small clusters, catching up on the latest summer gossip. As she glanced at her schedule she felt a little lost. There was an upperclassman with a blue mohawk, so she approached him to ask where her first class was. He pointed the way, told her his name was Frank and wished her luck.
It wasn’t a huge school, but she got a little turned around. By the time she found her first class, the seats were almost full. She was beginning to feel right at home by the time second period came, which had been cut a little short to make time for a special freshmen class orientation.
Rhonda walked to her locker, followed by three of her closest friends. The girls were engaging in the latest gossip about their fellow cheerleaders.
“I saw the whole thing! I thought she was going to start crying!” said Cindi with a ruthless laugh. “He just broke up with her right there in front of everyone! What a way to start off the first day of school!”
“I would just die if that happened to me!” said Kristi, “But I doubt it ever will!” She began to laugh, loudly and obnoxiously.
Kristi and Cindi could have passed for twins, but they were actually cousins. It wasn’t until the seventh grade that they went from “Kristy and Cindy” to the trendier “Kristi and Cindi”, with an “i”. The main difference between the two was that Kristi was slightly taller, but when they weren’t together it was hard to tell them apart. Marnie had always thought of them as androids from the sci-fi movies she so loved; they were near-perfect annoying carbon-copies of each other.
“Are any of you guys going to sign up to help out with the dance? Everyone is going to meet up in the gym on Saturday to discuss decorations and stuff,” said Rhonda, but her friends ignored her when they noticed Marnie walking by. They were like vultures, standing and staring silently, waiting to make their move. Marnie found her locker and began to twist the numbers on her lock until it popped open. Due to a very unfortunate coincidence, she was assigned the locker right beside Rhonda’s, and wherever Rhonda went, the flock was never far behind.
As usual, Marnie was decked out in all of the latest goth gear: Combat boots, fishnet stockings, knee-length ruffled skirt and a Victorian blouse, all in black and complete with a cameo choker. Only a couple of days before school started, she had touched up her hair with black dye and refreshed her bright red streaks. She was feeling pretty good—until Miranda started in on her.
“Nice costume,” said Miranda, the red-haired-green-eyed Irish beauty, “but isn’t it a little early for Halloween?”
“Yeah, you should really think about taking off that mask,” Marnie replied.
The girls stood there stunned for a moment, and then in true android style, Cindi and Kristi bellowed, “Ooooh,” in unison. Miranda looked less than pleased and threw her hair back.
Cindi and Kristi, laughing, followed Miranda as she stormed off unamused.
Rhonda waved goodbye.
“Catch up with you guys later!” she promised.
One of Rhonda’s books toppled out of her locker while she was trying to get organized. She was wearing strange crystal at the end of a velvety black thread that caught Marnie’s eye when they both bent down to pick up the book, nearly bumping heads.
“Thanks,” said Rhonda faking sincerity as Marnie handed the book to her.
“No problem. By the way, I like your necklace. In fact, I’ve seen the same necklace in Witch’s Coven Magazine, a replica of the very one Grace Faulkner wore during her witch trial in Salem! They say that everyone gathered around her to watch as she burned at the stake, and several of the jurors and the judge all fell dead on the spot. On the first full moon after she died, the courthouse mysteriously burned to the ground as a cackle rang through the air, and bad luck struck the whole village for years to come. I haven’t had the money to buy it yet but I’m saving up!” Marnie’s feeble attempt at conversation didn’t go over as well as she had hoped.
“This isn’t one of those cheap, generic necklaces from your stupid magazine.” Rhonda accented the insult with a flip of her hair and narrowed eyes. She then took the necklace off, stroked the stone, and gently polished it on her blouse before she tucked it away into the safety of her locker. After the assembly, the cheerleaders were to attend a meeting during study hall to get organized and practice some moves. She usually took the necklace off before practice so as not to ruin it, but she was really making a show of it before disappearing from view as she headed off to the auditorium.
Marnie stood there, tears nearly welling in her eyes. This year will be different, she’d promised herself just as she had each new school year before, but of course, things never changed. She wanted to start fresh and make new friends; she would have even settled for just one. So far, things weren’t looking too bright but she still had an ounce of hope, if only an ounce. People either teased her or ignored her completely. She wasn’t sure which was worse—Being bumped into accidentally without an apology or being pushed on purpose and having her books scatter onto the floor, which was sometimes accompanied by a sarcastic “Sorry”. It didn’t really matter, because either way she felt invisible to the world. No one seemed to care about her or how they made her feel. She figured that she had better toughen up since it looked like Rhonda and her friends would be a part of her daily life unless she requested a locker change, but Marnie, being a bit stubborn, refused to let them get to her.
As she struggled to keep an optimistic outlook, she was hit by a sudden thought—This year would be different, but only because her best friend Willis Bradford was going to a private school now. She would be completely alone, but this wasn’t the kind of change she had in mind. Sadly and quietly she put her things into her backpack, which was black with spider zipper-pulls that she had put on herself, and though she felt like crying, she fought back the urge. If she cried, her thick layers of black eyeliner would smear and everyone would know, which would only cause the taunting to worsen. Freshmen aren’t supposed to cry.
Marnie made her way through the back doors of the stage in the auditorium where she met up with Mr. Higgins, the principal. He was one of those people who worry over the tiniest of things and it was apparent that he was now worrying over Marnie’s special appearance. He walked over to her and put his hand on her shoulder, rushing her towards the stage. All of her sadness soon subsided with all of the excitement that surrounded her.
“Marnie! You have less than five minutes until you’re up! Is your speech prepared?”
He patted the perspiration from his forehead with a white handkerchief which he folded up and put back into his suit pocket, but he was so nervous that the sweat continued to bead and glisten on the top of his bald head. He was short and stout and as he spoke to Marnie, she couldn’t help but notice his resemblance to a beardless lawn gnome.
“Yes, Sir, I’ve been working on it all summer to get it just right!”
“Good! Now wait until your name is announced, and then you can go out there and give your speech! Knock ’em dead!” Knowing her speech was prepared apparently eased his mind as he smiled and sat down to watch the rest of the assembly. He had already made his speech to welcome the new freshmen class, so at least he didn’t have to worry about that.
Marnie was the ideal student. She never made less than an A and had never been in any trouble, so when Mr. Higgins contacted the junior high to find a student to make a speech at the freshmen orientation, there was no doubt that it would be any other than Marnie Deegan. He had only met with her once before the end of the last school year. He explained to her how it wouldn’t have to be lengthy, as long as it inspired her classmates to take school more seriously and look at different options for a better future.
As Miss Donovan, a science teacher, spoke about the many career choices in the field of science one could pursue, Marnie began to daydream. She was hoping this speech would help her to gain popularity and respect from her peers, but the daydream was cut short as she caught her name being said on the microphone, followed by a feeble applause that bubbled through the crowd. Miss Donovan moved away from the podium and handed over the mike, which squeaked horribly as Marnie adjusted it to her height. There were several annoyed groans from the audience.
“Fellow freshmen…We are still young and have the rest of our high school years to figure out where we want to be and what we want to do after graduation, but now is the time to contemplate it very seriously.” Here, a paper airplane swirled over the crowd as a few giggles rose and fell. Marnie continued.
“As you all know, this is the most important time in our lives; some of us are planning to head off to college after high school; others are still deciding which college to attend; some of us still have no idea what we want to do at all. We have a lot of decisions to make, but keep in mind that we are paving the roads to one of the most important highways—Our future! It’s our first year here at Morning View High and we all have clean slates, so make the most of it!” Marnie paused and smiled as excited cheers rose up in the audience.
“These next four years will be gone before we know it, so study hard, and have a great time at the Back to School Dance; it’s only two weeks away!”
There was an even louder cheer from the audience at the mention of the dance. She felt quite satisfied with herself as she walked across the stage and sat in a chair behind the curtain to watch the rest of the speakers. Yes, this year will definitely be different, she thought optimistically as the applause died down.
Maybe they’ll remember my name!
I’m a big believer in names. There is strength in a name. Sometimes weakness. And sometimes we give attributes to people just judging them by their names. Before I get into my favorite character’s name, I would like to illustrate the point to show why this character’s name is so special to me.
Brett Davis. What would someone with a name like Brett Davis be like? Athletic, favoring baseball and maybe NASCAR over other sports, loves pizza and fries and working on cars with his dad. The All-American type of guy that you can rely upon to be there when you need someone, especially if whether it’s to be there at the time help you when you need a hand or a shoulder to cry on when on. He would be strong and pride himself in his strength, maybe to a point where he is so afraid to show his weaknesses. He’s masculine and does not often show his sensitive side, unless it’s to someone he cares about.
Mortimer Abbernathey. Yes, I can see this poor child’s future. Loves math, science, and reading, but is quite the introvert, mainly because his peers don’t want anything to do with him unless they’re picking on him. Loafers with trouser socks and high-waters. A plaid shirt with a pocket protector. And a bookbag so full he has to slouch over just to balance himself!
Cheryl – Whether or not she has a last name, Cheryl is a very down-to-earth person. Even if she did have a last name, she’d tell you to just call her “Cheryl”. Someone that you would bring up in conversation quite a bit. “Me and Cheryl…Cheryl and me….Cheryl said…Just the other day, Cheryl told me ….” Cheryl would be a great character, and better yet, you would never have to even introduce her into the story personally, nor would she ever have to say a word to be the star of the story!
Burt Goldchester would definitely be a used car salesman. The moustache, the cheesy 1970s suit. The beat up 1970-something Pinto that he’s either driving or trying to sell you. And the fakest gold watch you’ve ever seen! (I know fakest isn’t a word, but there’s no other way to describe such a watch!)
When it comes to characters, there are some names that can depict a certain age. A certain disposition. A certain ethnicity. As a fun little game, jot down a few names and give them personality traits and see if you can visualize them as real people. It’s something that is quite helpful as a writer when naming your characters.
Jimmy would be a young child who wants to be called “Jim” as he gets older, but no one can break the habit! Gertrude would be a very stern person, possibly a teacher well past the age of retirement. Emily and Maggie would not be over the age of three, maybe four. And Salvatore would be an exotic dark-haired, dark-eyed hunk of a man!
A name can paint a picture. It tells us gender, ethnicity, age, and disposition. Imagine everyone you know, including yourself, being known by a different name. It’s equally as important as what we look like on the outside. I’m not saying we should judge people on how they look, but that’s what makes us all individually unique, and a name is an extention of who we are! I don’t think any other name would suit Dolly Parton. Marky Mark sounds so perfectly ’90s, and now that his image has matured, Mark Wahlberg is more suitable. Even though ‘The Fonz’ was a nickname, it’s hard to picture him as an “Arthur”; the only one who could get away with calling him that was Mrs. C! The list goes on!
And that is why I needed a very special name for my characters, especially the one character in particular. I know it might seem distasteful to consider my character’s name to be my favorite, especially since it’s not even published. It’s just that naming her, I felt, was as important to my story as the story itself.
I had thought about naming her Josh to give an interesting spin on a because I myself like boys’ names for girls. But it would have complicated things. “Josh was wearing a long black dress and a pretty black ribbon in her hair.” No, she couldn’t be a Josh. Then I thought of Starla, but that name sounds ever-so imaginary. It captured this outer essence of glamour and glitz. But it was too glammy for my character. And then I decided upon the perfect name:
Sounds so plain. So one-dimensional. Nothing special about it. It’s a name that might be easily overlooked. But Marnie is quite the opposite! And once you get to know her, you might find that she would never be “Marnie” by any other name. Sometimes a name gives us an idea of what someone might be like. But in this instance, she gives the name an identity.
Marnie Deegan is a freshman in high school. She’s gothic, dresses as if every day is Halloween, and happens to be a bit of a nerd. All of those things cause her to be targeted by bullies. She is condemned because she’s different. She’s a bit of a goody-two-shoes in some aspects. Teacher’s pet. She makes good grades. And she suffers because of it.
There are times when someone says something hurtful to Marnie, bringing her to the brink of tears. And there are times when she puts them in their place, rendering them speechless!
Marnie is not shy and usually speaks her mind, spouting sassy, yet quirky, good-natured remarks. Even though she seems so confident, so put-together, in her mind she wishes she could be more than what she is. She is merely content with herself and has yet to be happy with who she is. She’s the daughter every parent would love to have. She is a loyal and true friend. She’s there when someone needs her. She’s extremely bright, funny, pretty, and all of the things she wants to be. She just has to realize it for herself.
In Marnie’s spare time, she loves to hang out with her two best friends, watch scary movies, and read books about the supernatural. But Marnie rarely has spare time since she started high school. Especially since she and her friends serendipitously gained the responsibility of keeping the streets of their sleepy little town monster-free!