Monthly Archives: March 2013

Flash Fiction Friday: Going Home to Paradise

“I never thought I’d be back here,” he said, looking down the county road. “It’s all so surreal.”

“We don’t have to go if you don’t want to, baby,” his wife put her arm around his waist, under his jacket, warming her chilled fingers on his spine. “We can just go back to the hotel and start our honeymoon now.”

He smiled at her. “I know, but I promised I’d come if it happened and now we’re here. If we turned back now, I don’t know that I could ever face myself in the mirror again.”

“Alright,” she bumped her head against his shoulder. “Show me where you grew up.”

It was unseasonably cold for the tropical island he’d grown up on. He remembered spending his days running barefoot and shirtless through the trees and down the beach. Every boy his age did that, and all their moms were at home, usually with their newest boyfriends, wearing things that were to keep them cool, or so they said. It wasn’t until the boys were nearly grown that they understood what went on in the houses on stilts. The latest boyfriend would park under the house so it would rust less when it started to rain. When the cars pulled up, the children knew it was time to go out and play. They couldn’t go down to the water until the boyfriends came out to keep them from getting washed out to sea. Sometimes, the newest ones would forget and the boys would get yelled at for coming back to the house to remind them.

Amber looked at her husband standing tall and watching the road directly in front of them as he guided her over the dirt road that was unpassable for their rented sports car and tried to imagine him as a pre-teen boy, running wild through this wet, green paradise. The thought made her smile and her smile caught his eye.

“What?” he asked.

“Just thinking of you,” she said.

“When I’m right here?”

“Trying to imagine you when you lived here.”

“Oh, don’t do that. I was a stupid teenager and this place is a dump. We’ll get through this and get back to the hotel so we can go to the nice spots.”

“I’m not in a hurry,” she told him. “The walk is nice and this place is so gorgeous.”

“This is nothing compared to the places I want to take you,” he said. “And I do have plans to take you in some of them.”

She shivered. “I can’t wait.”

They walked the rest of the two miles in a companionable silence, squeezing and kissing each other occasionally. When they got to the house on stilts, Amber could feel her husband tense up. This was their destination, then. She took a deep breath and waited for him to decide what to do next. While she waited, she looked up at the house and a slight movement caught her eye. One of the walls wasn’t a proper wall at all but a blue tarp, swaying gently with the breeze.

The door opened and a very large man with a flaming red beard stepped through it. “Will,” he said, waving to her husband.

Will waved at the giant and started walking to the stairs. “Micheal,” he said.

“I’m glad you made it,” Micheal said. “She wanted to see you.”

“I told you I’d come,” Will said. “She was always good to me.”

Micheal nodded. “Is this the lovely Amber?” he asked, turning to her.

“Amber, this is Micheal, my best friend and basically my brother, Micheal, this is my wife, Amber.”

“You’re even prettier than your picture,” Micheal said. “I’m sorry to have missed the wedding, the pictures Will sent me were beautiful.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, finally,” Amber said, smiling. “We missed you at the wedding but we understood. We came as fast as we could afterward.”

“Well, come inside and say hello,” Micheal said, and led them up the stairs. “There are people who will want to meet you.”

“Is she here?” Will asked, stopping them before they reached the door.

“She is.”

“Damn,” Will said. “Oh well, can’t be helped, I’m here to see your mother anyway.”

It was basically one large room, with parts partitioned off with colorfully patterned sarongs. There was a large gathering of people milling about, talking low, as though they were waiting for something. Amber felt all their eyes on her as she walked through the room to where the hospital bed was set up.

Micheal made space for them through the people and tapped an older man on the shoulder who could only be his brother, though his bright red beard was shot through with strands of silver. When he moved, Amber could see the waxen figure still on the bed and her breath stilled in her chest. She was almost certain they were too late. 

“Will,” the figure in the bed called. “You came.”

“Hello, Dee, I told you I’d come visit you,” Will said, moving to kneel beside her. “And I even brought my wife with me.”

“Thank you,” Dee said. “I so wanted to see you happy before I went. You were always so miserable when you came to stay with me. Are you happy now?”

“I’m very happy now, Dee. You were the person I wanted to show my new bride off to the most. You always told me I deserved a pretty wife.”

Amber blushed and looked down at her feet, intensely aware of the dying woman staring at her. 

“I told you that you deserved a good one, too,” Dee said. “Tell me, girl, are you a good wife?”

Amber stammered. “I hope so. I’ll do my best.”

“Do better,” Dee said and started coughing. The coughing fit shook her and Micheal came to take Will’s place to hold his mother while she spasmed with the pain. He injected something into the IV line in her arm and she slowly relaxed, the tightness around her eyes loosening in relief. 

Micheal touched her forehead and moved away to talk to Will. “It won’t be much longer,” he told him. “We’re honestly surprised she made it this long but she insisted on talking to you before she went.”

“You should have visited earlier,” a woman said behind them. She was striking, not quite beautiful but with a handsome face that looked much better on her son. 

“I came now,” Will said. “To see the woman who raised me and to show the woman I love the beautiful parts of the island. Quite frankly, mother, I’ve seen enough of the squalid side of paradise to last me two life times.”

Will grabbed Amber’s hand and they left. She could hear an argument going on inside the house and she wasn’t sure whether she should insist he deal with his family or just go with his decision to leave them behind. As they walked back down the county road to the rented sports car, she watched him shake off the gloom that had been weighing him down. He walked straighter and breathed deeper the farther they got from the house on stilts.

“Let’s go, baby,” he said, looking down at her with the same look he’d had when he’d said ‘I do’. “We have a life to start.”

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New Digs

Hey all! Welcome to the new home of A Single Step! Take a look around, make yourselves comfortable and feel free to take a look through older posts. Hopefully I can get tomorrow’s post up without a problem.

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The Health Journey: A Mental Health Moment

As some of you may have gathered, February was a rough month for me. Mostly you’ll know this because I’ve been largely absent save for a few stories. I won’t go into most of it except to say that I very nearly quit my job and, as punishment I suppose, I’m down to very few hours a week. Yes, I’m looking for another job but that’s not really here nor there. I’ve actually been grateful for the reduced hours because I haven’t had to call in sick. I’m narrowing down the list of foods I can eat again because something keeps making me ill and I’m having trouble figuring out what it is. My weight and my emotions are all over the map and that is never good. Coupled with some other disappointing news (it’s going to be a year of blood tests again) and I’ve been pretty down in the dumps lately.

On the plus, side, though, I’ve had a serious jump in the quality of my writing. They say practice makes perfect and, while the words may come harder some days than others, I’ve been practicing a lot. With all the things I’ve been working on, I feel like a rubber band that’s being stretched and stretched and stretched. There is going to be an explosion of stuff from me soon and the building potential occasionally makes me jump up and down and dance in the kitchen.

Copper Visions is going to be AWESOME!

I plan to have at least one flash fiction out every Friday for the rest of the year and a PRINTED volume of all of them that should be ready to buy around Christmas.

I’ve sent one of my flash fictions off to somebody to see if it could work as a script. Heh. Heh heh. Heh.

I’m learning website and design things.

I’m getting back on the yoga horse and I’m going to be doing it even if it hurts. That’s what midol is for. I’m getting to my goal weight, dammit, and nothing is going to stop me. Even if downward dog does occasionally make me vomit.

So, there we go. A mental health moment from me. I’m not going to pretend that everything is going to be okay and peachy perfect from here out but oh, there are parts that are looking rosy!

I have a “Donate” button on the side of the blog that I’m considering calling the “Make writing my day job” button. If you’ve enjoyed the stories I’ve put up or gotten anything useful from what I’ve written, please consider dropping some money in the tip jar. If you can’t, please share the things you’ve enjoyed with others so they can enjoy them, too.

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Steampunk Sunday: Ghostbusters

Ok, I’ve gotta be honest about this. I had no idea this was a thing. None. Nada. Zilch.

I’m so happy when I learn new things!

For your Sunday pleasure, I present Steampunk Ghostbusters!

This League of S.T.E.A.M “rare footage” film will be strikingly familiar for anybody who watched the original 1984 Ghostbusters. And the music is pretty awesome, too. There are a bunch of videos for the League of S.T.E.A.M on youtube, and you should be able to get to more of them through the video. There definitely worth a watch!

Showing off the energy packs. Picture found here.
A more cartoon-y version
I love fan-art, and Janine was my favorite
And a lego version? That’s awesome!

I’ve included links to where I found the pictures in the captions. As always, if you have more information about any of the pictures I’ve shared, please let me know in the comments.

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Bonus Post! Steampunk Saturday: Guns of Icarus Online

 Due to issues with Blogger, I couldn’t reschedule this Sunday’s post to replace it with this post. So, you get a post on Saturday! 
I know most of you don’t remember this post from last year talking about the Kickstarter for Guns of Icarus Online. Well, I have an update! They made their goal! Yay! Guns of Icarus Online is live and ready to play.
Right, if you contributed to the Kickstarter you probably already know that but if you didn’t get a chance to donate to the Kickstarter, you have another chance!


Guns of Icarus Online is included in The Mash Bundle at Indie Royale right now! At the time of this posting, the bundle includes Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People, Guns of Icarus Online, Kung Fu Strike: The Warriors’s Rise, KRUNCH and Delve Deeper for the minimum price ($5.50 at the time of writing this). If you pay at least $8, you also get the Parallel Processing Album. You can download the games directly or you can redeem game keys on Steam or Desura. Most of the games are available on Windows, Mac and Linux (Kung Fu strike looks like it’s for PC only).
Why am I mentioning this? Well, I love stuff that supports independent artists, no matter what their chosen method of expression, and that includes video games. I also think it’s really cool that a game I was telling about around this time last year is doing one of these bundles. I also think there needs to be a bit more exposure for Steampunk games and the whole point of my Steampunk Sunday (and occasionally Saturday) posts is to draw attention to some of the incredible artistry involved in Steampunk.
The game I’m so excited about is Guns of Icarus Online and it looks like it’s just as much fun as the Kickstarter promised. (No, I haven’t had a chance to play it yet but I plan to change that this weekend.)
From the faq:
Guns of Icarus Online is a team-based multiplayer online airship combat game set in a steampunk/dieselpunk-inspired, post-apocalyptic world where lighter-than-air flight is the only means to cross the scarred wilderness that divides scattered pockets of civilization. Captain or serve as crew aboard an airship with your friends and fly into battle to win wealth and glory. With a good ship and the right crew, you can dominate the skies!
Guns of Icarus Online will have two gameplay modes: Skirmish, the team-based PvP combat mode, and Adventure, which will be released at a later date. Adventure mode will add in persistent world features such as player factions, an expansive world map of trade routes and dynamic towns, and an economic system with resource production, commerce, and crafting that will supplement the game’s core combat focus.
Doesn’t that sound exciting? The FAQ also mentions another game I haven’t heard of before that I will be checking out once I’m finished writing this blog.
This game, while online all the time is NOT an MMO (my bad, sorry guys) though it does share a few features with most multiplayer games. I think the most exciting thing about that fact is that there is no monthly subscription to play. It’s a one-time fee. There will be things available to buy within the game but they will be limited to cosmetic items. There will be gear you can unlock at higher levels but anything that will make you a more powerful character will have to be earned in game.
The whole thing is very cool and I’m including a video here that has an interview with the developers talking about how the game works and why you would choose different types of ships, the maps and equipment you can choose from. They play through a battle and talk about how things work and planned additions. 


All in all, I would seriously recommend getting the bundle before it expires or downloading it from Steam or Desura if you miss the bundle. You can get to the bundle here.

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Friday Flash Fiction: Ashes in the Sword

Clang clang, clang clang.

The rhythmic beat of the hammer echoed through the smithy, the apprentice moving the sword slightly in anticipation of his masters next stroke. The orange glow of the fire illuminated the work space as the twilight fell outside. There was little of the town left outside the smith’s walls and few people to appreciate the sunset.

Clang clang, clang clang.

The raiders had come through and burned most of the village. They’d taken nothing, leaving what few treasure the town had to burn with its buildings and it’s people. Anybody who had tried to flee had been run down, shot with an arrow or run through with a sword. This, then, was to be the bloody vengeance the injured lord has sworn.

Clang clang, clang clang.

The people had known what was coming. They knew it the minute somebody had decided to throw a rock to emphasize the villagers refusal to comply with the lords latest demands. They were not his property, this land was not his, and they refused every demand he made for the first fruits of all their labor. Somebody had thrown a rock when he was red with rage at their refusal. Somebody else had seen who it was. All refused to give up the perpetrator.

Clang clang, clang clang.

They did not bury their dead and the funeral pyre’s would be burning long into the night. The first heating of the metal to make the sword had been in the heat of the pyre of the smith’s wife. The ashes from the wood had been mixed in with the sword in an ancient ritual forgotten by many outside the village. The survivors of the attack had all been there to witness it, pouring their hatred, their pain, into the glowing metal that would be destined to see vengeance done.

Clang clang, clang clang.

The sword was taking shape, the metal more pliable than it normally would have been, being drawn into shape by the smith’s anger and rage and grief. His daughter had been one of the ones who ran. His son had tried to protect her. She had died. He stood next to the forge, one arm bandaged to his side, intent on his mission, his goal. There would be little time after this night for his apprenticeship.

Clang clang, clang clang.

They forged on into the night, the metal being worked and molded, glowing with magic as well as heat every time it met the fire. The songs of lament lifted outside in the village, the people sending their loved ones up to the gods, with promises of peace and love and vengeance. As midnight neared, the apprentice began to instruct his son on what was to be done. He would have to gain more skill at sword-fighting, learn subterfuge and the ways of the people of the world.

Clang clang, clang clang.

Things would be hard, his father told him. But he would be there for him, always there for him, throughout the whole ordeal. He instructed him to build a pyre after the  whole thing was done and burn the sword. It would survive anything but being placed on a funeral pyre for all the souls it would release would render it down into the ash from the first pyre it was heated in.

Clang clang, clang clang.

The boy nodded, his tears running down his face and splashing on the anvil as he moved the sword slightly, anticipating his father’s blow. The sword glowed as midnight approached, becoming brighter than the fire. You know how to finish it, his father said. How to put on the handle, give it an edge. Make it a good one, serviceable, don’t let it call attention to itself.

Clang clang, clang clang.

“Bear witness, my boy,” the smith said as midnight struck. “Avenge your mother and sister.”

Hissssssssss.

The boy watched as the sword they had forged in hate and anger and grief was cooled in his father’s heart’s blood. A great explosion rent the air and, when he could see again, his father’s body had turned to a pile of ash. He took up the sword and finished his fathers work.

Then, he began his own.

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